Mexico’s Top Hotel Websites Listed
Also, USA is Top International Destination for Mexican Travelers: While not an issue covered closely by the travel and tourism trade news media in the U.S., the question of where travelers from Mexico and, more broadly speaking, Latin America, book the hotel component of their travels shows that local or regional websites are an integral part of the path to purchase among Mexicans and Latin Americans. Mexico is, after all, the second-largest source of international visitors to the USA.
Just recently, the Mexico City-based travel news portal, Pasillico Touristico, covered the release of a list of the top hotel booking channels used by travelers from Mexico. It showed that global brands are at the top of the list, but that regional brands are strong and popular, according to SiteMinder, a guest acquisition platform. SiteMinder based its rank on the total gross revenue for all users of the platform.
SiteMinder released its findings in two parts—one for the full-year results of 2021 and another for the roughly nine months of the year left after the restoration of hotel reservations following a virtual lockdown of activity.
In both lists, Expedia, Booking.com and Hotelbeds comprise the Top 3, followed by the generic hotel website, where consumers made direct bookings.
But Numbers 5, 6 and 7 were Price Travel (headquartered in Cancún); Best Day (also based in Cancún); and Despegar, which is headquartered in Buenos Aires, but operates across 20 countries in Latin America.
Meanwhile, another study says USA is No. 1 for Mexicans. Online travel agency Despegar (No. 7 channel among Mexicans for booking hotel rooms) released findings of its own analysis of booking data and said that the international destinations most sought after by Mexicans to travel during 2021 are: the United States, Spain, Colombia and Argentina.
Despegar said that, for the United States, among the reasons why it tops among Mexicans: “the favorite country of Mexicans given its proximity, cultural diversity, natural landscapes … make it an unbeatable tourist attraction and endless adventures that can be done in large cities. Among the destinations preferred by Mexicans are New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Houston.”
Business Travel Recovery?—Not Till 2025
The financial impact of global travel decline is expected to be 10 times the Great Recession and 9/11. No one in the travel and tourism industry really expects (or expected) a full recovery for the business travel sector of the global travel industry. After all, travel for business is more a symptom of the overall industry’s health, not a driver of it.
Even so, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) left no doubt about the course of the industry when it released its annual BTI™ Outlook, a detailed analysis of business travel in 2020, with projections for 2021 and beyond.*
The cold, hard facts:
—The true global financial impact of COVID-19 began in Q2 2020, resulting in an expected 68 percent decline (to $738 billion) from April 1, 2020 to the end of the year.
—Because of the relatively strong (pre-COVID) first quarter of 2020, global spending on business travel is expected to show a 52 percent decrease for all of 2020 (to $694 billion USD), down from $1.4 trillion USD in 2019.
Other facts and finding that stand out in the report include the following.
2020 Losses and Challenges:
—Global GDP is expected to have declined 4.4 percent in 2020, an unprecedented drop-off when compared to the -0.5 percent decline experienced during the Great Recession of 2008.
—Global trade is expected to contract by almost 11 percent, due to lockdowns that temporarily froze the movement of people and goods and forced a review of supply chain networks, resulting in many countries looking to source locally.
—Coming into 2020, business travel had grown for 10 consecutive years, with an average growth rate of 5.1 percent per year.
— As the following table suggests, the impact of COVID-19 on business travel has varied by region.
—The magnitude of these losses and their impact on travel suppliers is unprecedented: the 2020 business travel spending losses are expected to be 10 times larger than the impact of either 9/11 or the Great Recession of 2008. Understandably, organizations with more exposure to sectors at the epicenter of the crisis are expected to face more volatility moving forward, including leisure and hospitality, ground transportation, retail, food services and energy.
Forecast on Business Travel Recovery:
—A 21 percent increase in business travel spending is projected in 2021. Most of this gain is expected to come at the end of 2021 as vaccinations increase globally and consumer confidence returns.
—In 2022, the BTI Outlook forecasts further acceleration in business travel, including a significant pick-up in group meeting activity and international business travel.
—While annual business travel spending growth is expected to slow somewhat in 2023, it is projected to remain well above historical average rates of growth of 4.6 percent. By the end of 2024, annual business travel spending is projected to reach approximately $1.4 trillion, nearly equaling the 2019 pre-pandemic revenue peak of $1.43 trillion.
—A full recovery to pre-pandemic levels is expected by 2025.
*The BTI Outlook, now in its 12th year, is an exhaustive study of business travel spending and growth covering 75 countries across 48 industries.
“Staying Connected” Highlights Partnering
Connect Travel’s “Staying Connected” virtual roundtable last Thursday was held in the heart of Black History month and drew considerable interest on the part of those who “attended” the event. More than 40 questions and/or comments were posted as the event was taking place. Those taking part in the panel discussion, which focused on the need for partnering, included:
Lezlie Harper, founder, Niagara Bound Tours;
Ally Spongr, interim director, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center Museum;
George Scott, resident, Colored Musicians’ Club; and
Shari Bailey, vice president of Connect Travel and general manager, Travel Connect Events, who served as moderator of the panel discussion.
