A strong and growing ‘new to touring’ market, the rise of multi-generation travellers in the category and people’s desire to stay away for longer periods are all providing extra opportunities for agents, says The Travel Corporation's managing director Oceania tour brands, Toni Ambler.
Ambler has been in New Zealand this week speaking to trade partners and says there is a general feeling that 2024 is ‘the year of touring’.
Travel Associates is reporting an increase in clients’ average spending, with some outlaying six-figure-sums on dream holidays.
For August, average spending is up 47% year on year, with bookings made up of a combination of flights, tours and cruises.
The incentive travel sector is going from strength to strength, with its global market value projected to reach £174 billion by 2031, according to the latest IBTM World’s 2023 Incentive Travel Report.
With travel agents being valued by clients to a higher level than they have enjoyed for many years, the future for the industry looks bright, delegates at the weekend’s First Travel Conference heard from CEO Malcolm MacLeod.
Increasing channel optionality and cementing a reputation as holiday experts with a ‘flights plus’ strategy were highlighted in a business update by Flight Centre Brands global managing director Andrew Stark this week.
Independent agents are the masters of their own destiny, FCTG NZ Independent GM Jason Buckley reminded delegates at the SOAR themed conference in Brisbane.
‘Our sovereignty and our culture is our independence.’
Travel Associates is continuing plans to expand its presence in the New Zealand market to meet demands following an increase in Kiwis making luxury holiday bookings.
Data from Travel Associates shows bookings for business class airfares have increased 22% month-on-month for May 2023, compared to the previous month.
As challenging as it was, Covid had a silver lining for travel brokers – including boosting the standing of agents who work from where they live, says Mike Southcombe, general manager Travel Advocates NZ
The number of new to cruise agents is on the rise, including amongst those who have had years in the trade but not previously actively sold the category, says Jeff Leckey, general manager of HOT Cruise.
Thousands of travel agents across New Zealand and Australia will be able to share their views on sustainability and responsible travel through an industry survey sent to members yesterday afternoon by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
Shopping and exploring the world’s urban hot spots have made a comeback during this year’s northern summer, according to the latest report from analytics company ForwardKeys.
The research shows that while ‘sun and beach’ destinations recovered quickly from the Covid-19 downturn as travel routes gradually opened over the last couple of years, alternatives such as shopping destinations are the stars in 2023.
The New Zealand Cruise Association (NZCA) has expressed its disappointment that StatsNZ will no longer be providing cruise ship traveller and expenditure statistics due to budget and resource constraints.
The Travel Industry Mentor Experience (TIME) has reiterated its need to attract more mentors for the programme.
TIME NZ chair Andrew Gay says the lack of mentors is now impacting on the number of mentees who can go through the programme. ‘It’s holding us back,’ he says.
Helloworld Travel Limited has agreed to acquire 100% of Express Travel Group brands in Australia and New Zealand from current owners Tom Manwaring and Sintack Pty Ltd.
These brands include First Travel Group, YOU Travel, and Lifestyle Holidays in New Zealand; Express Travel Group, Creative Cruising and Chung Pak Travel in Australia.
Offshore sporting events are definitely back on New Zealanders radar and when they want to go, they go, according to Tony Ujdur, director of High Performance Travel & Events.
‘There is a lot more determination now, people are committed to booking. Before (2020) there were a lot more enquiries that may come to nothing.
Wendy Wu Tours continues to increase departures on many of its tours, doubling dates for 2024 in popular destinations such as Japan, Korea, Egypt and Jordon.
Managing director Paul Dymond says there is also strong interest in Turkey while even places like Uzbekistan and wider central Asia are selling out.
Going out as an independent agent can at first seem daunting – however with support teams and systems to help and guide new members this can be the start of an empowering and rewarding move, says Jason Buckley, general manager of FCTG Independent.
Buckley says now is a great time for travel professionals in general.
Though it sounds counter-intuitive, younger consumers actually want more human support than their elders, according to a recent survey by Travelport.
The study looked at modern retailing in general and then examined how demands and trends in the sector related directly to travel agents and brokers.
Former travel consultants looking to return to the industry under their own terms have another option that sits between the traditional in-store and broker models.
House of Travel’s new Home Based Consultant model – HOT @Home is managed by former consultant and retail manager, Jason Todd.
An increasing desire of incentive programme clients to increase their time away with leisure excursions pre or post-event is one of the biggest trends in corporate group travel, according to both suppliers and trade buyers at an event in Auckland recently.
