29 December 2007

MaxJet goes bust - RIP

Maxjet filed for bankruptcy as it failed to juggle with increasing fuel costs and competition from specialist and main carriers. The all-business-class airline that was flying out of Standsted is no more.

Goes to show that innovative ideas and cheap prices are not enough to keep you afloat. Sound business decision making costs at an absolute minimum are the way forward in the airline business.

The two companies benefiting from MaxJet's fall are EOS and Silverjet that are still exploring the business class only niche.

23 December 2007

Berlin... here we come!

Located in the geographical centre of a fast-growing Europe and consisting the gateway between West and East, Berlin has been a famous holiday destination for Europeans and not only. Millions of people take advantage of the strategic position of the city and plan weekend escapes aiming mainly at recreation and relaxation. Besides, the city hides a surprisingly rich historic background that not many people are aware of and get there to have a better look.

Love Parade adds popularity to the capital every single year. Last year only, over one million people of every age flocked to the capital in masses to attend the big event. I was there that day and despite the fact that Germans are not big fans of english language, floating love won any potential communication matters.

If you wonder about the cost of reaching Berlin, this is another advantage of the capital's position. An easy-accessible destination from most european countries, with plenty of competition making it a cheap option with airline companies. Having Berlin in mind, British Airways is a good example of such a company.

One month ago I visited Berlin once again flying with BA and i got impressed by the high-quality service combined with the relatively low cost for such a good service.

So, in love or not... Berlin itself makes the visit worthwhile!

21 December 2007

Holidays in Cyprus, 10 things you need to know

Cyprus is a highly sought after travel destination in the mediterranean. People flock to the island for over 8 months a year since the weather is very mild during spring and autumn and can get very warm in the summer. Perfect conditions for a summer holiday, but if you are not into the 30-40 celcious you can visit outside the main period (June-Aug) and save some money too!

BookCyprus.com does exactly what it says on the tin. It allows you to book your holidays including hotels, car hire, airport transfers and tours.

They also have a very cool feature to prepare your own holiday package including hotel nights, car hire and the transfer from and to the airport. It's called 'Build your package' and it is a travel shopping basket for different requirements.

14 September 2007

Silverjet's new aircraft and second flight service

The ever growing business class airline Silverjet has just brought a third aircraft in service to go with the addition of their second evening flight between London and New York.

There are also wild rumours going around regarding a second destination, however people can only speculate as to where this will be.
Recent market talk has also linked Silverjet with other airlines that are potentially interested in buying shares as business class flying is taking off as a business model with the likes of BA and Virgin Atlantic promising to launch similar services.

11 September 2007

Activities, experiences and adventures from Isango!

The online travel space is highly congested and fiercely competitive. In order therefore to make a real mark you need to think out of the box, innovating in terms of a business proposition as well as a consumer offering.
One of the few websites that manage to do just that, is up-and-coming Isango!.
The obvious difference and competitive advantage that Isango! has over others is a strict focus on activities, experiences, adventures, sightseeing and other must-do components of your holidays.
At the heart of the offering lies a wide (perhaps the widest) selection of such activities online. A key component is the low cost with no added fees, as Isango! can afford to drive cost down with its special partnerships with the likes of Ryanair and Lycos.
If you are travelling to Brazil, the USA, Russia or anywhere else for that matter you are unlikely to find more diverse activities from snorkelling, trekking, indigenous holidays to romantic retreats.

There are no hidden costs and Isango! is clear and transparent about the way it's doing business which is a breath of fresh air in the travel industry.

Don't forget to check out the fantastic deals on the lowest possible prices.
More at Isango.com

10 September 2007

Things you need to know about the Cayman Islands

If you have been in the UK for the whole summer you will be starving for some holidays in an exotic and relaxing location. If you browse the internet you will come across many destinations but rarely you should come across a country with such beauty and diversity.

Booking a holiday in such a highly sought after destination was never an easy job with the large suppliers offering standard packages and the small ones not enough information online.

