Posted by: JLC Travel & Tourism | November 15, 2013

What is Tourism Research Analysis and Database System (TRAADS)?



    What is Tourism Research Analysis and Database System (TRAADS) and why is it important?  TRAADS is a real-time reporting system that provides destinations and businesses within the tourism sector critical information for destination management, planning, marketing, pricing, and selling.  JLC Travel & Tourism Consulting, Inc. developed TRAADS subsequent to identifying a gap in the tourism sector, which has disrupted the ability for better research and standardized/structured data collection.  To clarify, many industries associated with the tourism sector have standardized data collection, but there are no standards across the industries to create a comprehensive view of the sector as a whole.  

     Purpose of TRAADS: 1.  Structured data collection and standardize reporting; 2. Real time reporting; 3. Comprehensive data analysis that will benefit sustainable tourism, agro tourism, crisis management, economic development, business development, marketing, tourist behavior, and government policies.  In short, TRAADS will create standardize reporting system using comprehensive data resulting in predictive analysis for the tourism sector.

    When most people define tourism, their initial response includes the basic concept of traveling to a destination.  However, when probed further no one really has a standard response to the question.  This is due to no one standard definition of tourism within the sector.   This has often been touted as the root of issues within tourism development.  There is no one set definition of tourism and what the parameters of what constitutes a visitor.  Many attempts have been made to define tourism and visitation, and in most circumstances destination and tourism related businesses pick the one that most closely relates to their overall needs and use that as their standard. 

     The inspiration for the creation JLC Travel & Tourism Consulting, Inc. resulted from work with a state tourism barometer which provided an understanding of how data works together and how the definition of tourism is fluid.  The definition changes based on the destination and the needs of the environment.  A lack of a standard definition is an issue, but not critical.  The definition should be an umbrella to what is needed to better assess tourism globally.  If we define the parameters of tourism too much we will limit our ability to effectively analyze visitation and a destinations economic health.  How does this pertain to TRAADS?

     Data collection is directly related to how we define tourism.  The data collected is a representation of how destinations define tourism and visitation.  TRAADS is designed to collect all pertinent data and customize/tailor the specific type and amount of data to the needs of the individual industries, businesses, and destinations within the Tourism Sector.  The goal of TRAADS is not to create or increase redundant reporting, but standardize it at the sector level. 

    Tourism constitutes a vast portion of the global GDP.  As many destinations throughout the world transitions to service industry based tourism is even more critical to understand to increase their overall GDP.  The standardization of data collection and reporting that TRAADS provides will facilitate the ability for destinations and the tourism sector to maximize its potential.      


5 Tips to Drive More Direct Bookings

Written by Ashley Verrill

If a love-hate relationship exists in the hospitality industry, it’s between hotels and online travel agencies such as Hotwire, Orbitz and Priceline. OTAs extract considerable fees, which understandably grate on the hotels that must pay them. At they same time, they produce an huge amount of bookings, which hotels covet.

Hotels would prefer to avoid these commission payments by directing travelers to book through their own websites. But OTAs have become so popular that, hotel managers can no longer choose to just avoid these travel deal sites altogether. OTA parity agreements make it difficult to compete because they require hotels to guarantee that room rates on their own websites are not below those offered by the OTAs.

Despite this challenge, savvy hotel operators are finding ways to provide incentives that entice customers to book directly through their own websites, front desk or over the phone. In this article, we present five such strategies that hotel operators can use without conflicting with their OTA agreements.

No. 1: Offer Deals to a Gated Audience

Rate parity limitations only apply to rates that you advertise publicly, or that anyone on the Internet can see. You can still offer deals to a limited audience.

This can include your Facebook or Twitter following, people signed up for your email list, or even people who call you over the phone. One hotel near Atlanta ran a Facebook-only offer that advertised a promotion code for discounted rates through winter. The hotel received nearly $2,000 in revenue directly from Facebook during the month of the promotion. In another example, a hotel in Seattle offered returning guests the chance to earn a $25 gift card if they booked direct. The hotel sent an email blast to past guests and afterwards experienced a 10 percent year-over-year increase in reservations on the site during the three months of the promotion.

