Online Travel Update: Trip.com grows European market share with superior technology; Sabre adds travel management company veteran | Foster Garvey PC


With the holidays rapidly approaching and the yearend only one week away, it is no surprise that the last week was fairly quiet. The one notable exception, however, was Trip.com, which released its financials on Thursday, December 16.   

Trip.com Grows European Market Share with Superior Technology
(“Trip.com Bolsters Flight Search Engine to Boost European Bookings,” December 17, 2021 via Skift) (subscription may be required)
Leveraging its increasingly superior technology platform (particularly around flight search), Chinese platform Trip.com is making huge strides in growing its European market share. Not only is Trip.com’s internally developed flight search engine better at delivering users appropriate fares and itineraries, but the systems’ ability to offer ancillary products and services is attracting the attention of European airlines. (Trip.com owns Travelfusion, one of a handful of technology vendors that aggregate airline NDC content for onward distribution.) Trip.com also plans to be one of the first online booking platforms to roll out Hopper’s price freeze tool (allowing users to pay to freeze fares up to 14 days) to users in North American and Europe as part of a previously announced deal.

Sabre Adds Travel Management Company Veteran
(“Sabre Names Former CWT Head Ekert President,” December 15, 2021 via Business Travel News)
Last week, Sabre announced that Kurt Ekert, former President and CEO of travel management company, CWT, will become President of the global distribution system (GDS) operator. According to the announcement, Ekert will oversee all aspects of Sabre’s business and technology operations and report to current CEO, Sean Menke. Prior to his position at CWT, Ekert served as Senior Vice President and CCO of GDS competitor, Travelport, for five years. Business as usual for Sabre or perhaps a further evidence that Sabre hopes to take a far broader role in travel distribution, not just GDS?

Have a great week. Happy Holidays. 


Other news:

Booking.com Travel Predictions 2022
December 15, 2021 via Hospitality Net – Latest Industry News
60 percent of travelers are looking forward to meeting new people while on vacation. The pandemic has forced us to focus on what and who is a priority in our lives – and freedom has never been so valued. Now that we are able to get back to travel once again, 2022 will not only see people reconnecting with friends and family, but also seeking new connections with 60 percent wanting to meet new people while away.



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Online Travel Update: South Korean regulators re-examine OTA practices; cruise bookings move online; Fairfly plans to offer hotel solution | Foster Garvey PC


Our cruise industry friends make an appearance in this week’s Update, one of their first appearances in some time. Enjoy.

South Korean Regulators Re-Examine OTA Practices
(“Online hotel booking sites to come under heightened scrutiny from South Korean regulator,” October 28, 2021 via MLEX Insight) (subscription may be required)
By now, readers are well aware of South Korea’s previous investigation into the major online travel agencies (OTAs)’ contracting practices (specifically, rate parity requirements) and the resulting “corrections” announced by OTAs (Booking.com, Agoda, Expedia and Hotels.com) earlier this year. These corrections mirror the compromises reached in several other countries where OTAs agreed to remove availability and indirect channel rate parity, but retained direct channel parity requirements (e.g., hoteliers must continue to provide OTAs with rates equal to or better than the rates on the hoteliers’ own websites). With the travel industry expected to rebound quickly in Korea as the threat of COVID subsides, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) announced last week plans to re-examine the OTAs’ current contracting practices and their effect on the market. Separately, the KFTC announced that an investigation into OTAs’ advertising practices, specifically whether OTAs provide adequate notice regarding display advertising’s effects on sort order, was already underway.

Cruise Moves Online
(“Online cruise bookings leave many travel advisors behind,” October 27, 2021 via PhocusWire)
For years I’ve asked our cruise industry clients why the industry was slow to move more of their bookings online (relying instead on traditional offline distribution channels). While the answers varied, the most common response I received was that the complexity of cruise offerings (e.g., hundreds of cabin types, rates, etc.) made it difficult for most travelers to book online. Times may be changing. In a recorded video to travel advisors, Royal Caribbean Group CEO, Richard Fain, reported that while demand for the company’s cruise offerings was rebounding, the revival was coming largely through online channels. Is this simply because of travelers’ reaction to moving their other purchases online during COVID? A reflection of the massive layoffs that occurred at travel agents and advisors? For an industry that has relied so heavily through the years on travel agents and advisors, this will be an interesting trend to watch.  

Fairfly to Offer Hotel Solution
(“FairFly to Debut Hotel Solution,” October 25, 2021 via Business Travel News)
Last week, re-shopping platform, Fairfly, announced that it would be launching a hotel re-shopping platform in early 2022. The platform will allow Fairfly clients to reshop (e.g., automated cancellation of current bookings and rebooking at lower available rates) their hotel bookings through the platform’s use of multi-channel data and artificial intelligence. Hotel rate benchmarking and other tools will also be made available to clients. Fairfly’s announcement comes at a time where other similar fintech-backed travel products and services (i.e. Hopper’s airfare and room rate freezes) are garnering much of the industries’ attention.


Other news:

Marriott to Adopt a Dynamic Pricing System for Bonvoy Loyalty Program
October 26, 2021 via TravelWeekly
Starting early next year, Marriott will move to dynamic pricing for its Bonvoy rewards redemption rates, the company announced. Dynamic pricing – setting flexible prices for products or services based on market demands – has been used to boost profits for a range of industries from sporting-event tickets to rideshare services.

Trivago and China’s Huawei Partner for Smartphone Company’s Paid Search
October 26, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required)
The Trivago-Huawei deal is one of several that Trivago is piloting where it provides backend services to business partners. These could develop one day into a material revenue stream for the German company.



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Online Travel Update: Marriott and Rakuten announce partnership; Sonder continues to expand distribution network; Expedia combines loyalty programs | Foster Garvey PC


Marriott and Rakuten Announce Partnership
(“In Marriage of Two Giants, Marriott and Rakuten Take Vow on Loyalty,” July 10, 2021 via WIT)
Marriott International and Japanese e-commerce platform (e-commerce, fintech, digital content and communications all linked through a rewards program) Rakuten Group announced a partnership last week that will provide members of the parties’ loyalty program with benefits under each program. Under the partnership, Marriott gains direct local access to Rakuten’s approximately 100 million members for promoting Marriott’s hotel brands and offering travel experience customized for Japanese travelers. In exchange, Rakuten members – once enrolled in Marriott Bonvoy – will enjoy discounted member rates, opportunities to earn and redeem program points and other member-only opportunities. Enrollment in Marriott Bonvoy will be via a simplified one-click process on the Rakuten platform. According to John Toomey, Marriott’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing in the Asia-Pacific region, the partnership is part of Marriott’s ongoing efforts to focus on local markets via partnerships and other collaborations with in-country partners. The announced partnership is scheduled to launch in phases, with the first phase starting late next month.

Sonder Continues to Expand Distribution Network
(“Hotel Engine to Offer Sonder Inventory to Business Travelers,” October 7, 2021 via Phocus Wire)
Short-term rental company, Sonder, continues to add corporate distribution channels for its rental inventory. In July, Sonder announced that it was adding its inventory to the major global distribution systems and partnering with several well-known travel management companies and travel consortia. This past week, Sonder and the corporate travel booking and management platform, Hotel Engine, announced that Sonder’s inventory will appear on the platform this month.

Expedia Combines Loyalty Programs
(“Expedia Group to Combine its Rewards Programs Creating Mega Loyalty Platform,” October 5, 2021 via Travel Weekly Australia)
Expedia Group announced this past week its plan to combine the loyalty programs of its various travel brands into a single loyalty program. Members of the combined program will be able to earn and redeem points on each of Expedia’s brands – Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com, Orbitz and notably, VRBO – for a wide variety of products and services – air, hotel, cruise, car rental, vacation rental and activities.


Other news:

Data Privacy Laws Forcing Changes in Digital Marketing
October 6, 2021 via Travel Weekly
As the digital privacy landscape shifts, experts say that travel companies will likely need to adapt their online marketing strategies accordingly. Although online privacy has long been a hot topic, concern over the protection of personal data has come to a head in more recent years, driven in part by regulation.

Google Agrees to Government Request to Pull Ads Linking to Fake Travel Sites
October 5, 2021 via CBC – Politics News
On Tuesday, Google agreed to a request from the Government of Canada and changed the results that appear when travelers coming to Canada search for the ArriveCan app — an effort to protect travelers from paying unnecessary fees to phoney websites.

Asia’s TruTrip Adds Refund Subscription Service for Hesitant Business Travelers
October 4, 2021 via Skift (subscription may be required)
A Singapore-based corporate travel booking app has launched a subscription package that lets companies refund their trip — with no questions asked. TruTrip’s new TruFlex feature provides an instant refund of at least 80 percent of incurred costs for travelers in the event of trip cancellations.



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Online Travel Update: Airbnb takes steps to accommodate hotel listings; Hopper is ranked the most downloaded travel app in the first half of 2021 | Foster Garvey PC


Fall has definitely arrived in the Pacific Northwest. It was a relatively quiet week in the online travel world. This week’s Update features a story on one of the most widely used Global Distribution Systems – Amadeus – as the company announces its second (unnamed) major customer for its new reservation platform. Enjoy.

