Monthly Archives: May 2012

This week in Travel and Tourism — 5/21/2012


Colorado and Florida have cheapest domestic fares, says ARC

Travelers departing from Colorado and Florida are the most likely to find the lowest airfares, according to ARC statistics. ARC said that based on an examination of average fares for 12 months ending April 30, 2012, Colorado was the least expensive state for a roundtrip domestic flight. Looking at a six-year period, ARC found that from Jan. 1, 2006 through Dec. 31, 2011, the least expensive airfares were in Florida.


Southwest looks beyond U.S. borders to Mexico, Caribbean

Southwest is becoming an international airline as it begins taking over AirTran Airways’ routes to Mexico and the Caribbean after the airlines’ merger. Southwest recently signed a deal for a new reservations system capable of handling international bookings and is seeking approval to build a new international terminal in Houston to add as many as 25 flights a day. “We have always wanted to get to a point where we added international capabilities,” said Southwest Chief Commercial Officer Bob Jordan.

AA ramps up personalization in selling and tailoring services

AA is making efforts to “personalize” air travel by offering tailored, relevant fares and services based on such customer attributes as previous itinerary searches, a traveler’s flight history and frequent-flyer status.

United Airlines withdraws preboarding privileges for families

United Airlines has dropped its policy allowing families with small children to board ahead of other passengers. Fliers with children not holding first- or business-class tickets must now board with their assigned boarding groups.


Royal Caribbean announces plans to upgrade reservations system

Royal Caribbean will undertake a five-year program to upgrade its reservations system, the company has announced. Through the $100 million initiative, the cruise line seeks to “help travel agents sell cruises more easily and service their clients more effectively by leveraging the latest technologies,” it says.


USTOA launches Facebook promotion

The U.S. Tour Operators Association has launched a travel sweepstakes through Facebook that is aimed at increasing consumer awareness of and participation in the packaged-travel industry. Four USTOA members — Pacific Delight Tours, Go Ahead Tours, Collette Vacations and Globus — have provided travel product worth $40,000 for Around The World With USTOA Sweepstakes, which will take place from May 29 through June 25, with one of four prizes awarded each week.


Report: “Disney” is top keyword in searches for vacation destinations

An analysis by AdGooroo of keyword-search frequencies on the Internet has concluded that “Disney” is the most-searched travel destination from January through February 2012, at 7.3%. Las Vegas came in second at 6.3%, followed by Florida at 5.7% and the Caribbean at 3.2%. The study also showed a significant interest in deals, with 13.3% of keywords searched related to discounts.

Apple launches fitness vacation packages

Apple Vacations launched Fitcations, a fitness vacation program that kicks off with a weeklong Zumba party at the Now Amber Puerto Vallarta on June 16. The program is run in conjunction with Fit Bodies, an agency that places fitness, yoga and sport professionals at resort facilities for a teaching vacation.

The Power of Images in Social Media

Pictures have always been a way to capture moments in time that you and your friends can look back on. Now, with social media, the majority of those photo memories are instantly uploaded onto photo-sharing social channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Even your favorite brands are using photos to push products because they are easily consumed, transfer information quickly, usually require less reading and can project a great deal of information. Pictures allow users to visualize the story a brand is telling and garner more engagement than anything else on social media.

Pinterest and Instagram can be extremely valuable for brands that have visual products because images catch and hold the attention of shoppers by offering much more stimulating information than text. It’s like allowing your customers an opportunity to window-shop online. On Instagram alone, more than 150 million photos have been shared and at one point, users were uploading 60 photos per second on Pinterest. That’s not all; most of those photos end up being shared on other social networks such as Facebook.

Facebook holds the trophy for most uploaded images with 50 billion, cumulatively. A study by Harvard Business School estimates that 70 percent of all activities on Facebook – from “liking” and commenting to looking at friends’ content or uploading your own – revolves around photos. Facebook will rank posts higher and will serve more impressions if the post contains an image. The ability to extend the exposure of your message and increase your chances of that message reaching the target simply increases your chances of action on your message. And with the addition of Facebook’s Timeline, brands are able to make a bolder visual statement via the prominent cover photo feature and the ability to “highlight” a post, which doubles the size of the photo on your Timeline.

In all, it’s safe to say that images are one of the most powerful tools in social media. Facebook may agree, as they did just purchase Instagram for $1 billion.

This week in Travel and Tourism — 5/14/2012


Abu Dhabi opens tourism office in New York

The Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority has begun on-the-ground U.S. operations, opening an office in New York City. Abu Dhabi is promoting the emirate with a combination of marketing efforts ranging from a “takeover” of Times Square to branding collateral in the city’s taxis.


