WELCOME TO OUR SEPTEMBER 2016 ISSUE FROM YOUR ITTN TEAM Book now for Silver Jubilee fun at the 25th Irish Travel Trade Awards
14 Sarah Slattery reports on the ocean, family and river cruise markets
20 This month Sarah Slattery talks with Irish travel agents about the cruise market, including ocean, family and river cruising, while Neil Steedman looks at travel technology, with special focus on bed banks and the GDS travel commerce platforms. Our Irish Travel Trade Awards celebrates its 25th Silver Jubilee this year – so turn the page to see how to avail of this event’s sponsorship opportunities and how to book tables or seats.
Neil Steedman reports on travel technology, bed banks, and travel commerce platforms
This year’s ITTN+EMIRATES Travel Photographer of the Year competition commenced one month earlier, on 1st June, and is running for five months to 31st October. Photos taken since 1st November 2015 are eligible and the overall prize is again tickets for two from Dublin to anywhere on Emirates’ extensive worldwide network of 150+ destinations.
Also in this issue, Neil Steedman interviews John Appleby on the arrival of Flight Centre in Dublin, and reports from St John’s, Newfoundland, on Canada’s east coast, the destination of a Sunway / WestJet fam trip.
YOUR ONLINE CONNECTION TO THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY
Your ITTN Team Neil Steedman reports from St John’s, Newfoundland, Canada
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2016 IRISH TRAVEL TRADE AWARDS
VOTE ONLINE NOW:
www.grantthornton.ie/irish-travel-trade-awards The highlight of the Irish travel industry’s calendar, the Irish Travel Trade Awards, is celebrating its 25th Silver Jubilee this year at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dublin – Burlington Road on Friday 25th November 2016 – and special hotel rates are available for overnight accommodation.
The Irish Travel Trade Awards reward excellence in product and service as voted by Irish travel agents – professionals voting for professionals. 4
The 26 Award winners – along with the winner of the Voter’s Prize, who will be randomly selected by Grant Thornton’s computer – will be announced at the 25th Silver Jubilee Irish Travel Trade Awards Gala Dinner on Friday 25th November 2016 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dublin – Burlington Road (formerly the Burlington Hotel). Special hotel rates are available for overnight accommodation. The Irish Travel Trade Awards reward excellence in product and service as voted by Irish travel agents – professionals voting for professionals. They are an opportunity for all licenced travel agents throughout the island of Ireland to show their appreciation for their top suppliers by voting for them in the relevant category of these highly prized awards.
The winner of the Irish Travel Trade Awards Voter’s Prize will receive a seven-night Classic Golden Triangle tour in India, courtesy of G Adventures, Sunway and Irish Travel Trade News. The prize includes guided tours of Delhi, Agra, Fatephur Sikri and Jaipur, six nights ho-
tel accommodation, a one-night village stay in Dhula, and all transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
2016 IRISH TRAVEL TRADE AWARDS
Full details of the prize are at: www.ittn. ie/news/ittn-announces-2016-awards-categories-and-voters-prize/
In addition to the 26 category award winners, the Irish Travel Trade Awards Gala Dinner will be the occasion for the presentation of the following special awards: ITTN Industry Achievement Award: In 2014, as part of our 50th anniversary celebrations, Irish Travel Trade News introduced the ITTN Industry Achievement Award to honour the innovation and contribution to the Irish travel industry made by an individual. The two joint winners were John Cassidy and John Spollen, Cassidy Travel, and the 2015 winner was Tanya Airey, Sunway. The Awards sponsors have made their nominations for the 2016 ITTN Industry Achievement Award and the identity of the winner will be revealed on Friday 25th November
ITTN Travel Agency of the Year Awards: In 2015 the J Barter Travel Group in Cork was declared the overall national winner and regional winner for Munster, with JustSplit.com in Dublin the winner for Leinster, Fahy Travel in Galway the winner for Connaught, and Oasis Travel in Belfast the winner for Ulster. This year’s four regional winners will be announced in October and two representatives from each agency will be invited as guests of ITTN to the Irish Travel Trade Awards, when the overall national winner will be announced. ITTN+EMIRATES Travel Photographer of the Year Award: Six finalists in this year’s competition will be attending the Gala Dinner as guests of Emirates, when the overall winner will be announced and presented with tickets for two from Dublin to any destination on the worldwide Emirates network of more than 150 destinations.
You can experience some of the excitement of last year’s event at: www.youtube.com/ watch?v=lxiSzYpWEu4. Then come and join us in the celebrations at the Irish travel industry’s networking party of the year!
Friday 25th November 2016
DoubleTree by Hilton Dublin Burlington Road
7.30pm until late
Table of 12 = €1,800 + VAT @ 23% = €2,214.00 Table of 10 = €1,500 + VAT @ 23% = €1,845.00 Single tickets = €150 + VAT @ 23% = €184.50
You can book your tables and seats online now at
THE WINNER OF THE 25TH SILVER JUBILEE IRISH TRAVEL TRADE AWARDS 2016 WILL BE ANNOUNCED AND PRESENTED WITH THEIR TROPHIES ON FRIDAY 25TH NOVEMBER 2016 AT THE DOUBLETREE BY HILTON DUBLIN – BURLINGTON ROAD (FORMERLY THE BURLINGTON HOTEL), DUBLIN 4. All staff working for a licensed and bonded travel agency anywhere on the island of Ireland are eligible to vote (see Regulations overleaf ) and your completed Voting Form must be returned directly to Grant Thornton, either online at www.grantthornton.ie/irish-travel-trade-awards or by email, fax or post, no later than Friday 4th November 2016. WIN A GOLDEN TRIANGLE TOUR IN INDIA: All fully completed, eligible Voting Forms received will be entered into a prize draw for a seven-night Classic Golden Triangle tour in India, courtesy of G Adventures, Sunway and Irish Travel Trade News. The prize includes guided tours of Delhi, Agra, Fatephur Sikri and Jaipur, six nights hotel accommodation, a one-night village stay in Dhula, and all transport between destinations in India and to/from included activities. Full details of the prize are at: www.ittn.ie/news/ittn-announces-2016-awards-categories-and-voters-prize/
AWARD CATEGORY DESCRIPTIONS You are asked to nominate your ‘Best Supplier’ in each of the following 26 award categories. Please read the award category descriptions carefully and ensure that all your 26 preferences are entered below.
AIRLINES Best Airline to Europe For Britain and/or Continental Europe, which airline provides your ex-Ireland clients with the best service?
Best Airline to North America Which airline flying across the Atlantic to North America leads the way from Ireland, either direct or indirect?
DESTINATIONS Best Europe Destination Which country in Europe offers the best holiday destinations, visitor attractions, culture, relaxation, sports, entertainment, and shopping?
Best Americas Destination Which country in North, Central or South America – or which State in the USA – provides your clients with the top holiday experience and value for money?
Best Long Haul Airline When the destination is the Middle East, Africa, Asia / Pacific, Central or South America, which airline is top of your class for quality of performance?
Best Middle East / Africa Destination Which country in this vast continent of adventure, landscapes, cultures and wildlife do you most recommend to your clients?
Best Business Class Airline For Business Class, which airline provides your clients with the best airport transfers, lounges, seat/bed, inflight services, cuisine and entertainment?
Best Asia / Pacific Destination Whether it is in Asia, near or far, or down under in Australia, New Zealand or the Pacific Islands, which country is most worth the long haul?
Best Sun Destination Which destination tops your list of recommendations for sun, sea, sand and...sensational value?
IRISH TRAVEL TRADE AWARDS 2016: VOTING FORM SEA TRANSPORT Best Ferry Company Between Ireland and Britain or Continental Europe, which ferry company’s ships and service ride the crest of your wave?
Best Cruise Company When an ocean or sea holiday cruise package is your client’s request, which cruise company sails away with the booking?
