Things That Make You Go Hmmm…

USTA’s Marketing Outlook Forum, TEAMS and our state’s conference on tourism were on my calendar this past month. MOF was generally positive with the outlook on travel for 2011. Unemployment is lowering for those with Bachelors or higher. Those are the people that travel! 55% of adults are planning a trip by April, 2011. And Smith Travel expects gains in demand, occupancy, ADR and RevPar in 2011!

It was the more marketing related nuggets that made me go hmmm. One was exactly what I was looking for. One helped me proclaim “I knew it!” A couple made me ponder how we tweak what we’re doing. And one made me consider changing careers! My top five ‘ahas’ from this fall’s sessions – November’s Five @ 5:

1. It’s good news but… don’t get overly excited about the news above. Peter Yesawich shared Americans are watching their wallets by “trading down, not out.” They’re traveling and the expected number of over night trips next year are projected to be up 2% but that’s ‘TRIPS’. They’re ‘trading down’ by shortening their trips by a night. “The key the next 18 months is recapturing that lost night!”

2. Value is vogue… 36% of Americans are using more coupons. 35% of Americans are waiting until things go on sale. 89% say room rate is most important when choosing a hotel. (53% say brand.) Most important travel website functions? Ability to check the lowest fares (83%), a low price guarantee (82%) and ability to compare fares (78%). Do you offer coupons, deals, or sales?

3. Social media is king… and now we know how to measure it! All we’ve heard for two years is social media but how do we measure our success? The number of active fans, the number of impressions, the number of followers, the number of planned posts, the number of campaigns and the number of paid ads. (The speaker offered measurements for search, web and mobile too. Hit reply and let me know if you want them.)

4. Social… BUT! Only 6% of travelers are basing their decision on social media. (Yesawich) Those ‘fans’ of yours are people that have opt-ed in declaring ‘sell to me’! But “never before have we had this access to the customer but been so difficult to influence them.” The “goal is to get those followers out of Facebook and into your database.” Drive them to the website and get them to tell you who they are. Learn their preferences and them sell them what they want.

5. Speaking of websites… Bill Geist nearly made me quit when he shared only 27% of travelers go to a destination’s website. I had just issued an RFP for a new website and now I hear 3 out of 4 aren’t going to go to it? Trip Advisor, Expedia, Facebook, even Google can’t tell everything about your destination. You can! So populate where 3 out of 4 are getting info and drive them to your site. And remember, this is the mobile decade. Mobile is projected to pass PC usage in 2014. Your website must begin to work with mobile, social and search!

Motivating or depressing? Probably changed the to do list a tad. They’re coming and they’re looking for that experience – a performance (66%), a museum – 40% of museums’ traffic is up, 90% are looking for girlfriend getaways. We just have to keep changing how we suggest to them where to go. And perhaps we should look at our neighbors, those in church and rotary and scouts with us. 84% of travelers base their decisions on family and friends. Are the family and friends in your destination helping sell your destination?

Hope you have a great November!

(Originally posted November 2010)

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