The Election is over. Hallelujah!
Election years are well known to be bad for markets, because they introduce an element of uncertainty, and markets don’t like uncertainty.
The midterm of a president’s first term is particularly troublesome. According to Jeff Sommer, in the New York Times, “Numbers going back more than a century show that the second year has generally been the weakest for the stock market in a president’s term.”Read the rest of this entry »
Though the world has taken on appearances that closely resemble the pre-Covid world, I am often reminded by events that the world has changed a lot more during the Covid period than we yet realize. It will take some time to sort out the changes, and the effects both good and bad. On the good side, travel is back. But like everything else, it’s changed.
The constraints imposed by Covid accelerated many trends: the trend toward remote working and meetings, toward more concern by consumers about sustainability, and toward making airports safer from disease. Many other trends were also accelerated.Read the rest of this entry »
Anything that happened before 2020, when COVID-19 knocked the world out of its orbit and made us all start over, is now ancient history.
For Collette, the Pawtucket, R.I.-based operator of guided tours worldwide, 2018 was its centennial year and marked a century since it was founded. Collette holds the title of America’s oldest existing tour operator.Read the rest of this entry »
After Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, announced her plan for tax cuts, the value of the country’s currency plunged. Now the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the British pound is outrageously good for American travelers. The dollar is now worth about £.90. That’s almost one for one. Considering that the pound was worth around two dollars as recently as the 2006-2008 period, that means the dollar has more buying power now in Britain than at almost any time in memory.Read the rest of this entry »
On Sept. 17, Dwight James, CEO of Delta Vacations, the airline’s vacation packaging operation, addressed the gathering of travel advisors at the Delta Vacations University in Atlanta about durable growth.
The agents had come to the event Sept. 17-18 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, at their own expense, to attend a learning conference built around a program of seminars and a trade show. The seminars were packed with specific information designed to enable them to operate their retail travel businesses more effectively and profitably.Read the rest of this entry »
Bruce Hodge, an Australian who met his South African wife in Europe, settled in Canada, and started a global tour operation in 1970, was not about to sit around twiddling his thumbs when the COVID lockdown paralyzed the travel industry. For Bruce, it was a chance to launch Goway 2.0.
“Goway 2.0 was Bruce’s vision of re-engineering the business from top to bottom,” said Craig Canvin, Goway’s senior vice president, in a conversation last week.
“Bruce’s plans for growth of the company are exceptional,” said Canvin. “It’s hard to keep up with them.”
The summer of 2021 tied with 1936 as the hottest summer in the 148 years records have been kept. This summer of 2022 hasn’t been quite as hot overall. It’s only the third hottest in history, but it’s had the hottest nights in US history, and multiple heat records set across the country. Climate is only one of ways the world is changing at a head-spinning rate. And it’s only one of the reasons to re-examine the conventional ways of looking at seasonality in travel.
Right now, as people are finally breaking free of the restraints of COVID, overcrowding at tourism sites has re-emerged as an issue to consider when making travel plans. This is a good time to consider traveling outside the historic summer vacation period.Read the rest of this entry »
“The Great Resignation” seems to have given way to “Quiet Quitting” at the worldwide virtual water cooler. It’s creating quite a stir, and a backlash too; but it doesn’t seem to me to boil down to anything too alarming. It’s got to be one of the worst slogans since “Defund the Police” or “Defund the FBI” in that it’s provocative, but doesn’t clearly communicate an idea. Such are the times.
The Wall Street Journal recently wrote that “What started as a quiet movement among office workers looking to draw firmer work-life boundaries after two years of pandemic overtime has grown into a rallying cry.” Getting out of hand, is it?
It was a post on LinkedIn that first drew my attention to Quiet Quitting. It was an article on the Moneywatch segment on CBS News, and it did not take a neutral stance. It sounded like someone was a little rattled by this new thing.Read the rest of this entry »
When Tourism Cares was formed in 2005, it was called Tourism Cares for Tomorrow. Now 17 years later, we find ourselves in that tomorrow. The environmental protection issues the organization was founded to address are no longer concerns for some distant future. They are extremely pressing issues that are right on top of us.
The vision Tourism Cares was founded on looks even better in hindsight than it looked at its inception. It was a mobilization based on the realization of people in the travel industry that environmental degradation, if allowed to go too far, would destroy their businesses.
