Travel tech innovators score awards
Cendant the conglomerate that recently acquired Orbitz, ebookers, Gullivers, was named “World’s Leading Travel Distribution Services Provider” at the World Travel Awards beating off competition from InterActiveCorp and Sabre Travel Network.
Cendant was among leading travel technology companies honoured at the ceremony at the Royal Opera House, London, which played host to the gala dinner dubbed the Oscars of the travel industry.
The company has stepped up its European presence with the acquistion of ebookers and recently confirmed plans to split its business into four separate divisions.
Collecting Cendant’s trophy at the ceremony, Gordon Wilson, CEO and president, Cendant TDS, commented: “It is a huge honour for us because Cendant is a relative newcomer into the travel and travel distribution stakes- we have been very busy growing our business for acquisition and integrating those acquisitions so actually it’s a real thrill for us as new boys winning this great and prestigious honour”
Sabre has also been grabbing market-share with its acquisition of igougo.com and more recently lastminute.com. It was Sabre’s Travelocity who took away “World’s Leading Travel Internet Site” award. The Website recently enhanced its dynamic packaging offering and is currently re-evaluating its brand strategy as it absorbs lastminute.com.
During 2005 new technologies have enabled consumers to make more complex travel choices via the Internet, this year has also given rise to many new technologies for airline passengers.
IATA’s proposal that all paper tickets should be scrapped by 2007 in favour of e-ticketing is gaining momentum, as airlines implement this solution with electronic ticketing kiosks spreading to airports worldwide.
Cabin Internet access is already becoming commonplace, 11 airlines—including Lufthansa, SAS and Singapore Airlines—are already using Connexion by Boeing’s for high-speed satellite Internet connection technology.
The prize for “World’s Leading High Speed in-flight Internet Service Provider” went to Connexion by Boeing. Commenting on the award, president Laurette Koellner, said: “It’s a tremendous accomplishment and one that further validates that we are on the right path with the introduction of data and live television services to passengers’ laptops.”
“Passengers will soon be able to use their personal digital assistants and other mobile devices in-flight. It is an exciting time for the travel industry and airline customers, emerging mobile technologies will make the travel experience more meaningful and productive.”
OnAir is one European firm that has also been active in this arena, earlier this year, carrier bmi said it intends to be the first British airline to offer in-flight mobile phone services to passengers out of Heathrow. The carrier has teamed up with OnAir to make the service available next year.
Meanwhile the carrier’s low cost division, bmibaby.com, was voted “World’s Leading Low Cost Airline Internet Site.” The carrier, which relaunched its Website in July last year with an online seat selection option, said they were delighted to receive the award.
Another airline that continues to innovate is Cathay Pacific, which took three World Travel Awards, including “World’s Leading Use of In-flight Technology.” The airline marks its 25th year that the airline has flown to the UK, next year will be the carrier’s 60th anniversary.
“Technology is one way to offer greater passenger convenience and choice, from online ticketing and pre-flight ordering of in-flight purchases to in-seat E-mail and ‘on demand’ in-flight entertainment programming,” says Philip Chen, CEO of Cathay Pacific.
“This prestigious “World’s Leading Use of In-flight Technology” award reflects our commitment to industry standards for service and is a tribute to the hard work and commitment of all our staff.”
According to Chen: “Mobile phone in-flight technology is with us today and is becoming fairly well accepted in the industry. The main hurdles are regulatory, not technological, and we believe that it will become a ubiquitous product in the long term.
“It is a product development, which is both exciting and challenging and Cathay Pacific is fully abreast of the current developments in this arena. We are actively considering the many commercial and social issues which have to be taken into account before implementation,” he explains.
Lie-flat seats is also a technological innovation that airlines have lured passengers with across the globe this year, with many carriers upgrading their front-of-plane sections accordingly. British Airways, American Airlines, Thai Air, Gulf Air, Finnair and China Southern Air have been active in this area.
Qatar has a winning formula, this year travel professionals awarded the carrier “World’s Leading Flat Bed Seats.”
Qatar’s new first class seats convert into fully flat beds, both First and Business Class seats also have back massage functions and electronic seat controls to provide different positions.
Qatar’s CEO, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, commented: “I am very humble and delighted that we, a young airline, are being recognised in such short period of our existence.”