Gotta Go? Chinese Attractions Using Facial Recognition to Limit Toilet Paper Use
There have been more than a few news reports from certain destinations in China that government officials have begun to install facial recognition technology at popular (and busy) public places—such as Beijing’s Temple of Heaven or the Baotu Spring Park in Jinan, the capital of Shandong province, where the technology is being used to regulate the amount of toilet paper that a visitor to these attractions can use. And if a patron tries to make a repeat visit to the toilet paper machine too quickly, he or she will find that the paper supply is cut off.
Here is how it works. A visitor walks up to the machine and has his or her face scanned, and then the dispenser gives them about 27 inches of toilet paper. In ordered to receive another length of paper, users have to wait nine minutes and have another facial scan.
See video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoLHPfeTu1o
First appearing last year, this technology has been initially aimed at popular tourist destinations in an effort to keep the bathrooms as clean and efficient as possible. The idea is to restrict toilet people to people who may be coming back too frequently, ensuring that a sufficient amount remains to take care of the high traffic in these tourist areas.
“Today in China, people are highly enthusiastic about tourism, and we have entered a new era of public tourism,” Zhan Dongmei, a researcher with the China Tourism Academy, told a Russian media outlet. “The expectation of the public for the toilet is becoming higher.”
As pointed out in a CBC report, the cleanliness of bathrooms is taken into account when the China National Tourism Administration gives out ratings for attractions. That has put cleanliness as a top priority at places like Beijing’s Temple of Heaven, where officials have tried to cut down on the number of visitors who take wads of toilet paper for personal use later on.
While news accounts of the development seem to have been written with a chuckle-inducing intent, they have also prompted some alarm over the spreading use of facial recognition in China, where government officials and businesses officials have deployed the technology widely.
Three Leading European Markets Signal a Strong 2019 for Travel
A combination of forecasts and the latest data available for the UK, Germany and France suggest that, even with the euro and British pound still performing at sluggish levels against the U.S. dollar, the outlook for this year has tour and travel industry leaders and analysts anticipating an increase in visitors to the USA from the three countries, which rank as three of the Top 10 overseas source markets for U.S. inbound tourism.
In fact, the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office’s forecast arrivals totals for visitors to the U.S. in 2018—4.67 million from the UK; 2.14 million from Germany; and 1.8 million from France—show that the three country markets produce just over one out of every five (21 percent) of all overseas arrivals to the United States. Following are some notes gleaned from the latest dispatches of the tour and travel industry trade press in the three countries.
Just released data from the UK’s Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that overall outbound travel from the country was up across the board during peak travel months in 2018—this despite a year-long drumbeat of news that has all but predicted a decline a in British travel abroad. In fact:
—British travelers made more than 24 million trips abroad in the peak travel months of July, August and September of 2018, which is one percent above what it was for the same period in the previous year. Travel spending was up three percent.
—Visits to other countries in Europe remained about the same.
—Even though the peak travel months had widely varied totals (See table below), overall year-to-date travel to North America in 2018 was up one percent vs. 2017. The figure for July is skewered because almost all of England stayed home from June 14 till mid-July as England’s soccer team played into the final week of the event. And nearly no one traveled abroad (unless it was to Moscow, host city for the event) during the World Cup finals that followed.
—Most travel agents across the UK have reported strong January summer holiday sales for 2019.
It’s a “Sunny outlook for 2019” declared the German travel trade publication FVW as it reported that, according to TUI, the largest tour operator in Europe, “German leisure travel will grow solidly this year.” Over the past half-year, the tone of the language assessing the outlook for the German market has gotten considerably brighter—from cautiously optimistic to almost buoyant. The change in tone was evident at the recent (Jan. 12-20) CMT show in Stuttgart, where the findings from the annual Reiseanalyse survey of some 7,500 consumers were released. Overall, it indicated that “the prospects for German outbound travel look good for 2019 thanks to a stable economy and continuing high travel demand.” Other findings included the following:
—Prof. Martin Lohmann, responsible for the in-depth annual survey, which is conducted by the FUR research network, described the current “mood for holidays” as “extremely good.” In general, Germans are “experienced travelers, demanding, wanting to discover and multi-optional,” and are planning more trips and higher spending in 2019, he emphasized.
