To print this page, select "Print" from the File menu of your browser.

How a successful sustainable hotel strategy can lead to more direct bookings

September 02, 2014

A truly committed sustainability path can provide hotels with wider economical results. Ultimately, this is what sustainability should aim for balancing the triple bottom line: environmental results, social results and economic results.

The decision about whether going or not going green, in the case of Michaela Reitterer, owner of the hotel Stadthalle wasn't just a strategic debate but a firm decision based on her own personal values.

While the average rate per night in Vienna in 2013 was 64,80€ for 3-star hotels, Stadthalle had an average daily room rate of 92,36€, compared to 80,14€ for 4-star hotels and 152,91€ for 5 star hotels. In spite of the increasing competition with more properties and rooms in the city during the last years (+7 percent), occupancy rates were still higher at hotel Stadthalle than the average. Boutique hotel Stadthalle accomplished a 74,90 percent occupancy rate in 2013, while the average occupancy rate in Vienna the same year was 71,62 percent (69,68 percent -3 star; 72,43 percent -4 star; 72,95 percent -5 star).

What is even more interesting is the hotel lesser dependency on distribution channels. Recognized brands, not to mention independent hotels, are struggling to reduce hotel dependency on online travel agencies and other distribution channels. Hotels rooms are for sale in a dynamic and volatile distribution landscape and the power of online distribution channels is continually growing. Mainstream debate focus on online marketing, revenue management strategies and social media actions as a way of counterbalancing OTAs, tour operators and other distribution channels dependency. For many hoteliers getting 25 percent in direct bookings can be considered almost utopian. Nevertheless, Stadthalle generated 65 percent in direct bookings from its own website and direct phone reservations to the hotel. The other 35 percent came from different distribution channels (15 percent through OTAs and 20 percent through tour operators and other travel agencies). "Account Managers of online travel agencies do not believe us when we tell them our percentage of direct bookings" says Monika Haas, Sales and Marketing Manager.

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

Read also "Cornell study: Sustainability certification boosts hotel performance" and "Hyatt unveils new 2020 environmental sustainability strategy" at Hyatt

Article location:

Global hotel prices rise for the fifth year in a row

September 02, 2014

The global Hotel Price Index stood at 115 at the end of the first six months of 2014, 15 points higher than at its launch in 2004 and now only four points off its all-time high of 119 set in the first half of 2007.

Johan Svanstrom, President of the brand, said: "There was a promising start to the year for the travel industry in general as demand for both international tourism and business travel remained strong[2]. Consequently, we saw the highest rate of increase in the HPI since early 2012 and, for the first time, we have two regions whose regional indices have overtaken their pre-economic crisis levels."

Latin America and the Caribbean both achieved record results over this period. TheCaribbean had the fastest rise in the current HPI of 6%, taking it to the highest individual region Index figure ever documented.Latin America continued the progress seen in 2013 and also reached its all-time half-yearly high.

Two regions reported 5% Index growth: firstly, for Europe and Middle East, this was the sharpest increase in the region in six years. Secondly,North America was boosted by results from the USA which posted the best hotel occupancy levels of the century in June, according to Smith Travel Research.

For Asia and the Pacific, the Index saw no movement either up or down. Asia, in particular, continued to offer excellent value for travellers, while prices paid by inbound visitors toAustralia were eased by the weaker Australian Dollar.

Svanstrom continued: "As well as the general economic recovery, there were three other stand-out reasons behind most of the price moves. Currency fluctuations played a major role in determining whether prices paid when travelling abroad either rose or fell for many travellers. UK travellers, in particular, benefitted as Sterling either remained stable against already weaker currencies or gained ground against others.

"The civil unrest in several key tourist markets over this period impacted visitor numbers, causing prices to fall, particularly inEgypt and Turkey, although this had a positive impact on Spanish tourism in particular. Finally, the two great global sporting events in 2014 occurred in the first half of the year with prices paid in Sochi andBrazil naturally rising for the duration of the tournaments."

Get the full report at

Article location:

New tool displays hotel WiFi speed information onto OTA sites

September 02, 2014

Previously, this unique content was only available on, and users had to switch back and forth from their favorite booking site. Now, this experience is streamlined: users can see WiFi speed information on hotel booking sites alongside standard hotel attributes, such as customer reviews, price, and location. The WiFi information block respects the style of each site, so it feels like a native Element on the page.

Studies continue to show that hotel WiFi is a top amenity, but WiFi quality is also among the most frequent traveler complaints. Hotel booking sites tend to avoid displaying negative information about hotels, with the exception of customer reviews. This may be understandable for their relationship with hotels, but it's not so convenient for travelers.'s integration with travel and booking sites gives power back to travelers, allowing them to effortlessly select a hotel based on its fast and reliable WiFi. Because consumers can easily see a hotel's WiFi performance before they book, not after they enter the room, hotels now have a greater incentive to provide quality WiFi to their visitors.

The browser extension also provides a quick way to compare the WiFi speed of tested hotels within a particular city. With almost 200 hotels tested in New York alone, this is a powerful tool for travelers who value fast and reliable WiFi.

Related Link: Hotel Wifi Test

Article location:

The new era of smart dining

September 02, 2014

In restaurants, there is an entirely new consumer-facing software layer of apps and services being deployed as we speak. For example, tablets with sophisticated software for guest ordering and payment, are being placed on every table at major brands like Applebee’s, the largest casual dining concept in the country. Waitlists are being automated by NoWait and NoshList, online ordering being made ubiquitous by OLO and mobile payment is now finding its way into fine-dining restaurants by OpenTable.

Big data and sophisticated algorithms can now be leveraged in real time to optimize operational processes like waiter steps of service, improve guest experience and drive superior returns. Restaurants themselves will start to differentiate based on the software-enabled experiences they offer to guests.

The new era of what I call “smart dining” has begun. What changed? PCs have been around for over 30 years and the Internet has been around for 20. But the real tipping point was the 2007 mass commercialization of the iPhone, which made the use of rich software applications trivially easy for consumers on mobile devices, through simple touch gestures. Finally we could experience the magic of great software on a plethora of modern consumer interfaces like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

Article location:

Understanding your guests’ emotional journey

September 02, 2014

What are their emotional drivers and how can you use this intelligence to anticipate their needs, identify new revenue opportunities and create profitable experiences?

Understanding how to evoke positive emotions for your guests will enable you to create powerful memories for them that they want to share. Emotions help create memories. Memories create stories. Positive memories and stories drive revenue as guests become an advocate for your property.

Going beyond the usual guest feedback channels such as apps, text, email and paper surveys is necessary to get inside the minds of your guests.

Get the full story at Hotel Industry Magazine

Article location:

iPhone 6 is coming: Are your digital assets ready?

September 02, 2014

The stakes are high. If you are not pre­pared for a new form fac­tor your con­tent may be cropped in odd and unpre­dictable ways. If the con­tent is not at a high enough res­o­lu­tion or pixel den­sity for the screen dis­play then it might become soft and fuzzy, ruin­ing your brand’s impact on a poten­tial cus­tomer. Are you going to face these same ques­tions and chal­lenges every time a new device is released to the public?

You might be think­ing, “I have a respon­sive design site, or an adap­tive mobile site, so I am all set.” But it’s not that sim­ple. Dig­i­tal images and videos still need to be refor­mat­ted to dis­play opti­mally for each device’s screen size and resolution.

It is all about how your site is achiev­ing its respon­sive­ness. Many sites down­load large images to mobile devices and rely on the Cas­cad­ing Style Sheets to down­size it, forc­ing the mobile device to go through the logic and do the cal­cu­la­tions to pro­vide the right-sized media. And if cus­tomers are view­ing mobile sites from low-bandwidth net­works, this can sig­nif­i­cantly slow down mobile site per­for­mance, even on a respon­sive site.

Get the full story at Adobe's Digital Marketing Blog

Article location:

How social media feedback helps to redefine hotel branding

September 02, 2014

by Michala Maly, iiWorks Sydney

Social media is an ever changing process of staying connected. What started out with limited instant messaging over two decades ago has grown into Google+, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube, Vine and so on. Consumers and business owners alike are aware of the power of feedback on social media. The comment, rating or feedback sections of business pages are frequently the first tab clicked and the most thoroughly read. What does this near-obsession with feedback have to do with hotel branding? The answer is more than you might imagine.

Surprise surprise, a new angle

There are over 45 thousand hotel marketers around the world, making competition for attention and business in the industry, fierce. Cutting edge hoteliers and their marketing teams were quick to spot value in social media.

Due to guest ratings and comments, hoteliers can fine tune their ad campaigns. A hotel marketer, with an ad campaign boasting a convenient location in the city centre, may realise through feedback, that it's also considered a favourite by repeat guests for being on a quiet street yet still near the action. That knowledge changes the way ads are worded, effectively rebranding the hotel as a quiet retreat yet close to all the excitement in the city.

TIP: All social media accounts should have links to the hotel website where online booking and feedback are quick and easy to access.

The cusomter is always right, or are they?

In retail, the saying goes "the customer is always right." For the most part that is true. However, the hotel industry has a way of bringing out the growling bear in people. Guests often arrive tired, hungry and frazzled from travel. Any little thing wrong is going to be big in an already existing state of irritation which explains certain tweets. "Got to hotel and had to wait an hour for room #HateHotelX." That's harsh, and seemingly negative until somebody tweets in reply, "I've stayed there. Check-in is 4pm. It's 10am. #ChillOut." Before you know it, a conversation is started about Hotel X, including a mix of insights and feedback.

TIP: Don't waste time trying to remove negative feedback. Rather, go ahead and engage with the customer. If nothing else, negative feedback creates opportunity for improvement. People respect a willingness to communicate and interest is piqued when solutions are offered.

Keep social media relevant

Gone are the days when a hotel could rely on a simple postcard or email reminding customers of an upcoming deal. Hotels should keep up with social media, regularly updating business pages with entertaining, informational and relevant posts. When social media pages go stale, it's akin to serving rancid orange juice at the continental breakfast bar. Everyone knows it's there but finds it distasteful.

TIP: Contests are a big draw on social media and remain popular as long as winners are announced and people are thanked for liking and sharing the page. Maybe a like & share could be rewarded with a percentage off a 3 night or more booking. This type of marketing is what keeps people looking at and showing interest in specific hotels.

Take a risk and benefit

In a move that some might have considered marketing suicide, The Victoria Hotel in Melbourne announced on their web page it was being renovated. In reality, it was brilliant because their use of social media kept past and potential guests up to date on progress. Upon project completion, their rebranding from tired but historic to 1880's landmark with modern comforts, where no two rooms are alike, made the hotel a favourite in Melbourne. All along, people enjoyed the updates. The Victoria Hotel put the power of feedback to excellent use by staying in touch with potential guests.

If your hotel isn't already using social media, or isn't doing so effectively, jump onto the train before more opportunities pass and watch those bookings increase.

Michala Maly is a PR & Digital Analyst at iiWorks Sydney

Article location:

Foreign GDSs gear up for the much-awaited opportunity in China

September 02, 2014

By Ritesh Gupta
Is the regulatory environment too listless for any travel intermediary to make any meaningful foray into China?

Foreign GDSs have contemplated an answer to this conundrum over the years, as the travel industry has anticipated when the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) would open up this segment of the market.

Until 2012, China was a closed market to all foreign global distribution systems (GDS). But all of this is changing with partial deregulation, with the CAAC deciding to pave way for foreign GDS to handle bookings for foreign airlines flying into and from China.

Assessing the situation, Bart Tompkins, managing director, Greater China, Amadeus said with the gradual deregulation of the market, sophisticated technology developed by foreign GDSs “will soon prove highly beneficial for the travel industry in China”.

It should be noted that TravelSky, as a specialist in air ticket distribution and accounting, settlement and clearing in China, too, is making diligent moves to strengthen its position.

Only over 20 million segments on international carriers each year are available for international GDSs to compete as Chinese carriers are still taking the majority share of outbound air travel and TravelSky holds the monopoly in that segment. “They are also taking a big share in the distribution mix in mainland China for international carriers as they have been striving to build the direct connect with international carriers over the years,” said a source.

As for the Chinese commercial airlines, the cumulative flight bookings figure last year was around 366 million, with the CAGR for the last couple of years being around 10%, according to the CAAC. Chinese airlines carried 26.55 million passengers on international routes last year, and majority of these were processed by TravelSky.

In 2013, there were over 620 million transactions and over 265 million BSP tickets processed by the accounting, settlement and clearing system of ACCA, a subsidiary of TravelSky.

Current status

Lufthansa, KLM, Air France were among the first international airlines to obtain approval for travel agencies to book via Amadeus in China, with many other Asian and European airlines expected to follow suit.

As explained by Tompkins, this means that for the first time, these authorized airlines will be able to book and eventually ticket, via Amadeus, through a pre-selected group of travel agencies in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

“While progress has been gradual, we are making headway. We gained CAAC approval in January 2014, allowing authorized international airlines bookings via Amadeus in China,” he said.

In July this year, the company gained billing and settlement plan (BSP) certification approval from IATA for mainland China, which means that the company is one step closer to giving authorized travel agents the ability to fulfill the entire billing and ticketing process of travel products offered by foreign BSP airlines.

Amadeus anticipates enabling authorized travel agents to fulfil the entire travel billing and ticketing process offered by foreign BSP airlines by October this year.

The BSP is designed to simplify the selling, reporting and remitting procedures of IATA accredited passenger sales agents.

But, as a senior executive says, the industry is diligently trying to work out apt reporting and remittances, and electronic ticketing, billing and collection. Printing the official invoice or itinerary accredited by the Chinese tax authority is still an ongoing process for Amadeus. In fact, Etihad Airways and Abacus have announced that they are set to print the first BSP ticket, an indication that the industry is gearing up to adopt the IATA-approved ticketing system.

Sustained effort

Tompkins pointed out that agents haven’t largely been exposed to distribution technology that Amadeus has to offer. “This unique situation means the industry in China needs time to adapt to and understand the full capabilities of these technologies,” he said. “Our focus is to educate the market on the benefits of our technology.”

Amadeus has expanded its teams in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

For their part, GDS companies are also looking to embrace local options that can help agents to service travellers better. For instance, Amadeus has a strategic collaboration with Alipay, Chinese online payment service provider, to integrate into the Amadeus Payment Platform (APP). This collaboration will make it easier for Amadeus’ travel providers to serve Chinese travellers by offering them the option to pay with Alipay’s online payment system.

A source mentioned that travel agents in China have to evolve at an unprecedented rate to manage the explosion in outbound travel. “It necessitates greater automation, with the latest productivity tools,” he said. “China’s travel agents each have different business models, so the solutions must work in many different commercial settings.”

Abacus, which also secured IATA BSP certification for China earlier this year, has set up six offices across China to understand and cater to regional differences. But the team also acknowledges that localization is always ongoing in a market of this scale.

Overall, GDS companies have worked hard to align with China’s travel agents’ practices and protocols with a system that complements their own universal distribution platform. Much of it is about knowledge exchange and best practice.

