Travel state of mind for a volatile economy

Written by admin on October 28, 2008 – 1:16 pm -

In these volatile economic days, there are more than a few variables impacting travel. People are considering alternatives and business travel may be placed on hold. Forget the idea of flying in the front of the plane.

This economic climate forces most people to reevaluate their spending. Looking at your retirement plan takes on an entirely different meaning. People who once thought they had substantial equity in their houses may suffer from a new reality shock as they contemplate their futures.

The Federal Reserve is doing its best to instill confidence. Central banks are infusing funds into the monetary system with the intent of creating liquidity in the financial markets. During the past week, investors were whipsawed watching the dramatic swings of Wall Street and financial markets world-wide.

Travel is certainly faced with an uncertain state of mind.

For most travelers — business or leisure — trips to that Caribbean resort or upscale city hotel might be postponed. However, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Different options such as shorter, all-inclusive trips, off-the-beaten-track explorations and alternative lodging solutions still exist. Travelers simply need to explore them and decide whether or not travel is a priority in their lives.

Independent consultant for Acclivus PDP Toby Marie Walker says, “As a consumer, we may all NEED vacations.” Short jaunts of 3-5 days that open up a new world can do the trick. A low-priced all-inclusive trip fills that bill.

Liz (Elizabeth) Morris, a railroad and car hire professional based in the Denver area, agrees with Toby. “With all of the stress of the economy and everything in general, we’ll all need a vacation! My main frustration with airfares is that deals are harder to unearth. When you do, the airlines ding you with extra charges for checked baggage, etc.”

Liz opts for all-inclusive trips, especially when headed overseas. But she also likes unusual, lesser-visited destinations. They often offer a lot of culture and variety. As a result, many of Liz’s trips have been self-planned and she travels without advance hotel reservations. “I tour the countryside and stop at local places that offer real atmosphere.”

Some travelers relish the serendipity. Others find it unnerving. You have to gage your comfort level and factor in the time of year plus the destination. You may find yourself sleeping at a youth hostel. But there’s nothing wrong with that.

Ral Purina, Manager at Offsite Onsite Group based in the Houston, Texas area suggests travel agencies be realistic about the global financial crisis. He says, “Business and leisure travel have been dramatically reduced and further constriction is inevitable. Trillions of dollars in stock market and home valuation losses have occurred worldwide. This is impacting virtually everyone. Countless companies and individuals are struggling to avoid default and bankruptcy. Travel budgets are now drastically reduced, or for many, nonexistent.”

Travel agencies, like all businesses, need to quickly adjust to this changing environment. Cut your expenses now, so you can survive until the economy rebounds.

As far as promoting travel, fewer and less expensive trips are the clear theme for 2009. For leisure travel, think 3-day Disney packages, 1-day round-trips to the beach and Indian Reservation casinos. For business, think video conferencing and more email.

Purina notes when speaking with travel agents, “… this isn’t what you want to hear. But it is the same for everyone, regardless of what business they are in. Cut expenses now and live to fight another day.”

Not all travel professionals are singing the same doom and gloom song. Many swear it’s a question of being more creative and looking for alternative solutions. You’ll hear from them. Any and all suggestions from readers are welcome. Please post away.

In the meantime, I’m hoping for miracles in the global markets. May they become less volatile and act less like roller coasters.

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis

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Posted in Consumer Traveler |