NOTE: The Inbound Report will not be published next week; we’ll be in Washington, D.C., covering IPW. Our next publishing date is June 15.
IPW Update: Who’s Coming and from Where …
More than 1,600 International Delegates Expected in D.C. Delegates arriving in the USA’s capital city will have two major ports of entry to Washington, D.C. this weekend: (1) Dulles International Airport (IAD), which straddles the border between Loudon and Fairfax counties in Northern Virginia and is about 26 miles (or 42 kilometers—the distance of a marathon) from downtown Washington; and (2) Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) across the Potomac River from the city in Arlington, Va. Most IPW hotels and the convention center are within five miles of this airport. While Reagan Washington National receives no long-haul international traffic, a number of delegates will be connecting to it from U.S. gateway airports.
Complimentary transportation from Dulles International Airport and Reagan Washington National Airport to official IPW Host Hotels will be available on Friday and Saturday, June 2-3, from 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m., and on Sunday, June 4, from 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA): From the baggage claim area (Terminals A, B, or C), please proceed to the outside curb where you will board IPW shuttles.
Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD): From the baggage claim area, please proceed up the ramp and out of Door #4 where you will board IPW shuttles.
Look for Washington, DC volunteers in teal shirts who can direct you to the exclusive IPW Welcome Lounge before boarding the IPW shuttle.
Visit the NAJ Team in IPW
As has been the case for the past 16 years, NAJ will be at IPW this year in various capacities:
Betsy Cooper, director of tour operator engagement, will be previewing the new homepage website design for the www.TourOperatorland.com website to over 90 tour operators from 18 countries.
Tom Berrigan, managing editor of the INBOUND REPORT, will be collecting insights and news from the floor of the show.
Liz Porter, marketing and editor of TOUR OPERATORLAND, The Magazine, will be gathering marketing trends and insights from suppliers and destinations about their appointments.
Jake Steinman, Founder and CEO, will be roaming the floor of the show in search the latest themes from the show and how people are protecting their market share. In addition, he will be seeking out the booth with the cushiest carpeting for special recognition in the next issue of INBOUND.
And finally, look for our FULL PAGE ADS in IPW DAILY.
TOUROPERATORLAND: The Magazine
Our annual state of the industry magazine can be found in your hotel room on Monday. If it’s not there, come to booth #1208 to pick up your copy.
Below you’ll find the table of contents:
British Passenger Sentenced to 9+ Years for Smoking on Plane
While it got no mention in the United States, last week’s doubling of a four-and-a-half year sentence to nine years, six months for a British passenger whose discarded cigarette butt in airplane toilet caused a fire that frightened passengers and crew was front-page news throughout the UK. And judging by the reaction among readers who commented on the story, it was well deserved.
The story revolves about a Monarch flight in August 2015—August is the busiest leisure travel period of the year for UK residents—from Birmingham to Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. The flight was 33,000 feet in the air and more than a hundred miles from its destination when a fire broke out after passenger John Cox carelessly tossed a lighted cigarette stub in a toilet bin.
Apparently, Cox, a heavy smoker, had also been drinking heavily at an airport bar prior to takeoff and continued drinking on board the flight. (Subsequent news accounts suggested that he was also distraught over the breakup of his marriage.)
According to multiple news accounts, flames grew and the fire took hold, causing the plane’s pilot to issue a mayday call and prepare for an emergency landing. Panic broke out among the 200 people on board as the jet went into a steep descent 100 miles off the Egyptian coast. Children screamed and some passengers and crew burst into tears, the Court of Appeal in London heard. Fortunately, for those aboard, a passenger who was a fire safety expert helped the flight’s crew extinguish the fire in time.
Cox, of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, and identified as an ex-soldier, was rude and very aggressive when challenged by outraged fellow passengers. However, he admitted reckless arson at Birmingham Court in March and was sentenced to jail for four-and-a-half years. An appeal of the sentence was filed.
Amazingly, the fire set by Cox was the second incident on the same flight. Earlier, crew had managed to put out a smaller blaze and the flight’s captain had issued a warning about the “moronic” conduct of smoking in the toilets.
