In this Issue:
Swedish Firm Approved to Acquire Kuoni is Bidding for Hotelbeds
While shareholders of Zurich-based Kuoni have not yet formally approved the nearly $1.4 billion merger offer for the company by the Swedish private equity firm EQT—it is regarded in the industry as a fait accompli—sources in the European travel trade are continuing to stoke the speculation that the new owners will acquire TUI’s bedbank-travel wholesaler, Hotelbeds.com, which has been shopped around by TUI for several months—TUI has been taking its time, using it to dole out releases about the unit’s healthy financial condition and outlook. In acquiring Kuoni, EQT is acquiring its bedbank component, GTA. GTA and Hotelbeds are two of the world’s largest.
According to a report in the Sunday Times, insiders said bankers had been waiting to see the outcome of the bidding war for Kuoni before starting their auction. EQT’s swoop on Kuoni has put it at the front of the queue to buy the TUI division, bankers said.
EQT, known in the UK for owning catering company SSP, agreed to terms with Kuoni after fighting off rivals Permira and Cinven. If the deal is signed, the 110-year old company will be delisted from the Zurich stock exchange.
According to FVW, Germany’s leading travel trade magazine, Hotelbeds is likely to be worth at least €1 billion ($1.3 billion). However, TUI will invite bids from other companies in the hope of driving up the price, the newspaper reported insiders as saying.
The publication has suggested that TUI is “tipping” EQT about the availability of its Hotelbeds unit, explaining: “A takeover of Hotelbeds by EQT would thus enable the merger of the world’s two largest B2B accommodation suppliers to create a new global giant to provide hotel and other accommodation to tour operators, travel agents, online portals and other customers.”
Should such a conflation take place, tour and travel industry observers might never know much about what it does publicly, because EQT will take the business private, with no listing on any exchange. Such an environment would, given the way it develops the properties it acquires, suit EQT well. The privacy would allow it to make long-term investments and operational plans in sync with its other holdings—which is not that easy to do when a company is overseen by shareholders interested in publicly announced quarterly dividends and the value of their investment portfolios.
The Power of TripAdvisor to be Revealed at Next Week’s RTO Summit
At the upcoming Feb. 17th Digital Day—it is part of NAJ’s two-day RTO Summit West at the Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey, California—a full-day digital immersion program targeting traditional international sales professionals, Andrew Wiens, international destination marketing sales manager, for TripAdvisor, will discuss why his company is more than just a review site. TripAdvisor has data-driven options that can help international inbound travel marketers isolate targeted source countries for tactical advertising programs that are affordable for second- and third-tier destinations. While the two-day RTO Summit is sold-out, there is still space available for those who wish to attend Digital Day. For more information, visit: http://www.rtosummit.com/rto-summit-west/rto-summit-west-supplier-fees-registration-policy/
Top 10 Bucket List items for UK Honeymooners—Who Spend an Average of $8500 per Couple
Just released last week in London, The Kuoni Worldwide Trends Report 2016 offers some interesting insights for travel sellers from the USA—it remains the number six overseas market for Kuoni’s upscale products—especially those interested in tapping into the operator’s lucrative UK honeymoon market. We’ve taken the key points from the Trends Report section on honeymoons and highlighted them here.
Most important is what the Kuoni report has to say about the honeymoon market overall: “Over the past five years, we’ve seen the number of honeymoons with an exploration, adventure element grow at twice the pace of a stay-put beach honeymoon. Couples want to use the opportunity of a honeymoon to create the holiday of a lifetime and ensure they get the immersive experience they are after.”
Underscoring the upscale signature to the company’s brand is its partnership with the upscale, nationwide John Lewis department store brand. The retailer is managed by a trust on behalf of its employees (“partners”), who are—they are, to say the very least, encouraged to travel—given very generous holidays. For instance, upon completing 25 years of service for the company, they are given a paid six-month break, known as “Long Leave.”
