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Tourism Trend Tracker Newsletter April 2009


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This is the April 2009 edition of the Luckie & Company produced Tourism Trend Tracker newsletter. It is a quick topical snapshot of general trends, social media and traditional advertising in the travel/tourism marketplace for April. For more information or back issues, visit

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Tourism Trend Tracker Newsletter April 2009

  1. 1. Aficionados of the world of Archie comics are accustomed to seeing rich Veronica Lodge talk about her wealth; her best friend, Betty Cooper; and her red-headed paramour, Archie Andrews. Some readers might be taken aback to hear the teen wax eloquent about something else: the Riviera Resort & Spa in Palm Springs, Calif. “Betty, this place is awesome!” the brunette teen coos in a recent edition. “Luxury at its finest!” The Riviera didn’t pay for the placement, but its appearance in Betty And Veronica Digest No. 193 is the result of an informal marketing partnership between the hotel and Archie Comic Publications. Future stories in the works focus on the teens visiting the famous Abbey Road studio in the U.K. and celebrating the coming 40th anniversary of Woodstock. Each of these events could give Archie a tie-in to a place or an event that would drive publicity. “We’re not looking to really get anything out of it,” said Victor Gorelick, Archie co-president. “Being able to have the characters go to some of these famous places is great for us. It gives our readers a little education, they turn out to be fun stories, and it’s good publicity for the area.” Source: 2
  2. 2. Apple Core Hotels, which include half a dozen properties in the New York City area, such as the Red Roof Inn, is offering customers a layaway payment plan. Future guests can put $20 down on a booking, and then pay what they want until settling the whole bill. “If the price goes up between now and the time of the visit, you still pay the lower rate,” explains Vijay Dandapani, president of Apple Core. “And if the price goes down, we’ll work with the customer. People are going through tough times.” Source: 3
  3. 3. Going on a Peruvian trip takes on new meaning as ayahuasca, a plant found in the country’s Amazon jungle, is luring new-age tourists with its hallucinogenic powers. Drinking the ayahuasca concoction, made from boiling vines and bark until it becomes a brown sludge, helps users reach a state of ecstasy that allows for a greater level of spirituality and creativity. The plant’s side effects (vomiting, diarrhea, nightmares) act as a deterrent for recreational drug users, but many answer-seeking Westerners are spending thousands of dollars for jungle lodging and the benefit of having a practiced shaman on hand to guide them through the spiritual ritual. Spiritual tourism is a niche travel activity aimed at enhancing people’s belief systems in the picturesque backdrops of Africa, Peru, India and other locales. Soul seekers are becoming more willing to part with their hard-earned dollars if they believe traveling to distant locales and partaking in native rituals will improve their sense of spirituality. Source: Iconoculture 4
  4. 4. Like in any business transaction, online travel purchasers want to see one thing clearly: the bottom line. In the latter half of 2009, new pricing tools will automatically include add-on fees in online ticket quotes. Airline booking companies Sabre Holdings Corp and Amadeus IT Group SA have developed a new tool that will allow users to check additional services they want to add to their flight (premium seats, checked bags) and then compare final prices for each airline. Earlier efforts to aggregate fees by services like TripAdvisor and FlyingFees exist, but still leave a lot of the math work up to the traveler. Visibility and clarity are travel essentials, before, during and after takeoff. Additional bags, premium seating, taxes, surcharges and pet poodle on board are all part of a growing list of add-on fees and options, which makes it difficult for passengers to have confidence they got the best deal. Source: Iconoculture 5
  5. 5. Every winter, millions of orange and black monarchs travel more than 2,700 miles from the U.S. and Canada to Mexico. And tourists are following. Outside the towns of Angangueo and Ocampo in Morelia, Michoacán, rows of merchants selling everything from food to monarch- emblazoned souvenirs serve as a commercial prelude to a plethora of these winged creatures, swarming over 100-foot-tall trees and open fields. Nearby Mexico still remains one of the least expensive foreign destinations for travelers. Ecotourists spending their dollars to experience unique wildlife charms also ensure that residents will go to appropriate lengths to protect their natural treasures. Source: Iconoculture 6
  6. 6. Fighting for consumers’ devotion in a cutthroat market, Travelocity has tapped syndication technology provider Conduit to offer travelers a browser-based “community toolbar” through which they can access free add-on services, including driving directions, language translations, currency conversion, flight status and travel support. On the new toolbar, a “Flights” button notifies users of top deals, Web fares, low fares and last-minute packages. “Hotels” and “Vacations” buttons alert users to top deals and trip ideas, while a “Travel Gadgets” button enables users to book flights, hotels, cruises and car rentals for up to four destinations at once. “This community toolbar is an easy way for travelers to get the most up-to-date information,” said Victoria Treyger, CMO, Travelocity. The Conduit network helps publishers to syndicate their content and applications directly to a user’s browser. Source: Online Media Daily 7
  7. 7. Victims of the economy are being offered discounts on airfare, lodging, cruises and ski-lift tickets. Tourism merchants say the bargains won’t end their industry’s skid, but it’s a very nice step. Pink slip travelers? Furlough tourists? Jobless vacationers? Call them what you may, they are a surprising new target for travel bargains aimed at the unemployed, the furloughed and jittery workers fearful of being laid off. Discounts are nothing new during tough economic times, but airlines, hotels, resorts and other tourism merchants are going a step further, exploring a market long considered a tough one to crack. The deals began to surface in February with offers by JetBlue Airways and a British airline to refund fares for travelers who had recently been laid off. Since then, other businesses have jumped in with discounted ski-lift tickets for furloughed California state employees, free hotel stays for recently laid-off workers and “job loss” insurance for cruise passengers. More than 810 state employees have taken advantage of $30 lift tickets (a 62% discount) offered at the Squaw Valley USA ski resort for workers who have been furloughed for one or two days per month under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s budget cuts. Source: Los Angeles Times 8
  8. 8. Hilton Family of Hotels has signed Samantha Goldberg, star of the Style Network’s Whose Wedding Is It Anyway, to create a new wedding planning Web site, “Guestiquette.” It will offer tips and access to the Hilton Family’s signature online group booking tool at the Web site for brides to book and manage their guest hotel accommodations online. The online group booking tool allows bookings of 5 to 25 rooms online with real-time inventory across the Hilton family of hotels. The company says the group-booking tool is for North American Hilton group hotels and will be extended to the U.K. Source: 9
  9. 9. Residents of a small southwest Nebraska town have a question for state officials: You’re not doing anything with that old electric chair, are you? The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled last year that the state’s use of the electric chair was unconstitutional because it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Some people in McCook think “Old Sparky” could be a tourist attraction and have offered to take it off the state’s hands. Resident Duane Tappe thinks the chair could bring thousands of tourists to the town every year. Source: 10
  10. 10. Previous editions of this newsletter can be found at If you wish to be added to the monthly distribution list for this newsletter, please send an e-mail to 11