Hot Off The Press
The government’s immigration policy U-turn is ringing staff-shortage alarm bells for Hospitality New Zealand and Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA).
Under the changes, those coming to New Zealand under the skilled migrant category will have to have 160 points before getting residency, rather than 140.
The number of people allowed entry under the family category will be more than halved from 5500 to 2000.
Hospitality New Zealand says the changes are concerning, particularly if it hikes up pressure attracting skilled chefs to the country.
‘Globally there is a massive shortage of chefs, so we are not only competing with the New Zealand industry we are also competing with the rest of the world,’ says Hospitality New Zealand chief executive officer Vicki Lee
‘At a time when domestic and international visitor numbers are increasing, the quality and availability of our hospitality and tourism product is vital and a key ingredient is good staff.’
TIA chief executive also expressed dismay at the move, highlighting a report that 90% of chefs approved for residency in New Zealand would miss out under the new rules, along with 81% of restaurant managers.
‘Where are these essential workers now supposed to come from? We agree New Zealanders should be first in line for jobs in the hospitality and tourism sectors, but there simply isn’t an adequate supply in many parts of the country.’
Research commissioned by TIA shows the problem is going to get worse.
‘By 2025 the number of chefs working in New Zealand needs to increase by at least 6200. If the government is going to reduce the supply of trained chefs from overseas, it needs to do more to encourage young New Zealanders into the vocation.’
Roberts says the standard and importance of industry training needs to be raised, adding tourism and hospitality courses are often used as a ‘dumping ground’ for less academically able students.
Managing corporate travel is far more about personalising the experience than it ever has been before, and that can generate its own challenges in terms of duty of care, last week’s New Zealand Aviation & Corporate Travel Summit at The Langham, Auckland has heard.
Tony Carter, managing director Australia and New Zealand with Amadeus, says changing trends such as ‘bleisure’ – business travellers adding leisure time to their trips – can cause complications for companies and their travel management companies (TMCs). ‘What can you do if the traveller books a leisure add-on outside of company policy and not through the TMC? You really don’t know where they are and that becomes a challenge in terms of duty of care.’ He says Amadeus refers to current corporate travel as ‘managed travel 3.0’.
‘Managed travel is evolving. Some of us remember the days of managed travel 1.0, when the only way to book was through the TMC and the TMC only had the GDS and all air travel was on full service carriers.
‘Now with the internet, there is a full range of aggregators, there are low cost carriers, alternate ways to book, self booking tools and corporates building their own portals – they’re just some of the changes.’
He says to meet the changing market TMCs have had to start offering consulting services, reporting systems and other ways to add value and revenue and that many of the changes in corporate travel are being led by millennials joining the workforce.
‘We talk about the millennial traveller and how their expectations are different.’
Carter says modern travellers are used to generated content such as TripAdvisor and are familiar with products such as Trip Advisor and Airbnb. He says a lot of people are taking the opportunity to book outside the company policy – often referred to as leakage. ‘They are not booking through the TMC or the travel programme, so again that’s a challenge for companies’ duty of care. We don’t know who they are staying with, or who they are travelling with.’
He points out that the way agents can ensure these people see value in the TMC offering is by using technology around personalisation. ‘Look at these travellers’ individual characteristics and layer the corporate profile and policies over these. Then look at the travellers’ past trips, incorporate user generated content and combine all that with business intelligence and analytics.’
Time is running out for those thinking of joining the helloworld network.
Speaking at the company’s Bound by Blue frontliners’ conference 2016, in Wellington this weekend, chief executive officer Simon McKearney says the doors will remain open for only a little while longer.
‘We have been very welcoming to businesses joining the helloworld group. Those doors will close sooner than later and then competition begins. I can tell you being a member of helloworld will be very different from being a competitor of helloworld, he adds.
McKearney expects the cut off date to be the year’s end.
Bullish talk of growth, along with promises of strong support for the company’s franchisees, were key messages delivered by McKearney to about 300 franchisees and preferred partners attending the Bound by Blue-themed conference.
‘From 14 February 14 to the end of September we have achieved 18% growth from our franchisees, which is remarkable in a relatively small increasing industry,’ says McKearney.
On market share, the addition of the World Travellers Group into the associate group in September tipped helloworld into second, just ahead of House of Travel, he adds.
‘We now sit 2.3% behind Flight Centre. If I was a betting man, that’s a target I know we will be looking to chase down in the next few years.’
The weekend conference highlighted the growing armoury of tools available in the branded network, including helloworld’s new and exclusive Fly Buys points redemption and the newly launched Peak Learning Academy.
helloworld’s new agent booking platform, Resworld, was also profiled. McKearney says Resworld – a game-changing portal which aggregates the travel agent workflow and brings all booking functions into one platform – is cutting edge and massively increases consultant productivity.
McKearney also presented the new online booking tool which will be added to the helloworld website in early 2017. ‘All online bookings and revenue will belong to the franchisees, with customers selecting a store to look after their booking offline’.
He says the tool ‘is totally unique in the market, perfectly blending online with bricks and mortar, plus the tool is available for the stores’ individual microsites, allowing them to feature their own online offering’.
By Aleisha Moore in Vanuatu
Bauerfield Airport’s runway has officially been declared safe following the completion of numerous short-term repairs late April.
The announcement follows controversy surrounding Air New Zealand’s true intentions for pulling its services from the destination after a recent request by the airline to fly a charter flight full of Ni-Vanuatu seasonal workers into Port Vila prior to the completion of repairs. Jason Rakau, chief executive officer of Airports Vanuatu Limited (AVL), says he doesn’t wish to speculate on Air New Zealand’s movements but he can assure the industry the runway is now up to scratch. ‘It was about time for it to get done and I think this has been known for a while now. Moving forward we hope that what we have done is good enough and I think that we’ve effectively addressed all of the safety concerns these
The work was done by New Zealand contractor Fulton Hogan, and included service enrichment spray treatment (SEST) application to stop the unraveling of aggregates or rocks from the runway; the milling out and patching over of ruts or dents in the runway; and the application of crack sealing to deal with ageing concrete. Rakau says now that the work is complete and engineers have signed off on it, AVL is inviting airlines to inspect it themselves to ensure their concerns have been addressed. ‘I have met with Virgin Australia and they’ve already done their inspection so we’re just waiting for them to provide us with a report about that. Informally from Virgin we’re hearing we’ve addressed their areas of concern, although an official announcement from them hasn’t been released yet, but we’re expecting that they should be flying back here sometime later in May.’
Air New Zealand is also currently performing inspections.
Following on from the short-term repairs, Rakau says the next step is a more permanent fix with a full overlay of the runway. ‘We’re getting a very strong commitment from the government that this needs to be done so that we can get it sorted once and for all and extend the runway’s life for probably another 10 to 15 years or so. The current works are short-term repair works that should last one to two years, but major works are still in the pipeline and we’re actually in design stages at the moment but an official announcement regarding that should be released by the government some time soon.’
Rakau says that for the time being AVL has made sure that it has acquired the required equipment needed to continue maintenance and monitoring all the concerned areas. ‘Any new cracks for example that arise, we own the machine ourselves and we know how to operate it to ensure that we close all those cracks down, so we’ll have a very vigorous maintenance programme in place to make sure that daily inspections happen and we’re addressing all the areas of concern until the major works get done.’
Trade to help build consumer confidence
Air Vanuatu and Vanuatu Tourism Office hosted twelve travel agents from around New Zealand to the Pacific destination late April in an effort to boost consumer confidence in the New Zealand market. The famil was the first major retail consumer activity since Air New Zealand and Virgin Airways pulled out of the destination earlier this year.
Jonas George, Air Vanuatu, says the famil was an opportunity to give reassurance as well as showcase the destination. ‘The main aim of this famil is bringing the agents over, getting them a firsthand look at the runway to show that the emergency work has been done now, and just to reassure them that it’s safe to fly into Vanuatu at the moment. I think the biggest job for us is getting that assurance into the New Zealand mind frame that they can be comfortable enough and be assured that it is safe to fly into Vanuatu. And it doesn’t matter if they fly with Air Vanuatu or Air New Zealand as long as they have that mentality of safety in mind so that they can make that choice to come back to Vanuatu.’
George is urging the trade to get behind Vanuatu as a destination that relies heavily on tourism. 'Vanuatu is pretty much dependent on tourism, it’s a big money earner for the country as well as offering employment.'
Allan Kalfabun, Vanuatu Tourism Office, says regaining consumer trust is the biggest priority for the destination right now. ‘It’s obviously been a very challenging time for us the last 12 months in terms of Cyclone Pam and also the runway status that made Air New Zealand pull their services followed by Virgin Airways, but it is getting better. Now it’s all about getting that consumer confidence back, obviously we cant compete with Air New Zealand, it’s such a strong brand, so we’ve just got to look at avenues that we can pick pocket and try and convert numbers.’
Kalfabun says the destination is still limited in terms of its inventory following Cyclone Pam, but is excited at the prospect of two major resorts coming back online shortly. ‘Holiday Inn is opening 1 June and Iririki Island Resort will be up and running 6 May, and that roughly equates to 20% of our inventory on Efate so we can’t wait for them to be open again.’
Vanuatu Tourism Office just last week launched a trade website in New Zealand dedicated solely to the New Zealand market including New Zealand prices, specials, market information, self famil programmes, and the $50 trade airfare working with Air Vanuatu.
Re-opening to reveal Iririki’s ugraded look
The ‘new’ Iririki Island Resort & Spa, Vanuatu will hold a grand re-opening event on Friday 6 May. The resort has had over $20 million dollars spent on its facilities, buildings and gardens.