Last week, a three-judge Court of Appeal seemed to agree. Lady Justice Victoria Sharp, sitting with Mr. Justice Mark Warby and Mrs. Justice Bobbie Cheema-Grubb, said: “To throw a cigarette butt into a wastepaper bin without ensuring it is extinguished would show a high degree of recklessness … The potential for causing disaster here was plain and obvious,” she added. “This offence called for a deterrent sentence.”
Q: How has Trump Presidency Affected Millennials’ Interest in the US?
The correlation between the presidency of Donald Trump and a decline in U.S. market share is more than just speculation. It is real—but is it solely responsible for attitudes of residents and travelers in key international markets? Remember: Correlation is not necessarily causation.
Absent up-to-date numbers from the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) (The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has had difficulty in gathering and delivering international arrivals data, and NTTO is about nine months behind real-time figures), there was an attempt last week to explain matters from Foursquare and its CEO, Jeff Glueck. Foursquare is a search-and-discover app especially popular among young millennial travelers, 40 percent of whom are 18-29, that helps them find venues such as restaurants, theatres and attractions nearby and helps them check in. Not really a tool of seniors or traditional groups—only 5 percent of Foursquare users are in the 54-65 age demographic—it has some 50 million users in 190 countries.
In a the blog post, Glueck said findings from Foursquare’s data base reveal that America’s “market share” in international tourism started to decline in October 2016, when the U.S. tourism share fell by 6 percent year-over-year, and continued to decrease through March 2017, when it dropped all the way to minus16 percent. The charts below look at “market share” rather than absolute figures, e.g. the U.S. as a destination versus the rest of world.
Methodology: Visits to the U.S. from July 2016 through March 207, in market share, are shown as a percentage change from the prior year’s visits. Visit data is normalized to account for changes to the total sample size.
Methodology: Comparison of business and leisure travel to the U.S. and to the rest of the world from July 2016 through March 17, in market share, are shown as a percentage change from the prior year’s visits. Visit data is normalized to account for changes to total sample size.
To be clear, Foursquare does not claim this analysis can “tease apart” the impact of a new tone or policies versus other factors: The dollar has been up slightly (about 3 percent year-on-year versus the Euro during the past two quarters), making travel to the U.S. more expensive at times. The value of the Euro is down, making European travel marginally more attractive. There may be other factors as well.
We should point out that the downturn in tourism came months before the President Trump came into office, and before changes to visa procedures, restrictions on travel from certain Muslim countries, the ban on certain electronics during flights from select countries and more. It remains to be seen whether future studies will reveal a correlation between such policies and levels of inbound travel to the U.S.
How One Attraction Used Virtual Reality to Increase Their International Business
“Virtual Reality” is one of the hot buzz-word expressions for sales and marketing professionals in the tour and travel industry—especially for international markets, where its 360-degree imagery speaks far more effectively than any language—and it will be on full display at IPW, where it first made an appearance two years ago in Orlando.
One challenge for those who seek to employ the technique is that, since it has come upon the marketplace, there are few in the industry who understand how it works and, at the same time, how to work it. One of those who do know is Nathan Claycomb, business development manager, Sight & Sound Theatres (one is located in Lancaster County, Pa. and the other is in Branson, Mo.), producers of epic, multimedia biblical drama-musicals. He discussed the subject at NAJ’s recent RTO Summit East in New York.
Claycomb (above), who developed a considerable bank of knowledge in stage, sound and performing arts technology before shifting into sales and marketing, explained the new Virtual Reality (VR) technology and how it helps to market the Sight & Sound product, which includes one of the largest stages in the world, a 300-foot wraparound structure whose depth and reach cannot be conveyed by photos and/or conventional videos alone—and still make sense to international tour operators. Right now, Sight & Sound enjoys healthy international visitor numbers from five key source markets, (Canada, Puerto Rico, the UK, Brazil and South Korea), but hopes to use VR as it expands its market reach.
The Inbound Report followed along as Claycomb walked the RTO Summit audience through the basics of VR—from the beginning.
What is Virtual Reality? VR means computer generated or visually captured physical environments experienced remotely, without being physically present
How did it start? Accounts of its origins vary, but researchers agree the birth of VR dates back to the early 1800’s, specifically, with the arrival of the stereoscope in 1838.
