As travel giants circle, understanding the economics in tours and activities is vital

March 3, 2020 | 110 views

In the past 24 months, the tours and activities sector has moved from, to borrow a Cinderella analogy, the cinders to the palace, where its untapped potential has moved into the sights of major travel retailers and investors. These retailers and investors, as we know, included Booking Holdings, Tripadvisor and SoftBank via their investments in Klook and GetYourGuide. These moves have led to lots of opportunities for operators and consumers alike, but, as always, change does not come without its casualties. Some operators are to dealing with distributors and they understand that such partners can be both partner and competitor.

Spotlight

Millennium Hotels and Resorts

Millennium Hotels and Resorts is hotel company that treats the guest as family, with a unique range of global properties across Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and North America. With a global portfolio of more than 120 hotels, our hotels are never cookie-cutter, but always fresh, surprising and tailored to their location. We seamlessly blend Asian hospitality with western comfort. In a thousand ways there is “More than Meets the Eye” to a Millennium Hotels and Resorts experience.

OTHER ARTICLES
COMMERCIAL TRAVEL,INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

Age of Digital Concierge: Hotel Chatbots Are Redefining CX

Article | July 13, 2022

The travel industry is reviving. Tourist spots across the globe are packed with excited explorers. Though it feels like everything is going back to normal, the way people travel has changed. The hospitality tech revolution is making mundane tasks easier and the customer experience richer. Most travelers prefer self-service over waiting to be served. Online planning and bookings have picked up pace, so have contact-less check-in and 24/7 digital concierge. Hotels must swiftly meet these evolving demands or risk losing in the race. They must incorporate technology into their day-to-day operations to eliminate human error, increase their service efficiency, and, above all, offer an outstanding customer experience. One of the technology trends reshaping the travel and hospitality industry is digital concierge—hotel chatbots that bring the concierge desk into the palm of a guest’s hand. Convenient, right? A Sneak Peak into Hotel Chatbots Hotel chatbots are software applications that communicate with your hotel’s website page visitors and resolve their queries. They are either programmed to behave a certain way or can be AI-powered. Programmed chatbots are configured to answer a limited set of questions. However, they can collect visitor information so your customer executives can get in touch with prospects to resolve their queries or provide them with booking assistance. On the other hand, AI-powered chatbots use NLP (Natural Language Processing) and ML (Machine Learning) to analye human behaviour and accordingly answer questions. Digital Concierge Brings in Conversions Personalized communication forms the crux of customer experience. A desired, non-intrusive interaction between a guest and a chat bot can create strong engagement and help the guest to make a booking at your hotel. In such cases, the bot will forward the booking inquiries directly into the IBE (Internet Booking Engine) and strengthen your direct sales. 30-50% of the chatbot-prospect interactions result in IBE forwarding of booking inquiries. This statistic shows how accepting the guests are of the chatbot’s services. (Source: DialogShift, Olga Heuser) Chatbots can also be integrated into social media platforms and instant messenger platforms so that guests can directly make bookings from a platform of their choice. How are Hotel Chatbots Redefining CX? Apart from bringing in revenue through direct sales, hotel chatbots also create a solid customer experience for the guests, so they don’t go home unsatisfied and give you a good review online. Here are the ways in which they enhance the customer experience: 24/7 Availability- Chatbots promptly respond to guest queries round the clock Multi-Lingual Support- Languages are not a barrier for them Efficiency- They lighten your hotel staff’s load of answering guest queries Customer Retention- They collect guest information, which helps in retention and follow-up Brand Awareness- They are brand representatives and increase brand awareness through responsiveness Additionally, AI- powered chatbots can also: Highlight the hotel’s special features upon check-in Recommend places and activities to do around the hotel with pictures and links Request feedback from guests about services Assist with table reservations or pool-side orders The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas Used Rose to Impress Guests The introduction of Rose, a smart chatbot that converses with guests on The Cosmopolitan’s website, changed the game for the hotel. The bot’s playful personality wooed hotel guests. Those who made a booking directly from the website ended up spending 37% more than those who did not engage with her. Let’s Wrap It Up A hotel chatbot refines the concierge experience for guests through rapid response times and enhances your hotel’s AI marketing efforts. It can be an invaluable asset for hotel business owners looking to stay ahead in the race.

