The world according to 'Travel Detective' Peter Greenberg

The world according to ‘Travel Detective’ Peter Greenberg

PROVIDENCE, RI — Anyone who’s heard CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg talk about the travel industry knows he doesn’t mince words.

At Collette’s Global Travel Forum, taking place in Providence, RI this week, Greenberg had a few choice things to say about airlines, OTAs and selfie-obsessed travellers, and he let loose in a hilarious and insightful keynote address.

Greenberg says there’s still a place for traditional travel retailers and suppliers, now more than ever.

His rapid-fire presentation hit on everything from airlines, hotels and cruise lines to the importance of bringing the art of conversation back to selling travel.

The world according to 'Travel Detective' Peter Greenberg

Here’s a round up of some of his quotes and insights, from his keynote speech on day 1 of the Collette forum on June 21:

  • “All the technology in the world can never take over from common sense.”
  • “The U.S. Department of State now has travel advisories for every country in the world. Americans are cowering in their own homes.”
  • “Today is National Selfie Day. We have become a society that is obsessed with documenting ourselves. Who thinks a great photo has to include you in it?”
  • “America has become home of the brave, land of the fee.”
  • “The unofficial motto for airlines seems to be ‘We’re not happy until you’re not happy’. The travel experience has been degraded on an almost exponential basis.”
  • “Marriott is opening a new hotel every 14 hours. For Hilton, it’s a new hotel every 16 hours. Airbnb now controls 7% of the world’s rooms.”
  • Greenberg says in his experience, talking to travellers, “they don’t want to hear that India is incredible, or Barbados is beautiful.” They want practical, helpful information about getting to and travelling in that country. “We’re forgetting there’s an audience out there that wants a conversation. That’s where you come in. You can be proactive. You can initiate that conversation.”
  • “It’s not about the rate, it’s about the value, it’s about asking all the questions that they need to ask. That’s transformative.” He adds: “My transformative technology is my mouth and my ears. We’ve gone full circle.”
  • “Three words: genuine, authentic, curated. Yes, I can hear you groaning. You’ve already heard these words too much. But that’s what people want.”
  • Greenberg told a story about a hotel he stayed at recently, likening it to the dilapidated, creepy hotel in the movie The Shining. “There was blood on the wall. There was stuffing coming out of the couch. The door handle fell off in my hand.” Just as the bellman was about to leave, he gave Greenberg his card, to call him if he needed anything. “And there was a line on his card that said ‘Post a good review on Trip Advisor and get 10% off’. They were incentivizing me to lie.” Instead of posting a review, he showed the card during one of his TV travel segments and told the story.
  • OTAs got popular “because people didn’t want to have a conversation. They wanted technology to take its place.”
  • “Kids stay free deals, eat free deals, resort fees, free parking – online bookings don’t always tell you about things like that.”
  • “Anyone who tells you ‘there’s an app for that’ – they’re lazy.”
  • “Fear is the worst 4-letter word.”
  • “We’re going to see unbelievable brand consolidation. Marriott is just the beginning.”
  • “I still have a subscription to the printed version of the OAG and I can find a flight faster in that thing than anyone can online.”
  • “You need to initiate and transform the conversation. Without that, the technology will kill you.”
  • “We have to figure out a way to reinvent the conversation. We have to initiate and continue that conversation. You shared with [your clients] something they didn’t know and that’s why they came back to you.
  • “We have too many people chasing fire trucks and not enough people explaining fire.”

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