Airbnb Takes Steps to Accommodate Hotel Listings
(“Airbnb revives hotel strategy, moves closer to rival OTA model,” September 29, 2021 via Phocus Wire)
While the pandemic may have led Airbnb to pause its hotel distribution aspirations, it appears that the pause may have only been temporary. Airbnb is reportedly testing a new API that allows suppliers to provide and display multiple rate plans (similar to many of Airbnb’s OTA competitors). According to two of Airbnb’s beta partners – RoomCloud (an Italian channel manager and booking engine) and Cloudbeds (an US cloud-based PMS provider), the changes are designed to appeal to hoteliers. Airbnb is also apparently re-starting efforts with its mobile booking platform, HotelTonight, as it seeks to fill multiple open positions within the company, including market managers. Airbnb has refused to provide comment on either effort.

The Most Downloaded Travel App in the First Half of 2021? Hopper
(“Top Travel Booking Apps: Look Who’s Winning the U.S. Now,” September 28, 2021 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
Those of you who have read my Update for the past year or two know all about Hopper. While Hopper may have started out as just another mobile booking application, it is now successfully leveraging its many fintech tools to appeal to post-pandemic travelers seeking maximum flexibility in their travel plans (as evidenced by the 1.3 million U.S. consumer downloads of the app that occurred in July alone). As noted in last week’s Update, Hopper CEO, Frederic Lalonde, isn’t satisfied just being the most downloaded app, he hopes to create the “West’s first travel superapp.” For those of you wondering, with the exception of Tripadvisor, Expedia and/or Booking Holdings owned applications dominated the remainder of the list of the top ten most downloaded apps.


Other news:

Amadeus Signs Another Hotel Giant to Its Enterprise Software Platform
September 28, 2021 via Skift (subscription may be required)
On Tuesday, Amadeus revealed it had signed on an as-yet-unnamed hotel company to use its hospitality software platform.

Pandemic Twist Emerges on Bookings for Hotels in Tussle With Online Resellers
September 27, 2021 via Skift (subscription may be required)
Several hotel groups have tried to lower costs for roughly a decade by driving more consumers to book directly. During the pandemic recovery, hoteliers have by and large continued to avoid overusing aggregators such as Expedia and Booking.com for much of their online sales.



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Online Travel Update: MCR Hotels trial runs attribute pricing; Travel Funders Network offers revenue guarantee; and Hopper raises another $175 million | Foster Garvey PC


MCR Hotels Trial Runs Attribute Pricing
(“One of the US’s largest hotel owners is charging guests $25 to use the swimming pool and $20 to check in early — but is cutting room prices in return,” August 18, 2021 via Business Insider)
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, hotel owner and operator, MCR Hotels CEO, Tyler Morse, shared the company’s plans to begin offering attribute pricing for 12 of its independent hotels. According to Morse, the company plans to reduce its hotels’ base room rates, while at the same time charging additional fees for guests’ use of certain of the hotels’ amenities (e.g., pool or fitness center) or other services (e.g., early arrival). Whether MCR’s plans signal the beginning of the lodging industry’s long discussed transition to attribute pricing remains to be seen. With many hotels suspending traditional guest services (e.g. daily housekeeping) during the pandemic (and owners reaping the associated economic benefits), the post-pandemic return of the lodging industry may provide a unique opportunity to rethink guest room pricing. How these new practices might fit with legacy distribution systems, OTA fee structures, sales contracting practices, etc., remains to be seen.

Travel Funders Network Offers Revenue Guarantee
(“Don’t Call Us Oyo: Online Travel Veterans Launch Hotel Distribution Network With Distinct Model,” August 17, 2021 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
Distribution veterans, Bob Diener and David Litman, launched Travel Funders Network, a new online distribution platform that offers participating hotels minimum revenue guarantees. Participating hotels pay no up-front fees to join the platform, but in exchange for the minimum revenue guarantee, the platform requires larger margins (i.e. larger discounts) on the dynamic net rates it receives. The platform then markets rooms on a standalone or package basis through a “unique” network of private business-to-business channels, including airline loyalty programs and associations. While Diener and Litman hope to ultimately grow the platform to 300-500 hotels (mostly 3-star hotels), only select hotels in key markets will be initially invited to join.

