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The travel sector has diversified significantly over the past decade, with travel start-ups founded between 2008 and 2018 receiving more than $19bn through funding and acquisitions. This has introduced more competition within the sector, particularly with regards to the ground transportation market, which has seen several extremely large funding rounds in the past 12 months. In August, automotive giant Toyota invested $500m in Uber, while car-sharing service Getaround snagged $300m in the same month.

Larger travel brands have also increased their offerings to expand their already substantial market shares. In April last year, hotel and home rentals site Booking.com announced it was “trying to create a [holistic] system” by incorporating restaurant, rental car and flight booking options into its existing site.

Airbnb has taken this model even further: in 2017, it launched Airbnb Experiences, or activities that allow customers to take advantage of residents’ knowledge and experience local culture. After seeing 2,500 percent growth in experience bookings in 2017, the home rentals platform announced plans to expand the model to more than 1,000 cities in 2018.

Affluent customers are increasingly expecting a customisable experience, which hotels have delivered by providing a personalised service based on guests’ interests

Originality is key

Affluent customers are increasingly expecting a customisable experience, which hotels have been able to deliver by providing a personalised service based on guests’ interests. Instagram has proved a particularly productive way for hotels to publicise this aspect of their services, with many businesses working with industry influencers to promote options such as personalised dining choices or having their initials monogrammed onto hotel amenities.

Time and space

Flight operators are also tapping into this customisable model, with many adopting a ‘pay for what you use’ approach to both long and short-haul air travel. In April, airline alliance SkyTeam, which includes KLM, Air France and Delta, was the first group of operators to introduce lower-cost tickets for long-haul flights that did not include catering or checked baggage. Meanwhile, in November, Ryanair – Europe’s largest airline – made it compulsory for passengers to pay separately to bring a second item of luggage into the cabin, where previously this had been included in the cost of a ticket. The airline said the policy would reduce delays as a result of people struggling to find space in overhead lockers on busy flights – however, the move sparked outcry from passengers.

From low budget to high end, some airline operators are introducing long-haul flights with no stopovers on popular routes, for which customers pay a premium. In March, Qantas introduced a non-stop flight from London to Perth, covering a distance of 14,529km. Singapore Airlines followed in its footsteps in October by re-introducing its Singapore to New York route, which takes 18 hours and 45 minutes and covers 16,700km. The Airbus A350-900 ULR aircraft that flies this route has no economy-class seats, which the airline said was in order to “market [itself] as a premium service provider”. These routes have proved particularly popular with corporate travellers, as it has allowed many to streamline the amount of time spent travelling between international commercial partners or offices.

Thick skin

The next 12 months are likely to be characterised by upheaval, particularly in Europe. The UK’s impending exit from the EU is likely to have a major impact on continental travel, with the initial transition period set to be marked by significant uncertainty with regards to freedom of movement and travel visas. The travel providers that react quickly and continue to deliver a value-based offering to business and leisure consumers are the most likely to emerge unscathed from this challenging period.

With this in mind, Business Destinations has assembled a list of the most innovative and adaptable travel facilitators across the world. Take a look at our awards list, which includes everything from the best business class airlines to the top boutique hotels. Congratulations to all the winners.