1. Taking note of the fact that all of the panelists at the session were from small organizations, one participant said that, for them, it is “all about partnerships,” because those involved in Black tourism (it was and is the middle of Black History Month and of major of interest to the panel) are promoting and working toward a common cause—cultural tourism and the Black experience in the Greater Buffalo area and the Underground Railroad, which ends after one crosses the Niagara River and enters the province of Ontario, Canada.
2. Staffing can be a challenge for small organizations. One participant’s employees numbered 10, but only one was a full-time employee. Another panelist had a one-person operation, and a third depended primarily upon volunteers.
3. Although the global pandemic has basically shut down school programs involving travel, non-profit operations have found that students and their schools respond positively to the virtual tours used by small nonprofit organizations such as those at the roundtable. Schools are enthusiastic about such products, as they all have an educational component. As for school involvement in cultural tourism and products dealing with the Black experience—all three of the panelists are part of it and enjoy their work.
4. Marketing is not as it is known about larger entities. All three organizations use normal channels of promotion—mostly through the social media and by partnering with other organizations whose interests and audiences intersect with each other. In the case of the Underground Railroad, there is the Underground Railroad Consortium of New York State (https://www.urcnys.org/ ), a coalition of organizations across New York State with programs and sites related to the Underground Railroad that preserve and celebrate its history.
5. Everyone confessed to what is called “Zoom fatigue,” which is what one experiences from attending too many Zoom webinars and conducting exchanges through the widely used communications channel, and everyone looked forward to the resumption of face-to-face live meetings with their colleagues.
6. When will recovery come? The travel and tourism industry is still in a state of flux, and no one seemed ready to suggest an itinerary or calendar that would show us the path from where we are now to business as we used to know it, although all were hopeful that vaccines to treat the COVID-19 virus would accelerate the process. However, one panelist suggested that a full-scale recovery might not arrive until 2022, or later.
Shari Bailey: “Truly, I think now more than ever we need to partner together to move forward and to help each other because we’ve all taken the hit.”
Lezlie Harper: “It’s very refreshing for me to be in business, to be a part of a group where I can just sort of breath and I don’t have to be guarded … we can have open conversations and it’s just a wonderful partnership because we want these sites to survive.”
Ally Spongr: “We have a virtual tour platform. It’s a program called Matterport (a 3D platform). I’m still trying to figure out exactly what the right language is to explain it but it’s like when you are looking at rental homes or buying a house and you can like see that the 3-D and go through it. It’s very easy. We have that so that our staff and our tour guides can take people through.”
Ally Spongr: “Because of the school groups and group tour bookings and because were into Black History month—which is always so busy for us—we’ve actually hired a few contracted virtual remote educators to help us because our staff couldn’t handle the capacity of incoming tour requests. So, we are actually in the process of training some completely virtual and remote part-time positions.”
Lezlie Harper: “With these virtual visits, people can see what they’re actually going to be seeing, so I don’t think virtual is going to disappear. I think it’s going to stay. I think it’s definitely getting more deeply planted into the psyche of people who travel.”
George Scott: “We’re even getting people from out of state and out of country looking at these virtual tours now and most of them—once they are able to fly—they will come to Buffalo … yesterday I got a call from a lady from Miami, Florida. And I’ve heard from a I person from Thailand and different places like that.”
Lezlie Harper: It’s not just Black people who are interested. So often it’s like, oh well, we don’t have anybody or nobody interested. That’s not true. When you travel, you want to see and hear about the people who live in a specific area. Well, that’s what this is all about. To the tour operators out there, in 2019 the African American travel market alone spent 109.6 billion dollars worldwide. That’s nothing to sneeze at. That’s more than the student market, which always gets lots of attention.”
George Scott: “Our job really is to try to keep people here as long as we can. So, when you can bring up other avenues of history here, instead of being here for a day, now they can be here for three days or four days a week, so it’s not just coming to the (Niagara) Falls.”
Shari Bailey: “I think this conversation is really interesting because it’s not what we consider traditional marketing. It’s not what we consider traditional networking. You’re reaching out through unions and through associations. And you’re really exploring some different ways to get the word out there, which is what we totally need right now.”
Lezlie Harper: “Major marketing? I don’t have major marketing. I use grocery money. I do well.” (Laughter)
Lezlie Harper, founder, Niagara Bound Tours- [email protected] –
Ally Spongr, interim director, Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Centre Museum – [email protected]
George Scott, president, Colored Musicians’ Club – [email protected]
Shari Bailey, president, Connect Travel, general manager of Connect Travel Events – [email protected] has a account
Betsy Cooper, director of TourOperatorLand.com and partner engagement at Connect Travel (Tour Operator Land is event sponsor) [email protected]
Where and Why They’re Entering the USA
Miami-Fort Lauderdale Points of Entry Increase Visitor Share: Among the end-of-the year data sets released by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO) in the past several weeks are those showing the top ports of entry for those overseas visitors arriving in the United States. (“Port of Entry” is a term whose meaning was literal in an earlier age—up to the mid-20th century—when almost all overseas visitors to America did indeed arrive in the United States at a port city.)
