Lastminute.com Looks to Asia-Pacific for More Travel Deals

Skift | August 08, 2019

Online travel business Lastminute.com Group is turning its attention to potential deals outside of its core European market as it considers further travel acquisitions to help boost growth.The company, which has been pretty active in the M&A market in recent years, buying up both small and medium-sized companies, is looking at potentially entering the Asia-Pacific market in terms of the flight business Sergio Signoretti, chief financial officer, said on an earnings call on Thursday.Another possibility is on the metasearch side, to sit alongside the Jetcost and Hotelscan brands. Signoretti said these wouldnt necessarily be big deals but would primarily serve to expand our geographical footprint out of the markets where we’re present today.

Spotlight

To be able to travel all the time is the biggest dream. The experiences one has throughout the journey of their travels is irreplaceable. It relieves one of all their daily struggles and stress. But sometimes, one may not have the money or the time to be able to travel. Here are 7 ways you can feel like you’re travelling even when you’re not:


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INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

Backroads Announces 2022 Travel Trends and Gears Up for Busiest Year Ever

Backroads | December 28, 2021

Backroads, the leader in active travel, announced their forecast for top travel destinations in 2022 based on advance bookings and inquiries. Europe is at the top of many travelers’ lists next year, with huge demand for trips in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Greece and Iceland. Many newcomers to active travel are booking adventures already, especially easygoing Dolce Tempo tours, and e-bikes are continuing to become more popular with guests of all ages. Backroads is anticipating that most of their North American trips will sell out once again, in line with the 2021 trend of strong interest in US National Parks and luxurious domestic adventures. As this eventful year comes to a close, Backroads is finishing strong and poised to have their biggest year ever in 2022. Backroads’ 2021 year-end highlights include: Backroads had its best year of all time in the US in 2021. Domestic bookings were up 45% compared to 2019, the last pre-pandemic benchmark year, and virtually all US departures sold out. The number of first-time travelers with Backroads nearly doubled over 2019, as people incorporated their newfound passions for walking, hiking and biking into their vacations. Top-selling trips in 2021 included Canyonlands, Yellowstone, Maine, San Juan Islands, Alaska, California Wine Country, Hawaii, Santa Barbara & Ojai, Crater Lake, Vermont and Yosemite in the US, and Croatia, Iceland, Greece, France, Portugal and Spain in Europe. Luxury experiences close to home saw a surge in popularity. Backroads' new Aspen tour (which includes three nights at the iconic Hotel Jerome) sold out immediately, as did the company’s Newfoundland adventure, which features lodging at the famed Fogo Island Inn, and its California Wine Country Walking trip with lodging at luxurious hideaways Montage and Solage. Popular with travelers around the world were Backroads' Dolce Tempo tours. These easygoing walking, multi-adventure and e-biking trips completely sold out in 2021 and are booking quickly in 2022. Adventure travel featuring invigorating activity in wide-open, natural spaces was hugely popular with travelers of all types, including families, couples and solo travelers. Based on advance guest booking and inquiries, Backroads is anticipating the following trends for 2022: More than 30% of guests on multi-adventure and biking trips will opt for e-bikes, which are custom-built for Backroads and included in the trip price. Europe will continue to see pent-up demand manifesting in sky-high bookings, with all the European countries that opened early and were popular in 2021 seeing strong traveler interest. Top-selling countries include Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Greece and Iceland. North America, which had its biggest year ever in 2021, will continue to be popular with travelers looking to stick close to home. US National Park trips will again completely sell out. Demand for travel in all parts of Canada from Banff to Newfoundland is skyrocketing. Family travel is up across all family segments: Teens & Kids, Older Teens & 20s and 20s & Beyond. Bookings for easygoing Dolce Tempo adventures will maintain their threefold increase compared to 2021, as travelers of all fitness levels look to spend active time outdoors. Active River Cruises will book up quickly with Bordeaux, Danube and Portugal’s Douro leading the way. Working in active, outdoor travel continues to appeal, with more than 450 Backroads Trip Leaders and Field Staff returning next season for a 90% retention rate. The company expects to hire close to another 350 additional Trip Leaders from 6,000 applicants for jobs in 2022. “If there’s one thing we’ve learned during our two years of operating trips during the pandemic, it’s that things change rapidly, Spring, summer, and fall are a long time away when it comes to COVID-19. We’re monitoring government responses to the latest surge and keeping a close eye on border reopenings and local policies.” -Tom Hale, Backroads Founder and President. Regardless of what happens this winter, 2022 is shaping up to be an incredible year for adventure travel. Based on what we saw in the summer 2021 season, we expect travel in Europe to come back strong, with France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Croatia topping the list of travelers everywhere,” said Hale. “People are eager to get back out exploring, and active travel is the way they want to go. Whether it’s on a bike or an e-bike, hiking or walking, with family, friends or solo, we anticipate next year to be Backroads' biggest year ever.”     About Backroads      Backroads was founded in 1979 by Tom Hale and has been a leading innovator in active and adventure travel for over 40 years. The company offers biking, walking & hiking and multi-adventure tours, small ship active cruises, private trips and family trips designed for three distinct age groups: Teens & Kids (typically 9-16), Older Teens & 20s (17+) and 20s & Beyond (adult kids through their late 20s). Backroads hosts thousands of guests each year—75% of whom are repeat guests or referrals from past guests—in hundreds of locations across the globe. For more information, please visit backroads.com, or call 800-462-2848.For more Backroads information, visit: backroads.com

