Three travel brands innovating in crowdsourced marketing | Econsultancy

The first act of out-reaching to the crowd is 300-years-old (dates back to 1714), but the term ‘crowdsourcing’ was first coined in 2005 by two Wired Magazine editors Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson.

The whole idea of the internet is inherently based on the idea of crowdsourcing.  The internet is the place where the opinions of thousands are collected to help others in their decision-making.  And now social platforms have made it very simple to instantly reach out to many people and pick their brains.  The web is a silo of opinions, ideas and services curated by the mob.  People also tend to be more open in web-based projects.

Crowdsourcing has proven to be one of the most disruptive business models of the modern age.

In travel, the most notable examples are TripAdvisor and Airbnb, whose business models are built on user-generated resources.  The traditional travel sector has woken up to the value of crowdsourced marketing, too.  It’s not only the popular (and cost-effective) thing to do: it’s just plain good marketing.

Why? Because marketing at its core means bonding with your customer.

These three traditional British travel brands below use crowdsourcing to bring their products to market in new and exciting ways and drive innovation:

1) British Airways

In 2011, British Airways was the first British travel brand that turned to the public to co-create its aircraft menus, movies and livery.  Budding chefs, scriptwriters and artists were called upon to submit their ideas as part of the airline’s ‘Great Britons’ programme, initially launched in 2009 in anticipation of the Olympic Games.

These ideas were then taken forward and enhanced by category experts like renowned chef Heston Blumenthal, actor Richard E Grant and artist Tracey Emin.

The final outcome: a new on-board menu, in-flight movies and artwork for the exterior of the aircraft.

British Airways and Metro crowdsourced collaboration.

Following the success of this project, British Airways went on to pioneer the first ever live integrated crowd-sourced travel campaign in partnership with Metro in 2014.  This initiative gave consumers a unique opportunity to create and edit content using social media channels.  As part of this campaign English comedian Joe Wilkinson was tasked with a series of globe-trotting challenges.

Metro readers voted online for the places they would like to see him visit and the experiences they wanted him to have on his adventure.  The campaign featured a live feed of reader comments on, plus Wilkinson directly interacted with the audience using social channels.  This campaign strengthened customers’ relationships with the British Airways brand in an innovative way.

2) TUI Thomson

TUI Thomson’s “Name Our Plane” campaign saw the brand crowdsource a name for its first 787 aircraft on Twitter in 2012.

The success of this type of campaign has led Thomson to run a similar campaign this year, which focuses on both suggestions and user votes.  The selected winner’s name will be fitted on the new Dreamliner 787 and winner will be flown to a free long-haul destination on the brand new plane.


Thomson crowdsourced the first wedding

TUI Thomson is also the first travel brand that crowdsourced a wedding decided by Facebook fans in 2015. The “Your Big Day” campaign invited people to vote for their favourite couple, the best wedding dress (which the bride then had to wear), the best hen or stag party idea and the best venue.  All expenses for the wedding and honeymoon were paid for by Thomson. The contest received 700 entrants and 10,000 votes.

3) Visit Britain

In 2014 VisitBritain worked with Genero to crowdsource a number of short films to feature on its international Sounds of GREAT Britain campaign.

Genero represents a global network of filmmakers, who were tasked with producing a number of short films reflecting the variety of sights, sounds and experiences on offer across Britain. T

he winning films were featured on VisitBritain’s Lovewall and were distributed across all global markets, with a bespoke end result for each language and region.

The films were created to give different perspectives of the locations and themes featured in VisitBritain’s ‘Sounds of GREAT Britain’ campaign.

The resulting multimedia content was original, sharable and a good example of evergreen content.Crowdsourcing allows brands to utilise the creative power of their greatest asset – their customers – in exciting new ways. The best projects drive interest, website traffic and all round good vibes to the brand in question.

Source: Three travel brands innovating in crowdsourced marketing | Econsultancy

Iran Sees $30 Billion From Future Tourism

P1030451Nuclear deal struck between Tehran, six world powers should see sanctions against nation beginning to ease by next year, along with lifting of travel restrictions

Source: Iran Sees $30 Billion From Future Tourism

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The deal struck between Iran and six world powers over its nuclear program should see sanctions against the country beginning to ease by next year – and Iranians are hoping the lifting of travel restrictions could prompt an influx of international tourists. Travel agencies already are seeing an increase in demand.

