Responding to claims that the proposed Jetset Travelworld Group (JTG) and Stella merger has led to industry disquiet, Stella’s Concorde Agency Network assured it was business as usual for its members.“[Our] members are independently owned and concentrate on running their business, supported by a ‘full service’ buying group with access to the best at source commissions,” Concorde said in a prepared statement. Concorde hit back against rumours that the proposed merger has affected its membership numbers saying, “Several independent groups…[are] already boasting surging membership numbers and target agent hit-lists.The reality is something different. Our members…understand that any potential merge will not affect their industry standing.” Concorde claimed it had deliberately reduced its membership by 25 per cent in the last 18 months in order to optimise costs for members and network suppliers. “Concorde does not tolerate dual membership and actively supports a membership that sells its suppliers’ products,” Concorde said.“This policy and constant reviews of member activity culminated in the distilled membership base with reduced cost of sale for both the network and suppliers.” <a href=”http://www.etbtravelnews.global/click/28ce4/” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://adsvr.travelads.biz/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=10&cb=INSERT_RANDOM_NUMBER_HERE&n=a5c63036″ border=”0″ alt=””></a> Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A
Already more than two years behind its delivery schedule and Boeing has yet again announced its 787 Dreamliner will be further delayed until mid-February.In an official statement, Boeing said the postponement, the latest in a string of delays, stems from Rolls-Royce Group’s inability to supply an engine for flight tests.“The delivery date revision follows an assessment of the availability of an engine needed for the final phases of flight test this fall,” the statement read.“While Boeing works closely with Rolls-Royce to expedite engine availability, flight testing across the test fleet continues as planned.”Last month Boeing had estimated the first delivery of the 787 Dreamliner, while beleaguered by a series of issues, would take place in the first few weeks of 2011.The date was pushed further back due to “a delay in engine availability”.Neither Boeing nor Rolls-Royce commented on speculation that the delay was due to the “uncontained failure” of a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 test engine while on a ground-test earlier this month, Bloomberg reported.Due to the delay, Kenya Airways might have to cancel its Boeing order for nine 787s and buy Airbus A330s instead, Kenya Airways Chief Executive Titus Naikuni told Air Transport World.”If [Boeing] can’t deliver, we will cancel.” Rolls Royce ‘powers’ Boeing Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A
Some six million Americans tuned in to watch Australian darlings Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban as guests on a special Aussie-themed Oprah episode which screened in the United States Tuesday and in Australia last night.As images of Australia flashed across television screens in American homes, Oprah declared she had “Aussie fever” and could not wait to bring along 300 lucky American audience members (and a few million global television viewers) to the land ‘down under’.The talk show queen has never visited Australia and told Oscar winner Nicole Kidman she has always wanted to go.“I like to do things in a big way,” Oprah joked.Ms Kidman shared her favourite things about Sydney, telling Oprah, “[Sydney] is a very warm town, very friendly”.“There are many places to go and great food,” Ms Kidman said.Ms Kidman and her famous country singer husband Keith Urban will join Oprah at one of her episodes set in Sydney Opera (or ‘Oprah’) House.“Our friends Down Under are rolling out the red carpet,” Oprah said, listing activities her audience members will be experiencing, including swimming, snorkeling, shopping and visiting wineries.Oprah and her lucky travel companions were given a few tips from Australians, told that men are called ‘blokes’, women ‘sheilas’ and that men’s brief swimming trunks are called ‘budgie smugglers’, “because they look like we’ve got a…bird hidden down there”.Australian police say they are preparing for Oprah’s visit, a spokesperson for Police Minister Michael Daley telling the Herald Sun that the NSW Police Force and the NSW Government were working together to ensure Oprah will be well looked after.”While there is a range of security arrangements in place during the visit, there will be sufficient numbers of police to cover a range of contingencies,” the spokesperson said.”Police are also developing traffic and transport arrangements in conjunction with the RTA and transport agencies to minimise any disruptions.” Oprah’s got Aussie fever! Source = e-Travel Blackboard: G.A
