It’s that time of the year again – a special time that happens every December … but only in Las Vegas. (I bet you thought I was talking about Christmas!) I DEFINITELY don’t want to diminish the importance or the joy of Christmas, but December is also the time for our annual college football bowl game, the Las Vegas Bowl.
This year will celebrate the 24th year of the game. I worked on the inaugural game as a student assistant in the UNLV Athletic Department. Now, 24 years later, I am still involved as a member of the Las Vegas Bowl Executive Committee and fulfilling the dedicated sponsorship for the LVCVA.
I am not sure people realize how important the game is to Las Vegas, which is why Rossi Ralenkotter, LVCVA president and CEO, and Rob Dondero, R&R Partners executive vice president, chased the game back in 1991. What motivates travel more than loyal college football fans the week before Christmas? Since the inaugural game in 1992 to last year’s game, the Las Vegas Bowl has generated an estimated $252,201,800 of non-gaming economic impact (that is food/lodging/entertainment) to Las Vegas during a time that’s typically a weaker travel period due to the holiday season. The Las Vegas Bowl has claimed seven sellouts in nine years between 2005 and 2013. Also, this will mark the third year in a row that the Las Vegas Bowl will be broadcast on ABC, showcasing Las Vegas to millions of viewers.
Some “Las Vegas Bowl firsts” that I think will be a surprise to most people: In 1995, Toledo and Nevada played in what was the first ever overtime bowl game in the Division 1 FBS level. The Las Vegas Bowl has claim to the FIRST WOMAN to play in an FBS-level game when Katie Hnida of the University of New Mexico entered the game to attempt an extra point. Sadly, it was blocked. In 2013, the game featured three scoring plays of 98 yards or longer and was the first bowl game in history that included a kickoff return to start each half.
And, you might just recognize a few of these names − he’s now known for being in Beast Mode and loving his Skittles, but Seattle Seahawks superstar running back Marshawn Lynch first gained fame in college when he was named MVP of the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl after rushing for three touchdowns and 199 yards for the Cal Bears. He won the Heisman Trophy the year AFTER playing in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer led his USC Trojans in the 2001 game against Utah. The world knows him as “Gronk,” but before Rob Gronkowski became a three-time Pro Bowl tight end, the future Super Bowl champion played right here in the Las Vegas Bowl as he helped his Arizona Wildcats earn a win over BYU in the 2008 edition. Before he became a 1,000-yard rusher in the NFL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin played right here in the Las Vegas Bowl, piling up 301 all-purpose yards and two scores while helping his Boise State Broncos defeat Arizona State in 2011.
So, while you deck the halls and trim the tree, don’t forget to make the Las Vegas Bowl a part of your December tradition!! This year’s game will be Saturday, Dec. 19, at 12:30 p.m. PT (3:30 p.m. ET) at Sam Boyd Stadium. The 24th Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl will be televised nationally on ABC, featuring BYU against Utah — and with that matchup comes two more Las Vegas Bowl firsts — it marks both the first time “The Holy War” has been contested in the postseason, and the first time the Cougars and Utes have battled on a neutral site.
The Game is not the thing anymore. … It’s the game around the Game that matters. It’s filled with opportunities to engage, hijack and win long before the Game starts.
We all know how brands have been showcasing their Super Bowl commercials in the weeks leading up to the Game. And, of course, there are brands like Newcastle that play around the Game. But this year, more and more brands and others looked for ways outside the official broadcast to play not just with the broadcast itself, but with other brands. What’s next year’s big thing around the Big Game? Start thinking now. It will start sooner than you think.
Newcastle’s Band of Brands
Newcastle couldn’t advertise in the network broadcast of the Super Bowl because Budweiser is the event’s official beer. However, for this latest effort, it used cost as an excuse. So, they, along with Droga5, put together the first crowdfunded Big Game ad.
