Ed Fuller. Marriott.

Leave a comment

 

FOXTROTS

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning. 

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

2009 December 14

 

Ed Fuller. Marriott.

Comments from the head of Marriott Hotels’ international operations; may be paraphrased:

[] We have had three deluxe brands from some time – Bulgari, JW Marriott, Ritz Carlton. Although these offered very distinctive and very understood (sic) positioning, we felt we needed a very clear addition to the luxury brand. The brand is a partnership with Ian Schrager.

[] We are now able to use outside engineering and ideas tied in with Marriott systems and ability to build a brand that is truly boutique. The product will be different; that is part of the definition. They will be unique, they will be boutique, around 200 rooms. We hope to open at least 1 or 2 this year, or 3/4 in 2010.

This is a major drop on previous targets – 30 agreements to be signed by end-2008, an average 10/year over the next 10 years.

[] The rate is going to say a lot about how the luxury marketing is conducted. Our three are separated by rate, size, and expectations.

[] There are different types of luxury traveller. You have got the Bulgari customer, for instance, who wants everything. You have the business luxury traveller, who needs that pampering. And subdivided by leisure and business.

[] We now have 25 years of JW Marriott; now 65 hotels. After questioning from PinT, he said this was fast for a luxury brand.

[] We are doing more research to understand customer better. And we refocused our rooms three years ago to make them more customer friendly. And this will have to continue because we have to understand what those customers are looking for.

[] We have philosophy of hiring within. 60% of our managers come from within the company. Our turnover is lowest in industry. We spend US$1mn on “hire and hold” training.

The Fox

Advertisements

Sujit Banerjee. India’s minister of tourism.

Leave a comment

 

FOXTROTS

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning. 

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

2009 December 10

 

Sujit Banerjee. India’s minister of tourism.

-We have named this year Visit India Year, and added special offers. For instance: if a traveller buys one ticket, the second is free; if he buys one night hotel, the second is free; one free tour. There are conditions, which make these not quote as generous as they seem.

-In 2008 visitor arrivals increased 5.6% to 5.37mn, and revenues increased 9.5% to US$11.7bn. (That is an extraordinary increase, which warrants further questioning, given the 25% fall in India’s currency over the past 12 months.)

-Our government plans to :

-upgrade tourism destinations. We have identified 28 tourist circuits, and we will improve airports, railway stations, roads. (Politicians are politic. Banerjee gives the just-opened Aurangabad airport terminal as this first, but this was completed before the upgrading program was started and so has nothing to do with it.)

 

-incentives to build hotels. Also, a pre-existing support.

 

-incentives, with increased financial support for participation in sales/study tour, trade fairs, and publicity material.

-market development assistance for promoting MICE tourism in India, increased assistance from 10% to 25% of cost of attending fairs.

The Fox

Trottings. Travelling trials and errors in Thailand.

Leave a comment

 

FOXTROTS

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning. 

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

2009 December 08

 

Thailand. Travelling trials and errors.

[] Thai Airways; bad. Some airlines try to make economy-class fun (offering ice cream at the end of a meal, for instance). But I get the impression that Thai wants to constantly remind you that you are travelling in CC – cheap class.

On a recent longhaul flight, no nuts were offered with pre-meal drinks – perhaps acceptable in these hard times. Likewise for when I asked for fruit at the end of the meal. He said No, and I guess I accept that, but I feel other airlines would get something from business class if a passenger made a specific request.

On my flight, the in-flight-entertainment stopped working after 60-minutes and only the sound for the main TV channel worked. The in-cabin screen (no seat-back screens here) did not show a movie, only short features/reports and a full-length cartoon film. This was a night-flight, which indicates that TG management does not realise that there are all sorts of passengers on its flights, and not just Bangkok-Rome passengers on a Bangkok-Rome flight.

When I asked, the head steward said he could not reset sound system until the film had finished. It was 0300 in the morning (departure-point time) and I estimate two people were watching the mid-cabin screen. So the steward was either lazy (just another flight when something technical goes wrong, so he is not to blame if passenger complaints come in) or inefficient, because he could have made that decision to stop the movie and try again.

But perhaps he knew it could not be fixed, because it was never fixed. And there was not an apology from anyone – which leads me to believe it is a regular occurrence.

