Global Airline Trade Group Deals Massive Blow to Travel Agencies by Opposing Refunds

Skift | April 03, 2020

This isn’t the news travel agencies were hoping for. The International Air Transport Association has just dealt a fresh blow saying it is now backing member airlines’ moves to issue vouchers, not refunds, to cash-strapped travel agencies. “The message I have to deliver is not one that will provide comfort,” admitted Alexandre de Juniac, director general and CEO of the association, in an open letter sent on Friday. The association also wants the countries in which it operates its billing and settlement plan — the mechanism by which it channels vouchers and refunds back to travel agencies — to sign up to its proposal.

Spotlight

Located in Eastern Africa, Kenya lies astride the equator and shares its borders with Tanzania and Uganda.  The country boasts a warm humid climate with diverse ecosystems, from snow-capped mountains, semi-arid desert regions and rainforests, to acacia-studded savannah, flamingo lakes, white palm-fringed ocean beaches and coral reefs.

Spotlight

Located in Eastern Africa, Kenya lies astride the equator and shares its borders with Tanzania and Uganda.  The country boasts a warm humid climate with diverse ecosystems, from snow-capped mountains, semi-arid desert regions and rainforests, to acacia-studded savannah, flamingo lakes, white palm-fringed ocean beaches and coral reefs.

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INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

Trip.com Group Holds Traveler's Forum, Focusing on Content Marketing Innovation and Destination Development

Trip.com | August 19, 2022

Trip.com Group, a leading online travel service provider, held its annual Traveler's Forum (TF) in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province in central China, on August 18, 2022, focusing on travel content marketing innovation and destination development. The Traveler's Forum consists of three parts: International Travelers' Content Creator Forum, Travelers' Night, and a Music Festival & Lifestyle Fair. The forum offered cross-border communication opportunities to the tourism industry, experts, academics, and travel content creators.As a rapid-growing travel destination, Changsha is popular among influencers and KOLs, attracting millions of travelers from home and abroad. Jointly hosted by Changsha Municipal People's Government, the forum shared Changsha's development roadmap of building a vibrant travel destination through travel content marketing, technology, and integration of resources. "Changsha has become a stylish tourism destination, not only because of its fascinating history and culture but because the city is actively embracing innovation and building Internet-famous products. Changsha's inclusiveness and diversity will attract widespread attention and become a trendsetter." -Jane Sun, CEO of Trip.com Group Rungang Zhang, Deputy Chairman and Secretary General of the Chinese Tourism Association shared, "In recent years, with high internet attention, Changsha has rapidly grown into an internet-famous tourism destination. From Changsha's experience, I believe that travel content incubation and upgrade will be an essential pivot of the future destination development." Yong Tan, Deputy Secretary of the CPC Changsha Municipal Committee, said, With Trip.com Group's strong resource integration capabilities, Changsha is confident it can facilitate tourism transformation further and, in time, build a robust international tourism destination. Trip.com Group has been an essential strategic partner in Changsha's fast-growing tourism development. Leveraging Trip.com Group's strong resource integration capabilities and content marketing strategy, the city has rolled out various travel campaigns and products on Trip.com Group's platforms. For instance, Changsha Municipal Bureau of Culture, Tourism, Radio and Television, together with Trip.com Group, have launched consumption vouchers this year, accelerating travel recovery in the city. As part of the Group's Rural Revitalization Plan, Trip.com Group built a country retreat in the suburb of Changsha in 2021. Only a week after the retreat was built, the number of bookings surpassed the same period last year. Trip.com Group's Traveler's Forum has been held in various cities across China, including Lijiang, Chengdu, Shanghai, Xi'an, Chongqing, Guiyang, Anyang, and Sanya. Over 100,000 travelers have actively participated in the annual event, which has generated billions of online exposures. With the recovery of tourism following the pandemic, the forum showcased Trip.com Group's content marketing strategy. Through gathering high-quality content creators, holding special activities, and facilitating the interaction of experienced travelers, Trip.com Group aims to revitalize the tourism economy and reconnect with keen travelers in post-pandemic times and beyond.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY,BUSINESS TRAVEL

HRS Acquires Paypense, Enabling Widescale Digitized Payment Technology for Corporations and Employees

