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TD breaking news – Helloworld names new NZ General Manager

Chris Hunter to replace Simon McKearney.

Helloworld Travel Limited has just announced the appointment of Chris Hunter as its new General Manager for New Zealand, having previously confirmed the departure of Executive General Manager Simon McKearney (TD 26 June).

Helloworld CEO Andrew Burnes said the role had been revised following the company’s recent restructure in NZ, with the aim of ensuring the business “continues to meet the needs of its stakeholders in New Zealand and takes advantage of the group’s wider synergies”.

Hunter’s career has included more than 16 years with Air New Zealand, as well as former roles with Flight Centre, Tourism Exchange New Zealand and Etihad Airways Holidays.

“New Zealand is a key market for Helloworld and one that we see as key for the resumption of our business in a post-COVID world,” Burnes said, saying Hunter was a “proven innovator and we are delighted to have him onboard”.

More details in tomorrow’s issue of Travel Daily.

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Source: traveldaily

RedBalloon agent platform

EXPERIENTIAL gifts company RedBalloon is planning to introduce a travel agent portal which would provide revenue share on bookings, Chief Executive Officer David Anderson has exclusively revealed to TD.

Set to debut over the next few months, RedBalloon is working to secure a number of partnerships to tie into the platform, with a view to making the company’s products more accessible.

With more details to be announced shortly, the portal will provide a booking platform through which travel agents will have access to experiential product, and will receive a percentage of sales.

“Our plan is to try and give travel agents access to product they can staple into an itinerary or build an itinerary around,” Anderson said.

“We are working on a number of step-change opportunities for us to get suppliers more broadly into travel agents and OTAs domestically so it’s easier to access and book experiences

“Our objective here is to find a way to get product into travel agents’ hands.”

“There are huge membership organisations with whom we’re seeking to partner with to provide more availability to our suppliers.”

Anderson added revenue shares will vary, “but will be very much in line with the rest of the market.”

The industry-focused push comes as RedBalloon enjoys a rapid return to profitability and growth, after quickly consolidating during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were about 10% through the first couple of months of this year and at the end of Mar we were -90%…one day we had about $300 worth of revenue in the business,” Anderson recalled.

“We were 30% on last year for Sep which was incredible….taking Melbourne out of the equation our growth rate for Sep was 60%.”

The RedBalloon CEO hailed the company’s strong balance sheet and trust in the brand from consumers as key to helping weather the coronavirus.

“With all of the Tourism Australia and Destination NSW work where they were spending lots of capital, we were able to sit within that and provide our brand as a mechanism for customers to move from that broad level of consideration to booking.

“We also pushed really hard on the at-home experiential capital which saw us get back to like-to-like by the end of Jun.

“Melbourne’s still down 50% year-on-year, but what we’re seeing is the other states are up hugely, particularly WA, SA and Queensland.”

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Source: traveldaily

US, Europe off travel agenda

FEDERAL Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham has poured cold water on any near-term resumption of travel to the US & Europe, yesterday saying “the prospects of opening up widespread travel with higher risk countries will remain very reliant on effective vaccination or other major breakthroughs in the management of COVID”.

Birmingham’s comments were echoed on TV this morning by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who remarked that “you only need to look at what’s happening in Europe at the moment where they’re going through a horrific further wave of COVID-19 and of course we’ve got to be extremely careful about that”.

Closer to home, Morrison noted the pending opening up of travel from NZ to Australia this Fri, and confirmed he had been in discussions with Pacific leaders.

“They’re keen but we also want to ensure that we get no COVID transmission into those Pacific Island communities, their health systems are different and we’ve got to be very careful about that risk,” Morrison said.

He also said there had been “good discussions” with places like South Korea, Singapore and Japan, but added “I think that’s a bit further off”.

Yesterday’s Sun Herald quoted Birmingham suggesting there could be a full travel bubble with NZ by the end of the year, which would then be used as a blueprint for opening up to other countries in the Pacific and within Asia.

“Our arrangement with NZ will provide a blueprint to prove the model of how we run safe corridors – green lanes of international visitors coming in and out of Australia – and whether this can be extended to any other similarly low risk countries down the track,” he said.

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Source: traveldaily

201 days of pain

MELBOURNE-BASED travel agent Josh Zuker has produced a video tracing the tragic trajectory of 2020 for the travel industry.

Job losses among airlines, tour operators, cruise companies and travel agencies as well as store closures are chronicled, as well as the continued lack of industry-specific support from the Government despite its effective embargo on travel stopping the industry’s ability to trade.

Victoria’s ongoing draconian lockdown measures and their impact are also part of the timetable – see the video at traveldaily.com.au/videos.

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Cruiseco, NCL to pay advance comm

CRUISECO has partnered with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) in a major new initiative to help travel agencies navigate the financial pressures of COVID-19, allowing them to bank early commissions as they drive future cruise sales.

The move was unveiled to members of the consortium late last week, with Norwegian Cruise Line to deliver 3% upfront commission to Cruiseco agents on NCL cruises booked between 01 Oct and 31 Dec.

The incentive scheme was unveiled by Cruiseco marketing manager Adam Vance, who told TD “every person who is going to cruise in the next 12-24 months is sitting on an agent’s database somewhere…NCL is investing in members, who in turn communicate and promote via their databases.

“Early commissions help solidify the travel agent and Cruiseco member channel,” he said.

The 3% prepayment is valid right across the NCL fleet for sailings through until 2023, and includes bookings made on any of 40 Cruiseco NCL fly/cruise or stay/cruise packages, as well as all cruise only offers.

Normal commission will still be applicable to all bookings made in the normal booking/deposit/full payment timeline, and all new bookings are eligible, including cash sales and Future Cruise Credit redemptions.

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Source: traveldaily

Crompton chat

THERE are still limited spaces available for this week’s live interview with Cover-More Travel Insurance CEO Judith Crompton.

The conversation with Travel Daily’s Bruce Piper takes place at 1pm Sydney time this Wed 14 Oct as part of our ongoing series of discussions with senior industry leaders right across the month.

The interview is being conducted in partnership with The Travel Industry Hub – register at thetravelindustryhub.com.

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Source: traveldaily

$1 million campaign

TOURISM Whitsundays, in partnership with Tourism and Events Queensland, has launched a new $1 million tourism campaign designed to “restore visitor numbers to the region that rival pre-Cyclone Debbie figures”.

The Wonders of The Whitsundays marketing push will put ten local tourism operators in the spotlight, and be conducted in phases, firstly across Queensland and New South Wales, and then in Victoria as the state emerges from the COVID-19 spike in the coming months.

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Source: traveldaily

True value of cruise

QLD-BASED cruise specialist Clean Cruising features in the first of a series of videos launched today by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), highlighting the massive impact that the ongoing ban on cruising is having on Australian jobs.

CLIA is urging the travel sector to get behind the campaign, as part of its #WeAreCruise initiative, with a dedicated website at wearecruise.org which features social media assets, more information and guides on how to contact local MPs and puts the case for the industry moving forward to resumption.

“CLIA is working closely with government agencies at many levels, but we need help to reinforce the true size of the cruise community and the thousands of people whose livelihoods are at risk,” said CLIA MD Joel Katz.

See the first video in the series at traveldaily.com.au/videos.

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Source: traveldaily