During a talk in Santo Domingo last week, Tourism guru Peter Yesawich said that if we thought there had been a lot of changes in the way leisure travel is marketed, we should hold tight because a rollercoaster ride is soon to begin. Speaking at the PUCMM university auditorium commemorating the CICOM public relations agency?s 25th anniversary, Yesawich forecast that although Internet use has plateaued, it would accelerate once new mobile technology is in place in the near future.
He confirmed the prevalence of the use of the Internet in bookings, now that 8 out of 10 airline tickets and 1 out of 2 lodging bookings are made online.
He confirmed that on the other hand, travelers are willing to pay for expert travel agent advice. The YPartnership National Travel Monitor survey showed that travelers are willing to pay up to 20% for personalized service and customized products. ?Personalization is the new service strategy,? he says, and ?the future of the travel business? if you give people exactly what they want, they will pay you more.?
Yesawich shared his insight that searching on the Internet is all about finding the best price, with brands rapidly losing their equity. Enter the meta-search engines that track price drops and offer pricing transparency. When it comes to airlines, he says the survey showed that there is no loyalty to legacy carriers and cost is the determining factor.
The same is the case for hotel brand loyalty. Today, he says travelers can see for themselves what they are getting, and will therefore forfeit brand. ?Today people don?t recognize names. They see photographs. They search and reserve hotels they have never heard of. The amount of information online today allows us to make decisions comfortably,? he says.