With its ancient architecture, breathtaking landscapes and warm people, tour companies describe Iran as one of the unexplored jewels of the Middle East.

But the country’s isolation since the 1979 Islamic Revolution has seen visitor numbers from the West fall. The latest figures show only 90,000 arrivals from North America and the European Union in 2013.

Former diplomat Mehrdad Khonsari said there’s a lot of work to do.

“The difficulties we’ve had in Iran have definitely hurt the tourist industry in the sense that people are afraid to go. But those people that ventured and overcame these considerations and visited Iran were never sorry,” said  Khonsari.

Nuclear deal

Iran’s embassy reopened in London this week. The July deal struck by Tehran and six world powers over the country’s nuclear program is already helping ease travel restrictions. British travel agency Wild Frontiers has seen a spike in demand, according to founder Jonny Bealby.

“Two things have happened since the nuclear deal. First of all, the [British] Foreign Office have changed their advice against travel to Iran, and that’s made it much simpler for people to get insurance and that sort of thing, so the numbers have gone up again,” said Bealby. We’ve had to put on three extra departures this year alone to cope with demand for the autumn season to Iran.”

British traveler Buggsie Heath-Brown has traveled to many corners of the globe. She is looking forward to joining one of the Iran tours later this year, saying it’s long been on her wish list.

“We decided to get on one of the first trips that we could to get out there; see the sights, meet the people before the big rush of the rest of the world.”

Major revenue

Iran says it wants to attract 20 million visitors a year by 2025, generating up to $30 billion in revenue over that time frame.

“Now that this outside face of Iran is beginning to change, I think that tourism offers a great opportunity for the Iranian economy,” said Khonsari.

Tour operators say obtaining a visa remains a major hurdle for many visitors, while international sanctions on Iran’s banking system mean that most transactions need to continue to be in cash.

Sabre AirVision Market Intelligence solution expands distribution with Airport Strategy and Marketing… — SOUTHLAKE, Texas, Aug. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ —

SOUTHLAKE, Texas, Aug. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR), a global technology provider to the travel industry, has signed an agreement with Airport Strategy and Marketing (ASM), a leading consultancy firm with expertise in defining route development for airports worldwide.

sabre-logo-250x61Under this agreement, ASM will extend their current product portfolio by offering Sabre AirVision Market Intelligence to better serve their global customer community of airports and key stakeholder partners.

Sabre AirVision Market Intelligence addresses a key aspect of the airline business by connecting parties to robust market data. Ultimately, this solution provides advanced data analysis capabilities for business development and commercial planning departments. Airlines, airports, tourism boards and other travel related companies use Sabre AirVision Market Intelligence to drive efficiency around commercial planning, identify new revenue opportunities, and increase competitive insight.

“I am delighted we have reached this new agreement with Sabre, and as major users of Market Intelligence we find it to be the strongest demand and schedule data system on the market,” said David Stroud, managing director for ASM. “I am pleased we can now effectively add the product into our portfolio of services and enhance our offer to the world’s airports.”

“This new deal is a win-win scenario for both organizations. ASM deepens their customer offerings, while Sabre expands into the airport market and extends the reach of Market Intelligence to additional customers,” said Darren Rickey, vice president of Sabre AirVision.

First-class route development is dependent upon quality traffic data. With the data Sabre AirVision Market Intelligence provides, ASM will continue to provide consulting, analytics and training services to its airport customers. This new agreement reinforces the long standing relationship between the two companies. In addition to Airline Solutions’ status as ASM’s preferred airport data supplier, ASM now has the rights to market and sell this data solution.

Source: Sabre AirVision Market Intelligence solution expands distribution with Airport Strategy and Marketing… — SOUTHLAKE, Texas, Aug. 26, 2015 /PRNewswire/ —

TripAdvisor will offer a million dollar digital marketing campaign to PATA CEO Challenge winners

pata logoEmerging tourism destinations have an unprecedented opportunity to boost their digital marketing campaigns, thanks to a collaborative venture between the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and TripAdvisor.

