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June 2014 Newsletter

Editorial

Auctions are nothing new; traditionally one has always associated them with high value paintings or works of art. More recently, auctions have come to the fore when harnessed with technology and the internet and creating  a whole new industry where one can bid or auction absolutely anything, though one has yet to see a mother in law appear as a selected item.. Thus it’s hardly likely that the travel industry would be omitted from the whole auction concept and the signs are that we may be at the beginning of an auction craze.

Hotel rooms for auction i.e. when hotel rooms are empty and hotels want to have a fire sale have been common place for a while, even though this particular mode of sale seems to be frowned upon by most hotel managers. Airlines though have hardly started with the concept; though this is about to change.

The starting point is the concept where an airline auctions off upgrades from say economy to business class. The airline will, for example, put out the auction say seven days before a flight if it feels seats will be left empty; the notion being that getting incremental revenue gained from people willing to pay X extra to upgrade themselves is revenue they would otherwise not have had. There is however a flip side: if a business passenger has paid say 800 Euro for a seat, how does he feel if they person next to him has paid 300 Euro for an economy class seat and 100 Euro extra in an auction to upgrade? Might it be then that next time the business passenger will decide not to pay the full amount and instead offer a slightly reduced amount via the auction process and thus diluting the total revenue the airline in fact collects? This is not to mention the ill will that premium passengers will feel when the front of the cabin becomes congested and fails to give what the premium payers are paying for in the first place i.e. privacy, space and comfort.

The fact that such auctions are now gathering momentum indicates either that airlines are getting desperate for new ideas or that they have done their homework and know exactly what they are doing. Somehow though, we doubt it.

 

Mark Thomas

Managing Director

HRG Bulgaria

 

 

Poo stops plane

A travelling dog had problems with its bowels on a US Airways flight from Los Angeles to Philadelphia and pooped twice in aisle of the aircraft. Whilst that is funny enough, what is even funnier is that obviously the dog had eaten a bad curry the night before and the resulting smell was described as ‘”obnoxious”. The cabin crew ran out of paper towels and cleaning fluids and the result was the plane had to divert to Kansas so the mess could be cleaned up.

The whole situation looked more like a comedy sketch; unless you happened to be sat in an aisle seat adjacent to the ‘’pile’’.

 

60 years on

Last month saw the opening of the new Heathrow Terminal 2 which replaces the old Terminal 2 that opened almost 60 years ago. The new facility will be mainly the home of the 23 Star Alliance airlines plus Virgin Atlantic Little Red, Aer Lingus and Lufthansa’s sister airline Germanwings.

 

Italians find long lost (rich) benefactor

Long time basket case airline Alitalia seems like its finally found a (generous) benefactor with news that it and mega rich Gulf Airline Etihad have reached an agreement whereby the Gulf carrier will acquire 49% of the Italian national airline.

This follows on with Etihad’s strategy of taking equity investment in airlines across the globe, they recently structured the same deal with Serbian carrier JAT which is now renamed Air Serbia.

One hopes Etihad will also be allowed to manage the long suffering Italian carrier as well as to invest in it.

 

Curious choice of name

Hilton has revealed that the name for its upscale boutique hotel brand will be “Curio”.

The name will be attached to independent resort and urban four and five star rated hotels that sit outside the existing portfolio of hotels in the Hilton Range.

Hilton is one of the last of the globally branded hotel groups to enter into this particular market segment.

 

Ketchup Sir?

Following on from trialing fish and chips on selected routes for economy class passengers ( including on the Sofia route), BA is introducing something slightly more refined for business and first class passengers on other routes; Burgers.

Relish and triple cooked chips ( err…tell the chef they should only be cooked once), accompany this inspired (!) selection though it’s not clear how the ketchup will be served.

 

That’s what handbrakes are for

Some 250,000 Euro of damage was caused to a Ryanair plane in Rome after the parked plane rolled backwards, gathering speed until it finally met the wall of the airport fire station. The explanation being that the plane had not been properly secured i.e. the parking brake was left off!

Must have been quite funny to see really!

 

Social Media gaff

It’s well known that Americans generally, a) don’t travel overseas often and b) have a weakness with world geography add these two facts two together and throw in the football world cup and America’s dramatic win over Ghana and end up with a mega gaff from American airline Delta brought about by less than knowledgeable staff.

Delta’s staff tweeted the 2- 1 result depicting the statue of liberty to represent the USA and a giraffe to represent Ghana. Unfortunately for the airline, there are no Giraffes in Ghana; for which it had to then offer a public apology. Better still; maybe teach the staff some geography.
Ten Years Late

Anyone who has ever searched for ferry information in a bid to travel around the Greek islands will quickly have realised what a frustrating experience it can be. With many different ferry operators in play, getting up to date and reliable information became a ”typically Greek” experience. Booking ferry tickets was an even bigger challenge as individual operators controlled their own sales. Things however look to be changing.

The Greek National Tourist Organisation has signed a deal whereby all operators will be able to display real time information through its website. It is not clear though if bookings will become easier; but then again we shouldn’t expect too much too quickly should we.

 

Berlin blooper starts to cost

Loss making Air Berlin has made an out of court settlement with the operators of the new as yet unopened Berlin Brandenburg Airport.

Compensation is to be paid by the operator dating back to 2012 although the initial plan was for the airport to be in operation back as far as 2010.

One wonders if other airlines will follow suit.

 

No to wifi

It’s interesting to note the results from a USA based Tripadvisor poll of 4500 travellers which reported that 90% said they ‘rarely or never’’ buy wifi access whilst in the air. The assumption being that such a fee on top of all the other fess that passengers are now required to pay is one fee too many.

The same study found that 81% of the people do not want mobile phones to be used on board flights.

 

5m Booty offered

In line with the thinking that the vast majority of people do not believe the spurious explanations over what happened to the missing airlines plane en route to China, relatives of the missing have set about raising a 5m USD booty which is being offered to anyone who is willing to come forward and tell the truth of what really happened to it.

Whether 5m USD and a life on the run is worth it is another question.