DayBreakHotels CEO Simon Botto on making luxury hotels “more accessible”

Posted by - October 18, 2018

Now you can enjoy rooms and facilities of luxury hotels for a fraction of the price. Travel tech start-up DayBreakHotels makes it possible for guests to enjoy lavish rooms, spas, swimming pools, and other amenities for a ‘day break’ instead of booking an overnight stay.
This model allows hotels to maximise their capacity and profits by opening up bookings to a new market of ‘staycationers’ during times where rooms are traditionally under-utilised. And, through their integrated system of offering additional services to customers, hotels are able to further the potential for new revenue streams.
The platform is also geared up for the convenience of business travellers needing somewhere to rest and change between meetings or during layovers. Business travellers can book rooms and meeting rooms through the platform.
“We’re opening up the possibilities when it comes to hotel stays”
Co-founder and CEO of DayBreakHotels, Simon Botto, said: “There are so many beautiful hotels around the world with amazing facilities on offer, but most overnight guests are rarely able to enjoy them properly and many others would love to experience the luxury of a hotel stay, but can’t spare the money or the time. With DayBreakHotels, we’re opening up the possibilities when it comes to hotel stays, making these amazing venues far more accessible and attracting a new segment of the market.
“We’ve got a gorgeous selection of venues in the UK already on board and we’re looking forward to welcoming even more hotels into our growing network over the coming months. Through our platform, hotels can make the best use of their rooms during times when they are typically under-utilised in a simple, user-friendly way.”
Inspired by own travels
Before taking over the role as CEO of DayBreakHotels, Simon Botto used to be a professional water polo player, playing for various teams in Italy. Bottom competed in national and European championships, which means he used to travel in the continent for their games.
“While travelling with my water polo team and being frustrated that we had to hang around in hotel lobbies before games when all I wanted was somewhere comfortable to relax for a few hours. It was frustrating knowing that there were floors of empty rooms right above you, but you couldn’t access them without booking a full overnight stay.
“At the same time, when I was travelling as an M&A lawyer and staying in luxury hotels, I never really took full advantage of the hotels’ facilities as I was working long hours and, thus, I would generally check-in late at night and check-out early in the morning. From this realisation, the idea of our travel tech platform was born,” Simon said in an exclusive interview with TD.
Maximising profits
Using blue ocean strategy, DayBreakHotels are helping businesses, corporate travellers, and consumers with their platform. It is inevitable for hotels to have empty rooms, especially during the off-season. Why not offer those rooms to guests who want to use it for a few hours? “Hotels across the world are suffering from poor utilisation of their facilities, with the vast majority of rooms empty and unused throughout the day. We wanted to solve the issue of under-utilised rooms, helping hoteliers get more out of their assets,” Simon says.
“Hotels may get (1) entry into a new market with low competition, (2) obtain incremental revenue from the sale of both day rooms and other services, which go directly to their profit line, (3) acquire new customers from outside of the traditional night hotel industry and gather more visibility,” he adds.
Day rooms are available between 9am and 12pm, with users able to save up to 75% on a room or service’s usual cost. Overnight rooms can also be booked between 10pm and 6am. Other facilities such as pools, spas and restaurants can be booked independently, or in addition to a day use room.
Bleisure travellers and staycationers Business and bleisure travellers may find DayBreakHotels quite useful. Most people travelling for business cannot fully enjoy the amenities that their booking entails. DayBreakHotels enables people to book hotels either for day use or overnight stay only. This could be an option that travel managers and travellers can look into to make the budget leaner.
“In addition, they can also easily transform hotels into perfect temporary offices, with a day room to work, relax, freshen up and use all the rest of the hotel facilities (restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, business centre) to be used to meet customers, business partners etc. And all this at a cheaper rate than a temporary office, where what you get is generally just a desk, a chair and a wifi password. With hotels under pressure from a range of challenger offerings, this kind of innovative approach to their services is exactly what the sector needs,” Simon adds.
Lastly, DayBreakHotels opens the doors of luxury hotels to a wider consumer base for allowing them to book rooms and amenities for a limited time of the day such as an office worker wanting to go for a spa treatment or a swim on a weekend.
“We also wanted to help people realise that hotels offer much more than overnight accommodation. They’re home to fantastic amenities, perfect for a relaxing day-break away from the stresses of everyday life.”
Worldwide expansion Starting humbly in Italy, DayBreakHotels managed to expand its listings in most of Europe, North and South America. In just five years, the company has established a presence in cities across the UK, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, the United States, Switzerland, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, UAE and Russia. Simon assured that DayBreakHotels has no plans of slowing down.
Simon Botto, CEO of DayBreakHotels“It’s been a phenomenal journey and we’ve got no plans of slowing down, so the rest of the world is definitely in our sights…We want to be expanding our presence even further across the world. As to which countries this will entail, you’ll have to wait and see,” he says.
In the next six months, this travel tech start-up aims to pump up its portfolio with listings in the UK, branching out to more cities across the country and becoming Brits’ go-to site for booking a ‘day-cation’.
Simon also revealed how they will achieve these plans. “We’re investing in as many opportunities as possible. We’re utilising social media platforms, advertising, press opportunities, to get DayBreakHotels even more well-known.”
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10 most Instagram worthy travel experiences: How many have you done?

Posted by - October 18, 2018

Instagram makes it easier for us to relive some of our favourite travel experiences. Food, friends, sun, and sand – our adventures captured in a photo and saved in a digital shared space.
Studies claimed that millennials are more willing to spend on experiences than buying souvenirs or luxury items. These experiences are treated as social currency. Therefore, the more unusual the experience, the better.
A different survey revealed that 97% of millennial travellers post on social networks and share experiences while travelling.
Experienced marketplace Klook unveils the 10 most photographed travel experiences this year. Klook’s list of most photographed travel experiences is based on data from their Asia activities. They analyzed activities with the highest ratio of photo reviews between January and September 2018.
Let’s play a game and see how many have you checked.
10 – Aqua Luna Evening Sail in Hong Kong
As one of Hong Kong’s last remaining traditional junk boats, the red-sailed Aqua Luna offers unique angles of the skyline as it cruises around the harbour.
9 – Wearing Hanbok in Seoul
Kpop fans flock to South Korea’s capital and wear the traditional Korean clothing as worn during celebrations, it is a must.
8 – Sompong Thai Cooking Class in Bangkok
Located in Silom, guests get to visit local markets to hand-pick their own ingredients, all the while learning about the city’s culinary history.
7 – Day Trip to Jiufen in North Taipei
From Yehliu Geopark to hillside teahouses and the quaint village of Jiufen that inspired the classic animated film Spirited Away.
6 – Forbidden City in Beijing
Specifically, hall of Supreme Harmony with its imperial architecture, the imposing building is best captured in the early morning before the crowds roll in. The popular landmark has a daily quota of 80,000 people.
5 – Kayaking in Sai Kung
This UNESCO-listed park is home to towering mountains, clear water, and rugged adventures like the bell-shaped caves of Jin Island. Easily accessible from the frenetic city, this island-hopping outing offers a dramatic contrast to the usual ultra-urban Hong Kong travel experience.
4 – Elephant Day Care at Chiang Mai Mountain Sanctuary
Get up-close and personal with these gentle giants. Among the many activities, visitors will learn how to bathe, feed and groom the elephants.
3 – Banteay Chhmar in Cambodia
A hidden gem in northwestern Cambodia, the mesmerizing “Citadel of Cats” temple complex has been described as one of the country’s most beautiful forgotten Khmer ruins.
2 – Seaside Day Tour in Kyoto
Multiple Instagram-worthy sites such as such as the pine-covered Amanohashidate sandbar, Ine no Funaya dock houses, and Miyama Kayabuki-no-Sato farmhouses.
1 – Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) Tour in Seoul
Looks dangerous? This travel experience is Instagram gold. The DMZ’s popularity taps into a growing trend toward experiential, historic and culture-driven travel around the region. With this experience, travellers can glean historical insight into the region’s turbulent past and peer across the 38th parallel into mysterious North Korea from atop the Dora Observatory.
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Revinate connects with hotels globally via SiteMinder Exchange

Posted by - October 18, 2018

Revinate has announced a partnership with the global hotel cloud platform, SiteMinder, to connect with SiteMinder Exchange.
Revinate, a software company that helps hoteliers transform their guest data into revenue, announced its partnership with the cloud platform, SiteMinder, as the latest hotel application to connect into SiteMinder Exchange.
Through the partnership, Revinate Marketing will be accessible to a variety of property management systems (PMS) integrated into SiteMinder Exchange — a solution for connectivity problems in hotel PMSs and hotel applications.
“To more easily take advantage of our Marketing service”
According to Dan Hang, the chief product officer at Revinate: “This partnership with SiteMinder enables thousands of hotels to more easily take advantage of our Marketing service, thereby driving more direct revenue.”
The connection will allow Revinate to broaden its addressable market, expedite its speed to market, and increase adoption of its Marketing service among hotels globally.
[embedded content]
Since launching the platform in June this year, SiteMinder Exchange has already attracted nearly 100 publisher (PMS) and hotel application partners, with dozens more in development. It’s designed to address the connectivity challenge for developers of hospitality systems — acting as a data layer that sits between and connects hotel PMSs and applications, ranging from CRMs to upselling tools, revenue management systems and guest messaging.
“The guest data they need”
SiteMinder’s SVP global partnerships, Dai Williams, added: “We are excited to partner with Revinate, a brand known and trusted by hoteliers all around the world. Through SiteMinder Exchange, many more hotels can now use Revinate’s proven solution to access the guest data they need for today’s sophisticated marketing programs and, in turn, drive revenue from targeted email campaigns.”
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Desperate times, desperate measures: Shift in Indian airlines’ GDS providers

Posted by - October 17, 2018

Travelport recently bagged contracts of India’s state-owned Air India and one of India’s premier airlines, Jet Airways, as exclusive ticket-distribution service provider and content provider in the country, respectively.
While the contracts will not come into effect any time soon, it has created ripples in the industry. Here’s how:
Reeling from high fuel costs, a falling rupee and stiff competition; financially stressed full-service airlines in India have reasons to slash their sales and distribution costs by renegotiating contracts, even while such measures may compromise their market reach.
The Air India-Travelport agreement will come into effect from January 2020 but as the struggling carrier tries to cut costs, contract revision with its suppliers such as aircraft lessors and engine makers, and providers of global distribution systems (GDS), are reportedly on the cards.
An Air India official told local media that the deal can help them reduce distribution cost by almost 60% and they aim to capitalise on the increased share of domestic bookings that comes directly through the airline’s website.

In addition to Travelport’s renewed contract and terms with Jet Airways, technology provider Sabre, too, today announced a renewed, full-content, distribution agreement with Jet Airways. Effective April 2019, Sabre’s extended agreement with Jet Airways provides Sabre-connected agents across India and the world a path to access the full content of Jet Airways into year 2024.
Jet Airways seems to be working on a deal to limit its GDS presence to only two platforms — Travelport and Sabre. It would reportedly result in the airline saving close to USD 50 million in distribution costs. However, no comment was received from Jet Airways confirming the same.
Penny pinching Unlike low-cost airlines, Air India and Jet Airways rely on GDS providers such as Amadeus, Travelport and Sabre for distribution in India and abroad for a segment fee for every booking. It shares a portion of it with travel agents, thus increasing costs for airlines. In 2017-18 IndiGo’s sales and distribution costs were INR 7.81 billion; Jet Airways spent INR 28.2 billion.
Amadeus has the largest number of travel agents and market share of more than 40% in India and these renegotiated terms will mean offerings of these airlines will be unavailable to travel agents who use Amadeus. The move may risk both these large carriers in India and their consolidated contracts for both domestic and international bookings with Amadeus thus losing access to a big booking channel.
“Committed to the Indian market”
Travelport seems keen to use this opportunity to amplify its market share in India and an unnamed spokesperson from Travelport reiterated: “As a business policy, Travelport does not comment on the commercial details of agreements and partnerships. As the only such platform that has content from India’s top airlines – Air India, Jet and Indigo – we are committed to the Indian market and continue to work hard to create value for all our local partners.”
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“Watch this space as it’s going to be world news” Says Ri-Yaz CEO, Andreas Rud

