Balancing the benefits of working from home with the need for social interaction looks set to be a key consideration for travel businesses once they start returning to some sort of normality.
A survey of just over 600 New Zealand and Australian travel personnel has found that the main concern for employees if their permanent employment was mostly or entirely based at home would be lack of interaction with others (68%).
Travel sellers and providers will need to get creative with deals and packages to provide the experience domestic tourists are seeking, says Amadeus following the results of a recent survey by the company.
‘Customised leisure travel experiences win out over pre-packaged leisure travel options, with 54% of Australian and New Zealand travellers preferring to curate their own holidays with or
Clients funds are going to be a real issue in the future, as are cancellation policies and the need to place liability where it belongs if suppliers insist on pre-payment, the audience at a South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) webinar heard last week.
Rick Felderhof, managing director of Our World, pointed out that customers will be more concerned than ever about where their money is being held.
A review of the travel distribution chain and changes to the way it operates may be long term silver linings to the current crisis the travel agency community faces, says industry stalwart Andrew Bowman.
‘This has been a test of patience and a real test of resilience for the sector and it has shown that sometimes what we do and how we do it is fragile and illogical.’
Viva Expeditions has sold out of its first flight to the Southern Lights on 20 March 2021 and has confirmed a second flight will take place the following day on 21 March.
While the first flight virtually sold out in the higher categories within days, Viva had to get on top of economy class requests and wait-lists before it could announce a second flight date.
Business and Premium Economy class seats on the second flight have already sold out and Viva is waitlisting clients for a potential third flight in May.
'I believe we have enough demand for a third flight and we already have people waitlisted for certain categories,' says Viva's founder, Rachel Williams. 'I think after two back-to-back flights we will all need time to catch our breaths before we take to the sky again.'
Williams is reminding agents that with its phone lines overloaded, they should email requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. These will be processed in the order that they are received.
Wlliams says clients can join Aurora hunter and astrophysicist Dr Ian Griffin and fly into the night to witness one of the world’s most magical natural phenomena – the Southern Lights, also known as the Aurora Australis. The first flight is due to take off on 20 March 2021.
‘Many people spend a small fortune to fly to overseas destinations to see the Northern Lights, but can experience the same phenomena on a flight departing from Christchurch New Zealand.’
Williams says clients will take off onboard an Air New Zealand Dreamliner, and head south over the Southern Ocean towards Antarctica, aiming for latitudes of 62 degrees south where the Aurora Australis is brightest.
‘We take guests far away from light pollution, above the clouds and weather systems to see an unforgettable display with uninterrupted view of the southern lights. Along the way they will see constellations, stars, and planets as they have never witnessed them before.’
Throughout the flights passengers will receive a full inflight catering service in both business and economy classes. Expert astronomers will be onboard.
‘A lot of people want to get on a plane and go somewhere, do something exciting. This is it,’ says Williams.
Flights are available from $1195 per person with various seating options and views available.
Should the flight be cancelled due to Covid-19, a refund will be issued – see booking conditions for more details.
The adventure is being brought to market by Viva Expeditions in partnership with Air New Zealand and the Otago Museum.
A leading New Zealand tourism entrepreneur says it’s a disgrace the Government’s much vaunted Tourism Futures Taskforce will not be presenting its final report until April next year, and much more urgent work is being overlooked.
Fifty percent of organisations have begun travelling again, but with stipulations, says the third phase of a global ‘State of the Market’ survey by Flight Centre Travel Group’s corporate arm.
The stage consisted of interviews in August with 250 of FCM Corporate Travellers multinational large-scale clients, plus Corporate Traveller SME customers globally, representing over 60 countries.
While 50% of respondents say they have employees already travelling or booking reservations to travel in the near future, resuming travel will be different for everyone. Results of the State of the Market research (April to August 2020) show that over 90% of
A virtual portal being launched by The Travel Corporation for the travel trade early October will enable agents to make online appointments with the company’s sales team.
