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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

OYO Rooms, one of India’s largest branded network of hotels, has announced a strategic agreement with Bharti Airtel - the third largest mobile services provider globally with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa. As part of this, Airtel will provide seamless internet connectivity and Direct-To-Home (DTH) services across more than 3,000 OYO Rooms pan India – enabling OYO Rooms’ customers to enjoy a world class in-room internet and TV viewing experience at no additional cost.

Commenting on the collaboration, Abhinav Sinha, COO, OYO Rooms said, “We started OYO to solve the problem of lack of predictability of experience in the Indian hospitality industry. Our vision is to provide quality customer experience - the OYO experience, to anyone, anywhere looking for a place to stay when not at home. Internet connectivity and digital TV solutions are important components of this experience. We are excited to partner with Airtel, the leader in this space, to deliver the best experience for our customers and are confident that Airtel’s experience in building innovative technology solutions globally will bolster OYO’s market position.”

Ashish Arora, CEO – Corporate Business, Bharti Airtel said, “We are excited to partner with a new-age firm like OYO Rooms across India by powering their Airtel DTH and internet services. With this partnership, OYO guests anywhere in the country will be able to enjoy a seamless, standardised and compelling in-room TV entertainment and internet experience – thus making OYO’s value proposition for its customers even more compelling.”

Starting with the cities of Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Chennai, this rollout will subsequently be implemented across all OYO Rooms in India in weeks to come.

TechProcess Payment Services, payment solutions company, has announced a successful implementation of its mobile-first payment platform, Paynimo for Berggruen Group owned Keys Chain of Hotels. With this, the customers of the Keys Chain of hotels will be able to avail secure and convenient services such as online payments including hotel services at minimal taps.

Kumar Karpe, CEO, TechProcess Payment Services said, “We believe Paynimo will be an enabler for a seamless payment experience for Keys Hotels customers across India and serve a great purpose on enhancing customer experience. Our secured payment platform will act as a ‘Super Wallet’ and it will spur the activation of debit, credit and prepaid cards. We are delighted to partner with Keys Hotels, which has always been ahead of times in its approach to ensure customer delight.”

 Paynimo’s value proposition comprises harnessing the potential of existing payment methods in the consumers’ hands and facilitating cashless transactions. The platform operates independent of stashing cash in it. Thus both consumers and merchants can opt for a secured ecosystem to transact without cash.

 Vikas Chadha, Executive Director and CFO, Keys Hotel said, “As a pioneer in providing innovative guest solutions, we are excited to offer Paynimo, a mobile-first payments platform. We believe this will result in smooth reservations and checkout experience for our esteemed guests. With Paynimo, it is now easier to gain new customers, retain existing customers with a far superior reservation and payment experience preventing drop offs, hence resulting in efficient collections of funds.”

The British High Commissioner for India Sir James Bevan formally opened the UK & Ireland’s new Visa Application Centre (VAC) in Connaught Place, Delhi. The new VAC brings a number of benefits to customers in the capital.

The new Centre is situated in the same premises as the Schengen VAC, allowing customers planning a European holiday or business trip the convenience of applying for both visas at the same time. Customers can simply apply for their UK visa, purchase the passport passback service in order to keep their passport while their UK application is processed, and then go across the hall to the Schengen VAC to apply for their Schengen visa.

The High Commissioner opined that more Indian visitors will be inspired to choose the UK for their next holiday following Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the UK last week. “We are committed to improving the visa service we offer to Indian customers to make it as straightforward as possible to apply for a visa and the opening of this new Visa Application Centre is another example of the improvements we are making,” he added.

“We have seen a large increase in the number of Indians travelling to Ireland in recent years and I’m sure this new facility will help the Embassy in providing a high quality service to our visa applicants. The introduction of the British Irish Visa Scheme has made it more convenient and better value for Indian visitors to travel to both Ireland and Britain as they now require only one visa in order to visit both countries,”  Gerry Kelly, Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Ireland, said.

The new services include online payment assistance, certification, walk- in appointments, digital assist and group appointments regardless of the size of the group. The new VAC replaces the one in Nehru Place, which closed on 6 November and no longer accepts visa applications.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts recently opened the first Le Meridien in Dhaka, capital of Bangla Desh. The launch, celebrated with a grand celebration night, saw the presence of over 300 dignitaries from the political, business and art worlds to experience the brand’s signature programs intertwined with local arts and culture. The Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism of Bangladesh, Rashed Khan Menon, was the guest of honour. One of the evening’s highlights included a live performance by the nation’s popular folk band, Joler Gaan (Songs of the Water), known for their contemporary reinterpretation of Bangladeshi rural music.

