Κυριακή, 31 Ιανουαρίου 2016

HSMAI Hosts Digital Marketing Strategy Conference

The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association (HSMAI) presents the 2016 HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference on February 17, at the New York Marriott Marquis. The industry’s premier digital marketing event convenes key stakeholders to address the most critical trends affecting digital marketing in hotels today. With powerful educational and networking opportunities, this is the can’t-miss conference of the year for learning and engagement. HSMAI’s 2016 Digital Marketing Strategy Conference is held the day after the HSMAI Adrian Awards Gala.

“With changing consumer channels, the evolving expectation of personalization, and the explosion of digital sources of information, hotel marketing leaders are facing unprecedented pressures today,” said Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, president and CEO, HSMAI. “This conference is where you can connect with the right people and engage in meaningful, thought-provoking conversations about the most important strategic issues facing hotel marketers today.”

With the right strategies, digital marketing also presents an unprecedented opportunity for this industry. This conference will provide practical information and insights that you can use to navigate the crossroads of personalization, attribution, and distribution to drive revenue and profit.

An overview of presentations include:

  • Navigating the Era of Disruption
    For hoteliers, this means accepting that control is an old-fashioned approach and that value will be determined by insight and flexibility.
  • Lessons Learned & Looking Forward: Insights from HSMAI Adrian Award WinnersConference attendees will hear first-hand the lessons learned from Adrian Award Platinum winners on a variety of digital initiatives.
  •  2020 Lightening Round: Peer-to-Peer Case Studies and Insights
    Engage with subject-matter experts and your peers to understand what digital marketing strategies are working, and in what ways, during this series of short presentations.
  • View from the Top
    This panel of Chief Marketing Officers and Chief Digital Officers will bring their diverse perspectives to bear on today’s marketing landscape, what the future holds for digital marketing in hotels, and other important issues affecting the practice today.

WESTA Backs ASTA with Membership Agreement

The Western Association of Travel Agencies (WESTA), recognizing what the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) does for its members and the agency community as a whole, has chosen to subsidize membership in ASTA for WESTA members.

The member-owned marketing cooperative, which has approximately 150 agency members mainly in California, Oregon and Washington, is making it possible for a WESTA agency member to belong to ASTA for $199 per year if their annual sales are under $5 million or $399 per year if their annual sales are between $5 million and $10 million.

“There is no better time to bring more WESTA members into the ASTA family and get their profiles seen by more consumers in our Membership Directory,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA President and CEO. “We have several initiatives already in the works in 2016 to market the value of travel agents to the traveling public. We also are heading West in September for our Global Convention in Reno Tahoe. We hope to meet many new WESTA members there.”

WESTA Chief Operating Officer Mike Estill said, “For what works out to less than $17 a month, ASTA member agencies get a huge return on a very modest investment. They get a strong partner watching their backs in both DC and their state capital, participation in a high-profile consumer outreach program promoting retail agencies and a direct channel to insider industry knowledge that would be difficult to find elsewhere at any price. That might be the best seventeen bucks you ever spent on your agency.”

In addition to consumer awareness initiatives, WESTA’s support will broaden ASTA’s reach on the West Coast and build on successful advocacy campaigns such as one last year that pushed the Washington legislature to keep in place a special tax rate for travel agent commission income. ASTA and WESTA members played a critical role in opposing a proposal that would have cost Washington travel agencies and tour operators more than $14 million over two years, including testifying at hearings and making their case through phone calls, face-to-face meetings and in more than 200 advocacy messages sent to state policymakers through ASTA’s online grassroots site. “Even though we were successful in 2015, we must remain vigilant in protecting our members’ hard-earned paychecks from hungry state coffers,” said Kerby.

ASTA began signing membership agreements in early 2014 with those consortia members that wanted to pave the way financially for their members to benefit in ASTA. This has helped ASTA to steadily grow membership, which continues today.

PATA and Routes Asia to explore impact of aviation boom on Asia Pacific tourism

The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and Routes Asia are bringing together industry leaders from Boeing, Amadeus IT Pacific and Digital Jungle to discuss how Asia Pacific tourism will benefit from a thriving aviation industry over the next 20 years.

The annual Routes Asia meeting forum is for airlines, airports, tourism authorities and other travel-related organisations planning new air services. Over 60 airlines including Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines, China Airlines, Hainan Airlines and British Airways have already registered for the 2016 event takes place in Manila on March 6 – 8.

The aviation industry is crucial to the economic development of Asia Pacific. Currently worth around US$500 billion, it is set to expand rapidly over the next twenty years. International Air Transport Association (IATA) figures show that Asia Pacific will have overtaken North America and Europe in terms of passenger numbers by 2030 and that nearly half of all air travel (2.9 billion journeys) will touch the Asia Pacific region by 2034.

Routes Asia will explore how the tourist industry can benefit from Asia Pacific’s aviation growth through the ‘Global Insights Impacting Tourism and Aviation’ panel discussion. News presenter Rico Hizon from BBC World News will chair the debate which will feature high profile speakers from a mix of relevant backgrounds.

Boeing’s Managing Director of Marketing Asia Pacific and India, John Schubert, will talk about how the demand for increased air travel in Asia Pacific will be met, including the need to build 13,460 new aircraft by 2033.

