Europe Drives Upbeat NTTO Forecast
European source market still key to strength and growth of overseas tourism to USA: The recently posted, six-year forecast of international tourism arrivals to the USA from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO) shows that, fears of a Brexit-related slump as well as a British disdain for U.S. President Donald J. Trump, would cause a decline in British travel to the United States, are apparently unfounded.
As well, despite the hyper-inflated expectations that began in the middle of the current decade—a Pacific Asia Travel Association report in the Spring of 2016 predicted that China would be the USA’s largest overseas source market by 2020—travel from China will sink 5 percent this year, and is now expected to remain the No. 3 overseas market (behind the UK and Japan) through 2024.
For overseas travel, the outlook for all of 2019 is positive—up 1.5 percent. As for the European market, if you review the data in the NTTO forecast below, you will see that just a half-dozen European source markets—the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands—will account for more than a quarter (27 percent, or 1.7 million) of the expected increase in total overseas visits to the USA over the next six years.
As an aside, it should be noted that the numbers in the NTTO long-term forecast, comprise a justification, of sorts, for the Brand USA’s strategy to promote the United States to Europe, treating the latter as a single market.
Here, INBOUND leaves it to the reader to analyze the rather substantial display of data in the NTTO long-term forecast. For a larger view, you can visit the NTTO website’s version here.
Meanwhile, from the latest issue of the U.S. Travel Association’s Travel Trends Index (TTI): “International inbound travel—which has experienced a roller coaster of growth spurts and contraction in 2019—was flat in August. While this is a slight improvement from the 1.2 percent decline registered in July, it is not the hoped-for sign of international inbound travel’s revival. Over the next six months, the Leading Travel Index (the TTI’s predictive element) projects the segment will decline 0.6 percent as it faces continuing obstacles in the form of trade tensions and the strength of the dollar.”
Acknowledging the efforts of Brand USA in the face of a sluggish market, David Huether, U.S. Travel’s senior vice president of research, said “Brand USA has kept the U.S. competitive in the global travel market and prevented the decline in our country’s share of global travel from being worse,” adding that “it is crucial that Congress works quickly to reauthorize Brand USA this year to ensure the future of the United States’ travel promotion and planning.”
How is Thomas Cook Collapse Factoring into Outlook for German travel to USA?
Next to the UK, no country market has felt the impact of the recent collapse of Thomas Cook as much as has Germany, which happens to be the number two country market in Europe for Visit USA travel. At the time of its closure, Thomas Cook Germany had 660,000 advance bookings through to the summer of next year, reported the German travel trade publication FVW, which indicated that TUI Germany’s CEO, Marek Andryszak, was now aiming for 500,000 more customers in 2020. (TUI is the number one market leader in Germany.) Thomas Cook Germany had about 2 million annual customers.
Other leading German tour operators have moved quickly to fill the void left by the departure of Thomas Cook Germany, adding capacity where the can by finding hotel rooms that the defunct operator can no longer fill, and by offering specials.
It was unclear, as INBOUND was prepared for delivery, just what parts of Thomas Cook assets in Germany would be acquired by other operators.
Since most of the focus of the travel trade media in Germany and Europe is understandably focused on the UK and the continent, INBOUND, in an effort to get some insight on what kind of impact the Thomas Cook collapse might be having on travel to the United States is having, decided to get a reliable reflection on the situation from Timo Kohlenberg, president and CEO of Hanover-based America Unlimited which, as its name implies, sells USA and North American product. Following is a quick Q&A exchange we conducted with Kohlenberg.
INBOUND: What impact(s), if any, might the collapse of Thomas Cook and Thomas Cook Germany have on the overall travel trade in Germany for the remainder of the year, on winter 2019/2020 product, and on Visit USA product in the coming year?
Kohlenberg: I think the impact overall will be significant. Some hotels in Europe already closed to the loss of business and lots of jobs are still on risk. As well as lots of travel agencies that will be affected. For the USA, the impact will be fairly small as other players are bigger and this won’t move the needle.
INBOUND: Are you receiving any more inquiries from clients who are interested in your products? And do you see any wholesaler or wholesalers, in particular, who might benefit from the demise of Thomas Cook Germany, which was the Number 2 market leader among German-based tourism companies?
Kohlenberg: The bankruptcy will generate more business among all the leftover tour operators which will spread along the receptive as well.
INBOUND: The U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO) recently released its long-term outlook (through the year 2024) forecast for inbound travel from the top international source markets (click here), in which it forecasts that there will be zero change, this year, in the number of German visits to the U.S. versus 2018. Does this forecast seem accurate to you?
Kohlenberg: That sounds about right although I have to mention that we are 10 percent up to the U.S. Still the political situation is a big issue and people are still hesitant to go.
INBOUND: What about the long-term forecast of one percent in 2020 and two percent each year through 2023? Does this seem accurate?
