I have lately observed a burst in creativity by travel marketers, who are coining new words and expressions to get people to buy (and sell) their products. I'd like to share these with you and, in a similar spirit, suggest a few new terms that I think might define yet other opportunities to sell travel.
1) I received a press release recently from Indus Travels, a tour operator specializing in India. It stated that a 15-day luxury Maharaja India Tour including free international airfare would appeal to the "neo-frugal traveler."
The neo-frugal traveler is subsequently defined as someone focused on getting maximum value for the money and obtaining bragging rights based on how much the traveler has saved, rather than focusing on how little the traveler has spent.
Since the recession, travelers have found that luxury suppliers have been willing to throw in perks, from free airfare to free breakfasts to free spa treatments, as incentives. The neo-frugal traveler is now trained to expect more than is traditionally offered.
The neo-frugal do not, however, associate the deals they have been getting with a temporary imbalance in supply and demand.
I predict that we will soon see the birth of the "post-neo-frugal" traveler, and it won't be pretty. As the economy recovers and demand increases, post-neo-frugal travelers, acclimatized to short booking windows, will wait until the last minute to book a bargain with perks, at which time they will discover that they are required to pay twice as much for a gardenview room as they paid for an oceanview suite the year before.
2) Earlier this year, the Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach Shores, Fla., sent me an email about a new package for "career-conscious travelers who want to stay connected to work while on vacation." They call it a "fake-ation." Those signing up for a fake-ation will have access to WiFi throughout the resort, "including the pool area," a 24-hour business center, coffee on demand and a copy of the Wall Street Journal presented upon check-in.
Though I try to isolate work from play, there's no question that business has impinged on my holidays, and it's painful to see my personal nightmare vacation cleverly defined, packaged and marketed. But to tell the truth, I'd feel OK if this positioning was turned around. Instead of working 50% of the time I'm supposed to be playing, I'd much rather be playing 50% of the time I'm supposed to be working.
Perhaps our friends in Orlando could put together a package marketed as a "Dis-ness trip," i.e., a Disneyfied business trip. On a Dis-ness trip, it's openly acknowledged that you can shirk as well as work. A pass to the Magic Kingdom and a bottle of sunscreen (rather than a Wall Street Journal) is handed to the business traveler upon check-in. The business center is open only from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., and then reopens after 5 p.m.
WiFi is blocked from the pool area.
3) I recently heard a supplier make reference to "underrides." Overrides, in industry parlance, are the bump-ups in commission travel agents receive for surpassing certain sales volume thresholds. "Underrides," as this supplier used it, are ways he tries to counterbalance the distribution power of high-volume agencies through a combination of exempting certain items from commission and continuing to raise commission thresholds year after year.
A certain tension between a sales force and a sales manager (or supplier) is built into the distribution process of every industry, and I've found myself on both sides of that fence in my career. The fact is that most industries, while claiming to want every salesperson (or agent) to be a superstar, couldn't afford that scenario. Their cost-of-sale assumptions would go completely out of whack if they were paying top commission rates on every sale.
"Overrides" tend to be capped in most travel categories at around 18%. My new approach would involve the creation of a new category: "thrillrides," defined as a 50% commission level for taking marketshare from a competitor. It would require a belief on the part of suppliers that the converted customer would have high lifetime value and that this is business they otherwise would not get.
If you've come across -- or have created -- some new industry terms that have gone largely unnoticed, please email them to me at the address below. A neo-post-modern industry such as ours is in constant need of having its lingo refreshed.
Email Arnie Weissmann at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter.