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Cathay Pacific and Qantas customers are set to benefit from a new codeshare agreement that leverages the strengths of each carrier’s regional networks and provides more options for customers travelling between Asia and Australia. The codeshare agreement will see Cathay Pacific add its code to 13 routes on Qantas’ domestic network in Australia. In turn, Qantas will add its code to Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon’s services within Asia from Hong Kong to 10 cities across India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, and on Cathay Pacific’s services from Hong Kong to Perth and Cairns. Customers of both airlines will also have increased opportunities to earn frequent flyer points through their respective loyalty programmes.
Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club members will earn more Club Points when travelling on a Cathay Pacific-coded flight. Similarly, Qantas Frequent Flyer members will be able to earn more Qantas Points and status credits when travelling on the Qantas-coded flights.
Cathay Pacific Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Paul Loo welcomed the agreement, saying a closer relationship between the two airlines was a win-win for the carriers’ customers. “As one of the founding members of the oneworld alliance, we are delighted to work with our oneworld partner, Qantas, to offer our customers with more travel options within Australia. This new cooperation enables us to strengthen our connectivity across our Southwest Pacific network as well as grow the oneworld alliance. Australia has been a key destination for Cathay Pacific ever since we launched our first commercial operations to the country nearly half a century ago, and we look forward to welcoming guests from Qantas onto our flights soon,” he said.
Qantas International CEO Alison Webster said the new codeshare agreement was part of Qantas’ strategy of operating to key global hubs and providing customers with access to an expanded network with airline partners based in those ports. “Building on the relationship we have with Cathay Pacific through oneworld, we’ll offer customers travelling from Australia more connections across Asia via Hong Kong, with the added benefit of a codeshare service,” said Alison. “This new codeshare partnership also forms part of our growth strategy for the broader Asia region, with strong demand for travel between Australia and Asia. It’s good news for Qantas customers who will have more travel options, greater opportunities to earn frequent flyer points, and a premium experience onboard both home carriers.”
Cathay Pacific and Qantas together operate more than 100 services a week between Hong Kong and Australia. As oneworld alliance partners, eligible customers will continue to enjoy access to both Cathay Pacific and Qantas lounges in Australia and Hong Kong, as well as other oneworld associated lounges across both airlines broader networks.
NICE has announced that Thomas Cook, among the world’s leading travel companies, has implemented NICE Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in its United Kingdom-based operations. With the combination of attended and unattended automation, the company is improving customer experience, streamlining its back office, ensuring consistency across markets and saving millions in operational costs over a 24-month period.
Graham Lee, Group Head RPA, Thomas Cook said, “At Thomas Cook, we are investing in process automation initiatives as a pillar of a transformation programme intended to liberate cash for investment in marketing and to accelerate growth. NICE RPA, with its scalability and flexibility, has met those goals with significant operational cost savings and support for our customer experience strategy in the UK. It has provided a great foundation for additional savings and efficiency enhancements using advanced process automation across our European offices, for internal business functions, and in the context of other enterprise activities.”
Thomas Cook elected to adopt NICE's advanced process automation solution in order to meet the challenge of servicing both internal and external customers across various markets and networks. The company deployed NICE RPA’s attended and unattended robots across its UK operations, including automation of its back-office activities. In addition, Thomas Cook brought its outsourced offshore activities back onshore and in-house at the UK contact centers thanks to the NICE RPA solution.
Replacing heavily manual processes involving inconsistent legacy systems with NICE RPA, Thomas Cook streamlined processes either by completely automating routine tasks or assisting agents to ensure more efficient customer interactions. These changes have driven millions in savings, reduced the average handle time of in-house processes, introduced global consistency in reporting, increased efficiency, and facilitated a greater focus on customer service.
Having seen the operational optimization, Thomas Cook is planning a phased roll-out of NICE RPA across all its European operations and within other divisions of its UK business activities.
The Thomas Cook Group is the oldest and best-known name in leisure travel, serving 19 million customers annually. The company operates 12 customer contact centers across Europe, including two sites in the United Kingdom that employ 900 agents. The prominent travel company handles a total of 26 million inbound and outbound interactions per annum in the region, including with travel consultants and direct customers via voice, email, web chat, and social media channels.
John O'Hara, President, NICE EMEA said, “We're excited to see NICE RPA making a significant difference at Thomas Cook by helping ensure efficient and effective operations. By combining both attended and unattended robots, the solution provides Thomas Cook with a platform to deliver on strategic objectives across all its markets with a consistency that improves both service and internal reporting. In the travel industry, automating routine tasks with NICE RPA is an important key in delivering customer service that's comprehensively streamlined in terms of processes and fuels greater engagement among frontline agents, both of which customers are attuned to. This makes all the difference in an economy where customer experience is king.”
