COMMERCIAL TRAVEL

VacationRenter Upgrades Platform, Gets New Partners

VacationRenter | May 26, 2022

VacationRenter Upgrades Platform
VacationRenter, the fastest-growing vacation rental search engine, has enhanced its global inventory expansion. It offers full site translations, personalized travel inspiration and traveler resources, and more.

"Researching and booking vacation rentals can be frustrating and time-consuming. Our platform helps make the experience easier, We are always working on making our site better. Our latest upgrades focus on improving the user experience for our international customers, as well as giving all customers more information and tools to quickly find the perfect rental."

-CEO Heath Hammett

An overview of the platform upgrades:

 Customer-Forward Improvements
These improvements include streamlining the process of finding the perfect vacation rental. It delivers priority updates, price alerts, personalized travel inspiration, upgraded search and usability, and a user-friendly design.

New and Expanded Inventory
In partnership with Interhome, VacationRenter now offers more than 30, 000 vacation rentals in the U.S and Europe. These rental homes and apartments add to the convenience in travel destinations such as Myrtle Beach, SC, and Madrid, Spain. VacationRenter has also expanded its partnership with Plum Guide. As a result, customers can easily research Plum Guide’s high-quality homes across Europe and the U.S.

Internationalization
VacationRenter has launched full site translations in French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish and German for global travelers. Additionally, it has also enhanced key information for almost 6, 000 locations across the globe, including FAQs and details on must-see attractions.

 Up-to-Date Traveler Resources
The new Traveler Resource Center gives travelers the correct destination and even property-specific information. It also includes COVID-related restrictions and guidelines. Apart from this, the new VacationRenter’s Travel Trends pages display booking trends and average nightly prices. This data gives insight into traveler behaviors for the ones in the travel industry, such as homeowners, property managers and travel reporters.

VacationRenter is bracing up for travel to make a comeback for both domestic and international U.S travelers, who are seven times more likely to resume travel at home.

Spotlight

These are easy steps for elderly travelers to make all the arrangement before the trip and to have a wonderful voyage.

Spotlight

These are easy steps for elderly travelers to make all the arrangement before the trip and to have a wonderful voyage.

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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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HOSPITALITY TRENDS

Capital Square and Method Co. Announce Groundbreaking of New ROOST Apartment Hotel in Charleston

Capital Square | July 22, 2022

Capital Square, one of the nation's leading sponsors of tax-advantaged real estate investments and an active developer of multifamily communities, and Method Co., a real estate management, development and design company rooted in hospitality, today held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new design-forward, 50-unit development bridging the boutique hotel experience with apartment-style living, located at 529 King Street in Charleston's historic downtown. The $61 million project designed by acclaimed Morris Adjmi Architects will feature 52,700 square feet of space comprising a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment hotel units, a rooftop lounge, and 27,700 square feet of rentable space. Method Co. will operate the property's rooftop lounge, drawing on significant experience in food and beverage operations to create a space that serves both as an amenity to guests and locals. Attendees included Capital Square executives Louis Rogers, founder and CEO, and Whitson Huffman, chief strategy and investment officer; Method Co.'s CEO and co-founder, Randall Cook, and president and co-founder, David Grasso; and Kathy Crawford, regional director of the Office of U.S. Senator Tim Scott (S.C.). With construction now underway, the hotel property is slated for completion in early 2024. "Capital Square is an active developer of luxury properties in growing markets within the Southeast and we couldn't be more pleased to begin construction on our inaugural project in Charleston, Charleston is a premier market, home to a growing community of high-income families and one of the nation's most popular tourist destinations. 529 King Street will contribute to this legacy and become a premier destination for local residents and tourists alike." -Whitson Huffman, chief strategy and investment officer The property will be the city's first high-design, extended-stay hotel concept blending the comfort and practicality of an apartment with the amenities and design of a boutique hotel, creating a temporary living environment ideally suited for a long-term stay. "We are thrilled to break ground on our first ROOST Apartment Hotel in South Carolina and our second project in the city of Charleston, ROOST will offer guests in Charleston a comfortable stay in a beautifully designed apartment that feels like a home and the flexibility to stay a few nights or a few months. The building's design by Morris Adjmi Architects is outstanding; it will be a fitting complement to the classic architectural charm of Charleston." -David Grasso, President and Co-Founder of Method Co. Located in the highly sought-after "Upper King" section of downtown Charleston, which is home to a concentration of luxury retail stores, restaurants and nightlife, the new apartment hotel will serve as an ideal accommodation for the city's high volume of annual visitors. The Upper King Street neighborhood also supports a burgeoning tech and start-up scene and represents a growth corridor and exceptional demand generator for higher-end residential and hotel development. About ROOST Apartment Hotel ROOST Apartment Hotel is a high-design boutique extended-stay hotel concept, conceptualized by Philadelphia-based hospitality company Method Co. A first of its kind, ROOST introduces a fresh approach to hospitality by blending the comfort and practicality of an apartment with the amenities and design of a boutique hotel, creating a temporary living environment ideally suited for a long-term stay. Designed by Morris Adjmi Architects, ROOST offers studio, one and two-bedroom and penthouse apartments with full-sized kitchens and modern appliances in a beautifully appointed space, which features contemporary furnishings, antique elements, custom lighting, and unique artwork. Featured amenities include an artisanal coffee program curated by La Colombe, bike share program, and recurring resident receptions that partner with local vendors, while a dedicated 24-hour concierge desk and on-site services team further enhance and ensure a memorable guest experience. The first location, ROOST Midtown, opened in 2015 and features 28 fully furnished apartments; their second outpost, ROOST Rittenhouse, followed in 2016 featuring 27 apartments and a communal lobby; their third location, ROOST East Market opened in January 2019 with 60 apartments, an outdoor pool, and communal in Philadelphia's Midtown Village neighborhood. The fourth location is the first outside of Philadelphia – ROOST Cleveland, which opened in March 2022 and features 62 apartments located downtown within the historic May building, a restoration of the city's original 1915 department store, while their fifth location, ROOST Tampa, opened in July 2022 and includes 97 apartments within Asher, a residential building within the new Water Street development. ROOST has plans to open locations in other markets, including Detroit, Baltimore and Charleston. www.myroost.com About Capital Square Capital Square is a national real estate firm specializing in tax-advantaged real estate investments, including Delaware statutory trusts for Section 1031 exchanges, qualified opportunity zone funds for tax deferral and exclusion and a real estate investment trust (REIT). In recent years the company has become an active developer of mixed-use multifamily properties in the southeastern US, with eight current projects totaling approximately 2,000 apartment units with a total development cost in excess of $600 million. Since 2012, Capital Square has completed more than $6.0 billion in transaction volume. Capital Square's related entities provide a range of services, including due diligence, acquisition, loan sourcing, property/asset management, and disposition, for a growing number of high-net-worth investors, private equity firms, family offices and institutional investors. Since 2017, Capital Square has been recognized by Inc. 5000 as one of the fastest growing companies in the nation for four consecutive years. In 2017, 2018 and 2020, the company was also ranked on Richmond BizSense's list of fastest growing companies. Additionally, Capital Square was listed by Virginia Business on their "Best Places to Work in Virginia" report in 2019 and their "Fantastic 50" reports in 2019 and 2020. To learn more, visit www.CapitalSq.com. About Method Co. Method Co. is a Philadelphia-based hospitality, development, design and branding firm founded on the joining of historically compatible disciplines under one roof; the firm bridges the worlds of interior design and real estate development, while embracing the custom design of products, furniture, identities and experiences. Built from a team of individuals with extensive experience in the fields of finance, interior design, branding, architecture, urban planning and fine arts, Method company's diverse skill set forms the foundation of the firm's interdisciplinary practice. The team has been responsible for the design, staging and development of hotel, restaurant, and real estate projects, such as the ROOST Apartment Hotel brand, Whyle, Wm. Mulherin's Sons Restaurant & Hotel and HIROKI restaurant, along with the newly opened boutique property in Charleston, The Pinch, with plans to expand their concepts to other major markets within the US including Detroit and Wilmington, DE. www.methodco.com

