Hot Off The Press
The New Zealand Government has been called on to ‘sort out the shemozzle’ that has arisen from its ruling that
South African visitors to New Zealand now require visas – and the subsequent reciprocal action from the republic’s government.
New Zealanders intending to visit South Africa now require visas and need to visit the South African Consulate in Wellington in person to facilitate this.
Andrew Olsen, chief executive of the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ), says he recently visited the consulate and was not impressed with the situation.
By Lisa Bradley
A cloud may be hanging over visa entry into America, but that hasn’t dampened the spirits of Brand USA Zealand, which has opened registration for its annual roadshow.
Registrations were being received from yesterday, just days after The White House placed a 90-day ban on immigration to the US for individuals from Iran, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
The US Embassy and Consulate in New Zealand advises those with dual nationality of one of these countries also fall under President Donald Trump’s executive order.
Norfolk Island Airlines plans to introduce a weekly service between the destination and Auckland, hopefully just a week after Air New Zealand pulls the plug on the route in May this year.
Airline spokesman Glen (Spud) Buffett, says an application has been made to begin the service from the last Saturday in May. He is confident all will go to plan and says if the Auckland service takes off the airline will actually make the flight a Brisbane – Norfolk – Auckland return trip.
Buffett says the airline has looked at the figures and is sure it can make the flight commercially viable. He says Air New Zealand quoted a decline in passenger numbers as the reason for pulling the flight.
‘While that’s part of the reason we think there are other factors as well. One is the aircraft type (an A320). We will be running a smaller 737-300 with a 120-seat capacity. The other reason is the decline in marketing dollars aimed at New Zealand by Norfolk Island Tourism.’
Buffett says he intends travelling to New Zealand to speak to the trade once the service is confirmed.
‘Our model will be heavily utilising the travel distribution channels to sell the service and we believe the business is there.’
He says if the service performs as he hopes it will, Norfolk Island Airlines will look at introducing a second weekly flight.
Ross McLauchlan, New Zealand representative of Norfolk Island Tourism, is enthusiastic about the possibility of the new service. ‘It is still an appealing destination for New Zealanders – it’s safe and there is a lot to do on the island.’
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.
Travel agents may need to start warming up their vocal chords for Royal Carribean's 2016 product launch August. ‘A venue is still to be confirmed, as well as the date, but the theme will be New Zealand Has Talent,' hints sales manager NZ for Royal Caribbean International, Mark Kinchley this week. 'Details of auditions will be out to agents across the country shortly and we will be asking for talents to be posted online to a website we are setting up. Voting will also be online and the top five will come to Auckland for the final judging at the August launch.’ Dust those tap dancing shoes off!
There she goes...
Mark Kinchley gave members of the industry a heads up about the theme when they were invited to farewell the Celebrity Solstice earlier this week from a suite at the Hilton Hotel. Following the completion of her third Australasian season, the Solstice set sail on its final departure for 2015. Kinchley, says this year was another record season with double digit growth recorded for cruises ex New Zealand.
‘2016 is on track for the same phenomenal growth, which many of our New Zealand agents can take credit for. The forward bookings are fantastic.’ Celebrity Solstice is the highest rated ship based out of New Zealand and Kinchley adds that the Hawaii bound ship has approximately 300 Kiwis, 1300 Australians and a mix of other international guests.
Looking forward to the 2015/16 season from October, Kinchley says the arrival of the Explorer of the Seas and the inaugural visit of Azamara Quest in January 2016 are both testament to the interest of cruises in this region and the growing local cruise market.
How well do travel agents associations’ boards of directors around the globe reflect the gender balance in the global travel industry? The following is a snap shot of the result of some google searching. These figures are subject to change regularly (for example we understand another woman has been elected to the board in Britain).
That qualification aside we present the figures as we find them.
World Travel Agents Associations Alliance: 14 men, two women. Executive committee of three - all male
Association of British Travel Agents: 11 men, two women. Chief executive: male.
American Society of Travel Agents: 11 men, five women. Chief executive: male
Australian Federation of Travel Agents: 9 men, three women. Chief executive: male.