Best Travel Insurance Company Whether a single, one-trip policy is required, or an annual worldwide multi-trip family policy, which company gives you and your clients the best travel insurance?
TOUR OPERATORS Best Sun Holiday Tour Operator For summer or winter sun, which tour operator is the best for resorts, flights, accommodation, representation, value for money, and service?
Best Luxury Cruise Company When your client desires personal service on a luxury cruise across the oceans or seas, which company is top of your deck?
Best Ski Tour Operator For choice of ski resorts and accommodation, convenient flights and transfers, and excellent packages and après ski, who is at the very peak?
Best River Cruise Company When an inland cruise is the clients’ wish, which river cruise company provides them with the destinations, luxury and value to make their dream come true?
Best Adventure Holiday Tour Operator Whether the adventure involves ‘normal’ or extreme activities, experiencing unusual places and cultures, or expedition cruises to polar regions, who offers the most exciting options?
LAND TRANSPORT Best Car Rental Company Whatever the destination, which rental company provides your business and leisure clients with the best cars, service and value for money?
Best Rail Company Almost every country has its rail networks, but which company provides the best trains and ticketing service to set your clients on the right track?
TRAVEL AGENCY SERVICES
Best Long Haul Tour Operator When your clients plan to travel beyond Europe, whether for a short stay, long stay, multi-centre or touring holiday, honeymoon, adventure or cultural tour, whom do you call?
ALL COMPANIES Best Newcomer Which supplier company new to the Irish market since January 2015, whether airline, cruise or rail company, accommodation provider or tour operator, has provided travel agents with the best new product or service?
Best National Tourist Office Which National Tourist Office provides your agency with the best service and destination support?
Best Accommodation Provider For a worldwide choice of quality hotels, resorts, and accommodation, with which accommodation group or agency do you check in your clients?
Best Agent Friendly Individual Who is the most agent friendly individual, whether in management, sales or back-office service, and be they with an airline or consolidator, cruise or ferry company, rail or coach company, accommodation provider, car rental company, insurance provider, tour operator, national tourist office, or technology provider?
Best Agent Friendly Company Best Travel Technology Provider Whether it’s a dynamic packaging system, a GDS, a website, social media, or a back-office system, who provides your agency with the best technology product?
Who is the most agent friendly company, be it an airline or consolidator, cruise or ferry company, rail or coach company, accommodation provider, car rental company, insurance provider, tour operator, national tourist office, or technology provider?
IRISH TRAVEL TRADE AWARDS 2016: VOTING FORM
Voting is confined to owners, management, staff and home workers of licensed and bonded travel agencies in Ireland (North and South).
You may vote online, by email, fax, or post.
Voting Forms must be validated with your travel agency licence number.
Only one Voting Form per person and a maximum of 10 Voting Forms per licence number are permitted. If more Voting Forms than permitted are received, the first 10 eligible Voting Forms received per licence number will be accepted.
No agency can vote for any company or organisation by which it is owned in whole or in part, or for which it is a dedicated franchise outlet.
No agency can vote for any destination, company, product or service for which the agency is an officially appointed representative on a wholesale / GSA basis in Ireland, North or South.
The closing date for receipt of Voting Forms is Friday 4th November 2016.
Voting Forms and nominations must be sent directly to, and will be independently administered and audited by, Grant Thornton. Decisions of the auditor are final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding any aspect of the Irish Travel Trade Awards 2016.
PLEASE COMPLETE IN BLOCK CAPITALS:
TA Licence / ABTA No:
Your Email Address:
Date: Online: www.grantthornton.ie/irish-travel-trade-awards/ Email: email@example.com Fax: 01 418 2044 Post: Irish Travel Trade Awards 2016, c/o Stephen Murray, Grant Thornton, Molyneux House, Bride Street, Dublin 8
VOTE NOW! - Closing date for receipt of nominations is Friday 4th November 2016. 8
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
OF THE YEAR 2016 KATARINA TRNOKOVA, J BARTER TRAVEL GROUP; TIM CAREY, THE TRAVEL BOUTIQUE; AND ENDA LARKIN, SUNWAY, ARE THE JUNE, JULY AND AUGUST WINNERS RESPECTIVELY IN THIS YEAR’S ITTN+EMIRATES TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR COMPETITION. TOGETHER WITH TWO MORE MONTHLY WINNERS AND ONE ‘WILD CARD’ WINNER, THEY COULD WIN TICKETS FOR TWO FROM DUBLIN TO ANY DESTINATION ON THE EMIRATES WORLDWIDE NETWORK OF MORE THAN 150 DESTINATIONS.
Early Morning, Kilfarrasy Beach, Waterford, by Tim Carey, The Travel Boutique
Last Drink Before The Storm, by Katarina Trnikova, J Barter Travel Group
To date more than 140 entries have been submitted, all of which can be viewed on www. ittn.ie/travel-photographer-of-the-year-entries/ – and some of them are featured on the following pages. Katarina was our June winner with her honeymoon shot entitled ‘Last Drink Before The Storm’, which she took with a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge on La Digue Island in the Seychelles in May 2016. Tim was our July winner with his landscape shot entitled ‘Early Morning, Kilfarrasy Beach, Waterford’, which he took with a Sony A58 in June 2016. Enda Larkin, Sunway, was our August winner with his on safari shot entitled ‘Can You See Me?’, which he took with a Canon Power Shot SX500IS in Pumba Private Game Reserve, South Africa, in June 2016.
Can You See Me?, by Enda Larkin, Sunway
Two more monthly winners will be selected for September and October by the panel of judges: Anita Thomas, Sales Manager Ireland, Emirates; Michael Flood, Editor, Irish Travel Trade News; and Neil Steedman, News & Features Editor, Irish Travel Trade News. A sixth ‘wild card’ winner will then be selected from all the remaining entries received over the five months of the competition by a separate panel of judges: Enda Corneille, Country Manager, Emirates; Paul Sherwood, Professional Photographer; and Michael Flood, Editor, Irish Travel Trade News.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR
Table For Two, by Philip Airey, Sunway
Welcome To The Royal Livingstone Hotel, Sir, by Brian McCarthy, Island Escapes
Signal Hill To Cape Clear - Next Stop Ireland, by Barry Hammond, Sunway
Stone Dragon, by Declan Hughes, Fly Cruise Stay
Singing In The Rain, by Orlagh Hogan, Travelmood
Magical Lapland, by Lenka Hlinkovicova, Travel Focus
Business Class Cuban Style, by Paul Fitzpatrick, Trailfinders Cork
All six finalists receive a â‚Ź200 One4all voucher and a trophy and will be guests of Emirates at the 25th Silver Jubilee Irish Travel Trade Awards Gala Dinner on Friday 25th November 2016 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Dublin â€“ Burlington Road. The second judging panel will also select the top photo from the six finalists and the overall winner will be revealed on the Awards night and be presented with tickets for two from Dublin to any destination on the Emirates worldwide network. With a fleet of more than 230 aircraft, Emirates currently flies to over 150 destinations in more than 80 countries worldwide, and the network is expanding constantly. Over 1,500 Emirates flights depart Dubai each week on their way to destinations on six continents. ENTER NOW! To be in with a chance of winning this great prize, enter your best photos as soon as possible and by no later than Saturday 31st October 2015.
Rainbow Over Killarney, by Niamh Quinlan, Travel Counsellors
Photos taken by the entrant since 1st November 2015 are eligible and up to five entries can be made per person during each month of the competition. Each photo submitted should be in jpeg format, at minimum 300dpi resolution, and be a maximum of 5mb in size. Enter now at: www.ittn.ie/photo-competition-entry-form/. Details and conditions of the competition are at: www.ittn.ie/photo-competition/.
