CWT | May 29, 2020
CWT, the B2B4E travel management platform, has announced expanded integration with Concur Travel, the leading brand for expense, invoice, and travel management solutions. CWT clients using Concur Travel can now select RoomIt by CWT, its hotel distribution division, as their exclusive source of hotel content. Launching in late May 2020, with a phased roll-out through the end of the year, CWT clients using Concur Travel can have all hotel content from RoomIt. As and when clients begin to look to their future travel plans, they will be able to access even more savings as well as additional reporting capabilities.
Cobalt Robotics , Bear Robotics | August 24, 2021
The pandemic upended many sectors with mass layoffs at the beginning of COVID-19 and ended with record labor shortages. The hospitality sector in particular was deeply hit with massive unemployment gaps that ran well above the national unemployment rate during the pandemic. While other industries have started on the road to recovery, the hospitality industry is still 2.8 million jobs shy of where it was in February 2020.
With more than 60% of Americans willing to travel again, 55% of U.S. companies planning to resume business travel within the next three months and more than a third of current hospitality workers planning to exit the industry, the hotel industry is in a bind.
Long-term labor solutions in the area are needed to meet the rising demand for travel and seismic shifts in the hospitality workforce. This is where 3D camera-equipped robots can play a role. Robots are some of the most impactful forms of hospitality technology hoteliers can invest in to maintain efficiency, serve guests and aid understaffed operations.
Solving staffing shortages
From retail stores to the hospitality realm, customer-facing industries are already solving staffing shortages and improving operations through robots equipped with 3D imaging sensors. For example, restaurants have added self-navigating robots for food delivery and table bussing while grocery chains have discovered that robots can assist in cleaning, providing stock management alerts and checkout duties.
These tasks are typically limited in their customer-facing duties but are repetitive and time-consuming activities that are easily programmed into digital sidekicks. This makes robots an ideal solution to the staffing shortages many hotel properties are experiencing. Properties of all sizes are starting to realize the practical uses for service robots - or “co-bots,” which work alongside humans to extend and improve performance, taking the burden off human workers so they can handle more demanding responsibilities.
A popular function behind the implementation of 3D camera-embedded robots is the ability to increase self-service functionality, increase convenience and improve customer experiences for guests. Mobile robots can perform navigation tasks that include guiding guests to their rooms and delivering commonly requested room service items such as pillows, blankets, towels and toiletries. They can even operate as roving security guards throughout the property.
3D facial authorization, like the technology used to unlock your smartphone, can be employed to recognize guests and address them by name, adding a sense of personalization and high-class service. Meanwhile, guests can say goodbye to fumbling for key cards, and hotel staff no longer have to worry about reprinting numerous key cards.
Housekeeping and sanitization may be the most demanded and high-ROI use of 3D robots. Robots can manage in-room and common area cleaning tasks such as vacuuming and sanitation, while specially equipped units can completely disinfect high-touch areas and items. Equipped with a UV light and disinfectant sprays, these popular cleaning companions can eliminate germs off the surface of elevator buttons, doorknobs and TV remotes in just seconds.
Safety and efficiency of 3D tech
3D cameras are the key to robots handling tasks alongside human workers. 3D camera technology enables mobile robots to identify and avoid obstacles and people with extreme accuracy. The camera technology can accurately perceive depth to navigate highly populated space: From high foot traffic in hallways to luggage and bags stacked in lobbies, 3D robots can navigate through it all. Using their depth-sensing capabilities, they can also spot anomalies like an open hallway door or atypical presence of individuals in a given space.
When combined with SLAM (Simultaneous Location and Mapping), the technology that scans and creates a digital map of the space, self-propelled 3D service bots can deliver food, drinks and other amenities anywhere within the hotel property. No matter the obstacle, SLAM-supported 3D can seamlessly navigate and deliver guests what they need.
Cobalt Robotics and Bear Robotics are two companies utilizing 3D camera technology in the hospitality robotics sector. Cobalt Robotics, a U.S.-based company, develops 3D camera-equipped robots available for security, facilities management and concierge services. Bear Robotics offers robots specializing in food service deployments. The cost of utilizing robot workers in these instances is often comparable or less than an hourly worker. Combine these savings with the elimination of sick days, injuries or other disruptions and hotel managers are left with a more cost-effective way to handle routine tasks.
Another vital form of ROI in employing 3D robots in hotels is that they can collect data on guest preferences, facility status and upkeep, security and more. This information is critical in helping hotels run more efficiently and with a greater focus on customer satisfaction.
The future of hotels
The pandemic has created vast uncertainty for the hospitality industry. It remains to be seen how guest bookings and behaviors, hospitality economics or competitive activity will change for the long-haul post-pandemic.
What is certain, however, is that labor will be forever impacted - and that technology, specifically reliable and multifunctional robots, will be part of the future of hotels.
