Source = e-Travel Blackboard: P.T A federal and state government report into the construction of a second Sydney airport suggests excessive traffic woes will befall future commuters. The government inquiry deems that a second airport in Sydney is urgently required. Trains servicing the airport will exceed capacity as early as next year, news.com.au reported. Important motorways and roads will also be heavily affected, resulting in massive traffic jams on the M5 and CBD access roads. The lack of a second airport in Sydney will cost the Australian economy $59.5 billion, as well as forgoing $34 billion worth of GDP. The report, commissioned by Transport Minister Anthony Albanese, also calls for a provision to elevate the current flight cap of 80 take-offs per hour to 85.The existing 11pm – 6am flight curfew, although drafted to be altered, will not be challenged. Potential train traffic to eventuate
75 percent of consumers are more likely to book hotels and resorts that provide mobile video content via mobile phone devices, according to a new survey. Conducted by Smith Micro Software, research found that 67 percent of respondents said that they would prefer to purchase content that could be accessed via smartphone or tablet.Smith Micro senior vice president of products and programs Jim Mains said consumer preferences are moving away from static TV and toward viewing content from any device anytime, anywhere.“Historically the hospitality industry has faced many challenges in devising a content strategy that would address shifts in consumer behavior while replacing lost revenue from consumers using their own devices for content,” Mr Mains said.“While business travellers and vacationers have different preferences, one constant remains, accessing video content from a mobile is a valuable asset.”Although more than 72 percent of consumers were interested in purchasing hotel video content from their mobile device, a third of respondents said they were concerned about data charges.Mr Mains said this highlights an opportunity for hoteliers to accrue revenue by offering bundled services of video and Wi-Fi to guests at a reasonable cost.“In this age of mobile and social networking, hotels and resorts are now expected to provide their guests with an interactive entertainment experience, which includes access to high quality video content anywhere, anytime.” Source = e-Travel Blackboard: S.P
Skytrax ranks an airline’s frontline product and service standards based on an internationally recognised quality analysis system and professional evaluations. The performance analysis is completed annually and rankings are categorised by region and across the world. “The results demonstrate our commitment to training, our investment in our people and our product and further demonstrates the value of our partnership with Etihad Airways,” he said. Air Seychelles is now ranked fourth globally in the Most Improved category. This year, Air Seychelles’ overall ranking is 56, up from133 last year and the highest in its history. Source = Air Seychelles Cramer Ball, Chief Executive Officer of the airline, said: “This is a significant achievement for Air Seychelles and further confirmation that the airline is moving in the right direction. To climb so quickly in the Skytrax rankings in such a short time is evidence of our team’s determination to be the best airline in the Indian Ocean and to fulfil Air Seychelles’ vision to be a high quality, profitable airline The national carrier of the Republic of Seychelles is now ranked the No. 2 airline in Africa, up eight places from its previous ranking of 10 last year, and now holds the No. 3 spot for Best Airline Staff in Africa, a category in which the airline held no ranking last year. “The Global Airline Awards are based on traveller feedback, so it is pleasing to see that our customers are recognising the rapid progress we are making towards being the best airline in the region.” Air Seychelles soared high in the recent Skytrax rankings released at the Skytrax World Airline Awards at the Paris Air Show. Mr. Ball said Air Seychelles’ staff and the whole Seychellois community should be rightly proud of the national airline.
Source = ETB News: T.N. The Thailand Tourism Authority is trying to attract tourists to Thailand by running a competition that will give the winners free facial surgery, US $5,000 cash and a luxury vacation. The competition will no doubt be welcomed by the country as ongoing political unrest has caused a drop in the number of cosmetic surgery tourists by 40 per cent. The finalists have to consent to give the Thailand Extreme Makeover project the right to use their names, images, videos and / or audio before and after surgery for display, public relations via online and offline media and domestic and international marketing. Thailand has previously been a mecca for tourists wanting cosmetic surgery because savings can be up to 50 to 80 per cent compared to the USA. Plastic surgeons will judge tourist entrants’ photos and applications and develop a shortlist of finalists, with the Thai public then choosing three winners, The Diplomat reported.
