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August 2015 Travel News & Alerts

01 August 2015

Embassy Closures for the Month of August

Please be informed that the following embassies will be closed in August on the specified dates:

All or Most Embassies: 7th and 9th August 2015

 

1. Indonesia Embassy: 10th August 2015

                                 17th August 2015

2. Malaysia Embassy: 10th August 2015

                               31st August 2015

3. Philippines Embassy: 21st August 2015

                                   31st August 2015

4. Thailand Embassy: 12th August 2015

 

No visa applications will be processed during this period.

 

For more information please contact your travel manager.

Changi Airport introduces automated check-in kiosks to increase efficiency

Starting on 12 August can make use of 24 check-in kiosks for quicker and more convenient check-in. 

The roll-out will start with Singapore Airlines (SIA) and SilkAir flights from Terminal 2.

As part of the Fast and Seamless Travel (FAST) check-in trial, travellers with carry-on bags on these two airlines can obtain their boarding pass and bag tags at the kiosks before proceeding directly to Departure Immigration. Or, travellers on selected flights could do online or mobile check-in, skip the counters and proceed to Departure Immigration with their home-printed or mobile phone boarding passes.

Travellers with check-in baggage can drop off their bags at the bag drop counters after getting their boarding pass and bag tags at the kiosks.

The trial will be subsequently extended to 24 kiosks at Terminal 3, and will build up to a full suite of FAST options next year with more check-in choices.

Lufthansa delays new global distribution surcharge in several countries

According to travel news site The Beat, Lufthansa notified agencies that it will use a different method than previously planned to levy its €16 global distribution system surcharge. The seemingly minor technical detail has prompted the airline group to delay the surcharge in the Brazilian market, citing "unclear" legal implications. Lufthansa previously planned to file its surcharge using the OB code in ATPCO fare filings, which designates "ticketing fees," but now will use the YQ/YR category, often used for fuel surcharges and other "carrier-imposed fees."

The German carrier still plans to use the OB standard when GDSs are capable, but it has not committed to a timeline.

Until it does, the airline group confirmed an impact at the Brazilian point of sale.

The Sept. 1 date for its surcharge roll out is still "on schedule" in all other markets.

Hertz Car Sharing to discontinue in US

According to Business Travel news, due to a low return on investment, Hertz will close all its car-sharing service operations in the United States by September.

The car rental company launched Connect by Hertz in 2008 to compete with Zipcar, which Avis Budget Group acquired in 2013. Hertz later rebranded the offering to Hertz On Demand and then to Hertz 24/7. In the United States, the service had locations in two major metro areas, Orlando and New York/Hoboken, N.J., and Hertz also offered a “small dedicated fleet” for car-sharing services on corporate and college campuses. Hertz began closing those operations in July and expects to complete the process next month, according to the spokesperson.

Hertz also is closing some car-sharing locations in Europe but will continue in Sydney, and in the remainder of Europe, carpooling, fleet-management services will go on, as will van hires via retail partnership.

Langham Place Mongkok is now relaunched as Cordis

The LANGHAM Hospitality Group will introduce its first property under its new upscale Cordis brand, replacing the current Langham Place, Mongkok on 26 August. 

The recently renovated Cordis, Hong Kong will offer 664 guest rooms with a choice of 19 room types, ranging from a 26m2 superior room to the 158m2 chairman suite. All rooms are outfitted with bathtubs. Other room facilities include a coffeemaker and a 3G-enabled smartphone with unlimited local and international calls to Australia, China, Singapore, the UK and the US, along with 3G data connectivity and Wi-Fi tethering anywhere in the city.

Amenities in the hotel include a rooftop swimming pool, Jacuzzi, fitness studio, spa and 24-hour room service.

There are also 16 meeting and events spaces equipped with projectors and portable touchscreens. The main ballroom also features a high-definition LED screen.

Etihad’s Dreamliner now flying direct to Singapore

The new service commenced on 1 August 2015 and will run daily, departing Abu Dhabi at 2200 and arriving in Singapore at 1015 the following day. The return flight will then leave at 2010, arriving back into Abu Dhabi at 2345.

