‘Chariot’ Is a Cheery, Cooperative Adventure Game — Featuring a Dead Father

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For once, the princess is doing the heavy lifting

Chariot is a cooperative platforming game that follows a princess and her fiancé, as they embark on a journey to find a resting place for her father, the King. Unfortunately, the King's ghost is very picky about where his body will be entombed, so the princess and her suitor must travel to dangerous lands — all while hauling a coffin on wheels.

Frima Games, the team behind Chariot, showed off its progress on the lighthearted title in a developer diary, above, released Thursday. Read more...

More about Entertainment, Gaming, Indie Games, and Game Trailers

Quora Launches iPad App, Hints at Growth

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Quora, the Q&A website where users answer everything from requests for travel tips to philosophical queries like "Why does war exist," isn't the most widely-discussed service these days. It certainly hasn't gotten the same amount of attention as, say, Biz Stone's Q&A app Jelly

But Quora is more popular than ever, its CEO insists. The company rolled out its first iPad app Thursday (nearly three years after the launch of its iPhone app); cofounder and CEO Adam D'Angelo wrote in a blog post that his first tablet app would help fuel further growth.

Though the CEO stopped short of revealing hard user numbers, he said the number of answers written per week has tripled in the last year — and that the past week "was Quora’s highest week ever across many metrics." Read more...

More about Tech, Ipad Apps, Quora, Ios Apps, and Apps Software

50 States and 500 People in 1,000 Days: Entrepreneur Helps Americans Overcome Recession

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On January 5, 2011, Greg Hartle stood in the pouring rain near Pike Place Market in Seattle, drenched and alone.

Though he intended to travel across the country and inspire hundreds of Americans who'd lost their jobs in the Recession to reinvent themselves, Hartle, two hours into his journey, was the one who needed some encouragement.

“Those two hours could have been the most nerve-racking two hours of my life,” Hartle tells Mashable. “At that moment, I thought, 'No one really knows about this, so I should just back out.'” Read more...

More about Small Business, Entrepreneurship, Traveling, Business, and Startups

Perspective: Rotate Destinations To Solve Meeting Burnout – Business Travel News


Perspective: Rotate Destinations To Solve Meeting Burnout
Business Travel News
Create networking opportunities among local professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners. Turn the unique attributes of the city, region and country where you're convening into a series of compelling reasons to attend the event itself. Even if ...

Air Sourcing Moves Out of the Slow Lane

Horse-buggy vs CarsThe big bottleneck in airline sourcing projects is the time and cost of entering detailed airline contract terms.  That will soon change for the better.

Fayrnet, a product of Volaro, automates the loading of airline contracts into GDSs.

In speaking today with Patrick Healy, Volaro’s Director of Sales and Distribution, I discovered that this tool could  – and should – be easily adapted to handling corporate contracts and proposals from airlines.

Healy says it handles Category 25 and 35 fares (discounts off published fares, and fixed, aka flat, lane or zone fares, respectively).  The demo I saw quickly converted a typical Excel-based airline contract for dozens of fixed fares across a dozen points of sale in a matter of  a few minutes.

Let’s assume the tool works well.  The implications are clear:

  • Air sourcing project fees should come down.  This assumes Fayrnet can do the same job at a significantly lower price than a skilled analyst.  One of the most experienced analysts I know estimated that it could take ~ 30 hours to load a complicated Star alliance proposal for a multinational client.  Fayrnet claims to process simple contracts in minutes; complicated contracts will take a few hours, and may require special formatting.
  • Air contract analysis will be more accurate.  Automation reduces errors, right?  This should be good news for buyers, who have trouble spotting errors made by their analyst, and should give airlines more confidence that their complex bids have been entered correctly.
  • Air sourcing projects will take much, much less time from start to finish.  Most air consulting shops run a client’s proposals through the same analyst, so he or she is the bottleneck.  Using Fayrnet, the analyst can upload many contracts quickly, presumably even simultaneously.  Faster contract/bid loading means much shorter cycle times between negotiation rounds.

And for those star-gazers out there, here’s a not-so-wild-anymore prediction:

Automated contract loading will mean the end of airline sourcing as we know it.

