Number of Brits Travelling to USA Drops Sharply in January
Just-released figures from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a sharp drop in the number of UK residents traveling to North American in January, the month when Donald Trump became President of the United States. (Generally, more than 90 percent of Britons traveling to North America are traveling to the U.S.)
While the overall number of Brits traveling abroad jumped 9 percent to 4.6 million visits in January, the number of Brits going to the USA/North America fell 17 percent, from 276,000 for January 2016 to 230,000 this January. While some British news outlets were quick to note that the decline coincides with Trump’s inauguration as president, that kind of correlation doesn’t take into account that many of January’s trips had been booked before Trump’s Nov. 8, 2016 election
Meanwhile, ONS said part of the drop could be explained by January 2016 being a particularly strong month for outbound trips to the US, but said there was still a significant drop. Also, between January 2016 and January 2017, the British pound had also weakened against the dollar following the June 23, 2016 Brexit vote.
Another point: Based on previous years, ONS said it would expect to see a rise in visitors to the USA in January compared with December, but this year was an exception—while 250,000 Britons traveled to the U.S. in December, the figure fell to 230,000 in January.
Where Are They Now?
UNDER THE GUN
Sandy Phillips: From Tourism Sales Executive to Gun Violence Prevention Activist
After a night that forever changed her career—or ended it, one could say—longtime tourism marketing executive Sandy Anglin Philips has become a latter day version of an itinerant preacher who, after a great awakening, has taken to the road with nothing but a mode of transportation and faith in her message. About that night:
“One bullet tore through her leg and entered into the other leg making it impossible to escape. Three more ripped through her abdomen. One hit her clavicle and shattered it. And one exploded through her left eye leaving a five-inch hole that blew her brains onto the theater seats, floor, and people. I live with that image every day of my life.”
This was the blunt, unvarnished description given by Phillips, who served as national tourism sales manager for the San Antonio CVB for over three years and then became executive director of Texas Hill County Trail, to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee on March 23 describing the death of her 24–year-old daughter, Jessi, in a hail of bullets on the night of July 20, 2012 during a mass murder at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado. Twelve people were killed and 70 were injured by a sole gunman.
The blunt message of Phillips on that was directed at Senators who were considering the nomination of U.S. Circuit Court Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Gorsuch’s opinions and rulings are contrary to what Phillips believes.
Back to that night that unalterably changed her life. Phillips got the call about what happened to her daughter, a promising local televisions sportscaster and blogger, from her boyfriend, Brent, who was also shot. “I asked if Jessi was okay, and he said: ‘I’m sorry.’ I said, ‘Oh please, Brent, is she okay? Tell me she’s not dead.’ And he said again, ‘I’m sorry, I tried.’ At that point, I started screaming. I woke my husband up. He came out as I was sliding down the wall and grabbed me. I told him that Jessi was dead.”
“It was 5 in the morning, daybreak was just happening, and there was a very soft light coming in through the living room. I was curled up on the couch, and Lonnie, my husband, was standing at the door looking out and remembering Jessi at the patio table with her boyfriend just a few weeks before. In that moment, I spoke up and said: ‘You know we are going to get involved in this, right?’ And he knew exactly what I meant. And he said, ‘I know.’ And we did.”
Not long thereafter, Sandy and Lonnie sold their property, save for their RV /home and began traveling the country as a professional speaker about gun violence prevention. Appearing before groups of all kinds speaking, proselytizing, testifying at various hearings at all levels of government and pleading for sane government policies on the sale and use of firearms and ammunition is now her life’s purpose. For a while, she and her husband were allied with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
“We have been doing this ever since. We live on very little. We live out of our camper,” Phillips told an interviewer last September. “We fortunately have good friends across the nation, and sometimes, we are able to leave the camper behind and stay with them. But this is our life. We’re nomads for gun sense.”
Financially, the nomadic journey of Sandy and Lonni has had its ups and downs—mostly downs. They filed a lawsuit against the online company that sold ammunition to the killer of their daughter and others. They had the help of attorneys who represented them pro bono. But they lost their lawsuit, and were then ordered to pay the company $203,000 in fees.