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

Collinson Valuedynamx Announces Travel Offerings Through New travel.win Partnership

Collinson Valuedynamx | April 01, 2022

Collinson Valuedynamx, the leading provider of global loyalty commerce and personalized offer networks, announced a new partnership with online travel loyalty services provider travel.win, which will provide travel-related cash back offers to financial institution (FI) customers through the Valuedynamx marketplaceThe Valuedynamx marketplace is provided through an Application Programming Interface (API) or white labelled, allowing bank customers to shop directly through their banking site or mobile app to take advantage of discounts they can trust, including discounts from large national retailers. With the Valuedynamx marketplace, brands become more relevant to customers by delivering curated offers and rewards in their preferred channels, media, and platforms. This innovative approach to delivering relevant solutions to customers makes this a timely partnership, facilitating the delivery of relevant travel offers as consumers are looking to travel again. Through the new partnership, travel.win enables consumers to access unprecedented savings not available to the public, inclusive of access to over 800,000 hotels worldwide. “Today’s small to medium-sized financial institutions are looking for ways to stand out in a very crowded space,” said Ted Mooney, Founder and CEO of travel.win. “At the same time, consumers are looking to get back to travel after staying close to home during the pandemic. By providing up to 20% cash back on travel to members, FIs are able to surprise and delight their members with cash back when they travel.” Reducing travel costs As part of the Valuedynamx marketplace offering, travel.win offers will retain the look and feel of a retail bank’s brand, and will allow end-users to enjoy a seamless online experience. Financial institutions will have flexibility to determine how much cash back to provide customers on travel transactions, while travel.win and Valuedynamx handle all operations including booking, customer support, payment processing, cancellations and refunds, reconciliation, payment of the cash back portion of booking, and performance reporting. Hotel focused offers, similar to those on popular booking sites like Travelocity and Expedia, will be available on the Valuedynamx marketplace beginning April 2022. “Our strategic goal for the Valuedynamx marketplace is to create the most relevant consumer experience via a seamlessly integrated one-stop-shop for savings,We are excited to be partnering with travel.win and applying their innovative approach to delivering travel-related value. With a strong return to travel bookings, and consumers desire to travel again, this partnership is more relevant than ever as consumers plan reward-based bookings, including future travel. Ultimately, retail banking customers will have access to significant savings on travel related expenses, with funds put directly back into their accounts.” -Ed Wogan, Chief Merchant Officer, Collinson Valuedynamx. About Collinson Valuedynamx Collinson Valuedynamx helps financial institutions, travel loyalty programs, merchants and retailers drive higher commercial growth by connecting them with the right partners while incentivizing customer spend and engage through points earning and redemption, tailored offers and rewards across a wide range of categories. This delivers mutually valuable, long-term relationships, improving loyalty program and currency engagement, driving card preference for financial institutions, and increasing sales for retailers and merchants. These sustainable commerce networks expand brand reach and visibility, driving up the value and relevance of customer programs and increasing partners’ share of wallet. About travel.win Travel.win is a travel loyalty platform service provider that makes it easy for companies to increase revenue and customer engagement by offering a white-label Travel solution. With simple integration options, partners can be up and running within 30 days on the travel.win platform. Consumers can earn up to 20% cash back on their hotel bookings. travel.win will be launching car rental and activities in Q3 2022. It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

