Monday, June 23, 2014

News Update: UNESCO's New World Heritage Sites, Tauck's Loft-Like Cruise Suites and the A380 Might Come to America

(c) Department of Archaeology, National Museum & Library, Be Be Stupa, Sri Ksetra - Pyu Ancient Cities (Myanmar)

UNESCO Names New World Heritage Sites

CNN - June 22, 2014

Over the weekend, UNESCO added a number of locations to its World Heritage List, including the first-ever site from Myanmar. The Pyu Ancient Cities in Myanmar were added to the list, along with dozens of others, extending it to more than 1,000 cultural and natural treasures. Other sites added include the vineyard landscape of Piedmont in Italy, the Grand Canal in China and the Pergamon and its cultural landscape in Turkey.

#MyTake: The list of World Heritage Sites has grown significantly since it began in 1978, and UNESCO is expected to add more to the list in the following days. This is an indication that more countries are taking the time to protect these cultural sites and acknowledge their value. Not only that, but they hope to use this status to promote themselves as desirable destinations, touting the fact that they have such wonderful, historic and outstanding attractions.

Four Seasons Invests in Adventure Travel

TravelPulse - June 23, 2014

Four Seasons Hotels is a well-known name in the luxury travel market, but it's doing more to cater to younger travelers taking long haul trips and seeking experiential travel. In Asia, the hotel brand has turned to its activities to provide special experiences to travelers, showing they can have luxury and an authentic trip at the same time. The Four Seasons Resort Langkawi in Malaysia features a Mangroves & Eagles Safari that takes guests on a wildlife adventure through a maze of limestone cliffs, rock formations and mangroves. The Four Seasons Resort Kuda Huraa in the Maldives is considered a top surfing destination, and the resort caters to thrill-seekers with its new series of chartered "surfers," which use a seaplane to go from one break to the next so surfers are guaranteed to catch the next wave. The hotel brand also features a number of other tour packages, as well as special adventures for children.

#MyTake: Luxury travel has made a comeback in recent years, even with a somewhat slow economic recovery. People are eager to travel again, but they don't just want to sit on the beach all day at a luxury resort (though that might be nice for some people), they want to experience a destination to its fullest. This is especially true of Millennial travelers, many of which are coming into their own financially and want to treat themselves to something unique and special. It's not just about going to a destination anymore, it's about immersing yourself in the culture and the environment to a greater extent.

Travel Weekly - June 23, 2014

The Tauck travel company christened its newest ship, the Savor, which features loft-like suites in the hard-to-sell lower-deck cabins. The Savor, along with sister ship Inspire (which set sail in April), are part of a new class that ushers in this new suite concept. The cabins feature high ceilings and a raised seating area along windows that can be opened. This is far from the standard lower-deck cabin with just a porthole window. The 130-passenger Savor will sail the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.

#MyTake: Tauck acknowledged that lower-deck cabins are often tougher to sell. Rather than continuing to find new verbiage to promote these cabins, they decided to engineer something more appealing. While upper-deck suites might be more popular, this certainly introduces something different and exciting for people to experience, and travelers are always curious about new features. Not only that, but it allows Tauck to more easily sell these once overlooked cabins.

TSA Increases Traveler Fees

TravelPulse - June 19, 2014

On July 1, 2014, the Transportation Security Administration fees, which are added to airline ticket prices, will increase. The TSA fee will rise from $2.50 for a non-stop flight to $5 for a trip with a layover and a flat rate of $5.60 for each leg of a trip. Now, however, the TSA said it's looking to charge an extra $5.60 fee for each leg of a flight where there's a connection of more than four hours. This basically means the TSA has changed the definition of a round trip, and travelers with super long layovers will be forced to pay a little more. The move is not being taken lightly by the travel industry, and it will take public comment for the next two months.

#MyTake: Aviation security is still a big concern, and there needs to be funding for it, and I don't think many people would argue with that. However, this additional note in the Federal Register is unfair to travelers and to airlines. It might seem like a small fee, but it can add up, and most frequent travelers don't have endless sums of money. At the same time, airlines could be blamed by travelers who are unaware of where the fee actually comes from, but it's the government that's implementing it. This could cause more customer dissatisfaction, unless airlines make it clear in their pricing what fees are for what. And lets face it, most people aren't going to research it or take the time to read every detail, they'll just get angry at the increase in fees.

BusinessWeek - June 23, 2014

Rumor has it that Airbus's A380 superjumbo jet may be making its way stateside. According to Mark Lapidus, the chief executive officer of the aircraft leasing company Amedeo, Delta Air Lines will be the first U.S. carrier to fly the A380. Delta has denied any interest in the plane, saying it doesn't fit the needs or scope of the airline. However, the larger aircraft, which is mostly flown by Middle East, European and Australian airlines, does hold some potential for the U.S., and Lapidus believes it would be a good move for the one of the North American airlines to bite. 

#MyTake: The A380 isn't really suitable for an American fleet, just because it's too big for most of the networks. U.S. airlines bank on less seating, therefore making it easier to charge more for limited spots on frequent routes. The A380 seats 600 people, and that wouldn't work for the U.S. airlines's profit margins. However, the aircraft could make it easier to offer segmented cabin space, which has experienced a gain in interest from travelers, especially global business travelers willing to spend a little more for extra leg room and additional amenities, but not the full amount for first or business class. For now, the rumors will stay just that. But I'll definitely keep an ear to the ground - er - sky on this one.

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