—Germans have both time (63 percent) and money (60 percent) to go on holiday this year, one percentage point higher than last year’s figures.
—Travelers plan to keep a closer eye on costs in 2019. Twenty-nine percent of respondents want to spend more on their holiday (down one percent from last year) while 14 percent plan to reduce holiday spending compared to 13 percent last year.
—In 2018, Germans went on about 71 million holidays (+2 percent) and spent a total of €75 billion, or $85.2 billion (+3 percent), the survey results showed. In addition, the number of short trips (2-4 days) increased by one percent to 92 million.
Meanwhile, TUI Germany also released its current bookings trends, with Stefan Baumert, TUI Germany’s tourism director telling FVW “Germans are again in the mood to travel in 2019. There are already signs of a good start to the summer season.”
TUI’s market assessment indicated that while demand for USA, which is the number one long-haul destination, is modest, long-haul holidays are gaining popularity, with the company reporting a 20 percent increase in bookings for this segment.
“The United States continues to be popular among tourists!” declared Didier Forray in a column for the French travel trade journal Tour Hebdo. The column took issue with a recent outlook for international travel piece to the U.S. in which David Huether, senior vice president for research at the U.S. Travel Association, said “a number of factors, including rising trade tensions, slowing global growth and the rising dollar against other currencies throughout 2018 could potentially hinder international passenger arrivals in the short term.”
“This global forecast appears to be well out of date on the French market, which should break all its records in 2018,” said Geoffrey Duval, president of the Paris-based United States Office of Tourism in France, declaring that “All the tour operators, be it in B2B or B2C, agree that last year was excellent.”
“Some tour operators have even recorded double-digit growth, which had not happened for a long time in this market,” he added, noting that the list of favored destinations in America remains the same as in previous years with New York, the U.S. West and Florida leading the list. Duval indicated that Hawaii and Oregon are starting to make their mark, alongside Colorado, Nevada and Louisiana.
As for 2019, reported Tour Hebdo, French tour operators say it is still too early to communicate figures but all expect an increase. Duval says that the tour operator members in France are said to be “satisfied” with the first bookings for the coming summer.
Other notes on the French market from Tour Hebdo:
—Tour operators note a decline in guided tours for the benefit of autotours and “à la carte” itineraries. “The circuits are clearly down while autotours continue to grow, year after year,” said Thierry Maillet, sales director of the French Circuits.” The” à la carte “is more and more requested which makes us optimistic for 2019,” noted Charles Julien, product manager North America at Jetset.
—The weakness of the euro against a rising dollar should also have an impact on travel to the United States. “This is not going to prevent people from leaving, but the dollar is changing travel patterns,“ said Duval, “with a strong dollar, some customers will be inclined to book a lower-class hotel or reduce the length of their stay.” Barbara Grenie, product director of Vacances Fabuleuses, was more reassuring, saying “We do not have any particular concern about the exchange rate because this trend exists one year out of two at most for this destination”.
—The socio-economic situation in France weighs on the morale and behavior of consumers. “With the movement of yellow vests, the French are not too thinking about the holidays,” said Maillet, who is, however, optimistic for the rest of the year: “The United States will always (be a) dream and, sooner or later, customers will return to agencies! “
For the Record: In it most recent long-term forecast for arrivals to the U.S., the National Travel and Tourism Office has forecast that, for 2019: UK arrivals will increase by 2 percent; Germany by 2 percent; and France by 4 percent.
NAJ Announces First-ever Tour Operator Technology Summit
NAJ’s upcoming RTO Summit East is slated to take place April 24-25 at the Park Central hotel in Manhattan, dedicating its first day to a new feature: the first ever Tour Operator Technology Summit, which is designed to help international, receptive and domestic tour operators take advantage of some of the latest applications that will allow them to design, build, and customize tour packages as well as learn how to use new tools to increase and manage their business.