Why Miami? Why Ft. Lauderdale? While the data for the top 20 ports of entry revealed little that was obvious in the way of trends, there were points in the data that cause one to speculate on possible meanings. Most interesting to INBOUND were the case of the significant increase in their share of the market were the Miami and Ft. Lauderdale ports of entry (up 1 percent for Miami and 1.8 percent for Ft. Lauderdale.
And during the year of COVID-19 and a global pandemic, the same two cities—Miami and Fort Lauderdale—had the smallest percentage decreases in visitor traffic vs. last year’s cataclysmic drop-off in the number of overseas visitors entering the United States.
It is possible that there was a share increase in 2020 visitors to the U.S. from countries in South America and Latin America because there seemed to be fewer and/or less sweeping lockdowns on travel from the region to Miami and Ft. Lauderdale? Also, the two cities are almost de facto adjoining cities to South Americans and Latin Americans.
And then there is New York. It is likely that the strong increase in 2020 share of the overseas market by New York was largely due to the fact that international air carriers reduced almost all of their flights to U.S. airports—except, for many, those to and from NYC. For overseas business people, New York City is still the “real” capital of the United States … pandemic or no pandemic.
Wait! There is Much More: There is a great deal of information one may obtain from this port of entry table, travel and tourism industry expert Ron Erdmann reminds us. Erdmann, senior research associate at CIC Research, which works with NTTO in analyzing data from the Survey of International Air Travelers (SIAT), points out the following:
—If you look at the rankings for ports of entry between 2019 and 2020 you will see that six ports saw increases between the two year and eight ports registered declines.
—The shifts in rankings can be explained by the different rates of change among the top ports. As noted earlier, Ft. Lauderdale (-70 percent) and Miami (-72 percent), posted the least declines in arrivals. Houston (-76 percent), Dallas (-79 percent), and Atlanta (-80 percent), were the next ports with the smallest declines if you can call these levels of declines small. It’s all relative. In contrast, Philadelphia (-88 percent), Boston (-85 percent), Seattle (-85 percent), and Blaine, Washington (-85 percent) all registered the steepest declines. All five of these ports are among the smaller ports of the top 20.
—New York’s JFK International Airport, which saw a 2.1 percent market share decline in 2020, the largest share loss of any of the top 20 ports. Other top ports seeing larger declines in market share between 2020 and 2019 were San Francisco (-1.1 percent), Los Angeles (-1.0 percent), Chicago and Dallas (-0.6 percent).
—In contrast, in addition to Miami which saw an amazing 5.8 percent increase in market share over the two years, and the previously noted growth in share by Ft. Lauderdale (+1.8 percent), Houston (+0.7 percent), Atlanta and Dallas (+0.2 percent) increases in share show the impact of different levels of declines in arrivals just over these two years.
—And remember, 2019 was a record year for overseas arrivals to the U.S. In 2019, New York, San Francisco, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Agana, Boston and Seattle all set records for overseas non-resident arrivals.
—Between 2019 and 2020 there were 32.8 million fewer overseas arrivals. The ports that saw the largest volume decline in 2020 were in rank order: New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, and Honolulu. The ports seeing the smallest declines in volume were in rank order: Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Las Vegas and Seattle.
Additional detail on world regions and top countries for each of these ports and more is available from the NTTO. (See contact information below.)
Need more information? You will find e-mail links and other contact information for key staff at NTT0 here: https://travel.trade.gov/about/contact-us.asp
Staying Connected with Tour Operators
People are eager to travel to and within the U.S. Connect Tour’s recent virtual roundtable with U.S. and Canadian tour operators attracted several hundred travel and tourism industry professionals who showed interest in anything the operators had to say regarding when traveling, tours and tour itineraries will be back in action, as everyone seemed to agree that there is substantial pent-up demand for travel—especially among senior travelers. The panel for the roundtable discussion featured: Melody Jordan, owner, Front Line Tours;
Jamie Lynn Thompson, president & CEO, Southern Escape Tours; and Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel, and general manager, Connect Travel Events. Bailey was the moderator for the session.
1. The pent-up desire to travel is high, with operators indicating that seniors are especially eager to do so. It is such that the booking window for tours has grown increasingly smaller. In the past (pre-COVID-19) customers would book 9 to 12 months out from the date of departure. Now, tour operators are receiving calls for less than three months out, and up to as little as 45 days, out.
2. Although COVID vaccinations have created a sense of hope and optimism across and through much of the tourism industry, the expectation is that a real recovery or restart of business will come, at the earliest, in a late-spring-to-early autumn window. When it does occur, business will be very strong.
3. Aside from the new protocols for safety and cleanliness that have been embraced across-the-board in the tourism industry, there is no consensus on whether proof of a COVID vaccination should be required in order to take a bus tour or participate in tour activities. Imposition of such a measure is more likely to be an action undertaken by some level of government. And the tourism industry cannot be expected to be “the enforcer” of such measures.
4. Because of uncertainty and the ongoing presence of COVID-19 in everyone’s life, as well as sharply reduced budgets, marketing programs are conducted with “as-available” resources and applied creatively. E-mail blasts and a presence in the social media seem to account for a good portion of such marketing applications. Also, operators, suppliers and DMOs have found that soliciting home videos, travel videos and destination videos have provided industry businesses and organizations with substantial content for their websites and web marketing campaigns.