United Airlines & Virgin Australia Group | December 14, 2021
United and Virgin Australia Group announced today a new partnership that will enhance the travel experience between Australia and the Americas. This partnership will add more benefits for both MileagePlus and Velocity Frequent Flyer members as well as access to more one-stop connections to cities across the United States, Australia, Mexico, the Caribbean, and South America. The agreement, which is subject to government approval, is set to roll out starting in early 2022.Australia has always been a key part of United's network as demonstrated by United being the only carrier to maintain passenger service between the U.S. and Australia throughout the pandemic. In addition, United offers more flights to Australia than any other U.S. carrier and now extends its presence by adding Virgin Australia Group's comprehensive network.
"The United States and Australia share a special bond and I'm especially proud that United was the only airline to maintain a vital link between these two countries throughout the pandemic,Looking ahead, Virgin Australia is the perfect partner for United. Our partnership provides considerable commercial value for both airlines and a shared commitment to offer the best travel experience for our customers."
-United CEO Scott Kirby.
United currently offers daily direct flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Sydney, while other services including flights from Houston and direct services to Melbourne are expected to resume later in 2022. Under this new partnership, United's customers will now have access to top Australian destinations including Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
In addition to the ability to redeem and earn points/miles, eligible premier MileagePlus and Velocity members will also receive the following benefits when flying on United and Virgin Australia worldwide:
Priority baggage delivery and additional baggage check allowance
Priority security clearance
The partnership will also triple Virgin Australia's reach into the U.S., with customers accessing United's vast domestic and international network, connecting at United's multiple Australian gateways.
The partnership is another significant customer enhancement for the relaunched Virgin Australia, that will also see the airline resume the sale of codeshare flights at virginaustralia.com, starting with United services in early 2022, followed by the airline's other international partners. Virgin Australia first paused the sale of codeshare flights on its website at the height of the pandemic, and today's announcement will open a new gateway for travel between Australia and the U.S. and beyond.
"We are grateful to have such a strong partner in United,They have proudly been one of Australia's most loyal and long serving aviation partners and their market strength both to Australia and in the United States brings great value to our guests. We look forward to innovating together on behalf of our guests to ensure they have the very best travel experiences to over 90 destinations in the U.S."
-Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.
Committed to Ensuring a Safe Journey
United is committed to putting health and safety at the forefront of every customer's journey, with the goal of delivering an industry-leading standard of cleanliness through its United CleanPlus SM program. United has teamed up with Clorox and Cleveland Clinic to redefine cleaning and health safety procedures from check-in to landing and has implemented more than a dozen new policies, protocols and innovations designed with the safety of customers and employees in mind. To manage entry requirements in different destinations, and find places to get tests, customer can visit United's Travel Ready Center.
United is more focused than ever on its commitment to customers and employees. In addition to today's announcement, United has recently:
Launched an ambitious plan to transform the United customer experience by adding and upgrading hundreds of aircraft as well as investing in features like larger overhead bins, seatback entertainment in every seat and the industry's fastest available Wi-Fi.
Announced a goal to create 25,000 unionized jobs by 2026 that includes careers as pilots, flight attendants, agents, technicians, and dispatchers.
Announced that United will train at least 5,000 pilots by 2030 through the United Aviate Academy, with the plan of at least half being women and people of color.
Required all U.S. employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
Became the first airline to offer customers the ability to check their destination's travel requirements, schedule COVID-19 tests and more on its mobile app and website.
Invested in emerging technologies that are designed to decarbonize air travel, like an agreement to work with urban air mobility company Archer, an investment in aircraft startup Heart Aerospace and a purchase agreement with Boom Supersonic.
Committed to going 100% green by 2050 by reducing 100% of our greenhouse gas emissions without relying on traditional carbon offsets, including a recent agreement to purchase one and a half times the amount of all of the rest of the world's airlines' publicly announced Sustainable Aviation Fuel commitments combined.
Eliminated change fees for all economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S.
United's shared purpose is "Connecting People. Uniting the World." In 2019, United and United Express® carriers operated more than 1.7 million flights carrying more than 162 million customers. United has the most comprehensive route network among North American carriers, including U.S. mainland hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. For more about how to join the United team, please visit united.com/careers and more information about the company is at united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc. is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol "UAL".
About Virgin Australia
Virgin Australia Group is a major Australian airline operating scheduled domestic and short-haul international flights, charter and cargo services, and the award-winning loyalty program Velocity Frequent Flyer.The Group has been a competitor in the Australian aviation landscape for more than 20 years, carrying tens of millions of passengers in that time and operates three seating choices; Economy, Economy X (extra leg room Economy) and Business Class.Virgin Australia is now embarking on an exciting new chapter. In September 2020, US private equity firm Bain Capital acquired Virgin Australia and relaunched it as a mid-market carrier with a renewed focus on its heartland customer. Since that time the airline has simplified its fleet structure to an all-Boeing 737 fleet and has made significant investments in technology and customer experience. Virgin Australia is focussed on creating great experiences and has won many awards over the years including Best Cabin Crew, Best Domestic Airline and Best Economy Class. Velocity Frequent Flyer has also scooped a wealth of prestigious gongs including the Freddie Awards Best Program of the Year and Best Redemption Ability for Asia/Middle East and Oceania.+