Features of the UK Honeymoon Market—Kuoni Style
|Kuoni Honeymoon Market Feature||Answer|
|Percentage of all Kuoni bookings that comprise the honeymoon market||22%|
|Average spend on a Kuoni honeymoon||£2951 ($4,280) per person|
|Most popular month to book a Kuoni honeymoon||January|
|Percentage of bookings made by honeymooners at Kuonis John Lewis Oxford Street location||42%|
|Average duration of a honeymoon booking||13 days|
|Majority of honeymooners make their booking this far out||10 months|
|Number of experts Kuoni has on hand to offer advice on booking LGBT holidays, including same-sex honeymoons.||10|
| **Through Kuoni, customers can add a honeymoon or holiday to a John Lewis gift list. In 2015, 11.6 percent of the companys honeymoon bookers did so.|
|Source: Kuoni Worldwide Trends Report 2016|
Kuoni UK’s Top 20 Honeymoon Destinations 2016
- Indonesia (Bali)
- Sri Lanka
- St Lucia
- South Africa
And a Helicopter Flight over the Grand Canyon, too: Increasingly, Kuoni said it is seeing “wish list” experiences driving demand for travel, particularly honeymoons. According to a YouGov poll commissioned by Kuoni last month, more than 60 per cent of British adults surveyed say that they would be willing to pay more for a wish list experience in comparison to a typical holiday. The wish list from the survey includes just one experience in the USA (See No. 3).
- 1 Travel on the Venice-Simplon Orient Express
- Diving in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef
- Helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon
- See the Great Pyramids of Egypt
- Walk the Great Wall of China
- Go whale watching
- Dive with turtles in the Maldives
- See Orangutans in Borneo
- Trek the Inca Trail in Peru
- See gorillas in Rwanda
Source: YouGov poll of over 2000 adults, January 2016
What’s New in International Air Service to USA
|Aer Lingus||Dublin, Ireland||Hartford, CT||9/28/2016||Boeing 757; one daily round-trip|
|Aer Lingus||Dublin, Ireland||Los Angeles, CA||5/4/2016||A330-200; 5 flights a week|
|Aer Lingus||Dublin, Ireland||Newark Liberty, NJ||9/1/2016||A330; one daily round-trip|
|Air China||Beijing, China||Newark Liberty, NJ||Now||Boeing 777-300ER; 4 times weekly (adds to twice-daily Beijing-New York JFK)|
|Alaska Airlines||Los Cabos, Mexico||Orange County, CA||Now||Boeing 737; nonstop, year-round service; 4 times a week|
|Alaska Airlines||Puerto Vallarta, Mexico||Orange County, CA||Now||Boeing 737; nonstop, year-round service; 3 times a week|
|American Airlines||Merida, Mexico||Dallas, TX||3/3/2016||A319; 5 times a week; subject to government approval|
|Delta Air Lines||Munich, Germany||Detroit, MI||5/26/2016||Boeing 767-400ER; 6 times weekly|
|Delta Air Lines||Rome, Italy||Minneapolis, MN||5/26/2016||Boeing 767-300ER; daily|
|Lufthansa||Frankfurt, Germany||San Jose, CA||4/29/2016||A340-300; 5 round-trips a week|
|Lufthansa||Munich, Germany||Denver, CO||5/11//2016||A330-300; 5 round-trips a week|
|United Airlines||Auckland, New Zealand||San Francisco, CA||7/1/2016||Boeing 787-8; 2 times a week; on 10/28/2016, switches to daily service with Boeing 787-9; subject to government approval|
|United Airlines||Tel Aviv, Israel||San Francisco, CA||3/30/2016||Boeing 787-9; nonstop 3 times a week; subject to government approval|
A Note: Germany’s Eurowings will postpone the start of its new flights to Boston and Las Vegas from May until June while it works to stabilize its long-haul schedule following flight delays in recent months for operational reasons. Its new flight to Miami will start in May as planned. Eurowings has suffered from only having two A330s for long-haul routes but the fleet will expand with a third A330 in April and a fourth one in May.
Will China’s New Blacklist—based on Uncouth Behavior—Disrupt Visit USA Traffic?
Spurred on by its member airlines, and announced at the beginning of the month, just before this week’s Chinese New Year and Spring Festival holidays, the China Air Transport Association (CATA) has promulgated new regulations on passenger misconduct which stipulate that that passengers who threaten or assault airport staff and cabin crew will be blacklisted.
