RPC Global Travels picks raffle winners

Special promotion with Mihin Air and Arpico Privilege Card

By Quintus Perera
The Richard Pieris Distributors Ltd (Arpico) Supercentre Privilege Cards have become increasingly popular among their large number of regular customers. These cards recently gained an added boost when the RPC Global Travels launched a special promotion drive with Mihin Lanka and Arpico Privilege Card from December 15th, 2007 to January 31st, 2008, where around 11,000 Privilege Card holders become eligible for a raffle draw held at RPC Global Travels office in Colombo, on Friday, February 15.

The prizes offered were as follows: 1st prize – A free air ticket to Singapore; 2nd prize – A free air ticket to Dubai and 3rd prize - a free air ticket to Bangkok.

The raffle was drawn with the participation of representatives of all three organisations who were co-partners in the promotional drive. The 1st prize was won by Shehara Pethiyagoda of Colombo, the 2nd prize winner was S. S Bandara of Piliyandala and the 3rd prize winner was Samuel Ranjan of Mt Lavinia. The winners will be notified shortly, and the prize air tickets will be awarded on February 21, at Arpico Supercentre at Hyde Park Corner. The winners of Arpico Free Shopping Spree promotional drive, will also be awarded prizes on the same occasion.

Franklyn Mendis, Managing Director, RPC Global Travels speaking on the occasion of the raffle draw said that all Privilege Card Holders who had earned 100 points during the promotional period became eligible for the draw.

He said that normally card holders who have purchased items above Rs 10,000 earned 10 points, and the same criteria applied to Mihin Lanka travellers who were cardholders.

Among others participating at the raffle draw were Nirosh Gunawardana, Executive, Mihin Lanka, Subhashini Weerasinghe, Business Development Executive, RPC Global Travels, Anil Senewiratne, Customer Relationship Manager, and Niransha Rodrigo, Marketing Trainee – CRM, both from Richard Pieris Distributors.


Aitken Spence 9-month profit up 16% to Rs 1.9 b

Sri Lanka’s leading conglomerate Aitken Spence released its Q3 financial results to the Colombo Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The blue chip reported a Rs 1.9 b profit before taxation and Rs 1.1 b profit attributable to the shareholders for the nine-months ending December 31, 2007, a growth of 15.8% and 20.7% respectively, compared with 2006.

Group Turnover increased significantly by 35.1% to Rs 18.7 b, up from Rs 13.8 b in 2006. Earnings per Share increased 20.7% from Rs 33.65 to Rs 40.63.

The Group made renewed efforts in the corporate responsibility front during the period under review, with the Company opening the Aitken Spence School of Hospitality in Ahungalla, as a joint effort of Aitken Spence PLC. The School will provide training to close to 100 rural youth from the surrounding region annually.

The Company resuscitated what used to be a closed down garments factory, with the opening of the Aitken Spence Apparels factory at the Koggala Export Processing Zone, under the “NIPAYUM SRI LANKA” 300 Enterprises Programme, initiated under the Mahinda Chinthana concept.

During the period under review, Heritance Kandalama was yet again recognized for its environmental commitment by the popular US-based Travel & Leisure magazine and Conservation International as one of the top 15 green hotels in the world. The Company is pleased to note that this recognition has raised Sri Lanka’s profile as an eco-tourism destination,

In a period which saw Aitken Spence Hotels winning many international and local accolades, The Sunday Times, UK, in its September Travel issue, named Sri Lanka’s first theme hotel, The Tea Factory, among the “World’s Best 100 Places to Stay”, while the London-based The Independent named it as one of the top five factory hotels in the world.

The Group’s leadership in tourism in the country, was officially recognised at the inaugural Presidential Awards for Travel and Tourism, winning five prestigious awards, which made it the most awarded Group. The awards were won by Heritance Kandalama- Best Five-star Resort, Aitken Spence Travels- Best Destination Management Company, Aitken Spence Conventions and Exhibitions- Best Professional Conference Organisation, Dimuthu Kumarasinghe- Best Chef and Ravindra Palagolla- Best Chauffer Guide.

The Group’s resorts in the Maldives have continued to contribute strongly to the Company’s performance. Vadhoo Island Resort, the latest addition to its Maldivian portfolio, commenced operations during the period under review.

Superior service offering and loyal clientele from amongst the international and local markets, helped improve figures from Sri Lankan resorts, despite the challenging security climate.

The Group’s first two Indian resorts, Poovar Island Resort in Kerala and Barefoot at Havelock in the Andaman Islands, commenced operations during this financial year. Five more properties located in various parts of India, are expected to commence operations in the near future.

The Company last week announced that it has signed an agreement to manage four hotel properties in Oman, becoming the first Sri Lankan company to enter the Middle East hospitality industry. Deputy Chairman and Managing Director, Aitken Spence, J.M.S. Brito commented:

“Satisfactory performance from our diversified portfolio has helped us report steady results for the nine-months under review.
The fragile security climate within the country has exposed tremendous challenges to the Economy, especially to the Tourism sector. We are confident that, given improvements in security and macroeconomic stability, would bring in greater investments into the Economy.”

