Week 3 - Religious Tourism, North Korea attracts Russians & Big Chains in Asia
In externalities - Liberalism on decline, EU is happy according to a survey (Austria the most happy, Germany the least)
TLDR: Too Long Didn’t Read
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In recent hospitality news, North Korea is partnering with a Russian region to attract tourists post-pandemic 🇰🇵🇷🇺🌍, while UNWTO introduces "TourismConnectsRural" for sustainable village knowledge sharing 🌱🏡. A proposed US law holding franchise businesses liable for employees of their partners was overturned ⚖️🏨, and major players like Choice Hotels, Hilton, and Capital One discuss their pursuit of the experience economy 🏨💼🎉. The Israel-Gaza conflict affects Middle East travel 🇮🇱🇵🇸✈️, OYO expands due to religious tourism interest 🏨🙏, Viking Cruises offers domestic cruises in China 🚢🇨🇳, and Four Points by Sheraton opens its first Philippine hotel 🏨🇵🇭.
In externalities, "The Economist" analyzes the decline of liberal systems 📰🌍, and the EU reveals Austria as the happiest country 😃🇪🇺. China's shipbuilding makes history 🚢🌟, and President Macron announces reforms in France 🇫🇷💼.
Academia explores performance reviews 📚📊, while a list of tourism journals is provided 📖📓.
In tips and tricks, a guide on AI-optimized hospitality 🤖🏨 and revenue management tips for guest packages is offered 💼💰🎁.
0. News snippets
Not important enough to expand on, but worth hearing about
A new OTA/Vacation rental business recently popped up with an 80 million USD funding, named Overmoon. With a focus on “only prime locations”, “no Chores” & even concierge | As in the US, Taylor Swift’s concert tour has increased the financial outlook for the Premier Inn hotel chain in the UK
0.5 Follow up
Where we follow up on news from previous weeks
North Korea Finds New Tourist Clients
Last week we talked about how Maldives had instantly lost 10% of its visitor demographic due to a political quarrel with India. This can also work the other way, even for North Korea! Recently A Russian region neighboring North Korea made a deal with their colleagues over the border and now Russians can book a 750$ package to go there. After an estimated 170$ million loss due to COVID, partnerships come in handy!
UNWTO now offers an intranet for the best tourism villages
A few months back, UNWTO announced a list of “world's best tourism villages” mostly connected to sustainability. Now the organization is offering a type of intranet for those villages to share knowledge. A Facebook of sorts for sustainable villages called “TourismConnectsRural”. You can exchange experiences, offer masterclasses, communicate & showcase your events. A pretty good idea as a whole, that should be utilized by businesses of all kinds.
Franchise liability law overruled
In October, a law was about to be passed in the US, making franchise businesses collectively liable for employees of their franchise partners. Which in effect would make it very expensive for any franchise-offering company to operate. This was now overruled, thanks to lobbying on behalf of local associations. Whether this law would have been a net positive or not, lobbying works ladies and gentlemen.
1. Main Hospitality News
Core news related to the industry
Experience Economy by the Big Girls/Boys
Experience economy, the wannabe, holy grail of money making that a lot of service sector companies are trying to chase. This time Choice Hotels, Hilton and Capital One talk about how they tried to find this elusive mystery money-making machine. Did they? Well, they sure say they did. Mostly by scrapping massive amounts of data and surveying their guests for years. The full discussion is available here.
US citizens are discouraged from travelling to middle-east
The Israel-Gaza conflict is discouraging Americans from travelling to the area. While the article draws false conclusions from air ticket purchases still below 2019 levels for countries like Turkey and Egypt (since these numbers are more or less below for most destinations outside prime locations like France), a survey of 2.2t Americans still shows that 1 out 5 respondents have cancelled or moved their trips due to the war. It would be a pretty interesting study to see which country is most impressionable on this topic though. Since wars, earthquakes & political conflicts are a great set of topics to attract tourists and as we found out last week, the US is at the bottom of the attractiveness list (supposedly).
Religious Tourism in India? 400 New Hotels!
OYO, one of the bigger hotel chains from India is now planning to expand its portfolio in India, targeting religious tourism destinations. All thanks to a 350% increase in searches and bookings the chain has seen as of late. The sudden increase in traffic is due to the opening of anew temple “Ram Mandir” where it is theorized that Rama was (One of the major gods in Hinduism). OYO intends to try to be the first movers with flexible management deals that do not require major reconstruction. Considering the temple is opening on the 22nd of January, first mover openings should have probably been done prior.
Viking Cruises tackling the Chinese market with a world-premiere
Viking Cruises has made history by becoming the first company to offer domestic cruises in China, renaming their Ocean Ship Viking Sun to Viking Yo Dun. This 4-star vessel, accommodating 930 passengers, will embark on itineraries lasting from 10 to 20 days, allowing guests to explore the captivating coastal regions of China. The cruise will showcase iconic wonders such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and Terra Cotta Warriors. While Cruise lines have been catering to the Chinese market for over a decade, this marks the inaugural occasion where the entire itinerary is exclusively domestic.
