Today’s weekly wrap-up is coming to you from Sydney Airport, where I will shortly be boarding Delta flight 40 to Los Angeles and then onward to Las Vegas. I’m heading to Virtuoso Travel Week for the first time ever, and by all accounts it’s going to be a frenetic few days of catching up on all things in the world of luxury travel and cruise.
One of the biggest stories this week was the revelation of the travel industry’s “biggest secret” by TravelManagers, after a teaser campaign which had been titillating the sector for a couple of weeks. The unveiling of the new TravelManagers Customer Fund – with the familiar TCF acronym confirming its role as a new and improved in-house version of the defunct Travel Compensation Fund which was ditched in 2014 as the industry was deregulated – was the fulfilment of a long-held ambition by House of Travel Director Barry Mayo, who had long been a vocal proponent of retaining the TCF in some form or other. Having spoken to Mayo and his compatriots I’ll have more to say on this next week, so stay tuned for updates on this intriguing initiative.
We were also taken off our tenterhooks in relation to the representation of Canada in the Australian market, after last week being told of the retirement of longstanding Canada queen Donna Campbell. Her DC & Associates business will be replaced as Destination Canada’s local GSA by Julie King & Associates – a big win for King who is well known to the industry as a CATO director and through her previous long association with Dubai Tourism. The switch, which is happening after a competitive bid process, appears likely to be pretty much seamless with Canada mainstays Nathan McLoughlin and Pip Macken transitioning to become part of the Julie King team, bringing with them decades of Canada experience and relationships.
While I’m on the topic of revelations, confirmation of the shock departure of Tass Messinis as MD of BCD Travel Australia will have sent ructions through Australia’s corporate travel agency community – not least because of the strong reform agenda he was pursuing within the Association of Travel Management Companies (ATMC). I met with him just last month – in hindsight it must have been just before the bombshell that his role was being made redundant – and he flagged significant moves within ATMC whose members’ business models have been repeatedly disrupted over recent years. At the time he had also just once again nominated for one of the vacant AFTA Board roles so clearly was unaware that he was about to be “seeking new opportunities,” as BCD put it.
Finally the reopening of New Zealand to international cruising yesterday saw a curious juxtaposition of celebration and relief, tempered with a perhaps belated realisation by NZ PM Jacinda Ardern that the ultra-cautious anti-tourism approach taken by her Government has seriously damaged one of her country’s major export industries. I was particularly intrigued that she was there in person to welcome back an industry which had been so demonised during the pandemic, and judicious commentary from Carnival Australia chief Marguerite Fitzgerald and CLIA MD Joel Katz focused on the opportunity that cruise now has to help the battered NZ travel sector begin a hopefully not-too-long road to recovery.
Well the boarding call is sure to come shortly so I’ll end this week’s update here. As a heads up, prompted by my Vegas visit we are launching a new feature in Travel Daily in the form of a dedicated luxury page which will run in each Wednesday’s issue, so look out for the first one next week. I’m looking forward to a big few days – on top of which I fly back in on Friday morning and will be heading straight to the AFTA annual general meeting because I can’t wait to find out who’s ended up on the Board!
Have a great weekend.