Top 10 tips for going on a Royal Caribbean cruise solo

Going on a Royal Caribbean cruise by yourself may sound like a weird idea and feel intimidating, but in reality, it is an incredibly enjoyable experience.  If you have never taken a cruise solo before, it may seem off-putting, but if you talk to those that have done it before, it is a great decision. These studio staterooms are available on select Royal Caribbean ships and offer a private stateroom without a single supplement fee. Quite often, the single supplement fee is equivalent to double the cost of a single guest. Because the cruise lines business model depends on staterooms filled with at least two guests in them, single supplement fees have been the means of ensuring the cruise line is not taking a loss on a solo cruiser.

Spotlight

Alterkeys

Alterkeys is an online platform changing the concept of travelling to a more social, affordable and authentic experience. Agencies and ordinary people can list their properties on Alterkeys for free, to connect and receive bookings from travellers all over the world who use Alterkeys to search for accommodation that best suit their needs and budget.

OTHER ARTICLES
Hospitality Management

Post-Pandemic Travelers Driving Demand for Private Villa Rentals

Article | July 18, 2023

It would be an understatement to say that the recent pandemic is ushering in a seismic shift for the travel trade, which suffered a collective gut punch as COVID-19 unrelentingly raged across the globe. New health and safety protocols, crisis management plans and other operational touchpoints are being overhauled to help those in—and dependent upon—the travel industry better pivot and adapt to the unforeseen. For travelers, priorities and sensibilities have also evolved on multiple fronts. For one, various reports extrapolate how privacy has become the new luxury. In fact, a “Covid Travel Outlook 2021” travel sentiment survey by Indagare found that travelers “feel more comfortable renting a home or private villa for added privacy” and that “more than half of those surveyed said that they are 54 percent more likely to rent a home than they were prior to coronavirus, preferring to ‘Stay at homes not hotels,’ for added security and peace of mind.” Other reports tout the key advantages of private luxury villa accommodations, with privacy and exclusive use entrenched among them. Amid the surge in category popularity, travelers must also consider ways to aptly vet luxe private villa options amid a burgeoning field. According to an Indagare.com story outlining the benefits of “going private,” proximity is one overarching booking factor noting that “for some travelers, a house close to town or affiliated with a nearby resort or hotel provides the perfect combination of exclusivity and access (to restaurants, coffee shops, fitness classes, etc.). Others prefer staying someplace further removed, opting for a home with fewer amenities or a lavish villa with every convenience under the sun.” The article also points out another critical aspect that, all too often, is taken for granted: availability. The story cites the reality that “accommodations can fill up months or even a year in advance,” which some more spontaneous wanderers might not expect. Relative to post-pandemic issues, the story further cautions that “this year, with exclusivity at an unprecedented premium and fewer destinations open to international arrivals, early planning is crucial. One reason: Many travelers are opting for longer stays, now that remote work and Zoom classes are ubiquitous, meaning there’s less turnover. For these extended trips—workcations or staycations—having strong WiFi, reliable phone service and separate areas for being productive are key factors when choosing the right rental.” With this and other public discourse helping spur private villa reservations, I sought to connect with one purveyor in the space that is making due strides: Destinations in Paradise. This boutique agency offers a suite of architectural five-star private villas in four locales: The Big Island and Kauai, Hawaii as well as Los Cabos, Mexico and Mendocino, California. Having personally experienced this company’s brand of haute hospitality on the Big Island, I sought to connect with the founders—David Cohen and Howard Appel—for some clarity on how they’ve apparently adapted so well in the post-pandemic era. Here’s what they had to say. MK: So, first, let’s talk about the properties, themselves, and also your company at large. What sets Destinations in Paradise apart from other luxury home and private villa purveyors in the various regions where you operate? Cohen: It's essentially our caliber of white glove service, which is highly personalized and with the very best amenities that can be provided. The company was started because we wanted to have some fun, as Howard and I had been retired a while. We wanted to give people, especially those desiring privacy and security, the kind of high-caliber experience that we would expect. When someone arrives at one of our homes, they're greeted and welcomed with enthusiasm and everything to elevate the experience is there. This includes the best linens, a house full of flowers and arrival gifts. In Mendocino, we leave fresh-baked goods and wine. In Mexico, our guests are greeted with cold towels and margaritas. Plus, any special requests are accommodated. Even when guests depart, we give them a thank you gift for having booked a stay with us. Overall, it’s a very personalized experience. It’s akin to having a member of the family come and stay. You get up early in the morning, make them breakfast and generally make them feel at home … that this is their home for the duration of the visit. The difference is that it's a five-star experience at every touch point. Appel: We, ourselves, like to travel in luxury and, as we started acquiring the properties, we realized that this is a great opportunity to offer to other people the same kind of treatment we enjoy. It's the way we all would love to be treated. And we think we offer it differently and more special than others. The business sort of just fell