Satisfactory performance was achieved from infrastructure development sector, with the Company strongly pursuing several projects within the sector in Sri Lanka and overseas.

The Group’s pioneering venture into the port efficiency management in Durban, South Africa, Africa’s busiest port, paid rich dividends during the period under review. The Company is presently evaluating similar opportunities in the continent and beyond. Meanwhile, the recent shipping agencies acquired by the Group, strengthened the profits of the Cargo Logistics sector.

The Integrated Logistics sector contributed positively to the performance, mainly due to the improved performance of the Depot, Warehouse and Transport activities, maintaining market leadership within the industry. The Freight Forwarding arm of the Group, experienced difficulties during the period under review.

The Group’s investment during the latter part of the last FY in the inward remittance market, through its Western Union agency operation, fared well during the quarter under review and has achieved a substantial increase in its agent network with over 1,000 sub agent locations islandwide.


Emirates invests in RFID trials at three airports

Emirates Airlines has announced it is partnering with London Heathrow, Dubai International and Hong Kong International airports to trial the latest RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) technology in baggage handling.

Emirates will be investing close to AED 2 million to test the effectiveness and benefits of RFID against the existing barcode tracking system. The largest-ever trial of its kind for the airline industry, some half a million bags on Emirates flights will be tagged with RFID chips over the six-month duration of the trial.

The Dubai-based airline hopes its investment will help revolutionise the way bags are tracked and monitored, and present innovative solutions to handle the increasing volumes of baggage every year as more people around the world use air travel more frequently.

Emirates Airport Services Divisional Senior Vice President Dale Griffith said, “This is about embracing the latest technology for the benefit of our customers, and we are very glad to be able to embark on this extensive trial together with our airport partners. Our investment in this project is a small price to pay to give our customers greater peace of mind.

“Previous RFID trials by other parties on a smaller scale have shown that the technology almost eliminates scanner ‘misreads,’ significantly improving the efficiency of the baggage system and customer experience. We are now applying this on a much larger scale at three major airport hubs, including Emirates’ Dubai home-base, thus allowing the trials to include most possible baggage handling scenarios, including international transit.”

With 58 of the double-decked A380 aircraft entering Emirates’ service, each doubling the number of bags handled per aircraft, the airline is keen to find innovative technologies and new ways to improve baggage handling infrastructure and safeguard the level of trust of its customers.

Griffith added, “We look forward to sharing the results of this trial with IATA, which we know will be following developments closely. If this trial is as successful as we expect, Emirates will be encouraging airports across its network to embrace this technology. This could become a new industry standard for baggage handling.”

RFID equipment has been installed at some of Emirates’ check-in desks at the three participating airports. During the trial, trained staff will apply tags containing RFID chips to bags as part of the normal check-in process. The chips contain stored information including the bag unique ID number and route. In addition to the embedded RFID chips, these tags will also continue to display the traditional bar code.

The chips are read as they pass through the airport’s baggage system, enabling effective sorting, security screening and delivery to the aircraft. Arriving bags are read on entry to the baggage system and receipted into the system for effective tracking. Essentially, the chips will enable bags to be tracked at every stage of their journey, and minimise the possibilities for mishandling baggage.

In the future, RFID technology could also make it possible for airlines to send a text-message alert to notify passengers the moment that their luggage has arrived on the baggage carousel – meaning customers will have one less thing to worry about as they begin their holiday or business trip.


Tourism Bureau picks Phoenix Ogilvy

Sri Lanka Tourism Bureau has selected Phoenix Ogilvy, leading advertising and marketing communications company, as its communication partner to promote and develop Sri Lanka tourism.

Six agencies vied for this much coveted tourism account and Phoenix Ogilvy has been singled out on the strength of their strategy, presentation and proposals. “We needed an agency to build a partnership for the development and expansion of tourism and Phoenix Ogilvy was the most suitable in terms of what they offered,” commented an SLTB Official.

The selection was done through a rigorous process of evaluation and assessment of the proposals. The pitch was led by Phoenix Ogilvy Chairman Irvin Weerackody and Ogilvy & Mather Advertising Asia Pacific Vice President David Mayo.

Mayo said of the win; “We worked hard to make sure that the strength of the Ogilvy & Mather network was put behind our submission. As a destination, Sri Lanka is at the axis of so many requirements of the 21st Century tourist and our strategy focussed on this unique combination.”

He continued, “One rarely finds such a well managed and rigorous pitch process. We are very much looking forward to working with Sri Lanka to build their destination credentials.”

Commenting on the new business win in more depth, Chairman Weerackody said, “Promoting Sri Lanka as a preferred tourist destination is not about pretty pictures, elegant phraseology or metoric. It must be driven by sound strategy. We had a good strategy in place, which was the result of extensive research done globally and locally.”