Global Best MICE Cruise Company Celebrity Cruises US Tel: +1 800 722 5934 www.celebritycruises.com Best Sustainable Tour Operator &Beyond South Africa Tel: +27 11 809 4300 www.andbeyond.com Best Tour Operator Trailfinders UK Tel: +44 20 7084 6500 www.trailfinders.com Best Currency Exchange Oanda US Tel: +1 212 858 7690 www.oanda.com Best International Hotel Group Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Canada Tel: +1 800 819 5053 www.fourseasons.com Best Insurance Provider Allianz Germany Tel: +49 893 8000 www.allianz.com Best Car Rental Company DriveNow Germany Tel: +49 89 2018 0280 www.drive-now.com/de Best Airport Loyalty Scheme Strata Club New Zealand Tel: +64 9275 0789 www.aucklandairport.co.nz/strata-club Best Concierge Service John Paul France Tel: +33 14 289 8500 www.johnpaul.com Best In-Room Technology Smart Room by AccorHotels France Tel: +33 871 663 0624 www.accorhotels.com Best Online Booking Company Virgin Holidays UK Tel: +44 344 739 0063 www.virginholidays.co.uk Best Travel Management App TripIt US Tel: +1 415 684 7258 www.tripit.com
Europe Best Spa Resort Grand Hotel Tremezzo Italy Tel: +39 0 3444 2491 www.grandhoteltremezzo.com Best Airport Munich Airport Germany Tel: +49 899 7500 www.munich-airport.com Best Economy Airline Finnair Finland Tel: +358 9818 0800 www.finnair.com Best Business Hotel Corinthia Hotel Budapest Hungary Tel: +36 1479 4000 www.corinthia.com/hotels/budapest Best Business Class Airline Swiss International Air Lines Switzerland Tel: +41 848 700 700 www.swiss.com Best Budget Accommodation Provider Ganimede Hotel Greece Tel: +30 22 6504 1328 www.ganimede.gr Best Luxury Hotel Egerton House Hotel UK Tel: +44 20 7589 2412 www.egertonhousehotel.com Best Fixed-Base Operator Eccelsa Aviation Italy Tel: +39 078 956 3480 www.eccelsa.com Best Congress and Convention Centre Congress Centre Messe Frankfurt Germany Tel: +49 69 7575 3411 www.congressfrankfurt.messefrankfurt.com Best Destination for MICE Croatian National Tourist Board Croatia Tel: +385 1 4699 333 www.htz.hr Best Meetings and Conference Centre Square Brussels Meeting Centre Belgium Tel: +32 2 515 1300 www.square-brussels.com Best Destination for Cultural Tourism VisitTallinn Estonia Tel: +372 645 7777 www.visittallinn.ee
North America Best Budget Accommodation Provider Microtel Inn & Suites US Tel: +1 888 222 2142 www.wyndhamhotels.com/microtel Best Spa Resort The Resort at Pedregal Mexico Tel: +52 624 163 4300 www.theresortatpedregal.com Best Airport Portland International Airport US Tel: +1 503 460 4234 www.flypdx.com Best Business Class Airline Delta Air Lines Tel: +1 800 221 1212 www.delta.com Best Economy Airline Air Canada Tel: +1 514 393 3333 www.aircanada.com Best Boutique Hotel 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge US Tel: +1 347 696 2500 www.1hotels.com/brooklyn-bridge Best Business Hotel Ritz-Carlton, Montréal Canada Tel: +1 51 4842 4212 www.ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/canada/montreal Best Luxury Hotel The Langham, Chicago US Tel: +1 312 923 9988 www.langhamhotels.com/en/the-langham/chicago/ Best Congress and Convention Centre Hawaii Convention Centre US Tel: +1 808 943 3500 www.meethawaii.com/convention-center/ Best Destination for MICE Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau US Tel: +1 617 536 4100 www.bostonusa.com Best Destination for Cultural Tourism OCV León Mexico Tel: +52 477 763 4401 www.ocvleon.com Best Meetings and Conference Centre South San Francisco Conference Centre US Tel: +1 65 0877 8787 www.ssfconf.com
South America Best Budget Accommodation Provider Hotel Torre Dorada Peru Tel: +51 8424 1698 www.torredorada.com Best Spa Resort Charming Luxury Lodge and Private Spa Argentina Tel: +54 29 4446 2889 www.charming-bariloche.com Best Airport Carrasco International Airport Uruguay Tel: +598 2604 0329 www.aeropuertodecarrasco.com.uy Best Business Class Airline Avianca Colombia Tel: +57 5330 2030 www.avianca.com/co Best Economy Airline Azul Airlines Brazil Tel: +55 11 4003 3255 www.voeazul.com.br Best Boutique Hotel Tropical Hotel Manaus Brazil Tel: +55 92 3305 7999 www.tropicalmanaus.com.br Best Business Hotel Radisson Hotel Colonia del Sacramento Uruguay Tel: +598 4523 0460 www.radissoncolonia.com Best Luxury Hotel Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel Peru Tel: +51 8421 1059 www.machupicchuhotels-sumaq.com Best Congress and Convention Centre Sheraton Santiago Hotel and Convention Centre Chile Tel: +56 2 2233 5000 www.sheraton.marriott.com Best Destination for MICE The Greater Medellin Convention and Visitors Bureau Colombia Tel: +574 261 6060 www.bureaumedellin.com Best Meetings and Conference Centre Reboucas Convention Centre Brazil Tel: +55 11 3898 7850 www.convencoesreboucas.com.br Best Destination for Cultural Tourism Centro de Exposiciones Quito Ecuador Tel: +593 2244 7751 www.expoceq.ec