The Destination Marketing Services (DMS) re-Connect expo attracted some 50 incentive and high end leisure agents at the Maritime Room who took the opportunity to catch up with 18 destination management companies (DMCs) and other suppliers from around the globe.
Helloworld is expanding its retail and commercial operations with the appointment of Brooke Jamieson as the head of branded retail and commercial.
Chris Hunter, general manager NZ of Helloworld, points out that Jamieson has been part of the team for the last seven years, serving in various commercial roles.
Being alert to green-washing and carefully checking the practices of supply chain partners are among the ways travel sellers can ensure more sustainable travel practices as the industry rebounds from Covid shutdowns, product mangers and agents heard at a conference in Papeete last week.
The probability that the travel industry will continue to thrive through 2023 may attract people back to the industry and help alleviate the staff shortage as the year goes on, says Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) president Brent Thomas.
Signs are growing that a number of sectors, including real estate, will be in for a tough year but continuing pent up demand and increased capacity means travel retailers are likely to avoid the worst impacts of economic slow-downs.
Small and medium enterprise (SME) travel operator, Corporate Traveller (part of the Flight Centre Travel Group), says its latest figures show both Kiwi and Australian businesses can’t get enough of being face to face with each other.
Auckland is the number one international destination for Australian corporate travellers in 2022 and vice versa with Sydney topping New Zealand’s outbound business destination list.
High-net-worth travellers from New Zealand and Australia are booking international hotels and resorts further ahead than before, according to figures from Virtuoso.
This year’s bookings are averaging 11 months in advance – up 25% from nine months in 2022. The desire to book in advance is driven by increasing rates, the scarcity of inventory and the ongoing demand for travel to make up for lost trips and experiences.
Exotic Holidays marks its 13th anniversary tomorrow (18 January) and managing director Rahul Sharma says the company is looking build on trends experienced last year.
He says 2022 saw diverse business for Exotic – not only in terms of destinations booked but also the type of travel engaged in – from FIT and leisure groups, through to VFR plus corporate travel and incentives.
Now is the time to really drive home the value message of dealing with a Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) accredited agent – especially when it comes to the protection of their money, says the organisation’s chief executive officer Greg Hamilton.
Auckland Business Chamber CEO Simon Bridges says that despite some challenges he is feeling optimistic about the immediate future of the city.
Speaking at a Skal Auckland lunch at the Rydges Auckland’s rooftop yesterday, he notes that finding staff and staying profitable amidst surging inflation remained as major issues.
Increased travel will be a silver lining for both the New Zealand and Australian economies amid the global challenges of high inflation, supply chain disruptions and the conflict in Ukraine, says one of the region’s leading economists.
HSBC chief economist Paul Bloxham has released sneak highlights of his upcoming presentation at Flight Centre Corporate’s hybrid Illuminate conference on 20 October.
A Sydney-based cruise executive who offered to help Kiwi regional tourism offices and local operators spread a positive message around their communities is likely to get a few calls in coming weeks.
The need to dispel negative perceptions of cruise in some of the public was a much touched on topic during the New Zealand Cruise Association conference in Auckland last week.
The travel and tourism sectors have been urged by Leader of the Opposition, Chris Luxon to take the future into their own hands and then work with the government of the day to enable those plans.
Speaking at the Skal Auckland Club lunch at the Northern Club on Thursday, Luxon said it was time to for the industry to think more strategically than it had in the past.
The Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) is noting some positive movement in terms of increasing staff numbers on the front line, despite human resources still being a major challenge for the industry.
Chief executive Greg Hamilton says he is hearing from a number of members who have done well at attracting people back and employing new staff.
Having people return from exotic locations and report how hassle free and enjoyable the experience was will help break down resistance from Kiwis who may still be cautious and reluctant to head offshore, says a well known tour operator.
Andy Richards, director of Maher Escorted Travel, recently returned from a 28-day tour with a group of 13 to Egypt, Jordan and Israel.
A ‘charter’ or template around the protection of consumer funds and a ‘plain English’ list of frequently asked questions and answers are both possible outcomes of the second Travel Partners Forum involving The Travel Agents Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) and suppliers to the industry.
Greg Hamilton, chief executive officer of TAANZ, noted that at the first such meeting early this year, participants were concerned about consumer confidence around getting back on planes and travelling again.
The World Travellers Group is reporting growth with the addition of nine new stores to the network over the last few months.
Stretching from Whangarei to Queenstown, the new stores add to the geographic spread of the group.
Qualifying clients right from the start and charging a fee at the front end are taking on added significance as travel continues to ramp up across leisure, corporate, groups and events, says high profile Christchurch based retailer David Williams.
