Midnight in Tokyo

Midnight in Tokyo

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Check out the “Movie Night” Presets!

Today’s photo was edited with the new “Movie Night” Lightroom Presets, These were largely inspired by my time in Tokyo, taking street photos in evenings and throughout the night. Tokyo is one of the more Blade-Runnery cities on the planet, and I’m often inspired by movies… so this was a nice mixing of worlds for me.

Daily Photo – Midnight in Tokyo

Not only does Tokyo contain cities within cities, but also cities within cities within cities. This is the Kabukicho area of Shinjuku area of Tokyo. It’s also known as a bit of the red-light district. But everything is so civilized in Tokyo that the “seedy” area is also perfectly safe and walkable. To me, it’s one of the best areas to photograph because there are so many lights and a multitude of signage. I found a good spot right in the middle of the median that was a bit elevated by some shrubbery to take this photo. I stood here for about an hour waiting for a good situation.

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2018-01-30 02:59:30
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/80
  • Aperture8
  • ISO1000
  • Focal Length65.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

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April 24, 2018 at 09:06AM

News: AHIF 2018: Marriott leads African hospitality development

News: AHIF 2018: Marriott leads African hospitality development

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Marriott International tops this year’s table for the most planned new hotel rooms under construction in Africa, according to the influential annual hotel pipeline survey by W Hospitality Group.

Details of the report will be one of the key discussions at the Africa Hotel Investment Forum, which the Kenyan government recently announced will return to Nairobi, in October this year.

Marriott International currently has a development pipeline of 93 new hotels comprising 17,708 rooms in Africa.

Almost half of those rooms – 8,587 – are already under construction.

The Hilton chain is ranked second, with 6,352 rooms under construction, and the Radisson Hotel Group is third with 4,840 rooms currently being built.

Most of fourth-placed AccorHotel’s deals are fairly new, signed in 2016 and 2017, and therefore it is not surprising that only 36 per cent of rooms in its pipeline are under construction. 

Best Western has just over 91 per cent of its pipeline rooms onsite. 

Louvre and Meliã, both have all their pipeline rooms under construction, which prompts the question: where are they looking to go next?

The W Hospitality Group ranking for individual hotel brands has Radisson Blu with the largest number of rooms under construction – beating the Hilton brand by over 300 rooms.

This year’s pipeline report, now in its tenth edition, has 41 contributors, reporting 418 deals with over 100 brands.

Year-on-year performance for Africa in 2018 shows growth, but more muted than in recent years – 25 per cent growth in the number of pipeline rooms in 2015; 19 per cent in 2016, and 13 per cent in 2017, much the same as the 13.5 per cent growth in 2018.

The overall pipeline for hotel chains in Africa looks healthy for the future.

Notably, Mangalis, a new hotel brand launched in 2011, has already managed to build a significant pipeline, with 1,746 rooms in 14 hotels, growing the existing portfolio of 425 rooms in three hotels by more than four times.

Currently five of the 14 hotels in the pipeline are under construction.

But there is a word of caution from W Hospitality Group managing director, Trevor Ward: “Of the total 76,322 rooms in the African pipeline, almost 34,000 rooms are said by the chains to have scheduled openings this year and in 2019. 

“The reality on ground, however, is that 4,000 of those rooms were not even under construction as at the time of our data collection – which was the first quarter of 2018.

“It would not therefore be amiss of us to suggest that there is a degree of over-optimism on the part of the chains regarding their expansion plans.”

AHIF, which is supported by the Kenyan ministry of tourism and wildlife, is attended by leading international hotel investors, business leaders and politicians.

It has a proven track-record of driving investment into tourism projects, infrastructure and hotel development across Africa.

Matthew Weihs, managing director of Bench Events, AHIF organiser, said: “This report from W Hospitality Group contains the sort of hard data that serious investors want to see. 

“It, and other analyses from numerous expert advisers to the industry, will be the core content that makes AHIF a must-attend event, alongside unrivalled networking opportunities.”

In the first week of October, Kenya will show itself off to the world with an unprecedented week of tourism promotion.

