Here's today's round-up of news briefs in the travel technology.
Priceline, the billion-dollar company, seems to be moving away from its trademark The Negotiator role to a new persona as The Informer. The giant corporation recently called out certain savings claims made by tiny US OTAs CheapOair and CheapOstay.
Today, the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) ruled in Priceline's favor. It recommending that Fareportal, operator of the sites, "modify or discontinue certain comparative savings claims" such as "Save up to 65% at CheapOair" and "Over 100 million exclusive wholesale fares."
The company says it will “take all of NAD’s recommendations into account in its future advertising." Pricline's public pillorying of CheapOair follows on the heels its effort to intimidate start-up HotelTonight out of what it considers to be inflated savings claims.
Surprise! Hotwire is expanding. Its opaque booking model continues to be a success. In 2012, "consumer usage" doubled, the company says, and Hotwire added an extra 5,000 hotels to its network, bringing the total to more than 30,000.
Hotwire adds in a release that it:
"expects the growth of opaque travel will continue in 2013 when it plans to launch several regional websites across Europe, Asia and Latin America. Hotwire most recently launched in Australia and New Zealand, following launches in the Nordics, the UK and Ireland in 2011."
THEME PARK TECH
This spring, Disney amusement parks will debut "magic bracelets" for visitors, says The New York Times. The MagicBands are rubber bracelets that use radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to store and transmit credit card information and will allow customers to pay for things with a tap of the wrist.
The Disney-invented devices are not just about money. The wristbrands can also be used to replace the need for turnstiles and to enable park attractions to be more interactive, such as allowing for a robotic sea gull to chat with wearers of the wristbrands.
Cruise ships will be paying close attention to the success of the experiment.
Monscierge!?! Woteva next? Accor's budget chain ibis is now offering in some of its London hotels, such as the one in Blackfriars,wall-mounted tablets made by Monscierge,
This is "a virtual concierge that enables guest to interact to find local recommendations, tourist hot-spots and even check flight times via a giant, touch-screen monitor.
Ibis says 73% of front desk questions are about local recommendations and information. The tablet-like device will replace the need for staff labor to field questions. [Monscierge]
British provider of mobile location-based services Telmap now offers hotel reservations via HRS on its M8 app. The app is available in the UK on Apple, Android, and Blackberry Touch devices. (Release)
Onefinestay has announced the 1,000 global home to its portfolio. (Release)
Gondwana Collection Namibia has launched an iPad app. It has cross-promotion inside the Discover Namibia iPad App, the official iPad app of the Namibia Tourism Board.
StudentUniverse now sells adventure tours on its website. (Release)