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The first international data report for the student group travel industry provides key benchmarks for recovery

Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA), the international professional trade association promoting student and youth travel, and BONARD, an independent market research company, have just released their Student Travel Business Barometer 2019 Annual Report. This is the first-ever international report to gather quantitative data for the student group travel market, and provides important benchmarking for measuring…

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The first international data report for the student group travel industry provides key benchmarks for recovery

Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA), the international professional trade association promoting student and youth travel, and BONARD, an independent market research company, have just released their Student Travel Business Barometer 2019 Annual Report. This is the first-ever international report to gather quantitative data for the student group travel market, and provides important benchmarking for measuring growth in the recovery following the outbreak of COVID-19. Carylann Assante, SYTA CEO, noted that the idea behind this landmark industry study was to establish a data platform for the global student group travel industry. This segment of the tourism industry lacks recognition, particularly at the government level where funding and recovery aid decisions are made, due to absence of reliable measurement. The data gathered from 2019 measured three main performance indicators: number of students traveling, average trip duration and average group size. “Our 2019 Business Barometer shows that the student and youth group travel industry is a significant industry segment that was on course to achieve its greatest year ever, prior to the outbreak of COVID-19,” said Assante. “The pandemic brought that growth to a screeching halt, but the great value in our Business Barometer is that we now have a benchmark of real data that we can use to measure growth as we hopefully move into recovery phase in late 2020, 2021 and beyond.” The initiative was joined by 149 student tour operators from 26 countries across the world, which included both SYTA members and non-members. Overall, responding businesses represented 1.8 million traveling students. According to Patrik Pavlacic, Head of Research at BONARD, this gave the project a strong voice internationally. The study was conducted quarterly, although the interruption of business due to the coronavirus necessitated a merged survey for Q3 and Q4.Most recent data points to a healthy and growing sector pre-COVID-19In line with a growing appetite among parents to invest in the education of their children, the majority of student tour operators noted an increase in demand for student travel in 2019. Of all quarters, Q2 recorded the highest number of respondents (65%) reporting a year-on-year increase in the number of students traveling domestically. Q4 and Q1 also performed strongly, with 60% and 54% of business reporting growth in customer volume. Regarding international trips, the biggest number of operators that saw an increase in student numbers was recorded in Q3 (56%), with Q2 (52%) and Q1 (46%) following closely.“We hope that these numbers predict a good sign for recovery later this year and into 2021,” said Assante. “If we can count on the strength of Q1, Q2 and Q4 in 2019, we are optimistic that we may be able to see a rebound in business in Q4 of 2020 and Q1 and Q2 of 2021. Of course the majority of our business is derived from school trips, so school openings around the world will be the real determinant of our recovery.” The research also mapped the global student tour operator landscape. Businesses catering to no more than 10,000 students travelling domestically constituted two thirds of the market. In contrast, two thirds of STOs involved in international travel sent abroad up to 1,000 students. Seasonality and student preferences exploredSpring represents the most travel-heavy season both domestically and internationally, with May significantly leading in student volume. On average, a tour operator carried 2,758 students as part of a domestic trip and 1,157 students traveling abroad.On the other hand, May trip durations were shorter compared to other months. Students took the longest trips in January and July; an average of 5.7 and 6.9 days respectively for domestic travels, and 10.9 and 10.3 days respectively for cross-border trips.In terms of group size, the biggest groups embarked on domestic trips in spring and autumn (between 57 and 61 students per group), while international trips saw the biggest groups in March (43) and February (39).Within their previous research, The Student Travel Digest, SYTA and BONARD gathered considerable evidence on the impact of travel on young people’s lives. Thus it was not surprising to see trips with an educational component holding sway in domestic travel. Together with performance arts/music programs, these trip types accounted for more than 60% of all student travelers. However, with international travel, the inclination towards educational trips in Q1 and Q2 was replaced by school and college tours in Q3 and community service and volunteering programs in Q4.Critical global issues of concern in 2019 were mappedThe Business Barometer also explored the sentiment of student tour operators on three key issues: Health and safety, the role of technology in business and sustainability.Student travel customers continued to place cost and content aspects of their trip as their top priorities in 2019, however safety was growing as a concern. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, safety is expected to emerge as the top global concern. Prior to the pandemic 46% of responding SYTA members claimed to be prepared for critical situations, however 59% of non-member organizations already felt challenged by safety concerns and risk management requirements.All student tour operators make use of mobile applications and social media to communicate with schools and parents, however a majority of the operators surveyed did not use GPS devices to track students during their trips. And, finally, none of the operators recorded high demand from customers for sustainable elements in group travel and in fact found reluctance by customers to bear higher costs to pay for sustainable features in their itineraries. “We anticipate that we may find some striking differences in the attitudes of operators and their customers to all of these issues in 2020 and beyond,” said Assante. “Health and safety will be #1 on each operator’s list of priorities for certain, and we expect both technology and sustainability to play a far greater role as trip planning transforms in a post-COVID student travel industry.”

