Technology News Updates from ITB 2003

This year`s ITB Berlin
, the leading trade fair for the global tourism industry, has served as a platform for several important industry announcements.
Exhibitors at the ITB Berlin come from all sectors of the international tourism industry. They include national and regional tourism organizations, tourism offices, tour operators, travel agencies, carriers, hotels, insurance companies, communication and information systems, publishing companies, and international tourism federations.

US consultant looks at European mobile travel

? Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide
and Intel have announced a
marketing agreement to enable wireless internet access in more than 150
Sheraton, Westin and W hotels in the USA. The installation of wireless
802.11, or Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) technology, in Starwood hotels will
take place between March and August and coincides with the upcoming launch of Intel Centrino mobile technology for notebook PCs. Intel`s
Centrino mobile technology features built-in wireless communications

? An analysis of pricing for public access wireless networks shows a wide
disparity around the globe, with European providers charging far more
than American and Asian companies, according to a new report by the
consulting firm BroadGroup. The most popular locations for public
wireless access are airports and hotels. Overall, the BroadGroup pricing
survey found that Europe is the most expensive region in the world for
public access wireless local area networks (WLANs).


? Expedia
puts Asia’s online travel market at US$8.3 billion in
2004. This seems to be taken from rival Zuji’s 2002 estimate of US$8
billion by 2003 or 2004.

? China Southern Airlines
and Et-china have formed a joint venture to
own and run CSA’s site, where sales growth has been slowing. (Et-China
paid US$710,000 for 49 per cent of the JV.) Gross ticket sales were
expected to be US$60.4 million in 2002, and US$193.2 million (which
would be 10 per cent of its gross ticket sales) in 2003. Et-china’s own site
provides booking, payment, and other services to corporate and high-end
leisure travellers within and from China.


? Decline for corporate sites? Contracts for Expedia`s subsidiary
Worldwide Travel Exchange to provide private-label booking engine and
wholesale-based travel inventory to travel principals, should mean the
beginning of the end for single-product corporate-site growth. WTE has
been contracted by airline AirTran, hotel group Wyndham, and Dollar car
rental. Wyndham has added WTE`s flight, car, and vacation packages
services, AirTran has added lodging and packages only, and Dollar has
added flights, hotels, vacation packages and destination services.

? Online travel agency Expedia expects strong growth in 2003. It has
budgeted revenues of US$820 million, which would be a 40 per cent
increase over its expected US$585 million this year.

? Sales through Tabini, a website for 16 non-Japanese airlines operating
into Japan, were a tiny US$820,000 in its first six months, through
August. Its first-year target was US$16.4 billion. The main problem has
been that discounted fares have not been posted on the site; lowest fares
available are advance-purchase fares. As a result, hotel bookings on
Tabini have been twice as high as air bookings. But from October, discount
airfares have been added. This will certainly boost turnover, but
plans for 2003 are to install software that will allow users to compare
fares. If effective, we believe that could make Tabini Japan’s largest online
travel site, with capability better than airline-owned sites like Zuji in Asia
Pacific, Opodo in Europe, and Orbitz in the USA.

? Sales via the internet for the domestic routes of Qantas
have grown from
around 1.5-2 per cent in mid-2001 to 15-20 per cent today. The airline
thinks the maximum will be 30 per cent - because it will still have many
other sales outlets. But it says it might not even reach 30 per
cent. Meanwhile, rival Virgin Blue says 75 per cent of its sales are over
the internet. It believes it could eventually get to 100 per cent - even
without special incentives to increase internet sales.