Helloworld is feeling buoyant about growth in trading on its online platform Helloworld.com.au, despite a downgrade in its retail network of seven per cent.The decline in the network is likely to deliver a AUD $10 million reduction in the current financial year but the group expects the growth to help put adjusted earnings at AUD $40 million or $41 million.Helloworld remains optimistic that it will have more than 1,700 locations when it reaches 12 months since the launch of the brand in July, however only 890 locations have signed up currently.Helloworld’s projection was based on it finding 300 branded locations, 400 brand-carrying associate locations, 300 affiliate locations and a further 440 locations operating under the Concorde Agency Network.Helloworld chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said that Helloworld’s network had developed strongly and quickly.As of June 2014, 260 locations have received branding and signage and 15 more retrofitted as new ‘ambassador’ stores with new branding, design, layout, interiors and furniture.Helloworld also expects to achieve considerable cost reduction with a brand refresh due for June 30th.Source = ETB News: Tom Neale
Aussie overseas ‘Money Misadventures’ revealedWith more than 700,000 Australians embarking on international trips each month and over $31 million spent while overseas in the past year, a new report from CommBank has revealed the most common ‘money misadventures’ Aussies encounter overseas.According to the survey of more than 1,000 overseas travellers, nearly one in four (22 per cent) have experienced some kind of money mishap in last 12 months. The report revealed the most common money issues faced by travellers included: Difficulties when changing money while overseas (40 per cent); Lost, stolen or misplaced debit or credit card (19 per cent); Lost or stolen cash (13 per cent); and Debit or credit card fraud (13 per cent).The number of money mishaps may be the result of the lack of importance Australians place on preparing their finances before they leave the country. According to the report, three out of four (74 per cent) say arranging accommodation, travel documents and their holiday itinerary are more important than financial preparations, such as setting a budget or organising travel money before departing.The report also revealed travellers’ preferred payment method is cash, with 51 per cent of Aussies worrying about using a credit card overseas in case they become a victim of fraud. This is why CommBank is encouraging everyone to take advantage of the Lock, Block and Limit feature available on the CommBank app and NetBank.According to Angus Sullivan, Executive General Manager Consumer Finance, Payments & Strategy, Commonwealth Bank, Lock, Block and Limit will give travellers the peace of mind to use their credit card overseas no matter where their card goes, or what they get up to.“Overseas holidays should be something we look forward to, but our research tells us many Aussies are worried about running into money problems on their trip when they should be relaxing.“We’ve introduced a number of credit card security locks to protect people from overseas credit card fraud. From our temporary lock feature that empowers customers to lock transactions on a misplaced credit card while they look for it, to the ability to activate in-store international payment locks when they return home, both ensure a customer’s credit card is safe and secure at all times.“Lock, Block and Limit gives our customers peace of mind over their credit card security, so they can get on with the business of enjoying their holiday,” said Mr Sullivan.Managing Money OverseasAlmost half (48 per cent) of travellers prefer to use cash when making purchases overseas, yet of those surveyed, having their cash lost or stolen was one of the top three most common money mishaps experienced in the past year.With a further 40 per cent of Aussie travellers having experienced difficulties when changing money into local currency, CommBank has just integrated its Travel Money Card into the CommBank app to help take the pressure off for holiday-goers.“There’s nothing worse than losing your cash or having it stolen while on holiday and having to spend hours of your well earned break trying to arrange additional funds,” said Mr Sullivan.“Alongside being able to load multiple-currencies onto one card and locking in exchange rates, we’ve just made overseas money management with our Travel Money Card even more convenient. Travel Money Card users can now check their account balance and reload, fee-free, in real-time using the CommBank app, whenever and wherever they are in the world,” he said.CommBankTravel Money CardSource = Commonwealth Bank
Source = Swiss-Belhotel Brisbane Swiss-Belhotel Brisbane lobbySwiss-Belhotel Brisbane opensThe Swiss-Belhotel Brisbane soft opened on October 15, with approximately 50 per cent of its 134 rooms availableMore than 80 per cent of the available rooms were occupied. Within two weeks, all 134 rooms will be available for sale.Bookings are showing strong trends and the hotel is very confident it will achieve its budget expectations. Its location and impressive contemporary decor will ensure that Swiss-Belhotel Brisbane will very quickly achieve its market share.An informal soft opening ceremony was held late Saturday afternoon, attended by the owners Alice and Chris Li (Horan Group), Swiss-Belhotel International Chairman and President Gavin Faull, Senior Group Director – Operations Jorn Wisselink and other senior SBI executives.The hotel is looking very impressive, according to Mr Faull. “It will be a great asset to both the business and leisure markets of Brisbane,” he said. “The hotel has a great team led by General Manager Dinah-Louise Marrs.The builders, Constructions Group Australia was represented by Brad Wootten at the soft opening.Popular Brisbane-based Cafe 63 operates the hotel’s restaurant, catering and room service delivery.“It is already proving very popular with the café featuring modern décor and opening to an outdoor terrace,” said Mr Faull. “It is the Group’s first café within an hotel location and I am confident Cafe 63 at Swiss-Belhotel will be a huge success.”The newly-built Swiss-Belhotel Brisbane heralds the arrival in Brisbane of one of the world’s fastest growing hotel management groups, The Swiss-Belhotel International Group.Swiss-Belhotel International chairman and president Mr Gavin Faull said he was proud to see the culmination of a three year development project completed with the soft opening of the four-and-a-half star hotel.The full service, 134-room Swiss-Belhotel Brisbane is located at 218 Vulture Street, South Brisbane. Many rooms feature views of the Brisbane River, city skyline or Story Bridge and Kangaroo Point cliffs.The hotel features an optimum location for both business and leisure travellers – just metres from South Bank, three major hospitals, the cultural precinct, Brisbane Convention & Entertainment Centre plus close to the Gabba and 10 minutes walk from the CBD.The stylish, contemporary interiors feature full minibars, galley kitchens (in some rooms), marble desk and LED lighting accents. Hotel facilities include a large Corporate Lounge, two meeting rooms, an indoor heated swimming pool, in-house gymnasium and secure on-site parking for 40 cars.Café 63 at Swiss-Belhotel offers breakfast, lunch and dinner daily from a menu featuring local produce, signature dishes as well as casual options. Swiss-Belhotel Brisbanebook your room here
