Court Upholds Travel Ban—It’s Likely to Impact Inbound Tourism Industry
Although it had been in place under a previous order that had stayed a lower court decision that struck it down, the ban on travel from citizens from certain, mostly Muslim, nations has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Because of its timing, it was too soon for INBOUND to get a full reading on the decision’s impact from leaders in the inbound tour and travel industry. It seems to make little difference, however, as the prevailing opinion that we have detected among tour and travel marketers for the past year is that the damage has already been done.
Most of those we’ve talked with believe that the imposition of the ban, along with the Administration of President Donald Trump’s current “tariff war” with China and Europe, could only spell trouble for the industry.
Shortly after the decision was announced, the U.S. Travel Association released a statement that put the best face on the situation. US Travel’s Executive Vice President for Public Affairs Jonathan Grella issued the statement, which said the following:
“Now that the U.S. court system has set guidelines for the president’s executive orders on immigration, we are hopeful that a coherent and durable set of policies can be put into place by the administration.
“Today’s decision should enable the White House to move on to a new messaging phase: making it clear that keeping bad actors out remains a priority, but making it equally clear that legitimate business and leisure travelers are as welcome and desired as ever in the United States.
“The economic stakes around strong and healthy international travel are too high—and speak too squarely to the president’s priorities of growing exports, jobs, and the GDP—for the welcome message not to become a featured part of the administration’s calculus.”
Orlando Ambassador Program Hopes to Deal with Panhandlers and Help Tourists
The Orlando city government has given its approval to a project that will revolve about an ambassador program that will address downtown issues, including panhandlers whose presence has become a bane to local businesses and to the tourists who visit the most visited destination in the United States.
The measure approved by the city government establishes a contract with Block by Block, a Louisville, Kentucky-based organization that operates programs in more than 100 locations in the U.S. and calls for “downtown ambassador services” for an initial term of two years in an annual estimated amount of $725,000. The scope of work provides for ambassadors to circulate throughout the city’s Downtown Community Redevelopment Area (CDR) according to a schedule that will be set by CRA staff providing safety, hospitality, and other ambassador related services as outlined in the scope of work. The deployment schedule can be adjusted to accommodate special events, holidays, inclement weather and other circumstances. The CRA staff will have daily interaction with an on-site operations manager provided by Block by Block, which oversees the entire Ambassador Program.
Several downtown business owners have been asking for something to be done about panhandling for months. “The only problem we had was the panhandlers, and the homeless situation,” said Jay Manji, a 7-Eleven owner in the 55 West Building, told Channel 13 news, adding, “We are open 24/7, so we have seen it all.”
Manji has owned his business downtown for eight years now. He said he is worried for his employees and customers, because he said the panhandling is overly aggressive these days. “This customer was disorderly,” he said, pointing to a yellow carbon copy of an Orlando police record. “They had to be trespassed. And I have hundreds of these, really in just here in the last six months.”
Monica McCown, from the nearby Artisan’s Table understands, agreed: “I think the biggest effect on our business is that it makes our guests that come to visit us feel a little less comfortable when they are walking the streets,” she said. “But they also harass my guests when they are actually at the restaurant on our patio, and I have even had staff assaulted.”
Another perspective came from Andrew Gooden, a self-identified homeless person, who said that all of the places he has been in the U.S. had ambassador services, adding, “if a homeless person goes to them and says, ‘I just got here, I don’t know my way around,’ they’ve got information, pamphlets … They helped me when I first got to one city. They gave me the information, and not only did I get off the street, I got housing, thanks to that one ambassador.”
“Much like Disney and Universal have their greeters and their information people, and they have a face to show when you go to CityWalk, or Disney Springs, I think downtown Orlando should be treated the same way,” said McCown.
German Operator FTI Creates Virtual Airline for Real Customers
FTI, the fourth-largest tour operator in Germany, has developed what is essentially a virtual airline to help it compete better with its competitors, some of whom operate their own airlines. While the operator has no aircraft, it has managed the feat through a new subsidiary—FTI Flight Trading GmbH—that is dedicated to procuring and selling flight capacity.
