Tourism official: Cheap rooms aren't enough - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Tourism official: Cheap rooms aren't enough

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Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2009 10:36 am | Updated: 9:51 am, Mon Dec 19, 2011.

AnnDee Johnson has a message for hotel operators hoping to survive the current economy: Don’t just react by cutting your prices.

Bad economy? Travel anyway, officials say

Johnson said that has been the reaction of many hotels, particularly some upscale properties, who figure that’s the best way to fill rooms. But Johnson, director of research and strategic planning for the Arizona Office of Tourism, said a study suggests there are better ways.

“They need to create packages,” she said. Johnson said that means offering “something else” beyond a low-priced room.

She cited a new report by TNS, a custom market research specialist, which asked 2,500 households nationwide what it would take to get them out of town.

The answer? It depends.

Virtually all age groups are looking for advance discounts.

But those younger than 40 responded nearly as positively to getting a free extra night if they stayed for a certain length of time.

Travelers with household incomes of at least $75,000 also expressed interest in free upgrades as well as being able to accumulate frequent flier miles with their favorite airline or “loyalty points” with the hotel chain.

Free upgrades also were important to travelers with children, far more so than their childless counterparts.

Even in the area of discounts, some differences remain.

TNS also found that a larger percentage of families with children also needed fairly large discounts — 30 percent or more — than those who were traveling alone or as a couple.

Along the same lines, the survey found that those younger than 40 were more willing to accept smaller discounts than older travelers.

Other factors TNS found that might convince someone to travel include:

• 2-for-1 companion deals;

• a $50 gift card;

• package deals that include admission to sights;

• being able to cancel at the last minute without penalty.

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