The Ministry of Tourism clarifies that the Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs) in India from the USA during the year 2017 have registered a positive growth of 6.17 per cent over the year 2016. The FTAs from USA in India has never declined since the year 2010.
However, it is observed from the report of National Travel & Tourism Office (NTTO), USA that the outbound tourists from the USA to India have declined by seven per cent in the year 2017, as compared to year 2016. The figures of outbound travellers in the report are 1195000 and 1111000 for the year 2016 and 2017 respectively. In the said report released by NTTO, it is also mentioned that Traveller volume is based on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Advanced Passenger Information System wherein all airlines are required to electronically submit passenger data on flights arriving into and departing from the United States. Thus, it is obvious that the source of data for the report is only airlines reporting. In the cases where direct flight between USA and India is not operating, it is not known whether the final destination or the transit destination is reported as India by the passengers. Moreover, departures at International check posts other than airports are not captured in the report. Therefore, it may not contain the complete information on the outbound departures from the USA.
On the other hand, the Bureau of Immigration of India (BoI) compiles the data of (FTA) from the records of scanned passport of each person arriving at all the International Check Posts in India, which include Airports, Sea Ports and the Land Check Posts.
The Fern Hotels & Resorts, one of India's leading environmentally sensitive hotel chains has opened its first overseas property under The Fern Residency brand in Kathmandu. Though the company has been managing hotels in the Himalayan kingdom for a while now, it is for the first time that the company has forayed out of the country under its own brand. With this opening, the tally of the hotels managed by the group under The Fern Residency brand goes up to 23 hotels. Overall this is the 53rd hotel which is being managed by the group.
The Fern Residency, Kathmandu is located in the heart of the city. The major tourist attractions such as Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bhat Bhateni Supermarket are just 2 kilometres away from the hotel, whereas Thamel Tourist Hub and Durbar Marg Down Town are just 4 kilometres away.
The hotel offers a total of 58 rooms - 46 Winter Green Rooms, 10 Fern Club Rooms and two Hazel Suites. The hotel facilities include a finely designed multi-cuisine restaurant, a coffee shop, two conference rooms, health club with spa and a mini-casino. The hotel has easy access to the major sightseeing attractions in town and to public transport as well. The various facilities provided by the hotel include express check-in & check-out, complimentary buffet breakfast, high-speed Wi-Fi, in-room tea & coffee facility, health club, etc.
The COO of the company Suhail Kannampilly said, “We are delighted to offer guests visiting Nepal the Fern experience in Kathmandu and to enjoy the advantages of our environmentally sensitive brand. It is no mean achievement to take an Indian brand overseas and we want to further consolidate our position in India as well as internationally, to get to our target of 100 hotels by 2020.”
Avis India has introduced free car delivery and collection across all of its 10 rental locations in India, namely, Bangalore, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Chennai, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, and Kochi. This is in line with the evolution of the self-drive car rental space in India which is becoming increasingly organised to facilitate hassle-free access to a car without owning it in principle.
Availing free delivery and collection of self-drive cars means customers need not worry about peak hour rush in various modes of public transportation as well as about the long-term hassles that come with owning one’s own vehicle – traffic congestions, limited parking spaces, monotony, maintenance costs etc. Additionally, one saves on both cost and time as they can get the car delivered to and picked up from their doorstep without the inconvenience caused by traffic jams, monsoon rains and unprecedented hurdles on the route to picking up and delivering the rented car.
Sunil Gupta, Managing Director and CEO, Avis India said, “Avis India is the domain leader in the car rental industry and aims to provide premium car rental solutions for hassle-free transportation across all rental locations in India. Our free doorstep delivery and pickup service for self-drive rentals is another step towards ensuring the same. This feature allows us to delight our customers with a first-rate ground transportation experience and make travel planning more convenient for them.”
All adults with valid government identification can book a self-drive car through the Avis India website and mobile app in under a minute and receive instant booking confirmation both via email and SMS. One can rent a car of their choice for a preferred duration (hourly, daily, weekly and even monthly) and benefit from a host of value-added benefits such as GPS, complimentary Wi-Fi, unlimited mileage, option to add an additional driver, child safety seat, along with a car upgrade in case the car selected by the customer is sold out.
Avis India is also the first company in India to offer international chauffeur-drive services along with the existing self-drive services in 180 countries, Avis India is dedicated to uphold the core values of commitment, integrity, and responsibility. Focused on its customers, people, innovation, and efficiency, Avis continually strives to develop innovative new service initiatives to improve speed, clarity, and choice for its customers.
