U.S. Company Acquires UK’s Barrhead Travel
The Minnesota-headquartered Travel Leaders Group, has acquired Barrhead Travel, the Glasgow-based travel agency which is one of the UK’s biggest retail travel firms. The Travel Leaders Group, according to last year’s Travel Weeky USA Power List of the top ($100 million or more in annual business) travel agencies operating in the U.S., ranked 9th, with sales for the previous year totaling $4.39 billion and 8,360 employees. Travel Leaders has some 7,000 owned, franchised or affiliated agencies.
Founded in 1975, the Barrhead Travel Group grew from a single high street shop to a travel giant with 900 employees across 61 UK outlets, including travel agencies, business travel offices and contact centers. The company says on its website that it is the UK’s leading independent travel group, booking more than 300,000 people on holidays each year. It emphasized that point that “it is proud of its relationship with the world’s leading tour operators.”
The acquisition came as a surprise in the tour and travel industry in the UK, as it had been expanding beyond its base in Scotland and into all parts of the UK. However, in 2016, Barrhead did appoint the accounting and financial counseling firm BDO to help it seek new investments for future growth. At the time, it had said the company was not for sale but was looking for financial backing to expand in England and globally. At the time, it had said the company was not for sale but was looking for financial backing to expand in England and globally.
Bill Munro, Barrhead’s founder and Chairman, and his daughter, Sharon Munro, chief executive, will maintain their roles in the company. No major changes in operations were anticipated, said Barrhead.
Travel Leaders Group CEO Ninan Chacko said: “Barrhead is a great addition to our family of brands. It’s an innovative, award-winning travel business that is on a trajectory for continued growth.
“Bill and Sharon Munro have devoted their careers to building this extraordinary business. We’re pleased that the Munro family is entrusting the future of Barrhead, its employees, agents and customers to our organization. We’re excited about this chance to expand our presence in Scotland and the UK overall and the opportunities this affords both companies.”
Florida’s now Cheaper than Short-Haul Spain for British Vacationers
The two-year decline in the number of international travelers visiting the United States has, according to one report, resulted in holiday prices for British travelers dropping by up to one-third. Researchers for Travelsupermarket said last week that a typical family could save up to £1,000 ($1,400) by opting for the U.S. over Spain as hoteliers drop prices.
As reported by Travel Weekly UK, the price differential has been exacerbated by demand for Spain forcing up prices in recent years due to demand switching from Turkey and northern Africa, according Travelsupermarket. The study also found that parts of the Middle East have become cheaper than Mediterranean destinations due to booming hotel room supply.
“Package holiday prices to Florida have dropped by as much as 35% year on year, following a slump in the sterling to dollar exchange rate in 2016, the Brexit referendum and a dip in worldwide visitor numbers after Trump’s inauguration,” said Travelsupermarket’s Emma Coulthurst, who added: “Brits have always been one of the US’s biggest markets and Florida, particularly Orlando, relies heavily on tourism and can’t afford for us not to go there. Hoteliers, tour operators and airlines have reduced their prices significantly in the hope of encouraging us back.”
As the table below suggests, the cost of purchases of goods and travel by British consumers in the Eurozone has increased in the past two years. Recall that “Brexit,” when the British voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, has resulted in a weakening of the British pound vs. the Euro), while the pound has regained its strength against the U.S. dollar following a post-Brexit decline.
Travelsupermarket studied the cost of a seven-day package for a family of four with school-age children during the half-term holidays at the end of May. It looked at prices to destinations in the western Mediterranean and the Canary Islands, along with Florida and the Middle East.
Hey, Big Spender! Chinese Millennials “Earn it and Burn it”
China is Responsible for a Third of Global Luxury Sales: A new survey shows that Chinese youth will continue to splurge on big brands, even as the country accounts for nearly a third (32 percent) of global luxury sales last year. There are a number of first-of-their-kind findings in the report on the survey, conducted by Boston-headquartered Bain & Company, the global management and consulting firm that also has offices in Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong.
