Travel plans on your mind? You have a couple of destinations to visit and you have finalized them too. Everything is in place and all you have to do now is complete the booking. But wait! Are you getting the best price for your vacation? How do you know if there could be a better deal?
Finding the best travel deals is all about timing with some research. Travelling can be expensive but, incredible deals can help you cut down on expenses and save money for other things. There are specific deals that last for a very short time and you need to act really quick. That can be a real challenge, especially if the deal is on for a couple of days only.
However, most deals are available for a few months in the future, giving you the time and space to plan in advance.
When it comes to travelling, there are a host of requirements that cannot be overlooked. In fact, booking for your vacation consists of:
- Flight deals
- Cruise deals
- Hotel/Hostel/Homestays/Home Rental deals
- Transportation deals
- Travel insurance deals
- Tour/Holiday/Vacation deals
Considering this, be aware that, very often, irresistible deals meeting all the requirements are not always available on a single platform. Though there are websites that offer deals on multiple needs, dedicated websites are available that provide hot deals only for specific requirements.
Apart from these, specific websites are recommended by travel experts to book flights, cruises, hotels or other needs. Let’s start off by analysing each one and the ideal websites to grab the best deals.
Airfarewatchdog has a team of people who handpick the best fares from over 20,000 routes every day. They have been in the industry for over ten years and can instantly recognize a killer deal. A standout feature is Airfarewatchdog constantly monitors exclusive airline sites to extract only the greatest deals and discounts. What’s more? It also has catchy deals to almost anywhere worldwide for spontaneous travellers.
You can trust Google to extract numerous data and compare several airlines and agencies to guarantee a great deal. The distinct quality is, Google can clearly show the difference between good flights and cheap flights. Travellers can set certain parameters while searching for the best deals. Google Flights provides enhanced flexibility while modifying search options. If you are looking for random places to travel to, the “explore map” and “I’m feeling lucky” links show the best trip for the weekend. You can also get the cheapest days to fly to a destination if you are flexible with dates.
Offersworld aggregates daily flight deals from leading airline sources to top destinations. The vast network enables Offers world to bring only the best deal to your kitty in the shortest time possible.
A pioneer in global travel search sites, Skyscanner is available in 30 languages and in 70 currencies. The service has a unique ownership with everything in the travel industry to connect people directly to the latest deals and offers. Skyscanner has tied up with over 1,200 partners to bring in amazing deals.
A world-famous travel metasearch website, Momondo brings authentic results by comparing multiple airlines and booking sites. Travellers can get attractive deals based on price, speed, route or by a combination of two or more factors. You can check the price graph that displays the cheapest dates to fly in case you are flexible.
Hotel/Hostel/Homestay/Home Rental Deals
One of the leading travel e-commerce giants in the world, Booking.com connects travellers to a humongous network of incredible places to stay. Covering over 153,551 destinations across 228 countries, travelling for business or leisure is a cakewalk. Among multiple filtering options, filter option for landmarks within a certain radius is the unique one.There are more than the choicest options to stay for any type of traveller.
This remains an all-time favourite even among the most discerning travellers. A subsidiary of Expedia Group, Hotels.com is the go-to hotel booking site among millions of travellers. The website provides incomparable offers with the best price guarantee. Its rewards program is the icing on the cake. Travellers can enjoy incredible deals on independent hotels and famous chain hotels. Alternatively, exciting deals are updated regularly on flight & hotel packages.
If you are looking for the biggest choice of accommodation from anywhere in the world, Airbnb is your one-stop destination. Incredible deals and discounts on every type of accommodation are updated on a daily basis. Irrespective of where you travel to, Airbnb makes sure you will always get the best deal for your stay.
It’s the most unique online marketplace for hospitality service where you can filter your choice of accommodation unlike any other. You can search by neighbourhood, home rules & regulations, amenities and the property type. That’s not the end. Travellers can also book restaurants and experiences close to their location at attractively low prices.
This is a great option to book unique accommodations for solo travellers. There is an ocean of B&Bs, budget hotels, apartments and more. The website has city guides, travel features, videos & podcasts related to hostels and backpacking options. The website offers the best discounts on B&B, campsites, hostels and even hotels. You can choose to share a room with others or book a hostel with individual rooms depending on the number of travellers.