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April 24, 2018 at 07:29AM

The Inside Story Behind Marriott’s Moxy-Led Invasion of Manhattan

The Inside Story Behind Marriott’s Moxy-Led Invasion of Manhattan

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When Mitchell Hochberg, the president of New York-based real estate company Lightstone, was trying to find the next best “affordable” hotel concept to bring to the U.S., he found himself at a bit of a dead end.

He and his team were searching everywhere for a hotel that would be both economically viable for their future hotel guests, and for them as the money behind the development.

Lightstone had considered going with other millennial-minded micro-hotel brands such as AccorHotels’ Mama Shelter, CitizenM Hotels, and Yotel, but none of those brands seemed to be the right fit. Hochberg thought that the company’s best bet was to do something entirely independent.

But when Hochberg found himself at the Malpensa Airport in Milan in 2013 and saw an “under construction” sign for a Marriott brand he’d never heard of before, he knew he’d found his answer.

At the time, there were no Moxy hotels in the U.S.. This new brand from Marriott was marketing itself as offering the “bare maximum” for cost-conscious millennials, and for that very first Moxy in Milan, Marriott had even collaborated with Ikea to develop prefabricated modular room components to cut back on costs.

This “fun” micro-hotel concept, Hochberg thought, might just work in the United States. And the added benefit of working with a company like Marriott wasn’t lost on him, considering Lightstone already owned 20 other Marriott-branded properties in the U.S.

Last year Hochberg opened Lightstone’s first of four planned Moxy hotels in New York City.

“If people are happy being in a 175-square-foot room in Europe, why couldn’t you design a 175-square-foot room in the United States that people would be happy with?” Hochberg asked. “We felt that if we could make the room size a third to 50 percent smaller than it usually is, we could charge less and be a very attractive, affordable alternative.”

Before bringing the Moxy brand stateside, Lightstone had some requests: Namely, tweaking Moxy’s “bare maximum” select-service model in Europe to make sure it would appeal to U.S. audiences by investing more in the design, and adding food-and-beverage venues where there weren’t any before.

“We felt that the brand needed to be somewhat fine-tuned for the American consumer, from what the brand was evolving in Europe,” Hochberg said. “The brand was established on a complete select-service chassis in Europe, whereas we felt that food and beverage was an important component to have if the brand were in a major gateway city like New York, Los Angeles, or Miami.”

Marriott agreed with Hochberg, and last year, Lightstone opened its first Moxy hotel in Times Square. Going forward, the company also plans to open three more Moxy hotels in Los Angeles, and another in Miami–for a total of eight Lightstone-owned Moxy hotels.

Lightstone’s multibillion-dollar commitment to growing the Moxy brand in North America is the byproduct of a unique, if “unusual,” relationship between hotel developer and hotel brand company, highlighting the many challenges hotel owners face today.

Here’s an inside look at how Lightstone worked with Marriott to translate the Moxy brand concept for the American market, and specifically in New York City.

The rooftop at the Moxy Times Square, called Magic Hour, is one of five food-and-drink venues at the hotel. The original Moxy hotels that opened in Europe did not have extensive food-and-beverage outlets. Source: Warren Jagger/Moxy Times Square

An Unusual Hotel Brand-Owner Relationship

Hochberg and his team worked very closely with Marriott on making sure the Moxy brand would work in New York. Not only would the New York properties be significantly larger in size than they were being built in Europe— 300 to 600 rooms compared to 150 rooms — but they would also need “a higher level of design.”

Marriott agreed with Lightstone, and gave Hochberg the green light to add dining venues by Tao Group, as well as hire Yabu Pushelberg to do the design for the public spaces and guest rooms for the first project, the North American flagship for the brand.

Yabu Pushelberg is the same design duo behind luxury hotel properties from brands such as the Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, and Marriott’s own Edition and St. Regis brands.

Lightstone’s insistence on elevating Moxy’s design aesthetic will also have an impact on future Moxy hotel projects. The clever designs and flexible, foldable furniture Yabu Pushelberg created for the Times Square location, which opened last fall, are now available to other hotel owners who decide to open Moxy-branded hotels.