Kohlenberg: Yes. I would imagine this to be even higher increase over the next few years. It all depends on so many factors like political, climate, economy or exchange rate. It is really hard to tell these days.
UK Closes out A Solid Year—with a Sunny Outlook Ahead
Despite dealing with the disruption wrought by the collapse of Thomas Cook, the nation’s oldest tour operator, ABTA still had time last week to release its annual Holiday Habits report, which analyzes the activity of the UK travel marketplace over the past year, and had the following to say, in sum:
—Britons are still firmly committed to their holidays – with 88 percent of people saying they took a holiday in the last 12 months, up slightly from 86 percent last year.
—The average number of holidays people went on also increased, rising to 3.9 breaks a year – and for the first time since 2011 the average number of holidays taken abroad, 1.9 is now nearly as high as the average number of UK breaks (2.0).
—Almost two thirds (64 percent) of people took a foreign holiday in the 12 months to July 2019, an increase of 4 percent since last year and 11 percent more than five years ago. However, people have cut back on what they spend before they go on holiday and while they are away.
—Compared to 2017, people are spending a combined £98 less before and while away on a short overseas break and £94 ($115) less on a longer overseas break. This shows that, while people are still booking and taking holidays, they are looking to make their money go further by reducing costs before and during their trip.
Following are some of the key tables on British travel behavior from the ABTA Holiday Habits report.
Where are people going? Long haul travel is increasingly popular for Brits, notes the Holiday Habits report. Twenty-five percent. of people said they flew to Asia—a 10 percent increase from 2018 (15 percent) and a 4 percent rise in those who went to North America (26 percent compared to 22 percent). Six percent of people went to South America—with nearly twice as many 25-to-34-year-olds visiting this year (13 percent, up from 7 percent). The top destinations within South America were Mexico (72 percent), Argentina (29 percent) and Chile (20 percent). There was also a notable increase in the number of 18-to-24-year-olds traveling to Africa, up from 6 percent in 2018 to 11 percent in 2019.
What types of holidays have been booked? City and beach breaks continue to be the nation’s top two favorite types of holiday, with most people taking at least one of the two in the past 12 months (68 percent combined).
The number of people taking beach holidays remains consistent with last year—41 percent compared to 40 percent in 2018, whereas city breaks have seen a decline in popularity. While they are still UK holidaymaker’s favorite type of holiday, the number of people taking one in the past 12 months (46 percent), is a slight decrease from last year (48 percent) and 7 percent down since 2017 (53 percent).
Whilst classic holiday types, such as beach breaks are still very popular, people are diversifying their choices and increasingly taking experience led breaks, with the option of ‘getting away from it all’ also being a strong motivation for some holidaymakers.
—Online booking figures have remained steady over the past two years (83 percent vs 81 percent in 2018 and 83 percent in 2017).
—Research reveals 16 percent of people who book a holiday online now seek additional support—such as using a live chat service or speaking with a travel professional via social media—suggesting that people are increasingly seeking a variety of ways to get travel insights and expertise to support their online experience.
—While people are increasingly using social media as a method of interacting with travel professionals, the reliance on social media to provide holiday inspiration and information has fallen this year (3 percent for both social media posts of friends and family—13 percent to 10 percent and brands/ influencers – 9 percent to 6 percent).
—At the same time, there have been increases in the number of people preferring to consult travel company websites or travel professionals (36 percent vs. 32 percent and 17 percent vs. 14 percent in 2018 respectively). This suggests an increasing wariness of social media as a source of information perhaps reflecting higher awareness of ‘fake news’ and fake reviews
—The preferred method for booking a holiday abroad is through a holiday booking website (44percent) – up from 41 percent in 2018.
—The next most popular methods are directly through a service provider (42 percent), which has seen a drop since last year (47 percent),
—Third is through a travel company or travel agent (39 percent). Interestingly, there has been a 5 percent increase in people aged 35-44 booking via a travel company or travel agent, with two-fifths (40 percent) of this age range doing so in the past year.
—Almost twice as many people book their holiday abroad through a travel company or travel agent than for a UK holiday (39 percent vs 20 percent).
—As with last year, for domestic holidays people still prefer to book through a holiday booking website (47 percent) or directly with the service providers (46 percent), with the figures remaining the same for both.
A Summary and Outlook:
—Holidays continue to be a spending priority for people, in spite of ongoing political uncertainty. There has been a slight increase in positive sentiment about holiday spending.
—More than a quarter (27 percent) of people plan to spend more on their holiday in the year ahead, up from 25 percent who said the same last year.
—The number of people (14 percent) who plan to spend less is consistent with last year and 2017.
—The 18 to 24-year-old age group have the strongest feelings about holiday spend: 38 percent say they’ll spend more next year, while 17 percent intend to spend less.
—The main reasons people are planning to spend more are to secure the destination of their choice and to take the trip of a lifetime. Of the 14 percent of people who intend to spend less, the main reasons cited are they took a major trip last year (24 percent) and lack of confidence in the economy (23 percent).