The PATA CEO Challenge offers two prizes, each valued at US$500,000, for regional, state and province tourism organisations, and secondary and tertiary cities that are able to demonstrate the uniqueness and authenticity of their heritage, customs, culture and natural beauty to local and international travellers. Awards valued at US$500,000 will be presented to the winners of each category: States, regions and provinces; and second-tier/third-tier cities.

Trip AdvisorThe winning organisations will work with dedicated teams from TripAdvisor to create unforgettable digital marketing campaigns that showcase their destinations to global stakeholders.“The PATA CEO Challenge is gathering momentum and we are receiving enquiries and entries from a very broad spectrum of new and emerging destinations. This is a remarkable opportunity to work with TripAdvisor’s digital marketing experts,” said PATA CEO Mario Hardy. “We have received many enquiries from organisations in mainland China and to assist them we are accepting entries in Simplified Chinese.”“Travellers around the world are always on the lookout for places to discover and explore.

By participating in the PATA CEO Challenge, emerging destinations will have the opportunity to showcase their unique destination to TripAdvisor’s global travel community,” said Sarah Mathews, Head of Destination Marketing, APAC at TripAdvisor. “We look forward to receiving even more creative entries as the deadline draw near.” Deadline for submissions is Thursday, October 1, 2015. The awards will be presented at the PATA Aligned Advocacy Dinner in London on November 2, when the guest of honour will be UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai

via TripAdvisor will offer a million dollar digital marketing campaign to PATA CEO Challenge winners.

Why the Chinese are choosing Dubai over London, Paris – Emirates 24|7

Why the Chinese are choosing Dubai over London, Paris.  Tourist arrivals to Dubai set to double to 540,000 By Waheed Abbas

An average stay of Chinese tourists in Dubai will be approximately 3.2 nights during the 2013-23 period (File)

Dubai will be a hot destination for Chinese tourists in the coming decade, preferring the emirate over London, Paris and Sydney, according to a new study by a global hotel chain.

Favourable economic and demographic trends shaping the Chinese travel market are set to fuel huge increases in the number of Chinese travellers visiting the UAE over the next decade, said ‘The Future of Chinese Travel’ report published by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in partnership with Oxford Economics.

The emirate will remain the most popular choice for Chinese travellers in the Middle East and Africa region (Mena) as tourist arrivals are set to almost double (up by 97 per cent) to more than 540,000 travellers by 2023 as compared to 276,000 in 2013, it said.

The travel, retail and entertainment centres of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have led the region, attracting an increasing number of Chinese tourists on leisure trips and cruises.

“Over the next decade, growth in arrivals to and nights spent in Dubai and Abu Dhabi is expected to top that of other major city destinations throughout the world, such as London and Paris in Europe and Sydney in the Asia Pacific region,” the report noted.

Total spending by Chinese tourists is estimated to jump by 60 per cent in 10 years, from $488 million (Dh1.8 billion) in 2013 to $781 million (Dh2.86 billion) in 2023. An average stay will be approximately 3.2 nights during the 2013-23 period.

“Dubai is among the top destinations in [the number of nights spent per visit], despite the average number of Chinese arrivals to Middle Eastern cities falling behind that of destinations in the other regions,” said the report.

Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) earlier this month said Dubai’s hotel establishments received 11.63 million guests in 2014, registering a 5.6 per cent increase over guest arrivals in 2013.

According to DTCM, China moved from tenth position to seventh, experiencing 24.9 per cent growth in the last 12 months with 344,329 hotel guests compared to 275,675 in 2013.

Pascal Gauvin, Chief Operating Office, India, Middle East and Africa, IHG, said the UAE is a key growth market in the Middle East.

“As the volume of Chinese travellers grow in key cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the country, we must also ensure we are ready to cater to their and we are pleased to share that today nearly 40 per cent of our hotels in the UAE are now China Ready accredited. In the years ahead we will work towards growing this number alongside the growth that we can expect from Chinese guests.”

Globally, 90 million Chinese households will be travelling overseas by 2023.

Abu Dhabi is expected to receive more than 177,000 Chinese travellers by 2023, a huge increase of more than 300 per cent from just over 44,000 in 2013.

The report also reveals the opportunities this forecast growth will present, as Chinese traveller preferences evolve towards long-haul, leisure-driven travel. The study reports that increases in leisure and retail spend will contribute to significant increases in the value of Chinese travellers to local economies.

via Why the Chinese are choosing Dubai over London, Paris – Emirates 24|7.

You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline) | The Motley Fool

You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline)  Steve Symington

With the advent of online travel sites, it’s never been easier to book a quick vacation, business trip, or even a spontaneous jaunt for almost anywhere in the world. Though the online travel industry is relatively young, it’s still growing quickly, with dozens of viable sites ready to make your trip happen.

The sites with the most loyal customers stand to grab the biggest share of this market as Internet usage increases around the world. But maintaining customer loyalty is even more challenging in markets like the United States, where online travel is becoming second nature as nearly 90% of the population is already online.

Thanks to online travel sites, resorts like this are just a click away.

This of course begs the question, which travel site are Americans the most loyal to?

Thanks to prominent advertising campaigns, several incorrect names might immediately come to mind. Take the various sites operated by Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN), for example, which notably include, KAYAK,,, and — thanks to a $2.6 billion acquisition last year — even restaurant reservations specialist OpenTable. Since it was founded in 1997, Priceline has enjoyed the charisma of spokesman William Shatner talking up its negotiating skills, while KAYAK earns business by comparing the prices of “hundreds” of travel sites at once.

Collectively, these businesses helped Priceline Group achieve $50.3 billion in total gross bookings last year alone. And with a market capitalization higher than $61 billion as of this writing, it’s no surprise Priceline regularly calls itself the “world leader in online accommodation reservations.” But “world leader” or not, none of Priceline’s sites are tops in customer loyalty.

Or how about Hotwire? Specific financial details are scarce for the privately held site, but Hotwire earns customers by selling off unsold travel inventory at a huge discount, saving people planeloads of cash on all their travel needs from airfare to hotels, rental cars, and comprehensive travel packages.

Unfortunately, though, even Hotwire’s approach doesn’t translate to the most loyal users. It’s not Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE), either — though we’re getting closer.

Travelocity’s roaming gnome, Credit: Travelocity

Love for the Roaming Gnome

According to the 19th annual Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, American consumers are most loyal to a travel site acquired by Expedia less than two months ago: On January 23, 2015, Expedia paid $280 million in cash to buy Travelocity from travel-technology specialist Sabre (NASDAQ: SABR), which itself was a subsidiary of American Airlines until being spun off in 2000.

According to Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff, 2015 was Travelocity’s first year atop its category in loyalty. And this year’s results were driven by the brands’ abilities to “identify customers’ expectations and address them via authentic emotional values.”  So why do Americans specifically love Travelocity so much?

A little focus goes a long way

First, keep in mind that Travelocity signed a strategic marketing agreement with Expedia in mid-2013. Per the terms of that deal, Expedia agreed to take the reins of the technology platform powering Travelocity’s U.S. and Canadian websites. In exchange, Expedia received performance-based marketing fees that varied based on the amount of travel booked through those Travelocity-branded sites.

Travelocity’s #IWannaGo campaign was wildly successful, Credit: Travelocity.

While this meant less revenue for Travelocity at the time, it also greatly improved the site’s profitability by drastically lowering operating costs. In its most recently reported quarter as part of Sabre, for instance, Travelocity’s adjusted revenue fell nearly 45% year over year, to $89 million, while adjusted EBITDA skyrocketed 116% to $16 million. Without the need to focus on maintaining its technology platform, Travelocity was free to redirect those resources toward promoting its brand — something it arguably did more effectively than any of its deep-pocketed rivals, anyway.

