Radio Guest List — Signature Travel Network Summit in Austin, Texas — October 12, 2019
This week, Eye on Travel is broadcasting from the “Live Music Capital of the World” — Austin, Texas — at the Signature Travel Network’s summit. Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean, on the economic health of the U.S. and discretionary spending on cruising as we enter an election cycle and a time when — historically — many people stop traveling. Peter also addresses this issue with Gary Murphy, Co-owner of AmaWaterways, and Ryan Hansen, President of Bon Voyage Travel. Ignacio Maza, Executive Vice President at the Signature Travel Network, shares his list of the key luxury travel destinations for 2020. Arnie Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of Travel Weekly, discusses the latest incidents of overtourism, and what some countries are doing to minimize it. And Mike Boyd, President of Boyd Aviation Group, stops by with the highlights of his annual aviation forecast. There’s all of this and more as Eye on Travel broadcasts from Austin, Texas.
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Richard Fain, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises, talks about the sustainability of the growing travel economy and how the industry itself has adapted to the changing vacation habits of the consumer. A new generation of travelers has forced companies like Royal Caribbean to craft travel experiences based on choice rather than regimen. In addition, advances in technology have kept these travelers coming back for more. Richard also addresses changes in the company’s safety regulations and how it has dealt with switching from the use of single-use plastic.
Gary Murphy, Co-Owner and Vice President of Sales at AmaWaterways, discusses how his company — which operates river cruise lines in Europe, Asia, and Africa — plans to keep sales up despite a possible decrease in market activity due to current events like the upcoming 2020 election. Improvements to the cruise ships over recent years have contributed to an increase in sales and interest in river cruises among American and European travelers. Lengthening the ship, for example, makes the cabins larger in size and offers a more luxurious experience. In addition to improving the ships themselves, AmaWaterways is also adding more docking ports that offer travelers a richer, cultural experience off the ship and are available not only during peak seasons but also in off-seasons as well. There has been an upturn in multi-generational families that share these cruises together.
Ryan Hansen, President and Chief Operating Officer of Bon Voyage Travel in Tucson, Arizona, talks about how trends in travel typically correlate with economic trends because the nature of the expenses involved with travel are almost always expendable. He also discusses the importance of families experiencing a more immersive form of vacationing together. This involves knowing where to avoid crowded areas and knowing what is the best time of the year to travel. Agencies like Bon Voyage are able to provide that knowledge and offer an experience that goes beyond how much money you’re spending.
Ignacio Maza, Executive Vice President at the Signature Travel Network, speaks on the definition of luxury travel and how it has vastly changed over recent years. Luxury has largely become defined by the individual that experiences it. Ignacio also brings up his company’s list on where to go in 2020, which is a comprehensive list that includes atypical travel destinations in the United States, South America, Africa, and Europe.
Alex Sharpe, President and Chief Executive Officer at the Signature Travel Network, explains how his company operates and how Signature Travel has completely changed the landscape over the last 20 years from travel agent to travel advisor. He expands on how that distinction does more to cater to the individual traveler’s experience. Alex talks about the growing importance of value to the individual’s travel experience and how that has become a priority above other non-compulsory expenses. Cruise lines, hotels, and airlines are doing more now to give customers something valuable, and Signature Travel connects those customers to those specific companies and locations to give them the best possible experiences.
Mike Boyd, President of Boyd Aviation Group, stops by in-person to recap his most recent annual aviation forecast. First up for discussion is the major expansion of airports in China, particularly the Shanghai airport. Peter and Mike talk about gate additions, passenger capacity increases, and air travel infrastructure in China. Mike explains the difficulties of traveling from China to the United States or vice versa. He also discusses the history of airports in China. Peter and Mike also talk about the increase in passenger carrying capacity in modern aircrafts as well as the death of the A380. Mike then shares his projections for the air travel industry.
Arnie Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of Travel Weekly, discusses overtourism, a prominent issue in the travel industry. He details some of the steps that have been taken by various cities around the world to limit the negative impact of excessive tourism. Arnie also explains why tourism has skyrocketed in the last decade. According to him, the main reasons include a globally growing middle class, the rise of social media, and the proliferation of budget airlines. He discusses the damage that excessive tourism can do to locals as well as the financial benefits of tourism that cities can’t ignore.