New Zealand’s representative for Iririki Island Resort & Spa, Gaye Wood of Regency Tourism Marketing visited the resort recently and says Iririki’s waterfront and garden farés, villas and apartments have all been renovated, and stocked with new furnishing and linens. ‘New room types have been included to enhance it’s current range, offering new options for couples and families.’
'The new Iririki Spa has been built at the highest point on the island to offer breathtaking harbour views and an extensive menu of luxurious treatments, just right for a spot of pampering. Dedicated massage rooms provide many options; relaxation, deep tissue, Swedish, Hot Stone or rejuvenating foot massages,' says Wood.
The Jewel Casino is within the existing Watermark Restaurant, and will provide hospitality and gaming services including four main gaming floor tables, two VIP private area tables and 20 slot machines. Complementing these will be a jazz / blues adult lounge, VIP Lounge, and karaoke / sports lounge. The casino will include blackjack tables actually in the shallow beach water and a double ended American Roulette.
The resort has converted to solar power, upgraded IT Systems, with wifi access across most of the island and improved transport with a new ferry and island buggies.
Tourism offices in short-haul destinations are keeping a close watch on sharp fares to the USA, saying they are likely to have at least a short-term impact.
However, they are also emphasising that airfares and packages to their own destinations are as competitive as they have ever been.
Jacquie Carson, Vanuatu Tourism Office New Zealand representative, says she is sure the North American fares will have some impact on the short-haul market.
‘These prices will definitely make people think about doing that ‘holiday of a lifetime’ now.
‘However, the prices for short-haul holidays are also pretty amazing at present with some fabulous holiday packages currently in the market with a long-travel period – some through to February 2017.’
Wayne Deed, NZ regional director with Tourism Fiji, says he is ‘naturally concerned’,
‘However, the travel period for the cheapest fares is from 15 October to 15 December onwards, which is not our busiest season for arrivals. That said, it’s obviously generating a lot of interest for the USA and at that pricing it’s definitely in our competitive set of destinations.’
Sally Holyer, international director New Zealand with Tourism and Events Queensland, says the market is probably the most competitive she can remember. But she says Queensland is part of that competitive mix – especially with the entry of AirAsia X and $99 fares between Auckland and Gold Coast.
‘That’s together with all the existing services and competitive fares. The New Zealand dollar is still relatively strong against the Australian and we are still growing out of New Zealand.’
Holyer points out visitor numbers, length of stay and spend out of New Zealand have all shown recent increases.
Meanwhile, Jenny Aitken, country manager New Zealand with Tourism Australia, adds the destination is always working to provide new reasons and value propositions to New Zealand travellers. ‘Competitive situations always exist but don’t change our awareness of the needs and desires of the market here. We certainly don’t take our current volume of 1.3 million visitors for granted.’
Cheap fares, exchange rates cause spike in US bookings
Short life fares, sharper pricing in general and the increased market activity around North American services is leading to spikes in sales and ongoing strong activity – with wholesalers reporting double digit growth to the destination.
House of Travel’s commercial director Brent Thomas says HOT’s air sales yesterday were 40% higher than usual. ‘We’re attributing a significant amount to the release of such strong pricing from American Airlines,’ he says.
‘The intense market reaction to AA’s $799 fares shows just how aggressive their pricing is. While we understand that the $799 is an introductory price, we’re interested to see how such competitive pricing will affect pricing to other Pacific rim destinations, given the perception it may raise in consumers’ minds when planning their holidays.’
Thomas says the New Zealand dollar is increasing even further against the American dollar, rising 4% in the last two days. ‘We’re anticipating this and the extremely competitive airfare ricing will fuel demand for travel to America and Canada.’
Sean Berenson, Flight Centre general manager product, says ‘ever-popular’ USA route has certainly seen a lot of movement in the last six months, with the new carriers entering the market and the marked decrease in pricing.
‘This has helped to drive an increase in interest for travel stateside – already this year Flight Centre has seen almost 20% growth in bookings to North America.
‘The accessibility and affordability has seen a shift in the type of trips Kiwis are doing to the States, with fare prices in line with travel to Asia its now an even more viable option for family holidays and Air New Zealand’s route into Houston has been a popular route for our Cruiseabout customers to access the Caribbean.
‘This shift in travel behaviour has seen a real increase in earning potential with land add-ons and packages, Kiwis are wanting to get out and see more of what the States has to offer.’
Air New Zealand will launch direct flights to Manila in the Philippines from December. The new year round service will operate three times a week using Boeing 767-300 aircraft with a flight time of around 10 and a half hours in each direction.
Air New Zealand chief executive officer Christopher Luxon says the airline expects the service to be popular at both ends of the route. ‘The Filipino population in New Zealand has more than tripled since 2001 and is now the third largest Asian ethnic group, with around 40,000 Filipinos resident in New Zealand. The number of visitors from the Philippines is also continuing to grow rapidly, up more than 20% in the past year alone so we’re anticipating that demand for this service will be steady in both directions.
‘As the only non-stop service between New Zealand and the Philippines, our flight will be quicker and more convenient for travellers than the fastest current option which flies indirect, potentially saving up to two and a half hours each way,’ says Luxon.
Budget airline AirAsia X made its official daily entry into New Zealand yesterday with a promise to form a solid relationship with those at the coalface of the travel trade.
Airline chief executive officer Benyamin Ismail, speaking at a function at Auckland Airport after the inaugural flight, says the company was looking to further bolster ties with New Zealand travel agents. ‘We are a FIT organisation, but we also rely on agents. They will be the winner for us and so we want to be there by assisting them with attractive fares.’
Ismail says the airline opened up around 120 routes for outbound travel through Asia, giving agents a lot more choice for clients using Malaysia as a travel hub – a point hammered home by the airline’s chairman Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.
Ismail and the chairman also agreed the airline would be looking to operating services from Christchurch and Wellington, but that would be down the track. ‘By nature, it takes about a year for a route to settle in. So the focus will be on this route for now,’ says Aziz.
Air Asia X will connect Kuala Lumpur to Auckland via the Gold Coast. The initial flight had a 95 percent load factor, and the aircraft was welcomed to the airport with a water salute and traditional Powhiri ceremony.
Minister for communications Amy Adams, chief executive Auckland International Airport Adrian Littlewood, and HE Dato’ Lim Kim Eng, High Commissioner of Malaysia to New Zealand attended the event.
Last nght’s Funds for Fiji event in Auckland illustrated just how much the trade in New Zealand gets behind and supports the nation’s tourism sector, says Tourism Fiji chairman Truman Bradley. He says tourism receipts in total increased by 11% in 2015 from F$1.4 billion to F$1.55b.
‘Tourism is the backbone of the Fijian economy and (visitors from) New Zealand increased in value by 16%.’ Bradley was at the event last night, held at Pullman Auckland.
He says that after the ‘devastating event’ of Cyclone Winston there is devastation in one aspect of Fiji and ‘bula as usual’ in another – the after including most of the resorts and other tourism plant. ‘The New Zealand Government and the New Zealand people have joined together to support the rebuild of Fiji.’
He says events like last night’s, which included entertainment, raffles and silent and live auctions, are important for the recovery. But he also emphasised the need for the trade to keep selling Fiji with confidence. ‘Fiji is booked solid right now because of support out of New Zealand and Australia. And that’s what we need.’
Preliminary figures from last night's fundraiser put the money raised at around $40,000.
An eight-strong professional conference organiser famil has been enjoying the sights of New Caledonia. The group arrived on Friday with Aircalin and stayed two nights at the newly refurbished Le Meridien Noumea. They are presently at the Sheraton Deva for another two nights. While in New Caledonia, the group has visited Duck Island, enjoyed a dinner at Noumea Baie des Citrons and went on a Segway tour. The journey north to Sheraton Deva transformed into an Amazing Race when the group also stopped at a market and supermarket for food for a perfect French picnic at Fort Teremba, explored an ANZAC cemetery and enjoyed a drink organised by Sheraton Deva at Turtle Bay. The famil will also take on a glass bottom boat tour, snorkeling and cooking class.
The USA’s National Parks werre a topic of conversation over breakfast today, with about 40 agents mixing with representatives from the Big Island of Hawaii at Rydges in Auckland. Ross Birch, from the Big Island Visitors Bureau says the breakfast is largely to thank the New Zealand trade for its part in ‘a huge double figure increase’ in visitation to the destination last year. ‘Last year we had a 24% increase out of Australasia and New Zealand played a big part in that. W had a really good year – the hotels are in great shape and all of the activity operators are doing really well.’
A key message in 2016 is that The Big Island of Hawaii is ‘at the forefront’ of the United Sates celebration of the 100th anniversary of its National Park System – giving agents extra opportunities to sell the destination. ‘It’s also the 100th anniversary of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, one of the first 50 National Parks in the United States,’ says Birch. ‘Special tours are being organised throughout the year and it is a great opportunity to showcase everything the park has done over the last century.’
The Big Island has five of the state’s nine National Parks. ‘This is the year to get to them,’ says Birch. He adds that Hawaii’s national parks are particularly accessible for New Zealanders because of the Air New Zealand and Hawaiian Airlines services, plus the improved inter-island accessibility.
Fiji’s first mobile clinic dedicated to screening children for rheumatic heart disease (RHD) opened this month, thanks to AccorHotels and charity Cure Kids.
AccorHotels has raised more than $2 million for Cure Kids-led child health initiatives in Fiji over 10 years.
Most of these funds have been raised by AccorHotels Fiji, Australia and New Zealand staff, who have competed in the bi-annual AccorHotels Race to Survive for Cure Kids Fiji.
In the first four days of the clinic opening at Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa on 11 January, more than 400 children from Fijian communities were screened for RHD as part of an ongoing programme assessing the feasibility of a RHD screening system.
