Categories
Transport

New United CEO Scott Kirby Comes Out Firing

United Airlines’ Scott Kirby, who took over as CEO last week in the wake of Oscar Munoz’s retirement, is wasting no time establishing his authority.

Kirby cut 13 high-level executives in a cash-saving move on Friday as the coronavirus pandemic has throttled the industry financially. A day earlier, he told an online investor conference that the airline absolutely would not declare bankruptcy, and that he thought flying was safe enough to not block the middle seats on planes from being sold.

Well, he did build a reputation as an open – some might say abrasive – executive while at American Airlines.

Kirby is eliminating 13 of United’s 67 officer positions, all effective on Oct. 1. That’s the day after the restrictions on firing employees runs out per the federal government’s rules for airlines accepting billions of dollars in stimulus package grants and loans.

“While there are glimmers of good news in our July schedule — we expect to be down about 75% versus 90% right now — travel demand is still a very long way from where it was at the end of last year and the financial impact on our business remains severe,” United said in a written statement as reported by CNBC.

The cuts are in response to the loss of nearly 90 percent of business for United and all airlines, as the demand for travel has dropped dramatically compared to last year and beyond.

But Kirby defiantly said during the investor conference a day before that he has no plans for the airline to go bankrupt.

“Zero percent, no chance,” Kirby said. “It’s worse for shareholders. It’s worse for creditors. It’s worse for employees. It’s worse for every constituent that we have.”

To that end, Kirby also said he won’t sacrifice potential sales by blocking middle seats, as some airlines have done. As the blog The Points Guy noted, Kirby said the airline’s cleaning process, air circulation and a requirement for passengers and crew to wear face masks make it a safe experience.

“Airplanes don’t have social distancing — we’re not going to be six feet apart,” he said. “But an airplane environment is incredibly safe.”

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Travel

New Research Shows Branded Consumer Searches Highest in Travel

When it comes to hospitality and travel, a majority of consumer searches (62 percent) feature a brand term, according to a new report by Uberall, Inc., a platform managing digital experiences for local businesses.

The figure is attributed to the high level of brand familiarity and loyalty among today’s travel searchers.

A branded search is when a consumer seeks out a particular company or product such as “Carnival” or “Hilton” while an unbranded search lacks brand-specific terms. Examples could include “ocean cruises” or “four-star hotels,” among others.

Uberall recently examined both branded and unbranded consumer search trends, analyzing 22 global brands with 48,000 locations and more than 450,000 small and mid-size businesses (SMBs) between August 2018 and August 2019.

While branded searches were found to be highest in travel, it was shown to be the lowest in the B2B segment, with 88 percent of searches unbranded and thus meaning a majority of consumers were likely more open to discovery.

“Companies need to optimize for both types of search and especially unbranded queries,” said Greg Sterling, VP of Insights at Uberall, in a statement. “If you’re Bank of America, for example, you need to rank for your own terms but also for searches like ‘best 0% APR credit cards’ or ‘lowest mortgage rates.'”

Citing Google data, Uberall reports that 90 percent of consumers typically begin their online research without a particular brand in mind and found that they discover global brands more often through unbranded searches (58 percent) compared to branded searches (42 percent).

Interestingly though, Uberall found that branded searches increased by 136 percent over the study’s one-year period versus just 75 percent for unbranded searches.

“It’s critical to understand how potential customers are discovering your business and locations—or your competitors,” said Brad Fagan, Senior Content Strategist and author of the report. “The more branded queries the better, but most consumers are searching without a specific name in mind, which translates into a battle for visibility; and that’s even more true among SMBs, where awareness is much lower.”

“Brands often assume people seek them out directly, but failure to address unbranded searches means they could be missing out on a lot of potential exposure,” added Sterling. “Having a clear understanding of consumer search behavior is essential in optimizing your digital marketing. And in a time of budget constraints, that’s more critical than ever.”

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Categories
Destinations

Hawaiian Airlines names new flight operations VP

Hawaiian Airlines announced the promotion of Capt. Robert “Bob” Johnson, its operations chief pilot, to vice president of flight operations. 

