Bookings Tripled–Early Numbers on China’s Golden Week Arrivals in USA
Published just before the seven-day holiday period universally known as Golden Week began on Oct. 1 with China’s National Day, two analyses reported that the number of Chinese traveling to the United States during the holiday in October was expected to rise remarkably, in keeping with an expected overall increase for the whole year. As detailed in China Daily, when last measured by one company (lvmama.com, a major online travel booking platform) bookings were triple the number from last year. Ni Jiali, general manager of lvmama.com’s outbound tourism department, said the rise resulted from beneficial tourism policies adopted by both China and the USA.
Such factors as the mutual approval of visas allowing multiple entries within 10 years and the launch of new direct flights between the two countries are also making a difference, according to Yu Wenjun, director of US travel for Ctrip, China’s largest online travel agency.
Bookings at Ctrip for travel to the USA during the weeklong holiday increased by 40 percent over the same period last year, making the USA the fourth-favorite destination for Chinese tourists during the holiday. The first three destinations are all neighboring destinations— Thailand, South Korea and Japan.
In another report, the London-based research group Forward Keys said that advance bookings for Chinese travelers visiting the USA were up 8.1 percent for an extended period (September 21st to October 7th) covering 2016 National Day/Golden Week, a better performance than other long-haul destinations (up 3.5 percent).
Chinese departures to the USA spread more evenly along the entire busy period in 2016, with two weekends before the Golden Week (Sep 22nd to 24th and Sep 29th to Oct 1st) seeing busy departures. While last year’s departures were crowded from Sep 22nd to 26th, thanks to the Mid-Autumn Festival proximity to the Golden Week.
On the book* departures from China to the USA prior & during Golden Week, Daily†
* Arrivals “on the book” refer to the number of airline passengers arriving at the destination within a specific future time frame according to the bookings that have been issued as noted.
† Arrivals/Departures on The Book: On the book departures from September 9th to October 9th 2016 vs. same period in 2015, as of September 24th 2016 . “Busy Period”: On the book departures from September 21st to October 7th 2016 vs. same period in 2015, as of September 24th.
Golden Week USA Hot Spots: Enjoying 26.9 percent of Chinese visitors on the book, Los Angeles remains as the leading destination city in the USA for Chinese travelers. New York City was quickly catching up as more Chinese travelers choose NYC as their entry point of USA—up 22.5 percent compared to the same period last year.
Some secondary destinations, like Washington DC, Boston or Honolulu, were expected to see fewer Chinese visitors from mid-September to early October, as the average length of trip shortened due to the Mid-Autumn festival date shift. Orlando’s impressive increase (+170.9 percent) is possibly thanks to Shanghai Disney opening up.
Which were the hot spots during the busy period?
Market share of Chinese visitors and % YoY change.
On average, this year Chinese tourists were expected to stay between six and nine nights in the chosen destinations. Mid-Autumn’s Festival holiday shift (from Sept. 27, 2015 to Sep 15, 2016) shortened this year’s average length of stay—down from stays of 10 to 12 nights.
A note on the methodology: The analysis was based on Air Reservation Data property of ForwardKeys® as of 24th September 2016. Database contains reservations handled by more than 200 000 online and offline travel agencies worldwide.
The Good News from Japan!
The Good News … is that there is no Bad News: Released earlier this month, the latest Survey of Travel Market Trends by the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), a survey taken as the third quarter of 2016 came to a close, tells U.S. travel suppliers that the assessment of market conditions by the Japanese travel trade, based on the outlook for bookings and current sales performance, is about the same as it was for Q2. And, they reported, it looks about the same through the spring of 2017.
Based on JATA’s complicated Diffusion Index† (see explanation at end of article), Hawaii remains and looks to remain a strong international destination for Japanese overseas travelers. There is no narrative on what to expect for the USA, only the numbers, which suggest a performance at the same level as in previous months.
However, the Japan-savvy travel marketer should consider taking a look at what the Japanese travel trade has to say about its sharply defined market segments. In the final quarter of 2016:
—Student tours will drop sharply, losing 8 points.
