2013-09-24 TravelTech News Review

Online Travel Industry

  1. Why CheapOair Is Sticking With Flights While Booking Peers Chase Hotels – Skift
    Not long ago a very frequent flyer told me that he usually checks CheapOair first before any other OTA because they often really to have cheaper flights.
    “[Founder and CEO Sam Jain] argues that a single-minded focus on, and investments in, selling flights can make for a very strong business as carriers are really still in the beginning stages of unbundling their preferred seats, early boarding options, onboard Wi-Fi, and other ancillary services, and need help selling them to a wider audience.”
  2. CheapoAir leaps into leading trio spots – Top US travel websites, August 2013 – Tnooz
    While other OTAs have pursued lodging profits, CheapOAir has been increasing its share of flight. “CheapOAir has leapfrogged over Travelocity and Hotwire to become the third most popular agency website in the US.” I think this is because CheapOAir sometimes does have cheaper flights than its competition. They might be restricted fares, with fewer or no frequent flyer earnings, but the bottom line is what matters for many travelers.
  3. Groupon handpicks SideTour for tours and activities play
    Groupon continues to round out its travel portfolio with another acquisition.
  4. Asian travel brands bank on mobile as bookings soar
    Ctrip and eLong moving aggressively into mobile, with eLong allocating $100 million to mobile. 40% of traffic to Travel.jp and Hotel.jp now comes from mobile.
  5. Hot Hotels acquires ReallyLateBooking
    Consolidation continues in the last-minute hotel booking sector.
  6. The Habits of Modern Digital Travelers and How To Reach Them – Skift
    Survey finds that:
    – Most travelers prefer to be contacted by email rather than text message while traveling.
    – Price beats loyalty for many customers.
    – Travelers trust friends’ and family’s recommendations over social media.

Air Travel

  1. The Revolution at Ryanair – Skift
    Threatened by missed profit targets, a humbler Ryanair is making its website more user-friendly, has stated that it is open to working with travel agents and is in general taking steps to be more customer friendly.
  2. All Legacy Airlines Need an Independent Low-Cost Arm, Says IAG Boss – Skift
    “The concept of customer loyalty to a brand is becoming obsolete as the service now being offered by low-cost and legacy carriers is more or less the same,”


  1. Costa Concordia Time-Lapse Footage Shows Raising of the Ship – Skift
    Watch as the massive ship is “parbuckled” from a 66 degree list to full upright in the largest salvage operation of this type ever completed.
  2. Or check out the official website of the Costa Concordia recovery operation for the fascinating technical details of the salvage.
    There’s a lot more going on underwater than is apparent from surface photos.

General Travel News

  1. Breaking Down the Forbes 400 to Find the Richest People in Travel – Skift
    Expedia chairman Barry Diller comes in around the middle of the list.

Social Media

  1. Shady dealings in the world of Facebook Likes and YouTube views – Tnooz
    Unscrupulous marketeers are inflating brands’  primary social statistics by hiring workers in poor countries to “like” Facebook brand pages, YouTube videos and other social media. Fortunately there are other statistics that can be used to get a truer view of follower engagement.


  1. Survey says…people are still on standby regarding wearable technology – Tnooz
    It appears that most of the excitement around wearable tech may be coming from product developers rather than consumers.
  2. The New iPhones 5S and 5C: What’s New and What’s Old – Skift
    The best non-technical summary of the new iPhones I’ve read.
  3. The New iOS 7 Review: Improvements, Upgrades and General Flatness – Skift
    A good overview of what’s new in iOS 7. I like the location-aware App Store suggestions. It’s little touches like these that earn Apple so much loyalty; and I say that as an Apple skeptic.
  4. iPhone 5c Teardown – iFixit
  5. Things at BlackBerry Are Even Worse Than Expected – Rebecca Greenfield – The Atlantic Wire
  6. Proving that the blind spots that are still firmly in place, Blackberry blamed losses on US foreign currency restrictions on Venezuela, where Blackberry handsets remain popular.
  7. Ballmer calls Google a ‘monopoly’ that authorities should control | The Verge
  8. Google Translate for iOS adds handwriting support and new UI | The Verge
  9. Nokia’s Last Great Deal: Zero to $7.2 Billion – WSJ.com
  10. “Despite its inability to turn the handset unit around, the board has proved it could act decisively when needed, and that opens a window for a more modest but far more profitable Nokia.”


  1. Facebook Chases Google’s Deep Learning with New Research Group | MIT Technology Review
    Facebook has launched its own Deep Learning group to leverage its massive data assets. For those unfamiliar with the term, Deep Learning is a fashionable label for a class of artificial intelligence algorithms with layered inputs, such as neural networks. My guess is that the article oversimplifies the actual approach the group will take. Psychologist Gary Marcus, quoted in the Wikipedia entry on Deep Learning, suggests how other techniques can be used in conjunction with Deep Learning:
    Realistically, deep learning is only part of the larger challenge of building intelligent machines. Such techniques lack ways of representing causal relationships (…) have no obvious ways of performing logical inferences, and they are also still a long way from integrating abstract knowledge, such as information about what objects are, what they are for, and how they are typically used. The most powerful A.I. systems, like Watson (…) use techniques like deep learning as just one element in a very complicated ensemble of techniques, ranging from the statistical technique of Bayesian inference to deductive reasoning.

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