Leisure Travel in the Time of COVID-19
A New View: Given how quickly the landscape is changing in the current crisis, an Expedia Group team ran a sentiment study in July with research experts dscout.* Explained Monya Mandich, global vice president, marketing, for Expedia: “We asked a panel of travelers in the U.S. as well as in Australia, Canada, Europe, and the U.K. to tell us about their upcoming travel plans and explain what is driving their decisions when it comes to booking trips at this time. Respondents to the online survey were qualified as already having had a leisure trip planned and/or booked for June-December 2020. As well as detailed study responses to a number of questions, we were also able to see and hear from travelers through online video testimonials, helping uncover deeper insight into their attitudes and motivations.
* A Chicago-based online research company
Here is a snapshot of what the research team saw from the study, including a couple of the themes that Expedia says “bubbled up.”
Health and hygiene information are key: As travel shoppers evaluate their destination, accommodation, and transportation options, around nine in ten of them want to see information on health and cleanliness before booking. Above all else, travelers want to be reassured that it is safe for them to travel and they want to see relevant information and messaging from travel brands. We recommend that destinations, lodging and transportation advertising partners use marketing messages and content to explicitly outline the health measures they are taking.
Domestic car trips are trending: With only 26 percent of travelers comfortable traveling by plane one month from now, destinations should target drive markets to attract potential visitors. Proactively sharing information on open businesses, off-the-beaten-path activities, socially distanced experiences, and more will help would-be visitors get inspired and plan their trip. The likelihood of visitors renting a car for a leisure trip is three times higher than pre-COVID levels, representing a huge opportunity for rental companies.
Vacation rentals prove popular: Travelers are most comfortable staying in a vacation rental—chain hotels, and resorts come in a close second during the COVID-19 crisis. Lodging providers can attract potential guests by leading with their flexible cancellation policies and detailed health and safety information. Hotels and resorts can also share information on nearby activities that are open for business and incorporate special deals to help make the booking decision even easier.
Travelers turning to OTAs throughout the purchase journey: Along with insights into destination, accommodation, and travel preferences, the research shows travelers are turning to a variety of resources for trip inspiration, planning, and booking right now, including online travel agencies (OTAs). Nearly half of respondents turn to an OTA for inspiration, 73 percent for planning and 93 percent would use an OTA to book travel in this environment, illustrating an opportunity for travel brands to drive awareness and demand with a highly qualified audience.
Sidebar Notes on China
Students and Gamblers in the Spotlight: While most lead tourism-related stories on broadcast or streaming news, as well as print news media accounts from China have pointed to a strong and still recovering Chinese domestic travel sector, there have been occasional “off-page-one” items that could have deeper significance in their level of importance for Chinese-American relationships.
First, there came the news last week by the U.S. government that it had revoked the visas of more than 1,000 Chinese nationals under a Presidential proclamation issued earlier this year that denies entry to students and researchers deemed security risks—a move China called a violation of human rights.
The proclamation last May was ostensibly aimed at Chinese nationals suspected of having ties to the military. U.S. President Donald Trump said at that time that some students had stolen data and intellectual property. China has also accused the United States of racial discrimination. Could the U.S. action be a signal for rough times ahead for Chinese citizens seeking to visit the United States? Prior to the beginning of the coronavirus-driven global pandemic, rejections of visa applications had already been a top complaint of the travel trade in China.
There is also this: according to the latest annual “Open Doors” report from the from the U.S Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education, with data for the 2018-2019 school year, there were 369,548 students from China enrolled at U.S. universities. China accounts for a third (33.7 percent) of all international students in the U.S. The next report for the 2019-2020 school year, is due to be released in mid-November.
While their impact is not broadly felt across America, those U.S. destinations with concentrations of Chinese students—states such as Massachusetts, California, Illinois and others—consider the students, along with their parents and relatives who escort them to the USA or visit them during the school year, a lucrative market. The overwhelming majority of the Chinse students pay for their tuition and housing. Along with their relatives, they also comprise a profitable sub sector at upscale department stores and specialty shops.
And second, there is this (from the category of “I’m shocked, shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here.”): The Chinese government has announced that it is going to publish a blacklist of foreign casinos that routinely target high rollers in the country, and ban its citizens from traveling to those destinations. The announcement came recently from China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which said that, along with other government agencies, it has established a blacklist of casinos in overseas cities that market to Chinese tourists.