Travel Association of New Zealand: five men, no women. Chief executive: male
Association of Canadian Travel Agencies: Nine men, four women. Chief operating officer, who is also president: male
Association of South African Travel Agents: five men, three women. President and vice president both women. All executive staff women.
Outrigger Resorts remains open to acquiring the right properties in New Zealand as well as Australia, says Mark Simmons, vice president sales and marketing, Asia Pacific with the company.
Outrigger recently sold its Australian portfolio, saying the properties did not fit in with its future strategy of owning only absolute beachfront properties. However, Simmons stresses that by no means represents a lessening of interest in the region.
‘We’re an opportunistic company, so if the right opportunity came along we would definitely look at it,’ says Simmons.
He also stressed the importance of both New Zealand and Australia as source markets, citing that as a reason for Outrigger’s roadshow that finished in Auckland last night (having already visited Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney).
He says New Zealand represents five percent of the company’s Hawaiian properties’ occupancy at certain times of the year. It is also strong for Phuket in Thailand, Mauritius and obviously Fiji.
‘It is about being aspirational. New Zealand is a wealthy market and our absolute beachfront resorts appeal.’
A total of 15 Outrigger representatives were at the function at the Maritime Room in the Viaduct, Auckland with more than 80 wholesalers, retailers, airline partners and regional tourism organisations.
Outrigger looks to C and I
Outrigger Resorts is making moves in the conference and incentive market. During a visit to Auckland yesterday, Mark Simmons, vice president sales and marketing Asia Pacific, pointed out that a new facility taking 400 people for a meeting was recently added to Outrigger Phuket.
‘There is such great air access in to Phuket now so conferences and incentives can be a big push for us.’
He says the company is also looking at that business in Mauritius and also has a strong corporate incentive and retreat market (though not large meeting facilities) at its Fiji property.
Outrigger looks to boost NZ 'experts'
Outrigger Resorts is looking to increase the number of New Zealand retail agents in its Outrigger Travel Professionals Experts Programme.
Mark Simmons, vice president sales and marketing Asia Pacific, says the programme not only offers rewards in terms of incentives but also provides extra product knowledge. Promoting the programme was one of the objectives of the Outrigger Resorts roadshow that ended at The Maritime Room in Auckland last night.
‘We have about 8000 (experts) worldwide and about 1000 in Australia and New Zealand. If we could grow that by 20% we would be happy.’
He says the programme rewards both agents and their clients. ‘So that encourages people to book with our travel professional experts.’
- Rachel Grunwell, Kini Saukuru, Claudia Reis Rachel Grunwell, Kini Saukuru, Claudia Reis
- Juliet Hudson and Anita Gatley Juliet Hudson and Anita Gatley
- Rose Marie Fong, Natalie Caceres, Janine Keys Rose Marie Fong, Natalie Caceres, Janine Keys
- Ruzanne Keresoma and Sharma Smith Ruzanne Keresoma and Sharma Smith
- Wayne Deed and Donna Parkin Wayne Deed and Donna Parkin
- Petero Manufolau and Bob Devereaux Petero Manufolau and Bob Devereaux
Norfolk Island is set to record its best result in five years for visitor arrivals in 2015. Arrivals are up 17% on 2014 for the first two months of the New Year following on from a solid performance for the July to December period which also recorded an increase on the previous year.
Norfolk Island Tourism general manager, Glen Buffett says this great start to the year is reflective of a significant increase in visitors from both Australia and New Zealand attracted to popular niche travel experiences and our growing events calendar.
‘The remainder of this year looks strong for bookings and we attribute much of this outcome to the success of our ongoing ‘There’s more to Norfolk Island, 360 Degrees of Wonder’ campaign highlighting the array of different experiences on island to be enjoyed,’ Buffett says.
Latest additions to the touring options such as sea kayaking, local cheese tastings, outer island trekking, snorkelling adventures, sports fishing and cooking classes, combined with new events such as the Food Festival in November and Outrigger Canoe challenge in January, have all contributed to increasing and diversifying the island’s many attractions.
A group of Kiwi travel agents was hosted to the island last weekend and enjoyed visiting the convict cemetry, wine tasting at Two Chimney Winery, site inspections and a good look around the island including Emily Bay Lagoon, the World Heritage area of Kingston and various local shops and art galleries.