“We are delighted to unlock the latest destination of Le Méridien in Dhaka through the First Night celebrations, bringing a passion for contemporary arts to life amid Dhaka’s bustling cityscape,” said Dilip Puri, Managing Director India & Regional Vice President, South Asia, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “Through its unique programming, Le Méridien Dhaka triggers curiosity, inspires and encourages dialogue among our guests.”

Situated near Dhaka International Airport, Le Méridien Dhaka offers 304 guestrooms and suites and as many as 6 dining outlets. The hotel features the brand’s  innovative lobby concept, which reflects the  creative spirit through styling elements inspired by coffeehouses, travel and culture. The hotel’s spa features 6 therapy rooms and offers a variety of local and international therapies.

 “We are honoured to partner with Starwood Hotels & Resorts to unveil the first Le Méridien hotel in the country,” stated Mr Amin Ahmad, Chairman of Best Holdings Limited, owning company of Le Méridien Dhaka. “We are confident that the hotel, combining chic modern design with a focus on the arts, creative cuisine and inspiring local culture, will create uniquely memorable experiences and strengthen guest loyalty.”

Following the international unveiling of the Qatar Destination Brand at the World Travel Market in London, the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) has launched the initial sub-brand: Qatar Business Events.

The brand aims to consolidate the image and promotional efforts of stakeholders in Qatar’s business events sector, and will be supported by visuals highlighting the Art of Business offerings in Qatar focusing on the world-class facilities and attractions that underpin Qatar as a leading choice for business events.

Hamad Al-Abdan, Director of Exhibitions, QTA said, “It is very fitting for this to be the initial sub-brand we launch, in line with the substantial number of visitors to Qatar being business tourists, attending a vast business spectrum of more than 150 events staged annually. We believe our business events tourism sector is set for success, with growing event management services, exhibition capacity of 70,000 square metres, including world-class venues such as QNCC and the recently opened Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, an expanded transport network, as well as exceptional accessibility via Qatar Airways’ reach to 150 destinations worldwide.”

In Qatar, a country heavily reliant on its hydrocarbon wealth, tourism is playing a pivotal role in diversifying the nation’s economy, providing a shield from oil price fluctuations.

Qatar’s tourism strategy seeks to triple the number of business events tourists by 2030, contributing at least half of the country’s revenue from tourism spending.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched the new Amazing Thailand logo. TAT launched the logo amidst global travel trade leaders at the World Travel Mart (WTM) in London.

 Yuthasak Supasorn, TAT Governor said, “One of Thailand’s most important initiatives at this year’s WTM is the launch of the new ‘Amazing Thailand’ logo, which features the famous Thai Smile. Thailand is also known as the Land of Smiles, and the new logo builds on that in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship, fun and happiness.”

Ornate details of the traditional Thai Kanok (a typically Thai design) pattern have been adjusted to create the ‘Smile’ symbol. The letter ‘A’ in the word ‘Thailand’ has been re-designed to look like a pair of smiling eyes, which, when accompanied with the ‘Smile’ symbol, perfectly form a person’s smiling face.

To create buzz around the new logo, TAT organised a ‘London Bus Wrapping’ with the new Amazing Thailand smile logo. The bus offered attendees the opportunity to enjoy a free cup of Doi Chang coffee, and a free Thai massage.

Soraya Homchuen, Director, TAT Mumbai said, “I think that the new logo will work well in the Indian market because most Indian travellers and travel agents are very vocal about their various amazing experiences of Thai people’s warm hospitality. It has a special relevance in India because hospitality is a significant USP of India’s culture also.”

RoomsTonite, one of India’s largest mobile marketplaces for last-minute hotel bookings has recently released a trend report on 11th hour hotel bookings in India. Based on the usage patterns of over 150,000 users, it was discovered that Bengaluru tops the list of destinations for which last-minute bookings are made followed by New Delhi and Mumbai. The report also established that out of the total last-minute hotel bookings made on the app, over 60 per cent were made by business travellers and the rest by leisure travellers.

Speaking on the report, Suresh John, CEO and Founder, RoomsTonite said, “Through this trend report, we map the interesting booking propensities of our users. As a last-minute hotel booking channel, our value proposition is unique and users turn to our app to address a very specific need.”