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COMMERCIAL TRAVEL,INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

Travel Insured International Announces New Partnership with Blue Ribbon Bags

Travel Insured International | September 27, 2022

Travel Insured International is pleased to announce a new partnership with Blue Ribbon Bags, a leader in travel luggage retrieval. Travel Insured joins Blue Ribbon Bags' growing list of industry partners seeking to provide a better experience for their travelers. As a travel protection provider with plans containing insurance benefits for lost and delayed baggage, we're excited to offer this service to our customers throThis non-insurance service provided by Blue Ribbon Bags will be available to clients of large tour operators working with Travel Insured. Because each Travel Insured plan features insured benefits for Baggage and Personal Effects, Travel Insured can provide eligible payment up to a maximum benefit amount if baggage and personal effects are lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed during the trip or while checked with a common carrier. The added service of Blue Ribbon Bags will assist travelers in tracking their baggage claim via text. "Our job is to make that process a little bit better and to keep that communication with the customer as smooth as possible," says Menkin. With assistance from Blue Ribbon Bags, plan holders will also receive intermediary support in pursuing their lost baggage, which can be a tedious and time-consuming process." -Blue Ribbon Bags CEO, Gabriel Menkin, understands that airlines are doing their best to keep up with lost baggage claims. When somebody has a lost bag, we are sending them real time email, SMS, and WhatsApp notifications every time there's a change to the status of their bag, says Menkin. Travelers will be empowered to track the progress of their lost baggage claim and receive notifications to stay informed every step of the way. For the first 96 hours, Blue Ribbon Bags will track and expedite the return of a traveler's lost bag. If the bag is not recovered, the traveler can file a claim against their Travel Insured protection plan for their lost or delayed baggage and personal effects. Travel Insured partners with large tour operators that provide travel packages to customers, which can include air travel, ground transportation, local tours, and other services at one or more locations per trip. For travelers with varied trip types and multiple destinations on their itineraries, baggage protection may be more important than ever. "This partnership comes at a time when the travel industry is facing unique obstacles in transportation, like significant increases in lost baggage claims from top airlines, We're always seeking innovative ways to enhance our programs, so we're eager to offer this baggage tracking service to our wholesale customers. We strive to help travelers feel confident before, during, and after their trip." -Isaac Cymrot, VP of Strategic Partnerships About Travel Insured International As a leading travel insurance provider with more than 25 years in business, Travel Insured International provides trip protection to help each individual travel confidently. Travel Insured is owned by Crum & Forster whose parent company is Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., an insurance specialty company that consistently earns an A credit rating from AM Best. We're proud to partner with tour operators and help them to offer extensive travel protection with major travel insurance benefits as well as non-insurance assistance services. At Travel Insured, we remain steadfast in the commitment to providing dependable coverage, great value, and end-to-end satisfaction for our customers' travel insurance experience.ugh our plans to help ensure expedition of luggage claims through any major airline in the world.

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