American Queen Steamboat Company Extends Relaunch As An Act of Caution

American Queen Steamboat Company | June 30, 2020

Out of an abundance of caution, American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) has extended its suspension of operations onboard the American Empress through August 2, 2020, and the American Duchess through August 16, 2020.
“The decision to extend our suspension was disappointing, but necessary in order to prioritize the wellbeing of our guests, crew and partners,” said John Waggoner, CEO and Founder of American Queen Steamboat Company. “We have continued to monitor the climate surrounding COVID-19, we feel that extending our relaunch date is the most responsible way to uphold our commitment to the safety of each individual who steps onboard one of our paddlewheelers and to the communities we visit.”

Spotlight

Hello and welcome to The Travel Hack, a UK travel blog about weekend breaks and my travel hacks and tips to help you travel more, see more and experience more!

Spotlight

Hello and welcome to The Travel Hack, a UK travel blog about weekend breaks and my travel hacks and tips to help you travel more, see more and experience more!

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BUSINESS TRAVEL

Two New Pebblebrook Hotels Onboard with Optii Solutions

Optii Solutions | June 13, 2022

On June 8, Optii Solutions, a market leader in hotel operations software, announced the onboarding of two hotels in the Pebblebrook Hotel Trust; Hotel Chamberlain West Hollywood and Hotel Ziggy, in their hotel operations solution. Optii will help them maximize their housekeeping efficiencies and comply with the new West Hollywood Ordinance that governs workers’ rights. Optii has a contract with another Pebblebrook group hotel- Montrose West Hollywood. It has successfully helped Montrose streamline its operations with limited staff and adapt to the Ordinance. Springboard Hospitality manages all the three hotels that are members of the Curator Hotels & Resorts Collection. The West Hollywood Ordinance came into force on January 1 and imposed limits on square footage cleaned and the number of checkouts completed by each room attendant during an eight-hour workday. If these limits exceed, the hoteliers must pay their staff twice their pay for every hour worked. This doubles housekeeping costs for hotels that do not comply with these restrictions. Optii’s housekeeping platform uses AI to allocate rooms to room attendants based on square footage efficiently. It also set limits for each attendant so that no team member exceeds the Ordinance guidelines. Optii’s platform also offers reporting on both the square footage and number of rooms that an attendant cleans to ensure compliance. A breakdown of departure cleans for each workday, as well as archived boards and data for customer life, is also provided. “Housekeeping departments represent the largest cost for hoteliers and failure to comply with the West Hollywood Ordinance can mean that these costs skyrocket. We are pleased to be expanding our relationship with Pebblebrook Hotel Trust and helping this group of hotels comply simply and easily.” -Katherine Grass, CEO, Optii Solutions Andrew Maffei, Area General Manager, Chamberlain or Hotel Ziggy, said: Our staff are our most important asset and making best use of their time is one of our top priorities. We are excited to be implementing Optii’s technology to ensure our housekeeping team is working efficiently and that we are always fully compliant with the new Ordinance requirements.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY,INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

