Booking’s War Chest Still Exceeds $7 billion after Buying Spree

It’s been reported in Skift that the price Booking Holdings agreed to pay for  HotelCombined was USD140m while the global giant also outlaid USD250 million for tours and actvities tech company FareHarbor. Small change really. Neither was mentioned in the acquisition announcements by Booking Holdings because they are “immaterial” – and it’s hard to argue. Booking Holdings is still sitting on USD7.3 billion in cash and marketable securities.

Aussie Tourism’s Economic Impact Could Reach $150 billion by 2030

Rohan Lund, NRMA

Australia’s tourism industry has the potential to grow visitor nights in Australia to one billion by 2029-30 and contribute $150 billion to the national economy, according to a new report from the NRMA called Are We There Yet?

The NRMA, the largest motoring organisation in Australia, is a major tourism investor owning a $800+ million portfolio across Thrifty Car Rentals, Manly Fast Ferries, Travelodge, Hotel Kurrajong and Holiday Parks in six states. More 

NIB Holdings Buys QBE Travel Insurance

Consolidation in the travel insurance sector has continued with NIB Holdings Limited (ASX: NIF) buying QBE Travel, Australia’s fourth-largest travel insurer, for up to $25m, the final price dependent on performance. The acquisition is expected to close in early 2019. QBE Travel will be rolled in the World Nomads Group, which NIB bought for $95m in July 2015. The sector’s biggest travel insurer, Cover-More,  was bought by Zurich Insurance for $741m in April, 2017.

Australian Hotels Set All-Time Occupancy Record for Q2

Australia’s hotels were busier than they ever have been in the period from April to June with an average occupancy rate of 73.2% – “the highest for any Q2 on record”, according to STR. The record run came despite an overall increase in room supply of more than 2%. The Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast during April were a significant factor with strong demand driving a revenue per available room increase of 24% for the quarter.

The Indians Are Coming – Strong Surge in May

Inbound tourism to Australia continued its steady rise during May with Indian market the strongest performer, recording a +20.9% increase over 2017, according to the latest ABS stats.  The biggest flops were Malaysia (-13.0%), the United States of America (-4.5%) and Singapore (-4.4%).

Meanwhile, outbound travel by Australians rebounded after a flat few months. Japan +20.9%, China +16.3% and Indonesia +11.0% recorded the best results. Worst were Thailand (-3.2%), New Zealand (-2.3%) and Fiji (-0.4%).

The Chinese Surge – Good News or Bad?

Graphic imagery of the forecast domination of Chinese tourists in the Australian market and part of an investor presentation by the Star Entertainment Group. Stats from Tourism Research Australia. The phrase never put all your eggs in one basket comes to mind…

HotelsCombined Bought by Booking Holdings

Accommodation meta-search company HotelsCombined – based in Sydney, Australia – has been bought by Bookings Holding for an undisclosed sum. HotelsCombined will be absorbed into the Booking Holdings maw with management reporting to its “leading  travel metasearch brand, Kayak.” “We’ve always been inspired by the entrepreneurial culture of Booking Holdings brands,” said Hichame Assi, CEO of  HotelsCombined.  Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking Holdings, added, “HotelsCombined has built a strong brand with loyal consumers across APAC, and we believe the team will be a great addition as we expand our worldwide meta-search strategy.”

What’s A Ski Resort Without a Snow Cam? Treble Cone

I love Treble Cone. It’s one of my favourite ski resorts anywhere, even though it has only two real chairlifts and is run on the smell of an oily rag. The place has great spirit, views and terrain.

But now the relationship is getting stretched all because of one small thing: they don’t have snow cams. Well, they did and then they pulled them and say they are being replaced but we’re already a few weeks into winter and isn’t this a job for summer anyway?  More 

Aldi Supplants Qantas as Australia’s Most Trusted Brand

Low price supermarket Aldi has supplanted Qantas as Australia’s most trusted brand, showing the travel industry (hello TigerAir) that cheap does not have to mean nasty. Qantas is now 4th on the  Roy Morgan Net Trust Score survey.  “Nowhere is a high level of trust more important than when it comes to the provision of the food we eat,” says Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine. More 

Fake News – Air New Zealand Launches ‘Beef’ Burger

Looks like beef, takes like beef, but is a vegetarian hoax. Meet the new Impossible Burger  Air New Zealand is now serving in business class. The burger, developed by Impossible Foods from Silicon Valley, replicates meat by using an iron-rich molecule called heme derived from soy plant roots.  Heme is also found in animal meat and the result, supposedly, “is a plant-based burger patty that cooks, smells and tastes like beef but contains no animal products whatsoever.”

Village Roadshow sells Wet ‘n’ Wild at a Loss

Village Roadshow has sold its Wet ‘n’ Wild water park in western Sydney to Spanish operator Parques Reunidos for $40m, resulting in a $25 million pre-tax loss.

Parques Reunidos is a leading global leisure park operator with more 60 ‘entertainment assets’ around the world, including 20 water parks.

Village will use the sale proceeds to pay down debt.