But it will go a step further, with marketing drop-downs and other mechanisms of support.
Louise Levesque, general manager marketing with TTC, says it is evident that a number of agents are wanting to chat and catch up with what the various TTC brands are offering.
‘People are asking for destination training. We are also conscious of the need to support agents at this time with their marketing and social profiles.’
TTC New Zealand’s managing director, Scott Cleaver says it is obvious that individual agents and brokers are in different situations.
‘We realise that some agents are still having to work in the here and now, while others are starting to plan for the future, having been immersed in refunds and credits for the past few months.
‘At TTC we know that travel will back and it will come back strong. We will be here at the end of this and we hope as many agents as possible will be as well, so we are looking at tools that can be more inspirational. We are being proactive to add value to our trade relationships.
‘Over the past three weeks our teams have attended virtual global conferences for Trafalgar, Contiki and Insight Vacations, so we know it is invigorating to talk about something positive and look to the future. We can’t wait to share what’s new for 2021 and 2022 and pass on our enthusiasm to our network of agents around New Zealand.’
Louise Levesque says it is evident that clients are starting to research their options again. ‘We are committed to the trade and want to make sure agents are ready to convert this enquiry as its starts for them, if it hasn’t already. If clients are taking a look online, we want agents to be in the best possible position to convert. There is a lot for the trade to catch up on from both a product and operational perspective.’
The shortening of booking timelines, driven by uncertainty, is likely to be an added challenge for the trade in the foreseeable future, says Adam Armstrong, chief executive officer of Contiki.
Armstrong says the youth market is definitely keen to travel and research indicating a relatively quick rebound in the sector is born out by interest and bookings around the world – including New Zealand – as the company looks to reboot operations next month.
People in the Asia Pacific region are less likely to feel confident about international travel right now than those in Europe and USA.
Gavin Harris, commercial director of strategic partnerships with Skyscanner, says the company’s latest weekly travel pulse data shows that globally, 19% of people say they would feel safe travelling internationally now.
The Government will provide a consumer travel reimbursement scheme to assist the return of credits and refunds to New Zealand consumers via travel agents. In an announcement today, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi says the scheme will be funded to a maximum of $47.6 million.
Travel agencies will be paid 7.5% of the value of cash refunds and 5% of the value of credits successfully secured on behalf of customers.
The Tourism Export Council of New Zealand (TECNZ) says it is pleased that the Government has listened to the industry and will offer loans to 26 Inbound Tour Operators (ITOs) from the Strategic Tourism Assets Protection programme.
TECNZ chief executive Lynda Keene says the increase from the initial number of 10 ITOs, on better conditions than originally discussed, will allow those businesses to remain operational.
Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) released its year-end results on 27August for its 2020 Fiscal Year, which show an optimistic future for its corporate brands FCM Travel Solutions and Corporate Traveller despite a major downturn in the travel industry.
Whilst FCTG experienced severe losses (A$510M underlying loss before tax) due to unprecedented travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, FCM Travel Solutions and Corporate Traveller proved to be resilient. During the global shutdown, the two business travel divisions landed a
Flight Centre Travel Group NZ currently has a greater emphasis on the short to medium term than the longer term vision – something that is unusual for the group, says managing director David Colombes.
The group has just released a case study entitled Our Business Journey Through Covid-19. In his summary, Coombes says ‘it is important to accept what we can’t influence and control, and focus on what we can, which is more restricted than ever before.
Expedia remains confident that its Travel Agent Affiliation Progamme (Expedia TAAP) will make a strong comeback as consumers return to both leisure and corporate travel.
St Udy, Expedia’s director travel agent distribution, says consumers more than ever will want advice and confidence in where they are travelling and who they are travelling with in terms of suppliers.
Travel brand heads' discussion with Minister Kris Faafoi and Kelvin Davis on Monday to discuss the industry's hopes for much needed funding were positive. However the collective, who formed the Proposal for Support of the Travel Agency Sector, say there is still work to do to come to a result that works for all parties.
