Category Archives: Agents

Booking.com launches platform for travel agents

Booking.com has announced the initial test pilot of Booking.com for travel agents, the first iteration of a new platform designed specifically with the unique needs of travel agents in mind. The platform features a suite of easy-to-use tools that empower travel industry professionals to seamlessly make and manage accommodation reservations for their clients via Booking.com. “We’ve seen increasing numbers of travel agents using Booking.com to manage bookings for their customers,” said Bryan Batista, Senior Director of Global Partnerships at Booking.com. “We’re pleased to now offer professional travel agents a platform and a programme that has been created just for them, with the special features they need to easily book and manage reservations for their clients, as well as the choice, diversity and seamless experience that they’ve come to love and rely on from Booking.com.” Booking.com for Travel Agents is an extension of the company’s existing Affiliate Partner Programme and leverages technology and infrastructure being developed for Booking.com for Business. Travel Agents who join the platform will be eligible for similar partner benefits as all Booking.com affiliate partners.

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Thomas Cook to host closed-door summit in Mumbai on Nov 16

Thomas Cook India Limited will be organising a summit titled ‘India Travel Summit’ on November 16, 2016 in Mumbai. It will be a half day conference by invitation only. Abraham Alapatt, President & Group Head- Marketing & Service Quality, Financial Services & Innovation-Thomas Cook (India) Limited. He said, “We looked at our increased stake in both inbound and outbound space in India and we realised that we really didn’t have an India equivalent of something like World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit. So we saw the need to create a platform which would allow everyone in the eco-system to come together. We were hoping somebody does it but it hasn’t happened in the travel space. We wanted a summit where we get the opinion-makers and leaders of the industry and by invitation only to come together for a conversation. We expect a 100-odd people to attend the event. This year is in Mumbai but we are seriously considering doing this in Delhi next year.” The tour operator plans to make it an annual event. The half-day summit will have three sessions lasting an hour each. The first one will focus on visa issues and will have Consul Generals from four countries on the panel. This will be followed by a discussion on India’s outbound market and will have four India heads of NTOs as speakers. The last one will focus on inbound and will have three speakers: Suman Billa IAS, Joint Secretary of (Tourism), Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Chinmai Sharma, Chief Revenue Officer, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces and Ragini Chopra, VP (Corporate Communications), Jet Airways. 

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Yatra signs MoU with Uttarakhand to promote homestays

Yatra.com has signed an MoU with Uttarakhand Government to promote homestays in the state as well as highlight the state’s unique tourist attractions. Yatra will promote all the state tourism approved homestays, wherein guests (travellers) can rent a room in the home of a local family (host) or the entire house. Enhancing the segment further, Yatra and Uttarakhand Tourism together will organise an orientation session for homestays where the villagers will be trained in guiding, cooking, hospitality and the cultural and natural heritage of the state. This partnership will give the tourists a chance to experience the hospitality of various families throughout Uttarakhand and enjoy wonderful home cooked food. Speaking on the partnership, Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C), Yatra.com said, “We are delighted about this strategic alliance with the Government of Uttarakhand to boost the state’s tourism. With the peak season rolling in, we see this an opportunity to promote the rapidly growing Homestays segment in sync with the needs of travellers. Yatra is also seeking more such partnerships with other State Governments to promote local tourism and offer a taste of Indian hospitality and a very unique traveller experience.” As a part of this partnership, Yatra will list over 500 homestay properties on its website and encourage the growth of homestays in Uttarakhand, giving tourists a very homely experience.

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Cox & Kings forays into money transfer solutions

Making a foray into the money transfer business in India, Cox & Kings Ltd has partnered with UAE Exchange India, to provide inward remittance and domestic money transfer services in the country. This strategic venture will enable Indians living abroad to conveniently remit funds to their families in India, and also benefit foreign tourists visiting India. This association will expand the current network of collection centres and reach out to a broad category of consumers across the country. Cox & Kings has identified select locations within India, from where the customers can avail this service. There are no charges applicable to the recipient in India. Besides foreign inward money, domestic money transfer services will also be available at the designated Cox & Kings’ outlets through this process. Ravi Menon, Head—Foreign Exchange, Cox & Kings Ltd. said, “The strategic partnership will help us enter the money transfer business in India which is the largest recipient of remittance in the world. People who are expecting money from their relatives or friends abroad can now use our wide network of branches across India.” The facility of inward remittance will provide a convenient and quick mechanism for Indians working abroad to send money to their families in India and also benefit foreign tourists visiting India. The money will be received in minutes and all that the recipient has to do is visit one of the designated locations to collect their money.

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Ctrip plans to compete against U.S based Expedia and Booking.com

China’s Ctrip, the second largest online travel agency in the world after Priceline has set its eyes on the U.S. market with its acquisition of three U.S. based tour operators in a bid to boost business and improve service levels for Chinese outbound travellers vacationing in the U.S., said Tao Yang, a Ctrip senior vice president and head of its vacation business. The tour operators — Universal Vision, Ctour and Tours for Fun — stated they would also benefit from access to Ctrip’s customer base and technology. Ctrip took a majority stake in each of these tour operators for what the online travel agency describes as a marriage to form a Quartet focusing on Chinese travellers touring and visiting attractions in the U.S. But that partnership is distinct from Ctrip’s strategic plan to create a U.S. point of sale to sell travel globally, and this would put Ctrip in competition in the U.S. with partners such as the Priceline Group and Expedia, Yang said. He also said the relationships with Expedia and the Priceline Group would include elements of both partnership and competition, as is common in the travel industry.