WORLD TRAVEL MARKET
Social Media Superstar at WTM London HE HAS BEEN DESCRIBED AS INSTAGRAM’S ‘HOTTEST MALE TRAVELLER’ – AND HE WILL BE AT WORLD TRAVEL MARKET LONDON 2016, FOR WHICH IRISH TRAVEL TRADE NEWS IS THE OFFICIAL TRADE MEDIA IN IRELAND. Jeremy Jauncey, the founder of Beautiful Destinations, is said to be the most influential populariser of travel photography on Instagram, with more than 5.5 million followers and over 200 million likes. The entrepreneur will be the keynote speaker at the first of two Digital Tourism Think Tank (#DTTT) sessions at WTM London, the leading global event for the travel industry. Jeremy will show how Beautiful Destinations works with some of the world’s biggest travel and lifestyle brands to create content through smartphone, drone and 360-degree video technology. The agency runs Instagram and Snapchat accounts for global brands including Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Airbnb, Marriott International and Food & Wine. It has a community of more than 1,200 influential content creators, ranging from National Geographic photographers to ordinary travellers with smartphones. After his presentation, Jeremy will be interviewed by Nick Hall, founder and chief executive of Digital Tourism Think Tank, a digital technology and destination marketing consultancy. Other case studies will be presented, from Cape Town to Australia, looking at how the industry works with ‘local influencers’ who help destination and brands online.
The second Digital Tourism Think Tank session will focus on the rapid growth of messaging apps and virtual reality – and how travel brands can make the most of these exciting technologies. MASTERING GLOBAL INFLUENCER STRATEGY + CONTENT TRENDS AND LOCAL INFLUENCERS, TUESDAY 8TH NOVEMBER 14.45 – 15.35 Mastering Global Influencer Strategy 14.45 – 15.15 Keynote Speaker: Jeremy Jauncey 15.15 – 15.35 The Interview with Nick Hall 15.45 – 16.15 Content Trends and Local Influencers BOTS, AUTOMATION AND MESSAGING – VR TRENDS IN TOURISM, WEDNESDAY 9TH NOVEMBER 10.30 – 12.00 Bots, Automation and Messaging – VR Trends in Tourism This year’s WTM London will be a three-day event from Monday 7th – Wednesday 9th November 2016, with opening hours extended from 10am – 7pm for all three days.
Irish Travel Agents Discuss Ocean, Family and River Cruising CLIA’S THIRD TRAVEL AGENT CRUISE INDUSTRY OUTLOOK REPORT OF 2016, RELEASED ON 4TH AUGUST, REVEALED THAT DEMAND FOR CRUISING IN THE USA CONTINUES TO GROW AND THAT TRAVEL AGENTS ARE PLAYING AN INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE CONSUMER TRAVEL PROCESS. SARAH SLATTERY TALKED WITH SOME OF IRELAND’S CRUISE SPECIALISTS TO SEE IF THIS IS ALSO THE TREND IN IRELAND.
River cruising showed the most growth with 64% of travel agents expecting to sell more river cruise packages this year and 54% expecting to see growth in the large ocean ship segment.
Some 700 travel agents were consulted by CLIA across North America and 73% are expecting increased sales this year. River cruising showed the most growth with 64% of travel agents expecting to sell more river cruise packages this year and 54% expecting to see growth in the large ocean ship segment. Two-thirds (66%) of agents said that all-inclusive options were very important for clients booking luxury cruises, who also most valued a unique destination.
Ocean Cruising Sunway has invested heavily in its cruise team and website and believes that the most important part of a cruise consultant’s job is to match the right cruise for each client. “Sunway has over six cruise experts and we can guarantee that we will offer the best deals along with the most suitable cruise for the customer,” said Deirdre Sweeny, General Manager. Sunway’s ability to offer wholesale rates with 10% commission has enabled them to be one of the trade’s most popular cruise operators. Although the Mediterranean and Caribbean have been very
busy, Sunway has noticed an increase in transatlantic and luxury brands. “Itinerary changes are also key to keeping the customer cruising,” added Deirdre, “and most cruisers will cruise again within 12 months – so repeat business is really good.” Martin Skelly, Managing Director, Navan Travel, said: “We use special cruise offers as a key part of our marketing strategy. We have seen the Caribbean as the biggest growth area followed by the Mediterranean, and there is a considerable awareness of the difference between the two ‘main’ brands in this market.” Carmel Aylward of King Travel said that Western Mediterranean and ocean voyages are selling well, but “price is the number one factor, regardless of cruise company and all-inclusive cruises are big sellers. Clients just want good value, regardless of route.” ClickandGo.com has four staff members on its cruise team, “but lots more growth is planned in the coming year, due to the demand,” said Niki Stanford. “Added extras are a big seller, where there is a free all-inclusive package or a very good rate to pre-pay, clients love it, or onboard spend or upgrades.” Itineraries and brands are a big attraction
New Silversea Galapagos Itineraries for 2017 Starting 25th March 2017, Silversea will alternate two new seven-night Galápagos itineraries approved by the Galápagos National Park Service. The 100-guest, all-suite Silver Galapagos will operate both itineraries sailing Saturday to Saturday, with San Cristóbal as a new arrival or departure port for guests. For a complete list of Silver Galapagos itineraries, details, and fares, visit: www.silversea.com/ships/silver-galapagos 14
“Cruising is ideal for families and this is perhaps a market that could be marketed better. It is the perfect holiday for groups in which different generations of the one family can travel together, yet all enjoy different activities during the day.”
for repeat cruisers: “People are loyal to brands.” However, 75% of ClickandGo’s cruise business clients are new to cruise. “Without cruise, I am not sure that my doors would still be open,” said Pamela Brownlee, Managing Director, Fly Away Travel and her new brand, Cruises for You. “It was imperative to the continuation of Fly Away Travel that I diversified into a specialised niche market.” Alan Lynch, Managing Director, Cruisescapes, said: “Cruise has become a very important part of our business and now accounts for a large percentage of it. As we wholesale the Fred Olsen Cruise Lines and CroisiEurope products (with more to be announced soon) the percentage has increased dramatically.” He believes that for anyone new to cruising, price is a major factor: “For second timers it is a combination of the price and itinerary, but the itinerary is the most important. The brand can be important in the decision process, but not all the time. All-inclusive is becoming more and more important, especially for the savvy cruiser.” Cruisecapes has had a busy summer. Most of the passengers on Fred Olsen’s German Canals cruise, which departed from Belfast on 1st August, were from Ireland. The previous week the same ship cruised from Belfast to the Norwegian fjords, and both cruises were full. There were other cruises from Killybegs to Canada in May and to America in April, and both were almost full. “2017 is already in strong demand from Ireland and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has been extremely happy with the uptake from Ireland over the past number of years,” added Alan, “and that is why they will continue to offer cruises ex-Ireland again in 2017.”
Family Cruising Cruising is ideal for families and this is perhaps a market that could be marketed better. It is the perfect holiday for groups in which different generations of the one family can travel together, yet all enjoy different activities during the day. Meeting up at night-time for family dinners and entertainment enables families to have the best of both worlds. There is no reason why families who have booked, for example, Club Med or Holiday Village-type properties would not switch to an all-inclusive, family-style cruise ship. “The family market is increasing, but I think it is up to us to promote them as a family product,” agreed Martin Skelly, while Pamela Brownlee, who believes that family cruise is a growing market but that they mainly sell cruise to families with two children, said: “It tends to get very costly when you have three children.” Niki Stanford believes that value for money is key with families and that family cruise is an area that will “grow and continue to grow”. Alan Lynch has seen no dramatic increase in family cruises, but has “found an increase in multi-generational holidays for occasions.” Deirdre Sweeny advises families to book early “as family cabins are limited, as are family deals”. Carmel Aylward agrees and said: “Cruise prices are good for families during Bank Holiday weekends, but not in July or August.”
River Cruising Most of the agents do find that river cruise is growing but, contrary to CLIA’s report, it is not the sector in which they see the largest growth, so I also spoke with some river cruise specialists.
