TRAVEL BY LAND ECLIPSES AIR
PHOENIX – With higher airfares and a slumping economy, many individuals are making the choice to forego vacations and select business trips leaving the hotel industry to reinvent their marketing tactics.
While airline travelers have been the focus of most travel marketing, recent analysis suggests that the hotel industry should keep their nose to the ground.
Hospitality experts, Renie Cavallari, CEO of Phoenix-based Aspire, and Chicke Fitzgerald, CEO of Tampa, Fla.-based Solutionz Group, believe hoteliers are overlooking the non-air traveler with their resort marketing.
According to Fitzgerald, for every airline trip taken in the United States, there are 10 trips taken by car. “These true road warriors are an untapped market,” said Cavallari. “They are a very important segment for the hospitality industry to focus strategically.”
There are some other facts to this resort marketing litmus test."
Discovering the "Drive" Market
Travel surveys today are submitted by the air traveler, not the land traveler. One relatively unknown statistic that should turn heads is that 44 percent of the drive market has $100,000-plus incomes.
People with disposable income have the time to travel by car and are going to continue this pattern as airlines increase fees and airports add security procedures.
Traveling by car, including daytrips, represents 86 percent of the U.S. travel market and 73 percent not including day trips.
The classification of airline travelers are categorized into two groups --business and leisure -- while the drive travelers are not, thus leaving this demographic lost in translation when it comes to marketing to them.
Twenty-four percent of road travelers stay at upscale properties.
If the airline industry expects a 10 percent reduction in air travel, hotels can expect a four percent reduction in heads-in-beds if not paying attention to how they market themselves.
Fitzgerald offers her latest advice for industry executives on taking advantage of the drive market with her recent white paper, “Are you Reaching the Forgotten Mass Market?”
Tips for Hotels and Resort Marketing
Multi-brand hotel companies should cater to the multi-day trip planners and inquire if customers need lodging along the way to their final destination.
Don’t assume that your hotel is the traveler’s choice of destination. Hotels should seek why their customers chose the hotel; it could be because it was the closest to a particular location, event or business.
Hotels should reinvent their customer questioning during check-in or check-out. Reservation and front desk agents should ask about the travel of these particular guests, and who are they traveling with so they can individualize their customer service.
Forget classifying your guests. Instead, realize that each traveler has different needs when traveling. For example, a traveler has different needs when he/she is traveling with family, girlfriend getaway, romantic getaway, or with their parents.
Hotel market research should include seeing where potential guests would be coming from on one tank of gas.
Have hotel bellmen equipped to unload items, such as coolers and child necessities, in addition to luggage.
“Hotels need to revolutionize their marketing approach with tactics including the operations level so that they cater to the drive market,” Cavallari said. “Focus should center on the context of how they will deliver customer service to the various needs of today's auto traveler.”
Aspire is an international training and consulting company positioning organizations to achieve and sustain optimum performance. Aspire provides innovative learning, strategic marketing, leadership training and cultural alignment for increasing revenues, growth in market share, a re-energized sales force and lasting changes in attitudes and outcome. Founded in 1995, Aspire has headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz. with a network of inspiring professionals across the country. For further information, visit www.aspiremarketing.com.
About The Solutionz Group
The Solutionz Group provides growth-oriented consulting across the broad range of industries. The Solutionz Group focus is on the travel industry, with expertise in multi- channel distribution, RFP management and business design extending capabilities to GPS/navigation and financial services, technology and telecommunications firms. For further information, visit www.solutionz.com.