Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Shopping hub in Johor - Genting and Chelsea Premium Outlets

Malaysia is set to become a shopping paradise with the opening of a world class premium factory outlet centre that is targeted to attract about four million visitors annually.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the project, a joint venture bet-ween Chelsea Premium Outlets and Genting Group, would be developed in Johor as part of the Iskandar Malaysia project.
The Prime Minister had a discussion with representatives from the Chelsea Property Group here on Monday and was informed the project was now on track, with construction expected to take off early next year and scheduled for completion by mid-2011.
Chelsea Premium Outlets is owned by Chelsea Property Group, which is the world’s largest owner, developer and operator of upscale outlet centres in the United States, Japan and South Korea.
“It is the first (Chelsea) centre in the (Asean) region and I’m very happy that they have chosen Malaysia,” Najib said, adding that he understood other countries in the region had been trying to woo the Chelsea Group to set up the centre.
Getting together: Najib (right) dining with American fund managers in New York yesterday. Also present is CIMB Group CEO Datuk Seri Nazir Tun Razak (fourth from right). — Bernama
Its centre in New York – Woodbury Common – lures millions of shoppers to its discounted items of designer brands like Coach, Gucci, Zegna, and Burberry. Items, which are a season old and are between 25% and 60% cheaper.
Najib, however, said there was a slight delay in the Malay-sian project earlier as the Chelsea Group had wanted to regroup its finances during the economic crisis. “Now that they have done so, they’ve got additional reserves for the project.”
He was confident that the centre would not only boost the tourism industry but also spin off secondary business and economic activities for supporting industries.
On the proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) to replace sales and service taxes, Najib said the Cabinet had decided that the Bill be presented at the end of the Parliament session for first reading.
“This will allow the public to make their comments. If we find it necessary to fine-tune, we will fine-tune.
“We will announce the rate later. It will not be a burden to the poor or even the middle class.”

Source : STAR
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Malaysia Airlines (MAS) reported a net loss of RM299.6mil for the three months ended Sept 30 compared with a net profit of RM38.1mil in the previous corresponding period mainly due to the loss of RM202mil in derivative mark-to-market on fuel.
At its results briefing yesterday, managing director/chief executive officer Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin said the fourth quarter continued to be tough although there were signs of improvement in passenger traffic.
“Forward bookings for fourth quarter have been very encouraging. We are seeing some signs of recovery but yields remain under pressure.
Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin (left) and MAS chief financial officer Mohd Azha Abdul Jalil at the results briefing Wednesday.
“Our strategy is to continue to strengthen our domestic and Asean operations and position ourselves for the recovery and growth of the long haul sector,” he said.
For the third quarter, the carrier posted pre-tax loss of RM297.1mil from a pre-tax profit of RM19.7mil a year ago, while turnover dropped to RM2.96bil from RM4.1bil before. Its loss per share stood at 17.93 sen from an earnings per share of 2.28 sen.
As at Sept 30, MAS’ cash and negotiable deposit balance stood at about RM2.5il.
“It’s (cash) lower than quarter two but we can still buy a lot of planes,” Azmil said.
MAS narrowed its operating loss to RM73mil for the third quarter from RM421mil losses reported in the preceding quarter, due to aggressive sales campaigns and highly competitive pricing which resulted in seat factor gaining 6.9 percentage points to 76.7%. The average yield for the period stood at 23 sen.
Its total operating expenditure decreased by 26%. Fuel cost and non-fuel cost dropped by 50% and 4% respectively.
The national carrier carried 3.3 million passengers during the quarter, the highest registered since early 2008. Its domestic operations remained strong with traffic volume up 20%.
For the nine months ended Sept 30, MAS posted a net loss of RM119.5mil against a net profit of RM198.1mil previously. Revenue was lower at RM8.3bil compared with RM11.6bil before while net loss per share stood at 7.15 sen.
Year-on year, the airline reported an operating loss of RM73mil compared with RM44mil operating profit previously.
Despite MAS’ RM202mil loss in derivative mark-to-market on fuel, Azmil said it would continuously review its competitive fuel hedging strategy.
“Fuel prices are on an uptrend. Competitive hedging is the right way to go as fuel prices remain volatile,” he added.
MAS hedged 57% of its fuel requirement for the remainder of 2009 at US$90 a barrel and 60% of its fuel needs at US$100 per barrel for 2010.
To a question, Azmil said forward bookings for 2010 were better compared with the current year. “It’s good news after all the gloom and doom. Our blueprint remains the business transformation plan 2 and we aim to transform into the World’s Five Star Value Carrier and we are accelerating the key business initiatives,” he said.
Without elaborating, Azmil said MAS had plans to introduce new destinations in the Middle East.
Asked if MAS would be increasing its fares due to its low yield, Azmil said MAS would continue to offer competitive and compelling fares.
“Increasing yield is not the same as increasing fares and it is not necessary to increase fare to boost yield,” he added.
MAS will lease two additional Boeing B737-800 aircraft next year to increase domestic and regional capacity.
“We have received 13 new ATRs for Firefly and MASwings and we have new aircraft deliveries from 2010 to 2015 which will allow us to deploy capacity in profitable routes and optimise yields through our new fleet and offerings,” Azmil said.
On the funding of its new aircraft, he said MAS had yet to decide as there were many options available. “We have a year from now before we receive the first aircraft in October 2010,” Azmil said.

Source : STAR
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Yen Yen Proposes VOA Fee Reduction For China Tourists

Malaysian Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said here she would propose that Malaysia reduce the visa-on-arrival (VOA) fee for China tourists to encourage more of them to visit Malaysia.

She said she would propose to the Home Ministry that the current fee of USD100 be reduced to RM50, which is equivalent to RMB100.

"I believe the fee reduction to RM50 will attract more China tourists to Malaysia," Ng told Malaysian reporters at the end of her visit here Wednesday.

Ng, who is on an eight-day working trip to China, has been to Chengdu, Chongqing and Zhongshan to hold seminars promoting Malaysia's high-end tourism products, such as golf tours, honeymoon packages, homestays and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions).

The minister introduced Malaysia's high-end tourism products at the seminar, and received various feedback on visa issues during the Q&A sessions.

A total of 146 media organisations, 180 travel agencies and 25 enterprises sent their representatives to the seminars.

Ng also said that she would forward to the Home Ministry a proposal of Sichuan Province Vice-Governor Huang Yan Rong for a Malaysian consulate to be set up in Chengdu to enhance bilateral collaboration in the economic, trade, tourism and cultural sectors.

The minister said the working trip was a fruitful one.

"We always focus on travelling to the big cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai. We need to expand our route to the second-tier cities to widen options in developing new packages," she said.

Ng also encouraged Malaysian tour operators to develop new packages in line with demand.

During the trip, Ng visited art galleries and museums in each city as she planned to promote contemporary art in Malaysia next year.

Source :  Bernama
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AirAsia X starts flying to Middle East

Long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X has started flying five times a week from Kuala Lumpur to Abu Dhabi, expanding its network into the Middle East.

The inaugural flight on its Airbus 340 culminated with a launch event at the Yas Island Rotana hotel here yesterday.

AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani said Abu Dhabi has the potential to become a hub for the carrier to expand its network into the Middle East.

"I take it (Abu Dhabi ) as a priority market. We are now focusing on adding more capacity and working on the service's efficiency. We will focus on Abu Dhabi first, before expanding our network further into this region," he said after the launch.

Also present were Malaysian High Commissioner to the United Arab Emirates Datuk Yahaya Abdul Jabar, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority deputy director-general Ahmad Hussein and AirAsia X chairman Datuk Kalimullah Hassan.

Abu Dhabi serves as a gateway to the Middle East, which has a population of about 300 million.

Abu Dhabi is the ninth destination offered by AirAsia X, after Chengdu, Hangzhou, Taipeh, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Perth, London and Tienjin.

To celebrate its launch, AirAsia X is offering 1,100 free tickets under the AirAsia Go Holiday packages from now until Friday. The travel period is for December 1 until January 31 2010.

It is also offering an online promotional offer of a number of seats through its website at RM99 or 99 dirhams, for one-way travel between now and July 31 2010.

Source : Business Times
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Malaysia Airlines posts Q3 loss

MALAYSIA Airlines said on Wednesday it sunk back into the red in the third quarter, blaming losses on its fuel-hedging positions.

In the three months to September, the airline posted a net loss of RM299.6 million (S$122.7 million) compared with a net profit of RM38.1 million a year earlier.

That included fuel hedging losses of RM202 million for the quarter.

'The outlook for the fourth quarter 2009 continues to be challenging,' the national carrier said.

'There is an early sign of improvement in passenger and cargo traffic, partly stimulated by intensive marketing campaigns but yields remain under pressure.' Malaysia Airlines has had a turbulent year, with a second-quarter profit of RM876 million due to fuel price hedging gains, but losses of RM695 million in the first quarter due to weaker demand and overcapacity.

It said its operating loss for the third quarter narrowed to RM73 million from a loss of RM421 million in the second quarter, helped by an improved load factor.

Source : NST
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Services not just goods attract Australian shoppers to Malaysia

With the Australian dollar powering through the three to one mark, and no indication of slowing down, it's no wonder that Australians are in the top three countries for tourist spending in Malaysia.

Over the weekend Malaysia's Year End Sale, or better known locally as simply M-YES, officially began, with participating outlets rolling out the discounts.  But amidst the lucrative hauls of goodies, the services market shouldn't be overlooked.

"Australians love to shop! And shopping in Malaysia is so cheap in comparison," said Wendy Lee, Tourism Malaysia Marketing Executive, to e-Travel Blackboard.  "But that's not all you can do here."

"There's spa treatments, facials, massages, manicure and pedicures, hair treatments - and all for much cheaper than Australia."

Wellness, health and beauty travel has been on the rise throughout South-East Asia over the last few years, and Malaysia is also seeing an increase of travellers seeking some rest, relaxation and pampering.

In Bukit Bintang Starhill Plaza is renowned for its upmarket boutiques, but on the top floor travellers can find the "pamper level" which sees several spas and salons all housed in the one area.  Due to this, prices are quite reasonable, for example a two and a half hour scrub, massage and facial at Kanebo will put you back by around AU$90.

For something a little more exotic, a foot massage and a session with the doctor fish can be had at nearby Pavilion.  "Doctor Fish" is the more friendly term for the Garra Rufa breed of fish who happen to enjoy nibbling on dead skins cells (but will leave your healthy bits alone).  A half-hour session with these little beasts can also be joined with a half-hour reflexology treatment at the chain store Kenko for around AU$25. 

Doctor fish can also be found at local markets and other shopping locations for cheaper.  But as the fish are notoriously hard to keep, travellers are advised to do their research on the store.

Salons and hair-dressers can also be found scattered around the city, with your average cut, wash and blow dry ranging between AU$10 and AU$20.  The unique selling point here is that most salons will also include a head, neck and shoulder massage as part of the package.  And of course they will try to up-sell their treatments and products while they have you entrapped in the chair - still the end price will still be significantly less than Australia.

Manicures and pedicures can be had whilst getting your hair done, or can be bought on its own, with your typical French Manicure set to cost you roughly AU$10 to AU$15 depending on the store, with pedicures priced roughly at the same price-point.  Again massages are part of the treatment, and a "mani-and pedi" session will easily take an hour to complete.

While many hotels do already include these services in their in-house spas, those not staying in a property with these offers won't have to miss out, with most shopping malls or megamalls all offering these services.

Source : Travel Blackboard
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

New LCCT To Be Ready By End Of 2011

The building of a new Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) will be completed by the end of 2011 although its construction faced some delay, said Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri.

This was established at a weekly meeting between the project's management consultant and the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) on Nov 10, he said when replying to a supplementary question by Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak) in the Dewan Rakyat here Tuesday.

"The project's progress should be 15.5 per cent but right now it is 13.5 per cent. Based on the current status the delay is two per cent or 18 days," he said.

The delay was caused by the delay in approval by the Finance Ministry for certain packages besides delay in design and procurement for the control tower, said, Abdul Rahim.

In that regard, he said the ministry will monitor the progress of the project which was now in the design preparation stage.

When answering the original question by Datuk Ab Halim Ab Rahman (PAS-Pengkalan Chepa) as to whether the number of AirAsia passengers would be between 10 and 15 million by 2015 as well as the government's action to build or expand the LCCT, he said the new LCCT could handle up to 30 million passengers a year.

The government agreed to the project after we found the number of AirAsia passengers was rising and we estimated it can reach up to 15 million by 2015," he said.

Source : Bernama
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TA sees jump in hotel earnings

CEO positive with acquisition of Swissotel
KUALA LUMPUR: TA Enterprise Bhd expects earnings from its hotel operations to triple next year following the completion this month of the acquisition of its fourth hotel, the Swissotel Merchant Court Singapore.
“There will be four hotels contributing to the segment from Nov 30 onwards and we are positive,” managing director and chief executive officer Datin Alicia Tiah said after the company EGM yesterday.
Sales from hotel operations totalled RM76.6mil, or about 14% of the group’s sales, for the financial year ended Jan 31, 2009, the company’s 2009 annual report showed.
Datin Alicia Tiah ... ‘The injection will see better synergistic management.’
The group, via its property division TA Global Bhd, already owns three other hotels - the Westin Melbourne, Radisson Plaza Hotel Sydney and the Aava Whistler Hotel in Canada.
Tiah said the RM635.8mil Swissotel proposed purchase, which received shareholders’ approval yesterday, would be conducted under TA Enterprise and not TA Global as the “opportunity to purchase Swissotel came in after the submission of TA Enterprise’s application to the Securities Commission for the listing of TA Global.”
TA Enterprise, which saw its share price rise more than 50% this year before softening, has consolidated all of its property assets under TA Global and the company will be listed on Bursa Malaysia on Monday.
Swissotel would be injected into TA Global post-listing, Tiah said, for “better synergistic management.”
The four-star hotel had an average occupancy rate of 78.5% last year, she said, adding that the proposed purchase came with a S$19mil earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) guarantee for the years 2010 to 2013.
The ebitda guarantee is secured against a cash deposit of S$10mil held by the escrow agent, i.e. a party that has fiduciary responsibilities in the transfer of property from one party to another.
Future plans for Swissotel include an estimated capital expenditure of about S$5mil budgeted for the next five years for refurbishment and upgrade activities, Tiah said.
The budgeted capex has been taken into consideration in the pricing of the hotel.
Asked on the prospects of more acquisitions, Tiah said: “We are looking; we are always looking. There are so many distressed assets all over. The thing we look for is the right price.”

