Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Cruise Inside Cabins Get a View

A peal for help, travel video of the week features a two-ton bell in a museum in Eastern China, which fell on a tourist, trapping him inside. Afterwards Lin Wang said: ‘It’s a bell, it’s supposed to be rung. They should have made sure it was safe.’ “Do you think rich people have recessions?” the keynote speaker Anthony Iannarino enquired of the delegates at the 2013 Travel Counsellors Ireland Conference in Fota on Friday. Iannarino, author of the sales blog and a player in the motivational speaking circuit, bulwarked the central thesis of the conference (slogan: “with us it’s personal”), that travel retail sales today are MORE about relationships and LESS about transactions, since technology has transformed the booking process and made less relevant most of the transactional stuff that used to occupy agents time. Kirsten Hughes, the Travel Counsellors, commercial director recalled her own days at Lunn Poly when having a conversation with a customer was regarded as a misdemeanour by the managers. Travel Counsellors founder David Speakman says that market penetration in Ireland was high but could be increased substantially, and that the economy could sustain double the number of Travel Counsellors Ireland has at present. Speakman spoke for half an hour without notes or slides, telling the delegates in his evangelical style that “everything can be done by computers, but not emotion. Find dreams for people. What you have to sell is emotion. Make sure you are in emotion, and not in process.” Travel Counsellors CEO Steve Byrne declared: “personal works – it is powerful stuff.” Speakman said “disposable income in Ireland has been set back five years to 2006 levels, can you settle for that?” he said Ireland is doing well – it just has too much debt,” and reverting to his euro-skeptic tradition, proposed that Ireland should leave the EU and default on its “debts toGerman banks.” Bernie Whelan Cathy Burke Ciara McConnell Irish country manager Cathy Burke (centre above, with Bernie Whelan on left, Ciara McConnell on right) outlined the progress the group have made over the past twelve months in Ireland, adding the fact that members of the team have given birth to five babies in the past 12 months with another on the way. Irish TC’s have the highest margins in world, the highest sales per TC in the world, and the highest market share in the world. Sales were up 8pc to March, the average margin up 11.10pc and sales on the group’s customized GDS Phenix up 55pc. The latest top-tier Gold Travel Counsellor is Jennifer O’Brien who crossed line at 8pm on Wednesday night. Travel Counsellors are starting a training programme for their first two recruits to come from outside the traditional agency structure, who will pay €8,000 each for a training course similar to that offered in England. Ireland is the first country to get access to Phenix quotes system. Innovations available to TC’s include a “Recommended Plus” facility, a peer review for Travel Counsellors. “The success of Tripadvisor proves people are looking for advice,” Speakman said. “A Tripadviser reviewer does not have a context on which to rate a hotel. You do. They can go to a hotel and give it five stars because they have never been in a hotel before. People need someone they can trust. You are those people.“ Although David Speakman raised a few ripples of laughter when he declared that “the Dreamliner is a cracking plane” Iannarino went to Sligo for the best reaction of the three days when he quoted WB Yeats: “Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.” Everyone there recognised the thought. Speakman, whose opening remarks referred to the accusations that Travel Counsellors is like a cult, (“we are a cult, because a cult is about culture, about belonging, a very successful cult”) became flustered only once throughout the event. The husband of one of the Irish Travel Counsellors (who shall not been named but may have been the former Dublin county footballer who recently managed a leading northside club for three years) asked him why his beloved Bolton was not in the Premiership. Some thoughts are too deep and philosophical for even the founder of Travel Counsellors to fathom. Away from the feel-good forum in the Barry Room at Fota, the press briefing was more strident. Speakman brushed off the criticism about average earning levels by Travel Counsellors being lower than throughout the industry, saying that the home networking system was a lifestyle choice for many Counsellors who preferred to work shorter hours, and that the investment in technology left all Travel