The Hell with Brexit—Brits Want to Travel this Year
The results of a couple of recent surveys show that the people of the UK would rather give up most near anything if it meant they could take their holiday. And not only that: midst a ceaseless drumbeat of speculation on the part of news media outlets that UK travel would fall off this year because of discontent over the impending implementation of the decision by UK residents to exit the European Union (“Brexit”), it looks as if Brits are prepared to travel more in 2019 than they have in five years.
A quick synopsis of the two reports follows.
First, the response numbers reported by Abta based on its survey:
—Almost twice as many consumers on a budget (25 percent vs 13 percent) would spend less on takeaways instead of foregoing their break.
—Brits would also sooner reduce the amount they spend on clothing and accessories (18 percent) and electronic gadgets (17 percent) over their holidays.
—Leisure activities (i.e., going out to the cinema movies and concerts, etc.) were activities people were least likely to cut back on (11 percent).
The association said the findings were evidence “taking a well-deserved holiday would remain one of the nation’s top spending priorities”.
—Asked to list some of the other common items they would consider cutting back on to save money for travel, with alcohol, cigarettes and takeaway meals being the primary choices.
—Those 18 to 24 years of age are the most tied to their holidays, with only 6 percent saying they would cut back on trips to save money, this is despite often being regarded as one of the age groups with the least disposable income.
—Thirty-one percent of the 18-24 age group said curbing how often they ate out was five-times more likely than cutting back on a holiday.
—The same amount (31 percent) of people with children in their household said they are most likely to moderate their spending on eating out, compared to just 13 percent who would cut back on the amount they spend travelling the world.
Commenting on the findings, Victoria Bacon, Abta’s director of brand and business development, said: “We have always been a nation of people who enjoy taking holidays and it is clearly a spending priority for a lot of people, often overtaking other popular items and leisure activities.”
Second, there are the response numbers from the annual BVA-BDRC Holiday Trends report. (BVA-BDRC is an international consumer insight consultancy, and is part of the Paris-based BVA Group.).
According to the Trends report, there is a three-point increase—to 71 percent—in rise the proportion of UK adults who anticipate taking an overseas holiday this year.
—Two-thirds (66 percent) expect to take a holiday of four nights or more.
—On average about one in four of those intending to travel subsequently do not end up doing so, but this would still mean more than half the adult population taking an overseas holiday – an increase over 2018 which was a record year for outbound travel from the UK.
—Half (48 percent) anticipate needing a visa to travel to the EU, up from 38 percent a year ago, even though that hasn’t been proposed for any Brexit agreement.
—Forty-seven percent expect longer queues at airports because of Brexit, up by nine points on January 2018, 44% anticipate “more expensive air travel”–an increase of 10 percentage points over last year’s 37 percent.
—Two out of five respondents (40 percent) expect a less favorable exchange rate.
—One third (34 percent) expect increased roaming charges.
— Three out of four UK adults (76 percent) intend to take a domestic holiday, seven points up on January 2018 and the highest rate for five years.
—Thirty-one percent said they would be less likely to visit the EU following imposition of a €7 electronic visa-waiver fee on UK visitors most EU holiday destinations.
(To check out the full Holiday Trends report, click here.)
Key Inbound Trends from France, Germany/Switzerland/Austria, and Benelux Markets –Part II
“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.
(In the last issue of the INBOUND report, Stefan Merkl covered markets that included the UK, China, South Korea, India and others. This week, he covers a half-dozen other markets.)
Country Market Updates
—2018 was described as a good year for France, with elections being over.
—Still, the yellow vest protests have shaken up the market somewhat at this time.
—The market still heavily focuses on group series for more mature travelers, and on the Western USA. —Younger travelers come as FIT and use OTAs to make their arrangements.
—Very price sensitive market, with no-thrills base packages being offered.
—For New York, the most popular U.S. destination, clients tend to make their own arrangements while, for the West, the help of tour operators is being requested more frequently.
RTOs and Wholesalers:
Go West Tours, New World Travel, Meeting Point, Bonjour USA, Hotelbeds, Bonotel, Cali’Fun, American Holidays, ATI, Ceetiz.
—A decline in guided tours.