Posted by - October 17, 2018

With the opening of Dash Langkawi (main picture) in April this year, I hot footed it over to the Malaysian island paradise to catch up with Andreas Rud, CEO of Dash parent company Ri-Yaz Hotels and Resorts — owners of the Dash, The Pure, Tan’YAA and Altara Suites brands. Sitting by the pool, just a couple of metres from the white sand and the warm waters of the Andaman Sea, the charming hotelier and I discussed partnerships, staff training and retention and more.
We started our chat with a brief history of how the former corporate man came to be the CEO of a freewheeling, independent minded operation like Ri-Yaz and Andreas regaled me with stories of how he first met Ri-Yaz’s company founder, Shaheen Shah in 2000, when he first arrived in Malaysia.
Andreas RudHitting it off, the two young bucks built a relationship and collaborated on a couple of projects together including a Gourmet Safaris in Putrajaya. But not long before Andreas was off to Vietnam and making his way up the Starwood ladder and the friends lost touch.
In 2011 they reconnected at an awards do in Singapore, in that time Shaheen had gone on to set up Ri-Yaz in 2008 and Andreas had become a shining light at Starwood. Both had become very successful, but for Andreas something was missing, and when he returned to Vietnam to open the concept of Shaheen’s new company became intriguing: “I felt I liked this idea, to create a something new, something different – something unique.”
I had lost that sense of freedom in my role at Starwood, I was becoming a box ticker, a SOP (standard operational procedure) enforcer, and I was on the edge of becoming something I did not want to become.
Then, after opening the Sheraton Grande in Jakarta (the first Grande in SE Asia) Andreas returned to Malaysia and following a stint as an independent consultant, he eventually went full time with Ri-Yaz.
[embedded content]
TD: You guys have been busy in the last few months, purchasing a bunch of properties at almost Accor’s level.
AR: Yes, in just one a half years we have grown very rapidly, with 18 hotels — six operating and 12 in the pipeline, pretty much one a month.
What do you look for in partners?
We have a lot of people that come to us and say “We want something different” By the time they speak to us they have often already spoken to “super brands”, seen their field matrices and are not convinced that they can help them.
These hotels are often looking for strong local knowledge, incidentally this is why we are growing so much in Vietnam as I was there for nine years and know the country very well. For example we have just signed a deal with a partner to open more than ten Anantara suites in Vietnam – this is the same owner who also has eight properties run by Marriott and six with InterContinental – so you can see how that is different.

What we look for is an owner who doesn’t want a cookie-cutter hotel, we don’t want a beige average type hotel, When you look at the rooms here, they still have all the essential components and we still believe bed bathroom and breakfast are vital to a hotel but we do things a bit differently, for example here in dash we have a breakfast but it’s all a la carte and not buffet. We also create our own furniture, so everything you see here is done by Ri-Yaz, we have designers in our office in KL, and this covers all aspects from sofas, reception booths to even the site’s objet d’art.
How do you find, train and hold onto your hotel staff?
I really feel we are unique. I don’t want my people to feel how I did when I started out, when you are working for someone but have no influence on the business. So on top of the usual suspects used in staff evaluations, KPIs (key performance indicators) etc., we have created our own staff training college in KL. One where they can actually go and learn. For example, if you win ‘Employee of the month’ or ‘Manager of the Year’, we will give you options of a couple of courses to add to your career.
“We want our staff to make the most of their interests”
Also we want our staff to make the most of their interests, if you work in the lobby but you are passionate about photography, we can say to you, why don’t you go to the college where you can study food photography for two weeks. But we don’t do short one day or two day course; we want you to really gain knowledge.
This adds value for us as well; if you complete the course go back to the hotel and the chef needs to some food images done – guess who they ask? It saves us time and money.
That’s very heart-warming to hear you care about the staff development in this way. Any other ways you enhance your employees?
We also do peer audits of our properties, where we might send an assistant manager (not a director etc.) from a property to another one of our hotels to take a look how they do things differently. So they go with a different point of view to that of a director, this gives them a real voice within the company. In turn, once they have completed a peer audit and have received all this respect from the GM, when it’s their turn to host a peer audit they know what’s going to happen. It creates a lot of connectivity through the company.
The Villa at Dash, LangkawiTell me about snap training?
This is one of our signatures, it’s our way of serving back to basics standards, ‘make it snappy’. Guest frustration comes when you take too long. For example if you order burger and you wait for a long time, and when it does arrive it’s not a burger but a well-done steak then that leaves a bad impression.
What these guys do, is if they don’t understand an order or have a question, instead of being embarrassed they will go direct to the customer and ask questions to make sure they get it right.

