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Europe emerges as Airbnb’s core market

September 22, 2014

“We’ve had a much, much better experience in Europe,” says Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb. “I don’t know why. “I think it may be something to do with this concept being newer to the US than it is to Europe.

“In a way this has been part of the European culture for centuries, if you think of the roots of B&Bs here and dozens of countries so close together. In a city like London there’s a lot of good will.”

Airbnb’s investors have recently backed Chesky to overcome any regulatory hurdles with a cash injection of $500m (£306m) that valued the company at $10bn. It has allowed the company to put talk of a flotation firmly on the back burner and focus on its international expansion plans, a big marketing push and new services that will take the company beyond the accommodation market.

Get the full story at the Telegraph

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TripAdvisor’s Viator notifies 1.4 Million customers about site and mobile data breach

September 22, 2014

Viator posted notices online September 19 about the breach, although the company learned of a problem 17 days’ earlier when its payment card service provider informed Viator about unauthorized charges on “a number” of customers’ credit cards.

Of the ongoing investigation into what happened, Viator states:

“We have hired forensic experts, notified law enforcement and we have been working diligently and comprehensively to investigate the incident, identify how our systems may have been impacted, and secure our systems.”

Get the full story at Skift and Viator

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India: 30% transactions on Cleartrip are mobile

September 22, 2014

In July this year, Cleartrip had mentioned that 30% of its traffic is coming from mobile devices and it was expecting the number to reach 50% by next year.

Cleartrip attributes this increase in mobile transactions to a combination of various factors including impulse purchases during flash sales and increased functionality of mobile apps over browsers. It also notes that the last million app downloads have come in one-third of the time taken to register its first million downloads.

Cleartrip’s competitor MakeMyTrip had also informed in its September 2014 investor presentation (pdf) that 29% of its traffic came from mobile phones in Q1-FY15. In June, it had mentioned that 20% of its traffic came from mobile phones in FY14. Mobile also accounted for 15% of the company’s total online transactions in Q1-FY15. It also claimed to have 0.3 million mobile customers as of December 2013.

Get the full story at Medianama

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Spa travel market grows 58% in six years

September 22, 2014

New research released by the Global Spa & Wellness Summit with SRI International has found the sector grown from US$60 billion in 2007 to US$94 billion where there has been a 47% rise in spa locations.

Wellness tourism has developed further reaching US$494 billion in revenues, up 12.5% year-on-year. New properties and growing travelling markets in Asia, Middle East, Afirca and Latin America are driving the demand particularly as the global middle class develops.

Europe is the leading region for the spa industry generating US$29.8 billion (up 62%), followed by Asia Pacific at US$18.8bn (+65%) and North America US$18.3bn (+35%).

Get the full story at Traveldaily UK

Read also "Les Roches Infographic Series: Wellness Tourism & Spas" at Les Roches International School of Hotel Management

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How searchers see and click

September 22, 2014

Here are some key takeaways of the study:

- 89% of participants looked at the carousel, yet only 12.5% of the clicks originated from the carousel;

- 76% looked at the local listing above organic listings, which captures 11.5% of clicks;

- The sponsored ads on the top generated 9.9% of all clicks.

View the full infographic at Mediative (PDF 66 KB)

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Businesses that ban bad reviews, congress is coming for you

September 22, 2014

The Consumer Review Freedom Act, introduced in the House by California Democrats Eric Swalwell and Brad Sherman, follows legislation signed by Governor Jerry Brown in California last week which bans so-called anti-disparagement clauses.

The legislation is a response to businesses that seek to prevent people from leaving negative feedback on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, which allow anyone to publicly proclaim their opinions about a company's products and services. Some businesses have sought to do some damage control by inserting anti-disparagement clauses deep within the legalese of their customer agreements, laying out penalties for public airing of grievances.

California's law imposes a fine of up to $10,000 on businesses that seek to squash bad consumer reviews by inserting such clauses into contacts and requiring customers to sign them.

Get the full story at

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Superstar storyteller: DoubleTree By Hilton Bethesda

September 22, 2014

The DoubleTree by Hilton Bethesda is a modern luxurious hotel located just outside the heart of Washington D.C., just a half hour away from the White House. They offer a high quality experience for guests by providing technology-friendly rooms with Wi-Fi and high definition TVs, as well as exquisite dining experiences with a wide variety of options. But it’s how they effectively communicate these features in their hotel story that makes them our new Superstar Storyteller.

Visually Enticing

From their visually-compelling website, to their visually-appealing Facebook page, the DoubleTree by Hilton Bethesda is an exemplar visual storyteller. The DoubleTree by Hilton Bethesda makes their hotel story on Facebook compelling by featuring their rooms and dining facilities in their cover photo, which are the top two hotel images that travel shoppers want to see.

Their hotel stands out by including people in the photos they share on social media and their hotel website which allows travel shoppers to envision the experience they’ll have at that hotel.

Get the full story at Leonardo

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Luxury Collection enters ecommerce to bring hotel experience directly to consumers

September 22, 2014

Allowing consumers to own part of the group’s hotels will help to remind them of their travel experiences and expand the length of the trip.

To get attention for its new online store, The Luxury Collection posted to social media, linking to the new dedicated microsite. On the ecommerce site, large images of the products taken at properties fill the homepage.

A slideshow of hotels plays automatically to give a sense of the range of design, from the very modern Hotel Marques de Riscal in Elciego, Spain to the open-air Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki. This also helps consumers see how the bed linens and other items would fit into a number of homes and lifestyles.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Mobile now an established start-to-finish travel shopping channel

September 19, 2014

Not only did the volume of mobile bookings grew 20 percent in the first half of 2014 for online travel sites, but the average booking value was 21 percent higher on mobile for air and 13 percent higher for car rentals compared to desktop, according to a new report from Criteo.

These findings highlight why online travel sites such as Priceline, Expedia and Orbitz are embracing mobile, which accounted for most of the bookings growth during the first half while desktop bookings were up only 2 percent. The opportunity is not limited to the mobile Web, with in-app bookings also driving incremental bookings for travel companies, accounting for 12 percent of mobile conversions in June.

“The most surprising finding was how rapidly mobile has emerged as a key channel in this industry,” said Jason Morse, vice president of mobile product at Criteo.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

Read also "Mobile travel bookings increase more than 20 percent in the first six months of 2014"

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TripAdvisor launches restaurant reservation service in Europa

September 19, 2014

Restaurant availability search has been integrated directly into TripAdvisor's city pages in each country, allowing users to search availability and reserve a table for a specific date and time.

Users who previously wanted to book a restaurant had to complete the process on the Lafourchette site.

Diners can view restaurant menus and are made special offers, such as discounts of up to 50% off or fixed price menus. Discounts are automatically applied to the bill when users book online, removing the need to present a coupon at the restaurant. It also gives users the opportunity to see alternative dining times and restaurants.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Expedia increases HomeAway rental listings tenfold

September 19, 2014

HomeAway and Expedia announced the distribution of more than 115,000 vacation rental listings on the U.S. version of®. The expanded listings are a continuation of the partnership between HomeAway® and Expedia®, announced in October 2013, which added approximately 10,000 vacation rentals to as part of a pilot distribution strategy.

