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Montréal-Trudeau Airport (YUL) has for the first time been awarded a prestigious 4-Star rating under the Skytrax World Airport Star Rating program, joining the ranks of other major world airports. The results obtained from this ranking, considered a benchmark in the global airport industry, stem from an audit conducted last March.
This fourth star recognizes the major investments made in recent years to modernize the airport’s infrastructure and achieve the highest industry standards, as well as employee efforts to enhance the passenger experience day after day.
“In 2018, Aéroports de Montréal challenged itself to obtain a 4-Star Skytrax rating for the YUL site,” said Philippe Rainville, President and CEO of Aéroports de Montréal. “After pushing our limits and raising the bar to improve customer experience, we learned today that the challenge has been successfully met. ADM is extremely proud of the dedication and excellent work done by all employees at the airport and in the airport community.”
In the past year, many initiatives have been put in place to enhance the passenger experience and the fluidity of processes, as well as to optimize terminal maintenance. YUL now has a new team of ambassadors serving passengers, technology-based control and monitoring processes to ensure the cleanliness of facilities, self-service baggage check-in kiosks, and a fifth baggage carousel in the international zone.
The “World Airport Star Rating,” created in 2000, is recognized in the industry as a global benchmark for airport standards. Ratings range from 1 Star to the most prestigious 5-Star rating. Skytrax specializes in ranking international airline organizations and advises airlines and airports around the world on ways to improve the quality of service delivery and facility management.
Through a strategic partnership between Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, and Volara, the voice hub for the hospitality industry, visitors to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center are finding their way around the facility and hosted events easier than ever before through an ever-familiar voice.
The new voice-based wayfinding solution atop Amazon Alexa is powered by Volara’s market-leading enterprise-grade conversation management technology. Inside the 2.3 million-square-foot building sits wayfinding kiosks that host the voice assistant. Visitors are encouraged to ask Alexa about happenings within the convention center and ask where to find meeting spaces, food-and-beverage outlets, the closest shoe shine, the business center and more. More than 50 kiosks featuring the Volara-powered solution on Amazon Alexa will greet visitors, and voice commands will extend outside the facility to local businesses, services and attractions.
“At the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, we aim to provide our customers with a memorable experience,” said Samuel Thomas, senior vice president and general manager of Events DC. “Most people are tech savvy, and they want to have real-time access to the information they need in a format they are most accustomed to using. We partnered with Volara to provide wayfinding on voice command. Now event goers can get their questions answered quickly without having to seek out staff; it’s quick and efficient. We aren’t replacing face-to-face employee interaction – customer service is our core value and the reason we engaged in this project. This voice technology enables us to scale personal service and gives our customers the option to get information their way. It’s exciting.”
Wayfinding is just the first step. Thomas said his team is working with Volara to add more commands to the voice assistant with the goal of personalizing experiences for visitors. Show organizers can customize or brand kiosks strategically placed in their event locations. Volara’s conversation management engine will then be leveraged to respond to voice prompts for each event. The convention center is considering selling kiosk sponsorships as a value-added service. An automobile manufacturer, for example, may want to sponsor all kiosks in the Convention Center during The Auto Show, providing a good revenue stream for the facility and making the event more interactive, informative and fun.
“When we tell customers about this voice initiative, they get really excited,” Thomas said. “We are always trying to find ways to reinvent ourselves and provide better services for customers, and technology is at the core. Recently we added smart furniture to the public areas that contain USB ports or standardized plugs to keep people connected. We are one of the first convention centers to offer free WiFi. And, through our strategic partnership with Digital Conventions, we now have the most robust digital signage program in the country. This voice project with Volara is yet another added service that we are providing to our customers. With the flexibility of Volara’s software, the sky is the limit.”
Lasan Coger, general manager of Digital Conventions, said he was intrigued when Thomas approached him about the wayfinding by voice command initiative. “A collaborative team from Events DC, Digital Conventions and Volara met and put our minds together to see how we could launch this program. It was challenging to get to where we are today, but everyone involved loved the challenge, and more importantly, we love the product. When we see the responses from attendees at our events, it validates what we are doing, and we can’t wait to expand this program.”
Volara provides platform agnostic voice-based conversation management software and a secure integrations hub to the hospitality venues. Its software turns the leading consumer voice assistants (Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and IBM Watson) into a business tool that drives more efficient customer service, influences visitors’ behaviors, and improves net promoter scores. Volara is a launch partner for both Google Assistant Interpreter Mode and Alexa for Hospitality.
