Hot Off The Press
Agents on Exotic Holidays' India incentive famil are adjusting to the 32° temperatures and getting a taste of traditional dishes. After arriving into Chennai on Malaysian Airlines service from Auckland via Kuala Lumpur, the group was immediatel immersed into the culture of the subcontinent. Peshawri, an Pakastani/Afghan inspired restaurant located at the ITC Chennai, offers a glimpse into a way of eating westerners are not quite comfortable with - no cutlery.
Donna Harrison from House of Travel, Hastings says the eating with your hands dining was a bit of a surprise, but fantastic. ‘The entrée of tandoori chicken and prawns to the slow cooked shredded lamb and coriander paste, was delicious. We mopped up the black lentil dahl, which was simmered for 20 hours in cream and spices, with warm naan bread. Heaven.’
On any Saturday evening, locals head to the beach for family time. Turned into a mini fun fair with kiddies rides, food stalls, horse rides and shooting galleries, the beach is considered a great way to for extended families to have a night out at a reasonable cost (an ice cream costs 15 rupee, or 35 cents).
The local children all wanted their photos taken, so there was no shortage of willing subjects. No one actually swims in the water. It has an undertow, according to the locals and the waves dump hard (only three percent of the population know how to swim and there are no lifeguards on duty).
Sally Pepermans is the in-market representative for New Caledonia Tourism New Zealand. The appointment follows New Caledonia Tourism’s decision to assign destination representation and marketing agency, GTI Tourism, to lead the promotion of the destination in this market.
Pepermans commences the fulltime sales and marketing account manager role, based in Auckland, from 27 May, 2015 after relocating from New Caledonia where she currently resides.
New Caledonia Tourism sales and marketing account director, Caroline Brunel, says that through Peperman’s previous position as sales manager for New Zealand and Australia markets with the Starwood Group, she has acquired extensive industry experience combined with in-depth destination and market knowledge.
‘New Caledonia is well placed to further expand on visitation in 2015, with new investment such as the Hilton and Sheraton brands in the destination, Aircalin’s improved access and, the strong NZ dollar, all opening up opportunities for future growth,’ Brunel says. She says ambitious targets have been set to ensure that tourism growth continues.
‘Following last year’s success, we will be pulling out all the stops this year, to keep the momentum going and ensure that 2015 is another strong year for New Caledonia out of New Zealand.’
Air New Zealand will fly to Houston, Texas, it was announced this morning. The airline will fly its refitted B777-200 aircraft between Auckland and Houston up to five times a week from December this year. Tickets will be on sale within the next month.
Air New Zealand CEO, Christopher Luxon says the service will not only open up the state of Texas but also popular nearby tourist states such as Louisiana and Florida. The new route is set become the fastest way for Kiwis to get to popular east coast and mid west destinations such as New York and Chicago.
Asian river cruising is expected to be the growth product out of New Zealand for Avalon Waterways in 2016, according to Troy Ackerman, general manager - New Zealand at Globus Family of Brands Australasia who hosted Auckland wholesalers and media to the 2016 brochure launch at Cibo in Parnell on Wednesday.
‘Vietnam and Cambodia is established and we have the new 18 suite Avalon Siem Riep cruising Ho Chi Minh to Siem Riep,’ says Ackerman. ‘Myanmar is now coming into its own and later this year the Avalon Myanmar starts cruising the Irrawaddy.
For Europe, Avalon has two eight and nine day cruises through Belgium in 2016 - the smaller ships of 64 cabins able to navigate the smaller waterways. Highlights of the nine day Enchanting Belgium cruise include the medieval city of Ghent and the battlefields of Ypres; price is from $3300pp twin share (includes a 10% earlybird discount).
Both Belgium itineraries offer a special beer themed departure on 12 April 2016 with onboard tastings and lectures hosted by brewing experts. It’s just one of a series of special interest cruises offered by Avalon on topiecs such as food and wine, art, history, golf, wellness and music.
Egypt is back in brochure with the Avalon Mayfair cruising the Nile from Cairo to Aswan.
Two Panorama ships have been added for 2016 – Avalon Passion and Avalon Imagery II – bringing the number of suite ships to 12 (out of a fleet of 16).
Ackerman reminds the trade that ‘there’s always a new ship and new capacity.’ The Panorama ships, introduced in 2011, show a smarter use of space by removing the balconies and replacing with floor to ceiling windows 11ft wide with a seven foot wide opening.
‘River cruising in Europe is booming. Over the last five years our numbers out of New Zealand have doubled, our gross sales have tripled, and we’ve seen 20% growth year on year in numbers.’
To mark the launch of the new programme, Avalon is offering earlybird discounts of up to 15% off its 2016 river cruises in France and up to 10% off all other European river cruises (valid to 30 June 2015 or until sold out).
The Starwood Expo reaches New Zealand for the first time on 25 May. An annual fixture in Australia, the expo will be held at the Maritime Museum in Auckland and will follow a ‘one on one’ format, where trade partners can meet with hotel representatives.
Marieke Mendez, director, global sales New Zealand for Starwood, says the expo is ideal for travel agents, travel management companies, professional conference organisers, wholesalers and brokers. Registration will start by the end of the month.
Partners will be able to choose between two sessions – afternoon (3pm to 5pm) or evening with cocktail function (5.30pm – 7.30pm).
‘This is an opportunity to get updates from hotel representatives from around the world. We will have representatives from Australia, South Pacific, Hawaii, Beverly Hills, China, Indonesia (Bali), Malaysia and possibly other destinations.’
Mendez says agents and event organisers will receive the latest news from the properties, including new openings. ‘Guests will also be able to learn about our loyalty programme for travel professionals, SPG Pro, and our different brands. Of course, some great prizes (stays plus flights) will be given during the day, so people should bring plenty of business cards to go in the draw.’
Expressions of interest to
Meantime, Starwood representatives from Australia and the Pacific spread themselves around mid April with functions and workshops for business events organisers, wholesalers and corporate travel agents at various venues in Auckland.
The strength of the New Zealand market and the new Air New Zealand connections to Buenos Aires are two contributing factors to Tucan Travel’s appointment of a New Zealand representative.
Penny Henderson is now business development manager with Tucan Travel and will be responsible for educating agents on both the company and its ‘core’ destinations of Central and South America. (The company does also operate in Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia – particularly Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and Japan.)
Todd Barry, general manager of Tucan, says the company has previously been represented out of Australia with a rep visiting regularly from across the Tasman.
‘We decided we needed someone on the ground here, someone who can go to agents and also be the South American expert for destination training.’
Henderson says a lot of agents still have not been to South America. ‘Some of the product knowledge can be a bit ragged and there is not a lot of South American presence here.’
Barry says the company operates adventure tours, overland tours and tailor made experiences.
‘Tailor made is definitely a growth area for us. It is for people who want to trave independently and choose what they want to do, but still have everything organised for them.’
Feejee Experience is now using Robinson Crusoe Island for its first overnight stop, a change from the previously used Mango Bay.
Brad Rutherford, group general manager, says the change is detailed in the Feejee Experience’s new brochure that has been launched this month.
‘The boat (transfer) and accommodation at the island are included in all of our accommodation inclusive passes and this brings the total number of islands that Feejee Experience visits to five.’
Rutherford says the company has introduced a new pass called ‘Feejee Five’, which incorporates Viti Levu, Robinson Crusoe, Beachcomber, Mantaray and Coral View.
Travel agents may need to start warming up their vocal chords for Royal Carribean's 2016 product launch August. ‘A venue is still to be confirmed, as well as the date, but the theme will be New Zealand Has Talent,' hints sales manager NZ for Royal Caribbean International, Mark Kinchley this week. 'Details of auditions will be out to agents across the country shortly and we will be asking for talents to be posted online to a website we are setting up. Voting will also be online and the top five will come to Auckland for the final judging at the August launch.’ Dust those tap dancing shoes off!
There she goes...
Mark Kinchley gave members of the industry a heads up about the theme when they were invited to farewell the Celebrity Solstice earlier this week from a suite at the Hilton Hotel. Following the completion of her third Australasian season, the Solstice set sail on its final departure for 2015. Kinchley, says this year was another record season with double digit growth recorded for cruises ex New Zealand.
‘2016 is on track for the same phenomenal growth, which many of our New Zealand agents can take credit for. The forward bookings are fantastic.’ Celebrity Solstice is the highest rated ship based out of New Zealand and Kinchley adds that the Hawaii bound ship has approximately 300 Kiwis, 1300 Australians and a mix of other international guests.
Looking forward to the 2015/16 season from October, Kinchley says the arrival of the Explorer of the Seas and the inaugural visit of Azamara Quest in January 2016 are both testament to the interest of cruises in this region and the growing local cruise market.
HOT Events is back in Auckland, opening an office to be headed by account manager Jo Meredith. Although the head office is based in Christchurch, a substantial number of HOT Events’ key clients are Auckland based.
Meredith has previously worked as a professional conference organiser for Event Dynamics, sales manager for the SKYCITY Entertainment Group and as an event manager for The Edge (now Auckland Live).
HOT Events is the conference and incentive event division of the House of Travel Group.