Market Snaphot: London Tops the List of European Destinations, Gulf travellers lead global recovery and Credibility becomes a Key Marketing Factor for US Travelers

  • European Cities Marketing Benchmarking Report 2010: Figures from 101 European Cities.

European Cities Marketing (ECM), the leading network of city tourism organisations in Europe, launched the sixth edition of the European Cities Marketing Benchmarking Report on Friday 11th June, during its Annual Conference in Las Palmas.

The report includes the latest figures about the performance of European Cities in 2009 and illustrates the main trends in city tourism between 2004 and 2009 from 101 European cities. In addition, the Report includes an estimation of prospects for 2010 based on an expert pool of 89 managers of ECM-member cities.

The European Cities Marketing Benchmarking Report focuses on the strategic and competitive position of European city destinations and provides insights into long-term trends as well as recent developments in the European city tourism industry. The report converts statistical data compiled from ECM member cities into comprehensive managerial information and makes it easily accessible, mainly by the graphical representation of charts. ‘It is an indispensable resource for every city tourism manager. We are very pleased that this year’s report has benchmarked a record number of cities,’ said Dieter Hardt-Stremayr, President of ECM, during the ECM Annual Conference in Las Palmas. He also added that the data had never before been available so early in the year.

Top 10 City Tourism Destinations in Europe

Total bednights 2009 in mn.

1. London, 45.0%

2. Paris 33.9%

3. Berlin 18.9

4. Rome 18.6

5. Madrid 13.7

6. Barcelona 12.8

7. Prague 11.2

8. Vienna 10.5

9. Munich 9.9

10. Amsterdam 8.6

Source: ECM calculations

Source: www.travelio.net

  • Gulf travellers lead global recovery

The recovery in global travel has taken off faster than expected, led by traffic through the Gulf’s big airports. International tourism arrivals in the Middle East climbed 33 per cent in the first four months of the year compared with the same period of 2009, the highest of any region, according to the World Tourism Organisation. This compares to 7 per cent growth for the global travel industry, even after the disruption caused by a volcanic eruption in Iceland. Tourism and air travel in the region are outperforming Europe, Africa, North America and Asia Pacific, fuelling optimism about a recovery in the regional economy. Tourism accounts for almost a fifth of Dubai’s economy.  Read the full article at: www.thenational.ae

  • Credibility: A Key Marketing Factor for US Travelers

One of the most vexing challenges for the marketers of travel services is that of addressing a fundamental dilemma in contemporary marketing practice: it has become more difficult to influence prospective customers as it has become easier to reach them, says Peter Yesawich, head of the Ypartnership. Personal recommendations have the most credibility while social media have the least, a new analysis reports.

“The question of source credibility is therefore one of great interest to marketers of travel services, particularly as it relates to the degree of influence consumers ascribe to the kaleidoscope of information now available on destinations and/or specific travel service suppliers,” Yesawich says. “And given the explosive growth in the number of sources from which consumers can now sample commentary, it’s important to understand they ascribe far greater confidence to the information they receive from some sources than others.”

This “Credibility Continuum,” as measured in the new Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2010 Portrait Of American Travelers, stretches from the personal testimonials of friends and family members (the most credible) to the content found on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (the least credible).

For more information visit: www.ypartnership.com

  • Airlines to sell the majority of tickets direct to passengers by 2013: Survey

A survey has indicated that airlines are investing in IT to provide richer functionality to their online customers and creating additional channels to market in order to increase the level of direct sales now that online distribution is almost universal.

According to the 12th annual SITA/Airline Business IT Trends Survey, the airlines which carry the bulk of the world’s air traffic, are on course to sell the majority of airline tickets direct to passengers by 2013. The record 129 airlines who responded to this year’s survey carry over one billion passengers and are currently selling 40.8 percent of tickets directly to the public which breaks down as: over the Internet, 25.8 percent; through call centres, 10.7 percent; and interlining, 4.3 percent. These 129 airlines intend to bring their level of direct sales up to 55.1 percent by 2013. While sales through airline call centres and interlining will remain largely static, direct channel sales through websites are expected to jump to 37.9 percent.

In order to increase online sales, airlines are prioritising the implementation of new functionality on their web sites in the following ways: online shopping tools (61 percent have already implemented this); change/cancel/rebook (52 percent); and frequent flyer redemption functionality (51 percent).

