Saluting USA’s Number 1 Market—the UK
(Ed. Note: the following article was completed just prior to reports that a new strain of the COVID-19 virus had struck the UK)
The United Kingdom, the top overseas source market for the U.S., seems headed for a spike in bookings early in 2021. Even as the pandemic seems to punish the British disproportionately, they have held on to their holiday hopes. (By mid-December, COVID-19 HAD caused more than 65,000 deaths and had infected 1.9 million people in the UK.)
What a difference a week makes. As the tourism industry in the United Kingdom was set to be the subject of grim forecasts—the British travel trade media is awash with outlooks and prognostications this time of the year—there came December 8th and, almost overnight, hope and confidence were the themes threading themselves throughout the news.
December 8, you see, was the day and University Hospital in Coventry, England was the place when Nurse May Parsons administered a just-approved COVID-19 vaccine into the upper left arm of almost 91-year-old Margaret Keenan. Keenan happily called the early morning procedure (it took place at 6:31 GMT) the “best early birthday present.”
Ms. Keenan’s cheerful assessment of the situation, taking place in the midst of another lockdown brought on by the coronavirus-driven global pandemic, reminded INBOUND of something special about the British character and how it deals with adversity.
Ms. Keenan was a child of 10 and old enough to remember what began on September 7, 1940. That’s when the German Luftwaffe launched a bombing campaign on London that proceeded for 56 out of the following 57 days and nights.
Coventry, Margaret Keenan’s home town, also suffered severe bomb damage during the Second World War. In addition to those day/night bombing runs targeting London, the Luftwaffe, there was an action called Operation Moonlight Sonata that was part of the “Coventry Blitz” on November 14, 1940 and carried on to the morning of November 15, 1940, destroying the historic Coventry Cathedral (built 1095-1102), which would have turned 900 years old in 2102.
It’s more than likely that Ms. Keenen experienced the event, and its memory has been part of who she was and is for the next 80-plus years. And the thing this tells us about the Brits who survived and whose children learned about the London and Coventry bombings is that … they are not to be trifled with. Whether it’s a thunderstorm of bombs, a pandemic or no pandemic, they will survive, persist and carry on. (And they’ll take their holidays, too.)
All of the above, then, reinforces what those in the U.S. inbound tourism have already known for some time, and we salute them for it: Brits want to take their holidays. And some of the survey information we have received this month, and which follows, affirms this want and desire.
Surge in Booking Activity follows announcement of effective COVID-19 vaccines. Within days of the announcement that a vaccine to combat the coronavirus was made and would be distributed in the UK, the British travel trade and business press began referring to a bookings “bounce”—one that continued since. The trade reported two identifiable spikes in demand, for December, and for 2021 and 2022.
According to the UK edition of Travel Weekly (TW), British travel agents reported further week-on-week sales growth due to the vaccine news. Some other TW notes:
—Sales for Barrhead Travel, one of the UK’s largest travel agents, were up 30-40 percent, week on week. One Barrhead official commented, “The vaccine has definitely brought hope to prospective holidaymakers. We hope that as details of the vaccine rollout become clearer, the pent-up demand for travel will follow.”
—Advantage Travel Partnership reported demand for “bucket list” trips in 2021 and 2022 as well as for imminent travel. Sales have continued to rise since an initial 62 percent increase in week-on-week sales in the week after the vaccine announcement. In total, 84 percent of bookings were for 2021.
—Jonathon Woodall, chief operating officer for Hays Travel, noted that “Customers have been waiting for the chance to book a much-needed holiday at the end of what has been a very difficult year for us all.”
—Individual agencies in Tier 3* areas told TW that the market was tough because of tighter restrictions and difficulties getting COVID-19 tests, but bookings were coming through.
—On the other hand, Jill Waite, director of Pole Travel in Failsworth, said that the agency had received “a couple of bookings … but you can’t go anywhere without a test. People are nervous about booking.”
—Said Oliver Broad, joint managing director of RB Collection: “We are feeling more positive this week. We’ve had our best booking day for a long time. In Tier 3 there is no legal basis to stop you going on holiday but it’s a sensitive subject. We have to be delicate with our marketing.”
*The British government has categorized every area in the country according to a three level: Tier 1 communities are on Medium Alert; Tier 2 communities are on High Alert; and Tier 3 communities are on Very High Alert. For a complete list of government restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, visit:
Are we at the “Beginning of the End of Pandemic Restrictions?” Meanwhile, a recent study of winter bookings by firm Adara, a research and marketing firm headquartered in Palo Alto, California and with offices in London, Chicago, New York, Paris, Singapore and Japan. tells us that the UK leads European consumers in willingness to travel internationally. Other info-bytes from their study:
—Travelers across Europe are either booking at the very last minute or far in advance as, overall, COVID-19 continues to create uncertainty.
—Bookings spiked after announcements noting the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.
—There was a one-day booking surge of nearly 20 percent in the UK after the Pfizer pharmaceutical company’s announcement of its 95-percent effective COVID-19 vaccine.
—There was another 10 percent bump related to Moderna’s vaccine announcement and 28 percent after an announcement by AstraZeneca about its vaccine. AstraZeneca’s announcement also led to a 154 percent week-on-week increase in searches for international holidays,
—Britons make up more than one-fifth (23 percent) of all international bookings from the EMEA region, while France was in second at 12 percent. Germany and Portugal were tied for third at 8 percent; Spain was at 6 percent and Italy 5 percent.
—The UK is also booking “vastly more” overseas holidays than domestic with 81 percent of holiday breaks by UK travelers international (most within Europe) and just 19 percent for in-country.
—Even so, uncertainty over the COVID-19 crisis is still having a “huge impact” on booking behaviors, the Adara study noted, adding, “Customers are either booking and departing almost immediately or are looking at dates in the future when they perhaps believe there will be normality around trave.”.
—The report also pointed out that travel windows for booking travel remain much shorter than in previous years with the 0-14-day window taking 30 percent share of the bookings for winter.