Episodes such as this and personal bankruptcy require that Phillips and her husband live off monetary contributions and other forms of help—not the financial plan of someone approaching what is normally retirement age. But Phillips is not deterred. She has a message to deliver and will continue to deliver it for as long as she is physically able to do so.
Recently, the Phillips were interviewed for the new Katie Couric documentary, “Under the Gun” which examines why there was no change in gun laws a string of senseless shootings including the Aurora movie theatre and Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. It aired on Epix this past May 15th.
(Note: Sources for this article included Refinery29.com and Slate.com)
JATA Chief Says Japanese Need to Become Better at Relaxing
Also Announces Initiative to Increase Outbound Travel
Hitomi Tagawa, the former CEO of JTB and now the chairman of the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) used “Hitorigoto” in Japanese—it means “murmuring to oneself”—to describe a message in which he urged fellow Japanese, including travel professionals, to take time off and relax.
“The phrase ‘holiday reinvention’ has been circulated a lot lately, yet, as somebody from the industry, I wonder if the people in this field can take time off to spend on relaxation,” said Tagawa in part of a recently circulated, wide-ranging report to the Japanese travel trade. “We need to think about the way we spend our time off, the way we relax our body and spirit. It seems that the Japanese are not very good at this.”
He continued: “Taking long holidays helps cleanse both the body and the mind. Rather than ‘using the holidays given to us’ we need to take the holidays and relax ourselves. It is important to feel the four seasons, to experience life and the environment with our five senses,” adding, “We the Japanese and the travel industry professionals in particular need to re-establish the meaning of ‘taking time off,’ to become better at ‘relaxing’ in order to become better able to convey our message.”
New Group Aims to Boost Japanese Outbound Traveler Count to 20 Million a Year: According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), 17,116,200 Japanese traveled overseas in 2016—a 5.6 percent increase over 2015. The number topped the 17-million mark for the first time since 2013. With the exception of April 2016, when the number decreased by 2.3 percent, every month saw an increase on year-on-year basis, with August and November marking the highest increases of 10 percent and 10.5 percent respectively.
Tagawa used the occasion of the good news on outbound numbers to announce that JATA is launch a new initiative in an efforts to achieve 20 million overseas travelers and a greater volume of handled tours by its members in 2018.
Operating under the aegis of the Japan Outbound Tourism Council, the effort comprises JATA member companies, airlines, national tourism offices, embassies, tour-operators and other travel-related organizations. The council will work to “facilitate the exchange of the newest travel information, expand the number of package tours handled by travel agencies, discover and promote new travel attractions in overseas tourist destinations.”
Hear Unique Selling Strategies for International Markets at RTO Summit East
Using the newest Virtual Reality video technology, Nathan Claycomb, business development manager, for Sight & Sound Theatres, has been able to communicate the essence of the attraction (there are two theatres—one in Lancaster County, Pa., and the other in Branson, Mo.) in a way video never could, and he’ll be one of the featured speakers May 16-17 at NAJ’s RTO Summit East at the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel. Following is the complete program for the event, which takes place on day one of the Summit. Day two comprises face-to-face business meetings.
RTO SUMMIT EAST PROGRAM†
May 15, 2017
Wyndham New Yorker Hotel
(i)=Invited but not confirmed.
9:00-9:30 am: Key Digital Marketing Trends to Reach International Travelers. A brief overview of UK, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, Germany, China, India. Presenter: Florian Hermann, Creative Director, NAJ Content Studio
9:30-10:00 am: How to Create a Shoulder Season SEO Co-Op Programs for international and Domestic Marketing
– How do we advise our webmaster to make our site searchable to international visitors?
– SEM: How do we generate international trade leads using paid search?
– What free Google tools can help me save time and energy?
– How Can Google help me find the best websites to connect with tour operators and consumers?
– What tools exist on Youtube to translate our videos to make them useful to tour operators ?
Presenter: Laszlo Horvath, CEO, ActiveMedia
10:00-10:30: Five Simple Things to Know about Facebook to Help Sell More Attraction Product
– Which source countries are most responsive to Facebook marketing?
