All posts by Martin Kelly

COVID-19 Makes Australian Skiing Even More Expensive in 2020

Thredbo ambassador Torah Bright – smoking!

Thredbo has become the first Australian ski resort to reveal its pricing for season 2020, increasing the cost of a daily lift ticket by 20 per cent to $159 a day.

Sounds outrageous at a time of hardship and unemployment for many, however the steep price hike is no doubt down to the fact that Thredbo, like all Australian ski resorts, will have to limit the number of guests it allows onto the mountain this year, although there’s no clarity on what that number will be. More 

Closed Borders Could Equal Domestic Bliss says Analyst

Dransfield Hotels and Resorts believes increased Australian domestic travel due to closed borders could more than compensate for the dearth of international tourists caused by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

“Estimated domestic replacement in hotels could be considerably higher than the loss of international nights in both the cities in both the cities and regions – by some margin,” the company said. More 

Australian Hotels Hit Record Performance Low in April

STR reports that April 2020  was the worst month ever in terms of performance for Australian hotels. “The absolute occupancy, ADR and RevPAR levels were the lowest for any month in STR’s Australia database,” the company said.

  • Occupancy: -72.7% to 19.9%
  • ADR: -33.1% to AUD119.87
  • RevPAR: -81.7% to AUD23.85

“Melbourne and Sydney saw year-over-year occupancy declines of 65.0% and 73.7%, respectively.” Occupancy is being supported by returning travelers forced to quarantine for 14 days.

Opinion: AFTA Needs to Reset after Westbury Loses it, Leaves in Disgrace

The spectacular and sudden immolation of CEO Jayson Westbury’s career speaks to bigger issues at the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, which looks badly out of touch with the modern world.

Westbury resigned yesterday after saying TV host Tracy Grimshaw “needs to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face” for negative coverage of the intransigent stance many agents are taking on the enforcement of cancellation fees. More 

Travel Plays By Its Own Rules with Damaging Results

How can you offer refunds when you’ve already spent the money or need every available dollar just to survive? That appears to be the dilemma facing some of Australia’s leading travel companies with the industry coming under sustained attack for its “read the fine print” approach to clients during the worst pandemic in 100 years.

Two companies – Flight Centre and Intrepid Travel – have hugged  recent headlines and encapsulate the brand risk in putting business cash flow first and customer needs second, especially when recent history shows that this strategy is doomed to failure in the court of public opinion. There is no way you can hold back the tide. More 

Qantas Slashes International Capacity by 23% to mid-September

Qantas reducing capacity, withdrawing eight A380s from service.

Qantas Group has taken decisive action to reduce costs because of slumping passenger demand caused by the coronavirus. In a major strategic shift, Qantas today announced it is withdrawing eight of its largest aircraft, the Airbus A380, from service and deploying smaller aircraft on less frequent schedules to maintain connectivity through the crisis.

“The biggest reductions remain focussed on Asia (now down 31 per cent compared with the same period last year),” the airline said. “Capacity reductions to the United States (down 19 per cent), the UK (down 17 per cent) and Trans-Tasman (down 10 per cent) will also be made in line with forward booking trends.”

It will cut domestic capacity by 5 per cent while senior staff have taken pay cuts of 30 per cent for the rest of this financial year.  CEO Alan Joyce will take no wage for this period. See release.

OTAs Bend on Confidentiality and Agree to Share Short-term Booking data with European Union

Airbnb, Booking, Expedia Group and TripAdvisor have agreed to share their short-term accommodation booking and guest data with the European Union (EU).

Commissioner Thierry Breton said the data will help with “evidence-based policy” planning and transparency for the short-term leasing sector, critics including local government claim is destroying the social fabric of key tourism destinations.

The EU has been heavily lobbied to provide leadership on short-term traveller rentals and this agreement will go some way to appeasing the call for transparency  from major European cities such as  Amsterdam, Barcelona, ​​Berlin, Bordeaux, Brussels, Krakow, Munich, Paris, Valencia and Vienna. More 

Google Takes With One Hand and Then The Other as TripAdvisor & Trivago Play the Blame Game While Revenues Continue to Fall

Google’s “have your cake and eat it too” approach to business – selling ads to companies while operating competing products – has been blamed by two leading online travel companies, Trivago and TripAdvisor, for significant revenue drops.

Both companies said current industry dynamics, including increased competition from new player Trip.com and Airbnb, have flowed through to 2020, which has got off to a sluggish start.

TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer said its hotel auction results had been hardest hit as Google diverts high quality hotel traffic to its own sales channels with weakness flowing through to 2020. More 

Epic Pass = Epic Lift Queues at Vail

Here’s the lift queue at Vail last week after a powder dump.  At US$209 for a day ticket, not exactly value for money. But odds are that many of these punters would have bought the annual Epic Pass, which covers all 37 mountains and urban ski parks owned by parent company Vail Resorts Inc. The Epic Pass has been revolutionary but lines like this beg the question: is it being properly managed?

SA Leads Way With Recovery Marketing, NSW Still in Meetings


Kudos to South Australia for its bush fire recovery and clarification campaign #BookThemOut, which kicked off more than two weeks ago. Still waiting for my home state of NSW – which has actually suffered more damage – to do something. What’s happening Destination NSW? Update: on Feb 8 Destination NSW launched a social media campaign, #LoveNSW, asking people to holiday in NSW and “post imagery of the experience on social media framed by hands in the shape of a love heart.”