The group is made up of the David Coombes, managing director, Flight Centre; Mark O'Donnell, chief executive officer, House of Travel; Malcolm MacLeod, chief executive officer, First Travel Group, and Simon McKearney, executive general manager Helloworld.
'The next step is to more accurately quantify the scale of outstanding customer funds and the costs incurring in retrieving them. We'll be working closely with MBIE to form an aligned proposal that will then go to the Ministry of Finance by the end of the week,' the collective says in a statement.
The group understands this is in preparation to be presented at the next cabinet meeting on 7 September. The Ministers were clear that they understand the agency sector's need for clarity.
A meeting was scheduled today with MBIE to discuss the plan of action and keep the momentum going.
The organisation that represents New Zealand’s inbound tour operators says it is ‘underwhelmed’ that Government is only looking to extend the wage subsidy for a further two weeks.
Chief executive of the Tourism Export Council of New Zealand (TECNZ) Lynda Keene says although the council is pleased there is an extension, an additional two weeks is not going to help businesses trying to plan for the next four months through to Christmas. ‘We were hoping the wage subsidy would be extended to at least 17 October, the new election date.
‘Given the opportunity to provide support for ITO (inbound tour operator) businesses that have had zero revenue since lockdown in March 2020 and tourism operators who are desperately trying to regain losses over the past six months with domestic visitors, the two-week extension seems a little short-sighted and has not provided any certainty for businesses who may face continuous disruptions,’ Keene says.
‘Our members are also struggling with the delay in Government processes to advise STAPP (Strategic Tourism Assets Protection Programme) recipients about loan terms and conditions – particularly with ITOs still not knowing if they are eligible for STAPP ITO loans (or grants) since the original announcement was made on 1 August 2020.
‘Not having any detail for almost three weeks is creating immense anxiety for businesses that are trying to make decisions on the future of their operations. We urge MBIE to contact TECNZ or its members with information that can assist them with their decision-making as soon as possible.’
Developments like allowing domestic cruising and travel to some Pacific destinations would provide a much needed ‘intravenous’ line for those travel companies hanging in through the current crisis, say the directors of Fuzion Travel.
Andrew Parke and Stuart McKay say that despite everything they retain optimism for the future and say their broker model is continuing to hold up well.
The collective behind the Proposal For Support of the Travel Agency Sector will meet with Grant Robertson, Kris Faafoi and Kelvin Davis on 24 August.
This invitation follows the process that has been in play around the original proposal submitted in early June, and controversial comments made by Davis this week in parliament.
Travel Agents Association of NZ (TAANZ) yesterday advised Treasury it firmly supported the Brand-led submission that had been with MBIE for nearly two months.
Many in the travel trade see this week as possibly the biggest ‘crunch time’ in a crisis that most hoped would be well and truly showing improvement by now.
With an important discussion between Brand leaders and Treasury yesterday, the petition by broker Shane Lust being presented to Parliament today, and (not withstanding that) the wage subsidy running out
Travel agents are still wondering what needs to be done to get government acknowledgment that the industry needs to be supported. A list of tourism attractions were today announced as recipients of relief from the government's tourism fund. 'We were advised to look at this fund as an option,' says Andrew Olsen, TAANZ CEO. 'Unfortunately travel agents are not visitor attractions so that application process was not designed to include us.
The managing director of a leading travel management company (TMC) says that making tough, even distressing, decisions early in the Covid crisis has put the business in a position to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
Keith Sumner, of Gilpin Travel, says that despite the company being an entirely different and reduced entity to what it was a few months ago there are some signs of recovery.
Creating a clear line of communication and a forum for supporting each other are two of the motivations behind the forming of a new Travel Suppliers Group.
The group’s chair, Robyn Galloway, says the decision to get together in no way detracts from efforts already being made and in fact will help suppliers work in a coordinated way with the recently formed Industry Working Group and others.
