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p1 Cover Oct9

travel trade gazette

the voice of the travel industry ttglive.com

Abta told to target retailers Abta has been urged to look at the demands large retailers place on bed banks rather than portraying the accommodation suppliers as the “big bad wolves”. Bed banks and industry experts responded as Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer defended the association’s stance at the opening of the Travel Convention in Barcelona p4

Taxman turns on travel Revenue & Customs has set up a top-level tax avoidance team to scrutinise the travel industry p5 TRAVEL GIVES BACK.

Flood relief in Cambodia An agent tells how he helped a luxury hotel aid flooded villages after Typhoon Ketsana swept through south-east Asia p9

The intelligent read: TTG launched its first Travel Intelligence Report at the Travel Convention this week to acclaim from the industry and wider world. The findings of its exclusive and rigorous analysis of consumer research, booking data and flight capacity statistics were immediately picked up by the national media and led to reports on the BBC and newspapers across the UK p7

TTG Travel Awards 2009: Winners, groovers, dresses and successes! Read the judges’ verdicts on the worthy victors. Plus, Best Dressed fashion special, p38


7/10/09

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Intelligence needed to adapt to public’s new buying habits “GROSS AFFLUENZA” was the condition Tui UK & Ireland boss Dermot Blastland said all consumers had some years ago. The symptoms were that people spent money without really thinking about the value they were getting – but those days are long gone and a new psychology now prevails. The public is short of cash. And delegates at Abta’s Travel Convention were this week warned that this has made them learn how to “buy smart” – whether it’s groceries, clothes or indeed travel. Of course, the no-frills carriers introduced the concept several years ago, but flights are a commodity product, not a purchase as big or emotional as the two-week annual summer holiday. And experts say the shift in mentality is far more profound than customers simply opting for a shorter or closer-to-home holiday for a couple of years while the downturn prevails. Rather, they suggest it is a major structural shift in buying habits that will become engrained in consumer behaviour. For travel providers, this means customers will be even more clued up than before and will buy predominantly from those offering good quality at low prices. And that means the cost reduction journey being taken by most companies is far from over. Even BA boss Willie Walsh said on a video clip that he believes all full-service carriers will have to look at unbundling more elements and charging for them – although not, he was careful to add, on the same scale as the no-frills carriers have done. The trick, according to the heads of some of the country’s biggest fashion stores, supermarkets and hotel chains, is to cut things that do not compromise the customer experience. Ditching things they won’t notice and keeping those they really want can be done only by truly understanding your customers and the market conditions, which may well may be why we have had such an overwhelming response to our inaugural TTG Travel Intelligence Report, published this week. There is a real thirst for both tangible statistics and insightful analysis to ensure current challenges are met and businesses flourish in the year ahead. Here at TTG we are committed to giving you both.

Lucy Huxley Editor

news

Travel Convention 2009 ■ Photi says Abta should target retailers, not bed banks p4 ■ Buyers’ habits have changed for good, warns PwC boss p6 ■ TTG’s exclusive launch for Travel Intelligence Report p7 ■ Video coverage of Carnival boss Micky Arison on ttglive ■ Full reports from all the business sessions on ttglive Tax team targets travel p5

letters a week” from indie agents hoping to sell their businesses

A team of tax avoidance specialists has been set up by Revenue & Customs to probe travel companies

Interview: Craig Cherry p16

Revenue & Customs.

Amex agent helps relief p9

The Monarch procurement chief explains airline’s drive to trim supplier total from 1,200 to 900

An Amex consultant on sabbatical in Cambodia has been helping with relief efforts after typhoon

Royal Caribbean on tips p20

Cambodia.

Youtravel VIPs.

Abta rule change ‘flawed’ p10 Abta and the CAA are accused of shying away from their consumer protection responsibilities and making themselves “outdated” Air.

09.10.2009

Cruise.

Cruise giant has hinted that Brits’ distaste for onboard gratuities could spur tipping policy review Operators.

Recession ‘unites trade’ p32 The downturn has brought the independent sector closer together, says Caribtours boss Paul Cleary

Report: BA’s City-NY link p12 Business travellers could have problems justifying the cost of tickets for BA’s new New York link Agents.

Indies ‘want to sell up’ p14 Co-op boss is receiving “five or six

02

City.

REGULARS.

City & finance p16 Cruise p20 Air p24 Hotels & resorts p26 Operators p34 Letters p36


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ttglive.com

knowledge

jobs

The section for you and your business, including agent news and reviews, easy-to-use product guides and in-depth features to help you sell more. Make sure YOU get the Knowledge.

of the week

BUSINESS.

PRODUCT.

TTG Travel Awards p38 Judges reveal the factors that swayed their decisions, and find out what winning means to the lucky recipients

Best Dressed! p52 See photos of our Best Dressed at the TTG Travel Awards competition winner and runners-up, and read our fashion expert’s styling tips

Mystery Shopper p56 This week our mystery shopper heads to Cambridge looking for a family holiday in Disneyland Resort Paris

Latin America p59

■ News from key airlines and operators in our Noticeboard page ■ We hunt down the quirkiest hotels and lodges across Latin America, including Canopy Tower in Panama (pictured) ■ How winter sales are shaping up for Mexico ■ There’s also chance to win tickets to the brilliant new Mexican exhibition at the British Museum, courtesy of Superbreak ■ For another chance to win with Superbreak, see page 19 for its Wicked theatre break in London competition

Attractions p69

■ We ask an expert how clients can spend their time in Orlando ■ A reminder of how to win a place on the Orlando Super Fam ■ We also take a look at what European and UK theme parks have in store for the forthcoming spooky and festive seasons

Competitions

Travel Convention coverage

Win prizes including shopping vouchers and fam trip places ttglive.com/competitions

ttglive.com/abta

Sign up to receive our fortnightly emails with the latest jobs in travel ttglive.com/subscribe

ttgluxury Experience Luxury agents can enter to win a place on our fantastic ttgluxury Experience trip to Jordan ttgluxury.com/Jordan

Virgin Holidays “You’ll negotiate contracts with our overseas partners that meet the safety, quality, price and terms specified by our business which ensure that we deliver the very best holidays for our customers at the best possible price. . .” p79

Marketing and website assistant

ttglive.com Jobs alerts

Contracts manager

The Travel Convention took place in Barcelona this week and as media partner for the event, ttglive.com has been bringing you all the news as it happens. If you missed any of the big stories you can read them online. You can also check out photos from the business sessions and social events. Plus, Roving Readers have been filing reports to give you the inside scoop. Find out more at ttglive.com/abta

Steppes Travel “Previous experience within the travel industry, Dreamweaver and Photoshop is desired, as are excellent communication skills and attention to detail. You will act as an ‘approver’ on all web and e-news copy. . .” p79

Area sales manager – North West and Yorks Hays Travel Independence Group “The role is to support and develop a specific group of Hays Travel Independence Group members, to develop potential new members and ensure optimum levels of service are provided at all times. The position will be home-based. . .” p82

Quick flick Abta 4-7, 37 Air Europa 59 Allbury 32 Amex 9 BA 4, 9, 14, 36 BAA 36 Bahamas TO 35 Caribtours 32 Co-op Travel 14 CTO 34 Disneyland 57 Fred Olsen 20 Gold Medal 37 Harlequin 26 ITT 26 Jaz Hotels 26 Kuoni 64 Langham Hotels 35 M’chester airport 24 Medhotels 5

Mexicana 24, 64 Monarch 16 NCL 22 Premier Travel 57 Regal Hotels 26 Royal Caribbean 20 Saga Holidays 4 Samoa TA 9 Somewhere2stay 4,5 Sunvil 64 Superbreak 66 SuperClubs 35 Thomas Cook 57 Titan Travel 4 Travel C’llrs 4 Virgin Atlantic 24 Virgin Holidays 35 Visit USA 14 White Hart Ass. 4 Youtravel 10

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09.10.2009 ‘BA cuts will Fight rages over cause despair’ Abta protection ABTA has been told TTG REPORTS FROM to target its retail members rather than bed banks if it wants to tackle risky business models. The association was urged to look to retailers as chief executive Mark Tanzer (pictured), speaking at the Travel Convention, defended its plans to make all members responsible for money collected on their behalf. The move is designed to stop customers losing out in the event of an agency failure, and Abta says it will encourage retailers and suppliers to adopt less risky business models. But Chris Photi, senior partner at White Hart Associates, writing on ttglive.com, said that Abta was unfairly portraying bed banks as “big bad wolves”. Photi said bed banks had adapted an “unbelievably flexible and workable” model that allowed Abta’s retail members to “abdicate responsibility for the consumer”. Those members should look at their protection and terms with suppliers, he said. Somewhere2stay managing director Stuart Jackson agreed that the issue was not one for the bed banks, which just supply the product agents need, but for the association’s retailers, which choose the commercial models they work by.

COVER STORY

Abta chairman John McEwan has invited Travel Counsellors chairman David Speakman to meet him and chief executive Mark Tanzer to find a solution to consumer protection. McEwan issued the invitation after Speakman criticised the association’s move to improve consumer protection by making member bed banks responsible for money collected on their behalf. Speakman said Abta was trying to put “one wheel back on a wheel-less car” after “surrendering its credibility on consumer protection three

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“If Abta wants to tidy this up to show the association stands for something, retailers also have to distribute and sell in such a way that honours the Abta badge,” he said. Jackson will start talks with his retail partners next week on options including leaving Abta or changing commercial terms with retailers. Tanzer said Abta’s move was a “strong statement of principle”. But he insisted it did not constitute a judgement on the merits of one business model over another. Abta board member John de Vial said Abta’s rule change could encourage a less risky approach to the deals retailers strike with suppliers. He said: “Should Abta members be able to appoint someone as a distribution point and then not take responsibility? We think that’s wrong.”

years ago – when Abta decided to cease payments to consumers when an agency went bust. Speakman said the only way to properly financially protect the customer was not to allow the agent or the supplier to hold the money until the product is delivered, putting the money in a trust fund. McEwan said Abta’s proposals for bed banks and for an “agents’ Atol” would provide more protection for consumers than trust accounts, as used by Travel Counsellors.

UNIONS have claimed British Airways customers will be “in despair” if the airline’s proposals to change the roles of cabin crew on long-haul flights go through. Unite, the union representing cabin crew, held an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss its response to BA’s proposals, which emerged during negotiations about plans to cut 1,700 jobs and impose a two-year pay freeze. A Unite spokeswoman said the changes to cabin crew responsibilities, which would lead to the number of crew on Boeing 747 flights from Heathrow dropping from 15 to 14, would worsen customer service. The changes are due to start in November. “Customers will be in despair because the company is pursuing this no-frills approach to cabin crew,” she said. “It goes to the heart of what BA is about. We think it should remain a full service national flag-carrier.” BA said it had to cut costs as it was expecting to make a significant loss for the second year running for the first time in the airline’s history.

Saga parent to buy Titan Travel SAGA Holidays’ parent company, Acromas, has agreed to buy tour operator Titan Travel. Titan Travel, a family-owned tour operator, was first linked to the owners of the grey-market specialist in the summer. Titan will join a portfolio of companies under the Acromas umbrella. Chief executive Andrew Goodsell said: “Titan is a good fit with our existing travel brands: Saga Holidays, Saga Cruises, Spirit of Adventure and AA Travel.” In August it was reported that the firm’s sale was being handled by McInnes, an arm of Begbies Traynor, the professional services company, and that a deal for around £20 million was likely to be completed.


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In brief ■ Atol deadline sees 220 licences not renewed More than 200 companies did not renew their Atol licence with the CAA by the October 1 deadline. Some 132 will no longer hold an Atol and another 87 missed the deadline but could still get a licence. No big names were in the list despite speculation that some would struggle to meet bonding requirements.

■ Barbados PM in last-ditch APD talks Barbados prime minister David Thompson has held talks in London with leading travel figures in a last-ditch attempt to persuade the British government to scrap next month’s planned increase in Air Passenger Duty. Tui UK & Ireland managing director Dermot Blastland and George Blundell-Pound from the Federation of Tour Operators were among those at the meeting.

■ ‘A 2010 bounce-back is blind optimism’ Hoseasons boss Richard Carrick said those in the industry hoping travel bookings will bounce back in 2010 were suffering from “blind optimism”. Carrick said many in the travel industry have underestimated a fundamental change in consumer behaviour during the past year. Recession breeds “clever buyers”, p6

■ Aer Lingus to axe jobs and cut pay Aer Lingus is to cut nearly 800 jobs and impose pay reductions in an attempt to reduce costs by ¤97 million by 2011. The airline is offering voluntary redundancy to 500 staff but has admitted there may have to be compulsory redundancies. Another 187 jobs will go at head office. Staff earning more than ¤35,000 will see their pay cut.

Tax team set up to target travel Lee Hayhurst.

A TOP-LEVEL team of anti-tax avoidance specialists has been set up by Revenue & Customs to investigate the travel industry. The team is particularly focusing on VAT due under the Tour Operators’ Margin Scheme, and a leading expert has warned bed banks should be urgently assessing their potential liabilities. Damon Wright, manager at accountants Grant Thornton, said bed banks should all be looking at their books in the light of the Medhotels VAT tribunal. Last week TTG revealed that lastminute.com is facing an £11 million VAT claim from when it owned Medhotels, with a four-day tribunal case due to start on November 23. “The agency model is under very serious scrutiny by Revenue & Customs,” said Wright. “All businesses working on an agency model need to be aware. “If they have not reviewed their contracts and procedures to ensure the whole process from

purchase to sale fully supports the agency model they should do so now.” Wright said the Revenue was investigating if VAT was being paid on the difference between the hotels’ net rate and the final price the consumer pays, arguing a bed bank is liable to pay UK VAT on this under Toms. He warned that if the Revenue was not successful against bed banks it could then target large online travel retailers and retail partners to try to recoup the money. The Revenue team is understood to have met several bed banks already, including Somewhere2stay and Lowcostbeds. Somewhere2stay’s Stuart Jackson confirmed the meeting but said he was confident his company qualified as an agent. “We obviously believe we are fine but whether the VAT man interprets it that way is another thing,” he said. “I think they want to prove one case and then look to come after others.”

■ United offers flyers one-off luggage fee Frequent flyers on United Airlines could save money on luggage charges by stumping up an annual fee as part of its Premier Baggage scheme. The airline said customers could make a one-off payment of $249 to check in two bags every time they fly United for the next 12 months.

■ All Leisure wins award for biggest growth All Leisure Group, which owns cruise lines Swan Hellenic, Voyages of Discovery and Hebridean, has won a business achievement award from law firm Clarke Willmott for the biggest increase in sales and pre-tax profits of any public company in the south of England in the last year. All Leisure increased turnover by 49.7% to £67.5 million while profits rose 91% to £9.1 million. ttglive.com

For the latest news, reviews and comment from the travel industry, visit ttglive.com

TTG REPORTS FROM

READY TO REPORT! TTG ’s team of Roving Readers was out in force at the Travel Convention in Barcelona this week. To find out what they made of all the speakers, sessions, supplier events and parties, go to ttglive.com/abta 09.10.2009

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news conference report

ttglive.com

The Travel Convention 2009

Trade Media Partner

October 6-8 ■ Barcelona

This week’s convention concluded one of the trade’s toughest seasons. TTG ’s team reports from Spain

‘New breed of buyers’ CUSTOMER buying habits have fundamentally shifted during the recession and will not return to pre-credit crunch ways, the Travel Convention was told. PricewaterhouseCoopers partner Malcolm Preston (pictured) said a poll of 1,000 consumers for PwC showed four different types of behaviour: switching location, downgrading, buying less and buying clever. He singled out buying clever as having the most impact on the holiday market and said after the recession customers would continue to look for promotional offers, use the internet more and spend more time checking prices. “Travel companies must reduce the selling cost by pricing each element of the package according to how the buyer values it,” he added. Another PwC partner, Mark Hudson, said it

was no longer possible to pigeonhole consumers according to age or social demographic. Hudson showed video interviews with senior figures, including Tui managing director Dermot Blastland and British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh, about consumer habits over the past 12 months. Blastland highlighted cruise and all-inclusive as two recession-successful products due to the consumer’s desire to pre-budget. Walsh focused on the need to “unbundle” the core product to see what customers actually value and what could be removed to save costs while not affecting customer experience. Hudson also warned that the midmarket was becoming “deserted”. “The bland mass market is in trouble. The only way for the price to go is down,” he said.

AGENCY DEAL.

Teletext to open travel outlets in Tesco stores TELETEXT Holidays has agreed a new retail partnership with Tesco to help compensate for losing its analogue television service. The deal was announced at the Travel Convention. It will operate branded travel agencies at Tesco Extra stores, and plans to employ more than 100 agents at 20 outlets over the next two years. The first 250sq ft shop will open in December in Pitsea, Essex, with up to six staff. The second shop to open will be almost four times the size with dedicated cruise, Mediterranean and worldwide sales departments. Teletext Holidays managing director Victoria Sanders said: “I am conscious of losing a certain audience when analogue goes and I think this will go some way to holding on to them. “The retail agent is not a dying breed; people still want to go to an agency and book a holiday.” Shop customers will also be able to access the teletextholidays.co.uk site on self-service pods.

CRUISE.

POLICY GUIDE.