into place as bookings escalated and we started to acquire additional properties. MK: In the luxury travel space, much is said about the importance of personal touches to elevate the experience. So, can you provide an example of things you all do in this regard to go over-and-above for high-end luxury travelers? Cohen: Here's one interesting example about the Mexican property, for example: It's two acres of the most gorgeous landscaping that you've ever seen. Even though it's in the middle of a desert, we are desalinating seawater using solar power, so the yards and the landscaping and the flowers are all very lush, but still desert-type plants. The interesting thing is that Howard and I have worked together for close to 40 years and, until we actually got into this business, I had no idea that he had this artistic flair. The landscaping at all of the houses is beyond spectacular. My own personal favorite is the Mendocino home, which has the equivalent of an English country garden. You can just go and sit in there and read a book, sitting in the fresh air with beautiful butterflies and bees buzzing around. The Hawaiian property is the same; it’s just gorgeous, perfect Hawaii. Appel: It's important to note that these homes are indoor-outdoor homes. We want to make sure we carry the luxury on both sides. If you actually do a search of our home in Cabo on Google Earth, you can easily spot it because it's the only significant patch of green anywhere along the east scape. This kind of lush, natural beauty is just one of the many ways that we cater to our guests relative to the luxurious aspects both inside and outside of the homes. MK: You touched on some of it already, but what are some other special amenities and activities that you offer in, and around, the homes that are available to guests? Appel: One key aspect is that each home comes with a concierge service. Our guests can partake in any activity in the local surroundings. We try to offer the opportunities within the local community and try to personalize that. In Mexico, it might be premiere deep-sea fishing, surfing and paddle boarding. In Mendocino, we're about 30-minutes from Anderson Valley, so we can arrange for private wine tours. Especially during the recent pandemic, to help our guests have fun but also avoid big crowds was important to us. Of course, the homes in Hawaii and Mexico have beautiful pools, swim-up bars and each property has its own set of unique amenities on-site a like solar-lighted tennis court. In fact, when we travel to Mexico—in the seven or eight times we've been there—I think we've left the property twice. There's no reason to go elsewhere because everything is there with you. Whatever you want to do, whatever the guests would like, we can make it happen. MK: Speaking of the pandemic, obviously the past year and a half has been tough for the travel industry, so how have the recent health concerns impacted your business with respect to private villa versus hotel, resort or other kinds of accommodations? And, also, the guest experience while actually visiting a property? Appel: We took COVID very seriously from the beginning and, yes, 2020 was a hard year for us. We lost almost all of our business, but we used that down time as an opportunity to continue to enhance the homes. Even now, when guests come to one of our properties, they're greeted in a manner that best assures their health and safety. We have our house managers maintain their distance and use masks, of course. But, during the guests’ stay, we also make sure we work around their calendars to not intrude on their stay there. We take it very seriously. And, in fact, when a guest leaves, we have a minimum 48 hours between guests so we can properly clean and sanitize the home for the next guest. MK: Many people often associate private villa experiences more with leisure travel versus business. But I know Destinations in Paradise properties are also utilized in business—especially when there are privacy, exclusivity and health-related preferences. Plus, of course, the properties are also perfectly suited for corporate events, retreats and even utilized as incentives and rewards for employees and business partners. So, tell us about these kinds of corporate benefits. Cohen: Even though the houses are focused on providing a safe, comfortable environment for families and extended small events, we do also host small, medium and large-scale corporate events at the houses. Whether it's a two-person law firm figuring out how they're going to run their businesses remotely, to a large distillery that wants to try and get their name out for a new product for, say, tequila in Mexico, our homes are an apt venue. Of course, we host weddings and social media is prompting bookings from people like rappers who want a place to chill out and rethink what their next shows or postings are going to be. And we've hosted philanthropic events like releasing baby turtles in the beaches of Mexico to address species endangerment. For that, a university in Mexico held a business meeting at our property, and as a gift we paid and supported their release of 600 hatchlings. Howard has also had some dealings with movie studios that are interested in hosting either corporate get togethers and business strategy meetings. And, in at least two instances that I can recall, they’ve considered using the homes as part of a movie production. I should also mention that each of the homes have the ability to cater for large and small groups. If we bring chefs in, that event never ever needs to leave the property. The house in Mexico, for instance, has two kitchens that are fully capable of catering to as many people as the property can accommodate, which is substantial, but each of the homes have the ability to cater internally and not rely on outside services. Appel: All the homes offer businesses a unique opportunity to host meetings and events, from the very large as in Mexico, to even Mendocino for smaller gatherings. They’re all unique and offer the privacy, security and comfort that private villa venues offer—all, of course, with our discerning five-star touch.