According to the authoritative gaming industry website, casino.org, nearly all forms of gambling are illegal in the People’s Republic of China—the exception being the state-run lottery. Commercial casinos are found only in Macau, an autonomous Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism said “casinos in overseas cities attract Chinese tourists to go abroad for gambling activities, disrupting the order of China’s outbound tourism market, and endangering the personal and property safety of Chinese citizens.”
The Chinese government was silent on the issue of divulging which casinos and areas are on the blacklist. The ministry did say, however, that it would include casinos that allow proxy betting — the process of a gambler making bets on behalf of a person who is directing their play remotely via telephone or another device.
The government indicated that VIP junket groups, which coordinate travel from China to casino destinations for high rollers (and, apparently) lend them money to gamble with, are additionally being closely monitored by the central government.
Casino.org cited a brief note on the subject from DS Kin, Derek Choi and Jeremy An, analysts from JP Morgan: “At this stage, it’s difficult to know exactly how the government will clamp down and what it means by ‘blacklisting.’ But we suspect capital flows through underground banks and agents, as well as junkets’ promotion of these overseas markets, will be heavily scrutinized.”
German Agents Want That 10 Percent
The current situation in which there is a near-complete shutdown of travel agency sales notwithstanding, German travel agents have released what the trade publication Touristik Aktuell called “the top demands from the counter”—an acknowledgement of the importance of the tradition-bound role of the retail travel agent who works at the counter in the brick-and-mortar agencies that are probably more of a fixture than in Germany than in any other national travel market of continental Europe.
And, by virtue of this market reality, it is something that U.S.-based receptive tour operators should always keep in mind when selling Visit USA product to Germany, which is the seventh largest source market (based on the latest year-to-date international arrival data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel and Tourism Office (NTTO).
According to results of the survey by the QTA travel cooperative, travel agencies agreed that:
—There should be a minimum commission of ten percent on sales; and
—Elimination of minimum turnover provisions.
The two points above were two of the ten frequently mentioned requests and demands from the QTA alliance partner offices. The alliance had asked its offices in advance for upcoming discussions with the tour operators to share their most important demands as part of a survey. Following are the full Top 10.
1. At least ten percent basic commission. The QTA has already taken a first step in this context with TUI. As part of the new collective agreement, TUI grants travel agencies that have signed the contract a basic commission of ten percent.
2. The waiver of minimum sales.
3. Financial compensation for free cancellations. According to QTA, this is particularly important to the offices and also a consequence of the unpaid overtime work in recent months.
4. Multi-year commission models. They should provide more planning security with terms of at least two years.
5. Transfer commission payments when booking or at the latest for customer payments.
6. Better training concepts.
7. Greater participation and greater say in the organizers – be it in the form of advisory boards or idea pools.
8. Demand for support from the organizers in the introduction of service and consulting fees without affecting the commissions.
9. Easy booking of Quality Plus.
10. The continued existence of discounts for travel agents.
The QTA now wants to work on these ten points together with the organizers. The aim of the QTA project is to put partner travel agencies on a more stable economic foundation. “With the demands we have received a clear order from our travel agency partners for future negotiations with the tour operators,” QTA officials said in a statement.
According to QTA, the demands submitted are being used to meet the travel agencies’ legitimate request for changes and to create a new basis for fair cooperation between stationary sales and tour operators as partners in a common industry.
Brazil Isn’t Waiting for Recovery
“Jogo de Cintura” is Bound to Prevail: Whenever INBOUND has had trouble understanding, or in trying to explain, the vagaries of the Brazilian tourism market, we remind ourselves of a polished bit of wisdom offered up several years ago by Celeyta Jackson, a Brazilian/New Yorker and long-time tourism industry veteran in working the Brazilian inbound market for entities such as New York City & Company, who told us about the “Jogo de Cintura” of Brazilians. Literally translated as “game waist,” the expression suggests more of an attitude that, say, a soccer player takes into a challenging match. For Brazilians, Jackson explained, it means “having the dexterity and flexibility to overcome obstacles and situations.” (The Cambridge Dictionary has it about the same: “clever or skilful/skillful actions to achieve something or deal with a problem.”
So, “having the dexterity and flexibility to overcome obstacles and situations” seems to be precisely what has been taking place in the Brazilian travel and tourism industry. Brazil, which until the beginning of September, was second only to the United States in the number of deaths due to COVD-19, is giving off and/or sending out signals that collectively, almost defiantly, tell us that they will recover and prosper once again. Put another way: Brazilian travelers are well aware of what some might call a dire situation, but they will overcome—because of their Jogo do Cintura.
One can read the latest (August) issue of the Brazilian Overview Monthly Report from the trade publication PANROTAS and FecomercioSP, widely known for its economic research and products. Some points from the Monthly Report follow.