Etihad Airways has won four titles at the annual World Travel Awards ceremony for the Middle East, held last night, including the coveted title of the Middle East’s Leading Airline.The ceremony took place at the Armani Hotel Dubai in the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, setting the scene for a hugely successful evening for Etihad. The Abu Dhabi-based airline also received the Middle East’s Leading Airline First Class award, Middle East’s Leading Cabin Staff award and Middle East’s Leading Airline In-flight Entertainment award.As voted on by 213,000 travel industry professionals from around the world, the World Travel Awards’ spotlight the best in travel regionally and globally.Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “It is truly an honour to win Leading Airline for the Middle East. Our home market is extremely important to Etihad, so I am especially pleased to be recognised by our guests and peers from the region in this way.“We continually aim to deliver exceptional service and superior product and to receive this award demonstrates that the airline industry and our guests believe we are consistent in doing so. I hope this award encourages more and more customers to fly with the best.”With this title win, Etihad is now the only airline to represent the Middle East region in these categories at the global World Travel Awards held in London later in the year, where the best of the world compete.The award for Middle East’s Leading First Class Airline recognises Etihad’s Diamond First class suites, which feature a luxurious Poltrona Frau leather seat that converts to a fully flat bed, a large wood-finished table, Arabic-styled sliding doors offering complete privacy, a 23-inch personal entertainment screen, a personal wardrobe with mirror, and four individual lighting options with dimmers, in-seat power points and USBs. The First class cabin also includes a spacious and comfortable changing room.The ‘Inspired Service’ concept was a key reason behind Etihad winning the title of Middle East’s Leading Cabin Staff. The concept was developed across all cabins to ensure that each passenger receives a personalised and attentive service, tailored to individual requirements, during the flight.Etihad’s state-of-the art E-BOX on-demand system won the Middle East’s Leading In-flight Entertainment. The E-BOX allows customers to enjoy more than 600 hours of the latest movies, TV shows, music and interactive games as well as recharge laptop computers and mobile devices.In what has been an exciting week for Etihad, the airline’s service was also praised at the Business Travel Awards, where it received the award for Best Cabin Crew. Source = Etihad Airways
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: N.J Qantas said the Transport Workers Union’s (TWU) announcement yesterday to cancel strikes planned for today is too little too late with the carrier already publishing a new schedule that will cause disruptions for up to 5,700 passengers.The carrier said it was forced to cancel up to 17 flights and delays 29 others on the last day of the school holidays, one of the busiest days of the year because of work stoppages originally organized to run for two hours from 4.00pm this afternoon.Not impressed with the last minute decision, Qantas Group Executive government and corporate affairs Olivia Wirth said the union was playing “games”, knowing that it is too late for the carrier to re-instate cancelled services.“You can’t just turn an airline on and off,” Ms Wirth said.“The Transport Workers Union has waited until less than 24 hours before the planned strike to call it off so that passengers are still disrupted, the Qantas business been damaged but their members don’t lose any money from going on strike.Ms Wirth thanked members who has put pressure on the union to cancel the strikes and hopes the decision is a signal to the end of strikes.With negotations between the two parties has now exceeded 30 weeks, TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon said he is seeking “serious engagement” from the carrier over job security and pay.“Given the old agreement expired in July and was developed under the WorkChoices regime, Qantas should clearly spell out to its workforce whether they will have a job for the next couple of years,” Mr Sheldon said.The next scheduled meeting between the two parties is on 12 October, however the union added that if negotations are not taken “seriously” by Qantas then it would organize a four-hour strike on 13 October.Although TWU members will not lower their tools today, the Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) said they are still going ahead with one-hour stoppages, which will affect operations at Melbourne Airport later this afternoon.While the carrier struggles in negotiations with ALAEA and TWU, yesterday Qantas announced it had reached a pay agreement with the Flight Attendants Association of Australia (FAAA) the domestic and regional division.Up to 2150 cabin crew will vote over the next three weeks on the new three year pay agreement which includes, three percent increase over the period, $500 lump sum payment each year, Customer Service Manager will receive additional increment and more flexibility in rostering.“Our cabin crew play a very important role in providing safety and customer service to our passengers during every single flight,” Qantas Group Executive operations Lyell Strambi said.“We are pleased that we have been able to negotiate a new agreement for our cabin crew which will provide improved pay and conditions and also provide the airline with greater flexibility.”Voting opens on the 28 October and will close on the 18 November.
Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa has been honoured with one of the most prestigious awards in the country, receiving the 2012 Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) National Travel Industry Award (NTIA) for Best Australian Hotel/Resort. Emirates Wolgan Valley was presented the Award at a gala presentation dinner in Sydney, attended by dignitaries and more than 900 of the industry’s business leaders and members. The premier awards recognise the leaders in the Australian travel industry and acknowledge superior customer service, marketing excellence, business acumen and outstanding personnel.“The AFTA NTIA is one of the most significant awards we could be honoured with. Recognition from our industry peers is the highest acclaim and it is gratifying that our commitment and efforts to be a truly world-class Australian hotel have not gone unnoticed,” said Joost Heymeijer, General Manager, Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa. “The resort is over 10 years in the making and from the outset, Emirates made deliberate efforts to ensure it showcases the very best of Australia with an ethos for quintessential experiences, understated luxury, and a profound sense of place. “This is an extraordinary achievement and one that Emirates is extremely proud and humbled to receive,” added Mr Heymeijer.A scenic three-hour drive from Sydney, Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa is nestled between two of Australia’s most prominent national parks and borders the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The resort itself occupies just two per cent of the 4,000-acre property, and combines the expectations of the high-end traveller with a commitment to broader social, ecological and environmental sustainability.For a complete list of accolades and awards Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa has received since opening in October 2009, including acclaim from Condé Nast Traveller, Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report, and The Leading Hotels of the World, visit www.wolganvalley.com.AFTA is the peak body for Australia’s travel agents, and represents the majority of travel agents in Australia. Founded in 1957, AFTA’s aim has been to stimulate, encourage and promote travel; and to uphold the interests of travel agents who form a vital part of Australia’s highly specialised travel and tourism industry. Source = Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa
Consumers still value the trust and reassurance of retail agents. British tourism authorities are adamant bricks-and-mortar agencies are still important to travel consumers, especially in long-haul markets such as Australia.Travel agents are a necessary component of the modern tourism industry, according to representatives from VisitBritain, VisitWales, London & Partners and others who attended Destination Britain APMEA 2013.Australian travellers to the United Kingdom spent a record AU$1.69 billion last year, with Aussie arrival and spend figures projected to rise to AU$2.14 billion by 2020.Traditional distribution channels still account for the majority of Australian consumer holiday bookings, according to research conducted by Tourism Australia last year.“We need to be working with trade partners on territory, especially in those long haul markets, where consumers to a large extent rely on retailers and wholesalers,” VisitBritain overseas director Keith Beecham told ETB News.“Australians go online; they’ll do a ton of research and gather plenty of information, but they’ll still go to the more traditional retail outlet to book, particularly their long-haul travel… and it’s the same in other countries like China, Japan and India where these kinds of relationships matter.”The shared view between British tourism authorities is that due to the extensive distance and significant spending on travel from far reach destinations, consumers want reassurance on their purchases.“Travellers can safeguard against most problems and issues, especially those that may occur after arriving at your destination, by investing in these agent relationships,” Mr Beecham said.Yet, as digital distribution became more prevalent, bricks-and-mortar agencies suffered criticism.“For a while there everybody was saying that agents would be the next dinosaurs, but actually, pushing through that difficult time, they’ve had to demonstrate their word and abilities and have come away stronger than ever,” VisitWales product marketing manager Clare Dwight said.“I think the distribution industry has become multi-layered and there are a variety of options to cater to all consumer preferences nowadays, each offering a unique perspective.”ETB News is currently in Bangkok for Destination Britain, which runs from 13-16 May 2013.Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T.
Garuda returns to Brisbane aftera five year absence. Garuda Indonesia has touched back down in Brisbane today, reinstating flights to the city after a five years absence. First announced by the airline’s president and chief executive Emirsyah Satar in November last year, the route will be utilised by the carrier’s Boeing 737-800 NextGen aircraft and will increase its weekly services to 52 per week. “We have also seen a significant growth in demand in the Queensland leisure market, so we are very pleased to finally be back in Brisbane,” Mr Siregar explained. Click here for more information. Source = ETB News: NJ Passengers will be able to enjoy the Garuda Indonesia Experience with a uniquely Indonesian in-flight menu, warm hospitality – reflected in the service, on-board décor and its staff – and a Video on Demand (VOD) entertainment systems offering 35 feature films, 10 television programs, 48 music albums and 25 interactive video games. Garuda vice president Bagus Y. Siregar said the new route will target growing tourism between Australia and Indonesia, which contributed to the 20 percent increase in passengers from the South-West Pacific to Indonesia in 2012. The return to Brisbane follows the airline’s recent launch to Perth in June this year.
Each ship contains two entire decks of all suite accommodation as well as 30 per cent more cabin area than the average competitor. Avalon Waterways announced it is expanding its cruise reach into France with two new ships and an additional itinerary for 2015 last week. Source = ETB News: Emma Huynh Avalon will be sending its Avalon Poetry II and Avalon Tapestry II on the Rhone and Seine rivers to join the existing Avalon ships Avalon Creativity and Avalon Scenery to double the capacity of its fleet. Avalon also plans to introduce a number of cruise itineraries to cruises on the Yangtze, Amazon and Galapagos Islands. The event was hosted by Stewart Williams, Avalon Waterways MD for Australasia, and was attended by Deborah Hutton, who will become the godmother of new ship Avalon Illumination when she launches it at a ceremony in Vienna on June 3. Avalon Waterways’ two new 2015 ships – Avalon Tapestry II and Avalon Tranquility II will help bring the cruiseline’s fleet to 15 modern vessels. The night had a French theme to reflect the expansion of Avalon Waterways river cruises in France. Media and guests were given a private tasting of French champagnes, matched with French cheeses and explained by a sommelier and cheese expert at GPO Cheese and Wine.
