Could Brazil Set a Record This Year for Travel to USA?
With barely taking time to breathe following the end of what was described in a BBC report in early 2017 “the deepest economic decline since records began,”¹ the country’s outbound tourism industry—specifically that segment which travels to the United States—could be poised this year to set another record: the most Brazilians to visit the U.S. in a single year.
Some of the key figures regarding the performance of the Brazilian market—it is the fourth largest overseas source market for tourist to the USA—are mixed. For instance, the latest numbers from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO) show that year-to-date visits by Brazilians to the U.S. for first half of 2019 are down 2.7 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
But what gives energy to those who embrace a positive reading of the numbers is the impression that one receives after looking at the collection of data and developments that, historically, have been related to the performance of the nation’s tour and travel industry. INBOUND has pieced together some of the more salient figures and developments, including NTTO data, exchange rate figures, and articles from our own archives, as well as the monthly review of PANROTAS, the authoritative travel trade publication covering Brazil’s tour and travel industry.
First are the NTTO numbers showing that travel to the U.S. from Brazil for the first half of 2019 is down vs. the first half of 2018. They also show that the industry almost set a record for travel to the U.S. that was set in 2015, before the full impact of the economic recession had set in.
Comment: The drop-off in activity for the second quarter of 2019 is partly attributable to the collapse of Avianca Brazil airlines (it was a separate entity from Avianca), which stopped operations in May, cutting seat capacity in Brazil by nearly 8 percent. Confidence in the carrier had been fading for some time. And it had been reducing its operations and lost nearly all of its Airbus planes by April. Avianca Brazil it had flown to Santiago (Chile) Miami and New York. It had about 13 percent of the market
The Currency Exchange Rate—The Real is Holding on: Overall, the Brazilian real has dropped more than 40 percent in value against the U.S. dollar since the beginning of the 2014-2016 recession. However, it has held fairly steady in 2018 and 2019. This has helped to strengthen the position of Brazilian tour operators who had been seriously challenged for several years when they purchased product from the United States, paying U.S. dollars and selling them in Brazilian reais.
While the real is weak compared to 2015, its steady level since the beginning of last year has made it possible to maintain a positive margin.
The Overall Travel Industry Condition: PANROTAS reported that, in April, the volume of specific services from the Tourism sector registered stability in the annual comparison. And from January to April the performance was +2.7 percent. However, the report said, the industry is experiencing “much more of a respite than a recovery,” because when compared to the pre-crisis period, in the beginning of 2014, for example, the current volume of tourism activity is 9 percent below, already discounting inflation. More expensive dollar and weaker economy make consumers with financial conditions to choose a domestic destination rather than an international one.
Comment: While some consumers are opting for a domestic, rather than an international, destination, Brazil’s travel agencies—apparently more confident in the strength of the real—have begun offering more “last minute” and near-term sales, stretching out payments (without interest, usually) over 12 months. Since the line between a travel agency and a tour operator is fluid—they sometimes are house next together in the same office—these sales reflect a confidence on the part of the retail and wholesale sectors of the industry that the real will be stable.
Other Factors that Indirectly Affect Industry Performance: Retail sales in Brazil grew 3.1 percent in April compared to the same month of 2018. In the four-month period, the balance is positive by 2.5 percent.
—The official inflation rate in Brazil (IPCA) in the last 12 months is at 3.37 percent, below the target of 4.25 percent defined by the government for this year. This result was mainly due to the fall in prices of the “Food and beverages” and “transportation” groups, which together account for about 43 percent of household expenses.
—The unemployment rate in Brazil fell 3.14 percent compared to the same period last year, remaining at 12.3 percent. In January the rate was at 12 percent, reached 12.7 percent in March and decreased again according to the last data of May.
—The Consumer Confidence Index (ICC) in the city of São Paulo reached 117 points, which represents an increase of 3.1 percent over the same period last year, but a decrease of 3.9 percent compared to April. (São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, is also the “economic capital” of Brazil.)
—On the other hand, the Retail Businessmen Confidence Index (ICEC) in the City of São Paulo is more optimistic, reaching 120.6 points, which means an increase of 5.41 percent compared to the previous year, but a decrease of 2.6 percent compared to April. ²
—Earlier this year, we reported that, after falling from the top spot in 2016 and 2017, Brazil reclaimed its position as the top source of international visitors to Miami.