In an effort to simplify efforts and offer the option to compare prices as well as complete information about the destination the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism has launched the Cayman Islands price comparison site. Apart from the straightforward option to compare prices for flights and accommodation you can find visa requirements and information about key activities such as diving and weddings.

So now holidays in the western Caribbean Sea, on the islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman have never been easier to book.

Top tips:

Swim and sunbathe in the Seven Mile Beach

Go scuba diving, one of the best locations in the world

Visit Hell (not the real one, a group of short, black, limestone formations in the town of West Bay

05 July 2007

What is the best London airport?

There is much discussion currently regarding the best London airport. Until recently most people claimed that Heathrow was the most accessible and convenient. But what are the factors that should play a big part in the overall scoring?
  • Accessibility
  • Usability
  • Features
  • Shops
  • Check-in times
  • Take off and landing times

Have a closer look at the list and you will realise that Heathrow fails most of the above. In terms of accessibility it might have more connections however getting fast to Heathrow all depends on where you live in London. We have all experienced the long queues, the despair due to cancelled flights, security alert chaos and major difficulty getting from A to B, anywhere in the airport. Also if you land you will notice that it takes so long to get off the plane due to long and congested landing strips. Will Terminal 5 end all that? I doubt it and so does the guy that filmed this video:

Living in the South East part of town my favourite used to be Gatwick. It has a great train service running from London Bridge and once you get there things are pretty simple. You rarely have to wait (unless its summer) and you can usually check in and out with no major problems. Its trickier to get there from other parts of London though and the fast service is not enough.

City Airport is a good all rounder for business travel. Relatively close to the city (not as close as it appears on the map) but with very limited amount of flights and lots of small aircraft making the runway busy at times.

Luton airport I thought very little off having flown once in the past. Seemed quite far away from everything but only if you live in the deep south. Since moving to North London I realised that its closer to me than any other airport. Its also less busy which makes for a far more relaxing experience. It has an impressive list of destinations and its easy to get to from the City (Thameslink, King's Cross, Farringdon, City Thameslink, Blackfriars, London Bridge). EasyJet has made it very popular and more airlines are adding to the list of flying exclussively from there. Not bad.

Last but not least comes Stanstead airport. Although Stanstead is relatively small and compact it still gets very busy. It also might be the most difficult airport to get to with a limited service from Liverpool street. Takes ages to get to and from and is therefore very inconvenient.

Whichever airport you choose you will face waiting times and small delays however choosing the one that is best for your location, transport links and check-in times can save a lot of time and needless frustration for your holidays or business travel.

Would love to hear your thoughts on Heathrow.

Happy flying!

04 June 2007

Car rental services in Europe

Car rentals have always been a driving force behind the travel industry. Having the ability to move freely on your holidays revolutionised the travellers life and incentivised many companies to facilitate this need. Auto Europe is a specialist in searching for and booking car rentals in Europe. The company has 50 years experience in the field and it is unlikely you will find someone with more credentials to book your car hire from. Having said that, the website does not stop there. You can now book special deals, flights, hotels, train fares and cruises. Surprisingly the website also features cellular satellite phones and accessories.

There is an overall business to business feel to the website, perhaps because of the business format in the past but that should not stop anyone using it for their normal travel requirements.
I was particularly impressed by the booking engines speed and the overall site functionality.
Auto Europe is not due a design award but the simple and functional design helps the user to find what they are looking for fast and easy.

Having tried the car hire booking engine I have to admit that the choice and level of detail had me fully satisfied.

Auto Europe

30 May 2007

Web 2.0 and the travel industry

When you are usually in a highly saturated and old-fashioned industry expect everything else to be the same.
Travel has undergone phenomenal changes in the last 10 years with the rise of Expedia, Lastminute.com and many other smaller independent companies that drove the massive change in bookings and distribution through the internet.

The big players were very slow to follow and had to buy their way in, to play online, as there was very little they understood and even less they understand today.

This is perhaps the only reason why the online travel industry is lacking still behind in three major areas:

- Content
- User participation
- Imagery

Content seems to be an unwanted commodity in the travel industry. If it wasn't for search marketing the only content available would be the directions to the hotel.
Most businesses borrow content from well known providers such as Lonely Planet.

