Hot Off The Press
New Zealand travel agents are being urged to ‘turn the screen around’ both literally and figuratively to show their clients what other people say about their Trafalgar Guided Holiday experiences.
Chief executive officer of Trafalgar, Gavin Tollman, is in New Zealand now and has revealed the company’s new tagline – ‘Simply the best’.
Tollman says that like everything the company now does, the line is based on customer feedback.
‘We have constantly been hearing things like ‘I have had the best holiday’, ‘you have the best travel directors’ and ‘that was the best experience of my life.’
He says that Trafalgar fully integrated unedited, uncurated guest feedback to its website last year, through the independent review company Feefo. He adds that more than 12,500 gests have given Trafalgar a 97% satisfaction rating.
‘We believe in total transparency and we listen to our feedback and act on it. We want people to see the reality of the amazing experiences we deliver.’
Tollman says the trade should be using Trafalgar’s guest feedback to sell the product.
‘We have made it so simple for our trade partners. We haven’t just thrown the information on line, we have put specific feedback against every single itinerary. So if the customer is considering the Best of Italy, for example, an agent can go to that itinerary and read the reviews.
‘Unequivocally, turn the screen around - whether you actually literally do that, or read a review over the phone or send it by email. In today’s day and age, this is how people buy. They are hugely influenced by third party reviews.’
Tollman says the trade in New Zealand deserves a ‘big thank you’ from Trafalgar. ‘The New Zealand office won the title of office of the year and that was driven by having the highest percentage growth of any of our eight selling offices around the world.’
Trafalgar has added an 11 day Celtic Filmscapes guided holiday from Edinburgh to Dublin, with departures priced from $4425. The holiday is deigned to reveal the dramatic scenery and locations of productions such as Game of Thrones, Outlander, James Bond, Cloud Atlas, Chariots of Fire, Michael Collins and My Left Foot.
Also new is a 10 day Ultimate Iceland guided holiday to and from Reykjavik. It features glaciers, lava formations, geysers, fjords and the world famous Blue Lagoon.
A new eight day Rome Explorer holiday allows travellers to rub shoulders with the locals at Campo di Fiori market and learn how to make Italian pizza.
House of Travel has introduced a members’ only club delivering UK and Europe deals for its customers.
Any customer who purchases a UK or Europe airfare from 1 August 2015 will receive membership to The Club, granting access to discounts from leading land suppliers. The Club has a number of deals live already, with more deals to be added as they become available from suppliers.
House of Travel marketing director Ken Freer, says The Club is an opportunity to develop an ongoing conversation with Kiwis as they plan their 2016 European adventure.
‘The 2016 UK & Europe Club is our way of thanking our loyal customers. Club members will receive exclusive discount offers on coach tours and cruise, rental cars, excursions and accommodation’ he says.
‘We know that many customers will take advantage of the great early bird airfare deals now in market and confirm their land arrangements at a later date. We want The Club to recognise this fact and give our customers access to the very best value for money when planning their 2016 European holiday.’
The biggest delegation from Western Australia ‘in years’ was in Auckland yesterday aiming to shift the perception that the state was expensive, and to build on the 80,000 Kiwis that visit there each year.
‘At one point Western Australia was considered expensive,’ says Kelsie Johnston, director international marketing, Tourism Western Australia. ‘Now that mining has dropped off, hotels want leisure business and are willing to meet the market – especially with all the new hotels coming on board over the next few years.’
Johnston says there will be more competition and existing hotels are upgrading to match the new product.
‘This is why we have so many hotels that have joined us in Auckland,’ she says. Hotels and tourism operators joined regional tourism organisations from WA, adding Auckland to its Australian eastern seaboard roadshow.
‘New Zealand is number three market in terms of numbers,’ says Johnston. ‘In economic impact, it’s number five at $174 million, so it is a significant and important market for us.’
Tourism Western Australia has a $12 billion visitor spend target as part of its 2020 tourism strategy. The state is aiming at an international visitor spend of $4.5 billion, ‘and we are on track to achieve this,’ continues Johnston.
A first phase of infrastructure development with more accommodation and increased aviation access has been achieved with around 1500 new hotel rooms coming online over the next two years. ‘Most of these are four to five star,’ says Johnston. ‘The new Como Hotel in the old treasury building opens next month with 48 rooms – it’s high end with butler service. The ground floor will be pedestrian friendly with around 14 retail and restaurant outlets.’
New airlines flying into Perth are Qatar, Etihad and Scoot. ‘Emirates has upgraded to an A380 on its Perth route and Air New Zealand and Qantas have increased capacity.
‘Now we have momentum - this is part of what the road show is all about.’
The soon to open Taumeasina Island Resort, five minutes’ drive from the centre of Apia, is generating plenty of interest in the New Zealand trade, says general manager Nathan Bucknall.
The resort opening in the first half of 2016 and Bucknall has been promoting it around the country as part of the Beautiful Samoa road show. He was joined at the Auckland event last night by marketing associate Lillie Dahl.
‘The resort will be four to 4.5 star and will be close to the city but offer an island lifestyle,’ says Dahl.
Taumeasina will have just over 100 rooms, with 25 two to three bedroom fully furnished villas and 80 hotel suites, many interconnecting. It will also have a swimming pool, two private beaches, and a ballroom that can split into three, gym and a spa.