David Coombes is Flight Centre (NZ) Ltd’s new managing director.
Coombes, who has been with the company for 15 years, previously spent almost three years in New Zealand between 2011 and 2013 as general manager product. He returns to the business today ready to take the pilot’s seat and will succeed Chris Greive, who announced his departure late last year.
‘Coombsie’, as he is affectionately known, started his career with Flight Centre Travel Group more than 15 years ago as a travel consultant in Brisbane, Australia. He’s since risen through the ranks to his most recent position as senior vice president product in the United States.
Coombes has led multiple teams to global recognition at the FCTG Global Gathering, achieved record business results in NZ and the USA and was the recipient of the FCNZ Directors Award for 2013/2014.
Greive will officially finish at the end of February 2016 after almost two years as managing director. Greive has been with FCTG for more than 30 years, having previously led the New Zealand business from 1990 to 2004. Although Greive officially steps down as managing director he will continue an active involvement with the company in an advisory capacity.
Fiji’s 2016 mega-famil is fully subscribed with about 50 more applicants than can be catered for – proving the ongoing trade interest in the destination, says Tourism Fiji’s NZ regional director Wayne Deed.
‘We had 120 applicants for 70 spots on the six itineraries and basically that happened in a week and a half from when we started advertising.’
Deed says the week long itineraries start on 27 February and on 5 March. They come together for an amazing race and beach party / prize giving in Denarau.
‘We really didn’t need to do a lot of advertising or persuading – we basically went out in the One Minute Memo and put out an electronic direct mail to our Matai database and had a little bit of editorial elsewhere.
‘This proves there is continuing interest in the new products and experiences we are showcasing on these itineraries.’
Deed says the itineraries cover adventure, the Mamanuca Islands, cruise, the Yasawa Islands, Coral Coast, and the north of Fiji.
Meantime the consumer and trade Wedding Show taking place at Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort on the Coral Coast, 19 and 20 March, is gaining momentum in the New Zealand market.
‘We will be taking a group of niche wedding agents up for that,’ says Deed. ‘There has also been interest from consumers and some New Zealand retailers are working on packages so their customer groups can attend the show.’
Air New Zealand’s Air China alliance will allow the airline to grow its China business by 25%, according to Stephen Jones, chief strategy network and alliance, Air New Zealand. Speaking at Friday’s gala dinner celebrating the arrival of the inaugural Air China flight on Thursday evening, Jones said alliances have been the foundation for Air New Zealand’s growth.
‘China is our second largest inbound market and this alliance will allow us to grow out China business by 25%,’ he said. ‘New Zealand had 335,000 Chinese visitors last year, up from 230,000 the year previous – up 30% year on year.
‘With growth comes opportunity, and responsibility to manage the growth sustainably.’
Flight CA783 was greeted on Thursday evening by Paula Bennett, New Zealand Associate Tourism Minister, Len Brown Mayor of Auckland, Qu Guangzhou Charge d’ Affairs Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in New Zealand, Adrian Littlewood chief executive of Auckland Airport, Rui Jie Air China Australia and New Zealand general manager, and Stephen Jones Air New Zealand chief strategy networks and alliances officer.
Under the alliance, Air China operates a daily direct A330-200 service between Auckland and Beijing and Air New Zealand continues to operate daily B787-9 Dreamliner services between Auckland and Shanghai.
The alliance also allows Air New Zealand to tap into 11 codeshare destinations within China as well as offering Air China passengers access to Air New Zealand’s network including domestic New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific Islands and South America.
The growing number of business travellers who extend their trips for some rest and relaxation are providing opportunities for both corporate and leisure travel agents, according to Tracy Greer, regional manager Australasia for the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE).
Greer, who is in New Zealand now, says the trend known as bleisure also provides potential for suppliers, such as tour operators and cruise companies, who could be accessing these people in their down time.
‘It is certainly an increasing trend in the corporate travel word. Employers are more flexible these days. Especially if a traveller has business at the end of the week and employer is likely to say ‘stay there over the weekend if you like, as long as you are back at work on Monday’.
‘There is an opportunity for the leisure side of travel to think more about the business traveller. These people are often wondering what to do if they only have one or two days in a destination (after completing their work commitments).’
ACTE hosted a networking function at the refurbished Bellini Bar, Hilton Auckland last night and Greer says the New Zealand industry can expect to see and hear more from the association. It already has two New Zealanders on the Australasian regional council (Andrew Dale, APX; and Aileen London, Oracle) but only a handful of New Zealand based members, compared with 500 members in Australia.
‘We are focused on education aimed at promoting the corporate travel industry. We have supplier members such as travel management companies, airlines, GDS, and accommodation providers as well as buyer members from small to medium enterprises through to the large buyers such as telecommunication, IT, banks and financial companies, large retailers and industrial companies – really anyone with a dedicated travel programme.’
Growth and introducing a new way of thinking were the key messages from The Travel Brokers (TTB) conference, in the Gold Coast this weekend, says general manager, Brooke Jamieson.
‘We had some great speakers and we plan to build on and take advantage of the knowledge they shared,’ he says.
‘Brokers, Denise Fowler and Edie Swney spoke about their success story, which was inspirational. Keynote speaker, Karen Phillips, author, brand marketer, and successful businessperson, inspired the team with her insightful take on how brokers can grow their ‘empires’ by making a few changes.
‘Without sharing too much, I can confirm that we have developed a new website which will provide greater flexibility and value to our brokers and their customers,’ says Jamieson.
‘It will make it easier for customers to find our brokers and offer more options to customers. We will also be rolling out some new marketing tools and enhancing our internal systems aimed at better supporting the brokers, improving brokers’ productivity and helping them achieve their goals.’
During conference the brokers took part in supplier booth sessions; heard business updates from Brooke Jamieson, TTB and Neil Gestro from Stella; dined poolside at the Sofitel Gold Coast; attended an offsite dinner at Helm Bar & Bistro; had an early start Sunday morning to watch the All Blacks thrash France and rounded off with an awards gala dinner at SkyPoint.
Best supplier representative award, as voted by the brokers - GO Holidays;
Best overall Supplier – GO Holidays
Best unsung hero – Clare Baker, TTB head office;
Best marketer of the year, for their back of the bus campaign - Kylie Davis- Strangwick and Di Cochrane, from Hamilton;
Best new broker, multi (joined Jan 2015) - Kylie Davis-Strangwick and Di Cochrane, from Hamilton;
Best new broker individual - Chris Kavanagh;
Broker with the greatest growth –
Denise Fowler (won tickets on CX to any Asian destination and $2000 Peregrine voucher);Top multi brokerage – Mark Smith; (return tickets on SQ and a seven night Pacific Eden P&O Cruise from Singapore to Thailand and Cambodia)
Top individual brokerage – Jacqui Currall (tickets on NZ to Houston and $1500 travelCube accommodation).
Eighteen High Flyers received $150 in JR Duty Free vouchers: Mark Smith, Jacqui Currall, Vesna Fahn, Andrew Welch, Denise Fowler, Tanya Franklin, Janine Mallon, John Campbell, Pam Hardley, Diane Grigg, Jane Cockburn, and Joanne Devereux, Andrew Prins, Carole Garnham, Kylie Ward, Suzanne Mueller, Karen Stanbury, Nicola Monteith.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced the results of a joint study with select members of the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance ( WTAAA). Travel agents look forward to the opportunities New Distribution Capability (NDC) will bring and seek more information about the initiative.
NDC is a travel industry-supported program launched by IATA. Its goal is the development and market adoption of a new, XML-based data transmission standard that is intended to enhance communications between airlines and travel agents.
IATA partnered with associations representing travel agencies based in Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA (1) that are members of WTAAA. The study was conducted by Atmosphere Research Group and T2 Impact. It included 22 qualitative interviews with travel agents around the world and surveys from approximately 1,000 agents.
The study shows that:
• On average 76% of travel agencies book airline ancillary products and services with most using airline websites to do so
• Agents are concerned about the loss of productivity associated with moving back and forth between their standard screen displays and airline websites in order to book ancillary options
• Agents recognise that airline websites offer the most complete selection of airline product and service options and they believe they are at a competitive disadvantage owing to this disparity
• A majority of agents believe NDC can help them be more competitive and customer-focused and will make selling airline ancillary products more efficient
• Travel agents expect to be compensated for selling ancillary products and services
'The study bears out that the travel agent channel as currently situated is not able to efficiently meet all the needs of air travelers. NDC will address this gap by enabling efficient access to content that currently is available only on airline websites,' says Aleks Popovich, IATA senior VP Financial and Distribution Services.
'The NDC discussion has been around the global travel industry for many years. This study has brought to light some important and interesting insights from the travel agency perspective and is welcomed by those agency associations that have been involved,' says Jayson Westbury, CEO of the Australian Federation of Travel agents and spokesperson for the participating agency associations.
Other findings in the study:
• The development of branded fares, sometimes referred to as fare families, has created some confusion in the travel agency community. Around one in four travel agencies are uncertain whether they book fare families or branded fares
• A plurality of agents (43%) take a deliberately slow pace in adopting new technology
• Agencies will likely rely on GDSs most for support in adopting NDC
Jacqui Brook from Delta Air Lines will be coordinating JAWS 2016 and asks agents to save these dates in their diaries. Queenstown and Auckland will not be on the circuit in favour of a slightly shortened JAWS roadshow that focuses on the main regional centres.
More details on venues and prizes will be made available shortly.
Dates are as followed: Dunedin - 29 February; Christchurch - 1 March; Nelson – 2 March; Whangarei – 8 March; Napier – 14 March; Wellington – 15 March; Palmerston North – 16 March; New Plymouth – 17 March; Tauranga – 22 March; Hamilton – 23 March.