Hopper Raises Another $175 Million
(“Hopper raises another $175M, will add 500 employees,” August 17, 2021 via phocuswire.com)
Readers of our weekly Online Travel Update should be very familiar with online travel platform and fintech provider, Hopper. Beyond its mobile-only consumer booking application, Hopper is perhaps better known for its predictive analytics and suite of travel protection and fintech products (including flight and hotel price freeze, flight delay protection and fully refundable fares and rates) that it offers through its application and other third-party channels (including Capital One’s travel marketplace and recently, Amadeus and its network of travel agencies, metasearch sites and other travel sellers). This latest round of financing (which now brings Hopper’s total financing to $585 million) will be used to accelerate growth (including internationally) and to add much needed staffing to its customer support team. According to Co-Founder and CEO, Fred Lalonde, Hopper expects its 2021 year-over-year revenue growth to exceed 300 percent, with first quarter revenue expected to exceed its prior quarterly peak (Q1 2020) by 100 percent.

Flash Sales: Love Them or Hate Them
(“Trip.com Launches Weekend Flash Deals,” August 17, 2021 via Emsf-Lisboa)
Trip.com ran its flash sales in the U.K., offering UK travelers a 30 percent rebate on domestic hotel stays. The rebates are being offered in the form of “Trip Coins,” which can be used for future travel booked on Trip.com. Time to check those contracts.


Other news:

Former Orbitz, Vacasa Execs Invest in Group Travel Planning Platform TrovaTrip
August 19, 2021 via phocuswire.com
Portland-based startup TrovaTrip has raised $5 million to grow its group travel planning platform. PSL Ventures led the round, with participation from Elevate Capital and Oregon Venture Fund. Barney Harford, former CEO of Orbitz Worldwide and former COO of Uber, and Eric Breon, founder of Vacasa, also participated in the financing.

Choice Hotels, InterContinental Settle Keyword Antitrust Case
August 16, 2021 via bloomberglaw.com (subscription may be required)
Choice Hotels International Inc. and an InterContinental Hotels Group Plc affiliate have reached confidential settlements resolving antitrust litigation over their alleged role in a scheme to prop up prices by rigging online search advertising, according to federal court filings in Texas.



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Online Travel Update: Travelport and Amazon Web Services announce travel startup accelerator; recent studies reveal Generation Z’s online travel preferences | Foster Garvey PC


Where did summer go? It was another quiet week in the online travel world, though I expect things may pick up in the weeks ahead as everyone returns from their summer breaks. Enjoy.

Travelport and Amazon Web Services Announce Travel Startup Accelerator
(“Travelport Teams With Amazon Web Services to Support Travel Startups,” September 2, 2021 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
Recently, Travelport and Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the launch of a travel startup accelerator designed to provide travel entrepreneurs access to data and channel expertise, potential supplier partners (including hotels) and prospective travelers. The inaugural session will feature 10 travel startups with a focus on digital marketing and personalization. Judges will include representatives from American Express GBT, Internova and Priceline.

Recent Studies Reveal Generation Z’s Online Travel Preferences
(“What do Gen Z travelers want from online travel brands?” August 31, 2021 via Phocus Wire)
Generation Z travelers, those born between 1997 and 2021, are the focus of several recently issued traveler studies, including a recent study conducted by Phocuswright Research. According to the studies, Generation Z travelers (who have never experienced life without readily available internet access) are increasingly likely to rely on online travel resources (particularly, OTAs) for travel inspiration, planning and booking. Of particular note, although this generation has less brand loyalty and are less likely to belong to loyalty programs generally, enrollment in OTA loyalty programs is higher with this demographic than just about any other generation. The Phocuswright study also noted that this generation is more open to booking travel through other unique intermediary options like Google or travel membership services. What are Generation Z travelers looking for when they plan travel? The studies reveal inclusivity, diversity, sustainability, and safety and security take the highest priority.



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Online Travel Update: Expedia Group and Booking Holdings’ Q2 earnings releases witness slight recovery in bookings | Foster Garvey PC


Expedia Group
(“Expedia Group Q2 revenue tops $2B driven by U.S. hotel and vacation rental bookings,” August 6, 2021 via Phocus Wire) (“Expedia Awaits Comeback of International Travel to Solidify Market Share Gains,” August 5, 2021 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)

  • Second quarter revenue increased to $2.1 billion (a 270 percent increase over the same period last year, though still down 33 percent over 2019)
  • Leisure travel continued its rebound in the second quarter, led by North America and in particular, the United States.
  • Expedia continues to see softness in international, corporate and “big city” travel.
  • Expedia is already seeing the negative effects of the Delta variant with production numbers softening in July over June.
  • Expedia has begun ramping up its sales and marketing efforts, with total second quarter sales and marketing expenses ($1.2 billion) exceeding expenses for the same period last year (2020) by 320 percent.
  • Expedia’s focus on its core brands continues with eight businesses shuttered or sold since the start of 2020. This past quarter, Expedia officially accepted American Express’s offer to purchase Egencia, which is now expected to close by the end of this year (2021).

