Surprise Move, Graham Hills Leaves Wego for BeMyGuest

Big news in the small but growing world of indigenous Singapore travel tech – BeMyGuest Labs, flush with recently raised funds, has poached Graham Hills from Wego, making him an offer he couldn’t refuse to become its new Chief Commercial Officer (also his title at Wego). 

BeMyGuest further strengthened its team by making respected Japanese entrepreneur Kei Shibata a board member. Hills, an Australian, joined Wego in 2011 and is best known for building the Indonesian business. He was also Chief Product Officer for a time.

South Koran Tourism Goes Into Nuclear Meltdown

North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un, keeping an eye on the neighbours. His nuclear tests have scared away tourists.

South Korea’s tourism industry is in deep trouble with the nuclear threat of North Korea hitting visitor numbers hard, especially from the key Chinese market.

Meanwhile,  a hotel building boom has resulted in an incredible 369,000 hotels rooms coming online over the past two years. “Demand is not nearly keeping pace partly due to geopolitical tension in the region,” says industry data company STR. More 

Great Southern Land the First Dreamliner for Qantas

Qantas yesterday accepted delivery of the first of eight Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, which can fly further for longer than any other commercial aircraft.  Named Great Southern Land, features include larger windows, better air quality and ride dampening technology. It is quieter, more fuel efficient and less polluting than comparable aircraft. Qantas has confirmed two Dreamliner routes – Melbourne to Los Angles from December, and Perth to London next March, the first  first non-stop service between Australia and Europe.

Chinese Visits to Australia Surge During August

The surge in Chinese visitors to Australia accelerated during August with a 22.3% increase over the previous year, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures. This follows 18% growth in July, 11% in June, 8.2% in May and 7.5% in April.  Visits by Australians to China also grew strongly during the month by 15.2%. Italy (+16%) and Vietnam (+24.6%) were also popular with Australian travellers.

AccorHotels Buys Mantra Group for $1.3 Billion, Expands to 300+ Properties in ANZ

AccorHotels today announced it has agreed to buy Mantra Group for $1.3 billion. Mantra’s board unanimously accepted the Accor bid, priced at $3.96 a share, a 23% premium to the last closing price of $3.23. Mantra operates 127 hotels, resorts and apartments in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Hawaii across three key brands: Peppers (28 properties), Mantra (75 properties) and BreakFree (24 properties). It has more than 5,500 employees. AccorHotels says it operates 200+ properties pre-acquisition.

Asia Pacific Dominates Global Aviation Passenger Traffic

Global aviation passenger numbers during 2016 grew 7% over the previous year, reaching 3.8 billion. Once again Asia Pacific aviation dominated with 35% global share at 1.3 billion passengers, up 11.3% on 2015, according to the 2017 edition of the IATA World Air Transport Statistics (WATS), the yearbook of the airline industry’s performance. The top five city pairs were all in Asia, though US citizens fly more than any other nationality and three most popular airlines were all based in the United States. Highlights of the 2016 airline industry performance include: More 

Secret Escapes Raises US$111m, Acquisitions on the Agenda

Secret Escapes CEO Alex Saint

Secret Escapes Founder Alex Saint has flagged more acquisitions for the London-based luxury flash deals site after raising a further US$111m in cash and debt.

The Series D raising was led by Temasek, a Singapore Govt sovereign investment fund.

Existing investors Idinvest Partners and Silicon Valley Bank also participated, with cash and a debt facility respectively.   More 

Mobile First? Not In Australia, Where Big Screens Dominate Travel

Australian consumers love their mobile technology as much as any nation – except when it comes to researching and booking travel, according to new research from  Amadeus and YouGov. Here are the key regional findings:

“Australians under-utilise mobile technologies: Just 33% use a mobile for researching and 20% for booking a trip, compared to 54% and 46% respectively for APAC – most Aussies (81%) still do their travel research and booking on a laptop/desktop. Aussies also prefer email for updates/recommendations about their trip, while APAC travellers are more diverse in their preferences; including IM services, travel company apps and social media. More 

Best August Ever for Thai Hotels But New Supply a Future Threat

Thai hotels recorded their best-ever August occupancy rate at 81% while revenue per available room rose 6% over last year, according to STR.  The reason is simple – a record 3.13 visitors for the ‘low-season’ month.  But Thai hoteliers need to make hay while the sun shines. STR says Thailand has 100 hotel projects in the pipeline (21,615), equivalent to 11% of the country’s existing hotel supply.  

Forget the Gravy Train, Take Tigerair to Canberra

Low cost carrier Tigerair Australia has expanded its services on the rapidly evolving and historically high-yielding Canberra route,  where planes come stuffed with political fat cats and corporates, launching three return  services between Brisbane and the national capital each week. It’s also boosted its Melbourne-Canberra service by an extra weekly flight. Tigerair’s Canberra expansion is good for competition but not for yields.  Fares start at $49 ex-Melbourne and $69 ex-Brisbane.

