Heads Roll at Transat Following TUI Takeover
Cleanout of Old Regime Complete: Philippe Béchon, deputy CEO/general manager of Transat France, who was in charge of the Paris-based company’s operational team, left his post last week, completing a cleaning of the house at the French tour operator in a process that began last November, when the acquisition of Transat by TUI from its Canadian ownership formally began. TUI announced the acquisition last spring, but had to go through six months of review by various government agencies to finalize the deal.
The merger into TUI (TUI is dropping all country market names as a part of its global brand strategy, so there is no longer a TUI France), makes the operator the largest in France, which is the Number 7 overseas source market for the U.S. inbound tourism industry, sending more than 1.7 million visitors a year to the USA.
First to go was Patrice Cardec, president and CEO of the company—it also includes the popular brand, Look Voyages—who was terminated in November and replaced by Pascal de Izaguirre, who was brought to Transat from Corsair International, an airline subsidiary of TUI. Next to walk were Christian Brousse, chief financial officer and Romaric Bau, e-commerce director.
In a lengthy interview with France’s major travel trade publication, tourmag.com, Béchon said that he had hoped to stay on in his position until the fall, but health issues and other concerns prompted the ahead-of-schedule departure.
“I wanted to accompany Transat France until the end of the reorganization. (Last) November, I was convalescing. I shortened my recovery to be present as soon as possible alongside my teams,” said Béchon, adding that he felt “serene” about leaving: “This word ‘serene’ comes back naturally; really I’m not pissed off, I’m serene …”
The downsizing at the top of Transat France is only the tip of the iceberg. There are scores, possibly hundreds of other jobs at risk as TUI effects a reorganization of the former Transat brand components. The final toll could take some time to determine, as French workers and employees have many protections written into their employment agreements. As of this writing, French labor unions were involved in negotiations with TUI over the matter of employee departures and what benefits they will receive upon separation.
Citing its own sources, tourmag posted the following numbers:
—30 jobs are expected to disappear in the premises of Lyon (one third of the workforce), 30 in TUI France travel agencies, and about 60 posts are also being eliminated In the Look Voyages outlets.
—The tour-operating business will also be heavily hit with 50 posts to be eliminated, and in finance, there are 40 positions and more than 40 for the support functions and the management of information services that are targeted.
“In our opinion,” said tourmag, “the main objective of this plan (TUI’s reorganization plan) is to scrap the group’s workforce. On the social side, it is a calamity. “
At the time of the merger last December, the key numbers for TUI France and Transat were as follows:
-Turnover: € 613m ($665.5 million)
– 704,000 customers
– 12 percent market share
– No. 1 in the medium-haul markets
– 46 holiday clubs
– 717 employees (end of September 2016)
– 55 own travel agencies including 25 TUI stores
– 156 agents including 10 TUI stores.
– Turnover: € 460 million ($500 million)
– 450,000 customers
– 9 percent market share
– No. 1 in North America, Mexico, Ireland, Senegal, Bulgaria
– 40 holiday clubs
– 582 employees (staff at the end of September 2016 excluding clubs)
– 42 own travel agencies
– 17 franchise
China Passes UK as No. 1 Source of International Visitors to Boston
Last year, an estimated 230,000 Chinese travelers came to Boston, making China the number one international source market for the city; it surpasses the UK, which has long held the distinction. The new figure means that the number of visitors to Boston has doubled within the past four years.
Chinese tourists at Harvard University, one of Boston’s visitor attractions
Announcement of the change at the top was made by the Greater Boston CVB, which said the increase in Chinese visitor traffic is the result of increased direct air service between China and Boston, along with greater interest in the destination. A number of other factors have contributed to the greater interest—everything from the CVB’s increase in marketing and promoting Boston to the surge in attention and popularity the city received when it became known in China that Xi Mingze—the only child of China’s president, Xi Jinping, was a student at Harvard (she graduated in 2014).
The larger number of visitors to Boston—it has doubled in four years—has been facilitated by an increase in the number of direct flights between Boston and several cities in China. Next month, the CVB will lead its first sales mission to China in an effort to further increase those numbers. Specifically, the tourism bureau hopes to double it to a half-million visitors by the year 2021.
