New Executive Board at PATA

… Jr., Chairman – Global Tour Ltd., Korea (ROK); Jennifer Chun, Director, Tourism Research – Hawaii Tourism Authority, USA; Oliver Martin, Partner …

Soon-Hwa Wong has been formally endorsed as the Chair of the e Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Executive Board and replaces Dr. Chris Bottrill who was elected Chair in May 2018 and remains a member of the Executive Board as Immediate Past Chair.

On his appointment, Soon-Hwa said, “It is indeed an honour to be given the privilege to serve PATA members, especially in a time like this. PATA will celebrate a significant milestone, our 70th Anniversary, next year. We are embarking on a comprehensive organisation redesign that will transform PATA into an association that will lead the tourism industry into the post-Covid future and beyond. Together with our industry partners from both the public and private sector, we will commit to sustainable tourism development to benefit the economic well-being of the community at large. Come join us in our journey to build a safer and better world.”

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Top Row: L/R: Soon-Hwa Wong, Chair – PATA and CEO – AsiaChina Pte Ltd., Singapore; Hai Ho, Vice Chair – PATA and CEO – Triip Pte. Ltd., Singapore; Suman Pandey, Secretary/Treasurer – PATA and President – Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, Nepal; Dr. Chris Bottrill, Immediate Past Chair – PATA and Director – International, Capilano University, Canada; Andrew Jones FIH. CHA, Guardian – Sanctuary Resorts, Hong Kong SAR; Benjamin Liao, Chairman – Forte Hotel Group, Chinese Taipei; and Dr. Fanny Vong, President – Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM), Macao, China. Bottom Row: L/R: Henry Oh, Jr., Chairman – Global Tour Ltd., Korea (ROK); Jennifer Chun, Director, Tourism Research – Hawaii Tourism Authority, USA; Oliver Martin, Partner – Twenty31 Consulting Inc., Canada; Peter Semone, Founder and President – Destination Human Capital Limited, Timor Leste; Vinoop Goel, Regional Director – Airports & External Relations, International Air Transportation Association (IATA), Singapore; Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director – Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Macao, China; and Supawan Teerarat, Senior VP, Strategic Business Development & Innovation – Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Thailand.

Soon Hwa has some 40 years of extensive experience in the Asia Pacific tourism and hospitality industry. After a long and successful corporate career, he founded Asia Tourism to provide advisory and consulting services to commercial and not-for-profit enterprises. He recently set up AsiaChina, primarily focusing on the two-way tourism flow between China and the APAC region. As part of paying it forward, he is also providing pro-bono services in mentoring start-ups and university students in his alma mater in addition to serving in several social committees.

He started the Hertz Asia Pacific office in Singapore in 1993. As Vice President – Asia, he built a comprehensive regional network, reinforcing Hertz ‘s position as global market leader. He spent 3 years in Shanghai from 2007 to 2010 and opened the first 100% foreign owned car rental company in China. After Hertz, as Regional Director – Asia Pacific, he helped Blacklane GmbH establish the APAC regional office in Singapore and built a service network covering some 80 cities. Blacklane is a new tech professional chauffeur drive service provider offering rides in some 300 cities and 60 countries globally. Prior to joining Hertz, he was Regional Manager – South East Asia for Air New Zealand.

A Bachelor of Business Administration graduate of the National University of Singapore, he is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK and attended the Stanford Executive Program. Soon Hwa’s long association with PATA dates back to 1996 and he has served in various capacities over the years. Presently serving as Chairman of the PATA Singapore Chapter, Soon Hwa is also the recipient of the PATA Life Member Award in 2018 and PATA Award of Merit in 2008.

During the PATA Board Meeting held virtually on Monday, October 12, 2020, PATA also elected six new members to its Executive Board including Hai Ho, CEO – Triip Pte. Ltd., Singapore; Suman Pandey, President – Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, Nepal; Andrew Jones FIH. CHA, Guardian – Sanctuary Resorts, Hong Kong SAR; Dr. Fanny Vong, President – Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM), Macao, China; Oliver Martin, Partner – Twenty31 Consulting Inc., Canada, and Peter Semone, Founder and President – Destination Human Capital Limited, Timor Leste.

