Travel Business News February 25 – March 1



Global Hotel Alliance in 2018

1 March 2019

GHA* has announced 2018 results. Most information is about its loyalty program, Discovery. Selected business results:

-Same-store room-revenue from Discovery members at US$1.6bn +10% (quoted in US$). Our database shows US$1.51bn +9% in 2017.

-Cross-brand revenue (revenue produced by members enrolled at one GHA company/brand staying in the property of another GHA member) US$108mn +17%. (2017 US$100mn +21%.) This seems a low share, and appears to indicate that the alliance is not working well. GHA reported cross-brand roomnights for 2017 – 500,000 – but data not given for 2018.

-As in 2017, revenue growth came partly from growth in Discovery membership, 13.6mn +21% members at end-2018 – North America 6mn (assume 6.0mn; we calculate +20%), Asia 2.3mn (we calculate +27.8%), Europe 2.2mn (+15.8%), Australasia 1.3mn (+30.0%, although GHA rounded data in 2017 to 1mn).

2017: 11.3mn +25% – North America 5mn (assume 5.0mn), Europe 1.9mn, Asia 1.8mn, Australia/New Zealand 1mn (assume 1.0mn). Rounding by GHA; growth not given.

-In 2018 top-tier Discovery members were 2.6% of active members but produced US$400mn. We calculate that to be a 25% share – which is substantial if correct. 2017 data shows a rounded 3% traffic share but 28% revenue share – thus US$400mn, and meaning no growth in 2018.

-In terms of channel, there was +24% growth on website bookings ($s not given). In 2017 +62% .

-GPA reports that its newish (2016) Discovery app grew 100% in 2018 bookings to US$1m monthly. In the first full-year , 2017, bookings were US$4mn – which indicates that growth in 2018 was +200%, not +100%.

-Discovery members who booked direct paid a 47% (2017 48%) rate premium over the average Discovery rate, despite a 10% direct-booking discount.

-Highest growth of cross-brand bookings was into Dubai +26%, London +20%, Bangkok +15%. In 2017 four cities named – Melbourne +11%, Sydney +10%, London +8%, Bangkok +6%. Also in 2017, GHA named top destinations – Australia +38%, US +13%, Singapore +11% – but not in 2018.

-Receiving most website bookings were almost the same as in 2017 – Pan Pacific Singapore, Adlon Kempinski Berlin, Outrigger Waikiki Beach Honolulu. In 2017 they were Pan Pacific Singapore, Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski Munich, Outrigger Waikiki Beach Honolulu. No further data.


-GHA is an alliance of small hotel groups – 35 brands, 500 hotels, 75 countries; room count not given. It is not well known publicly, but works well as a back-desk referrer.

-At press time, GHA had not answered our request for clarifications.

-A full report on this topic in our WYSK: What-You-Should-Know monthly-report contains some important additional information, qualification, and analysis.


WTTC reports on world travel

28 February 2019

WTTC* findings on the world travel business* include:

-The travel business (TTB) in 2018 was worth US$8.8tn.

-TTB growth +3.9%; world GDP growth +3.2%.

-Other sector growth – Manufacturing +4% (rounded by WTTC; we presume from +4.0%), Healthcare +3.1%, Information Technology +1.7%, Financial Services +1.7%.

-TTB 10.4% share of ‘economic activity’ (we are not sure if this ‘EA’ is the same as GDP).

-78.5% +1.0pt share of ‘leisure spend’ (we presume ‘leisure travel spend’), thus 21.5% ‘business spend’ (we presume ‘business travel spend’). No indications of other main categories – we presume MICE is in the ‘business’ total, VFR in ‘leisure’, but other (sport, religion, etc) we cannot categorise, although they probably represent under 10% of the spend total.

-International visitor spend 28.8% +1.5pts share, domestic 71.2%. Note this appears to be only destination spend and not, for instance, air fares – which are included in WTTC’s overall total.


-A full report on this topic in our WYSK: What-You-Should-Know monthly-report contains some important additional information, qualification, and analysis.

-WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Council), a lobby group for the travel business, has its own methodology for calculating the turnover of the travel business including not just inbound, outbound, and domestic travel, but other industries involved in the business. For instance, if 0.5% of the world’s cars go into the car-rental business, that measure would be calculated into the turnover of the overall travel business.

