Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Imagine a bigger market.....

Today on Guy Kawasaki's blog (which is a must read for marketers), he addressed the subject of envisioning a market that is bigger than what you have traditionally embraced. Well, in the travel industry, this is actually not hard. Anyone that has read my white paper on marketing to the non-air traveler knows now that the market IS actually bigger than anyone has ever dreamed of.

As my good friend Jay Campbell reminded me, I do need to expose my bias on this subject, since I've been spending the past two years building a company that addresses the drive market. I actually prefer to think of it as a mission, so I am not going to make this blog a podium for marketing that technology. That isn't what this is about.

Back to Guy's blog. In it he cites a couple of studies about the imagination and how it affects perceptions. Over the past few months, as I talk to hoteliers about the drive market, if they have a wide range of brands, covering a broad demographic, invariably they say that our product would be good for their low end, economy brand, totally ignoring the upscale drive market, which is substantial.

Guy's point is that imagination does affect perception and if you are imagining that the drive market is unappealing, unprofitable and any other "un" words you can think of, then your perception will be your reality.

I love his blogs because they are out of the box thinking personified. He is the champion of the entrepreneur.

For me, call me altruistic, but I'm still a champion of this industry and I want to see the industry thrive, versus crawling in a hole until the economy gets better and the price of fuel goes down.

So, join me in "imagining a bigger market". Guess what, it will change your perception of how you distribute your product because not only is this one just "perception", it is true! There is a big market out there. A very big market.

Chicke Fitzgerald

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dawning of a new day

As I write this, the sun is coming up here in beautiful Tampa. There is something about palm trees that are in a sillhouette at this time of the morning, when everything is quiet that inspires me to blog. Or perhaps it is the strong coffee that I've been drinking for the past hour!

I use this image for this blog because it is a new day in travel distribution. And while you may not have personally taken a trip by car since you were a child, you may (like I was when I started my research) to know that 73% of all trips taken in 2006 were done using a personal vehicle. And another 15% use other vehicles, such as rental cars. All told, just 12% of trips the US were by air.

So if your marketing efforts are focused at the air traveler, think again. There is a BIG market out there. The drive market.

How can you tell if you are air-centric?

1. If your site has a booking engine and you ask two primary questions (where are you going and when?), then you are air-centric.
2. If you don't provide a map to your venue or driving directions, then you are air-centric.
3. If you don't acknowledge that you might not be the "destination", but might be a stop along the way, then you might be air-centric.

OK, that was sounding way too much like bad redneck jokes.

Nevertheless, stop, look and listen. If you aren't thinking about these things in your marketing, you may be missing a huge opportunity.

In 2007, the Travel Industry Assocation (TIA) reported that the US Travel Industry yielded $740b in revenues. PhoCusWright recently reported that $137b was sold in online travel last year and that during the same period, travel agents sold $129b, including both leisure and corporate. That leaves $474b unaccounted for....

My contention is that it is the drive market and the non-vacationing leisure traveler (huh? you say) that makes up this gap. Think about it. If someone is invited to a wedding or graduation, has to attend a funeral, is attending a state volleyball tournament, or a class reunion, do they come to you to plan that type of a trip? If they are driving, where are they finding their information?

In the face of the economic downturn, Americans are still traveling, but not in record numbers from past years. And with less disposable income, those who are traveling are generally spending less. And this fall when the airlines "trim" their schedules to account for the increase in jet fuel prices, do you know how that 10-20% decrease in frequency and or capacity will affect you?

If you are interested in this subject, please check out my new "not-so-white paper" series titled "Are you Reaching the Forgotten Mass Market?". It is available for pre-order today at

If you need help sorting out your strategy, let me know. I'm happy to help!

Chicke Fitzgerald

CEO Solutionz Group

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Welcome to Distribution Solutionz

Global Travel Distribution

I have spent the bulk of my career in the travel industry, somehow touching the marrying of buyers and sellers of travel. Officially it has been 30 years. Whew. It goes by fast.

I joined the industry the first year that the GDSs (then CRS) were installed in travel agencies. I've spent the rest of my career touching just about every aspect of the travel value chain - technology, business models, strategy, process. You name it.

This blog will be focused on the forward looking trends in travel and also those trends outside our industry that directly impact us. Namely location based services/content, mapping, navigation and GPS.

I will post on a regular basis, but not necessarily daily, so if you are interested in the subject, please subscribe to the RSS feed.

Chicke Fitzgerald
CEO Solutionz Group

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