Source : STAR
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Hotel plan gives PJ folk the blues

PETALING JAYA residents are fuming over a proposed development of a 19-storey hotel along Jalan Utara which will aggravate the traffic chaos in the area.
The site is located between an ongoing commercial development and the SMK Bukit Bintang, at the junction of Jalan Utara and Jalan Semangat.
Residents in the area got to know about the development when a signboard was put up at the currently vacant land, informing the public about the proposed development and giving them until Nov 3 to submit their objection.
The sign states the proposed development would be a 19-storey hotel built on top of three levels of basement and one level of semi-basement carpark.
High traffic volume: PJ residents say the proposed hotel plan (on the left) along Jalan Utara will only add to the congestion in the area.
Section 12 Residents Association chairman R. Rajasoorian said that the area was already overdeveloped and building a hotel there would make matters worse.
“That stretch is going to be a mess and the hotel is going to be located right at the T-junction. Traffic is already bad now without the hotel,” he said.
He added that besides the secondary school (SMK Bukit Bintang), there was also the SK Sri Petaling primary school across the road.
All Petaling Jaya Residents Association (Apac) chairman Liew Wei Beng said that he was concerned about the density of the developments in the area.
He said that there was also a church next to the Tun Hussein Onn Eye Hospital which would also add to the congestion.
“Once the high-density commercial blocks are ready, the traffic impact would be mind-boggling,” he said.
He said that an existing hotel down the road has already proven to create traffic problems when there were big functions and cars would be double-parked along the road.
He echoed Rajasoorian’s concern over the hotel’s proximity to the schools.
“I’m not sure if its advisable to have a hotel next to a school,” said Liew.
A spokesperson for Malton Berhad, who submitted the proposal to the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ), said that they have addressed the traffic problems in the area.
“A traffic impact assessment (TIA) has been done and the impact from the hotel would be minimal.
“It’s a mid-ranged hotel that would cater to the short- and mid-term stays of the business people from the offices around the area, so we are not expecting a high volume of traffic. There would be no big function rooms in the hotel,” he said.
He said that as part of the council’s requirement to build the commercial development, they would widen a stretch of Jalan Utara starting from the Jalan Semangat junction.
“We would be adding an extra lane on both sides of Jalan Utara,” he said.
Rajasoorian also expressed his disappointment at the then Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) councillors who approved the commercial project without residents’ knowledge.
“If the present council under the current state government closes an eye to the problems we are facing here, we would be back to square one,” said Rajasoorian.

Source : STAR
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Asian Countries Contribute To Increase In October Tourism Arrivals

Asian countries are the top 10 markets which contributed to an increase in tourist arrivals for October, with 1.1 million arrivals from Singapore followed by Indonesia, Thailand, China and Brunei, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said Tuesday.

"The tourism arrivals for October 2009 were from Singapore (1,104,415), Indonesia (223,238), Thailand (143,973), China (95,235), Brunei (75,517), Australia (56,601), India (54,206), the United Kingdom (38,842), the Philippines (37,902) and Japan (35,028)," she said at the launch of The Malaysia Year End Sales (M-YES) 2009, here.

The arrivals for the month of October recorded a significant increase of 14.3 per cent, which was 2,078,485 compared to 1,818,304 in October 2008.

Even though the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reported a global slowdown in tourism movement this year, Malaysia recorded a fantastic growth in tourist arrivals with an increase of 14.3 per cent, she said.

Dr Ng said that despite the global challenges that the tourism industry had to contend with, the strong support from tourism industry partners both locally and overseas and the continuous promotion locally and abroad had made this significant contribution to the country's economy.

She said that for the period of January to October 2009, the cumulative tourist arrivals were 19,456,525, an increase of 7.2 per cent compared to the same period in 2008 (18,148,159), thus meeting the target of 19 million arrivals set for 2009.

"Shopping holds the second biggest share of tourist expenditure after accommodation, with its contribution of RM13.2 billion in 2008, compared to RM12.2 in 2007, signifying an increase of 8.4 per cent," she said.

On the Malaysia Year End Sales 2009 (M-YES), Dr Ng said the sales carnival took place simultaneously nationwide for 44 days, bringing shoppers a line-up of retail therapy, great dining experiences and fun entertainment.

Organised for the ninth time, M-YES will go on from Nov 21 to Jan 3, 2010, with some 350 retailers across the country participating by offering discounts and promotions, and will see a much-anticipated annual event by both locals and tourists.

Source : Bernama
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Penang hotels wooing business travellers

Move to exploit state’s good potential in business process outsourcing
GEORGE TOWN: Branded hotels along the famed tourist belt in Batu Ferringhi here are aiming for a slice of the corporate travellers market, shedding their image as leisure oriented resorts which cater only to families and holidaymakers in the process.
These hotels include the newly refurbished Golden Sands Resort and the just-opened Hard Rock Hotel.
Opened on Nov 12, the 328-room Eastin Hotel, located at the southern part of the island, will also compete for the corporate market, given its proximity to the Free Industrial Zone, where the multinational corporations (MNCs) are located.
Bruno Cristol ... ‘We are receiving about 2,800 delegates from India in two batches.’
The move to woo corporate clients comes amid Penang’s new reputation as an international business process outsourcing site, as highlighted in the KPMG’s Exploring Global Frontier report.
After spending about RM36mil on refurbishment, Golden Sands Resorts, a member of Shangri-La International Hotels Group, is repositioning itself to capture the corporate as well as MICE (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) markets.
The refurbishment, now over 90% completed, is scheduled for completion by mid-November.
“In the last two weeks of November, we are receiving about 2,800 delegates from India in two batches from an internationally known multi-level marketing company to take part in an annual conference.
“Our sister hotel, Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, will help provide accommodation for the guests, as we won’t have enough rooms.
“This is the largest delegation to arrive from a single company and country in the past 15 years. We are now targeting also the corporate and MICE segment and not just the leisure crowd.” Golden Sands Resort general manager Bruno Cristol said adding that it also provide unlimited free wireless services for all the rooms and in the lobby.
Cristol noted that Australians and Indians were coming to Penang more frequently due to frequent direct flights, and as Penang carved up new tourism markets, such as Eastern Europe.
The newly opened RM150mil Hard Rock Hotel in Batu Ferringhi is also wooing the corporate market segment.
Operations director Thomas Blachere said a delegation of 400 people from an MNC in the country would be staying at the hotel this month for an incentive meeting.
“We will be packed with visitors from South-East Asia, as we have received many enquiries from corporate clients in the region to hold incentive meetings here,” he said.
Blachere said the hotel would be tying up with airlines such as AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines and Firefly soon to promote domestic and regional tourism.
“We have special rates for visitors who fly with these airlines,” he said.
Eastin Hotel manager Mary Ann Harris said besides the normal leisure crowd, the hotel aimed to attract customers from MNCs, MICE, the travel industry and the medical tourism market.
The hotel is targeting guests from countries such as Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, China, Japan, Australia, United States and Europe.
“We are aiming for an over 80% occupancy rate for the final quarter of the year,” Harris said.
Marco Battistotti, the Penang chapter chairman of the Malaysia Association of Hotels, noted that over the last two years, Penang had seen an increase in the number of visitors from the corporate and MICE market segments.
“There is regular demand by business and MICE groups from emerging destinations such as India, China and Taiwan to host small-scale incentive and corporate meetings in Penang.
“That is why there are hotels that want to shift away from the traditional resort and leisure market segment and focus on expanding the corporate and MICE market segment,” Battistotti said.
He expects the performance of hotels in the state for the final quarter of 2009 to be better than the same period in 2008.
“Because of the economic crisis, the hotel occupancy rate dropped to about 55% in the first half of 2009. But the occupancy rate of hotels here is gradually climbing back and should hit about 65% by the end of 2009,” he said.

