All posts by Martin Kelly

Strong Christmas Bookings for Australian Holiday Parks

The Melbourne Cup is done, and won, and summer’s almost here. As temperatures rise, holiday park operators around Australia are working frantically to prepare for the holiday hordes who will descend over the Christmas break, six weeks when normal life ends and it’s time to work, work and work some more.  RMS Cloud has spoken with some of Australia’s leading holiday park operators to find out how the peak summer season is shaping up. Here’s what they had to say. More 

Hotel Demand Solid, International Visits Increase

Most of Australia’s hotel markets are in good shape due to consistent underlying demand across the nation – except for Western Australia – resulting in an average occupancy rate of 76% and an increase in Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) of 2.9% for the year to June 30, according to the latest Accommodation Industry Monitor from STR. More 

Record First Quarter Revenue for Qantas

Qantas revenue for  the first quarter for the FY18 has hit a record high of $4.41 billion, an increase of 6.3% over the same period last year, despite rising fuel costs. The airline’s CEO Alan Joyce attributed the result to increased passenger revenue (higher fares) and capacity discipline. This also reflected in the value of forward bookings, which is up 8%. Domestic was the revenue growth engine at +6.8% while international was up 4%. See Qantas results release.

Cruise Pumps Almost $5 billion into Australian Economy, Report

Cruise tourism contributed almost $5 billion to the Australian economy in the 17/18 financial year, according to a new combined report from  industry groups CLIA Australasia and the Australian Cruise Association. The report claimed 1236 “ship visits” led to 3.5 million passenger and crew visit days, raising $2.3 billion in direct economic output and $2.5 billion in indirect and induced output. More 

Jeff Lewis, VP Technology & Strategic Initiatives, TripAdvisor

Jeff’s current role is Vice President of Technology Strategy of TripAdvisor. This involves searching the globe for the best technology, ideas and businesses to complement or extend TripAdvisor Experiences’ mission of helping people around the world plan and have the perfect trip. 

Jeff was previously Vice President, Engineering for Viator and where he spent a decade managing the software development and IT infrastructure teams through that hyper growth period.

Since the acquisition of Viator by TripAdvisor in 2014, Jeff has been involved in many challenging and exciting initiatives to scale and integrate Experiences into the world’s largest travel site.

Nigel Benton, Publisher, Australasian Leisure Management

Nigel Benton is the co-owner and publisher of Australasian Leisure Management, Australia and New Zealand’s only magazine for professionals in all areas of the leisure industry.

Nigel established the magazine in 1997, shortly after his relocation to Australia, and has managed its readership rising to over 11,000 and its acceptance as the industry journal for professionals in aquatics, attractions, events, fitness, recreation, sport and venues.

Over recent years the magazine has expanded online with its website attracting 80,000 unique visits each month.

The magazine also has an active presence on twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Vasso Zographou, Director, Savills Hotels

Vasso Zographou is a Director for Savills Hotels, Australia & New Zealand. His responsibilities encompass Capital Market activities and overseeing the broad range of advisory services which the team provides to its clients.

As a Chartered Accountant, Vasso has spent the last 28 years across virtually all aspects of the hotel industry acting for owners and banks and hotel operators including, sales & acquisitions of hotel assets & portfolios and/or at the entity level, corporate finance, development, asset management, operator selection and management agreement negotiation, vendor & purchaser financial due diligence and capital transaction closure services.

Prior to joining Savills Vasso was Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Asia Pacific, for the Radisson Hotel Group, Joint Managing Director of Horwath HTL Australia and a Partner of Horwath Sydney.

Michael Simpson, Managing Director, Savills Hotels

Michael is responsible for the management and development of the Savills Hotels business in Australia and New Zealand, and its integration with the Asian and global Savills Hotels platforms.

He has a particular focus on investment sales, capital raising, joint ventures and advising on and structuring hotel and mixed use developments.

Before joining Savills, Michael spent more than 10 years as a lawyer responsible for advising on, structuring, negotiating and executing asset level and entity level single asset and portfolio hotel and resort sales, corporate M&A real estate transactions, bilateral, syndicated and private placement financing, and capital market bond issuance.

Michael also spent four years leading a hotel, resort and leisure development team in the Middle East, and jointly established the company’s hotel and leisure asset management team.

Josh Oaks, Founder, The Sunshine Tribe

In 2007 Josh and his wife started a day tour company in Melbourne, Australia. 

They had no experience in tourism, no  business experience, no networks or support and no funds. 

After two years  of 60 hour weeks, they were taking home $20,000 a year and had nearly thrown in the towel more times than they could count. 

Fast forward seven years and they had grown that business to $2 million plus in revenue annually, before selling the company in 2017 for seven figures.