The launch of the new Dreamliner gives Singapore-based passengers access to Etihad’s latest cabin products, including its First Suites, Business Studios and Economy Smart seats.

Etihad’s B787-9 Dreamliner has a total capacity of 235 passengers – eight in first class, 28 in business class and 199 in economy. The First Suites feature personal wardrobes, minibars, 24-inch TV monitors and centre seats which can be joined to create a double bed. Business class passengers are offered flat-bed seats and 18-inch touch-screen TV monitors, while the Economy Smart seats have a 32-inch seat pitch, a six-inch recline and 11.1-inch TV monitors.

Etihad has ordered a total of 71 Dreamliners, including B787-9s and larger B787-10s. The B787-9s currently operate on routes to Washington DC, Zurich, Brisbane and Singapore. The airline will also begin taking delivery of new two-class B787-9s in 2016.

Fraport increases accessibility for its international travellers

Frankfurt Airport has added five more languages – Arabic, Japanese, Korean, Russian, and Spanish – to the information kiosks in Terminals 1 and 2. These additional languages complement the information already offered in German, English, and Chinese (Mandarin) via about 100 self-service information kiosks. The kiosks are part of the ‘Great to have you here!’ service quality programme launched by Fraport with the goal of continually enhancing the travel experience. They allow passengers, meet and greet staff and visitors to find out the current status of a flight – including any changes to arrival or departure times, designated gates and other useful information.

Each kiosk has a quick-scan feature which travellers can place their boarding pass on the reader for relevant flight information. The information kiosks also provide information on the wide range of shops, restaurants and other services available at Frankfurt Airport.

Any traveller or visitor wishing to have personal assistance can also get help and information from multi-lingual service staff patrolling within the terminals or from the many information counters and service points designated.

Other services under the ‘Great to have you here’ service quality programme include the Frankfurt Airport App 2.0 and the free 24-hour WiFi internet access offered in the passenger terminals.

Conrad Shenzhen in 2019

China will boast a new five-star Conrad property come 2019 with the opening of the Conrad Shenzhen hotel in a city that’s just across the border from Hong Kong. 

With 300 rooms in the centre of Shenzhen's rapidly developing Qianhai CBD, the hotel will reside amidst a larger development project at the Horoy Qianhai Centre to offer guests ocean views and easy access to nearby office towers.

Often referred to as China's Silicon Valley, Shenzhen is a global epicentre for high-tech design and production, as well as the world's largest manufacturer of electronics. Shenzhen is one of the only two stock exchange in China, aside Hong Kong’s Stock Exchange and many of the companies within this market are subsidiaries of companies in which the Chinese government maintains controlling interest.

The Conrad Shenzhen hotel will come equipped with just under 2,500 square metres of event and meeting space, joining 12 other Conrad hotels across the Asia Pacific region – including in Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo and more.

Also complementing the existing Hilton Shenzhen Futian, Hilton Shenzhen Shekou Nanhai and Hilton Garden Inn Shenzhen Bao’an properties, Hilton HHonors members will be able to earn and redeem points at the hotel, while all guests can make use of the Conrad Concierge smartphone app.

Self-drive is still the business traveller’s preferred mode of ground transportation

Rental cars are the most popular form of ground transport for business travellers, a new report has found.

According to a recent GBTA‘s 2015 Ground Transportation Study, which was released at the GBTA Convention in Orlando, 36% of business travellers use rental cars to get around their destination, while 24% use taxis and 13% use chauffeur-driven cars.

Interestingly, 11% of respondents said they use ride-sharing companies, but this form of transport is not widely accepted by businesses.

The study also identified the most important factors business travellers and travel buyers consider when choosing ground transportation. Topping the list was traveller and vehicle safety, availability for a timely pick-up and convenience of payments methods. Three-quarters of business travellers and eight in 10 travel buyers called these factors “highly important”.

The report also uncovered the unfamiliarity of self-drive regulations with about one-third of business travellers are at least “somewhat familiar” with aspects like driver certification, training requirements and regulations affecting each ground transportation method.

4th Dimension Business Travel Consulting debuts in Flight Centre USA’s Corporate Brands

Flight Centre USA launches 4th Dimension (4D) Business Travel Consulting, a new corporate travel consulting division that will provide advanced solutions to customers and address challenges to their travel programs. 