Mexico hotel occupancy up 7.6% through April

Mexico saw record hotel occupancy for the first four months of the year, chalking up a 7.6% increase over the same period in 2011, according to the Ministry of Tourism. From Jan. 1 through April 29, a total of 185,550 guestrooms were booked. Mexico’s 70 leading destinations posted occupancy numbers that exceeded those of 2008, the barometer by which all other years since have been measured.


American requests permission to expand Brazil service

American has asked the Transportation Department for the rights to add 17 weekly flights to its U.S.-Brazil service this fall.

The carrier plans to add a second daily flight on its New York-Sao Paulo and Miami-Rio de Janeiro routes on Oct. 1 and Dec. 15, respectively.

Allegiant expands Hawaii plans

Allegiant Air will add five more Hawaii routes, including a Maui segment, in mid-November. From Bellingham, Wash., the discount airline will launch service to Maui on Nov. 14 and to Honolulu the following day.


Revenue up more than 15% at Regent Seven Seas

Regent Seven Seas Cruises reported a 15.5% hike in revenue for the first quarter of the year, to $119.9 million — a record first-quarter result. However, net income dropped to $400,000, down from $1.5 million last year. Net yields increased 5.2%, driven by a 4.7-point rise in occupancy, the three-ship luxury line said.

Celebrity completes upgrade of Millennium ships

Celebrity Cruises has completed its $140 million, two-year project to outfit Millennium-class ships with amenities and services introduced on Solstice-class vessels. The Celebrity Millennium was the fourth and final ship in the class to be “Solsticized.” AquaClass category staterooms, the Qsine dining venue, the Michael’s Club lounge, Cellarmasters wine bar and the Celebrity iLounge were among the upgrades to the Millennium-class ships.

This week in Travel and Tourism — 5/7/2012


New national tourism strategy aims to be boom for industry

The Obama administration’s unveiling of the first-ever National Travel and Tourism Strategy has been met with praise from sectors of the travel and tourism industry. The initiative seeks to enhance coordination between the industry and the federal government regarding policies through a new national travel and tourism office. The strategy also aims to launch various steps that would boost international tourism in order to reach a goal of drawing 100 million foreign visitors to the U.S. each year by 2021.

McCarran menu of int’l flights expanding

The world is coming to Las Vegas, with the help of some major international airlines that will be initiating service in the next couple of months.


Opening of new Berlin airport delayed indefinitely

Lufthansa and Airberlin are scrambling to rearrange their newly expanded flight schedules after Tuesday’s announcement that the opening of the city’s unified airport, Berlin Brandenburg International, has been postponed indefinitely.


American Airlines outlines comeback strategy

American Airlines says it plans to increase usage of domestic code-shares and boost international travel to 44% of passenger totals by 2017. AMR Corp., American’s parent, filed for bankruptcy protection last year. American said in a memo to employees that it would also use more regional jets to better fit demand in smaller markets as part of its efforts to boost annual revenue by $1 billion within the next five years.

Airlines scale back programs for unlimited flying

“Lifetime” memberships for unlimited flying have proved too costly for airlines. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average lifespan for an American is 78.5 years. However, some airlines offer flexible flying packages for a limited amount of time, such as months or years.

Spirit new bag charge prompts calls for greater fee transparency

The Consumer Travel Alliance is aiming an appeal for wider airline fee transparency at the Department of Transportation in the wake of a new baggage fee from Spirit Airlines. The group criticized Spirit’s $100 charge for carry-on bags checked at gates, calling it a “wake-up call” for the department.


Costa bolsters safety procedures

Costa Cruises has implemented measures aimed at enhancing passenger safety — a result of the loss of 32 lives following the capsizing of Costa Concordia. At a press conference and interview with Travel Weekly aboard the 3,800-passenger Costa Fascinosa on Monday, Costa President Gianni Onorato said, “We will never forget the victims and those who suffered in his tragedy” when the Concordia ran aground.


Priceline continues rapid growth

Strong international hotel sales pushed’s profits up 74%, with the online travel agency reporting first-quarter income of $182 million. Priceline said international bookings increased 54%, driven by strong results from European sites and, as well as strength from domestic car rentals.

ETC. debuts hotel and cruise searches has launched two new search features on Hotel Search and Cruise Search. The search options integrate information from the Hotel and Travel Index and Official Cruise Guide databases, respectively, and are accessible from any page on via the “Cruises” and “Hotels” tabs on the right-hand section of the main navigation bar.