Trip.com is Here for Travellers During the Summer of Travel Turbulence

Trip.com | August 10, 2022

The global travel rebound continues apace this summer, with global air traffic reaching almost 70% of pre-pandemic levels in May and international hotel occupancy rates achieving the same in April. Yet, against the backdrop of an increased appetite for travel driven by more than two years of pent-up demand, getaways over the summer months are likely to be affected by supply chain issues at airlines and airports, fully booked hotels and rising costs of accommodation and car hire.In the UK, travel chaos has dominated the headlines since springtime, with flight cancellations and long wait times, passenger caps and even a suspension on short-haul ticket sales threatening the chance of a summer holiday. In the US and Europe, the picture is equally fraught, and in Asia, recovery is fractured, with Southeast Asia and the Middle East recovering well, where China and South Korea are recovering at just 15% of pre-pandemic levels due to travel restrictions and COVID-19 outbreaks alike. As such, when customers should be getting excited about quality time with friends or family, relaxation and culture, they are now braced for uncertainty. At Trip.com Group, we are committed to helping our customers take the perfect trip, and this summer is no different. In a world where the travel landscape is increasingly complicated, our Trip.com platform has a range of products and partnerships in place to ease traveller concerns. Combined with our leading customer service, Trip.com aims to ensure everyone has a summer holiday to remember – for all the right reasons – this year. Trip.com Group's Pre-Travel Protection and Cost-Saving Products Earlier this year, Trip.com expanded on its travel insurance product offering in collaboration with AXA Partners. Made available to UK customers since September last year, this insurance product was extended to travellers across Europe earlier this year and can be easily selected when booking a flight on Trip.com. This travel insurance option provides a variety of benefits including medical, cancellation and baggage cover, as well as protection against cancellation and medical costs if a customer contracts COVID-19. With travel restrictions in place in many countries across Asia and beyond, this product is still incredibly useful in terms of providing ample traveller protection and peace of mind. In mainland China, our Ctrip platform introduced its TripTour2Day upgrade service, offering free refunds on group tour products cancelled up to two days before departure. Users simply click on the order details page to obtain a one-click refund in as little as one minute on products with the TripTour2Day label. A week after the TripTour2Day product was launched, sales exceeded 20 million, which proves how vital these products are in terms of offering customers total peace of mind. With many travellers in China harbouring concerns about whether COVID-19 measures would interfere with their plans, this allows users an increased level of flexibility when booking their next trip. "The TripTour2Day service upgrade shortens the threshold of a free refund from seven days or longer to just two days, giving every Ctrip user a better experience in terms of both booking and opportunity to refund. You can customise your travel needs at your own pace and join a tour with peace of mind," -Trip.com Group Tour Business CEO Wen Jiang. In addition to providing protection-based products, Trip.com is also helping guests to get the best value on their next getaway. As the costs of travel rapidly increase, customers are frequently looking for the best deals in order to maximise the return on their investment. By partnering with Hopper Price Freeze on our European and US sites, Trip.com is offering customers added protection against travel price volatility. For a small upfront fee, Trip.com users can freeze a flight price for up to 14 days, giving them the chance to confirm plans with their travel companions before booking without having to worry about an unnecessary price rise. Price Freeze ensures that customers never lose out, because if a Trip.com user freezes a flight and the prices go up, the difference is covered up to a set amount. If the price goes down, the user pays that lower price. Yudong Tan, CEO of the Flight Business Group, Trip.com Group commented, At Trip.com Group we are constantly seeking out ways to bring benefits to travellers. With this new Price Freeze feature, powered by Hopper, we are giving our customers more ways to save money when they book flights. Dedicated Customer Service Since the beginning of 2020, Trip.com's Customer Service team has been put through its paces, handling complex requests to support our users during some of the most testing times - and we continue to develop tech-focused Customer Service solutions today. Our intelligent storage auto-expansion technology has been upgraded to allow our systems to manage call levels more than 10 times higher than our average, and we developed an AI-centric mechanism to recognise and prioritise the most urgent customer cases, directing these calls to a staff member as quickly as possible. While speaking with a Customer Service agent, our assistant tool helps agents by automatically labelling and categorising requests in real time, saving customers time and energy while solving problems quicker than ever before. Our chatbot service also makes use of AI technology to automatically identify trending information in real time based on the most up to date COVID-19 policies and frequently asked questions, updating the FAQs on a daily basis and allowing customers to self-solve over 70% problems without having to hold for a Customer Service agent. The chatbot can also route requests directly to your hotel or airline, helping customers do everything from requesting a confirmation email to rescheduling a flight in the event of extreme weather conditions. In addition, Trip.com also launched its Customer Service Pledge in November 2021, committing to six key pillars including 24/7 support and free in-app calls. Grace Ding, Head of Trip.com's Global Customer Support Centre commented We are proud to see one of our companies make a pledge towards maintaining an incredible level of service to ensure people can continue to travel stress-free. With an average customer satisfaction rate of 90% in 2021, Trip.com is ready to support customers quickly and efficiently with any issues they face while travelling this summer. Delayed Baggage Protection As global lost luggage becomes a particularly problematic issue, Trip.com's Blue Ribbon Bags delayed baggage protection service also helps to remove the stress from summer travel. With this initiative, Trip.com users will be able to safeguard their checked luggage against any delays during transit. Commenting on the new service, Lyrics Zhao, Director of Product and Business Development in the Flights Business at Trip.com said, "Trip.com strives to make travel worry-free and relaxing for all. We want the booking experience to be the beginning of a relaxing trip and to offer value added services to the passenger." "Our service provides air travellers with confidence that if their checked-in baggage does not arrive at the destination airport, we will coordinate and expedite the swift return. Our clients should be able to enjoy their holiday or focus on their work trip while we locate and expedite the baggage," -CD Lazear, Senior Vice President of Blue Ribbon Bags. Whatever this summer throws at you, Trip.com will be by your side to offer solutions. At every stage throughout your travel journey, from pre-booking to when you land in your chosen destination, Trip.com's supportive staff and customer-focused products are available to support you every step of the way and make sure your next trip offers all the relaxation, fun and good times you've been craving.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

Stratix and Samsung Form Alliance for Smart and Connected Hotels

Stratix and Samsung | June 17, 2022

On June 15, Stratix Corporation, a leading Managed Mobility Services (MMS) provider in the U.S., announced its alliance with Samsung to bolster SmartMobile technology solutions to revolutionize hospitality operations and guest experiences. Both the companies want to solve many of the challenges the hospitality industry faces today. The majority of the hotels and resorts in the U.S. rely on slow, analog workflows that do not contribute to great guest experiences. Mobile devices and applications can create highly-efficient fully-connected hotels to remedy this issue. Stratix has created an interactive video demonstrating transformative mobile solutions for maintenance, housekeeping, front desk, concierge, dining, events, and valet services. Such solutions paired with mobile devices and wearables can make workflows intelligent and seamless. As a result, employees can work efficiently and happily, customers can enjoy digital interactions that match their service expectations and enjoy their stay. Stratix and Samsung solve some of the most pressing issues that the hospitality industry face, including: Implementing technology Personalizing customer experiences Attracting and retaining employees This alliance pairs Samsung’s industry-leading technology for the hospitality industry with Stratix’s expertise in the solution design domain, lifecycle management and 24x7x365 support. Both the companies can: Educate hospitality companies through the knowledge and resources they need to develop and implement cutting-edge technology and create competitive differentiation Translate data and insights into usable information that helps tailor guest experiences, promotions, and loyalty programs to individual customers Provide employees with useful and easy-to-use tools that improve their productivity and make their lives easier "With customer expectations increasing and hospitality facing the same staffing challenges other industries are navigating, using mobile-driven digital transformation to improve productivity and enhance user experiences just makes sense, Our alliance with Samsung allows us to expand our strategic customer engagement model, and success in other industries with comparable use cases, to quickly bring transformative Managed Mobility Services to the hospitality industry." -Gina Daniel-Lee, Vice President, Strategic Alliances and Partnerships at Stratix. Together, Samsung and Stratix are delivering solutions that the hospitality industry desperately needs to create outstanding guest experiences.

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