—At the same, time bookings over 90 days in advance are also accounting for 30 percent of bookings as people are hoping that vaccines or effective lockdowns mean they can plan for months out.
“Pre-COVID, said the report, the-last minute booking window accounted for just 18 percent of bookings, adding, “as we approach Christmas and rules are relaxed for the festive period, we can expect to see a last-minute spike in booking activity as people travel home.”
Adara chief marketing officer Carlyn Corda noted, “However, the appetite for booking holidays is still there. We know that the desire to explore is a fundamental human drive, and that travel is set for a big bounce-back as vaccines roll out and people feel more comfortable.”
“We are at the beginning of the end of the pandemic restrictions,” she predicted, “but while we wait for the impact of global vaccine programs, travel-loving Brits will find ways to scratch their holiday itch–if they can do so safely and securely.”
But Stay off the Plane if You Haven’t Been Jabbed: A new poll whose results were released as the first UK patients were inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine suggests that Britons are happy for air travel to be limited to those who have been vaccinated against the virus.
More than half (about 54 percent) of the 1,700 who took part in a Sky News/YouGov survey agreed it would be acceptable for those who haven’t had the vaccine to be banned from flights. However, it will take several months for the whole of the UK population to be vaccinated and, according to Sky News, almost 30 percent of Brits are still unsure whether they want the vaccine.
Those who do receive the COVID inoculations will receive a card showing the date they were inoculated, but the government insists this is not intended to be used as an “immunity passport.” Even so, an independent booking and healthcare management app, myGP, is planning to add a COVID-19 vaccination status to user profiles.
The new ‘myGP TICKet’ function, due to be launched next February, will show whether the user has received the Covid-19 vaccination with a green tick. The company says this could be used to allow them entry to venues, which would no longer need to put social distancing measures in place.
“Staying Connected” Closes out Year
Webinars will resume in early January: Last Thursday marked the occasion of the final weekly edition of Connect Travel’s “Staying Connected” webinar series. This one dealt with the Year in Review, during which viewers and listeners saw or listened to a panel of 10 travel and tourism interact with some 200 people connected for a busy hour of discussion with panel members who participated at different times during the webinar. The panel was comprised of:
Tomás Rey, president, owner, Rey Royal;
Keith Snode, chief operating officer, Kaleidoscope Adventures;
Casey Kluver, global tourism sales manager, Meet Minneapolis;
Eric Masterton, director of tourism, Visit Baltimore;
Michelle Pino, owner, Northeast Unlimited Tours;
Steve Maehl, vice president, field operations, Global Travel Alliance;
Lisa Catron, global travel & trade director, Memphis Tourism;
Alfredo Gonzalez, founder, AG Hospitality Group;
Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel, and general manager, Connect Travel Events; and
Betsy Cooper, director of TourOperatorLand.com andpartner engagement, Connect Travel
Top Takeaways: Unlike previous discussions on the “Staying Connected” webinars, this one was highly interactive, with questions and responses between panelists and/or between those asking questions during the discussions. In fact, there were more than two dozen queries or comments during the one-hour roundtable. Following is a sampler of what panelists and participants had to say.
• Even if a supplier has a good idea of what the answer to a question is, it’s always good to hear from an operator and get their perspective on it, and drill down a little bit more.
• The difference between a static and a dynamic rate? Static rates can change from day-to-day, actually even hour-to-hourly. based on the occupancy level in the hotel. A static rate is a set rate that you give a tour operator or a receptive operator throughout the year That doesn’t mean that it’s a set rate; it can be a set rate versus weekday and weekend during a special event so you’re not tied to it.
• Most tour operators, especially in Europe and many in Canada do not work with a dynamic rate because they want to know what they can build their package around.
They need to know the price structure.
• In terms of pro and con, the only con is if you don’t offer a static rate is that you’re not going to
get that business from the tour operators—primarily in Europe because they want to know what their prices are from the beginning.
• Some hotels don’t understand the FIT contract business they rather have groups, but what they have to realize is when they sign an FIT contract, receptives are sending individuals and couples (FIT stands for “FIT stands for ‘free independent traveler’”) that means anything that that’s not part of the group.
Some hotels don’t even understand the FIT contract business. They would rather have groups. So, when receptives are sending business throughout the year and when you add up all those bookings for the year, it’s like practically multiple groups.
• If a certain receptive has an FIT contract with the hotel, it is going to send its group business to that hotel, too, because it wants higher volume with that, and it wants to show loyalty—it’s not going to shop around for a group price for other hotels that are not working with it on the FIT market.
• International travelers typically stay longer in the major destination. When you’re
dealing with a receptive operator, it is booking a complete package. They’re booking an itinerary so they’re most likely going to stay multiple nights in larger cities than someone who’s booking direct with your hotel.
Q: With the ABA Marketplace to take place in June 18-22, 2021(in Baltimore) what things does a receptive look for from the city the hotels convention center.
A: Pre and post fams because it is “super super important,” really, to invite the operators prior to and after the event to see all of the different regions and for the receptive to increase their knowledge of fames Baltimore and Maryland.
• It’s so important to connect with all of our tourism peers to really work together. I’m super happy that we’re all able to do these Zooms. Technology is amazing these days, but I think the it’s so important
for people to be together and have that that face time with each other.
• One supplier told participants that he has taken on a new role, while tourism is kind of in a lull, as the new medical concierge for his city, and that his job is to talk to meeting planners, and receptive tour operators and let them know what they’re doing, what the hotels and the airport and the trains what they’re doing to make it safer to meet;
• You can only do such much with Zooming and virtual and phone. We’ve all been able to accomplish a great deal. But it doesn’t touch upon that that human interaction and, perhaps, we can’t be hugging and everything like we’re accustomed to doing. It’s still being able to be face to face and recognizing the importance of the in-person shows.