Brussels Airlines will operate its last flight from Mumbai to Brussels on January 7, 2019. For economic reasons, the airline has decided to cease its flight service between India and Belgium. Customers continue to have smooth flight options via Frankfurt, Munich and Zurich with Lufthansa Group partners Lufthansa and SWISS.
Brussels Airlines started its Mumbai-Brussels route in March 2017, venturing for the first time into the Indian subcontinent. After an initial five weekly service, the airline added a sixth frequency in the winter season of 2018. The flight service does however not deliver the anticipated results and Brussels Airlines has therefore taken the decision to withdraw from the route and use the flight capacity to reinforce its existing African network, the key intercontinental market of the Belgium based airline.
Passengers continue to have ample alternative travel options via Frankfurt, Munich and Zurich thanks to the Lufthansa Group airlines Lufthansa and SWISS. Customers who are booked on Brussels Airlines flights to or from Mumbai after January 7, 2019 are being contacted by Brussels Airlines and are offered alternative travel solutions to their final destination.
India and Morocco recently signed the revised Air Services Agreement between the two countries enabling greater connectivity through a modernised agreement. The delegation of the two countries has met three times in the past years wherein they have worked towards liberalisation of markets between the two countries and updating of the existing Air Services Agreement. The two sides cleared the legal and technical difficulties and agreed to a modern new text for the Air Services Agreement. Thereafter, both sides took approval for the agreed text of the Air Services Agreement from the respective governments and after approval, this document has been formally signed during the visit of Mohammed Sajid, Minister of Tourism, Air Transport, Handicraft and Social Economy who signed for the Moroccan side and the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation, Suresh Prabhu signed for the Indian side.
This milestone is enabler for greater air connectivity between India and Morocco and will enable the airlines of each side to enter into code share with airlines of other party, as well as provide greater freedom in mounting direct flights. These developments in the Civil Aviation sector will enable the people of each country to travel to the other country leading to better economic and cultural ties.
ITC Hotels, one of India’s leading luxury hotel chains, has announced the successful acquisition of Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa. The acquisition is a part of an auction held by Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) for Rs. 541 crores in 2015, and upheld by the Supreme Court in its 19th March judgement. ITC Hotels is making preparations for the upcoming festive and tourist season. Business continuity remains top priority for the company.
The luxurious Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa at Cansaulim, spread across 45 acres is a beachside plush property comprising of 252 charming Indo-Portuguese style rooms and suites is currently under renovation and will soon echo ITC’s standards of excellence. The sprawling property is currently under minor renovation to comply with all the ITC’s exemplary sustainability practises to deliver the best of luxury to its customers.
Nakul Anand, Executive Director, ITC said, “ITC is pleased to announce the latest addition to its luxury hotel portfolio in the hospitality landscape of Goa. This has been a long-awaited destination for ITC and we welcome the opportunity to be integrated into the multi-faceted culture and ethos of Goa.” He further added, “The addition is aligned with ITC’s vision of offering world-class Indian hospitality premised on ITC Hotels’ service philosophy of Atithi Devo Bhava. In order to ensure business continuity and seamless transition, the leadership team of ITC Hotels is at hand to support the current team of managers and associates. ITC Hotels has received tremendous support from key officials in the state government to ensure that we can recommence operations at the earliest and support the tourism goals of this great state.”
Two years after the successful introduction of Fare Choices, Jet Airways - India’s premier international airline has announced further enhancements. Fare Choices is Jet Airways’ flexible, tier-based, fare-choice system that empowers our guests to customise their travel experience with the airline by choosing their preferred fare and a carefully tailored service experience comprising of benefits that they would most value as per their travel need.
The revised offering under Fare Choices will now allow guests to enjoy more value for money, by letting them choose a travel plan based on their preference, travel requirements and budget.
Currently Fare Choices in Economy offers a total of five fare options viz. ‘Light’, ‘Deal’, ‘Saver’, ‘Classic’ and ‘Flex’. Jet Airways has now unbundled fares in ‘Light’ and ’Deal’ categories of Fare Choices in Economy for flights within India (domestic network), as consumer surveys clearly reveal that guests want the flexibility of enjoying competitive fares with the options to buy meals.
From 25th September 2018, guests travelling in Economy and booking ‘Light’/’Deal’ fares for travel from 28th September 2018 on its flights within India, will not only be able to avail competitive low fares but have the opportunity to buy meals from a specially curated on-board menu. Guests can choose from vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals, including hot meal options on select flights and pay using their debit / credit cards. Complimentary beverage service including tea and coffee to all guests in Economy (including ‘Light’/’Deal’ fares), will continue on eligible flights.
The airline will continue to offer complimentary meals across ‘Light’/’Deal’ Fare Choices for guests who have made bookings prior to 24th September, 2018. On flights within India, all features and benefits, including complimentary meals will continue for Economy fare options viz. ‘Saver’, ‘Classic’ and ‘Flex and for all fare options in Première.
However, on our international flights, all features and benefits under First class, Première and Economy remain unchanged.
Raj Sivakumar, Senior Vice-President – Worldwide Sales & Distribution, Jet Airways, said, “Service philosophies and models are being reviewed and remodeled by global airlines virtually every day given that guests today - especially millennial travellers – wish to be empowered and exercise their right of choice. As India’s premier international airline, we are perceptive to these changes and endeavour to align our service framework to embrace such needs of various segments of consumers. Our first such measure was the introduction of our Fare Choices concept in 2016. Our latest initiative is a step ahead in terms of flexibility and being receptive to our guests’ preference to facilitate greater choice and convenience. We’re sure this decision will be appreciated by our guests even as we continue to evolve and adapt to changing guest needs.”
Elaborating further, Belson Coutinho, Sr. Vice President – Marketing, eCommerce & Innovations, Jet Airways said, “Consumer needs have not only evolved but have also fragmented at the same time with empowerment, choice and flexibility considered as hygiene factors. As a global airline, we constantly track trends, review guest feedback and preferences to be able to stay on top of such trends and innovate our product and service offerings. This unbundling initiative will ensure we stay relevant to guests’ needs and empower them to choose from fare options that suit them based on their travel needs.”
The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Expedia Group. The collaboration will include sharing traveller-centric insights and trends that will help boost TAT’s capabilities to more effectively plan promotional campaigns to attract more travellers and encourage longer stays in Thailand. Both parties are also expected to embark on joint destination marketing campaigns to spotlight Thailand’s hidden and unique tourist attractions in its secondary cities, promoting the variety of lodgings to Expedia Group’s 675+ million monthly visitors globally.
Expedia Group will also launch key programs in destination marketing and skills transfer to the local hospitality industry in secondary cities. Workshops for local hotel partners will include ways to leverage Expedia Group’s Partner Central platform to accelerate skills development and build revenue and hotel management capabilities among local SME hotels.
Other aspects of the cooperation include a joint corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaign aimed at enhancing environmental consciousness among hotels in Thailand and reducing the use of single-use and general plastic items in their properties.
Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor, Tourism Authority of Thailand said, “TAT has a vision to become the leader in promoting sustainable tourism in Thailand. We launched campaigns aiming to increase both domestic and international tourism early this year. TAT also launched the latest campaign ‘Amazing Thailand Go Local’ to promote the unique beauty of 55 secondary destination cities to travellers worldwide boasting each city’s unique features which we believe will meet the needs for the diverse range of tourists coming to Thailand. This collaboration with Expedia Group, through the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding, will help boost tourism to secondary cities and also align with the government’s domestic tour personal income tax break campaign in 2018, aimed to promote tourism in these areas.”
Pimpawee Nopakitgumjorn, Director of Market Management at Expedia Group said, “Expedia Group has been working closely with the primary destinations in driving year-round inbound traffic to Thailand. This MOU will forge a strategic collaboration that supports the TAT’s Action Plan to drive visitor flow to Thailand’s secondary cities, and help the country maintain its tourism leadership position in the Southeast Asia region. This MOU also supports the growth of the hospitality industry in these secondary tourist destinations by empowering hoteliers with the relevant digital expertise. Through Expedia Group’s technology platform such as the Partner Central tool, hoteliers can boost their digital skills in revenue management, gather and respond to guest feedback more efficiently and better manage online reviews. This is aligned with the country's goal to develop its tourism industry ecosystem in an aim to generate more job opportunities and narrow income gaps between urban and rural areas.”
This strategic collaboration comes at an opportune time as high-value international travelers are already a driving force for the tourism boom in many of Thailand’s secondary cities, including Chiang Rai, Koh Lipe, Mae Hong Son, Trang, and Trat.
“A large majority of accommodations in secondary cities are still primarily offline which means international travelers cannot find or book them easily. This results in missed opportunities for hoteliers, as they are not capitalizing on the growth of inbound travelers. We will be launching a series of initiatives to educate them on the value of online distribution. They will also have access to our partner-facing tool, which allows them to effectively manage their rates and availability, online content and guest satisfaction. By improving the digital skills of the hospitality sector, we will play a pivotal role in boosting the local economy,” said Ms. Pimpawee Nopakitgumjorn, Director of Market Management at Expedia Group.
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