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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

A recent study by McKinsey and Company showed that global spending on experiences like concerts, amusement parks, eating out, and traveling has grown more than 1.5 times faster than spending on personal consumption, and about four times faster than spending on goods. This emergence of the experience economy is a trend that hotels and other hospitality businesses should leverage for higher revenue and improved brand loyalty by providing exceptional experiences.

In the last year, India had about 10.56 million foreign tourists, and reported about 1.68 billion domestic travelers in 2017. The largest growing segment of these travelers are millennials, and that is because of a few different reasons. In comparison to previous generations, millennials tend to have a much larger overall awareness of the world and a much higher disposable income as well. More so, millennials are much more likely to spend on experiences over basic services.

Guests are constantly seeking great experiences with every hospitality brand they interact with on their travels.. Participants in the hospitality industry that fail to design and provide engaging guest experiences won’t be able to measure up to modern guests’ expectations.

In order to design and create such experiences, hotels and other hospitality participants will have to embrace and implement new and innovative technology platforms that will allow them to manage and create end-to-end experiences for guests. More so, these experiences will need to be comprehensive and tailored to the specific travel intent of each guest.

Even with the disruption of OTAs, hotels are still a space where guests still expect the hotel to act as the service provider and personalize their journey and experience. Hotels should take advantage of the ability to establish direct relationships with guests in a market where in addition to OTAs, Google and Amazon are becoming increasingly interested.

Hotels need to constantly improve and reinvent their core offerings and identify possible reasons if and why their guest experiences are not matching up to expectations. In order to stand out in the experience economy, hospitality businesses need to ensure the highest possible levels of guest satisfaction and embrace technology for personalization and constant analysis of guest reviews and feedback.

Some experiences can only be had in certain destinations. A traveler can only experience Oktoberfest in Germany, or can only take a picture in front of the Eiffel Tower in France. Hospitality businesses need to explore ways to ensure that guests have the serendipity of discovering these new experiences, all while keeping them engaged on their platform without them having to search for those experiences elsewhere. Hotels need to help their guests with area advice, available excursions and events in the area by partnering with non-competing travel operators to be the single source of guest experiences and add ancillary revenue while beefing up the guest experience.

Travelers have now started creating their own travel experience instead of being passive consumers. Consequently, hospitality businesses need to provide guests with platforms that serve hyper-personalized options for guests to create their experience from. These platforms will allow for delight in the guest journey, and will ultimately build brand loyalty and add revenue to hotels.

From tailored guest-centric experience packages, access to mobile concierges or in-room smart technology, hotels need to create experiences for guests that supercede mere service, or a product like a comfortable room.

Guests are constantly searching for new places and platforms that will allow them to have memorable and unique experiences they can share with friends and family. Not paying attention to rising trends in this new experience economy could prove to be the downfall of many hospitality businesses, unless new technology and innovative guest experiences become a core part of guest management.

By Pranjal Prashar, Co-Founder & CEO, Xperium


Thomas Cook (India) has launched ‘Undiscovered Antarctica’ a group tour package, in association with National Geographic Expeditions. Set to indulge India’s growing base of discerning travellers, the company promises an immersive experience of the fifth largest continent in the world, on board the luxurious Ponant Cruise.

According to a report from Amadeus, India’s luxury travel market is projected to grow at a rate of 12.8 percent YoY. This demand for luxury and experiential holidays is supported by Thomas Cook India’s internal data, which highlights an increase in queries for destinations such as Antarctica. Accessible for only a limited period during the year, Antarctica remains relatively untouched due to the lack of permanent human residence. It presents an ever-changing landscape and a milieu of experiences that take one right from the basics - cut out from the outside world- to a glimpse into the future. Priced at Rs. 9,99,999, Thomas Cook India’s Undiscovered Antarctica package of 12 nights-13 days, has been designed to provide an un-paralled experience, in one of the most remarkable and remote locations of the world.

