Episode 224:

Amir Eylon is the President, CEO, and Partner of Longwoods International and a thirty-two-year veteran of the Travel & Tourism industry. Amir leads the team responsible for developing and executing 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 increasing 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, composed of destination marketing organizations, convention and visitor bureaus, attractions, travel brands, airlines, and tour operators. Prior to 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.

Amir 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 media, and he has appeared in dozens of interviews among 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, we welcome back Amir Eylon, President, CEO, and Partner of Longwoods International, who first appeared on the podcast in April 2020. We reflect on the travel trends over the last 12 months, as revealed by research conducted by Longwood International’s Traveler Sentiment Trackers. Amir speaks to the expectations of the newly conditioned traveler and what first trips will look like for many Americans after a year of shutdowns. He also explores the data on opportunities that can be found for DMOs with the return of day-trippers.

What You Will Learn:

  • What recent data from the Traveller Sentiment Trackers shows, and why the outlook for travel is optimistic
  • Where and why people are traveling – including the most popular domestic destinations
  • Traveler opinions on safety and cleanliness protocols in the communities they visit
  • Why the resurgence of the day trip meant that overall volume wasn’t as low as expected over the last 12 months
  • Newly conditioned traveler expectations and how DMOs can ensure they are catering to the increased desire to feel safe when making bookings
  • Why it is essential to understand the importance of focusing on promotions rather than deep discounts

Understanding Travel Plans in the New Normal

Amir and Longwoods International were motivated to start their Travel Sentiment Trackers in March 2020 by a desire to help the entire travel industry. The data that their research has circulated has been invaluable in understanding how the American traveler feels about vacationing in this new normal and how DMOs can best serve them going forward. He discusses why overall volume in the US wasn’t as low as the travel industry expected and explains which domestic destinations have proved to be the most popular over the last year and why.

Traveler Expectations in 2021

Amir digs into the expectations of newly conditioned travelers and why destinations need to be mindful not to roll back their cleanliness and flexibility protocols too quickly. He also addresses the new-found popularity of the day trip and how destination marketers can leverage those first visitors to promote their community and popularise short overnight breaks. The data shows that clarity will remain an important part of what visitors expect when researching destinations in the future and how communities can ensure that travelers feel safe by continuing to be transparent about precautions still in place to protect guests.

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