Snapshots of Inbound Trends From 11 Countries—Part One
“A Brief Snapshot of Major Source Market Trends & Updates” was the official title of Stefan Merkl’s presentation at the NAJ Group’s recent RTO Summit West in Los Angeles. Judging by the enthusiastic response received by those in attendance, for those not familiar with his deep knowledge of, and experience in, the tour and travel industry, it very well might have been called something like “All you need to know about the state of the inbound tour and travel industry in the USA in 40 minutes.”
The Florida-based Merkl, a German expatriate and founder of Explore Marketing who has considerable experience in the industry, spoke from authority. His analysis was gleaned, in part, from meetings with 496 companies—including international tour operators and U.S.-based receptive tour operators he met over the course of the past year during a dozen roadshows, trade shows and sales missions in 13 countries. This provided the basis for a report that covered seven out of the Top Ten overseas source markets for tourism to the United States—seven markets that account for more than 40 percent of all overseas travel to the USA.
With a delivery that had the rapt attention of RTO Summit delegates, Merkl discussed overall trends, followed by a market-by-market assessment that touched up key developments in seven of them. INBOUND’s synopsis of his remarks follows.
Overall Trends. Across the inbound marketplace, Merkl said, there has been growth in:
—Fly-drive travel, especially in RV and rental car use;
—A higher-end market that is characterized by small group sizes (up to a maximum of 16 travelers);
—The inclusion of personalized local experiences into leisure group itineraries;
—A generational move from leisure group travel to FIT travel;
—More “off-the-beaten-path” experiences and food tours, such as those that feature home cooking classes;
—Wellness and medical tourism; and
—Education-related and educational travel.
Overall Trends. Destination Interests of Overseas Travelers
—The 2018 top destinations in the USA: Hawaii, California, Alaska, Nevada and New York.
—The USA’s current main competitors in 2018: Canada, Australia and South Africa.
Overall Trends. Growth of Technology and OTAs
—“Info & Bookings on the Go.” Part of a mobile society, travel consumers are accessing information via apps instead of web browsers, and are shifting from booking through travel agencies to booking direct.
—Sourcing from OTAs. Tour operators are buying accommodations and auxiliary services from OTAs for real time data and dynamic pricing
—Acquisitions. We’ve witnessed the TUI Group’s purchasing of Musement; Booking.com’s acquisition of Fareharbor; and the merger of GTA and Tourico into Hotelbds, which created an opening for European bedbanks in the USA (WORLD2MEET, OTS Globe); and Webjet’s takeover of Destinations of the World
—Tools for Tailor-Made Travel. Technology is guiding travel agents, and CRMs for tour guides to identify traveler/customer needs and wants.
—There is a need for real-time data, and tour and travel entities are using XML and API connectivity for latest pricing and product availability.
—Promotion. OTAs have more budget for marketing and promotion than others and competitive pricing is evident across the tour and travel industry.
Country Market Updates—Part One: Australia/New Zealand, India, China, South Korea and the UK
Australia/ New Zealand
—These two countries comprise a highly consolidated market with two key players (Flight Centre and Helloworld) dominating around two-thirds of the market.
—The way of doing business is characterized by continued use of traditional booking channels with travel agents.
—Here, there is an increased importance for the role played by independent travel agent networks. and distribution tools (i.e., Excite Holidays, Travel Counsellors, Expedia Agent Network).
—There is Increased use of online platforms, such as Webjet, among younger travelers.
—Corporate growth has been realized through brand acquisitions.
—Aussies and Kiwis are very independent travelers who take long long holidays in the USA.
—There is no language barrier. .
—They are willing to explore 2nd and 3rd-tier destinations
—Receptive tour operators are used for U.S. group business include: New World Travel, Destination America, Go West Tours and ATI.
—Wholesale Channels used for FIT business include: Flight Centre, Helloworld, Webjet, Expedia, Viator, America 4 You are used for FIT business.
—It is the world’s 2nd most populous country whose people have growing disposable income.
—Growth rates in arrivals from India have ranged between 5 and 19 percent over the last 5 years.
—In 20107, there were 1.285 million visitors from India to the U.S.
—English is India’s unifying language.
Opportunities and Trends
—Trips to the USA often come in form of “Bleisure,” which combines a business/work trip with leisure.
