CalTravel Connections Newsletter
CalTravel Ticker
Volume 8 | #4 | August, 2011
In This Issue
Please enjoy this edition of the Ticker newsletter brought to you as a service of the California Travel Association (CalTravel), under the direction of CalTravel's Communications Committee, and Ted Molter, CalTravel 2011-12 Immediate Past Chair.

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International tourism maintains momentum despite challenges
International tourist arrivals grew by 4.5% in the first four months of 2011, despite new challenges emerging since the beginning of the year. According to the latest issue of the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, growth was positive in all regions with the exception of the Middle East. Some subregions achieved double-digit growth: South America (+17%), South Asia (+14%) and South-East Asia (+10%). Read more...

Business Travel Spending to Remain Steady Despite Slow Economy
A new survey by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) finds that business travel spending and volume remained steady in the second quarter of 2011, despite threats to the economic recovery. Indeed, GBTA found business travel spending in the second quarter reached an estimated $62.2 billion, up 6.3 percent compared to the same quarter last year.

What's more, GBTA is forecasting total business travel spending growth in 2011 to remain strong at 6.9 percent according to the latest Business Travel Quarterly Outlook for the United States from the Global Business Travel Association Foundation, GBTA's education and research arm. Read more...

Survey Shows Summer Vacations Plans May Change Due to Economy
A new study of U.S. employees (including those self employed) reveals workers may change or cancel summer travel plans if the recent volatility in the economy continues. According to the survey, conducted online in June 2011 by Harris Interactive on behalf of jobs and career community Glassdoor, 45 percent of employees and those self employed who have or plan to take a vacation would reduce or cancel their plans to save money if the economy continues its volatility.

The survey also found that more than half (52 percent) of full time/part time/self employed adults 18-34 would change their vacation plans if the economy continues its volatility, as would 44 percent of employees ages 35-44 and 42 percent of ages 45-54. Older workers are less likely to do so, with just over one-third (36 percent) of employees ages 55 people would change or cancel their trip. Read more...

Strong Tourism of Mega-Sporting Events on Tourism
Visa Inc. has published a new report that shows mega-sporting events have a major positive impact on the tourism fortunes of countries that host major sporting event, at least based on the spending patterns of Visa cardholders. The report analyzes cardholder spending for three recent mega-sporting events: the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and the Beijing 2008 Olympics Games.

According to Visa, these three events served as catalysts of economic recovery for the host country and nations surrounding it in terms of international tourism spending. For each of the three events analyzed, there was healthy growth in Visa payment card expenditure during the event compared to the year prior, including growth of 82 percent for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, 93 percent for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, and 15 percent for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Read more...
Monterey Bay Aquarium Introduces $19 Million 'The Open Sea' in California
The exhibit replicates an area of the Pacific Ocean approximately 200 miles (322 kilometers) from Monterey. "The Open Sea" also features new art installations, specialized lighting, and a revamped "Ocean Travelers" gallery with interactive multimedia displays. Read more...

Natural History Museum Introduces Dinosaur Hall July 16 in Los Angeles, California
The revamped 14,000-square-foot (1,301-square-meter) permanent exhibit is twice as large as the museum's previous dinosaur galleries. It houses the world's only Tyrannosaurus rex growth series, featuring fossils of animals at age 2, 13, and 17. The opening of the "Dinosaur Hall" marks the halfway point in the museum's $135 million renovation. Read more...

Ghost Ship Halloween Attraction to Set Sail from Newport Beach, California
Inspired by the "Ghost Ship" horror movie, the 150-foot-long (46-meter-long) yacht will take up to 400 passengers on a 75-minute ocean cruise. The ship will feature three decks of attractions haunted by "criminally insane inmates," and guests will witness a public "execution" in a live 4-D theater setting. The Ghost Ship will sail on weekends from Oct. 14 to Oct. 29. Tickets cost $59 per person. Read more...

Ride Designers Discuss Universal Studios' 'Transformers: The Ride - 3D'
Industrial Light and Magic, which created special effects for the "Transformers" films, is working with Universal Creative to develop 3-D characters and visuals for the ride. Designers discuss the attraction's development. The ride is scheduled to open next spring at Universal Studios theme parks in California and Singapore. Read more...

Six Flags Magic Mountain Unveils 'Green Lantern: First Flight' Coaster in Valencia, California
Riders can choose to face forward or backward on the fourth-dimension vertical roller coaster. After the initial "test-and-adjust phase," the rocking, spinning cars will be allowed to rotate more freely, according to a reporter who describes the experience. "Green Lantern," which is Six Flags Magic Mountain's 18th coaster, is part of the revamped DC Universe section of the park. Read more...

San Diego Zoo Safari Park Introduces "Shiley's Cheetah Run" in California
The attraction features cheetahs chasing toys around a track at speeds up to 70 miles (113 kilometers) per hour. After the race, trainers present information about the animals and their importance in the wild. The daily show, which is free for park visitors, runs through Aug. 21. Reserved seating and interaction with the animals is available for $40. Read more...
One-tank trips in five states
Money's tight and gas prices are high, but a change of scenery is good for the soul.

As the country tries to balance prices at the pump with the all-American summer vacation, CNN asked six of its reporters to share easy road trip recommendations from their stomping grounds. Take this drive with them in Minnesota, Washington, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Florida.                                           Read more...

All Available Tickets Distributed for Debut of Plaza at National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City
More than 24,000 free tickets to the new memorial plaza were given out in the first few hours after they were posted online. The plaza opens Sept. 12, a day after the 10th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center. Since the plaza can only accommodate 1,500 people at once, tickets are timed to prevent overcrowding. Read more...

Ocean Algae Impacts Business at Sylvan Beach Amusement Park in New York
After the health department advised people not to swim in the ocean due to high levels of blue-green algae, business dropped about 20 percent at Sylvan Beach Amusement Park. Owner Pat Goodenow said the biggest challenge is to convince visitors there is more to the village of Sylvan Beach than the ocean. Read more...

$1 Million Dig This Park Debuts in Las Vegas, Nevada
Guests use bulldozers and excavators to dig trenches or build mounds at the first digger theme park in the United States. In its first month of operation, half of the customers have been women. Guests pay $400 for a three-hour session, which includes 30 minutes of instruction. Ed Mumm developed the 5-acre (2-hectare) attraction and hopes to open similar parks in other U.S. locations, Japan, and Australia. Read more...
Belfast Museum Exhibit Marks 100th Anniversary of Titanic
Belfast in Northern Ireland, birthplace of the RMS Titanic, is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the luxury liner's launch with a major exhibition and living history experience. Running through June 2012, "TITANICa" at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum gives an insight into the world's most famous ship, the Belfast people who built it and those who sailed on her fateful maiden voyage.

The exhibition puts around 500 original artifacts, some recovered from the seabed, on show. They include a porthole from the ship, a launch ticket and the bulkhead plan showing last-minute design changes. There's also personal items such as a stewardess's apron and a postcard sent by Robert Phillips, who was travelling with his daughter. He perished in the disaster but his daughter survived. Read more...

Environmental Park Planned in Nagpur, India
The Nagpur Municipal Corporation announced plans to develop a 5-acre (2-hectare) "environmental theme park" at Major Surendra Deo Park. Designed to increase children's awareness about conservation, it will feature models of environmental projects, a children's park, gardens, and trails. The park is expected to open by the end of the year. Read more...
U.S. Hotel Construction Pipeline Drops 11.4 Percent in June
According to the STR/McGraw Hill Construction Dodge Pipeline report, the total active U.S. hotel development pipeline in June was 2,967 projects totaling 317,941 rooms. This represents an 11.4 percent decrease in the number of rooms in the total active pipeline compared to June 2010. The total active pipeline data includes projects in the In Construction, Final Planning and Planning stages, but does not include projects in the Pre-Planning stage.
The number of rooms in the In Construction phase for the New York market stands now at 5,583, a significant decline (down 38 percent) from last year's 9,416. But the market continues to lead all markets with the number of rooms overall in the active pipeline. With more than 20,000 rooms in the In Construction, Final Planning or Planning phases, New York dwarfs in comparison the market coming in second, Las Vegas with 9,958 rooms, and comprises 11.7 percent of all construction going on nationally. Orlando continues its growth period, up 138 percent over last year with 3,053 rooms under construction. And with the 800-room Omni in full hard-hat mode, Nashville moves in at fifth among the top markets with rooms under construction having more than 1,300. Read more...

