Have home-sharing platforms finally met their rival?

Posted by - August 3, 2018

HYATT Hotels Corporation, home to franchises of luxury hotels, resorts, and vacation properties, has rolled up its sleeves to counter home-sharing companies by rolling out a new product.
Enter, Hyatt House.
Airbnb: 3 most wish-listed accommodations in Asia-Pacific What is Hyatt House? It’s extended-stay hotel kitted out with the same offerings that you would find in a home-shared unit. Think residential-style hotel.
“Feel at home in apartment-style spaces, with areas to work and relax. Our studios and suites include up to two bedrooms, plus bathrooms, separate living areas, and fully equipped kitchens – think refrigerators, microwaves, stovetops, and islands,” Hyatt House said.
Inspired by extensive research of guest experiences, Hyatt launched the Hyatt House range of hotels back in 2012, targeted to those “who believe that being away from home doesn’t mean giving up the life that one usually lives.”
Source: Hyatt House.
It currently has more than 60 locations throughout the US. But it wasn’t until 2017 that the Hyatt House in Asia opened its doors to travelers and locals in China with the 103-room Hyatt House Yinchuan Dayuecheng.
This was closely followed by Hyatt House Shenzhen Airport, Hyatt House Shanghai Hongqiao, Hyatt House Shanghai New Hongqiao, and Hyatt House Chengdu Pebble Walk.
Recently, Hyatt House opened its first house-like hotel in Southeast Asia – Hyatt House Kuala Lumpur Mont’Kiara.
Source: Hyatt House.
Located in an exclusive and cosmopolitan enclave in the Malaysian capital, Hyatt House Kuala Lumpur Mont’Kiara overlooks the city skyline of Kuala Lumpur. Ideal for both business and leisure travelers, the property is just a short drive away from world-class malls and the bustling city center.
Not only is Hyatt House Kuala Lumpur Mont’Kiara the first Hyatt House in Southeast Asia, it’s also the largest Hyatt House in the world, with a wide range of comfortable facilities – much like those that one would find in a home-sharing unit.
The comfortable 298 residential-style suites and studios come with fully equipped kitchens, free Wi-Fi, and free parking for long-stay residents.
Source: Hyatt House.
But also, Hyatt House has taken it up a notch by offering free shuttle service, free buffet breakfast, a 24-hour workout and games room, rooftop sky pool, a bar offering refreshing drinks and home-cooked comfort food all day, and a market providing grab-n-go items such as fresh sandwiches and salads 24 hours a day.
A friendly “House Host” will also available to check-in guests, provide directions, or help with other needs to help guests feel at home.
“Traveling has increasingly become a necessity rather than just a leisure activity. So, whether it’s because of temporary relocation for work in a new city, or traveling for an extended period of time for bleisure visits – people are looking for ways to travel while staying rooted to their routines,” Hyatt House said.
Give your furkid a taste of luxury at these pet-friendly hotels in Asia Best of all, Hyatt House Kuala Lumpur Mont’Kiara is pet-friendly, so rest assured you won’t be without your furkid by your side for the entirety of your long stay.
So, have home-sharing platforms like Airbnb, Homestay, Home Exchange, and the likes finally met their match?
For more information on Hyatt House, visit its website.
The post Have home-sharing platforms finally met their rival? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

