Tech In Travel: A new way of selling cruises; VR gains new friends; the sector that ‘knows too much’ but not enough; Asians are going local via OTAs, cruise ships get TikTok

Cruisebound, a new online travel agency for cruises, has launched with US$10 million in Series A funding, led by former Booking Holdings chairman and Priceline CEO Jeff Boyd and PAR Capital Ventures.

Other participants are TripAdvisor founder and former CEO Steve Kaufer, Concur founder and Madrona Venture Group managing partner Steve Singh, Link Ventures founder Dave Blundin, and Plug & Play Ventures.

Cruisebound, led by co-founder and CEO Pierre-Olivier Lepage, says it offers the customer service of an offline agency with the price comparison and direct booking of an online travel agency.

The site targets first-time cruisers with a mobile-first approach meant to appeal to Millennial and Gen Z travelers.

Cruisebound says during its year of beta testing, 91% of bookings were made on a mobile device.

Users can compare prices, itineraries, ships and cabin types from major cruise lines, including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and MSC.

Every booking includes live post-booking customer service via phone, text and email.

“When booking my first cruise, I was surprised how difficult it was to search and book online – and almost impossible on a mobile device. My go-to travel sites for booking flights and hotels are not designed to sell a complicated cruise product . This is clearly a leading factor in the divide between cruisers and non-cruisers,” says Lepage.

Cruisebound works with many of the major cruise lines by providing customer service from an offline agency with price comparison and direct booking from an online travel agency.

“We designed Cruisebound to sell cruises and only cruises. We offer an easy-to-use site that is optimized for mobile, which is where young travelers prefer to research and book vacations. Then we combine the instant booking of an online travel agency with the live Customer service from an offline agent.

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Boyd said that technology companies have improved the travel planning and booking process for consumers in flights, hotels, vacation homes and tours “and there is an opportunity for our experienced and innovative team to build scale with a single focus on building the best consumer experience. and Cruises”.

“Cruisebound’s founders have a proven track record of solving customer pain points by using data science and experimentation to build great products.”

Cruisebound’s founding team also includes Rocket Travel co-founders Jay Hoffman and Bjorn Larsen. Advisors include Agoda co-founder Bryan Lewis, Priceline Partner Network co-founder Andrew Loewen and Atle Skalleberg, former COO of Flight Center Travel Group.

Source: Focuswire

Eviivo, the hospitality software company, has released its list of the top travel trends of 2023 with – not unexpectedly – mobile apps, automation, APIs – which Eviivo calls the ‘Holy Grail technology’ – and omnichannel platforms leading the way.

Eviivo also has high hopes for virtual reality, which it says will “wear the crown to determine places to visit”.

“While most people say that virtual travel currently leaves a lot to be desired, 46% admit that they are more likely to travel to new places after visiting them virtually, and with Metaverse introducing virtual and augmented reality, travelers will soon have a lot to choose from.

“Virtual reality will also be more common on websites offering virtual tours, which is known to increase bookings, improve guest review scores and simply stand out from competitors,” the Eviivo survey found.

One key finding from Datalex’s The Digital Airline 2023 report is a difference between how travelers view airlines on the subject of innovation versus how airline executives judge their companies.

Just 11% of surveyed travelers say that airlines are ahead of other e-commerce websites such as fashion, Amazon, etc. But 24% of surveyed executives believe their companies are ahead of other sites and 17% believe they are on par.

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“These findings show that airlines are vastly underestimating the reality of the perception gap that exists between airlines and their customers,” said Datalex Chief Technology Officer Brian Lewis.

“Unconsciously, perhaps one of the factors that has contributed to the travel industry’s reluctance to catch up with other e-commerce sites is the oxymoron of those who ‘know too much.’

“The travel industry is full of experts and industry stalwarts who know the business inside out, and because of this there hasn’t been much input on learnings from other industries, giving credence to the adage that ‘knowledge equals inertia’.”

The big three OTAs – Booking.com, Agoda and Traveloka – topped the STAAH Booking Engine’s list as the top online booking channels worldwide with the highest booking revenue for hotels in 2022.

The top 10 online booking channels worldwide are ranked accordingly:

  1. Booking.com
  2. Agoda
  3. Traveloka
  4. Expedia
  5. STAY
  6. GO-MMT
  7. Ticket.com
  8. Trip.com
  9. Airbnb
  10. Hotel beds

“The pandemic has evolved travelers’ booking behavior and preferences. Our data shows that accommodation providers across the board are using a combination of traditional and new channels to attract guests for a more holistic and dynamic distribution, guest booking and revenue strategy,” says Tony Howlett, CEO of STAAH Ltd.

Airbnb continues to be a strong contender in the accommodation sector, especially with more traditional hotel businesses using their channel in recent years, which continue to show convergence of hotels and short-term rentals.

However, the OTAs are not the only ones raking in the hotel bookings. An increasing number of travelers are also making direct bookings on hotel websites.

For countries with reduced international travel in recent years, the STAAH data also shows a higher preference among travelers for their own regional online channels.

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For Malaysia, Traveloka, Tiket and MG Holidays are among the top. In the Philippines, it’s Ctrip and Hotelbeds. In Indonesia it is Traveloka and Booking.com.

The lists of top OTAs separated by different countries are as follows:

Top OTAs preferred by travelers from Singapore in 2022

  1. Booking.com
  2. Trip.com
  3. Expedia
  4. Agoda
  5. Traveloka
  6. Ticket.com
  7. STAY
  8. Hostelworld Group
  9. Hotel beds
  10. MG Group

Top OTAs preferred by travelers from Malaysia in 2022

  1. Agoda
  2. Booking.com
  3. Trip.com
  4. Expedia
  5. Traveloka
  6. Ticket.com
  7. STAY
  8. Hotel beds
  9. Airbnb
  10. WebBeds

Top OTAs preferred by travelers from Indonesia in 2022

  1. Traveloka
  2. Booking.com
  3. Agoda
  4. Ticket.com
  5. Expedia
  6. Hotel beds
  7. MG Group
  8. STAY
  9. Trip.com
  10. Pegipegi

Top OTAs preferred by travelers from India in 2022

  1. GO-MMT
  2. Booking.com
  3. Agoda
  4. Expedia
  5. STAY
  6. Travelguru
  7. Airbnb
  8. HRS
  9. EaseMyTrip.com
  10. Hotel beds

Top OTAs preferred by travelers from the Philippines in 2022

  1. Booking.com
  2. Agoda
  3. STAY
  4. Expedia
  5. Trip.com
  6. Hotel beds
  7. Airbnb
  8. Traveloka
  9. Ticket.com
  10. WebBeds

Source: Travel Weekly Asia

Carnival Corp. is the latest cruise line to roll out faster internet service across all its brands to meet customer demand for video calls, stream content and Instagram and Tik Tok posts – just like they do on land.

Carval Corp. will use SpaceX’s Starlink satellite technology to provide lower latency (the time it takes for data to reach a device) and higher connectivity.

The company began rolling out Starlink on Carnival Cruise Line and Aida Cruises ships in December and plans to install Starlink on Princess, Holland America Line, Seabourn and Cunard Line along with international brands P&O Cruises in Australia and Great Britain and Costa Cruises.

Royal Caribbean Group also plans to deploy Starlink across its entire fleet, including Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea brands. Hurtigruten also uses Starlink, and Windstar explored whether the service would work for several of its ships.

Source: Focuswire



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