Mark Calitri speaks tourism: 3 ways to build guest confidence

According to author Jena Tessa Fox and the most recent Price Waterhouse Coopers survey—travelers will make travel decisions based on safety. The PwC survey found some definite bright spots as almost 40% of consumers plan to travel by this July.
Mark Calitri, Visit Owensboro, President/CEO, indicated that for the tourism industry to begin recovery two things must happen simultaneously…first the government must ease travel restrictions and lockdowns. Second, the consumer’s confidence in safety must improve.”
Calitri said, “People are scared and it’s difficult to find clear and non-politically motivated Covid 19 information. This process of easing restrictions will slowly allow consumer confidence to return.”
Calitri said, “Visit Owensboro is working hard to postpone events and reschedule—not cancel. We are taking a positive outlook for 2021!’
The article listed 3 key takeaways and what it will take to improve consumer confident and make sure their customers and guests feel safe when away from home:
1. Cite the CDC, not private companies
More than half (59 percent) of respondents rated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first among sources they will consult before traveling. In fact, they are 70 percent more likely to trust the CDC than the federal government (36 percent), which ranks fourth on the list of trusted sources, after state governments (49 percent) and other health organizations (37 percent). In turn, only 10 percent of respondents said they trust the safety guidelines of private businesses like hotels, restaurants and airlines.
To reassure their customers, travel, transportation and hospitality companies should communicate clearly and cite trusted sources to help guide their safety policies.
2. Build trust
This is a moment for branded hotels to shine and make the brand synonymous with safety and security. More than double the number of consumers surveyed said they would avoid spending the night in a short-term rental property (37 percent) compared to a brand-name hotel (16 percent).
Hotels can capitalize on that trust by sharing their safety standards and making sure guests understand how hard the property’s team is working to keep everyone safe. Almost 75 percent of respondents said employees wearing personal protective equipment and third-party certified sanitation reviews offer them a sense of security.
At the same time, almost 85 percent said their travel decisions will hinge on communications they receive from hotels and airlines about safety. (This is an opportunity to reach out to former customers and guests detailing a hotel’s CDC-recommended initiatives: Approximately 40 percent said they were unsatisfied with the communications they’re currently receiving about safety protocols.) Hotels also can communicate their efforts to current guests by having dedicated COVID-19 sanitation workers wearing a dedicated uniform.

3. Upsell safety
Travelers want control of their surroundings: Nearly half—43 percent of respondents—said they were likely to spend more to confirm physical distancing on their next flight, with 60 percent of families with children willing to pay more. Fifty-five percent of consumers aged 18 to 40 years also said they would spend more to feel safe when traveling. In other words, while hoteliers should certainly not look to abuse their guests’ concerns, they should not fear making sure the price is commensurate with the steps taken to maintain safety.
The desire to stay safe can be a boon for hotels in certain markets: Respondents also said they would want easy access to testing at their destinations, and would be more likely to select destinations that are past the peak of COVID-19 infection and have adequate contact tracing and hospital capacity. Businesses in these areas can mention these factors in their marketing to help ensure guests that the destination is a safe one.



Mark Calitri reports: Hospitality industry slammed by pandemic

Hospitality industry slammed by pandemic
The nation’s hospitality industry — hotels, restaurants, attractions and events — has sustained massive losses in the past two months.
A new report from the U.S. Travel Association says the industry has lost more than $157 billion in business since March, when compared with 2019.
The week that ended May 9 alone saw a $19 billion loss, the report said.
In Kentucky, it said, revenue for the travel industry was down $172 million for that week alone.
“Visit Owensboro has not been immune to COVID-19,” Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said recently.

“With the government-mandated business closings and lockdowns in place, the next 60 days are not looking much better as we are estimating a 60% occupancy decline in May and June,” he said. “These are not just numbers. They represent losses to real people in Daviess County who are suffering and negatively affected across a broad spectrum of businesses.”



Great Race postponed until August. Vintage cars from five countries.

Great Race postponed until August. Vintage cars from five countries.
The Great Race won’t be rolling into town on June 24 with 120 vintage cars from Japan, England, Germany, Canada and all over the United States after all.
But, so far at least, it’s only been postponed to Aug. 26.
“I’m pleased to announce that all of our grand champions, as well as a majority of the race teams, volunteers and staff, have agreed to the new schedule and we look forward to having a full field for the start of the 2020 Great Race in front of the Alamo on Aug. 22,” Jeff Stumb, event director, said in a news release.
The 2,300-mile race, which features $158,750 in prize money, ends in Greenville, South Carolina, on Aug. 30.
Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said if things have returned to near normal by Aug. 26, the event will be a big boost for the local economy.
When the event was expected in June and no one had heard of coronavirus, Stumb said in a news release, “When the Great Race pulls into a city, it becomes an instant festival. Last year, we had a couple of overnight stops with more than 10,000 spectators on our way to having 250,000 people see the Great Race during the event.”
This week, he said, “The Great Race will follow all CDC, state and local guidelines, and officials have been working closely with cities to have spectators line the streets on the way into the venue to ensure social distancing rather than in large groups.
“As the entire United States is opening up again, we will continue to monitor the situation for any changes we may be able to make in either direction,” Stumb said.
He said the race committee and sponsors have set July 1 as the official “go” date — as long as conditions are favorable.
Calitri said, “We are thankful The Great Race organizers are putting the health and safety of their drivers and spectators first. The new date allows us to better prepare for the event in terms of keeping everyone safe while still enjoying the event.”
He said local hotels have been able to rebook rooms for Aug. 26.
“The Great Race is a phenomenal event that has sold out our downtown properties and stretches to some of our other hotels,” Calitri said.
He said the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum is planning outdoor music that evening to welcome the racers.
“It will look a little different and we do not have all the details yet,” Calitri said. “How different will be determined by both our state and local governments. We plan to release more details as we get closer to the event and have a better understanding about what regulations will need to be followed to have a safe and successful event.”
He said, “This highlights that the return to travel is not going to instantaneous, but a slow methodical process, until the consumer has confidence of their safety. Travelers are looking for safety and cleanliness, which have always been part of the foundation of the hospitality business, but now with COVID, it’s under a microscope. Owensboro has always been a resilient community and I think we are well-positioned for the best possible outcome as travel restarts.”
In Kentucky, the race will stop in Paducah, Owensboro, Bardstown and Georgetown.
All vehicles have to be manufactured before 1975.
The race, which shares its name with a 1965 movie about another race, ran for the first time in 1983.
Older cars frequently complete the event.
In 2011, it was a 1911 Velie that won.
The following year, a 1907 Renault and a 1914 Ford Model T both ran the entire course.
And last year, a 1909 Buick completed the journey.
Each car has a driver and a navigator, and they can change places as often as they want.
The Great Race is not as speed race.
It is a time/speed/distance race.
Dave Kirk, the CVB’s destination management director, said earlier that the drivers and navigators “are given precise instructions each day that detail every move down to the second. They are scored at secret checkpoints along the way and are penalized one second for each second either early or late. As in golf, the lowest score wins.”
Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com