TOP OF THE NEWS
Weak Euro Curtailing Bookings to NYC, BOS, DC. MCO: The weakened euro has already made it difficult for receptive tour operators who sell to European operators. Inbound has received several anecdotal accounts to this effect—such as this comment from a well-known receptive in Florida: “Europe demand towards U.S. products (not just travel) is in a serious decline … this is in addition to the economic and political instability in the EU and the uncertainty resulted from it. When it comes to us, January was very challenging as we were working so much more just to keep EU numbers as they used to be, while giving up on substantial margins. Being the main-gate for EU traffic, NYC suffers the most, followed by Boston, DC and Orlando.”
In just a few weeks—that’s when ITB gets underway in Berlin—the inbound tour and travel industry in the U.S. will probably get a definitive reading on how well key source markets from Europe will be buying U.S. travel product for the remainder of 2015, as well as what product planners have in mind for 2016. Scheduled for March 4-8 this year, ITB is the largest travel show in the world. Travel suppliers from all over use the event as a platform for all sorts of announcements as well as an opportunity to exchange market intelligence and insights. In addition, travel and economic research groups release the results of numerous annual studies and forecasts. The setting should give us an understanding of the extent to which the weak euro has already affected, and will affect, travel plans to the U.S.
At one point last month, the euro had declined 20 percent against the dollar, year-over-year, plummeting to its lowest level since 2003. A number of factors contributed to the decline, not the least of which is the shaky state of Greece’s economy. Reports that a newly elected government in Europe would seek debt forgiveness and restructuring helped to send the euro to its more-than-ten-year low. But, by Feb. 4, the European Central Bank announced that it was providing Greece with a fresh infusion of credit. By week’s end, the euro had recovered slightly, but still 15 percent weaker than it was for most of last year.
Euro and the U.S. Dollar
Ten Year Changes† in Exchange Rate
|Year*||Euro = $||% Change vs. Previous Year|
* Rate struck at mid-day on Feb. 5 of each year†Ten-year change: -4.2%
Source: Prepared by Inbound (xe.com)
ATI Partners with China Auto Clubs
ATI Partners with China Auto Clubs to Move Drive Product in USA: The largest United States-owned receptive tour operator, AmericanTours International (ATI), has leveraged its relationship with the China Automobile Clubs (they have an estimated 100 million members) to promote its “ATI-Drive America” tours to Chinese travelers. The ”Drive America” product features itineraries that range from Highway 1 along California’s coastline to adventure drives around Hawaiian Islands, cruising along famous Route 66-Chicago to Santa Monica, or traveling from Toronto, New York or Washington D.C. to the Florida Keys. Travelers stay inside popular U.S. National Parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon. Chinese travelers are greeted by a Mandarin speaking ATI Concierge at gateway cities, assisted to travel independently or be escorted by experienced ATI Guides on the road across America. “ATI-Drive America” offers exclusive value-added features that only ATI is able to secure from rental car companies, hotels, attractions, restaurants, shopping and national parks. ATI partners with select American Automobile Association (AAA) clubs and Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) clubs to offer exclusive “once in a lifetime” travel experiences to members online or through AAA/CAA agents.
Germany– Leadership Changes at DER Touristik
Leadership Change in Place at Germany’s Second Largest Travel Company: The second largest tourism group in Germany, DER Touristik—it owns some of the most popular and durable brands for U.S. travel suppliers—has put into place a leadership team that will oversee outbound product operations when company veteran Michael Frese retires this summer after 12 years as head of the group‘s individual and long-haul holidays business. The company has promoted Matthias Rotter and René Herzog to senior management positions to effect the transition following Frese’s departure. .
Rotter will take over as managing director, tourism of DER Touristik Frankfurt, effective June 1st. At the same time, Herzog will become chief operating officer and take responsibility for all tour operator activities at the company’s two divisions in Cologne and Frankfurt, which he currently shares with Frese.
Rotter, who has been head of Meier’s Weltreisen since 2003, will be responsible for Dertour, Meier‘s Weltreisen and ADAC Reisen. Herzog will be responsible for the package holiday brands ITS, Jahn Reisen and Travelix in Cologne together with Rolf-Dieter Maltzahn, tourism director at DER Touristik Cologne, and for the Frankfurt-based brands together with Rotter.