– How do I build a following in these markets and at what cost?
– How can I use Facebook targeting tools to find the best audience?
– How can I use “Custom Audiences” to boost posts to my e-mail list of trade contacts
– How to use “Facebook Live” and Facebook video to promote my organization
Presenter Talia Salem, President, Urban Nomad (i) (formerly social media director for Brand USA) Jason Hackett, CEO, Briar Katama
10:30-10:50 am: What is Most Effective for Trade Show Follow Up: e-Mail or Social Media? According to an NAJ follow up survey.
- 91.1% of attendees are on Facebook and 60.7% are on LinkedIN at least 2x/week
- 55.6% communicate with RTO’s and 44.5% with Int’l Operators via Social Media
- 49.9% conduct e-mail marketing campaigns to RTO’s.
10:50-11:10 am: Coffee Break sponsored by TourOperatorLand.com
11:10-11:30 am: Brand USA’s Creative Approach to promoting the USA in key international Presenter: Anna Klapper, Director, Global Market Development, Brand USA
11:30-12:00 noon: The UK Traveler’s Path to Purchase? According to their research, the average traveler visits 145 websites before they pull the trigger. Presentation includes a summary of the following:
- Desktop and mobile usage trends across the purchase path
- Factors influencing destination consideration
- Resources utilized during the pre-booking window
- Advertising effectiveness by channel and purchase phase
Presenter: Derek Price, Expedia Media Solutions (i)
12:00-12:30 pm: Key Travel Trends from UK, Germany and France. TripAdvisor will be releasing the most recent version of their European Travel Monitor research including how inbound hotel bookings have been affected by Brexit and decline in the Euro and Donald Trump’s presidency. Presenter: Mark Preston, TripAdvisor (i)
12:30-2:00 pm: Lunch on own
2:00-2:30 pm: Unique Selling Strategies for International Markets. Using the newest Virtual Reality video technology, Nathan Claycomb, Business Development manager, for Sight and Sound Theatres, was able to communicate the essence of Sight and Sound Theatres in a way video never could.
2:30-3:00 pm: Five Things You Need to Know about Digital Marketing to reach Chinese FITs:
- What Channels do Chinese Travelers use to search for travel information?
- What websites do Chinese tourists use to book travel?
- What’s the difference between We Chat personal vs We Chat Commercial Platform?
- Strategies to construct an affordable digital marketing strategy in China
- What are the key ROI or KPI (Key Performance Indicators) to use?
Presenter: David Becker, President, Attract China
3:00-3:30 pm: How attractions sellers are using We Chat and Weibo to Target Chinese consumers.
Presenter: Sally Berry, Tourism Sales and Marketing Manager, Corning Museum of Glass
3:30-4:00 pm: Power Panel #1: Best Online Coop Examples that have Driven Low Season International Business.
- TripAdvisor: Mark Preston (i)
- Expedia Media Solutions: Derek Price (i)
- Travelzoo: Bonnie Borkin (i)
4:00-4:10 pm: Coffee Break sponsored by TourOperatorLand.com
4:10-5.00 pm: Top RTO Executives Discuss the evolution of the International Markets from their Perspective: Panelists:
- India: Pabs Raghava, President, Tours Limited
- Western Europe: Mark Morello, President, AlliedTPro (i); Enzo Peretta, CEO, TeamAmerica (i)
- Germany: Peter Dorner, President, New World Travel
- China: Jack Lock, C-Tour (formerly L&L travel) (i)† For program updates and registration information, visit: http://www.rtosummit.com/east/
Flash Sale—Thomas Cook India Style
India’s largest travel company, Thomas Cook India, put on a first-of-its-kind promotion on March 25-26 by staging “Weekend Mega Holiday Sale” across five locations in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai that offered steep discounts and a “children travel free” incentive.