Four Points by Sheraton lands in the Philippines
Four Points by Sheraton has debuted in the Philippines with the opening of Four Points by Sheraton Palawan Puerto Princesa, the country's first of its kind. Located on Sabang Beach, 70 km from Puerto Princesa City, the hotel caters to 'bleisure' travellers and families exploring Palawan's natural beauty, known as 'the Philippines' last frontier.' The hotel features 168 guest rooms with modern amenities and scenic views. Inspired by its tropical setting, the design reflects the surrounding natural beauty with open-air spaces and a colour palette mirroring the beaches, forests, and ocean. Guests can enjoy farm-to-table dining at Evolution and upscale Italian cuisine at Il Fiore. The Pool Bar overlooks the 1,367-square-meter swimming pool. The hotel also features a 24/7 fitness centre, sauna, in-house spa, and a Kids Club playground.
Economics, finance, geopolitics. All have an impact on the hospitality sector.
Is liberalism decreasing? An empirical comparison
An exciting new analysis was conducted by “The Economist”. With all the talk of liberal governments around the world declining, the journal compared how these rankings were made. Turns out they were a result of human decisions and therefore susceptible to bias. So the newspaper combined its own economic indicators (i.e. corruption, arrest of journalists, etc.) and came up with purely factual results (without any human deciding). Key findings are, that liberal countries are run better than authoritarian ones (this also includes government order). And indeed yes, liberal indicators have been falling since 2008, but not as much as assumed by “experts”. Finally “state capacity to maintain order” has remained more or less stable. If you want to see individual country results, check out the following link.
EU happiness study, which country is the happiest?
EU recently published happiness survey results. Comparing 27 different member states + Switzerland. Turns out Austria is now the happiest. With 7.9/10 as an overall score. EU as a whole has shown pretty good results and is “Happy”. Which country is the saddest? With an average score of 6.5 (having decreased by 0.6 points). Switzerland, of course, is even above Austria with 8.0. For the source click here. So dear hospitality professional, next time you meet a German guest help them out a little more. They are probably having a tough day.
China looking to become a major actor in shipbuilding
The maiden voyage of Adora Magic City from Shanghai is not just a significant step for Chinese shipbuilding but a historic one, marking the first time a cruise ship entirely manufactured in China has set sail. With a gross tonnage of 135,500 and a capacity for 5,246 passengers, this floating marvel is the result of a collaborative effort between China Shipbuilding Corporation and U.S.-based Carnival Corporation. Boasting 16 decks, over 20 restaurants and bars, indoor palm trees, a theatre with nearly 1,000 seats, and a 2,000-square-meter shopping mall, Adora Magic City showcases China's shipbuilding prowess and aims to challenge European dominance in the global cruise industry.
Macron’s announces reforms on numerous topics during a press conference on Tuesday the 16th of January
President Macron recently outlined his vision for a "stronger and fairer France" with key points including:
Youth: Initiatives such as regulating screen time, extending civic education, experimenting with a uniform dress code, and reintroducing diploma ceremonies.
Security: Emphasis on fighting drug trafficking with ten weekly clean-up operations and intensified efforts against radical Islam.
Economy: Focus on reducing unemployment with stricter job refusal rules and improved support for job seekers. A second phase of the 2017 labour market reform is set for spring.
Natality: Introducing a new "birth leave" with better pay, allowing both parents to be with their child for six months. Addressing infertility as a priority.
Health: Addressing “medical deserts” by facilitating coordination between primary care, hospitals, and paramedical professions. Granting residency to foreign doctors contributing to healthcare services.
Electricity Prices: Confirming a tariff increase, Macron assures prices will return to normal and remain lower than in Germany, Spain, and Italy.
Tribute to Attack Victims: A tribute to October 7th attack victims on February 7th at Les Invalides, where Macron will pay respects alongside families and the public.
Scientific papers related to the topics above. For those who want to know for sure ;)
Performance reviews, job performance & satisfaction
Academia truly has no borders. A study coming out of Pakistan compared job performance reviews and their correlation with actual performance and satisfaction. Results are mixed, but there are some learnings we could extract from it. The majority of employees found performance reviews unfair. This in turn impacted the satisfaction levels of said employees and with it, their performance negatively. Now the data sample is limited to 100 local employees, hence according to the central probability theorem it is not very representative, so take it with a grain of salt.
Books, podcasts & the big stuff.
Where can I get my academic papers?
If you are interested in academic sources and want to follow a scientific journal, here is a list of tourism journals ranked by impact (mostly related to the amount of reference scientific papers get in the corresponding journals). And of course the number 1 journal by impact - the “Tourism Management” journal, where you can openly download several papers and read them at your disposal.
5. Tips & Tricks Tools & SaaS
Any new software you can use? Industry tricks you missed?
How to adapt your online offering to new tools?
With all the talk of AI (once again), here is a handy guide on how to optimize your hospitality business towards being part of the new AI search and itinerary planning. Simplified, most AI tools currently use the same tools as search engines, hence the article we found provides 3 basic steps on how to be found on those tools and therefore be potentially part of that AI search result. Optimize the “Google My Business” listing, on your website and invest in SEO. More in-depth results here.
Accounting and Packages
Accounting and registering revenue when offering guest packages is often a tricky thing. Depending on what accounting system you have, upselling, cross-selling, discounts and accidental double booking all can take place. A little guide on how to avoid basic mistakes is available here. In a nutshell, daily account checks and corresponding adjustments of charges on the guest should be conducted. Or maybe get an accounting system that automizes the whole process? (We love wishful thinking on Le Portee)
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