The Scan: A startling stat on mobile hotel booking, and more travel tech news
Wego, Pegasus Solutions, Southwest Airlines, Points.com, Priceline, ARC, IATA, SITA, EasyJet, MyTaxi, Blynk, Now app, Angola, Tripomatic, Onyx, SiteMinder, Thistle Hotels, Gulf Air, and Fuel Monitor all appear in our roundup of the stories making news and driving opinion on 29 November.
Forty-three percent of people booking hotels by mobile devices make their bookings while they’re in their cars. That’s according to a survey by Priceline of the users of its booking app. Naturally, “free Internet access edged out free breakfast and free parking as the hotel perk most important to mobile-equipped travelers.”
Germany’s largest taxi-booking app has rebooted. MyTaxi says its nine developers have simplified the process so that booking can take place in no more than two steps. The process is further optimized by the fact that each user can save the personal settings via “My Account,” says a company blog post.
Hotel owners have another third-party developer to hire to develop white-label, hotel-specific mobile apps. Blynk iHotel describes itself as a mobile, tablet and TV guest experience and marketing app for hotels, allowing guests to make service requests and order food directly from the hotel-branded app for Android, Apple, and in-room TV.
There’s a major update to the NYC-based mobile app Now, which helps people discover what events are trending in their city by tapping into the data tagged on Instagram images. The latest version of the free iPhone app, which launched in May 2012, now works worldwide. In a fresh twist, Now lets users generate content about events. Users are no longer tied to seeing the place nearest to them and can now explore places around the world.
Angola has one of the world’s fastest growing economies yet is off the global tourist map. A new Apple and Android app from the publication Angola-Today provides a Luanda City Guide, with interactive maps and travel advice. There’s a YouTube clip about it.
The leading travel metasearch site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East has extended into a new line of business: vacation rentals. Singapore’s Wego is now touting 400,000 rentals from HomeAway, FlipKey, Stayz, Travelmob, and Marketing Villas, covering 15,000 destinations globally.
Global leisure travel bookings spiked 9% in October and corporate bookings jumped 5%, over volume a year earlier. That led to a rise in rates of 3% worldwide and 4% in North America, says Pegasus Solutions, which tracks hundreds of thousands of transactions.
Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) team up to plan “outreach programs.” IATA‘s Senior Vice President, Industry and Financial Services, Aleks Popovich will join ARC’s Travel Executive Council, which includes 13 CEOs and Senior Executives from ARC’s 15 largest travel agencies. ARC, which has around 16,000 members, settles ticket transactions between 190 airlines and travel sellers such as OTAs, travel agencies and other intermediaries. IATA mainly represents airlines and is currently emphasizing a push to deliver a platform to help airlines sell ancillary products.
Tripomatic’s trip planning app has been downloaded nearly 40,000 times since its April 2012 debut. Today, it relaunched its free iPhone app, which now features more than 30.000 attractions, with larger photos and snappier descriptions, accessible offline. There’s a YouTube clip demonstrating it. Tripomatic is being promoted with PPC campaigns in Google AdWords, AdMob, and other ad networks, plus the iOS news feeds ads feed on Facebook.
Australian hotel distribution switch SiteMinder signs a deal with Asia’s largest homegrown luxury hospitality group. The Thailand-based ONYX Hospitality Group will select some of its 51 properties to start using SiteMinder’s platform to distribute room inventory and its IDeaS Revenue Management System, too.
Southwest Airlines notoriously refuses to allow third-party sites to have access to its price and frequent-flier content. But America’s largest airline by domestic passenger volume has made an exception for travel-rewards-tracking site Points.com. Dennis Schaal reports that the airline has has signed a deal that lets Points power members’ ability to collect and share Rapid Rewards points, starting in mid-2013.
More and more hotels are tweaking their websites to appear well in superfast HTML5, which makes the sites look sharp on mobile devices. Case in point: Thistle Hotels has revealed its new look homepage, which also includes an upgraded 4-step booking journey, and more prominently displayed offers.
SITA scored another big customer for its mobile services. The giant IT company for air transport will provide a system for easyJet, the UK’s largest airline, airport agents to use Motorola Solutions ruggedized handheld computers at over 130 airports in Europe.
In another coup for SITA, the national carrier of Bahrain will use its network services to optimize its operations across 48 destinations where it operates. Gulf Air will hand over all private network, internet, voice, messaging and reporting services to SITA, expecting cost savings of up to 22% in IP-related services at airports worldwide.
A humble pair of European students were sick and tired of rising gasoline/petrol prices, so they made an app that gives everyone the power to know exactly how much they’re spending on petrol. Fuel Monitor is free for Apple devices and also gives feedback on how to alter your driving style to minimize the amount of petrol used on any given journey.
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