—Visiting friends and family is a key element also for trips to the U.S., so one may take a group tour and then stay with family afterwards.
—Opulence is a theme in group travel.
—Younger travelers are moving towards FIT, opening up doors to “off-the-beaten path” destinations.
—Educational travel for young audiences is key, and official certificates of completion popular.
—Noticeable easing in dietary restrictions for Indian travelers (i.e., while many Indians require vegetarian dining options, many do not.)
India’s Travel Industry
—It is a highly diverse industry with thousands of independent travel agents who either buy from India-based tour operators or international wholesalers such as Hotelbeds.
—There has been a major adjustment to the market with the two main traditional adversaries—SOTC Kuoni and Thomas Cook India—is owned by the Toronto-based Fairfax Group. The U.S.-based receptive tour operator, AlliedTPro, is owned by the same company, so the purchasing channel of Thomas Cook India for U.S. product may change this year.
New Source Regions
—Initially, travelers came to the U.S. primarily from Tier 1 cities, namely Mumbai and Delhi.
—An increasing number of travelers now come from Tier 2 regions that have become very wealthy, such as Gujarat.
—Traditional Tour Operators: Thomas Cook India, SOTC, Cox and Kings, Vacations Exotica.
—Indian Wholesalers: Yatra, Otilla, TBO India, Rezlive.
—Online Travel Companies: Ezeego One, Go MMT, plus other international OTAs such as Expedia, Booking, Klook, and Viator.
—RTOs for Indian Group Tour Market: Tours Limited, AlliedTPro, Maxim Tours, Worldwide DMC, Red Carpet Travel.
—Major Wholesalers for FIT business: Hotelbeds, Viator, Klook, ATI, Pegasus.
—It is world’s largest (traveling) population.
—Traditionally, it has been heavily group-tour focused.
—Travelers from Tier 2 and 3 cities are still fairly new to travel and focus on group tours.
—Group travel will remain the dominant form of travel for some time.
—However, younger travelers and those from Tier 1 cities are moving towards FIT travel, and due to the large population, these numbers are massive too.
Mobile Bookings & FITs
—China is a mobile society which is digitally connected and increasingly books via apps.
—Peer-to-peer feedback is a significant factor in making travel decisions.
—Over the past years, social media apps such as WeChat and Weibo have become at the center of activity.
—New travel planning tools such as Mafengwo combine peer feedback with curated content and marketplace features.
—Zuzuche allows FITs to plan, book and execute self-drive vacations.
—Higher decline rates for Visa approval.
—The 10-year visa for the USA—it encourages repeat visits, but has also caused some visa holders to postpone trips and go elsewhere.
—Political and economic conflicts.
—Price; the cost of Southeast Asia trips are less expensive.
—Online discounting, price wars.
—Repeat travelers to the USA want to explore 2nd and 3rd-tier destinations versus simply the big gateways.
—The market continues to grow.
—Newer destinations may still experience double-digit growth as these travelers explore newer places, seek new experiences, etc.
—Solid spending figures, even if the focus of the spending may shift away from shopping towards experiences.
Group Tour Operators
—There is a vast range of operators, often with extremely similar and confusing names. They include: Utour, Shanghai Spring Travel, Galaxy Tour, AITS, CYTS, CTS, Sparkle Tour, Great Wall.
RTOs and Wholesalers
—There is a vertical integration of distribution channels
—There is also a well-diversified range of RTOs and local operators, such as Jupiter Legend, Ctour Holidays, America Asia.
—It delivered 2.335 million travelers to the USA in 2017
—Traditionally the country was heavily focused on leisure group travel.
—There has been a rapid switch from leisure group towards FIT travel.
—South Korea often gets called the most “mobile-ready country in the world.”
—As such, it’s no surprise that all travel companies are focused on building mobile sites and apps, and traditional companies are trying to catch up. For example, Hana Tour created a new company called Mohaji, which will cater to FIT travelers.
—It is a price sensitive market, very competitive.
Online Travel & Blogs
—Young Koreans are buying travel increasingly online.
—Key Opinion Leaders, Kpop stars, bloggers, etc. are essential in influencing travel decisions.
—Top online sites include: Online Tour, Socuri Pass, Interpark, WAUG (new), Tourtira, Saturn Ai.