“Not only did we create the world’s first crowdfunded Big Game ad, but I’m pretty sure we just made the cheapest Big Game ad ever,” Priscilla Flores Dohnert, brand director for Newcastle Brown Ale, said in a statement. “By asking other brands to team up with our brand, we are making a statement that Big Game advertising should be accessible to everyone, whether they can afford it or not.”
R&R’s client, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, was one of those 37 brands. The Las Vegas logo was featured twice in the ad. Las Vegas is another brand not allowed in the broadcast because of the strict gambling rules of the NFL. We considered a ton of ideas to get into the game. Then Band of Brands came along and we were in.
This isn’t the first time we’ve used not being allowed in the Game to our advantage. Years ago, the exclusion got us national news coverage of the ban on Vegas and great play for the brand (because hey, it’s a little hypocritical).
Doritos Gets Hijacked
Newcastle also hacked into Doritos’ ad contest with its own Newcastle-laced version of a Doritos ad entry. Here, Newcastle took advantage of an established Super Bowl brand, Doritos, and used it to their advantage. They weren’t the only ones. There was also an entry that was not as favorable to the corn-chip franchise.
Marshawn turned the Game into his own little brand builder. It’s almost as if he planned it all. … By never talking to the press, he put the talking Marshawn in demand. And the talking Marshawn came out in the week before the Big Game. I personally know that they reached out to many brands in a last-second attempt to make a fast and furious buck off the Marshawn mystique. Because the social channels are being watched as closely as they are putting something together quickly is possible. Skittles, Progressive, and Mortal Combat were three of the brands that answered the Marshawn call to great success.
Totino’s Early Super Bowl
Totino’s tweeted the entire Game a day early. Most of the world thought it was a mistake (until they thought about it). I hate to say it, but Totino’s was ahead of its time on this one. They almost did something that people didn’t get because it was such genius. What better way to stand out during the Big Game than to have all your tweets about the Big Game happen the day before? Big win for Totino’s.
So What’s Next?
More Brands Will Team Up
Band of Brands was just the beginning. Next year, look for more brands to join with other brands to get attention. There are some brands that just go together well, like Doritos and Newcastle. But they aren’t the only ones. And watch out for brands that don’t look like brands but they are. Marshawn was always a brand in waiting. He and some others knew it. Who will next year’s be? I’m kind of surprised that the Chevy Guy didn’t get an ad this year – the nervous everyman would have been a great spokesman for the right Big Game social play.
Someone Will Start Their Super Bowl Program a Year Before the Game
The planning has already started for next year. Brands will be looking to play further and further out. Like Totino’s knows – the Big Game is big enough for brands to start some ripples that will grow to waves as the Game approaches. OK, while I was writing this it already happened. And, of course, it was Newcastle. They are already teasing next year.
You Will Also See More Brands Attacking Other Brands During the Game
This is my favorite from @RealAvocadoFact.
From bidding on search words like Bud did, to using other brand’s platforms, to hacking into other brands’ hacking, brands will look more and more to get any advantage. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there – even for that cute Bud dog.
More Just Plain, Unexpected Weirdness Will Happen from People You Wouldn’t Expect with Lower Budgets
The element of surprise works incredibly well during the Big Game. Look at Loctite. Who would even expect that brand to be in the Game? And no one expected them to be considered a winner in the Game. Next time you’re looking for glue, that surprise should pay off. Even advertisers who wouldn’t be considered big brands can play if they come at it right. Jamie Casino, a lawyer in Georgia, spent $100,000 to do an ad that looks like it belongs in the Big Game. He ran it in one market during Sunday’s broadcast (he ran a similar piece last year). It went viral and now he is not only the talk of Law Game in Georgia – he is a sought-after player in social. Look for more insanity in single markets. Newcastle’s Band of Brands only ran in Palm Springs. If it’s an interesting enough play in a local market, it will get social play nationally.
Expect a Brand to Try and Own the Meme Bowl Next Year
Twitter memes are probably the most fun part of the Game. Check out the Katy Sharks, specifically #LEFTSHARK. Doritos did for commercials what your brand may be able to do with memes. It’s tons of great content and a true winner the entire week after the Game.
