Sydney In Line For Yotel – New ‘Pod’ Hotel

Sydney has been nominated as a potential target city for Yotel – a new accommodation brand featuring pod-like rooms of just 10sqm.

Developed in the UK, the first Yotel is due to open in May in the South Terminal of London’s Gatwick Airport.

Entrepreneur Simon Woodroffe is behind the concept.

Woodroffe is Chairman and Founder of YO! Everything, a quirky conglomerate leveraging on the success of the successful YO! Sushi chain he founded in 1997.

Woodroffe claims: “Yotel’s innovative design with 10sqm rooms/cabins and internal rather than external windows allows it to go boldly where other hotels can’t – tricky central city locations, airports, even underground.

“Reduced land costs add to Yotel’s ability to provide affordable prices.”

Designed by Priestman Goode, which has worked with Airbus, the cabins come in two classes – Premium and Standard – and include features such as:

Techno wall with universal port for i-pod or MP3 player, workstation, flat screen LCD TV, free internet access, double beds, luxury bedding and bathroom fittings including rain shower, automated check-in, internal window and storage.

“We believe it is one of the world’s most radical hotel concepts and will offer a solution to expensive and boring hotels around the globe,” Woodroffe says.

Pricing appears reasonable by London standards, although it does not look like such a bargain once the pound has been converted into Aussie dollars.

Standard will cost from A$128 (£55) while Premium Cabins start at A$194 (£80) overnight.

Cabins can also be booked in four hour blocks.

International expansion is on the cards but is not likely until at least 2008.

Cities the company has nominated are Amsterdam, Barcelona, Bucharest, Berlin, Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Singapore, Madrid, Paris, Rome and Sydney.

TravelTrends.biz
21 March, 2007

Travel Wired: Get The Real Deal From Tiger – Just Make Sure You Read The Fine Print

By Martin Kelly, Editor, TravelTrends.biz

The slogan of Tiger Airways – which wants to take on Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Blue in the Australian domestic market – is “Get The Real Deal Now”.

But does Tiger offer “The Real Deal”? I’m not so sure.

Let me explain. The airline is famous for its advertising and marketing which revolves around stunts like offering S$1 fares to new destinations to and from Singapore.

Even as I write this, Tiger is offering one-way fares as low as S$12.60 from Singapore to Bangkok, advertised as 88% off the discounted fare.

Not surprisingly, there’s a sting in the tail – as there always is with Tiger’s advertised fares … none of them ever includes fees, taxes and charges.

You’ll find them buried in the fine print.

For example, the real cost of the S$12.60 fare is actually S$63.85 when the extras are added.

Tiger boss Tony Davis said at Wired Travel Asia he has no qualms about advertising a S$1 or S$5.40 fare in Asia when the real cost is many times that and that this approach does no harm to the Tiger brand.

But will this strategy wash in Australia?

I have doubts, and so do the incumbents.

For the past couple of years, all Jetstar, Virgin Blue and Qantas have included fees and charges in all their airfare advertising in both the domestic and trans-Tasman market.

They took the decision to do so in 2005 after public outcry which prompted the Government to say it would change the Trade Practices Act (TPA) to ensure all charges were included in advertised airfares.

That never happened, another failed Government promise, but the airlines took the hint.

This means that certain specials such as the recent A$22 one-way national seat sale from Jetstar are actually less than fees and charges in some markets.

At this stage Tiger does not seem have changed its stripes, with its PR spreading the word to publications such as The Age that fares could fall to A$10 plus fees and charges if it gains regulatory approval to fly in Australia.

Ironically, that would be significantly more than the pre-emptive promotion from Jetstar.

The all-inclusive approach from the major Aussie carriers also extends to their booking engines – the first fare you see on the booking matrix is the one you’ll get.

Not the case with Tiger, fees and charges are shown later in the booking process.

I know what I prefer, and I reckon the majority of Australians feel the same way.

The fact is Tiger must get fair dinkum about offering “The Real Deal” in Australia or its credibility will suffer in market where this battle has already been fought – and won – by the consumer.

TravelTrends.biz
20 March, 2007

Website Review: Statravel193.com

STA Travel, a global company founded in Australia, has just launched an interesting site in the United States called statravel193.com – as in “193 countries, so little time”. Not to mention money, especially if you are a student, the STA target market. The thing is, the site is so deliberately cool that I didn’t really know how to use it, jumping on after quickly skimming an article about its launch.

Then it slowly became obvious the site is a front for a US-centric competition the company is running – World Traveller Sweepstakes – although STA says the longer-term plan is for statravel193.com to morph into a travel community site with all the social networking Web 2.0 bell and whistles. No doubt that competition database will come in very handy for this initiative further down the track.

Right now all its travel services link back to the US parent site, which occasionally greets visitors from Down Under with an annoying video on why they should visit Australia. I’m undecided as to whether this site is any good or not but would say that it is interesting, so check it out and make up your own mind – www.statravel193.com. Review By Martin Kelly, Editor, TRAVELtech 

TRAVELtech
9 February 2007

Meltdown For Jetstar Booking Engine

JETSTAR’S online booking engine went into "meltdown" yesterday afternoon following the release of a $22 fare which quadrupled its normal mid-afternoon traffic. Spokesperson Simone Pregellio told the Sydney Morning Herald that a "22,000 Seats for $22" online sale was announced to the airline’s 300,000 email subscribers at 2pm and that they all tried to book at once.

"The site’s not down, but the booking engine’s having a meltdown at the moment because we’re getting so many hits," she told the SMH. "You can get into the homepage, bit it’s quite slow with the booking engine. We’re speaking about getting extra capacity." It is believed the issue is directly related to the number of customers using the booking engine, rather than actual website performance – (Feb 9, 2007).

Never Say Never Again At Lonely Planet

By Martin Kelly, Editor, TRAVELtech

PUBLISHER Lonely Planet has finally applied its globally famous brand to a bookable travel product with the launch of Haystack, its own accommodation database.

The Haystack booking engine has even made it onto the front page of the Lonely Planet site – something the company once said would never happen.

“Travel services is a value add and there’s no chance of us putting a booking engine on the front page of the site – we’ll keep that for content,” a senior Lonely Planet executive told TRAVELtech less than two years ago.

“At the end of the day our core business is content and guide books, a business that’s been 30 years in the making.

“It’s not about making a buck – it’s about providing services our customers are interested in.”

But clearly the company is now looking for alternative revenue sources with insider talk suggesting its core guide book business is flagging as travelers turn to the internet, where the expectation is that content should be free of charge.

