Top Trends in the U.S. Inbound Tour and Travel Industry in 2018
Though the past year was not the most stable and worry-free of periods for the U.S. inbound tour and travel industry, the trends that had been established and which held through 2017, could be less open to disruption from exogenous factors than they were at the beginning of 2017, when there was widespread concern that arrivals to the United States would decrease sharply in reaction to a Donald Trump presidency. But, things did not turn out as badly as feared.
The Big Picture:“Macro” variables that have an impact—such as global currency exchange rates, geopolitical issues (“Brexit” in the UK; saber rattling by North Korea; the “Trump factor”—that can’t be projected on to a trend line) and global security concerns that do not respect national borders concern us all.
And among these factors, that which has had the greatest impact on the trend line for international and overseas travel to the United States in 2018 and early 2019 is the currency exchange rate. INBOUND regularly follows the fluctuations among the world’s most traded currencies—the U.S. Dollar, Euro, Japanese Yen, British Pound and Canadian Dollar and a few others*—whose value against the U.S. dollar are shown from one year ago and two years ago.
Airlines: Air fares are usually the second largest component of a travel package (lodging being the largest) and for the past several years they have, for the most part, been a value for the tour operators abroad and U.S.-based receptive tour operators who assemble the packages that bring visitors to the United States. Last year, low-cost carriers—Norwegian Air, WOW, Wizz, Volaris, Viva and more—either flew directly to the U.S. or connected to U.S. flights at hubs in greater numbers than ever before. Competition was fierce enough that low-cost Air Berlin could not keep up and it went bankrupt last August.
Much of the same is in order for this year. Of particular interest is what is happening in Europe with the brands of the International Airline Group (IAG), which includes British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and two low-cost carriers: Barcelona-based LEVEL, launched last year, offering direct service to USA; and Vueling, a low-cost carrier also headquartered in Barcelona, but which also connects to Iberia in Madrid. Iberia, too, has low-cost flights to Barcelona. European and U.S. legacy carriers are operating at low margins and cutting costs elsewhere (with hedge contracts for fuel, for instance) in order to keep their fares low and competitive. Also, look for additional connectivity between second-tier cities in China and their second-tier counterparts in the U.S. as landing slot availability becomes scarce.
Attractions will continue to become a larger, more integral part of tour packages due to a combination of factors: the growth of what were once considered “extreme” activities such as indoor rock climbing and axe throwing through alternative media channels of distribution; the emergence of OTA’s and tech-driven RTO’s such as Hotelbeds, that can automate inventory of small-margin tickets and gated admission attractions so that they can be packaged dynamically with hotels. Additionally, new technological applications such as Bandwango, allow DMOs to join other entities as third-party sellers of attractions products.
Car Rentals will increase their share of the overall budget that visitors to the United States allocate to ground transportation, as Fly-Drive itineraries continue to increase among travelers from some markets—especially China—and some visitors to the USA have taken to caravan driving, eschewing the traditional tour bus or van (See “Group Sizes” below), both of which required an on-board guide. In particular, well-to-do Milennial travelers prefer to do it on their own. In China cars are being rented through intermediary companies that package car rental, with driver’s license translation and local guide.
DMOs are evolving from their historic role as an information sources /referrer of leads/and promotional agencies to marketing organizations that, through the social media and new digital tools, can trigger the intent to travel among website visitors, as targeted international campaigns are being delivered to consumers in source countries for as little as $5,000. The next trend will be to use social media tools such as video and Virtual Reality to help international tour operators to sell through packages that include a destination’s product
Group Sizes: FIT and Group Travel are undergoing, and will continue to undergo, a change in definition and dimension. Groups no longer comprise just 50 passengers who fill a traditional bus. The change is reflected in the fact that a growing portion of groups now use 12-passenger Mercedes Benz Sprinters. No longer is a step-on guide always a part of the group, as some travelers, especially Millennials, enjoy the freedom and flexibility of smaller groups. Further granulating the definition of the tour group is the PIT, or Partially Independent Traveler (as opposed to FITs, or Fully Independent Travelers) who might travel in small groups, but have more “on-your-own” time or time without a prepared itinerary. And then there is the rather obtuse definition of FIT among Chinese visitors—which can be defined as small groups of between 4-10 people traveling together who book hotel, air and a modicum of ground travel through travel agents or OTA’s.
