Hotel Marketing Podcast Episode 223 – Forget COVID, It’s All About the Economy

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Welcome to the TravelBoom Short Fuze!  This is a bite-size episode of the Hotel Marketing Podcast that gives you the data to make smarter decisions.  In today’s episode, we cover James Carvelle’s famous quote, “It’s the economy stupid.” James was talking about the 1992 presidential election, but his words ring true for those in the travel space today.  

Here’s the situation.  In our latest edition of the Leisure Travel Trends Study, one fact stood out above all others.  Only 13.5% of travelers consider COVID to be a significant influence on their travel plans.  That’s right, 86% don’t really care.  This is great right, we can all go on our merry way and get back to where we were before.  Not so fast, because just as we slayed one boogyman, another one rises to take its place.

What’s that new boogyman?  It’s the economy stupid! Every metric measured in the study points to consumers being nervous and changing their travel behavior due to rising costs and a less secure economy.

Where COVID stands in the traveler’s mind.

Since our last major leisure travel study in 2019, the world has changed considerably and COVID has created major changes in traveler behavior.

For the past three years, the pandemic has rocked the travel world. However, now that the storm has largely passed, it is important for hoteliers to remember that a portion of the population is still very concerned about COVID. The level of concern varies significantly based on demographics and traveler location.

Economic uncertainty is shaking leisure travel confidence.

The data is clear, customers are less confident today due to rising prices and uncertainty.  We asked our respondents to indicate the top three reasons they would not be traveling.  Budget concerns, transportation costs, and lodging costs were far and away the most important factors.  On top of that of respondents who had already booked a vacation, 35.9% indicated that higher travel costs would make them consider canceling their already-booked vacation.

How Hoteliers Can Succeed In A Recession

As a rule of thumb, you do not want to cut rate in a down economy.  Your expenses are increasing, vacancy is growing, and reducing your RevPAR would be a recipe for disaster.  Our suggestion?  Be the best hotelier you can be, offer an amazing product, and market smarter than your competitors.  

We have a library of great ways a hotelier can succeed in the past 222 episodes.  Today we are going to look at a few specific items that are related to our Leisure Travel Trends Study.

  • Have an insanely good communications strategy.  If 35.9% of your reservations may cancel, you need to keep selling right through the guest stay and beyond. Listen to episode 221 for more information.
  • Consider a loyalty program. 60% of loyalty program members say they influence their booking decision. If a loyalty program is possible for a property, or group of properties, the savvy hotelier will fully explore these options.
  • Audit your conversion funnel. 91% of those 35 and younger book vacations online, and that number is growing. Nearly three-quarters of people across demographics book online.
  • Sell value, sell experience, sell “time.”  Don’t race to the bottom of offering discounts on top of discounts.  Instead, maximize value, promote exclusive amenities, and drive the experience a guest will enjoy through the roof.
  • Don’t lose revenue with stupid mistakes. Check your OTA rate parity, and make sure you’re available everywhere a consumer would look when booking.  Don’t be the lazy marketer who stands around and waits for guests to walk in the door.

Download your free copy of the 2022 Leisure Travel Trends Study by TravelBoom here!

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