It’s a renowned name and a proven aggregator of travel options in the modern world. Offersworld emphasizes on providing unique holiday experiences, including comfortable stays at some of the best prices. Their expansive network of hospitality providers throws up new deals on distinct accommodations a regular basis. You can easily compare the prices and book the cheapest but the best option.
The best deals on the finest cruises minus the hidden charges. That’s CruiseSheet, the world’s leading online marketplace to book any type of cruise based on your duration of travel. There’s always some discount or the other available with an easy-to-use interface. Check out for some of the hottest deals available on transoceanic cruises lasting up to 30 days.
For never-before deals on cruises, this platform keeps enthusiastic travellers on cloud nine. This is the only source where travellers will find unbelievable deals on a host of last-minute cruises on the best cruise lines. It also has a unique “Find a Bargain” tool that stocks early bird discounts, two for the price of one offers and other incredible promotional offers.
Ideal for the flexible and spontaneous traveller, Seascanner brings a fine selection of last-minute cruises at the most attractive prices. These cruises usually range for 14 days and are suitable for last-minute family travel, adventure and couple getaways. They provide amazing value for your money without any hidden charges.
Nothing beats Expedia while it comes to comparing several car rental companies and sealing the best deal. Filter by date, time, the pick-up and drop-off location and, voila, you have a selection of cars to choose from. Enjoy the hottest deals while filtering by car type and specifications. That’s not the only thing. You can also choose the neighbourhood from where you want to book the car.
Owned by Expedia Group, Orbitz curates a wide selection of amazing deals on the finest car rental providers. Also known for discounted hotel, flight and cruise bookings, Orbitz offers personalized car rental experience including one-way car deals, deals on road trips and a combination of car & hotel booking. It offers seamless experience for users with constant updates on the latest deals.
Again owned by the Expedia Group, travellers can expect the cheapest rentals and hottest deals on their choice of car. Booking your car with Travelocity breaks the tourist traps and experience the adventure as you increase your savings.
Last-minute deals, weekend getaways, family trips, etc. Whatever your type of travel, Offersworld keeps you delighted with a host of irresistible holiday deals worldwide. Most holiday packages include flight bookings and certain ones, a combination of others. Whether you are looking for theme park tours, beach getaways, outdoor adventure or sightseeing options, Offersworld a great deal on the hottest destinations.
If you are looking for the bet vacations in affordable packages, Travelocity should be your choice. They craft the finest international vacations that combine flight, accommodation and local transportation in an economical bundle. Travellers can choose discounted packages for specific destinations or select regions. Whatever the choice, travellers are bound to enjoy the hottest deals on memorable vacation packages.
Grab the best deals from an extensive variety of travel packages, based on the destination and the theme. Intrepid Travel is home to the most exuberant adventure travel options available at prices that surprise. The small group adventure travel enterprise provides the biggest deals on unique travel experiences.
Travel Insurance Deals
Injury, health issues, accidents, theft & loss and other uncertain moments can mar your holiday. Kick them out of your vacation with reliable travel insurance. Reliable travel insurance means heading to World Nomads. This go-to travel insurance company offers comprehensive coverage with unmatched customer service to maximise your safety and enjoyment. Once you have their travel insurance in your kitty, travelling will be the way of life. You can pick flexible travel insurance for various activities and several destinations, including safety advice as you travel with confidence and in high spirits.
Once you buy travel insurance from World Nomads, you can claim online from anywhere worldwide.
Insure My Trip
This is yet another trusted and reliable travel insurance company providing several coverages and exclusive plans. You can choose plans at economical prices ranging from comprehensive, medical, evacuation, accidental death and vacation rental damage.
Travellers can also choose group plans or multi-trip plans and travel stress-free with confidence. You can conveniently choose from top plans for your trip. Get them for unbeatable prices and, if not satisfied, get your money back.