How this Bangkok-based hotel is winning with MICE travelers

Posted by - August 2, 2018

Since humans roamed Earth, people have been traveling for business purposes. One of the most iconic trade routes is the Silk Road linking China to the Mediterranean. Along the way, businesspeople traded goods and discovered new cultures.
Thankfully, however, the business travel industry has evolved by leaps and bounds from the days of hundred-mile journeys on camelback under the blistering sun.
Luckily for business travelers, in the day and age, globalization and technological advancements have made traveling as easy as popping across to the other side of the world and back in a few days.
The growth of cultures and industries have also led to more people traveling for conferences and incentives which has produced the fast-paced world of traveling for meetings, incentives, conferences, and events (MICE).
To put it in perspective, the MICE industry is currently worth US$752 million and is predicted to soar to US$1,245 billion by 2023, and venues around the world don’t want to miss out on their slice of MICE revenue pie.
The industry isn’t as simple as conventional vacation planning. The MICE travel industry relies on the seamless collaboration of swathes of different sectors such as accommodation, sponsors, planners, convention, visitor bureaus, suppliers and of course, participants.
Sometimes it doesn’t go according to plan and organizers must think on their feet, but when a meeting, conference, event or specially planned incentive goes off without a hitch, it’s truly spectacular, and Asia-Pacific is showing the rest of the world how it should be done.
According to a recent report, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to witness the most significant increase in MICE travel over the next five years. The region’s glowing appeal includes oodles of culture, a welcome abundance of luxury five-star accommodations, brilliant transport links between domestic and national business hubs, and the lack of visa restrictions for business travelers.
Source: Swissotel Le Concorde
One of the biggest MICE industry players in Asia-Pacific is Thailand, with destinations such as Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Khon Kaen shining a bright light on how MICE travel should look. Pattaya and Phuket owe their popularity among conferences and event planners to their beachside location.
Khon Kaen offers MICE travelers a cultural alternative to the lively capital of Bangkok. However, nothing can beat the vibrancy and convenience of Bangkok for MICE travelers. Hosting two international airports which welcome over 1,000 flights from 70 different countries per day, the city is a melting pot of business ventures.
The City of Angels (not Los Angeles) is a metropolis full of scrumptious food, traditional and contemporary living styles, shopping malls galore, hordes of activities and attractions, and an unparallel variety of business event spaces.
Bangkok has 65 convention centers, 14 exhibition centers, 34 unique venues, and 422 hotels providing over 94,000 rooms and suites. But among the variety of venues, there’s one hotel which offers not only luxury five-star accommodation in a great location but also amazing meeting and convention facilities, Swissotel Le Concorde Bangkok.
Source: Swissotel le Concorde
Located just a 40-minute drive from Suvarnabhumi International Airport along the trendy Ratchadapisek Road, the hotel sits among the city’s central business hub and is a short stroll from Huai Kwang MRT station which will take guests into central Bangkok.
Swissotel Le Concorde Bangkok offers 4,006 square meters of meeting space including 23 meeting rooms, each equipped with the latest technology to eliminate fuzzy Skype calls, outside noise, and overheating when trying to conduct serious business.
Some are intimate meeting rooms perfect for roundtable discussions and negotiations while others resemble chic lecture theatres and bespoke dining rooms.
But the main event, in both senses of the phrase, is the column-free Le Concorde Ballroom. The 7.3-meter-high ballroom is capable of seating over 1,000 people in theatre style. The venue is unrivaled in its flawlessness as a space perfect for glamorous weddings, colorful launch events and conferences, sure to impress every attendee.
Source: Swissotel Le Concorde
A full round-up of Swissotel Le Concorde Bangkok’s ample event spaces and capacity can be found here, but let us assure you, there’s a space for every occasion with a team of expert event planners to create what you envisage.
The bustle of central Bangkok on Khao San Road is just a short train ride away from Swissotel Le Concorde Bangkok, but there’s also plenty do to around the hotel when the working day is done. Enjoy the traditional Thai delights from the iconic Rod Fai Night Market and pick up a vintage souvenir while you’re there too.
Alternatively, take full advantage of the hotel’s holistic approach to wellbeing at Spa De Concorde. If you’re in need of a massage after networking for 48 hours, Swissotel Le Concorde Bangkok has you covered. There’s also a state-of-the-art gym, sauna room, and turquoise pool for recuperation.
Then you can look forward to getting cozy in one of the hotel’s newly refurbished Swiss Advantage Rooms. Designed with the digitally connected traveler in mind, these rooms are furnished with the latest mod-cons including USB ports, a 40-inch TV, luxury bedding, and spacious marble bathrooms.
Swissotel Le Concorde Bangkok undoubtedly ticks every box on a business traveler’s and MICE planner’s check-list. It’s prime location also means guest can kick back after the working day is over and absorb some local culture.
The post How this Bangkok-based hotel is winning with MICE travelers appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Why Thailand is perfect for your next bleisure trip

