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April 2014 Newsletter


For several years, the booking online through so called Online Travel Agents (OTA”S) has been a ‘pain in the rear’ for hotel owners. The fact of the matter being that when travellers book through an OTA, the hotels loose control of their own rooms as the OTA’s can sell a hotel room at whatever rate they want. Nothing in life is permanent however and the OTA’s might be in for a rough ride in the future; the reason is Google.

Whilst some of Google’s biggest clients in terms of advertising money spent with them, they have just signed a deal with a hotel booking tech company that will allow Google visitors to by pass the OTA’s and go direct to the hotel booking system itself. Put simply, Google are morphing into a type of OTA themselves.

It’s a bold move by Google as OTA’s such as Expedia and Travelocity spend billions with Google each year and Google will not be keen to loose such income if they can’t replace it. Obviously they feel that with the new option they can persuade hotels to spend directly with them with the thought that Google will not cannibalise the hotels room rates like OTA’s do, and therefore the hotels can spend more with them as they will receive a better room rate through people accessing Google.

Of course there are winners and losers in all this; the winners are the hotels and Google and the losers are the travellers as hotel rates will no doubt increase.

The bigger picture in all this is that the world of travel is a fluid one be it the airline or the hotel industry. Airlines come and airlines go, just as hotels come and hotels go and the way we book travel has not only changed, it will continue to change.


Mark Thomas

Managing Director

HRG Bulgaria



More Trips

The amazing figure of 100 million free ‘app’ downloads has been reached by Tripadvisor. The number of downloads has more than doubled in the past year and is up six times from 2011.

Tripadvisor is now well and truly a part of our ‘travel suitcase’.


Income stream

If you can make money from people and they don’t complain too much, then why not? Lufthansa, in desperate need to re-boot their income streams, are extending the option to pre book economy class seats – for a fee – to long haul flights. The fee is 25 Euro for economy class passengers. The charge for advanced bookings for passengers who could not previously reserve seats has been trialed for some time (successfully) on the airlines short haul network.

Certain booking classes and frequent flyer membership levels are able to pre book seats for free.


Defeat was inevitable

London Heathrow Airport has publically admitted it is ready to hand over its long held crown of being the world’s busiest airport by passenger numbers.

The title is about to be given to Dubai whose passenger figures for the first quarter of the year surpass Heathrow for the first time.

One should, however, note that there are several more airports in the London area e.g. Gatwick,  Stanstead and London City and Dubai might have to wait some time to surpass the ‘London’ total.



Tagging Along

Lufthansa are rolling out a self service baggage tag. The idea is that the tag can be printed out at home and then the bags can then be taken to a dedicated counter at check in. The Frankfurt – Tokyo Narita will be the first route to adopt the option which will no doubt become the ‘norm” within a short period of time.

Did someone ask about the security implications?


A fishy story

BA is turning back the clock with their on board meals and are to serve fish and chips on selected flights. The option is being trialed on selected flights; including on the Sofia flight!

If the trial is selected the food will be introduced onto more short haul flights.

It is not clear if curry sauce or mushy peas will be an optional added extra! Oh, the smell of it.


Planely successful 

The 8000th Boeing 737 has just rolled off the assembly line, thus cementing the planes position in the books as the world’s most popular passenger plane ever.

It is only 2 ½ years since the 7,000th was delivered and the plane is still produced at a rate of 42 planes per month. It will also take a further two years to catch up on the 3700 737’s still on the order books.

That’s success!


It’s all about cost

The seat in the first class compartment of a plane can cost an amazing 500,000 USD each and even perceived simple items like the entertainment system in the seats can cost 10,000 USD per 2.5cm of diagonal screen size plus another 1000 USD for the control units! Its little wonder then that airlines are fast tracking the implementation of tablets on board flights; they are not only much cheaper, they are much lighter and thus less fuel is needed by the plane..


Little Wonder

As we noted last week, the missing Malaysian plane is slipping down the news lists, though this may be expected. To put the search into context, we are told that the powers that be have identified an area of some 217,000 sq km in size where they think the plane may be. Bulgaria measures just less than 111,000 sq km’s!

So translated, this means that an area twice the size of Bulgaria is possibly the resting place of the plane; Oh yes and it’s under water by some 3kms.



Change of culture

In what is an earth shattering move, travellers with Bulgaria Air appear to no longer be applauding when the plane makes a successful landing.

This can be put down to either the fact that the take off and landings on board new state of the art planes has become less of an adventure compared with the old Tupolov’s, or the fact that passengers have realized that everyone who wasn’t Bulgarian was laughing at them.


Arm full

A British Tourist was arrested on arrival in Sri Lanka for having a tattoo of Buddha on her arm.

The Sri Lankan’s take a dim view of the ‘’mistreatment of Buddhist images and artifacts’’.

We wonder if images of Chalga singers also apply?



The city of Sydney plans to build a new airport 30 miles (45 kms) to the west of the city. The current airport, located 5 miles (8kms) to the south is rather outdated and dysfunctional. However due to the amount of time it will take to fight off legal challenges from the various nutter groups,  building work is not expected to start before 2016 and will be fully operational in the mid 2020’s.

The cost is 2.4 billion dollars which will no doubt increase.

Interesting that countries such as China and the UAE can build twice as fast and at half the price! Obviously there are less nutter groups challenging progress.


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