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.