Decline in New Foreign Student Enrollment at U.S. Universities Reported
The good news? Overall, the number of international students studying (and work-studying) in the U.S. continues to increase. In the most recent school year, they totaled 1,094,792 according to the latest numbers from the Institute of International Education (IIE).
The bad news? The number of new international students at colleges and universities fell more than 6 percent in the past school year, according to IIE’s latest Open Doors report—an annual release that details which countries are sending to students in the U.S., such as where they are attending and what states are hosting the most international students. The 2017-2018 school year marked the third consecutive year in which the number of new student enrollment decline.
And the worst news? Anecdotal accounts from some U.S. colleges and universities tell that some prospective students are staying away from studying in America because of President Donald Trump and his association with anti-immigration sentiment in the United States (“While other countries work hard to attract international students, we are managing to send a message that talented foreigners are not welcome here, just when we most need them,” Ángel Cabrera, president of George Mason University, told the Washington Post in a statement responding to the Open Doors report) as well as difficulties and delays in securing visas to the U.S.; and increased competition from colleges and universities in other countries.
Why is this news so important to the tour and travel industry? The United States remains the top host of international students globally. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, international students made a significant financial impact on the United States in 2017, contributing $42.4 billion to the U.S. economy through tuition, room and board—though no hard data are available on the subject, it is generally acknowledged that most international students in the U.S. are “cash customers”—and other expenses. And most students have family members who visit them at least once a year.
Consider the student market from China: According to the Open Doors report, the number of Chinese students studying in the U.S. last year totaled 363,341. Were Chinese students a stand-alone market, it would have ranked Number 23 among overseas source markets last year—just ahead of Denmark and just behind Ecuador. If each of these students generated another two visitors from home, it would mean that (students included) U.S. universities attract 1.09 million Chinese visitors per year.
How could overall student numbers increase, while the numbers of new student enrollments decline by nearly 7 percent? Current gains in the total number of international students are due primarily to increased participation in the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows international students to practice their skills in the United States for up to 12 months during or after they complete their academic programs, or up to 36 months for students who have earned a degree in STEM fields. OPT participation grew by 15.8 percent in 2017/18. Among enrolled students, declines were seen primarily at the graduate and non-degree levels.
Following are several tables with the data to answer the most frequently asked questions about the numbers foreign students and where they go to school in the United States.
For Upscale German Market Five Stars May Not Be Enough
A just-released survey of the top-earning one third of the population by German marketing and management consultants Inlux and Keylens have found, as the German travel trade publication FVW put it, “Luxury travelers in Germany want not only five-star hotels and top comfort but also unique experiences and quality time with their family, according to a new survey as well as specialist tour operators.”
The principal findings, contained in the annual report, “Consumer Generations,” indicated that “luxury customers are paying more attention to internet ratings and reviews but a five-star standard remains by far the most important factor.”
To illustrate the point, the study noted that luxury cruises are not only popular with older customers but are a relevant holiday option for more than half of those born since 1967. Expedition ships are attractive for many well-off travelers aged below 50. And nearly half (47 percent) of those born after 1995 would go on a luxury cruise holiday.
Other key findings, including a breakdown of the luxury market into five demographic groups, along with observations from four German tour operators, are highlighted below.
- There are two main types of travel motivators:
—Quality time with family or friends is the most important element for 62 percent of all respondents. Ideally this is combined with special moments or unique experiences that remain memorable for a long time.
—Another major need across all age-groups is for relaxation and compensation for stressful everyday life.
- There are five different generations, according to the survey, with differences in preferences apparent:
—The Silent Generation (born before 1946). Familiar surroundings on holiday and recognition by hosts is decisive for this customer segment. Five-star classification is less important than for other age-groups.
—Baby Boomer (1946-1966). Intense experiences, self-reflection, a “getting into balance” are the top factors for this customer segment. They are least likely to switch away from first-class hotels towards less comfort.
—Generation X (1967-1982). This age-group has the strongest desire for relaxation and recovery. They do not want to make any mistakes with their holiday booking and are most likely to rely on travel agents.
—Millennials (1983-1994). This generation has the highest proportion of “discoverers” who want to combine five-star luxury with intensive personal experiences. But they also have a high desire for relaxation.
—Generation Z (1995-2010). A change from everyday life, surprises and unique experiences on holiday are especially important for this age-group. But at the same time, they also have the second-highest score in terms of desire for relaxation.
- The survey findings are largely in line, said FVW, with the experiences of German tour operators in the premium market:
—Karl Pojer, vice president and CEO, of premium cruise operator Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, said luxury customers want “everything apart from the mainstream”, and are especially interested in “unique, individual and customized experiences in exciting parts of the world.” He emphasized that although digitalization is becoming more important it does not replace individual service and comfort. “High Tech does not replace High Touch,” he said.
—Steffen Boehnke, director TUI hotelbrands/cruises and the upscale operator Airtours, emphasized the need for flexibility given that customers want to have individual travel planning. Time is another important element. The desire to save travelling time while continuing to enjoy high standards of comfort is getting more important, he pointed out. Such factors are often much more important than the price of the holiday.
—Stephan Braun, managing director of Windrose Finest Travel, told FVW that many high-end customers also put priority on enjoying gastronomy on their trips, including regional specialties. A new trend, according to
—Marion Aliabadi, managing director of the luxury travel agency DESIGNREISEN, suggested that a new trend revolves about “healing.” This, she said, refers to living sustainability and “giving a meaning to your life.” This is particularly important for younger customers, she added.
“The overall importance of the premium market, according to experts,” opined FVW, “is not only its financial value in terms of revenues and profits. It is also seen as an early indicator of preferences and trends that later emerge in the larger mainstream market. For example, demand for more individual, customized holidays started in the luxury market and has spread into the mainstream market in recent years.”
Anchorage, Alaska, Knows What to do When, before—and even after a Disaster Strikes
When a Magnitude 7 earthquake center just several miles north of Alaska last Friday (Nov. 30th), the locals and other Alaskans they did not panic. Anchorage’s DMO, Visit Anchorage, also did not panic. And within a matter of days things, while not back to normal—as in the way it was the day before the earthquake struck—Alaskans in and about Anchorage are working busily to get to that point. “Normal” is a little hard to achieve when there are more than 2,000 aftershocks in the earthquake’s aftermath.
A Magnitude 7 quake in other parts of the United States, or in other parts of the world probably result in severe damage to roads, bridges and other infrastructure, as well as a death toll. Not Alaska. In this regard, to illustrate how well Anchorage deals with the disaster of an earthquake, David Kasser, vice president of Visit Anchorage, posted this on his Facebook page on December 4th.
The point is that Alaskans prepare well. One reason is that they’ve had practice. There has been a Magnitude 7 earthquake somewhere in or near Alaska yearly or the past 20 years or so. As such, there are strict building codes in place throughout the state designed to minimize the impact of a quake. Teams of government agencies are constantly monitoring movements in the plates below the surface and they work with the U.S. Geological Survey to be able to sound alarms whenever necessary. Law enforcement throughout the state drill and plan for what to do when an earthquake occurs.
Asleep at the Wheel? SF Hotel Principal Arrested or Sleeping While Driving a Tesla on Autopilot
Alex Samek, a principal in Proper Hospitality, which has a collection of hotels in California, was pulled over by police in the early morning hours this past Friday for being asleep behind the wheel, while the vehicle was still driving solo. His Tesla Model S was on autopilot while Samek was speeding south on Highway 101 when the vehicle was chased down by Palo Alto police and arrested at 3:37 a.m.
Police officers began following Samek’s car after spotting the Tesla moving along at 70 miles an hour, while it looked like the driver was passed out behind the wheel. They suspected the car was on autopilot mode, but the matter will be further investigated. In order to get the car to stop, a California Highway Patrol officer had to get in front of the Tesla to make it slow down and eventually pull over at a gas station.
When police officers looked into the car, the driver was still passed out. The officer who pulled him over said the driver appeared very drowsy and possibly sleeping, according to a local television news report. The driver was then awakened and allegedly failed a field sobriety test, and was arrested.
According to its LinkedIn profile Samek’s company, Proper Hospitality, designs, brands, and operates high-end lifestyle hospitality experiences under the Proper, Avalon and Custom brands. Proper Hospitality currently manages Avalon branded hotels in Beverly Hills and Palm Springs as well as the Custom Hotel in Playa Vista. The Company began rolling out the Proper brand with the opening of San Francisco Proper Hotel in September 2017. Over the next few years, additional Proper Hotels and Residences are slated to open in other U.S. cities, including Downtown Los Angeles Proper (Early 2019), Austin Proper (Early 2019) and Santa Monica Proper (Early 2019).
Tour Operator Kuoni is One of France’s Top 10 Overall Brands
The market research firm YouGov has just published its top 10 most recommended brands in all marketplace sectors by the French, and tourism brands comprised half of the Top 10.
With its ranking, Number 9 Kuoni has finished the year with a flourish. One month after having been voted “best tour-operator” brand by Capital in a trade ranking, Kuoni made the list 10 most recommended brands by the French to their friends and families, according to the YouGov study. Kuoni made ninth place with a score of 66.5 percent of positive recommendations. The honor comes just eight months after Kuoni France was acquired by the DER Touristik group, which is Germany’s second largest tour operator company, after TUI.
Each year, YouGov analyzes the recommendation rate of 835 brands in France. A panel of approximately 210,000 respondents who had already purchased a product of these brands was surveyed between November 1, 2017 and October 31, 2018.
In the ranking, which was dominated by Netflix (77.8 percent of recommendations), Singapore Airlines (73.1 percent) and Emirates (72.9 percent) moved up notches from their 2017 rankings to claim second and third place, respectively. Blablacar, a long-distance carpooling service, dropped to seventh place (the brand was fourth in 2017). Gîtes de France, a vacation rental/B&B provider, which climbed to eighth place with a score of 69 percent favorable recommendations
.Kuoni was the only tour operator to join the top 10 most recommended brands by the French, according to YouGov.
Chinese FIT’s: Women Outspending Men and Traveling More
They’re also spending more than men: The new 2018 Chinese Travel Consumer Report, just released by Ctrip.com International and MasterCard, says that 58 percent of FITs (free independent travelers) from China are women, while 42 percent are men. This more than reverses the percentages from 2016, when men were the majority of FITs—54 percent to 46 percent for women. (For purposes of the report, FITs are defined as those who self-book itineraries and travel in groups of fewer than 10.)
Not only do women comprise more FITs than men, they are young. According to the same report, a growing number of these travelers belong to the post-’90s and post-’00s generations. they also spend 14 percent more on average than their male counterparts, which is a major demographic shift in the profile for Chinese FITs (a growing proportion of overall Chinese travelers).
This isn’t the first report to note that women (and younger women) account for a larger proportion of Chinese travel bookings. In early November, the Chinese Luxury Travel Report, which was released at the International Luxury Travel Market trade show in Shanghai, found that wealthy Chinese travelers are more often female. And the China International Travel Monitor, a report issued this past summer—it was prepared by Hotels.com and Ipsos—found that most wealthy travelers are from the post-’80s and post-’90s generations and are spending “unprecedented amounts” on luxury holidays. And now, the average age of those wealthy travelers is getting even younger.
(It should be noted that group travel is, by all reliable counts, the predominant mode of travel for Chinese, and is expected to remain so for the immediately foreseeable future. Also, the figures here, along with the rest of the findings in the report, reflect Ctrip’s user base; however, as the most widely-used online travel agency in China by far, its user base is largely representative of the overall Chinese travel market.)
In the first nine months of the year, post-’90s and post-’00s travelers accounted for 32 percent of all Chinese travelers, according to the report, surpassing the post-’80s generation as the largest tourist age group for the first time. The report notes that these younger travelers are of a more independent generation and they’re more willing to spend freely on their trips. Post-90s outspend their post-’80s counterparts with $818 (5,689 yuan) per trip, and post-’00s travelers spend even more at close to 6,000 yuan ($864).
The 2018 Chinese Travel Consumer Report also suggests some major shifts in the kind of experiences Chinese travelers are seeking. For example, it reports that entertainment product bookings rose by 110 percent compared to last year and the per-capita spending on these types of experiences rose by 24 percent. This category includes sightseeing tours or guided visits, but also services like mobile Wi-Fi. Thus, even if overall spending per capita by China tourists is declining, there are a substantial number of Chinese tourists spending more money on key types of experiences.
Note: Jing Travel was the principal source for this article.
Mergers and Acquisitions & Restructurings
The Appointment Group has rebranded as TAG across its operations as part of an image revamp. The announcement came recently as the travel and event management company with offices in the UK, U.S. and Asia Pacific celebrated its 30th anniversary. TAG’s new logo and website are designed to strengthen the company’s positioning as pioneers in its field. A new tagline—“Experience More”—identifies and illustrates experiences as the common factor that connects all five divisions of the group: corporate, touring, events, private travel and film and media. The makeover follows a recent investment from private equity firm Apiary Capital and a new board of directors.
Hotelbeds has acquired ground transfer specialist HolidayTaxis Group. The acquisition, said the company, will complement its existing portfolio of content. The HolidayTaxis brand will remain separate and independent from Hotelbeds, but will form part of Hotelbeds’ recently renamed unit for ancillary activities, Beyond the Bed. HolidayTaxis Group, which operates as HolidayTaxis, is headquartered in the UK. It operates 21,000 transfer routes across 150 countries. The HolidayTaxis brand will remain separate and independent from Hotelbeds but will form part of the Beyond the Bed business.