4D draws on FCm Travel Solutions' global intelligence, customer insight, flexibility, data and vast experience in managing best practice travel programs to help companies achieve short and long-term gains on their business travel. With a focus on developing and delivering services to integrate seamlessly with organizations, 4D will provide the tools necessary to adjust to clients' specific needs.= The 4D team includes highly experienced travel, finance, and procurement specialists that will offer forward-thinking strategies designed to meet the complex demands of the procurement market. Consultants will deliver services that include multiple product sourcing, contract management and optimization, and comprehensive travel program evaluations.

FCm's Senior Vice President, Joe Ondrus, has been appointed as brand leader of 4th Dimension Consulting in the USA. Joe is a veteran of the US travel industry and has served previously in executive roles at US Airways, the Transportation Security Administration, and Garber's Travel Service.  

"We are very excited to launch the 4th Dimension Business Travel Consulting brand," said Joe Ondrus. "It is designed to combine traditional travel consulting services such as sourcing, contract management, and benchmarking along with newly emerging offerings with a focus on innovation in the travel area."

"The travel industry moves quickly and few companies have the internal bandwidth and resources to address all the opportunities to optimize their travel programs in a timely fashion," explains Joe. "With 4D's laser focus on the customer and its unique blend of traditional consulting services and innovative On Demand resource allocation, our clients achieve success both quickly and cost effectively. 4D really is bringing a new dimension to travel management."

"I am delighted for us to officially add 4th Dimension Business Travel Consulting to the Flight Centre USA corporate family of brands," said Charlene Leiss, President of Flight Centre USA Corporate Brands. "With Joe Ondrus at the helm and many consulting clients already in place, this brand is sure to succeed in the marketplace. Many of our FCm Travel Solutions customers have benefited from the proven negotiating strengths, efficiency garnering technology and overall expertise that our team brings to the table, and we look forward to expanding upon this offering with the industry at large."

Visit the 4D Consulting website at http://www.4dconsulting.travel.

Marriot Zhuzhou Opens its doors

Marriott International has opened its first hotel under its flagship Marriott Hotels in Hunan Province, South-central China.

The Zhuzhou Marriott Hotel offers 311 elegantly designed guest rooms, upscale restaurants and superlative wedding and conferencing facilities in the thriving city of Zhuzhou.

Located adjacent to the Hunan provincial capital of Changsha, Zhuzhou is a port city on the Xiang River and a regional transportation hub.

Zhuzhou Marriott Hotel is strategically situated within the bustling commercial area around Midea Times Square at the heart of the Liyu Central Business District inside the city’s high-tech zone.

Liyu Valley, a major tourism attraction, is next to the hotel.

The hotel is a ten-minute drive from Zhuzhou West Railway Station and 40-minute drive from Changsha Huanghua International Airport.

Zhuzhou Marriott Hotel offers 311 comfortable and spacious rooms and suites stylishly designed and ranging in size from the 46-square-meter King Room to the 277-square-meter Presidential Suite.

Each guest room comes with modern amenities, complimentary coffee and tea, wireless Internet and satellite and cable television. Offering panoramic views of Zhuzhou city from the 24th floor, the Zhuzhou Marriott Hotel Executive Lounge provides a range of exclusive services to Marriott Rewards elite members and Executive Floor guests, including buffet breakfast, afternoon cocktails and all-day complimentary tea and pastries.

For more information please contact your travel manager.

China to become leading business travel market despite economic uncertainty

Revealing its latest outlook at the GBTA Convention 2015 in Orlando, the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) said that Chinese business travel spending will increase 61% over the next five years, from US$261 billion in 2014 to US$420bn in 2019.

That increase is greater than the business travel growth forecast for the next eight largest countries combined, including the US, Germany, India, UK, Indonesia, France, Turkey and Japan.

Overall, the GBTA outlook predicts that global business travel spending will hit a record US$1.25 trillion in 2015, 6.5% higher than 2014. And growth will remain strong until the end of the decade, with spending projected to grow 6.9% in 2016, 6.0% in 2017, 6.4% in 2018 and 5.8% in 2019.