China Propels Asian Cruise Growth, Numbers Double in a Year

China has been confirmed as the world’s most dynamic cruise market with annual growth of 76% between 2013 and 2016, according to an Asia Cruise Trends report from industry association CLIA. The report reveals that 3.1 million Asians took cruises in 2016, 55% more than in 2015. “Of these, 68% (2.1 million) were from mainland China, a market which almost doubled as it grew by 99% last year.” More 

Australia Odd One Out – Domestic Demand Drop

Australia was the only major aviation market where domestic demand dropped during July, according to the International Air Transport Association. “Domestic travel demand grew by 7.9% year-on-year in July, in line with 8.0% growth recorded in June. China led all markets (+15.0%).” 

July 2017
(% year-on-year)
World share¹ RPK ASK PLF     
Domestic 36.3%         7.9% 7.1%  0.6%       85.0% 
Australia 1.0%             -0.8% -1.9% 0.9% 80.1%
Brazil  1.2% 3.9% 4.3% -0.3% 84.2%
China P.R              8.7% 15.0% 12.7% 1.8% 84.8%             
India              1.3% 12.5% 14.5% -1.5% 82.6%             
Japan              1.1%  6.6% 1.4%  3.4% 69.6%
Russian Fed.              1.3%  9.1% 9.6% -0.4% 90.3%
US 15.0%  5.1% 5.0% 0.1% 87.2%

Steady as she goes at Expedia says new CEO

Don’t expect much to change at Expedia following the departure of online travel savant Dara Khosrowshahi, who has taken the top job at Uber.

That’s the message from his replacement, Mark Okerstrom, the former Expedia CFO, pictured, who says the company will focus on building out its accommodation inventory and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. See Skift story.

New Properties Boost Mantra Group Profits

Hotel and resort company Mantra Group boosted its net profit by more than 22% to $45.6m for the year to June 30, 2017. CEO Bob East said: “The majority of this improvement was driven by six new property acquisitions during the year supported by strong revenue growth from the key markets of Sydney, Melbourne, ACT, and Sunshine Coast.” More 

Content Is King

- It's All About The Information - 

TravelTrends founder Martin Kelly has diversified and now also runs a communications consultancy specialising in travel.

"I am particularly interested in bigger picture, strategic work but happy to pitch in with the bread and butter tasks that good communication entails," he says. Services include:

- Strategic Communications
- Media Releases & Distribution
- Crisis Management
- Thought Leadership
- Industry Advocacy
- Positioning, Messaging
- Marketing Plans & Execution
- Engaging Content

Martin is a communications, public relations and media professional with extensive high-level experience across the travel, internet, property and banking industries, both in-house and as a consultant.

He is skilled at working collaboratively and building lasting relationships, accustomed to pressured, complex environments.



No Vacancy Returns
July 17-18, 2018

Exciting times ahead for No Vacancy, which has been acquired by National Media from founder Martin Kelly, who also publishes

The new era kicks off with No Vacancy - The Accommodation Business Expo at Sydney’s new International Convention Centre on July 17-18, 2018.

“We’ll be taking No Vacancy to another level, combining high quality content with a large trade show featuring up to 150 exhibitors across all verticals, transforming it into the business hub of Australia’s accommodation industry,” says Harvey.

He says the accommodation industry is worth more than $18 billion to the Australian economy. “Yet surprisingly, given the size of the industry there is no dedicated exhibition designed to meet all its needs.”

“No Vacancy - The Accommodation Business Expo will fill this void and offer hoteliers and other accommodation industry professionals a platform to discover products and ideas to optimize their properties, create amazing guest experiences and ultimately boost their profits.”

Historically No Vacancy has been very much an accommodation marketing conference, but the new look exhibition will embrace all aspects of the accommodation business.

Content is still central to the event and will be expanded upon with more topics, more sessions and more speakers.

The exhibition will showcase the best quality suppliers across design and decor, property management, operations and finance, housekeeping, spa and leisure, in-room and guest-facing technology, and marketing, distribution and reservation solutions.

“We are really excited about where we can take No Vacancy and look forward to working closely with the community that's been supporting the event since 2007,” said Harvey.

For more information, contact:

Mark Harvey, MD, National Media
Phone: +61 7 5510 5101  //  0419 775 488


TRAVELtech Australia 2018

Returning in 2018

Change is the only constant in travel and so it is with TRAVELtech, which will be returning early in the second quarter of 2018.

The event has been bought by National Media - one of Australia's most respected event management companies - from founder Martin Kelly, who also publishes

Kelly says he’s happy TRAVELtech is in good hands and will remain connected in a programming and moderation role.

“I’ve really enjoyed creating and running TRAVELtech but it was time to step aside and let someone else with the capacity to accelerate their evolution take it on,” says Kelly.

He will now focus on further developing, while also consulting to travel companies on communications, innovation, industry trends and strategy.

Mark Harvey from National Media says TRAVELtech, founded in 1999, will evolve into a much larger event.

"We have plans for become the main exhibition and conference in Asia Pacific for travel technology buyers, travel agencies, tour operators and transport professionals to source, learn and network," he says.

"It will bring together a large selection of specialist suppliers showcasing the latest innovations across distribution, reservation, business operation and sales and marketing."

For more information, contact:

Mark Harvey, MD, National Media
Phone: +61 7 5510 5101  //  0419 775 488