The Cruise Boom and a new venture InCruising

CLIAA recent report by Cruise Lines International Association, called 2016 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, projects that nearly 24 million passengers will sail in 2016, up from 15 million a decade earlier in 2006. The industry will debut 27 new cruise ships in 2016, including ocean and river vessels.

Among the other 2016 trends outlined by CLIA:

  • River cruising continues to grow, with a double-digit increase of new ships in 2016.
  • Asia is the fastest growing region in the cruise industry, with passenger volume growing at a 34 percent annually between 2012 and 2014.
  • Australia is also a hotbed for cruising, with the number of passengers growing from 158,000 in 2004 to more than 1 million in 2014.
  • Luxury cruising is on the rise, with more lines adding concierge services, exclusive tours, gourmet dining and butler service.
  • More lines are offering overnight stops in ports, allowing passengers to immerse themselves in the destinations.
  • Intergenerational travel has become popular, with grandparents and extended family taking cruises together or having reunions.
  • Voluntourism cruises, where passengers have an opportunity to make a difference in ports they visit, will become more available in 2016.

Having spotted the market entrepreneur Michael Hutchison is in the process of launching an extremely innovative membership network that is a win-win for the bookers and the cruise lines. 

This is how it works….

#1 What makes Incruises unique is that its Members earn Cruise Dollars as part of their Membership.

What are Cruise Dollars?  For every $1 members pay in membership dues, they receive $2 in Cruise Dollars® to use towards purchasing a cruise in full or further reducing the cruise lines published rates.

When a Member applies their Cruise Dollars®, they receive preferred rates not available anywhere else.  Their members will be able to cruise for hundreds, perhaps thousands less than any other passenger on just about every cruise. Membership is therefore a huge saver.

#2 Members access their site to find two types of cruise offers.  What they call Dream Cruises™, hand-selected offers that have been researched and Global Destinations, special deals for their Members with any of the thousands of cruise options that are available at any given time on the internet from hundreds of providers.

If you live in the UK, Canada, Spain, Germany, or anywhere in the world, cruisers can book your cruise travels with a local cruise booking provider, simply book the cruise and send Incruises the booking confirmation and your payment receipt. Once we receive your proof of purchase, they will reimburse you for a part of your booking cost subject to the Cruise Dollars guidelines.

Each year that goes on Members can use an increasing number of Cruise Dollars™ to book their cruises and achieve even greater savings!

And again, if cruisers don’t use your Cruise Dollars™ they continue to rollover as long as you remain an active member, allowing you to use them in the future with Dream Cruises™ or more of our other Global Destinations.

Visit their website for further information www.incruises.com

Iran 2015 – 6 useful thoughts from my trip of a lifetime

The blog post below was written by one of Duncan’s companions, Alex Kenny head of Marketing at a leading UK law firm, on their incredible Iranian Tour last year as part of a Digital Marketing in Tourism Conference organised by Kaspid. 

Iranian Tourism is getting a great deal of attention and so it should. 

Alex is one of the very few Europeans to have visited three of Iran’s major cities but that is about to change.  We hope you enjoy reading about his experience.

Imam Reza Holy MosqueIf someone called up one day and asked you: “Do you want to go to Iran”, what would you say? I would imagine for most, it wouldn’t be an instant yes. Iran is not exactly a window-card destination a…

Source: Iran 2015 – 6 useful thoughts from my trip of a lifetime

News Analysis: The Iranian boom | HotelierMiddleEast.com

Iran is getting a lot of attention on a global scale; following sanctions being lifted from the country, several business opportunities have emerged, with hospitality coming under scrutiny.

Local Iranian businesses are now able to usher in a new era of trade relations, and attract investment opportunities.

At a recent roundtable held by law firm CMS in conjunction with Colliers in Dubai, 50-year-old Iran Travel and Tourism Company’s managing director Mohsen Gharib presented several opportunities within the country’s tourism sector. “Last year we welcomed four million visitors. The vision is to increase that number to 20 million in the next 10 years (by 2025). We foresee a requirement of 400 new hotels that need to be built in Iran in the coming decade to meet that goal,” Gharib said.