Established last October, the new unit and has taken on a team of experienced airline staff to develop the new business, which has offices in Berlin and Munich.
According to FTI’s official papers, the subsidiary’s business purpose is “the worldwide procurement and sale of flight capacity in the B2B and B2C areas as well as all activities connected with this.”
What this means is that FTI has, in effect, established a “virtual airline” that could act as a broker and provide capacity for the in-house tour operator as well as for third-party customers. FTI already has some experience in this field, reports the German travel trade publication fvw, by contracting full-charter flights to Egypt and then selling some capacity to other tour operators.
Directors of FTI Flight Trading are the group’s chief Dietmar Gunz and Anja Ruppert, head of flight procurement. They were joined by the ex-Niki manager Nicola Gregor, who previously sold Air Berlin and Niki capacity to tour operators, including FTI. (Both Niki and Air Berlin went bankrupt last year.) Gregor now managing a team of 20 staff, including many other former Niki employees.
How Georgia Uses Marketing Visuals in its China Campaign
Georgia is chipping away at its long-term goal to tap into the Chinese market in greater numbers by working with CrowdRiff, a Toronto-based firm with a self-described “quirky and diverse crew” which works with a number of destinations in using visual media to promote their brands and products.
In a recent piece by CrowdRiff’s Sandra Rzasa, one gets an idea of how Georgia has begun to make and secure its niche as a USA destination for the now and future.
In 2008, a year after the Chinese government gave the U.S. Approved Destination Status—it allowed U.S. tourism businesses and DMOs to market and promote leisure tourism in China—the Georgia Department of Economic Development created the Greater China Region Initiative. This took place at roughly the same time that Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines to begin direct flights to and from Atlanta and a gateway city in China. The mandate of the Initiative was to increase economic opportunities with the Chinese market and named Stella Xu as its director.
The effort stalled a little when Delta stopped the under-producing route within a year and, after trying again, stopped them again. Now, Delta is scheduled to begin non-stop flights between Atlanta and Shanghai on July 20.
“We started hosting conferences to bring Chinese buyers and tour operators to Atlanta for business meetings as well as to experience our city,” says Xu. For much of the past decade, however, leisure tourism as a priority stayed in the shadow of efforts to attract Chinese business and trade to Georgia.
“As of this moment, our leisure travel is still a very small percentage; a majority are business travelers coming for trade shows, as well as students and their families,” Xu explains. “Hopefully, with the direct flight, we can bring more leisure travelers.”
Now, after years of focusing on developing key relations with Chinese businesses, and with the direct flight soon to be reinstated, the Georgia Department of Economic Development has taken proactive steps to show prospective Chinese leisure travelers what southern hospitality is all about.
One such step was its sponsorship this past March of the Active America China Summit, a trade show sponsored by the NAJ Group (publisher of the INBOUND Report) that brought more than 50 Chinese tour operators to Atlanta to meet with U.S. travel suppliers and DMOS—many of them from Georgia.
Highlighting key American Icons in Marketing Materials to Appeal to Chinese Tourists: When it comes to the state’s overall tourism marketing strategy, Xu notes that it’s all about showcasing the sounds, smells, tastes and hospitality of southern culture, highlighting how it differs from America’s coastal cities. While much of the marketing materials produced for the Chinese market follow along the same themes, Xu says it’s her job to tailor Georgia’s marketing materials and visitor’s guides to appeal to travelers from the region.
“We look at the overall strategy and then we pick and choose things that we think will resonate with the Chinese, mostly culturally-centered,” said Xu, explaining that there’s extra emphasis on quintessential Americana, like World of Coca-Cola, Stone Mountain or the state’s many movie sets from iconic American films like Forrest Gump.
Many Chinese tourists are also familiar with classic novels like Gone with the Wind, and they are intrigued by Georgia and the South described in the novel, which Explore Georgia tries to bring out in their marketing.
