The show’s first panel discussion was an interesting overlook of North American market trends hosted by Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism, Rodolfo Elizondo. The discussion included six prominent travel industry professionals including Peter Yesawich, president of YPartnership, which monitors U.S. travel trends. Yesawich, arguably the panel’s best speaker, emphasized the need for Mexico to offer value deals if it wants to succeed in 2008 and 2009. Yesawich says due to the weak U.S. economy, 29 percent of all U.S. households traveling to Mexico last year have taken fewer vacations; 16 percent picked less expensive vacations; 12 percent stayed fewer nights; and seven percent changed their destination. “The American traveler in 2008 will be trading down, looking for better value,” Yesawich said. “The good news is they are not trading out, they’re still coming to Mexico.”
There are two demographics that agents should target, Yesawich says—the older vacationer and the younger traveler. Citizens over the age of 65 make up more than 20 percent of the U.S., which is 72 million people, Yesawich said. In fact, another panel speaker, Sarita Skidmore, president of the consulting firm MENLO, which also tracks U.S. travel trends, said one-fourth of all travelers to Mexico last year (which totalled about 20 million) were over the age of 62. The other demographic to be considered is the “Millennials” or those born between 1977 and 1998 that make up about 75 million of the U.S. population. “This group is demanding better deals, looking for bargains,” Yesawich said. “And there is no better place for that than Mexico.”
Cancun to See at Least Three Major Hotel Openings in 2008
We chatted with members of the Association of Hotels of Cancun and learned that at least three new hotels are expected to open within the year. Promotions Manager Fabiola Zarate Guaida told us that the Westin Del Mar and the Palm Beach resort will both open before year’s end with no specific time frame announced. The Westin Del Mar will have 400 rooms and be located about 10 minutes from the airport, while the Palm Beach resort will have 370 rooms. Also expected to open at some point this year is the 396-room Grand Oasis Caribbean. Another major hotel called Hipotel is expected to open by the end of the year or early 2009. It will have 1,800 rooms.
Delta Finally Expected to Launch New Flights to Mexico From North Carolina
The National Account Manager of Delta Air Lines told Travel Agent that the on-again, off-again plans for new flights from Raleigh-Durham to Cancun are finally expected to launch sometime in June. The flights were initially announced and expected to launch in February, then were cancelled because of low-demand fear before being “brought back to life” after further research, said Jim Magrath, national account manager for Delta. It will be a once-a-week service on Saturdays.