Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Luxury Operators Predict Upturn

Luxury travel companies are predicting an upturn in business next year – but expect to deal with a markedly different customer, according to a report by Carlton Leisure (UK) Ltd.

Internet-savvy deal hunters who will not stint on cost but do demand value for money will be the norm in 2010, the report, released at this year’s Abta Travel Convention stated.

It also found that luxury tour operators have managed to maintain margins and market share despite the economic downturn.

“The vast majority of businesses expect trading conditions to improve in 2010.

“Luxury is chartering a new course through these turbulent trading times with a resourceful and deal savvy consumer requiring value for money.

“Despite being a big ticket item - this consumer preference has partially insulated luxury travel operators from the discretionary spend cull felt elsewhere in the market.”

In a survey of more than 7,000 luxury club members when asked what items they would cut back on during the recession, only 18% cited their main holiday, which fell ninth in the selection behind designer labels, electronics, and restaurant meals.

And only a fifth of respondents said they would downgrade to a cheaper destination despite the squeeze on their investments.

In a similar survey, polling all demographics, 41% said they would cut back on holidays and weekends away first. Holidays came second only to dining and nights out.

“The high net worth individuals and ABs are not moving to packaging or changing length of stay, but they are utilising the internet to scour the landscape for the right deal and right location at the right price.

“While some of these changes may be temporary the ‘buying clever’ trend is here to stay,” he added.

“To make it to the finish line, luxury travel businesses need to improve and develop their online presence and increase their portfolio of products in 2010,” he stated.

Travel Sure

Sunday, November 8, 2009

World Travel Awards 2009 Grand Final winners announced

Etihad, Virgin Atlantic, Visa, India Tourism, TUI Travel and Silversea Cruises were amongst companies who triumphed during the World Travel Awards Grand Final that was staged at Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott Hotel in London’s Mayfair last night.
The awards, described by the Wall Street Journal as the ‘Oscars’ of the global travel and tourism industry, revealed who are the ‘best of the best’ in the world. The Grand Final ceremony concludes the 2009 regional tour which has taken the World Travel Awards to Dubai, South Africa, Mexico and Portugal, celebrating the achievements of the leading lights of the travel and tourism industry.
World winners included: Etihad Airways (pictured above), “World’s Leading Airline”; InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, “World’s Leading Hotel Brand”; London, England, “World’s Leading Destination”; Dnata, “World’s Leading Travel Management Company” and Regency Travel and Tours, Qatar, “World’s Leading Travel Agency”.
A number of technology awards were also presented on the night: Expedia.co.uk won “World’s Leading Travel Booking Website” and Fairmont Hotels & Resorts scooped “World’s Leading Hotel Brand Website”.
The full list of winners for the World Travel Awards can be found by logging on to http://www.worldtravelawards.com/winners
Increasingly, the awards are known as raising the bar for ultimate customer service and overall business performance. Growing numbers of travel companies, airlines, operators and resorts compete to walk away with one of the coveted titles. According to the organisers, research has shown that winning a World Travel Award increases international brand recognition, building consumer loyalty.
Over 1,000 travel companies were nominated in 94 World categories and 14 Travel Technology categories in the Grand Final ceremony.
Nearly 1,000 senior management and decision makers from the world’s travel and tourism industry came together to celebrate their achievements at this star-studded event. Some of the thought leaders who were present included: Jean-Claude Baumgarten, President, WTTC; Kumari Selja, Minister of Tourism, India; Steve Ridgway, CEO, Virgin Atlantic Airways; Hon. Ed Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, Jamaica Tourist Board; His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and James Hogan, CEO, Etihad Airways.
Also in attendance was Shane O’Hare, President & CEO, Royal Jet Group; Paul White, President & CEO, Orient-Express Hotels; Clive Jacobs, Chairman, TW Group; Fiona Jefferey, Chairman, WTM & Chairman & Founder, Just a Drop; Nigel Turner, CEO, FlyBMI; Antonio Pedro F. de Mello, Secretary of Tourism, State of Rio de Janeiro and Ahmed Abdulla M. Al Muaimi, Chairman, Qatar Tourism Authority.
There were also 120 Miss World 2009 finalists present, supporting their respective destinations.
Graham Cooke, President and Founder, World Travel Awards commented: “The past 12 months have brought several challenges, namely the economic downturn and the outbreak of swine flu, which has impacted travel and tourism worldwide; today’s winners have not only been recognised as the best in their region, but they have proved themselves to be the best in the World and the number one choice of travel professionals and consumers alike.” He added: “They have remained focused on their long term objectives, and continued to deliver above and beyond the call of duty, setting an industry example.”
Throughout the evening, winners were presented with their prestigious awards by key industry figures, with live entertainment which included performances from Britain’s Got Talent winner George Sampson, international comedian and actor Bobby Davro and British Socialite Tamara Beckwith.These inspirational organisations will continue to reap profile and commercial benefits in 2010.
Cooke explained: “This year’s World winners can display the official World Travel Awards symbol with pride on their sales and marketing literature, offering travellers a cast-iron assurance that what they are buying is a guarantee of travel excellence.”
Just a Drop was the official charity for the evening and guests were invited to make a donation to this important charity that helps provide clean and safe water where it is urgently needed.
Tickets To World