As a result, Lonely Planet makes little revenue from its website, despite attracting five million visitors a month, although it is now offering advertising to outsiders.

Another is issue is credibility, which Lonely Planet no longer “owns” with the rise of countless travel user review sites, many of which also offer booking tools.

Hence the need for Lonely Planet to change tack and behave more like a travel business than a publisher above commercial concerns.

Yet Lonely Planet has had a toe in the water, employing a hands-off approach to distribution for the past couple of years.

It has acted as a platform for numerous product aggregators selling everything from flights to tours through its “travel services” division.

Providers include Kayak, Global Travel market, bezurk, hostelworld.com, trainticket.com.au, activitybreaks.com, worldnomads.com, viator.com, godo.com, ekit.com and altrek.com.

Lonely Planet receives separately negotiated commissions for bookings and purchases through these sites.

But now the company has decided to get its hands dirty and moved to develop its own branded product with Haystack, for which it receives a 10% commission on every reservation.

The bookings system features web 2.0 features (users can also add their own reviews) has been developed by UK company Softwire.

Haystack started just before Christmas with 390 properties – it now has more than 1000.

The sales pitch is: “All Haystack properties are handpicked by Lonely Planet authors then reviewed and recommended to join Haystack.

“Once a property joins, they provide us with great rates and live availability so you can be sure that what you are seeing is the best available price on that day.”

These words certainly provide a contrast to the hard-hitting content of the publisher’s famous guide book.

It will be interesting to see how the publisher handles potential conflicts of interest over time.

For now, this is how Lonely Planet answers the question: “Are Lonely Planet reviews still independent?”

“It’s simple; our authors are independent, dedicated travelers.

“Our authors do not accept kickbacks, payment or favours in return for positive reviews.

“Authors select and review properties for our website independently, then we approach those properties to become bookable on Haystack – not the other way around!”

Funny, because approaching suppliers is something all major accommodation sites do.

They have a "sales team" that pushes the benefits of distributing through their database.

What makes Lonely Planet different? Time will tell.

TRAVELtech
February 8, 2007

One Trick Ponies Entertaining For Now

By Martin Kelly, Editor, TRAVELtech

He’s a one trick pony
One trick is all that horse can do
He does one trick only
It’s the principal source of his revenue

Funny, Paul Simon could be singing about the Australian online travel industry circa 2007, where the most successful companies are one trick ponies, selling either hotels, airfares, cars or insurance.

It makes sense: a simple business plan aligned with decent technology, a driven leader, aggressive single-premise marketing, and a young, accepting marketplace with very few opponents.

But times are changing , competition is intensifying across all sectors, and maybe now is a good time for the one-trick ponies to loook at expanding their repertoire.

Companies that once had a particular field to themselves are now confronting a maturing marketplace.

And, while even the biggest companies such as Wotif.com – which has declared it will stick with selling hotels in Australia and NZ, are still growing bookings at more than 40%, there is evidence that the strongest online travel growth has already occurred.

Indeed, this period could well mark the start of a gradual moderation in Australian online booking rates.

In the more mature US market, the most recent results for Priceline show organic year-on-year annual growth of 13% for domestic sales, while domestic bookings for Expedia grew a measly 2%.

Interestingly, Priceline’s European sales went through the roof (albeit from a much lower base) while Expedia’s international gross bookings grew 23%.

Slower growth rates are OK if you are a privately owned company answerable only to a couple of shareholders.

However it’s a different story if you are on the stock exchange. Expedia, for example, has been hammered.

In Australia, online travel shares have had a good run but recent results have have been quietly received.

Webjet shares still cost around the same as they did a year ago despite the company recording profit growth of 50% in the six months to December 31.  

It seems professional investors also think online growth has peaked and are sitting on their hands while things pan out.

So how are the one trick ponies of the online travel industry reacting to the shifting dynamics?

Sticking to their knitting is the answer – and it doesn’t look as if they are going to try needlepoint any time soon.

Leaders who once took a chance have become conservative using the same strategies that have served them well in the past.

They are focussing on a single brand and revenue stream. 

Yet surely now, while no-one is looking, is the perfect time to take a risk, learn a few more tricks and diversify.

That way these companies will still have some entertainment value when the audience tires of the present routine.

TRAVELtech
4 February 2007

Lyrics to One Trick Pony: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/p/paul+simon/onetrick+pony_20105901.html

 

Service Fees Drive Webjet Results

SERVICE fees now comprise 66% of Webjet’s revenue, while commissions earned by the online retailer have slumped dramatically in the six months to December 31.

According to Webjet’s half-year report, service fees generated $4.8 million revenue compared with $2.2 million for the same period in 2005.

Commission revenue was down 30% from $2.3 million to $1.6 million. At this rate interest income (which increased 670% to $773,000) on the $25 million Webjet has in the bank will overtake commission revenue sooner rather than later.

The company recorded an after tax profit of $1.489 million on revenue of $7.357 million, against  $991,000 from $4.68 million in the previous comparable timeframe.

Its marketing expenditure rose to $2.6 million from $974,000, while other costs remained steady.

Copyright TRAVELtech Asia Pacific

30 January, 2007

 

Accor’s Online Growth Moderates

Online reservation growth at Accor Asia Pacific – the region’s largest hotel group – is slowing slightly with a 30% increase forecast for this year.

GM Pricing and Distribution, Maria Taylor, said this compares with 50% growth for 2006 over 2005 – from 7.9% to 12% of total bookings.

By the end of this year, Taylor believes online bookings will comprise 16% of all Accor Asia Pacific reservations.

She said online booking levels vary widely across the network.

The strongest results are being recorded by budget properties, some of which are doing up to 40% of their business online.

“At the top end Sofitel is getting huge visitations but not the same level of conversion, although we believe people are researching then booking in other ways.”

Meanwhile, Taylor said traffic on the Accor Asia Pacific parent website – hosted in Hong Kong – was severely disrupted by the Taiwan undersea earthquake on December 26 which damaged numerous communication cables.

Taylor said operations are slowly getting back to normal but some of its sites are still a little slow.

Copyright TRAVELtech
February 7, 2007

Calls To Action, Points of Resolution and Resolving Doors

By Nathan Stewart, Managing Director, Alkemi International

One of the most simple facts about the way the web works that is often overlooked by website owners and managers is that nothing happens on the Internet unless a user ‘clicks’ through your site.

