Amtrak is expanding its digital
on-board entertainment this summer.
Riding the rails just got a little more entertaining with a new Amtrak pilot program that offers sleeping-car passengers on the Los Angeles-Seattle Coast Starlight service complimentary use of portable entertainment devices.
Throughout this summer, passengers can use the digital devices about the size and weight of portable DVD players to access everything from movies and TV shows to video games, cartoons and music videos. The special offer promoting the coastal service expands Amtrak’s existing on-board rentals of its digEplayer.
“The digEplayer’s success throughout the Amtrak system has shown that it’s a valuable option in on-board entertainment for our passengers,” said Emmett Fremaux, Amtrak’s vice president of marketing and product management.
Sporting an eight-inch screen, high-quality headphones and a 40-gigabyte hard drive, the devices offer a 12-hour battery and an AC adapter that allows unlimited use and access to on-demand entertainment.
Rental costs for the devices normally are based on trip length but range from $12 to $36.
During the complimentary promotion on the Starlight service, sleeper passengers can pick up players at kiosks along the route in Los Angeles, Emeryville, Calif., Portland and Seattle. At the end of the trip, the digEplayer can be returned to sleeping-car attendants or at one of the station kiosks.
For other Amtrak routes, digEplayers are available at Railway Media kiosks in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Lorton, Va., Emeryville and Sanford, Fla. Players can be reserved online or by calling Amtrak.
Agents More Web Savvy
Travel agents have quickly embraced the Internet, said a new report by the American Society of Travel Agents. The report found that nearly all members surveyed have Web access at their offices, up from just 24 percent a decade ago.
The Technology and Web Usage Report also found that more than 76 percent of agents have their own Web sites, up slightly from about 67 percent just two years ago.
“Clearly, most travel agencies are keeping up with technology,” said Cheryl Hudak, ASTA president and CEO, noting the report was compiled to help agents evaluate Web strategies.
The survey results dovetailed with data that Henry Harteveldt of Forrester Research presented at the Las Vegas Travel Industry Association of America’s Travelcom Res-Expo conference. He stated that 83 percent of travelers are also online now and 90 percent are expected to be online by 2010.
Meanwhile, the Internet also continues to revolutionize the supply chain, with more than 91 percent of agents reporting booking directly on suppliers’ Web sites rather than through a legacy global distribution system (GDS).
Agency owners and managers reported spending an average of nearly 27 hours a week on the Internet more even than front-line agents at about 25 hours. “Like many consumers,” said Hudak, “agents use the Net for research and booking.”
For more on the Technology and Web Usage Report, go to www.astanet.org.