—Growth in auto-tours and a-la-carte tours,
—Top U.S. destinations are: New York, West Coast and Florida. Hawaii and Oregon are starting to make their mark, alongside Colorado, Nevada and Louisiana,
—OTAs have impressive marketing spend.
—Consumers are increasingly using the internet.
—Tour Operators need to focus more on service.
—A Rise of B2B platforms such as Worldia, Amerigo, Evaneos and Marco Vasco.
—Overall numbers for 2018 were almost flat compared to 2017.
—There was a slow start before things started picking up again in July.
—Some operators were down 20 percent vs. last year vs. previous year until June.
—There were more last minute bookings, as well as an increase in fly/drive.
—Coach tours are challenging and slowly recovering.
—2019 looks promising, with a forecast that places the market 10 percent ahead of 2018.
—Travelers are using of OTAs for travel experiences.
Key Sellers of U.S. Travel:
TUI, DER Touristik, Meiers Weltreisen, FTI, Canusa, America Unlimited, USAreisen.de, Explorer Fernreise
RTOs and Wholesalers:
New World Travel, Meeting Point, ATI, Hotelbeds, Rocky Mountain, Tour Mappers, America 4 You, AlliedTPro.
Millennials and a-la-carte travel:
—Millennials are booking holidays and trips online and as separate products instead of packages from tour operators.
—Traditional tour operators decline in popularity among millennials
—Meanwhile, Booking.com’s share was up to 28 percent in share (up from 25 percent); Airbnb up to 19 percent (up from 15 percent)
Germans LOVE to travel:
—Last year Germans took 71 million holidays (up 2 percent, year-on-year) and spent a total of €75 billion, or $85.2 billion (+3 percent), according to Reiseanalyse.
—Possible Slow-down in Economy? The Number of short trips (2-4 days) increased by one percent to 92 million.
—Travelers plan to keep a closer eye on costs in 2019. Twenty-nine percent of respondents in the Reiseanalyse survey want to spend more on their holiday (down 1 percent from last year) while 14 percent plan to reduce holiday spending compared to 13 percent last year.
—German travelers want to go places that no other Germans have been before vs the reality of logistics and marketability of destinations.
—A mature market with heavy focus on FIT and fly-drive travel.
—Changes in Belgium’s laws regulating marketing will be beneficial to tour and travel industry.
—Operators can re-introduce product catalogs with pricing.
—TUI Belgium introduces a new tool for creating tailor-made itineraries.
—New technology is designed to help travel agents create tailor-made trips.
—Vayamundo is adding Florida as a destination.
—TUI and Euram will be furnishing their tailor-made tool.
RTOs and Wholesalers:
—ATI, Bonotel, Hotelbeds, Travalco, American Ring, Rocky Mountain Holiday, AlliedTPro, Cali’Fun.
—In visits to operators, they seemed content with the performance of the U.S. as a destination.
—Young Travelers prefer FITs, while the older generation often travels in groups.
—The operator American Ring Travel will leave the FIT space and purely focus on groups.
—The receptive Travalco was mentioned as one of the leading RTOs for FITs.
—Wide open spaces of the Western USA are popular amongst Dutch travelers.
—FTI just launched a group product for 2018 and the market is happy with the selection of the product; so the start in the Dutch market was successful for the operator.
—Booking.com reinventing its approach to selling attractions.
—Tiqets is a fairly new OTA for cultural experiences.
RTOs and Wholesalers:
—Travalco, ATI, Hotelbeds, American Ring, AlliedTPro.
Want to know more? Contact Stefan Merkl at [email protected]
ATI Execs Invited to Dinner by U.S. Ambassador at ITB
INBOUND received a note a few days ago from Noël Irwin Hentschel, chairman and CEO of AmericanTours International (ATI), who had returned from Germany and ITB, which was held March 6-10 in Berlin, and who was quite upbeat about the pace of business at the trade show, held March 6-10 in Berlin. A member of the Brand USA board of directors, Irwin Hentschel said that she and other board members in Berlin used the occasion to encourage industry leaders to advocate for an early, multi-year reauthorization of Brand USA. She was one of those invited to dinner at the official residence in Berlin of U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell. The dinner coincided with International Women’s Day and included her son, Nick Hentschel, who is ATI’s executive vice president; US Travel President Roger Dow; and some key German tour operators who promote the USA in their products.
