DigiTravel and partners launch hotel programme analysis tool


DigiTravel Consulting, Business Travel Performance
Automation and About Partners Luxury Brands Collection have joined forces to
create a new tool to assess corporate hotel programmes and improve upon the
annual hotel request-for-proposal process, DigiTravel announced.

Dubbed Hotel Program Opportunity Analysis, the service is
available for free globally.

“The Opportunity Analysis has been carefully designed
by real industry experience to outline value and savings for companies and
hotels without going through the cumbersome RFP process every year, driving
continuous improvement, innovative services and smarter sourcing,” said
DigiTravel managing partner Susan Lichtenstein in a statement.

Lichtenstein explained in an email how it works; after a
company fills out a questionnaire on the DigiTravel website, the three partners
use their expertise along with technology, including the BTP Index, to review
the data and present back to the company opportunities in the area of savings,
cost to manage, booking channels, sourcing, benchmarking, process optimisation
and procurement.

“There’s a lot of confusion in hotel procurement right
now,” said BTP CEO Bruce Yoxsimer in a statement. “Unless you really
have your arms around your position as a buyer, it’s very difficult to build a
programme that supports your goals as an organisation. Our goal as partners is
to provide a clear path forward for companies as travel ramps back up.
Data-driven analytics, automation of manual processes and continuous sourcing
is the key.”

DigiTravel specialises in the business travel market.
Newcomer BTP partnered with Traxo earlier in 2021 to create a hotel programme
automation and performance platform to analyse both in-channel and off-channel
hotel bookings. About Partners represents independent hotels and serviced
apartments and formed an alliance with DigiTravel in November 2020.



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ExpressVPN is the must-have digital survival tool you need when away from home


Did you know the average American spends more than 24 hours each week online? That is a huge chunk of time.

If you’re one of the many people who have multiple devices regularly accessing the internet, you probably know you need a secure connection to protect sensitive data. The best way to do this is with a virtual private network or VPN.

But VPNs aren’t just important for protecting your home IP address. Here’s why Kim won’t ever leave home without ExpressVPN.

No more sketchy public Wi-Fi hotspots

Using public Wi-Fi hotspots is a risky decision no matter where you go and the potential consequences can be devastating. It doesn’t make a difference if you are staying at a 5-star luxury hotel or having lunch at your neighborhood retro diner, you’re risking being victimized by cyberattackers.

By setting up a fake Wi-Fi access point or even just sitting nearby, cybercriminals can intercept your connection and access your most important credentials and private data. You can feel secure logging into your banking websites and everything else with ExpressVPN. Your data stays private and secure.

Keep data private on all of your devices

An ExpressVPN subscription comes with easy to install apps for all of your devices. You can protect your PC, Mac, iPhone, Android and more.

You can install the app on an unlimited number of devices and have up to five devices simultaneously connected at one time on one account. That means you can protect your whole family when you’re on the go.

It’s quick and easy to switch between devices. Simply disconnect one device to connect another.

Unrestricted access to all of your favorite content

After a long day of sightseeing, sometimes all you want to do is head back to your hotel room, pull up YouTube on your laptop and watch the latest video from your favorite YouTube cooking channel. You type in your favorite YouTuber’s URL only to get a cryptic error in another language and that’s when you discover that your favorite YouTuber’s channel is blocked in some countries.

Watch what you want without any restrictions. With ExpressVPN you can gain unrestrictive access to censored sites and services allowing you to easily post, share and view all your favorite videos at fast speeds with no throttling.

Did you also know that in some countries with internet censorship popular messenger apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp? Did you plan to post a status update to share with family and friends but can’t seem to connect to Facebook online? With ExpressVPN, you can connect with loved ones and stream all your videos whenever you want.

From traveling across the globe to just going down the street to your favorite coffee shop, your private data is secured and protected with ExpressVPN.

Get the only VPN service that Kim uses on all your digital devices today: ExpressVPN. Get three months free when you sign up for one year at ExpressVPN.com/Kim.



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business trip

Amadeus Heath Verification Tool Integrates IBM Digital Passport


The IBM Digital Health Pass has been integrated into Amadeus’ Traveler ID for Safe Travel mobile health verification solution, enabling passengers to load and validate their Covid-19-related health and vaccination credentials during online flight check-in, according to the companies.

During the online check-in process, Traveler ID for Safe Travel checks the requirements for that particular trip against destination country regulations and prompts passengers to generate a Covid-19 digital credential by scanning paper vaccination or negative test documents or uploading a digital version. These credentials then are authenticated by IBM Digital Health Pass using data encryption and blockchain, which ensures no personal health information is stored by the airline, IBM or Amadeus. The airline receives only a status confirming the passenger is ready to fly, Amadeus said. 

Launched earlier this year, Traveler ID for Safe Travel also integrates with other digital health passports including CommonPass and the ICC AOKpass, according to Amadeus.