Source : STAR
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Sheraton Langkawi Recognised As Malaysia's Leading Resort

The Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort won the award in "Malaysia's Leading Resort" category at the World Travel Awards event in London last Saturday.

The hotel's sales and marketing director Stephanie Choi said the achievement was a proud one and raised the image of Langkawi as a world class tourist holiday destination.

"The hotel had previously won the Langkawi 2008 award for Outstanding Resort from the Langkawi Development Authority and the Langkawi Tourism body," she added, in a statement here, Friday.

The World Travel Awards is organised to give recognition as well as honour excellence in the global travel and tourism industry.

Stephanie also said that to ensure maximum satisfaction for its clients, the 238-room hotel will continue to enhance its services in line with the recognition just received.

This years voting was the highest in the history of the World Travel Awards, with 183,000 professionals voting to pick the best promoters of the travel, tourism, hospitality and services industry in Asia.

Source : Bernama
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MAS Among Top 10 Airlines In Global Local Monitor

Malaysia's national carrier, Malaysia Airlines (MAS), is among top 10 airlines in the first Global Local Monitor on airline websites.

Although MAS was No. 10 in the top list, trailing behind other Asian rivals such as Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific and Asiana, the fact that MAS could make it to the Global Local Monitor is quite an achievement.

This year, the User Experience Alliance (UXalliance), a global network of leading user research firms, celebrated World Usability Day by unveiling the preliminary findings of the first-ever Global Local Monitor.

The monitor assesses the efficacy of a site and its level of localisation or adaptation to local language and culture.

Localisation is based on factors such as the proper use of local languages, character sets, weights and measures, currencies, dates and times and culturally sensitive imagery.

In this case, it examines how well an airlines' website is localised by gauging its impact on a customer's ability to complete travel bookings or find important information.

Ultimately, it impacts brand perception and sales.

The Global-Local Monitor for airlines drew upon the talents and expertise of over 70 user experience professionals from 17 countries across Asia, Europe and the Americas.

This is the broadest systematic localisation review ever conducted by user experience professionals. The Global-Local airline monitor involved five local user experience experts in each country, each reviewing the 10 websites on 30 localisation criteria.

The 10 websites surveyed were those shortlisted for the Skytrax Airline of the year award which annually rates airline performance by more than 16 million air travellers.

The UXalliance investigated whether the airlines was recognised by their outstanding service in the air also deliver the same outstanding service in their online customer experience to users in various locations around the world.

The findings reveal that of the world's 10 top-rated airlines, Emirates, Quantas and Qatar Airways were rated highest in terms of meeting of the needs of local users around the world.

The determining success factors were information in the local language, culturally appropriate character sets, colour schemes and imagery and well-localised calendar formats.

The airlines rated lowest tended to be less developed or representative of the local markets.

Following are the full localisation ratings and rankings:

Airline Rating Rank Emirates 7.76 1

Quantas 7.32 2

Qatar 7.27 3

Singapore 7.26 4

CathayPacific 7.21 5

NewZealand 7.15 6

Thai 6.88 7

Etihad 6.76 8

Asiana 6.49 9

Malaysia 6.37 10

Through its extensive experience in global user research, the UXalliance knows companies that excel in localising their sites have a higher probability of connecting with their customers and maximising profitability of their local websites.

Surprisingly, not a single European or North American airline figured in the top 10 airlines.

Source : Bernama
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Singapore Hotels here going the extra mile to welcome Apec visitors

They're ready to handle tall orders
[Photo above: WELCOME TO SINGAPORE: Guest services manager of Orchard Hotel Rajagopal Rajkumar with a tray of mocktails specially prepared for Apec delegates. With him are three members of his team.]

WHAT do you do when a hotel guest says he can’t touch any electrical appliances?

That was the predicament staff at Rendezvous Hotel Singapore faced recently when they had to host a group of Jewish guests.

Mr Kellvin Ong, the hotel’s general manager, told The New Paper: “(They were) escorted up the lift by our staff as they (could not touch the lift button).

“The room was also kept in darkness and the door was kept open.”

Although the guests did not say why they could not touch any appliances, it is believed the reasons had to do with their religious beliefs.

Some Jewish schools of thought say the use of electricity is prohibited during the Shabbat (the Sabbath, in Hebrew), which is observed on Fridays and Saturdays.

With a flood of high-powered individuals converging in Singapore for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meetings, hotels here are bracing themselves for unusual requests.

After all, the rich and powerful can have their quirks.

Take Ms Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and the Republican running mate in the US presidential elections last year.

Entertainment website reported that she takes her mocha very seriously – no whip, with a specific “thin red straw”.

Red, after all, is the Republican colour.

Local hotels would not say if they had received outlandish demands from Apec visitors, citing privacy concerns. But they said they were ready for any unusual requests that may come their way.

Mr Antoine Chahwan, regional vice-president and general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, said: “As long as the requests are legal and above-board, we’ll try our best to fulfil them.”

The Regent Singapore – reported to be where Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will be staying - also believes in going above and beyond the basics.

A spokesman for the hotel said they once had a guest from Hong Kong who insisted on Chinese medicated oil from a Chinese medicinal shop.

But the nearest shop to the hotel in Tanglin Road was at Bugis.

So a concierge offered to buy it for her, as there was a shop near his own home. He got her 10 bottles.
Said a spokesman: “The guest from Hong Kong was touched and very appreciative of the gesture.”
At Orchard Hotel, Mr Rajagopal Rajkumar, 51, has been appointed its Apec ambassador to handle the delegates’ concerns.

Recently promoted to guest services manager from chief concierge, one of Mr Rajkumar’s new tasks is to ensure the delegates have newspapers from their own countries, as well as sufficient copies of the International Herald Tribune (IHT).

He said that because Singapore is the host country for Apec, it’s significant that they understand the needs of their guests.

“So we have swung into full gear, running into details to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch.”
With 30 years of hospitality experience under his belt, he is no stranger to dignitaries. He said he once served former US president Bill Clinton, who visited Singapore in 2005 as a special United Nations envoy for the tsunami reconstruction efforts.