Other Executive Board members include Benjamin Liao, Chairman – Forte Hotel Group, Chinese Taipei; Jennifer Chun, Director, Tourism Research – Hawaii Tourism Authority, USA; Vinoop Goel, Regional Director – Airports & External Relations, International Air Transportation Association (IATA), Singapore, and Henry Oh, Jr., Chairman – Global Tour Ltd., Korea (ROK).

Hai Ho and Suman Pandey were elected as the new Vice Chairman and Secretary/Treasurer, respectively.

Hai Ho said, “Being one of the youngest elected Vice Chair at an important organisation with a deep history like PATA is the biggest honour I have ever received. I take on this role to contribute my part to both PATA and the global sustainable travel movement which is growing with strength and resilience around the world. I am mindful that we are still living in a COVID-19 world where our fellow tour guides, travel agents, hoteliers, etc. are fighting against all odds to keep travellers safe and sound.

I am mindful that the world we are living in now, will not be the world we will live in tomorrow. Therefore, I remind myself every day to waste no time and seize any moment to learn from other PATA members, so that I can utilise my energy and knowledge to help our industry in any way I can contribute.”

Hai Ho is a high-impact entrepreneur and head of Triip, an unrivalled travel-cum-tech company incorporated in Singapore. He has 12 years of experience in high-growth firms building a range of tech products like payment gateway products, social networks, wearable hardware, community apps, and eBook apps to name a few. Hai’s experience in start-up creation and understanding in the global travel industry led him to create Triip.me, a platform that at its core is a network of accommodation and personalized tours made available to a broad audience of millions. The network’s competitive advantage is its ability for anyone around the world to create, execute and be paid for a tour using Triip.me. Through Triip’s tech-centric positioning and expertise, Hai has launched a first-to-market blockchain network called the Triip Protocol. Hai and his team are crafting a cryptocurrency that will enable travel service providers to connect directly with travellers in a new, decentralized marketplace that will drive down costs of both client acquisition and travel itself. Through the firm, Hai has advanced a sustainability-driven business philosophy of at the core of its vision. In four years, it’s created jobs for locals in 100 countries, which have made it a darling of a financial coverage in publications including The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes and The Next Web. Triip was also one of 512 members of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics – a programme by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

Suman Pandey is a well-known figure in Nepalese Tourism and President of Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure, a well-known name for diverse and innovative operations. He is also the CEO of Fishtail Air, a Nepalese helicopter company; Director of Summit Air, a fixed wing operator catering to tourists going to the Mt. Everest area; Director of the biggest business complex in Nepal, “Chhaya Centre”, a multi-faceted Mega Complex that includes a five star managed by Starwood under the “Aloft” brand; President of the Himalaya Academy of Travel and Tourism, an academy imparting tourism related vocational trainings, and President of Himalayan Pre- Fab Pvt. Ltd, a company specializing on making eco-friendly prefabricated homes. His remarkable contributions in the Nepalese Tourism Industry have made him eligible for various titles and decorations including “Suprasidha Gorkha Dakshin Bahu” from the King of Nepal in 2004; “Tourism Icon” by the Nepal Association of Tourism Journalists in 2018; a “Lifetime Achievement Award” by tourism publication Gantabya Nepal in 2017; “Tourism Man of the year” by Gantabya Nepal in 2010; and a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for contributions in tourism by the “American Biographical Institute” (ABI) based in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA in 2008, to name a few.

Furthermore, Maria Helena de Senna Fernandes, Director – Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO), Macao, China and Supawan Teerarat, Senior VP, Strategic Business Development & Innovation – Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau (TCEB), Thailand have been appointed to the Executive Board as non-voting members.

The new Executive Board members were confirmed at the PATA Annual General Meeting held online on October 14, 2020.

