The proliferation of daily deals for a host of products and services has impacted travel agencies as well as travel suppliers. Customers now routinely look for deals before making any purchase decision. Additionally, with more consumers looking to book travel logistics online, travel agencies have been losing out. Travel suppliers have been reduced to operating on extremely slim margins, impacting their profits. To overcome all these challenges, TRAVELSAVERS Partner Services has tied up with San Diego-based Analog Analytics to deliver exclusive deals to over 850 online media outlets.
This tie up will ensure that travel deals are delivered via more than 50 million e-mails each day to subscribers of online newspapers and other media. This will ensure that travel agencies and suppliers have a vast base of consumers to market to. The travel deals will be more in the nature of upgrades and special offers rather than deep discounts. This will help suppliers retail profit margins, offer consumers great opportunities to experience comfortable travel, and give travel agencies a share of the profits.
TRAVELSAVERS has decided to keep travel agencies in the loop by giving them a percentage of the profits if the consumer is from their area. In addition, the contact information of the customer will be shared with the agency enabling the agency to market other travel products to the customer and develop a long-term relationship. This win-win-win model is expected to customers, travel agencies, and suppliers in the long term.
The Bigger Better Deals will be made available using technology supplied by Analog Analytics. This is not the first set of travel deals to be made available in the daily deals format made popular by Groupon and Living Social. However, this set of travel deals focuses on upgrades and value adds instead of deep discounts. It also ensures that travel agencies still have a place in the travel market. TRAVELSAVERS will be launching the program toward the end of February. While this is the first program involving TRAVELSAVERS and Analog Analytics, it will certainly not be the last. Both companies are planning to utilize the tie up to improve the market for travel services and products.
Source: Travel Market Report
Sedona: Resort credit at Enchantment
Enchantment Resort in Sedona, fresh off an $11 million room renovation, is offering a $100 resort credit with a minimum two-night stay. The offer is good through March 15. Package rates start at $265 a night. The resort credit can be used at the spa, restaurants or stores. Taxes and resort fee are extra. Don’t need the resort credit? Room-only rates start at $225 under the Sedona Saver package, which requires early booking.
Details: 800-826-4180, enchantmentresort.com. The code for the resort-credit offer is 100CR.
Hertz: Free weekend day for AAA members
Hertz is offering AAA members a free day on three-day weekend rentals. The offer is valid on rentals picked up by March 31. The PC code is 164080. AAA members must also list the organization’s Hertz CDP number. For Arizona AAA, the number is 2.
Details: 800-654-3131, hertz.com, click on special offers.
Kimpton Hotels: Spring-break sale
Kimpton Hotels is offering up to 25 percent off room rates for spring stays at select hotels. Book by Feb. 10 for stays from March 16-25. Sign up for the free InTouch loyalty program and use the rate code SPBRK. Sample rates under the promotion include $162 a night at the Sir Francis Drake in San Francisco for a weekend stay in late March. Kimpton has about 100 hotels, with the biggest concentration in California and the Washington, D.C., area. About a quarter of its hotels are participating in the promotion.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Lesa France Kennedy strode through the Art Deco-inspired lobby, past rows of blinking slots machines and spinning roulette wheels, her eyes trying to take in the homage to old Hollywood.
The chief executive of International Speedway Corp., which owns and operates Kansas Speedway, could only marvel at the new casino overlooking Turn 2 of the race track — a $411 million facility that has created 1,000 new jobs and is expected to attract 4 million visitors annually.
“All the different screens, all the colors,” Kennedy said. “I’m blown away.”
Kennedy is gambling on the Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, which celebrated its grand opening on a rainy Friday morning, to generate interest, drive ticket sales and increase revenue for ISC during a sluggish time for motorsports.
It’s a bet she’s confident will pay off.
“Anything we can do to bring more entertainment to the area, and also for our fans, will help not only us but the overall region,” Kennedy said. “The group here has been so supportive and so interested in bringing tourism that it’s made it really easy.”
Long lines of cars snaked out of the parking lots and along the access roads running parallel to the backstretch in anticipation of the opening. After a ribbon was cut and Sprint Cup drivers Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne threw the ceremonial first dice, people began streaming through the doors and taking up seats at slot machines and blackjack tables.
The casino, a partnership between ISC and Penn National Gaming, is the first to open in the Kansas City market in 15 years, and the first land-based, Las Vegas-style casino in the area.