They achieved this without working themselves into an early grave – creating a great lifestyle where they stepped out, worked remotely, travelled 4-6 months of the year, enjoyed all the things that they love about life and empowered others to run their business as it grew.

Josh recently launched – helping  tour and activity operators,  and small tourism businesses across the globe build amazing businesses AND create awesome lives for themselves.

Peak Travel Month Sends Global Airline Loads to Record High

Overall global airline load factor hit what the International Air Transport Association (IATA) believes may be a record high of 85.3% during the peak travel month of August.  “The industry experienced continued strong traffic growth in August, putting the cap on a very good peak travel season. The all-time record load factor reflects that airlines are maximizing the efficiency of their assets at a time of rising fuel prices and other costs that are limiting the opportunities for low fare stimulation,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.     

Quirin Schwaighofer, Co-Founder & COO, MadeComfy

Quirin is an entrepreneur, innovator and strategy enthusiast and Co-Founder & COO of Australia’s sharing economy innovator MadeComfy.

MadeComfy, launched in 2015, is Australia’s first performance-based home sharing partner and a fast-growing disruptor in the Real Estate and Travel markets.

MadeComfy enables property owners to participate in the sharing economy boom by renting out their properties on the fast-growing short-and mid-term rental market.

That way, property owners are able to cash in ~40% higher net returns than through traditional rentals whilst guests booking MadeComfy enjoy a unique and creative experience and a high level of comfort and convenience. 

Prior to MadeComfy, Quirin co-founded tech start-up HiKey Resources to develop a mobile workforce management solution tailored to the harsh requirements of businesses operating in the Mining and Construction Industries. HiKey operates in Germany, Australia and Chile. 

Growth Accelerates as AccorHotels Hits 1000 APAC Properties

AccorHotels has opened its 1000th in Asia Pacific, the Pullman Tokyo Tamachi, and is aiming to open one new property in the region every two days by 2020. 

“We currently open, on average, a new hotel in Asia Pacific every three days, but our goal is to move this to a new hotel every second day by 2020 and one hotel per day globally,” said Michael Issenberg, CEO Asia-Pacific AccorHotels. More 

Susan Bonner, Quirin Schwaighofer Talk Next Big Thing at Travel IQ

Susan Bonner, VP & MD of Royal Caribbean Cruises, pictured, and Quirin Schwaighofer, co-founder of MadeComfy, are the latest speakers to confirm for the Travel IQ conference in Sydney on October 24. 

They feature in The Next Big Thing, a provocative session moderated by Tammy Marshall of The B Hive and join a star-studded line-up including Bob EastJamie PherousAnthony HayesDarrin GraftonRob SmithSue BadyariBrett MitchellRobert HalfpennyLes SzekelySimon Lenoir, Anthea and David Hammon, Rod Cuthbert and many more. More 

Anthony Hayes, Chief Operating Officer, SeaLink Travel Group

Anthony Hayes is the Chief Operating Officer of SeaLink Travel Group, one of Australia’s largest tourism and travel companies. 

With more than 1600 dedicated team members around Australia, SeaLink serves over 8.5 million customers annually across the maritime, guided holiday, day tour and accommodation sectors. 

In addition to the SeaLink brand, key businesses within the group include Captain Cook Cruises, SeaLink Fraser Island and Stradbroke Ferries.

Anthony was previously Managing Director of AAT Kings, Australia’s largest guided holiday company, and CEO of Fantasea Cruising.

Prior to joining AAT Kings, Anthony was the Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Queensland, where he was responsible for setting the overall strategic direction for tourism in Queensland. 

During this period, Tourism Queensland won over 130 national and international marketing and tourism awards, including a large number for “The Best Job in the World”, one of the most awarded marketing campaigns in Australian history.

Anthony also enjoyed a long career at Qantas holding numerous roles in sales, marketing and product development, including Assistant to Managing Director James Strong and regional head of Central Europe based in Frankfurt.

Anthony has sat on numerous tourism boards including the Australian Tourism Export Council, the Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau, Events Queensland and the National Long Term Tourism Strategy committee.

Flights Centre Finds Digital Direction, Buys Unmapped

Flight Centre has bought Unmapped, a technology company that builds travel documentation, communication and itinerary management software for the travel industry. Unmapped products include the Trip Publisher itinerary builder and TripLinQ API services, which consolidates bookings, content and real-time location data into a single interface. The company’s products are already being used by Flight Centre in the US and will roll out globally.  No acquisition price was revealed.

Increase Your Travel Business Intelligence at Travel IQ


Shoulda Been There – Back in 2019

You should have been there. The first sold-out edition of Travel IQ was a fantastic day.