Vacation rental property managers and owners using HomeAway's pay-per-booking (commission-based) listing model may now also choose to advertise their properties on HomeAway plans to extend distribution in the future to include subscription-based listings.

The expanded relationship enables vacation rentals listed on HomeAway sites to increase exposure to the more than 13.4 million visitors searching for accommodations on each month. In turn, families and groups searching for accommodations on will be introduced to more choice and variety by having vacation rentals to consider for their next trip.

"We're very excited to have Expedia as the cornerstone partner for a network that will enable vacation rental owners and managers to reach travelers who typically book accommodations on large online travel sites," says Brian Sharples, HomeAway co-founder and chief executive officer.

"The demand for vacation rentals in today's travel market is clear and we think it complements our existing business," says Laurens Leurink, president of lodging for Expedia, Inc. "We're thrilled to continue our work with HomeAway. They are a great example of a partner that allows us to expand the breadth and depth of our offerings, giving Expedia travelers more choices and thus improving their overall experience."

HomeAway vacation rental owners and property managers who opt in to the Expanded Distribution Network, which includes, will continue to manage their listings seamlessly from the same management tool HomeAway currently provides. Listing on via the Expanded Distribution Network adds no upfront cost to the owner or property manager. Owners and managers pay the same ten percent commission as they would through a pay-per-booking transaction on, excluding the cost of credit card processing.

Meanwhile, property managers and owners continue to have the opportunity to reach Expedia travelers by partnering directly with Expedia. Doing so would be complementary to distribution via HomeAway, and would maximize bookings by listing across various Expedia, Inc. owned websites instead of only

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Airbnb to begin collecting San Fran hotel tax

September 19, 2014

In a move that could add over $11 million a year to city coffers, Airbnb will collect San Francisco’s 14 percent hotel tax from visitors who book apartments or rooms in the city starting Oct. 1, the company said on Wednesday. But the $10 billion company, which has enjoyed explosive growth, did not address whether it will pay back taxes for the six years it has been in business.

“Our community members in San Francisco have told us they want to pay their fair share and the overwhelming majority have asked us to help,” David Owen, Airbnb head of public policy, wrote in a blog post. “In the past, it’s been difficult for individual hosts to pay taxes that were designed for traditional hotels that operate year round.”

Airbnb will add the “transient occupancy tax” as a new line item for visitors, just as hotels do. For example, a Twin Peaks apartment that previously cost $200 a night would now cost $228 with the tax.

Get the full story at SF Gate

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Marriott offers virtual travel experience

September 19, 2014

The brand partnered with Academy Award-winning Framestore to create Marriott Hotel’s virtual travel experience, giving consumers a fully immersive, 4-D sensory experience based in Oculus Rift technology.

An industry pioneer, Marriott Hotels is embracing innovative technologies to redefine the future of travel for generations to come. And now, travel enthusiasts can see, hear and feel what it’s like to be in destinations halfway across the globe and at Marriott Hotels of the future – all within its traveling teleporter coming to eight cities across the U.S. beginning today in New York.

The groundbreaking program is anchored by the Marriott Hotels virtual travel experience Teleporter – a phone booth-like structure that takes cues from iconic science fiction books and movies. The Teleporter features the Oculus Rift DK2 virtual reality headset, wireless headphones and suite of onboard 4-D sensory elements.

To create a virtual travel experience that truly feels like “being there,” Marriott Hotels turned to its partners, video effects and creative content studio Framestore and experiential marketing agency Relevent, to pioneer several new virtual reality innovations. This included developing a new, unparalleled technique for capturing 3-D, 360 degree live-action video, and then mixing that video with photo real CGI (computer-generated imagery) and 4-D elements such as heat, wind and mist. The result is an unprecedented depth of immersion, a virtual reality experience that delivers the feeling of actually traveling to Hawaii’s Wai’anapanapa Black Sand Beach in Maui and London, seen from the dizzying heights of Tower 42.

“Marriott Hotels is pioneering the use of innovative technologies that will transform the guest experience to heights unseen in the current reality experience in unprecedented ways, “said Michael Dail, vice president, Marriott Hotels Brand Marketing. “Marriott seized on virtual reality and teleportation to give the next generation of travelers the clear cut notion that more amazing travel experiences are coming and to encourage them to co-create the future of travel with us on, where their best ideas enter Marriott’s innovation pipeline. Together, we are pushing the limits of what is possible.”

During the Marriott Virtual Travel Experience, guests enter the Teleporter, where they will put on virtual reality headsets and headphones to be completely immersed in a virtual world. From there, they will visit a virtual version of a new Marriott Greatroom lobby, and then virtually travel to a black sand beach in Maui, Hawaii and to the top of a skyscraper in downtown London, England. While “traveling,” 4-D elements kick in – the feeling of the warm sun on your skin, breeze in your hair, rumble of waves under foot and ocean spray in your face – to make the experience feel extremely lifelike.

Get the full story at Marriott and Marriott Travel Brilliantly

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Marketers invest more in brand awareness as SEO benefits increase

September 19, 2014

Fast forward to 2014 and Searchmetrics’ annual Ranking Factors Study, where there is evidence that brands are ranking higher in results pages. They’re knocking out generic domains and other URLs competing for the same search terms, while also benefiting from greater SEO visibility in the top positions.

Searchmetrics concluded that both large and niche brands are experiencing search benefits (as promised last year). Niche brands that have carved out expertise in a field can outrank a name brand for long-tail keywords that they’ve specifically targeted.

On the other hand, big brands tend to outrank smaller competitors and domains for generic terms as well as long-tail keywords.

Get the full story at Brafton

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HSMAI’S MEET national conference a success, 2015 dates announced

September 19, 2014

Questex, which manages the MEET series of events under a strategic agreement with Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI), said the 2015 show will feature a trade show, conference program and one-to-one appointments.

Also next year, HSMAI’s MEET MidAmerica event will head to Texas, a first for the event, Feb. 2-3 at The Fairmont Dallas hotel, with 80 suppliers and 80 fully hosted buyers. HSMAI’s MEET West event will be held May 5-6 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County in California, also with a trade show, conference program and one-to-one appointments.

Marilyn McHugh, Questex Hospitality + Travel vice president, global events, said the 2015 format is similar to Questex’s Global Meeting & Incentive Travel Exchanges (GMITE) events, which cater exclusively to the MICE market and have proven successful by offering one-to-one meetings and top-of-the-line training and networking opportunities for meeting and event-planning professionals.

“We will continue to build upon the proven popularity of the MEET series of conferences in 2015 with new locations, enhanced meeting formats and top-of-the line training opportunities,” she said. “Our innovative program puts buyers and suppliers together – face-to-face – in a fun, engaging and effective format designed to generates leads.”

Fran Brasseux, HSMAI executive vice president, said next year’s events will offer new ways to do business, high-quality education and more face-to-face appointments.“The evolving format of the shows will add value to both our suppliers and buyers,” she said.

MEET brings together meeting planners with suppliers representing hotels, resorts and meeting venues, convention and visitors bureaus and technology, event services and promotional and marketing products vendors.

