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New York (AirGuide - Travel Technology News) Oct 25, 2009

A common theme emerging from surveys into the use of travel websites is that there is a lot of scope for improvement in the customer experience. Frustrations with planning travel online featured highly in the latest Which? Survey. The most cited grievance was the issue of hidden costs or surcharges not shown in the original price, followed by the fact that booking online took too long. How a travel company uses its web presence for promotion and selling is hugely influential. As consumers make more and more of their travel decisions online, it is ever more critical for travel websites to be easy to navigate, inspire confidence and be clear about taxes and other charges. Trustworthiness has also emerged as a key factor for successful online travel. In a study by Yahoo! of 11,000 Internet users in Europe, it emerged that they want and expect more social media and user-generated content. Just over 38 percent said they preferred recommendations and advice from other users when planning a holiday online. Oct 20, 2009

AirTran Airways

AirTran Airways expanded its mobile Web services to allow customers to book, change or cancel flights from their Web-connected phones or PDAs. Oct 20, 2009

Amadeus

Amadeus has signed an agreement to provide its full Alta Customer Management and ecommerce suite to Royal Jordanian Airlines. Under a ten year deal, the travel IT company will provide software for the Middle East carrier to manage all reservations, inventory and departure control. Alta will also provide a common platform to integrate with its fellow members of the oneworld alliance. Amadeus has now supplied its full suite to more than 60 carriers. www.amadeus.com www.rj.com Oct 22, 2009

Amadeus

In a similar matter involving Amadeus earlier this year, the International Chamber of Commerce Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the GDS in a confidential decision and ordered IATA to stop using data stored in Amadeus in its PaxIS product. An IATA spokesperson said, "We believe the well-reasoned Travelport decision will become the leading case on EC database protection law." There is one outstanding case involving Sabre, filed in Canada, but it is not expected to head to trial until later in 2010. Oct 21, 2009

Amadeus

Amadeus and Travelport have been holding talks on a possible merger, according to a report in a UK newspaper. The IT and GDS companies both declined to comment on what Travelport said was "market rumour and speculation". Amadeus and Travelport, which owns Galileo and Worldspan, are the two biggest GDSs in Europe with Amadeus particularly dominant on the continent. In its report, The Times said a merger would create an "industry giant" worth more than GBP7.4bn. Both Amadeus and Travelport are owned by private equity companies. Amadeus' majority owner is WAM Acquisition which bought a 53.6% stake in the IT company in 2005. Oct 19, 2009

Braathens IT Solutions

Braathens IT Solutions will provide its Ticketless Travel Platform to SAS Group. The product will be integrated with the Amadeus Altea suite and become part of SAS's new distribution platform scheduled for implementation in 2012. Oct 22, 2009

China

The China Guide http://www.thechinaguide.com/ is taking tourists on the road less traveled via the ancient water town of Tongli near Shanghai. This old style Chinese village has been referred to as the Venice of the East, famous for its water canals and folk culture. Aside from its own cultural charm, Tongli is home to the China Sex Museum. Tongli has an array of canals twisting through the town. While its size is not very big, travelers can still get lost wandering around the many corners exploring and discovering the city's offerings. Travelers can enjoy a pleasant lunch or cup of tea canal side and watch the people and boats drift past. There are lots of boutique shops to poke your head into and find hand-made souvenirs. It is a genuine village, and you can also see into people's homes and lives as you pass by. A boat ride on a traditional style wooden boat with oarsman (or woman) lets you see everything from the canal perspective, passing under numerous stone arch bridges. You might catch a glimpse of cormorant fishing birds traditionally used to catch fish. Tongli is about 40 minutes outside of Shanghai and can be visited as a day trip on its own or on the way to Suzhou. It's about another 40 minutes to Suzhou from Tongli. It is also possible to overnight in Tongli; there is a nice traditional style courtyard hotel. The ChinaSex Museum was relocated from Shanghai to Tongli after it was deemed inappropriate for such a big city. However it is truly tasteful due to its accurate display of sexual art and artifacts dating back to 3000 BC. After browsing the museum one can see how there came to be over a billion Chinese. Oct 21, 2009

