The headlines this week:
*Ireland’s Travel Agents get a preview of Quantum
*Then there were three: Dublin to London City now has 16 flights a day
*Then there was none: Heathrow T1 loses last Irish service as BA go to T5
*Celebrity rewards their sellers
Travel Extra TV
Video of the week: Long-tail motorboat racing is a popular sport in Thailand’s Samut Songkhram province, and homemade boats are a common sight during racing season. Some reach speeds of up to 160kmph. Watch here.
- Choppy seas won’t deter the Greeks from loading cars on to a ferry. This video shows drivers taking on the ferry’s jumpy ramp. We don’t envy them: Watch here.
- Roadtrippers Adam Hicks and Joyce Ord captured footage of The World’s Largest Truck Convoy driving on Interstate 64 in aid of the Special Olympics. Watch here.
- A bird’s eye view of Paris: Victor the white-tailed eagle launches himself off the top of the Eiffel Tower and swoops over Trocadero before returning to his handler. The film was made as part of the Freedom project, which aims to support the conservation of eagles born in captivity. Watch here.
- German wheelbarrow rider Alex Siegfried shows off some of his moves with a customised gold-plated wheelbarrow. This could very well be the next big extreme sport…start booking now. Watch here.
- Footage of a homophobic man being apprehended by bystanders in Dallas Airport received over 4m views this week. The man was tackled to the ground after attempting to attack another man. Watch here (contains strong language).
- This Air France jet was forced to abort landing three times because of strong crosswinds. Watch here.
- Reuters uploaded stills of the Virgin space rocket explosion that killed one of the pilots. Watch here. Meanwhile, Associated Press uploaded footage of investigators examining the wreckage. Watch here. The Virgin spaceship designed to take tourists on trips beyond Earth’s atmosphere broke up during a test flight over the Mojave Desert.
They made it, but just about. One Quantum of the Seas executive commented: “We were about nine days behind.” There were 1,000 contractors still on board the ship when travel trade and media joined them for a pre-launch cruise around the Isle of Wight before the ship embarks on its first revenue cruise to New York this week. Jamie Oliver came on board to open his restaurant but when the guests got to sample the fare they found that not everything was ready. The famous fastest Wi-Fi on the waves was not yet switched on.
Amid the launch, the Irish Travel Agents Association had their best attended conference in 20 years. The conference took place in Chic Restaurant rather than, as originally planned, the conference centre which was still being completed. The air conditioning failed and the power sockets made it to the end of Larry Pimethal’s presentation. There was just one microphone for the Travel 2020 session chaired by Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry. The quote of the conference came from Larry Pimenthal of Azamara Cruises: “When was the last time you went into a restaurant and were handed the menu and said: I’ll have the cheapest starter, cheapest main course and cheapest dessert.” John Keogh of Aer Lingus was asked when Aer Lingus short haul flights would return to the GDS (following Ryanair’s arrival on Travelport and now Amadeus) and said discussions were ongoing. He was making the point that agents who go to market on price will always be vulnerable to be beaten on price. Picture shows Clare Dunne of Travel Broker, former president of the ITAA sampling the Ifly by Ripcord on board Quantum of the Seas. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
It was propellers at dawn this week as Flybe and British Airways commenced their services from Dublin to London City Airport, joining Cityjet on a suddenly crowded route. Picture shows Flybe CFO Philip De Klerk popping the champagne with guests. Both Flybe and BA launched their four daily services to London City. CityJet responded by announcing that they will expand their Avro RJ85 Dublin to London City service by 25pc and will put on up to nine flights every weekday as of 26 October 2014. CityJet will start operating the earliest flight out of London City Airport with a 06:45 departure. Travel Extra joined Flybe’s inaugural on board a BombardierBBD/B Q400 Dash 8, which brought the Dublin guests to a ceremony to celebrate the arrival of six Flybe inaugurals in sequence to London City airport. Flybe now serve London City four times daily from Dublin at 06:30, 10.25, 15.20 and 19:20. Speaking at the event Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry said that the route would likely divert business from other London airports and make the route attractive to leisure passengers as well as business. Dublin to London was now Europe’s busiest air corridor and “unlike previous holders of the title, London-Paris and Barcelona-Madrid, nobody was going to build a high speed rail link anytime soon between the cities”. British Airways launched a four daily programme using a mixture of the Embraer E-170 and E-190 jets, all based at London City, departing Dublin at 08.45, 10.45, 16.15 and 19.50. Cityjet currently serves 250,000 passengers on the route every year. Flights from Dublin depart at 07.35, 09.40, 11.40, 13.30, 15.45, 17.35, 19.35 and 20.30. Listen here to Flybe CEO Saad Hammad speaking about prospects for the Dublin route, listen here to Declan Collier (pictured), CEO of London City Airport talking about development plans for the airport, listen here to Danny Kennedy Stormont Minister for Development, listen here to Alex Sammond, Scottish first minister and listen here to John Hayes Westminister minister of state for transport speaking at the event. See more pictures here of the Flybe inaugural or connect with the album on Facebook.
