Despite Brand USA Efforts, US Share of World Market Drops to 20 Year Low
Earlier this year, INBOUND prepared the following table, which tries to put the “market share” aspect of declining international visitation to the U.S into perspective. What happened to the USA’s share in the past 20 years, including the five-plus years that Brand USA has had to mount a marketing program abroad? From 1998 to 2017, the U.S. share has fallen just over 23 percent, or 1.78 percentage points. At first blush, the 1.78 percentage points seem small. But realize that one per cent of the global total for 2017 amounts to 22.8 million.
Shooting Ranges are New U.S. Travel Experience for Wealthy Chinese Travelers
And, if you want to spend more, there are trophy killing vacations elsewhere.
For wealthy Chinese travelers who believe they’ve seen everything on their travels, it appears that the world outside China has some places they haven’t seen—places that allow patrons to handle weapons of all sorts and to engage in hunting expeditions that enable them to shoot and kill live prey.
Sixth Tone, an esoteric website* that publishes in-depth articles on a wide range of subjects about China, recently introduced its readers to a new subset of Chinese travelers looking for new experiences who have found one that features visits to U.S. sites that enable them to do something they would not be allowed to do in China—handle and shoot firearms. (For the complete article, visit: http://www.sixthtone.com/news/1002071/the-gun-loving-chinese-tourists-hunting-for-new-thrills. But be advised: the article contains some photos of animal carcasses that some might find disturbing.)
The focus is first on a young tour company, Joy One World (INBOUND was unable to find its website or any source material in English) that was founded in 2016 by Ge Lu, a 31-year-old entrepreneur who had been fascinated by guns growing up—seeing them being used in movies and in video games—and who eventually made her way to destinations worldwide in which she would visit shooting ranges.
Then she visited Texas and found a place where she could hunt wild boar. Fast forward the story to the present, after Ge, with the cooperation of an unidentified tour operator in Texas, started her tour company, Joy One World, which offers hunting trips and gun experiences to Chinese travelers in cooperation with a U.S.-based tour company. An 11-day tour package, including gun practice and both night and helicopter hunting, costs a guest $20,000.
The type of patron who purchases such a tour varies, but the profile seems to be a well-to-do 35-to-50-year-old male who has done everything and is looking for a new experience. Since handling a gun and shooting prey is something almost no one in China does, the “lock-and-load” itinerary seems to satisfy the yearning of such travelers.
But There Are Other Destinations, too: For those who can bear the discomfiture, the Sixth Tone article describes hunting forays by other wealthy Chinese which feature a photo of a hunter and his polar bear carcass and another of the male hunter with a dead giraffe, whose head and neck are draped over his shoulder. It all makes for some pretty bracing reading, as well as a window into a market sub-segment that we were not aware of until we saw the Sixth Tone article.
* Sixth Tone (www.sixthtone.com) is a Shanghai-based news site that describes itself thus: “There are five tones in Mandarin Chinese. When it comes to coverage of China, Sixth Tone believes there is room for other voices that go beyond buzzwords and headlines to tell the uncommon stories of common people. Through fresh takes on trending topics, in-depth features, and illuminating contributions, Sixth Tone covers issues from the perspectives of those most intimately involved to highlight the nuances and complexities of today’s China. We are a team of writers, editors, and researchers from within China and abroad. We belong to Shanghai United Media Group, and share our offices with our sister publication, The Paper.”
New Products to Watch Out For
Just in Time for IPW in Denver—the Host City Becomes Newest CityPass Destination
It was announced last week that the newest North American destination to offer the CityPASS® bundled admission to popular visitor attractions is IPW host city Denver. This increases to 13 the number of destinations for which travelers can purchase CityPASS. The new Denver CityPASS C3/C4/C5 ticket is a mobile ticketing concept that allows users to select any three, four or five attractions from a list of eight top sights. The ticket is delivered directly to the purchaser’s email, which can be saved to their smartphone and easily scanned at each attraction.
