Delta Air Lines will become the first airline to offer free WhatsApp messaging, enabling its customers to stay fully connected with friends whether on the ground or in the air.

Access to Facebook Messenger and iMessage will also be available when the service launches on October 1st.

Tim Mapes, Delta chief marketing officer, said: “Even the most seasoned travellers can find themselves mid-air and caught out by a last-minute cancellation or arrangement.

“Rather than having to count down the hours until landing, Delta customers can continue socialising or working with the tap of a smartphone and enjoy peace of mind at every stage of the flight.”



Free messaging will be available on all Gogo-enabled Delta flights, which includes all aircraft with two or more cabins, and will be accessible through Delta’s Wi-Fi portal page, which can be accessed in-flight by clicking here.

This latest enhancement is part of Delta’s multi-billion dollar investment in the customer experience; in addition to mobile messaging, Delta continues to expand high-speed Wi-Fi, seat-back entertainment screens and free entertainment to give travellers more choice and flexibility in how to spend their time from take-off to touchdown.

Trainline has launched the UK’s first ever train ticket price predictor.

Available in the Trainline app from today, Price Prediction allows train travellers to look into the future and see when advance ticket prices are set to increase over time.

Trainline customers currently save an average of 44 per cent on advance fares, however billions of price prediction data points show that if customers bought their ticket on the day they first searched for their journey, they would save an average of 49 per cent.

Trainline argues they could save more by booking even earlier.

Price Prediction uses billions of data points to predict when advance train tickets are set to increase in price over time, helping travellers to budget for their next trip more effectively.



The new tool gives customers an at-a-glance snapshot of all the opportunities to save money when buying advance tickets in the months and days leading up to travel.

Advance rail ticket pricing is complex, and customers can often miss opportunities to save.

Most train companies release advance tickets around 12 weeks before the day of travel, and once available to buy, they almost always increase in price as the day of travel approaches, so delaying purchase can be costly.

Price Prediction gives complete transparency on the price of advance tickets, helping customers choose the best price for their journey.

Jon Moore, chief product officer at Trainline, said: “Our data scientists have used historical pricing trends from billions of customer journey searches to predict when the price of an advance ticket will expire.

“We now share this information in our app to allow our customers to get the best price possible for their journey.

“We’re introducing more advanced machine learning every day so naturally our predictions will get increasingly accurate.

“Our mission is to make train travel as simple as possible and price prediction is the first in a long line of predictive features we have planned to help customers save time and money.”

The new tool is the latest in a series of smart features for travellers in the Trainline App and follows the launch of BusyBot which uses crowdsourced data to identify the quietest parts of the train and help customers find a seat.

Mobile tickets help customers save time queuing to collect at the station and real-time travel information including platform numbers and journey/delay information allows travellers to be in complete control of their journey, on-the go.

Saturday, 19 August 2017 00:00

Digital Keys roll out at The Waldorf Hilton

Guests to The Waldorf Hilton will be able to turn their phone into a room key later this month.

The Digital Key will provide Hilton Honors members with more choice and control over their travel experience.

After having their Digital Key enabled at front desk, guests will then be able to access their room, as well as any other area of the hotel that requires guest access, directly via the Hilton Honors app on their smartphone.

The mobile-enabled room key technology follows the rollout of digital check-in and room selection - still the industry’s first-and-only tool that lets guests select the exact room based on the hotel layout and its outside surroundings.

Digital Key enables Hilton Honors members to simply and securely open the door of their room at the touch of a button available through the award-winning Hilton Honors app.



“We previously invested $550 million in global technology infrastructure to lay the foundations which have enabled us to bring to market, at scale, the digital tools we have today,” said Geraldine Calpin, chief marketing officer, Hilton.

“We know that our guests are looking for more choice and control over their entire travel journey and through digital tools such as Digital Key and digital check-in with room selection, we are giving guests the ability to personalise their stay at every stage, wherever they are in the world.”

Activated the day before arrival, Hilton Honors members who book directly with Hilton can select their desired room on their smartphone using digital check-in and will be asked if they’d like a Digital Key during their stay.

On the day of arrival and once their room is ready, they will receive a notification via the app and will need to pass by the front desk to get their Digital Key enabled before heading to their room.

When the guest approaches their hotel room, they can simply press the virtual “unlock” button on the app to unlock the door.

Guy Hilton, general manager, The Waldorf Hilton, added: “Hilton’s strategic direction is about providing a better experience for guests.

“The Digital Key is designed to complement our team members’ ability to provide unforgettable service and hospitality; whether that’s in person or now digitally.

