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Travel industry holds host of opportunities

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Henry Harteveldt joined Forrester Research in San Francisco in 2000 to head up the company's travel research unit, bringing tremendous marketing experience in working for top industry companies such as Fairmont Hotels, Continental Airlines, TWA, GetThere and Sierra Expressway Airlines, a Bay area carrier he co-founded.

BtoB: What advice would you give to marketers trying to understand how travel and hospitality companies make purchases?

Harteveldt: One thing you have to recognize is that many airlines and hotels make spending decisions on the global, national and local levels. For instance, United Airlines may make a corporate decision to serve Eli's Cheesecake on its flights worldwide, but a regional office may choose a local grower to provide apples and bananas at specific airports. The same goes for chain and independent hotels. However, that's not to say a small company with a unique product couldn't break though and make a national sale. With marketing to any new audience, you need to do your homework.

BtoB: Besides Web-based booking systems, what technologies and services are airlines, hotels, car rental agencies and others taking advantage of?

Harteveldt: There's really been a boom in customer relationship management. For larger companies, data are scattered and it helps them bring them all together so they can get a better single view of individual customers. Wyndham Hotels [& Resorts, Wyndham International] has implemented this better than anyone with their Wyndham by Request program, in which frequent customers indicate their preferences-such as bed size, having bottled water in the room and even pillow type-and then each time they visit everything they requested is there for them. Goldilocks didn't get such good treatment. -R. S.

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