ITB Photo Contest Entries are Due Today
The deadline for first “Spirit of ITB” photo contest is upon us—5 PM on Wednesday, March 16.You can submit photos of your appointments with tour operators, networking at evening functions offsite-anything that captures the spirit of the show. Just send us those photos and win! The Top 3 selected by our judges will be awarded $600 in total prizes (First Prize-$300 American Express gift certificate; Second Prize-$200 American Express gift certificate; and Third Prize-$100 American Express give certificate) and will be featured in the Inbound Report.
When will the winners be revealed? Finalists will be announced on March 23rd in the Inbound Report. Reader comments will be invited in order to help select the winners, who will be announced on March 30th in the Inbound Report. (Winners will be notified beforehand.)
Where should you send the photos?
E-mail the photos, individually, to: [email protected]
A Photo Sampler from ITB—So Far
While we await and process photo contest entries, we thought we would share with you a sampler of earlier photos that found their way to the Inbound Report.
This is what Cathy Keefe, US Travel’s media relations manager (and thousands of other crammed together) saw as they waited to enter the main exhibit area at the Berlin ExpoCenter on the first day of ITB. New technology this year? More people to process delegates? “Nope,” posted Cathy on Facebook. “Just the same four people beeping in 10,000 exhibitors” through the Fast Lane.
Showing how to partner in the booth are: Joe Tropia, director, national sale and marketing, Blue Man Productions; Dave Falsetti, senior sales manager at Big Bus Tours New York; Gisel Vidals, head of national trade sales USA/head of sales and marketing New York City Big Bus Tours; Liz Gilbert, national director-travel industry sales, Entertainment Cruises; Sheelagh Wylie, head of trade sales, Midway Attractions, North America, Merlin Entertainments; and Jennifer Edwards, trade sales manager, Midway Attractions North America at Merlin Entertainments. Merlin recently announced that it had invested more than $34 million for a 15 percent share in Big Bus Tours.
Making an individual pitch at the booth is Dave Falsetti, senior sales manager at Big Bus Tours New York
At the Georgia booth as the event opened are (left-to-right): Mindy Shea, director of international sales, Visit Savannah; Tracy Vaughan, director of international accounts, Georgia Tourism; Dennis Kemp, regional sales manager, Georgia Aquarium; Peter Hannaford, UK representative, Georgia Tourism; Brandon Barnes, director of international sales, Atlanta CVB; and Anja Hoebler, Germany representative, Georgia Tourism.
Robotics were a big part of ITB this year. Here, we see Toshiba’s latest generation of its Chihira robot at the show. It has been programmed to respond to questions in four languages, including German. One observer said the robot was “clearly on this side of the uncanny valley.”
Meanwhile, the 57-centimeter tall Mario, who is the youngest employee at the Ghent Marriott Hotel in Belgium, was featured during ITB’s Hospitality Day. Mario speaks 19 languages.
The room was quiet and serious, almost hushed, when Hubertus Knabe, a German historian and the scientific director of the Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial, a museum and memorial in a notorious former Stasi torture prison in Berlin, made his presentation.
David Ruetz, head of ITB, “celebrates” the fifth anniversary of the ITB Buyers Circle, by doing an internship at the Circle lounge’s bar.
Though there were several hundred people at the ITB Speed Networking session at this point, the crowd seems engulfed by the huge, curtained-off portion of an exhibit hall room.
If you were an ITB hipster, you just might have received an invitation for the closing party in Berlin put on by Timo Kohlenberg, president and CEO of America Unlimited, which is based in Hannover, Germany. Timo was pleased, it seems, posting this on Facebook: “Thanks to everyone attending our ITB Party. We loved it!”
At ITB: Get Ready for Robots To Invade Tourism
ITB in Berlin last week was the venue for release of a fishy survey suggesting that the tour and travel industry should prepare for the age of robots delivering more services. Overall, the Travelzoo survey of 6,000 travelers was an obvious play to garner more publicity at ITB that worked on us, but it did find a surprisingly high level of acceptance of robots, although there were regional differences and a more accepting attitude for certain tasks. Highlighted points drawn from the study include the following:
—Overall 80 percent of respondents globally expected robots to play a big part in their lives before 2020, with three quarters believing they will make their lives significantly better.
—Among British respondents, 50 percent said they found them frightening, and almost two thirds expressed concern about handing over day-to-day travel responsibilities to machines.
—British consumers expressed a preference for being greeted by a human receptionist in a hotel, with 86 percent preferring a human over a robot in this role. However, if the robot receptionist were able to handle questions more accurately and process more information with 52 percent saying they would choose a robot over a human.
–Nearly three quarters of UK respondents also believe robots have better memories than humans, can process data faster and are better at learning multiple languages. (What does that tell you about the other 25 percent?)
—British respondents were the most concerned about robots and the subtle understanding of language.