More Ads Will Try to Spur Serious Conversation
Because the real game is the social game around the Game, more brands will try and spur conversation using their ads. In the past, it was all about being a great ad that people talked about. Now it will be more about a great ad that starts people talking about something. Just because there were missteps this year with ads that didn’t hit the right tone and weren’t great ads doesn’t mean they didn’t work to some degree in social. And like the guy who owns this joint (Billy Vassiliadis of R&R Partners) says, “If you have a parity brand and you want to reach the millennials, teaming up with a great cause may get them to your website.” Nationwide’s ad stood out and started some talk (just not enough to drown out the dislike of the ad). Nationwide and some others in this year’s Game forgot the biggest rule – if you’re gonna make someone cry – make them CRY HAPPY. Imagine a great ad that spurs a continuing conversation after the Game about a cause close to a brand. Maybe something great could really be accomplished in this wonderful world. That would be an opportunity for a smart, caring brand to show the world what it’s all about.
Bottom Line – It isn’t about buying the spot anymore. It’s about playing the field in the Opportunistic Bowl … and the field is wide.
If you talk to any good creative they will tell you politics and good marketing don’t go together. They will tell you that there are too many formulas for political advertising … and that it is tough to be really creative. I have seen both sides. Some really creative political work; lots of formula work; and some really bad work (especially in the last election). And in my career, I have done all three. In the new movie NO, a desperate situation leads to creative marketing with almost a Pepsi-like political campaign. When Chile is faced with the daunting task of ousting its longtime leader, the powers that be decide they have to take risks. So, they do. And, surprise, it works. By taking risks, I mean treating the candidate or party like an agency would treat an actual brand. It doesn’t happen very often. Political marketing people think they are building a brand but, for the most part, they are just using formulas, like putting him or her with the family, showing them with the right peeps and reacting to what the other candidate or party does. And, of course, counting the lies. That is pretty much a proven route to at least a reasonably close campaign.
Obama did it right in his first election by creating the CHANGE brand. His platform was as intriguing as he was. The second time around, his brand was basically, I AM NOT ROMNEY. Which worked also because he was on the right side and he had very sophisticated polling methods. Sometimes that’s all you need. Well, that and a talking horse. You really can’t go wrong with a wealthy talking horse ad.
So what about when brands pick sides? We just did a piece for our client (the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority) that played off of the NSA controversy. The ad is featured here and did pretty well, garnering more than 10 times its cost in earned media. That is media earned from the publicity – not from paying to have something placed in media. Afterward, I listened to an interview with Stuart Elliott from The New York Times where he intimated that as long as it’s a one-time thing and Las Vegas doesn’t pick sides … it’s cute and fun. I may be putting words in his mouth, but he seemed to be saying that brands like Vegas can have fun with current events but not become an active part in them – at least a brand like Vegas.
At R&R, we pride ourselves on Building and Protecting the brands we work for. And there are no other agencies in the country that have a marketing arm and a political arm that are both successful in what they do to the level we are. But even around here, it’s an interesting argument. Can a brand pick a side on a public issue and ride with it … or is politics too serious and a brand like Vegas too fun? Will some of that serious issue taint the brand or will the issue turn and the brand suffer? Or are big issues just to negative and a brand like Vegas too positive? It usually makes for a really long meeting.
It’s a tough one. The truth of the Vegas brand is Adult Freedom. That is what led to What happens here, stays here® and most of what happens with the brand. That puts Vegas clearly on the side of privacy and all the freedoms that allows. Vegas is a place where you can do and be what you can’t at home – and no one will judge you. Seems pretty clear that Vegas is on the side against the NSA, whether it’s done in a fun way or a more serious way. Of course, the NSA has its own WHHSH aspects. I recently read a piece where a man tries to get a record of the information the NSA has on him through the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. The NSA responded by telling him that they can’t send him that information because they can’t reveal that they have it. That would be a risk to national security. Vegas is kind of the same way … if you tell on one person, everyone is in danger.
