Someone always has an opinion on anything, and as my mother always told us growing up: It never hurts to be optimistic.
Apparently a lot of travel industry leaders had their ears pressed to the windows and doors of our house, because I’m seeing this attitude in spades as travel figures out how to market itself when things get shaky.
Take Craig Banikowski, currently the global travel management director for Hilton Hotels Corp, who is running unopposed for the National Business Travel Association’s president and CEO spot, and should be named to this position at the August convention. (August seems to be the month of change, as Hilton moves into its new headquarters in McLean, Virginia, then, too.) His official platform statement isn’t due out until the end of June, but he gave Travel Management a nice preview:
• Tough economic times are an opportunity for travel management expertise to show the industry just how effective this discipline can be. Suppliers tend to work more closely together to smooth out the highs and lows, and thus form a relationship that really kicks butt in better times as well.
• We need to keep up with technology. Banikowski personally loves Twitter. “I do think ListServ is an awesome tool, but we have to keep up with the times. Everything evolves,” he said.
• With mainstream media and the government ganging up on meetings and events. “now is not the time to put your head down and try to stay low under the radar,” Banikowski believes. The spotlight is on, it’s bright, and it’s time to perform.
Meanwhile, Vacation.com president and CEO Steve Tracas told his travel agents and vendors at its annual conference to stay the course, because travel is wired into the human experience and therefore “isn’t going anywhere any time soon.”
And early registration numbers for THETRADESHOW 2009 event in Las Vegas September 13 – 15 (brought to you by ASTA, ACTA, CLIA, ETOA, IGLTA, NACTA, NBTA, NTA, The Travel Institute, U.S. Travel Association and USTOA) are up 20 percent ahead of where they were last year at the “15 weeks to go” mark. Seminar topics include how to use social media as part of a marketing campaign.
But, my mother’s platitudes and pep talks aside, the real question becomes not can the travel industry survive, but will the players follow their own advice to that end? Share your opinion!