Popularity and Rising Costs Emerging Issues for Queenstown

Queenstown is the least-cost effective international destination for Australians to fly to, according to new research from flight meta-search engine Kayak.  It says flights from Sydney to Queenstown cost an average of 16.89 cents per kilometre while Melbourne-Queenstown airfares are priced at an average of 12.2 cents a kilometre, making it the most expensive international flight destination from both cities relative to distance. This is despite an increase in capacity (tran-Tasman traffic up 24% in the year to May says QT airport). Meanwhile, Savills Hotels says hotel room rates in Queenstown increased 15% in the year to March, continuing a long-term trend. Also see: Queenstown is Being Loved to Death.

TourRadar Raises $50m To Turbo Charge Growth & Tech

Travis & Shawn Pittman, Founders of TourRadar

TourRadar, the most successful Australian travel company you’ve never heard of, announced overnight that it has raised a further USD50 million, money that it will use to grow staff and improve technology – with a major focus on mobile and personalisation.

So what is TourRadar? Founded by Australian brothers Travis and Shawn Pittman in 2010, TourRadar is the largest OTA in the multi-day touring market, which it estimates to be worth $55 billion. More 

Serko Lists on Australian Stock Exchange

Darrin Grafton

Serko CEO and co-founder Darrin Grafton today fulfilled a long-held ambition when his company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

The ASX listing supplements the travel technology company’s presence on the New Zealand Stock Exchange, where it has had a presence since 2014.

Grafton hailed the ASX listing as a “significant growth milestone. 

“Nearly 10% of Serko’s shareholder base is in Australia and being dual-listed will give us access to a larger pool of investors.” More 

2018 – Annus Horribilis for Aussie Tourism to New Zealand

New Zealand is on the nose with Aussie tourists, who are shunning their trans-Tasman neighbour and heading elsewhere for their holidays. The downward trajectory in Australian tourism to New Zealand in 2018 accelerated during April with a -3.3% decrease in visitor numbers compared with last year, according to the latest Overseas Arrivals and Departures figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. More 

Where:  The Langham, Sydney
When: Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Program: Latest Agenda, Speakers
Bookings:  Great value, $360 + gst

Get set for Travel IQ, a new conference which celebrates the business of travel and features an outstanding program packed with industry leaders.

They include Bob East, Jamie Pherous, Anthony Hayes, Darrin Grafton, Rob Smith, Sue Badyari, Brett Mitchell, Robert Halfpenny, Les Szekely, Simon Lenoir, Rod Cuthbert and many more.

There's also an exclusive interview with Anthea and David Hammon, whose family company has owned Scenic World since 1945 and have just taken over the iconic BridgeClimb business.

Confirmed speakers include:

Anthea Hammon, Managing Director, Scenic World; Director, Hammons Holdings 

- Anthony Hayes, Chief Operating Officer, Sealink Travel Group (SLK)

- Anthony Moulder, Head of Transport & Infrastructure Research, CLSA Australia

- Bob East, Chairman Tourism Australia/ Chair Experience Co (EXP)

- Brett Mitchell, Regional Director APAC, Intrepid Group

- Darrin Grafton, Co-Founder, Serko (SKO)

David Hammon, CEO & Director Hammons Holdings, (Scenic World/Sydney Harbour Bridge Tourism Experience)

- Dax Eddy, Executive Director, Jamberoo Action Park

- Jamie Pherous, Managing Director, Corporate Travel Management (CTD)

- Jeff Lewis, Vice President Technology & Strategic Initiatives, TripAdvisor

- Josh Oakes, Director, The Sunshine Tribe

- Kathryn Valk, Director of Marketing, Royal Carribean Cruises Ltd

- Les Szekely, Managing Director, Grand Prix Capital, early investor in SiteMinder and Rezdy

- Nigel Benton, Publisher, Australian Leisure Media

Quirin Schwaighofer, co-Founder and COO, MadeComfy

- Rachel Wiseman, Chief Investment Officer, The NRMA

- Robert Halfpenny, Managing Director, Aurora Expeditions

- Rod Cuthbert, Founder Viator, Former Chairman Rome2rio

- Rob Smith, Divisional Director, Australia/New Zealand, Merlin Entertainments (LON: MERL)

- Sue Badyari, Chief Executive Officer, World Expeditions

- Simon Lenoir, Co-Founder, Rezdy

- Tammy Marshall, CEO, The B Hive

- Vasso Zographou/Michael Simpson, Savills Hotels

Travel IQ is a new one-day conference that celebrates the business of travel with the people who live it every day.

- Entrepreneurs
- Owners
- Directors
- Investors
- Managers
- Key executives

Travel is a business, and Travel IQ will treat it like one.

You’ll learn how to improve your business, list a company, source finance, scale-up, connect with the right people, capitalise on fresh opportunities.

The program will be packed with industry innovators, creators, accumulators, doers, legends and pioneers.

See the travel industry through their eyes and leave with a better understanding of where you’d like to take your business.

Travel IQ is being held in the small but perfectly formed ballroom at the delightful Langham Hotel in The Rocks, Sydney, on October 24.

Numbers are strictly limited with a total capacity of 110.

Catering will be of the highest standard with ample networking opportunities in comfortable surroundings.

Please register your interest here and we’ll make sure you get the latest updates.

Travel IQ is being produced by Martin Kelly, who created the TRAVELtech and No Vacancy conferences, now owned by National Media.

More information on Travel IQ

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TravelTrends founder Martin Kelly has diversified and now also runs Bluewater Press, a communications and thought leadership consultancy with a particular expertise in travel. Services include:

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

For further information please email