Travel in tough times

MSNBC's travel columnist has an article entitled "6 reasons we love to travel now". While the focus of the column is on travel bargains that the economic downturn has sprung the underlying theme is a beef that the industry (and that includes all elements – TAs, airlines and hotels) neglects the customer during better times. Ignoring his arguably false premise for now, the article does bring out some of the goodies on tap for the customer. These range from $150 room rates in midtown Manhattan courtesy of Priceline and Hotwire to upgrades in fancy resorts (the Four Seasons Resort Nevis) in the Caribbean. Others that find mention include the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Lima where a guest was upgraded to a suite and a traveler (a professional speaker) who was upgraded (as the only passenger) to first class on Lufthansa (perhaps his vocation had something to do with it).

MSNBC is not the only site featuring travel bargains. The New York Times last week had a piece on Holiday Travel Bargains that listed the Arpoador Inn in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where "standard rooms start at 190 reals or just $91 at 2.12 Brazilian reals to the dollar, down from about $122 in August".  AAA is doing its part too as an Oklahoma business daily notes that "North America’s largest leisure travel agency network, is partnering
with domestic and international travel industry leaders to offer
special savings on an unprecedented set of travel experiences". The savings on AAA travel can be found on their website that directs customers based on their zip code.

Beyond the US, economic travails are prompting travel promoters worldwide and they include Australia where tour operators hope a domestic interest rate cut will spur business and Germany where the Financial Times reports that airlines are "airlines are setting the sky as their limit in their attempts to maintain and attract corporate customers". The paper also notes that "the economic downturn is prompting travel providers to offer a growing range of frills for business travellers". Unsurprising as economics 101 would point out that when supply exceeds demand, the incentives for suppliers to exceed expectations are greater.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.