Some of the more interesting revelations from the findings—they are based on a survey of 1,170 Chinese consumers—include the following:
—Mainland Chinese consumers start to purchase luxury goods at an earlier age than their peers in the West–and they buy more frequently.
—The average age of mainland spenders on luxury goods is about 35, which is 10 years younger than those in developed economies.
—Chinese shoppers account for 32 per cent of the total of $319.6 billion luxury sales consumption worldwide.
—The sales to Chinese shoppers include luxury consumption outside the mainland during their overseas travels and business trips.
(Bain said the young shoppers’ habits are typical of “Moonlight Clan” – those who spend all their monthly salaries, while looking to express their unique personality through distinctive looks. The young adults represent an economic departure from the spending habits of their parents in a country which has been known for its high savings rate.)
—The survey showed that 93 per cent of millennials (individuals 20 to 44 years old) will tend to buy more luxury goods in the next three years.
—Unable to provide a clear-cut figure for the total luxury spending by millennials, Bruno Lannes, a Bain partner, said that their average number of luxury purchases in 2017 hit eight, compared to five by other shoppers.
—Brands also aggressively increased the share of digital marketing spending on millennials in 2017 to woo the digital-savvy young shoppers. Digital marketing spending accounts for about 50 per cent of their total, compared to 35 per cent two years ago, the Bain report said.
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INBOUND on the ROAD: International Media Marketplace
INBOUND took part in the recent International Media Marketplace at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. Some 600 travel suppliers andjournalists attended the event, which is hosted by TravMedia, and is one of a series of seven such marketplaces held annually in locations in Asia, South America, Europe and North America. Following is a photo sampler of the tour and travel professionals who were part of the New York event.
Cathy Reynolds, manager, media relations and lead manager, IPW press operations,
U.S. Travel Association
Inbound’s next event: Connect Travel Marketplace
Vive les États-Unis! French Inbound Market up 5% in 2017
According to France’s authoritative Orchestra Gestour barometer for travel businesses, tourist departures in December 2017 were equivalent to those realized in 2016. And for the year (the period from January to December 2017 vs. 2016) is up, passenger departures were up 3 percent.
For long-haul departures, the Dominican Republic remained the leading long-haul destination for French travelers, despite a sharp drop (down 31 percent) in the number of passengers, while Thailand (+ 12 percent) and the United States (+ 5 percent) ranked 2nd and 3rd respectively are in an upward trend. Cuba (down 26 percent) and Mexico (down 20 percent) struggled last year, while Canada and Vietnam are growing by 20 percent in passenger numbers.
Most of the barometer’s numbers had to do with travel from France to European and short- and medium-haul destinations, where the figures were mixed, although there seemed to be recovery in passenger traffic to northern Africa.
While is not generally a safe practice to compare one organization’s long-haul travel numbers with that of another (differences in sample sizes and methodology can vary), the Orchestra Gestour barometer agreed, somewhat, with the latest estimate for 2017 furnished by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTT0) in the latter’s long-term forecast, which was released last month.
The NTTO estimate had 2017 traffic from France to the U.S. increasing 3 percent over 2016—1,677 million visitors vs. 1,628 million. The broader picture for inbound travel from France is encouraging.
Note: In our own 2018 Market Outlook, INBOUND predicted that inbound arrivals from France would increase “by at least two percent” this year. To access this document, click on the following link:
New Brand USA IMAX Film Debuts Next Week in D.C
Brand USA’s second IMAX® and giant-screen documentary, America’s Musical Journey, will have a premiere screening in Washington, D.C. on February 15, 2018 at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Narrated by Academy Award winning actor Morgran Freeman, and featuring visits to a number of U.S. destinations famous for their music, America’s Musical Journey celebrates “the diverse music and creative risk-taking spirit that characterize America.”
Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc serves as the de fact host of the film, as he traces Louis Armstrong’s footsteps through the colorful locales where America’s music was born—cities like New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, New York City, Nashville, Miami and more—and meet the artists, music makers, storytellers, and innovators who are shaping America’s culture today.
