Major Bus Operator in Florida Files for Chapter 11
Alltour America, a well-known ground transport operation based in Orlando and operated by Claudio Cipeda, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company, which has been popular with Brazilian visitors to Central and South Florida, is facing several lawsuits over allegedly unpaid bills.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, the largest sum involved is $500,000. This is the amount that VHS leasing seeks in a lawsuit filed against Alltour in federal court.
Also, Marriott is suing the company for $22,000; Rosen Hotels has a final judgment for $2.1 million; and UCF Hotel Venture, affiliated with Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, is suing for $42,700.The
Cipeda, a well-known figure in Brazilian community in Florida, has been active in the tour and travel industry since at least the 1990s. Public information websites list him as a president or managing member of seven different entities, all but one—The Lord Hotel, which we could not locate on a map—having to do with transportation.
Alltours’ buses are a familiar sight at hotels and event venues throughout much of Central and South Florida (see company service map below).
The company reported $7 million in gross revenue for 2014, and $6 million in 2015, but that has been only $2.5 million in 2016, according to the bankruptcy petition. The Sentinel reported that, when it tried to contact the company, a phone number for Alltour’s Orlando office, as listed on its website, was disconnected.
Is WTM Obsessed by Impact of Brexit?
As U.S. receptive tour operators, travel suppliers and DMOs return home following this week’s World Travel Market in London, they will be struggling to reconcile what they have experienced, one-on-one, with UK travel buyers versus what the torrent of mostly discouraging news told them about the condition of the outbound travel market from the UK as they arrived.
Until the June 23 “Brexit” referendum, in which Britons voted to leave the European Union (EU), the UK seemed headed for a record-breaking year in the number of visitors it would send to the USA. Then, following the Brexit vote and a further decline in the value of the British pound sterling vs. the U.S. dollar—it is down about 20 percent compared to its level at last year’s WTM—economists, tourism industry analysts and potential British visitors to the United States have been subject to a narrative with some wild ups and downs that have drained confidence In the UK market. From an array of sources, the Inbound Report presents some of the factors that shaped the business environment for this year’s WTM:
—Days before the event started, the results of a YouGov survey of 5,067 people showed that UK consumers are less confident about committing to overseas holidays than at any other time in the past three years. The Holiday Confidence Index (HCI), carried out on behalf of First Rate Exchange Services in partnership with the Institute of Travel & Tourism, blamed the Brexit vote and sharp falls in the value of the pound.
—Only 53 percent were planning to travel in the next 12 months, 2 percent fewer than last year.
—The number of people who said they weren’t planning to go abroad rose 2 percent over the past year to 28 percent.
—While a third of those questioned said they expected the UK economy to improve over the next year, which was a 14 percent increase since the pre-Brexit vote HCI survey last April, the Holiday Intention Index has dropped to 61, its lowest level since the survey started in 2013.
—There has also been a significant decline in the number of people planning trips to the Eurozone since spring and the pound sterling’s subsequent slide in value against the euro.
—In April 2016, when the last HCI report was published, 66 percent of people were planning trips to the Eurozone but the latest report found that only 63 percent were intending to travel there. The number of people planning trips to other European countries has remained constant at 7 percent.
—In addition to currency concerns, 65 percent of travelers said they were worried about terrorism in holiday resorts, although 54 percent said they were unlikely to alter their travel plans.
—Interestingly, there has been a rise in the number of holidaymakers planning to spend more, including on the cost of the holiday and in the amount they take with them.
At the same time … the UK Brexit vote has had “no impact” on bookings but recent terrorist attacks have “changed the industry,” said Thomas Cook UK managing director Chris Mottershead, who told the recent annual convention of ABTA: “Brexit has not had an impact on bookings at all. Bookings are strong for future seasons. We see greater demand for what we offer.” As for the falling value of the pound vs. the U.S. dollar, he said, “The impact of the exchange rate will be [felt] more down the road … But we’ve been here before with the euro—the weakness of the euro against the pound [in summer 2015] was more unusual. We can deal with it. ”
And then … Hays Travel reported trading ‘very well’ since the Brexit vote. Speaking at the recently convened Hays Independence Group (HIG) conference, managing director John Hays reported that both divisions of the Hays business had achieved growth despite “pricing pressures” placed on consumers. He told delegates that during the four months since Britain voted to leave the European Union on June 23, Hays Travel retail stores and Hays IG members had seen a “strong trend” towards all-inclusive bookings following a slump in the value of the pound.