RCCL to Build World-Class Cruise Terminal at Port Miami Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd has an agreement with MiamiDade County to construct and operate a dramatic new 170,000 sq ft cruise terminal at Port Miami. The terminal will serve as homeport to Royal Caribbean International ships, including a 5,400-passenger Oasis-class ship. Currently, Port Miami welcomes 750,000 RCI passengers annually, 15% of its overall passenger traffic. Once the new terminal is completed, it is anticipated that Royal Caribbean will generate 1.8 million passengers, 30% of the port’s projected passenger traffic. 16
“Since starting in Ireland in 2013, travel agents now comprise 27.7% of our bookings, a 50-60% increase year-on-year”, said Stephen Sands, General Manager, Riviera Travel.
Riviera Travel finds that 70% of its cruise passengers have taken a sea cruise in the previous five years and a massive 97% of its clients would re-book a Riviera cruise (independent survey: www.rivieratravel. co.uk/). “Since starting in Ireland in 2013, travel agents now comprise 27.7% of our bookings, a 50-60% increase year-on-year”, said Stephen Sands, General Manager, Riviera Travel. “For agents it is the ease of booking (through our Dublin call centre or online) and we arrange and take responsibility for the flights and transfers to the ship. The price across all our sales platforms are the same – we have never discounted, and never will” – a novel approach in present times, but one that clearly works for them. Riviera has invested in four brand new 5-star allsuite ships that will come into operation in 2017, all offering European sailings. “We find the key to selling river cruise to clients is a combination of interesting itineraries and value, as opposed to price,” added Stephen. Sunway represents AmaWaterways and Deirdre Sweeny said: “There is such a variance between what is on offer in the market, ranging from 3-star right up to 6-star deluxe. What is included in the price is so important: some include drinks, some at meal times only, and some have no drinks or tours included. It is clearly very important to match the right cruise to the right customer.” Alan Lynch commented: “We sell both river and ocean cruises with the same enthusiasm, and we try to get our clients to experience both, so there is a lot of cross-selling. It is not as easy as it sounds because they are two completely different products, so you have got to know the products, otherwise you will end up with an unhappy client.”
Sharon Jordan, Country Manager, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, reported a 15%+ average growth year-on-year to date. “We expect that to grow even more given that September to November are strong travel dates for river cruise clients: we have more people travelling during those months than any other months of the year.” Uniworld’s most popular cruise, Enchanting Danube, continues to be the number one seller from the Irish market, followed closely by Castles Along the Rhine. The average spend is €2,000 per person based on the fact that “most of our clients book from our two-for-one special offers, but this can go right up to €10,000 per person for those special once in a lifetime trips to places such as Vietnam or India,” said Sharon. Some 90% of Uniworld’s business comes from travel agents, something that is down to the great relationship Sharon and her team has with the trade. “We do not have an online booking engine and we encourage all our guests to go to a travel professional. Our commitment to travel agents is paramount and we have no plans to grow direct business.” River cruise is growing rapidly and, although some travel agents have not seen this growth yet, clearly there are plenty of Irish consumers who are opting for river cruising. From 26th – 28th November 2016 many Irish travel agents will sail onboard Uniworld’s 154-passenger SS Antoinette from Amsterdam to Cologne for the ITAA Annual Conference. I can only assume that this will help river cruise to grow much further in 2017 and will perhaps then reflect what is happening in the US market. When it comes to the ocean cruise sector, we seem to be there already.
New Culinary Experiences with Celebrity Cruises Clients who appreciate world-class cuisine, exceptional dining, incredible ingredients and the finest wines, can enjoy new uniquely distinctive experiences with Celebrity Cruises, such as fresh, authentic Japanese dishes at new restaurant Sushi on Five, while from November 2016 Celebrity will be the first cruise line in the industry to introduce Dine Aware, the only standard for the food and beverage industry which focuses on food allergy and intolerance communication and experiences, and will take customisation a step further with Blendtique wine blending classes. 18
Investing in Travel Technology to Survive and Improve the Bottom Line TRAVEL AGENTS MUST ADOPT NEW TECHNOLOGY TO SURVIVE, BUT THE LIFEBELT CHOSEN COULD BE MADE OF LEAD AND CAUSE THE AGENT TO DROWN RATHER THAN STAY AFLOAT, WRITES ITTN’S NEWS & FEATURES EDITOR NEIL STEEDMAN. RETURN ON INVESTMENT MUST BE KEY TO ANY DECISION TO BUY INTO NEW TECHNOLOGY BECAUSE THERE IS LITTLE POINT IN SPENDING LARGE SUMS ON SOMETHING THAT WILL NOT DIRECTLY IMPROVE THE BOTTOM LINE.
Increasingly, travel bookings are being made using mobile devices, particularly smartphones, and almost half of those are via apps.
On deciding to invest, it is imperative that the first step is to ensure that all staff also buy into the idea and are fully trained, because reticent or untrained staff tend to negate the expected benefits to the business and, in some cases, can be detrimental. Agents can become frustrated by the many advances being made in ways that provide public access to hitherto hard-to-access travel information and booking, areas that traditionally required the assistance and expertise of a travel professional. Much of this technology comes from online companies that have seemingly endless funds for development and marketing. Many of these do not make a profit – they are vehicles for investors who see future profits, not necessarily from product sales but from the sale of the business to a corporation that will benefit from technology that has already gone through the painful development stage. GDS suppliers such as Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport are constantly developing technologies that help agents to move forward at a fraction of the cost that they would need to invest to keep pace and survive (see page 25). However, agents must be willing to embrace these changes sooner rather than later or face the prospect of extinction.
Volker Lorenz, General Manager, Amadeus Ireland
The current generation of consumers has grown up in an age of instant answers, literally at their fingertips, and they are jumping to the aid of non-tech-savvy parents to help them find their travel requirements without leaving home. Meanwhile, the next generation seems to be born with the knowledge – just watch a one-year-old navigate around an iPad or iPhone. Increasingly, travel bookings are being made using mobile devices, particularly smartphones, and almost half of those are via apps. Volker Lorenz , Amadeus Ireland, told ITTN: “In Ireland there is currently 103% ownership of smartphones, in Europe 19% of flights and 31% of hotels are now booked using mobile devices, and globally 42% of travellers have mobile devices. It is estimated that 45% of bookings will be made this way by 2018 – and in 2015 49% of mobile bookings were generated by apps.”
Many if not most customers arriving at the agent’s counter have already done much research and want to see if they can get anything better. Agents have to be (or at least appear to be!) more knowledgable and have the technology to help them win the sale. It is also important not to reveal how they are improving on the original deal, because a sale can be lost if the client thinks they can also achieve the same result.
Earning Extra Commission
Quite a high percentage of travellers plan to take local tours, see a show, or use public transport. Why let the opportunity to earn extra commission pass when it can be easy to encourage the client to be certain of their tour tickets, show tickets, or transfers? Some bed banks offer tickets for attractions, local tours and transfers that can be added to the hotel booking, ensuring commission in advance for the agent and, in many cases, savings for the client. TravelCube, BookaBed and Innstant Travel are but three who offer this service as part of the same site where agents already have accounts and commercial agreements. Other companies offer inexpensive ways for agents to add ancillary items to a client’s itinerary or white label sites to enhance the agent’s online presence. Encore Tickets has a live online trade site where agents can earn commission on West End and Broadway theatre tickets, as well as restaurants and attrac-
tion tickets for most of London’s most popular sites, including the Open Top Bus. This company also offers solutions such as an API product whereby agents can integrate the product into their own site or a white label site for agents to add to their online presence. Irish company Ark Travel Group provides an integrated white label hotel booking system that fits seamlessly into an agent’s site. The client pays with their
card online at time of booking and receives the documentation immediately, branded with the agent’s logo. Payments are processed through the Ark Travel merchant number in the name of TravelPay Solutions and all administration of the booking is handled by Ark. Commissions are paid by transfer to the agent’s account each Friday for all bookings made between Monday and Sunday of the previous week. As the agent only collects the commission, there is no need to include the figures in their bond application. Viator, owned by Tripadvisor, sells tours and attractions direct to the traveling public. They also offer an agent online booking site, ARCmarketplace.com, where agents can earn commission by selling the Viator product to their customers. Viator also offers an affiliate programme with a white-label solution for agents that allows their clients to book tours and activities to their own website. This affiliate programme has enhanced CSS, which provides the ability to add a HTML header and footer plus pre-made widgets and banners, easily giving the site the look and feel of the agent’s branding. They also provide JSON/XML feed options that allow agents to build their own integration.
