How to React to People at Trade Shows Trying to Sell you Ads?
Ugh. There is likely not a sales person for a U.S. supplier in the tour and travel industry nor a DMO who hasn’t dealt with the situation. It could be at IPW, it could be at World Travel Market, it could be at ITB or at any one of a number of international trade show at which it happens.
“It” is having a journalist, a publisher, a tour operator or, more likely, someone who has dual roles for an operator or a publication—online or otherwise—and has more than one business card (one for each role in which he or she is involved) showing up at your booth and, after an exchange of pleasantries and business cards, presenting you with a copy of the company’s latest brochure or magazine with a not-so-cleverly burnished request that you buy a page, or an ad, in the brochure or magazine.
“Wait a minute!” you think to yourself. “This is wrong. I am supposed to be selling them. What is wrong with this situation?”
Just What Do you do? The Answer: We’ll get to the answer following some background information and some preparatory techniques that follow. (Note: your PR person is probably familiar with the following, but the readers targeted here are the travel industry sales professionals who find themselves at a trade show without PR help.)
It’s a Different Playing Field, with Different Tactics: As explained in a presentation at NAJ’s recent RTO Summit in Orlando, Florida by Susan Wilson, president of Phoenix-based Susan Wilson Marketing and a public relations and promotions maven whose accomplishments are many, sales professionals who find themselves in such a predicament should look at the situation and consider it an opportunity, not as an annoying challenge.
Pinch-hitting for the PR professional who isn’t at the show makes you a more valuable asset, said Wilson, who went on to detail some of the basics of PR for sales professionals who are, of necessity, the PR person at the same time. Some of her do’s, don’ts, a bits of wisdom and best practices follow.
—Understand right from the start that there are new media channels of distribution.
—Not only are there new media, but they operate from different locations. They now work at a table in a Starbucks, on the side of the road or during their travel or commute to a shared office.
—With the new media, the nature of the messenger has changed: news distribution is now more streamlined, vertical and personal; trade shows have built-in news sharing platforms; and news is not always disseminated by a publication relations professional—in fact, sometimes it’s you.
— First off, review the dynamics of the upcoming show with your PR person or department beforehand. What do you know about the journalists who are coming to show vs. what you know about the operators. Do you want to make appointments with them? If so, let them know your booth number, as well as what to look for and where on the trade show floor.
—Remember that news outreach tools have changed. Use them. For instance, at IPW, TravMedia is the platform for distributing and reviewing the latest news releases and announcements; the service can deliver yours by region, if you want that done. If you can afford it, your company can hire a PR representative or firm to work the show for you. And don’t forget, if you are an attraction or hotel, those “Big Sister” DMOs who will promote your product.
—Here’s a sample of how one might prepare for an upcoming show by seeking to secure an appointment with a buyer:
—You’ll have to deal with bloggers. Twenty years ago, they didn’t exist. Now they’re major media messengers. Ask them their plans for the show. Do they include a feature on, or a visit to your destination? If you’re already working with the blogger or vlogger (video blogger), what will they accept–hosting, financial support? Talk about the matter of trust, especially with top influencers. Does the content they produce engender trust in the mind of the reader? Readers can detect “copy-and-paste” journalists who merely re-write press releases.
—What about the traditional travel editor? Twenty years ago, when print journalism still ruled, they were responsible for content. Not anymore, but rare as they are—especially outside of the USA—they still exist. If you are selling an attraction, a travel experience or a hotel, find out if your destination will be expected to help house and transport the journalist(s) or travel editors. What is the journalist looking for in meeting with you? Perhaps your destination has a standard media assistance form – Sonoma County Tourism in California has an excellent example of how partners can help in hosting, but be sure, as it might not be the rule in your destination that it should host a journalist you invited.
A final note on preparations: Whether it is via e-mail or in the form of hard copy, make sure your material is in Word format, not PDF. Word can be used right away. Converting material from a PDF takes longer.
The Dreaded Ask for Advertising Dollars—Yep, It is Going to Happen. You Need to Plan on it.
