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Classic Santa Delivers Holiday Greetings

Vlad Poptamas

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Sparkling Holidays stamps feature classic images of Santa Claus painted by Haddon Sundblom
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

U.S. Postal Service Celebrates Sparkling Holidays

 

New Sparkling Holidays Commemorative Forever stamps featuring classic images of Santa are available for mailing holiday cards and letters this year— a time-honored tradition embraced by millions annually.

The Postal Service dedicated the stamps at a special ceremony today at The Inn at Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge, TN.

“I have no doubt that the Sparkling Holidays stamps will quickly become favorites,” said Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President Joseph Corbett. “These four stamps feature classic images of Santa Claus, painted by Haddon Sundblom for The Coca-Cola Company. The paintings of the rosy-cheeked, smiling, grandfatherly man in his red suit embody the very essence of Santa.”

In addition to Corbett, the ceremony included remarks by Justine Fletcher, director of Heritage Communications for The Coca-Cola Company.

News of the stamps is being shared using the hashtag #SparklingHolidaysStamps and a video of the ceremony will be available on the Postal Service’s Facebook page.

The Sparkling Holidays stamps, sold in booklets of 20, feature four classic portraits of Santa Claus. Taken from larger paintings created by Sundblom, these vintage images were originally published in ads for The Coca-Cola Company from the 1940s through the early 1960s. Sundblom is credited as the individual who most refined the modern image of Santa.

In addition to the stamp booklet, a souvenir sheet is available which includes a stamp and depicts a wider scene of one of Sundblom’s paintings chosen for the Sparkling Holidays stamp booklet. In it, Santa is depicted standing by a fireplace holding a book that lists good boys and girls. Three Christmas stockings hang along a mantel decorated with greens and ornaments. Peering over his glasses, Santa reads a note. The use of gold metallic ink, the flow of the type, and the organic shape of the border harken back to graphic styles of the first half of the 20th century.

Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps and the souvenir sheet with existing art by Sundblom.

Background
Several 19th century European works were instrumental in creating character traits that inspired Sundblom’s paintings, including an 1809 portrayal by author Washington Irving of the gift-bearing St. Nicholas as a sage Dutchman rather than the more common previous image of a somber bishop.

Santa Claus, as we know him today, originated from the 1821 poem “The Children’s Friend,” which claimed “Santaclaus” delivered toys to good children while riding a sleigh drawn by a flying reindeer. Several years later in the poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” the number of reindeer increased to eight and Santa was depicted as a jolly, plump elf who delivered presents Christmas Eve. Beginning in 1863, Cartoonist Thomas Nast embellished Santa’s look in drawings for Harper’s Weekly magazine. He depicted Santa in all manner of guises, from a portly elfin figure to a big-bellied, white-bearded man. In 1931, Sundblom created the first of more than 40 paintings of Santa Claus for The Coca-Cola Company’s holiday advertising campaign.

The Sparkling Holidays stamps, sold as Forever stamps, are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price. Customers may purchase the stamps and other philatelic products online through the Postal Store at usps.com/shop, by calling 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724), by mail through USA Philatelic catalog, or at Post Office locations nationwide. The souvenir sheet will only be sold through usps.com or by calling 1-800-STAMP24.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Please Note: For U.S. Postal Service media resources, including broadcast quality video and audio and photo stills, visit the USPS Newsroom. Follow us on TwitterInstagramPinterest, and LinkedIn. Subscribe to the USPS YouTube Channel, like us on Facebook and enjoy our Postal Posts blog. For more information about the Postal Service, visit usps.com and facts.usps.com.

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Airlines/Aviation 

WestJet unveils refreshed on-board experience as part of Dreamliner launches

Betty Tűndik

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Business Cabin Amenity Kits featuring Matt & Nat and Province Apothecary (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Enhanced service offerings and products highlight WestJet’s Canadian roots across the airlines’ 
Business, Premium and Economy cabins

 

Following the successful launch of WestJet’s Dreamliners from Calgary to London (Gatwick), Paris and Dublin, guests travelling across WestJet’s global network can now experience the airline’s elevated amenities and on-board experience.

Tailored to showcase WestJet’s authentic Canadian story, enhanced service offerings and products are featured across WestJet’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 767 and 737 transatlantic service. Guests can expect to see updates continue to roll across the WestJet fleet throughout 2019 and 2020.

“Our guests are going to love our uniquely Canadian products and we are proud to showcase our like-minded partners who share our passion for thoughtful, quality products created in Canada,” said Louis Saint-Cyr, WestJet’s Vice-President, Guest Experience. “WestJet continues our global transformation and these elevated products and services complement the award-winning onboard experience we are known for.”