Albert Villadolid, General Manager of Amadeus Philippines, will imagine the world in 2030 when travellers are defined by their behaviour rather than their demographic location, asking how we can create bespoke ‘purchasing experiences’ that cater to an individual’s needs.

Dr Mathew McDougall, CEO of Digital Jungle – an agency in Beijing that markets Western products and services to Chinese consumers – will explain how social media can be used to create data sets for marketing purposes.

Katie Bland, Director of Routes, said: “Aviation’s growth will create many opportunities for tourism and travel professionals seeking new air routes for their destinations. This event is part of our strategic aim to increase their involvement in our forums while sharing the benefits of being involved in the route development process.”

Mario Hardy, CEO of PATA, said: “We have already seen how low cost carriers have greatly impacted travel and tourism within the Asia Pacific region and the continuing growth of aviation will only add to the rapid growth in the region. The insights provided from this session will be valuable for all stakeholders wishing to benefit from this growing trend.”

‘Global Insights Impacting Tourism and Aviation’ will be held at Routes Asia on March 6. Routes Asia is being co-hosted by the Philippine Department of Tourism and the Philippine Department of Transportation & Communications.

Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Related Companies Introduce Hilton West Palm Beach

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The highly anticipated Hilton West Palm Beach opened its doors today to welcome local patrons and visitors alike. Related Companies, Palm Beach County, the City of West Palm Beach and Hilton Worldwide (NYSE: HLT) collaborated to conceptualize and deliver an innovative, contemporary and forward-thinking hotel experience.
With its high-profile position within the gateway to both Palm Beach and downtown West Palm Beach, the new 12-story convention hotel adds unparalleled ambience, service and a farm-to-fork culinary experience that will make it a coveted destination among locals and visitors. Featuring 400 guest rooms and 43 suites, Hilton West Palm Beach was designed by Miami-based architectural firm Nicholas Brosch Wurst Wolfe & Associates and Dallas-based interior design firm Looney and Associates. Design inspiration draws from the peaceful fluidity of the lush Florida oceanside landscape and utilizes natural woods and contrasted neutrals with bright blue, gold and teal hues that reflect the physical characteristics of the Palm Beaches and indigenous artistic flair.
The striking new architectural icon features a double-height grand lobby with views of the hotel's exquisitely landscaped Palm Deck. Accentuated by a zero-entry expansive pool, private cabanas, Restoration Hardware furnishings and a poolside bar and fire pit, the action-packed, three quarter-acre outdoor lanai delivers a relaxed island-style ambience with popular Palm Beach DJ talent Adam Lipson who will curate the sound experience.
"With Related Companies' vision, we have programmed a world-class hotel by celebrating the incredible local talent to foster a true sense of place for the community and represent the South Florida lifestyle," said John L. Parkinson, general manager, Hilton West Palm Beach. "Hilton West Palm Beach is a melting pot of people and this 'unconventional' convention center will be the place to socialize, enjoy astonishing food and attend business meetings for locals, convention goers and guests alike."
A focal point of the unconventional hotel is the strong commitment to fresh, quality food to create unique, top-notch cuisine for hotel guests and locals by an exceptionally talented team of celebrated chefs. Hilton West Palm Beach offers an immersive culinary experience including:   
  • Manor, the hotel's signature farm-to-fork style restaurant serving contemporary American cuisine, is led by celebrated Palm Beach Chef Matthew Byrne, former chef to Tiger Woods and Owner/Executive Chef of the popular West Palm Beach restaurant, Kitchen. Collaborating with Chef Byrne is award winning Executive Chef Miguel Santiago, bringing more than 20 years of experience to the hotel having cooked for presidents and dignitaries during his time in Washington, D.C. Manor is located directly off the lobby and flows onto the poolside terrace.
  • Galley, the hotel's lobby bar with a nautical design theme, will inspire guests to indulge in Prohibition-style handcrafted cocktails and shared tapas, while overlooking the outdoor oasis. Guests can choose from custom wine blends and bourbon as well as on-tap local craft beers from South Florida's fast budding beer scene.
  • For those looking for food on the go, Provisions marketplace provides locally sourced goods such as Rabbit Coffee Roasting Company, freshly prepared bites, cold-pressed juices and gifts from Palm Beach shops and artists.
"We are creating an unforgettable culinary experience using our core principles of sourcing the best local ingredients, keeping dishes simple, full of flavor and delivering outstanding product to our guests in a spectacular environment," said Chef Matthew Byrne.
Hilton West Palm Beach also features a curated art program that embodies the artistic energy of South Florida. Collaborations with artists include Zammy Migdal, who created a wall sculpture with more than 140 hand-forged iron sculptural elements, and life-sized photography by Chris Leidy, grandson of Lilly Pulitzer, who draws inspiration from within the depths of the world's oceans.
Connected to The Palm Beach County Convention Center via an enclosed walkway, Hilton West Palm Beach earns distinction as the only hotel in South Florida to be directly connected to a convention center. The property offers more than 24,000 sq. ft. of meeting space, including the 13,350-sq. ft. Oceana Ballroom and the 5,800-sq. ft. Coral Ballroom as well as two 2,400-sq. ft. expansive lawn spaces for weddings, special events and fitness programming. With an in-house panel of experts to provide programs for team building, including glow-in-the-dark lawn games, scavenger hunts and outdoor boot camp fitness classes, the hotel goes the extra mile to enrich the group experience. Guests also have access to a state-of-the-art fitness center and specialty classes, floatation menu featuring inflatable toys and rafts for relaxing in-pool, oversized chessboard, outdoor fire pit and more.
The new Hilton West Palm beach was the vision of Related Companies, who developed the CityPlace directly across the street. CityPlace is a 72-acre mixed-use development created in public/private partnership with Related Companies and the City of West Palm Beach. It has served as the primary catalyst for billions of investments in the city since it opened in 2000. Hilton guests can enjoy access to more than 60 specialty retail shops, a distinguished collection of restaurants and bars and an open-air plaza with a distinctive water feature with dancing fountains. 
"Today's opening of the Hilton West Palm Beach represents the culmination of nearly 20 years of focus and dedication. With every development we seek to innovate and shift the paradigm and here in West Palm Beach we have reimagined the very definition of a convention center hotel and created a unique destination experience that has exceeded even our own expectations. With best-in-class creative design, top finishes and furnishings, a pool setting that rivals the best resorts, and culinary offerings that will surprise and delight visitors, we are proud to open the Hilton West Palm Beach and welcome our first customers to experience the property," said Stephen M. Ross, Chairman and Founder of Related Companies. "But we could not have done it alone, and we are extremely grateful for the unwavering partnership of the County and the City. Without their support we would not be here today."
"We created a hotel with the kind of originality and distinctive personalized service that will offer an unmatched experience in this market," said Kenneth Himmel, President and CEO of Related Urban, the mixed-use division of Related Companies. "In collaboration with the County, City and Hilton, it's an honor to see our flagship hotel come to fruition at a time when there is tremendous excitement in West Palm Beach."  
Hilton West Palm Beach is located in the heart of the city's cultural triangle anchored by the nearby Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Norton Museum of Art, Clematis Street and Downtown's Art & Entertainment District. All are within a short walk of the hotel, along with Worth Avenue and Palm Beach, which is a short three miles away. 
"We are honored to present Hilton West Palm Beach, which represents our strong collaboration with Related Companies," said Joe Berger, executive vice president and president, Americas, Hilton Worldwide. "The Palm Beaches have a long history of welcoming visitors from around the world and being home to coveted lifestyle brands. Now, we look forward to offering travelers a getaway to this immersive city through exceptional service and amenities for which the Hilton brand is known around the globe."
Hilton West Palm Beach participates in Hilton HHonors®, the only hotel loyalty program that allows members to earn Points & Miles® on the same stay and No Blackout Dates on reward stays. HHonors members always get the lowest price with its Best Price Guarantee, along with HHonors Points, free Wi-Fi, digital check-in and no booking fees only when they book directly through Hilton Hotels & Resorts.
The hotel is located at 600 Okeechobee Boulevard, West Palm Beach, Fla. 33401. Rates start at $199 per night for the hotel's opening week through Friday, February 5, and then move to $259 per night. In addition, guests can book the Leisure Package and stay for two nights, receiving a $50 hotel credit to be used on any charges except the room rate. For more information or to make a reservation, please visit hiltonwestpalmbeach.com or call +1 561 231 6000.