No. 2: Offer Discounted Value-Add Packages

Rate parity only applies to offers for the exact room advertised on the OTA. This doesn’t prevent you from packing that same room with other services for a value that is overall a better deal than what’s on Hotwire, Priceline, or where ever.

You could, for example, package a room with drink tickets and a shuttle ride to an event happening that weekend and provide savings that equate to more than what is on the OTA. Other Add-ons could include parking, wi-fi or a discount for room service.

No. 3: Tap into Your Most Loyal Fan Base

One of the best ways to cut the OTA out of the picture is to leverage your past guests. Anyone who stays at your hotel should be added to your email list for “discounts, offers and other exclusive deals.”

This is a list you can email and offer packaged services or other discounted rates “as a thank you for your past business.”

Some hotels we spoke to reported success with direct mail advertisements. They sent 5 x 8 postcards inviting the customer to “book today” for a discount on their next stay. These postcards are immediately reminiscent of travel, and can be posted on the refrigerator or bulletin board until that return customer is ready to book again.

No. 4: Follows Website Design Best Practices

A marketing channel many hotels seem to give scant attention is right under their own doormat, so to speak—their own website. All too often, hotels ignore the most obvious ways to optimize their site’s user experience. Hotels must make it as clear and hassle-free as possible to book from them, or potential customers will seek out an easier solution.

You have to capture the user’s interest immediately. There should be a call to action, something that says, ‘Book Now! and integrates with an online hotel management system’” She also recommends having a prominently displayed phone number on the site. Also, many times when customers are shopping on OTAs, they assume they’ll get the “less than desirable rooms.” Make sure your most attractive rooms are front and center on the home page. This might be just the push your website visitor needs to shell out the extra amount needed to book direct.

No. 5: Use Online Reviews to Draw Website Visitors

Many times when customers use OTAs, they get a list of five or so properties in a similar price range, which prompts them to visit review sites to see which property other guests have liked the most. This is also your opportunity to draw customers to your own site, rather than having them go back to the OTA to book.

In order to draw Yelp and TripAdvisor users back to your site (instead of to the OTA), hotel operators should respond to every comment users post. For example, if someone comments on how the restaurant was, a hotel could respond by thanking the customer and letting them know about a dinner discount currently available to customers that book direct. This shows customers you care and are willing to take steps to provide them with more value.

Posted by: JLC Travel & Tourism | March 10, 2011


The Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University and Animal Welfare Approved have teamed up to conduct a nationwide study on American food choices and tourism.  The project aims to develop a greater understanding of the sustainable food market, motivations for purchase, and eating preferences while traveling.  How far will people go to get the foods they really want?  The survey is available here online.

Participants who complete the survey will be eligible to win a $100 gift certificate for Animal Welfare Approved products, like the finest grassfed beef, pasture-raised pork and world-class award-winning cheese. The survey is open through March 31, 2011. Results of the survey are expected to be available on June 1, 2011. 


      The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has taken on the daunting task of enhancing airline passenger protection regulations.  In other words, the DOT is working to protect consumer rights.   Many changes have occurred regarding airline travel, air ticket purchasing (unbundling), and travel reimbursement.  Many aspects of the travel community are, and will be, affected by the changes.  However, as airlines change their policies, pricing, and fees so does the regulations that govern fair and ethical practice.  The purposes of the changes are meant to protect all parties involved with air travel; the airlines, the passenger, and the agents.

     In June of 2010, the DOT issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) with an open period for comment.  There has been no secret regarding the proposed changes and enhancements the DOT is considering making.  It has openly welcomed opinion and comments regarding the policies and will consider all those that have been submitted properly.  Even though the period for comments closed in August, the DOT is processing and evaluating all comments to facilitate their final decision.  Of all the proposed changes, one of the more controversial is transparency of ancillary fees.

      Airlines are cautious about being over regulated. They are skeptical that they won’t be able to operate effectively in the consumer market.  Evidence to this fact can be found in many recent articles, such as, DOT Airline Fee Proposal Sparks Content Clash, written by Jay Boehmer.  In the article, published by Business Travel News, Boehmer states, “Airlines, meanwhile, have advocated a free-market approach, not regulatory intervention, as a guiding principle in governing which data airlines submit to distributors.”  However, their desire to determine what information should be distributed is not within the letter of the law, depending on how you interpret it. 