A new loyalty programme from Celebrity Cruises aims to simplify agent incentives and reward counter staff. The scheme has been introduced following a consultation programme with agents including Emer Miley from Tour America and Avril Fulton from Orr’s Travel. “This is designed by agents for agents,” Lorraine Quinn says. Tryphavana Cross and Lorraine (pictured) talked agents through the advantages of the new loyalty programme, where agents accumulate points through cruise sales, earning more points for upselling, which can be redeemed with vouchers towards for consumer goods, brands or cruises. State rooms will put into an auction process for agents. “It is as flexible as an individual wants to be,” Lorraine Quinn says. “All their bookings are in there, they can see their points clocking up and they can redeem their points like a shopping cart. There has never been a comprehensive loyalty programme for agents like this before.” The scheme went live yesterday (Nov 1) and points remain current for four years. Royal Caribbean and Celebrity now have both introduced loyalty programmes. “It is just the mechanics are different,” Lorraine says. Listen here to Lorraine’s presentation. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
So farewell then, Heathrow Terminal 1. The last of the Irish services switched on Sunday last. British Airways flights have now moved to Heathrow Terminal 5. Dublin flights no longer arrive and depart from Terminal 1 in Heathrow.
Tracy Vaughan, new director of Georgia Tourism, hosted trade and travel media in Peploe’s Restaurant, Dublin during the week. Picture shows Peter Hanniford of Georgia Tourism, Siobhan Scanlan of Delta, Barry Hammond of Sunway, Tracy Vaughan new director of Georgia Tourism and Ciara Foley of Platinum Travel, chair of the Visit USA committee in Dublin.
ITAA’s quarterly members survey revealed that 72pc of agents have reported an increase in bookings compared to this time last year. 20pc said bookings remain the same, while 8pc reported a decrease.
The travel fun day raised €60,000 in all. €30,000 was distributed to the Make a Wish Foundation, €5,000 each to the Frances Grogan Spinal Injuries Fund in Cheeverstown, the Nathan Trust, and the Gavin Glynn Trust (Gavin died that night) and €3,000 to the charities supported by Nikki Stanford in her Kilimanjaro climb.
Sinead Reilly (pictured), Ireland Country Manager of Travelport will speak on the Future of Air Distribution at the Travel Centres Conference in Killashee House, Naas, on November 14-15, Brian Malarkey, Managing Director, AO UK wil talk about Personalisation & Relevance — The Key to Increased Conversions & Ancillary Sales, Mark Gaffney, Managing Director of PurplePod wil speak on Multi-Channel Digital Marketing Solutions. Other speakers include Federica Galeotti, of Bedsonline, Rob Barker of Vertical Systems and Sharon Fleming of Thompson Travel International.
Pictured participating in a Jai Alai/Pelota match on an Aer Lingus trip to the Basque region: Margaret Fitzgerald of Killiney Travel, Dominic Burke of Travel Centres, Derek Keogh of GTI, Paul Dawson of Dawson Travel and Kathryn MacDonnell of the Spanish Tourist Board with the Jai Alai doubles players in the front row. Aer Lingus has four weekly flights Dublin to Bilbao in the summer season.
