Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Airline Ticket Sales - The Segmentation Story (or is it string art?)

This month when I saw the ARC segmentation statistics, I just had to post the chart, all by itself, without the legend.  If you take off the axis titles, it actually reminded me of a string art project that I did in grade school.

For those not familiar with ARC, it is the Airlines Reporting Corporation and it deals with the online and offline agency community as it relates to air ticket sales.  The players are travel agencies, including the online players, the mega agencies and all "other" agencies.  One line on the graph is the aggregate of the three.  And to further confuse matters, the corporate division of one of the OTAs moved from the OTA category to the mega category in February 2012.  

Before you page down to get the "rest of the story", let's just look at the patterns.
  • The "green" player is struggling and did not enjoy the same spike in October and November
  • The "red" player started the year strong, but was outpaced by the "yellow" player in the last quarter of 2012
  • Without looking, I'm guessing that the "blue" player is actually the aggregate
Can you guess who is who?

Page down.

If you thought it was the brick and mortar travel agency community that was struggling, you would be wrong.  It was the OTAs.   And the mega agencies (boosted by Expedia's Egencia joining the category) had the best 4th quarter of all of the three categories.

Overall, the combined group of agencies spent more months below the 0% growth line than they did above.

But the death of the agency channel is still wildly overstated.

As of January 2013, there were  still 13,455 agencies, including the OTAs.   In January these agencies produced $6.1 billion in sales.   Out of the $6.1 billion, 18.13% was from airline fees (also known as ancillary fees).

And now you know, the rest of the story.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Passion Sells - Successfully linking food and lodging

Epicurean Hotel - Tampa, FL
This morning, I had to drop my kids off early at school and as a result, was early for a meeting in South Tampa, so I took a drive in the area of town called SoHo. My destination was the site of the development of a new boutique hotel called the Epicurean. I just heard about the project last night and frankly was curious.

Set across the street from the venerable and renowned Bern's Steak House, the project is in the construction phase after an economically induced 4 year hiatus.

I am intrigued by the project because of my fascination with all things food and wine and my career focus on the distribution of travel. Add to that my involvement as an investor in a resort development project in Antigua, and it made for a great early morning outing.

The $32.5 million four-story project is being pitched as a boutique hotel with 145 rooms priced at about $200 a night. Named the Epicurean, the hotel is being built on the 2.3-acre parking lot site of Bern's as a partnership between Bern's and Mainsail Lodging and Development.  It will be marketed as part of Marriott's Autograph Collection.

  • Bern Laxer School of Food & Wine
  • Restaurant and Lounge
  • Wine Shop
  • Retail & Production Bakery
  • Spa and Treatment Rooms
  • Pool and Fitness Center
  • Meeting and Function Space
  • Rooftop Bar
There are many ways to sell travel, but to me, none better than marrying passion and need. The Epicurean project has captured that in their tag line - Accommodation for the Senses.  The promo video is laden with emotion, as well as with photos of food and wine, alongside the artist's rendition of the property.

The SoHo area is long on charm, restaurants and shopping and short on lodging. Bern's, long known for the old world charm, amazing steaks and the largest private wine collection in North America fully understands the associated passion.

It is not the first time a restauranteur and a hotelier have gotten together, but I for one will make sure to book a room and have a great steak dinner once it opens!  And, I'm thinking that I should also add a visit to each of the other Autograph Collection properties to my personal bucket list. 

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