So, you’re talking business to a journalist, a publisher, an in-country rep, or an operator who just happens to mention the availability of space in a brochure, magazine, newsletter or some other medium. What do you do?
The answer, said Susan Wilson is “become more valuable to them than an ad buy.”
Ask them every key question about their product … other than what’s on a rate card. You want to know: the circulation breakdown; the demographics of the readership (are you looking to have them as travelers—for instance, not everyone is seeking backpackers); information on the reach of the publication; do readers or viewers expect your attraction, hotel or tour to speak their language; and has the person making the pitch ever visited you in the past.
Also, ask them if there are any additional “merchandising” benefits to buying ad space such as equivalent space devoted to editorial, an online promotion or sweepstakes they can throw in to maximize your investment. Where possible, ask them if there are ways to tie in tour operators as the call to action.
More often lately, due to tight budgets, you are approached by tour operators who have already included you in their programs and use the appointment as an opportunity to SELL you advertising.
In this situation you lack leverage as their implied approach is that you can be eliminated in favor of someone else. In that case you should try to extract information such as annual bookings/room nights. At least try to obtain circulation of brochures and website views and prepare for your management a “media equivalency” estimate based on a cost per thousand model.
Susan Wilson can help you by answering other questions you might have on this subject. You can reach her by contacting: [email protected]
Brand USA to Sponsor NAJ’s RTO Summit West and East in 2017
Yearly Forums in Los Angeles, New York and Orlando spotlight U.S. travel: Brand USA – the destination-marketing organization for the United States–has agreed to a sponsorship role for the RTO Summit, an annual travel-industry tradeshow presented by the North American Journeys Group (NAJ), a California-based research company that serves receptive tour operators (RTOs).
In addition to these meetings, this year’s event will feature eTourism International, an entire day filled with panel discussions providing digital tactics and tools especially useful to tourism sales professionals.
“Brand USA is a critical part of the marketing machinery that makes international travelers increasingly aware of the USA as a global-travel destination,” said Jake Steinman, CEO of the NAJ Group.
“Moreover, our three shows allow local RTOs to meet with representatives of U.S. suppliers and destinations in settings that tend to encourage more personal interaction than at the mega-sized shows,” he said.
Brand USA began its affiliation with the NAJ tradeshows series by sponsoring a closing luncheon at last month’s RTO Summit Orlando. The next two shows (in 2017) include RTO Summit West, Feb. 8-9 in Los Angeles, and RTO Summit East, May 15-16 in New York.
“Participating in the two-day NAJ summits advances our strategy for promoting U.S. travel opportunities among receptive tour operators, a sector of the tourism industry that continues to gain in significance,” said Brand USA’s Cathleen Domanico, vice president for Global Trade.
Brand USA representatives will have opportunities to convey research and pertinent travel information to the RTOs during the “eTourism International,” which takes place during the first day of each summit.
The three RTO tradeshows appeal to different international market sectors based largely on the gateways they serve, Steinman said. “RTO Summit West, has a substantial number of RTOs that serve Asian markets, RTO Summit East attracts RTO’s that cater to markets in Europe and a high percentage of RTOs who work with the South American travel trade, attend the Orlando show,” he said.
For more details on the 2017 RTO Summits and the programs for each, visit: www.rtosummit.com.
Proof! Travel is the Secret to True Happiness. The Toy Department of Life
Or, Possibly the Most Uplifting Survey Results ever to Come from a Study on Holidays and their Relationship to Happiness: New global research commissioned by Booking.com has revealed that travel gives us such an emotional boost, we consider planning and going away on holiday more vital for our happiness than other big life occasions—such as our own wedding day (49 percent), going on a date with your partner (51 percent), landing a new job (50 percent), getting engaged (45 percent), and even having a baby (29 percent). Furthermore, 77 percent say they book a holiday just when they’re in need of a happiness boost.
