The Internet has changed forever how people purchase travel, and those who pitch hotels or destinations need to get on board or get left in the low-tech dust.

“Today’s customers are time-starved, tech-savvy and information-rich,” founder Terry Jones told local tourism leaders at the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau’s annual meeting Friday at Camelback Inn in Paradise Valley.

Americans and their computers or PDAs have turned travel planning into a do-ityourself occupation, he said.

By 2009, they will be spending $100 billion a year on online travel purchases, Jones said. Already, 68 percent of the U.S. population is online, and 79 percent of U.S. travelers are.

Even more important, Jones said, 98 percent of college kids have made an online purchase. “And today’s college students are next year’s consumers,” he said.

“You need to fish where the fish are,” Jones said.

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