Carnival has ‘no plans to build bigger ships’

Abta to offer free child protection training

CARNIVAL Corporation chairman Micky Arison has ruled out his company building ships as large as rival Royal Caribbean International’s. Speaking at the Travel Convention, Arison said Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 was “probably” the biggest ship Carnival will ever build. Royal Caribbean will launch the 5,400passenger Oasis of the Seas in November, a ship that is 40% bigger than those in its fleet that now hold the title of the world’s largest liners. Arison said he had no intention of building anything larger for the Carnival Cruises brand than its newest ship the Dream, nor anything larger for UK market leader P&O Cruises than the 3,000-passenger Ventura.

ABTA is launching free online training for the travel industry on child protection issues. The Every Child Everywhere training, unveiled at the Travel Convention, will educate staff on how to deal with child protection problems in resorts when travelling. The training is launched in partnership with children’s rights organisation Ecpat UK. It has three modules: following, implementing and developing child protection policies and procedures. Ecpat UK director Christine Beddoe said: “This tool will give travel professionals an understanding of child protection issues and of the importance of child protection policies.”

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Carnival chairman Micky Arison He said: “We try to build ships that have the flexibility to visit ports such as Venice. When you get to a certain size you start to limit flexibility.” Arison admitted he was worried about the state of the global economy last year but said the trading environment had dramatically improved. Carnival was now able to access banking facilities that were closed to it at the start of the credit crunch, he added.


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conference report news

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The Travel Convention • October 6-8 • Barcelona TTG LAUNCH.

TTG holds exclusive reception to unveil Travel Intelligence Report THE first TTG Travel Intelligence Report 2009 was launched at an exclusive reception in Barcelona on the evening before the formal start of the Travel Convention. TTG editor Lucy Huxley was joined by research partners Sarah Smalley from GfK AscentMI and Sally Morgan from The Network for the launch event. The report combines booking data from GfK Ascent-MI, consumer research from The Network and flight capacity information from aviation statistics provider OAG. As well as reviewing the tough past 12 months,

In brief ■ UK cruise passengers will rise 5% in 2009

the report also identifies trends to help travel leaders make informed decisions. Huxley said: “I hope the Intelligence Report empowers readers to meet current challenges and flourish in the year ahead.” Copies will be available at a special WTM event in November, at TTG’s Qatar Airways-sponsored Luxury Directors’ Club on October 12 at the Berkeley Hotel in London, and at the International Luxury Travel Market in Cannes in December.

■ Copies of the TTG Travel Intelligence Report are also available on Amazon, priced £89

Intelligence readers: Tracey Cheffey, travel category director at Yahoo!, and Paul Turner, chief executive of travel insurance firm Arnold Fisher

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A record number of UK holidaymakers will take a cruise in 2009, according to statistics released at the Travel Convention by the Passenger Shipping Association. The total number of British cruise passengers is on track to rise to 1.55 million this year, a 5% increase on 2008. The PSA has predicted a further 6.5% increase to 1.65 million next year as new ships such as P&O Cruises’ Azura, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Eclipse enter service.

■ Cook to donate £12k to Abta Benevolent Fund Thomas Cook has pledged £12,000 to the Abta Benevolent Fund. The fund was established by Abta 20 years ago to help colleagues who are or were previously employed by an Abta member and have fallen on hard times. It has awarded a total of £500,000 in grants and loans.

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■ Fred Olsen plans cruise price rises for 2010 Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is planning to push up prices in 2010, according to marketing director Nigel Lingard. The cruise company, which for the fifth consecutive year was a headline sponsor at the Travel Convention this week, told agents it was “looking to be 5% up in volume terms” on last year’s figures, having sailed “jam-packed” ships this year. Fred Olsen raises funds for Philippines flood, p20

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In brief ■ Australian mega-fam invites agents Aussie Specialist agents are being invited to put their names down for Tourism Australia’s 2010 Corroboree mega-fam in May. There are places for about 140 agents from the UK and Ireland on the trip, which will include a two-day training workshop in Melbourne and 21 options for five-day fam trips around Australia. Agents have until October 29 to register interest. Register at specialist.australia.com

■ Wendy Wu appoints regional sales bosses Asia specialist Wendy Wu has added two sales managers to its trade team. Dougie Hill, who previously worked for Thomas Cook Signature, and Paul Mellon, formerly of Trails of Indochina and Inghams, have both been appointed as UK regional business development managers.

■ Cresta offers Christmas market breaks City-break operator Cresta has unveiled a Christmas Markets & Winter Breaks brochure, featuring short breaks to European cities famed for their festive markets, including Lille, Bruges, Antwerp, Brussels, Munich, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Prague, Vienna, Budapest and Stockholm. Prices start at £135 per person. Operator news and new brochures, p32

■ Police call off search for missing agent Police in Manchester this week called off the search for missing travel agent Jane McMurchy after a woman’s body was found in woods near Altrincham. The 47-year-old was said to have been suffering from depression since losing her job at Portman Travel five months ago.

■ TripAdvisor brings flight price software to UK TripAdvisor has launched a UK version of its search function that tells customers the final cost of a flight before they input payment details. The Expedia-owned review site has tailored its Fees Estimator software to the UK so users can see how much any flight will end up costing.

■ Jet2 claims pole position at Manchester Jet2.com claims to be Manchester airport’s biggest scheduled leisure airline after adding four routes for next summer. The airline said the services to Dubrovnik, Split, Reus and Prague increased its destinations served from Manchester to 28, more than any other scheduled carrier. Manchester wins TTG Best Airport Award, p24 ttglive.com

For the latest news, reviews and comment from the travel industry, visit ttglive.com

Amex agent from London helps Cambodia flood relief Chris Gray.

A TRAVEL consultant on sabbatical in Cambodia has been helping with relief efforts after typhoon Ketsana flooded nearby villages. John Palfrey worked with owners of a luxury hotel, the Sojourn (pictured), to distribute food to hundreds of families on the outskirts of Siem Reap, close to the temples of Angkor. The hotel already had a close relationship with the village, Treak, because it organised trips for guests to see how families lived in traditional Cambodian homes, giving 50% of the tours’ proceeds to the villagers. Palfrey, who is working at an orphanage on sabbatical from his job as a travel consultant at American Express in London, said the hotel and its sister property acted as distribution centres for relief after the flood.

He joined staff from the hotel to help divide food into family supply bags and distribute clothes and blankets. “The floods have left the community under a couple of feet of water – survivable due to the construction of most Cambodian homes,” he said. “But the food supply has been wiped out and those without employment now have nothing.” Palfrey said the relief effort was an extension of the commitment Sojourn’s owners were already showing the local community. “It’s an example of a travel company becoming part of the community it works in. This is tourism really making a difference.” Typhoon Ketsana left a trail of destruction across south-east Asia last week, causing the most damage in the Philippines before hitting Vietnam and Cambodia.

Tsunami-hit Samoa revives campaign SAMOA is to restart its promotional campaigns on Monday – less than two weeks after the Pacific islands were hit by a tsunami. Samoa Tourism Authority withdrew the campaigns following the tsunami on September 29 but travel agents are being urged to keep booking clients to the islands. Authority spokeswoman Kate Fenton said: “It is important British tourists continue to come to Samoa and support the hotels and resorts that have not been affected. We are relying on UK agents’ continued support, and trust they will encourage clients to continue to visit.” The worst-affected area was the south-east coast of Upolu Island, where resorts, family

homes, community buildings, roads, power lines and water supplies were damaged. Temporarily closed properties include Coconuts Beach Club, Maninoa Surf Camp, Sinalei Reef Resort, Salani Surf Resort, Vavau Beach Bungalows, Taufua Beach Fales, Litia Sini Beach Resort and Namu’a Beach Fales. The tourist board said properties in neighbouring areas were still operating, despite suffering some damage. Accommodation in the rest of the country is unaffected. Faleolo International airport, Samoa’s main gateway, has remained open throughout. Air New Zealand and Polynesian Blue have laid on extra flights and reduced air fares to Samoa.

09.10.2009

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in-depth youtravel VIP weekend

ttglive.com

Guests at the annual Youtravel VIP weekend were optimistic about next year, concerned about Greece, and angry with Abta and the CAA. Rupert Murray reports from Crete

‘Protection flaws marginalise Abta’ A

BTA and the CAA have been accused of shying away from their consumer protection responsibilities and making themselves increasingly irrelevant and “outdated”. Chadwell Travel managing director Chetan Patel claimed the two bodies had looked for “any excuse” to avoid paying out after recent failures, so another way had to be found to cover every element of a holiday. “The government is a couple of decades behind the time and still seems to think everything is a package,” he said. “I can see no alternative to charging a price per element – even something like 20p – to ensure everything is covered. We have to go down this route, as far as I can see, because nobody seems willing to take responsibility.” Youtravel sales and marketing director Paul Riches agreed with Patel, saying the complexity of the system meant the consumer lost out. “We have gone through agency failures and

when we know we are liable we pay out,” he said. “But there is such a big grey area that bodies like the CAA and Abta can hide. “They are supposed to represent the consumer but in reality they don’t. “It is a total mess, with no consistency, and the only way to do this properly is to create a levy or an insurance which covers every element. “The latest Abta plan is for members that supply product to have to honour all bookings whether or not they have been paid for. “The whole thing is flawed and they haven’t tackled what to do with the money once paid and who holds and protects it.” UK Travelshop group general sales manager Geoff Andrews went a step further, claiming Abta was “outdated and dying”. The industry had changed so much and so many companies were no longer members that it had become unnecessary, he said.

■ Your views on bed bank ruling: Letters, p36

Youtravel’s round-table panel Clockwise from top left: Phil Norris sales director, A2B Transfers Chris Roche commercial manager, Travel Republic Chetan Patel managing director, Chadwell Travel Andy Stark, head of Triton Rooms

10

09.10.2009

Victoria Sanders managing director, Teletext Holidays Geoff Andrews group general sales manager, UK Travelshop Paul Riches sales and marketing director, Youtravel.com Russell Adamson northern sales director, Barrhead Travel

Crete, unlike some other Greek islands, benefits from good air access 2010 FORECASTS.

Next year tipped for slight growth TTG asked each of the panellists for their predictions for next year. This is how they think 2010 will measure up against 2009.

Russell Adamson, Barrhead Travel “We have three new branches opening in the near future so I am very optimistic that next year is going to be a good one. We seem to be bucking the trend and hope that will continue.”

Paul Riches, Youtravel.com “Booking trends have changed. The DP [dynamic packaging] arena has still got growth in it, so in our sector we still see a bit of growth, but it is tough to get customers. The feelgood factor is important. Everyone has been talking about recession, but if you’ve still got a job you have more money to spend, the mortgage is lower and it is going to seem like everything is not as bad as everyone told you – so I think people will be more optimistic and more likely to travel.”


p10-11 Youtravel Oct 9

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in-depth

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MARKETING.

Greece urged to be proactive

Geoff Andrews, UK Travelshop “At the most, next year is going to be 10% better than this year. The issues are going to be the same as those which have hindered us this year such as late bookings and a strong euro, which I can’t see changing. An election might help.”

Victoria Sanders, Teletext Holidays

Chetan Patel Chadwell Travel “I am optimistic about next year; it will be better than this year and margins will creep up. This year everyone had to drop margins to fight for business. Last year we were facing a huge lack of confidence but next year people will be more confident.”

Andy Stark, Triton Rooms

“The late market is going to continue. We’ve got a few things to keep an eye on as potentially impactful such as the World Cup and oil prices. I think UK holidays will continue to be popular. If you look at holiday cottage bookings for next summer they are up on last year. There will not be as much all-inclusive but self-catering will do better.”

“Anyone who didn’t go on holiday this year will go next year. If people went for a UK holiday this year they will be gutted and want to go away. It’s important to watch your business costs, keep a very close eye on what you’re spending and what is coming in. People will travel next year and I expect to see a slight step up.”

Chris Roche, Travel Republic

Phil Norris, A2B Transfers

“I can see self-catering and allinclusive doing well and I believe the UK will do better than this year. Price will be the winner and websites will leverage different marketing channels to acquire customers as cheaply as possible. The key will be conversion and the biggest factor there will be price. Customers are still looking for absolute value and I think our margins will be similar to this year.”

“2010 will be somewhere between level and 5% up on 2009. January, February and March will be better but will be undermined by a worse May and June, which will even things out. People are still after value for money. In terms of transfers we will do well numbers-wise. Customers are booking shuttles this year, downgrading from a taxi, and in a perverse way this has helped our numbers.”

GREECE is in danger of being overtaken by growing destinations such as Egypt and Turkey. Triton Rooms’ Andy Stark, who spent 20 years working overseas for First Choice, said he had watched Greece slip back in the last decade. “It has done nothing particularly wrong but other gateways such as Turkey and Egypt have been developing and it hasn’t been quick enough to hold its business,” he said. “Greece is driven by where carriers are going, places like Zante, Crete and Rhodes. The shame is that people have missed out on some of the other islands because you can’t get there without a boat and you can’t get a boat because operators can’t get the insurance. A massive amount of Greece is therefore unavailable.” Stark added: “And from a health and safety perspective a lot of places we used to sell can’t be advertised now for basic reasons, like the balcony isn’t high enough.” Stark, who lived in Crete for five years, said the Greek tourist board did not do enough. “The Greeks seem to have gone back into themselves and it needs a governmental push to get Greece back to its glory days; it has a lot of work to do.” UK Travelshop group general manager Geoff Andrews agreed Greece has to change, adding: “It needs to go back to grass-roots. The Greeks need to go back to promoting the small islands.” Phil Norris, sales director at A2B Transfers, said the key to success for Greece was to have a strong regional flying operation. “If a UK region loses a Greece flight people will simply fly somewhere else from that airport, they won’t travel to London to get to Greece.”

Santorini: the Greek tourist board “must work to revive the glory days”

09.10.2009

11


p12 news Oct9

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news british airways

ttglive.com

BA bullish despite high-fare concerns The UK’s flag-carrier attracted praise and criticism with the launch last week of its highly publicised London City-New York all-business-class service. Martin Ferguson was onboard BUSINESS travellers could have problems justifying the cost of tickets for British Airways’ new premium service, according to a leading travel manager. Mark Avery, head of procurement at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said some companies would block attempts by employees to book the all-business-class service from London City to New York JFK because cheaper fares would be available from Heathrow. Lead-in fares for the service, which is twicedaily on weekdays with a limited service on weekends, start at £1,996 including taxes and charges. Avery, a former chairman of the Institute of Travel and Meetings, was onboard the inaugural City flight last week and admitted he was “very impressed” by the service. “It was very good, and clearing customs and immigration in Shannon was beneficial given the time it saves the passenger when arriving at JFK, which can be slow and cumbersome,” he said. “But the bottom line is that it will be hard to justify the premium fare at City over cheaper fares out of Heathrow.” Avery said he had also received negative feedback about the flight times of the outbound leg from London. “When you land in New York it’s already early

evening and you’ve lost most of the day,” he said. Richard Tams, the carrier’s UK sales director, admitted the service needed some “fine-tuning” but was confident the route would succeed. “I don’t think you can really understand or appreciate the service until you’ve tried it,” he said. “The initial feedback has been good and I have picked up some ideas from passengers about how we could make improvements. “They are small things but important if we are creating the best customer experience.” BA’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, has said he expects the new service to be profitable by the end of the year.

No-frills widen passenger gap BRITISH Airways reported further falls in its passenger numbers last month, in contrast to Ryanair and easyJet which both saw increases. BA’s overall passenger numbers for the month dropped 1.7% compared with September 2008 to 2.92 million. Premium traffic dropped 7.9% but non-premium traffic rose 0.7% – the third consecutive month of rises. In contrast easyJet and Ryanair both saw rises in carryings and load factors in September. EasyJet’s passenger numbers rose 5.3% to 4.4 million, with a 1.2 point hike in load factor to

12

09.10.2009

EYE-WITNESS.

Martin Ferguson test-flies BA’s new 32-seat Airbus A318 London City-New York service PASSING through security at London City airport is famously slick. I had checked in online and had only hand luggage so it took me just 16 minutes to get from the airport entrance to gate 24, where there was a make-shift lounge. Free Wi-Fi and refreshments including champagne helped ease the two-hour delay. Three cabin crew gave the 32 passengers five-star attention, though at times they looked noticeably one man short. The 70-minute journey to Shannon – where passengers clear US customs and immigration – was hectic. The trio hurried to serve and then clear away drinks and appetisers before landing. However, the one-hour stopover in Ireland was worth its weight in gold given the time it saved avoiding JFK’s long queues. The touchscreen inflight entertainment system was user-friendly and the food and drink plentiful and good quality. There were some teething problems with the mobile communication technology which allows passengers to email and text. BA insisted these minor hitches would be ironed out in time. We landed more than an hour behind schedule, but the walk from the aircraft to the taxis outside the terminal took under eight minutes.

88.1%. Ryanair’s carryings grew 17% to 6.1 million with a one point rise in load factor to 85%. BA’s increase in economy-class traffic was largely the result of price-cutting, and its “revenue passenger kilometre”, a measure of sales volume, fell 0.8%. The biggest drop in passengers numbers (17.7%) was on Asia-Pacific routes. European passenger numbers dipped by 2.9% to 1.8 million. However, American routes were up by 3.4% and Africa and Middle East traffic climbed by 3.9%. The carrier’s overall load factor, which measures the proportion of seats sold, rose 2.4 points to 81.3%.

■ BA’s seat fee ‘could bite it on the bum’, p14


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p14 news Oct9

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news visit usa

ttglive.com

The Visit USA Association held its latest general meeting in London, where the economy, the Co-op’s current trading and BA’s new seats fee were discussed. Robin Searle reports

Co-op says ‘indie agents selling up’ THE HEAD of the Co-operative Travel’s retail division is receiving “five or six letters a week” from independent agents hoping to sell their businesses. But many have left it too late to take action and would struggle in the tough sales climate of the rest of the year, he added. Retail distribution director Trevor Davis (pictured) said the Co-op had outperformed the market this summer, with customer numbers down 9% against an average of 11%. He said one of the Co-op’s biggest concerns was a rise in unemployment, acknowledging that staff and shop cuts made by his own company contributed to the problem. But he said pressures on high street shops meant that cuts had been unavoidable. “We are losing an awful lot of experience, but

if your business is 20% down, you can’t carry the same cost base as you can when you’re 10% up,” he said. Davis said he hoped the fall in sales had levelled off, and a slow recovery would now begin. But he predicted a challenging end to the year and flat peak sales period. He also listed a series of factors, including VAT rises, Air Passenger Duty increases, the general election and the World Cup, that would present more challenges to the travel industry in 2010. “There is evidence that some confidence is coming back and we are seeing some evidence of people saying ‘we’ve gone without this year, we won’t next year’,” he said. “But there’s no doubt October to December is going to be a tough time for independent agents.”

BRITISH AIRWAYS.

Seat fees may ‘bite BA’s bum’ BRITISH Airways has admitted its decision to charge passengers for securing preferred seats in advance of a flight could “bite it on the bum”. But Simon Brooks, the airline’s head of consumer sales, talking at the Visit USA event, said BA would “die as a business” if it failed to act. Brooks said the flag-carrier had clawed back losses from £3 million a day to £1 million, but said it could not continue to operate with record load factors but low yields. “We have had to make strong and occasionally unpalatable decisions,” he said. “Some we’ll get right but, to be candid, some we’ll get wrong and we may get bitten on the bum. “The seating policy may not be the right thing to do but we need to do something.” Brooks said BA was focusing on managing its destination mix and frequencies to reduce

14

09.10.2009

its reliance and exposure on key routes, and hoped to receive clearance in the “next month or so” for anti-trust immunity that would enable it to pursue a joint business agreement with American Airlines and Iberia. Brooks pointed to the launch of a daily Las Vegas service in October and the new all-businessclass service to New York as evidence of BA’s commitment to growth and the US market in particular. He said senior managers were doing their bit towards BA’s recovery. “None of us are getting pay rises,” he said. “In fact, I’ve had a pay cut, if the truth be known.”

ECONOMY.

Expert predicts slow recovery TRAVEL companies can expect to see signs of economic recovery over the coming year, but tax rises in 2010 could put the brakes on consumer spending. John Walker, chairman of Oxford Economics, predicted a slow recovery in 2010, which would start to gather pace in 2011. But he told the Visit USA meeting that the depth of recession meant travel companies should not expect a quick return to previous performance levels, and warned likely cuts in public spending and hikes in taxes next year could discourage spending on travel. Walker said there was a “reasonable backdrop to start being more positive” but warned that optimism needed to be grounded in reality. “The overhang of this recession is going to last a long time,” said Walker. “You will see strong recoveries in some sectors but if something goes down 50% and then recovers 50%, you’re still 25% down on where you started.” Walker predicted factors such as an aggressive monetary policy response and lower levels of fixed rate borrowing meant recovery in the UK would outpace the eurozone, but was likely to be slower than in the US.

FORECASTS.

US: good value versus visa fees FAVOURABLE exchange rates and pricing could make the US a more attractive option than the eurozone next year, according to experts. On Holiday Group chief executive Steve Endacott said the combination of favourable fuel hedging prices and little movement in exchange rates would result in cheaper holidays to the US compared with the eurozone. But he said that the challenge was persuading customers to spend the disposable income produced by lower interest rates. “If you’ve got a job and you’ve got money, there’s no logical reason why you wouldn’t go on holiday next year,” he said. Trevor Davis, the Co-operative Travel’s retail distribution director, agreed US holidays would be good value next year, but warned that proposed charges for the Esta visa waiver programme could severely dent UK-US travel.


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p16 City Oct9

7/10/09

21:22

Page 16

City & finance Keep up to date with the travel industry’s financial news and results at ttglive.com

Interview Craig Cherry, Monarch Airlines

Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply’s Awards that were handed out on September 9.

Cherry picks up procurement pace With its prices and margins being pushed downwards, Monarch is focusing on procurement and reducing its suppliers to help survive the recession and avoid cutting jobs. By Lee Hayhurst

P

rocurement has never traditionally been among the more high-profile areas of business, but the recession has thrust it up the pecking order at one airline. Monarch Airlines is undergoing a thorough review of its supply chain, led by head of procurement Craig Cherry (pictured). Covering £300 million of costs a year, the job has been deemed so important Cherry is now reporting direct to Monarch managing director Tim Jeans. He has been tasked with working through all the relationships the airline has with its 1,200 suppliers such as ground-handlers and catering firms. The result is likely to be a rationalisation of the suppliers the airline uses, possibly cutting the number by up to a third.

Cutting suppliers “We have already identified 300 suppliers we won’t be working with in the future,” Cherry said. “One of the strengths of our business is that we have always done a lot of ad hoc flying. But what we want to do is be more strategic. “There are not a lot of places we have not been to, so we can start having a supplier in any place we want who is already part of the nominated supply business rather than having to shop around at the last minute.” Cherry said for firms, particularly airlines, facing enormous market pressures to cut prices and work off tighter margins, suppliers must be

16

09.10.2009

expected to do their bit to help. A well-run procurement programme could make the difference between having to lay off staff to deal with the downturn or not. “The rules of the game have changed; everything that was previously set in stone has now gone,” Cherry added. “Our prices and our margins are getting pushed down and all we are doing is reacting to that.” Cherry was one of the judges on the

Deserving recognition He was disappointed travel firms did not feature among the 200 award entries and said travel should prize its procurement teams more highly. “Not one entry came from anything that even vaguely resembled the travel industry, and that’s disappointing,” he said. “If you take the big two, for instance, I’m sure they have big procurement teams, and airlines take this area seriously. “World-class buying is a profession, a skill; it’s a trade. But to have that recognised has always been difficult. “If you take the judging panel for the awards I was the only judge who was not a board director for his organisation. “What businesses have done is, lazily, made the procurement function report to the finance director. It’s not been given the profile it deserves. “When we find ourselves in the situation we find ourselves in at the moment, all of a sudden the profile becomes very different.” Cherry said colleagues at Monarch who are having their division’s spending reviewed are supportive of the work he is doing. “I have never once had to use Tim [Jeans] or pull rank in any shape or form. Everyone is behind it because people’s livelihoods are at stake.”


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news city & finance Comment Graham Pickett

company failures in the wake of XL Leisure Group’s collapse. With unemployment reaching 2.47 million in the UK, and further rises expected, consumers are also reluctant to commit to large expenditure before they need to. This puts increased pressure on the traditional business model of holiday companies, making it harder than ever to predict departure patterns. Airlines and tour operators that have already cut their headcount are less able to respond to changes in demand at short notice. According to Iata, airline load factors actually rose 0.4% in July 2009 compared with the previous year. However, with passenger numbers down by 2.9%, this points to a reduction not just in demand but in supply.

No green shoots for travel

Slow recovery and oil pose new threat Airlines that have suffered during the downturn could face a threat to their balance sheets during economic recovery, says Graham Pickett

O

il prices that fell significantly during the recession have begun to climb once more. The airline industry was able to mitigate the effects of the previous oil price peak by hedging – that is, buying forward months ahead at lower prices. This time, with cash reserves low and balance sheets in a weaker position for some airlines, it will be more difficult. This will be even harder from a timing point of view with the quieter winter season upon us. After months of economic uncertainty, airlines and tour operators have seen significant changes in the nature of demand for their products, such as the rise in late bookings. Airlines and tour operators need to respond

18

09.10.2009

quickly to these changing conditions. This is a major challenge for an industry that has to bear the huge fixed capital costs of operating aircraft, ships or hotels.

UK confidence impacted Within leisure travel, job market uncertainties and the falling value of sterling have dented consumer confidence. Holidaymakers who had become accustomed to a strong pound have seen their spending power slashed in their favourite destinations. As it appears likely the UK economy is in for a slow recovery, this could be a problem that will continue for some time. Late bookings is another key trend affecting the leisure sector, caused partly by fears over

The collapse of several airlines in the past year, coupled with cuts by the remaining carriers and tour operators, have reduced overall capacity in the market. The logic of current market conditions would suggest that consolidation is one way for airlines to gain a competitive advantage of scale. While merger and acquisition activity remains slow, some developments are taking place. The airline and travel industries are in the midst of deeply uncertain times. Flexible responses in the face of unpredictable booking patterns, cost reductions and innovative revenue streams are all needed. Operators need to focus on those areas where consumers are spending money, such as economy business travel, all-inclusive holiday destinations, non-eurozone/domestic holidays or cheaper, greener transport. Airlines may need to shift away from previous “cash cows” such as premium business travel, if they are to return to profitable results. Whether this can be achieved quickly enough to avoid any further large scale failures is a key question. Whilst some commentators are seeing green shoots appear in the UK economy, for aviation and travel the recovery appears to remain some way off.

Graham Pickett is aviation partner at Deloitte UK


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p20 Cruise Oct9

6/10/09

15:11

Page 2

Cruise

Lee Hayhurst 020 7921 8001 lhayhurst@ttglive.com

For the latest cruise news, visit ttglive.com/cruise

Fred Olsen starts Philippines fund FRED OLSEN Cruise Lines has started a fund for for the victims of the flooding in the Philippines. Most of the line’s crew are from the country and have family and friends there. The cruise line has sent a sizeable donation to distribute to families in urgent need of help. Fred Olsen also said customers had asked how they can help and, in response, the cruise line established the fund to help flood victims. Posters are being displayed on ships to tell passengers they can donate through their cabin accounts. Donations will be distributed through Fred Olsen’s crew agency based in the Manila area. Managing director Mike Rodwell said: “This is a very worrying time for many of our crew, and we have set up this fund to offer them much needed support at this difficult time. “The company has pledged to match customer contributions to the fund to a significant level.”

■ To contribute to the fund, post a cheque, made out to “Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines”, to Deborah Moore, Fred Olsen House, White House Road, Ipswich IP1 5LL

In brief ■ Leading Cruise Agents plans regional events The Leading Cruise Agents of the UK has decided to hold regional meeting after requests from members. The first will take place on November 4 in Birmingham. LCA members should email Matt Bates at lca.info@btinternet.com.

■ Dubai unveils new cruise terminal Dubai unveiled plans for its new cruise terminal at Seatrade Europe in September. The facility is due to open in January 2010, when the emirate is expected to host 99 ships and 383,000 customers.

■ Hurtigruten welcomes morning Bergen flight Cruise operator Hurtigruten has welcomed the addition of a morning Gatwick-Bergen flight by carrier Norwegian. The line said the flight provided a more convenient service for its UK passengers. ttglive.com

20

For the very latest cruise news, visit ttglive.com/cruise

09.10.2009

Royal Caribbean to review tips policy Lee Hayhurst.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL has strongly hinted that it could change its policy on cruise ship staff gratuities for the UK market. TTG understands there have been concerns this summer about the number of customers, almost a third on some sailings, opting not to pay tips on ex-UK cruises. This led to the line requesting agents to not encourage their customers to deselect automated payments when booking. Royal Caribbean is set to significantly increase its UK deployment next year when Independence of the Seas starts sailing year-round from Southampton. Brits’ reluctance to pay tips puts strain on the economic model of cruising, which is based on crew pay being supplemented by gratuities. Adam Goldstein, president and chief executive of Royal Caribbean, would not go into details as to the level at which Britons were not paying tips. But he said: “It’s an important issue. It’s not one that’s unique to Royal Caribbean International; it’s inherent in this marketplace. “The issue for us is strategic because this is an important strategic market for us. “Gratuities are a significant issue for the UK market and we have to think about it.”

ABTA MEMBERSHIP.

Sign-up shows ‘focus on UK’ ROYAL CARIBBEAN Cruises has claimed joining Abta underlines its commitment to the UK trade. The membership officially started on October 1 and means the line’s bonding shifts from the Passenger Shipping Association to Abta. Royal Caribbean Cruises said it remained a full member of the PSA and would continue to play an active part in its work promoting the cruise industry to both the trade and consumers.

Royal Caribbean’s Jo Rzymowska shows off a TTG award At the recent Advantage conference in Heathrow, the line’s UK managing director, Robin Shaw, told delegates the issue was one that was hotly debated internally. “Tipping cultures differ massively,” he said. “Royal Caribbean was effectively built out of the US where the culture is very different. But as become far more international we have to think about how we develop tipping policies. There may be things in the future we adapt.” Shaw celebrated a double win at the TTG Travel Awards when Royal Caribbean and sister line Celebrity Cruises won the two cruise categories.

■ TTG Travel Awards coverage, starts p38

The line said the decision to join Abta would not affect the PSA. Robin Shaw, Royal Caribbean Cruises’ vicepresident and managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: “There is a real feeling that businesses in travel and tourism should speak with one voice through one body – and Abta is taking on the challenge to be the main lobbying body. “We look forward to making a positive contribution on behalf of the cruise sector.” Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, added: “Royal Caribbean Cruises are a great addition to the Abta family.” Cruise-only sales offered by the operator’s three brands will be covered under the Abta membership. Fly-cruise packages will continue to be protected under Royal Caribbean’s Atol.


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p22 cruise Oct9

6/10/09

17:47

Page 22

news cruise

Line relocates to Hammersmith NCL has moved its London office and all 100 staff to premises in Hammersmith. The line was previously based off the swanky Kensington High Street, close to X Factor’s Simon Cowell’s London headquarters. But the lease on that building expired and the operator has moved to larger west London offices, most recently occupied by failed music retailer Zavvi. UK general manager Stephen Park said the new offices were spacious, and that the venue had been fitted out to a high standard by Zavvi. The move took place over the weekend before last and Park said despite the logistics of moving such a large office it went ahead without any “dramas”. “The biggest drama was I had to go in at the weekend and help move everything, and buy everyone pizza,” he added. NCL will now focus on developing technology to automate more of the work it does with the trade, such as the booking process and live API feeds.

ttglive.com

NCL to step up training ahead of Epic launch Lee Hayhurst.

NCL is poised to take its trade training programme to the next level as it gears up for the launch of its biggest ship. The operator will bring Epic – equivalent in size to the current largest cruise ship afloat – to the UK next year ahead of its first Caribbean cruises to showcase it to the British market. And UK general manager Stephen Park has promised exciting developments on NCLU, the line’s revamped training programme which has a treasure hunt feature (pictured).

“We are already planning how our training programme is going to work next year,” he said. “We want to make sure we keep improving, and Epic will be at the forefront of that.” Although still relatively new, NCLU, a UK version of the US programme scooped this year’s TTG Travel Award, and was collected by marketing boss Claire Riches (inset). The accolade marked a second successive win in the category for the cruise industry after Ace, the PSA’s trade training arm, won it in 2008. NCL’s award complemented other victories for the cruise industry outside of the cruise-specific categories including Carnival Cruise Lines defending its trade sales team title and Complete Cruise Solution for best trade site. Park said this was no coincidence due to the fact that cruise lines rely on the trade for sales.

■ Read why the judges rated NCL so highly: Awards, p44

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Air

Chris Gray 020 7921 8003 cgray@ttglive.com

For the latest news about flights, airlines and airports, visit ttglive.com/air

Mexico calls for Cancun boost MEXICANA Airlines could decide to redeploy one of its aircraft currently flying from Gatwick to Mexico City to serve the beach destination of Cancun. Jesus Almaguer Salazar (pictured), directorgeneral of Cancun CVB, said talks with the airline were under way, with a decision expected by mid-October. The airline started flying from Gatwick to Mexico City in January, increasing its service to four times a week in February. It currently takes passengers a further two hours to connect to Cancun. Salazar was in London this week to launch Cancun’s new taxi campaign, comprising 20 branded taxis in London and 10 in Manchester. Meanwhile, the tourist board’s Cancun Tourism Institute Programme, launched in the US in 2005, is to come to the UK next year.

■ Latin America feature, p59

Virgin Atlantic in Amadeus deal VIRGIN ATLANTIC has agreed a full content worldwide deal to distribute its flights through the Amadeus booking platform. Jon Harding, the airline’s general manager for distribution, said the deal underlined Virgin Atlantic’s commitment to travel agencies. The Virgin Atlantic fares, schedules and inventory available through the Amadeus system will be the same, and offered under the same conditions, as any offered through any indirect or direct channel, distribution provider or website.

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Manchester puts fizz into terminal Philippa Jacks.