In all, 129 airlines responded to this year’s survey, including 14 percent classified as low cost carriers; 81 percent full service carriers; 5 percent charter carriers.

Read the Full Article at: www.eyefortravel.com

  • Beyond Airport Security

Business travelers respond to recent terrorist activity with perspective that focuses on fundamental intelligence weakness, not lapses at the airport.

Airlines have proven a target for terrorists, but are they an easy target? The consensus, after a Nigerian passenger attempted on December 25 to mix and detonate explosives on a Northwest Airlines flight en route from Amsterdam to Detroit, is quite possibly yes. There is controversy, however, about what aspects of international airport security need to be addressed and how best to do it.

Read the full article at: www.airpluscommunity.com

Staycations: Much more than a trend..

A staycation, (a term which was only recently added to the 2009 version of the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary) according to The New York Times, is “a neologism used by [those] who prefer to unravel the mysteries of the world from the comfort of their living room couches.”  Staycations have achieved high popularity in the US during the financial crisis of 2007–2010 in which unemployment levels and gas prices were quite high. However, the long-lasting global economic crisis and its impact on the tourism industry caused a lot of skepticism to the travel industry and made a lot of analysts to  believe that staycations is not just a trend but a ssocial phenomeno which is here to stay. To this direction  Sarah Sharma (M/C Journal, Vol. 12, No. 1 (2009) points out that:

”The emergence of the Staycation occurred precisely at a time when American citizens were confronted with the reality that their mobility and localities, including their relationship to domestic space, were structurally bound to larger geopolitical forces. The Staycation was an invention deployed by various interlocutors most threatened by the political possibilities inherent in stillness. The family home was catapulted into the circuits of production, consumption, and exchange. Big TV and Big Box stores furthered individual’s unease towards having to stay at home by discursively constructing the gas prices as an impediment to a happy domestic life and an affront to the American born right to be mobile. What was reinforced was that Americans ideally should be moving, but could not. Yet, at the same time it was rather un-American not to travel. The Staycation was couched in a powerful rhetoric of one’s moral duty to the nation while playing off of middle class anxieties and senses of privilege regarding the right to be mobile and the freedom to consume. The Staycation satiates all of these tensions by insisting that the home can become a somewhere else.”

Throughout the 2007-2010 period, lifestyle experts, representatives from major retailers, and avid Staycationers filled morning slots on ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, and CNN with Staycation tips. CNN highlighted the Staycation as a “1st Issue” in their Weekend Report on 12 June 2008 (Alban). Throughout the summer ABC News’ homepage included links to specific products and profiled hotels, such as Hiltons and Holiday Inns, where families could at least get a few miles away from home (Leamy). USA Today, in an article about retailers and the Staycation, reported that Wal-Mart would be “rolling back prices on everything from mosquito repellent to portable DVD players to baked beans and barbecue sauce”. US media continued to build over the staycation phenomenon by gradually connecting it with all major issues of our days including the global financial downturn and the global warming. As Shara Sarma succesfully points out:

“‘Playing on the American democratic ideals of freedom of mobility and activating one’s identity as a consumer left little room to re-think how life in constant motion (moving capital, moving people, moving information, and moving goods) was partially responsible for the energy crisis in the first place. Instead, staying at home became a way for the American citizen to support the floundering economy while waiting for gas prices to go back down.  And, one wouldn’t have to look that much further to see that the Staycation slips discursively into a renewed mission for a just cause – the environment. For example, ABC launched at the end of the summer a ruse of a national holiday, “National Stay at Home Week” with the tag line: “With gas prices so high, the economy taking a nosedive and global warming, it’s just better to stay in and enjoy great ABC TV.”  It comes as no shock that none of the major networks covered this as an environmental issue or an important moment for transformation. In fact, the air conditioning units in backyard tents attest to quite the opposite. Instead, the overwhelming sense was of a nation waiting at home for it all to be over. Soon real life would resume and everyone could get moving again.”

In the other side of the Atlantic and UK in specific, VisitEngland announced a couple of weeks ago its findings from the first significant research into the staycation phenomenon . Tourism statistics indicate that in 2009, England enjoyed an 18 per cent increase in the number of holiday trips taken with holiday makers spending £1bn more than in the previous year. The research discovered that the uplift in tourism last year has helped awaken a latent pride in England as a holiday destination, and as a result, in the longer term, almost half the population expect to take more domestic breaks then than they did in the past.