Air New Zealand's new Airpoints™ for Business will reward New Zealand businesses with bonus Airpoints Dollars™ when the business owner or their employees travel on eligible flights with Air New Zealand for work.
The programme enables small to medium sized businesses to earn additional Airpoints at a rate of 20 percent of the personal Airpoints Dollar earn rate. The business earning rate does not affect the individual’s persona Airpoints Dollar or Status Point earn.
There is no change to the way customers make a booking with their travel agent. A traveller’s personal Airpoints membership number is still required to be entered into the booking, travel consultants are not required to add any additional detail. For bookings made via a Travel Agency (GDS) the traveller will need to indicate this booking as ‘business’ by signing into Air New Zealand and editing this under ‘Manage my bookings’.
Airpoints for Business members will also be able to earn Airpoints Dollars on their business spending at a range of partners such as Westpac, Budget, Avis, Umbrellar, and our Fly Buys partners Z and Mitre 10. Details on what a customer can earn and how to enable the Airpoints Dollar™ accrual to filter to the business Airpoints account are detailed on the Air New Zealand website. For Avis and Budget bookings a promotion code* needs to be entered at the time of booking the rental car to enable the accrual to be allocated to the Airpoints for Business account.
As part of an introductory offer, Air New Zealand is offering to triple a business’s travel earnings, when employees’ book and travel on eligible flights between 16 September and 31 December 2015. Plus all businesses who join the programme before 16 October 2015 will be in to win a mentorship with one of New Zealand’s top business leaders. Julie Christie, Trelise Cooper, Sir George Fistonich and Phillip Poole.
Airpoints for Business is available to New Zealand registered businesses with up to 20 New Zealand based employees able to be registered to the account.
For businesses who would like to sign up to Airpoints™ for Business they will not be able to use UATP Travelcard and therefore be giving up those benefits. Airpoints™ for Business cards will not be issued. Retrospective claims for business are processed like personal retrospective claims via the Air New Zealand website.
For more information on the Airpoints for Business programme visit airnzagent.co.nz and see Airpoints™ for Business
Air New Zealand will continue to run the Above & Beyond rewards programme tailored for larger spending businesses using UATP Travelcard as the form of payment which has a minimum threshold of $20,000 pa on air travel. Bookings made via UATP Travelcard are not eligible for Airpoints™ for Business accrual.
*AVIS Promotion Code: MPIA002
*Budget Promotion Code: MPIZ002
Airpoints for Business Terms and Conditions apply. FAQ’s can be found here
Corporate and incentive travel managers travelling on a famil to Thailand over the last few days have been reassured that it is ‘business as usual’ in Bangkok following the Erawan Shrine bombing near Central World two weeks ago.
Bert Chamrernnusit, country manager Pacific World DMC, says although there were ‘a lot of questions following the incident on 17 August, we have had no cancellations from New Zealand or Australia. We had two programmes in September cancel from other markets but after seeing the stepping up of security precautions in Bangkok, one of the cancelled groups re-booked for November.’
The Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau have said that the country is still on track to reach its 28.8 million visitors target by the end of the year, says Chamrernnusit.
Famil host Starwood Hotels & Resorts has had no cancellations from Australia or New Zealand since the August bombing.
‘I actually had an enquiry for Phuket two days later,’ says Marieke Mendez, Auckland-based director global sales for Starwood.
The famil group spent three nights in Bangkok and two nights in Koh Samui.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) will no longer be represented by Francis Travel Marketing, effective 30 September 2015. In a communication to the travel industry yesterday the authority advised that it will soon announce its new representative in New Zealand.
New Zealand rugby fans will have the chance to get in early and book tickets to the 2016 Sydney Sevens, with travel packages going on sale tomorrow through Flight Centre, House of Travel, GO Holidays, Experience Group and Williment Travel.
The inaugural Sydney Sevens event will take place on 6 – 7 February 2016 at Allianz Stadium as part of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
New South Wales Premier Mike Baird was joined by Australian Sevens players Tom Cusack and Con Foley for the announcement today at SKYCITY Convention Centre as part of the MP’s first official visit as Premier to New Zealand.
Following last year’s spike in Kiwi visitors, New Caledonia Tourism (NCTPS) is endeavouring to keep the momentum going with the launch of its latest campaign, 'Hello Neighbour'. The campaign will have two phases, the first of which will run until 25 September 2015 with phase two commencing in November 2015.
The 'Hello Neighbour' overall concept was founded around the ongoing debate that New Zealanders are becoming disconnected from their neighbours, according to a recent survey by the 2015 Sovereign Wellbeing Index that found only 30% of Kiwis feel connected to their local communities.
'After hearing about this long-term trend it made us think, if we don’t know the people living right next door to us, how well do we know the people on the next island?' asks NCTPS’s sales and marketing director, Caroline Brunel.
New Caledonia, bat less than a three hour flight away, is setting out to bridge this gap, showcasing the country as a holiday with a difference and without the distance.
Developed and implemented by New Caledonia’s New Zealand representative and marketing agency, GTI Tourism and integrated creative agency, PLAY, phase one of the campaign will include elements such as a series of new videos, a new-look website and outdoor advertising.
Head of strategy at PLAY, Tom Sanders says New Caledonia is the neighbour we need to get to know better by showcasing the diverse range of experiences available in a country that’s actually closer to Australia and New Zealand than they are to each other.
'New Caledonia is the neighbour we know nothing about, which is a real tragedy because it’s an amazing holiday destination thanks to its combination of unique Melanesian history, exotic South Pacific charm and cosmopolitan French chic,' says Sanders.
Phase one will also include a competition giving consumers the opportunity to win the ultimate dinner, set in one of five locations within New Caledonia, including the Isle of Pines, the North and the Loyalty Islands.
The campaign will primarily target 25 to 35 and 55+ year old independent and active couples looking to discover cultural experiences and soft adventure when on holiday.
New Zealanders should book now for their domestic summer holiday or risk missing out on their first choice of experience. That’s the advice of Tourism Industry Association chief executive, Chris Roberts, who spoke at a Service IQ networking breakfast yesterday about the current tourism sector boom.
‘We are seeing incredible growth. Estimated tourism spend is up by 21% in the last 12 months. That’s previously unheard of. Forward bookings with some operators are up 25% on last summer. The devaluation of the New Zealand dollar is likely to see even greater spending here. We’re getting additional air services; Qantas is the latest to announce new (inbound) flights and I know there are more announcements to come. There is domestic airline growth. Air New Zealand pulled out of some domestic routes and the smaller airlines have stepped up.
‘Quite frankly, if you want to go to your favourite place for your summer holiday book now or you’ll miss out.’
Roberts also addressed tourism workforce issues, citing from a TIA commissioned report that indicates an additional 36,000 full time equivalent jobs will be needed to meet the targeted industry growth, from the current $23.7 billion per year to $41 billion, by 2025.
He said potential actions to help achieve this included attracting mature and retired workers into the industry. Roberts also pondered the use of the term ‘career’, in promoting tourism to younger people as a job option. ‘We know most young people are going to have six or seven careers in their lifetime. Rather than talk about tourism as a career path, perhaps we need to talk about the ‘opportunities’ presented by working in tourism.’
Service IQ chief executive, Dean Minchington, told those at the breakfast that the organisation was very close to completing a review of all industry qualifications under the ITO’s umbrella. He also talked about the ‘road maps’ the organisation was developing, identifying the workforce needs in specific regions, starting with Christchurch and Queenstown and now moving north to Auckland. This would help to address the concerns raised by Roberts that most of the additional jobs needed by 2025 were predicted to be in these regions.
While most tourism workforce needs would be for low, entry-level jobs, Service IQ is also looking to improve business and management level capabilities, said Minchington. ‘That’s a challenge for us. We need collaboration with our industry consultants and training institutions to achieve this.’
A new ‘All Blacks Experience’ visitor attraction will open in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter in 2017.
Unveiling the All Blacks Experience in Auckland today, Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler says the new attraction will have huge interest from both the domestic and international markets.
‘The All Blacks Experience is set up to have an enduring, long term appeal, and will particularly be targeting the ‘first and only time’ visitors to the country, and I definitely foresee the product landing itself in international brochures as well.
‘As the release date gets closer, inbound operators will likely be all over the product too.’
The All Blacks Experience has been developed as a joint venture with Discovery Partners, and will feature ‘immersive technology’ bringing attendees into a real rugby game environment, with skill tests, 3D animation, and a number of features yet to be revealed.
Elevating standards and encouraging more youth to join the industry (and develop within it), will be on the agenda for the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) in th near future.
TAANZ chief executive Andrew Olsen spoke at a SKAL lunch in Auckland yesterday and says he is interested in learning from the various members and sector groups about how they maintain their own standards.
‘We are also looking at the demographic needle and we have to keep young people engaged in the travel industry. I think we do need to give (young agents) a structured path. SKAL has a semblance of that already with Young SKAL so we can talk about that. Having a mentor scheme will be high on the agenda for TAANZ.’
The quality of product available on Espiritu Santo was ‘extremely impressive’ according to Kiwi product managers on the Vanuatu Tourism Office famil, who were especially surprised with the amount of high end, luxury accommodation.
Wendy Graham, Lifestyle Holidays found the trip eye opening. ‘Lifestyle Holidays primarily focuses on four to five star properties, and Santo’s new and upgraded luxury accommodation was encouraging to see.’
Desiree Dick, Flight Centre, says the island visit greatly exceeded her expectations. ‘The properties ranged from entry level to high end - products that can fit any budget or client. I really am excited for the future of the destination, and can move forward selling Santo’s product with confidence.’
