US Airways Announces New Route to London Heathrow from Charlotte

US Airways, a US-based airline, has announced a new service between its hub in Charlotte, and London Heathrow airport.

The new daily service between Charlotte and London Heathrow commences in March 2013, and the airline will be using an Airbus A330 aircraft to service flights on the route.

US Airways chairman and chief executive officer, Doug Parker, said, ‘We are thrilled to make this announcement and look forward to starting service between Heathrow and Charlotte in March. This new service will augment our existing trans-Atlantic network and provide more choices for customers in markets up and down the east coast.

Today’s news would not be possible without the support of several groups, including the European Union to which we are grateful for this opportunity.

Also, we’d like to thank secretary LaHood and his aviation team at the US Department of Transportation, members of the North Carolina and South Carolina delegations, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, Charlotte Douglas International Airport director Jerry Orr, and other key stakeholders for their support in our efforts to secure the new service.’

The new service from Charlotte will add to the airline’s daily service currently being offered from Philadelphia, US, to London Heathrow.

The flight will originate in Miami, offering customers in South Florida a convenient one-stop service to London via the airline’s Charlotte hub.

The US is now one of the favourite travel destinations for UK travellers, according to a recent poll conducted by HolidayExtras, a UK based travel comparison website, and routes are currently being served by Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Air New Zealand, Virgin Atlantic, and British Airways.

Travellers Snub Hotels With No Online User Reviews

It has become custom and practice with the travelling public to check how other visitors have reviewed a hotel before placing a booking.

An independent study has found that more than half (53 percent) of travellers questioned for a survey said that they will not book a hotel that does not have any reviews on the Internet. The study, conducted by PhoCusWright on behalf of TripAdvisor, a company that operates an online travel community for collating user-generated travel information, has underlined how hotel reviews have become important tools for this Internet-savvy generation of travellers, when deciding on accommodation bookings.

Around 98 percent of respondents have found hotel reviews accurate on sites such as TripAdvisor, while 74 percent of respondents had started writing hotel reviews to share a good experience. Around 71 percent of respondents have reported taking into consideration the expertise of the reviewer in deciding the importance of a review, while 67 percent admitted to deciding on hotels after seeing the photos submitted with reviews.

The survey also reported that 57 percent of users are likely to book hotels if the hotel management have responded to user reviews posted about the hotel, and around 84 percent of respondents said that they are willing to consider a hotel in spite of a bad review if the hotel management have made appropriate responses.

Stephen Kaufer, the president and chief executive officer of TripAdvisor, said, ‘The findings of the TripAdvisor survey reveal that, to thrive, hoteliers must actively encourage their guests to share their candid experiences online and also respond to their reviews when they do. Otherwise, more than half of travellers may either ignore the property or pick a more responsive one.’

easyjet Announces Manchester to Moscow Service

easyJet, a UK based budget airline, is offering a new non-stop scheduled service between Manchester Airport in the UK, and Moscow, the Russian capital, for 2013.

The airline is to operate four flights each way per week, and bookings for the service will be available soon. The airline has previously announced five new routes from Manchester Airport, with a fleet of eight aircraft, two of which had been recent additions.

Carolyn McCall, the chief executive of easyJet, said, ‘We are pleased to announce the launch of the first ever scheduled services between Manchester and Moscow. These new services exactly fit easyJet’s ‘join the dots’ strategy, which is to add flights to destinations from multiple bases across Europe, providing passengers with convenient point to point services.

Russia has a fast growing economy and is a country rich in culture and history – so a direct link from the North of England has been long overdue. With our strong European network we look forward to connecting Moscow with other European cities.

We are also pleased to be able to announce further expansion from Manchester with the arrival of another aircraft in March 2013. This is great news for the regional economy creating much-needed jobs in the city.

Moscow and Prague will appeal to business and leisure travellers alike with Thessaloniki promising to be a popular choice for holidaymakers from the region. We look forward to welcoming passengers onboard our new services in Spring next year.’

The airline has also recently acquired the rights to operate flights between Gatwick Airport in the UK, and Moscow, while the other route to Moscow is from London Heathrow Airport, and is being served by British Airways.

UK’s Independent Hotels Failing to Cash In on Online Bookings

UK based hotels are not realising the full potential of the Internet, according to the recent report, eCommerce in Independent Hotels 2012.

While 90 percent of UK hotels offer online booking facilities on their websites, around 60 percent of them are not taking advantage of cross-selling opportunities during the online booking process. Only 38 percent of hotels are offering extra welcome amenities like flowers, chocolates, or champagne on completing an online booking process.

The report also says that only 37 percent of hotels respond to every TripAdvisor review of their properties, around 6 percent of hotels permit guests to book tables for dining at the hotel restaurant, and only 10 percent have a website that is receptive to mobile phones.

Although around 85 percent have a Facebook page, only 43 percent of hotels regularly share details of promotions and offers on the page. Similarly, while 75 percent have a Twitter account, only 35 percent respond to questions asked through Twitter.