Sören Hartmann, DER Touristik’s CEO, told the German trade publication, FVW, that the management restructuring will not affect the group’s operations, noting that. “the different business models of the individual holidays and package holidays.
Comparing India vs Asia Travel Preferences to USA
It’s been four years since Robert Graff, vice president of marketing, the Papillon Group, attended SATTE (the South Asia Travel & Tourism Exchange) Jan. 29-31 It is the most important travel trade show in India. Things were considerably different than they were in 2011 in New Delhi, he said, pointing first to the unifying lead role played by Brand USA, which did not yet have a marketing plan or a budget sufficient to send staff to major international trade shows.
But there was more than that. Aside from a wealth of data already made available by the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) that details the way Indian travelers plan, undertake their trips, what they do when they are in the U.S., and what distinguishes them from visitors from other Asian markets (see below), there was also what Graff describes as a certain zeitgeist at this year’s SATTE.
“The timing could not have been better,” he said. “It was right on the heels of a presidential visit (President Obama visited the country Jan. 25-27) and—get this—there is a newly appointed U.S. Ambassador who is Indian. (One-time State Department official Richard Verma, whose parents are from India, and who grew up in Pennsylvania, presented his ambassadorial credentials to the Indian government on Jan. 16.) Add a big middle class, with strong aspirations to travel, specifically to USA … and, frankly, I have every reason to be very bullish on India. This country could be our travel industry’s dark horse candidate for a top market.” (Below: Robert Graff of the Papillon group, left, with U.S. Ambassador to India Richard Verna, during SATTE)
Four years ago, those who attended SATTE heard complains about the long time—sometimes as long as two months—it took to get interviews for visas to go to the U.S. And there were complaints, as well, about the limited air service from India to the U.S. In the year following the 2011 SATTE, the U.S. increased the number of locations, as well as the number of interview officers, at which it processed visa applications. As a result, visa wait times have been greatly reduced; last week, for instance, the average wait time at New Delhi was 5 days. For current wait times at all locations in India, visit: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/general/wait-times.html
Also, carriers from other markets have developed increased capacity to the U.S. through new connecting flights to Asian, Middle East and through code sharing and partnership alliances. Graff pointed out that, late last year, Air India joined the Star Alliance (it includes United Airlines), which is located hubs in Mumbai and New Delhi. It already has a hub at Heathrow Airport in London. “I think the Star Alliance move to include air India is a good sign,” said Graff.
India Insights—Random Info Bytes on a Top 10 Overseas Source Market
The potential international travel market in India is enormous. One report indicated that, in 2012, there were 50 million passport holders in India, with the number projected then to reach 100 million by 2022. It might well happen before then—last year alone, India’s government issued 8,486,000 passports.
When They Travel: Asked at an educational seminar why May is the month in which more people travel to the U.S. than in any other month, Camille Richardson, principal commercial officer for the U.S. Department of Commerce in Mumbai, India, told Inbound, “May is probably the worst month to be in India,” said Richardson. “It’s hot, it’s humid, it’s pre-monsoon muggy weather. So, that tends to be the time when people take vacations.” (We checked and found that, in May, the average maximum and minimum temperatures for the month in Mumbai are 91.4⁰ F and 78.8⁰ F.)
When Do Asian & Indian Travelers Visit?
|Month||Asian Travelers*||Indian Travelers*|
|TOP FOUR MONTHS||39.20%||45.70%|
SOURCE: National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO), International Trade Administration (ITA), U.S. Dept. of Commerce (June 2014)* Market shares are based upon three-year averages
Principal Holiday Seasons in India
|Season||Periods for Travel|
|Summer Holidays||Six weeks school vacation, May-July|
|Fall Holidays||Diwali/Dusshera2 weeks in Oct./Nov.|
|Winter Holidays||2 weeks in December|
Where They Arrive—No Matter the Direction, India is Definitely Long-Haul: Unlike other key overseas source markets in Asia, India, because of its geographical situation, is closer to New York City than Los Angeles. For example:
Mumbai to the U.S.
|Mumbai-Los Angeles||8,688 miles|
The above may help to explain why the top Gateway to the U.S. for travelers from India is the New York Area (JFK International Airport in New York City, and Newark’s Liberty International Airport, which is slightly more than 31 miles away from the former), receives nearly 30 percent of all Indian visitors to the U.S. The preferences are substantially different than they are for the rest of Asia.
