A brief Google search reveals there is no clear definition of what is “luxury travel.” Nevertheless, Travel Leaders Group (self-described as one of North America’s leading travel companies) says those seeking the luxury experiences are eyeing Italy, as well as European cruises.
Its latest survey of travel agents reveals:
Among the top destinations for luxury travel in the coming 12 months, Italy leads the way, followed by European river cruises, Mediterranean cruises and the United States, respectively.
In addition, 92.6% of the agent experts surveyed state that their luxury travel bookings are higher than or on par with this time last year, a marked increase from the 84% of agents last year.
Ireland made it into the top five this year, and the upwardly-trending Iceland came in at number 10. Jamaica, South Africa and New Zealand were also among the top 15 destinations affluent clientele are seeking for vacations, according to Travel Leaders Group’s luxury travel agents.
Just more than 34% of agents said that Italy is the top vacation spot for their luxury travelers. River cruises in Europe are the second-most favorite destination for luxury travelers, with 22% of the agents saying their clients are booking or inquiring about this option.
“River cruises are the best option for seeing Italy or other parts of Europe, especially for active and adventure clients who also want to feel pampered. From the moment they step on board, the crew already knows their name. There are also bikes and kayaks available for those who want an immersive experience,” said Missy Skoog, a luxury travel specialist in Blaine, Minnesota. “Clients who are also seeking fine dining experiences and river cruises have some of the top most skilled chefs. Additionally, the suites are large, there is butler service and one can take excursions to several small villages and cities without needing to unpack over and over.”
Third-place Mediterranean cruises are also popular with luxury clients, with 18% of the agents saying their clients are booking or inquiring about this option.
The world’s been holding its breath … the iPhone 6 has arrived.
At this point, for me at least, nothing is shocking anymore. Nothing is so new that I cannot contain myself and I MUST own the new iPhone immediately!
According to a recent article in Forbes, this will be Apple’s most challenging launch. Why? Because for once, Apple is actually late to a trend. Last week the rumors of an extra-large iPhone were confirmed when Apple announced the new design for the 6. Apparently, the latest trend in smartphones is to make them “phablet” size. This word was just recently added to my vocabulary, and the best way to define it is as what would happen if a smartphone and a tablet had a baby — a phablet.
This particular smartphone design has proven to be most successful in developing nations because it is small enough to be a phone, yet large enough to function much like a tablet for watching videos and other such activities.
The Forbes article gives some statistics, “Over 70% of Internet users in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, 47% in Saudi Arabia and 44% in India use their smartphones to watch online video.”
I understand and appreciate the many benefits of this phablet phenomenon, but for me, I think I’ll stick with my pocket-sized iPhone 5.
Paige Ferise, a sophomore at Butler University, is interning in the Indiana Chamber communications department this summer.
The economic engines of the BRICS (that's South Africa added to Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries are slowing down a bit, according to analysts from Kiplinger. Of course, there is still growth expected in each of the countries.
(By the way, our latest BizVoice magazine features a story on international business but skips the BRIC contingent. South Africa is included in a much larger look at business prospects in all of Africa. Check it out online or in ourinteractive version).
Back to the BRICS, here's what Kiplinger has to say:
Brazil: 2% growth this year and not much more in 2014, partially due to reduced exports to China and continued union protests
Russia: About 2.5% this year, maybe 3.5% next. A $14 billion investment in infrastructure and small business lending will help, but hostile climate toward overseas capital is a long-term problem
India: 5%, a drop from the 8% annual growth for much of the past decade. High inflation (10%) and decreases in investment and savings rates are troublesome
China: 7% this year and slightly more in 2014. Wage increases will make it difficult to maintain massive government investment
South Africa: 2%, a drop from 2.5% in 2012, with a similar outlook for 2014
The year 2020 is creeping closer. But if you’re projecting economic forecasts and demographics for eight years from now, it seems like a lifetime away.
Neverthless, the fearless prognosticators at Kiplinger (the authors of weekly management decision-making letters and various other publications and products) consistently weigh in on future conditions. These are a few of their recent insights, in separate reports:
Don’t be shocked if inflation doubles, from 2% this year to 4% or a bit more by 2020. Higher interest rates will mean pricier mortages, about 8% compared to 4% now for a 30-year fixed rate loan. The homeownership rate will settle around 66%, higher than now but shy of the peak of 69% in 2006.
By 2020, health care will account for nearly one in nine U.S. jobs, adding more than 4 million jobs in the decade. Home health aides will be the fastest growth segment, but there will also be rising demand for registered nurses, physicians and surgeons.
Consumer spending in Africa will double by 2020 with the overall economy growing by 5% a year. Joining South Africa as growth hot spots will be Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya. Others to watch: Ghana, Tunisia and Botswana (with plenty of minerals and a stable government).