      According to the DOTs NPRM, its rule on price advertising (14 CFR 399.84) adopted in 1984 empowers the Department to prohibit unfair and deceptive practices as well as unfair methods of competition in air transportation sale.  Up until airlines had unbundled their services they had been in compliance with the regulation. However, it seems that the unbundling is now the reason airlines fair practice is being called into question and a demand for change is being heard.   

     Airline business models have changed and unbundling services are here to stay, but it has not slowed consumer advocacy, trade industry, and government organizations from scrutinizing and questioning the ramifications of these actions.   When consumers and industry professionals felt their concerns were not being heard by the airlines about how the lack of transparency was affecting air travel, they bonded together and formed a travel coalition in hopes that by organizing, the sheer numbers of unhappy travelers could evoke change.  The Consumer Travel Alliance and Business Travel Coalition ( does not want airlines to rebundle their services, but be fair to the consumer and make the fees more transparent during travel searches and booking.  The airlines have heard, but not listened to the concerns and complaints of the consumer.  Their perceived stand to maintain their current standards has escalated to the intervention and mediation of the DOT and with this comes the possibility of some very unwelcomed change. 

     The contentions surmounting over ancillary fees (also known as “hidden fees”) have resulted in the following possible changes:

  • airlines will be required to disclose two prices for certain air fare advertising (1. the full fare, including all mandatory charges; 2. the full fare plus the cost of baggage charges that traditionally have been included in the price of the ticket),
  • e-tickets to  include information about baggage allowance and fees,
  • websites accessible to general public to disclose all fees for optional services,
  • and carriers make all the information that must be made directly available to consumers via global distribution systems (GDS).  (DOT,  p.39-44) 

When reading through the proposed changes it is difficult to see the downside for any party involved.  Airlines make a few changes to allow all parties to easily view, compare, and book flights and everyone finds themselves with a much more pleasant travel experience.  However, airline carriers have found a potential downside and may be the root of their hesitation to adopt these changes. 

     A statement made in Boehmer’s article by Al Lenza, CEO of Lenza Group consulting firm, indicates that the new regulations will undermined airlines ability to negotiate with third party distributors.  It remains to be determined where the flawed logic remains.  Airlines are bargaining with the price of the ticket, not the additional fees they charge, which would indicate that it wouldn’t matter what the ancillary fees are.  The Airline industry is not giving enough credit to the traveler to determine which airlines will be the most cost effective including airline fees.  In today’s market consumers are fickle and their brand loyalty will only go so far.

      To take the issue one step further, there is growing concern with consumers regarding price gouging.  Thirty one states already have laws against price gouging.  The primary focus of those laws is price of gasoline, but it is not a far leap to baggage fees; especially, when baggage fees for some airlines have more than doubled in the past hear and in some cases cost nearly as much as a plane ticket.  This is a potential concern the airline industry should consider.  How far can they push the consumer before the consumer appeals for federal laws to restrict the industry?  Should airlines appeal to the current consumer needs by making ancillary fees more accessible (therefore creating easier cost comparison), or should they fight for what may be seemingly insignificant to their bottom line and create more issues later, which may end in the form of a lawsuit? 

      Could another concern of the airline industry be reporting practices?  If airports are required to make their fees more accessible, will they have to report their earnings differently?  For example, a report released in July by the U.S. Department of Transportation indicated that 1st Quarter domestic air fares had the second highest level since 2001.  However, industry leaders were quick to advise the public that they were far from recovery.  What should be made evident is that the report is based only on domestic itinerary fares.  This report did not include round trip, or international (long haul) fares, or ancillary fees which have been unbundled from the cost of a ticket.  If the regulations change, will that mean that the report will be required to bundle the cost of ancillary fees into the cost of air fare for reporting purposes (which for the 1st Quarter in 2010 was $768,546 million)?

       The bottom line is the consumer is the most important aspect to all parties affected by the proposed regulations put forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation.  It is time for the industry to evolve and ensure that the information is made readily available to the consumer in a way that enhances their travel experience.  By withholding and making the information more challenging to obtain (whether intentionally or not), airlines are undermining the consumers’ trust.  Are these changes spot on?  No one will know for sure until they are incorporated.  The great thing about law and regulation is that it is shaped and molded by people and those people in this case are the airline industry’s consumers. 