Read More
BUSINESS TRAVEL,INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

3 Travel Preparation Tips for Your Holiday Trip

Article | June 29, 2022

A holiday abroad is an exciting experience, a chance to be in a new place where you can enjoy the sights and food, and have that much-needed break you need. Whether you are off to visit family or friends or plan to embark on an adventure as a tourist, holidays are the best way to leave work behind for a while and do something nice for yourself. With all the hard work you have been doing, you deserve a break. Going on a trip also takes careful preparation to ensure that everything goes according to plan. If you start preparing in advance, you can cover all the details and relax while away, knowing everything is in place. It is also best to get travel insurance. With it, you provide yourself with coverage against certain travel risks like cancellations, missing luggage, and medical expenses, should you require them while away from home. Of course, it is always best to be safe than sorry, and details like this reduce stress and keep you prepared for anything on your holiday. Below are some travel preparation tips for a stress-free and enjoyable holiday. Try to travel light Travelers find it challenging to pack for a trip. We tend to take extras along with us, fearing that something could come up and we might need certain items. However, it is always better to pack light, as long as you have the essentials with you. Avoid over-packing and stick to the necessities for a less stressful vacation. If you are flying to your destination, have your travel documents organized and in your possession at all times. Find out what the weather is like where you are going and choose suitable clothing to pack. Be prepared for anything You never know what can happen during a holiday trip. You may encounter a few snags such as delays, a change of weather conditions, closed roads, etc. So, prepare for unexpected situations and know what to do if they happen. Furthermore, arriving hours earlier than your flight at the airport keeps you relaxed, which you should be since it is your holiday. If security lines are long and time is of the essence, being there early helps you take it easy rather than rush to reach your flight on time. Book your flight as early as possible Ensure that you get to leave on your preferred dates by booking your flight as early as possible. There have been a few changes in many airline companies where people can quickly make cancellations and other changes. Additionally, there is now limited seating in planes. This means that they fill up the seats faster. Apart from booking your flight in advance, it would also help to book hotel accommodations and other planned activities early on. A holiday is even more enjoyable when you have planned everything out. Make the necessary preparations so when you get to your destination, all that's left to do is relax and enjoy your vacation.

Read More
TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY,HOSPITALITY TRENDS

AI CRM and Online Booking Tipped To Boost Travel Recovery

Article | June 24, 2022

Travel technology professionals view tech as the way to help travel come back stronger, according to research. The TravelTech Show (formerly TTE Europe) polled buyers and suppliers who listed artificial intelligence, customer relationship management and online booking tools as the top three technologies to help boost recovery. Rounding out the top five were self-service portals and innovative payment options. The findings will be unsurprising to many in the industry already looking to AI, the cloud and other technologies to boost efficiency and improve the customer experience. Brian Sheerin, managing director of SABS Travel Technologies, says: Allowing travelers to self-book through an OBT [online booking tool] while still providing simple methods to communicate, such as online chat, are key to reducing customer frustration and allowing travel businesses the space to restructure, to resource and to meet customer expectations. OBTs were already playing a massive part in booking travel pre-pandemic and now it is even more important in the role of rebuilding the sector and customer confidence in it.”In recent weeks, American Airlines announced a far-reaching partnership with Microsoft, Expedia Group unveiled its new tech platform Open World and Miami Airport announced its rollout of biometric boarding technology. Payment developments and other advances in travel fintech also have been highlighted recently as an increasing priority to the industry as it looks to find new revenue streams. The TravelTech Show research also quizzed participants on the top challenges facing the travel technology industry currently, with economic uncertainty taking the top slot (52%), followed by COVID-19 restrictions (46%) and climate change (36%). Cyber security took fourth place compared to two years ago when it was in seventh place. Meanwhile, sustainable travel moved to seventh place compared to the second-place spot it held in 2020.

