Google says shift to mobile warmed up as Britain basked

Google says shift to mobile warmed up as Britain basked

By Travolution
By Travolution

The recent warm weather in the UK has help to accelerate the move away from desktop search to mobile, according to Google.Giving an update this week at the latest Travolution Editorial Advisory Board meeting Robin Frewer, Google’s director of travel and finance, said mobile growth was continuing.

Tablet growth is particularly marked at 100% year on year, said Frewer, while mobile is growing at 70%. Overall, mobile now accounts for just over 40% of travel searches on Google, with tablet accounting for 18%.

“This is driving people to think about mobile in a different way,” Frewer said. “While it was sunny people were willing to travel and they were searching but they might start on a mobile and finish on a desktop.”

Tracey Cheffey, executive producer at Travelzoo, said in the first week of June the site saw a 40% increase in mobile traffic.

Operations and IT director at Attraction World, Russell Parr, told the meeting that mobile traffic, including tablet, was now at 30% compared to just 12% a year ago.

Frewer said the warm spell had seen demand for travel reduce but Parr said that there were good signs for 2014 with a significant shift to early bookings.

And Andy Washington, Expedia UK managing director, said the online giant had seen signs of the short-haul Mediterranean market come back after an initial dip.

“The market has come right back. Even though we have had hot weather there is still pent up demand that will keep the market up.

“One tour operator I looked at has 1,600 holidays to sell in the next week, one had 1,600 to sell the next day. There is still plenty of availability in the school holidays. Prices are pretty good.”

Washington added that during the slump at the start of the heat wave – which On Holiday Group chief executive Steve Endacott claimed was as high as 20% – mobile traffic dropped by half that of desktop.

Mark Maddock, UK managing director of lastminute.com, said the switch to mobile has been most acutely seen for its lifestyle product including restaurant, spa and theatre bookings. He said this was sitting at 60% and outpacing mobile share in travel.

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P&O Cruises has designs on Britain’s biggest and best cruise ship

Special Report: P&O Cruises has designs on Britain’s biggest and best cruise ship

By Lee Hayhurst

A London-based agency behind some of the world’s most iconic hotels will oversee the cruise line’s new superliner. Lee Hayhurst found out more at last week’s keel laying in Italy

P&O Cruises has broken with tradition and employed a single design team from outside the cruise industry to oversee the development of its next ship.

The UK’s leading cruise operator said its decision to appoint London-based Richmond, a design agency for hotels, reflected its desire to come up with a new concept for a cruise ship.

Traditionally, separate design teams are allocated specific areas of ships, but P&O said it wanted to ensure the as-yet unnamed ship has a better flow.

Carol Marlow, managing director of P&O Cruises, said she had used hotel designers when she worked for Swan Hellenic to create a country club feel.

P&O Cruises is aiming for a contemporary British feel for its new 3,600-passenger ship, the biggest ever built for the UK market and due to enter service in 2015.

Richmond, which has 45 years’ experience of designing hotels, has worked on properties including Four Seasons Baku, InterContinental Park Lane and Langham hotels in London and Chicago.

Richmond’s introduction to cruise came when its spa at the Four Seasons in Hampshire was spotted by a Carnival executive and it was asked to design the spa for Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess.

“We wanted a design very much with British people in mind who have never been on a cruise before,” said Marlow.

“We hope this ship will bring in these types of people. British tastes are moving forward and we are trying to anticipate the future.”

An agent’s view

Leading agency Bolsover Cruise Club will keep its customers up to date on progress through its own blog on its recently relaunched website.

Marketing assistant Katie Anderson, who was attending her first keel laying, said clients will be sent e-shots, including blog posts, to build anticipation.

“We are already getting good engagement on our blog and have been focusing on our existing database but we have noticed a lot more new-to-cruise customers as well.”

 

We’ll be introducing British style, says ship’s architect

Compared to designing and building hotels, cruise ships like P&O Cruises’ new vessel are built at an incredibly fast rate, chief architect Terry McGillicuddy said.

The enormous drydock in the Fincantieri shipyard near Trieste was largely empty after the keel laying last week apart from the 500-ton chunk of metal that was ceremoniously lowered in. But within just two years, the ship will be cruising the world’s oceans.

“Very rarely can we get a hotel finished in two years, it’s usually four or five,” said McGillicuddy, director of London-based design agency Richmond.

“A ship is a huge build. There are a lot of food, beverage and entertainment areas that a hotel does not have.

“P&O was looking for overall designs throughout the ship to be up to date, and different from ships they have now that have rooms that are individually designed and do not really flow.

“The fact we are a British firm was really important; we will be introducing some British style.”

McGillicuddy said most of the initial design work was completed, with only details of the open deck area to be finalised.

P&O Cruises will be releasing details to build interest in the ship as construction continues.

Cruise lines become targets in latest Falklands face-off

Cruise lines become targets in latest Falklands face-off

By Tom Stieghorst
InsightThirty years ago they triggered a war between Great Britain and Argentina. Today the Falkland Islands are again causing friction, and this time cruise ships are getting caught in the middle.

Argentine activists have been targeting cruise ships that call on the South Atlantic islands and then visit Argentine ports. Passengers have been harassed and ships delayed from leaving port.

Some rancor stems from last year’s 30th anniversary of the war, a 74-day conflict over sovereignty won by Great Britain, and from a recent letter sent by Argentine President Cristina Kirchner to British Prime Minister David Cameron calling on him to return control of the islands to Argentina.

Underlying the tensions are hopes that undersea oil discoveries could bring new wealth to the islands.

Oil resources are unevenly divided in South America, with Venezuela and Ecuador having a lot and most of the other countries relatively little. But in 2009, one of the richest oil discoveries in the Western Hemisphere was made in deep water explorations off Brazil.

Seismic surveys show some signs that an equally large field could be tapped around the Falklands, and major players have been actively drilling exploration wells in the area.

Caught in the middle of this petro-political mess are cruise lines such as Seabourn, Princess and Silversea, which offer lengthy voyages this time of year in South America.

Cruise ships are targets because many are flagged in states associated with Great Britain, such as the Star Princess (Bermuda) or the Seabourn Sojourn (Bahamas). A law valid in five of Argentina’s provinces bans British ships involved in “exploitation of national resources” around the Falklands from docking.

Some ardent nationalists say the law extends to cruise ships. Last month, the Sojourn stayed in port an extra seven hours in Buenos Aires, under pressure to skip a stop in the Falklands, according to Britain’s Express newspaper.

A company statement said the delay was due to temporary unavailability of a tug and that it would sail to the Falklands after its stop in Montevideo, Uruguay, as scheduled.

While this latest round of protests continues, passengers booked on deep South America itineraries might best be prepared for the possibility of some extra days at sea.