THAI makes passenger payments easier with Paypal Teerapol Chotichanapibal (left), THAI Executive Vice President, Commercial and Rahul Shinghal, General Manager, Southeast Asia, PaypalTHAI makes passenger payments easier with PaypalThai Airways International Public Company Limited (THAI) held a joint press conference at its Head Office with Paypal, making electronic payment quick and safe for its passengers.Mr. Teerapol Chotichanapibal, THAI Executive Vice President, Commercial Department, said that THAI collaborated with Paypal in order to make electronic payment more convenient for passengers and give them more choices with this payment gateway global leader that is used by over 200 million customers worldwide. THAI places great importance on online ticket sales through websites and offers safe and convenient ticket payment. Paypal is like an intermediary, a very safe and convenient online payment. It operates based on international standards and is simple to use. With membership, passengers simply use an email address and password to pay for tickets through Paypal. THAI first began to introduce Paypal for passengers to make online ticket payments in September 2016, which resulted in increased revenue from sales made on international websites, especially from Europe and the United States of America. THAI hopes that its customers in Thailand and Asia, especially ASEAN nations such as Singapore, the Philippines, Vietnam, and others will take advantage of making payments through Paypal.Mr. Rahul Shinghal, General Manager, Southeast Asia, Paypal, said that Paypal has a consumer protection policy that safeguards businesses and customers in each transaction, resulting in increased confidence when making international digital payments.As a token of thanks and to celebrate THAI and Paypal’s cooperation, 1,500 Royal Orchid Plus miles will be given out to the first 1,000 passengers who book a THAI operated international flight through Paypal during 16 March – 16 April 2017. This special offer is valid for those residing in Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, and Vietnam.Passengers who are new Royal Orchid Plus members will receive special bonus miles when they fly their first 2,500 miles and may accrue a maximum of 4,000 miles.This cooperation is a part of THAI’s “New WEB and Mobile Platforms” that will be implemented to further develop its online ticket sales system through websites and smartphones in order to meet consumers’ needs and use of digital technology. THAI is pleased to introduce Paypal as a new standardized service to its customers and aims to introduce more innovations that make travel simpler and more convenient. THAIbook your flights hereSource = THAI – Thai Airways International Public Company Limited
Marriott International supports Asia’s female leaders of the futureAs part of its global commitment to develop and empower future women leaders, Marriott International today announced a partnership to support Asian University for Women(AUW). Starting this year the partnership will see over 50 Marriott volunteers serve as mentors to AUW students, and six AUW students will be given the chance to experience working with Marriott in Hong Kong and locations across south Asia, gaining personal experience of how the world’s largest hospitality company operates.AUW seeks to educate a new generation of female leaders in Asia who demonstrate significant academic potential, courage and empathy for those in need and might not otherwise be able to attend university for social or economic reasons.Peggy Fang Roe, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for Marriott International Asia Pacific and Executive Sponsor of the Marriott Women in Leadership Initiative, said: “As a business that prides itself on its diverse talent, we’re honored to help the next generation of women leaders achieve their full potential. Having seen firsthand how the Asian University for Women transforms the lives of its students, we’re thrilled to help even more young women gain the skills and confidence they need to succeed. By working together, Marriott International and AUW aim to create a world of opportunity for Asian women on a mission.” See Marriott’s visit to AUW in Chittagong and meet the students.Professor Nirmala Rao, Vice Chancellor of the Asian University for Women, added: “We are delighted to partner with Marriott International, which shares our vision for a world where all young women of promise can excel. Our students are eager to work alongside the female leaders at Marriott and learn from their experiences. Together we can help these extraordinary young women gain not only the education but the career opportunities they deserve.”Marriott will also launch a global fundraising drive for AUW, targeting internal associates and partners. . Marriott International properties across Asia Pacific will also educate customers in-room about AUW and its mission, inviting them to contribute towards its future.“In Honor of Daughters” AUW Hong Kong Support Foundation’s first benefit galaAs part of this fundraising drive, Marriott International will support AUW Hong Kong Support Foundation’s first benefit gala, “In Honor of Daughters,” at the JW Marriott Hong Kong on 13 June 2017.Gala attendees will be able to hear the inspiring stories of current and former AUW students, like Choney Dema. One of eight siblings, Choney is the first to make it to university. “Both of my parents are farmers yet they educated all of us. But in many rural parts of Bhutan, many children are not in school as their parents cannot afford school expenses and they have to help their parents at home,” said Choney.Today Choney is studying public health and her dream is to improve the public health of Bhutan. Choney said: “AUW has made me strong and has taught me that I am an independent woman who can think outside the box.”Daphne Tan, Vice President Development Planning/Feasibility and Owner Franchise Relations, Marriott International, Asia Pacific, has been mentoring Choney for the past six months: “It has been incredibly humbling for me to share my professional experience and personal journey with Choney, a smart and ambitious woman with a very bright future,” said Tan.”She reminded me of the challenges that many young women face today and their relentless courage in overcoming adversity through education.”The majority of AUW students are the first in their family to attend university and nearly all students are on full scholarships.Source = Marriott International
