Virgin Gorda’s Biras
Creek closes doors
Biras Creek, a 33-suite resort in Virgin
Gorda, British Virgin Islands, ceased
operations due to what it termed “a
variety of business reasons” on its
Facebook page. It also said it was “
exploring options to relocate” existing
reservations. The 140-acre resort had
been operated by Victor International,
a Michigan-based developer of resorts.
The company signed a 10-year lease on
the property in 2006.
Barcelo to take full
control of Occidental
Spain-based Barcelo Corporacion Em-presarial, parent company of the Barcelo Group of hotels and resorts, agreed
to acquire Occidental Hotels & Resorts
with the purchase of a 57.5% stake
from Spanish banking group Banco Bil-boa Vizcay Argentaria. In May, Barcelo
acquired a 42.5% stake in Occidental.
The agreement is subject to approval
by Mexican authorities.
Celebrity, MGM reach
loyalty club pact
Celebrity Cruises and MGM Resorts
International reached an agreement
to give top-level loyalty club members
at each company access to the other
company’s products. Celebrity members will gain benefits and special
access to MGM concerts, events, entertainment venues and restaurants,
while MGM members will be eligible
for complimentary cruises.
Norwegian Air to fly
from U.S. to Caribbean
Norwegian Air on Dec. 3 will launch
seasonal service from three U.S. airports to the Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. The airline
will operate flights to the two islands
from New York Kennedy, Boston and
Airlines set Q1 record
for bag, change fees
U.S. airlines collected a record amount
of fees from passengers who checked
bags or made changes to their reservations during the first quarter, the Associated Press reported. In the first three
months of this year, airlines took in
$1.6 billion in such fees, up 7.4% from
the same period last year, the highest
amount for the first quarter since bag
fees started in 2008.
pages for TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor has added dedicated airport pages, starting with a page about
Singapore’s Changi Airport. The company plans to have pages for 200 global airports with links on them about
amenities, food options and nearby
hotels. New York Kennedy and London
Heathrow Airport are among airports
to be added next month.
MSC Seaside features
bowling, nine eateries
The MSC Seaside, the first MSC
Cruises ship that will go right from
the shipyard to the U.S., will feature
a bowling alley and nine restaurants,
including a pizzeria, seafood house,
steakhouse and Japanese teppanyaki
eatery. The ship will also feature 20
bars. It is scheduled to arrive in Miami in December 2017.
JetBlue expands Mint
service to Boston
JetBlue will expand its Mint premium
service to Boston on daily flights to
San Francisco and weekly to Barbados,
beginning in March, and daily flights
to Los Angles in fall 2016. JetBlue also
added Nashville as its 60th destination
from Boston, to begin in the spring.
The 140-acre Biras Creek resort has closed.
The MSC Seaside is set to arrive in Miami in 2017.
phone to actually book a trip.
Judging by user attitudes toward mobile,
however, that gap is about to close rapidly,
forcing suppliers, traditional travel agents
and intermediaries to adjust.
Last year, about 48% of those polled by
Phocuswright said they were “
comfortable” making a purchase on a smartphone,
compared with about 33% in 2013. Phocuswright listed Marriott International,
JetBlue and Priceline Group’s Open Table
among companies that have been either
introducing or testing programs that ease
customers’ ability to pay via smartphone.
“The most popular types of travel prod-
ucts to book via mobile vary across mar-
kets,” wrote the report’s author, Phocus-
wright’s Cathy Schetzina Walsh. “In the
U.S., for example, mobile hotel bookings
via OTAs dominate, while air bookings
lead in [the Asia Pacific region].”
If those predictions prove to be accurate,
Phocuswright’s forecast that U.S. online
travel bookings will reach $166 billion next
year means that about $30 billion in U.S.
mobile bookings will be in play.
So far, the area most affected by the
growth in mobile-device use for travel is
last-minute hotel-room bookings, especially via OTAs and other intermediaries.
Out of all hotel-room bookings via OTAs,
72% were made within a day of the stay,
compared with 30% of mobile bookings
through a hotelier’s website. Almost 90%
of the OTA bookings were made a week or
less prior to the stay.
That trend has fueled rapid growth for
Report: Travel bookings via
mobile the wave of the future
By Danny King and Gay Nagle Meyers
Travel bookings by Americans and Europeans via mobile devices will have almost
quadrupled between 2012 and 2016, according to a recent report from Phocuswright, and the market is rushing to accommodate those skyrocketing numbers.
Phocuswright, a sister enterprise to
Travel Weekly, also predicted that as mobile bookings become as commonplace
as laptop and desktop bookings, relative
startups such as Hotel Tonight will challenge larger intermediaries. At the same
time, it forecasted, established companies
like Apple will move to build demand by
having travel companies make their mobile apps available on new products like its
By next year, about one in five online-travel bookings made by Americans and
Europeans will be generated on a mobile
device, up from about 5% in 2012, Phocuswright said in its 90-page report. In China,
the surge will be even more rapid, as 31%
of online travel bookings will be made via
mobile next year, up from just 1% in 2012.
Granted, mobile devices continue to
be used more in the travel-research and
shopping stages than for bookings, and
most still have a ways to go to close the
gap with laptops and desktops. Among the
U.S. travelers polled by Phocuswright last
year, 78% reported having used a laptop or
desktop to book a trip during the previous
12 months. In the same sample, just 35%
had used a smartphone to select a travel
destination, and 25% had used a smart-
Virgin Cruises to set sail from Miami in 2020
Accompanied by models, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson last week departs a helicopter in Miami’s Museum
Park during a Virgin Cruises event to announce that the new cruise line has ordered three 2,800-passenger,
110,000-gross-ton cruise ships. The ships will be constructed by Fincantieri for delivery in 2020, 2021 and 2022
and will sail the Caribbean from Miami.
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