Visit California’s Leona Reed: Insights after Moving My Family to China for the Summer of 2018
Leona Reed, associate vice president, global marketing at Visit California, spent much of the past summer living and working in China. For Reed, promoting California has been her only mission, her only job, since before she graduated from the University of California at Sacramento in 2001 with a B.A. degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies. Working as an intern before that, she started out at Visit California (it was known then as the California Travel and Tourism Commission) as communications coordinator and was promoted several times over the years, becoming associate vice president of global marketing in 2015. A multilingual professional, she speaks English, French and Russian. Following are excerpts of her interview/discussion with Jake Steinman, CEO of the NAJ Group, which publishes the INBOUND Report.
JS: What prompted you to move to China for the summer with your family?
LR: I have been working with the China market for a decade for Visit California, and I am still learning every day—so I was motivated by a desire to deepen my knowledge and elevate my strategic insights. Spending a concentrated amount of time on the ground in China created the time and space to develop a more nuanced understanding of the market as well as the local resources we have in place. The two-month immersion was a win-win for me personally and professionally. I was able to spend the summer with my family, and we shared a once-in-a-lifetime travel adventure together while I got to have a full-time presence with our China team and expand my understanding of the culture. I spent the bulk of the time with our team on the ground, traveling to Visit California’s six regional offices. We did a lot of strategic planning, and I had many meetings with key industry leaders.
JS: Where did you live and what was a “typical” day like?
LR: We were primarily based in Shanghai in residential rentals. Throughout the eight-week period, we lived in a total of three houses and six hotels! When I went to work during the weekdays, my family had its own adventures. We’d have dinner together at night and walk around our Shanghai neighborhood—I loved seeing the locals dance in the park every night. On the weekends, we traveled and explored. We went to Disneyland in Shanghai, we spent time with panda bears in Chengdu and we visited Yangmingshan National Park in rural Taiwan—to name just a few of our trip highlights. We really enjoyed the cuisine everywhere—we took cooking classes, ate a lot of street food and visited the amazing markets. My kids loved all of the sweets, of course!
JS: What were the business objectives?
LR: I went to China with three key goals:
- To onboard Visit California’s new team members and meet with all of our agencies and resources on the ground to streamline our processes and facilitate closer integration.
- To develop Visit California’s two-year strategic plan and determine what the overarching goals needed to be to advance our growth after hitting the 10-year milestone in the market.
- To enhance Visit California’s content channel eco-system and define the core themes.
JS: What were the top five things you learned, both personally and from a business perspective?
LR: The five key insights I came home with were:The average attention span is very short because Chinese are bombarded with messages all day long, and they are constantly on the go and connected.
- The average attention span is very short because Chinese are bombarded with messages all day long, and they are constantly on the go and connected.
- Living an active, healthy lifestyle and consuming wholesome cuisine is important to the Chinese consumer, especially millennials.
- China is becoming an on-demand, cashless culture. WeChat Pay and Alipay literally make the Chinese consumers’ world go ‘round.
- Trust is everything. There is a real fear of fakeness, and credibility is hugely important. It makes word-of-mouth through friends and family doubly important.
- Kids’ education is a top priority. Chinese parents want their kids to get ahead at all costs. It’s all about elevating the next generation, and the pressure on kids’ education is unreal.
Personally, I was deeply touched by the generosity of the Chinese families we spent time with while living in Shanghai. We were welcomed into their homes and treated like family.
JS: Business from China is down this year, in part due to politics, in part due to currency. But one common refrain is that there are twice as many visa rejections as the previous year. Is there anything the industry can do to help operators train their customers during these interviews?
LR: The Visit California team is monitoring the situation carefully, and we are working closely with the U.S. Embassy in China to navigate this challenge. California’s travel industry is committed to delivering a welcoming message and letting Chinese travelers know how much we value their business.
JS: What do you see the main challenges for USA destinations internationally this year?
LR: The strong U.S. dollar compared to many international currencies is going to be a challenge for us this year. We’re also facing competition from compelling international destinations closer to China that don’t require as much travel time, which can be a deterrent—especially at a time when U.S. visas are harder to secure.