Posted by - July 31, 2018

What comes to mind when you think of Thailand? Is it the infamous full moon parties jam-packed with backpackers; the notoriously head-titling, mind-boggling entertainment shows; or perhaps the heaps of spicy food?
You aren’t wrong for associating these vibrant images with the Southeast Asian nation, but you would be surprised to know Thailand is one of Asia’s leading regions for business travellers.
When you mix business and leisure travel, you concoct a lexicographer’s nightmare and a travel agent’s dream: “bleisure” travel.
Bleisure travel is a combination of traveling for business reasons but also injecting some local culture and sightseeing on a trip.
Thailand also has the infrastructure to support some of the world’s biggest conferences and events making it a haven for MICE travelers.
Earlier this year, Bangkok’s Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre welcomed 60,000 guests and 500 speakers to Startup Thailand 2018, a conference which aims to boost investment and interest in Thailand’s startup scene.
A few months after this successful event, the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau further promoted Thailand as the Kingdom of Bleisure, focusing on three major cities. One, of course, being Bangkok, the quintessential Asian metropolis.
Source: Shutterstock
Bangkok The Thai capital takes the crown for providing MICE and bleisure travelers with an abundance of outstanding convention and meeting venues, hotels, retail facilities, fine-dining, local dining, and entertainment options.
The city is constantly expanding to accommodate all types of travelers. Tourism and business hubs are beginning to seamlessly connect via investment in first-rate transport links such as The Skytrain (BTS) and the underground railway (MRT). These easily-navigable modes of transport connect to the newest addition to Bangkok’s thriving business hubs, such as Ratchada, and ensure you don’t waste precious time in the gridlock traffic which plagues Bangkok’s roads.
Located just three MRT stops from hectic Sukhumvit, Ratchada offers a refreshing yet authentic reprise from central Bangkok. It is a place where contemporary and traditional blends beautifully. The area boasts brilliant night bazaars which brazenly lure in travelers with their variety of local food and quirky souvenirs.
However, if travelers spend a moment looking up in Ratchada, they’ll notice they’re among a forest of futuristic skyscrapers, home to the likes of insurance giants AIA, the Stock Exchange of Thailand, and the world’s largest consumer goods company, Unilever. These big brand names have helped earn Ratchada the title of Bangkok’s official central business district.
In the center of Ratchada and just a two-minute walk from Huai Khwang MRT station is Swissotel Le Concorde Bangkok. The affordable yet luxurious five-star hotel is located close to Bangkok’s entertainment hub and business hub, and comes without the steep price tag normally associated with this centralized area.
Swissotel Le Concorde Bangkok’s 407 elegantly spacious rooms and suites are combined with four delectable dining facilities serving up Cantonese, International, and Japanese cuisines, as well as fresh bakes and an impressive bar.
Source: Swissotel Le Concorde
This hotel also features innovative meeting and convention facilities such as the 4,006-square-meter meeting space, equipped with a team of event planners to take the weight off your shoulders.
For those looking for a little rest and recreation between business meetings, conferences, and events, the hotel’s luxurious Spa De Concorde is the perfect place to unwind and revitalize. Matching the local area’s ambiance of old-meets-new, the spa combines traditional Thai therapy techniques in a tranquil, modern environment.
No matter your reason for traveling, be it business or leisure, or a little bit of both, Swissotel Le Concorde Bangkok provides you with an authentic Thailand experience while catering to all your professional and personal needs.
Phuket Another one of Thailand’s charming contrasts is the paradise island of Phuket. The region is best known for its verdant rolling hills, pristine beaches, and warm oceans, but it also has one of the country’s most celebrated MICE cities, as Phuket Tourism Association’s event schedule illustrates.
The southern Thai island hosts annual domestic and international events earning it the title of the “MICE city of the Andaman.” With over 500 hotels to suit every budget, most fully-kitted out with MICE facilities and all set within stunning scenery, Phuket might just be the epitome of bleisure travel.
Phuket’s unique selling point in the MICE and business travel market is its variety of unique venues. Whether you want to sign off on that multi-million-dollar deal on one of Phuket’s 30 outstanding beaches then celebrate with something bubbly as day turns to night, or hold a memorable conference in a traditional Thai venue with charming architecture, Phuket can provide you with ample options.
Phuket is also renowned for its genuinely warm hospitality which can be experienced through the business day and into leisure time, be it on one of the many golf courses around the island, when you’re trying your hand at cooking pad thai, or simply soaking up the glorious sunshine.
When it comes to spectacular MICE facilities and accommodation for the bleisure traveler, Thavorn Palm Beach Resort is a winner.
Set on Karon’s Beachfront, the resort has two luxury-fitted meeting spaces which can be divided into five separate rooms and a banquet hall capable of hosting 460 people.
Source: Thavorn Palm Beach Resort
Its central location isn’t further than 30 minutes away from any of Phuket’s major attractions, including the Big Buddha, Old Phuket Town, and Jungceylon shopping mall. So, whether you’re looking for a touch of Thai culture, a few new additions to your wardrobe, or to learn about the island’s history, it’s all on Thavorn Palm Beach Resort’s doorstep.
Thailand is undoubtedly giving other ASEAN business hubs such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia a run for their money.
But unlike its neighbors, Thailand has all the attributes of a vacation destination to be enjoyed after the business day draws to a close.
*Some of the companies featured on this editorial are commercial partners of Travel Wire Asia
The post Why Thailand is perfect for your next bleisure trip appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