—Brazilians also established themselves as the top international investors in purchases of real estate in the tri-county area (Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties) of Southeast Florida.
¹ See “Brazil’s recession worst on record,” BBC, March 7, 2017
² The ICC and ICEC range is from 0 to 200 points. The level from 100 to 200 points is considered optimistic and below 100 points, pessimistic. Although the indicators are from the city of São Paulo, they follow the trend of what is happening in the rest of the country since the largest city in Brazil represents 11 percent of the national GDP.
“Trickle Down” Trade War Affecting Inbound Traffic from China
The news this past weekend that nine Chinese students returning to the United States to resume their studies at Arizona State University were detained at Los Angeles International Airport, then denied entry and sent back to China, sent a shiver throughout U.S. educational institutions, as China sends more students to America, by far, than any other nation. In the 2017/18 school year, the most recent for which data are available, China sent almost 351,000 students, or a full one-third (33.2 percent) of the world total of 1.01 million. Students and their families are the linchpin of a lucrative family travel market, as parents, grandparents and an occasional sibling will accompany a student on his or her trip to the United States to tour a campus or to enroll.
The action at LAX coincided with the imposition of an additional 15 percent in tariffs (up from 10 percent) on most goods from China beginning September 1, as the U.S. and China conduct an ongoing trade war.
Discussion of the student-driven travel was just one of the subjects that took place during a webinar last week sponsored by Dragon Trail Interactive, a global digital marketing agency that focuses on increasing Chinese business for tour and travel organizations.
Held before the detention of the Arizona State students, yet before the imposition of the new U.S. tariff increases, the session featured and illustrated relatively new data that provide some logic for last year’s 5.7 percent decline in visits to the U.S. by Chinese travelers, as well as another decline of 3.1 percent in visitor traffic, year-on-year, for the first half of 2019.
Along the way, it became clear, once again, that issues related obtaining a visa in order to visit the United States are of paramount interest for the Chinese traveling public, as well as for travel agents and tour operators.
Fewer Visas: The graph below shows that the number of visas issues to Chinese travelers has decline three years in a row. It should be noted, however, that U.S. visas became valid for a period of 10 years, starting at the end of 2014 so returning visa applicants no longer have to do so every year. Yet, there seems to be an inexhaustible supply of first-time travelers to the U.S. As a result, the decline in visa applications suggests less enthusiasm for visiting the USA.
Then, too, as Richard Champley, senior research analyst and program manager for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) pointed out, the past two years experienced a 14 month freeze in U.S. State Department staff who conduct visa interview, an action which increased wait times for those seeking an interview. (Tables below furnished by Dragon Trail)
Visa Application Rejections: No issue seems to have dominated any dialogue on U.S.-China travel as much as the number of visa applications that are rejected by the U.S. State Department. The chart below indicates that the percentage of rejections was headed toward 18 percent by the end of 2018. And all indications are that it will easily exceed that this year, as various sources have told INBOUND that it has been as high as 40 percent or more in some instances.
Dragon Trail presenters at the seminar sounded what has become a familiar refrain—one that is being stressed more and more as the discussion over visa rejection becomes more intense. And that is that the travel trade has to increase and amplify their efforts to make travel consumers away of the potential obstacles that exist for travelers to the U.S.
For the B2B community (tour operators): Whether they are applying for visas on behalf of clients, or working with clients who apply for their own visas, giving travel agents training on visa applications will make the process smoother and minimize rejections.
For the B2C sector (travel agents): Make sure that detailed, easy-to-follow instructions are available in Chinese. Information about requirements and updates to the visa application process can be shared on social media channels, too.
Lift Capacity: While its direct correlation to any decrease in traffic to the U.S. from China is not something that is readily apparent, it is not implausible to suggest that the reduction in capacity by U.S. carriers last year may have had a bearing on the matter—even if the lift capacity of Chinese carriers to the U.S. from China increased.