  Unfortunately, WTTC is not always clear that its data is related to this grand total, and often its commentary appears to be related to just one sector – often, the inbound visitor business. In addition, it sometimes uses the terms ‘travel’ or ‘tourism’ alone; we cannot always determine if these mean something different from ‘travel & tourism’.

  WTTC’s name does not help – the ‘TT’ is ‘travel & tourism’, where we would define ‘travel’ as covering all segments of the travel business, with ‘tourism’ meaning ‘leisure travel’ to most observers, just one segment. This means that most people and bodies the WTTC lobbies may think they are discussing just inbound leisure travel.

  In addition, the group is so careless in its presentations that the professional observer is sometimes left to guess what WTTC’s research shows. We believe its presentations are in contrast with the professionalism of its research.

  At press time, WTTC had not answered our request for clarifications.


ITB on Malaysia

27 February 2019

ITBB* on Malaysia, its promotional partner March 2018 through next month’s event:

-Targets 30mn visitors in 2020, which we calculate would be an average +7.8% over the two years. The only time it has counted close to that growth-rate in the past 10 years was +6.7% in 2014. The main reason is that it counts land visitors from Singapore (if Singapore counted visitors from Malaysia in the same way as Malaysia counts visitors from Singapore, then we estimate Singapore’s visitor count would be about 30% bigger than Malaysia’s; with the current system, Singapore shows smaller counts than Malaysia).

-Visitors 2018 25.8mn. Change not given, possibly because this was a fall; we calculate -0.6%.

-Visitor-spend US$24.6bn (at US$1 to MR1.07) in 2020. Change not given.

-Revenue from its homestay program in 2017 was US$6.8mn; change not given, which usually means there was a fall. Homestay visitors (local and foreign) 372,475 – but for 2018, and change not given. We calculate this as around US$18 per visitor, which looks low; ITBB makes no comment, even on whether this is total spend, or just accommodation.


-ITBB=ITB Berlin, the big travel trade exhibition in the city. At press time, ITBB had not answered our request for clarifications.

-A full report on this topic in our WYSK: What-You-Should-Know monthly-report contains some important additional information, qualification, and analysis.


Travel business updates

26 February 2019

[] STR (nee Smith Travel Research) reports on Middle East hotels in January: occupancy -0.9% to 68.2%, average room rate -8.9% to US$154.18.

[] STR reports on US hotels 17-23 February: occupancy -1.7% to 64.7%, average room rate +1.7% to US$129.05.

[] TBA Tracking: Our calculation of seats sold by the big-3 airline groups in Europe in December, from the current editions of WYSK: What-You-Should-Know, published by Travel Business Analyst, shows for AF+KL+A5+HV +4%, BA+EI+IB+VY +8%, LH+LX+OS+EW+SN +6%. Last month +3%, +7%, +6%.


China to Europe

25 February 2019

EF* report on travel from China into Europe (in this case, the 28 country members of the European Union). Selected extracts:

-Chinese* arrivals in 2018 in EU destinations +5.1%.

-Top-3 destinations in volume: UK +2.4%, Germany +2.6%, France +7.7%.

-Bookings for Jan-Apr 2019 up +16.9%; total world +9.3%.

-Excluding the UK (due to leave the EU end-March), the EU would have been +5.8%, and Jan-Apr 2019 bookings +17.7%. Part of the problem is that a separate visa is required to visit the UK, whereas most of the EU is covered with one visa (the so-called Schengen visa).

-Chinese departures from mainland China were +5.2% in 2018, with bookings +16.7% for Jan-Apr 2019. Tier-2 cities in China – Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen +18.1% and +51.3%. Hong Kong/Macau +7.6% and +35.4%.


-ETC=European Travel Commission, FK=Forward Keys, EF=ETC-FK report on arrival and booking trends.

-FK analyses 17mn flight booking transactions daily from major global reservation systems.

-EF use ‘Chinese’, but this is misleading. Some are China nationals, some residents in China, and some may be China nationals living outside China.

*A full report on this topic in our WYSK: What-You-Should-Know monthly-report contains some important additional information, qualification, and analysis.


The Fox. Remember, I’m an industry expert in the parallel world.

*Fox – sly.  Trots – left-leaning (Trotsky) plus its more insalubrious meaning.  Foxtrots – leading the industry in a dance.