What’s in the most luxurious in-flight amenity kits?

Posted by - June 26, 2018

FLYING and luxury are now seamlessly synonymous. If you can afford it, that is.
Flying has evolved from a mode of transport into a luxury experience, one that could rival dining at Michelin-starred restaurants or sleeping in the Four Seasons’ Presidental Suite.
Here’s your guide to Asia’s best in-flight meals Airlines have put together experienced culinary panels which include kitchen veterans such as Tom Aikens, Peter Gordon, and Nobu Matsuhisa to create bespoke menus for business and first class passengers.
The revival of comfort and space is also emerging out of a “cram-as-many-as-we-can-in” era of commercial aviation, with whole onboard apartment-style cabins fitted with beds, desks, and bathrooms.
But what’s the point in high-flying showers without opulent toiletries to match?
Well, the world’s leading airlines have you covered.
Airlines such as Emirates, Qantas, and Etihad have teamed up with respected designers and sought-after cosmetic brands to keep their first class flyers feeling refreshed from take-off to landing.
Let’s take a look inside aviation’s most indulgent amenity bags and see how much it would cost in the shops.
United Airlines Source: United Airlines
United Airlines partnered with UK spa brand Cowshed to create its amenity kits.
Cowshed products are known for their natural ingredients and purifying, refreshing qualities, precisely what’s needed after a long-haul flight.
The bags are presented to business and first class passengers in a faux leather wash-bag. The kit contains lip balm to counter the effects of air-con, eye balm to fight signs of jetlag and moisturizing face and hand creams.
For added comfort, goodies such as a padded eye mask, cotton socks, earplugs and a toothbrush can also be found in the bag.
The cost to buy:
Eye balm: US$33 Toner: US$22 Face cream: US$42 Hand cream: US$22 Faux leather wash bag: US$60 Total: US$179
British Airways Source: British Airways
Keeping the quintessentially British theme running through the UK’s flag carrier, British Airways (BA) has teamed up with Liberty London to create an indulgent goodie bag.
Those fortunate enough to fly first class on BA flights will receive wash bags covered in distinct Liberty prints and filled with products from Aromatherapy Associates.
Aromatherapy Associates’ brand focuses on finding time for you and indulging in mindful beauty.
Where better to do so than on a long-haul flight?
The cost to buy:
Cleansers: US$53 Hand lotion: US$31 Moisturizer: US$66 Liberty London wash bag: US$66 *The amenity bag also includes products not available in store such as the deodorant stick.
Total: US$216
Qantas Source: Qantas
Melbourne born designer Martin Grant was called upon by Qantas to design its cabin crew’s uniforms in 2014, modeled by Miranda Kerr.
After which, Australia’s national flag carrier pursued the collaboration further and asked Grant to design the first class amenity bag.
Grant’s uncluttered and contemporary style can be seen in every aspect of the bag, from the unisex cotton pajamas to the eye cupping, padded sleep mask.
Alongside Grant’s designs are a range of bespoke hydrating ASPAR by Aurora Spa products.
The cost to buy:
Lip balm: US$10 Hand cream: US$37 Moisturizer: US$18 Cleanser: US$24 *The products designed by Martin Grant for Qantas cannot be bought instore, but people sell their kits online for around $60. Cheaper than a first class ticket.
Total: US$89
Qatar Airlines Source: Qatar Airlines
Qatar Airlines teamed up with BRIC’s luggage to create cute washbags that replicate the iconic full-size BRIC’s bags.
Every long-haul business and the first class passenger gets a dinky amenity kit full of Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio products, including lip balm, hydrating facial mist, anti-aging moisturizer and BRIC’s luggage tag.
Accompanying the ultra-luxe toiletries are sleeper suits and cotton slippers designed by The White Company.
Medium-haul business and first class passengers get Nappa Dori canvas bags printed with images of Thailand, the Netherlands, China, and Doha, along with Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio lip balm, socks, and eyeshades.
The cost to buy:
Lip balm: *only available on Qatar Hydrating facial mist: *only available on Qatar Anti-aging moisturizer: US$180 Toiletry bag: US$117 Luggage tag: US$25 Total: US$322
Which technologies are helping companies transform the travel industry? Emirates Source: Emirates
Emirates has pioneered sleepwear specifically designed for flying.
First class passengers can get comfy in cotton sleepsuits, fluffy slippers, and faux sheepskin comforters.
The luxury toiletries include Bulgari’s signature woody floral fragrance, Eau de Parfumée au thé noir, moisturizers, eye cream and hand lotion.
Passengers will also receive a dental kit, razor, deodorant, and hairbrush so they can land looking and feeling their best.
The wash bag comes in a silvery grey for women and a deeper grey for men.
The cost to buy:
Fragrance: US$71 Moisturizer: US$37 Body lotion: US$58 Washbag: US$80 Total: US$216
*All prices are based on full-sized toiletries from direct online stores.
The post What’s in the most luxurious in-flight amenity kits? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Football fever: Should these Asean countries host the 2034 FIFA World Cup?

