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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TRAVEL TRENDS - Shopping - the #1 thing travelers do

For those of you who read this blog faithfully, first, thank you. And second, I apologize that I've been AWOL.

I've been in Dallas at the Shop America Tours Global Summit. Thanks to Rosemary McCormick for inviting me to speak about the drive market, a subject which my loyal readers know that I'm passionate about.

I also spoke about the Girlfriend Getaway market and with my passion about the Executive Girlfriend's Group, you can surmise that to be a hot topic with me as well.

Put yourself in the shoes of a mall developer. You own malls all over the US.

You instinctively know that travelers spend more than local residents and further than international travelers spend more per trip than domestic US travelers. You may not know that Brazilian and Japanese shoppers are some of the most prolific shoppers.

What you may not realize, is that people who drive in their own vehicles (e.g. the core of the drive market) spend more than those who fly.

It is simple really. If you can buy whatever you want and not worry about having to buy an extra suitcase and pay an excess bag charge or worry about stuffing it into your existing luggage and perhaps exceeding the weight limit, then you will spend more with less constraints. This is a good thing.

So what is the best way to attract travelers to your malls?
  • Partner with local hotels and particularly the upscale ones with concierge services and a shuttle service
  • Add your own shuttle service to service the local hotels and convention centers
  • Put together shopping "packages" and partner with Shop America Tours
  • Advertise in publications that reach international shoppers (the UK, Germany, Brazil and Japan are great targets)
  • Participate in DiscoverAmerica.com, the US site for international travelers coming to the US (a collaboration of the Department of Commerce and the US Travel Association)
One of the other interesting things that came out of the conference for me was the validation that the drive market is NOT an economy market. In a panel of four 5 star hoteliers, they each stated that their client base arrives by car more than 75% of the time. Although I knew this to be true from our own research, Solutionz is embarking on a sponsored, syndicated study of this market, in conjunction with our research partner, Mandala Research. It is our hope that this empirical study of the drive market will break the log jam that has kept the travel industry from pursuing this lucrative market.

If you want to attract the drive market to your mall or to your hotel, I'm happy to help you do a "drive market audit of your property. If you would like to sponsor the syndicated research, please contact me at chicke@solutionz.com.

Chicke Fitzgerald
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