IHG’s 2016 Trends Report challenges brands to create Meaningful Membership

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) launches its 2016 Trends Report: Meaningful Membership: Transforming Membership in The Age of I, at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. The report challenges brands to engage with consumers in a way that builds Membership Communities, a powerful asset for brands in today’s dynamic consumer landscape.

Fuelled by the growth of social media channels, there is increasing demand from consumers to belong to a like-minded community, sharing opinions and insight as they connect around their experience of a brand. In doing so they also want to maintain their individuality, amounting to what is being termed the “The Age of I” – a desire from consumers to maximise both inclusiveness and individuality.

IHG’s 2016 Trends Report highlights how brands can manage this challenge and make membership meaningful for consumers by creating Membership Communities. To do this, brands need to recognise the universal need of the community as well as, through personalisation, what resonates with individual members – their likes and dislikes, what they need and when they need it.

The Report identifies a new set of rules, The Essentials for building Membership Communities, to follow in order to create and build meaningful Membership Communities. These include ensuring brands humanise interaction with their customers. Dialogue is increasingly digital in today’s world, so trust grows when communications with Membership Communities are given a human face. Also important is encouraging members of their loyalty programmes to move up the ‘loyalty ladder’.

Richard Solomons, Chief Executive Officer, IHG, said: “The relationship between consumers and brands requires a new mind-set. In today’s digital age, an organisation’s interaction with the outside world is more than transactional – it needs an emotional engagement to succeed, stay relevant and most importantly, maintain trust.

“For IHG, we believe that understanding this interplay is key to generating value for our guests and our business. Our 2016 Trends Report identifies how to begin to unlock this value by creating Meaningful Membership. It represents our commitment to building and maintaining guest loyalty, which we do through the world’s biggest and fastest growing hotel loyalty programme, IHG® Rewards Club and our portfolio of brands across more than 5,000 hotels worldwide.”