“We are thrilled to bring wayfinding on voice command to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center,” said David Berger, Volara CEO. “We see Convention Centers, Casinos, Malls, Stadiums, Amusement Parks or any venue that can benefit from wayfinding as an exciting vertical for Volara. This successful deployment is proof that Volara-powered voice assistants can make a venue more visitor friendly, easier to navigate and more efficiently operated. Today we have a waiting list of convention centers that are eager to deploy our solution. The interest is overwhelming.”
To learn more about Volara-powered voice assistant programs, visit volara.io.
The event theme, “Go for Launch,” was a nod to the Port’s key role with the U.S. space program and Port Canaveral’s new terminal with its futuristic design, which was inspired by nearby Kennedy Space Center. The $163 million terminal project – the largest in the Port’s 65-year history – is scheduled for completion in May 2020 and will be ready for the arrival of Mardi Gras to her year-round Port Canaveral homeport in October 2020.
At a space-themed ceremony today, the Canaveral Port Authority and longtime cruise partner Carnival Cruise Line officially broke ground for construction of Port Canaveral’s new Cruise Terminal 3 complex. The new terminal, dubbed the Launch Pad, will be the home of Mardi Gras, the cruise line’s newest and most innovative ship, beginning in 2020. Port Authority Commissioners and the Port’s leadership team joined Carnival Cruise Line executives for the ceremonial groundbreaking at the project site as NASA’s “Spaceman” planted a Carnival Cruise Line flag on a simulated lunar landscape.
“Today’s groundbreaking is a historic milestone for our Port and underscores the long-standing partnership we have with Carnival,” Port CEO Capt. John Murray said. “The trust and confidence we’ve earned with our great cruise partner has been the foundation of success and we are excited for what the future holds. We’re building a great new terminal, for an innovative new ship, and looking forward to welcoming home Mardi Gras.”
Added Carnival President Christine Duffy, “We began our operations from Port Canaveral nearly 30 years go – coincidentally with our original ship of the same name. We’ve had a great relationship with Port Canaveral during that time and we’re proud, honored and excited that our newest and most innovative ship, Mardi Gras, will sail from the new Terminal 3. We are pleased to be the port’s number one cruise line and Mardi Gras promises to be a spectacular addition to the Space Coast.”
CT3 ceremonial first dig (L-R) Scott Bakos, Bermello Ajamil & Partners, Inc; Jerry Allender, CPA Commissioner; Wayne Justice, CPA Commissioner; Christine Duffy, President Carnival Cruise Line; Capt. John Murray, CEO Port Canaveral; Micah Loyd, CPA Commission Chairman; Rocky Johnson, Ivey’s Construction, Inc.
Port Canaveral and Carnival Cruise Line executives held a “pre-launch mission” news conference complete with a mock countdown, then grabbed shovels on the terminal construction site for the ceremonial first dig to officially kick off construction. Participants included Wayne Justice, Canaveral Port Authority Commissioner; Christine Duffy, President, Carnival Cruise Line; Capt. John Murray, Port Canaveral CEO; Micah Loyd, Canaveral Port Authority Commission Chairman; Jerry Allender, Canaveral Port Authority Commissioner; Rocky Johnson, Vice President, Ivey’s Construction Inc.; and Scott Bakos, Partner with Bermello Ajamil & Partners Inc., a Miami firm providing architecture and engineering design work for the project.
“We are proud to be building this state-of-the-art facility and looking forward to providing Carnival’s cruise guests with a first-class guest experience,” Port Commissioner Wayne Justice said. “Building the new cruise terminal, like each of our construction projects at Port Canaveral, is an investment in building our community.”
The contract to build the two-story, 187,000 sq. ft. terminal facility and adjacent six-story parking garage was awarded to Merritt Island, Florida-based Ivey’s Construction. The terminal will feature a high-tech baggage processing facility and a state-of-the-art check-in and security area on its second floor, with kiosks and seating for 1,700 guests. The six-story 692,000 sq. ft. parking garage will accommodate 1,800 vehicles.
Construction of the cruise terminal’s marine facility got underway last year with a contract awarded to Titusville, Florida-based contractor RUSH Marine to remove the existing pier structures at the site and build a new 1,309-foot-long berth for Mardi Gras. Substantial completion of the project is scheduled for December 2019.