The Tourism Export Council of New Zealand (TECNZ) says it has ‘a mixed response’ to hearing that Government will not consider an extension of the wage subsidy beyond September.
New Zealand Document Exchange Limited has sent out a statement saying it has made the 'difficult decision to close the Travcour division on 17 July.
'Our records show that some of our members have been with us since our inception. Now that is loyalty - thank you,' the company says. 'The team at Travcour has been around a long time too (some up to 30 years) during which time we have forged some great relationships and made many personal friends.'
Travcour has been providing visa advisory and visa processing to the travel industry since 1985. During this time the landscape has changed considerable, none more so than due to the impact of Covid-19.
The travel agency community has reasons to be optimistic about the future despite the current grim situation, according to an industry stalwart.
John Willson, general manager retail with First Travel Group says certain factors remain critical at the moment. These include an extension of the wage subsidy, a favourable response by government to the travel brand submission, and a gradual, steady opening of borders.
As travel business owners look to the future, a network set up to meet the needs of independent agents feels it has the right model for a post Covid comeback.
Rob Beecher, of Global Travel Network (GTN), says although the company is obviously hurting like everyone in the industry, the signs are that the ‘small, lean and nimble’ model has held up comparatively well in tough times.
A ‘State of the Market’ survey by Flight Centre Corporate indicates that New Zealand business travellers will be among the leaders in the sector’s recovery.
In fact, 61% of New Zealand respondents have travelled domestically already or expect to do so in the next one to three months.
A total of 1600 customers of global travel management companies (TMCs) FCM Travel Solutions and Corporate Traveller around the world took part in the survey. They ranged from smaller businesses
An increasing number of travel and tourism personnel who find themselves out of work are ‘hunkering down’ and offering contract and part time services to get through the crisis, says the managing partner of a company that specialises in employment in the sector.
Avis Budget Group has introduced technology designed to improve transparency with customers.
PhotoProofed, lets customers renting in New Zealand with Avis and Budget confirm the vehicle’s condition in real-time.
An accountant who specialises in the travel and tourism sector says the vast majority of his 70 plus travel agency clients will come through the other side of Covid-19 – bruised but not beaten.
Tourism Export Council (TEC) NZ has released an international tourism recovery roadmap that predicts trans Tasman travel opening up in October 2020 and a number of Asia Pacific source markets / destinations following a month later.
When destinations consider how to manage the flow of visitors and combat over-tourism in the future they can learn lessons from theme parks, a speaker in the international tourism recovery webinar series said last week.
While the move to Alert Level 1 will further stimulate domestic travel – something which has at least given a flicker of life to some agents and brokers – the industry continues to call for urgent attention to paid to trans Tasman travel and other safe border openings.
A platform to empower women travellers and to support women in the travel and tourism industry to promote specialist product and services was launched this week.
Girlz with Baggage is connecting with travel agents interested in receiving referrals, those who have their own tours that they would like support in promoting, and suppliers and enterprises that have product they believe would suit the Girlz with Baggage brand.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) does not envisage virtual meetings and other technologies replacing business travel, but does accept that recessionary forces are likely to put ongoing pressure on the sector.
Gloria Guevara, chief executive officer and president at WTTC, says technology is an enabler and helps people do business in times when people’s movements are restricted.
Trafalgar’s official launch back into the domestic market next week will be a positive step to give both the trade and consumers confidence in the future of travel, says Scott Cleaver, managing director of The Travel Corporation NZ.
Details of the domestic programme are yet to be released, but Cleaver says the range of itineraries will encompass both the North and South Islands and will introduce Kiwis to locals doing sustainable things.
An ‘all stars’ Industry Covid-19 Support Event is being held on 1 July, featuring a lineup of more than 25 leaders from around the globe joining in to inspire, educate, lift the industry and focus on a new path forward with renewed hope.