Other key findings in the report include:
§ There is a big difference between “Signing In” and “Signing On”: Signing In is a behaviour, anyone can register or enrol. Signing On creates pride of belonging to the Membership Community. People do not just want to log in. They want to link up. They want a relationship.

§ We live in a world of now: “One-Think Decision-Making” creates Meaningful Membership as people expect to be satisfied in nanoseconds. If brands do not deliver on their promises quickly, perceptions of quality, leadership and trust can be damaged.

§ Belonging is a universal need: Members of Membership Communities want to belong to a group that has a bigger purpose. Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives allow members to connect with important issues.

§ A membership mind-set internally is as crucial: To build a successful Membership Community outside, it is necessary to build meaningful membership inside. A corporate culture which builds a meaningful membership mind-set generates trust in the organisation’s brands. In IHG’s case this is achieved through a strong focus on training and building a service culture – to the benefit of our guests.

The IHG Trends Report series track the global decline of trust in institutions. This insight is based on a series of related studies spanning a four year period and involving nearly 40,000 interviews with travellers across the globe. This year’s report follows the 2013 report on ‘The New Kinship Economy’, which highlighted a transition from brand experiences to brand relationships in the hospitality sector; the 2014 report on ‘Creating Moments of Trust – the key to building successful brand relationships in the Kinship Economy’ which suggested that to win guest loyalty in the future, hotels need to deliver a global, local and personalised experience; and last year’s report on ‘Building Trust Capital: The new business imperative in the Kinship Economy’, which identified the growing importance for companies to build both brand and organisational trust.

The 2016 IHG Trends Report has been compiled in association with IHG’s long-time partner, Arcature, and through using its own research and observations as well as a variety of external, third party sources.

Record Year For Abu Dhabi International Airport

Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) achieved record traffic figures in 2015, with more than 23 million passengers passing through its terminals, according to annual results released today. For the first time in its history the airport crossed the two million passengers a month mark, with its four busiest periods ever in July, August, September and December.

Overall, AUH experienced a 17.2% increase in passenger traffic compared to 2014, with the first quarter alone showing 21.1% growth.

Eng. Ahmad Al Haddabi, Chief Operations Officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “We continue to witness double digit traffic growth at Abu Dhabi International Airport. To cross the two million mark for the first time in our history, for four months of the year, is a testament to the airport’s ability to connect the world.”

“During the first quarter we opened expanded facilities in Terminal 1, part of a broader capacity enhancement program, to ensure that passengers using Abu Dhabi International Airport will always enjoy a world class experience.”

A large proportion of the increase in traffic can be attributed to the strong performance of Etihad Airways, which serves 116 passenger and cargo destinations around the world. The national airline of the UAE carried 17.4 million passengers in 2015, 18.4% more than in 2014. The expansion of its network through Alitalia and Jet Airways contributed to passenger figures to Italy, India and the USA, increasing by double digits.

With these and other new services, the airport saw an additional 271 flights per week to various destinations during the summer.

“Etihad Airways contributed significantly to these traffic figures as more than 74% of the total passengers to and from Abu Dhabi International Airport in 2015 were carried by our national airline,” added Eng. Al Haddabi.

Aircraft movements went up by 11.6% in 2015 in comparison to 2014. Last year there were 172,819 movements compared to 154,821 in 2014.

December was the second busiest month in 2015, recording more than 2.1 million passengers, following August, which saw more than 2.5 million passengers traveling through the UAE capital.

Traffic between Abu Dhabi and the USA surged by 39.4% last year with the launch of several new direct Etihad services. The airline’s introduction of state of the art Airbus A380s on its Abu Dhabi to London Heathrow route helped to deliver a strong increase in passengers to the UK, with 27.5% growth registered in 2015. Other busy routes from AUH included Australia, up 30%, and Germany, up 15%.

The strongest five country destinations in 2015 were: India, the UK, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the USA, which together recorded more than 9 million passengers through AUH last year.

In 2015, Abu Dhabi International Airport handled 827,456 metric tonnes of cargo, up 3.8% from 2014’s figures of 797,069.

AirAsia to add fuel efficient Airbus A320neo to its fleet

In a step that is in line with AirAsia’s commitment towards climate change and taking proactive steps to reduce the carbon footprint, the airline will add fuel efficient four Airbus A320neo aircraft to its fleet, in the second half of this year and 200 more by 2028.

Group Chief Pilot, Technical and Efficiency, Rajesh Gill, said, the A320neo aircraft will deliver fuel savings of up to 20 percent and have the ability to carry two tonnes more, in terms of payload for a given range.

“AirAsia placed orders for four A320neo aircraft earlier, and the first delivery is slated for either June or July of this year,” he said, adding, the engines are still being certified at the moment, by the manufacturer.

The new A320neo aircraft are powered by CFM International’s new LEAP-X engines and will fly all routes operated by the budget airline.

AirAsia will be the first airline globally to use the Airbus A320 Sharklet-equipped aircraft, which reduces carbon emissions caused by wing-tip drag, said Rajesh.