Port Canaveral’s Launch Pad will be homeport to Carnival’s largest and most innovative cruise ship, Mardi Gras, which will be powered by liquified natural gas (LNG) – part of Carnival Corporation’s “green cruising” platform. Mardi Gras will be the first cruise ship in North America to be powered by this clean fuel technology. Port Canaveral has worked with federal, state and local public safety and regulatory officials to ensure the Port’s safety readiness for the ship’s arrival. Fuel providers will employ widely used and proven safe best practices of a ship-to-ship “bunkering” refueling, which is regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Currently under construction in Meyer Turku, Finland, Mardi Gras will arrive at Port Canaveral mid-October 2020 and will feature BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea, 20 passenger decks and six distinctive theme zones of fun, dining and entertainment: Grand Central; the French Quarter with Emeril’s Bistro 1369, the first restaurant at sea created by famed New Orleans chef Emeril Lagasse; La Piazza; Summer Landing; Lido; and the Ultimate Playground.
After a special eight-day cruise to the Caribbean on Oct. 16, 2020, Mardi Gras will commence year-round seven-day cruises on Oct. 24, 2020, alternating weekly to the Eastern and Western Caribbean. Eastern voyages will take Mardi Gras to San Juan, Puerto Rico, Amber Cove, Dominican Republic, and Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos, while Western sailings will travel to Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, and Mahogany Bay (Isla Roatan), Honduras.
First-day bookings for Mardi Gras in January 2019 broke opening-day sales records for a new Carnival ship, according to the cruise line.
Carnival named its newest cruise ship after its first cruise ship. The original 27,000-ton Mardi Gras, a converted trans-Atlantic liner, entered service in 1972 and popularized cruise vacations in the United States, helping Carnival become the largest cruise company in the world today. In March 1991, the 1,241-guest Mardi Gras became one of the first Carnival ships to homeport at Port Canaveral, where she offered three- and four-day cruises to the Bahamas until she and sister ship Carnivale were replaced by the Carnival Fantasy in October 1993.
Mardi Gras’ arrival in Port Canaveral in 2020 will mark 30 years that Carnival Cruise Line has been sailing from Port Canaveral, the longest of any of the Port’s cruise partners. The Port Authority Board of Commissioners approved a long-term operating agreement with Carnival in August 2018.
Construction of the highly anticipated Closed Harbour Beach Park in Montego Bay will begin following the official groundbreaking by Prime Minister, the Most Hon Andrew Holness yesterday.
The project, which is being primarily funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and executed by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), will be the largest transformative development for the parish and largest of its kind in the Caribbean.
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In addressing stakeholders at the Closed Harbour site, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said, “Montego Bay has a special place in Jamaica and it represents the essence of what it is to be Jamaican with its enterprise, industry and creativity,
This city can become the pearl of the Caribbean and we are making the necessary investments and through development, rule of law and public order this can become a reality.”
Prime Minister Holness added, “As the government undertakes this project, i want to assure the citizens of St. James that we will not allow the tourism industry to grow without including you,
The Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett, is the biggest advocate for pensions, training and development and ensuring the profits of the sector redound to the people and this project will be one such example.”
Closed Harbour Beach Park is estimated to cost J$1.296Billion and will include extensive work to create a beach futsal and multipurpose court, basketball and netball courts, kids play area, food kiosks and outdoor dining area.
Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett, in highlighting the significance of this project, said “Closed harbour is at the core of what Jamaica’s tourism is about and that is to enhance and develop our products which will be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. It forms part of our overall vision to reimage tourism in Jamaica,
We are committed to building out these types of spaces because our first obligation is to our people to ensure they have access to the best beaches and experiences such as these.”
Minister Bartlett added, “There’s no doubt that the Closed Harbour Beach Park will be the most transformative development for Montego Bay and we are going to carry out the vision of re-imaging Montego Bay as a premier destination under the direction of our Prime Minister.”
Minister of National Security, Hon Dr. Horace Chang stated that the project represents “Integrated development and will signal the new Montego Bay.”
Mayor of Montego Bay, Councillor Homer Davis said, “This closed harbour beach is for the people of Montego Bay and people of Jamaica. I am pleased to be Mayor at this time to witness this important development that will benefit so many.”
The UDC will act as project managers for the project which will also see a waterfront rehabilitation component. This will include rehabilitating the groynes that were created in the 1970s that have since been eroded.