Interview with Amber Gibson, from HOTELS Magazine about the Micro-Tripper.
Amber Gibson: Do you see "micro-tripping" growing as a trend for Americans? Internationally?
Matt Zito: “The Micro-Tripper” is a term I coined to describe a new type of travel buyer on the rise. The Micro-Tripper—short-term, purely spontaneous travel enabled by the flash-sale, group buying, and private-travel sale start-ups, the new leisure travel market segment on the rise. The Micro-Tripper trend will continue to grow in both the U.S. and Internationally, as global economic conditions continue to deteriorate and travelers look for vacations and getaways that are shortened in length from 3-7 days to 1-3 days.
Amber Gibson: Why has micro-tripping become so popular? Does it have to do with lifestyle changes? Can you give any specific examples?
Matt Zito: In the U.S people are working longer hours and earning less money. Travelers are looking for 1N-2N getaways where they can get away, enjoy a new experience, and partake in a destination activity. The Micro-Tripper trend has been ignited by the new social e-commerce travel offerings from, Living Social, Jetsetter and lifestyle platforms like BuyWithMe. The trend has been created by the convergence of social networking and sharing, new e-commerce technology, an extended recession, our insatiable desire to buy deals, and email marketing, the primary delivery path of the new “travel deal” product.
Amber Gibson: From a hotelier perspective, what can hotels do to appeal more to micro-trippers?
Matt Zito: Hotels need to be open to the idea of working with the new social e-commerce travel companies. The social e-commerce travel companies and lifestyle platforms are a new distribution channel. I view the 50% off sales as a new distribution channel to not only place heads-in-beds but to build new clients for the hotel. I owned a small lodge in the early 2000’s and was able to generate a repeat clientele of between 15%-25%. Acquiring new clients is one strategy where I think this new channel makes sense. I have been working with a few of the new social e-commerce players and I have a network of over 100+ revenue managers and directors of sales at boutique hotels throughout North America. My work and analysis says that 80%-90% of Micro-Trippers are new clients to the hotel properties.
Amber Gibson: Do you have any advice for hoteliers on how to capitalize on this new type of traveler?
Matt Zito: Yes, start by partnering with a few of the social e-commerce travel players and run a few sales. Get your feet wet see how it goes. I would also start looking to create my own one-of-a-kind travel packages that are 1N, 2N in duration, include dinner or a meal, with one-to-two destination activities. Hotels talk about generating ancillary income through selling hotel owned products like spa, for example. What I don’t understand is why they can’t reach out into their destination and start creating incremental revenue streams from the many activity providers that are in their local communities. There was a recent study done by Phocuswright that concluded that the destination activity market in the U.S. is a $28B market. The majority of destination activity providers either don’t have a website and or can’t even take bookings online. Why not create an opportunity for your guests to more easily reach these businesses in your destination and make money at for the hotel? I am really passionate about this and I am currently looking to work with a few hotels to develop plans to integrate this into their business model.
Amber Gibson: How can hotels convert micro-trippers into loyal customers?
Matt Zito: Micro-Trippers are people and consumers like everyone else. A hotel needs to create value, offer an amazing experience and of course be hospitable. The myth is that Micro-Trippers won’t come back and pay full price when they have previously gone on a discounted trip. This is entirely not true. It’s like anything else in travel. If you have a great travel experience and make an emotional connection to a place or people you meet, you will return and pay full price because at that point its not about the money.
Amber Gibson: Do micro-trippers tend to return to the same location(s), or are they always looking for new experiences?
Matt Zito: I don’t have the research data on the answer to this question but I am planning a big survey to my 100+ hotel contacts this Fall to gage their feedback on selling to the social e-commerce websites and I hope to have more insight to this question. If your hotel is interested in participating in my survey please contact me.
Amber Gibson: Why is it important for hotels to zero in on this new group?
Matt Zito: It’s important because, Micro-Tripper’s are not online searching a vacation to your hotel or destination like a traveler who is visiting an OTA website or visiting your hotels website and pre-planning a trip in the traditional sense. The woman in the family leads the spontaneous micro-tripper. Micro-trippers take between three and five trips per year, on one-or-two-night stays. Micro-trippers are staying at lodging properties and destinations that 75% of the trippers are unfamiliar with, and/or have never visited before, and did not plan on traveling to. The trips purchased were never consciously planned or pre-planned and an overwhelming number of the purchases by micro-trippers occurred within twenty-four hours of hearing about the trip from their friends and family, or through the email marketing that comes into their email box.