Shivani DDPPL

Musafir.com revolutionises corporate travel with state-of-the-art online booking tool

A decade after introducing corporate travel solutions to businesses in the region, Sharjah-based Musafir.com is on course to revolutionise the corporate travel industry with its brand new, state-of-the-art corporate booking tool, designed to streamline the relationship between the premium travel website and their corporate clients. The region’s  sole homegrown travel provider aims to usher its 900+ corporate clients into a new age of business travel with this augmentation to their unrivalled portfolio of services. In a bid to modernise business, the new online tool will feature Advanced travel policies: These help companies stay on budget with 20+ control checks including airlines, cities, classes, refundability and rating. Automated profiles: This allows for the efficient import of all employee passport details and preferences or connect with single sign-on. Easy to track spends: Tags are used to monitor spends and segregate them by department, designation, cost centre, travel intent and more. Paperless approvals: Detailed approval requests are sent to line managers and CEOs with one-click processing. According to Musafir.com, these key features coupled with the ability to obtain real-time reports and insights, are likely to result in up to 20 percent travel budget savings for clients.  “We have invested heavily in end-to-end automation on the corporate travel front. From the booking process to the reporting, we’ve leveraged algorithmic machine learning to make business travel a seamless experience,” says Sachin Gadoya, CEO, Musafir.com. “As we continue to grow technologically, we will also branch out geographically. We’re steadily expanding further into the Middle East and India markets and are in talks to progress into key economies in South East Asia as well.”  

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Dubai records high tourist volumes with India ahead again

Dubai welcomed 8.36 million international overnight visitors in the first six months, January-June of 2019, posting a positive 3 per cent in tourism volume growth compared to the same period last year, according to the latest data released by Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing. India once again led the pack, drawing the highest half year volumes with 997,000 visitors – particularly noteworthy given the severe air traffic and seat capacity challenges due to geopolitical volatilities. Dubai continued to drive booking interest from Indians on a mass scale largely due to high-impact delivery of segment and season-specific campaigns across the most accessible Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities. From focused ‘family’ or ‘couple’ oriented promotions to the Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan-led global #BeMyGuest campaign, the Department’s investments yielded strong returns, with the latter alone surpassing all records, logging 160 million views in a few weeks. Additionally, at an audience penetration level, travel share of Indian families with children rose by a substantial 10 percentage points from 24 to 34 per cent, directly reflecting higher GDP impact due to party size and spend potential. With more than 30 in-market trade partnerships initiated in the first half of 2019 alone, Dubai Tourism’s confidence in, and commitment to, India is further emphasised by strategic annual collaborations launched with the biggest names in the travel ecosystem – such as Thomas Cook, Cox & Kings and SOTC, as well as OTAs like MakeMyTrip and Goibibo. His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai Tourism, commented, “Tourism is one of the cornerstones of Dubai’s diversified economic growth, and we measure success based on our ability to aggressively advance towards our goal to be the number one …

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M Hotel Downtown by Millennium rebrands as the first Millennium Central

M Hotel Downtown by Millennium will operate under the newest brand for  Millennium Hotels & Resorts portfolio ‘Millennium Central’.  Situated at the heart of Downtown Dubai, Millennium Central Downtown’s tailor-made services will cater to the needs of frequent business travellers looking for a short stay that is in the vicinity of major commercial, business and trade hubs. The hotel will be known for its features such as a unique central location; a hassle-free and prime quality service, convenience to work and unwind at the same time; unique spaces for business meetings, creative brainstorming or social gatherings; and convenient meal options like food on the go. Millennium Central Downtown is owned by Naissk Hotels and Resorts, a global hospitality company with upscale and luxurious hotel properties around the world. The property will be managed by Millennium Hotels and Resorts, Middle East and Africa to offer distinctive and comfortable stay experiences to travellers. Neeska Naik, Founder at Naissk Hotels and Resorts, said, “Millennium Central is the answer to urban travellers’ demand who travel for business, and yet are looking for an informal hotel ambience and personalised services.” Kevork Deldelian, Chief Operating Officer of Millennium Hotels and Resorts, Middle East and Africa, said, “Millennium Central Downtown will be the first hotel under the Millennium Central brand and we aim to expand our portfolio as an exquisite and tailor-made entity in the hospitality business.”    