In making the announcement of the record-setting numbers of Chinese visitors, Pat Moscaritolo, president and CEO of the Greater Boston CVB, said that this is quite a brilliant opportunity for their visitor industry in order to leverage the incredible growth in China in their interest to pay visit to America. His department has decided to join the group of representatives heading there in March. Now is the ideal time, he said, to take the best advantage of this market.
This Year, Says Kuoni, Exchange Rate Trumps Trump When It Comes to Bookings
Operator’s Trends Report Tells Us What’s Influencing Travel in 2017: According to Kuoni UK, the top two factors affecting this year’s travel trends are the standing of the British pound sterling, followed by what it is that U.S. President Donald Trump. As listed in Kuoni’s Worldwide Trends Report 2017—it usually comes out later than most such publications. Keeping in mind that Kuoni cultivates an upscale clientele, here are the things that the upscale tour operator says are influencing UK travel in 2017.
- Currency/Value for Money: How and when the government chooses to invoke Article 50 for the UK to leave the European Union.
- President Trump: Donald Trump’s view on America’s relationship with Cuba, Mexico and the Middle East cold affect holidays going forward.
- Lions in New Zealand: June and July 2017 sees the British and Irish Lions tour take place with 10 rugby union matches up and down the country.
- Security: Trusted brands with a strong history of delivering quality and customer care will continue to come to the fore as people become increasingly aware of potential threats.
- India to Benefit from Film and TV Exposure: The Oscar-nominated film, Lion and ITV’s Good Karma Hospital, the story of a British junior doctor fleeing heartbreak to work in India could give the country a similar boost to the one that occurred with the release of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
- South America to Surprise: British Airways has launched a four-times-a-week service to Santiago, Chile that is sure to boost sales.
- A New Russian Revolution: November sees the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution and the rise of Bolsheviks—publicity around the anniversary could see a spike in interest.
- Return to Oz: The England cricket team’s upcoming Ashes tour and the start of direct Qantas flights to Perth (set to take off in early 2018) should see demand to Down Under increase towards the end of the year.
The Destination Wedding: Having carved out a niche for itself in destination wedding sales, Kuoni UK has parlayed its success, as well as its expertise, over to the LGBT market. Its lists of top wedding and honeymoon destinations are closely followed.
The Upscale Family: On just about any other survey of Brits and their holiday plans, the USA would rank first as a family destination. For Kuoni UK, the ranking is decidedly different.
The Kuoni Differentiation: In the UK, Kuoni takes care to differentiate its product as decidedly upscale through all of its advertising and through partnerships with brands that have similar reputations. For instance, one can find Kuoni agents in 15 of mid-to-upscale John Lewis department stores that have a 150-year history in the UK.
Its Oxford Street store in London the Oxford Street store has been awarded a Royal Warrant from the Queen as: “suppliers of haberdashery and household goods.” The John Lewis Reading store holds a Royal Warrant from the Queen as as suppliers of household and fancy goods.
“Appointments in store, which can easily last more than two hours, were at all-time high,” said Kuoni, adding that, “when it comes to special occasion travel and more complex tailor made holidays, people still like to sit down and discuss their holiday before booking with confidence.” It is probable that no other travel brand anywhere has such varied locations.
eTourism Summit: International Edition Highlights: Part 1
Planet Google—How Tourism Sales Professionals Can Mine It Better: Among the most popular sessions at the e-Tourism International Day part of NAJ’s recent RTO Summit West was that presented by Laszlo Horvath, CEO of ActiveMedia, a global online search, advertising and media agency headquartered in San Francisco.
Horvath, a familiar figure at NAJ conferences, used the occasion to introduce sales professionals to, or help them better understand, digital marketing techniques by focusing on how they can use the Google search engine to enhance their international reach.
With few exceptions, Google has worldwide penetration and greater market share than any other search engine.
In his presentation, Horvath zeroed in on the subject “Five Key Things Tourism Sales People Need to Know about Google that Will Make Life Easier.” A summary follows.
- How do we advise our webmaster to make our site searchable to international visitors? Said Horvath, “If you have your website google-ized in your language … your traffic will increase. Have your domain in those languages representing the markets you are after.”