The Profile of the Chinese Traveler: NTTO’s Champley took the time to note that his agency has a wealth of new information regarding travelers from China, which is based on the Survey of International Air Travelers. Everything from one’s purpose of traveler to the size of the travel party are included. To access this information, go to: https://travel.trade.gov/outreachpages/inbound.general_information.inbound_overview.asp. Once there, click on the link for China, and you will be able to access the information.
Germany Heading toward another “Lost Year”?
Whatever the cause—whether it was or is a strong U.S. dollar vs. the Euro; a disinclination to the travel to the USA because of a dislike of U.S. president Donald Trump; a severe disruption in holiday travel to traditional Mediterranean destinations due to terrorist; or a low birthrate that is shrinking the population of key travel age groups—visits to the United States from Germany have struggled to stay in place.
The above has pretty much turned into a generic description when one discusses or describes the German travel market, whether it involves overseas long-haul travel, travel within the Eurozone and its short-haul international destinations, or travel within Germany itself. The latest data for travel to the United States, even though it is just one measure of the health of the market, tend to confirm what seems to be happening in both wholesale and retail segments.
First, here is a look at German arrivals in the USA for the first six months of 2019, compared to the first six months of 2018. There is, essentially, no growth in that number, as the table below suggests.
Second , here are some points noted in the German travel trade publication FVW indicating that the retail sector of the industry more or less mirrors the performance of the tour operator sector—the latter being a more reliable indicator of long-haul travel than that serviced by travel agents. As reported by FVW,
—The German travel industry is staging a gradual recovery with more customers booking last-minute holidays in July–this according to the latest monthly Travel Insights sales analysis. *
—Bookings through travel agencies and online channels increased by 3 percent last month, meaning that summer 2019 revenues are now just one percent behind last year on a cumulative basis.
—July’s growth vs. the same period last year “was clearly driven by last-minute summer holiday bookings.” One third of all bookings last month were for departures in July and August. As a result, the cumulative decline in July departures was reduced to one percent and for August a half percent.
—The overall 2018/19 tourism year is now up by one percent in revenue terms—a number driven primarily last winter’s higher sales. Overall, the summer of 2018 was a very strong season with bookings up by 13 percent vs. the same time last year.
—However, early demand for the coming winter season looks weak so far, said FVW, noting that sales revenues for winter 2019/20 are 5 percent less, on a year-on-year basis, and bookings are down for nearly all departure months.
*The data in the Travel Insights survey are a result of an analysis of sales by 2,000 representative travel agencies, OTAs and tour operator websites by Travel Data + Analytics. Founded earlier this year, Travel Data + Analytics took over the Travel Insights survey from the market research firm GfK. Both companies are based in Nuremberg, Germany.
Just What is the TravelAbility Summit All about?
Jake Steinman, editor-in-chief of INBOUND, as well as the founder of a portfolio of popular tour and travel industry events and conferences acquired earlier this year by Connect Travel, has been concentrating on a new project—the first TravelAbility Summit, a highly focused conference dealing with the issue of accessible travel. He launched the effort a year ago, and the first Summit will be staged Nov. 12-13 in San Francisco. Steinman recently participated in a panel discussion on the subject of accessible travel at the U.S. Travel Association’s recent annual ESTO conference in Austin, which brings together DMO leaders from all kinds of destination organizations. INBOUND’s editor talked with Steinman several days ago about his ESTO experience and how the TravelAbility Summit is shaping up. Following are excerpts of our conversation.
INBOUND: So, what have you learned in the past year as you’ve been putting together the TravelAbility Summit, and what did you learn about accessible travel needs at ESTO?
Steinman. We’re creating an awareness event designed to help destinations and their industry partners become accessible as a way to drive more tourism.
You could see this coming. Seventy-five million Baby Boomers are going to be ageing into a disability, and the tour and travel industry is going to have to develop an infrastructure and products for them as they move into that phase of life. They are the ones who are going to have the time and income to travel.
“For the Disabled, Travel is a Commando Raid”
Travel involves getting from point A to point B—from home to the destination—that is an arduous and stressful journey for people who are “abled” so you can imagine what it’s like for those with a disability. Disability blogger Cory Lee Woodard recounted the intense preparation and contingency planning he had undertaken before a long haul flight that made it sound like a commando raid. On long haul flights he doesn’t eat or drink for 36 hours before takeoff so he won’t have to use the bathroom. And then he still has to worry about his motorized wheelchair arriving undamaged.