The research, which questioned 17,000 people from 17 countries, produced revelations such as the following:
—For the majority (70 percent), travel experiences bring more lasting happiness than material things.
—This explains why most people (56 percent) prioritize holidays over possessions such as clothes, jewelry and gadgets.
—Almost half (48 percent) rank travel over home improvements.
The emotional lift that travel brings hits at each stage of the travel process from planning, through booking to actually going on holiday. And it’s the planning stages that give the most immediate boosts in happiness:
—Nearly three quarters of people (72 percent) saying they get a kick of excitement just from researching where to go on holiday.
—Over half (56 percent) agree they then feel happiest when booking their holiday, underlining the importance of instant booking when it comes to securing an ideal stay.
—Almost half (49 people) of people say a holiday brings them more happiness than their wedding day.
—Over half (51 percent) prefer travelling over going on a date with their partner
—More than three quarters of people (77 percent) book a holiday to cheer themselves up when they’re in need of a happiness boost.
—Seven out of ten (70 percent) then have the best time on holiday when they can make themselves at home in their accommodation.
—Over two thirds of us find happiness staying in a hotel, hostel or villa (67 percent).
—Another third feel happiest staying in an apartment or home with local residents (33 percent).
Planning and Booking = Happiness during the Holiday: Author Shawn Achor, BA, MA, Harvard, and a leading expert on happiness, said that the data from this new study highlight how “there is a very significant correlation between enjoying the booking experience, and happiness during the actual trip – meaning that one of the best predictors of a happy vacation is to have an enjoyable booking process. Travel planned well and instantly booked with ease can dramatically improve your happiness, no matter what type of stay and trip you seek. This links to my previous researched published in the Harvard Business Review indicating that, unlike the average vacation, well-planned, low stress vacations have a 94 percent chance of returning you to work with greater levels of energy, engagement and happiness.”
Anchor added, “In fact, we are so addicted to planning and booking our trips, that over a third admit to researching holidays months in advance (35 percent)–with an eager 5 percent planning over a year in advance.”
This is then followed, he said, by the anticipation of what’s to come:
—Between booking and actually travelling, over a third admit to chasing a happiness boost by thinking about their holiday one or more times a day (39 percent).
—In preparation, eight out of ten (80 percent) find happiness in looking at a map and researching places to visit, and over half (52 percent) like planning and shopping for their holiday wardrobe.
—Almost eight out of 10 people (79 percent) say scrolling through pictures of destinations and beautiful accommodations help them to feel happy in the run up to their holiday
—Another six out of ten (61 percent) enjoy continuing to read reviews of the accommodation they’ve just booked.
Yet, all the anticipation in the world can’t replace the happiness of actually being on holiday:
—Six out of ten (62 percent) feel a surge of happiness when they set their out of office and leave work.
—Almost nine out of ten (87 percent) say it’s the first day of a holiday and seeing their accommodation for the first time (83 percent) that are the happiest holiday moments.
—From then on, 70 percent say they have the best time on holiday when they can make themselves at home wherever they stay.
—Over two thirds find happiness when staying in a hotel, hostel or villa (67 percent), and another third feel happiest staying in an apartment or home with local residents (33 percent).
Concluded Achor: “Study after study has indicated that there is a huge boost to happiness in the “anticipatory phase” which occurs while planning and visualizing a trip. This new research shows how significant this boost really is–on par or better than getting engaged … Based on a decade of research, the greatest competitive advantage in the modern world is a positive and engaged brain. In fact, I recently found that people who take all of their vacation days are not only happier, they are 34 percent more likely to receive a bonus over the next three years. Happy travel pays.”
A Note on Methodology: Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 people from each of the 17 markets who had taken at least 1 domestic or international holiday in the past year. In total, 17,157 respondents (18yrs +) were surveyed from the UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Russia, USA, Canada, Brazil, China, Japan, India, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand. Data was collected from 9 September to 4 October 2016.
