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Choose the Best Research for the Best Success

I started my tourism industry journey as a research manager at the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau. Having just relocated to San Diego, I knew little about the city, tourism, or a “con-vis” bureau, but with my market research experience, they hired me! Over the next 40 years, I have enjoyed a most gratifying and successful career in travel research.

(l -r) Lucy Driver, Global Business Development Manager, STR Lighthouse; Timothy Bush, CMO Visit Lake Charles; Lauren Schlau, Lauren Schlau Consulting (LSC) and Travel Analytics Group (TAG), at the TTRA Outlook Forum Marketing Managers lunch.

Many more of us are in this field these days; we connect and convene with and learn from other professionals through the International Travel & Tourism Research Association (TTRA), which recently held its Annual Marketing Outlook Forum (MOF). The 300 attendees heard forecasts on the economy and tourism, shifting traveler behaviors, sentiment, and trends, like “DUPES” (less crowded destinations) and “Dry” Tourism (no alcohol), AI, meetings market trends, and how the industry and academic institutions (sources of our future workforce) can work better together. 

As researchers, we continually make ourselves aware of the latest trends, new ideas and things to consider to benefit the entities or clients we work with. We researchers have our fingers on the pulse, whether through our own investigation or from our project work.  

Often considered (and treated) as a “back of the house” function, most research professionals hold a master's or PhD degree and are often positioned as a manager or director; few are in the C-suite, and I know only one researcher reaching DMO President/CEO. Why, then, is research vital?

Despite organizational positioning and perceptions, the research role and function in travel marketing and management is essential to the success of all industry sectors. Yes, entities can, and many do, market and manage without research. However, it has been repeatedly proven that well-designed, credible research and insightful interpretation by knowledgeable researchers on the marketplace, customers and constant market change pave the way for far better outcomes, more efficiency, effectiveness, and competitiveness than without research.

Market research should be considered as an investment, not a cost, to help ensure long-term financial and operational viability, especially during calls these VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) times (as per Kantar Research).

Lauren Schlau, with academics and students from North Carolina State University, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management


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