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Travelport processes live test GDS bookings of Qantas’ NDC content

As the next step in its continuing support for Qantas’ New Distribution Capability, including the Qantas Distribution Platform (QDP), Travelport, a leading technology company serving the travel industry, has begun handling its first bookings with Qantas using IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard. The bookings are being made through Travelport Smartpoint in a live production test environment as Qantas prepares distribution of differentiated NDC content from late 2019. This NDC connection to Qantas is the first by any GDS to the carrier and enables live bookings of NDC content to be made by selected agency partners taking part in the testing programme, including ATPI Corporate Travel, Globetrotter and Travel Beyond. The development is part of the airline’s plans for the QDP which is dedicated to offering an improved customer experience through enhanced and personalised content tailored to meet travellers’ unique needs. Having been the first GDS to make a live NDC booking in October 2018, Travelport has already connected to five European airlines’ NDC content. It will follow up with an API NDC connection channel through Travelport’s Trip Service API with Qantas’ content among the first to be available through this channel. The Trip Service API is also currently part of a testing programme with an Australia-based online travel agency successfully coding to it. Scott Barber, Managing Director Australia and New Zealand at Travelport, commented, “Qantas shares our vision that NDC has the potential to enhance the travel experience for its customers, offering personalised and differentiated choice and a seamless booking experience.” Peter Muller, International Board Director at ATPI Corporate Travel, added, “It’s great to be part of the team pioneering NDC for the Asia-Pacific region. We’re pleased to see …

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Tamil Nadu Travel Mart focuses on Middle East market

The second edition of the Tamil Nadu Travel Mart will be held from September 19 to 22, 2019 at the Chennai Trade Centre in India. S Sundar, Honorary Secretary, Tamil Nadu Travel Mart Society, shared, “Tamil Nadu Tourism will be taken to the next level after this second edition and Middle East agents will get to know more about Tamil Nadu and increase their business opportunities for further mutual benefits. The main objective is to sell Tamil Nadu as a destination bringing together the many touristic attractions available for different types of tourists from around the world. To tell the world Tamil Nadu is not only a pilgrim destination but we have various other leisure products as well. It is purely a Tourism Mart like Kerala Travel Mart but this year CII is organising a Medical Value Mart along with this whereby both buyers will have a seamless entry to both venues using the same buyer ID.” Tamil Nadu Travel Mart is one of the biggest global events that focuses on marketing the destination of Chennai as not just a pilgrim and heritage site but also promotes the various other offerings that are important to  travellers from around the world. Middle East has always been a close ally of the destination mainly due to its connectivity and one of the most famous tourism partnerships is travel for medical tourism.

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Dubai Association Conference 2019 to be held in December 

Momentum is building towards the second edition of the Dubai Association Conference, with more details being unveiled about the event’s rich programme, built around the core theme of ‘Driving change: The societal impact of associations’. Taking place from December 9-10, 2019 at Dubai World Trade Centre and organised by Dubai Association Centre, the agenda of the conference will offer a blend of panel discussions, expert briefings, and interactive sessions, all centred around the core theme and four sub-themes: Community Well-Being, Knowledge and Research, Business and Opportunity, and Creativity and Innovation. The conference, being held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, will serve as a platform to facilitate discussions on the value proposition of associations that go beyond direct and indirect economic benefits. The programme will be structured by four different pillars that further support the facilitation of these discussions: Impact and Legacy, Designing an Impact Management and Measurement Programme, Organisational Resilience and Foresight, and the Art of Collaboration. Issam Kazim, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, said, “Along with being a catalyst for business opportunities within a thriving ecosystem, associations have the power to fuel innovation and creativity which ultimately contributes to the wellbeing of society.” Hassan Al Hashemi, Vice President of International Relations at Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, “Associations are important building blocks for society. They create influential platforms for sharing opinions, they provide fertile ground for the exploration and dissemination of new ideas, and they establish unified codes and procedures.”

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Thailand Golf Travel Mart 2019 attracts ME

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) organised the fifth Thailand Golf Travel Mart (TGTM) 2019 between August 6-9, in the kingdom’s Northern capital as part of an ongoing strategy to further develop a very important source of high-spending, long-staying customer segment. The event attracted a contingent of 116 top golf tour operators from 24 countries, the top five of whom were from China (22), Japan (17), India (9), South Korea (8), and Singapore (7). To broaden the exposure of Thailand’s golfing attractions, TAT carefully screened and invited 59 first-time buyers, especially from new markets; such as, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Portugal and Sweden. The Middle East had a contingent of avid golfers from the UAE who were specially flown in for the event. Amongst the 97 Thai exhibitors, mainly representatives of Thailand’s stunning golf courses and resorts, 37 were from the Central Region, 23 from the East, 22 from the North, 10 from the South and 5 from the Northeast. They included 39 first-time sellers. The topic of the panel discussion was  “Thailand beyond a Premier Golf Destination” featuring Tanes Petsuwan, TAT Deputy Governor for Marketing and Communications, Thongchai Jaidee, a Thai professional golfer and David Rollo, Vice President, Golf – IMG Events. The previous four TGTMs have been held in Hua Hin, Pattaya, Khao Yai and Phuket to highlight the geographical and professional diversity of the kingdom’s leading sports tourism sector. Chiang Mai, the city known as the Rose of the North, is a very important golfing destination with international standard golfing facilities set amidst the backdrop of picturesque natural landscapes, rich history, and culture of the Northern region. The World Golf Travel Agents Association …

