Sunny Days Are Here Again?
ACCORDING TO THE U.S. Travel Association, a nonprofit travel industry group based in Washington, the travel industry shed approximately 400,000 jobs in the past two years. This number is significant for a market that accounts for 7.7 million U.S. jobs and indirectly affects 10 million others.
"We all felt it at the same time with a very big impact," said Ivan Fishman, president of All Book Covers Arizona, Tempe, Ariz., whose company supplies items such as guest registries, stationery holders and in-room presentation binders. "Hotels and hospitality is a very, very big industry [for promotional products]."
Sure, things may be bad now, but the light at the end of the tunnel could be on the way. The Promo Marketing staff contacted several suppliers who work within the hotel or travel industries, asking them to remark on the future of such an important market. Some offered advice on surviving the still-tough economic climate, but many others mentioned they felt the situation was starting to turn. Read on to see their thoughts and advice on reaching a brighter, better 2010 within the hotels and travel market.
Paul Dubois, vice president for Ready 4 Kits
Keene, New Hampshire
"Travel, like everything else in our lives, is coming down to streamlined efficiencies," said Dubois. "The items that will do well going into the future are those that feature intelligent design and are practical for end-users. From first-hand experience flying 30-plus round trips a year, I can tell you that if it doesn't fit in the carry-on, it doesn't come with me. Suppliers and distributors alike should keep this in mind when designing or recommending products."
Stephanie McClintock, director of marketing for Pro Towels etc.
"The high-utility items will still be bought, like sun care," noted McClintock. "You will always need sun-care products when traveling to tropical or exotic destinations. Scaling back from 'nice-to-have items' to 'must haves' will be seen."
Wendy Gray, director of creative services for Vantage Apparel
Avenel, New Jersey
"Although the resort market has taken a tough hit along with the economy, those who can travel have still been making destination apparel purchases," said Gray. "We have started hearing that companies are also slowly moving back to destination corporate and sales meetings, which will also help this market."
Charley Johnson, executive vice president of SnugZ USA
Salt Lake City, Utah
"The pessimist would say 'Even if it gets better than 2009, it won't ever get back to the days of 2006, 2007 and 2008,'" explained Johnson. "The optimist says 'Anything better than 2009 is a positive sign this niche is coming around.' I say we will land somewhere in the middle with how up and down I see the market being in 2010."
Ivan Fishman, president of All Book Covers Arizona
"After one year of no budgets for anybody, or very few budgets for anybody, the budgets finally started opening up for 2010," commented Fishman. "With March around the corner, my hotel and hospitality business has been very brisk, so it's been very interesting."
Andrew Spellman, CAS, vice president—corporate markets sales for TRG Group
St. Louis, Missouri
"I really think that the travel and resorts area will grow in 2010," said Spellman. "There have been many canceled meetings and conferences due to the economic climate this past year, but I feel that some positive signs have been shown for 2010 and people are going to want to get together and focus on how to succeed in the coming years."
John Amsterdam, president of Neet Feet
"I believe we will see a bit of a rebound in the corporate travel industry as many companies have seen their stock prices stabilize and have realized decent profits," suggested Amsterdam. "I believe many marketers reduced promotional spending in 2009 and saw a corresponding reduction in sales. Now that the economy has supposedly stabilized, it will be vital for hotels and resorts to stimulate consumers and corporate travel planners to come back to their properties."