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433

Canada International Overnight Visitors in 2012 Grew by 2%

•Canada rolled out the welcome mat for 16 million international overnight visitors in 2012, a 2% year-on-year rise that was driven by a 3% leap in American travellers. •More tourists translated into more money flowing into Canada, with international visitor spending contributing a tidy $12.3 billion to the national economy, up 2% on 2011. •Tourism demand grew 4% in 2012, reaching $82 billion. Of that, domestic demand thickened 5% to hit $66 billion, with international demand nudging up 3% to $16 billion. •The total tourism gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 was $32.3 billion, 2% of the overall national GDP. •Youth is having its fling, with overseas arrivals aged 24 or under climbing 24% to make up 20% of the total. •Canadians sought more international adventures in 2012, taking more 32 million overnight trips, a 6% year-on-year gain. •Those travelling Canucks spent big, too, shelling out over $30 billion with Uncle Sam and elsewhere internationally. •Chinese travellers had an unquenchable thirst for Canadian adventures in 2012, taking 273,000 overnight trips to this country, a 16% year-on-year climb. •Brazilians love to spend on their travels: with an average of $1,941 per trip and an average stay of 19.5 days, they again had the deepest pockets of all travellers from CTC’s key international markets. •The Mexico market maintained its strong recovery, registering a 6% boost in Canadian arrivals. •Meanwhile, the South Korea market endured another dip in fortunes, with Canadian overnighters falling 2% to 137,000. •Australia remained a golden market for Canada, with 219,000 eager Aussies crossing the Pacific in 2012, a 2% year-on-year boost. •It was Yankee doodle dandy for the US leisure travel market, which grew 3% on 2011, clocking up 10.1 million overnight trips. •The US meetings, conventions and incentive travel (MC&IT) looked robust, too, in 2012 with 1.8 million overnight trips, up 2%. These business folk spent $1.5 billion on the road in Canada. •The UK is Canada’s largest overseas market, but struggled again in 2012 due to government austerity measures tightening belts amid a Eurozone economic crisis. Overnight visitor numbers to Canada fell 4% as a consequence. •Subdued economic news also put Germans off long-haul travel, with Canadian overnighters falling 5% in 2012 to 277,000.



430

Will last minute hotel booking players really disappear in three years?

Last-minute hotel deals via mobile devices have, to some extent, become a new distribution channel for hotels – with numerous startups created to capitalise on the model. But, controversially perhaps, HRS CEO Tobias Ragge says that the majority of these startups could be out of business within three years. There are a number of established players (such as the largest independent one, HotelTonight) and other emerging players in all major regions. Many of these players are well-funded and they are constantly expanding to new regions to offer last-minute hotel deals on mobile/website. Tobias’ comment about fragility of the model in a recent WebInTravel article has triggered many responses. Interestingly, HRS itself has a last-minute hotel reservation app by the name Hotels Now, which has hotels listed in 120 countries. The app has apparently been downloaded by 750,000 users.



427

Is the social media boom already at an end?

Venture capital funding to social networks peaked in 2011 at 21% Since then investment from internet-based firms has dropped steadily Social now gets 2% of funding and analysts claim the bubble is bursting According to Bloomberg Business Week, from 2010 until the second quarter of 2012, social media companies including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and others consistently received at least six per cent of funding from internet-based enterprises. During the third quarter of 2011, this figure peaked at 21 per cent when the social sector received around $3.8 billion in internet deals from venture capital firms. However, for three out of the last four quarters start-ups with a social business model have received just 2 per cent. This would have been lower, too, if it wasn't for a substantial $200 million investment into photo-pinning site Pinterest, from businesses including Valiant Capital, in February. When Facebook floated on the stock exchange in 2012 its shares launched at $38 each. However, over the course of the opening weekend this fell by 11% on Monday and a further 9% on Tuesday - to $31 each. The current price for Facebook shares is now around $26 each. Some analysts have compared this drop in funding to the one experienced when the dot-com bubble crashed at the start of the century. Yet, Anand Sanwal, founder of CB Insights told Bloomberg Business Week that this current drop is not the same. He said that 'boring companies that make tech products to sell to businesses seem to be in ascendance.' Also, despite the total funding equating to only two per cent last quarter, this does still equate to around $3.625 billion. This figure is close to the amount the companies received during their peak in the third quarter of 2011, its just that the overall investment levels are higher making the percentage smaller. And although social media investment dropped, the amount of funding to business and mobile apps increased.



424

What doTMCs HBA’s do well, and not so well in their technology

TMCs and some HBAs are reliant on GDS technology for hotel bookings and for rates and inventory; however it is generally accepted the number and variety of hotels listed on the GDS do not adequately meet market needs. Additionally, descriptive text, property facilities, service information, images and rich media via these systems in many cases is inadequate. The emergence of ‘open’ GDS platforms will enable HBAs and TMCs to combine User Defined Content and non-GDs properties within a streamlined booking facility. Technology to support the meeting, events conferences and groups business still remains a weakness. But now HBAs and TMCs are starting to place bespoke meetings and events portals into their clients. These portals (which can be created in under an hour) focus on their client’s business processes as well as the venue-find and negotiation activity. So, detailed cost centre, department, and reason for meeting can be enabled as well as obtaining senior management approvals and sign-off. Additionally clients can see their preferred properties, and the promotions these venues are offering, together with a vast array of other similar offerings. Safety and security is paramount and these client-facing portals enable the client to reach all personnel who are off-site, in meetings. Additional, relevant information is also being provided via blogs and calendar of events. Martin Coleman, Chairman and Publisher, ABC Connection



421

Hotel Booking Agents : Making the right technology investment

In the last decade, HBAs and TMCs worked to create efficiencies and cut costs through surges in technology investment and sweeping standardisation programs. For a time, that strategy created advantage, but it also sapped flexibility. Some companies now find themselves saddled with inflexible systems and processes. Senior management now need to find the right balance between standardisation and flexibility within the context of their company’s overarching business strategy. The days of ‘white-label’ are over. Generic solutions will not meet the needs of tomorrow’s buyer Up-to-date technologies facilitate significant performance improvement within the HBA but also within their client companies HBAs technology spend needs to be concentrated on delivering bespoke client-facing portals that meets their precise clients’ needs. Hotel and venue promotional offers must immediately be delivered to point of sale. HBAs need to provide high quality, detailed, online proposals and make available relevant and actionable management information. HBAs and TMCs who work with ABC Connection and deploy these portals are experiencing significant revenue growth from existing customers in a period where the market is tough. This bespoke client-facing portal technology is also winning significant new business for both HBAs and TMCs. HBAs also need to consider client training costs; increased training spend delivers more users and reduced the time spend over the phone as well as increased business ! Integrating User Defined Content (UDC) into existing systems is a low-cost, high-quality solution that is now being adopted by many HBAs and TMCs. And bespoke client proposals incorporating a ‘Proposal XML’ delivers high-quality, up-to-date information and images at little or no cost.


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