As a growing brand, you must have some interesting happenings on the horizon, what can we expect from you in the future?
We are working something with Tan’YAA, which will really surprise the world market.
That’s a lofty boast, what makes you say that?
I think the super brands are too cautious and the designers who work for them are equally cautious too because they don’t want to lose a two million dollar contract. Let’s just say it is inspiring to work with a brand that is trying to build something. And with Tan’YAA, we are going in a very unique, very luxurious direction. Watch this space as it’s going to be world news.
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“Watch this space as it’s going to be world news” Says Ri-Yaz COO, Andreas Rud

Posted by - October 17, 2018

With the opening of Dash Langkawi (main picture) in April this year, I hot footed it over to the Malaysian island paradise to catch up with Andreas Rud, COO of Dash parent company Ri-Yaz Hotels and Resorts — owners of the Dash, The Pure, Tan’YAA and Altara Suites brands. Sitting by the pool, just a couple of metres from the white sand and the warm waters of the Andaman Sea, the charming hotelier and I discussed partnerships, staff training and retention and more.
We started our chat with a brief history of how the former corporate man came to be the COO of a freewheeling, independent minded operation like Ri-Yaz and Andreas regaled me with stories of how he first met Ri-Yaz’s company founder, Shaheen Shah in 2000, when he first arrived in Malaysia.
Andreas RudHitting it off, the two young bucks built a relationship and collaborated on a couple of projects together including a Gourmet Safaris in Putrajaya. But not long before Andreas was off to Vietnam and making his way up the Starwood ladder and the friends lost touch.
In 2011 they reconnected at an awards do in Singapore, in that time Shaheen had gone on to set up Ri-Yaz in 2008 and Andreas had become a shining light at Starwood. Both had become very successful, but for Andreas something was missing, and when he returned to Vietnam to open the concept of Shaheen’s new company became intriguing: “I felt I liked this idea, to create a something new, something different – something unique.”
I had lost that sense of freedom in my role at Starwood, I was becoming a box ticker, a SOP (standard operational procedure) enforcer, and I was on the edge of becoming something I did not want to become.
Then, after opening the Sheraton Grande in Jakarta (the first Grande in SE Asia) Andreas returned to Malaysia and following a stint as an independent consultant, he eventually went full time with Ri-Yaz.
[embedded content]
TD: You guys have been busy in the last few months, purchasing a bunch of properties at almost Accor’s level.
AR: Yes, in just one a half years we have grown very rapidly, with 18 hotels — six operating and 12 in the pipeline, pretty much one a month.
What do you look for in partners?
We have a lot of people that come to us and say “We want something different” By the time they speak to us they have often already spoken to “super brands”, seen their field matrices and are not convinced that they can help them.
These hotels are often looking for strong local knowledge, incidentally this is why we are growing so much in Vietnam as I was there for nine years and know the country very well. For example we have just signed a deal with a partner to open more than ten Anantara suites in Vietnam – this is the same owner who also has eight properties run by Marriott and six with InterContinental – so you can see how that is different.

