From the Marketplace Datebook, here's an extended look at what's coming up the week of May 5, 2014:
We ease into the week with Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Did you know that more beer is sold for Cinco de Mayo than for the Super Bowl?
On Tuesday, the Commerce Department reports on international trade for March.
The series finale of the TV show "Friends" aired on May 6, 2004.
Also, if you see someone in need of directions or a restaurant recommendation, help 'em out. It's National Tourist Appreciation Day.
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its monthly consumer credit report.
On May 7, 1824, in Vienna, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony premiered.
Let's get back to tourism for a sec. On Thursday, a hearing in the Senate looks at a plan to attract 100 million international visitors annually by the end of 2021.
On Friday, the Commerce Department reports on wholesale inventories and sales for March.
And on May 9, 1961, then FCC chairman Newton Minow referred to television as a vast wasteland. (Talk about a wasteland, it's been an entire decade since "Friends" was on the air.)
Applicants line up to speak to prospective employers at a job fair on June 11, 2012 in New York City.
The April 2014 jobs report from the Department of Labor shows much stronger employment growth than economists expected, and a significantly lower unemployment rate. The unemployment rate fell 0.4 percent to 6.3 percent in April.
Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, or Arizona? There can be only one home for the Gigafactory. Or possibly two... if two are built. The Gigafactory is a massive battery plant, built by the electric car maker Tesla, that will take up to 1,000 acres and will include its own on-site wind and solar energy plants. Tesla has narrowed down its choice of location to four states, but rather than pick one now, it will prepare to build in two or three (or potentially all four), CEO Elon Musk announced on Wednesday.
Technically, Cinco de Mayo falls on a Monday this year. But beer companies want people to get an early start, celebrating over the weekend. But celebrating what, exactly? What does Cinco de Mayo mean for marketers and consumers?Marketplace Morning Report for Friday May 2, 2014by David BrancaccioPodcast Title 5-2-14 Mid-day Update - Strong jobs report undercut by shrinking labor forceStory Type BlogSyndication PMPApp Respond No
Jay Johnson is a travel agent to the stars ... or at least to sub-orbit.
He's what Virgin Galactic calls an ASA or "accredited space agent." That means Johnson is authorized to sell tickets to Virgin Galactic's planned space tourism experience.
The company plans to send six passengers at a time to suborbital space in its vehicle dubbed SpaceshipTwo.
Once there, tourists will float weightlessly for several minutes before returning to Earth.
"It's the ultimate icebreaker," Johnson says of his job. "I can’t walk into a room anywhere without bringing it up. It’s not just about selling the tickets; it’s just fun to talk about."
Johnson also runs Coastline Travel Advisors, a luxury travel business based in Garden Grove. He was selected, along with around 100 other travel agents, to help sell seats for Virgin Galactic.
They were educated on the basics of space travel, from flight technology to zero gravity conditions.
Over the last seven years, Johnson has sold eight tickets. It may not sound like a lot, but each seat sells for $250,000.
Finding buyers hasn’t always been easy.
“In the early stages, ... we had no clue who the clients would be,” says Lynda Turley Garrett, an ASA in the Bay Area.
She’s tried marketing at science-themed events, travel expos, museums, even at luxury car dealers.
It’s not like selling other adventure vacations, she says, in part because Virgin doesn’t even have an official launch date. The company says it could start flights by the end of 2014.
Still, between the two of them, Turley Garrett and Johnson have sold to a techie from Silicon Valley, a real estate broker from Columbus, a 70-year-old South Korean retiree and a few celebrities who wish to remain anonymous.
Also in that group, is Josh Resnick, a video-game developer from Brentwood, and his 79-year-old mother, Rheta.
"Even talking about it I get excited" Josh Resnick says.
For him, the allure of being one of the first civilians in space was a big draw.
For his mother, Rheta, it was the chance to do something she dreamed of as a kid, but didn't think would be possible.
"When I was born, there was no television, ... no real washing machines. So we’ve come a long way," she says.
The space tourism industry has made remarkable progress in recent years, says Dirk Gibson, a professor at the University of New Mexico and author of the ebook "Commercial Space Tourism: Impediments to Industrial Development and Strategic Communication Solutions."
"I think we are closer now than we ever have been," he says.
But, he adds, there are several hurdles ahead for Virgin Galactic and other companies looking to sell space-based travel experiences.
For instance, they have technical issues to work out, and they still need to secure Federal Aviation Administration approval for flights.
Greg Autry, an adjunct professor at USC's Marshall School of Business, says safety is also a concern. "Unproven complex technical systems are subject to failure," he notes. "As we've seen in the commercial aviation business, ... things do go wrong."
That’s partly why Virgin is taking so long to finalize a launch date. A spokesman says the company won’t send people up until it can minimize safety risks.
Still, both Autry and Gibson think this industry will continue to grow.
Ticket to ride
Another barrier for most people is the $250,ooo price tag for a Virgin Galactic flight.
Jay Johnson, though, has an opportunity to bypass that fee. The company has offered ASAs like him a free ride if they sell 10 tickets total. Johnson, with eight customers so far, is almost there.
But he says, if he hits the goal, he probably won't use the ticket himself.
"I honestly think I am going to donate it. Because I would love to go. But I’ll wait my turn until I can afford it."
In the meantime, he’ll keep working the phones, showing up at travel expos, and scouring Southern California for people with a dream of flying to space -- and a couple hundred thousand dollars to spare.
Greek yogurt is, to most members of the general public, solely a healthy breakfast option. But a new line of products from Chobani seems to say that breakfast isn't the only time to eat yogurt.
Greek yogurt sales have slowed in recent years by as much as six percent, which is why Chobani is experimenting with desserts and cooking ingredients that use Greek yogurt in new ways.
"Yogurt for breakfast totally makes sense, but it's become so old-school now," says Bloomberg Business reporter Venessa Wong. "It's still the exciting growth area in the yogurt market."
Wong visited the cafe in New York City that Chobani runs as a testing ground for new savory yogurt concoctions. The smoked salmon bagel she ordered, for example, was topped with a cream cheese spread made from Greek yogurt.
"I didn't know yogurt could be used as a cream cheese substitute," Wong said.
Chobani has found that its cafe's busiest hours are the lunch hours from 1-3 p.m. Its least busiest time of the day: 7:30-9:30 a.m.