Read More
TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

Augmented Reality Transforming the Travel and Hospitality Industry

Article | May 20, 2022

“I believe that augmented reality will be the biggest technological revolution that happens in our lifetimes.” – Tim Sweeney, Founder and CEO of Epic Games Augmented reality (AR) has proved to be a significant concept in tourism and hospitality management in the past few years. It allows us to enhance the physical environment and enhance the experience of exploring the surrounding area. According to Grand View Research, the global market for augmented reality was worth USD 25.33 billion in 2021. From 2022 to 2030, the market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40.9%. As things keep pace with digitalization and this generation seeks quick and efficient yet reliable methods, every sector widely uses the application of augmented reality. According to Hospitality Tech, the market size of augmented reality will reach $198 billion by 2025, and the hotel business will be one of the key contributors to this income target. Effectively, Starwood, Marriott and Holiday Inn are already making a difference in the travel and hospitality industry by leveraging this technology. An investment in AR brings a lot of change in business revenue for both small hoteliers and prominent hotel tycoons. AR Improve Customer Experience for Travel and Hospitality Redefine the customer experience with augmented reality in the tourism industry. AR-based travel apps help businesses enhance their services and offer personalized experiences to their customers. By adding interactive hotel features that make the space more fun, you can get people to visit nearby attractions. Utilizing CX to maintain and expand a client base produces a terrific asset that positively affects ROI. CX effectively boosts customer lifetime value (LTV), which can become self-perpetuating. Companies that excel at CX and customer-centricity are 60% more profitable and generate 5.7% more revenue than those that don't. Ideas for Implementing AR in the Tourism and Hotel Industry AR is utilized chiefly via smartphones and offers many options concerning interactive experiences. AR in Excursions & Travel Attractions AR technology may be a terrific marketing tool for guiding first-time guests through the hotel and a great way to retain customers and provide more engaging experiences. With the application of augmented reality software, a standard tourist map comes to life. Moreover, AR technology enables clients to examine points of interest, restaurants, and other businesses. Your hotel restaurant may even use augmented reality to let customers explore the menu and ingredients in a new way by showing them 3D versions of the meals on their phones. Transportation If you have a travel mobile app with AR, you can point out the transportation objects to get the best possible directions, travel route, next destination, and places to travel to. Pokemon Go shows one such example of how you can use modern digital technologies to make the travel experience even better. It became the first popular augmented reality game. This AR app brought players out into the street and made them move and travel a lot. Scadi is one such AR app in travel for visitors of Alpine ski resorts. It uses advanced algorithms to create the most comfortable, safe and exciting routes for skiers and snowboarders. Integrates with other technology Using augmented reality in conjunction with other technologies such as beacon technology allows your hotel to more efficiently promote to visitors and upsell through push notifications. For example, through push notifications, hotels may give partner companies special offers or discounts, and vice versa, partner businesses can advertise the hotel. Hospitality Industry Must Make Room for AR for Better ROI In a post-pandemic context, the travel and hotel industries embrace technological advancements that enhance visitor experiences, eventually boosting corporate income and reducing operating expenses. Utilizing interactive technologies like AR, VR, and other interactive technologies increases operational efficiency, productivity, and ROI. By using augmented reality with CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) or EAM, you gain more understanding (Enterprise Asset Management). Augmented reality can assist facility managers in boosting the efficiency of their engineers and reducing the expense of ensuring their safety. AR will assist them in increasing their revenue by reducing their maintenance expenses. Using AR-based product models, the hospitality industry is gaining a significant competitive edge, resulting in faster sales cycles. Case Studies Holiday Inn During the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012, Holiday Inn introduced one of the first uses of Augmented Reality in a hotel setting. The experiences used picture recognition and chroma video. The program identified hotel locations and activated athlete video footage, merging real and virtual components. This Holiday Inn use case shows how hotels may leverage AR to develop unique guest experiences around local events. In addition, the campaign helped promote the hotel and bolster its status as the official hotel for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Premier Inn The Hub Hotel from Premier Inn, the largest hotel chain in the United Kingdom, is one of the few places to have adopted the AR technology back in 2016. The hotel provided a wall map of the local region in each room. Tourists could use their smartphones to read information about local areas of interest by pointing them at a wall. Conclusion The benefits of augmented reality in the travel and hospitality industries are immense. AR is a potent tool for increasing company potential and returns on investment. Utilizing innovative technology boosts your hotel's exposure and brand awareness while propelling it into the digital age. Augmented reality in the tourism industry truly sets you apart from the competition. FAQ How is augmented reality changing the travel & tourism industry? Augmented reality helps hotels enhance the physical locations they are attempting to attract visitors to, such as hotel rooms and local attractions. What is digital transformation in the hospitality industry? Digital transformation refers to how companies restructure themselves to adapt and modify their corporate culture to empower innovations that utilize technology and propel their enterprises to new levels of growth. What are the benefits of augmented reality? Creates unique customer experiences Reduces cognitive overload Increases engagement

Read More

Spotlight

Millennium Hotels and Resorts

Millennium Hotels and Resorts is hotel company that treats the guest as family, with a unique range of global properties across Asia Pacific, Europe, Middle East and North America. With a global portfolio of more than 120 hotels, our hotels are never cookie-cutter, but always fresh, surprising and tailored to their location. We seamlessly blend Asian hospitality with western comfort. In a thousand ways there is “More than Meets the Eye” to a Millennium Hotels and Resorts experience.

