Gap Year Travel Sector Fuelled by Recession

Good news from Travel Mole for those catering to gap year travelers, hope everyone had a great holiday!

As recession hits the travel industry hard, a ray of light is shining in the Gap Year travel sector with records broken and positive forecasts for 2009.

Gap Year is the term given to young people in Britain who take time out between school and university, or university and full-time work, and has been broadened to take in young people having a break between jobs, even retirees seeking a lasting experience.

Growth is particularly noticeable amongst recently made redundant young professionals leaving the UK to backpack around the world.

The most popular destination is Australia, which offers a two year Working Holiday Visa to UK residents under 31. One of the least affected economies where the recruitment market is still buoyant; trips Down Under are proving to be very attractive.

The Australian Department of Immigration & Citizenship stats for Working Holiday Visas show a Q3 rise year on year by 21 percent.

Natalie Crowhurst, 25, from Bournemouth has recently been made redundant from her firm of solicitors. She is leaving in January for a six to 12 month around the world trip.

“I’m taking the opportunity to travel around the world as it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Sure, the circumstances could be better and I’m a little worried about finding work when I get back, but this is an opportunity that I might not get again. So I can’t wait,” she said.

Tom Griffiths, founder of Gapyear.com says, “It’s little surprise that this recession is fuelling the gap year travel sector as we are a “life transition” travel industry, which services people looking for things to do in between life stages, be it before, during or after university, in between jobs or around retirement.

To read the full article visit: http://www.travelmole.com/stories/1133782.php?mpnlog=1

How To: Get the Most out of Your Current Google Rankings

“Here’s the reality –  you’re not always going to rank #1 for all your keywords all of the time.

Faced with this constraint, you should put some serious thought into how you plan to legimately ’steal’ clicks from sites ranked above you. Remember – ranking is not an end unto itself; it is the click that matters!

a) Getting the searcher’s attention – to steal clicks from those ranked above you, you first HAVE to draw attention to your listing. And because Google limits what you (and all your competitors) can actually do in the listings, it means the smallest things can make a big difference.

b) Once they’ve noticed your listing – how to ’sell the click’ and maximize your organic click-through rate.”

To read the full article and its 12 really useful tips visit: http://www.seoptimise.com/blog/2008/12/google-window-dressing.html

Upscale Voluntourism – Globe & Mail Reports

Hard work… and soft sheets

Volunteering on vacation used to mean roughing it. But now luxury hotels and resorts are helping guests do good without giving up the perks of high-end travel, Ilona Kauremszky reports

 

At the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, luxury is the order of the day. Here on Maui’s northwest shore, between two championship golf courses, most guests are lounging poolside reading Malcolm Gladwell or slowly sipping tropical cocktails.

 

But some of us are choosing to spend the day digging out weeds. It’s not even 9 a.m. and here I am, covered in bug spray and ready for a morning of weed-whacking at the nearby Maunalei Arboretum. The mission: to dig out non-native plants and gather native seeds for replanting to renew Hawaii’s largest private nature preserve.

 

To read the full story: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20081217.VOLUNTEER17//TPStory

Adventure Industry Research Roundup Released

Xola Consulting has released their 2008 Adventure Industry Roundup, to buy the full version click here – below are a few notes from the executive summary that are really interesting for our market.

Traveler Trends
A new crop of adventure travelers is growing in importance — “GenY” travelers and even younger, the so-called “Millennials” are traveler segments to watch for destination developers and adventure travel tour operators. In 2008 Xola’s Natasha Martin conducted primary survey research to better understand the preferences and attitudes of youth who consider themselves adventure travelers. Key findings from Xola’s research indicate that GenY adventure travelers:

    • Are driven by a destination priority over a budget concern: 82% determine destination first, then worry about budget;
    • Travel with a specific purpose to explore and engage with other cultures: they indicate motivations which are consistent with those of Baby Boomer adventure travelers;
  • The adventure travel community should expect to see accelerated growth of social networks dedicated to adventure tourism in the coming months. Already some tour operators are embracing these concepts on their websites, and online adventure travel information sites are emphasizing networking in their operations.
  • TRAVELER USE OF TECHNOLOGY
    The use of technology in general is growing relative to tourism, not only the Internet but also wireless communications while traveling is becoming important to travelers.

    The Internet continues to shift power from service providers to travelers, pushing the travel industry to become much more market-sensitive, responding to consumer price expectations and other factors. In fact, Forrester Research predicts that travel will remain the number one on-line retail category and grow to $119 billion by 2010.

    ADVENTURE TRAVEL MEDIA TRENDS
    Half of all travel media users (50%) say that they read, watch or listen to travel media at least once a month or once a week. About one-third (31%) of travelers have decided to visit a travel destination because of information that they saw or read in the travel media.

