Travel Weekly's Technology E-letter: Oct. 4, 2007

BBC WORLDWIDE, the British Broadcasting Corp.s commercial arm, acquired online travel guide publisher Lonely Planet. The guide publisher, with operations in Australia, the U.K. and the U.S., offers first-hand accounts of often off-the-beaten-track locales and properties. In addition to its hundreds of hotel road-testers, for example, Lonely Planet offers travel videos, maps and community features. Lonely Planet founders Maureen Wheeler and Tony Wheeler retain a 25% stake in the company. The BBC purchase is viewed as an effort by the media company to expand its presence Down Under. In a joint press release, the BBC and Lonely Planet said the acquisition will build the Lonely Planet franchise around the world.

GALILEO-CONNECTED AGENCIES will get photos and rich-media content on their desktops as the GDS penned a content deal with VFM Interactive. The deal comes several weeks after Galileos Travelport acquired Worldspan, which has offered its agencies VFM property images and video since 2005. The new Galileo pact with VFM, which also offers 360-degree virtual tours and Flash presentations, will benefit agencies as well as hoteliers, who will be able to upload up to 10 photos per property for free. VFM has a wide array of content distribution partners, including Travelports Orbitz as well as Priceline, TripAdvisor and American Airlines.

JETBLUE TEAMED WITH LIVETV to offer cashless, in-flight purchases beginning Nov. 1. The system will be mandatory as the airline will cease accepting cash payments for in-flight purchases such as cocktails. Using secure, handheld devices from LiveTV, JetBlue crews will begin accepting only credit or debit cards. LiveTV is a JetBlue subsidiary, offering in-flight entertainment in about 500 aircraft for several carriers. The JetBlue move appears to be part of an emerging trend with airlines serving the U.S. market. Newly launched Virgin America is cashless, and in September American conducted a three-week test of credit- or debit card-only purchases on flights departing from San Francisco.

YAPTA introduced a service where consumers can forward e-ticket flight confirmations from Yapta partner airlines and then receive e-mail notifications when the fare drops and they are eligible for cash vouchers or refunds. Users also have the option of registering with Yapta and including flight codes and flight information to receive the same e-mail notifications. The tracking begins automatically, and results are posted as soon as a fare changes. Yapta uses an advertising business model and has relationships with 10 airlines.

Technology Editor: Dennis Schaal

Phone: (201) 902-1904

[email protected]

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