“We add a special touch, and wording language and the style of the pictures for what the Chinese would like to see,” she added. “We tend to choose content that Chinese people do not get to experience in China on brochures and branding materials.” For example, this page of Explore Georgia’s 2018 Chinese visitor guide, set against a stunning photo of Georgian wetland, explores different places in a traveler can experience the wonders of the state’s unique natural terrain.
Another page in their visitor guide is an exposé on Georgia’s rich music and film culture. Here they tie back international American culture icons, like James Brown and R.E.M., to the state where they originated. This page also reveals filming locations of well-known movies, such as The Hunger Games, that took place in Georgia.
Xu notes that this strategy extends from the visitor’s guides to the website to the social media campaigns and blog posts that the tourism department creates in Mandarin for the Chinese market.
Helping tourism partners to prepare for accommodating Chinese travelers
Essential to facilitating the flow of tourism from China is ensuring that visitors have all the resources and amenities they have come to expect from major American cities, such as tour guides that speak their language and hotels that are accustomed to hosting Chinese guests.
“We help the tour operators to develop marketing collateral and to hear their concerns, their feedback, what they’re looking for, what their clients are looking for,” Xu points out, explaining that their goals extend beyond getting travelers to Georgia, but then also making sure they have a great experience in their state. That means supporting “our partners, like the CVBs, hotels, retail stores and everyone who wants to attract visitors, we help them become China-ready.”
Result—Explore Georgia’s Targeted Efforts See Consistent Yearly Growth in Chinese Visitors: Since its creation 10 years ago the Greater China Region Initiative—which recently hired its second full-time employee—has seen the number of Chinese visitors gradually increase over time.
“When I joined the department in 2008, China was not on the top 10 international visitors list,” Xu tells us. Today the country is fifth behind Canada, the U.K., Germany and India. “For the past four years the number of Chinese visitors has increased every year by twenty or thirty percent, as well as their spending power.”
Xu’s overarching advice when it comes to engaging with the Chinese market is to put in the time to facilitate connections and deeper relationships, both online and in person. “The Chinese market is a relationship-driven market, so you have to be there all the time and establish relationships and make friends with people,” she said. “It takes a long time to do that.”
It may be a while before they can compete with America’s major states, concludes Xu, but Georgia is becoming recognized to the Chinese market as a gateway to the southeast and a perfect starting point for a second or third visit to the country.
Brand USA Reveals Top 10 Trends in the Chinese Travel Market
Following its recent release, we reviewed Brand USA’s China Market Update and have condensed it for our readers. Spoiler alert: the really good material is in the section that lists the 10 Trends in the market.
China Market: Size
Source: Brand USA China Research, CIA World Fact Book
- China’s GDP is greater than the combined GDPs of India (#3); Japan (#4); Germany #5; Russia (#6)
- China’s economy is 20 percent greater than that of the U.S. on a Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) basis.
Source(s): Brand USA China research, IMF, World Bank
25-Year Trend Line:
China Outbound Travelers
Source(s): Brand USA China research: Travel China Guide
Timeline: Chinese Travel to the U.S.
Chinese Airlift: U.S. Gateways
16 U.S. Non-stop Gateways to China
Los Angeles Chicago
San Francisco Houston
New York Dallas
Seattle San Jose
Washington, D.C. Saipan
Las Vegas Atlanta (this summer)
Current annual seat capacity between the U.S. and China stands at 5.1 million regularly schedule seats—a capacity jump of over 500,000 seats in the last 6 months alone.
Source(s): Brand USA China research
Chinese Airlift: China Gateways
(17 China Non-stop Gateways to the USA)
(China has 206 airports and is now building another 66 major new airports – a 32% increase in number of airports in China in just the coming 5 years.)
Current New China Gateways inThe Past 12 Months
Hangzhou Zhenzhou (New 2018)
Source(s): Brand USA China research
China—Trend #1: Online Bookings
- 20 percent growth in online purchases of travel in 2017.
- Over $800 billion in tourism products bought online in China 2017.
- Online tools are key in both destination selection and actual booking.