JS: How is Visit California helping cities that have been impacted by flood and fires to regain business?
LR: So many communities across the state have faced incredible challenges this year. We have a sophisticated system in place to support the industry when fires or other crises occur. It’s designed to keep information flowing and help affected communities amplify their message. Once the disasters are contained, our team works closely with the affected destinations to spread an “open for business” message and welcome visitors back. We use trade, PR and media channels to deliver factual, up-to-date information and shine the spotlight on affected destinations through our website and social media channels. Last fiscal year, Visit California invested more than $2 million in marketing to support areas affected by crisis. This included everything from large-scale activations and paid campaigns, to media and trade FAM tours. Digital influencers were also used to spread the “open for business” message in real time to a large audience.
JS: Did you meet with the major tour operators while you were there?
LR: I met with all of the operators in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Taipei.
JS: Was it your sense from them that they were aware of the tension with between the government and the U.S.?
LR: I was there in the summer, and there wasn’t that much of a level of concern. In June came the warning from the government to Chinese travelers coming to the U.S. concerning their safety. It’s escalated since then. We heard of the concern back in the United States from e-mails and through other channels of communication. But, for the most part, when we had meetings, it was business as usual. When the warning from the government came, it was as if it was part of the narrative they were presenting. Tour operators are more concerned about the volume of travelers going to the U.S. Consumers were a little (less) concerned.
JS: Did you witness or sense any censorship?
LR: There are two kinds of censorship. One is when something is completely blocked out. The other involves the way information is presented or spoken about.
Reed and Steinman then had a lengthy dialogue, in which they touched upon a number of points.
—They agreed that potential travelers to China could use some preparation for their visa application interview, as many don’t know how to fill out the forms and are actually frightened when they are interviewed. They need coaching. Jake and Leona exchanged some ideas on incorporating a visa interview preparation element for NAJ’s Active America China Summit.
—The concept of what comprises a group has changed. FITS are now small family groups and affinity groups of 4 to 8 to 10 people. If this is the new normal, maybe there’s a way to market to these travelers via WeChat and many other social and digital channels.
—China has become, in effect, a mature market. Ways have to be developed to market to the repeat visitor to the U.S. Leona said that, although much focus has been given to California’s consumer-facing programs, the travel trade is vital to its efforts. Right now, Visit California is talking with Alipay to work on a platform that would drive such visitors back to California based on their travel history.
—There is a need to go beyond the three big tier one cities (Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou) and develop the markets in Tier 2 and 3 cities—although there are fewer passport-holding Chinese there for now.
—For receptive tour operators, California’s number one priority is “education, education and education.” Wherever the state can tie an educational component into its schedule of activities involving education about the product, they will do so. They are making a special effort to organizing such components at events, and they are creating events to do the same. The state is promoting use of its “training tool” app, which will make education and training programs digitally accessible.
TUI’s Internationalization Driven by Low Population Growth in Germany
Expanding the size of its footprint in Asia as it continues to seek bases outside its continental Europe home, TUI Group has announced the opening of a new tour operating division and office in Kuala Lumpur, the capital and largest city of Malaysia. TUI International Holidays Malaysia has secured a license from the Malaysian government to focus on growing its southeast Asian market.
In a statement, the group said increasing numbers of guests from southeast Asia are traveling more frequently and differently than in the past. Frank Rosenberger, TUI’s chief development officer for new markets, said: “We are developing holiday offers which are attractive to Asian travelers in both neighboring countries such as Sri Lanka and Thailand, as well as the long-haul routes from Asia … The start of the new division in Kuala Lumpur is an important step towards addressing even more Asian customers in the future.”
Rosenberger is responsible for the TUI 2022 strategy, with which aims to reach one million additional customers in new markets by 2022.
An integrated travel provider of travel products which has its own airline, hotels, cruise ships and, with the acquisition last September of Musement, its own online platform for activities, tours, museums, shows and art events, TUI plans on reaching one million additional customers in new markets by 2022.
Sebastian Ebel, chief executive hotels & resorts, cruises, destination experiences, said that “the short and medium-haul destinations in the region are becoming increasingly attractive to guests from Southeast Asia.”
