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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Sabre announced the introduction of its new airline storefront, an industry-first capability that makes it easier to comparison-shop increasingly complex airline offers in the indirect channel.

Beginning yesterday, the new airline storefront capabilities are available via Sabre’s shopping APIs, which travel retailers can leverage to build a bespoke storefront and enhance their customers’ experience. Sabre expects to launch the new capability for travel agencies via Sabre Red 360 in the coming weeks.

Powered by Sabre’s shopping APIs, new airline storefront provides digital “shelves” that organize the breadth and depth of an airline’s offering in a side-by-side display to help travelers shop with confidence and make better buying decisions to meet their personal needs. For airlines, the new airline storefront supports differentiation and more merchandising opportunities in the indirect channel, with flight search results displaying several product offerings for an individual flight. For travel buyers, it allows for efficient comparison shopping across several flight options and helps travelers choose the offer that is right for them.

“Airlines have invested in differentiating their brand in a number of ways. While this creates greater choice for travelers, it also presents a challenge – it’s easy to understand the cost, but harder to understand what the experience will be.” said Wade Jones, chief product officer for Sabre Travel Solutions. “Sabre’s new airline storefront not only empowers airlines to effectively market their unique product in the indirect channel, it also helps travel buyers communicate the total offer value.”

Through an API pilot program to test the new airline storefront capabilities, Sabre has partnered with multiple agencies including Fareportal, the travel technology company powering CheapOair.com and OneTravel.com and Espressamente Viaggi, part of TravelMatic, a leading travel technology company and consolidator network in Italy. Initial pilot results demonstrate the ability of the new airline storefront to deliver a broader set of upsell opportunities with more transparency into each fare.

“Our customers demand choice paired with convenience and simplicity – this is not always the case with today’s airline shopping experience. Consumers want to compare products and offers quickly and efficiently, just as they do in a shop,” said Werner Kunz-Cho, CEO of Fareportal, parent company of online travel agencies CheapOair and One Travel. “That’s exactly what Sabre’s new airline storefront delivers: it allows us to group products for easy comparison, just as a supermarket arranges similar products on the same shelf. Ultimately, this modern retailing enables us to deliver an enhanced traveler experience that centers around offer value.”

“In today’s world, travel agents are under increasing pressure to ensure that travelers receive the offer that is right for them based on their specific needs and preferences,” said Mimmo Cristofaro, CEO at TravelMatic. “As a result, we require a solution that allows for quick and easy comparison across offers to help drive more informed decisions. Sabre’s new airline storefront makes all relevant content available in the initial shop, and as such we are able to increase agent efficiency and encourage upsell.”

In-line with its goal of strengthening regional connectivity, IndiGo has announced 14 new flights on its 6E network. Starting from March 28, 2021, IndiGo will operate new flights between Bhubaneswar- Allahabad, Bhubaneswar-Varanasi, Bhopal-Allahabad, Dibrugarh-Dimapur, Shillong-Agartala, Shillong- Silchar, and Rajahmundry, Visakhapatnam under RCS scheme.

Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, IndiGo said, “We are pleased to add 14 new flights including RCS routes, enhancing connectivity in the northern, eastern, north-eastern, south-eastern, and central India. These new domestic flights will strengthen regional connectivity and promote trade, commerce, as well as tourism through increased accessibility.”

“The introduction of these new routes will further bolster the airline’s domestic network, while augmenting inter and intra-regional accessibility. Direct connections between two capital cities Bhubaneshwar and Bhopal to Allahabad, from the tea city of India, Dibrugarh to the most populous city of Nagaland, Dimapur, Shillong- Agartala, the two capital cities of northeastern India, and Rajahmundry and Visakhapatnam- the two capital cities of Andhra Pradesh, will cater to the regional travel demand. IndiGo is committed to providing an affordable, on-time, safe and hassle-free travel experience onboard our lean clean flying machine”.

Since the resumption of operations in May 2020, IndiGo has been rapidly refunding amounts owed to customers whose flights had been cancelled during the lockdown. The airline has already processed close to Rs 1030cr of refunds, which amounts to about 99.95% of the total amount owed to its customers. The pending credit shells are mostly cash transactions wherein IndiGo is awaiting bank transfer details from the customers.

Ronojoy Dutta, Chief Executive Officer, IndiGo said, “The sudden onset of Covid19 and the resulting lockdown, brought our operations to a complete halt by the end of March of 2020. As our incoming cash flow through ticket sales got impacted, we were unable to immediately process refunds for cancelled flights and had to create credit shells for the refunds that were due to our customers. However, with the resumption of operations and a steady increase in demand for air travel, our priority has been to refund the credit shell amounts in an expedited manner. We are pleased to share that we have disbursed 99.95% credit shell payments and will complete the remaining payments as soon as we receive requisite details from the customers. We would like to thank all our customers who stood by us for their patience and understanding during this unprecedented crisis”.

In order to develop Badrinath as Spiritual Smart Hill Town, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) of Rs 19 Crore was signed between Secretary Uttarakhand Tourism Dilip Jawalkar on behalf of Shri Kedarnath Utthan Charitable Trust (SKUCT) and Director (P and IR) Coal India Limited (CIL) SN Tiwary recently. 