    • In spite of the generally pessimistic outlook for travel and tourism this year, we have had reports from several adventure travel media sources that they are not seeing any slowdown in travel ad spending to date. Bryan Kinkade, Director, Travel & Tourism, National Geographic Adventure, stated in a July, 2008: “As it looks now, 2008 will be another record year for the ad travel category at National Geographic Adventure as more and more destinations and travel providers are identifying adventure travel as a vibrant growth and recession-resistant sector. Our readers view their adventure travel vacations as an absolute right — and while there might be some tightening in other areas of their life, they are not changing their travel plans.”

    Key Adventure Company Trends

    • Increasing focus on land-based immersion in Africa and East Asia;
    • More sea-faring expedition tours to the Arctic, Galapagos and Alaska;
    • Taking increased measures to reduce carbon imprint and impact on environment;
    • Customizable trips becoming mainstays in catalogs to reach high-end travelers;
    • Increase in women-oriented trips, family adventures and theme travel (e.g., culinary tours, wine vacations, gastronomic tours);
    • Emergence of “frequent traveler programs” offering discounts and special offers to drive loyalty;
    • Expansion in volunteer tourism opportunities; and
    • Special advertising and direct marketing to customer databases; special packages to attract middle market travelers most squeezed by current fuel prices.

    Smart Money Article now Online

    “What I Did on My Volunteer Vacation” – Smart Money, by Anne Kadet

    For some Americans these days, vacationing is becoming a lot more than just a week at the beach.

    “Voluntourism,” a fast-growing travel trend that combines overseas tourism with a dose of do-gooderism, has long been the province of college students and retirees willing to accept a long-term assignment. But increasingly, such lend-a-hand holidays attract boomers who can spare only a week away from the office.

    Indeed, one online poll by Travelocity found that 38 percent of travelers say they intend to volunteer while vacationing this year, up from 11 percent in 2007. Hundreds of outfits now offer short-term stints, ranging from hard-core Habitat for Humanity construction projects to the Ritz-Carlton’s “Give Back Getaways” that mix luxe accommodations with half-day gigs like mapping the whereabouts of Cayman Island iguanas or supplying music therapy to disabled kids in Instanbul.

    To read the rest…(and please ignore my heinous quote)… http://www.smartmoney.com/Spending/Travel/What-I-Did-On-My-Volunteer-Vacation/

    Sign the Petition to Expand the Peace Corps (please)

    A note from Jonathan Pearson of the National Peace Corps Association, this is in everyone’s best interest – help spread the word!

     

    NPCA and our MorePeaceCorps campaign has a major effort underway (through January 10th) to get signatures and on an online petition to President-elect Obama urging him to follow through with his pledges to expand the Peace Corps.  This effort is open to, and strengthened by any and all citizens signing (not just returned Peace Corps volunteers) who believe the Peace Corps is an important part of our outreach to the world.

     

    Anything you and BBC members can do to help spread the word and help us collect thousands of more signatures (we’re currently closing in on 11,000) would be fannnn-tastic!  The petiton allows people to offer comments, but it’s not mandatory.  So, it only takes a few minutes to make a huge difference.

     

    Here’s the link to the petition:  Please spread it as far and wide as you can!  http://www.petitiononline.com/morepc/petition.html  

     

     

     

    Economic Downturn & Travel – New Survey Released

    US TRAVELERS AFFECTED BY THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN, WHILE INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS HAVE NOT CHANGED THEIR TRAVEL PLANS SIGNIFICANTLY

    Mountain View, December 2, 2008. GeckoGo (http://www.geckogo.com), the fastest growing source of unique travel content, and World Nomads (http://www.worldnomads.com), world leaders in low cost travel insurance, today announced the results of their recent travel survey of 1162 travelers worldwide.

    Global consumers are worried about the economy… but are going ahead with their travel plans
    While 43% of survey respondents answered that they felt “terrible” about the current economic environment, only 15% have canceled their trips.  Fifty-one percent of travelers plan to fly the same amount this holiday season, with 22% planning to travel more than last year.

    Americans worried by economy more than rest of world… travel plans affected to a higher degree
    68% of Americans felt “terrible” about the current economic environment, and 22% have canceled their trips.   40% of Americans plan to fly less this holiday season, and 44% plan to spend less money on their next vacation.

    Travel insurance is considered a necessity by many and is the least affected by the economy
    In fact, 10% of respondents are more likely to purchase travel insurance due to the economic situation.  Only 7% of respondents would cut travel insurance before other expenses such as accommodation, activities, trip length, and food.    Sixty-three percent of consumers purchase travel insurance at least sometimes when they travel, and 32% purchase it all the time.  42% consider emergency medical and dental coverage to be the most important reason for purchasing travel insurance.

    Travelers will cut back on accommodations first
    27% said they would reduce accommodation spending first, with 24% saving by staying in more modest accommodations.