New properties include Sunrise Beach Cabanas. This consists of three deluxe villas on the beach, with five more to be completed by the end of the year; Hidden Cove Eco Retreat, ‘off the grid’, self sufficient property situated on the east coast of the island, containing tented villas which each include private facilities, decks and plunge pools; and Aore Adventure Sports & Lodge – self contained beach properties with diving and fishing packages.
Coral Quays Fish and Dive Resort has upgraded its dive operations with the latest equipment available, while soft refurbishments have taken place in all rooms.
Deco Stop Lodge’s rooms have all been upgraded with paint and new linen, while The Espiritu has also upgraded its rooms as well as adding a new pool and restaurant along with a gamer area and bar.
New tour options on the island include the Cruising Safaris, as well as quad bike tours and horse riding.
Tanna back on track
Tanna was one of the islands most damaged by Cyclone Pam, and it has battled to rebuild its name and reputation despite the majority of facilities and activities being available for use.
White Grass Ocean Resort opened its doors just three weeks after the cyclone, and resort manager Sabine Hollerer says it’s been hard changing people’s perception of the island as well as her property.
‘There has been a lot of misinformation going around – everybody has assumed that our property was completely blown away in the cyclone, when in fact we escaped mainly unharmed, with no structural damage and just garden debris.’
Courtesy of Vanuatu Tourism Office, media and trade delegates were recently hosted at White Grass Ocean Resort, venturing out to explore Mt Yasur on the daily Yasur Volcano Tour operated by the resort.
En route to the volcano, attendees were serenaded by a local children’s choir, as well as to take photos of the local countryside and rocky lava terrain surrounding Mt Yasur.
After a short hike to the top of the volcano, clients eventually find themselves standing just metres away from the peak, with spewing lava rocks and thunderous eruptions - no barriers or security restrictions ultimately enhances the experience.
Hollerer says the road heading towards the volcano was affected by the cyclone, but was cleared within two weeks, with tours operating as usual since then.
White Grass also offers cultural village tours, escorting people to the Lokalangia Kustom Village. The village is truly untouched by the western way of life, and the tour provides the opportunity to see it first hand.
Escorted through the kitchens, the villagers showcase how to make laplap, while the children perform a song and dance, and still look incredibly confused at the sight of cameras. The men of the village display their way of starting a fire, before breaking in to a traditional song and dance.
Although there is potential for the experience to feel unauthentic, an English speaking ‘Mamma’ from the village provides information about it’s culture, traditions, medicine, and way of life, while warmly guiding guests through their home.
Nick Kalafetalis is a Kiwi volunteer currently working for the Vanuatu Tourism Office in Port Vila who took part in the trip, and says he will never forget the ‘whirlwind visit to Tanna’.
‘The village tour was a totally unique and surreal experience - seeing a culture untouched by western civilisation and still standing strong after Cyclone Pam is a true testament to the people of Tanna.’
The change to the Immigration points system for provincial New Zealand is good news for hospitality, says Bruce Robertson, Hospitality New Zealand chief executive.
‘There are currently a number of café, restaurant and bar managers working on temporary work permits who do not have enough points to apply for residency. They have, however, become important and valuable staff members and are making a significant contribution to the businesses they work in and the community. This change will allow them to apply for residency and continue to make an important contribution to the hospitality sector,’ he says.
‘There simply are not enough New Zealanders able and prepared to take on these roles.’
His comments come after Government annunced a package of immigration measures aimed at improving the spread of workers, skills and investment across New Zealand.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says thouands of people from all over the world are moving to New Zealand because it is a good place to live, work and raise a family.’
‘New Zealanders will always be first in line for jobs and that won’t change,’ Mr Woodhouse says.
New measures to take effect from 1 November include:
- Boosting the bonus points for Skilled Migrants applying for residence with a job offer outside Auckland from 10 to 30 points.
- Doubling the points for entrepreneurs planning to set up businesses in the regions under the Entrepreneur Work Visa from 20 to 40 points.
- Streamlining the labour market test to provide employers with more certainty, earlier in the visa application process.
In addition, from mid-2016 a pathway to residence will be provided for a limited number of long-term migrants on temporary work visas in the South Island.‘Unemployment across the Mainland is nearly half that of the North Island, and labour is in short supply,’ Woodhouse says.
By Kathy Ombler
Auckland is starting to put pressure on Wellington’s ‘events capital’ reputation; the Wellington Sevens, for example, should have started re-inventing years ago, keynote speaker Peter Biggs told the Eventing the Future Conference in Wellington this week. Events – and companies – are at their most vulnerable when things are going well, he said.
‘The brave people reinvent what’s going on when it’s most successful. The Sevens in Wellington should have been re-invented seven years ago when they were booming, because the audience was changing. People want new stuff. So you need brave people in the room. An event has to be changed or they are going to be disrupted. (Compare) the Wellington Sevens and Auckland Nines, for example.
‘It’s a different, competitive set now. Wellington was without peer as the arts and cultural centre. Guess what, Auckland got united; a united, shared ambition and they’re off and the game has changed on us here in Wellington.’
Melbourne is the same, he added. ‘They have done nothing new since the 1990s. Melbourne led the way in events, in art and culture, now Sydney has woken up.’
The Fijian Tourism Expo 2016 (FTE 2016) will be held from 3-6 May and other logistical details will be released in coming months.
Last month's second FTE saw growth of 30% over last year with over 600 participants t at the expo over three days. A record 358 local tourism operators met with around 150 international buyers and 18 international media.
'The feedback from international buyers and partners in the tourism industry from this year’s expo has been fantastic,' says Truman Bradley, executive chairman for Tourism Fiji.
'FTE is a solid platform for encouraging meaningful interactions between buyers from our key markets and further developing our industry to meet international traveller demands. It is an avenue to strengthen existing partnerships and forge new business relationships.'
This year FTE’s focus was Community and Tourism, which was evident at various events which were held over the three-day period, the cultural performance at the opening ceremony coordinated by Pacific Destinations, the Victoria Wines Food and Wine Festival, the Fijian-Made Craft Market and the FTE Coffee Lounge by Fiji Coffee who donated all proceeds from their booth to the Fiji Cancer Society.
Worried Kiwi travellers have been quick to seek advice on foreign currency and the euro in light of the Greek debt crisis yesterday, according to Travel Money NZ, owned by Flight Centre Travel Group.
The Auckland headquartered business, which has 12 stores across Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, reports high levels of phone and store enquiries from travellers wanting to know whether to buy euro, and what to do about their European holidays.
Scott McCullough, national manager Travel Money NZ, says the main enquiries have been about the value of the euro, and what travellers should do about access to cash if their holiday itinerary includes Greece.
'We’ve had a number of customers concerned about the shutdown of the Greek banking system and what this will mean should they find themselves caught short of cash and with limited or no ATM access,’ McCullough says. 'We’ve also seen many customers increasing their euro cash purchases, with higher than usual sale volumes yesterday.’
McCullough says carrying a mix of cash and a prepaid travel money card is a good idea for Kiwi travellers heading to Greece.
'With Greek banks and ATMs now shut all week you really need to have enough cash to last 5-7 days if your itinerary includes Greece, pre-loading your Multi-currency Cash Passport ahead of further volatility is also an option to consider.'
Regency Tourism Marketing has been appointed as the NZ GSA for Macau Government Tourist Office. Headed by Richard Froggatt and Gaye Wood, the newly appointed company will handle all marketing duties from today.
The announcement was made by Macau Government Tourist Office (Oceania) general manager Helen Wong.
This continues Regency Tourism Marketing’s expansion into tourism and travel representation in NZ, offering New Zealand travel companies access to hotel, transport and touring products from AsiaPacific, Australia, India, Hawaii and North America.
Macau Government Tourist Office's new contact details are: 7 Centennial Place, Campbells Bay, Auckland 0630. T: +64 (0) 21 750 944, email
The biggest contingent of Western Australian operators to visit New Zealand on a trade mission for at least a decade will be in Auckland on Thursday 10 September.
WA based Mark Abercromby, of the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), says the ‘A Day in WA’ event will include a full day of business to business table top sessions, followed by a function in the evening.
About 25 WA operators are expected to make their way over to New Zealand.
‘ATEC, as the industry representative for inbound products, runs the annual Extraordinary Tourism Exchange (ETE) and for the last five years we have done it in Perth,’ says Abercromby. ‘This year we are taking it on the road for the first time and visiting Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland.’
Louise Frend, marketing manager NZ with Tourism Western Australia, says the event is being held at Air New Zealand’s Customer Innovation and Collaboration (CICC) building.
‘Air new Zealand has been very supportive and is co-hostng the event,’ she says.
Abercromby says the speed of Western Australian product on its way in September demonstrate that the destination appreciates the enthusiasm of the New Zealand trade and realises there is a need to connect and to highlight what is new.
‘We’ll have hotels, camper vans, attractions and tours. It is a knowledgable collection of operators keen to connect personally and face to face.
Frend says the aim is to attract WA holiday specialistts, product managers, retail travel agents, travel brokers, travel management companies, incentive operators and online travel agents.
Early expressions of interest should be made to
The focus on ‘experiential travel’ has moved well beyond tour companies to encompass virtually all sectors of the travel industry. Hotels, travel management systems, tourism boards and even vehicle rental companies were among those talking about providing real experiences for their guests - from the ‘dream stage’ through to check-in and check-out.
This was a key message at the inaugural TRAVELtech New Zealand conference at Pullman Auckland yesterday, along with the necessity of mobile technology to achieve this.
‘The emerging traveller experience is about how we book, change and cancel our travel – this all needs to be in one place,’ says Serko CEO Darrin Grafton. ‘Travellers want to be told what they need before they need it and have one tool that connects the world. We need to let users define the road map and maintain a continuous dialogue with them.’