—For five months now, the overall Brazilian economy has been recovering faster than expected. Agribusiness has performed very well, managing to supply the whole country and avoiding food shortages.
—The city of São Paulo and other major centers gradually reopened their business in June. There was a repressed demand, however, people having to adapt themselves to the “new normal”, staying at home for longer periods, contributed to the greater demand for small renovations, computer products, household appliances, cleaning articles and so on.
—Travel and tourism is experiencing a slow and gradual recovery, starting with short leisure trips through Brazil (preferably by car), visits to relatives and weekend getaways. These follow the recovery trends seen around the world.
—Brazilian national airlines are operating about 30 percent of their pre-pandemic network and should operate 60 percent to 70 percent until the end of the year.
—Three major American carriers (American, Delta and United) already operate between Brazil and the United States, still with much less capacity compared to the period before the crisis.
—In hotels, the majority of the resorts have reopened (a few have left the reopening for September) and almost 80 percent of the chain hotels are open. Budget hotels have had better results in the resumption, which, in this case, should be faster.
—Eager-to-travel, Brazilians prefer the Northeast region and national destinations for the end of the year, but keeping an eye for promotions, especially to Florida, the Caribbean and Europe. Information about Brazilians’ resumption and intention to travel can be found in the three surveys launched by TRVL LAB during the pandemic. (www.trvl.com.br). TRVL LAB is a market intelligence laboratory, a partnership between PANROTAS and MAPIE. (The PANROTAS Forum, which was scheduled for last week, was postponed to March 16 and 17 2021.)
While Working toward Recovery, the People of Rio Are Less Inclined to Travel: Earlier this year, the results of a survey by Unigranrio (University of Grande Rio, located in Duque de Caxias, which is part of the Rio de Janeiro metropolitan area) showed that the global pandemic was certainly having an impact on the travel intentions of Rio’s residents.(The main objectives were to identify the change in perception and behavior and the results of the survey were assessed on an average of a scale from 0 to 10.)
—Among the 1,296 residents interviewed, a decline in the propensity to travel both domestically (-28 percent) was identified and internationally (-36 percent).
—Health and sanitary conditions were also aspects that underwent major changes. Before, travelers scarcely researched the health conditions of the destination (average 4.7), but with the pandemic, there was a 79 percent increase in this type of action.
—The crowding of people in a tourist attraction was also not a concern (average 4.9), but soon increased by 81 percent. Concern for their own health increased by 20 percent.
—On consumer behavior, the pandemic appears to have increased the time travelers are connected. Before the pandemic, respondents already considered themselves connected (average 7.7) and informed (average 7.6), but both aspects increased: the first by 11 percent and the second by 8 percent. Responsibility to the environment has also increased by percent with the pandemic.
Other data points from the research included the following question-and-response sets.
—How will the covid-19 monitoring information affect your travel decision? Average of 8.99.
—How important do you think the tourist activity is for your well-being? Average of 8.78.
—How important do you think tourism is to the economic development of the city where you live? Average of 9.34.
—How much do you think you know the tourist attractions of the city where you live? Average of 7.76.
ReConnecting with Domestic Operators
Several hundred viewers stopped by to sit in on Connect Travel’s “Staying Connected” recent virtual roundtable discussion— Connect & ReConnect with Domestic Tour Operators—which took place not long after publication of the last issue of the INBOUND Report. The event was the second in the Staying Connected series to feature domestic tour operators following the popularity of, and interest in, the first treatment of the subject.
Virtual attendees were treated to a wire-to-wire panel dialogue of U.S. domestic tour operators that that included Mellonee Owenby, president, Christian Tours/Burke International Tours; Nick Hentschel, COO, AmericanTours International (ATI is also known, of course, as one of the major international receptive tour operators); and Joey Spellerberg, president, Moostash Joe Tours.
Moderating the program was Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel, and general manager, Connect Travel Events.
Connect & ReConnect With Domestic Tour Operators
1. Bookings Outlook: Panelists have seen the 2020 Summer season spill into September and October. While a few trips are running through the remainder of the year the majority of requests and bookings are for 2021. Next year is already strong; however, this seems to be attributed to 2020 re-bookings. The bright spot, based on past years sales, our panelists have seen the majority of their bookings occur in January and February. They feel that domestic travel will remain strong through 2021.
—Look to Q2 2021 for domestic travel to pick up.
—Most re-bookings are for June/July or later for 2021.
—Only 5-10 percent of school groups have rebooked into Spring 2021.