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ATPCO launches new rich content format: Structured UPAs

DULLES, VA – ATPCO launched a new format of Routehappy Rich Content: Structured UPAs (Universal Product Attributes). With the introduction of Structured UPAs, airlines and channels now have greater flexibility in how they display essential retailing content using more comparable, concise, and sortable data that can be presented to emphasize objective content over images.UPAs were…

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ATPCO launches new rich content format: Structured UPAs

DULLES, VA – ATPCO launched a new format of Routehappy Rich Content: Structured UPAs (Universal Product Attributes). With the introduction of Structured UPAs, airlines and channels now have greater flexibility in how they display essential retailing content using more comparable, concise, and sortable data that can be presented to emphasize objective content over images.UPAs were originally created to introduce visual content in flight shopping displays, and have since been adopted by dozens of channels worldwide. Given the evolving needs of travelers amid the pandemic and the immediate success of Reassurance UPAs, ATPCO found – based on consistent feedback from its industry partners, including Serko and Expedia Group’s Brand Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Cheaptickets, Hotels.com, eBookers, and Wotif – that the messaging component of UPAs are equally as valuable to flight shoppers as the visual component of UPAs. This feedback prompted the introduction of Structured UPAs as a way to deliver a more standardized version of data that channels can adapt to meet their customers’ need for information that can be scanned quickly during flight shopping to help with the decision-making process.Structured UPAs consist of an icon, a headline, and a description, and channels can choose to integrate all or some of these attributes. Structured UPAs also have a primary field that supports multiple standardized data inputs (e.g., yes/no) that enable sales channels to craft the messaging according to the data but using their own channel voice as desired. This new rich content format is currently available for over 300 airlines and includes five objective, standardized topics:Cleaning: whether airlines are using disinfectants to clean aircraft and how often, and if that information is availableMasks: whether there is a mask or face covering requirement; specifying if a medical-grade mask is requiredTemperature check: whether there is a pre-flight temperature check requirementBlocked seats: whether an airline is blocking adjacent or middle seats, or if only some seats are blockedCapacity: whether an airline is limiting the capacity on flights to ensure physical distancingStructured UPAs will initially focus on reassurance topics and will expand in the future to meet market needs and flight shopper demand for information. Structured UPAs will be delivered via the Routehappy API and can be targeted at a granular level to focus on the airline and cabin, book-by dates, origin and destination, and more.“The crisis reinforced how critical UPAs are in giving travelers the information they need to feel safe and protected when they fly. Now our airline and channel partners are relying on ATPCO to deliver this content in more flexible ways,” said Jonathan Savitch, Chief Commercial Officer at ATPCO. “Visuals are still important as they enable consumers to better understand, at the time of booking, the airline experience they will receive. But after many hours of consultation with thought-leading airlines and channels, we realized they need more options, including the ability to filter and sort based on key health information.” Expedia Group, which will be one of the first channels to integrate the new rich content format, worked hand-in-hand with ATPCO to quickly bring this functionality to market. “Right now, it is so important that travelers have the cleanliness and safety information they need when considering travel, particularly air travel. Each situation is different, and this structured content gives us the flexibility to tailor, localize, and test messaging to help travelers make more informed decisions,” said Michael Gulmann, Senior Vice President of Transportation, Expedia Group. “We are really excited by the partnership and customer-centric focus of ATPCO in working together to develop this highly relevant content. Structured UPAs enable travelers to more easily compare policies across airlines in a consistent and concise way so we can offer a simplified shopping experience while highlighting critical information.”   “We’ve seen an increase in conversions for those channels that integrated Reassurance UPAs and anticipate a similar impact for our new Structured UPA,” explains Savitch. “One channel has seen a 4% conversion improvement by adding ATPCO’s Reassurance UPA content. This highlights that when the shopping experience is adapted to drive awareness of flexible airline change policies and safety measures, it can impact the bottom line.”