- Online platforms are the China outbound travel purchasing channels of the future.
Source(s): Brand USA China research; C-trip
China—Trend #2: OTAs Dominating
- 2018 Chinese New Year OTA bookings up 60 percent v. overall outbound market up 10 percent.
- Three OTAs dominate: C-Trip, Qunar and Tuniu, over 80 percent of China’s OTA sector.
- Air tickets (#2 after OTA booking) and accommodations (#3) are increasingly being booked on service providers’ websites directly.
- “Fly-Drive” and car rental are soaring in popularity
Source(s): Brand USA China research; C-trip; Agencies
China—Trend #3: Emerging OTAs
- Zuzuche now dominates the online car rental market, with over 76 percent market share in just three years.
- Fliggy, the online travel brand of e-commerce giant Alibaba, has gone from zero to 200 million users in less than three years and is now a key partner for many destinations.
- Mafengwo, the “TripAdvisor” of China, launched in 2010 originally as a social travel website/blog, has now transformed itself into a travel booking app which is key to reach Chinese FITs.
Source(s): Brand USA China research; Zuzuche; Fliggy; Mafengwo; China Daily
China—Trend #4: Shift to Mobile
- Mobile internet: 685 million users use their mobile to access the internet; 50 percent + 4G.
- Mobile payment: 87 percent of Chinese consumers in China used mobile payments in 2017–up from 69 percent in 2016.
- Dominant channel: media and entertainment in China are now primarily consumed on mobile.
- TV: 71 percent of Chinese watch TV on mobile several times a day—27 percent in the U.S.
- News: phone-based news apps have become the #1 source of information for Chinese social media is now the #2 source of information.
- Travel search & planning: over half of destination search & planning is done on mobile
- Bookings: 72 percent of online bookings on top 5 OTAs are done directly via mobile, and 81 percent of online hotel bookings are made on mobile.
- Booking apps: OTAs lead the way, with traditional Tour Operators / Travel Agents playing catch up.
Source(s): Tencent; China Internet Watch
China—Trend #5: Booming FIT
- Growing 10-20 percent per year, outperforming China’s overall outbound market.
- In certain states, FIT represents 40 percent of China travel and rapidly rising.
- Semi-FIT (air/hotel packages) represents an additional 40 percent of the market.
Source(s): Tencent; China Internet Watch
China—Trend #6: Beyond the Gateways Soaring
- Converging factors: Increased Chinese traveler sophistication, increased disposable income, and increased frequency of travel to the USA means Chinese travelers are no longer satisfied with cookie-cutter itineraries and are now rapidly going beyond the gateways.
- “Been there done that,” no more: Much like in the West, social pressure pushes sophisticated Chinese to “one up” their peers and classic itineraries/destinations are no longer enough.
- Attractive to the trade: High-end Chinese travelers are less price sensitive– the higher margins of tailor-made travel beyond the U.S. gateways are highly attractive to the Chinese travel trade who are happy to develop tailor-made itineraries.
- Opportunities for lesser known destinations: The tailor-made itineraries trend is a major opportunity for lesser-known destinations and attractions to boost Chinese business.
Source(s): Brand USA research
China—Trend #7: Booming Luxury Market
- Booming Chinese middle and upper class: is translating to booming luxury travel.
- Demanding exclusive travel: 5 & 6-star hotels, limos, helicopter transfers, private tours.
- New luxury travel agents: all major Chinese tour operators have created luxury travel subsidiaries
- Meituan: in less than 2 years, it went from a group buying site to China’s dominant luxury hotel online. booking site, recording a 300 percent increase in bookings in 2017.
Source(s): Brand USA China research; Meituan, Jing Daily
China—Trend #8: Family Travel Soaring
End of One-Child Policy is Reshaping China’s Travel Industry
- The end of China’s one-child policy resulted in 8.83 million newborn second children in 2017 (One-quarter of the entire population of Canada).
- 51 percent of all babies born in 2017 were second children for the first time ever in China’s history.