Asian & Indian Ports of Entry—2013
|HNL (20%)||JFK (17%)|
|LAX (13%)||EWR (12%)|
|GUM (13%)||ORD (11%)|
|JFK (10%)||SFO (10%)|
|SFO (10%)||Blaine, Wash. (7%)|
|TOP FIVE: 45%||TOP FIVE: 40%|
SOURCE: NTTO, ITA, U.S. Dept. of Commerce (June 2014)
How They Plan Their Trips—Planning Times are Shorter:
Sources of Information for Planning Travel
And Trip Decision Times
|Information Sources||Asian Travelers to U.S. in 2013||Indian Travelers to U.S. in 2013|
|Travel Agency Office||30%||22%|
|Online Travel Agency||25%||22%|
|Corporate Travel Department||14%||35%|
|Advance Trip Decision Time||68 days||46 days|
|Advance Airline Tix Reservation||47 days||35 days|
Leisure is not the Most Important Purpose for Visiting:
Selected Asian and Indian Travelers’
Key Characteristics 2013
|Characteristics||Asian Travelers to U.S. in 2013||Indian Travelers to U.S. in 2013|
|Use of Packages||34%||6%|
|First International Trip||31%||28%|
|Nights in U.S. (mean/median)||20/6||42/20|
|% Staying in Hotel/Motel||85%||71%|
|Number of Destinations Visited||1.6||1.9|
SOURCE: NTTO, ITA, U.S. Dept. of Commerce (June 2014)
Top U.S. States/Territories Visited by Indian Travelers
(2008 vs. 2013)
|Visited||(%)||(%)||Percentage Pt. Change|
|New York||31%||31%||0 percentage points|
|California||30%||26%||-4 percentage points|
|New Jersey||17%||12%||-5 percentage points|
|Texas||13%||11%||-2 percentage points|
|Illinois||12%||9%||-3 percentage points|
|Florida||10%||8%||-2 percentage points|
|Nevada||7%||7%||0 percentage points|
|Massachusetts||7%||7%||0 percentage points|
|Pennsylvania||6%||6%||0 percentage points|
|Georgia||6%||5%||-1 percentage points|
SOURCE: NTTO, ITA, U.S. Dept. of Commerce (June 2014)
Top U.S. Cities Visited by Indian Travelers
(2008 vs. 2013)
|(%)||(%)||Percentage Pt. Change|
|NYC||28%||28%||0 percentage points|
|Los Angeles||12%||10%||-2 percentage points|
|Chicago||12%||9%||-3 percentage points|
|San Francisco||14%||9%||-5 percentage points|
|Washington, D.C.||10%||8%||-2 percentage points|
|Las Vegas||7%||7%||0 percentage points|
|Boston||6%||6%||0 percentage points|
|San Jose||6%||6%||0 percentage points|
|Houston||6%||5%||-1 percentage points|
|Buffalo||4%||5%||-1 percentage points|
|Atlanta||6%||4%||-2 percentage points|
SOURCE: NTTO, ITA, U.S. Dept. of Commerce (June 2014)
Most likely, as the tables above suggest, they’ll be arriving at all-too-familiar gateways and will not be likely to visit second- and third-tier destinations or attractions, unless the latter are part of a pre-formed package
TRENDS FROM INDIA: From the presentations at the webinar and from Inbound’s follow-up inquiries, here are some things, places and sources to be aware of if one is contemplating a foray in the India market.
- Watch for an increased traveler focus on leisure product—MICE, “Bollywood” and “Space Camp” (high-tech attractions and destinations) travel.
- Look for “Tier 2” cities to begin performing as the U.S. Dept. of Commerce promotes its ABC (American Business Corners) program. These cities, which “are teeming with commercial opportunities,” include: Madurai, Coimbatore, Kochi, Trivandrum, Mangalore, Vizag, Guwahati, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Surat and Indore.
