Hot Off The Press
Norwegian Cruise Lines is envisaging expanding its presence in New Zealand over the next few years, though in the meantime its sole representative based here after 31 March will be country manager Chris D’Anvers.
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced yesterday that the March date would mark the ‘transitioning’ of its luxury brands Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises to its corporate office in Sydney. The integration includes all sales
and marketing functions being moved away from representative Cruise Holidays.
‘The rationale for our business is to have a corporate presence in Australia and New Zealand,’ says Steve Odell, managing director NCLH Asia Pacific.
‘Representation can take you so far but having one group with three brands it definitely makes sense from economies of scale and a management point of view to drive the business from a corporate point of view.’
He says the departure from Cruise Holidays in New Zealand has been amicable and comes after eight months of talking and through a well managed process. ‘We’ve been lucky that we’ve had a fantastic partnership with Cruise Holidays.’
Odell says Auckland based D’Anvers, who previously worked with GO Holidays and who already handles the NCL business will represent all three brands after 31 March.
He adds that the company is currently recruiting for luxury specialists (and receiving applications from Kiwis) for its sales and contact centre teams in order that its business transitions smoothly and trade partners and guests are provided with the fullest support and expertise.
‘We are not going to base any more people in New Zealand at this stage but as we grow we will probably look at more positions. Culturally there has to be a connection between our staff and the people in the market.’
New Zealand will be visited by Oceania Marina on 9 March, while Oceania Insignia will journey through Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific waters from 9 to 28 May.
Corporate travel management companies are mirroring positive vibes of their leisure counterparts and predicting a strong year ahead.
Brendan Drury, managing director of Orbit Auckland, says intense global competition is driving increased corporate travel out of New Zealand and new routes are adding to the ease of doing international business. ‘Growth and opportunities are not new but the trade relationships already there are being supported by new airline routes.’ He says the United States continues to offer opportunity, enhanced by Air New Zealand’s service into Houston. ‘As we have more presence in a destination, the marketing increases and so does the presence - this all adds up and people start to think to us as a more viable market.’
Keith Sumner, managing director of Gilpin Travel, says the situation obviously varies by sector. ‘We are seeing a lot of accounts up year on year. Particularly companies involved in infrastructure and others with a heavy export component have increasing travel requirements.’ He says Gilpin is also seeing more activity when it comes to the outsourcing of incentives and other sales promotions, plus meetings and exhibitions. ‘People are realising this sort of thing is a driver of their business. It’s nothing new, but motivating sales staff year after year often requires a carrot of some sort to get the results that are desired.’
Sumner says any thoughts that technology would replace business travel have been put to rest. ‘Years ago video conferencing was going to kill our industry. The internet was going to kill our industry – everything was going to kill our industry. But people now realise the need for face-to-face meetings and for developing relationships. There is a trust you gain by talking over a desk or having a discussion over dinner – that can’t be replaced by the internet.’
Orbit’s Drury says technology such as Skype and video conferencing just adds to the mix of ways to communicate. ‘You can’t beat the face to face meeting, with the eye contact, the hand shake and the body language. But that is not always viable. Companies are thinking, ‘how quickly do we need to make contact, is it important to all be in the same place? If you have a manager who is working remotely it is important to see him or her from time to time, but in between, a conference call will work.’
Sumner says there are still opportunities for corporate agencies when it comes to satisfying their clients’ leisure requirements – either combined with a business trip or (particularly) their holidays. Gilpin has partnered with a travel broker to manage customers’ leisure needs, adding the flexibility that is required,’ he says.
Rail Plus is giving New Zealand travel consultants the chance to take part in its Global Rail Expert training programme, with top graduates set to share in $2000 worth of Countdown vouchers.
The online training programme officially launches today and was given a plug at a function in Oyster and Chop last night. Consultants are required to complete 10 modules over a seven-week period.
James Dunne, chief executive officer Australia & New Zealand with Rail Plus says this is the first time the programme has been open to New Zealanders. Last night’s function was the first in Australasia – it moves to Canberra today and then onto Gold Coast, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Sydney.
The modules cover rail-related topics including Eurail, European high-speed rail networks, the Swiss Travel System, Great Train Journeys and the latest products and services from VIA Rail, Rocky Mountaineer and Amtrak. This year the programme incorporates a special module on Qatar Airways.
The highest-performing graduate - judged by the number of questions answered correctly and overall time taken to complete the course - will win a $1000 Countdown voucher, with second and third placed graduates rewarded with vouchers worth $750 and $250 respectively.
Rail Plus chief executive James Dunne says there is a clear hunger for rail knowledge among New Zealand travel agents and the Global Rail Expert programme provides a fun and informative way for participants to take their skills to a new level.
Emirates will start its first non-stop service from Auckland to Dubai from March. It will bring New Zealand and Europe, Africa and the Middle East via Dubai much closer than at present, with an estimated flight time of just under 16 hours from Dubai to New Zealand and 17 hours, 15 minutes in the other direction.
The new service, operating out of Auckland from 2 March, will be in addition to the airline's existing flights, meaning that Emirates will then have five services daily from New Zealand - three A380 double-decker services from Auckland via Australia, a daily Christchurch service with a Boeing 777-300ER and the new non-stop service operated with a Boeing 777-200LR.
