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Canadian Travel Industry Leaders Forecast Summer

6/18/2009

CANADIAN TRAVEL INDUSTRY LEADERS FORECAST A SUMMER OF TRAVEL BARGAINS AND DOMESTIC TRAVEL

Best Western International, CAA and TIAC Address State of the Industry, Forecast New Travel Trends at Annual Best Western Leisure Travel Summit

TORONTO (June 17, 2009) – Travel executives from Best Western International, CAA (Canadian Automobile Association) and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) convened last week to address the summer travel outlook, and predicted that Canadians will actively seek aggressive deals before booking travel and stay closer to home when vacationing.

What will get travellers on the road?
Dorothy Dowling, Best Western’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, said people today are seeking value like never before. Families are still hitting the road, but are looking for the most budget-friendly vacation, she stated. In many cases, that means leveraging rewards program perks to offset costs.

“Our loyalty program has seen a 60 percent increase in the number of points issued and redeemed,” said Dowling. “Best Western is delivering value to travellers by putting the best deals we have ever offered into the market place. This summer, we are rewarding travellers with a free night after staying with us just twice - earning points while they stay and bonus points for simply booking online.”

Canadian travel expert and YouMustBeTrippin.com blogger Bryson Forbes agreed, indicating that value would reign supreme for summer travel, but that quality was an important part of the value equation.

“Value is a function of quality and price,” said Forbes. “You can’t have value with just a low price point; the experience has to include good customer service. It wasn’t that long ago that price alone ruled travel decisions. Travel choice today is impacted by the customer experience.”

What types of vacations are people looking to take?
The economic climate, cost of air travel and new passport legislation are all causing travellers to take another look at their destination of choice.

“I am calling it the Yay-cation,” said Chris Jones, vice president, public affairs for TIAC. “As in ‘yay’ – I can afford a vacation! People are cutting back in other areas, like lattes, lunch and clothes, because they want the money to go on vacation. Vacations may be shorter and closer to home, but people will take them.”

Alison Hermansen, executive vice president association and club services for CAA, noted that new passport legislation, which requires that all citizens have a passport to cross the Canada/United States border, will have a positive impact on Canadians travelling domestically. TIAC reported approximately 54 percent of Canadians have a passport.

“We are anticipating a strong summer drive market, with Canadians exploring their own backyard,” said Hermansen. “The uses of our on-the-road features, like Trip Tik, maps and tour books, have shown a steady increase which points to a heavy road trip season.”

Where can travellers find deals?
Travel brand Web sites are great sources for deals as these companies often post the best offers directly through their own marketing channels. Best Western provides its lowest rate guarantee for all its hotels in North America on www.bestwestern.com, noted Dowling.

Travellers should look for targeted communications, such as newsletters and e-mails that provide the best deals and are often segmented based on the specific interests of the traveller.

Hermansen commented that the days of mass marketing are over. “Our goal is to have a relationship with each of our customers, and with 5.5 million members, that can be difficult,” she said. “We have to be smart and innovative to reach our customers and drive the right product to the right members, which we do through targeted direct marketing and social media.”

The panelists agreed that social media was a powerful tactic for reaching customers. Avenues such as Facebook and Twitter allow companies to not only deliver deals to customers, but also create an open dialogue for feedback.

ABOUT BEST WESTERN INTERNATIONAL
Best Western International is THE WORLD'S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN®, providing marketing, reservations and operational support to over 4,000* independently owned and operated member hotels in 80* countries and territories worldwide. An industry pioneer since 1946, Best Western has grown into an iconic brand that hosts 400,000* worldwide guests each night. Best Western's diverse property portfolio, its greatest strength, stems from a business model designed to give owners maximum flexibility to address market-specific needs. Equally committed to the business and leisure traveler, Best Western recently embarked on a mission to lead the hotel industry in customer care. World Vision is the charity of choice for Best Western in building the world's largest family, as our hotels and staff sponsor children in need around the globe. Since 2004, Best Western has served as the Official Hotel of NASCAR®. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit www.bestwestern.com.

*Numbers are approximate and can fluctuate.

ABOUT CAA
CAA is a federation of 9 automobile clubs serving 5.3 million members through 138 offices across Canada. CAA provides a wide range of member services and works to improve travelling and motoring conditions at home and around the world, including national advocacy efforts on both traffic safety and public policy issues that affect Canadian motorists.
www.caa.ca

ABOUT TIAC
The Tourism Industry Association of Canada is the voice of Canadian tourism. Founded in 1930 to encourage the development of tourism in Canada, TIAC serves today as the national private-sector advocate for this $74.9 billion industry, representing the interests of the tourism business community nation-wide. It successfully influences government thinking and action on behalf of Canadian tourism businesses, promoting positive measures that help the industry grow and prosper. TIAC’s membership reflects partnerships among all sectors of the industry, and provincial, territorial and regional tourism associations, enabling the association to address the full range of issues facing Canadian tourism—forcefully and effectively. Its activities focus on legislative and regulatory barriers to the growth of Canadian tourism.