AllPoints Payments is a new, innovative company providing online payments, virtual terminals, chip and pin point of sale technology, as well as wallet facilities and virtual card payments, at better rates than are available to travel agents currently. They provide bespoke payment systems to large agencies but are also open to working with small agencies.
Back Office Systems
Many back office systems are available today, including from some GDS suppliers. Most are cloud based and offer full integration into financial systems. Micros, Resmanager and Travolutionary offer systems that combine front office, online and financial transaction tracking. Travolutionary provides feeds from many suppliers into one system that in turn can
combine a shopping basket that will pull flights, hotels, car hire and transfers into one booking. However, this comes at a high financial investment.
VOIP telephone providers offer products that cut communication costs. They provide national phone numbers and also international numbers that connect to the Irish office. The system is Internet-based, so apps on mobiles can pick up calls seamlessly, enabling the user to take a call out of the office location without the caller being aware of the fact – which is ideal and cost effective for home workers. Again there are many suppliers, such as Blueface, Goldfish, Hostireland and Magnet.
Re-Imagining the Travel Booking Process
Modern technology is fast changing how people make their travel decisions. No more is the process straightforward, because the modern traveller uses multichannel options to plan their trip. Smartphones provide access to information in micro moments while using public transport, having lunch, etc., instead of sitting down to one long session of research. A survey by Google/Ipsos MediaCT showed that 94% of travellers switch between devices during different stages of their planning process. The same survey showed that 46% of travellers do their research on mobile devices but switch to a laptop or desktop for the final booking – because they suffer from anxiety that they are not getting the full information on their smartphone. Apps and websites must provide a frictionless experience for those using them. Loyalty on mobile devices is very limited, as users will switch to another site if they find it slow to load or contains too many steps to reach the desired information. Apps provided by Tripadviser, Trivago, Skyscanner, and many more, pull together all the information a traveller needs under a trusted brand, making it easier to access the required information anywhere, anytime. New and innovative apps are being dreamed up constantly, such as those that scan a person’s social media to see where their friends are in the world and then offer a choice of flights to get to them and a range of things to do while at the destination. Other apps pick up on the location of the traveller and offer local tours and attractions on their mobile devices. Only the imagination restricts the boundaries of what can be achieved by suppliers to offer ever-increasing ways of capturing a booking directly from their target market.
A survey by Google/Ipsos MediaCT showed that 94% of travellers switch between devices during different stages of their planning process. The same survey showed that 46% of travellers do their research on mobile devices but switch to a laptop or desktop for the final booking – because they suffer from anxiety that they are not getting the full information on their smartphone.
Bed Banks: Friend or Foe? Bed banks are in competition with hotel aggregators, GDSs and in most cases with travel agents (often through B2C websites with a different name). Neil Steedman considers whether they are the agent’s friend or foe – and concludes that they are a ‘necessary evil’. Using ‘bed bank’ to describe a company that offers hotels for sale is not always correct, because some are simply aggregators. They take hotel feeds from wholesalers, add a markup and use their software to offer hotels based on availability and best price from several supplier feeds. Wholesalers, the real bed banks, hold allocations from hotels. However, many wholesalers also take feeds from other wholesalers to strengthen areas in which they are weak. So when a problem arises there can be two or more suppliers between the agent and their client’s hotel, the difficulty being that the supplier who owns the original allocation is the only one who can deal with the hotel. Clients often believe that their booking is made directly between their agent and the hotel and therefore fail to understand why a simple phone call to the hotel cannot be made.
Do Agents Need Bed Banks?
Too Many Bed Banks? Are the number of bed banks in the Irish market necessary? Ireland has fewer travel agents than in Manchester, so the answer is: ‘No’. Too many companies compete for relatively small numbers of bookings – especially when many others use their core business marketing to promote hotel offerings, such as Golden Pages (Gethotels), Supervalu Breaks, and Costcutter Breaks, to name but three. Well-known, long-established brands such as Booking.com, Hotels,com, Travel Republic and Expedia are also ingrained in people’s minds as ‘the best place to get a hotel bargain’.
Bed Bank or GDS? GDSs Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport, while providing great hotel booking systems, traditionally let the client pay and then wait for the commission to be sent to the agent by the hotel (hopefully). Now they offer commission payment guarantees through centralised payment programmes, or specialised payment companies, to ensure that agents receive commission on time, every time, but Irish agents prefer the bed bank model offering upfront commission payment, and no chasing or waiting, and have been reluctant to change. However, the new Amadeus Hotels Plus combines aggregators, bed banks and traditional direct hotel bookings, allowing for a single PNR number that connects flights etc. into one itinerary traceable across mid office, back office, and on mobile devices. Most suppliers featured in the system already have accounts with agents (e.g., TravelCube and Bedsonline), so the agent only has to search in one system to see these suppliers, saving time and putting the information on to the flight itinerary. Payment is as per the agent agreement with the supplier, just as if they had booked in the supplier’s own site. Many of the feeds available in Amadeus Hotels Plus are from wholesalers who sell through bed banks, so buying direct would reduce the net price of the hotel to the agent. However, agents can be slow to adapt to change and so may be missing out on the time saving and customer service benefits.
Since the decline of tour operator packages, travel agents are increasingly dynamically packaging flights, hotels and other services to meet their clients’ needs. However, dealing directly with hotels can be a costly and quite often fruitless operation. Some refuse to pay commission altogether, others are slow or ‘forget’ to send monies due to agents. Also, the time and communication costs spent searching for a hotel are often ignored, but they eat into the meager earnings generated in the travel industry. Most bed banks ‘protect’ the client’s/agent’s funds by only paying for the booking after the client has travelled, but, as we have seen with the collapse of Lowcostbeds, 1800 Hotels, Chase Travel and others, this is not always a protection at all. Irish agents do pay some bed banks, including TravelCube and BookaBed, by SEPA direct debit and, under the rules of the Core SEPA Scheme, in the event of a company failure the agent can recall a direct debit payment taken within eight weeks of it being paid. Innstant Travel offers multiple payment methods, including by virtual credit card automatically via the system as Bed Banks with B2C Websites bookings are being made, meaning that each booking auto- Irish agents once had two main hotel suppliers, Arrow Tours matically has the credit card payment signed to the booking and Breakaway, both providing excellent service with prices well below hotel direct prices. This was a time before the myriat the hotel.
ad of online hotel booking sites, many of which supply the travel industry but compete with agents for their clients’ business (in many cases with a B2C website under a different brand name). Why do agents use companies that are direct competitors? Many people in other industries ask this question and fail to understand the logic of the practice. The problem for Irish agents in particular is that there are very few suppliers without a direct sales outlet, and convenience outweighs the drawback. The cost to an agent of setting up and running software to pull wholesale feeds together is prohibitive and, when weighed against the income from hotel bookings, dealing with bed banks is a no brainer. Making matters even worse, comparison sites such as Trivago and Hotels Combined constantly bombard the public with their message claiming to be the only way to get the best price for the same hotel – prices that are not always the best, nor do they cover all suppliers. Many of those not on the comparison sites can sell below this ‘best price’ because they are not paying for the privilege of being included. How-
ever, the seemingly endless advertising budgets of comparison sites keep churning out their message.