Evolvi

Evolvi has enhanced its award winning booking engine to stop travellers going outside company policy. The new feature allows travel management companies and their corporate clients to control access to first class travel. It also enables corporates to challenge the selection of Open Return as a journey class by screening all available fares and costs, starting with the lowest. Jon Reeve, Evolvi's trade relations director, said: "Travel budgets remain under pressure and many businesses now see commercial advantage in the greater use of rail - not just on cost grounds but when taking overall productivity into account. "This new functionally enhances the ability of companies to set and monitor clear rules of travel within their overall procurement strategies." www.evolvi.co.uk Oct 19, 2009

Expedia

Expedia, Inc., presenting at the Hotel Investment Conference Asia Pacific (HICAP) in Hong Kong, has released insights on consumer travel demand that indicate consumer response to value-driven offers from Asia hotels is spurring an increasing interest in regional travel. To spur demand, airlines and hotels in the past year significantly reduced rates into and across the region. Air ticket prices have come down significantly, with ticket prices from the Americas and EMEA into APAC down 24 percent from last year, while fares for travel within APAC are down 25 percent. Hotels also adjusted their rates to the downturn for the first half of the year, with major destinations showing double-digit percentage reductions from the second quarter of 2008 to the second quarter of 2009. Beijing led with the biggest average room rate reduction of 36 percent, while Hong Kong dropped 23 percent, Singapore 28 percent, Tokyo 26 percent, and Mumbai 25 percent. Oct 21, 2009

FlightAware

Aviation website FlightAware, with over 2,000,000 users and 150,000 registered pilots, has released FBO Toolbox, the first version of a new comprehensive market analysis and flight tracking application for FBOs. FBO Toolbox enables FBO managers to see a more complete picture of the flying habits of their current and potential customers. Oct 20, 2009

Fly.com

Fly.com, a new airfare search engine that offers the simplest way to find the right flight at the right price, today announced its launch in the United Kingdom, with continued expansion into Germany later this year. Fly.com, which scours many airlines and online travel sites including British Airways, Lufthansa, easyJet, bmi, Air Berlin and ebookers.com, searches all European destinations and presents airfare pricing results in all currencies. OFly.com is already a big hit in the U.S. where we provide more than two million searches every month for travellers,O said Brian Clark, general manager, Fly.com. OWhether in Boston, Belfast or Berlin, people around the world simply want a fast, uncluttered and easy way to search for flights [ETH] and Fly.com offers exactly that.O In addition, Fly.com offers: Easy-to-use search tools that help people sort and narrow results using factors like number of stops, airport preference and departure times Results which clearly display prices across all cabins [ETH] first class, business class, economy [ETH] in every search Accurate pricing that includes all applicable taxes and fees Relevant travel deals available through Travelzoo OEuropeans have an insatiable appetite for things that work really well; whether it be a car, a mobile phone or a search engine,O said Chris Loughlin, managing director of Travelzoo in Europe. OFly.com is cleaner, quicker and simpler to use than other search engines, and IOm certain everyone on this side of the Atlantic will find value in using it for their flight needs.O For more information, visit www.fly.com. Oct 26, 2009

hotelicopter

The hotel search engine hotelicopter has launched interactive maps to make finding the perfect hotel even easier. Search maps allow travelers to pinpoint hotels in specific locations on an interactive map. In the standard view, you can see all the available hotels for the destination chosen. If you are looking for hotels near an exact address, simply chose that tab and type in an address. If you are looking for a hotel in an area or neighborhood, hotelicopter lets you search nearby areas too. Neighborhoods appear directly on the map, making it much easier to navigate. Travelers can also highlight hotels they are considering and have only those properties appear on the map. This makes it easier to compare hotels to find the best deals. Another important new feature includes much of the important hotel information within the map. Travelers simply hover their mouse over a map pin to see the hotel name, star and user rating, and average rates. This gives the traveler much more control over their hotel search. For more information, visit www.hotelicopter.com. Oct 21, 2009

Inoqo

A Twitter-based hotel booking engine launched in September is aimed at recession-hit hotels. The privately funded company, Inoqo, allows hotels to advertise "unique high-value" packages on Twitter, filling otherwise vacant rooms at the last minute. It only publishes unique hotel packages available within the next 48 hours. Twitter users can follow the stream for their chosen travel destination and request deals directly into their personal Twitter stream as they go live. The service is free to travelers, and Inoqo generates revenues by charging hotels a commission for each booking made. The service went live with 30 launch hotels in the U.S., France, Portugal, England, Scotland, Ireland and South Africa. For more information, visit www.inoqo.com. Oct 22, 2009