What are some of its uses? VR is now used for viewing movies, experiential learning, gaming and, of course, tourism promotion
How does VR contrast with, or complement, augmented reality (AR)? First, augmented reality is a live view of something physically present whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by computer-generated sound, video or graphics. It is generally experienced through a hand-held mobile device, but goggle integration does not exist. Mixed reality, or MR, is the combination of virtual environment and real environment where users able to manipulate the virtual objects as well.
What prompted Sight & Sound to explore the use of VR? “We had a problem. We are re-branding and, at the same, needed a new booth,” said Claycomb. “For decades, we’ve been telling the Sight & Sound story. Of late, we’ve been using iPad videos. Since our product is an experience, the best way to promote it is to have buyers there. So, how do we give everyone a Fam tour? The answer is: We bring the theatre to them virtually. Words paint a picture, but virtual reality paints the picture for us, freeing our imaging to make us part of the picture.”
“Of course, we met with our brand/marketing team to develop our VR product together—collaboration is essential to having VR achieve your desired outcome. We now have a virtual Fam tour. It’s the main difference between our participation in the RTO Summit West in 2016 and 2017.”
The benefits of VR in Sales? “It equips you with a virtual Fam tour; it immerses others in your experience; it brings with it the power of suggestion; it gives you the ability to integrate existing content into your website and social media; and it now has greater reach than ever before–VR users are almost doubling year over year, with the number of users now at 20 million-plus.” And, of course, for early adopters like Claycomb, it is a fun and unusual novelty.
Above: Chinese tour operators experiencing Sight & Sound VR presentation at 2017 Active America China in Portland.
What about the Cost? While the advantages seem to far outweigh the disadvantages of using VR for sales and marketing, Claycomb acknowledged that a good VR product is not cheap. One can cut costs, however, by using still photos, foregoing any voice narration, using in-house talent to do video shots, etc.
Ultimately, the price of a well-done VR product—this includes cost of the per-hour cost of professional filming (this can range from $2,000 to $4,000 a day for on-set work) and editing measures out at $10,000 to $15,000 per minute of finished product. Describing the cost as an investment, Claycomb put the amount into perspective by pointing out that $15,000 is equal to the passengers in four tour buses spending $50 per person.
The future is closer than you think. Already, Claycomb said, pointing out that:
—Apple, Samsung, Google, Sony and Nintendo are working on VR products.
—One company (Navitaire) has just released the first VR search-and-booking experience exclusively for travel—VR may become the new tour operator catalogue
—The first VR/MR amusement park, Spaces, is now open in China
—As hardware costs come down, there will be more consumer ownership and product offerings will go beyond gaming.
—Thanks to the advent of Google Cardboard (above) and smartphones, the average consumer doesn’t have to purchase high-end headsets. Google’s Cardboard app has been downloaded about 10 million times.
—Vimeo is offering third party hosting, providing an affordable way to increase your reach with less financial investment and greater distribution potential; there is no need to self-host.
—Websites featuring VR/AR will win more audience attention that competitors.
And finally, Claycomb’s recommendations for sites to follow:
- Above Interactive: www.aboveinteractive.com
- 360 Labs (featured at RTO Summit West): www.360labs.net
- PGP Studios: www.pgpstudios.com
- YouVisit: www.youvisit.com
- World of VR Tourism News: http://www.sightseeingnewsandviews.com
† For the Inbound Report’s take on Sight & Sound Theatres based on a visit to one of its performances, check out:
Quick! What Is America’s Number One Landmark?
While the news might not be useful for 2017 itineraries, the just released list of America’s Top 25 Landmarks—some might call them the Top 25 Place for Selfies—contains some enduring favorites whose images seem to convey just what, in the minds of both international visitors and U.S. residents, the USA is all about. And they are a must for future itineraries—Group or FIT.
Readers should note that a holiday itinerary that is hinged to the New York City-Washington, D.C. corridor will feature the location of 10 of the landmarks.