‘It will appeal to all markets, including business, families and weddings,’ says Dahl.
Bucknall says the property has been generating ‘amazing interest’ during the road show. ‘Everyone is interested and keen to see it open. Because of its quality and size it offers a brand new option in Samoa.’
The travel industry has ‘lost its way’ when it comes to attracting young people and promoting consultancy as a career choice, says Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) president Peter Barlow.
At the TAANZ AGM in Heritage Auckland recently, Barlow, who is also managing director of BCD Travel New Zealand, identified the launching of a schools pathway programme as one of the major achievements in the past 12 months. He now wants travel agency owners and managers to do more to attract, retain and develop youthful talent.
‘The schools pathway programme means an agency can adopt a school, and give opportunities for interested students to visit the agency and understand what the role (of a consultant) is. This may lead to an employment and career opportunity. Travel agents could also build a relationship where they can go into a school and speak.’
Barlow says the industry has ‘got hung up’ on trying to employ experienced staff and these people are not necessarily being employed for the right reasons in all cases.
‘I am calling on the industry to invest and take a chance with young people who can bring real value to a business and possibly a succession plan as a consequence (of their employment).’
Barlow says there is often pressure on young people to go to university without a clear idea of where they want a degree to take them. ‘They do a general degree and come out at 23 or 24 with an entry level expectation that is possibly higher than justifiable.
‘In our sector there is an opportunity to get people early, train them and immerse them in the travel industry.’
Businesses can save time and money by increasing visibility into employee travel expense data, according to Concur. Letting employees see how their booking choices match up to the company’s policies and how they compare with fellow employees’ choices encourages them to make more economic choices.
Matt Goss, managing director of Concur Australia New Zealand, says businesses that share more information with travelling employees can encourage them to make sustainable choices for the business.
Concur advises businesses consider three tips.
1. Provide visibility
Sharing benchmark data on employee spend can lead travellers to ask questions like, ‘How does my trip compare to my colleagues?’, ‘Why is my trip more expensive than the average?’, and How can I reduce my expenditure?’ Sharing this data encourages employees to save money on advance purchases and shows them how to stay within travel policy.
Businesses must move beyond relying on ‘screen guilt’, where they expect employees to choose cheaper flights and accommodation because of the range of choices online. Instead, providing visibility of spend and incentivising economical choices positively reinforces the need to make economic travel choices. For example, businesses can use gamification tools to drive travel policy compliance.
3. Commit to sharing
Information availability is growing exponentially. Businesses that embrace the data sharing trend, and offer business travellers new ways to interact with the information, can significantly improve their travel and expense programme.
‘Companies that fail to leverage the volume and quality of available information are missing out on opportunities to save substantial sums on business and travel expenses. It’s a relatively simple process to create visibility and reinforce the right habits throughout the organisation. Companies that do so will see results, fast,’ says Goss.
Reece Scott has won sales manager of the year at the recent AAT Kings’ brand conference in Sydney.
General manager of AAT Kings New Zealand, Bruce Gentry, says this is a well-deserved win for Scott and the team.
‘New Zealand sales are currently up 25% year over year. A big congratulations to Reece, the AAT Kings team and the New Zealand trade.’
He says Scott has done an outstanding job reconnecting the business and this award is recognition of his success and the valued support that AAT Kings enjoys from the industry. ‘2016 is certainly looking very bright with strong forward bookings.’ he says.
Agents and their clients will be excused for thinking they have been transported to the United States if they are in downtown Auckland on Friday 25 September from 3pm - 7pm.
That’s when a Portland Pop Up Visitor Centre will be at No 1 Queen Street, in partnership with Hawaiian Airlines and Coast FM.
Corey Marshall, account director with Travel Oregon, says the event will see Team Portland/Oregon ‘come to Auckland like we never have before’.
Marshall says this is a chance for people to ‘learn, share in, taste and even feel a little bit of Oregon.’
He says trade partners are encouraged to leverage the pop up event and the marketing campaign that is focusing on Portland between 14 September and 25 September with electronic direct mail, social activity or any other marketing efforts.
‘All agents and consumers are welcome to come down to No 1 Queen,’ he says. ‘We will be there to answer questions, take photos, and have fun.’
Marshall adds that people will be able to meet one of the bike makers from Portland Oregon’s Ahearne Bicycles. ‘They will even be able to Instagram their way to winning a custom made bicycle valued at US$5000.’
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Changi Airport Group, in collaboration with Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore Airlines, has re-launched the Free Singapore Tour.
This gives travellers who are in transit the chance to explore Singapore during their stopovers.
The Free Singapore Tour has a range of experiences and packages. Nine tours operate daily, so travellers who have never been to the destination can have a brief experience of what the city offers – from attractions like the Gardens by the Bay or the Singapore Flyer, to cultural precincts of Chinatown or Kampong Glam.
Sharon Lam, area director Oceania Singapore Tourism Board, says the tour is an excellent way for travellers who’ve only been inside Changi Airport to get a taste of the city while waiting for the next part of their journey.
‘We’re confident many New Zealanders who try a free tour will be inspired to make a longer return visit.’