Hyperlinks that persuade action are one of the key elements to building persuasive momentum. Hyperlinks that answer the questions your visitors ask by providing relevant information. Hyperlinks that allow buying to co-exist happily with selling. Hyperlinks that establish and sustain persuasive momentum.

So let me introduce you to the hyperlinking strategy that is the backbone of a persuasive Web site.

For illustrative purposes, we’ll be in the grommet business. (A grommet allows you to make a secure hole through another material, like the holes shoe laces go through.)

We make brass, steel and titanium grommets. We have three different ways grommets can be joined for light-duty, medium-duty and heavy-duty applications. But you can only buy our grommets from authorised retailers.

Calls-to-action are sales process hyperlinks.

The core of our grommet sales process is aimed at helping folks find the grommet that’s right for them, then getting them to skedaddle off to one of our authorised grommet retailers.

Each step in our sales process requires a visitor to take a specific action. Our site goal is to get people to Locate a retailer near you. But we acknowledge that on the path to our ultimate goal, people might want to: Contact a representative; Submit your form; View all steel grommets; View grommets by application.

Calls-to-action are the hyperlinks that move your visitor through your sales process. You create a call-to-action hyperlink by pairing an imperative verb with an implied benefit.

Calls-to-action give your visitors the opportunity to take the action you want them to take. These are the links that are critical to you, the ones you want your visitor to click on. Without these links, you can’t achieve your goals.

Points-of-resolution are buying decision process hyperlinks.

Sam Sailmaker is coming in very early in the buying process – he’s just starting out, so he’s definitely not ready to locate the nearest retailer. He needs to understand his fastening options to decide if a grommet is the best solution for his application.

A terribly conscientious fellow who wants to create the best sail possible, Sam also wants to understand what makes for a superior grommet.

Points-of-resolution are the hyperlinks that answer the questions your visitors need to ask you. These links help resolve sticking points in the buying decision process. You create point-of-resolution hyperlinks with nouns and place them where your visitors are most likely to ask their questions.

These links have nothing to do with hierarchy. Folks are never required to click on a point-of-resolution to move through the sales process; the links simply let visitors collect the information they need to feel confidence in making a decision.

Sam needs us to answer his questions by laying out and comparing different fastening options, explaining grommet applications and how grommets are made. So, even before we try to sell him on the value of our Grommets, we offer pages that will answer his buying process questions about grommets in general:

– Grommets, Buttons or Zippers? We offer Sam information about the advantages and disadvantages of his available fastening options (even though we don’t sell buttons or zippers). The point-of-resolution hyperlink pointing to this page might say “when you need to fasten material together your choices are grommets, buttons or zippers.”

– Common Uses of Grommets. We explain how various industries make use of grommets. The point-of-resolution hyperlink might say “You might be surprised by all the industries that have discovered ways to use grommets.”

– Grommet Technology. We examine the differences between okay grommets and stellar grommets. The point-of-resolution hyperlink might say “Grommets have improved greatly due to new grommet technology.”

You must resolve Sam’s questions before you can start selling him on our Grommets. No resolution, no Grommet sales!

Resolving doors satisfy the buying process and offer re-entry into the sales process.

A point-of-resolution hyperlink takes the visitor to a resolution page, where the question is answered with totally relevant information. A resolution page can offer additional point-of-resolution hyperlinks, so a visitor’s path through resolution pages often seems circular. Resolution pages frequently need to link to one another, hence "resolving" door. Think of those hotel lobby revolving doors.

Now think of the nightmare scenario where you’re stuck in one of those doors and can’t get out. You can’t ever lead your visitors into a dead end! You must either offer another answer or return your visitor to the sales process.

If at any time, on any of those resolution pages, Sam feels confident his buying process questions have been answered and is ready to exit, he’ll find carefully worded hyperlinks – Choose the Grommet that’s right for your industry – that lead him back into our sales process.

These exit links, worded as a call-to-action and interwoven into the copy on a resolution page, relate more to the sales process than the buying process – they introduce our product-specific solutions to the questions Sam is asking.

Creating the perfect interrelationships between selling and buying requires an understanding of what people do with what you offer, how they approach buying what you offer and which questions will influence their decision to buy. Accounting for and designing with point-of-resolution hyperlinks can be complex.

But the complexity that comes from marrying your sales process to their buying decision process is part and parcel of a persuasive Web site.

It can’t be avoided. More than that, you don’t want to avoid it.

A commerce site without point-of-resolution hyperlinks is nothing more than a glorified, relentlessly linear PowerPoint presentation that will convert only a handful of your visitors.

I really don’t want that for you! The click’s the thing that helps visitors meet their needs and you achieve your goals. So, marry selling with buying through call-to-action and point-of-resolution hyperlinks – truly a match made in heaven.

  • Nathan Stewart is Managing Director of Alkemi International (specialists in converting clicks into sales and maximising online conversion rates) and will be speaking at Search Engine Room in Sydney on March 20 & 21.

 

Search Works, TVL Price Takes Off

By Martin Kelly, Editor, Search Engine Room

Concerted search engine optimization and marketing by travel.com.au (TVL) has boosted unique visits by more than 30%, while sister site lastminute.com.au also enjoyed increased traffic.

TVL is working on new sites for both properties, the first of which is expected to launch over the next three months. The company’s marketing spend will further increase as a result.

Meanwhile, TVL has become the standout investment performer of the Australian online travel industry, with its share price increasing more than 95% over the past 12 months.

It actually went past online rival and former star performer Webjet yesterday, reaching 37 cents compared with 34 cents. Webjet shares have dropped 10.3% over the past year, according to CommSec.

TVL, which has never made money, is now capitalised at A$32 million, while Webjet has a market value of A$113 million after recording a net profit of A$2.4 million in 2005/06.

In other news, Webjet has postponed the December launch of its consumer travel planning and management tool, Planit, until mid-April.

No reasons have been given for the five-month delay.

Webjet Managing Director David Clarke announced Planit in the company’s annual report, hailing it as “a new and extraordinarily exciting additional service.

“It will be a key component in Webjet’s positioning and strategy over the next few years,” Clarke said.

The delay was briefly referenced in a financial statement which confirmed Webjet will not pay a shareholder dividend in 2005/06 despite sitting on more than $25 million cash.

15 December 2006
Copyright TRAVELtech Asia Pacific

Time Travel With World.Net

By Martin Kelly, Editor, TRAVELtech Asia Pacific

Remember World.net – in its way one of the pioneers of the Australian internet travel industry through the Travel.World.Net destination management and distribution system?