Receptive Tour Operators
—For Leisure Groups: Hana Tour, Samho Tour, Aju Tour, Joun Tour, Dongbu Tours.
—For MICE Groups: Club MK, ACE America, JJ Tours, Enterplan.
—Operators reported a successful 2018.
—Business had a slow start; bookings came in later than normal.
—Brits took 24 million trips abroad during peak travel months (July – Sept 2018)– up 1 percent YoY.
—There were strong January summer holiday sales for 2019 • Brexit negotiations continue to cloud the market.
-It is the largest inbound market to USA from Europe.
-It is heavily FIT focused, yet leisure group travel continues to be popular with older travelers.
—Contracting of Virgin Holidays has shifted to UK.
—Expat Explore has expanded its low-cost group series into the USA.
—Southhall Travel–it is focused on Asian British community—has expanded into the USA.
—Attraction contracting by Thomas Cook’s Orlando Office.
-The Leisure Pass Group has introduced the LPOS destination management system to the United States.
RTOs and Wholesalers
—They include Hotelbeds, Bonotel Exclusive Travel, ATD, Destination America.
In the Next INBOUND: France, Germany/Switzerland/Austria, Belgium and The Netherlands
Want to know more? Contact Stefan Merkl at [email protected]
The Canadian Rebound: 2 Million More Canadian Visits to U.S. in Last Two Years
America’s Largest Source Market Also Has Record Year as a Receptive Market: Following a cataclysmic drop of more than 4 million visitors to the United States from 2013-2016, Canada has come roaring back, increasing by more than two million the number of visits by Canadians to the USA in 2017-2018. It is difficult to understate the importance of Canada as a source market to the United States, as its travelers generate about one out of every four international visits to the U.S. Also, the inbound number has a way to go before it returns to the high figure before the decline. (Figures for 2018 are based on preliminary estimates by Statistics Canada.)
The team at INBOUND will have to study these data—they were just released by Destination Canada, the nation’s DMO—but it is clear without further study that the increase in visitor numbers, as reflected in the table below, defy one of the conventional beliefs among those who analyze the inbound tourism market for the USA: that there is a correlation between currency exchange rates and international inbound visitor numbers.
A strong U.S. dollar has apparently not discouraged more Canadian visits to America in the past two years. As the figures in the second table below indicate, the Canadian dollar is worth $0.76 against the U.S. dollar. This is about where it was four years ago, after it had tumbled more than 15 percent in value over a nine-month period from the end of June 2015 to the end of February 2016. Things seemed to have bottomed out the same year. Perhaps Canadian consumers and travelers have been able to adapt to weaker Canadian dollar.
Meanwhile, It’s another Record Year for Inbound Tourism for Canada: As the graphic below illustrates, it was a very, very good year for Canada overall, and for most of its core 10 markets for international visitors.
Percentages shown are shifts compared to 2017. Data shows overnight arrivals to Canada, single day trips by land are excluded. Arrival figures are preliminary estimates and are subject to change. Refer to the Dec.2018 Snapshot report for more details. Source: Statistics Canada, International Travel Survey – Frontier Counts (Dec. 2018).
TUI Leads Ranking of Top 10 Operators in Germany
Despite Market Swings, the Industry Leader Had Healthy Increase in Business in 2018: In a new report by the German travel trade publication fvw, Hanover, Germany- headquartered TUI, the largest tour operator in Europe, grew its position among Europe’s German-speaking market (comprised of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, they are known as the DACH countries) in the last financial year, according to the fvw dossier, which is the authoritative voice on tour and travel trade in the market.
For the complete article, click here.
Kuoni Sees Blue Skies and Black Ink This Year for USA Bookings
As a marquee brand of DER Touristik, Kuoni UK’s standing as somewhat of an arbiter of what well-off travelers are interesting has significance well beyond British borders. While DER Touristik is Number 3 in market share standings among Germany’s tour operators (TUI is Number 1 and Thomas Cook Germany is Number 2), it has sometimes claimed to be tops in long-haul product—a claim somewhat borne out by its list of Top 25 UK international destinations, where long-haul holiday places predominate.
Just released, the Kuoni Worldwide Travel Report 2019, like its previous iterations, is full of nuggets of travel trade wisdom that backed up by Kuoni’s proprietary research and analyses of international markets. Here, INBOUND has assembled some of the key points made by the Kuoni Travel Report 2019.