5. Smaller staffs and an industry weakened by the shutdown of some businesses and organizations, along with the cost in time of implementing health and safety protocols, are challenging tour operators whose customers depend upon on on-time stops at restaurants or attractions with scheduled programs and shows. (It takes time to conduct even a quick temperature check for an arriving group.) While the question of who should do it was not specifically addressed, panelists felt that there should be a single, overall, industry-wide certification program that would be recognized by all components of the travel and tourism industry.
6. Without exception, operators and virtual roundtable attendees look forward to the return to in-person, face-to-face meetings with clients and colleagues. Hugging, it was suggested, is important to both buyers and suppliers in the travel and tourism industry. Elbow or fist bumps will not be adequate.
Shari Bailey: “We’re coming out of this. We know we are. We’re coming out of it together, and we’re going to come out of it stronger.”
Jenny Lynn Thompson: “I think that, in the past, for me, I always felt like it was always time to sell a customer a destination. Now it’s telling them that it’s safe to travel.”
Melody Jordan: “We’re so ready! We’re ready when our customers are ready. And when the government will let us. We’re a senior-based company, so most of the calls we’re getting right now are our regular customers who are, like: What are you guys doing?’ Are you still there? Are we safe to go? Can we go? What can we do?’”
Jennie Lynn Thompson: “As far as when people are going to travel again—that’s the million-dollar question. I get the feeling that everyone’s crystal ball is broken. It’s kind of out of our control. I just keep pushing the message: do your part, wear your mask, be respectful, get vaccinated if you can. It helps everybody–we’re all in this together and it’s going take everybody working cohesively to be able to move forward.”
Melody Jordan: “Typically, most of our travelers (the company is based in Burlington, Ontario) do want to go to the U.S. Right now, it’s not there. … Right now, it’s domestic. It’s Ottawa. It’s Quebec City. It’s the Maritimes.”
Jenny Lynn Thompson: “We can’t be the enforcers. … We want people to travel, but we cannot be the re-enforcers. We’re never going to make you have a vaccination. Or, you have to have that COVID test. We can’t have that fall on us. Because we can take people to so many places and destinations and attractions. I just don’t think we should be the enforcers of something like that.”
Melody Jordan (Asked “Are you looking for new destinations, or for smaller towns rather than larger cities?”) “Our team—we’re always looking for new ideas. That’s why we like OMTA (Ontario Motorcoach Association Marketplace) and ABA (American Bus Association Marketplace). We go to those places and we just thrive on hearing the new ideas and little towns and little places. Everything. We come back to the office and brainstorm over it. So, any kind of ideas that anybody has, please e-mail me.”
Melody Jordan, owner, Front Line Tours [email protected]
Jamie Lynn Thompson, president & CEO, Southern Escape Tours [email protected]
Shari Bailey, vice president, Connect Travel, and general manager, Connect Travel Events [email protected]
TourOperatorLand.com’s Partner of the Week
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For more information on Mall of America, visit the attraction at its TourOperatorLand.com.pages here. For additional information on partnering through TourOperatorland.com., contact:
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Phone: 415.728.1085 Email: [email protected]
• “Born in the USA” Need Not be a Barrier to a UAE Passport: In a move that seems to have surprised the world of international business, the United Arab Emirates has announced that Emirati nationality will now be officially attainable for foreigners—a major first for the Gulf state. As reported by the business news channel CNBC, the UAE passport will be offered to select foreigners and professionals including “investors, doctors, specialists, inventors, scientists, talents, intellectuals, artists and their families.”
The move is likely to enhance the UAE’s position as a major connecting point for international air travel. There are two major international airports in the UAE (Abu Dhabi and Dubai) as well as a number of regional airports. In its official statement on the action, the UAE government news agency WAM said,
“The United Arab Emirates has approved amendments … allowing investors, professionals, special talents and their families to acquire the Emirati nationality and passport under certain conditions.” The move is likely to further enhance the reputation of a UAE passport, which is ranked number one on the Arton Capital Passport Index. Go here for the complete CNBC news item.
• Changes at CVC: From the Brazilian travel trade publication PANROTAS, we learned last week of a major overhaul in CVC’s company structure (The headline read: “In new restructuring, CVC Corp announces layoffs and promotions.”) resulting from deep cuts in revenues due to the global pandemic. The restructuring has affected the roles of more than 20 senior-level managers, as well resulting in the departure of at least three individuals. Read here for the complete article.
• What Global Luxury Brands Need to Know About the China Market In 2021: Great article in Jing Daily by Adina-Laura Achim, who writes: “January marked the demise of four turbulent years. However, ending Trump’s dreams of a second term didn’t bring the prospect of a reconciliation between China and the US. And consumers on both sides are becoming increasingly fearful, angry, and distrustful of the other side. Chinese consumers, in particular, are shifting away from American brands.” Click here for complete article.
• The 70-Plus “Silent Generation” is Key to Recovery of Travel & Tourism: According to a report from GlobalData, a London-based data analytics and consulting company, the 70-plus demographic ought not be overlooked as businesses and companies plan for a recovery from the impact of the global pandemic. In sum, as reported by TTG Asia, the argument is this: 70-plus travelers have the time and, second, they are being vaccinated first. The same cannot be said of the highly touted Millennial Travelers (people who reached young adulthood in the early 21st century).