- Amadeus announced a new research partnership with the Guild of Travel Management Companies, which accounts for 80pc of outbound business travel bookings made through travel companies in England. Amadeus and GTMC will study the changing landscape of hotel distribution and promote and understanding of how technology might shape the future of travel.
- Equistone Partners Europe has invested a stake in Travel Counsellors. The homeworking organisation has 60 agents in Ireland and a further 25 in the north.
- ETOA elected Mario Bondini as its new Chairman.
- The second instalment of Travel Professionals Skillnet’s webinar on Online Tools with Barry Walshe takes place on Wednesday (Nov 5), 9.30am-11am. Book here.
- Skal’s next meeting will take place in The Guinness Storehouse on November 11 at 12.30pm. Price for members €30, non-members €35.
- ETOA claimed that inertia by Governments is putting Europe’s tourism industry at risk.
- ITAA’s offers of the week: 7 nights all inclusive Adaaran Select Meedhupparu, Maldives from €1,699pp incl. flights and transfers, travel May or June 2015; 12 day escorted tour of China from €2,799pp incl. flights, transfers and meals, travel June 2; and 3 nights B&B in Reykjavik Lights hotel, Iceland from €578pp incl. return flights, travel April 9.
- Hastings Hotels is offering autumn breaks for two at the Slieve Donard Resort & Spa from £115 incl. breakfast, £10 spa voucher each and £10 restaurant voucher each. To book, call 048 4372 1066.
- Sunway New York package: 3 nights in Fitzpatricks Grand Central Hotel, €779pp incl. ice skating in Central Park, Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty tours, Hop On-Hop Off bus tour, travel February.
- Funway Holidays’ Big Sale kicked off on November 1. Offers are outlined in a four-page flyer valid for bookings until Nov 31. USA, Mexico and Barbados are included in the sale and prices start from £549pp for 3 nights in New York.
- Thomson’s family resort offer with free Kid’s Club: 7 nights all-inclusive Dublin-Sunny Beach, Bulgaria from €1,910 for two adults and one child or from €2,777 for two adults and two children. Depart May 25.
- Falcon’s all-inclusive Kid’s Club offer: 7 nights Dublin-Coast Teguise, Lanzarote from €1,831 for two adults and one child or from €2,480 for two adults and two children.
- Click and Go’s NYC offers: 4 nights Long Island City from €599pp incl. B&B, flights and taxes; 4 nights Manhattan, Upper West Side from €619pp incl. flights and taxes; and4 nights Manhattan, Times Square from €699pp incl. flights and taxes.
- Discover Travel is offering 24 night tour of Vietnam, Cambodia & Thailand from €2,449pp.
Jurys Inn introduced new Executive Rooms (pictured) located on the upper floors of the chain’s city centre hotels. The rooms are fitted with super king beds, an in-room safe, mini-fridge, 32” TV, free Wi-Fi and complimentary refreshments.
Conrad London St James launched the Movember package which include a set of the new Refinery Collection grooming products (including shaving cream and after shave balm for December 1), dinner at the Blue Boar Bar for two and two pints of real ale.
The Dean Hotel in Harcourt Street Dublin promises modern pod rooms, fully stocked mini SMEGs, Irish munchies and a Martin & Co limited edition guitar in the suites. Rooms are ready to roll from December 1 and the Dean’s website is up and running.
The Georgian House Hotel in London unveiled two Harry Potter-themed “Wizard Chamber” rooms that come with a four poster “muggle-size” bed, potion bottles and cauldrons. The rooms are available as part of a package that includes a “muggle walking tour” of London.
- Gallaghers Hotel in Letterkenny is up for sale with a guide price of €900,000.
- Hilton signed a 400 hotel license deal for China.
- Bulgari is to open a luxury hotel in Beijing in 2017.
- From Jan 15, Marriott International will offer free Wi-Fi at its full service brand hotels for loyalty members who book direct.
- Manor House Hotels and Irish Country Hotels reported a 13pc increase in bed night bookings and a 20pc increase in revenue. The group owns 53 hotels around Ireland.
Insight Vacations has launched its 2015 Europe programme with 113 escorted tours around Europe. Insight Vacations has unveiled a redeveloped website. Insight Vacations coaches with business class legroom picked up ITAA conference delegates from London Heathrow and transferred them to Southampton to board the Quantum of the Seas.