USA-to-Canada Traffic Soars to Best Level in a Decade
While inbound traffic to the USA from Canada is projected by the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) by eight percent—it is down by 16 percent for the first four months of 2016—inbound traffic from the United States to Canada is up by nearly 10 percent, year-on-year, through September and air arrivals from the U.S. for the same period are up by more than 17 percent for the same period, according to figures released by Destination Canada (DC). The outlook is positive enough that the organization might achieve its goal of having 20 million international visitors a year by 2020 as early as this year.
About 1.4 million overnight visitors to Canada arrived from the US in September 2016, up 11.5 percent over September 2015, bringing total US arrivals in the first three quarters of 2016 up to 11.2 million (+9.7 percent over the same period of 2015). This was the best September for US arrivals since 2005, and the best January-September performance since 2006.
Overall, arrivals from all international markets, including Destination Canada’s 11 targeted international markets (USA, France, Germany, UK, Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Brazil and Mexico), except for Brazil, are registering health increases in travel volume to Canada. From January to September 2016, Canada welcomed 16.1 million overnight visitors, including 14.3 million from the with several of these markets posting exceptional performances over the first three quarters of 2016, most notably South Korea (+32.8 percent, China (+23.7 percent), Mexico (+18.6 percent), the UK (+15.7 percent) and Australia (+13.6 percent).
Outbound Travel: The data furnished from Statistics Canada may be scored slightly differently than that furnished by NTTO, but those data we do have confirm—from both markets—that Canadian traffic to the U.S. is off by a significant amount in 2016. NTTO’s forecast has Canadian arrivals down 8 percent for the year, while Statistics Canada has the number at -8.9 percent through September.
Note: The figures are preliminary estimates and are subject to change.
Source: Statistics Canada, International Travel Survey
What Does it Mean, and for Which Market? Those for whom national accounts are important have much statistical fodder to rummage through with the latest report from Destination Canada. But for much of the world, the USA and Canada comprise one North American market. And given the symbiotic relationship of the travel and tourism industry in the two countries, where there is cross ownership of tourism-related businesses as well as cross border itineraries, the disparity is less important. However, U.S. businesses clustered near key points along the U.S.-Canada border, or within day-trip range of Canadian travelers, have suffered substantially by the drop in visitors—especially among those who engage in shopping excursions—from Canada, due primarily to the weakened Canadian dollar (loon) vs. the U.S. dollar.
The loonie, which traded at about $1.03 in 2012, sunk to less than $0.70 near the end of 2015 and is still trading about $0.75. (See chart below)
Canadian Dollar vs. U.S. Dollar
Buddy, Can You Spare a Rupee? Indian Travel Industry Hit Hard by Currency Measure
While most of the global travel and tourism industry was focused on the Nov. 8 presidential election in the United States, the trade in India was thrown in to a state of havoc that has created a major swamp for tourism—mostly for inbound, but for outbound as well—because of the demonetization decree issued that day. The key part of the directive affects the two most common denominations of currency: the 500 rupee (about $7.40) and the 1,000 rupee (about $14.80) notes, which comprised an estimated 86 percent of cash in circulation at the time. You should realize that India is a country in which about 90 percent of transactions happen in cash. (The major reasons for this is a distrust of credit cards and a fear of hacking. Only slightly more than half of all Indians even have a bank account.)
The Indian government took the drastic action, with the country’s Ministry of Finance charging that the that the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes (or “black” money) are being used to finance terrorism, fund illegal drug sales, fuel the black market, drive counterfeiting, and pay bribes. The black money had allegedly built up to such proportions that Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he would take it upon himself to cleanse India’s currency supply in one 50-day period.
This meant that $224 billion worth of currency was essentially recalled and newly designed 500 and 2,000 rupee notes were to be printed and distributed to replace it. The people of India were given until the end of December to turn in the old notes for the new ones or deposit their cash into bank accounts. Another part of the demonetization measure restricts foreigners to exchange currency to a limit of 5,000 rupees ($74) a week.
