Travel Takeaways — Mike Walsh at TTIA Summit

  • October 1, 2012
  • Fran Stephenson
  • 3 min read
Suitcase, ready for travel
Travel Takeaway

It’s easy to get lost in conflicting advice when you attend conferences.

I’ve been to one too many conferences in which I came away with a mere checklist of tactics which I was told to get….right now.  Lately, the list includes social media, mobile web sites and integration. All those things are important to those of us who are embedded in the travel industry.

In order to become influential in the next ten years in the way Walt Disney was influential in the 1960s, then a different line of thinking is in order.

At the recent Texas Travel Industry Summit, one speaker stood out because he helped us to elevate our thinking beyond room nights and attraction attendance.  Mike Walsh, CEO of Tomorrow, might actually be from the future. He takes an anthropological approach to identifying trends and consumer behavior. His street cred is sky high and his view is global in a way that few in our industry can claim.  Read more about him here.

Walsh’s presentation was like a bolt of lightning, delivering nuggets about the future of travel too numerous to mention in one blog post.  Three of his points really resonated with me.

Stop looking at individual trips and start looking at the travel experience life cycle.

We used to call it repeat business, then we called it loyalty programs, but Walsh’s advice is to look beyond individual experiences. Can you weave your organization, destination or attraction into the consumer’s life cycle by offering experiences that transcend individual purchases?

Start looking ten years ahead by listening to teenagers now.

Most focus groups used by travel organizations look at their current consumers, usually women in the 25-45 age range.  These are the current travel decision-makers. But in order to offer products and services for the next generation of decision makers, we need to start listening to their needs, habits and interests today.

Disruptive technology has changed the way we process information.

Like it or not, the long-term effects of multi-tasking and “hummingbird” searching is changing the way we think and the way we make decisions.  As travel organizations, we need to be poised to capitalize on spontaneous travel decisions and more circuitous decision-making.  This should, in essence, change the way we approach marketing and communications plans.

Walsh’s presentation liberally hinted that the travel industry is about to reach a tipping point. Will your travel organization be ready?