Booking Holdings
(“Booking Holdings hits $22B in bookings as latest quarter rides recovery,August 4, 2021 via Phocus Wire)

  • Second quarter revenue increased to $2.2 billion (a roughly 350 percent increase over the first quarter in 2020, but still down 44 percent over 2019)
  • Like its major competitor, Booking also began ramping up its sales and marketing efforts this past quarter, with sales and marketing expenses totaling more than twice the amount from the earlier quarter.
  • Booking’s continued performance rebound was again led by increases in the United States (the strongest performing major country), though improvements in both domestic and international bookings in Europe contributed to the increase. Like its competitor, Booking experienced a slight downturn in July (when compared to June), which Booking attributes to the emerging Delta variant.
  • Sixty percent of the total room nights booked through Booking during the quarter were through mobile channels.
  • At the end of June, Booking.com reported approximately 28 million accommodation listings, with nearly a quarter of those listings constituting alternative accommodations.
  • Booking.com’s facilitated payment platform added several (unnamed) “major chains” in the second quarter. In the second quarter, nearly 24 percent of gross bookings were processed through the payment platform (which reflects only a minor increase over the first quarter percentage (22 percent)).
  • CEO Glenn Fogel offered few details about Booking’s recently reported discounted flash sales effort (see story).

Other News:

Booking Holdings Sees Connected Trip Strategy as Critical for Post-Crisis Growth
August 6, 2021 via Skift (subscription may be required)
The world’s travelers may not all be for the taking by Booking Holdings. The $86 billion Connecticut-based conglomerate calls itself the “world’s leading provider of online travel and related services.” But the company still has work to do on its machinery for taking the customers it has and cross-selling them with multiple products — so called connected trips.

Tripadvisor Hits $235M revenue, Beats Internal Expectations
August 6, 2021 via Phocus Wire
Tripadvisor is crediting increasing numbers of vaccinations and reopenings in many markets around the world for a major jump in revenue in the second quarter of 2021.

Tripadvisor Finetunes Its Subscription Travel Bet
August 6, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required)
Tripadvisor has spent the pandemic changing its tune, metaphorically speaking. For years, the Massachusetts-based company run by co-founder and CEO Stephen Kaufer sang the praises of a model where consumers could read reviews of travel services and then either click away to book them or else book instantly through its site and app. Now the $5 billion company has moved away from trying to draw the largest audiences possible to instead woo its most loyal fans into coughing up money for exclusive discounts and perks on travel.

Google Launches Attractions Tickets Globally on Mobile
July 30, 2021 via Skift (subscription may be required)
Google has taken a major step into the tours and activities space, and rolled out a tickets feature for local attractions around the world on mobile devices.

Southwest Lawsuit Alleges Skiplagged and Kiwi Collude to Deceive Flyers
August 3, 2021 via Skift (subscription may be required)
Citing multiple flight delays because of the sale of “hidden city tickets,” Southwest Airlines filed a federal lawsuit against New York-based Skiplagged, and alleged that it works “in concert” with Czech-based online travel agency Kiwi.com to deceive the public and illegally use the airline’s fare information.

Vietnamese Tech Conglomerate, OTA Operator Raises $250 Million
August 2, 2021 via Phocus Wire
Vietnam-based VNLife, a technology company that operates in travel, banking, retail and more, has raised $250 million in Series B funding. The round is led by General Atlantic and Dragoneer Investment Group, with participation from PayPal Ventures, EDBI and existing investors GIC and SoftBank Vision Fund 1.



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Days Gone is available on PC today, get started with survival tips – PlayStation.Blog


Welcome to Farewell, Oregon. A beautiful place surrounded by mountains, lush forests, and snowy terrain. Two years later, the world has turned upside down consumed by ravenous and infected creatures known as Freakers. Deacon St. John, a drifter and bounty hunter must fight to survive against other survivors, wildlife, and hordes of Freakers. Ride the Broken Road on your invaluable Drifter bike as you traverse the unique environment of the post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest. Experience a journey of redemption, hope and searching for a reason to live in an epic open world adventure available on PC now.

Explore a breathing and living world filled with beauty and chaos. Witness the dynamic weather of the high desert and how it affects your surroundings. Come across random encounters and traps as you travel the vast land filled with danger. Prepare to ride off the beaten path and utilize your whole arsenal to survive one more day. This world will come for you.

When you begin your Days Gone journey on PC, you will have immediate access to Survival Mode, Challenge Mode and Bike Skins – once you have completed the main story, you can access New Game Plus.