The managing director of House of Travel Christchurch City, Williams says in 10 weeks of this year the company has done the same turnover as the whole of 2021 and a third of what it achieved in 2019.
The average value of a booking has doubled for Wild Earth Travel since New Zealanders started moving again this year, says general manager Aaron Russ.
‘There are people that are going to spend money, and they have the money to spend.’
Expedia TAAP is expecting to see a full return to business by the end of this year ‘at the latest’ says Stu Udy, director travel agent distribution.
However, he does add a caveat – the recovery could be constrained by airline capacity.
If flight booking trends continue at the current pace, an estimated 430 million more passengers will fly in Asia Pacific in 2022 compared to last year, according to the latest Mastercard Economics Institute analysis.
The research indicates that the travel outlook for the region is optimistic, even with markets in North Asia and mainland China yet to relax border measures.
Employers in the travel and tourism industries need to look beyond their own sectors to boost their pool of human resources – including areas where many of their own people may have ended up due to the pandemic, says Jason Hill, managing director of Tourism Talent.
‘Areas like retail and aged care have snapped up people from travel and tourism, including some I know of directly from the retail travel sector. So the employers obviously recognised the transferable skills these people have.
International departures will reach 68% of the pre-Covid-19 levels globally in 2022 and are expected to improve to 82% in 2023 and 97% in 2024, before making a full recovery by 2025 at 101% of 2019 levels, with a projected 1.5 billion international departures, says analytics company GlobalData. However, the trajectory for the recovery in international departures is not linear across regions or countries.
House of Travel’s National Partnership Conference in Auckland early May brought together 56 business partners and members of its executive team for the two-day event – the first of its kind since the pandemic began.
Developing a public relations and marketing strategy around attracting new people into the industry is a major priority for the Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand, says chief executive officer Greg Hamilton.
‘We will be going out to engage with members about what they need on this front,’ says Hamilton.
‘Presuming members will not be able to replace all the gaps with experienced people, what skill sets do new people need and what does the training for that look like?
Business travel is surging forward, international travel is returning and despite new challenges, industry recovery is entrenched, according to the latest Business Travel Recovery Poll by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).
In addition, corporate travel policies are undergoing a revamp and employees are broadly willing to travel for business, the poll suggests.
Travel retailers need to ensure they are not running in ever decreasing circles trying to take on more business than they can handle, says Rahul Sharma, managing director of Exotic Holidays.
He says that with depleted staff numbers, a surge in bookings and more complex border regulations, the trade could be in danger of providing sub-standard service and in turn driving clients back to booking on-line (with OTAs).
Volume is coming back and things are looking up, but the continued closure of borders to some key inbound markets and a resulting lack of competition among carriers and other suppliers means 2022 will continue to be challenging, says Rob Beecher, director of Global Travel Network (GTN).
Offshore group travel is back in a big way and incentives won’t be far behind, says Kim Herd of Venture Travel.
Herd says that among business that she has handled since the borders have started to open is a sports team to France, with the enquiry three weeks ago and the travel booked for August.
Brokers and agents are reporting that a fee-driven structure to their business is being readily accepted by most clients – as long as there is clarity around charges.
Sandra Ivelja, of So Travel and a member of NZ Travel Brokers, says she has a schedule of fees which she emails to customers before any work is done.
'Hearing about client hesitancy for long haul travel provided a compelling reason to travel as early as possible following the New Zealand border opening,’ says Robyn Galloway, managing director of Innovative Travel.
Galloway has just returned from a five-country, 10-flight tour reconnecting with Northern Hemisphere partners.
Despite initially being driven largely by the visiting friends and relatives (VFR) market and pent up demand, the current upsurge in travel enquiries and bookings should in no way be regarded as a flash in the pan, says First Travel Group’s general manager retail John Willson.
He says the trade needs to adapt to the current business environment, at least in the medium term, where the challenge is having the people power to cater for the upsurge – as well as making sure travel businesses are profitable.
Graduations, an announcement of the latest inductees and some new and refreshed sponsorships were all part of a TIME (Travel Industry Mentor Experience) NZ ceremony and function at Crown Institute of Studies in Auckland early April.
The proceedings were held in an atmosphere of optimism as borders open, the industry gets busy and the focus is firmly put on developing skills as well as retaining and attracting talented personnel in the travel and tourism sectors.
The founder and director of Australian independently owned travel management company, Connections Group says weathering the storm of the past two years will mean nothing if the industry can’t attract a high calibre of employee to now help in what could be the sector’s busiest period on record.