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lufthansa winter flights to 191 destinations in 78 countries

In view of weaker demand in the coming winter flight schedules, Lufthansa is reducing the number of its weekly flights, especially on German and European routes. All in all, a total of 12,406 weekly flights will be laid on the new winter timetable (previous year: 13,402), a decrease of 7.4 per cent. Through gradual withdrawal of smaller regional aircraft and the deployment of larger types, the available seat capacity will remain stable in a year-on-year comparison. Overall, through fleet re-dimensioning, the capacity – measured in available seat kilometres - will increase marginally by 1.1 per cent, principally through the use of new aircraft in inter-continental traffic. The winter timetable 2009/2010 is valid for the period commencing Sunday, 25 October 2009 through to Saturday, 27 March 2010.

In the new winter flight schedules, Lufthansa is offering connections to 191 destinations in 78 countries (compared with 194 destinations in 79 countries in winter 2008/09). With 11,282 German domestic and European flights weekly (previous year: 12,278 flights), the downsizing is mainly in the continental route network. Long-haul services in contrast with a weekly 1,146 intercontinental flights (previous year: 1,124 flights) will increase marginally.

“Our passengers are staying loyal to us because we are maintaining existing connections and not radically revising our route network. We are optimising the network so as to retain connection quality, wherever possible, for our customers,” explained Karl Ulrich Garnadt, Member of the Lufthansa German Airlines Board. “We are keeping a presence in all traffic regions and cancelling flight connections only when alternatives are available to our passengers. This adaptation is a measure resulting from the CLIMB 2011 cost-cutting programme, with which the Lufthansa passenger business is aiming to improve its results on a sustained basis by a billion euros by 2011. At the same time, we are opening up new markets in West Africa, for example, so as to harness new grow opportunities.“

Renewed adjustment to the timetable in line with declining demand will be effected largely by scrapping individual flight frequencies, amalgamating specific routes and the assumption of selected connections by airlines in the Lufthansa Group. In the winter schedules, for example, the flights operated to Brussels by Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines in cross-border traffic between Germany and Belgium will be rearranged and harmonised. Lufthansa will take over the connections to the Belgian capital from its Frankfurt and Munich hubs, Brussels Airlines will in return connect Brussels with Hamburg and Berlin.

Despite the necessary cuts, Lufthansa is continuing to develop new, strategically important growth markets. Among its principal targets are West and Central Africa. Lufthansa is further increasing its services in that region and will be flying daily to the Nigerian capital Abuja when the new timetable starts. Those flights will continue thrice-weekly to Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) and four times weekly to Nigeria’s Port Harcourt, which is thus featuring anew in the timetable. In July, the biggest German airline is commencing a new connection to Libreville in Gabon. In this region, rich in raw materials, Lufthansa is also flying to Luanda (Angola) and Lagos (Nigeria). In comparison with the previous year, Lufthansa is doubling its services to the oil-producing countries in West and Central Africa from 11 to 21 flights weekly.

Since 1 October, Lufthansa customers have been able to book new code-share connections with cooperation partner JetBlue. The US carrier is operating flights also under Lufthansa flight numbers from 11 November 2009 with seamless flight connections ex New York or Boston to twelve US destinations and Puerto Rico. Additionally, seasonal services Hamburg–Innsbruck (Austria), Frankfurt–Cape Town (South Africa) and Dusseldorf–Miami (USA) will be resumed.

In the past few months, Lufthansa has for economic discontinued flights to Erivan (Armenia), Bristol (UK), Ufa (Russia) and Portland/Oregon (USA).

The airlines in the Lufthansa Group – Austrian Airlines, bmi, Brussels Airlines and SWISS – are also commencing their winter flight schedules on 25 October. In harness with Lufthansa, all five airlines are together serving 254 destinations in 101 countries on four continents via their hubs at Brussels, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, London-Heathrow, Munich, Vienna and Zurich. They are also each augmenting their own services with an array of code-share fights with partner airlines.