Airbnb shows how business and leisure travel is going mainstream

Airbnb, the leading community driven hospitality company, unveiled some of the top trends that show how mixing business and liesure travel is going mainstream for business travelers in 2016, and highlighting top destinations and travel habits. Key findings based on both analyzing trends on Airbnb and a study developed by CWT Solutions Group with Airbnb include:

  • Companies that use Airbnb for business travel save on average 30 percent over traditional accommodations;

  • Business travelers stay twice as long on Airbnb;

  • Travel with the team, over 35 percent of bookings were for two or more travelers;

  • 45 percent of business travel was international, with travel to more than 2,000 cities in over 120 countries;

  • Top destinations included London, Milan, and Tokyo.

Airbnb for Business is now used by thousands of companies for their employee travel, including Vox Media, and Sixt Rental Car. The free dashboard, which launched last July, allows companies to coordinate the booking process more easily, streamline payments and gives travel managers the ability to offer a wider array of accommodations. Employees who have booked with Airbnb saved their companies an average of 30 percent more than traditional accommodations.

“Since introducing Airbnb for Business, we’ve seen the number of companies using it grow enormously,” said Chip Conley, Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy at Airbnb. “Businesses have clearly been longing for a better way to manage their employees’ travel needs and business travelers seem eager for change from the traditional business travel accommodations.”

With Airbnb’s far-reaching global network, 45 percent of Airbnb for Business trips are international. Business travelers visited more than 2,000 cities in over 120 countries. The average length of a business traveler’s stay on Airbnb was twice as long as stays in traditional accommodations, at 6.8 days per trip, which shows that more and more business travelers are staying the weekend, mixing business with pleasure, and getting to know a new city or neighborhood they’ve never visited.

In the six months since launch, more than 50,000 employees of more than 5,000 businesses have completed bookings. San Francisco tops the list as the most heavily traveled destination for business, followed by several economic hubs in the United States and Europe.

The top 10 cities for business trips on Airbnb are:

  • San Francisco, CA

  • London, UK

  • New York City, NY

  • Paris, France

  • Los Angeles, CA

  • Milan, Italy

  • Mountain View, CA

  • Austin, TX

  • Seattle, WA

  • Tokyo, Japan

Companies are also relying on Airbnb for longer-haul travel. Six of the 10 most commonly traversed routes are long-distance trips of more than 1,700 miles, including bi-coastal jaunts and international adventures.

More than 17 percent of travelers stayed in an Airbnb in more than one city. Some of Airbnb’s most fervent fans stayed in listings in over 15 cities across the globe. One frequent business traveler has visited nine countries on four continents, including Brazil, Turkey, Poland, China, and Mexico. Another emerging trend is that business travelers are more frequently using Airbnb to explore new cities before deciding whether to relocate for work. The longest single Airbnb for Business Travel booking was over 290 days.

London records 5.2 million footfalls in 2015

According to the Office for National Statistics International Passenger Survey report, London welcomed more than 5.2 million visitors last year.

The 5.9 per cent increase in visitors last year comes after a 22.5 per cent increase in the number of international tourists over the last 5 years.

The capital also boosted the number of overall tourists to the UK, for a total of 10.5 million international visits, a 4.7 per cent increase when compared to 2014.

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, commented:
“London is the best big city on the planet.

“We really know how to roll out the red carpet and put on a show for the millions of visitors who flock here year after year.
“Only last week, Lumiere London, the city’s biggest-ever light festival, gave over a million people an unforgettable experience in the West End and King’s Cross.

“With another exciting programme of events planned this year, as well as our unbeatable cultural and other attractions, we are looking forward to welcoming even more tourists in the months ahead.”

The rise in the number of domestic visits to the city and the growing number of foreign visits have brought £2.25 billion to London’s economy, almost 30 per cent more than five years ago.

A major contributor to the city’s economy, the tourism sector brings strong influx of more than £36 billion and supports 700,000 thousand jobs.
Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners, the company that promotes the UK capital, declared:

“Today’s visitor numbers show that London is more attractive than ever.
“The tourism industry is a key pillar of the capital’s economy providing great employment opportunities, including many entry level jobs, for Londoners and investment right across the city.

“That’s why we work tirelessly with our partners, museums, attractions, hotels, restaurants and many more to ensure that London remains the destination city of choice for overseas visitors.”

As a forecast, the number of visitors traveling to the UK in 2016 is expected to boost to 36.7 million, spending £23 billion.

Zemi Beach House prepares for opening

It is hard to fault any of Anguilla’s 33 pristine, picture- perfect beaches. However Shoal Bay is the most famous beach on the island and consistently ranks as not only one of the top beaches in the Caribbean, but in the world. With two miles of pink-hued white sand and intense turquoise waters, it is easy to see why.

Zemi Beach House will be the first resort to open on Shoal Bay East, in Anguilla’s East End. It will also be the first new- build hotel to open on the island in six years.

Developed by the Goldstein family of New York, the luxury beachfront resort will open to the public on the 1st February 2016 and has already begun taking many reservations. The boutique property will open with 70 keys, by the end of 2016 the beachfront resort will expand to 129 keys composed of 54 dedicated hotel rooms and 50 luxury residences that can be placed into a rental program managed by award-winning hotel and resort management company, Trust Hospitality.

