Beer Plane to Transport British Travelers to a Brewery in the USA
In the UK, Brew Dog, a popular craft beer brewery and brand, has launched its own airline and, in what is apparently a market test of the concept, will stage a round-trip excursion sometime during the period of Feb. 21-28 between London and Columbus, Ohio—it is the brewery’s U.S. headquarters—where its hotel, The DogHouse, is located. Passengers aboard the chartered Boeing 767 will partake in a tasting experience as they sample a limited-edition BrewDog beer that has been specifically brewed to adapt to the reduction of taste and smell sensitivity in high altitudes. The round trip includes a four-night stay in Columbus, where guests will tour BrewDog’s brewery, visit The DogHouse Hotel, and explore BrewDog’s beer museum. Tickets are exclusively available to BrewDog’s community of 90,000 Equity Punks (the brewer’s crowd-funding project) and are priced at £1,250 ($1,625) per person, including all flights, excursions and accommodation. For ticket information, visit https://www.brewdog.com/airline/
U.S. Policies Now Affecting Japanese Inbound Tourism
From the latest quarterly Survey of Travel Market Trends by the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA): “There are concerns that the political and economic policy of the U.S. government will impact overseas travel. If free trade and human exchange stagnate, this might influence overseas travel from Japan negatively.” This assessment came from an unidentified retailer cited in the JATA report, which went on to say that, although overseas travel has recovered from its lowest level of two years ago, the confidence of the Japanese travel trade that business will be good declines for the last quarter of 2018 and first quarter of 2019.
Though its information was processed in September, the Survey was not posted on the JATA website until late last month. Still, it remains an authoritative measure on how business it, and how the travel trade in Japan believes it will be during the next two business quarters.
In addition to the sobering note regarding the U.S., the Survey provides measures of how the trade sees certain segments in the Japanese performing. For instance, it notes that the demand for students travel during the summer holidays is 20 points stronger with educational tours showing a steady increase. And the outlook for both family travel and working women (office ladies) is up. The details of the above findings are in the tables below.
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 616 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.
A definition of each business classification and the number of survey respondents is shown below.
USA Drops to #11 (from #5 in 2017) Among Popular Destinations for Chinese
What the U.S.-based tour and travel industry has picked up anecdotally, or if you’re a receptive tour operator that sells the Chinese market and you’ve learned it from your in-China trade partners, is true: inbound traffic from China is down. And it’s probably going to be down once the final numbers for 2018 are in. No doubt, this is probably because of the tension between the governments of the two nations over trade policies and tariffs. The proof is already in, by way of the some of the reports that came out during the month of October:
- The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) released its latest monthly report on Oct. 31, containing arrivals data for the first five months of 2018, and the numbers showed that, year-to-date, the number of Chinese visitors to the U.S. had dropped by 1.4 percent vs. 2017.
- A Washington Post article cited data and other testimonials which indicated that the number of Chinese visitors to the U.S. this year is down, and that the outlook for the near-term future is not bright.
- Year-over-year travel to the USA during the week-long Golden Week holiday showed that bookings to the U.S. were down by 40 percent.
Here is more detail on these three developments:
First, the release last week of NTTO data for the first five months of 2018 suggest that, unless there is some miraculous turnaround in the trend line, inbound traffic to the U.S. from China will decline for the first time—ever—since China became a serious source market for the United States.
Second, as the Washington Post put it, “The nascent decline — visible in visa approvals and airline bookings — isn’t the result of official action by Beijing. But it highlights a potent weapon that China could use if the trade war persists: slashing the $60 billion that Chinese consumers spend each year on American services such as travel and tourism. Already, 102,000 fewer Chinese people received business, leisure and educational visas from May through September of this year compared with the same period last year, a 13 percent drop, according to State Department statistics.”
Third, consider Golden Week, which was the first week of October. (Along with the Chinese New Year, the Oct. 1 National Day, which celebrates the founding of the People’s Republic of China and which kicked off Golden Week, is one of China’s two biggest holidays.). According to the Ctrip-owned search engine Skyscanner, the U.S. saw a sharp decline in Chinese visitors with this year’s Golden Week, with flight bookings to the country down 41 percent compared with last year’s Golden Week. This year, seven million Chinese were expected to go abroad for Golden Week. The 7 million number represents more than 5 percent of all overseas travelers who leave from China annually. In fact, the popularity of the U.S. as a destination dropped to No. 11—down from No. 5 last year.