The research identified two groups who changed their behaviour in 2009 to generate the uplift in domestic holidays. Together, these two groups, the ‘Staycationers’, account for one in four of the population. One group ‘Switchers’ accounted for 13 per cent of respondents and included a high proportion of families. This group was primarily motivated to ‘switch’ a foreign holiday for one at home because of financial constraints.

The second group, ‘Extras’, accounted for 15 per cent of respondents and tended to be younger, and were more likely to be single. This group was less affected by the credit crunch and their economic situation and was more motivated by a desire to explore the UK and go somewhere new. In addition to more domestic breaks they also took more overseas breaks.

The quality of experience has certainly led those who took a holiday at home last year to consider including England as part of their holiday mix this year. 86 per cent of Staycationers (those groups that the research identified as responsible for the uplift) described their holiday experience as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’, and 80 per cent described their break as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ value. Over half said their holiday was better value than the overseas holiday it replaced.

Findings from this research show that 90 per cent of Staycationers expect to take at least one break in England this year. Some people will choose to travel abroad again when they can afford it, but with half the population expecting that they will take more domestic breaks even beyond 2010, the year of the staycation seems likely to have a longer term impact for English Tourism.

James Berresford Chief Executive VisitEngland said: These findings prove that England’s new found popularity as a holiday destination is not merely a flash in the pan. Of course, circumstances last year certainly encouraged more Brits to take a break at home, however this research shows that there is a more permanent shift in attitudes to holidaying at home. It’s a hugely rewarding experience to rediscover your own country and it’s clear that once you do, you want to do it again and again.’

He goes on to say: ‘England is a wonderful destination. We have some of the world’s best countryside, coast line, cities, festivals and people – literally on our doorstep! With so much on offer to see and do I’m not surprised England is becoming more and more popular with Brits as a top class holiday destination.’

The research was carried out over two stages. In an initial quantitative stage ,1000 adults aged 18+ were interviewed about their attitudes to the credit crunch, their holiday behaviour in 2009 and their plans for 2010. A qualitative stage followed with 8 group discussions in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds among respondents with a variety of opinions towards domestic breaks. (click here for the full report)

To conclude, the staycation phenomenon is just one example of a behavioral shift caused by a rapidly changing travel cost structure. Certain destinations are experiencing stronger staycation interest than others, but with a an international increase in major tourism markets and no foreseeable reprieve from high gas prices & other effects of the financial crisis it looks like the staycation isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Destinations team-up with airlines to attract more tourists: The VisitBritain’s Case

Airlines, especially the national carriers, play a major role and assume the most important component in boosting a destination’s visitor flow. There is no doubt the airlines’ role is important not just because they will transfer the passengers but also due to their fundamental role as destination ambassadors. Further to this direction, National Tourist Organizations & DMOs are now launching joint marketing schemes with major airlines to further promote its destinations and increase their air traffic. Visit Britain seems to lead this trend by launching strategic alliance & joint promotional campaigns with all 3 major airlines flying from/to UK.

National tourism body VisitBritain is partnering with airline brands British Airways and EasyJet to encourage visitors to travel to cities across the country. As part of the tie-up, British Airways and EasyJet will offer discount flights to 10 cities in the UK from 12 European countries. The cities include Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle-Gateshead and Oxford. The campaign microsite, www.visitbritain.fi/cities, will depict two contrasting selling points of each city. For instance, Glasgow will be promoted with the line “trend-setting vs traditional”, highlighting the Scottish city’s style credentials as well as its historical attractions.

Almost a year ago VisitBritain and Virgin Atlantic Airways have invested $1 million in a joint campaign guerilla marketing, online advertising, media relations and travel trade outreach to help consumers uncover the best of Britain. The co-branded website www.getmorebritain.com is an online resource with regional destination guides, a ‘top 25 showcase of must-sees,’ a Virgin Atlantic Airways booking engine for roundtrip airfare, and a diverse selection of hotel and tourist attraction deals to plan a vacation in England, Scotland and Wales. As destinations’ revenues continue to decline and consumers remain tight-fisted with their leisure budgets, national tourism boards and airlines should join their efforts to attract tourists.

UNWTO Barometer: 2010 – Improved prospects in a ‘year of transformation’

Growth returned to international tourism in the last quarter of 2009contributing to better than expected full-year results, according to the latest edition of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. International tourist arrivals fell by an estimated 4% in 2009. Prospects have also improved with arrivals now forecast to grow between 3% and 4% in 2010.This outlook is confirmed by the remarkable rise of the UNWTO Panel of Experts’ Confidence Index.