'Necessary Evil' Bed banks are a 'necessary evil' as they do all the work for the agent by pulling together, into one place, all hotels in a particular area sorted under changeable criteria. Hotels and suppliers negotiate contracts based on volume and therefore make it possible to find varying prices for the same room, depending on which supplier feeds are being used. This enables agents to access better deals in one place through bed banks. However, a collapse such as Lowcostbeds leaves agents vulnerable because it is they, not the client, who must suffer any loss. Not having to pay a supplier provides some protection, but does not cover the price difference of paying a hotel direct at current rack rates to protect the client’s booking. This highlights the need for supplier failure insurance to cover travel agents in such cases. On the plus side, agents receive their commission upfront, improving cash flow and eliminating the need for chasing payments later. Meanwhile, new technology such as Amadeus Hotels Plus is worth considering as it combines the best of both worlds, helps to streamline the workload and improves the client offering.
TRAVEL COMMERCE PLATFORMS
New Product Offerings from Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport EARLY AIRLINE RESERVATION SYSTEMS DEVELOPED INTO GLOBAL DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS FOR TRAVEL AGENCIES AND HAVE RECENTLY DEVELOPED FURTHER INTO MORE COMPREHENSIVE TRAVEL COMMERCE PLATFORMS. NEIL STEEDMAN REPORTS ON THE HISTORY AND LATEST PRODUCT OFFERINGS OF THE THREE MAIN PLATFORMS USED IN IRELAND: AMADEUS, SABRE AND TRAVELPORT. Way back in 1960 a joint initiative between American Airlines and IBM created Sabre, the world’s first computerised airline reservation system, then in 1971 United Airlines created its first computerised central reservation system, Apollo. In 1976 TWA’s PARS system became the first global distribution system (GDS) to be installed in travel agencies, and in 1990 the Worldspan GDS was formed when Northwest Airlines and TWA combined their PARS systems with Delta Air Lines’ DATAS II system. In 1987 European airlines had responded to the dominance of US airline-owned GDSs and had undertaken a joint study to create a GDS of their own – but took two separate routes: Alitalia, British Airways, KLM and Swissair established Galileo, while Air France, Iberia, Lufthansa and SAS formed Amadeus. In 1992 Galileo International was established through a merger of the Galileo and Apollo systems, the latter having been previously divested by United Airlines. Then in 2006 a company acquired both Galileo International and Worldspan to form Travelport. That, in brief, is how the three main travel commerce platforms used by travel agencies in Ireland – Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport – came into being at a global level. In Ireland, Aer Lingus had launched its Astral reservations system in 1969 and in 1982 Timas was formed by merging the Astral and Videcom systems (with the ITAA having a 26% investment). When Aer Lingus joined the Galileo consortium, Timas became the national distribution company for Galileo, subsequently being renamed Galileo Ireland in 1994. Sabre had opened a Dublin office in 1991, Worldspan in 1995, and Amadeus in 2001, with Worldspan and Galileo coming under the Travelport brand in 2006. Now let us take a look at the latest and some forthcoming product offerings from the three platforms:
Amadeus Amadeus now has 90 contracts covering 200 locations in Ireland and a team of 10 split between the Dublin and Cork offices and one in Northern Ireland. Support staff for the Irish market are also located in Gatwick, England, and in Nice, France. Amadeus employs more than 14,200 professionals in over 70 commercial organisations and
is present in 195 markets worldwide. The acquisition of Navitaire in January 2016 added a further 500 employees to the workforce.
SELLING PLATFORM CONNECT The next-generation Amadeus Selling Platform Connect gives agents the freedom and flexibility to work in the way that suits them best with a fully mobile cloud-based platform. Selling Platform Connect works across any device, laptop, tablet or mobile. Because it is purely browser-based there is no software to download and it means that a reservation started on a laptop in the office can be picked up over the weekend using a tablet at home. It also means updates are instantly available, so customers are always using the most advanced software available.
LOW-COST AND HYBRID CARRIERS Amadeus partners with more than 90 low-cost and hybrid carriers, making 80% of the total global LCC and hybrid seats available to Amadeus-connected agencies. Low-cost and hybrid carrier bookings in Amadeus increased 17% year-on-year in the first half of 2016 and the company plans to bring further solutions to market, especially for the benefit of leisure travel agencies, before the end of the year.
TRAVEL COMMERCE PLATFORMS
AIRLINE MERCHANDISING SOLUTIONS A record number of airlines have signed-up to or gone live with Amadeus Airline Merchandising Solutions during the first half of 2016. In total 110 airlines have signed up to the solution, which makes it easier for carriers to showcase their inflight product and what is included in a fare or offer. The sale of ancillary services via online agents in particular increased some 95% in 2015. “Amadeus partners with more than 90 low-cost and hybrid carriers, making 80% of the total global LCC and hybrid seats available to Amadeusconnected agencies.”
B2B WALLET The new Amadeus B2B Wallet virtual card solution is not just one card but a wallet containing multiple options. It offers agents a way to save money and earn money, thanks to its virtual debit and credits. For example, by using the virtual debit card solution, agents can save on airline credit card charges. By paying travel suppliers using the virtual credit card option, agents can also earn a rebate on each transaction, generating additional income for the business. Additionally, B2B Wallet speeds up the reconciliation process and is more secure than using physical credit cards for payments to travel suppliers. AUTOMATION SUITE Automation Suite gives agents time they never knew they had by taking care of a range of manual administration tasks. By automating time consuming and labour-intensive daily tasks, Automation Suite enables agents to work smarter and reduce costs. Importantly, it boosts productivity, freeing up staff to concentrate on delivering high-value services to their clients. Automation Suite consists of three components; Ticketing Manager, Schedule Manager and Queue Cleaner. It offers the ability to easily configure each module to match exactly how the business wants to work. For example, as airline schedule changes and other notifications arrive, Queue Cleaner automatically updates the impacted bookings. Then, Schedule Manager informs travellers about the changes (according to the rules of the agency) and Ticketing Manager issues the tickets – all without having to lift a finger. MOBILE TRAVEL SOLUTIONS Amadeus offers a range of mobile travel solutions for Irish travel agencies. Travellers love the convenience of having an instantly updated itinerary on their smartphone as well as receiving flight notifications and the possibility of booking onward travel during a trip. Whether an agent is looking for a highly configurable mobile solution or a simple off-theshelf version, Amadeus has something to suit. The newly designed Amadeus CheckMyTrip app is fast, easy to use, and available to all customers. By connecting to checkmytrip.com or downloading the mobile application for iOS or Android, business travellers and holiday makers can maximise their travel productivity by gathering all trip information in one place. Amadeus mPower (of which Atlas Travel is the highest user in Europe) is a white label travel app that travel agents
can customise to their own brand and which provides a 24/7 contact service and cost and time savings for agents and their travellers, including real-time SMS messages to the app, mobile or email. Benefits for the traveller include easing the stress of travel by having access to all travel information in one place, immediate knowledge of itinerary changes and flight disruptions, and keeping track of previously booked flights and hotels for easy synchronisation of all travel arrangements. HOTELS PLUS Amadeus brings together content from 310 of the world’s leading hotel providers plus popular bed banks and independent properties. Hotel content is accessible via Amadeus Hotels Plus, a user-friendly, point and click sales tool with maps, photos and property feature icons, as well as via Web Services for seamless integration into an agency”s own booking system or website. There are 420,000+ unique hotel properties and more than a million shopping options. Later this year, in Q4, Amadeus will also add the Totalstay bed bank, part of the Jac Travel group, which provides discounted rates for over 100,000 hotels in more than 10,000 destinations worldwide.