“It’s critical, both to the owners of the hotels and to Marriott as the owner of the brand, that as the brand gets rolled out, that they maintain the overall integrity of the brand,” Hochberg said.

A 120-square-foot “Crash Pad” guest room at the Moxy Times Square goes for $99 a night all year-round but there are only 19 of them in the 612-room hotel. Source: Moxy Times Square

Redefining “Affordability”

New York City isn’t a place that’s known for relatively affordable hotel accommodations, either to stay in or to build, so developing Moxy’s cost-consciousness here would require some thought on Lightstone’s part.

In 2016, the average daily rate for a hotel room in the city was $258.04, and the average occupancy rate for the city was 85.9 percent, according to data from STR.

Today, Lightstone’s Moxy Times Square hotel has nightly rates that range anywhere from $150 to $279. A select number of 120-square-foot rooms, called Crash Pads, that go for $99 a night all year-round. Those 19 rooms account for 3 percent of the hotel’s total 612-room inventory. Compared to other Manhattan-based hotels, it’s relatively priced to be affordable.

While New York City hoteliers can demand relatively high average nightly rates and expect to have nearly fully booked hotels, they’ve also had to deal with the impact of the popularity of homesharing and an influx of new hotel supply that makes it a challenge to compete.

Even with more hotels opening every day, and signs of a bit of a “Trump Slump” in international visitors, Hochberg is confident that New York City will continue to be a strong hospitality market.

“Long term, we have no concerns about the New York City markets,” Hochberg said. “That’s why we’re investing a billion dollars into [developing] Moxy hotels in New York City.”

He also said that brands like Moxy are “a very compelling alternative to someone who’s considering Airbnb.”

For example, he said, even if it costs $279 a night to stay in the Moxy Times Square, and $179 a night for an Airbnb listing in Queens, the guest who stays in the Moxy eventually wins out in terms of “the overall experience.”

“If you’re in Queens, you’ve got to take two subway rides, walk down a dark street, walk into a building that you’ve never seen before, and hope that everything is OK,” he said. “Whereas if you’re staying at the Moxy Times Square, you’re in the middle of everything. You know what you’re going to get. You get your Marriott Rewards points. You’re going to have security, nightly maid service, and five restaurants and bars to choose from just within the hotel.”

Left to right: Lightstone’s Lucy Pires, William Hunsberger, Mark Green, President Mitchell Hochberg, Christopher Baxter, and David Duvoisin, and Stonehill Taylor’s Neill Parker and Peter Nicolosi, celebrate the topping out of the upcoming Moxy Chelsea in New York City. Source: PRNewsfoto/Lightstone

Consumer Response to Moxy and the Micro-Hotel Movement

But are five hotels of the same exact brand — and one as distinctive as Moxy, with its micro-hotel concept — too many for any one city or borough?

Not surprisingly, Hochberg doesn’t think so.

“I’m not too worried about too many Moxys,” Hochberg said. “We put a tremendous amount of thought into how deep we felt the brand could be in New York. And in New York, in particular, guests typically pick hotels by neighborhood. And a guest that’s going to be in the East Village is not a guest who’s going to want to stay in Times Square. Whether it’s a leisure guest or a business guest, it rarely happens. So, we think they’re all distinct sub-markets. And we don’t think they at all bastardize each other.”

In New York, the five different neighborhoods that will have a Moxy Hotel are Times Square, Chelsea (opening October 2018), the East Village, the Lower East Side, and the Financial District (opening in July 2018, but is not being developed by Lightstone).

Thanks to space constraints and the high cost of development in New York, the city is increasingly becoming a popular destination for the micro-hotel concept. BD Hotels also plans to have a total of four Pod-branded hotels in New York over the next few years. And just last year, Ian Schrager opened his new Public Hotel in the Lower East Side with plans to open more throughout the city.

“Consumers are beginning to acclimate themselves to the fact that if they want an affordable product, they’re going to have to sacrifice something, and if you can give them an overall experience which they enjoy, then the size of the room — particularly in an urban environment — is something that they’re willing to sacrifice,” Hochberg said.