The 2014 MEET National program attracted more than 800 attendees and more than 110 suppliers and featured peer-to-peer networking, educational sessions, team-building activities and a standing-room-only keynote address by Juliet Funt, humorous business speaker and daughter of the late Allen Funt, creator and host of the TV show Candid Camera. She urged the audience to become more engaged and creative despite their too-busy, over-committed lives.

Connie Del Signore, president & CEO of the Annapolis & Anne Arundel Conference & Visitors Bureau, has been attending MEET National for over 10 years. “It’s always been a great show,” she said. “The difference in the show this year has created a lot of excitement. We meet the right type of planners for us – association planners. We’re in a great market and really need to let people know we are serious about meetings.”

Karen Holsendorff, meeting manager at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, said the show was “wonderful and very educational” with great sessions and new information for planners. “The one-on-one meetings were great, because it’s always good to meet people face-to-face,” she added.

First-time attendee Nancy White, executive director of the Southeastern Association of School Business Officials, said the show was “fabulous,” adding, “I loved the supplier area and visiting the vendors from different cities we’d want to visit in the future. You just make a lot of connections.”

HSMAI’s MEET (Meetings, Events, Education, & Technology) expos are trade shows designed for hospitality sales and marketing professionals to present their properties, destinations and services to the industry’s leading planners and decision-makers.

For more information about HSMAI’s MEET series of events, visit

Related Link: HSMAI

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Fastbooking brings its corporate website to the next level

September 19, 2014

The statistics are clear and final: users don't visit corporate websites anymore. Linkedin and Twitter have become the primary touchpoints. Fastbooking has built something different to meet the market's expectations.

Responsive on split screens
Providing websites to worldwide hotels, Fastbooking had to honour its technical expertise. The bet is won. While a majority of competitors' websites are not even mobile, Fastbooking's is totally responsive on dual panels (cold and hot content). Responsive on split screens: done.

Content oriented
More than a classical corporate website, this one is a digital media about the hospitality sector. Providing market news and original insights, it delivers Fastbooking's expertise and market vision.

Take a look at the global customers' map: it is connected to our API, and updated in real time. Or at the counter of value generated for clients. Or at the on-going projects. Aware of the transparency the market is expecting, Fastbooking shares global information, including its roadmap, contributing to building a trust relationship.

Fluid and user-friendly
The website aims at offering a fluid navigation with a sharp design. Clear, spacious, and concentrated, for quick and efficient understanding.

People find here market news coming from international medias, and even from competitors. The market is fully connected: hoteliers access to these informations anyway. It is part of the global vision they need to achieve their business goals. This new corporate website provides a big picture to improve their business insights.

Social media activity, last market news, original insights, infographics and events, with a fundamentally different editorial line. More human and personal, building a link with the users, offering the possibility to interact.

It highlights how important it is to rethink the corporate websites to fit with the evolutions of user's habits. Requiring openness, interaction, valued and updated content, and offering the B2B visitors the optimal experience they deserve.

"It is part of the inner reinvention the company has operated in 2014 and illustrates the way Fastbooking interacts with the market: closely and directly, to provide a global vision and answer the business needs" says Jean-Louis Boss, Chief Marketing Officer @Fastbooking.

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Mobile travel bookings increase more than 20 percent in the first six months of 2014

September 18, 2014

This report provides insight on both the share and value of bookings generated from mobile devices for travel websites, including airlines, hotels, car rentals, cruises and apartments, and the impact this has on marketers’ advertising campaigns.

The Travel Flash Report represents the activity of more than 1,000 travel websites worldwide in the first half of 2014. Key takeaways include:

Global Findings:

- Mobile bookings are growing faster than desktop: 20 percent versus 2 percent over the first six months of 2014.

- Smartphones and tablets account for 21 percent of hotel bookings.

- Peer-to-peer apartment rentals is the category with highest mobile penetration (34 percent globally).

- The value of mobile bookings is increasing in every area except for accommodation. The average booking value was 21 percent higher for air travel and 13 percent higher for car rentals, but 30 percent lower for hotel bookings on mobile devices than desktop.

- In-app bookings account for 12 percent of total mobile bookings.

- The value of bookings by device varies across categories: there’s an average $600 more spent on packages booked on the iPad compared to those booked via any Android device. However, the value of Android bookings for flights outpaces all other mobile devices.

Regional Findings:

- Asia Pacific leads the way with more than 20 percent of travel bookings made on a mobile device, with Brazil and Germany less than 10 percent.

- With a 42 percent increase, Latin America has the most significant seasonal growth in online bookings for travel advertisers. This coincided with the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

- Online travel agencies’ bookings climb by 50 percent throughout the season in Europe and the US, but the value of those bookings falls by 19 percent. For hotel suppliers, however, the booking numbers remain stable throughout the first half of 2014, with peaks in value in February and June.

“Mobile is the driving force behind the exponential growth in online travel booking and sales, and that’s only set to continue in the second half of this year and beyond,” said Jason Morse, vice president, mobile product at Criteo. “With smart phones and tablets in nearly every consumer’s hands today, travel marketers need to think strategically about developing a highly effective omni-channel marketing experience. That means ensuring the entire consumer experience – from the ads to shopping carts – is mobile optimised. Determining budget across desktop and mobile must be completely fluid because consumers are making decisions in real-time, requiring that the booking experience be streamlined and integrated with mobile-friendly payment systems to ease the all-important path to purchase.”

Download the complete report at Criteo (PDF 1.6 MB))

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Hoteliers diversify loyalty program offerings

September 18, 2014

“Now more than ever, our members want more utility and flexibility. They want to be able to redeem their points more quickly and have more flexibility in the way they redeem them; in effect, they want more choice and control,” said Kendra Hayden, senior manager for Hilton HHonors.

In July, Hilton Worldwide Holdings became the first hotel company to offer its loyalty program members room selection and customization via mobile and Internet-based floor plans. HHonors members can select their exact room online or via the Apple and Android HHonors apps across six Hilton brands in the United States: Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites.

The company also added room upgrade rewards, “which enable HHonors members to use their points to guarantee an upgrade to a premium room or suite with no blackout dates,” Hayden said in an email.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Deloitte: Where there is reward for travel, there is risk

September 18, 2014

Few frequent travelers appear fully aware of the wider risks involved when loyalty data – including travel schedules and other personal data – is lost or stolen. Roughly one in seven (15 percent) are simply concerned that a breach would result in a loss of loyalty points, while the majority of travelers (76 percent) worry about the loss of credit card numbers.

"Our study indicates a disconnect between travelers' expectations and perceptions about the security of their personal data," said Charles Carrington, partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP in the Travel, Hospitality and Leisure practice and author of the study. "Travelers consider protection of their physical security a basic expectation when they're in a hotel or in the air. This responsibility now extends into the cyber world. Travel companies increasingly request that customers share a detailed level of personal information. These same companies need to roll up their sleeves and move beyond mere policy compliance to ensure that customer data is truly secure. Failure to do so could not only frustrate, even endanger, travelers, but also cause serious reputational damage and revenue loss."

While rewards programs are often a critical way for airlines and hotels to build customer loyalty, simply offering frequent traveler points is no longer enough. As a result, airlines and hotels are continuously looking for ways to personalize programs and tailor travel experiences. However, the study reveals the low level of trust in these companies' security standards is restricting the amount and type of information travelers are willing to share.