Take Travelocity’s “Roaming Gnome” mascot, for example, whose offbeat TV spots have been at the heart of its viral advertising efforts for more than a decade. But starting in 2013, Travelocity also began using the gnome to engage consumers on a personal level with a wildly successful social media campaign centered around the hashtag #IWannaGo.

By following the @roaminggnome handle on Twitter or Instagram, then using the hashtag to tell Travelocity where you wanted to go, you were automatically entered to win a chance to make your travel dreams come true. Then. last year, Travelocity built on that momentum by combining the hashtag with its new “Go & Smell the Roses” tag line.

According to Travelocity chief marketing officer Bradley Wilson: “‘Go & Smell the Roses’ is more than a tag line in an advertising campaign, it’s a rally cry. […] We are using our most powerful asset, the iconic Roaming Gnome, to inspire and instigate people to get off the couch, to go and smell the roses.”

If Brand Keys’ latest Loyalty Index is any indication, Travelocity’s efforts to connect to customers on an emotional level are obviously proving effective in its core American market. If it can translate that good work under Expedia’s wing to inspire people around the world, something tells me Expedia’s $280 million purchase price will look brilliant in the end.

via You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline) | The Motley Fool.

Tourism Marketing: E-travel giants get more individual – fvw

Leading travel e-retailers are using technology to speed up and individualise their offers, according to top executives at a recent fvw event.

Expedia-Europa-Chef Andreas Nau

Online travel giant Expedia cannot afford to carefully plan a medium-term strategy, Andreas Nau, head of Expedia Europe, told the fvw Online Marketing Day in Frankfurt. “We have to be fast, test and be allowed to make mistakes,” he declared.

For example, Expedia is currently testing a new form of hotel evaluation in 60,000 properties via a new app. “Customers can quickly give their views on the reception, service and overall impressions via smileys,” he explained to some 270 participants. Hoteliers “are already addicted to it” and respond quickly, he said.

Outlining some new products, Nau said that Expedia has developed a tool enabling hoteliers to change their prices via a mobile device, and is working on a method of presenting room prices like on a stock exchange.

Tom Breckwoldt, TripAdvisor’s Germany chief

Meanwhile, TripAdvisor is rapidly embarking on a new ‘customer journey’ and adapting itself to changing user habits, and the rapid advance of mobile devices, above all. “More than 50% of all content is consumed by mobile today,” said Tom Breckwoldt, Germany chief of the evaluation portal.

TripAdvisor no longer just wants to display hotel rankings ahead of a trip but also offer additional services at the destination, such as restaurant visits or excursions. The company has already bought content providers such as restaurant finder La Fourchette and activity finder Viator. Such activities will then be bookable on the company’s mobile portal.

Breckwoldt stressed: “Our core business remains the rankings, the evaluation of hotels and other services.” But he also predicted rapid growth of destination-based mobile bookings due to the spread of mobile devices and free wi-fi.

Facebook is also a good source of information for online tourism marketing, especially because companies can form clusters of users to target, Benjamin Schroeter, managing director of Facelift Brand Building Technologies, told the event. Tour operators, for example, could target specific groups for last-minute sales, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, this year’s fvw Online Marketing Award was won by the Hamburg tourist board for their mobile app, which acts as a city guide with detailed additional information as well as user evaluation options. The app has been downloaded more than 65,000 times since its launch in mid-2014.

via Tourism Marketing: E-travel giants get more individual.

Beacon Technology: The Next Big Marketing Tool for the Travel Industry? | TravelPulse

mobile marketingThe increase of mobile devices has changed the world as we know it, as businesses have needed to adapt and become more mobile-friendly.

Beacon technology—placing beacons to send location-based information and offers to these mobile devices—could have a similar impact in the travel industry and beyond.

Evan Schwartz, CEO of ActionX, a mobile app and cross-screen retargeting company, certainly sees the potential in the technology. The technology has been gaining steam in the last few years, Schwartz said, but it’s about to “explode” in 2015.

The draw of beacon technology to businesses is simple. You aren’t communicating with consumers across a TV screen, where they could be miles away from your business. You are communicating with them at the selling location itself. Retailers have begun to introduce the technology to the public, and it’s starting to make its way into the travel industry, with hotels, airports and airlines beginning to use it.