Think dynamically-adjusted discounts based on weekly or monthly market share results, as decided by the airline.  Why spend time negotiating discounts and waiting months or quarters to see if the market shares materialize?

I think airlines will eventually get to dynamically pricing, or dynamically revenue-managing, individual corporate accounts.  Airlines see the market share data daily.  With automated contract loading, they can quickly adjust their discounts as needed to get more share, or better margins…why bother asking the buyer for a shaky “commitment”?

OK, that will strike many of you as far-fetched, but it has to get you thinking about the longer-term implications of the commercial relationship between airlines and travel buyers.

For now, let’s just be excited about the prospect of significantly improving a painful part of the travel procurement landscape. The combustion engine for airline sourcing is here.

NB1: I’ve asked Volaro for Fayrnet references, and will check them. I’ll report if they come in less than strong.

NB2: I have no commercial interest in this product; just a fan of the potential for industry improvement.

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Filed under: Airlines, Consultants, Travel Procurement Tagged: air rfp, airline sourcing, fayrnet

Melia’s Miami move – Buying Business Travel


Travel Daily News International

Melia's Miami move
Buying Business Travel
Spanish hotel chain Melia has announced the launch of its first property in the US. The ME Miami is slated to open in spring 2013. The downtown property, owned by the private equity CGI Merchant Group, will take over the current location of Casa ...
Melia Hotels International announces ME Miami, the ME by Melia brand's first ...Travel Daily News International

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Business Travel Awards 2015: Judges announced – Buying Business Travel


Business Travel Awards 2015: Judges announced
Buying Business Travel
As the 2015 Business Travel Awards edges closer, BBT can reveal the judges who will meticulously evaluate the achievements of the travel industry's leading businesses, teams and individuals from the past 12 months. The panel of respected senior travel ...

Business Travel Awards 2015: Judges announced

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As the 2015 Business Travel Awards edges closer, BBT can reveal the judges who will meticulously evaluate the achievements of the travel industry's leading businesses, teams and individuals from the past 12 months.

The panel of respected senior travel buyers will have the challenging task of deciding from hundreds of entries in more than 20 categories.

The Business Travel Awards, now in its 20th year, has long been a key fixture on the industry calendar, each year bringing together business travel leaders for the not-to-be-missed gala evening.

The judges are:

SARAH-JAYNE ALDRIDGE Category group manager – support services, Anglo American 

LYNN BENNETT Global travel manager BG Group 

RUEDIGER BRUSS Corporate purchasing, global category manager, travel and mobility, Continental AG 

ROGER BURR Head of retail and corporate services procurement, Marks and Spencer 

ANDREW CARNE Travel service delivery specialist, BP International 

JAMES CLARK Environment and office services manager, Simmons and Simmons 

YVES GALIMIDI Engagement manager, TCG Consulting 

CELIA GULLEN Senior buyer – business travel, BT 

KERRIE HENSHAW-COX Global commercial leader, Astra Zeneca Travel Service 

IKE IHENACHO Global travel expense and meetings, Mondelez International 

GABRIELA MEISSNEROVA Senior buyer and travel manager EMEA, Stanley Black and Decker 

CAROL NEIL Head of corporate travel EMEA, Nomura 

PETER QUINN Category manager, Steria

DEBORAH SHORT Global travel manager, Willis

Chair of the judging panel

MIKE TOYNBEE Managing editor, Buying Business Travel

Moderators

PAUL REVEL Editor, Buying Business Travel

SIMONE BUCKLEY Chief executive, Institute of Travel and Meetings

BOB PAPWORTH Executive editor, Buying Business Travel

 

How to enter the 2015 Business Travel Awards

The deadline for awards entries is September 12. To view categories and criteria visit www.businesstravelawards.com. For the latest updates on the event, follow the Business Travel Awards on Twitter at @BBTAwards

Business Travel Awards 2015: Judges announced

There's still time to submit awards entries

The interview: Andrew Crawley, CCO, British Airways – Buying Business Travel


The interview: Andrew Crawley, CCO, British Airways
Buying Business Travel
The airline industry is constantly dealing with the threat of disruption caused by industrial action, whether border forces, air traffic controllers, pilots or cabin crew – the Buying Business Travel website has run more than 20 stories already this ...