“The reason we’re creating this event is that, while travel companies have become ever more sophisticated with connectivity and technology, receptive and domestic tour operators have fallen behind and it’s our hope that this will help them stay competitive.” said Jake Steinman, CEO of the NAJ Group, which hosts the RTO Summit Series. “Most tour operators I know don’t have time to attend webinars or schedule Go-to-Meeting demo’s with vendors, so we’re inviting representatives from the following companies that we’ve identified to have product suitable for small and mid-size operators to present so they can see and demo the product in one place.”
The following Companies have been invited to present:
- Cangooroo by Juniper
- Tailor Made Tour by eMinds
- Trip Creator
- Tour Plan
- Secure Me
- Breakaway Travel
- Derby Soft
- Lumen 5
- Eat With
A Note: Space is limited and available on a first-come basis. For qualified receptive and domestic operators, registration for the Technology Summit is $199 and covers the full day session and demo lab.
To Register click here.
Provisional Agenda Tour Operator Technology Summit
April 24, 2019, Park Central Hotel, New York City
(i=invited but not confirmed)
9:00-9:15 am Introductions and Overview Jake Steinman, Founder and CEO, NAJ Group
The following 12 companies have been invited to present:
9:15-10:00 am: Tour Operator Tech Panel: A panel of small and mid-size receptive tour operators will discuss their needs, frustrations and experience in their quests for the front and back end technology vendors. Companies that we plan to invite include: New World Travel, AlliedTPro, and TourMappers.
10:00-10:20 am: Cangooroo by Juniper. “Front end CRM system and back end booking system that allows you to manage online-inventory of your own product and external-supplier product, offer your full inventory via XML to clients all over the world.” Marianna Manigold, Juniper., (i) See website here: https://cangooroo-booking-engine.ejuniper.com/index_pt.html
10:20-10:40 am: Tailor Made Tour. “Thanks to a simple, intuitive and appealing interface, you can create your TailorMadeTour starting from default but customizable itineraries or from start.” Roberto Di Leo, eMinds (i). See website here: http://www.eminds.it/en/eminds-tailormadetour.php.
10:40-11:00 am: TripCreator Builds Travel Packages, and complete itinerary booking in one place. See website here: https://www.tripcreator.com
11:00-11:20 am: TourPlan “We offer modest, practical solutions for small and medium size tour operators. Tourplan is the world’s best tour operator technology platform. It is designed as a comprehensive solution for quoting and operating tours.” Craig Gray, TourPlan (i) https://www.tourplan.com/
11:20-11:40: MORNING BREAK
11:40 am: eRoam Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Solutions for the Global Travel Industry— eRoam technology that allows operators to take their current client’s data to predict future travelers (of the same “look alike” peer group) and provides the best recommendation for itineraries. Bob Gilbert. North American Representative, eRoam
11:50 am: How We Built a Booking Engine Free using Google Drive … Breakaway Tours, a domestic tour operator near Pittsburgh, developed their own booking technology using the tools on Google Drive-FREE. Charley Troggio, Breakaway Travel.
12:00 noon: TravelTek. Traveltek’s dynamic packaging iBOS Back Office systems was created to help tour operators. Rosen Sweeney, TravelTek. (i)
12:20 pm: Secure Me A real-time APP is designed to place location based, real time situational awareness that places the location of each member of the group tour operator and group leader’s hand. Robert Aromondo, Interelgroup (i)
12:40-2:00 pm: LUNCH ON OWN
2:00-2:20 pm: Eat With. This app is like an Airbnb for hosts who wish to prepare meals for groups in their own homes. Tech Summit will show you how you can connect with these epicurean enthusiasts to offer your clients a “dine with a local” experience. www.eatwith.com. James Selich, Eat With Host (i)
2:20-2:40 pm: Lumen 5. This app uses AI in a simple way that can transform your itineraries into videos to enhance sales materials as well as explain tour options. (see an example here). Mike Chung, Lumen 5,Founder (i)
2:40-3:00 pm: Channel Manager Presentation. Channel managers offer software connection that allow receptive and domestic tour operators to connect directly to inventories of thousands of hotels and attractions. Examples of channel managers are: Derbysoft, Rezdy, Fareharbor and Bokun.