Hotels in the U.S. are in the midst of a period of slow-to-flat business growth and occupancy, as demand has not kept up with supply in recent years. As the third quarter of 2017 came to a close, the big three hotel research firms—CBRE, PwC and STR—gave us this picture:
Whether this trend continues into and through 2019 (and it may) or has any impact on the ability of tour operators to wring lower rates or find larger allotments on more dates is open to question. But one thing seems certain: Hotels are squeezing every available potential source of revenue for all that they are worth, as they have replaced restaurants with “grab-and-go” soup and sandwich stations and, in some U.S. cities, have began slapping “urban destination fees” on to hotel bills for such extras as internet access, food vouchers and gym usage. This add-on was invented in Las Vegas, as a “resort fee” in the midst of the 2008-09 Great Economic Recession. As long as demand is soft, look for more add-ons.
Independent Hotels: As hotel corporate flag contracts lapse or ownership changes hands more hotels are opting for their independence to unshackle themselves from corporate brand regulations as consumers continue to reject the “cookie-cutter” in response to properties that more reflect the uniqueness of the local community.
Free Cancellation will no longer be emphasized as a hotel’s selling point. With average cancellations rates of 40 percent with booking.com, 28 percent on Expedia and 23 percent on a hotel’s own website, hotels will be pulling back on free cancellation services, which may shorten the booking window even further as international travelers realize they will no longer be able to book a hotel or air ticket without cancellation fees.
Technology-Driven Tourism: More a fact of business life than a trend, the way that the travel trade conducts both B2B and B2C marketing is tied to the latest development with the Google or Facebook algorithm and WeChat app. What has changed since the launch of the digital age (let’s agree that it took place in the third quarter of 2007 following the June 29, 2007 release of the first iteration of the iPhone) is the way that wholesalers interact with the travel suppliers and DMOs who deal with travel consumers, and it has changed in a fundamental way. It is a dynamic, not a static, process. No longer do consumers get their inspiration or intent to travel from a print ad that tries to appeal to a broad swath of the traveling public. Rather, increasingly, they are accustomed to, and moved by, targeted content-rich copy, video or sound that also incorporates an interactive element. The most recent developments seem to suggest an even greater dominance of mobile (vs. that for PC, laptop or tablets) applications and use. Also watch for: The growing presence of Virtual Reality (VR) in travel agent offices around the world promoted as “the next best thing to being there.” VR will work in combination with Augmented Reality (AR), where additional captioned information pops up within the video at designated places.
Testosterone Tourism—Product with Hair on its Chest: Visits to gun ranges, operating heavy equipment at faux construction sites, and indoor hatchet throwing in Philadelphia? Five years ago when the 2013 IPW was staged in Las Vegas, international and receptive tour operators got their first full look at a product development in its nascent stages: Testosterone Tourism. The phenomenon seemed to satisfy the desired of some visitors to the U.S. to get the type of rush they cannot get in their home countries by shooting machine guns at the several ranges from the Greater Las Vegas area exhibiting at IPW. The appeal of this sort of “Testosterone Tourism” (also referred to as “Adrenaline Tourism”) extends, in spirit, to the myriad zip lines, bungee jump variations, racetrack driving in exotic automobiles and virtual reality games in which patrons are made to feel like they are battling monsters directly out of a “Ghostbusters” movie—as they are at Madame Tussauds in Times Square in New York City. A solid trend into the next decade.
Tour Operators and Receptive Tour Operators: Mergers and acquisitions, globalization and finding the right combination of services and products in order to compete with OTAs will preoccupy and bedevil tour operators and U.S.-based receptives in 2018 and 2019. Last year, in what was arguably the biggest story in the tour and travel industry in 2017, Hotelbeds acquired GTA and Tourico Holidays. Then, Brazil’s largest travel agency/tour operator, CVC, acquired the Grupo Tour operation, followed by CVC signing an agreement with Japan-headquartered JTB Americas, in which the latter will sell Brazil product in U.S. markets. And another of Japan’s largest operators, H.I.S., acquired Canada’s largest receptive tour operator, Jonview Canada. As well, there were a number of agency and specialty operator acquisitions in key European markets. The principal reason for all of this is simple: travel companies want to increase share, fortify their presence in, or expand business by moving into, new markets—whether the traffic is inbound or outbound. Another development driven by the merciless nature of the marketplace is the departure from the industry of some long-time sales and marketing professionals from the receptive tour operator industry. Some have set up their own consultancies or home-based businesses as they struggle to stay a part of the industry. Others have gone on to other sectors of the economy.