Comedians don’t stop until it’s not funny anymore. I use The Daily Show and The Colbert Report as a measure of what still has play and what doesn’t. But you could really use any late night talk show. Or you could just do a Google search, watch the chatter on Twitter. There are a million ways to see if something is still a story. Later this month, the head of the NSA is speaking here … so really the story is just building and building. So there is still play in the NSA.
One of the tweets I continue to see on Twitter is “What happens in Vegas, stays in an NSA database.” This is being passed around continually. It might actually be gaining momentum as a tweet meme. And some would argue a tweet like that is dangerous to the LVCVA brand. Whether you like it or not, social media erodes What happens here, stays here. That’s why we came up with the #knowthecode campaign in the first place. With so much being shared online, the whole WHHSH claim seems suspect. Las Vegas has to protect that … R&R has to protect that. But is there a cost to going too far in the real world versus the marketing world? Or is there any difference anymore? Has the social media world brought the two so close together that there are fewer lines between them? And is there a danger of a brand looking like it is taking itself too seriously
This isn’t really new. We have done this sort of thing before. When Biden said something he shouldn’t have, we commented. When Obama said something detrimental about Vegas, we shot back. We defended Prince Harry. But we didn’t go too far. We stayed in the brand’s voice and made it a short blast and not a continued effort. And we aren’t the only people doing it. A lingerie brand played off the NSA thing with a message to Snowden … again, pretty much a one-time shot. And a number of brands are defending the LGBT issues in this country … Oreo has done a fantastic job of this.
And in Brazil, protesters are picking and choosing brands to use against the government by their slogans. “Come to the street,” a Fiat slogan used to celebrate the Confederations Cup soccer championship, and “The Giant woke up,” a slogan for Johnnie Walker in Brazil, have both been seen on signs and on Twitter.
What if we do go too far? I guess there is always the danger of going so far that we are all arrested and put in a very dark cell where no one will ever find us. It would be hard to put the whole city of Vegas in such a cell, but certain R&R folk could disappear and no one would be the wiser. I am always looking over my shoulder. Then there is the danger of Vegas seeming un-American. What is more American than total self-gratification for a weekend? Nothing. I know this from personal experience as an American who does a lot of selfing. And there is the risk of losing U.S. government conventions and meetings that are held here. Nah … politicians enjoy selfing way too much.
I would love your opinion on this. Are brands separate from the issues of the people? Is there a responsibility to become part of the conversation? Is it dangerous for a brand to speak too loudly on an issue even if it fits the truth of that brand? Let me know … I am listening.
This message was brought to you by THE COMMITTEE FOR A FREE LAS VEGAS.
Travel summit notes rise in demand for exotic destinations
Travel agents and tour operators who attended Ensemble Travel Group’s recent Las Vegas conference report that travelers are increasingly being drawn to exotic and off-the-beaten-track destinations. “The hot destinations are Ecuador, the Galapagos, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, African safaris. People are going for big-ticket items. It’s like they want to spend money now because they don’t know how things will be later on,” said Judy Ruffini, a regional sales manager at General Tours.
Airlift problems hamper tourism in the Caribbean
Air travel between Caribbean islands usually consists of multileg flights that take several hours. This lack of convenient flight options could be one reason that tourism in the region is not growing as rapidly as hoped, tourism experts say. “Intra-Caribbean tourism is down by 40% in the last five years. Make air travel more accessible — get rid of the visa regulations, make it cheaper — and more people will travel. It changes the equation,” said Richard Doumeng, president of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association.
Luxury travel is leaning toward uniqueness, customization
Luxury travelers are increasingly demanding customized trips heavy in out-of-the-ordinary experiences, experts said during Signature Travel Network’s Sales Meeting and Trade Show in Las Vegas this week. “We have arranged white-linen banquets on the Great Wall and trips down a tributary of the Li River (Guilin) in bamboo rafts. We take clients to studios of major artists and fashion designers. In Beijing, there’s a private $300 million art collection, which people can see, and be taught by the owner how to understand Chinese art,” said Margot Kong, a vice president with Imperial Tours in San Francisco.
