The Travel Effect
Attending a conference on Small Business Opportunity in Montana over the past week had me thinking about the travel effect. The conference was essentially about tourism, since the largest economic driver in Montana is tourism second only to agriculture. Tourism is the economic mainstay for many of Montana’s small businesses from bed and breakfasts, fly shops, candy stores, retailers, and restaurants. Virtually every segment of a Montana community is impacted by tourism.
Sarah Ziska and I traveled 200 plus miles to Bozeman to attend the conference. We gassed up the vehicle, stopped for a coffee in Helena, bought a beverage at a coffee center in Bozeman, and then had lunch at a main street café. The impact of our simple trek across the state touched at least four small businesses, and when you multiply that by a hundred or more it makes an impact.
It was made abundantly clear to me over my weekend, when Great Falls was inundated by Alberta license plates over the Victoria Day holiday. Great Falls has the benefit of being a retail trade center very close to the Canadian border, and The Wendt Agency has done extensive work over several years to promote Central Montana and other regional tourism groups to Canadian and regional travelers. The kick off to the summer tourism season for our tourism clients is always Victoria Day.
My husband doesn’t understand the reasoning behind why Canadians come to Montana. It’s simple, it’s the Travel Effect. The Travel Effect was discussed at this conference. The CEO of the United States Travel Association, Roger Dow, presented some recent data on the importance of the travel industry on the United States economy. The travel industry is a Top 10 employer in 48 states, including Montana. The travel industry supports over 14 million jobs within the U.S. economy and 93% of kids say family vacations bring them closer to their parents. Traveling has health and mental benefits that exceed the cost of travel in terms of better mental health; people are less depressed and more energized from personal travel. Those families that traveled to Montana for Victoria Day built memories, strengthened relationships, and had a wellness benefit from fun- filled excursions from shopping, dining, exploring and learning more about a different country.
In terms of business travel, the results are even more impressive. A new study by Oxford Economics was presented at this conference, showcasing a persistent productivity effect from business travel. Investing in business travel drives higher profit and helps sustain industries through recession. “Research shows that every dollar spent on business travel yields a 3X return on investment (ROI), and those sectors that spent the more on business travel throughout recession and recovery enjoyed higher cumulative profit growth. This study also surveyed frequent business travelers and suggests that business travel is vital to higher conversion and customer retention while also helping to provide industry insights and develop industry partnerships.”
We at The Wendt Agency know this. We readily travel across the state and state lines to foster relationships, partnerships and grow our business. An important part of our business structure – travel promotion and marketing – is critical to the growth of our agency and our clients’ success. We like to think that all those Alberta license plates that flooded Great Falls over the weekend were part of the Travel Effect, as well as our marketing expertise.