Etihad Airways chief executive James Hogan has said that the airline will force Alitalia to downsize in the event of any equity purchase deal.The two airlines are just about to finalise a potential agreement which will see Etihad take a 49 per cent stake in Alitalia and a comprehensive restructuring of the Italian airline, The Nation reported.Under any potential deal, Etihad is likely to invest up to €1.25 billion in Alitalia over four years.Of that amount, €560 million would be spent on Alitalia equity, while the remaining €690m would be spent on upgrading Alitalia’s airplanes, interiors and training staff.Mr Hogan said that Alitalia must change to survive in a tough international market.“This is about restructuring and moving a business to a sustainable profitability, and if you don’t restructure you won’t survive,” Mr Hogan said.Mr Hogan refused to say how many jobs would be lost in any restructure, but Alitalia says that it could be as much as a seventh of its 14,000 strong workforce.Alitalia is already losing €1.5 million per day and has received a €500m bailout package.Source = ETB News: Tom Neale
book and stay at Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo offers special breakfast servicesKeio Plaza Hotel Tokyo (KPH), one of Japan’s most prestigious international hotels located in Shinjuku, Tokyo, will begin providing highly unique room service breakfasts for guests staying in our Hello Kitty Rooms from July 22nd to expand the Hello Kitty guest experience.The newly created “Hello Kitty Room Original Breakfast” is based upon our hotel’s American breakfast menu with colorful and nutritionally balanced food items added such as omelets, ratatouille and salads using various Hello Kitty images. Potage soup with Hello Kitty shaped croutons, sausage and vegetable sandwiches in the shape of Hello Kitty’s face, apple pie desserts and many other Hello Kitty menu items are also served as part of the Hello Kitty Original Breakfast for guests to take away as pleasant memories of their stay with us.The Hello Kitty Rooms decorated in highly attractive Hello Kitty décor were opened from November, 2014 for Hello Kitty fans from around the world to enjoy. Four rooms have been remodeled in two themes of “KITTY TOWN” and “PRINCESS KITTY” which have gathered media attention from around the world and have been enchanting both Japanese and overseas guests.The “KITTY TOWN” room motif features cheerful décor, designed by KPH’s dedicated designers, with the overall theme of Hello Kitty’s holidays in Tokyo, an urban resort. The room depicts the world superstar, Hello Kitty, having fun at an amusement park and enjoying shopping with her friends and family. Keio Plaza Hotel created the rooms for its guests to relive their childhood again in dreams with Hello Kitty. The “PRINCESS KITTY” room is designed along the concept that this is the princess’ room, where she spends her private relaxing time among her favorites. Source = Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo
The Tourism & Transport Forum Australia (TTF) is calling on the Federal Government to match Indonesia’s decision to scrap the $49 fee on Australian tourists applying for a one month tourist visa.The Indonesian Government has signalled its intention to remove the visa fee for 79 countries, including Australia, for visitors spending less than a month in the country.“This is a strong play by the Indonesians to attract more tourists to their shores and Australia should be adopting a similar mentality to encourage more tourists to come and see all that we have to offer,” said Margy Osmond, TTF CEO.“Indonesia is one of Australia’s closest neighbours with a growing middle class population. Yet it is far down the list, at number 12, by the country of origin for tourists coming to Australia with only 151,000 Indonesians visiting the past 12 months.“The Indonesian tourism market is worth approximately $10.8 billion a year but Australia is only attracting $500 million of that spending – a paltry 5.5 per cent of the Indonesian market.“An Indonesian traveller wanting to visit Australia has to hand over $135 for a visitor visa – that is a financial disincentive to visit our country and spend money seeing Australia’s fantastic attractions and natural beauty.“As we continue to see the Indonesian economy strengthen with the massive growth we expect to see in the Asia-Pacific, that represents a significant tourism market on our very doorstep that we need to do more to cultivate.“The Indonesians recognise the value of Australians tourists by this decision to abolish the visa fee for one month tourist visas.“It’s just common sense that Australia should follow suit in abolishing our disincentive for travellers in Indonesia and beyond to visit our country.” Tourism & Transport ForumSource = Tourism & Transport Forum
Msc Cruises’ Partnership With Unicef Surpasses The €8 Million Contribution MarkMSC Cruises’ partnership with UnicefTo-date the lives of over 81,000 children and their families in Africa have been impacted thanks to the funds raised through MSC Cruises’ guests contributionsMSC Cruises, the world’s largest privately owned cruise company and leading cruise line in Europe and South America, has announced today that to date it has raised more than €8 million for UNICEF thanks to the generous contributions of its guests. The funds raised are used to provide malnourished children with Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) such as Plumpy’ Nut® and to date more than 6.5 million sachets of RUTF have been delivered to children in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia and Malawi.Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ Executive Chairman commented: “We are delighted to have reached this new contribution milestone, thanks to the generosity of our guests. As a family-run Company, we care deeply about the wellbeing of families around the world. Through the funds raised on board our ships thanks to our ‘Get on Board for Children’ initiative to provide life-saving food to severely malnourished children around the world where and when most needed.MSC Cruises and UNICEF have worked in partnership since 2009 and together established in 2013 a global initiative to assist malnourished children in developing countries and those affected by crises. The initiative encourages MSC Cruises’ guests across the fleet to make a contribution to UNICEF.Between 2013 and 2017, thanks to these generous contributions over 20,500 children have been treated in Somalia, over 15,700 in South Sudan, over 9,400 Ethiopia and, most recently, over 35,000 in Malawi. Facing multiple challenges such as food shortages, flooding, stagnant economies and prolonged droughts, the need of food aid in these countries remains crucial, especially for the lives of children. Through this long-standing partnership, MSC Cruises and UNICEF seek to fight hunger together and have helped to feed nearly 81,150 children and their families since 2013.Until end of 2019, in Malawi specifically, MSC Cruises is the only corporate partner working to support the area helping UNICEF to reach 45 percent of the severely malnourished children in all 28 districts. This programme, through the support of MSC Cruises, aims to treat and rehabilitate 45,000 children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition with 621 metric tons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods as well as therapeutic milk and other nutritional supplies.The current choice to focus aid in Malawi is for specifics reasons, as Hans Künzle, Chairman of the Board of UNICEF Switzerland explains: “Over half of the 18.2 million Malawians are under the age of 18 years. About 63 percent of children suffer from multidimensional poverty. Nevertheless, Malawi has made remarkable progress towards child well-being, also thanks to the valuable support of MSC Cruises. It is therefore extremely important that we continue our work in this country. The vision is for all girls and boys in Malawi, especially the most disadvantaged and deprived, to realize their rights.”In the meantime, to continue to raise awareness on board its ships about UNICEF’s work and the needs of children around the world, MSC Cruises organises “edutainment” activities for children and their parents. Each week sees the programme on board each of MSC Cruises’ ships including a dedicated UNICEF Day with fun games, a children’s parade and the distribution to each participating youngster of a leaflet to teach them about malnutrition in the world. They also receive a UNICEF World Citizen passport that is stamped after each educational activity is completed, making them an ambassador for the rights of the child worldwide.UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, with 70 years’ experience in development co-operation and emergency relief, works towards ensuring the survival and wellbeing of children worldwide. Its remit includes health, nutrition, education, water and sanitation, as well as the protection of children against abuse, exploitation, violence, and AIDS. With its programmes, UNICEF is active in more than 190 countries and territories. The newly reached fundraising milestone underlines the ongoing commitment of MSC Cruises and their guests to help continue to make a positive impact through the “Get on Board for Children” initiative.For more information about MSC Cruises and the partnership with UNICEF, see the attached infographic or visit hereSource = MSC Cruises
Tour East Group launches new websiteTour East Group launches new websiteTour East has launched its new website designed to be a knowledge and information centre for its B2B travel industry partners.Tour East Senior Vice President Chris Bailey says the aim in designing the new site is to create a fresh new digital shop window to the world of Tour East and its extensive portfolio of services, products and destination information from its 15 countries of operation located throughout Asia Pacific.“We have created a new network of product development geniuses and we needed somewhere to display their never-ending work – where better than here,” Mr Bailey said.“The site also acts as a gateway for its travel industry partners using its platform “Web-Connect” which now delivers literally thousands of products and services in Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar at the speed of click.”Mr Bailey said Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Korea would be added to the portfolio shortly with the aim to have the whole network accessible by year’s end.The next phase for the website includes further enhancements to the MICE section resulting in a one-stop tool for organisers to gather and collate important information and data for when they are planning their programs throughout the APAC region.Source = Tour East Group