Baggage Fees by Airline 2010

Airlines ranked by year-to-date baggage fee revenue, dollars in thousands (000)
Rank Airline 1Q 2Q 3Q             (Dec 13 release) 4Q Year-to-date
1 Delta Air Lines  217,773 255,950     473,723
2 American Airlines  128,539 152,059     280,598
3 US Airways  120,720 135,601     256,321
4 Continental Airlines 76,603 91,031     167,634
5 United Airlines 71,145 84,824     155,969
6 AirTran Airways 35,005 39,204     74,209
7 Alaska Airlines  21,166 25,394     46,560
8 Spirit Air Lines 16,033 16,811     32,844
9 Frontier Airlines  13,872 15,470     29,342
10 Allegiant Air 14,826 14,437     29,263
11 JetBlue Airways 13,763 14,012     27,775
12 Hawaiian Airlines  11,672 13,523     25,195
13 Virgin America 7,328 9,124     16,452
14 Southwest Airlines 6,872 7,923     14,795
15 Republic Airlines 6,418 6,366     12,784
16 Sun Country Airlines 3,971 2,406     6,377
17 Horizon Air 762 5,293     6,055
18 USA 3000 Airlines 954 819     1,772
19 Continental Micronesia 585 813     1,398
20 Mesa Airlines 539 731     1,270
  All Airlines 768,546 891,791     1,660,337

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Schedule P-12


Boehmer, Jay (2010). “Dot Airline Fee Proposal Sparks Content Clash.” Business Travel News, Retrieved October 14, 2010 from

Forgione, Mary (2010). “Hidden Airline Fees’ targeted by new travel coalition.” Daily Travel & Deal Blog, Las Angeles Times, Retrieved October 15, 2010 from–7484/ 

US Department of Transportation (DOT)(2010). “Enhancing Airline Passenger  Protections” Department of Transportation. Office of the Secretary: Washington, DC.

Posted by: JLC Travel & Tourism | October 11, 2010

What to do in Virginia to get in a festive spirit this fall?

    Written by Susan Abramowitz

     Fall is in the air.  School buses are back on the roads, the leaves are changing color, and I can smell the wood burning fire pits on my evening walks.  Perhaps no other season absorbs one’s senses like autumn.  It’s harvest time and more than one family is making a trip to the pumpkin patch or apple orchard.  We had the best of both worlds on our recent trip to a local farm’s fall festival.  Cox’s Farm in Centerville, VA is a seasonal one stop attraction that really does have a little something for all ages. 

      My husband and I made the morning drive to Cox Farms in Virginia with our 1 ½ year old and his visiting Grandma.  From the moment we arrived Cox Farm was abuzz with activity.  Families with children were everywhere smiling and having the best time possible.  We were greeted by the sound of live music off in the distance.  My toddler was mesmerized with the farm, running from one attraction to the next, hardly staying still during our three hour break from suburbia.  We began our journey through the farm with a demonstration of daily farm life, complete with tractors to sit on, old fashioned water pumps, and a life size mock cow to milk.  Boys being boys, I had to drag little Alex away from the tractors, but the nearby pigs made up for its absence.  Most children are amazed by farm animals, and this farm had them in abundance.  Llamas, chickens, and goats, galore.  And let’s not forget the newborn piglets and cows complete with milking demonstrations. 

     Perhaps the highlight of the morning was the hayride, the first for everyone in our little family party.  The tractor driver pulled our hay cart all around the farm, showing off one little scene after another, ranging from a witches’ village, a Halloween-style spooky cemetery, to a dimly lit covered bridge guarded by a troll (who looked surprising like a teenage girl).  Our encounter with trolls, witches and yes, space aliens, must have brought out the inner child in Grandma, because even she went down one of the many large hill slides and screamed all the way!  For the adventurous set, there is a corn maze to wander about, which sounds especially creepy after dark during the farm’s “Fields of Fear”.  However, we will have to wait a few years for Alex to be ready for a pitch black corn maze, hayrides by moonlight and crackling bonfires. 