—Some motorcoach operators focused on student travel are pivoting to sports teams/groups or private schools.
2. Product Trends: New destinations, new itineraries, and new products are always needed. Unique products and outdoor experiences are of interest. (i.e., Camping and Glamping, Hiking and Biking, Cultural and Heritage Sites, Beaches and Wide Open Spaces) Please note: tour operators are resource challenged. They ask you to keep things streamlined, easy to load with not many rate changes. Preferably, operators like adding new products to current tours even if it means adding a day for future programming. Do your research, look for itineraries planned in, near or around your region. Curate itineraries with unique experiences to share.
3. Marketing: Be mindful that it may take a year for your destination, attraction or hotel to be added and sold by an operator. Create messaging that highlights your products, special offerings, and why travelers are visiting. Have a hook that will help them sell your product.
4. Connect: Communication is key for tour operators. Please keep them informed on updates, changes and policies new to your area or business. If your destination or product has temporary policies in place, be sure to let your clients know before they arrive so they may prepare.
Joey Spellerberg: “I’m pretty optimistic about the future. It’s been tough on our staff. I’ve had to make some changes with our staff and we’re just kind of coasting here a couple days a week in the office until this breaks. But we need to be ready for the future. And it could really hit us all at once if we’re not careful. So, that’s really what we’re doing right now.”
Mellonee Owenbee: “We own and operate 59 motor coaches, which have been sitting since
March. We do student tours and those have all cancelled. We have not closed our office since
this all began. We have furloughed people, and some people are laid off. Some people work eight hours a week. Some people work 16. Some people work 32 and some people are here.”
Nick Hentschel: “I believe that as soon as the restrictions are lifted, there will be a swift rebound—not to say that things won’t still be difficult and they won’t bounce back immediately to 2019 numbers, but there will be a rebound. There is a lot of pent-up demand on the international side, but first things first. We’re focusing on the rebound and demand for the domestic, which we really feel because the same situation that happened after 9/11 because domestic travelers aren’t able to go abroad, and they’re not able to easily travel on cruises right now. They need to pivot to the types of trips that we’re all seeing our friends and colleagues do this summer–which are those road trips to the national parks and to the wide-open spaces of America.”
Mellonee Owenbee: “Of course we had to cancel, but what we did before we cancelled is set up the
dates for next year. We let them (customers) know that, here are the prices for next year—if you transfer your money, we’ll give you the difference. You can save fifty dollars by transferring your money to next year without us refunding. So, we’ve done a lot of that. Also, anything we can do that we can keep their money (chuckles) and probably about probably about 20 percent have said ‘Here, keep my money for something else.’”
Nick Hentschel: “2021 is strong in the sense that we have a base of rebooked customers that had to cancel their trips from 2020 on the international side. And then the excitement that we’re seeing on the domestic side—from what we’ve presented into the market—we feel will continue uh into 2021.”
Joey Spellerberg: “It’s been a roller coaster. We tried to get out ahead of it with some things. I think a lot of our customers were a little leery. And so, we’re just focusing on 2021. We’re hoping that we can run some Christmas tours in in November and December—some shorter regional stuff that we had already planned, and now we’re starting to see some activity. I would say the last couple of weeks we’ve had more inquiries in bookings than we’ve had for the last month or so.”
German Trade Looks Toward 2021
With the 2020 calendar year about two thirds along on its journey to 2021, the recent fvw Kongress, sponsored by the German travel trade publication fvw, seemed to be a logical point at which the travel and tourism industry in the country—it has long been among the top five overseas international source markets for the U.S.—could assess its condition.
Midst all the presentations and discussion during the virtual gathering, one got the sense that domestic tourism within Germany was the only hope for tour operators and travel agents for salvaging any type of meaningful business for the year. Intra-European travel by Germans has been hampered by episodic bans on travel, especially among some traditional summer holiday travel destinations. And long-haul, overseas travel has been non-existent, as travel bans and airline capacity have made this travel sector essentially inactive.
As a result, one impression left by the Kongress was that the rest of 2020 offered limited opportunities for a clean-up operation. The focus instead, was on product and turnover in 2021.
Measuring the Collapse: So far-reaching has been the coronavirus-driven global pandemic and its impact on the world’s tourism industry is that, in Germany, even some traditional sources for information have not been able to publish or produce reliable numbers on the performance of the industry.
What data that do exist have not been encouraging. In the latest monthly edition of the ta.ts travel agency mirror (it is prepared by the Frankfurt-based Travel Agency Technologies & Services) tells us that the total invoiced turnover of the travel agencies recorded in the “Agency Mirror” for August 2020 was minus 83.8 percent, compared to the same month last year. Other data points from the report include the following:
—The billed tourism turnover shows a minus of 74.4 percent in August.