—Family tours will also decline, losing 7 points.
—Business/technical visits will grow by 2 points
—Senior travel will grow by 1 point.
—Incentive tours will gain 5 points.
—Honeymoon travel will grow by 4 points.
—Education tours will gain 4 points.
—Individual tours will decrease by 4 points,
—Female office workers will be 3 points down.
During the first quarter of 2017, demand for honeymoon tours will get on the recovery path and gain 5 points. Business/technical visits (+/-0) will not show a significant change and will maintain their high ranking. Education tours will increase by 3 points, female office workers by 2 points and students by 1 point. Family travel, incentive tours and senior travel are expected to lose 3, 2 and 1 point respectively while demand for individual travel will remain unchanged
Who is surveyed for the JATA Quarterly Market Trends Report? Answer: A definition of each business classification and the number of survey respondents are shown below.
†A Note on the Methodology and the DI (Diffusion Index): The JATA Survey of Travel Market Trends is designed to grasp trends in the travel market based on responses to questions on current conditions and those anticipated over the next three months. The survey asks participating companies to rate their sales results for each destination and customer segment by choosing from three categories: “good,” “average,” and “poor.” For items outside their business scope, respondents select “do not handle.” Each share of “good,” “average,” and “poor” is then divided respectively by the denominator, which is equal to the total number of responses minus the “do not handle” (including “no reply”) responses. Finally, each share is processed into the Diffusion Index (DI) by subtracting the percentage of “poor” from the percentage of “good.” The highest possible index figure is +100, and the lowest is -100. The survey which produced this quarter’s results was taken from Aug. 8 to Aug. 29, 2016. Registered companies: 532 Responding companies: 309; response rate: 58.1 percent.
Hawai‘I and Expedia Introduce Facial Recognition in Unique Promotion
The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (HTA) and Expedia® Media Solutions, the advertising sales division of Expedia, Inc. have announced the launch of a new global marketing campaign, “Discover Your Aloha,” to promote travel to the Hawaiian Islands through a custom solution featuring facial recognition technology. The first time that Expedia Media Solutions has integrated facial recognition software into a partner marketing campaign, the technology measures viewers’ reactions as they engage with the video content showcasing the beauty and unique cultural elements of the Hawaiian Islands.
On the “Discover Your Aloha” microsite, users are exposed to video content featuring drone footage, that represent a guide of spiritual significance to Hawaiian culture, including ‘Iwa (Bird): Hawai‘i’s all-knowing guide; He‘e (Octopus): Hawai‘i’s loving spirit; Pua‘a (Pig): Hawai‘i’s bold adventurer. As the video plays, the bespoke facial recognition software, developed specifically for this campaign by digital agency Realise, identifies which footage evokes the most positive reaction from the viewer. The facial recognition algorithm identifies the personal preferences of each viewer and produces a customized travel recommendation aligned with one of the three Hawai‘i guides. Users then have the opportunity to book a personalized Hawai‘i vacation package with discounts of up to 50 percent, including exclusive offers from dozens of participating local hotels.
The initiative “is the first campaign where we integrated facial recognition software, and is an example of the type of innovation we can bring, at scale with our global audience, to our marketing partners,” explains Noah Tratt, senior global vice president of Expedia Media Solutions. “The campaign was custom designed and built for The HTA, from start to finish, as a unique way to inspire, inform and incite travel to the Hawaiian Islands.”
The year-long campaign is designed to generate awareness and increase incremental demand to the Hawaiian Islands and uses innovative technology and inspirational content as a way to connect with travelers—especially millennial audiences—while remaining competitive. To complement the microsite, Hawai‘i travel guides will host takeovers of Expedia’s social channels, including Instagram and Snapchat, throughout the year to share new, seasonal and behind-the-scenes content. These takeovers will help the millennial audience discover their ideal Hawai‘i experience, and increase awareness for the destination’s one-of-a-kind culture and geography.
