Eleven major hotel chains are routinely breaching British government guidelines and advertising standards rules by not including VAT in headline prices online, and more items in our roundup of the stories that are making news and driving opinion on 30 August.
Claim: Half of UK hotel chains breaking laws with online rate display
Eleven of Britain’s major hotel chains are accused by Which? magazine of breaching value-added tax (VAT) rules with the rates they advertize online.
VAT is 20% of the rate and the magazine says it isn’t included in prices listed online by Hilton, Holiday Inn, Marriott, Sofitel and seven other chains.
This allows lowcostholidays.com to provide its users with a leaderboard of the most popular travel destinations based on “Were here” data. Brands that include a location address on their Facebook pages see a “were here” feature on their page.
United blames a hardware failure
United Airlines said “computer hardware” led to the system failure that canceled nine flights and delayed 580 flights and crashed its website for a couple of hours.
USA Today reports, the hardware was “in a data center that failed to communicate properly with other computer equipment” and “a backup system failed to take over for the troubled hardware.” The “Shares” passenger information computer system it switched to in spring was not to blame.
Much Better Chalets has launched its ‘Request a Ski Chalet’ service
Named by the BBC and the Guardian as one of the “best travel websites,” MuchBetterChalets.com‘s new system tries to plan a group ski trip easier and faster, partnering with 55 independent chalet companies in five key resorts. Says the company:
Within a few hours of enquiring customers have at least 3 or 4 tailored quotes to compare on one private trip planning wall. The group can compare and discuss all these offers on one page, helping to avoid confusing email threads. They book direct with the ski chalet, ensuring they get the best direct price.
Tablet usage by US travelers is growing by leaps and bounds
The MMGY Global/Harrison Group 2012 Portrait of American Travelers surveyed 2,527 U.S. households with an annual household income of $50,000 or more who have taken at least one overnight trip of 75 miles or more from home during the previous 12 months. Highlights:
While less than one in 10 leisure travelers accessed the Internet through an iPad or tablet computer in 2011, this has increased nearly four-fold to 27 percent in 2012.
When comparing the activities performed by leisure travelers on tablets versus smartphones, travelers now use tablets more frequently when comparing prices, making air travel, lodging reservations, or purchasing tickets to attractions and other activities.
Smartphones are more likely to be used for activities on the go, such as finding nearby restaurants and shops, navigation, scanning QR codes, or using check-in features or apps such as Facebook Places and Foursquare.
Jet Asia Airways hands fliers iPads on select flights
IFE Services supplies the in-flight entertainment system for the iPads, will be Jet Asia Airwaysâ€™ Bangkok to Tokyo route. The companies say the iPads will be free of charge in business class and available for a fee in economy class.
Lufthansa’s flight crews set to go on strike
The precise time of Friday’s strike isn’t clear, but the unions will give six hours’ notice. Lufthansa has used its Twitter and Facebook accounts in multiple languages to point travelers to an update page. Der Spiegel’s English edition has a good round-up of opinions in the German press.
Visit Holland debuts its app
The Netherlands’s tourism marketing organziation has launched the Visit Holland app for iPhone, which gives travel information to foreign visitors and is available in nine languages. The Android app will arrive next year.
Lowcostbeds expands range of longhaul hotels
Having seen its trade business double in the pastyear, UK-based Lowcostbeds today has boosted the number of overseas hotels it lists to 20,000 properties that are mostly in the Caribbean, Far East and Australia.
The company announces will unveil a fresh version of its XML gateway in the next few weeks, to speed up agent access to its full inventory of 100,000 hotels.
Capture US Zip Codes using Google Maps
The Zip Code Catcher is a Google Maps mashup from the startup Woodstitch. Use a drawing tool on the map to select and area and then click to download a CSV of the zip codes in that zone.