     All of our farm fun and exertion worked up an appetite so we helped ourselves to the complimentary apples and cider and found a picnic table to enjoy the bagged lunches we brought with us.  For those wishing to splurge a bit, food was available to purchase and I was sorely tempted on that chilly morning to take advantage of the Starbucks coffee booth.  Alas, the rain clouds were coming in so we decided to pack up and head out.  However, that wasn’t quite the end of our rural rampage, as we took a walk through the pumpkin patch and farmer’s market on the way back to our car.  Alex truly did not want to leave, but he has an armful of little pumpkins to show for his morning at the farm.  My only regret is not finding a local fall festival sooner!

Posted by: JLC Travel & Tourism | August 17, 2010

The Stressors of Flying

How hostile is it to fly these days?  Very!  I have more anxiety flying than I do when I get in my car and it is not because I am afraid to fly.  It is because I dislike how hostile and rude people are while they are traveling.  I will say it over and over, “It’s not the being on vacation or at a destination, but it’s the getting there that I don’t like.”   Once I step outside the airport I am relaxed and excited about where I am at, but the process of getting ready to fly and the entire airport experience is the most frustrating event.

I have given a lot of thought to why people are so hostile at airports and on airplanes and my outcome may not be bullet proof, but I think that there may be something to it.  What are contributing factors that put fliers into a more hostile demeanor? The same that put any person on edge- money and consumer rights.  Prior to budget airlines which created a pricing frenzy in the airline industry, flying seemed much more civilized.  It was more expensive, but I didn’t have exuberant costs for checking my bag, getting a snack during the flight, or getting on the plane sooner than someone else in economy class seating.  There was a time when flight attendants always had a smile and were well groomed, there was a meal provided (or at least peanuts and/or pretzels) during a flight, and the only time I pulled out my credit card for luggage was when it weighed over 75 lbs.

Now I am not blaming airlines that are cost effective, but the price competition for other airlines and the measures taken to be more cost effective have taken their toll on the consumer and the overall travel climate.  On top of the cost there is the added safety precautions that extend beyond the aircraft itself.  Terrorism is now something our global community has to worry about and the elevated risk protection has added to the stress of traveling.  This creates an additional stressor to traveling and that is getting to the airport with enough time to go through security.  We get there early, only to sit and wait in line with our computer pulled out of your bag, our shoes in hand, and going through our purses (or carry ons) making sure that we didn’t in advertently pack something that may get confiscated or cause the line to back up even more.  This is only to find out that the line is being held up because someone else doesn’t understand the security check processes and wants to argue with the TSA employee about taking their shoes off.  Or how about the stress of having to be shuttled from one end of the airport to another just to find out that you have to go back through security to make your connecting flight.  It is no longer a streamlined process.

At this point the traveler and the airport staff is wearing thin with patience.  Travelers do not enjoy feeling like they are being nickeled and dimed.  They want to feel like they are benefiting from the money they are investing.  Yes airlines, traveling is an emotional investment which you are praying upon.  To recap, travelers have invested a large amount of money to travel only to have a “hurry up and wait” experience through security.  It is important for the airline staff to remember that the consumer is spending a significant amount of money, which has the implied entitlement of being treated well and with some type of kindness (based upon the airlines marketing).  I have witnessed firsthand that this is less often than one would think.  It is hard for a traveler to remain pleasant when they are treated like cattle to get through the security gate, making them feel like they are a suspect every time they fly, and therefore requires more effort on the staffs part to maintain customer satisfaction.  Do not misunderstand, I do believe security checks are necessary and a part of our safety, but it doesn’t change how it makes someone feel as they are stripped down to their bare feet or socks.

There was a time when we were all treated like valued customers.  Now we have to lobby for customer rights.  Yes, you read that correctly.  We as consumers have to fight for our rights to be treated fairly by the airlines.  We are paying for a service, but that doesn’t guarantee that we are treated well.  So to ensure we are protected from paying additional fees for changing our flights and anything else that would entail inconvenience a representative we pay an additional fee for travel insurance.  It’s not pleasant to think that we pay for all these items that at one time were courtesy and covered in the cost of our ticket.

