Huawei | August 26, 2021
As part of its move away from hardware, Huawei is scaling up its cloud services and startup support in Asia Pacific and, while travel and hospitality is not top of mind yet, its move into this vertical seems inevitable with the expansion of its headquarters in Singapore and a recent first move in the Middle East.
Huawei, facing pressure in Western markets and a slowdown in consumer business amid U.S. sanctions, has been steadily moving its focus away from manufacturing to become a tech and software company that believes “deeply in the power of digital technology to provide fresh solutions to the problems the world is facing right now.
"We will keep on innovating to help build a low-carbon, intelligent world,” said Eric Xu, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman, at the release of business results for the first half earlier this month.
In the Middle East, travel marketplace Wego is the first travel player to sign a partnership with Huawei’s Petal Search to integrate the travel app into Huawei smartphones.
“The world of travel and hospitality has entered a new era of m-commerce, as more than 60% of travellers rely entirely on smartphone applications when making their travel plans. Pre-installing the Wego app into smartphones is part of our continuous efforts to enable these travellers to get the best deals and options when shopping for their holiday,” says Mamoun Hmedan, Wego managing director for MENA and India.
From May, all Huawei smartphones EMUI 5 and above bundled with the Wego app will be made available across stores in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Pakistan.
“Over the last few years, we have been noticing a significant rise in the number of Wego users on Huawei devices. Interestingly, it has also been noted that Huawei smartphone users tend to spend more on travel than the average Android user,” says Hmedan.
In the startup space, Huawei announced its plan to invest $100 million in the ecosystem, with the funds going towards its Spark Program in the Asia Pacific region over the next three years.
Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand are the priority markets and at the Huawei Cloud Spark Founders Summit in July, it announced the programme would develop four additional startup hubs – Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.
The overarching aim is to recruit a total of 1,000 startups into the Spark accelerator program and shaping 100 of them into scaleups.
Speaking at the Summit, Huawei senior vice president and board member Catherine Chen said 34 years ago, Huawei was a startup with just $5,000 of registered capital.
“Recently, we have been thinking: How can we leverage our experience and resources to help more startups address their challenges? Doing so would allow them to seize the opportunities posed by digital transformation, achieve business success, and develop more innovative products and solutions for the world.”
Alexis Lee, Spark program manager at Huawei Cloud and AI Asia Pacific, who joined the team in January, told WebInTravel that 40 startups came through in the first cohort and about eight to 10 were identified to enter the “Spark Fire” programme, an accelerator.
Zhang Ping’an, senior vice president of Huawei, CEO of Huawei Cloud BU, and president of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service, announced at the Summit that “we have already helped four of these startups launch new products and completely transform their businesses, while helping eight enter new markets”.
It is currently in the midst of selecting the second cohort – entries closed last week.
Lee, who previously worked in the investor space and was at Grab for two years, said how Huawei differentiated from other accelerators in Singapore is in its business development strength. “We introduce startups to clients, obviously in China, as well as global. China is obviously the most attractive market for scale up.”
It does not take equity, rather it invests in kind, offering cloud infrastructure support in credits as well as a strong mentoring and investor network. “The programme is about building up the startup community, and sharing our resources. We have the tech know-how and the client network to help startups scale.”
Areas of interest include anything to do with AI, ML or 5G and industry verticals include fintech, logistics, smart cities, ad tech and insurance tech.
Huawei says its global HMS ecosystem is the world’s third largest mobile app ecosystem, serving 4.5 million developers in over 170 countries and regions. The goal is to cultivate over 100,000 HMS cloud-native developers in Asia Pacific over three years. Huawei Cloud is second in China and fifth in the global IaaS market.
Expedia Group & Qtech Software | April 28, 2022
Expedia Group and Qtech Software announced an expanded collaboration to deliver access to Expedia Group's travel supply to travel businesses globally through Qtech's flagship technology platform, OTRAMS GO.
Owing to this collaboration, travel firms of all sizes now have more access to premium hotel content and technology via the OTRAMS GO platform, enabling them to increase revenue, expand their businesses, and improve the travel ecosystem's efficiency.
For many travel firms, investing in technology that supports online booking experiences is also a problem. Qtech's OTRAMS GO addresses this issue by charging no upfront fees and a minimal per-transaction fee. With the addition of Expedia Group's enormous hotel inventory, Qtech's clients will be able to provide travelers with high-quality hotel materials at a fair price.
"OTRAMS GO revolutionized technology adoption for travel businesses by making it more affordable and accessible. Access to Expedia Group's hotel supply will help further improve the profitability and scalability of our customers. We are working towards helping the travel industry bounce back stronger. This is a major step towards the realization of that vision."
-Paresh Parihar, the CEO and managing director of Qtech Software
OTRAMS GO is a comprehensive travel Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform that integrates trip booking systems, supplier interfaces, agent management, API redistribution, and dynamic packaging into a single, easy interface.
Head of Product Development for OTRAMS GO Jignesh Modi said, We are already operating with Expedia Group's Rapid 3 API, gaining access to the company's competitive accommodation rates and availability from a portfolio of more than 700,000 properties with 35 different property types in more than 25,000 destinations worldwide. This integration enables superfast search results and rich content that will enhance the overall booking experience as well.