The Trump Impact Year 2: Fear and Loathing. When news of the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States spread throughout the exhibit on the final day of the 2016 World Travel Market (WTM) in London, the mood of the event prompted many in the tour and travel industry to believe that the Rapture had descended upon mankind and that the end of inbound tourism to the USA was part of it. While it is true that a harsh feeling toward the new president has correlated with a decline in demand for USA product in some key country markets, it does not seem to have had any impact on the major growth markets of Asia. This could change dramatically if the administration, through miscommunication and pronouncements designed to shore up the president’s base, if the economic issue of our trade deficit with China becomes a political one whereby China is demonized in any way. To be sure, the dimensions of the impact of the Trump presidency are real. But greater than his effect on travel to the United States is that of the strong U.S. dollar. Once there are more data available from surveys that dig deep into the response results, we will have a better idea of the true Trump Impact.
Harassment Charges Create Headache for Visit KC’s CEO
Ronnie Burt, president and CEO of Visit KC, is battling to keep his job in the wake of lawsuit filed by the bureau’s former manager of human resources, as well as a call by the chairman of Visit KC’s board of directors that he resign.
The matter of Burt and his alleged harassment had apparently been simmering for most of 2017 before it became public in mid-December midst a series of allegations and counter claims that have observers wondering whether Burt can regain his standing and continue to lead Visit CEO in the future. Burt was named president and CEO of the organization in June 2014; he came to the job from Destination DC, where he had served as vice president of sales and services.
With public statements and news coverage cloaked in the type of language that one uses in situations involving human resource issues, it is difficult to get a clear picture of what is actually at issue in the situation, but the timeline seems to suggest that the matter was triggered when Burt fired Janette Barron, the former Visit KC human resources manager, who had worked for Visit KC for more than 20 years was fired, in March 2017.
Barron filed a lawsuit on Aug. 25, 2017, alleging that she had received complaints from multiple employees about “Burt’s harassment, bullying and retaliation of female employees.”
Earlier, on Oct. 25, 2016, according to the lawsuit, Barron, on the advice of Visit KC’s lawyers, had visited Kevin Pistilli, chairman of Visit KC’s board of directors and owner of the Raphael Hotel Group, and told him about Burt and requested an investigation into multiple complaints about harassment.
Barron’s lawsuit says that Barron told Pistilli that, in one instance, Burt had told a female employee at Visit KC that he “took a big risk hiring her knowing she was a single mom.”
Burt and Visit KC have not formally responded to Barron’s accusations, having twice requested extensions from Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Patrick Campbell. Both sides were scheduled for a Dec. 7 mediation session, according to court filings.
Then, following the Dec. 12 meeting of the board of directors, Burt wrote in a letter to the board that his authority as chief executive had been curtailed earlier in the year and that on Nov. 1, the chairman of the organization, Kevin Pistilli, had asked him to resign.
In the letter, cited by the The (Kansas City) Star, Burt referred to the Barron lawsuit and alleged that three unnamed employees of the organization have been “working in concert to discredit me both professionally and personally.”
“I am not sure that you are aware of this and it is my belief that you may have been intentionally kept unaware about it,” Burt wrote of Pistilli’s resignation request.
But In response, Pistilli said in an e-mail sent to the board of directors and revealed by The Star, “While some of the statements in Ronnie’s letter are accurate, other are inaccurate either in whole or in part, and fail to provide relevant facts, context and the full picture.”
There was a Dec. 22 closed door meeting of Visit KC’s executive committee to discuss the matter of Burt, but none of the participants would comment on what took place at the session.
For the record, according to The Star, Burt made a $250,000 base salary in 2015, the most recent year in which the organization filed its tax return. His total compensation for that year was $383,775 when accounting for bonuses, incentives, benefits and deferred compensation.