But to affect change during the transportation process, much of which is regulated by the ADA and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), involves advocacy by disability lobbying groups. Improving accessibility at the destination level however, is something that I believe can be done by raising awareness within the DMO’s communities of hotels and attractions and that small gestures and incremental improvements in service can make a big difference
INBOUND: And, of course, you’re not talking about a single disability that a destination has to address.
STEINMAN: One thing I’ve learned is that every single disability has a spectrum, and so it’s virtually impossible to be accessible for everyone.
INBOUND: Speaking of destinations and accessibility, you recently attended US Travel’s recent ESTO conference in Austin, Texas— which is all about destinations at all levels—where you organized a panel around accessibility. How did that go?
Steinman: We view accessibility as a new and inexpensive form of product development for destinations. The product is already there in the form of museums, hotels and attractions that are already ADA compliant and DMO’s can aggregate them onto an accessible section on their website and then promote it to people with disabilities and their families. DMO’s are in charge of long-range planning and they need to fast forward five to ten years from now when 25% of the baby boomers with time and money to travel will have aged into a disability. If they are prepared for them today, they will be perfectly positioned for these baby boomers who will be selecting their vacations based on what’s accessible to them.
We see DMO’s taking different approaches to promote accessibility as a new product and one of the best examples is Indianapolis. The disability community has a saying: “Nothing about us without us.” The CEO, convened a meeting with several of the local disability organizations covering mobility, blindness, autism and simply asked what they needed in a website and then built what many consider the best destination website for accessible information.
Who Should be the Accessibility Go-to Person on a DMO Staff?
If they currently have someone responsible for “inclusivity” or “diversity”— African American or LGBT market—accessibility fits naturally as the ADA is part of the Civil Rights Act. If not, it should fall under the Visitor Service training function as it’s their job to educate front line hotel and attraction staff, which can greatly reduce complaints and negative feedback.
INBOUND: How does one go about developing an Accessibility Strategy?
Steinman: There is a small, but growing group of accessibility consultants who can help the tourism industry develop an accessibility plan that would address different disabilities. For those that want dive in I suggest they begin with autism. It doesn’t require equipment and there are several credible training organizations, consultants and even apps that can be used. Myrtle Beach has been promoting an Autism Day care center that gives parents with autistic children time to enjoy the destination.
INBOUND: Since you don’t really control the actual visitors experience how do you avoid setting unrealistic expectations?
Steinman: We are all in the pioneer stage right now and, as the old saying goes, the pioneers get arrows in their backs and the settlers get the land. The arrows, in this case, come in the form of criticism. One way to deflect criticism would be to advise industry partners to provide as much accurate and detailed website information about the accessibility features that exist, or include actual images, which can remove most of the ambiguity and would be greatly appreciated. Another is to inform them about innovative technology and products that we have aggregated here on our website.
We implemented blindness access technology to our museum exhibit, but not one person has used it. Blind visitors and their families are probably not aware that this exhibit is even accessible. The most efficient approach is to promote the exhibit to residents through a the local blindness organization and to visitors and locals through digital marketing that targets families members of the blind.
There are ways to manage expectations about the information on your website. One way would be to openly acknowledge that information on the site may not address the needs of everyone with a disability, but that your website is a work-in-progress that will continue to improve with input from the disability community. Managing expectations is also a function of customer service training and how people are treated. The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel CVB recently added an accessibility module to their customer service training program.
INBOUND: Can you tell me more about the structure of the TravelAbility Summit? The speakers? The program?
Steinman: There are three main segments we will bring together at TravelAbility: the tour and travel industry, the disability travel community, and innovative technology and product providers with low-cost practical solutions that can be used by hotels and attractions to make themselves more accessible. There hasn’t been conference on travel accessibility in the U.S. for 13 years and in that time many new products and services have been developed by social entrepreneurs that we have featured on our website and will be inviting to present at the Summit.
Below are the companies we will be inviting to take part in the TravelAbilityPre-Conference “Launchpad” workshop on the afternoon of November 11th. This workshop will be free to conference registrants.
