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Germans opt for staycations as virus fears linger



Germans usually love their sun-soaked summer holidays abroad. But fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections have prompted a new holiday destination of choice: their home country.

On a recent public holiday, it was only 17 degrees Celsius (62 degrees Fahrenheit) in the seaside resort of Binz on the island of Ruegen.

But in the bright sunshine, with families playing ball on a sandy beach and couples lounging around with ice creams, it already felt like the height of summer.

It was almost as though the virus and weeks of lockdown since mid-March had all been a bad dream.

Few of the tourists wandering along the promenade were observing social distancing rules, and apart from restaurant staff and ice cream sellers, no one was wearing a mask.

A seagull flies over a beach in the seaside resort of Binz, on the island of Ruegen in northern Germany. PHOTO: AFP / John MACDOUGALL

At the start of this week, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the northern German state least affected by the coronavirus pandemic, reopened its hotels, initially just for locals. From Monday, Germans from all over the country will be able to join the fun.

For local resident Regina, it’s a relief to see people milling around again on the promenade on the Baltic Sea, with its pretty white houses.

“It is nice. We’ve been feeling very lonely in Binz lately,” the 69-year-old said.

“It feels good, liberating, to be here again!” said Julia Holz, 34, who came to Binz with her husband and two children to visit family and enjoy the beach.

‘Sense of security’

While half of Germans like to spend their summer holidays elsewhere in Europe, with Spain the top destination, more than a third preferred a staycation even before the coronavirus, according to official statistics.

Apart from Ruegen and the Baltic Sea coast, Bavaria is also a popular choice, with its mountains and romantic castles.

But this year, according to Munich-based tour operator FTI Group, demand for holidays at home has gone through the roof.

“Bookings by German holidaymakers in their own country are well ahead,” said director Ralph Schiller, noting a “clear upward trend” in stays of at least one week compared to last year.

This is partly down to continued uncertainty around travel restrictions.

But even if borders are reopened, tourists will still have many unknowns to navigate, according to Norbert Kunz, president of the German Tourism Federation.

“What security measures are in place? What happens if a new wave of coronavirus breaks out in the destination country or at home, and if it leads to new travel restrictions?” he points out.

Compared to its neighbours France and Italy, Germany has so far managed to stay on top of the crisis and prevent its hospitals from being overwhelmed.

There is a “sense of security” in staying at home, according to Binz resident Regina, who won’t be holidaying abroad this year.

Rooms kept empty

Germany is preparing to lift an official ban and allow travel to some European countries from mid-June, meaning trips to the Mediterranean will theoretically be back on the menu.

But politicians are taking pains to keep stressing the risks.

“Be under no illusions: There will be no quick return to ‘business as usual’,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has warned.

A woman on her paddle board at the seaside resort of Binz, on the island of Ruegen in northeastern Germany. PHOTO: AFP / John MACDOUGALL

Having brought home some 240,000 Germans stranded abroad in recent weeks, the government has warned there will not be another costly effort on this scale in the event of a second wave of the virus.

Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder has even proposed introducing bonuses such as tax breaks to promote holidays in Germany, especially for less wealthy families.

But there remains “the problem of accommodation capacity for holidaymakers”, stresses Aage Duenhaupt, a spokesman for tour operator TUI — plus the fact that virus regulations still differ from region to region.

In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, hotels are permitted to use only 60 percent of their capacity, while in other regions there are no limits.

A woman plays volleyball with her son at the seaside resort of Binz, on the island of Ruegen in northeastern Germany. PHOTO: AFP / John MACDOUGALL

“We hope this restriction will be lifted soon, perhaps next week,” said Oliver Gut, director of a boutique hotel chain in Binz.

“The situation remains very tense” financially, according to Kunz of the tourism federation.

He estimates that the sector lost around 35 billion euros ($38 billion) in revenues between March and May, and is calling for a state support plan with immediate aid and investment.

“It will be a long time before we get back to normal,” he said.

Reporting and photo: AFP


Emirates undertakes largest known fleet retrofit project



Emirates has kick-started its plans to upgrade the entire interior cabins of 120 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft – two of the largest commercial aircraft types in service today.

This ambitious project, representing a multi-billion dollar investment to ensure Emirates’ customers “fly better” for the coming years, officially commences in November and is managed entirely by Emirates’ Engineering team.

The target is to completely retrofit four Emirates aircraft from start to finish every month, continuously for over 2 years. Once the 67 earmarked A380s are refreshed and back in service, 53 777s will undergo their facelift. This will see nearly 4,000 brand new Premium Economy seats installed, 728 First Class suites refurbished and over 5,000 Business Class seats upgraded to a new style and design when the project is complete in April 2025.

In addition, carpets and stairs will be upgraded, and cabin interior panels refreshed with new tones and design motifs including the iconic ghaf trees which are native to the UAE.

No other airline has handled a retrofit of this magnitude in-house, and there’s no blueprint for such an undertaking. Therefore Emirates Engineering teams have been planning and testing extensively, to establish and streamline processes, and identify and address any possible snags.