The Final Word
Travelling is not just about travelling to your favourite destination but travelling the economical way. Proper groundwork and well-planned itinerary with offers help you accumulate money for your next adventure. Signing up for newsletters and acquiring membership on travel sites opens you to receive attractive deals on a variety of destinations.
Staying updated with the latest happenings in the travel industry increases your chances to grab the finest deals on travelling.
The Psychology Behind a Strong Security Culture in the Financial Sector
By Javvad Malik, Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4
Banks and financial industries are quite literally where the money is, positioning them as prominent targets for cybercriminals worldwide. Unfortunately, regardless of investments made in the latest technologies, the Achilles heel of these institutions is their employees. Often times, a human blunder is found to be a contributing factor of a security breach, if not the direct source. Indeed, in the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, miscellaneous errors were found vying closely with web application attacks for the top cause of breaches affecting the financial and insurance sector. A secretary may forward an email to the wrong recipient or a system administrator may misconfigure firewall settings. Perhaps, a user clicks on a malicious link. Whatever the case, the outcome is equally dire.
Having grown acutely aware of the role that people play in cybersecurity, business leaders are scrambling to establish a strong security culture within their own organisations. In fact, for many leaders across the globe, realising a strong security culture is of increasing importance, not solely for fear of a breach, but as fundamental to the overall success of their organisations – be it to create customer trust or enhance brand value. Yet, the term lacks a universal definition, and its interpretation varies depending on the individual. In one survey of 1,161 IT decision makers, 758 unique definitions were offered, falling into five distinct categories. While all important, these categories taken apart only feature one aspect of the wider notion of security culture.
With an incomplete understanding of the term, many organisations find themselves inadvertently overconfident in their actual capabilities to fend off cyberthreats. This speaks to the importance of building a single, clear and common definition from which organisations can learn from one another, benchmark their standing and construct a comprehensive security programme.
Defining Security Culture: The Seven Dimensions
In an effort to measure security culture through an objective, scientific method, the term can be broken down into seven key dimensions:
- Attitudes: Formed over time and through experiences, attitudes are learned opinions reflecting the preferences an individual has in favour or against security protocols and issues.
- Behaviours: The physical actions and decisions that employees make which impact the security of an organisation.
- Cognition: The understanding, knowledge and awareness of security threats and issues.
- Communication: Channels adopted to share relevant security-related information in a timely manner, while encouraging and supporting employees as they tackle security issues.
- Compliance: Written security policies and the extent that employees adhere to them.
- Norms: Unwritten rules of conduct in an organisation.
- Responsibilities: The extent to which employees recognise their role in sustaining or endangering their company’s security.
All of these dimensions are inextricably interlinked; should one falter so too would the others.
The Bearing of Banks and Financial Institutions
Collecting data from over 120,000 employees in 1,107 organisations across 24 countries, KnowBe4’s ‘Security Culture Report 2020’ found that the banking and financial sectors were among the best performers on the security culture front, with a score of 76 out of a 100. This comes as no surprise seeing as they manage highly confidential data and have thus adopted a long tradition of risk management as well as extensive regulatory oversight.
Indeed, the security culture posture is reflected in the sector’s well-oiled communication channels. As cyberthreats constantly and rapidly evolve, it is crucial that effective communication processes are implemented. This allows employees to receive accurate and relevant information with ease; having an impact on the organisation’s ability to prevent as well as respond to a security breach. In IBM’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach study, the average reported response time to detect a data breach is 207 days with an additional 73 days to resolve the situation. This is in comparison to the financial industry’s 177 and 56 days.
Moreover, with better communication follows better attitude – both banking and financial services scored 80 and 79 in this department, respectively. Good communication is integral to facilitating collaboration between departments and offering a reminder that security is not achieved solely within the IT department; rather, it is a team effort. It is also a means of boosting morale and inspiring greater employee engagement. As earlier mentioned, attitudes are evaluations, or learned opinions. Therefore, by keeping employees informed as well as motivated, they are more likely to view security best practices favourably, adopting them voluntarily.
Predictably, the industry ticks the box on compliance as well. The hefty fines issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the past year alone, including Capital One’s $80 million penalty, probably play a part in keeping financial institutions on their toes.
