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Archive for July, 2015 set to drive innovation in the meetings industry

Technology is the sector set to deliver the next major innovation in the meetings industry. This is according to research of more than 800 buyers and suppliers at this year’s IMEX in Frankfurt. Of the 840 people who answered the question What sphere do you think the next big innovation in meetings will come from? over 50% of hosted buyers and exhibitors and over 40% of visitors identified technology ahead of education, health and wellbeing and meetings design.

Companies offering technology innovations are invited to take part in the IMEXpitch, the new name for the IMEX Tech Startup Competition, which returns to IMEX America for the second year. IMEXpitch enables companies to showcase exciting new technology products that address challenges faced by meeting and events professionals. The competition is currently inviting submissions from companies who have been operating for less than two years and the shortlist will be announced at the start of September. The shortlisted ‘Startuppers’ then have the opportunity to pitch to an expert panel at IMEX America which takes place 13 – 15 October in Las Vegas, with the winner receiving a free stand space at the Tech Pavilion at IMEX America 2016.

Carina Bauer, CEO IMEX Group, explains: “With technology evolving at a rapid rate, it’s no surprise that our event attendees are in overwhelming agreement that this sector will deliver the most innovation. We’re already seeing this with many start-ups making waves in the market, and we launched IMEXpitch at IMEX America last year to support budding tech companies who develop innovative solutions and services for the meetings industry.

“Following its premiere at IMEX America, the competition took place for the first time at IMEX in Frankfurt this year with Init Live, a cloud-based service and mobile app for managing staff and volunteers at events, crowned the winner. We’ve noticed that many companies shortlisted for the competition focus on apps as their main product offering, demonstrating that this is fertile ground for fast innovation and added value. “

This is demonstrated by the growing usage of the IMEX App which launches for IMEX America 2015 in September and helps both buyers and exhibitors stay organised and up to date with everything happening at the show. Buyers can access their diary to make and check appointments, as well as view travel and accommodation information; and exhibitors can view and manage stand staff schedules on the show floor.

IMEX America will take place 13 – 15 October at the Sands Expo and Convention Center at The Venetian | The Palazzo Las Vegas. Business Travel Spending Predicted to Hit Record High of $1.25 Trillion in 2015

Despite recent economic turbulence, China business travel will increase by 61 percent over the next 5 years, from $261 billion in 2014 to $420 billion in 2019. That increase is greater than the increases in business travel growth in the next 8 largest countries combined, including the U.S., Germany, India, U.K., Indonesia, France, Turkey and Japan.

These findings are part of an annual travel forecast released today at GBTA Convention 2015 from the GBTA Foundation – the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association, which details business travel spending in 75 countries across 48 industries over 15 years, including a rolling five-year projection.

Overall, the GBTA BTI™ Outlook – Annual Global Report & Forecast, sponsored by Visa, Inc. finds that global business travel spending will hit a record $1.25 trillion USD in 2015, 6.5 percent growth over 2014. Growth will remain strong through 2019, with business travel projected to grow 6.9 percent in 2016, 6.0 percent in 2017, 6.4 percent in 2018 and 5.8 percent in 2019.

“Despie recent economic speedbumps, China will pull away as the global leader in business travel over the next five years,” said GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick. “On the horizon, we’ve identified five nations that are also seeing extraordinary growth and could very well turn into the business travel markets of the future. Another market to watch is India, which is statistically where China was 15 years ago.”

The large majority of business travel spending in 2014 occurs in a few dominant markets. In fact, over two-thirds of total business travel spending continues to occur in the U.S., China and Western Europe. Currently Asia Pacific owns the largest share of the business travel spend market with 39 percent followed by North America with 27 percent and Western Europe with 24 percent. GBTA expects that by 2019, Asia Pacific will have gained another 3.5 percentage points in market share, while the United States and Western Europe will lose 2.7 percentage points and 0.6 percentage points, respectively.