No one likes to start off traveling on the defense, but the airlines have set up an “us against them” mentality.  So instead of a stress free vacation we worry about beating the other guy to the counter, we worry about overhead and under seat space on the aircraft, we worry about whether or not our luggage will make it to the other end or in one piece, we worry when will we get to eat next, and worry who is going to elbow us to get off the plane first.

The fact of the matter is, we are not going to change the airlines fees and processes overnight, so what can we do in the mean time?  We can all keep in mind we are in the same boat.  We all paid a hefty fee to travel and that we do not have control over others behavior, but we do over our own.  Try smiling once in a while when you are dealing with the airline staff.  Let them know you understand how stressful their job is and that their assistance to resolve your issue is appreciated.  Don’t attack them.  And remember, if you feel slighted or mistreated you have consumer rights and can take it up with the airline management.  They do care, and if they ignore you, you have the consumer protection agency and other government agency set up to assist you. 

Now, for the airline staff, you don’t get off that easy.  Remember the consumer is always right and if they are wrong you need to have the professionalism to resolve the issue in a calm professional manner.  Don’t treat the consumer like an idiot and a third class citizen.  Let me give you an example that is truly obnoxious.  When a flight is running late, the staff already knows that customers are going to be making close connections.  Help them out by asking the passengers that do not have connections to stay seated to allow those who do an opportunity to make their connecting flight.  Don’t tell them, “sucks to be you” and block them from getting off the plane so those in first class can exit the plane without having to deal with those  economy class.  First class does pay an exuberant amount of money for the benefits of exiting the plane first, but a small effort on the staffs part would make a huge difference.  Try asking those in first class if they would mind if those who may miss their flight can exit the plane first.  Providing them an opportunity to make it to there next flight will go a long way in customer loyalty.  Even if the crew does not want to make the effort of asking first class, explaining their decision or the airline policy for first class to the customer in economy might prevent them from going off on the crew and causing a scene.  No action on the part of the staff is a sure sign that they don’t care and a “for sure” way to run off repeat customers.

I also believe that flight attendants should handle themselves with professionalism.  I don’t want to be spoken to in Ebonics and I would hope that you have enough sense to brush your hair and look in a mirror when you walk out the door.  And if there is someone on the plane that is obnoxious to you, don’t take it out on me.  If someone decides to be disruptive you can always let them know law enforcement will be waiting for them at the gate and they will be detained.  Post 9-11 has pretty much guaranteed you that ability. 

In conclusion, let me leave you with this, we should all try to exert some tolerance for the situation, plan in advance, and remember that sometimes the old way of doing things may be the better way.  There is something to be said for the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  It is a small step to deescalating an increasingly intense environment.  Who knows maybe next time you will enjoy traveling just a little bit more.

Posted by: JLC Travel & Tourism | July 30, 2010

See The World Through Someone Else’s Eyes

Whether you are a tourism professional or an avid traveler, seeing the world through someone else’s eyes is important to understanding the destination where you are working or traveling to.  I learned this lesson several years back and hold fast to its meaning.  It was when I returned to London in 2006, for the second time, and was in West Minster Abbey I began to have a different outlook on the city I loved so much.  Several months prior to this trip I was residing in the middle east and on my spare time would read classic novels, a favorite past time.  On this occasion I had been reading William Thackeray’s, Vanity Fair, as it had recently been made into a movie, but I digress.  As my husband and I were walking through West Minster Abbey I began to see names, such as, Sir Walter Pitt and a variety of other names that could be found throughout the novel Vanity Fair.  I turned excitedly to our wonderful guide Michael and asked, “Would this be the same Sir Walter Pitt in the novel, Vanity Fair?”  His response elicited an unusual curiosity to know more.  “It could be, as it was a social commentary in its time,” he said.  I found myself wanting to know more about the people and the period of time.  I wanted to start exploring the city and see if I could find any more of the story throughout London.  I wanted to see London through William Thackeray’s eyes.

From this experience, I have traveled to places seeing things through the eyes of Mark Twain, Soldiers from wars throughout history, and many others who I have sought out to experience traditional places in unique ways.  I put it to you; the next time you travel somewhere to take a chance to experience the world through someone else’s eyes and through their experiences.