In 2014, more than two-thirds of total business travel spending occurred in the US, China and Western Europe. Currently Asia Pacific owns the largest share of the business travel market, with 39%, followed by North America (27%) and Western Europe (24%). And the GBTA expects that by 2019, Asia Pacific will have gained another 3.5 percentage points in market share, while the US and Western Europe will lose 2.7 and 0.6 percentage points respectively.

GBTA also identified five emerging markets which are expected to become key business travel markets of the future. These are Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland and Turkey.

The association has also highlighted India for potential “breakout growth”, with business travel spending expected to grow at an annual rate of 11.5% per year through 2019, by which time it will be in the top five global countries for business travel.

The first IACC certified conference centre in Beijing

A conference centre in Beijing has become the first in China to be certified by the International Association of Conference Centres (IACC). The IACC specialises in small to medium-sized conference venues.

Châteauform City Chuanshan Academy, which is located in the centre of the Chinese capital, is set in a traditional 13th Century building with a courtyard. It joins a collection of 317 IACC-certified venues across the world.

Châteauform City Chuanshan Academy features an auditorium, a boardroom, two large plenary meeting rooms, an informal meeting room and five breakout meeting rooms.

China Eastern launches Chicago Route

China Eastern Airlines has applied for permission to launch direct flights between Shanghai and Chicago. 

In a statement on the website of Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the aviation authority revealed that China Eastern is planning to launch daily flights connecting Shanghai’s Pudong International with Chicago O’Hare in October 2015.

The airline will serve the route with its new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which offers 316 seats in a three-class layout, including six first class suites, 52 flat-bed seats in business class and 258 seats in economy.

If approved, Chicago will become the China Eastern’s seventh destination in North America, following Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Honolulu, Toronto and Vancouver.

Currently China Eastern has four daily flights from Singapore to Shanghai. The departure times are 055 AM, 1010 AM, 1635 PM and 2325PM.

 

Spire Elite of IHG Rewards Club

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) understands the value of recognizing and appreciating customer loyalty, which it demonstrates in novel and creative ways. Along with announcing a new top tier for IHG® Rewards Club, the brand’s esteemed world-wide loyalty program, IHG is commemorating the addition with a series of photographs from Steve McCurry, the acclaimed photographer who has been celebrated for his iconic 1984 photograph called “Afghan Girl.” IHG, a multinational hotel company that operates nearly 5,000 hotels across almost 100 countries, is now offering “Spire Elite.” The name of the new loyalty program tier is influenced by a “spir,” an old English word for a stalk of grass that out grows all the others and stands as a symbol of strength.

IHG states that the addition of this new and very elite membership tier comes after comprehensive research revealed that members felt it important to recognize customer loyalty. And Spire Elite is the brand’s efforts to demonstrate this recognition. Furthermore, the inclusion of Steve McCurry’s photography brings another layer of meaning to the brand’s relationship with its customers. A series of three poignant photos have been selected to accompany IHG® Rewards Club, which portray emotional images of people recognizing and respecting each other. 

Rewards members can reach Spire Elite by earning 75,000 points, or by completing 75 qualifying overnight stays at any IHG hotel within one year. The new tier also gives members the ability to earn a significant number of additional points including 100% extra bonus points across IHG’s entire portfolio. As an added “thank you,” Spire Elite members can also choose between gaining an extra 25,000 points and automatically upgrading someone else to the Platinum level.

GBTA highlights trends in consolidating business meetings and travels

Global Business Travel Association Foundation surveyed 200 North American and European travel buyers to uncover that one-half of them have organized meetings together with travel programs. The report “Meetings, Events and Travel Programs: Consolidation Drivers and Barriers” highlighted the increasing trend of consolidating travel and meetings. Nearly four out of five of those surveyed said the consolidation efforts were successful in improving cost visibility and transparency, the number-one driver for all consolidation efforts.

The most popular reasons for consolidation efforts are better leverage and maximizing travel spend, obtaining better negotiated rates and dynamic pricing and increasing efficiency and improving service for stakeholders.

In the report, it was revealed that technology platforms are also shown to help drive consolidation efforts. 48% of those with consolidated programs have most likely used a management tech platform as compared to those without consolidation programs.