What we look for is an owner who doesn’t want a cookie-cutter hotel, we don’t want a beige average type hotel, When you look at the rooms here, they still have all the essential components and we still believe bed bathroom and breakfast are vital to a hotel but we do things a bit differently, for example here in dash we have a breakfast but it’s all a la carte and not buffet. We also create our own furniture, so everything you see here is done by Ri-Yaz, we have designers in our office in KL, and this covers all aspects from sofas, reception booths to even the site’s objet d’art.
How do you find, train and hold onto your hotel staff?
I really feel we are unique. I don’t want my people to feel how I did when I started out, when you are working for someone but have no influence on the business. So on top of the usual suspects used in staff evaluations, KPIs (key performance indicators) etc., we have created our own staff training college in KL. One where they can actually go and learn. For example, if you win ‘Employee of the month’ or ‘Manager of the Year’, we will give you options of a couple of courses to add to your career.
“We want our staff to make the most of their interests”
Also we want our staff to make the most of their interests, if you work in the lobby but you are passionate about photography, we can say to you, why don’t you go to the college where you can study food photography for two weeks. But we don’t do short one day or two day course; we want you to really gain knowledge.
This adds value for us as well; if you complete the course go back to the hotel and the chef needs to some food images done – guess who they ask? It saves us time and money.
That’s very heart-warming to hear you care about the staff development in this way. Any other ways you enhance your employees?
We also do peer audits of our properties, where we might send an assistant manager (not a director etc.) from a property to another one of our hotels to take a look how they do things differently. So they go with a different point of view to that of a director, this gives them a real voice within the company. In turn, once they have completed a peer audit and have received all this respect from the GM, when it’s their turn to host a peer audit they know what’s going to happen. It creates a lot of connectivity through the company.
The Villa at Dash, LangkawiTell me about snap training?
This is one of our signatures, it’s our way of serving back to basics standards, ‘make it snappy’. Guest frustration comes when you take too long. For example if you order burger and you wait for a long time, and when it does arrive it’s not a burger but a well-done steak then that leaves a bad impression.
What these guys do, is if they don’t understand an order or have a question, instead of being embarrassed they will go direct to the customer and ask questions to make sure they get it right.

As a growing brand, you must have some interesting happenings on the horizon, what can we expect from you in the future?
We are working something with Tan’YAA, which will really surprise the world market.
That’s a lofty boast, what makes you say that?
I think the super brands are too cautious and the designers who work for them are equally cautious too because they don’t want to lose a two million dollar contract. Let’s just say it is inspiring to work with a brand that is trying to build something. And with Tan’YAA, we are going in a very unique, very luxurious direction. Watch this space as it’s going to be world news.
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Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul, reopens after refurb

Posted by - October 17, 2018

The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul has announced the completion of a USD 8.5-million renovation. The newly refurbished guestrooms, suites and meeting facilities have been redesigned by architects and artists to reflect the essence and historical elements of the city, with new amenities providing a modern touch necessary for today’s and next generation of affluent travellers. “Embrace the heritage of the city”
“The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul is a magnificent hotel,” says Nicolas Kipper, General Manager. “Our mission for this important project was to embrace the heritage of the city and marry it with a contemporary spirit to create a beautiful combination of the East and West influences that are found in Istanbul.”
Portuguese designer Patricia Pina undertook the interior design of the guestrooms and suites, whilst the meeting spaces were re-imagined by well-known Turkish architect, Hakan Yürüoğlu. Under Pina’s directions, the 243 guestrooms and 43 suites have been renovated to reflect a design concept created around the Ottoman Empire and the rich culture of Istanbul.
Gold and copper hues are combined with layers of colours, whilst wall panels feature intricate works of cobalt blue Anatolian ceramic, velvet and silk fabrics act as headboards in all renovated rooms, reflecting both air and earth in their design.
Each guestroom is decorated with pieces from Turkish artists, including artwork “At Nağme” by Süleyman Saim Tekcan, a representative of Turkish Gravure Art. Glazed replicas of ancient coins from the reign of Selim III, the reformed-minded Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, also stand out in the guestrooms and suites.
In addition to the guestrooms and suites, meeting facilities have also undergone a transformation. The most significant change is in The Ballroom. Here, staggered wall panelling reflects a contemporary take on Bosphorus’ waves, whilst a lilac colouring in the flooring and majestic crystal chandeliers are inspired by the indigenous flowers of Istanbul.
Guests staying at The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul will continue to enjoy enriching dining and revitalising experiences at the hotel. Paying homage to Istanbul’s booming gastronomic scene, The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul’s Atelier Real Food Restaurant offers a menu inspired by contemporary world cuisine and the finest dishes of the Ottoman palace.
The Lobby Lounge is the perfect spot for an afternoon tea and Bleu Lounge Terrace for cocktails offering unrivalled views of the Bosphorus. The hotel also features a wellness centre, featuring a rich menu of facial and total body treatments, an indoor pool and an authentic Turkish Hammam. A rarity in the city, the hotel is the only property to offer an open-air spa with treatments overlooking the Bosphorus.
For more information about The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul please visit www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/europe/istanbul.
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Viking Cruises finds British ‘age of contentment’