Nevertheless, there continues to be room for improvement. As it stands, the overall score of 76 is within the ‘moderate’ classification, falling a long way short of the desired 90-100 range. So, what needs fixing?
Towards Achieving Excellence
There is often the misconception that banks and financial institutions are well-versed in security-related information due to their extensive exposure to the cyber domain. However, as the cognition score demonstrates, this is not the case – dawdling in the low 70s. This illustrates an urgent need for improved security awareness programmes within the sector. More importantly, employees should be trained to understand how this knowledge is applied. This can be achieved through practical exercises such as simulated phishing, for example. In addition, training should be tailored to the learning styles as well as the needs of each individual. In other words, a bank clerk would need a completely different curriculum to IT staff working on the backend of servers.
By building on cognition, financial institutions can instigate a sense of responsibility among employees as they begin to recognise the impact that their behaviour might have on the company. In cybersecurity, success is achieved when breaches are avoided. In a way, this negative result removes the incentive that typically keeps employees engaged with an outcome. Training methods need to take this into consideration.
Then there are norms and behaviours, found to have strong correlations with one another. Norms are the compass from which individuals refer to when making decisions and negotiating everyday activities. The key is recognising that norms have two facets, one social and the other personal. The former is informed by social interactions, while the latter is grounded in the individual’s values. For instance, an accountant may connect to the VPN when working outside of the office to avoid disciplinary measures, as opposed to believing it is the right thing to do. Organisations should aim to internalise norms to generate consistent adherence to best practices irrespective of any immediate external pressures. When these norms improve, behavioural changes will reform in tandem.
Building a robust security culture is no easy task. However, the unrelenting efforts of cybercriminals to infiltrate our systems obliges us to press on. While financial institutions are leading the way for other industries, much still needs to be done. Fortunately, every step counts -every improvement made in one dimension has a domino effect in others.
Has lockdown marked the end of cash as we know it?
By James Booth, VP of Payment Partnerships EMEA, PPRO
Since the start of the pandemic, businesses around the world have drastically changed their operations to protect employees and customers. One significant shift has been the discouragement of the use of cash in favour of digital and contactless payment methods. On the surface, moving away from cash seems like the safe, obvious thing to do to curb the spread of the virus. But, the idea of being propelled towards an innovative, digital-first, cashless society is also compelling.
Has cashless gone viral?
Recent months have forced the world online, leading to a surge in e-commerce with UK online sales seeing a rise of 168% in May and steady growth ever since. In fact, PPRO’s transaction engine, has seen online purchases across the globe increase dramatically in 2020: purchases of women’s clothing are up 311%, food and beverage by 285%, and healthcare and cosmetics by 160%.
Alongside a shift to online shopping, a recent report revealed 7.4 million in the UK are now living an almost cashless life – claiming changing payment habits has left Britons better prepared for life in lockdown. In fact, according to recent research from PPRO, 45% of UK consumers think cash will be a thing of the past in just five years. And this UK figure reflects a global trend. For example, 46% of Americans have turned to cashless payments in the wake of COVID-19. And in Italy, the volume of cashless transactions has skyrocketed by more than 80%.
More choice than ever before
Whilst the pandemic and restrictions surrounding cash have certainly accelerated the UK towards a cashless society, the proliferation of local payment methods (LPMs) in the UK, such as PayPal, Klarna and digital wallets, have also been a key driver. Today, 31% of UK consumers report they are confident using mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay. Those in Generation Z are particularly keen, with 68% expressing confidence using them.
As LPM usage continues to accelerate, the use of credit and debit cards are likely to decline in the coming years. Whilst older generations show an affinity with plastic, younger consumers feel less secure around its usage. 96% of Baby Boomers and Generation X confirmed they feel confident using credit/debit cards, compared to just 75% of Generation Z.
Does social distancing mean financial exclusion?