All of the gaming is on a single, 95,000-square-foot floor, with a bar and restaurant that overlooks Turn 2 of the speedway, providing a unique vantage point for its two race weekends.
The first is in late-April, when the Truck Series and Sprint Cup Series visit the track. The second weekend, in mid-October, brings an ARCA race, the Nationwide Series and one of the Chase races that make up the Sprint Cup playoff system.
“I get to do this for a living and we’ll open several new facilities this year, but you can imagine the creativity that comes with opening a venue like this,” said Peter Carlino, the chief executive of Penn National Gaming, which owns and operates casinos across the country.
The casino is only the latest development on the Kansas side of Kansas City.
The speedway, which opened in 2001, served as the cornerstone of a building boom that took advantage of good economic times. Several outlet stores, theaters, a minor league ballpark and the new stadium for MLS team Sporting Kansas City have popped up around the facility.
But the economic downturn has hurt motorsports, and suddenly it’s become tougher to sell the 80,000-plus seats at Kansas Speedway, along with a dozen other tracks that are owned and operated by International Speedway Corp.
Kennedy believes unique entertainment options like the casino can help bring people back to the track. In places where gambling may not work, it could mean shopping and restaurant projects, concert venues and general upgrades to facilities such as Phoenix that have seen better days.
“We have a certain amount of capital each year for all our tracks,” she said, “and we’ll take a look at those that are ready for the next step.”
Kennedy said she couldn’t have envisioned setting foot inside a casino at Kansas Speedway five years ago. The truth is that nobody could have.
It wasn’t until 2007 that the legislature passed a bill authorizing the construction of casinos in four areas of Kansas to generate additional revenue, one of them near the speedway.
Under the bill, the games themselves are owned by the state.
There’s more to the facility than just gambling, though. A steakhouse offers fine dining, a buffet on the casino floor caters to nearly 300 at a time, a coffee bar and VIP lounge offer more dining options, and the place to be on race weekends is the patio overlooking the track.
“It’s truly brought Las Vegas to Turn 2 of this race track,” said Bowyer, who grew up in Emporia and considers Kansas Speedway his home track. “Can you imagine what the atmosphere is going to be like on race weekend?”
Everything inside the facility is modeled after the golden age of Hollywood.
There are soaring columns with ornate scrollwork, video screens rolling historic clips of Grace Kelly and James Stewart, and vintage movie posters of Steve McQueen in “Le Mans” and James Garner in “Grand Prix,” a nod to the motorsports element of the unique partnership.
“Any time we can bring more things to the race track area and offer more entertainment, we’d definitely look at that,” Kennedy said. “The casino happens to work for this property. Obviously it’s available here in the area. But we would look at this or any other types of things that would add an extra boost to the economy and to the experience.”
CHARLESTON, S.C. – They might be considered the newest attractions in South Carolina’s $14 billion tourism industry: linebackers in Carolina garnet and wide receivers in Clemson orange.
Building on the success of the football teams at the University of South Carolina and Clemson University, the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism targeted promotional messages last fall to ACC and SEC fans in five nearby states within relatively easy driving distance.
Officials used news releases and social media, and contacted both sports and lifestyle reporters in the media. The message to fans coming to the state for games was to get off the interstate and see other South Carolina attractions.
“I don’t know if other states are doing it or not, but we are,” said Duane Parrish, the department’s director. “It’s difficult to track, but I’m sure we had some success there.”
It helped that both South Carolina and Clemson were having success on the field. Both teams were nationally ranked. Clemson won the Atlantic Coast Conference title and a trip to the Orange Bowl, while South Carolina had the best football season in school history.
“They were already in the news, and we just capitalized on that,” said Dawn Dawson-House, a spokeswoman for the tourism agency. “We said since you’re on the interstate, here are some must-see things that would be great for you to see while you’re here and spend another night here.”
The campaign promoted everything from the Beacon Drive-In off I-26 in Spartanburg to the waterfalls and historic homes near Clemson to Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, among other sights.
“Many people don’t know we have a national park called Congaree National Park just outside Columbia,” Dawson-House said.
The campaign brought attention to sights that those from out of state might not be aware of, she said.
“A lot of people are familiar with the attractions of their favorite destination if they go to Myrtle Beach or they go to Charleston,” she said. “But many are not aware of what is on the way.”
Thousands of fans from out of state will come to USC and Clemson games, following their own home team on the road. Parrish said that’s a target market most people don’t necessarily think about.
He added that the success of the teams also encourages in-state fans to spend a bit more when they head to the games. He also noted the success of South Carolina’s baseball team, which has won the past two national championships.
“When people are feeling better they are a little looser with their pocketbooks,” he said. “If your team is doing well, you’re going to spend a bit more money.”
EL-ARISH, Egypt – Bedouin tribesmen abducted two female American tourists and their Egyptian guide at gunpoint Friday but released them several hours later after negotiations with tribal leaders in the Sinai Peninsula, the region’s security chief said.
The brazen daylight abduction along a busy highway was a new blow to Egypt’s vital tourism industry, which has been heavily battered by the unrest following last year’s uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.
Tensions across the nation have spiked since a deadly soccer riot on Wednesday that has spiraled into a political crisis and fueled anger at the ruling military council after protesters accused police of standing by and allowing the bloodshed.
Also Friday, four masked gunmen stopped the vehicle of two Italians working for a local food factory in the nearby city of Suez, taking their car, more than 10,000 euros ($13,000) and their laptops, the director of the company Mohammed Antar said. The attackers let the Italians go.
Maj. Gen. Mohammed Naguib, the head of security for southern Sinai, said the three were snatched from a minivan after it was intercepted at gunpoint while carrying the group from St. Catherine’s Monastery to the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. The attackers, who were driving a sedan and a pickup truck, then sped away into the mountains. A helicopter buzzed over the area as authorities launched a search and rescue mission.
The bus was carrying three other people who were left behind, Naguib said. Their nationalities were not immediately known.
The gunmen were demanding the release of a number of fellow tribesmen arrested this week on drug trafficking and robbery charges but agreed to free the women after mediation efforts between officials and tribal leaders, Naguib said.
Security officers then drove to an area called Wadi Feran where the women and the guide were being kept and took them back to the police station in St. Catherine, the town near the historic site, which UNESCO says is the oldest Christian monastery still in use for its original function.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner confirmed the release of the two American citizens and thanked the Egyptian authorities for their quick response to the kidnappings.
“We certainly appreciate the efforts of the Egyptian authorities in securing the releases,” he told a news briefing.
He said he could not name the Americans because of privacy considerations.
Bedouins have long complained of discrimination and random arrests by the government and the area was restive even under Mubarak, but tensions have risen in recent months along with a general deterioration of security in the region that has included attacks on police stations, armed militias roving the streets and attacks on pipelines carrying gas to Jordan and Israel.
Earlier this week, armed Islamic militants also seized 25 Chinese factory workers after forcing them off a bus elsewhere in the peninsula, but they were released the next day. The kidnappers were also demanding the release of members of their group arrested years before on charges of terrorism.
In general, Egypt has faced a surge in crime since the uprising, which uprooted Mubarak’s police state that kept tight control over the population of 85 million. Protesters accuse the military council that took power after Mubarak’s ouster and the police force of negligence.
Tourism Minister Mounir Abdel-Nour said last month that the number of tourists who came to Egypt in 2011 dropped to 9.8 million from 14.7 million the previous year. Revenues for the year clocked in at $8.8 billion compared to $12.5 billion in 2010.
Adel Shokry, the secretary general of the south Sinai Hotel Association, said occupancy in the area has suffered in the past few months because of the increasing lawlessness.
“The security agencies are not working as efficiently as they had before. They must review their positions,” he said. “With all these incidents, it is clearly not easy. But we must move. I think the army must step in to fill in this security vacuum.”
Normally at this time of year, which is not high season, Shokry said hotel occupancy rates can reach up to 65 percent. “Currently, we are no more than 30 percent in all of Sinai,” he said.
Ranya Barakat, the owner of one of Sinai’s main publications, said the deteriorating security situation in Sinai coupled with the recurrent violence in Cairo has turned people away from the region. Friday’s kidnapping will just be another sharp blow.
“It will really be felt, it will have a strong impact,” she said.
Charter flights from Europe for the summer season are drawn up in January and February, and she said the news of the kidnapping is expected to negatively impact bookings.
Associated Press writers Sarah El Deeb in Cairo and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.