Taxi firms face claims over drivers’ rights in wake of Uber case

The battle for rights for gig economy workers is stepping up as the union behind legal action against Uber targets three taxi firms that say their drivers are not entitled to holiday pay or the minimum wage. Green Tomato Cars, which calls itself “London’s green and ethical car service”, luxury airport transfer …

The battle for rights for gig economy workers is stepping up as the union behind legal action against Uber targets three taxi firms that say their drivers are not entitled to holiday pay or the minimum wage.

Green Tomato Cars, which calls itself “London’s green and ethical car service”, luxury airport transfer specialist Blacklane and Birmingham’s A2B are facing claims from former drivers who say they are “workers” and not independent contractors as the car firms insist.

The cases are backed by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) union, which has won a string of successful cases on worker status, including against Uber. The ride-hailing app is to challenge the ruling at the court of appeal.

An employment tribunal test case backed by the GMB union also found that some Addison Lee drivers had been wrongly classed as self-employed. Addison Lee has been granted the right to appeal against the case.

“The bogus classification of private hire drivers as independent contractors in order to deprive them of employment rights is rampant across the sector. It’s not just Uber and Addison Lee,” Jason Moyer-Lee, the general secretary of the IWGB, said.

Nelson Salei, a former driver for Green Tomato, says he is a worker and so is entitled to be reimbursed unpaid holiday pay.

Salei worked for the private hire group for several months last year, usually on five-day rolling contracts. He left after claiming he was not paid for several days of a contract after a dispute over a fare that was booked but did not turn up. He said the non-payment just before Christmas “was really frustrating”. “I wanted to have a comfortable Christmas but I had to ask people to lend me money,” he said.

Salei earned £20 an hour on the contract, under which he promised to work only for Green Tomato and turn down work from other companies such as Uber, but estimates that he took home less than half of that after paying for petrol, insurance, maintenance and leasing his car. He says he never asked for holiday pay. “I didn’t know much about my rights,” he said.

Green Tomato Cars said it “prides itself on being an ethical company and, in particular, in our relationship with drivers”.

“We have discussed the situation with Mr Salei and his union representative through the Acas mediation process, and maintain our position that there are no grounds for his claim,” it added.

“We will of course comply with the requirements of the tribunal, where we expect to successfully defend the claim.”

Mariusz Jakubowski, who worked for Blacklane in Glasgow, until just before Christmas last year, said he didn’t receive a set rate for jobs. The app works by offering a rate for a job in a particular area that gradually increases until a driver takes it up.

Jakubowski left after he was fined by the company when a customer complained he handed them a personal business card, something he denies doing. He said he had rented out his car and stopped private-hire driving after leaving Blacklane. “I was earning good money,” he said. But after receiving the fine and being assaulted by a passenger while working for another taxi service he said: “I realised it wasn’t worth it.”

Berlin-based Blacklane, which operates in more than 250 cities around the world and is partly backed by the carmaker Daimler, said: “We have not received any official information, documentation or filings about this case. Therefore, we cannot comment in any meaningful way.”

A2B’s owner Veezu, which owns several private hire firms, did not respond to a request for comment.

The gig economy has proved to be a battleground for disputes about employment status involving firms such as takeaway company Deliveroo and courier firm CitySprint. Its emergence also prompted a full-blown government review into modern employment practices, led by Matthew Taylor, a former adviser to Tony Blair.

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Bogus self-employment is thought to deny basic rights to about 1.1 million couriers, minicab drivers and other workers.

Moyer-Lee said that the government had been slow to act on the prime minister’s promise to help workers and offered little in concrete action in response to the Taylor review. He called for better enforcement of employment rules.

“What we’ve seen in case after case is that the tribunal finds these people are workers, often in scathing terms, and that shows we’ve got a serious problem in enforcement of the law,” he said.

