Flight Centre Travel Group (FLT) will acquire two high profile New Zealand travel businesses. One is Travel Managers Group (TMG), a predominantly leisure-focused group that provides systems and support services to a network of more than 180 individual brokers. TMG also operates a 22-shop franchise network, which includes 12 TravelSmart shops and 10 non-branded stores. The other is Executive Travel Group (ETG), New Zealand’s largest independent corporate travel management company.
New stores, new technology and nationwide brand recognition are all indicators of the huge progress being made by helloworld, just over a year since the company launched across New Zealand. At the helloworld gala awards, in Christchurch on Saturday night, general manager marketing, David Libeau, was in an upbeat mood.
A number of independent agents at the Global Travel Network (GTN) Conference over the weekend say they often feel like they are on the ‘periphery’ of the travel industry and forgotten about by suppliers – both air and land. They cited the chance to catch up with 24 airlines, tour operators, cruise companies and other suppliers under one roof as the key reason to attend the conference at Rydges Rotorua.
Recent research from Concur claims that many companies are unaware they have a legal obligation to fulfil their duty of care responsibilities for travelling employees.
However, Paul Halford, marketing manager at Orbit World Travel, says that’s not quite the case anymore.
‘Across the Orbit business, we have a large number of clients – small, medium, large, private, and public. What we see on a day-to-day basis is that employers are definitely aware that they have an obligation, especially over the last 12 months or so,’ he says.
The skills crisis in New Zealand’s tourism and travel starts in secondary schools, where both teachers and students in the topics are often looked down upon by their peers, says a leading educator in the sector.
Megan Roberts, tourism work integrated learning leader and industry liaison and senior lecturer at School of Hospitality and Tourism Auckland University of Technology (AUT) says the issue urgently needs leadership.
“The situation in secondary schools needs a real shake-up,’ says Roberts. ‘Tourism and hospitality are often seen as the options for less academic students.
More than 40% of the audience at a recent travel conference felt that travel agencies and travel management companies are most at risk from the various changes taking place in the industry now.
Another 30.7% of the audience at the Travelport LIVE conference in Sydney felt that everyone in the sector was at risk, while 9.9% felt GDS and technology providers had the most to fear. Airlines came in at 7.7%.
The survey came during a panel discussion on the distribution landscape, when moderator Peter Harbison, executive chairman of CAPA (Centre for Aviation) identified consumer empowerment and big data players as the
Travellers who engage a travel agent now are often seeking something more akin to an ‘incentive travel’ experience than simply an off the shelf product, says Penny Henderson of special interest travel company Pack Ya Bags.
Traditionally incentives have been the domain of corporates who set targets and then have inspiring programmes devised for the people who achieve those goals. The recipients tend to feel short changed if they feel they could have easily devised and purchased the travel products themselves.
One of the largest hotel trade expos to happen in New Zealand will take place late May, when the Marriott International Global Sales Mission is held at the Maritime Room in Auckland.
Travel retailers and brokers are welcome to attend, as are professional conference and incentive organisers, wholesalers and corporate travel agents/travel management companies.The Mission is the first time Marriott has brought its showcase to these shores and encompasses what used to be known as the Starwood Expo.
The South African visa situation has already caused leading incentive operator Dragonfly Africa to lose a big booking out of the New Zealand market, and the effects are ongoing.
Yolanda Woeke-Jacobs, director sales and marketing with Dragonfly, says the company lost a booking of 400 people through an incentive company in New Zealand because the extra cost and time involved in fronting up at an office for a visa made the trip uneconomic and impractical. The trip was worth about 10 million rand (more than NZ$1million) to the South African economy, not counting airfares.
House of Travel this month signed World Animal Protection’s elephant-friendly tourism pledge, committing not to sell, offer or promote venues or activities involving elephant rides and shows.
House of Travel marketing director Ken Freer says tourists often want to experience wild animals when on holiday, especially in places such as Asia and Africa, but sometimes don’t realise the animals can suffer hidden cruelty so they can interact with people.
By Lisa Bradley
A salve has been applied to the South African visa situation with the establishment of a second application centre – but there is still a way to go, says TAANZ.
