15 May 2009

Brits Want It Warm - But Where?

Those nice people at Skyscanner have been happy to share their search data with us.

Here are the list of risers:

Going Up – the biggest rising summer holiday destinations for Brits

1. Bangkok, Thailand (+271%)
2. Los Angeles, USA (+170%)
3. Porto, Portugal (+163%)
4. Dalaman, Turkey (+160%)
5. Orlando, USA (+158%)
6. Istanbul, Turkey (+157%)
7. Sharm El Sheik, Egypt (+156%)
8. Bodrum, Turkey (+153%)
9. Burgas, Bulgaria (+152%)
10. Oslo, Norway (+143%)

And the Biggest Losers?

Going Down – biggest falls in interest of summer holiday destinations for Brits

1. Prague, Czech Republic (-15%)
2. Cork, Republic of Ireland (-13%)
3. Paphos, Cyprus (-11%)
4. Geneva, Switzerland (-6.5%)
5. Palma, Spain (-6%)
6. Pisa, Italy (-5.5%)
7. Nice, France (-5%)
8. Bordeaux, France (-4.5%)
9. Menorca, Spain (-4%)
10. Venice, Italy (-3%)

Biggest rises and losses in flight searches on Skyscanner.net for summer 09 (May 1st-Aug 30th) compared to summer 08. Flights from UK airports.

Interesting - draw your own conclusion. For more details go to www.skyscanner.net


Indaba-2009 - More of the Same

The Professor was not able to go to Indaba in Durban ZA this year... I do hope to next!

So how was it? From a distribution and general sentiment point of view - the optimist in me would say quiet.

The Professor's local spy noted that it was much quieter and wetter than last year, crowds were well down. The opening night beach party was postponed for an hour, but the rain was coming down so hard that not many people went anyway. They do need to think about this in future.

Travelport had a breakfast function and announced nothing (again).

Announcements of a new deal between Travelport and SAA have been imminent for some time but don't hold your breath.

Cheers - there is always next year

US ARC numbers - Getting Better?

Pre-Swine/Pig/Mexican/H1N1 Flu numbers have just been published for Jan-April 2009 for US agency sales.

They may show a little bit of hope - however the possibility has been dashed with the early returns for May as reported by Travelport that show transactions dropping yet again.

Sorry chaps... lets hope for a recovery in June.


14 May 2009

Do Web Ads Have Time Period Sensitivity?

This is a fascinating question - is there a prime time to the web when advertising is better received.

As we all know (or should know by now) the web is now absorbing as much mindshare as TV. For certain population segments the web has surpassed that of TV. Conan O'Brien who takes over from Jay Leno on the Tonight Show June 1st is even running ads on the US Network NBC touting that his show looks better on TELEVISION.

eMarketer using UK research drawn from Lightspeed Research and the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB UK), show that the best time is (not surprisingly) night time.


Now note that because effectively you live in REAL time on the web - yet you can time shift tv - this is more effective information that can be used. Thus Evening viewers really are evening viewers rather than slotting a commercial into US Prime Time TV that has a greater than 40% chance that it will be time shifted.

But perhaps we should accept that the amount of influence formal advertising has over us has diminished over time and now the new "Hidden Persuaders"* are those who run Google and Facebook.

Time to finally move over Madison Avenue - its all about the Valley now.


* For those who are tender in their youth and don't get the reference - go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vance_Packard

Latest Airline TLA/Buzzword - ATI

So the airlines all want it - legislators (as if they don't have enough to do are very happy to enjoy this distraction) - what the heck am I talking about ATI?


So frankly I am not a huge fan of creating specific exemptions from good laws. Anti-Trust Immunity means that you are engaging in a practice that you freely admit is anti-Trust (and therefore against the law) yet you want to be exempt so you can engage in something that well is not exactly consumer friendly.

I prefer Black and White. Grey/Gray is not a good color combination.