Make sure you don’t miss out in 2019 – register your interest here to get the latest updates.

Travel IQ is a one-day conference that celebrates the business of travel.

It’s designed for entrepreneurs, key executives, business owners, directors, analysts, investors and managers across all verticals.

The aim is to get people thinking – and also inspired – with case studies from some of Australia’s most renowned travel entrepreneurs and innovators.

This unique format resonated with the attendees at the first event, which was staged at the Langham, Sydney, on October 24, 2018.

As one high-profile speaker commented: “I met with many great people and the overwhelming comment was how much they got out of Travel IQ.

“Personally, I also enjoyed the event very much.

“It is always great getting the heads of companies in the same room, inspiring. So well done!”


Travel IQ 2018 Program –  Celebrating The Business of Travel

9.00am – 9.45am Travel – A Growth Story. Travel remains a growth story despite global uncertainty and is forecast to grow at more than 5% a year for the next decade. Our opening speakers crunch the data on key industry sectors. We also look at where the smart money has been heading with analysis of key industry investments over the past two years, both in Australia and overseas.

9.45am – 10.05am Founder’s Story. Jamie Pherous founded Corporate Travel Management (CTD) 24 years ago with a couple of staff in Brisbane and big dreams. Now the business he created is a publicly-listed global enterprise with offices in 70 countries, thousands of staff and a market capitalisation of more than $3 billion. Learn about Jamie’s journey in this presentation.

10.05am – 10.40am Trends, Issues, Challenges & Opportunities. Travel may be growing however progression is anything but linear. That’s because travel is a complex, occasionally volatile industry that’s ultimately all about people, who are anything but predictable. Strategies change, opportunities emerge, and growth is an ever-present challenge. Meanwhile globalisation looms large. Tightly moderated panel discussion involving travel business leaders.

10.40am 11.10am – Morning Tea

11.10am – 11.35am Investor Insight. Les Szekely has picked a few winners in his time: HotelClub, SiteMinder and Rezdy to name a few, so what he says is worth listening to. What is his philosophy on investing, what does he look for in a company and what does he think the future holds? Find out here.

11.35am – 11.55am Going Public: Serko is a story of dogged perseverance and bloody mindedness. After a rocky start on the NZSX, Serko staged a huge turnaround and became its top performing share last year while achieving a long-time goal of co-listing on the ASX in June.

11.55am – 12.40pm Attractive Proposition: Attractions are the invisible infrastructure underpinning Australian tourism. Session opens with focus on the rapid evolution of third-generation company Hammons Holdings, owner since 1945 of Scenic World Blue Mountains and now operator of commercial climbing on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Followed by industry leader discussion covering everything from ski resorts and aquariums to water parks. Moderator Nigel Benton, Publisher, Australian Leisure Media.

12.40pm – 2.00pm Lunch. Sensational lunch in Bistro Remy, a great space and brilliant food. Delegates will get the chance to relax and catch up with fellow delegates in a beautiful environment. 

2.00pm – 2.30pm Engineering an Exit. Building a travel business is one thing, selling it or stepping back something else altogether. Here’s  how two quite different travel entrepreneurs managed their transition. One sold, the other stepped aside from day to day management. Presentation followed by discussion.

2.30pm – 2.40pm Owning the Moment: Why lease when you can build and own? Australian travel companies APT and Scenic have been at the forefront of investing in and building their own ships. Now Aurora Expeditions has joined the party, commissioning the ‘Greg Mortimer’ expedition ship. Case study on rewards and risks of building your own ship.

2.40pm – 2.50pm Focus On – Intrepid Group: It’s been a remarkable journey for the Intrepid Group, which is pushing ahead with an ambitious strategy to be the biggest player in the global adventure travel industry through a combination of acquisitions and organic growth

2.50pm – 3.10pm Adventure is Where You Find It: Discussion… Adventure, expedition and experiential travel is hot right now with consumers increasingly looking for culture, meaning and interaction when they take a break. Find out what’s driving this sector, where the opportunities lie and what the future holds

3.10pm – 3.30pm Working Locally, Growing Globally. The common wisdom is that you can’t build a global business from Australia. However, it can be done. Rod Cuthbert has used Australia as a launching pad for two global businesses, Viator, now owned by TripAdvisor, and Rome2rio, headquartered in Melbourne. What did he learn along the way? Interview format.

3.30pm – 4.00pm Afternoon Tea

4.00pm – 4.30pm The Next Big Thing… If only if it were that simple. Here is your chance to get ahead of the curve in our closing session featuring a panel of well-connected industry insiders with their take on how travel will evolve in the coming years and who will be best placed to take advantage of the ever-shifting tourism landscape.