Finnish company Active Ally Oy says it can help passengers sleep comfortably while sitting on aircraft trains and busses with a new accessory – the RelaxALLY headband.
Car hire companies have told the EU Commission they will not use automatic rerouting following the identification of the consumer’s IP address and consumers can freely shop around for the best price. The car rental companies said they will differentiate prices by a consumer’s country of residence only where the difference can be justified by objective reasons.
New York City has the safest metro system for female travellers, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters. Tokyo came in second, followed by Beijing, London and Seuol. Bogota has the most dangerous, followed by Mexico City, Lima and Delhi.
Visit Scotland winter events: Night in the Garden, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, until Nov 23; Winter Wonderland, Forestry Commission Scotland in Argyll, November 29; and Christmas at Kirroughtree in Dumfries & Galloweay, Dec 6-21.
The Sistine Chapel is to cap the number of visitors to 20,000 visits a day and 2,000 at any one time. A new temperature system will be used to filter dust brought in by visitors and the carbon dioxide they emit. New lights will be installed to draw attention to the frescoes lining the chapel.
- GTI launched a series of Long Haul and Battlefield Tours for 2015.
- Drury Porter Novelli were awarded the PR account in Ireland for The Canary Islands Tourism Board.
- Spafinder Wellness 365 has launched a new gift card collection.
- Tune In Tel Aviv music festival takes place November 19-23.
- GTA appointed Flavia Alzetta as Senior Vice President for Global Sales & Marketing.
- Tourism Australia and Virgin Australia expanded their global marketing deal for 2015.
- Australia imposed a blanket ban on issuing visa from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia nationals.
- Thailand is considering capping the number of tourists to Phuket, as hoteliers claim visitor figures are reaching a tipping point.
- North Korea closed its borders on Friday, blaming fears of the Ebola virus.
- Cuba’s Tourism Ministry reported a 3pc increase in international visitors and outlined its Winter Season Strategy.
Food & Wine
- Galway restaurant week kicks off tomorrow (November 3). Twenty-eight restaurants are offering discounts throughout the week, listed on com.
- Wine expert John Wilson will host a wine talk and tasting followed by a wine dinner at Ballymaloe House on November 13. Places at the talk and tasting cost €15, dinner with matched wines costs €65 and a package including both events plus B&B at Ballymaloe is €177pps.
- The Wild Goose Gill in Ranelagh is offering a three-course lunch for €10 in McSorley’s pub in the basement until mid-December.
- The Chameleon Indonesian restaurant in Temple Bar celebrates 20 years in business with a mong long series of events. The celebration kicks off with a birthday lunch this Thursday (Nov 6, 12.30pm-2.30pm) when a platter of three of the restaurant’s top dishes are available for €9.
Aer Lingus will announce its 2015 transatlantic destination at a press conference on Wednesday. It will be an east coast USA location rather than the Texas option with which Christoph Mueller tantalised the media last year.
Ryanair integrated passbook with their latest app, which the airline says offers an improved booking service as well as Dutch, French, German & Polish language versions and the option to add existing bookings to passengers’ My Ryanair’ profile.
Emirates has changed departure times for winter on its Dublin to Dubai serve, EK162 will now depart Dublin at 12.55 (previously 13.50) arriving in Dubai at 00.25, EK164 will now depart Dublin at 20.20 (previously 22.20) landing in Dubai at 07.50 They say it will improve connection possibilities to Sydney to 2 hours 25 minutes, Melbourne to 1 hour 45 minutes; and Bangkok to1 hour 15 minutes and also Bombay, Delhi, and Colombo.
Ryanair continued its move to major European airports with its second Danish base and 70th in all at Copenhagen to open in March 2015 with four based aircraft. They start with three new routes to Stansted, Milan and Warsaw, 10 more new routes in the New Year.