As per the MoU, the amount is being granted under a Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative of Coal India Limited. It will be used for the road construction work in Badrinath.  

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Tourism Shri. Dilip Jawalkar said, “We are actively working to develop Badrinath as Spiritual Smart Hill Town. As a result, various Public Sector Units (PSU's) are coming together and initiating to do the same under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives."

Adding further to this he said, "We recently signed an MoU with Power Grid Corporation of India Limited and Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL) for the development work in Badrinath. We are also going to sign MoU's with Tehri Hydro Power Complex (THDC), Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), and National Hydro Power Corporation Limited (NHPC) of Rs. 245 Crore for Badrinath development work."

Kerala Tourism recently launched a pioneering travel initiative led by ten influencers from around the country who will carry out a new-media campaign to attract domestic tourists in the post-Covid era.

 Rani George, IAS, Principal Secretary, Tourism, flagged off the Kerala Blog Express, titled ‘My First Trip 2021’, which is slated to conclude on March 29.

The influencers will tread different itineraries for six nights and five days, facilitating production of exclusive contents for Kerala Tourism.The images, videos and literature generated by them will be shared on social-media platforms as #MyFirstTrip.  They will announce to the world that destinations in God’s Own Country continue to be open for tourists.

Kerala Tourism Director V.R. Krishna Teja and Biju. B.S, Deputy Director, Marketing, Kerala Tourism, were also present at the function held at the Hotel Mascot in the city.

 “The trip will give the participants a chance to not just visit the famous tourist destinations in Kerala, but experience the cuisine, culture, art and other popular activities around,” Smt George said.

 “Tourism industry was struck by the pandemic and Kerala was no exception. Gradually, we learned to live on with Covid-19. We started to see visitors coming to Kerala from November-December 2020. Now, these vloggers can also spread the word to the world that Kerala is safer to explore since Covid-19 cases are on the decline in the state. So, people would understand the situation,” she added.

 Teja, in his address, said that through the trip, the vloggers would certainly experience the warmth of people and understand how safe the state was to explore.

 While the previous editions of the Kerala Blog Express had only international bloggers and social media influencers, My First Trip 2021 has only domestic influencers and aims to provide additional impetus to the current domestic marketing initiatives of Kerala.

Hyatt Hotels announced plans to grow its brand footprint in India – one of Hyatt’s top three growth markets globally – by more than 70% by 2023. With over 20 executed managed and franchised agreements, Hyatt will add over 3,600 keys to its existing portfolio of 32 Hyatt-branded hotels across eight distinct brands in the country, including Andaz, Alila, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt, Hyatt Centric and Hyatt Place brands.

This announcement signals significant intentional growth plans for Hyatt, bringing the number of Hyatt-branded hotels in India to more than 50 by the end of 2023, resulting in a more diverse portfolio of hotel offerings in new and existing markets.

“Hyatt’s pipeline in India reflects a thoughtful growth strategy by expanding into new markets and leisure destinations that are relevant to our guests and customers. We are thrilled to collaborate with a number of new and existing owners to bring these exciting projects to fruition. We are also focused on expanding our independent collection portfolio by teaming up with owners and developers who are eager to leverage our global distribution network and World of Hyatt loyalty program,” Dhruva Rathore, Hyatt’s Vice President Real Estate & Development, India, said.

In 2021, Hyatt plans to primarily expand its Hyatt Regency and Hyatt Place brands. The Hyatt Regency brand, which continues to drive Hyatt’s brand growth in India, will enter two new markets with Hyatt Regency Jaipur Mansoravar and Hyatt Regency Trivandrum. The Hyatt Place brand will enter four new markets with Hyatt Place Bodh Gaya, Hyatt Place Jaipur Malviya Nagar, Hyatt Place Vadodara and Hyatt Place Bharuch.

“India remains a growth driver for Hyatt, and we are committed to catering to the Indian traveler with a comprehensive portfolio of hotels,” said Sunjae Sharma, Hyatt’s Vice President & Country Head, India.

“Despite the challenges the industry faced last year, Hyatt signed eight new hotels across various brands that will cater to the needs of both leisure and business travelers. The growth of the Hyatt Place and Hyatt Regency brands remain a key priority for India, with nearly 20 hotels under these brands expected to open across India by 2023.”

South African Tourism (SA Tourism) and Netflix have agreed to explore joint opportunities that will benefit both organizations to showcase stories made in South Africa and watched by the world.

The agreement will allow for exploration and collaboration on projects both in South Africa and in key source markets that drive international arrivals to the country.

Netflix stories provide a global platform to showcase South Africa to the world through content made in South Africa, to be watched by the world. To date, the streaming service has released a diverse slate of content from South Africa across different genres including; Netflix original series like Queen Sono, Blood & Water, How To Ruin Christmas: The Wedding, Kings of Joburg; films like Seriously Single, Catching Feelings, Santana, Baby Mamas, Keeping up with the Kandasamys and most recently; the Oscar-nominated nature documentary My Octopus Teacher and Netflix’s first original stand-up show, Loyiso Gola’s Unlearning (which premiered this week on 23 March).