—Great news: your English website is readily searchable anywhere in the World for anybody using English keywords.”
—Even better: You can have your website translated to get a lot more coverage. Best practices: have your own domain/URL or at least subdomain and set the specific country for these in Google Search Console and use hreflang tags to set the language.
—The hreflang attribute (also referred to as rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x”) tells Google which language you are using on a specific page, so the search engine can serve that result to users searching in that language.
- SEM: How do we generate international trade leads using paid search?
—Select a specific language. Keep the targeting worldwide (or if you want, specify target the country as well.
—Advertise in English and choose specific countries you want to target. This way you’ll attract international visitors who speak English.
—If you target the international traveler using their own language, have at least your landing pages translated. Having your site translated to that language is even better.
—Have people in staff that speak the language(s) you advertise in or use a company that can help answer phones, send emails in the target language.
- What free Google tools can help me save time and energy?
—Use Google Analytics to see and analyze website data.
—Go to Keyword Planner to see what your potential customers are searching for and what the suggested PPC bids are.
—Google Trends – Search and explore interest by time, location and popularity.
—Google Alerts – Use your company’s name, your executives’ names, industry, niches, and more to stay
—Connect to Gmail: Assistant.to lets you book meetings with one email through gmail. No back snf forth. Easy-to-use free scheduling tool.
- How Can Google help me find the best websites to connect with tour operators and consumers?
Use Google’s Advanced Search: https://www.google.com/advanced_search to easier find websites by region, language, etc. and use advanced search modifiers to narrow down your search. For example by using the exact words modifier.
- What tools exist on Youtube to translate our videos to make them useful to tour operators?
—You can add translated video titles and descriptions to your videos so your fans can find your videos in their own language.
—You can also add translations for channel, playlists and sections. This makes your videos, channel, playlists and sections more accessible to fans outside of your home country and helps you build a global audience.
—There is no automated tool exists on YouTube to automatically add these translations and these are currently limited to title and description not the content of the video.
—To add translated captioning to a video you’ll need to do it either through a captioning service or software. Two software programs are: Subtitle Workshop, MovCaptioner.
For more information, contact:
Laszlo Horvath CEO, ActiveMedia
- 2995 Woodside Road
- Woodside, CA 94061
- Office: 1.650.353.2310
- Cell: 1.703.801.1665
Smarketing: Silos are for Farmers not Marketers or the L.A. Convention & Tourism Board
By Angelica Von Seyfried
(Editor’s note, at NAJ’s recent eTourism Marketing international day during the RTO Summit West in Los Angeles, the author, who is content manager at the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board, made the following well-received presentation on “Smarketing.” We’ve made some minor changes in re-formatting it for the Inbound Report.)
Smarketing—What is it? Smarketing refers to the unity between an organizations marketing and sales teams developed through increased communication between the two groups. In business, new buzzwords get bounced around all the time. One such word you may be hearing more of is Smarketing, but what exactly is it?
Simply put, smarketing is all about the merging of departments, it’s a culture, an attitude, a spirit of collaboration that essentially takes a holistic view of the organizations goals.
Traditionally, sales and marketing teams haven’t had the best track records for collaboration and communications so doing away with the traditional barriers that exist between the two departments is one of the most beneficial things that an organization can do.
For one, it makes money. According to a study done by the Aberdeen Group research firm, organizations with tightly aligned marketing and sales teams increased their annual revenue growth by 20 percent.
Overall, companies that really embraced the idea of Smarketing not only found increased profitability but also increased morale, greater efficiency and improved customer service.
As one can see, there is definitely value in getting the two departments to play nice and collaborate with one another.
How can someone start implementing a Smarketing mentality within their organization? They could start with something as simple as hosting a meeting between the two teams. Create an open forum meeting where the sales and marketing teams come together and share ideas, customer insight, helpful analytics and more.
At L.A. Tourism, the marketing professionals sat down with its sales team and simply asked, “How can marketing help?” and the response they got was tremendous. They quickly learned that the sales team was an excellent resource to help us understand our audience and clue us into what type of content will actually spark their interest the most.
