Airbnb seeing success with business travellers

Airbnb website screenshot

AirBnb seeing success with business travellers

Nearly 18,000 companies are signing up each week to the business travel ready programme

AirBnB is seeing increasing success with business travellers says Airbnb’s Global Head of Business Travel, David Holyoke. Mr Holyoke said that 10 percent of trips on Airbnb are now for work and in 2016, the number of business trips tripled.

“We now have a milestone passed of 250,000 companies now using Airbnb for business travel and nearly 18,000 new companies are signing each week.”

Mr Holyoke also said that because of the lines between leisure and business blurring, 50 percent of business trips on AirBnB included a Saturday night.

The company has had many challenges to overcome, some of which Holyoke admits are still in front of it. Like uber, the company faces pushback from regulatory authorities who are examining everything from A to B. IN addition business travellers, and often the travel managers or companies responsible for booking their accommodation, are wary of the lack of safety around unlicensed properties.

Recognising these concerns Airbnb created a business travel ready listings – accommodation with basic needs provided such as free wifi, laptop-friendly workspaces and self check-in. There is also a new search and booking filter so that business travellers can filter search results to only show business travel ready listings. The filter also allows search results to highlight listings with self check-in — where guests can access listings using a key lockbox, smartlock, keypad, or doorman any time after the designated check-in time on their arrival date.

Addressing the need for accurate management information on the employer side, Airbnb launched a third-party booking tool so both the employee who is managing travel and the employee who is taking the trip can book, make changes to the reservation, and message the Airbnb host with questions about the listing or neighbourhood. We introduced business-friendly receipts – streamlining the expense process – and kicked off integrations and partnerships with travel management companies (TMCs) and duty of care providers

 

 

 

Bobby Moore unveiled as Norwegian’s latest tail fin hero

Norwegian Bobby Moore tail fin

Norwegian has unveiled the latest in its series of British tail fin heroes, with Bobby Moore OBE set to feature on one of its B737-800 aircraft.

The late English footballer will be the fourth “hero” to be depicted on one of the low-cost carrier’s aircraft, following author Roald Dahl, pioneering pilot Amy Johnson, and aviation entrepreneur Sir Freddie Laker.

The news co-incides with this year’s Football Shirt Friday, a fundraising initiative that helps fund life-saving research into bowel cancer, by encouraging people to wear their favourite football shirt and donate £2 to the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK.

Bobby’s widow Stephanie Moore MBE, said:

“This is such a wonderful way to remember Bobby and to mark Football Shirt Friday. We want to see the whole nation wear their team’s colours with pride today and believe that together we can and will beat bowel cancer.

“We have made enormous progress in the last 50 years but sadly bowel cancer still kills 44 people in the UK every day. By joining forces, raising funds and channelling that unbreakable spirit of a football fan to support the Bobby Moore Fund, we can all help bring forward the day when bowel cancer is cured.”

This week Norwegian announced its first quarter 2017 results, with a 14 per cent increase in passengers over the period, but a loss of 1.5 billion Norwegian krone (£136m). The carrier cited higher fuel costs, a stronger krone, and a later Easter for the figures, which compared to a loss of 800 million krone in the first quarter of 2016.

norwegian.com

American Airlines set for Heathrow expansion?

Dreamliner

American Airlines has confirmed it was behind the recent purchase of two slot pairs at Heathrow airport from Scandinavian Airlines.

Last month we reported that SAS had sold two pairs of slots at the airport for the sum of US$75 million.

At the time the purchasing airline was not disclosed, but a line in AA’s first-quarter 2017 results, published yesterday, confirms that the carrier “Entered into an arrangement with Scandinavian Airlines to obtain two slot pairs at London’s Heathrow Airport, strengthening American’s presence at a key international gateway for American and joint business partner British Airways”.

AA’s president Robert Isom said that the carrier “moved quickly on the opportunity to add two new slot pairs at Heathrow, which we will use to improve service to and from one of the world’s most important business markets”.

Note that under the terms of the purchase agreement, SAS is allowed to use both slot pairs for up to three years, so it may be a while before travellers see any increase in American Airlines routes or frequencies at Heathrow.

In 2015 SAS received the sum of US$60 million when it sold a single slot pair to an unnamed carrier (also believed to have been American Airlines).

Other highlights of the AA’s first quarter results include:

  • A first-quarter pre-tax profit of US365 million
  • The deferral of the first of the carrier’s A350 aircraft from 2018 to 2020
  • An agreement to increase hourly base pay for crew
  • The launch of Basic Economy on ten routes
  • The launch of premium economy on selected international routes, for travel from May 4
  • The introduction of a simplified boarding process, using “intuitive group numbers to streamline and speed up the boarding process and improve the experience for customers”
  • The delivery of 17 mainline and five regional aircraft during the quarter

aa.com

Emirates’ Melbourne service to go all A380

Emirates A380

Emirates’ Dubai-Melbourne route is set to go all A380 next Spring when the airline will replace flight EK408/EK409’s B777-300ER with the higher-capacity Airbus.

The upgrade to the A380 is planned to come into effect from March 25, 2018 at which point the route will gain an additional 945 seats per week. The upgrade is set to complement Qantas’ upcoming Melbourne-Perth-London “Kangaroo Route” – set to launch on March 24 and for which tickets went on sale on Thursday – in providing a greater number of options between Australia and Europe.

Travellers on Emirates’ Melbourne upgraded route will also be able to have “A380 to A380” connections with 18 other destinations in the UK and Europe from Dubai – good news for fans of the aircraft.