Visit USA Traffic from UK may Brighten in 2018
The official arrivals numbers that the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) put out just before Christmas and covering the month of September showed that year-to-date (January through September) departures for North America totaled 3,601,000—down 2 percent from the 3,112,000 registered for the same period in 2016, even if the month of September was stronger than it was in 2017. (Note: generally, about 90 percent of visitors to North America are destined for the U.S.)
Meanwhile, as the 2017 calendar year passed into history, two generally reliable industry authorities—ABTA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)—issued year-end reports that, while not buoyant, were positive in their prospects for what 2018 holds for travel to the USA from the UK. Some highlights from the two reports:
—CAA said last Thursday (Dec. 28, 2017) that three million people were expected to book their holiday for the coming year within the next seven days, with more people expected to travel to the U.S. in 2018 than they did last year.
—According to CAA, Spain remains the top holiday destination for next year, while the U.S. is second on the list. Italy, which was the number-two destination in 2017, has dropped one place. The rest of the Top Ten are: 4.Greece; 5. France; 6. Portugal; 7. The Caribbean; 8. Australia; 9 Canada; and 10. Cyprus.
—Despite the weakness of the British pound driving up costs, the popularity of the U.S. is stronger than ever with over a million more people looking to travel to America than 2017.
—ABTA research shows a notable increase in people planning to spend more on their holidays in the next 12 months: More than three in ten people (31 percent) plan to spend more, compared to 24 percent who said this in 2016, with only 14 percent of people planning to spend less.
—Early bookings for overseas holidays also appear strong for 2018, with industry figures showing bookings for next summer tracking 5 percent above last year. This may be a reflection of the growing trend for early booking, with people keen to secure their preferred resort or destination in an increasingly competitive market.
—City breaks and beach holidays are expected to remain the top holiday choices for 2018
—Over half of all holidaymakers (51 percent) are planning to take a city break and 47 percent are planning to take a beach holiday, an increase on numbers in the past 12 months.
—Almost a quarter of people (23 percent) are thinking of taking an all-inclusive holiday in 2018, with young families particularly attracted to this type of holiday, 34 percent of whom expect to take one in 2018.
—More than a third (36 percent) of Brits are confused about how Brexit will affect their holiday plans, with only 19 percent feeling well informed about the implications of Brexit. In spite of this, nearly two-thirds of people still intend to travel to Europe in the next 12 months, suggesting that British holidaymakers remain committed to Europe as a holiday destination.
Don’t Cry for Argentina—Despite Reports of Decline, a Boomlet to the U.S. may be Coming
In a trend line that is otherwise inexplicable according to standard analytics, Argentine consumers have been traveling internationally and overseas in steadily growing numbers for more than a decade and appear to be expanding their numbers for the foreseeable future, including 2018. Within three years, the country should, according to a forecast by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) send more than a million visitors a year to the USA and become the No. 10 overseas source market for the United States. In the meantime, Argentine travelers will spend more abroad even as its currency, the peso, has declined by more than 60 percent against the dollar over the past five years.
Despite the increase (in value) experienced by the dollar every day, reported REPORTUR.com.ar, a travel trade news site, Argentine tourists abroad are spending more abroad on shopping in a trend that should increase in the summer of 2018. The following table illustrates how, since 2003, there has not been a year-on-year decline in the number of visitors to the United States, as well as forecast data from NTTO indicating that year-on-year increases will continue through 2021.
“Argentina is preparing for a new ‘boom’ in the levels of outbound tourism as the high season of 2018 approaches,” said the publication, adding, “and this is confirmed by some top firms surveyed by REPORTUR—Catch It, Avantrip, HotelDo, Top Dest—that contemplate a strong growth for the coming year.”
One factor driving the increase is the growing practice of many Argentines to finance a trip by paying for in installment payment plans that range from 12 to 18 months—a practice that has long been in place in Brazil. As for spending abroad, Argentineans’ expenditures abroad have been at such high levels that government officials are concerned about the size of the deficit they expect will result from greater spending by its citizens traveling abroad than the amount of spending by international visitors to Argentina.
As the chart below, the Argentine peso has declined dramatically vs. the U.S. dollar over the past five years—from a high of $0.20 five years ago to about $0.05 recently—a 75 percent decline. It should be pointed out that the exchange rate was relatively stable for most of 2016 and 2017.