The South African High Commission has announced VFS Global will run a centre in Auckland from today. The facility is in addition to the one being run in Wellington.
Foodie travel has found its place over the past couple of years, but there is more growth to come, according to a small but diverse group of tourist offices and tour companies at The Auckland Food Show this week. Intrepid is showing off its Food Worldwide Adventures brochure and hosting a competition for show visitors to win a trip up to the value of $3000. Intrepid assistant manager Charlotte Randell says the company’s food tours are a big hit and the range on offer has steadily grown. New food adventure destinations include South Korea and Israel.
There’s a skill shortage looming in the service industry that’s going to affect all New Zealanders, across all regions, and visitors to our country. That’s the bold claim of Dean Minchington, ServiceIQ CEO, who says there is a very real crisis around the corner. ‘It puts our successful service sectors at risk, and unless things change soon, New Zealand will be worse for it,’ he says. It’s a shortage of skilled labour needed to fill around 200,000 jobs that will be opening in the next two and a half years, according to the latest At Your Service Aotearoa economic report.
Travelport has released Travelport Trip Assist in Asia Pacific. The new mobile product is designed for travel agents and is being showcased at the company’s annual APAC customer conference event, Travelport LIVE, in Sydney this week. Travelport says it is projected that in 2017, 50% of global mobile travel sales will originate in Asia Pacific. Trip Assist will help agencies by providing advanced mobile travel capabilities such as flexible itinerary management, real time communications and day of travel assistance.
World Journeys has just released Journeys 2018, its range of small group journeys to destinations around the globe.
Director Ange Pirie points out that all departures are guaranteed to go, with a maximum of 18 guests and minimum number.
In addition, all tours are guaranteed to be fully hosted from New Zealand.
‘This is so important – agents can book their clients on a tour in full condence with the knowledge that it will depart,’ says Pirie.
The FCM Travel Solutions NZ Spotlight on Business Travel Trends 2017 report shows business travel continues to rise, despite technology such as Skype for Business and WebEx. This reinforces International Air Transport Association (IATA) full-year global passenger traffic results for 2016 showing demand lifting 6% over 2015, with the Asia Pacific region demand growing by 8%. Some 95% of FCM Travel Solutions clients when surveyed said they will be continuing to spend the same, if not more on international travel.
An environmental border levy and a reinstated Ministry of Tourism are major ‘wish list’ items for outgoing TEC chief executive, Lesley Immink. After six years at the helm of TEC (formerly ITOC) Immink has resigned to stand for the Opportunities Party at this year’s General Election. ‘An environmental levy at the border is a simple solution which has minimal impact on international visitors, captures everyone and would provide immediate returns to communities via a contestable fund,’ she says. Immink also believes the profile of tourism was greater when the industry had its own Ministry, which was disestablished in 2010. ‘When we have no Ministry the communication is disjointed, both internally amongst ourselves and externally to the public and media. I don’t understand why we are so accepting of this.’
Promoting and selling leisure travel as an add on to business trips has become a way for agents to add real value for corporate clients, according to trade spokespeople.
Nick Queale, general manager corporate with Flight Centre New Zealand, says that what is referred to as ‘bleisure’ has become an important way for companies to promote rest and relaxation to their travellers.
‘The clients themselves are looking for experiences, that’s becoming such an important component of personal lives – especially for millennials.
Skal International Christchurch is hosting it’s first charity event for Māia Health Foundation.
Taking place on Bastille Day this Mid Winter Charity Dine and Dance will have a touch of the red, white and blue.
Christchurch Club president, Bruce Garrett says the club felt it was time to have a fun evening of wining, dining and dancing.
Agents with fitness-mad clients looking for the ultimate adventure challenge should take a look at Xplorer, a Hawaii-based fitness challenge operator that provides multi-day adventure tours on Oahu.
The operator launched around a year ago to meet the demand for fitness-inspired experiences.
Speaking at the Experience Aloha Business Exchange, Xplorer CEO and founder Denise Albano says the all-inclusive tours provide participants with an experience the average tourist might not get to have.