“The global business travel market is incredibly dynamic, with dozens of countries around the world such as China, India and Mexico, growing at remarkable rate,” said Brian Triplett, SVP, Head of Commercial Product, Visa Inc. “As these markets develop, safe and secure electronic payments will help corporations and business travelers around the globe track and manage their business travel spend.” – Sabre launches new Business Travel Services connecting hotels and travel buyers

Sabre Corporation  has launched a new portfolio of consortia solutions to help hotels compete for high value business travelers and connect travel buyers with hotels that cater to business travelers. Sabre will feature the Business Travel Services during the 2015 GBTA Convention at booth #1425.

Many independent and small chain hotels today find it difficult to compete for new travel agency and corporate business due to limited resources and investments compared to global hotel chains. Sabre Business Travel Services connects hotels to new business opportunities and helps them compete for and manage corporate accounts. At the same time, the solutions make it easier for travel managers and travel management companies to identify, negotiate and contract with hotels that best fit their corporate hotel programs.

“On a macro-economic level, business travel continues to be a major economic driver and the same is true on a micro-level for hotels looking to build their corporate business and serve business travelers,” said Alex Alt, president of Sabre Hospitality Solutions. “Our Business Travel Services simplify that process by helping hotels compete for valuable business travel contracts and helping corporations get the most from their travel budgets.”

According to a recent research report sponsored by Sabre and conducted by GBTA, managing supplier relationships and monitoring traveler compliance with corporate travel policies are two of the most time-consuming and important aspects of most corporate travel programs. In addition, as corporate travel managers are more pressed for time and resources, many are asking for expert assistance when building effective hotel programs.

The new report, Travel Manager 2020 – Foundational Shifts in the Role of the Travel Manager, discusses how corporate travel managers increasingly rely on technology and data as critical tools in negotiating contracts with suppliers, identifying hard-dollar savings, and monitoring compliance.

“As hotel rates continue to climb, a corporation’s hotel spend can account for as much of the travel budget as air travel. So it’s extremely important that corporations can tie negotiated rates to booked rates to ensure travelers are being offered what was negotiated and that they track that savings throughout the year – not just during negotiation season,” continued Alt.

Sabre Business Travel Services provide the ability to integrate negotiated rate data into both the hotel’s reservation system and into the travel buyer’s online and offline booking channels to maximize savings and efficiency. The solutions portfolio builds upon Sabre’s existing Sabre Hotel RFP technology and hotel consortia program to add an elite hotel consortia tier, BT Advantage, and Global Account Management:

  • BT Advantage provides corporate agents with easy access to hundreds of pre-qualified business travel hotels in North America and the UK with plans to expand to other regions over the next 12-18 months.
  • Global Account Management Services provides RFP representation to hotels, offering corporations and buyers a free, one-stop connection to reach thousands of pre-qualified global upscale, independent properties catering to business travelers.
  • Hotel RFP, Sabre’s award winning RFP technology, makes it easier for corporations and agencies to source hotels from the more than 175,000 GDS and non-GDS hotels worldwide. Corporate travel programs gain speed, efficiency and year round access to the data needed to manage and audit rates for high value corporate hotel programs. In addition, Sabre has partnered with a leading independent travel consultancy with experience sourcing over 250 engagements in the last five years who can help corporations save money by building and executing a sourcing strategy that optimizes their negotiated hotel programs leveraging Hotel RFP technology. Launches Global Product Suite for Businesses

Airbnb has announced the global expansion of its Business Travel program with the launch of a new product suite aimed at making Airbnb easier to use for companies.

Companies around the world can swiftly sign in to Airbnb and have access to a range of features to support business trips. The suite of tools provides visibility into employee travel itineraries booked through Airbnb, financial reporting data, and central billing to improve the business travel experience for travelers and travel managers.