Read More
Hospitality Management

Gain Competitive Edge with 5 Latest Hospitality Management Trends

Article | July 19, 2023

Discover the top hospitality management trends in 2023 to elevate the travel and tourism businesses. Adapt to hospitality marketing trends that are reshaping the hospitality and travel industry. Contents 1. Introduction 2. Importance of Hospitality Technology for Hospitality Industry 3. Five Hospitality Management Trends Shaping the Industry 3.1 Hotel Work Spaces 3.2 Robots in Hotels & Restaurants 3.3 Hyper-Personalization 3.4 Holistic Hospitality 3.5 Digitalized Guest Experiences 4. Today to Tomorrow: Hospitality Management 2.0 5. Final Thoughts 1. Introduction The hospitality industry has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, leading to a need for businesses to gain a competitive edge. While some businesses couldn't withstand the challenges, others adapted swiftly, and innovative concepts emerged to cater to the new normal. In 2023, technology will continue to advance rapidly, and the trends in the hospitality industry will harness its potential in exciting new ways. Despite uncertain household budgets, consumer trends indicate a strong desire for hospitality and tourism. However, to thrive in this landscape, hospitality businesses must stay informed about the latest industry trends to optimize costs, maximize profitability, and ensure continued success in 2023 and beyond. 2. Importance of Hospitality Technology for Hospitality Industry The hospitality industry, characterized by intense competition, prioritizes staying abreast of the latest hospitality management trends. Embracing technology offers many benefits, including streamlined processes, cost reduction, decreased staff workloads, increased revenue potential, and enhanced customer experiences. By leveraging the latest technology, businesses can achieve work accuracy that surpasses what can be accomplished by human staff alone. Technology solutions make tasks more manageable and enable companies to meet the increasingly high expectations of today's customers. Keeping up with the latest hospitality technology trends is crucial, allowing businesses to stay caught up to their competitors. Failure to do so may grant rival companies, a significant competitive advantage, especially if they adopt technology that resonates with customers while others continue with traditional methods. 3. Five Hospitality Management Trends Shaping the Industry 3.1 Hotel Work Spaces The rise of remote work has become a prominent trend in hospitality management and is projected to have a lasting impact. Fueled by the global public health crisis, numerous notable companies, including tech giants like Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon, have announced their intention to adopt a hybrid or flexible approach to remote work. The industry's future presents a significant opportunity for hospitality venues to position themselves as remote working hotspots for locals and travelers. Hotels and F&B establishments can capitalize on this trend by adapting their offerings to cater to the needs and preferences of this emerging segment. Providing ample plug sockets, offering free high-speed WIFI, creating well-equipped meeting rooms, and serving great coffee are essential starting points to attract remote workers and cater to their requirements effectively. By embracing and accommodating remote work trends, hospitality businesses can gain a competitive edge, enhance hotel operations and successfully meet the demands of this evolving market segment. 3.2 Robots in Hotels & Restaurants An intriguing trend that has captured the attention of the hospitality industry is the growing integration of robotics and their application in tasks traditionally carried out by human personnel. A notable example includes the utilization of robots in the role of concierge within hotels, where they can warmly greet guests and provide them with essential customer information. Moreover, certain hotels have begun implementing robots for cleaning, including vacuuming floors and even employing germ-killing capabilities. This practice holds potential for widespread adoption throughout the broader hospitality industry, including restaurants and other establishments. Integrating robotics in these operational aspects presents an exciting opportunity to enhance efficiency, improve customer experiences, and explore innovative avenues for growth and optimization within the industry. 3.3 Hyper-Personalization In today's hospitality landscape, guests have elevated their expectations to be recognized and treated as individuals, driven by the increasing demand for personalized interactions. Recent research indicates that 71% of tourists now anticipate personalized experiences. However, many businesses are still limited to personalizing at a segment level, while customer expectations have advanced well beyond that, reaching the realm of hyper-personalization in 2023. To achieve hyper-personalization, hospitality businesses can adapt trends in tourism industry and leverage technological platforms such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Customer Experience Management (CEM). These platforms utilize big data to create highly tailored one-to-one interactions between guests and hosts at scale. By drawing on data insights into customers' browsing and buying behaviors, hotels, travel providers and restaurants can customize their offers, promotions, and services to align with individual preferences and needs. 3.4 Holistic Hospitality The current preventive medicine and self-care trend is gaining significant traction in various industries. In particular, the wellness sector is experiencing exponential growth, evolving into a thriving trillion-dollar market. Hospitality venues, especially those equipped with spa facilities, can capitalize on this trend and secure a substantial portion of this lucrative market. While traditional beauty and relaxation spa services remain relevant, there is a rapid surge in demand for health diagnostic technology and customized treatment plans. Expert professionals are now offering personal or group sessions to foster vitality, facilitate healing, manage stress, achieve emotional balance, promote mindfulness, and enhance sleep quality. This evolving landscape presents a unique opportunity with trends in tourism and hospitality industry to expand offerings and meet the increasing customer demand for holistic wellness experiences. 3.5 Digitalized Guest Experiences The increasing significance of apps in managing hotel services is reshaping the hospitality industry and revolutionizing the guest experience. The digital and contactless services trend has gained significant momentum, leading to a comprehensive transformation of customer-facing operations. Technology-assisted options, such as mobile check-in, contactless payments, voice control, and biometrics, redefine how guests interact with hotels. Customers, who have grown accustomed to the convenience of unlocking their smartphones and laptops using facial and fingerprint recognition, will soon expect the same level of ease when accessing their hotel rooms. However, implementing these upgrades may pose financial challenges for establishments that provide these advanced services. To remain ahead of the curve and meet evolving customer expectations, hoteliers should invest substantially in adopting and maintaining the necessary technologies. 4. Today to Tomorrow: Hospitality Management 2.0 The future of the hospitality industry holds several key dimensions that hoteliers need to consider. First, shifting from standardization to personalized experiences is critical as travelers seek tailored services. Second, focusing on niche markets and value creation through customization and specialization lead to increased success. Embracing technology as a business accelerator is the third dimension, as it plays a central role in the hotel experience and enable innovative concepts. Fourth, social responsibility is a moral and economic obligation, with sustainability becoming a key focus. Developing responsive and resilient business models is the fifth dimension, essential for managing the risks and regulations associated with the growing tourist flows. While the consensus among respondents in recent survey emphasizes the need for the businesses to adapt to hospitality industry trends 2023 to evolve and adapt to the current environment, some participants expressed more extreme views, suggesting that traditional hotel rooms may become obsolete. These individuals point to the growing impact of the sharing economy and the inclination of today's customers to seek alternatives to conventional hotels. They believe that the adjustments in offerings mentioned earlier may not be sufficient and that the industry must undergo a true reinvention to remain relevant. This perspective highlights the importance of continuous innovation and staying ahead of evolving customer preferences. While personalized experiences, niche markets, technology integration, social responsibility, and resilient business models are key areas of focus, the industry needs to remain agile and open to further transformations. 5. Final Thoughts As the hospitality industry continues to evolve, businesses must embrace key hospitality management trends to gain a competitive edge and ensure future success. The integration of technology, such as robotics in hotels and restaurants, offer opportunities for enhanced efficiency and improved customer experiences. Hyper-personalization is becoming essential, with guests expecting tailored interactions and customized offerings. The growth of the wellness market presents a chance for hospitality venues to capitalize on preventive medicine and self-care trends. Digitalized guest experiences, including mobile check-ins and contactless payments, are reshaping customer-facing operations. Looking ahead, the industry needs to shift from standardization to personalized experiences, focus on niche markets, embrace technology, prioritize social responsibility, and develop responsive business models. While some experts suggest traditional hotel rooms may become obsolete, it is crucial to continually innovate and adapt to changing customer preferences to remain relevant in the dynamic hospitality landscape.

