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T3 News Network

T3 News Network

Microsoft and OYO have entered a multi-year strategic alliance to co-develop next-gen travel and hospitality products and technologies. OYO will adopt Microsoft Azure as a key enabler to drive cloud-based innovations and reimagine the hospitality and travel tech industry. The solutions will be geared to benefit patrons who operate small and medium hotel and home storefronts. Microsoft has also made a strategic equity investment in OYO.

Abhinav Sinha, Global COO & Chief Product Officer - OYO Hotels & Homes said, “We are excited to join hands with Microsoft in our constant endeavor to improve business opportunities for the small and independent hotel and home owners, and to redefine experiences for travellers. Our patron app ecosystem provides a ~1.4-2.4X lift in revenues for new hotels and homes that join the OYO network. We do this through our products, and application of (Machine Learning) ML and (Artificial Intelligence) AI, be it running millions of pricing optimizations per day to increase revenues or enabling users to book an OYO within seconds.

"Our technology and products have helped our patrons drive operational efficiencies and continuously improve the experience for our guests. This alliance with Microsoft will accelerate the deployment of our products in the hands of small businesses we work with, allowing us to create even more impact through an integrated technology ecosystem available on the cloud for businesses in the remotest corners of the world. For our guests, this alliance will mean more personalization, better choices, differentiated experiences and an improved guest experience in the future. Microsoft’s commitment is further strengthened by the equity investment in the company.”

As part of this alliance, OYO will develop Smart Room experiences for travellers on the OYO platform, such as premium and customized in-room experiences for its guests. Using Microsoft’s Azure IoT, the experience will include self-check-in supported by a digital register of arrivals and departures and self-Know Your Customer (KYC) along with IoT-managed smart locks and virtual assistance.

“Combining the power of Azure with the tech and product stack developed by OYO, we are looking forward to accelerating innovation in travel and hospitality,” said Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India. “It is inspiring to see how the Microsoft cloud is empowering digital natives like OYO to accelerate industry transformation and innovations, turning the challenges of a post-pandemic era into opportunities for the future.”

The alliance includes deep technological engagement between the two companies. Besides co-innovating, OYO will also begin to share existing workloads to Microsoft Azure, adopt the Microsoft 365 suite for better collaboration and productivity and switch to Github Enterprise for accelerating tech development in a secure manner. In a bid to make OYO’s technologies easily accessible across the world, the company is also working on several products to ease patron onboarding.

Etihad Airways is set to embark on a major digital transformation following the signing of a landmark multi-year deal with Amadeus.

As part of the deal, Etihad Airways will implement the full Amadeus Altéa PSS suite, including web booking, revenue management and merchandising, data management and passenger servicing solutions. These technology products will be customised for Etihad over the coming years and will improve the experience of guests, staff, travel agents, Etihad Guest members, and corporate customers.

To modernise retailing capabilities across sales channels, Etihad has also signed for Amadeus Altéa NDC (New Distribution Capability) and will work with Amadeus to distribute personalised travel offers to guests. Etihad will make its full range of NDC offers available to Amadeus travel sellers, allowing agents to see the features of Etihad’s award-winning product more transparently and the ancillaries that can be bought.

The airline will, in addition, implement the Altéa Departure Control Customer Management component of the suite, providing guests with real-time, personalised alerts of offers, services, and flight changes. The system will offer a higher level of service customisation and provide guests with a faster and simpler check-in process, which is more important than ever as travel rebuilds.

Mohammad Al Bulooki, Chief Operating Officer, Etihad, says: “The aviation industry is going through a digital revolution, and Etihad Airways is committed to staying at the forefront of that change. With Amadeus as a partner, Etihad’s guests will be able to enjoy the best user experience possible as they book and manage their flights, with the ability to customise their travel to an unprecedented level. Etihad is also excited to push NDC forward as a means to offer a much richer, relevant and dynamic shopping experience to trade partners, and Amadeus is the perfect partner to support that strategy.”

Decius Valmorbida, President, Travel, Amadeus, says: “As the travel industry rebuilds, we are excited that Etihad Airways will be utilising Amadeus’ technology to support the airline in delivering its leading travel proposition. Open source, cloud-based systems and next generation retailing capabilities will be the engine powering recovery, and we are at the forefront of these technologies in the travel industry. We are very pleased to be working with such a dynamic carrier like Etihad and are excited about collaborating to create memorable travel experiences for its passengers.”

