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.

  • Airbnb appoints former Virgin America boss as global transportation head
  • On-Air Parking aims to rival ridesharing options with unbranded value fares
  • Egypt, Morocco, Tanzania and Colombia fastest growing markets for US travellers
  • Book on Google hotel option is extended into more markets
  • HIS introduces BeyondTV GuestCast solution to support growing content needs of hotel guests
  • Oman Air teams up with TPConnects to digitally empower travel agents in Oman

Airbnb appoints former Virgin America boss as global transportation head

Airbnb’s mission is to “create a world where anyone can belong anywhere” and is working on “reimagining travel” by building an end-to-end travel platform. To support these aspirations it has appointed aviation industry pioneer Fred Reid as global head of transportation. In his role, Mr Reid, formerly president of Delta Air Lines and the founding CEO of Virgin America, will focus on building partnerships and services to develop seamless travel solutions, according to Airbnb.

Mr Reid joins Airbnb from his role as president of Cora Aircraft Program, a division of Kitty Hawk, where he oversaw the development of one of the world’s most advanced autonomous electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. Prior to that, he was President of Flexjet, an independent operating unit of Bombardier, the world’s largest business aviation manufacturer.


On-Air Parking aims to rival ridesharing options with unbranded value fares

On Air Parking has launched a new product that it claims “is guaranteed to be cheaper than parking at the airport lots or booking a ridesharing service to get to the airport.” Its affordable parking deals, with a free complimentary shuttle ride to the airport, are tied up with licensed, five-star near-airport parking facilities and by being sold unbranded are on offer at rock-bottom prices.

While prices at these parking facilities are cheaper compared to the fees charged at the airport parking lots, they are not at a price point where travellers are willing to give up the convenience of booking an Uber or Lyft, according to Patrick Murray, CEO of On-Air Parking’s parent Noson.

Travellers are increasingly changing the way they purchase products and this new low-cost way of purchasing parking is great for saving money, but not necessarily for convenience – travellers only find out where they are parking after they make a purchase on the On Air Parking website.


Egypt, Morocco, Tanzania and Colombia fastest growing markets for US travellers

South America and Africa were the fastest-growing international destinations for American travellers who purchased travel insurance in the past year, according to travel insurance comparison site, Squaremouth. The newly released report reveals Egypt, Morocco, Tanzania and Colombia as the four fastest-growing international destinations for US travellers, replacing Israel, Iceland, Portugal and Vietnam, which held these positions the previous year.

Egypt saw double the growth of fellow north African nation Morocco (145.9% versus 72.8%) with Tanzania and Colombia seeing 61.5% and 59.3% year-over-year rises. Additionally, the research shows all of the fastest-growing destinations saw a notable increase in average trip cost over last year with travellers to Tanzania spending the most, with an average trip costing  USD11,216.74, a 7.8% year-over-year rise.


Book on Google hotel option is extended into more markets

Google is rolling out Book on Google (BoG) for hotels in more European markets. Already available for users in English-speaking markets such as the USA, Canada and the UK, the feature via technology partner Peakwork, is now also live in Germany, Spain, France and Sweden.

Using a Google check-out user interface, when searching for a hotel customers are not linked to an external website but use a virtual page labelled and branded with the booking partner’s logo. The user completes the traveller information and payment form, and then books with the hotel or tour operator directly. Customers with a Google account do not have to re-register on the hotel website nor input personal details again.


HIS introduces BeyondTV GuestCast solution to support growing content needs of hotel guests

Hotel Internet Services (HIS), a full-service provider of internet services and solutions for the hospitality industry, has launched BeyondTV GuestCast, a casting solution that provides hotel guests with the ability to securely cast a wide range of personalised content from their own devices onto guestroom televisions.

Describing the offer as “affordable for hoteliers to implement,” HIS says the solution is compatible with more than 1,000 mobile-based apps and will allow users to “instantly cast their own content hassle-free from personal computers, iOS or Android-based devices”.

“Today’s guests overwhelmingly favour online streaming services versus traditional video-on-demand offerings when it comes to in-room entertainment,” explains Gary Patrick, CEO of Hotel Internet Services.

The service will allow users to access their own content, with assurances that their sensitive data is never at risk of theft or unintentional sharing in what is a public channel, due to a device isolation capability that prevents cross-room communication.


Oman Air teams up with TPConnects to digitally empower travel agents in Oman

Accelerating its strategy to ensure quick adoption of its New Distribution Capability (NDC) enabled distribution, Oman Air has partnered with TPConnects in integrating Oman Air NDC API to its Travel Aggregator Platform.

This partnership will enable IATA and Non-IATA Travel Agents to access the Travel Agents’ own contracted global distribution system (GDS) along with Oman Air NDC Direct Connect to shop, book and manage travel content from all airlines, hotel suppliers and car rental brands from one single screen.

With ZERO initial investment, and on a per passenger transaction fee based model, travel agents will get their own website with booking engine, B2B platform for sub agents and own staff usage, mobile application and corporate booking tool.