What is behind the 5% Decline in Arrivals this year?
Overseas Traffic to USA down more than 5 percent in First Five Months of 2017: Released last week with little fanfare—there was no introductory e-mail summary of the information, as in the past—the latest preliminary monthly arrivals data for the first five months of the year by the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) had few encouraging statistical notes—except for an apparent recovery in the market from Canada. There, arrivals increased by 360,000 for the first five months of the year vs. the same period in 2016. Also, arrivals from South Korea were up nearly 20 percent (more than 140,000 visitors) for the same period.
What is Happening? For the data below, compiled by the INBOUND Report, one has to stretch the parameters of logic to find an explanation that is anywhere near positive for these numbers. It could be that the figures will realign themselves once the data from the peak travel months of summer are available. Or, it could be that what we see below reflects a reduction in demand by countries whose currencies are still weak vs. the U.S. dollar. (Note that traffic is up, year-on-year from Canada, which has experienced a strengthening of the Canadian loonie vs. the dollar.) Or, it could be that overall traffic is off by more than two percent vs. 2016 (and the first five months of 2016 were down vs. 2015) because some travelers from key markets are forgoing travel to the USA because of the unpopularity of U.S. President Donald Trump abroad.
TUI UK Blacklists 500 Customers
TUI UK blacklists 500 customers it says have made false or exaggerated claims of holiday sickness. The company sent its blacklist letter to more than 500 customers last week. The announcement comes in the wake of a court decision that results in the jailing of a couple who were trying to claim nearly £20,000 ($26,400) from Thomas Cook. Previously, TUI had reported a 1,400 percent increase in the number of holiday sickness claims made against it as the trade publication Travel Weekly (UK) launched a Fight Fake Claims campaign.
Dnata and If Only reach agreement on suit involving poaching of managers: Dnata has confirmed that a legal agreement has been reached that will prevent five former executives from starting their new jobs with competitor operator if Only until April 1, 2018. The action brings to a close nasty fight between the two companies that became public last month (See https://www.inboundreport.com/2017/09/26/nasty-fight-erupts-after-former-travel-2-and-gold-medal-execs-defect/). Last June, managing director Andy Freeth, sales and marketing director, Gordon McCreadie, product and commercial director Matt Appleby, head of sales Tracy Docherty and business manager for dnata’s Travel 2 David Irving resigned on the same day. All but Freeth, who was due to start in December, had been expected to begin their jobs at If Only last month, but dnata took legal action to prevent the team from starting work. Since the resignations, dnata Travel Europe has rebuilt its management team.
Thomson says rebranding as part of TUI costing “tens of millions”: Fifty-two years after its creation as a brand that became one of the most recognizable in the UK, Thomson revealed last week that is rebranding as part of TUI has is costing the company “tens of millions” of pounds. At the same time, TUI, which began a campaign to globalize its brand following the merger with parent company TUI AG in December 2014, will be retaining its First Choice and Crystal Ski brands after market research suggested that it would lose the majority of its customers if it went ahead with plans to adopt the TUI brand. : “Many of those customers wouldn’t have come to TUI with us, they just wouldn’t. We know this from lots and lots of market research we have carried out over the past three years,” said marketing director Jeremy Ellis. “”First Choice is a very different brand to Thomson and we couldn’t have named them both TUI. Crystal is also a strong brand on its own and TUI Ski couldn’t offer what Crystal offers.”
Selling to India’s 270 Million-Plus Vegetarians? Here’s Some Help
Just out—2017’s Best U.S. Cities for Vegans and Vegetarians: The recent release of the report by WalletHub, a Washington, DC-based online company that offers credit reports, credit scores and credit and financial counseling services, prompted us to review the study and its key components as a possible planning tool for operators, travel suppliers and DMOs that cater to the overseas market from India, which has the largest population of vegetarians in the world. At the top of the list of 50 best cities, based on a ranking that includes a number of measures, are: New York; Portland, Oregon; Orlando, Florida; San Francisco; and Los Angeles.
How sizable is the vegetarian market from India? While some 70 percent of India’s population of nearly 1.324 billion people are not vegetarian, about 29 percent of the population over the age of 15 are vegearian.
This translates into a vegetarian population (over the age of 15) of some 273 million people, which means that India has more vegetarians than the rest of the world’s nations combined. China, with an estimated 30 million vegetarians, is a distant second. Below is a map that shows the breakdown of vegetarian and non-vegetarian population in the country’s 29 states.