—Research was conducted in late July 2019 and shows that people’s attitudes to the impact of Brexit on travelling abroad have seen few significant changes since last year. Opinion continues to be divided on the degree to which Brexit might impact holidays, although costs represent the biggest concern: 51 percent say they’re worried it will be more expensive to go on holiday after the UK leaves the EU
Destinations People Are Planning to Travel to in The Next 12 Months: Looking ahead, Europe still tops the list of places people plan to travel to in the next 12 months – just slightly ahead of the UK (57 percent vs. 56 percent) – with both destinations seeing a small drop since last year (61 percent vs. 59 percent).
The top countries people are planning to go to are:
Spain (28 percent)
USA (19 percent)
France (16 percent)
Italy (15 percent)
UK (14 percent)
Greece (13 percent)
The top continental destinations (UK excluded) people are planning to visit are:
Europe (57 percent)
North America (16 percent)
Asia (11 percent)
Australia/New Zealand (6 percent)
Africa (4 percent)
South America (4 percent)
Arctica/Antarctica (1 percent)
If Business Travel is Any Measure, then Cost of Travel Essentials is up for 2020
While leisure travel is the product that most international tour operators and U.S.-based receptive tour operators market and sell, the activity and unit costs of the key components of the travel experience are an integral part of the travel package—literally and figuratively. And there is also a small niche market involving leisure travel that is part of the business travel experience—the “Bleisure” traveler—that is affected by the travel market’s response to the pressures of supply and demand.
Tying all of the above into one study is the annual report on business travel costs put out by Runzheimer, the well-known and regarded business management consultant based in Waterford, Wisconsin. A useful tool for the business travel managers and agencies, the report is also useful to understand and track its components when knowing what factors to consider in putting together the parts of a leisure product or package. Following are some highlights of Runzheimer’s 2019 Costs of Business Travel report.
Most Expensive States for Business Travel: When looking at the most expensive states for business travel, certain regions come to mind. The Northeast and the West Coast are among the most expensive regions for business travel. But other expensive states are not clustered into a single area. Additionally, trip costs are not only driven by the state where employees travel. Costs in specific metropolitan areas also make a big impact on business trips.
Most Expensive U.S. Cities for Business Travelers: Prices can vary widely between cities themselves and the areas that surround them. Add up the costs of lodging, ground transportation and meals for a three-day/two-night trip in a major city. It’s likely to cost up to 55 percent more than the average destination. Taking a city-by-city approach is the most accurate way to analyze business travel expenses,
A note on Methodology: Runzheimer analyzed travel cost data from 60 of the most common destinations for U.S. domestic business travel for this study. Airfare costs were calculated using median values for 14-day advance airfares.
China Market Survey Notes
In an article last week in the Asia Times headlined “Lone wolf travel more popular with young Chinese,” readers were able to glean some interesting and possibly useful info-bytes about these solo travelers:
—During the National Day “Golden Week” earlier this month, the number of Chinese who registered for group trips by themselves increased 56 percent over last year.
—Solo travelers are now the second-largest group of travelers in china—after family travelers—according to the Chinese OTA Qunar.
—Qunar also said that it found that the most popular activities that single travelers prefer to undertake during their excursions are diving, camping, hiking and cycling.
—There are today more than 240 million singles in China. Collectively, they form a bigger group than the combined population of Russia (146 million*) and the United Kingdom (68 million*).
—The trend will continue, as evidenced by that fact that, in 2018, 10.14 million couples registered to get married, 4.6 percent lower than in 2017. The marriage rate was 0.73 percent, according to China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs.
—According to China’s largest travel agency, Ctrip, as of September, the number of singles who traveled with groups increased by 40 percent over last year, and those who traveled abroad with groups increased by 10 percent year on year.
—Said Neil Wang, president of the consultancy Frost & Sullivan in China, “The singles’ number is big, and this trend undoubtedly has implications for tourism, as when singles travel alone, they don’t need to consider the demands of companions, and they can choose destinations and plan their trips based on their own preferences.
* Estimates from Worldometers.info
For the complete article, click here.
From Inside Retail Hong Kong last week, we learned some things about themed travel:
—Themed travel—a relatively new tourism category identified by marketers, including concepts such as health and wellness, wedding photography and self-drive tours—is a fast-growing trend among Chinese tourists – with more than two in three from mainland cities prepared to try it as a hobby.
—Saskia Zhao, travel and leisure analyst at Mintel China Reports, told the publication, “In light of this, companies in China’s travel industry are moving beyond simply offering traditional travel products and are introducing themed travel to the market. (Mintel Group Ltd is a privately owned, London-based market research firm. The corporation also maintains offices in Chicago, New York City, Mumbai, Belfast, Shanghai, Tokyo, Sydney and Seoul.)