Survey: Holiday travel spending will rise 12% this year
An annual survey by Allianz Global Assistance USA indicates that holiday travel spending this year will reach $72.9 billion — up about 12% over 2011. Forty-five percent of respondents said they are “very confident” that they will take a holiday vacation this year, compared with 42% in the previous year.
Business travel could benefit from U.S. “fiscal cliff,” group says
The impending “fiscal cliff” of expiring tax cuts and reduced federal spending could benefit business travel over the long term, the Global Business Travel Association says in a report. “The elimination of tax cuts and reductions in federal spending would lead to reduced deficits and lower interest rates over the long run, resulting in business travel spending and an overall economy that grows more quickly after absorbing the shock of the fiscal cliff,” the GBTA said. However, the U.S. economy stands to lose $20 billion in business-travel spending over nine quarters if the economy goes over the so-called cliff, the group says.
U.S. Travel Association grass-roots program will focus on Congress
The U.S. Travel Association has unveiled plans for a grass-roots initiative that aims to cultivate industry advocates in Congress. “Every congressional district in America can thank travel for jobs and economic activity, so we’ve designed a program to build our bench of champions in Congress, those members who will stand with us and play offense on policies to protect and stimulate increased travel,” said U.S. Travel President and CEO Roger Dow. The Travel Blitz program is set to launch next year.
Norwegian overcomes hurdles to become successful in Hawaii
Norwegian Cruise Line’s 10% price increase on Hawaii cruises next year is a big improvement from several years ago, when the line’s 2,138-passenger Pride of America was struggling.
Virgin Atlantic gains short-haul slots at Heathrow
Virgin Atlantic said it has been offered all of the Heathrow short-haul slots available following International Airline Group’s acquisition of BMI. International Airline Group is the parent of British Airways.
DOT approves Delta’s route to Tokyo from Seattle
The Department of Transportation has approved the request from Delta Air Lines to transfer service from one of its two routes between Detroit and Haneda Airport in Tokyo to Seattle. The switch will “open Haneda access to a new region of the country,” the DOT said.
MGM Resorts International received approval from the Macau government to open its second hotel-casino on the China-controlled group of islands. MGM China Holdings, a joint venture between MGM Resorts and Hong Kong billionaire Pansy Ho, will build a $2.5 billion, 1,600-room hotel-casino on Macau’s Cotai Strip. Plans call for 2,500 slot machines and 500 gaming tables.
Honolulu Airport was expected to launch the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program this week. Not all airlines participate in the program, and passengers must be eligible to go through an initial screening in order to participate.
Orlando, Fla., hotel activity in September was lower than a year ago
The hotel market in Orlando, Fla., declined in September, as 55.2% of rooms were filled compared with 56.2% the previous year, according to Smith Travel Research. The average daily rate decreased 1.4%, to $80.35, as children went back to school and fewer large-scale events took place.
US Airways Group reports record Q3 profit
US Airways Group posted a record third-quarter net profit of $245 million, up from $76 million a year earlier. Excluding special items totaling $192 million, the result was the second-best third quarter in the company’s history.
Delta posts $1B third-quarter profit
Delta Air Lines reported a third-quarter net profit of just more than $1 billion, aided by $279 million in one-time items. The result compared to a $549 million profit a year earlier.
Southwest will take over AirTran flights in 4 cities next year
Southwest Airlines has announced that starting in April, AirTran service at airports in Flint, Mich.; Portland, Maine; Rochester, N.Y.; and Charlotte, N.C. will be converted into flights under the Southwest brand. Southwest also unveiled new services that will launch also in April, including daily service between Boston and Kansas City, Mo., and between Houston and Pittsburgh.
Spirit: We don’t want you to pay our $100 carry-on fee
Delta eyes New York market with added routes, landing spots
Delta Air Lines has added more than 100 daily flights at La Guardia Airport in New York, a move that it hopes will increase market share in the region. The airline this year acquired landing spots from US Airways. “We’re trying to win New York. That’s really what this expansion is about,” said Gail Grimmett, a Delta executive.
