Aeronology plots retail strategy

AS IF developing a unique technology platform unifying NDC, GDS and LCC content isn’t enough, the team behind Australian startup Aeronology has set the company’s sights on an even bigger target – the thousands of travel advisors forced to leave the industry during the pandemic but who would really like to return to doing what they love.

The company last month announced the launch of The Travel Advisors – a new retail group which provides all the tools of the travel consultant trade including product, booking platform and ticketing for a minimal cost of just $350. Set to launch in May, Aeronology CEO Russell Carstensen told travelBulletin he believes there are many who will return to travel under this model, which will allow them to be profitable even on a part-time basis because of the minimal overheads.

Ticketing will be provided through Express Travel Group, which also uses the Aeronology platform for its members. The Travel Advisors is set to formally debut in May.

Lots of action at BPG

travelBulletin’s parent company Business Publishing Group (BPG) has launched a new “Travel Daily Events” offering, providing the ideal solution for destinations and suppliers to reach the industry in the new world of constrained budgets and event restrictions.

Developed in partnership with Richard Taylor, whose Travel Community Hub has been an inspirational lifeline throughout the pandemic, TD Events combines a range of options to engage in an online webinar format, coupled with the marketing and promotional power of the BPG portfolio including Travel Daily, Cruise Weekly and of course travelBulletin – for more information see traveldaily.com.au/events.

MEANWHILE this month BPG is also launching a new Industry Survival Survey to take the pulse of the travel and tourism sector almost two years after the onset of COVID-19. Participation in the survey is free, and those who take part have the opportunity to win one of three $50 Gift Cards, as well as to help industry lobbying efforts.

We’ll be reporting on the outcome of the survey in next month’s travelBulletin, so please respond via traveldaily.com.au/survey.

Entire Travel Group protects comm

ENTIRE Travel Group has launched a new Peace of Mind Booking Plan, which it’s describing as a “ground-breaking solution” that overcomes key barriers to booking while also ensuring agent incomes are protected.

Available on hundreds of packages across Entire’s expanded portfolio of 28 destinations, the program offers a full refund if a customer’s plans are disrupted by COVID-19, but also sees travel agencies still receive full commission.

“For our travel agent partners it is a win-win because it enables them to book our holiday packages with total confidence, knowing that neither they nor their clients will be out of pocket if COVID conspires to cancel the holiday,” said Entire Travel Group Sales & Marketing Director, Greg McCallum.

As well as covering COVID-related disruptions, Entire’s booking protection also covers other factors such as flight disruptions, document theft and adverse weather events, with the aim of giving consumers increased confidence to book.

ACCC reviews HLO, CTM deal

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is casting its eye over the $175 million acquisition of Helloworld Travel Limited’s corporate businesses by Corporate Travel Management, seeking submissions from the industry about the impact it may have on competition.

A Market Enquiries Letter sought input which was due by the end of last month, with the ACCC asking suppliers, customers and other stakeholders about how Helloworld and CTM compete, the difficulty for new entrants to make their presence felt in the market, and whether customers can manage their own corporate travel through online booking websites or directly with upstream booking providers such as airlines, hotel chains and car rental firms.

The outcome of the “informal merger review” is due by mid-March, with regulatory clearance cited as one of the conditions for the settlement of the deal which includes $100 million in cash and $75 million worth of CTM shares.

Carnival puts up the white flag

CARNIVAL Cruise Line will deploy its Carnival Spirit outside of Australian waters for the first time in almost a decade, as a result of the ongoing uncertainty about a cruise resumption. Senior Cruise Director, John Heald, revealed the move, saying Spirit would operate itineraries out of Jacksonville, Florida from early next month.

Currently the company’s Australian cruise pause is in place until the end of May, but Carnival said both Spirit and its other local ship, Carnival Splendor, are “both scheduled to return to Australia when cruise operations resume from their scheduled home ports of Sydney and Brisbane”.

Swagman closure

THE COVID-19 pandemic sadly claimed yet another travel industry victim last month, with long-time Africa specialist Swagman Tours placed into voluntary administration just before Christmas.

CEO Wayne Hamilton told travelBulletin he was devastated at the move. “We fought a good fight but just could not see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, with Geelong-based Worrells appointed to close the business down.

“I know this is a terrible blow and a tragic end to not only my business, but my whole passion and career, we have fought so long to keep it going,” he added.