Related News

TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

TripActions Raises $275M AT $7.25B Valuation

TripActions | October 14, 2021

In less than a year, TripActions has secured a second massive funding round – this time $275 million in Series F growth funding. The round was led by Greenoaks Capital with participation from prior investors Elad Gil, Base Partners and all key existing financial investors and values TripActions at $7.25 billion on a post-money basis. The funding comes less than nine months after TripActions' Series E round of $155 million in January. The travel management company's total funding to date is nearly $1.3 billion. Is an IPO coming soon for the six-year-old company? Michael Sindicich, general manager of TripActions Liquid, the company’s payment and expense management solution, says while an IPO would be a “natural fundraising opportunity and another milestone in our growth,” it is not planned for the near future. “We’ve got quite a lot of cash. We’re making great revenue. We are not in any rush to take the company public at this time,” Sindicich says. The vote of confidence from investors, he says, confirms TripActions’ belief that travel and expense management is “ripe for a tech makeover.” Despite the global impact of COVID-19 on travel, TripActions says it has now exceeded pre-pandemic levels in terms of bookings and revenue and has more than doubled its aggregate travel budget under management from February 2020 through the end of July this year. The gains are due in part to a focus on acquiring new enterprise customers, targeted with the launch of TripActions Enterprise Edition in September 2020. Clients include Heineken, Crate & Barrel, Snowflake, Thomson Reuters and Adobe. “We were there for these customers, they were switching from legacy travel agencies and booking tools, legacy expense platforms, because we were innovating, we were supporting, we were adapting to the way the new world would operate moving forward and that gave them a lot of confidence to actually make a change.” Michael Sindicich, general manager of TripActions Also adding fuel to TripActions' growth in the last 18 months: the launch of Liquid in February 2020, first as a payment solution and then in October 2020 adding expense management tools. Sindicich says transaction volume is similar for Liquid as for core travel, and more than 90% of the new companies TripActions is bringing onboard use its full suite of solutions for corporate travel, expense, spend and payment management. “Seventy-percent of expenses happen while employees are on trips,” he says. “So we’re learning about the power of the end-to-end solution. We built Liquid as a separate team in the beginning... and are now seeing that both platforms together, it’s a one-plus-one-equals-three type of situation.” Along with continuing to develop these products, TripActions will accelerate development of Lemonade, its personal travel booking solution that launched in October 2020. Lemonade gives employees at TripActions’ client companies’ access to negotiated rates and exclusive deals, notifications about COVID requirements and around-the-clock support for their leisure trips. The company is also continuing to develop TripActions Team Travel, a self-serve solution that launched in June to facilitate gatherings of distributed employees. Earlier this month it added support for meetings and events to Team Travel, leveraging the capabilities it gained with its acquisition of Reed & Mackay in May. TripActions will also add staff globally, expand its efforts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa – Europe now represents 30% of TripActions’ business - and, says Sindicich, continue to look for merger and acquisition opportunities. “We’re always looking for companies that would make sense to acquire and work with and add to the portfolio so this could be another deployment of this capital as well,” he says. “There’s not a prospect we are announcing or have in mind right now, but it would be natural for us to also look at other opportunities as well since we see Reed & Mackay is working so well for us.”