The list of attraction options includes: the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus; Denver Art Museum; Denver Botanic Gardens; Denver Museum of Nature & Science; Denver Zoo; Downtown Aquarium—Denver; History Colorado Center; and Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. Retail Pricing for Denver CityPASS tickets starts at $39 for adults; $29 for children, age 3-11. For more information, contact either [email protected], or [email protected].
Route 66 in OklahomaAppeals to International Visitors
Receptive tour operators who are putting together product for overseas visitors might have an unexpected sleeper in historic Route 66—America’s “Mother Road”—which attracts millions of visitors each year, with about a third of them international visitors. The spike in international traffic is due in, no small part, to well-developed infrastructure of sites and services aimed at accommodating both groups and FITs. For instance, there are the following museums:
—Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton—This particular attraction, which is also the largest museum dedicated to Route 66, tells the history of the Mother Road by decades. Each year, over 50,000 visitors come in to tour the museum.
—National Route 66 and Transportation Museum in Elk City—This attraction shows what the Mother Road meant “back in the day,” and what it represents in retrospect. Jim Mason, with the City of Elk City, says “(It) kind of takes you through all the different stages of the whole process.”This particular museum has an eclectic collection of old vehicles, as well as artifacts that represent Route 66 in its heyday.
—Route 66 Interpretive Center located in Chandler—As is the case with the two previous museums, Route 66 Interpretive Center located in Chandler features interactive exhibits that cover such subjects as vintage postcards, neon lighting, vanished icons, current roadside attractions and more.
To find out more about Route 66 and the destinations along what is also known as the “Main Street of America,” operators interested in group tours, motorcoach information, sample itineraries and a searchable tour planner should visit: https://www.travelok.com/group_tours.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours in Las Vegas
Receiving rave reviews for its unique product, Lip Smacking Foodie Tourshosts food tours with visits of up to five of the top restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip or in the city’s Downtown. Guests become VIPs—with immediate seating, three-to-four signature dishes at every restaurant and a guided walking tour between stops packed with insider information on Las Vegas and the sights along the way. Top notch, specialty food and drink are set down immediately with chefs offering greetings and cocktails prepared tableside. For more information, contact the group’s president, Donald Contursi, at 702.289.4796, or at [email protected].
Museum for Lynching Victims in America Opens: Just opened during the last week of April, The Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, presents and explores the brutality and the scale of lynchings throughout the U.S. South between 1877 and 1950, when more than 4,000 black men, women and children died at the hands of white mobs between—a fact documented by Equal Justice Initiative, a Montgomery legal rights organization that raised the $20 million it took to building the memorial and its accompaning museum. One will see the name of every lynching victim, as well as other exhibits featuring photos, recordings and interactive locations. Thus far, the new attraction has received rave reviews. Ticket prices range from free (for children six and under) to $10. For more information, visit: https://museumandmemorial.eji.
Celebrating IPW at 50 Years: What Was Your Most Memorable Moment, Kim Priez and Timo Kohlenberg?
As we prepare to gather in Denver in less than two weeks (May 19-23) for the 50th edition of IPW—the most important event on the inbound tour and travel industry’s calendar—the INBOUND Report shares recollections of and about the event from those who have been a part of IPW (formerly Pow Wow) over the years. This week, we feature the recollections of two well known tour and travel industry leaders: Kim Priez, senior vice president, New Orleans CVB; and Timo Kohelnberg, president and CEO of America Unlimited.
Kim Priez: “At the 1990 Pow Wow in Orlando during Disney Hollywood Studio’s event, I participated in a Dick Tracy live action skit. We were having so much fun we did not realize the party was over. The staff never told us. They walked us out to a deserted parking lot – no buses – no people – totally empty with the exception of a small van to take me and two clients back to our hotel. Now that is hospitality! Those clients are now my dear friends.”
Timo Kohlenberg: “My favorite IPW was Miami Beach (2009) when they closed off South Beach for IPW and everyone was wearing white and all the great bands were playing on stages. I loved it.”