Interestingly, comfort hotels emerged as the most preferred category of travellers whose plans got firmed up at the last minute. RoomsTonite also studied booking preferences by segregating Android and iOS users. The booking value of iOS users surpassed those of Android loyalists by 1.3 times while the time spent on the app by Android users was almost 3.5 minutes more.

Brand USA has announced that it is introducing VisitTheUSA.com as its new global consumer website address to reach international travellers. Brand USA’s current consumer website address, DiscoverAmerica.com, will continue to be live in the market place.

The new URL is being introduced over the course of Brand USA’s 2016 fiscal year in all markets where the organization currently promotes travel to the United States, with the exception of China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, and Taiwan. In those markets, Brand USA’s online consumer presence is promoted to travellers as GoUSA.com (and the related in-country extensions), because consumer testing indicated the GoUSA address resonated more clearly with travellers in those markets.

Brand USA’s business-to-business and corporate URL address will continue to be found at TheBrandUSA.com.

“We expect to complete the introduction to VisitTheUSA over the course of several months through a purposeful, soft launch that enables us to fully test and optimize the site as we also begin work to enhance the content and functionality of our consumer website and evolve our consumer marketing campaigns,” said Christopher L. Thompson, Brand USA’s president and CEO.

Thompson cited several reasons for introducing a new website URL as its core online presence, including its strong alignment with its mission to welcome and increase the number of travellers who visit the United States, as well as the fact that “America” is more than just the USA.

“In many parts of the world, we found that international travellers felt our use of ‘America’ in our current consumer website address was overreaching, because America is comprised of more than just the United States. While ‘America” resonates strongly in many parts of the world, in others the Americas refers to one continent comprised of North, Central, and South America,” Thompson said. “And those three subcontinents include 35 different countries.”

The Indian Hotels Company Ltd. (Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces) has decided to discontinue its management contract for The Gateway Hotel, Jodhpur and The Gateway Hotel, Ummed Ahmedabad. Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces will continue managing the hotels as per previously agreed contractual terms until 9th May, 2016.

“The Taj remains fully committed to honouring all its contractual obligations to our stakeholders during this period," said Rakhee Lalvani, Associate Vice President – Public Relations - Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces.

The Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board is supporting DRONAH Foundation in association with UNESCO - New Delhi, INTACH -Punjab Chapter, ASI Chandigarh Circle, Department of Architecture – Guru Nanak Dev University Amritsar and Chitkara University - Punjab Campus in celebrating Heritage Week in Punjab – Amritsar, Patiala and Chandigarh - between 19th to 24th of November with a number of activities lined up for each day.

The first leg of the Heritage Week was successfully kicked off in Amritsar on the 19th of November. The activities included a Heritage Walk, painting competition for  school children  and a panel discussion on ‘The state of Tourism and Heritage in Amritsar’ hosted by Department of Architecture, Guru Nanak Dev University. Shree Bakshi Ram Arora, Honourable Mayor, Amritsar was the chief guest on the occasion. He addressed the audience in the panel discussion, which raised some important issues related to heritage and tourism in the Amritsar.

The heritage walk led by Punjab Tourism guides took students from colleges around the built structures of the city while school children participated in a painting competition on the theme culture and Heritage and Punjab

The talk on ‘The State of Heritage and Tourism’ in Amritsar was opened with a welcome address by Architect Meenakshi Singhal, Head of Architecture Department, Guru Nanak Dev University. For the panel discussion, Shikha Jain, Chairperson DRONAH Foundation opened the discussion with an overview of heritage conservation work going on in Punjab and the importance of continuous partnerships required to position Punjab in the heritage tourism scene.  Balwinder Singh of Guru Ramdas School of Planning, GNDU made presentation on the potential tourism circuits in Punjab and the need to develop them. Honourable Mayor, Shree Bakshi Singh Arora talked about the on-going projects in the city and the practical measures that are aimed at bringing Amritsar as a great tourism destination. Another panelist, Sukhdev Singh, INTACH Convenor, Punjab Chapter asserted the need to make the people aware of our heritage. Professor Sarabjot Behl, Senior Faculty, Department of Architecture, summarized the entire discussion by pointing out how the economic sustainability of heritage can be sustained by tourism and the importance of public-private partnership to preserve and protect our heritage. He also very poignantly highlighted on the need to bring together the intangible and tangible parts of heritage and the importance of going beyond the built form while talking of heritage.

The discussion was quite fruitful in raising the debate that exists between heritage and tourism and how the two should be brought together for sustainable economic development of Amritsar.



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