Counsellors who chose to do so free to concentrate on selling and increasing their earning power if they so wished. Steve Byrne outlined the scale of the back up for Travel Counsellors in the field, a support person for every five Travel Counsellors. See pictures from the Travel Counsellors conference here (or view the photo album through Facebook). royal caribbean nrothstar In New York the Royal Caribbean cruise line announced the end of the inside cabin as we know it, changing forever the lives and vision of cruise cost-cutters. On its newest ship. Quantum of the Seas, due to be launched next autumn, inside cabins will have a full screen virtual balcony, with real time sea views (or port views as you enter harbours) Other innovations (see video)  include an observation capsule on a giant mechanical arm (above) that transports 14 passengers at a time high above the vessel, on board bumper cars, and a sky diving simulator. The ships will be closer in size to Freedom Class than the giant Oasis class. Two Irish journalists covering the event were diverted to the tragic events unfolding in Boston. Travel and tourism in the city coped remarkably well with the unfolding crisis. By yesterday the transit service was back and the lockdown had been lifted. Airlines liberalised change-fee policies for travel to and from Boston during the crisis. Elliott Ferguson Yvonne Muldoon Elliott Ferguson the President of Washington DC tourism, pictured with Yvonne Muldoon ireland country manager of United Airlines to celebrate the first anniversary of the direct service from Dublin to Dulles, was in Dublin to bring the latest DC developments, a new Capella hotel in Georgetown opened last week, over 4,000 hotel rooms (there are 20,00o in the city and 35,00 in the region already), the largest being the new Marriot Marquee City Centre due in May 2014, a new mixed use development in the city centre, and new hotels around the Baseball Stadium is the south east waterfront area has been rejuvenated. There are 40 new restaurants due, bringing the total closer to 2,000 in the city. Yvonne Muldoon and the team hosted 160 agents in Lillie’s Bordello afterwards. The Smithsonian is to open a new museum of the African-American next year. Linda Jeffers from the Newseum was also there to highlight the JFK anniversary exhibition in her fascinating museum of news and journalism. musician_1812See more pictures from the United Airlines Washington DC anniversary party here (or view the photo album through Facebook). ON A MISSION TO WOO TOURISTS FROM INDIATourism Ireland launched a four-day travel trade mission in Mumbai and Delhi. Picture shows: Tim Husbands of Titanic Belfast; Marie Richardson of The Gibson Hotel; Karen Barret of The Shelbourne; Jim Paul of Tourism Ireland; Peter Brazil of Limerick Travel; Shuja Bin-Mehd of VisitBritain; Huzan Fraser of Tourism Ireland; and Patrick O’Flaherty of Ballynahinch Castle. Front row: Muireann King of Doyle Collection; Annie Rose Deegan of Railtours Ireland; Fionnuala Balance of Railtours Ireland; Myles Tuthill of Central Hotel; Paula Stephens of The Merchant Hotel, Belfast; Róisín Kirwan and Sonali A Kishore, Tourism Ireland. The battle for better value in Irish tourism gets a boost this morning. Three years ago 41pc of visitors to Ireland voted that Ireland was “poor or very poor value,” this year 41pc rated us “good to very good” and 42pc fair  while 17pc still regard us as “poor.” Our rating as a value for money destination has moved from minus 11pc in 2009 to plus 24pc in 2012. Meitheal which begins on Tuesday will bring 300 delegates to Ireland from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, Denmark France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland and the USA to 400 Irish tourism providers. At the Baobab Beach Mombasa lo-res Martin Penrose from Topflight Worldwide and Teresa Murphy from KLM hosted what may be the best agents fam trip of the year so far, a six-night agents educational to Kenya last week, travelling in business class on KLM through Amsterdam, overnighting in Nairobi, spending another night in Lake Nakuru, two nights in the Masai Mara and finishing up with two nights in a hot and humid Mombasa beach before a dramatic return over a delayed ferry crossing to Nairobi airport. Pictured at Mombasa; Antoinette Murphy from O’Callaghan’s, Dundalk, Linda O’Donovan from J Barter, Douglas, Linda Tiernan from Topflight Worldwide, Siobhan Brannigan from Centre Travel, Dundalk, Julie Anne Ryan from, Limerick Travel, Emer McDermott from McDermott Travel, Westport, Teresa Murphy from KLM and, Martin Penrose from Topflight Worldwide. See pictures here. Irish Travel Writers