Dont Mistake Value for Price!
By Larry Pimentel (adapted)
I'm betting a lot of readers of this article are boomers. If so, you are probably a fan of the great singer-songwriter Paul Simon. You remember him - Paul Simon of Simon & Garfunkel, and writer of The Sound of Silence, Bridge over Troubled Waters and the unforgettable Mrs. Robinson. So what does this have to do with leisure travel? Hang on!
Indeed, I based my remarks to some MBA students on Paul Simon and his new album. They got my references to the singer and they also got the message I had for them. They got it even though they probably listen more to rap and hip hop. And youll be glad Im printing Paul Simons lyrics here rather than singing them to you: "Aint it strange the way were ignorant, How we seek out bad advice, How we jigger it and figure it, Mistaking value for the price."
Mistaking value for the price - thats what I was talking about to the MBA students and that is what this column is all about. So lets explore this value-price equation. Many consider value to be an abstract quality - one that can stand for many different things. This point of view maintains that the concept of value is subjective, like the word luxury. Value is in the eye of the beholder in this view. Different strokes for different folks, if you will.
I certainly agree that luxury is an abstract quality, but I take a somewhat different view of value. I submit to you that the concept of value is an absolute. We know value when we see it. We accept it as an absolute. Value is value per se and it is false to equate value with price. A higher price or a lower price does not equate with value.
Now lets consider the concept of value in leisure travel. Despite the diversity of travel products in the marketplace today, there are a number of value constants. Heres what I believe are on most travelers wish lists today for a vacation experience:
Freedom of Choice: Travelers today are seeking more options. Whether it is kayaking along a tributary of the Amazon, participating in an archeological dig in Greece or snoozing in the shade on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean, its all about choice. Today there are more and more choices and travelers want to pick for themselves.
Freedom of Time: Most people agree that they never have enough time to really do what they want to do. What they really want when they travel is freedom from time restrictions. They want time to read, time for family and friends, time to enjoy good health, time to get away from the everyday stress and routine of life, and time to just sit and think.
Freedom to be Casual: One of the highest priorities of travel is the freedom to be casual, which means not being forced into a rigid lifestyle governed by the clock or the calendar. The workplace has become more and more casual, and so, too, has travel.
High Standards of Personal Service: When travelers are able to get away from their daily routines, they want to be pampered. They want a high degree of personal service. They enjoy this personal service, but these days they prefer it to be delivered in a casual style rather than in an artificial or textbook manner.
Unstructured Personal Experiences: Along with a casual lifestyle many vacationers increasingly want to enjoy unstructured experiences that arent packaged into pre-programmed activities. To these travelers the word unstructured means doing what they want to do and doing it largely on their own timetable.
Dining Experiences in Travel: Dining is one of the highest priorities of all in travel today. This does not necessarily mean fancy, formal, traditionally classic cuisine. Sometimes a casual but satisfying meal can be a real treat.
Health and Well-Being: Todays travelers are youthful or young at heart. They are highly health conscious and it influences many of their travel decisions.
I submit to you that those seven qualities constitute value for the traveler today. And finally, heres a reminder - value and price to not equate. Anyone who thinks they do really is missing the true value of value.
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