Said Johanna Bonhill-Smith, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, “Not only is this demographic one of the first to be vaccinated, they are also typically big spenders and less hindered by time constraints. This makes this a lucrative demographic to target in order to boost post-pandemic travel.”
Only 26 per cent of respondents from the Silent Generation (70-plus) declared they are “extremely” or “quite concerned” about their personal financial situation, as compared to 77 per cent of Millennials in GlobalData’s C0VID-19 Recovery Survey, which surveyed 5,500 respondents in December 2020.
Roughly 50 per cent of silent generation respondents “somewhat” or “strongly” disagreed they would buy products only from their favorite brands. As well, the survey found that 30 per cent will now buy more products online rather than visiting a store, and 48 per cent consider supporting small or local businesses as more important than before to this pandemic—indicating additional opportunity for brand development. Click here For the complete TTG article.
• Pandemic claims another tour operator victim in UK: Tour operator Tucan Travel has ceased doing business and shut down. The company, which specialized in trips to South America, had been in business for 33 years. Said Tucan Travel CEO Mark Gannan: “We have had to make difficult decisions to keep the business operational throughout the COVID crisis, including many staff redundancies and suspending tour operations in March last year … But with little prospect of a return to normal international leisure travel on the horizon, the challenge has sadly proven too great and, with a heavy heart, the decision was taken to place the company into administration.”
• TripAdvisor Introduces Virtual Voice Tours for Amazon Alexa: Working with tourism authorities in Abu Dhabi, TripAdvisor recently launched what it says is the first virtual destination voice tour for Amazon Alexa. Users in the UK can summon the voice tour by asking their Alexa-enabled device “to explore Abu Dhabi.” The voice tour is part of a larger campaign between Abu Dhabi and the review/distribution platform and, according to TripAdvisor, the feature will be made to other destination partners. (“TripAdvisor creates virtual destination tour via Amazon Alexa,” January 29, 2021 via Phocus Wire. Borrowed from Lexology.com website.)
• TUI’s CEO, Franz Joussen, said last week that more than half of operator’s 2.8 million bookings for summer 2021 are from the UK market, according to the boss of Europe’s largest tour operator. According to Travel Week UK, Joussen applauded the progress of the UK in treating its population with COVID-19 vaccinations. Joussen forecast “a good summer season,” adding that TUI is “very positive. We believe borders will open in the UK first, so good we have over half our bookings in the UK. People are sitting on their suitcases waiting to see what will open.” Read here for the complete TW article.
• What Global Luxury Brands Need to Know About the China Market In 2021: Great article in Jing Daily by Adina-Laura Achim, who writes: “January marked the demise of four turbulent years. However, ending Trump’s dreams of a second term didn’t bring the prospect of a reconciliation between China and the US. And consumers on both sides are becoming increasingly fearful, angry, and distrustful of the other side. Chinese consumers, in particular, are shifting away from American brands.” Click herefor complete article.
• From the Orange County Register: More than 40 U.S. theme parks set 2021 reopening dates.
“More than 40 theme parks across the United States have set 2021 reopening dates after the coronavirus pandemic forced many of the amusement wonderlands to postpone their 2020 season openings or remain closed for the entire year. Individual states in the U.S. have set their own COVID-19 health and safety reopening guidelines with California theme parks unlikely to return to full operation until spring or summer. Some California theme parks have partially reopened for special events without rides.” Read here for complete article.
• Comment from the Social Media Trenches—Alfredo Gonzalez, AG Hospitality Group: “There is no doubt to the damage this virus has caused the travel industry. My company lost 75 percent of its business in a matter of weeks. I know business will come back, but it won’t look anything like it did pre-COVID. Hopefully, companies will see the value of experience and relationships when they start to rehire. Hopefully companies will look past the opportunity to save money by hiring available, inexpensive and inexperienced staff. That might work in the short term, but not in our industry. The hospitality industry is about people, talking to people and understanding people… there is no APP for that.”
Four Views of the UK Condition
The Government’s Latest Advice– Don’t travel! With a key government minister advising Brits not to book holiday travel this summer serving as a backdrop, here is a collection of results from four different surveys of how UK travel consumers are changing and what they are looking for are highlighted.
Number 1. Only five percent of UK adults are confident they will be able to take a holiday abroad this summer, according to the results of a survey last Thursday (Feb. 11) of 5,018 by YouGov research.
One reason for the finding has been the stated position of government officials who are actively discouraging travel by Britons. The government’s transport secretary. Grant Shapps, has urged people not to book holidays in the UK or abroad this summer because it is “just too soon” to say whether they can go ahead.
Shapps said that “people shouldn’t be booking holidays right now—not domestically or internationally,” but added that he was in talks with other governments about allowing people to travel later if they can prove they have been vaccinated. And he urged the British to wait for more clarity when the government introduces and explains its plan to end the state of lockdown in the week of February 22. Others results from the Feb. 11 YouGov snap poll included the following:
—The proportion of young adults (aged 18-24) confident they would have a holiday abroad was higher at 13 percent, but confidence diminished sharply with age: just six percent of 25–49-year-olds expressed confidence, only four percent of 50–65-year-olds and just three percent of over 65-year-olds did so, despite all those over than 50 being on course to be offered vaccination by the end of March.