in Copenhagen Apr 14 2013 lo-res The opening of new aquarium Den Blå Planet in Kastrup outside Copenhagen on March 22nd was enough to attract a group of Travel Writers from Ireland. At the aquarium, which translates as Blue Planet, where they were hosted by Dorte Gleie and given a tour by biologist Anders Kofoeb. The aquarium resembles a whirlpool when seen from above and was designed by Danish architect, and is right up there with the best. At 1.5m gallons it is larger than Lisbon Oceanario,  and has 20,000 animals in 450 species on display including a collection of 3,500 piranhas. They are particularly proud of tbheir collection of hammer head sharks. Their rare sea dragons cost €8,500 each in the international legitimate species market. It is a major addition to the Euyropean aquarium circuit, though both Valencia Oceanografic and its near neighbour Nordsøen Oceanarium are bigger as are the American giants in Atlanta and Chicago. Visitcopenhagen were promoting the Copenhagen Card which provides free entry into 75 museums including the 14-minute metro ride from the airport to the city centre, has just been relaunched with prices ranging from €40 for 24 hours to €71 for 72 hours. The writers stayed in the 71 Nyhavn Hotel, on one of the city’s liveliest canal side neighbourhoods, wers hosted at Cap Horn, Peder Oxe  and Brdr Price restaurants, cycled the city with Bo Andresen of copenhagen-tours.dk and sampled the new rides at Tivoli Park which reopened for the summer last week. They were hosted by Kathrine Lind Gustavussen of Visitdenmark and the irrepressible Henrik Thierlein of Wonderful Copenhagen, widely celebrated as one of the best-known tourism press officers in the business. Pictured at Copenhagen Town Hall are: Warren Swords of the Irish Mail on Sunday, Julian Fleming of the Sunday Business post, David Rogerson of the Evening Herald, Eoghan Corry of Travel Extra, Cian Traynor of the Irish Times, tour guide Bo Andresen of Copenhagen-tours and Yvonne McCahill of Aer Lingus.

  • Thomas Cook are adding extra Monday flights June to August to Reus(7.50) and Menorca (14.45), also adding a new property: CYE Marina in Costa Dorada 200m from the beach.
  • Fáilte Ireland ‘s seminar, “Competing on the Customer Experience – while still extracting great revenue”, was attended by 100 owners, marketing directors, general managers and senior management.
  • The airline KLM launched a competition giving people the chance to win a trip to space. Contestants must predict how high a weather balloon – to b launched on April 22 – will travel. The best guess will earn one person a place on the Space Expedition Corporation Lynx spaceship.
  • A RepTrak survey of Ireland’s most reputable firms showed Aer Lingus 22nd and Ryanair 99th
  • Brendan Breen was appointed MD of Travel Department.
  • Davy’s tipped Ryanair shares to hit €7.50 as controlled growth predicted.
  • Stena Line has appointed Ian Davies as the Route Manager with responsibility for the Rosslare – Fishguard and Dublin Port/Dun Laoghaire – Holyhead services.
  • Sligo is leading the Irish Times Best Place to Holiday competition followed by Kerry and Donegal, competition closed yesterday
  • Turkish business people raised visa delay problems with Eamon Gilmore
  • The IAA is considering buying a 12pc stake in English NATS when it is put up for sale by Thomas Cook and Thomson Airways
  • Amadeus research showed that low cost airlines have a 39pc market share in Europe, a higher proportion than anywhere else.
  • Aer Lingus launched a facility for checking in luggage the night before an early morning flight. Customers can now purchase Heathrow Express train tickets while booking their flight in one transaction on aerlingus.com.
  • World president of Skål Mok Singh and his wife attended the Dublin Skal dinenr at the Westin Hotel in Dublin on Tuesday. Next Dublin lunch is at Buswells on Tuesday May 14. Skål Is targeting prospective members in the various sectors of the travel industry to arrest a decline in membership, areas of concern include the Mayo Club’s survival and the possible regeneration of the Lakelands Club
  • Ten new members played in the first Travel Industry Gold Society outing of the year at Druids Glen on Wednesday, indicating a revival in interest in the Dublin-based society.
  • Andrew Sharpe said at the Travel Counsellors Conference that the South African training module for Irish agents would be relaunched in the coming months.
  • Last week’s CAPA conference in Powerscourt will likely lead to new routes direct from Ireland involving two major international airlines, keep an eye on future print editions of Travel Extra for details.