THE WINNER of this year’s TTG Travel Award for Best Airport is aiming to put the “romance” back into air travel. Manchester airport’s new £50 million Terminal 1 was showcased last week, along with a new Emirates lounge opening later this month. It was built after research into passengers’ psychology as they travel through the airport. “Airports have become a pain for passengers, rather than the beginning of their journey,” said Andrew Cornish (pictured), managing director of Manchester airport. “We want to bring a bit of romance and fun back into it.” The security area has seen an investment of

Manchester airport in numbers 61,000 – average number of passengers per day 40,000 – bottles of champagne sold in duty-free per year 1.8 million – books sold per year 19,000 – number of people employed on site 28 million – number of passengers handled by all four airports in the Manchester Airports Group (Manchester, East Midlands, Humberside and Bournemouth)

£14 million, with the number of lanes increased to 14, and new Rapiscan scanner technology that can detect potentially explosive liquids. Passengers now pass through security at a much earlier stage, and there are few land-side retail outlets. After security, they move through a blank “Transference” tunnel, then into the “Reassurance” zone where they can buy holiday essentials. Next they move through the “Desire” zone of duty-free shopping and “Explore” zone of high street retailers. Finally, there are restaurants and a spa in the “Relax” zone. The new retail and catering space has a total of 52 retail units, a third of which are new, including Kurt Geiger, Fat Face and Mango. The duty-free shopping area is the first of a new concept called Biza, which features a champagne “tower” surrounded by glass bubbles (pictured). The Emirates lounge for the airline’s first-class, business-class and gold card-holding passengers officially opens on October 22. Two years ago, Manchester was ranked 12th out of 13 medium-sized European airports benchmarked in an Airport Service Quality survey. But the four-year redevelopment had helped it leap to seventh place by the first quarter of this year.

■ TTG Travel Awards 2009 results in full, p38


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advertisement feature

About U Travel’s Lynda Wooden (left) and Emma Russell with NTT’s Sharon Bernstein (right)

Sara Dolan (left), British Airways; Robin Findley, Ruby Mear; and Alexandra Bufton, IHG

Experience Oman Day 2009 The Oman Tourist Office held its annual “Experience Oman” day at the Royal Geographical Society for operators, travel agents and MICE planners last week. Lucky participants won holidays to the Sultanate and were treated to authentic Omani cuisine alongside training workshops and networking opportunities with hoteliers, airlines and local DMCs Ocean Map’s Mounir Haddad (left) and Prakash Adhikari (right) and Jane Hudson, Bahwan Tours

Gill Bateman, Travel with Us, and Alex Staartjes, Six Senses Resort & Spa

Emirates Tours’ Claire Sparks, Sawsan Ibrahim-Olejnik and Reema Thomas, with Mags Shaw (right), Zahara Tours

From left: Kate Fenton, Oman Tourist Office; Joanna Pristernik, Sovereign Luxury Holidays; and Graeme Watson, Explorer Travel

From left: Dipti Bhatt, Gulf Air; Jennie Gane, Explorer Travel; and Jane Hudson, Bahwan Tours. Jennie won three a three-night stay at The Chedi, with flights to Muscat with Gulf Air, complimentary airport transfers and a half-day city tour courtesy of The Chedi, Gulf Air and Bahwan Tours

Sarahlee Ettienne (left), Thomas Cook Retail, and Sangita Makwana, Oman Tourist Office. Sarahlee won tickets to watch a Harlequins rugby match courtesy of Etihad Airways


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Hotels & resorts

Rupert Murray 020 7921 8010 rmurray@ttglive.com

For the latest accommodation news, visit ttglive.com/hotels

Harlequin aims to be Caribbean star The luxury side of Benidorm A NEW luxurious side of Benidorm awaits delegates at next year’s ITT conference. The five-star Barcelo Asia Gardens Hotel & Thai Spa (pictured), situated in the foothills of the Sierra Cortina Mountains outside Benidorm, will host the annual event. The conference, which attracts around 400 of the industry’s top bosses, takes place on June 7-9. Maria Gudielarketing, the hotel’s marketing director, said: “This is the ideal way of introducing our hotel to the British market and demonstrating the new level of luxury accommodation and conference facilities we have on the Costa Blanca.” The luxury eastern-style property, completed in February 2009, is set in an acre of pine forest which is a 30-minute transfer from Alicante’s international airport.

Tui brands feature Jaz in north Egypt JAZ HOTELS, Resorts & Cruises has opened up an Egyptian Mediterranean beach destination to the UK market in tandem with Thomson and First Choice. Almaza Bay Resort, near Mersa Matruh on Egypt’s north coast, is the location of three five-star Jaz resorts. Almaza Beach Resort (pictured) will feature in Thomson’s Beach Club Collection, Jaz Oriental Resort in Thomson’s Platinum Collection, while Jaz Crystal Resort features in First Choice’s all-inclusive programme for 2010.

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Rupert Murray.

AN IMPROVED standard of luxury in the Caribbean will be set by a new hotel group due to launch in July, the entrepreneur behind the venture has claimed. David Ames (pictured), chairman of Harlequin Hotels & Resorts, criticised the Caribbean for being full of threestar hotels wearing five-star badges. With his first hotel, Buccament Bay Beach Resort in St Vincent (pictured top) just months from completion, he is confident the islands are set to see a “revolutionary” new standard. “If you took a five-star Caribbean hotel and stuck it in Dubai it would be a three-star,” he said. Buccament Bay Beach Resort will have 12 restaurants offering food from across the globe, a Pat Cash Tennis Academy, a Liverpool FC

Soccer School and a performing arts academy. Ames claimed: “Operators are queuing up to sell us because they can see the potential. “Companies such as Expedia in the US, ITC Classics and Virgin Holidays are interested, and the UK trade will have real success with our hotels.” Ames said he did not believe in selling direct and would work solely with the trade. “We will stick to what we know and leave the selling to agents and operators,” he said. Oasis Hotels & Resorts will manage all Harlequin hotels, and seven more resorts are planned in the Caribbean and Brazil. Buccament Bay Beach Resort introductory offers include up to four free children for couples in the first two months.

Regal set for move into Scotland AN Asian hotel group aims to make a move into the Scottish leisure and hospitality market next year. Bosses from Chinese firm Regal Hotels International were due to meet Scottish politicians and councillors in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen last week to discuss a major investment in the Scottish economy. Contracts to manage new-build hotels and older properties are part of a wider global expansion by Regal, which is said to be targeting the North American, eastern Europe, Australasian and the Middle Eastern outbound markets.

The investment could create and safeguard hundreds of jobs in the Scottish hotel sector. Richard Hodges, Regal’s business development vice-president, said any deal would benefit the local economy. “Starting out in a city like London, you become one of a huge number of hotels. We have been looking at Scotland for a year. We can bring value to the market and have the space to make the brand a success,” he said. The luxury hotel chain has five properties in Hong Kong and six in mainland China.


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Operators

Rupert Murray 020 7921 8010 rmurray@ttglive.com

For the latest operator and supplier news, visit ttglive.com/operators

LAUNCHPAD.

Cape Verde Experience Cape Verde Islands 2009-10 The Cape Verde Experience brochure features six of the 10 islands with 17 hotels and a variety of board options. Twin and multi-centre trips are available plus a choice of seven and 14-night island-hopping itineraries, and a selection of day excursions and activities. ■ capeverdeexperience.co.uk; 0845 330 2046

Libra Holidays Cyprus & Greece 2009-Oct 2010 Libra’s first-edition brochure features a selection of year-round holidays to Cyprus departing from November 1, plus six Greek islands, available from May 1, 2010. Following an influx of requests, Libra has reintroduced Santorini for summer 2010. ■ libraholidays.co.uk; 020 7873 5006

Cottages4you 2010 Collection Cottages4you launched its brochure to agents this week, offering breaks in more than 500 cities, towns and villages in England, Scotland and Wales. Agents will have access to nearly 16,000 properties accommodating two to 30 people, with breaks starting at £200 per cottage for a seven-night break. ■ cottages4you.travel; 0845 268 1870

Red Sea Holidays Egypt Nov 2009-Oct 2010 This hugely-expanded secondedition brochure covers winter 2009-10 and summer 2010. Featured in the 112-page brochure are two new destinations, Luxor and Cairo, together with an additional 17 hotels, bringing the total to 32. The operator offers 14% commission. ■ redseaholidays.co.uk; 0845 313 9949

Cox & Kings European Journeys 2010 Cox & Kings’ expanded Europe brochure features escorted group tours and private journeys as well as tailor-made travel ideas and short breaks. New for 2010 is a collection of private journeys in Germany, Austria and Spain using the countries’ rail networks. ■ coxandkings.co.uk; 020 7873 5006

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Cleary: Recession has united trade Rupert Murray.

THE RECESSION has helped to bring independent agents and smaller operators closer together, according to an operator who scooped three TTG Travel Awards. Caribtours managing director Paul Cleary (pictured) said being able to rely on an operator has become of paramount importance to the agent community. “I broke my BlackBerry last week and getting through to Vodaphone was agony; with many big companies, this is the way it is,” he said. “What I think agents appreciate is the basics. We pick up the phone when it rings, we call them back when we say we are going to and if anything goes wrong we fix it quickly. “We have had to work twice as hard on providing a service this year just to stand still and it has been the same for agents – so they need to be able to rely on operators to help them quickly and easily.” Cleary revealed that Caribtours’ bookings were on a par with last year in sales terms but said achieving this had been tough. “Consumers are so canny now and incredibly demanding. They want value and service,” he said. “We genuinely believe the way we do things

is good for customers and our agent partners.” Cleary is upbeat about next year and believes business will pick up through Caribtours and sister brand the Private Travel Company. He said trends this past year have included more single travellers and more all-inclusive stays, and he hopes the trend for downgrading slightly will disappear. On winning the awards, Cleary said: “We had a day of patting ourselves on the back, then it was back to work to prove we were worthy.”

■ TTG Travel Awards: full coverage, starts p38

Allbury appoints Loris as GM ALLBURY Travel Group has appointed a general manager to take over from Eamonn Ferrin who announced in July he was to step down. Christos Loris will be responsible for all tour operating activities at the group, which owns Libra Holidays, Argo Holidays and Jetlife. He has worked for a number of travel companies including Best Leisure Group and Olympic Holidays. From 1993 to 2005 Loris owned Russian tour operator Zeus Travel, which was one of the first European-standard travel operators in the emerging Russian market. In 2005 he set up Mesogios Travel and Tours,

his own independent travel agency in Cyprus. “I am delighted to have been appointed,” said Loris. “We will continue to work hard to reposition our brand Libra Holidays within the UK travel market and reinstall the recognition and confidence it deserves.” The Allbury board expressed their thanks for the work that former My Travel managing director Ferrin did as Allbury Travel’s general manager over the past two years. Allbury was formed after Libra was split from its Cypriot parent, and claimed to have returned the company to profitability.


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news caribbean

ttglive.com

CTO urges agents to ‘sell creatively’ Philippa Jacks.

AGENTS should be more “adventurous” in selling the Caribbean, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation has urged. Carol Hay, marketing director for the UK and Europe, said she would like agents to push island-hopping, adding that the cost of travel between islands by air or ferry was good value and opened up many contrasting holiday experiences. Speaking at the CTO’s annual Caribbean Month training event at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London last week, she said: “2010 is the year to really get adventurous and look beyond the obvious. “Even if agents are selling ready-made packages, there are attractions and excursions they can sell to help clients explore more,” she added. Hay confirmed that the CTO’s popular TravelFax, an A5-sized manual first released in 2004, is being updated and will be reissued in March. The guide was vital for agents who do not

have access to the internet at work, she said. Hay also said the CTO was looking to extend its Caribbean Training Programme (CTP), which has four levels: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. “We need another level for those agents that might have done their Platinum training three or

four years ago but still have a passion for further Caribbean knowledge,” she said. The CTO, unlike in previous years, is not holding a second training event in Manchester, but Hay said suppliers remained committed to investing in agents despite economic pressures. “It’s agents that have daily interaction with our consumers and influence consumers choices,” she said. “The Caribbean can only remain the destination of choice if agents have the knowledge they need.”

■ See more photos from the CTO’s training evening at ttglive.com/caribbeanmonth

From left: Lorraine Grant, CTO; Keesha McKenzie, Thomas Cook; Karen Smith, Just Perfect Travel; Clarissa Petry, Hays Travel; Carol Hay, CTO

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www.vhols4agents.com Your head office may need to authorise your attendance if you win a place. One entry into the competition will be awarded for every Virgin Holidays Florida holiday booked between 01 Sep–16 Oct ’09, for any departure season. One bonus entry will be awarded when the Florida holiday booked includes a stay at an on-site hotel at Universal Orlando® Resort. Competition is open to UK travel agents aged 21yrs and over at the time of departure only. Winners must arrange own transport to and from London Gatwick. Prize cannot be exchanged for an alternative. Winners will be contacted directly by Virgin Holidays and announced on vhols4agents.com. By providing your details you are agreeing to receive the latest trade offers and newsletters by email from Virgin Holidays. Virgin Holidays will not pass your details on to anyone else because we know this is just plain annoying! Hard Rock Café ® Hard Rock Café International (USA), Inc. Universal elements and all related indicia TM & © 2009 Universal Studios. All rights reserved. © 2009 Wet ‘n Wild - Orlando. All Rights Reserved. © 2009 BMP. Universal elements and all related indicia TM & © 2009 Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

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caribbean news

ttglive.com

In brief ■ Virgin cruises a hit, says Puerto Rico board New Puerto Rico packages from Virgin Holidays Cruises have almost sold out, the tourist board has claimed. The programme of cruise-and-stay packages, with Virgin Atlantic flights, went on sale in early May, and was already 80% sold by mid-August. The first sailing is in November and prices lead in at £1,199.

■ Langham Hotels plans to build in Bahamas

Director fronts Bahamas comp GOLDEN GLOBE-nominated director Bharat Nalluri is fronting a new Bahamas Tourist Office competition to find film-making talent in the UK. The “14 Islands Challenge” will see 14 finalists fly to different islands to spend two weeks filming an island and its people. Nalluri, who directed Life on Mars, Spooks, Resident Evil and Alien vs. Predator, will be joined on the judging panel by Nik Powell, executive producer of Calendar Girls and Little Voice,

and the BTO’s deputy director general, Tommy Thompson. The tourist office hopes the films, which will all be shown at a red carpet event in March 2010, will showcase what the Bahamas has to offer in addition to well-known Nassau and Paradise Island.

■ Video: watch Bharat Nalluri talk about the launch at http://tinyurl.com/14islands

Langham Hotels International is to build a resort in the Bahamas, its first in the Caribbean. Langham Place Resort & Spa, Port St George, Bahamas, is slated to open by 2013. It is part of a major marina development on Long Island.

■ SuperClubs hails rebrand of resorts to Breezes SuperClubs’ decision to turn Grand Lido and Starfish resorts in Jamaica into Breezes resorts is helping to cement “the brand agents know best”, said European sales manager Annabelle Marshall. ttglive.com

For the very latest operators news, visit ttglive.com/operators

THE ALTERNATIVE The alternative to increasingly expensive bonds. We have better merchant acquirer rates and a new solution for cashflow headaches. PROFESSIONAL HELP TO SET UP AND RUN YOUR INDEPENDENT TRAVEL BUSINESS Contact Matt Skilton on 01483 545 783 or email him at matt.skilton@traveltrust.co.uk 09.10.2009

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Your letters Heathrow expansion can help economy and environment In response to “Heathrow’s constraints ‘lose UK £1bn a year’” (ttglive.com), it is not only the constraint on the economy: if Heathrow doesn’t improve it will also be a climate constraint. Having arrived into Heathrow on an early flight this morning, the aircraft was kept in a holding pattern for half an hour (by no means the fault of the airline). This added an additional 33% to the fuel used for this short-haul flight. I hope the green boffins will go away and work that one out for the emissions versus the third runway argument. David Jackson operations executive officer, Advantage Focus Partnership

Third runway not needed as my flights land on time No surprise that BAA is saying Heathrow needs another runway (“Heathrow’s constraints ‘lose UK £1bn a year’”, ttglive.com). Why should thousands of people lose their homes so that BAA can make even bigger profits? None of my past 10 arrivals into Heathrow has required a wait. Each has come straight in. Allen Miller owner, Small Families

travel trade gazette uk & ireland edition Issue 2884

EDITORIAL Lucy Huxley editor on maternity leave Lee Hayhurst 020 7921 8156 Robin Searle 020 7921 8001 joint acting editors

NEWS Lee Hayhurst news editor (cruise) 020 7921 8156 Chris Gray deputy news editor (aviation) 020 7921 8003 Martin Ferguson reporter (business travel, technology, car rental) 020 7921 8011 maferguson@ttgbusiness.com Rupert Murray reporter (agents; operators; hotels) 020 7921 8010

BA right to seek lower GDS fares LETTER OF THE WEEK

THIS had to happen (“British Airways calls for reduced global distribution system fares”, ttglive.com). In fact, it already started in Germany some time ago. I cannot understand the GDSs. Every other part of the supply chain has adapted to the new model except them. For example, legacy airlines have changed their prices to cost-plus, in order to compete with no-frills carriers. Travel management companies have changed their pricing to management fee and cost-plus. In the meantime, the GDSs seem to have done little, and now the pigeons have come home to roost. They do not seem to have worked out a new price/product model like everyone else. You

TTGLIVE.COM

Mike Platt.

executive director, MPA Associates

ART & DESIGN

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cannot simply keep on charging mega-prices belonging to a different era because you are afraid of potential profit dilution. They need a different angle but they seem to have sat on their hands. I do not blame BA in the least for getting tough. My only surprise is that BA has been so patient. At least it will (probably) not be so aggressively selfish as Lufthansa, but it will force change now that all their contracts are up for review. BA will not back away from this opportunity now, and nor should they. So good luck, BA, and wake up the GDSs to the new marketplace. You are needed, but not that much.

SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe, renew or check on non-delivery of your copy of TTG: ■ log on to www.subscription.co.uk/help and select “Travel Trade Gazette” ■ or call 01858 438893 ■ or email ttg@subscription.co.uk To register to receive TTG’s free, weekly digital edition: ■ sign up at www.ttglive.com/digitaledition/register

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letters

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Your reactions to Abta’s decision to strengthen its articles regarding members’ responsibility for customer monies Why should bed banks honour bookings without payment? Let the battle commence! This is going to be an interesting few weeks. Abta has banged on about how the bed banks should honour bookings of a failed agency. But why should they if they have not been paid and are unable to claim the money? It seems that the majority of Abta members have voted in favour but what will happen now? Are its members now going to whinge that they have to pay upfront as the supplier demands? Abta kept talking about its agency law, but this appears to have no substance, and it cannot appear to enforce it. So while it has all these rules, does it actually mean anything? Everyone keeps talking about financial protection in case of supplier failure, but what really needs addressing within Abta members is what happens, when an agency fails, to all the clients’ monies. Is Abta going to cough up the funds? Mark Littlejohns sales supervisor, Complete Travel Solutions

Abta’s recent vote to change bed bank rules does not go far enough. You will sleep well at night if you follow decent business practice, and do not use your clients’ money for anything other than what it was paid for. Decent business practice constitutes selling the accommodation and then paying the supplier same day. The agent has their commission on the same day, but if they “fail”, at least the suppliers are still paid and the clients get their accommodation. Elizabeth Phelps, partner, Benidorm Direct The vote in favour of bed bank rule change will probably mean the end of any form of credit agreements for agents, as bed banks will look to cover their potential liability. It will be tough on smaller agents, whose funds are deferred by their merchants to pre-pay their suppliers, especially in advance, for late bookings where agents have yet to receive the funds themselves.

Travel industry hard to break into without experience I recently graduated with a first, and yet I am unable to get into the industry because all the jobs require at least one year’s experience (“Barrhead offers £2k incentive to graduates”, ttglive.com). Incentives or not, agencies should recruit for graduates with huge levels of dedication and commitment, who are quick learners and team players, not just those who have been in the industry for some time. Where does that leave us? I am under-experienced for a job relating to my degree, yet overqualified for anything else! Luke Ellix

Thanks for the fam, Gold Medal, it was just the ticket! I was one of the lucky agents fortunate enough to have a place on Gold Medal’s recent Golden Ticket Trip to Dubai. I would like to thank everyone involved. We were treated like VIPs from the minute we arrived at check-in to when we set foot back on home ground. Gold Medal, Emirates and Atlantis the Palm pulled out all the stops and looked after us with efficiency and top-notch service throughout.

Karl Hen, director, Bargain Villas Karen Thornton Peter Goord Travel, Plymouth

Crystal’s training evening was a breath of fresh air Having been in the industry for much longer than a quarter of a century, I rarely attend sales training functions. However, I recently attended a “Take a Fresh Look at Crystal” campaign in Belfast and it restored my faith in the supplier section of our industry! So many of our partner suppliers offer us deals with one hand and take away with the other, by undercutting us via their direct-sell medium. A number of cruise companies this year have jumped on to this bandwagon, sadly to the

demise of the long-standing “book early – get best fare” strategy that the sector has worked hard at over the years to achieve. Instead of booking early the general public now actively seek out “cheap offers” on cruises. How refreshing it was to listen to a company committing to work exclusively with the travel trade and learn of initiatives aimed at supporting agents and growing a market that rewards both. Well done, Crystal Cruises – you really did make me take a fresh look. Doreen McKenzie proprietor, Knock Travel, Belfast

What do you think? The deadline for letters is 10am on Tuesday. We need your name, job title and company address. These will be withheld on request. Priority is given to letters sent exclusively to TTG. Please limit letters to 250 words maximum. We reserve the right to edit. Email: ttgletters@ttglive.com Fax: 020 7921 8033 Comment: Or have your say on stories on ttglive by clicking on “Comment on this Story”

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TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009

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A SALUTE TO TTG’S WORTHY WINNERS more than 70,000 This year saw a record number of registrations for the TTG Travel Awards and debated long and agent ratings. In a rigorous judging process, our panel of top industry experts the judges reveal hard over many excellent submissions in many closely fought categories. Here, lucky recipients the factors that swayed their decisions, and find out what winning means to the

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TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009 Sponsored by

■ TOP TRAVEL COMPANY – SUPPLIER

OVER 100,000 PASSENGERS ■ TRAVEL GIVES BACK ■ SHORT-HAUL OPERATOR

WINNERS TUI TRAVEL & FIRST CHOICE The judges said Robust financials, impressive marketing to create clear distinction between its two main brands and a commitment to a range of distribution channels all helped secure the Top Travel Company award for Tui Travel. Judges had initially felt it would be extremely tough for a mass-market, value-for-money company to take the title, but they were swayed by Tui’s substantial investment in staff training, impressive customer satisfaction questionnaire scores and passionate corporate social responsibility policy, which also secured it the Travel Gives Back award. Judges were particularly impressed with the positioning of First Choice as a distinct brand within the Tui stable, and its delivery of targeted and innovative product. The winners said Nick Longman, Tui director of distribution “Even though we’re one of the biggest travel companies it’s so important for us to win. Everyone works so hard and it’s fantastic to be rewarded with industry recognition. “With regard to Travel Gives Back, it’s fair to say First Choice were the leaders in terms of sustainable tourism but I think with the merger that ethos has pervaded throughout Tui.” Peter Gue, senior product manager, Tui Travel “I want to say a huge thank you to the UK and overseas teams for all their hard work. None of this would have happened without everyone coming together after the First Choice-Tui merger. “Our Holiday Villages are a big reason for our success, and our Splash Hotels brand is another good example to show how we have tried to be different and engage with Top: Tui’s Nick Longman. Above: TTG editor Lucy Huxley, Nick Longman, South African Tourism UK manager Lebohang Mokhesi and Austin Healey our customers.”

Sponsored by

WINNER BARRHEAD TRAVEL The judges said Barrhead Travel’s excellent financial performance, its market intelligence and investment in its own people through training, targets and incentives made it a thoroughly deserved winner in this category. The judges agreed its focus on long-haul and cruise through a multi-channel approach was a sensible and sustainable strategy. Barrhead was considered to be a traditional retailer that had successfully employed new and innovative techniques and processes, particularly since its management buyout last year. The winners said Julie Taylor, sales director “I think we won because we are always expanding and looking for different ideas and new niche markets. We’re forward-thinking – we don’t sit back, we look to the future. We have an excellent team and this award is credit to them.”

TOP TRAVEL COMPANY – RETAILER OVER £50 MILLION TURNOVER

Forward-thinking: Barrhead sales director Julie Taylor

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TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009 Sponsored by

■ TOP TRAVEL COMPANY

– SUPPLIER UNDER 100,000 PASSENGERS ■ SPECIALIST OPERATOR ■ LONG-HAUL OPERATOR WINNER CARIBTOURS The judges said A single pricing policy, great customer satisfaction scores and impressive staff retention were all deemed to be huge positives for Caribtours. The Caribbean specialist’s financial stability and improved sales performance, particularly in the current climate, impressed the judges. The operator’s clear knowledge and commitment of its specialist market secured it the specialist award, and its expansion into new destinations with its Private Travel Company brand also allowed it to hold off strong competition from a shortlist of big-hitters to scoop the Long-Haul category as well. The winners said Paul Cleary, managing director “We’ve got most of the team here tonight and we’re completely overwhelmed to win three awards. It’s so great to win the long-haul operator and travel company of the year categories because we’ve got such ambitions – we’re really punching above our weight. “I’ve said I’ll take the whole company to Barbados in the spring to say thank you for all their hard work.”

Clockwise from top: Caribtours managing director Paul Cleary; with TTG’s Pippa Jacks; and on stage with Lucy Huxley, Gotxt’s Dave Hooker and celebrity host Austin Healey, former England rugby player and Strictly Come Dancing star

Sponsored by

TOP TRAVEL COMPANY – RETAILER UNDER £50 MILLION TURNOVER WINNER BOOKABLE HOLIDAYS The judges said In a hotly contested category, online retailer Bookable Holidays retained its crown thanks to profitable growth, use of online marketing techniques and excellent customer service. Judges were impressed by Bookable’s use of Google analytics and social media as ways of distributing its products and services, and said its response times and attempts to keep customers with the same agent were commendable. The winners said Jason Dwyer, managing director “The night has become such a landmark for us and to be involved, let alone win for the second year running, is phenomenal. This will give everyone at Bookable the recognition they deserve in what has been an incredibly tough year. I would like to thank TTG for laying on yet another amazing night.”

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Phenomenal win: Bookable Holidays’ Jason Dwyer


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TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009

CONTRIBUTION Sponsored by TO THE INDUSTRY

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Lucy Huxley, Roger Allard, Barbados Tourism’s Petra Roach and Austin Healey

RETAIL TEAM OF THE YEAR WINNER JOURNEYS A LA CARTE

The judges said The judges were impressed by the evidence of financial success that formed the keystone of the Journeys a la Carte entry. The panel also noted a clear sense of team spirit and a well thought-out business strategy. High levels of customer service and innovative marketing also caught the judges’ eye, as did its strong trade relations with suppliers. The winners said Claire Hunt, sales consultant “I put our winning down to being a successful small team with a big team spirit. Margaret May, our boss, is on holiday in Kenya but we’ll celebrate with some champagne when she’s back.�

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Sponsored by

Team spirit: Claire Hunt, Journeys a la Carte


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WINNERS MIKE GREENACRE & ROGER ALLARD The judges said Celebrating his 21st year in the travel industry and 30 years’ service with The Co-operative movement, Mike Greenacre, managing director of The Co-operative Travel, is our first recipient. A board member of both Abta and the ITT, Greenacre has led a turnaround of The Co-operative Travel business following the merger of United Co-op Travel and Travelcare in 2007. He has also overseen an overhaul of the company’s high street estate, launched its tour

TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009 operation and in July announced an ethical strategy that underpins the entire business. Our second recipient is Roger Allard, chairman of All Leisure Group, whose brands include Voyages of Discovery and Discover Egypt, and founder of Owners Abroad (now First Choice). A former board member of both Abta and FTO-forerunner TOSG, Allard boasts a CV that spans 41 years in the industry. Last year he masterminded the repatriation of XL Leisure Group customers.

Fantastic honour: Mike Greenacre

The winners said Mike Greenacre “This is a fantastic honour for

me. I count myself very lucky to have had a great team behind me at The Co-operative Travel, who have worked so hard to make us an industry leader, enabling me to make our voice heard on issues key to the travel industry, such as climate change.” Roger Allard “I’m genuinely quite shocked by the award but it means an awful lot to me. When I started out in this business all those years ago it was a bit of a hobby as I just loved being involved in travel. “Then I found I could make some money out of it and I’ve never looked back. I will continue to work into the future but I would also like to give something back to this industry, which has given me so much, by providing advice and guidance to younger members of the sector wherever I can.”

YOUNG AGENT OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by

WINNER LAURA COOK The judges said Despite her inexperience, Laura appears to be the star sales person of her branch, rivalling more senior staff and able to turn her attention to virtually every area of the travel agency profession. Laura also came across as a real team player with bundles of ambition and enthusiasm for a job she clearly loves. Overall, the judges felt the quality of the applicants in this category showed travel was able to attract bright and committed young people into the industry.

Lucy Huxley, Training for Travel’s Beverly Platt, Penny Crampton and Austin Healey

AGENT OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by

The winner said “I feel like I’ve won an Oscar – this means the world to me! My manager nominated me after I won apprentice of the year for the Midlands Co-op but I never expected to get this far. I’m going to keep partying all night long – I don’t want to go to sleep at all!”

WINNER PENNY CRAMPTON, YES2TRAVEL The judges said In an outstanding shortlist, Penny Crampton was felt to have shown the most passion and commitment to her profession. She was marked highly for her determination as an independent agent who had expanded her high street presence while demonstrating great customer service, innovation and problem-solving skills. The winner said “Our policy is to treat customers as you’d want to be treated yourselves. We work a lot on recommendations and have huge repeat business. “I think maintaining that same policy in a challenging year has helped me win.”

Lucy Huxley, Laura Cook and Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s Jamie MacDonald

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TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009

SUPPLIER SALES TEAM OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by

WINNER CARNIVAL/HOLLAND AMERICA LINE The judges said The winning team was considered to have performed beyond expectations and demonstrated an enthusiasm and passion for its product and agent partners. The winners said Wendy Lahmich, head of sales and marketing “We punch above our weight continually. We’ve had a challenging year with two launches and increased competition but we know what the trade thinks of us and we will carry on.”

Carnival’s Erin Walsh (left) and Wendy Lahmich (centre)

TRAINING PROGRAMME OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by

WINNER NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE The judges said This category was particularly hard-fought but judges felt the NCL University programme, which launched last year, was “accessible, human and grown-up”.

Committed to the trade: NCL’s Claire Riches

The winners said Claire Riches, head of marketing “This award is fabulous. It shows we’re committed to the trade, we understand the issues affecting agents and we’re passionate about what we do.”

Thank you for showing us some love...

TTG Travel Awards 2009 Travel Company of the Year (Supplier under 100,000 passengers) Specialist Tour Operator of the Year Long Haul Tour Operator of the Year

CARIBTOURS

WELCOME TO OUR CARIBBEAN


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TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009 Sponsored by co uk

■ ACCOMMODATION-ONLY SUPPLIER ■ SEAT-ONLY OPERATOR ■ TRADE CAMPAIGN WINNER GOLD MEDAL The judges said The expansion and diversification of Gold Medal’s accommodation-only product was impressive, as was its clear strategy for future growth. The company also stood out for delivering seat-only growth in a tough market, good business performance and commitment to staff training. Trade relations were equally impressive, with a range of initiatives including a new call centre monitoring system and trade campaigns with airlines for specific regional airports. The Golden Ticket campaign was the outstanding entrant for the campaign award. The simplicity of the concept – to win a VIP fam trip to Dubai, plus five Minis for a year – sparked extensive local marketing of Atlantis and Dubai by agents themselves to qualify for the incentive, and there was clear evidence of the campaign’s success.

Gold Medal’s David Robinson (top) and Ruth Connor (above)

The winners said David Robinson, product and commercial director “We’ve been doing seat-only for 20 years and the success is down to a mixture of technology, the UK call centre, the great range of products and the reputation. This also goes for our accommodation-only arm, where agents can be sure of the product.”

We are delighted to be awarded TTG Car Hire Company of the year for 2009. ‘We try harder’, for you


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DOMESTIC OPERATOR OF THE YEAR

TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009 Sponsored by

WINNER HOSEASONS The judges said Recognising the potential growth in domestic business due to a shift in market conditions, Hoseasons demonstrated it had implemented a number of changes and improvements to its product and distribution capabilities that had delivered impressive returns. Judges were impressed by the operator’s trade relations, with improved technology, incentives and partnerships in the past year reflected in improved third-party sales. The winners said Pali Badwal, business development director “The whole business will be ecstatic as this has been a team effort. The local paper wrote about our nomination, so we’ll be straight on the phone telling them we won! “We’ve been investing in our sales team and expanding our product range, and this award is recognition of that.”

Ecstatic: Hoseasons’ Pali Badwal

HOLIDAY ADD-ONS COMPANY OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by

WINNER KEITH PROWSE ATTRACTION TICKETS The judges said In a hard-fought category, Keith Prowse Attraction Tickets held off rival entrants to retain this award for a second year by showing continued excellence and growth. Although a well-established firm, Keith Prowse showed an impressive willingness to respond to feedback from consumers and the trade by continually refreshing its offering and delivering appealing and well-received new product. The winners said Ruth Hobson, business development manager “Constantly supporting the trade has won us this award. We had to change our strategy in the last year. Booking trends changed, and there were far more last-minute bookings so we had to adapt quickly.”

Quick adapter: Keith Prowse’s Ruth Hobson

RAIL, ROAD & SEA OPERATOR OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by

WINNER INSIGHT VACATIONS/TRAFALGAR TOURS The judges said An all-encompassing trade relations strategy, ongoing product development and impressive year-on-year revenue increases helped secure this award for Insight Vacations and Trafalgar Tours. Although in its infancy, the twin brands’ One Stop Touring Shop sales and marketing platform demonstrated a genuine commitment to investment in the trade, which accounts for a vast majority of sales. Judges were also impressed by a continued drive to create product and brand awareness in a market that has not always been embraced or fully understood by the trade. The winners said Paul Melinis, sales director “We have a fantastic sales crew on the road. We’re with agents everyday and they enjoy our product and the variety on offer. That’s the main reason I believe we have won the award.”

