Royal Caribbean working on mobile app

Harmony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. said it has a new mobile app under development that should be ready to debut this summer.

On a conference call to discuss fourth-quarter and year-end earnings, RCCL chairman Richard Fain said the project, dubbed Excalibur internally, is expected to debut on six to 11 ships over the next year, followed by a rollout on one to two ships a month after that. RCCL’s major brands are Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises.

Fain didn’t say much about what the new app will do, but said it will “reflect all of the technologies available today.” He said the Wow bands, a wearable RFID device that assumes many functions of the key card, have been “extremely effective in simplifying the process for our guests. But it’s also obvious that the technology has improved a lot in the last two years.”

Wow bands are available to guests on Quantum-class ships (including Anthem of the Seas) and the Harmony of the Seas.

He called Carnival Corp’s recent unveiling of its Ocean Medallion and Ocean Compass personal technology “a very positive thing for our industry. It was a terrific roll out and got a lot of positive publicity which in the end inures to the benefit of all of us.”

Image result for ocean medallion carnival

In other topics discussed on the call, CFO Jason Liberty said that the company’s Wave period “is off to a strong start,” and that it is “trending nicely higher” from last year. He said officials are particularly encouraged by strength in North America.

“Over the past three months, bookings have been well above last year’s levels,” Liberty said. “We turn the year in a record booked position. We have fewer staterooms to sell for the year.”

In the fourth quarter, RCCL had net income of $261 million up from $206 million a year earlier. Revenue was flat.

For all of 2016, net income was $1.2 billion, up from $665.8 million. In 2015, RCCL was impacted by a write-down for the Pullmantur brand. Revenue in 2016 grew 2.4%, to $8.49 billion.

RCCL forecasted 2017 earnings in the range of $1.48 billion to $1.53 billion.

Smartphone booking values up 198% year on year, finds study


By Travolution
By Travolution

In its latest mobile browsing and booking trends report, brand consultancy Nucleus also found that mobile had rised to 43% of all website traffic in June 2014.

Apple remains the dominant operating system, with 77.9% share and 87.8% of bookings, while Android accounts for just 19.6% of the market.

Brands that have invested in responsive design or smartphone-friendly websites are naturally seeing better mobile results, with luxury sites reportedly leading the way.

However, despite evidence that users are increasingly shifting to mobile, and Google’s warnings about penalising mobile-unfriendly sites, the travel sector was found to be lagging when it comes to implementing responsive web design.

Founder and chief executive of Nucleus, Peter Matthews, said: “We are in our fourth year of studying the growth in mobile web browsing and are seeing further significant shifts in user behaviour with affluent smartphone users, in particular, now completing high value bookings on their phones.

“Wider availability of 4G and the launch in September of the larger screen iPhone 6 are likely to accelerate this trend.

“It’s surprising in this context that there are still so many travel brands without either a mobile-friendly website or app and fewer still taking advantage of the flexibility and efficiencies of responsive design. This prolonged inactivity is beginning to look like a death wish.”

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Mobile could pose biggest threat to travel stores of the future

Mobile could pose biggest threat to travel stores of the future


By Travolution
By Travolution

The move by technology giant Apple to establish a high street presence should provide the inspiration for the bricks and mortar travel stores of the future, but mobile could emerge as their biggest threat.

The fourth annual WTM Vision half-day conference in London debated the future of the high street with David Burling, managing director of Tui UK and Andy Washington, managing director of Expedia taking part in a panel debate.

Burling used the example of Apple, which has a network of stores throughout the UK in prime locations showcasing its products, as an example of how the future of the high street might look.

“The travel agency has evolved and it will keep evolving. If you have bookings that can be transacted across different channels the stores of the future may be different from the stores of today.

“What is clear is that the quality of the service and advice that good travel agents can give is still very important.

“Channels are becoming more blurred. The technology will become more available for consumers to start the booking in one channel and finish it elsewhere.

“The strength of the retailer is really around the product knowledge and customer service but there is also a role for the stores of the future offering more inspiration at the very early stages of the booking.

“Who would have believed that Apple of all people would have decided to open a load of retail stores?”

Mike Greenacre, former managing director of Co-operative travel  and a delegate at today’s event agreed.

“I very much agree with Dave about inspiration. The high street has greatly evolved and I think it will continue. The big change that will come is how retail stores embrace this technology.

“Where there is an Apple store it’s the busiest shop in town by a long long way.”

However, Andy Washington, managing director of Expedia UK, said: “The biggest threat to the high street us mobile.

“What’s stopping me going into a high street store getting them to do all the work and then googling it on my mobile to find it cheaper?”

Burling said Tui UK’s strategy is based around its differentiated product offering that stems from its close partnerships with hoteliers that has seen it develop a number of resort concepts.

“We want to be involved in designing a particular hotel experience with our partners. By doing that we get a better consumer experience, better repeat business and better reviews.”

Burling said concepts like its Splashworld water park resorts were showing “huge growth”.

“It’s identifying the customer requirements and working with hotel partners. We can do that because of our scale.”

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