The cruise takes travellers through the mythical Drake Passage, while they catch a glimpse of the majestic Humpback Whales and Albatrosses in action. The encounter with wildlife is further enhanced with delightful calls of the Adelie, Chinstrap, and Gentoo penguins, along with seals and seabirds that have their right of way, before any human. While an extensive part of the tour is spent on-board the cruise, travellers also have a chance to spend time steeped in the historic cities of Buenos Aires and Ushuaia, on arrival and departure, respectively. The comprehensive package includes lectures and sessions with a National Geographic expert and photographer on board the Expedition Cruise.

Guests on-board the cruise would also be able to enjoy a range of international cuisine with an essence of French, as part of the main course; and includes a delectable cheese platter, French wine, champagne, and more. The package offers evacuation insurance under its travel insurance cover, along with doctors and nurses present on-board. A learning-cum-fun engagement is provided via documentaries and historical lectures. In addition, guests will also be able to take part in kayaking, and opt for a day tour or a stay in the town of Ushuaia, when in Argentina.

Rajeev Kale, President & Country Head – Holidays, MICE, Visa, Thomas Cook (India) said, “With travel dynamics undergoing a revolutionary change, we are seeing an encouraging growth in queries for destinations like Antarctica which offer a distinctive journey of exploration, while creating an immersive experience both with oneself and the spectacular surrounds. Mindful of its unique and fragile eco-system, we are delighted to announce the launch of our ‘Undiscovered Antarctica’ tour package in association with National Geographic Expeditions.”

Vijay Nair, Associate Vice President & Country Head – National Geographic Expeditions said, “Antarctica is increasingly gaining popularity amongst travel enthusiasts who are always on the search of something exotic and unique. To address the rising demand to explore the white continent, we are pleased to partner with Thomas Cook to provide an immersive and experiential travel experience to Antarctica. Our Antarctica expeditions offer luxury cruise itineraries where travellers can experience astounding ice-covered landscapes, zodiac outings and explore plethora of wildlife along with our Natgeo experts, Photographers, explorers or scientists. Through these expeditions, we are not only providing travellers an immersive experience to explore the destination but also partnering them to be a catalyst for change built on the spirit of sustainable travel.”

As Cosmos prepares for launch of its 2020 vacations by the end of this month, the value-centric brand has unveiled a fresh look and feel, including new tagline, “Adventure is Knocking.”

Varesh Chopra, Regional Director – South Asia and Middle East, Globus family of brands said, “With our new branding, we’re celebrating the unparalleled and attainable access a Cosmos tour provides to the world’s ‘wow’ moments. We travel to discover new sights, experiences and sensations. On a Cosmos vacation, we make possible ‘never thought I would’ or ‘never imagined I could’ moments by making travel easy and affordable. That is what adventure means to us. The idea that ‘adventure is knocking’ captures the excitement that travel brings.”

With its new look and feel, Cosmos provides travellers with value-centric vacations in 67 countries on six continents. “Adventure is waiting for us – all of us – out in the world. With our vacations, priced from just US$79 a day, we’re helping travellers turn ‘what if’ moments into ‘I did’ realizations so they can expand their horizons, clear their heads and open their hearts to the world around them.”

Agents can celebrate Cosmos re-brand, with the introduction of new brochures, complimentary marketing materials and a new video, inviting their clients to discover adventures in the world around them.

Singapore Airlines has collaborated exclusively with the Condé Nast Traveller and Himalayan India’s Top Restaurant Awards 2019 to bring India’s finest gastronomy to its First and Business Class passengers.

The results of the 3rd edition of the Top Restaurant Awards will be announced in November. At the same time, one restaurant from the Top 50 list will be chosen to work with Singapore Airlines in Singapore to recreate a dish to be served in-flight from April 2020.

A special jury will select the winner from the Top 50 list. On the panel are: Senior management of Singapore Airlines, Sanjeev Kapoor, celebrity chef, part of Singapore Airlines’ International Culinary Panel, Divia Thani, Editor, Condé Nast Traveller India, Kuttiah KS, Vice-President & Head of Marketing, NourishCo Beverages

The chef and team of the winning restaurant will have the exciting opportunity to travel to Singapore and experience the state-of-the-art in-flight kitchen facilities used by the airline, to understand the challenges and nuances of cooking for air travel, and to recreate a signature dish in this environment. The dish will be served to First and Business Class passengers for one month starting April 2020.

