Six Tenets for Successful Change

Opinions: Embracing change is crucial for success in the travel industry.

By: Robert L. Darbelnet

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 upside.

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 vacation.

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 interface smoothly.

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.