Sources have revealed to Hotelier Middle East that Iran currently has between 700-900 operating hotels, albeit no official figure exists. “Along with Tehran, European tourists frequently visit Shemshak; Arabian tourists like to visit the Caspian coast and Mashhad attracts religious tourists. Whereas Persepolis is steeped in Iranian history as is the Ali-Sadr water cave.

AccorHotels is the first company to recognise this opportunity having opened two hotels near the Tehran international airport,” added Gharib, whose company owns 60 hotels across Iran.

Gilani, who previously worked as the managing director at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, revealed more about the source of funding: “Global banks are hesitant for debt financing and their fear stems from the sanctions, but there is a new paradigm now; however the fear will not disappear overnight. And, in the absence of large global banks, there will be ample opportunity for debt financers from continental European banks, central banks in Europe, including banks from the GCC, India and China. There is plenty of opportunity for banks in these regions to raise credit.”

Gilani added that there is a limited window for investment opportunity, one that will not last for a long time.

Meanwhile, opinions on investment in Iran remained divided across two online polls conducted by Hotelier Middle East. 58% respondents on a Twitter poll suggested that the investors should wait and see, whereas more than 60% on HotelierMiddleEast.com felt that now is the right time to invest.

Grant Salter, director, head of travel, hospitality and leisure advisory Deloitte, said interest rates are bound to be high. “Given the inherent risks associated with a new and unpredictable market, we see the availability of funding being constrained in the short-term. There are likely to be players willing to accept the kind of risks associated with these market conditions but these will likely come at the price of high interest rates and heavy loan security requirements where debt is sought.”

Another concern is training, and Landais said AccorHotels will focus on developing hospitality standards. “Iranians are skilled and talented in many sectors, but sadly, that is not reflected in the service industry, which is an irony given how hospitable they are. The commitment Accor has taken as investors is to bring in the expertise, and transfer it to the local Iranian market.”

“We are in the process of registering the company in Tehran and with that we will also obtain the licence to bring Accor’s management training academy, of which we have 17 in the world — one in Dubai. The academy will enable us to train young prospects. So our philosophy is to not only develop hotels in the country, but to also develop the expertise and competence of Iranians in the service industry,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, other hospitality companies are also considering Iran with Rotana having previously reported that it has four properties under development in Iran.

It also claimed to be the first operator to announce plans into the market in December 2013, with four properties under development, all of which will be opened under the brand Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts by Rotana.

Rotana president and CEO Omer Kaddouri previously told Hotelier Middle East that the firm is also, in the tune of Accor, hoping to develop training for Iranians.

So despite a few hurdles, the country has made its plans clear to boost tourism. In January, an Iranian shipping company announced it would launch an Islamic cruise, which will sail between Iran, Muscat and Salalah in Oman, and Mumbai in India. And the government wasted no time and signed a deal with Airbus to purchase 114 new aircrafts just days after the sanctions were removed.

Source: News Analysis: The Iranian boom | HotelierMiddleEast.com

Despite Fear of Terrorism, Traveler Sentiment Reaches All-Time High

MMGY_200x190It will take more than a little Zika virus or terrorism to stop people from traveling, apparently. A brand new MMGY study shows U.S. traveller’s interest in travel is at an all-time high.

The latest travelhorizons survey of 2,300 active travellers conducted by marketing services firm MMGY Global shows that the overall Traveller Sentiment Index (TSI), which measures U.S. adults’ interest in travel, time for travel, personal finances available for travel, affordability of travel, quality of service, and safety of travel, now stands at 120, the highest level recorded since its inception in 2007.

That’s not to say they are not mindful of the risks that always come with stepping outside your comfort zone. The perceived safety of travel (97) rated the lowest score, down two points from one year ago. The five other factors that determine the TSI increased between two and six points each.

Overall, slightly fewer respondents said they plan to take a trip in the next six months, but those who do expect to spend more; 63% plan to take at least one overnight leisure trip, down slightly from the 68% percent in October 2015, but 30% expect to spend more, while just 14% expect to spend less.