• As the vaccine rolls out, I don’t think that’s our silver bullet solution. But I do see more talk from our teachers about getting something planned. So, I do believe that as we move
into the beginning of 2021, we are going to start to see teachers and educators plan their trips whether they’re for fall of 2021, or whether they’re for summer 2021 or even into planning ahead for the spring of 2022. I do believe it’s going to start happening .. I see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
• Some clients are moving to next fall and some are even asking about moving a year out because we’ve been moving trips about four months at a time. Some of these are trips that were in the spring that were moved to the summer that were moved to the fall. They just keep getting bumped, so some people they’re getting exhausted from the postponements.
• Fedex and UPS, which have the contracts for Pfizer don’t have enough belly space to transport everything. So, we’re going to have to use commercial aircraft their belly to transport some
of the vaccines, especially to rural areas. So, overnight because of the need to transport vaccine in commercial aircraft we’re going to have a little over five million additional seats in the market now that are going to be staged or staggered throughout the next 90 days. I think it’s a giant opportunity, because the airlines weren’t expecting to get these airplanes off the desert, dust them off and put them back in service but it will happen now … that need for those vaccines to be transported is going to create an opportunity for passenger service as well.
• I think we are going to have one hell of a summer. People are tired. Whether you call it Zoom fatigue whether it is stay-home-fatigue. whether you have a jogging pants fatigue— whatever those factors be—especially in our business, those factors are going to
push us and everyone else back in the air and back and into travel. It won’t be 2019
numbers, but they’ll be very favorable numbers compared to what we’re seeing right now.
Meet the Sponsor—TourOperatorLand: A major reason for the interest in, and success of, Connect Travel’s “Staying Connected” webinar series has been its sponsor, www.TourOperatorLand.com, and Betsy Cooper, director of TourOperatorLand.com andpartner engagement, Connect Travel. Shari Bailey told participants that it has been Cooper who has been responsible for the back-end work in contacting and following up with the panelists who have taken part in the more than three dozen virtual roundtable discussions that have reached thousands of U.S. travel suppliers, DMO marketing professionals and tour operators—both international and receptive.
Cooper briefly explained that TourOperatorLand, which has operated under her tutelage since it was created more than five years ago, is:
—B2B site that brings together destination partners and operators;
—Is contact and content-driven;
—Has over 4,800 operators from around the world who use it;
—Provides destination partners with tracking notifications whenever an operator visitor opens a partner’s portal;
—Maintains suggested itineraries for operators;
—Allows operators to customize itineraries;
—Showcases the photos and contact information of destination partners;
—Has a “Find a Receptive” feature; and
—Very popular with operators, has royalty-free photos provided by destinations that operators can use for their brochures or websites.
For more information, contact [email protected]land.com.
The next “Staying Connect” virtual roundtable is scheduled for Thursday, January 7, 2021. Details TBA.
ITB Berlin, IPK Say Germans Are Upbeat
Even before vaccine became a reality, Germans expressed satisfaction in upcoming summer season—in spite of COVID-19—registering an increase in travel attention abroad for the next 12 months.
For the second time this year, and before the COVID-19 vaccine became reality on Dec. 8, ITB Berlin and the international consultancy IPK International, which specialize in tourism analysis and research, conducted a special survey on international travel behavior in the era of COVID-19. The study’s evaluation of the German market revealed some intriguing developments. Highlights of the report’s findings follow.
• In this year’s summer months—although the numbers were woefully week—Germans traveled abroad more than the average.
—Both travel destinations and tourism products and experiences improved their safety image in the last four months.
—Around one third of German outbound travelers went on a trip abroad during the summer months June to August despite COVID-19. This pegs Germans at well above the European average. With 22 percent vs. a global average of 19 percent.
—Some 60 percent of Germans traveled to a neighboring country. For 63 percent the automobile was by far the most popular mode of transport, followed by air with 25 percent and rail with 12 percent.
• There was high satisfaction with international travel. Asked about their experience of traveling abroad in the time of COVID-19, two-thirds (66 percent) of Germans said it was “better than expected.” Another 27 percent considered their trip “as expected” and only seven percent were less satisfied with their trip under conditions that sometimes included lock-downs and a limited number of countries where Germans could travel.
• Positive travel experiences despite COVID-19 were not only enjoyed by Germans, but also by European outbound travelers in general. However, travel satisfaction was somewhat lower among Asians and Americans.
• Traveling cheaper during the global pandemic is not an option. In recent months, it is well-known that the pandemic has led to certain changes in travel behavior among German outbound travelers, whether in terms of choice of transportation, accommodation or type of holiday. Interestingly, however, for the great majority, traveling less expensively during the time of COVID-19 in is not an option.
• Increasing travel intentions for the next 12 months. The intention of Germans to travel abroad in the next 12 months has again increased by six percent compared to the ITB/IPK survey conducted in June this year and is again above the European and global average. In particular, those who said in June that traveling abroad would not be an option, are successively returning to the circle of people willing to travel.
• Tendency towards destinations within Europe continues. Just as the June survey concluded, Germans preferred travel destinations within Europe during the pandemic. Spain has been the most popular destination for Germans, followed by Italy and Austria.
• Destinations within Europe have been able to either maintain or even expand their potential in the last four months. In contrast, interest in destinations outside Europe is still well below average and has barely recovered in recent months. One reason for this are the restrictions such as entry and exit regulations for countries.
• Safety image for destinations and tourist offers has improved. As it did in June, IPK International asked about the COVID-19 infection risk with regard to travel destinations and tourism offerings. From a German traveler’s view, the risk has improved compared to the beginning of June due to the various measures that travel suppliers have taken. The majority of the destinations were able to achieve better values in terms of their safety image and the COVID-19 risk in relation to the offer such as transport, accommodation, types of holiday or activities is also rated slightly better than four months ago. The improved safety image combined with positive travel experiences in recent months is also leading to an increased intention to travel in the upcoming months.