World.net made a bit of noise for a while but the company’s profile has slowly slipped with the most recent news item on its corporate site dated 2003. Well a small item in the business section of The Daily Telegraph recently caught the eye.

It read: “World.net must have impressed shareholders by talking up its global growth plans at its AGM (as its) shares shot up”, increasing 2.7 cents to 6.8 cents. In percentage terms that’s almost a 50% share price increase.

Not bad by any standards, although it was trade of a few thousand shares that caused the blip. So what did they tell shareholders at the AGM, the seventh for this company?

Well, CEO Ernst van Oeveren said the company’s performance improved A$1.6 million over the year “before recapitalization of R&D”.

Which sounds great but the reality is that – after recapitalisation of R&D – World.net lost A$1.2 million in 2005/06 – about 60 grand less than the year before.

On a more positive note, it has it also reduced operating costs by more than 40%, bringing them to less than A$200,000 a month for the first time since listing on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Revenue was down 7% to A$3.4 million and World.net currently has around A$700,000 in cash. The bulk of its income is coming from the UK (54%) with Australia (38%) and Malaysia (8%)making up the balance.

Looking ahead van Oeveren said the Travel.World.Net system will remain the primary business focus, while there are other technology initiatives in store.

China is also on the radar, while clients include Territory Discovery, Tourism Ruapehu and Bradford City Council.

14 December 2006
Copyright TRAVELtech Asia Pacific

Twisted Logic Drives Some Deals

By Martin Kelly, Editor, TRAVELtech

Another day, another takeover.

Last week it was Travelport, owned by the avaricious Blackstone Group, which bought Worldspan, a fringe GDS, for US$1.4 billion. It will be merged with the Travelport-owned Galileo – one of the Big Three global distribution travel companies (Sabre and Amadeus are the other two).

This week it was Sabre  Holdings – which apart from the GDS also owns Travelocity. Sabre is being sold to a private equity group that will probably load it with debt (fed by the GDS cash cow) strip out some costs and sell it in a few years.

Then, of course, there was the Qantas board announcement recommending shareholders accept a A$5.60 per share bid valuing the company at A$11 billion from a consortium including the Texas Pacific Group, which is also behind the US$5 billion Sabre acquisition.

It’s like a Monopoly game with real money for these private equity guys, and my head is spinning, especially with the Qantas acquisition. It’s an airline that is hostage to forces beyond its control, especially the oil price, so I can’t see the huge upside its buyers need to make it work. However, I’m loving it as a Qantas shareholder who has seen no genuine share price growth for many years.

Anyway, let’s have a quick look at the other deals, in particular the apparently twisted logic driving the Worldspan-Travelport merger, which goes like this:

GDS revenues are heading south as consumers opt to book direct with airlines, therefore Travelport needs to buy another weakening business to make itself stronger.

In a release that acknowledged “more than half of US travel bookings are already processed through alternative non-GDS channels” Travelport said the merger “builds on the complimentary strengths of our two companies”.

It also “directly addresses industry trends” claimed the grandly-titled Worldspan Chairman, President and CEO, Rakesh Gangwal.

He’s kidding, right? The clear industry trend is not to book through a GDS or a travel agent for that matter and go direct to travel suppliers, in this case the airlines.

Its own release says so, quoting Forrester Research.

But Rakesh, a former CEO of US Airways, can say what he likes.

While this bloke has an ego and more titles than an exiled European royal, he is no fool having just completed a merger that values Worldspan at US$1.4 billion.

The immediate cost savings are a whopping (not) US$50 million as the transaction delivers “financial benefits capitalizing on natural operational synergies” with the merger creating a “leading global travel solution provider”.

As people say as they lose interest and turn away: "Yeah, whatever…"

Anyway, the Sabre acquisition is different in that it comprises old and new travel businesses – the GDS and Travelocity – so it looks like a much better mix: the cash flow of the “old” businesses helping fuel the “new” business.

But like Qantas it’s is still subject to shareholder approval. 

So what will next week or next year bring? More of the same probably. In fact, this may only be the beginning.

December 15, 2006
Copyright TRAVELtech Asia Pacific

Destination Marketers Under Threat

By Yeoh Siew Hoon

Destination marketing organizations (DMOs) or tourism boards have no God-given right to exist and could be rendered obsolete by a slew of factors that are changing the the way consumers seek information on destinations and buy their travel.

Roger Carter, managing director of TEAM Tourism Consulting, speaking at Wired Travel Asia, said DMOs and tourism boards had to change or perish.

He said many factors were affecting the way destinations marketed themselves and some could become irrelevant, particularly in the face of new websites such as the social networking portals where consumers were “telling the truth” about places and experiences.

In the absence of a true, independent, all-encompassing destination dashboard, however he said consumers still trusted the websites of DMOs although in an audience poll later, the majority challenged that notion.

Carter said there were three main drivers of change that were affecting the role of DMOs.

• The central role of the Internet and e-business for communication with visitors and potential visitors, market intermediaries and tourism businesses;

• Demanding and connected consumers who were price conscious, demanding immediate attention/bookings, expecting rich, accurate information and able to exchange information with other consumers;

• Commercial players who have developed over the past 10 years and are now operating in DMOs’ traditional marketing space and who are customer-focused, had efficient business processes, effective distribution and continual improvement.

Tourist boards and DMOs had two clear advantages over the new players however – the majority of tourism services on the ground need the DMO to provide the “umbrella” and the public do trust the official tourism organization to provide unbiased information.

But he said, they mist add value by doing things that the private sector does not wish to do for their destination and cannot do as efficiently and as effectively as the DMO.

“DMOs must be clear about where they can add value and offer (or develop) a high level of competence. If their systems, data, processes and customer focus are inferior, then they do their destination a disservice.

“They must become expert in exploiting the opportunities that ICT (information communications technology) and the Internet offer, which must become central to their operations,” said Carter.

To secure the future, there must be interoperability between the different levels of DMOs within a country and they must succeed in e-marketing.

He shared 10 principles to future success in e-marketing.

1. Reach as many potential customers as possible
2. Maximise the lifetime value of customers, by maintaining the relationship
3. Be aware of what consumers are saying about them through community websites and seek to influence it
4. Create a compelling website experience
5. Maintain high quality content
6. Deliver sales, directly or indirectly
7. Offer customized packaging
8. Engage tourism businesses to deliver the inventory
9. Demonstrate return on investment – performance evaluation and benchmarking
10. Ensure effective electronic distribution of information to travellers and visitors

When asked which tourism boards had adapted best to the changing landscape, Carter cited My Switzerland, Visit Britain and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).