In line with its commitment to enhance domestic connectivity, IndiGo, India's leading airline will be adding 38 daily flights on its 6E network in the month of September. These 38 new flights will include 24 6E only connecting flights, 2 new flights and 12 flights that the airline will be relaunching after the second wave. IndiGo will operate new flights between Raipur-Pune, while restarting flights between Lucknow-Ranchi, Bengaluru-Vishakhapatnam, Chennai-Indore, Lucknow-Raipur, Mumbai-Guwahati, and Ahmedabad-Indore.

IndiGo will operate 24 flights between Ahmedabad-Agartala (via Kolkata), Chennai-Chandigarh (via Hyderabad), Chennai-Vadodara (via Hyderabad), Kolkata-Kozhikode (via Bengaluru), Kolkata-Coimbatore (via Hyderabad), Chandigarh-Patna (via Lucknow), Chandigarh-Ranchi (via Lucknow), Chandigarh-Hyderabad (via Delhi), Coimbatore-Lucknow (via Hyderabad), Coimbatore-Udaipur (via Bengaluru), Delhi-Silchar (via Kolkata) and Hyderabad-Dibrugarh (via Kolkata).

Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, IndiGo said, "We are pleased to add 38 new flights to strengthen our domestic network. These flights will cater to the increased demand for travel and improve accessibility between metro and tier 2/3 cities. Strengthening connectivity between eastern, western, northern, and southern regions, increased accessibility will also promote trade and commerce. We will continue to offer new routes as per the travel demand across various sectors. It is our endeavour to consistently provide our signature on-time, courteous and hassle-free service at affordable fares, across our unparalleled 6E network".

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) on (9 September) officially launched a West Kowloon neighbourhood promotion, after featuring popular promotions Old Town Central and Sham Shui Po  Every Bit Local in the Hong Kong Neighbourhoods campaign. The West Kowloon neighbourhood programme highlighting the districts rich heritage and vibrant street life in Yau Ma Tei and Jordan along with its two new world-class museums  M+ and the Hong Kong Palace Museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD)  which will open in the end of the year and next and become landmarks in art and cultural tourism. As art is inseparable from our life, the West Kowloon neighbourhood promotion builds a bridge between the local life of the bustling communities of Yau Ma Tei and Jordan, which are home to many historical architectures, time-tested stores and traditional craftsmanship, and the artistic lure of the WKCD. Throughout the continuous evolution and revitalisation, the neighbourhood has a lot of astonishing experiences for the public and visitors to uncover. The HKTB expects the campaign to draw people from across the city to rediscover it from new perspectives to drive in-depth local tourism and stimulate economic activities in the neighbourhood.

Dane Cheng, Executive Director, HKTB, said, “Experiential tourism is a rising and inspiring trend, particularly where it blends arts and culture with authentic local life. The HKTB has chosen to launch this large-scale promotion before borders reopen because we want residents to savour the experience first and discover hidden gems in their community, rekindling their enthusiasm and appreciation and creating a harmonious art-life aura in the West Kowloon neighbourhood. We hope Hong Kong people will then share their experiences with friends and relatives outside Hong Kong. Besides, visitors around the world are eager to travel as soon as travel restrictions are eased, and we will be able to capitalise on the opportunities if we are well prepared in advance. We are also encouraging tour operators to create in-depth tours for residents to help them plan ahead for the return of visitors.”

Kerala Tourism Department has launched its mobile app which ensures a hassle-free travel for tourists coming to Kerala and giving them an opportunity to discover unexplored attractions themselves and record their impressions during the visit.

Super star Mohanlal unveiled the app at The Raviz, Kovalam, in the presence of Tourism Minister PA Mohamed Riyas. Dr V Venu, Additional Chief Secretary, Kerala Tourism, was also present.

Riyas, said, “Besides providing all information about destinations and services at your fingertips, a key feature of this app is that it identifies unexplored destinations in all panchayats in Kerala. It will help attractive local tourist spots to grab global attention.”

Mohanlal said that the launch of the app would be a blessing for travellers, who would like to explore God’s Own Country extensively.

Dr Venu said that the app was designed with a view to providing all services to tourists. “Tourism Minister’s direct contribution was there during the preparation of this user-friendly app. It has the facility to add user-generated content, and thus, going forward, it can give a kind of modular growth.”

The in-progress app is designed in such a way that a visitor gets the opportunity to write about any unexplored destinations and experiences through the option ‘Create Story’.

The app will be further upgraded with more innovative features within six months. In the next phase of the app, tourists can make enquiries using ‘Voice Assistant’ facility, which will give answers through voice, eliminating the difficulty in typing letters.

