What’s the state of the travel world as we enter 2010? Travel Journalist Don George posed four questions to each of the leaders of the Adventure Collection companies to get their assessments of the travel industry as we start the new year. Here is a perspective from Marty von Neudegg, Director and General Counsel of Canadian Mountain Holidays. Visit Don's Place on The Adventure Collection website for feedback from the other AC directors.
DG: Surveying the travel industry today, how would you compare where we are in Jan. 2010 to where we were in Jan. 2009?
MVN:From our perspective, Jan 2010 was far different from Jan 2009. In Jan 09 the world was reeling and our bookings had not only stopped but were going backwards with cancellations. This year, people are travelling again! The bookings have been as strong in late 2009 and early 2010 as we have ever seen in our history. Many are telling us that they made a mistake last year by staying home, that they miss our mountains and that they need to get out again. Others are saying that the worst is now over and they feel good about traveling again. And the guests who do come just seem very happy to be here.
DG: Where do you think the industry is headed this year?
MVN: The “cycle” of booking has changed dramatically from past years. Generally many people are now waiting until the last minute to book. Contrary to common thought, however, they are not just looking for deals and discounts. They are looking for value and want to be sure that whatever money they are spending is being spent in the best possible way. That could mean that it comes down to a better price, but it could also mean that they are watching the weather and will book when they are confident that the weather will provide what they are looking for, like cold snow or clear skies. Many travellers are willing to risk not getting the first choice of space in favor of getting a better shot at full value.
DG: What do you think will be the emerging dominant trends in travel and particularly adventure travel this year?
MVN: Most seasoned travellers will not respond to hype or deals that look too good to be true. They are looking for authenticity and places that deliver on their promises. They are looking to get away for shorter periods of time, because business is still tough, but they want to really use that time well and connect with their travel partners, family and the destination in meaningful ways. We believe that there will quickly be a shake-out of those travel companies that waste their guests’ time with unreal discounts that force a poor quality experience. Those types of companies are not sustainable and the traveling public will remember who they are — because the better choices, with real value opportunities, will be easy to find.
DG: What for you are the principal inspirations/reasons for people to travel in 2010?
MVN: 2010 is a year to connect again. The time has come to rejuvenate and refresh. Individuals, families and friends are all looking for ways to have fun again. 2010 will offer many new opportunities to travel with some great companies who really want to have you as a guest and are fully prepared to give you what you have paid for. More importantly, they will offer real opportunities to make genuine connections with fellow travellers, new cultures and the land itself. When we reflect on our past travels, it is those deep and meaningful connections that are the most important part of the journey. When we stop travelling, those are the things that we crave and miss the most.