November 9, 2006

Shape Up Or Ship Out

By Don Ross

If you have just launched headlong into a travel agency career you have a right to feel depressed, especially after registering at a travel technology event. I am not a travel agent, but I can sense that these events evoke a cloud of despair for the traditional mom and pop travel businesses, built up on personal experience and loyal customers.

Travel technology events, usually hire a token speaker, who declares off hand that travel agents are not really dinosaurs. He’s spinning a tale, a note in passing, and it is usually borne out in the content over the next two days, as a line up of other industry speakers point travel consultants to the unemployed queue.

So I didn’t dance down the escalator, full of new inspiration, at the close of Wired Travel Asia held in Singapore last week. I left wondering if small-to-medium travel agencies, many of them family run, will wake up to the reality that they need to embrace new technology much faster than they have done so far.

All their previous partners including airlines and hotels are going direct to consumers, using web tools that give us interactive maps, chat communities and detailed booking engines. These tools allow us to order our own seat on an aircraft, buy additional luggage allowances, compare fares and criticise the outcome online. At first, it was fun to pretend we were travel agency savvy.

Then just how much technology and time do consumers have to spend on the task of booking travel? At what point do we switch over to Itunes and play disc jockey?

Technology gurus would like us to believe that on top of doing our regular jobs we can now squeeze enough time out of an already busy day to be our own travel agent dealing directly with the airlines and buying fares based on the airline’s best fare guarantee.

To top off the achievement, we are told to find time to join a community and write about our travels, warts and all. It’s the only way to stay clued up on all the latest travel facts.

It’s all very inspirational. Technology has democratised travel, claims one guru Jim Donnelly who co-founded the web site IgoUgo. We can all buy it and write about it.

Waxing eloquent from the Wired Travel Asia podium, he told us about the inspiration of travel and the sheer beauty of sharing the experience with others, penning travel journals on a live web site to thousands of like-minded disciples.

He cited the example of "Aussie Dave" who lightens the lives of IgoUgo community members with his latest travel journal. If he misses a month, people would worry. They would make enquires and ask about his health. However, IgoUg has thousands like him, dedicated folk who love to write about their travel experiences. They do it for recognition, not money. They may earn a few merit points that can be transferred to an airline frequent flyer programme, but mostly they write to boost their ego, according the web site’s founder.

"It’s like guys and sex," he told the delegates. "Half of the fun is doing it and the other bragging about it to your friends."

That’s what drives travel communities and while they are a big hit in North America they have still to make serious inroads in the travel scene here in Asia.

Mr Donnelly claims he and a few friends built IgoUgo’s huge success from scratch in a tiny New York apartment using up all their life savings, which could not be that much for a bunch of young executives in their 20s.

They convinced people to write travel reviews and share their experiences until the network or community grew to 450,000 members in slightly over five years.

It’s all there. If you want to know where to stay in Karachi or Kentucky, IgoUgo has the advisors who have been there and done it and they love advising people.

Mr Donnelly was in Singapore to pass on this inspiration and provide hints on how the region’s travel corporations could develop their own communities. He called it part of the "web two capability" that allows video feeds, comments and reviews to go live on the Internet. Authors pen an instant travel report that is read before the "digital ink dries."

The formula was so successful that eventually Mr Donnelly, overflowing with inspiration, sold lock, stock and barrel to Sabre, the US global distribution system that supplies the booking tools for travel agents to sell airline tickets and travel packages.

"I had done it for five years and was ready for a change," he said when asked why sell an inspirational business? "Then I am a middle class young executive," he added. "The sale offered me financial independence."

Mr Donnelly still carries a business card that says he is vice president of marketing, but 18 months after the sell off, he is now looking at other ventures possibly pursuing travel video options using the latest web technology.

It reminded me of Bangkok’s well-known travel agent, Luzi Matzig, who created Asian Trails a regional travel network in 2000, and sold the entire stock to Zurich-based Kuoni Travel a month ago.

Like Mr Donnelly he does not disclose the figure paid for a five-year inspirational journey. IgoUg tapped new travel technology while Asian Trails built a more traditional product line in travel. Both sold out after five to six years.

Market guesses suggest the sale of Asian Trails earned for Mr Matzig and three other founders approximately 500 to 800 million baht.

Based on both these success stories, the inspiration for would-be travel entrepreneurs would certainly be to build something worthwhile in five years and sell.

Internet and mobile phone technology is packed with innovations, but unless travel agencies find a way to lift their expertise to the new business platforms they will likely end up with a business model that will be declared worthless a decade down the track.

Wired Asia Travel’s conclusion for today’s travel executive is to play the community space (sometimes called Web2). If you don’t have a community invest in one. Experts at the event suggested a community model costs about US$5000 to start up and around US$1,000 a month in upkeep. So far, travel corporations in Asia have not experimented in social or media community space.

As Wired Travel Asia closed, I noticed a Raffles Hotel executive chatting to IgoUgo’s founder.

"How would we control the input, what do you do about negative comments," he asked.

"You need editors," Mr Donnelly replied.

I danced down the escalator. "Buy yourself a drink, you still have a job," I told myself as I left the building.

Don Ross can be reached through this email address: info@ttreport.com

November 8, 2006 

From Little Things Big Things Grow

By Martin Kelly

Igo Ugo founders Jim Donnelly and Tony Cheng lived dirt-poor in a tiny New York apartment for three years before their site – now one of the world’s largest and most vibrant online travel communities – took off.

Yet Donnelly, who sold the site last year to Travelocity for a “lot of money”, describes those days as the happiest of his life – creating something from scratch while interacting with people who love to travel as much as him.

He said people are also sick of travel advertising hype – where the reality rarely matches the sales pitch – and so turn to sites like IgoUgo and TripAdvisor for honesty as well as inspiration.

In fact trust was a major theme at Wired Travel Asia, continually raised through the two-day conference by many speakers, who encouraged delegates to communicate with their customers more openly and therefore more effectively.

“When travel companies get honest with people, that is when they have their shining moments,” Donnelly said.

So how did he and Cheng start an online travel community that now has more than 300,000 members posting and ranking thousands of stories, anecdotes, itineraries and images?

Simple – by asking 100 of their “closest friends” to provide their travel tales and photos..

“What happened was people who came to the site really liked it, and they told other people and we woke up in a year and there were 100,000 people on the site.

“We woke up a year later and there were 200,000 members. It grew from there.”

He added: “Human inspiration in a world of algorithms and cheap fares is something everyone can relate to.”