—Mintel research shows that “hobbies and in-depth travel experiences are what’s motivating Chinese consumers to try themed travel,” said Zhao.
—Research from Mintel also suggests a desire for new experiences seems to be what’s driving interest in the category. Three out of five urban Chinese respondents (of 3,000 surveyed online aged 20-49) say they are motivated to try themed travel because it would make a suitable hobby (66 per cent) and is an in-depth travel experience (64 per cent).
—Meanwhile, a relatively new concept—self-drive tours—are picking up in China, as 52 per cent of urban Chinese survey respondents said that they have taken the more common self-organized tour (excluding RVs and self-drive tours) for their personal leisure travels in the last 12 months, while 49 per cent say that they have taken self-drive tours.
—Self-drive tours are especially popular among the post-80s generation with 57 per cent of respondents having tried this way of themed travelling. This is followed by 48 per cent of post-90s and 41 per cent of post-70s consumers.
—Finally, Mintel said its research indicated that there is an opportunity for travel suppliers with health and wellness themed travel. As many as 74 per cent of Chinese respondents cited enjoying a slower-paced lifestyle as the most important reason to try health and wellness themed travel; while 67 per cent associate health and wellness themed travel with a nice environment and being beneficial to physical health.
To read the complete article, click here.
ARC’s Dan Swain on Connecting More DMOs with Travel Agencies
Dan Swain, director of data sales for the Airlines Reporting Corporation (ARC), knows his way around the airline industry. He’s been with ARC for a dozen years and, previously, he worked for Austrian Airlines and US Airways. Of late, Swain has become a familiar figure at travel and tourism conferences as he explains to audiences just what ARC is and what it does—most recently he is more than likely telling others in the industry how they can use ARC’s database to track the purchases and destinations of airline passengers throughout the world, using the Global Agency Pro platform. He’ll be a featured speaker next week at Connect Travel’s RTO Summit Florida, in ChampionsGate, Florida. (For more information on the event, visit www.rtosummit.com.) We recently spent some time talking with Swain about ARC and its Global Agent Pro, launched two years ago, which is a data tool designed to help DMOs improve their marketing and promotional results. The following are excerpts from our conversation.
INBOUND: First, since it’s likely that many people are still unaware of what ARC is and does beyond providing a payment settlement platform for travel agencies and the airlines, could you give us a brief “this-is-what-we’re all about” so that we can better understand your work and the work of your organization?
Swain: Sure. ARC is an airline industry-owned entity, and we’ve been around for more than 50 years in one form or another. And, yes, our core business is settlement and we accredit travel agencies to sell airline tickets on behalf of our airline owners and participating airlines. So, we have a unique insight into the travel agency community and the types of travel that they’re able to support for the industry.
In addition to our settlement/clearing house function, we also have a very robust data business, which allows us to offer insights into traveling patterns and recent trends for tickets sold not only in the United States, where we’re focused, but also from anywhere in the world through our partnership with the International Air Transport Association (IATA). For the DMO community, this is especially interesting because we’re able to combine the ARC and IATA settlement platforms to provide a truly global point of sale database for DMOs from which to get that insight.
INBOUND: What prompted ARC to develop the Global Agency Pro data management program, and when did it come about?
Swain: Global Agency Pro is about two years old, and it is the result of a closer partnership we have with our friends at IATA. ARC and IATA have for many years created data products—primarily for our airline owners and partners. We perform several services for airlines. But we’re constantly having interesting discussions with other players in the travel and tourism industry resulting in products and services for all types of entities—everything from travel agencies to airports. DMOs comprise the newest group for which we’ve created products.
Before Global Agency Pro, ARC had a stand-alone product using ARC-only data (U.S. point-of-sale only) in which we offered travel agency insights for the U.S. community as well. What’s new with Global Agency Pro is that it is a truly global offering that brings in a much more extensive database of airline ticket sales.
INBOUND: To help us better understand—or, in our case, more easily understand Global Agency Pro—do you have a brief “101” or case study of how someone uses it? I was thinking about the case of Atout France. (It is the France Tourism Development Agency, the French organization responsible for promoting France as a tourism destination—you can access a copy of ARC’s case study of how it uses Global Agency Pro here.)
Swain: Yes, Atout France is one of our most robust users and advocates. They do some really interesting work. But our core value proposition is to the greater DMO community, because many of them don’t necessarily recognize the volume of business that still comes through the travel agency community in the United States, which sells 50 percent of U.S. airline tickets. That includes small mom-and-pop leisure agencies that most people think of, but in addition to that, it includes the managed corporate travel community and the OTAs as well.
ARC has huge visibility in terms of air travel in the U.S. We also know through IATA’s data that global travel agencies sell more than 50 percent of tickets in their local markets as well. Most people don’t realize how robust the agency community still is.