In addition to destinations we’ll welcome anyone in the travel space that is interested in learning how to become more accessible. We have to start somewhere and we’re limiting attendance to 150 people to maximize networking. We’re also concentrating on destinations as they have the capability to spread the word to their industry partners—hotels, attractions, museums, restaurants who rely on them for trend information that will affect their future business.
We’ll make all the presentations available to all attendees so they can use the content to form their own workshops that can be led some of the experts they meet at the Summit. .
INBOUND: Any plans for the future of the Summit?
Steinman: I have a three-year plan. The first year will be completely focused on raising awareness that will result in a mind shift about how and why to address disability tourism. In the second year we’ll focus on training the trainer workshops and in year three we will layer on an awards ceremony to recognize best practices.
To learn more about the TravelAbility Summit, click here.
To subscribe to the Summit’s official newsletter, the TravelAbility Insider, click here.
Boston to Keep Moving up in Place as Port of Entry to U.S. for International Air Passengers
Maybe it has something to do with Pat Moscaritolo, who headed up the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau before stepping down from his job earlier this year after 28 years at the helm. Before that he was director of Boston’s Logan International Airport for a decade or so and, during his time there, he created a marketing department to focus on developing new nonstop international routes from Europe to Boston. From out of nowhere, Boston ranks No. 13 on the Top Ports of Entry in the USA according to preliminary data released last month by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office.
And now, airlines analyst John Gran tells us in a recent OAG blog, the outlook is even brighter for Boston. This year, he writes “some 48 airlines will operate scheduled services to Boston compared to 39 in 2015 with new entrants such as Norwegian, Frontier, Hawaiian, Korean and Air Maroc all seeing opportunities. And with both JetBlue and Delta Air Lines publicly stating an intent to grow in the next couple of years what more can we expect?”
Mergers, Acquisitions, Contractions & Expansions
TUI Sells a Couple of Its German Brands: TUI, Europe’s largest tour operator, has sold two of its brands—Berge & Meer and Boomerang Reisen—with combined turnover of €276 million ($303 million), to Hamburg-based equity investor GENUI. Direct sales specialist Berge & Meer specializes in tours and cruises, often as white label products for other tour operators. Boomerang Reisen offers tailor-made long-haul trips to North America, South America, Oceania and Africa. Of the move, TUI Group CEO Fritz Joussen said: “The transaction will sharpen TUI’s tour operator business and our position as a vertically integrated tourism group. Berge & Meer Touristik and Boomerang Reisen pursue different business models and have a different strategic alignment. Both therefore hardly generated any synergies with TUI’s other business sectors.”
Connect Launches Strategic Solutions Division: Well-known in the meetings, events, sports and tourism industries, Connect has launched a Strategic Solutions division that will focus exclusively on the development, creation, and implementation of customized projects to generate meeting and event business acquisition for destinations, hotels and venues of all sizes. “We see a growing need within the meetings and events industry for customized services outside of those that Connect currently offers,” says Chris Collinson, president and founder of Connect. “The Strategic Solutions team is staffed to provide the same high level of service that Connect provides within our event portfolio to clients with ongoing business development and special project needs.” The Strategic Solutions division will be headed by Vice President Patrick Higgins. Higgins is an industry veteran who most recently served as vice president of meetings and events at Connect, where he launched Connect Sports in 2013. Prior to that, he was a senior sales executive at convention and CVBs in Salt Lake City, Palm Springs and Reno/Tahoe.
Great Rail Journeys Acquires Vacations by Rail: UK based Great Rail Journeys has signed a deal to buy escorted and independent rail specialist Vacations by Rail for an undisclosed sum. The combined business will offer a global portfolio of escorted rail itineraries and an expanded collection of independent rail vacation to customers in both the UK and the United States. It will also give the UK market exclusive access to Vacations by Rail’s products in North America’s National Parks and Alaska. Great Rail Journeys has a workforce of 150 people and offers nearly 400 itineraries in 50 countries globally. Established in 2004, Vacations by Rail offers its North American customers escorted rail tours, luxury rail journeys and custom itineraries to destinations across North America. Great Rail Journeys’ president of North America Heather Leisman will assume leadership of the combined North American business. VBR co-founders Todd Powell and Cole Dannewitz will join the existing GRJ executive team and move into new roles.
