Inside Travel: Understanding the latest technology and industry trend insights

Find it hard to keep track with all the latest insights into business trends, new products and technology advancements in the travel sector? The Blue Swan Daily provides you with an update on some of the key stories from the past week.

  • Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests set for bigger impact than SARS
  • Latest US shootings spur travel advisory from Amensty International
  • Hotels watch out! Britons are on the look out for poor cleanliness
  • New York, Chicago, and Las Vegas revealed as top meeting planner locations
  • Tourism insecurity in Tunisia is spreading over to Egypt and Turkey
  • Port of Seattle releases RFP for new cruise facility
  • JetBlue believes softness in the Dominican Republic is temporary

Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests set for bigger impact than SARS

Empty hotel rooms, struggling shops and even disruption at Disneyland: months of protests in Hong Kong have taken a major toll on the city’s economy, with no end in sight. City leader Carrie Lam has warned that the international financial hub is facing an economic crisis worse than either the 2003 SARS outbreak that paralysed Hong Kong or the 2008 financial crisis. “The situation this time is more severe,” she said. “In other words, the economic recovery will take a very long time.” Hotel occupancy rates are down “double-digit” percentages, as were visitor arrivals in July and forward bookings are down significantly. Group tour bookings from the short-haul market have plunged up to 50%.


Latest US shootings spur travel advisory from Amensty International

Recent shooting in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio have triggered a travel warning for the country from Amensty International. The organisation recommended travellers and visitors to the US to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the country to exercise extreme caution due to extreme gun violence, “which has become so prevalent in the United States that it amounts to a human rights crisis”. Amensty International stated that people in the US cannot reasonably expect to be free from harm, warning “a guarantee of not being shot is impossible”. The warning occurs as new data from the US Travel Association  show that international inbound travel contracted 0.8% year-on-year in Jun-2019. The latest statistics show the international sector’s six month trend was below zero for the first time since Sep-2015. The leading travel index projects international inbound travel growth will remain just below zero over the next sixth months, settling around -0.2%.


Hotels watch out! Britons are on the look out for poor cleanliness

Hotels are supposed to be a relaxing hassle-free environment, but it appears that they are not always meeting the expectations of guests, with poor cleanliness the biggest problem for the almost 1,500 Britons surveyed in a study by cleaning specialists End of Tenancy Cleaning Service. When asked to identify the cleanliness issues they would most likely complain about should they encounter any in their hotel room stains on the bed (e.g. linen, mattress etc.) and towels (81%) were ranked highest, ahead of extensive mould in the bathroom (78%). Other cleanliness issues they would rise were overly dirty/stained cupboards/drawers in their hotel room (70%), unpleasant odours from air conditioning units (66%), bathroom showerhead, toilet and/or tap is infested in limescale (62%). The study discovered that Britons believe a complimentary meal (29% – at the hotel restaurant or at a selected external restaurant) is the most appropriate goodwill gesture a hotel can provide to guests for receiving a valid complaint about room cleanliness. Subsequently, 23% view free or discounted tickets for a popular tourist attraction as fair compensation from a hotel. But, watch out as the survey revealed that 56% of Brits would leave a negative testimonial of a hotel on social media if their complaint about room cleanliness was not taken seriously and/or resolved. Similarly, 48% would intend to post a negative review of a hotel on a hospitality focused website (e.g. TripAdvisor, Yelp etc.), if their room cleanliness criticism was not taken seriously and/or resolved by management/employees.


New York, Chicago, and Las Vegas revealed as top meeting planner locations

New York, Chicago, and Las Vegas are the top North American markets that meeting planners intend to use in the next two years, according to STR‘s 2019 DestinationMAP (Meeting Assessment Program), a comprehensive study of meeting planners and the meetings market in North America. Following New York (23%), Chicago (22%) and Las Vegas (20%), the other most common destinations that meeting planners look to use in the next two years are Orlando (19%) Washington DC (19%). Now in its 18th edition, the report surveys meeting planners’ preferences and their perceptions of 42 North American markets. Other key findings include London being selected by more than one in four planners as an international meeting destination in the next three years and that a majority of meeting planners require more than one hotel for at least one of their events planned in the past 12 months.


Tourism insecurity in Tunisia is spreading over to Egypt and Turkey

As a result of the attacks in Tunis at the end of Jun-2019 just as the North African country was enjoying a period of relative peace, the decrease in security perception and demand has also extended to other predominantly Muslim tourist destinations. These terrible acts have not only affected Tunisia; indeed the repercussions have also been felt in other predominantly Muslim tourist destinations, affecting both their security perception and demand, according to a study by the Travel Intelligence consulting firm Mabrian Technologies. Analysing visitors’ perception during their stay through their interactions on Social Media (using Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence techniques) and flight search data from the UK market its Security Perception Index for Tunisia decreased over 50 points, reaching an all-time low. A corresponding drop in the security perception is also seen for Turkey (8%) and Egypt (4%), it found.


Port of Seattle releases RFP for new cruise facility

The Port of Seattle has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the proposed cruise facility at Terminal 46 to the three shortlisted teams announced in May. These teams will compete to become the winning firm that will co-invest with the Port to build and operate the facility, utilising the northern third of the terminal property for a single-berth cruise terminal. The three teams are Cruise Industry Leaders Group, a partnership between Royal Caribbean Cruise Ltd. MSC Cruises S.A., Carnival Corporation and SSA Marine, Inc., a subsidiary of Carrix, Inc.; Global Ports Holding Plc and Civil & Building North America, Inc.; and Ports America, teaming with Jacobs Engineering Group. The Port expects to announce the winning team early next year, with delivery of the new facility for the 2023 cruise season.


JetBlue believes softness in the Dominican Republic is temporary

A number of US tourist deaths has created challenges for the Dominican Republic, triggering a decline in bookings for travel to the country for the rest of the US high summer travel season. A recent report by ForwardKeys, which analyses more than 17 million flight bookings per day, shows that between 1-Jun-2019 and 19-Jun-2019 bookings for Jul-2019 and Aug-2019 from the US to the Dominican Republic dropped 74.3% year-on-year. Its previous analysis shows that from the start of Apr-2019 to 31-May-2019 bookings were up 2.8%. But the largest airline operating between the US and the Dominican Republic, JetBlue, recently acknowledged a disruption in leisure bookings to Punta Cana during Jun-2019, but concluded the situation is temporary. The airline’s executives also stated JetBlue is seeing stronger bookings to other Caribbean destinations. “We are making tactical redeployments accordingly to match shifting demand,” JetBlue president Joanna Geraghty recently told analysts and investors. “We have seen stronger bookings to other Caribbean destinations as many customers are rebooking their travel.” The airline is seeing some emerging encouraging trends for demand to the Dominican Republic as Ms Geraghty concluded: “After a period of significant cancellations, we are encouraged that bookings to Punta Cana are now outpacing cancellations in July and we expect the market will fully recover.”