What we can do is give DMOs insight into not only how many passengers are coming to their destination, or where those passengers are coming from but, uniquely, we can also tell them who sold those tickets. Instead of just knowing that you’ve got a large population of people coming from a particular country—especially for international inbound interests—we can tell them which travel agencies in that county are making the sales. So, they’re able to use our data to not only see the volumes of passengers, but also create a relationship with the sellers of that travel.
For something like the RTO Summit audience, which is focused on (international) tour operators, we find that most tour operators are also travel agencies. This means that if they’re issuing airline tickets, we have visibility there as well. Interestingly, our data is not delayed like many other sources in the marketplace. If that ticket is sold today for travel six months from now, we can see that ticket today. ARC can provide a good forward indicator of future travel to the destination as well.
INBOUND: You have a point about tour operators in other countries. In Brazil, you can walk into an office and on one side of the room is the travel agency and on the other side is the tour operator. That’s how co-mingled they are there.
Swain: Absolutely. And the volumes that they send are very significant. If you talk to the general population, they’re like, “Oh, I don’t use a travel agency any more. I book everything by myself online.” Well, those online bookings are often via an OTA like Expedia, which is a travel agency. Maybe for a relaxed weekend domestic trip, they don’t need a traditional travel agency to help them, but most people are happy they get the help and insights of a travel agency when they’re booking a more extensive international trip or tour. Travel agencies provide a lot of additional value to those customers who are planning a more high-end or complex trip.
INBOUND: For those DMOs who are just beginning to familiarize themselves with the Global Agency Pro, do you have any ballpark figure that you can tell us as to how many DMOs use the product?
Swain: This product is available globally—in the U.S. via ARC and outside the U.S. via IATA. We’ve got about two dozen DMOs using the system today, and we sell it as a subscription. The DMO receives access to an online platform where, on a daily basis, they can run reports and do queries as to tickets sold to their destination. Uniquely, they can also run reports on travelers going to competitors or peer destinations as well. If they identify travel agencies who are supporting their peers but not their destination—or not supporting theirs to the same extent—it’s an excellent way to identify areas of opportunity, like creating a new relationship with that travel agency or tour operator.
INBOUND: Is it on a sliding scale? That is, larger destinations more, smaller DMOs pay less?
Swain: That’s correct. We base our pricing on the volume of tickets included in the data subscription. A smaller destination is going to pay less than a larger destination, just by the aspect of how many tickets are involved in their reporting. Everything is done by an annual subscription. An annual subscription gives them access not only to daily, updated ticket reports, but also historical data going back to 2010. So, when they sign up with us, they instantly get access to almost a decade’s worth of travel history.
INBOUND: At the RTO Summit, will people be able to meet with you one-on-one? Will they be able to sign up on the spot? Has that ever happened?
Swain: It’s absolutely possible if they want to. We are capable of creating a contract with them on the spot, and we’ll also be providing demos and custom proposals for anybody interested.
INBOUND: Is there anything else I’ve missed you would like to cover?
Swain: We’re looking forward to working closely with the DMO community, and we’ll be happy to connect any prospective customers with current users. And we have testimonials and more information on our website as well. (https://www2.arccorp.com)
Acquisitions and Shutdowns in the Tour & Travel Trade
—Family-Owned Travel Company Buys Thomas Cook Stores. Little known outside the UK until recently, Hays Travel, a large family-owned travel agency, has acquired all 555 stores of the defunct Thomas Cook on Oct. 8 and had opened some of them by last week’s end. In the coming days, Hays Travel has promised to re-open every one of the Thomas Cook’s stores and indicates that it will have jobs for Cook’s 2,500 retail staff. Hays Travel is owned by husband and wife John Hays, aged 70, and 65-year-old Irene, and was already the UK’s biggest independent travel agent with 190 shops, employing around 1,700 people and turnover of more than £1 billion ($1.26 billion) a year. In addition to the stores, it has a network of around 240 travel agents who work from home, selling holidays from their laptops. It also owns Hays Travel Independence Group, a consortium of independent travel agents which trade under their own names but benefit from Hays’s buying power. The company was founded by John Hays in 1980 from the back of his mother’s children’s clothes shop in Seaham, County Durham.
—Meanwhile, Thomas Cook India is alive and well, but it might change its name: Activity in the wake of the collapse of the globally known Thomas Cook had Thomas Cook India working hard to let the travel trade know that it was (and still is) alive and well. The latter—which was acquired in 2012 by Canada-based Fairfax Financial Holdings—put out a statement which said, “Thomas Cook PLC (UK) has no relationship with Thomas Cook India as we were acquired by Canada based Fairfax Financial Holdings (Fairfax) in 2012. We are completely independent of Thomas Cook UK & hence the news of their situation does not impact us. Please be reassured that all your bookings and transactions will continue to be smooth and we look forward to having you enjoy your trip with Thomas Cook India.” The less-than-favorable mention of the failed Thomas Cook by the global news media may, however, persuade the Indian brand to change its name. Madhavan Menon, chairman and managing director, told the Indian business magazine Business Today that, while the company has the right to use the brand name “Thomas Cook” till 2024, it could review the matter in coming days.