Held on March 25-26, 2017, came after the tour operator saw high customer demand for its recent “Grand Indian Holiday Sale.” Over the last weekend, Thomas Cook India offered a range of attractive deals and the advantage of spot discounts up to 40,000 rupees ($612) per person on Thomas Cook India’s holiday packages over the weekend. The company said it scheduled the weekend sale, timed to coincide with the critical booking window for summer vacations, which is India’s largest holiday season.
As part of the sale Thomas Cook said it would be keep a child’s travel free and extend its “Holiday Pe Holiday Free” offer on select international tours. (“Holiday pe Holiday Free” is a program launched four years ago that offers customers a free International holiday including airfare, accommodation, sightseeing, meals, visas, insurance and service of a tour manager on the purchase of another holiday. For example, if a customer were to buy a Europe package, he or she would get a 3-country cruise or a holiday to Spain & Portugal absolutely free; on a USA holiday, a Canada trip is offered free.) For customers who paid the entire amount upfront, the company said it would offer a further discount of up to 9 per cent on select international holiday packages.
The weekend sale bonanza is an attempt by Thomas Cook India to make further inroads into smaller, lucrative markets in India. Said Rajeev Kale, Thomas Cook India’s president & country head-leisure travel, MICE said, “Our customers are increasingly emerging from small local pockets within larger cities, and our intent was to reach out to our customers by going local- right to their very doorstep. Mumbai currently contributes more than 15% to our holiday business and given the high growth potential, we intend to leverage this market to the maximum.”
Brits to Travel more in 2017, although Safety Concerns are Strong
According to a new report by London-based BDRC Continental, safety is “at the forefront of Britons’ minds” when planning holidays in 2017, with a majority expecting “some negative impact” in EU travel in the wake of on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
However, the study found nine out of 10 Britons are “seriously considering” a holiday in 2017, “with an anticipated increase in longer holidays abroad and in the UK,” 77 percent looking to take a break of four nights or more.
Three out of five respondents (61 percent) said they are planning an overseas holiday of four or more nights, three percentage points up on a year ago, and 50 percent an overseas short break.
The anticipated increase in holiday demand comes despite the fact that almost half the respondents (48 percent) expressed concern about the UK economy and 15 percent being “very concerned.” Still, BDRC noted, “80 percent expect to spend more or the same on their holidays” as in 2016.
Even so, the report indicated that 77 of survey respondents viewed safety as “a consideration” and 40 percent “a strong consideration,” prompting BDRC Continental to conclude: “Safety concerns remain at the forefront of Britons’ minds when planning their holidays.” Other findings from the survey include the following:
- Istanbul rated “the least safe city destination.”
- More than half (55 percent) of respondents rated Istanbul unsafe and two-thirds (67%) of these “would not go regardless of price.”
- Paris was rated unsafe by 27 percent, Berlin by 20 percent and London by 10 percent.
- Just 13 percent judged Istanbul to be “fairly safe,” compared with 23 percent a year ago, and only 1 percent anticipated taking a holiday in Turkey this year compared with 4 percent in a survey last January.
- Fewer than two in five (37 percent) perceived Paris as safe, the same proportion as a year ago,
- However, the survey found a year-on-year drop-off of four percentage points to 12 percent in Britons intending to take a short break in France.
- UK adults expect “at least some disruption to their EU holiday behavior as a result of Brexit.”
- 43 percent expect less favorable exchange rates–a recognition of what has already happened since the Brexit vote.
- 36 percent anticipate “more expensive air travel,” although average air fares within Europe have fallen and are forecast to continue to fall.
- 36 percent also anticipate a future need for visas when traveling to EU countries.
- 31 percent expect longer passport queues at airports
- 13 percent expect no changes as a result of Brexit, with the findings leading BDRC to state, “A ‘hard’ Brexit may drive holidaymakers to holiday in the UK.”
Note: For its report, BDRC Continental interviewed 1,006 UK adults online in the first two weeks of January.
China’s Top Ten Travel Brands Are …
Airlines Make up Half the List: Culling the list of the BrandZ China Top 100, an annual report put out by the UK-based international marketing research firm, Millward Brown, Jing Daily came up with a list of the Top 10 travel brands. According to the publication, travel brands increased greatly in value, year-over-year, with Ctrip (No. 5 on the list), the online travel agency in the country, growing 40 percent.