Sabre Sabre has several major global clients in Ireland and is focusing on its partnerships with clients in other parts of the EMEA region that are looking to gain a foothold in the Irish market. A small local team in Ireland is supported by an extensive network of experts worldwide.
SABRE RED WORKSPACE The recently launched Sabre Red Workspace is an intuitive next-gen interface designed to create experiences for travellers rather than just itineraries. The user-friendly interface means that even agents who are unfamiliar with Sabre can be productive from day one, and puts Sabre’s marketplace intelligence data at an agent’s fingertips so that they can better advise corporate and leisure travellers. The new Decision Support Bar provides instant access to market data for Fare Trends, Alternate Dates, Alternate Airports, and other pertinent data. The alternate date fare search brings the power of Bargain Finder Max, previously only available to large OTAs, to every Sabre-connected agent.
TRAVEL COMMERCE PLATFORMS
TRIPCASE INTEGRATED PLATFORM Sabre will soon bring the new Tripcase Integrated Platform to Irish agents. This brings together three essential travel tools – Tripcase, GetThere and Sabre Virtual Payments – into one place on a traveller’s mobile device. This can be a great asset for agents bidding for corporate accounts.
TripCase allows the traveller to check-in with their corporation and provide GPS location while also having easy access to their emergency assistance hotline.
SAFEPOINT SafePoint is Sabre’s new mobile duty of care solution that automatically monitors all of a corporation’s trips. For travellers using TripCase, SafePoint will monitor a traveller’s entire itinerary, not just PNR segments, including out of programme bookings and other trip components. TripCase allows the traveller to check-in with their corporation and provide GPS location while also having easy access to their emergency assistance hotline. For travel managers, risk management teams and security advisors, an intuitive dashboard allows them to view events impacting on their travellers in a consumer grade user experience across desktop, tablet and mobile devices. Sabre has selected iJET International as exclusive provider of travel and security intelligence to SafePoint. In the event of an incident or disrupted travel, iJET’s travel intelligence will feed into SafePoint, which will automatically notify affected travellers via the TripCase mobile app, SMS, email and push notifications. HOTELHUB Sabre’s HotelHub, which is specifically available to agents within the EMEA region, aggregates both Sabre and the agency’s non-GDS aggregators’ content and seamlessly integrates with the Sabre Red Workspace. HotelHub offers more than 750,000 hotel properties around the globe and Sabre recently added another 63,000 Expedia Affiliate Network properties. CRUISING Sabre is working on an offering specific to cruises and this will soon be brought to the EMEA market.
Travelport Travelport has 20 staff based in Dublin working in sales, global operations, API support, global vendor support services, multinational account services and finance. The majority of 180 Mobile Travel Technologies employees are also based in Dublin, with expansion plans underway. Nearly 700 other staff are located in Travelport’s global headquarters in England at Langley, near London. SMARTPOINT The Travelport Smartpoint platform provides access to branded fares and ancillary products from hundreds of airlines (including low-cost carriers), 650,000 unique
hotel properties, car rental products from 36,000 locations, and much more. Travel agents can shop, reserve, book, modify, cancel and rebook for their clients. The entire travel content portfolio is available to book within a single and integrated workflow, meaning that agents avoid switching to different travel websites or systems in order to fulfill a traveller’s requirements. This enables efficient and productive booking and itinerary creation, reduced training time for agents, and significant upsell and cross-sell revenue opportunities. Smartpoint enables corporations and corporate travel agencies to administer travel policies, maintain policy compliance, preferences and travel authorisation parameters. As the system of record for travellers we are able to fulfill duty of care requirements that corporations have for its employees. A unique selling point is that Smartpoint enables the integration of corporate-negotiated and tailored travel content and rates into the booking workflow. RICH CONTENT AND BRANDING Approximately 170 airlines are now signed up to Travelport Rich Content and Branding and are actively merchandising their enriched product content, including branded fares and ancillaries, within Travelport’s pointof-sale applications worldwide. Rich Content and Branding details what the traveller will get for their money and what optional extras, such as seat assignments, extra checked bags or an upgrade, might cost. It matches the content and brand experience on the airline’s own website and makes the comparison and selling of airlines’ products and services easier and more effective for travel agents. SEATGURU Travelport has now integrated SeatGuru, the website that allows travellers to choose the best airline seats and in-flight amenities. This enables agents to quickly and easily access seat reviews, without having to leave their booking flow, providing further opportunities for upselling and improved customer service. ENETT Travelport’s B2B payments solution, eNett, which is ful-
TRAVEL COMMERCE PLATFORMS
ly integrated into Smartpoint, replaces cash and other traditional payment methods with secure, virtual and pre-funded payment cards, which eliminate credit or bankruptcy risk, lower administrative costs (due to significantly reduced time spent on reconciliation), and lower the spread for foreign currency payments. CONFERMA Travelport recently launched a hotel billback solution in partnership with Conferma, which specialises in the settlement and reconciliation of corporate travel expense, to enable a more automated and streamlined process for managing payments to hotels on behalf of corporate travellers. The hotel billback solution will allow Travel Management Companies to centrally settle hotel bookings using a Conferma-powered Virtual Card Number issued by a variety of providers, including banks and, eNett, which participates in the Conferma network. The solution is being directly integrated into Travelport Smartpoint. The Travelport-Conferma approach also means that booking and custom reference data, specific to individual corporations, is captured at the point-of-sale. This enriches the level of management information available to TMCs to provide to their clients and monitor expenditure and policy compliance. Such data also allows TMCs to make better-informed decisions when managing suppliers and negotiating rates.
MOBILE TRAVEL TECHNOLOGIES Travelport recently acquired Mobile Travel Technologies Ltd, a private company based in Dublin. MTT provides a mobile travel platform and product set that allows airlines, hotels, corporate travel management companies and travel agencies to engage with their customers through tailored mobile services including apps, mobile web and intelligent mobile messaging. MTTâ€™s mobile apps and services are then delivered, under the customer brand, to smartphones, tablets and wearable devices, including the Apple Watch. HOTELZON Travelport Hotelzon offers 650,000 hotel properties worldwide, of which over 550,000 are independent hotel properties. Travelportâ€™s growth strategy is also focused on delivering corporate access to aggregated hotel content, including chain and independent hotels, through a single point of sale. To increase the opportunities to sell hotel rooms and derive incremental revenue, agents can now search for hotels by vicinity using a full or partial address. Travelport Smartpoint now mirrors for agents the experience of clients booking hotels online by allowing them to access enhanced features, including images, comparisons, maps and reviews of hotel properties, as well as specific offers based on travellersâ€™ loyalty memberships, within the same workflow.
To increase the opportunities to sell hotel rooms and derive incremental revenue, agents can now search for hotels by vicinity using a full or partial address.
John Appleby, GENERAL MANAGER IRELAND, FLIGHT CENTRE ON 3RD AUGUST FLIGHT CENTRE TRAVEL GROUP, THE BRISBANE-BASED COMPANY WITH MORE THAN 30 BRANDS (INCLUDING FCM TRAVEL SOLUTIONS), A$17.6 BILLION GLOBAL TURNOVER AND 19,000 STAFF IN OVER 2,500 STORES IN 12 COUNTRIES (INCLUDING 86 IN BRITAIN), OPENED ITS FIRST STORE IN IRELAND AT 2 DAWSON STREET, DUBLIN.