Johnson will direct all flight operation activities and administrative duties for Hawaiian Airlines, including pilot qualifications. Johnson replaces Ken Rewick, who is retiring after more than four decades with Hawaiian.

Johnson joined Hawaiian in 2019 as operations chief pilot after spending more than 30 years with American Airlines, where he served as managing director of flight operations.

Rewick, who was born and raised in Hawaii, retires after 42 years with Hawaiian and 13 years as head of flight operations.

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Categories
Transport

Airbus warns of new production cuts as finances diminish

Faury said the current production rate would remain valid for between two or three months but then it would be time to ‘finalise our evaluation and draw the consequences’

“Our finances have been diminishing at an unprecedented rate, which could threaten the existence of our company,” Faury said. Image: Airbus

Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury has warned employees of new production cuts at the European aircraft maker due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus, saying that its finances were diminishing at an unprecedented rate, according to a letter obtained by AFP Monday.

The company had said on April 8 that it had cut production of its planes by around a third, as global airlines scale back their plans in an unprecedented crisis for the industry.

Faury said in a letter to staff that this production rate would remain valid for between two or three months but then it would be time to “finalise our evaluation and draw the consequences”.

“In just a few weeks, we lost around a third of our production. And to be honest, we must be ready for it to get even worse,” added Faury.

“Our finances have been diminishing at an unprecedented rate, which could threaten the existence of our company,” he said, explaining this is why it had acted quickly to obtain some 15 billion euros ($16.2 billion) in additional credit lines.

The chief executive of Airbus’s main rival Boeing, David Calhoun, warned Monday that resuming dividend payments could take three to five years as the company girds for a slow air travel recovery in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Arabian Business magazine: Read the latest edition online

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Categories
Destinations

Australia and New Zealand Consider Their Own ‘Travel Bubble’

The Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand are currently discussing reopening tourism between the two countries with what is being referred to as a “trans-Tasman bubble.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, both countries have halted leisure travel, limiting travel to only “critical” trips, which means residents can only travel for essential, urgent, or medical reasons.

However, as of last week, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are considering using a sort of “travel bubble” as the first step into resuming travel.

“If there is any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that’s New Zealand Morrison told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The idea came about after Ardern has previously used the concept of a “bubble” to help New Zealand residents picture who they should be limiting their interactions with.

According to Fox News, Australia Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told Sky News on Sunday that while “an arrangement with New Zealand” is in the works, it is “very hard to see” if Australia will resume tourism with the US or the UK any time soon.

Additionally, there is no confirmed time frame for easing travel restrictions to make this “trans-Tasman bubble.” Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy believes it will take at least three or four months for international travel to recommence.

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Categories
Cruises

Expedia names CEO receives new capital

Expedia Group has a new CEO: longtime board member Peter
Kern.

Chairman Barry Diller
has been at the helm of the company since the December ouster of previous CEO
Mark Okerstrom.

In addition to Kern’s new role, Expedia made a flurry of
other announcements Thursday. Expedia is raising $3.2 billion in new capital, executives
will see reduced salaries and employees will be furloughed. Eric Hart, who has
been acting CFO for the past five months, will become the permanent CFO.

The moves were all approved by the board of directors.

“We have one mandate — to conserve cash, survive, and use
this time to reconstruct a stronger enterprise to serve the future of travel,”
Diller said in a statement. “We are unable to make any predictions as to when
travel will rebound but emphatically believe that it will, for … if there’s
life, there’s travel.”

Kern has been a member of Expedia’s board since 2005. In
2018, he became the vice chairman. He has worked alongside Diller to run the
company since the management shakeup in December.

“In these last five months, he has shown outstanding
leadership in all aspects of the business, first in a wide reorganization and
then dealing with the impact of the corona crisis on our business,” Diller
said. “He now knows all aspects of the business, and we are truly lucky that he
is now available to devote his full time to Expedia.”

Kern was most recently the CEO of Tribune Media and brings
decades of experience in leadership roles in public and private companies.