To determine the best and cheapest places for following a plant-based diet, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 100 largest cities across 15 key indicators of vegan- and vegetarian-friendliness. The data set ranges from the share of restaurants serving meatless options to the cost of groceries for vegetarians to salad shops per capita. Some findings:—New York has the highest share of restaurants serving vegetarian options, 56.25 percent, which is 2.6 times higher than in Newark, New Jersey, the city with the lowest at 21.72 percent.
—Orlando, Florida, has the highest share of restaurants serving vegan options, 31.14 percent, which is 8.8 times higher than in Chicago, the city with the lowest at 3.52 percent.
—San Francisco has the most community-supported agriculture programs (per square root of population), 0.0139, which is 17.4 times more than in San Antonio, the city with the fewest at 0.0008.
—New York has the most salad shops (per square root of population), 0.2666, which is 33.7 times more than in Laredo, Texas, the city with the fewest at 0.0079.
—And now, the list:
A Note on Methodology: In order to determine the best cities for vegans and vegetarians in the U.S., WalletHub’s analysts compared the 100 most populated cities across three key dimensions: 1) Affordability, 2) Diversity, Accessibility & Quality and 3) Vegetarian Lifestyle.
Researchers evaluated those dimensions using 15 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for vegans and vegetarians. For metrics marked with an asterisk (*), we calculated the population size using the square root of the population in order to avoid overcompensating for minor differences across cities.
Finally, WalletHub determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its total score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the cities in our sample. In constructing our sample, we considered only the “city proper” in each case and excluded surrounding cities in the metro area.
Why is Mobile Booking Skyrocketing in China?
A new analysis by Phocuswright Research seems to suggest to anyone genuinely interested in marketing their travel product or their destination to China—now the world’s largest source of outbound international travel—that the use of mobile app tools is a must. The latest numbers show that the share of online gross bookings made via mobile devices is growing rapidly worldwide. As such, it is critical for travel sellers of all stripes to understand where their audience prefers to book and how that preference is evolving. While the USA and most countries in Europe are experiencing promising growth in Mobile Booking Penetration (MBP), China is setting its own mark that is far beyond the world standard.
(Note: The Phocuswright analysis was released shortly after a new study sponsored by Jing Travel, which says that 95 percent of China‘s internet users use mobile to connect online, spending 2¼ hours every day on their phones—a total that equals, for the first time, for the amount of time they spend watching television.).
The Phocuswright analysis notes that China had already achieved 40 percent mobile booking penetration MBP by 2015. It now stands at 59 percent and is expected to climb to 77 percent by 2020, far outpacing the rest of the world. At the same time, the United States, which is far behind China at 22 percent MBP is expected to reach 30 percent by 2020; this will place the U.S. ahead of only France among key developed countries, and it will comprise less than half of China’s expected MBP.
What accounts for China’s lead in MBP is the size of its population (1.4 billion), which generates large user numbers regardless of share: China now hosts over 1 billion mobile subscribers, the majority of them on smartphones. In India (it also has a large population, with about 1.34 billion and a correspondingly large population of mobile subscribers), the majority of consumers only have access to basic mobile devices, which contributes to a relatively low MBP, explains Phocuswright.
One explanation for the high MBP is that Chinese online users never had much of a chance to use desktops, PCs or laptops. This is because broadband Internet and affordable PCs arrived relatively late in China, many Chinese never owned a desktop or laptop computer; the smartphone was their first device, making them “smartphone natives” who are much more likely to embrace mobile e-commerce. This environment fostered the popularity of WeChat, the world’s most advanced mobile messaging and commerce platform, which many Chinese use for daily tasks including messaging, making utility payments and ordering food delivery.
While the share of travel bookings taking place within WeChat is relatively small, the ubiquity and widespread use of WeChat Wallet and Alibaba’s Alipay are helping Chinese travelers become much more comfortable making large purchases on their phones than the rest of the world. In addition, Chinese OTAs Ctrip, eLong and Qunar have successfully enticed travelers to book on mobile with deep discounts and a smooth booking experience. (According to yet another recent study, from the Amadeus IT Group, the top three travel apps used by Chinese travelers are from Ctrip WeChat and Tuniu.)
As far as travelers from other key Asian markets are concerned:
—MBP in Japan is driven by Rakuten, which generated more than half of its overall online retail sales (not just travel) via mobile in 2016.
—In India, MBP is being galvanized in part by the popularity of mobile wallet solutions such as Paytm.
Meanwhile, travelers in the U.S.—says Phocuswright— are hanging on to their ingrained habit of booking on desktop or laptop (or through a call center, for that matter).
