It’s an honor to salute our 2008 Trendsetter Award-winning agents in this issue’s cover story. With the industry facing tough challenges in the months ahead, these agents provide us with great examples of the hard work, creativity and dedication that it takes to succeed.
The other day, TravelAge West staff members were comparing notes on our recent travels. We all noticed how busy airports are this summer; all of our flights have either been packed to capacity or overbooked. Despite the doom and gloom in the media, it appears that consumers are still traveling. In fact, USA Today recently published a survey showing that more than 70 percent of consumers plan to travel the same or more this summer.
Likewise, there’s a survey currently posted on TravelAgeWest.com’s research page (TravelAgeWest.com/Research), conducted by the Travel Industry Association and Ypartnership, that addresses the notion of the "staycation." This was supposed to be a big summer for the stay-at-home vacation; however, according to the survey, it may be more hype than reality. Only 9 percent of respondents said they were considering a staycation in the next six months. Furthermore, 22 percent of those who are considering one said they still plan on staying at a hotel or resort (just closer to home).
My sense, based on surveys like these, discussions with suppliers and other anecdotal evidence, is that this summer is not shaping up to be as bad for the travel industry as some experts had thought.
Regardless of how summer travel is going, there’s no doubt that today’s consumer is being squeezed by a number of different factors, which makes fall a more important time than ever for agents to present clients with value-added packages and special offers. Luckily, there are some excellent deals out there. In Hawaii, for instance, there are three- and four-star hotels with incredible savings, and tour operators to the islands seem to be announcing new promotions every day, each one better than the last. And these offers more than make up for the increase in airfare. In fact, when compared to previous years — even with the increase in the cost of getting there — it can actually be less expensive to visit Hawaii this fall.
We would love to hear about your experience this summer. Do you see these trends in your business? Are you worried about the fall? Please write to Letters@travelagewest.com and let us know.