Miami International Airport, for example, recently launched a new app that uses beacons to help consumers find the correct gate for departure while sending them notifications on their mobile devices for restaurant and retail deals while they’re travelling through the airport.

Marriott International now features beacon technology at 14 of its properties in the United States since unveiling the technology in July 2014. The LocalPerks initiative is available exclusively to Marriott Rewards members, making Marriott Rewards the first major hotel loyalty program to offer geo-targeted, mobile offers during a guest’s stay.

Schwartz, who already has several clients lined up to introduce the technology in the future, told TravelPulse that he sees beacon technology making a similar impact to the travel industry as mobile apps did. He specifically highlighted Virgin Atlantic and Apple as examples.

Virgin Atlantic ran a trial in May 2014 for Upper Class passengers at London Heathrow Airport using Apple’s iBeacon technology. Upper Class passengers had the opportunity to receive special partner offers as they passed through the airport, such as 0 percent commission at a MoneyCorp currency exchange booth.

At the time, Reuben Arnold, brand and customer engagement director for Virgin Atlantic, said the airline had only “skimmed the surface” of the technology, exploring the ability to notify customers of open appointments at the Clubhouse spa or introduce crew members as they board their flight, via the Virgin Atlantic blog.

Beacon technology makes a lot of sense because it almost works like a business owner standing outside and inviting customers in: it’s directly targeting customers at the point of sale.

In fact, Schwartz told TravelPulse back in October that the clients ActionX works with are no longer content with a boost in app downloads—they want to see a clear indication of a boost in revenue. In that sense, beacon technology is naturally a new way of doing just that. It’s no surprise that major companies such as Virgin Group and Apple are embracing the technology with open arms. It’s also no surprise that ActionX—a company that specializes in mobile advertising—has taken it and ran with it.

But why has it taken a few years to really get beacon technology off the ground? Well, as with any advanced technology, it takes some tinkering to completely understand. Businesses have been learning how to fully implement beacon technology into their properties, Schwartz said.

As Sarah Bradley, director of Marriott Rewards Digital Strategy and leader of the LocalPerks initiative, told TravelPulse in December, it’s particularly more difficult to implement the technology at, say, a large-scale resort than it is at a small retailer. You have to make sure beacons don’t cross signals and bandwidth usage can be a problem.

“Installing beacons is a relatively simple process, but the strategy behind their placement and how to trigger the messages is more complex then we had expected,” Bradley said at the time. “The number of outlets, the layout of the hotel and the type of business the hotel drives all impact the placement and message strategy. We have learned quickly, however, and our core team has done a fantastic job of creating a unique experience.”

And for those worried about getting blasted with digital offers everywhere they are (futuristic movies such as “The Fifth Element” come to mind), rest assured, you not only have to download a specific app, but you also have to turn on Bluetooth, location services and the app’s notifications. Similar to personalized on-line marketing these days, advertisers using beacon technology don’t want to bombard consumers with offers, Schwartz noted. They are targeting them for a reason: It could genuinely be of interest to the consumer.

And as travellers move across this wondrous world, beacon technology is only a natural fit for the travel industry.

via Beacon Technology: The Next Big Marketing Tool for the Travel Industry? | TravelPulse.

New City Destination Ranking Released by Euromonitor International

EuromonitorMarket Research Company Euromonitor International released today a new ranking of the top 100 city destinations in terms of international tourist arrivals for 2013.

The top three cities on the list remained unchanged from 2012: Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. These Asian mega-cities benefited from their locations in heavily populated areas, large economies and proximity to China.

While outbound travel from China is heavily influential for many of the cities listed, inbound tourism to China remains sluggish. China does remain the leading country for the number of cities featured in the top 100 with a total of eight. However, with the exceptions of Suzhou and Guilin, these cities experienced a decline in arrivals for 2013 due to an uncertain economic outlook, pollution concerns and tensions with Japan—a key source market.