2009 – Last quarter sees return to growth

International tourist arrivals for business, leisure and other purposes are estimated to have declined worldwide by 4% in 2009 to 880 million. This represents a slight improvement on the previous estimate as a result of the 2% upswing in the last quarter of 2009. In contrast, international tourist arrivals shrank by 10%, 7% and 2% in the first three quarters respectively. Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East led the recovery with growth already turning positive in both regions in the second half of 2009.

Regional panorama

Except for Africa, which bucked the global trend, all world regions show negative results in 2009:

  • Europe ended 2009 down 6% after a very complicated first half (-10%). Destinations in Central, Eastern and Northern Europe were particularly badly hit, while results in Western, Southern and Mediterranean Europe were relatively better.
  • Asia and the Pacific (-2%) showed an extraordinary rebound. While arrivals declined by 7% between January and June, the second half of 2009 saw 3% growth reflecting improved regional economic results and prospects.
  • In the Americas (-5%), the Caribbean returned to growth in the last four months of 2009. The performance was more sluggish in the other sub-regions, with the A(H1N1) influenza outbreak exacerbating the impact of the economic crisis.
  • The Middle East (-6%), though still far from the growth levels of previous years, had a positive second half in 2009.
  • Africa (+5%) was a robust performer, with sub-Saharan destinations doing particularly well.

2010 – Improved prospects in a ‘year of transformation’

Against the backdrop of both the upturn in international tourism figures and overall economic indicators in recent months, UNWTO forecasts a growth in international tourist arrivals of between 3% and 4% in 2010. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just recently stated that the global recovery is occurring “significantly” faster than expected, as compared with its October assessment which already counted on a clear return of economic growth in 2010 (+3.1% worldwide, with stronger performance for emerging economies at +5.1%, alongside a more sluggish one for advanced economies at +1.3%).

Upside opportunities:

  • Business and consumer confidence has picked up;
  • Interest rates and inflation remain at historically low levels and are expected to rise only moderately in the short term;
  • A slump is generally followed by a rebound due to pent-up demand and destinations are expected to actively leverage this opportunity;
  • There is scope for a revival among source markets which were hard hit in 2009 such as  the Russian Federation or the UK;
  • Major international events will take place in South Africa (FIFA World Cup), Canada (Winter Olympics) and China (Shanghai Expo), creating potential extra travel demand;
  • The momentum of the spirit of cooperation and partnership bred by the crisis is expected to be maintained by stakeholders;
  • The flexibility shown by the tourism sector in dealing with rapid shifts in demand and volatile market conditions has made it stronger;
  • Crises provide an opportunity to address underlying structural weaknesses and implement strategies fostering sustainable development and the transformation to the Green Economy.

Downside risks:

  • Unemployment is the key challenge. The jobs crisis is not over yet, particularly in major advanced economies and many valuable human resources are still at risk;
  • Economic growth in major source markets, specially in Europe and the USA, is still fragile;
  • Stimulus measures are likely to be phased out due to increasing public deficits while a number of advanced economies may see increases in taxation, putting extra pressure on household and company budgets;
  • Oil prices remain volatile;
  • Although the overall impact of the influenza A(H1N1) virus was milder until now than anticipated, experience from previous pandemics shows that the situation could once again become challenging;
  • Security threats and the potential of increased related hassle and costs for travellers are still a challenge;
  • Revenues and yields are expected to recover at a slower pace than travel volumes.

Go To UNWTO website for further information.

Download the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer: 2009 International Tourism Results and Prospects for 2010
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Need a stimulus package for your love life? New romantic campaign from Destination DC

Washington has another stimulus plan. This one is for lovers.

Tourism officials on Thursday launched a $200,000 initiative for the month of February that includes tapping  Dr. Ruth, the celebrity sex therapist, as the city’s honorary secretary of the “Department of Love and Relationships.”

Inspired by President and Michelle Obama’s “date nights“, which have spotlighted Washington’s restaurants and culture scene, tourism officials are using Ruth Westheimer to help promote the “stimulus plan” for the city’s tourism business.