Meet Jeenie™at IPW: A Live Interpreter in your phone—Part III
How Jeenie Selects its Interpreters for Your Real-Time Needs: Last week, INBOUND told you what makes Jeenie “the-first-live-interpreter-in-your-pocket-app.” With three swipes of your thumb, you’ll be talking face-to-face with your interpreter, who has been selected based on the language and cultural environment of your situation.
This week, we asked another question of Kirsten Brecht Baker, who will be sharing a booth (#343) at IPW with TourOperatorLand.com, a division of the NAJ Group, which publishes INBOUND: How do you select and match an interpreter with someone who is seeking one?
Here’s what she told us: “Our linguists are tagged to provide not just language help, but cultural advice as well. If they’re a native speaker, and they’ve spent five years in another culture, they’re tagged for that.
“If a traveler arrives in Beijing, she’s tagged for Zhang. She is also tagged for San Francisco. And he’s tagged for Beijing because she’s from there and he’s from there.”
Zhang understands the culture she’s from and the culture she’s going to. So, it’s not just language help or solving a problem that’s involved, but it’s providing culture assistance. That’s something none of the other services are equipped to do.”
Inside Brand USA’s Performance Review Meeting
The board of directors of Brand USA met last week in what they call its performance review meeting, taking stock of how well it is doing its job promoting the United States travel brand internationally.
Midst a wave of charts and bulleted tables, one of the basic measures provided some good news. Said Anne Madison, chief strategy & communications officer, “We believe that overseas visitation grew approximately 4 percent at the same time global international travel increased in 8 percent and long-haul travel increased almost 10 percent.” It’s not quite clear where the four percent came from, although Madison said that Brand USA used data sources other than the U.S. National travel and Tourism Office (NTTO), which announced early last month that it was suspending reports of monthly international arrivals data due to problems with the collection and preparation of information it receives from the Customs and Borders Protection, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security.
But, Madison added, “Although we performed better than previously reported compared to the rest of the world … the rest of the world is gaining market share. We are still number one in spend and number two in visitation.”
The real downer for the meeting was provided by the results of Brand USA’s Partner Satisfaction Survey, which provided some less-than-stellar results in the way the agency’s partners rated the agency’s “Clarity in communications,” a rating which also affected the way partners rated Delivery Against Expectations.”
The results chart prompted Madison to observe, “One of the areas that we are really focused on improving is our clarity in communication. I think that part of the challenge has been that you have so many amazing programs across the world that it can be overwhelming for our partners when you throw many different things at them.”
She added, “Karyn’s (Karyn Gruenberg, senior vice president, partner marketing & strategic alliances) team has been hard at work in streamlining their communications and their program options to make things easier to understand.”
Asked for his thoughts on the numbers, Tom Garzilli, Brand USA’s chief marketing officer, said “It’s reflective of a maturing as an organization … We now have partners who have been participating with us for four and five years. So, it’s made us re-focus … We kind of knew going into the year that we needed to look at a lot of this. We’ve kind of reorganized our partner development and partner services team to be able to be closer to partners and to communicate better. We’ve taken a really good look at optimizing our program offerings … to get them to a more manageable number. For a long time, we were about trying to get as much product in the market with as many propositions for partners as we could, and now we’re finding which ones are working better than others and optimizing that.”
“Ultimately, when you look at current participation in our programs,” he added, “we are doing quite well; we still feel really strongly about where we’re going to be, but obviously you have to be thinking about this every day. We just will continue to optimize all of these deliverables.”
John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota and vice chair of the board, asked Madison, how the results broke out based on the size of the organization responding or its status as a public or private sector entity? Madison explained that the pool of respondents to the survey was a cross section, not concentrated in any one sector of membership.
Board Member Rossi Ralenkotter, president and CEO, Las Vegas CVA, who started out as a researcher for the CVA, had several questions about the size of the sample survey (150 organizations received the survey, with 50 of Brand USA’s roughly 800 partners responding.)
In addressing the problem raised by the survey results, Garzilli noted that “one of the things we’re working looking toward a development of a portal for reporting Here’s what we did and here’s what you’re got We’re working on automating that.”
