After many years being represented by Weichmann Tourism Service, Teresa O’Neill, vice president, global sales, Travel Oregon, said that the state has switched its German market representation to Lieb, associates.
In the national section in Hall 9, Ofir Cohen, head of groups and one of the five founders of Tourico, released the live version of the company’s automated group technology in which clusters of hotels in a requested area are able to bid on group business in a reverse auction format in which the lowest price wins.
“The sky is falling!” On ITB’s third day, we found the American Ring’s executive team–Stefan Frank, Margaret Dietermann and Sam Zonni—holding meetings at a table that was moved outside their booth. Evidently, a portion of the booth’s ceiling had collapsed right onto Ms. Dietermann’s arm the day before and they weren’t taking any chances.
So much for the wall between editorial and advertising. Several non-travel European magazines were trolling the halls of ITB brazenly offering some form of guaranteed editorial with a paid ad purchase. One Texas DMO delegate reported that he was surprised—and tempted–by a German food and wine magazine rep who offered him a package that consisted of a $5,000 ad in one issue to be followed by three pages of editorial in a later issue.
Florida beach destinations may be most vulnerable to the exchange rate vagaries as there are so many beach destinations options in Europe as well as Mexico and the Caribbean. However, beach destinations in Florida, which have benefited from additional room tax revenues from an unexpected surge in domestic tourism from the Northeast and Midwest due to another Polar Vortex this winter, will be less affected overall. As proof. Tamara Pigott, CEO of Ft. Myers Sanibel CVB, reported that in January 2015 her destination’s bed tax was up 37 percent over the previous year and 2014 collections were 16 percent greater than those in January 2013.
Alberto Cervera, head of Tui’s Destination Services division, which services groups worldwide for Hotelbeds from their office based in Cancun, Mexico, told INBOUND that company had a strong ITB show with an elevated interest in destination activities.
Isabel Hill, a Director, National Travel and Tourism Office, told us that, since the U.S. and China announced that period of validity for tourist visas would be extended to 10 years, visa interview requests have increased 61 percent. So far, 250,000 more visas have been issued than at this time last year.
Malcolm Smith, vice president of business development and general manager of IPW, U.S. Travel Association, reported that buyer counts for the upcoming 2015 IPW in Orlando had already exceeded those for last year and 300 more booths were sold this year than in 2010, when IPW was last held in Orlando.
And finally: Who Are Those Waxed Men? Every year, the two men pictured here can be found roaming the ITB floor showing elaborately designed facial hair and INBOUND’s publisher has always wanted to know their backstory. Evidently, they represent a club that keeps alive a tradition from the 18th Century in which each regiment in the Prussian army sculpts their beards and mustache into a unique design—sort of a crest made of hair
In A Nutshell:
- Both wholesalers and receptives were more open new ideas, especially in a year external forces-such as the exchange rate–that could drastically affect sales of status quo product.
- To mitigate the exchange rate issue, buyers would be asking suppliers for lower rates to compensate and lower program costs by using 3-star instead of 4-star accommodations, fewer days in large cities and more in smaller less expensive destinations, less expensive restaurants and by making the program less all-inclusive by increasing free time.
- DMO’s would be bracing their stakeholders to expect fewer arrivals from Europe
- Crafty receptive operators were finding new ways to diversify
- More momentum and interest in second- and third-tier destinations from all buyers segments
- We expect arrivals from most Eurozone destinations to decrease in 2015 between 2-4 per cent. Meanwhile, Spain and Italy may experience declines of 10-12 per cent. UK will be less affected.