Which USA Destination is a Clear-cut Global Favorite?
Through their searches and their bookings for the peak summer travel season of 2016—the third quarter of the year—travelers to and within North America once again have named New York City their favorite, according to Sojern’s Q3 2016 Global Travel Insights. Unlike other information gathering and sharing by other organizations, Sojern’s public reports do not load their tables and charts with aggregate numbers for sales volume, movements, arrivals or departures. Rather, they focus on trends as measured by common data points for global regions. In its third quarter edition of Global Travel Insights, Sojern analyzed travel behavior worldwide in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, and Asia-Pacific in order to understand travel intent for Q3 and beyond. The study relied on search and booking behavior data provided by major airlines, online travel agents (OTAs), meta-search and other travel service providers.
Aside from the not-so-surprising revelation that New York City is a global favorite as a destination, the Global Trends report also tells us that travelers in world regions that are key source markets for the USA are traveling solo more than ever, that lead times for preparing a trip a
What Were the Global Trends for the Quarter?
Top Ten Countries Searched and Booked
What Were the Quarterly Outbound Search Trends for North America?
What Were the Quarterly Outbound Search Trends for Latin America
What Were the Quarterly Outbound Search Trends from European Residents?
What Were the Quarterly Outbound Search Trends for Asia Pacific?
The fourth quarter of the year is traditionally one of the busiest times for the travel industry. In its “Look Forward” section, Sojern analyzes searches made by region for the month of December to understand how early planners are beginning to shape this holiday season, including: what destinations are European families searching for long-haul getaways; how much farther North Americans are traveling in December; and which days look to be the busiest for departures
Outbound Travel, Fourth Quarter, from Latin America
Outbound Travel, Fourth Quarter, from Latin America
Outbound Travel, Fourth Quarter, from Asia-Pacific
A Note on the Methodology: Sojern’s quarterly insights reports are based on the rigorous analysis of more than a billion traveler intent data points, obtained through Sojern’s partnerships with some of the world’s most renowned travel brands. Its analysis is based on airport level data which is then aggregated to countries and regions. All of the insights are based on very specific data sets as provided by Sojern’s data partners. Sojern’s data is rounded to the nearest whole number for readability and therefore not all charts and graphs will add up to 100 percent. Sojern never shares or distributes personally identifiable information such as names, emails, or addresses. The data provided is not a complete view of all global traveler information, as different data sources provide additional views of traveler behavior.
From Germany: Will Schadenfreude Keep Visit USA Traffic from Tanking?
For Operators, German Travel to Turkey, North Africa, Dropped 40-60 Percent in Past Year
Midst the dire tone of the news coming from the German travel trade—a tone made all the more woeful at last week’s annual convention of the German Travel Association (DRV) in Berlin—came the news from one of the nation’s largest tour operators that it was actually increasing capacity for the USA in 2017. Stefanie Berk, managing director Thomas Cook Central Europe & East announced that, in its long-haul program for next summer, Cook has expanded its Neckermann Reisen portfolio in the USA by a third to 664 hotels. Long-haul prices will be generally stable, she added, in a report that was issued on the occasion of the close of the business year ending Oct. 31st.
About the only positive note in Berk’s report, the development seemed to underscore what some receptive tour operators in the USA have suggested to the Inbound Report for much of 2016. That is, while business volume in German outbound travel is down—primarily because Germans are skittish about visiting destinations, such as Turkey and northern Africa, that have experienced terrorist attacks—it has not suffered nearly so much with the USA, which is considered a luxury destination. And as a luxury destination, its price point is not a key consideration when searching for, or booking, a long-holiday.
(Keep in mind that most in the industry expects arrivals to the U.S. for 2016 to drop vs. 2015. For Thomas Cook, 2016 has been a difficult year. Overall, it experienced a 4 percent drop in bookings, although customer numbers were up by 8 percent when excluding Turkey. The company said prices for Turkey will be 8 percent cheaper next summer.)
You can determine for yourself whether or not the price points for U.S. product in Neckermann’s online brochure qualify as luxury prices:
But, aside from the one high note regarding the USA, there was little to cheer delegates to DRV’s convention. Some highlights the event, as reported by the German travel trade publication, FVW, follow:
—German tour operators as a whole suffered their first revenue declines for years after dramatic sales declines for Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia outweighed growth for other destinations and travel products.