Microsegmentation allows targeted offerings for consumers

Technology has created new methods for businesses to classify potential clients’ behaviors based on factors as seemingly trivial as their Web browsers and then fashion offerings that would be most appealing, this feature says. This opens up new opportunities for businesses to match their products with consumers’ preferences and offer a consistent level of service at every interaction.

Plans progress on nation’s first in-airport liquor store

McCarran Airport is poised to welcome what is reportedly the first in-airport liquor store located outside of a duty-free area. The 1,350-square-foot Liquor Library will occupy space at the south end of the Terminal 1 baggage claim area. Its principals said they will invest more than a half-million dollars in the project, with plans to be open by early fall.

This week in Travel and Tourism — 4/30/2012


Jamaica draws more visitors in 2011 despite drop in U.S. arrivals

Jamaica reported 1.95 million stopover visitors in 2011, an increase of 1.6% from 2010, according to the Jamaica Tourist Board. U.S. arrivals totaled 1.26 million, a 1.4% decrease. Cruise arrivals numbered 1.13 million, a 23.7% increase. Latin America led the visitor surge in 2011, recording a 23.4% increase in stopover arrivals. The main markets were Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Panama.


Low-cost carriers see double-digit growth in 2011

Leading low-cost carriers enjoyed double-digit revenue growth in 2011 and collective passenger numbers rose nearly 12%. The latest Airline Business low-cost carrier survey showed revenues grew strong at virtually all of the more than 30 carriers 2011 financial results were available for. Southwest Airlines remains the largest budget operator by revenue and passenger numbers. Its revenues jumped nearly 30% to $15.7 billion when accounting for its 2011 acquisition of fellow low-cost carrier AirTran. Excluding the merger, its revenues were up 6%. Passenger numbers reached 135 million.

Delta to buy oil refinery

Delta Air Lines through a subsidiary company agreed to acquire from Phillips 66 a Philadelphia-area oil refinery.

Delta subsidiary Monroe Energy, which plans to close the transaction by the end of June, will invest $250 million in the acquisition, refinery improvements and related sourcing and marketing agreements with Phillips 66 and BP.


15% of wealthy travelers plan to cruise this year

The spring 2012 survey by the American Affluence Research Center found that a lower percentage of people in wealthy households plan to cruise this year. “Plans to cruise during the next 12 months declined from 18% of the wealthiest U.S. households in the fall 2011 survey to 15% in the new survey. This decline is consistent with the softness in first-quarter bookings reported by the industry, but it still shows good potential for cruise sales,” a statement from the center said.

Norwegian Cruise Line reports improved first-quarter earnings

Norwegian Cruise Line reported stronger year-over-year earnings for the first quarter Monday morning. The Miami-based cruise operator, the world’s third-largest, made a $3.3 million profit in the quarter that ended March 31, compared to a loss of $7.9 million during the first quarter of 2011. Revenue increased from $495.5 million in the first three months of 2011 to $515.4 million this year.


TripAdvisor shares surge after Q1 report

TripAdvisor’s first-quarter profit increased 1.8% from a year earlier, as a jump in revenue from click-based and display-based advertising offset the effect of higher selling, technology and administrative costs during the company’s first full quarter as a public company.


Billionaire promises to build Titanic II by 2016

An Australian billionaire said Monday he’ll build a high-tech replica of the Titanic at a Chinese shipyard and its maiden voyage in late 2016 will be from England to New York, just like its namesake planned. Weeks after the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the original Titanic, Clive Palmer announced Monday he has signed a memorandum of understanding with state-owned Chinese company CSC Jinling Shipyard to build the Titanic II.

Join us for #RRchat this Friday

As our society becomes more engaged in social media, we turn to digital avenues to raise awareness for everything from stating our point of views on hot topics to promoting our businesses. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have replaced traditional means of getting our message across, reaching more people than ever before.

Join us for this Friday’s #RRchat on Twitter from 1-2 p.m. to talk about how Social Media is helping to drive awareness on topics such as your health status and the upcoming election season. Check out the questions below for a sneak peak of the discussion points.

1. Facebook now lets users ID themselves as organ donors. Will you share your organ donor status for all to see?
2. Every November, men around the world grow a mustache to raise funds and awareness for men’s health issues. Do you think this impacts others’ awareness on issues like prostate cancer?
3. With elections just around the corner, politicians are already sprucing up their social media presence. How can having a social presence help raise awareness about their stance on issues?

Talk to you on Friday!