HRS | August 08, 2022

HRS, the leading Gobal corporate travel and payment technology platform, announced the acquisition of Germany-based Paypense, enhancing HRS’ growing compilation of efficient corporate payment offerings. Only two years since launch, Paypense’s open platform has already made inroads with a broad range of corporations, enabling employees to use digital payment technology to pay for all work-related purchases. This smarter solution ensures compliance to budgets while also capturing relevant data for auditing, steering and even sustainability metrics. “HRS Pay, reinforced by years of proprietary investments and our 2021 purchase of Itelya to propel the digital transformation of payment, is taking the next step in delivering an exceptional 'in destination experience' for corporate employees, Paypense provides intelligent spend management services for managers and employees alike, whether they are on the road for weeks at a time or supporting a one-day, off-site event that doesn’t require travel. This acquisition represents a new milestone for HRS Pay as we continue to focus on elevating employee satisfaction.” -Tobias Ragge, HRS CEO The employee satisfaction component is critical to driving the successful deployment and ongoing use of spend management technology. Recent research from the Global Business Travel Association, inclusive of feedback from 600+ procurement executives and nearly 2,500 business travelers, found that 85 percent of respondents said that the ease of completing expense reports, ease of expense approval process and speed of reimbursement are important to spend management.. Paypense’s Broad Array of Controls and Efficiencies Redefine Spend Management Leveraging automated intelligence and auto-approved, in-policy purchasing, Paypense dramatically reduces concerns about what items an employee may acquire. This elegant solution appeals to accounting and procurement managers, as Paypense effectively ensures the right amounts are spent on the right kind of purchases, every single time. The under-the-hood approach to managing virtual technology and secure connections to a company’s preferred banking institutions makes this seamless to employees who crave simplicity in all expense-related processes. Other Paypense highlights include: The provision of pre-approved budgets in real time to individual employees, groups, or job candidates via Paypense’s patented "matrix approval engine.” Functionality also allows for the approval and dispensing of increased allocations for emergency scenarios; Mobile app capabilities that facilitate tracked purchases by the employees, without him/her ever having to use their own funds; Automated receipt acquisition for common online portals used by employees, including air, rail, hotel, auto, ridesharing, phone and other prominent suppliers; and Leveraging supplier and localized data, Paypense captures the CO2 emissions of individual expenses, a vital element for companies taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint. “With our open platform, we’ve introduced a unique differentiator for the provision of virtual credit cards for pre-approved expenses, It’s clear from our industry engagement that there is an appreciation for our approach. We’re working in concert with expense providers and financial institutions, not competing with them as we transition from expense management to spend management. And with all parties squarely focusing on enhancing the employee experience, we’re increasing satisfaction even as we uncover new avenues of payment efficiency.” -Christopher Hecht, founder and CEO of Paypense Complemented by this acquisition, HRS Pay now offers truly holistic spend management solutions covering not only travel-related spend, but also non-travel, localized spend that accounts for significant expenses,” said Kurt Knackstedt, Chief Growth Officer for HRS Pay. “With the full integration of Paypense, our complete end-to-end spend management platform provides unmatched visibility of level-3 data, multi-category invoice digitization, and superior VAT reclaim automation – all available globally via any payment provider. Given these cumulative capabilities, HRS Pay is uniquely positioned to deliver the consummate payment solution for Fortune 500 multi-national companies. Paypense’s employees will officially become HRS Pay employees when the acquisition formally closes in August. Christopher Hecht will join the HRS Pay team as Chief Product Officer, overseeing development and working collaboratively with clients, partners and employees to enrich HRS Pay solutions moving forward. HRS Pay solutions will be featured at the upcoming Global Business Travel Association conference in San Diego on August 14-17 at the HRS booth (# 3229). Paypense is also one of an exclusive few new technologies to be selected for the Innovate event in New York City on October 24. About HRS HRS is reinventing the way businesses and governments work, stay and pay in today’s dynamic global marketplace. HRS’ advanced platform technology is extending its reach beyond hospitality to meetings, office space management, payment efficiency and crisis recovery. Beyond cost savings in the global post-pandemic economy, HRS clients gain from an unrivaled focus on essential aspects including safety, security and satisfaction. HRS is also recognized for its award-winning Green Stay Initiative, technology that helps corporate hotel programs achieve their NetZero targets, and its groundbreaking Crew & Passengers Solution, which leverages automation to elevate experiences for air and rail operations. Founded in 1972, HRS works with 35 percent of the global Fortune 500, as well as the world’s leading hotel chains, regional hospitality groups and payment providers. More information at www.hrs.com/enterprise.