Slow Growth Curve for Outbound: Long-haul overseas business for TUI, which is Europe’s largest tour operator has experienced flat growth in recent years. The United States, for instance, is expected to receive no more than a one to two percent annual growth in arrivals from Germany from 2019 through 2022, according to the latest forecast by the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office.
One reason for the outlook is that Germany’s overall population has been in a slow-growth-to-no-growth mode for several years and this is not expected to change soon. Germany has the lowest birth rate among Europe’s major countries. TUI made the decision several years ago to increase its presence in other world regions, including China, selling both regional and long-haul product through the world.
Earlier this month, TUI and Ctrip, China’s largest online travel provider, announced a strategic partnership in which Ctrip’s 200 million monthly users will have direct access to the tours and activities offered by TUI’s new subsidiary Musement.
“China, our investments in IT and further digitization and the growth field of tours and activities are important pillars of TUI’s growth strategy for further internationalization and the development of new markets,” said TUI CEO Fritz Joussen.
Experiences Comprise the Third-Largest Segment, by Size, of U.S. Travel Bookings
According to Phocuswright‘s newly published travel research report, Experiences 2019: U.S. Market Opportunity and Consumer Behavior, travel activities account for 8 percent of U.S. travel gross bookings and the segment comes in third by size behind hotels and flights. The U.S. travel activities market totaled $34 billion in 2018, and growth is outpacing the total travel market.
“Flights and accommodation can be a notable part of the travel experience if a traveler is in a front-of-plane seat or staying in a unique accommodation, but mostly these products serve as logistics,” says the report, which was researched and prepared by Alice Jong and Cathy Walsh. “It’s the things travelers do when they get there that inspire them to go places. Seven in 10 travelers consider activity options as an important factor when deciding on their destination, and more than one third start researching activities before they book any other trip elements.”
Phocuswright tells us that the tour and travel industry has had to adapt business to realign to traveler behaviors, including what consumers hope to experience and how they behave throughout the activity decision-making process. Activity providers have gotten serious about digitizing business, making their inventory discoverable and bookable online – where most travelers prefer to research and purchase travel. The adoption of third-party reservation technology systems has contributed greatly to progress, providing a more efficient solution to manage business.
A key point in a summary of the report states that, “even though reservation technology adoption has been on the upswing, connectivity into online resellers, that is, connectivity into the platforms that aggregate activities for consumers to search and buy, is still largely manual. Moreover, many smaller business owners feel their enterprises are not of sufficient size to require technology to assist in their distribution. However, online activity resellers and reservation technology companies have spearheaded industry efforts to educate providers and champion the importance of digitization. More activity providers are getting the message and becoming connected and savvy. More ways than ever before enable travelers to discover and book things to do and fulfill their experiential aspirations.”
For information on how to purchase a copy of the report, click here.
From the OAG® Blog: Will China Have the World’s Next Mega Carrier?
Management changes in any business create a period of uncertainty, and in most cases some degree of change, and the last few weeks have seen some significant management changes amongst the major Chinese Airlines. New leaders have been appointed at China Eastern and China Southern leading to speculation of a possible consolidation and such a play would perhaps make sense given the opening of the new Beijing Daxing Airport later this year.
The opening of the Daxing will over time create more capacity in Beijing but two major airlines moving to a brand-new airport will inevitably impact their operating performance as they seek to attract travellers away from the established airport. It is almost like asking an airline to vacate its position at London Heathrow and relocate to a secondary airport away from the city center. De-risking that move whilst at the same time creating critical mass would seem difficult, unless you considered a merger or partnership with another carrier.
With Chinese authorities keen to finally develop some real international to international hub activity at Beijing, consolidation of two airlines at the new airport would make great sense and create some “joined up” network thinking. And since China has applied a “one route – one airline” policy towards international services until very recently there is little or no overlap between the two carriers on their international networks suggesting that a powerful consolidated airline could be a way forward. But just what would that mean in terms of network, scale and size?
Perhaps importantly from a positioning perspective, one of the world’s newest airports would be home to one of the largest airlines in the world, as the table below highlights.