—Sales in air traffic recorded a minus of 99.6 percent.
—The “other sales” totaled minus 69.3 percent; and
—The number of tickets was minus 92.1 percent.
—The turnover from the tourism sub-division cruises in August was minus 75.7 percent.
Viewed cumulatively, the total invoiced travel agency turnover lies in the eight months from January to
—Amounted to minus 71.5 percent;
—Tourism recorded a minus 67.0 percent;
—Air traffic recorded a minus 77.9 percent;
—“Other” sales show a minus of 59.6 percent;
—The number of tickets registered a decrease of 73.8 percent; and
—The cruises segment recorded a minus of 59.2 percent.
• New Thomas Cook OTA expected at any moment. About a year to the day (Sept. 23, 2019) that it collapsed, the tour operator Thomas Cook, it has been reported, is about to be revived by its new ownership, the Chinese conglomerate Fosun, which acquired the Thomas Cook brand last November for £11 million ($14 million). The acquisition also included Cook’s hotel brands Casa Cook and Cook’s Club, in addition to rights, title and interest in certain trademarks, domain names, software applications, social media accounts and licenses. Fosun’s portfolio of tourism interests also includes Club Med. As a part of its preparation for a Thomas Cook reboot, published accounts report, Fosun has retained a team of tourism industry professionals who are ready to launch and operate the new OTA.
• Saga’s Former Owner Trying to Save Brand: Sir Roger de Haan, the former owner of Saga is returning to the over-50s travel and insurance group by investing £100 million ($128 million) to shore up the company’s finances. Sir Roger, who sold Saga for £1.35 billion ($1.73 billion) in 2004, injected the funds in return for a 20 percent stake in the company, which suffered a pre-tax loss of £55.5 million ($71 million) in the six months up to July 31 after a £60 million ($77 million) impairment charge in its travel business as COVID-19 hit its operations.
Alongside his investment, Sir Roger joins the Saga board and serves as non-executive chairman, taking over from Patrick O’Sullivan, for an expected term of three years. In a statement, the company said: “The proposed equity raise is intended to strengthen the company’s financial position against the backdrop of the Covid-19 outbreak and the ongoing suspension of travel and to better position Saga for longer-term recovery and growth.” De Haan, whose father Sidney founded Saga in 1948, took over the business in 1984 before selling it to a management buyout team funded by the private equity group Charterhouse.
• Former STA Travel branch manager launches a specialist youth travel brand. Arron Mitchell, director of travel agency Platinum World Travel, says the new company Syte (an acronym for Student & Youth Travel Escapes) will target “18-30-ish” clients. The unstated hope is that Syte will fill a void created with the closure of STA Travel, a specialist youth travel agency and tour operator with 49 retail stores. STA, which was owned by Diethelm Keller Holding, with headquarters in Zurich and London, had almost 2,000 employees working in over 200 stores worldwide. Last month, the Swiss parent company filed for insolvency.
• Michael Barkoczy, one of the most widely known executive-level professionals in Brazil’s travel and tourism industry, has launched his new travel company— Easy Travel Shop (ETS), populating it with some other well-known senior management types. Barkoczy, who served as director of international for CVC for nearly a dozen years, then as president of the tour operator FlytourMMT Travel, had been operating his own consultancy for nearly two years before launching the new company, which will focus on selling tours and activities. Barkoczy told the Brazilian trade publication PANROTAS, “Our focus is on tours, tickets, attractions, experiences … We will have day use in hotels, but not room night.”
• Hays Travel acquires Tailor Made Travel after the latter folds. The deal will cover Tailor Made’s retail estate of 20 shops and about 100 employees. A statement from Tailor Made, said “Hays Travel had been contacted and made an expression of interest. Our offer to acquire all 20 shops was agreed, as was the retention of approximately 100 employees, late Friday afternoon (September 4th).” Three weeks ago, Tailor Made Travel chief executive Simon Morgan indicated that he was planning to close 15 of the Welsh business’s 20 stores in order to save the company.
Speaking after administration and subsequent acquisition of his business, he said that the experience was “devastating, but I take consolation in the fact that this protects the future of the 100 employees.” Hays Travel, meanwhile, has continued with its expansion plans—even during the COVID-19 crisis, including the opening of its 50th shop in Scotland. Hays also plans to open a Glasgow office to support its growing tour operation.