Business Insider India filed this report: “‘Foreigners are restricted to exchanging currency up to only Rs 5,000 per week. They want to spend, but Rs 5000 is way too little for them. So, they are either postponing their trips or are cancelling them. There has been at least a 25-35 percent decline in both outbound and inbound travel,’ said Subhash Goyal, former president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO).”
Also, Manoj Samuel, executive director at Riya Travels, one of India’s largest brick-and-mortar travel agents, echoed similar worries. “Cash component of our business has definitely declined to a large extent,” he said, adding that short-term sentiment will dent overall bookings.
Added Rajji Rai, ex-president, Travel Agents Association of India, “December is an important month for travel as this is the holiday season, especially in the north, but November has taken a 20% hit even as we slip into December.”
According to The Hindu’s “Business Line” section, Lokesh Bettaiah, honorary secretary general of the Travel Agents Association of India, said, “There was no major business activity happening for us in November as both inbound and outbound tourism had dropped by 20 per cent. Foreigners are already giving feedback back home about the chaos at ATMs to collect cash and this is not expected to generate future bookings unless the cash flow improves.”
In the meantime, with predictions of a woeful first quarter in 2017 for the tour and travel industry, there have been massive queues at banks and foreign exchange offices throughout India as residents and travelers to the country try to exchange their old rupee notes.
The demonetization has been met with a mostly negative reaction on the part of the business and travel trade news media.
In a harshly skeptical article, Forbes put it this way: “Part of the exchange process for old notes consisted of a proverbial dragnet to catch black money by formally scrutinizing large transactions and then doling out the appropriate taxes or fines. India banked on the black market simply not showing up for fear of being caught, and just sit idle as their illicit gluts of cash unceremoniously expired into worthless pieces of paper.”
“Theoretically, by having a large amount of canceled banknotes going unredeemed the Indian government could essentially pocket the balance, which was estimated to be as high as 21 percent of the currency being recalled— or roughly $45 billion.
“Unfortunately for Modi and India’s central bank, this payday never materialized. As of now, over 82.5 percent of the recalled notes have been turned in, and it is estimated that by the time the redemption period is over on December 30th essentially all nullified notes will have been collected — white and black alike.”
None of this is likely to affect the liquidity of tour operators who sell USA product in India, although the havoc that began on Nov. 8 and is continuing this month is sure to have an impact on SATTE (South Asia Travel and Tourism Exchange), India’s major travel trade show, which takes place Feb. 15-17 in New Delhi. The Inbound Report will be following the action in New Delhi and follow up with an account on the event.
Great Smoky Mountains Park Reopens after Chimney Tops 2 Fire
In eastern Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—it is the USA’s most visited national park—officially reopened to the public on Friday, Dec. 9 in conjunction with the reopening of the city of Gatlinburg following an 11-day closure brought on by the deadly and devastating Chimney Tops 2 Fire that wreaked havoc on Newfound Gap Road, Little River Road, and several visitor areas had been closed since the evening of Monday, November 28 due to the Chimney Tops 2 wildfire.
The fire, whipped up by hurricane force winds, wreaked deadly havoc on the region, killing 14 people and destroying more than 1,750 buildings.
“The past eleven days have been the most challenging and emotional days our community has likely ever had to endure,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “The amount of love, strength, and support offered to our community has been inspirational not only to us, but also to those watching from across the world. Our community has shone brightly in the midst of this disaster and proven that we are truly mountain tough.”
The following trails are closed due to wind or fire damage: Chimney Tops Trail, Road Prong Trail, Sugarland Mountain Trail from Mt Collins Shelter to Little River Road, Huskey Gap Trail, Rough Creek Trail, Old Sugarlands Trail, Twin Creeks Trail, Baskins Creek Trail, Bull Head Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, Trillium Gap Trail, Grapeyard Ridge Trail from Campsite 32 to Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Gatlinburg Trail, Cove Mountain Trail, Sugarland Valley Nature Trail, Noah Bud Ogle Nature Trail, Cove Hardwood Nature Trail, the Sugarlands Horse Concession trails, and the quiet walkways along Newfound Gap Road.
