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“The most-respected provider of market data, statistics, analysis and trends on the travel business.”
   
 

About Us

Company Description

Travel Business Analyst is a travel data, consultancy and research company, established in 1987. Its main activity is collecting statistics and facts to monitor travel movements in the Asia Pacific and Europe regions (which by default also includes activity in North America), and the travel companies involved in this activity.
Much of the essence of this information is released monthly in the two editions (Asia Pacific and Europe) of its newsletter, also called Travel Business Analyst. The group also publishes Net Value (marketing travel on the internet), People-in-Travel (tracking travel’s leaders), and ZERO (the travel business and the environment).

 

Editor

Murray BaileyMURRAY BAILEY is Editor/Research Director of Travel Business Analyst. He has also been editor of various periodicals and publications, including the Sourcebook on Travel and Tourism, Asia Pacific’s only comprehensive annual compendium of regional and local-market travel industry statistics, and the International Hotel Industry, a 600-page report of which Bailey was the author. From his current position, Bailey has conducted research and analysis for a number of major organisations in the travel industry, including American Express, Cathay Pacific Airways, the Economist Intelligence Unit, the European Travel Commission, the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the Inter-Continental hotel group, and the World Travel & Tourism Council. Bailey divides his time between France and Hong Kong.

 

We Were Right!

In the process of providing statistical and analytical insight on the travel business, the newsletter has included a number of projections, often as comment, that have turned out to be remarkably accurate. The following is an excerpt from a sales letter:

 

Asia Pacific:

  • At end-2013 we proposed three changes to the businessplan of SAG (Singapore Airlines Group). Our proposal was dismissed by SAG. To summarise: Scoot should not have been established, and Tiger expanded instead; that there was no purpose in having two full-service-airlines SIA and Silk; that Silk should be converted into what we call a low-cost-airline. In November 2016, SAG said Tiger would operate under Scoot’s name starting 2017. In May 2018 SAG announced Silk would be merged into SIA. Our third proposal has not yet been announced.
  • In 2013 we said that All Nippon Airways management had shown no indication that it knew how to manage no-frills-airlines. Firstly it made a mistake with a joint-venture with Air Asia in 2011. At the time, we listed three faults in ANA/AA’s businessplan, and AA acknowledged two of those when it shut down the JV in June 2013. After ANA created Vanilla out of the failed JV, that September we said “why not add a second hub for its Osaka-based Peach rather than creating a second airline?” In March 2018 ANA said it would merge Peach and Vanilla.
  • In 2006 we reported that Macau’s visitor business was too reliant on gambling. In 2011 we said the share of overnight visitors was not increasing, and estimated undated-target of 2-nights length-of-stay was at least five years away. Then it was 1.22 in 2005; in 2014 it was 1.01. In Q1 2015 gambling revenue fell nearly 50%, LoS fell to under 1-day, arrivals fell 4%, and the destination was in trouble.
  • In a December 2013 interview with Singapore Airlines on its strategy, we said its Tiger associate airline was not doing well, and that the SA group should have increased its share in Tiger rather than create another similar airline, Scoot. Less than a year later, after another bad year for the Tiger group, SA increased its share in the Tiger holding company from 40% to 71%.
  • When Air Asia and All Nippon Airways established Air Asia Japan in 2011, we criticised elements of AAJ’s businessplan – choosing Tokyo Narita as its main airport, that ANA was also creating a NFA (no-frills-airline) rival in Osaka, and questioning ANA management’s competence in running an NFA. In June 2013, AA published details of AAJ problems, primarily on two of our three points – Narita and ANA managerial competence.
  • In March 2013, our monthly estimate on outbound travel from China showed the all-2012 total as 82.5mn, up 17%. Three months later, the WTO reported the actual as 83mn!
  • We estimate outbound travel from China on a monthly basis. For all-2011 we estimated growth of 22.8%; official data (available once a year) showed 22.4% growth!
  • Following our questions, WTTC discovered that it had been presenting some of its data in billions instead of millions. Readers of the Travel Business Analyst newsletter have the corrected data. Do you?
  • Through 2011, we constantly reported that seat factors on Air Asia X routes to Europe were too low for its business model – despite AAX statements that the routes were doing well. In January 2012, AAX said the routes would be stopped.
  • In 2011, IATA responded to our queries on travel agency locations, confirming data for many destinations was wrong – some for as long as 10 years. Readers of the Travel Business Analyst newsletter have the corrected data. Do you?
  • In 2007 we questioned new airline Viva Macau’s business plan, including the viability of its aircraft type (too-large B767), and two of its three launch routes. The airline stopped flying in March 2010.
  • In July 2007 we said “Initially, we thought Oasis’ business plan was sound (albeit because it was partly our proposal). After that, the Oasis message was mixed, routing was changed, and the product mix became complex. We think this plan will not work.” The airline stopped flying in April 2008.
  • In February 2006, we said traffic results at Australian, a Qantas subsidiary, “indicate trouble...at this rate, will the airline shut down before [July]?" In April 2006, Qantas announced the airline would be closed from that July.
  • In June 2004 we said that the Valuair experiment would not last another year - based on what we saw as a misguided business plan. In February 2005 we said Jetstar Asia was not generating enough traffic, after having earlier disputed part-owner Qantas claims that it knew how to run a no-frills-airline. In July 2005 the two Singapore-based business failures merged. In September 2006 we presumed Qantas ” will eventually, probably soon, buy at least majority-if-not-full control of Jetstar Asia”. In February 2007, Qantas applied to take over the owning company of the two airlines.
  • In July 2004 we said we would be surprised if Backpackers Express, due to start flying Europe-Asia-Australia end-2004, actually took off - based on its awkward business, operational, and market plans. We are still waiting.
  • Based on arrival data, and after SARS, we forecast outbound travel from China in 2003 would be 20mn – much higher than other forecasters. The actual total was 20.2mn!
  • In 2001 we said Langham Hotels would take over its hotels as management contracts expired - despite company denials. In 2003 and 2004 it announced this would happen for the Langham Hilton (London), Meridien (Boston) and Sheratons in Auckland and Melbourne
  • In 2001, pre-9/11, we said that Boeing’s proposed Sonic Cruiser - which we dubbed the '7whoosh7' - “would be a flop” if the company decided to build it, which we guessed “90:10 against”. The company shelved it in 2003.
  • In 1999 we said Frankfurt Airport’s 25-year contract to manage an international terminal at Manila airport “will not last that long”. FA pulled out in 2002.
  • We highlighted a series of flaws in data from IATA: statistics for Chinese airlines in IATA’s respected WATS publication; travel agency BSP statistics for Europe in 2000; ATAG’s Asia Pacific ‘Constraints’ review. We suggested a rejection of IATA’s dot.travel application - and which was subsequently rejected, twice. (We eventually modified our position to one of qualified support.)
  • In 2000 we speculated that Swissair would reconsider its “disastrous” expansion policy, particularly in France and Belgium. In 2001, the airline said it planned to do just that – but that did not stop eventual failure.
  • In 1999 we expected there would be “…some transaction involving Rafael Hotels” before end-year. In April 2000, Mandarin Oriental bought the company.
  • In 1997 we said that Lauda Air loads and yields were insufficient to support its Vienna-Hong Kong route. In 1999, it dropped the route.
  • In 1997, we said Airbus would pull out of its 100-seat aircraft venture in China. In summer 1998, Airbus closed the program.
  • In 1996, we said the alliance between Inter-Continental Hotels and Federal Hotels would not work. It was abandoned the following year.
  • In 1992, we said Hong Kong airport’s traffic projections were wrong because they excluded China. In 1996, figures were changed as China was included…and our traffic projections were right.
  • In 1998, we said the foreign investor would pull out of Myanmar Airways International because they lacked the marketing expertise needed in a downturn. The company pulled out in October.
  • In 1997, we forecast a visitor downturn in Hong Kong from June - based on our Big Event Blues theory. The fall started that month. In July 1998, we predicted a recovery from that month - on the basis of the financial world’s Dead Cat Bounce theory. The upturn started that month.

 

Europe:

  • In December 2014 we said the businessplan of Wow (an airline) “will not work...we cannot see Wow attracting enough travellers to get through the summer. It will shut down”. In November 2018 its rival Icelandair planned to take over Wow’s assets.
  • In April 2018 we speculated that before end-year Rezidor Hotels would vanish into its parent Radisson Hotels. Just two weeks later, Rezidor announced it was changing its name to Radisson Hospitality AB – essentially the same as we forecast.
  • In 2015, we said there is no clear future for Niki and no place in the Etihad-driven strategy. We presumed it would be shut down, sold, or changed. At end-2016, Etihad merged it into a new venture with TUI’s airline. It was sold in 2018.
  • In 2015, we formalised our 7-year strategy for bigger airline groups. One section proposed expanding Hop, an Air France subsidiary, into a low-cost subsidiary to operate certain flights (short medium long) instead of AF and its associate KLM. In November 2016, the AF-KLM group said it planned to establish a low-cost subsidiary (later named Joon) in 2017 to operate certain Asia and Atlantic flights instead of the two.
  • In April 2016, it was reported that Alitalia was in talks to buy 49% of Air Malta. We said it would not happen, not least because Alitalia and some of its bank owners had serious financial problems. In October 2016, it was announced that the sale would not take place.
  • Frequently, since 2007, we had been saying that Air Berlin’s businessmodel was wrong, suggesting simplification. In September 2016, the airline announced it was downsizing (about 40%), moving some of its leisure operations into a new company, and more, to change what it called its “complicated business model”. (We noted that there was still more to do, however. In 2017, the airline stopped operating.)
  • In October 2014 we said Silvano Cassano’s task as Alitalia’s new CEO seemed hopeless unless he could cut half its staff. But we thought owners would demand improvement nonetheless, and make changes if they did not happen, and so we said “Cassano will not be with the company for more than two years”. He left in September 2015.
  • In October 2013, we explained where Ryanair’s strategy was wrong. In essence, the difference between its summer and winter traffic was too great – causing some additional operational costs. In early-2014 Ryanair announced a change in strategy. In November 2014 its seat sales grew 22%, and in December 20% - stunning growth for an airline that is Europe’s largest.
  • In June 2012 we said Air France needed to merge its regional operations (actually comprising five airlines) into one. In August the airline said it would merge three of them into one. The name was Hop – our report suggested Air Blue or Fly Blue.
  • In 2011, IATA responded to our queries on travel agency locations, confirming data for many destinations was wrong – some for as long as 10 years. Readers of the Travel Business Analyst newsletter have the corrected data. Do you?
  • Following our questions, WTTC discovered that it had been presenting some of its data in billions instead of millions. Readers of the Travel Business Analyst newsletter have the corrected data. Do you?
  • Through 2011, we constantly reported that seat factors on Air Asia X routes to Europe were too low for its business model – despite AAX statements that the routes were doing well. In January 2012, AAX announced it was closing the routes.
  • At the start of 2010, we estimated the share of Easyjet passengers who were not UK-originating was 55%. The airline later reported the figure as 54%.
  • In November 2005, we listed the faults with the business plan of the airline Eos, concluding “Eos will not survive”. The airline stopped flying in April 2008.
  • At the start of 2007, we said Ryanair probably needed two more years before matching what Southwest did in the US in 2006 – and become the largest airline in Europe in terms of seats sold. It happened in 2008. We said Easyjet would overtake British Airways’ seat sales total in 2007. It stormed past its UK rival that year.
  • In 2007, Iberia said even with new high-speed rail competition it still hoped to maintain domestic traffic levels in 2008. We disagreed, saying its seat sales could fall 25%. Iberia no longer releases passenger numbers, but they appear to have fallen 22%.
  • We criticised Eurotunnel for a poor business plan, despite its excellent product, over more than two years. In August 2004 we asked why shareholders could not get management change; in December when heads would roll; and in February 2005 why a 75% decline in stock price over five years had not prompted change. In June 2005, the CEO resigned.
  • In July 2004 we said we would be surprised if Backpackers Express, due to start flying Europe-Asia-Australia end-2004, actually took off - based on its awkward business, operational, and market plans. We are still waiting.
  • In 2003, we called the restructure of Visit Britain an “extraordinary strategic mistake” but expected “two years of struggle to try and make it work” before abandoning it. However, the awareness came earlier than we expected, with another restructure in 2004.
  • In late 2003, we said of Europe’s two no-frills darlings - Easyjet’s growth was too slow, and Ryanair’s loads were slipping too much. In 2004, Easyjet said it needed to “consolidate”, and Ryanair announced a profit warning.
  • In 2001, pre-9/11, we said that Boeing’s proposed Sonic Cruiser - which we dubbed the '7whoosh7' - “would be a flop” if the company decided to build it, which we guessed “90:10 against”. The company shelved it in 2003.
  • When Thomas Cook and British Airways announced their plan to merge their holiday operations in 2001, we said a deal seemed unlikely. It went ahead, but was then broken up in 2002.
  • In 2001, we said Malmaison was “beginning to look a failure” for its part owner, Rezidor Hotels. The brand was sold in 2002.
  • In 2002 we said the Qualiflyer airline alliance was “almost certain to collapse”. It closed at the end of the year.
  • In 2002 we said Lufthansa would change its policy and launch a low-fare response to competition. That summer Lufthansa announced its partly-owned Germanwings low-fare airline.
  • We highlighted a series of flaws in data from IATA: statistics for Chinese airlines in IATA’s respected WATS publication; travel agency BSP statistics for Europe in 2000; ATAG’s Asia Pacific ‘Constraints’ review. We suggested a rejection of IATA’s dot.travel application - and which was subsequently rejected, twice. (We eventually modified our position to one of qualified support.)
  • In 2001, we said Scandic Hotels would likely be sold before the end of the year. Hilton’s offer was made public in April.
  • In 2000 we speculated that Swissair would reconsider its “disastrous” expansion policy, particularly in France and Belgium. In 2001, the airline said it planned to do just that – but that did not stop eventual failure.
  • In 1998 we said that the twin move of Utell’s metamorphism into Rezsolutions and placing its hotels with Pegasus “threatens the continued existence of Rezsolutions.” In 1999, Pegasus bought Rezsolutions.
  • In 1998, we said Disney’s venture with cruises would last two years. In 1999, it said it would stay with its two existing ships rather than the planned ten.
  • In 1998, we queried some of the statistics in the annual report of the European Travel Commission. In 1999, that section was omitted from that year's ETC report.
  • In 1998, we forecast that Spain would overtake the UK that year in having the largest number of travel agencies in Europe. Figures the next year showed that this did happen in 1998.
  • In 1997, we said Airbus would pull out of its 100-seat aircraft venture in China. In 1998, Airbus closed the program.