The Good News: Brand USA used the occasion to announce the results of its ROI survey, indicating that more than 5 million additional visitors visited the United States in the past five years as a result of its marketing and promotional efforts.
The results of the ROI study, conducted by Oxford Economics, showed the significant contributions the organization has on international travel to the USA. Since Fiscal Year 2013 (FY2013) Brand USA’s efforts are directly responsible for increasing international visitation by an incremental 5.4 million travelers who spent $17.7 billion, generating a total economic impact of $38.4 billion, and supported an average of 51,580 incremental jobs per year. Brand USA also provided initial results on the impact of its first film for IMAX® and giant screen theaters, “National Parks Adventure.”
The new economic impact study shows that in Fiscal Year 2017 (FY2017), Brand USA’s marketing campaigns generated 1.16 million incremental international visitors to the United States, with a total economic impact of $8.5 billion, and supporting 54,212 incremental jobs. The results equate to a marketing ROI of 29:1 based on Brand USA’s marketing expenses of $140 million and incremental international visitor spend of $4.1 billion.
Japan Holding Steady as JATA Survey Also Sees Growth in FIT Travel Ahead
It’s been a full half-year since the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) issued its last quarterly Survey of Travel Market Trends. For the travel trade in Japan, it seems to have been worth the wait, as the Survey now has projections for both outbound and inbound travel. Previously, it concerned itself with outbound travel only. As for those in the inbound tourism industry in the United States, the data are about the only reliable indicator of how the third largest overseas source market (the UK and China are Number 1 and 2) to the USA is currently performing, and is expected to perform through the end of the summer travel season.
Key Numbers: The report, which is written in a style that would make the results of a dental exam sound dramatic, indicates that, according to JATA’s survey of tour operators, travel agents and other key travel trade professionals in Japan, current numbers (for the first quarter, when the survey was conducted) suggest that overseas visits to the USA are at about the same level they’ve been for a year. There is the hint, however, from the trade believes that traffic to the U.S. should pick up in the third quarter of this year.
And when one looks at specific segments within the entire Japanese overseas outbound market, there are indications that family travel, student travel and “female office workers” (once called the “office ladies” market) should perform well through the second and third quarters of this year. Also of interest is the improvement in confidence in the individual tours segment, which is expected to increase by a third between Q3 2017 and Q3 2018.
Before You Review the Tables: It is important to understand the methodology behind the compilation and preparation of the Survey of Travel Market Trends. JATA asks all member companies to register as survey monitors. It conducts the quarterly Survey of Travel Market Trends that involves 588 registered companies and publishes the results. The Survey of Travel Market Trends is designed to grasp trends in the travel market based on responses to questions on current conditions and those anticipated over the next three months. The survey asks participating companies to rate their sales results for each destination and customer segment by choosing from three categories: “good,” “average,” and “poor.” For items outside their business scope, respondents select “do not handle.” Each share of “good,” “average,” and “poor” is then divided respectively by the denominator, which is equal to the total number of responses minus the “do not handle” (including “no reply”) responses. Finally, each share is processed into a Diffusion Index (DI) by subtracting the percentage of “poor” from the percentage of “good.”The highest possible index figure is +100, and the lowest is -100.
International Visits to Florida Continues to Slide
Visit Florida has released its annual report with visitation figures for 2017 and they show what some U.S. receptive tour operators have suspected for a while. In sum, the data show:
—Florida saw a record number of tourists last year, but fewer visitors came from overseas, continuing a downward swing that began in 2014. Last year Florida welcomed nearly 116.5 million visitors, up 3.6 percent from the previous year. More than 102.3 million of those visitors — or about 88 percent — came from within the United States.
—The number of annual overseas visitors to the state fell 4.3 percent over the year to less than 10.7 million in 2017, down from nearly 11.2 million in 2016. The 10.7 million overseas visitors is the lowest annual total since 2012.