It was the travel industry stepping up and taking responsibility to protect the environmental and cultural resources it depended on to operate its businesses. In the face of decades of inertia and failure in the public sector to take meaningful action to confront the problems of environmental destruction, it was an industry saying, “If not us, who? And if not now, when?”Read the rest of this entry »
For Marc Kavanagh, the founder of Journeys Connect, success in the travel industry is all about relationship.
“That’s how we built this business,” he told me earlier this week. “That’s the cornerstone. It’s built on relationships based on trust, and on making sure we deliver with integrity and trust. It’s different with B2B. The goal is long-term relationships.”
The 34-year veteran of the travel industry learned his trade through stints with a veritable hall of fame of travel providers in the Ireland travel industry. His career history includes years spent working for Ryanair, Brendan Vacations, Celtic Tours and Sceptre Tours, before founding Journeys Connect.
Kavanagh founded Journeys Connect in 2013 after building a group travel business called GCS Groups under DH Enterprise, the parent company of Sceptre Tours and operator of the Aer Lingus Vacation Store. Journeys Connect is all about custom group travel, creating itineraries and packages to order for groups as small as six or as large as thousands.Read the rest of this entry »
Do you believe you have the right to travel?
You may have taken it for granted that you are free to travel wherever and whenever you want for whatever reason you wish, but it may not be that simple. Legal reasoning can get very weird and can lead to some surprising places. And then there’s politics.
Dobbs v. Jackson, the recent Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and the right to have an abortion, was based on the idea that the right to an abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” proclaimed Justice Samuel Alito, in the majority opinion. “The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision…”
This could raise a red flag for some, because the word “travel” is also not mentioned in the Constitution Read the rest of this entry »
For Collette, the century-old Pawtucket, R.I.-based tour operator, the removal of COVID testing requirements for entering the US was the opening of the floodgates for people to travel again. I spoke to some of the Collette people last week.
“As soon as testing requirements were dropped, we immediately noticed that our phones were ringing off the hook for international travel,” said Amelia Sugerman, senior manager of strategic communications. “Prior to that, 70 percent had been domestic. But when they dropped testing on June 12, in the five days following, the next Monday through Friday, 75 percent of the calls were Read the rest of this entry »
Tauck is experiencing a post-lockdown boom that is making Steve Spivak, vice president of global sales, very happy. “We’re seeing such a great resurgence in the type of travel we offer,” he told me, “not just luxury, but truly immersive, bucket list-type travel.”
Tauck has already carried more passengers this year than it did in all of last year. Its booking pace has exceeded that of 2019, the last year before the COVID pandemic. As unprecedented as the lockdown was, the bounce back for Tauck is also creating a novel constellation of market forces. The pent-up demand is across the board for cruise and land products, destinations around the world, and various styles of travel packages. Tauck’s customers are ready to travel, to make up for lost time. And there’s a greater sense than ever that time is limited, and so may be their opportunities to fulfill their lifetime travel dreams Read the rest of this entry »
Some good news for travel to Cuba came last Wednesday, June 8. About three weeks after the Biden announced that it was pulling back some of the Trump-era restrictions on travel to Cuba, the government has clarified what those policy changes will consist of. The good news is that People to People travel is back.
The details of the regulatory structure were released by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the part of the United States Treasury Department that regulates what money can be spent by Americans in Cuba under the terms of the United States embargo.
The May 16 press release from the Biden administration established that the United States would again allow some fights to airports other than Havana, and would reinstate educational travel, but did not yet reinstate the “People to People” program. Tour operators would have to watch for OFAC to release the memo to Read the rest of this entry »
Good things are often hiding in plain sight. Sometimes it only takes a slight shift in the way we are looking at things to see benefits that were previously invisible to us. And sometimes ideas that were previously left by the wayside are shown to be worthy of reconsideration in a new context.
Decades ago I read a book called Design for the Real World by an industrial designer named Victor Papanek, the dean of the California Institute of the Arts. Papanek saw through standard conventions and came up with radically new ways to do things. He was also one of the early advocates of what we now call sustainability. He was always looking for ways to do things that were less wasteful, less polluting, and more benign for people and the environment. One of the ideas that struck me in his book was the idea of reviving the use of airships for transportation.
