Monday, December 21, 2009

It's that time for online travel predictions

Phocuswright has again rolled-out its predictions for online travel. This time the focus is Europe.

Here are five predictions for the European online travel market in 2010 from the new report:

1. Online travel will account for more than one-third of the total European travel market.

While the total European travel market experiences a double-digit decline, online leisure and unmanaged business travel will in fact grow slightly in 2009. As effects of the recession linger into next year, consumers are increasingly shopping online for better deals. Online penetration will surge from 28% in 2008 to 34% by 2010.

2. Priceline could become the largest pan-European online travel agency (OTA).

Long in last place among the big four global online travel agencies (Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity being the other three), Priceline has gained ground dramatically since the onset of the recession and especially through the success of its main European acquisition, Amid Orbitz' stumbles and Expedia's catch-up play with Venere, Priceline is poised to become the number two OTA globally and quite possibly the largest OTA in Europe (although Expedia may have something to say about that…).

3. Metasearch will make it in Europe—finally.

The highly fragmented European online travel shopping landscape—among OTAs and suppliers—could prove fertile ground for metasearch. Uptake of meta in Europe has lagged behind the U.S., but the growing incidence of online shopping is driving more consumers to visit metasearch sites when they plan their travel.

4. Germany gains ground amid the recession.

The lumbering giant of Europe's online travel market is picking up plenty of regional market share. The country's strong cultural affinity for travel is helping prop up demand as other European markets falter. Germany's share of the European online travel market will jump from 17% in 2008 to 20% by 2011. Gute Reise!

5. As larger markets mature, all eyes turn south—and east.

The largest European travel market, the U.K., has over 40% online penetration. France and Germany are catching up. Now that the low-hanging fruit is gone, the online travel industry is looking to opportunities in less penetrated Southern and Eastern European markets. Emerging markets like Poland offer perhaps the most promising opportunities for growth.

Source: Phocuswright

Monday, October 19, 2009

Travel at your fingertips

As a special interactive experience for the exhibition visitors at fvw congress in Cologne Sept 2009, TravelTainment (an Amadeus-owned subsidiary) presented online consultancy and booking using Microsoft's Surface Table.

Microsoft Surface is a revolutionary multi-touch computer that responds to natural hand gestures and real-world objects, helping people interact with digital content in a simple and intuitive way. With a large, horizontal user interface, Surface offers a unique gathering place where multiple users can collaboratively and simultaneously interact with data and each other.

Travel agencies can soon offer advice to customers using Microsoft Surface Tables as a new central element for sales and consultancy. This is how its done: The customer and the travel agent operate the computer user interface hands-on and navigate to the destination area from a map of the world. Hotels and sights layers are shown on the map and further information and image material from the TravelTainment multimedia content is shown. Then, the chosen destination is sent directly to the TT BistroPortal from an interface on the travel agents PC.

See in action below the Traveltainment layer on Google Maps and MS SurfaceTable.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

United breaks guitars - part 2

In my previous post I was writing about an unhappy incident when United Airlines broke Dave Carroll's Taylor guitar ( The incident transformed into a funny song creating a great buzz on the net.

That was the first one in a trilogy describing different experiences with United Airlines. Since my latest post, a second video has seen the light making me to realize and be ashamed that I write so rarely on this blog :).

The second song is about airline's detracting policies apparently designed to frustrate customers into giving up their claims.

Here are some of the Dave' thoughts after the success of the first United Breaks Guitars song (more info at

Friday, July 10, 2009

United breaks guitars - Funny video about United Airlines

If you are a musician think twice before you fly with United Airlines.

"In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say “no” to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world. United: Song 1 is the first of those songs. United: Song 2 has been written and video production is underway. United: Song 3 is coming. I promise." (The original developing story at

He promised and he won. The video gathered 1,432,259 views and 9,237 comments on You Tube. Not bad at all!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

e-Power strikes back - The first Calendar airfare display has been launched for the Romanian OTAs

When planning a vacation, most of the end users are flexible with their travel dates, being more price sensitive than schedule sensitive. In order to ensure that the information provided matches their needs, a powerful +/-3 day search flexibility can be used in one shot for both outbound and inbound dates.