Weerackody further said, “Modern day marketing requires a connect with ethos of current tourism. Understanding the ethos of the modern day tourists to Sri Lanka requires not only demographic research but also psychographic research as a fundamental pillar of product marketing. The new tourist population seek more than sights and sounds, they want more interaction with the soul of the destination. Therefore, the brand strategy must reflect the soul of Sri Lanka. This was the basis of our thinking.”

Continuing Weerackody said, “While we believe in a philosophy of integrated marketing we were mindful of the fact that by far the largest and the most extensive tool of modem tourism marketing is the internet. That explains why more and more destination and tourism products invest ever-increasing portions of their budget to promote online. Research shows that the prospective tourists increasingly turn to online sources for destination information rather than to traditional travel agents.”

Phoenix Ogilvy in Sri Lanka has the most diverse and widest client portfolio including Coca Cola, British American Tobacco Sri Lanka, GlaxoSmithKline, Nestle, Singer Sri Lanka, DHL, Energiser, Hemas, NDB, Ceylinco Insurance, Dialog Telekom etc and employs over 200 in its group including Ogilvy Action, Ogilvy PR, Ogilvy Landscape (Outdoor) & Ogilvy Media. Ogilvy operates in 134 countries and ranks No.3 Marketing Communications Company in the world.


Sri Lanka Tourism ties up with Al Jazeera TV

Lanka Tourism reveals an aggressive plan to promote the Middle Eastern destination

Sri Lanka Tourism has joined hands with Qatar based Al Jazeera channel on a major publicity campaign targeting Arabic speaking travellers in the Middle East market.

Accordingly, a delegation headed by Deputy Tourism Minister Faiszer Musthapha visited Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar for negotiation.

“There is a need to be more aggressive in promoting the country’s image among Middle Eastern travellers. Under the advice of the President, I have made special programmes and a strategy to promote Middle Eastern travellers to Sri Lanka,” the Minister said while addressing a stakeholders’ meeting comprising tourism experts and airline operators in Doha.

He also said, “The flight connectivity for Middle East is the best out of all countries and a wealthy Arab population coupled with large number of expats will provide an ideal opportunity for Sri Lanka to be one of the most preferred destination for them which is only four and a half hours away.”

He further said, “We want to tap into the opportunities, which are abound in the Middle East because there is a lot of disposable income and they are looking for new destination in the changing geo-political situation.

The main objective of the visit was to negotiate and give exposure to Sri Lanka through Al Jazeera network.
The number of expatriates in the Middle East has increased including those from the West and Asia, especially with sound financial status and ability to travel. The Middle East market shows a growth of 31% in 2007 while other markets (except Russia) indicated a decline.

Al Jazeera assured its fullest corporation to Sri Lanka and agreed to consider this partnership beyond pure commercial terms.
Accordingly, Sri Lanka will receive editorial coverage, special interviews, exposure on the website and enhance the visibility of the English language channel.

Commenting on this partnership, Vice Chairman and Managing Director Ahmed A. Al-khulaifi said, “We are looking at this partnership beyond pure commercial transactions. There is a lot to offer from our side and we are a different media agency. We are delighted to assist Sri Lanka Tourism.”

Al Jazeera who will soon be opening their media training school has also come forward to offer special media training for Sri Lanka Tourism staff. They also responded favourably to the proposal by the Deputy Minister to establish their South Asian hub in Colombo.

The Asian-base of Al Jazeera is located in Malaysia and another centre in Colombo will provide added advantage to showcase the destination.”
The initiative with Al Jazeera will feature adverts, documentaries and talk shows on the rich diversity, investment opportunities and festivals and other interesting events of Sri Lanka.

The proposed campaign in Al Jazeera is a joint destination promotional effort between Sri Lanka Tourism and SriLankan Airlines. The campaign is expected to commence first week of March targeting holiday booking period of Middle East travellers.


SriLankan Holidays’ now 24 times better

Holiday makers will have an entire 24 hours added to their holiday to create more cherished memories as SriLankan Holidays’ gives away an extra night for free.

Valid for selected destinations, the offer is part of SriLankan Holidays new Mega 999 line up for 2008.
New to the line-up are holiday offers to Frankfurt, Paris, London, Tokyo and Ooty, giving holidaymakers 24 Mega 999 packages to choose from.

General Manager SriLankan Holidays, Amith Sumanapala said “We are very excited with the new destinations and look forward to more exciting offers throughout the year.”

“As always, we try to give holidaymakers something extra and one extra night of holiday time will definitely give holidaymakers a chance to catch up on all those last minute errands, including some more shopping.”

SriLankan Holidays offers a wide range of packages to meet the varying interests of holidaymakers, from religious tours, to family getaways and romantic holidays.

Throughout the year, the leisure arm of SriLankan Airlines also offers special interest packages like international cricket, rugby and soccer tournaments, live concerts and country specific festivals.

The Mega 999 line-up, featuring holiday offers to eleven destinations in India, six destinations in the Far East and three in Europe including a package to London, start at Rs.19,999.

Standard packages including airfare, two nights and three days star class accommodation, airport transfers and all taxes.