Joe Montana wins bid to build hotel next to new 49ers stadium
Joe Montana is reinventing himself as a hotel operator.

The Hall of Fame quarterback won a deal with the city of Santa Clara Tuesday to build a luxury hotel and restaurants on city-owned land next to a future stadium for the San Francisco 49ers, according to The San Jose Mercury News.

Over the objection of the city manager, the Santa Clara City Council voted 5-1 to enter exclusive negotiations with Montana, the report says.

Montana, who says he has received interest from international hotel chains, is working with a group of investors - including Eddie DeBartolo, former owner of the 49ers - to build the project. Read more...

Hotel housekeeping: Do you tip?
Business traveler Bob Logan always tips hotel housekeepers, but he still has questions about the best way to do it.

"Let's say I'm going into a hotel for three nights, do I leave something every night, do I do it only at the end? Does the housekeeper at the end -- is it the same one that did it the other night?" wonders Logan, a New Jersey business development director who spends about 50 nights a year in hotels.

Housekeeping is a realm of hotel tipping that even frequent travelers find confusing. Tipping the bellman is obvious; he's standing right there. But many guests skip tips for the hidden housekeepers or forget gratuities in the scramble to get out of the room.

Survey data shows that about 30% of U.S. hotel guests leave tips for hotel housekeepers, according to Michael Lynn, a professor at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. Read more...

'Boatel' rides wave of popularity near JFK airport
Move over hotels and motels. This summer, a one-of-a-kind "boatel" is riding a wave of popularity in Far Rockaway, N.Y., the New York Daily News tells us.

Located on Jamaica Bay near John F. Kennedy International Airport, four 30-foot-long motorboats have been converted into a floating, no-frills hotel on Jamaica Bay, the story says.

A fifth boat is a 1967 houseboat - with a deer head mounted on an inside wall - can sleep up to five. There's even a makeshift movie theater. Read more...
Amtrak Predicts Record 30 Million Passengers for 2011
Amtrak is projecting that for the first time its annual ridership will exceed 30 million passengers and in the process will set a new all-time record when the current fiscal year ends Sept. 30. "We are having a very strong year because people around the country are choosing the convenience, efficiency and hassle-free environment of Amtrak to meet their travel needs," said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. "Amtrak has wisely invested the federal funding we have received to improve infrastructure and equipment." Read more...

DOT Wants More Information from Airlines on Fees, Baggage and Other Issues
The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) wants airlines to give it more information about the amount and types of fees airlines collect from passengers, as well as the number of checked bags and mishandled wheelchairs. It has proposed a new rule that would require airlines to provide that information.

The proposal would revise current reporting requirements to improve data collection on the amount airlines receive from different, specific types of fees. "Our goal is to improve the quality of data we collect from airlines and make airline pricing more transparent," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "In an era of rising fees, passengers deserve better information about how airlines are performing, particularly when it comes to fees, baggage and accommodating passengers in wheelchairs."

Airlines currently submit quarterly reports on revenue from baggage fees and reservation change fees to DOT's Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Airlines received $3.4 billion from baggage fees and $2.3 billion from reservation change fees in 2010. Read more...

BTC Says Trusted Traveler Program Needs to Correct Flaws
The Business Travel Coalition (BTC) is praising the Transportation Security Administration's plan to relaunch a Trusted Traveler (TT) program. However, it has identified flaws that should be corrected for the TT program to work.

TSA needs to assume from TT vendors the responsibility for managing members' background checks, BTC said. Instead of cross-checking members' names against the national terrorism watch list, more robust criminal history background checks need to be conducted on members, and re-certified at regular intervals.

