This Week in Travel & Tourism — 7/16/2012

INTERNATIONAL

Latin America proves lucrative for U.S. airlines

For most U.S. carriers, flights to Latin America have proved profitable, financial data filed with the Department of Transportation show. During the first quarter, flights to Latin America returned a 5% operating margin, compared with a 4% operating margin for domestic flights.

International visitor spending in U.S. in May up 8%

International visitors to the U.S. in May spent $13.9 billion on tourism and travel-related activities, up 8% from a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported Friday. For the first five months of 2012, international tourism spending is up 12% and has created an $18.4 billion trade surplus for the U.S.

Spas very important for Chinese travelers, says Hilton

Chinese tourists are more than twice as likely to factor in whether a hotel has an on-site spa in their booking decisions than Americans, Hilton Hotels & Resorts said in a report released Tuesday.

DOMESTIC

Average jet-fuel costs in May were the same as a year ago, DOT says

The average fuel cost for U.S. airlines was $3.03 a gallon in May, the same price as a year ago, but down 3.2% compared to April prices, the Department of Transportation says. The total fuel consumption on scheduled flights in May was 1.37 billion gallons.

AIRLINE

Customer service is at heart of American Airlines’ Twitter strategy

Dealing with American Airlines via Twitter can be downright enjoyable, Darren Booth writes. The company uses the microblogging site to disseminate information and answer customers’ questions, and it does so with a refreshingly “sincere and human approach,” he writes. Jonathan Pierce, the airline’s director of social media communications, says “our team is empowered by relating to customers, finding connections and being authentic in every response. We make sure there’s a face and voice behind each post.”

United plans 10 new routes

United Airlines announced plans to launch year-round and seasonal service to several new international and domestic routes. International routes are subject to government approval. New routes include daily, year-round service between its San Francisco hub and Taiwan, beginning April 9; daily, year-round service between San Francisco and Paris, beginning April 11; three daily flights between Denver and Williston, N.D., beginning Nov. 4; and daily service between Washington Dulles and San Salvador, El Salvador, beginning Dec. 19.

Hawaiian Airlines will add nonstop flights to New Zealand

Hawaiian Airlines has announced that it will add three nonstop flights per week between between Honolulu and Auckland, starting in March. The move will make the airline the only U.S. carrier flying to the New Zealand city. It believes that New Zealand is an untapped market, noting that the number of visitors to Hawaii from New Zealand has dropped 30% since 1999, when more nonstop flights were offered from Auckland, this feature says.

CRUISE

Carnival’s stricter sales policy draws more praise than criticism

When it goes into effect Aug. 1, Carnival Cruise Lines’ ban on using cash-equivalent value-adds as booking incentives will be among the tightest such policies in the industry. Even so, agents greeted the policy change with more praise than criticism after it was announced in early July.

ETC.

Baby boomers lead rise in multigenerational travel

Complex multigenerational vacations are on the rise, influenced by a growing number of retiring baby boomers with dreams of making memories and plenty of money to make it a reality, this feature says. Popular family tourist activities around the world include tracing the route of explorers Lewis and Clark in Montana, a culture-laden cruise along Alaska’s Inside Passage and a safari across the Tanzanian Serengeti.

Hertz adds Porsche to Prestige lineup

Hertz added Porsche Panamera sport sedans to the lineup of high-end cars in the Hertz Prestige Collection at select locations in California, Nevada and Florida, saying it’s the first major U.S. rental brand to offer Porsches. Hertz also will become a sponsor of a Porsche racing team. Panamera prices start at about $75,000. http://www.travelweekly.com/Travel-News/Car-Rental-News/Hertz-adds-Porsche-to-Prestige-lineup/?a=usa&cid=eltrvegas

Brazil garners attention for ad spending

As increasing attention in global marketing is being focused on the Latin American market, Brazil, sitting at the #6 economy in the world, has shown particularly astronomical increases in media growth and ad spend, with 2012 projected to surpass all existing bench markers.

IBOPE reports that in 2011, total ad spend in Brazil went up 16% to top 88.3 reales, the US equivalent of $51 billion, an increase of about 8% from 2010.

Leading the pack in terms of ad spend was free TV, with about 53% of total spend. Meanwhile, while pay TV has grown 118% since 2008 (the audience is currently 40 million strong), ad spend is only about 7%. Total TV spend is down a few percent from 2010, as heavier emphasis has been placed on digital.

Both IBOPE and IAB Brasil report that 5.3 billion reales (US $3 billion) was the total ad spend for online in 2011. This is a significant 69% increase compared to 2010, during which advertisers spent 3.1 billion reales for online advertising.  Interestingly, 50% of Brazil’s 2011 online ad spend went to search and the other 50% was for display.

As a result of increased digital spend and activity, heavy-hitting American brands have opened up shop in Brazil— Netflix, Google, Facebook and Yahoo, to name a few. These companies now compete with top Brazilian brands like UOL, iG and Globo.com.  Still, 75% of the page views in Brazil are generated by just 7 Web sites: AOL, Earth, iG, Globo.com, Google (including search, YouTube and Orkut), Microsoft Live and Yahoo. Additionally, 31.1 million Brazilians visit e-commerce sites every month; coupon sites alone grew 379% in visitors between May 2010 and May 2011.

Sitting at a surprising number two in ad spend in Brazil in 2011 was newspaper, while magazines ended up slightly behind pay TV.

From a consumption standpoint, newspaper circulation yielded a 3.5% increase in circulation and a 7% increase in subscription since 2010. In fact, 11% of the Brazilian population reads the newspaper every day. Meanwhile, magazines subscriptions were up 5% year over year, and subscriptions doubled!

The following is a survey of media outlets Brazilians most admire:

  • Free TV network: TV Globo
  • Pay TV channel: GNT, which is from the Globosat cable network
  • Magazine: Veja
  • Radio network: CBN
  • Internet portal: Google