Hot Off The Press
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.
Virgin Atlantic is pushing to become ‘the brand to the United Kingdom’ out of New Zealand, and says its relationship with the trade here is a crucial part of achieving that goal.
Stephen King, head of Asia Pacific based in Hong Kong, and Janine Walsh, commercial manager based in Shanghai, are in Auckland for tonight’s National Travel Industry Awards, and have taken the opportunity to catch up with local trade and media.
King says the opportunity for New Zealanders to fly with Air New Zealand to either Hong Kong, Shanghai, San Francisco or Los Angeles then the rest of the journey with VS means there is plenty of potential still out of this market.
This is particularly true as Virgin Atlantic has flown the 787-9 out of Shanghai since June and out of Hong Kong since July.
‘We are getting great customer feedback about the 787-9 and receiving proactive, unprompted emails about how much people are enjoying the aircraft.’ King says the premium economy offering does particularly well out of the New Zealand market.
Following Jetstar’s announcement earlier this year that it will service at least four new domestic locations from December, Air New Zealand says they are prepared for the competition and it will be healthy for consumers throughout the country.
‘Four Q300s showing up in NZ isn’t something we should get too freaked out about,’ chief executive Christopher Luxon says.
‘We are comfortable in our ability to compete… Competition is great for the country and the people.’
Luxon says there are elements of payback in Jetstar’s ‘macro-strategic play’.
‘A little bit of this is payback for the [Air NZ] investment in Virgin Australia, challenging [Qantas] hard in their own market.’
It was announced Wednesday morning that Air New Zealand will boost domestic capacity 8% this year, offering more than two million domestic fares for less than $100.
Air NZ’s growth benefits staff, includes challenges
On the back of Air New Zealand’s record annual result, chief executive Christopher Luxon says the outcome is not only good news for the airline’s shareholders, but also for employees.
‘In the last year we have established a company performance bonus to allow all Air New Zealanders to benefit when we deliver superior commercial results, and this will be paid to employees next week.’
The bonus will see 8,000 staff who are not on other incentive programmes receive payments of up to $1,400.
On Wednesday morning, Air New Zealand announced its 2015 annual result, with normalised earnings before taxation of $496 million for the 2015 financial year, an increase of 49% on the prior year.
Statutory earnings before taxation were $474 million, while statutory net profit after taxation was $327 million, an increase of 24%.
‘Very strong’ operating cash flow of $1.1 billion was up 51% from financial year 2014.
Moving forward, chairman Tony Carter says the airline is expecting an 11% growth in capacity, including two new international destinations and substantial domestic growth.
Luxon says the next financial year poses a number of exciting challenges for the airline.
Firstly, executing well in two new marketplaces (North and Latin America) will be a priority for the airline.
According to Luxon, a recent study conducted in Latin America revealed that when listing holiday destinations, New Zealand came in as Latin American’s 48th choice of country.
Luxon says an increase in awareness needs to occur in order for this to improve and ensure the new Buenos Aires route is a long term success.
However, he says Buenos Aires and Houston are both selling well so far and an increase in capacity may already be on the cards.
Luxon also says another challenge for the company is enhancing their use of digital technology - specifically web development and optimising airport experiences for customers.
‘We aim to be a leading digital organisation in Australasia and to be one of the best digital airlines globally.
‘Now more than ever we are focused on the use of innovation and technology to remove customer pain points and make journeys seamless,’ he continues.
‘We are continuously looking to technology to interact with our customers, leverage customer data for their benefit and provide them with the best travel experience.’
The continuing popularity of the Anaheim for Kiwis meant that 30 agents were on a waiting list to participate in an educational event that took place at Hilton Auckland last night.
The 180 agent turnout was bigger than events in Canada, Australia, and the UK for director of tourism development at Visit Anaheim, Pepe Avila who credits a twenty year relationship and constant transformation for the destination’s resilience in this market.
‘Anaheim has a love affair with the New Zealand market,’ he says. ‘One in four visitors to the US from New Zealand comes to Anaheim. We have 21 partners with us in Auckland, the largest ever to New Zealand - some of them have been coming here for 20 years.’
New and evolving product means that the average Kiwi stay of six nights is not enough says Avila. ‘We have new products that Kiwis don’t know about – horseback riding, helicopter tours and zip-lining at Catalina Island. Disneyland is celebrating 60 years, Knots Berry Farm has the new Voyage to the Iron reef interactive 3D ride and Universal Studios is opening The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.’
Offering Anaheim as a base for a Southern California holiday, as well as being a destination in itself, was another message promoted by Visit Anaheim. The city’s competitive hotel rates and transportation links combined with its location between Los Angeles and San Diego makes it an ideal base for exploring the region, says Avila.
- Shannon Bailey, Bon Voyage Cruises & Travel meets with Leah Avila from DoubleTree by Hilton Shannon Bailey, Bon Voyage Cruises & Travel meets with Leah Avila from DoubleTree by Hilton
- Bob Deveraux, The Travel Brokers and Michael Fernandes, Beyond 2000 Travel Bob Deveraux, The Travel Brokers and Michael Fernandes, Beyond 2000 Travel
- Luanne Miracle, Knott’s Berry Farm and Toni Paltridge, Dive Fish and Snow Luanne Miracle, Knott’s Berry Farm and Toni Paltridge, Dive Fish and Snow
- Janet Tucker, House of Travel Albany and Peter Manase, Manase Travel Janet Tucker, House of Travel Albany and Peter Manase, Manase Travel
- Look what Margy won... Look what Margy won...
Jetstar will be launching low fares on five routes between Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Auckland and Wellington.