“Every guest will have their own preference and it’s certainly not a case of moving away from face-to-face interaction, which is still very important.

“It’s about evolving and bringing a physical experience to the digital world. We’re creating a more seamless process for our guests; one that is convenient and secure.”

The UK launch follows a successful rollout of Digital Key in the US and Canada, enabling guests to unlock doors at 1,700 hotels across the world.

Since this technology launched, guests have opened more than 11 million doors and the Hilton Honors App has been downloaded once every eight seconds.

Air France is testing an immersive entertainment system with virtual reality headsets that allow passengers to enjoy 3D and 2D programmes during flights.

The system has been tested on board return Paris-Charles de Gaulle-St. Martin flights.

Customers travelling in Business class on board the A340 operating this route can try this new form of in-flight entertainment for themselves.

Four headsets are offered on board with a selection of some forty films and series.

Air France is conducting the trial run in partnership with the start-up SkyLights.

At the end of the test period, Air France has said that the new system may be rolled out to other flights.

All 298 rooms are equipped with complimentary Handy Phone service, ensuring 24-hour connectivity and convenience, as well providing free international calls to selected countries (including the United States) and unlimited calls in the UK.

Guests can also enjoy unlimited internet access with 3G data; with the Handy Phone also offering social media networking, destination-specific content, exclusive hotel offers and promotions, comprehensive city guides and recommended shops, bars, restaurants and places to visit.

Hotels can also provide unique services that answers travellers needs and wants.

Benefits for the hotel include call-to-action features, in-depth guest analytics, seamless integration with PMS networks and an integrated TripAdvisor guest feedback system.

All designed to elevate the guest experience and unlock unexplored opportunities for the intrepid hotelier.



Guy Hilton, general manager, The Waldorf Hilton said: “Handy Phones are the ideal companion for the modern traveller.

“At the Waldorf Hilton, we are always looking at ways of going beyond providing the best service possible for our guests.

“Now they can reserve a trip, book theatre tickets and discover more of the city from the comfort of their room or while they are out and about outside of the hotel.

“Without doubt it helps us to enhance the guest experience.

Handy (which can be used outside of the hotel) also comes equipped with fully adjustable language selection, allowing hotel guests to enjoy the full breadth of the phone’s capabilities regardless of their linguistic preferences.

trivago has reported that total revenue increased to €298.3 million in the second quarter of 2017 and €565.9 million in the six months ended June 30th, 2017.

Both figures represent a 67 per cent increase year-over-year, with increases were driven by a rise in advertising spend in both periods.

Referral revenue in the second quarter of 2017 increased significantly to €115.8 million, €120.6 million and €58.6 million, in Americas, developed Europe and rest of world, respectively, or 67, 45, and 137 per cent, respectively, as compared to the same period in 2016.

This increase was due to strong investment in advertising spend and included continued positive revenue effects from the introduction of our relevance assessment, which assesses the quality of users’ experience after leaving trivago’s website.

Strong referral revenue growth in all segments in the second quarter of 2017 was further positively impacted by reinvestment of profits into advertising spend, particularly in the developed Europe segment.

These drivers also led to solid growth in the six months ended June 30th, 2017, with referral revenue increasing 72, 44 and 134 per cent year-over-year in Americas, developed Europe and the rest of the world, respectively.

The growth in the rest of the world was mainly driven by increased marketing activities in Japan, India and Russia.

Axel Hefer, chief financial officer at trivago, said: “Our focus is on growth and long-term value creation when managing our business.

“In taking this direction, we have seen strong performance in quarter two of 2017 as our revenue has increased by 67 per cent year-over-year and our adjusted EBITDA by 39 per cent.”

Travel tech giant Sabre is to lay off more than 900 workers, amounting to more than nine per cent of its total global workforce.

The news comes following a $6.5 million second-quarter loss at the company.

In a statement, the Texas-based company said it hoped the downsizing would result in $110 million in savings by next year.

The statement added: “Today, Sabre announced an initiative to streamline and focus the business through reorganising certain functions, reducing layers of management, and lowering costs to enable a more nimble, faster moving and focused organisation.

“Over the last several months, we have had an open and ongoing conversation with our customers, employees and investors about our need to prioritise our product offerings and investment strategies.

“It will enable Sabre to meet targets for 2017.”

Sabre posted a revenue jump of 6.6 per cent to $900 million for quarter two of 2017, ahead of analyst forecasts.

trivago has made over five billion room rates visible to hoteliers around the world.