Get the full story at or download the study at Deloitte & Touche (PDF 570 KB)

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Hoteliers opening their eyes to the sharing-economy

September 18, 2014

“We have a lot to do in our industry to compete with this,” said Niki Leondakis, CEO of Commune Hotels & Resorts. “The opportunities lie within how we can do better. … Make sure the things they get at hotels aren’t available at a home stay.”

Eric Danziger, president and CEO of New York-based Hampshire Hotels Management, echoed Leondakis’ thoughts. “What feels like a conflict is the experience,” Danziger said. “People should have an experience when they travel that makes them feel that they aren’t in their home. It’s strange to me that they’re so successful. You’re trading your home for another home.”

Making guests feel at home while providing a unique experience is the challenge hoteliers must conquer, according to Leondakis.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Mobile boosts email deliverability, but will it last?

September 18, 2014

“Whatever influence that Apple devices are exerting over complaints and inbox placement is artificial, and whether the user experience is changed or mailbox providers begin accounting for it, or both, the resulting positive effect on deliverability can go away overnight,” said Tom Sather, senior director of research at Return Path. “Or on Black Friday.

“Email marketers can avoid the trap - a sudden drop in deliverability and response from mobile users - by knowing which subscribers are reading mail on which mobile devices, and making sure that those users are at least as engaged as others,” he said. “Certainly follow best practices to deliver a great mobile email experience - making it easy to take action form a small screen, or compelling to keep messages for later - but if the holiday season is critical to your success, use the early fall to find mobile subscribers that ignore your messages and reactivate them.

Get the full story at Mobile Marketer

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Too many marketing teams are stuck in the past

September 18, 2014

The customer who is a fan of your brand’s Facebook page should receive a more personalized email newsletter after visiting your website. She should be given a personalized promo code in her email to shop at your brick and mortar store based on her online shopping history, and later, be reminded with a push notification message on her mobile phone when the promo code is about to expire so she can take advantage of it online.

Many marketing organizations suffer from a failure of cross-functional collaboration. For example, IT decisions that affect marketing may be made without a thoughtful analysis about the resulting user experience beyond page load speed and server uptime. New product features may be introduced into an e-commerce site without understanding how they will impact traffic conversion rates and average order value.

In traditional marketing organizations, job responsibilities and titles are hierarchical and rarely fluid. Each role is clearly defined and limited in scope. The new digital marketing organization thrives on a less hierarchical structure with more flexibility and an emphasis on meritocracy.

Get the full story at Harvard Business Review

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Revinate announces inGuest, a guest engagement platform for the hospitality industry

September 18, 2014

Revinate, the San Francisco-based technology company that is reinventing the hotel guest experience, today introduces inGuest, a new platform that turns guest data into revenue for hoteliers. Already launched at leading hotels, inGuest increases guest satisfaction and revenue by improving the way hoteliers engage with guests before, during and after their stays. inGuest delivers social guest profiles and extends hotel services to guests via their own mobile devices, increasing engagement and opening new communication and revenue channels.

The core of inGuest’s revolutionary value is the power to connect reservation data with both social data and guest feedback to build rich social guest profiles, considered “the holy grail” by many hoteliers. For the first time, hoteliers can deeply know their guests, personalize their service, identify VIPs and automatically surface guest preferences and interests. To fuel this new level of engagement, inGuest delivers precisely targeted engagement campaigns based not only on booking, loyalty and PMS data, but also Revinate’s treasure trove of social, feedback and online reputation data.

The groundbreaking guest intelligence delivered by inGuest fundamentally improves the way hotels engage with their guests. Never before has a single solution allowed hoteliers to manage guest interaction across the entire guest cycle, from booking to post-stay in such an easy and fully integrated way.

“Before inGuest, hoteliers looking to better understand and engage with guests needed to cobble together numerous legacy systems,” says Jay Ashton, Revinate’s co-founder and CEO. “The result was an expensive, complex system that could not produce a singular guest profile. inGuest harnesses all guest data into rich social profiles and enables precise, dynamic targeting. Our goal is to make it easy for hoteliers to better engage with guests in order to maximize revenue and satisfaction.”

Always seeking to better understand guests, increase guest engagement and raise the bar of its service levels, Hotel Griffon in San Francisco, a Revinate customer since 2010, was among the first properties to deploy inGuest. Norbert Mede, General Manager, says, “We are always looking for ways to extend our world-class service to our guests. inGuest provides a platform enabling guests to reach us 24/7, tailoring our communication options to an increasingly tech savvy guest base and ensuring our guest outreach is on-message and targeted to the individual. With inGuest, we now have a powerful solution that enables new levels of personalized service and targeted marketing, while opening up new revenue streams and increasing guest satisfaction.”

The inGuest platform incorporates a fully customized mobile App (iOS, Android & Mobile Web) for each hotel, including:

- Advanced Check-In: preferences and upgrade requests can be made before arrival to ensure a frictionless experience and drive new revenue.

- Room Service Ordering: guests can use their own mobile devices in their room, at the pool or anywhere on site to order food and beverages.

- Service Requests: any need can be addressed and serviced quickly through the mobile app and text messaging.

- Reservation Requests: an easy way for guests to reserve a table, book a tee-time or set a spa appointment at the hotel.

- Concierge Connect: the fastest way to request restaurant reservations, book tours and get local recommendations.

- The Request Center: a sophisticated request management solution that includes tracking, escalation and two-way communication with guests via email, text messaging (SMS) and app notifications. inGuest can also integrate with existing solutions.

- Guest Profiles: Rich guest data, including PMS data, stay histories, historical requests, on-site requests, preferences, social activity and status on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, online review data from top review sites across the web and post-stay feedback.

- Guest Marketing: A powerful platform for sending targeted, automated communications and event-driven or recurring promotions to past, present or future guests via text message (SMS), email and app notifications, driving new revenue.

Revinate’s Guest Feedback Suite: a powerful solution for hotels to capture, measure and optimize the guest experience by bringing together all online reviews, survey data and social media mentions into a single, integrated system. The Guest Feedback Suite includes Revinate’s market-leading solution for Online Reputation Management, Post-Stay Surveys and On-Site Surveys.

After a highly successful pilot program with proven ROI and rave reviews from both hoteliers and guests, inGuest is currently launching with many leading hotels including Hotel Durant, Jefferson Street Inn, Hotel Jerome, Sentinel, and many more.

Related Link: Revinate

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SiteMinder secures partnership with travel experience experts Jetsetter

September 18, 2014

Jetsetter is an online travel community that provides insider access and expert knowledge for exclusive deals on the world's finest vacation destinations to its over 20 million members. The luxury site has connected to SiteMinder's RDX platform, which offers a robust two-way, real-time XML connection between leading hotel booking channels, property management systems and central reservation systems worldwide.

"Jetsetter is excited to partner with SiteMinder. With the RDX platform's best-in-class connectivity, we now have access to live rates and inventory at more of the world's best hotels. This partnership reinforces Jetsetter's commitment to our members by helping us provide the most competitive rates for our curated list of properties," says Mario Bauduin, VP of Sales at Jetsetter.

Through the partnership, SiteMinder's high-end hotel clients can now distribute directly with Jetsetter, an otherwise-closed user group site which features only properties hand-selected by a team of 200 top travel journalists and meet an 85 percent approval rating from members. Hotels are assessed on their 'personality, great style and a sense of place'.

David Chestler, Executive Vice President – Enterprise Sales and Business Development at SiteMinder, says: "With the rise of online booking channels and review sites, today's travelers are more sophisticated than ever before. It was identified this year that hotels are no longer just an escape for travelers; they now provide very home-like experiences with luxury hotels, in particular, offering increasingly personalized options.

"As with the recent announcement of our integration with Asia Pacific-based, SiteMinder is excited about this partnership as it provides a unique opportunity for our luxury property clients to gain exposure to the growing channels for luxury travelers. We are particularly thrilled Jetsetter has selected RDX, which spearheaded over 18 million reservations for hotels over the 12 months ending 30 June 2014. We are confident we will now see even greater results for our luxury brands over the coming year and beyond."

Related Link: SiteMinder

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New Google Travel study sees declining use of mobile apps for travel planning and booking

September 17, 2014

The report has some eye-opening findings that could help digital marketers plan their campaigns and help travel companies allocate their spending more optimally.

The poll spotlights a declining use of mobile apps as a starting point for travel planning and booking. It also notes that nearly half of US travelers now use multiple devices to research and book a single trip.

The survey in spring 2014 was of 3,500 US leisure travelers who have traveled at least once for personal reasons in the first half of 2014, plus 1,500 US business travelers — defined as people who have traveled at least 3 times for business in the past six months.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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Why the hotel industry needs Google, Amazon or Priceline to clean up the mess it has created

September 17, 2014

Surely there are initiatives that tried to streamline inter-vendor communication such as the open travel alliance or HTNG but they have been around and did not seem to make the impact so that a new technology can be adapted at large by an industry.

The underlying issue and conclusion for me is that the maze of outdated technologies, under education because of fragmentation (surely a 20 rooms hotel will not need to understand all of this) and extortion by the existing players on interfaces is causing so much friction that it does not allow any company to enter.

At the same time hotels are complaining about the rise of the online travel agency, the power it is gaining worldwide and fear it is causing for the future.

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

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As airlines embrace new distribution capability, GDS role crystalizes

September 17, 2014

It wasn’t so very long ago that the existence of global distribution systems (GDSs) appeared to be threatened. Eager to maximize visibility for unbundled products – like extra legroom seats and inflight Wi-Fi – airlines were warming to ‘Direct Connect’ distribution models, which allowed them to bypass GDSs by connecting customers directly to their host reservations systems. In turn, some carriers envisaged a day when GDS fees would become a thing of the past.

But in the last couple of years, as GDSs gradually improved the exposure of airlines’ ancillary products to third party travel agents and offered other creative merchandising tools, they have somewhat re-cemented relationships with carriers. Though some frustrations remain, primarily regarding airlines’ commercial agreements with GDSs, airlines “recognize there is a large market out there, whether corporate travelers, individual travelers or travelers who exist outside the home market, who are using online or offline travel agencies” and that they “need to make at least some part of their optional product mix available in order to ensure the customer has the journey they want and capture the associated revenue”, says Atmosphere Research Group analyst Henry Harteveldt.

That’s why it should not come as the biggest surprise that GDSs are positioning themselves to accept the very technology that helped airlines bypass them in the first place. Farelogix’s schema for facilitating Direct Connect served as the foundation for the International Air Transport Association (IATA’s) New Distribution Capability (NDC), which offers a framework for XML-based data transmission standards.

Get the full story at Runway Girl Network

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International tourism up by 5% in first half 2014, the Americas leads growth

September 17, 2014

Growth was strongest in the Americas (+6%) followed by Asia and the Pacific and Europe (both at +5%). By subregion, South Asia and Northern Europe (both +8%) were the best performers, together with North-East Asia and Southern Mediterranean Europe (both +7%).

“These results show that tourism is consolidating the positive performance of recent years, providing development and economic opportunities worldwide”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “Indeed, despite geopolitical and economic challenges, the number of international tourist arrivals has grown by 5% a year on average since 2010, a trend that has translated into more economic growth, more exports and more jobs”, he added.

So far, results are in line with the UNWTO forecast issued at the beginning of 2014. For the full year 2014, international tourist arrivals are expected to increase by 4% to 4.5% worldwide, above UNWTO’s long-term forecast of 3.8% per year for the period 2010 to 2020.

The Americas leads growth

Growth picked up significantly in the Americas (+6%). All four subregions benefited, with North America, boosted by Mexico, Central and South America all increasing by 6%, and the Caribbean by 5%. In South America (+6%), the hosting of the Football World Cup in Brazil contributed to the positive results in the subregion – receipts from international tourism in Brazil grew by 10% in the first seven months of the year with a 60% increase in June and July.

Asia and the Pacific (+5%) consolidated the trend of recent years, with South Asia (+8%) and North-East Asia (+7%) in the lead and major destinations such as Japan, the Republic of Korea and Malaysia posting double-digit growth rates. The region has been benefiting from ongoing economic growth, continuous investment in infrastructure and visa facilitation measures.

Europe (+5%), the most visited region in the world, continued the strong pace of growth of 2013, driven so far this year by Northern Europe (+8%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (+7%). These results reflect improved consumer confidence in Europe and the rebound of important traditional European source markets.

Africa’s international tourist numbers grew by 3% as the recovery consolidated in North Africa (+4%). Yet the current Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak might affect tourism to the region due to misperceptions about the transmission of the virus. “The main focus at the moment is on taking and supporting action to contain the virus. But we must also ensure that misperceptions do not unnecessarily harm the African economy, in particular its travel and tourism sector, which is a central activity in many countries. We would like to stress that the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend any ban on international travel. Putting a halt on flights or imposing unnecessary travel restrictions will not help contain the virus. On the contrary, these measures will surely dampen the economy of the region, especially its travel and tourism sector, and jeopardize millions of livelihoods”, said Mr Rifai.

International tourist arrivals in the Middle East are estimated to be down by 4%, though this figure should be taken with caution as it is based on limited available data for the region.

Related Link: UNWTO

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PwC UK Hotels Forecast 2015 - Growth beds in

September 17, 2014

This is underpinned by a continued strong recovery in the Provinces as well as strong growth in London, especially next year.

The sector however still faces plenty of challenges and geopolitical uncertainty. New products and business models can sometimes represent a challenge for existing businesses. Every so often a profound change to the established way of doing business can leave some businesses ill prepared for the new order. A case in point that is relevant to the UK hotel sector is the potential impact of so called shared economy models. In this edition of the UK Forecast we provide an insight into this growing global phenomenon and provide our views on what steps can be taken to ensure the impact on the hotel industry is minimised.

