Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Focusing its business solely on agents is a signifier of Excite’s confidence in the survival of consultants, with the company’s general manager Joe Karbo stressing that “there is a future for agents” in Australia. Speaking to e-Travel Blackboard exclusively, Mr Karbo said while there are hurdles in the industry, every market is being dealt with various scenarios and expects agents to always play a role in the Australian travellers booking plans. “We believe there is a future for agents, we consider them a part of the family and give them an alternative option,” Mr Karbo said. “We see sizeable bookings from Australians – some that add up to $10,000 particularly from families and I think that’s where the difference is in the Australian market. “They also prefer to book four – five star hotels and also the strong AUD and weak Euro continue to play a big factor that keeps the market stable and we’ve seen a lot of new trading.” Experiencing a 198 percent growth in bookings over the past 18 months, Mr Karbo pinned the company’s success to its dedication to travel agents as well as its move to embrace online. He said the combination of traditional with the benefit of technological development from consumer sites made Excite a spot for agents looking for a faster option with more choice. Celebrating its ten year anniversary this year, the company is in the midst of unveiling major technological developments that will help agents during the booking and research process. Among the online advancement includes a possible GDS alignment as well as next week’s official launch of Activities, a “comprehensive site seeing module” with over 5,000 activities in 330 cities to explore online in real time. Mr Karbo said the new site was designed to make Excite the “one stop shop” for accommodation, transfer and sightseeing. This year the company has also been nominated for three AFTA Awards including two in the supplier categories. Mr Karbo said the nominations were a “monumental achievement” for an Australian company that started with two people and now employs over 80 staff. “It is a competitive market with some agents booking on consumer sites,” Mr Karbo added. “We believe we have superior product out there… we believe we are the most innovative and that we have to work harder to earn the business when others have an open road for business.” For more information on Excite’s new Activities module, click back onto e-Travel Blackboard next week.
Go back to the e-newsletterCelebrating 15 years in one of America’s favourite cities, The Peninsula Chicago has unveiled the final results of a year-long comprehensive guest room redesign that sets a new standard for luxury accommodations. The reimagined rooms and suites introduce the brand’s advanced guest room technology to the United States, along with three new service initiatives: 24-hour check-in for web bookings, a Mobile Concierge service and Keys To The City – 15 programmes offering special access to Chicago’s best destinations and experiences. Encompassing 331 guest rooms and suites, the project showcases The Peninsula’s evolution of luxury design and enhances every guest’s stay with ease, elegance and personalisation.“We are thrilled to introduce a completely new guest room product to the Chicago market,” said Maria Razumich-Zec, The Peninsula Chicago’s General Manager and Regional Vice President. “The guest feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are especially proud of the innovative new technology showcased throughout. These developments, combined with our Keys To The City experiences, offer visitors a truly multi-faceted way to immerse themselves in the best of Chicago.”Pioneering guest room design and technologyDesigner Bill Rooney of Bill Rooney Studio, Inc., conceived contemporary interiors with cosmopolitan attitude in keeping with The Peninsula’s prime location in the heart of Chicago. Mr. Rooney took design cues from luxury yachts: fine wood finishes, lush fabrics, rich leathers, and a sense of purpose where everything has its place.The 74 newly redesigned suites at The Peninsula Chicago showcase custom artwork influenced by Chicago’s rich artistic culture. Each suite features a hand-embroidered silk chrysanthemum art wall, along with handpainted artisan glass elements by artist Michael Glickman that provide a decidedly chic yet residential feel. Artist David Qian’s team spent over 320 hours to hand embroider each floral art piece in the suites.Introducing Peninsula’s signature technology to the United States, the new rooms feature all essential functions, entertainment and guest services now available in 11 languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese). All room functions are just a touch away using bespoke tablet technology, including lighting, temperature controls, restaurant menus, hotel services, city information and attractions and TV channels. LED touch-screen wall panels offer weather details and privacy options. In addition to the recently launched 24-hour check-in for web bookings, a new Mobile Concierge provides instant guest service support by text message, directly to cell phones. An added benefit for domestic and international travellers alike, all domestic and international calls made from the guest room phone are complimentary via VOIP.All of this pioneering technology has been developed by The Peninsula Hotels’ Research and Technology Department. Based in Hong Kong, the group has been responsible for some of the most advanced, yet intuitive innovations in the global hotel industry since 1985. The team flew more than 250,000 miles during the installation of the new system to ensure a truly seamless experience for guests. Linking each guest room in the hotel is high-tech cable stretching over one million feet, which equates to 191 miles of the fastest connection available.15th Anniversary Celebration Package unveiledIn honour of The Peninsula Chicago’s 15th anniversary milestone in June 2016, the hotel’s crystal anniversary, the 15th Anniversary Celebration Package is offered in partnership with LALIQUE. The experience includes:Overnight accommodations for one nightWelcome bottle of Deutz ChampagneDeluxe Suites and above include a pair of LALIQUE 100 POINTS by James Suckling Champagne Flutes in a gift boxComplimentary breakfast for twoComplimentary overnight parkingGuestrooms start at US$505 and Deluxe Suites start at US$1155; valid through 31 December 2016. New Keys To The City experiencesTo celebrate its new guest rooms and 15th anniversary, The Peninsula Chicago offers guests unprecedented access to the very best of Chicago through 15 curated experiences called Keys To The City. In addition to the previously announced programmes that include a private kitchen tour at the three-Michelin-star restaurant, Grace; guaranteed house seats and access to the VIP intermission lounge at Broadway in Chicago performances; nine new experiences and perks have been added in April 2016. Highlights include:Fast Pass access to the new Navy Pier Ferris Wheel and seating in the coveted glass gondolaPrivate Temple Tour at haute chocolatier Vosges Haut-Chocolat, an experience not open to the publicExclusive dining journey at GE Bistro by former Peninsula Chicago Chef Graham Elliot, which includes access to the Greatest Hits menu and a kitchen tourSkip-the-line access to the highly anticipated Terracotta Warriors exhibit at The Field MuseumGo back to the e-newsletter