For WTM, DLR’s Custom House Station near Excel West Entrance Will be Closed
DLR trains will not stop at Custom House station until late December 2017: One of the main railway stations for London’s ExCeL Conference & Exhibition Centre, the venue for the upcoming (Nov. 6-8) World Travel Market (WTM), will be closed during this year’s show, disrupting travel plans for thousands of visitors.
Transport for London said Custom House on the Docklands Light Railways (DLR) , which WTM visitors use to enter ExCel via the West Entrance, has shut as part of the station’s infrastructure improvement for the new Elizabeth Line. In the meantime, DLR tells us that, for WTM:
• Visitors are advised to use DLR Prince Regent station, serving ExCel’s east entrance, instead.
• DLR will operate an increased frequency to Prince Regent and Royal Victoria stations between Tower Gateway and Becton, and Stratford and Woolwich Arsenal. Trains will serve both Royal Victoria and Prince Regent stations every 2.5 minutes throughout the duration of WTM London.
• For the West Entrance delegates are advised to use DLR station Royal Victoria (the stop before Custom House), the station is a seven-minute walk to the venue. Alternatively, dedicated WTM London buses run by Big Bus Tours and TfL will also transport delegates from Jubilee Line Station Canning Town to the West Entrance of ExCeL.
• Also, Emirates Air Line cable car, which goes to the West Entrance of ExCel is offering all WTM London delegates free travel for the duration of the event. It has an interchange with North Greenwich Underground Station on the Jubilee Line. The Cable Car can also be accessed from the Thames Clipper boat service, which sails from Westminster, stopping at Embankment, Blackfriars, London Bridge, Tower, Canary Wharf and The 02 (for the Emirates Airline).
• Delegates for the Travel Tech Show at WTM, Global Village, UK & Ireland, Africa and North Africa, Middle Eastregions and the International Media Centre are advised to access WTM London via the West Entrance of ExCeL.
• Delegates for Europe & Mediterranean, A Taste of ILTM at WTM, the Wellness Lounge, Asia Pacific/ Indian Ocean, the Americas and Caribbean regions and the WTM Global Stage and Networking Area are advised to use DLR stop Prince Regent to access ExCeL via the East Entrance of the venue.
• WTM London said it has previous experience of managing a successful event with a DLR station with access to ExCeL being closed. In 2009 Prince Regent Station and the East Entrance of ExCeL were shut due to the venue being extended. This meant all delegates used DLR station Custom House and the West Entrance of ExCeL.
At a Glance: Virginia Beach
VIRGINIA BEACH AT A GLANCE
- The opening of Academy Museum of Motion Pictures is now set for 2019, a date that seems within reach now that the organization has passed the $300 million mark in gifts from benefactors—the goal is $388 million—and will make the Academy Museum will be the world’s “premier institution dedicated to the art and science of movies.” Located on Wilshire and Fairfax in Los Angeles, the Museum, will be simultaneously immersive, experimental, educational, and entertaining. The venue’s two key structures include: the 1,000-seat state-of-the-art David Geffen Theater, which will host a range of performances, screenings, premieres, and events with the world’s leading filmmakers; and the six-story Saban Building, which will feature more than 50,000 square feet of exhibition galleries, a theatre, restaurant and a store. For the latest updates on the attraction, visit www.academymuseum.org.
- Opening Oct. 29 is the Take a Stand Center at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Illinois. Unlike any museum presentation in the United States, the facility tells the stories, comments, and answers to questions by 13 Holocaust survivors, in their own words, who appear as holograms in a 66-seat hologram theater, named the Abe & Ida Cooper Survivor Stories Experience. For the hologram project, each of the 13 survivors spent five days sitting in a chair in front of a camera. They had to wear the same clothes each day and answer 2,000 questions, often repeating their answers. They respond to questions that range from the profound to the mundane. While many Holocaust survivors have told their stories on video, this is a completely different experience, said museum CEO Susan Abrams, who led the project. “You develop empathy from human interaction,” she said. “And you learn best by actually doing something, and engaging.” Admission prices are: adult, $15.00; seniors (65+) $10.00; students (12-22), $8.00; children (5-11), $6.00; military personnel and up to three family members: 50% off. For more information, visit: www.ilholocaustmuseum.org.