Air Travel Grows—Much of It Is Domestic
Carriers Addressing New Demand—Domestic and International: It’s taken a while for the global airline industry to regroup and get to the point at which it has reached a level about half of what it was before the capacity and activity collapsed last March. So, as it searches for figures that might give some solace to the USA-based receptive tour operators, domestic operators, international operators and the retail trade who rely on air travel connections for to their clients and customers, the tourism industry has embraced the notion that any industry-wide recovery will begin with the domestic travel market.
And for about the last couple of months, the markers have begun to appear—specifically in the number of scheduled domestic flights (along with a limited number of international traffic, which is still depressed due to national travel bans through the world) that aim to serve traditional winter routes, as well as destinations that are not so traditional, but seem to be addressing a consumer desire to travel “the road less taken,” or second-tier and less populated destinations in the United States.
With no single source for the type of information the industry is seeking for the newly important domestic market, we have collected the following sampler of new flight information:
• Here’s where JetBlue is flying this winter: 1. Between Newark and Oranjestad, Aruba beginning November 19. 2. Between Newark and Cancun, Mexico, starting November 19. 3. Between Newark and Montego Bay, Jamaica. JetBlue will launch once-daily service between Newark and Montego Bay beginning November 19. 4. Between Newark and Nassau, Bahamas. 5. Between Newark and Providenciales, Turks and Caicos. 6. Between Newark and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. 7. Between Newark and Sint Maarten. JetBlue will launch once-daily service between Newark and Sint Maarten beginning November 19. 8. Between Los Angeles and Charleston, South Carolina, beginning December 18. 9. Between Los Angeles and Cancun, Mexico beginning November 19. 10. Between Los Angeles and Liberia, Costa Rica beginning December 18. 11. Between Los Angeles and West Palm Beach, Florida beginning November 19 as the sole carrier on the route. 12. Between Los Angeles and Raleigh, North Carolina beginning December 18.
13. Between Los Angeles and Richmond, Virginia beginning December 18 as the sole connection between the two cities. 14. Between Los Angeles and San Jose, Costa Rica beginning December 18.
15. Between Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Bozeman, Montana beginning December 18, the first between Florida and Montana. Big Sky Country (which, the carrier said, “ has seen an increase in popularity as travelers seek out social distancing-friendly vacations in the great outdoors that Montana has to offer.”) 16. Between Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Palm Springs, California beginning December 18
17. Between Tampa, Florida and Cancun, Mexico. 18. Between Tampa, Florida and Richmond, Virginia beginning the 19th of November. 19. Between Raleigh and San Juan, Puerto Rico beginning on the 19th of November. 20. Between Raleigh, North Carolina and Fort Myers, Florida on November 19. 21. Between Raleigh, North Carolina and Cancun, Mexico on November 19. 22. Between Raleigh, North Carolina and Montego Bay, Jamaica on November 19. 23. Between San Francisco and Cancun, Mexico beginning November 19. 24. Between Las Vegas and Richmond, Virginia on December 18.
• United announced on September 9 plans to expand its global route network with new nonstop service to Africa, India and Hawaii. With these new routes, United will offer more nonstop service to India and South Africa than any other U.S. carrier and remains the largest carrier between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii.
Starting this December, United will fly daily between Chicago and New Delhi and, starting in spring 2021, United will become the only airline to operate between San Francisco and Bangalore, India and between Newark/New York and Johannesburg. United will also introduce new service between Washington, D.C., and Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria in late spring of 2021. In the summer of 2021, United will fly nonstops four times weekly between Chicago and Kona and between Newark/New York and Maui. And starting this week, United, the airline offering more nonstop service to Israel than any other U.S. carrier, begins new nonstop service between Chicago and Tel Aviv, the only carrier to offer this service.
United’s newly announced international routes are subject to government approval and tickets will be available for purchase on united.com and the United app in the coming weeks.
• It was announced last month that China and the U.S. agreed to double the number of airline flights that each other’s airlines can operate between the countries—from four to eight per week. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the increase on August 18, Tuesday, pointing out that China’s aviation authority had decided to permit expanded flights by United and Delta. About two weeks after the announcement, United Airlines went from two to four flights per week between San Francisco and Shanghai via Seoul. The service started September 4. DOT said that Delta Air Lines also became eligible to increase its two weekly flights to four.
As a result of the agreement, Chinese airlines that already flew to the United States — Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines — became eligible allowed to make eight weekly round-trips instead of four, DOT said.