Read More

FEATURES AND ADVICE

American Express GBT, Cvent Add Corporate Responsibility Questions To Hotel RFP

Cvent, American Express Global Business Travel | September 06, 2021

In an effort to gather and standardize data related to corporate social responsibility efforts at hotels, American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) and Cvent have created new questions for suppliers to answer as a supplement to the Global Business Travel Association’s request for proposals template. The joint initiative includes 47 questions focused on sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion that are intended to help travel managers evaluate suppliers on these issues. To develop the questions, GBT’s Global Business Consulting team (GBC) and Cvent interviewed corporations, global hotel brands, travel management companies and consultancies. The companies say along with helping travel managers evaluate hotels, the questions benefit hotels by reducing the time needed to respond to individual requests for information on these topics. “As we accelerate the return to travel and events, customer requests for supplier data on corporate responsibility issues are soaring,” says Nina Marcello, a principal within GBC who first proposed the initiative. “Together, GBC and Cvent worked with stakeholders across corporate and meetings travel to deliver a solution that will increase the availability of relevant sustainability and DE&I data. This initiative reflects our own environmental, social and governance commitments and enables suppliers and travel managers around the world to further their corporate responsibility goals. ” Hotel suppliers answer the supplemental questions, related to things such as carbon emissions and leadership demographics, within the Cvent Transient solution. Hotel chains can also work with their properties to collect and import the information to their profiles. “The speed at which we developed these questions reflects the significance of this work, and they are already being used by our hotel clients. This initiative benefits the entire corporate travel supply chain by facilitating the sharing and reporting of important topics that impact every organization,” says Brian Sullivan, senior director of product management at Cvent.

Read More

TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

HUAWEI INVESTS $100M IN STARTUPS, MAKES FIRST TRAVEL MOVE IN MIDDLE EAST

Huawei | August 26, 2021

As part of its move away from hardware, Huawei is scaling up its cloud services and startup support in Asia Pacific and, while travel and hospitality is not top of mind yet, its move into this vertical seems inevitable with the expansion of its headquarters in Singapore and a recent first move in the Middle East. Huawei, facing pressure in Western markets and a slowdown in consumer business amid U.S. sanctions, has been steadily moving its focus away from manufacturing to become a tech and software company that believes “deeply in the power of digital technology to provide fresh solutions to the problems the world is facing right now. "We will keep on innovating to help build a low-carbon, intelligent world,” said Eric Xu, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman, at the release of business results for the first half earlier this month. In the Middle East, travel marketplace Wego is the first travel player to sign a partnership with Huawei’s Petal Search to integrate the travel app into Huawei smartphones. “The world of travel and hospitality has entered a new era of m-commerce, as more than 60% of travellers rely entirely on smartphone applications when making their travel plans. Pre-installing the Wego app into smartphones is part of our continuous efforts to enable these travellers to get the best deals and options when shopping for their holiday,” says Mamoun Hmedan, Wego managing director for MENA and India. From May, all Huawei smartphones EMUI 5 and above bundled with the Wego app will be made available across stores in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Pakistan. “Over the last few years, we have been noticing a significant rise in the number of Wego users on Huawei devices. Interestingly, it has also been noted that Huawei smartphone users tend to spend more on travel than the average Android user,” says Hmedan. In the startup space, Huawei announced its plan to invest $100 million in the ecosystem, with the funds going towards its Spark Program in the Asia Pacific region over the next three years. Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand are the priority markets and at the Huawei Cloud Spark Founders Summit in July, it announced the programme would develop four additional startup hubs – Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. The overarching aim is to recruit a total of 1,000 startups into the Spark accelerator program and shaping 100 of them into scaleups. Speaking at the Summit, Huawei senior vice president and board member Catherine Chen said 34 years ago, Huawei was a startup with just $5,000 of registered capital. “Recently, we have been thinking: How can we leverage our experience and resources to help more startups address their challenges? Doing so would allow them to seize the opportunities posed by digital transformation, achieve business success, and develop more innovative products and solutions for the world.” Alexis Lee, Spark program manager at Huawei Cloud and AI Asia Pacific, who joined the team in January, told WebInTravel that 40 startups came through in the first cohort and about eight to 10 were identified to enter the “Spark Fire” programme, an accelerator. Zhang Ping’an, senior vice president of Huawei, CEO of Huawei Cloud BU, and president of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service, announced at the Summit that “we have already helped four of these startups launch new products and completely transform their businesses, while helping eight enter new markets”. It is currently in the midst of selecting the second cohort – entries closed last week. Lee, who previously worked in the investor space and was at Grab for two years, said how Huawei differentiated from other accelerators in Singapore is in its business development strength. “We introduce startups to clients, obviously in China, as well as global. China is obviously the most attractive market for scale up.” It does not take equity, rather it invests in kind, offering cloud infrastructure support in credits as well as a strong mentoring and investor network. “The programme is about building up the startup community, and sharing our resources. We have the tech know-how and the client network to help startups scale.” Areas of interest include anything to do with AI, ML or 5G and industry verticals include fintech, logistics, smart cities, ad tech and insurance tech. Huawei says its global HMS ecosystem is the world’s third largest mobile app ecosystem, serving 4.5 million developers in over 170 countries and regions. The goal is to cultivate over 100,000 HMS cloud-native developers in Asia Pacific over three years. Huawei Cloud is second in China and fifth in the global IaaS market.