Throughout August and continuing into mid-September, Flight Centre is running two special offers: customers who book a Journeys tailor-made holiday receive a €500 discount, while those who book an Escapes 4-star or 5-star resort holiday receive a €250 discount. The visitor enters a large, bright open-plan space with 34 positions for Flight Centre Retail (currently with 15 staff ) and Flight Centre Business Travel (currently five staff ) along with neatly racked and seriously impressive destination brochures. They can also enter the ‘Pin to Win!’ competition by pinning their favourite holiday destination on a world map to win a seven-night trip to Thailand – thereby providing their name, phone number and email address for the database! The lower ground floor provides a conference room and two breakout rooms, training rooms, and a kitchen/canteen. John Appleby, General Manager Ireland, told ITTN: “We have taken a 20-year lease on the two floors. A couple of Irish staff have transferred from UK stores and another came over from FCm in Dublin. The others also have sales experience, not necessarily in travel but they have travelled extensively on at least two continents. When we held a recruitment day at the Clayton Dublin Airport Hotel almost 500 people applied for the 20 places on offer, we invited 40 and took on nine. “Flight Centre has traditionally used Travelport, apart from Sabre in the USA, but Ireland and the UK have a simultaneous launch of a new hybrid Amadeus system that includes a bespoke sales platform specially designed for Flight Centre. MUSICIAN TO GENERAL MANAGER “Eighteen years ago I was a musician living in the Netherlands and working for a cycle tours company. After a very busy summer I went back home to England envisaging a long, quiet winter but my parents ‘encouraged’ me to find work, so I joined DialAFlight and stayed five years, becoming Sales Manager. “I took the opportunity to join Flight Centre’s manage-
ment training scheme and, after a short period in London’s Euston Road store I became Sales Manager of the Duke Street store in Mayfair from 2005 to 2007. Then, off the back of the Duke Street result I was tasked with the setting up of Flight Centre’s first global Hyperstore at High Street Kensington until 2010, and then repeated the process taking on the even bigger Hyperstore in Oxford Street with 65 staff across four floors.
“I left in 2013 to become Sales Director for FCm Travel Solutions UK and when the Irish operation was acquired I came to Dublin in December 2014 to assist, along with the aim of opening this first retail store. FLIGHTS, HOLIDAYS AND BUSINESS TRAVEL “Yes, we do plan to open more in Ireland, but we first need to hone the Dublin customer experience and increase our understanding of Irish consumers – who are usually well informed and prepared to pay for a quality service. “We are very focused on walk-in sales, investing heavily in our beautiful flagship Hyperstore, and have a website of course, at www.flightcentreireland.ie, but we have spent very little on consumer advertising and are planning on growing organically, building our Irish business from the ground up. "In its 35-year history, Flight Centre has traditionally been air fare-led but in recent years we have developed the holidays and business travel sectors, all of which we offer here in Dawson Street.”
SHORT BREAKS OR STOPOVERS IN
St John’s, Newfoundland
A Ferryland Lighthouse picnic (photo: Jill Sheeran)
ITTN News & Features Editor Neil Steedman accompanied seven travel agents on a four-day Sunway/ WestJet fam trip to discover how St John’s in Newfoundland provides a great long weekend break or a fascinating stopover enroute to Toronto – and has strong ancestral, cultural and language ties with Ireland.
Ready to go at Dublin Airport were Barry Hammond, Sunway; Siobhan Brannigan, Centre Travel; Donna Friel, Liberty Travel; Jill Sheeran, Best4Travel; Yvonne O’Donohoe, O’Donohoe Travel; Paula Glynn, Grogan Travel; Carmel Hayes, Strand Travel; Joanne Keogh, Top Class Travel; and Eileen Penrose, APG Ireland/WestJet
Sunway and WestJet had run a competition for places on the fam trip and were astounded by the huge number of entries. The lucky winners were Siobhan Brannigan, Centre Travel, Dundalk; Donna Friel, Liberty Travel, Letterkenny; Jill Sheeran, Best4Travel (homeworker); Yvonne O’Donohoe, O’Donohoe Travel, Gorey; Paula Glynn, Grogan Travel, Tuam; Carmel Hayes, Strand Travel, Waterford; and Joanne Keogh, Top Class Travel, Carlow. Travelling with them were Barry Hammond, Sunway, and Eileen Penrose, APG Ireland and GSA for WestJet, while hosting them in Canada were Jeannette Yetman, Destination St John’s; Andrew McCarthy, McCarthy Party Tours & Convention Services; Rodney Walsh, Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism; and Andrew Hiscock, Eastern Newfoundland DMO.
Day 1: St John’s Having obtained their Canadian visas online for CA$7 (€4.82) and met up at Dublin Airport, everyone was pleasantly surprised by how quick the WestJet flight is to Canada – 5h0m when on schedule but often just 4h45m in practice. The National Historic Site of Signal Hill, the reception point for Guglielmo Marconi’s first transatlantic wireless signal in 1901, offers great views of St John’s and its harbour. St John’s’ famous ‘jelly bean’ houses got their bright, varied colours because boat paint was the cheapest available to the owner fishermen, while the brewery in nearby Quidi Vidi Village offers a unique Iceberg Beer made with iceberg water harvested from icebergs that drift off the Newfoundland coast.
Day 2: Irish Loop The Irish Loop south of St John’s includes the Colony of Avalon in Ferryland, founded by Sir George Calvert, later Lord Baltimore, in 1621 and today a live archaeological dig and one of the earliest European settlements in North America. For lunch we savoured a homemade gourmet Ferryland Lighthouse Picnic on a beautiful headland overlooking the Atlantic beside an 1870 lighthouse restored by Jill Curran (who was originally inspired by Darina Allen of Ballymaloe).
‘Jelly bean’ houses in St John’s
Later, our Gatherall’s Puffin & Whale Tour from Bay Bulls brought sightings of an iceberg, a minkie whale (not a common sight), a seal, puffins and eagles.
Day 3: Conception Bay On a tour around the picturesque coastline of Conception Bay we spotted two more whales (humpbacks this time) at Freshwater. Places visited included Brigus and the National Historic Site of Hawthorne Cottage, home of Arctic explorer Captain Bob Bartlett, and Cupids, where site discoverer Bill Gilbert led a most informative tour of the archaeological site of Cupids Cove Plantation, the first permanent English settlement in Canada dating from 1610. Harbour Grace is from where 34-year-old aviator Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic, departing on 20th May 1932 and landing 14 hours 56 minutes later in Northern Ireland at Culmore near Derry. Carbonear’s new restaurant, The Stone Jug, provided much liquid and solid sustenance, so not everyone spotted the moose on the way back to St John’s!
Archeologist Bill Gilbert explains the Cupids Cove Plantation
For 2017 WestJet will commence operating daily Dublin – St John’s flights from Monday 1st May.
Sunway Sunway is still waiting on some prices to be confirmed for 2017 but does not envisage any major price differences from this year. Programmes are listed on the website at: www.sunway.ie/usa-canada-holidays/newfoundland/st-johns Short breaks, based on 25th May 2017 flights and three nights accommodation (including taxes but not
Day 4: Cape Spear After visiting the Johnson GEO Centre (which includes The Titanic Story exhibit) and The Rooms cultural and art centre in St John’s, we headed for Cape Spear LIghthouse 17km away, another National Historic Site with a World War II gun battery and the most easterly point on the North American continent. The fam trip ended with a visit to an Irish pub (well, OK, three) in St John’s George Street area, where there is plenty of Irish-style craic agus ceol.
Getting There WestJet flies non-stop from Dublin to St John’s (YYT) daily from May to October, departing Dublin at 08.35 and arriving St John’s at 10.05, with a flight time of 5h0m (the time difference being 3h30m) – and often less. The last flight ex-Dublin this year is on Sunday 23rd October. However, at the time of writing the last ex-St John’s return flight with seat availability was Friday 21st October.
bag), are the Delta St John’s Hotel on a room only basis from €719pps and the Murray Premises Hotel with continental breakfast from €829pps. Sunway also offers a choice of tours, including three day tours: Historical St John’s & Cape Spear, €40pp; Outports, Lucky Rocks & Quidi Vidi, €48pp; and Colony of Avalon Tour, €89pp.
Barry Hammond, Sunway, sizes up the Cape Spear gun battery
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Mabul Island, Malaysia
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