Sounds simple yet is anything but easy. Here are Jim Donnelly’s top ten tips on how to start a community web site.

1. Some structure is needed. It must be easy to search and find who or what you are searching for.

2. A one-size fits all approach doesn’t work. Community members want to express their individual personalities and views … a generic template is not interesting for very long.

3. Contributions should be rewarded in a variety of ways. Emotional benefits: recognition, status with the community. Tangible benefits: rewards program, special benefits.

4. Ego and identity are important. Members must be recognized for the level of contribution (see above). Contributors shouldn’t be anonymous … you should see who is behind a contribution.

5. A critical mass of content is essential.

6. New members should feel welcome. It should be easy to understand how things work.

7. Community benefits and company benefits are aligned. The community cannot be viewed as a ‘cost centre’… the company is involved in the community.

8. Make it open and authentic.

9. A sense of growth and vibrancy: ie make people feel that they are part of something meaningful.

10. Make it fun!

November 8. 2006

Hong Kong Walks While India Runs

By Martin Kelly

ONLINE Indian travel website Make My Trip will take just three years to achieve the booking volumes of 250-year-old industry stalwart Cox and Kings, PhoCusWright analyst Ram Badrinathan forecast at Wired Travel Asia.

In a fast-paced summary of key Asia pacific markets, Badrinathan identified India as the market with the most significant potential despite lingering infrastructure issues such as poor broadband penetration.

The key driver has been the explosion in the number of internet-orientated Low Cost Carriers.

There were nine at last count accounting for 37% of the domestic aviation market.

This fragmentation of the air inventory has resulted in a slew of online travel agents such as Make My Trip, cleartrip, travelguru, tripMela, India Times Travel and Yatra.

He said suppliers will continue to dominate but Online Travel Agencies will gain traction at the expense of offline agencies.

The Indian online travel market forecast to grow from US$295 million in 2005 to more than US$2 billion by the end of 2008.

“People are talking about oversupply in this space but in India oversupply is impossible.”

Elsewhere, he said Australia is the most mature of the Asia Pacific online markets, while others still had some way to go.

“In (high-rise) Hong Kong the reason online has not got traction is that people like to get out and walk – simple as that,” he said.

“Why stay cooped up in a room when you can get out and walk … there is a ‘hanging out culture’.

“Hong Kong people are researching online but booking offline.”

He said while there are similarities in Singapore, the online travel market is fundamentally different with major players driving change.

Among the key differences between the cities is that Singaporeans are better travelled than Hong Kong counterparts, while Singapore’s population is very comfortable speaking English.

Badrinathan forecast that the Lion City will have the fastest internet travel growth but offers limited opportunity because of its relatively small population of 3.5 million.

November 8, 2006

Growth, Growth and More Growth at Jin Jiang

By Martin Kelly

CHINA’S largest accommodation group, Jin Jiang Hotels, will more than double in size over the next four years, Michael Meade, Senior Vice President – Sales and Marketing, told Wired Travel Asia delegates.

Meade said Jin Jiang, which aims to grow from 220 hotels and inns to 500 by 2010, will also expand beyond China and plans to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange by the end of this year.

The company’s aggressive growth plans reflect the dynamic nature of the Chinese hotel market, where just 3.3% of hotels are managed by international brands, and the strong support of its ultimate owner, the Chinese National Government.

Right now, Jin Jiang is in the midst of transition – just like the Chinese accommodation market, which Meade said is currently characterised by:

– Dominance of the online duopoly – Ctrip and Elong
– Relationship selling and reservations process
– Reliance on phone and fax
– Very late booking profile
– Low credit card penetration (but this is changing)
– Price-sensitive
– GDS growth, particularly in Shanghai and Beijing, although slow elsewhere

He said Jin Jiang is methodically driving change as the company moves to take advantage of its market-leading position without upsetting its delicate internal balance.

Rushing technology such as Revenue Management Systems does not work, Meade said, nor does GDS (so far), online rate parity and outdated reliance on facsimile machines.

“We are taking it step by step, and are doing training, training and more training,” he said.

Many of the changes focus on technology, distribution and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

Jin Jiang has already developed its own Central Reservations System – JREZ – with the Thayer Group, which is going to become increasingly important to the group as it attempts to convert hotel-direct bookings to the CRS.

Jin Jiang will also introduce customer loyalty programs next year as part of an integrated CRM platform incorporating its Property Management Systems.

Meanwhile, it is well into a website rejuvenation program that started with jingjianghotels.com earlier this year.

This revamp is now moving through into the individual sites as part of an overall strategy to increase online sales, either direct or through intermediaries.

The design focus with the new websites is on cleaning up the traditionally busy, glitzy Chinese look into a more international information-based format with stronger, cleaner images, and online booking engines.

“Online is just going to go off,” Meade said, adding that over time Jin Jiang would like to become “a one-stop online shop” offering travel, accommodation, tours and transport.

Chinese consumers are gradually getting the hang of booking over the web with Ctrip reporting that 35% of its bookings are now taken online, a major improvement.

In future, Meade sees major opportunities for online competitors to Ctrip and Elong, dynamic packaging, mobile reservation technology, and “Last Minute” products.

November 8, 2006

No Mystery As Shoppers Hit The Web: Airlines First, Retailers Last

By Martin Kelly

AIRLINE websites singaporeair.com and cathaypacific.com finished first and second in an Asian consumer satisfaction survey of six regional websites run by IFH Worldwide in which retail site asiatravel.com finished a distant last, it was revealed at Wired Travel Asia 2006.

IFH Chief Executive Officer Thomas Kraft said major hotel groups Shangri-la.com (3rd) and ichotelsgroup.com (4th) were also polled, as was Zuji, which finished fifth in the first mystery shopping exercise of its kind conducted in the region.

Each site received 10 visits from different shoppers in the guise of either leisure or business travellers planning short-haul Asian trips from Singapore or Hong Kong.

The results were mostly consistent across both groups except for Zuji, which ranked highly among leisure travellers (79% satisfaction ranking) but less well with business travelers (64% satisfaction ranking). Zuji’s overall satisfaction ranking was 71%.

Asiatravel.com was by far the worst-performing site with an overall customer satisfaction ranking of just 52%. Customer comments on this site included:

– Not able to book online for sites
– Had to drill down to another page to activate booking screen
– Unable to book as there were error messages on the screen
– Easy to find on Google, poor visibility of Yahoo! and MSN

Zuji fared much better although some were peeved that booking a flight or hotel still took five clicks, while others thought it took too long for new customers to familiarise themselves with the sites and that “not all pages” loaded quickly enough.