Singapore Airlines has tied up with eight world-renowned chefs to create new dishes inspired by their cultures and experiences. These award-winning chefs of global stature form the airline’s International Culinary Panel. Set up in 1998, the panel works closely with the carrier’s own chefs to specially create the unique selection that is available for Singapore Airlines passengers.

The panel of internationally celebrated chefs currently includes: Alfred Portale - New York, USA, Carlo Cracco - Milan, Italy, Georges Blanc - Vonnas, France, Matthew Moran - Sydney, Australia, Sanjeev Kapoor - Mumbai, India, Suzanne Goin - Los Angeles, USA, Yoshihiro Murata - Kyoto, Japan, Zhu Jun - Shanghai, China

Yeoh Phee Teik, Senior Vice-President (Customer Experience), Singapore Airlines said, “We are delighted to partner with Condé Nast Traveller & Himalayan Top Restaurant Awards 2019 to recognise the best culinary talent in India and showcase a flavour of their offerings on board Singapore Airlines. Taking the winning dish to the skies demonstrates our continued efforts to bring top-quality dining to our customers.”

Divia Thani, Editor, Condé Nast Traveller India, says, “We are delighted to announce this unique partnership with Singapore Airlines, which is a testament to its commitment to excellence in the skies. Singapore Airlines’ in-flight meals truly reflect the cultures and experiences of its superlative line-up of international chefs—something exceptionally difficult to manage in the air. It is also a true recognition of India's Top Restaurant Awards, which is only two editions old and already the new benchmark for excellence in the premium dining space in India. Our Top 50 list is the list that matters most to the F&B industry and to consumers across India, and thanks to this new partnership with Singapore Airlines, it will receive a well-deserved global spotlight. Our restaurants across India deserve word recognition, and this is a great step. We have always believed that travel and food are inextricably linked, and this is an alliance we can all be very proud of.”

A growing number of parents in India are prioritising family vacations and taking their kids on different adventures, driven by the desire to spend a greater amount of time with their children, all whilst discovering new countries and cultures. A new survey from Yas Island Abu Dhabi offers absolutely essential advice for the 88 per cent of Indian parents who say their children are the biggest influencing factor whilst planning the perfect holiday.

Kids just want to get out and about, it seems, with the top three activities for kids in India listed as going to water parks (90 per cent) and travelling (88 per cent), followed by going to theme parks, going to the beach and finding new things to do (all 86 per cent). And as the preferred travel companion, Dad was the most popular amongst Indian children (72 per cent), followed by Mum (69 per cent) and siblings (34 per cent).

The top concerns when choosing a family holiday destination for parents in India are finding a family-friendly destination (48 per cent), keeping the children entertained (45 per cent) and finding activities for the whole family (32 per cent).  So, with 92 per cent and 88 per cent of parents shared their children’s interest in waterparks and theme parks respectively, Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island could provide fun for all the family.

The survey also revealed that:

Parents in India said their families are most interested in water parks (92 per cent), theme parks (88 per cent) and nature parks/gardens (88 per cent), when it comes to leisure activities

In India, 88 per cent of parents said their kids have the most influence on their choice of summer holiday activities, followed by mum or dad and online reviews (82 per cent)

Thinking about what they’d like their kids to do during the summer holidays, parents in India said outdoor/nature activities (37 per cent), go to water parks (33 per cent) and travel (31 per cent)

The top concerns when choosing a family holiday destination for parents are finding a family-friendly destination (48 per cent), keeping the children entertained (45 per cent) and finding activities for the whole family (32 per cent)

The things kids like most about their summer holidays were rated as going to exciting places (53 per cent) and more time with their family (29 per cent) and more playtime (29 per cent)

If they could pick one place to go on summer holiday, 30 per cent said somewhere close to nature and 15 per cent picked somewhere by the sea, with a similar number thinking they’d like to go somewhere cold (15 per cent)

Dad was the most popular travel companion for Indian kids (72 per cent), followed by Mum (69 per cent) and siblings (34 per cent)

Marriott International has announced the launch of its new Marriott BonvoyTM Events platform – MarriottBonvoyEvents.com. This new site is a comprehensive tool for meeting and event planners, building upon former Marriott International meetings site, Meetings Imagined.