The BrandZ China Top 100, which calculates the value of Chinese brands, does not include foreign businesses that operate in the Chinese market. In uses financial information from Bloomberg and Kantar Worldpanel in combination with data from interviews with Chinese consumers.
In this year’s study, Jing reported, the total value of the brands within the top 100 reached $525.6 billion, a 13 percent increase on last year’s figures. Travel brands, which include airlines, hotels, and travel agencies, showed an average growth in brand value of over 30 percent. The ten travel companies that made the top 100 list have a combined brand value of $14.6 billion. The following table lists the Top 10 travel brands and their value, along with the change in value, year-ono-year, vs. 2015.
NAJ 2017-2018 EVENT SCHEDULE … Save the Date
April 23-25, 2017
Portland, OR (sold out)
May 14-15, 2017
New York, NY (10 spots left)
September 13, 2017
(by invitation only-attendance limited to 40)
September 19-20, 2017
Wyndham Bonnet Creek, Orlando
(Attendance limited to 70 sellers)
October 20-21, 2017
Park Central Hotel, San Francisco, CA
(Attendance limited to 250)
February 21-22, 2018
Ritz Carlton, Marina del Rey,
Attendance limited to 130 sellers
March 25-27, 2018
Attendance limited to: 130 sellers
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Bruno Besnehard has been named managing director for France of Vueling, the Barcelona-based budget airline that is a part of the IAG group. Vueling, which has network of more than 100 connections in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, has suddenly become important to U.S. travel suppliers because it will link to Level, another IAG airline, which soon begins long-haul service to the USA. Besnehard, 43, will be part of the sales team reporting directly to David Garcia-Blancas. During his career, he has held several senior positions at Air France and Air France-KLM.
Charlie Whinham has been hired as an assistant in the communications section of the Louisiana Office of Tourism. He joins the agency from Louisiana Public Broadcasting where he has been a producer, reporter and host for 15 years.
Isabelle Cordier has stepped down from her position as executive director of FRAM, France’s third largest tour operator (behind TUI and Thomas Cook) “for personal and family reasons,” according to a company press release. She had been on the job a little more than a year. Prior to joining FRAM, Cordier served as executive director of Carrefour Voyages from 2003 to early 2016. Taking Cordier’s place is Michel Quenot, who comes to the job from Look Voyages, where he was director.
Jane Atkins is leaving her post as international sales director at short break specialist SuperBreak after five years on the job. Commenting on her departure, Atkins noted that London, which had been the focus of the company’s business when she joined the company, “is now only a third of our business, with overseas sales volumes growing significantly.”
Peter Hilton resigns as chief executive of Holiday Taxis, the ground transport company which operates in more than 100 countries, including the USA. In announcing Hilton’s departure, a company statement said he resigned “to take time out to travel and work on new projects.” Hilton, who was made chief executive in 2010, will remain as a shareholder.
Carrier has appointed Kuoni’s commercial director, Mark Duguid, as its new managing director following the decision of Steve Kimber decision to retire after six and-a-half years on the job. The appointment takes effect April 3. Duguid, who will be based at Carrier’s headquarters in Cheadle, Cheshire, will oversee a team of 88, including both the tour operator arm of the company, as well as Carrier Travel, its independent retail shop. Both Carrier and Kuoni are brands operating under the Der Touristik umbrella.
At Funway Holidays, product and commercial director Melissa Tilling has been named to replace Stephen Rhodes as managing director. Rhodes had served the tour operator for six years. Tilling has been product and commercial director for six years and has spent a total of nine years with Funway.
American Airlines has announced the appointment of Chris DeGroot as vice president of international sales. DeGroot, who will be based in Fort Worth, Texas, will be responsible for three international divisions, including MCLA (Mexico, Caribbean and Latin America), EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and APAC (Asia Pacific), as well as Alliance sales teams. DeGroot has been with American since 2001. During his career with the carrier, he has led Distribution, finance and sales strategy teams and has held international positions for the airline in London and Moscow.