A Look at the German Travel to the USA through Two of Its Top Operators
Delegates to NAJ’s recent RTO Summit in Orlando sat in rapt attention when the speaker, Stefan Merkl, CEO of Explore Marketing, gave a review of conditions, market-by-market, in Europe, based on his visits this year to more than 50 European tour operators. He saved the last part of his remarks to focus on Germany, which is the largest country market for U.S. inbound travel and tourism in continental Europe and the Number 4 overseas source market worldwide.
Merkl, himself a native of Germany, highlighted a summary of his exchanges with two key German operators: FTI and America Unlimited.
Here is what he heard from the team at FTI:
—Traditionally, the market for Visit USA product is very strong in Germany.
—Overall, 2018 will end up “about flat” with maybe a little increase in business compared to 2017.
—It is still a difficult market this year for coach business.
—The First Quarter booking period was not so strong as it was compared to other years. The three months of May, June and July were strong this year.
—There was more last-minute business than in other years.
—Hawaii, California, Alaska and Nevada were “definitely the winners” of 2018.
—Florida was struggling—especially in the winter, due to the bankruptcy of AirBerlin and the challenge of hurricanes.
And here is the picture presented at America Unlimited, which is headed up by Timo Kolenberg, one of the younger tour operators in the business who’s studied and/or worked at marketing in both the UK and the U.S.
—Business to North America has been ambivalent. On one hand, the USA was down until around July, when it started to pick up again. So, our overall numbers to the U.S. are almost flat compared to 2017. This is way against the general trend from German, though, where most of the other tour operators were down.
—America Unlimited had a very strong Canada year. Our increase here was about 40 percent in 2018. This is also way ahead of trend, although Canada was a strong year for many tour operators.
—2019 paces around 10 percent ahead of 2018, so it looks very promising so far. The competition with OTAs has never really been a challenge for us. It’s a different clientele that is very price sensitive and doesn’t spend a lot of money in the country. Our clients are above standard income and spend a lot more money in the states and are, for that reason, a much higher value in overall revenue.
TravelAbility Summit Update: Accessible Products—a Quick Inventory
As the NAJ Group (publisher of the INBOUND report) moves closer to a decision on a property in which to stage the first TravelAbility Summit, in October 2019 in San Francisco, we are assembling a range of products and tour operators that may be invited as examples that can be replicated and refined by others. “The advocacy landscape for accessible travel is already well served by events and organizations focused on compliance,” Commented Jake Steinman, founder and CEO of NAJ Group. “By bringing together DMO’s, attractions and suppliers so they can see diverse range of accessibility products that already exist, we hope to inspire creativity that will lead to even more products that will make it easier for those with physical or behavioral challenges to enjoy travel.”
Following is a brief list of individuals or organizations and products that they have available for travelers with disabilities. Please let us know if you have a product and would like to be added to the list. (Last updated Nov. 3, 2018). If you have knowledge of other products or services that we might include, please contact [email protected].
- Eric Lipp, founder and executive director of the Open DoorsOrganization, has developed an accessible taxi service in Chicago.
- Filmmaker Noam Argov created an app that turns into a voice activated Waze-GPS-functionality for blind people when a building’s architectural plans are uploaded onto the app.
- Ablethrive.comis a one stop site for resources/products for those with disabilities.
- NYC & Co.has developed an accessibility guide for all of the city’s five boroughs using an outside consultant.
- Visit Indy has an Accessible travel guide spurred on by its CEO Leonard Hoops.
- The U.S. National Park Servicehas an accessible section for each park on each park’s website.
- Sesame Place, Langhorne Pennsylvania has been designated as a Certified Autism Center.
- Morgan’s Wonderland, a water park in San Antonio. was designed with accessibility in mind.
- Taylor’s Dream Boundless Playground in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, is the state’s first accessible playground.
- Sheraton Park Anaheim, has partnered with local autism community to train its staff to ensure that all families have fun.
- Airbnb: Srin Madipaili, Director of Accessible Product, which helps hosts develop more accessible homes and rooms for travelers with disabilities.
- The Blue Man Group in Orlando now offers an autism-friendly show.
- Eugene, Oregon has an “adaptive” recreational services manager that regularly inventories and promotes their accessibility products.
- The Hilton Harrisburg, Pennsylvania was developed as an accessible-friendly hotel from the ground up.