Hawaii's Sheraton Kona Resort will invest more than two million dollars in the property as part of a renovation set for 2018.
The renovation will focus on room refurbs and upgrading the Rays in the Bay restaurant to cash in on the resort's big drawcard - the manta rays that swim up to the property at night.
Adventure World and Air New Zealand have launched new travel agent self-famil packages for Buenos Aires and Saigon.
Trade explore Vietnam for four nights for $1180 per person plus taxes for agents and one companion, including return flights Auckland to Saigon with Air New Zealand, four nights’ accommodation at the four-star Grand Hotel, return airport transfers with an English-speaking guide, private half-day city tour and Cu Chi tunnels tour.
Or agents can visit Buenos Aires for $1291 per person plus taxes for themselves and a companion, including return flights Auckland to Buenos Aires with Air New Zealand, four nights’ accommodation at the four-star Intersur Recoleta hotel, return airport transfers, half-day city tour and La Ventana tango dinner and show.
The ability to become a problem solver in a specific area is one key to success for the modern travel broker, says romance and destination wedding specialist Anita Gatley.
‘I am still a travel agent first and foremost, but I have concentrated on a specialised area that a lot of people don’t really know about.’
Gatley has been involved in travel one way or another for some 25 years, starting with Holiday Shoppe and doing a concerted stint within the education sector at AUT University in Auckland.
Auckland International Airport has set unjustifiably high prices for international airlines to use the airport over the next five years.
So believes John Beckett, executive director of the Board of Airlines Representatives of New Zealand (BARNZ), who was speaking in response to the airport’s announcement this week it is to increase the fees it charges airlines over the next five years to help fund its infrastructure development.
The need to match the traveller with the best options, as well as the common requirements of corporate and leisure travel customers, meant it made sense for First Travel Group to hold an ‘integrated’ frontliners’ conference, says managing director Andrew Bowman.
The conference was held at SkyCity Auckland Convention Centre over the weekend, and included a suppliers day and awards evening on Saturday. It attracted almost 300 people, including a mix of retailers, brokers, and travel
Marriott is ‘just getting started’ in Asia Pacific, despite the group now having some 550 hotels in the region, according to the group’s chief sales and marketing officer Asia Pacific, Peggy Rowe.
Marriott is opening about ‘one and a half hotels’ a week globally, she says, and this part of the word is seeing a fair bit of the action. Aloft Perth, for example, opened just last Friday.
‘When we say we have 35 hotels in Shanghai, people are impressed but compare that with Washington DC, where we have 150 hotels… really, there is plenty still to do in Asia Pacific.’
A growing resurgence in Kiwi travel to England and Europe is unlikely to be affected by this week’s terrorist attack in Manchester.
Trade throughout New Zealand confirm travellers here will not let the attack on a concert in Manchester, which killed 22 people on Monday, halt their travel plans.
A strawpoll of 10 travel providers and agencies report no trips to England and Europe have been postponed or cancelled in the wake of the attack. And, instead of slowing down trade, some agents have taken fresh bookings this week,
South African tourism industry leaders are backing attempts to fix New Zealand visitor visa woes. Several operators spoken to at Indaba expressed anger and frustration over the process.
The visa requirement is appalling and uncooperative, says David Frost, SATSA chief executive, representing all inbound tourism operators in southern Africa.
‘It is a symptom of an ongoing struggle we have with Department of Home Affairs. Now we have a new Tourism Minister and a new Home Affairs Minister so we’re hoping these two heads can deliver something better.
Some new faces are likely to emerge as industry forces when finalists of the National Travel Industry Awards (NTIA) are revealed on Monday, 12 June.
Voting closed last Friday and Travel Agents Association of New Zealand chief executive Andrew Olsen says that while he needed to be scant on detail it looked likely the awards would ‘bring up new names we haven’t seen.
‘It will probably surprise some people in the supply side in terms of emerging brands.
‘What we can say is that NTIA is here to stay and we are pleased with the way some of the agents and suppliers really got into their campaign.’