- The U.S. National Park Service has given its preliminary approval for the display of R-Evolution, a 16,000-pound, 45-foot tall steel statute of a nude woman as part of “Catharsis on the Mall” (Nov. 9-12, 2017) in Washington, D.C.—coinciding with Veterans Day, and through March 2018. The huge work of art will be the main attraction at the annual Catharsis, a festival in the nation’s capital that has been dubbed a “Burning Man” for Washington. Burning Man is an annual desert festival that takes place in late summer in the western United States at Black Rock City—a temporary city erected in the Black Rock Desert of northwest Nevada. R-Evolution will stand in a yoga mountain pose near the Washington Monument facing the White House, depicting a strong woman feeling confident in her body. 2017 marks the third year for “Catharsis on the Mall,” which has become a popular event for visitors to Washington, D.C. For more information on Catharsis and other events taking place on the National Mall, visit: https://www.nps.gov/nama/index.htm. ((Editor’s note: Shortly after this item was posted, the U.S. National Park Service denied the request for a permit on the sculpture, citing height and other considerations.)
- Scheduled to open in December in New York City is SPYSCAPE, a new museum dedicated to the craft and practice of espionage. The new attraction spans seven galleries on Eighth Avenue and features artifacts and media depicting hacking, deception and intelligence operations, as well as a spy training program. Patrons will be able to enter an interrogation booth to test their emotional intelligence (For instance: Can patrons spot a liar?), their mental acuity in code-making stations and reaction times in tunnels armed with security lasers. The museum’s profiling system, designed by the head of training for a British intelligence agency, will then tell trainees which spy role they’re most suited to, according to the museum’s website. The 60,000-square-foot museum has been developed with the help of spymasters and hackers, as well as Archimedia, a British-based private investment group that says espionage skills are transferrable to everyday life. SPYSCAPE is located at 928 Eighth Avenue and will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is $39 a person. For more information, visit:https://spyscape.com/.
- Unscripted Hotels, a new lifestyle brand and hospitality concept from Dream Hotel Group, just opened its first location in downtown Durham, North Carolina following a $19.5 million dollar revitalization of the famous1960s property known as the Jack Tar Motor Lodge. The hotel has 74 guestrooms and five food and beverage venues, including a rooftop pool deck and lounge that will host events. The space maintains much of its original architecture and design. Dream Hotel Group CEO Jay Stein said that, with Unscripted, the company wants to “create a hotel brand that encourages integration and cooperation within hyper-local cities in a way that’s meaningful to the people who live here.” For more information, visit www.unscriptedhotels.com.
Receptive Tour Operator of the Week
New World Travel, Inc.
1040 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10018
Founded in 1979 in New York City, New World Travel is a 100-percent subsidiary of DER Touristik which, according to some measurements, is Germany’s top tour operator for long-haul travel. New World Travel brings approximately 450,000 passengers annually to the USA and Canada, with about 90 percent of them coming from Germany. With more than 120 employees working from offices in three major American cities, the company’s sales exceed more than $125 million a year. Over the years New World Travel has created a diverse portfolio of hotel products with over 3,000 hotels from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
The company’s president, Peter Dorner, is a familiar presence at numerous tour and travel industry trade shows and is a sought-after speaker and panelist at industry conferences and educational seminars. A visitor to a New World Travel office will hear multi-lingual employees conversing in a client’s native language as they hew to the spirit of the company’s motto, which is displayed on the home page of its website: “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” (Lao Tzu)
The TourOperatorLand.com website by the NAJ Group (it also publishes the INBOUND Report) has introduced both receptive tour operators, U.S. tour operators and international tour operators to travel product and services of U.S. travel suppliers and DMOs. Visitors to the website can use its exclusive Receptive Finder™ to find the right RTO. It is designed to help both the travel trade and travel suppliers find the right U.S. based receptive tour operator to sell their products on the international travel market place.
The receptive operators, who are vetted and qualified by the NAJ Group, also take part in at least one of NAJ’s RTO Summits series. The Summits take place annually in Los Angeles (Feb. 21-22, 2018), New York City (April 17-18) and Orlando (TBD, 2018). For more information, visit www.rtosummit.com.
TourOperatorLand.com and Open Table Make it Easier for Operators to Book Dining Groups
Tour operators and travel planners who’ve had trouble finding restaurants that cater to groups can now access more than 42,000 group friendly dining locations through a special partnership between OpenTable.com and TourOperatorLand.com, a B2B website that aggregates travel trade content for more than 90 destinations so travel planners can find it all in one place.
All major city portals on TourOperatorLand.com now include an “OpenTable® Group Dining” button that connects directly to the restaurants that offers dining for groups of 10 or more.
“Baby boomers and student groups are driving group growth in group travel, while, at the same time, Food tourism has exploded and is now a force in selecting a destination,” stated Jake Steinman, founder and CEO of NAJ Group, the parent company of TourOperatorLand.com.