“China South-East Airlines” would immediately become the second largest scheduled airline based on capacity provided, just behind American Airlines whilst Alaska Airlines and Japan Air Lines would join the global top twenty.
The combined airline would operate on some 419 international city pairs, placing the carrier ahead of Turkish Airlines who have for many years heavily promoted its network strength and airport pairs served. It would also at the same time make the international network three time larger than Air China’s.
And from an airline alliance perspective the recent withdrawal of China Southern from the Skyteam Alliance creates an attractive position for both carriers to potentially review where they are and who their alliance partner could be in the next few years.
Equally, airline consolidation can be challenging and on such a scale a daunting task for everyone with numerous operational and commercial issues to be considered. However, a chance to create a new world-leading carrier from a new world class airport with a clear strategic focus on international connectivity may just be too attractive to be ignored. Rarely is there smoke without fire and in this case, it seems that with some smoke being sighted, an opportunity might have a chance of becoming a reality in Beijing.
—Written by John Grant
Brand USA and U.S. DMOs Holding Their Own on the WeChat Platform
In what appears to be the first and only compilation of its kind the global research firm Dragon Trail—it specializes in marketing travel-related products, including destinations, to China—tells us that Brand USA is holding its own midst national tourism offices (NTOs) and U.S. destinations are doing well vs. other major destinations that are communicating with Chinese consumers and travelers via WeChat, the largest online communications app in the world, with more than a billion monthly users. It is axiomatic for anyone in the tour and travel industry who is marketing to China that they must deploy its resources on and through WeChat.
In preparing its WeChat Rankings report for 2018 Dragon Trail looked at articles published on WeChat by the official accounts of national tourism boards (NTOs) as well as DMOs with accounts ranked by their total article views. Although the top five accounts for NTOs remained similar or unchanged from 2017 to 2018, the order of the rankings did see some shifts, with Visit Japan and Tourism Vancouver increasing their standing. The national tourism boards with the highest-ranking accounts tended to be established destinations in Asia, Europe and North America (including Brand USA), whereas Greater China, Australia and North America, where established destinations did well, with Los Angeles (#4), Vancouver (#5), Texas Tourism (#8), Travel South USA (#9), Orange County, Calif. (#12), New York City (#16), North Carolina (#17), Hawaii (#18) and Seattle (#20) placing in the Top 20 DMOs.
About the Ranking:
Data Collection Date, January 22, 2019
Ranking Criteria: Accounts are ranked according to the highest number of views per total number of posts published. WeChat views are “unique views.”
- Overseas National Tourism Organizations (NTOs) Surveyed: 47
About the Ranking:
Data Collection Date, January 22, 2019
Ranking Criteria: Accounts are ranked according to the highest number of views per total number of posts published. WeChat views are “unique views.”
Number of Overseas Destination Marketing Organizations Surveyed: 68
“Over-saturation” among DMOs. In discussing the findings of her company’s WeChat rankings, as well as the changes in market share in 2018 vs. 2019, Sienna Parulis-Cook, communications manager for Dragon Trail told a webinar audience that the reason for a year-over-year decline (see table below) in the number of WeChat views of Top NTOs and DMOs was an “over-saturation” of WeChat pages and mini-sites by national, regional, state and city destinations as more of them seek to use the WeChat tool. Adding “there are too many official organizations … competing for the same space.”
What Works Best on WeChat? Asked what kind of travel product performs the best on WeChat, Parulis-Cook said, “nature was, by far, the most popular content theme in 2017 and it’s done well in 2018 as well.” She went on to tell webinar attendees, “Destinations with beautiful nature should really plan to play them up in their content marketing for the Chinese audience. It doesn’t matter what season it is, as long as there’s beautiful nature.”
Finally, about BrandUSA: America’s DMO, Brand USA, remained steady in its 2018 quarterly ranking, except for the last quarter, when it slipped to No. 12. Still, its performance as a Top 10 performer on the WeChat marketing place will be interpreted by many as a justification of its efficacy as a national tourism organization.
Tour Operator Technology Summit (TOTS) Update: Meet the Tour Operator Who Built Their Own Group Reservations System—DIY Style–FREE
Slated to take place April 24-25 at the Park Central hotel in Manhattan, NAJ’s first ever Tour Operator Technology Summit (TOTS) is designed to showcase the latest advances by featuring booking and connectivity that has made technology affordable and easy to understand for small and mid-size operators.