“Through this innovative technology, Expedia Media Solutions has helped us to further distinguish Hawai‘i as an incomparable destination by bringing to life and personalizing the distinct culture and magnificent geography that set us apart from other destinations,” said Randy Baldemor, chief operating officer of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. “In keeping with our vision to make greater, more effective use of technology to promote Hawai’i, the drone-shot video footage and facial recognition software allows travel consumers to discover the qualities they find most appealing and inspire them to book a trip to the Hawaiian Islands.”
The campaign functions across desktop and mobile devices, and targets consumers across the USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand with display advertising on Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Travelocity and Wotif points of sale. For more information visit: DiscoverYourAloha.expedia.com.
Note: Expedia Media Solutions will demonstrate the Facial Recognition software on October 21st at NAJ’s eTourism Summit conference in San Francisco.
Are NYC Tour Buses Facing Bus Vigilantes in the Future?
While the fight has generally avoided landing on page one, being the lead story on local television news or anywhere near a lead item on any online news service, it is intense and, judging from the tenor of the public dialogue, an issue that the New York tour and travel industry would just as soon avoid dealing with. That is, should there be stricter limits on the number of those familiar, double-decker tour buses that ply the streets of Manhattan and are a critical mode of sightseeing for international travelers visiting New York City?
The perspective of locals on tour buses and their passengers is a tortured one, perhaps best captured in a recent commentary by Nick Pinto, a columnist for the Village Voice: “They are crucial to our economy, pumping tens of billions of dollars into the city every year, but they clot entire neighborhoods for seasons at a time; their pilgrimage validates our certainty that we live at the center of the universe but, Jesus Christ, do they insist on ambling down the sidewalk four abreast at speeds that wouldn’t save them if they were being pursued by a carnivorous plant? We need them, but we’ve made a sport of resenting them.”
What triggered the lamentation—and others like it—are proposals made by some New York City Council members that would limit the number and operating practices of tour buses working Manhattan. The passion on the issue came forth at a recent city council meeting that attracted some key players in the city’s tour and travel industry. While some might deem the issue a local one, it is of enough significance that an official from the American Bus Association (ABA) also showed up, generating a “heads up” posting on the association’s website.
The number one issue at hand is the number of buses. Currently, there are 237 such buses registered to carry tourists about Manhattan. There were just 57 in 2003, according to the New York City Department of Transportation. A search of news data bases does not suggest any significant opposition to the buses—there were a few instances in which some visitors thought the sales tactics of tour bus representatives on some mid-town sidewalks too aggressive—until the past couple of years. It seems that the bus tours have included stops near the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in Lower Manhattan, which brings the buses through neighborhoods with narrower streets and which are largely residential.
At a Sept. 26 meeting that they New York City Council Committee on Consumer Affairs held jointly with the council’s Committee on Transportation Hearing on Sightseeing Bus Industry, Council Member Margaret Chin, whose district includes much of Lower Manhattan, put it this way: “It is an issue when four, five, or six near-empty buses clog up the street, spilling noxious fumes through residents’ windows.”
Do the Remedies Include Bus Vigilantes?
—Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer would put a limit on the number of license plates issued to tour buses at 225. Such a move is opposed, however, by smaller tour bus companies—there are just eight tour bus companies operating in Manhattan—as well as some businesses in the city’s other boroughs who would like to see new tour bus itineraries extended into The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.
—What alarmed ABA was a session the day after the meeting cited above, of the City Council Committee on Environmental Protection. It met to discuss legislation that, in the words of ABA, “could have sweeping effects for the motorcoach industry and potentially all vehicles entering the City. The proposal in front of this committee looked to not only significantly increase the fines (by 50 percent) for violating New York City’s strict 3-minute anti-idling laws, but also looks to allow for the “deputizing” of citizens to expand the reach of law enforcement in policing this law along with encouraging the submission of video evidence of violations. The proposal goes further and actually incentivizes and will pay citizens for the successful prosecution of idling violators from the fines collected, as much as 50 percent of the fine amount.”