Slow page loading time and too many clicks were also raised in the customer appraisal of ichotelsgroup.com, with a couple of reviewers complaining they to drill down two or three pages before their selection was available. Its overall satisfaction ranking was 73%.

Shangri-la.com performed very well with many positive comments (“easy and efficient” – “very trustworthy”) although the payment took 15 seconds to appear. Shang’s overall customer satisfaction ranking was 77%.

Cathaypacific.com also did very although was chipped for not having a ‘home’ link on all booking pages while site loading was again an issue. Cathay’s overall customer satisfaction ranking was 78%.

Finally, Singapore Airlines may have topped the survey with a customer satisfaction ranking of 82%, but customers still had issues with six clicks to book, slow page loading and SQ not offering the best or equal rate for 35% of its products.

None of the sites polled ranked very well with search engines, however some Wired Travel Asia 2006 delegates argued that the keyword search terms – Air Ticket, Hotels and Destination (in question) – were too nebulous to give a meaningful result in this area.

In summary then, the IFH mystery shoppers were generally happy with the online experience at the sites visited (apart from asiatravel.com) but were consistently disappointed with the number of clicks needed to book and slow downloads.

Like you and me, they have better things to do with their time.

November 8, 2006

Travel Wired: Hotels – Full Rooms, Empty MInds?

By Martin Kelly

Passion for travel is the reason many of us got involved in the industry.  It couldn’t have been the money, right?

Yet passion gets you nowhere inside a corporate straight-jacket, where you’ve got to bury the animal within.

Still, the passionate traveller still lives in all of us … we all have opinions on what makes a good – or bad – travel experience.

It just takes someone to ask what turns us on or off.

This proved to be the case at Wired Travel Asia, when a number of high-profile speakers were asked which section of the industry could do with a makeover.

The results may surprise you.

As you would expect, the airlines copped some flak – let’s face it, they are such an easy target, particularly among frequent travellers.

“I can’t imagine a worse experience than I get with the airlines – I travel with them all the time and they treat me like crap,” said Jim Donnelly of IgoUgo.

Airports also came in for some feedback.

“I understand that airports have to balance safety and security, but as far as I’m concerned most airports are still stuck in the dark ages,” commented David Peller of ITA Software.

However, hotels fared worst of all.

They were continually chided by a wide range of speakers for a lack of product differentiation and poor service delivery – especially when matched with the advertising hype.

At least two speakers told anecdotes of waking up in hotel rooms and not having any idea of where they were staying – not just the hotel, but the city and country.

That’s because there were no regional reference points to be found, no personalisation of the destination experience, just relentless delivery of a corporate service ethic – a special bed or pillow complete with copyright – to the point of blandness.

Hang on, that’s probably the point.
Eureka, says the sales and marketing guru to his CEO, we have now ensured that our customers will get exactly the same product whenever they stay at Brand X … no matter where it is.

Just like McDonald’s.

To illustrate the point, Thomas Kraft from IFH threw up two slides of virtually identical hotel rooms, and asked the audience to spot the difference.

They couldn’t, until he revealed the rate and brand for each property – one was $100 more expensive (or cheaper, depending on your perspective).

Chalk one up for the suits in the back room, but is that what the accommodation industry is all about – price?

D’oh – of course it is.

Just look at boutique hotels, which you’d assume tick all the boxes when it comes to product differentiation and style.

Lovely, yes, we all agree, but increasingly hitting price points only the wealthy can afford.

In other words, you must pay through the nose for the experience otherwise you’re stuck at Brand X.

See, we’re returned to price because the hotel industry says the customer must pay more for differentiation.

Why? Differentiation is about imagination and that costs nothing (unless you leave it to an ad agency).

Indeed, according to Chairman of the Global Brand Forum, Karthik Siva: “Branding in the online world is all about the process (and) the first thing you have to understand is – are you different or are you the same?” 

I think he’s got a point, and suspect the worm may start to turn, particularly if you assume frequent travellers are voicing opinions that will, sooner or later, filter through to the mass-market.

Then there’s the fact that the hotel industry is full of legacy companies that have yet to face genuine competition from well-funded and well-run upstarts, as has been the case with aviation.

Bring it on seems to be the consensus.

November 8, 2006

Pace Moderates at Market Leader

ONLINE travel retailer Webjet’s year-on-year sales growth has slowed during a period of heavy marketing, according to September results for the company.

The results also show that Webjet’s cash reserves have grown to A$25.5 million – almost a quarter of its market capitalisation – with no word yet on what the company will do with its windfall.

In the September quarter, Webjet’s pre-tax profit increased 15% to A$1.2 million compared with the A$950,000 it made for the same period one year ago.

Total Transaction Value increased by 52% year on year to A$60.2 million – a record period for the company but well behind comparative growth for the June (110%) and March (93%) quarters.

Yet the slower growth was accompanied by a tripling of the Webjet advertising budget for the quarter – A$1.2 million compared with A$400,000 for promotion over the same period last year.

Webjet has said it will continue this aggressive marketing approach.

Another feature of the September results is the skinnier 1.8% pre-tax profit margin – a 20% fall on the 2.2% margin the company enthusiastically reported for the March quarter.

Webjet’s annual meeting is scheduled for November 2 when the company will elaborate on its future plans, in particular the A$25 million it is sitting on.

Ends.

Entrepreneurial Mr Smith Goes Online

By Martin Kelly

Breakfree founder and serial entrepreneur Tony Smith has set his sights on online accommodation distribution and marketing with a new company called Roamfree.com that has bought ResOnline and owns equity in hundreds of small destination websites.

Smith turned a $70,000 investment into a $200 million windfall when he sold publicly-listed Breakfree Limited – which had 3400 holiday rooms under management – to MFS for shares in early 2005, which have since almost tripled in value.

He sees big opportunities in building a major online accommodation booking and distribution business by focusing on small operators that fall through the cracks while building a portfolio of cross-linking destination websites.

“We’re growing quite dramatically,” he says.

“ResOnline had five staff when we bought it. Now we’ve got 19 coders working and 34 staff … by next February we should have 50.”

Booking technology is central to the Roamfree stategy, commercially connecting the company with a potentially massive network of small accommodation providers.

ResOnline allows accommodation managers to provide an online booking service through which they manage the inventory and take the bookings. It costs A$99 a month or 5% of bookings.

Meanwhile, the company is set to launch a new tech product called Last Minute Manager that manages inventory through third-party sites.

