Recession changes habits of savvy travelers

The recession is changing the way people vacation.

The results of the recent Fitzgerald +CO Recessionary Travel survey mirror what nearly every other study on consumer spending has shown.

More than 1,000 consumers surveyed say price, 43 per cent, and family, 29 per cent, are the top priorities when planning a vacation.

Based on those findings Cayman’s reputation as a high end destination should be a detriment, instead it has just the opposite impact.

According to Melissa Ladley, communications director at the Ritz- Carlton, Grand Cayman, the reason is value doesn’t equal cheap.

‘Luxury and family overlap. Research shows people are only taking one vacation and they want it to count. Customers know what they want and family travel doesn’t sacrifice on comfort, safety, or activities’.

And what customers want are all-in-one deals; something local marketers have worked hard to create.

‘The Department of Tourism has long recognised the importance of family travel and works closely with the Ministry of Tourism, Cayman Airways and private sector partners to attract this market segment. For example, this summer with the purchase of a Cayman Summer Splash package, kids can fly free with Cayman Airways, and stay, play, eat, and dive free,’ said Shomari Scott, acting director of Tourism.

Mr. Scott says Cayman has always been marketed as a family friendly destination.

The difficulty, according to researchers, is adapting marketing strategies to the new way of consumer thinking. A family promotion offered two years ago probably isn’t going to attract today’s travellers. The proof that marketers understand the mindset and rationale for choosing a destination lies in promotions that had better include variety, uniqueness, and appeal to a broad age group.

‘If we thought that tourism was a dynamic and globally competitive industry before the current economic recession started to bite, then it is even more true today. Travellers are presented with more options at better prices and those responsible for the continued success of tourism in the Cayman Islands are challenged to work smarter and more cohesively with industry partners to monitor and respond to trends in the marketplace,’ said Mr. Scott.

Mrs. Ladley agrees choices are no longer an option; they are now mandatory to stay competitive.

The Ritz offers two family oriented packages one is the Summer Splash deal the other is an exclusive offer incorporating the Ambassador’s of the Environment programmes and activities.

In fact exclusive family friendly deals are popping up on the websites of resorts, condominiums, and villas around the Island.

The deals ranging from kids camps in the summer to free professional family photos in the winter are a strong indication that marketers are taking the research seriously.