The Product is comprised of three components — the Activity Tab, the Reporting Tab, and the Employees Tab — as well as central billing and financial reporting data to help serve travel managers with:

  • Activity Tab – Cataloging current and upcoming employee trips, including trip dates, location, date booked, trip status, number of people in each party, and an interactive map.
  • Reporting Tab – Collecting and managing booking reports for the entire organization and exporting financial data and reports.
  • Employees Tab – Managing approved and pending employees who have been permitted to book business travel using Airbnb.

The global launch of the Business Travel program comes on the heels of 700 percent growth that Airbnb’s Business Travel program has experienced over the past year. Since the program’s launch last July, more than 250 companies have joined Airbnb’s Business Travel program, including Google, TBWA, Twilio, and SoundCloud.

“Our employees worldwide appreciate the choice and flexibility that Airbnb listings provide them when they’re on the road — whether for conferences, meetings, or team offsites. It’s great that Googlers can easily access Airbnb’s wide range of accommodations as they make their travel plans,” said Darragh Ormsby, Global Travel Manager, Google.

“As an agency, we are huge fans of Airbnb and have been using their site to book accommodations for years. We are very excited about the new dashboard tool and are looking forward to rolling it out within our organization. Not only will it help streamline the booking process for business travel, but it will ultimately help us better manage invoices, expenses, and stays on a single web-based platform,” said Joe Basso, Budget Director at TBWA\CHIAT\DAY.

“As a global company with offices in Berlin, San Francisco, New York, and London, we expect many of our employees to book business trips in 2015, and Airbnb’s new solution provides us with a great set of tools. Having this type of added visibility into past, present, and future trips allows us to improve our employee experience while they are traveling,” said Caoimhe Keogan, VP People, SoundCloud.

“With employees around the globe, Airbnb Business Travel helps us better support our team when they are on the road,” said Kelly Cammer, Travel Manager for Twilio. “Not only are we able to get better insight into how and when our employees are using Airbnb, but travelers are able to choose a place that feels like home at a price that fits our travel budgets.” – China (Sichuan) International Tourism Investment Conference held in Chengdu

China (Sichuan) International Tourism Investment Conference, hosted by the Sichuan Provincial People’s Government and the Investment Association of China, was held in Chengdu from July 22 to 24.
This is the largest conference in the tourism investment sector of Sichuan province. It was attended by the leaders of more than 120 well-known enterprises such as Wanda Group, OCT Group, CITS Group Corporation, China National Travel Service (HK) Group Corporation, New Hope Group, Scenery Culture, Orient Landscape Industry Group Ltd., Shanghai Spring International Travel Service (Group) Co., Ltd. and Beijing Tourism Group.

This conference is a measure taken by the CPC Sichuan Provincial Committee and the Sichuan Provincial People’s Government on how to develop tourism and promote investment in the tourism industry. At the conference, the Sichuan Provincial People’s Government concluded a Strategic Cooperation Agreement for Promoting Tourism Development with China National Travel Service (HK) Group Corporation and CITS Group Corporation; the Tourism Administration of Sichuan Province signed Strategic Cooperation Agreements on Providing Financial Support for Tourism Development with 4 financing institutions; 12 cities and prefectures signed agreements for 20 tourism projects amounted to RMB 39.37 billion.

-at the conference, keynote addresses were delivered by Liu Zhifeng, President of China Real Estate Association; Wang Jianlin, President of Wanda Group; Liu Pingchun, President of OCT Group; Liu Yonghao, President of New Hope Group; Yi Peng, famous economist; Mei Shuaiyuan, President of Scenery Culture. They announced plans to further discuss the advantages and future direction of tourism investment promotion in Sichuan. The Tourism Administration of Sichuan Province and some cities and prefectures mainly promoted the preferred tourism projects in Sichuan and held parties for investment and financing. Some key investors organized a trip for the preferred tourism projects in Sichuan, which further attracts and encourages investors to make investment in Sichuan. – AEGEAN inaugurates direct flights to two new Destination from Athens to Riyadh and Teheran

AEGEAN, a Star Alliance member, continues its strategic development enhancing its flight network with two new additional routes to Riyadh and Teheran. The company inaugurated the new route to Riyadh on July 20th and the route to Teheran on July 22nd. AEGEAN is the first Greek carrier connecting the Iranian capital with Athens.