He put a wing on itHe put a wing on it#BAmagicLove was in the air on board a British Airways flight to Cyprus this week when a romantic customer put a ‘wing’ on it with the ultimate sky high proposal.With the help of a little ‘BA Magic’ Joseph Harding popped the most important question of his life to his partner of nearly two years, Nicola Lewington, on Wednesday’s BA2672 from Gatwick to Larnaca – and fortunately she said yes!The airline commissioned London musical duo, Jack and Joel, who created and performed a song especially for the romantic’s big moment with lyrics incorporating Joe’s favourite things about his girlfriend, loaded extra Champagne and even had their headrest covers embroidered with ‘Mr Harding and Mrs Harding to-be’ as a reminder of the flight.Joe Harding, 41, who met Nicki two years ago when he walked past the bakery she works in, said: “I’d been planning to ask Nicki to marry me for some time but I wasn’t sure where and how. I knew getting down on one knee mid-flight would be a complete surprise so I wrote in to British Airways in the hope that they would be able to help me. All the little touches allowed me to show Nicki just how much I love her and I’m really thankful to British Airways for helping me make the proposal extra special.”Bride-to-be, Nicki Lewington, 48, from Southampton, said: “I was absolutely speechless when I saw Joe walking down the aisle with notecards. I’m so made up with the way he proposed, it really was like a scene from Love Actually. There is no topping this one, we are walking on air. It definitely hasn’t sunk in yet!”Captain Amit Saini, said: “We witness some amazing moments in airports and in the air. Whether it’s heading home to see loved ones or taking children for their very first overseas holiday, travel can be special.“When Joe approached us saying he wanted to propose on board one of our flights, we really wanted to help him make his big moment that little bit more memorable.“We’ve met and surprised some incredible people over the past year and now we are looking for more people to surprise and help. Over the next few months we’ll be creating even more magic for our customers all over the globe.”British Airways is asking customers who have booked a trip with them to email their stories in, in the hope of making their trip a little bit more magical.Customers can visit the BA Magic page to watch Joe and Nicky’s video and share their own story. Source = British Airways
Oaks Bangkok Sathorn14 Oaks Hotels & Resorts properties take out TripAdvisor awardsOaks Hotels & Resorts teams are thrilled 14 of their Australian and overseas property portfolio have been honoured with TripAdvisor’s Certificate in Excellence Award, and two properties given a coveted TripAdvisor Hall of Fame title!Each year TripAdvisor honours select accommodation, attraction and restaurant providers that meet elite standards in hospitality, and consistently demonstrate a commitment to their guests’ experiences.Oaks WRAP on SouthbankFrom Bangkok to Brisbane, Oaks properties the world-over received the most important accolade; an award voted by guests, with Certificate in Excellence Awards for 2018 presented to; Oaks on William; Oaks Lagoons; Oaks Oasis; The Milton Brisbane; Oaks Bangkok Sathorn, Oaks Seaforth Resort, Oaks Metropole Hotel, Oaks Liberty Towers, Oaks Grand Gladstone, Oaks Mon Komo, Oaks Woollangabba, Oaks Liwa Heights, Oaks WRAP on Southbank and Oaks South Yarra.Using a strict and unique algorithm, TripAdvisor determines Certificate of Excellence honourees by taking into consideration quality, quantity and currency of reviews over a 12-month period, as well as a business’s tenure and popularity ranking on the site. To qualify for the accolade, a business must uphold at least four out of five stars and receive a minimum number of reviews for the 12-month period.Oaks Metropole HotelOaks Metropole Hotel and Oaks Bangkok Sathorn also took out the highly-esteemed TripAdvisor Hall of Fame title, which is only awarded to hospitality organisations who have received the Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years.“At Oaks Hotels & Resorts we strive to ensure our guests receive the highest quality in accommodation, customer service and property experiences, so to see a number of our hotels recognised for their on-going efforts is a credit to both their hard work and diligence,” said Chief Operations Officer for Oaks Hotels & Resorts, Craig Hooley.As further testament to the groups focus on providing exceptional guest experience, Cypress Lakes Golf and Country Club – located on-site at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort – was also recognised with a Certificate of Excellence, taking the total tally to 15! This follows the championship golf course also being ranked amongst the Australian Golf Digest’s Top 100 Courses in February, and Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort being named Australia’s Best Golf Hotel for 2017.“We acknowledge TripAdvisor as an extremely important customer satisfaction tool in the hotel industry. Our teams have excelled in not only meeting, but exceeding the expectations of our guests and it reflects our strengthening brand. With that in mind, seeing our guests give us five star ratings, as well as recommend Oaks to fellow travellers is incredibly rewarding and something we are very proud of,” Mr Hooley said.For more information please visit: https://www.oakshotels.com/en/Source = Oaks Hotels & Resorts
Hotelbeds strengthens commitmentHotelbeds strengthens commitment to offer hoteliers high-value bookings with plan to add 14,000 travel agent customers Source = Hotelbeds Hotelbeds plans to add 14,000 new travel agent customers by 2022 to take the total number of travel agents to 64,000.Plan forms part of Hotelbeds’ strong commitment to offer hotelier partners incremental bookings from non-domestic and high-value guests.Growth focused on luxury agents and those specialising in high-value and long-haul trips.Hotelbeds, the world’s leading bedbank, has announced today an ambitious plan to increase the number of travel agent customers affiliated to the bedbank booking platform as part of its commitment to offer hoteliers access to high-value guests.The goal of this strategic plan is to add 14,000 new travel agent customers – focusing in particular on luxury travel agents and those specialising in high-value, long-haul bookings – in the coming next three years, taking the total to over 64,000 travel agents globally.Travel agents – along with tour operators, airlines and points redemption partners – form a central part of Hotelbeds’ strong commitment to offer to hoteliers incremental bookings of non-domestic and high-value guests who book further in advance, cancel less, pay more for a room, spend more in destination and come back more frequently.Carlos Muñoz, Bedbank Managing Director commented: “Recently we announced the beginning of a new era for Hotelbeds under a single unified brand and purpose: to support our hotel partners by providing incremental bookings of non-domestic and high-value guests through a network of B2B travel trade buyers formed by travel agents, tour operators, points redemption partners and airlines.