Fear of flying
Four in ten active leisure travelers (42%) agreed that what they see in the news affects their interest in traveling, and 53% said the news affects their choice of destination.

Perhaps not surprisingly, more than half (52%) said they don’t feel safe traveling to international destinations, and 26% said they changed some aspect of their travel plans because of the recent terror attacks in Europe and the Middle East. Ten percent switched to a destination they considered safer, and 9% postponed a planned trip, purchased travel insurance, or canceled a trip entirely.

Source: Despite Fear of Terrorism, Traveler Sentiment Reaches All-Time High

Hilton Launches New Direct-Booking Campaign

Hilton Worldwide has launched a new “Stop Clicking Around” ad campaign, underscoring that the best price is available only on its own website or through travel agents. The promotion offers Hilton HHonors members a discount of 10% off the best available rate.

“’Book Direct’ means bookings that are made on Hilton Worldwide’s hotel brand websites and reservation call centers, the Hilton HHonors app, directly at a hotel, or through preferred corporate travel partners and approved travel agents,” the website says.

“The travel agent community is an extension of our business and we greatly value their opinions and support,” Geraldine Calpin, Hilton’s Chief Marketing Officer, told TMR. “We are, and have always been, committed to supporting our travel agent partners.”

About 57 billion HHonors Points–more than 1.6 million free nights–went unearned last year because guests booked through a third party, the company said. “Our bold campaign will set the record straight and help travellers understand how to take advantage of every Point, benefit and experience they possibly can during their hotel stay,” Calpin said.

The campaign is running on numerous channels, including print, online, television, billboards, on-property ads, and social media.

Source: Hilton Launches New Direct-Booking Campaign

Prepare for ‘book now’ on Instagram! It’s the social platform taking travel by storm | EyeforTravel

instagramIn a recent In EyeforTravel research paper they made one thing very clear – the photo-sharing platform cannot be ignored.

When Instagram launched back in 2010, it seemed like a great idea. By September 2011 it had 10m users and it wasn’t long before Facebook had spotted this fast-growing visually driven opportunity.

By April 2012, Instagram had been drawn into the Facebook-fold and has been pretty unstoppable ever since. According to recent EyeforTravel reserach, the fast-growing social platform has 400 million monthly users, up by around 25% on the previous year.

Another stand out number of the research is that 60% of travel companies today are including Instagram in their marketing mix, putting it behind only Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn.

60% include Instagram in their marketing mix

95% the number of marketers using Facebook

75% of brands incorporate social content directly onto their brand website

Source: EyeforTravel

Given how much travellers love to take snaps and how shareable Instagram had made this, not to Facebook’s vested interest, this isn’t surprising, However, there are some interesting developments on the horizon. According to James Quarles, Global Head of Business and Brand Development at Instagram: “Inspiring people to ‘Book Now’ on Instagram is already being adopted by the industry, including major hotel brands and airlines.”

The results, he adds, “are promising”.

Battling it out for marketing dollars

While it comes as no surprise that Facebook is the clear winner in the battle for marketing dollars (95% of marketers today use it), a number of newer networks are making inroads – Pinterest, Vimeo, Foursquare and Tumblr all make the top 10.

“Imagery is a critical part of the travel decision-making process and our research, which shows the rise of a number of sites specialising in photos and video, bears this out,” says Alex Hadwick, head of research at EyeforTravel.

Looking ahead, this points to growing opportunities for travel companies to engage in more direct marketing to consumers through social media channels. “They are also now able to close the loop, with several of these sites adding ‘buy buttons’ that can redirect to a brand’s booking pages,” says Hadwick.

The incorporation of travel companies onto social media is also happening in reverse, with brands placing social media directly onto their brand websites. Over three-quarters of those surveyed report that they incorporate social media content onto their websites already, and nearly half host blogs and videos.

Here is the link to the full report: Utilizing User Generated Content

Source: Prepare for ‘book now’ on Instagram! It’s the social platform taking travel by storm | Travel Industry News & Conferences – EyeforTravel

State of Wi-Fi Report Shows Rapid Expansion of In-Flight Internet Service – Skift

An annual report from Routehappy reveals that in-flight Internet is a rapidly growing commodity among global airlines and that across adoption, American carriers are leading the way.