- Still, the primary cities for product promotion will remain: New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore.
- The student market is a strong segment—there were almost 103,000 students from India in the U.S. in the 2013-14 school year, according to the International Institute for Education.
- For the latest news on the travel trade in India, check these sites on a regular basis: www.ttgasia.com, www.travelbizmonitor.com and www.eturbonews.com.
The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India are located at the following addresses:
The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi
Shanti Path, Chanakya Puri 110021
The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai
C-49, G-Block, Bandra Kurla Complex, Bandra East, Mumbai 400051
Phone: (22) 2672-4000
The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai
220 Anna Salai, Gemini Circle, 600006
The U.S. Consulate General in Kolkata
5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071
The U.S. Consulate General in Hyderabad
Paigah Palace, 1-8-323, Chiran Fort Lane, Begumpet, Secunderabad 500 003
Contacts for Further Information:
- Camille Richardson, principal commercial officer, U.S. Commercial Service, Mumbai— [email protected]
- Manoj Gursahani, president, Visit USA Committee India (also chairman of TravelMartIndia Pvt. Ltd. and co-founder of Travel Agents Federation of India)—[email protected]
- Visit USA Committee, India—www.vusa.in
- Sheema Vohra, managing director, Sartha Global Marketing, India (Brand USA’s in-country rep)—[email protected]
- Sunil Puri, executive director, Sartha Global Marketing, India—[email protected]
- Vidheesh Tyag, vice president, Sartha Global Marketing, India—[email protected]
- Ron Erdmann, senior analyst, National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO), International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce [email protected]
Finally, for those new to any market, work through a receptive operator. To find a receptive tour operator close to you, visit www.thetouroperator.com, and click on the RECEPTIVE FINDER link at the top of the screen.
UK Bytes–What’s New with People, Promotions, Places and Product in the UK
Tauck Expands Brand into the UK: The venerable upscale tour and cruise specialist Tauck, which is based in Connecticut, has produced its first North America brochure with prices listed in British pounds, as part of its move into the UK market. The 90-year-old company initially launched its European River Cruising and Tauck Collection brochures with pound sterling prices last year. Tauck has now followed up with the unveiling of its first US and Canada brochure in UK prices. Tauck has also opened a reservations center in London and hired a travel trade team.
Intrepid Travel has appointed Daniel Pawlyn to the newly-created role of head of business development as it looks to increase its presence in the trade. Pawlyn, who has been at the adventure tour operator for 10 years, was most recently in the head of new business.
SuperBreak has appointed Sue Jarvis as its new finance director. She will oversee a team of 10 at its offices in York where she will be responsible for the operator’s finance function. She joins having spent a year at Barrhead Travel, where she was commercial finance director, having previously spent 11 years at Hays Travel where she held a number of roles including group financial controller and director of subsidiaries.
NAJ’s RTO 2015 RTO Summit West and Active America China Summit Sell Out Early
The first two events on the NAJ Group’s conference and event calendar for 2015 have completely sold out, reports NAJ Group founder and CEO Jake Steinman. “The strong economy, the continued growth of the Receptive Tour Operator (RTO) as an efficient channel of distribution, and the hot China outbound market has resulted in sellout registration for both the RTO Summit and Active America China earlier than ever in the history of either event,” said Steinman, noting, “We believe small is the new big; that is, by rigorously adhering to a buyer/seller ratio of no more than 1 buyer to 1.8 sellers, we are trying to create an intimate event where more relationships will be built that will result in increased business for everyone.”
NAJ Group Conference and Event Calendar-2015
|Conference/Event||Date and Location||For More Information|
|RTO Summit West†||Feb. 25-26||www.rtosummit.com|
|Marina del Rey, California|
|Active America-China Summit†||April 7-9||www.activeamericachina.net|
|The Bellagio, Las Vegas|
|RTO Summit East||May 6-7||www.rtosummit.com|
|Wyndham New Yorker, NYC|
|Affinia Manhattan, NYC|
|eTourism Summit||Oct. 22-23||www.etourismsummit.com|
|RTO Summit Orlando||Nov. 16-17||www.rtosummit.com|
|Wyndham Grand Orlando|
† Sold Out
* New Event