ITU

ITU has given its stamp of approval to an energy-efficient one-charger-fits-all new mobile phone solution. The announcement comes as ITU lobbies hard to have the essential role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) recognized in the draft Copenhagen Agreement as a key part of the solution towards mitigating climate change. Every mobile phone user will benefit from the new Universal Charging Solution (UCS), which enables the same charger to be used for all future handsets, regardless of make and model. In addition to dramatically cutting the number of chargers produced, shipped and subsequently discarded as new models become available, the new standard will mean users worldwide will be able to charge their mobiles anywhere from any available charger, while also reducing the energy consumed while charging. The new UCS standard was based on input from the GSMA, which predicts a 50 per cent reduction in standby energy consumption, elimination of 51,000 tonnes of redundant chargers, and a subsequent reduction of 13.6 million tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions each year. Director of ITUOs Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), Malcolm Johnson said: "This is a significant step in reducing the environmental impact of mobile charging, which also has the benefit of making mobile phone use more straightforward. Universal chargers are a commonsense solution that I look forward to seeing in other areas." Standardization of the solution within ITU was completed by Study Group 5 - Environment and Climate Change, and will hasten broad adoption by industry. Based on the Micro-USB interface, UCS chargers will also include a 4-star or higher efficiency rating - up to three times more energy-efficient than an unrated charger. Oct 22, 2009

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue Airways subsidiary LiveTV has developed a solution that it says will allow carriers to offer free in-flight email on flights operated anywhere in the world, and will also prove attractive to business aircraft operators. The so-called Kiteline World solution, unveiled at the recent World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) conference and exhibition in Palm Springs, California, brings together LiveTV's US domestic air-to-ground (ATG)-based Kiteline email service and Iridium's Openport satellite communications service for a cost-effective, pay-per-megabyte plan for data transfer. Oct 19, 2009

Kayak

Kayak analyzed average selected airfare prices on Halloween versus the overall average for the past two years and found that prices were 5 percent less on Halloween. OWe wondered whether Kayak Trends data could shed some light on whether people are afraid to fly on Halloween and whether you could save money when other people are scared,O said Giorgos Zacharia, KayakOs chief scientist. The difference, he said, is not massive but statistically significant because itOs across such a large sample. OThen I looked at other dates when people might be afraid to fly -- Friday the 13th and Sept. 11,O he said. OI found an even bigger difference here -- average selected airfare prices were 12 to 14 percent lower than the average for the past two years. I think you can save money if you travel when other people might be afraid to fly.O For more information, visit www.kayak.com. Oct 23, 2009

Michigan

The Pure Michigan Facebook page has drawn more than 20,000 fans. OWe are delighted with the number of people who want to be involved with Pure Michigan on Facebook,O said George Zimmermann, vice president of Travel Michigan, a business unit of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. OHowever, itOs not just the volume of fans but the level of fan participation. Our posts serve as conversation starters about things to do and places to see in Michigan.O In addition, Travel Michigan has retained the top ranking amongst the 50 official U.S. tourism office websites in the use of social media. In a recent study, OHow Social is Your State DMO,O conducted by Gammet Interactive, Michigan stays in the top spot for the use of popular social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and others. The Pure Michigan social media program is executed in partnership with Fluency Media Group. Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Fluency develops integrated marketing solutions which include search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, website sales flow optimization, online publishing and social media strategy, and email marketing programs. Fans of Michigan can join the Pure Michigan Fan Page on Facebook or follow @PureMichigan on Twitter. In addition, visitors can see photos from the Pure Michigan Photo Contest on Flickr, or watch the Pure Michigan commercials on YouTube or www.michigan.org. The official state travel and tourism website, www.michigan.org, features more than 12,000 attractions, events, hotels, resorts, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses. For more information, visit www.michigan.org.