The TSA should own the complete screening technology sourcing budget and process so that transparent accountability would be ensured and to guarantee a consistent security product. That would also enable a more strategic view as to how new screening technologies could be implemented for the benefit of all airline passengers and leveraged into required uses in other transportation modes, BTC said. Read more...

Delta Set to Eliminate Service to 24 Small U.S. Markets
Delta Air Lines is notifying the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) of its plans to adjust flying in 24 small markets. In concert with the retirement of Delta's Saab fleet and to halt $14 million in annual losses, the changes will affect Essential Air Service (EAS) markets.

Flights in these markets on average depart with 52 percent of the seats filled, with some locations as low as 12 percent. This compares to a domestic system load factor of 83 percent for 2010. Weak demand in some markets has led to flights occasionally operated with no passengers on board. Among the affected markets are Thief River Falls, Minn.; Greenville, Miss.; Devils Lake, S.D.; Muscle Shoals, Ala.; Tupelo, Miss.; Mason City, Iowa; Pierre. S.D.; Iron Mountain, Mich.; Sioux City, Iowa; and Butte. Mont.

While Delta said it would prefer to continue serving these communities, the new reality of mounting cost pressures faced by airlines means it can no longer afford to provide this service. Delta is retiring the Saab turboprops and some 50-seat jet aircraft, which will hinder the financial viability of serving these smaller markets, the airline said in a press statement. Read more...

Families Flock to Disney Dream Cruise Ship
The Walt Disney Company's newest cruise ship has sailed near capacity during its first five months of operation. The 1,250-room ship averaged nearly 3,800 passengers per voyage. One analyst projects the ship could eventually contribute $25 million in operating profit each quarter. Read more...
TripAdvisor Buys Where I've Been Social Media Travel Website
TripAdvisor, which calls itself the world's largest travel site (based on Media Metrix numbers from May 2011), is gobbling up other travel websites almost as fast as it acquires hotel reviews from users. On July 11 it announced the acquisition of Where I've Been, LLC, a travel website and social platform with a detailed interactive world map that lets users share where they've been, lived or want to go. Chicago-based Where I've Been was founded by Michael Dalesandro and Craig Ulliott. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Where I've Been allows users to share their world map on social networks and interact with like-minded users. The website's Facebook application has allowed 10 million people to create color coded travel maps that have allowed users to show "where they've been" to the tune of close to half a billion places. Members also can upload stories and photos, source the community for answers to travel questions and browse the website's travel Guide, which displays socially relevant information first. Read more...

Google Reportedly Set to Launch New Travel Search Engine
TechCrunch, an online newsletter with breaking tech news, is reporting that Google is planning to launch an ITA integrated-flight search product as soon as a few weeks from now. The U.S. Department of Justice in April approved Google's $700 million acquisition of airfare search company ITA and Google officially closed the acquisition a few days later. TechCrunch said Google has made it clear that it will use ITA's data to create new flight search tools, though Google also said it will honor its existing agreements with partners such as Kayak, Microsoft and Expedia.

TechCrunch said one feature that Google apparently has in development is a map-based search tool that will show flight prices from destinations. Travelers will be able to choose filters of where they want to fly, get a price range, and then access these results on a map interface. Another feature would offer search results of flights, times and fares based on search terms and a user's IP address, so a consumer in New York searching for beach vacations could see results for airfares to Florida or North Carolina. Read more...
The arrogance of willful ignorance
People have come before us, failed, learned, written it down. Scientists have figured out what works, and proven it. Economists have gained significant understanding about the long-term impacts of short-term decisions. And historians have seen it all before.

How dare we, then, decide to just wing it? To skip class. To make up history. To imagine that science is a matter of opinion, something optional, a diversion for the leisure classes... How can we work in the marketing tech field, for example, without knowing about David Ogilvy and Lester Wunderman and Claude Hopkins? Or Kaushik and Shirky?

If you're doing important work (and I'm hoping you are), then you owe it to your audience or your customers or your co-workers to learn everything you can. Feel free to ignore what you learn, but at least learn it. Read more...
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