Delta will cut number of nonstop flights to Europe
Delta Air Lines plans expansion of flights from Seattle to Asia
Delta Air Lines is looking to capitalize on its partnership with Alaska Airlines to add flights from Seattle. The plan includes expanded service to Asian destinations such as Shanghai, China, and proposed service to Tokyo-Haneda, Japan.
Las Vegas hotels are making even more of an effort to go green as tourists are in the market for sustainable hotels. MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment and Las Vegas Sands have incorporated sustainable practices into their business models. MGM’s CenterCity project, for example, earned six U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold certifications. Hotels in the city have embraced composting, rootop gardens, recycling and water-saving measures.
Cruise sellers expect improved business in Q4, 2013
Many travel agents reported weak business in the cruise segment during the third quarter, brought about by competitive pricing and slow bookings. However, agents’ optimism is high for the year’s remaining quarter, with prices expected to regain strength going into 2013. “There’s pent-up demand, an end in sight to the presidential election, and bookings are pretty attractive,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown of Cruise Critic.
Virgin America to offer nonstop flight from N.Y. to Calif. for winter
Virgin America plans to add a nonstop route from New York’s JFK airport to Palm Springs, Calif., beginning Dec. 22. The service will run on Saturdays throughout the winter season. “We’re pleased to be expanding in the market and offering a new nonstop option for travelers coming from New York to the desert this winter,” said John MacLeod, a senior vice president at Virgin America.
British Airways eyes no-wait electronic check-in
British Airways has developed a system that checks passengers in the day before their trip, selects their seat and sends a boarding pass electronically. The system, which would eliminate the need to check in at airports, will roll out on a trial basis.
U.S. airlines collect $932 million in bag fees in Q2
U.S. passenger airlines collected a total of $932 million in baggage fees in the second quarter, up from $816 million in the first quarter, according to figures released by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics on Tuesday.
InterJet will launch Orange Country-Mexico City flights
More agents are collaborating with OTA network, Expedia leader says
Expedia’s Travel Agent Affiliate Program is enjoying healthy growth in the ranks of its affiliated traditional travel agencies, and agents are boosting engagement with its platform, says Diego Pedrani, a director at Expedia Worldwide. “We currently work with more than 25,000 travel agency affiliates worldwide, and new agent signups continue to accelerate. We signed double the number of agents in the first three months of 2012 compared to the previous year,” Pedrani said.
2 decks of relaxation await on Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Cruise Line will debut its 23,000-square-foot, two-floor Mandara Spa on the Norwegian Breakaway. The spa will feature 13 heated loungers, a salt room, vitality pool, whirlpools, sauna, solarium, steam room, salon and barber shop. It will include 22 treatment rooms and offer cosmetic medical treatments including Botox injections.
Six Vegas restaurants earn top honors from Wine Spectator
Six Las Vegas restaurants were honored with Wine Spectator’s Grand Award, the top honor in the publication’s annual Restaurant Wine List Awards. Aureole Las Vegas (at Mandalay Bay); Delmonico Steakhouse and Piero Selvaggio Valentino (both at the Venetian); Joel Robuchon Restaurant (MGM Grand); Picasso (Bellagio); and Restaurant Guy Savoy (Caesars Palace) earned Grand Award status.
Hawaiian Airlines is bidding for nonstop flights to Tokyo
Hawaiian Airlines is among the four U.S. airlines bidding for flight rights for nonstop travel between Haneda Airport in Tokyo and Kona, Hawaii. The flight rights were awarded to Delta Air Lines in 2010 with its service to Detroit, but when Delta suspended that route, the Department of Transportation decided to accept new bids. Delta, American Airlines and United Airlines have also submitted bids for routes to Tokyo through different U.S. cities.