The trade has turned out in force to Asia Now around the country this week to hear the latest updates from key suppliers to the region.
The success already has organisers talking about repeating the exercise next year.
About 110 agents attended the Auckland City event on Wednesday night and other big numbers included 85 in Wellington and 70 in Christchurch, Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland North Shore were other successful stops.
South African Tourism figures just released show that 48% fewer New Zealanders travelled to South Africa in February this year, compared with February 2016.
The figures give official confirmation that numbers of Kiwi travellers to South Africa have dropped sharply since visitor visa requirements were introduced in January. However there’s been little movement towards improving the visa application process, despite the collective efforts of the travel agency distribution and South African Airways.
Domestic and trans Tasman rental vehicle business has provided a surprising boon for travel agents, says Chris Hamill, managing director of DriveAway Holidays.
Hamill says agents have embraced the company since it ‘got serious’ about New Zealand three or four years ago and there is obviously good commission to be made from selling rental vehicles in Europe or America.
‘Kiwis are a good quality customer for us. If New Zealanders go to Europe they are generally not going for a week – they are going for three or four so that represents good commission for agents.’
New Zealand suppliers, particularly hoteliers, are being urged to ‘get creative’ on the eve of New Zealand’s biggest tourism showcase.
TRENZ 2017 kicks off officially tonight but last night helloworld Travel Limited got in early by hosting 70 inbound and wholesale partners to a function at Pilkingtons in Auckland.
Joe McCormick, helloworld’s general manager procurement, says inbound business through divisions such as aot and a.t.s Pacific continues to grow but is hamstrung by the well-publicised lack of hotel
‘An 11 out of 10 experience’ is how agents have described a recent famil to Cambodia on Aqua Expeditions’ Mekong cruise.
Travel Associates’ Craig Martin was one of four agents lucky enough to accompany Francis Travel Marketing’s Melissa Roberts and Debbie Peters on the cruise following FTM’s November appointment as GSA for the product.
‘It’s the detail that stands out,’ says Martin. ‘Aqua Expeditions has its own skiffs for excursions (which means passengers are not waiting around for boats to ferry them to shore), daily laundry is included, and our shoes were cleaned every time we returned to the boat.’
A proactive growth strategy to increase its retail footprint across New Zealand remains a high priority for House of Travel during 2017 and 2018.
HOT’s marketing director Ken Freer says the company is actively considering new store locations.
‘The opportunity for us is that we are not in the business of starting and running our own stores. We have engaged high powered owner-operators to lead this business and we are always looking for the right person in the right place.
New Zealand may be the home of bungy jumping, but that doesn’t mean Kiwis will be among the first nationalities in the world to sign up for the experience.
Peer-to-peer motorhome rental platform SHAREaCAMPER has released a study that explores which country has the most adventure-seeking citizens. It researched the Google search volume for keywords associated around eight adventure journeys, such as
A recently released global overview of air travel shows passengers from Europe, the Americas and the Far East, are making more bookings and taking more flights, despite recent terrorist attacks and on-going geo-political wrangles.
This is according to research by ForwardKeys, which predicts future patterns by analysing 16 million booking transactions a day.
The findings were presented at the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit, the highest-level annual gathering of travel industry leaders, in Bangkok, this week.
Kiwis are in agreement that international tourism is good for the country, but few know it is the country’s biggest industry, Tourism New Zealand and Tourism Industry Aotearoa research reveals.
In a new question asked in the twice-yearly Mood of the Nation survey, 96% of New Zealanders agreed or strongly agreed international tourism is good for the country.
However, most New Zealanders underestimate the size of the tourism industry, and only 10% know it is now the country’s biggest export earner.
Niche wholesaler Francis Travel Marketing is open to opportunities and not ruling out further expansion, says managing director Tony Smith.
FTM’s latest acquisition was Fathom Asia in February this year, following the purchase of Europe specialist Orton International last year.
FTM has long been a cruise GSA (general sales agent) and representative and in 2011 picked up AIM Holidays – which specialises in shows, events, sports and packages in Australia and the United States.