Read More
Hospitality Management

Crypto Tourism: A Quick Guide

Article | August 28, 2023

Cryptocurrencies have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years. They have progressed from a speculative asset class to one gaining widespread mainstream acceptance. And it's not just retail investors who are interested; cryptocurrencies are finding applications in various industries, including tourism. Yes, the travel industry, like many others, has warmed up to these virtual digital assets. It has even spawned a new type of operation, namely crypto tourism. Introduction to Crypto Tourism Crypto tourism is categorized into two broad groups: the first has tours and travel packages purchased with cryptocurrency. Emirates Airlines, the biggest airline in the UAE, has said it will soon accept bitcoin as a form of payment. Air Baltic, a Latvian airline, has also been accepting bitcoin for a long time. The second type of crypto tourism is trips and travel packages where crypto conferences, classes, or lectures are a big part of the schedule. You might not understand why someone would take a vacation to go to a lecture or learn about blockchain. Well, most people don't go on vacations like these. Instead, they focus on entrepreneurs and crypto fans who want to network, meet people with similar interests, and discuss business ideas. In addition to the usual sightseeing and relaxing, these crypto trips include talks by well-known speakers and industry veterans. Limitation and Scope Crypto tourism is a small market with few options, and only a small number of travel partners accept crypto payments. Also, the people who put on some crypto trips often use these events to sell ICOs and do other marketing. However, crypto tours are great for people who want to learn about cryptocurrencies, meet others interested in the same things, and relax. They are also great if you want digital money to pay for your trip. Then, you don't have to worry about currency exchange rates or losing cash. A Different Reality Crypto tourism might be niche, but it is a new reality in the travel industry. It allows safe transactions and innovative tours, which many businesses are keen about.

