In brief: Catch up on the news from November 2021

NSW Terms & Conditions push

NSW Terms & Conditions push

AFTA has been working closely with the NSW Government over the development of a new information standard, aiming to help consumers easily understand their rights if they need to cancel or defer travel. Under the initiative, key terms and conditions of contracts are required to be laid out, explicitly specifying what happens in the event of cancellations, refunds and credits, processing fees and any other important exclusions.

NSW Minister for Better Regulation, Kevin Anderson, noted ongoing collaboration with the Australian Federation of Travel Agents and other key industry players, with an associated ‘Look Before You Book’ campaign to remind consumers to carefully consider the terms and conditions when making travel plans.

“The campaign includes a simple checklist that will help consumers plan their next holiday and ensure they are aware of their rights, especially when travel services have been cancelled, and what they need to consider before booking their next trip,” Anderson said.

McGrath to Crown

Accor Australasia will see the end of an era next February, when the hotelier’s long-time CEO Simon McGrath as the new Crown Resorts Group Head of Hospitality and CEO of Crown Sydney.

McGrath currently has responsibility for almost 400 hotels across the Asia-Pacific region, with 18,000 staff, with his new role including the Crown Towers Sydney hotel with 349 rooms, luxury residences, retail outlets, pool, spa and conferencing facilities as well as an array of premium restaurants.

As Group Head of Hospitality at Crown he will “play a strategic advisory and leadership role,” covering all three Crown Resorts properties in Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, with Crown Resorts MD Steve McCann saying “we are pleased to have attracted such a respected industry leader to Crown”.

Webjet agent tech buy

Webjet has confirmed the acquisition of Canadian travel tech startup Trip Ninja, adding it plans to use the technology exclusively in the Asia-Pacific region to enhance the offerings in its local online travel agency business.

Trip Ninja, which actually went into hiatus during the early stages of the pandemic, will now relaunch operations with Webjet’s backing, implementing its multi-city flight search technology to “show the consumer pricing options what could only ever be surfaced manually by a very experienced travel agent”.

Trip Ninja’s FareStructure product automates the combination of fares from carriers without a codeshare deal, while FlexTrip reorders a multi-stop itinerary to deliver a better price.

Pricing comparisons conducted by Webjet using Trip Ninja’s technology had shown “material price reductions,” according to Webjet CEO John Guscic, who said “we believe it will play a key role in helping grow our share of the international flights market”.

NTIA to return

The National Travel Industry Awards will once again take place in 2022 after a two-year hiatus, AFTA has confirmed, with the event now scheduled for 15 October 2022. AFTA CEO Dean Long said the event would have “a new approach bringing a strong focus on our people and businesses”.

The gala night will take place at Sydney’s International Convention Centre, with Long adding that “it’s important we come together to celebrate and acknowledge the innovation, determination and resilience of our people and our sector”. He said the redesigned NTIA would be finalised in the coming months with “extremely positive feedback” already from members, industry partners and the AFTA Board.

QF loyalty push

Qantas has been working hard on its Qantas Frequent Flyer program to maintain engagement despite low levels of flying during the pandemic, and last month ramped things up with the introduction of a new “Green” tier to the program, alongside the more familiar Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum and Platinum One levels. The new Green membership tier “is designed to educate, encourage and reward the airline’s 13 million frequent flyers for everything from offsetting their flights, staying in eco-hotels, walking to work and installing solar panels at home.

The carrier claims the move is a world first, with members required to complete at least five sustainable activities across six areas – flying, travel, lifestyle, sustainable purchases, reducing impact and giving back – each year to achieve Green tier status.

The initiative followed the formal commencement of an agreement with Accor which sees members of the Qantas and Accor loyalty programs able to “double up” on points earning in both programs simultaneously for flights and hotel stays.

Virgin all on deck

Virgin Australia has returned all of its stood-down workers as well as launched a recruitment drive for 600 more staff, as it strives to maintain a 33% share of the domestic market within Australia.

CEO Jayne Hrdlicka also announced the expansion of the VA fleet with seven additional Boeing 737s, telling staff that having a one-third market share “enables us to continue to deliver the right mix of destinations with high frequency to support both our business and leisure guests”.

She noted the addition of 12 new domestic VA routes since September, as well as the pending restart of flights to Fiji, Bali and New Zealand.

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