Posted by - June 20, 2018

THE 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP IN RUSSIA is well underway and has been delightful to watch so far what with all the event’s surprising wins and shocking losses. Likely, this edition could go down in history as one of the more interesting ones.
Witnessed by the world, the games have piqued the interest of a handful of Asean countries – Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam – that may submit a bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup. Malaysia, too, wants in on it.
#WorldCup: What is Russia spending nearly US$12bn on? Former Football Federation of Malaysia (FAM) president Tengku Abdullah said Asean members Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore had already expressed interest in submitting a joint bid for the 2034 World Cup, reported ESPN.
Should any of the countries be successful, Malaysia might have the opportunity to co-host, provided the FAM and the government are agreeable.
Co-hosting is neither new to FIFA nor the Southeast Asian countries gunning for it.
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be co-hosted by the US, Mexico, and Canada. The Asian Cup in 2017 was co-hosted by Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Malaysia fans gather during the final football match of 2017 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) Kuala Lumpur. Source: Shutterstock.
Malaysia also hosted the 1998 Commonwealth Games, officially known as the XVI Commonwealth Games, the first Asian country to do so, as well as the 2017 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games)
Historically, only two other Asian countries have co-hosted the FIFA World Cup. In 2002, the games were split between Japan and South Korea, the first co-hosted FIFA World Cup ever, with the final match held in Japan.
But even at that time, Japan and South Korea, both highly developed and granted first world status, were no strangers to hosting events of such an international scale. Both countries have hosted the Olympics in the past, with the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics being the most recent.
Let’s not forget the 2020 Summer Olympics in the pipeline.
Why host or co-host? Firstly, Asean is a football-loving part of the world, thanks to the English Premier League.
Piyapol Bantao (in red) of Thailand in action during the AFF Suzuki Cup between Malaysia and Thailand in 2012.
Hosting an event of that scope would make for a giant advertising and marketing opportunity for the country/countries involved. It’ll put the said country on the map and boost tourism numbers and receipts.
Russia is hoping for at least 1.5 million tourists during the event, which could add US$2 billion to the country’s economy. Still, there’s no long-term guarantee.
The common misconception is that a country’s economic situation will improve by hosting the tournament.
“The money spent on hosting the tournament, both the direct cost of setting up the infrastructure (stadiums and security for example) and the opportunity costs (money spent on hosting the tournament that could be used to boost the economy elsewhere) cancel out the revenue,” sportslens wrote.