Trials began on an A380 in July, where experienced engineers literally took each cabin apart piece-by-piece and logged every step. From removing seats and panelling to bolts and screws, every action was tested, timed and mapped out. Potential impediments to completing the installation of Emirates’ new Premium Economy Class or the retrofit of the remaining three cabins in just 16 days were flagged and documented for expert teams to review and address.

As part of the programme, new purpose-built workshops will be set up at Emirates Engineering to repaint, re-trim and re-upholster Business and Economy Class seats with new covers and cushioning. First Class suites will be carefully disassembled and sent to a specialised company to replace the leather, arm rests and other materials.

From the trials, Engineers discovered several unexpected solutions for instance: that existing food catering trucks could be easily repurposed to move parts destined for refurbishment from the aircraft to the workshop for their refresh, as these vehicles had doors of the right width and offer sufficient space.

Until the retrofit programme starts in earnest in November, a cross-disciplinary team has been assembled to regularly review the planning process, address any issues, and track updates on various aspects of the project such as procurement, staffing, and training.

Emirates’ new Premium Economy cabin class, which offers luxurious seats, more legroom, and a service to rival many airlines’ business offering, is currently available to Emirates customers travelling on popular A380 routes to London, Paris, Sydney. More customers will be able to experience the airline’s new Premium Economy cabins starting from year end, as the retrofit programme picks up momentum.

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Eleanor helps over 30 Maldives hotels elevate guest services



Eleanor has been named as one of the top 10 concierge software providers globally.

Based on accurate, timely reviews from real users, the HotelTechAwards rank the world’s best hotel software firms and products and it also provides hoteliers direct access to a growing network of hotel technology professionals and decision-makers.

“The guest experience is the cornerstone of our platform. Our unified resort wide solution, Eleanor, has been built for resorts off the back of many years working in the industry and addresses the needs of both Sales and Marketing departments and perhaps just as importantly, the operational requirements of the team on the ground at the property. The days of resorts working with disjointed systems are now behind us,” says Darren Caple, co-founder and CEO.

“We are on a mission to make the guest’s resort experience as easy and as frictionless as possible. Whereas traditional providers in the market have come at this purely from a guest communication perspective, our background in resorts has allowed us to combine this basic requirement with the streamlining of operational processes. The result is truly a resort wide solution that removes the need for countless different systems to be deployed.

Eleanor allows resorts to deliver consistent, superior service levels to guests across all stages of their journey with contactless features helping to alleviate sensitive touch-points in the post pandemic period. More than 30 properties in the Maldives use our Eleanor platform to help butlers and guest services elevate the guest experience. These properties are seeing an increase in incremental revenue by over 30% and operational efficiencies of 600+ man hours per month. We are also beginning to roll out the platform in some Caribbean properties!”

Eleanor is making waves in the hospitality industry by pushing the conventional limits of what a resort guest app can achieve through its unique ability to facilitate direct bookings for services and activities. The traditional ‘request to book’ feature that is common amongst almost all other hotel apps is removed by a power booking and operational platform sitting at the heart of the solution that covers all the resorts’ departments. It’s this module which realises enormous operational benefits and insights for the resort.

“We, at Eleanor, are humbled and honoured that our clients have provided such positive reviews. Feedback from our clients, partners and hoteliers are incredibly valuable for us and we will continue to improve our offering and services”, said Caple.

To celebrate this success, Eleanor is currently offering resorts a free one month trial, together with free setup and training and discounted monthly fees.

Eleanor, founded in 2018 and has its headquarters in the United Kingdom. Created from over 15 years of hands-on expertise, Eleanor allows resorts to deliver consistent, superior service levels to its guests across all stages of their journey with contactless features helping to alleviate sensitive touch-points in the post pandemic period. Eleanor also helps to unlock operational efficiencies and boost incremental revenue and guest loyalty.

Hotel Tech Report’s Best Concierge Software 2022 Runner Up, reviewed as a preferred and reliable hotel software product by the global hotelier community.

For more information, visit

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Emirates’ recruiters scour the world for cabin crew talent with 30 city stops



Emirates, the world’s most global airline, is seeking talented people with a passion for service to join its award-winning cabin crew team.

As air travel returns with a vengeance, the airline’s recruiters are busy meeting and hiring candidates in 30 cities from now until the end of June. In this latest drive, Emirates’ teams will travel from Australia to the UK, and dozens of European cities in between, as well as Cairo, Algiers, Tunis and Bahrain.

Abdulaziz Al Ali, Emirates Group’s Executive Vice President for Human Resources said: “There’s no more exciting airline than Emirates for anyone interested in a flying career, and we’ve received tremendous interest since we began our recruitment drive for cabin crew in November.”

“While parts of the application process are done online, we always make the effort to meet our candidates in person whenever we can, and that is why our Talent Acquisition team is doing a whirlwind 30-city tour over the next 6 weeks to assess prospective candidates.”

Emirates’ truly global cabin crew team represent 160 nationalities, reflecting its customer mix and international operations in over 130 cities on six continents.

All Emirates crew are based in the exciting cosmopolitan city of Dubai, with company-provided accommodation, tax-free salary and more benefits.

Interested candidates can read more about the Emirates cabin crew role, and apply online at:

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