Global Travel Collection | October 19, 2021
As countries reopen their borders and international air travel resumes, pent-up demand for hard-earned vacations is driving new luxury travel trends. Travel advisors and experts from the Global Travel Collection (GTC) recently shared key insights from travel bookings at "Elevate," the international virtual conference and trade show that brought together luxury travel advisors with 300 of the industry's leading luxury travel suppliers.
Travel advisors from All Star Travel Group, Andrew Harper, Colletts Travel, In The Know Experiences, Protravel International, R. Crusoe & Son and Tzell Travel Group, along with advisors from ALTOUR, a sister company of GTC at Internova Travel Group, comprise the largest selling force for luxury travel.
Luxury Travel Planning
Luxury is being redefined. Luxury travel advisor Maya George of Tzell Travel Group notes luxury travel is now more than expensive five-star hotels and first-class flights. It's the total package from beginning to end, and the connections made through the travel experience.
Planning for travel is now done farther out. Tiffany Bowne of All Star Travel Group shares that she's already booking summer and fall 2022 trips for clients, many of whom are also using a travel advisor for the first time. They're also booking multiple luxury trips at a time.
Travelers are spending more. It's been almost two years since some clients have taken a trip, said Scott Davis of ALTOUR, so they're willing to pay more for their next vacation.
Brazil is trending worldwide, according to Wagner Barros of Colletts Travel. "Some places in Brazil remind travelers of the Maldives," he says.
Exotic, far-off destinations are still in demand. Travelers are traveling to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for sports fishing, said luxury travel advisor Paulette Darensburg of Protravel International. Maya George adds, there's also a huge buzz around Zanzibar and Roatan, Honduras.
Travelers still flock to the Caribbean and Mexico for privacy. Amy Blackenship of ALTOUR explains that private villas are plentiful here, and these destinations are reached easily by private air.
Safety and ease of entry are paramount. Luxury travel advisor Leslie Tillem of Tzell Travel Group says clients are constantly asking questions about travel requirements and health and safety protocols. This is expected to continue well into the next few years.
People want something different. Lily Szemplinski of In The Know Experiences shares clients want all the details of their trips taken care of so they can seek out new experiences that are inspiring and enlightening.
Luxury travel is evolving in ways that connect people with luxury products. Kamala Cummings of In The Know Experiences notes her clients are looking at travel as a means to rejuvenate their souls. They're seeking experiences and accommodations that are infused with gastronomy, art and fashion.
Luxury travelers are also seeking sustainability. Wagner Barros continues this is a trend that is going to stay as clients are increasingly asking for eco-friendly hotels and operators.
Luxury is not necessarily opulent hotels anymore. It is becoming more experiential and cultural, based within offerings at a property and within the destination itself, shares Stephen Scott, Protravel International.
Small boutique resorts and villas offer an ideal escape. Small boutique resorts and villas are the most sought-after accommodations, along with private yachts, notes Linda Seargent of Tzell Travel Group. Travelers want access to resort amenities but with the private space.
Domestically, luxury clients are looking for properties outside of major cities. What the pandemic has shown is we need more hotels in these areas, shares Ashley Les of Protravel International.
Space travel is piquing interest. Greg Kiep of Protravel International notes space travel is something that, though still new to the luxury travel space, will continue to gain interest over the next five years.
More are opting for trains over flights. Quality alone time is underestimated, says Maya George. Some travelers are preferring to take longer routes or different methods of travel, such as long, scenic train rides, to get away.
Cruising makes a big comeback. There is heightened interest in Luxury River cruising, particularly in Europe, for 2022 and 2023, comments Paulette Darensburg. World cruises are selling out in record time, notes Scott Davis.
"Our travel advisors are trusted counsellors with insider knowledge of emerging trends in the luxury travel space, and they know how to deliver these experiences to their clients seamlessly. They are becoming more of a concierge with their service levels. For the ultra-luxury clientele, these travel advisors travel with their clients to ensure everything is done correctly. They look after their travelers every step of the way, saving clients the time and hassle of having to make any necessary changes to their itinerary on their own."
Angie Licea, President of Global Travel Collection
Internova Travel Group recently launched its "Go Human. Book Human." advertising campaign to promote the value of a travel advisor as the complexity of travel continues in the wake of the pandemic. At the heart of the campaign is an immersive web experience on BookHuman.Travel that connects consumers directly with travel advisors from Protravel International, Tzell Travel Group and Andrew Harper Travel, travel brands of Global Travel Collection, the luxury and premium division of Internova.
About Global Travel Collection:
Global Travel Collection (GTC), a division of Internova Travel Group, is the world's largest collection of international luxury travel agencies, including the well-established networks of Protravel International, Tzell Travel Group, and Colletts Travel, as well as Andrew Harper, In the Know Experiences, All Star Travel Group and R. Crusoe & Son. GTC advisors and agencies are industry leaders in providing premium travel services to leisure travelers, corporate executives and the entertainment industry. The combined global reach and leverage translates into value, recognition, and preferential treatment for its world travelers.
About Internova Travel Group:
Internova Travel Group is one of the largest travel services companies in the world with a collection of leading brands delivering high-touch, personal travel expertise to leisure and corporate clients. Internova manages leisure, business and franchise firms through a portfolio of distinctive divisions. Internova represents more than 62,000 travel advisors in over 6,000 company-owned and affiliated locations predominantly in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, with a presence in more than 80 countries.