We’ve seen that tourism is improving despite the down economy. In fact, according to the U.N.’s World Trade Organization, 1 billion people will cross international borders as tourists this year. With the travel industry bouncing back faster than the rest of the economy, Editor in Chief and Senior Vice President of Travel Weekly Arnie Weissmann and Peter look at the numbers to analyze what they mean for economic improvement, travel deals today, and the future of global travel.
Peter Greenberg: We were both just at Virtuoso Week in Las Vegas, where the convention took over the Bellagio hotel. Every ballroom was filled with 4,000 people sitting at little tables. I asked all the travel advisers, “When you walk away from this, how much money are you going to generate?” The minimum was $2 million. Per agent.
Arnie Weissmann: That doesn’t surprise me. I’m seeing growth in lots of areas of the travel industry. Virtuoso focuses on the luxury end, but actually travel is having an enormous impact at various different economic strata. The high-end luxury and the budget packages are doing very well. It’s just the mid-grade that’s struggling to find its footing in the current economic situation.
PG: The mid-level hotels must have a challenge ahead of them simply because the owners don’t want to spend the money to bring them up to standards or the travelers haven’t figured out the definition of that particular brand. And if you can’t define your brand, how do you justify your rate?
There’s an expectation at Hampton Inn that the room will be decent, you’ll get free breakfast and you’ll get free Internet. At the Ritz-Carlton level, the expectation is that everyone is going to say “my pleasure,” you’ll get a nice sized room, it’s stylish and the food’s great.
But if you’re in the XYZ hotel in Cleveland and you’re not attached to a convention center and you have no real reason to be in that hotel, what keeps you in that hotel?