The sales team shared their client’s top questions and concerns and the marketing team then took that feedback and tailored their content strategy so that it aligned with the interests of their target audience. Marketers want their content and campaigns to educate and inspire their audience and the open and consistent communication between the two departments is integral to that happening.
The Power of Social Media and Social Selling: The biggest question L.A. Tourism’s marketing professionals got from the sales team was “How can we become better at using social media to interact with clients?”
Social media is one of the most powerful channels for marketing and sales. It’s transformed the way we communicate with our audience and it’s become an integral platform in generating leads in addition to increasing overall brand awareness. It is important that sales and marketing teams to have a consistent, informed approach to their social media efforts and really embrace the idea of social selling.
Social selling is all about strategically using social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn to help in building relationships with current customers and potential clients. And it’s about making connections and sharing the content that your audience will find most helpful about your destination.
Platforms like LinkedIn Sale Navigator and twitter are great because they allow users to promote their professional brand, focus on the right prospects, stay informed with insights, and build trusted relationships.
Go Where Your Customers Are: A few ways to help a DMO’s teams get on-board with social selling is by helping them to set up a professional, work-related social accounts if they don’t have them already. Encourage them to posts updates and exciting news on their channels and interact with their audience using brand appropriate messaging. Also, they should be encouraged to connect with their clients on multiple channels. As the saying goes “Go where your customers are,” and nowadays a lot of folks look to social media during their booking process to see what the destination is all about. And lastly, integrate relevant content and new media into our outreach. Instead of sending a generic follow-up email, why not send a new article or video along with your message. And speaking of new media…
The Future—Virtual Reality—is Now:
Virtual Reality can be described as an immersive multimedia technology and the total revenue for the virtual reality (VR) industry is projected to increase from $5.2 billion in 2016 to over $162 billion in 2020, according to the IDC.
This past summer, the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board partnered with a company called XPlorit to create a virtual reality platform designed with meeting professionals in mind. Virtual Discovery LA features immersive, 360 views of over 50 uniquely Los Angeles m event spaces, destinations and attractions! You can seem some of them below.
Los Angeles has entertainment venues, restaurants, cultural attractions and outdoor destinations. Equipped with this tool, meeting planners can break out of the boardroom and explore the city’s expansive inventory of unique spaces.
With its new Virtual Reality presentation, Los Angeles is able to stay ahead of the curve and present our destination in a memorable, fun and innovative way, and L.A. Tourism has had great success in implementing the Virtual Reality tour at trade shows. By taking headsets to events and demonstrating the tour during presentations, the bureau has seen an increase in one-on-one interactions plus long lines of people wanting to experience virtual reality based purely on the novelty of the technology.
With Virtual Reality, L.A. Tourism has also been able to streamline its site tour process. Now, when its client services team first starts working with a customer, it encourages them to introduce the client to the Virtual Reality platform and discover what LA has to offer before they get here so that when they do arrive, they already have an idea of what they want to see.
The Human Factor Remains: Despite the omnipresence of digital technologies and social media, face-to-face interactions between clients and a salesperson can never be replaced. But, in order for destinations to be more appealing to their clients, they need to have intertwine digital technology into their approach because nowadays, the most successful interactions combine live human engagement and virtual connectivity. So, Smarketers must continue to collaborate, continue to communicate and continue to explore new ways to engage with their audience.
New Report Shows Chinese Travelers’ Manners Have Improved. But Not Everyone Agrees
But the Japanese Don’t Think So: In a report released last week, the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) released some results from one of its reports which showed that major overseas tourism destinations are somewhat impressed with Chinese outbound tourists who have improved their manners in the past five years.
For its report, CNTA conducted a survey that interviewed 3,650 people from 10 overseas tourism destinations—the United States, the UK, France, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan—on the image and behavior of Chinese outbound tourists.
Survey respondents were asked to grade the image they have of Chinese tourist on a scale from one to ten, resulting in an average score of 5.2. Commenting the result, the CNTA stated that “despite there being no difference in how Chinese and overseas interviewees define bad behavior, the overall ranking of Chinese outbound tourists’ manners is not that high.”