The long-waited feature of Master Pricer Calendar has been recently implemented in Amadeus Agency Internet Engine (e-Power) IBE and launched on the Romanian market in pilot phase.

The Calendar display improves end-consumers perception of their Online Agency in that it provides them with a reliable and friendly calendar but more than anything a clear visibility of their travel flexibility versus budget.

This new feature increases sales volumes and conversion rates as the end user is proposed the best deals available on the market, enhancing the shopping experience, spotting the best fare in the market at a single glance and in a matter of seconds . The end users can find exactly what they want and do not need to go anywhere else.

Try now this new feature on and (more customers to follow very soon) by searching with +/- 3 days flexibility.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You too, Easyjet?

In one of my previous posts I was writing about Ryanair's legal actions taken against the websites which were used to screen-scrap its content. Meanwhile it was proved that Ryanair's actions were not 100 % successful as, since that time, they won in several markets but in others they failed...or not....?!

Recently, Ryanair's rival, Easyjet, has also initiated legal claims against a German software company, InteRes, whose tour operator clients include TUI and REWE Touristik (more details here and here). Unlike Ryanair, Easyjet has offered a connection alternative through its API, a more robust and reliable solution for Easyjet inventory distribution. The Easyjet proposal was rejected by the InteRes representatives.

Jerry Dunn, easyJet’s distribution development manager, said: “We offer screen scrapers a commercially viable and fully licensed alternative form of distribution, which a majority of former scrapers have already signed up to.

“We will not accept that some scrapers continue to go about their business to the detriment of our customers. Screen scraping causes many technical problems, mis-selling of our flights and consequently to numerous customer service problems.”

Since its launching, the Easyjet API has been quickly embraced by large OTAs and GDS in the detriment of screen-scrapping.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

PhoCusWright Analysts Identify the Top 10 Travel Technology Trends for 2009

PhoCusWright takes a fresh look at the technologies and innovations that have the potential to drive change in the travel, tourism and hospitality in its annual publication, PhoCusWright’s 2009 Technology Trend Predictions.

Here they are:
  1. Despite Market Woes, Pockets of Investment Still Exist
    "During economic downturns, innovation is the single most important condition for transforming the crisis into an opportunity." (Sami Mahroum, Research Director of Britain's National Endowment for Science, Technology & the Arts and a Visiting Reader at the School of Management, Birkbeck College, University of London) [IN].

  2. The Entire Trip Experience Will Be "Informationized"
    In the past, the main focus of the travel value chain has been those components that resulted in a booking. Access to further information was a challenge because of limitations of mobile devices, lack of acceptable technology in hotel rooms, language barriers and no clear business model. This is all about to change.

  3. Software as a Service (SaaS), Cloud Computing and Open Source Spawn a New Flock of Innovators
    Open Source has matured to the point that many companies are fully dependent on it. It has become an enabler for startups, allowing them to rapidly accelerate their time to market. At the PhoCusWright's November 2008 Travel Innovation Summit, demonstrator Home and Abroad explained that they would not have been able to bring their product to market if it had not been for Open Source.

  4. Suppliers (Finally!) Provide Personalized Shopping/Booking Tools
    Today, most OTAs look much the same: Where do you want to go? When? Air only or hotel and/or car? To provide convenience and value to the customer, future learning and shopping screens will adapt to the users' stated profiles, observed profiles and shopping style. Similarly, the content presented will be the most meaningful to the customer.

  5. Technologies Will Continue to Converge
    Ten years ago, television networks were distinct from the Internet. Video was limited to TV and you went to see a movie at the theater. Now you can make a phone call anywhere to anywhere in the world using your laptop. You can watch movies and TV and browse rich content on your mobile device. You can watch content from the Internet on your TV and wirelessly network your house for all manner of content.

  6. A Flood of New Mobile Travel and Location-Based Applications Come to Market
    Mobile usage in travel applications has languished for years with a poor technology capability and an even worse business model. The mobile platform finally has interactive capability that makes it the fully functioning "3rd screen" alongside the desktop and laptop. With the growth of 3G (broadband wireless) subscriptions and smartphone adoption, apps will embrace location and context in a new way, enhancing the travel experience.

