PAGPFT: GTAC IATA WTO WTTC.

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FOXTROTS

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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

PAGPFT: GTAC IATA WTO WTTC.

(PAGPFT (pronounced PAG-puffed); People Are Getting Paid For This.)

IATA/WTO/WTTC have created another organisation – GTAC, for Global Travel Association Coalition.

As an aside, all of us should wonder, yet again, why there are two world travel bodies doing the same thing. WTO and WTTC often say the travel business should speak with ‘one voice’. Why not start at home, and merge? (Answer: because they both like their jobs.)

And also aside, hoteliers among you should wonder, also yet again, why hotels do not have a world body worthy of that name. But they may answer because it is a waste of time.

Look at GTAC. It (ie IATA/WTO/WTTC) has just issued a call. Because these things must sound important, this one is ‘An Agenda for Growth and Development’ for the travel business for the next 10 years.

I have read through the points (there are ‘only’ 15 in five bite-size categories).

It is a list for ‘all things good’ to happen. And laughably unrealistic or self-evident.

Take just one: “Speaking as one to promote the Agenda’s implementation and ensure Travel & Tourism can be an effective driver of inclusive economic growth and sustainable development…”.

Or another: “Calling on governments to agree to national tourism policies that bring together all relevant government agencies while creating or strengthening public/private sector cooperation and public/public [sic] coordination of tourism planning and development at all levels.”

Or: “The use of new technologies to make travel more accessible, convenient, and more efficient while enhancing security.”

There is much to agree with. Although we are concerned that GTAC wants the government to control and drive most aspects of the business of travel. And particularly at IATA; most of its airline members want governments to stay hands-off.

But do they really think this can happen?

Of course, it will never happen. But this Agenda contains no figures, no dates, no specific action. So nothing can be measured. And so the program will be a great success. PAGPFT.

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.

 

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France Fiddles Figures?

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FOXTROTS

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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

France Fiddles Figures?

TinT (Truth in Travel) Rides Again!

Statement: With 3.22mn American visitors in 2014, France has once again overtaken the UK, which counted 3.04mn visitors from the US. Source: Atout France (AF) which, despite that strange name, is France’s DMO.

TinT doubts France counts more than the UK. We cannot find precise data, but much evidence indicating AF is wrong. And overall wondering why AF is going to such extremes to ‘prove’ it is No1. Isn’t a charge of amateurism, ridicule risk enough, or is it more important that local politicians (presumably the real target of this disinformation) believe France is No1?

There is a clue in AF’s statement. It counts US nationals, and compares that figure with arrivals from the US in the UK. If an American living in London visited Paris he would be included in France’s ‘America’ count. In other words, the figures are not directly comparable – albeit good enough for an unofficial observation.

Statement: France has been the leader in Europe for American visitors since 2011.

TinT: AF says that in 2014 France overtook the UK ‘again’. But it also says it has been leader ‘since 2011’. Surely that indicates the overtaking took place in 2011? France cannot overtake the UK every year.

Now for the technical points:

  1. AF credits a study by Trans Atlantic Report for its findings. On its website, TAR’s ‘latest traffic trends’ are for October 2013 (later ones, noted as November 2013, can be obtained on application). And the ‘Top Events 2014’ section of its website promises the visitor that the information is ‘Coming soon’. So we do not understand where these France findings are.
  1. AF says its 3.22mn figure is based on ticket sales to France of US travel agencies by ARC members (ARC would give us no information), overnights by US nationals in Paris (we presume in hotels; AF does not clarify), and overall travel US-Europe (from the US government, which usually gives only air travel data). Once again, all this means that AF is not comparing like with like.
  1. The UK data that AF uses is straightforward – arrival of US residents in the UK.
  1. AF lists arrivals in the ‘Euro zone’ but includes two destinations that are outside – Switzerland, UK. It lists these as arrivals from the US – France 3.22mn (+4%), UK 3.04mn (+8%), Spain 1.22mn (+2%), Ireland 1.17mn (+12.9%), Switzerland 0.75mn (+3.7%). AF gives no source for this other data, and contradicts its earlier comment by noting that these US arrivals in France are from the US, and not US nationals.
  1. Air passengers between the US and the top three country pairs, according to US data shows UK 17.9mn, Germany 10.6mn, France 6.7mn. Data from civil aviation bodies in those three Europe markets are similar – UK 18.3mn, Germany 10.4mn, France 6.5mn.
  1. Germany’s DMO says in 2013 there were 2.6mn arrivals from the US in the UK, 2.4mn in Italy, 2.0mn in France, 1.8mn in Germany.
  1. The UK’s DMO says in 2013 there were 2.79mn arrivals from the US in the UK. Spend is put at US$3.92bn (£2.55bn), which calculates to US$1405-per-visitor, and US$178-per-visitor-per-day.
  1. AF says in 2013 there were 3.1mn arrivals from the US in France. Spend is put at US$2.22bn (€2.0bn), which calculates to (only) US$718-per-visitor, and (only) US$84-per-visitor-per-day. Something looks wrong with the data. Again, it looks like that claimed visitor total; it is too high.
  1. So how many visitors from the US does France really count? We estimate 2.15mn in 2014.

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.

PAGPFT: Air France/Hop, ITBB/Mongolia.

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FOXTROTS

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

Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.

 

PAGPFT: Air France/Hop, ITBB/Mongolia.

(PAGPFT (pronounced PAG-puffed); People Are Getting Paid For This.)

 

Air France/Hop

An imaginary conversation.

 

AF/H Representative: “Air France has just created Hop Air France, a new regional airline.”

Observer: “Wait a minute…wasn’t Hop created in 2013?”

 

AF/H: “Ah. That was Hop; this is Hop Air France.”

Observer: “What’s the difference?”

 

AF/H: “The name, dummy; ‘Air France’ has been suffixed.”

Observer: “Ah, I see. So all names, websites, etc are being changed to ‘Hop Air France’?”

 

AF/H: “No, the airline’s marketing name remains ‘Hop’.”

Observer: “But then why add the ‘Air France’ suffix?”

 

AF/H: “Because it clearly links Hop to Air France.”

Observer: “But how will people know if ‘Hop Air France’ is not used?”

 

AF/H: “Stop asking silly questions. Of course there are other reasons, but I cannot say them because AF might have problems with the unions.”

 

There are more facts, of course, but they all lead to the same analysis. PAGPFT.

 

 

 

ITBB/Mongolia

Mongolia was ITBB’s Partner Country in 2015.

 

I need to explain. That’s what Mongolia’s DMO writes, but actually the Partner Country period runs from one ITB Berlin to the next. So actually Mongolia was the PC from Mar 14 to Mar 15 – so closer to 2014 than 2015.

 

(PC for Mar 15-Mar 16, sort of 2015, is the Maldives.)

 

That explanation is one of the problems. Perhaps Mongolia has so much money that it does not need to worry too much about how that ITBB fee (US$5mn?) is spent.

 

But to get the date essentially wrong is pretty poor. Worse is the fact that ITBB did not tell the DMO.

 

Mongolia’s DMO ran a press conference at ITBB – all in Mongolian or German with live translation to the other. Did ITBB not tell the DMO that 1000 of the 5000 media attending ITBB are not German speakers? So 20% of Mongolia’s fee was wasted.

 

It distributed support material, primarily in English (!), plus a USB stick. The stick contained a (well-produced) brochure in German.

 

Excellent photographs indicate ITBB did provide some help. But the other matters make this Partner Country a bad deal for all except ITBB. PAGPFT.

 

 

 

The Fox

Remember, I’ll be famous after I’m dead.

 

Trottings; Berlin eclectic.

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TROTTINGS = Trip Jottings

The Fox Trots: Travel Stories from The Fox’s Friends.

 

Trottings; Berlin eclectic.

