Most of today’s challenges in the travel industry come in the form
of permanent changes: Travelers’ habits have changed and I don’t
think we will see a return to their behaviors of the past.
There are six tenets of change the industry can and must
consider to help ensure a bright future:
Stop complaining. Despite the turbulence since 9/11, this is not
the first time the industry has been confronted with disruptive
events. Best of all, the travel business still has a lot of
Advertise. Figure out how to effectively fund the effort to
promote this country to foreign tourists. Foreign countries that
compete with us for tourists are spending millions on coordinated
advertising and it is working.
Get out of the tax collector role. There is no doubt that
travelers are a plump target for tolls and a minimal threat at the
polls. But we have enough challenges without becoming the taxman’s
pipeline to the traveler’s wallet.
Ensure that travelers get value, for that will be a direct
catalyst for the consumer’s decision to start planning another
Recognize the diverse segments of the market and tailor your
offerings. The marketplace is changing and the needs and
preferences of travelers will change too. Those who fail to see
these changes coming are destined to lose out to those who do.
Collaborate to connect all the segments of the industry because
a successful trip generally requires that multiple products
Excerpts from the keynote address by AAA President and CEO
Robert L. Darbelnet at the Travel Industry Association’s 2003
Marketing Outlook Forum in October in Austin.