Where Do the Sexiest Women (and Men) Come From?
The results of a survey conducted by the online travel dating site, MissTravel.com, tells us that Americans think the sexiest women are Armenian and the sexiest men are Irish. More than 110,000 American singles were polled to discover the most desired nationalities.
America’s views of sexiness are changing, the results suggest. The days of the blonde, blue-eyed bombshell are long gone. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then the visibility and prevalence of exotic stars both on traditional and social media have greatly swayed the tastes of Americans. The results of the survey follow.
|Nationality & Rank||Number of Votes Received in Poll|
Source: MissTravel.com*Based on Dating Preferences of 44,873 American Men
|Nationality & Rank||Number of Votes Received in Poll|
*Based on Dating Preferences of 44,873 American Men
- Men were asked to rank the qualities that contributed to attractiveness when travel dating. “Body type” and “facial features” ranked the highest, coming in at 44 and 37 percent respectively.
- Women love the sound of a foreign voice! When asked which qualities affected their decision most, 49 percent responded with “accent.”
Trifecta of Major Attractions Open this Month in NYC
The opening of any one of them would be cause for a grand opening, complete with splashy coverage on all channels of news distribution, but the opening of three in one month has become a month-long celebration almost national in scope. New for visitors to Manhattan are:
A completely new Whitney Museum of American Art at a location in the Meatpacking District in Lower West Manhattan along the Hudson River (www.whitney.org, or 877.947.5612), which opened May 1;
The completely re-done Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration just off the lower tip of Manhattan—some New Jersey loyalists will insist that it is within their state’s boundaries—which opens May 20 (http://www.nps.gov/elis/index.htm); and
Perhaps the most talked-about new attraction in the USA for 2015—the new World Trade Center Observatory (www.oneworldobservatory, or 844.696.1776), which opens May 29.
TUI to Dissolve Thomson, First Choice and other Brands in Favor of Single TUI Über Brand
Using the occasion of its announcement that it has cut its losses, Europe’s largest travel company, the TUI Group, announced that that it plans to drop the UK’s First Choice and Thomsonbrands, as well as other brands in its portfolio. CEO Peter Long said an overarching Tui brand would gradually be phased in over the next couple of years. “We will build on our global brand and we will do this by migrating our brand in a phased and measured way to one brand—the Tui brand,” Long said, adding, “We will start with some of the smaller markets, initially in Holland and France and then on to Belgium the Nordics and the UK.”
Women’s World Cup Next Month in Vancouver
The marketing team at Tourism Vancouver is reminding colleagues in the tour and travel industry that packages and other a la carte tour possibilities are plentiful in conjunction with the FIFA World Cup Canada 2015—the largest women’s sporting event in the world. The month-long event starts June 6 and runs through July 5. Tourism Vancouver notes that hotels have numerous packages that include everything from opening receptions, amenity kits and iPads with pre-loaded tournament apps. Ticket packages range from a Stadium Passport, which includes tickets for every match taking place at BC Place Stadium to individual tickets for single matches. All tickets can be purchased by visiting http://www.ticketstonight.ca/, or calling 855.985.5000. For other possibilities, visit: www.tourismvancouver.com, or call 604.682.222
UK PRE-IPW UPDATE
Percentage of British FIT Travelers Equal to that Booking Packages—So Says Survey. The survey, by carried out by First Rate Exchange Services in conjunction with the Institute of Travel & Tourism, University of Wolverhampton and YouGov, interviewed 5,000 consumers online. Highlights of its findings include the following.
- 26 percent said they’d decided not to travel this year, an increase of two percentage points over last year.
• 56 percent of those polled have decided to travel this year
- Of the 56 percent who have decided to travel this year, almost half have already booked their first trip and 28 percent had booked a second holiday.
- 75 percent of those who will take a holiday intend to spend the same or more than they did on their previous trip.
- There is a fractional increase in those traveling FIT, as 40 percent now take the independent route (up three percentage points since last autumn)
- There is a fractional decrease in demand for package holidays—they’ve dropped from 42 percent to 40 percent.