The flights from Athens to Riyadh take place every Monday and Thursday with a scheduled departure at 23:30 (local time) and arrival at Riyadh the next day at 02:05 (local time). Flights from Riyadh are scheduled to depart every Tuesday and Friday at 03:45 (local time) arriving in Athens at 07:25 (local time).

Athens-Riyadh every Monday and Thursday A3 938 23:30 – 02:55

Riyadh-Athens every Tuesday and Friday A3 939 03:45 – 07:25

The flights from Athens to Teheran take place every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday with a scheduled departure at 20:15 (local time) arriving at Teheran the next day at 01:10 (local time). Flights from Teheran are scheduled to depart every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 02:00 (local time) arriving in Athens at 04:30 (local time).

Athens-Teheran Monday, Wednesday and Saturday Α3 948 20:15 – 01:10 Teheran-Athens every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday Α3 949 02:00 – 04:30

The new flights increase available choices for Greek passengers while providing travelers from Iran and Riyadh with easy access, through Athens, to a wide variety of popular European destinations. With these additional routes, Aegean completes the cycle of new destinations added in 2015, reaching 17 new destinations served. Aegean has a network of 134 destinations in 45 countries.

Mr. Dimitris Gerogiannis, Aegean’s CEO stated: “We continue with our policy of expanding routes to the Middle East in order to provide passengers from the region with easy access as well as enhance the interconnectedness of our hub in Athens. After adding Beirut and Amman in 2014, we have now added Riyadh and Teheran, marking the first time the Iranian capital is serviced by a Greek carrier. Assuming the Greek economy will stabilize, our goal is to further expand our network in 2016 as well.”

The new routes will be operated with Airbus A320 equipment, with its comfortably configured cabin in both Economy and Business Class. It is noted that AEGEAN received 3 brand new Α320ceos, during the end of June and beginning of July 2015, marking the total number of aircraft to 58.

Tags: , – China’s open markets mean half a trillion dollars in new liquidity

Think back to the days of the commodity boom.  Real early. Like 1999. Investment gurus like Jim Rogers spoke about what will happen to raw materials prices — from iron ore to soybeans — when half the population of China goes from eating a pound of chicken a week, to two pounds. Or when China goes from building one building a week, to the equivalent of about one city every year.

Something similar is happening in China today. It’s a slow pace for some, and too quick for others. But the opening of China’s capital account means billions of dollars will now be able to high-tail it out of China, legally, and invest in everything from New York penthouses to American mutual funds.

The qualified domestic institutional investor (QDII) scheme is getting an upgrade.  It’s not just about Hong Kong and institutional investors anymore. QDII2 takes money global. And better yet, it brings in rich Chinese, not just investment firms.

Reliance Properties' new Vancouver luxury high rise, Burrard Place.  A new skyline is being built in Vancouver. Asians are helping to build it, as wealthy Chinese -- both foreign and Canadian born rival Americans as top foreign buyers of the city's real estate. (Photo courtesy of Reliance.)

QDII2 will have direct impacts on American and Canadian real estate. One of the most visible ways individual, wealthy Chinese are investing in North America is via housing. In world class cities, Asian demand is particularly felt in the high-end housing market. If you’re looking to buy a gorgeous condo overlooking the Pacific Ocean, you’re new competition is more likely to come from the Pudong district of Shanghai as they are from Beverly Hills. QDII2 makes it all possible.

In Canada, Vancouver is building five new luxury residential towers.  When it comes to foreigners, including Canadians of foreign descent, it’s the Asian buyer that rivals rich Americans looking to buy, according to the Conference Board of Canada. Although the Board does not single out China, Chinese-based real estate firm Juwai spells it out in a recently published report.