“Our three-year plan for the retail channel is to continue to grow the number of travel agents to over 64,000 by 2022 – an increase of 14,000 – especially in niche segments such as luxury and high-end, long-haul oriented and specialty packages.“The recently refreshed new Bedsonline brand – which is the retail brand used by Hotelbeds – and enhanced value proposition for customers, along with our strong local relevance and presence, improved product offering and tools are going to be the key drivers in achieving this goal.”About HotelbedsHotelbeds is the world’s leading Bedbank.In a fragmented and complex travel landscape, Hotelbeds provides over 180,000 hotels across the globe with access to high-value, complementary distribution channels that significantly increase occupancy rates and optimise RevPAR – while not competing with the hotelier’s direct distribution strategy.Hotelbeds does this by offering hoteliers access to a network of over 60,000 hard-to-access B2B travel buyers such as tour operators, retail travel agents, airline websites, and loyalty partners in over 140 source markets worldwide. These channels provide hotel partners with returning guests that book further in advance, cancel less, spend more in-destination and stay longer.In addition to accommodation, Hotelbeds is also the world’s largest B2B seller of travel ancillaries, offering 24,000 transfer routes and 18,000 activities, as well as attractions, tickets and car hire. Operating under the ‘Beyond the Bed’ product line, it provides both hoteliers and travel distribution partners with an efficient platform and powerful tools to easily integrate and commercialise its leading portfolio of high-margin products.The company is headquartered in Palma, Spain and employs around 5,000 employees across over 60 offices globally.
Havana is the capital city, largest city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city attracts over a million tourists annually and is known for its history, culture, architecture and monuments.Source: BBC
The fascinating boat race, a signature event of Kerala, turned out to be a stellar attraction as Kerala Tourism showcased their mesmerising grandeur at the just concluded FITUR.The sprawling stall of Kerala Tourism at the travel industry fair in the Spanish capital of Madrid had recreated the theme of boat race, the hugely popular sporting spectacle.Kerala Tourism Director, U V Jose said, “Our stall drew a huge response from the travel industry and the general public alike. We had fruitful discussions and meetings with the industry partners in Spain. They were quite inquisitive about the boat race, serene backwaters and the Ayurveda rejuvenation therapies. They have agreed to send more tourists to Kerala by including our destinations in the travel packages.”Vinod Zutshi, Secretary, Union Ministry of Tourism, and D B Venkatesh Varma, Indian Ambassador to Spain, were among the visitors to the Kerala pavilion.Jose said that this was for the 13th year on the trot that Kerala Tourism participated in FITUR, which provides a platform for the global tourist industry to promote commercial agreements and hammer out actionable strategies for growth of tourism.The partners of Kerala Tourism which attended the FITUR 2017 were CGH Earth, Kumarakom Lake Resort, Pioneer Personalised Holidays and Marvel Tours.In recent times, Kerala has witnessed a healthy increase in tourist arrivals from Spain. In 2015, 14,187 tourists arrived in the state, registering a growth of 21.7% compared to the previous year.
NetOxygen Boasts High Levels of Scalability and Stability May 30, 2012 553 Views in Origination, Servicing, Technology Agents & Brokers Company News Lenders & Servicers Processing Service Providers 2012-05-30 Sara Ortega Lending solutions provider Wipro Gallagher Solutions (WGS) announced Wednesday the results of a third-party scalability test of its loan origination system, NetOxygen, at levels of 10,000 to 20,000 users.[IMAGE]””Our testing found that WGS’ NetOxygen provides full loan management and origination functionality with fast processing times, even at high user loads,”” Kevin Tolly, president of Tolly Group which conducted the test. “”The architecture allows for scaling both horizontally and vertically.””[COLUMN_BREAK]The test database simulated the size of a typical large lender and was pre-populated with more than half a million loans. At 20,000 user load levels, more than 34,000 price-related transactions occurred during peak hours and more than 17,000 documents packages were created. On average the response time remained flat throughout peak at both 10,000 and 20,000 user loads.””We conducted a third-party review of our NetOxygen platform to provide a level of assurance to clients and prospective clients on the validity and integrity of our platform and to demonstrate its scalability at levels which exceed the needs of the nation’s largest lenders,”” said Narayan Bharadwaj, business head for WGS. The tests were conducted to validate NetOxygen’s ability to support large multi-channel, multi-product implementations, emphasize the full end-to-end loan origination functionality from lead management to post closing and demonstrate key transaction volumes to emphasize scalability. Wipro Gallagher Solutions is based in Tennessee and offers a variety of pricing models, including variable cost and outcome-based; business process outsourcing services; and rules-based workflow-enabled processes across the user’s enterprise. Share
Mortgage applications continued to fall last week following a sizable spike in interest rates, the “”Mortgage Bankers Association””:http://mbaa.org/default.htm (MBA) reported in its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.[IMAGE]The survey’s Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, dropped 3.0 percent (both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted) for the week ending June 21. The Refinance Index fell 5 percent from the previous week, dipping to its lowest level since November 2011. The refinance share of total mortgage activity also declined, falling to 67 percent–the lowest level since July 2011.[COLUMN_BREAK]Meanwhile, the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index actually rose, increasing 2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis and 1 percent unadjusted. Last week’s Purchase Index was 16 percent higher than the same week last year.””Interest rates moved up sharply following the Federal Reserve press conference last Wednesday where it was indicated that the Fed could begin tapering their asset purchases later this year,”” said Mike Fratantoni, VP of research and economics for MBA. “”Mortgage rates increased by the most in a single week since 2011, and refinance application volume dropped to its lowest level in almost two years.””Fratantoni also noted that government purchase applications declined further last week–“”likely a function of the recent increase in FHA [Federal Housing Administration] mortgage insurance premiums””–to a share of 28 percent, the lowest level in the history of that series.The average contract interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 4.46 percent last week, MBA reported, the highest rate since August 2011. Points fell to 0.35 for 80 percent loan-to-value ratio loans. application,Refinance Applications Fall as Rates Rocket Share Agents & Brokers Attorneys & Title Companies Investors Lenders & Servicers Mortgage Applications Mortgage Rates Purchase Loans Refinance Service Providers 2013-06-26 Tory Barringer in Origination June 26, 2013 430 Views