Emirates configures its A380 with 489 seats, including 14 private first class suites, 76 fully flat business class seats and 399 economy seats. First and business class passengers can also have access to the Onboard Lounge on the upper deck – which Emirates announced earlier this year that it would be revamping.

Emirates’ announcement comes as fellow Middle-Eastern carrier Etihad looks to remove the aircraft from its own services to Melbourne from Abu Dhabi starting this October, and instead making its twice-daily Sydney service all A380.

According to routesonline.com, Etihad’s winter schedule from October 29 will see a capacity drop of nearly 200 seats on its Abu Dhabi-Melbourne service when it downgrades both of its Melbourne flights to smaller aircraft.

emirates.com

China Southern places A350 order

China Southern A350

China Southern has ordered 20 Airbus A350-900s, becoming the 45th carrier to purchase the wide-bodied aircraft.

According to the aircraft manufacturer China Southern already operates “one of the largest Airbus fleet in the world”, with more than 300 Airbus aircraft in service, comprising the A320 Family, the A330 Family and five A380 superjumbos.

Commenting on the order Tan Wangeng, president of China Southern Airlines said:

“With its very long range capability, economic fuel consumption and spacious cabin, the A350 XWB is the ideal choice for our international long haul routes. The introduction of the A350 XWB will help to strengthen our position as one of the world’s leading international carriers.”

Airbus says it now has 841 orders for the A350, across 45 customers.

China Southern recently announced plans to increase the frequency of its Heathrow-Guangzhou route to twice daily from June 1. This route is operated by Boeing B787 Dreamliner aircraft.

The carrier also confirmed a codeshare agreement with American Airlines last month, following AA’s commitment of a US$200 million equity investment in the the Chinese airline.

csair.com/en

SpiceJet offers visa services to Dubai

SpiceJet

SpiceJet introduces single-entry visa services for its passengers travelling to Dubai. The service is offered in association with Cozmo Travel World, an Indian travel agency.

SpiceJet’s passengers flying out and back to any destination on the airline’s Indian network can avail of this service.

The budget carrier provides two types of visas to its passengers; a 14 day tourist visa or a 30 day tourist visa. Inaugural fares for this visa service begin at ₹5,412 per person. It is non transferable and non-extendable.

“Exploring innovative and sustainable means to enhance customer delight has always been a prerogative for SpiceJet. While we have evolved immensely as a brand, services as these will help us get closer towards establishing a one Stop Shop citizen-centric service delivery model while enhancing the customer’s travel experience,” says Shilpa Bhatia, vice president of commercial at SpiceJet.

spicejet.com

Netra Venkateshwaran

SpiceJet introduces single-entry visa services for its passengers travelling to Dubai. The service is offered in association with Cozmo Travel World, an Indian travel agency.

SpiceJet’s passengers flying out and back to any destination on the airline’s Indian network can avail of this service.

The budget carrier provides two types of visas to its passengers; a 14 day tourist visa or a 30 day tourist visa. Inaugural fares for this visa service begin at ₹5,412 per person. It is non transferable and non-extendable.

“Exploring innovative and sustainable means to enhance customer delight has always been a prerogative for SpiceJet. While we have evolved immensely as a brand, services as these will help us get closer towards establishing a one Stop Shop citizen-centric service delivery model while enhancing the customer’s travel experience,” says Shilpa Bhatia, vice president of commercial at SpiceJet.

spicejet.com

Netra Venkateshwaran

Qantas to expand acceptance of Unionpay cards

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce at the launch of the airline's Sydney-Beijing service

Qantas is planning to expand the acceptance of Unionpay cards to encompass a wider variety of flights and services in the future.

The expansion comes following the signing yesterday of an MOU with Unionpay International, China’s largest payment network provider. Under the agreement, the two companies will look into expanding payments for additional flight reservations along with other related purchases, including seat selection, excess baggage, and future exclusive deals.

Currently, Unionpay cardholders are only able to pay for flight bookings made on Qantas’ website for flights originating in China. The expansion will open up Qantas’ services to a wider selection of Chinese customers – a move likely spurred on by the recent launch of its third service to China between Sydney and Beijing in January.

“With over five billion Unionpay cards in circulation around the world, the increased acceptance of Unionpay cards across all of Qantas’ touch points gives customers convenient access to one of the most popular payment methods in the world, especially in Asia,” said Qantas International and Freight CEO, Gareth Evans.

“China is critical to our strategy in Asia. Together with our new direct Sydney-Beijing service, the deepening of this partnership reflects our commitment to the region, enabling our Asian customers to travel to and within Australia seamlessly.”

Unionpay, meanwhile, has been targeting Australia in particular, with the goal of expanding its services within the country a key component of its growth strategy.

“As the China-Australia Year of Tourism, 2017 is an important year for Unionpay to accelerate acceptance and usage of Unionpay cards in Australia,” said Unionpay International CEO, Cai Jianbo.

“To achieve this, we have a three-pronged approach: firstly to improve the online payment infrastructure and customer experience through gaining greater acceptance of Unionpay cards for online payments by local merchants; secondly, to position and leverage ‘Mobile Quickpass’, Unionpay’s contactless payment system, as a leading and innovative payment method in Australia. Lastly, to promote the uptake of Unionpay cards among Australian residents as a viable payment mode, which provides convenience and safe transactions in Australia, China and other parts of the world.”

Qantas offers a total of 130 weekly return flights between Australia and China, through its own services and codeshare partnerships with mainland Chinese airlines, China Eastern and China Southern.

In 2016, more than 1.2 million Chinese tourists visited Australia, an increase of 23 per cent year on year.

qantas.com; unionpayintl.com