Nelson to Auckland and Napier to Auckland flights will take off from the beginning of December, in time for the busy tourism season in both holiday destinations.
New Plymouth to Auckland, Palmerston North to Auckland and Nelson to Wellington flights will follow early next year, with services scheduled to begin from 1 February 2016.
The finalists in the 2015 Tourism Industry Awards have been named.
Selected from over 100 entries, the 34 finalists across two individual and eight business categories represent most sectors across the $24 billion tourism industry, Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA) chief executive Chris Roberts says.
The winners will be announced at a black-tie dinner in Auckland on 2 October.
The winner of the Air New Zealand Supreme Tourism Industry Award will receive international air travel to any Air New Zealand destination in North America, South America or Asia valued at up to $10,000 to help them grow their tourism business.
The finalists are:
Emerging Tourism Leader, supported by PATA Trust - Ross Copland, Coronet Peak Ski Area Queenstown; Sarah Greener, The Rock Adventure Cruise, Paihia; Ryan Sanders, Haka Tours Ltd, Auckland.
Tourism Industry Champion, supported by Sudima Hotels & Resorts - Kiri Goulter, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism; Jeroen Jongejans, Dive! Tutukaka; Bruce Thomasen, Skyline Enterprises Ltd, Rotorua.
Visitor Experience Award, supported by ServiceIQ - Coronet Peak Ski Area, Queenstown; Dart River - Ngai Tahu Tourism; Rainbow’s End Theme Park Ltd; Auckland SKYCITY Grand Hotel, Auckland.
Business Excellence Award – annual turnover less than $6 million, supported by Westpac - CQ Hotels, Wellington; Dive! Tutukaka; Haka Tours Ltd, Auckland.
Business Excellence Award – annual turnover more than $6 million, supported by JLT/AIG - Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa; Rainbow’s End Theme Park Ltd, Auckland; Skyline, Rotorua; Thrifty Car Rental, Christchurch.
Environmental Tourism Award - Coronet Peak Ski Area, Queenstown; Dive! Tutukaka; The Langham, Auckland; Ziptrek Ecotours, Queenstown.
Maori Cultural Tourism Award - Auckland War Memorial Museum; Ngai Tahu Tourism, Christchurch; TIME Unlimited Tours, Auckland.
Tourism Marketing Campaign Award, supported by ReserveGroup - Destination Rotorua; Haka Tours Ltd, Auckland; Thrifty Car Rental NZ, Christchurch.
Industry Alignment Award - Art Deco Trust, Napier; Bay of Islands Destination Marketing Group; Department of Conservation/Air New Zealand - The Great Walk Story; The Middle Earth Trilogy, Te Puia; Hobbiton Movie Set Tours; Discover Waitomo.
Tourism 2025 Enabler Award, supported by Auckland Airport - Angus & Associates, Wellington; Positively Wellington Tourism; Taupo District Council; Tuaropaki Ltd; Destination Great Lake Taupo.
Craig Hopley, St Heliers House of Travel, says the local numbers of long haul business class travellers is growing as airlines seek to differentiate themselves in the highly competitive market.
‘Today’s business class traveller can expect chauffeur services to get them to the airport, on-board chefs, lie flat beds and even direct access from the lounge to the plane,’ he says.
Hopley estimates that 10% of his local customers fly business or first class when travelling long haul, and believes their needs often aren’t met by a traditional approach due to their unique requirements.
His new invitation only travel service has been launched to capitalise on an increasing number of Kiwis wanting premium travel services.
The VIP services offer time poor professionals who travel frequently the ability to have in-home consultations with a specialist to plan upcoming international itineraries.
The new service will open in St Heliers, which is home to some of the country’s most expensive properties and a number of rich listers.
Hopley says interestingly his VIP market regularly book trips last-minute, as opposed to most Kiwi travellers who reserve flights and accommodation months ahead of time in order to get the best deal.
He says there is an emerging group of premium travellers who travel multiple times throughout the year, change their itineraries frequently, and generally travel first class whether for business or a leisure break.
Hopley says the service will be offered by invitation only to clients who frequently travel worldwide, and would value a service that works in with their schedule.
Travelling to all 196 sovereign nations around the world, Cassandra De Pecol is trying to break a world record while promoting ‘peaceful tourism’.
In the 86 countries represented by SKAL International, De Pecol will present a local representative with the ‘Creo of the Peaceful Traveller’ - a manifesto outlining the ideals behind her journey. She will also spread her message through visits to school and university groups in each country.
‘The key messages are really to travel with kindness and an open mind. A lot of people visit different countries with a chip on their shoulder, and forfeit potential experiences and friendships.
‘In this day and age it’s also extremely important to support local economies and eco tours while respecting the natural environment.’
De Pecol will ultimately produce a documentary of her travels, while also putting together 60 second commercials for each country she visits.
‘I think the widespread negativity of the media is a problem. The worst parts of each destination are usually the only ones broadcast to the public.
‘I want to show people the beauty that each country has, moving from the negative to the positive.’
SKAL senior vice president Nigel Pilkington agrees that more needs to be done to promote peaceful, positive travel.
‘As tourists, we carry our culture and country wherever we go, and how we act reflects not just on ourselves as individuals, but on our people.
‘I think we’ve come a long way already. Young people today have a much more developed sense of cross cultural communication and relativity through tools like social media.
‘We’ve got to teach people to be travellers and not tourists – tourists aren’t good for the environment, whereas travellers are sustainable, respectful and willing to learn and adapt.’
After leaving New Zealand, De Pecol heads to Tonga, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, and estimates she will touch down in Iran, the 196th country on her list, in two and a half years. http://expedition196.com/