The report also explored the range of poor behaviors among Chinese tourists witnessed by the survey respondents that resulted in their negative appraisal of Chinese tourists. According to the CNTA, the following answers were the most commonly quoted bad behaviors:
- Making a racket in public
- Cutting in line
- Showing no respect for local culture and customs
- Spitting in public places
- Urinating and defecating everywhere
- Speaking impolitely
- Taking photos when they are not allowed to
- Smoking in public places
- Not remaining rational when unsatisfied with services
Nearly half of the interviewees said that they have witnessed an improvement in Chinese tourists’ manners in the past five years. Positive response came from Indonesia, France, Singapore, the UK and the USA. However, neighboring countries such as Japan did not, with only 18.9 percent of Japanese interviewees saying they had witnessed an improvement.
(Last summer, officials at the Hokkaido Tourism Organization were annoyed enough at the purported poor behavior of Chinese visitors that it published a visitors guide aimed directly at the Chinese; it was designed to explain the dos and don’ts of Japanese culture. The guide, produced by the and published in August, placed large red “X” marks over unwanted behavior, including violations of bathroom etiquette, making noise in swimming areas and flatulence in public places.)
Chinese travelers now comprise the world’s largest outbound tourism market, but the behavior of some of their numbers has also led to criticism from many overseas tourism destinations. Liu Simin, vice-president of tourism of the Chinese Society for Future Studies, said that, in addition to tightening government or industry regulations on this issue, it is also necessary to educate people about good manners from a young age, even starting from kindergarten, which would set solid foundations for education on civilized tourism.
Procreating More Swedish Travelers: A Paid Hour a Week for Sex?
Proposal is Pending in Swedish Town: Per-Erik Muskos, a 42-year-old councilman from the small northern municipality of Övertorneå, Sweden (Right on the Arctic Circle, it has an estimated population of just under 2,000) last week proposed offering the town’s employees the right to subsidized sex. In introducing his proposal, he suggested to his fellow council members that the move might provide a way to increase the shrinking population, add spice to aging marriages and improve employee morale.
According to a report by the New York Times news service, Muskos pointed out that “sex is also a great form of exercise and has documented positive effects on well-being.” Municipal employees could use an hour of the workweek already allotted for fitness activities to go home and have sex with their spouses or partners instead. The motion, which is expected to be voted on in the spring, needs a simple majority to be passed by the 31-member council. As of now, opinion on the council is divided.
“We should encourage procreation. I believe that sex is often in short supply. Everyday life is stressful and the children are at home,” Muskos explained in making his motion in Overtornea. “This could be an opportunity for couples to have their own time, only for each other.”
When Muskos introduced the motion Feb. 20, some council members snickered and chuckled while others said they were not amused. One council member, Tomas Vedestig, 42, said that when Muskos explained his proposal, his colleagues were so taken aback that they thought they had misheard him. Vedestig said the proposal was intrusive and threatened to embarrass people who do not have sexual partners; do not want to have sex; or had medical conditions that precluded sex.
Said Vedestig: “I don’t think it’s the employer’s business to to say ‘go home for an hour and make babies,'” he said. And some proponents worried the proposal was too stingy: “I spoke to a couple of older gentlemen who said, ‘One hour? That is not enough time.'”
Muskos told colleagues the proposal was no joke, though he acknowledged practical problems like enforcement. It would be difficult to tell, for example, if an employee eschewed sex in favor of a walk in the country.
Lower Birthrates = Fewer Worker Replacements, Fewer Travelers: The proposal comes as countries across Europe are grappling with how to balance the rigors of modernity and work with the desire for better quality of life. In France, which already has a mandatory 35-hour workweek, subsidized health care and long vacations, the government recently passed legislation granting employees the “right to disconnect.” The measure calls for companies with more than 50 employees to help ensure that work does not intrude into days off.
Demographic pressures and declining birthrates have been a concern in countries across Europe, including Spain, Italy and Germany. (In 2015, Germany passed Japan among the world’s developed nations as the country with the lowest birth rate.) The principal reason that concerns economists is that nations with birthrates as low as German, Japan and others are not giving birth to enough babies to replace retiring workers.