Norfolk Island has direct Air New Zealand flights from Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland.
Accor’s has four new Mercure hotels joining the group, increasing the number of Mercure hotels across Australia and New Zealand to 49.
In New Zealand, the Abel Tasman Hotel in Wellington will rebrand to Mercure Wellington Abel Tasman as of March 2015. This 73-room hotel is located in the heart of Wellington’s business and entertainment district, and is within walking distance of Lampton Harbour. Facilities include a restaurant, bar bistro and four main function rooms which can cater for up to 120 people.
In Australia, the Ballarat Lodge & Convention Centre will be rebranded to Mercure Ballarat Hotel & Convention Centre in March 2015.
Hotel Launceston in Tasmania will be rebranded to Mercure Launceston in April 2015, and the Best Western Goulburn in New South Wales will join the Accor network in March 2015 and be rebranded as Mercure Goulburn.
A desire not to duplicate the efforts of state and territory offices and other industry partners was one of the reasons behind Tourism Australia’s decision to downsize its physical presence in the New Zealand market, says John O’Sullivan, TA’s managing director. The Auckland office will become a ‘one person band’, with general manager New Zealand Jenny Aitken running the operation alone from 1 July.
O’Sullivan, pictured, spoke to Meeting Newz at the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) in Melbourne yesterday and says the reality is that 94% of New Zealand arrivals into Australia are repeat visitors.
‘We will continue to have the office in Auckland and we will be using our digital and social channels a well as working with key airline partners Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand.
‘However, our focus will be zeroing in on the high yielding business events sector and how we can boost the number of arrivals and increase the spend from that market.’
He says Aitken will be working in the business events (incentives, conferences, meetings, and exhibitions) with support from the Business Events Australia team in Sydney.
O’Sullivan says 195,000 New Zealanders visited Australia for business events for last year, spending $238 million. ‘We want to turbo-charge that.’
A press release from Tourism Australia yesterday stated the New Zealand consumer is now very familiar with the Australian tourism offering. ‘Australia has a 48% share of the outbound New Zealand market - and consequently the need to develop brand awareness here is low.
Tourism Australia’s state and territory tourism partners already invest significantly in the New Zealand market, promoting their own specific regions and experiences, and this will continue. We feel they are best placed to provide New Zealand travellers with the all-important ‘new news’ and provide the reasons for Kiwis to travel and explore deeper into our country.’
Tourism Australia will have a significantly reduced representation in New Zealand with general manager New Zealand, Jenny Aitken running the Auckland office solo from July 1.
The New Zealand team was informed of the changes on Thursday in person by Aitken, accompanied by deputy chief executive Frances-Anne Keeler, who both acknowledged the high performance of the New Zealand team and the great work they have achieved with their partners.
Tourism Australia will increase its focus on the high yielding business events sector in New Zealand through the Auckland office which will maintain its lease in Parnell and will continue to work with partners where business events opportunities exist.
Although New Zealand remains a key market for Australia, a Tourism Australia press release issued this morning states high levels of consumer awareness and conversion currently exist thanks to the combined marketing efforts of Tourism Australia, the state and territory tourism offices and New Zealand trade partners.
DFS and JR both out
Duty free providers DFS and JR Retail will be out of Auckland Airport and two new operators will be in from 1 July 2015.
LS Travel Retail Pacific and Aer Rianta will be the two new duty-free operators.
Richard Barker, Auckland Airport’s general manager of retail and commercial says the airport has completed its international tender process. He says the airport received five strong bids.
LS Travel and Aer Rianta will have licences for at least seven years.
‘They will provide our passengers with shopping experiences unrivalled anywhere else in the country.’
Luxury travel network Virtuoso has announced a partnership with First Travel Group, the New Zealand independent travel alliance specialising in high-end leisure and corporate travel.
First Travel Group members Voyage Affaires and North Shore Business Travel have been Virtuoso members for more than 10 years and this foundation in the luxury market provided the impetus for a deeper partnership between the brands.
Virtuoso Asia-Pacific managing director Michael Londregan says First Travel Group members Stars Travel New Plymouth, Business World Travel and Holland Clarke & Beatson have been added to the network.
‘They will be joining our longstanding members to create a more viable scale and market coverage position.’