May 2015 Travel & industry News

29 May 2015
FCm Travel Solutions “Go M.A.D.” at global conference

More than 250 FCm Travel Solutions delegates from around the world converged in tropical Phuket, Thailand late last month for the company's annual global conference.

The theme of 'FCm Focus' this year was "Go M.A.D." (Make a Difference) and focussed on thought leadership from high calibre external speakers, as well as updates from FCm's key discipline leaders in sales, account management, technology and marketing.

Leo Burnett CEO and Qantas board member Todd Sampson gave a keynote address, while other guest speakers included Dougal McKenzie from Google.

FCm Global General Manager Gregory Lording said delegate feedback from the conference was "very positive".

Delegates participated in a turtle release and raised funds for the local Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation. In addition more than 200 hand decorated helmets were donated to local children to support helmet awareness and use in Thailand – both aspects being FCm's corporate social responsibility elements to Phuket.

Next year's event will be held in Mexico, it was announced. 

FCm named finalist in 2015 NTIA awards

FCm Travel Solutions has been named alongside other national and global travel management companies as a finalist for the Best National Travel Management Company in the 2015 AFTA National Travel Industry Awards.

Presentations to the judging panel were held on Thursday 28 May in Sydney by a panel of 12 highly qualified industry experts, led by former Starwood director of leisure and luxury sales, Bob Lunnon as Chief Judge.

"It is a high honour to have been nominated as a finalist for this award," said James Kavanagh, General Manager FCm Travel Solutions Australia.

"We have had a fantastic year and have a very compelling success story to share with the judges this year."

Winners of the award will be announced at a Gala Dinner at the Dockside Pavilion in Sydney on Saturday the 18th of July. 

Best and worst travel reward schemes revealed

IdeaWorks has researched the availability of rewards flights for its Switchfly Reward Seat Availability Survey including 25 different airline programs.

More than 7600 booking queries across 280 specific dates during March 2015 were made to determine the results.

Airberlin's topbonus program came out on top with 100% total availability on reward seats in the survey. Closer to home, Virgin Australia's Velocity program was ranked as the top in the Asia-Pacific region and second in the world for overall reward availability.

Southwest Airlines tied with airberlin for first place, followed by Air Canada and Singapore Airlines to make up the top five.

Full results from the survey can be found here

Singapore Airlines releases new premium economy seat

After delays in releasing plans about their fourth cabin class to market, Singapore Airlines has finally revealed its new Premium Economy product which, experts say, was worth the wait.

Singapore Airlines Executive Vice President Commercial, Mak Swee Wah, says of the timing: “Premium Economy is something that has been around for many years, but it’s in the last few years that you find that, because of changing consumer trends, the changing industry landscape, and changing product trends, clearly there is a gap open now.”

"Within the corporate sector, there are those who travel business class, but there are those who say "I want more comfort but not quite the full works," he says.

This product has been designed with those travellers in mind and for its market and compared to nearly everything else in the skies, is pretty hard to beat. Added to that, is the signature Singapore service, available on the aircraft from nose to tail.

“Customers can expect to be pampered,” says Mak. “Many of our customers have been asking for a Premium Economy offering and we are confident that what we are delivering will exceed their expectations.”

Singapore Airline's new premium economy cabin will debut on its Sydney route on 9 August.

Seats will be laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration, with each full leather seat slightly wider than standard economy at 18.5 or 19.5 inches and with a seat pitch of 38 inches and an 8-inch recline. Travellers will enjoy in-flight entertainment on 13.3-inch screens with active noise-cancelling headphones and an expanded food service, with a choice of three main courses as well as the airline’s ‘Book the Cook’ service. 

New white paper on hotel program trends

Flight Centre have released a white paper on hotel program commentary trends which has shown a widening gap between the demands of tech savvy Millennials and Boomer business travellers.

Underpinned by a refreshed global economic outlook, hotels are taking a more energetic and targeted approach to business travellers, opening up exciting new ways of luring and securing their clients repeat business.

Cost effective digital technologies continue to unlock creativity in delivering deeper levels of personalisation, and travellers are both appreciating it and expecting it.

Research by global distribution supplier Amadeus, shows flexibility continues to be a priority for the traveller with:

·         62% wanting to book ancillary, value added extras including lounge access, meals and upgrades

·         51% making flexible changes to their bookings prior to departure

·         22% making three or more changes to their itinerary

·         21% say efficiency in travel is the number one priority

For more information read the white paper in its entirety here

New Brisbane SmartGates

Passengers travelling through Brisbane airport will be among the first to be screened using new smart Gate technology. The new gates use facial biometric technology to confirm your identity by scanning your passport image and matching it to the scanned image. A total of 92 new Smartgates are being rolled out across Australia’s eight international airports between now and mid next year.

New Air NZ lounge at Sydney

Air NZ has opened a new-look lounge at Sydney Airport. Located on level two of the international terminal, the ultra-modern lounge features a bar that serves barista-made coffee, wine and cocktails. Air New Zealand plans to open a number of new and refurbished lounges over the next two years.

Expanded LAX lounge

Qantas, Cathay Pacific and British Airways have unveiled their newly expanded, jointly owned Business Lounge at Los Angeles Airport. The lounge has tripled in size and now features larger seating areas, new dining options and a state-of-the-art kitchen.

Adelaide most eco-friendly airport

Adelaide Airport is the first Australian airport to be recognised for its management and reduction of carbon emissions. The airport is now Airport Carbon Accredited at Level 3 (Optimisation) and is just the seventh Asia-Pacific airport to achieve this standard. Recent initiatives ay the airport include the installation of LED airfield lighting and the construction of green star rated buildings.

Ascend Adelaide debut

Choice Hotels is expanding its Ascend Hotel Collection brand into Adelaide. The 240-room Lester Hotel will join the Ascend Hotel Collection upon completion in 2016. The property, currently under construction on the corner of North and West Terrace, will feature a restaurant, bar and conference facilities.

Air NZ lifts Perth

Air New Zealand plans to add three weekly non-stop flights between Perth and Auckland. The new daytime services will be timed to connect with onward flights to the Americas and will operate on B767-300 aircraft from 11 December this year until 1 May 2016.The move raises the total frequency during this period to 10 services per week.

QantasLink grows Wellcamp

QantasLink is adding two new return weekly flights between Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport and Sydney. Commencing on 26 June, the new services will depart Wellcamp at 7pm on Friday night and return from Sydney at 6.35am on Saturday with another return service on Sunday. Both will operate on Q400 aircraft. As part of this move QantasLink is rejigging the timing of its SYD-WTB Friday service to depart an hour earlier at 4.55pm and its Saturday WTB-SYD service to depart an hour later at 8.35am.

China Southern preferred seats

China Southern is offering a new service to economy passenger. On 12 long-haul routes from Guangzhou, including Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, travellers in economy can now upgrade to preferred seats with extra legroom online 48hours prior to departure. Prices range from AU$60 for elite members of the carrier’s Sky Pearl Club frequent flyer scheme to AU$120 for non-members.

Emirates offers free hotel stay

Emirates is offering a pre-flight hotel stay. First and business class passengers departing Sydney on the carrier’s daily 6am EK415 service will be offered a free night at the Rydges Hotel Sydney Airport.

Mantra gets Soul

MantraGroup has taken over management of the 77-storey Soul tower at Surfers Paradise. It will retain the name Soul Surfers Paradise and will operate under Mantra’s Peppers brand.

New EK/QF codeshare

Emirates is set to codeshare on Qantas’ Perth-Singapore route when it resumes in June. The five times weekly two-class services will operate of B737 aircraft.