—Tour operators saw their combined revenues drop by 4 percent to €26.3 billion ($29.3 billion) in the tourism year ending October 31, which is about €1 billion ($1.14 billion) less than last year, according to figures released by DRV.
—Travel agency sales dropped by 2-3 percent to about €23 billion ($25.6 billion), with lower leisure travel sales and stable business travel sales at about €7.4 billion ($8.2 billion).
—The main reason for the market downturn—the first since 2009 in the aftermath of the global economic recession—is that package holiday bookings for Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia dropped by between 40 percent and 60 percent.
—DRV president Norbert Fiebig, who is also CEO of DER Touristik, said there was clearly “a switch in the travel flows of German holidaymakers from East to West” this year, citing GfK market research figures. Even so, strong growth for the Western Mediterranean, long-haul destinations and cruises “could not offset the declines for Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia”.
—On the positive side, Spain, and especially the Balearics and Canaries, saw strong growth this year on already very high volumes. In addition, Portugal, Greece and Bulgaria generated double-digit growth in travel agency bookings this summer.
—Germany and neighboring countries were also popular as consumers switched to self-drive destinations. However, most of these trips are self-organized with direct accommodation bookings rather than booked as tour operator packages.
Addressing some 650 conference participants, Fiebig urged the travel industry to pay attention to the increase in self-drive holidays to overland destinations (such as Germany, Austria and Italy). “The more demand for overland destinations increases, the more this business will be lost for tour operators and travel agents.”
Fiebig also wondered aloud: “Will the trend to overland destinations disappear next year or the trend to self-organized holidays also extend to simple air-based package holidays?” In response, he said, the German travel industry needed to promote its services better for this market segment, especially the security of a tour operator package holiday.
Under the circumstances, DRV did not make any overall forecasts for 2017. It noted that winter 2016/17 sales are so far behind last year’s level but said it is too early to make any forecasts for summer 2017 due to very low booking volumes.
Meanwhile, in Hannover… We posed the question “Do you believe that the USA/North America might benefit from the decline in visits by German travelers to Turkey and North Africa?” to Timo Kohlenberg, president and CEO of Hannover-based America Unlimited. “I do,” he responded, explaining, “Usually, the traveler to Turkey is not a long-haul client, but with the massive amount of people who were traveling to Turkey, I think there might be a few shifts.” As for his own business prospects for 2017, Kohlenberg, said that they were “very promising,” adding, “We are up around 10 percent, year-to-date, for 2017.”
Perhaps one reason for the success of America Unlimited is a result of what Kohlenberg has called “stunt marketing.” Last week, he unveiled the latest example of this sort of promotion with this 10-story banner on the side of a mixed-use, office-retail-residential high rise building in Hannover.
Just In Time Marketing to Tour Operators
First, the Just-In-Time Tour Operator Planning Cycle: Following are the schedules and deadlines that U.S. travel suppliers should be aware of should they plan on furnishing brochure and related material to U.S. domestic tour operators and selected international tour operators. TheTourOperatorLand website—it is operated by the NAJ Group, which also publishes the Inbound Report—has made this service available as a tool to help suppliers and U.S. DMOs market their product to operators. “Sending Itineraries” are recommended when operators are beginning.
Bain Capital Expected to Sell Major Tour Operator Next Month
Boston-based venture capital firm Bain Capital Private Equity is expected to complete the sale of its Apple Leisure Group, which includes Apple Vacations, one of the largest tour operators in the U.S., by Christmas. This is the report from the Latin American news portal, REPORTUR.
Based near Philadelphia, the Apple Leisure Group also includes the tour operator Travel Impressions (which sells and markets a wide range of U.S. product) as well as AMR Resorts, CheapCaribbean.com and several other unites.
When Apple Leisure Group, which some estimates have pegged as worth $1.5 billion, announced late last June that it was looking for a corporate suitor, a Reuters report suggested that there was interest in the company from Chinese investors, including the conglomerate HNA Group—it is headquartered in Haiku, China—which has been on an acquisition spree during the past year of travel-related properties.
It was in 2001 that Alejandro Zozaya, Apple Leisure Group’s CEO, founded the resort sales, marketing, and brand management company, AMResorts. A decade later, Zozaya helped create Apple Leisure Group by making tour operator, Apple Vacations, a sister company of AMResorts.