Just over three quarters (78 percent) of respondents doubted a robot’s ability to understand informal language such as slang, idiomatic phrases, irony and humor. (Sometimes comedians have the same problem).
—UK respondents clearly want a robot to look like a robot, and not too lifelike. This ensures clear separation between robots and real people: Nearly 6 out of 10 UK respondents (59 percent) would prefer a robot to look like a machine, and not have human qualities. (My induce an outcry about a new form of R2D2-like profiling)
—In contrast, over three quarters (76 percent) of Chinese respondents would rather the robot look like a human. (So they can be inconspicuously taken on shopping excursions)
—UK travelers seem fairly happy with robots being used within the travel industry, as long as a human is accompanying them. They don’t want robots to replace human contact:
—61 percent of UK travelers would be comfortable with robots being used in the travel industry.
—Travelers from Germany (63 percent) and France (53 percent) are the least comfortable with robots (Too stiff, perhaps?)
—Travelers from China (92 percent) came out as the most comfortable with robots being used in travel, followed by Brazil (73 percent) and the USA (71 percent)
—50 percent of UK respondents would accept the use of a robot as a hotel receptionist if it was accompanied by a human, and almost one third (31 percent) would accept the robot even if it was unaccompanied. (What about robots as a concierge?)
—Speaking to a real person when booking a holiday is important to UK travelers—they are the second-least likely to agree that they would welcome the use of a robot when taking holiday bookings over the phone (49 percent).
—Germans were the least in favor of booking via a robot, with 56 percent disliking the idea. (You mean other nationalities were comfortable giving the robot their credit card?)
—One third of UK respondents wouldn’t accept the use of a robot as a waiter under any circumstance—–British respondents were the most averse to robots being used in nurseries or kids’ clubs in resorts, with 55 percent saying they wouldn’t accept this.
Where the Billionaires Are—Mostly from Our Top Source Markets, with China No. 1
The Hurun Global Rich List 2016 ranked a total of 2,188 billionaires from 68 countries—up 99 from last year, in another record-breaking year for the world’s billionaires. While groupies might just look at the list to see who’s in first place, etc. the tour and travel industry should take note of the implications of where they’re from (the top 20 nations in terms of number of billionaires is comprised mostly of key source markets for inbound travel to the U.S.) and how this correlates to potential travel spend in the future. For instance:
—China is Number 1. The number of Chinese billionaires (568) surpassed the number of USA billionaires (535) for the first time.
—The combined net worth of the Chinese billionaires is $1.4 trillion, similar to the GDP of Australia.
—Led by Beijing, 5 Chinese cities make the top 10 cities for super wealth creators.
—Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hangzhou are home to 100, 64, 50, 46 and 32 billionaires respectively. China is the number 1 in the world in terms of generating self-made billionaires akin to “rags to riches.”
—Wang Jianlin, 61, of Wanda was the richest Chinese with $26billion, just ahead of Li Ka-shing, 87. Jack Ma, 51, of Alibaba was fourth with $21billion.
—Chinese stock exchanges attracted more billionaires than U.S exchanges—for the fourth year running.
Leading Countries for Billionaires
|Country & Rank||Number of Billionaires||Change in Number 2015-2016|
|1. Greater China||568||90|
|15. South Korea||31||-2|
Leading Cities for Billionaires
|City & Rank||Number of Billionaires||Change in Number 2015-2016|
|2. New York||95||4|
|4. Hong Kong||64||-7|
|11. San Francisco||28||2|
|16. Sao Paulo||24||-6|
|19. Los Angeles||21||-1|
|20. New Delhi||20||3|
Macy’s Executive to Explain Use of Online Tools to Market Internationally at RTO Summit East
Keri Hanson, national director of tourism and development for Macy’s, one of the USA’s top retail brands and overall brands, will close out the Digital Day program—the first of the two-day RTO Summit East May 2-3 at the Wyndham New Yorker in Manhattan—with a case study presentation: How To Use Online Tools to Market internationally. Digital Day is designed to introduce new tools and techniques to international tour and travel marketers. Hansen, whose career includes tenures as social media and marketing manager for Brand USA and as manager of national council relations for the U.S. Travel Association, will share her experiences with some of the creative approaches she has used to brand Macy’s to international visitors both on a pre-and-post arrival basis. Her approaches bear some regard, as, in 2015, Macy’s ranked No. 18 among Best Retail Brands by Brand Finance and No. 16 on the list of Top 50 Brands for Millennials by Harris Interactive.
Registration for Digital Day is included in the registration fee for the RTO Summit program. Individuals can also register separately for Digital Day. For more information, visit:
What are the Brits Worst at? The Answer & More UK Notes …
It turns out that Britons are the worst travel planners of all markets, according to a new Momondo survey. How ill-planned, then, is the British holiday. Considering the following points from the survey results and market accordingly:
—Almost one fifth of Britons never make budgeting decisions ahead of their holidays.