Many travel agents in China are attracted to the idea of connecting with their counterparts overseas on a common GDS. A growing number of their customers are also interested to explore the foreign aviation brands as part of the experience of travelling internationally.

Amadeus is trying to ensure productivity increment for agents as the company says its solution can be tailored to fit specific customer work flows and it requires no installation.

Tompkins said there is a completely localized interface in place and it is offered in Chinese language. “We also connect many travel agencies to our extensive range of content, via an API connection. This means, we adapt to and connect with their in-house systems to ensure they can benefit from Amadeus’ full range of content, while using their preferred front end tool. This could also be done with third party solutions on request,” he explained. Also, there are low fare search tools, available for both the online and offline segment and hotel content is integrated with the Amadeus Selling Platform with more payment methods needed by Chinese travel agencies. “A lot of the hotel information of aggregators’ content is in Chinese language,” said Tompkins.

Also, it would be important for Amadeus to focus their efforts on merchandising for airlines in China.

Airlines are striving to strengthen their ancillary revenue, and companies like Amadeus are supporting them in developing the right merchandising strategies. Amadeus’ “Thinking like a Retailer: Airline Merchandising” report shows airlines how to successfully deploy the right merchandising strategies, removing the possible complexities to deliver to market.

So it would be interesting to assess how GDS companies take note of existing preferences of airlines in China. As witnessed generally, airlines tend to go for both industry standard processes using ATPCO OC and EMD for fulfilment while some also use using XML- based direct connect solutions for accessing and selling ancillaries. One needs to assess how Chinese airlines’ integrate their merchandizing engines with the indirect channels, and how they make the most of NDC, an IATA-led collaborative initiative aimed at working out a messaging standard between airlines and agencies.


As for how foreign GDSs can make inroads in the initial stages, a source said they would surely help carriers in China to expand their global footprint. “As the Chinese carriers have been operating more flights to overseas destinations, their growing needs for overseas distribution should push them to develop further distribution partnership with international GDS companies,” he said.

He further added that the agencies don’t need to cooperate with foreign GDSs if they only deal with domestic ticketing business. “But those doing international business can benefit from the partnership with foreign GDSs,” he said. “Agents who have any sort of partnership with foreign GDSs can see the benefit of data consistency if they can use the same GDS in China to serve the corporate clients. Also, each GDS has its own unique partnerships with different airlines, giving it an advantage over other GDSs when it comes to inventory and the availability of lower fare,” Tompkins said.

Related Link: Travel Daily China Conference 2014

Article location:

How hotel marketers stay relevant with today’s guests

September 01, 2014

“It’s all about relevancy,” says Jackie Talbot, director of online media at Hilton Worldwide Holdings. “We have to stop saying, ‘What is a need market?’ We have to say, ‘What does that customer want?' … Sometimes it’s about only showing the customer what’s relevant to them.”

Retargeting - reaching guests via tailored ads following online searches that don’t end in conversions - is one way to figure out what’s relevant to guests, according to Talbot. She said it’s important to work with destination marketing professionals so they can help marketers figure out how to find guests at the right time.

Kimpton’s Lang said her company takes a different approach by thinking philosophically and focusing on retention versus acquisition of customers.
“As marketers, we’re always chasing the next customer,” she said. “Look at who you have in house already.”

She said the company has invested in social media listening tools to discover what customers are saying when they aren’t staying at a property. The information is integrated into every point-of-sale system at the company, poured into the customer-relationship-management system and added to guests’ profiles.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

Article location:

How to put content at the heart of online hotel marketing

September 01, 2014

Today's consumers are well-informed, digitally dexterous, socially connected, multi-tasking, channel hoppers. If travel and hospitality operators don't have the digital information they need to make a decision, they move off elsewhere in an instant.

Once that happens, it's anyone's guess as to whether they will be back; very tough luck if you've paid out a lot to attract them in the first place.

By providing experiential content brands can ensure the consumer has no reason to leave their website or app and increase the likelihood of them becoming loyal, repeat customers tied to a brand that has earned the right to be custodian of their entire travel experience.

Get the full story at Travolution

Article location:

Cornell study: Sustainability certification boosts hotel performance

September 01, 2014

The study compared 93 U.S. hotels certified by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ratings system - which takes into consideration such factors as water efficiency, energy use and indoor environmental quality - against 514 comparable hotels without the certification. Hotels in the study largely were upscale or luxury properties in urban and suburban locations.

Prior to certification, the LEED-certified hotels had an average daily rate that was $10 higher than the noncertified hotels. In the two years following the certification, that average premium jumped to $20, according to the study.

"Considering those challenges, it is remarkable that LEED-certified hotels match competitors' occupancy levels within a year of certification," the study reported. "The LEED hotels quickly made up the occupancy deficit recorded in the year prior to certification, and they outperformed competitors for two years following certification."

Download the report at Cornell University (free registration)

Article location:

European travel planning platform, GoEuro, pulls in another $27M for regional expansion

September 01, 2014

GoEuro currently operates in seven countries in Europe: its launch markets of Germany and the UK, plus Spain, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg — which means that it can only offer full bus, rail and air options for those markets. It does not currently support ticket booking within the platform but that is a feature the startup aims to add in future.

One likely candidate to be added to its market coverage footprint now that it’s flush with Series A cash is France, which plays a key bridging role in European travel geography, connecting land journeys from the U.K. (via the channel tunnel/ferry) on to many key destinations in central Europe.

In terms of travel terminals, GoEuro says it now covers 20,510 railway stations, 10,011 bus stations and 207 airports. That’s up from 12,900 rail, 8,500 bus (coach) stations and 150 airports back in January.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

Article location:

eDreams Odigeo shares try to escape post-IPO nightmare

September 01, 2014

The Spanish company has seen its share prices fall 60% since its flotation, from 10.25 euro a share to 3.14 euro a share at the close of markets today.

Last week's quarterly conference call - a much-delayed report for earnings closed through June - failed to instill confidence in investors. While the company reported a profit of 3.1 million euro, that was a net income loss of 66% compared to 9.1 million euro in the same period of the previous year.

The IPO troubles are not unique to eDreams Odigeo. BravoFly Rumbo - a Swiss online travel agency - has seen share prices fall since its IPO this year. And the easyHotel IPO also only fetched about half its expected amount.

Get the full story at Tnooz

Article location:

Orbitz, AA patch up dispute

September 01, 2014

Orbitz, a Chicago-based online travel company that sells through,, and other sites, said Friday that consumers should be able to see American fares on its sites very soon.

American, in a statement, said it entered into a letter of intent with Orbitz earlier Friday. The Fort Worth, Texas, company said it is working with Orbitz toward final agreement based on that letter. American said customers who want to change reservations on its tickets bought through Orbitz sites should contact the online travel company.

For the past few days, American, on its homepage, ran a big headline that read, "You won't find our fares on Orbitz" and linked to a statement about the change and a lengthy Q&A for customers.

Get the full story at the Wall Street Journal

Read also "Why hotels may want to think twice about an OTA boycott"

Article location:

Sabre renews technology agreement with Sun-n-Sand Group

September 01, 2014

Sun-n-Sand, Sabre’s first hotel chain customer in India, is a well-known hotel group in India and one of the largest regional five-star hotel chains in Maharashtra.

In addition to Sabre’s SynXis CRS, Sun-n-Sand will use Sabre’s other distribution solutions to drive more bookings via online channels and multiple global distribution systems. The hotel group also plans to drive direct bookings using Sabre’s Guest Connect web and mobile booking engine, which now offers ancillary merchandising opportunities via the new Guest Connect Upsell feature.

“Sabre has the most comprehensive set of hotel distribution and retailing solutions in the industry,” says Mr. Gulshan Arora, senior vice president, Sun-n-Sand Hotels. “We believe Sabre has the experience and solutions to support us during the growth of our business.”

The revenue managers of Sun-n-Sand say the flexibility and usability of SynXis CRS and its robust tools are important features to help them accurately forecast and manage revenue.

“Sabre’s SynXis supports consistent and efficient booking management for our hotel chains,” said Mr. Ameet Wagh, Corporate Head – Sales & Marketing, Sun-n-Sand Hotels. “And the Guest Connect booking engine is another proven, best-in-class product that we are happy with at both the chain and property levels because of its rich functionality.”

Sabre has solid technology, a rich history of innovation in travel and is dedicated to the global travel industry with proven success with over 18,000 hotels globally. Sabre provides a constant investment in system upgrades to ensure the best technology is available to help customers today and for what they may encounter in the future.

Sun-n-Sand has a commitment to being effective in the India market by hiring local staff to provide service and support. They plan to use SynXis CRS to assist them to win future hotel management contracts as they have ambitious plans to grow their hotel portfolio in India as well as globally.

“Sabre brings the technology and expertise to help Sun-n-Sand increase revenues and provide their guests with more options through merchandising,” said Samual Machado, Sabre Hospitality Solutions’ Regional Director, India. “Sabre has the largest GDS and is the largest CRS provider in the world, and we believe our experience and sophisticated technology will support Sun-n-Sand as they grow.”

Related Link: Sabre Hospitality

Article location:

3 key tools for success in hotel online marketing

September 01, 2014

When it comes to your properties, understanding how to communicate anticipated experiences to today’s modern guest is critical as your marketing plans are developed. By sharing a story, you’re increasing the likelihood that when the time comes to book, the hotel shopper will choose you because they’ve “seen” the value you offer.

Based on Leonardo’s study of over 500,000,000 views of media, we learned that guest rooms are viewed 2 x more than the next most popular category which is restaurants.

The fact that restaurants is the 2nd most viewed type of media and recreation is the 3rd provides insight into the fact that consumers really don’t care about the outside of the building, but rather what the rooms looks like, where to eat and what to do while they’re at your hotel.

The exterior of a hotel is #9 on the top 10 most viewed list. The only caveat to featuring the “exterior” of your hotel first is when your building has some historic or prominent architectural feature or is in view of a major landmark. (Think La Tour Eiffel or Times Square.)

Get the full story at the Leonardo blog

Article location:

Organic search drives 50% of website traffic for hospitality industry, social less than 2%

August 29, 2014

After analyzing “billions of pieces” of content, content marketing firm BrightEdge claims organic search is the primary driver of website traffic to business sites, while social barely generates a blip on the traffic radar.

The BrightEdge study found organic search drives 51 percent of all visitors to B2B and B2C websites, trumping all other non-organic search channels, including paid search (10%) and social (5%).

The hospitality industry is the number three performer with close to 50% website traffic resulting from organic search.

While 'Organic Search' drives the most traffic for hotel websites, 'Paid Search' comes in second with close to 30%, followed by 'Display, Email and Referred' with just over 20% of hospitality website traffic.

Download the full report at BrightEdge (free registration)

Article location:

TripAdvisor on ‘Instant Booking’ being a distribution channel not an OTA

August 29, 2014

During the very interesting conversation, Stephen Kaufer once again highlighted that TripAdvisor is not contracting hotel rooms directly. The company sees itself as a media business, helping consumers go further down the funnel, but at the end of the day it's still Getaroom, it’s still Best Western, and somebody else who’s selling the hotel room on TripAdvisor.

As for Priceline and Expedia not participating in TripAdvisor's Instant Booking initiative, Kaufer says the two simply said that they are not participating for now. And the “for now” presumably revolves around the fact that Instant Booking is currently only available on mobile. The phone, not including tablet, is a small portion of TripAdvisor bookings and a small portion of the OTA bookings. It is great for the consumer on the phone, but it’s not particularly a big deal in terms of the number of leads that we send.

With Instant Booking TripAdvisor is looking at independent hotels as being a great opportunity for them to expand their distribution opportunities, as long as there is a way to technically connect with them. Instant Booking is a distribution channel, not an OTA. It's not buying a click from Google. It's something in between.

Get the full story at Skift

Article location:

How connected consumers are transforming travel

August 29, 2014

Mobile consumption by travellers has exploded. 30 million people are hunting for travel content every month, exclusively on mobile.

From research to purchase to actually experiencing the trip, travellers are always connected and active on their mobile devices. Particularly in the research phase, mobile travellers seek inspiration from the web, friends and family to plan travel - which is a huge opportunity for travel businesses.

Somo's new infographic, ‘Winning with Mobile: How the Connected Consumer is Transforming Travel’ gathers key stats and insights on connected traveler behaviour as well as opportunities for the travel industry based on recent trends.

View the infographic at Somo

Article location:

Five major European travel tech trends - think devices

August 29, 2014

A new study by PhoCusWright, the European Traveler Technology Survey 2014, was designed to help travel companies understand this exciting new intersection of consumer technology and holiday travel in the three major markets of France, Germany and the U.K.

The article lists five of the major highlights:

Tablets: No longer just for the young and tech savvy

Younger consumers are typically the strongest adopters of new technology. Millennials were first to jump on Facebook. They were first to tweet. They took to smartphones at the fastest clip. But the new study reveals an exception to the pattern. In Europe, tablets are appealing to a much older crowd.

According to the European Traveler Technology Survey 2014, tablet ownership peaks among 35-44 year-old online travel planners in France (54%) and the U.K. (55%) – and among 45-54 year olds in Germany (45%).

Get the full story at Tnooz

Article location:

Marriott’s 11 contributing factors for weighing the value of a meeting business

August 29, 2014

Once you start looking into it, revenue management gets pretty fascinating. It’s part exhaustive analysis and part gut-level guesswork, part well-laid plans and part crapshoot. Of course, that also makes it frustrating, both for the revenue managers trying to put their profit puzzles together and for meeting planners trying to allocate their budgets effectively.

Today, you’re the right customer booking the right hotel at the right price. Tomorrow, you’re not. So how can you know your leverage at the time and place you’re negotiating rates?

Among Marriott's 11 contributing factors you'll find the obvious ones like date, group size and budget, but also considerations like hotel loyalty and concessions the hotel has to enter to contract the meeting.

Get the full story at Meeting.Net

Article location:

Google ends authorship for search results

August 29, 2014

Google launched authorship back in June 2011 and later that month, Google began showing author images in the search results. Two years later, Google dropped author images from the search results and now a couple months later, they have dropped the authorship bylink links completely from the search results.

Google says its continuing and expanding its support of structured markup (such as This markup helps all search engines better understand the content and context of pages on the web, and we’ll continue to use it to show rich snippets in search results.

It’s also worth mentioning that Search users will still see Google+ posts from friends and pages when they’re relevant to the query - both in the main results, and on the right-hand side. Today’s authorship change doesn’t impact these social features.

Get the full story at Search Engine Land

Article location:

Why hotel distribution costs matter to corporates

August 29, 2014

Both the number of ways of booking a hotel and the costs of delivering a hotel booking through each of these channels has changed dramatically in recent years.

In the early 1990s hotels relied on phone calls from their direct customers, business travel agents (as they were then called) and other intermediaries, with bookings confirmed by fax, telex or snail mail.
Of course the internet changed everything, fragmenting the number and range of channels through which a hotel can receive a booking, and the rates applied to those channels.

TMC and HBA commissions, GDS and switch fees are nothing new, whilst the rise of Online Travel Agents (OTAs) with higher commission charges (compared to the traditional 8 or 10%) plus VAT have all eroded the hotelier’s margin.

In fact, from a gross booking value of £100, the hotelier can lose as much as £30 in distribution and channel fees. Distribution management means tracking and assessing conversion ratios, revenue- to-cost models and ancillary spend for both direct channels (i.e. the phone and hotels’ own website) as well as third parties, all adding to the cost of managing and monitoring these disparate revenue streams.

But whilst the distribution landscape itself may be evolving, the challenge for the hotelier remains the same; to identify the channels that produce the best yield in terms of occupancy and rate.

The internet is now a mature booking channel; 2014’s business and leisure traveller demands real-time pricing, availability and a lowest rate guarantee. Traditional pricing promotions can be counter-productive in a channel where a lower rate is only a couple of clicks away.

Meta-search technology has given rise to price comparison sites who are all offering the same value proposition – the lowest rates on the market.
And yet hotels have been slow to adapt their distribution strategies to the fragmented landscape. Some have opted not to work with the OTAs during peak periods, but still turn to them when occupancy is down.

Download the full report at HRS (free registration)

Article location:

7 ways to play the revenue management game in online travel

August 29, 2014

1. Profitability is the name of the game
It's becoming increasingly important for hoteliers to focus on profitability. "Top line revenue is sometimes easier to get because you can expose a hotel to lots of distribution channels but the cost structure for say is different compared to your own brand website," says Chinmai Sharma, VP Revenue Management and Distribution at Louvre Hotels. What revenue managers today need to understand, is that all channels are not the same and all have a different impact on profit and loss.

2. Pricing: it's complicated
The person responsible for pricing has a tough role. Why? Because it impacts all top line revenue channels and so requires a focus on OTAs, brand websites, e-commerce platforms and so on. Revenue managers must also get involved in many different parts of the business such as pricing for corporate or group accounts. As Carlos Sánchez, Senior Manager Big Data Analytics at Carlson Wagonlit Travel points out, merging the data streams from multiple data sources can be tricky.

For small and large chains alike and even independent hotels, the internet channel continues to grow and that impacts pricing too. "In our business 30-35% of the business comes from online channels which include the brand website as well as the OTAs and that has a direct impact on pricing," says Sharma. While customers may end up on the call, Sharma is "pretty sure that more than half the firm's business starts online".

3. It's a mobile journey but people still like to talk
People are increasingly comfortable booking via mobile but Louvre Hotels call centre operations continue to grow at around 40% a year. "People may start the journey on a mobile device but will eventually hit the green button to call," says Sharma. Of course this varies from country to country. In France, for example, people definitely prefer speaking to a person, whereas in the UK and Germany people are more comfortable using a credit card online.

4. There are two sides to the coin
A lot is said about the importance of driving more direct bookings. Because Sharma has worked for Expedia he understands the power of distribution. The most important thing, he says, is to manage each channel and to understand where you can compete. "When the customer is in the hotel they are your captive audience and you can do more to encourage direct bookings in the future," he says. But at the same time he understands that he can't spend a billion on online marketing in the same way as Expedia and can. So, see where the OTAs are adding value and where you can get business yourself and then prioritse. "It's an ongoing game and you have to play it," he says.

5. RM can't function alone
Revenue managers today need to understand the nuts and bolts of the business – everything from distribution channels to e-commerce, sales and marketing and how paid search impacts traffic and conversion. "The whole company strategy today has to be aligned. "If you have a pricing strategy then you need to know what are you trying to sell and this has to match with your business plan and marketing plan and so on," says Sharma. According to Sánchez one of the biggest challenges for revenue managers is that they need to convey the insight in a way that is clear, relevant and actionable so the best possible business decisions can be made.

6. Analytical skills need work
Today you can track a lot of initiatives and understand where and how they are delivering a return on investment. So if marketing is working on a TV ad campaign, then you can actually track increased hits on your website. So aside from a focus on profitability, RMs also need to hone their analytical skills. "In our hiring process it's becoming harder and harder to find people who have all the skills we need," says Sharma. Interestingly, he prefers to hire someone who has had some exposure to sales and marketing rather than someone who has been purely pricing in silos. In Sharma's view, sales and marketing people "are a bit more robust".

7. New tools mean greater transparency
Sharma says it's encouraging to see new RM tools – like those from Duetto Research and Price Match - that make the industry more transparent and are relatively easy to learn. According to Sánchez there is both an upside and downside here. "With the proliferation of inexpensive technological tools, it can be easy to focus on lots of different things at once and this perhaps yields lesser results than when focusing on a few key areas," he says. It will, therefore, be important to remain focused on the solutions that will produce the highest impact.

To hear more insights from Chinmai Sharma, VP Revenue Management and Distribution at Louvre Hotels and Carlos Sánchez, Senior Manager Big Data Analytics at Carlson Wagonlit Travel join us in Amsterdam for Smart Travel Analytics & RM 2014 (Nov 24-25)

Article location:

Most leisure travelers make their final decision on a hotel by visiting its website

August 28, 2014

A new study of 2,000 consumers: The New Hotel Booking Path to Purchase: The Mobile, Social, and Online Journey from market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB) found that mobile, social, and online factors influence leisure travelers very differently at separate stages in the purchase journey. Additional findings include:

- Mobile devices play an important role in the initial research phase of hotel planning, but are used sparingly to book hotel stays. Over 60% of travelers used a mobile device - 47% a smartphone - during their hotel purchase journey. But only 6% booked their hotel via a smartphone.

- Mobile applications are used infrequently throughout the hotel purchase journey. In total, only 6% of shoppers used a mobile app.

- Consumer reviews trump social media in influencing research and evaluation as well as final decisions. Only 13% of bookers used social media during the purchase journey vs 59% who consulted consumer reviews.

- Price comparison sites play an important role even when they are not the final purchase location. Nearly half of travelers (49%) used a price comparison website such as Expedia, Priceline, or Kayak. 36% of those who used one or more of these sites ultimately booked their stay with them.

“There’s no shortage of information available to travelers as they plan and book hotels for their vacations,” says Judy Melanson, SVP of CMB’s Travel and Hospitality practice. “We know their path involves multiple sites and sources of information. The challenge for hotels is to decide how to align their marketing budgets to best intercept potential travelers—delivering desired content on the appropriate device and through the right channels and partners.”

Download the complete survey at Chadwick Martin Bailey (Free registration)

Article location:

As hotel operations and marketing are blending, technology becomes more important

August 28, 2014

Tim Harvey, president & CEO of technology consultancy Core Ideas, said the importance of personal information about guests can’t be underestimated. Hoteliers can differentiate a guest’s experience every time he or she stays by knowing the right information.

“It’s about the customer … giving them choice and control,” Harvey said. “Mobility and how you react to that is probably the biggest trend out there. The biggest opportunity is empowering the guest to do business the way they want to do business operationally.”

“Operations and marketing are blending,” said Flo Lugli, principal at Navesink Advisory Group. “Every single person at your hotel needs to understand how their interaction with the guest affects (the guest) and their impression of the brand.”

Get the full story at HotelNewsNow

Article location:

HotelTonight releases the ‘Last-Minute Booking Report’

August 28, 2014

HotelTonight's Business Intelligence Team pulled proprietary data to determine general trends and habits from its more than 10.5M global, mobile users. According to historical and predictive booking data, HotelTonight found the following:

On the Last-Minute Hotel Stay (Source: HotelTonight Data from July to August, YOY)

In the top 50 markets in the US, same-day hotel prices are rising year over year in:

- Austin (+31%)
- Seattle (+26%)
- Waikiki (+25%)
- Silicon Valley (+24%)
- Nashville (+24%)

Same-day hotel prices are falling year over year in:

- Cincinnati (-14%)
- Houston (-12%)
- Detroit (-10%)
- Chicago (-9%)
- Minneapolis (-7%)

Five markets that HotelTonight has seen better last-minute discounts in (2014 vs. 2013) are:

- Cincinnati (29% vs. 18%)
- San Juan (32% vs. 22%)
- Indianapolis (34% vs. 26%)
- La Jolla (28% vs. 21%)
- Tampa Bay (24% vs. 20%)

Five markets that HotelTonight has seen smaller last-minute discounts in (2014 vs. 2013) are:

- Hollywood (16% vs. 35%)
- Phoenix (18% vs. 35%)
- Reno (19% vs. 33%)
- San Francisco (13% vs. 26%)
- Las Vegas (14% vs. 26%)

The following destinations have increased in popularity for last-minute trips: Orlando, Portland, Houston, Monterey, and Tampa Bay, while Dallas, New Orleans, Myrtle Beach, and San Antonio and Brooklyn have become less popular for spontaneous travelers.

Year over year, locals in Las Vegas, Reno, New York City, Chicago and Washington D.C. go on the most staycations. Staycations are on the rise in Miami, San Diego, Phoenix, Tempe, Seattle and Denver.

On the Last-Minute Traveler

- The most booked hotel category among HotelTonight's customers is "SOLID," showing that last-minute bookers are, above all, looking for a comfortable, reliable hotel with all the necessary amenities.

- $99 is the right price for a HotelTonight customer, as it came in as the most booked same-day US rate for weekend and weeknight hotel stays.

- When it comes to how often travelers are thinking (or daydreaming!) about a last-minute trip, the average HotelTonight US customer opens the app close to 3 times per week. Spontaneity is the top driver for a last-minute booking, while added flexibility and great deals come in closely behind. (Source: December 2013 HotelTonight study)

- The average HotelTonight customer books a room just 8 miles away from their current location, showing the truly last-minute nature of its users. When the last-minute customer checks in to the hotel, their most requested amenity is free Wi-Fi.

- The average time-of-day a customer books their stay on HotelTonight is 3:00pm, showing that travelers are becoming more and more comfortable with arranging their travel accommodations at the very last-minute.

A few insider tips from HotelTonight to consider when booking late summer or fall travel in the US

- HotelTonight predicts that the following destinations will be the most traveled to this Labor Day: Las Vegas, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego.

- To make sure that the last long weekend of summer is endless, HotelTonight has partnered with top hotels across the country to bring you get-out-of-dodge rates the entire Labor Day weekend. HotelTonight will be offering special $59/$79/$99 "Endless Summer" rates in its most popular destinations on Sunday, so you can keep summer going for one more day!

- As we head into fall, the best destinations to get a hotel deal with rates 30-50% lower than average are Brooklyn, Las Vegas and Washington D.C.

- The best beach and vacation spots to get a great priced room in September and October are Boca Raton, Providence, and Laguna Beach. Other off-season spots that offering great rates this fall are Albuquerque, Myrtle Beach and Lake Tahoe.

- The cheapest day of the week to book this fall are Sundays. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the most expensive, due to heavy business travel. Expect to see prices start to decline in the second week of November with rates 15-35% cheaper than September and October averages.

To see this data as an infographic go to HotelTonight

Article location:

Why hotels may want to think twice about an OTA boycott

August 28, 2014

Where the airline market is consolidated and controlled by a select few, the hotel industry is incredibly fragmented. It’s harder for the hotels to gain leverage over the online travel sites when there are literally hundreds of choices in markets like New York or destinations like Mexico. More competition among hotels leads to less leverage with the OTAs. That’s one of the reasons why the vast majority of OTA profit is derived from hotel bookings.

Despite the competitive market, hotels were actually the first ones to make this kind of brazen move toward dropping the OTAs. In 2004, InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) pulled its inventory from Expedia in a dispute over how Expedia was failing to meet their standards for reselling hotel rooms: In part, IHG accused Expedia of adding hidden fees, inaccurately listing sold-out properties and using "bait and switch" tactics to lure customers.

But what was really at the core of the issue was IHG felt that their pricing was being undermined and wanted to drive parity across all channels. Ultimately the two sides found a way to split the incredibly profitable pie without the other feeling taken advantage of.

Get the full story at TravelPulse

Article location:

5 things Expedia’s management wants you to know

August 28, 2014

Expedia reported remarkably strong earnings for the second quarter of 2014, and the company seems positioned to continue delivering sound performance. Given its strong results, this article takes a closer look at Expedia´s latest earnings conference call and highlight a few important takeaways for investors.

Expedia is benefiting from three main growth drivers: Travel demand is growing strongly, and an increasingly bigger part of that demand is happening online and via mobile devices, so the size of the market opportunity is getting bigger for online travel players such as Expedia and its main competitor Priceline .

Unlike Priceline, which has always done most of its business in international markets, Expedia has traditionally been more focused on the U.S. But the company is now expanding more aggressively on the global front, and this is having positive implications on overall growth rates.

Get the full story at Nasdaq

Article location:

Email tips that will catch you more bookings

August 28, 2014

According to the latest Ve Interactive statistics, a substantial 85% of online transactions in travel are abandoned by the user before conversion. So it’s clear that while it’s important to attract customers in the first place, this strategy in isolation is not enough.

Abandoned bookings represent an enormous opportunity to re-engage with already-interested leads. This is where email re-engagement can be your best friend, returning you right back to the forefront of the user’s mind and boosting your conversion chances.

Here are some tips to create the perfect re-engagement email campaign.

Get the full story at Travolution

Article location:

How to get hotel guests to tweet

August 28, 2014

By Doug Kennedy

As I often say in my training workshops, a hotel's guest services staff is now part of the marketing and PR department! With the continued explosion of social media postings and online guest reviews, the walls of hotels are essentially made of glass; everything that happens within can clearly be seen by basically anyone in the outside world. This can either be a hotel's worst nightmare or its dream opportunity for viral marketing that is free of charge, depending on interactions your guests are having every day with your guest services colleagues.

So what does it take to encourage guests decide to whip-out their smartphone and tweet about their experiences, or to post an update to their Facebook or Instagram account? Nothing more than a punctilious approach to providing for guest needs and a fervent spirit of hospitality. Or to put it simply, a great attention to detail and a passion for treating guests with warmth and generosity.

These are easy concepts for managers to understand and talk about, but transferring these values to the frontline colleagues that touch guests every day is much more challenging. It all starts with recruiting and selecting the right staff. Rather than just looking for candidates with prior customer service or hotel experience, look also for those who are involved with their communities. Those who have volunteered with in their children's schools, their religious institutions or who are active in local charities are more likely to be colleagues who know that hospitality means caring about, as well as caring for others. It is especially important to look for this genuine love of giving as a personality trait of the supervisors and first level managers, as experienced hoteliers know that if we take good care of our staff they will take good care of our guests.

Besides finding the right personalities as a foundation, here are some practical ideas and training tips for your hotel or resort.

- Encourage your staff to engage guests with question about why they are traveling and to take notice when guests voluntarily mention their reasons for staying at your hotel. If they listen interactively they will find out the reasons go much deeper than "business" or "leisure" or even "a little of both." Instead, they will find guests who are in town for birthday celebrations, weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, retirement parties, anniversaries, and many other joyous occasions which people tend to celebrate with a special trip.

- Those taking reservations can note their findings on the "comments" line, thus enabling the guest reception staff to provide a personalized welcome. I will never forget a few years back when I was staying at a hotel with my now teenage daughter who had just turned 10. I had forgotten mentioning this until the front desk clerk leaned over the counter and said to her" "You must be Julia! I heard you have a big birthday this weekend; double digits!" She then presented her with a card signed by the front desk staff that specifically mentioned a 10th birthday; it was pinned to a bulletin board in her room for years. As a beaming father, a picture of her with the card and also the small cake they sent went on my travel blog and Facebook page that very night.

- In order for this to work, make sure the front desk staff reads through their arrivals list and takes note of the "comments" on respective reservations so that they will be prepared. They should also report back to the reservations takers what they did with this information (especially if they are in a different department) to encourage them to keep up the effort.

- Reading through the arrival list will also help them recognize repeat guests when they enter the lobby. While they might not have been able to do so just by seeing a familiar face, if they have noticed familiar names on the list prior to their shift, seeing that face can jog one's memory and allow them to welcome a guest by name before it is given. (I still use this technique when I attend lodging conferences; I read the attendee list in advance and am able to greet others by name without looking at their name badge.)

- If frontline colleagues engage guests and listen interactively, they will also find many somber occasions as well as happy ones. For every guest in town for a wedding there is another in town for a funeral. Help your team understand that sometimes the unexpected words of support or condolences from a stranger can be even more meaningful than the expected words of support from friends.

- Provide your guest services staff with a "special amenity closet." This should be stocked with basic supplies such as greeting cards, which can be purchased inexpensively online or at dollar stores, champagne splits, drink or desert coupons from in-house or area establishments, birthday candles and matches (guests often remember to bring a cake but forget the candles), spare batteries for toys given as gifts for children's birthdays, balloons and a helium tank, yellow ribbons, and inexpensive room decorations for typical celebrations.

- When guests are greeted with these items and amenities unexpectedly in their rooms, chances are very good that they will soon be tweeting out and/or posting a photo, especially since you are giving them something to take a picture of.

- Besides amenities, when colleagues get to know their guests they can identify the special interests and hobbies of those who stay frequently, especially for hotels catering to the business travelers who tend to return regularly. Thereafter, they can provide personalized amenities and information. For example, if you learn that a guest is into live music, why not call a local nightclub to ask for a guest pass? If you find a guest is into culinary – as so many millennials are especially fond of – give them a copy of a review of a new restaurant that has opened in the region. If they are runners, let them know about a local corporate run that is taking place nearby.

- Provide recognition for your frontline colleagues who deliver these punctilious guest service experiences at staff meetings and in employee communications (newsletters, intranet postings), especially when something they did for a guest is later mentioned in a social media posting.

When you encourage your frontline colleagues to engage those we call our guests, and to do the little extras such as referenced here, your guests will most certainly be more likely to tweet about their experiences and to post photos that tell the story for those in the outside world. Along the way you will also find that your frontline colleagues also have a lot more fun delivering hospitality rather than processing guests like widgets in a factory.

Doug Kennedy is President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. a leading provider of customized training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry.

Article location:

HSMAI to reveal new insights on critical skills for the modern hospitality sales professional

August 28, 2014

The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Asia Pacific's 10th Annual AsiaConnect Conference will be held in Singapore on September 3, 2014 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Conference Center.

AsiaConnect 2014 will challenge traditional thinking and thinkers about the new role and value of the sales professional in an online era of infinite connections and opportunities. Reflecting on past practices and focusing on 'Best Practices' for the 'Future State' of the progressive sales organization, HSMAI Asia Pacific will engage delegates throughout the day on various levels that will address the need to 'Raise the Talent Bar' of the hospitality industry.

Robert Gilbert, Global CEO & President of HSMAI, will reveal the new skills that sales people need to be successful in the evolving world of hospitality sales. This will be followed by a panel session moderated by Lucas Peng, CEO of Peak Hospitality Solutions featuring Carmen Lam, VP Sales & Marketing AP, FRHI Hotels & Resorts and Andrew Chan, CEO - ACI HR Solutions, who will share their insights on how you can adjust and recalibrate your sales organization to transition to the modern sales professional.

Also headlining this year's program is Ani Bhalekar, a mobility solutions expert at Accenture Digital, who will deliver a keynote address on 'Tapping the Growth of the Mobility Marketplace', to help hospitality professionals stay ahead of the curve and be profitable.

Other key sessions include:

- Presentation on 'Ancillary Revenue, Upselling & the Mobile Platform' by Peter Ollerton - Director - Business Development South Pacific & North Asia and Milena Schmidt, Asst. Director at Nor1

- Panel on 'Opportunities for Integrating Revenue Management into the organization' with Moderator Maunik Thacker, SVP Marketing, Marina Bay Sands and Ben George, VP Revenue Management-Asia Pacific, Hilton Worldwide, Jeannette Ho, VP Revenue Management & Analytics, FRHI Hotels & Resorts and Jurgen Ortelee, VP Revenue Performance, Pan Pacific Hotels Group

- Presentation on 'Reviews, Reputation and ROI: Getting the most out of your online presence' by Pin Tsin Go, Territory Manager at TripAdvisor for Business

- The 'Voice of the Customer' panel moderated by John Mims, Managing Director of The Hunting Ridge Group with John Bowen, CEO of MediaConcepts, Laurens Van Den Oever, Global Director Travel & Tourism at GfK and Mike Lee, VP – Sales at Marina Bay Sands

Gold Sponsors: Nor1 and TripAdvisor, Table Sponsors: Far East Hospitality Management, FRHI Hotels & Resorts, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Tourism Board, TravelCLICK, Content Sponsors/Partners: Peak Hospitality Solutions, Wiley, Cornell-Nanyang Institute of Hospitality Management, Sabre Hospitality Solutions and WIT.

Registration fees:

HSMAI Members - SGD$195, Full-Time Faculty & Students – SGD$225, Sponsor's Rate – SGD$225, Non-Member Group (2 or more) – SGD$ 250, Non-Member Individual – SGD$300, HSMAI Membership & Conference Package – SGD$480.

Register online at HSMAI Asia-Pacific

Article location:

Negotiated rates often offer better hotel value than dynamic pricing, says CWT

August 27, 2014

The group, Carlson Wagonlit Travel's consulting division, tracked best available rates at about 6,400 hotels from January to April and compared them with 134 clients' negotiated rates. On average, the negotiated rates provided 22.7 percent savings off BAR, though that figure varied widely by market, hotel type and program volume. Negotiated rates in such markets as Houston, Atlanta and Toronto on average saved more than 30 percent off BAR, while the average negotiated rate in New York was actually higher than BAR, for example.

"In high-occupancy markets, we begin to see how a dynamic agreement could be more beneficial to a corporate customer," according to the report. "In these markets where hotels don't need to offer significant discounts to attract business, a 10-percent-to-15-percent dynamic pricing agreement may very well be more beneficial than flat corporate negotiated rates."

At the same time, hotels that do not discount heavily on corporate negotiated rates are not likely to offer large dynamic discounts, either, the report continued.

The group's research also determined negotiated rates tended to offer more savings in higher-tier properties. The average negotiated rate at deluxe hotels was 39 percent below BAR, while at economy hotels it was 17 percent below BAR.

Get the full story at Business Travel News

Article location:

Best practices to help travel sites increase bookings

August 27, 2014

Survey findings include:

- Travelers search multiple web sources when preparing to book trips, and the preference is overwhelmingly in favor of using desktops -- 79 percent of travelers use online travel agencies/apps for research compared to 14 percent who use smartphones and 11 percent who use tablets.

- Frequent travelers (6+ trips/year), big spenders (spend $6000/annually on travel), early tech adopters and mobile travel shoppers use more touch points than the mean, indicating that these travelers do more research than average before booking.

- Consumers aged 25-34 represent the most mobile-heavy shoppers, making up 38 percent of the total users who book through mobile. As consumers age, the number of touch points used to book travel decreases, identifying a key opportunity for sites to capture market share within that age demographic.

- Top reasons travelers give for not booking via mobile devices are that they prefer to book via desktop/laptop (55 percent), the mobile screen is too small (31 percent), not ready to book when shopping on a mobile device (30 percent), and they are not comfortable booking via a mobile device (26 percent).

Travel booking sites have an opportunity to increase conversions and customer loyalty by providing a personalized, easy-to-use experience for customers who are using multiple devices. The following are five digital best practices suggested by Webtrends to help travel booking sites better understand their consumers and better focus their marketing spend:

1. Discover what matters to each individual traveler. In order to deliver relevant and personalized experiences to visitors, travel sites must take a sophisticated approach to the digital booking process by knowing each visitor on an individual basis. This allows brands to create the most relevant user experiences. By leveraging visitor-level measurement and optimization tools, brands can personally assist each traveler with his or her search and avoid the risk of that visitor booking elsewhere.

2. Understand travelers across their entire journey and on all devices. While you can't control how consumers interact with your site, you can learn from that interaction -- and learn to read between the channels. It's not just about what a consumer did on a website or a mobile device, it's about the journey and interaction between devices. For example, research may be done on a smartphone, but the user may ultimately book using a tablet. By painting a cumulative picture of consumers that includes both action and intent, brands can understand cross-channel flows and make informed decisions on where to invest both effort and spend.

3. Test everything across all channels. Whether it is flight/hotel booked or Average Order Value, metrics are essential to the travel industry. Constantly testing and measuring results allows brands to improve the booking experience and drive up KPIs -- ensuring brands get the most yield for every dollar spent on marketing optimization programs. Evaluate your campaigns constantly and make adjustments regularly to see which messages result in the greatest return. Brands should continue to evolve the booking process because there isn't a one-time fix. Channels should evolve depending on season, visitor demographics, travel pricing and other criteria.

4. Take immediate action. Every traveler has a purpose when visiting a site and historical data only tells part of that story. Real-time data is the clearest indicator of current intent, and using those in-the-moment insights to see what travelers are searching for and clicking on is the best way for brands to provide a relevant experience while the traveler is still engaged, regardless of channel or device. By reaching out to a visitor while that person is still thinking about the purchase, whether it's through a pop up ad, an email immediately after he's left the site or an offer for a lower fare, conversion becomes increasingly more likely.

5. Leverage technology that plays well with others. Booking sites must have the flexibility to change and adapt in order to improve experiences for travelers across digital channels. When selecting tools, make sure you are leveraging technologies that are compatible and open. Otherwise, you may be forced to make compromises in your strategy in order to conform to a closed system.

"Booking sites are challenged to meet customer needs on every step of the journey -- from the first interaction all the way to the final booking of the trip. Since travelers often do research on many sites while using multiple devices, it is imperative for travel sites to get the experience right the first time by connecting the dots between channels. This includes understanding how consumers use both mobile and desktop. By understanding consumers on a real time, visitor level, booking sites can determine immediate intent and offer the most personalized, relevant experience. That experience adds up to increased bookings, higher order values and, best of all, site loyalty."

Article location:

How Airbnb takes a customer-centric approach to Google AdWords

August 27, 2014

To get to where it is today, Airbnb had to understand its customers better. Working with a team of data scientists, it created sophisticated models to estimate customer LTV. The LTV calculation is a proprietary model based on a wide range of factors: customer location, travel distance, search keyword and much more. That LTV figure determines Airbnb’s cost per acquisition.

Airbnb’s search team uses flexible budgets to reach all consumers the moment they’re ready to book. “Airbnb’s hyper­growth is dependent on our team’s ability to take advantage of opportunities as they appear," says Maria Hwang, head of Paid Growth - Europe, LATAM, Korea and Japan. "Our leadership is focused on the business impact of our search investments; they empower us to find new ways to drive results."

It hasn't always been this way for Airbnb’s search team. "We’ve had to have different conversations across the organization to get to where we are today," notes Hwang. Fortunately, the team had two things going for it - solid AdWords data to make its case for resources and a supportive sponsor in the company’s co­founder and CTO, Nathan Blecharczyk. For example, one of the team’s recent challenges was international expansion. The team was able to use its data­-driven approach to getting customers on AdWords to gain approval for a whole international arm in 2011. According to Diane Chour, head of Paid Growth - North America, China, Australia and South East Asia, "It was a huge endeavor, but now we’re able to reach and support our customers on an entirely global scale."

Get the full story at Think with Google

Article location:

Skyscanner now wants to help you find hotels from your phone with a new standalone app

August 27, 2014

The company has offered hotel search for a while already through its website, but today - almost one year after Skyscanner introduced its second standalone mobile app (for car hire) - the Edinburgh, UK-headquartered firm is now rolling out a brand new native mobile app for hotels.

By way of a quick recap, in September last year, Skyscanner took its hotel-search service in-house when it acquired Barcelona-based travel company Fogg And today’s launch is very much a by-product of that deal.

Available for iOS only initially, Skyscanner Hotel Search is slickly designed. The homescreen features basic search parameters such as destination, dates and number of guests, then you’re good to go. You can elect to view your search results in a list format, or even plotted on a map, and you can ‘Heart’ (bookmark) your favorite hotels.

Get the full story at The Next Web

Article location:

Roomlia takes on HotelTonight with mobile hotel app

August 27, 2014

Roomlia links directly with hotels’ operations systems to make sure that the experience is super quick and painless. When you first log in, you’re given an extensive list of cities. You can choose one, or search for one that isn’t on the list, and you’re immediately shown a list of hotels with pictures, ratings, and average prices.

Certain hotel rooms have extra deep discounts, which is displayed with a red flag on the listing. These only last a limited time.

Users can put in their hotel dates on the bottom using a calendar or a slider to show the number of nights desired. Roomlia users have the opportunity to book a stay as long as five nights.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

Article location:

Price war sees China’s OTAs turn to business travelers

August 27, 2014

Previously, Ctrip and eLong focused on the leisure travel industry, but over the last two years, other strong competitors such as Qunar have entered the market, causing a massive drop in hotel revenues, which had previously reached 12%-15%, said one unnamed executive at an e-commerce firm.

Price wars have intensified this year among companies such as Ctrip, eLong and Qunar, causing their profits to dip lower and lower.

To cope with the rising competition, some operators have begun to explore business-to-business (B2B) operations, the executive said.

Get the full story at WantChinaTimes

Article location:

The secret payment ingredients to unlock a world of Chinese tourism: Alipay and UnionPay

August 27, 2014

If we take a look at online payment preferences in China, online bank transfers and eWallets (Alipay being the largest) are almost as popular as credit/debit cards (26%, 29% and 33% preference respectively)². Indeed, the most popular payment method providers are barely 10-15 years old, whereas in Europe and the US they have been long established.

Understanding local customs, tastes and preferences is vital before attempting to target the Chinese market, and this obliges travel providers to give some serious thought into adapting their payment solutions to satisfy them.

If travel providers do not offer their customers the possibility to pay with Alipay or UnionPay, they risk not making the most of China’s immense market potential. In the payments world unfortunately there is no global one-size-fits-all payment method, so travel providers need to serve and adapt locally first if they want to truly make a global footprint. Thankfully, with APP’s global coverage they will not have to worry.

Get the full story at Amadeus

Article location:

Drury Hotels selects Leonardo’s hotel image management and syndication

August 27, 2014

Leonardo’s VScape digital asset management system connects Drury Hotels with the travel industry’s largest network of travel websites, enabling the brand to:

- Syndicate visual content to more than 120 directly connected travel websites in the VNetwork, including all 4 GDS, major OTAs, non-OTA travel research sites as well as tens of thousands of forward distribution channels

- Ensure the right images are displayed for each hotel through automated matching using GDS codes

- Upload images in any size and format and let the system take care of re-sizing and re-formatting them to meet the requirements of each channel and device

“Selecting Leonardo’s VScape Digital Asset Management System was an easy decision due to the reach of VNetwork and the ease of distributing images through one tool, improving efficiency. It’s the ideal system for our needs, especially as we continue to add more visual media to our repertoire as well as add properties whose digital media we’ll need to showcase in the future,” said Carolyn Feltner, director of marketing, Drury Hotels.

Related Link: Leonardo

Article location:

AA pulls fare listings off of Orbitz sites

August 27, 2014

"We have worked tirelessly with Orbitz to reach a deal with the economics that allow us to keep costs low and compete with low-cost carriers," American Airlines President Scott Kirby said in a statement on Tuesday. "While our fares are no longer on Orbitz, there are a multitude of other options available for our customers, including brick- and-mortar agencies, online travel agencies and our own websites."

American, which completed its merger with US Airways last year, has long tussled with Orbitz over airline-ticketing rights as the carrier has been looking to reduce distribution costs. As far back as 2010, American had been threatening to pull its inventory from Orbitz as the carrier was looking to lower ticketing costs while getting more customers to book directly with American, where the carrier could more easily ticket and charge for ancillary fees for services such as onboard meals and baggage fees.

While Orbitz substantially trails OTA competitors Priceline Group and Expedia in terms of global revenue, the company is actually the second most popular OTA among Americans, according to PhoCusWright. Orbitz accounts for about 21% of all OTA bookings by Americans, trailing only Expedia's 42% market share.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

Article location:

Group bookings to drive highest hotel occupancy levels in 20 years, says PwC US

August 26, 2014

As the economy rebounded from a weather-related slowdown in the first quarter of 2014, travel activity picked up significantly in the second quarter, resulting in better than expected occupancy performance, and average daily rate results that were only slightly less than anticipated. While transient travel – both commercial and leisure – continues to show steady gains, hoteliers are reporting strong trends in the group segment, which still has room to recover to peak levels. This increased momentum of demand growth in the second quarter and a robust summer travel season also resulted in public lodging companies increasing their guidance on revenue per available room (“RevPAR”) growth for the year. This, coupled with continued growth in group demand and steady above-trend economic momentum, supports PwC’s expectation of a solid 7.6 percent RevPAR increase in 2014. In 2015, supply growth is expected to accelerate, resulting in decelerating occupancy growth. Still, industry-wide occupancy levels are expected to reach 64.8 percent in 2015, the highest since 1995, giving hotel operators more confidence to push for higher room rates.

The updated estimates from PwC are based on a quarterly econometric analysis of the lodging sector, using an updated forecast released by Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC in August and historical statistics supplied by Smith Travel Research and other data providers. Macroeconomic Advisers expects real gross domestic product ("GDP") to increase 2.0 percent in 2014, and accelerate to 3.1 percent growth in 2015, measured on a fourth-quarter-over-fourth-quarter basis.

Based on this analysis, PwC expects lodging demand in 2014 to increase 4.0 percent, which combined with still-restrained supply growth of 1.0 percent, is anticipated to boost occupancy levels to 64.1 percent. PwC’s outlook expects accelerating supply growth of 1.6 percent in 2015, as construction of new hotels gathers momentum (up over 50 percent in the second quarter, compared to the same quarter last year), with supply growth in the higher-priced chain scale segments outpacing growth in the lower-priced segments. Occupancy levels in the lower-priced chain scale segments are expected to approach or exceed prior peak levels, as price-driven compression from higher-priced hotels drives demand to lower priced hotels.

"The strengthening of the group segment thus far in 2014 and a strong summer travel season across all price points is encouraging for future occupancy levels and continued industry growth,” said Scott D. Berman, principal and U.S. industry leader, hospitality & leisure, PwC. “We will be closely monitoring the industry's third quarter results to evaluate any change in momentum.”

Get the full story at PWC US

Article location:

TravelClick predicts ‘hot’ winter for hotels

August 26, 2014

TravelClick's optimistic forecast is based in large part on a strong third quarter: Overall, U.S. hotels experienced a 4.7 percent, 4.5 percent, and 9.6 percent increase in ADR, reserved occupancy, and revenue per available room (RevPAR), respectively, in the third quarter.

For the group segment, specifically, ADR, reserved occupancy, and RevPAR grew 2.6 percent, 6.5 percent, and 9.4 percent, respectively, during the same period. For the transient business segment, they grew 4.9 percent, 4.8 percent, and 10.2 percent.

"While the summer months are typically known to be a strong leisure segment period, the business segment has also seen positive gains," Hatch continued. "This is indicative of a growing economy and it is a welcomed revenue stream for hoteliers in the U.S."

Get the full story at Successful Meetings

Read also "U.S. hotels experience strong growth in both leisure and business bookings"

Article location:

U.S. hotel leaders lament lack of rate growth

August 26, 2014

Last week STR revealed that July’s performance obliterated the past monthly record by 5 million room nights. Against that backdrop, several hotel executives spent Wednesday morning at the Southern Lodging Summit @ Memphis trying to figure out how the industry can better capitalize on such strong demand.

“The reality is there’s still a gun-shy approach to raising rates,” said Bill DeForrest, president of Chicago-based Spire Hospitality. “(Operators) do tend to look at the markets and think our customers are much more aware of our pricing transparency. We’ve got product they’re willing to pay for if we give them the right experience. To move four-and-a-half percent in a low inflation market is nice, but I think we can do better.”

STR, the parent company of Hotel News Now, reported average daily rates and demand increased 4.8% and 4.7%, respectively, during the month. Year-over-year revenue per available room jumped 8.8%. Moderator Isaac Collazo, VP of performance strategy & planning for InterContinental Hotels Group, called this “the best demand environment ever.”

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

Article location:

Mimicking the airlines, hotels get fee-happy

August 26, 2014

Guaranteeing two queen beds or one king bed will cost you, as will checking in early or checking out late. Don't need the in-room safe? You're likely still paying. And the overpriced can of soda may be the least of your issues with the hotel minibar.

Coming out of the recession, the travel industry grew fee-happy. Car rental companies charged extra for services such as electronic toll collection devices and navigation systems. And airlines gained notoriety for adding fees for checking luggage, picking seats in advance, skipping lines at security and boarding early. Hotel surcharges predate the recession, but recently properties have been catching up to the rest of the industry.

"The airlines have done a really nice job of making hotel fees and surcharges seem reasonable," says Bjorn Hanson, a professor at New York University's hospitality school.

This year, hotels will take in a record $2.25 billion in revenue from such add-ons, 6 percent more than in 2013 and nearly double that of a decade ago, according to a new study released Monday by Hanson. Nearly half of the increase can be attributed to new surcharges and hotels increasing the amounts of existing fees.

Get the full story at The Huffington Post

Article location:

Hotel marketers shared proven techniques to climb the rankings on TripAdvisor

August 26, 2014

“The number of reviews determines your popularity ranking, but the number of recent reviews is the really important part,” he said.

“You are only as good as your last review. … You have to earn your wings every day,” Gutman added.

Address the good, bad and ugly
The panelists agreed that staff, preferably the GM, should respond to negative reviews on TripAdvisor. But words without action are meaningless.

“For a lot of people when they talk about a review response, they mean the words that you’re putting online. … What we say there is very important, but it’s not nearly as important as what we do,” Gutman said.

Hoteliers should follow up, address the issue and do their best to make sure it doesn’t happen again, panelists said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

Article location:

Expedia Offers shoulder season tips for hotel marketers

August 26, 2014

"I saw an opportunity to increase our room revenue and length of stay through our OTA partner, Expedia," said Molgora. "After reviewing the possibilities, we determined that we could build a base by offering tiered discount promotions and activating our package deals. This resulted in amazing production and growth in our package business. (Up 284 percent YOY) We've picked up an additional 5300 room nights, and our total occupancy has increased by 93 percent."

Think Global
Summer is peak U.S. travel season for Europeans using their extensive vacation time and South Americans who are in the middle of their winter season and don't mind the heat. (For example, in July 2013, there were nearly 50 percent more French visitors to the U.S. than the yearly average, according to OTTI data) Using that basic premise, one South Beach hotel employed a simple, targeted sale strategy to boost business.

Be Mobile
The Catalina Hotel and Beach Club employed a mobile-only strategy to boost needed midweek business in hopes of turning nearby bargain hunters into regulars.

Get the full story at Hotel Interactive

Article location:

Dusit partners ReviewPro

August 26, 2014

“We decided to work with ReviewPro because it is an excellent online reputation management tool that meets our needs on both corporate and property levels,” said David Shackleton, Chief Operating Officer, Dusit International. “We look forward to using ReviewPro’s analytics to harness guest insights and prioritize action, to strengthen our engagement with customers and to leverage these insights to continue improving our guest experience and revenue.”

At the heart of ReviewPro’s analytics is the Global Review Index, an online guest satisfaction benchmark for individual hotels or groups of hotels, which is based on data taken from all major online travel agencies and review sites. It can be used to analyze a hotel or group of hotels and make comparisons between them.

Michael Chin, Regional Vice President of ReviewPro in the Asia Pacific region, said, “We are proud to partner with a successful global brand such as Dusit International. Features like our Global Review Index will assist in identifying their current guest satisfaction needs and areas that call for improvement. Sentiment analysis of online reviews will also pinpoint specific strengths and weaknesses of separate areas, enabling the brand to better customize their guest experience.”

Related Link: ReviewPro

Article location:

SiteMinder and AjonTech executives elected first co-chairs of HTNG’s Software Resource Team

August 26, 2014

Having led all votes, the co-chairs of the newly-established Software Resource Team are David Chestler, Executive Vice President – Global Enterprise Sales & Business Development at SiteMinder, and John Bell, Founder and President of AjonTech LLC.

Both offer more than thirty years' experience in the hospitality industry. Chestler is a renowned figure, having served in various senior roles, including at BirchStreet Systems, Pegasus Solutions, Visual Data Corp and, most recently, Sceptre Hospitality Resources. Today, he plays a key role in the global development of SiteMinder, a company continually driven to positively disrupt the industry through its leading online distribution and direct booking technology.

Bell founded Ajontech LLC after 35 years in the IT Industry and 12 years at Marriott where he served as the Enterprise Architect. He created the architectures for many of the hotel giant's systems – including its website, and mobile and services-oriented infrastructure. In 2012, he helped to create a secure payment framework for the hotel industry. Bell is the co/author of several software development books and is also an Associate Professor for the Center of Applied Information Technology at Towson University. In addition to HTNG's Software Resource Team, he co-chairs the HTNG Secure Payments Framework working group and SOA Reference Architecture working groups for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Open Group.

Douglas Rice, Executive Vice President & CEO at HTNG, says the two appointments are testament to Chestler and Bell's demonstrated leadership within the hotel technology space.

"Chestler and Bell have a strong track record of developing solutions to increasingly complex technology challenges – and, importantly, embody tremendous passion and knowledge of our industry. They each bring impressive credentials with regards to innovation in the hotel technology space and we are delighted to have them lead this initiative for us," says Rice.

Established in 2014 and operating within HTNG's Software Forum, the Software Resource Team will be a place for HTNG members to explore new technologies, to debate the potential use of a technology or approach in the hospitality industry and to research open questions. Deliverables – to be led by Chestler and Bell – will include educational webinars, industry frameworks, best practice documents and the creation of new software workgroups to support paradigm shifts such as cloud computing, mobile devices, and geolocationing.

Related Link: SiteMinder

Article location:

Millennials are reshaping India’s travel industry

August 25, 2014

No longer is the typical hotel customer a middle-aged executive clad in a pin-stripped suit. Instead, he is a blue-jeans wearing executive with an informal and casual air, most likely to be in his thirties. With over 150 million Indians belonging to the Millennial category (born between 1980-2000), it's a coveted catch for the hotel industry.

This category also has a very large number of female professionals, like Gupta. Women account for 41.6 percent of those enrolled in higher education and are entering the professional hierarchy in a big way. Further, they already account for an estimated 30 percent of the economically active workforce and nearly 25 percent of domestic business travelers.

"Self-assured, optimistic, globally connected and curious, the Millenials are poised to take the hotel industry by storm," Ernst &Young said in a 2014 report on Global Hospitality.

Get the full story at CNBC

Read also "Meet the key growth leaders of Indian e-commerce" at The Times of India

Article location:

How Hyatt leverages Uber to ease travel for guests

August 25, 2014

Hyatt Hotels is integrating its mobile application with the Uber ride-service app to make it easier for guests to get from their current location to their Hyatt hotel.

By using the Uber button located under the My Reservations section of the Hyatt app from the day of check-in until the end of their stay, guests can use available Uber transportation and receive information about the estimated price of the trip for each option. The update shows how hotels are responding to guests’ demands for experiences that integrate mobile functionality and hotel service.

“Hyatt is continually evolving its digital and physical experiences by listening to guests to better understand their needs,” said Ellen Lee, vice presiden of ecommerce at Hyatt. “We continue to hear that guests seek seamlessness, and this feedback drove the redesign of Hyatt’s mobile site as well as our new iOS and Android apps.

“The new feature is just one way we’re taking steps out of the process, making it easier for guests to get from their destination to their Hyatt hotel during their stay,” she said.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

Article location:

How Aloft targets millenials

August 25, 2014

Aloft places a focus on:

- Design. In addition to contemporary lobbies, guestrooms are streamlined, featuring platform beds and walk-in showers with rainfall heads.

- Technology. Free and fast Wi-Fi was just a start. The brand pioneered front-desk-free check-in for holders of its Starwood Preferred Guests card, using radio frequency to unlock doors. This year it launched keyless check-in in some locations, using smartphone Bluetooth technology.

- Wellness. In addition to well-equipped gyms, most locations have pools.

- Convenience. Grab-and-go delis offer 24-hour food options that change throughout the day.

- Diversions. Lobbies feature pool tables, tabletop shuffleboards and board games. Bars, which open when the workday ends, have proved so popular that management is adding food selections such as pizza.

Get the full story at Entrepreneur

Article location:

Group business is back but changing

August 25, 2014

Hotel executives speaking during the 6th annual Hotel Data Conference described a number of changes in the dynamics of the group travel market.

“We’ve seen some substantial shifts in the market,” Michael Dominguez, senior VP of corporate sales for MGM Resorts International said. “Meetings are about a half-day shorter than they were, and if you look at the breadth of the hotel industry that’s a lot of roomnights. Meetings are ending at noon or 1 o’clock instead of 5 p.m. so attendees can get home the same day instead of spending another night in a hotel.”

As meetings business grows, especially from smaller groups, hotel space utilization management has become more important, said Kate Keisling, lead consultant at IDeaS Revenue Solutions. “Meeting planner management has become very important for hotels,” she said. “It’s critical to know what the planner really needs in terms of space versus what they’re telling you they need.”

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

Article location:

Restaurant discovery service Zomato eats its way into Europe

August 25, 2014

Zomato, the restaurant search and discovery service that’s raised a whopping $55 million in VC, is making good on its promise to continue expanding to more countries beyond its origins in India. The 2008-founded company - which counts Yelp, IAC-owned Urbanspoon, Priceline-acquired OpenTable, and TripAdvisor as competitors - is adding a presence in Central and Eastern Europe by means of two local acquisitions.

It’s gobbled up the Czech Republic’s and Slovakia’s - the leading restaurant guides in their respective countries, according to Zomato - for a combined $3.25 million. This follows the acquisition of New Zealand-based restaurant search service MenuMania in July and means the service is now available in various cities in 15 countries, with the startup targeting a further ten or so in the coming months.

Zomato co-founder Pankaj Chaddah tells me this will include, Poland, Ireland, Malaysia, Vietnam, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait and Canada — with the U.S. notably still missing in action.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

Article location:

Social media management for restaurants

August 25, 2014

Over 30% check the menus from their smartphones before they go. And the biggie: over two-thirds of them take social media conversations about a restaurant into consideration when they are deciding where to eat.

And Millennials eat in large groups more than any other demographic group, and the point becomes pretty obvious: restaurants need to be doing social media well. Why the emphasis on Millennials? If it isn’t obvious, they’re going to be around a lot longer than Gen X or the Boomers, and they are quickly becoming the primary spending power in the world. It’s time to find out how to slice a bigger piece of the pie from them.

Get the full story at Business 2 Community

Article location:

Independent vs chain: Which performs better?

August 25, 2014

According to Lindsay Culbreath, senior director of business development and marketing for STR, midscale independents have a higher occupancy and a revenue per available room premium over midscale chain properties. What's more, their premium continues to grow - what started off as a $14 premium (in 2007) has grown to $19.

For the purpose of her presentation, Culbreath focused on luxury independents and looked at three specific markets: Miami, New York City and Boston.

Luxury independents outperformed the luxury chain properties in all three markets, she said. Miami is a slightly different animal, as it has more luxury independent properties than New York City and Boston. Sixty-five percent of hotels in New York City and Boston are branded, while 35% are independent, according to Culbreath. New York City luxury independents are unable to compete with chains when it comes to occupancy, she said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

Article location:

Hotels ‘more open’ to franchising

August 25, 2014

“We’re far more open to franchising than we used to be. We no longer approach the marketing of a hotel as a choice between having to manage versus agreeing to franchise. We’ve become much more agnostic,” said Silverman, Marriott’s CDO for North America, full-service hotels.

“We’ve come to fully embrace the idea that franchisees can operate our hotels effectively. There’s such a wealth of talented owners who are managing hotels as franchisees,” said Fortier, Hilton’s SVP for development in the Americas.

The change in mindset seemed to dovetail with the move of the traditional franchise brands into urban markets, according to Kakarla, HMM president & CEO. “Once the hotel companies started allowing urban franchising, the door was open to franchising other brands in the portfolio, including the lifestyle brands favored by the up-and-coming Millennial generation,” he said.

Get the full story at Hotel Management

Article location:

How hotel marketers embrace consumer diversity on mobile

August 22, 2014

What is important to note is that while these new bookings are increasing, they illustrate unique characteristics and behaviors which differ from traditional web bookings. In order to capitalize on this opportunity, it may be time for many to adapt their existing e-commerce strategy to appropriately respond to the different and ever-changing mobile behaviors.

Firstly, same day reservations are growing from 9% to 23% as users are becoming more comfortable with their mobile devices and are leveraging them to book more frequently than with their desktops*. They are waiting until the last minute to book and often times are already at their destination before they even have their accommodations booked. Last minute bookers may be incentivized by mobile deals or last minute offers that are available on mobile only. Without the ability to create last minute deals such as mobile specific rate plans or discounts, it is difficult for hoteliers to directly target these last minute shoppers and these potential guests will go elsewhere or find alternative accommodations.

Secondly, users continue to utilize an ever-growing and changing variety of mobile devices. Tablets account for approximately 20% of all booking engine visits and among the top 10 most popular devices globally, screen resolutions vary by over 300%*. This demonstrates that hoteliers need flexible mobile solutions to account for the diversity so they can provide both a competitive and robust mobile booking experience. Furthermore, the mix of devices is continuously changing and thus solutions need to be scalable and compatible across platforms to ensure hoteliers are prepared for growth. Figure 2 below illustrates how the global mobile landscape is subject to substantial shifts over a short timeframe.

Get the full story at TravelClick

Article location:

Young Asian travelers’ dream destinations revealed

August 22, 2014

The rapid emergence of Asian economies and the accompanying boom in travel has attracted the attention of the global travel and tourism community, as well as countless others. In recent years the sheer number of outbound travellers from Asian countries combined with their well-documented spending power has made an impact beyond Asia and the Pacific region, as destinations in all other regions race to understand the Asian traveller and adapt their products and services accordingly.

The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller, released today by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), explains how and why it is predominantly young people that are fuelling this growth, looking to explore the world beyond their country's borders. In line with PATA's 'Next Gen' strategy, the report is intended to help tourism industry professionals around the world to understand the importance of engaging with young people, both as consumers and employees in the travel and tourism industry, and to give them an understanding of the power of the young Asian traveller to shape global travel and tourism in the years to come.

Nearly 3,000 travellers between the ages of 15-34 participated in an online survey distributed across 13 countries in Northeast and Southeast Asia including China, Korea (ROK), Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia. Among the findings readers can discover:

- Why youth travel does not always mean 'budget travel' in Asia
- What the leap to mobile technology will mean for travel providers across the region

- How low cost carriers have capitalised so successfully on the youth market across the region
- Why the most sophisticated tourism boards look to attract students as well as leisure travellers

- Who exerts the biggest influence on young Asians' travel decisions
- Why it is important to start reaching the next generation of your brand's consumers today

PATA CEO Martin J. Craigs said, "This report highlights very effectively why Asia's top destinations and tourism brands need to sit up and take notice of young consumers and their travel tastes. Today's young travellers will very quickly become business and family travellers, so it is important to show them your trust and loyalty from a very early stage. At PATA we like to lead by example, nurturing talent for the future and putting youth at the heart of our efforts in Human Capital Development, and it is certainly paying off for us".

The report features contributions from Aloft Bangkok, Bangkok Vanguards, Bnbhero, Digital Innovation Asia, Flip'n Travels, Korea Tourism Organization, Lagisatu, PhoCusWright, Qunar, South East Asia Backpacker, Taylor's University, Tourism Australia, TripAdvisor, and Trippiece.

PATA would also like to thank the following National Tourism Organizations for their cooperation: Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources, Brunei Darussalam; Ministry of Tourism and the Creative Economy, Indonesia; Japan National Tourism Organization; Korea Tourism Organization; Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia; Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, Myanmar; and Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Purchas "The Rise of the Young Asian Traveller" at PATA. A brief summary of the report can be viewed at FlipSnack

Article location:

The state of travel startups

August 22, 2014

Travel really isn’t an industry so much as an umbrella term housing a range of industries. This includes everything from big global airlines and hotel brands to online travel agencies, mom-and-pop tour operators, and the growing ranks of sharing economy participants listing homes on Airbnb and HomeAway, or offering local experiences through services like Vayable and EatWith. We sought to identify areas within travel that are generating the most significant interest from investors and entrepreneurs. So we undertook the painstaking task of manually reviewing and tagging each startup in two ways:

Vertical segment: the travel segment in which the startup operates (e.g., air, lodging, cruise, etc.).

Horizontal focus: the technology, medium or business area on which the company’s activity is centered (e.g., search, booking, advertising, peer-to-peer, etc.).

Not surprisingly, lodging rules. Lodging is the largest global travel industry segment (if you include all forms of lodging), and its relatively large margins drive the majority of industry profits for online agencies and other intermediaries. The 243 lodging-focused travel startups established between 2005 and 2013 collectively raised nearly $1.2 billion.

Get the full story at WIT

Article location:

Hotels should make tablets more accessible during on-site experience

August 22, 2014

Many hotel brands are leveraging tablets in useful ways to enhance the guest experience.

From digital lecterns to immersive apps that compel repeated interaction, tablets have broad application for hotel brands, which tend to be more user-friendly than smaller devices. Also, mobile booking is changing how many brands bring consumers to their properties in the first place.

“iPads and other such technology are fantastic additions to a hotel’s customer service arsenal, but in no way can they completely replace the personal element,” said Taylor Rains, Charleston-based luxury brand consultant.

“There’s an interesting dichotomy among luxury hotel guests,” he said. “While all expect a highly-tailored guest experience, some would rather automate the process while other consider staff interaction to be indicative of a property’s attentiveness to their needs.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

Article location:

United, TripAdvisor, Hyatt add Uber booking to their mobile apps

August 22, 2014

United Airlines says it's the first airline to offer passengers the Uber booking option on its app. For a limited time, the airline will reward United app users with 1,000 award miles in its MileagePlus program for using Uber, a statement says.

TripAdvisor also announced that its app and mobile site would feature a "Ride there with Uber" button that estimates car fees for users browsing restaurants and entertainment sites and allow them to make a reservation too.

"Instead of having to exit the TripAdvisor app, run the Uber app and enter the destination address, your Uber is on its way with just a tap, ready to whisk you off to the venue you were looking at," Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer, says in a statement. (The feature debuts in English and Italian on TripAdvisor, with more languages on the way.)

Get the full story at the Los Angeles Times

Article location: using’s white label services to power its Italian website

August 22, 2014

Each solution is made specifically for an individual chain and takes up an entire web domain owned by that chain.

How deep a hotel chain wants to get in with is a key question in all this - hotels have a delicate balancing act to tackle, as they look to increase direct bookings but also know that the is a large distribution network (frenemies in action, perhaps).

But, as one element of the new white label illustrates, having the machine behind it to actively market the hotel or chain in paid search is quite an inducement.

Get the full story at Tnooz and Tim Peter & Associates

Article location:

The smart hotelier’s guide to 2015 digital marketing budget planning

August 22, 2014

This article outlines how to structure your budget so that you can shift more bookings to the direct online channel, better utilize your marketing dollars by increasing campaign effectiveness, and generate the highest returns possible from your property website and digital marketing initiatives. We recommend that hoteliers frame their digital marketing plan within two main categories:

- Direct Response Digital Marketing Campaigns, including both Year-Round and Seasonal & Business-Need Focused initiatives, and

- Digital Assets, Website Revenue Optimization Consulting + Strategy and Operations

This straightforward approach seamlessly covers all the digital marketing, technology and asset management line items that hospitality marketers need to maximize direct online revenues, address specific property business needs throughout the year, and meet all of your property’s website design, consulting and technology needs. The article also covers:

- Important factors impacting our industry
- How much hoteliers should be spending on digital marketing
- Recommendations on what percentage of the budget should be spent for each marketing initiative
- Snapshot of a 2015 Digital Marketing Budget
- Case studies to support budgeting recommendations

Get the full story at HeBS Digital or download the complete whitepaper here (PDF 3.1 MB)

Article location:

U.S. hotels experience strong growth in both leisure and business bookings

August 22, 2014

“While summer may be coming to an end, the hotel market has a ‘hot outlook’ for the winter months,” said John Hach, Senior Vice President, Global Product Management of TravelClick. “According to TravelClick’s data, hotels will continue to see healthy gains in demand and average daily rates (ADR) across all segments into the New Year.”

12 Month Outlook (August 2014 – July 2015)

For the next 12 months (August 2014 – July 2015), overall committed occupancy* is up 3.7 percent when compared to the same time last year. ADR is up 4.6 percent based on reservations currently on the books.

Transient bookings are up 4.3 percent year-over-year and ADR for this segment is up 5.4 percent. When broken down further, the transient leisure (discount, qualified and wholesale) segment is showing occupancy gains of 4.0 percent and ADR gains of 5.7 percent. Transient business (negotiated and retail) segment occupancy and ADR are both up 5.0 percent. Group segment occupancy is ahead by 3.2 percent and ADR is up 2.2 percent, compared to the same time last year.

Get the full story at TravelClick

Article location:

The rising costs of hotel guest acquisition

August 21, 2014

The Hospitality Asset Managers Association ("HAMA") announced the results of a multi-year study that demonstrates that revenue acquisition costs outpaced hotel revenue growth from 2009 through 2012. The results were presented in "The Rising Costs of Customer Acquisition," a white paper commissioned in late 2013.

The white paper addresses an analysis of the financial results of more than 100 upper upscale and luxury hotels with brand affiliations. It specifically looks at both the external costs of brand allocations (for marketing, advertising, major promotions, national and global sales offices and loyalty programs) and third party commissions (for group and transient bookings), as well as the internal costs of marketing and sales programs, including local marketing, sales staffing and other expenses, including reservations staff.

"It is critical for us to understand and control external costs, including the cost of customer acquisition." said Ruby Huang, HAMA's president. "Hoteliers need to be fully cognizant of ever increasing costs so that they can make intelligent decisions in how to deal with them."

"This study grew from our board's commitment to sponsor an independent review of the costs owners are incurring to attract and retain customers," said Dave Hogin, HAMA's vice president. "While many of us felt that costs were increasing at a pace out of step with revenue growth, we wanted a more in-depth look than any of our members could do individually."

The study focused on 104 upper upscale and luxury managed properties with brand affiliations in the U.S. and Canada. From 2009 to 2012, the room revenue of this group increased by 23 percent, almost seven percent compounded annually. The cost of customer acquisition from 2009 through 2012 grew almost as quickly as revenue, at just under 23 percent.

The white paper addresses the following topics:

- 2009-2012 Cost Increases Compared to Revenue Growth: While total customer acquisition costs rose by 23 percent, brand allocations grew by 37 percent and third-party commissions by 34 percent, while local property marketing (including property specific Internet and paid search) increased by only six percent, or less than two percent per year.

- The Changing Marketing Mix: As a result of the disproportionate growth of external marketing and sales costs, properties now control less of their marketing spend. (44 percent versus 49 percent in 2009).

- Commission Cost Growth Differed Widely by Brand: For the top 10 brands included in this study, cost increases during the three years ranged from a low of 10 percent to a high of 72 percent.

- Franchised Properties Fared Even Worse: Room revenue of franchised properties grew by just under 22 percent during the 2009-2012 time frame, but their total acquisition costs rose by almost 27 percent, driven by increases in commissions of 48 percent and brand allocations of 36 percent and mitigated by on-property spend of only 15 percent.

"The travel industry has been undergoing enormous changes over the past 10 years driven by a combination of technology, a global recession and the changing nature of global business," said study author Frank Camacho, a senior travel industry executive and consultant. "Owners should be examining the long term relationships they have to ensure that they still produce economic benefits. If not, they need to consider this when choosing partners and negotiating new agreements.

"Implicit in the findings of this study is the conclusion that channel mix has a substantial impact both on revenue growth and its profitability. If rising brand costs are unavoidable in the near term, then effective channel optimization becomes even more critical," Camacho added.

Related Link: Hospitality Assets Managers Association

Download "HAMA's Sales & Marketing Efficiency Study" presentation (Powerpoint 10.7 MB)

Read also "Study: At upscale hotels, guest acquisition costs are devouring room revenue growth" at Tnooz and "How intermediaries drive up your hotel's costs: 5 ways to protect yourself" at Tim Peter & Associates

Article location:

You like a hotel, it likes you back

August 21, 2014

With hotel listings in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and more cities on the way, Hotelied is perhaps the most ambitious addition to the growing number of opportunities targeting travelers with social network followings.

In 2011 the Radisson Blu Edwardian brand gave guests of its Manchester and London hotels late checkouts if they checked in on Facebook or Foursquare. Last year American Airlines offered one-day lounge passes to travelers with a score of 55 or higher on, which measures people’s digital influence (the average score is around 40). This summer, InterContinental Hotels Group asked travelers to use Instagram and hashtags to try to win a trip to New York City.

And the perks continue to proliferate. With social media now as much a part of the vacation experience as sunscreen, freebies and discounts are also being offered through networks such as Instagram and Pinterest. The more followers you have, the more robust your social media presence, the more alluring you are to hospitality brands.

Get the full story at The New York Times

Article location:

Ritz-Carlton’s big announcement and the luxury-mobile paradox

August 21, 2014

While some smaller five stars have made at least the partial leap, the dominant sentiment is the one that Christopher Hunsberger, EVP of Global Products and Innovation for Four Seasons Hotels And Resorts candidly shared. “We [at Four Seasons] usually don’t try to be first” with these types of initiatives; “we’re…studying, watching, and seeing what happens with others…when we do bring our mobile app to market, we [hope to have] learned from mistakes that others have made.”

But today a luxury brand, the 86-property Ritz-Carlton Hotels And Resorts, has announced that it’s willing to be first out of the gate in mobilizing, so to speak, the luxury experience for its guests.

Ritz-Carlton is rolling out mobile poolside ordering, mobile room service, app-based service requests (replacing that toothbrush you accidentally discarded, the extra washcloth, soaps, shoeshine touch-up you need before dinner), real-time device-agnostic folio review, mobile check-in, mobile check-out, and a nifty little “sharing the experience/sharing the memories” feature.

This article looks at some of these features, as well as how (and if) they fit into the magic trick that is a luxury hotel at its best.

Get the full story at Forbes

Read also "The Ritz-Carlton fine-tunes app to guide consumer experience"

Article location:

The next Internet monopoly: Uber, the transportation network

August 21, 2014

By design, the Internet trends towards monopoly: There’s one major social network (Facebook), search engine (Google), encyclopedia (Wikipedia) business network (LinkedIn), classified-ads website (Craigslist), retail site (Amazon), auction site (eBay), and micro-blogging service (Twitter).

This week, Uber took an important step toward creating a new monopoly with a software feature (API) that allows anyone to use its services to bring any item from point A to point B, whether it’s a person in a taxi or a maid with a raft of cleaning supplies.

On top of that, Uber also announced a pilot program for what it calls Uber Corner Store, a service that would allow Uber users in the Washington D.C. area to get staple items like toothpaste and bandages delivered from local stores.

Transportation may very well be the next big monopoly, and Uber has set its sight on winning the crown. Uber has raised five times more funding that the second-place opponent, Lyft.

Get the full story at VentureBeat and Wired

Read also "Uber hires former Obama adviser to wage regulatory battles" at Travel Weekly and "Why Google’s Eric Schmidt calls Uber’s new political mastermind a ‘game-changer’" at VentureBeat

Article location:

Is advertising really the Web’s ‘original sin’?

August 21, 2014

The internet spies at us at every twist and turn not because Zuckerberg, Brin, and Page are scheming, sinister masterminds, but due to good intentions gone awry.

Advertising became the default business model on the web, “the entire economic foundation of our industry,” because it was the easiest model for a web startup to implement, and the easiest to market to investors. Web startups could contract their revenue growth to an ad network and focus on building an audience. If revenues were insufficient to cover the costs of providing the content or service, it didn't matter - what mattered was audience growth, as a site with tens of millions of loyal users would surely find a way to generate revenue.

There are businesses that make money from advertising, like Yahoo and Gawker. But most businesses use advertising in a different way. Their revenue source is investor storytime.

Get the full story at The Atlantic

Read the reaction of the media industry on the article at Digiday

Article location:

How Google has changed management, 10 years after its IPO

August 21, 2014

Google went public 10 years ago today, and since then has dramatically changed the way the world accesses information. It has also helped shape the practice of management. Staying true to its roots as an engineering-centric company, Google has stood out both for its early skepticism of the value of managers as well as for its novel, often quantitative approaches to management decisions. Along the way it became famous for its reliance on exceedingly difficult interview questions - later abandoned - and its “20% time” policy - reportedly on its way out.

How Google innovates

Bala Iyer and Tom Davenport attempted to “reverse engineer” Google’s innovation machine in 2008. The first step to innovating like Google, they argue, is patience. Not just a long-term outlook, but the investment that goes with it to set up the infrastructure - technical and managerial - that makes innovation possible. From there, the authors offer advice including building innovation into job descriptions, and trusting users to inform product strategy.

Get the full story at Harvard Business Review

Read also "Google’s Singhal reflects on the top search milestones since 2004" at Search Engine Watch

Article location:

The ‘thriving five’ hotel brands

August 21, 2014

Many hotel brands are devoted to providing their guests with a great experience. However, according to the Market Metrix Hospitality Index (MMHI), there are five hotel brands that outpace the competition. Maintaining the top scores for the past four consecutive quarters, Kimpton Hotels, Drury Hotels, Hyatt House, the Ritz-Carlton, and Hyatt Place consistently set the standard for customer satisfaction.

With a customer satisfaction score of 90, Kimpton achieved the highest mark for the most recent period, and continued to improve their score for the third quarter in a row. Their desire to engage guests on a deeper, more continuous level is supported by recent initiatives to strengthen the entire guest experience including a new loyalty program, ‘Kimpton Karma’, and ‘Life is Suite’ website redesign.

“This award and recognition belongs to all 8,600 Kimpton employees who make it their mission to take great care of our guests,” said Mike Depatie, president and CEO of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. “Their level of selflessness and empathy for our guests make them unique and special in any industry. I’m really pleased that our guests truly feel the love when staying at our properties. It makes doing what we love to do all the more gratifying.”

Get the full story at Market Metrix

Article location:

Why the hotel sector is booming

August 21, 2014

By the end of 2013, the industry's net profit margin exceeded 7 percent, compared to its negative 6.2 percent margin in 2009. While the rate of sales growth has dipped a bit for privately held companies, these businesses are still growing sales positively, and at a fairly consistent rate since the recession.

“In some ways, business owners would be happy to trade sales for profits, as hotels did in 2013,” says Sageworks analyst Kevin Abbas. “However, when the rate of growth begins to slide, it’s difficult to sustain high profit margins. We’ll be keeping our eyes on that growth metric in 2014.”

Hotels, B&Bs and others in the travel accommodation sector have seen significant financial improvement since the recession, when they hit rock-bottom in terms of profits and sales, says Sageworks analyst Libby Bierman.

Get the full story at

Article location:

Information, insights and innovation: Other industries’ effects on hotels

August 20, 2014

The following are 10 key takeaways from the panel:

1. Travel is ranked No. 1 among all United States’ industry exports. Just how big is the travel industry? According to the U.S. Travel Association’s David Huether, the travel industry generated $2.1 trillion in revenue during 2013. In addition, the U.S. travel industry collected $134 billion in direct tax revenue.

The hotel industry is a critical component to the travel industry, Huether said, adding that $167 billion (19%) of travel expenditures in 2013 came from hotels.

2. The U.S. Travel Association launched the “U.S. Travel Barometer,” which measures travel intent to the U.S. The forward-looking report is based on 30 billion global online lodging searches from 5,000 consumer travel websites (representing nearly 60% of all global hotel searches and conversions.)

The findings? Huether shared July data for domestic interest in hotels in the U.S., which showed Massachusetts, New York, California, Florida and Texas accounted for 52% of all hotel searches in the country. The U.S. Travel Barometer is in its early stages but could prove useful for hotels in the future, Huether said.

3. The check-in and check-out experience matters most when it comes to guest satisfaction, according to J.D. Power’s Richard Garlick.

“The first and last impression check-in/check-out contributed to the overall satisfaction the most,” he said, pointing to results from the 2014 “J.D. Power North America hotel study.”

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

Article location:

Orbitz lets users resume searches across devices

August 20, 2014

Online travel agencies were among the first Web businesses to feel the full impact of the consumer migration to mobile as customers began using their devices throughout the travel process from planning and booking to while traveling.

For Orbitz Worldwide, one of the companies at the forefront of that change, mobile has become a core part of its businesses, integrated closely with its broader digital marketing and e-commerce operations. On the back-end, Orbitz now has seven mobile development teams staffed by a total of 75 developers.

Speaking at MediaPost’s Mobile Insider Summit in Lake Tahoe on Tuesday, Megan Hughes, director of product, mobile at Orbitz, offered some insight into how the company is adapting to the mobile shift. She noted, for example, that a third of hotel bookings now take place via mobile - across its branded apps and mobile and tablet Web sites - compared to only 3% in 2010, when it began building out its mobile operations in earnest.

Among hotel bookings, 65% are same-day, compared to only about 15% on the desktop, providing further evidence that travel bookings in mobile skew toward last-minute purchases rather than ones made far in advance. Among customers who aren’t yet booking via mobile, 75% plan to do so soon, up 36% from last year, according to a recent Orbitz survey.

Get the full story at MediaPost

Article location:

Five considerations driving meetings bookings

August 20, 2014

Not by a long shot, according to results from STR’s 2013 Destination MAP, the most recent data available, which surveys meeting planners in the largest cities in the United States and Canada.

The above were among those cited least often by planners when asked to name considerations that were “very important” to geographic site selection. The top five least-important entries:

- destination’s greening policies/practices (named as “very important” by 10% of survey respondents);

- nightlife (13%);

- outdoor recreation opportunities (17%);

- good shopping (18%); and

- a good place to take family (19%).

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

Article location:

The Ritz-Carlton fine-tunes app to guide consumer experience

August 20, 2014

Travelers are increasingly demanding robust and reliable mobile apps for navigating hotel visits. The Ritz-Carlton sensed the importance of this demand a few years ago when it released the first version of its brand-wide app.

Naturally, the initial release would need adjustments. Rather than bolt new updates onto the app every time a new idea came up, the brand decided to study the user experience for an extended period of time.

With the insights gathered from this process, the brand intends to provide an app experience that is satisfying on a functional and emotional level.

The new app features enhanced check-in and check-out capabilities, real-time service requests and a review of bills. Service requests such as a shoeshine, turndown service or more fresh towels can be made through the app.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

Article location:

Is Facebook a waste of time for businesses?

August 20, 2014

So how do businesses find a solution to this? Is there a solution at all? First, we must understand the Facebook algorithm.

In August Facebook acknowledged that each user has, on average, 1,500 potential stories to view each time they log in. Now, the latest algorithm changes will prioritise just 300 posts per user. This algorithm is determined by three factors: affinity, meaning how much a user interacts with a page; weight, how valuable a post type is; and decay, or how long a post has been online.

Facebook’s goal is to deliver content that users care to read and reduce what may be deemed as ‘spammy’ or unrelatable. As a result, brand pages now reach under three per cent of Facebook users. Since Facebook’s changes are making it much harder for brands to obtain a wide reach, it’s not only imperative for businesses to acquire the initial likes; it’s vital they find a way to retain them.

Get the full story at The Sydney Morning Herald

Article location:

Study shows 99% of organic social posts create almost no engagement

August 20, 2014

As with marketing to the “long tail,” businesses that do moderately well with social posts could get great results, and companies should not be put off by the findings, says SocialFlow CEO Jim Anderson.

“The massive scale of the most successful one percent of posts makes everything else look small by comparison,” Anderson told me. “To use a television analogy, most every show’s ratings look weak if you compare them to the Super Bowl. But that doesn’t mean that everyone else should just give up on creating great programming. And the same is true with social.”

In Internet community analysis the “1 percent rule” is nothing new. That concept, however, is usually referred to when discussing content creation. The rule states that for any given community, 1 percent of the members actively create new content. You may have also heard of other variants, such as the “90–9–1 principle,” which comes up when you’re talking about wikis, forums, and other collaborative groups; 90 percent of community members read the content, 9 percent edit it, and 1 percent actively create it.

Get the full story at VentureBeat

Article location:

Travel industry taps technology to win over customers

August 20, 2014

For Bill Martin, the chief information officer (CIO) of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., his two teenage daughters provided the best corporate strategy lessons. In 2012, when he and his family went on a cruise, everybody turned off their phones and put them in an onboard safe.

Then last summer, on a California coast drive, his daughters kept taking photos on their cell phones and sharing them with friends using apps like Instagram and Snapchat.The big question he gets when choosing a family vacation spot is: “Will I have Internet there?” It’s clear - no vacation is complete without Internet access.

Martin took that message to Royal Caribbean’s top management. He explained that today’s younger generation - a growing market segment for cruise lines - wants to share vacation experiences in real time. What followed is hoped to be a game changer for the $8 billion (2013 revenues) company, which runs 41 cruise ships calling on 490 destinations across seven continents.

Read the complete whitepaper at Knowledge@Wharton (PDF 497 KB)

Article location:

Thomas Cook partners with TrustYou for hotel quality control

August 20, 2014

This monitors and responds to all online travel reviews written worldwide. Thomas Cook will use this to create independent summaries of all verified reviews across the web.

The results will be fed back to hotel partners to show them how they are performing in the eyes of the public.

Areas for improvement that can be immediately addressed by hoteliers will be identified and Thomas Cook says it will allow it to provide customers with the assurance of quality.

Get the full story at Travolution

Article location:

Version 2 of online travel will leave no business model unchanged

August 19, 2014

Abta chief Mark Tanzer has warned the industry faces a second online transformation which will leave no business model unchanged.

The association’s chief executive told Travel Weekly: “We’re entering Phase 2 of travel and the internet which is the real transformation. Phase 1 was based on choice and price comparison.

“But consumers don’t want lots of choice. Now the move is towards multi-platform – to online and offline rather than online versus offline – and travel is becoming more like a publishing business, with much more emphasis on peer reviews and personalised content.”

Tanzer said: “There are new consumer demands, there is big data and Google, and there is new airline capacity. I don’t think a single company can say it has a business model that is going to see it through the next 10 years.”

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

Article location:

‘Phablets’ will lead to explosion in mobile travel bookings

August 19, 2014

According to Travel Weekly's 2014 Consumer Trends survey, the percentage of travelers who have used a mobile device to purchase travel surged, from 23% in 2012 to 38% in 2014. "We're seeing such an acceleration of the shift from desktop shopping and booking to mobile devices," said Norm Rose, senior technology analyst for PhoCusWright and president of Travel Technology Consulting. "We're seeing laptops replaced by tablets. The tablets are going to be stronger for shopping and smartphones stronger for purchasing travel."

PhoCusWright's studies suggest that consumers are using their mobile devices more for shopping than for booking travel, Rose said. However, bookings are rising, with hotels and car rentals leading the way. Rose predicts that by the end of 2014, 50% of Americans will have booked some kind of travel product on a mobile device.

This includes on a new breed of mobile device that's a cross between a smartphone and a tablet - the "phablet" - hat Rose predicts will lead to an explosion in travel bookings.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

Article location:

‘Travel hacking’: Scam or strategy?

August 19, 2014

In travel hacking, there's plenty of "wrong" to go around. One popular hack is to use the "Dr." honorific from the pull-down menu when making a hotel reservation, regardless of your degree. Hotels are less likely to cancel an M.D.'s reservation, so a little fib can ensure a problem-free stay, hackers say. Similarly, you can save money on your airfare by using only part of your ticket, called "throwaway" ticketing.

These "hacks" address endemic industry problems. Hotels shouldn't arbitrarily cancel their reservations without assisting guests. But they do. Airfares should be sensibly priced, and the only reason throwaway ticketing works is that a round-trip airline ticket almost always costs less than a one-way flight.

"There's a lot of deep-seated resentment and anger on the part of consumers toward travel suppliers," says Tim Winship, editor of "The feeling is, 'Well, you're in business to nickel-and-dime me to death, and by God, if there's anything I can do to stick it to you, I will.'"

Get the full story at USA Today

Article location:

Uber back online in Berlin and Hamburg

August 19, 2014

The ruling said Uber can continue its business in Berlin and follows a similar suspension granted recently in the city of Hamburg.

Fabien Nestmann, Uber GM for Germany said in a statement:

“This is good news for the great people of Berlin and the thousands of German citizens already benefitting from Uber’s great services. We’re delighted to continue to bring our fresh and new ride-sharing service UberPOP plus our licensed limo service, UberBlack to Berlin and other cities in Germany, as we challenge the old policies that were written before the smartphone was even invented. Uber’s number one priority is safety and we would like to underline that every driver on the Uber platform is insured. Today’s news supports freedom of choice and progress, as Uber seeks to bring better, safer and cheaper transport options to everyone.”

Get the full story at TechCrunch

Read also "Uber flouts Berlin ban, despite massive fines for non-compliance"

Article location:

Google testing carousel replacement with new hotel ad format

August 19, 2014

Most of the new results are in place of the carousel and the result mirrors exactly what is currently shown in mobile.

Will Google change away from the carousel? Mike Blumenthal believes Google might move towards this new display. The company has been on a toot to “clean up” the visuals on the main search result page (fewer packs, no author photos, fewer video and review snippets) and this change fits that mold.

Get the full story at Understanding Google Places & Local Search

Moz reports that Google is testing a new, much richer hotel and resort ad box. However, Moz noted that Google does a lot of testing in hotel and travel, so it's unclear if this feature will see the light of day.

Get the full story at Moz

Article location:

Google can now track when your online clicks lead to phone calls

August 19, 2014

Today Google announced the availability of this new feature on its Google Adwords service. “Website call conversions dynamically inserts a Google forwarding number on your website that measures the calls made by these customers,” AdWords product manager Anurag Agrawal wrote in a blog post on the new tool.

“Whether they click on the number or dial it directly from their phone, you can attribute the call conversion and conversion value back to the keyword and ad that drove the customer.”

The move makes plenty of sense, as so much of Google’s revenue comes from ads. Google wants to provide better visibility into the power and effectiveness of ads. Exploration of websites and then calling after clicking an ad is a very real process that Google really ought to be able to track.

Get the full story at VentureBeat

Article location:

What you can learn from Airbnb’s new logo backlash

August 19, 2014

Within minutes of the launch of Airbnb's new logo, customers and journalists alike begin comparing the new mark to everything from grizzly bears to female anatomy. And while Airbnb certainly got a lot of press, its response was a first rate example of clever damage control and coolheaded restraint.

It took to Twitter in real-time to acknowledge people's observations and join in on the fun. In response to the tweet, "The new @Airbnb logo looks like a weird butt," Airbnb replied lightheartedly, "We prefer well-rounded." It took to the media outlets with a few select statements suggesting, more than anything else, that it believed in the new brand and was standing steadfastly behind it.

The most brilliant thing Airbnb did was a week or two after launch, once things had cooled down a bit. It produced "The Bélo Report: an infographic on the new Airbnb symbol." Not only was this "report" a beautiful, shareable JPG that just begged to be read, but it once again took control of the story Airbnb wanted to tell. It was witty and passionate.

Get the full story at iMedia Connection

Article location:

Give me light, or give me a new hotel room

August 19, 2014

According to a Cornell Center for Hospitality Research report titled “Creating value for women business travelers: Focusing on emotional outcomes,” hotel companies to remain competitive must develop and focus their services to meet the needs and preferences of women business travelers.

For example, Hyatt Hotels Corporation recently introduced special programs for women as a result of the company’s own research and focus groups. Hyatt found women want the following from their hotels:

- assurances their guestrooms have been cleaned and an ongoing dialogue with the hotel to provide feedback;
- an easy way to obtain items forgotten at home;
- to maintain their health and well-being on the road; and
- high-quality bath products.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

Article location:

Expedia shows off its new tablet and wearable apps

August 18, 2014

The app focuses on striking, large scenic visuals - “sensuality” as Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said at a launch event in San Francisco. The home screen of the new tablet app is a map with themed “collections” of cities: Cities that never sleep, romantic getaways, upcoming festivals.

“Travel is a sensual experience and travel planning is about as industrial an experience as you can get,” Khosrowshahi said. “We wanted to create an experience that befits travel.”

Along with the tablet app – due out this fall — Expedia also showed off its new Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch app. Anyone with the watch can get push notifications around a trip such as reminders to leave for the airport and notification if their flight gate changed.

Get the full story at GigaOM

Article location:

Sabre puts up for sale

August 18, 2014

Set up by Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox, was among the most successful UK start-ups of the boom of the 1990s.

The company floated on the London stock market in March 2000 and saw its share price peak at 555p before the bubble burst. Lastminute stock subsequently traded as low as 17p in 2002.

The OTA's UK managing director Mark Maddock left the company in April and joined Thomas Cook last month.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

Article location:

Google Now offers flight alternatives for delayed or cancelled flights

August 18, 2014

You’re just a few hours away from your flight to London, when suddenly, you received a notification that it has been cancelled. What do you do next? You are in a strange place and you don’t know anyone but would like to visit some landmarks or tourist spots. Who do you ask? Normally you would just google those information, but Google Now’s new updates allows you to eliminate a few steps in the process and brings you the info you need through its cards.

When a flight is delayed or cancelled and you absolutely still have to get to your destination, Google Now suggests alternative flights. Previously, it had the ability to scan your email for your flight details and gives you information the nearer your flight gets. So if it gets cancelled or delayed, it can suggest alternate routes or flights from other airlines that will eventually get you where you need to go.

Meanwhile, Google has finally baked its Field Trip app into Google Now. Launched back in 2012, the separate app had the capability to give dining recommendations, historical information and trivia about the place you’re in, based on the user’s geo-location.

Get the full story at The Android Community and Engadget

Article location:

Airbnb’s Chip Conley talks hospitality

August 18, 2014

The Joie de Vivre hotels are diverse. How are you taking that experience into your current role at Airbnb? What we’re seeing in all industries is people trying to figure out how to be more hospitable, obviously in hotels, but also retail. Apple rethought the computer retail experience by looking at the Ritz Carlton. Hospitality is sort of at the heart of what any consumer-facing company wants to provide. I am fascinated at Airbnb, as part of my role there is to democratize the business of hospitality. We have 850,000 listings, 500,000 hosts in190 countries. The reason I wanted to do that is the more we can spread hospitality in the world, the less we need the United Nations — 70 percent of guests who stay at Airbnb listings are international visitors. The more we treat each other with what I define hospitality as — a generosity of spirit — it’s the best way to imagine a world that’s safer, saner and a lot happier.

How do you want to accomplish that? Tuesday I was in Portland. Portland is a model city for Airbnb, so we’re doing things to get into the community. The Portland City Council approved home sharing in single-family homes as a first step. So I met with about 60 hosts up there, and to sit and teach hosts about the art of hospitality reminds me of why I got into hospitality in the first place.

Get the full story at the San Francisco Business Times

Article location:

25% of US Hispanics book travel via mobile

August 18, 2014

The findings, announced at the 30th annual National Association of Hispanic Journalists convention in San Antonio, TX, underscore the importance of brands catering to mobile-savvy Hispanics’ needs and habits.

“Yankee Group data does validate these findings that some ethnicities do have a higher usage – anywhere from a five to 10 percent differential – of on-the-go technologies such as using phones while shopping, desires for mobile rewards and a strong demand for self-service,” said Sheryl Kingstone, research director of Boston-based Yankee Group.

“However, it’s important to not look at traditional demographics, but user behavior. Our research shows there is a significant difference between Advanced Users vs. an average user,” she said. “More advanced users will be 30 to 40 points higher in mobile usage than the average user today.”

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

Article location:

The end of Google exact match keywords: What does it all mean?

August 18, 2014

If advertisers bid on Exact match keywords, what this used to mean was that Google would only show your ads if someone searched for that exact keyword. Now that Google are going to apply close variant keyword matching to exact match keywords, moving forwards ads will not just show for the exact keywords, they will also show for misspellings, singular and plural forms, acronyms, stemmings (such as sleep and sleeping), abbreviations and accents.

When the update goes live, advertisers should expect to see an increase in impressions and clicks and a decrease in Click through Rate (CTR) and Quality Score (QS). In turn, this will increase the average amount you are paying per click (CPC) making your overall spend with AdWords higher.

Google have wrapped this update in a bubble saying that it will really benefit advertisers. In my opinion, it may benefit some of the smaller companies but in the grand scheme of things, Google have done this to make themselves more money.

Get the full story at State of Digital

Read also "Search Marketers tear into Google over AdWords exact match change" at Marketing Land

Article location:

When low-cost competitors show up, airlines’ performance worsens

August 18, 2014

The paper examines if and how incumbent firms respond to entry and entry threats using non-price modes of competition. The analysis focuses on airline service quality.

According to the findings incumbent on-time performance actually worsens in response to entry, and even entry threats, by Southwest Airlines.

For example, within the first year after Southwest’s entry, the proportion of incumbent airlines’ flights arriving at least 15 minutes late rose an average of 3.2 percentage points. The performance decline may be a result of airlines’ cost-cutting in response to the new threat, the researchers say.

Download the full paper at the Social Sience Research Network

Article location:

Dolce Hotels transforms sales process with mobile solutions

August 18, 2014

Dolce began its mobile endeavors in 2011 with little-to-no budget following executive skepticism, but persistence from an ecommerce official led to internal and external tablet applications featuring simple designs and a strong use of photos, a company executive said during a presentation at eTail East 2014. Despite challenges regarding budget, the right people were in place to continue to push mobile until ultimately the strategy was given the go ahead.

“Our execs weren’t allocating a budget because they didn’t see a potential for ROI,” said Michael Goldrich, vice president of digital marketing and ecommerce at Dolce Hotels and Resorts, New York. “I kept saying it, and they kept ignoring it.

“I would say, ‘mobile is penetrating and we need to do something very quickly.’ Finally, it happened.”

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

Article location:

All-inclusive resorts successful in capturing more direct bookings

August 15, 2014

Among the findings in this year's Consumer Trends survey, the most notable shifts occurred within sectors whose booking procedures are often more complex than they are for reserving a nonresort hotel room, buying a plane ticket or renting a car. (Read more from the Consumer Trends survey here.)

One of the biggest shifts was found within the escorted-tour sector. About 14% of the respondents who booked escorted tours said they had done so through either an online travel agency (OTA) or a travel-search site such as Kayak, compared with just 2% last year. Meanwhile, the percentage of escorted-tour customers who booked through travel agents fell to 11%, from 18%.

In addition, all-inclusive resorts appear to be improving on their efforts to get more guests to book direct. Almost half of those polled had booked their all-inclusive resort stay directly, up from 36% a year earlier, while the percentage of those who booked through either OTAs or big-box retailers such as Costco plunged to 12%, from 28%.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

Read Travel Weekly's full report "Consumer Trends 2014" at Travel Weekly

Article location:

A look into HotelTonight’s Instagram campaign

August 15, 2014

HotelTonight launches its first national campaign today dubbed Tonight I am with a month-long Instagram effort. But instead of flashy pictures of hotels, this campaign shows images of people doing everyday things and then imagines them going to their dream places. For example, one image shows a woman in a cubicle at work holding a beach towel and ball.

The hotel booking app started talking to Instagram about two months ago, claiming to be the first start-up to run paid promos on the app. Up until now, the bulk of Instagram marketers are big-name brands like Taco Bell, Ben & Jerry’s, McDonald’s and most recently, Gap's Banana Republic.

"We mutually thought there was really good brand alignment given that we’re solely focused on mobile, and so are they. If you look at the reach of Instagram on mobile, it’s pretty amazing, and we felt that it was a great way to introduce more people to HotelTonight in a clever, creative way that was true to our brand and true to the company," said Sam Shank, HotelTonight’s CEO.

Get the full story at AdWeek

Article location:

Data talks at The 6th annual Hotel Data Conference

August 15, 2014

The 6th annual Hotel Data Conference, hosted by STR and Hotel News Now and presented by Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, opened Wednesday with a presentation focusing on the state of the industry featuring Vail Brown, VP of global business development and marketing; Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics; Jill Denning, per diem program manager at the U.S. General Services Administration; and Guy Langford, vice chairman of U.S. travel, hospitality and leisure leader at Deloitte, LLP.

The sold-out crowd of 405 attendees in Nashville heard Sacks set the stage with an economic overview, referring to this as an “extraordinary time.” He noted that, historically, gross domestic product and room demand traditionally follow a similar trend. This year GDP has been on a yo-yo, while room demand has increased 4 percent, above anyone’s expectations, which is reflected in the price per share of hotel stocks.

“In 2013, at the end, our industry hit five all-time highs of the six key performance indicators,” Vail Brown said. “The good news did not stop as we moved into 2014. In May, (revenue-per-available-room) growth was 10 percent, the highest May of any on record.”

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

Watch Hotel News Now break down Day One and Day Two of The 6th annual Hotel Data Conference.

And view Robert Cole's Storify feed with Tweets from Thee Hotel Data Conference 2014

Article location:

Copyright © 2011 HOTELMARKETING.COM All Rights Reserved.