• Late last month, Delta announced details of how it will reinstate transatlantic services and frequencies in 2021. For starters, the carriers said that it was tentatively increasing its UK and Ireland flights. Next summer, Delta will reinstate a daily Edinburgh-JFK service and double frequency on Heathrow-JFK to twice daily.
A Heathrow-Detroit daily flight will also be reinstated as will Dublin-Boston. Heathrow-Boston, which resumed last week, moved from five a week to daily with the start of summer 2021 timetables. Flights to Delta’s main Atlanta hub will see similar increases in frequency and reinstatements from March 2021. The Heathrow flight will move from daily this winter to twice daily and the daily Dublin service will resume. Heathrow-Minneapolis will also resume on a daily basis. Delta cautioned that restart dates “may vary” for previously suspended routes “due to travel restrictions and other operational requirements.”
• Virgin Atlantic began resuming flights from Heathrow to Delhi, Tel Aviv, Atlanta, Mumbai and Lagos throughout September. The carrier said that additional routes will be added throughout 2020 followed by a “further, gradual recovery through 2021 in line with customer demand.”
Juha Jarvinen, Virgin Atlantic’s chief commercial officer, said: “We’re continually reviewing our network and as countries begin to open up their borders, we’re introducing more and more flying.” He added, “We’re incredibly excited to resume services to Delhi, Tel Aviv, Atlanta, Mumbai and Lagos this September as well as increasing the frequency to other destinations … We’re now offering daily flights to New York JFK and Los Angeles and twice-weekly flights to Shanghai.” All the flights were to have begun by today (September 16).
• United Airlines announced less than two weeks ago that it plans to add new routes and restore dozens more routes to its October schedule. The new and returning routes mean the Chicago-based airline will be flying 46 percent of last October’s domestic schedule, an 8 percent increase over September.
The airline said it plans to add the new domestic flights on days close to the weekend in an attempt to appeal to leisure travelers looking to “get a head start on long weekend getaways.” United said that it is also adding some international routes to destinations where Americans are allowed to fly in Mexico, Central America and South America. It will fly 33 percent of its October 2019 international schedule, a 4 percent increase over September.
The new international routes include Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru and Panama City, Panama. The airline will also restore or increase service to Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City. Across the Atlantic, it will restore service to Tel Aviv, Israel, from New York and Washington, D.C.
As USA Today noted in its article on the flight announcements, “Adding leisure travel routes is somewhat unusual for October, but then again, 2020 has been anything but usual, and the coronavirus pandemic has forced the industry to take advantage of any bright spot in an otherwise bleak landscape. And with business travel–its most profitable sector–next to nonexistent, leisure travel is that bright spot.”
• Some of this might be duplicative, but here’s how one gateway destination—Miami—is experiencing a recovery in airline lift capacity: According its weekly newsletter, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau reports: “Three more airlines have resumed passenger flights at Miami International within the last three weeks, bringing the airport’s total number of passenger carriers to 19. MIA’s resurgence of air service continued with Virgin Atlantic resuming London service three times a week, Aerolineas Argentinas returning with Buenos Aires service three times a week and Copa Airlines with two weekly flights from Panama City. The airline re-launches come just weeks after another trio of carriers resumed service at MIA in early August; Volaris serving Guadalajara with two weekly flights, Air Europa with weekly service from Madrid and SWISS with two weekly flights from Zurich. Thirteen other airlines either never stopped flying or resumed scheduled service at MIA previously: American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, LATAM Airlines, United Airlines, Aeromexico, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Eastern Airlines, Iberia, Lufthansa, TAP Air Portugal and Turkish Airlines.”
Four Events, Three Days, One Place
We want you to know unequivocally that your health and wellness are of the utmost importance to our team.
We are 100% going forward with eTourism Summit, RTO Summit South, THRIVE Summit and TOUR. Our event plan was recently approved by Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal OrlandoTM and the schedule has been created to comply with all Florida regulations.
The hotel is ready. We’re ready. The industry is ready.
Here is a high-level overview of the more-detailed Safe + Clean Connect plan:
- Temperature check points will be frequent.
- Masks will be required and provided.
- Meals will be boxed.
- Hand sanitizers and alcohol wipes will be distributed and widely available.
- Trade show aisles will be noticeably wider.
- Many vendors will be onsite demonstrating cutting-edge and practical event elements to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
- We will be utilizing indoor/outdoor venues throughout the programming.
We know there is no way to 100% protect everyone from COVID-19. Although we cannot remove all risk, we are doing everything in our power to mitigate it to minimal levels. Several large events have commenced in the last few weeks and we have reported on them to show you that this can be done and we can meet safely again. Please read that article here. It’s time to get our industry, which has been hit so hard, back on track again.
