Tag Archive for: Tours

Webjet ads a “mild retort”

WEBJET CEO John Guscic has made it clear he has no intention of apologising for the company’s controversial anti travel-agent ads from four years ago, describing them as a “mild retort” to AFTA’s advertising from 2014 which ridiculed bookings through online travel agents.

However he admitted he did not expect the massive reaction from the industry to Webjet’s ads, saying he was surprised at the vitriol directed towards him over the issue at the time, and since.

The AFTA TVC, shown for the first time at the 2014 National Travel Industry Awards, was funded with some of the proceeds from a grant used to establish the AFTA Travel Accreditation Scheme (TD 18 Jul 2014), with Guscic telling Travel Daily he initially thought it was a spoof.

He particularly took issue with implications in the AFTA ad that DIY online bookings meant you would get food poisoning and end up in a “flea-pit” hotel (TD yesterday), and described it as “pretty inflammatory”.

In a wide-ranging interview conducted by TD publisher Bruce Piper in partnership with The Travel Industry Hub, Guscic said that previously Webjet had been happy to coexist in a “collective travel ecosphere,” offering a technology-based alternative to traditional travel agents.

However “every time I went to the ATAS website the AFTA ad was plastered all over it, book through a bricks and mortar travel agent.

“I have no problem with the message, it’s just that it needs to be balanced and realistic,” he said.

Admitting that Webjet’s 2016 responses were “a little bit tongue-in-cheek and self-indulgent,” Guscic said he initially thought the furore would die down quickly, rather than continuing to be an issue.

“I felt it was an appropriate response at the time,” he said, insisting it was conceived as a counter to AFTA’s anti-OTA ad – which he noted was quickly taken off the ATAS website within 12 hours after Guscic pointed it out, when former CEO Jayson Westbury made a formal complaint about Webjet’s TVC.

“We haven’t run the ad since 2017, the way we think about it was it was a diversion and probably with the benefit of hindsight it has been better to return to our historical focus on ourselves, do our own brand ads and give consumers a reason to include Webjet in their consideration set,” Guscic said.

MEANWHILE despite running its own race over the last couple of decades, the Webjet CEO said 2020 was the right time to join AFTA as the industry battles collectively for survival.

Although the company’s own finances are in a good position after two successful capital raisings, Guscic noted the tremendous pressure the whole travel sector is facing through no fault of its own.

“Having a unified voice to contribute to that conversation to ensure that we as a travel industry survive, we as a travel industry thrive, to enable us to do that it made sense at this point in time to contribute to that by being part of AFTA,” he said.

The interview can now be seen at thetravelindustryhub.com.

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IATA TIDS free for agents

THE International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that it will no longer charge travel agencies to use its Travel Industry Designator Service (TIDS).

Previously costing $165 per year, the TIDS program provides a unique identification code for agents and other intermediaries such as event planners and meeting organisers who are not IATA-accredited.

“As new booking sources and platforms emerge in the distribution space, industry suppliers face a growing challenge in identifying booking and sales intermediaries,” IATA said in an update overnight.

“In response, IATA with the support of its airline members, has revamped the TIDS program to better address the needs of the industry and make TIDS the standard of identification for non-IATA accredited agencies.”

IATA Head of Travel and Tourism Harsha Krishnan said amid the unprecedented COVID-19 situation “we hope this action helps our TIDS partners to immediately benefit”.

The fee cut comes alongside a platform revamp which now allows agencies to self-manage their profile online, simplifying processes both for themselves and travel suppliers.

Travel intermediaries who have been accepted into the TIDS program have been “properly vetted by IATA, meet all industry requirements and can access a broad supplier network to book travel and receive commissions,” according to the new website.

To sign up for the program, applicants must provide a range of documentation including details of their business entity’s ownership, registration, a bank letter or statement of account in the name of the business and a letter of recommendation from an IATA airline member, GDS or a major industry supplier.

More info at iata.org/tids.

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TTA “leaner but stronger”

THE Travel Authority CEO Peter Hosper last night took the opportunity to look forward to the future, addressing a group of clients of accounting firm Helm Advisory to assure them that the travel sector is alive and well despite the pandemic.

Guests were invited to dress up in anticipation of their next trip, with Hosper noting the massive pent-up demand as evidenced by the rapid sell-out of Qantas’ “flight to nowhere” and the 2022 Regent Seven Seas Cruises world cruise, which saw all suites sold in just 48 hours with the cheapest one priced at $200,000.

“For the travel industry, the future will mean we have to reinvent ourselves again.

“And we will. We will continue to love our clients, all our clients, and we will emerge from this nightmare maybe a bit leaner, but also stronger,” Hosper said.

He also gave the audience a background to the current issues facing the industry, with refunds and cancellations.

Over the recent months, “travel agents have never worked harder for their clients, at best changing bookings to next year or the year after, or at worst processing cancellations, fighting with multiple suppliers to get refunds and processing them back to the clients,” he said.

Hosper said TTA along with other industry colleagues was “in the process of dusting ourselves off and looking towards a very bright future”.

He’s pictured in his lederhosen, along with flight attendant and The Travel Authority co-founder Sarah Bush, Stephen Hathaway from Helm Advisory, Sharon Levingston of The Events Authority, Felix Sudarto from Helm Advisory ready for sleep in his QF Business class PJs, and special guest Penny Tration.

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The time has come to be an agent of change

KIM Sparrow works for Jenman African Safaris.

Got an opinion to share? Let us know in up to 400 words via email to feedback@traveldaily.com.au.

Being part of an industry that focuses on what to pack for cross-continental journeys, we are now faced with the challenge of ‘unpacking’ the impact that travel has on the world as well as ourselves.