The Boarding Sessions with Sean Jones
For the first time in Canadian music history, guests will hear a soundtrack of soulful music onboard an aircraft from Canadian Juno award-winning recording artist Sean Jones. During boarding guests are treated to original music and classic covers of iconic Canadian artists – like The Band, Sarah McLachlan and The Guess Who – that Jones drew inspiration from for his album. The album is available for download and the story behind The Boarding Sessions is available to watch onboard WestJet’s Dreamliners.

The Boarding Sessions with Sean Jones (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

Business Cabin Amenity Kits featuring Matt & Nat and Province Apothecary
Business cabin guests departing on European-bound transatlantic flights will receive tan-coloured amenity kits, designed by Montreal’s Matt & Nat, while guests departing to Canada receive navy-coloured kits. These beautiful kits feature organic skincare products from Toronto’s Province Apothecary that use only the highest quality ingredients sourced from provinces across Canada.

Business Cabin Amenity Kits featuring Matt & Nat (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

Canmore’s Rocky Mountain Soap Company Premium Cabin amenities
Guests flying on select flights in WestJet’s Premium cabin receive Rocky Mountain Soap Company kits that feature handmade products with simple, natural ingredients for healthy and beautiful skin. Rocky Mountain Soap Company lavatory products including foaming hand wash, hand cream and refreshing wellness sprays are also available throughout most of the airline’s Premium and Economy cabins.

Canmore’s Rocky Mountain Soap Company Premium Cabin amenities (CNW Group/WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership)

To see detailed inspiration behind the products, click here.

Additional Quotes: 
“I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished with Boarding Sessions and grateful to WestJet for bringing this music to life,” said Sean Jones. “Working on this project has been one of the highlights of my career and I’m excited to have built a playlist of my music that will be heard by people not just in Canada but across WestJet’s global network.”

“As a fellow Alberta-based company, we’re excited to be part of the new in-flight experience on the Dreamliner and the improved experience on other select WestJet Flights,” said Karina Birch, Rocky Mountain Soap Company, co-owner and CEO. “Influenced by the nature that surrounds us, we’re unwavering in our commitment to using only simple natural ingredients and to working with local partners.  We’re thrilled WestJet travellers can now take nature with them wherever they go.”

“We are so excited to be a part of the WestJet onboard experience by sharing our exclusive vegan and cruelty-free amenity kits with their guests,” said Manny Kohli, President and CEO of Matt & Nat. “Partnering with a fellow Canadian brand is an honour for us and a wonderful opportunity for travellers to discover our recycled vegan line of goods.”

“We are beyond excited to be bringing holistic skincare and wellness to WestJet’s onboard experience,” said Julie Clark, CEO and Founder of Province Apothecary. “As a Canadian brand focused on sustainable and high-quality products, it is an honour to be sharing this partnership with like-minded Canadian brand, Matt & Nat, and to be sharing our values with WestJet guests near and far.”

About WestJet
Together with WestJet’s regional airline, WestJet Encore, we offer scheduled service to more than 100 destinations in North AmericaCentral America, the Caribbean and Europe and to more than 175 destinations in over 20 countries through our airline partnerships. WestJet Vacations offers affordable, flexible vacations to more than 60 destinations and the choice of more than 800 hotels, resorts, condos and villas.  Members of the WestJet Rewards program earn WestJet dollars on flights, vacation packages and more. Members use WestJet dollars towards the purchase of flights and vacations packages to any WestJet destination with no blackout periods, and have access to Member Exclusive fares offering deals to WestJet destinations throughout our network and those of our partner airlines.

WestJet is proud to be recognized for three consecutive years as Best Airline in Canada (2017-19) and awarded among travellers’ favourite Mid-Sized Airlines in North America (2019). From 2017-2018, WestJet was also awarded among travellers’ favorite Mid-Sized and Low-Cost Airlines in North America. The airline was also recognized among the Economy Class winners in North America, 2018. All awards are based on authentic reviews from the travelling public on TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site. We are one of very few airlines globally that does not commercially overbook.

WestJet is publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) under the symbol WJA. For more information about everything WestJet, please visit westjet.com.

Recent recognition includes:
2019/2018/2017 Best Airline in Canada (TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for Airlines)
2019 Winner Among Mid-Sized Airlines in North America (TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for Airlines)
2018/2017 Winner Among Mid-Sized and Low Cost Airlines – North America(TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for Airlines)
2018 Winner – Economy, North America (TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice awards for Airlines)
2018 Number-One-Ranked Airline Credit Card in Canada (Rewards Canada)
2018 North America’s Best Low-Cost Airline (Skytrax)
2018/2017/2016 Canada’s Most Trusted Airline (Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria)

 

SOURCE: WESTJET, an Alberta Partnership

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Airlines/Aviation 

Unbabel supports easyJet to create international customer service ‘super agents’

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: opodo.co.uk
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Unbabel, the AI-powered, human-refined Translation-as-a-Service platform, has partnered with easyJet, Europe’s leading airline, to drive new efficiencies and improved service to its customers across multiple languages.