Middle East Best Travel Management Company Al Futtaim Travel Dubai Tel: +971 800 2382 www.alfuttaimtravel.com Best Spa Resort Al Areen Palace and Spa Bahrain Tel: +973 1784 5000 www.alareenpalace.com Best Airport Hamad International Airport Qatar Tel: +974 4010 6666 www.dohahamadairport.com Best Business Hotel Sheraton Oman Hotel Oman Tel: +968 2237 7777 www.sheratonoman.com Best Economy Airline Emirates UAE Tel: +971 6 0055 5555 www.emirates.com Best Business Class Airline Oman Air Oman Tel: +968 2453 1111 www.omanair.com Best boutique Hotel Zubarah Hotel Doha Qatar Tel: +974 4447 0000 www.zubarahhotels.com Best Luxury Hotel Hormuz Grand Muscat Oman Tel: +968 2435 0500 www.radissoncollection.com/en/hormuz-grand-hotel Best Congress and Convention Centre Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Centre Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Tel: +966 1 1200 6677 www.ricec.com.sa Best Destination for MICE Visit Dubai UAE Tel: +971 6 0055 5559 www.visitdubai.com Best Meetings and Conference Centre Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre Abu Dhabi Tel: +971 0 2444 6900 www.adnec.ae Best Destination for Cultural Tourism Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi Tel: +97 1 6556 6777 www.visitsharjah.com
Africa Best Budget Accommodation Provider Le Riad Berbère Morocco Tel: + 212 524 381 910 www.leriadberbere.com Best Spa Resort Camelot Spa at the Grand Palm Botswana Tel: +267 363 7777 www.grandpalm.bw/things-to-do/camelot-spa Best Airport Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport Mauritius Tel: +230 603 8000 www.mauritius-airport.atol.aero Best Business Hotel, Rwanda Radisson Blu Hotel and Conference Centre, Kigali Rwanda Tel: +250 252 252 252 www.radissonblu.com/en/hotel-kigali Best Economy Airline Air Seychelles Seychelles Tel: +248 439 1000 www.airseychelles.com Best Business Class Airline Ethiopian Airlines Ethiopia Tel: +251 116 656 666 www.ethiopianairlines.com Best Business Hotel, Senegal Radisson Blu Hotel, Dakar Sea Plaza Senegal Tel: +221 338 693 333 www.radissonblu.com/en/hotel-dakar Best Luxury Hotel Elsa’s Kopje Lodge Kenya Tel: +254 730 127 000 www.elsaskopje.com Best Congress and Convention Centre Radisson Blu Hotel and Conference Centre, Kigali Rwanda Tel: +250 252 252 252 www.kigalicc.com Best Destination for MICE South Africa Tourism South Africa Tel: +27 118 953 000 www.southafrica.net Best Meetings and Conference Centre Kenyatta International Convention Centre Kenya Kenya Tel: +254 203 261 000 www.kicc.co.ke Best Destination for Cultural Tourism Serengeti National Park Tanzania Tel: +255 272 503 471 www.serengeti.com
Asia Best Budget Accommodation Provider Red Planet Thailand Tel: +66 2613 5888 www.redplanethotels.com/country/thailand Best Spa Resort Meeru Island Resort & Spa Maldives Tel: +960 664 3157 www.meeru.com Best Airport Seoul Incheon Airport South Korea Tel: +82 215 772 600 www.airport.kr Best Business Class Airline Japan Airlines Japan Tel: +81 570 025 121 www.jal.co.jp Best Economy Airline EVA Air Taiwan Tel: +886 225 011 999 www.evaair.com Best Boutique Hotel Hanging Gardens of Bali Bali Tel: +62 361 982 700 www.hanginggardensofbali.com Best Business Hotel The Peninsula Hong Kong Hong Kong Tel: +852 2920 2888 www.peninsula.com/en/hong-kong Best Luxury Hotel Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, Maldives Maldives Tel: +960 400 6000 www.tajhotels.com/en-in/taj/taj-exotica-maldives Best Congress and Convention Centre Pattaya Exhibition and Convention Hall Thailand Tel: +66 3825 0421 www.peachthailand.com Best Destination for MICE Jeju Convention and Visitors Bureau South Korea Tel: +82 6473 9220 610 www.jejucvb.or.kr Best Meetings and Conference Centre Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi Vietnam Tel: +84 243 826 6919 www.sofitel-legend-metropole-hanoi.com Best Destination for Cultural Tourism Tourism Luang Prabang Laos Tel: +856 7121 2487 www.tourismluangprabang.org
Australasia Best Budget Accommodation Provider The Wheelhouse Inn New Zealand Tel: +64 35 468 391 www.wheelhouse.co.nz Best Spa Resort Gaia Retreat and Spa Australia Tel: +61 26 6871 216 www.gaiaretreat.com.au Best Airport Sydney Airport Australia Tel: +61 29 667 6111 www.sydneyairport.com.au Best Business Class Airline Qantas Australia Tel: +61 2 9691 3636 www.qantas.com Best Economy Airline Air New Zealand New Zealand Tel: +64 93 573 000 www.airnewzealand.co.nz Best Boutique Hotel Limes Hotel Australia Tel: +61 738 529 000 www.limeshotel.com.au Best Business Hotel The Warwick Fiji Fiji Tel: +679 653 0555 www.warwickhotels.com/fiji-resort Best Luxury Hotel Lamana Hotel Papua New Guinea Tel: +675 323 2333 www.lamanahotel.com.pg Best Congress and Convention Centre Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre Australia Tel: +61 392 358 000 www.mcec.com.au Best Destination for MICE The Timber Yard Australia Tel: +61 390 703 470 www.thetimberyard.com.au Best Meetings and Conference Centre Pullman Auckland New Zealand Tel: +64 9353 1000 www.pullmanauckland.co.nz Best Destination for Cultural Tourism Sydney Opera House Australia Tel: +61 292 507 111 www.sydneyoperahouse.com