At a glance

- We expect growth across the board for hotels for the 2014 outturn and for 2015, underpinned by a resilient economy, buoyant business travel and a knock-on effect from the Rugby World Cup in 2015

- Modest growth in occupancy should be mirrored in both the Provinces and London and is enough to lift occupancies to record levels

- With occupancies high, we anticipate ADR growth will drive a strong RevPAR resurgence in nominal terms. In real terms we hope we are seeing the beginning of a sustained and bedded-in period of growth in the Provinces – which is very good news

- The sector continues to face plenty of challenges and geopolitical uncertainty

Get the full story and infographic at Hospitality.Net

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Now there’s semantic search: tips to help guests find you

September 17, 2014

Now, it's all about the user experience, which is increasingly mobile. Google is predicting that mobile search will overtake desktop search queries by the end of 2014. We increasingly use voice search and talk to our mobile like we would our best friend. We ask it about the weather, best restaurants and the best hotel to stay.

Last year, an SEO checklist consisted of back links (from anyone anywhere), on-page SEO, domain names, hosting location and link structure. Practices were easily gamed by building artificial links and stuffing poor content with keywords, most of it focusing on desktop search.

A year on, things have changed enormously. However, as yet I don't see much movement in travel industry and hotel marketing strategies. The industry doesn't 'get it' yet. They should.

Get the full story at eHotelier

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nSight provides hotels with critical pricing and consumer targeting data

September 17, 2014

That means making data usable and digestible in daily hotel revenue management and marketing activities. Today nSight is rolling out enhancements to its hotel product that provide insights and tools for optimizing rate, managing future demand and targeting “the right” consumers that help hotels convert shoppers to grow market share.

Only nSight aggregates data from more than 80 million consumer “looks and books” every day from a network of 5,000 third-party travel sites. Now hotels can achieve a more complete understanding of shopping behavior, preferences and future demand against the competition. This insight is a critical complement to the current tools that hotels use, providing a unique competitive advantage in today’s complex, changing distribution landscape.

nSight is an interactive SaaS-based BI application that benchmarks hotel performance on third-party websites worldwide for the past year or up to 90 days into the future. Hotels can deep dive into top source markets and consumer profiles, dates when the property is under- or over-performing, and also see the difference in best available rate (BAR) versus the competition by day and how that affects share of search and bookings.

“Leisure and unmanaged business travel can account for 50% or more of a hotel’s revenue. For many hotels, almost half of the bookings from these valuable customer segments can come through third parties, which include OTAs, tour operators, airlines, clubs and retailers. Understanding how consumers shop and book across these channels is key to maximizing profit and minimizing soft periods,” said nSight Founder Rich Maradik.

nSight enhancements that provide decision-making insight for hotel revenue managers and marketers include:

- Rate Efficiency Index – The Rate Efficiency Index (REI) allows hotels to see the impact of their rate compared to their competitors on search and booking performance. REI is the only way revenue managers and marketers can see the affect of BAR rate on how consumers search and book by future arrival days.

- Forward-Looking Demand – Hotels can now see search and booking performance on travel dates up to 90 days into the future within nSIght’s interactive dashboard. Subscribers can also drill into nSight data to understand the profile of consumers most likely to search and book them in the next 30, 60 or 90 days.

- nCompass BI Reporting – Introduced as part of the nSight subscription, nCompass is a forward-looking report that provides a simple color-coded calendar view of demand and bookings for the next 30 days and 60 days and where to target active consumers online. nCompass tells a hotel where to go to fill demand gaps by identifying geographic markets and personas likely to book within specific 30- and 60-day need periods. It’s a suggested roadmap for digital media and email marketing for two months into the future.

“Hoteliers want to visualize the next 60 days. nCompass lets them see when rate and conversion are on pace, so they know what days are under- or over- performing,” said nSight President and Chief Product Officer Jami Timmons. “And we put insight into action by making the report easy to interpret with red-yellow-green color-coding that prioritizes dates that need attention first.”

Ways to Take Action

nSight is a unique travel intelligence solution that allows hotel revenue management and marketing teams to quickly and easily take action on consumer insights. These are examples of how hotels can use nSight data to make daily operational decisions:

- Raise or lower rates for future arrival periods based on the hotel’s share of consumer “looks and books” against its competitive set during future arrival days
- Design digital marketing campaigns based on average lead times for active shoppers within 30- or 60-day windows; easily integrate target marketing recommendations with leading OTAs and digital networks
- Refine strategies with Google AdWords campaigns based on consumer demographics and geographies identified as most likely to convert in select periods
- Apply geographic source market and consumer profile insights on email marketing campaigns to increase loyal guest stays
- Customize web and social content based on target consumer profile insights
- Be more strategic with wholesaler and consortia partners for select arrival periods

Related Link: nSight

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Czech luxury resort selects eRevMax to optimize online sales

September 17, 2014

A luxury boutique hotel located in Old Prague, Hoffmeister Hotel & Spa sells 45 individual luxury rooms and suites across various online sales channels. Prague is one of the most popular leisure destinations across Europe and receives over 5 million tourist visits every year. The strong competitiveness in the hotel sector coupled with slow
economic growth has made hotels in the region look to expand from their traditional market. RateTiger helps Hoffmeister Hotel & Spa to sell rooms from an allocated inventory pool across global sales channels and receive reservations direct to their PMS from a single platform.

“RateTiger is a must have hoteliers tool in 21st century allowing you to effectively balance all the material variables in the hoteliers profit/occupancy/rates/distribution costs/channel parity equation,” said Petr Novotný, Sales Manager, Hotel Hoffmeister & Spa.

“RateTiger by eRevMax gives Hoffmeister Hotel instant control to manage rate and inventory and receive reservation confirmation to their system thereby eliminating chance of overbooking. Further, they would be able to take advantage of eRevMax Channel Ecosystem to have 2-way XML connectivity with leading global and regional OTAs and expand their target market,” said John Seaton, VP Sales, EMEA, eRevMax.

RateTiger, from eRevMax, is a fully integrated channel management and connectivity solution that entirely automates the connection between hotel inventory systems and distribution channels, regardless of business model, connectivity type or geography.

Related Link: eRevMax

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Dream merchants: The future of hotels has arrived

September 16, 2014

Nowadays, as Claus Sendlinger, founder of Design Hotels, remarked, it's all about content - all of the "things that surround the experience". Another way to think about it: if boutique hotels have been getting attention for their good looks, now they're having to grow up and show they have something substantial to say about their favourite themes of art, fashion, and music.

This is more than mere gimmick. These features represent a new step beyond the boutique trend, a step that is the logical response to a society radically altered by the proliferation of social media and smartphones.

Everybody is now a potential editor of their own life, tailoring a personal image with Instagram, calling up instant service on Uber, and connecting to the cultural zeitgeist through the internet. Hotels are evolving to meet this strange new normal. Just as the media, music and publishing industries have been forced to innovate over the past few years, now it's hospitality's turn.

Get the full story at The Sydney Morning Herald

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More on the Google threat to OTAs

September 16, 2014

Starting with a number of small-scale initiatives Google is pushing into OTA territory with products such as Limited Offers linked to Google's Hotel Finder service. Next up will come a yet-to-be-branded 'captive demand platform' which will give Google's hotelier customers the ability to upload secret lists of loyal, valuable customers into the Google engine and then churn out special rates to customers.

Finally, this will be connected back to Google Wallet, allowing the search giant to control the whole process of research and booking.