  • Luxury Ireland launched a network of stores with international payment systems and assistants who speak Chinese, Portuguese and Russian
  • Michael O’Leary said that Ryanair is still thinking of launching a trans-Atlantic service by 2018
  • American Airlines revealed their new Sales Support and Groups telephone number for Irish Travel trade: +353-15319305
  • Meyrick Hotel Galway bought by Gerry Barrett for €70m in 2006 was reported to be worth  €7.8m in 2011
  • TUI-Thomson, the apparent of Falcon Holidays, announced plans to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from London to Mauritius and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, from 2014. It had already announced plans to fly the 787 to Phuket and Florida. TUI had hoped to take delivery of its first Dreamliner next month, but the aircraft remains grounded due to mechanical concerns.

elephant car

  • Two tourists visiting Kruger national park were injured after an elephant charged and overturned their car
  • A week after the launch of Travelport’s new game-changing Merchandising Platform the Irish office announced that Robbie Smart would be joining them from Cassidy Travel and Tara Hynes from British Airways.
  • There was much of interest in the London Competition commissioner investigation into the implications of Ryanair’s takeover of Aer Lingus. DAA told the enquiry that taxes and charges  imposed by Ryanair and Aer Lingus and passed on to customers do not reflect their actual cost. Air France and Lufthansa said that Aer Lingus remains an attractive takeover target, if not for them.
  • The Chinese government is to ease restrictions on travel to Tibet although there is confusion as to exactly what the new regulations entail. A ban on almost all foreign travellers to the region, imposed last June, seems to have been lifted.
  • Singapore’s Changi Airport was named the world’s best in an annual poll of more than 12 million travellers.
  • CabinMax announced two new items of luggage, one designed to fit Ryanair’s stringent carry-on restrictions, expanding to adapt to more generous airlines and what they claim is world’s lightest trolley bag, weighing just 1.45kg but still holding 44 litres of luggage. See www.gadgetsuk.com.
  • Dubai’s tourism strategy under the newly appointed Director General of Dubai tourism Hilal Saeed Al Marri will be revealed at Arabian Travel market on May 6-8.
  • The 197-room Refinery opens in New York City’s Garment District on May 1st in a former hat factory. It has a Prohibition-styled tea lounge and rooftop bar (refineryhotelnewyork.com).
  • A new Generator Hostel opens in Berlin’s Mitte district with dorm beds from €10.50, a café and ping-pong tables in the 24-hour lounge (generatorhostels.com).
  • Annabel Cove and Stephen Bradshaw of Dosomethingdifferent.com are to host agents at a party on Thursday May 23rd, highlighting three major incentives from the ticket specialists’ to help allay the fears of prospective buyers of Orlando theme park tickets: NO deposits, NO amendment fees and NO cancellation charges. Among the surprise big ticket sales for 2013-14 are trips to see the Northern Lights next winter.
  • Blackpool Pleasure Beach gets a new attraction on Wednesday, the Wallace & Gromit Thrill-o-Matic ride. Suitable for families, it takes you on a journey through their films, from the Wrong Trousers to the Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  • British Airways resumed flights to Sri Lanka with three flights a week from Heathrow to Colombo, via the Maldives. The airline moves from five fights daily to eight daily on Dublin-Heathrow next month
  • The Dreamliner is close to flying again after the American FAA approved a battery fix.
  • Organisers of the Dayton Air Show in the USA dropped plans for a reenactment of the World War II atomic bomb attack on Japan.
  • American transportation officials are warning of several-hour delays starting next week during the busiest times at the country’s busiest airports because air-traffic controllers are forced to take unpaid leave. The worst delays are expected at 13 hubs: JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, O’Hare, Midway, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Charlotte
  • American airport authorities reported that $500,000 was left at airport checkpoints last year, almost all of it in loose change. Miami International Airport, McCarran International in Las Vegas and O’Hare International Airport in Chicago collected the largest amounts  at least $22,000 each
  • Acts of graffiti have become so pervasive at Joshua Tree National Park that officials have had to close them to the public
  • Motorboats were banned from Venice’s Grand Canal.
  • The remarks of Jeremy Wertheimer Vice President of Travel at Google that “travel agents will die because they don’t have good information anymore,” will generate further debate in the next edition of Travel Extra. Feel free to email pix@travelextra.ie or join the debate on travelextra.wordpress.com.
  • James Gorman has died, assistant General Manager at Aer Lingus to Jerry Dempsey up to 1967, the changes he witnessed in the aviation industry are practically beyond recounting. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.

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