Read More

TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

TripActions Raises $275M AT $7.25B Valuation

TripActions | October 14, 2021

In less than a year, TripActions has secured a second massive funding round – this time $275 million in Series F growth funding. The round was led by Greenoaks Capital with participation from prior investors Elad Gil, Base Partners and all key existing financial investors and values TripActions at $7.25 billion on a post-money basis. The funding comes less than nine months after TripActions' Series E round of $155 million in January. The travel management company's total funding to date is nearly $1.3 billion. Is an IPO coming soon for the six-year-old company? Michael Sindicich, general manager of TripActions Liquid, the company’s payment and expense management solution, says while an IPO would be a “natural fundraising opportunity and another milestone in our growth,” it is not planned for the near future. “We’ve got quite a lot of cash. We’re making great revenue. We are not in any rush to take the company public at this time,” Sindicich says. The vote of confidence from investors, he says, confirms TripActions’ belief that travel and expense management is “ripe for a tech makeover.” Despite the global impact of COVID-19 on travel, TripActions says it has now exceeded pre-pandemic levels in terms of bookings and revenue and has more than doubled its aggregate travel budget under management from February 2020 through the end of July this year. The gains are due in part to a focus on acquiring new enterprise customers, targeted with the launch of TripActions Enterprise Edition in September 2020. Clients include Heineken, Crate & Barrel, Snowflake, Thomson Reuters and Adobe. “We were there for these customers, they were switching from legacy travel agencies and booking tools, legacy expense platforms, because we were innovating, we were supporting, we were adapting to the way the new world would operate moving forward and that gave them a lot of confidence to actually make a change.” Michael Sindicich, general manager of TripActions Also adding fuel to TripActions' growth in the last 18 months: the launch of Liquid in February 2020, first as a payment solution and then in October 2020 adding expense management tools. Sindicich says transaction volume is similar for Liquid as for core travel, and more than 90% of the new companies TripActions is bringing onboard use its full suite of solutions for corporate travel, expense, spend and payment management. “Seventy-percent of expenses happen while employees are on trips,” he says. “So we’re learning about the power of the end-to-end solution. We built Liquid as a separate team in the beginning... and are now seeing that both platforms together, it’s a one-plus-one-equals-three type of situation.” Along with continuing to develop these products, TripActions will accelerate development of Lemonade, its personal travel booking solution that launched in October 2020. Lemonade gives employees at TripActions’ client companies’ access to negotiated rates and exclusive deals, notifications about COVID requirements and around-the-clock support for their leisure trips. The company is also continuing to develop TripActions Team Travel, a self-serve solution that launched in June to facilitate gatherings of distributed employees. Earlier this month it added support for meetings and events to Team Travel, leveraging the capabilities it gained with its acquisition of Reed & Mackay in May. TripActions will also add staff globally, expand its efforts in Europe, the Middle East and Africa – Europe now represents 30% of TripActions’ business - and, says Sindicich, continue to look for merger and acquisition opportunities. “We’re always looking for companies that would make sense to acquire and work with and add to the portfolio so this could be another deployment of this capital as well,” he says. “There’s not a prospect we are announcing or have in mind right now, but it would be natural for us to also look at other opportunities as well since we see Reed & Mackay is working so well for us.”

Read More

FEATURES AND ADVICE

American Express GBT, Cvent Add Corporate Responsibility Questions To Hotel RFP

Cvent, American Express Global Business Travel | September 06, 2021

In an effort to gather and standardize data related to corporate social responsibility efforts at hotels, American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) and Cvent have created new questions for suppliers to answer as a supplement to the Global Business Travel Association’s request for proposals template. The joint initiative includes 47 questions focused on sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion that are intended to help travel managers evaluate suppliers on these issues. To develop the questions, GBT’s Global Business Consulting team (GBC) and Cvent interviewed corporations, global hotel brands, travel management companies and consultancies. The companies say along with helping travel managers evaluate hotels, the questions benefit hotels by reducing the time needed to respond to individual requests for information on these topics. “As we accelerate the return to travel and events, customer requests for supplier data on corporate responsibility issues are soaring,” says Nina Marcello, a principal within GBC who first proposed the initiative. “Together, GBC and Cvent worked with stakeholders across corporate and meetings travel to deliver a solution that will increase the availability of relevant sustainability and DE&I data. This initiative reflects our own environmental, social and governance commitments and enables suppliers and travel managers around the world to further their corporate responsibility goals. ” Hotel suppliers answer the supplemental questions, related to things such as carbon emissions and leadership demographics, within the Cvent Transient solution. Hotel chains can also work with their properties to collect and import the information to their profiles. “The speed at which we developed these questions reflects the significance of this work, and they are already being used by our hotel clients. This initiative benefits the entire corporate travel supply chain by facilitating the sharing and reporting of important topics that impact every organization,” says Brian Sullivan, senior director of product management at Cvent.