DER Touristik Expands its Corporate Borders: Exim Holding, the Czech subsidiary of DER Touristik, Germany’s second largest tour operator group (it has claimed, at times, to be the number one long-haul operator) has acquired CK (Cestovní kancelář) Fischer. A purchase price was not disclosed for the purchase, which is subject to the approval of antitrust authorities. Once approved, the acquisition will double the size of the DER Touristik’s business in the Czech Republic. Exim and CK Fischer are both profitable and each has turnover of about €230 million ($254 million). DER Touristik Group will retain the management teams of both companies. Exim Holding, part of DER Touristik Group since 2012, operates under two main tour operator brands Exim Tours (Czech Republic and Poland) and Kartago Tours (Slovakia and Hungary). Earlier this year, DER Touristik Group bought two Romanian tourism businesses—Nova Travel, Danubius Travel and Touring Europabus through Exim Holding. DER Touristik is a part of the REWE Group, which has multiple brands in different economic sectors; it is, for instance, the second largest supermarket chain in Germany. (A note: New World Travel, a leading receptive tour operator in the United States, is a subsidiary of DER Touristik.)
—Cox & Kings Closes Australia, New Zealand Operations: A company with a-more-than 250-year history, is close to shutting down itself, news media reports indicate. India-based tour and travel company Cox and Kings Ltd is in deep financial trouble. It has defaulted on most of its debt repayment obligations since June. And just before the collapse of Thomas Cook, which received much more attention, Cox & Kings closed its Australia and New Zealand operations. A source told the travel news publication Skift said that the company has started informing clients that the firm doesn’t have funds to pay for hotels, and that Cox and Kings has also stopped marketing in India and not receiving fresh bookings. The same news report also indicated that MakeMyTrip, Thomas Cook India and Abercrombie & Kent are among the firms rumored to be considering Cox & Kings’ acquisition. Established in 1758, the company, is headquartered in India and, prior to the failure of its Australia and New Zealand units, had operations spread across 22 countries and 4 continents.
—The Swiss company Hotelplan Group is entering the German tour and travel market with the acquisition of dynamic tour operator Vtours, an operator based in Aschaffenburg that only offers products from dynamic packaging. The Swiss group, which is headquartered near Zurich, is buying the German company, including its Vtours International subsidiary, for an undisclosed sum. Both Vtours and its subsidiary will continue to operate autonomously through their established names under the management of CEO Achim Schneider, the former owner, who told the German travel trade publication FVW: “With Vtours we have achieved a success story over the last 15 years, and we’re delighted to have a strong partner at our side for our future development … Through the merger, we can become active not only in Germany, Austria and Switzerland but throughout Europe, and benefit above all from the technological expertise of the Hotelplan Group.” Vtours, with 150 employees, generates annual turnover of more than €400 million ($442 million). The Hotelplan Group, with turnover of €1.3 billion ($1.435 billion) last year, is the largest Swiss-owned tourism group.
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HODGE PODGE: Shifts, Shakeups and Occasional Shaftings in the Tour and Travel Industry
WestJet has announced that Tim Croyle, vice president, WestJet Vacations and cargo has decided to retire. “The decision has been made with careful consideration and with mixed emotions,” said Croyle. “I would like to thank all of WestJet’s travel trade, hotel and destination partners for the support and loyalty they have shown for more than a decade. WestJet was purchased earlier this year by Gerald Schwartz and Onex Corp. earlier this year. Croyle joined WestJet in 2003, as manager-airports projects holding a variety of roles before moving to WestJet Vacations in 2010. He was subsequently promoted to vice-president, WestJet Vacations, and then, last year, interim executive vice-president, commercial role. Most recently, Croyle took on responsibility for the WestJet cargo team and its in-house transition.
Sofia Williamson, former president of the NAJ Group where she spent more than 20 years, has joined Stefan Merkl’s team at Explore Marketing, which serves a number of U.S.-based tour and travel businesses. Williamson will collaborate with Explore Marketing on setting up sales missions, supporting clients with account management, and more. Said Merkl: “This addition to the team provides Explore Marketing with an even greater bandwidth to further support our existing and new clients’ achieve their goals.”
Ahmad M. Wardak, has been appointed executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Bluegreen Vacations. As chief marketing officer, Wardak will oversee all aspects of the company’s marketing operations and customer care as well as sales operations at the Company’s 51 percent-owned Bass Pro Shops joint venture. Wardak joined Bluegreen Vacations in 2003 and most recently served as executive vice president of corporate development and Innovation, where he led the Company’s strategic and corporate development as well as the business intelligence and analytics functions. From 2010 to 2017, he led the corporate marketing function at Bluegreen Vacations. Under Wardak’s leadership, the company’s corporate vacation package sales grew from approximately 45,000 to over 200,000 packages sold annually.
