Feb. 12–Peter Yesawich reserved a plane ticket to Hilton Head Island and picked his seat from his mobile phone.
Just for kicks, he later went back and changed his seat — also on his phone.
He did so to demonstrate to area business leaders how factors such as mobility and personalization are changing the travel industry.
Yesawich is chairman and CEO of Ypartnership, a global travel, leisure and entertainment marketing firm based in Orlando, Fla.
He spoke Thursday about the future of tourism during an event organized by the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce at the Crowne Plaza Resort.
Although the recession has changed our travel habits, plenty of profit awaits companies able to recognize and adapt to the latest lifestyle, demographic and technological trends, he said.
"The business is there," he said. "You have to be creative in how you get it."
Highlights from Yesawich’s presentation:
–As travelers increasingly go online to look for and make reservations, they’re becoming "brand agnostic," and companies are having to succumb to "pricing transparency."
Catering to that clientele, search engines such as kayak.com survey multiple sites to find deals on hotels, cars, flights and the like.
–While many travelers use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, they don’t often use them to plan trips — at least not yet.
"I want to disabuse you of the notion everybody’s doing it."
As that changes, businesses should be sensitive to what consumers are saying about them online because those opinions influence others.
Sites such as twitrratr.com, twendz.com and chatmine.com can help you stay on top of what the world is saying about you.
–Only a fifth of mobile phone handsets today are capable of accessing the Internet, but that fraction is poised to increase dramatically.
That presents opportunities for consumers to scan bar codes on ads or products to get more information or compare prices. RedLaser, an application for that purpose, is available for Apple’s iPhone, for example.
The impending increase in the use of so-called "smartphones" also presents opportunities for businesses to do "intercept marketing" by sending coupons to entice nearby travelers or offering "flash sales" for a limited time to loyal customers.
–The rise of e-mail has added an hour to the average workday, increasing travelers’ desire to get away for "speed vacations" that allow them to "hurry up and relax."
"Time is the commodity of greatest value."
–To combat the recession, many tourism-related businesses began to offer deals in the fall of 2008, but not all did so effectively.
People don’t need to be coaxed into traveling, but are cutting back on how long they stay, meaning tourism businesses such as hotels should focus their energies on giving consumers a reason to stick around.
"Spend your money and your creativity on trying to add that night back."
–Hilton Head Island’s tourists tend to be affluent, but they’re also value-oriented.
"These are folks that make a lot of money, but they want the free breakfast."
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