Summer’s Here: Must be Time For Dr. Beach and his Annual Ratings
And the Top Ten U.S. Beaches—Number One is Siesta Beach on Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida: Every year, Dr. Beach, also known as Stephen P. Leatherman, professor and director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University in Miami, seeks out beaches with the softest sand, cleanest shores, clearest water, best environmental records, safest shores and other criteria.
Siesta Beach in Sarasota, Fla. has “the finest, whitest sand in the world,” according to the Dr. Beach website. Actually it’s powdered quartz that has been deposited on the Siesta Key beach on Florida’s gulf side. It last held the No. 1 spot in 2011 and came in at No. 2 in 2016.
Notes about Dr. Beach: Stephen Parker Leatherman, also known as Dr. Beach, (born Nov. 6, 1947) is an American geoscientist, coastal ecologist, and author. He was the first director of the International Hurricane Research Center at Florida International University from 1997 to 2009. He then became professor and co-director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at FIU. Leatherman earned his Ph.D. in environmental (coastal) sciences from the University of Virginia in 1973. His annual Top 10 Beaches has become an annual news media event in the USA.
Europe’s Two Top Markets Don’t Trust Smartphones to Book Trips
… And other nuggets about the UK and Germany revealed: Nestled comfortably in the trove of a data contained half-way through Understanding the Travel Consumer’s Path to Purchase—thirty-five pages long, it is the latest whitepaper issued by the UK-based research firm EyeforTravel—is its confirmation that most travelers in the UK and Germany, especially Germany, are still stuck to their desktops as they get close to booking their travel.
Even though mobile devices are popular for initial search-and-investigate online trawling, consumers “are more likely to switch over to a PC or laptop towards the end of a journey than to head the other way and research on a desktop and buy on a smartphone,” says the report, explaining that “consumers continue to favor their traditional devices due to the complexity of comparing and buying a leisure travel experience. The multiplicity of factors that consumers need to consider, often over diﬀerent sites, products and tabs, naturally favors a larger screen.”
Another factor: There is also a trust and security perception issue with making major purchases over smartphones. EyeforTravel points out that a previous study found that “security risk and performance risk (i.e. poor product quality) are the most relevant to consumers when evaluating booking. “Although trust in m-commerce is growing and the value and number of purchases along with it, it continues to lag behind desktop purchases in the travel sphere” according to the report.
As can be seen in the two tables below, desktops and laptops continue to have a signiﬁcant lead in both accommodation and flight bookings in the UK and in Germany, particularly in the latter’s case. (The UK is the number one overseas inbound source market for the USA; Germany is the number four market; together, they account for more than seven million visitors a year to the United States.)
—In the UK, the combined share of tablets and smartphones is slightly more than a third in both cases, showing that mobile has made signiﬁcant gains but desktop remains king.
—In Germany, the lead is even more substantial, as Germans tend to be more conservative in their purchase preferences, also preferring brick-and-mortar purchase routes much more than other comparable Western countries. There, the combined market share of tablets and smartphones in accommodation and flight markets is 16 percent.
German and UK Accommodation Booking Rates by Method of Purchase
German and UK Flight Booking Rates by Method of Purchase
Is Expedia a Hotel Brand? The EyeforTravel whitepaper addresses several other issues and markets, as well as the overall global travel market. In terms of the global path to purchase, the report says that “it is clear that the OTAs have achieved a strong foothold.” For Catarina Randow, CEO and founder of Roddit and a former senior revenue management official at First Hotels, “OTAs are continuously strong” but this is because “they provide real beneﬁt to the customer.” Riko van Santen, vice president digital strategy, loyalty & distribution, Kempinski Hotels, agrees that the OTAs have been “doing a good job”, to the extent that “People in the [United] States for example, think Expedia is a hotel brand because it’s so well known. They think and associate a brand like Expedia with making a hotel booking.”
There is a wealth of information, as well as a number of useful tables, in the EyeforTravel whitepaper. Just let us know, and we will send you the PDF of the report.
New and Interesting Product
The new Park Theater at the Monte Carlo serves as the gateway to the Las Vegas Strip’s entertainment district and complements the recently opened T-Mobile Arena and the adjacent two-acre Toshiba Plaza. The 5,200-seat venue, with its cutting-edge audio and visual technology, features marquee artists of diverse talents with a dynamic space to create one-of-a-kind productions where every seat allows guests to feel up close and personal. From comedy shows and live concerts, to sporting events and award shows, Park Theater is specially designed with the ability to transform seamlessly for any occasion. For more information, visit: www.montecarlo.com/parktheater, or call (groups) 844.355.4346.