The new platform will provide detailed information about the brand’s portfolio of more than 5,700 participating properties through a meetings and events lens. The platform will also serve as a source for inspiration, including insightful articles on the industry, tips and trends from meetings experts, success stories, destination highlights, promotions from hotels around the world and more.

“With the launch of Marriott Bonvoy Events, planners can easily navigate the depth and breadth of the Marriott International portfolio to select the property that best fits their meeting or event needs,” said Tammy Routh, Senior Vice President of Global Sales, Marriott International. “The website was designed to offer the facts and figures our clients need alongside inspiration to execute dynamic events, all in one user-friendly experience.”

Trafalgar has announced a new “Colombia Rediscovered” trip with the latest release of its 2020 Latin America trips, now featuring 13 itineraries across 8 countries. The Colombia itinerary offers travellers an insider look of Colombia as well as to learn about its indigenous people through a unique “Be My Guest” opportunity to meet one of Colombia’s leading anthropologist, Santiago Giraldo and some members from one of the country’s local indigenous mountain tribes.

 Julian Guerrero, Minister of Tourism for Colombia said, “Colombia is a mega diverse destination where one will fall in love with the warmth of its people. The food, the culture, the landscapes vary so much from place to place, from the Andes Mountains, to the Caribbean and into the Coffee Region. The negative perception of Colombia is mostly regarding what happened three decades ago. Colombia has changed dramatically, and the continuous growth in tourism for the past 15 years in double digits will hopefully reassure anyone considering visiting that Colombia is now a top destination.”

 On this 13-day trip around Colombia, guests will start from the capital city of Bogota, a visit to the Botero Museum, or a guided visit to Montserrate etcetra.

Auromatrix Hotels has announced the appointment of Sudhir Sinha as Chief Operating Officer, India, for the development of G6 Hospitality,  known for its iconic Hotel brands, Motel6 (M6), Hotel6 (H6) & Studio6 (S6) in the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. G6 has over 1400 hotels worldwide.

Sudhir was earlier President & Chief Operating Officer Best Western Hotels India, where he spearheaded the unprecedented development by signing 62 properties for the Chain. Prior to Best Western India, he was Vice-President of Development and Franchise Services at Choice Hotels. He has over 30 years of experience in the industry.

Booking.com announces the rankings of cities that proved most popular for travellers booking in India in the first half of 2019, giving a holistic overview of travel destinations and preferences of both Indian and international travellers travelling within and to India in Q1 and Q2. Rishikesh, Varanasi, Tiruchchirappalli, Nedumbassery and Munnar are also revealed to be amongst the fastest-growing destinations of first half of 2019.

Commenting on the trends, Ritu Mehrotra, Country Manager, India, Sri Lanka and Maldives at Booking.com said, “The market is increasingly growing, thriving with opportunities as a consequence of well informed and conscious travellers, wanting to explore newer destinations and accommodation options. While we’ve seen travel as a category grow in the first half of 2019, with increased digital penetration and social media usage this trend looks set to continue, with travellers seeking frequent contemporary getaways.”

Beyond the metro cities like Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata,  scenic and beach destinations were among the popular choice for Indian travellers travelling domestically, the next in line being: Jaipur, Kochi, Mysore, Ahmedabad, Ooty, Chandigarh,         Coimbatore, Pondicherry, Calangute and Varanasi.

South India tops the list for both International travellers visiting India as well as Indians travelling within India with destinations like Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kochi making it to the list of top 10 most popular states in the first half of 2019. While looking at North India, New Delhi, Jaipur and Agra were among top booked by travellers. For Indians travelling domestically, destinations like Amristar and Agra which were a popular choice last year during this time have been replaced with destinations like Coimbatore and Varanasi.

Amadeus has released three recommendations for online travel companies to ensure future growth. T3 carries here the details.

