The much-discussed equity raising/float for Australian hotel and apartment manager, Mantra Group, is tipped to happen this week. According to recent, and somewhat disparate reports, Mantra Group shares will be sold in a book build via UBS and Macquarie to institutional investors for between $2 and $2.60 per security, while the amount to be raised may each AUD450 million. More …

Airbnb – Rebel Company Worth USD10 Billion?

There's a lot of money in being different. Airbnb could potentially be valued at USD10 billlion if a planned capital raising goes according to script. The Wall St Journal is reporting that Airbnb is looking to raise between USD400 million to USD500 million, making the holiday rental website ("Rent from people in over 34,000 cities and 192 countries") more valuable the many of the world's largest hotel operators.

See Who Is Coming To No Vacancy Sydney

Just a couple of days until No Vacancy Sydney on Wednesday, March 26. It will be a great day. There's still tickets left but book now to avoid disappointment. Here's a sample of who has registered so far: More …

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Crazy Couple of Days For Wotif Shares

It's been a crazy couple of days for Wotif. The Australian online travel agent's share price surged 23% on heavy trade on Wednesday before falling 11.6% yesterday. The frenzy erupted after 3.5% of the company was sold by major shareholder Hyperion Assset Management at $2.40. More …

Tune Hotels Targets 15 Australian Properties

Tune Hotels is looking to expand in the Australian market following the successful launch of its first local property in Melbourne. "We hope to soon announce two new properties in Sydney and potentially one in Perth," Tune Hotels CEO Mark Lankester said. More …

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Patrick Andres, VP and Regional MD, Travelport Asia PacificPatrick Andres (pictured) is leaving Travelport after 18 months and been replaced as Managing Director Asia Pacific by Mark Meehan. Travelport said Mr Andres will depart at the end of April "to pursue opportunities more aligned to his background in the hospitality technology and distribution sector". Mr Meehan moves to the role from his current job as Travelport's Managing Director Africa. He has been with the travel distribution company 15 years.

Genstar has more than trebled its investment in TravelClick, selling the hospitality software and services firm this week for USD930m. The buyer was another private equity company, Thoma Bravo. More …

Rachel Argaman Chief Executive Offficer Toga Hospitality squareGrowth is very much on the agenda for Toga Far East Hotels – the newly re-branded joint venture between Toga Group and Far East Hospitality. TFE now has 65 hotels either owned, leased or under management – and wants more.

"We have $200 million to invest at the moment, capital ready to deploy," said Rachel Argman, CEO of TFE Hotels. More …

No More Lost In Translation at DirectRooms

Hotel search site DirectRooms.com, based in Phuket, is on something of development tear. It's just launched 11 new language websites with more planned in the coming months.

This follows the recent implementation of a proprietary hotel mapping function, the addition of TripAdvisor reviews, fresh payment options, a new multi-grid search option and the “Smart Deal” finder algorithm. More …

Wotif Shares Spike After 3.5% of Company Sold

Wotif shares rose more almost 23% today after 3.5% of the company was sold in an after-hours block trade. At this stage it is not know who sold or bought. The stock, which has been heavily shorted,  is trading at $3.00 at the time of writing after falling to an all-time low of $2.20 on Monday. Meanwhile, CEO Scott Blume has been out and about meeting investors and there is a feeling the stock has been oversold.

Two of Asia's leading hotel companies cleared the decks this week and appointed new leaders. Thorsten Kirschke was immediately installed as President, Asia Pacific, of Carlson Rezidor following the unexpected resignation of predecessor Simon Barlow, who left "to pursue other opportunities". Kirschke previously led Carlson Rezidor in the Americas. More …

It's Still Not Real Unless You're On TV

idiot boxThe idiot box still has a power unmatched by the internet. So says Hichame Assi, Chief Operating Officer of HotelsCombined, which is now running TV and cable ads in eight disparate markets – from Korea to Brazil, Australia to Russia.

"TV says 'these guys are serious'!" he said. More …

As the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 deepens, the question has to be asked: will global tourism suffer?

And the logical answer is yes. Not on a 911 scale, perhaps, but there will be an impact. There just has to be.  More …

Dani Rourke, owner, Pinetrees Lodge, Lord Howe IslandDani Rourke has just become the 6th successive generation of her family to own the Pinetrees Lodge business on Lord Howe Island. She now operates Pinetrees with her husband Luke Hansen and hopes one day to pass it on to her daughters. Dani's family acquired the Pinetrees land in 1848 for two tons of potatoes.

OTA Tax Proposal 'Crazy and Absurd'

Scott Blume from Wotif Group at No Vacancy 2013Wotif CEO Scott Blume, pictured, has attacked the OTA tax slug proposed by the Accommodation Association of Australia. "This is just nuts," he said today.

"The proposal they are talking about and the reasons behind it are crazy and absurd." Wotif already pays too much tax, Mr Blume claimed, and spent more than $13m on tourism marketing in the last half of 2013. More …

One of Australia's peak accommodation groups has recommended to the Federal Govt that online travel agents should pay a levy to support tourism marketing. The Accommodation Association of Australia, which recently lobbied against a proposed hotel bed tax for its members on the Gold Coast, also suggested that a special tax should be considered for foreign owned websites such as Expedia and Airbnb. More …

Sydney Opera House_sailsHere's a sneek peek of what the Sydney Opera House will look like during Vivid Sydney, an 18-day festival of light, music and ideas starting May 23. Vivid has become a major tourism driver, with 11,000 international travel packages sold last year.

There's no end in sight to the craziness of Australia's airline wars, which are beginning to resemble Monty Python's 'Life of Brian' – "it's only a flesh wound," said the Black Knight after both his arms were cut off. Yesterday Rob Sharp, chief executive of Tiger Australia, which lost 60% owner Virgin Australia $18.4m in the six months to Dec 31, vowed to keep prices as low as they need to go. More …

Georg Ruebensal, ExpediaExpedia claims it processed more than one million annual transactions in Australia for the first time during 2013. Expedia Australia and New Zealand Managing Director Georg Rubensal (pictured) told the Australian Financial Review that Australia is now Expedia's third largest market behind the United States and Canada. He said Expedia's local "no booking fee" strategy gave it an edge over competitors Wotif and Webjet.

A quick note on Qantas boss Alan Joyce…

For a while there it looked like he had plan, and the strength of character, to lead his airline through a self-proclaimed crisis even if it did involve sacking 5000 staff. In terms of messaging, Mr Joyce has resolutely held the line: Qantas is in crisis, it will collapse without govt help and serious cost-cutting measures. More …

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