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.

  • Strong air connectivity, significant promotional activities and strong demand from long-haul source markets are supporting Europe’s tourism sector
  • Angie and Roxy join forces in push to bring speech-enabled virtual assistant technology to hotel rooms
  • Paris returns to the top spot for international association meetings as industry continues robust trajectory
  • Travala.com partners with Litecoin Foundation to champion crypto payments in step to further build the digital economy
  • Ireland is set for a slowdown in the rate of international arrivals growth
  • AND FINALLY… British supporters could end up paying a high price for Madrid accommodation for Champions League Final, but hosts may ultimately price themselves out of the market

Strong air connectivity, significant promotional activities and strong demand from long-haul source markets are supporting Europe’s tourism sector

According to the European Travel Commission’s latest quarterly report, ‘European Tourism – Trends & Prospects 2019’ , the continent kicked off into 2019 from a positive platform with an impressive 6% growth in 2018. Looking ahead to the rest of the year, a more moderate rate of expansion is expected for 2019 (around 3.6%), with short term risks, such as the slowing global economy, trade tensions and political uncertainty weighing on growth projections. Despite challenges, the majority of destinations which have reported data for early-2019 performances, have shown continued growth in foreign arrivals and overnight stays. Among the most impressive performers was Montenegro, which has invested in improved winter infrastructure allowing the destination to extend the tourism season for interested travellers. This investment, coupled with significant promotional activities and improved air connectivity, has seen the country record growth of 41% in arrivals compared to the same period a year ago. Other destinations that have experienced considerable growth in international arrivals were Turkey and Ireland, (both +7%). Europe’s key long-haul markets continue to have an ever-increasing impact on the European tourism demand. Amongst other factors, travel facilitation reforms, improved transport capacity and investments in marketing and product development have been key drivers of growth from the Chinese travel market in recent years. While Cyprus saw the strongest growth in arrivals (+125%) from this market, growth in overnights was led by Slovenia (+125%), followed by Montenegro (+66.6%) and Serbia (+53.5%). US arrivals to Europe increased 10% in 2018 compared to the year prior. A similar rate of expansion is projected for 2019 despite an expected global economic slowdown and risks facing the US economy. The relative strength of the US dollar versus the sterling and the euro continues to make Europe an affordable destination for US travellers. Destinations that registered strongest growth in arrivals from this market early in the year were Malta (+40%), Turkey (+34%) and Spain (+26%).


Angie and Roxy join forces in push to bring speech-enabled virtual assistant technology to hotel rooms

Angie Hospitality, a developer of a 24-hour interactive guest room assistant purpose-built for the hotel environment, have completed the purchase of the assets of Roxy, a competing provider of speech-enabled virtual assistant technology for the hospitality industry. As part of the agreement, Angie Hospitality will assume management and support of all existing Roxy installations and customers worldwide.


Paris returns to the top spot for international association meetings as industry continues robust trajectory

The release of ICCA’s 2018 Country and City Rankings highlights yet another successful year for the association meetings market and continues its strong and robust trajectory. The global meetings industry trade association says there were 12,937 rotating association meetings in 2018, up 379 on the total recorded in 2017. Paris climbed to the top of the city rankings by number of international association meetings with a landslide margin of 40 meetings above second place holder Vienna. In 2017, Paris and Vienna held joint second place, with 190 meetings each. Last year’s number one Barcelona falls to fourth place, with Madrid entering the top 5 for the first time since 2015 in third place. Among the top 5 cities for another year, Berlin falls to fifth place from fourth in 2017. Remaining in the top 10 but changing position are London, Prague, Singapore and Lisbon. London, Singapore and Prague drop to seventh, eighth and ninth place respectively, and Lisbon climbs three positions to hold sixth place. Bangkok rises seven places from 17th to 10th, knocking Seoul out of the top 10. Seoul falls to 15th place, surpassed by top 20 risers and joint position holders Amsterdam and Tokyo, which jump from 16th to 13th place and 18th to 13th place respectively. Buenos Aires stays firmly in 11th place and Hong Kong rises to 12th. Dublin drops four places to 18th, and Stockholm holds 19th place for another year. Montréal, QC and Rome drop out of the top 20, and newcomers Brussels and Taipei enter in 17th and 20th place.


Travala.com partners with Litecoin Foundation to champion crypto payments in step to further build the digital economy

Blockchain-based hotel booking platform, Travala.com, has announced a strategic partnership with Litecoin Foundation to accelerate the use of cryptocurrency payments. Kickstarting the partnership, a #TravelWithLitecoin campaign will enable users to save up to 40% on hotel bookings through Litecoin’s LoafWallet. As part of the collaboration, Travala.com will be the official accommodation partner for the upcoming Litecoin Summit. The flagship conference will run from October 28-29, 2019 in conjunction with Evolv’s Vegas Blockchain Week. The #TravelWithLitecoin campaign encourages the Litecoin community to use LTC as a form of everyday payment wherever their journey may take them, now adding hotel stays to a menu card that already includes plane tickets, gift cards, vintage collectibles, and private travel options.


Ireland is set for a slowdown in the rate of international arrivals growth

Growth rates for international arrivals in Ireland will decrease significantly with the Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGR) for the 2018 to 2023 period forecast to be around 3.8% between 2018 and 2023, less than half the 8.1% rate recorded between 2014 and 2018. The observation comes from leading data and analytics company, GlobalData in its ‘Tourism Destination Market Insights: UK & Ireland – Analysis of destination markets, infrastructure and attractions, and risks and opportunities’ report, which includes an analysis of source markets, infrastructure and attractions, and assesses the risks and opportunities for the UK & Ireland as destination markets. The analysis unsurprisingly highlights that the UK holds the top position for international arrivals presently, due to accessibility, affordability and convenience in travel to Ireland, but the nearby market is also to blame for the slowing of growth, mainly attributed to “ongoing negotiations, complete uncertainty and potential outcomes of Brexit”. European destinations accounted for 76% of total international arrivals to Ireland in 2018 with Germany, France, Italy and Spain also strong source markets.


AND FINALLY… British supporters could end up paying a high price for Madrid accommodation for Champions League Final, but hosts may ultimately price themselves out of the market

As vacation rental hosts in the Spanish capital vastly overcharge for the dates of the Champions League final, they are leaving money on the table and fans without a place to stay, according to holiday rental data firm AirDNA. Football fans hoping to attend the Liverpool versus Tottenham Hotspur Champions League final in the Spanish capital are finding themselves unable to find affordable flights or accommodation. AirDNA investigations found that the day the match was announced, 86% of all entire home rentals were booked. This increased occupancy rate “is encouraging hosts to test how high the English supporters are willing to pay for accommodation,” says the company. A quick Airbnb search of entire home rentals in Madrid reveals that hosts are taking advantage of the high demand to raise their rates over the dates of the football game. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find an Airbnb for less than £1,000 – a far cry from the Average Daily Rate of GBP96 in June of the previous year. Despite recently imposed short-term rental regulations in Madrid, supply was always going to increase as novice hosts aim to capitalise on the high demand for lodging during the sporting spectacle. But AirDNA warns that previous sporting events have proved that hosts need to focus on what similar rentals are being booked for otherwise they could be priced out of the market and remain empty