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.

  • Egencia confirms contract to modernise, simplify and expand BP’s global travel programme
  • Delta to launch chat feature, enhanced meetings options as it raises its game for corporate travellers
  • Airbnb launches a new experiences category with Airbnb Animal Experiences debut
  • Group booking lead times continue to increase across the US hotel industry
  • TripActions to offer carbon impact data to help corporate customers address increasing climate concerns
  • Routier unveils MessageHub which leverages AI to drive in-stay guest engagement for hoteliers
  • Set-jetting: the TV-inspired travel trend that is earning millions for the UK
  • The streets of Philadelphia – the USD1.2 billion visitor impact
  • RCI selects World Travel Holdings as new private-label cruise partner

Egencia confirms contract to modernise, simplify and expand BP’s global travel programme

Egencia, Expedia Group’s corporate travel brand, has confirmed it has already started work to modernise, simplify and expand BP’s global travel programme to support its business travel around the world. It aims to deliver what it describes as “a simple, intuitive and consistent experience” for BP’s employees. BP will utilise Egencia’s Analytics Studio, which brings online, mobile, and offline booking data into one central location, making it easier for travel managers to track compliance, online adoption and identifying savings. Egencia says that by providing real-time data and analytics, BP will be able to “visualise how its business travel programme is delivering strategic value and identify opportunities for optimisation”.


Delta to launch chat feature, enhanced meetings options as it raises its game for corporate travellers

US major Delta Air Lines says it will soon launch chat feature on Delta Professional, a suite of enhancements to its Delta Edge meetings product, and upgraded operational reporting for corporate customers – all in response to feedback from travel agents and corporate travel managers. The new chat feature will mean travel agents will have an additional way to get on-the-go help to quickly assist travellers, complementing other sales support features the airline currently offers, including online self-service options, email and phone interactions via the airline’s 24-7-365 Global Sales Support desk. Starting in Nov-2019, Delta will also begin rolling out Securities Hub, a new self-service application that will streamline the corporate agreement filing process. With the new tool, Delta’s corporate customers and agency partners will enjoy a simplified process that includes automatic error-checking and built-in filing status tracking for ease of use. With this streamlined process, securities filings will be live in the GDS as soon as 24 hours. Delta is also enhancing its corporate meetings product, Delta Edge Meetings, with new features including a 24-hour filing commitment and expanded reporting. These features, it says, are based on feedback from corporate customers who use Delta Edge Meetings to handle their large-group travel needs each year.


Airbnb launches a new experiences category with Airbnb Animal Experiences debut

Airbnb has unveiled Animal Experiences – a brand new category of Airbnb Experiences that allow people to better understand animals through caring, expert hosts and set a new standard for animal tourism. With 1,000 Experiences co-hosted by over 300 species and their human advocates, users of the accommodation platform can now paddleboard with corgis, kayak with conservationists, learn alongside urban beekeepers, or even skateboard with a world record-winning bulldog. Airbnb says the new experience category “offers a fresh new way to connect with animals near and far, so that even busy urbanites can reconnect with the natural world”. For those seeking more adventure, guests can even help rescue puppies lost within the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, or even discover arctic foxes. The Airbnb Animal Experiences are underpinned by a new animal welfare policy, backed by World Animal Protection.


Group booking lead times continue to increase across the US hotel industry

A review of the Aug- 2019 data contained in Kalibri Labs’ US Hotel Industry Performance Overview (HIPO) reveals that Booking Lead Time for Group reservations continues to extend further out to just shy of 51 days, up more than 5% year-over-year. Group business is not alone in the growth of Booking Lead Time as Brand.com, Voice and GDS channels all showed modest gains, while Property Direct, OTA and FIT/Wholesale displayed declines in Booking Lead Time for August versus the same time last year. Across all channels, Booking Lead Time averaged nearly 26 days out for August hotel stays, while year-to-date (YTD) that figure is 24.3 days and a modest increase of +0.5%. The Aug-2019 HIPO also continues the trend from previous months of the rising loyalty contribution to hotel bookings, up +7.1% year-on-year in Aug-2019, bringing the total loyalty contribution to 54.6% for all room nights during the month.


TripActions to offer carbon impact data to help corporate customers address increasing climate concerns

Travel management company TripActions is now enabling customers to monitor their carbon footprint from corporate travel. Its customers may now opt in to leverage TripActions’ mileage data and reporting to better understand their company’s carbon footprint and to help travellers learn about their individual footprint. This level of transparency capturing both company and traveller impact on carbon emissions will provide travel managers, finance, HR and operations leaders the opportunity to address growing traveller concerns over their carbon footprint.


Routier unveils MessageHub which leverages AI to drive in-stay guest engagement for hoteliers

Routier, a provider of Artificial Intelligence-enabled hotel operations, marketing and guest engagement solutions has unveiled MessageHub, a cloud-based unified communications platform that it claims will empower hoteliers “to truly connect, engage and communicate with their guests during their stay”. Integrated to the hotel CRM, PMS and CRS, MessageHub enables multilingual, AI-driven, interactive two-way communication and provides a device-agnostic channel for communicating in-stay guest requests and feedback between the guest and property staff or departments. It can be utilised on any messaging platform the guest prefers, such as SMS/text messaging, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook, Line, further personalising the guest experience and delivering better expected engagement and utilisation.


Set-jetting: the TV-inspired travel trend that is earning millions for the UK

Latest figures estimate that inbound tourists spent just under GBP600 million in film-related tourism, with popular destinations associated with television shows seeing increases in visitor numbers. The research from Travelzoo, a global publisher of exclusive offers and experiences for members, highlights that film- and television-related tourism is having a notably impact on the UK’s economy and communities. Its findings show that Shibden Hall, featured in the BBC show ‘Gentleman Jack’, has seen its visitor numbers grow by an estimated 700% since the show aired, last year (2018), one in six tourists visiting Northern Ireland said they were influenced by seeing various locations shown on ‘Game of Thrones’, while after Ely Cathedral was used to depict Westminster Abbey in the Netflix series ‘The Crown’, visitor numbers have risen to nearly 4 million in the last three years.


The streets of Philadelphia – the USD1.2 billion visitor impact

More visitors, more direct dollars infused into Philadelphia’s economy. That’s the synopsis of a new report from the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) and Tourism Economics. It shows that in 2018, 697,000 overseas visitors (up +7.5% year-on-year) came to the Greater Philadelphia region, marking the fourth consecutive year of growth. Overseas visitors also contributed USD723 million in direct visitor spending, generating USD1.2 billion in economic impact, both modern-day records. In 2018, nine of Philadelphia’s ‘top 10’ overseas markets grew year-on-year. Philadelphia’s top five markets include the United Kingdom, China, Germany, India, and France, respectively. In 2018, the UK delivered the highest number of overseas visitors to Philadelphia at 112,000 (a +3.1% increase), China led all markets with USD136 million in overall visitor spending (a +15.6% increase), represented by 82,000 visitors, a +20% increase from 2017, while Ireland saw dramatic gains as additional airline service from American Airlines and Aer Lingus helped boost travel to Philadelphia by +42% year-on-year.


RCI selects World Travel Holdings as new private-label cruise partner

Holiday exchange company RCI has teamed up with cruise agency, World Travel Holdings, as its private-label cruise partner which will see it booking cruises online and directly for RCI’s members through RCI Cruise. Through this partnership, RCI members have access to World Travel Holdings’ exclusive offers and pricing on every major cruise line. Members also receive RCI Cruise Club exclusive offers, available on every sailing and stateroom category.