The trend of solo travel is rampant among millennials. According to a study by the Princeton Survey Research Associates, 58% of millennials are willing to travel on their own as compared to a much smaller number in the previous generations.The same study also states that 26% of women in the sample set had already travelled solo while a further 27% stated that even though they had not embarked on solo travel yet, they were not opposed to the idea of journeying alone.A lot of factors have led to the popularity of this recent phenomenon, but perhaps none as much as technology.When the word ‘technology’ is mentioned, people instantly equate it with social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. The role of technology in solo travel is significantly deeper than commonly perceived. It’s a valuable aid for women to explore exotic destinations alone.Solo women travellers often look up special destinations that meet their interests and studies have found that their vacation tends to generally be shopping and spa-centric (it is not that it tends to shopping and spa centric, but their itinerary often includes these). Technology plays an integral part in this regard thanks to blogs and accounts of travellers who may have travelled to such locations and written about their experience, inducing others to enjoy a similar holiday. Between 2016 and 2017, the number of online searches for the following keyword – ‘solo female travel’ grew by a staggering 52%, the study adds.Vishal Kejriwal, CEO and Co-founder of Taxidio Travel India Pvt Ltd said, “We offer a customised experience to female solo travellers on our portal where they can filter out destinations as per their interests and the kind of holiday they desire. Additionally, we understand that safety plays a key role when it comes to travel for these women and therefore we have e-books and online travel guides that detail how safe a city is.”Safety is paramount and therefore, the testimonials of women that have travelled to similar destinations also play a major factor to help them decide. Moreover, with the rise in the number of OTAs, the sheer number of online reviews can help women determine exactly what accommodation is ideal for solo travel. Kejriwal adds that a rating of more than 80% satisfaction level is generally preferred when it comes to searching for the perfect hotel for women.One thing to keep in mind is that a good rating does not necessarily mean that the hotel in question is necessarily ideal for one’s stay. An important parameter that one must keep in mind in this regard is the question of how many reviews there are on the said portal. A healthy rating with a greater number of reviews is far more meaningful than an outstanding rating for another hotel, with only one review.Kejriwal also added, “From envisioning the trip to executing the particulars and experiencing the joy of a holiday fantastically spent, technology can be a great asset. Solo female travel is a trend that has picked up in a big way and should only grow with the passage of time.”
Expanding its mortgage services, “”PHH Mortgage Corporation””:http://www.phhmortgagesolutions.com/ has announced the addition of five private clients, and the new financial institutions will gain access to the company’s mortgage offerings through its “”Private Label Solutions””:http://www.phhmortgagesolutions.com/html/privateLabelSol.html division. PHH Mortgage, a subsidiary of “”PHH Corporation””:http://corporate.phh.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=187859&p=irol-Corporate, will now provide end-to-end mortgage processing management to the PLS participants.[IMAGE]During the past two quarters of the year, PHH Mortgage’s PLS sector lost ground with the non-renewal of an agreement with “”Charles Schwab Bank””:http://www.schwabbank.com/. The company said in a recent statement that the five clients added to the PLS portfolio will not only offset the loss but that projections show that income from the five companies is set to exceed that of the previous arrangement with Charles Schwab.PHH Mortgage delivers origination services including loan processing, underwriting, and servicing through its PLS [COLUMN_BREAK]segment, and additionally, companies utilizing the platform can extend mortgages under their brand name, reducing costs and mitigating risk while enhancing products for customers. The resources available to PLS partners are diverse, with companies able to avail themselves of regulatory compliance staff, technology initiatives, and loan servicing options. Current clients of PHH Mortgage’s PLS program include First Tennessee Bank, Key Bank, Merrill Lynch, and UBS.Commenting on the five company additions, PHH Mortgage’s president, Luke Hayden, said, “”PHH Mortgage is the preferred mortgage solution for the nation’s leading financial institutions, large regional banks, community banks, credit unions and real estate companies, and we are pleased to welcome these five new PLS clients. As a result of these signings, we will expand our nationwide footprint for sourcing mortgage originations, with a net gain of more than 25,000 financial advisors affiliated with our PLS clients, further strengthening our position as one of the leading knowledge-based mortgage originators and servicers in the United States.””Based in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, PHH Corporation specializes in mortgage and vehicle fleet management. PHH Mortgage is also listed among the top five retail originators of retail mortgages in the U.S. The names of the five financial institutions now working with the company’s PLS division have not been released, but PHH Mortgage indicated via a public statement that each company will receive support for its loan officers, financial advisors, and borrowers. Within its own operations, PHH Mortgage possesses full service capabilities throughout the mortgage industry vertical, and is a part of the top 10 mortgage services in the country. in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology PHH Mortgage’s PLS Division Growing During Q2, Q3 October 4, 2011 435 Views Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2011-10-04 Abby Gregory Share