—Yet another measure would require that bus companies secure approval for their routes and stop locations from the Department of Transportation before they can get a license to operate from the Department of Consumer Affairs
Where it Goes from Here: We were unable to get a sense of when the legislative measures might come out of committee or when the full New York City Council might get around to them. News accounts seemed to suggest that nothing will happen until next year. In the meantime, the Inbound Report had difficulty finding anyone in the industry in New York City to talk about it—likely because the limitation measure pits one part of the industry against another.
As for a limit on the number of buses, if it is a matter of adopting the 225-bus limit it or doing nothing, the limit might have a good chance. At the Sept. 26 committee hearing by Laura Rothrock, a spokesperson for Twin America, the dominant player in the market, said that the company supports the limit. (Twin America includes City Sights New York and Gray Line New York.) Also, Rothrock is part of the influential PR and communications firm of Nicholas and Lentz, whose co-founder and CEO, Cristyne Nicolas, is a former president and CEO of New York City & Company.
To see the ABA post on the issue, click on:
A Perfect Time to Attend the RTO Summit Orlando
Brazil’s S**T Show, the UK’s Brexit Blues and Canada’s Swooning Loon mean It’s … A Perfect Time to Attend the RTO Summit Orlando
For tour and travel professionals looking to shape up their international digital marking skills, there is the new International Digital Day Nov. 15-16 at the RTO Summit Orlando, Florida. NAJ Events and Media, which produces the RTO Summit Series that takes place annually in New York, Orlando and Las Angeles, as well as travel technology’s next generation e-Tourism Summit in San Francisco, has re-molded the first day of the two-day Summit series as International Digital Day, a program of seminars and interactive educational sessions designed to equip tour and travel professionals who work the international market with the digital skills required to work the market more efficiently.
Laszlo Horvath, CEO, ActiveMedia, shown explaining to small group at a previous RTO Summit how to use Google information to analyze a destination’s online performance, will be among the presenters at the RTO Summit in Orlando.
Why now? Because after five strong years of arrivals from Europe and Latin America, we’ve reached a point in which room rates in the U.S. have gone through the roof and receptive tour operators (RTOs) have watched helplessly as hotel revenue managers reduced allocations in major gateway markets in favor of more OTAs and higher yield corporate business. Now however, savvy RTOs view the downturn as an opportunity as hotels experiencing reduced ADRs and occupancy are once again more amenable to offering inventory to the RTO channel. It’s time to zig when others are zagging.
“According to several attendees at the recent NAJ Salon in Orlando, Brazilian tourism to the U.S. has finally hit bottom,” says Jake Steinman, founder of NAJ Events and Media. “The prohibitive 33 percent surcharge levied on all credit card charges by Brazilian has now been rolled back to a more manageable 6 percent and, while it may be difficult to justify budgets for travel to Brazil, now is the time to forge solid relationships with the receptive operators channel who are the gatekeepers and the financial intermediaries while they are more open to new ideas and collaboration.”
There are several ways of doing this. One of the most popular is simply to organize sales missions to Orlando, New York and Los Angeles, the three RTO epicenters where 95 percent of all receptive operators are based. While this process is labor intensive—sometimes requiring two-to-three hours of back-and-forth to set up one appointment in their office—it can be the most productive.
Another alternative is to try to meet them at IPW, but there they mostly preoccupied by selling international business. A third option is to attend receptive operator events such as our RTO Summits in Orlando, New York and Los Angeles, or the IITA (International Inbound Travel Association) in New York City, where one can meet multiple operators under one roof.
At the RTO Summit in Orlando, Nov. 15-16, which launches the first International Digital Day on the 15th, delegates will learn about international media and PR to make themselves more valuable, followed by a day of one-on-one, face-to-face appointments with 40-45 operators for those who don’t have the time to organize a sale mission but want to build and maintain relationships without leaving the country. The best of both worlds.