Survival Mode

Try your hand in Survival I and Survival II difficulty modes with harder enemies, removed enemy awareness indicators, no fast travel and immersive gameplay with no HUD on screen. However, players can temporarily turn on the HUD with the use of Survival Vision to catch your bearings. Can you survive the brutal world of Days Gone?

Challenge Mode

Test your skills on 12 various challenges from fighting unlimited hordes to timed trial bike races as you climb up the leaderboards. Earn credits to unlock new bike skins and more playable characters. The higher scores you achieve the better stat boosts you receive from the patches you earn. Carry those added stat boosts to story mode and watch Deacon’s vest pile up with new patches as you acquire them. 

Bike Skins

Customize your Drifter bike with multiple bike skins featuring God of War, Death Stranding, Horizon Zero Dawn, Concrete Genie, and more! Ride on over to the Mechanics in-game to apply any one of these bike skins and begin riding the Broken Road in style.

New Game Plus

Jump back onto your bike and play the story all over again with New Game Plus with your previously earned bike upgrades, weapons, skills, upgrades, crafting recipes, encampment credits and trust, collectibles, and Achievement progress. All of this will be unlocked at the beginning of your new playthrough making Deacon’s job just a little bit easier. Plus, you receive a brand-new weapon to use!

Playing Days Gone for the first time? Have no fear, Bend Studio has you covered with some developer insights to help you get started.

Drifter Bike

You must maintain your bike by scavenging for scrap, searching for fuel, and upgrading it at encampments. Early on, you want to invest in your bike as much as possible. Whether you need to flee from an unexpected horde, chase down a bounty or escape an ambush, your bike is crucial for survival. To help limit maintenance with your bike, focus on upgrading your fuel tank to ride longer distances before having to stop. If you run out of fuel, you will need to walk your bike and explore the Freaker infested land by foot. Take good care of it, and it will take care of you. 

Tip: Look out for tow trucks and believe it or not gas stations for fuel.

Hordes

Hordes are a formidable foe in Days Gone. They can range from 25 Freakers to 500 Freakers. To take down a horde, you need to strategize, come prepared with ammo, traps and plan an escape route. It will not be easy, but to increase your chances at succeeding follow these couple of tips to begin your path at creating a safer world. 

Tip 1: Force the Freakers down narrow pathways to jumble them up creating a better line of fire. Use attractors to throw at nearby flammable crates and barrels to lure a group of them to that spot, then blow it up. 

Tip 2: Park your bike close in case you need to run back to it to fill up your ammo from your saddlebags (can be equipped as an upgrade).

Days Gone (PC)

NERO Locations

Keep your eye out during your travels for NERO locations. NERO checkpoints have valuable items for you to upgrade Deacon, gather crafting supplies, access your gun locker and fuel to top off your tank. You can find NERO injectors at these locations to upgrade your Stamina, Focus or Health. Each upgrade provides a significant boost and can be the difference between life and death. 

Tip: Upgrade your Stamina first… You can always run away if you are not prepared.

Days Gone (PC)

Encampments

Each encampment uses the trust and credits system, but what you get at each one differs. Complete jobs, clear infestation zones, hand in bounties and eliminate hordes to increase your trust levels with encampments and earn credits to buy weapons and bike upgrades. A couple camps you will run into early on are Copeland’s Camp and Hot Springs. Copeland’s Camp includes a Mechanic that will upgrade your bike to improve performance and give you customizations options that include decals, paints, bike skins and visual parts. Hot Springs specializes in selling weapons to help you fight the relentless danger outside of the gates.

Infestation Zones

Speaking of infestation zones, you want to burn out these nests as fast as possible. Make sure you have enough molotovs crafted or use the incendiary bolts with your crossbow to set the nests ablaze. Freakers use these nests to hibernate during the day, giving you a slight edge on their whereabouts. Be aware, if you are brave enough to tackle these zones at night, you will have more Freakers roaming around the wilderness. By successfully clearing out an infestation zone, you will be awarded with a new fast travel route to move around the map more efficiently. 

Tip: The day/night cycle and weather changes the behavior of the Freakers.

Days Gone (PC)

Skills

Days Gone provides three skill trees including melee combat, ranged combat and survival to invest your skill points in. Each player has their own unique playstyle, but we recommend unlocking these skills first to help you during the initial stages of the story.

Ranged: Focused Shot. This skill gives you the ability to activate Focus while aiming a ranged weapon. Focus slows down time and helps to increase accuracy, which is beneficial when going up against a horde. You can upgrade this ability with the NERO injectors found across the map.