ACUMA Adds New Partner with Equi-Trax Share October 6, 2011 507 Views in Data, Government, Origination, Secondary Market, Servicing, Technology Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Company News Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2011-10-06 Abby Gregory “”The American Credit Union Mortgage Association””:www.acuma.org/ (ACUMA) has added a new member, with the incorporation of “”Equi-Trax Asset Solutions LP””:www.equi-trax.com/. Equi-Trax, a provider of borrower outreach programming and portfolio analytics, was recently accepted into the ACUMA, as part of the organization’s continuing efforts to enhance its consumer assistance platforms.[IMAGE]Equi-Trax attended the ACUMA’s Fall conference, recently held in Las Vegas, and much of the commentary during the event focused on finding positive ways to target borrowers who might be likely to enter strategic defaults. The ACUMA is seeking to improve communication with distressed consumers through the one-on-one connection with clients that Equi-Trax can facilitate.In a company statement, the ACUMA noted the importance of borrower management when it comes to avoiding growing[COLUMN_BREAK]numbers of strategic defaults. Additionally, the entity emphasized the critical nature of current broker price opinions when engaging in accurate, thorough assistance to consumers in need and their correlating lenders.Greg Musso, national sales director for Equi-Trax, said of the ACUMA’s concerns, “”Based on what I learned at the show, many credit unions face an impending problem of strategic defaults. Unfortunately, the problem cannot be avoided, and now is the time to create an effective strategy for handling strategic defaults to minimize the effect on the financial institution.””Elaborating on his company’s partnership with the ACUMA, Musso continued, “”I have been very impressed with the ACUMA team and the support the organization provides to credit unions on the mortgage side of their businesses. I just returned from the association’s national conference, and I was very impressed with the quality of the speakers and the in-depth content that they presented to the attendees.””Bob Dorsa, ACUMA’s president, echoed Musso’s sentiments, saying, “”We are proud to welcome Equi-Trax to our organization. We look forward to their participation and contribution to our trade group.””California-based Equi-Trax boasts proprietary analytics, strong collateral valuations, and national appraisal coverage. The company is also known for offering “”door knock”” service for borrower outreach, which is considered among the most effective options available in today’s mortgage marketplace├âÔÇÜ├é┬á
FBR: Some 6M Borrowers May Qualify for HARP Share Agents & Brokers HARP Housing Affordability Investors Lenders & Servicers Processing Refinance Service Providers 2012-09-11 Tory Barringer in Government, Origination, Servicing September 11, 2012 424 Views While “”FHFA””:http://www.fhfa.gov/ reported a month-to-month drop in HARP refinances, volume under the program remains high, with numbers in the first half of the year (more than 519,000 as of the end of July) already outshining all of 2011’s HARP volume. [IMAGE]Given the government’s estimate that up to 4 million loans could be eligible under the program and “”FBR’s””:http://www.fbr.com/ expectation that approximately 6 million borrowers may qualify, the firm expects that originators will continue to see strong volume in the near future.””Accordingly, we believe that banks with strong origination platforms should continue to outperform peers, especially as elevated volumes, low rates, and constrained capacity provide a significant tailwind to earnings,”” FBR said in its report. “”We continue to recommend investors move away from banks whose earnings are sensitive to falling asset yields and toward those with meaningful exposure to origination and servicing businesses as they will be better able to weather the lackluster economic environment,”” analysts added.In addition, high-LTV (loan-to-value) refinancings boosted activity. As HARP opened up to a wider range of borrowers, FBR expected volumes would be boosted further. In July, borrowers with LTVs greater than 105 percent made up more than half of HARP volume. [COLUMN_BREAK]In the second quarter, HARP refis with high LTVs represented more than 8 percent of total refinance volume, a large increase from 2 percent in the first quarter.As of August 20, the Mortgage Bankers Association estimates $1.4 trillion in originations in 2012, and FBR expects more than that. With origination volumes at an elevated level, FBR recommended investment in companies with strong originatino platforms, such as PHH Corporation, Wells Fargo, PNC Financial Services, U.S. Bancorp, and Fifth Third Bancorp.Interestingly, “”Fannie Mae””:http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/index.html has proven to be more active and accommodating in processing HARP loans than “”Freddie Mac””:http://www.freddiemac.com/. While volume may appear to be similar between the two GSEs, Fannie seems to be more accommodative across FICO scores, LTVs and for non-owner-occupied units. FBR also believes Fannie has expanded its program to loans below 80 percent LTV, possibly opening it up to more borrowers.Finally, FBR warned that reps and warranties exposure remains the main point of risk investing in banks with large mortgage origination platforms as the GSEs work to regain losses.””This will likely remain a risk to originators well into 2013, and we expect repurchase requests and reserves to be lumpy as the GSEs continue to comb through loans at the full file level. That said, names that we continue to recommend are likely to be relatively underexposed to this risk as many are conservative underwriters and are well reserved for any increase in repurchase requests,”” FBR said in its report.FHFA plans to release guidance related to reps and warranty claims. The firm reports that it anticipates a program that will provide greater scrutiny at the time of origination, greater clarity to originators, and a statute of limitations on most claims. Though these guidelines apply only to new loans, they may provide relief for originators with legacy issues. However, FBR urges caution, as it expects FHFA’s inspector general will continue to pressure the GSEs to recover as much as possible.