The Academy Museum of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences is revitalizing the historic May Company building on Wilshire Blvd. into the world’s leading movie museum in the heart of Los Angeles. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, the six-story Academy Museum will contain state-of-the-art galleries, exhibition spaces, movie theaters, educational areas, and special event spaces. The museum is planned to open in 2019. For more information, visit: www.oscars.org/museum, or call 310.247.3000.
Set to open November 2017 in New York City, the NFL Experience Times Square will bring the world of professional football to life. Including a 4D film with exclusive footage, interactive displays that dive into the NFL training regimen and game plan, physical challenges that allow guests to measure up against the pros, and championship memorabilia, the first-of-its-kind attraction will take fans from the stands to the field. For more information, visit: www.nflexperience.com, or call 646.863.0088.
Also in New York City, launching in fall 2017, National Geographic and SPE Partners will open a groundbreaking walk-through experience in Times Square with its debut attraction called “Ocean Odyssey.” Visitors will be transported to breathtaking places from around the world thanks to virtual reality technologies and interactive “real-time’ audience tracking. For more information, visit: www.natgeoencounter.com.
Visitors to Philadelphia will have another location to enjoy tax-free shopping. Opening in spring 2018, the Fashion Outlets of Philadelphia is one-of-a-kind metropolitan shopping experience bringing the most desired retail brands to an authentic, Center City setting spanning three city blocks. It will be the largest cohesive retail project in downtown Philadelphia. The outlets will be connected to Reading Terminal Market, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and three transit hubs on Market Street and just steps away from Independence National Park. For more information, visit: www.fashionoutletsphiladelpha.com
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Gary Vetri has joined G2 Travel as head of destination management, Hotel Division for North America. Vetri, a veteran in the travel industry, previously held management positions at Destinations of the World, AlliedTPro and GTA. G2 Travel is a dynamic worldwide wholesale tour operator, specializing in group-only land operations for the B2B travel industry.
G2 Travel has also appointed Esra Samrioglu as destination manager, hotel division, where she will oversee contracting for the northeast region of the U.S. Samrioglu brings with her years of experience, having held contracting positions at GTA, Hotelbeds and lastminute.com.
Sarah Dickson has left Destination Marketing Association International, where she was vice president, partnership. Previously, she was director of partnership development for Brand USA. Dickson also served as director of exhibitions and sponsorship sales for the U.S. Travel Association. Those interested in reaching Dickson, who is available for new opportunities, can contact her at [email protected].
Alexandre Mesquita has been named commercial manager for Hostway Travel, which is based in São Paulo, Brazil. He joins the company from Grupo Águia/ Núcleo Lazer, comprised of the operators Interplanet and Planeta Brasil, where he was commercial director. He was also a general manager of Sales of MMTGapnet.
Nish Patel has been promoted to the post of president of Mayflower Tours, based in Downers Grove, Ill., Patel, a 31-year hospitality industry veteran, has spent the past 17 years at Mayflower Tours. He was most recently chief operating officer of the company, and previous to that, was chief information officer. John Stachnik, the longtime president Mayflower who, along with his wife Mary are co-owners of the company, will move the position of chairman.
Hills Balfour has been chosen by Brand USA as its UK and Ireland representation agency, ending a five-year partnership with Black Diamond. The new partnership is initially for one year and was scheduled to start on May 30. Under the agreement, Hills Balfour will provide travel marketing, representation and PR to Brand USA. The company already represents several U.S. destinations, including NYC & Company, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, Hawaii and Palm Beach.
André Cadena has been appointed by Agaxtur, one of Brazil’s largest tour operators—it offers a wide range of product, including the USA—as an account executive to work in the state of Pernambuco, with a focus on the capital, Recife. Cadena has 15 years’ experience in the tour and travel industry, including tenures with Transmar Incentive & Bustiness Travel and the now-defunct operator, Nascimento.