UK Consumers’ Confidence in Disposable income at Highest Level in Three Years: The latest (Q1 2015) Deloitte Consumer Tracker identifies travel and leisure as the area most likely to attract increased spending. Deloitte issues the Consumer Tracker each quarter, based on a survey of 3,000 UK adults. It reports confidence in disposable income 30 points higher than when Deloitte began the Tracker in the third quarter of 2011 and suggests 2015 could be the best year for consumer spending in 10 years.
Many Over 50 Brits Now Have Pension Funds to Spend—on Travel: it is estimated that, last month, about 18 million people aged 55 and over gained access to up to 25 percent of their pension—tax-free—for the first time, due to relaxed pension rules. And according to the research covering 1,000 people conducted by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, because of the windfall:
- More than three quarters (79 percent) of older people plan to spend up to £10,000 ($15,140) each on a travel experience due to windfalls coming from relaxed pension rules.
- Another 20 percent are prepared to spend up to £20,000 ($30,280) per person.
- A further 320,000 people will become eligible every year for the pension funds. As much as £6 billion ($9.083 billion) will be spent within the first three months following the disbursal of the pension funds, with the number one discretionary spend predicted to be on holidays.
UK Economy May not be Hot, but It’s Warm: The British economy grew at its fastest pace for nine years in 2014 as GDP figures showed the economy expanded by a stronger than expected 2.8 percent last year, according to UK Office for National Statistics (ONS). Quarterly expansion came in at 0.6 percent in the last three months of 2014, leading to overall yearly growth reaching the same levels as before the financial crisis of 2008-2009.
Alibaba Aiming to Disrupt Chinese Spending at Duty Free Stores
A platform under the Alibaba Group, Tmall Global, has launched a new “World Duty Free” service that allows Chinese tourists to prepay for their duty-free purchases before going on vacation. As a part of the launch announcement, Tmall also said that Thailand’s largest duty-free retail group, King Power, will open a duty-free storefront on the platform and become the first company to offer this service to Chinese consumers.
By launching the “World Duty Free” service, Tmall Global hopes to enhance cross-border e-commerce opportunities for global companies looking to reach Chinese shoppers when they travel.
The King Power Duty Free Store on Tmall Global allows consumers to purchase stored-value cards online before their vacation and when they visit Thailand, users can then spend the value on those cards in five King Power shops in the country, including the stores in Bangkok’s Don Mueang International Airport and the Suvarnabhumi Airport. Tmall Global is also working with duty-free companies in South Korea, Japan and Europe to open stores on the platform.
In the future, the “World Duty Free” service on Tmall Global will support online purchase of specific duty-free items and delivery of those items to the airport for customers to pick up. Through Tmall Global’s “World Duty Free” service, companies are able to tailor special promotional discounts for Chinese tourists and help them minimize the hassle of carrying cash and dealing with exchange rates.
Beyond the Gateways—How Virginia Beach Expects to Attract Chinese Tourists
While Virginia Beach, Virginia is a well known beach destination on the Atlantic Coast and throughout mid-Atlantic states, we wondered why Ron Kuhlman, vice president of tourism marketing and sales for the Virginia Beach CVB has showing up for the past several years at NAJ’s Active America China Summit to promote a destination that is not a gateway destination—it is 215 miles from the closest major gateway airport, Washington Dulles (IAD)—and how he is managing to attract Chinese visitors to Virginia Beach. We spoke with Kuhlman not long after the Active America China summit last month in Las Vegas. Following is an excerpted version of our conversation.
INBOUND: You’ve been with the Virginia Beach CVB for nearly 25 years. To what extent has the balance of your marketing changed between domestic and international—that is, what percentage of your overall market is international now? And what was it 25 years ago?