Looking forward, city destinations may want to turn to the US market, the second largest source for outbound travel in 2013. The US has been a relatively mature market with outbound travel peaking in 2007, followed by yearly declines until recovery began in 2012. But a better economic environment, a stronger dollar and lower gas prices will likely boost outbound travel from the US.

“Cities in neighbouring countries to the US such as Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean will most likely see growth in US travellers,” according to Euromonitor’s Head of Travel and Tourism, Caroline Bremner. “Western European cities will likely benefit too, thanks to strong cultural positioning and historical ties to the US.”

Top Five Cities Destination Rankings Listed Below:

  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong (25,587.3 arrivals)
  • Singapore, Singapore (22,455.4 arrivals)
  • Bangkok, Thailand (17,467.8 arrivals)
  • London, United Kingdom (16,784.1 arrivals)
  • Paris, France (15,200.0 arrivals)

via New City Destination Ranking Released by Euromonitor International.

Asian cities account for a third of the most visited cities

Over a third of all destinations are located in the Asian Pacific region, illustrating strong regional travel trends within Asia, as well as the growing connections throughout the region. Within the top 10, six of the leading cities are from Asia, with the top three remaining unchanged from last year – Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. These three Asian mega-cities serve as some of the top destinations for Chinese travellers as well as being air network hubs. Bangkok showed the strongest growth among the top 10 cities, up 10.4% from 2012 to reach 17.4 million arrivals, despite political unrest breaking out at the end of the year. Chinese visitors are key to Thailand’s booming arrivals, with close links between the countries as well as efficient and short transport connections. A new Asian arrival on the list is the South Korean city of Jeju with 1.77 million visitors, growing 46.3% in 2013.

Chinese visitors replaced Japanese arrivals as the most important source market for South Korea in 2013. About 70% of international visitors to Jeju Island are Chinese, aided by the no-visa policy as well as improved cruise facilities, direct flights from the Chinese mainland, and a plethora of duty-free shopping opportunities. While outbound Chinese tourism is hugely influential in many of the cities listed, inbound tourism remains sluggish. China does remain the leading country for the number of cities featured in the top 100, with a total of eight cities. However, with the exceptions of Suzhou and Guilin, all these cities experienced a decline in arrivals for 2013. Beijing in particular continues to be affected by the slowdown in the Chinese economy as well as pollution.

India’s leading cities, Delhi and Mumbai, though, experienced growth of 27% and 22%, respectively, in 2013, with both of them receiving around 3.6 million visitors.  The depreciation of the rupee against the US dollar made it much cheaper to travel to India in comparison to previous years, aiding inbound tourism.

GCC countries are the shining stars of the Middle East

The GCC counties are well represented by four countries, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all having cities in the top 100. The latter is home to Dubai, the region’s starTweet-This city for arrivals with a total of 10.5 million visitors, up 7% on the previous year. The United Arab Emirates government has worked hard in recent years promoting the country as a safe family tourism destination, which has benefitted Dubai, and also neighbouring emirates Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, which also feature in the top 100. These cities have also picked up a lot of arrivals who previously would have opted for destinations such as Egypt before its recent instability.

Saudi Arabia features three cities in the top 100: Mecca, East Province and Riyadh. 2013 was a strong year for inbound tourists visiting Mecca for religious pilgrimage, with arrivals reaching 7.5 million due to massive expansions at the holy mosques as well as a growing number of hotels. This is in spite of concerns about the MERS virus, which was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Doha, in Qatar, was the Middle Eastern city showing the best growth in 2013, reaching 3.8 million arrivals, up by 21.2%. Business tourism is the mainstay of arrivals, due to Qatar’s substantial oil and gas industry, but leisure tourism is growing slowly with the country focusing largely on cultural and sporting attractions to entice visitors.

Europe courting Russian and Chinese visitors

London and Paris remain Western Europe’s leading cities for arrivals with 16.8 million and 15.2 million, respectively, in 2013. Turkey features strongly in the list, with Antalya, Istanbul and Artvin all showing good growth for the year. Russian arrivals were key to this growth, with Antalya hosting 75% of all visitors from Russia to Turkey. Visas are not required for Russians staying less than 60 days in Turkey, and Antalya provides beach locations such as Kemer, Alanya, Belek, Kas, and Side, which are popular with Russian tourists. Zurich in Switzerland has one of the highest growth rates for arrivals in Europe, at 23.6%, and it welcomed 2.26 million arrivals in 2013. Increasing numbers of tourists from China and Russia are visiting the city, aided by the fact that Switzerland is within the Schengen visa zone, and offers excellent transportation links and air connections.