He said that customer response to the first of Lightstone’s many Moxy Hotels has been “overwhelmingly positive” and that the performance of the hotel in just five months “has exceeded our underwriting.”

“Today’s guest needs are rapidly evolving, and I think the industry has been playing catch up,” Hochberg said. “I think it’s people like us and similar companies that are listening to the guest, not just in terms of affordability but also in luxury, are really creating experiences which resonate more with guests, and responding to how the guest needs are really changing.”

The Evolving Relationship Between Hotel Owner and Hotel Brand

As hotel companies like Marriott and its peers pursue asset-light business models in which they act primarily as brand companies, it’s imperative for them to ensure that the hotel owners and franchisees they work with are kept happy.

“Marriott has always listened to its owners,” Hochberg noted. For example, Marriott also recently used owner feedback to reposition two of its other select-service brands that it inherited from the Starwood deal, Aloft and Element.

For the most part, the hotel brands’ efforts to scale up and lower costs for owners — especially in the form of commissions paid to online travel agencies and third-party meeting planners — has been appreciated by developers and owners like Hochberg.

But that scale, he noted, can also be a “double-edged sword” when hotel companies like Marriott have up to 30 different brands. Owners like Lightstone aren’t just competing with the other select-service hotel brands from Hilton and others; they also have to compete with brands from within the Marriott family too.

In New York City, Marriott has at least 39 other select-service hotels that directly compete with Lightstone’s Moxy properties: one AC Hotel, one other soon-to-open Moxy hotel, 12 Fairfield Inn & Suites, eight Courtyard by Marriotts; seven Four Points by Sheratons; five Alofts; and one Element hotel.

For owners like Hochberg, the proliferation of brands, coupled with rising costs of labor, are their “biggest challenges today.”

As an owner, when deciding whether to open an independent hotel or go with a brand, he weighs distribution channels, loyalty programs, and brand identity very heavily. “What you’re looking for is a brand that it easy to understand, to communicate, and delivers a distinct experience, whether it be in the product or the service, to the customer, that makes it unique,” Hochberg said.

He added that, despite the challenges facing hotel owners today, “there are great opportunities for an owner to make money” in the hotel business.

“We’re sensitive to overbuilding. We’re sensitive to the proliferation of new brands. And those are things that we need to be careful about in making decisions,” he said. “But I still think there are great opportunities for developers and owners.”

Photo Credit: The developer behind the Moxy Times Square in New York City plans to open seven other Moxy hotels throughout the U.S. over the next few years. Moxy Times Square

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April 24, 2018 at 07:06AM

Professional Retreats Show Black Travel Movement Gets Down to Business

Professional Retreats Show Black Travel Movement Gets Down to Business

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In the summer of 2017, high in the mountains outside of Los Angeles, a group of adults gathered by a campfire, brandishing sticks with marshmallows on the ends. Above was a night sky full of constellations. Imagine a fireside discussion that could easily wander from an afternoon open-air dance class to the leadership seminar and the struggles that black professionals face at work in America. This relaxed setting was the first annual session of Encounter Camp.

The gathering represents a new arm of the black travel movement, which combats the stereotype that black people don’t travel, when indeed the sector comprises a $48 billion market, according to Mandala Research.

It’s not hard to find a leisure travel experience geared toward black Americans, but Encounter Camp goes deeper, focusing on black professionals. Encounter Camp is filling a void in the market by offering outings about 90 minutes from Los Angeles at Pali Retreat. Existing professional retreat companies aren’t effectively marketing to black professionals, said Kareem Taylor, who is the camp’s co-founder and managing director.

Taylor’s career has spanned voiceover acting, public speaking, event management, and business development. The idea for Encounter Camp came to Taylor after having been the only black person at a retreat in the past.

“There were so many opportunities for other races to go on these kinds of experiences, and it wasn’t just like a conference, and it also wasn’t just let’s go to Miami and have a great time,” said Taylor. Encounter Camp imagines attendees will meet their next business partner or come up with the next big project idea without being in a grilling, boot camp-like environment.