Destination D.C., the city’s tourism arm, is launching a $200,000 campaign centered on date nights and Valentine’s Day that involves hotel deals, restaurant promotions and other specials, largely geared toward the regional market. They are billing the campaign as “Date Nights D.C.: A 28-Day Stimulus Plan for Love and Relationships.”

The campaign has a number of components to it, including a searchable “Create A Date” database which offers date ideas, a “Date Concierge” who will design and book each element of a date at no charge, a list of the city’s 28 most romantic spots and a number of themed packages.

Destination D.C. is promoting the campaign through online and radio ads, as well as with a Web site (www.DateNightsDC.org) dedicated to the promotion. They also will enlist the help of a celebrity, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who is coming on as the city’s honororary “Secretary of the Department of Love and Relationships”.

Presentation: Destination Marketing Accreditation Program

The Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP) has reached a major milestone and now has more than 100 destination marketing organizations (DMOs) that have earned accreditation. Developed by Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), this industry-wide accreditation program is designed to recognize DMOs that meet or exceed industry standards.

DMAP has accredited DMOs throughout the United States (35 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico), Canada, and Europe. The latest DMOs to achieve it are:

• Albany County Convention & Visitors Bureau (New York)
• Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau (Wisconsin)
• LA Inc. (California)
• Lisle Convention & Visitors Bureau (Illinois)
• Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Corporation (Alabama)
• New Orleans Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau (Louisiana)
• Porter County Convention, Recreation & Visitors Commission (Indiana)
• Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau (New York)
• Tourism Saskatoon (Canada)

To become accredited a DMO must successfully complete a rigorous application process, requiring evidence of compliance with 54 mandatory standards and 33 voluntary standards. The standards set by DMAP cover a wide variety of topics including governance, finance, management, human resources, technology, visitor services, group services, sales, communications, membership, brand management, destination development, research/market intelligence, innovation, and stakeholder relationships.

For more information visit DMAI’s special website section for DMAP, read the DMAP web brochure or watch the DMAP Video Presentation

Study Snapshot: ITB World Travel Trends Report 2009/2010

The findings in the ITB World Travel Trends Report were based on the assessments of 60 tourism experts from 30 countries, on a special IPK International trend analysis undertaken in leading source markets, and on core data supplied by the World Travel Monitor, recognised as the largest ongoing survey of global travel trends in some 60 source countries.

Key Trends

Air Travel

  • The first decline in arrivals and receipts since 2003
  • Turnaround confirmed by monthly trends
  • Africa is the sole region to buck the general trend
  • Flat is the new growth
  • Premium travel has been the hardest hit …resulting in declining yields and continuing airline losses
  • Airlines Capacity cuts have been widespread …… but forecasts confirm the industry’s resilience
  • Airfares are set to rise in the short term …… but technological advances will generate longer-term efficiencies

Accommodation

  • Hotels slash prices to remain competitive
  • Signs of improvement are still very patchy
  • Local conditions are also expected to play a significant role in determining which types of hotel accommodation, in terms of design and functionality, are being conceived and planned for hotel guests of tomorrow.
  • corporate travellers losing further share of the market …… but spending on business travel remains strong

Markets

  • Longhaul destinations such as Europe are being hit hardest as Japanese, Chinese, Indians and Thais also choose to stay home or travel within Asia.
  • Travel demand for 2010 is likely to pick up, but spending is likely to lag at around 2005-2006 levels.
  • Prospects for 2010 will be greatly determined by any return of consumer confidence in Japan and China.

Main drivers of growth

  • Confidence levels are still relatively weak
  • Unemployment remains a major concern
  • Structural changes in the travel & tourism market …… due to changes in demographics and lifestyles
  • Unpredictable Consumers’ reaction in times of crisis

Strategies and responses to the downturn

  • Crisis reveals underlying structural weaknesses
  • New research, and new ways of using research
  • Changing the marketing message as well as the medium
  • Partnership is key
  • Business cycles are always with us
The report concludes, “There are currently too many uncertainties to be able to predict with any real confidence the likely trends in terms of travel and tourism demand from the world’s leading source regions. “For the time being, pending developments over the next few months, the best ‘guesstimates’ suggest that neither Europe nor North America will do better than achieve a flat year in terms of growth, unless the economic recovery is much stronger in the USA than currently expected. “But Asia Pacific should see at least a modest increase in outbound trip volume – mainly for intra-regional destinations – a trend also forecast for South America and the Middle East.”
Download the full report at ITB World Travel Trends Report 2009-2010