Airships, blimps, dirigibles, and zeppelins are like giant balloons. A huge aluminum chamber is filled with a gas that is lighter than air, so it pulls the craft up into the sky with no propulsion required. It flies the way a carnival balloon flies Read the rest of this entry »
It may seem strange to say I go to Africa to meet Americans, but it is one of the good things that happen when I attend Africa’s Travel Indaba, as I did in Durban, South Africa, May 3-5.
One of the many benefits of attending Indaba is being able to meet travel agents from the US who have been hosted by South African Tourism. Throughout the year, the tourism board works the trade show circuit in the US and singles out travel agents who are ripe for opening up business in Africa. Then, every year when Indaba rolls around in May, SAT brings a select few of them to South Africa. On one trip, SAT exposes them to the broad spectrum of the African travel industry at the one-stop trade show of Indaba, and then takes them around to give them a taste of South Africa.
I have met many American travel agents at Indaba, and it has given me a window into a blossoming market of African Americans traveling to Africa Read the rest of this entry »
From Wednesday to Monday I was in the northern, southern, eastern, and western hemispheres.
It’s nothing to brag about. There was nothing brilliant about it. On the contrary, it could be the worst-planned travel itinerary ever. The only accomplishment is that I survived it. But I did experience it, and that’s worth talking about. It was extraordinary.
I didn’t intentionally plan such a marathon. It only happened because there were two travel events that I absolutely could not miss. They happened to be very close together on the calendar, and very far apart on the globe.
I had already booked my flights to the Arctic Circle when it came time to book flights for the trip to Durban, South Africa Read the rest of this entry »
I had been eagerly looking forward to interviewing Robert Drumm, CEO of Alexander + Roberts, to hear his views on current events from his perspective as head of the company that has done more than any other to promote American tourism to Russia since the 1950s.
As explained elsewhere, Alexander + Roberts, under its previous name General Tours, was the first American tour operator to offer tours into Soviet Russia in the 1950s. It began in the early years of the Cold War, while there was a Red Scare blazing in the United States. Popular figures at the time were being blacklisted, prevented from earning a living, for even the suspicion of sympathies with the Communist Party at any time in their lives. It took a lot of courage for Alex Harris, the founder of General Tours, to launch tours to Russia in that climate.
Bob Drumm started working with Alex Harris in the ‘80s, and in the 1990s Harris passed the baton to him to head General Tours. Drumm continues to head the company today Read the rest of this entry »
It doesn’t feel right to talk about business as usual when we are confronted daily with the destruction of lives and monuments of civilization in Ukraine. It seems unseemly to gush about good news while such a horror is ongoing among people who look like they may have been just like you and me a month ago.
Nevertheless, there is some good news, and it’s important to recognize it, and to feel gratitude, remembering that “there but for the grace of God go I.” Read the rest of this entry »
Keeping a constant, anxious watch on the heartbreaking news pouring out of Ukraine, I have come across some demoralizing reports that say most Russians support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
On March 6 the Guardian reported that “Despite the international condemnation and sanctions that have met the military attack, Putin’s approval ratings have jumped in Russia since the invasion, according to Moscow-based pollsters. Putin’s rating rose six percentage points to 70 percent in the week to 27 February, according to the state pollster VTsIOM. The pollster FOM, which conducts research for the Kremlin, said Putin’s rating had risen seven percentage points to 71 percent in the same week.”
According to a March 8 article in the Washington Post, “58 percent of Russians support the invasion of Ukraine, and 23 percent oppose it, a new poll shows.”
One article showed a picture of an angry-looking Russian woman holding up a placard with a big Z on it, indicating her support of Read the rest of this entry »
I am one who believes that travel is one of the last, best hopes for a world wracked with war, prejudice, hatred and greed. I embrace the quote by Mark Twain: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
I see travel as more than a business. It’s a mission, a striving for world peace and harmony. In the age of nuclear weapons and Mutually Assured Destruction, it is needed more than ever. It’s hard to meet people in other countries, see how much their concerns are the same as yours, and still think it’s okay to kill them.
So here we are in the midst of a terrible tragedy in Ukraine that was brought about as an act of choice by one man with too much power. No one knows where it’s going, how far it will go, or how much of the world will be Read the rest of this entry »