Oct 22, 2009

Pegasus Solutions

Pegasus Solutions has released OThe Pegasus ViewO for September 2009 based on booking data from more than 90,000 hotels worldwide during the month. Available online, the report indicates average daily rate (ADR) for global distribution system (GDS) transactions has reached its highest point to date this year at $162 in September. The report also shows booking lead times remain short in both corporate-driven GDS and leisure-driven alternative distribution system (ADS) transactions. In the ADS channel, the ADR remains down. The average monthly drop has been around 25 percent year to date, but September 2009 versus September 2008 was down 17.29 percent, making it the first month this year where the drop has fallen below 20 percent. Looking ahead at business on the books, the ADS channel appears less adversely impacted than GDS year over year through the last quarter of this year and into the first quarter of 2010, according to Mike Kistner, CEO of Pegasus Solutions. That said, the GDS channel had a strong month in September 2009. While net reservations were down 3.42 percent compared to September 2008, they increased 8.45 percent in September 2009 compared to August 2009, and actually climbed close to 7 percent when compared to September 2007. OLooking forward, despite ADR remaining flat, hoteliers are feeling some signs of recovery in the overall volume of reservations year over year,O said Kistner. OHowever, ADR looks like it will continue to be challenged, and so a slight rise in reservations volume year over year will not necessarily give rise to an increase in hotel revenue.O For more information, visit www.pegs.com. Oct 23, 2009

Royal Jordanian

Royal Jordanian announced that it will adopt the full suite of Amadeus Altea Customer Management and e-commerce solutions including reservations, inventory and departure control as part of a 10-year partnership with Amadeus. Oct 22, 2009

Sabre

Yannis Karmis, a 12-year veteran of Sabre Holdings will take over the helm as president of Travelocity Business beginning November 1. Mr. Karmis succeeds Lesley Harris, whom Travelocity tapped to lead its North American Hotels and Packaging business after more than two successful years at the helm of Travelocity Business. The leadership transition at TBiz is part of a broader announcement of executive appointments made by Travelocity Global earlier today. Mr. Karmis will report directly to Hugh Jones, president and CEO of Travelocity Global. Travelocity Business, a full-service corporate travel management company (TMC), is one of the fastest-growing business travel firms with more than US$850 million of corporate travel spend under management. Prior to Travelocity Business, Mr. Karmis spent 12 years working in various positions at Sabre Holdings and Sabre Travel Network. Most recently, he served as vice president of global customer support for Sabre Travel Network, and as general manager of Sabre Uruguay, where he led the expansion of SabreOs second-largest office. The global customer-support facility in Montevideo, Uruguay, supports numerous Sabre brands, including Sabre Travel NetworkOs 55,000 travel agency customer locations in 45 countries, Sabre Airline Solutions, GetThere, SynXis, Travelocity Business, and Nexion. Mr. Karmis earned a master's degree in business administration from the Neeley School at Texas Christian University and a bachelor's degree from Virginia Tech. He is based at Travelocity BusinessOs headquarters in Southlake, Texas. Oct 21, 2009

SkiResorts.com

SkiResorts.com has made its debut with sophisticated and lively content on ski vacation packages, ski resort lodging and every piece of information that goes into making winter vacations fun and memorable. It claims to be the first and only place on the web that offers easy booking capabilities as well as the in-depth, local information necessary to arrange a first rate ski vacation to 50 top mountain resorts. Unlike other ski websites, SkiResorts.com offers thorough coverage of these destinations, coupled with the capability to book a vacation, purchase lift tickets, rent skis, make restaurant reservations for the week, and even buy the latest ski gear. Editorial content is written by local Oin-the-knowO insiders who have spent years at any particular mountain. Top ski resorts across the U.S. and Canada, from Whistler to Aspen to Sun Valley, have been targeted for editorial coverage of specific areas of interest including food and wine, style, and health and wellness, all as they relate to the ski resort lifestyle. The siteOs travel booking capabilities are available through both an online engine as well as live agents with decades of experience and unsurpassed access to the most sought after lodging properties. A database of restaurants, spas, galleries, shops and other local activities in each resort will help make the site a useful tool. SkiResorts.com will offer new content on a daily basis focusing on these primary areas: resort life, eat and drink, style and gadgets, health and wellness. For more information, visit www.skiresorts.com. Oct 23, 2009