—YouGov also reported that about one in 10 UK adults have already booked a UK summer holiday this year and almost as many a holiday abroad despite the government’s undermining of confidence to travel.
—Nine percent of respondents have booked a holiday in the UK, seven percent a holiday overseas and two percent have booked holidays both overseas and in the UK.
Number 2. Additional evidence of a continuing shift toward greater use of travel agents by older holidaymakers has been revealed in a new piece of research on the sector. This is the take on the current state of travel agencies in the UK from the recently published “Silver Travel Advisor’s 2021 Industry Report,” which surveyed more than 2,300 older travelers, found that nearly half (49 percent) would use a travel agent “to book a holiday that involves more than just a flight or a hotel booking.” The percentage on this one has grown from 36 percent in January 2020, which was when the last iteration of this report was published. The first of three surveys notes the following points.
—70 percent want to holiday abroad, a significant uptick since July 2020 and an indication of growing confidence in the idea of travelling again.
—57 percent of those without a current booking say they would fly within nine months, which is an increase of 13 percentage points from the 44 percent recorded last July.
—Almost all Silver Travelers (95 percent) are happy to have the vaccine.
—77 percent would travel within six months of receiving it, but 34 percent do not intend to travel at all or, at least, not right now
Effect on Spending:
—86 percent say they will spend as much or more on travel in the next year, suggesting this age group has not been hit financially as hard as some
—Just about half (49 percent) of existing ocean cruisers are eager to cruise within a year, and another 34 percent will be happy to sail again with a vaccine. However, 17 percent won’t return.
—75 percent of non-cruisers would consider a river cruise, but 14 percent of existing river cruisers say they won’t return to the water.
—52 percent of those surveyed cited the “reassurance of having someone to help if needed” or “my agent helped me get a refund” as reasons for booking with an agent.
—More than nine out of every 10 of those surveyed (93 percent) say full COVID-19 coverage in travel insurance is essential.
The report found that financial security, flexible cancellation arrangements and health and safety reassurance are the biggest influences on this market’s choice of travel company, while destinations will be chosen according to their COVID rating, flight frequency, access to medical facilities and the quarantine rules on return to the UK.
Discussing the survey’s findings, Debbie Marshall, managing director of Silver Travel Advisor, said: ““With its cancellations and challenges over refunds, the past year has highlighted the value of booking through a travel agent. The reassurance of having an agent to act as intermediary if things go wrong, as well as the advice and expertise they offer, is what seems to have driven up the number of people saying they would book with an agent.”
A Note on Methodology: Silver Travel Advisor is an advice and reviews site for over-50s. Its findings were based on three surveys of registered users last year, in May, July and November, plus a poll of older customers of Advantage Travel Partnership agents in January 2021. Six out of 10 respondents were aged 60-69; 75 percent were retired; and two in three were “broadly in good health.”
Number 3. “Hunger” for travel shows up in IHG survey of 2,000 people. In addition to the hunger, Britons seem to manifest degrees of anxiety and impatience as the calendar tells us that the peak travel season is not that far off. Check out the following findings from a recently released survey by IHG Hotels & Resorts.
—More than half (57 percent) of Brits have already rebooked, or plan to rebook, cancelled holidays, according to new research.
—Fifty-eight percent of UK residents have cancelled three or more breaks in 2020 including family holidays and travel for work.
—Family holidays and visiting loved ones are at the top of the travel wish lists for 2021.
—Forty percent of those surveyed said that 2020 was the longest they have ever gone without a trip and almost half (49 percent) think that holidays have positive impact on physical and mental health.
—Thirty-eight percent of those who travel for work say that business travel improves their working mood and makes them more motivated.
—Before the pandemic began to afflict the world of travel, the average adult would have a holiday or mini break every four months, with almost half (47 percent) feeling it’s important to have something to look forward to.
—Still, almost half (43 percent) said they plan to delay traveling until the vaccine is more widely and easily available.
Commenting on the findings, Karin Sheppard, senior vice-president and managing director for Europe at IHG Hotels & Resorts, said: “With so many looking forward to rebooking missed experiences, whether it’s travelling to spend time with family, a trip away with friends, or travelling for work—it’s evident that there’s a hunger for human connection again.”
Number 4. Are British travelers online holiday searches similar to the pre-pandemic environment?
Looking at a just released set of results from a Sojern European survey with a UK tilt, Travel Weekly posted a series of takes on the report conducted by the San Francisco -based company known for its high-tech travel search tools and solutions. The research for this endeavor was based on more than 350 million traveler profiles and billions of travel intent signals across Europe. Some notes provided by TW included the following.
—The UK ranks second among European outbound markets searching for summer holidays on the continent – and the rates reflect pre-pandemic levels.
—Nearly 25 percent of European searches for summer holidays were from France, followed by the UK at 19 percent and Italy at 12 percent This pattern has not changed much in comparison to 2019. It also found a “significant shift” towards longer trip durations than in 2019.
