TAMPA — Twenty-six percent of potential leisure travelers would like to visit Tampa and St. Petersburg in the next two years, compared with Miami at 31 percent, Orlando at 41 percent, and Honolulu — the national leader — at 67 percent, a recent MMGY Global survey found.
Peter Yesawich, vice chairman of the travel and hospitality industry consultant, used the findings from 2,501 survey respondents to encourage members of the Hillsborough County Hotel and Motel Association attending a Thursday luncheon to be attentive to the latest trends in hospitality and travel industry marketing and advertising.
“If you get could get all those people to come here, your hotels would be 98 percent full,” Yesawich said.
But the Orlando-based consultant shared a number of findings his firm has uncovered in recent months through research that flout conventional wisdom.
“The AAA and AARP crowd is the new market makers,” Yesawich said.
While older people might be frugal, it resembles frugality shown in discount store shopping, where patrons might visit a Costco to save on paper toweling but spend $90 for a bottle of wine.
“They don’t want to overpay on travel, but they are not going to compromise quality,” Yesawich said. “Find their birthdays, find their anniversaries, market to that because grandparents are likely to want to take grandchildren on trips.”
Yesawich cited findings that indicate increasing numbers of people use, but surveys showed less than 10 percent made decisions on picking a hotel or rental car based on online information, which has implications for how advertising dollars might be spent.
“Social media may not be about conversion (to one brand or another) but more about eyeballs gathering information,” he said.