Surveys bear out that Taylor may be onto something with Encounter Camp. Among black millennial travelers, 72 percent are willing to pay more to book with a brand that understands their racial identity, according to a 2017 study by DigitasLBi. In addition, 80 percent are more likely to plan a trip somewhere that will be accepting of that identity.

Traveling for the purposes of a convention, conference, or seminar is actually 5 percent more likely among black Americans compared to other races, according to the U.S. Travel Association’s 2017 Domestic Travel Report.

Encounter Camp doesn’t push an explicit racial agenda. Session leaders don’t initiate forums on workplace discrimination or racial inequality, but these topics may arise organically. “It’s definitely a place to get away from all that,” said Taylor about confronting racism at work. “We’re not pushing that particular conversation. But of course around the campfire, we can talk about anything you want to talk about.”

One 2017 participant, Nicholette Fortune of Los Angeles, attended Encounter Camp while transitioning from working in computer security to graphic design and other more creative pursuits. Fortune had never been to a retreat before, much less one tailored for black professionals. She follows some black travel movement groups, but isn’t an active participant.

“It’s a nice break from the typical narrative,” said Fortune of a more low-key environment that doesn’t focus on racism in the workplace. Among her favorite experiences were being under the stars and taking an archery class. “I thought it was a cool concept,” she said.

Other activities include dance classes, yoga, zip lining, and sessions with guest speakers on productivity, side hustles, brand development, and entrepreneurship. The $389 experience lasts two nights and three days, including meals and cabin accommodations. Corporate partners include health-conscious brands like KIND.

Taylor said Travel Noire and Nomadness Travel Tribe are among his competitors, though these two leading organizations within the black travel movement focus on leisure trips and aren’t really dealing in career development. In addition, Taylor said the magic of a leisure travel experience can wear off quickly, sometimes leaving the traveler depressed to come home, whereas the restorative qualities of a professional retreat will last.

The camp’s attendees are 90 percent black women, according to Taylor, which reflects the larger female-dominated black travel movement. In fact, Nomadness membership is approaching 90 percent black female as well. Taylor started out targeting millennials, much like the larger movement, but ended up attracting professionals in their 40s and 50s as well. He’d like to get more black men interested in the program, but is receiving some skepticism from this group.

Little hesitation came from 2017 attendee Daryl Simpson of Los Angeles, an information technology executive at 20th Century Fox who’s been in IT for 25 years. Simpson’s motivation for joining the retreat came largely from a desire to give back to his professional community, and he plans to attend again in June.

“I see myself in a supporting role … A lot of people supported me to get me to where I am, so I just try to give back,” said Simpson. He also cited s’mores around the campfire in the wilderness as a highlight. “For us city folk, that was pretty cool,” he said. This ties into a sub-sector of black travel devoted to fighting the stereotype that black people don’t camp, hike, or generally spend time outdoors, giving rise to organizations like Outdoor Afro.

Encounter Camp attendees span a variety of sectors, including science, tech, advertising, special education, social work, and the arts, not to mention unemployed people seeking direction.

“A lot of people who come to our events are at milestones in their lives … The only reason I even put a retreat in my consideration box was because I had gotten laid off,” said Taylor of overcoming his own life challenges.

On the value of professional retreats and joining such a community, Taylor said: “This is how people do it. You don’t have to be in your house all alone at night pulling your hair out.”

Photo Credit: A dance class at Encounter Camp is one of the retreat’s available sessions for black professionals seeking direction in their careers. Francise Fernandez / Encounter Camp

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April 24, 2018 at 06:02AM

News: ATM 2018: Finnish tourist authority debuts at industry leading event

News: ATM 2018: Finnish tourist authority debuts at industry leading event

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The Finnish tourist authority, Visit Finland, has highlighted an increase in global and UAE visitor numbers as the government entity makes its debut on the exhibition floor at Arabian Travel Market.

Debuting at the show for the first time with a new marketing campaign aimed at Middle East tourists, the organisation hopes its efforts will contribute to a record year for tourism numbers.

