Website and Tech Buy for Helloworld, Acquires Flight Systems

Well-known Sydney online travel entrepreneur Mirza Juddani has sold his company Flight Systems, which operates, to listed retailer Helloworld. Technology was a major reason for the acquisition, providing  a low risk and low cost entry to some sophisticated distribution technologies, said Helloworld CEO Andrew Burnes. Flight Systems is expected to have turnover of $80m this financial year and the purchase amount was not disclosed. Juddani will be staying on and joining the HLO team.

The Bicycle Thief – Ovolo Ball Snatched By Bike Share Bandit

“We’ve been hit right in the balls!” exclaimed Stephen Howard, the new Marketing Director of Ovolo Hotels. “A mysterious individual decided to take one of our beloved Ovolo Balls from our hotel late last week, they didn’t even buy us dinner first! ???? We’ve got $1000, a nights accommodation and a dining voucher for Alibi Woolloomooloo up for grabs for whoever reunites us with our steely beloved sculpture.” Get on it!

Meet Tourism’s ‘Long Tail’ at WIT Indie in Penang

In an era of consolidation and monster billion-dollar online travel companies, WIT is throwing the focus on the little guy with a new one-day event. The first edition of WIT Indie will be held in Penang, Malaysia, on April 13. “WIT Indie aims to gather independents and creatives around the idea that not only can they compete in the digital age, but can thrive,” says WIT founder Yeoh Siew Hoon. “The idea is to offer a platform on which they can learn, network, collaborate and share best practices – when you are small, scale can come from thinking outside your business and collaborating with other like-minded people in a creative environment.” See website for details.

Viator Smashes It – Big Profit After Years of Losses

Dermot Halpin, President of Attractions & Vacation Rentals, TripAdvisor

No pain no gain. That could be the mantra at tours and activities business Viator, which has staged an incredible turnaround over the past 12 months due primarily to the hard-headed vision of Dermot Halpin, who has shaken the company up and made it profitable – literally tens of million of dollars in the black – after years of spending money in the name of growth.

No-one saw this coming when Halpin, who had been running TripAdvisor’s vacation rentals business, was given additional responsibilities by TripAdvisor founder Steve Kaufer, replacing long-term CEO Barrie Seidenberg, who resigned in late 2016. More 

Regional Express Profit Takes Off, Increases By 60%

The global economic recovery has played a significant role in a strong first-half result for Regional Express, which operates a fleet of more than 50 Saab 340 aircraft to 60 destinations across Australia.

Known as Rex, the carrier announced a pre-tax profit of $13.8m for the six months to December 31, 2017, up 60% over the previous year. Passenger numbers grew 3.8% and Executive Chairman Lim Kim Hai said “charter activity also increased, indicating the worldwide economic recovery is having its effect in Australia.”

Decent Profit But Turnover and Revenue Not So Flash at Helloworld (where the buoyant inbound story strangely takes a back seat)

No mention of booming Chinese market in HLO results…

Australia’s #2 retailer Helloworld Travel has posted a good pre-tax half-year profit of $26 million, up 39% over the previous year, but the main driver appears have been cost cutting rather than turnover or sales growth – which could be a concern.

Total transaction value was up 2.7% (major rival Flight Centre’s turnover grew 8.7% over the same period) while revenue declined 3.7%, “reflecting the continued lower airfare prices and mix changes across the business units and products,” the company said. More 

Sensational Summer Follows Bumper Winter in The Snowy Mtns

Australia’s mountain resorts are enjoying their place in the sun thanks to a brilliant six months in the Australian Alps where a sensational summer of tourism has followed the incredible #blizzardofoz 2017 winter.

Freak season. Three mega-storms. Epic snow conditions. And record profits for the likes of Thredbo, which has just announced it made $24m pre-tax in the six months to December 31.  More 

Veriu takes 16 Years to Become Overnight Success Story

Veriu founders Rhys Williams (R) and Alex Thorpe

Opportunistic and casually ambitious – that’s one way to describe the team driving Veriu, a hotel brand that’s seemingly come from nowhere in the Australian marketplace, most recently winning the race to acquire the Punt Hill brand and leases on its 13 properties.

But Veriu is anything but an upstart with roots stretching back to 2002 when co-founders Alex Thorpe and Rhys Williams identified a niche in furnished accommodation leasing and started with two rooms in Bondi. More 

Qantas Leads The Way as Australia’s Airlines Fly Tax-Free

Qantas, flush with cash after posting its largest-ever profits in the past two financial years, has not paid one cent of corporate tax for a decade. And while Australia’s national flag carrier, once owned by the Governmment, leads the way in tax minimisation, an investigation by the ABC into tax paid by major corporates, reveals that none of Australia’s leading airlines – including Virgin, Tigerair, Etihad and Qatar – has paid corporate tax since 2013. See story.

Australia’s 50 Busiest Travel Websites Revealed – But Stats Show Popularity Isn’t Everything

Paid search is the pathway to online success – provided you do it really well and don’t go broke in the process – while online content (the current craze) may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, it attracts traffic but engagement levels can be spectacularly low.

These are two key takeaways from Australia’s Top 50 Websites 2017 supplied exclusively to by SimilarWeb, the global leader in digital market intelligence. More 

Who’s Who in The ANZ Travel Zoo

People, Companies, Research, Data.

Travel IQ is an industry-first initiative dedicated to providing definitive data on the ANZ travel industry’s leading companies and people.

-Register for Updates

It fills a yawning gap in the local travel industry – so much going on, so little meaningful information on the people and companies who make it tick.

Research is well advanced, and the first iteration is due for release by June 1.

Travel IQ will feature:

- Top 150 travel businesses in Australia and NZ, local focus

- Detailed profiles, expert industry analysis, exclusive insights

- Information on hundreds of ANZ industry leaders

- Major industry investors, deals and transactions listed

- Key sector overviews and analysis

- Financial information where possible

- Interviews with industry entrepreneurs and innovators

- Member access to 3000+ unique stories on

Travel IQ is being researched and written by publisher Martin Kelly.

It will cover the leading companies and people in retail, inbound, cruise, shipping, attractions, operators, aviation, tours & activities, media, technology, shipping, car rental and accommodation.

There’s an initial focus on locally-owned companies and industry dynamics.

Due to nature of travel, private companies dominate the research though every publicly-listed company (there are now more than 30) with exposure to travel will be covered.

Travel IQ will also feature key New Zealand companies and investors, while select international companies with substantial local infrastructure and holdings will come under the microscope.

The aim is for Travel IQ to be the indispensable, insiders guide to the local travel industry.

It will evolve over time and more details will be revealed in the coming weeks.

If you'd like to register your interest in the project, please sign up for updates.

Alternatively you can contact Martin Kelly on 61-414-774-978 if you believe your company should be included.

- It's All About The Information - 

TravelTrends founder Martin Kelly has diversified and now also runs Bluewater Press, a communications and thought leadership consultancy with a particular expertise in travel. Services include:

- Strategic Communications
- Media Releases & Distribution
- Crisis Management
- Thought Leadership
- Industry Advocacy
- Positioning, Messaging
- Marketing Plans & Execution
- Engaging Content

Martin is a communications, public relations and media professional with extensive high-level experience across the travel, internet, property and banking industries, both in-house and as a consultant.

For further information please email