Forecast GDP Housing Starts 2014-12-11 Tory Barringer in Daily Dose, Featured, News Share In a year that’s seen promising—albeit unspectacular—growth, economists agree that one sector of the U.S. economy disappointed: the housing market.In a survey of 45 economists conducted by the Wall Street Journal, the panel largely agreed that throughout all of 2014, housing proved to be the weakest link in the economic chain, with weak household formations weighing down on demand and production.A year ago, economists surveyed by the Journal had predicted housing starts would surge 20 percent over 2014 to an annual rate of 1.11 million, a prediction that quickly fizzled as the year’s opening months brought poor weather and even poorer home sales.While new construction gained some life with the arrival of summer, numbers have failed to impress in the last few months. As of December, the group now predicts starts will total 1.05 million.For the overall economy, forecasters told the Journal they expect gross domestic product (GDP) will grow 2.2 percent in 2014, dialing back their prediction of 2.8 percent growth made last year. While second- and third-quarter reports have looked solid, the country spent much of the year’s first half shaking off a weak first quarter, which saw GDP contract at an annual rate of 2.1 percent.Despite missing on their predictions last year, the panel remains hopeful for 2015, forecasting 1.22 million housing starts and GDP growth of 2.9 percent as the job market continues to recover and wages pick up. December 11, 2014 568 Views Economists: Housing Biggest Disappointment of 2014
in Headlines, News NTC Offering Collateral File Audit and Remediation Service Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc. (NTC), a research and document processing company, recently announced that it will now offer a complete collateral file audit and remediation service that can be tailored to specific portfolios, investors, and objectives. This new offering is intended to reduce risk of buyback requests, increases certainty on reps and warrants from buyers, and increases value of assets presented for sale.The audit service will take the collateral files and have the documents audited using NTC’s document research and retrieval methods to bring the files up to a transferable standard, after which final results are reported, the company said.”The value of a mortgage-based loan portfolio is directly impacted by the completeness and accuracy-or lack thereof-of the collateral files of the loans of which it is comprised,” said John Hillman, NTC CEO. “In some portfolios we have audited, we have found errors in 40 percent to 60 percent of the loans. Remediating the exceptions in these loans increases the value of the entire portfolio, and enables the owner of the portfolio to make more money with each sale.”NTC says that the main benefits of the new service are complete file management under one servicer, from shipping, storage, remediation, assignments, property reports, exception management, and reporting; reduction of money wasted from buybacks and/or reintegration into servicing departments; increased certainty about representations and warranties from buyers; and increased value of the assets presented for sale. The company also notes that the interest for the collateral file audit and remediation service is high, however, for most clients it is an investment with strong return.NTC’s collateral file audit and remediation service includes:File intake, inventory, imaging, and indexing.Complete collateral file creation (combined servicing and collateral file supplied).Audit of the collateral fully customizable to the client’s specifications, by product, inventory, or intended disposition.Curative and remedial actions on any exceptions, missing collateral documents (mortgages, deeds, assignments, title policies), missing intervening assignments, complex assignment chain issues, title policies, lost note affidavit creation, lost affidavit creation and recordation.File management, including paid-in-full release services, assignment services, and optional default research/assignment services.A variety of property reports that can be customized to indicate lien position, broken assignment chains, current beneficiary, or current owner.Click here to read more about NTC’s Collateral File Audit and Remediation Service. June 16, 2015 575 Views Collateral File Audit Nationwide Title Clearing Inc. Remediation Service 2015-06-16 Staff Writer Share
in Daily Dose, Headlines, News, Origination, Technology Share Forecasting the Future Mortgage Lender January 4, 2016 608 Views Housing Market Mortgage Lender Wipro Gallagher Solutions 2016-01-04 Staff Writer The TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) rule has been shaking up the mortgage industry since October 3, 2015, and in turn, causing lenders everywhere to completely alter their loan origination procedures.Last month, Moodys Investors Services had everyone questioning if TRID violations were an epidemic in the industry. The Moody’s report found TRID compliance violations in over 90 percent of recent residential mortgage loans.Joey McDuffee, Head of Sales and Marketing at Wipro Gallagher Solutions sat down with MReport in an interview to discuss the implications among lenders stemming from the TRID rules and what the picture is expected to look like moving forward.MReport: Now that TRID is up and running, what can lenders expect moving forward in the housing industry?McDuffee: Following TRID implementation, we are coming up for a little bit of a breather now. I think going forward we still see an increase in regulatory scrutiny that the CFPB and others will have on the industry. I tend to refer to the velocity of regulatory changes being introduced as the “regulatory issue of the month club,” similar to the old “CD of the month club.” I think this is what we’ve all felt like, even going back to the RESPA and TILA