Tech in Travel: NFTs, a nifty friends and family travel app, and airlines told to fess up on fees

Tech in Travel: NFTs, a nifty travel app for friends and family, and airlines being asked to waive fees

29/09/2022, by Ian Jarrett, in Aviation, Featured, Fintech, Hospitality, Startups, Sustainability, Technology, Tours and Activities

Is sustainable travel just a fad? A trendy travel choice that fades faster than a politician’s promise?

It depends who you ask.

A Trip.com survey found that 21.3% of European-based respondents said people are choosing to travel sustainably because “it’s trending”. The proportion of Asian travelers who saw things the same way was significantly lower at 7.1%.

Trip.com’s first Sustainable Travel Consumer Report 2022 compiled responses from 11 markets in Asia and Europe. It turns out that the impact of travel tops the list of reasons why travelers are increasingly interested in sustainable travel.

Sustainable travel – both in theory and in practice – has moved from the back of travelers’ minds to the forefront of the decision-making process, with more than 68% of respondents in Singapore and 90% of respondents in Thailand acknowledging its importance.

One of the report’s key findings: The pandemic is a key driver of a greater collective desire to travel sustainably, stemming from shifts in consumer mindsets and behaviors.

Over half of respondents in both Singapore (63%) and Thailand (78.5%) cited COVID-19 as a catalyst for their increased appetite to embrace sustainable options.

Travel restrictions reinforced their appreciation for the great outdoors and spurred demand to travel closer to home.

You want to know more about the visitors of your travel destination. Where are you from? Who sends them there? How do you get there?

A partnership between Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC) and ForwardKeys offers a new tool designed for destination marketing organizations (DMOs), tourist offices and convention and visitor bureaus.

Destination Gateway, available in the US, combines ARC’s ticketing data with ForwardKeys’ travel search interests, flight schedules and capacity data to provide a comprehensive view of travel to a specific destination.

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The product allows users to gain insights into trips to their destination and similar destinations to better inform decisions and marketing strategies.

Data is presented in visual representations that can be exported for presentations and further analysis.

Steve Solomon, Chief Commercial Officer at ARC, said of Destination Gateway, “Nowhere else do destination marketers find the depth of air travel data, travel interests and travel agency insights that can bring travelers to their destinations.”

Users can customize their Destination Gateway reports in four modules for insights that grow a destination:

  • Performance – How well a destination attracts travelers.
  • Recovery – comparing today’s travel levels to pre-COVID-19 levels.
  • Connectivity – data intended to help in negotiations with airlines.
  • Agencies – Insight into which agencies are selling trips to a specific destination.

The jury may be out on the true value of NFTs, but that hasn’t stopped their spread.

Now Singapore’s entertainment island Sentosa has jumped on board with the launch of Discovery Neverending NFTs by Sentosa, part of the island’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

The Discovery Neverending Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) feature artworks by 15 Singapore-based digital artists – including illustrators, graphic designers, muralists and multidisciplinary artists.

Each NFT is a one-of-a-kind digital collectible inspired by the island’s distinctive elements and brought to life in a variety of styles. Members of the public can register their interest to receive one of 1,972 NFTs – a symbolic number representing the year Sentosa was founded.

Slots will be released in batches on a first come, first served basis and all NFTs will be randomly distributed to winners on October 17th.

The NFTs are exclusive to Sentosa Islander members, who can register for free. Members must then create an account and get verified on the Discord social platform, as well as have a digital wallet on Phantom.

The Travel Technology Association, which represents brands including Expedia, Kayak, Skyscanner, Booking.com, Skyscanner, Travelport and Amadeus, supports a move by the US Department of Transportation to require airlines and travel search sites to be more open with their fees.

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The proposal aims to make the process of finding and booking travel more transparent and would affect US airlines, foreign airlines and third parties such as online travel agencies and metasearch sites that display fares for flights to, from and within the United States.

“Consumers, especially those who only travel once or twice a year, often do not know what products and services are included in their airline tickets. Airline models differ from airline to airline, with some not charging additional fees for baggage or seating while others do, and prices can vary significantly,” said Stewart Alvarez, interim president and CEO of the association.

“In addition, seats may be available at the time the consumer purchases the airline ticket and may not be available a few days or weeks later, making it difficult for a traveling family to sit together.”

The rules would require that upfront, when an airfare is first displayed, any charges for a passenger sitting with their child, for changing or canceling a flight, and for checked or carry-on baggage, must also be displayed. Fees would need to be displayed on a passenger or itinerary basis, depending on the consumer’s choice.

In the first two quarters of this year, US airlines took in more than $3.2 billion in baggage fees, according to the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Everyone has been trying to book a flight and hotel accommodation for your large family or group of friends and realized they weren’t all on the same page?

Cue Troupe, an app released by JetBlue that gives anyone planning a group meeting a single hub for all the planning details. The app allows the various members of a tour group to propose, vote on and comment on dates, destinations and activities so that each member of the tour group can participate in the planning process.

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Members can add different travel destinations, activities, hotel choices and videos, all stored in one place for everyone to see. Members can also vote on different travel options, allowing the group to come to a consensus without one person having to call or message the members to reach a conclusion.

“Anyone who has organized a vacation for a group of friends or family knows that getting everyone to agree on details can take the fun out of planning a trip,” said Andres Barry, president of JetBlue Travel Products.

Lodging company Ascott gives TikTokern a good reason to start lobbying. Eight will be selected for a global TikTok campaign, the #Infin8Citadines Global TikTokers’ Challenge, which will reward the winner with a 24-day stay at Citadines homes in eight different cities.

TikTok influencers from Australia, France, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam will be hosted for a day in participating Citadines homes in the cities they each represent.

Your task? Create themed content weekly to compete for the grand prize.

The challenge will also offer weekly giveaways to TikTok fans, with more than two million points available to redeem for Ascott’s loyalty program – Ascott Star Rewards (ASR).

Lodging company Ascott gives TikTokern a good reason to start lobbying.

The campaign, which marks the refresh of Citadines’ “For the Love of Cities” brand, will be featured prominently on Ascott’s newly launched TikTok channel (@discoverasr).

TikTok followers who comment and like the #Infin8Citadines content produced by the eight influencers over three weeks can win 80,000 ASR points to redeem free stays (nine winners per week).

To qualify for the weekly giveaways, followers must be an ASR member, follow Ascott’s TikTok account (@discoverasr), comment and like the influencers’ videos reposted on the @discoverasr channel.

The grand prize winner will be selected based on the highest engagement achieved with their content and the most sign-ups to the ASR loyalty program during the campaign period.