For example, the US lost US$9.6 billion from hosting the World Cup in 1994, Germany broke even after the World Cup in 2006, and South Africa is said to be in the red after the World Cup in 2010.
For a developing country like South Africa, it may not necessarily benefit locals in the long run as it’ll take decades for tourism dollars to repay the debts.
Is it too ambitious? It’ll be interesting to see how Southeast Asian countries (save for Indonesia) that have never qualified for the World Cup attempt to host it.
Certainly, the confidence comes from having hosted regional-level games. Perhaps Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia are looking at the strength in numbers.
However, even neighboring countries Japan and South Korea had to deal with organizational and logistical problems when they hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup. That’s just the one that was split between two countries. What more a three-way split? Or four?
The Seoul World Cup Stadium in South Korea, the largest football-specific stadium in Asia, was built for the jointly-hosted 2002 FIFA World Cup. Source: Shutterstock.
Furthermore, will these developing Asean countries have the infrastructure by then?
Russia spent a whopping total of US$11.8 billion on just infrastructure and facilities alone, and a chunk of the budget was invested in either renovating or building a handful of new stadiums. Specifically, FIFA-approved stadiums, in accordance with FIFA regulations.
After the curtains close on the games, a surplus of expensive venues can only go one way or the other: become white elephants, or develop the sporting culture.
And although Southeast Asia has long been considered a top travel destination, collectively welcoming 104.6 million international arrivals in 2015 with Thailand being the highest and Vietnam the lowest, the rising debt levels are weighing on the countries like Thailand and Malaysia.
Which technologies are helping companies transform the travel industry? Meanwhile, the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is said to have a ripple effect on long-haul summer bookings into Thailand half a world away.
The country has seen fewer bookings as travelers opt to stay home to watch the game.
The post Football fever: Should these Asean countries host the 2034 FIFA World Cup? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

How to stay healthy during frequent business travels

Posted by - June 20, 2018

TRAVELING as part of the job is a big perk, but often, business travelers who are constantly jet-setting around the world struggle with maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
According to a study, people who travel for business more than three weeks per month are more likely to become obese, compared to those who travel just one to six nights per month.
This is due to unhealthy or few food options and the lack of time or facility to exercise.
Learn the art of combining business with leisure Business travelers who jet off for two weeks to a month at a time are also more likely to have trouble sleeping than those who travel one to six nights monthly. The sleeplessness could manifest in many things: physical, mental, and behavioral changes due to poor health.
Aside from weight gain (which could lead to cardiovascular and blood pressure issued), mental health issues such as anxiety and depression may also result from the trips. This could lead to excessive smoking and alcohol dependency.
Mailman School of Public Health associate professor of epidemiology Andrew Rundle, who led the study, said, “Business travel can surely be educational and even fun, not to mention necessary for many people. But the wear and tear resulting from constant trips may not be altogether worth it.”
Is constantly jet-setting and attending back-to-back meetings good for you? Source: Shutterstock.
Rundle wrote that the physical and mental conditions among extensive business travelers may harm even the health of the organizations they work for.
The health issues can result in low productivity levels, poor performance, short-term disabilities, and medical claim costs.
How to keep yourself in check By choosing to travel the healthier and more productive way.
Other than taking responsibility for the decisions you make while you’re on a business trip about food, exercise, alcohol, and sleep, you can also pick and choose which trips to go for.
Skip those that are not as urgent and opt to Skype into a meeting instead. You’ll save time, money, and most of all lower the risk of mental and physical health complications.
Surviving Asia’s 5 most expensive destinations for business travel Employers should also give employees who travel extensively all the support they would need, including training their workers to manage stress better.
Perhaps throw in accommodations that have access to physical activity facilities and healthy food options.
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Would you book a vacation through Amazon or Facebook?

Posted by - June 18, 2018

A STUDY has found that 44 percent of travelers would be comfortable booking a vacation on Amazon if it were to venture into the travel sphere.
The study was conducted by air travel intelligence company OAG to determine which nontraditional technologies and methods travelers would want to use to book and pay for trips.
How tech can shake up turbulence Technology has been a disruptive enabler in the travel industry since online booking platforms such as Booking.com and alternative app-based options such as Airbnb sprung onto the market.
Consumers have become used to fast payments and instant bookings in as little as five clicks on their smartphones.
“Convenience, speed, and customer experience rule the travel ecosystem – and the booking and payment process is no exception,”OAG chief technology officer Mike Benjamin said in a statement.
What do the results say? After surveying 2,164 US-based travelers, OAG discovered 28 percent of people would be comfortable booking through automated chat agents on the website. Another 25 percent said they would let mobile assistants such as Siri and OK Google do the research and book for them.
Another 20 percent said they would be happy to book a whole vacation via text messages and nine percent said they would trust social media messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
Voice automated systems like Google Home also made it onto the nontraditional list with 18 percent of those surveyed saying they would book via IoT (Internet of Things) technology.
Individual technologies aside, OAG asked respondents which nonconventional platforms they would like to use to book trips.
That’s when Amazon shone through with 44 percent of travelers saying they would consider booking a trip with the e-commerce giant.
Facebook also got a worthy mention but only 14 percent said they would consider the social media juggernaut as an option.
“Travelers are already relying on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook for customer service,” Benjamin added.
“While we don’t expect a major shift in the travel booking market overnight, the threat of new startups and major tech players radically simplifying or transforming the experience should not be discounted.”
Drones deployed to help China restore the Great Wall Aside from booking methods, OAG also delved into payment options, with e-wallets making a big splash.
Of those surveyed, 49 percent mentioned PayPal as a payment method for trips and travel-related activities.
Apple Pay and Google Wallet also got a mention as trusted e-wallets.
“All eyes are on the travel booking landscape. Today’s consumers have more channels, technologies, and platforms to book travel through than ever before,” added Benjamin.
The post Would you book a vacation through Amazon or Facebook? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