Staying global and extending the time out five more years (to 2025) will result in more megacities. Projected to have 20 million people within its borders by that time (no city today has reached that level) are Mexico City; Tokyo; Shanghai; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and three Indian cities … Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. New York is listed as a possible ninth. Seven more Chinese cities will top 10 million each, according to the forecasters.
We might not remember to pull this or other predictions out eight years from now, but if we do I imagine the experts will be on target more than a few times.
Site Selection magazine is well known for its tracking of business projects and rankings of economic activity. One of its newest projects (in its fourth year) is Best to Invest ratings. Half of the evaluation is based on its comprehensive database of new and expanded facilities, with the other 50% an analysis of business environment, business risks, foreign direct investment and infrastructure.
Here are top countries in five global regions. The metro rankings in these regions are based on similar factors as above, but with a slightly different weighting formula.
Top five countries: Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria and (tie) Switzerland and Italy. Top five metros: Dublin, Ireland; Frankfurt, Germany; Edinburgh, Scotland; Birmingham, England; and (tie) Belfast, Northern Ireland and Paris, France.
Countries: Hungary, Poland, Slovak Republic and (tie) Estonia and Czech Republic. Metros: Budapest, Hungary; Moscow, Russia; Bucharest, Romania; Prague, Czech Republic; and Warsaw, Poland.
Countries: Singapore, Australia, (tie) Malaysia and South Korea, Vietnam. Metros (first three in China and last two in India): (tie) Beijing and Shanghai; (tie) Chongqing and Chennai; and Bangalore.
Africa and the Middle East
Countries: South Africa, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Metros: Port Elizabeth, South Africa; (tie) Nairobi, Kenya; Cairo, Egypt; and Kinsasha, Congo; and Casablanca, Morocco.
Countries: Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile and Argentina. Metros: Sao Paulo, Brazil; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Mexico City, Mexico; (tie) Guadalajara, Mexico and Monterrey, Mexico.
A weekend-plus of reading left me with a few business-related nuggets to share:
According to one respected analysis, 38 state economies are growing. Seven (Wyoming, New Mexico, Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland, West Virginia and Rhode Island) are expected to turn around soon; two (Maine and Mississippi) should reach that point early next year; and three (Nevada, Michigan and Georgia) are still in the waiting game.
Twenty years ago, employee performance pay (bonuses, incentives, stock options, etc.) accounted for less than 4% of total payrollls; today, that number is at 12% and growing.
Cell phone applications are all the rage, with a new one intended to help avoid rage on the road. It will assist with finding the nearest E85, biodiesel, hydrogen or other fuel station, along with where you can charge up your electric vehicle.
Within 20 years or so, four countries (China, India, South Africa and Brazil) will account for 40% of the world’s water use.
California is not expected to gain any additional seats in the House of Representatives — marking the first time that will have happened since the state joined the union in 1850.
A simple retail sales greeting chance may make a big difference. Instead of “Can I help you?” and getting, “No, thanks, I’m just looking,” as a response, try “Hello. What brings you into the store today?”
Pointing out problems within an organization is OK unless it develops into a culture of complaints. One way to keep the whining under control is to require that all complaints be accompanied by at least one proposed solution. This will force people to take a closer look at the problem, and often they’ll realize it’s not that big of an issue after all. Or they may have a legitimate complaint and now they are focused on solutions instead of just problems.
The once-required white page phone directories are becoming a thing of the past. In three states (Florida, Oklahoma and Ohio) where distribution is by request only, just 2% of phone users ask for a copy. Savings in paper and energy costs could be substantial.
If tax rates can in fact be said to influence where companies locate and invest, the U.S. has a problem. As our economy becomes increasingly global our combined (federal and provincial/state) income tax rate is higher than every other country in the world, except Japan. Both presidential candidates have recognized the need to do something. Sen. John McCain proposes a significant reduction of the current 35% federal rate to 25%. Although coupled with other proposals and not nearly as definite or assertive, Sen. Barack Obama also indicated he is open to lowering the rates.
The U.S. can’t afford to ignore what most other industrialized countries have already figured out: the corporate income tax rates affect investment. This year China dropped its rate from 33% to 25%; and Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea, which already had much lower rates than the U.S., dropped theirs even more. And it is not just in Asia. The adjustments swept Europe with Germany, Italy, the U.K. and Spain all making rate reductions. It is truly a global thing. Other countries that are part of the wave of cuts: Turkey, Bulgaria, Israel, South Africa and Colombia.
So with so much talk of change in other contexts, it is important to point out that it is also time for a change to our corporate tax rate. A full listing of the corporate rates in nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, along with other revealing information on this subject is available from the Tax Foundation.