Travel in 2011: ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Ch-ch-ch- ch-changes!  That’s how I describe the travel business. Each year there are differences in how travel suppliers do business and that leads to changes in how I do business.  There are also clients who want to change how they do business.  Five years ago I was spending at least 4000-5000 minutes a month on the phone and my e-mail box rarely got full. Now my phone time has been cut in half and I have many e-mail accounts to support the different functions of my business.

The internet is taking over. There are some travel suppliers that have certain tasks that can only be done online.  I have some clients that I rarely speak to on the phone.  Most of our interactions are by e-mail. Marketing campaigns have shifted to e-mails more than direct mail. This seems to be happening in most industries today.

The challenge is being able to translate my excitement for a cruise line, resort, destination or activity into words in an e-mail rather than in a conversation where someone can hear the excitement in my voice.  I have always taken a lot of pictures when I travel. With the advantage of digital cameras and other technology I now take thousands of pictures when I am on a trip.  I now use those images to speak for me when I am not able to talk to a client on a direct basis.

There have also been changes in where people want to go and how they want to get there.  Cruises are still my primary business, but now there’s a “been there, done that” feeling with many of my clients.  They are now looking for a new adventure.  Land trips are starting to have a new appeal so people can travel back to places they only had a day to visit on a cruise.  A great example is my work with Costa Rica Dream Adventures.  They are an Atlanta based tour company with an office in San Jose, Costa Rica.  Costa Rica has become a hot spot for travel.  Costa Rica offers beautiful beaches, active volcanoes and tropical jungles, which feature a wide variety of animals and vegetation.  It can be an active vacation or a relaxing spa get-away, or a great combination of both.

I am also seeing a rise in last minute travel reservations.  In the past, it seemed like people were locked into their one or two weeks of scheduled vacation time every year.  Now people are starting to travel on short notice to take advantage of the great offers in the market.  I also think employers are being more flexible with vacation time and that allows more couples and families to plan a trip with short notice.

2011 will be an interesting year in the travel industry.  New ships, renovated resorts and new excursions are everywhere. The industry is stepping up to meet the demands of the savvy traveler. I am excited about the variety and new adventures that I am planning for my clients.

Amy Windham



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