—Even so, the report pointed out how inbound travel to the UK has been hit by the tightening of border restrictions.
—Also, travelers from France, the UK and Italy were showing the highest levels of regional travel intent for this summer. Almost 60 percent of regional summer flight searches in 2019 were made by France, Italy and the UK, with about 55 percent of travel intent comes from the same three origin countries.”
—Sojern speculated that the longer trip durations “could reflect the fact that many have not taken a trip abroad in a long time due to the pandemic, or have holiday carried over from work”.
—In 2019, 69 percent of hotel stays were being planned for up to three days. This duration has decreased to 37 percent. Meanwhile, trips of four days or more have almost doubled in popularity from 31 percent to 61 percent.
HODGE PODGE: Appointments & Changes
Nicole Rogers has been named executive vice president and chief sales officer of SF Travel (the San Francisco Travel Association) effective March 1. Rogers will succeed Tom David, who held the role for three years ending last October, according to his LinkedIn profile, and is now a regional vice president of sales and distribution for Marriott International. Rogers has lived in the Bay Area for more than 30 years. She has worked for Pier 39’s Blue & Gold fleet. She also directed sales and marketing for the Cartwright Hotel with the Kimpton Group and worked for several years for Embassy Suites by Hilton.
Long time receptive tour operator, event specialist and more, Sue Arko (left), is turning over the reins of her Free Spirit Vacations and Events in Gilbert, Arizona to business colleague Suzanne Hagberg. Free Spirit Vacations, the tour operator business, was part Arko & Associates, and the company has been around for more than 25 years. Arko announced the move via social media that, on July 1, 2021, Hagberg will be the company’s new owner. Before joining up with Arko, Hagberg was vice president of Detours for some four years. Prior to that, she was director of marketing for five years at Saguaro Lake in Mesa, Arizona.
Jayne O’Brien is JetBlue’s new head of marketing and loyalty, responsible for the airline’s brand, marketing and advertising, e-commerce, TrueBlue® loyalty program, as well as its onboard product. Previously, O’Brien served as senior vice president of global brands at Intercontinental Hotel Group; managing director, USA for Scenic–Luxury Cruises & Tours; and chief marketing officer for Dubai Properties Group, part of Dubai Holding. Her professional background also includes extensive airline industry experience from an 18-year career with British Airways in a number of operations and marketing leadership positions in the Americas and Europe, culminating in the role of Head of Global Brand & UK Marketing
Katie Conway has been named director of marketing at Global Travel Alliance. Conway joins the company following a brief tenure freelancing. Previously, she director & international group sales director for Visit Pittsburg for three years. Prior to that she served for five years with Pittsburgh Public Theater, lastly as its director of education & outreach.
Brenda Hill was recently named assistant director at Visit Beaver County (Pa.), which is in the Greater Pittsburgh area. Previously, she served for more than 14 years with Visit Pittsburgh, lastly as vice president, destination services. Prior to that, she worked for 10 years in sales management positions for several hotels.
In the UK, ex-British Airways executive Sara Dunham has been named to head up the travel division of The Midcounties Co-operative. With the title of chief officer–travel and leisure services, she has responsibility for the Co-operative Travel business including 78 branches and websites, the Co-op Holidays tour operation, 165 Personal Travel Agents and more than 140 members of the Co-operative Travel Consortium. She replaces former chief retail officer for specialist business Alistair Rowland, who left Midcounties to become CEO of the Co-operative Travel Consortium member Blue Bay Travel. Dunham has close to 20 years’ experience in the travel industry, with 15 years at British Airways across its airline and tour operating divisions. More recently she has worked on strategic projects for Saga Group, including within its travel businesses.
Paris-based UFI, the global association of the exhibition industry, has appointed Marie-Laure Bellon as its next chief operating officer. Currently the CEO and General Manager at French exhibition organizer Eurovet, she will join UFI on March 1st, and work out of the organization’s headquarters in Paris. Marie-Laure Bellon joins UFI from Eurovet, a leading trade show organizer for lingerie and swimwear, and a subsidiary of Comexposium and the French Knitting and Lingerie Federation. At Eurovet, she has held various senior executive positions over the years. These roles involved the strategic positioning and restructuring of the business, launching new activities in Asia and the United States.
Julien Houdebine has been named sales and marketing director for Corsair airline, a French carrier that serves several U.S. and Canadian cities. The company is based in Rungis, just outside Paris, France. Houdebine previously held the position of network, alliances and revenue director. He is now responsible for the entire sales and marketing perimeter, and thus manages the sales, digital marketing and customer experience, revenue management, pricing, program and freight teams. Houdebine began his career within the Air France-KLM group. He has held various positions in Revenue Management and Network, medium-haul and long-haul. In 2013, he was appointed director of long-haul economic performance. He joined Corsair in January 2016.
The Avis Budget Group has announced the appointment of Martin Gruber as its vice president, commercial. The move comes as a part of the company’s reorganization of its international leadership team. Gruber has been with the company for more than 20 years. For the past nine years, he has led the company’s central European business.