At the moment there is a significant debate driven largely by Continental's shift from Skyteam to Star and by the expansion of the 3 big alliances. BA-AA-IB (that's BAAABI to regulars of this blog) is still out there. Now the BTC has thrown its voice in support of AA in this manner.

So let's see if I get this right. Several OneWorld airlines are requesting ATI so that they can combine their resources at LHR and across the Atlantic (in normal times among the most profitable routes on the planet), OK fair enough so far. But by combining them - they have a footprint that is at least bigger than all their competitors combined? The justification? the other ATI players have bigger footprints in their home markets. Following their logic this safeguards competition?

Sorry I just don't and cannot buy that argument.

Interestingly enough Air Transport World in their latest editorial penned by Perry Flint is voicing its objection to the EC proposal to make the ATI automatically reviewed at least every 3 years.

I really think that we need to have good competition. We need to have fair competition. I am against ATI. I hope that in future - there will be a clear formula that can emerge that will allow airlines to compete truly competitively without Government Intervention except for consumer protection.

Right now I don't see it. I guess I am more in the Richard Branson camp on this one.

This is going to be a battle that will run for some time yet. May the fairest of them all win out.


LAN Loses Baggage Container To JAL 747

Or better known as LD2 meets outboard starboard engine

At LAX a passing JAL 747-400 pax aircraft sucked in a loose LAN owned LD1 lower deck container. It could have been a LD3 we cannot tell - LAN owns both types. The exact details are on Monday 11 May 2009, a metal baggage container - measuring approximately 5 feet by 5 feet by 4 feet - was sucked into the engine of a Japan Airlines Boeing 747 with 245 passengers from Los Angeles International Airport. The accident occurred about 1:30 p.m. when Flight 61 to Narita, Japan, pulled back from Gate 101 at the Tom Bradley International Terminal. Airport officials said the vacuum created by the air intake of the left outboard engine was so strong it pulled the empty container off a baggage cart that was either parked or driven too close to the aircraft. There were no injuries and other arrangements were made for the 245 passengers and 18 crew members

The result - a great day for Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=picE8ZvknpA

EC Gets Tough On Air Ticket Pricing (Update - see at end)

The European Commission is on a mission to force airline tickets to be displayed to the consumer as clearly and as plainly as well as - er - paint. Thus the price offered is the price you pay. A collision course you might say with the airlines and their distributors who are trying to drive ancillary revenue from add-ons. Something that many airlines believe and are now demonstrating is actually saving their behinds.

The EC has a clear position and has enacted legislation to ensure that the conditions are clear and unambiguous. EC Vice President Antonio Tajani (ITALY), in charge of Transport said, "Applying full price transparency is an obligation under the air services regulation. It is a duty for airlines to impose high standards across the industry; it is our responsibility to ensure that all players respect the same rules. This is of first and foremost importance for the consumer who wants to compare prices across airlines and make a real choice."

Thanks to Professor Andrew in Saint Louis for this tip. Today (May 14th) the EC published is second report. There are several links to go to:


For the first round of tables go here:

So far they are not naming the bad people only the good ones or the ones "not yet in compliance".

Bottom line folks - the US could learn a thing or two about this form of consumer protection. You can be sure the Obama Administration and Jim Oberstar http://oberstar.house.gov/ are all over this one. Will we see a US bill of rights or a charter of the same sort WITH teeth? not likely at this stage.

However it is clear that if the airline play the ancillary revenue obfuscation game - it is inviting re-regulation. Be careful what you wish for!


The EC's enforcement page was down when I wrote the first version of this post. Therefore you can now find the enforcement details updated here:


Busy Week... Lots of Stories!

So this has been a busy few weeks. While I have been on the road - I have spent some time trying to understand the state of the travel "economy". There are some noticeable representative signs of the recession. Hotels have fewer staff. Whole floors have been shut off. Restaurants are noticeably less full. etc etc.