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AIRLINES AND AIRPORTS

Vietnam Airlines extends long-standing relationship with Sabre as the carrier continues to play significant role in Vietnam’s tourism resurgence

Vietnam Airlines | September 06, 2022

Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR), a leading software and technology provider that powers the global travel industry, today announced an extended distribution agreement with Vietnamese flag carrier Vietnam Airlines. The new deal means that Vietnam Airlines will continue to distribute its content to the large network of travel agents through Sabre’s extensive travel marketplace. The agreement further strengthens Sabre’s presence in the Vietnam aviation marketplace and the relationship between Sabre and Vietnam Airlines. In addition to Sabre’s Global Distribution system (GDS), the Hanoi-based carrier also uses a comprehensive suite of SabreSonic Passenger Service System (PSS) technology including reservation and ticketing, inventory and departure control solutions. Vietnam Airlines also leverages Sabre’s Revenue Optimizer to maximize revenue using near-real time network partner and comprehensive passenger revenue performance data as well as further Sabre solutions to enable the carrier to provide travelers with a premium personalized experience. “The aviation industry has evolved rapidly in recent years, and we highly appreciate Sabre’s wide-ranging, robust, scalable technological solutions for having brought significant value to Vietnam Airlines. Sabre’s robust global marketplace has supported Vietnam Airlines efficiently in reaching travelers worldwide following the easing of travel restrictions in Vietnam, We also appreciate the commitment of Sabre in supporting the recovery and growth of Vietnam Airlines as well as the Vietnam travel industry during and after Covid-19 pandemic. Today, we’re very happy to reaffirm our long-standing partnership that our two corporations have enjoyed for over a decade, and look forward to new successes in the future.” -Le Hong Ha, CEO, Vietnam Airlines. The expanded distribution agreement between Sabre and Vietnam Airlines was signed between Mr. Trinh Ngoc Thanh, Vietnam Airlines’ Executive Vice President and Sabre’s Vice President, Regional General Manager, Asia Pacific, Travel Solutions Agency Sales, Mr. Rakesh Narayanan at Vietnam Airlines’ headquarters in Hanoi. Operating across dozens of domestic and international destinations, Vietnam Airlines continues to ramp up operations following the re-opening of Vietnam’s borders to international travelers earlier this year. The carrier is playing a key role in Vietnam’s aim to push tourist arrivals to five million this year, including attracting tourists from key markets including India, the US, Europe and the Middle East. “The fact that we’re able to be in Vietnam to meet our valued partners at Vietnam Airlines and sign this agreement in person is testament to the strong recovery we are seeing across all sectors of the travel industry, This agreement demonstrates our clear commitment to supporting the rapid recovery and future growth of the Vietnam travel industry. We’re excited that Sabre will continue to bring significant value to Vietnam Airlines at this critical time for Vietnam’s aviation market and we look forward to continuing to enable the carrier to connect the world to some of Asia’s most exciting destinations.” -Sean Menke, Chair of the Board and CEO, Sabre. About Sabre Corporation   Sabre Corporation is a leading software and technology company that powers the global travel industry, serving a wide range of travel companies including airlines, hoteliers, travel agencies and other suppliers. The company provides retailing, distribution and fulfilment solutions that help its customers operate more efficiently, drive revenue and offer personalized traveler experiences. Through its leading travel marketplace, Sabre connects travel suppliers with buyers from around the globe. Sabre’s technology platform manages more than $260B worth of global travel spend annually. Headquartered in Southlake, Texas, USA, Sabre serves customers in more than 160 countries around the world. For more information visit www.sabre.com. About Vietnam Airlines Vietnam Airlines – a member of SkyTeam Alliance – is the flag carrier of Vietnam and the major carrier in South East Asia. Vietnam Airlines provides air transport services on over 100 routes to more than 20 domestic and 30 international destinations. Operating a modern fleet of more than 100 aircraft, Vietnam Airlines is the first airline in Asia-Pacific to simultaneously operate modern, wide-body aircraft Boeing 787 and Airbus A350. Vietnam Airlines takes great pride in offering its passengers consistent on-time-performance, absolute safety, high quality services embedded with Vietnamese cultural identity. Vietnam Airlines has maintained Skytrax’s 4-star service quality for years and is gradually upgrading to 5-star standard.

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