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Travelers screaming for travel, romance and better loyalty programs

By MICHELLE GROENKE, United Press International   |   Feb. 3, 2013 at 6:01 AM   |   Comments

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Travelers are more interested in value and past experience than hotel and airline points when it comes to making reservations, a travel industry survey suggests.

The recent survey by Deloitte suggests a "steep decline" in consumer loyalty to travel brands.

Deloitte said only 8 percent of survey respondents indicated they always stay at the same brand of hotel. Only 14 percent said they always fly the same airline.

"According to Deloitte's survey, it is clear that travel brands need to up their game if they want to drive genuine loyalty among consumers," Adam Weissenberg, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and U.S. Travel, Hospitality and Leisure leader, said in a news release.

Weissenberg said hotels hotels and airlines "need to focus on enhancing and personalizing the consumer experience."

BusinessTravelDestinations.com said business travel is expected to increase this year.

"Business travelers are placing a greater emphasis on why they need to travel, and that is helping them to better demonstrate a clear return on investment," said Rob Hard, publisher and editor of BusinessTravelDestinations.com, in a report offering predictions for 2013 business travel.

Hard said Orlando, Fla., London, Shanghai and Mexico's Riviera Maya are likely to be top destinations for business meetings in their respective regions. Citing research in the 2013 Global Meetings Forecast by American Express Meetings & Events, Hard said London should be able to leverage its Olympics legacy status to attract other major events and programs.

Las Vegas, Barcelona, Singapore and San Juan, Puerto Rico, also topped the Business Travel Destinations list.

Market research suggests U.S. travelers are increasingly mixing their business and leisure travel, with nearly half (47 percent) of business travelers adding leisure extensions to at least one of their trips every year, a March 2012 report by PhoCusWright indicated.

That could open the door to more romance as men, more so than women, look for ways to add a romantic getaway to travel schedules this year, Hotwire.com said.

Hotwire said an online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults found 65 percent of Americans who travel believe their relationships with their loved ones would be better if they went on more leisure trips together.

If they could afford to take one more leisure trip than they may have already planned, 38 percent of those surveyed by Harris Interactive said they'd first want to take a romantic trip with a spouse or significant other instead of a family getaway, a solo trip or a vacation with friends. This preference was significantly higher in men (42 percent) than in women (33 percent).

Hotwire, making a smart marketing connection, says a spontaneous romantic trip would make "the perfect Valentine's gift to give a boyfriend or husband." The website's five most popular destinations between Valentine's Day and President's Day are New York, Orlando, Las Vegas, Chicago and San Francisco.

The website says not to scoff at the idea of Orlando as a romantic getaway, suggesting there is plenty of romance for two in the theme-park capital of the world, including sunset gondola rides in the Kraft Azalea Gardens in Winter Park and snuggling up together at ICEBAR Orlando. Newlyweds can pick-up special "Just Married" buttons for special perks at the theme parks.

Travelers shopping for the best holiday travel deals may get some help from mobile apps that can provide access to holiday travel bargains that top the typical online discounts. Priceline.com says a study of New Year's Eve hotel booking activity found 42 percent of all mobile-equipped Priceline.com users waited until after 5 p.m. local time to book their New Year's Eve hotel reservations.

Travelers using the "tonight-only deals" feature on the Priceline app to book their New Year's Eve rooms saved an average 53 percent in San Francisco, 52 percent in Las Vegas, 41 percent in Seattle and 37 percent in Chicago.

"Travel apps like Priceline can be game-changers for hotels on holidays like New Year's," John Caine, Priceline's chief product officer, said in a news release. "It gives them that one more shot at selling last-minute rooms to mobile-equipped travelers who already may be in, or close to town, having dinner, clubbing or watching the fireworks."

Looking for a great deal on a trip to Norway? Just scream. Visitnorway.com is creating the longest scream in the world to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of "The Scream" painter Edvard Munch. "To celebrate the painter and the inspiring Norwegian landscape, Visitnorway is releasing a short film, to show the modern day scream experiences in Norway," the website said.

"We want people to share and join the celebration by creating the longest scream in the world," Norwegian director of tourism Per-Arne Tuftin said last week in a news release. "The film is showing the modern day scream experiences in Norway, the only difference is, this time it is all about the positive experiences in life that make you scream."

Visitnorway is inviting people to add their own screams to the video to create the longest scream in the world.

"We basically want to make the world scream," Tuftin said. Travel vouchers ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 will be awarded to those who post the best screams.

Iceland Travel is hoping U.S. travelers with a taste of adventure and a wardrobe full of winter snow gear will take advantage of a new winter adventure package to Greenland for the Inuit dog sledding season.

The tour operator said West Greenland is now more accessible thanks to increased flights by Air Iceland from Reykjavik to the tiny town of Ilulissat, 185 miles north of the Arctic Circle, where dog sledding is still a primary means of transportation .

Topics: Edvard Munch
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