Kuhlman: The international market in Virginia Beach includes both our Canadian market and our overseas market. Our research indicated that almost six percent of our 5.9 million annual overnight visitors are international. The bulk of them are visitors from Canada which is our largest international market. It’s difficult to know what percentage of our market was international 25 years ago as our methodology for tracking international has changed to include overseas visitors. Also, 25 years ago our international marketing efforts were targeted at our Canadian market. We have had a contracted office in Montreal for nearly 30 years and Canada continues to be our number one international market. Until recently our overseas marketing consisted of exhibiting at WTM and ITB.
INBOUND: What are your top overseas markets?
Kuhlman: Our top overseas markets are the UK, Germany, Italy, and France. If our growth from China continues, the market from China will break into this list by 2017.
INBOUND: As, a non-gateway destination, you have different challenges, of course, than a New York, Miami, Los Angeles or San Francisco. Is there anything special you have to do to get your visitors go “beyond the gateways”?
Kuhlman: To market globally, we rely on our partnership with the Capital Region USA (CRUSA) which is the international marketing consortium of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Destination, D.C., the State of Maryland, and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. We feature the international air service going into Dulles International Airport and seek opportunities to partner with tour operators using the Washington gateway and extending their itineraries to include Virginia Beach as a relaxing stopover at an authentic and unique American seaside resort.
INBOUND: When you started at Virginia Beach, there was no such thing as the Chinese market. And now, you’re actively pursuing it. When did this start, and what kind of progress have you made? Any visitor numbers? Do you have any in-country representation? Chinese-speaking staff?
Kuhlman: My first exposure to the market came when I attended the China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit four years ago in Hawaii. It was there that the chairman of the China National Tourism Administration and the China Tourism Academy leadership projected Chinese visitation numbers in the millions of visitors to the U.S. … Fast forward to the Sixth Annual China-U.S. Tourism Leadership Summit held this year in China that I had the opportunity to work with Haybina Hao in the NTA Office in Lexington and with the NTA Shanghai office. Their expertise and willingness to assist me on my first trip to China were invaluable. NTA set up two days of sales calls on Chinese operators who were featuring Capital Region USA as a region combined in their East Coast itineraries.
The following year, 2013, Capital Region USA conducted its first sales mission to China with calls in Beijing and Shanghai. In the meantime I attended Active America China 2012 and got a first-hand look at the scope of the Chinese Tour Operator network and the potential for Virginia Beach in China. I have attended Active America China each year since including Las Vegas last month. In the not too distant future, we will want to have representation on our own in China … by the beginning of 2017.
INBOUND: Are there any special challenges that the Chinese market presents that you don’t encounter with other markets?
Kuhlman: One special challenge is the Chinese language barrier. We have been successful in recruiting Chinese speaking residents who want to become step-on guides to assist when needed. We also have the services of a Chinese travel strategist at our ad agency who has been invaluable to us with her knowledge of the industry and her bi-lingual language skills. She manages our Weibo pages and this year, she accompanied me to Active America China this year as my interpreter. Our hotel partners are working hard to become more China ready and through our International Marketing Committee we are making headway in this area.
INBOUND: About the role of operators: Do you connect directly with Chinese operators? Or do you work through U.S.-based receptive? Or both?
Kuhlman: We approach the market both ways. We connect directly with the Chinese operators and we also work with Chinese receptive operators. We are always looking to the Chinese RTO community to partner with us in this market where it makes sense for the RTO to work with us given we are in the growth mold. Unlike our RTOs who handle Europe we have yet to reach critical mass for Chinese business.
INBOUND: Any idea of a percentage breakdown on group vs. FIT for international travelers?
Kuhlman: That’s a question we don’t have on our intercept surveys but at this point based on our hotel feedback the vast majority of our overseas visitors are individuals, couples and families.
The Perfect Storm: Will it be Raining UK Tourists Next Year?