The online travel market is evolving – and fast. Asia Pacific travel markets, while diverse in their opportunities and challenges, are no longer isolated ecosystems. Consolidation is on the rise; big agencies have become mega brands and are acquiring smaller travel agencies to expand their product offerings and customer base. At the same time, local brands are defeating “the giants” through innovative solutions that focus on niche products or services that deliver unique travel experiences.

The competition is well and truly on to attract a traveler that is less loyal than ever before. Travelers today are demanding the same level of choice, personalized service and consistency across channels and devices, so they can compare and choose the option they desire. This will lead to a paradigm shift when it comes to flight retailing, where online travel players will need to rethink their search and booking flows for consumers to find the right product.


Ride the merchandising trend

“Merchandising is at the core of fundamental change taking place in the global airline distribution landscape. The unbundling of airlines’ ancillary products and services such as baggage fees, pre-assigned seats and airport transfers has been a major move for airlines to compete with attractive cheap fares. Today, the ability to cross-sell and up-sell optional services is now critical to secure revenue,” says Sebastien Gibergues, Vice President, Online Travel, Asia Pacific, Amadeus.

“Online travel companies should explore new methods of merchandising to differentiate with and improve the user shopping experience. This could include providing customized offers for customers at various price points through frequent flyer numbers, or assembling bundles for customers, such bundling airfares with seat selections and extra baggage,” he added.

eDreams ODIGEO has worked with Amadeus on its merchandising strategy. Now one of the world’s largest online travel companies, eDreams was one of the first players in Europe to implement the sale of extra baggage and seat selection as part of its wider product offering. The move paid off – eDreams was able to offer more personalized products and services, boosting its conversion levels and achieving its revenue diversification targets.

Reinvent retail flow to satisfy traveler demand 

“Travel offer unbundling will continue to fragment content, which is good news for online travel companies who will play an important role in helping consumers purchase the right product. However, the challenge will be how to best aggregate and normalize travel content from multiple sources, so it can be searched and compared by travel sellers and travelers,” says Gibergues.

“As a result, online travel companies will need to reinvent their retail flow to satisfy the customers’ demand for “search and compare”. This represents the combination of all functionalities, enabling online travel companies to differentiate and deliver a truly exclusive user experience. This means not only displaying the cheapest possible fares but also offering choice – fare families, baggage, seat selection and others – all in one simple, easy to use booking flow,” he added.

Leading this transformation is Goibibo, part of the Go-MMT group in India. The team is already experimenting with the creation of their own offers to help travelers better understand and compare airline fare families prices. Creating OTA branded bundles could allow consumers to identify what they need (Economy with extra luggage, Premium Economy with no exchange fee…) across multiple airlines. This also allows Goibibo to complement with missing services that would allow like for like comparison with other suppliers. This is a major paradigm shift in terms of user experience and needs to be handled with care. Their development team runs many AB testing scenarios to introduce these new features with optimal business upside, across all channels.

Build mutually beneficial partnerships across the industry

“As content chaos continues across the industry, the challenge for online travel companies is how to aggregate and normalize travel content from multiple sources,” says Gibergues. “Travel suppliers are seeking more control over how their products are displayed and sold across channels, which will bring both challenges and opportunities for online travel companies. Therefore, it is critical for online travel companies to build strategic partnerships in the industry – whether that be with technology providers, airlines or corporate travel companies.”

“Partnerships will enable online travel companies to have the widest and most accurate content choice to offer their customers, to deliver frictionless, end-to-end travel experiences,” he added.

Online travel company Travix is working with Amadeus to enable NDC content to sit alongside traditional EDIFACT technology so that it can be found through one search and displayed in an aggregated way to allow for easy comparison. FCM Travel Solutions and Flight Centre are also testing new graphical user interfaces to access NDC content in the Amadeus Selling Platform, to transform how they service bookings.

“The online travel market will be an exciting one to watch in the coming years”, says Gibergues. “Innovation will continue to spark growth and change across the sector. To remain competitive and ensure future growth, online travel companies in Asia Pacific will need to rethink their merchandising and retail flows, as well as look for opportunities to collaborate with others across the travel industry.” 



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