- Aira combines AI + Google Glass technology to help blind people navigate airports.
- TraxFamily.com makes GPS tracking bands that include augmented reality for autistic kids.
- State of Tennessee has developed viewfinders so that color blind travelers can see fall foliage.
- The Greater Rochester, NY airport unveiled “hearing and counter loops” to make it easier for travelers with hearing issues to hear announcements.
- Gatorland in Florida offers wheelchair-accessible zip lines over alligator habitats.
- Space Center Houston, offers “Sensory Friendly” evenings for guests who are on different levels on the autism spectrum.
- The French medical equipment maker Hippocampe has developed an all-terrain wheelchair for the beach, hiking trails or snow.
- An Eau Claire, Wisconsin man created an app that helps people with disabilities travel.
- The Rome airport has launched a “Care to Fly”program offering disabled travelers the opportunity to book “Door to flight”(and vice versa) care assistance.
- Autism Family Vacations, a new travel agency specializing in Autism travel, has opened in Wisconsin.
- The Henry Ford (Museum) outside Detroit, Michigan offers “tactile” tours for three types of disabilities.
- Simpleview, which has developed websites and CRM software for over 500 destinations has partnered with Audioeye to make DMO websites more accessible friendly.
- Smarter Travel magazine has published a list of the Top 10 Most Accessible friendly Attractions in the world.
- Austin, Minnesota, the town that gave the world Spam, has an autistic greetermeeting people at the Spam Museum.
- Italian Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, is the first to create a series of shore excursions for those with impaired mobility.
- Wings for Autismhelps families and kids rehearse simulated air travel in 15 airports.
- Four UK rail companies are conducting a Passenger Assist trial by Transreport—an app designed to make rail journeys for disabled users easier. The app will allow disabled users to share their exact location with station staff in real-time.
- Audio Description Projecttrains “audio describers” who assist the blind to understand what is before them.
- Mobility Ventures, manufacturers of MV-1, a wheelchair accessible SUV that can be customized from their website.
- Map’s Voice. A new App created by Puntodis, a Spanish company, that creates destination maps and itineraries in 12 languages using haptic technology that generate speaking descriptions.
- Personalize tours owner “Pierre Margot-Cattin, offers “Build Your Dreams” tours for people with guide dogs. Buying home on beach in N. Carolina retrofitted for disabled people with service dogs.
- Michele Erwin, founder of All Wheels Up is working with Airbus to create tie-down wheelchairs and accessible restrooms for disabled.
- Axsol Location, is a French company that rents wheelchairs, portable vertical elevators, beach chairs, ramps on an as-needed bases for hotels and events.
Good Bye Tourico/ So Long GTA: Hotelbeds Consolidates Identity to…Surprise, “Hotelbeds”
Final, Formal Bye-Bye to Tourico and GTA Brands: In a major announcement that came out on Halloween day, the Hotelbeds Group announced that it was consolidating its family of brands into a single brand: Hotelbeds.
The action brings to a close the heretofore somewhat independent operations of GTA and Tourico Holidays—both were acquired early in 2017—as independent brands. It also means that Hotelbeds Group and its commercial bedbank brand, Hotelbeds, will operate simple as “Hotelbeds.”
The Palma de Mallorca-based company also used the occasion of its announcement to launch a refreshed “Hotelbeds” identity to help phase out the GTA and Tourico Holidays brands.
In addition, the company has decided to rename its ancillary product line, which Hotelbeds commercializes via its distribution channels, as “Beyond the Bed.” This includes the sourcing and distribution of transfers, activities, tickets, theme parks, car hire, travel insurance and specialist tours.
Now that all its players are wearing the same uniform, so to speak, it likely means that the internal organizational restructuring of management-level staff, along with the departure from the company of some of them, is over.
Said Joan Vilà, executive chairman, Hotelbeds, “Much progress has already been made to integrate the three businesses at a commercial, operational and technological level, with cross-selling and technological solutions already in place.
“As we work our way through the final stages of the integration, we are in continual contact with all our partners to explain how these changes are benefiting them. In the meantime, we remain focused on business-as-usual and you´ll notice the brand changes mentioned today rolling out gradually over the coming weeks and months.”
As a result of the integration of Tourico Holidays and GTA into Hotelbeds last year, the combined company now offers over 170,000 hotels, 24,000 transfers and 18,000 activities to over 60,000 travel selling intermediaries globally – including airlines, points redemption schemes, bricks-and-mortar travel agents, tour operators and online travel agencies.
The news also follows the decision announced in September to combine the various retail travel agent offerings of the company into one brand, Bedsonline. Already a process is underway to migrate the TravelBound, TravelCube and GTA retail customers onto the Bedsonline platform over the coming months and a new Bedsonline brand image has already been launched.
Women from Germany, China Comprise Prime Market for Solo Female Travelers
Prompted by anecdotal accounts on the subject, British Airways decided to commission a study on solo travelers and, as a result, has released its Global Solo Travel Study which focuses on the phenomenon of the independent female passenger. A study of almost 9,000 18-to-64-year-olds across the UK, US, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, India, and China, it found that over 50 per cent of women have taken a holiday by themselves, with 75 per cent of women planning a solo trip in the next few years.
Elsewhere, the results of this first-ever study provide some interesting details and facts:
—The most adventurous female travelers are from Italy, with 63 per cent of Italian women aged 18-65 have explored another country alone, followed by Germany at 60 per cent.
—More British women and men (14 per cent) were over 50 on their first solo trip compared to any other country.
—However, 60 per cent of UK women are planning a trip in the next few years, with 16 per cent of them jetting off solo in the next two to three months.
—The least inclined to venture overseas with only 16 per cent, were women from the US. However, this looks to change with 62 per cent currently planning their getaway in the next few years.
—Most of those in this travel segment take trips that last for one week, with over 50 per cent globally choosing a short-haul trip overseas. However, more than 30.5 million women in the surveyed markets have headed off on long trips of over six months.
—German travelers go solo the most often, with one in five having treated themselves to a solo trip over 10 times.
—The nation most willing to travel long distance is China, with almost 50 per cent flying over 11 hours for their last international experience.
—Two-thirds (67 percent) of solo travelers worldwide choose to explore their own continent. India’s travelers skip between continents the most, with 37 per cent having travelled solo to Europe and 33 per cent exploring the UAE and Middle East.
—More than 51 per cent of the travelers in both the U.S. and China had also toured Europe solo.
The British Airways Solo Travel Study also unpacked the reasons why passengers were choosing to head out alone:
—More than half of the global respondents (55 per cent) choose to travel alone due to the feeling of freedom and independence, being able to choose your destination, what you eat and what you do.
—Holidaymakers from Germany are the most open, with over 50 per cent also prioritizing meeting new people and having unique experiences. Ten per cent of UK travelers confessed they had taken off solo to get over a break up.
—The U.S. has the lowest number of female solo travelers, with only 17 per cent having taken a solo holiday, compared to 46 per cent of US men, however those that do travel are the most likely to travel for over six months
—In China, more women than men have made a solo trip abroad over 10 times
Overnight Sleeper Ride between L.A. & San Francisco Gets Smoother: The overnight ride on Cabin—it’s the sleeper bus that makes the 380-mile trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, has gotten less bumpy. The service, which launched last year and has carried more than 10,000 passengers on the 8-to-9½-hour trip, has created what it reports is the first active suspension system to help passengers sleep better, designed to mute road turbulence and reduce the vibrations. Said the company in a statement: “This first-of-its-kind technology can effectively make the bumpiest highway roads feel like a smooth train ride.” The ride takes passengers 380 miles from downtown Los Angeles to downtown San Francisco. In San Francisco, arrival and departure is at Pier 48; in Los Angeles, it’s at Palisades Park at Ocean Avenue and Arizona in Santa Monica. The last ticket price we saw was $115. For more information, visit: www.ridethecabin.com.
Cartoon Character-Theme Hotel to Open Next Year in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: It is likely that no one has ever stayed in a hotel like the one planned to open next summer in Lancaster County—the Cartoon Network Hotel. From the 165-room hotel’s lobby to its kitchen guests will see characters from the network’s popular shows, such as Adventure Time, We Bare Bears, the Powerpuff Girls and Ben 10. Guests will have a chance to dine with some characters and will also be treated to new cartoons before their broadcast debut. Plans also call for an indoor arcade, kids play area, coffee lounge, wine bar and Cartoon Network store. Also, the new property is next door to the Dutch Wonderland Amusement Park, which has more than 35 rides, attractions and shows. The Cartoon Network Hotel is a project of Palace Entertainment owns and operates more than 20 amusement parks and water parks in the United States and Australia. The Cartoon Network Hotel project is Palace’s first partnership with an international brand on lodging. For more information, visit www.PalaceEntertainment.com, or call 949.261.0404.