The Zemi Beach House Experience
The resort’s symbol is the three-point stone zemi, worshipped by Anguilla’s ancient Taino Indians who believed it to be the dwelling place of the spirit.

“Zemi Beach House will be a touchstone for living, providing guests who seek quality and substance in their lives with the opportunity to renew, reflect and evolve with every stay through meaningful encounters,” said Rachael Goldstein, vice president of development at the Goldstein Family Partnership.

Designed by internationally renowned Caribbean architect Lane Pettigrew, Zemi Beach House’s architecture was inspired by Anguilla’s natural environment, blending modern, clean lines with classic Caribbean building details. The interiors of all public spaces were designed by Miami-based interior designer Cuba Fernandez.

Accommodations consist of Deluxe rooms with ocean views starting at £460 per night; Superior Corner King rooms; Two-bedroom and three-bedroom oceanfront suites with a private terrace and plunge pool; 2 Three-bedroom penthouses with terraces, a living room, kitchen and rooftop plunge pool. All guestrooms boast balconies or terraces with sea- or oceanfront views.

In-room amenities will include a loud speaker with Bluetooth, Caribbean mini bar, high-speed Wi-Fi, Cable TV with international channels, motion sensor AC system and Malin + Goetz toiletries. Services will feature private chefs, in-room dining and in-room spa treatments.

Other amenities and services at the resort’s first-class facilities will include around-the-clock concierge services; a beach concierge; a Zemi Beach House Kids Club; snorkelling, stand-up paddle boarding, glass bottom kayaks and other non-motorized water sports at Zemi’s Shoal Bay Beach Club; two pools with cabanas, including an oceanfront pool with an underwater window facing the beach; tennis courts and a fitness centre outfitted by TechnoGym.

Food & Beverage
Providing much-needed dining options on the east end of the island, Zemi Beach House will house five food and beverage concepts including Stone, 20 Knots, Shoal Bay Beach Club, Rhum Room and Provisions. Stone will provide a fine dining experience featuring seasonal, locally sourced, farm- and ocean-to-table cuisine. For a casual dining option open all day, including a breakfast buffet, 20 Knots will feature international cuisine with signature Anguillan specialties. Shoal Bay Beach Club’s Beach Bar and Palm Court will cater to sun worshipers with toes-in-the-sand beachfront dining. A destination in itself, the Rhum Room will boast world-renowned, small-batch estate Rhum and serve as a gathering place for late night cocktails, private dinners, meetings and tastings. Provisions, Zemi’s one-stop marketplace, will offer sundries, beach picnic baskets and snack staples such as coffee and ice cream.

Zemi Thai House Spa
Nestled inside an authentic Thai House that was transported from Thailand to Anguilla in the 1980s, the Zemi Thai House Spa will be the resort’s crowned jewel. Carefully restored to offer a ground breaking wellness experience and spanning 15,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, the spa will house the island’s first co-ed ‘House of Wellbeing’ with a heated gobek tasi, sun deck for mud and salt body treatments, outdoor showers and vitality pool. Central to the wellness experience will be the Taino Bathing Ritual which will offer a social, highly unique treatment process allowing guests to journey through different temperature changes using ancient plants and herbs used by Anguilla’s native Taino Indians.

Spa facilities will include oversized private spa villas, couples villas, a wellness boutique, outdoor rest areas with wave loungers and spaces for yoga and Pilates; and a mediation garden where guests will enjoy classes on mindfulness and relaxation. A fresh juice bar at the ancient Thai Rice House will feature teas and cold-pressed juices made from fruits, herbs and plants from the spa garden. 

TripAdvisor launches Windows 10 app

NEEDHAM, MASS. – TripAdvisor announced the launch of a new Windows 10 app across desktop, tablet and mobile. The TripAdvisor app for Windows 10 will be available in 47 markets and will be pre-loaded on millions of Windows 10 compatible devices in 2016.

The new app features TripAdvisor’s comprehensive booking tools, including the TripAdvisor instant booking platform, which allows travellers to easily compare hotel options, check prices and availability and book their accommodation on TripAdvisor. Restaurants and attractions are also featured, many of which are bookable on the site.

The app also showcases more than 290 million user reviews and opinions of hotels, restaurants and attractions, and over 46 million candid traveller photos, covering destinations around the globe. Additional features include Near Me Now, a tool that navigates travellers to nearby points of interest using their phone’s GPS.

“The new TripAdvisor Windows 10 app offers users a comprehensive resource to help them plan and book their trips,” said Rory Kenny, director of mobile partnerships, TripAdvisor. “Mobile continues to be a huge driver of traffic to TripAdvisor, in fact half of our traffic now comes via mobile. We are excited that Windows Phone users will now be able to plan, compare and book hotels, restaurants and attractions within the TripAdvisor app.”

“Microsoft is excited with TripAdvisor’s continued commitment to Windows 10 with the release of their new app built on the Universal Windows Platform,” said Steve Guggenheimer, Corporate Vice President of Developer Platform & Evangelism and Chief Evangelist for Microsoft Corp. “With Windows 10 running on over 200 million devices worldwide, we’re excited to provide our fans great experiences such as TripAdvisor’s comprehensive booking tools, user reviews and travel photos from around the globe, on any Windows 10 device.”