• Attitude towards air travel slightly more positive. Germans are showing a somewhat positive trend with regard to air travel. A reserved attitude towards air travel has decreased slightly compared to the June survey. Even so, the majority is still uncertain how risky air travel is. In general, the fear of flying under COVID-19 conditions is lower among Europeans than among Americans and especially among Asians.
• High security standards are key requirements. High security standards resulting in an increase of personal safety are still of central importance for travelers. According to the latest survey results, measures to reduce the risk of infection have not lost any of their importance compared to four months ago. Besides maintaining minimum distances, wearing mouth and nose protection and complying with general hygiene regulations, Germans also value mandatory COVID-19 tests upon returning from a risk area.
• Looking ahead to the next 12 months. The general willingness to travel abroad in the next 12 months is particularly high among Europeans and especially among Germans. High safety standards concerning the offer and a positive safety image regarding the destinations influence the travel decision. The rising interest to travel abroad, however, is still faced by travel restrictions. With the availability of a vaccine, a successively lifting of the restrictions is to be expected. According to the latest survey results, travel would then start to increase rapidly and on a widespread base.
To secure a copy of the complete results of the 18-country IPK study, visit the IPK website. Price of the study starts at 3,400 euros ($4,100+)
U.S. Travel Announces Cooperation with Connect Travel for IPW 2021
The U.S. Travel Association has announced that it will coordinate with the trade show company Connect Travel to co-locate several events around IPW 2021 (September 18-22 in Las Vegas) in order to maximize value to attendees and provide travel marketers with cutting-edge tools and intelligence to promote their destinations and products in a post-COVID environment.
As travel businesses evolve their promotion strategies to emerge from the global pandemic, the adjusted IPW format for 2021 will enable exhibitors to grow domestic visitation in addition to regaining their share of rebounding inbound travel—all from one booth.
While IPW will continue to focus on its core global audience (international leisure and MICE buyers, receptive/inbound operators, OTAs and global e-commerce, and media), Connect Travel will bring its robust and targeted domestic event, Connect Tour, to the show floor at IPW. Exhibitors will have the option to purchase an appointment book allowing meetings with domestic operators, bus companies, domestic consortia and more, in addition to appointments with international buyers.
“IPW has always placed a heavy emphasis on evolving along with the needs of our delegates, and 2021 will be perhaps the most important year in our history to help jump-start the critical rebuild of the U.S. travel economy,” said IPW General Manager Malcolm Smith. “This collaboration is reflective of our strong desire to maximize the value of IPW for our exhibitors in the current unique marketing landscape.”
For travel and destination marketers, Connect Travel will also locate its Connect THRIVE LGBTQ Summit, September 18-19, and eTourism Summit, September 20-22, at a property adjacent to IPW’s main location at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
eTourism Summit, an intimate, annual conference, is the epicenter of digital destination marketing. Peer-to-peer sharing is integral to the aims, benefits, and actionable takeaways for those who attend the summit. In 2021, IPW and eTourism Summit will combine their marketing and technology sponsors at the Las Vegas Convention Center, creating the Global Marketing and Technology Pavilion. Delegates of both IPW and eTourism Summit will have access to trailblazing technology, strategy, and marketing companies to accelerate the travel industry’s recovery and growth.
Connect THRIVE LGBTQ Summit is focused on community development through LGBTQ travel, sports, and entertainment, making it a critically important event for diversity marketers. As an added value, THRIVE delegates will be invited to visit IPW/eTourism Summit’s Global Marketing and Technology Pavilion, and LGBTQ travel packagers and media will be invited to participate in business appointments on the IPW/Connect Tour show floor following the Summit.
“By co-locating our Connect Travel events alongside the most important travel event in the United States, we are creating exciting synergies for our partners to efficiently make connections across multiple industry sectors,” said Connect Travel President Will Seccombe. “Las Vegas will be the epicenter of the U.S. travel industry in September 2021, and together these events will be the catalyst for travel recovery in 2021 and beyond.”
Finally, IPW will undergo evolutionary updates to meet the post-pandemic needs of delegates. Most notably, U.S. Travel Association and premier sponsor Brand USA will bring forward-looking education to IPW, catering to specific verticals within the travel industry. While keeping appointments as the core of the show, IPW will add nearly eight hours of networking and education during the three days the show floor is open. Delegates will be able to tailor the added time to their specific efforts to increase visitors to their destinations and products.
Details and pricing for this must-attend collection of travel events of 2021 will be available in January.
U.S. Travel Association is the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.6 trillion in economic output and supports 15.8 million jobs (pre-pandemic). U.S. Travel’s mission is to increase travel to and within the United States. Visit ustravel.org.
THREE UNIQUE CONNECT TRAVEL SHOWS THAT ARE CO-LOCATING IN VEGAS WITH IPW 2021
This co-location will maximize value to attendees and provide travel marketers with cutting-edge tools and intelligence to promote their destinations and products in a post-COVID environment.
Save the following dates:
Connect THRIVE Summit
Sept. 18-19, 2021
THRIVE is focused on community development through LGBTQ travel, sports, and entertainment, making it a critically important event for diversity marketers.
View more about this summit.
Sept. 20-22, 2021
eTS, an intimate, annual conference, is the epicenter of digital destination marketing. Peer-to-peer sharing is integral to the aims, benefits, and actionable takeaways for those who attend the summit.
View more about this summit.
Sept. 20-22, 2021
Connect TOUR is the premier domestic travel show that brings together the most active tour operators, suppliers and experts in domestic tour and travel for preset appointments. Join us to meet large consortia, tour operators, domestic wholesalers and OTA/retailers.
View more about this show.
• Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines has revealed it is looking to Los Angeles as its first U.S. destination. In a recent filing with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Starlux is seeking to commence nonstop flights from Taipei to Los Angeles from 2022, using an Airbus A350-900. Starlux is one of the newest airlines in the world. Based in Taiwan, the carrier has been mostly flying East Asian routes and some flights to nowhere amid the ongoing COVID crisis. However, it has its sights set on broader international expansion. Starlux wants to fly from its hub at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Starlux will face some intense competition as China Airlines and Taiwan-based EVA Airways both fly nonstop between LAX and TPE. EVA flies the route up to three times a day, while China Airlines flies up to two times a day.
