Welcome to the lastminute.com social media press office. Here you'll find all of the latest news and deals alongside some cool photography, videos and a widget or two as well. Stick around, have a play and let us know what you think.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Skiing more popular than ever despite credit crunch

lastminute.com experiences a record number of ski bookings for this winter season
The ski holiday appears to be immune to credit crunch with leading online travel and leisure retailer lastminute.com revealing a record number of people will be on the piste this winter.
lastminute.com’s ski bookings are up a whopping 68% on last year, with bookings being made from as early as May – a full five months before the ski booking seasons gets in to full swing.
Non-Euro zone destinations are really benefiting from the Pound's poor exchange rate with the Euro, with Bulgaria and Scandinavian resorts – particularly those in Norway – seeing large year on year bookings increases. 
lastminute.com puts the record number of bookings down to the importance skiers place on the hitting the slopes.
In many cases, the ski holiday is the event of the year for regular skiers. These holidays often involve large groups of friends and family and are usually planned way in advanced and talked about until the following year’s holiday.
Furthermore, lastminute.com believes more first time skiers are donning their salopettes as they look for a reason to escape fears of a recession in the UK.
Skiers may be refusing to give up their time on the slops despite the doom and gloom surrounding the economy. However, the credit crunch is having an impact on where people go skiing with better value destinations proving even more popular than ever before. 
Bookings for Bulgaria - the best value European ski destination - are up a massive 30% as skiers look to get more snow for their Pounds. Bulgaria is also benefiting from being outside the Euro-zone and the more advantageous exchange rate with the Bulgarian Lev.
Booking for ski breaks in the US have also increased by 40%.
Meanwhile, bookings to the St Anton resort in Austria have increased by an impressive 21%, while Tignes, Flaine and Chamonix in France all recording bookings increases.
lastminute.com Sales Director Andy Washington said: “Skiers value their time on the slopes so much they were never going to let the credit crunch stop them from enjoying the snow.
“Bulgaria and the US ski resorts are really benefiting from being outside the Euro zone as skiers look for the best value holidays. 
“lastminute.com is delighted to see ski bookings up by almost half with bookings starting from as early as May . Now the main ski booking season is underway we expect the level of bookings to continue.”

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

lastminute.com launches radar

radar is the first system to integrate the wi-fi Gears feature from Google

Leading travel and leisure innovator lastminute.com today launches its revolutionary wi-fi enabled system radar that allows customers to search for local leisure offers.

radar is the first system to integrate the wi-fi Gears feature that Google also launched today .

Wi-fi users can use radar to see nearby leisure offers.  The system launches with a hotels search and will soon expand to include theatres, restaurants and other leisure activities.

radar is aimed at people travelling with a laptop but can also be used at home.

The system works by detecting wi-fi connections in range of the user’s laptop.

Gears wi-fi works throughout the UK and enables radar to show nearby leisure amenities with an accuracy of 100 metres.

radar also works from a standard broadband internet connection, however is not as accurate as when used with a wi-fi connection.

lastminute.com Head of Innovation, Marko Balabanovic said: "The lastminute.com customer always wants to be inspired and informed of the best leisure deals.

“radar allows lastminute.com’s customers to view and book the leisure options close to where they are at any given moment. It a great tool which allows us to present our customers with the most relevant offers to them.”

To view radar visit http://labs.lastminute.com/radar

radar is the second project from lastminute.com labs using Gears, following the launch of fonefood in August.

fonefood allows Windows Mobile phone users to book nearby European restaurants.  It is available at m.lastminute.com/fonefood, or in the UK by texting fonefood to 85959.

lastminute.com unveils revolutionary search tool pronto

lastminute.com is revolutionising the online travel industry with its unique sentence search tool pronto.

pronto is a one box search function that allows the construction of a sentence to search for travel and leisure options, for example ‘Paris on Friday’, ‘I would like a 5 star hotel on 10 November in Gran Canaria for 3 nights’, ‘table for two in Covent Garden this evening’.

pronto is the customer-friendly alternative to the traditional drop down box search system used by all online travel providers including lastminute.com.

The lastminute.com homepage has a total of 78 search boxes across its ten travel and leisure product tabs including hotels, flights and theatre. Including the ‘advance search facility’ there are a total of 162 search boxes.

pronto, which is launching this week to co-inside with lastminute.com’s 10th birthday, allows customers to search for their leisure requirements across all categories using just the one box. The system launches covering hotels, flights and restaurants.

pronto was developed following intensive research that uncovered people newer to online travel sites do not have the patience to fill in all the different boxes.

These people find traditional online travel sites cluttered and the standard search process hard work.

Following these findings seven alternative search prototypes were developed and tested with customers.

These included a circular ‘polo search’ function with options appearing as your mouse sweeps around a circle, and a large intricate drawing showing all kinds of trips and holidays, with the ability to zoom around and choose visually.

pronto received the most positive feedback as participants found it a friendly and inspiring way to search for travel and leisure experiences by typing in what they wanted rather than filling in big forms.

lastminute.com Head of Innovation Marko Balabanovic said: “The search engines have made the one box search system the standard way to search for information online, so it makes sense that travel and leisure products should be searched for in the same way.

“Innovation has been at the heart of lastminute.com since its launch in 1998. pronto makes its even easy for the consumer to make the most of their leisure time, which is exactly what lastminute.com has stood for over the past 10 years.”

pronto has a patent pending on its search functionality.

To experience pronto visit http://www.lastminute.com/pronto

Many happy returns as lastminute.com turns ten

lastminute.com is celebrating its tenth birthday today, marking a decade at the top of the online travel industry since the dot com revolution.

Launched by entrepreneurs Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox in 1998, lastminute.com prospered where other online firms failed and is now the leading player in the travel and leisure arena.

Built on the concept of offering consumers five-star products at three star prices, lastminute.com began by selling holidays, hotels and flights and has now grown to provide a full travel and leisure offering including theatre and festival tickets, attractions, experiences, spa breaks and gifts.

lastminute.com floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2000 and acquired car broker Holiday Autos, bedbank medhotels.com and lastminute.de amongst others before being acquired by travel giant Travelocity, part of the Sabre family.

Known for its trademark bright pink branding, lastminute.com is internationally recognised and responsible for some of the most cutting edge marketing campaigns, including the well known ‘Surprise your girlfriend, take her sister to Paris’ advertising slogan.

lastminute.com Chief Executive Officer Ian McCaig said: “Celebrating ten years at the top in online travel and leisure is a fantastic achievement and one that we are all very proud of.

“It is incredible to think that only a decade ago this global brand was merely an idea dreamt up in a London flat. Now it is one of the most internationally recognised and successful online companies, helping people all over the world to make the most of their leisure time.

“Our customers have stayed with us from the beginning and I would like to say extend my thanks to them for their support. We look forward to the next ten years at the top and to see how we can continue to revolutionise the travel industry.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

£10 hotel rooms on lastminute.com and when it’s gone, it’s gone!

Here at lastminute.com to celebrate our tenth birthday - feel free to buy us a cake - we're giving away 1010 hotel rooms for £10 tomorrow morning from 10am.

The deal is for hotel rooms at four and three star properties across the UK.

The offer will run until the last room is sold out.

Good luck!