Share Commerce Department National Association of Home Builders New Home Sales 2014-07-24 Tory Barringer The second quarter closed out with a sizable drop in new home sales, even as prior gains were revised downward.The Commerce Department reported on Thursday that sales of new homes in June were at an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of 406,000, reflecting a decline of 8.1 percent from May.May’s sales rate, originally reported at 504,000, was revised down to 442,000, erasing much of the 18.6 percent gain that had been recorded previously.Economists surveyed by Econoday had predicted a slide in new home sales to an annual rate of 475,000. Based on its own application survey, the Mortgage Bankers Association had forecast a sales pace of 386,000, an increase from its unrevised estimate of 374,000 sales in May.June’s decline represents yet another setback in the housing recovery, which has stalled on the sales front for most of the year.The Commerce Department’s report shows sales slipped in all regions, with the Northeast seeing the biggest percentage decline at 20.0 percent (to a rate of 24,000). In terms of sheer sales volume, the South posted the steepest drop, with sales falling from 231,000 to 209,000 (a 9.5 percent decline).Elsewhere, the Midwest recorded an 8.2 percent monthly drop to an estimated sales rate of 67,000, while the West reported a 1.9 percent decrease to a rate of 106,000.The median sales price of new homes sold in June was $273,500, while the average price was $331,400, the government reported. July 24, 2014 455 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Featured, Headlines, News New Home Sales Tumble in June; May Sales Sharply Revised
Credit Lenders Mortgage Rates Realtor.com 2016-05-11 Staff Writer May 11, 2016 466 Views in Daily Dose, Data, Headlines, News Although home prices are continuing their upward climb, mortgage rates continue to hover around three-year lows, but what’s the catch to those low rates?Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed that average fixed mortgage rates crept closer to 2016 lows after the Fed stood still on raising rates last week and other negative economic data.According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.61 percent for the week ending May 5, 2016, with an average 0.6 point. Last week, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.66 percent, and a year ago it averaged 3.80 percent.The 15-year FRM also fell this week from 2.89 percent last week to an average of 2.86 percent this week. The 15-year FRM is down from last week when it averaged 2.89 percent and down from the year-ago average of 3.02 percent.Sean Becketti, Chief Economist, Freddie Mac said, “The Fed’s decision to stand pat followed by a week of assorted unsettling news drove Treasury yields lower. As a consequence, the 30-year mortgage rate drifted down to 3.61 percent, just 3 basis points above the low for the year. Since the start of February, mortgage rates have varied within a narrow range providing an extended period for house hunters to take advantage of historically low rates.”Now for the catch. Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist of Realtor.com determined that “only the most highly qualified buyers are getting these loans. With little margin for profit, lenders have become even more risk-averse, so indicators of credit tightness such as the average FICO score have ticked up this year as rates have gone down,” he said in a report.The MBA’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) that mortgage credit availability fell 0.89 percent to 122.4 in April. The MBA noted that a decline in the MCAI indicates that lending standards are tightening, while an increase means that credit is loosening. The index was benchmarked to 100 in March 2012.”Mortgage credit became less available in April as a result of two opposing trends, resulting in a net decrease to the index,” said Lynn Fisher, MBA’s VP of Research and Economics. “Investors continued to roll out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s low down payment loan programs, which had a loosening effect on credit availability. However, this was more than offset by tightening among high balance and jumbo loan programs.”Smoke noted that he is not sure where rates will head next, and the Fed is likely to stand still on a rate increase in June in light of the dismal employment data.He forecasts that the average 30-year rate is likely to remain under 4 percent throughout the spring and summer and into the early fall, while the 30-year conforming rate will end the year at 4.21 percent, up 12 basis points from the end of 2015.”Given how volatile rates have been this year, there is a good chance that any borrower will see both lower and higher rates from time of application to time of closing—and that’s what makes these options attractive. However, like most good things in life, they come at a price,” Smoke said. The Big Catch to Those Low Mortgage Rates Share