Read More
Hospitality Trends

Age of Digital Concierge: Hotel Chatbots Are Redefining CX

Article | June 2, 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

Spotlight

Alterkeys

Alterkeys is an online platform changing the concept of travelling to a more social, affordable and authentic experience. Agencies and ordinary people can list their properties on Alterkeys for free, to connect and receive bookings from travellers all over the world who use Alterkeys to search for accommodation that best suit their needs and budget.

Related News

Cruise

Alaska Cruising: Holland America Line Demand Surges

Holland America Line | July 04, 2022

With pent-up demand and the U.S. Independence Day travel rush approaching, premium cruise line Holland America Line reported a surge in interest for Alaska cruising to the bucket list travel destination during June for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic. "People are excited to travel again while reconnecting with family and friends in a meaningful way,We're seeing the pent-up demand leading to increased booking as guests realize cruising is a hassle-free way to enjoy unique destinations such as Alaska." -Beth Bodensteiner, senior vice president and chief commercial officer for Holland America Line Our summer travel inquiries and bookings show people are feeling safe to explore again, Alaska is one of my favorite places to visit in the summer. A preferred partner, like Holland America Line, helps us provide clients with convenient departures to and from our own back yard to this amazing place, without the added cost of airfare.Michelle Glass, vice president of travel for AAA Washington "With the cost and recent challenges with air travel, we are seeing excitement and traction from guests within driving distance of our cruise homeports such as Seattle and Vancouver, We recently invested in local marketing near our homeports and we're already seeing that pay off." -Kacy Cole, vice president of marketing and e-commerce for Holland America Line Overall, Holland America Line continues to see a high level of interest in cruises that are only a short flight or drive away from guests' homes. On round-trip sailings from the United States, the cruise line visits 225 different ports in 91 different countries, serving more international destinations on cruises sailing round trip from a U.S. homeport than any other brand. The line's homeports in the United States include Seattle, San Diego, Boston, and Fort Lauderdale. In addition, Holland America Line operates more Alaska cruises from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, than any other cruise line.

Read More

Cruise

Consumers Optimistic About Cruise Travel in 2022

arrivia | March 01, 2022

Consumers are optimistic about their 2022 cruise travel plans. That's the overall sentiment from a recent survey conducted by arrivia, a leading travel loyalty and cruise booking technology platform that works with consumer-facing companies worldwide. The company surveyed 1,453 Americans between November 3, 2021, and January 10, 2022, all of whom are members of a travel club or travel benefits program, about their attitudes and preferences around cruise travel. Initial responses were collected just a few weeks before the emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, with responses also being recorded into January 2022 as it became the dominant strain worldwide. The Ready to Board consumer cruise survey revealed that more than 80% of respondents have booked a cruise in the next two years or are planning or considering a cruise vacation. Of those consumers who have already booked a cruise, 37% aimed to travel in the spring, 22% in the summer and 31% in the fall. While there was a slight shift in the data based on when the survey responses were recorded relative to the spread of Omicron, the number of respondents who had already booked or were actively planning a cruise consistent outweighed those who "might" book one or aren't considering booking by nearly 2 to 1. Consumers, however, were very clear that they support cruise lines' efforts to make travel as safe as possible. Over 50% of respondents said they would want to see universal masking and vaccination on board and social distancing on cruise activities to feel comfortable cruising again. Value is still a major factor in decision-making Despite the pent-up travel demand accumulated over the past two years, 46% of consumers consider value for money the most important factor when booking a cruise — more than the double itineraries/destinations and COVID/safety protocols combined. Better pricing and deals were also the second top reason (tied with travel restrictions) that travelers haven't booked a cruise in the past twelve months. The focus on value is illustrated by the sizeable percentage (18%) of respondents using loyalty or travel rewards points to defray some or all of the cost of a cruise. "Points play an important role as travelers plan their journeys,Companies with loyalty or rewards programs should consider expanding their capabilities to include more of the travel booking and benefits options that consumers increasingly want, such as cruise travel." -Jeff Zotara, arrivia Chief Marketing Officer. Other findings from the survey: Sixty-six percent of consumers are choosing luxury cruise travel over mega cruises or niche river cruises. Travelers are choosing historically popular destinations with the desire for luxury cruise experiences. Almost half of the respondents who had booked or were planning to book a cruise had their eye on the Caribbean, with 17% zeroing in on the Bahamas as their next stop. And they're not just testing the waters with three-day excursions; 54% said they were considering a six-to-nine-day cruise, while 11% said that ten days or more is the perfect trip length. "It's no doubt that Omicron impacted some of the booking activity in the short-term," Zotara added. "But with the investment cruise lines have made in ensuring travelers' safety and in the new ships that promise to deliver even better experiences, more consumers will be setting sail over the next two years. We're excited to see the demand increasing and consumers' enthusiasm for cruise travel." The consumer cruise survey, Ready to Board, is available for download here. For more information about the survey or to speak with Jeff Zotara, Chief Marketing Officer of arrivia, please contact Vanessa Horwell at vhorwell@thinkinkpr.com. About arrivia Arrivia is a travel technology company that provides travel loyalty, booking and marketing solutions to consumer-facing companies that want to deliver exceptional value to their customers, uncover new revenue streams and drive growth through exciting travel rewards and member benefits. The company's Travel Privileges platform opens up the world of travel for companies like American Express, USAA and Marriott Vacations Worldwide by offering their customers more value through exclusive pricing and encouraging discovery with relevant and personalized options that inspire travel and consumer loyalty. To learn more about how arrivia helps companies drive growth, incentivize sales, boost affinity and reward high-value customers, visit www.arrivia.com.