As we hurtle into a digital age, leaving cash in the rearview, there are ramifications of going completely cashless to consider. We must take into consideration how removing cash could disenfranchise over a quarter of our society; 26% of the global population doesn’t have a traditional bank account. Across Latin America, 38% of shoppers are unbanked, and nearly 1 in 5 online transactions are completed with cash. While in Africa and the Middle East, only 50% of consumers are banked in the traditional sense, and 12% have access to a credit card. Even here in the UK, approximately 1.3 million UK adults are classed as unbanked, exposing the large number of consumers affected by any ban on cash.
Even when shopping online – many consumers rely on cash-based payments. At the checkout page, consumers are provided with a barcode for their order. They take this barcode (either printed or on their mobile device) to a local convenience store or bank and pay in cash. At that point, the goods are shipped.
There are also older generations to consider. Following the closure of one in eight banks and cashpoints during Coronavirus, the government faced calls to act swiftly to protect access to cash, as pensioners struggled to access their savings. Despite the direction society is headed, there are a significant number of older people that still rely on cash – they have grown up using it. With an estimated two million people in the UK relying on cash for day to day spending, it is important that it does not disappear in its entirety.
Supporting the transition away from cash
Cashless protocols not only restrict access to goods and services for consumers but also limit revenue opportunity for merchants. While 2020 has provided the global economy with one great reason to reduce the acceptance of cash, the payments industry has billions of reasons to offer multiple options that cater to the needs of every kind of shopper around the world.
Whilst it seems younger generations are driving LPM adoption, it is important that older generations aren’t forgotten. If online shops fail to offer a variety of preferred payment methods, consumers will not hesitate to shop elsewhere. With 44% of consumers reporting they would stop a purchase online if their favourite payment method wasn’t available – this is something merchants need to address to attract and retain loyal customers.
UnionPay increases online acceptance across Europe and worldwide with Online Travel Agencies
- UnionPay International today announces that two of Europe’s leading travel companies, Logitravel and Destinia, have started accepting UnionPay.
- This acceptance will enable users of the groups’ travel websites to make purchases using UnionPay payment methods.
The acceptance partnerships between the OTAs and UnionPay began in July 2020 for customers across 13 European countries and another 90 countries and regions worldwide. The European countries covered by the agreements include the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary and Ireland. The brands covered by these acceptances include Logitravel.com and Destinia.com which together deliver more than 8.5 million worldwide travel bookings each year covering flights, hotels, holidays, car hire and other experiences.
With over 8.4 billion cards issued in 61 countries and regions worldwide, UnionPay has the world’s largest cardholder base and is the preferred payment brand for many Chinese and Asian expatriates and students based in Europe, as well as an increasing number of global customers. These cardholders are also particularly attractive to the two OTAs. Despite the impact of Covid-19, Logitravel and Destinia expect to see the demand for travel across the European continent as well as that between Europe and Asia return to growth in the coming years. They are now placing significant focus on offering more payment options and smoother payment services to meet this demand.
The partnerships incorporate UnionPay’s ExpressPay and SecurePlus technology, which will ensure seamless transactions for the customers, contained within a single process through the relevant websites. UnionPay’s technology also provides for the requirement to authenticate transactions under the EU regulation Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) ensuring that sites will be compliant as soon as the relevant countries apply the requirements.
Wei Zhihong, UnionPay International’s Market Director, said: “This is a major partnership with two of Europe’s leading online travel companies. Logitravel and Destinia are brands which have been at the forefront of e-commerce for many years and we are very excited to be working with them to extend their reach to new audiences. This highlights the work that we have carried out in ensuring that our technology provides effective solutions for the biggest e-commerce sites both in Europe and around the world. We look forward to announcing many more similar agreements in the near future.”
Jesús Pons, Chief Financial Officer at Logitravel Group said: “UnionPay has always been on our radar, and since travel has become a crucial part of its development, Logitravel felt it important to develop this important partnership. It really was an obvious decision for Logitravel since both companies share a passion for e-commerce and emphasising the payment experience for their customers.”
Ricardo Fernández, Managing Director at Destinia Group said: “We believe that this is the beginning of a really strong relationship. Our discussions with UnionPay in reaching this partnership have demonstrated their understanding of the needs of major online merchants and their ability to deliver the highest quality systems. We look forward to working together on further partnership as we move forward.”
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