User participation is also part of the fear factor in the industry. Only recently reviews have been encouraged by certain websites and the rest followed by buying those reviews (Tripadvisor). Such is the lack of initiative on this front by all the major players that the whole industry stinks of a hotel room that hasn't been refurbished for 30 years.

In a heavy cost-cutting environment it is not only the price that is discounted but also the experience.

Endless challenges for the travel boys and girls worldwide and another major revamp of their marketing as Web 2.0 heavily kicks in. How scary must it be that the little guy from Bronx can scream and shout about his crappy hotel visit in Mexico. A few years back he would be banging his head on the industry's wall.

Bring on the margaritas Pablo!

24 May 2007

Booking hotels in Europe

Before the invasion of the Internet, hotel bookings used to be a nightmare for travellers worldwide. While things have majorly improved it can still be difficult to book and manage your itinerary. Eurobookings are committed to offering you easy European hotel bookings in a pleasant, efficient and cost-effective fashion.

However Eurobookings have more aces up their sleeves. Apart from the customer friendly attitude and the great selection of hotels around Europe, they also offer very competitive rates with no reservation fees, no cancellation fee and absolutely no payment in advance. To me this sounds like a very good deal, since most hotels will tie you in and then refuse to refund if something goes wrong. So you cannot expect more from a booking website if you are looking for peace of mind, making sure that you are being taken care of, before you part with hard-earned money.

The website is suitably translated into 12 European languages and there is an interactive map of Europe where you can pick your location as well as a great travel guide. Their things to do section, covers many locations and speciality travel opportunities. Last but not least you can now book car rentals for easier access to attractions.

More from Eurobookings.

Paid review

11 May 2007

TUI AG shares fall sharply

Europe's largest travel and shipping company TUI AG has had a sharp drop in market value. The 2.4% drop is mainly attributed to the shipping arm of the company and not the travel business which perfomed better than last year reaching 2.59 billion Euros.

TUI AG is still planning a restructure of its travel business, possibly merging it with British First Choice Holidays Plc.

10 May 2007

Travel like the Chinese

Chinese tourists According to studies by the the Pacific Asia Tourism Association (PATA) and China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), China has become the largest outbound travel market in Asia.

10% more Chinese have travelled abroad this year bringing the total to almost 35 million.

China is widely expected to become the fourth largest tourist source country by 2020 with over 100 million Chinese travelling abroad every year.

GDP growth is fuelling this trend which is expected to shake things up in the travel industry in the region as well as across the globe.

Many international travel companies around the world have actively started to promote their products and services to the Chinese as the potential is huge both for growth and further expansion.

09 May 2007

Amadeus market share soars ahead

Amadeus booking engineAmadeus, the established travel technology partner for providers, sellers, and buyers provides distribution, IT and point of sale solutions for the fast changing travel industry.

The company has been reported to grow its online travel agency market share to over 64% in 2006. The results come after new agency wins in Western Europe and Asia Pacific. In India alone, Amadeus has won over 4 major travel agencies.

The low fare search solutions are the flagship product of the company driving growth in a more often than not turbulent market place. Despite recent troubles and price wars the company has survived and grown by adapting new technologies and listening to its customers needs.

Could many companies in travel be proud of paying so much attention to their customer base?

04 May 2007

Travelling to Malaysia

Malaysia cityMalaysia has long been a holiday hotspot for world travellers. The success of the country as a top class travel destination stems from the combination of many factors.

The vibrant urban centres including the world famous Kuala Lumpur and George Town offer a fantastic opportunity to get acquainted with the culture, a series of exotic islands with dreamy white sand beaches such as Langkawi and Penang as well as its astonishing national parks for the nature lovers. Beach in Malaysia

With flights starting from £495 Malaysia has become accessible to a wider audience with the result of local amenities growing to accommodate different needs and tastes.

The beauty of the country is that apart from the 5 star hotels and resorts you can also go backpacking affordably and discover places where nature and local culture have been little affected by tourism over the years.

