July 5, 2011

As my wife and I prepare to head out on an extended trip to Alaska, we need to stay digitally connected. Not only have we been recruited by the Alaska Travel Industry Association to blog and post on their travel site, but I also need to connect with various clients. We are not alone. According to a survey of 2,000 people by American Express, 79% of travelers expect to remain connected all or some of the time on their next vacation. For many, the goal is to stay in touch with friends and family, but 68% (up from 58% in 2010) plan to check email for work. So, if you’re in the lodging and RV park industry, having high-speed internet availability is perhaps now more important than having TVs in the room or even a land line phone.

But some hotels are gaining business by promoting “unplugged” and “digital detox” packages that require folks to turn over their digital devices upon check-in. A lot of young people love this option. It gives them the freedom not to be connected. As reported in the Wall St. Journal, “Guests at the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel can book ‘Zen and the Art of Detox’ on some summer weekends. The Hotel Monaco Chicago offers anyone who reserves its ‘tranquility suite’ the option to add a ‘Technology Break’.”

 Bottom line: Sometimes marketing opportunities can be found in counter-intuitive actions.

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