Speaking at a press conference during Arabian Travel Market, Visit Finland representative, Teemu Ahola commented: “Last year was another excellent year for the Finnish tourism industry with nearly 22 million visitors, growth of seven per cent over the 2016 figures when tourists topped 20.3 million.

“However, we have already seen an increase in 2018 visitors of 3.1 per cent compared to this time last year, so we are confident our tourism numbers, and receipts, will eclipse the successes of 2017.”

The increase in UAE visitors, explained Ahola, is in part due to an increase in direct flights to the Finnish capital, Helsinki.

Finnair, the national carrier of Finland has committed to repeating its Dubai to Helsinki route later this year, flying between October 2018 and March 2019, while Turkish Airlines has a route between the UAE and Finland via Istanbul.

flydubai is also set to launch a new route which will increase capacity still further during the winter months.

Finland has long been a popular destination within the European market, however Visit Finland is now keen to explore other markets and have identified the Middle East where the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia, already make up the bulk of GCC visitors.

“After a positive response from ATM last year, where we took the opportunity to garner a better understanding of the region and research the potential outbound markets, we have returned with a dedicated marketing campaign for the Middle East and we’re showcasing some of the leading hotels, resorts and DMCs Finland has to offer in a bid to pique the interest of the market even further,” added Ahola.

Known as the home of a thousand lakes, Finland is renowned for its vast green forests, long coastline, and one of the world’s largest archipelagos.

During the summer months golf, food foraging, canoeing and sailing are very popular, when the season changes to autumn, hiking, climbing and wildlife watching become part of the draw.

In winter, husky and reindeer sleigh rides, snowmobile safaris, ice driving experiences, the Northern Lights, ice-breaker cruises and of course, meeting Santa Claus are always popular attractions for tourists every year.

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April 24, 2018 at 05:49AM

Marriott and Starwood Pull Off a Merged Loyalty Program That Makes Everyone Happy

Marriott and Starwood Pull Off a Merged Loyalty Program That Makes Everyone Happy

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There’s a lot riding on the merged loyalty program that Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest are cooking up for later this year. Many Starwood loyalists were ready to jump ship as soon as word came that their credit card or point transfer partners were disappearing. And everyone on both sides was concerned about the value or utility of points dropping.

Amazingly, Marriott seems to have put together a combined program that doesn’t send anyone running for the hills. Announced this week and covered in depth by Skift’s Deanna Ting, the new program gives legacy brand autonomy to SPG and Rewards customers while pooling searchable hotels and point balances into one, combined pot. Critically, all of the perks on both sides of the table (including point transfer partners and credit card deals) have also been kept in place for the diehard loyalists. Marriott even took it a step further and relaunched its experiences portal.

This news is a big deal for both consumers and Marriott’s competitive stance in the industry. By keeping most facets of the programs in place, Marriott can hold on to valuable business travelers from both sides of the merger while competing chains like Hyatt and Hilton can look forward to fewer defections. Is it possible that the other shoe will never drop?

For feedback or news tips, reach out via email at gm@skift.com or tweet me @grantkmartin.

— Grant Martin, Business of Loyalty Editor

Skift Stories and More Expert Insight

High-End Hoteliers Are Taking Loyalty More Seriously: Luxury hotel brands have lagged behind their cheaper siblings when it comes to loyalty programs. In the past, they might not have needed to think about such schemes but with data becoming more and more valuable, companies can no longer afford to ignore them.

United Moving Ahead With Making Business Class More Sleep-Friendly: United Airlines is making progress adding its new business class cabins to wide-body jets, and plans to introduce a plane with its new Polaris seats every 10 days until it completes cabin retrofits at the end of 2020, executives said last Wednesday.

How a Restored Raffles Hotel Will Target a New Generation of Luxury Travelers: There are only a handful of hotels that have been international icons for more than a century. Raffles Singapore certainly belongs on the list.

Why News of Allegiant Air’s Safety Record Didn’t Surprise Airline Insiders: The information presented two Sundays ago on 60 Minutes might be new to most travelers, but not to airline industry insiders. The question now: Is Allegiant getting better? We think the answer is yes.