I took a tour in Berlin. Sort of eclectic, although the organising tour company may not realise that is what it is offering. Think of Berlin Highlights as a type of association, with a number of separate tour companies associated with it.

 

As I said, my tour was sort of eclectic, although BH does not specifically offer this. I believe it should categorise its offers into broad labels – such as sport, culture, fun, east-and-west, etc.

 

My trip:

Olympic Stadium.

Not particularly impressive as a stadium, but for its history. It has a grand wide boulevard access, of which people such as Hitler and Mussolini would have been proud.  It was built by Hitler in only two years, after years of indecision by others. Carved on the wall by one of the entry points are some details of that year, 1936, and the medal winners. I am not sure if all winners because there are only about 60 names. The stadium reopened in 2004 and has been steadily modernised including adding a part-roof, and more seating – now for about 75,000.

 

 

CurryWurst Museum (yes).

Small but well done, and worth a visit just for those reasons. Includes a counter where you can buy samples and drinks. Includes singing ketchup bottles…I did say this was eclectic collection.

 

 

The Wall, billed in the German, Die Maur.

A newer entry in the list of places that commemorate that cold-war period. Near Checkpoint Charlie. This one is small but also well done. At ground level, pictures, information and videos. But go outside (actually still inside), climb a platform, and an amazing view awaits you.

 

You are looking out over a section of the wall as it was before 1989. You look from the west side over the dividing section – mined and patrolled – to the eastern part. Even a tower with East German soldiers looking at you through binoculars. This is like a giant photo – you see nothing else, up to sky level as well. There is even a viewing platform shown, on the west side, with people climbing up. And a run-down petrol station, just by the wall. This all so real and well done. I think I would put this on a 5-things-must-do-list in Berlin.

 

 

Dali Gallery.

Obviously Salvador Dali was an interesting man. But even if you are not particularly interested in him, this gallery may be worth a quick visit, for a quick introduction to the man and his work. There are about 450 drawings and paintings on display, with audio descriptions.

 

 

Boat.

Visitors should take a trip, however short, on the river Spree. They usually cover interesting places, although not always the best such as Brandenburg, Reichstag, etc. This was a bit disappointing, but probably interesting enough to a newer visitor to Germany’s impressive capital.

 

 

Others.

There are others in the BH collection. In fact, 16 in total, and including a velotaxi, city tour in a VW Beetle (although it should be in a Trabant of course), spy museum. Contact: http://www.berlin-highlights.de/

 

 

 

The Fox’s Friends; MB

 

Trottings. Cheating via Kayak, to CarDelMar and Goldcar.

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TROTTINGS = Trip Jottings

The Fox Trots: Travel Stories from The Fox’s Friends.

 

Trottings. Cheating via Kayak, to CarDelMar and Goldcar.

Kayak, as the entry point for many travel transactions, might find it difficult to avoid being implicated in travel scams. Nevertheless, it needs to monitor activity to preserve its professional integrity.

 

Via Kayak, I searched a car rental in Rome. I selected one from CarDelMar, a platform from which I chose a package from Goldcar’s base at Rome Fiumicino airport. I paid for the rental, and the named driver went that same day to collect the car.

 

At the Goldcar office, the staffer said it was not possible to take the car, because the person who paid and the driver had to be the same person.

 

Then why accept the reservation when these two names were different? That was my first reaction. No go.

 

Then change the reservation to the name of the driver? Ok, but that would require a new booking – and the first booking would still not be refunded.

 

Then change the driver to the person paying? Same.

 

Then cancel the reservation? Yes, but because a cancellation must be made 48 hours before the booked collection time, this was too late. (The booking had been made four hours before collection time, so the 48-hour limit was obviously ridiculous.)

 

I suspect that Goldcar is the company that is cheating – because it would have been easy for any staffer to find a way around this particular problem.

 

Conclusion: I suggest you do not buy any product of CarDelMar and Goldcar. There are usually similarly-priced deals via Kayak of other companies. I lost all my money on this transaction.

 

 

The Fox’s Friends