3:00-3:20 pm: Jeenie. Jeenie is a mobile app for Independent travelers who may need language assistance. Think of it as an “Uber for live translators through your phone” who can be summoned through Facetime video or audio. Kirsten Baker, Founder and CEO, Jeenie.
3:30-5:00 pm: TOUR OPERATOR TECH SUMMIT DEMO LAB Each technology provider will be assigned a roundtable from which they will demonstrate their product in minigroups.
For more assistance or for information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact us or call us at 415-339-0578.
The Future of Chinese International Travel
Companies that specialize in data analysis and research, as well as marketing and communications that do business with the Chinese travel market are regularly producing and distributing products aimed at helping travel suppliers and destinations with the latest technology and techniques designed to develop or increase market share.
When a particularly good survey, study or report comes to our attention, we like to share what we can from such works with our readers. Recently, we came across a new product put out by the Resonance Consultancy—a New York-based company best known for its annual “World’s Best Cities” ranking—in partnership with China Luxury Advisors: The Future of Chinese International Travel.
The 60-page report contains a wealth of new data on the Chinese traveler—from their favorite destinations and travel preferences to their preferred information sources and holiday activities. There are also a handful of case studies illustrating what some U.S. travel suppliers and destinations have done to increase their business and profile with the Chinese travel trade and travelers. We’ve sifted through the full report and have come up with what we believe are its salient points; a digested version of The Future of Chinese International Travel follows. Most of the content is taken directly from the publication, with some edits and changes on our part.
A Big Picture Getting Bigger: Over the next decade, the number of international Chinese travelers could nearly triple. The China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) predicts that international trips by the country’s residents will increase from 145 million in 2017 to more than 400 million by 2030. Because relatively few Chinese citizens have passports, the potential for growth in a country of 1.4 billion is huge. Ctrip CEO Jane Sun predicts that the number of Chinese passport holders will double to 240 million by 2020. If the numbers hold true, in just over a decade the Chinese will account for a quarter of all international travel around the globe.
Significantly, while Chinese travelers have only been venturing internationally a fraction of the time of western travelers—bear in mind that the country didn’t open up until 1978, and widespread overseas travel is a product of the new millennium—they’re rapidly making up for lost time and quickly mastering the steps to travel virtuosity.
In short, in less than a decade, Chinese travelers have gone from passive observers of the scene from the seat of a bus to active seekers of unique experiences… like travelers everywhere. As a result, it’s no longer enough to have Approved Destination Status, easy visa entry, a Mandarin website, a kettle in every hotel room and mobile pay options—although our study shows that payment options in particular can help. Offerings now need to keep pace with the blistering speed of Chinese travelers’ evolution into the less definable, more visceral realm of ‘experience.’
China, then, is more than just a threat. As more Chinese travel independently, over-tourism grows hand in hand with the opportunity to share the wealth with small, smart markets that can offer off-the-beaten-path and off-season experiences.
Source: The Future of Chinese International Travel
The Rise of the Independents: The world has been taken by surprise by the speed at which Chinese travelers have evolved from passive tour bus passengers to unfettered independent travelers. Most western observers are more familiar with the arc of North American experience in European travel and the dawn of travel independence in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Today, the great accelerator and boldness builder is mobile technology. It’s empowering travelers from solo women to Chinese families. A phone is a smart, experienced travel companion that knows not only where the closest café/bank/festival/landmark is but ranks it for you. Your maps mean you’re never, ever lost. And perhaps most important, you may be independent, but you’re never alone
How prevalent is independent travel today? When Resonance asked, “When you travel outside of Asia on vacation, how do you plan your next trip?” the top answer was still “Purchase a pre-planned tour to handle all accommodations and tour guides” at 28 percent, but it came only slightly ahead of “Purchase a package, but travel on my own without a guide.” Next was “Purchase my travel arrangements on my own, but hire a tour guide or driver,” followed closely by “Completely on my own with no package tour or tour guide.”