Around 39 percent of the hotels do not appear on the opening page of a Google search, while only 31 percent of hotels appeared at the very top. Out of the 156 hotels surveyed in the UK, only 11 hotels have a fully optimised website for search engines such as Google.

Paul Finch, vice president of hotel sales at MICROS, a software company that offers marketing solutions, said, ‘We were impressed to see so many independent hotels using social media, 85 percent had a Facebook page and 74 percent were on Twitter, although only 35 percent actually responded to our tweet.

The fact that 37 percent of the hotels take the time to respond to every review on TripAdvisor was also very positive. However, there is still a lot that can be achieved, especially where revenue generation is concerned. 62 percent of the hotels weren’t offering any additional extras during the online booking process and that’s a missed opportunity.’

Kuoni Partners with John Lewis to Launch Travel Concessions

Kuoni Travel Ltd, a Swiss-based travel company, is partnering with John Lewis to offer new travel concessions in four John Lewis stores in the UK.

The Kuoni concessions will be available at select John Lewis stores in the UK, and will be offering the entire range of holidays from Kuoni shops, as well as creating 19 new full-time jobs.

Derek Jones, the managing director at Kuoni, said, ‘We are really excited about this partnership. Kuoni and John Lewis have a lot in common; we have a very similar customer base and share the same approach to business, putting customer service at the heart of everything we do.

We know that our customers really value the expert personal knowledge we provide and the success of our High Street stores has shown that the best way to truly understand their needs is to spend time with them, face to face in the right surroundings. These concessions will allow us to bring our unique approach to travel retailing into John Lewis shops.’

Sean Allam, the director of commercial operations at John Lewis, said, ‘We already have a strong customer base in our travel insurance services, so opening travel concessions in our shops feels like a natural step for John Lewis.

People will be able to take time out from speaking to a personal travel expert to shop or have a coffee, and choose their holiday in a relaxed and inspiring environment.

Kuoni’s commitment to customer service and expert advice was a perfect fit for John Lewis, and we believe this will be a long-term and successful partnership.’

Brits Take All of Their Vacation Days, Says Vacation Deprivation Study

UK citizens take all of their allotted vacation time, according to a recently released report on the vacation habits of various nationalities that was conducted by Expedia, an online travel agency.

The 2012 Vacation Deprivation study, reporting on vacation habits across continents, says that Asian workers still remain the most vacation deprived, while European workers often take all of their paid leave.

The 2012 study features 22 countries in total. Japanese workers are granted around 13 days off each year on average, but take only 5. South Koreans take 7 out of possible 10 vacation days, while American and Mexican workers take 10 days of vacation out of 12 and 14 possible days, respectively.

Asian workers often take the fewest days off in a year and work the longest weeks. Korean, Singaporean and Taiwanese workers often work around 44 hours a week, while Americans work 40 hours.

Europeans workers believe that taking a vacation is a duty, rather than a perk. Most European workers make use of the full 25 to 30 days of vacation time offered to them every year, other than scheduled holidays.

People in France and Spain take around 30 days off, just like workers in Brazil. Germans take 28 of 30 vacation days available to them, while British, Norwegian and Swedish workers take all their vacation days off in a year.

John Morrey, the general manager of Expedia, said, ‘We conduct this study each year and I am consistently surprised to see how differently each nation treats vacation time. Studies consistently show that an ideal work-life balance leads to happier and more productive employees.

Your vacation days are not a gift, not a luxury. They’re yours to use. So this year, instead of letting those days quietly expire, take that time and connect with the world outside of your office.’

VisitBritain to Woo Chinese Travellers

VisitBritain, the official tourism website for Great Britain, will be wooing the Chinees market, with a tourism delegation from the UK set to visit Shanghai, in China, this week.

The visit is part of a trade mission, and will be aiming to re-ignite the interests of Chinese travellers in the UK, following the London 2012 Olympic games. The delegation will be meeting important Chinese travel agents through appointments and seminars.

Keith Beecham, the leader of the China mission and director of overseas for VisitBritain, said, ‘The UK tourism opportunities from China are vast, numerous and there to be developed further, especially in this crucial post-London 2012 period.

Such was the demand from the industry that our mission could have been booked more than three times over. Everyone now recognises that China is a hugely important market for tourism and these business trips will help us achieve our target of welcoming 382,000 Chinese visitors by 2020.’

Recent research shows that the UK remains an attractive tourist destination for people from China, who are drawn to the country’s culture and heritage, countryside and shopping experiences.

In the last five years, the UK has seen a 39 percent increase in visitors from China, and the agency intends to increase this by 150 percent by 2020.

Earlier, VisitBritain announced its new ‘The Big British Invite’ campaign, featuring real British people, who will be inviting tourists to visit Britain for its scenic places and experiences. In its new phase, the campaign will be placing advertising aimed at travellers in the US, India, China, Japan and the Middle East.

The agency will be investing £5m for its partnership with British Airways to persuade travellers to visit Britain for Christmas shopping and to avail of the January sales, with a special offer from British Airways. The main campaign is running from October 2012 to March 2013.