For questions, email Becca Smith at [email protected].
HODGE PODGE: Appointments and Changes
Simon Matthews has joined Hotelbeds as global director for technology & product management in a newly combined role leading both the technology and the product management areas of Hotelbeds. Matthews will also become a member of the company’s executive committee. He joins Hotelbeds from his role as chief technology officer GVC Holdings, a business that develops end-to-end technology stacks for sports betting brands. His career spans more than two decades and includes the roles of head of software engineering for Sky and CTO for Cerillion Technologies, a company specializing in enterprise on-premise, mobile, and SaaS software for multiple sectors including telecommunications, media, energy, and financial services.
Deb Travis Archer has retired from her post as president and CEO of Destination Madison after serving the destination of Wisconsin’s capital city for nearly 27 years. Before she began her lengthy tenure in Madison, Archer served as associate director of sales of the Greater Kansas City CVB (predecessor of Visit KC) and as executive director of the Park City Chamber of Commerce/CVB.
Matt Herbert has been named sales and yield director for the JG Travel Group—the company that recently acquired the National Holidays brand after the failure of its parent company, Specialist Leisure Group. Herbert worked for Shearings, which was also under the Specialist Leisure Group umbrella, for 13 years. He was the main product and commercial lead in the business. At JG Travel Group, he will be responsible for managing and directing all areas of the sales, insight and reporting aspects of the business.
Alan Puana has joined RocketRez, a tech company offering ticketing and related solutions in the tours & attraction segment of the tourism industry, as vice president, global growth. Previously associated with brands such as Universal Parks & Resorts, Expedia, and Groupon, Alan will be leading expansion and customer acquisition into new markets. Puana comes to the company from Universal Parks & Resorts in California, where he was director of sales. Prior to that, he was senior director, market management, West, for Expedia. He was also a vice president-AAA/CAA product & sales, regional contracting, for AmericanTours International.
Lisa Diekmann recently became the new president & CEO of Yellowstone Forever, the principle nonprofit partner of Yellowstone National Park. She was the first executive director of the former Yellowstone Park Foundation, one of the predecessor organizations to Yellowstone Forever. During her career, she has also served as regional development director at the The Wilderness Society and as director of development at the Bridger Ski Foundation.
Nicola Harper, formerly Beds With Ease head of sales, has joined luxury homeworking company Travel Directors as head of operations and strategy. The newly-created role will complete the Aquilium Travel Group’s senior management team. Harper will be tasked with supporting the group’s homeworkers, growing the existing administration and operations teams and looking at future projects. Harper worked at Beds With Ease for nearly two years until this July, when the company downsized as a result of the global pandemic. Prior to that she was trade partnerships manager at Thomas Cook and national account manager at Attraction World. She worked as a travel agent for TUI early on in her career.
Michael Kalt has left the management team at the German tour operator Alltours, which he had joined in December 2017. Alltours owner Willi Verhuven made the decision to downsize the company’s management personnel as it works to survived the impact of the coronavirus-driven global pandemic. Alltours is now only headed by sales manager Georg Welbers and Verhuven himself.
Posted Industry Jobs
From SearchWide Global:
—The Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce is looking for a president and CEO. For more information, visit here.
—The Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau is looking for a new president & CEO. Click here for more information.
—The City of Omaha has an opening for the position of director, parks, recreation and public property. Visit here for additional details.
—The city of Fort Smith Arkansas is searching for an executive director of its Advertising and Promotion Commission. Click here for more information.
—The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau is searching for a new president and CEO. For details, visit here.
—The Virginia Tourism Corporation (it is the state’s DMO) has an opening for a director of research and market intelligence. Click here for more information.
—The Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority is looking for a new chief executive officer. Click here for more information.
—In the Charlotte/Concord area of North Carolina, Great Wolf Resorts as an opening for a director of sales and catering. For details, click here.
—Explore Ashville Convention and Visitors Bureau is searching for a president and CEO. Click here for more details.
—In Florida, the Naples•Marco Island•Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau is looking for a deputy director. For more information, visit here.
—The Park City Chamber of Commerce/Convention & Visitors Bureau is looking for a new president. Click here for more information.
—Visit Santa Clara is searching for a president and CEO. Click here for more information.
—Destination Ann Arbor is looking to hire a vice president of sales. For more information, visit here.
—The Spartanburg (S.C.) Convention & Visitors Bureau is seeking a chief tourism development officer. Visit here for more information.
—The Saugatuck Douglas Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is searching for a new executive director. Click here for more information.