Fantastic sales team: Insight/Trafalgar’s Paul Melinis

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TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009

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Sponsored by TRADE-FACING WEBSITE OF THE YEAR

WINNER COMPLETE CRUISE SOLUTION The judges said In a closely contested category, the judges felt Complete Cruise Solution’s redesigned website had the edge. They agreed CCS’s major investment to overhaul and relaunch its trade website as a fully functioning, bookable medium was a resounding success. They were particularly impressed by the visually appealing design, clear layout and “customer match” facility. The winners said Lucy Norton, communications manager “I’m so excited I could burst! I think we won because we’ve revamped it and redesigned it this year to make it a fun, vibrant, professional-looking one-stop shop for agents. But we’ll not stop there – this gives us the credibility to continue with the development.”

TOURIST BOARD OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by

WINNER DUBAI The judges said Dubai’s submission was packed with clear evidence of success and data to back up claims. Judges were impressed with a diverse marketing strategy that has been devised for the emirate and the work that has gone into clearly segmenting and identifying its target markets in the UK. The submission also demonstrated commitment to trade relations, with a series of initiatives aimed at agents in the past year. The winners said Ian Scott, director “It’s because we have listened to the trade. Two years ago I was told we were inflexible and I think that in this day and age that is unforgivable. We now work on what agents and operators need and it’s about partnership and flexibility.”

HOTEL CHAIN OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by

WINNER IBEROSTAR The judges said In a year when many suppliers have curbed development plans, Iberostar impressed the judges by forging ahead with brave expansion. First place was awarded in recognition of the launch of 12 properties and two destinations in the past year. The company outlined an ambitious strategy, including a growing commitment to the trade, evidenced by the opening of its first UK sales office and heavy investment in training and fam trips. The winners said Aishling McLoughlin, Iberostar “Our focus on the trade has made us stand out from the rest. The feedback from the UK market has been fantastic in the last year and we’ll work hard to make sure that continues.”

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Top from left: CCS’s Lucy Norton, Iberostar’s Aishling McLoughlin and Avis’s Lisa McAuley


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TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009 Sponsored by TRAVEL SERVICE PROVIDER OF THE YEAR

WINNER TRAVELPORT The judges said Travelport won this category because of the launch of innovative products and strong business performance. Judges were particularly impressed by the launch of Travelport’s “Rapid Reprice” product, unique to the market. They also felt Travelport had had a good year of consolidation and acquisition, benefiting from the integration of Galileo and Worldspan, and acquiring distributors. They winners said Jerome Moisan, UK and Ireland general manager “Our victory is a combination of tradition and innovation. Many agents started their first jobs using Galileo. Since we merged with Worldspan last year we have invested in new products, and there will be more news before Christmas.”

CAR HIRE COMPANY Sponsored by OF THE YEAR WINNER AVIS

Bottom from left: Dubai DTCM’s Ian Scott, Sandals’ Leah Marshall and Travelport’s Jerome Moisan

The judges said In a tightly contested category, the Avis UK team’s performance, supported by the evidence of positive financial returns, held off an outstanding challenge from Affordable Car Hire. Judges were impressed by Avis’s continued innovation and ability to strengthen its brand in a congested market. High-profile trade activity, agent relationships and marketing were clearly shown to have delivered returns. The winners said Lisa McAuley, head of leisure partnerships “It’s been a tough time for all car rental and we have been helped by having trade partners, agents and operators, who have delivered. “Customer service is the key. It’s not all down to the best price, even in these times, and service is down to the people you have working for you.”

RESORT OPERATOR OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by

WINNER SANDALS AND BEACHES RESORTS The judges said In what has arguably been the year of the all-inclusive resort, the panel was impressed by how Sandals and Beaches Resorts had harnessed this with a spectacularly successful, multi-channel marketing campaign. The group has a strong record of supporting the trade, but judges recognised a significant strengthening of this relationship in the past 12 months, with a new agent training scheme, revamped agent incentive and recognition scheme, and exceptional investment in agent fam trips. The winners said Leah Marshall, senior sales manager “We are delighted to be recognised once again by the industry. We realise that the most important relationship we have is with our travel agents, and supporting our partners will always be a key focus for Sandals.”

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TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009

AIRLINE OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by co uk

WINNER QATAR AIRWAYS The judges said Qatar Airways, with its new UK sales team, has brought a fresh approach to the trade. This has included making online offers available to agents, new partnerships with tour operators, roadshows, fam trips and the launch of an online training programme. The winners said Kieran Farragher, leisure sales manager “We knew we hadn’t done enough last year so we set about upping our game. We’ve worked very hard with the trade and we know we’re making strides but we can’t rest on our laurels. To win the award is testament to the effort of our team.”

Qatar’s Kieran Farragher and UK country manager Rachel Finn

AIRPORT OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by

WINNER MANCHESTER

co uk

The judges said Manchester narrowly beat Birmingham because of what judges felt was an “incredible” improvement in passenger experience this year, with investment in facilities, transport links and security arrangements bringing dramatic benefits to customers.

Thinking about the consumer: Manchester airport’s Andrew Cornish

Thank you for voting for us For trade support contact: Emma Curnow 0795 887 7927 angelemma@manairport.co.uk

manchesterairport.co.uk/agents

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They winners said Andrew Cornish, managing director “We did it by thinking about the consumers. We got people in who understand the consumer and that changed a lot of what we did. The airport experience affects customer’s feelings about the entire holiday so we have to get it right.”


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TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009

■ CRUISE LINE OVER 75,000 PASSENGERS ■ CRUISE LINE UNDER 75,000 PASSENGERS

Sponsored by

WINNERS ROYAL CARIBBEAN & CELEBRITY CRUISES The judges said Royal Caribbean was particularly credited for its commercial success, especially for achieving its targeted growth in market share in the UK over the past 12 months. Judges also highly rated the line’s on-the-road sales team and noted the operator’s successful restructure of its UK office. They also said the operator had showed its commitment to the UK market by deciding to base a ship year-round in Southampton. Celebrity’s dedication to the UK market, demonstrated by the deployment of one of its new class of ships to Southampton next year, and the launch of a forerunner in the UK this year, ensured this entry stood out. Judges were also keen to reward the decision to create a standalone trade team for the brand, noting the commitment this showed to helping agents promote and sell a line that traditionally has not enjoyed the highest profile in the Royal Caribbean stable.

Royal Caribbean’s Jo Rzymowska and TTA’s Gary Lewis, flanked by Lucy Huxley and Austin Healey

They said: Jo Rzymowska, RCCL UK general manager “The team are absolutely over the moon that two of our brands have clinched the two big cruise awards. We know we have great ships but we still don’t take this lightly. What set’s us apart is how we work with the trade. We listen to agents to find out exactly what they want.”

PARTY TO

OU R SUCCESS Travelport wins Best Travel Service Provider 2009 in the TTG Travel Awards. We would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all our customers for this fantastic achievement. This special award underlines our partnership promise and our commitment to working with you, delivering innovative technology solutions and outstanding service and support to help you become more successful. To discover how your business can benefit from our winning ways, email uk.newbusiness@travelport.com

www.travelport.com/uk


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TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009 BEST DRESSED COMPETITION

NABILA IS ELECTRIC TTG called on designer outlet centre Bicester Village to help us find and reward our Best Dressed guest. The prize was £1,000 of shopping vouchers to spend at Bicester as well as a style consultancy. TTG’s fashion crew selected 24 individuals from the red carpet for the shortlist. Then our readers had the final say, casting almost 900 votes on ttglive.com. Here we reveal the results and find out from Fiona Huntingford, fashion guru at Bicester, why our winner and runners-up stood out WINNER NABILA ELECTRICWALA QATAR AIRWAYS Outfit: White-beaded bodice and skirt from Warehouse. Nabila bought the skirt in a size 14 because there weren’t any left in her size. She then took it

with her on a trip to India where it was altered to a perfect fit. Nabila says: I thought the top was really beautiful when I saw it and I loved the sequin detailing on it – but I was totally shocked when I found out I had been voted Best Dressed! Now, I’m really looking forward to the style consultancy because I don’t have time to follow trends.

B DREESSST WINNEED R

But this will be a perfect opportunity to revamp my wardrobe, as well as get some tips from an expert about what will look good on me. Fiona says: Nabila’s choice of outfit is simple yet effective. The silhouette is very flattering and the colour complements her skin tone perfectly. Embellishment is huge for this autumn and winter so her look is right on trend. I also like the fact she’s gone for simple accessories to let her top and skirt do the talking. A well-deserved winner! Nabila has a great figure, so picking out items for her to try on during her style consultancy will be a lot of fun as we can experiment with different colours, shapes and styles. Trend-wise, she will suit the tailored look that is big right now. There is an amazing tweed fitted dress in Alexander McQueen that I’m sure will suit her figure perfectly. For a more “glungy” casual look (the term for glamorous grunge!), skinny jeans, a draped T-shirt and knit (probably from All Saints) and a pair of ankle boots would be ideal (we have some stunning purple suede ones in Jimmy Choo). For a dressy look, there’s a gorgeous peach strapless mini dress with jewelled pocket details in Matthew Williamson. The skirt is tulip-shaped which is perfect for Nabila’s figure, and the colour would be wonderful for her skin tone, too.

RUNNERS-UP

1. ANDREA ROBINSON, TRAINING FOR TRAVEL Outfit: Gold-spotted black strapless dress from Emma Somerset. Fiona says: This classic strapless fishtail evening gown is a timeless style that will always look elegant. A vintage-inspired clutch bag and simple jewellery perfect the look.

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2. AUDREA BURKE-SHAW, LASTMINUTE.COM Outfit: Floor-length red satin dress from Coast. Fiona says: The colour of this dress makes a real statement and looks fabulous on Audrea. The simple lines show off her figure and the matching wrap is the perfect accessory.

3. SIMONE CLARK, IGLU Outfit: Short satin purple dress from Whistles Fiona says: Simone’s dress is bang on trend shape and colour-wise (it’s a new take on the LBD, but the “B” stands for “berry” coloured instead of black). Her statement necklace is perfect for a dramatic evening look.

4. ERIN WALSH, CARNIVAL AND HOLLAND AMERICA LINE Outfit: Black and white-stripe Diane von Furstenberg dress. Fiona says: Erin’s printed dress looks great on her. Black and white can be an obvious choice but with the splash of colour down the front panel it is much more individual and edgy.


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TTG TRAVEL AWARDS 2009

LUCY HUXLEY’S STYLE COUNSEL TTG EDITOR Lucy Huxley is pictured trying on dresses by Alice Temperley, Matthew Williamson and Amanda Wakeley and shoes by Jimmy Choo during a day at Bicester Village ahead of the TTG

Travel Awards. Bicester Village sponsored Lucy’s three outfits on the night and provided its personal stylist Fiona to find her three stunning looks for the biggest night in the travel calendar.

FIONA’S ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR BLACK-TIE EVENTS 1. Underwear can make or ruin a dress. Invest in some shape-wear to smooth out lines and help dresses skim, not cling to your body. Take a strapless bra too when you go shopping. 2. If you usually wear fake tan to an event, apply some the night before you go dress shopping so you feel more confident and glamorous when trying things on. 3. Black is always popular but why not experiment with colour and try midnight blue and dark berry shades? They’re still flattering on the figure but make a welcome change. 4. Sequins and embellishment are both huge right now, but don’t go overboard. If your dress is covered in sequins, you’ll need only very simple jewellery. 5. Don’t be afraid of statement jewellery. A new necklace and earrings can completely transform an otherwise simple outfit. Style consultancy appointments are available at Bicester Village, Monday to Friday, 10am and 2pm. Visit bicestervillage.com or call 01869 366277

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A BIG THANK YOU TO ALL OUR SPONSORS

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Thanks to you

Thanks to you

Royal Caribbean has won

Celebrity Cruises has won

(over 75,000 annual UK passengers) at the TTG Travel Awards 2009

(under 75,000 annual UK passengers) at the TTG Travel Awards 2009

2009 has been a great year for us and 2010 looks set to be even better with Independence of the Seas sailing from Southampton all year-round.

This year we launched Celebrity Equinox and next April sees the arrival of Celebrity Eclipse, the first Celebrity Cruises ship to be based out of Southampton.

‘Cruise Line of the Year’

‘Cruise Line of the Year’

We really appreciate your support and hope you continue to enjoy working with us.

To keep up-to-date with our latest news and information visit www.cruisingpower.co.uk


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Mystery Shopper from Cambridge The mystery shopper visited two agencies in Cambridge on a Wednesday morning, then selected a sponsored link from a Google search for “Disneyland Paris holidays”, and chose a company advertising on Teletext This week’s challenge: The mystery shopper asked for a three-night trip to Disneyland Resort Paris for two adults and two children aged five and eight. They needed theme park entrance tickets and four-star b&b accommodation preferably in, or within easy reach of, the theme park. Travel in February 2010 half-term. CHALLENGE AT A GLANCE.

Who:

Budget: £1,750

Where: Disneyland Resort Paris

Seal the deal with these tips from Training for Travel Perfect timing: Tell clients to avoid queues at Disneyland Resort Paris by doing the rides in the morning and evening when crowds dissipate. Leave the shows for the afternoon.

Healthy options: Clients can avoid fast food at Disneyland Resort Paris without too much effort. Try Walt’s, Plaza Gardens, Blue Lagoon or the Agrabah Cafe.

Photo shoot: For wonderful photo opportunities of Paris at night, head to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, which is open until 10.30pm. Tickets are ¤9 per adult and free for children under 18.

Sight seeing: History buffs will love the 12th-century gothic cathedral, Notre Dame, while kids will enjoy it as the inspiration behind the animated film The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

TTG has teamed up with React Surveys to simulate a realistic booking process each week – that means a mystery shopper looking for the best deal from agents and operators on the high street, online, on TV or in newspapers. The Mystery Shopper research is carried out on behalf of TTG by React Surveys, and no further details or information can be disclosed. Researchers take into consideration first impression, sales process, product and budget match and extras offered before giving an unbiased opinion of which channel/company they would have booked with on that occasion. We do not claim that the winner is the best in an area or specialist sector, as we may report on competing travel firms in the future. Please note that the aim of Mystery Shopper is not to criticise individual agents or companies, but to promote good sales technique for the benefit of all in the travel trade.

For more training tips and courses, go to trainingfortravel.com or ttglive.com/knowledge

TRAINING FOR TRAVEL group ltd


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This week’s contenders: high street v internet v Teletext Premier Travel

Thomas Cook

Disneylandparis

Iglu

10, Rose Crescent

8, St Andrews Street

Disneylandparis.co.uk

via Teletext

I had to wait for assistance and then ask for it. Once I was served I did not feel I was given the consultant’s full attention. Having explained what I needed, the agent began searching but did not keep the conversation going to keep me engaged. I also overheard other consultants make negative customer-related comments which was unprofessional. However, the agent serving me did find a product within budget, which included free park entrance and free hotel meals. No extras were offered.

I was approached quickly and offered a seat. They asked me lots of questions and my requirements were checked every step of the way by the consultant to ensure they found something which matched my needs. The agent found a hotel offering free lunch and dinner and free park entrance tickets. I was also offered and quoted for insurance. I would recommend this company to friends and family as I was well looked after throughout and all of my needs were met.

The website was showy, bright and exciting. Navigation was straightforward. It requested a few details from me about standard of accommodation, dates, and transport to Paris. However when I came to book travel, an error message said trains were not available and the website wouldn’t let me move on without them. I was prompted to call but instead I tried without transport. The hotel offered free full-board and free park tickets. Insurance was offered as an extra and I was prompted to book online.

This was the only company on Teletext that showed a price. I contacted an agent who put me at ease with their friendliness. I was asked sufficient questions to establish what I was looking for. The consultant found a hotel within budget which they said was very good. I was told that free park tickets were included, as were all meals on a full-board basis. I was not offered extras such as insurance, however, the good price and impressive service would have encouraged me to book.