• When TUI Speaks, the Tourism Industry Listens—From a recent statement by Fritz Joussen, CEO of the TUI Group: “The rapid measures to cut costs and secure liquidity are important for the Group. They are a stable foundation for the future. TUI was in perfect health before the crisis and we want to return to our former strength as quickly as possible. The market is intact, our business model is future-proof and customer demand is there. Holiday travel remains very relevant for people. At the same time, international tourism is strengthening the southern euro zone and North Africa in a special way. We are very well positioned to resume operations on a larger scale as soon as the lockdowns are lifted and destinations are reopened. Our business model with our own tour operators, the travel agencies, aircraft, hotels and ships under the TUI umbrella makes a resumption possible very quickly.” (Courtesy of Travel Daily News)
• The Apple Leisure Group, which is headquartered just outside of Philadelphia (its inventory of brands includes Apple Vacations, AMResorts, The Mark Travel Corporation, and Travel Impressions), is still on the prowl for a large tour operator, according to the Mexican trade journal, REPORTUR.mx. Alex Zozaya, the company’s executive chairman, said in an interview with another trade journal that it is seeking to purchase “a larger Latin American issuer.” He suggested that it made sense for Apple, which is possibly the largest U.S. operator to work the Latin American market, to find the right Latin America-based company, indicating that the reason for executing this option is to bring guests to their AMResorts hotels. “We would be very happy to see an issuing company that gives us regional clients for hotels in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Zozaya.
Another Apple Leisure Group executive, Javier Coll, group president, AMResorts global business development, told REPORTUR.mx “At first, we are open to any investment that involves an increase in the number of passengers to the destinations where we have our hotels. Any investment that is a priority in the United States. Our ideal investment would be a tour operator, either OTA or traditional that has passengers in the United States to the Caribbean.”
• Akbar Al Bakar, Qatar Airways Group CEO, announced the carrier’s next destination–Seattle. Starting on March 15th as an initial four-weekly, Seattle will become the carrier’s 13th airport in North America. Interviewed by BBC World Business, Al Bakar said that Alaska Airlines joining oneworld in 2021 was an important factor for Seattle. “Once we become an operator into Seattle, and with Alaska joining oneworld, it gives us a very good platform to expand Qatar Airways on the West Coast,” Al Bakar said. Qatar Airways’ Seattle service will join long-standing Los Angeles and San Francisco. “Alaska Airlines is a very large airline in the Western United States,” he added. “oneworld, although it has a very strong partner in the country with American Airlines, wasn’t very strong in the West. With the induction of Alaska, we’re filling that void.”
Brightline Trains, the private railroad venture that currently has service between Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida, recently announced that it had reached an agreement with Walt Disney World Resort to open a new train station at Disney Springs, an area located just outside Orlando’s four Disney parks and filled with restaurants and shops. Brightline also indicated that it plans to have service to Orlando International Airport by 2022. Additional plans call for extending the line to Florida’s west coast. “I view our job for Brightline is to get people from hub to hub,” Brightline’s president, Patrick Goddard, told a session of the Alliance for Regional Transportation Education Series, said. “We’re very excited to get the current system opened.”
• LATAM Airlines has announced that it will launch operations between Orlando and São Paulo/Guarulhos Airport on Feb.1, 2021. Also scheduled to get underway is flight service by Azul between Tampa and Belém.
• American Airlines last Thursday (December 17) resumed direct and daily operations between Rio de Janeiro and Miami. The flight will be operated by the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, with three classes of service (Executive Flagship, Premium Economy and Economy). The flight is scheduled to arrive at Rio de Janeiro-Galeao International Airport at 7:55 am, with departures scheduled for Miami at 11:55 pm.
• Ctrip, China’s largest travel agency, had a weak third quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019, but it was better than the second quarter. Even though the company experienced a virtual crashing of outbound travel, it managed to perform better than it did in Q2 as a result of strong demand for domestic travel, as China sharply reduced the number of its people infected with the COVID-19 VIRUS. Net revenue for the third quarter of 2020 was $805 million), representing a 48 percent decrease from the same period in 2019 and a 73 percent increase from the previous quarter.
• For the Japanese travel trade, we guess that the familiar maxim, “No news is good news,” is now official policy for the Japanese travel trade, as the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) has now gone an entire year without publishing a quarterly survey regarding the trade’s outlook for the near term in which more than 600 tour operators and agencies are questioned and the answers are then analyzed in order to get a portrait of what they think for the current and net two quarters. The last quarterly report was issued in December 2019. In doing so, JATA makes a valid point: Why report news when there is nothing good to report?
Travel Industry’s Event Sector is Innovating
There were more than 400 registrants for the recent Connect Travel virtual roundtable— “Re-Connect” with industry leaders to hear how events will evolve moving forward—and the count continued to grow even as the discussion began. Those who attended were among the first to learn that the U.S. Travel Association announced that it will coordinate with the Connect Travel to co-locate several events around IPW 2021, which is slated to take place on Sept. 18-22 in Las Vegas. (The full story is located elsewhere in this issue of INBOUND.)
Discussing the US Travel and Connect Travel move, as well as a number of other topics, were: Carylann Assante, CEO, Student & Youth Travel Association; Peter J. Pantuso, president & CEO, American Bus Association; Will Seccombe, president & CEO, Connect Travel; and Malcolm Smith, senior vice president business development & IPW general manager, U.S. Travel Association.
Moderator for the session was Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel, and general manager, Connect Travel Events. (Photo)
1. A virtual component was a huge part of the way business was conducted in 2020. Every major conference, at some point, had a virtual component.
2. “Virtual” will continue to be with us in the near-term. However, it will be adapted to new realities, such as health and safety protocols that are likely to be changed from time to time.