The TripAdvisor app, already available on iOS and Android devices, has amassed 215 million downloads to date – making it the world’s most popular travel app. 

Munich Airport takes home award as best employer in the German transportation sector

Munich Airport ranks among Germany’s top employers. That is one of the results of a recent study conducted by the German news weekly Focus. At a special ceremony in Berlin, the airport’s operating company FMG was honored as the “Best Place to Work in the Transportation and Logistics Sector”. “This outstanding rating for the entire country shows that FMG is known as an extremely attractive employer all over Germany, and not just in our region. In view of the demographic trends we face in the coming years, this is enormously important to us as a growing company that will need more and more staff,” said Dr. Michael Kerkloh, the President and CEO of Munich Airport, who was on hand to accept the award.

In Germany’s biggest study of this kind, Focus teamed up with the career-based networking site Xing and the employer rating portal kununu to identify the most attractive employers in 22 industries. In the overall scoring, covering all sectors, Munich Airport posted an outstanding number 13 ranking.

The study, which garnered responses from 70,000 employees in a wide range of companies and industries, posed such questions as: “What are your top priorities and what companies do you see as attractive places to work?” “Would you recommend your employer to your friends?”

As the responses submitted to kununu showed, Munich Airport’s staff give their employer top marks for such criteria as working atmosphere, team spirit and generational management. Dr. Robert Scharpf, FMG’s head of HR, sees the award as the outcome of across-the-board digitalization of the airport’s employer marketing efforts: “We are now well established on all of the key online platforms,” he says. In view of challenges that lie ahead, he welcomes the airport’s selection as the number one employer in its industry as an inspiration to try even harder: “Competition to attract talented people will intensify in the coming years. We must make it our future goal to maintain our strong position as an employer and to continue building our reputation in the global job market to compete for talent worldwide. That’s another benefit of the Focus ratings: They give us valuable insights into the areas where we have room for improvement.”

New SWISS Boeing 777 offers inflight Internet and phoning

SWISS will offer its customers aloft internet connections for the first time with its new Boeing 777-300ER. Travellers will have a choice of three data packages. As part of its new inflight connectivity, the airline will also be offering a roaming inflight phoning option for a trial one-year period.   

The first of SWISS’s new flagship Boeing 777-300ERs will enter scheduled service on the carrier’s long-haul network next month. The new twinjet will offer wireless internet connectivity in all three cabin classes. Access will be provided via a broadband connection, and will enable guests to surf or send emails on their laptop, tablet or smartphone device.

Three data packages
To meet travellers’ differing needs, SWISS will offer a choice of three data packages for its inflight internet option. The 20 MB SWISS Connect data package, costing CHF 9, is intended for those wishing to check their emails or visit a few websites; the 50 MB package at CHF 19 is more for travellers seeking to surf their social networks or use the internet to work; and the 120 MB package at CHF 39 provides even more flexibility and the opportunity to make almost full use (apart from streaming) of the internet’s scope and possibilities.

SWISS will also be providing its First Class customers with a 50 MB SWISS Connect data package free of charge.

In its constant endeavours to meet its customers’ needs, the airline is further considering whether to extend this inflight internet connectivity to the rest of its long-haul fleet, i.e. its Airbus A330s and A340s.   

Inflight phoning via roaming
As part of its new inflight internet option, SWISS will also be enabling its customers aloft to make phone calls and send SMS text messages and data via roaming telephony for a trial one-year period. The new facility is being offered in the light of recent market research among its customer base. The prices of these services will be set by the corresponding contractual agreements between AeroMobile (the provider of these inflight phone options) and the customer’s phone service provider. 

SWISS will be closely monitoring this one-year trial phase, and will be carefully assessing any and all feedback from its customers. And, since safety and the inflight comfort of its guests are its top priorities, such roaming phone services will only be available at service times during night flights: as soon as the cabin lighting is switched off, the feature may no longer be used.

Boeing 777 deployments
The new internet-connected SWISS Boeing 777-300ERs will be gradually deployed from the start of the 2016 summer schedules onwards, primarily on services to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sao Paulo and Tel Aviv

Spirit AeroSystems and Boeing Celebrate 737 MAX First Flight

Spirit AeroSystems and Boeing celebrated the first flight of the 737 MAX 8 — the first member of Boeing’s efficient 737 MAX family — today when it took to the skies from Renton Field near Boeing’s 737 Final Assembly plant in Renton, Washington. Spirit AeroSystems produces the 737 MAX fuselage, pylon, thrust reverser and engine nacelle at its Wichita, Kansas, facility and the wing leading edges at its Tulsa, Oklahoma, facility.

“We’re proud to celebrate this first flight milestone with Boeing,” said Spirit President and CEO Larry Lawson. “Spirit has delivered over 8,000 737s since they entered service and we look forward to continuing the 737 legacy through this newest variant 737 MAX.”