As travel agents, safari experts and connoisseurs of adventure, our place in the travel chain has been compromised and our clients reticent to book their next holiday.

In 2019, it was recorded that tourism accounted for 330 million jobs worldwide, equivalent to 10.3% of global employment.

The importance of this sector for job creation and local economic development, directly and indirectly, has been reflected in its disappearance due to COVID, with livelihoods falling beneath the poverty line as a result.

In terms of assistance, government help is often out of sight and how can we, as the ‘community of the world’, ensure that the less fortunate not become even more disadvantaged during such times.

It is our responsibility, as agents and partners which create revenue streams for tourism operations, communities and conservation initiatives, to forge a way forward.

Educate, engage, enrich. The world has been forced to pause and as a result, adapt and redefine our values.

In the echoes of our minds we hear the impalpable call for meaningful experiences, to move with awareness and purpose.

This is the undeniable value of our knowledge as travel experts — an indisputable responsibility for us to impart information about sustainable travel choices for the community of the world.

Purposeful travel is a reciprocal exchange — clients absorbing experience, gaining understanding and gathering perspective while imparting the gift of opportunity.

This gift emerges in the form of education in rural schools, employment for local communities and funding for conservation projects.

This greater responsibility forces us to rethink not only how we travel, but how our journeys resonate on the ground.

Once our footprints have faded — what positive steps were taken to ensure change?

Providing customers with sustainable travel choices imposes an accountability for our actions towards our environment and taking ownership of these is in turn protecting our wild spaces.

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WA blasted for borders

THE Western Australian Government should prioritise family reunions and show more transparency with its border policies, advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) believes.

The non-profit organisation’s Australian researcher Sophie McNeill has lambasted the state’s government for maintaining hard borders without detailing clearly what the exception to travel restrictions should be.

“Governments can restrict people’s movement for compelling public health purposes, but any restrictions on these rights should be strictly necessary and proportionate,” McNeill said.

“The process in Western Australia is opaque, confusing, and arbitrary,” she added.

After interviewing 17 applicants who were denied access to WA on compassionate grounds, the group believes the state is creating unnecessary confusion around what information is required to enter, which exemption category to apply for, and who the applicants should turn to for advice.

For example, suffering from mental health hardship as a result of being separated from family is not on the list of accepted exemption criteria, HRW says, adding that a father in Queensland who has been separated from his three young children for more than 10 months has been refused entry to the state twice.

“My little three-year-old cries sometimes and the other two [children] are always asking me when I will go back, being able to talk to someone or get help is near impossible,” the unnamed man informed HRW.

When comparing the WA’s policies with other states which have implemented hard borders throughout the health crisis, HRW said the state stood out as having the least flexible approach based on active case numbers.

Earlier this month, Western Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Andy Robertson revealed the state was considering forming travel bubbles with select Australian states (TD 07 Oct).

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New option for industry training

TRAVEL industry suppliers can now access even more options for keeping the trade updated about their products, services and destinations through an enhancement to the Travel Daily Training Academy.

With a series of bespoke training websites already developed for clients including Visit Flanders, Tourism Thailand, Tokyo Tourism, Discover Okinawa, the Austrian National Tourist Office, Macao Tourism, Tourism Malaysia and Italian Tourism, the new “hub” option (see the cover page) allows suppliers to have their content housed and promoted under the central TD Training Academy banner at training.traveldaily.com.au.

MEANWHILE Viking Cruises is the launch customer for the new offering, with a new “Warriors of Wisdom” module going live today.

Registration is free, with Viking’s training including a friendly welcome from National Sales Manager Keira Smith and the opportunity to learn about the cruise line’s full range of river, ocean and expedition product and “be inducted into the elite clan of Mimir, the Norse God of knowledge”.

Rewards by Viking points are also up for grabs and participants are able to automatically share their achievements on social media – to take part CLICK HERE.

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Tramada execs out

THE acquisition of Tramada by Corporate Travel Management (TD yesterday) has marked the end of an era for several of the company’s senior staff, including CEO Jo O’Brien, who has led the business for almost 15 years.

Yesterday was her final day, with her departure coming alongside that of Country Manager Australia and NZ Susan Enners, Head of Operations Brenton Fear and CFO Christian Stevens.

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Hilton extension

HILTON has announced several adjustments to its Hilton Honors loyalty program, extending points expiration through until 31 Dec 2021 and reducing status qualification requirements by 50% across all tiers.

Existing status levels are also being extended to 31 Mar 2022 for Silver, Gold and Diamond members who were set to downgrade in 2020 or 2021, while the hotelier is currently offering double event planner points and the opportunity to redeem points on activities via the Hilton Honors Experiences platform – CLICK HERE.

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Balance from ACA!

CHANNEL 9’s A Current Affair program last night featured a segment highlighting the plight of travel agents during the pandemic.

Victorian agent Josh Zuker from Josh Zuker Travel and Liz Ellis of Cherrybrook Travel in Sydney were featured, and were given the opportunity to explain that suppliers, not agents, were holding onto funds.

The segment can be viewed online at nine.com.au.

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Whitsundays report

TOURISM Whitsundays managed to more than double its $1.5 million in 2019/20 base funding into an annual budget of $3.3 million through a range of initiatives such as grants and partnerships, according to the organisation’s annual report released yesterday.

The report highlights key achievements over the year, with CEO Tash Wheeler saying prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the Whitsunday region was in an excellent position.

“Because of Tourism Whitsundays’ dedication to restarting our vital tourism industry, the organisation has been leading the pack since restrictions have begun easing,” Wheeler said.

Five campaigns launched in Jun targeting various domestic markets, “delivering a 20:1 return on investment at a critical time for the industry,” she said.

To view the report CLICK HERE.

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