The interview: Andrew Crawley, CCO, British Airways

Andrew Crawley became chief commercial officer of one of the world’s largest airlines by a somewhat circuitous route. “I studied chemistry at university – so it was clearly obvious I was going to end up in aviation,” he jokes. “Then I became a teacher, and later I worked in advertising. BA was a client, and that was the entry in.”

Crawley and I are talking in Waterside, British Airways’ 9,000sqm global HQ near Heathrow. Home to more than 4,000 employees, it’s a self-contained urban village – with airy, glass-clad internal streets, and facilities from hairdressers and banks to a gym and its own branch of Waitrose.

“I looked over the fence, and thought the client’s side was better than the agency’s side, and BA offered me a job. I started in marketing, and had various jobs around the airline – general management, running areas of the business in Asia-Pacific and Europe. Then I was in revenue management, and sales and marketing.” 

Business vs Leisure

I start off by asking Crawley whether low-cost carriers such as Easyjet are taking the reins of the short-haul market in Europe. “Clearly they’ve been growing very strongly, but primarily in the leisure arena – where they’ve grown the market as well,” he says.

“But on the business side we haven’t seen that much share loss to Easyjet. We focus on having very robust and deep schedules for business travellers on the majority of our Heathrow routes, which attracts a lot of those travellers to us. We do deals directly with corporates, and we have highly competitive prices.”

Short-haul remains a major focus for BA, he says, not least because it feeds the airline’s long-haul network. So is short-haul from Gatwick and Heathrow actually profitable? “They are moving to profitability,” says Crawley. “Gatwick, yes; Heathrow is forecast to be – it has to be, for its future.”

Key to profitability is “revenue-per-plane”, he says, and this is currently being boosted by the new slimline seats being fitted to BA’s short-haul fleet – meaning more seats and, therefore, more opportunity to compete on price. “I think sometimes we miss communicating what great fares we have at BA,” says Crawley. Which, not surprisingly, brings us round to distribution.

“One of the challenges we have is the distribution of fares, with the rather clunky, old-fashioned systems and IT language that’s available,” he says. “It doesn’t allow us to grab the attributes of the fare, simply providing a price comparison – and that’s been less helpful in getting our message across.” 

Updating the industry

The airline industry is citing New Distribution Capability (NDC) as the panacea to this problem, but others are voicing concerns that NDC will compromise clear price-comparison for buyers. Crawley disagrees. “NDC for me is very straightforward. It is modernising the industry, by updating our 25-year-old language, called EDIFACT [the United Nations’ Electronic Data Interchange For Administration, Commerce and Transport standard, which has been in place since 1987]. A new web-capable language will allow us to distribute our fares more effectively and tell the customer more about what they are getting for the price – that will make it more transparent. Deciding what you do with that standard when you’ve got it is a different matter altogether, and will be driven by what customers want.” 

He adds: “There’s a lot of scare-mongering going on in this space.” 

Travel buyers can find airline loyalty schemes a headache when trying to drive policy compliance among employees. But Crawley points out that BA’s On Business programme is designed to help small- to medium sized enterprise (SME) buyers. 

“It’s our fastest growing segment and has been for the last five years,” he says. “We have very loyal customers in that space and we offer them points or a discount, you can choose. Some SME customers like to have the money upfront, and some like to have the points and use them when they please. It’s worked very well.”  He says the programme will be relaunched to include Iberia and American Airlines towards the end of this year or the start of 2015. 

So how significant is the SME sector to BA? “It’s big,” he says. “Probably as big, if not bigger, than the large corporates sector. It’s the engine room of many of western Europe’s economies and, indeed, the US’s.” 