Emirates airline is slashing more than half of its US gateway routes of nonstop flights from Dubai in the wake of President Donald Trump’s policies toward Gulf airlines.
Although Emirates will not be cutting any of its 12 US destinations, it will scale back the number of flights to each location. This means it has cut back on seven routes but will still run five.
The Asia Now events scheduled to take place around the country from 10 May have already generated plenty of interest from travel agents, says Julie Rice, chairperson of
the event’s organising committee.
Some of the interest is due to pent-up demand because the roadshow did not take place last year, but there is also plenty of interest in Asia from the trade generally, according to Rice.
With a growing team in place and a full calendar year of operation behind it, Global Travel Network (GTN) is looking towards further growth, more famil tours and its first national conference in 2017.
Director Rob Beecher says the conference will be held at Rydges Rotorua on 28 to 30 July and some 100 agent delegates, plus suppliers (25 already confirmed) will attend.
‘The time is right to be looking head to our first conference,’ says Beecher. ‘In the last 12 months we delivered on our promise of four famils (a Fiji Cruise, Thailand, Sydney and Whitsundays) and we will be doing another four in the year ahead. So the
helloworld has just announced that a further three existing franchisees now own multiple stores within the helloworld branded network.
The company says more are on the way as business owners recognise the profit potential of multi store ownership at helloworld.
The end of the March financial year saw three helloworld stores added to the ranks of multi store owners. helloworld St Heliers is now owned by Bruce Blacklock, who also owns helloworld Lambton Quay, helloworld Wanganui is now owned by Paul and Sue
Travel agents’ feedback has been one of the factors prompting Innovative Travel to launch a new division aimed at people travelling alone.
Innovative’s managing director, Robyn Galloway, says the first Travel Companions.Club gathering is next Wednesday 19 April at Riccardo
House in Christchurch and she expects travel brokers and agents among the attendees.
The next step in the golden era of travel is ultra long haul flying, says Graham ‘Scroo’ Turner, founder and chief executive officer of Flight Centre Travel Group.
‘Qantas is starting Perth – London, obviously in part to compete with the Middle Eastern carriers,’ he says.
‘The 777-X is on the drawing board and when that is in service we will see direct services like Sydney – New York and Sydney – Melbourne.
The growing popularity of village shopping in Christchurch is one of the motivations behind the location of a new helloworld store in the city.
The company opened a new branded store in the busy Fendalton Village this week and owner, Bridget Hanrahan, says it complements the existing store network in an area of town under represented by agencies.
‘This centre is up and coming, with a number of new retail businesses and rebuilds taking shape.
By Lisa Bradley
The Chinese are poised to snatch New Zealand’s title of being Australia’s largest tourism market, reigniting the issue of shared trans-Tasman tourism ties and a joint visa system.
The Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) has released the international visitor statistics, revealing 8.2 million people travelled to the country in the 12 months to November 16. The total represents an 11.3% rise.
Kiwis topped the arrival figures at 1,343,400 – a 2.9% increase. However, visitors from China are hot on New Zealand’s heels after a 19% hike that pushed numbers up to 1,193,600. The Chinese statistics are now expected to overtake New Zealand’s by mid 2017.
Having an even more inclusive membership base is on Travel Agent Association of New Zealand chief executive Andrew Olsen’s wishlist for 2017.
‘TAANZ is already the association of choice in an unregulated (travel) marketplace. I would like to think that through 2017 we can expand our footprint to include any brands and groups that are not currently participating.’
Olsen says the association will have four distinct ‘pillars’ next year – relevant membership services, traveller awareness, governance and productive partnerships.
‘We’ll have better connection with our members about what they do and what they want. That is something that will follow on from the survey we did this year.
‘The traveller awareness effort will come off the back of the travel agent awareness week we have just completed. That struck a chord with social media and we want to continue that.’
helloworld’s affiliate agents, previously the Independent Retail Travel Network, have a fresh brand.
Jess Allan, affiliate network leader with helloworld, says the new My Travel Group name aligns the New Zealand agents with the companies’ Australian affiliates. ‘We now have 900 independent travel agents across New Zealand and Australia and they have access to features such as EDMs (electronic direct mail), white label websites and other things that we think independent agencies can really leverage off.