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MTDC offers special Diwali package

Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has announced the launch of its special Diwali package to Alibaug this festive season. The tour will start from Gateway of India and will proceed to Mandava by ferryboat and will further proceed to the majestic Murud Janjira fort. Tourists will get to experience destinations like the beautiful Birla Mandir which lies on the Alibaug-Roha route, near Salve Village and sightseeing at beaches like Alibaug, Nagav, and Kihim. The 1 night, 2 days package is valid for October 30, 2016. Swati Kale, General Manager, MTDC commented on this initiative and said, “Under the guidance of Jaykumar Jitendrasinh Rawal, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra, MTDC has introduced this package to celebrate the festival of lights in a whole new illuminating way. This initiative will not only increase tourism activities in the state, but also give an opportunity to tourists from outside the state and experience the pristine and tranquil beaches of Alibaug. The pick-up for this package will be at 7.30 am from Gateway of India.” The cost of this tour is Rs 6,897 for Single Room Occupancy and Rs 5,419 on Twin Sharing Basis and includes all meals.

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Air New Zealand appoints Global Destinations as GSA

Mumbai-based Global Destinations will provide all General Sales Agency support to Air New Zealand in India effective November 1, 2016. Pranav Kapadia, Managing Director, Global Destinations, said, “With our strong knowledge of destination New Zealand, we will be a valuable partner to Air New Zealand. Over the coming months, we will appoint two new staff – a sales manager for Air New Zealand and a Market Development Executive for Air New Zealand. We are excited about this new partnership as Air New Zealand expands its sales and marketing activity in India.” Global Destinations has more than 18 years of experience in the industry. Mischa Mannix-Opie, Area Manager South & South East Asia, Air New Zealand, added, “While Air New Zealand continues to grow its sales and marketing activity in India, it’s vital we work alongside effective agency partners. We’re confident Global Destinations will help us to further strengthen our relationships across the India travel industry.” Air New Zealand’s alliance and code share services with Singapore Airlines connect customers from 11 Indian cities on Singapore Airlines and SilkAir services to Singapore. From there, customers can access three non-stop flights a day from Singapore to Auckland and Christchurch, four times a week to Wellington; connecting to Air New Zealand’s 21 domestic destinations within the country.

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Gamewatchers Safaris launches Indian arm

Kenya-based specialist tour operator for safari holidays Gamewatchers Safaris has opened its Indian arm headquartered in Bengaluru and is headed by Santosh Ojha, Director (Business Development – India), Gamewatchers Safaris India. The company owns the award-winning Porini camps and claims to have excellent knowledge of Kenya and rest of East Africa. It offers exquisite wildlife experiences through beautiful and natural camps under the reputed brand name Porini. Gamewatchers Safari has been operating in East Africa for the past 25 years and has been collaborating with the Masai landowners over the years by providing them with benefits in order to use their land for wildlife conservation. Ojha says, “The purpose is to cater to the demands of the discerning Indian travellers who seek unique experiences. This will encourage the Indian wildlife enthusiast to look beyond the usual, to Porini Camps where they can experience a host of unique features such as off-road driving do get closer to wildlife, night game drives, excellent guides among other advantages.”

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Delta releases ‘Code of Conduct’ for agents

IATA has sent out a circular to all BSP India agents that includes a six-page ‘Code of Conduct’ issued by Delta Air Lines this week. This information was uploaded and provided to the agents through BSPLink at the request of the airline. This includes Air France, KLM, Alitalia and Delta Air Lines. The document contains five main points. It touches on the subject of fares, redistribution of carrier content, rules about intellectual property, customer service and consequences of non-compliance with the Agent Code of Conduct. These include: cancelling the agent’s Electronic Ticketing Authority, withdrawing authority to issue traffic documents on the carrier’s behalf, and terminating IATA Resolution 824 – Passenger Sales Agency Agreement by withdrawing carrier’s appointment of the agent. IATA has asked agents to communicate with the airline directly in case of any clarifications.

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IATA seeks subsided rate of GST on flights

Global airlines’ body IATA has sought an abated rate of GST on flight tickets, saying the tax burden on the aviation sector was already high and the GST regime should conform to global standards and principles. Maintaining that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has been ‘working closely’ with the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Secretariat here to address some issues of concern to airlines, Director General of IATA, Alexandre de Juniac said, “The GST regime needs to adhere to international standards and principles.” “We have called for a zero-rating for international flights when the GST comes into effect next April. This seems unlikely. To limit its damage to the sector’s competitiveness, we would at least hope for abatement in the rate,” de Juniac said. He said the airlines in India faced “an onerous tax burden, including the imposition of service tax to services rendered abroad, including those for overflight charges, global distribution systems and international tickets.” This, he said, was “in contravention of international principles established by governments” through the UN body International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The IATA Director General and CEO, who met top officials of the government and Indian carriers during his two-day visit here, said he had shared these and other concerns with the government.

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