Just so there is no misunderstanding as to what comprises behavior that makes an air traveler eligible for the Blacklist, CATA listed 10 specific forms of misconduct that qualify one for the list. They are:
- Blocking, forcibly occupying or attacking ticket counters, security lines or gates;
- Brawling or picking quarrels at the airport or inside an aircraft;
- Physically attacking or threatening to attack civil aviation staff;
- Violating passenger cabin safety rules, refusing to obey orders from the flight crew;
- Forcibly attacking the cockpit, opening emergency doors without permission;
- Forcibly boarding or intercepting an aircraft;
- Intentionally damaging airport or aircraft equipment;
- Creating and/or intentionally distributing fake terrorist information;
- Entering ramp areas, runways or taxiways; and
- Preventing civil aviation staff from doing their jobs, inciting others to do the same and anything else that disturbs aviation order orcreatesan extremely negative social influence. (This is a blanket category which allows authorities to punish virtually any behavior they see as undesirable.)
In making its announcement on the creation of the Blacklist, CATA said it will record personal information of passengers concerned and share it with airline companies and the TravelSky Holding Co., a state-owned service provider of aviation information that operates China’s national electronic travel distribution system. CATA will keep information on misbehaving air travelers for a year but it didn’t specify what punishments await those who end up on the list. Perhaps those on the official Blacklist will be punished, in effect, through the public shame of having their actions detailed online. It is also possible that they can be banned from air travel.
New and Interesting Product
Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines has launched a new air tour – Native Explorer Tour with Legacy – that combines both a flight-seeing experience above the West Rim and an opportunity to explore the area’s cultural riches. Departing from Grand Canyon West airport on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, the tour offers in-flight narration in 16 languages. A second leg of the journey is by motorcoach, with stops that include the Hualapai Ranch for a Wild West show and Eagle Point for more West Rim views. Tour duration is at the guest’s discretion; prices start at $140 per adult and $120 for children. Contact: www.grandcanyonairlines.com/tours/native-explorer-tour-with-legacy
Sonoma Valley, California brings the concept of sustainability to life with a new product—the Glen Ellen Green Tour, which is a day-long exploration of Quarryhill Botanical Gardens, Jack London State Historic Park and Benziger Family Wineries. The day starts with a docent-led tour of the garden, followed by a tour and lunch at the park. The day winds up with a tour of Benziger’s biodynamic vineyards, fermentation facility, crush pad and barrel caves—with a special tasting of their award-winning wines. Reservations must be made at least two weeks in advance. The cost is $59 per person (limit 10 people). Contact: www.jacklondonpark.com
New among the ranks of whale-watching opportunities is Oceanside Adventures, with a 50-foot, one-level catamaran in Oceanside Harbor that was specifically built for whale watching and marine life excursions. Docked by the historic Harbor Lighthouse, the boat is manned by American Cetacean Society-certified naturalists and offers two-hour trips along the Southern California coastline on a daily basis, year-round. Introductory rates are available through 2015; regular rates are Adults $45; Seniors 55+ and Military, $39; Children up to 12 years, $34; Children 2 and under, $10. Contact: www.oceansidewhalewatching.com
You might not have achieved your own personal Olympic dream, but in British Columbia, the Richmond Olympic Experience will give you a chance to feel the rush of a ski jump, a raging white-water kayak course and the speed of an Olympic bobsleigh track, among other hands-on sporting simulations. Opening Nov. 28, this new attraction at the Richmond Olympic Oval is a highly interactive visitor experience that is also North America’s first and only official member of the Olympic Museums Network. Day passes are $13 for seniors 60+; $17 for adults 19-59; $13 for youth 13-18; $11 for child 6-12; free (under 6). Group rates are available. Contact: www.therox.ca
Just opened in in San Clemente are the Outlets at San Clemente, a new Spanish village-like shopping center that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Among the 70 retailers are Calvin Klein, Cole Haan, GUESS, H&M, Levi’s, Nike, Under Armour and more. VIP perks abound: loyalty program with exclusive lounge, valet parking, complimentary Wi-Fi, baggage check and stroller or wheelchair rentals. Contact: www.outletsatsanclemente.com
While the clapper rail may be an elusive entry on your lifetime birding list, you can still catch a glimpse of 20 African birds and other exotic avians, such as Demoiselle Cranes (who recently hatched a chick) and Turacos, at Safari West in Santa Rosa, California. The park’s new Treetop Aviary features a walk-around ramp and an elevated viewing deck to gaze at their newest residents. Pricing depends on the day of the week and month; starting prices for adults (13-61) are $83; seniors (62+), $80; children (3-12), $45. Group rates are available. Contact: www.safariwest.com
New Insights into the Growing Mexico-USA Air Route Market
Driven by a growing “travel ready” middle class, a relatively stable economy since the wake of the 2008-09 recession, the entry into market of one of the most successful budget carriers in the world, and the largest VFR market of any international source market (according to the most recent reliable estimates, Mexican Americans make up about 11 percent of the United States’ population, with nearly 35 million U.S. residents identified as being of full or partial Mexican ancestry), Mexico is on track to nearly double the number of visitors it sends to the United States since 2010.