“We also own heaps of destination specific websites – we’ve got 200 at the moment but we might go to 2000,” he says.

These sites – such as byron-bay.com – are generally well established and have comprehensive linking networks, ensuring crucial high-profile search visibility.

“Some of these sites have been around 10 years,” Smith says.

Joining Smith in the new venture is former Breakfree General Manager Mark Frawley, and his brother Bryan Frawley.

All three were instrumental is growing Breakfree and are watching the latest moves by MFS – which include the proposed acquisition of travel giant S8 – with intense interest due to past experience and significant shareholdings in the company.

“There have been some people sitting there and scratching their heads, thinking can they execute?” Smith says.

“I just know from personal experience that these guys have a very big capacity for hard work and making things happen.”

Smith adds: “When I started as a travel agent in Bondi Junction everyone said to me ‘travel agents are stuffed, you will go broke’.”

Yet by focusing on niche opportunities, initially with Sports Break Travel, then Schoolies Week on the Gold Coast, and finally holiday apartment management rights through Breakfree, Smith became wildly successful despite the doubters.

“Right to its dying day Breakfree was a travel agent but everyone thought it was a resort company,” Smith says.

“I think there is massive potential for MFS-S8 and that it will be very big.”

Ends.

Travel Wired: Don’t Call Me, I’ll Call You

By Martin Kelly

Excuse me, but I didn’t realize how glamorous speaking on a mobile phone while flying could actually be. That is, until I visited the OnAir website and saw images such as the one used for this column.

Gee, these people are having fun. Maybe they’ve just met and he’s showing her photos of his happy family stored on the phone for moments like these. Or perhaps his wedding ring is about to come off and he’s screening the infamous Paris Hilton video (now available for mobile download).

One thing is for certain, they are not calling anyone.

That because you can’t do that inflight – yet.

But it’s coming fast so you’d better enjoy those moments of high-flying silence, assuming you don’t have a burning urge move to from business or economy class to what The Economist has termed the “chattering class”.

OnAir has just done a deal with Ryanair to equip its entire fleet of 250 Boeing 737s with small base stations, called picocells, that allow mobile phones to be used inflight without causing interference with ground based networks.

The first inflight conversation should be happening on Ryanair by the middle of next year.

Meanwhile, Qantas has teamed up with AeroMobile, Panasonic Avionics Corporation and Telstra to develop a new inflight mobile phone and “electronic device” service it will be trialling on domestic routes in the first quarter of 2007.

You may have guessed that this doesn’t turn me on.

I like flying just the way it is – apart from the odd crying kid or incontinent row mate – because no-one can get to me and the normal rules don’t apply.

At 35,000 feet, I can order a Bloody Mary at 9am without feeling like a loser; look forward to crappy food; read a whole book in a single sitting; watch three movies in a row without interruption; and not talk with anyone for 12 hours.

But that’s me – what do other people think?

The answer may be not that differently.

According to an OnAir survey, most leisure travellers (59%) would not even turn their phone on while flying, although a slim majority (54%) of business travellers would, desperadoes that they are.

Can you imagine – three drinks in, and halfway through the latest King Fu epic from Hong Kong – the phone rings and it’s Rajid from India (“How Are You Today”) asking if you have a mobile phone (?) and want to switch service providers.

Believe me, that’s what will happen … it’ll never be that deal-making conversation, just the everyday junk that I get on planes to leave behind.

Yet what I and other consumers think doesn’t really matter. For the airlines it’s another revenue opportunity, and one that they are not going to pass up.

So order that Bloody Mary while flying toward a flaming sunrise and reflect on our smaller world.

Ends

Shoulda Been There - Back in 2019

You should have been there. The first sold-out edition of Travel IQ was a fantastic day.

Make sure you don't miss out in 2019 - register your interest here to get the latest updates.

Travel IQ is a one-day conference that celebrates the business of travel.

It's designed for entrepreneurs, key executives, business owners, directors, analysts, investors and managers across all verticals.

The aim is to get people thinking – and also inspired - with case studies from some of Australia’s most renowned travel entrepreneurs and innovators.

This unique format resonated with the attendees at the first event, which was staged at the Langham, Sydney, on October 24.

As one high-profile speaker commented: "I met with many great people and the overwhelming comment was how much they got out of Travel IQ.

"Personally, I also enjoyed the event very much.

"It is always great getting the heads of companies in the same room, inspiring. So well done!"

Another said: "Excellent first up business event - great base to build on."

Travel IQ 2018 featured an outstanding program packed with industry leaders including:

Anthea Hammon, Managing Director, Scenic World; Director, Hammons Holdings 

- Anthony Hayes, Chief Operating Officer, Sealink Travel Group (SLK)

- Anthony Moulder, Head of Transport & Infrastructure Research, CLSA Australia

- Bob East, Chairman Tourism Australia/ Chair Experience Co (EXP)

- Brett Mitchell, Regional Director APAC, Intrepid Group

- Darrin Grafton, Co-Founder, Serko (SKO)

David Hammon, CEO & Director Hammons Holdings, (Scenic World/Sydney Harbour Bridge Tourism Experience)

- Dax Eddy, Executive Director, Jamberoo Action Park

- Jamie Pherous, Managing Director, Corporate Travel Management (CTD)

- Jeff Lewis, Vice President Technology & Strategic Initiatives, TripAdvisor

- Josh Oakes, Director, The Sunshine Tribe

- Kathryn Valk, Director of Marketing, Royal Carribean Cruises Ltd

- Les Szekely, Managing Director, Grand Prix Capital, early investor in SiteMinder and Rezdy

- Nigel Benton, Publisher, Australian Leisure Media

Quirin Schwaighofer, co-Founder and COO, MadeComfy

- Rachel Wiseman, Chief Investment Officer, The NRMA

- Robert Halfpenny, Managing Director, Aurora Expeditions

- Rod Cuthbert, Founder Viator, Former Chairman Rome2rio

- Rob Smith, Divisional Director, Australia/New Zealand, Merlin Entertainments (LON: MERL)

- Sue Badyari, Chief Executive Officer, World Expeditions

- Simon Lenoir, Co-Founder, Rezdy

- Tammy Marshall, CEO, The B Hive

- Vasso Zographou/Michael Simpson, Savills Hotels

Travel IQ will be back in 2019, date and venue to be advised.

Travel IQ is produced by Martin Kelly, publisher of TravelTrends.biz and creator of several respected industry events.

More information on Travel IQ

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- 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
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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 martin@traveltrends.biz

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