Virgin Holidays is encouraging British holidaymakers to spend more time exploring the West Coast of the USA launching three highly personalized tours throughout California. Branded as The Showcase Collection, the three tours will test the appeal for greater escorted itineraries, with the tour operator prepared to roll out more Showcase tours across the US and Canada over the next 18 months. Virgin said the launch of the three new tours will support the two key West Coast gateways of Los Angeles and San Francisco and are designed to encourage more British holidaymakers to venture outside of key cities. All three tours will host between 20 and 40 guests and will run in June, August and September 2019. Each tour is a one-off, unique itinerary, exploring the breadth and diversity of the Californian state and targeted at three distinct travelers: families, empty nesters and the luxury market. The three tours include a 14-day Californian Family Adventure taking in Anaheim, Palm Springs, Los Angeles and Huntington Beach from £4,769 ($6,200); a nine-day Virgin Vines tour from £2,686 (3,493) per person, taking in California’s Wine Country; and one called California Dreaming, a 10-day mixed board tour from £5,049 (6,566) per person from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Prices exclude flights. For more information, visit www.virginholidays.co.uk.
At a Glance: Chicago’s North Shore
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HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Anna Karnowski has been named senior director of sales for the One World Observatory in New York City. She joins from SPYSCAPE. A veteran of the tour and travel industry for more than a dozen years, Karnowski previously held senior sales positions at Spyscape, New York Water Taxi and Top of the Rock.
Tommy Ryder has started a new position as Regional Head of Sales, North America at Hotelbeds. Prior to than he was in a similar capacity at GTA and Kuoni Group.
Gonzalo del Rio has been named part of the team at American Executive International, a Miami-based receptive tour operator. He joins the company from the V& E Restaurant Group. Prior to that, he was with Hard Rock International, for more than a dozen years, lastly as director, international tour & travel, North America.
Christian Boell has been appointed by Kuoni parent DER Touristik Group to lead its cruise division. He joins the company from Norwegian Cruise Lines, where he was managing director, EMEA. Boell will be tasked with implementing a DER tourism-wide strategy for cruise sales.
Darshika Jones is the new director, North America, for Intrepid Group, the world’s largest adventure travel company. Jones replaces former North American director, Leigh Barnes, who moved into the newly-created role of chief purpose officer in July 2018 to focus on developing Intrepid Group’s purpose-based initiatives. North America has been the fastest-growing region for the Australia-based company. Previously, Jones was the Intrepid Group’s finance director.
UNIGLOBE Travel has announced the appointment of Dean Dacko to the position of regional president of the UNIGLOBE Eastern Canada Region. In his new role Dacko will be directly responsible for the continued growth and success of the region, with a primary focus on new business development, brand marketing, and building relations with all stakeholders domestically and internationally.
A long-time veteran of the tour and travel industry, Dacko has held senior management positions at Air Canada Vacations, Carlson Marketing, Budget Rental Car Canada and Just Vacations Ltd.
Juha Jarvinen has been named executive vice-president, commercial, or Virgin Atlantic. Jarvinen joins from Finnair and brings 20 years aviation experience. He will be responsible for Virgin Atlantic’s network, revenue and loyalty program, and building the airline’s joint venture partnership with Delta Air Lines.
Anna Fawcett has appointed to global head of marketing for Topdeck Travel, a global youth tour operator (“trips for 18-30 somethings” as its own logo puts it) with substantial product in North America. Fawcett previously worked at VisitBritain as global influencer manager where she was involved in the launch of the tourist board’s global brand campaign “I Travel For…” across 20 markets.
Stephan Forget for 26 years at Go West Tours
Cathy Reynolds for 19 years at the U.S. Travel Association
Greg Edwards for 18 years at the Greater Des Moines CVB
Tom Norwalk for 13 years at Visit Seattle
Emily Grandgeorge for 12 years at Green Light Group
Justin Bresler for 10 years at Visit Denver
Lilly Kelly for 10 years at Visit Anchorage
Susan Farewell for 9 years at Farewell Travels
Stephanie Pyle for 8 years at the Jefferson Clinton Hotel
Ana Vainstein for 2 years at TBO Holidays