Inside Travel: Understanding the latest technology and industry trend insights

Find it hard to keep track with all the latest insights into business trends, new products and technology advancements in the travel sector? The Blue Swan Daily provides you with an update on some of the key stories from the past week.

  • CWT secures potential five-year renewal of contract for the US Government
  • Zeno to be first online booking tool to provide Southwest Airlines content via NDC
  • Sabre sets deadline to conclude Farelogix deal
  • Ban on Venice cruise ships will not solve the city’s overtourism troubles
  • Smart speakers are already influencing or travel habits
  • New African Tourism Board marks ‘new dawn for the continent’
  • The seven modern wonders of the social media world

CWT secures potential five-year renewal of contract for the US Government

Business travel management platform CWT has confirmed that its CWTSatoTravel has been re-awarded the contract to provide negotiation and management services to all government agencies and military organisations. The agreement with the US General Services Administration (GSA) covers a potential five year period. Under the government-wide temporary duty assignment (TDY) lodging contract, CWTSatoTravel, CWT’s dedicated military and government division, will continue to provide lodging negotiation and management services through the FedRooms and DoD Preferred programs. CWTSatoTravel’s partnership with the GSA in supporting FedRooms is now entering its 16th consecutive year and since 2004 has steadily grown the programme to over 2.6 million room nights annually in FY18. Since 2015, FedRooms has experienced a 30% growth.


Zeno to be first online booking tool to provide Southwest Airlines content via NDC

Serko has reached an agreement with US carrier Southwest Airlines to provide NDC content in Zeno, its next generation technology for travel and expense management. Zeno will be the first online booking tool to provide Southwest content via the ATPCO New Distribution Capability (NDC) Exchange. Under the agreement with Southwest, Zeno clients will be able to shop, book, ticket and change Southwest Airlines flights. Importantly, the connection also allows the purchase of EarlyBird Check-In during initial booking as well as post ticketing. With the aim of making “corporate travel feel less like hard work,” Zeno’s strategic partnership with Southwest will allow both companies to deliver innovation for corporate customers and agency partners. The content is expected to be available to Zeno users in North America from 01-Oct-2019.


Sabre sets deadline to conclude Farelogix deal

Sabre Corporation has announced that it has informed the US Department of Justice (DOJ) of its intent to close the deal on the acquisition of Farelogix on 21-Aug-2019. The US DOJ has been performing a lengthy and exhaustive review of the transaction. Under the terms of its timing agreement with Sabre, if the DOJ decides to seek to block the transaction prior to the expected closing date, it must file its complaint in federal court before the acquisition date. Sabre is confident in the legal and competitive merits of the acquisition and that the transaction will ultimately be completed. “We are incredibly excited to close our acquisition of Farelogix so that airlines, travel agents, corporations, and travellers can benefit from the end-to-end next-generation retailing solutions we will be able to deliver,” says Sean Menke, president and CEO of Sabre, which announced its intent to buy Farelogix back in Nov-2018.


Ban on Venice cruise ships will not solve the city’s overtourism troubles

The ban on cruise ships docking in Venice may be seen as a short-term solution to the Italian city’s overtourism troubles and will appease local residents, but it will not be a solution to the problem, according to Ralph Hollister, associate tourism analyst at GlobalData. Sharing his view on whether this measure will achieve the aim of protecting the city’s centuries-old buildings, he says rerouting cruise ships away from Venice’s centre “will give local residents the impression that their complaints have been taken on board,” but warns that “it is probable that redirected tourists will commute to the central islands via large coaches and taxi services instead”. Ultimately, this could actually spread the issue of overtourism to new areas outside of the centre. “The combination of utilising ports away from central Venice and a new measure requiring day-trippers to pay an entrance fee up to USD11 from Sep-2019 are unlikely to effectively combat overtourism,” he explains.


Smart speakers are already influencing or travel habits

New UK research has highlighted that smart speakers in the home like Google Home and Amazon Echo are set to drive the next wave of travel industry technology and e-commerce. A nationally-representative survey of 2,000 British adults commissioned by Artefact UK, an AI and data-driven agency, reveals six out of ten smart speaker owners (60%) have used them to make a purchase in the past year. In fact, nearly a quarter (22%) said they have done so within the past week. The research also found that over a third (39%) of smart speaker owners have already interacted with brands via their device. When respondents were asked to identify what they think smart speakers can do, around half (47%) suggested using them for shopping or buying takeaways, 39% said they were ideal for playing games or quizzes and 28% suggested that you could use them for booking travel. “Travel brands are starting to grasp the opportunity in voice technology: Kayak is already on Alexa, and the concierge service Alexa for Hospitality has already seen Marriott Hotels adopt Amazon Echo devices in its rooms… voice offers a simple and spontaneous path to purchase that reflects how people behave naturally,” says Sarah De Martin, managing director at Artefact UK.


New African Tourism Board marks ‘new dawn for the continent’

After two years in the making, the new African Tourism Board has been formally established with more than 400 members covering 36 African and 25 non-African countries. The platform has been declared a “new dawn for the continent as we usher in the voice of Africa by Africa in Africa,” by its chairman Mr. Cuthbert Ncube announced. ATB has been established in response to the “right move by the continent’s political leadership to move the emancipation agenda from the political to the economic front”.


The seven modern wonders of the social media world

In the modern age of Instagram, millions of travellers load their photographs onto the social networking site. Now Motif, an app that integrates with Photos on apple computers, and which is soon set to launch on iOS for iPhone and iPad, has analysed every famous landmark hashtag since the launch of the image platform in Oct-2010 to discover the seven modern wonders of the world. This analysis uncovered the world’s most Instagram-worthy tourist attractions, based on the number of times the hashtags have been used globally. The top seven were: #eiffeltower, #lasvegasstrip, #timessquare, #burjkhalifa, #grandcanyon, #bigben and #londoneye.