—Only half budget for the total amount they can spend both on the booking phase and during their holiday, the results of a new poll reveal.
—Just 14 percent make a budget for transport to and from the destination, only 10 percent decide on a budget for accommodation and 10 percent admit to selling some possessions to pay for a holiday.
—As many as 43 percent set money aside regularly to be spent on a holiday, while 14 percent pay in installments and 13 percent save up by making regular contributions to a fund shared with friends or family.
—Only 10 percent of 18-22 year-olds do not make a budget, compared to 30 percent of adults aged 56-65.
—18-22 year-olds come out as most responsible with 19 percent and 23 percent respectively taking an extra job or saving in a fund shared with friends and family, in order to afford their travels.
—More than a quarter of British travelers (27 percent) look to make savings on flights while 26 percent will save on accommodation, 14 percent on destination transfers and 24 percent on evenings out.
—A total of 20 percent of Britons questioned don’t worry about how expensive or inexpensive their holiday will be.
A Momondo spokesman said: “It’s surprising that so many Brits just don’t save up for their holidays. Globally however, Brits are far from the worst offenders. “The Germans, the Swiss and the Scandinavians lead the pack with a third of the population not budgeting for their holidays …
Overall, it seems many Brits aren’t strapped for cash as 29 percent don’t do anything special to be able to afford their holidays.”
Railbookers Taken over by Amtrak Tour Operator
Railbookers, a UK-based operator that designs customized rail holidays—they sell U.S. product—has been sold to rail and package tour specialist Yankee Leisure Group, which is based Beverly, Mass. As part of the deal, former Cosmos product and sales director Peter Traynor has been appointed as Railbookers’ new managing director. Yankee Leisure Group said it had been working with Railbookers to deliver its USA holidays since 2008.
“An existing relationship between staff in the UK and U.S., as well as a commercial partnership with significant history, made the acquisition last week a natural fit for the Yankee portfolio,” a company statement said. Yankee Leisure Group, which has been trading for 44 years, is also the national tour operator for Amtrak Vacations, which is the largest North American rail holiday brand.
The U.S. operator said it wanted to “take Railbookers to the next level and aim for similar successes achieved in the U.S. market.” The acquisition also effected the turnover of all existing business to Yankee Leisure Group, which will operate the company going forward.
BA Once Again Britain’s Top Superbrand
British Airways has been ranked as the most loved brand in Britain for the third year in a row.
The airline ran ahead of such “Über Brands” as Apple, John Lewis and Google in the annual “consumer superbrands” list produced by The Centre for Brand Analysis. Another travel brand, Virgin Atlantic, came in 17th position in the top 20 list. The report considered 1,600 brands before shortlisting a number to be put forward to 2,500 adults in the UK. The Top 20 follows.
- British Airways
- John Lewis
- Virgin Atlantic,
- Marks & Spencer
Stephen Cheliotis, chief executive of The Centre for Brand Analysis, told The Telegraph: “Conservatism is evident among the British public. “Consumers are continuing to seek out familiar brands with which they have an emotional connection.”
HODGE PODGE—Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Sanya Hamilton has been named head of sales at AlliedTPro in Las Vegas. She was promoted from her previous post as head of leisure groups. Hamilton joined AlliedTPro in 2008. Prior to that she worked for several U.S. receptive tour operators in senior sales positions.
In Brazil, Gustavo Hahn has returned to CVC to a position in which he will manage a team of seven product developers, all new hires, which will be exclusively focused on “Dreams and” Achievements” products. In 2008, during his first tenure at CVC, Hahn was one of those responsible for setting up routes in Europe alongside the current vice president of sales and marketing, Valter Patriani. He returns to CVC, leaving the Schultz tour operator company after two years. While there, he had served as a branch manager and, later, director of sales.
Stacey Cohen, a veteran of more than 25 years in the tour and travel industry, joined Travalco, a receptive tour operator in Hallandale Beach, Fla., as senior market manager six months ago. She joins the company after serving at AlliedTPro/Kuoni/AlliedTPro for nearly 15 years. She began her career in the industry in 1987 with the parent company of AlliedTPro, Allied Tours, as a senior group coordinator.
Alice Macandrew, the new communications chief at Thomas Cook, has started restructuring the operator’s PR function, prompting the departure of the UK head of PR Ian Benjafield and his deputy, Yasmina Cherquaoui. Macandrew, who joined Thomas Cook as group communications director last November, is creating three new senior communications roles reporting to her: a head of corporate communications responsible for both corporate and consumer PR, a group head of public affairs and a group head of internal communications. In 2011, Macandrew quit News Corporation, where she was communications chief and one of James Murdoch’s closest advisers. A year later she re-emerged in a similar role at sister company BSkyB. Thomas Cook is now recruiting for the three new PR leadership roles, as well as a senior PR manager and a PR executive.