Serendipity seems to be the word to describe Orlando and its place among USA destinations favored by British travelers. Long the No. 1 long-haul overseas destination of UK visitors and UK families, in particular, because of its range of hotel inventory, theme parks, family restaurant options and other attractions, Orlando is positioned to benefit from a confluence of a series of factors that no marketing guru could have predicted five years ago, when the number of travelers from the UK to the USA had fallen off by 20 percent or more. And now, there are the following factors, all coming together within a one-month window:
- In a little more than three weeks (May 30-June 3), Orlando is hosting ipw;
- As of last Friday, May 1st, the government-imposed Air Passenger Duty (APD) for children under 12 traveling from the UK is eliminated, reducing the cost of travel to the USA by £71/$107 per child (an APD remains in force for those traveling in costlier classes);
- An intense marketing and promotional campaign by UK-based Merlin Entertainments for its new I-Drive 360 collection of attractions in Orlando (the Orlando Eye, a larger version of the London Eye, a Madame Tussauds museum; and a Sea Life aquarium) is generating huge interest in the market;
- Lift capacity between the UK and Orlando (many flights are charters provided by tour operators) continues to increase—last month, budget carrier Norwegian started serving Orlando from Gatwick; and
- The destination is fortifying its position as the destination with the most options for shopping (the number one activity for Brits while traveling) with the announcement that the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, one of the Orlando area’s first outlet malls, has plans to expand their existing outlet center by a third.
Of all of the above, nothing has captured the attention of the British traveler as much as the elimination of the APD for children—largely because the tour and travel industry, include the travel trade media, has been so focused on the issue, which is so easily translatable to the consumer. Begun in 1994 as a measure to create a revenue source for funding environmental activity, it quickly became a source of easy revenue for budget balancing.
Then, In 2013 a study by PwC, “The Economic Impact of Air Passenger Duty,” found that abolition of APD could provide an initial short-term boost to the level of UK GDP of around 0.45 percent in the first 12 months, averaging at just under 0.3 percent a year between 2013 and 2015. This and other findings inspired the industry into full battle mode, and in another year (last year), the government announced a simplification of the APD and the elimination of the APD for children under 12 on economy flights operating out of the UK. Next March, the APD abolition will be extended to children under the age of 16—for all flights.
HODGE PODGE—Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Maritza Scher, is the new director of groups and tourism sales for the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York. Following a nearly 16 year career at NY Waterways, Scher put down roots at Star Hospitality Group in 2011, a company that provides fill-in staffing for hotel and banquet services.
Saga has appointed Jonathan Hill as its new executive director. He joined the company last month as group chief financial officer designate from Bovis Homes Group. Previously, Hill held was director of strategy and mergers & acquisitions for TUI Travel.
Steve Silver has left his position as senior long haul purchasing manager at lowcostbeds.com, and has joined Voyage Privé as a hotel buyer. He had been with lowcostbeds for 2½ years. Prior to that he had served a general manager of ATD Travel Services.
Tom Knopek, has been appointed as group managing director of PPA Group, the travel and technology company whose brands include wefly, weholidy, GuildFare and ctm. Previously, Knopek had worked for 20 years in the car rental industry, most recently as managing director, Inbound North America, for Hertz.
Bernd Niemeyer has taken over as managing director of short break specialist Müller-Touristik. The new deputy director is Daniela Fresenborg. Meanwhile, founder Heinz Müller said that he plans to retire, but that he will remain with the company for some time “in order to ensure an orderly business ownership.” Niemeyer previously served as director of leisure sales & sports tourist sales at Steigenberger Hotels in Frankfurt.
The Greater Miami CVB has announced the appointment of Connie Kinnard as vice president of multicultural tourism—a newly created position. She will begin her new duties on June 1st. Kinnard’s new department was established in order to raise awareness of the destination’s vibrant multicultural community. Prior to joining the bureau, Kinnard held the position of senior vice president of multicultural sales and development at the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation. She has been with Nashville organization since 1996, when she started in convention sales.
Hertz Global Holdings has named Dave Myrick as its new senior vice president of sales for North America. He is responsible for sales execution by the North America sales teams for the Company’s car rental brands which include Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty and Firefly. Myrick has executive-level experience in leading successful revenue generation programs in business-to-business sales channels in the airline industry, including more than 30 years in sales leadership positions for companies including United Airlines, Northwest Airlines, British Airways and US Airways.