Posted by - October 17, 2018

A survey by Viking Cruises has revealed that life is a breeze once you reach the age of 44. The turning point in our lives was identified following a detailed study carried out by Viking Cruises to mark a major milestone of its own – the brand’s 21st anniversary – which pinpointed the reasons why we begin to enjoy life even more at this stage.
After struggling to get on the property ladder and establish our careers in our 20s and 30s, research has revealed we start to relax and enjoy the finer things in life from our mid-40s onwards. And the good news is that the ‘window of contentment’ continues all the way through our 50s, early to mid 60s and beyond.

Catalysts include being financially secure, being fit and healthy and being safe in the knowledge that children are doing well in their chosen careers. Other key elements include having a settled home life, being in stable, happy relationships and being “comfortable in their own skin”. “Younger, more curious, active version of the previous incarnation”
A spokesperson for Viking Cruises, which commissioned the research of 2,000 adults aged 55 plus, said: “This generation of 40-, 50- and 60-year-olds plus is different to previous generations. They are essentially a younger, more curious, active version of the previous incarnation. They are not willing to spend their days sitting on the sofa with a pipe and slippers, they have vim and vigour and want to get the most they can from life in their 50s and 60s.
“Favourite hobbies of today’s over-55s do of course include things you might expect such as gardening and baking. But they are also enjoying hobbies typically associated with younger people such as DIY, photography and even playing videogames. Life’s tapestry is richer now for those polled than it ever has been.
“We see this in our guests on both our river and ocean ships on a daily basis which is why we were interested in whether they reflect trends across the broader population. Viking guests are all curious about the world and interested in learning more about different aspects of history, art and music as well as exploring new destinations and connecting with diverse cultures.”
The challenge of youth The study also identified typical challenges faced during our 20s – including finding work, saving money, dating and dealing with breakups. It didn’t get any easier once we turned 30 with work stress caused by our attempts to get a foothold in a career, and the financial and emotional pressure that comes with starting a family.
According to the research, trying to find work-life balance, ageing relatives and having to start planning for the future plagued our early 40s. But from then on in life, things start to settle down as we climb the corporate ladder, our salaries rise and we possibly move to a second, or even third, larger property.
Financial freedom, being debt free and having enough self-confidence not to worry about what other people think of us also adds to our feeling of contentment.
Having a solid group of friends, being able to say no without worrying and having a sensible retirement plan are also likely to give us peace of mind as we enter our 60s, according to the study.
Reasons to be happy Overall the research carried out through OnePoll showed 82% of those polled now felt ‘content’. Retirement (51%) and having more time to travel (29%) are among the reasons why.
Other positive aspects include spending time with the grandchildren (40%) and having the mortgage fully paid off (43%). Having time to write, cycle and go to the cinema are other popular activities among those aged 55 plus.
As for what they spend their money on, top of the list are holidays, followed by treating the grandchildren and dining out. It also emerged 28% have been on a cruise – and of those who haven’t, more than a quarter would like to go on one in the future. Almost seven in 10 said they wished they had seen more of the world than they currently had.
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ITB Asia: Why artificial intelligence in corporate travel is like teenage sex