Moreover, the app makes the current toilet mapping activities very fast as it helps those travelling inside Kerala to find out safe and hygienic rest rooms nearby. Tourists can also explore restaurants and eateries that offer delicious Kerala cuisine and relish local flavours as per their choice.

With the application of cutting-edge technologies like augmented reality in future, the app will have the dimensions of a gaming station and it will draw tremendous response from travelers across the world.

Giving added thrust to Kerala’s successful RT initiative, the app also enables tourists to experience the community driven model in its totality and will also help local communities to showcase their ethnic products globally.

SriLankan Airlines continuing to reaffirm the universal appeal of its marketing communication content won a Gold award for its campaign ‘#SriLankanPromises’ in the category ‘Marketing-Carrier’ at the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Gold Awards 2021.

This year’s virtual Award ceremony crowned 20 Gold Award winners and two Grand Title winners out of 113 entries submitted by travel and tourism organizations and individuals worldwide, adjudged by a panel of 18 industry experts. This is the third consecutive PATA Gold Award won by the Airline out of the overall count of four awards that it has managed to win so far.

#SriLankanPromises is the brand retention campaign steered by the Airline during the first global wave of the COVID 19 pandemic where all activities across the world, including air travel, came to an indefinite standstill. Therefore, in the absence of an actual opportunity to serve its valued customers, and openings where the customers and supporters could actively engage with the Airline brand, the campaign was aimed at spreading positivity, advocating the importance of staying home and retaining the enthusiasm and anticipation for future travel, all the while emphasizing the underlying message of safety and wellbeing. The campaign was well-received by the social media community with over two million impressions.

Ashok Pathirage, Chairman, SriLankan Airlines, said, “We are honoured to receive this award, especially at a time that we are resuming our global connectivity and inviting the world to experience our warmth and hospitality once again. As we look ahead for better days, an award is a validation that we are on the right track, and an inspiration to undertake more of such rewarding projects. I take this opportunity to thank PATA for this recognition, our supporters, well-wishers, and our valued customers across the globe for their support, goodwill and loyalty over the years.”

#SriLankanPromises campaign carried out through the Airline’s corporate social media pages present a threefold promise of the Airlines’ renowned service, the promise of taking the traveller to the marvels of its home base Sri Lanka and travellers across the globe to their desired destination on the wings of SriLankan Airlines. One of the extensions of the campaign is the in-lockdown content collectively created by the Airlines’ staff in commemoration of cultural festivities such as Vesak and Eid.

SriLankan Airlines also congratulates Cinnamon Hotel Management Limited, a PATA Grand Title winner for Sustainability and Social Responsibility for its initiative ‘Cinnamon Travel Pledge’ and considers it a privilege to stand alongside the renowned hospitality leader to make Sri Lanka proud at the much-coveted global forum.

Some of the other award winners were, Tourism Authority Thailand, MGM China, Meridian Adventure Dive Resort USA, Catalan Tourist Board Spain and Plaza Premium Group Hong Kong. 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced the appointment of Philip Goh as its Regional Vice President for Asia-Pacific. Goh succeeds Conrad Clifford, who has been IATA’s Deputy Director General since July 1, 2021.

Goh is a 34-year veteran of the airline industry. He has held various senior management roles at Singapore Airlines in Singapore and overseas, at Virgin Atlantic Airways in London, and has extensive experience working throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Most recently, he was Regional Vice President for the South West Pacific for Singapore Airlines (2017 to 2021), based in Sydney.

Reporting to the IATA Deputy Director General, Goh will lead IATA’s activities across Asia-Pacific, a region covering 37 countries and territories and home to 45 IATA member airlines. He is based in Singapore, where IATA’s Regional Office is located.

Clifford, said, “I am delighted to have Philip succeed me as Regional Vice President. His extensive airline experience and deep knowledge of the region will be particularly valuable in delivering IATA’s priorities across Asia-Pacific. He is well-prepared to lead IATA’s efforts on safety, sustainability, and recovery of international travel from COVID-19. Air transport is critically important to Asia-Pacific and I am confident that Philip will be both a passionate advocate for our members’ needs and a solid partner for governments.”

Goh, said, “I am deeply passionate about the aviation industry and have been associated with its growth and development throughout my professional life. I am humbled to be leading the IATA Asia-Pacific team at the most challenging time in our industry’s history. Foremost among our immediate priorities are engaging governments to safely re-open borders, reviving the travel and tourism economy, and restoring the people-to-people connections that travel facilitates. International aviation can then return to its crucial role as an engine to deliver social and economic benefits to countries and communities in Asia-Pacific.”