Mr Rajkumar said: “My impression is that he’s a down-to-earth gentleman.”

Orchard Hotel will be hosting delegates from eight countries and has ordered newspapers from those countries.

The hotel’s spokesman said they have also ordered extra copies of major financial newspapers such as the IHT, Asian Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Business Times.

She added: “Other foreign papers are also available on request as we work with foreign newspaper vendors.”

Other delegates have asked for non-smoking rooms and specific types of pillows which includes feather, therapeutic, anti-snore, hypoallergenic, high-density foam, cotton and buckwheat.

Mr Rajkumar said: “We have to be very careful because people can be sensitive to smoke and dust.”
The hotel also has stocks of extra ties, tuxedos and cuff links in case the delegates lose their luggage.

Mr Rajkumar said: “We have associates available 24 hours to provide these things. Sometimes, incidents such as lost baggage may occur so the guests may not have the clothes they need.”

Over at Fairmont and Swissotel the Stamford, at Raffles City, a group of delegates have asked for access to their local TV channel to keep abreast of the news in their native language.

The hotel spokesman said: “We’ll be specially subscribing (to the channel) just for this period, to cater to their needs and, in the process, turning the moments into beautiful memories for our delegates.”

At the Royal Plaza on Scotts, there are dedicated staff members attending to the VIPs, which include finding out their likes, dislikes and dietary requirements.

All the hotels hosting Apec delegates have been given the recipe for the Apec mocktail, to be served at check-in and on request.

Source : AsiaOne
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

MAS sees gains from new booking system

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) expects to gain RM2bil in revenue and cost savings over 10 years after implementing a new reservations system called SITA, said managing director and chief executive officer Tengku Datuk Azmil Zahruddin.

The new reservations system, which is barely two weeks old, will also result in the launch of a new mobile booking platform next month, according to Azmil.
From left: MAS GM of transition management Salleh Tabrani (partially hidden), MD/CEO Tengku Azmil Zahruddin and SITA senior VP – sales & relationship management, Richard Stokes.
“This is a significant milestone for MAS and it opens up a future of great commercial possibilities through the use of SITA’s Horizon portfolio. It is the critical piece in the jigsaw puzzle we have been assembling with SITA over the last three years,’’ Azmil told reporters at a press conference in Subang yesterday.
“We are going to be one of the first few airlines to offer air travel bookings via mobile phones. It is providing a convenience and we hope more people will be (attracted) to book with us with this new mobile facility,’’ he said, referring to the upcoming mobile booking service.
The national carrier decided in 2006 to spend RM480mil, over a 10-year period, to upgrade its passenger service system, with MAS now enjoying the cost efficiencies the new booking system brings.
The early adoption and migration to the latest technology has seen MAS benefiting from a rise in online bookings from 4% initially to 30% now. Its unit, MAS Wings, makes 45% of its sales from online bookings.
The shift from the outdated Kommas reservation system began at the end of last month where the records of 1.5 million passengers were transferred to the new SITA system.
MAS has trained over 3,000 reservations and ticketing staff worldwide to handle the new system.
The national airline also offers interlining with 100 partners, including United Airlines, its latest partner.
The new booking system allows for more than just making air ticket reservations, with the upcoming mobile booking platform allowing travellers to do mobile bookings, check-in and check the flight status and even the flight timetable using their mobile phones.
MAS will not charge more for the mobile service and consumers need only pay the normal data rates charged by their respective mobile service providers. The new booking system has resulted in greater reliability, with the national carrier also looking to enhance its call centres, according to Azmil.

Source : STAR
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AirAsia’s sale proves to be a hit

AirAsia’s website registered 300 million hits in the first 11 hours of its Free Seats campaign, its regional commercial head Kathleen Tan said.
She also noted that at least 300,000 seats were sold in less than 24 hours.
In a statement yesterday, she said AirAsia’s server capacity had been doubled to cope with the congestion on
“The rush for the free seats is a real testament that today’s consumers are online savvy and embracing the low-cost revolution happening in Asia.”
To those who had not succeeded in making their bookings, she urged them to keep trying for the remaining 700,000 free seats.
The campaign ends on Nov 15.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

AirAsia offering one million free seats

Low-cost carrier AirAsia is giving away a million free seats from today to more than 70 destinations in China, India, Taiwan, Indonesia and Thailand.

Those interested in enjoying the free seats can book their tickets from today until Sunday, for flights between May 1 and Oct 30 next year.

AirAsia’s regional commercial head Kathleen Tan said when the economy was tough, people looked for travelling options that offered them better value for money.

“With no fuel surcharge and administration fee, this deal offers fantastic value to our guests,” she said in a statement yesterday.

She said to complement the free flights, AirAsia’s one-stop travel portal was also offering deals and packages including “free rooms” in more than 180 Asia-Pacific hotels online at

For more information on free seats and other promotional tickets, visit or

Source : STAR
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The Autograph Collection - Marriott's New Brand and Exclusive Group of Independent Hotels and Resorts

Marriott International, Inc. launched today The Autograph Collection, a new brand within the company's global portfolio comprised of upper upscale and luxury, independent, hotels with distinctive personalities in major cities and desired destinations worldwide.

"The Autograph Collection will take the innovative approach of grouping these iconic hotels according to the unique experience that guests are seeking whether it's a resort, historic hotel, boutique arts, or urban edge hotel in a dynamic gateway city," said Don Semmler, executive vice president of brand management for Marriott International. "Each hotel will be highly unique and distinct with its own identity, appealing to a growing segment of our customers who are looking for an experience that an independent hotel can deliver."
There are currently plans to add approximately 25 hotels through 2010 with locations throughout the world. The Autograph Collection provides Marriott with another attractive platform for future global growth. The benefit to member properties includes tapping into Marriott's industry-leading global reservations system, and powerful consumer outreach through its leading technology, and sales and marketing platforms which have helped build Marriott into one of the world's leading hotel operators.

Marriott has been successful in developing brands across a wide spectrum of customer segments and each is uniquely positioned against a specific target segment. While there may be some cross selling opportunities, The Autograph Collection gives Marriott the ability to capture a broad audience that would not have typically considered a branded concept - appealing to guests who want to stay in independent hotels.
Each hotel will be required not only to meet Autograph's discriminating product standards, but will also need to demonstrate continued high guest satisfaction and quality assurance scores to remain part of The Autograph Collection. In addition, each hotel will go through the same hotel and operator approval processes as other Marriott full-service hotels.

The Autograph Collection will be featured on and affiliated with Marriott Rewards, Marriott International's award-winning guest loyalty program, where guests can earn points at more than 3,000 hotels in 68 countries.

Source : Hotels
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sheraton launches new website, adds Facebook

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts announced today the launch of the new, the first hotel industry website to feature Facebook Connect and allow visitors to interact with their friends and family by sharing their travel experiences through today’s most popular social networking site. In 2006, became the first hotel industry website to embrace social media by featuring user generated content. Today, the brand continues to enhance the social media experience for guests by tapping into new social networking channels and enabling a two-way dialogue through the unique global travel community on The launch of the new site is part of a $6 billion worldwide effort to revitalize the iconic Sheraton brand, including an investment of $2.3 billion in new hotels, $1.5 billion in renovations and $400 million in signature brand initiatives throughout North America.

