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Opinion: Your Universe Is ExpandingFebruary 10, 2014 By: Ruthanne Terrero Travel Agent
|Vice President—Content/Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero|
Three of the four most-read stories on our website recently were transportation related. Getting top views for the week was United Airlines’ net income of $1.084 billion in 2013. I’m sure people were clicking on it out of sheer disbelief considering what the airline industry has been up to over the past few years. What grabbed me within the story was UAL’s top executive Jeff Smisek stating that his goal following the profitable year is “to provide even more reliable operations, great customer service and materially better financial performance.” Not sure which order those things will come in, but if airlines are indeed going to invest in customer service, bring it on.
Next in line was a story detailing New Orleans’ airport expansion. A new terminal is being built north of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, which is part of a huge revitalization of the city in general as it moves toward its 300th anniversary in 2018. The Big Easy is also redeveloping its waterfront and biomedical district. Laissez les bons temps rouler.
Then there’s the welcome news that New York’s LaGuardia Airport is getting a $3.6 billion infusion to rebuild its central terminal. If you’ve been to the airport over the past few years you’ve probably been as confused as hell, wondering how an airport could be so depressing. New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo is overseeing the project, which will create large, open spaces (so on trend), shopping plazas and restaurants. Cuomo is being bullish on tourism; reinvigorating the “I Love New York” tourism campaign has been a major initiative since he was elected and his team is doing a great job of promoting what the entire state has to offer, particularly in the food and wine arena.
The three above items indicate that investment in travel is on the upswing and that it’s about to get a whole lot better. Many other airports and destinations are putting a lot of money into their product, including Tourism Australia, which has launched “Restaurant Australia” to promote its amazing food and wine offerings.
Couple the above sentiment with data from two major agency groups that weighed in on what’s hot for 2014. I have to say, I’ve never seen such a diverse list of destinations consumers are showing interest in. Croatia, Peru, Vietnam and New Zealand are tops for Travel Leaders, while the Seychelles, Brazil, Alaska and also Vietnam and New Zealand are among the top places American Express advisors are being asked about, most likely because of the promotions that tourism offices and suppliers are doing. Croatia last year alone reported 12.43 million arrivals (that’s a 5.5 percent increase) and 72 million overnights (reflecting a 4.1 percent upswing over 2012).
And so once again, your universe is expanding. Be sure you’re up to date on what your clients will be asking about, and do use the above list of popular destinations to push to your clients, even those who aren’t so well traveled. Nothing is holding the consumer back from traveling anymore; just be sure you’re on their radar when they’re ready to fly. Boom times here we come.