  7. Advertising Technology Transforms Travel Distribution
    Pure play booking fee models will become dinosaurs as blended models involving highly targeted ads, referral fees and fees for service establish peaceful coexistence. The technology convergence discussed in Trend 5 will enable the convergence of business models.

  8. Still Searching…for Better Search
    Last year the trends were "Semantic Technology and the Semantic Web will drive the next wave of Internet technology" and "Search will evolve to become more effective." These are still true. Lack of adoption of the formal semantic Web does not mean that search is not getting better. There are several instances where semantics are being used to improve search. As they begin to show differentiated business value over normal search, they will gain traction.

  9. Democratization of Supply Levels the Playing Field
    In the beginning when the airlines created travel distribution, the GDSs (they were called CRSs then) controlled the distribution of travel content. This created an oligopoly. But times are changing. The implementation of standards for interconnection, the transparency of the Internet, Web services and mashups, new search tools and SaaS models have all contributed to the development of an open marketplace for travel distribution.

  10. Business Intelligence and Analytics Move to the Forefront
    In tight times, you need to squeeze as much as possible from your existing operations and capabilities. This involves understanding what your competitors are doing, how efficient and effective your own operations are and what your customers are saying.
Source: Phocuswright

The complete article, is available for purchase at

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Amadeus Ideas - the innovation website dedicated to the travel industry

Amadeus Ideas website showcases several innovative applications under development which are not yet ready to be released.

Currently there are four applications opened for beta testing (for your own personal, non-commercial use): Mobile Travel Wallet (MTW), Widget Travel Wallet (WTW), Light Travel Wallet (LTW), Wallaby.

The first three applications (MTW, WTW and LTW) have the same goal but they can be used in different environments (mobile and desktop applications). Currently, the applications handle your trip information including the most recent updates (delay, rebookings) for:
  • your flight
  • your flight status
  • your hotel
  • your rental car
  • weather forecast at the location of your trip;
  • a map of the location of your trip.
Book your trip now with an Amadeus travel agent and then check your latest travel status directly from your mobile phone or desktop.

If you own a Blackberry or a Java enabled phone don't miss your chance to download Mobile Travel Wallet and try it for yourself (MTW is a multi-language application and includes also a Romanian version). Of course, the IPhone users are not forgotten and the IPhone version (Light Travel Wallet) can be found here .

Once you have installed these applications on your mobile device you can use them anytime you travel by entering your last name and the Amadeus Reservation Number of your trip into application. Your trip information will be saved on your mobile to be reviewed in offline mode at a later time (no connection cost) but, in any moment, you will be able to connect to Amadeus service to update the travel information.

Widget Travel Wallet is the desktop application to install on your PC or Macintosh to display your trip information. It is also integrated with Google Desktop and iGoogle.

If you enjoyed Amadeus applications or interested to propose new improvements please leave your mark here.

Note: All the above prototypes are still under development and they might be discontinued without early notice and might have some errors.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Monitor your electricity consumption

Remember the ad "Petrom - resurse pentru viitor"?... Well, Andrei has got a chance now and its name is Google Power Meter.

According to Google, PowerMeter is a tool which will show consumers their electricity consumption in near real-time in a secure iGoogle Gadget. The purpose is to help everyone save money and combat global warming by reducing the electricity consumption.

For now, Google PowerMeter is a closed beta program but you can find out further information here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Search for going out by mood

Last month I discovered Ifeellondon, a nice website with a catchy idea. Ifeellondon suggets different places for going out in London (restaurants, clubs and activities) based on your mood, all mashed-up in Google Maps.

Do you feel broke? Try this... Naughty?....then you should definitely try this...

Apart from London, there are New York and Toronto ready for your moods (perhaps other major cities will follow soon). As you probably imagined you can also mark your favorite places on the map and share other people's moods.

I believe Ifeellondon is just the beginning of a new type of search which will open the boundaries of new web experiences. I find the idea very useful for the travel websites, especially the ones specialized in destination management.