America’s Musical Journey is Brand USA’s second giant-screen production. The first, featuring America’s national parks, premiered in February 2016 and was a popular hit among overseas visitors to the U.S. It is still playing at some venues. Brand USA has already given the go ahead for a third giant-screen film by MacGillivray Freeman Films. It is scheduled to debut in 2020.
Based in Laguna Beach, California, MacGillivrary Freeman Films was founded in the mid-1960s by GregMacGillivray and Jim Freeman. It has produced documentaries, feature films, and IMAX films. In 2010, MacGillivray Freeman Films became the first documentary film producer to ever cross the $1 billion mark in gross box office.
For more information, visit www.americasmusicaljourney.com
114 Buyers Confirmed at Sold-Out RTO Summit West
NAJ’s RTO Summit West, the first of the RTO Summit series that bring together receptive tour operators and travel suppliers for a day of face-to-face business meetings, as well as a day of education programs and networking time, is a now sold out.
Scheduled to take place Feb. 21-22 at the Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey, California, the event proved so popular this year that NAJ had to re-configure conference space in order to accommodate the record number of receptive tour operators who have signed up to attend the Summit.
Jake Steinman, NAJ’s founder and CEO, said that 121 suppliers and 114 receptives/buyers (see list here http://www.rtosummit.com/west/attendees/) have confirmed for the Summit, exceeding the numbers for each year since the RTO Summit was launched in 2004.
“The RTO Summit West has established itself a must-see and must-do conference and trade show for U.S. travel suppliers who want to tap into the opportunity to do overseas business with receptive tour operators based primarily in southern California. explained Steinman. “On the basis of the way the pre-scheduling of business appointments has progressed, it appears that the second day of the Summit, the day on which the appointments take place, is booked solid.”
“The intensity of the interest on the part of both buyers and suppliers is indicative of a strong travel market in 2019 for Visit USA product in key Asian destinations,” said Steinman.
In addition to the RTO Summit West, NAJ also hosts the RTO Summit East (April 17-18 at the Wyndham New Yorker in New York City) and the RTO Summit Orlando, October 24-25, 2018 at the Omni Hotel and Resort in Kissimmee, FL.
First “Buy the Minute” Luncheon Program Debuts at RTO West also sold out. At this year’s RTO Summit West is the luncheon program, NAJ decided to forgo the practice of having a single sponsor, opting instead to make presentations available to multiple sponsors by offering the opportunity to purchase by the minute. All 10 minutes of the luncheon showcase will feature the following sponsors in a short but sweet “edutainment” format mixing video with live presentations.
Here’s Showcase Program.
1:15-1:17 PM: Robert Graff, Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters
1:17-1:18 PM: Donald Contursi, Lip Smacking Foodie Tours
1:18-1:21: PM: Chryl Collins, Sonoma Tourism Bureau
1:21-1:23: PM: Harry Wade: Duty Free Americas
1:23-1:25: PM: LaToya Grant, City Sightseeing
1:25-1:35: PM: Betsy Cooper, TourOperatorland.com Presented by: Betsy Cooper
Who Are the Industry’s Best Networkers?
The NAJ Group, publisher of the INBOUND Report as well as the TourOperatorLand magazine which is distributed every year to all delegates at the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW, is seeking entries to determine the top networkers in the tour and travel industry.
“The foundation of our industry is relationships. The quantity and quality of those relationships with buyers and, in some cases, colleagues, is the key to success,” explained Jake Steinman, founder and CEO of the NAJ Group, in announcing the competition. “So we wanted to showcase the industry’s top networkers and profile them in an article in TourOperatorland .
On February 15th, a “Call for nominations” will be sent out and industry members and responses will be collected. Those industry professionals receiving the most nominations will be contacted to assess their personal networks and social networks with buyers and colleagues, as well as their insights on networking.
“While measurable qualities such as the number of industry associations and professional groups that a person belongs to, his or her level of participation in national and international trade shows, number of friends on Facebook, number of connections on LinkedIn, recommendations and endorsements are important, remarked Steinman. “The best networkers are those who have helped others—whether they are buyers or peers—become successful.”
