Carey CEO Paints Promising Future, Warns Against Complacency

LCT staff
Posted on May 1, 1995

The future outlook for business travel and tourism is strong, and Carey International is in a good position to reap the benefits. However, to do so means that the firm cannot sit on its laurels because of increasing competition. According to CEO Vince Wolfington, this is not Carey’s plan.

That was the message he gave to 167 attendees representing owners and managers in 211 cities in 21 countries at the firm’s 75th Anniversary convention March 17-20.

“What we’re going to see in the next 10 years is a continuation of easy entry into our industry where the newcomers will be selling price, not service,” warned Wolfington. “There is going to be a lot of local competition in each of your markets. They are going to call on your customers and tell them they can do it cheaper. They will deliver low price and low service.”

“What they are not going to be able to do is provide top quality car and chauffeur service in all the other cities where your customers want to go,” continued Wolfington. “The customer source for growth in travel and tourism is going to come from outside your market. The key to your growth is being a part of a system which is national and international in scope.”

According to Wolfington, Carey is doing a growing business amidst a skyrocketing world travel market that is becoming open to all comers. Wolfington cited figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council that show a rapid growth in travel expenditures from $2.8 trillion in 1990 to $3.3 trillion in 1995. He said the Council expects it to grow to over $7 trillion 10 years from now.

In the European Union, where Carey has a major presence, travel grew from $1,025 trillion in 1990 to $1,080 trillion in 1994, a five percent growth rate which the CEO explained “reflects the economic downturn that has been experienced in Europe until relatively recently.”

As for the U. S., the travel segment rose from $684 billion in 1990 to $870 billion in 1994, roughly representing 27 percent of the world travel market. It will likely grow to $1.5 trillion 10 years from now.

However, the biggest opportunities lie in Asia and the Pacific Rim. Travel demand grew by nearly 50 percent from $1 trillion to close to $1.5 trillion in 1994. This figure is projected to more than double to $3.5 trillion in the next 10 years.

For its part, Carey International’s growth exceeded the rates in the U.S. and Europe. Wolfington points out that business climbed by 25 percent in Europe and 57 percent in the U.S. The Carey reservation system grew by 72 percent “while the norm in the travel and tourism group was 20 percent.”

“Our customers, which are travelling businesspersons, generate $124 billion of business travel a year, which is where we focus our concentration. This is where the forecasters expect to see considerable growth in the future. The places where we would like to go are Asia and the Pacific,” says Wolfington.

Carey, noted Wolfington, is already providing the kinds of services that business travellers want more of, such as reservation networks, central billing, reliable service providers, automation, and a focus on quality service where feedback is assured.

“We formed our association together commercially for the purpose of developing business for each other when the customers in our markets travel to other cities. We’re going to have some opportunities in the future by tapping into these other markets.”

To achieve that, Wolfington encouraged member companies to be on the lookout for more opportunities, plus ways to preserve and enhance the Carey name as a key strength. Brand-name recognition is a major factor in why many member companies get business.

The CEO urged them not to be complacent about quality, and to strive for higher and higher standards, stressing the specter of global competition. He also wanted more of them to take advantage of the firm’s quality service programs.

“As globalization goes up,” he pointed out, “trade barriers go down.”

To bolster these efforts, and to help Carey International stay ahead of the competition, Wolfington promised that an announcement will be made sometime in the future on a new on-line reservation system that the firm is devel­oping so that customers will be able to book their reservations directly “We believe that concentration on automation will continue to give us the edge. When we have an on-line worldwide reservation system, each of you will know about each other’s customers needs so that we can be a little sharper, and operate a little smarter,” he said.

“As a system, our goal and objective should be to put ourselves in a position to have established reservations, sales, and operational activities on five continents that are truly uniform and which are linked together with automation,” says Wolfington. “We will know that in South America, Eu­rope, and Asia we duplicated what has been created in North America. The achievement of these goals and objectives will move the Carey System to a higher business level.”

Related Topics: Carey International, Vince Wolfington

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