—America’s share of the international travel market has been shrinking since 2015 — before the inauguration of President Donald J. Trump. From 2015 to 2017, it dropped from 13.6 percent to 11.9 percent, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
While it isn’t possible to tie Florida’s negative overseas numbers or a readily identifiable variable, most tour and travel industry experts in the state believe it has something to do with fights over state appropriations for the Visit Florida budget in the Florida state legislature. It has been difficult for the agency to develop a firm marketing calendar when it does not know if it will receive an appropriation until it is almost in the Fiscal Year for which it is supposed to be budgeting. Regardless of cause, the data do not lie: it’s been a soft overseas market for Florida in the past five years.
At a Glance: Philadelphia, PA
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HODGE PODGE: Shfits, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Jeffrey Vasser has been appointed executive director of the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism. He succeeds Jake Buganski, who had been acting executive director from December 2016 until his departure in March, when he joined a marketing and advertising firm in Philadelphia. Vasser accepted the job just weeks after he taken over as director of the Central Pennsylvania CVB. Before joining the latter, Vasser has served as director general and CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and as president and chief operating officer of the Atlantic City CVA.
Roselle Masse has been named contract manager USA West, for World2Meet. She joins the company from Meeting Point North America, where she was West Coast marketing manager.Previously, Masse was a director at Teamamerica and Allied T Pro.
In France, Carole Ange, the executive director ofTravel & Co. brands Terres de Charme and Back Roads—the latter sells Visit USA product in France—has left the company. She will not It be replaced. Instead, Jacques Judéaux, founding president of Travel & Co, has taken over Ange’s assignments. Ange joined the company in June 2016. Her departure follows that of Claude Banc, founding co-president of Travel & Company, who left the organization earlier this year.
Anjuli Derien is the new group tour manager at Visit Savannah. She replaces Melissa Hayes, who is moving to Charleston, S.C. to join her husband, who has accepted a job offer there. Before joining Visit Savannah, Derien served tenures at several area hotels, most recently as group sales manager for the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton and Embassy Suites by Hilton.
Gail Grimmett is leaving her post as president of Travel Leaders Luxury Brands overseeing high-end travel agencies Protravel International, Tzell Travel Group, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, R. Crusoe and All Star Travel Group. It is not known where Grimmett’s plans are. She joined Travel Leaders Group in 2016 following a 19-year career at Delta Air Lines, most recently as senior vice president-New York.Travel Leaders Group said the leadership of Protravel International and Tzell Travel Group will transition to long-time industry veterans Becky Powell, Cindy Schlansky and Monty Swaney. Powell will continue to lead Protravel International, now as president, while Schlansky and Swaney will continue in their senior leadership roles at Tzell, now serving as co-presidents.
Charles Hill II has been named vice president of strategic development for Experience Columbus. He joins the organization from Rev1 Ventures, where he served as director of community outreach. Previously, he was senior relationship manager with United Way of Central Ohio.
Liz Ryan is returning to Saga Travel after a spell at Wendy Wu Tours after joining the latter at the beginning of the year as business development manager for North West England and the Midlands.
Ryan has been named senior regional sales manager, responsible for managing the senior travel specialist operator’s regional trade sales team.In her previous tenure with Saga, Ryan was responsible for the north-west region in a field sales role. She has also previously worked for AffordableCarHire.com, Travel Supermarket and Global Travel Group.
Advantage Travel Partnership has promoted Julia Lo Bue-Said to the position of chief executive. Lo Bue-Said has been managing director of the consortium for five years, having held leisure and commercial director roles at the business before that.
Tara Didi has left the inbound side of the tour and travel business, departing her position as New York City regional director/director of global sales for the Leisure Pass Group to become product and distribution manager for Visit Britan.
Happy Work Anniversaries:
Mark Desborough, vice president, purchasing and product celebrating 3 years at JacTravel
Alex Philby, for one year as director of Leisure Sales for SLS Hotels in Las Vegas
Dennis Edwards, for 11 years at Greater Raleigh Convention & Visitors Bureau