I ask Crawley if the traditional corporate airfare deal has had its day. “There are two types of corporate deals,” he replies. “One is the more profound and loyal deal where we will strike prices on portfolio routes across all of our JV [joint venture] carriers – they’re interchangeable, which is one of the biggest benefits. Or you get some corporate customers who’ve made the decision to buy cheaper seats on the day. That’s fine – it’s not because we haven’t given them the deal they want, it’s because they have decided that’s how they want to manage their travel. I don’t think we’ll see the end of the corporate deal. Big customers like to be recognised – and we do, by giving them discounts. That’s been the case for decades.” Crawley adds that BA and Iberia parent IAG’s various agreements with the likes of American Airlines, Finnair and JAL means he can effectively sell across a network of 11 hubs around the world. 

Potential disruption

The airline industry is constantly dealing with the threat of disruption caused by industrial action, whether border forces, air traffic controllers, pilots or cabin crew – the Buying Business Travel website has run more than 20 stories already this year relating to strike threats. Among these are reports of potential disruption at BA over the pay and conditions of  ‘mixed fleet’ cabin crew who are on different – unions say, inferior – contracts to staff employed before 2010. 

Should travel buyers be concerned about future industrial action? “There’s a lot of speculation going around at the moment, which I wouldn’t be too concerned about.” replies Crawley. “We are having pay talks, and there is a proposal out there on a pay award that we’re pretty comfortable is going to fit the bill.”  

Looking east

BA’s veteran UK sales boss Richard Tams has taken up a new role as executive vice-president for China and the Philippines. I ask Crawley why he created this position. “We are committing much more resource to China because it’s going to be a huge market, and we want to have the right boots on the ground, making the right relationships,” he says. 

He points out that Tams was running BA’s biggest region, “and the revenue we get from China clearly doesn’t compare with the revenue that we drive from the UK. But we wanted to make a statement – we’re putting our top guy out there. He’s going to have a broader role – working with airport authorities, potential partner airlines, government and customers. Basically, we said to Richard, ‘Go out there, tell us what you need to make it a success, and you’ll get it.’” 

Sustainable Travel

Crawley is excited about BA’s Green Sky project in partnership with Solena Fuels. The scheme, which featured in BBT’s Hotlist for 2014, will build Europe’s first facility for turning household waste into aircraft biofuel, at the former Coryton refinery in Thurrock, Essex. BA has guaranteed to buy the plant’s total output of biofuel for the first ten years of operation at market prices. “It takes waste that would otherwise be going into landfill. People are willing to give us the waste because it costs them money to put stuff into landfill, so there’s a symbiotic relationship there. About 500,000 tons of waste can be turned into about 120,000 tons of jet fuel – this is where my chemistry degree comes in – using the Fischer-Tropsch process. And the great thing about Coryton is a pipeline which goes straight to Heathrow.”  The plant is expected to open in 2017, and Crawley says in terms of scale, when fully operational, it will provide more than double the fuel used on BA’s London City flights, with carbon savings equivalent to taking 150,000 cars off the road. 

Meanwhile, the price of conventional fuel continues to be a driving force in BA’s strategy – which is why the airline is gradually replacing its fleet with less thirsty models. “The B787 is 30 per cent more efficient than the B767 which is generally what it’s replacing, and the A380 is about 16 per cent more economic than the 747,” he says. Meanwhile B777-300s are being replaced with A350s and Dreamliner B787-9s. He says the Bmi slots that BA acquired at Heathrow gives the airline flexibility to grow the long-haul network to meet demand. He describes a  “moderate growth profile” in fleet terms, with  “a new long-haul route every 12- to-18 months”. 

Crawley adds that airlines shouldn’t be afraid of talking about making money:  “Do customers want us to be able to invest in new products? To be able to afford new planes? To be able to pay dividends to shareholders? The answer to all those questions has got to be ‘yes’.”

Snapshot

Jenny Southan looks back at yesterday"s travel. This month, it's the opening of the Savoy in 1889

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Make yourself at home

UK serviced apartment providers are on a quest to attract more business travellers, reports Michelle Harbi

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Data zone

Helping you make the right travel decisions. This month: top 50 global air hubs, top 10 fastest-growing global hubs, and top 20 destination cities by overnight visitors

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What’s on

Business Traveller rounds up events happening around the world in September

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