Sprint

Sprint Nextel, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, announced the acquisition of its wireless affiliate iPCS Inc., which is expected to end the long legal battle between the two entities. Based in Schaumburg, Illinois, iPCS exclusively markets wireless services under the Sprint brand across 81 markets in several Midwestern states The deal represents the latest in a series of acquisitions of its affiliates by Sprint. Acquisition of iPCS leaves just two remaining affiliates (out of the original ten), Swiftel and Shentel. Both of them are small privately-held operators with limited subscriber base. Under the agreement terms, Sprint will commence a cash tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of iPCS Inc for $24 per share, representing a 34% premium to iPCSOs closing price on Oct 16. Sprint will make a cash payment of approximately $426 million for the acquisition, and will assume $405 million in iPCS net debt. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions and is expected to complete in fourth quarter this year or early 2010. Since 2005, iPCS has been in litigations as it continued to sue Sprint on the carrierOs acquisition activities including the purchase of NextelOs business, 51% stakeholding in Clearwire Corp. and the impending acquisition of Virgin Mobile USA. iPCS Inc has argued that these investments have violated its affiliate agreements with Sprint. The company has also demanded the divestiture of NextelOs iDEN wireless networks in specific iPCS markets. The acquisition, if successfully consummated, is likely to end all the pending litigations between the two entities and Sprint will no longer be required to divest any of its network assets. Sprint remains significantly challenged by the dismal economic environment which has contributed to the precipitous decline in the subscriber base and associated revenues. In contrast, its larger peers Verizon and AT&T continue to expand their respective customer bases. Acquisition of iPCS will expand SprintOs service territories by providing access to a potential subscriber population of 12.6 million, which falls under the affiliateOs netwok coverage. Moreover, Sprint will expand its direct customer base with iPCSOs more than 700,000 wireless subscribers and 270,000 wholesale customers. The transaction is also expected to offer Sprint approximately $30 million in annual synergies and will be accretive to free cash flow in 2010. While SprintOs cash resources (approximately $4.6 billion) are adequate to fund the acquisition, assumption of iPCS related debt will further stretch the companyOs balance sheet considering its current high debt level. Oct 21, 2009

Tripology

Tripology, the online travel referral service, recently held a contest amongst its growing network of over 13,000 Tripologists, which asked travel specialists for their most recent Tripology success stories. Tripology was overwhelmed with the positive response it received from numerous agents, whose motivational stories are proof that Tripologists are purchasing affordable travel leads that result in high profit sales and long-lasting client relationships. Of the many contest entries Tripology received, following are a few inspirational excerpts that were submitted by Tripologists: Denise Hangsleben, owner of Travel Your Way, got a cruise, all-inclusive resort and transfers to the Caribbean over New Years for $500 to $2,000 per person for a romantic getaway. The clients followed this with a $26,000 trip. Erika Christ of Viva Europa Travel bought a lead for a trip that was essentially just a full-size rental car for about 13 days in Frankfurt, Germany; it turned into a $10,000 sale without air. Becky Hayes of Travel Experts booked a trip to Africa for $16,550. For more information, visit www.tripology.com/agent. Oct 21, 2009

Twitter, Facebook

A Seattle woman tweets from an airport that JetBlue's birthday present to her was forgetting to put her wheelchair on her flight. Seven minutes later, an airline official tweets back that the crew will work quickly to make things right. On a Facebook page used by Delta Air Lines, a traveler suggests Delta wrap its Wi-Fi fee into its ticket price rather than charge separately. The airline doesn't respond. The page mainly promotes the airline, talks up new services and offers travelers tips on popular things to do in the cities Delta flies to, like Las Vegas. Discount airlines have traditionally outflanked the big network carriers in customer Relevant Products/Services service and low fares, and it appears they're extending their advantage to social media. The discounters often respond with quick feedback to travelers' concerns on social networking sites, while traditional network carriers peddle last-minute fare deals but seem slow to embrace Twitter and Facebook to beef up customer service. A survey cited in a July report by Forrester Research showed that 68 percent of U.S. online leisure travelers say they'd be willing to recommend carriers to family and friends if the company made them feel like a valued customer. That's a tantalizing incentive for airlines to transform customer service from the dull telephone and e-mail route into the online networking channel -- where every customer can speak his mind to the masses -- at a time when the weak economy has caused their revenue to plummet. The Internet has opened the door to millions of people to beam their views across the planet on everything from the quality of airplane food to how long they waited on the tarmac to take off. This presents a conundrum for some airlines. It takes manpower to troll social networking sites that are updated around the clock. JetBlue has 10 people involved with social networking; Southwest Airlines has seven. But the big carriers, with their higher costs, have faced budget cuts and reductions in management and frontline staff. US Airways, for instance, in July said it would eliminate 340 customer service agent positions around the country. So, network carriers like American Airlines, Delta and Continental Airlines focus on merchandising, promotions, general information and other issues while taking baby steps when it comes to responding to complaints on social networking sites. Oct 27, 2009

ZZ AirGuide 091026

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Publication:Airguide Online
Date:Oct 26, 2009
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