3. Because virtual events have proved to attract and warrant attention from professionals across a wide swath of the travel and tourism industry, Connect Travel will be conducting weekly virtual round table discusses “for as long as we need to be connected.”
4. With most business and organizations operating on greatly reduced budgets and less income, meeting and event planners are finding creative ways to enable more people to attend face-to-face events.
5. Look for all major travel and tourism industry events to increase the educational components—both virtual and onsite—at their trade shows as they seek for ways to add value to their attendance and participation.
6. At meetings and conferences in the future, look for hosts and organizers to a far greater number of contact-less features and services—box lunches in place of buffet lines, etc.
Shari Bailey: “Is virtual something that goes away in 2021 or 2022? Or is it a hybrid model that something that is here to stay forever?”
Malcolm Smith: “Virtual is with us for a while. It’s going to be part of 2021. It’s going to be dialed up at times. It’s going to be dialed down—depending on audience, time of year, and so forth.”
Peter Pantuso: “Virtual is always going to be there. It’s not going away. It’s going to change how we do business going forward. We had our show (ABA Maketplace) in January. That was before COVID came or anybody knew about it. But, since that time, we’ve done over a hundred webinars as a way to engage with all of our members. Next year, we will have a virtual component that leads into the in-person component in June … it’s always going to be part of what we do going forward.”
Carylann Assante: “You can now extend your conference with (additional) opportunities and not worry about paying lots of fees for speakers on site. I like to think of it as, maybe, a silver lining in the form of things that we never did before that add value.”
Will Seccombe: “In terms of content, no one is no longer limited to two or three days on site. Really, what we’re seeing in these pandemic times is that the marketplace is changing so fast. … I think what we’re going to see, industry-wide—in the travel industry and in many other industries—is that ongoing education is going to be more and more important.”
Malcolm Smith: “I think a challenge going into 2021 for all of us who are doing anything—virtual webinars and so forth—is the challenge to keep people engaged because there is fatigue with Zoom calls and virtual conferences. So, how do you keep the person engaged?”
Peter Pantuso: “You’ve got to keep it (marketing) going. I know that some companies don’t that; it’s one of the first things they cut. People need to be prepared for recovery and we’re all in the business— especially in the group travel business that we’re all part of—of planning long term. That planning process has already started. I can tell you: some of our larger tour operators are putting out their catalogs and they’re doing sales for 2022. if you’re not in the game, if you’re not selling and marketing right now, regardless—I understand budgets are tight, but if you’re not in that space you’re already done for 2022, let alone 2021.
Malcolm: Smith: “We’re in such an unusual time that we are in the depth of a crisis that we know it’s going to get worse in the next few months—but we’ve never been in a position where we know, as we do now, that there is a big rebound coming and we can almost pinpoint the date of it. it’s basically starting the second quarter of 2021 and starting to roar in third and fourth quarter of 21.
Will Seccombe: “There are consumer behaviors that will be with us forever that have changed as a result of COVID-19. Our personal comfort zones and our personal space has widely expanded. There are things that we are going to have to do, even if we have a vaccine. People are going to be more cautious. Our opportunity as leaders in the travel industry to demonstrate as much as possible that you can travel safely, that you can show people you can meet safely and that you can still have extraordinary experiences.”
Carylann Assante: “I’m wondering, when we finally get face-to-face, if no one’s going to want to go into to go into an education room because they haven’t seen any body for so long.
RVs—a New a Mainstream Travel Option?
Of all the findings in the 2021 report on travel trends* that was just released by RVshare, a marketplace for recreational vehicle rentals, what strikes the reader more than anything else is the declaration that “New York and Illinois are the newest ‘RV states.’” That’s right. In the midst of the coronavirus-driven global pandemic, it seems that the RV mode of travel and the destinations that they visit, are going to realize more travelers in the post-pandemic world.
The RVshare report has a decidedly domestic focus in findings—but they reflect the shifts and trends among all travelers. In its summary finding, RVshare put it this way: “The pandemic kicked RV travel into high gear with almost 80 percent of renters in 2020 being new to RVshare’s platform. According to new survey research conducted by STR, RV rentals will continue to be the new-found travel option of 2021 for long distance travel, staying at state and national parks and for adventurous family trips. With ongoing uncertainty around COVID-19, travelers’ preferences have shifted and new travel trends have emerged.”
These particular revelations do not exactly come as a surprise, however. RVers are not exactly a large share of the international inbound tourism market—one will find purveyors of the RV product at IPW and regional international marketing organizations in the U.S.—but international tour operators and receptive tour operators who have taken part in Connect Travel’s “Staying Connected” series of roundtable discussions this year have regularly suggested that, international travelers enjoy America’s large cities and urban destinations such as New York and Chicago, but that they would like to visit places further away from gateway cities.
“Travelers are ready to swap city life for beaches, mountains and fresh air,” the report said. As proof, it cited these two numbers:
—Rentals in New York increased by +186 percent year over year.
—Rentals in Illinois increased by +174 percent year over year.
The report also has a data dump that are rich in numbers and findings that the travel marketer—both international and domestic—will find interesting. Some of the key points addressed by the report follow.
—40 percent of respondents say they are unlikely to fly in 2021.
—70 percent of respondents said minimal interactions with other travelers is important.
—More respondents plan to stay with family and friends this year than last.
The New Age of Live-Work-Play
We are told that “RVs aren’t just parked in your grandparents’ driveway anymore.” With millennials (ages 25 to 39) leading the way, people are changing their lifestyles based on newfound freedom with working and schooling from home or… anywhere. “RVs will become a mainstream travel option post-pandemic, especially for millennials.”
—Millennials are most likely to rent an RV in 2021—73 percent of millennials said they are likely to rent an RV in the future.
—68 percent of millennials said COVID-19 led them to find RVing more appealing than before the pandemic.
—61 percent of all respondents agree that RVs would be a good workspace.