- 3-generation travel (boomers, millennials, babies) is booming.
- One-quarter of Chinese millennials plan to travel with their parents and their children.
- Even with children, 58 percent of Chinese travelers choose “fly & drive” options.
- Educational tourism (families with college-age children) soaring.
- Theme park visitation with younger children benefiting from the trend.
Source(s): Brand USA China research; China Daily
China—Trend #9: Rise of Tier Two Markets
Tier 1 Gateways
- Five years ago, there were only 3 cities in mainland China with direct non-stop flights to the USA: Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.
Tier 2 Gateways
- Greater China now has 17 gateways with direct non-stop flights to the USA
- China has 100 cities with a population of over 1 million – compared to just 10 in the USA
- China’s future growth in outbound travel will come from these Tier 2 markets
- This requires a 2-tier strategy to the China market: One targeting increasingly sophisticated FITs in tier 1 cities.
- A second parallel strategy targeting first time long-haul group travelers from China’s tier 2 cities.
Source(s): Brand USA China research; China Daily
China—Trend #10: China Airport Growth
- Airport Growth: Between 2006 and 2016, six of the world’s top 10 fastest growing airports were in China
- Case Study: Tianjin grew from 2.7 million to 16.8 million passengers during the decade
- New Airport Construction: China has 206 airports and is now building another 66 new airports; a 32% increase in number of airports in China in the coming 4 years
Source(s): Brand USA China research; Civil Aviation Authority of China
Receptive Tour Operator of Month
Personal RGE Tours was founded in 1990 in Orlando, Florida. Since then, the company says in its website, “our goal has been, and will continue to be, to provide our clients with personalized service.”
Though it has been an authorized reseller for some time of Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, and Disneyland California, these aren’t the only products Personal RGE provides. It handles individual and group reservations within the United States of America using its direct contracts with hotels in Florida, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago Washington, among other cities.
Personal RGE also has transfer services in Portuguese and contracts with the main attractions at major cities. In addition to individual passengers, Personal RGE Tours handles many different types of groups including: tourist, incentives, shopping, and religious.
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, New York City and Orlando. The next Summit takes place October 24-25, 2018 in Orlando. For more information, visit: www.TourOperatorLand.com.
Want meet with Personal RGE Tours? You’ll find them at the RTO Summit Orlando in October.
Odyssey’s Chicago River Cruise Launches in Late Summer
Opening this summer, the new Odyssey Chicago River experience is Chicago’s first dining cruise of its kind, offering guests unobstructed views of the Windy City’s iconic riverfront aboard a custom-built, glass-enclosed vessel. Year-round lunch, brunch, cocktail and dinner cruises — with upscale menus and refined atmosphere— differentiate this experience from your typical riverboat excursion. Set to begin cruising in late summer 2018, booking is open now for visitors eager to find a unique perspective in the heart of Chicago. Ticket prices vary.
Chicago River Cruise Route: Departs from: Chicago River Esplanade, right in front of NBC Tower on the River (north side). Address: 455 N. Cityfront Plaza Drive
All river cruises will depart from our dock near NBC tower on Chicago’s revitalized River Esplanade, between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive. Dinner cruises follow the longest route, which extends west on the main branch to Wolf Point, north to North Avenue, south to Ping Tom Memorial Park, east to Lakeshore Drive, then back to the dock.
The lunch, brunch and cocktail cruises will feature a modified version of the dinner route. If the river is seeing high traffic, or in rare cases of severe weather, the cruise route may be modified further to include only the main and south branches.
Every experience promises unmatched views of the city’s world-renowned architectural feats, from Marina City and the Merchandise Mart to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Willis Tower and more.
For more information, visit: www.odysseycruises.com , or call 866 391 8439.
