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Mon 13 Oct: 10 things you need to know today

We’ve done all the hard work, so you don’t have to! Read on for our top ten travel industry news stories of the day we think you need to know.

We’ve done all the hard work, so you don’t have to! Read on for our top ten travel industry news stories of the day we think you need to know.

1. Etihad employs Mary Poppins to nanny the skies

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Etihad are attempting to put an end to the crying baby nightmare many a customer faces when on a long-haul flight.
The airline has resorted to transforming a member of its flight crew into Mary Poppin-esque figure whose purpose is to seat children, serve their meals, refill bottles and provide activities such as face-painting, craft and magic tricks.

The “Flying Nanny” is also not a service that is bestowed on the privileged few in first-class but is a service available to all families in every cabin and is no extra charge.

“The Flying Nanny role demonstrates our understanding of our guests’ needs and our commitment to making the journey as relaxing and comfortable as possible,” said Etihad’s vice president of guest services, Aubrey Tiedt.

Read on for more

2. IHG to invest in the Express

IHG - karryon

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) have recently invested into the Australian Hospitality Opportunity Fund (AHO) of private equity and real estate investment firm, Pro-invest Group. Under the A$150 million fund, Pro-invest Group is currently developing a portfolio of up to 15 Holiday Inn Express hotels across Australia.

“Australia is an important market for us and we are committed to growing our brands here,” Jan Smits, Chief Executive Officer for IHG in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, said.

Pro-invest Group currently has two hotels in the pipeline. The Holiday Inn Express Sydney, in Macquarie Park is scheduled to open next year. Holiday Inn Express Brisbane, Spring Hill  will open early 2016. Both hotels have received the support of local authorities with Development Approvals received and it is expected that contractors will commence on-site later this month, in both locations.

Read on for more.

3. New World Tourism deal to promote gay-friendly Australia

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A new two-year partnership between International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), Gay and Lesbian Tourism Australia and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is set to promote Australia as a gay and lesbian friendly tourist destination.

Capitalising on the weaker Australian dollar, more than 240 IGLTA members in 75 countries will help in marketing Australia as a gay-friendly vacation destination and will earn commission on selling the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Speaking for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, CEO Michael Rolik said, “We are delighted to take our partnership from a presence at the IGLTA Annual Global Convention to a whole new level.”

“Mardi Gras attracts over 30,000 visitors and with the lower Australian dollar we expect this number to increase in 2015. This partnership will provide opportunities for IGLTA members to tap into this growth in visitation and leverage our commissionable tickets scheme,” Rolik said.

4. Air New Zealand flies high after double win at World Travel Awards

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Air New Zealand has been named Australasia’s Leading Airline at the 2014 World Travel Awards for the sixth year in a row.
The airline was also awarded Australasia’s Leading Airport Lounge for the Air New Zealand Lounge at Christchurch International Airport for the second year in a row.

The annual awards, voted by travel and tourism professionals across the globe, recognise the airline’s continuing excellence over the past 12 months. Air New Zealand General Manager Customer Experience Carrie Hurihanganui claims that the awards reflect the airline’s commitment to ensure a seamless customer journey.

“We’ve placed strong emphasis on enhancing the customer experience at every touch point in the customer journey.  It’s fantastic to have this work recognised by these awards which are testament to the efforts of our staff who work incredibly hard to deliver our unique Kiwi service every day,” she said.

The 2014 World Travel Awards were announced overnight in New Delhi, India.

5. Malaysia Airlines Streamlines travel for Aussies in French provinces

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Aussie holidaymakers and those from the French provinces are set to enjoy fast-tracked trips to and from 19 amazing cities thanks to an exciting new partnership between Malaysia Airlines and European train operator TGV.

Launched as TGVAIR, the new joint service allows passengers to book a flight and train ticket in one, providing streamlined travel to and from all major French provinces via Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport. Customers can check-in from the beginning of their journey to their final destination, whether embarking on an adventure from Australia or returning from one of the 19 earmarked TGV stations.

Regional Senior Vice President of Malaysia Airlines, Mr PK Lee, said the airline was proud to be partnering with TGV to deliver improved flexibility, efficiency and value to customers.

“Those wanting to holiday in beautiful destinations across France no longer have to purchase their flight and train tickets separately or coordinate different modes of transport when travelling from Australia or returning home,” he said.

“TGVAIR keeps your trip simple and streamlined with one single ticket, offers a cheaper combined service and provides users with guaranteed support should either a train or flight be delayed.”

