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Third-party air data aggregator Prism Group is prepping a
new airline sales platform for launch early next year. Under development for
three years, Prism Sales Information System will greatly expand the functionality
enabled through Prism SalesServer, the de facto standard airline contracting
system, founder and president Michael Whitesage said. "We're moving to a
browser and integrating all aspects of airline sales, so it allows airlines to
manage their sales efforts worldwide in one platform," he said. "When
we started working with it, it was a conversion from what we had today to a
browser, but as we worked in the medium, we realized just how profound the
Travelport this month launched an application programming
interface through which users can aggregate content from multiple sources,
including competing global distribution providers and supplier direct
connections, the company said. Travelport said the Universal API is "central
to the underlying architecture" of its upcoming Universal Desktop agent
system, which it continues to test with launch client Flight Centre. A
Travelport spokesperson said that although the Universal API now is available for
agency use, most subscribers likely would not adopt it until the Universal
Desktop is live. "Today's travel agencies and developers are challenged by
having to tap into multiple websites, GDSs and supplier-direct channels to
access the content, functionality and pricing they need to satisfy consumer
demand and in Travelport Universal API we have the solution," Travelport
chief marketing officer Sally Balcombe said in statement. Travelport had been
preparing to launch its Universal Desktop in the second half of 2010, though BTN sister publication The Beat reported
last month that Travelport now is aiming to broadly release its next-generation
agency workspace in the first half of next year.
Rooms To Get New Looks
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide this month announced
a $100 million program to debut new room designs for its Sheraton and Westin
brands at several properties in North America next year. At Westin, new rooms
will include a table with a foldout feature for laptops and in-room dining,
larger closets and an upholstered bench for luggage storage. Sheraton features
will include bedside tables with built-in outlets and LED nightlights. The
company estimates that more than 30 Sheraton properties and more than one dozen
Westin properties will roll out the new designs in 2011. The first Westin
properties with the new design will be a new Phoenix property slated to open in
February and the Westin Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, which is undergoing
renovation work that is scheduled for completion next year. Sheraton's first
redesigned hotels will include the Sheraton Red Deer in Alberta, Canada, and
the Sheraton Syracuse University Hotel & Conference Center, each to be
renovated early next year.
Amtrak Reports Record
Amtrak this month reported annual ridership grew nearly 6
percent to more than 28.7 million passengers for the fiscal year ending Sept.
30, a new annual record for the rail operator. Amtrak also reported record
ticket revenue of $1.74 billion, which grew 9 percent from fiscal year 2009.
Among the trends driving ridership growth, Amtrak cited "sustained high
gasoline prices" and "consumer dissatisfaction with air service."
Nowhere is the shift from air to rail more evident, Amtrak said, than the
Northeast Corridor, where "Amtrak now enjoys a 65 percent share of the
air-rail market between Washington and New York and a 52 percent share of the
air-rail market between New York and Boston."
Hyatt Doubles Down On
Chinese Hotel Development
Hyatt Hotels Corp. this month announced management
agreements that double its pipeline in China, bringing its total number of
properties under development in the country to 22. Properties announced this
month include Hyatt Regency hotels in Changbaishan, Changchun, Guiyang, Jinan,
Qingdao, Tianjin East and Wenzhou; Grant Hyatt properties in Dalian, Sanya
Haitang Bay and Shenyang; and a Park Hyatt in Changbaishan. Hyatt currently has
17 hotels in China, which include properties in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan,
making it the country with the second-highest number of Hyatt properties behind
the United States. Of the 22 properties in Hyatt's China pipeline, four are
scheduled to open next year: a Park Hyatt in Ningbo and Hyatt Regency
properties in Jinan, Guiyang and Qingdao.
This report appeared
in the Oct. 25 issue of Business Travel News.