✘ First impressions ✘ Sales process ✔ Product match ✘ Incentive to book

✔ First impressions ✔ Sales process ✔ Product match ✔ Incentive to book

✔ First impressions ✘ Sales process ✘ Product match ✔ Incentive to book

✔ First impressions ✔ Sales process ✔ Product match ✔ Incentive to book

This week’s winner: Iglu

The agent at Iglu quickly found a great holiday at an excellent price

At Premier Travel I didn’t feel valued as a customer. It was a shame there were problems on disneylandparis.co.uk as all other elements went well. It was a close match between Thomas Cook and Iglu as both agents were friendly and found a product. However, the Iglu agent offered his own experience of that hotel and had the best price, and I received the quote in 20 minutes. I was offered three nights at the Hotel New York in Disneyland Resort Paris, departing St Pancras on February 15, 2010 for two adults and two children, including park tickets and hotel meals, for £1,453.

next week Mystery Shopper goes to the south-west

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knowledge

Latin America Olympic triumph: Rio de Janeiro was in party mode last week after winning its bid to host the Olympic Games in 2016. Visitor numbers are tipped to rise 15% that year. PRODUCT ROUND-UP. Hotels, operators and car rental companies in Guatemala have launched Lastminutetoguatemala.com, a website offering deals and discounts of to 25% across the country. ■ lastminutetoguatemala.com Hotel das Cataratas, an Orient-Express hotel beside Iguazu Falls, reopens this month after a two-year renovation. ■ hoteldascataratas.com Banyan Tree Mayakoba has added a Rainforest Hydrothermal Trail. Clients follow a trail through hot and cold cabins with reputed therapeutic experiences. ■ banyantreespa.com Breezes Panama opens its doors this month, on the country’s southern Pacific coast in Bijao. It has 274 rooms and suites, two tennis courts, three pools, and a kids’ club. ■ superclubs.org Hayes & Jarvis has released its first Latin America programme, featuring Brazil and Costa Rica. Clients can combine beach stays with tours of the countries’ interiors. ■ hayesandjarvis.com Sunvil’s new Latin America brochure features Mexico’s Copper Canyon for the first time, and newly-opened hotels such as the garden-wrapped spa hotel Casa Calma, in Buenos Aires. A Uruguay add-on for Argentina itineraries is also new. ■ sunvil.co.uk Emerald Monkey Eco-Luxe Resort, which opens in Panama next year, will be part of the Preferred Hotels collection. The new resort, in Bocas del Toro, is on a private island and will have solar-powered golf carts. ■ preferredhotels.com Embratur, the Brazilian tourist board, has relaunched Brasil Network, its trade website. The site has an expanded image library and downloadable videos about key destinations. ■ brasilnetwork.tur.br

CONTENTS.

Quirky hotels Tempt your clients with something new, p60; Recovery position Six months since the Swine Flu outbreak, how is Mexico coping? p64; Competition Win Moctezuma exhibition tickets, p66 Air news. Lan Airlines is holding a South American Workshop at the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry on October 14-15. Agents can meet suppliers from Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Argentina. Lan developments include the installation of new Avod systems throughout the fleet, and the streamlining of its cabin classes into two categories: premium business and economy. Lan now has a UK office for the first time: 020 8563 9677. ■ lan.com Air Europa’s winter schedule includes an extra weekly departure from Gatwick to Buenos Aires via Madrid, taking it from six weekly departures to a daily service. The Gatwick-Salvador de Bahia route (also via Madrid) has been reintroduced in response to demand, with three flights per week. ■ aireuropa.com Tam Airlines reports that its share price rose sharply when the 2016 Olympics host city was announced as Rio. The airline predicts that seat capacity from Europe to Brazil and other South American destinations will see a major boost in advance of the games. ■ tam.com.br

The Central America Tourism Agency is to work with the Rainforest Alliance to promote the region as a sustainable tourism destination. The two bodies will co-fund a presence at tourism shows including WTM.

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Hotels with a difference

This ain’t no plane holiday A converted Boeing 727 and a former US radar tower are just two of the quirky places clients can lay their heads in Latin America. Philippa Jacks reports A BOEING 727. IN COSTA RICA. Aeroplanes are not usually regarded as being particularly romantic (Mile High Club excepted), but the Costa Verde Hotel in Costa Rica has created a quirky two-bedroomed suite perfect for honeymoons in the fuselage of a former Boeing 727 (pictured). The aircraft, built in 1965, has been winched up onto a 50-foot high pedestal with a spiral staircase. Inside, the suite is teak-panelled, with handcarved furniture, two bathrooms, air-conditioning, and a kitchenette. The hotel, which overlooks Manuel Antonio National Park near Quepo, has another old aircraft onsite which it has turned into a restaurant. Sunvil Traveller is selling the new 727 Fuselage Suite from $137.50 per person per night based on two sharing, as part of a minimum seven-night Costa Rica itinerary. ■ costaverde.com

A TREE HOUSE IN THE. PERUVIAN RAINFOREST. The new Canopy Tree House at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica is not the first tree house in South America, but is certainly one of the most bothersome for anyone with vertigo. The thatch-roofed house sleeps just two people, and is accessed via a series of hanging bridges, almost 30 metres off the ground. It comes with its own Canopy Butler, contactable by walkie-talkie, and guests can enjoy an intimate dinner for two on the platform. Anyone not brave enough to sleep so far off the ground can climb back down to a ground-level room with beds and a shower-room if they prefer. Inkaterra

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Reserva Amazonica has 35 other cabanas and is on the banks of the Madre de Dios River at Tambopata. Stays in the tree house are from $300 per person per night based on two sharing, which includes sundowner, dinner, breakfast, and a private wildlife guide. Inkaterra pays agents commission. ■ inkaterra.com

A FORMER RADAR. TOWER IN PANAMA. Canopy Tower in Panama’s Soberania National Park was built by the US military to house a massive radar that defended the

Panama Canal. Now, it’s an eco-lodge with a real emphasis on birdwatching, with the chance to spot close to 600 different species. From the Observation Deck on the fourth floor, which is 50 feet above the ground, guests can see right out over the forest canopy, while the third floor, where dinner is served, has panoramic windows all around. Guest rooms take up the first and second floors. Rack rates are from $152.25 per person per night sharing a double room, and include meals and a bird tour. Canopy Tower pays agents 10% commission, and it is also featured by wildlife-specialist Naturetrek.


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A mud hut in Chile’s Atacama Desert ■ canopytower.com

A MUD HUT IN CHILE’S. ATACAMA DESERT. San Pedro de Atacama is Chile’s most important archaeological site. Awasi is a new boutique hotel inside the town walls, built using traditional techniques with adobe (mud and clay mixed with straw), wood and stone. There are eight round cottages, each with an indoor and outdoor shower. The hotel has a small pool, and serves homecooked food in its restaurant. Each cottage

A working farm in the Ecuadorian Andes has its own expert guide and 4x4 vehicle, so excursions can be tailor-made. Awasi is also Chile’s first carbon-neutral hotel. San Pedro de Atacama is an hour’s drive from Calama, or a short ride in a private jet. Awasi is represented by Senderos, which pays commission. ■ senderos.co.uk

A WORKING FARM IN. THE ECUADORIAN ANDES. Hacienda Zuleta is a 16th-century farm high in the Andes, 2,800 metres above sea level.

WIN

a

The farm has 300 cows, 2,000 sheep, 100 horses, an organic garden and a trout farm. Guests can use the farm horses, mountain bikes or a horse-drawn carriage to explore the local area. There are 15 rooms, simply decorated with hand-embroidered linens and antiques. Hacienda Zuleta is around a two-hour drive north of Quito. Sunvil Traveller has four nights from £598 per person including meals and transfers from Quito. ■ haciendazuleta.com ■ sunvil.co.uk

Sweetie bracelet

...and be the envy of the office!

For a chance to win this fantastic prize, just answer the following questions: Allegro Playacar is easily accessible from which international airport? How many tropical themed rooms are at the Allegro Playacar? What age range does the Allegro Playacar Kids Club cater for? Send your answers along with the title TTG/AP, your name, company/branch, telephone and email address:

The Occidental Allegro Playacar is a sun-kissed all-inclusive resort on Mexico’s beautiful Riviera Maya. Just five minutes from Playa Del Carmen and forty five minutes from Cancun International Airport this secluded resort has three swimming pools, facilities for tennis, volleyball, scuba diving, sailing and much more. The Allegro Playacar entices guests with 286 tropical themed rooms situated in Polynesian-style bungalows. With four restaurants including a Pizzeria, two bars and a disco, guests will be spoilt for choice. The Kids Club is a nine-to-five activity centre for children aged 4-12 including a children’s pool in the shape of the world’s most famous mouse. The resort also provides wireless internet access in the Lobby area.

‘‘

‘‘

The staff were wonderful, we’ll definately stay again, it was so relaxing. But next time we’ll bring the family, there’s plenty to entertain the kids.

For further details on our tremendous support for agents, Tel: 01245 459 913 Email: info@occidentalhotels.co.uk www.occidentalhotels.com

Email:

agents@occidentalhotels.co.uk

Postcard: TTG, Resort Marketing International, 17-19 Richmond Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 6UA Entries to be received by 9 November 2009.

For online training please visit: www.occidentalexpert.co.uk


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BEST OF THE REST

If fuselages or mud huts aren’t eclectic enough for your clients, then perhaps grab their attention with a salt hotel or bullring grandstand! A YURT IN PATAGONIA, CHILE Patagonia Camp (pictured top) offers 17 luxurious, en suite yurt-style tents on the shore of Lake Toro, near to the stunning mountain glaciers of Torres del Paine national park. Featured by South American Experience. ■ patagoniacamp.com

A SALT HOTEL IN BOLIVIA Luna Salada Hotel near Colchani is one of several hotels built entirely from salt in the Salar de Uyuni desert in southern Bolivia. It has 24 rooms, some of which overlook the salt desert. Featured by Journey Latin America. ■ lunasaladahotel.com

A FORMER BULLRING IN MEXICO Quinta Real Zacatecas (pictured bottom) is built in the grandstand of a bullfighting ring built in

the 19th century. It underwent an award-winning conversion and restoration in 1989. ■ quintareal.com

GEODESIC DOMES IN CHILE Elqui Domos describes itself as an “astronomic hotel”, with seven dome shaped units, each with removable roofs so guests can see the night sky from the comfort of their own beds. ■ elquidomos.cl

A GARDEN-WRAPPED HOTEL IN ARGENTINA Casa Calma in Buenos Aires is a spa hotel wrapped in a vertical garden, which keeps it warm and helps minimise carbon emissions. Sold by Sunvil Traveller. ■ casacalma.com.ar


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Mexico report

Can cuts fuel recovery? Six months after swine flu first hit Mexico, Dave Richardson SUPPLIER FEEDBACK. Specialist operators say demand for Mexico looks at how the country is dealing with the after effects remains strong, helped by better availability

B

ig price reductions are driving demand for mass market holidays to Cancun (pictured) and the Riviera Maya, which were hit hard when the world’s first outbreak of swine flu broke out in Mexico in April. Although there were no reported cases in the area, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised against all but essential travel to Mexico and operators cancel charters. That advice was lifted within three weeks, but operators did not return for four to six weeks after the outbreak. Tui UK, the biggest operator, flies to Mexico under its Thomson Faraway Shores and First Choice Tropical brands. Cancun is now the only Mexican charter gateway as Tui decided to drop flights to Cozumel island before the outbreak. Shona Swain, long-haul general manager, said: “We redeployed aircraft to Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, and as we focused on these destinations, Cancun was always having to play catch-up for summer 2009. “By the time flights returned, all our hotels were functioning normally. Demand for winter is starting to pick up, but it is driven by competitive pricing with reductions of up to £450 per couple. “Mexico will come back strongly and become our top long-haul destination again, having been overtaken by Florida in summer 2009.

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“People see swine flu as a way of getting a good deal, but hotels haven’t reacted yet for summer 2010.” Tui hopes to resume flights to Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast, dropped a few years ago. The Boeing 787s it has on order could fly there non-stop, but delivery delays make that unlikely before 2012. Cosmos has made even bigger reductions, with one holiday down by more than £600 per person (see panel). Sara Gelder, head of specialist products, says: “Cancun is proving a difficult sell for the remainder of summer and has been priced low thanks to offers from hotels. “We are seeing a good level of bookings for peak Christmas and Easter departures. However, the remainder of the winter season remains slow.” The Cancun Hotel Association said occupancy was back to 80% in July, and the appeal of Cancun continues to diversify as more activities become available. A new eco-park, Xplor, has just opened. The Cancun Convention and Visitors Bureau has launched a taxi advertising campaign with 20 taxis in London and 10 in Manchester carrying images of beaches, hotels, activities and Mayan archaeological sites. UK representative Luisa Uruena said: “The feeling is now positive about the UK market. People are not worried about swine flu now it is a global thing.”

of direct scheduled flights. Mexicana: Mexicana started flying from Gatwick to Mexico City in February, and now operates four times a week. Mexicana sales account manager Frank Valle said: “The new route started well. Although we were hit by swine flu, flights were full again by June and our target is to operate a daily service.” Kuoni: Kuoni is one of the operators using Mexicana, but says most bookings are within eight weeks of departure. Product manager Karen Walpole said: “Prices are more competitive now and we’ve had great offers in. We’ve seen signs of recovery for 2010, particularly at the top end in the Riviera Maya.” Journey Latin America: Journey Latin America product manager Rafe Stone said: “Public confidence is returning and hotels are offering great rates. “It should also be taken into account that swine flu has spread globally. We are now better informed about who is more at risk and what medication to take, so travellers are more relaxed.” Sunvil: Lloyd Boutcher, director of Sunvil Traveller, said: “Bookings for the lesser-known parts of Mexico have remained consistent. The swine flu outbreak has not affected the travel plans of our clients, who tend to be intrepid and adventurous.”

OFFERS Examples of price reductions on offer at time of writing: Thomson: Seven nights at the 5T Grand Palladium Colonial Resort and Spa on the Riviera Maya, near Cancun, cost from £799 per person all-inclusive from Manchester on December 2. This is down by £225 or £450 per couple. ■ thomson.co.uk Cosmos: The all-inclusive Occidental Grand Flamenco Xcaret, also on the Riviera Maya, is down by £637 per person to £969 for 14 nights, departing Gatwick on November 2. ■ cosmos-holidays.co.uk Kuoni: Seven nights at the Cancun Caribe Park Royal Grand cost from £799 room-only, a reduction of £249. ■ kuoni.co.uk Journey Latin America: A 13-night tour of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula starts from £3,307, reduced by £577. ■ journeylatinamerica.co.uk


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Win tickets to Moctezuma with Superbreak!

The Trustees of the British Museum

Mexican Season

T

he Mexico Tourism Board has launched a six-month-long Mexican Season, combining film festivals, events and lectures to showcase Mexican culture.

Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler A major exhibition has opened at the British Museum focussing on Moctezuma, the last elected, and rather bloodthirsty, Aztec ruler. Many of the sculptures and treasures have never been seen in the UK before. There is also a series of talks, film-showings, family events, cooking demonstrations and musical performances. On Sunday November 1 there is a Day of The Dead festival. ■ britishmuseum.org

Chocolate Week October 12-18 is national Chocolate Week, and as the birthplace of chocolate, the tourist board is supporting various events in London. The Mayfair Hotel is holding a two-day “Chocolate Unwrapped” show with 25 chocolate companies exhibiting, plus lectures and chocolate-related art. Pop into Fortnum & Mason at 12pm daily for chocolate-making demonstrations. ■ chocolate-week.co.uk

Borough Market On October 13-14, the Mexico Tourism Board has organised for renowned chef Monica Patino to cook mouth-watering Mexican seafood at London’s Borough Market. ■ mexicanseason@visitmexico.com

WIN

Superbreak is selling packages combing a night’s stay in a three-star hotel with a choice of either morning or afternoon entry to the Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler exhibition, priced from £73.50 per person based on two sharing. Superbreak is offering TTG readers the chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to the exhibition. For your chance to win, email your answer to the below question to: competitions@ttglive.com with “Moctezuma” as your subject:

What is the name of the ancient civilisation of which Moctezuma was ruler? Include your full contact details. Closing date is October 30. Please note, travel to and from London/the museum and accommodation is not included and prize is subject to availability. Superbreak.com

Latin America on our brand new fleet

Daily flights (via Madrid) to Argentina, Peru, Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and from December, Mexico; all on the newest fleet to Latin America. aircomet.com // 0871 222 0330


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Where can you find training courses for all these suppliers?

In TTG Knowledge College To find out more visit ttglive.com/ttgknowledge powered by


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A PERFECT DAY

NOW FOR JUST £177 This special offer applies to all reservations made before 19th December and includes unlimited entry to either SeaWorld or Busch Gardens!* For just £32 more – get unlimited entry to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens plus Aquatica!†

To make a booking call 0871 700 8888 or visit www.attractionworld.com

All Discovery Cove swim packages include one full day at Discovery Cove with a dolphin interaction experience. *The Choice package includes unlimited admission to SeaWorld or Busch Gardens for 14 days from first use. †The Ultimate package includes unlimited admission to SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Aquatica for 14 days from first use. Guests must be at least six years old to swim with dolphins. Guests aged 3-5 must purchase the non-swim package. Offer available for any visit before 19 Dec 2009. Offer applies to new bookings only. Offer subject to availability. © 2009 Busch Entertainment Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

2133_TW_ad_300x230mm.indd 1

Account

Anheuser Busch

Job Number

2133

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SPOTTED

Attractions

Ross meets Homer: Television presenter Jonathan Ross took a bit of time out last month to visit Universal Studios in Orlando PRODUCT ROUND-UP. Keith Prowse has introduced Christmas-themed “Wow! Tickets” for London, New York and Las Vegas. The tickets allow customers to combine their choice of shows, experiences and meals for a single price. ■ keithprowse.com Attraction World has introduced two or five-day “Power Passes” in Las Vegas, New Orleans, Washington DC, Niagara Falls and Honolulu, with discounts and some fast-pass entries. Three parks for the price of two in Orlando is also offered, with 14 days unlimited entrance to SeaWorld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. ■ attractionworld.com Funway Holidays is also offering the three for two offer as a standalone product in its Florida 2010 brochure. ■ funway.co.uk Superbreak features Christmas breaks at Alton Towers in its Christmas and New Year brochure. The ticket includes a stay at one of two hotels at the Alton Towers Resort. ■ superbreak.com/agents

Loving the scream in Halloween! Clients keen to do something special this spooky season? Warwick Castle turns into the Haunted Castle, where you can come face to face with plague victims and ghoulish grave diggers as you stroll through the haunted hollows (£20 adult, £10 child 4-16). Or why not enjoy a Medieval Banquet at London’s St Katherine’s Dock with a ghoulish twist? On Halloween night, endure freaky entertainment and a medieval banquet with unlimited drink for just £55.

attractionworld.com

CONTENTS.