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GribbonBerry appointed PR for BodyHoliday, St. Lucia

BodyHoliday, multiple award-winning wellness resort in St. Lucia, has appointed boutique PR agency GribbonBerry to handle its communications in the UK and Ireland, as it reopens on 1st October, during a very challenging year for the global travel industry.  The resort was the very first overseas destination spa over 30 years ago and continues to lead…

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GribbonBerry appointed PR for BodyHoliday, St. Lucia

BodyHoliday, multiple award-winning wellness resort in St. Lucia, has appointed boutique PR agency GribbonBerry to handle its communications in the UK and Ireland, as it reopens on 1st October, during a very challenging year for the global travel industry.  The resort was the very first overseas destination spa over 30 years ago and continues to lead as pioneers in this field. There has never been a more important time to prioritise health and wellbeing than in 2020. BodyHoliday’s approach to wellness is so comprehensive that holidays here have the potential to change lives. There is a 33-treatment room wellness centre, offering everything from medically-backed preventative therapies, through to Ayurveda, meditation, weight-loss programmes and pampering treatments. The range of activities, including training with Olympic athletes, would keep guests busy from dawn until dusk, if they so choose. Holidays at BodyHoliday are designed by guests with personalisation taken to another level – it can be a haven of serenity or a hive of activity.  

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IATA urges alternatives to quarantines in US

GENEVA – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressed strong concern over the continued existence of arrival quarantine regimes imposed by state governments in the United States, including New York and Hawaii. IATA urged implementation of pre-departure COVID-19 testing regimes so that states can eliminate quarantine requirements.“Mandatory arrival quarantines for air travelers have the same…

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IATA urges alternatives to quarantines in US

GENEVA – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressed strong concern over the continued existence of arrival quarantine regimes imposed by state governments in the United States, including New York and Hawaii. IATA urged implementation of pre-departure COVID-19 testing regimes so that states can eliminate quarantine requirements.“Mandatory arrival quarantines for air travelers have the same effect as outright border closures. There are better ways to protect citizens during the COVID-19 crisis. Instead of implementing job-destroying arrival quarantines, states should be encouraging the federal government to work with other governments to implement pre-departure testing. This will keep people safe and address the vital need to jumpstart struggling local economies and protect jobs that rely on out-of-state and international visitors”, said Peter Cerdá, IATA’s Regional Vice President for The Americas.Airlines are taking the lead in working to replace quarantines with measures, such as pre-departure testing being put in place on some routes and at some airports, most notably for Hawaii-bound travelers from US West Coast gateway cities. These and other airline-led testing programs will provide valuable experience while the numbers of travelers are still low, so that testing can be efficiently ramped-up as demand returns.Passengers also support testing over quarantines. According to our latest survey of recent travelers, 64% of US travelers surveyed agreed that quarantine is unnecessary if a person tests negative for COVID-19. Eighty percent were willing to take a pre-departure COVID test. And 56% believe that COVID-19 is sufficiently controlled in the US to open up to international visitors.Establishing internationally agreed pre-departure testing is the key to unlocking global connectivity, stimulating battered economies, and giving hope to the 10% of the global workforce whose livelihoods depend on travel and tourism.

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