How Singapore has benefited from the Trump-Kim summit

Posted by - June 15, 2018

SINGAPORE is estimated to have gained over US$500 million in exposure as a result of hosting the Trump-Kim summit, according to media intelligence analyst Meltwater.
The talks on June 12, 2018, between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un edged the world closer to denuclearization.
The negotiation also played an important role in establishing Singapore on the world map.
Take a look inside the Trump-Kim Summit hotel Many people already know Singapore is an island nation near the Malaysian peninsula.
But others, including the press team at the US Department of State, think it’s actually in Malaysia.
Source: US Department of State.
However, thanks to the meeting, millions of people now know where Singapore is, as the query to its whereabouts was the most Googled search on the day.
“It places Singapore on the map for international audiences,” Singapore Tourism Board executive director of communications and marketing capability Oliver Chong told Reuters.
Meltwater estimates the recent focus on Singapore created a 38-fold return with the help from tourism, retail, and media exposure.
But it’s not all profit.
Singapore spent a considerable amount to match the summit requirements.
According to The Straits Times, around US$7.4 million was spent on security for the event which included a no-go zone around Sentosa’s Capella Hotel where the meeting took place.
An additional US$3.7 million was spent on media costs and undisclosed expenses.
However, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told local press on Sunday it’s a cost they are willing to pay and that it’s “for a good cause.”
A post shared by TIMES NOW (@timesnow) on Jun 12, 2018 at 12:48am PDT
While the media exposure value doesn’t translate to cashable money, analysts agree that there’s potential profit to be made in the future from the legacy of the Trump-Kim summit.
Twitter is a significant player in the ongoing buzz following the historic meeting. Approximately four million Trump-Kim related tweets were published between June 1 and June 13 and #TrumpKimSummit is still trending now.
Also, according to The Straits Times, Kim Jong Un’s tour of Marina Bay Sands made the front pages of many newspapers, and the Singapore skyline appeared on many news bulletins, including that of late-night talk show host Trevor Noah.
#TrumpKimSummit: The delightfully Western-Asian fusion lunch menu The exposure could mean a boost in tourism and investments for the nation.
And Singapore Polytechnic retail and marketing lecturer Lucas Tok predicts tourism will grow thanks to the meeting. He told The Straits Times, “usually, after a place has received some traction, visitor numbers tend to go up in the next few months.”
A post shared by USA TODAY (@usatoday) on Jun 9, 2018 at 7:31am PDT
If you’re thinking of visiting Singapore, perhaps you’d want to stay in the now famous Capella Hotel. But you’re still not entirely sure with the tiny island nation is, don’t panic.
Look for the Malaysian peninsula that sticks out of southern Thailand and right at the very bottom is a little red dot; that’s Singapore.
The post How Singapore has benefited from the Trump-Kim summit appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.