Source: The Future of Chinese International Travel
Millennials are far more likely to travel solo than older travelers—10 percent versus 6 percent—but most Chinese like to travel with people they’re close to: most respondents want to travel with kids, followed by “with friends.” A distant third is “family without kids.” Fourth is multigenerational travel. “On my own” is least preferable for older travelers, who might lack the language skills and experience of their children or grandkids.
The desire for independent travel is most prevalent among younger Chinese in first-tier cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Shenzhen—the so-called Bei-Shang-Guang-Shen—whose inhabitants are most likely to have already made overseas trips.
Until 1978, when China’s reform and opening up began under Deng Xiaoping, less than 20 percent of its population lived in cities, according to The Telegraph. Since then, tens of millions of rural Chinese have poured into urban places, and perhaps 250 million more will follow in their footsteps over the coming decade. That displacement will have given birth to 221 cities with a population of at least 1 million people by 2025, according to the global consulting firm McKinsey.
Call of the Wild: When we asked Chinese travelers their most important considerations for choosing vacation destinations, safety was first, as it is with travelers most everywhere in the world. Interestingly, quality of the natural environment/scenery is second, ahead of warm climate and even the iconic landmarks we associate with Chinese travel—the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, Golden Gate Bridge and others (4th), political climate (5th) and online peer reviews and ratings (e.g., Mafengwo, Qyer, Dianping) (6th).
Source: The Future of Chinese International Travel
Outside of Asia, one of the closest sources of a great natural environment and scenery is Australia, the destination our panel most intends to visit in the next 12 to 24 months. France, USA, Italy, New Zealand, Canada and Germany follow. This has not gone unnoticed by the Australians, for whom China is now the country’s largest source of short-term visitor arrivals, particularly around the Lunar New Year.
Active Leisure Blows up: For many Chinese travelers, leaving the country now also means definitively leaving their comfort zones. When we asked which activity they enjoy currently or would like to try, “swimming at a beach or hotel pools”’ and “cycling” topped the list. But “extreme sports” (like rock climbing and skydiving) are activities many travelers want to try. Skiing and snowboarding are already popular, as are watersports like water skiing, wakeboarding and surfing. Horseback riding has almost as many practitioners as those who want to try it, as does scuba diving.
Source: The Future of Chinese International Travel
It’s All about Mobile: For young Chinese travelers, mobile technology is what makes a trip real. Without the witnessing, researching, proving, bragging, booking and sharing it makes possible, there is literally no trip. Smartphones are more than a tool. They mean the world.
Travelers, particularly the young, make mobile an integral part of the travel experience. Daily or occasionally:
—91 percent visit websites to research things to see and do;
—89 percent post online reviews of experiences; 89% use travel guide apps;
—88 percent post photos on social media;
—90 percent daily or occasionally use their technology to make calls; and
—87 percent hourly or daily chat with friends on WeChat.
Source: The Future of Chinese International Travel
App & Platform Wars: Opposing apps are multi-purpose, hydra-headed and increasingly indispensable tools for living: WeChat, launched in 2011, provides messaging, social media and mobile payment and has an astonishing more than 1 billion monthly active users. Alipay, which debuted in 2004, has 520 million monthly active users, describing itself as having evolved from “a digital wallet to a lifestyle enabler.”
While WeChat is the relative newcomer, its dominance as the de facto ‘life operating system’ is giving it a grip on young travelers, research shows that of Millennial overseas travelers, 80 percent daily or occasionally consult official WeChat accounts of destinations they visit, and 87 percent chat with friends hourly or daily on WeChat.
Source: The Future of Chinese International Travel
—Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho came together to promote self-drive itineraries in and around Yellowstone National Park
—Utah’s “How to Utah” video series. The Utah Office of Tourism engaged a young, bilingual influencer to create a series of engaging videos to help put the often-dizzying destination options and intimidatingly wide vistas and fragile environments in context for an audience of mainly urban and young Chinese professionals.