First Up—the Word on the United States: “The USA is a consistent performer but gets a much-needed boost this year from airlines and hoteliers,” declares the Kuoni report, pointing out that budget carriers Wow and Norwegian helped spark interest in secondary cities and now the premium market welcomes British Airways flights into Charleston and Pittsburgh from April. American Airlines adds London-Phoenix in March and Edinburgh-Philadelphia in April and Delta Air Lines is adding Edinburgh-Boston in May. Fly-drives are fueling growth for Kuoni with California and New England leading the way.
What’s Influencing Travel: The Kuoni Report found that a number of factors, of course, influence the travel decision. But tops among these factors in 2019 are the following:
—Whatever the Weather: If there’s one conversation common to nearly every travel conversation, it’s the weather. While the British heatwave of 2018 persuaded many to holiday at home, extreme weather in Indonesia hit the headlines post the devastating tsunami. To help people navigate their way through hurricane seasons, tropical humidity and dry climates around the world Kuoni has teamed up with meteorologists at weather trending.
—Social Travel: As much as some travelers want to switch off, others need to turn on. Millennials use Instagram in the way their parents used the Lonely Planet or Rough Guides. Honeymooners in particular want that iconic backdrop. The prevalence of WiFi has also prompted a surge in solo travel – apps make navigating alone far less daunting. Keeping in touch is easier too, as is meeting the locals – swipe right for a holiday romance.
—Money Matters: Currency fluctuations always give us the jitters, but despite the fall in the British pound sterling to around €1.1, the Euro was still the best-selling currency in 2018, according to Post Office Money. U.S. and Australian dollars were position two and three respectively (unchanged from 2017) but the surprise was the Turkish Lira: sales were up 368 percent after it fell 73 percent against the pound. Travelers can insulate themselves from prices on the ground by booking an all-inclusive holiday, but it is clear that a good deal on money can still cause a stampede.
—Fear Factor: However Brexit plays out, there will always be turbulence in travel. The Gatwick Airport drone was the industry’s unwanted Christmas present, but scares like this remind travelers of the benefits of booking a package. ABTA found 30 percent of holidaymakers spoke to a travel professional about their holiday in 2018, with 93 percent saying they went on to book with that company. Trusted brands are valued more than ever.
—Special Celebrations: Weddings and honeymoons have long been a Kuoni specialty, but any event could be an excuse for a special trip with group bookings for landmark birthdays and anniversaries all on the up. Special occasion travel now makes up a third of all bookings. Destination weddings continue to grow with a 260 percent increase year on year. Italy has moved into the top three wedding destinations for the first time in 2019.
—Food Setting the Agenda: Eating sets the agenda on holiday more than ever before; street food in Asia, vegetarian cuisine in India… every food trend is an excuse to make a gastronomic pilgrimage somewhere in the world. Such is the demand for food experiences nearly all Kuoni’s small group tours now include a local culinary element. From learning to make Kimchi in a cookery class in South Korea to joining a local chef in Lima, Peru to explore the markets and pick ingredients to take back to a local restaurant, there’s a definite move towards moments which bring to life the local flavors.
Who We’re Traveling With: The rise of solo travel has been widely reported over the past year and Kuoni’s own figures reveal a steady increase on people choosing to travel by themselves or with a friend rather than a partner. Top choices are: 1. Small group tours for single travelers 2. Wellbeing Escapes 3. Beach breaks with health and activity programs Kuoni’s own research shows 77 percent (42 percent yes definitely, 35 percent possibly) would consider travelling alone to see somewhere new, provided they were somewhere they felt safe and there were activities suited to them. Kuoni is planning a new program for single travelers in 2019.
Top Five Tours for Solos Last Year
- Temple, Tiger & Taj Trail
- Highlights of India – Taj Tour
- Classic South Africa
- Wildlife of Borneo
- Highlights of Japan
Travel Group Size
—Couples are Core: Couples of all ages are core customers. There’s no age limit on travel. The youngest customer to travel with Kuoni in 2018 was just three months old and the oldest couple were aged 187 years combined.
—Extended families with grandparents, single parent families, families travelling together, there has been a 7 percent rise in family bookings for 2019. Large family groups to celebrate a special occasion is a growth area. The largest family group last year was for 12 people (to Turkey).
