Times Are Good

 

Ruthanne Terrero
Vice President—Content/ Editorial Director, Ruthanne Terrero

You can always tell how the economy is faring by how people are dining out. By the look of things in the town I live in, the economy is zooming. We have a new, very upscale Italian restaurant that opened there recently; it’s owned by a guy whose brother runs the deli on Main Street and who opened another successful restaurant a few doors down.

We recently decided to go in and help this new restaurant out by giving them some of our business. When we opened the front door of the place you’d think we’d fallen into one of those “What happens in Vegas” ads. The place was packed with people dressed to the nines; the tables were packed and there was standing-room only at the bar. Free-spending was clearly the theme of the evening.

I live in a sleepy little town; to have this much fun going on two blocks away from my house was a bit disorienting. But we tossed our confusion aside and dove right into the scene.

Who was there? Married couples on dates, young people out for some fun and I think I may have even seen a cluster of the local Moms association there (yes, we have one of those). Not sure, but these local ladies were having appetizers at the bar and having a grand time of it.

What did we all do before this new hot spot opened up? Talk about pent-up demand for an upscale experience.

If you look at the data, what we witnessed makes sense. Consumer confidence has increased for the third consecutive month and is now at its highest level since January 2008, according to The Conference Board. We’ve had a steady stream of good news about an uptick for the past few weeks. We’re not out of the woods yet, as any supplier will tell you, but things are certainly better.

Now, think of those dressed-up couples and sophisticated Moms I saw in my town recently. Dropping more than $100 on a weeknight would have been an extravagance a few years back, but it’s becoming the norm again. How can you get folks like these to step up their spending even more by giving themselves a good vacation?

This morning I had a visit from Ron Santangelo, vice president of business development for AmaWaterways. We were discussing how travel agents have fared over the past 20 years and how well they’re doing now. We spoke of the volcanic

ash cloud in Iceland that slammed the brakes on air travel a few years back and how the consumer press wrote about the fact that those travelers with travel agents got home much more quickly than those who had booked their trips on their own. We smiled when we spoke of how travel advisors can really help a client when they take the time to sit and discuss what the person really wants to accomplish in a lifetime of travel, not just on the next trip.

All in all, after seeing my local economy roaring at that Italian restaurant recently and speaking with Ron Santangelo, I’m feeling pretty good about things right now in terms of our industry. I hope you’re optimistic, too, and that your good feelings inspire you to make your business soar.

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