Abercrombie & Kent to Open DMC in USA: Abercrombie & Kent is launching a destination management company in the United States. To be headed up by managing director Marty Behr, the new office will begin operations January 1, 2020 at a yet-to-be site. The company will provide ground operating services to travel advisors, tour operators, cruise lines, and meeting and incentive groups. An Abercrombie & Kent spokesperson said that this will be the first time the company has provided shore excursions in the United States, although it has operated such services worldwide in destinations such as Egypt. Meeting and incentive groups will also be a key focus for the new company. According to Abercrombie & Kent, the company has been getting more and more requests from luxury travel advisors to design itineraries for corporate meetings and incentive groups.
Groupon Buys AI Company: Groupon, which sells product across the tour and travel spectrum—as well as in a wide range of consumer products—has announced it has acquired Presence AI, an AI-powered text and voice communications tool that enables and facilitates messaging between customers and merchants. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Groupon said that consumers––especially millennials––vastly prefer messaging and chat-based communications over phone calls.* Presence AI enables merchants to answer to that trend by offering a 24/7 business assistant that integrates with a merchant’s existing scheduling software––or replace pen and paper––to accept and manage bookings, provide instant answers to customer questions, remind people when it’s time to re-book and much more. According to its news release announced the acquisition, “Groupon increased bookable inventory 12 percent year over year and booked tens of millions of diners, concert goers, spa visitors and more in 2018. As the company transitions towards universal bookability for certain services, Presence AI’s technology will provide merchants with the capabilities to support this booking vision.”
Group Business Outlook for Next Two Years is Soft
U.S. hotels will continue facing a challenging group business market, according to the Cvent’s latest Group Business Outlook, a regular quarterly report that provides a two-year, looking-forward review of group booking activity at hotels in the United States. In fact, fewer group rooms have been booked for six of the next eight quarters.
“While group booking pace has picked up slightly compared to last quarter’s report, the overall 24-month view is still fairly weak,” said Jeffrey Emenecker, senior director of analytics, Cvent. “As we look at the next two years, our sourcing data shows a relatively flat awarded group rooms pace and a slight downturn in awarded RFP activity within the U.S. market. Supply continues to increase, but booking pace is not keeping up, which means a drop in group occupancy across the board. Our hope is that hoteliers can use this outlook to develop and adjust their group strategies to drive more business.”
Ironically, the group business outlook could be good news for the tour and travel/leisure sector of hotel business, as lower business group bookings could mean lower prices for leisure groups.
The outlook report uses data from the Cvent Supplier Network (CSN), which saw $16 billion in unique RFPs sourced in 2018. Based on this large volume of sourced business, the Supplier Network numbers can provide a good indication of the pace of group business in the U.S.
The report, which uses data from June 30, 2019, shows that awarded group business is expected to:
—Increase in Q3 of 2019 by 1.5 percent;
—Increase by 0.8 percent in and Q4 of 2019, by 1.5 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively;
—Decline by as much as 3 percent next year.
Meanwhile, overall awarded RFP activity in Q2 is below average and down from Q1. In last quarter’s report, Cvent attributed the Q1 slowdown in part to the commission policy changes that went into effect this year and pulled greater award activity forward into Q4 2018.
The three tables below illustrate the report in graphic fashion.
HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
Tara Hippensteel has left her position as director of tour & travel, North America at Hard Rock Cafe International, and has signed on as national tour & travel manager with Topgolf, a global sports and entertainment company headquartered in Dallas. Hippensteel had been with Hard Rock since 2003.
Cliff Myers, who has more than 20 years of tourism, convention and hotel experience in Virginia, will become the next president and CEO of Visit Vancouver USA. Myers, who is tentatively scheduled to begin his new job Sept. 23, will be joining from the Virginia Beach CVB, where he has served since 2005. Prior to that, he was with the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach where he was assistant general manager and director of sales and marketing. Myers will succeed Kim Bennett, who retired at the end of June.