An Italian passenger flying to Milan with Aer Lingus was brought before court after a private practical joke was reported by a fellow passenger and triggered a major security alert at Dublin Airport. Roberto Binaschi scribbled “Attenzione Ebola” on a coffee cup lid as a prank on his adult daughter. The cup was spotted by a passenger who alerted cabin crew and triggered an emergency response. Binaschi, his daughter and his wife were arrested. Binaschi was later charged at Dublin District Court. He was ordered to pay €2,500 to charity for what the judge described as a “sick joke” (no pun intended?)
Europcar unveiled a new rental suite at Belfast International Airport. The new rental pods have fast track check-out to help speed up the rental process.
- Lufthansa is to stream entertainment on passenger’s portable electronic devices
- A Flybe flight from Newquay-London Gatwick was cancelled on Wednesday because the pilot was arrested on suspicion of being drunk.
- Price comparison site Momondo said travellers need to book flights at least 53 days in advance of their departure to get the best deals.
- Lufhansa cut its forecast for operating profit next year from €2bn to €1bn.
- Etihad launched a third daily flight to Mumbai and New Delhi.
- Graham Keddie (pictured) managing director of Belfast International Airport, called on reduction of APD and urged Westminster to abolish it altogether for children.
- Air France is now offering three weekly services to Abidjan using the A380.
- KLM operated its last MD-11 passenger flight following an 80 year partnership.
- Etihad Airways’ inaugural daily flight form Abu Dhabi to Phuket EY430 departed Abu Dhabi International Airport at 8.40am on Sunday.
- Virgin Atlantic is to become the first European airline to put trainee pilots at the controls of long-haul aircraft.
- Ryanair passengers claimed they were stranded in Krakow airport for over 24 hours due to freezing fog.
- Emirates launched a daily non-stop service to Budapest. Picture shows the VIP delegation prepare to depart at Dubai International Airport Saeed Ahmed Thani Al Tayer, Executive Director of Legislations & Policies Division, Dubai Customs; Robert Siegel, Emirates’ Vice President Cargo Commercial; Ranjit Puthanveetil, General Manager of Al Reyami Travels & Tourism; Ramy Ramzy Reiad Ayad, Commercial Director Sanofi; Thierry Aucoc, Emirates’ Senior Vice President Commercial Operations (Europe); Pradeep Kumar, Emirates’ Senior Vice President Cargo Revenue Optimisation and Systems; Andra Donnauer, Red Bull General Manager South Asia Region; Salem Ahmed Baobaid, Events and Marketing Specialist, Abu Dhabi Education Council.
- An American Airlines flight from LA to London was grounded for 17 hours after an unidentified passenger named their WiFi hotspot ‘Al-Quida Free Terror Nettwork’.
- Qatar Airways and Manchester Airport hosted a Night at the Museum reception for over 100 trade partners on Oct 29.
- International Airlines Group reported a 30pc increase in third-quarter profit on Friday.
After hosting the ITAA conference and its two short cruises round the Isle of Wight for media and travel agents, Quantum of the Seas will arrive in Cape Liberty, Bayonne, New Jersey on November 10, where it will be christened. It will be based full time in Shanghai from May 2015. The 4,180-passenger next-generation ship launches a new class for Royal Caribbean; its 2,090 cabins include 373 virtual balconies. It will be followed by Anthem of the Seas in April 2015, which will spend its inaugural season in England, followed by Ovation of the Seas, which will launch later next year.
- Starting in summer 2015, Celebrity Cruises will offer river and ocean combination cruises.
- Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, is to retire at the end of November.
- The US Department of Transportation has launched a website designed to keep potential cruisers informed of any safety or consumer complaint concerns on board cruise ships
- Princess Cruises has released its new Honeymoon Wishes Registry, which allows newlywed passengers to build their own honeymoon.
- Hurtigruten‘s oldest craft, the 1964 MS Lofoten, is to have its nostalgic features enhanced from April 2015 features include fishing directly from the ship, bridge tournaments, afternoon teas and a more traditional dining experience.
- Irish customers will receive $100 free on-board spend on Norwegian cruise line per stateroom when booking between November 5-25, 2014.
- Norwegian reported a 17.5pc increase in net income in the third quarter.
- Uniworld Ultra Luxury 2015 cruise journeys in Vietnam & Cambodia are now available for booking.