Facebook Users can Now Share and Discover via
The new site enables Facebook members to interact through over travel experiences by sharing stories, tips and photos about their best travel finds, destination favorites and passion for travel. Users can visit and now post their stories by logging into their Facebook account via Facebook Connect. Once a story is approved and posted to the site, Facebook Connect enables users to tag their Facebook friends in their story, inviting them to jump into the conversation as well as share their travel experiences with all of their Facebook friends. Not a Facebook member? No worries – anyone can post their travel tales and photos by simply entering their email address. Have a question or comment for Sheraton Hotels about an upcoming stay or recent visit? The new site also lets visitors create a two-way dialogue with the brand through its online community.

“The new reflects how people communicate and stay connected today,” said Hoyt H. Harper, senior vice president for Sheraton. “Our guests are technologically-sophisticated travelers who are eager to share their experiences through today’s most popular social networking sites, like Facebook. We wanted to use the power of social media to go beyond merely just transacting with customers and provide a meaningful experience by creating a global community where travelers can easily engage in an active, exciting dialogue about their passion for travel.”

Explore Our Global Neighborhood
Upon entering the new visitors can click on “our community”, or go directly to, where they will be welcomed by a globe that represents the Sheraton brand’s “global neighborhood” and invited to explore what other guests are saying about their travels as well as share stories of their own. The globe is organized by region and powered by Microsoft’s Bing Maps and populated with pictures and stories that have been submitted by guests and travelers. Users can log in thru Facebook Connect, allowing them to "connect" their Facebook identity, friends and privacy to the site. The site’s new search optimization also allows visitors to search stories by activity and interest, including beach, romance, sports, business and spa, so that relevant stories are immediately accessed. Each story is additionally accompanied by hotel information, a booking portal and applicable special offers for effortless access to relevant information.

To explore the Sheraton brand’s global neighborhood, share your story or discover new destinations please visit the new

Sheraton Hotels, like all brands within Starwood’s robust portfolio, is proud to offer the Starwood Preferred Guest® program, which made headlines when it launched in 1999 with a breakthrough policy of no blackout dates on Free Night Awards. SPG® offers members the ability to redeem awards at more resorts, more luxury properties, more European hotels and more golf properties than any other hotel program.

Visit :

Source : TDA
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- Sanrio Hello Kitty Attraction First To Be Set-up In Southern Asia

Nusajaya: Themed Attractions And Resorts Sdn Bhd (TAR), A Wholly-owned Subsidiary Of Khazanah Nasional Berhad, Yesterday, 7 November 2009 Entered Into A Strategic Alliance With 5 Partners To Create The First Family Indoor Theme Park Featuring World-renowned And Popular Children’s Characters.

Once completed, the 60,000 sq. ft. indoor facility located in Nusajaya, one of the 5 flagship zones in Iskandar Malaysia, will comprise – The Little Big Club that is designed around HIT Entertainment's popular characters namely Thomas & Friends™, Bob the Builder™, Angelina Ballerina™; Barney & Friends™ and Pingu™; Sanrio Hello Kitty Attraction showcasing Hello Kitty and other Sanrio characters by Sanrio; and a themed family restaurant of popular local cartoonist, Lat. The indoor theme park is located in a complex that also offers a 300-room facility under the Traders brand by Shangri-la Hotels and Resorts and approximately 100,000 sq. ft. of retail space.

Tunku Dato’ Ahmad Burhanuddin, Chief Executive Officer / Managing Director of TAR, signed the agreements with Frank Foley, General Manager Asia, HIT Entertainment Limited for The Little Big Club; Makoto Sato, Managing Director of Sanrio Entertainment Co., Ltd and Managing Director of Sanrio Co., Ltd for Sanrio Hello Kitty Attraction; Madhu Rao, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts; and Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim, Chief Executive Officer / Managing Director of UEM Land Holdings Berhad. Tunku Ahmad Burhanuddin also signed a Heads of Agreement with Datuk Mohammed Nor Khalid, or more popularly known as Lat, the Managing Director of Kampung Boy Sdn Bhd, for the themed family restaurant. The signing was witnessed by Datuk Haji Abdul Ghani Othman, Johor Menteri Besar, Chye Kuok, Chairman of Kuok Brothers Sdn Bhd, Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, Managing Director of Khazanah Nasional Berhad and Harun Johari, Chief Executive Officer of Iskandar Regional Development Authority.

Tunku Dato’ Ahmad Burhanuddin in his speech said: “These partnerships are a landmark achievement for Malaysia, giving the much-needed boost for our leisure and tourism industry. The arrival of these strong global brands, who will share the same roof as Malaysian owned brands, marks a unique and first of its kind initiative in the region. Following the signing of Legoland Malaysia in December 2008, today's signing will further strengthen Iskandar Malaysia as a major tourist destination for families with children under 12."

"We are expecting approximately 400,000 visitors to the gated indoor theme park in the opening year, with a majority coming from Malaysia, Singapore and countries in the neighbouring region, particularly since the theme park is strategically located near the Second Link,” said Tunku Ahmad Burhanuddin.

The project, according to Tunku Ahmad Burhanuddin, has the capacity to further stimulate Johor’s economy and will benefit its people through the creation of over 1,000 job opportunities. “We want this indoor theme park to be more than just an attraction. With all the facilities that we are building, it will be a destination for families and friends to spend quality time and forge closer ties,” he further elaborated.

Mr. Jeff Dunn, President and CEO HIT Entertainment, commented: “Attractions are a significant part of HIT Entertainment’s business and Puteri Harbour provides an exciting opportunity for the company to launch its very first The Little Big Club in Asia. This is the next major milestone in the developmental journey of The Little Big Club brand, which we intend to expand further. Children across the globe love our brands and we hope that through The Little Big Club experience, which is both fun and educational, they can fully immerse themselves in the lives of their favourite characters - Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder, Angelina Ballerina, Barney & Friends and Pingu.”

Mr. K. Tsuji, Executive Vice President of Sanrio Co., Ltd. Said: “We are very excited to see Sanrio's first entertainment facility, the Sanrio Hello Kitty Attraction, in southern Asia. We are pleased to have TAR as our partner for this important project. Our theme park - Puroland in Japan is a place for kids to have their dreams come true and we believe the new facility in Puteri Harbour will carry on the same mission to entertain children from this region."

“This is a new phase for the Malaysian cartoon-art scene– the little Kampung Boy and friends joining the big gathering of popular children’s characters loved by many from all over the world,” enthused Datuk Mohammed Nor Khalid.

“The Traders brand has become a well-known brand in Malaysia since the opening of the Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur in 2006, a hotel that caters to smart business and leisure travelers. We are very experienced in managing hotels in integrated developments and are delighted to be working with TAR to establish Puteri Harbour as a key destination for leisure and business travellers in the area,” said Mr. Madhu Rao, managing director and chief executive officer of Shangri‑La Hotels and Resorts.