—City Experience Travel Guides: Seattle. Visit Seattle collaborated with WeChat to launch a Seattle city guide this year, integrating location-based search, mapping functionality, hotel and attraction information and a variety of other features into a MiniProgram that provides WeChat users with immediate resources in context
—The Beverly Center. The Beverly Center in Los Angeles has been actively marketing and adapting to the needs of Chinese tourists for five years. These comprehensive efforts include in-house advisors, specialized guest services in Chinese, local language Passport to Shopping for tourists, travel trade relationship building, student outreach, mobile and China UnionPay acceptance, Lunar New Year celebrations and more. Beverly Center has also spearheaded an industry-leading digital program targeting Chinese consumers. The tools include a dedicated Chinese website, as well as a ‘WeChat Mini-Program’ complete with Chinese language introductions.
—Caesars Entertainment, the leading global casino and hotel company, is constantly evolving technology and customer service. Caesars led the industry in obtaining WeChat’s first official service account in the U.S. and first direct booking on Chinese social media. It was also a leader in adopting Chinese mobile payments in the United States through its partnership with payment integration company Citcon.
A note on methodology: Resonance Consultancy and China Luxury Advisors surveyed more than 3,000 mainland Chinese tourists who traveled internationally over a 12-month period about their long-haul, international travel preferences. The respondents were aged 20 and older. Those surveyed comprised a profile that included representative demographics, household income and regions of the country. Results reflect an online study conducted by China Luxury Advisors from March 8, 2018 to April 6, 2018.
Travel Market Report Lists Payment Schedules of Key U.S. Operators
The Travel Market Report has issued its FIT/Packaged Vacations Report Card. And while the sample on pay policies that it uses for the Report Card is not comprised of those who bring international arrivals to the U.S., it helps to better understand the pay schedule policies of those involved in the tour operator-to-travel-agent-to-consumer distribution of the travel product.
Each supplier in Travel Market Report’s recent Report Card has its own schedule for paying commissions, and they vary quite a bit. With that in mind, coupled with “all the things travel advisors already need to juggle,” the Travel Market Report has created a handy reference guide featuring the payment schedules of 20 tour operators who package independent tours or itineraries.
This list is one of many policy summaries that can be found in Travel Market Report’s supplier report cards. For more information on topics such as familiarization trip policies, agent referral programs, direct marketing and more, download a copy of the FIT/Packaged Vacations Report Card. (https://www.travelmarketreport.com/library/tmr/TMRFITReportCard2018.pdf)
When asked what their schedule is for paying travel agent commissions, this is what suppliers had to say:
Source: Travel Market Report
Receptive Tour Operator of the Month
Founded in 1967 in Europe, Miki offers the tour and travel industry in the USA in-country office operations in four key U.S. destinations: New York, Orlando, Las Vegas and San Francisco—where its four contractors are located. The company’s sales office is in Orlando, where Henry Scovell, general manager of purchasing for the U.S., is located ([email protected]). And its global computer network allows its sales and operational offices to communicate directly with one another in all matters—from initial pricing to on the road co-ordination. The strength of Miki’s long-term partnerships with hotels and all other suppliers, combined with its buying power enables the company to offer the best availability at the best prices, even in periods of peak demand. Miki continues to expand its network to provide direct service contact in an ever-growing range of destinations. For 2019/20, the company tells INBOUND it has increased technology with the addition of dynamic pricing capabilities through channel managers.
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 listed on TheTourOperatorLand.com, 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.
If you would like to make personal contact with Miki Travel, check out the RTO Summit West in Marina del Rey, California next month—February 13-14, 2019. The company will be there. For more information, visit: www.rtosummit.com, or www.TourOperatorLand.com.
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
David Downing is leaving his post as president & CEO of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater, a department of the Pinellas County (Fla.) Government and the official tourism marketing and management organization for the St. Pete/Clearwater in order to make a move to the private sector, assuming a partnership stake in a Tampa Bay area-based hospitality development enterprise. Downing became CEO of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater in 2014, after servings for 5 years as the agency’s deputy director and as their corporate communications manager for 2 years.