Read More

Cruise

GM Brings Powerful New Compute Architecture to Ultra Cruise to Help Enable Door-to-Door Hands-Free Driving

Ultra Cruise | January 10, 2022

GM announced this week that its next-generation hands-free driver assist system, Ultra Cruise, will be powered by a scalable compute architecture featuring system-on-chips developed by American semiconductor company Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. GM will be the first company to use the Qualcomm Technologies' Snapdragon Ride™ Platform for advanced driver assistance technology, which features an industry leading 5-nanometer Snapdragon™ SA8540P SoC and SA9000P artificial intelligence accelerator. Ultra Cruise’s compute, which is about the size of two laptops stacked together, will be available in 2023 on vehicles including the ultra-luxury, fully-electric Cadillac CELESTIQ. With high performance sensor interfaces and memory bandwidth, it will, in combination with GM's homegrown Ultra Cruise software stack, be key to helping Ultra Cruise achieve an unmatched combination of capability, reliability, predictability and robust door-to-door hands-free driving in 95 percent of all driving scenarios. "Despite its relatively small size, Ultra Cruise's compute will have the processing capability of several hundred personal computers,It will take qualities that have distinguished GM's advanced driver assist systems since 2017 to the next level with door-to-door hands-free driving." -Ken Morris, GM vice president of Electric, Autonomous and Fuel Cell Vehicle Programs. The Ultra Cruise compute will help power GM-developed ADAS software and features, including perception, planning, localization and mapping. These Ultra Cruise capabilities were developed in-house at GM engineering facilities in Israel, the United States, Ireland and Canada. To ensure a robust and predictable system with minimal latency, GM integrated Ultra Cruise's software on an optimal hardware design, overlaying cameras, radar and lidar. This low-level, sensor fusion, which provides excellent detection and classification of data, and Ultra Cruise's software stack are proprietary to GM, not available on the automotive aftermarket. The Ultra Cruise compute is comprised of two Snapdragon SA8540P SoCs and one SA9000P AI accelerator to deliver key low-latency control functions on 16-core CPUs and high-performance AI compute of more than 300 Tera Operations Per Second for camera, radar and lidar processing. The Snapdragon SoCs are designed with 5 nm process technology, enabling superior performance and power efficiency. The Snapdragon SA8540P SoCs will provide the necessary bandwidth for Ultra Cruise's sensing, perception, planning, localization, mapping and driver monitoring. "We are very proud of our collaboration with General Motors on one of the industry's first uses of our Snapdragon SoCs in an automated driving system,Ultra Cruise powered by Snapdragon Ride on Cadillac vehicles will be an experiential and technological leap forward for the industry." -Nakul Duggal, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. senior vice president and GM, Automotive. Along with Snapdragon Ride SoCs, which are designed to meet automotive system safety standards with multiple redundancies built in, the compute includes an Infineon Aurix TC397 processor for system safety integrity. The Aurix TC397 is categorized ASIL-D – the highest Automotive Safety Integrity Level. GM minimized complexity within the compute, opting for an air-cooled instead of liquid-cooled system that avoids heavy and inefficient thermal cooling lines throughout the vehicle, made possible by Snapdragon Ride's high-performance, high-efficiency design. Ultra Cruise's compute will also have the capability to evolve over time by leveraging Snapdragon Ride's SoCs performance and high-speed interfaces for future expansion, as well as over-the-air software updates enabled through the Ultifi software platform and GM's Vehicle Intelligence Platform electrical architecture. About General Motors (NYSE:GM) It is a global company focused on advancing an all-electric future that is inclusive and accessible to all. At the heart of this strategy is the Ultium battery platform, which will power everything from mass-market to high-performance vehicles. General Motors, its subsidiaries and its joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Baojun and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety and security services, can be found at https://www.gm.com.

