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Flight Centre steps up investments in AI-powered chatbot solutions

PhocusWire·13 March 2019
Flight Centre Travel Group has acquired travel assistance chatbot Sam and increased its investment in 30SecondsToFly, which has an artificial intelligence-powered booking assistant known as Claire.

Yatra directors mull over Ebix $336M acquisition bid

PhocusWire·12 March 2019
India-based online travel agency Yatra says it is reviewing a proposal from Ebix to acquire the company for $336 million. Ebix, a fintech and ecommerce specialist that spans a number of industries, sent a letter to the Yatra board offering to purchase all of the outstanding stock of Yatra Online for $7 per share.

Reality check: Airbnb still has a long way to go after HotelTonight deal

PhocusWire·12 March 2019
PhocusWire was the first industry publication breaking the news last week that Airbnb was acquiring online travel agency HotelTonight. In my view, this is another step on Airbnb’s warpath to turning itself into a full-blown online travel agency.

Google and TripAdvisor stand out for tour and activity research

PhocusWire·12 March 2019
European travelers are mostly looking for things to do in a destination via Google and TripAdvisor, according to research. The Closing The Digital Gap study, from Arival and BookingKit, reveals more than half of travelers (56%) say they used Google and 38% say they used TripAdvisor to help plan activities.

Aeromexico enables automated baggage tracking via chatbot

PhocusWire·12 March 2019
Aeromexico is the first airline to integrate SITA’s artificial intelligence-powered baggage tracking system into its passenger chatbot. Now passengers can enter their flight information into the chatbot and instantly receive the latest location of their bag, without the need for airline staff to intervene.

Will travel brands bend to join the mobile "fold"?

PhocusWire·11 March 2019
It was Mobile World Congress (MWC) a few weeks back and foldable devices took the top spot as the next hot topic in mobile.

Ground innovation, part 2: A new model for car rental

PhocusWire·11 March 2019
Phocuswright estimates global travel gross bookings will reach nearly $1.5 trillion this year and more than $1.6 trillion by 2021. While the majority of that spending is made on air and accommodations, ground transportation is accelerating as a category for activity, innovation and investment.

Airbnb-HotelTonight - a deal at the right time for both

PhocusWire·11 March 2019
The deal for Airbnb to acquire HotelTonight will probably not be seen as an "OMG!" moment when the history of the sharing economy giant is written in years to come.

Google enables flight destination search by price

PhocusWire·11 March 2019
Google has made some updates to its travel tools, just in time for the busy spring travel season. Now in Google Flights users can set a maximum price to see all destinations with flights within that budget.

Sounding Off: Innovation in travel is only in the eye of the beholder

PhocusWire· 8 March 2019
It's time to stop worrying about who is apparently providing the "innovation" and concentrate on ensuring that a brand keeps up with market forces, customer requirements and technology.

Awaze is the new name to take European Vacation Rentals group forward

PhocusWire· 8 March 2019
European Vacation Rentals, which includes brands such as Hoseasons, James Villas, Landal GreenParks and Novasol, has been renamed Awaze.

Ending the lip service - 3 steps for achieving gender parity in the travel industry

PhocusWire· 8 March 2019
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. You’re at an industry event and the keynote speaker (male, probably) talks passionately about the need for companies to diversify their leadership teams.

Marriott CEO: Source of attack still unknown, encryption and decentralization may be future solution

PhocusWire· 7 March 2019
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee regarding the cyber attack on Starwood's guest reservation system.

Airbnb to acquire online travel agency HotelTonight

PhocusWire· 7 March 2019
Airbnb is ramping up its strategy around hotel accommodation by striking an agreement to acquire HotelTonight. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. HotelTonight had raised nearly $130 million in investment funding since its creation in late-2010.

Time to talk - using Google Assistant to book a hotel room

PhocusWire· 7 March 2019
It is becoming clearer that using voice commands to search for and book hotels is going to be disruptive in the hotel industry and will soon be changing the rules of the game.

Travel intermediaries must figure out how automate better

PhocusWire· 7 March 2019
The travel industry continues to go through a rapid digital transformation. With the increasing use of online services and the rise of a completely new futuristic travel, online travel agencies have inevitably emerged as the leading marketing channel for the travel industry.

Skyscanner enables flight search through Trello platform

PhocusWire· 7 March 2019
Skyscanner has created an integration with Trello, a visual organization and collaboration platform, that connects Trello users to Skyscanner’s database of flight information.

Connectivity and control will give rail the green signal in the future

PhocusWire· 6 March 2019
Whether it is bringing wi-fi to passengers subways, or connecting the longest rail in the world, rail networks are undergoing a connectivity transformation.

Booking.com pivots BookingSuite into a hotel tech app store

PhocusWire· 6 March 2019
Booking.com's BookingSuite platform has opened up to feature third party software providers, in a move to give hoteliers access to a range of tools and services.

In the Big Chair - Patrick Bosworth of Duetto

PhocusWire· 6 March 2019
Learning the trade at a number of hotels and resorts in the mid-2000s, the often outspoken Patrick Bosworth co-created Duetto in 2011 in the U.S.

Certify, Chrome River merge in $1B transaction

PhocusWire· 6 March 2019
Business travel management platforms Certify and Chrome River are merging in a transaction valued at more than $1 billion.

Amex GBT launches cross-industry benchmarking tool to measure travel manager performance

PhocusWire· 6 March 2019
American Express Global Business Travel's new Peer Travel Insights service will rank companies within their peer group.

Tour and activity veterans line up to launch content platform Magpie

PhocusWire· 5 March 2019
Former tour operator Christian Watts, Viator founder Rod Cuthbert and Tokyo-based Venture Republic are behind the new company.

Ctrip ticks $4.5BN annual revenue level for the first time

PhocusWire· 5 March 2019
Ctrip posted a 16% increase in net revenue during 2018, solidifying its place as the third biggest online travel agency in the world.

Why travel management companies have responsibility to drive innovation

PhocusWire· 5 March 2019
With effective travel programs becoming an increasingly critical element of business strategies, travel management companies are facing mounting pressure from a diverse group of customer stakeholders seeking guidance on balancing cost, compliance, traveler satisfaction and security.

AirAsia launches venture capital fund to grow startup base in Southeast Asia

PhocusWire· 5 March 2019
AirAsia has hatched plans to transform itself “from an airline to more than an airline,” according to AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, through the launch of a venture capital fund.

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