While researching technology we found sophisticated systems that required extensive installation running $75,000 + as well as systems with no up-front fees, but we never expected to find someone like Charley Troggio, granddaughter of the founder Charlene Troggio, co-founder of Breakaway Travel an ABA operator now Pittsburgh who, with no background in computer science, built their group reservations and operations system for free using Google Drive.
“We’re very honored that she will be showing this technology at TOTS,” explained Jake Steinman, founder and CEO of NAJ. “Most tour operators are too busy attend Go-to-Meeting demo’s with vendors, so we’ve unearthed representatives from companies that we’ve identified the product that is both suitable and affordable for small and mid-size operators in one place.”
Additionally, TOTS has confirmed 10 of the sixteen invited panelists and presenters. See the updated agenda here: https://www.rtosummit.com/tour-operator-tech-summit-and-demo-day-plan/
Frequently Asked Questions:
Question: Who Should We Send?
Answer: Anyone with input on the decisions about new technology for a tour operator. This includes
- General managers
- Directors of Operations
- IT staff
Question: What does it cost?
Answer: Registration is $199 for operators attending to the RTO Summit Marketplace on April 25th or are member of ABA, SYTA, or NTA, our industry partners. All others: $895: Register here:https://ww2.eventrebels.com/er/Registration/StepRegInfo.jsp?ActivityID=25942&StepNumber=2&PromotionCode=TECHSUMMIT
Who is Supporting TOTS?
The following travel industry organizations—ABA, NTA, SYTA and IPW2019 are partnering with NAJ for this event.
PLEASE NOTE: The TOTS program agenda will run parallel to, but independent of, the program for NAJ’s RTO Summit East on April 24. Day Two will feature he Summit’s marketplace, with its business appointments.
Four major travel industry organizations—ABA, NTA, SYTA and IPW2019 are partnering with NAJ for this event.
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Tori Barnes has been promoted to the position of executive vice president of public affairs by the U.S. Travel Association. She succeeds Jonathan Grella, who led U.S. Travel’s advocacy arm since May of 2013, and leaves to start his own firm, JAG Public Affairs. Barnes joined US Travel in November 2017 as senior vice president of government relations. Previously, she served for more than 14 years at General Motors; when she left the company, she was executive director of federal affairs. Prior to her tenure at GM, she served as Congressional Liaison at the Republican National Committee. U.S. Travel will retain Grella in a consulting role
NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon has announced several promotions and additions to its executive leadership team:
Nancy Mammana, who joined the organization last year has been promoted to chief marketing officer. In her capacity, she will continue to lead NYC & Company’s global marketing strategies, as well the company’s efforts in sports, business development, licensed merchandise and events.
Jerry Cito, who joined NYC & Company in 2001, has been promoted to executive vice president, convention development. Cito continues to lead the organization’s global convention and MICE development.
Christopher Heywood, who began at NYC & Company in 2007, has been promoted to executive vice president, global communications. In his role, he continues to lead the organization’s international and domestic PR and communications, corporate communications and crisis communications.
Donna Keren, Ph.D, who has worked with NYC & Company since 2002, has been promoted to executive vice president, research & insights. In her role, she will continue to head the organization’s research unit, providing market intelligence, analysis, economic reports and industry statistics.
Aaron Jones has been named executive vice president of The Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Jones joins the GBCVB after having served four years as CEO of MetroLacrosse, the largest urban lacrosse and youth development program in the United States. His primary responsibilities will include oversight of day-to-day operations, operating budgets, financial practices, and revenue generation. He will also be tasked with carrying out the GBCVB’s core mission, growing Boston’s market share of visitors.
Neil Slaven has been promoted to the post of UK country director for EasyJet. Slaven, who joined easyJet in 2011 and has worked in a variety of roles across the airline’s network development and airport procurement divisions, took on the new position on March 1st. He will work with teams across the airline’s 11 UK bases and will report to group markets director, Thomas Haagensen.
The Signature Travel Network has hired Phil Cappelli from Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold as part of a broader series of changes to its marketing and preferred partnership departments. Cappelli will serve as senior vice president, preferred partnerships.