This opens up a number of possibilities, not least the rise of opaque pricing based on personal information - a huge departure from the existing rate-parity agreements signed with the OTAs - with the potential to push prices below those advertised on Priceline and Expedia.

Key to this push by Google is the bait for hoteliers. They keep the customer lists and transactions and don't have to rely on the existing 'atomic' model managed by OTAs where between 15% and 25% of revenues is taken as commission.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

Read also "Google expected to roll out new “captive demand” platform for hotels"

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Social media is the least popular method of customer service

September 16, 2014

A phone call is still the most popular tool for Americans to use when something goes wrong in their travels, while human-to-human interaction is second most popular, which means old-school still rules in customer service, for all the hype around digital CRMs.

Social media is the least popular, but that could be expected: It is the least mature of all the channels, and still has a long way to grow.

Men like using digital tools for customer service slightly more than women in America. Women like human-to-human interaction more, whether through staff at hotel/airport or through travel agents.

Get the full story at Skift

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The travel tech revolution

September 16, 2014

Innovation in the travel industry has always been closely tied with advancements in platform technology and adoption. For example, as the uptake in smartphones grew, so did e-ticketing, mobile check-in and travel apps. Today, the technology that is currently in its infancy will change the travel experience in the foreseeable future - from where we look to go, how we book, how we get there and even how we experience it.

At the airport Modern technology has made travelling through the airport seamless, it's never been easier. For example, face recognition technology is used at passport control, an app can alert you to delays and your boarding pass is on your smartphone having checked in online. As hologram technology has advanced, some airports have even installed Virtual Assistant Holograms to give directions and instructions to travellers.

As technology continues to develop in the digital age and we carry increasingly less physical documentation, it's plausible to envisage a future where our passports also become digital, electronically stored on our smartphones for example. Although iris recognition technology wasn't at a high enough standard at the end of last year for UK border control, as the technology continues to improve, it could replace the need for a physical passport altogether.

Get the full story at The Huffington Post

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Sabre views hotel tech as ‘under-served and under-invested’

September 16, 2014

Klein describes hospitality as a white space in terms of business potential and an industry which has been ‘under-served and under-invested.’

Currently, about 65% of hospitality revenue comes from North America but the company says it is planning on reversing that as it continues to grow. According to Sabre's research, hotels in general have refresh cycle going on and are not happy with service providers in the space.

He adds that some of the ‘most demanding customers in the space’ - the likes of Mandarin Oriental and Morgans Hotel Group - want to use the technology to change the guest experience.

Get the full story at Tnooz

Read also "Sabre acquires Genares"

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Four tips for your hotel’s mobile strategy

September 16, 2014

Mobile searches drive behavior in the moment, and consumers want speed and convenience; however, a purchase via mobile phone, even with a mobile-optimized site, can be challenging. The relatively limited screen size on mobile devices generally means that users will spend less time and look at fewer pages. Furthermore, the multiple fields normally required to make a purchase and other key factors represent barriers to conversion, especially when planning travel.

This where the phone comes into play. The bottom line is that most hotels are overlooking the most basic information on their mobile sites, the phone number.

Calling to make a purchase is one of the easiest options for a traveler when they are browsing hotels via smartphones. Adding an easy-to-find call button on the home page is a step in the right step in optimizing your mobile site.

Get the full story at Hospitality Magazine

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Leonardo chosen by Qunar, China’s largest travel platform, for hotel visual content

September 16, 2014

As a result of the new agreement, Qunar becomes a direct travel channel in Leonardo’s VNetwork, the most extensive travel website network in the global travel industry comprised of more than 120 direct connect travel websites and tens of thousands of forward distribution channels. With Qunar in the VNetwork, hotels have the opportunity to reach and engage more travelers using this leading travel channel.

Seamless image sourcing and processing
By subscribing to Leonardo’s MediaConnect product, Qunar will gain access to over 1.5 million photos from the global travel industry’s largest hotel media library for over 100,000 GDS listed hotels globally and benefit from the following image sourcing and processing features:

- Delivery of media in multiple formats and sizes along with meta-data including categories and captions.

- Brand and hotel certified content that is updated regularly to ensure accuracy and freshness of content on Qunar’s websites and minimize rogue image issues.

- Media sourcing through advanced XML connectivity based on industry standards from HTNG (Hotel Technology Next Generation) and Open Travel Alliance.

Engaging multi-media display
In addition to increased quality and quantity of hotel images sourced from Leonardo’s hotel media library, Qunar will use Leonardo’s Multi-Media display technology to display multi-media presentations for hotels that subscribe to Leonardo’s VBrochure Online Merchandising System. These hotels benefit from having the visual stories they have created using their VBrochure licenses presented to travel shoppers on Qunar’s sites, resulting in:

- Increased engagement with travel shoppers curated stories with images, rich media and descriptive text displayed in topic based categories.

- Improved relevance and resonance with Qunar’s customers through targeted stories.

- Significant influence on booking decisions with visual content that makes the hotel stand out and communicates its true value.

- Further amplification of stories through social sharing icons prominently displayed for top social media sites.

“We are pleased to help Qunar improve the quality and quantity of hotel visual content on their sites. Adopting our technology to source and display hotel visual content ensures that they are providing the compelling, immersive visual experiences that travel shoppers have come to expect from online travel channels. We anticipate that the enhanced visual experiences on Qunar’s websites will result in increased conversions,” said John McAuliffe, Leonardo’s President.

“Compelling visual media is extremely important to today’s travel shoppers. Connectivity to Leonardo’s hotel media library will ensure that we meet consumer demands for high quality images and richer forms of visual content and maintain our place as a leader in the online travel market in China,” said Zhe Xibo, General Manager of Hotel Business Unit, Qunar.

Related Link: Leonardo

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TravelClick partners with roomlia

September 16, 2014

The partnership will initially provide hotels that are based in New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco, New Orleans, Orange County, Honolulu, San Diego, Seattle and Orlando with a two-way connection via TravelClick Channel Management to provide rates and inventory on the OTA. Roomlia plans to be in all major United States markets by the end of 2014, and as they continue to expand to these new markets, increasingly more hotels will benefit from this connection and leverage the growth of the mobile booking space.

“The signing of roomlia showcases TravelClick’s commitment to ensure that its hotel customers have access to the most expansive selection of OTA connections, as well as have the ability to capitalize on the growing opportunity to generate bookings via mobile technology,” said Guido Salvatori, Director of Global Network Partnerships and Integrations at TravelClick. “Providing hotels with access to roomlia through TravelClick Channel Management will deliver new revenue opportunities for our thousands of hotel customers that rely on us to help manage their OTA booking strategy.”

“As a leader in reservations solutions and channel management, TravelClick is an ideal partner to provide us with the opportunity to expand our reach and enable hotels to easily connect with roomlia,” said Michael Reichartz, Co-Founder at roomlia. “As we continue to expand our geographical footprint, there will be more and more opportunities for TravelClick’s customers to offer inventory through our platform.”

TravelClick Channel Management allows hotels to efficiently manage their rates and inventory, while seamlessly connecting to more than 800 OTAs from one single source.