Ranged: Fight And Flight. This skill helps you to move and aim a ranged weapon with more precision. Days Gone will keep you on your toes and the Freakers will not allow you to stay stationary. Get used to running! 

Melee: Field Repairs. This skill gives you the ability to repair melee weapons with scrap. You can scavenge for scrap underneath hoods of vehicles, abandoned buildings, and scattered around the world. Once you have crafted a weapon, you can repair that weapon to continue using it. Trust us, you will be using your melee weapon a lot. Without this skill, the durability of the weapon will diminish and break leaving you left with only your boot knife.

Days Gone (PC)

Buy Days Gone on PC now from a range of digital retailers, including Steam and Epic Games Store.



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Online Travel Update: Booking Holdings, Expedia Group and Tripadvisor report rising travel demand and discuss core strategies to capture travel rebound in first quarter’s earnings releases | Foster Garvey PC


This week’s Update features a number of stories and perspectives on last week’s earnings releases from Booking Holdings, Expedia Group and Tripadvisor. Enjoy.

Key Takeaways: Booking Holdings’ First Quarter Earnings Report
For those of you interested, we’ve included transcripts from last week’s earnings calls for both Booking Holdings and Expedia Group. For those of you who don’t pour through financials (myself included), I find the earnings calls very informative. My key takeaways from last week’s Booking Holdings’ call are below:

  • For years, analysts have speculated that Booking Holdings was first and foremost a European distributor, but now we have some actual numbers to prove it. According to Booking Holdings’ CFO, David Goulden, slightly more than 50 percent of Booking’s pre-COVID business came from Europe. As for other regions, Asia has historically accounted for approximately 20 percent of Booking’s pre-COVID business (no single country accounting for more than low single digits), and the rest of the world (including North America) has accounted for the remaining 30 percent (pre-COVID).
  • Booking continues to make strides in the North America, particularly in the United States, which was Bookings’ strongest performing major country in the first quarter, with room night growth in Q1 2021 exceeding growth in Q1 2019. Both Priceline and Booking.com reported strong first quarters in the United States.
  • Booking remains focused on its core strategies by growing the Booking.com brand in the United States, and continuing to expand adoption of its payment platform and building out the “Connected Trip.”
  • Booking points to its current Booking.com’s “Back to Travel” campaign, which launched in April and features a $50.00 post-stay travel credit for U.S. travelers booking through the Booking.com app. This initiative sets an example for possible future promotions that could help grow Booking.com’s business in the United States and possibly other markets. Other efforts include the continued growth of Booking.com’s vacation rental inventory. As for the payment platform, CEO, Glenn Fogel reported continued growth (just over 20 percent of bookings) of the integrated platform via increased adoption by Booking.com’s U.S. supplier partners. In 2020, the payment platform operated close to breakeven, but through other monetization opportunities, Fogel expects the platform to lead ultimately to incremental EBITDA growth. Finally, Booking’s continued focus on growing its non-accommodation products, particularly flights this past quarter, will be critical in establishing Booking’s “Connected Trip” vision – and capturing potential travelers further “up funnel”.

Key Takeaways: Expedia Group’s First Quarter Earnings Report
(“Expedia Group Bets on Brand Marketing as It Prepares for Travel Rebound,” May 7, 2021 via Phocus Wire; “Expedia Group CEO Says He’s ‘Rooting for Revenge Travel’ as Revenue Sinks 44 percent in Q1,” May 6, 2021 via GeekWire ; “Expedia Will Sell Egencia Corporate Travel Unit to American Express Global Business Travel,” May 4, 202 via GeekWire)

My key takeaways from this past week’s Expedia call are below:

  • Highlights from the recently announced sale of Expedia’s corporate travel platform, Egencia, to Amex GBT include (i) Expedia eventually owning approximately 14 percent of the combined businesses post-closing – which Expedia assumes will be worth $700 million and (ii) the deal comprising a long-term supply agreement between Expedia Partner Services (EPS) and Amex GBT, which according to Expedia CEO, Peter Kern, underscores EPS’ continuing efforts to position itself as a B2B business platform and allow Expedia to focus on its core B2C and B2B businesses.
  • Over the past quarter, Expedia has shifted its perspective on marketing – moving from an initial bias against large marketing commitments early in the quarter to now making major investments in an attempt to get out ahead of the anticipated wave of travel demand. Expedia, Orbitz and Vrbo are the initial beneficiaries of this new marketing commitment.
  • In an effort to grow its existing loyalty program base, Expedia plans on “opening a window” and making it easier and better for loyalty program members. According to Kern, Expedia was leaving customers on the side line because of “how [Expedia] made them sign up, what they had to go through, etc.” It will be interesting to see what changes Expedia will make in this regard and whether those changes will comport with the “closed group” discounting requirements often found in many OTA agreements.