Hart has been with Expedia for 11 years. Before his stint as
interim CFO, he had been responsible for group strategy, business development,
global mergers and acquisitions, investments, and CarRentals.com.

Expedia’s $3.2 billion in new capital comes from a $1.2
billion equity investment from two private equity firms and around $2 billion
in new debt financing.

Investment funds managed by Apollo Global Management and
Silver Lake are making the equity investment.

Each will receive a seat on the board: David Sambur, co-lead
partner of Apollo’s private equity business, and Greg Mondre, co-CEO and
managing partner of Silver Lake.

Expedia said its senior executives will take salary cuts of
25% for the balance of the year. Meanwhile, the chairman, CFO and board members
will not receive cash compensation for the remainder of the year.

The company will implement furloughs and reduced work week
programs “for select volume-based teams with limited work right now,” Expedia
said. 

Impacted employees will retain healthcare benefits and, if
they are furloughed, Expedia will cover employee premiums. 

Expedia said it will also seek government aid in various
countries when feasible to help employees.

The company will cease 401(k) matching contributions in the
U.S. through 2020.

Parents, caregivers and employees with personal needs will
have the option of a voluntary reduced work week program. If they participate,
their work week will be shortened to three days.

Furloughs and both mandatory and optional reduced work week
programs will be implemented through at least Aug. 31, at which point the
programs will be evaluated.

Diller said Expedia has seen “an extraordinary number of
challenges” since the coronavirus crisis began, with call volume spiking 500%. 

Every day, the travel leadership team has met since March
16, the chairman said. 

“There is nothing like a crisis to show the mettle of our
executives, and I can say that without exception, none have been wanting,” he
said.

Diller remains confident Expedia will “have a far finer
operation coming out of this crisis than going into it.”

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Categories
Travel

How Marriott's New Cleaning Protocols Will Make Future Guests Feel at Ease


When travel restrictions brought on by the coronavirus eventually do lift, Marriott’s new cleanliness initiative will help guests feel comfortable as soon as they arrive for a much-needed trip.

a man holding a box: Meet the Global Cleanliness Council.

Helmed by a variety of experts, the hotel company’s newly announced “Global Cleanliness Council” will aim to uphold new cleaning protocols at each of their locations. In addition to Marriott’s senior leaders from roles like housekeeping and food safety, the council will include food safety scientists, infectious disease specialists and professors of food microbiology, according to a press release shared on Tuesday. 

“We want our guests to understand what we are doing today and planning for in the near future in the areas of cleanliness, hygiene and social distancing so that when they walk through the doors of one of our hotels, they know our commitment to their health and safety is our priority,” President and CEO of Marriott International, Arne Sorenson, said. “It’s equally important to us that our associates know the changes we are making to help safeguard their health as they serve our guests.”

As part of the initiative, Marriott will also roll out new technology, including electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant, to clean rooms and public spaces. Ultraviolet light technology will also be used to sanitize keys and devices shared by guests and associates.

Upon check-in guests will notice a difference as the company is especially increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting routines around high-touch areas around the hotel.

Partitions at the front desk will help to maintain a safe distance between people and hand-sanitizing stations will be increased throughout hotels. Guests will also be able to check into and unlock their rooms with their phones, eliminating the need touching or exchanging keys. The furniture in public areas will also be strategically rearranged to ensure social-distancing measures between guests.

Earlier this month, Marriott launched a program to provide free hotel rooms to first responders and medical workers in the U.S. cities most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C.

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Categories
Destinations

Whats new in Oaxaca

Oaxaca City, the capital of the state of Oaxaca, known for its eclectic art scene, colonial vibe, ancient ruins and iconic gastronomy, is one of the true beating hearts of the entire country — a microcosm, if you will, of what makes Mexico so fantastic. Oaxaca is showing off a host of new hotels and activities this year.