Jérémie Faller has joined Kuoni France’s sales department, where he will be in charge of the eastern sector comprising a number of departments within France, as well as Luxembourg. Faller, who has more than a decade of experience in the tour and travel industry, was recently a sales representative at the tour operator Salaün.
Paul Jacobs has been named senior vice president of customer experience for leisure brands of the Flight Centre Travel Group’s Americas division. Flight Centre Travel Group maintains three core business segments: leisure, corporate and at-destination. As part of its continuing growth strategy, the company has established an executive steering committee for the Northern Hemisphere (U.S., Canada and the UK) to guide the evolution of its core business models and establishment of new models. Jacobs joined Flight Centre Travel Group as a part of the management team of Student Universe—where he served for more than eight years—which was acquired in late 2015.
Disney Destinations International veteran Peter Welch will retire from the company next year, departing on February 14, 2020 after 28 years with the company. The vice president marketing and sales UK and Ireland for Disneyland Paris has a hotel interest in Sri Lanka he plans to concentrate on together with a business opportunity in Spain. Welch’s planned departure follows that of Hugh Wood, who stepped down from his post as vice president of sales, marketing and distribution following 10 years with the company.
CWT (formerly Carlson Wagonlit Travel) has announced the appointment of Andrew Gunnels as the company’s chief procurement officer. He joins from First Data, where he was senior vice president. Gunnels will be responsible for CWT’s overall sourcing and procurement strategy. He joins the company from First Data Corporation. Previously, he was manager of strategic sourcing for Delta Airlines. Ten years ago, he was chief financial officer of Delta Air Lines, before leading the airline’s supply chain management to maximize quality, delivery and cost competitiveness.
Tom Albrand is Montreal-based Air Transat’s new marketing director for Benelux-Switzerland-Germany. Albrand, who began his new job several weeks ago, joins from Vacansoleil, a European OTA specializing in camping holidays, where he was marketing content coordinator.
The Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board is expanding its presence in the Oceania/Asia region with the appointment of Craig Gibbons to now oversee Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, in addition to Australia and New Zealand. Based in Sydney, Gibbons has been Los Angeles Tourism’s regional director for Australia/New Zealand since 2014. In his expanded role, Gibbons will develop and support air service for Los Angeles International Airport; design a destination training program for the travel trade utilizing the L.A. Insider program; and attend key industry trade shows in the region. Before joining Los Angeles Tourism, Gibbons served both Visit Britain and Visit Indonesia.
Robyn Lynch is the new tourism director for the Gainesville (Ga.) Convention and Visitors Bureau. Lynch joins the bureau from Lake Lanier Olympic Park, where she was executive director, overseeing events such as the International Canoe Federation Dragon Boat World Championships in September 2018. She previously worked at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
Kevin Pohlmann has been appointed to the WestJet airlines agency sales team as business development manager. A 20-year veteran of the tour and travel industry, Pohlman has held senior sales positions with such companies as Cathay Pacific Airways and the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Harbourfront. He will work with agency partners to promote WestJet and WestJet Vacations products while growing agent and agency earnings and maintaining relationships with WestJet’s travel trade partners.
Jake Buganksi, former New Jersey state tourism director, has started a new position as general manager at The Wine Room of Cherry Hill and Coda Rossa Winery. Buganski served as New Jersey’s state tourism director from the end of 2016 until March 2018, then became vice president of strategy for Tempest. Prior to his service at New Jersey’s Division of Tourism, he was president of the Steuben County (N.Y.) Conference and Visitors Bureau.
Marty Behr has been tapped to head Abercrombie & Kent’s new destination management company in the United States. Behr, who has been recognized as a top travel specialist for National Parks by Conde Nast Traveler, has a résumé that also includes tenures as founder and president of National Parks Revealed; Alaska Unusual and American Safari Cruises.
Amerigo Perasso, former Silversea president and chief executive, has been named the new chief executive of the Abercrombie & Kent Group. It follows the completion of an investment in the Abercrombie & Kent Group by Heritage Group, whose chairman, Manfred Lefebvre, is also chairman of Silversea’s. It was announced in February that Heritage Group would take an 85 percent stake in the luxury operator, and Geoffrey Kent, who founded A&K in 1962, 15 percent. Lefebvre will become co-chairman of A&K, and Kent’s title will be founder and co-chairman. Perasso is a business lawyer who spent 14 years at Silversea, holding various positions prior to becoming chief executive.