Kelly Cookes, who had just been promoted to head of commercial partnerships and sales planning at Thomas Cook just before the company shut down on September 23rd, is joining Advantage Travel Partnership as its leisure director. Cookes worked for Thomas Cook for six years. She joined Thomas Cook-owned Freedom Travel Group as relationship manager in 2013 and became its general manager in 2014, a position she held until August when she was promoted to head of commercial partnerships and sales planning across all Cook’s UK distribution channels.
Lori Healey has left her job as CEO of Chicago’s Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority—it runs the McCormick Place convention center and the Navy Pier, which is one of the largest tourist attractions in the U.S. Midwest—to become president of the new Chicago regional business unit of Clayco, a development and design firm. It is also where a number of veterans of the mayoral administrations of Richard Daley (1989-2011) and Rahm Emanuel (2011-2019). Among the high-profile positions that she has held, Healey was once Mayor Daley’s chief of staff.
Alexandre Cavalcanti, a 20-year veteran of American Airlines is preparing for a new career with the company. He is leaving his post as a regional sales director in Brazil to become leisure sales manager for the Dallas-based carrier. From the Dallas-Ft. Worth, he will handle domestic and international sales from major customers, such as carriers, consolidators and travel agencies.
In Alberta, Terry Dow has been named executive director of the Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association. She brings to the position more than 25 years of experience in tourism, hospitality, sales and leadership across Southern Ontario and Northern Saskatchewan. Dow replaces James Leppan who left earlier in the year to work with Travel Alberta. Dow was previously executive director for the Waskesiu and Area Wilderness Region (WWR) where she worked closely with members to develop and promote incredible visitor experiences in Northern Saskatchewan.
Enterprise Holdings Inc.—a its brands include Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car—has announced that CEO Pamela M. Nicholson will retire from the company at the end of this year. Her successor will be named after a meeting of the company’s board of directors in December. Nicholson is only the third CEO in the privately held company’s more than 60-year history and the first to come from outside the Taylor family, which founded the company in St. Louis in 1957. She is not only the highest-ranking woman in the entire U.S. car rental industry, but also the highest-ranking woman among the world’s largest travel companies and, based on company revenue, among the top female CEOs across all industries. Nicholson joined the company in 1981 after graduating from college. She steadily moved up the ranks, becoming senior vice president of North American Operations in 1999. She was named chief operating officer in 2003, appointed President in 2008 and promoted to chief executive officer in 2013.
Steve Hayes, president of Visit Pensacola has announced that he has accepted the position of president & CEO of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater in Pinellas County. Hayes had been with Visit Pensacola since 2013. Previously, he served for more than 25 years with Visit Tampa Bay; he held the position of executive vice president when he left the organization. Hayes succeeds David Downing, who left Visit St. Pete/Clearwater last February. To help ensure a smooth transition, Hayes will continue his dedication to the organization until December 12, 2019.
Meet AC (Atlantic City) president and CEO Jim Wood is leaving the organization at the end of the year to return to Kentucky and care for his wife, who suffered a fall earlier this year, the organization announced in a release. Wood is the first CEO of the organization, founded in 2014 as the sales and marketing organization for the city by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. He came to Atlantic City from Louisville, Kentucky, where he was president and CEO for of the city’s CVB more than 10 years.
Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold recently announced the promotion of Anthony Sollecito Rich from northeast district sales manager to director of national accounts and luxury brand ambassador for the United States. Rich, who spent three years serving as northeast district sales manager, began his career in the music business, and for over a decade produced a wide range of Grammy Award-winning artists while leading marketing and branding campaigns for Jive Records. Rich left the music business in 2015 to join Insight Vacations and Luxury Gold. Aside from growing sales in his territory, Insight Vacations said that Rich built the brands’ music format, creating soundtracks for the various destinations featured for Insight and Luxury Gold. He also earned a top achiever award for 2019 for his efforts in growing sales in New York and New Jersey.
Sally Zhou has joined Ctrip.com as a marketing executive. She joins the company from H.I.S. International Tours Inc., where she served for more than six years as a supervisor.
Mathew “Manako” Kenichi Tanaka as sales manager. In his role at the O’ahu Visitors Bureau, Tanaka’s responsibilities include oversight of sales activities to help improve processes and garner results in both leisure and meetings, conventions and incentives markets. He will also assist with the agency’s crisis preparedness and management efforts. Prior to joining the bureau, Tanaka was in the catering & convention services department at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Kapolei on O‘ahu.
Anne Kehmeier was recently named team leader for sales and operations at the German tour operator For Family Reisen, overseeing the entire sales process in close coordination with company management and optimizing all customer contact points. Kehmeier’s involvement in tourism while studying international tourism management with a focus on sustainability. She spent a semester abroad in Dublin and completed a semester internship in Panama, where she discovered her passion for Latin America. She gained further experience in tourism while working for more than five years at Papaya Tours, a Cologne-based German tour operator that organizes individual Central and South American trips.