Read More

TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

HUAWEI INVESTS $100M IN STARTUPS, MAKES FIRST TRAVEL MOVE IN MIDDLE EAST

Huawei | August 26, 2021

As part of its move away from hardware, Huawei is scaling up its cloud services and startup support in Asia Pacific and, while travel and hospitality is not top of mind yet, its move into this vertical seems inevitable with the expansion of its headquarters in Singapore and a recent first move in the Middle East. Huawei, facing pressure in Western markets and a slowdown in consumer business amid U.S. sanctions, has been steadily moving its focus away from manufacturing to become a tech and software company that believes “deeply in the power of digital technology to provide fresh solutions to the problems the world is facing right now. "We will keep on innovating to help build a low-carbon, intelligent world,” said Eric Xu, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman, at the release of business results for the first half earlier this month. In the Middle East, travel marketplace Wego is the first travel player to sign a partnership with Huawei’s Petal Search to integrate the travel app into Huawei smartphones. “The world of travel and hospitality has entered a new era of m-commerce, as more than 60% of travellers rely entirely on smartphone applications when making their travel plans. Pre-installing the Wego app into smartphones is part of our continuous efforts to enable these travellers to get the best deals and options when shopping for their holiday,” says Mamoun Hmedan, Wego managing director for MENA and India. From May, all Huawei smartphones EMUI 5 and above bundled with the Wego app will be made available across stores in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Pakistan. “Over the last few years, we have been noticing a significant rise in the number of Wego users on Huawei devices. Interestingly, it has also been noted that Huawei smartphone users tend to spend more on travel than the average Android user,” says Hmedan. In the startup space, Huawei announced its plan to invest $100 million in the ecosystem, with the funds going towards its Spark Program in the Asia Pacific region over the next three years. Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand are the priority markets and at the Huawei Cloud Spark Founders Summit in July, it announced the programme would develop four additional startup hubs – Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. The overarching aim is to recruit a total of 1,000 startups into the Spark accelerator program and shaping 100 of them into scaleups. Speaking at the Summit, Huawei senior vice president and board member Catherine Chen said 34 years ago, Huawei was a startup with just $5,000 of registered capital. “Recently, we have been thinking: How can we leverage our experience and resources to help more startups address their challenges? Doing so would allow them to seize the opportunities posed by digital transformation, achieve business success, and develop more innovative products and solutions for the world.” Alexis Lee, Spark program manager at Huawei Cloud and AI Asia Pacific, who joined the team in January, told WebInTravel that 40 startups came through in the first cohort and about eight to 10 were identified to enter the “Spark Fire” programme, an accelerator. Zhang Ping’an, senior vice president of Huawei, CEO of Huawei Cloud BU, and president of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service, announced at the Summit that “we have already helped four of these startups launch new products and completely transform their businesses, while helping eight enter new markets”. It is currently in the midst of selecting the second cohort – entries closed last week. Lee, who previously worked in the investor space and was at Grab for two years, said how Huawei differentiated from other accelerators in Singapore is in its business development strength. “We introduce startups to clients, obviously in China, as well as global. China is obviously the most attractive market for scale up.” It does not take equity, rather it invests in kind, offering cloud infrastructure support in credits as well as a strong mentoring and investor network. “The programme is about building up the startup community, and sharing our resources. We have the tech know-how and the client network to help startups scale.” Areas of interest include anything to do with AI, ML or 5G and industry verticals include fintech, logistics, smart cities, ad tech and insurance tech. Huawei says its global HMS ecosystem is the world’s third largest mobile app ecosystem, serving 4.5 million developers in over 170 countries and regions. The goal is to cultivate over 100,000 HMS cloud-native developers in Asia Pacific over three years. Huawei Cloud is second in China and fifth in the global IaaS market.

Read More

Events