John MacLeod has been named chief commercial officer of Virgin Australia, which is reorganizing its executive team as part of a restructuring that involves the elimination of 750 jobs in the wake of poor financial results for the carrier. MacLeod, Air Canada’s vice president for global sales, will reportedly replace acting chief commercial officer Merren Macarthur as of October 8. MacLeod has previously held roles at Virgin America, Air New Zealand and Alaska Airlines
Libbie Rice, Ensemble Travel Group president, is leaving the company effective September 10. Libbie told the trade publication TravelPulse that she was “stepping down and ready to do something different … After nine years in the role, I’m looking forward to taking some time off to look at opportunities and taking a break.” Rice said she is leaving the company on good terms. Rice took over all management responsibilities and running the global operations for Ensemble Travel Group following the departure last June of Lindsay Pearlman. Rice joined Ensemble Travel Group in January 2011. Her career in the tour and travel industry includes tenures with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Eos Airlines, and GetThere.
Paul Bencivengo was recently named president and chief operating officer of Visit Bucks County, a suburban county north of Philadelphia, Pa. Bencivengo, a long-time resident of the area, joined the tour and travel industry in 2001 as senior manager of marketing & communications for the Philadelphia CVB. He started as marketing director at Visit Bucks County in 2009. He was promoted to vice president in 2014.
Cathy (Keefe) Reynolds for 27 years at U.S. Travel Association
Kelli Hilliard for 18 years at Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism
Sarah Willoughby for 15 years at the Greater Wilmington (Delaware) CVB
Regina Wagner for 9 years at Corning Museum of Glass
Simon Todd for 8 years at International Sports Management Ltd.
Sandy Stewart for 7 years at Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau
Tracy Vaughan for 5 years at the Georgia Department of Economic Development
Dean Ruffing for 3 years at www.DudeRanches.com
Monica Poling for 1 year at the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association
POSTED INDUSTRY JOBS
From SearchWide Global:
—Apple Leisure Group has an opening for senior director of supplier strategy & investment. For more information, click here.
—Discover Puerto Rico is searching for a leisure sales director. Click here for more details.
—Visit Dallas is looking for a president and CEO. For more details, click here.
—The Miami Beach Convention Center (Spectra) has an opening for a director of sales. Click here for more information.
—Visit Sacramento has an opening for a director of sales. Click here for more information.
—The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corporation is looking for a director of national accounts, West Coast. For more information, click here.
—Great Wolf Resorts is looking for someone to fill the position of vice president of sales. Visit here for more information.
—Visit Mesa is looking for a director of national sales. For more information, visit here.
—Destinations International is seeking to hire a senior director, strategic alliances. For more information, click here.
—The Saugatuck Douglas Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is searching for a new executive director. Click here for more information.
—The Georgia World Congress Center has an opening for a senior director of sales. Click here for more information.
—Visit St. Pete/Clearwater is looking for a president & CEO. For more information, click here.
—The Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau is searching for a vice president of business development. For more details visit here.
—A hotel management company is searching for a corporate director of revenue strategy. Click here for more information.
—Experience Prince George’s (Maryland) has an opening for a sales manager. For details, click here.
—Meet Minneapolis is searching for a senior director of destination sales. For details, check here.
—The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau has an opening for a vice president of people strategies. Click here for more information.
—A leading hotel management company based in Dallas is searching for a national revenue & sales reporting manager. For more information, click here.
—From HARP wallen Global Executive Recruitment and Search:
—A tour operator based in the Greater London area is looking for a senior marketing manager. For additional details, click here.
—A luxury British tour operator based in Cotswolds, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire is looking for a senior sales consultant. Click here for more information.
—A destination management company is searching for someone who is fluent in Portuguese and English to be a country manager to be based in Lisbon, Portugal. Click here for more information.
—Air Canada Vacations has an opening for a product development manager. For more information, click here.
—LinkedIn has listed the position of director, business development, for the Expedia Group. For more information, click here: