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Cebu Pacific accelerates digital transformation

April 17, 2021

Set to discontinue CEB PH call center by May 01, 2021 The Philippines' leading carrier, Cebu Pacific (PSE: CEB), continues to speed up its digital transformation in line with its commitment to keep improving its overall customer experience. With all the great strides the airline has taken in online booking, check-in, manage booking, and Charlie the chatbot, it will discontinue its Philippine hotline numbers by May 01, 2021.       CEB began ramping-up its customer-first initiatives through digital innovation in 2017 when it was among the first airlines in Asia to invest in an integrated facility and technology for social intelligence and customer engagement. This head start has equipped the carrier to adjust quickly to address everyJuan’s needs amid COVID, mainly through its social media channels manned by the CEB Customer Care Agents.        In the first quarter of 2021, the airline noted a total of 87% of its passengers maximize its website to book flights directly in the platform. Along with this, 67% of CEB passengers conveniently managed their bookings online, specifically during flight disruptions.        In 2018, CEB’s very own Charlie the chatbot was introduced in order to enable passengers to receive real-time answers to common queries and transactions such as flight schedule and status, check-in process, itinerary and boarding pass retrieval, and the like; or lead them to the right steps to address their concerns. Since then, Charlie has been continuously improved and is now able to respond to more queries, without having to talk to an agent.        “We are glad to have started our digital transformation journey even before the pandemic, because we have come to rely on it in this new normal environment. We continue to prioritize the safety and convenience of our passengers, that is why we have accelerated our digital efforts to support contactless and self-service processes,” said Candice Iyog, CEB Vice President for Marketing and Customer Experience.        In the past year, the carrier has further improved its self-service options, now allowing everyJuan to not only choose their preferred flexibility options easily through https://bit.ly/CEBmanageflight, but even to correct and update information as needed, manage group bookings online, and receive notifications via email or SMS, among others. The carrier also recently waived change fees permanently, enabling passengers to rebook as many times as they need.       “Rest assured Charlie, along with our Customer Care team, are online 24/7 to assist everyJuan. We continue to enhance existing processes as we remain committed to empowering customers and ensuring access to the information they need anytime, anywhere, without having to call the hotline or go to a ticketing office,” added Iyog.       Passengers can simply message Charlie via the Cebu Pacific website or the official CEB Facebook page. Its official Twitter page also remains active during this time.        Meanwhile, for more information on Contactless Flight Guidelines, flexibility options, updated network, travel document requirements, FAQs and the like, passengers may visit https://bit.ly/CEBFlightReminders.

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PAL warns travelers vs. use of fake Covid-19 test results

April 15, 2021

PHILIPPINE Airlines (PAL) on Monday warned passengers against using fake coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) test results at the airports.      In an advisory posted on its Facebook page, PAL said at least 15 individuals were recently prevented from boarding their flights since they presented fraudulent Covid-19 test results at the airport check-in counters.      They were caught in Manila and were bound for Cotabato, Dipolog and Zamboanga. They were turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP).      According to PAL, most of these passengers were referred for inquest at the city prosecutor's office, while others have been isolated at quarantine facilities pending their real swab test results.      "We continue to work with government authorities against these fraudulent acts. We warn violators that falsification of public documents is punishable by law. We thank the PNP for their assistance on this matter," PAL spokesperson Cielo Villaluna told the Philippine News Agency.      PAL has advised passengers to secure Covid-19 test results only from legitimate medical providers.      The carrier added that passengers may be charged with falsification of public documents and violation of RA 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.      If found guilty, they may each face penalties of up to P50,000, or imprisonment for one to six months, PAL said. (PNA)

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Vehicle sales recover in Q1

April 15, 2021

AUTOMOTIVE vehicle sales recovered in the first quarter of the year amid the global health and economic crisis, the joint report of the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc. (CAMPI) and the Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) said Tuesday.      CAMPI and TMA reported that vehicle sales from January to March this year was higher by 8.9 percent compared to January and February 2020 despite being pre-pandemic months.      Vehicle sales during the three-month period reached 70,312 units from 64,542 units in the same period last year.      Sales of passenger cars grew double-digit by 22.9 percent to 21,855 units in the first three months of the year from 17,786 in the same period in 2020.      Commercial vehicle sales increased by 3.6 percent to 48,457 units in the January to March period this year from 46,756 units sold in the same months last year.      This is also the first time that the industry registered a growth in both year-to-date and year-on-year sales since the onset of the pandemic.      Vehicle sales last month pegged at 20,702 units, a surge of 87.7 percent from 11,029 units in March 2020 when the lockdown was first imposed.      Year-on-year, sales of passenger cars and commercial vehicles improved by 111.5 percent and 78.2 percent, respectively.      However, CAMPI and TMA reported a drop in vehicle sales month-on-month.      The 20,702 sales in March this year was 21.1 percent lower than the 26,230 unit sales in February.      “The auto industry felt the slowdown in sales due to the reluctance of buyers with the additional deposit for some imported vehicles because of the provisional safeguard duty. The lockdown also forced dealers to close operations that badly hit the already struggling auto industry,” CAMPI president Rommel Gutierrez said in a statement.      Meanwhile, top car brands in the country in the first quarter of the year were Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Ford, and Suzuki. (PNA)

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Smart hailed as country's fastest 5G Network -Ookla

April 15, 2021

Fastest 4G/LTE network in the Philippines made even faster by 5G   PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) has solidified its superiority in 5G after being hailed as the fastest 5G network in the Philippines by Ookla®, the global leader in internet testing and analysis.      Based on consumer-initiated tests taken using Speedtest® by Ookla, Smart has consistently posted the fastest 5G speeds for Q1 2021, with median download speeds of 190 Mbps, more than double the competition's speeds for the same period*.      "Our steady investments and unflagging resolve to expand and upgrade our integrated fixed and wireless networks, as well as to bring Smart 5G closer to our customers nationwide, have brought about these outstanding results," said Smart Communications President and CEO and PLDT Chief Revenue Officer Alfredo S. Panlilio.      "Just as we did with Smart LTE, which has been recognized by Ookla since 2018 as the country's fastest 4G/LTE network, we are working non-stop to expand the coverage of our 5G service and make it accessible to more customers, despite the challenges of the pandemic.  With 5G, we are making the Philippines' fastest mobile network even faster – elevating the average mobile speeds into fiber-like levels – to serve our customers better, especially in these critical times," he added. Undisputed leader in 5G      To date, Smart's expanded 5G network now has over 2,300 sites nationwide, supporting Filipinos who are increasingly reliant on mobile data to stay connected while on-the-go.      These Smart 5G sites have been fired up nationwide, including in all of Metro Manila's cities and municipalities, and in the provinces of Benguet, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, Rizal, Cebu, Iloilo, Aklan, Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Davao.      To complement this continuous expansion of Smart's 5G network, Smart has also ramped-up its efforts to widen its array of Smart 5G-certified devices to make 5G easier to access and enjoy.      Recently, Smart launched Rocket WiFi, the country’s first and fastest 5G Pocket WiFi which will enable 5G speeds on other devices for as long as they have a Wi-Fi connection. Specially designed for sharing and multitasking, Rocket WiFi can connect up to 15 WiFi-capable smartphones, tablets, or laptops, making it simpler and easier for more users to experience the lightning speeds of Smart 5G on a wide range of devices.      The next generation of wireless technology, 5G enables next-level digital experiences when streaming HD videos seamlessly, playing action-packed mobile games without lag, making crystal-clear video calls without buffering, and uploading and downloading heavy files in an instant.      Smart 5G complements Smart’s continuous expansion of its 4G/LTE network. Smart’s mobile network, which covers 96% of the population from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi, is already the fastest in the country, as reported by third-party mobile internet analytics firms Ookla® and Opensignal.      This level of performance is enabled by PLDT's fiber infrastructure, the country's most extensive at 429,000 kilometers.

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GCash launches over 30 lifestyle brands on GLife

April 14, 2021

This current generation is all about doing more with less stress as much as possible, which is why getting easy access to practically everything they need – whether it’s for work or play – has now become more of a necessity than a choice. For these dynamic individuals who want a more hustle, less hassle life, GCash has launched GLife, which caters to all things food, fashion, beauty, technology, and practically everything essential in everyone’s daily life! GLife can be your personal shopper, food delivery driver, errand saver, and service provider all rolled into one. “GLife is designed to be a ‘one-stop shop’ virtual platform that meets customers’ lifestyle needs. You can get everything you need – from food to beauty essentials, to groceries and movie tickets – with just a tap on your smartphone. This means a more convenient way to live your daily life, especially if you’re always hustling from one activity to the next,” explains Martha Sazon, President and CEO of GCash. Here’s what’s on GLife and everything you need to know to enjoy great deals from the brands you love and experience secure transactions all within GCash: GLife makes GCash your new super life app! GLife is a new app feature that’s conveniently located inside your GCash dashboard.  What the app does is it integrates all other apps and curates your favorite brands, shops, restaurants, and services all in one platform, so you can easily access them and pay conveniently using your GCash. With GLife, you don’t need to install extra apps on your smartphone just to access on-demand products and services. With one tap, you can easily browse for entertainment, health, shopping, tech, essential services, and other lifestyle needs, and pay for them effortlessly through fast and secure online transactions. On top of providing all your lifestyle must-haves, GLife is your go-to hub for the latest promos from your favorite brands. This means getting first dibs on the hottest deals that only GCash subscribers will be able to enjoy.  Access your favorite brands and merchants with just a tap GLife has partnered with a multitude of top brands and partner merchants that are practically everyone’s favorite when craving for good food, shopping for the latest beauty and fashion must-haves, ordering for groceries, and much more. The best part? GCash subscribers can look forward to exclusive deals from these brands and merchants when accessing their apps via GLife.   Never go “hangry” again when you can order your favorites easily from McDonald’s, KFC, Tapa King, Gong Cha, Kraver’s, Canteen, Peri-Peri, Classic Savory, Bo’s Coffee, Goldilocks, Kitchen City, or FoodPanda with just a few clicks. Add to cart your fashion or beauty finds and other items sweat-free from Lazada and Bench, get instant shop cashback from Findshare, or get your groceries delivered with no fuss from Puregold. In the mood for gaming? Try Goama Games and win GCash credit vouchers. Need a new gadget? Access the Cherry Shop to get the latest device or DataBlitz to shop for tech finds. You can even manage your Globe at Home account or track or Globe numbers in just a snap when you access the GlobeOne and Globe at Home apps on GLife. Among the other brands and partner merchants that have tied up with GLife are Purego.ph, GOMO, Gawin, GMovies, AIDE, Mr. Speedy, Generika Drugstore and HairMNL. There are many more to come, as GLIfe is continuously expanding its list of merchants to ensure that all the lifestyle needs of today’s customers are catered to. GLife mo na ‘yan! and download the GCash app today at www.gcash.com to enjoy a good balance of work and play. With this all-in-one super life app, switching from pay time to playtime is easier, faster, and of course, much safer. Watch this video to see the all-in-one super life app in action.

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Shakey’s posts P215-M income after two quarters of losses

April 7, 2021

SHAKEY’S PIZZA Asia Ventures, Inc. (SPAVI) reported a net income of P215 million for the fourth quarter of 2020, which was also boosted by tax benefits due to the company’s negative profitability for the year following the losses it incurred.      “We are pleased by the improvements we saw towards yearend, which gave us the confidence to further invest in future growth, readying ourselves to better compete in the ‘new normal’ whilst creating jobs amidst the Philippines’ tough economic environment,” SPAVI President and Chief Executive Officer Vicente L. Gregorio said in a statement on Monday.      In the first quarter of 2020, the company reported a net income of P114 million. The company swung to losses in the middle of the year, with P167 million incurred in the second quarter and P171.95 million lost in the third quarter.      SPAVI’s EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization) amounted to P400 million in the fourth quarter, improving from the P6 million seen in the previous quarter.      The company said its system-wide sales for the period grew by 33% from the previous quarter to P1.8 billion from P1.4 billion. SPAVI attributed the increase in sales to the holiday season, increased dine-in transactions, and deliveries.      For 2020, SPAVI incurred a net loss of P247 million, down by over 70% from the consolidated net income of P865 million earned in the previous year.      About 91% of the company’s stores were temporarily closed at the end of March last year.      “Despite our net loss for the year, we’ve managed to pull through with positive cash flows, improved cost structures, and greater ability to address off premise demand thanks to the gallant efforts of our team and the numerous business innovations we’ve been put into place,” Mr. Gregorio said.      Full-year EBITDA totaled P635 million, declining by nearly 68% from P1.97 billion seen in the previous year.      “On a same-store basis, excluding the impact of closed stores, sales were down 30% year on year,” the company said without disclosing specific figures.      Total sales for the year amounted to P6.6 billion, which the company said is 64% of its 2019 sales.      “We are hopeful that dine-in continues to recover this year, but are nonetheless managing the fact that guests will likely continue to need convenient and flexible out-of-store options,” Mr. Gregorio said.      SPAVI is planning to restart a store network expansion strategy that was initially put in the backburner due to the pandemic. Stores from this project will require smaller investment requirements compared to its traditional stores so its payback periods are short, while returns are high.      It is also looking to build locations which will have Shakey’s, Peri-Peri Charcoal Chicken, and R&B Milk Tea stores in one location.      The company is also planning to launch “ghost kitchens or kitchen extensions” for its delivery businesses with a “31 Minute, If It’s Late, It’s Free” promo in selected Metro Manila areas.      “Moving into 2021, the ability to stay nimble and adapt to the ever-changing environment will be of utmost importance,” Mr. Gregorio said.

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