AccorHotels has changed its digital marketing approach from ‘product’ to ‘customer’ continuing on the experience concept and has 225 million euro earmarked for digital marketing over the next five years to increase its direct digital business.
Andrew Hodges, director of revenue NZ and South Pacific with AccorHotels explained that the company’s recently developed app is ‘not just booking a hotel with mobile check-in and check-out.
‘It starts with the dreaming stage, guests can order room service, order drycleaning, watch a movie - all from the app. They can do a review, and look at other destinations they might want to travel to.’
THL also wants to play in the experience game ‘from the dreaming and planning phase until they end their campervan journey,’ says Chief technology officer, Keith Chilek. After nine months in the job, Texan born Chilek has already completed a pilot programme to ‘find out stuff’ via computer tablets that were given to 40 customers.
Soon every customer will be handed a tablet when they walk in the door and they will (also) be in the campervans. We will know when customers are about to arrive, when they’ve left, and we’ll be offering a concierge type support with customers able to book activities and have in-campervan help.’
New Zealand continues to be an important international market for Australia and has shown growth yet
again year on year, says John O’Sullivan, managing director of Tourism Australia. O’Sullivan says New Zealand arrivals would be counted in 20/20 target numbers even if it was regarded as a domestic market because ‘both domestic and international figures are taken into account’. However he stressed that ‘we don’t treat New Zealand as a domestic market.’
The latest figures show that New Zealand arrivals have grown 5% year on year, with visitor spend out of this market increasing by 6%.
The New Zealand office is being reduced from five personnel to one in July, with Jenny Aitken, general manager New Zealand remaining. TA’s focus out of New Zealand will be on business events, particularly the incentive market.
‘We will still reach New Zealanders through digital platforms and social media and we still have a great operator in Jenny in market. As we get in and develop the business events strategy we expect an increase in the incentive sector. As that takes hold we will look at increasing resources there.’
He says New Zealanders travel to Australia as ‘specific destination’ journeys. ‘For example, they say ‘I will go to Bondi to meet friends’, or ‘I will go to the Bledisloe Cup’, or ‘I will go to Vivid.’ They know the market extremely well.
‘We think the bigger opportunity is to grow the incentive market out of New Zealand.’
Visit Samoa Year 2016 - the first time the destination has taken such an initiative - will ‘celebrate Samoa becoming a first class destination’, says Samoa Tourism Authority chief executive officer Papali’i Sonja Hunter.
‘Every time we have testimonials from visitors they tell us Samoa is beautiful - it has beautiful people, culture, beaches and landscapes. We have still got all that.
‘But we have designated 2016 to celebrate the opening of first class properties, giving us the additional infrastructure to host visitors, along with the existing hotels and attractions.’
‘Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Resort opened recently and Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows open in in Apia this year. Then the first quarter of 2016 will see the opening of Taumeasina Island Resort, owned by the Lomana Group in Papua New Guinea that also owns Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva and Heritage in the Solomon islands,’ says Hunter.
‘Of course we already have the Tanoa Tusitala, owned by the Reddy Group and other well know hotels and resorts.’
She says the year will also involve tourism excellence awards, helping to ensure that visitors are well looked after.
Visit Samoa Year 2016 was launched at the South Pacific Tourism Exchange (SPTE) in Melbourne late last week, preceding a roadshow in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. The New Zealand trade can look forward to a roadshow here later this year to promote Visit Samoa Year, but dates are still to be set.
Hunter says a number of events will be promoted as part of the celebrations, including the 20 year anniversary of the Samoa International Game Fishing Tournament.
A video with an amusing take on the destination’s attractions has been launched by Cook Islands Tourism Corporation and is being pushed through social media now.
Delegates at the South Pacific Tourism Exchange (SPTE) in Melbourne late last week got an early glimpse of the ‘Katukanga - Playful Kids’ campaign, which had been released just a few days erlier.
It features two young boys describing the 10 top reasons to visit the Cook Islands and has a star turn from long time Cook Island resident ‘Brian’.
‘We have used the campaign to bust some myths about the Cook Islands,’ says marketing manager Christian Mani. ‘We are addressing topics like the size of the island (Rarotonga), how many things there are to see and do, and the romance market with a different, humorous take on it.’
Mani says the corporation has also launched Kia Orana values - a programme designed at keeping the service and hospitality standards high. ‘We are addressing things like how to greet people - by saying Kia Orana. And we are looking at what happens at customs, because they are the first and last people that international visitors meet.’
by Ruth Scott
Starwood Hotel and Resorts, in conjunction with Air New Zealand, have recently hosted a group of Kiwi agents on a famil trip to Bali.
Marieke Mendez, Starwood’s director, global sales, New Zealand says she wanted to show off the Starwood properties and help agents familiarise themselves with the different areas of Bali.
‘Only one agent in the group has been to Bali previously (15 years ago), so the famil was definitely needed’, says Mendez. ‘Most wholesalers are reporting Bali as their number two Asian destination for New Zealanders. They are asked to quote on Thailand and Bali and the final decision depends on the hotels and how good the agent’s knowledge is on each destination. Bali is a still a developing nation and if the consultant hasn’t been there to assure the client, then the other quote wins.’
During the five day famil, the group will stay overnight at Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran; Westin Resort Nusa Dua; Laguna, The Luxury Collection and W Retreat and Spa Bali and visit three other Starwood properties.
Bali VOA – finished
Bali Visa on Arrival for around 20 countries, including New Zealand, has been removed. The US$35 fee was previously charged as visitors entered the arrivals hall at Denpasar Airport, but agents were surprised when officials motioned them on saying ‘no visa required’. The decision has been welcomed by local hotels and tourism operators. Marlies Wilhelmina from Destination Services says this should cut down the processing time at the airport and encourage more Kiwi travellers, especially families, to Bali.
The Starwood and Air New Zealand Bali famil continued with agents exploring the temple at Uluawatu, on the southernmost tip of Bali. Sunset is the most popular time for tourists to visit and many stay on for the one-hour traditional fire dance performed in the 300 seat amphitheatre.
Marieke Mendez, Starwood Hotels & Resorts says the tour to Uluawatu was a good opportunity to see a sacred temple, the stunning coastline, a Balinese sunset and a traditional show all in one spot.
Moving around Nusa Dua, the group spent one night at The Westin Nusa Dua, then moved next door to Laguna, The Luxury Collection.
Both beachfront properties have a distinctive style and appeal to individual tastes. The Westin is a large resort catering to couples, families, multi-generational travellers and conference groups.
Angela Clark, HOT Product says The Westin is spacious enough to ensure that everyone has plenty of personal space. ‘There are families here, but you don’t notice them. There is an awesome Kid’s Club, plus there is so much to do around Nusa Dua that many guests are out and about. The buffet breakfast buffet is amazing, offering an impressive selection of Western dishes, Asian and gluten free and a cool kid’s corner.’
Right next door
Laguna, The Luxury Collection has 287 rooms including 10 new one and two bedroom villas with private pool, outdoor massage table, separate living area and maid/butler quarters.
‘We have a mix of honeymooners, couples and families with older children, but all children can use the Kid’s Club next door at The Westin for a small cost,’ says Andro Pondaag, director of sales – complex, Nusa Dua, Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
Ground floor rooms have access from private balconies to the lagoon pool that wraps around the resort. ‘We have a total of seven pools, including a sandy bottom pool for guests who want to feel the sand between their toes’, says Pondaag.
Both properties have loungers positioned on the beach and around the pools, plus guests can book the cabanas for the day at a nominal fee.
‘Feet in the sand’ dining is available on the beach for lunch and dinner for a table of eight and the property has two restaurants and a deli for light snacks.
Charge back facilities are available between all restaurants at The Westin and Laguna.
All The Luxury Collection properties feature a complimentary butler service, available round the clock, to deliver tea, coffee, unpack/pack the luggage – whatever the guest may need.
Buyers at FTE 2015 have noted exciting new products and developments that range over a selection of markets as a key feature at this year’s expo.
‘Fiji is changing at the same rate that our clients demand,’ says Mary jane Augustine, of Dolphin Destiny Adventures.in California. ‘They are adding yoga and other features that make their trips more meaningful.’
Augustine says Dolphin Destiny Adventures is 80% grow dive travel. ‘But we are looking for new product and diversifying to yoga and spiritual groups and destinational weddings. So we are adding a bunch of new products.’
She says she was impressed with reports that some people may not be aware of - like Mantaray Resort and Viwa.’
This year Augustine is at FTE with colleague Danielle Woolery - a first time visitor to Fiji. ‘The people are more genuine and lovely than I could ever have imagined.’
Adelaide based Robert Mackay, managing director of Venture Holidays, says business to Fiji has definitely been increasing year on year. ‘I would say it has been steady rather than dramatic, but any negativity towards the destination has disappeared.’
Mackay says the whole of FTE was well organised and he was particularly impressed with the welcome ceremony and the song ‘Ancient land’, which was written especially for the occasion by local song writer Sailasa Tora.
‘That should be the new theme song for Fiji’s tourism - especially for the next year,’ says Mackay.
Shruti Sawant, of Kuoni Travel (India) says Fiji is becoming increasingly popular with honeymooners and couples celebrating a special occasion. ‘It’s seen as a romantic destination,’ she says.
Anita Gatley, of Wedding Travel in New Zealand; says she has been talking to suppliers about the Fiji Airways wedding special, which is a great bonus for wedding groups.
‘There is so much potential here for weddings because Fiji can cater for all markets - from the large resorts at Denarau Island to smaller places like Mango Bay Resort. Actually people can pay a lot less than they do in Auckland, have a really nice wedding and have a holiday at the same time.’