Risking Jail Time for a Better Business Travel Experience: There are many scandals that have emerged across the U.S. government recently, but the saga of Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is notable for his attempts to leverage his position into a better business travel experience.

Homeland Security Facial Passenger Scans for U.S. Airports May Go Nationwide: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has processed travelers with facial recognition scans at many U.S. airports, part of pilot programs during the past year that the government now believes it’s ready to roll out nationwide.

An Aviation Schmooze Fest Reveals a Passenger’s Wish List for Jet Travel: Yes, there’s some innovation on display at the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. But mostly, the three-day show is about networking and building relationships.

Spirit Airlines Considers Smaller Jets With an Eye Toward Expansion: Spirit Airlines is considering adding smaller planes to its fleet of Airbus SE jets as the carrier looks for ways to expand its service.

WestJet Has a Lot Riding on the Launch of Its New Low-Cost Airline: WestJet Airlines’ new boss, working to reverse this year’s stock swoon, says he has a lot riding on the carrier’s new discount unit and a fleet expansion with Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliners.

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April 24, 2018 at 05:33AM

News: ATM 2018: Hyperloop potential examined in Dubai

News: ATM 2018: Hyperloop potential examined in Dubai

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Innovative Hyperloop connections could reduce travel times between Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport by around 34 minutes at some stage in the future, according to expert panellists speaking on Arabian Travel Market’s Global Stage.

Providing a lightening-speed Hyperloop transit system would allow airport passengers to travel between both airports in as little as six to seven minutes – a shorter transit time than travelling between terminals at Dubai International Airport.

The future of Hyperloop and travel infrastructure in the UAE and wider GCC was discussed at Arabian Travel Market, taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre, during a seminar session entitled ‘Future Travel Experiences’.

“Looking to the future, having both Dubai International Airport and Al Maktoum International Airport as key stations on the hyperloop system is essential.

“At present, Emirates only operates from Dubai International Airport but the implementation of a hyperloop system between both airports could allow the airline to effectively and efficiently work from both hubs,” Michael Ibbitson, executive vice president, Dubai Airports, said.

Virgin Hyperloop One, a futuristic transportation concept through which pods, propelled by magnets and solar, will move passengers and cargo at speeds of 1,200kph, is the most prominent tourism infrastructure development in the UAE at present.

Backed by Dubai-based DP World, Hyperloop One has the potential to transport approximately 3,400 people an hour, 128,000 people a day and 24 million people a year.

In November 2016, Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority announced plans to evaluate a hyperloop connection between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, which could reduce travel times between the two emirates by 78 minutes.

Hyperloop One isn’t the only concept to boost tourism infrastructure in the region, the development of key international airports in Saudi Arabia and airport expansion in the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait as well as cruise terminal expansions, improved domestic inter-city road and rail work and the growth of low-cost airlines will keep the GCC at the forefront of tourism infrastructure and innovation.

GCC capital investments in tourism infrastructure are expected to reach US$56 billion by 2022, with the UAE ranked the most competitive in the region, driven by the development of multiple revolutionary transport projects, according to Arabian Travel Market’s research partner, Colliers International.

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April 24, 2018 at 05:33AM

News: Bvlgari Hotel Tokyo signed for 2022 opening

News: Bvlgari Hotel Tokyo signed for 2022 opening

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Mitsui Fudosan has signed an agreement with Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts to open Japan’s first Bvlgari Hotel in the large-scale, mixed-use development planned for the Tokyo Station area.

Bvlgari Hotel Tokyo is scheduled to open at the end of 2022.

Bvlgari Hotel Tokyo will occupy the top seven floors, 39th-45th, of an ultra-skyscraper planned for construction in the Yaesu 2-Chome North District.

The hotel will be located in a very central and convenient area at a walking distance to some of the best attractions in town such as the Imperial Palace and the vibrant shopping areas of both Nihombashi and Ginza.

Its proximity to the Tokyo Station and the financial districts of Nihombashi and Marunouchi makes it an ideal destination for business as well.

In addition to the Bvlgari hotel, the tower will also be a high grade mixed-use with offices and retails.