Netflix has also brought stories from other parts of the world that were filmed in South Africa, like the films Holiday in the Wild and Last Days of American Crime as well as global Netflix series, Sacred Games, The Crown, Black Mirror and Kissing Booth (1 & 2).

“As we continue to lure the world to our beautiful country in these trying times, we have to look at non-traditional tourism partnerships as a source of driving arrivals,” explains Sisa Ntshona, CEO, SA Tourism.

“Netflix reaches millions of eyeballs globally, and by working closely with Netflix, we are able to latch onto a massive opportunity to influence the audience to think more closely about South Africa and thus convincing them to visit our country.”

The partnership will also see SA Tourism working closely with Netflix in promoting the country’s must-visit sights through its locally-produced series into international markets.

“We have 11 global country offices and there will always be opportunities for our international offices in key source markets to latch onto opportunities to showcase South Africa through the title Netflix launch,” adds Ntshona.

“This past year, when entertainment mattered more than ever, our 204 million members around the world connected with new worlds, and most importantly with each other, through stories from South Africa and across the globe,” says Ben Amadasun, Netflix Director of Content in Africa.

Qatar Airways has announced its summer schedule, maintaining its position as the leading international carrier providing reliable global connectivity. By the peak of the IATA Summer Season, Qatar Airways plans to operate over 1,200 weekly flights to more than 140 destinations.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are proud to lead the recovery of international aviation, implementing the highest standards of bio-safety and hygiene and investing in the latest innovations to simplify travel and restore passenger confidence during the most challenging period in aviation’s history.

“Having never stopped flying throughout the pandemic, we have used our unrivalled experience and modern, fuel-efficient fleet to operate a sustainable and reliable network our passengers, trade partners and corporate customers can rely on. We also continue to offer the largest international network, including launching seven new destinations, to provide the connectivity our passengers and cargo customers need.

“As the global vaccine rollout begins to gather pace, we look forward to a gradual easing of entry restrictions throughout 2021 and welcoming back our millions of passengers on board the World’s Best Airline.”

Qatar Airways Cargo has played a vital role in maintaining a reliable schedule across the network of destinations. Since the onset of the pandemic, Qatar Airways has helped transport over 500,000 tonnes of medical supplies and delivered more than 15,000,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines to over 20 countries. The cargo carrier continues to focus on supporting its customers’ business and enabling global trade, while supporting impacted regions worldwide.

Qatar Airways continues to expand its network of destinations, offering more flights to international destinations than any other airline. By the middle of summer 2021, Qatar Airways’ plans to rebuild its network to more than 140 destinations including 23 in Africa, 14 in the Americas, 43 in Asia-Pacific, 43 in Europe and 19 in Middle East. Many cities will be served with a strong schedule with daily or more frequencies.

SpiceJet has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Avenue Capital Group, New York for a strategic alliance in respect of the financing, acquisition and sale and lease-back of 50 new planes to be ordered by the airline.

The MoU sets out the next steps and conditions upon which Avenue, as part of the strategic alliance with SpiceJet, will assist with placing of SpiceJet's new aircraft portfolio including sale and lease-back of and also assumption of ownership of potentially up to 50 of these aircraft.

Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet, said, "We are delighted to enter into this strategic alliance with Avenue Capital Group and we look forward to closely working with them. This alliance will ensure a seamless induction of the planes in our fleet and help us plan better for the long term."

SpiceJet now entitles passengers to make changes in your travel at least 7 days prior to the date of departure with its 'Zero Change fee' offer. The new offering allows passengers to modify tickets with one-time waiver of the charges without any hassle. Additionally, the airline has also introduced special discounted price for an array of add-on services such as seats, meals, SpiceMax and You1st.

The offer thus aims to extend significant flexibility and cost savings to all its passengers in these unprecedented times. Under the new offering, passengers booking direct domestic flight tickets during 27 March, 2021 and 4 April, 2021 can enjoy a one-time waiver on the change fee for the travel period between 27th March, 2021 and 30th June, 2021. Fare difference will be applicable for flight changes and shall be payable by the customer.

Besides, passengers can also enjoy add-on services such as - You1st preferred seats and meals at a nominal add-on fee of just Rs 249/- only. One can also avail an upgrade to SpiceMax (with benefits like extra legroom seats, complimentary meals & priority services) at a special discounted price of Rs 799/- only.

The offer is valid on bookings made via all channels including SpiceJet's website, mobile site, reservations, airport ticketing counter, OTAs etc. Fare difference will be applicable for flight changes and facilitation fee shall be applicable for flight change requested through Reservations or Airport Ticketing Counters.

Passengers will be able to avail the waiver of change fee one time only. In case the flight is changed by customer for the second time, applicable change fee as per standard terms shall be charged.

SpiceJet introduced a COVID insurance cover including tests, medication and consultations upon testing positive for COVID-19.

 

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