Bain Capital acquired a majority stake in Apple Leisure Group in late 2012, which then acquired online leisure wholesaler CheapCaribbean and B2B tour operator Travel Impressions from American Express, in 2013.
Since the announcement last June that Bain was pursuing the sale of Apple Leisure Group, there has been very little reported on the matter. Proposals are being screened by Credit Suisse, which is assisting Bain Capital with the process.
Based in Boston, Bain was co-founded in 1984 by Mitt Romney, a one-time governor of Massachusetts (2003-2007) and the Republican Party’s candidate for U.S. president in 2012. He left Bain Capital in 2002.
Looking for a Receptive Operator in the USA?
NAJ Launches 2017 Initiative to Help Receptive Operators Find New Clients
One of the trends discovered during the annual autumn Listening Tour conducted by Jake Steinman, founder and CEO of the NAJ Group—as well as during discussions at Salons held several weeks ago in Orlando and New York—was this: All of the receptive tour operators he met with met with were stepping up their efforts to find new business as they anticipate that 2017 and 2018 are likely to be challenging years for inbound tourism to the USA.
A part of, and aware of, this business environment, NAJ is launching an initiative designed to develop new business through three areas of action:
First—NAJ’s TourOperatorLand.com website will begin aggressively promoting its “ReceptiveFinder” function, which has the world’s only Receptive Tour Operator Directory—a service that that matches international buyers with receptive tour operators by the languages spoken in their offices, or by the destination they serve. TourOperatorLand.com has nearly 2,800 active buyers and 35.3 percent of these buyers have used the ReceptiveFinder tool to seek out receptive partners.
Second—Promotional Support: There will be editorial and banner ad support for the ReceptiveFinder that will appear in NAJ’s Inbound Report, TourOperatorLand magazine (distributed to all IPW delegates) and in ads in the IPW Daily.
Third—Marketing Support: A “Marketing Tips and Trends” section designed to help tour operators sell and market their products will be sent to NAJ’s database of 4,500 tour operators on a quarterly basis.
TourOperatorLand—by the Numbers
2,758: Number of Registered buyers on TourOperatorLand.com
1,560: Number of buyers from outside the U.S.
73: Number of countries represented by registered operators on TourOperatorLand.com
3: Rank of ReceptiveFinder among the most used functions of TourOperatorland
2,200: Number of searches on TourOperatorland in past 12 months for receptive tour operators
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Ashlee Ciora has been appointed senior director of tourism for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. Ciora, who joins L.A. Tourism from the Palm Springs CVB where she was vice president of travel industry sales, will be responsible for overseeing strategy and programming for half of L.A. Tourism’s international markets in coordination with Stephanie Nakasone, who will continue to oversee the other half. Ciora will report to Kathy Smits, vice president of tourism.
In Brazil, Flavio Correa is the new commercial manager Flytour Gapnet in Rio de Janeiro. He joins the company after ten years working for Advance (and later in Rextur Advance after the merger of the two; CVC is the majority owner of the company). Correa reports to regional manager Rubens Braga Jr.
In the UK, Ian Chambers has been promoted from his post as Monarch’s head of digital and marketing to the role of chief commercial officer. He replaces Adrian Tighe who left the company last month. Chambers joined Monarch in 2005 and, most recently, had responsibility for online marketing, the digital strategy and online sales across all group brands and products. Prior to joining Monarch, Chambers held digital and marketing positions at Epson, EasyJet and Go.
Patrice Caradec (left) CEO of Transat France, has left the tour operator. Following the official acquisition of Transat France and Tourgreece by the TUI Group, Tui terminated the functions of Caradec. A 25-year veteran of the tour and travel industry, he has been succeeded by Pascal de Izaguirre (right) who has also been named a director of the company. Izaguirre, who has been part of the Tui Group since 2012, has worked in senior-level positions for various travel and tourism companies. His career includes a tenure as executive vice president of Air France, Americas.
Also in France, Philippe Garcia has been commercial attaché, Teldar Travel, for the country’s southwest region. A B2B operation, Teldar is a global bedbank that also sells other travel product. Before joining Teldar Travel, Philippe Garcia spent 17 years at FRAM in Toulouse.
DER Touristik CEO Norbert Fiebig has been re-elected as president of the German Travel Association (DRV). Fiebig was first elected to the top spot of the organization in June 2014. He succeeded Jürgen Büchy who resigned from the post for personal reasons.