Other e-hailing firms rush to fill the Uber gap

Smaller and emerging ride-sharing players continue to enter the fray. by MARK RAO / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL. DESPITE the growing concern over monopoly and anti-competitive practices in the local e-hailing market following the Grab-Uber merger, industry players have carved out their own …

Smaller and emerging ride-sharing players continue to enter the fray

by MARK RAO / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

DESPITE the growing concern over monopoly and anti-competitive practices in the local e-hailing market following the Grab-Uber merger, industry players have carved out their own niches and continue to prosper.

One such player is Blacklane, a Berlin-based company offering limousine services in five Malaysian cities, which has quietly grown its business under the shadow of mainstay providers Grab and Uber Technologies Inc.

Blacklane CEO and co-founder Jens Wohltorf said the company is now part of the expanded traditional limousine market while offering fares that are about half of what legacy players charge.

“We beat competitors with high-quality vehicles and drivers at rates that are about half of those of legacy companies.

“We compared our rates in Kuala Lumpur and found that legacy companies charge 203% of Blacklane’s fares for a ride from (Kuala Lumpur) Sentral Station to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport,” he told The Malaysian Reserve.

He said the company’s services are complementary to those that are provided by other ride-sharing companies.

Despite the “competition”, Wohltorf claimed that Blacklanehascontinuedtoregistera record number of bookings and rides in Malaysia each month.

“The popularity of ridehailing or ridesharing services corresponds with our popularity, too. As people have more mobility options, they use a variety of services to meet their needs,” he said.

Founded in 2011 by Wohltorf and Frank Steuer as a twoman operation in Berlin, the limousine service grew to expand into over 250 cities in 50 countries today.

In Malaysia, the company’s services cover Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Penang and Senai, where numerous ridesharing drivers flock local airports to secure fares.

Blacklane, which offers professional drivers using one of three Mercedes-model vehicles, found its place in the industry not by competing with other players but by servicing a niche market.

Wohltorf said travellers choose Blacklane when they have the time to enjoy the quality of the vehicles and service from the chauffeurs.

“We focus on longer-distance rides such as airport transfers and inter-city trips.

“Travellers choose Blacklane to and from city centres and use taxi and ride-hailing services for short, inner-city trips,” he said.

Wohltorf said the company is well-positioned with its current footprint in Malaysia and will look to add global travel partners to bring in more guests to Blacklane rides.

In October last year, the company signed a partnership deal with Malaysia Airlines Bhd that would allow a steady flow of jobs for the limousine provider.

When the Uber app in Malaysia went offline on April 8 this year following Grab’s takeover, competitors feared that monopoly and anti-competitive practices would creep into the market.

Currently, some 300,000 registered e-hailing drivers are roaming Malaysia, with Grab touted as the undisputed market leader — at least in terms of scale.

However, smaller and emerging ride-sharing players continue to enter the fray, suggesting a marketplace that is large enough to support both competition and diversity.

Earlier this month, Platform Apps Sdn Bhd announced that its new e-hailing service MyCar could fill in the gap left behind by Uber’s departure from Malaysia by addressing some of the concerns voiced by drivers when operating on the Grab and Uber platforms.

This includes charging a significantly lower commission rate on drivers at 15% compared to Grab, which charges as high as 25%.

The app, which started with 2,000 drivers, is today securing some 5,000 rides daily — up from 40 rides previously — following its commercial launch on Feb 1, 2018.

Platform Apps founder Mohd Noah Maideen said MyCar saw some 10,000 Uber drivers joining the e-hailing platform from February to April, and will look to bringing in more of these drivers going forward.

Other players that make up the growing industry include Decentralised Alternative Cabs Serving and Empowering Everyone or Dacsee, Pick N Go Sdn Bhd and Riding Pink.

Loyalty Card Showdown

Taxicabs have had their day; dirty cars, unfriendly drivers, and overpriced rides with automatic machines suggesting as much as 30 percent tips have met their match with ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. While some city regulators debate the merits and legality of ride sharing, many argue that …
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Courtesy of General Motors / Lyft
Both of these giants of the on-demand ride economy offer perks for frequent riders. But which one does it better?