In the UK, Tim Winkworth has been named product and operations director at Jon Baines Tours Ltd. Previously, he had served as product director for Specialist Journeys. He also spent more than five years as family product development manager for Intrepid Travel.
Rodrigo Fritsche has been named as the new commercial director for Flytour Gapnet, the third largest tour operator/travel agency in Brazil. Fritsche, who had been with the company for seven years as a southern regional manager, was promoted to the position.
James Coughlan has been appointed as the new director of sales and business development at Abercrombie & Kent. Coughlan will join the luxury tour operator in November. He replaces Simon Lynch, who left the business in June to join Scott Dunn. Coughlan will be responsible for sales, operations and business development, working across the company’s Cheltenham and London offices. While joining A&K from the telecoms industry, Coughlan has a long history of working in the travel sector, most recently at Holiday Malta, which he left in 2016 after a management reshuffle. His travel career includes six years at Thomas Cook where he led the company’s retail team in the north of England, and senior positions at a number of travel companies including Holiday Malta Company & Flexi Vacations; Affinion International and Cendant Vacation Rental Group.
Wendy Ziesel has been named destination manager, USA, at Musement, the online platform for activities, tours, museums and entertainment events. She makes the move to her new employer from Circle Line-New York Cruises, where she spent four years and was a senior tour and travel sales manager. Her résumé also includes a tenure at the Heartland Brewery Group where she was also tour and travel sales manager.
Brian Blanchard has been named deputy director of tourism for Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism. He succeeds Bonnie King, who retired from the Office of Tourism on June 30 after 32 years. Blanchard, who has more than 20 years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industries, comes to his new job from the Office of Tourism at Port Canaveral, where he was director of recreation and guest experience, and senior director of operations. Previous tenures include 12 years with tourist attractions, including Universal Orlando and Cypress Gardens.
Bedsonline, a part of the Hotelbeds Group, has announced a number of changes for its travel advisor customers, including an expansion of its team across the United States and Canada. Over the course of the last month-and-a-half, the company has made a number of new appointments to its senior team and regional manager roles, including: Bruce McCarson, key account manager in Texas; Rebecca Aiken, key account manager in Minnesota; Ivan Mansanet, key account manager in British Columbia; and Michael Sanchez, key account manager in Arizona. Additionally, joining the team are Brenda Pais, key account manager in Ontario; and Andrea Monroe and Colter Fleming, key account managers in Southern California.
HAPPY WORK ANNIVERSARIES
Helen Medler for 26 years at Hawthorne Tours
Matt Cook for 20 years at Vacations made easy
Faeq Manna for 10 years at Travel Wings Tourism
Sabena Chode for 1 year at Orlando Forum Theatre
POSTED INDUSTRY JOBS
From SearchWide Global:
—The Monterey County Convention & Visitors Bureau is looking for a president and CEO. For more information, visit here.
—The Corpus Christi Convention & Visitors Bureau is searching for its next chief executive officer. For more details, click here.
—The Evansville, Indiana Convention & Visitors Bureau is searching for a chief executive officer. Click here for details.
—Brent Robinson Vacation Rentals on the Alabama Gulf Coast has an opening for a director of marketing. For additional details, click here.
—Crayola Experience is looking for a head of marketing at its Easton, Pa. location. For more information, click here.
—Apple Leisure Group is searching for a senior director of Supplier Strategy & Investment. For more details, click here.
—The El Paso Convention & Visitors Bureau has an opening for a director of convention development. Click here for more details.
—Discover Puerto Rico is searching for a leisure sales director. Click here for more details.
—Visit Milwaukee has an opening for a director of sales. Click here for more information.
—The Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau and Will Rogers Memorial Center is searching for a general manager. Click here for details.
—An international hotels & resorts company has an opening for a regional director of sales and marketing; the position is based in Vancouver, B.C. Visit here for 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.
—An Irvine, California-based hotel management company is searching for a corporate director of revenue strategy. Click here for more details.
—A hotel management company is searching for a remote director of revenue management for the Embassy Suites Brand who will oversee two recently renovated. 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.
—The Saugatuck Douglas Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is searching for a new executive director. Click here for more information.
—The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau has an opening for a vice president of people strategies. Click here for more information.
—A family of resorts with 17 locations across North America is searching for a group of national sales managers for its collection of properties. For more information, visit here.
From HARP wallen Global Executive Recruitment and Search:
—A tourism board with an office situated in Central London is looking for a marketing and public relations manager. Click here for details.
—A tourism board with an office situated in Central London is searching for a marketing and public relations senior executive. For more information, click here.
—A well-established travel brand based in Hampshire is searching for a public relations director. For more information, visit here.
—A specialist cruise company based in the Greater London area is looking to fill in a newly created position of trade partnerships manager. Click here for more details.