Al Murshed Travel and Tourism picks Sabre as technology partner

Trade Arabia | July 16, 2019

Al Murshed Travel and Tourism, one of the leading travel agencies in Bahrain, has signed a long-term agreement with Sabre Corporation, the leading technology provider to the global travel industry, to continue using its technology and platform to provide travel services to its customers.This renewal provides Al Murshed Travel with continued access to Sabre’s portfolio of innovative technology and its intelligent platform Sabre Red 360, allowing it to effectively harness data and deliver superior content to its travellers.  This unique technology will help enable the travel company to differentiate its offering, compete more effectively and grow faster in the region, as well as expand into the online sector.

Spotlight

International online travel agencies provide benefits to many parties – travelers, accommodation providers, and local economies. This paper seeks to explain how this industry works, clarify its benefits, and provide advice on how regulators can work with the industry to ensure the best outcomes for all.


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FEATURES AND ADVICE

Creating a Contactless Travel Experience: Ottonomy Launches First Fully Autonomous Delivery Robots at CVG Airport

Ottonomy Inc. | December 17, 2021

Ottonomy announces that Ottobots, a fleet of fully autonomous delivery robots for food and retail, are now available at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG). This is the first autonomous robotic delivery of food, beverage and lifestyle products in an airport environment.Officially launched for the holiday travel season, passengers are now able to order contactless delivery directly to their location in Concourse B of the airport, delivered by an autonomous robot. Customers can select grab and go, beverage and travel items sold at select retail stores operated by Paradies Lagardere via orderatcvg.com on mobile devices. Customers receive status updates on their phone and a unique QR code, which can be scanned by the robot's top camera to open the secure compartment and retrieve their items. The entire delivery experience is contactless and fully autonomous, a first in the industry. "At CVG, we are redefining the travel experience by combining talent and tech to deliver innovative solutions,We've built a culture of innovation at the airport and are excited to partner with Ottonomy to test and advance this technology in a live, airport environment." -Candace McGraw, chief executive officer, CVG Airport The original pilot of Ottobots at CVG started running in late 2020. The partners gathered feedback from participating passengers including details on the experience, cost and desire to have autonomous delivery in airports. These live robot deliveries will gather additional research to further develop the program and user experience. Ritukar Vijay, Co-Founder and CEO of Ottonomy Inc, said, This launch is a testament to CVG's commitment to innovation and customer experience. We are able to provide a safe and secure experience through our Ottobots, executing automated contactless deliveries of food and beverage and retail products. COVID-19 has changed the way we all interact and relate to travel, making contactless delivery even more relevant and essential. Ottobots navigate autonomously through crowds and unpredictable environments using Ottonomy's proprietary Contextual Mobility navigation tech. The overall system is highly scalable and flexible utilizing a comprehensive suite of cloud tools that manages a fleet of robots deployed throughout different areas of an airport. To learn more about Ottonomy's Ottobots you can visit the website: https://ottonomy.io/ or download assets from the Ottonomy Press Kit. About Ottonomy Inc: Ottonomy is a deep tech startup, providing contactless deliveries using fully autonomous robots. Its primary focus is on helping retailers and restaurants automate indoor and outdoor contactless deliveries. Ottonomy was recognized as among the top 50 robotics companies worldwide in 2021 by Robotics Business Review and has won the Mobility Startup Award given by Plug & Play Accelerator and the Sustainability Product of the Year Award given by the Business Intelligence Group. The company is backed by Connetic Ventures and angel investors. For more information on Ottonomy, please visit ottonomy.io. About CVG Airport: CVG Airport welcomed more than 9.1 million passengers in 2019, serving a record number of local passengers. As the airport recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, it still offers the most nonstop destinations and the lowest average airfares in the Cincinnati region. CVG is diversified in both passenger and cargo operations with an annual economic impact of $6.8 billion. It is the 7th largest cargo airport in North America – home to Amazon Air's primary U.S. Hub and DHL Express Global Superhub. Learn more at CVGairport.com.