Read More

Cruise

Alaska Cruising: Holland America Line Demand Surges

Holland America Line | July 04, 2022

With pent-up demand and the U.S. Independence Day travel rush approaching, premium cruise line Holland America Line reported a surge in interest for Alaska cruising to the bucket list travel destination during June for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic. "People are excited to travel again while reconnecting with family and friends in a meaningful way,We're seeing the pent-up demand leading to increased booking as guests realize cruising is a hassle-free way to enjoy unique destinations such as Alaska." -Beth Bodensteiner, senior vice president and chief commercial officer for Holland America Line Our summer travel inquiries and bookings show people are feeling safe to explore again, Alaska is one of my favorite places to visit in the summer. A preferred partner, like Holland America Line, helps us provide clients with convenient departures to and from our own back yard to this amazing place, without the added cost of airfare.Michelle Glass, vice president of travel for AAA Washington "With the cost and recent challenges with air travel, we are seeing excitement and traction from guests within driving distance of our cruise homeports such as Seattle and Vancouver, We recently invested in local marketing near our homeports and we're already seeing that pay off." -Kacy Cole, vice president of marketing and e-commerce for Holland America Line Overall, Holland America Line continues to see a high level of interest in cruises that are only a short flight or drive away from guests' homes. On round-trip sailings from the United States, the cruise line visits 225 different ports in 91 different countries, serving more international destinations on cruises sailing round trip from a U.S. homeport than any other brand. The line's homeports in the United States include Seattle, San Diego, Boston, and Fort Lauderdale. In addition, Holland America Line operates more Alaska cruises from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, than any other cruise line.

Read More

Cruise

Consumers Optimistic About Cruise Travel in 2022

arrivia | March 01, 2022

Consumers are optimistic about their 2022 cruise travel plans. That's the overall sentiment from a recent survey conducted by arrivia, a leading travel loyalty and cruise booking technology platform that works with consumer-facing companies worldwide. The company surveyed 1,453 Americans between November 3, 2021, and January 10, 2022, all of whom are members of a travel club or travel benefits program, about their attitudes and preferences around cruise travel. Initial responses were collected just a few weeks before the emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, with responses also being recorded into January 2022 as it became the dominant strain worldwide. The Ready to Board consumer cruise survey revealed that more than 80% of respondents have booked a cruise in the next two years or are planning or considering a cruise vacation. Of those consumers who have already booked a cruise, 37% aimed to travel in the spring, 22% in the summer and 31% in the fall. While there was a slight shift in the data based on when the survey responses were recorded relative to the spread of Omicron, the number of respondents who had already booked or were actively planning a cruise consistent outweighed those who "might" book one or aren't considering booking by nearly 2 to 1. Consumers, however, were very clear that they support cruise lines' efforts to make travel as safe as possible. Over 50% of respondents said they would want to see universal masking and vaccination on board and social distancing on cruise activities to feel comfortable cruising again. Value is still a major factor in decision-making Despite the pent-up travel demand accumulated over the past two years, 46% of consumers consider value for money the most important factor when booking a cruise — more than the double itineraries/destinations and COVID/safety protocols combined. Better pricing and deals were also the second top reason (tied with travel restrictions) that travelers haven't booked a cruise in the past twelve months. The focus on value is illustrated by the sizeable percentage (18%) of respondents using loyalty or travel rewards points to defray some or all of the cost of a cruise. "Points play an important role as travelers plan their journeys,Companies with loyalty or rewards programs should consider expanding their capabilities to include more of the travel booking and benefits options that consumers increasingly want, such as cruise travel." -Jeff Zotara, arrivia Chief Marketing Officer. Other findings from the survey: Sixty-six percent of consumers are choosing luxury cruise travel over mega cruises or niche river cruises. Travelers are choosing historically popular destinations with the desire for luxury cruise experiences. Almost half of the respondents who had booked or were planning to book a cruise had their eye on the Caribbean, with 17% zeroing in on the Bahamas as their next stop. And they're not just testing the waters with three-day excursions; 54% said they were considering a six-to-nine-day cruise, while 11% said that ten days or more is the perfect trip length. "It's no doubt that Omicron impacted some of the booking activity in the short-term," Zotara added. "But with the investment cruise lines have made in ensuring travelers' safety and in the new ships that promise to deliver even better experiences, more consumers will be setting sail over the next two years. We're excited to see the demand increasing and consumers' enthusiasm for cruise travel." The consumer cruise survey, Ready to Board, is available for download here. For more information about the survey or to speak with Jeff Zotara, Chief Marketing Officer of arrivia, please contact Vanessa Horwell at vhorwell@thinkinkpr.com. About arrivia Arrivia is a travel technology company that provides travel loyalty, booking and marketing solutions to consumer-facing companies that want to deliver exceptional value to their customers, uncover new revenue streams and drive growth through exciting travel rewards and member benefits. The company's Travel Privileges platform opens up the world of travel for companies like American Express, USAA and Marriott Vacations Worldwide by offering their customers more value through exclusive pricing and encouraging discovery with relevant and personalized options that inspire travel and consumer loyalty. To learn more about how arrivia helps companies drive growth, incentivize sales, boost affinity and reward high-value customers, visit www.arrivia.com.