The exact time and place of the announcement will be announced later. More details will soon be available in an upcoming issue of the INBOUND Report.
At a Glance: Anchorage, Alaska
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HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Steve Hill has been named president and chief operating officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Hill, who comes to the job from his position as executive director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development, takes over the president’s slot from Rossi Ralenkotter, who remains as CEO. The move is part of a five-year vision plan put into place by the CVA’s board of directors in January 2016 which called for the hiring of four “C-suite” executives, including a chief operating officer, to support Ralenkotter. Ralenkotter has been with the CVA for more than 40 years and has been president and CEO since 2004.
Effective March 5, Josh D’Amaro, a 20-year Disney veteran and former Disneyland executive, will become president of the Disneyland Resort. He replaces Michael Colglazier, who will become president and managing director, Asia Pacific, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. D’Amaro, 46, most recently served as senior vice president at Walt Disney World Resort where he oversaw marketing strategy, sales and business development. He began his Disney career in 1998 as a senior business planner at the Disneyland Resort. Prior to his role at Walt Disney World, D’Amaro served as senior vice president, Resorts and Transportation, from 2014 to 2017, where he was responsible for the operation of Walt Disney World’s 26 resort hotels and the resort-wide transportation system.
Scott Warren has been appointed as a sales manager at the Virginia Beach CVB. Most recently, he was manager of the Virginia Beach Information Center. Warren has been with the bureau since the summer of 2003.
Tim Croyle, vice president, WestJet Vacations, has been appointed the new chairman of the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) and Brett Walker, General Manager Canada, Collette, has been appointed as vice chair for the 2018-2019 term.
Darren Neylon has been named the new CEO of the Ski Club, the UK-based operator that features ski product in a number of destinations, including many in the U.S., after a “robust” five-month recruitment process. Neylon replaces Frank McCusker who died of a heart attack while on a cycling trip last June. Neylon previously worked as managing director in finance, tourism and retail sectors with companies including Coopers & Lybrand, Macquarie Bank in Australia), SuperBreak and The Original Tour.
Amir Eylon, president of the tour and travel industry research organization Longwoods International, has also become a partner in the organization, which he joined in 2015. Previously, Eylon had been a senior official at Brand USA, as well as state tourism director for Ohio. Longwoods has offices throughout North America; its head office is in Toronto.
Adventure and activity specialist Exodus Travels has appointed a new managing director—Sam Seward, previously managing director of Gullivers Sports Travel and Travelopia’s schools travel business. He’ll take over from Pete Burrell, who retires in the spring after a handover period.
The Mexican airline Aeromar has announced that Dieter Holtz Wedde is joining the company, effective March 1st, as CEO to continue the process of consolidation and internationalization of the airline’s activities. He succeeds Andrés Fabre, who leaves the company after two years. Holtz previously served as president and CEO of Laureate Education Mexico. He has also served as general manager of national brands in the United States of Monsanto. Aeromar operates scheduled domestic services in Mexico and international services to the United States.
John Nixon, a veteran of more than 20 years with Carlson Wagonlit, most recently as global director of the company’s technical service centers, has joined the travel management and events company, ATPI, as global director of operations.
Hugo Lagares is leaving his position as sales manager with the Brazilian tour operator MMTGapnet. Lagares, who had been with the company for 10 years, gave no indication of his next professional stop. Rafael Magalhães has temporarily taken the place of Lagares.
Jane Chang, a long-time fixture in the tour and travel industry in southern California, is joining the Millennium Biltmore hotel in downtown Los Angeles, as executive assistant manager in charge of sales & marketing. Chan, who had with the Best Western International Executive Inn in Rowland Heights, California, and had launched her own consultancy several years ago, Chang is widely known in the industry for her expertise on the Chinese market and is a frequent speaker on the subject at tour and travel industry conferences and events. She starts her new position on March 1st.
Oleg Likhashkin, who had been the general manager for Inbound USA and Canada for G2 Travel, a company founded in 2012 by David Babai the former owner of GTA, returned to GTA last week to take over the position of senior market manager.