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10 posts from May 2009

May 28, 2009

WorldMate Coming Soon to an iPhone Near You

We are VERY excited... a couple of days ago we submitted WorldMate to the iTunes App Store. It's now undergoing Apple's certification. So now it's up to them - and as soon as they approve - we'd launch.

What's in the iPhone version?  Well it's a secret. But we can promise you both the great user experience we're famous for, as well as the high level of integration between your trips, our content and the device.

And that's not all of it. While the first version will be far superior to anything else out there, we're already working on version 2, and version 3...  By the end of summer, you will see at least 3 releases of WorldMate on the iPhone. We've got some catching up to do, and we have some great ideas!

Intrigued? Want to know first?  Register here and we'll email you as soon as the iPhone App is launched.

Have your own ideas? Want to tell us what you'd like the most? Comment below!

WorldMate Itinerary Generator Update: Just Added Frontier Airlines

Good news!  We've just added support for itineraries booked directly with Frontier Airlines . Frontier Airlines is a low-cost airline headquartered in Denver, Colorado,  that is quite popular with our members in the Rocky Mountains states. Frontier is now offering some very cheap flights around it's hub!

WorldMate users can now forward the confirmation emails they get from Frontier directly to trips@worldmate.com to have the flight info added to their itineraries automatically. And of course we also have flight schedulesflight status and pushed flight alerts for Frontier.
This brings the number of different companies whose emails we support to 99. Guess who'll be the 100th ?

Frontier_logo

May 22, 2009

BlackBerry Cool Names WorldMate Live: Top Summer BlackBerry Travel App

The good people at BlackBerry Cool, one of our favorite blogs, have just published a piece titled "Top 5 summer travel apps in BlackBerry App World" stating "...you’ll save your business money as well as keep focused on the important things while leaving the legwork to WorldMate". We're blushing...

May 21, 2009

WorldMate Itinerary Generator Now Supports Flybe

We are continuing to grow our parsing support for travel confirmation emails coming from European providers. We've just launched support for Flybe - Europe's largest independent regional airline carrier. Flybe was named 'Regional Airline of the Year 2009' and operates throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe. 

Flybelogo_800

So from now on our Itinerary Generator can automatically add flights booked with this airline directly to our mobile itineraries, so their details are available on your BlackBerry or Windows Mobile phone and they can be automatically tracked for you. Of course, flight schedules and flight status / alerts for Flybe are also available!

To learn more about WorldMate's Itinerary Generator and how it automatically builds your travel plans and puts them on your mobile phone - read this article.     

May 11, 2009

BlackBerry Shows Its Strength At WES2009—App Makers Take Note

We’ve just returned from WES2009 in sunny Orlando, Florida.  This is RIM’s annual event bringing together wireless operators, developers, customers, journalists, and RIM managers across the globe.  It is THE place to be for anything BlackBerry.

There were a lot of hardware and software vendors showing off their wares, but the most striking announcement came from the market research firm NPD.  It revealed that the BlackBerry Curve outsold the venerable iPhone from Jan-March this year.  In fact, NPD stated that BlackBerries comprised 3 of the top 5 bestselling smartphones:

1. RIM BlackBerry Curve 

2. Apple iPhone 

3. RIM BlackBerry Storm 

4. RIM BlackBerry Pearl 

5. T-Mobile G1

Who knew!?!

Now even though the BlackBerry App World application storefront hasn’t started shipping on any BlackBerry’s yet, the leading developers at WES2009 were unanimous in their praise for this new channel.  WorldMate Live is just one example.  Our application has been warmly received in App World—currently ranked as the #2 most downloaded app overall—and the channel is already generating many thousands of downloads a day.  The consensus is that once App World is pre-loaded on BlackBerries, the number of application downloads will skyrocket!

BlackBerryCool put together a Best of WES list highlighting some of the best new offerings at the show.  WorldMate didn’t launch anything new, but as you can see from the picture below and the #2 ranking, we’re generating a lot of buzz...  (That is yours truly in the black suit presenting to throngs of interested attendees.)

WES2009

If you are part of the BlackBerry ecosystem, don’t miss out on WES2010.


May 10, 2009

WorldMate Itineraries Now Support Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Wow... our users must be doing pretty well...  The WorldMate Itinerary Generator now supports confirmation emails coming from Fairmont Hotels and Resorts - both .pdf and HTML emails. This means you can send your Fairmont reservation to trips@worldmate.com and it will automatically be added to your itinerary.  And if you're going to a Fairmont, well - good for you!

FairmontLogo

To learn more about WorldMate Live's itinerary auto-generation and management- click here.