In the U.S., Chinese living in China, Hong Kong and Macau, account for 33% of U.S. foreign sales transactions. Australia is second at 22.9%. Canada is a distant third at 7.5%, though many of the Chinese buyers in Canada are local immigrants or were born in Canada and still have money at work in China.

Juwai estimates that the QDII2 scheme could equate to as much as $2.3 trillion in residential real estate sales over time. But the likely amount is probably closer to $661 billion. The figure is derived from Juwai estimates that show Chinese millionaires allocate approximately 10% of their total assets to foreign real estate, including commercial. – China to relax boundaries further for outbound investment

China has just laid the groundwork for potentially even greater Chinese investment overseas, as news of the Chinese government’s latest decision to further loosen capital controls went viral.

Following previous policy relaxations, including unprecedented overseas investment reforms by the NDRC, China has unleashed yet another strategic move to globalise the yuan and bolster China’s bid to officially make it into the IMF basket of reserve currencies (SDRs).1

Last Friday, Assistant Minister of Commerce Zhang Xiangchen announced that China will soon allow companies and individuals to seek direct investments abroad soon via the QDII2 plan.2

What is QDII2?

Once officially passed, the QDII2 (Qualified Domestic Individual Investor Programme) will allow direct investment, acquisitions, and mergers overseas for both eligible and approved corporates and individuals.3

This includes real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, insurance, and financial derivatives.3

Expected to kick off in six cities – Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wuhan, Chongqing, and Wenzhou4 – the QDII2 would be open for application to eligible individual investors bearing financial assets worth at least RMB1 million. However, qualified individuals will only be able to invest up to half of their total assets abroad.

Meanwhile, corporate investors would see their investment limits increased from their current limit of $300 million to $1 billion.

Nevertheless, it is expected that the Chinese government will be taking baby steps and proceed with QDII2 very carefully – even as they edge one step closer to attaining their objective of becoming the fifth reserve currency in the world.

What does this mean for the world?

Previously, we wrote about how China’s shrewd move powered a global outbound investment boom, charting a record $102.9 billion last year – of which $18 billion came from real estate investment overseas alone.

Within the first four months of 2015, China’s outbound non-financial direct investment (ODI) hit $34.97 billion – a healthy 36.1% increase that bodes well for the remaining eight months to come.5

Hang on, though…it gets even better.

According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, Europe is hot with Chinese – Chinese ODI into the European Union skyrocketed 487%, while Chinese ODI in Germany spiked by as much as 246% y-o-y within Q1 of 2015.6

And this is all BEFORE this latest stunner from China.

We leave you to put your imagination to good use on visualising how this latest development from China would significantly impact and shape the global economy – especially in the roaring property industry that has already been propelled to new heights by Chinese money. – International Property Promotion

Αύξηση κατά 21,9%, σε σχέση με τον Ιούνιο του 2014, παρουσίασε η επιβατική κίνηση στο αεροδρόμιο “Ελευθέριος Βενιζέλος”, φθάνοντας το 1,88 εκατ. – Johnny Depp Buying a Greek Island

Johnny Depp has reportedly purchased an island in the Aegean and he’ll soon be on his way to Greece to check out his new property, according to the Athens Macedonian News Agency in a statement.

Depp, the American actor who is currently filming in Australia is expected in Greece in late July.

The report claims the actor spent 4 million euros for a small islet in the Dodecanese region.

The news was made public, according to the Athens News Agency, by Proto Organization Ltd., a UK agency that handles property acquisitions. Steven Taylor of Proto referred to an island called “Stroggino” although he was probably referring to Strongyli, a tiny islet near Kastelorizo in the Eastern Aegean. The report claimed that he was the same agent that represented Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in their transaction for an island purchase in the Ionian Sea.