Unbabel is enabling the airline to offer near real-time translation of customer chat and enquiry tickets, in up to 29 languages, via its unique machine translation technology. This is opening up more languages to easyJet and increasing customer satisfaction within existing customer bases.

The translation platform is also equipping easyJet to deal effectively with a wider customer base ensuring their queries are handled quickly and efficiently without the need to wait for human translators or relying on internet translations.

Since late 2018, all of easyJet’s Dutch and German live chat has been handled by English speakers using the AI-powered platform and during that time customer satisfaction has increased 4.2% when compared to languages served by native speakers. Additionally, German rose from 5th to 2nd in terms of popularity of language within easyJet customer enquiries.

An initial pilot project ran over two months in 2017, coinciding with easyJet’s busiest annual period, and challenged Unbabel to provide near real-time translation of customer enquiries. Through adopting the translation-as-a-service platform, easyJet observed an improvement in average handling time for enquiries.

Karen Cox, Director of Ground Operations & Customer Management Centres, at easyJet, said: “Unbabel’s solution helps to maintain a high level of quality and customer satisfaction and provides us with flexibility during language spikes. Our Unbabel-powered ‘super agents’ are ensuring that we stay agile as a company and means that we are now able to offer everyone the same high-level customer journey. With a major drive to deliver value on behalf of the customer, we feel confident that Unbabel offers the best solution.”

Vasco Pedro, CEO of Unbabel, commented: “In 2019, more and more businesses are waking up to the fact that they are operating in an ever more multilingual market. When customer satisfaction is at the top of the business agenda, being able to serve customers immediately in their native language represents a great competitive advantage. We’re delighted to partner with easyJet, and have already seen a demonstrable impact on customer satisfaction and customer retention metrics.”

Cox added: “Knowing that Unbabel has the integrated AI and human platform to support the user journey really demonstrated the warmth and care we look for in our customer service.”

Looking to the future, Unbabel is set to help easyJet move into further new markets, with plans to accommodate customers from countries such as China and the Nordics. The airline will also invest in messaging to a far greater degree, serving customers through channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Apple Business Chat. As a result of Unbabel’s, easyJet customer advisers will continue their exposure to new geographies and markets, as well as building experience with disruptive new technologies like AI and Machine Learning.

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Flight Centre Becomes Largest Individual Shareholder in The Upside Travel Company

Vlad Poptamas

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Photo source: fool.com.au
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

Flight Centre Group (ASX:FLT), continues to strengthen its rapidly growing global corporate travel business, today announcing a strategic investment in The Upside Travel Company (“Upside”), the corporate travel company launched in 2017 by Priceline founder Jay Walker.

FLT’s investment is for a 25% interest in Upside which will see it become the business’s largest individual shareholder providing access to Upside’s travel technology platform and software development resources. As part of the agreement, the parties also entered into a commercial deal that covers cooperation on various distribution initiatives that combine FLT’s deep understanding of the corporate travel space with Upside’s powerful technical assets.

With this deal, FLT improves its technology capabilities, specifically in the small-and-midsize corporate market. FLT plans to leverage Upside’s technology platform to continue the digital enablement of its Corporate Traveler business, pairing the proficiency of its people with cutting edge artificial intelligence and machine learning models. The investment also adds Washington, DC to the expanding global list of FLT “Lab” locations following the recent investment in Bangkok-based 30SecondsToFly, and the acquisition of the award-winning mobile app Sam :] in Barcelona last month.

“We have been impressed by the capability and flexibility of Upside’s technology and team to improve the business traveler experience. Its use of machine learning models to dynamically price business travel packages in real-time to save clients money while increasing traveler options is just one example of Upside’s best in class technology,” according to Dean Smith, President of FLT’s Americas operations.

For Upside, the deal substantially bolsters the company’s product offering to the small corporate market, where it will continue to operate under the Upside brand. Access to FLT’s supplier relationships and global reach expands Upside’s inventory and enhances its ongoing software development with a broader set of travel data inputs.

“FLT is the perfect partner for Upside as we get aggressive in serving small corporate clients. Not only does FLT’s global scale, content, and experience immediately make our product more complete, but FLT’s people and expertise also make us smarter, which is key as we accelerate into the future.” said Jay Walker, CEO of Upside.

The Upside product will soon take advantage of the emerging standards called Next-Generation Storefront, which are being developed by ATPCO in collaboration with airline and industry leaders. Incorporating the new standards for product display is a top post-investment priority for both parties and is expected to take place in Q2 of 2019. “It’s promising to see FLT and Upside work together on providing the best traveler experience possible by making NGS a priority so flight shoppers can compare like-type products on third party channels. We’re inspired to see so many channels taking a step forward to transform flight shopping” said Gianni Cataldo, Head of Research & Development, at ATPCO.

Jefferies LLC served as the sole financial advisor to Upside.

 

SOURCE Flight Centre Travel Group (Canada) Inc.

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