Understanding American Traveler Sentiment, with Amir Eylon

Episode 373

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A thirty-two-year veteran of the Travel & Tourism industry, Amir Eylon leads the entire team at Longwoods International, responsible for the development and execution of all facets of the organization, from program development to customer acquisition and retention.

He joined Longwoods in 2015 from his previous role as Vice President, Partner Engagement with Brand USA, the public-private partnership serving as the destination marketing organization dedicated to increasing international visitation to the US. He led the team responsible for helping to increase Brand USA’s partnership base and ensuring that participants received excellent service throughout Brand USA’s deployment of joint marketing programs. During his tenure, Brand USA grew its base to 475 partners, comprised of destination marketing organizations, convention and visitor bureaus, attractions, travel brands, airlines, and tour operators.

Before joining Brand USA, Amir served as Director of the Ohio Office of Tourism. Under his leadership, the state’s marketing programs realized a tremendous return on investment and contributed to the growth of the state’s $40 billion tourism economy. The programs he developed leveraged industry and nontraditional partnerships that generated $14 in new state and local taxes for every $1 invested and included active participation by thousands of Ohio’s tourism-related businesses. He has also served as Executive Vice President of the Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association, Assistant Director of the Ohio Tourism Division, and Sales & Marketing Manager with the Steuben County Conference and Visitors Bureau.

He has been recognized with a number of Industry honors, including Top 25 Extraordinary Minds in Sales & Marketing award (2014) by the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI); The Ohio Tourism Industry’s Highest Honor, The Paul Sherlock Award; and The State of Ohio Distinguished Service Medal.

Amir’s thought leadership in tourism is often quoted by the media, and he has appeared in dozens of interviews with many national media outlets, including CNBC, MSNBC, Forbes, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, etc. Amir holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Dayton.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I’m excited to welcome back Amir Eylon for his third appearance on the show. Amir shared the latest data and trends from Longwoods International’s recent research. He also walks us through the latest wave of the American travel sentiment study and how to interpret and apply those insights, particularly regarding the reallocation of traveler spending and the use of AI in trip planning.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How travelers are adjusting their spending habits to prioritize travel despite financial concerns
  • Why there has been slow adoption of artificial intelligence in trip planning, and the potential impact of AI on the travel industry
  • What the recent collaborative study by Destinations International shows about the impact of destination marketing on community well-being
  • Some of the insights that Longwoods International’s research provides into American travelers’ intentions in leisure travel
  • Support Longwoods International and Destinations International offers to those in the travel and tourism industry

Understanding Travel Trends in the Face of Financial Concerns

Amir highlights how travelers are finding ways to continue exploring the world by reallocating their spending, cutting back on retail purchases, and adjusting their accommodation levels. One intriguing trend he mentions is that people are combining trips into longer journeys, which is a huge shift in travel behavior. It’s clear that despite economic challenges, the desire to travel remains strong.

AI’s Role in Enhancing, Not Replacing, the Travel Experience

We also discuss the slow adoption of AI in trip planning, with only a fraction of travelers expressing interest or using AI tools for travel planning. This fascinating insight shines a light on changing travel preferences and shows that there are opportunities to further explore the potential for AI integration into destination marketing.

Amir emphasizes that AI is not replacing but rather enhancing the travel experience for both travelers and industry professionals. Our discussion provides some golden nuggets into the AI implementation in the travel industry and its potential for future growth.

Importance of Data and Research in Making Informed Marketing Decisions

Amir stresses the invaluable role of data and research in understanding travel trends and making informed marketing decisions. I just love Amir’s analogy about not being able to drive without a roadmap because it highlights the necessity of looking at data from different angles to derive meaningful insights and guide you to your end destination.


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