Tripadvisor Highlights
(“Tripadvisor reports rising demand in Q1, progress on Plus subscription product,” May 7, 2021 via Phocus Wire’)
Not surprisingly, Tripadvisor’s quarterly earnings report had a heavy focus on its subscription program, Tripadvisor Plus. On last week’s earnings’ calls, Tripadvisor CEO, Steve Kaufer, shared with listeners that the platform is now seeking credit card partners to help grow the program. Other program details shared by CEO Kaufer include:

  • Initial interest in the program being the strongest among independent hoteliers
  • Tripadvisor having “conversations with every single chain” (although the response has been mixed among major suppliers)
  • Concerns expressed by major suppliers include where and how the discounted member rates are displayed (possibly undercutting suppliers’ direct channel efforts)
  • Tripadvisor moving away from sourcing inventory for the program primarily through aggregators (something we’ve written about in the past) to direct connections with suppliers
  • Tripadvisor potentially retaining some of the discounts offered by suppliers for itself as opposed to passing the full discount on to its subscribers (although it doesn’t do so today). What effect the subscription program might have on Tripadvisor’s other businesses, like its cost-per-click (CPC) lead generation business, remains to be seen, though Kaufer believes that the potential revenue benefits of the subscription program will exceed any loss for the referral/lead generation business.

Other News:

SiteMinder Expands Hotel Metasearch, Payment Offerings
May 5, 2021 via Hotel Management News – General
Hotel commerce platform SiteMinder has added to its metasearch and hotel payments programs to give hotels more choice to manage and protect their revenue in unpredictable travel markets.

Booking Holdings Sees a Surge in Flight Bookings as It Plays Catch-Up With Expedia
May 6, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required)
During the first three months of the year, with Europe as its weakest region, and countries such as India still battling existential COVID-19 crises, Booking Holdings’ airline tickets sales jumped 49 percent.

Expedia ‘Leaning Into’ Wooing Hosts From Rivals, CEO Says
May 7, 2021 via Bloomberg – Top Stories
Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern discusses plans to attract new hosts to its rental platform, the timeline for the return of leisure and business travel, and outlook for Europe’s vacation season on “Bloomberg Markets.”

Sherpa Raises $8.5M to Meet Demand for Its Travel Rules Platform
April 30, 2021 via Phocus Wire
Toronto-based travel technology startup Sherpa – one of PhocusWire’s Hot 25 Startups for 2019 – has raised $8.5 million as demand for its travel rules platform intensifies.

Trivago Sees Referral Revenue Jump More than 60 Percent in March
May 4, 2021 via Travel Weekly US – Top Stories
Global hotel and accommodation search platform Trivago credits vaccination efforts in markets such as the United States and Israel with spurring a jump in travel activity that gave the site a 60 percent increase in referral revenue – its primary source of revenue – in March compared to February.

Vaccine Passport Proposals Put Airport Security App Clear Into Center of Debate
May 3, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required)
More than 60 U.S. stadiums and other venues are deploying an app from Clear to verify people’s COVID-19 status, placing the New York company known for its airport security fast lanes at the forefront of a national debate over “vaccine passports.”



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Biden Administration Announces Travel Restrictions Due To COVID-19 And Related Variants | Jackson Lewis P.C.


The Biden administration announced that restrictions on travel known as the “14-Day Rules” will remain in effect, despite former President Trump’s decision to terminate some of them. These rules restrict entry by most non-U.S. citizens and non-Green Card holders from China, Iran, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Brazil and the 26 Schengen Zone countries. While there are exemptions and national interest exceptions, these restrictions prevent travelers who have been in the named countries within 14 days prior to departure from entering the United States. On Saturday, January 30, 2021, South Africa will be added to the list of restricted countries due to the new strain of COVID discovered in that country. The new strain has not yet been discovered in the United States.

As of January 26, 2021, under CDC regulations, individuals who can travel to the United States will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of departure or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before boarding flights. This requirement applies to all passengers over two years old flying to the United States from abroad, including U.S. citizens and Green Card holders. More than 120 countries have similar requirements. The White House confirmed that at this time there will not be any waivers for travelers coming from countries where testing is limited. The CDC also directs people to stay home for seven days upon return and get tested three-to-five days after return.

As a further preventive measure, mask-wearing will be required domestically at all airports, on commercial aircraft, trains, public maritime vessels, including ferries, and intercity bus services and on all federal properties.

Jackson Lewis will continue to follow these changes and provide updates as they become available.



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