Motorola Solutions’ Safe Hospitality Solution Improves Safety and Guest Experience

Motorola Solutions’ | April 20, 2022

Motorola Solutions, Inc. (NYSE: MSI) announced its Safe Hospitality solution, a unified technology ecosystem that combines video security, access control, data and communications technologies. The Safe Hospitality solution integrates these technologies via a simple cloud-based platform to support the specific operational, security and safety requirements of this industry. For example, video security analytics can send alerts to radios when unusual activity is detected, and access control can identify the security risk of a door propped open. Data from cameras and sensors can trigger staff to address guest needs or safety threats, while voice communications can dynamically connect teams to support everyday operations or emergency response. The ability to automate and streamline the flow of information to the right people across departments allows hospitality organizations to best direct their resources to support safety, productivity and delivery of an exceptional guest experience. “Video cameras with embedded analytics allow our team to monitor an entire pool area and spot unexpected events and activity, We’ve integrated our video security and radio systems so real-time automatic alerts are sent directly to our staff, allowing us to respond in moments. Using this technology with our world-recognized ‘Ellis’ safety standards has not only helped us to deal with the day-to-day, but to keep our guests as safe as possible.” -Jeffrey Ellis, CEO for Jeff Ellis Management, a worldwide leader in the management of aquatic facilities “Spanning seven acres of the Atlantic coast, our beachfront resort is a destination our guests choose for relaxation, privacy and solitude, and they expect a safe environment for the entire family,” said Dan Sims, director of loss prevention at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa. “We have the technology resources in place to give us greater insight into what’s happening across our entire resort, including the spa, restaurants, pools, meeting and event spaces and beach, so we can respond quickly to events and the needs of visitors without compromising the guest experience.” At the very core of every successful event is the ability to communicate quickly and reliably to avoid event disruption, said Ron Skotarczak, executive vice president, chief sales & marketing officer, Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. “Our work with Motorola’s technology solutions not only help us to prevent issues, but also contribute to the smooth running of all events - from sports to concerts - and at any capacity. The efficiencies gained by automating processes, streamlining workflows and sharing information more easily is also particularly valuable as restaurants, hotels, resorts, casinos, stadiums and theme parks continue to address challenges brought on by industry-wide staffing shortages. “Today’s hospitality businesses are highly focused on service and safety, especially as they recover from the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, A Safe Hospitality solution allows hospitality businesses to simplify everyday tasks for greater productivity. It allows them to stay focused on what matters most in their highly competitive industry, delivering a high-quality, customized and safe guest experience.” -Sharon Hong, vice president, enterprise technology, Motorola Solutions About Motorola Solutions Motorola Solutions is a global leader in public safety and enterprise security. Our solutions in land mobile radio communications, video security & access control and command center software, bolstered by managed & support services, create an integrated technology ecosystem to help make communities safer and businesses stay productive and secure. At Motorola Solutions, we’re ushering in a new era in public safety and security. Learn more at www.motorolasolutions.com.

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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

To be able to travel all the time is the biggest dream. The experiences one has throughout the journey of their travels is irreplaceable. It relieves one of all their daily struggles and stress. But sometimes, one may not have the money or the time to be able to travel. Here are 7 ways you can feel like you’re travelling even when you’re not:

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