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CDC tool shows COVID risk when traveling abroad


An online tool by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows COVID-19 risk levels for countries across the world. Here are nations with the highest and the lowest risk levels. 

An online tool by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows COVID-19 risk levels for countries across the world. Here are nations with the highest and the lowest risk levels. 

jwall@newsobserver.com

Travel plans are back on for many seeking adventures abroad after the pandemic — but experts warn some countries are safer than others when assessing your COVID-19 risk.

An online tool by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers recommendations, or Travel Health Notices, alerting travelers to health and safety threats across the globe. The 4-level system ranks destinations based on reported COVID-19 data.

Level 1 is the lowest coronavirus risk level, while nations in the Level 4 category have a “very high” risk of coronavirus, the CDC said.

“CDC uses COVID-19 data reported by the World Health Organization and other official sources to make determinations about [Travel Health Notice] levels,” according to the agency’s website. “If a destination does not provide data, their THN level is designated as ‘unknown’ and travelers are advised to follow THN Level 4 recommendations.”

Thresholds are also based on the total coronavirus cases and incidence rates in each country.

So what’s your COVID risk when traveling abroad? It depends where you’re going.

Level 1: Low level of COVID-19

Travelers are encouraged to get the vaccine before visiting these destinations. They include:

  • Anguilla
  • Australia
  • Barbados
  • Bermuda
  • Cayman Islands
  • China
  • Curaçao
  • Dominica
  • Ghana
  • Greenland
  • Grenada
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • New Zealand
  • Nigeria

Level 4: Very high level of COVID-19

Travelers should avoid unnecessary travel to these destinations. They include:

  • Argentina
  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Fiji
  • French Guiana
  • Haiti
  • Liberia
  • Madagascar
  • The Netherlands
  • Panama
  • Saudi Arabia
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom

While abroad, the CDC encourages travelers to continue to continue mask wearing, social distancing and frequent hand washing. Also, it’s important to remember that all air passengers, including U.S. citizens, must have a negative COVID-19 test before boarding a flight back to the U.S.

Tanasia is a national Real-Time reporter based in Atlanta covering Georgia, Mississippi and the southeastern U.S. She also covers retail and consumer news. She’s an alumna of Kennesaw State University and joined McClatchy in 2020.





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Spain launches new visitor information tool | News


Turespaña has launched a new tool within its Travel Safe microsite for international tourists wishing to travel to Spain.

The new tool allows holidaymakers to consult Covid-19 travel restrictions to Spain as well as entry and exit requirements from their respective countries.

Travel Safe features a continually updated information system on Covid-19 travel restrictions, meaning all the necessary information for planning a trip from 50 countries is readily available.

The objective of this initiative is to help travellers organise their trip to Spain in a safe manner with all the information available in relation to Covid-19 restrictions, such as PCR tests and quarantines, as well as other prevention measures and regulations before, during and after the trip.

The system is available in Spanish, English, French and German.

Tourists planning a trip to Spain will be able to find out the exit requirements from their country of origin, the entry requirements to Spain, the general measures that exist in Spain, and the requirements to return to their country of origin.

Detailed information on the specific measures in force in each autonomous community is also available.





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business trip

United Adds New Validation Capabilities to Travel-Ready Center Tool


United Airlines has added features to its Travel-Ready Center tool, with which travelers can validate that they are meeting destination entry requirements, the carrier announced.

Travelers now can validate such requirements as public health locator forms and other transit-entry forms as well as hotel accommodation requirements and QR codes from local governments through the tool, which is available through United’s app and website. Passengers now also can upload their passport and vaccine record into the app.

United intends for the tool to cut down on in-airport verifications in which agents need to manually verify various documents or Covid-19 test results. Upon its launch earlier this year, United already allowed passengers to upload Covid-19 testing information for verification.

The carrier later plans to add capabilities of video chat with United agents as well as enabling passengers to make special requests, such as service animal accommodation, through the tool.



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business trip

TAMS to Launch Travel Program Assessment Tool


The Travel and Meetings Society plans to release on Tuesday a free technology tool designed for travel managers to assess their end-to-end set-ups and “identify where specific strengths and/or gaps exist,” the organization told BTN. 

The tool takes the form of a downloadable Excel worksheet that allows users to select two paths: a broad assessment that includes about 30 questions across 10 categories, or a more comprehensive one, with an additional 172 questions across five more categories, said airShopRQ executive director Jeremy Jameson, who worked with TAMS on building the product. 

Users can focus on their company’s priorities, and the workbook allows for geographical designations and distribution of weighted scores, depending on how the travel program is set up, Jameson said. Users first identify their program priorities, then can set geographic regions and rank them by size. Users also can elect to have scores apply globally or only to certain geographies. 

“The tool is cumulative, so if a corporate travel manager started with the high-level assessment, then decided to do the comprehensive one, their initial answers will be remembered,” Jameson said. “It’s highly flexible.” 