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COMMERCIAL TRAVEL

Travelopia Takes Next Steps On Customer Experience Journey With Talkdesk

Talkdesk | December 18, 2021

Talkdesk®, Inc., the global customer experience leader for customer-obsessed companies, has been chosen by Travelopia, the world’s largest collection of specialist travel brands, as its contact centre solution provider. Talkdesk provided a flexible, scalable solution as this pioneer in specialty travel charted a new course to remote call center technology for its portfolio of independent brands operating across the globe.Travelopia - the only travel brand of its kind in the world - is at the forefront of global travel for those wanting a distinctive experience. With primary headquarters in Crawley, England, the company supports a global network of hospitality professionals representing 23 independent travel brands offering more than 70 destinations, spanning 10 countries across all seven continents. The Travelopia portfolio is exclusively focused on specialist travel, and the company strives to deliver unique experiences - from exploring Canada’s Rideau Canal by boat to joining the ranks of those rare travellers who cross the Antarctic Circle to see the South Pole. Whether travelling around the world by private jet or exploring closer to home on bicycle, Travelopia helps cultivate the passions and interests of its more than 750,000 guests each year. Talkdesk CX Cloud™, an end-to-end customer experience solution, made the transition from on premises to remote contact centre operations much easier for the geographically diverse Travelopia network of sales agents responsible for helping guests with highly customised travel itineraries and complex customer support enquiries. Agents across multiple geographies could better manage their time, which reduced the number of missed guest calls. The Talkdesk solution offered robust analytics, and those deeper insights into customer data enabled agents to proactively suggest new, customised travel experiences for returning guests. The flexibility and scalability of remote contact centre operations allowed Travelopia to efficiently adapt to the rapidly changing travel market conditions over the last year, as well as lowered operating costs during a volatile time for the travel industry as a whole. “One of the core values driving Travelopia forward is our constant pursuit of the ultimate customer experience for our guests to enrich their lives through travel. As part of that pursuit, we’re committed to reflect on and evolve our operational approach,” said Mark Beauchamp, technology director, Travelopia. “For our move to remote contact centre operations, we wanted an innovative, flexible solution with the best tools to delight our customers. The Talkdesk solution provides our global network of agents across the portfolio of Travelopia brands with the resources they need to provide a seamless customer journey for guests - from first contact with our sales team through to the conclusion of that world beating travel experience.” “Customer experience has never been more important to the success of travel and hospitality brands as it is now. Travellers worldwide are making up for lost time and missed opportunities, and they will choose to partner with those companies that can deliver not only that once-in-a-lifetime adventure, but also an unforgettable customer service experience before, during, and after,With the Talkdesk solution, Travelopia agents can provide customer experience as unique and meaningful as the extraordinary travel experiences they create. We’re proud to partner with Travelopia in achieving their customer experience goals.” -Kieran King, chief customer officer, Talkdesk. About Talkdesk® is a global cloud contact center leader for customer-obsessed companies. We believe that better customer experiences start with AI. Our automation-first customer experience solutions optimize our customers’ most critical customer service processes. Our speed of innovation, deep vertical expertise, and global footprint reflect our commitment to ensuring that businesses everywhere can deliver better customer experiences across any industry and through any channel, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and accelerated business outcomes. Over 1,800 innovative companies around the world, including Acxiom, Fujitsu, Hunter Douglas, IBM, Trivago, Tuft & Needle, YMCA, and 2U partner with Talkdesk to deliver a better way to great customer experience. Learn more and request a demo at www.talkdesk.com.Talkdesk is a registered trademark of Talkdesk, Inc. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered ® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation or endorsement by them.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

Leisure Hotels & Resorts Selects Stayntouch to Deploy its Flexible Cloud-Native PMS Across 4 Upscale Independent Properties