Hotels

Opened in 2019, Grupo Habita debuted its Hotel Escondido, the urban version of its stunning beach resort 40 minutes outside of Puerto Escondido, along the coast. Hotel Escondido in Oaxaca City is true to Grupo Habita form: sleek, bohemian, elevated design that focuses on clean aesthetics and local touches. Hotel Escondido offers just 12 rooms built into a restored 19th-century house, alongside a newly built tower. The boutique hotel is elegant, understated and infused with artisanal elements to give it a sense of place, from the locally made handicrafts to the exposed brick, terra cotta and wood. The hotel features an onsite restaurant, pool, library and boutique. It is a 10-minute walk from Oaxaca’s historical center.

Group Posadas has opened a Grand Fiesta Americana in Oaxaca, as well. The new urban resort has a delicate desert design, with succulents, cacti, tile artwork and neutral, sandy colors. The hotel has a restaurant, meeting facilities, fitness center and pool.

Casa Criollo has been a culinary institution in Oaxaca for four years. But at the end of 2019, the restaurant opened a guesthouse,  conceived by Chef Enrique Olvera and architect Javier Sanchez. Located behind the restaurant, the guest house can accommodate four guests in two bedrooms. The zen-like space is decorated minimally, much like the restaurant, but with no luxury spared, from the built-in sauna and outdoor pool to daily breakfast and complimentary mezcal included. 

Restaurants

While not particularly new, restaurant Oaxacalifornia has been flying under the radar in the city, and is worth a visit for its light, airy decor, and fusion menu that brings together Oaxacan specialties with those from Ensenada in Baja. Picture bright ceviches, fresh tostadas and succulent moles, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows, earth and slate-colored walls, boho-chic decorative touches like stacked wooden crates, hanging plants, and beautiful murals.

Experiences

One of Oaxaca’s most vibrant celebrations is Dia de Los Muertos, held at the end of October/beginning of November each year. This year, luxury tour operator Journey Mexico is offering a Day of the Dead experience, in conjunction with a limited block of rooms at the five-star hotel Quinta Real.

The Day of the Dead experience begins in the markets of Oaxaca, where your clients will watch locals prepare for the festivities. Watch how traditional altars are created, while learning about their significance and the role they play in the holiday. The itinerary brings guests to the homes of locals, as well, to see the altars they have created. In the evening, the program includes a visit to a local cemetery to experience a twilight vigil and to see how the graves are decorated with glittering candles and bright flowers. The experience continues with the famous parade in Oaxaca’s north valley, where locals dress in skeleton-themed costumes and take to the streets.

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Categories
Cruises

New Crystal Program Offers Lower Deposits Good Through 2022

Crystal’s just-launched Crystal Assured Savings program lets travelers make a $500 deposit by June 30, 2020, for an additional 2.5 percent savings on any seven-night or longer voyage through 2022. Travelers have until March 31, 2021, to select their preferred voyage.

The extra savings range from $50 for over $6,000, depending on sailing and category. The offer is good on any ocean, river, expedition or yacht cruise.

Travel advisors will earn commission on the deposit as well as locking in new bookings for the future with full commission, less applicable savings.

“Our travel partners are part of the Crystal family, and we remain dedicated to supporting their business and working with them through these unprecedented times,” said Carmen Roig, Crystal’s senior vice president of marketing and sales. “The Crystal Assured Savings program equips them with an honest, simple tool – and meaningful savings for their clients – to continue to grow their luxury business and share the Crystal Experience with travelers who are looking to explore the world at a later date.”

The additional savings of 2.5 percent are on top of other Crystal special savings that may apply including two-for-one fares, Book Now Savings, Crystal Society Savings, Early Final Payment Savings, Back-to-Back Savings, Combination Voyage Savings and available future cruise credits.

“The Crystal Assured Savings is a win for our clients, given the array of opportunities to lock in savings on Crystal’s incredible luxury experiences now, as they look ahead to traveling again in the future,” said Eric Maryanov, president of All-Travel in Los Angeles. “Likewise, the program presents a wonderful chance for travel advisors to stimulate business during today’s uncertain environment, while also building a strong foundation for tomorrow that will keep their businesses growing. With Crystal Assured Savings, Crystal is making it possible for the travel community to stay connected and inspired beyond the challenges we are currently facing, and helping advisors weather the storm.”