The safety of our visitors is our primary concern and we ask that everyone explore only areas of the park that remain open and abide by trail closures. Visitors are required to remain in their vehicles when passing through the burned areas and should not enter any burned areas by foot. Visitors are reminded that though the area has received heavy rains in recent days, firefighters are still actively establishing containment lines to ensure the fire is fully extinguished.
Motorists are reminded to carefully travel along the roadways and to allow crews safe work space. Public Information Officers will be on site near the Gatlinburg entrance of the park and at overlooks along Newfound Gap Road to answer questions regarding the fire.
While several park events were postponed or cancelled, the Holiday Homecoming at the Oconaluftee Mountain Farm will take place as planned on December 17.
For more information on temporary road and trail closures, please visit the park website at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm.
Operator Notes from Europe
Ryanair has launched a package holiday service offering flights, accommodation and transfer packages on its website. The company has created the new business, Ryanair Holidays, in partnership with Spain-based tour operator Logitravel and accommodation provider World2Meet, owned by Iberostar Group. Ryanair Holidays initially launches in the UK, Ireland and Germany today, with other markets to follow in 2017.
Tui chief executive Fritz Joussen said last week that the sale of specialist division, Travelopia, is expected to be finalized in the first half of its financial year. Travelopia is the umbrella group of 50 specialist brands, including Hayes & Jarvis, Exodus, Travelmood, Citalia and Jetsave. Tui put the division on the market three months ago with the intention of selling the business as a single entity. The deal is potentially worth €500-600 million ($527-633 million).
Tui Group also reported a growth of 12.5 percent and describes move away from tour operating as ‘paying off.’ For TUI Germany, winter sales are up by 2 percent, with a 7 percent rise in average selling prices outweighing a 5 percent drop in customer volumes.
In the UK, Thomas Cook has launched a new web based booking platform to support independent agents ahead of peak season. Thomas Cook Trade, which extends to all Thomas Cook brands, includes TripAdvisor reviews and video tours for selected hotels, an image gallery, software to produce tailor-made window cards and an emphasis on extras like room. A training portal, The Thomas Cook Training Academy launches on Dec. 15 and focus on four key modules for Thomas Cook exclusive roduct. The operator has increased its sales team ahead of peak booking season, with staff due out on the road visiting key agents in January.
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Two new members of Brand USA’s 11-member board of directors have been appointed. They are: Alice Norsworthy, chief marketing officer, Universal Orlando Resort and executive vice president, international brand management, Universal Parks & Resorts (representing the attractions or recreations sector); and Thomas O’Toole, senior fellow and clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management of Northwestern University and, formerly, senior vice president, chief marketing officer and president, MileagePlus at United Airlines (representing the passenger air sector).
TUI has promoted Frank Rosenberger, currently group strategy director and a member of the TUI Group’s executive committee, to the group’s executive board starting Jan. 1, 2017 with a three-year contract. A former global business development manager for the Vodafone Group, Rosenberger joined TUI in autumn 2015. In his new position, he will take over responsibility for IT and New Markets. Until now, IT was one of the responsibilities of Sebastian Ebel, alongside hotels, cruises, destination management and also TUI Germany.
Yuhnis Sydnor has been named domestic and international sales director for Philadelphia Sightseeing Tours. A Philadelphia native who’s been a part of the tour and travel industry for more than 20 years, he has had tenures in senior sales positions for several different tour companies. He began his career as an associate director of sales for the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Airport.
Jake Buganski has been appointed executive director of the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism. He joins the office from the Steuben County (N.Y.) CVB. Previously, he had served as executive director of Visit South Jersey, where he had worked for more than a decade (October 2005 – December 2015). Buganski replaces Grace Hanlon, who had served in the post for more than six years.
Stephan Braun has taken up the new position of group head of strategic business progress for FTI, working closely with CEO Dietmar Gunz. He comes to the FTI from Thomas Cook, where he was group director, hotel contracting and destination management worldwide.