Global tourism is on pace to reach 1 billion in 2012
International tourism numbers continue to grow, having risen 5% between January and June against the same period last year, says Taleb Rifai, secretary-general of the U.N. World Tourism Organization. Rifai predicts that global tourism will reach the 1 billion mark by the end of 2012. “As we lead up to the milestone of 1 billion, we need to ensure that the tourism sector is supported by adequate national policies and that we work to reduce existing barriers to the expansion of the sector, such as complicated visa procedures, increased direct taxation or limited connectivity,” Rifai said.
Travel firms note slow recovery of luxury segment
Hotel chains and travel booking firms say the luxury-travel segment is inching back toward a full recovery, with bookings in group and leisure showing the most stable growth. “The strongest segment by far has been leisure. The consumer is buying more premium rooms every year over the previous year,” said Chris Gabaldon, chief marketing officer of Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.
Fares on U.S. airlines rise for fourth time in 2012
Southwest Airlines last week raised about 10% of its routes by $10 per round-trip. United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Virgin America and JetBlue Airways raised some rates as well, marking the fourth time this year that U.S. airlines have increased fares.
Delays, cancellations hamper American Airlines’ performance
American Airlines has suffered poor performance in the past few days, with a steep number of flight cancellations implemented throughout the country and a sharp increase in flight delays, this feature says. The carrier is embroiled in a dispute with its pilots over impending mass employee layoffs and new cost-saving work policies. American Airlines has announced plans to cut its scheduled flights in September and October in light of alleged disruptive actions by its pilots.
Hawaiian Airlines passenger traffic grew 12.6 percent in August
Hawaiian Airlines has released its August and year-to-date statistics. The carrier’s number of total passengers increased 12.6% in August compared with the same month in 2011. Year-to-date passenger totals are up 8.4% over the same period last year.
Budget airlines are growing in a sluggish industry
Several airline executives spoke at Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit on Monday to say that their low-cost airlines are growing during a sluggish economy. Executives from Spirit Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines spoke of the growth their airlines are experiencing. Consolidation was also a common topic at the summit, with leaders supporting the measures as being good for the industry.
JetBlue plans to roll out speedy in-flight Wi-Fi
Starting in the first quarter of next year, passengers aboard JetBlue flights will be able to access Wi-Fi service fast enough to stream movies and TV shows. According to an internal company e-mail, the low-cost carrier plans to partner with ViaSat to offer fast Wi-Fi that it says will give it a competitive advantage over its rivals. The e-mail says the service will be free during an initial trial period.
The Rockettes to christen Norwegian Cruise Line’s new ship The high-kicking Rockettes of Radio City Music Hall fame will christen the Norwegian Breakaway on May 8, Norwegian Cruise Line disclosed on Tuesday. The Breakaway will be the largest ship to be homeported in New York, and the cruise line said the choice of the Rockettes to serve as godmothers will deepen its ties to the city.
Las Vegas Sands will build EuroVegas casino resort in Madrid
Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon G. Adelson has announced that Madrid, not Barcelona, will be the site of a casino resort called EuroVegas. The company hasn’t yet revealed the project’s size or financing sources. “Progress toward resolution of the current economic challenges within Europe will be an important consideration,” the company said.
Hawaii expects continued growth in air seat capacity
The Hawaii Tourism Authority anticipates more growth in air travel to the state through the remainder of the year. Total air seat capacity for 2012 is expected to exceed 10 million seats, a 9% increase over last year. Total capacity is expected to reach 99% of the peak travel to Hawaii, which occurred in 2007.
Chicago travelers pay highest taxes in U.S.
Travelers incur the highest average daily tax burden in Chicago at $40.31, according to the GBTA Foundation. Considering general sales taxes on car rentals, hotel stays and meals, and what it terms as “discriminatory travel taxes” in the top 50 U.S. travel markets, GBTA found that New York ($37.98) and Boston ($34.58) followed Chicago at the top of the list.
Allegian Air adds nonstop Vegas-Boise flights
Discount airline Allegiant Air will be adding nonstop flights between Boise, Idaho, and Las Vegas beginning Oct. 26. This will compete with a route already established by Southwest Airlines, which offers two daily, nonstop flights between Las Vegas and Boise.