Encik Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim, CEO and Managing Director of UEM Land Holdings said: “We are excited about the proposed development as it is in line with UEM Land’s overall vision for Puteri Harbour. We expect that it will create commercial activities and spillover effects that will add further value to Puteri Harbour. This type of strategic development and alliance are key factors in realising UEM Land’s vision of developing Nusajaya into a regional city.”

Construction for the estimated RM350 million complex located at Puteri Harbour is expected to commence mid-2010, with completion expected at the end of 2012. The indoor theme park has 3 gated floors with the 2 umbrella brands, namely Sanrio Hello Kitty Attraction and The Little Big Club, taking centre-stage. A series of entertaining rides and other attractions will be available for those visiting Thomas & Friends on the upper floor. Lat’s themed family restaurant, on the ground floor will offer visitors a taste of Malaysia’s favourite and popular dishes. Other attractions at the theme park include interactive games, activities and play structures of the various characters.

About Themed Attractions and Resorts Sdn Bhd

Themed Attractions and Resorts Sdn Bhd or TAR, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional Berhad. It was incorporated in June 2009 to develop and operate themed attractions and resorts to enhance the leisure and tourism industry in Malaysia, with a special focus on families. TAR is currently managing two projects namely Kidzania which is located in Kuala Lumpur and the Family Indoor Theme Park located in Puteri Harbour, Johor.

About Khazanah Nasional Berhad

Khazanah is the investment holding arm of the Government of Malaysia entrusted to hold and manage the commercial assets of the Government and to undertake strategic investments. Khazanah was incorporated under the Companies Act 1965 on 3 September 1993 as a public limited company. Khazanah has a nine member board comprising representatives from the public and private sectors. YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, the Right Honorable Prime Minister of Malaysia is the Chairman of the Board.

Khazanah has stakes in more than 50 companies with assets valued in excess of USD25 billion. Khazanah is also the state agency responsible for strategic cross-border investments. These companies are involved in various sectors such as power, telecommunications, banking, automotive, airport management, infrastructure, property development, broadcasting, semiconductor, steel production, electronics, investment holding, research technology and venture capital.

About HIT Entertainment Limited

HIT Entertainment, owned by private equity investment group Apax Partners, is one of the world's leading independent children's entertainment producers and rights-owners. HIT's portfolio includes properties, such as Barney™, Bob the Builder™, Thomas & Friends™, Pingu™, Fireman Sam™, Angelina Ballerina™ and Rainbow Magic™. HIT represents Chapman Entertainment’s Fifi and the Flowertots™ and Roary the Racing Car™ in North America, as well as Wallace & Gromit™, Shaun the Sheep™, Timmy Time™ and Aardman Classics from Aardman Animations. HIT’s lines of business span television and video production, content distribution, publishing, consumer products licensing and live events and has operations in the UK, US, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan. HIT is a part-owner of US-based preschool channel, PBS KIDS SproutSM, and international preschool channel JimJam, (outside of the US, UK and China). For more information, visit

About Sanrio

In Spanish, “San” means sacred, and “Rio” means rivers. As the founder believes civilisation originated from rivers, he used “Sanrio” as the company name and developed a business based on the concept of social communication, to show his respect to human civilisation. Founded in 1960, the company made “communication” as its business objective. It’s main aim is to promote social communication, encouraging people to give fine gifts to their friends to strengthen their friendship."Small Gift, Big Smile" is the foundation of everything Sanrio did. We are proud to say we have been creating smiles for over 40 years. Sanrio believes that a gift is more than just a gift. A gift is a means of expressing our heartfelt feelings for others. An individual is able to successfully demonstrate their concern and love to the person receiving the gift. In the end, the gesture of giving gifts creates a “feel-good’ emotion for both the sender and receiver and puts a smile on everyone’s face. This principle is shown in all Sanrio activities; be it in designing a stationery set, theme park, retail store or an animated television series. Sanrio boutiques showcase the ultimate Sanrio collection to all.

About Kampung Boy Sdn Bhd

Kampung Boy Sdn Bhd has been producing Malaysian cartoon artworks for newspapers, comics, story books and TV animation since the 1980’s. It is the production house for cartoonist Lat, 58, who is popular for his “Kampung Boy” books and TV animation series that depict his simple life as a village boy. Lat’s cartoons transcend the differences of the multi-races in Malaysia and entertain people of all ages.

About Traders Hotels

Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts currently owns and/or manages 65 hotels under the Shangri-La and Traders brands, with a rooms inventory of over 28,000. Traders Hotels are designed to satisfy the needs of the fast growing mid-market travel segment by offering a wide range of facilities, and efficient, practical and friendly hospitality, at competitive rates. Traders Hotels are located in Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Changzhou, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Penang, Shenyang, Singapore and Yangon, with scheduled openings in Bangalore and Macau. The group has over 40 projects under development in Austria, Canada, mainland China, France, India, Macau, Philippines, Qatar, Seychelles, United Kingdom and the United States. For more information and reservations, please contact a travel professional or access the website at

About UEM Land Holdings Berhad

UEM Land Holdings Berhad is the flagship company for the real estate investment and development businesses of UEM Group and Khazanah Nasional Berhad. UEM Group is wholly-owned by Khazanah, the investment holding company of the Government of Malaysia.

UEM Land Holdings’ wholly-owned subsidiary UEM Land, is currently undertaking the development of Nusajaya, the key driver of Iskandar Malaysia, into a regional city with diverse catalysts developments to create and promote economic growth and development in the area and to meet various economic activities and market demands.


NAME: T. Buvanes
TEL: 014 2611 859

NAME:Jasmine Low
TEL:017-623 0288


Source : Bernama
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Pan Pacific KLIA Voted World's Leading Airport Hotel

Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur International Airport has been voted "Asia's Leading Airport Hotel" and "World's Leading Airport Hotel" for the second time by over 170,000 industry professionals in a global poll conducted by the World Travel Awards.

The poll this year saw the highest participation in awards' six-year history, with industry professionals casting their votes for what they considered to be the very best travel, tourism and hospitality products and services in various regions around the world.

"Our quest is to give our guests memorable hospitality experiences and conveniences an airport hotel can ever give," said Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur International Airport's executive assistant manager Sharmini Moganasundram.

"Doing it all with a passion for excellence and unbridled warmth and enthusiasm clearly sets us apart," she said in a statement on Monday.

The hotel has won a string of awards and accolades this year, including being named as "Best Airport Hotel in Asia" by Business Asia magazine.

Source : Bernama
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Hilton Worldwide Launches Most Comprehensive iPhone Applications

Hilton Worldwide announced today that it is launching the most comprehensive iPhone and iTouch applications in the lodging industry. The company unveiled the new applications across seven hotel brands including its Conrad, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn brands in the United States. The new applications have features that are a first for the hotel industry including a "Request Upon Arrival" service that enables a traveler to place an order for room service and have a meal in the guestroom upon arrival at the Hilton, Doubletree and Embassy Suites brands. The new applications also offer "e-check in," a feature that provides remote check-in up to 48 hours in advance.