Gatley says she has really enjoyed FTE. ‘I have rekindled old connections and made new ones as well.’
This year’s Fijian Tourism Expo (FTE) is not only a showcase of what the destination offers now, but also a ‘big tease’ for the future, according to Truman Bradley, executive chairman and acting chief executive officer of Tourism Fiji.
‘We have got so many new products and attributes coming and I think that is the main message,’ says Bradley.
FTE 2015 ran from 15-19 June, following a number of pre-expo events, and finishes with a beach party on Thursday.
Bradley says the international travel trade will hear about different sides of Fiji, beyond the traditional attractions of the destination.
‘A lot has been built up around Denarau and that is a great product, but we also have experiences from white water rafting to zip lining, from deep sea game fishing to diving and surfing. There is still that traditional family holiday mindset and it’s a market we do well, but there is so much more.’
Bradley points to specific projects such as the new Vunubaka – Island Grace development on Malolo, major redevelopment at Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa, huge expansions including a new marina development at The Pearl on Pacific Harbour and the duplexes at Nanuya Island Resort.
Bradley says major infrastructure like reading and the airport also demonstrates the Government’s commitment to development.
‘The secret at FTE is to discover everyone’s new product and the opportunities that presents.’
FTE shows 30% growth
This year’s Fijian Tourism Expo (FTE 2015) has seen about 30% growth across the board – including exhibitors, buyers and media, says Sally Cooper, director of events at Tourism Fiji.
The expo has attracted 151 mainly international buyers (with a few local inbound tour operators) and has 121 booths with more than 350 exhibitor personnel.
FTE 2015 also has 34 sponsors, 18 international media and 19 domestic media involved.
This year’s event had a real ‘Team Fiji’ feeling – with the tourism sector working together to ensure its success.
‘Last year was the inaugural FTE event, so as a new product we were on a bit of a trial. This year we had bigger stands, with co-exhibitors displaying more than one product on many f the booths.
‘So we are seeing a much more collaborative approach this year.’
She says the plant and community have worked together across the whole FTE programme.
One example of this is sponsor Westpac Bank giving its exhibition space to Rise Beyond the Reef to exhibit the products produced by rural women.
‘We also have Victoria Wines sponsoring the Food and Wine Festival and Fiji Fashion Show at Fijian Tourism Expo,’ Cooper points out.
Fiji’s four major inbound tour operators – ATS Pacific and Tourist Transport Fiji (TTF), Pacific Destinations, Rosie Holidays and Tour Managers – all backed FTE 2015 to support its success.
Green Growth Framework launched
The Fijian Government took the opportunity to launch its Green Growth Framework, which focuses on rebalancing the three pillars of sustainable development - economic, social, and environment, at FTE.
At a press conference examples of environmental and sustainability conscious tourism industry operators were highlighted: Talanoa Treks, the only dedicated trekking operator that showcases Fiji’s hidden interior; the Mamanuca Environment Society, which has developed a working relationship with stakeholders and provides support for environment and conservation initiatives within the Mamanucas region; and Nukubati Island Resort in Vanua Levu, Nukubati, whose conservation efforts include using clean energy, sustainable seafood, and community education.
Product managers from New Zealand and Australia attended the first Rendez-vous in New Caledonia workshop in Noumea over the weekend at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre. Designed to introduce new products and facilitate commercial partnerships between New Caledonia suppliers and key trade partners, the workshop was also an opportunity to for Sally Pepermans to meet the delegation in her new role as NZ representative for New Caledonia Tourism.
Speaking at the workshop, Pepermans says she is looking forward to building solid industry relationships and continuing the successful growth of tourism to New Caledonia out of New Zealand.
‘My role with Le Meridian Noumea was not only about promoting the property, but also promoting the destination. We had to sell both to create awareness of New Caledonia.’
Pepermans added that she has a complete team behind her in promoting leisure travellers and the MICE (Meetings, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition) market.
She will be based in Auckland from early June to commence the fulltime sales and marketing role.
Making New Zealand agents’ lives easier is the goal for Sabre’s new range of solutions and services rolled out at yesterday’s TechSummit in Auckland.
‘As solution providers, we’re providing agents with tools to help them be more effective in the marketplace,’ says Sabre managing director, Jeremy van de Klundert, speaking at the 2015 Sabre TechSummit
Among the new services is Sabre’s Ticketing Express, which is designed to automate the manual ticketing process – Sabre research has found that, on average, consultants spend 14% of their time on manual ticketing tasks.
Along with Ticketing Express, Sabre has partnered with Travel Automation to launch a series of services aiming to save agents time dealing with processing queues.
Van de Klundert says ‘consultants are spending up to two hours per day processing queues.
‘Travel Automation, in partnership with Sabre is focused on automating this process, therefore reducing an agency’s operational costs,’ he says.
These new services include QBotic, QBotic PRO and KLeer .
QBotic, focuses on automating manual schedule changes and updating PNRs, while QBotic PRO takes the process a step further by fully automating the reissue of involuntary changes.
KLeer is another solution involved with managing waitlists; continually checking availability for specified flights and notifying clients when a desired seat becomes available.
Another key focus for Sabre is making data accessible for all agents – this comes with the launch of Travel Intelligence, Sabre’s data tool which mines information from Sabre Agency Manager to draw insights for agents.
Applicable for both corporate and leisure business, Travel Intelligence provides visual analyses of business intelligence, agent productivity, supplier information and data to manage risks and consumer trends.
However, Sabre head of product, Karen McLeod, says data proficiency is especially important for corporate agents.
‘From a corporate agency perspective, it’s a point of differentiation when pitching for new accounts – data’s really important to the end corporation and they rely on their corporate travel agent to provide that data.’
In addition to these services, Sabre has also introduced a virtual desktop, Sabre Vero, which allows travel consultants to access their agency applications from a range of devices, including Mac, PC, desktop, laptop, zero client, iPad, tablets and smartphones across multiple locations.
The Sabre TechSummit now moves on to Australia for four shows in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
New Orleans may be the birthplace of jazz but it is also known as the ‘City of the Dead’. Although the 300 year old French Quarter’s jazz bars are the main attraction, clients visiting the city will discover Napoleon Bonaparte’s death mask, graveyards that have inspired vampire stories, as well as alligator-ridden swamps and the slave history of southern plantations.
The nightlife, music and food in and around Bourbon Street was enjoyed by agents on an IRTN Delta Air Lines famil to the United States last week but it was the Gray Line city tour, in particular a cemetery visit, that proved to be the highlight.
The dead are buried above the ground in New Orleans due to the high water table. The bodies slowly cremate in the heat and after a year or so the ashes are removed from the coffins and pushed to the back of the tomb to make way for the next deceased family member.
‘We have ghosts here,’ explains Kindrell Foulk, Gray Line city tour guide. ‘When eighty thousand people perished from yellow fever, cholera and malaria epidemics in the 1800s, there was confusion and many were buried alive. We know this because when it came to removing the ashes from the coffins, scratch marks were discovered inside the lids.'
To prevent this from happening again, a system was devised whereby a bell was installed on the outside of the tomb and attached to the corpse’s finger or toe by a length of string. If the body started moving, the bell rang and the graveyard attendant was alerted.
‘Have you ever heard the terms ‘dead ringer’, ‘saved by the bell’ and ‘the graveyard shift’?’ asks Foulk.
It was these stories that inspired New Orleans resident Anne Rice to write the popular Interview with a Vampire in 1976.
The IRTN agents were also hosted to a walking tour of French Quarter by Historic New Orleans Tours and enjoyed a jazz dinner cruise on the Mississippi River aboard the steamboat Natchez. Cajun Pride Swamp Tours introduced alligators to the group during a swamp tour as well as the state’s slave history at Oak Alley Plantation, around 45 minutes out of New Orleans.
Accommodation was in the French Quarter at the Dauphine Hotel, a boutique property in the independent New Orleans Hotel Collection.
Malaysia Airlines has assured the market that New Zealand operations remain ‘business as usual’ following the announcement that an administrator has been appointed to see the transition through from MAS to Malaysia Airlines Berhad.
Area manager New Zealand Dzulkefl Zakaria says the airline is still flying daily out of New Zealand and still selling all of its destinations around the world.
‘The administrative change in head office has started and the appointment of an administrator is part of that process.’
As part of the change process all 20,000 staff will be laid off and then two thirds of them rehired under new contracts.
The appointment of Dato Mohammad Faiz Azmi as administrator for MAS was announced yesterday. The airline says the transition from MAS to MAB is a key component of the 12 point MAS Recovery Plan announced last year.
Christoph Mueller, chief executive officer of Malaysian Airline System Berhad (MAS) and CEO-designate of the new airline says operations are ‘very much’ business as usual.
‘The appointment (of an administrator) does don't affect our daily operations or existing reservations. You can continue to make reservations in full confidence.’
Campervan hire is just one of the emerging travel trends in Thailand, travel agents at the recent Amazing Thailand Roadshow in SKYCITY Auckland heard. Agents were also prompted to sell niche travel, promote areas beyond Bangkok and Phuket and to encourage their clients to ‘Discover Thainess’.
Rujiras Chatchalermkit, director of Tourism Authority Thailand, says numbers have been slowly climbing following Thailand’s political unrest, but there are efforts to give them a further boost through raising the destination’s profile on programmes like X Factor and Taste of Traveller.
‘Thailand is back for everything from medical tourism, health and wellness, the family market, honeymoons and weddings’, Chatchalermkit says.
Travelling by campervan is a relatively new phenomenon for international visitors to Thailand but Chatchalermkit feels New Zealanders are likely to embrace the trend.