France’s Top Tour Operators as Voted for by Travel Agents
In what we believe is the first such survey conducted among the nation’s travel trade, travel agents in France have selected the Top 3 French tour operators, as well as the top favorites in some other categories. They are: 1. ; 2. Asia; and 3. Kuoni.
The results are a bit of a teaser from Tour Hebdo, the French travel trade publication, which announced the survey several weeks ago, and its most recent issue announcing the Top 3, Tour Hebdo indicated that full results would be announced a future issue.
As it was, the publication said that 442 travel agents in France voted by answering its online survey “Travel Agents, what are your favorite Tours Operators?”
It reported that, among the top 20 French tour operators, including generalists and specialists, the Marseille-based Exotismes, which doesn’t appear according to its website, to sell any North American product, was selected by 214 respondents out of 442. It was closely followed, Tour Hebdo said, by Asia, whose brochures considered very successful and high value-added production are its best assets. Kuoni came in third ahead of Fram and Jet tours.
—Among the generalist tour operators, the Top 3 are: TUI (cited by 33 percent of travel agents); 2 Jet tours (30 percent); and Fram (28 percent). Kuoni and Voyamar are 4th and 5th in the standings.
—In the specialist tour operator category, travel agents voted from a list of 12 finalists, selecting as No. 1, Exotismes (35 percent of travel agents), followed by No. 2 Asia (32 percent); and Héliades (24 percent). Next were Austral Lagons and Beachcomber Tours.
—Tour operators with the favorite brochures selected by travel agents are: No. 1, Asia; No. 2, Kuoni; and No. 3, Voyamar.
—The 3 best performing B2B websites (French agents are heavily reliant on the B2B operator websites) are: No. 1, TUI; No. 2, Exotismes; and No. 3, Fram & FTI (tie).
—Tour Hebdo said that travel agents praised the 2019 brochures of the winning tour operators in this category: No. 1, Asia; No. 2, Kuoni; and No. 3, Voyamar.
—The 3 best performers rated by agents in terms of training and commercial animation are: No.1, Voyageurs; No. 2, Voyamar; and No. 3, Fram.
Mergers & Acquisitions
—Merlin Entertainments has offloaded two of its resort properties to Vail Resorts. The two properties, Hotham and Falls Creek, are located in Victoria, Australia, about 400 miles north/northeast of Melbourne. Vail Resorts, which is known for its own ski resort properties, and which is headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado—about a half-hour drive north/northwest of Denver—made the purchase for $174 million. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close by June 2019. Net proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes. Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainments, said: “We are pleased to reach this agreement with Vail Resorts, which will allow us to focus on our core business of location-based entertainment, specifically theme parks and Midway attractions.”
—Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, operator of a number of attractions, has announced the acquisition of The Works Entertainment, the world-class creative and production company known for The Illusionists franchise and other variety shows. The addition of the brands to Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group’s portfolio increases the global reach of the company, and continues its diversification of content offering and consolidate its presence in “soft-seat” theatres.
This is the third acquisition for Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group in recent years, after acquiring Blue Man Group in 2017 and VStarEntertainment Group in 2018. Said Daniel Lamarre, president and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, said: “The Works productions have natural affinities with our own, in that they are high-quality universal live experiences that appeal to different audiences from different cultures around the world without having to adapt the show to each market. Magic, a genre that The Works has successfully mastered through their hugely successful Illusionists franchise, has been performed for centuries and continues to enjoy a steadfast popularity among audiences worldwide.” Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group purchased The Works Entertainment from owners Simon Painter, Tim Lawson and Kilburn Live.
—Financial services company Ebix‘s subsidiary, EbixCash, has agreed to acquire Delhi-based Pearl International Tour & Travels and Mumbai-based Lawson Travels & Tours for an undisclosed amount. consideration. The acquisition is expected to increase EbixCash’s travel expanse across its two travel brands Via & Mercury, to a total gross merchandise value of $1.16 billion, as well as increased tour and travel industry presence of 10,000 agents, 300 more corporate clients and B2C portals. According to the Ebix, both the acquisitions are expected to generate operating margins of 30 percent.
