SPARKS, Nev. (AP) — The founder of Travelocity.com told leaders of Nevada's hotel-casino and tourism industry the explosion of information available to consumers on the Internet and through social media makes it more important than ever to listen to what they want.
Terry Jones, now the chairman of Kayak.com, also told about 250 business leaders at the tourism conference in Sparks on Wednesday they will have to get over the fear of failing when attempting innovative changes if they are going to succeed in the evolving economic landscape.
"You have to realize customers are Internet empowered, technically savvy, time-starved and information rich. That's a different kind of customer," Jones said in the keynote speech on the second of the two-day conference at John Ascuaga's Nugget hotel-casino in Sparks.
"Buyers have more power than ever before. They are getting smarter," he said. "Social marketing has changed not only the consumer, it has changed what we used to call a monologue into a dialogue."
Jones said it's important to carry on that dialogue with customers on a daily basis because they are easily influenced by others' opinions when they are so readily available on the Web, including reviews of such things as hotels and restaurants.
"Geographical barriers are eliminated. Price information is everywhere and buyer experiences are shared no longer one-on-one over the backyard fence but with many over the network on sites like TripAdvisor, which now has over 50 million reviews. There's lot of evidence customers trust someone they've never met before more than they trust the brand," he said.