Rep recommends: we ask an expert on the ground in Orlando for advice on planning an itinerary, p70; Fam-tastic 75 spots up for grabs on this year’s Orlando Super Fam, p72; Close to home What European and UK parks are planning for Halloween and the festive period, p74 TTG KNOWLEDGE COLLEGE. You can learn all about Worlds of Discovery and be in with a chance of bagging a place on a Florida fam trip by logging on to TTG Knowledge College. All agents who complete the eight-module course by the end of October will be entered into a prize draw to win a place on the fam, which takes place in December. Also in Knowledge College, you can learn all about Attraction World and a wealth of other suppliers. ■ ttglive.com/ttgknowledge

TRAVELCLUB. Agents still have the opportunity to bag some great prices for their own visits to UK theme parks courtesy of the TTG Travel Club. Adult prices start at £22.50 for Thorpe Park, £18 for Legoland (pictured) and £23 for Alton Towers. ■ ttgtravelclub.co.uk

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Planning guide

How to have a blast in Orlando There’s much more to Orlando than just theme parks. We asked Danielle Courtenay, chief marketing officer for the Orlando Tourism Bureau, to lift the lid on her home town 5-7 DAY TRIP:. THE ESSENTIALS.

14-DAY TRIP:. UNEXPECTED ORLANDO.

Spending a few days experiencing the latest excitement at Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World Resort and the World of Discovery parks is a “must” for visitors, just don’t forget to recommend Fastpasses at Disney and Express passes at Universal to drastically cut waiting times.

After spending the first few days sampling the parks, the foundation is laid for the ultimate getaway. Yet there is still so much to discover! Clients need to unwind? After so much excitement, why not recommend a couple of hours or even a full day’s treatment at any of

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the area’s 20 spectacular destination spas including the new Spa by Guerlain, Mandara Spa and Ritz-Carlton Spa at Grande Lakes. From mini-manicures and men’s sport facials to invigorating body wraps and exotic treatments, Orlando’s spas offer the ultimate respite. Visitors should also take the opportunity to sample the local cuisine, and in the past few years Orlando has moved beyond the typical “chain restaurant” scene. The culinary landscape of Orlando has finally caught up to reflect the diversity of the locals and the nearly 50 million visitors coming to Orlando from around the world each year. Ran-Getsu of Tokyo, on International Drive, serves sushi, sashimi and hand-cut steaks in a beautiful setting with an authentic Japanese garden and koi fish pond. Taverna Opa at Pointe Orlando guarantees good food and a good time, with meze and a full dinner menu along with Greek wines, martinis and desserts – be sure to recommend a visit on a night when they have live belly dancers and fire-eaters! For authentic Southern fare, try Johnson’s


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Clockwise, from left: Wallaby Ranch chief instructor Malcolm Jones and passenger; Richard Petty Driving Experience; Apollo Saturn V Center; and an airboat ride Soul Food Diner in downtown Orlando. Known for its Southern-style comfort food, this family-owned and operated eatery offers specialties such as smothered chicken, fried catfish, meat loaf and stewed beef each day. Once they’ve had time to chill out, your customers should be ready for more heartpounding thrills. They can try race-car driving, airboat rides, skydiving, hang gliding or other extreme sports. Visitors can find virtually every outdoor activity option – except those that require snow! Adventures include the following: indoor sky diving against winds blasting at 120mph; hang gliding from 2,000 feet; kicking up dirt through natural Orlando landscapes on an ATV or 4x4; racing your own race car at speeds up to 165 mph at Richard Petty Driving Experience; and an Indy Racing Experience. Another new and exciting option is zip lining through the natural Florida landscape at Florida Eco Safaris at Forever Florida. It is located about 45 minutes from the tourist area, but definitely worth the trip.

21-DAY TRIP: EXPLORE. MORE LOCAL TREASURES. For those lucky enough to be in Orlando for an extended period of time, there is still plenty to keep the family entertained. Shopping is cited as the number one travel activity for international tourists. Orlando offers a variety of shopping options – from luxury centres and factory stores to unique boutiques, traditional malls and theme park souvenir shops. In fact, there are

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12 shopping malls and outlet centres within a 20-minute radius – that’s about 4.6 million square metres of shopping venues – the equivalent of 676 football pitches lined up side-by-side! Beyond the hustle and bustle, visitors looking to dig a little deeper will find an Orlando filled with quaint neighbourhoods brimming with culture, history and culinary gems. Downtown Orlando, for example, has a mix of high rises and Victorian architecture, theatres, galleries, performing arts venues, and antique shops. The centrepiece is Lake Eola, a 43-acre park with generous sidewalks, lakeside cafes, swan paddle boats for rent, and an intimate outdoor amphitheatre for concerts and special events. Winter Park is a European-style community just north of downtown, dating back to the 1880s when wealthy New Yorkers took the train as far south as it would go, and boasts tree-shaded avenues, cobblestone streets and 10 blocks of cafes and boutiques. Those seeking an authentic Orlando nightlife experience need only follow the locals to their favourite nightspots in downtown Orlando. The action is centred along Orange Avenue — which runs directly through downtown. Dance ‘til you drop at the house and techno landmark Club Firestone, sip martinis at The Bosendorfer Lounge, located in the artsy Grand Bohemian Hotel. or don only your trendiest nightclub wear to get into Bliss Ultra Lounge, the downtown place to see and be seen. As Central Florida locals are well aware, Orlando also offers an array of arts and

cultural offerings. Orlando is home to hundreds of museums, galleries, theatres, gardens and historic homes, as well as acclaimed ballet, opera and philharmonic companies and travelling Broadway shows. Many of Orlando’s arts offerings can be found along its “Cultural Corridor,” a seven to eight mile stretch along Interstate 4, spanning from Downtown Orlando to historic Winter Park. If your customers want to venture further out in Florida, using Orlando as their base, then less than an hour’s drive east, Florida’s Space Coast beckons Orlando vacationers with wide sandy beaches, an abundance of birds and wildlife, and its own brand of small-town, coastal culture. Not far from there is Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, offering access to restricted areas of Nasa’s soon-to-be-retired space shuttle launch facilities as well as face-to-face interactions with experienced astronauts.

ORLANDO SUPERFAM Don’t forget you can still win a place on the amazing Orlando 2009 Super Fam, taking place from December 1-8. The Super Fam showcases Universal Parks & Resorts, Walt Disney World Resort, Worlds of Discovery and downtown Orlando, and is open to 75 agents. To be in with a chance or joining the fam, you need to register and complete the Orlando Tourism Bureau’s online training programme, at orlandoholidaychallenge.co.uk by October 23.


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Price per person from only £99 Includes: West End Show 3 Course Dinner Attraction Afternoon Tea at Harrods FREE GIFT (selected departures only)

Price per person from only £119 Includes: Ticket to Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular™ 3 Course Dinner Shopping Tour Attraction

Price per person from only £99 Includes: Las Vegas Show 3 Course Dinner Attraction Sightseeing Tour

Offers available for bookings and use by 31 December 2009

Call 02890 23 24 25 or click www.keithprowse.com/agents Terms & conditions apply to all offers. Prices/offers subject to change/availability. Please see the ‘Make the Most of Your Holiday’ 2009 brochure for full terms & conditions.

hose t l l a u to o y s the k a n s a u r Th d fo p.s. rds e a t o w v y who vel A ompan a r T ns C O TTG d ! Ad 009 2 y a r id Yea Hol e h t of


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Theme parks

Above: Halloween at Europa-Park; Below: “Pumpkins” at Disneyland Resort Paris

Ghoul and the gang With Halloween fast approaching and Christmas just round the corner, there’s plenty going on to tempt your customers at theme parks in the UK and around Europe over the next few months. Rob Gill reports

PortAventura, Spain The Spanish park’s Halloween activities are already in full effect with legions of zombies and other creepy creatures prowling the site. Guests can test their nerves by walking through a haunted passageway, going on an outdoor ghost-walk in the dead of night or getting scared on rides such as the Furious Baco rollercoaster. Youngsters don’t have to miss out as there is also a Halloween-themed puppet show. Halloween activities run until November 22 and will be followed by Xmas festivities and events running through to early January. ■ portaventura.co.uk

Futuroscope, France

EUROPEAN PARKS. Disneyland Resort Paris Disney’s European park has a variety of spooky events this month. The Disney Halloween Festival in Frontierland runs from October 3-November 1, allowing visitors to meet pumpkin men and see their favourite baddies in the Villain Parade. For younger children, there is Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in Fantasyland, which is being decorated in a Halloween theme.

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Other attractions include the Bonfire Spectacular on November 2, 4 and 6 when fireworks will light the sky. Father Christmas, plus Rudolph the reindeer, will also join Disney’s characters during the Yuletide celebrations of Mickey’s Magical Party, from November 8-January 6. A Christmas dinner takes place on December 5, 12 and 19. ■ disneylandparis.co.uk

For those who want to experience something different, the French science-themed park is unveiling a new ride on December 19: Arthur, the 4D Adventure. The ride is based on a series of books by French film director Luc Besson, best known for Leon and The Fifth Element. Participants board simulators designed to resemble giant ladybirds and then experience the


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GIFT CARD

UP TO

Book your customers on a 14 night stay at a selected Disney Resort Hotel, including Disney’s Ultimate Ticket, and they’ll receive a Disney Gift Card worth up to $1,000!

For your chance to holiday happily ever after make as many Walt Disney World Hotel & Ticket package bookings as you can and you could be on your way for your 7 night stay!

For more information on the offer and to enter the competition, visit:

Disney Free Gift Card promotion: The Free Disney Gift Card offer applies to holiday bookings made between 6 Oct and 15 Feb 2010 for arrival dates between 3 Jan and 18 May 2010, for stays at selected Walt Disney World Hotels. Offer applies to new bookings only. Offer not combinable with any other offers or discount. Booking must be for a minimum of 14 consecutive nights and maximum of 21 consecutive nights and must include Disney’s Ultimate Tickets (14- or 21-Day tickets) for each member of the party. This offer is subject room and flight availability. Tour operator’s standard booking terms and conditions apply. The value of the gift card varies by the Walt Disney World Hotel category. A US$350 gift card will be provided at Disney Value Resorts, a US$550 gift card at Disney Moderate Resorts excluding Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campsites, a US$750 gift card at Disney Deluxe Resorts and a US$1,000 gift card at Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts. One gift card per room will be provided at Hotel check-in. The gift card can only be used at selected participating locations at Walt Disney World Resort, Disneyland Resort California,Disney Cruise Line, Disney Store locations in the US, and DisneyStore.com. It cannot be redeemed in any other countries or against the cost of this booking. It is not redeemable for cash, will not be replaced if lost or stolen without required proof of purchase (for the free gift card offer ‘proof of purchase’ document is handed out together with free gift card at check-in) and it is subject to the terms and conditions of the Disney Gift Card Program. The Disney Gift Card is issued by Disney Gift Card Services, Inc. Gift cards may not be used towards the purchase of any Disney Dollars or Disney Gift Cards. Other restrictions may apply. Use of gift card is acceptance of its terms and conditions. Visit www.DisneyGiftCard.com for full listing of participating locations and full terms and conditions. Competition terms & conditions: To enter, record your bookings online, email your bookings, or post completed entry form as detailed above. Each qualifying booking made will provide for one entry into the competition. Bookings taken 6 Oct 2009–15 Feb 2010 qualify for entry. All entries must be received by midnight UK time 15 Feb 2010. Prizes consist of 1 main holiday prize and 50 x runners up prizes (Cinderella Goody Bags). Prizes will be awarded at the end of the promotion through a draw to be held no later than 18 Feb 2010. Holiday is for up to 4 people (two adults and two children under the age of 16) and includes: return economy flights from London to Orlando International (prize does not include transportation from other UK departure points), 7 nights room-only accommodation at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel (in one room with two double beds), Disney’s Premium Tickets for the duration of your prize and $150 spending money (Disney Gift Card) per person. Transfers, travel insurance and all costs and expenses not specifically listed are excluded and are the responsibility of the prize winner. Choice of Disney Hotel will be determined by the Promoter. Prize must be taken by end of 2010. Blackout dates may apply. Main prize winner must be over 18at time of travel. Entries will be verified and winners will be contacted by 26 Feb 2010. The Promoter reserves the right to substitute all or part of the prize with one of equal value. No cash alternative will be offered and the prize is non-transferable. The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Winners are responsiblefor passports, ESTA and obtaining visas where applicable. Promoter reserves the right in circumstances beyond its control to change rules, or alter the promotion at any time without prior notice. Promoter is Disney Destinations International, a division of the Walt Disney Company Limited, 3 Queen Caroline Street, London W6 9PE. ©Disney.


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knowledge attractions world from an insect’s perspective with tall grass, giant flowers and enormous creepycrawlies. The ride features the projection of a cartoon film on to an Imax screen and simulates movements and effects to make guests feel they are at the heart of the action. ■ uk.futuroscope.com

Europa-Park, Germany Monsters, ghosts and bloodthirsty vampires are currently lurking in the shadows at Europa-Park during the annual Terenzi Horror Nights, which are aimed at 16-year-olds and above. The fun is already under way and runs until November 1. Other Halloween events include an evening parade of ghosts and goblins from October 24-November 1, and a party on Halloween night, October 31. ■ europapark.de

UK PARKS. Alton Towers Scarefest returns to the Staffordshire park from October 17-November 1 when visitors can meet a variety of scary-looking characters including three witches lurking behind the Trick or Treat Doors, as well as exploring a haunted manor house. Alton Towers’ opening hours are being extended to 9pm during Scarefest to make the most of the dark nights. Santa will be making his seasonal return from late November, with lunch and overnight packages on offer for families. There will also be a party on December 31. ■ altontowers.com

Thorpe Park

The original Danish park at Billund will host Halloween at the King’s Castle from October 10-18 before finishing its season with a fireworks display on October 25. The park will also reopen for Christmas-themed activities on weekends throughout November. ■ legoland.dk

Halloween sees the return of the park’s Fright Nights, with the big new addition being SAW The Ride, a rollercoaster based on the horror movie franchise. There are also four themed mazes from which visitors may have trouble escaping. Fright Nights open at 4pm on dates from October 12-November 1, and tickets must be booked in advance. ■ thorpepark.com

Parc Asterix, France

Chessington World of Adventures

The park closes in early November but reopens for festive activities between December 19 and January 3. ■ parcasterix.fr

Visitors are invited to dress up in their best scary costumes during Halloween Hocus Pocus festivities from October 23-November 1. New for this year is the Black Forest

Legoland Billund, Denmark

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Vampires at Chessington Haunt walk as well as the return of the 3-D Hocus Pocus Hall where goblins run amok. Riders can also scream their way through rollercoasters such as Vampire and Dragon’s Fury. Another new attraction is Fiery Faun who will use magic and fire to tell stories for families with younger children. ■ chessington.com

Legoland Windsor The park will be ending its 2009 season with a bang when it hosts fireworks displays based around the movie character Indiana Jones on October 24, 25, 30 and 31, and November 1 and 7. There will be a full day of events leading up to the Indy-themed display. ■ legoland.co.uk

BOOK IT Attraction World offers a one-day, two-park ticket to Disneyland Resort Paris during the Halloween Festival priced at £48 for adults and £40 for children aged 3-11. ■ attractionworld.com Four-day tickets to PortAventura are priced £75 through Keith Prowse Attraction Tickets while seven-day passes cost £77. A one-day ticket to Futuroscope is priced £35 with a two-day pass £65. ■ keithprowse.com Superbreak has a family package to Alton Towers during Scarefest in October from £235 for two adults and two children, including a one-day ticket to the park and one night in a three-star hotel. ■ superbreak.com/agents Do Something Different sells one-day tickets to Legoland Windsor priced at £24 for adults and £22 for children. ■ dosomethingdifferent.com

Germany’s Europa-Park will offer a host of Christmas events in the run-up to December 25

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what’s yours? Guaranteed sunshine, gigantic water parks, skiing and dune surfing are just some of the fun filled activities on offer – making Dubai the perfect affordable destination for the whole family. With amazing offers available and 20 direct flights a day from the UK – fabulous family holidays needn’t cost a fortune. There’s really no better time to indulge in Dubai’s affordable luxury. Become a Dubai Expert Sign up at www.dubaiexpert.co.uk for comprehensive training Latest Dubai Updates Sign up for a monthly e-newsletter at www.dubaiupdate.co.uk


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Wi-Fly? With Wi-Fi, enhanced mobile coverage and more seamless working time, business is better by train. Glasgow to London only takes 4hrs 32mins on average, and arrives directly into the city centre. So now you can wave goodbye to the plane forever.

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Wi-Fi free in First Class, hourly rates apply in standard. Average journey time Monday to Friday, correct according to timetabled journey times.

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