 

People-in-Travel:

  • In December 2014, when Etihad appointed a new CEO for its Air Berlin subsidiary, Wolfgang Prock-Schauer took back his earlier job at AB. But we thought in the meantime, with Etihad’s involvement, it had become a non-job and so we asked “Does this mean WPS will leave AB soon?” He took a job with another airline six months later.
  • In October 2014 we said Silvano Cassano’s task as Alitalia’s new CEO seemed hopeless unless he could cut half its staff. But we thought owners would demand improvement nonetheless, and make changes if they did not happen, and so we said “Cassano will not be with the company for more than two years”. He left in September 2015.
  • In 2008, Bjorn Gullaksen, new head of Regent Hotels, kept his old job at Carlson Hotels. We reckoned the CEO post of Regent was a fulltime job, and so wondered “does this mean Carlson is looking sell Regent?”. In April 2010, Carlson sold the company it bought in 1996.
  • In August 2007, we said we expected Richard Hartman would not stay long in his retirement from InterContinental; “we expect him to quickly take another senior role in the hotel business”. In April 2008 he joined Millennium & Copthorne as CEO.
  • In May 2007, after Robert Cotter was named head of Kerzner International, we said John Kuhlman, head of its One&Only Resorts, had similar skills, and “that could mean change in the near future”. Kuhlman left before year-end.
  • In March 2000, we said Rod Eddington was our only choice to take over as head of British Airways. The following month, his appointment was announced.

 

But not only in market analysis:

 

  • In October 2013 we said the name of the JATA Tabihaku was wrong. At the start of 2014, the name was changed. Not to what we suggested, however, but to JATA Tourism Expo Japan.

  • In 2001 we ran our first 5-year aggregate of meetings numbers (over 1997-2001) to remove annual fluctuations – inspired by commentators in that sector of the travel business. In 2013 ICCA started to do the same.

  • In 2008, we said NH Hotels’ new-brandname 'EdeNH' would not work because it was unpronounceable, in Spanish or English. In 2009 it dropped the name. Conversely, we thought its new one, 'NHow', was among the best.

  • In 2007, we provided a report on the travel business for TBWA as part of its bid for the advertising account of Singapore Airlines. TBWA won the SIA account.

  • In 2006 we said Hilton’s new sub-brand 'Waldorf=Astoria' was silly, symbolically wrong, and would go. In 2009, the name was changed to the dull-but-at-least-sensible 'The Waldorf Astoria Collection'.
  • In March 2005, we said that Easycruise’s trademark orange colour was too-strong-so-wrong for a cruise liner – “acceptable for a short Easyjet flight, but not for a week’s cruise”. In July 2006, the company announced plans to soften the colour on its ship.

 


Conclusion:

We were right in these cases, and in others, but there is nothing special about these forecasts. They require only a professional, dispassionate (but sometimes passionate), and constant market watch - to look beyond today’s figures and events to see what they tell us about tomorrow.

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