Staggering the New Zealand school holidays by region would reduce a ‘quick glut’ of business followed quickly by a soft period for domestic tourism, says Travel Agents’ Association of New Zealand (TAANZ) president Brent Thomas.
Embracing the gig (or in demand) economy will be one of the key ways for both employees and businesses to make a fresh start as economies emerge from the effects of Covid19, according to a presenter in the international Tourism Expert recovery webinar series.
Karen Priest, of Tourism Talent, says that while the gig economy is nothing new it is likely to be become even more prevalent as full time positions become scarce and businesses look to set strategic goals while remaining agile and flexible.
Exotic Holidays is reporting a number of ‘rays of hope’ that indicate travel is inching back towards resumption.
Referring to updates from its destination marketing companies (DMCs) and media reports, Exotic says that domestic travel, including flights, is resuming or close to resuming in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.
World Animal Protection (WAP) has called on the United Nations World Tourism Organisation to ensure the travel industry takes a lead role in stopping commercial exploitation of wild animals.
Ben Pearson, head of campaigns for WAP, says the tourism industry is one of the most vulnerable to disease pandemics and must be at the forefront of preventing future ones happening. ‘Central to that is stopping the exploitation of wild animals.
Airlines’ recovery strategies have to align demand and booking activity with capacity, says John Grant, UK based director of Midas Aviation.
Grant says that the industry appears to have ‘reached the bottom’ but adding back capacity is going to be challenging for all airlines.
The aviation and general travel industry has to rebuild traveller confidence and put an end to stories that have little basis but get plenty of air time, according to UK based John Grant of Midas Aviation.
‘There is so much hysteria about the middle seat and we need to squash this. The seat is 17 inches (43cms) wide in most cases and whether it is empty or not fully defeats the whole argument for social distancing.
Had aviation started to grow too quickly to be sustainable and was it an industry pre-Covid that needed a reset?
These were questions asked by UK-based director of Midas Aviation, John Grant, a presenter in the International Tourism Expert Recovery webinar series this week.
Having a certain percentage of the aircraft unoccupied may serve to reassure passengers in the early emergence from Covid restrictions, but it is not a sustainable business model, according to Bill Franke, managing director of Indigo Partners.
Speaking on a CAPA Centre for Aviation webinar this week, Franke says there has been a lot of talk and photos in the media and on social sites showing where all the seats are taken and people are complaining about the lack of social distancing.
The Travel Corporation (TTC) and its numerous brands (Trafalgar, Luxury Gold, Insight Vacations, Contiki and Costsaver) have announced newly enhanced Covid-19 related protocols and hygiene standards for all of its guided vacations once domestic and international travel resumes. TTC’s executive and operations team members have spearheaded a complete review of the sanitation and hygiene measures around end-to-end guest experiences and interactions.
When travellers look ahead to their next holiday, they may also look back in time, the latest edition of the international Tourism Expert Recovery webinar series has heard.
In times of crisis, be decent. That is the advice of UK-based communications and public relations practitioner David Tarsh, who presented in the sixth edition of the International Tourism Expert Recovery webinar series late last week.
He says companies are judged on how they treat their staff as well as their customers. ‘If they treat anybody badly that’s a story (in the media).’
Fiji is in the early stages of discussions with New Zealand and Australia to become part of a trans Tasman travel bubble and needs to use the current time to prepare to welcome visitors back to a safe and attractive destination, according to Fayaz Siddiq Koya, the country’s Minister for Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport.
In a webinar to local industry last week, Koya said the possibility of inclusion in the ‘bubble’ has caused excitement in the destination. ‘But I should warn you we are at the very early stages. There are still many things
New Zealand tourism operators have been advised to hold their prices when the hoped for domestic tourism ‘surge’ begins during Alert Level 1.
Speaking at a Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) webinar, Tak Mutu from Rotorua luxury tour operator, MDA Experiences said there is ‘lots of sound’ about New Zealand activities being too expensive.