Many will forgo the 2021 Travel Planning Season
The public’s desire and willingness to travel is still as strong as ever. However, there is a resistance to planning too far ahead with quarantine, cleanliness, and refunds all causing concern.
—57 percent of consumers surveyed are likely to travel either the same or more within the U.S.
—75 percent of respondents agree they need to be flexible when booking travel since COVID guidelines are always changing.
—63 percent of those surveyed won’t be planning vacations for next year as they don’t know what the travel guidelines will be.
—72 percent of travelers don’t want to book too far ahead of their travel dates
Where are RVers headed?
—Access to coastal areas;
—close to National and State Parks.
* For a copy of the RVshare report, click here.
Optimism Rules for 2021, Says Expedia
COVID Vaccine availability will help—One out of every two travelers is optimistic about taking a trip in the next 12 months, Expedia tells us in new research. In what is possibly the most-listened to report of its kind—among the annual outlooks, the annual reviews, the annual summaries, etc. that come out this time of year—the Expedia Group’s research report that coincides with the company’s annual partner conference and is taken seriously by everyone in the global travel and tourism industry. (The Expedia Group is No. 1 on Travel Weekly’s Power List of travel agencies that do business in the United States, with 2019 sales of $107.9 billion.)
For the research that produced the report, Expedia used an amalgamated group of best-in-class panels in October 2020 with 11,000 travelers across 11 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the UK, and the U.S. The respondents, said the company, “represent a variety of generations and demographics for a broad and inclusive understanding of what travelers consider when making destination, transportation and/or accommodation related trip decisions.”
The study results were released at about the same time as the first shots of COVID-19 vaccines were received by people in different parts of the globe and timed to coincide with the partner conference (for more information, visit explore ’20 (exploreexpediagroup.com).
Pent-up Demand is Significant: “As the world keeps a watchful eye on vaccine news, and people continue to crave a change of scenery or opportunity to catch up with loved ones, we know the pent-up demand for travel will grow,” the report declared. “As the world keeps a watchful eye on vaccine news, and people continue to crave a change of scenery or opportunity to catch up with loved ones, we know the pent-up demand for travel will grow.”
The research reveals that:
—One in two travelers feel optimistic, the research revealed—that is, comfortable or even excited—about taking a trip in the next 12 months. Though consumer confidence in travel varies by country and generation, the importance of hygiene measures, flexibility, and financial peace of mind is more universal.
—Three-quarters of travelers said measures such as mask enforcement, contactless services, and flexibility, including easy refunds or cancellation policies, will inform where they visit on their next trip.
—Yes, travel was down throughout the world. Globally, two-thirds of travelers had a planned trip cancelled due to COVID-19 and only a third of travelers have taken a trip during the pandemic. Of those who took a trip, eight in 10 traveled for rejuvenation—to enjoy a change of scenery or different weather, or to see family or friends.
More Highlights from the Expedia Research:
Traveler trends in the Next 12 months
• Globally, travelers are more likely to take trips between April and September 2021. Brazilian, Chinese, and Mexican travelers show a higher likelihood to travel even earlier, between January and March 2021, which aligns with the positive traveler sentiment also seen in those markets.
• Globally, Generation Z and millennial travelers are 1.5 times more likely than other generations to take a leisure trip in January to March 2021.
• Fifty-seven percent of travelers said they would be comfortable traveling if a vaccine is widely available, which is promising given that this sentiment was captured in October, prior to the recent positive vaccine news.
• Seven in 10 travelers will look for flexibility, such as travel insurance and trip protection, full cancellations and refunds on transportation and accommodations. Expedia.com’s lodging data shows that travelers booked refundable rates 10 percent more often in 2020 than the year before, and the new research indicates this trend is likely here to stay.
Factors Influencing Transportation and Accommodation Decisions
• Travelers want reassurances that travel providers and brands are following and enforcing pandemic protocols. Mask use and enforcement (50 percent), cost (47 percent) and easy refunds or cancellation policies (45 percent) will be the leading factors in future transportation decisions, though the importance placed on each varies by mode of transportation.
• For future air travel, six in 10 travelers would be most comfortable traveling if social distancing measures are in place.
• Proper COVID-19 hygiene protocols will inform future accommodation decisions for more than half of travelers, and this is the leading factor across all types, from chain and boutique hotels to vacation rentals to staying with family or friends. Additional considerations include contactless room service and takeout (24 percent) and contactless check in options (23 percent).
• Travel providers, as well as destination organizations, need to clearly communicate health and hygiene measures, pandemic protocols and flexibility to reassure and attract travelers.
Inspiring future travel
• Travelers are turning to online travel agencies for information and travel planning 24 percent more than pre-pandemic, while destination websites saw a 20 percent increase in use as a planning tool.
• Pictures and informative messaging in travel advertising are 20 percent more influential than pre-pandemic, along with travel organizations and experts. This is reflective of the shift in traveler priorities – with hygiene measures and flexibility overtaking experiences and activities – and the increased importance of credible, up-to-date information from trusted sources.
For further insights on traveler attitudes, motivations and influences that will drive future travel decisions, download the full global Traveler Sentiment and Influences study.
HODGE PODGE: Appointments & Changes
Wendy Olson Killion has been named global senior vice president & general manager, Expedia Group Media Solutions at Expedia Media Group. Killion, who has been with the company for nearly 11 years, was promoted from her position as global vice president, business development, Expedia Group Media Solutions. She joined the company in March 2010 as global media projects manager, site planning. She also served for more than five years with J.D. Power and Associates.
Joel Cohen has been named general manager at Beyond Times Square, a New York-based destination management company that serves individual and group travelers, delivering tailor-made, luxury travel programs with authentic local experience. Cohen comes to the new position following a lengthy tour of more than 20 years with New York City Vacation Packages, where he was vice president.