Leisure Hotels & Resorts | February 03, 2022

Stayntouch, a global leader in guest-centric cloud hotel property management systems (PMS) and contactless technology, announced a partnership with Leisure Hotels & Resorts, a leading comprehensive hospitality management company that specializes in upscale destination markets and unique independent brands. Stayntouch will now deliver their flexible PMS solution to four of Leisure Hotels' Midwest and Mountain properties, totaling 469 rooms.Representing a combined 175 years of hospitality experience, Leisure Hotels & Resorts is a proven leader in hospitality management, with 24 hotels, resorts and restaurants currently under management. Prior to Stayntouch, Leisure deployed a traditional desktop-based PMS, which was difficult to use and tied staff to the front desk. Leisure chose Stayntouch because they needed a flexible platform that delivered a digital welcome experience for guests, as well as an intuitive and mobile user interface to streamline operations and allow staff to engage guests anywhere on property. Our previous platform was constrained by a lack of flexibility and we are pleased to add Stayntouch, which provides us flexibility, ease-of-use, and mobile accessibility," said Chrissy Marz, General Manager at Leisure Hotels & Resorts. "The PMS integrated seamlessly with our CRS, and the mobile design allows our guests to check-in using their smartphone, while delivering remote access to our staff both on and off property. Stayntouch's intuitive interface is also a major asset: We have a diverse team that includes people who are new to the business, as well as veteran hoteliers who spent their entire career with older systems. The fact that we can train everyone on a new module within a few hours allows our staff to execute across the board and maintain an elevated standard of service. "Leisure Hotels & Resorts embodies a culture of impeccable service and guest focus that compliments the core values of Stayntouch and drives our offerings. We are delighted to partner with Leisure Hotels to deliver technology solutions that unburden hotel staff and reimagine the guest experience. We're happy that our PMS is able to amplify the service experience across Leisure Hotels by streamlining employee training, facilitating seamless on and off-property management and enhancing the guest welcome and departure experience." -Michael Heflin, Chief Revenue Officer at Stayntouch About Leisure Hotels & Resorts Leisure Hotels & Resorts is an all encompassing hospitality management company; from hotel and resort management to distressed assets, homeowners associations, development, and restaurant management. We offer comprehensive management services for independent resort operations, proven management success across the country for major franchised hotel operations, professional receivership and OREO management services, specialized food & beverage management strategies, and guidance surrounding sophisticated EB-5 programs. We also leverage our extensive history in working with ownership groups that fund lodging operations along with our experience with a variety of outdoor recreation options, and the latest experiences with specialized RV resorts and glamping opportunities, to bring more value and success to our managed properties. About Stayntouch Stayntouch provides a cloud-native, guest-centric, and fully mobile hotel property management system (PMS) and over 1100+ integrations, enabling hotels to raise service levels, drive revenues, reduce costs, and ultimately captivate their guests. Backed by a team of professionals with deep roots in the hospitality industry, Stayntouch is a trusted partner to many forward-thinking hotels and resorts, including the TWA Hotel, First Hotels, Conscious Hotels, Margaritaville, Valencia Hotel Group, and Modus Hotels. Stayntouch is also a preferred PMS partner to some of the leading independent hotel collections around the world including; Design Hotels, an Independent Marriott Brand, and Curator Hotel & Resort Collection.

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COMMERCIAL TRAVEL

As Summer Travel Returns at Record Levels, JetBlue Launches Plan to Reliably Deliver the JetBlue Experience Loved by Customers

JetBlue | April 27, 2022

JetBlue (NASDAQ: JBLU) announced a series of investments that will set up the airline to reliably deliver the JetBlue experience during what is expected to be a record-breaking summer. JetBlue’s broad and comprehensive plan includes a reduction of its summer schedule, focus on hiring and training, efforts to reduce customer support call volume and hold times, proactive aircraft maintenance efforts, and facilities/infrastructure readiness. “We want customers who love the JetBlue experience to have confidence we will deliver it to them this summer,We let our crewmembers and our customers down in April, and we must perform better. The investments we’re making will help reduce delays and cancellations during the busiest travel period.” -Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue. As the aviation industry has rebounded from the historic impact of COVID-19, airlines have faced ongoing challenges this year from the Omicron wave, staffing ramp up, attrition, weather events, and air traffic control delays. JetBlue’s plan builds more flexibility into its schedule and crew staffing to recover from these events, and ensures its facilities and technology are equipped to handle increased demand, especially in New York where the airline is growing nearly 50 percent as part of its Northeast Alliance (NEA) with American Airlines. Reduced schedule offers more buffer and flexibility to recover from disruptions Even though the industry continues to forecast robust demand, JetBlue is taking steps to reduce its flight schedule for increased reliability. A reduced schedule will add more buffer room throughout the day to make up for operational disruptions and put less stress on its crew resources. JetBlue originally planned to grow capacity this year by 11 to 15 percent compared to 2019. Now, with its reduced schedule, JetBlue’s capacity will grow zero to five percent compared to 2019. Most importantly, JetBlue is reducing its summer schedule by more than 10 percent from its original plan, and scheduled aircraft utilization will be down 10 to 15 percent compared to 2019. JetBlue is a growth airline, and we want nothing more than to bring our unique combination of low fares and award-winning service to more customers, Geraghty said. However, by taking a more conservative approach to growth, we can bring resiliency to our operation and ensure our crewmembers – who are the best in the industry – come to work each day set up for success. JetBlue’s capacity cuts take into account the impact of higher-priced fuel and are distributed throughout its network. Even with the reductions, JetBlue will grow significantly in New York’s three major airports as part of the NEA – from 200 flights a day in 2019 to nearly 300 flights a day. JetBlue has trimmed some of its growth at Newark to ease congestion and ensure the terminal facilities can accommodate its schedule until construction is completed on the new Terminal A. Accelerating staffing and training to support the schedule Like many businesses across a range of industries, staffing resources have pressured airlines as customers returned. Even though it’s pulling down some flying, JetBlue is moving forward with hiring efforts to staff up for the summer, including 5,000 new crewmembers in New York. The airline’s recently expanded training facility in Orlando is operating at maximum capacity. We are well aware of the staffing challenges that many companies are facing, but it’s been incredible to see how many job seekers want to work at JetBlue,” Geraghty said. “Our differentiated brand and culture continue to attract the best talent, and we have expanded our training facilities to get our new hires on the job as soon as possible. In addition to general staffing, JetBlue is working through a backlog of pilot training and re-certification flights after delays from Omicron. Volatile pilot attrition is also creating a need for additional recruiting and training capacity. JetBlue has increased its pilot training team and simulator capacity to meet this demand. “Ensuring we have a strong pipeline of pilots remains a focus, and we are expanding our innovative JetBlue Gateways program this year to support that effort, We are having incredible success attracting a diverse set of candidates to join our Gateway Select program, which trains individuals with little or no flight experience, and we launched new pathways for current crewmembers and their families to become JetBlue pilots.” -Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue. Addressing customer call volume and hold times Recent operational disruptions have led to a record number of calls into JetBlue’s customer support center and extended wait times. These disruptions, coupled with the greater number of customers taking advantage of ticket flexibility and calls regarding other COVID-related questions, have taxed customer service teams across the industry. Since the fall, JetBlue has brought on board more than 1,100 new hires into customer support and continues to increase hiring and training while bringing on outside support to help manage call volume. By this summer, JetBlue expects to have its largest-ever customer support team ready to support customers as many embark on their first vacation or travel experience since the pandemic. JetBlue is continuing to strengthen staffing for its suite of digital tools to help customers avoid waiting on hold, including online chat capabilities and support via iMessage. In addition, JetBlue is improving self-service capabilities on its website to offer customers additional options to make changes without calling. The best way to reduce long hold times is to eliminate the need to call us in the first place, and a more reliable schedule with fewer delays and last-minute cancellations will help improve that,” Geraghty said. “For those customers who do need individual support, we continue hire a record number of customer support crewmembers and are using technology to make it easier to chat with us. Long hold times are not unique to JetBlue, but they are simply not acceptable. JetBlue is also working to proactively cancel flights on days when bad weather is forecasted or if it anticipates air traffic control delays due to congestion or air traffic control center staffing shortages. The dynamic nature of spring and summer weather, including thunderstorms, sometimes prevents this, but the airline is working to provide cancellation well in advance of arriving to the airport so customers have time to adjust their plans. Reducing disruptions due to maintenance The reduced schedule frees up aircraft time to give the airline additional opportunities to get ahead of planned maintenance programs. JetBlue is investing in additional preventative maintenance as well as reserving more aircraft as spares this summer to reduce the impact of maintenance-related cancellations and delays. With COVID-19 supply chain challenges continuing, JetBlue has pre-purchased long lead parts, tools, and equipment as well as added additional inventory of frequently used parts, to mitigate potential delays. Handling a record summer at JFK This summer, JetBlue will operate approximately 190 daily flights from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) as it continues to expand its footprint as part of the NEA. With its heavy concentration in the Northeast and major operation at JFK, ensuring that JFK runs smoothly is essential for the entire network. In addition to hiring across workgroups, JetBlue is making a number of investments at JFK’s Terminal 5: Redeveloping a portion of the lobby to add more kiosks and open additional space for customer throughput. Retiming flights for the busiest international markets to ensure enough lobby space is available for COVID documentation checks. Smoothing out some of the peaks in the schedule to ease congestion in the lobby, TSA checkpoint, and gates. Dedicating ground staffing crews at gates across Terminal 5 and adding ground equipment. While summer reliability continues to be the focus, JetBlue will also see a significant improvement in its airport facilities across focus cities this fall, as new terminals and space become available to support the airline’s growth. JetBlue will be consolidating or opening new or renovated terminal spaces in LaGuardia, Newark, and Orlando. Many customers have been waiting for two years to travel again, and our goal this summer is to offer an incredible experience, Geraghty said. Unfortunately, weather and air traffic control delays will always be part of air travel, and we are doing everything we can to manage them better for our crewmembers and customers. Our plan makes responsible investments to prepare us for these challenges and restore trust in JetBlue. About JetBlue Airways JetBlue is New York's Hometown Airline®, and a leading carrier in Boston, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood, Los Angeles, Orlando and San Juan. JetBlue carries customers across the United States, Caribbean and Latin America and London. For more information, visit jetblue.com.

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Spotlight

International online travel agencies provide benefits to many parties – travelers, accommodation providers, and local economies. This paper seeks to explain how this industry works, clarify its benefits, and provide advice on how regulators can work with the industry to ensure the best outcomes for all.

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