Elodie Colomb has been appointed production and marketing director for bynativ, the French travel company that sells tailor-made product abroad that are put together by in-country agents. Its product includes custom-made itineraries in the United States.
After serving a one-year stint as interim president and CEO of Visit Norfolk, long-time tour and travel executive Sam Rogers is on the market for new projects. Before his tenure in Norfolk, Rogers served nearly a decade at Visit Baltimore, where he was executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He also served for 8 years as a vice president of the Philadelphia CVB. He can be reachedat [email protected]mail.com.
Géraldine Lumia (left) and Julie Racaud (right) have joined the sales team at JetSet Voyages. Both are experienced tour and travel industry professionals. Lumia’s industry experience in senior level positions at TUI and Transat, where she spent nearly 17 years.
Flytour MMT Viagens, operator of the Flytour Group, has announced a change in its executive structure in the South and Northeast regions of Brazil, with a transfer of position and hiring, respectively. The South, a region that from now on will have a new general manager: Carla Biancato. A veteran of nearly 20 years in the industry, Carla has been part of the Flytour MMT Viagens team since 2017.
Kanika Soni has joined TripAdvisor® the company as president of the hotels business unit, effective April 15. In this role, Soni will oversee TripAdvisor’s hotels business, representing a substantial part of the company’s total revenue. She will be responsible for product, engineering, sales and marketing for hotels. Most recently, Soni served as senior vice president, global e-commerce of the Consumer Products Division at the Walt Disney Company. Prior to Disney, Soni led the Online and Global Digital Marketing teams at Tesla Motors.
Ivan Walter has been named as the new chief executive of the STA Travel Group. Walter, who will take on the role starting April 1st, is well known in the tour and travel industry in the UK and Europe. He has served for 12 years with Kuoni and for five years as chief executive at GTA Travel. Walter is taking over the role from Reinhard Kotzaurek, who is returning to the central Europe region to lead the business there as managing director, CEU.
Long time tour and travel industry pro Doug Killian has left the industry. Killian, well known as a representative of Mall of America, where he served nearly 17 years, lastly as senior director of international tourism marketing and sales, has signed on as an account executive with Minneapolis-based Life Floor, a flooring system designed for aquatic environments.
Sarah Curtis recently joined Bonotel Exclusive Travel as director of sales. She is based in the UK. Prior to joining Bonotel, she was a regional sales manager for The Mark Travel Corporation and, previously, she served with Virgin Holidays for more than 13 years in several different senior sales positions.
Kathleen Keller Frankford has left her position as president of Discover Lancaster in Pennsylvania to become chief marketing officer at Next Factor Enterprises Inc., a tour and travel industry consulting firm that is based in West Vancouver, Canada. Frankford spent more than six years at Discover Lancaster. Previously, she worked for the American Music Theater in Lancaster and the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg, Pa. She was served as tourism director for the Cumberland Valley (Pa.) Visitors Bureau.
Jonathan Elkoubi has been named senior regional director—New York & Boston, at Leisure Pass Group. He joins the company from VR (Virtual Reality World) in Manhattan. Previously, Elkoubi had tenures at Applebees-Apple-Metro Inc., and Ripley’s Believe or Not! Times Square.
Brian Scullin has taken on a new position as account director-USA East at Musement. He joins the tours and activities company which is owned by the TUI Group, from the Leisure Pass Group. Previously, he was with Big Bus Tours as commercial sales manager in New York.
Happy Work Anniversary
Laurie Armstrong Gossy for 21 years at San Francisco Travel Association
Jeffrey Hammerly for 20 years at Travel Portland
Jack Cohen for 18 years at Butler County Tourism and Convention Bureau
Miyuki Holihan for 18 years at NTA America Inc
Catherine Swan for 16 years at Galaxy Tours
Kathleen (Kat) Plourde for 16 years at CityPass, Inc.
Marla Roe for 15 years at Frisco Convention & Visitors Bureau
Robert Bates for 15 years at Bates Tours & Charter Service Inc.
Phil Elvy for 7 years at Executive Tours DC
Susan Estler for 1 year at Travel Marquette