With its new Rate Insights feature, trivago grants hoteliers access to an unbiased and comprehensive set of data on traveller demand and competitor prices, enabling them to compare room rates from over 250 booking sites as well as official hotel websites on a single dashboard.

Through Rate Insights, which is part of the complete metasearch marketing solution trivago Hotel Manager PRO, trivago is empowering hoteliers to establish competitive pricing strategies.

trivago Business Intelligence data reveals that independent hotels visible on trivago have on average 8,000 rates online a year.

Johannes Thomas, chief revenue officer at trivago, said: “We understood how difficult it is for hoteliers to find, monitor, and analyse competitor room rates across hundreds of booking sites.

“We were quick to realise that the price comparison data we provide to travellers is equally valuable for hoteliers.

“Therefore, we created a rate shopper that gives hoteliers easy and actionable access to this data, as well as data on traveller search volume that reveals fluctuations in demand.



“No other rate shopper has this combination of data in this amount and with this granularity.”

Instead of gathering data from just a few booking sites, Rate Insights aggregates rates from over 250 websites and makes it easy for hoteliers to compare them by room type and other variables.

It also enables hoteliers to respond quickly to changes in the market and anticipate what upcoming local events can be leveraged to boost RevPAR.

Hoteliers overcome the time-consuming challenge of monitoring the market, their competitors’ prices, and their own.

They know when and by how much to adjust their direct rates and all those listed with OTA partners to stay competitive online.

Utilising data is becoming more and more crucial in making decisions that will lay the foundation for future success.

By displaying its rate and traveller demand data on a single dashboard with simple analytics, trivago has made it easier for hoteliers to access, understand, and act on data to increase their competitiveness online.

Qantas has launched Qantas Concierge, a Facebook Messenger bot that gives customers in the United Kingdom personalised travel inspiration.

Following a successful roll-out in Australia in February, the launch of the bot in the UK forms part of Qantas’ strategy to give customers faster responses and more relevant information through easily accessible channels.

Kristin Carlos, Qantas head of digital and entertainment said Qantas Concierge is an evolution of the airlines customer communications, boosting the airline’s presence on a hugely popular social media platform while offering immediate travel solutions.

“We recognise that different people want to communicate with us in different ways.

“With around 35 million people on Facebook in the United Kingdom, growing our presence with the social networking service makes sense,” Carlos said.



Through Qantas Concierge, customers can access sale information and destination inspiration in line with their interests, whether that be beach destinations or amazing Airbnbs around the world.

Learning from customer interactions and conversations, Qantas’ new Artificial Intelligence backed service will become more user friendly and effective over time, making it an increasingly powerful customer service tool for the airline. 

Since launching, more than 150,000 users have interacted with the bot within Facebook Messenger.

Throughout 2017 Qantas plans to grow the chat bots capability to offer a full suite of concierge services including operational notifications such as itineraries, flight and gate change updates and boarding passes.

Qantas Concierge will ultimately become another support channel for customers complementing the airlines suite of call centres and social media response teams.

Paul McCrory, group industry director at Facebook Australia & New Zealand, who has led the bot development with Qantas, said: “Facebook’s partners are a community of best-in-class companies who are looking for innovative means to talk to their customers and new audiences.

“Qantas is always exploring new ways to evolve its customer communication, we look forward to collaborating with them on exciting new projects and pioneering new ground in this space.”

Saturday, 08 July 2017 00:00

Wizz Air launches new mobile app

Wizz Air has launched a new mobile application, available to Android and iOS users.

Global trends show that the role of mobile communication is on the increase.

In 2016 around 49 per cent of e-commerce transactions were made on a smartphone, and this is expected to increase to more than 80 per cent by 2020.

Wizz Air has seen this growth for itself: last year the number of active mobile Wizz app users increased from 2.6 million to 4.1 million.

As an airline focused on delivering the best possible customer experience, Wizz Air has launched this brand new app to provide a seamless mobile experience for its passengers, who are constantly on the go and need easy and fast access to their booking details.



The new app features a brand new timeline making it even easier to track the important milestones of a journey from the moment of booking to the arrival of the flight.

The app also features a smoother booking experience and the option to generate an in-app boarding card, available to view both on and offline.

Harry Drok, head of e-commerce at Wizz Air, said: “We’ve seen that the number of smartphone users has been significantly growing recently, that’s why I am delighted to launch this new mobile application.

“Thanks to its user-friendly new features, including the in-app boarding card and the new timeline - the app will serve as a travel companion for our passengers and guide them through the whole Wizz journey from the moment they book their flight until they get home.”

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