Posted by - October 17, 2018

Today TD’s CEO Brett Henry, joined by Ken Kuguru from Egencia and Samantha Williams from Travelport, took to the stage at ITB Asia to discuss how artificial intelligence, (AI), machine-based learning (MBL) and big data will affect corporate travel in the years to come.
Setting the tone straight away, Henry said that “AI is like teenage sex – everyone’s talking about it but no-one’s doing it.” (For some reason, the brand Virgin Holidays came to mind…)
The crowd seemed to agree – I’ve only been at the event four hours now and I’ve already heard the phrase “AI and big data” about 14 times without anyone wanting to say anything more than a passing mention of what it might be able to do.
So, wanting to buck that trend, Henry promised the talk would be “pragmatic rather than abstract” and set off straight away with some real-world examples of uses of the internet – including a photo of his Nana’s list of her favourite websites (albeit written down entirely in a notebook!).
The next big thing Henry asked Sam Williams, Singapore-based regional director – corporate sales and global account management Asia Pacific at Travelport, about her thoughts on the next big trend.
Her stance was that blockchain will be used in corporate travel programmes to drive loyalty – something which only two people in the crowd had experienced this far. It seems that the concept of attracting and retaining is on the rise, especially among younger people, but it’s nowhere near the top.
“One platform or one database – one source of truth”
Ken Kuguru, managing director APAC at Egencia (Expedia Group) and now based in Singapore, took a different tack to address which buzzwords to seemed to have died in the last few years – for example, gamification. But he noted that simplification – the creation of “one platform or one database – one source of truth” whether offline online will be the development for 2019
Uses of AI “40% of Singaporeans – and Elon Musk – believe AI will be bring about the end of the world!” started Kuguru, bleakly. However, with a 90% online adoption for corporate travellers for Egencia, there are very clear advantages of AI, too (you know, before the apocalypse tears apart civilisation).
“We learn your preferences: where you want to stay, what you like to do, where you sit on the plane,” Kuguru explained. Williams continued, saying with AI now becoming mainstream (AI is not that new; IBM’s Watson is now seven years old) and more accessible, the capacity for prediction analytics, forecasts for expense management, budgets and volume “from tomorrow onwards to annual figures” would make our lives easier.
Big data and AI
“40 zetabytes worth of data – that’s four millions years of HD video is now available to us,” started Williams. “There’s so much we don’t know what to do with it.” However, in-keeping with the TD trend of creating actionable insights she continued that “bringing data to the screen and understanding the traveller” should be the main focus of big data specialists. Analytics studios will not only be able to pull out what managers need and show in a smart interactive way, but the way it is displayed will self-improves as users interact and show the machine that “I don’t need that view… I need that view.”
Does tech drive policy or vice versa? Williams surprised the audience when she told us that 60% of travel industry job applicants ask about a company’s travel policy in interviews. Kuguru agreed and noted that “a few years ago, I would say policy comes first. However now, we’re at the stage tech is strong enough to drive policy” and this is not necessarily a bad thing.
For example, before four layers of approval were required before booking corporate travel. Now tech allows just one of two layers – ” techs reduce the red tape; let it evolve policy,” Kuguru suggested.
The panel also agreed that, when trying to engage millennials – the “Expedia generation who are used to booking their own travel online”, why not have that for corporate travel and let them fix their own plans.
“90% of business travellers enjoy travel,” Kuguru said, on the proviso we can do it how we like, “And 60% don’t miss their spouse!’
The impact on people Following a longstanding concept in travel that tech reduces costs and the need for humans to do basic admin functions automated, the panel agreed that our roles can transition to organisational function for staff retention and value add.
More importantly, this extra leeway should give companies the chance to pigeonhole corporate travel more accurately – “many organisation don’t have specialist corporate travel departments; sometimes it might fall under procurement,” noted Williams.
“The actual idea of a travel policy becomes minimal – and that would be cool”
On a closing note about putting things in their right place, Kuguru closed by saying that AI will ultimately let us to police ourselves – something that blockchain with its immutable ledger will ensure.
Instead of needing a governing body, payments via Bitcoin and the like will keep everyone accountable: “When we are self-governing, the actual idea of a travel policy becomes minimal – and that would be cool,” Kuguru concluded.
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