6. Insight Vacations announces exclusive Qantas and Emirates Savings

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Insight Vacations is offering exclusive savings of (AUD)$400 per couple when booking an escorted journey of 10-days or more along with a Qantas and Emirates airfare to Europe or Britain. Agents can take advantage of this limited offer for their clients, which is combinable with Insight’s brochure discounts such as the Early Payment Discount of 10 per cent per person.

Featured savings include up to $1,275 per person on the 33-day European Heritage, up to $772 per person on the new All-Inclusive Gold Luxury 11-day Majestic Europe, up to $743 per person on the 22-Day Britain & Ireland Discovery, up to $517 per person on the new 13-day Splendours of Andalucia & Morocco.

Further savings of 5 per cent can be enjoyed by Frequent Travellers who have travelled with Insight Vacations or any of The Travel Corporation’s brands previously, up to 10 per cent for young travellers (aged 5-17) and 2.5 per cent for guests booking two or more tours.
This exclusive airfare offer is valid until 15 November, 2014 unless sold out prior.

7. Carnival Cruises to pump up the volume in 2015

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After a winter hiatus, Carnival Cruise Lines will be continuing its Carnival LIVE Concert Series in 2015, bringing big-name music artists – including Journey, Smokey Robinson and Rascal Flatts – onboard ships to perform concerts.
The series involves 10 ships cruising to the Bahamas, the Caribbean and Mexico, from six homeports, including Galveston for the first time next year.

The artists come onboard for a few hours to perform while ships are docked in Cozumel, Nassau or, new next year, St. Thomas. Performances are in main show lounges, which seat 900 to 1,300 passengers.
More acts will be announced at a later date for the latter half of 2015, Carnival officials said, noting that the shows consistently sell out.
Click here for the concert calendar.

8. World Resorts of Distinction’s launches new website

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Designed with user experience at its core, the new website brings WRD’s portfolio of boutique resorts to life with large, seductive images, intuitive functionality, and a range of super-handy downloads and links.

“With so much content available online, your website has to work harder than ever to tell your story,” WRD’s Managing Director, Fiona Wozney said.

“Gorgeous images, well-crafted copy, clear navigation, and easily accessible and shareable content are essential. Our new website clicks all those boxes.”

In addition to content and resources thoughtfully designed for both industry and consumers alike, the website features an interactive map, downloadable fact sheets, special offers and brochures, multimedia content, a news blog and WRD staff profiles.

“We get it that, at times, working in the travel industry is stressful,” Wozney said.

“So, when you’re feeling overwhelmed, or even underwhelmed, visit our new site and immerse yourself in the loveliness of our resorts.”

9. Scoot system glitch leaves hundreds stranded

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Hundreds of passengers were left stranded at Changi Airport on Friday evening after a glitch knocked out budget airline Scoot’s electronic check-in system. Airport ground staff had to manually check in Scoot passengers by filling up boarding passes by hand. This resulted in travellers waiting for hours in long, snaking queues at Terminal 2.

The outage, which occurred sometime after 11pm on Friday, affected five outbound flights to Hong Kong, Sydney, Tianjin, Taipei and Perth. Passengers who were returning from those cities were also stranded at the airports.

The check-in system, which is provided by United States-based Navitaire, only resumed operations about 5.30am yesterday.
Jetstar, Tigerair and AirAsia, which also use the same computerised check-in system, were also affected by the glitch. While their reservations and payment systems were down, their flights did not face any delay.

The outage has since been rectified.

10. Luxury hotels remain lush and plush

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A new survey  by Travel Leaders Group reports nearly 90 percent of all luxury-oriented agents say bookings have “increased or remained steady” for luxury hotel bookings, luxury cruise bookings, bookings for suites on cruise ships, luxury tour bookings and First/Business Class airline tickets.

The top response from Travel Leaders Group’s luxury-oriented survey participants was “luxury cruise ship‚” followed by “5-star hotels and resorts.”

“Nearly 92 per cent of our luxury travel agents indicate luxury hotel bookings have increased or remained steady, luxury tour bookings are equal to or higher than last year for nearly 90 percent of our specialists and over 87 percent of those polled indicated their luxury cruise bookings have increased or are on par with last year,” Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben said.

“But make no mistake, clientele looking for unique, bespoke travel experiences do not spend money frivolously — they demand value, as any traveler should.”

Feature Image: KMJ Photography.

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