[] Bangkok airport; bad. Passengers have two directions to go after clearing security – left (say to Gates ABC) or right (DEF). When I checked in, my gate had not been assigned, so I did not know which gate – but there is no flight departure board at that point. I did not know which direction to go, but I went right, and found the first flight information board after 50m of shops, restaurants etc.

I read there that my gate was in finger F, and so I looked to see which direction I should go – but there were no signs! I am not kidding. Nothing in either direction, except the fact that I was currently at finger D. Worse, there are few information counters. However, I am sure the Airports Authority of Thailand would tell me that there are lots of information machines that would have told me.

[] Bangkok airport; bad. The airport has no wifi (presumably because of the government monopoly for the local telecommunications body, CAT); even Chiangmai has not only wifi, but it is free. Worse, if you are a departing passenger at Bangkok, you must go down two flights of stairs to the CAT office with computers, and then through security checks again to get back up to the departure level.

[] Bangkok airport; bad. Many airlines and even airports show flights to ‘Suvarnabumi’ and don’t mention Bangkok. I flew from Chiangmai, not to Bangkok, but to Suvarnabumi. Worse, for those who do not understand English well, ‘Suvarnabumi’ is not pronounced as it is spelled; the last ‘i’ is missed.

[] Bangkok airport; finally, something positive to say, although this may not have been intelligent design, but lucky accident – for heterosexual males, that is. At my gate, I went to the boarding gate and sat in one of the few available seats. I discovered it was a great seat for girl-watching. Because to get to the gate check in, passengers, including girls with short skirts, had to walk down a slope to a point 1m from me at eye level. In other words, a facility that might be good for looking up skirts, but something which is also another example of bad professional design.

The Fox

RNCOS. Rip-off.

Leave a comment

 

FOXTROTS

Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning. 

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

2009 December 06

 

RNCOS. Rip-off.

Generally, I restrict my comments on travel reports from India’s RNCOS, a company, to pointing out questions on statistics, and interpretations thereof. But now I feel its new report – entitled Malaysian Tourism Industry Forecast to 2012 – is close to a rip-off.

Any report on Malaysia’s inbound travel business must say in Line One that its figures cannot be compared with other nearby destinations because its criteria are different. Does RNCOS know that most of Malaysia’s visitors arrive by land, either from Singapore and Thailand? And that, for instance, Singapore counts no land arrivals from Malaysia, whatever the origin of the visitor?

If RNCOS does not know, then it has no business selling such a report. If it does know, then it should not mislead prospective customers with its first line – “Malaysia is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Asean region. Despite the global economic slowdown, it received around 22 Million international tourists in 2008, an increase of around 5% over the previous year (2007).”

Also, prospective customers deserve to be treated as though they have reasonable level of intelligence. What value does “one of” mean when there are only 10 Asean destinations? Indeed, if RNCOS believes that 22mn, then Malaysia is “one of” but No 1 in visitor counts (not tourists; that figure is not available) destination in Asean.

(And as an aside, in professional travel terms, who cares about Asean? That is a political organisation, and destinations in Asia compete with competing destinations, not selected ones in a political block.)

 

And does RNCOS know that there is a disconnect between markets the visitor promotion office shows as growing, and air traffic patterns? Sometimes extreme. For instance, the VPO reported ‘double-digit’ increase in arrivals from Europe in 2008 – repeated in the RNCOS report – although air travel between the two fell 9%. The VPO reported a 34% increase from the UK, on air travel down 6%; Germany up 42%, down 2%; Netherlands up 63%, up 2%. And so on.

So what value can I accord the forecast that visitor arrivals will grow at an average annual rate of 9% 2009-12? And RNCOS’s statement that, “apart from Asean countries, tourist arrivals from China, India and the Middle East will strongly grow…”

Then that the incoming business “will continue to grow rapidly in coming years on the back of increasing promotional activities by the government and growing reputation of the country as a shopping hub”?

RNCOS seems to believe that because the government is increasing promotion (something which itself is a puerile comment without explanation) there will be growth. Does Malaysia have a magic formula that turns promotion into increased arrivals? I know that is the aim, but is this assured?

Then there is Malaysia’s “growing reputation” as a “shopping hub”. I did not know about this reputation, but I can easily challenge ‘hub’. This is meaningless promotional jargon. After all, a hub is a centre from which spokes radiate; how can this be applied to shopping?

I also condemn others who are helping RNCOS sell this report, most prominent of which is Research & Markets, a company.

The Fox