Both the light and comprehensive options include questions in 10 categories: business intelligence tools, connection platforms, direct connections, duty of care, end-traveler booking interface, expense management, health and safety, payment methods, physical security and pre-trip approval. The comprehensive version of the tool includes five additional categories: content aggregators for air, car and hotel; human resources information systems; passports and visas; sustainability and tracking; and traveler on-trip communications.

Jameson estimated that completing a high-level assessment within a single geography should take about 30 minutes. Once complete, results will show in charts with scores by geography and by category. “A corporate travel manager can compare how their geographical regions are performing in terms of technologies and integrations, and they can see by category where they need to be focusing a bit more in order to get the scores as high as possible,” Jameson said. The tool also comes with an instruction tab.

The development process started with input across the TAMS leadership team, totaling about 30 people. A core team of five to six people helped with prioritization, including which questions to include, Jameson said. He added that 100 additional questions were cut from the final product, and TAMS conducted a beta test with five corporate travel managers for their overall feedback, which also helped to determine those 30 questions that are in the high-level assessment.



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An Expedia Group tool will give travelers the latest on travel rules: Travel Weekly


Expedia Group has introduced a consumer-facing tool that tracks current travel restrictions around the world, which it has named the Covid-19 Travel Advisor.

The tool is powered by Sherpa, a company that specializes in travel identification requirements. Sherpa also has a Covid-19-related product that provides data on testing and quarantine requirements.

The Covid-19 Advisor is available on Expedia Group brands Expedia, Hotels.com, ebookers, Orbitz, Travelocity, Vrbo and Wotif. Users input the country they are traveling from, the country they are traveling to and their departure date; the tool then returns information on restrictions, quarantine requirements and necessary health documents for both their destination country and their home country upon return.

Expedia Group has piloted the tool since last winter, and more than 1.6 travelers have used it. The Covid-19 Advisor has sent around 13 million pieces of communication to travelers using email, push notifications and SMS.

Expedia said it hopes the tool will help restore traveler confidence. Evidence points to increased demand: The OTA giant said in March there were more than 1.7 million clicks across its core brand, a 97% increase over February.

“Our goal is to reduce friction for travelers, and also further support our travel partners across lodging, air, car and cruise by removing the time-heavy task of managing individual traveler queries about restrictions and travel requirements for each destination,” Cyril Ranque, president of the Travel Partners Group at Expedia Group, said in a statement. “It’s another step in the right direction of connecting the right supply with the right demand, at the right time.”



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Talontag No Touch Tool Lets You Never Touch Anything Ever Again


With recreational travel a thing of the past (but hopefully will return in the near future), many travel-oriented companies have had to come up with new ways to stay afloat. Talonport, maker of stylish travel tags and other accessories, has launched the Talontag. It’s a “flip out design contactless door opener keychain safe touch tool.”

It’s actually a fairly clever idea. I’ve seen countless “safe touch tools” that are pretty worthless. All they do is transfer the virus from a potentially-infected surface to wherever you put the tool when you’re done (pocket, purse, etc). The Talontag is the first I’ve seen that is smart enough to enclose the business bits inside a case.

Flip

Since the start of the pandemic there’s been a deluge of companies selling cheap metal and plastic hooks so you don’t have to touch potentially-contaminated surfaces. They’re all fairly useless, as covered in the Wirecutter’s You Don’t Need That Brass Touch Tool You Saw on Instagram article (full disclosure, I’m an editor at Wirecutter, though I didn’t work on that story).

There are two main issues. The first is that while copper and brass, the usual materials of the hooks, are technically antimicrobial, it takes several hours to kill viruses and bacteria. As in, it’s not instant. So if the tool touches something with the virus, you’re just going to transfer that to a place you might not think is contaminated. At least when you’re using your hands you’ll know not to touch your face (hopefully) because your hands are gross. Use a tool, put that tool in your pocket, and now your pocket has potentially become a source of infection when you think you’re in the clear because you didn’t touch the potentially-infected surface.

Which brings is back to the Talonport Talontag No Touch Tool.

The tool, as you can see in the pictures, encloses the brass hook portion inside a stylish metal case. You flip it out for use and flip it back when done, all without touching the potentially-contaminated end. It can hook doors and with its soft tip interact with any kind of button or screen. Most of the edges of the aluminum case are curved to make it pocket friendly, while one is just sharp enough to help you open packages.

Being a travel tag company, there’s one other aspect. You can register with Talonport and if you ever lose the No Touch Tool, and any attached keys on the keyring, the person who finds it can enter a code and you’ll be notified. That’s a nice touch (pun intended).

Still Wash Your Hands

This puts another layer between you and a potentially-contaminated surface but it is not a magical shield. You should still keep your hands away from your face, and wash them often (and wear a mask!). The No Touch Tool is just another small piece in an overall system of protection.

Is it for everyone? No, but I can see it giving a little extra piece of mind for those of us who could be severely affected by COVID.

After a successful Kickstarter, the No Touch Tool is available on their website now and will eventually be on Amazon as well.

Talontag No Touch Tool: $32

Talonport.com



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