Dubai-based air services provider dnata has announced that it has acquired a majority stake in bd4travel (Big Data for Travel), a tech company, which provides artificial intelligence (AI)-driven solutions to online travel agencies. Based in Germany and the UK, bd4travel’s algorithms allow online travel agencies to engage with anonymous customers and personalize their shopping experience in real-time, a company statement said. Operating in more than 40 sites, bd4travel currently serves leading travel entities in 17 markets and dnata said the announcement underlines its commitment to applying state-of-the-art technologies to improve efficiency and customer experience.
NEW AIR SERVICE
—Norwegian is expanding its low cost, long-haul network from Madrid with a new direct route to Boston, launching flights beginning May 2, 2019. The new connection will have a frequency of three times a week. The carrier will also maintain the four weekly flights to Los Angeles and increase flights to New York, which will go from having three a week to a daily connection in the next summer season of 2019. In total, in the summer season of 2020, Norwegian will offer 283,700 airplane seats from Madrid to the United States.
—Also, Norwegian recently added another 10 transoceanic routes to its winter schedule. in the past week. These include connections from London Gatwick to Tampa, and from Fort Lauderdale to Madrid.
—And finally, Norwegian plans to drop flights from London to Fort Lauderdale and Oakland from next March, replacing them with services to Miami and San Francisco instead. The carrier will operate daily flights from Gatwick to Miami, up from four-weekly services to Fort Lauderdale last summer, and five-weekly services to San Francisco, starting from March 31.
—Kenya Airways made history on October 28th when it launched non-stop flights between Nairobi and New York JFK. “This day and milestone will not only have a history on the aviation industry but also the history of the opening of the Eastern hemisphere,” said Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, Ambassador Monica Juma, who was on board the maiden flight.
—Canadian low-cost carrier Swoop has begun its first flights to the U.S. just in time for the start of the winter travel season. It launched four new U.S. connections in total over last month, including one from Edmonton and three from Hamilton.
—Brazilian budget airline GOL made a return to the U.S. market on November 4th, the day which saw it begin flights from Fortaleza and Brasilia to Orlando and Miami. Flights on the connection between Fortaleza (FOR) and Orlando will be flown five times weekly, while the routes from Brasilia to both Floridian airports will see a daily rotation. The carrier last flew to the United States in 2016.
—Avianca, the flag carrier of Colombia (it turned 99 years old on December 5th) expanded its network from Bogota on November 17th, launching four-times-a-week service to Chicago O’Hare. In the U.S., Avianca already has links to Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Los Angeles, Orlando, Miami, New York JFK and Washington Dulles from its base at the Colombian capital airport.
—Low-cost Mexican carrier Volaris has begun service between Leon/Guanajuato airport in Leon (about 235 miles north of Mexico City) and San Jose, California.
At a Glance: Mall of America
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HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) has selected a top Marriott hotel executive as its new president and CEO: Chris Tatum, who currently serves as area general manager of Marriott Hawaii, replaces former HTA president and CEO George Szigeti, who left the agency Oct. 31 following the board’s decision to terminate his contract without cause. Tatum was recruited by Marriott straight out of college; since then and has moved 16 times in 34 years. Over the years, he has served in senior management positions at Marriott properties in Hawaii.
Jennifer Haz has been promoted to the post of vice president of communications at the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. She previously served as director of media relations for the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. Haz has been with the bureau for more than 16 years.
Kelly Craighead, former deputy assistant secretary for travel and tourism in the U.S. Department of Commerce, has been named as the new president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). She succeeds Cindy D’Aoust, who announced earlier this year that she would be stepping down after two years on the job. From 1993 to 2001, Craighead served on the White House Staff, working as Deputy Assistant to both President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton. She later served as president and managing director of the nonprofit Democracy Alliance.
Former tour operator Claude Blanc has been appointed director of the WTM Portfolio, which is owned by Reed Exhibitions. WTM Portfolio includes the World Travel Market (WTM) London, Travel Forward, the International Travel & Tourism Awards, WTM Africa, Arabian Travel Market and WTM Latin America. Blanc has more than 25 years in top management roles across the tour and travel industry. Until recently, he was CEO at Paris-based Travel & Co, a tour operator group he founded in 2007.
Long time industry veteran Clare Carter has joined the Voyages team at U.S. Tours. Carter’s career includes tenures in key sales positions at several tour and travel companies.
Shavonne Harding has been promoted to the position of regional director of sales for the U.S. central and west coast regions for Visit Baltimore. She joined the organization last March as senior national sales manager. Previously, she held sales positions for Destination DC and the Freeman Company.
Eric Gordon for 15 years at Beyond Times Square Inc.
Leo Yao for 12 years at Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
Randy Fiveash for 10 years at the State of Connecticut
Karen Gonzalez for 1 year at the International Association of Exhibitions and Events.