60 carriers around the world now offer in flight Internet, up from 52 last year.  As a result, passengers can expect to find connectivity on about 36% of miles flown around the globe.

Higher quality internet connections are also on the rise according to Jason Rabinowitz, Routehappy’s data manager.

Last year, connections capable of streaming video only accounted for 1% of all miles flown while this year that percentage jumped to 6%. Medium and slow speed connections in this year’s study accounted for 53% and 41% of miles flown respectively where flights had internet. A medium connection defined in this report is capable of full web browsing and some media streaming while a slow connection can only handle basic web-based tasks like email.

That adoption of higher speed internet should further improve though 2016 as a new batch communication technology reaches the market. Gogo’s 2KU service, launched last year, provides transfer speeds of up to 70 Mb/s and is currently being installed across numerous aircraft and carriers. Inmarsat, a largely European solution, is also now coming online.

In terms of general Wi-Fi adoption, the report also found that American carriers seem to be leading the rest of the world, no doubt driven by the ultra-connected user base. Delta, United, and American Airlines (in that order) lead the world in airline seat miles with Wi-Fi capable aircraft, while carriers like Virgin America have their entire fleets outfitted with internet capability.

For passengers flying long haul routes, however, the legacy U.S. carriers aren’t necessarily the best bet. Emirates, which outfits many of its long haul routes on Wi-Fi equipped jumbo jets operates nearly double the number of miles that the next carrier does, while Lufthansa has 100% of its long haul fleet equipped with service. The best legacy carrier for inflight Wi-Fi was measured to be United Airlines.

Routehappy’s full dataset can be found over on its site.

Below is an infographic with the highlights.

Source: State of Wi-Fi Report Shows Rapid Expansion of In-Flight Internet Service – Skift

Adobe boosts its travel marketing business by about 50% in a year – Tnooz

If Adobe’s name still brings to mind design software like Photoshop and InDesign, the company wants you to think again. Thousands of companies, including two-thirds of Fortune 50 companies, are using one of its three main cloud computing businesses, the Adobe Marketing Cloud, to help handle more than 30 trillion transactions a year. Many of those companies are travel brands, from small budget airlines, such as Eurowings, to large hotel chains, like the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.Adobe has been warming to the travel and hospitality sector.

In late 2014, it created a specific group to focus on it and put Mohammad Gaber in charge. In the past year, the company has roughly grown its travel and hospitality by about half, Gaber said in an interview.

Last October’s deal in which Adobe Marketing signed Etihad Airways was emblematic.

The big-spending airline will tap Adobe’s digital marketing capabilities across direct sales, loyalty, social media and other areas of its businesses, such as cargo.

Gaber said that travel marketing departments are failing to capture full value today. There is a lot of talk of personalization, but many businesses aren’t laying the foundations of data, assets, and delivery needed for success. He added:

“The ability to create, manage, and deliver text, images, and video is often overlooked, as is the proper integration and process change management needed.”Gaber said an ideal scenario for implementing a personalization program is to bring together a coordinated team that has people from various siloed parts of the marketing business, such as a data analyst, an IT expert, a creative professional, sales rep, and the marketers.

A coordinated effort is needed to have as much of a 360-degree look at information as possible. He said marketers shouldn’t be afraid of the “geek speak” of the tech guys and the data analysts. Based on his conversations with clients, Gaber’s vision of where travel marketing is headed emphasizes personalized, chat-style interactions with customers. Eventually travel brands may get to a point where, after a customer books a trip, they’ll be following up on customer service and up-sells via a text-messaging-style platform like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

To anticipate the open-ended direction of marketing, Adobe’s goal is to have an “open” platform. Some industry critics say that that effort remains a work-in-progress. Gaber responded by mentioning several examples of Adobe’s tools “playing nicely” with third-party systems. He said that its behavioural analytics tool integrates well with many content management systems. To provide localization, Adobe also synchs up with major digital translation vendors via an open API, with server-to-server integration.

Source: Adobe boosts its travel marketing business by about 50% in a year – Tnooz