Robin Sammartino has started a new position as contracting manager NorthEast USA at World2Meet(W2M). She joins the company following a tenure of more than 3 years a WebBeds Europe. Previously, she was purchasing manager Northeast USA & Canada for SunHotels.
Robert Murdock has been named president of the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau. Murdock, who has been with the organization since 2014—he was director of sports marketing and handled marketing to different group sectors—succeeds Scott Phelps, who has retired. Prior to joining the Convention & Sports Bureau, he held senior positions for sales and/or marketing or several different Boston-area organizations.
Custom FIT operator Avanti Destinations has named Jeannie Kutz as its Mid-Atlantic regional sales director, responsible for New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and North Carolina, as well the District of Columbia, Manhattan and the eastern areas of both Pennsylvania (to Harrisburg) and Tennessee (to Chattanooga and Knoxville). A 25-year veteran of the tour and travel industry, Kutz most recently as Northeast served as regional sales manager for Tahiti Travel Services, a tour operator headquartered in Papeete, French Polynesia.
Lesley Rollo has been appointed as the new managing director of Travelbag in the U.K. She comes to the company from her position as managing director of Hayes & Jarvis, Austravel & Jetsave for the Travelopia group. Rollo had been with the company for more than a dozen years.
Rob Lyons, director, tourism and partner strategy, recently took over tour and travel sales strategy for Madison Square Garden Company, promoting its teams (Knicks/Rangers), tours of Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, and its Christmas Spectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes. Lyons has been with the company for 7 years in marketing, focusing on promotional ticket sales partnerships and media planning.
George Welbers has left his post at Thomas Cook Germany. Welbers, who left the company at his own request, was omnichannel director at the company, and had been instrumental in implementing the new omnichannel concept, with which Thomas Cook actively and intensively integrated travel agencies into their own online sales. Welbers’ responsibilities in the area of omnichannel and e-commerce will be transferred to Carsten Seeliger, who has been sales manager in Germany since 2013. Thomas Cook Germany Managing Director Stefanie Berk thanked Welbers for his long-time engagement with Thomas Cook, and said that she regrets “very much that he will leave us”.
Alejandro Calligaris has been named CEO of the Best Day Travel Group, a tour operator with a strong presence in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia. He moves up from his post as chief revenue officers. He joined Best Day nine years ago as vice president and general manager of South America. Previously, he served as CEO of the online site Hoteldo.com.
Saga Holidays has announced the promotion of two of its senior team to fill two new director roles created following a structural review of its product and purchasing teams. Elanor Sahadow has been named director of commercial, responsible for the commercial and aviation functions along with commercial strategy for growth and retention for Saga Holidays; she moves from her role as head of the short haul business unit. Sahadow has been with Saga since 2011. Rob Goodwin, previously head of destination services and river cruising, takes on a key role as director of product and purchasing. Goodwin is a 20-year veteran of the tour and travel industry.
Céline Bonizec has joined the Salaün group as Salaün Holidays B2B sales representative. The Paris-based Salaün Holidays is a specialty tour operator that sells product from the USA and Canada, as well as other destinations. Originally from Finistère, Bonizec is now in charge of the management and valuation of the portfolio of travel agency clients in the Greater West. Céline Bonizec worked previously for Transat Holidays and Jet Set.
Charles Presley for 39 years at The Group Travel Family
Dave Burns for 26 years at All American Tours, Inc.
Jennifer Deutsch for 21 years at Educational Travel Adventures
Dean Smith for 19 years at WestWorld Tours
Corey Black for 18 years at Green Light Group Tours/Capitol Music Fest
Nancy Richardson for 11 years at Idaho Tourism
Susan Moore for 10 years at Caesars Entertainment
Ruth Mensch for 7 years at U.S. Travel Association
Gabriel E. Nunez for 6 years at GEN Travel Solutions
Vera Roncaglia for 5 years at Magic Stars Vacations
Pamela Joy for 4 years at Bloomington (Minn.) Convention & Visitors Bureau