The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, owned and managed by a Brookfield Asset Management-sponsored private real estate fund, has been voted the World’s Best Hotel Brand for the second consecutive year by Travel + Leisure USA World’s Best Awards 2021.

This honour is a recognition of the brand’s consistency in pursuing excellence and its commitment towards curating authentic luxury experiences with the graciousness of Indian hospitality.

“We are truly humbled and excited to be voted The World’s Best Brand by the readers of Travel + Leisure USA for the second consecutive year. This is a testament to recognition The Leela brand enjoys and an appreciation of the hard work and dedication of our teams who go above and beyond every day, to deliver an impeccable luxury experience and make every guest’s stay a memorable one,” said Anuraag Bhatnagar, Chief Operating Officer, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts.

“Being recognized as ’The World’s Best Hotel Brand’ for the second year in a row is a tremendous achievement for The Leela hospitality business. Congratulations to the entire Leela team that has ensured the highest delivery of services despite the challenging time the world has witnessed this past year,” said Ankur Gupta, Managing Partner Brookfield Asset Management. “These awards are also a recognition of the appreciation that Indian hospitality enjoys globally, and the limitless potential of the travel and tourism industry in India.  Brookfield is committed to growing The Leela hospitality business both domestically and internationally while retaining its authentic Indian luxury offering.”

Jet Airways is all set to resume domestic operations in Q1 2022, according to the Jalan Kalrock Consortium, the successful resolution applicant of Jet Airways. The process of reviving the grounded carrier is on track with the existing Air Operator Certificate (AOC) already under process for revalidation. The Consortium is working closely with the relevant authorities and airport coordinators on slot allocation, required airport infrastructure, and night parking. Senior Members of the Jalan Kalrock Consortium along with Jet 2.0 Operations Team led by the newly appointed Capt. Sudhir Gaur, Accountable Manager, and acting CEO visited key airports last month and held productive meetings with them.

Murari Lal Jalan, Lead Member of the Jalan Kalrock Consortium and the proposed Non-Executive Chairman, Jet Airways, said, “We received the NCLT approval in June 2021, and since then we have been working closely with all concerned authorities to get the airline back in the skies. Jet Airways 2.0 aims at restarting domestic operations by Q1-2022, and short haul international operations by Q3/Q4 2022. Our plan is to have 50+ aircraft in three years and 100+ in five years which also fits perfectly well with the short-term and long-term business plan of the Consortium. The aircraft are being selected based on competitive long term leasing solutions. It is the first time in the history of Aviation that an airline grounded for more than 2 years is being revived and we are looking forward to being a part of this historic journey. The brand Jet Airways has a huge loyalty-base and we are confident that with industry stalwarts like Capt Gaur, we will be able to capitalize and create new benchmarks. We would like to assure all our loyal Jet Airways guests that your favourite airline will soon be back in the skies.”

The revival plan for Jet Airways is being implemented as approved by NCLT and all the creditors will be settled as per the plan in the coming months.

Sharing operational details, the new Accountable Manager and acting Capt. Gaur, CEO, Jet Airways, said, “Jet Airways is a brand which has grown bigger and stronger over the last two decades. In its new avatar, Jet Airways will now be headquartered in Delhi NCR with its senior management working from the Corporate Office at Gurugram. However, Jet Airways will continue to have strong and significant presence in Mumbai where it will work from its ‘Global One’ office in Kurla. Jet Airways also has a state-of-the-art training centre located at Global One, which will be retained and used for in-house training for the Jet Airways team.”

Capt Gaur, said, “We will start with domestic operations on an all narrow-body aircraft fleet leased from major global aircraft lessors who have approached us, and with whom we continue to engage. Jet Airways has already hired 150+ full time employees on its payroll and we are looking to onboard another 1,000+ employees FY 2021-22 across categories. The hiring will be in a phased manner and will be strictly on merit, to meet the operational requirements of the airline. The team at Jet Airways is committed to ensure that Jet Airways will restart its operations with its first flight from New Delhi to Mumbai by Q1 2022.”

Ambassador, New Delhi, the first IHCL SeleQtions Hotel in the Indian capital, has appointed Sheetal Singh as the General Manager of the hotel. Sheetal joins the hotel after her successful role as Director Rooms at Taj Bangalore. Sheetal brings with her years of valued knowledge and experience gained from her association with leading international and domestic hospitality groups. She has successfully essayed various roles since joining IHCL in 2008.

 

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