For more information, visit www.rtosummit.com
What USA Products Are They Selling in the UK?
Generally a harbinger or indicator of what’s moving off the shelf in the UK is what the Visit USA Association (VUSA) is promoting to its UK followers. And in the latest bulletin from VUSA, the product mix is decidedly beyond the gateways, with a strong showing for the fly-drive component. From its latest bulletin, here are the five products presented by VUSA, with some of their descriptive content, as well as the contact for more information:
This flexible 5-day/4-night suggested itinerary connects New York City to Niagara Falls with many beautiful wonders in between. Explore the Corning Museum of Glass, Finger Lakes wine region, Rochester and the Strong National Museum of Play, and finish your experience with iconic Niagara Falls before returning to NYC! (www.winewaterwonders.com)
Discover Seattle; the Emerald City, a premier destination for art, entertainment and leisure. Explore Washington State’s natural wonders, including rainforests, islands and marine life. Soak up the atmosphere and learn about Washington State’s proud tradition of developing unique craft beer. From £2,879 ($3,500) per person including flights—based on 12 April 2017 departure. (www.discovernorthamerica.co.uk)
On these two exciting fly-drive holidays you’ll interact with the real America – fascinating Native American & Cowboy history; vibrant cities & quirky towns, and legendary settler trails and highways, including iconic Route 66. Just click below for all the details, then give us a call! (www.americanholidays.com/en-gb/drive-america/great-plains-/ … www.americanholidays.com/en-gb/drive-america/route-66/)
From East coast, past city skyscrapers and sunny shores to West coast, we have the right car for you. Drive the latest models for less and save up to 15% on your car hire, plus discounts of between 25 percent and 65 percent at Simons Shopping destinations across North America.
What is it about autumn in Dutchess that brings visitors back time and again? The crisp breeze rustling brilliant yellow leaves? The smell of apple cider donuts? Find festivals, graveyard tours, car shows and more fall activities online. Replenish your senses … and plan your autumn getaway now! (https://dutchesstourism.com/)
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Visit Baltimore, the city’s tourism and convention agency, has named Al Hutchinson as the new president and CEO following the departure of Tom Noonan in May; Noonan left to take over as president and CEO of the Austin (Texas) CVB. Hutchinson, 57, most recently served as president and CEO of Visit Mobile in Alabama for two years. Previously, he was vice president of sales for the Virginia Beach CVB for more than a decade. He’ll take over the position in Baltimore on Nov. 14.
OpenSkies airlines has named Pierre Butera as director of sales for France and the United States. OpenSkies is the British Airways-owned carrier that operates between Paris-Orly Airport and both Liberty International Airport in Newark and JFK in New York. Butera was previously director of sales and leisure markets for British Airways and Iberia in France.
Monica Afonso, who has served as sales manager at Delta Air Lines in the company’s Rio de Janeiro office, has joined the sales team at High Light, a major airline ticket consolidator also based in Rio de Janeiro. She can reached at email@example.com.
Daniel Gozalo has joined São Paulo-based tour operator Orinter Tour & Travel. A long-time veteran of the tour and travel industry, Gozalo most recently served as director of international products for Viagens Master, also based in São Paulo. He has also held senior sales and marketing positions for Designer Tours and Raidho.
Ricardo Carreón has been appointed vice president of Sabre Travel Network for Latin America and the Caribbean. He comes to the post from the NCR Corporation, where he was general manager for the Caribbean, Latin America and Brazil. Carreón, who speaks English, Portuguese and Spanish, has also served in senior management positions for Comptel and Intel.
Jonathan Elkoubi has been named director of tourism, group sales and corporate events for Applebees—Apple Metro Inc. Apple-Metro Inc. is the New York Metropolitan Area franchisee for both Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and Pizza Studio, with 38 locations in NYC’s five boroughs, Westchester and Rockland counties. Elkoubi comes to the post from Ripley’s Believe it or Not Times Square. Previously, he was director of sales and operations, incoming groups, for Bonjour USA Inc.