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Sochi to host Formula 1 VTB Grand Prix

One of the most important events in the calendar is the famous Formula 1 VTB Grand Prix which will take place from September 27 to 29, 2019 in Sochi. The city hosted its first Formula One Grand Prix in 2014. The circuit is 5.848 kilometers long and is located within Sochi’s Olympic Park. Visitors can marvel at the architecturally eye-catching venues that were built for the 22nd Olympic Winter Games 2014 and 11th Paralympic Winter Games. Sochi has also been a host city for the 2018 FIFA Football World Cup. Sochi is known as the ‘Jewel of the Black Sea Coast’ and impresses with its beautiful landscapes, warm azure waters of the Black Sea and many leisure activities for the whole family. The resort city has so much to offer and is suitable for many different travel requirements. In winter Sochi offers great possibilities for skiing and as soon as the snow is gone, people can enjoy by climbing up the high mountains of the Caucasus. The city of Sochi has more than 200 days of sunshine a year which offers an opportunity to discover nature. Beside the amazing countryside, Sochi offers various leisure activities and many interesting events.

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Data-driven merchandising banners are the way forward

Nor1, the global leader in hospitality upgrade, upsell, and merchandising technology, has announced the launch of game-changing merchandising features to their flagship product, eStandby. These inventory-based guest communications trigger bookings and upsell, and have driven conversion rates above 25 per cent, creating significant increases in revenues, direct to properties. “Today’s guests demand and deserve absolute transparency in the booking process,” says Jason G. Bryant, Founder and CEO, Nor1. “Accuracy and useful information are key. Our technology is different than anything else on the market because it reflects actual real-time inventory through our two-way integration. We serve up relevant data-driven offers based on a micro-segmented machine learning approach, as well as highlight what is in high-demand by others to prompt guests to make quicker and more confident buying decisions. Even without integration, we still know how many guests have requested an offer, or which offer is most likely to convert based on what similar guests have requested, or what hotels have awarded most.” Powered by machine learning, eStandby and its confirmed upsell sister product eXpress Upgrade, enable hotels to maximise revenue and drive real operational efficiencies to generate the highest ROI on upselling technology in the industry. The new merchandising banner features are designed to inspire guests to convert based on influencial buying triggers such as scarcity of product, popular demand, or customised offers. Jason adds, “By leveraging some of the top performing merchandising and recommendation mechanisms that travellers see and respond to on booking sites like Expedia, our latest enhancements level the playing field for hoteliers in their competition with third parties.”

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Turkish Airlines codeshares with LOT Polish Airlines

Turkish Airlines and LOT Polish Airlines announced the enhancement of their current codeshare agreement with additional destinations both from Turkish Airlines’ and LOT’s flight network. “With the introduction of joint flights on several destinations in Poland, Turkey, Middle East and Africa, passengers would enjoy more travel alternatives through the combined flights. Without a doubt, this agreement will help in increasing the commercial and tourism ties of our countries,” said Bilal Ekşi, Deputy Chairman & CEO, Turkish Airlines. Joint flights will offer fast and convenient connections for customers leaving Istanbul, the biggest Turkish city and also an important flight hub in the world, to Warsaw and beyond. “ The enhanced partnership with Turkish Airlines will help us not only expand LOT route network and offer many new attractive destinations to our passengers but also improve connectivity and travel experience on existing codeshare routes beyond Istanbul, such as Ankara, Cairo or Amman,” said Rafal Milczarski, CEO & President of the Management Board of LOT Polish Airlines. Passengers will also enjoy both domestic and international connections from Istanbul. Moreover, taking into account the complementary structure of time-tables of both carriers and agreement working reciprocally, it will allow both airlines’ customers to enjoy seamless connectivity in their respective hubs. LOT Polish Airlines and Turkish Airlines passengers have also the benefit of accruing and redeeming miles in their respective loyalty programs, Miles&More and Miles&Smiles on all flights of both carriers.

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