changes back in 2010 and the QM/ATR changes from a couple of years ago. I don’t think this will ever go away. The costs associated with regulation likely deter new entrants from entering the mortgage industry, unless they have the dollars and the wherewithal to back it up. I don’t anticipate that many new mom and pop shops will make their way into the mortgage business because of the cost of entry with all of the compliance costs involved.Lender innovation has suffered at the hand of compliance over the last couple of years. However, in the post-TRID world, we might see regulatory activity serve as an innovation catalyst. Regulation has really generated a healthy restlessness amongst lenders and technology partners. Lenders will need to look at partners like technology players or other compliance specialists in the market to assist them in ensuring that their processes are compliant but perhaps even taking compliance one step further. Industry participants are incentivized to leverage technology-driven processes and digital capabilities that will reduce cost per loan and increase margins. Additionally, lenders are always on the lookout for an overall reduction in time to close and time to fund. These performance metrics aren’t just indicators of operational performance, but have significant implications on the customer’s experience and customer experience is really the leading focus for many lenders leading into 2016.As lenders shift from a transaction-based approach to an experience-based approach, we can expect to see lenders dedicate more time on developing self-service, digital, and social media channels. Naturally, a greater focus around omnichannel LOS technology will result. As channel strategy evolves and per loan costs remain high lenders simply can’t afford to manage each new channel on a different system or infrastructure. It is not practical.Joey McDuffeeMReport: No one really talks about social media in the mortgage industry. Do you think this is going to be a more prevalent medium in the future for lenders?McDuffee: Yes, I think that social media itself has not changed much, it has just gotten a lot faster, quicker, and more prevalent in the housing industry. The way in which lenders interact with digitally-driven or tech-savvy borrower is evolving. Digital touchpoints like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter will require lenders to build an aggressive social media strategy that includes outreach, monitoring, and management. Social media can be a best friend or a frenemy; you can just as quickly gain more customers through social media endorsements as you can public criticisms. With a well-defined social media strategy, lenders have a huge opportunity to build their brand, improve the customer experience, and drive engagement with the younger generation borrower.Furthermore, social media transactions provide valuable data. Lenders can analyze this data to provide a seamless, automated customer experience geared toward specific customer needs. So if I am a first-time home buyer, I may receive different products or suggestions compared to somebody looking to purchase an investment home for their family that is more established. I think using what I like to call “just in time data” to drive the right products and solutions to borrowers that data-supply chain will enable highly targeted customer segmentation.MReport: What are some tech “must-haves” for lenders? McDuffee: As more borrowers prioritize the experience of buying a product over the product itself, more lenders will refocus their technology investments toward digital and online innovations that will help drive that experience. That said, lenders who incorporate digital channels into their strategy should ensure that they have a robust omnichannel-enabled loan origination system that will support any type of product, and channel. An omnichannel-enabled origination system will not only eliminate the need to manage multiple technologies for different channels, but it will allow lenders to drive a consistent customer experience across all channels and throughout the course of the loan. It will also allow lenders to achieve a single view of the customer which is incredibly valuable when trying to analyze borrower behavior or cross sell other products.As the industry makes this shift to a customer-centric approach, mapping the customer journey will become a priority as it will allow lenders to define and automate customer-driven workflow based on the customer’s personal journey through the mortgage process. Automation is a must have whether we are talking about “straight-through” processing (automatically moving a loan from one person to another) or streamlining income or tax verifications.Finally, lenders need to be looking at eMortages, eClosings and borrower self-service tools. While the term “electronic” delivery still feels very 1980’s, it is a huge advancement that delivers significant improvements to the lending and borrowing experience. The days of six-hour closings may be coming to end. These capabilities offer significant productivity gains, cost savings, reduced carbon footprint and expedite timelines for the eager borrower.MReport: So how much in-person contact from lenders is really necessary in today’s market? At what point does tech become too much, if it ever does? McDuffee: Lenders really cover all segments of their target market and branch channels and in-person communication are still an important part of the mortgage business. One of the common myths is that the millennial does not value personal connections; however the millennial’s demand for a high-tech experience does not necessarily mean that they have devalued face-to-face experiences. According to a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study on millennials, “More than other generations, Millennials desire opportunities to interact with brands, to be listened to anywhere and anytime, and to have personal, timely, and straightforward communication about their concerns and experiences.” Surprised to hear that millennials are human and have emotions? Too often people pigeonhole this population and make assumptions.Combining digital technologies with human-centered experiences is really the ideal situation. With accessible, easy-to-use technology, more borrowers want to do more for themselves and they want to do things at whatever time is convenient. With self-service mortgage tools, borrowers can check loan status, get updates on next steps, and speed the transaction using eClosing and eSignature capabilities. On the other hand, the mortgage experience is still overwhelming and a little face to face interaction can provide an extra layer of confidence and calm. Some banks are promoting lifestyle aspects of their brand to appeal to these groups that prefer to do things at their own pace and on their own time. Borrowers can actually sit down, have a cup of coffee, and learn about mortgages and