Malaysia's tropical forestsThis combination is making for a very attractive destination that you have to include in your travel plans sometime in the near future.

One more reason to visit in 2007 is that Malaysia is celebrating 50 years of independence with extra festivities all year round.

Organise tours with Isango Malaysia.
To book airfares and hotels visit Malaysia Travel Market.
For custom holiday deals try Malaysia Experience.
To find out more information about the latest tourism initiatives visit Tourism Malaysia.

06 March 2007

Who else wants low cruise rates?

Going on cruises was always perceived as an expensive travel choice that only few can afford. Things have changed considerably though the last 20 years with more affordable packages and a broader section of the public, holidaying on a ship.

Direct Line Cruises offer everything around crusing, from luxury sailings to Bermuda to affordable trips to Hawai, there is something for everyone. The website offers a great selection of destinations for 7 or 14 nights, including special arrangements. There is plenty of information and the availability search is fast enough to keep you interested. The ship reviews and industry news on offer make you feel safer about making the right choice before you part with your money.

The newly added blog is a fantastic addition offering further insight to cruise packages and if you try the comments, the staff will be happy to interact with you.

The only negative about the experience is the website design. The homepage is congested with too much text and the navigation not consistent on every page. Too many bright colors for my liking. Also when looking for availability it is not clear if you found a room or not so some form of confirmation on the page would be very useful.

Don't let this put you off though. There are some fantastic deals on the site, not to be missed. There are regular updates and plenty of availability so give it a go. If you cannot find what you are looking for I suggest emailing the owners.

19 January 2007

London airports to SKG

A recent business relationship has led me to travel back and forth several times from London to the city of Thessaloniki in Greece. I flew with different airlines, several times in a year using different airports and routes with direct and flights with up to two stops.

I will therefore be making a comparison based on service, reliability, staff friendliness and punctuality. The 4 airlines under review will be Chech Airlines, , BA, Alitalia and Olympic Airways.

Chech Airlines

Nothing particularly exciting about flying with Chech airlines. However there is nothing very negative about their services too. A 15 minute delay taking off was not the end of the world. The staff was friendly and offered a small sandwich between London and Prague and a mini meal between Prague and Thessaloniki. Overall an average experience for a budget price which to me means value for money.

British Airways

I find BA staff rude and overpaid. Nothing else explains the look on their faces when you dare ask for a glass of water mid-flight (just before their on-route siesta).
BA is reliable though, plane left on time from Heathrow and the flight was quick and uneventfull, which for me is always good. The food was crap and if you don't stuff your face before the flight, be prepared to suffer. Overall mid-budget direct flight price for an average service. Not bad.


The Alitalia flight was 35 minutes late to take off. The staff were rude and looking very tired (heavy night out or overworked, frankly I don't care). Interesting take on food provision. Since the flight has a stopover Alitalia decided to serve a bread and ham sandwich (no mayo, butter or anything else). On the way from Italy to SKG they decided to serve...a muffin. See Alitalia thinks that since there are two flights, split into 1.5h and 2h they need not to provide a meal. The corporate thinking behind this is that despite the fact that people are flying for almost 4 hours (stopover included) and might be starving there is no need to spend extra cash on more food. Nice idea. So apart from the delay, the rude staff, the crap food and some people crying after realising that their luggage is never coming back it was a great experience. My advice, only go with Alitalia if they pay you to fly with them.

Olympic Airways

My Greek friends always boasted about Olympic Airways but then again you would expect them to. So after my Alitalia flight I decided to give them a go. At £150+ the normal prices I thought they were pricey, but still went ahead. From the moment I got on the plane though I knew what I was paying for. The staff were so friendly, always helpful and going the extra mile. Space on the plane was enough to stretch your legs and relax with the head rest. The food was a traditional dish, turkey with chestnut rice, potatoes and gravy, a salad and some very cool sweets. The flight was 20 minutes late to take off but arrived on time. People with kids were catered for and sat away from other passengers. This is not a requirement for me but a great thing to do for all when there are some empty seats on the plane. Overall you have to try Olympic and finally understand why they are not making lots of money. They prefer to offer a great service.