The 737 MAX, powered by CFM International’s LEAP-1B engines, will deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market with 20 percent lower fuel use than the first Next-Generation 737s and 8 percent per seat lower operating costs than its nearest competitor. Spirit is responsible for delivering about 70 percent of the 737 structure to Boeing.

The 737 MAX 8 is the first member in Boeing’s new family of single-aisle airplanes — the 737 MAX 7, MAX 8, MAX 200 and MAX 9 — to begin flight testing. The 737 MAX will extend the Next-Generation 737 range advantage with the capability to fly more than 3,500 nautical miles (6,510 kilometers), an increase of 340 to 570 nautical miles (629 to 1,055 kilometers). The 737 MAX family has 3,072 orders from 62 customers worldwide.

Marriott reports 2015 was an outstanding year for new hotel signings and openings

ETHESDA, MD. - Marriott International, Inc. said that 2015 was an outstanding year for hotel owners selecting Marriott to manage or franchise new hotels across its global portfolio of 19 brands, with contracts signed for hotels totaling 104,000 rooms during the year.  

"The contracts we signed in 2015 encompass more than $15 billion of investment by our owners, and represent a tremendous vote of confidence in Marriott's brands," said Arne Sorenson, Marriott's president and chief executive officer. "Marriott's new signings reflect broadly distributed growth across the company's global hotel portfolio, and demonstrate the extraordinary appeal of Marriott's brands to customers, industry-leading innovation, significant scale, highly effective systems, and the best associates in the business – all of which attract hotel owners and lenders to our portfolio."

In 2015, Marriott opened 300 hotels with nearly 52,000 rooms, including 9,600 rooms through the acquisition of Delta Hotels & Resorts. Approximately a third of the company's openings were outside North America, and nearly one-third of the rooms were conversions from other brands or acquired, including the Delta transaction. Nearly half of the rooms opened in 2015 were under the flags of Marriott's select-service portfolio. At the end of 2015, Marriott had more than 4,400 properties with nearly 760,000 rooms. 

Tony Capuano, Marriott's chief development officer, said, "Marriott's success reflects preference for the company's brands, including new brands we have added in the past six years, as well as our leading revenue producing platforms, significant RevPAR index premiums, and a highly energized in-market global development team."

Marriott's newest brand platforms include AC by Marriott, Autograph Collection, Delta, EDITION, Gaylord, Moxy, and Protea. 

Of the new brands, Marriott's luxury and lifestyle portfolio focused on millennial and millennial-minded travelers has made a mark. The forward thinking that led to the creation and development of these new brands was an important factor in Forbes Magazine naming Marriott as one of the World's Most Innovative Companies in 2015, the highest ranked hospitality company so recognized. Marriott's Autograph Collection Hotels, a portfolio of iconic, independent hotels, comprises 95 hotels across four continents, with 2016 openings including the Plaza Hotel in Seoul, Korea and the Playa Largo Resort in Key Largo, Florida. AC by Marriott has more than 80 hotels and opened a stylish new property in Miami Beach in 2015. Planned AC by Marriott openings include Guadalajara, Mexico in 2016. Moxy hotels will open in New Orleans and Berlin in 2016, and EDITION, in the luxury boutique segment, will open its next hotel in Bangkok in 2016, with properties already open in London, New York, Miami Beach and Istanbul.

Other spectacular hotels the company opened in 2015 include the JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa and Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Bali.  In 2016 the company said it also expects to welcome a new trend-setter destination to its Renaissance brand, the Renaissance Paris Republique. 

In November 2015, Marriott announced it had signed a binding agreement to acquire Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide through a merger transaction. Marriott has filed a joint proxy and registration statement on Form S-4 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Marriott and Starwood intend to proceed with shareholder votes on the proposed merger after the SEC declares the joint proxy/registration statement effective and are proceeding with required regulatory approvals around the world. Marriott expects to close the transaction in mid-2016.

Classic to offer scenic all-inclusive river cruises in Europe

SAN JOSE, CA – Classic Vacations has partnered with Scenic, the leading operator of all-inclusive luxury European river cruises, to offer an exciting new vacation opportunity for travelers.

Classic will now showcase Scenic’s fleet of “Space-Ships” – 5-star vessels outfitted with luxury accommodations and a nearly 1:2 staff to guest ratio, offering river cruises throughout Europe, including Austria, The Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, The Netherlands, and their newest itineraries in Portugal along the Douro River. Complimentary amenities include a personal butler for every guest, with 24-hour room service, all meals on board, drinks all day (including premium wines and spirits), handcrafted shore excursions at exciting ports-of-call, airport departure transfers, and all tips and gratuities.

Travel Advisors can now choose from a variety of ships and itineraries to suit their clients’ desires, and customize their on-board experience, via the Customer Care team at Classic Vacations.

“Having recently experienced a Scenic river cruise, I’m more convinced than ever that this will be a great addition to our product offering. The inclusive nature of Scenic appeals to our luxury audience,” says Jonna Jackson, Head of Strategic Partnerships for Classic Vacations.

“Classic Vacations has been offering luxury vacation experiences in Europe for 20 years. As we celebrate this milestone, we are excited to add luxury European river cruises to our portfolio,” said David Hu, President of Classic Vacations. “We look forward to partnering with Scenic to deliver an experience beyond compare.”