- MSC Cruises will debut new Lego themed playrooms on board the MSC Armonia, which is currently being lengthened and refitted. Lego play areas will also be included in two new vessels scheduled for delivery in 2017.
A group of Irish tourism companies travelled to Brussels to take part in a three-day sales blitz organised by Tourism Ireland. The representatives hoped to wow Belgium’s lucrative conference and business tourism market. Picture shows Susan Sheahan fo Clyde Court Hotel, Dublin, Anna Cernuschi of A Touch of Ireland. Danielle Neyts of Tourism Ireland and Deborah Swain of Visit Belfast.
Ross Castle in Co Kerry was listed in on Lonely Planet’s 10 lesser known haunted places of the world.
Steve Parsons is probably it. This ghost hunter is famous for his appearances on TV shows across the globe including the hugely popular ITV’s Most Haunted series, and arrived in Ireland this week host a Ghost Hunt at the almost 800 year old Enniscorthy Castle in Wexford.
Overseas visitors to Ireland grew by +9.3% for the first nine months of 2014, according to the CSO. Visitors to Northern Ireland also grew by +5% in the first half of 2014, according to figures released by NISRA.
There were some surprises among the IGTOA 2014 Irish Golf Awards: Galgorm Castle Golf Club won the parkland course of the year and The Island the links course of the year, Castlemartyr the IGTOA golf resort of the year, the (just reopened) Ashford Castle the IGTOA boutique golf hotel of the year, Bushmills Inn the IGTOA boutique golf hotel of the year, Bernard Gibbons of Powerscourt the IGTOA golf manager of the year and Christy O’Connor Junior the Jerry Donworth outstanding contribution to golf award.
Five Irish tourism companies and Tourism Ireland took part in the four-day sales blitz, Connect Canada II, in Vancouver. Sixty travel agents and 20 travel and lifestyle media based in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver cities attended. Tourism Ireland hopes to increase the number of Canadian visitors to Ireland by 47pc by 2016. Picture shows: Tanya Warren, Tourism Ireland; Peter Brazil, My Holiday Ireland; Aoife Hickey, The Lake Hotel, Killarney; Marie Brennan, Shannon Heritage; Jim Deegan, Railtours Ireland First Class; Róisín Wallace, Manor House Hotels & Irish Country Hotels; and Helen Cole, Tourism Ireland.
Thirteen volunteers took part in the pilot Wexford Welcome Ambassadors programme during the Wexford Opera Festival, Wexford Fringe Festival and Wexford Spiegeltent Festival, which all conclude today. The Welcome Ambassadors welcomed visitors and provided local knowledge. Picture shows…
A group of French journalists visited Dublin and Dublin’s Doorstep this week as guests of Tourism Ireland and Aer Lingus. The group attended the Bram Stoker Festival in Dublin, took a tour of the Slane Food Circle, visited Monasterboice, Newgrange, Malahide Castle, Trinity College, the National Library, St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Little Museum of Dublin. Picture shows the group at Monasterboice with Anne Zemmour, Tourism Ireland, Yannis Gaillot, Aer Lingus, and tour guide Mick Langan.
Huffington Post posted 9 reasons you should bring your toddler to Ireland. There’s no shortage of baby-friendly activities, there’ music everywhere and the people are delightful.
The Abbey Theatre recorded a profit of €718,130 last year following a €1.4m loss in 2012. The Abbey was budgeting to record a loss of €42,000 this year but expects another profit following better than expected box office receipts. The box office was helped out by a sell-out run of Our Few and Evil Days starring Tom Vaughan-Lawlor from Love/Hate. Crime pays…
Two groups of American travel agents from 18 states visited Ireland as guests of Tourism Ireland, American Airlines and Aer Lingus. They attended a B2B workshop organised by Fáilte Ireland in Dromoland Castle. The groups explored the Wild Atlantic Way and visited Carrownmore Megalithic Cemetery in Sligo, Connemara, Galway city, the Burren, the Cliffs of Moher, King John’s Castle, the Dingle Peninsula and the Little Museum of Dublin. Picture shows the agents with Hillarie McGuinness of Tourism Ireland at King John’s Castle, Limerick.