THE Helloworld political scandal reached new highs yesterday, when testimony presented before a Senate committee quoted former QBT chief Russell Carstensen providing details of a meeting with Australian Ambassador to the USA, Joe Hockey, which had allegedly been organised by Helloworld Travel Chief Executive Officer Andrew Burnes (TD breaking news).
Carstensen, who abruptly resigned from Helloworld Travel last year (TD 23 May 2018), had been head of the Air Tickets business and was also instrumental in QBT’s win of the Whole of Australian Government TMC contract (TD 12 Dec 2014).
He was Helloworld’s highest paid employee in 2014/15 but had his salary considerably reduced the following year after a “recalibration” of executive remuneration initiated by Burnes.
Late yesterday the company issued a formal statement from Burnes, emphatically denying the statements aired in Senate Estimates, saying “I did not organise any meetings between Russell Carstensen and Joe Hockey…Mr Carstensen’s own email of 24 Apr, 2017, shows that he organised the meeting with Mr Hockey and I was simply CCed on the email”.
Burnes denied ever having told Carstensen that Hockey “owes me” or any words to that effect, and pointed out he had never received special treatment from any Liberal Government.
He noted that the Whole of Australian Government Accommodation Management contract awarded to AOT was won under the Federal Labor Government in 2012, and that AOT was a competitor of HLO in 2015 when Helloworld won the Government TMC contract.
In Parliament yesterday Labor leader Bill Shorten announced that if elected later this year, “Helloworld will be the first item” for a newly established National Integrity Commission.
THE QT brand is set to enter South Australia with Event Hospitality & Entertainment Limited (EVENT) inking a management agreement for a QT hotel in Adelaide.
Located at 62 Currie St in the city’s CBD, the $180m development will incorporate 200 guest rooms, food and bar offerings and extensive conference and events facilities, promised to be “unlike anything seen before in Adelaide”.
The project follows a joint venture between property development and investment group Axiom Properties Limited with the site’s owner Auspac Networks Pty Ltd in Jun 2017.
EVENT CEO Jane Hastings said South Australia was “a key Australian market that has been a missing piece of our portfolio”.
“Our new partnership with Auspac Networks Pty Ltd and Axiom Properties Limited will ensure a QT experience that will be a transformative project for the city of Adelaide,” she said.
QT’s SA foray will be Adelaide’s first lifestyle hotel, and the 11th QT hotel in the group.
The property (render above) will also have 10 levels of office space designed for “a new generation of employers and employees”.
Construction is likely to commence by the end of 2019 following securing of sufficient pre-commitments for the office component and funding.
ACCORHOTELS has decided to return to “Accor” branding, and replace Le Club AccorHotels with a new lifestyle loyalty program.
The news comes more than three years after a rebrand from Accor to AccorHotels, which the company said at the time aimed to increase “clout and visibility” and to connect better to digital platforms (TD 04 Jun 2015).
Accor CEO Sebastien Bazin said the latest rebrand was because “we’ve been doing so much more than hotels”.
“Of course hotels are still going to be the core activity of Accor for the next 50 years, but we’ve added so much [to the] ecosystem, so we are getting slowly but deeply into augmented hospitality,” he said.
In early 2020, the company will also swap out its Le Club AccorHotels program for a new lifestyle loyalty program called “ALL of Accor”.
The new global platform will integrate rewards, services, and experiences and provide access to over 30 hotel brands as well as bars, restaurants, nightclubs and experiences.
This new lifestyle loyalty program will be delivered through a new app and website.
Additionally, Accor has secured three new partnerships with sports and live entertainment company, AEG; specialist sports, events, media, fashion, and culinary immersive food experience, IMG and Paris Saint-Germain Football Club.
The partnerships are set to add value for loyalty members across entertainment, dining and culinary and sports – more HERE.
AIR Vanuatu has revealed plans to introduce a non-stop service between Brisbane and Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, replacing the existing triangular service between Brisbane, Espiritu Santo and Port Vila.
From 18 Jun, the new service will operate every Tue and bring the total number of Air Vanuatu flights departing Brisbane to Vanuatu each week to five.
The flight will depart Brisbane at 11.01am and the return will leave Espiritu Santo at 4.10pm.
Air Vanuatu also offers seven non-stop flights per week from Sydney to Port Vila, Vanuatu and last month announced a non-stop service between Melbourne and Port Vila, Vanuatu, to commence on 18 Jun (TD 30 Jan).
Last year Air Vanuatu introduced a new thrice-weekly service between Brisbane and Espiritu Santo to operate during peak seasons on Wed, Fri and Sun (TD 25 Jun).
VILLAGE Roadshow Themeparks CEO Clark Kirby is in the running to become CEO of Village Roadshow Limited, following today’s announcement that current CEO Graham Burke will retire at the end of 2019.
Burke has led the company since 1988, when he became Village Roadshow’s first CEO and will remain on the VRL Board as a Non-Executive Director once a new CEO has been appointed.
“A wide-ranging, global and domestic executive search” will be conducted to find his replacement, but Kirby will be an internal candidate for the role.
The news comes as Village Roadshow released its half-year results for 2019, which saw Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) reach 12.8 million for the period, up from nil in H1 2018.
The theme parks division brought in $6.2m in NPAT in H1 2019, an increase from the $600,000 loss in H1 2018.
THE Int’l Air Services Commission has received an application from Virgin Australia seeking to renew its agreement which allocates 172 seats per week of pax capacity on the Papua New Guinea route.
TRAVEL activities and services booking platform Klook has launched in Australia.
The tours and activity platform can be used to book travel experiences, attractions, tours & connectivity (sim cards, wi-fi).
Klook supports over 40 currencies and eight different languages and offers instant booking confirmations, queue jumping, and redeemable services by using QR code e-vouchers via the Klook app.
The company launched in Australia in response to a shift it said it saw in purchasing habits “towards experiences”.
TOURISM Australia has a limited number of seats left for its annual Destination Australia Conference, which will be held in Brisbane on 14 Mar.
The event will see Australian tourism professionals gather to hear from a range of tourism, marketing and business experts at Howard Smith Wharves.
Tickets are $450 including GST and registration is available via www.tourism.australia.com/DestAus19.
VAIL Resorts today confirmed the expansion of its Australian ski resort portfolio, with the $174 million acquisition of Falls Creek and Mt Hotham in Vic from Merlin Entertainments.
The deal was foreshadowed late last year (TD 21 Dec 2018) and is expected to be settled before the start of the 2019 ski season.
Vail said it planned to retain the “vast majority” of staff, and that the 2019 Epic Australia Pass and 2018-19 Epic Pass were expected to provide unlimited, unrestricted access to Falls Creek and Hotham alongside NSW’s Perisher Ski Resort and Vail resorts in the US, Canada and more.
TRAVEL commerce platform Travelport has renewed its partnership with BCD Travel.
The agreement will see Travelport Digital continue to collaborate on BCD Travel’s digital traveller engagement solution, TripSource, which allows travellers to shop and book air, hotel and car services.
“We’re delighted to continue our relationship with Travelport, who share our mission to deliver a simple, digital, adaptive and global experience for travellers,” BCD Travel Vice President Product Strategy Will Pinnell said.
“Our longstanding alliance offers us immense value as we strive to lead the corporate travel industry in innovation that translates into tangible value for businesses and a superior experience for their travellers.”
For more information on TripSource and to download the app, CLICK HERE.