Read More

Cruise

GM Brings Powerful New Compute Architecture to Ultra Cruise to Help Enable Door-to-Door Hands-Free Driving

Ultra Cruise | January 10, 2022

GM announced this week that its next-generation hands-free driver assist system, Ultra Cruise, will be powered by a scalable compute architecture featuring system-on-chips developed by American semiconductor company Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. GM will be the first company to use the Qualcomm Technologies' Snapdragon Ride™ Platform for advanced driver assistance technology, which features an industry leading 5-nanometer Snapdragon™ SA8540P SoC and SA9000P artificial intelligence accelerator. Ultra Cruise’s compute, which is about the size of two laptops stacked together, will be available in 2023 on vehicles including the ultra-luxury, fully-electric Cadillac CELESTIQ. With high performance sensor interfaces and memory bandwidth, it will, in combination with GM's homegrown Ultra Cruise software stack, be key to helping Ultra Cruise achieve an unmatched combination of capability, reliability, predictability and robust door-to-door hands-free driving in 95 percent of all driving scenarios. "Despite its relatively small size, Ultra Cruise's compute will have the processing capability of several hundred personal computers,It will take qualities that have distinguished GM's advanced driver assist systems since 2017 to the next level with door-to-door hands-free driving." -Ken Morris, GM vice president of Electric, Autonomous and Fuel Cell Vehicle Programs. The Ultra Cruise compute will help power GM-developed ADAS software and features, including perception, planning, localization and mapping. These Ultra Cruise capabilities were developed in-house at GM engineering facilities in Israel, the United States, Ireland and Canada. To ensure a robust and predictable system with minimal latency, GM integrated Ultra Cruise's software on an optimal hardware design, overlaying cameras, radar and lidar. This low-level, sensor fusion, which provides excellent detection and classification of data, and Ultra Cruise's software stack are proprietary to GM, not available on the automotive aftermarket. The Ultra Cruise compute is comprised of two Snapdragon SA8540P SoCs and one SA9000P AI accelerator to deliver key low-latency control functions on 16-core CPUs and high-performance AI compute of more than 300 Tera Operations Per Second for camera, radar and lidar processing. The Snapdragon SoCs are designed with 5 nm process technology, enabling superior performance and power efficiency. The Snapdragon SA8540P SoCs will provide the necessary bandwidth for Ultra Cruise's sensing, perception, planning, localization, mapping and driver monitoring. "We are very proud of our collaboration with General Motors on one of the industry's first uses of our Snapdragon SoCs in an automated driving system,Ultra Cruise powered by Snapdragon Ride on Cadillac vehicles will be an experiential and technological leap forward for the industry." -Nakul Duggal, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. senior vice president and GM, Automotive. Along with Snapdragon Ride SoCs, which are designed to meet automotive system safety standards with multiple redundancies built in, the compute includes an Infineon Aurix TC397 processor for system safety integrity. The Aurix TC397 is categorized ASIL-D – the highest Automotive Safety Integrity Level. GM minimized complexity within the compute, opting for an air-cooled instead of liquid-cooled system that avoids heavy and inefficient thermal cooling lines throughout the vehicle, made possible by Snapdragon Ride's high-performance, high-efficiency design. Ultra Cruise's compute will also have the capability to evolve over time by leveraging Snapdragon Ride's SoCs performance and high-speed interfaces for future expansion, as well as over-the-air software updates enabled through the Ultifi software platform and GM's Vehicle Intelligence Platform electrical architecture. About General Motors (NYSE:GM) It is a global company focused on advancing an all-electric future that is inclusive and accessible to all. At the heart of this strategy is the Ultium battery platform, which will power everything from mass-market to high-performance vehicles. General Motors, its subsidiaries and its joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Baojun and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety and security services, can be found at https://www.gm.com.

Read More

Events