other products and services that lenders have to offer. Lenders that provide a personal experience and augment that with technology enablement with help lenders grow their business.MReport: As the millennial generation continues to rise in the housing market how can lenders effectively and efficiently reach this generation and get more of them into homes in the near future?McDuffee: Attracting the millennial population is a hot topic right now and it is difficult to pin down the right formula, however there are some noteworthy discussion that are circulating amongst mortgage lenders today and those include:Millennials are not robots. While this population is more inclined to use technology, assigning the “digital native” stigma to millennials may lead lenders to neglect some traditional mortgage marketing strategies that are still effective. It is important that lenders continue to challenge assumptions made on this group as they are considered to be one of the most diverse populations in the history of the US (according to PWC).Invest in understanding the millennial borrower and develop messaging based on your findings. Is “fear of missing out” or “FOMO” really preventing millennials from home buying? By understanding the how millennials perceive homeownership as well as their ability and will to buy a home, lenders will be able to build and deliver a more effective message. Keep in mind that this diverse population is known to value authenticity. Keep it real.Boost your marketing programs. Design a sophisticated multichannel marketing strategy that includes content marketing, social media, texting, mobile advertising, word of mouth, real estate networks, and ad retargeting to ensure that lenders are reaching their customers. Test and track what is working and repeat effective marketing programs.Self-service: Millennials demand a, simplified, tech-enabled, consistent and convenient experience. But who doesn’t want that? While a one click mortgage is not in the foreseeable future, there are ways to make the borrowing experience easier and more enjoyable for any borrower. Giving borrowers the opportunity to do things on their own time using self-service tools represents a huge opportunity in elevating the experience for millennials and non-millennials alike.Education: Even with self-service tools, the mortgage process is still cumbersome. Education presents lenders with an opportunity to build trust with the millennial borrower. Take the time to educate the borrower and show that you have their best interests at heart.Right Product and Program: There are many, many products and programs that cater to millennial borrowers whether that low insurance premiums or the 3 percent conventional loans offered by GSEs. Make sure that these opportunities are getting in front of millennials and remind them that the interest rates are still pretty low in the context of mortgage lending history.MReport: So what does the future outlook look like for lenders overall in terms of regulation, originations, technology, and profitability in a competitive market?McDuffee: To recap some of what we already discussed, the customer experience will trump all other trends in 2016 and beyond. Mortgage lenders will need to accept that transformation and it would be best if they did so proactively. Other Fintech firms, crowdfunders and non-traditional entrants that have access to credit will be a big force to reckon with in the future. Therefore, lenders will need to focus on getting a return on experience and using technology tools and customer engagement strategies to help deliver that experience in a way that also improves efficiencies, lowers per loan costs, and drives productivity.Regulation will continue to create challenges around cost per loan which may actually drive more innovation around automation, digital tools and self-service as these technologies may improve efficiencies, productivity, and drive more business. In terms of originations, we are seeing a lot of activity in the home equity (HELOC) market again. If this uptick continues, more lenders will need to quickly adapt their processes and technology to support these and other non-agency loan types.Click here to learn more about Wipro Gallagher Solutions.
After four years and a lot of rollercoaster rides, the mortgage originations market is zeroing in on the $2 trillion mark, according to Freddie Mac’s August 2016 Outlook report. Freddie Mac credited the balance between low interest rates and solid home sales as signs of an improving originations sector.“At the current pace, we’re likely to see the mortgage market top $2 trillion in originations for the first time since 2012,” said Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.Unlike in 2012, however, when the market was driven largely by refinances, today’s market is nearly 50/50 balanced between home refinances and purchases. “This is good news for home sales as we’re likely to see the best year in home sales in a decade,” Becketti said. “This is a good sign for the housing market as it continues to be an even brighter spot in the economy.”Mortgage rates, expected to stay below 4 percent into 2017, and more optimistic expectations for home sales (to 6.04 million, the highest number this decade) are Freddie Mac’s main leg on which to stand with its enthusiasm. The GSE expects strong home sales to boost 2016 forecasted mortgage originations by $175 billion over July’s forecast, and for housing construction to remain on an upward trend‒‒1.2 million and 1.4 million for 2016 and 2017, respectively.Source: Freddie MacThrough the first six months of 2016, home sales totaled 2.9 million, non-seasonally adjusted, according to the report. This is the fastest pace since the first half of 2007.“We are forecasting that home sales will outpace 2007 in the second half of this year, reaching the highest level since 2006,” the report stated.With the job market consistently improving, wage growth ticking higher, and mortgage interest rates remaining low, Freddie Mac expects home sales to rise throughout the rest of this year. But there is, of course, caution to the GSE’s predictions.“The housing market still has challenges, which is reflected in our housing starts forecast,” Becketti said. “Low levels of inventory across many markets will continue to put upward pressure on house prices for the foreseeable future.”“We expect GDP growth to bounce back to just over 2 percent for the remainder of 2016 as inventory investment rebounds and the drag by energy begins to ease and push nonresidential investment up,” the report stated. “However, recent global uncertainty and its effects on domestic production have led us to reduce our forecast for GDP growth in 2017 by 30 basis points to 1.9 percent.” The $2 Trillion Originations Market is Making a Comeback Freddie Mac Housing Outlook mortgage originations 2016-08-15 Seth Welborn in Daily Dose, News, Origination Share August 15, 2016 712 Views