One Travel Conference: 5 Key Takeaways

September 5, 2018

The One Travel Conference brings tourism representatives from all over the country, along with visitors from around the world. The conference discusses the topics of shopping, dining and cultural tourism in the United States. Attendees learn about new research, upcoming trends, growth strategies and about the tourism industry in general.

This year, the One Travel Conference 2018 was hosted in the legendary Napa Valley with the theme being “Charting the Course to Success.” Surrounded by spectacular views and cool weather, the TORG team was present as attendees and a speaker. Lisa Wagner, TORG Principal joined the speaker line-up presenting the workshop “The Changing Retail Environment: How Outlets and Retailers Are Adapting.”

The conference provides workshops where presenters share research, case studies and innovative ideas for growth in the tourism industry. Here are our top five takeaways from the 2018 One Travel Conference:
1. Customer experience is a top driver for travel destination selection, according to Lisa Wagner, TORG. Customers are focused on the experience, what will they get out of visiting your center? They look at where your center is located, the overall design of your center, what tenant mix you offer, among other details. Tenant mix is at the top of the list, as travelers are looking for bargain deals on top brands.
2. Worldwide international visitation continues to increase, however inbound visitation to the United States is at a decline. According to UNWTO, worldwide international visitation was at its highest in seven years, with records set for 2017 arrivals across numerous world destinations. Despite this, the U.S. share of the global travel market shrunk from 13.6% in 2015 to 11.9% in 2016, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
3. Millennials are the #1 shopper for outlet centers. “That generation is responsible for the changing outlet environment, everything from retailer marketing tactics, to center design and tenant selection,” said Lisa Wagner, TORG. The outlet industry is changing to adapt to a customer that grew up with outlet centers and now favor them for their shopping destinations.
4. Community partners are important to a center. Customers want to shop, but are focused more on the overall experience. What else can you offer visitors? Museums are great partners for shopping centers. “Museums, cultural organizations and heritage sites have traditionally been among the most popular visitor attractions for both domestic and international tourists…” Rosemary Reyes, Roseworks Marketing. Partnerships with other organizations that have similar target audiences are a must. “In the United States, museums and historical sites generate more than 13 billion U.S. dollars in revenue annually…” Rosemary Reyes, Roseworks Marketing.
5. Chinese travelers are a top priority. “China remains the dominant in-bound tourism contributor, generating 60% of total tourism revenue,” Lisa Wagner, TORG. “The average daily spend for the China shopper is $5,000,” Denny Xie, East West China. The Chinese are looking at location of center, it must be appealing and worth the trip. Locations that are tax-free are also an incentive to attract Chinese customers. The brands are the most important factor – Brands are more important than price,” Denny Xie, East West China.

The tourism market in the United States is still going strong, generating billions of dollars from visitors from all over, including domestic and international travel. The ONE Travel Conference provided great information and insight on how to better our tourism efforts. Customers are always a priority and so it’s important to take a step back and look at the experience we are offering. Building partnerships, having the right tent mix and catering to our target audiences will put our centers on the right track.

We really enjoyed this year’s conference and are looking forward to the 2019 ONE Travel Conference.