—The specialist travel group Travelopia is acquiring Enchanting Travels, a German luxury tailor-made operator. Completion of the deal is subject to regulatory approval in certain jurisdictions and agreement from Enchanting Travels’ minority shareholders. Founded in 2004 by Parik Laxminarayan and Alex Metzler, the firm provides product in North America, Europe and Australia. It has six offices across four continents, handles 30,000 holidaymakers a year across 44 countries. The company has developed a leading technology platform and its forecast to double its revenue to an unspecified level in the three years to 2019. Future expansion is planned through the development of new and existing source markets and destinations. Travelopia handles more than 750,000 travelers a year operating more than 50 brands including Quark Expeditions, TCS World Travel, Hayes & Jarvis, Sovereign Luxury Travel, Exodus Travels, Citalia, Austravel, Le Boat, Gullivers Sports Travel, Flexiski, American Holidays, The Moorings, Sunsail and Headwater. Travelopia is owned by KKR, a New York-headquartered private equity firm. It acquired the unit in 2017 from TUI.
Receptive Tour Operator of the Month
For many overseas tour operators and their clients, Go West Tours is the quintessential example of what a U.S.-based receptive tour operator is or should me. Its name, the multilingual staff and the scope and diversity of USA product have made it a favorite in the tour and travel industry ever since it was founded 27 years ago. A visitor to its website immediately senses that Go West Tours has a degree of confidence and competitiveness that have made it a favorite over the years. Here is what the company says about itself: “Our main strengths are: Quick quotes, competitiveness, quality of service, professionalism, creativity and knowledge of foreign languages, cultures and needs. Growing company with a creative, professional staff looking for long-term and satisfying relationships with both clients and suppliers. We are primarily concerned with quality service and dedication to our clientele. Our staff is constantly in search of new ideas.” Following are some details about the company that one will find at NAJ’s TourOperatorLand.com portal,
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 Go West Travel, then check out the RTO Summit East April 24-25 at the Park Central Hotel in New York City. Go West Travel will be there. For more information, visit: www.rtosummit.com, or www.TourOperatorLand.com.
How a Bogus Award Led Me to TravelAbility Summit
by Jake Steinman, CEO of the NAJ Group
My company, North American Journeys (NAJ), is based in Sausalito, a small community connected to San Francisco by the Golden Gate Bridge. In 2017, I received a letter from the local Chamber of Commerce informing me that it was recognizing NAJ as “Travel Agent of the Year.” Upon hearing the news, it reminded me of an ad for Virgin America, which was launching new service
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Lindsay Vidrine has been named vice president of destination management for the Oklahoma City CVB. She comes to the post from Saxum, an Oklahoma City-based public relations, digital and advertising agency. Previously, Vidrine had served as director of communications and publications for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.
Brenda Tucker has been appointed director of arts and community relations for the San Francisco Travel Association. Previously, she served at KQED radio and television as executive director of marketing and community relations. Prior to that, Tucker was director of communications for the California College of the Arts.
Choose Chicago has chosen to promote Marc Anderson to the position of chief operating office of the organization. He had been executive vice president of Choose Chicago since 2016. Anderson joined the agency as chief sales officer in 2015. This is Anderson’s second tenure with Choose Chicago. Before a stint of almost 8 years with Peninsula Hotels as a regional director of marketing, Anderson served for almost four-and-a-half years as vice president of sales at the Chicago CVB, the predecessor organization of Choose Chicago.
Suzanne Harvey, the former head of purchasing for Travelopia, has been named as head of product for the dnata-owned Travelbag, whose long-haul product includes the USA. Harvey has more than 15 years travel industry experience, having started her career at First Choice before moving to Sandals to work as a business account manager.
Steven Tuzzolino has been appointed to the new position of sales manager for Quebec at Sunwing. Tuzzolino joins the tour operator from Qatar Airways where, for 7 years, he was regional sales manager for eastern Canada. Previously, he held a number of senior management positions in revenue management for VIA Rail and Air Canada.
Jonathan Whiteley has been appointed to the newly created role of long-haul sales manager for Prestige Holidays. Whiteley will join Prestige after 20 years at rival Canada specialist First Class, where he most recently held the role of national sales manager.
Kevin J. Wright has been named vice president, business development, for Tours4Fu; Handcrafted Vacations, Rezb2b. He joins the company from The Davenport Hotels, Autograph Collection, where he was corporate group sales manager for 2 years. Previously, he worked at the Colorado Tourism Office and NTA.