Brett Simon, affiliate network business development manager, introduced the new brand at a function in The Generator in Auckland on Wednesday and says independent agents will be given full training on how My Travel Group can help their business grow.
Managing corporate travel is far more about personalising the experience than it ever has been before, and that can generate its own challenges in terms of duty of care, last week’s New Zealand Aviation & Corporate Travel Summit at The Langham, Auckland has heard.
Tony Carter, managing director Australia and New Zealand with Amadeus, says changing trends such as ‘bleisure’ – business travellers adding leisure time to their trips – can cause complications for companies and their travel management companies (TMCs). ‘What can you do if the traveller books a leisure add-on outside of company policy and not through the TMC? You really don’t know where they are and that becomes a challenge in terms of duty of care.’ He says Amadeus refers to current corporate travel as ‘managed travel 3.0’.
‘Managed travel is evolving. Some of us remember the days of managed travel 1.0, when the only way to book was through the TMC and the TMC only had the GDS and all air travel was on full service carriers.
Three new categories added to the Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) National Travel Industry Awards (NTA) have generated early approval from trade.
A Young Executive of the Year category has been added to the programme, as have Best Niche Wholesaler and Best River Cruise Operator (in addition to the Best Cruise Operator category).
Andrew Dale, chief executive officer of apx travel management, supports the addition of the young executive category. ‘It is a valuable method of recognising and endorsing the future leaders of the industry,’ he adds.
Airbnb may have made a huge impact on the leisure market, but it now has its sights firmly on business travellers.
Julian Persaud, the regional director of Asia Pacific Airbnb, told industry representatives at last month's PATA Global Insights Conference in Auckland has been steadily working on snaring the business sector, which now represents 10% of its market. ‘We are signing 1400 companies a week,’ Persaud says.
Airbnb has spent a lot of time training its hosts to be business-travel friendly. ‘We’ve also worked hard to provide travel managers with the tools they need to offer this service to their staff.’
Global Travel Network (GTN) and Mondo have signed a new partnership agreement. As part of the new arrangement, Mondo Travel will be incorporated into GTN airline contracts and will utilise the services of its consolidation unit.
Rob Beecher, a director of GTN, says the move effectively sees Mondo as part of a significantly wider network, while retaining its own independent identity. ‘It is a big development for us,’ says Beecher, ‘and part of what is shaping up to be a really successful year.’
GTN retains confidentiality over its exact number of associated agents. However, Beecher says somewhere between ‘40 and 80’ are on board. In more big news for the network, it will sign six new agents on 1 August and another on 1 September.
‘We are close to achieving our 2016 target already, with just seven months gone, and we are actually set to reach next year’s target by end of 2016.’
Tony Terrill, chief executive officer of Mondo, is delighted with the new arrangement. ‘Mondo and GTN are like minded in our approach to a strategy of adding cost effective bottom line value to our members. Together we can offer a specific set of solutions within either a branded and / or independent operation.’
House of Travel consultants described the company’s first television brand campaign in five years as ‘brave and bold,’ ‘overdue’ and ‘authentic’ when it was launched with hoopla on Friday night.
Dubbed by HoT CEO Mark O’Donnell as the ‘worst kept secret’, the advertisements appeared for the first time on television screens last night. ‘The best holidays are created together’ campaign features House of Travel consultants planning holidays with their clients.
‘I love the style of the ads,’ says Glen Armstrong from HoT Ellerslie. ‘They are ads that make you stop and think. The time is right to position the brand as collaborative – we are not the gatekeepers of knowledge anymore. Clients come into us with their research and we work together to find the best outcome.’
HoT’s Steve Parsons from Palmerston North says the ads reflect ‘what we do all day every – we create experiences for our customers.’
Marketing manager Ken Freer says the campaign creative embraced customers’ ideas. ‘It had to be authentic so we've used real consultants, real customers and real experiences created together,’ he says. ‘But it is not just about this campaign. We have a powerful proposition that resonates with New Zealanders, and one that we can deliver.’