Business Travel Destinations to Watch in 2010
Perhaps the best predictor of destinations to watch for international business
travel is what's happening in the large association market because their
meetings are typically scheduled several years out.
“Destinations that proactively targeted this most resilient market segment
over the last half decade are weathering the current economic storm far better
than their competitors who only focused on big budget corporate meetings,” says
Martin Sirk, CEO of ICCA, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
However, choices made for association meetings will influence the
corporate market. Putting aside any short term shifts in business travel caused
by economic factors, emerging international destinations today have the
following in common: offering a strong value for their currency, making
investments in hotels and conference facilities, and focusing on excellent
service. They are also popular in their own regions.
When choosing a business destination for meetings and events, planners
consider how these factors will help deliver the better travel program results,
according to Trish Adams, director of partnership marketing at Martz Travel,
Fenton, MO, USA.
destinations are being watched ?
Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Located between the East and West, the Gulf has made considerable inroads into
the meetings market during the last decade; Dubai was its first significant
player. But a strong economy, excellent business facilities, luxury hotels,
beaches, unique desert activities and an increasing capacity to host meetings
are just a few of the reasons why international associations, corporate meetings
and incentives are choosing Abu Dhabi.
During 2009 when business travel was down significantly, 1.54 million
traveled to Abu Dhabi - a 2% growth; 2010 is projected to increase by 10%. To
promote its commitment for increased business travel meetings in this emirate,
the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority is year offering financial and non-financial
resources to event organizers. Top markets include the UK, USA, India, Germany
With the 2010 FIFA World Cup taking place at 10 stadiums across South Africa
this summer, it's an excellent opportunity for Johannesburg, Cape Town and other
locations to showcase their infrastructure for business travel meetings -
important for any long-haul destination with a favorable currency rate. New
hotels and convention centers have been built and existing ones are refurbishing
in preparation for the World Cup.
In 2009, China had 5.2 million visitors for meetings; its largest markets are
Korea, Japan, USA, Russia, Germany, UK and Canada. Beijing hosted the 2008
Olympic Games and gained international attention for the meetings market. Since
then, the China National Convention Center opened in Beijing in October 2008 for
international meetings (initially used for the 2008 Games).
Europe is a leader in the international associations market, and Eastern Europe
has made significant strides in the business travel and meetings industry.
Slovenia served as the EU Council Presidency from January to June 2008, and is
emerging as a cost effective destination for smaller meetings that offers
diverse experiences all within a short drive: the Alps, Mediterranean, wine
country, historic towns and more.
Spain. The fifth largest city in Spain,
Zaragoza was host to Expo 2008, giving it world prominence to 99 participating
countries and 5.7 million visitors. Cost is an advantage to this mid-sized city
located between Madrid and Barcelona. Accessible by air and rail, Zaragoza is
targeting the international associations market, and 56 conferences are being
promoted as hosted in the city during 2010. Congress Centre of Aragon is its
newest conference center, legacy of Expo 2008.
The USA remains the world's largest market for international meetings, and the
capital region weathered the 2009 economic downtown better than other
destinations. Baltimore is a smaller, compact city, and it's attracting greater
numbers. In 2008, Baltimore had 3.82 million business travelers, but only
258,000 international visitors (leisure included); top markets are the UK, Latin
America, Germany and Japan. Baltimore is expected to gain greater international
attention between now and when it hosts AIBTM, June 21-23, 2011.
the biggest player in Latin America, India, Lago Maggiore (Italy) and Shanghai
are also business travel destinations to watch.
Whether emerging, growing or fully established, Adams explains that
destinations should pool their resources - tourism offices, hoteliers,
convention centers, destination management companies - to attract the
international meetings and events business. Adams also encourages the use of
rebates, discounts and other promotions such as local entertainment.
Business travel for meetings and events is a buyer’s market right now,
according to the EIBTM 2009 Industry Trends and Market Share Report by Reed
Exhibitions, Richmond, Surrey, UK.
Use of Twitter in the travel industry
There are several ways in which the social networking application Twitter is
being currently used by companies from the travel sector. This usage can be for
engagement, news and information, sales and customer service. Twitter is
described as an instant and efficient way of interacting with a customer.
From a hotel’s perspective, Michael Perhaes, Assistant VP Marketing, MGM
Grand, says every travel organization needs a presence on Twitter, and a
strategy built on both customer engagement and RoI via tactical offers.
“Social media is eating into the efficacy of email marketing and will soon
supplant email as a primary communication device; we are already seeing evidence
of this on Facebook and our hotel is preparing accordingly. We have dedicated
social media staff; we include Facebook and Twitter URLs in all of our marketing
communications, and actively enlist followers and fans,” said Perhaes, who is
scheduled to speak at the forthcoming Social Media Strategies for Travel USA
He added, “This is the first, true two-way marketing communication
channel. While we can still “push” offers in a manner similar to email (Twitter
Thursdays), the social media channels allow customer feedback and content
Hotels, too, have come up with special campaigns to use Twitter. For instance,
last year in September, Travelodge, the British budget hotel brand, began
communicating with its customers through the social messaging service Twitter.
The hotel chain decided to use the online portal to interact with its customers
and inform them of new offers, hotel openings and job opportunities. Since over
85 percent of Travelodge reservations are conducted via the web and with such a
strong online following, the company felt it makes sense to interact with its
customers via Twitter.
Travelodge identified that this move enable the company to instantly tell
its followers about the latest offers, new Travelodge openings and keep them
updated on general company news.
Perhaes says his company views Twitter as both an adjunct to email marketing
efforts and a useful customer communication tool.
“Our Twitter followers recently reached 15k, allowing us to expect
reasonable response rates when we push exclusive offers to our followers. Like
most hotels, we extract information by listening to our followers and fans,
respond directly when appropriate, or indirectly via the respective department
impacted by a comment or thread, positive and negative (food & beverage,
reservations, housekeeping, etc.)," he said.
The company also sees customers tweeting about the property. “It provides
us with another angle on customer feedback, a fly-on-the-wall observation, if
you will. This runs straight into the space carved out by sites like Trip
Advisor but with a lot more credibility.”
Late last year, Intercontinental Hotels Group ( IHG ) chose to “tweet” nearly
one million Priority Club points redeemable for hotel nights, retail gift cards,
electronics and more during the hotel group’s December Tweet Away promotion. It
was done for 31 days that led up to the new year 2010. IHG invited consumers to
follow its hotel deals via its Twitter account.
One of the main reasons behind IHG’s decision for this initiative was the
fact that travelers have been on the look-out for hotel deals and value-added
And by following IHG_Deals on Twitter, the company gave travelers a chance
to be among the first to hear about the deals in a fun and engaging way.
In another development, Inoqo ( in-OH-ko ) introduced its Twitter-based
hotel booking engine, targeting travelers who are seeking urgent hotel
accommodation. For travelers with last-moment accommodation requirements, Inoqo
only publishes hotel packages available within the next 48 hours. All offers are
for check-in within 48 hours.
On how should companies go about setting up a team or structure for usage of
Twitter, Perhaes said it depends on the complexity of the organization. “We have
a one full time specialist overseeing our social media ecosphere, who works
closely with Hotel Operations, F&B and Marketing teams to craft offers, Tweet
relevant, engaging information and keep our channels properly aligned,” shared
MGM Grand’s Michael Perhaes is scheduled to speak at the forthcoming
Social Media Strategies for Travel USA 2010 Conference. The two-day conference
will take place in San Francisco (March 24-25).