The private dining section on OpenTable® is only available to the travel trade through TourOperatorLand.com—a site that is completely free and is used by over 4,500 travel buyers.
“Until now, operators were limited to a small group of mostly chain restaurants that they find at industry trade shows,” explained Steinman. “Our destinations tell us that they have to field scores of requests each year about this, and many are prevented from placing them on their websites for political reasons.”
To illustrate the scope of choices available to operators through OpenTable®, Betsy Cooper, TourOperatorland.com’s engagement strategist, pointed out that “Operators are able to sort group friendly restaurants by cuisine, price range, unique features, space availability for special events such as receptions and parties, and location. They can also use the site’s dedicated link to discuss special needs with any restaurant.”
For more information, contact Betsy Cooper: e-mail [email protected], or call 415-339-0578.
About TourOperatorland.com:TourOperatorLand.com (formerly TheTourOperator.com) is a FREE service produced by NorthAmericanJourneys.com (link) which has been marketing incoming tourism to North America since 1992 through a variety of specialized events and publishing projects. TourOperatorLand.com is the only travel site designed to be used by international, domestic and receptive tour operators, travel media, and travel agents researching new ideas for products.
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
In the UK, TUI has promoted Richard Sofer to the position of commercial director for the UK and Ireland. Sofer, who will begin his new job on Dec. 1, will have responsibility for the brand’s product offering, yield management and aviation planning. Sofer joined TUI UK in September 2016 as managing director of Thomson Cruises. Prior to joining TUI, Sofer worked for GLH Hotels where he held senior financial and chief executive roles.
W2M Wordl2Meet, part of Grupo Iberostar, has signed Jesús Marín as director of W2M Pro for Spain and Portugal. Currently the manager of Tour 10—he will join W2M Pro in November—Marin has led the company’s tour operator and booking platform for travel agents. W2M was founded in 2008 as NT Incoming and New Travelers and is 100 percent owned by Iberostar. It has receptive offices in a dozen countries, including the USA.
Funway Holidays has appointed Amy Shine to the newly-created role of product manager following a series of job changes at the tour operator. Her appointment follows the recent recruitment of Former Thomas Cook head of trade partnerships Audrey Brooks-Wiggins as head of sales and four other staff into newly created roles across the business, including Sam Robinson as marketing manager, Christian Brett as marketing executive, and Ayo Akinsala as operations executive. Shine most recently worked for Secret Escapes to develop its long-haul portfolio and previously worked for Cosmos and Your Golf Travel, heading up the group’s international product and commercial teams.
Amy Drummond, formerly business development manager for Scotland at Funway Holidays, has taken a job with AMResorts, which has a partnership with Funway.
Rachel Castaneda Mata has been appointed director of sales for Visit Santa Clara (Calif.). Previously, she was director of sales and marketing at the Hilton Hotel in Cupertino. Prior to that, she had worked at Visit Santa Clara s national sales manager, and served as a national sales manager for ARAMARK.
Olympic Holidays has announced the appointment of Donna Allcock as director of product and commercial next month. She joins from travelsupermarket.com where she was most recently channels manager. Before that, she spent almost 20 years at Thomas Cook. She takes on her new position two weeks after Clare Tobin was promoted to the post as CEO of Olympic Holidays. Tobin had been the company’s chief commercial officer.
Luciano Macagno, former country manager of Delta Air Lines in Brazil, is now director of Latin America for the airline, which has transferred its regional base from São Paulo to Miami. Macagno told the Brazilian travel trade publication, PANROTAS, that the new structure in Miami will allow Delta to be close to all Latin markets, large companies with regional headquarters in the city and the operations of about 100 flights of partner companies.
Marc Herrgott will take the helm at Windrose Finest Travel starting Nov. 1. Herrrgott comes from the IT provider Traffics, a well-known German firm that works with many tourism industry clients. Previously, he headed the product, service and fulfillment areas for TUI’s premium brands.
Dominique Young has been named product development coordinator for the Entertainment Benefits Group, the venue, attractions and entertainment ticketing company with offices in Orlando, New York and Las Vegas. She comes to her new post from New York Water Taxi, where she served for eight years in several different capacities, lastly as sales account manager
Lisa McAuley is moving to dnata Travel as managing director of travel of the operator’s Gold Medal/Travel 2 brands. She’ll be leaving her post as managing director for Silversea in the UK and Ireland. Previously, she worked for Avis for 15 years in senior commercial roles.