Hong Kong-China border: Scan WeChat to cross

Posted by - June 15, 2018

CHINA-OWNED tech giant Tencent Holdings is reportedly working with the country’s authorities for its popular WeChat app to replace travel documents.
This means travelers will simply need to a code on their WeChat app on their smartphones at the Hong Kong-China border.
Why is it a big deal for Taiwan to be listed under China? According to government data, the border between Hong Kong and China is one of the world’s busiest, with more than 230 million travelers crossing land checkpoints in 2016.
Although China, Hong Kong, and Macau are part of the same country, travelers are required to have special permits, similar to visas. Currently, Chinese citizens cross the border with passports and chip-embedded travel cards.
“The vision of the scheme is … allowing people to move freely between Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau with just a mobile phone in the future,” Tencent vice president Jim Lai said.
Using WeChat Pay on a smartphone to make a payment in a restaurant or any other establishment in China is not uncommon. Source: Shutterstock.
For the uninitiated, WeChat is a popular mobile messaging, social media and payments platform. The app currently has 963 million monthly active users, closing in on one billion users, most of them in mainland China.
Should the system, which has been approved by China’s Ministry of Public Security, be greenlit, it would make the app even more powerful.
It sounds simple to implement and do but the state of affairs is more complicated than that.
Hong Kong was never an independent country despite having its own system. Source: Shutterstock.
Hong Kong is a former British colony that was returned to China in 1997, but until today, it’s not entirely under Chinese rule.
The territory has a “one country, two systems” that gives it freedom and sets it apart from China. This includes independent judicial power and law enforcement.
Hong Kong has not immediately responded to Tencent’s proposal, but its Chief Executive Carrie Lam was present during the WeChat scanner demonstration at the border checkpoint.
If the “Scan-WeChat-to-cross-border” system is implemented, WeChat would be one of the most powerful apps of our time. Source: Shutterstock.
There’s also the question of privacy concerns, considering that the scheme required citizens to link their identification documents to their WeChat app.
Tencent CEO Ma Huateng is hopeful that Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau would consider the solution.
However, he didn’t say how far its talks with the Chinese authorities had progressed.
These Asia-Pacific countries are turning on facial recognition technology This is not the first time that Tencent is attempting to streamline traditional identification documents into WeChat.
In January 2018, China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, backed by Tencent, announced that WeChat will replace traditional state-issued social security cards with digital version tied to users’ accounts, allowing government tasks to be performed in the app.
The programme was rolled out in 26 cities, including the southern coastal city of Shenzhen and Xi’an in the country’s northwest
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Would you fly on a windowless plane?

Posted by - June 13, 2018

EMIRATES AIRLINE’S newest fleet of aviation innovation is a windowless plane.
The airliner unveiled the new first class cabin suites on its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which are equipped with virtual windows.
How airlines are preventing human trafficking on flights The standard transparent windows have been replaced with fiber-optic projected images of the outside world.
“Imagine now a fuselage as you’re boarding with no windows, but when you get inside, there are windows,” Emirates president Sir Tim Clark told the BBC.
According to Clark, the images are better than what can be seen with the natural eye.
However, the move to replace the windows isn’t solely for the benefit of the passenger.
The unveiling comes at a time when fuel prices are predicted to rise at the rate of 25 percent by the end of the year.
And fortunately for Emirates, the new design will make planes lighter and cut fuel costs.
“The aircraft is lighter, the aircraft could fly faster, they’ll burn far less fuel and fly higher,” Clark added.
A post shared by Emirates (@emirates) on Jun 4, 2018 at 7:57am PDT
The windowless design also eliminates 94 weak spots in the aircraft where the windows would have previously been.
So in the event of an unlikely crash, the fuselage will be stronger with less chance of breaking up.
“Now you have one fuselage which has no structural weaknesses because of windows.”
Currently, the image projection is only fitted in first class cabins but Emirates plans to roll the innovation out down the aircraft in the future.
But the new design doesn’t come without its disadvantages.
Is Garuda Indonesia’s Eco-Basic ticket right for you? If you’ve ever wondered why window blinds need to be up on take off and landing, it’s so cabin crew can spot an engine fire and know which side to evacuate the plane.
The windowless design won’t give crew this ability to check.
Also, the stifling fear of flying already affects around eight million people in the US and the prospect of clambering into a windowless metal cylinder may instill deeper worry.
However, Emirates is focusing efforts on making those in other classes as comfortable as possible for when the windows are disregarded.
A post shared by Emirates (@emirates) on Mar 4, 2018 at 11:51pm PST
Emirates plans to make its premium economy seats six inches wider than standard economy. It will also offer a private toilet and better food options.
This is to help stem the “leakage” of passengers who want more than a basic experience but can’t afford the luxury, Clark told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
Regardless of which cabin you fly in, most of the time in the sky is spent sleeping, watching movies or perusing the drinks and snacks list. So will anyone really notice the difference between plexiglass windows and projections?
The post Would you fly on a windowless plane? appeared first on Travel Wire Asia.