Low birthrates along with the increasing aging of populations also mean a decline in the numbers of people in the prime age for travelers—21-to-54. Two years ago officials in became so concerned about the birthrate that they started to offer sex education classes focused on procreation rather than contraception. The Spies travel agency in Denmark—it is a Thomas Cook brand—even introduced a “Do It for Denmark!” campaign, encouraging couples to take romantic vacations to try to procreate, claiming that Danes had 46 percent more sex while on vacation. To see a video promoting the campaign, click on the following link.
Malin Hansson, 41, a sexologist and specialist in reproductive health in Gothenburg, expressed her support for the initiative, arguing that sex reduced stress, improved sleep and strengthened immunity, while enriching intimacy between couples. “If it was up to me, I would introduce this across the country,” she said, adding: “In Sweden, sex is considered just another activity.”
Traditional Agencies Sold More than a Third of Travel in Colombia at Year’s End
Visitors from Colombia, the No. 11 overseas source market for the U.S. inbound tourism industry, like to book their travel through travel agencies in increasing—not decreasing—numbers, according to the Colombian Association of Travel and Tourism Agencies (Asociación Colombiana de Agencias de Viajes y Turismo, or ANATO).
According to an ANATO survey, during the end-of-year season, agencies “ratified the importance of tourism packages.” Tour packages were the most purchased item by travelers through the agencies, representing 38 percent of the total share of their sales.
ANATO’s survey of the agency sector’s behavior among 132 of its partners showed that 77 percent of them said that sales were better than in the same period of 2016.
Other highlights from the ANATO survey results, as reported by the news portal, Reportur.co, included the following:
- International ticket sales by travel agencies grew 18.7 percent in 2016 over the previous year, representing 1 trillion 536 billion pesos ($535 million) (which, ANATO said, “confirms the importance of the agencies for the airlines.”
- More than three-quarters (77 percent) of agencies said that sales were better than during the same period the previous year.
- The travel agency segment accounted for 38 percent of the total sales made by travel companies during the end-of-year sales period.
- Domestic travel, within Colombia, accounted for 52 percent of agency sales.
- International travel accounted for 48 percent of agency sales.
- Aside from the USA, popular international destination packages for Colombian travelers included Mexico, with the archaeological adventure tour packages; the villages of Italy; Guatemala; Japan, boutique nautical tours; Greek islands, Bora Bora, Singapore and Thailand.
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Amanda Darrington has left her post as sales director at Funway Holidays to join Royal Caribbean as sales director for the UK and Ireland. Before her tenure at Funway, Darrington had been head of trade sales at Kuoni Travel UK, where she served for more than seven years.
Etty Scaglia, owner of New York City-based Accent on Dining, has been honored as Outstanding Travel Professional of the Year Award by the International Inbound Travel Association (IITA). She received the honor as part of the Stanley Awards for Excellence, which were announced during the 2017 IITA Summit, February 5-8. The awards dinner was hosted by Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast. They are named after the late Stanley Fisher, one of the founders of the receptive tour operator industry in the USA.
Leanne Pletcher has been named director of public relations for the Maui VCB. A 16-year veteran of Hawaii’s tourism industry, Pletcher brings more than 28 years of experience in communications and marketing to MVCB. She most recently served as director of marketing communications at the Hilton Waikoloa Village from 2003-2017.
Steve Pierson has been chosen to head the sales department of the Greater Birmingham CVB as director of convention sales. Since 2007, he has held the position of national sales manager in the department. Long involved in the hospitality industry, Pierson formerly served as vice president of sales for convention bureaus in Knoxville, Rochester and Houston.
Also, Carman Atchison has joined the staff of the Birmingham CVB as sales manager for the Northeast territory and the arts and culture markets. She previously was sales manager for The Westin and Sheraton Hotels in Birmingham. A graduate of the University of Alabama, Atchison also worked in sales and guest services at Tuscaloosa’s Capstone Hotel.
Helen Adamson has left her position as commercial director at Saga, has been appointed as managing director of Travelopia’s specialist short-haul brands, Sovereign and Citalia. A long-time veteran of the tour and travel industry, Adamson began her career and Thomson and has worked for such companies as Disney and British Airways Holidays. , who recently held the position of commercial director at Saga, will take up her new role on March 1. She succeeds Steph Pritchard, who has retired from the position.