The big question for many remains are we there yet? There being the bottom of the curve. Even if we are "there" which a few people seem to believe - the next sequential question is what sort of recovery will we have and how long will it take to return to "normal" - whatever that is.

The general consensus seems to be that the general market is down around 12 points. Consistent with what I have been saying so far - this is the 15%. What we are seeing continues to confirm the position that the GDSs are suffering far worse than the overall market. This is due to the nature of the bulk of their business being dependent on the corporate market. Travelport's numbers this week are stark evidence of the depth of the downturn. Worldspan's numbers continue to plummet Galileo is not doing much better.

The retraction is affecting just about everyone. We do see some bright spots. Norwegian is a good example - they seem to be profiting from the re-trenchment of SAS. LAN is another example who is determined to face the recession by expanding. Despite some pretty awful numbers - Lufthansa seems determined to bulk up through acquisition of some smaller players in Europe.

So here are some other stories that have caught my eye and a few comments:

Ryanair continues its relentless push towards the automated airline. One major new charge - lose your automated boarding pass and you have to pay the equivalent of $55. To the relief of Americans coming to Europe, FR has announced that it will not be charging the fat tax - with a caveat. As soon as they figure out how to collect it without disrupting 25 minute turn arounds - then you can expect it to come back.

Air Jamaica has a new twist on the second bag price. Oh yes we make you pay and we dont guarantee delivery on this flight. Come back tomorrow was a headline in Travel Weekly. Not that JM's bag services have been anything to write home about of late!

Chris Rodrigues is relinquishing the CEO title to his deputy at Visit Britain. Looks like he wants a more political focus in the run up to the UK Olympics in 3 years.

ATM was great say the organizers. You know my opinion. It really was a lot less than last year. So far I have not seen official statistics other than the number of stands - I wonder of that quantity - how many of them were actually occupied.

Speaking of Dubai - this week's stupid vendor tricks award goes to FlyDubai.

Here is a snap shot of their announcements page.

As you can see - even though they dont start service until June they want to default the booking widget to today's date. Tsk Tsk. For a professional outfit like FZ, they (and their provider Radixx) should do better. Still I wish them all the best for their first flights that take off on June 1st. Air Arabia watch out - these guys are coming for your blood!

Also Emirates (no relation to FlyDubai) has concluded a deal with BT to consolidate their call centers into a single global comms entity. More power to them on this one - their 9 CCs and then various CTOs will now be linked by a new network provided by BT.

SITA announced one of the first deliverables in its next gen PSS - the Customer Journey CJ to replace the former passenger record we all know and love called the PNR. Best of luck to Jim Peters and his crew on this one.

And finally - latest to hold out the hand or more accurately point the nose into the stimulus trough is Sabre. They are raising dire warnings of hell fire and brimstone if the government doesnt do something to stimulate travel (and consequently improve Sabre's GDS bookings!).

10 May 2009

"Brits Want It Warm" Says Skyscanner

Skyscanner like several other sites does these nice polls. I like the ones they do as they provide a nice little insight to the minds of the consumer from different perspectives.

Of course I would caution anyone in reading too much into such research. So they asked Britons why they travel. For the full results go here:


Commenting on the results - Barry Smith one of the founders said “Our poll shows that Britons’ love of sun is still the most important driving force behind holiday location choice. Although the recession is influencing travel choices, escaping Britain’s gloomy climate is the most essential goal. Sunny countries that are non-euro such as Turkey and Croatia are likely to be especially popular this summer.”

Now here is the conundrum. Brits like many other nationalities in Europe have kept their wallets, purses, handbags and cash closed. Thus there has been far less advance booking this year. If the UK summer is going to be good then the chances for a late booking bonanza is not likely. The weather prognostication is just that - a hot British Summer. People are going to be staying at home and spending their money at B&Q and Homebase rather than Ryanair and Thomas Cook.

Look for the volume of special offers to pick up in the coming weeks.