Report: Affluent Americans account for 51% of travel spending

A new report published by Skift.com details the travel habits and mimdset of affluent Americans. Among  the findings:  Affluent Americans make up just 20% of the U.S. population, but they account for 51% of total travel expenditures. The Skift report – which is available online for reporting subscribers – also looks at a sub-segment of the affluent travel market: the "Super Affluent” (those with a combined household income over $200,000) amd how their travel differs from the less affluent travelers.

With just a quick analysis, the most interesting report highlights to the luxury marketer may be Skift's summary of how Affluent Travelers are increasingly embracing alternative accommodation options as well as the reporting on how Affluent Travelers prioritize experiences while traveling.

The full report is available for purchase st Skift.com.

Resolutions and Introspection: 2018 and the Holstee Manifesto

The new year brings opportunities for introspection and resolutions. For me, that means trying to live the words of the Holstee Manifesto.

This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job, quit. If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop, they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love. Stop over analyzing, life is simple. All emotions are beautiful. When you eat, appreciate every last bite. Open your mind, arms and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them. Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once, seize them. Life is about the people you meet, and the things you create with them. So go out and start creating. Life is short. Live your dream and share your passion.

Here's to the relentless pursuit of our greater self!

Re-imaging the Ordinary: Innovating Airline Safety Videos

If you travel frequently, it's quite likely that you know the entire safety speech of your favorite airlines by heart. They are routine… mundane… ordinary. Delta made headlines a few years ago by re-imagining the airline safety speech with internet memes.

As marketers, it's important to remember that our most important messages can become routine to customers. With repetition, they fade into insignificance. It's critical that we challenge our perceptions of what "must be" and innovate with what "can be". That is the art of #RestlessRenewal.

Kudos to Quantas Airlines for their beautiful, inspiring re-invention of the flight safety video. I've watched the entire clip time and time again to remind myself to challenge convention and re-imagine the ordinary.

Quantas Airlines Safety Video 2017

What are your favorite examples of re-imagining the ordinary?

Trend Spotting: Consumer Spending on Hotels is Booming

New data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis shows consumer spending on hotels and lodging is booming.

From 2011 to January 2017, consumer spending on lodging has increased 41.8%, outpacing other sectors. The food-and-beverage sector came in second, growing 31.2% for the same time period.

With the US economy nearly full-employment and consumer debt levels down, a potential uptick in wages would likely extend this boom trend for hotels well into 2018.

The cardinal rule still applies (Marketshare, Marketshare, Marketshare!) but – given the increases in F&B spend – savvy marketers should be keenly focused on less broad metrics as well, including F&B marketshare, RevPAS and ProPOR (Profit per Available Room).

Analysis Shows Hotels Are Not Losing Share to AirBNB

AirBNB has been regarded as the great disrupter in the hospitality sector, but a new study shows that – for all the hype – AirBNB is not taking marketshare away from hotels.

The study, compiled by Smith Travel Research using AirBNB source data, offers critical insights into the true market penetration for the room-sharing service.

Among the key findings:

  • AirBNB has 2.3 million listings, far more than the world's largest hotel company, Marriott (1.1 million). However, much of AirBNB's inventory is available only in peak-season, not year-round.

 

  • Airbnb has higher peak-season occupancy because its users skew more heavily to leisure. Hotels have much higher year-round occupancy due to the diverse nature of their business (leisure, business, and group).

 

  • The markets with the highest hotel occupancy also have AirBNB's top occupancies. A deeper analysis shows that AirBNB is capturing excess demand, not shifting share.

 

  • Even on highest compression nights (hotel occupancy >95%) hotels are growing compression ADR faster than ever – at 35% in 2015 – with ADRs far exceeding those of AirBNB.

 

Jan Freitag, senior VP of lodging insights for STR, said that hoteliers are not at significant risk to lose share to AirBNB.

“I think the overall message is that the U.S. hotels industry continues to break demand records,” said Freitag. “We are selling more rooms than ever before on an annualized basis. In 2014, we had a demand record. We had another demand record in 2015. We expect in 2016 we will also top the number of rooms sold. Room demand has been higher than it has ever been.”

Will Superhosts Kill AirBNB's Brand?

AirBNB has quietly launched a back-end page for hosts to turn over the management of their listing to superhosts. This new feature gives individual hosts the ability to outsource the management of their listing to a broker, of sorts, who handles guest transactions and pricing.

The Superhost market makes sense. I'm sure there are many AirBNB hosts (and potential hosts) who would prefer to have someone else handling the transactional minutiae of hosting. For AirBNB, superhosts could deliver a greater inventory and open access in large metro markets by lowering the barrier to entry for new hosts.

However, I can't help but think that superhosts may kill AirBNB's brand. After all, the "secret sauce" for AirBNB has been the direct relationship between guests and hosts. A superhosts isn't going to greet a guest and introduce them to an unknown taqueria, after all. If AirBNB removes that connectivity and endorses greater separation between host and guest, the next step is likely to be commoditization.

It will be interesting to watch this trend over the next few quarters for any hint of guest backlash, especially in gateway cities.

The Travel Agency of Tomorrow

This week I spent time with the industry's top luxury travel agencies at Virtuoso TravelWeek in Las Vegas. Based on these interactions and the increased demand for travel agents, I've been giving some thought to what the travel agency of tomorrow may look like.

Years ago, the local travel agency was a brick-and-mortar office on Main Street with sunny and exotic destination posters adorning the walls.

As the age of online travel grew and travelers adopted a D-I-Y approach, travel agencies disappeared from Main Street in search of lower costs in high-rise buildings or work-from-home arrangements. What will the travel agency of tomorrow look like?

Instead of being simply a transactional office, retail travel agencies will return to Main Street as experiential spaces for luxury consumers.

Given the growing demand for curated travel experiences, I believe the travel agency of tomorrow will look much like the agency of yesteryear. Instead of being simply a transactional office, retail travel agencies will return to Main Street as experiential spaces for luxury consumers. Gone are the destination posters of yesteryear in favor of a refined, relaxed environment to enjoy coffee or wine with friends. Curated presentations – some travel related, some not – hosted at the agency become "nights out" for like-minded neighbors who view the agency as expert not just in travel, but in luxury experiences. The travel agency becomes a familiar hang-out for locals to learn, share stories, and laugh together.  In short, the travel agency of tomorrow is an experiential hybrid: part wine bar, part concierge lounge, and part expert showcase.

For travel agency owners, the upside to this new agency format may include new revenue streams such as wine sales and event space rental… not to mention increased foot traffic and travel sales. Besides, what goes better with travel stories than a great glass of wine?