    Most are still traveling but are looking for additional cost saving measures
    30% will spend more time travel planning as a means of saving money, while 31% plan to travel during off-peak season.  Fifty-one percent of Americans say “looking for travel deals” is a key way to save money.

    Holidays are for family time
    Sixty-six percent of respondents usually visit their relatives over the holiday season, with 70% planning to see their relatives the same amount as last year, and another 13% more than last year.

    Spending plans stay the same for majority
    Sixty-eight percent of all respondents plan to spend at least the same amount on their next vacation, compared to 46% of Americans.

    Money-saving travel tips from GeckoGo travelers

    • Ask locals for shopping tips
    • Eat where the locals eat
    • Use public transportation
    • Stay at a hotel that includes complimentary breakfast
    • Stay 2-3 days in one place to get better accommodation rates
    • Splurge at lunch, go light during dinner meals

    THE TEN IMPORTANT WORLD TOURISM ISSUES FOR 2009

    This was recently forwarded to me and I thought it might be of interest as we start planning for 2009.

     

    THE TEN IMPORTANT WORLD TOURISM ISSUES FOR 2009

     

    1.       Repercussions of the global economic slowdown on tourism.  

     

    2.       Continued concern for safety and security in tourism.

     

    3.       Impact of fuel costs on tourism.

     

    4.       Increased interest in the management of sustainable tourism

     

    5.       Upswing in the use of electronic and other technologies in tourism.

     

    6.       Greater interest in the debate on climate change and tourism.

     

    7.       Influence of mega events (including festivals) on tourism.

     

    8.       Strategic tourism planning for communities and nations.

     

    9.       Introduction of new tourism products; e.g. space tourism.

     

    10.   Effect of natural and other disasters on tourism.

     

    Written and researched by David L. Edgell Sr., PhD, President, Global Tourism Solutions, Research Scholar, Center for Sustainable Tourism Professor of Tourism, East Carolina University

     

    An Ecolodge Stumbles into Voluntourism…

    Thoughts from Holly Masek of Cotton Tree Lodge – happy Monday everyone!

    When Cotton Tree Lodge opened in January of 2007, the goal was to share the natural and cultural treasures of the Toledo District with our guests in a sustainable way.  Our utilities were off the grid, our employees were local hires, and our tours sent money into nearby communities.  We knew our guests were a ‘green’-thinking set, but also assumed they wanted a traditional vacation where they could relax in hammocks, drink piña coladas, and jump into a few waterfalls. Then we started getting inquiries for opportunities to give back.

     

    We discovered a proactive way to deal with these inquiries through our existing partnership with Sustainable Harvest International, an NGO that had established an organic demonstration farm on the CTL property in 2007.   Working with farmers all over Central America, SHI teaches sustainable agriculture techniques and assists with various reforestation and nutrition initiatives.  SHI began allowing our guests to volunteer for a day or more on stove-building, tree-planting, or other local projects, requesting a small donation from the volunteers to cover staff time and materials.  The guest feedback was always positive, with most participants saying their service project was the best thing they did in Belize. 

     

    While our guests’ labor certainly helps SHI in the short term, we hope that their experiences will reach further than that.  Many guests will go back and tell their friends, families, and colleagues about what they did and learned on their vacation.  Younger volunteers have started Facebook groups to spread the word.  Several volunteers have become long-term donors to SHI. 

     

    We plan to continue working with SHI to develop voluntourism as a way to bring people and tourist dollars to Belize without negatively impacting the Toledo District.  We have seen what cruise ship tourism has done to the northern part of the country (a shopping ‘village’ in Belize City where native Belizeans are often unwelcome,  negative environmental impact from the influx of passengers on giant ships, etc.) and we are unwilling to let that happen in Toledo.  While voluntourism is just a part of what we do at Cotton Tree Lodge, we have been delighted to see the positive response we have had from guests, the host communities, and SHI. 

     

     

    So what have we learned from what we’ve done so far?

     

    Be realistic, be respectful, and don’t offer services and gifts that aren’t needed.  When guests ask if they can bring school supplies or toys, we suggest items that don’t require batteries or replacement parts.  If guests would like to deliver their donations to a school themselves, we need to gauge whether or that that will be disruptive to a class. 

     

    If you are an established a hotel or tour company looking to incorporate some aspect of voluntourism into your business, look around for non-profits or organizations who are already doing something good in the area and see if you can collaborate.  

     

    Plan the best way for guests to offer long-term assistance and be ready to suggest it.  Many guests will be inspired by the projects they work on and will want to stay involved.  Be ready with information if they want to become long-term donors. 

     

    Never promise or plan anything with a local community unless you are sure you can follow through. 

    Any questions please contact Holly Masek, holly@cottontreelodge.com, 917-439-5192