Another advisor agrees. “There is no better time to start planning a Crystal vacation, with so many savings opportunities available to both new and returning guests. … Crystal’s new program helps ensure that we all sail through this time together,” said Leah Bergner, senior travel advisor for Coastline Travel Advisors in Orange County, Calif.

Terms and conditions for Crystal Assured Savings can be found here.

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Categories
Destinations

Tourism New Zealand Announces New Peer-to-Peer Trade Campaign

WHY IT RATES: Tourism New Zealand understands that peer-to-peer communication is one of the most effective ways to drive interest. —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer

Tourism New Zealand announces its newest trade ambassadors to be featured in a fall promotional campaign.

The new trade ambassadors are:

—McKenzie McMillan–The Travel Group, Ensemble Travel Group, Vancouver, Canada

—Myste Wylde–Protravel International
Austin, Texas

—Andrea Espinosa Godinez – Harmon Travel, Signature Travel Network, Boise, Idaho

Tourism New Zealand recognizes the trade community is an essential part of promoting the destination, with peer-to-peer communication being one of the most effective means to build preference and address the barriers agents have to increase New Zealand bookings.

Michelle Rosenberg, senior trade manager—trade partnerships, said “advisors are our most powerful destination advocates with nearly 70 percent of Americans booking their New Zealand holiday through the travel trade.

“It’s incredibly important we continue to provide the trade with innovative and engaging ways to inspire, and ultimately, convert their clients. Putting the ambassadors at the forefront of our trade marketing gives us the opportunity to educate a much larger travel advisor audience and deliver trusted, authentic messaging.”

The ambassadors were selected in partnership with their consortia for their strong standing in their agency community, social media outreach, and enthusiasm to partake in the ‘WOW’ experiences in New Zealand.

The campaign is the second time Tourism New Zealand has used local ambassadors—in 2018, ‘Journey of Manaakitanga’ (hospitality) over delivered on campaign targets, with close to 10,000 advisors visiting the campaign hub on traveltrade.newzealand.com, which houses video, itineraries and planning support tools.

The ambassador campaign will combine Tourism New Zealand’s paid and owned channels with a focus on the ambassadors sharing their experiences through personal and consortia social media.

In addition to attending destination training events, the ambassadors will also have a chance to show their fellow consortia members a selection of amazing experiences as they’re hosted on a themed fam trip to New Zealand in May.

In addition, the ambassadors will be featured in three new training videos, set to premiere in August 2020.

The campaign themes are:

Selling ‘WOW’ Experiences

Experience some of the most unique experiences New Zealand has to offer, from wildlife encounters to bespoke activities in some of our most unforgettable natural landscapes.

Using Storytelling to Excite Clients & Motivate Bookings

Meet locals and learn the stories of New Zealand people and culture. These colorful stories will give life to your New Zealand sales.

New Zealand’s Food & Wine Offerings

Enjoy the unique tastes of New Zealand and see first-hand how food & wine can be interwoven into your New Zealand itineraries.

New Zealand is unlike any destination and this campaign will show advisors how they can include one or many ‘WOW’ experiences in their client’s itinerary.

Visitors to New Zealand arrive as strangers but leave as whanau (family), and what better way to share the unique Kiwi welcome than through our ambassadors’ personal experiences.

New Zealand has never been easier to get to–this year alone New Zealand will welcome three new routes from Air New Zealand via New York and from American Airlines with LAX/Christchurch and DFW/Auckland flights.

Advisors can interact with the campaign through Tourism New Zealand’s owned, paid and partner media channels to become experts in a range of New Zealand itineraries.

Advisors wanting to increase their knowledge of New Zealand and experience their own ‘WOW’ itinerary can plan an independent famil as part of Tourism New Zealand’s Explore PLUS Program.

SOURCE: Tourism New Zealand press release.

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