The World's Worst Business Travel Experiences

As you may have guessed - we see it every day. At WorldMate we get to experience all those flight delays and cancellation, lost luggage, mishandled hotel bookings and all sorts of travel mishaps - TWICE. First - because we monitor everyone's flight and itineraries - we send dozens of thousands of flight alerts every day. We track flight and airport delays, and we have users sending us thank-you notes about how we saved them from their trouble... Second - we're out there ourselves... just a few weeks ago I landed in RDU at midnight, rented a dingy Subaru to drive all the way to Pinehurst NC the next day to participate in a conference, then drove to CLT to catch a flight to Toronto... So we share your pain...


And because we do - we are now announcing the "World's Worst Business Traveler Experience" contest. What you have to do to win is very simple. Send us your worst travel horror story. It has to be up to 100 words, and all you have to do is post it as a comment right here (below). On June 1st we will bring all these stories before our esteemed panel of judges hand-picked from our team and our buddies... the best story will be featured in our next WorldMate newsletter, and the lucky winner wins an Amazon Kindle II reader, to keep him entertained on the next long wait at some airport...

So what are you waiting for? Tell it all, WorldMate Listens!

May 05, 2009

BMI and bmibaby Now Supported in Automated Itinerary

We are continuing to grow our parsing support for travel confirmation emails coming from European providers. As of this week, both bmi - British Midland Airways and bmibaby - their low-cost sister are supported. So from now on our Itinerary Creator can automatically add flights booked with these airlines directly to our mobile itineraries, so their details available on your BlackBerry or Windows Mobile phone. Of course, flight schedules and flight status / alerts for these airlines are also available!

Bmibaby_logo      BMI_logo

Microsoft: WorldMate for Windows Mobile "A frequent traveler’s best friend"

We're simply delighted... Microsoft's Total Access columnist Jason Dunn just posted a review of WorldMate Live on Windows Mobile. Some quotes - "WorldMate Live is a great solution for frequent travelers" .... "I was quite impressed—it pulled every last bit of information about my flights, including the confirmation number" ... "if you travel regularly, you'll want to download...".

We're so happy, we even promise to fix some of the glitches Jason mentions. Thanks!

May 02, 2009

The Age of Ancillary Revenue

We recently attended TravelCom and one phrase stood out amongst all others “ancillary revenue”.   This term covers the various ways in which airlines supplement their traditional revenue streams.  Some examples include charging $15-$100 to check in bags, selling sandwiches instead of giving away free snacks, and fuel surcharges.  Basically, it is code for nickel-and-diming passengers with hidden fees.

This hunt for ancillary revenue isn’t unique to airlines.  In fact, travel agencies are on their own mission to find alternative revenue streams.  Expedia, which is the largest online travel agency, just made this revealing announcement to Wall Street:

In 2008, over 60% of our revenue came from transactions involving the booking of hotel reservations, with less than 15% of our worldwide revenue derived from the sale of airline tickets. …… We have been working toward and will continue to work toward increasing the mix of advertising and media revenue from both the expansion of our TripAdvisor Media Network, as well as increasing advertising revenue from our worldwide websites such as Expedia.com and hotels.com, which have historically been focused on transaction revenue. During the first quarter of 2009, advertising and media revenue accounted for approximately 11% of worldwide revenue.

In other words, Expedia now makes almost as much revenue from selling advertising as it does from flight booking commissions.  Incredible!   What’s even more surprising is that Expedia’s TripAdvisor has launched a flight meta-search engine in which it displays the cheapest flights and actually directs you to Expedia’s competitors to book.

What is going on here?         

It started last year when the airlines responded to the oil price hikes by adding fuel surcharges and baggage fees.   It worked.   AirTran announced that it made a $28.7M profit in the first three months of 2009 with $56M in revenues coming from “other” (aka ancillary revenue).  So, even though oil is back down from $140 to $53 a barrel, there’s no sign that the airlines will walk away from this goldmine …especially with the global economic slowdown.

The online travel agencies’ move to advertising revenue has been spurred by other factors.  First, they are losing market share to the airlines’, hotels’ and car rental chains’ own websites.  Also, some of the larger online travel agencies smell blood in the water and are reducing or eliminating flight booking fees to drive out smaller rivals which are completely dependent on that revenue.  And so we get the case outlined above- Expedia is now making almost as much money driving affiliate traffic to the airlines’ sites as it is by selling the flight ticket directly to the traveler.

Is it just me, or is this getting out of control?  I can’t tell you how many times I‘ve heard fellow passengers say, “Why don’t they just raise the ticket price instead of surprising me with these ridiculous fees?”  Wouldn’t the airlines and online travel agencies be better served if they competed on value instead of price?  I’d gladly pay twice as much for the fantastic Virgin America experience, especially if they would throw in snack or two.  And as for the online travel agencies, there’s nothing wrong with a booking fee as long as it is supported by service—i.e. suggesting better flights, hotels, and vacation packages than we would find otherwise.  Come on travel industry players!  Focus on your core value proposition, make it world-class, and then charge a high enough price to earn a profit.  Seems to work for Southwest Airlines.

Check out how much you’ll have to cough up for baggage check-in on your next flight: flyingfees.com.