Here is a partial route map for the new cruise:
Morning Drinking at Dublin Airport Bar Leads to Grounding in France of Ryanair Flight to Spain
An alcohol-infused disturbance involving some 20 passengers on a Ryanair flight out of Dublin International Airport bound for Ibiza led to its grounding in France. The episode, which took place on June 16, has triggered a call by some for limiting early morning alcohol purchases at airport bars and on morning flights. Read more:
From TourOperatorLand.com … Our Featured Partner of the Week: Seattle Southside Regional Tourism
Trek Around the Pacific Northwest: Seattle Southside is the ideal location for a breathtaking Pacific Northwest getaway. From the iconic Space Needle, to snowy Mount Rainier, to the largest private air and space museum in the world, you’ll be able to make the most of your three-day journey in Seattle’s Backyard.
NEW AIR SERVICE
—On June 18, Delta Air Lines introduced two new routes to its network—transatlantic services to Paris CDG and Amsterdam from Los Angeles. The flight from Los Angeles to Paris will operate three times weekly. The Los Angeles—Amsterdam route will be flown four times weekly.
—Interjet has launched a new service between Mexico City and Orlando. In doing so, it moves its services to the Floridian city from Orlando Sanford, an airport which it has served since 2016. The Mexican carrier will operate the service twice daily.
—Air Canada has added two new transatlantic flights from Vancouver to its network. On June 7, the airline launched a three times weekly service to Zurich, and on June 8, it began four times weekly service to operation to Paris CDG.
—Ethiopian Airlines has started a three times weekly flight from Addis Ababa to Chicago O’Hare. The outbound route stops in Dublin, but flies direct on the return from the Chicago.
—Air Italy has launched its second U.S. service with four-times-a-week service from Milan Malpensa to Miami. A week before the announcement, the carrier began service between Milan and New York JFK.
—United Airlines has introduced a daily transatlantic connection between San Francisco and Zurich. SWISS airlines also fly the same route on a daily basis.
And this: David Neeleman, founder of U.S. low-cost airline JetBlue Airways is planning to launch another budget carrier in the United States—to be called Moxy Airways. It will focus on point to point services between under-served secondary airports in the U.S. In addition to JetBlue, Neeleman also founded the Brazilian low-cost carrier Azul (Blue).
At a Glance: Richmond, VA
For more information click here.
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
The Bloomington (Minn.) CVB has retained Jason Kauflin to represent all international and domestic golf operator requests for the bureau’s Great Northern Golf Trail. Kauflin has a company that has been booking golfing groups for the past 20 years.
Voopter, the four-year-old Brazilian flight search engine, has announced the appointment of Juliana Vital as general manager. Vital began her career at age 18 in the user experience area, focusing on product and business management. Prior to joining Voopter, she was chief operating officer at Scup.
Alvaro Valeriani has been announced as the new global senior vice president of marketing and sales for the SBE group, which operates in the hospitality, gastronomy, design, entertainment and other sectors. He will be based in Miami and will be responsible for all portfolio operations. A veteran of more than 20 years in the tour and travel industry, Valeriani has served tenures with Explora, Aman Resorts and Hyatt, as well as being vice president of the Brazilian Luxury Travel Association (BLTA).
Bourne Leisure has promoted Erman Housein to head of trade sales and marketing operations. Housein, who has been with the business for 15 years, will also be responsible for overseeing trade sales support, marketing and field-based sales teams.
The Maryland Tourism Coalition (MTC) has announced that Ruth Toomey is its new executive director. Long active in the Baltimore/Anne Arundel County hospitality industry, she has been an active member and board member of the tourism/hospitality trade organization since 2009. She most recently served as the organization’s membership chair. Most recently, Toomey served as director of Sales & Marketing for An Extraordinary Limousine in Glen Burnie, Md.
Steve Barrass has joined Holiday Taxis Group, the global airport transfer company, as a non-executive director. He’ll join the company from dnata Travel, where he was senior vice president. Holiday also promoted Ian Coyle as CEO.
Happy Work Anniversaries to:
Lori Huffstutler for two years at The Guest House at Graceland
Tico Soto for two years at Tourism Tactics by Tico
Gail Orr for eight years at Go Global LLC
Bob Hofmann for 15 years at Broadway Inbound/The Shubert Organization