According to the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO), 13.47 million visitors from Mexico came to the U.S. in 2010. NTTO has forecast that 21.2 visitors from Mexico will come to the USA in 2020—a 57 percent increase. The year, 2010, is also the year that Mexicana Airlines went bankrupt and ceased operations. Volaris, which had been established as a low-cost domestic carrier in 2005, took over several slots at Mexico City’s airport that had been owned by Mexicana and its subsidiaries. Volaris now flies to more than 20 international destinations, with almost all of them in the USA.
One major consequence of the expansion of Volaris has been the overall increase of air traffic from Mexico into the United States, with low fares in some cases rivaling those charged by buses serving the same routes. And traffic is expected to increase even further once a pending Air Transport Agreement between the U.S. and Mexico is ratified by the United States (Mexican officials approved it in December.)
It should be noted that the table below does not include the lesser traveled routes used by Volaris, which also flies from its locations in Mexico to U.S. cities such as Oakland, Fresno, Sacramento, Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale and San Antonio.
Top International Routes And Passengers Carried
|Route & Rank||Number of Passengers Carried on Route|
|1. Mexico City-Los Angeles||903 283|
|2. Guadalajara-Los Angeles||789,443|
|3. Mexico City-Miami||768,682|
|4. Mexico City-Houston||751,453|
|8. Mexico City-NYC||669,193|
|9. Mexico City-Bogotá, Colombia||661,166|
|12. Mexico City-Madrid||596,163|
|16. Mexico City-DFW||524,166|
|17. Mexico City-Chicago||501,261|
|18. Mexico City-Panama||428,471|
|19. Mexico City-Paris||426,363|
|20. Mexico City-Atlanta||415,183|
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Izabella Moura has moved to Azul Viagens, the vacation unit of Azul airlines. She is the new executive sales director for Belo Horizonte. Moura began her career with Trip Linhas Aereas. After its merger with Azul, she continued as a sales executive in the company. Last year, she was chosen by the trade publication Panrotas as best national portal sales promoter (aviation category) in her region.
Jake Buganski has stepped down as executive director of Visit South Jersey to take on the job of president of Corning & Southern Finger Lakes (Steuben County CVB) in New York. Buganski was with Visit South Jersey for more than 10 years, and served as executive director for nearly seven. The tourism agency was previously known as the South Jersey Tourism Corp. before 2014.
Giles Hawke is joining Cosmos Tours as its chief executive. Hawke, who recently announced his departure from MSC Cruises, will join the company on May 1. Hawke’s CV also includes tenures in management positions at Carnival UK and TUI Group.
Regina Stivers has been appointed deputy secretary of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, Secretary Don Parkinson has announced. Stivers is the wife of Kentucky Senate president Robert Stivers. The job is the de facto position of state tourism director. Stivers had previously served as the Central Kentucky field director for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell since 2011. She held a similar position in Eastern Kentucky for former U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning from 2008-2010.
Sauzier Guillaume has been named the new CEO of Aliso Voyages, which is now a part of the Maritime Corse Méditerranée (MCM) holding company. His appointment follows the departure of Jean Ghibaudo. Guillaume combines his new responsibilities with his position as sales and marketing director of Maritima Ferries, which has become a part of MCM. Guillaume has previously served as sales and marketing director of Europcar France and CEO Mutant Assurances