Taxicabs have had their day; dirty cars, unfriendly drivers, and overpriced rides with automatic machines suggesting as much as 30 percent tips have met their match with ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. While some city regulators debate the merits and legality of ride sharing, many argue that they have brought down the cost of transportation for many and forced taxicabs to improve their services. Between Uber and Lyft, which one to choose and why? Let’s take a look at the merits of each when it comes to scoring points, miles, and perks.

Uber

Uber is the larger of the two and offers service in more than 600 cities worldwide with options beyond the typical transfer. Uber Pool allows you to share a car with other people traveling in the same general direction while the more upscale Uber Black delivers a driver in a sedan with the click of a button. There’s also Uber XL, which provides luxury SUV vehicles on demand.

Uber followed Lyft’s lead and now offers the ability to tip the driver within the app in many cities. What Uber does differently, however, is operate its own sort of elite status program known as Uber VIP, which is only offered in select cities to its most frequent riders. It doesn’t award points, but it does offer access to the highest-rated drivers and the occasional promotion.

Point lovers oohed and aahed over Uber’s partnership with Starwood Preferred Guest, which for years awarded points for each dollar spent. Sadly, that heyday ended last month, but there are still some merits for choosing Uber if you’re interested in bonuses.

For example, if you hold the American Express Platinum card, one of the benefits is a $15 Uber credit per month and an extra $20 credit for rides during the month of December. Link your Amex card with the Uber app, and it should automatically use the $15 credit each month toward one ride. Membership Rewards members earn double Amex points for every dollar they spend, and Platinum cardholders are automatically awarded Uber VIP Platinum status, which offers occasional discounts and perks in select cities.

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While Uber is integrated into the United Airlines app, no miles are awarded for using it. You can, however, earn cash back with the new Uber Visa credit card Barclaycard. Within the first 90 days, cardholders can earn a $100 credit for spending at least $500 on the card. There are also numerous category bonuses, such as 4 percent cash back on dining (including UberEATS) and 2 percent cash back on any online purchase including Uber. Hotel and airfare purchases with the new card earn 3 percent cash back, and there’s even a sweepstakes for Barclaycard cardholders to win a $10,000 prize.

Lyft

Lyft runs a smaller operation with service in nearly 300 U.S. cities. Beyond traditional rides, the app has the option to order an SUV for larger groups while Lyft Premier picks up riders in luxury vehicles. Lyft Line is the company’s discounted carpool option for those traveling in a similar direction.

Drivers became quick fans of Lyft because it allowed riders to leave tips via the app instead of dealing with cash. It took Uber quite awhile to catch up. Another nifty option is that riders can round up their ride fare to the next dollar, which can be donated to charity. There is no rider loyalty program, but the company does offer one for drivers.

There is a valuable partnership between Delta and Lyft where U.S. riders earn one Delta mile for every dollar spent and three miles for airport rides. You won’t score a free flight quickly, but linking your accounts can certainly help to top up your mileage account and keep the balance active. This is a great alternative for those who were fans of the Starwood and Uber partnership.

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There is also a partnership between Lyft and JetBlue awarding 30 TrueBlue points for every ride to the airport taken in the United States. Members can also earn 750 points for signing up and linking their accounts.

There are alternatives, too

Blacklane offers riders access to traditional and luxury vehicles, although the rides are not as cheap as Uber and Lyft. The company partners with Miles and More, the frequent flier program of Lufthansa and its partner airlines, to award two miles for each euro spent (even in the United States).

Carey town cars can now be booked with its app, and points can be awarded for each ride in the Carey Rewards Club.

Of course, there’s always Super Shuttle, which offers miles with several different airlines for booking a ride.

Our verdict

For sheer volume of destinations and opportunities to use it, Uber is the winner. While the loss of Uber’s partnership with Starwood Preferred Guest stings, here’s to hoping the new Uber Visa card, which allows you to turn credit card points into Uber cash, picks up the slack.

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