Klaus Förster is the new managing director of the travel agency chain TVG and RTK’s in-house consolidator, RTK Ticketplus. Förster follows Heiko Pieczka, who is to concentrate more on the self-distribution of RT-Reisen. Förster, who has been with Reiseland since 1998 and was most recently responsible for controlling at the RTK Group and Reiseland, will be responsible for the finances of the two RTK subsidiaries. He will continue his previous activities in personal union. Birgit Aust continues to be responsible for the conceptual orientation and the operative business as managing director. At RTK Ticketplus, the other managing director position is Maren Exel.
Jet2holidays, the UK’s second largest tour operator according to the number of Abta licenses held, has expanded its trade team with the appointment of two new sales executives. Sharon Wilson (left) will cover the operator’s Scotland and Cumbria region, while Michelle Thake will take on Jet2holidays’ south east and Stansted catchment. The pair will work in collaboration with independent agents to help them market, promote and sell Jet2holidays packages to increase sales and grow their businesses. Wilson started her career as an agent before spending 25 years working for Royal Caribbean, including 17 years in the group’s sales team covering Scotland and Ireland. Prior to her move to Jet2holidays, she spent seven years working as the group’s sales and brand trainer in the UK.
Roman Townsend has left his position as director of media relations and corporate affairs at Hotelbeds. After five years with the company, Townsend is starting a PR consultancy focused on the B2B travel sector. He is well-known in the tourism and hospitality sectors, having served as the chief spokesperson for the Palma de Mallorca-based Hotelbeds as the company went through a busy period of acquisition, growth and reorganization. Before his tenure at Hotelbeds, Townsend was briefly the head of communications for Vueling Airlines and, before that, he was senior manager, corporate communications for the Amadeus IT Group.
Mitsi Goulias is Visit Florida‘s new public relations in Brazil. With over 20 years of career in PR, media relations, corporate communication and marketing, she joins the team of Marcelo Kaiser at Aviareps, Visit Florida’s official representative in the country. Goulias served for almost a decade as press and public relations manager for Visit Britain, the UK’s tourism promotion agency. Another major global destination in Mitsi’s curriculum is New York. Between 2019 and 2020, she held the position of press and public relations manager for NYC & Company, along with the Interamerican Network team.
Pleasant Holidays and its luxury brand, Journese, have announced the appointment of Chris Ames as their new destination marketing manager, Mexico, Central & South America. Ames, a travel industry professional for more than 20 years, has extensive experience with the destinations as well as in the tour operator and package vacation market, including roles in product, sales and marketing.
As destination marketing manager, Ames is responsible for developing and executing sales and marketing strategies with a variety of suppliers. These include resort brands, tourist boards and visitor bureaus, activity vendors, airlines and more for the Mexico, Central and South America product portfolios for both brands.
Helen McCabe-Young has been named senior vice president, marketing, for the Virtuoso travel company, a large global agency with 50 locations internationally, and also sells U.S. product, especially in California. McCabe-Young initially joined the organization in July 2020 as the acting senior vice president of marketing. She previously held senior executive positions with Kerzner International, including One&Only Resorts and Atlantis The Palm, Dubai. She also brings more than 12 years’ experience in the cruise sector, having served as vice president, marketing for Silversea Cruises and prior to that, helping build the Princess Cruises brand while with ad agency, Campbell-Ewald.
POSTED INDUSTRY JOBS
From SearchWide Global:
—Visit San Antonio is looking for a new president and CEO. More details here.
—The Explore Ashville Convention & Visitors Bureau has an opening for a new vice president of sales. More details here.
—The Bermuda Tourism Authority is searching for someone to fill the post of Chief Executive Officer. More details here.
—The Washington County (Ore.) Visitors Association is seeking a new president & CEO. Click here for more information.
—There is an opening for a CEO at Experience Olympia & Beyond in Washington State. For more information, click here.
—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.
—The Valdosta-Lowndes County Conference Center & Tourism Authority, located in Valdosta, Georgia, has an opening or a conference sales director. For more information, click here.
—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.
—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 240 jobs listed, including a fair number in the travel, tourism and related industries. A sampler of what to expect is below.
—Frederick, Maryland is searching for an executive director of tourism. Salary listed is $125,000-$150,000 a year. Details here.
—There is an opening for a travel specialist at Hospitality Destination Vacations, which is based in Anchorage, Alaska. Find more details here.
—There is an opening for a Salt River Tourism Specialist with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Scottsdale, Arizona. Find more details here.
—Gloucester County, Virginia is looking for a tourism coordinator to perform work in all aspects of a comprehensive tourism program for Gloucester County. More details here.
—The Thames River Heritage Park in New London, Connecticut, has an opening for a waterfront and group tour coordinator. This is a part-time job. 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.
—The National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, has an opening for a director of marketing and communications. More details here.
—Caesars Entertainment is searching for a vice president of entertainment and attractions marketing. Details here.
—There is an opening for a national tourism director, cruises & events, at Hornblower Cruises and Events. Details here.
—New York City & Company has posted an opening for an influencer marketing coordinator. More details here.
Have a job to offer in the travel and tourism industry? Let us know and we’ll post your notice—no cost to you.