In brief: catch up on the news from October 2021

INTREPID moves into hotels

INTREPID moves into hotels

INTREPID Travel last month launched a new dedicated accommodation division, alongside a partnership with Drifter Hospitality Group, an accommodation venture being backed by corporate financier Barrenjoey Capital Partners. With an initial $75 million war chest, the group plans to “acquire and reposition hotels across Australia and New Zealand” with a target of 15 properties by 2025. Intrepid CEO James Thornton said there were significant opportunities in hospitality as a result of disruption wrought by COVID-19, saying the group is hoping to drive “outsized investment returns” by taking on under-performing hotels in prime locations.

Intrepid’s new hospitality operation is being headed up by its Asia-Pacific MD Sarah Clark, whose current responsibilities will be taken on by Intrepid Chief Sales Officer, Brett Mitchell.

The “hybrid hotel” concept envisioned by the group will offer flexible options including private suites and shared rooms, with “exciting communal areas and unique cultural and dining offerings”. With three “Drifter – an Intrepid Hotel” properties in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch to open next year, the plan is to expand globally to a $500 million portfolio of hostels, newbuilds, and repositioned hotels and commercial sites.

IATA to offer daily remittance option

THE International Air Transport Association has supported an initiative to facilitate the ongoing trading of travel agents hit hard by COVID-19, allowing those who are unable to meet the requirements IATA’s Annual Financial Review to be placed onto daily BSP remittances.

Subject to final approval at this month’s Passenger Agency Conference, the move is a new option for those who choose not to provide financial security.

IATA South West Pacific Area Manager, Matteo Zanarini, told travelBulletin the change was in addition to other measures including allowing certified, rather than audited accounts to be submitted, and extending the financial statement deadline.

Despite the impacts of the pandemic, IATA has only seen 18 locations in Australia relinquish their accreditation over the last 18 months.

However some have transitioned to GoLite accreditation, while two Australian companies have joined the GoGlobal model.

“This would not have been possible without the strong relationship that has been established for many years between IATA, the airlines and the Australian Federation of Travel Agents,” Zanarini said.

$90m Trivago fine?

EXPEDIA-OWNED Trivago is facing a potential fine of $90 million, with the penalty sought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over claims the meta-search site misled consumers both online and in TV commercials.

The Federal Court has already found Trivago guilty of contravening consumer laws, with the ACCC now seeking orders for declarations, injunctions, penalties and costs.

If successful, the penalty would be the largest fine for breaches of consumer law ever imposed in Australia, with the judge finding Trivago actually gave more prominence to accommodation providers which paid a higher cost-per-click, despite claiming to be an impartial comparison site.

TRAVLR takes equity

THE Travlr travel media venture founded by The Bali Bible’s Simon te Hennepe has successfully secured $6.7 million in funding to further expand its operations, with rich listers Antony Catalano, Matt Berriman, Tony Gandel and Alex Waislitz backing the round.

The deal was announced alongside the launch of Discover Beyond, a new portal backed by BBC Global News, offering the ability to book experiences, flights and hotels inspired by BBC travel content. TRAVLR has similar arrangements with Network 10 in Australia and Stuff in New Zealand, with the company’s business model providing a revenue stream for media businesses which were heavily dependent on travel advertising in the pre-pandemic environment.

Te Hennepe last year made an unsuccessful bid for election to the Board of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents.

Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines plot alliance

SINGAPORE Airlines and Lufthansa have lodged an application for a significant expansion of their existing collaboration on flights between Asia and Europe, seeking immunity from anti-competition laws to coordinate pricing, sales, marketing and inventory management on the routes.

In 2016 the current pact was ratified, but at the time only covered flights from Singapore Home Markets (Singapore, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia) and Lufthansa Home Markets (Germany, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland). The new iteration proposes the addition of three additional unnamed countries at the Singapore Airlines end of the deal, as well as much of Europe including the UK, France, Spain, Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Serbia, Portugal, Greece and the Netherlands.

Authorisation is sought for a five year period, with the proposal also seeking to continue to share revenue on a range of non-stop routes between Singapore and ports in Germany.

The carriers said the proposed conduct would aid the industry’s recovery from COVID-19. “It will assist to ensure that consumers gain access to the widest network of travel options as soon as is allowable,” the submission noted, with a draft determination expected before 10 December.


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