Operating west-bound as flight EK449, the non-stop service will depart Auckland each night (local summer time) at 9.30pm, arriving in Dubai the following morning at 5.45am (local time). Operating east-bound as EK448, the service will depart Dubai at 10.05am and arrive in Auckland the following day at 11.00am.
Stella no longer – hello helloworld and its new look are being revealed right now to the company’s ‘family’ (over coffee and cupcakes) and will be rolled out over the next couple of weeks to the public.
A number of stores, including one in Milford and another in Ponsonby, Auckland, are likely to be up and running with the complete new look by the end of this week.
And the head office reception area at Chorus House in Auckland received a new fit out over the weekend – new signage and furniture indicative of what will be seen in helloworld stores is there already.
However, executive general manager Simon McKearney says the change is about much more than branding and a new look. ‘For example we are launching a division for people engagement, headed by Donna Kermode with initiatives around health, finance and well being. There will be more training, both internal and external for franchisees.’
McKearney says that along with fully branded stores, the market will see associate stores – with the tagline ‘Proud to be an associate of helloworld’. Some of the United Stores and some former Air New Zealand Holiday Shops will fit into that. (More details in tomorrow’s TRAVELinc Memo).
helloworld also has an ‘affiliate network ‘of independent stores and some 110 brokers.
Aranui 5’s inaugural appearance in the Marquesas Archipelago last month was a major event for the islands, as villagers lined wharves to greet the new vessel and its cargo.
Bringing essential supplies for the communities it serves, Aranui accommodates 254 passengers looking for a different style of cruise.
There are no casinos. Instead, travellers are entertained by a crew band or presentations conducted by renowned lecturers.
The 14-day cruise, which set sail from Papeete during mid-December, coincided with the 2015 Marquesan Arts Festival. French Polynesia and Easter Island residents come together for four days of arts, culture, dances and tattooing.
Held every four years, the festival is a chance for the younger generation of Polynesians to identify with their heritage and ancestral traditions.
Aranui 5 cruises to nine islands with 17 ports of call during its two-week voyage to Marquesas, Tuamotu and Society Islands. Wholesalers have 2016 rates.
Agents and consumers who support them are being encouraged to vent their disapproval, via social media, of the Webjet advert currently showing on New Zealand television.
As mentioned in yesterday’s One Minute Memo, the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand has reported that consumers are coming forward to back travel agents.
TAANZ chief executive officer Andrew Olsen says it has been extremely encouraging to see the support coming in for travel agents off the back of the Webjet ad.
Wendy van Lieshout, chief executve officer at World Travellers, says people should comment on YouTube, Facebook and other social media.
van Lieshout herself posted: ‘Come on Webjet... the only way you can think of promoting yourselves is to put down the knowledge and integrity of travel agents?
‘Incidentally Travel Agents are once again in growth mode due to the prevalence of products such as yours. Plenty of travellers want to connect with knowledgeable professionals to make their bookings and to know they have the back-up and peace-of-mind of having someone personally managing their arrangements. Cheap shot really.’
David Coombes is Flight Centre (NZ) Ltd’s new managing director.
Coombes, who has been with the company for 15 years, previously spent almost three years in New Zealand between 2011 and 2013 as general manager product. He returns to the business today ready to take the pilot’s seat and will succeed Chris Greive, who announced his departure late last year.
‘Coombsie’, as he is affectionately known, started his career with Flight Centre Travel Group more than 15 years ago as a travel consultant in Brisbane, Australia. He’s since risen through the ranks to his most recent position as senior vice president product in the United States.
Coombes has led multiple teams to global recognition at the FCTG Global Gathering, achieved record business results in NZ and the USA and was the recipient of the FCNZ Directors Award for 2013/2014.
Greive will officially finish at the end of February 2016 after almost two years as managing director. Greive has been with FCTG for more than 30 years, having previously led the New Zealand business from 1990 to 2004. Although Greive officially steps down as managing director he will continue an active involvement with the company in an advisory capacity.
The New Zealand travel industry is paying tribute to one of the leaders in the aviation sector in this country. Mark Reeder, general manager New Zealand and South Pacific for World Aviation Systems, passed away on Tuesday December 29 after a short illness.
Close friend David Doughty, who worked with him at British Airways, says Mark began his career with Air New Zealand on the first intake of the carrier’s cadet scheme. He then joined British Airways in the early 1970s, where another well known aviation figure – Peter Moore – was also employed.
Mark worked with BA for 25 years, during which time he became well known as the writer of the BABs Bulletin. In 1995 he was one of the last to leave BA in New Zealand when it closed its Auckland office.
‘He then took a year’s leave and painted his house in Takapuna before getting back into the industry with World Aviation Systems, where he was eventually appointed general manager.’
Outside his work life Mark Reeder enjoyed boating and had a passion for food and wine – he was regarded as a fantastic cook. He was also heavily involved in North Shore cricket, where his sons played through the grades, and he was involved in both coaching and administration there.
Mark was a long time and active member of SKAL International and is pictured above at an Auckland SKAL lunch in October this year.
He is survived by his wife Cathie and sons Andrew and Christopher.