TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

Qatar Airways Steps towards offering Full Touchless In-flight Technology to Allay Post-Covid Travel Concerns

Qatar Airways | February 19, 2021

Qatar Airways is featuring its steps towards offering full touchless in-flight technology onboard its aircraft in a further indication of how airlines are adapting their product and marketing in light of customer sensitivities to flying in the post-pandemic environment.

The Gulf carrier is introducing technology enabling passengers to navigate the onboard IFE across its Airbus A350 fleet utilizing their own electronic devices, just as the offering the option to utilize their own headphones to get to access onboard through Bluetooth technology on its Boeing 787 fleet.

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker says: “The introduction of the state-of-the-art zero-touch technology, and enabling passengers to use their personal Bluetooth headset on board is an important step in taking our already rigorous and stringent Covid-19 precautions to another level, limiting passenger surface contact and preventing any possible spread of infection on board.

“We hope it provides yet further assurance of the safety of air travel, as well as offering passengers on board increased confidence that they are enjoying the most consistently advanced customer experience available in the sky.”

Spotlight

Understanding what customers really want is crucial to any successful business. But imagine if we could go a stage further; if as an industry we could discover what genuinely shapes travel experiences, or measure what travellers value most and in turn how their expectations could and should be better met.

Spotlight

Understanding what customers really want is crucial to any successful business. But imagine if we could go a stage further; if as an industry we could discover what genuinely shapes travel experiences, or measure what travellers value most and in turn how their expectations could and should be better met.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

Agoda and Alipay+ Expand on Their Partnership to Offer Greater Rewards to Travelers Through Digital Payment Methods

Agoda and Alipay+ | August 09, 2022

Agoda and Alipay+ announced a new partnership that will leverage Alipay+ solutions on the Agoda platform for better customer benefits and rewards. This is in addition to the existing integration of multiple digital wallets, namely the AlipayHK, GCash and TrueMoney, through Alipay+ on Agoda’s platforms.With this new partnership, multiple Alipay+ marketing solutions, including Alipay+ Rewards and its in-cashier marketing services, can be used for discounts distribution and redemption on Agoda. This enables Agoda to enhance its transaction conversion rate, while travelers can enjoy great returns in countries and regions like Hong Kong SAR of China, the Philippines, and Thailand – with the possibility of more regions to come in the future. As the global economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the online travel industry has seen a vigorous rebound. In some key countries across the region, bookings have increased nearly tenfold since the start of the year, according to Agoda data and this number is only expected to increase. “As we gear up for the return to travel, we want to offer our customers greater choice and flexibility in their bookings. The pandemic has greatly accelerated the digitisation of travel and we are committed to keeping with the times as we continue to onboard more diverse modes of payments globally. We value this partnership with Alipay+ as it helps us offer more benefits to the end user through the clever integration of new payment solutions and rewards programs – allowing us to reach out to and target a wider network of customers.” -Damien Pfirsch, CCO, Agoda. Introduced by Ant Group in 2020, Alipay+ is a suite of global cross-border digital payments and marketing solutions designed to enable businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, to process a wide range of mobile payment methods and reach hundreds of millions of regional and global consumers. Other leading e-wallets supported by Alipay+ include Boost (Malaysia), Rabbit LINE Pay (Thailand), Touch 'n Go (Malaysia), Kakao Pay (South Korea), Klarna (Europe) and more. “We are glad to reach this new partnership with Agoda to support the recovery of the travel industry from the pandemic. With innovative payment and marketing solutions, Alipay+ is committed to helping merchants reach global consumers as a cross-border economic connector and allow consumers to make payments on global platforms with their preferred digital wallets.” -Jing Yin, General Manager of Global Strategic Accounts of International Business Group at Ant Group Agoda has partnered with Ant Group and integrated Alipay as a payment option in the Chinese market as early as 2013. Since early 2022, Agoda has been integrating Alipay+ payment solutions to accept payments through multiple digital wallets across Asia. On July 4, Agoda also worked with Alipay+ to launch a Brand Day campaign in the Philippines market. About Agoda Agoda helps anyone travel anywhere with its great value deals on a global network of 2.7M hotels and holiday properties worldwide, plus flights, airport transfers and more. Agoda.com and the Agoda mobile app are available in 39 languages and supported by 24/7 customer support. Headquartered in Singapore, Agoda is part of Booking Holdings (Nasdaq: BKNG) and employs more than 4,800 staff in 32 markets, dedicated to leveraging best-in-class technology to make travel even easier. About Alipay+ Alipay+ provides global cross-border digital payments and marketing solutions that enable global e-wallets and merchant partners, especially small and medium-sized businesses, to better serve their users and customers. Alipay+ is introduced by Ant Group, the owner and operator of Alipay. As one of the world’s leading digital payment platforms, Alipay serves hundreds of millions of users by connecting them with merchants and partner financial institutions that offer inclusive financial services and digital daily life services.

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DESTINATION AND TOURISM,BUSINESS TRAVEL

EBG Acquires Undercover Tourist

EBG | June 30, 2022

EBG, one of the rapidly growing e-commerce solutions providers in the U.S. specializing in entertainment and travel, is acquiring Undercover Tourist, a privately held successful B2C online travel marketplace in the country. It specializes in theme parks and attractions. “With the addition of the Undercover Tourist platform to the EBG portfolio, we are gaining a strong consumer brand with a loyal customer following along with a robust knowledge base of engaging content for theme park vacations. We look forward to collaborating with the Undercover Tourist team to expand the platform and to help our supplier partners increase their reach,” -EBG CEO and Founder Brett Reizen. We are excited for Undercover Tourist to take this big leap, which is poised for growth and national product expansion and support as part of EBG’s network. I’m so proud of what the team has built over the years and the future offers amazing opportunities fueled by EBG's insight and guidance, explained Undercover Tourist CEO and Founder Ian Ford. The acquisition complements EBG's current offerings and will broaden EBG's portfolio to serve the B2C market while also providing timely and engaging content such as trip planning advice, travel tips, and more. The Undercover Tourist brand and platform will remain a separate business unit, with product offerings expanding nationally. EBG powers a diverse portfolio of technology solutions and operates a network of employer and membership-based platforms that reach a captive audience, providing leading brands with new distribution channels. The EBG network reaches over 100 million users through participating companies and closed-loop affinity and membership groups. Undercover Tourist, a travel website and theme park expert founded in 2000, has sold over 25 million theme park admission tickets to popular destinations and attractions such as Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios Hollywood, SeaWorld Parks, LEGOLAND Parks, and others. Along with saving time and money on attraction tickets, hotels, and car rentals, Undercover Tourist provides free vacation planning tools such as crowd calendars, park planning apps, and more.

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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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