In attendance last night at the HSMAI Adrian Awards, one of the travel industry’s most prestigious awards dinners (yes, it’s similar to the Academy Awards, but without the celebrities and the red carpet), it was a perfect chance to see what hotels, resorts, airlines, and attractions are doing to get you, the traveling consumer, to spend more money.
One of the big winners of the night was Hilton Hotels for its HHonors program. Hilton was recognized for all it is doing with its loyalty program. These days it seems as if loyalty programs are key. Frequent business travelers who spend what seems like half their life on the road are racking up airline miles and hotel points so that they can turn around and use them when they have a precious few days off to spend some quality time with the family.
And speaking of family, Atlantis, Paradise Island was recognized for its Teens Club. Families are key these days and resorts are doing whatever it takes to market to those who have children. If you have a family and want to spend money on a vacation, it is probably wise to visit a hotel or resort that is doing amazing things to court you. After all, why spend time at a generic resort when you can vacation at one that truly embraces children with all sorts of kids clubs, activities, and more.
Social media and electronic marketing were also hot topics. Every travel company is being more closely examined for what they are doing in the digital marketing realm. For you and I, that means how they are getting us to interact with them via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, booking online, etc. Honestly, I am not sure if any company out there is actually seeing an uptick in revenue because of what they are doing on Facebook and through other social media, but they all seem to think they have to be there and get us involved in the process. Key Lime Cove, an indoor water park in the Chicago suburbs was recognized as the e-marketer of the year. Apparently they are really going out of their way to speak to customers electronically and get them to book NOW.
The bottom line is that after seeing how much time, effort, and money these companies are investing to court the traveling consumer, YOU actually have all of the power in your hands. This is the time when you can be picky about how and where you travel. There are really so many choices out there that it pays to take the time to decide exactly what it is that you want from your next vacation, do the research, and give your travel dollars to a company who is going to give you EXACTLY what you want. With the economy the way it is today — and the price of gas getting higher every day (of course just in time for spring and summer travel) — when you do go on vacation, it should be everything you want and more!
Long gone are the days of cookie-cutter travel and the road trip to see Aunt Mary with the stays at the roadside motels along the way. Travel has gotten so much more personalized, sexier, interesting, and fun and when you think about it, there’s never been a better time to just pack up and go!