Steve Moore, the president and CEO of Visit Phoenix, announced, has announced his retirement effective March 31, 2021. Moore has led Visit Phoenix for 19 years. Previously, he spent 14 years as CEO of Visit San Antonio and 13 years with Visit Houston.
Candace Carr Strauss has been named as the new president and CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau. She’ll take on the new job in February 2021. She comes to Sedona from her post as CEO of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce & Visit Big Sky in Montana. She replaces Jennifer Wesselhoff who left for a similar role in Park City, Utah.
Ian Simkins is joining the villa specialist The Thinking Traveller as executive chairman. Previously, Simkins served for more than seven years as CEO of Audley Travel.
Jason Outman has been selected as the new president and CEO of the Branson-Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau. He starts his new job on January 18, 2021. Outman comes to Branson after serving for 10 years with Experience Columbia South Carolina—the last six as president and CEO. Before his tenure in Columbia, he had worked for the Cobb County (Georgia) CVB. Prior to that, he was with the Georgia World Congress Center. Outman replaces Jeff Seifried, who stepped down to join a Branson insurance agency.
Lee Marshall, long-time tourism industry figure in the UK, has been recruited by the luxury tour operator Carrier. He’ll join the company in January on a consultancy basis with a focus on new business development as the operator looks to further bolster its commitment to trade partnerships. He will continue to work with other luxury brands under his Lee Marshall Consulting business Marshall has worked in travel for 34 years, having spent 15 years of his career at luxury tour operator ITC. Prior to his current role, Marshall was client relationship director at ITC (Inspiring Travel Group). He also spent three years as head of sales at Gold Medal and nearly 20 years at Thomas Cook working in retail and then as national sales manager for Thomas Cook Signature.
Trafalgar, Costsaver and Brendan Vacations—they are three of The Travel Corporation’s 40 tour operator brand—have expanded the sales coverage of Ken Nickerson (left), Jodine Clement (center) and Lora Hamre (right), to include all three brands. In doing so, their titles have been changed from sales managers to business development managers (BDMs). “As we all work together to restart the travel industry, this transition was designed to better serve the travel community as a whole and ensure travel agents receive nationwide support now that we are managing our three outstanding travel brands,” says Anita Emilio, vice president of sales for Trafalgar, Costsaver and Brendan Vacations Canada.
Jamie Paiko has been promoted by Cunard—from the position as senior director of marketing toto vice president of sales. In her new role, she will oversee the national account managers and provide support to regional sales directors and field sales team. She also will be responsible for Cunard’s North American public relations efforts. Paiko is a 25-year veteran to the cruise industry, having held various roles at both Cunard and Princess Cruises. Also from Cunard, Nicole Knox, who was manager of advertising and marketing, has been promoted to director of marketing and will oversee all marketing efforts for North America including digital advertising, trade and consumer advertising, web, customer relationship management, direct mail and collateral. Knox joined the Cunard marketing team in 2005. The vice president, sales role was formerly held by Steve Smotrys, who moved to Seabourn as VP global sales.
Joelle Goldman has been appointed to the new role of vice president, host services, for Direct Travel. She joins the company from Virtuoso where she was director of member relations, U.S. & Canada. In Canada, Goldman will be closely involved with the Vision Travel brand, which has an extensive history in the independent travel advisor sector and is growing its portfolio of hosted travel agencies. Direct Travel ranks as No. 9 on the 2020 Travel Weekly Power List of the largest travel agencies in the U.S. It recorded $5.8 billion in sales last year.
EasyJet has appointed Sophie Dekkers as its new chief commercial officer. The move follows the resignation of Robert Carey. Dekkers has been with easyJet since 2007 in a variety of roles, most recently as customer director. EasyJet Airlines and Easy Jet Holidays are the 7th and 8th largest tour operators/organizers in the UK, based on the number of ATOL air passengers it is authorized to cover in the current business year.
Petita Borrajo has joined one of the world’s largest bedbanks, WebBeds, as regional director of sales for Central Europe. Before WebBeds, Borrajo held senior sales positions at such tourism industry companies as Smyrooms, Open Travel Service, TUI Travel and Hotelbeds. The role of regional director of sales for Central Europe is part of a revised European sales structure and includes responsibility for key markets such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Posted Industry Jobs
From SearchWide Global:
—The Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce is searching for a new chief marketing officer. Click here for more information.
—Destinations International has an opening for a sales & services manager. For more information, click here.
—Visit SLO CAL (San Luis Obispo County, California) is searching for a chief marketing officer. Visit here for more information.
—VisitGreenvilleSC is looking for a president and CEO. For additional details, click here.
—Visit Florida is searching for a vice president of marketing. For more information, visit here.
—Destination Madison is searching for a new president and CEO. Click here for more information.
—The Bermuda Tourism Authority is looking for a chief sales and marketing officer. For additional details, click here.
—The Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau has an opening for a director of sales. Click here for more information.
—Visit Orlando is searching for a new president and CEO. For more information visit here.
— Sports Facilities Management is searching for a senior project manager to join its facility planning and finance support services team. For more details, visit here.
—The Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau has an opening for a new president. Click here for more information.
—A new president and CEO is being sought by Destination Madison (Wis.). For additional details, click 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.
—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
From Indeed.com: We’ve taken a look at this site (click here) which says that it has more than 200 jobs listed, including a fair number in the travel, tourism and related industries. A sampler of what to expect is below.
—Riverdale Travel in Coon Rapids, Minnesota is looking for an experienced travel consultant. More details here.
—Sisters Traveling Solo, Atlanta, is looking for an operations manager-group travel. More information here.
—Opening for a travel program administrator, Bass Pro Shops, Springfield, Missouri. More details here.
From LinkedIn Jobs: Known to many across the board in the travel and tourism industry, the LinkedIn list (click here) has numerous job opportunities posted. Following is a brief sample of some of those jobs listed.
—Chief experience officer at Brightline Transportation in Miami, FL. Click here.
—Tourism partnership manager at the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Click here.
—Director of tourism at Six Flags, Valencia, California. Click here.