A reshuffling of future source markets

The long-heralded rise of the Chinese outbound traveller is set to continue with China overtaking Germany as the number one source of outbound international travel in 2017. Nearby Asian cities, especially those located in countries with relaxed or no visa requirements, will benefit immensely. However, Chinese travellers are becoming more adventurous – travelling farther afield and exploring on their own as opposed to in a tour group. It is important for cities to understand the changing Chinese travellers’ desires and build a strong marketing message to court them.

The outlook for Russian travellers was equally bright just a year ago, but the deteriorating economic situation and the rapid decline of the rouble now call into question how strong a source market Russia will be, especially for city destinations in important sun destinations such as Turkey, Egypt and Thailand.

However, city destinations may want to turn their eyes to the US market, which was the second largest source market in 2013. The US has been a relatively mature market, with outbound travel peaking in 2007, followed by yearly declines until a recovery began in 2012. But a better economic environment, a stronger dollar and lower gas prices will likely boost outbound travel from the US. According to the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, outbound travel from the US was up by Tweet-This9.6% year-to-date in October 2014 – a significant increase for a mature market. The benefit, though, may mostly accrue in cities in neighbouring countries in Central America (including Mexico) and the Caribbean, but Western European cities will likely benefit too thanks to strong cultural positioning and historical ties.

Uncertainty is the only certainty

The shift towards a more connected world is both a positive and a negative for international travel. The opportunities to attract visitors from new source markets are vast, but can quickly turn into challenges, whether it is due to geopolitical unrest, economic decline or natural disasters. It is important for city destinations to be prepared to quickly respond to the constantly evolving global landscape to have their tourism industries thrive.


The travel agent is not dying

Travel AgenciesA recent research shows that what is known as “The Internet killed the travel agent” is not true. The travel agent is not dying as well. In 2014, 18 percent of American travelers used traditional travel agents compared to 12 percent in 2013.

Tech savvy millennials could easily use online travel aggregators, such as Expedia or Priceline, to book a leisure trip, but they’re choosing to use travel agents instead. In 2014, 28 percent of millennials used a traditional travel agent, compared to only 13 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 50 to 65) and 15 percent of Generation X (ages 36 to 49).

Baby Boomers, on the other hand, are not leery of using on-line travel tools because they’re repeating past travel experiences, such as returning to the same hotel or a place they’ve previously visited. They’re a more seasoned traveler and don’t need a travel agent to guide them through decisions.

These are the results of a recent study by MMGY Global, a Kansas City-based travel and hospitality marketing firm.

Clayton Reid, CEO of MMGY Global, said, “One of the most counter intuitive facts that comes out of our research is that millennials are actually using traditional travel agents at a higher rate than a lot of age groups.”

MMGY doesn’t see the trend toward travel agents ending anytime soon. In fact, the resurgence of travel agents made MMGY’s top 10 list of travel trends for 2015. One reason is travel agencies have perfected what they do best.

In the 1990s when online travel aggregators gained traction, a number of travel agencies either went out of business or began focusing on a niche, such as focusing solely on the cruise industry or trips to Europe. Travel agencies became specialists in the industry, which made them stronger, Reid said.

“They essentially became more valuable to the people who might use them because they were forced to become better at what they do,” he said.

MMGY’s research found that those who booked a leisure trip through a travel agent within the last year were more satisfied with their overall trip than those who booked through online third parties, such as Orbitz. In addition, three out of four leisure travelers said travel agents are in the best position to make recommendations for their travel.

“We’re seeing very high satisfaction levels with using a travel agent, which helps build momentum,” Reid said. “People have said they’ll go back and use a travel agent again because it’s making their trip better.”

Source: Kansas City Business Journal

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