The hotel will offer 98 guest rooms in a variety of configurations, mainly twin and double rooms, as well as luxury suites and an extraordinary Bvlgari Suite.

The 1,500 sqm Bvlgari Spa, offering the ultimate wellbeing experience, immersing and innovative treatments, therapies and grooming for both men and women, and including a state-of-the-art fitness centre and 25-metre indoor pool, will add a further luxurious touch to the guests experience.

Bvlgari Hotels and Resorts is a collection of luxury hotels, and currently includes properties in Milan, London, Bali, Beijing and Dubai.

New openings are planned in 2018 in Shanghai and in 2020 in Moscow and Paris.

Bvlgari Hotel Tokyo will be the ninth property and the first to open in Japan.

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April 24, 2018 at 05:29AM

News: American Express Global Business Travel signs Lyft partnership

News: American Express Global Business Travel signs Lyft partnership

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American Express Global Business Travel and Lyft, the fastest growing rideshare company in the US, have announced a first-of-its-kind partnership.

The deal fully integrates Lyft’s platform, data and insights for GBT client travel programmes.

Together, they will make it easier for business travellers to use Lyft for ground transportation, through a fully integrated travel programme and/or booking system.

The collaboration creates an innovative offering for Amex clients, making it easier for travellers to book ground transportation, and for corporations to measure the benefits of reporting, cost savings and duty of care.

“We are thrilled to pioneer a truly integrated and differentiated ridesharing programme for GBT clients with a partner like Lyft that is driving innovation in ground transportation,” said Michael Qualantone, executive vice president of global supplier relations for American Express Global Business Travel.

“This integration is unique from previous reseller models in the ridesharing space in that it goes beyond existing agreements and truly integrates Lyft ridesharing content into our client’s travel policies as a compliant option.

“This is the first in a series of key milestones for our overall ground strategy that will be announced in 2018.”

Benefits of the Lyft partnership integration for GBT clients include possible cost savings, data visibility, and risk management.

“Partnering with American Express GBT to introduce this unique fully integrated ridesharing programme for business travellers is an integral next step in our efforts to streamline the corporate travel experience – ultimately increasing cost savings, visibility, and efficiencies,” said David Baga, chief business officer, Lyft.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with the leading global corporate travel management company to provide a seamless solution for a wide range of corporate travel needs, through innovative insights and booking tools that have never before been offered in this industry.”

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April 24, 2018 at 05:29AM

News: TripAdvisor acquires Bokun to grow experiences offering

News: TripAdvisor acquires Bokun to grow experiences offering

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TripAdvisor acquires Bokun to grow experiences offering

TripAdvisor has acquired Bokun, a leading provider of business management technology for the tours, attractions and experiences industry. 

With the acquisition, TripAdvisor expands its offering, now providing suppliers with technical solutions in addition to the sector’s largest distribution channel.

“As the industry leader, our opportunity in this space is enormous. 

“We’re committed to taking the experiences sector far beyond its current online penetration of just 20 per cent, and Bokun will play a critical role in this mission,” commented Dermot Halpin, president, TripAdvisor Experiences and Rentals.

Halpin continued: “This marks a new phase for our business: we’re expanding beyond our core offering as the industry’s largest distribution channel. 

“This product is part of a very bright future for the industry – one that eliminates fragmentation, significantly grows and simplifies distribution for suppliers, and dramatically improves the shopping experience for travellers.”

Based in Iceland, Bokun is a business management software created specifically for tours, attractions and experiences suppliers: it acts as a booking engine, an inventory channel manager, a price management tool, and more. 

Founded in 2012, Bokun grew quickly to help Icelandic suppliers capitalise on the country’s booming tourism industry.

Bokun’s customer base is global, ranging from local suppliers to Fortune 500 companies.

It currently offers subscriptions for €100 per month, versus the industry standard of five-to-six per cent taken on online bookings.

To serve its goal of bringing the entire experiences category online, TripAdvisor will make its software product even more accessible with a near-term move to a fraction of a percent per booking, far under the industry standard.

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April 24, 2018 at 05:19AM