February 29, 2024

News briefs: Virgin Atlantic, Leonardo, AltoVita and more

Virgin Atlantic is extending and expanding its existing distribution agreement with Amadeus, including its traditional and future NDC-based content. The partners have had a global distribution deal in place since 2009.

Flights to mainland China from Manchester Airport have now returned to pre-pandemic levels following the resumption of Hainan Airlines’ fourth weekly service to Beijing. The carrier originally began operating between Manchester and the Chinese capital in 2016 and last offered four flights each week in 2020. The route has been credited as a major driver of trade, with exports to China through Manchester worth more than £1.29billion before lockdown. Flights operate from Manchester to Beijing every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, all using an Airbus A330 aircraft.

Leonardo Royal Hotel Birmingham has completed an £8million refurbishment project to modernise its 445 guest rooms and public areas. The work, which began last year, follows a recent rebrand from the Jurys Inn Birmingham, and includes a new lobby and reception area, the introduction of the new Leo’s Bar and Restaurant, and a state-of-the-art gym. Leonardo Hotels UK and Ireland now operates 52 properties with over 11,000 rooms.

Diversity Travel says its decision to launch a dedicated European operations team two years ago continues to pay off, after it won the travel account of Wageningen University in the Netherlands. The university is rated the best in the world for agricultural sciences. Diversity has grown its European business from 11 clients to more than 100 in less than two years, and recently launched French and Dutch versions of its website to attract new business.

Business and leisure destination Wyboston Lakes Resort has continued its green push with the addition of six new electric vehicle (EV) charging points, taking the total to 30. The resort has also bought an electric tractor and mower to maintain its golf course.  Wyboston Lakes, near St Neots, boasts a four-star hotel and two purpose-built conference venues.

HotelPlanner has integrated OpenAI’s artificial intelligence system ChatGPT into its new paid-for loyalty programme, Hotel Buyers Club. The chatbot will provide search and booking assistance to programme members, as well as giving personalised recommendations. The Hotel Buyers Club offers VIP-level customer service and support, a bi-weekly newsletter with travel deals and tips, and other exclusive membership benefits.

Four boutique Scandinavian hotels have been added to the Choice Hotels upscale Ascend Hotel Collection portfolio. Oscarsborg Fortress, Kongsvinger Fortress and Reenskaug Hotel, all in Norway, join alongside Sweden’s Torreby Castle.  Choice Hotels recently announced a refresh of its Ascend portfolio, which currently comprises a network of more than 70 unique, independent hotels that offer an unpretentious ‘Haven of Hygge’ for guests.

Corporate accommodation platform AltoVita is to hold its third annual Innovation Summit on June 8 at London’s SkyGarden. The day-long event will examine how data intelligence can power a smarter, safer and more sustainable future for the business travel sector, and will include focus groups, the launch of research and panel discussions with experts from Nestle, Sirva, Barclays and Schneider.