Matthew Stewart has been being hired as the new sales manager for the Greater Toronto Area and Northern Ontario for Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold. Originally from Australia, Stewart joins the Insight and Luxury Gold team from Topdeck Travel, where he served in Topdeck’s Vancouver office as Western Canada Business Development Manager for five years before being promoted to sales manager for the Americas. Also, after joining the company last year, Paula Rizos has fully taken over all partnership accounts in British Columbia and Yukon as a business development manager.
Greg Takehara, who is chairman of the Tourism Cares board, has taken on the role of CEO, while current Tourism Cares CEO Paula Vlamings will transition to the role of chief impact officer. Vlamings took over as CEO of Tourism Cares from Mike Rea a year ago. Tourism Cares says it realized that more than one leader is needed to effectively grow the group—one to bring new programs to life and another to manage the growth of the organization. A veteran of more than 30 years in tour and travel-related entities, Takehara has served in senior positions at Trip Mate, Aon Affinity/Travel Practice and The Mark Travel Corporation.
Matthew Dakin recently joined Thomas Cook Group Airlines as its new business development manager to its trade sales team. A veteran of some 15 years in the tour and travel industry, Dakin started his career with Thomas Cook as trade relations executive and has since spent time in senior positions at Jet2.com, lastminute.com and First Choice.
Will Waggot has been named group chief of tour operating for Thomas Cook, the UK’s largest tour operator. Waggott, a veteran of 20 years in the tour and travel industry, has been on gardening leave following his previous position with Travelopia, the collection of specialty operators owned by the New York-headquartered private equity firm KKR, which acquired the group from TUI. Waggott started his career at Airtours before joining Thomson in 2001, where he held a number of senior roles during its transition to TUI. (“Garden leave” describes the practice whereby an employee leaving a job – having resigned or otherwise had their employment terminated – is instructed to stay away from work during the notice period, while still remaining on the payroll.)
Also at Thomas Cook: group marketing director Jamie Queen has decided to leave the company at the end of April after five years with the company. His departure comes as Thomas Cook is in the midst of a shake-up of its marketing team. s designed to increase the focus on its growing own-brand hotels and resorts business. The company said It said Queen was leaving to pursue new challenges.
The U.S. Travel Association has announced the hiring of Angie Briggs as vice president of industry relations. Briggs comes to U.S. Travel from Miles Partnership, a well-known consulting agency that specializes in destination and hospitality marketing, where she served as vice president of new business development for the past eight years. Briggs will report to Nan Marchand Beauvois, US Travel’s senior vice president of membership and industry relations.
Wilfred Fan has been named chief commercial officer for Klook, the tours, entertainment and activities and attractions ticketing company. Prior to joining Klook, Fan was a founding member of Agoda, where he introduced a direct hotel contracting strategy that propelled Agoda to become the largest hotel platform in Asia with more than 200,000 properties.
In Brazil, just over a year after his hiring, André Rossi is leaving Travel Master. He was the sales manager for the tour operator in Belo Horizonte. Rossi has 33 years of Tourism and adds tickets for CVC, Flytour Travels (today Flytour MMT) and Visual Tourism. He can be reached at (31) 99185-7801 and [email protected].
Kerry Gallagher has been promoted to the newly-created position of marketing director for Gold Medal and Travel 2, starting on April 1. In her new role, she will be responsible for all B2B activity across both operators, including the luxury brands PURE LUXURY and Simply Luxury by Travel 2, and specialist brand Cruise Plus by Travel 2 – with the marketing and partnerships teams from all brands reporting directly into her. Gallagher joined Gold Medal as marketing manager in May 2014.
Correction: In last week’s first edition of INBOUND, we reported that Tresie Benoit has left her position with World2Meet, where she has been senior contracts manager, USA, for more than two-and-a-half years. This report was incorrect. We apologize to Ms. Benoit for having posted this information.
Scott Hartcorn for 17 years at Shilo Inns & Suites
Annie Allen for 14 years at CityPASS
Nan Marchand Beauvois for 8 years at the U.S. Travel Association.
Nick Calderazzo for 8 years at Twin Travel Concepts
Mahua Sehgal for 4 years at New World Travel Inc.
Toru Tsuchie for 4 years at JTB International (Canada) Inc.