‘It is starting to get popular and it is a great way to see the national parks, the waterfalls and the mountain sides. People can do a barbecue by the beach and there are a number of camping grounds around. We also want people to Discover Thainess – the feeling of real Thailand and its culture. This includes Thai dancing, Thai boxing, Thai massage and Thai food – really getting into the culture.’
Auckland needs to better manage its events programme to avoid ‘perfect storm’ weekends, and hoteliers should not be dropping rates to attract off-season business, especially during a time of such positive growth. These were the challenges thrown out by SKYCITY Group’s Brad Burnett, speaking at the Auckland International Airport Breakfast Speaker Series, at TRENZ mid May.
Burnett said that in his 18 years working in the New Zealand hotel industry he had never seen optimism as he was seeing now. ‘There are records everywhere. The way ahead is about riding and optimising that wave. There are two buzz words here, one is premium and seasonality is the other one.
‘Peaks and troughs are much less exaggerated than they used to be, we need to optimise this. We need to make the most of the current conditions year round.’
Five star hotels dropping their prices during April and May to $150 were doing no favours to anyone, he said. ‘It undermines the industry, all hotels and your own product.’
He said SKYCITY’s yield had been growing by 20 percent each year and that wasn’t about increased rates but through huge margins in the peak season. ‘We have less fixed and contract rates and a lot more flexibility around dynamic pricing.’
Looking ahead signalled a step change, he said. ‘Every week an airline announces a new air service into Auckland. One report has forecast 107 percent summer occupancy for Auckland hotels within three years.
‘We absolutely have to charge premium rates, like the rest of the world does, and we have to be confident about it. We (also) absolutely welcome new international hotel brands into the city. They bring credibility, they market New Zealand as a destination, and we’ll need them pretty soon according to our forecasts,’ he added.
Burnett also called for more thought into the planning of major events that clashed with each other and with cruise ship visits, creating what had been described as ‘perfect storm weekends’. ‘We really need to manage this better. There are no hotel rooms, hotels get bagged for ripping people off, there are no taxis anywhere. Why can’t we space things out better. We need stronger collaboration. We need to work together to understand the exact requirements of certain sectors and flatten out some of these peaks.’
Constant innovation and developing new technology to keep its customers and partners ahead of the game is the strategy GDS provider Travelport focused on during its roadshow to Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland last week.
Kaylene Shuttlewood, Travelport’s general manager Pacific says the new ‘game changing’ Smartpoint app has ben designed to make fare shopping is easier. ‘We have doubled the amount of flight returns from a request and fare rules are laid our clearly; ancillary services like extra baggage, premium bag arrival, blankets, inflight wifi, and special meals are easy to book (some carriers in Asia Pacific even offer a specific meal choice like hamburger or a hot dog); and enhanced seating plans and graphical seat maps with pictures of the actual seat that can be booked.
With Smartpoint agents can now compare low cost carriers with full service carriers in the same screen, which does not disrupt their workflow. ‘Everything in Smartpoint has been designed for ease of use and for the agent to be able to convert sales and upsell products,’ she adds.
Speaking at the Pullman Hotel Auckland last week, Shuttlewood also updated the trade with a new feature to the 600,000 plus hotels Travelport offers online. ‘Agents will see the latest five Trip Advisor reviews with every hotel. Nothing is censored or altered – it’s the same as if going to the website itself, and no screen jumping. Trip Advisor has over 170 million reviews, and we want to assist the agents and their clients in making the best possible decision.’
- Kaylene Shuttlewood speaking at the Pullman Hotel Kaylene Shuttlewood speaking at the Pullman Hotel
- Mark Reeder, World Aviation and Katharine Mason, LATAM Mark Reeder, World Aviation and Katharine Mason, LATAM
- Graeme Moore and Wendy van Lieshout, World Travellers Graeme Moore and Wendy van Lieshout, World Travellers
- Adrian Turner, HWT and Robert Clark, Travelport Adrian Turner, HWT and Robert Clark, Travelport
Interest in Club Med for conference and incentive travel out of New Zealand has doubled in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period last year. ‘In the last two or three years, the New Zealand market has picked up,’ says business development manager Australia and New Zealand, Joey Templin. A changing perception of the resorts and Kiwis being more open to what Club Med has to offer is credited with the increase in the number of requests for quotes.
Templin escorted six corporate and incentive travel managers to Club Med Bali this week where they were free to participate in as many or as few activities as they wished. They were also given a site inspection and update on Club Med developments globally.
Repositioned in 2004 to a more ‘upscale’ product, Club Med is increasing its focus on adult’s only areas as well as conferences, incentives and the ‘rent a resort’ concept.
There is an emphasis on ‘space’ with new properties requiring at least 10 hectares of land. This feeling of space is evident in Bali – the resort was at 100% occupancy yet beyond the main pool area guests would be forgiven for thinking occupancy was half that.
The Kiwi travel managers balanced yoga, exercise classes, golf and sight seeing with relaxation at the new Zen pool – an adult’s only area with sun loungers and three varieties of daybeds – and a traditional Bali massage at Mandara Spa.
Members of the group agreed that the few days spent at Club Med Bali had changed their perceptions of the brand.
‘I was sceptical whether Club Med could work for groups because of my perception of clientele – families, children, couples. My first impression when I arrived appeared to confirm this when I saw all the children in the pool,’ says Virginie Thomson, Orbit Travel Auckland whose experience has Club Med Bali has completely changed her opinion. ‘After Joey’s presentation and discussion with Q&A about what can and can’t be done, followed by a tour of the resort, I realise now that anything can be done. There is so much willingness to make it happen and to make the wow factor.’
Asia Summit 2015 will focus on how to capitalise on the Asian traveller’s desire to visit New Zealand by providing attendees with insights into developing premium seasonal offerings.
The free one day conference will see industry experts provide the latest research direct from Chinese consumers about what travellers are seeking when holidaying in New Zealand.
Dr Matthew McDougall, social media specialist and CEO of Digital Jungle, will also explain how to use social media to market New Zealand tourism products in Asia.
The event will showcase a number of prominent New Zealand tourism companies and provide examples of how they have tailored products for Asian travellers and successfully promoted these products in Asia.
This year’s event will be held on 17 May at Novotel Lakeside Hotel, Rotorua, with registration opening at 9:30am.
Register at www.asiasummit.co.nz
A one day event for ‘forward thinking travel industry professionals’ is coming to New Zealand for the first time this year.
TRAVELtech is an established annual happening in Australia, running since 1999, and director Martin Kelly says the time is right to bring it across the Tasman. It is being held at the Pullman Auckland on 25 June.
‘Based around the theme of innovation and inspiration, TRAVELtech NZ has a focus on online travel, e-commerce, distribution, digital marketing, mobile, social media, technology, web trends and other key issues,’ Kelly says.
Tickets for the event cost $449 and the day includes a number of networking opportunities, a small trade show and a strong line-up of speakers.
Confirmed presenters so far include Mike Ballantyne, co-founder, Online Republic; Keith Chilek, chief technology officer, Tourism Holdings Limited; Paula Maxwell, director of trade sales, Mantra Group; Dougal Mckenzie, industry head – travel, Google Australia and New Zealand; Nigel Taylor, country manager NZ, Sabre Pacific; and others.
Six years after the devastation of the February 2009 Black Saturday Fires, the tiny Victorian town of Marysville has celebrated the opening of a TFE (Toga Far East) Hotel that will help put the alpine tourist destination back on the map.
Vibe Hotel and Conference Centre replaces the two accommodation properties that were previously on the site and destroyed along with most of the other main street businesses and surrounding homes. The 101 room Vibe hotel brings the Marysville bed inventory to just over 1000 (down from 2500-3000 pre-fire).
In the two months since opening, Vibe Hotel Marysville has had 1300 people attend 12 events - these include day meetings, residential conferences and other events. Last week’s official opening saw locals, government, tourism and emergency services as well as national and international media attend. Nine hundred people are expected at conferences confirmed at Vibe Marysville over the next six months.
The 101 room hotel has welcomed 3970 guests since February and has provided much needed employment in the town. Staff numbers have already increased staff from 42 to 64 – 90% of whom are from the Marysville triangle region.
‘TFE has partnered with Tourism Victoria and others with an aim to play a significant role in revitalising Marysville after the Black Saturday bushfires,’ says TFE Hotels CEO, Rachel Argaman. ‘We hope to bring savvy travellers to Marysville to experience the hotel and the beauty of the surrounding area. We see ourselves as being very much part of the region and connected to the local community.’
Hotel manager Phil Wilmot says he has never seen so many people so excited to be working again. ‘Some people hadn’t worked for six years,’ says Wilmot. ‘We’ve even got three generations of one family working here.’
Vibe Hotel Marysville marks the start of the brand’s refresh and brand promise – ‘Your Local Connection’ – which encompasses the hotel’s eateries, Radius Café and Radius Bar & Grill. Executive chef Leigh Colville is a returning Yarra Valley resident who has strong personal relationships with many local producers, including Buxton Trout, Blackmore Wagyu beef and Buxton Ridge wine.
A media famil in and around Marysville this week has showcased the region’s tourism offerings - activities at Lake Mountain Ski Resort, whimsical art at Bruno’s Sculpture Garden, salmon fishing at Buxton Trout & Salmon Farm, wine tasting at The Innocent Bystander and Buxton Ridge wineries and a tour through the Phoenix Black Saturday Bushfire Museum.
Predominantly a weekend retreat and winter ski destination, Marysville is a 20 minute forest drive over the Black Spur from Victoria’s Yarra Valley, two hours from Melbourne Airport, or 90 minutes from the CBD. The town and surrounding region offer a relaxing add-on to a Melbourne leisure or business stay, as well as being a destination in its own right.
More on Marysville will appear in the June issue of TRAVELinc magazine.
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.’
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.