The announcement comes as the industry is experiencing an increase in hotel reservations made on mobile devices. Hilton Worldwide reports a 59 percent increase in mobile revenue, during the third quarter of 2009 compared to the first quarter of 2009, generated primarily from the company's mobile-enabled website. The company's mobile revenue has increased every quarter in 2009.

"Our new iPhone and iTouch applications are like having a hotel concierge in your pocket 24 hours-a-day seven days-a-week. We are constantly working to anticipate our guests' needs and this is a great way for us to make the entire hotel experience more convenient," said Paul Brown, President of Global Brands and Commercial Services, Hilton Worldwide.

The Hilton and Doubletree brand's iPhone and iTouch applications will be available first, and the other brands launching applications during November and December 2009. The new applications enable guests to manage their hotel experience from the palm of their hand and provide the following features:

Search for hotels nearby via address, city, airport or even GPS mappingMake a new hotel reservation at any of Hilton Worldwide's 3,400 hotelsView, modify and cancel existing reservationsCheck-in online up to 48 hours in advance for gold and diamond members of the Hilton HHonors frequent-guest programOrder food and/or services to be available "upon arrival" at the Hilton, Doubletree Embassy Suites and brandsRedeem points and stays for members of the Hilton HHonors frequent-guest programCheck point balances for members of the Hilton HHonors frequent-guest program
The announcement comes after Hilton Worldwide has already enjoyed one of the most successful mobile optimized websites in the industry which was launched more than two years ago. In addition, the company has already launched an iPhone application for the Hilton brand in the United Kingdom. Additional markets are being evaluated for mobile applications with a focus on countries such as Germany and Japan that have high concentrations of people who use mobile devices.

Source : Hotels
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Monday, November 09, 2009

Malaysia Airlines Voted Asia's Leading Airline

Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier of Malaysia was voted "Asia's Leading Airline" by over 180,000 industry professionals in a global poll conducted by the World Travel Awards.

The poll this year had the highest participation in World Travel Awards' 16-year history, with industry professionals in over 160 countries casting their votes for what they consider to be the very best travel, tourism and hospitality products and services in Asia.

The national carrier's chairman, Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid said this award indicated that Malaysia Airlines' "5-star airline" concept is working.

"We are delighted with this recognition which is testament to the hard work of our employees. Our focus has always been on serving customers. Anchoring this is our commitment to continuous service improvement and delivery, with our customers' needs in mind," he said after the event Saturday night.

He said in achieving this, the airline collate the information from our customers' feedback from all touch points including internal and external surveys, reports from the crew after each flight, and through the customer relations unit.

"This recognition bears testament to the fact that the industry and travellers recognize Malaysia Airlines' brand of service delivery," he added.

Malaysia Airlines has won a string of awards and accolades in 2009. This year, for the 4th consecutive year since 2005, the airline have been accredited a "5-Star Airline" by Skytrax. It is one of only six airlines worldwide to be given this award.

Malaysia Airlines' cabin staff also won the accolade of "World's Best Cabin Staff" by Skytrax. The team has won this over six years, 2001-2004, 2007 and 2009 - the most for any airline.

The World Travel Awards were launched in 1993 to acknowledge and recognize excellence in the world's travel and tourism industry. The awards are regarded as the very highest achievement that a travel product could ever hope to receive.

Among the inherent principles under which all nominations are judged are consistent overall business performance and success; high levels of customer satisfaction; valuing personnel and expansion and development.

Votes are cast by travel professionals from 183,000 travel agencies, tour and transport companies and tourism organizations in over 160 countries across the globe.

Attended by senior executives from major travel companies, operators and destinations, WTA events are universally respected as providing established, top-level networking opportunities, regionally and globally.

Other winners from Malaysia includes Pan Pacific, KLIA for Asia's Leading Airport Hotel Award, Resorts World Genting for Asia's Leading Casino Resort Award and Asia's Leading Family Resort Award, Hilton Kuala Lumpur for Asia's Leading Design Hotel Award and Malaysia, Truly Asia for Asia's Leading Marketing Campaign.

Source : Bernama
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Tourism Minister Leads Delegation To The WTM

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen will lead the Malaysian delegation that will be participating in the 30th World Travel Market (WTM) from Nov 9 to 12 at the Excel Exhibition Centre, here.

At the event, Ng will also hold interviews and meetings with major tour operators and key tourism players in the United Kingdom (UK).

Ng would also host a cocktail reception for the key tourism players and will also launch the TrulyAsia.TV, an online video portal on Malaysia that can be accessed in multiple languages.

Malaysian Tourism Ambassador Datuk Seri Jean Todt, who is also president of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), and renowned shoemaker Datuk Jimmy Choo will also be present.

The Malaysian delegation comprises some 77 participants from 38 organisations including hotels and tour operators, airlines and state tourism boards from Penang, Selangor, Sabah, and Kuala Lumpur as well as the Langkawi Development Authority (LADA).

More than 190 countries are expected to be participated in the event.

Source : Bernama
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Malaysia a big Asian region winner at World Travel Awards

Malaysia swept seven Asian awards at the prestigious World Travel Awards 2009’s regional finals here on Sa­­turday.
Dubbed the “Oscars” of the global tourism industry, the awards are recognised as the highest accolade within the travel industry.
Malaysia Airlines bagged Asia’s Leading Airline award, while Resorts World Genting scooped Asia’s Leading Family Resort and Asia’s Leading Casino Resort titles.
Tourism Malaysia’s “Malaysia: Truly Asia” tagline was also voted Asia’s leading marketing campaign at the star-studded function in Grosvenor House, a JW Marriot Hotel, in London’s Mayfair.
All smiles: MAS regional manager for United Kingdom and Ireland Syed Abdillah Syed Aziz (second from left) and Dr Munir (third from left) posing with their awards after the ceremony in London on Saturday. With them are (from left) Lilis Surianty, Huong, Yvonne Kow and Miss China Yu Sheng.
Hilton Kuala Lumpur took home two titles — for Asia’s Leading City Hotel and Asia’s Leading Design Hotel — while Asia’s Leading Airport Hotel award went to Pan-Pacific Kuala Lumpur International Airport Hotel.
MAS chairman Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid and Genting Malaysia Berhad president and chief operating officer Datuk Lee Choong Yan received their awards from Miss Vietnam/ Miss World 2009 contestant Huong Giang.
Dr Majid said the recognition bore testament that the global industry and travellers recognised the national carrier’s brand of service delivery.
“Our focus has always been on serving customers, with a commitment towards continuous service, improvement and delivery,” he said.
“I am also confident these awards will help Malaysia enhance its reputation in the tourism industry and attract more visitors to our resort and the country,” he added.
Regional awards were also presented to winners in the Australasia and Indian Ocean as well as the Caribbean and South America regions.
In the category of individual countries, Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur was voted Malaysia’s Leading Hotel; Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia’s Leading Busi­­­­­­­ness Hotel); Sheraton Langkawi Resort (Malay­sia’s Leading Resort) and Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa in Penang (Malaysia’s Leading Spa Resort).
The event was attended by more than 1,000 senior management and decision-makers from the global travel and tourism industry.

Source : STAR
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