Frontier means business with direct booking policy
Frontier Airlines is putting its foot down with a new penalty for passengers who do not book directly through its website. Fliers who book through online travel websites such as Expedia and Orbitz will not be able to obtain seat assignments until they check in, will pay more in fees and earn fewer frequent flier miles.
American is the first US airline to replace all paper manuals with iPads in its cockpits
The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday that pilots on American Airlines flights would be allowed to use iPads for the “electronic flight bag,” replacing the last bit of paper that pilots deal with, such as when flying below 10,000 feet.
Cruise lines work to attract more meetings business
New initiatives and ship amenities mark cruise lines’ continued drive to bring in more business from the meetings and incentives industry. “Cruising is a great way to engage and motivate employees, customers and channel partners in a unique setting that provides great value and experience through incredible built-in features,” said Christine Duffy, Cruise Lines International Association’s president and CEO. Cruise lines are touting the cost-effectiveness and higher levels of customization that cruise meetings can offer compared with meetings on land.
American Express Travel Finds U.S. Employees Have 8 Unused Vacation Days
U.S. employees have an average of eight unused vacation days this fall, according to American Express Travel’s American Express Spending and Saving Tracker. At the end of the year, 38 percent of workers will lose these unused vacation days while 74 percent are planning to use them over the fall months. Of those planning to use their vacation time this fall, 31 percent said they choose to travel during fall because it is the most affordable time of year, and 23 percent will travel to off-season destinations like the Caribbean and Hawaii, as they offer some great deals during this time, the study said.
Study shows aspiring travelers are online more than the average American
On a weekly basis, the Internet reaches 94% of intended travelers, in comparison to 85% of the general population reached. The comparable TV numbers are 97% vs. 89%. On weekdays, Internet weekly reach among intended travelers approaches parity with TV (91% Internet vs. 95% TV). Soon-to-be travelers are more likely to surf the Internet (91% vs. 82%), listen to radio (77% vs. 69%), and read magazines (61% vs. 51%) and newspapers (58% vs. 50%) than the general population.
Statue of Liberty interior to reopen Oct. 28
The interior of the Statue of Liberty will reopen to visitors on a limited basis on Oct. 28. The statue was closed for a one-year renovation on Oct. 29, 2011. The 125-year-old statue has been undergoing improvements for visitor safety, including upgrades to the fire-suppression system, two new means of exiting the monument, and a fire break between the statue and the pedestal, according to the National Park Service.
Travelers arriving by air in the Dominican Republic grew to 2.9 million visitors from January through July, up 7.2% over the same period in 2011. The U.S. continues to be the top source market, according to data from the Central Bank, which compiles arrivals statistics for the destination. Other markets showing growth include Russia, Canada and Venezuela.
United Airlines plans capacity cut through 2012. CFO says
United Airlines plans to trim capacity by up to 3% from September through the end of 2012. The carrier had previously forecast capacity cuts of up to 2% for the fourth quarter. “We are beginning to see some modest slowness in the economic outlook and we’re responding accordingly,” said CFO John Rainey.
Norwegian Cruise Line unveils hull art for the Breakaway
Norwegian Cruise Line’s newbuild to be homeported in New York will feature a hull painted with a New York skyline, the Statue of Liberty and a stylized solar system. Norwegian on Tuesday unveiled the design by pop artist Peter Max. It will decorate the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway, which is scheduled to arrive in New York next May for a summer of seven-day cruises to Bermuda.
Royal Caribbean launches product around Barbie doll
Royal Caribbean isn’t trading in its signature gold and blue colors, but its ships are going to be a lot more pink starting in January. That’s when something called the “Barbie Experience” will debut for young princesses ages 4 to 11. Girls can sleep in Barbie-themed cabins, design Barbie outfits, go to tea and participate in a fashion show at the end of the cruise. The experience will come in a basic free version and a premium one that will cost $349.