Leisure Guests Crave Experience, Demand Value

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Perhaps it's a sense of fatalism, given the state of the economy, politics, world events and more, but an increasing number of leisure travelers are motivated to get the most out of their vacation time: the most experiences and the most value for their money. These are the core findings of new research from Ypartnership/Harrison group that give hotel operators a road map to more effective marketing, packaging, rate management and service offerings.

The survey of 2,500 adults found a sense of “new resourcefulness” in face of uncertain economic times. Because Americans treasure their leisure and vacation time (the study shows travel as second only in importance to family), they're “more determined than ever to obtain the most value from their travel purchases—though their definition of this is no longer based on price alone.”

That's where it can get tricky for the modern hotel marketer. No longer do simple 10%-off promotions work as well as they once did. Indeed, about two-thirds of travelers in the study say they're willing to pay full price if they're guaranteed the quality and service they believe they deserve. The hard part is figuring out how to deliver that quality and service that's meaningful to the most number of guests and is perceived as justifying the price they're paying.

Of course, the Internet is behind much of this shift in consumer vigilantism. An astonishing (to me, anyway) 61% of travelers in the study consult TripAdvisor before booking a hotel reservation, and one-third of them visited an online community, travel forum or blog in the past 12 months to check out a destination or traveler supplier. (And this wasn't a survey of Gen X and Y slackers. The sample covered Americans with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more who took at least one leisure trip with a hotel stay in the previous year.)

These findings should reinforce your awareness of the Internet, and social media in particular, as the central cog in your guest marketing efforts. Today's guests are savvy, determined and unlikely to be fooled by hype, flash or false claims.

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