Currency exchange rate (Argentine peso vs. U.S. dollar) as listed from Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2017)
In trying to explain the situation in Argentina, INBOUND’S 2018 Outlook for Top Overseas Markets put it this way: “One factor that changed the economic environment was the election in December 2015 of a new president, Mauricio Macri, former mayor of Buenos Aires. Even though Argentina’s economy continued to function during the “blue dollar” days, it has really prospered in the past two years and, along with it, the outbound tourism industry has prospered as well.” For 2018, INBOUND has forecast a 5 percent increase in the number of visitors from Argentina.
Births in Japan Declining: Are Women Giving Up on Love? 25% of Women Fall Asleep on their Dates?
Japan’s economists, already worried about replacing a work force that is growing old and gray, along with Japan’s tour and travel industry, which has been concerned about an expected decline in the size of the prime travel age group of 25-54-years old, have just been presented with some new data from Japanese government officials that very well justify the worry and concern. Consider the following:
—According to statistics released by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the number of babies born this year is likely to slip below 1 million for the second consecutive year. The country is expected to have produced 941,000 babies in 2017, the lowest since surveys began in 1899 and about 36,000 less than the previous year, government data showed.
—Births in Japan peaked in 1949 at about 2.70 million. But that has since changed and recent population trends continued as estimated deaths for 2017 stood at 1.34 million, the highest in the postwar era and up some 36,000 from the previous year.
—The natural decline in the population was estimated at 403,000, the highest ever and up by about 72,000 from the previous year.
—The number of marriages in 2017 dropped to 607,000, the lowest in the postwar era and down 14,000 from the previous year.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to resolve the dual challenges of the country’s aging population and declining birth rate by increasing support for child care and education, while his government has set a goal of raising the total fertility rate to 1.8 by around 2025.
Source: “Aging of Japan”—Wikipedia
Meanwhile, although the Japanese government (as well as its tour and travel industry) want more babies who would grow up, fill the workforce and spend money on travel, the women who might be able to have them seem to care less and less about finding men to help them create babies. A recent article in the Japan Times, said that 60 percent of eligible women say they cannot feel relaxed enough to get interested in renai (love relationships).
“As sad as it sounds,” intoned the Times, “the nation’s women appear to have joined the ranks of men as overworked employees, too drained from the daily grind. Specifically, women appear to be fatigued by the alternative — shokubano ningenkankei (workplace relationships) — and avoid going out on random dates, as they have now become synonymous with stress.”
In fact, one in four has confessed to having fallen asleep during a date. So, asked the Times, “Have Japanese women given up on love?” The answer: “A cautious ‘yes, sort of’ seems to be the answer. While that may indeed be the case, they have not given up on marriage. Although few women have the time or inclination for the rollercoaster ride of love relationships, a whopping 80 percent told cocoloni.jp they wanted to find a husband and settle down. They’re seeking antei (stability), preceded by a sumptuous wedding that would wow multitudes on Instagram.”
Never the Twain Shall Meet? The numbers are reversed when it comes to men. Sixty percent of those surveyed say they are not interested in marriage but close to 80 percent claim to want girlfriends. These men view marriage warily, aware that tying the knot will involve complications and baggage they aren’t ready to take on. Marriage would also cramp their style and eat into precious disposable income.
The Times article explores other reasons for the reluctance to get married, which include long working hours, the absence, for some, of guaranteed maternity and paternity leave and workplace environments. Addressing these issues, said the Times, “will go a long way in getting women to think about love.” But, adds the Times, “until then … the combination of pajamas and a couch remains irresistible.”
Beyond the Gateways: Ohio Ratcheting up International Visitor Counts
As an overseas destination for travelers to the United States, Ohio doesn’t register among the top ten states. Nor does it even make the top 20. But, buoyed by some major attention-grabbing events in the past several years, along with its selection as a new destination/connecting hub for low-cost international carriers, the state is bucking the flat-to-less-than-zero-increase trend in international arrivals.
For the Ohio officials, as well as the DMOs in the state who have been working the international market over the years, the state’s increased profile is no mistake. Building steadily, the number of overseas arrivals increased in the decade of 2007-2016 by more than 25 percent—from 311,000 visitors in 2007 to 391,000 in 2016.
Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Travel and Tourism Office
There is no special magic to the state’s international marketing efforts. What works is the combination of promotions that include special events that give the state and its major cities visibility on a global scale; working as a part of a regional effort; and, well, kismet (i.e., it doesn’t hurt to be in just the right place in the United States as low-cost international airlines are looking for less crowded, non-gateway places to establish new routes into the USA).
Special Events: Last year, Cleveland hosted the Republican National Convention, an event that attracted worldwide attention. For the third year in a row, it was one of the two host cities (the other being Oakland/San Francisco) whose basketball teams played in the NBA Championship Finals—an event that has a global following. Likewise, the annual induction ceremony into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—it takes place April 29 this year in Cleveland—is a major draw for those who follow and the news media who report on, the musical genre that was born in the USA.
Regional Approach: The Great Lakes USA (the region it represents comprises Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania) has a high profile at international trade shows and has benefited from a 16 percent over the past five years.
Kismet? It is no secret that Ohio is not a gateway destination or a top ten destination. However, returning visitors who have visited such places at New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas begin looking for destinations and experiences that are “beyond the gateway”—places such as Ohio and the Great Lakes Region. And it is helping the state now that Brand USA’s programs abroad feature secondary and tertiary destinations. At the same time, new and/or low cost international carriers have found it easier to make connections to places such as Cleveland. (See screen shots below of the websites from WOW airlines and Icelandair.) Both carriers will launch service to Cleveland in May 2018, and WOW will start service to Cincinnati the same month.
The bonus for Cleveland is that both WOW and Icelandair will connect from major cities throughout Europe and the Middle East through their base, Reykjavik’s Keflavik International Airport.
At a Glance: Fairfax Virginia
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HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Rolando Aedo has been promoted from his post as executive vice president and chief marketing officer of the Greater Miami CVB to chief operating officer (COO). Aedo has been with the CVB for more than 22 years and has served in a variety of capacities.
Barry White is leaving his post as president and CEO of Augusta (Ga.) CVB to take on the job as president and CEO of the Chattanooga CVB. White has been with the Augusta bureau for nearly 26 years. He joined the organization as director of sales and three years later became president and CEO.
Noreen Valera has left her post as director of sales for San Francisco Helicopters and has retired. Valera was well-known from her he nearly 28 years with San Francisco Sightseeing/Gray Line/Coach America where she was director of marketing and sales.
The Port of Vancouver USA has hired Alex Strogen as its chief commercial officer. Strogen will join the port Jan. 16, 2018. Prior to joining the port, Strogen served for six years as a senior global category leader for General Electric Global Operations. He has also held positions with major ocean carriers, including American Roll On Roll Off Carrier, APL and Maersk Line.
John Constable, group chief executive of STA Travel, has announced that he will be leaving the company to take up a new opportunity, which will be announced in the new year. Reinhard Kotzaurek, managing director, Central Europe, has been named as Constable’s replacement and will take up the role in January. Constable has been with STA for 12 years.
Watson Li has joined NYC & Company as regional director, International MICE, serving the Asia Pacific, Africa and Middle East regions. Li joins NYC & Company with almost ten years of sales experience with Starwood Hotels & Resorts. He previously served as account director for the New York Metro Market. Prior to that position, he worked in sales roles at The Westin New York Times Square, in Starwood’s global sales office in Guangzhou, China, and at The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou.
Sarah Weetman is joining the tour operator G Touring as head of trade sales. She will be responsible for all trade relationships for escorted tour brands Travelsphere and Just You, having previously worked as head of trade sales at All Leisure Group until June 2016. Most recently, Weetman served as head of retail for Royal Caribbean.
Avianca Brazil has a new senior marketing manager: He is Arthur Sorelli Furtado, formerly of Tam Travel and Latam Travel, where he worked for more than three years in the international products area in Brazil and Chile. Sorelli replaces Flavia Zulzke, who left the company last September. The new manager responds directly to President Frederico Pedreira and Vice President Tarcisio Gargioni.
Also in Brazil, Heber Garrido has left Grupo Transamerica / Alfa, where he was executive director of the São Paulo-based company. Garrido worked in the group from 2000 to 2004 and from 2007 to 2018.
Managing Director Tracy Sharp will head up a new fully-fledged tour operating division at online travel agency Travel Up as the company launches a holiday packages division. Sharp was recruited from rival online agency Jetline Travel.