Related Link: TravelClick

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Small is the new big in luxury travel social media

September 15, 2014

Brand Karma's report finds that it’s the little things that make a big difference to luxury travellers in the Americas. As digital content becomes more concise and marketing become truly personalised, luxury travel marketers must evolve their messages and targeting to profit from the latest digital advances.

With a specific focus on the Americas, the report interprets the collective voice of luxury travellers across the region. By analysing their opinions about 2,000+ leading hotels around the world, Brand Karma discover the preferences and behaviours of current and future generations of luxury travellers, and explain key changes across the global luxury travel landscape. All insights were drawn exclusively from Brand Karma’s research on social media postings left by luxury travellers both in the Americas and globally.

Download the full report at Brand Karma (PDF 2.6 MB)

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Metasearch - threat or opportunity for travel suppliers?

September 15, 2014

Hotel companies should get serious about have a strong presence on metasearch sites. Metasearch use grew by 13% in 2013 and will continue to grow at an unprecedented rate. Advertising by the big ones such as Trivago and TripAdvisor alone could see to that. Kayak is already boasting that it processed over 1.58 billion queries in 2013 and TripAdvisor receives 200 million monthly visits and over 50% of them are already using its relatively new metasearch feature.

It will be a focus of the industry and, similar to hotel developments springing up where demand is, hotel companies will have to be visible where consumers go to buy. But by combining marketing campaigns with real-time hotel inventory and pricing, hoteliers are better placed to meet the travellers’ demand for instant, precise and concise information, as well as respond instantaneously to changing market conditions and comp set behaviour.

That said, the OTA channel will continue to evolve and will remain an important part of the travel distribution eco-system. Hotels will continue to be leverage them as another distribution channel to help boost performance. Too much reliance on any channel, be it OTA, metasearch, etc., is not going to be good.

Get the full story at Triometric

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How to generate real customer loyalty in the travel industry

September 15, 2014

The key to winning in a commodity-based landscape is to offer a contextual experience without increasing marginal overhead or sacrificing brand equity. This sounds simple enough, and in many instances it is. Knowing where a user is going, when they’re leaving, and why they’re traveling is now par for the course. Matching this information with user interests remains difficult.

Here are three ideas we have to help do just that.

- Pay attention to their data. A customer’s data is more readily available today than ever before. Capturing the information you need to know your customer is female, from Beijing, 43 years old, works for a Fortune 500 company and enjoys hiking in her spare time isn’t rocket science — API plugins to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other platforms have made this simple. But overlaying this information onto your preset messaging and up-selling suggestions is challenging. Target’s ability to accurately guess a teen pregnancy is an extreme example. There are many less complex ways to tell your customer that she can hike Mt. Rainer on her day off in Seattle or point her to the top five neighborhood sushi restaurants from Yelp.

Get the full story at Fox Small Business

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The technology difference for independents

September 15, 2014

Using cloud computing, in which systems and programs are shared and stored on off-site servers and accessed through the Internet, provides any property with a complete array of best-in-class computing systems—everything from property management to customer relationship management to point of sales and social media marketing and more—at affordable prices.

At one time, hotel owners had to pay for expensive hardware, software systems, air-conditioned server rooms, maintenance contracts and on-site support personnel. A large convention hotel could amortize the costs over its 1,200 or 1,500 rooms. Installing the same array in a 35-room property was economically unfeasible and, as a result, independents often only had rudimentary technology capabilities.

Now just about everything can be operated from a laptop or two in the property connected to the Internet. No other hardware is required, and the costs are easily justifiable for any size hotel.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Marriott sets sights on younger business travelers

September 15, 2014

Stephanie Linnartz, executive VP and chief marketing and commercial officer, said people who are of Generation X age and younger comprise 70% of the working population and will represent 87% of the workforce by 2024. That growing demographic underscores the importance of ensuring the rooms and hotels added to the portfolio suit the needs of these guests.

For instance, these travelers do not want heavy furniture or abundant closet space in guestrooms. Plenty of electrical outlets also will be on hand to accommodate mobile devices.

“They have been shaped by technology and in part by how the Internet has changed how we all work and live,” Linnartz said, referring to what she calls the “Apple generation.”

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Hotwire and Egencia report reveals half of Americans blend leisure and business travel

September 15, 2014

With the big convention season right around the corner, revealed additional results from its third annual American Travel Behavior Survey, conducted online on its behalf by Harris Poll in October 2013 among over 2,000 U.S. adults.

According to the survey, just under half (49 percent) of full-time/part-time employed American adults who travel for business have ever tacked leisure time onto a work trip, with younger travelers ages 18-34 (56 percent) doing so more than their slightly older counterparts ages 35-44 (37 percent), pointing to a growing trend of blending business and leisure – or "bleisure" – travel.

"You might have to travel for business, but it doesn't mean you have to let much-deserved leisure trips fall by the wayside," said Henrik Kjellberg, president of Hotwire®. "Popular domestic business hubs like Atlanta see a ton of foot traffic during convention season. However, once the corporate groups leave – typically on Thursdays – hoteliers drop their prices for the weekend to try and fill rooms with leisure travelers. As such, you can spend a couple of extra days away to explore or relax in one of these great cities while taking advantage of affordable hotel deals."

Get the full story at Hotwire

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Sabre acquires Genares

September 15, 2014

Genares provides central reservations systems, revenue management and hotel marketing solutions to more than 2,300 independent and chain hotel properties. Effective immediately, Genares employees will join Sabre Hospitality Solutions, a global technology provider to nearly 18,000 hotels in 157 countries worldwide. Sabre's technology is proven to power incremental revenue growth, efficiency and overall profitability for many of the world's leading hospitality brands.

"Genares is well-known in the industry for its commitment to outstanding customer service and vast industry expertise, and that is highly complementary with Sabre," said Alex Alt, president of Sabre Hospitality Solutions. "We look forward to continuing, and building upon, the standard of excellence that Genares has established while helping their customers reach the next level in profitability and growth through our broad portfolio of hospitality solutions."

The acquisition will build on the foundation of Genares's outstanding products and services while introducing Genares customers to a broader suite of products and services to help accelerate their growth.

"Becoming part of Sabre is a terrific evolution for Genares and our customers," said Eugene Harris, CEO of Genares. "Sabre has a track record of helping hotels and chains of all sizes succeed in the marketplace. We are confident that Sabre is the right partner to ensure our customers continue to receive world-class service and best-in-class technology solutions."

Related Link: Sabre Hospitality Solutions

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What is SoMo? And why is it essential for every hotel marketer?

September 15, 2014

What exactly is SoMo? SoMo refers to the convergence of Social Media and Mobile, and generally entails using content (such as photos and videos) taken on mobile devices and shared on social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter and more.

Leonardo's new eBook goes into detail about what SoMo is, how you can use content that is already created to your hotel’s benefit, and some practical tips and examples to get you started (including a seven-day sample calendar filled with content ideas from our contributing author and former hotelier, Mark Hayward).

The eBook will show you:

- What is SoMo and how it can help you drive bookings
- How your hotel benefits from the photos and videos travelers share on social media
- Practical tips to make the most of your existing content and share it across the web
- How to use positive online reviews to improve your hotel’s social media presence

Download the eBook at Leonardo

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How airline marketers encourage direct bookings to compete with OTAs

September 12, 2014

The popularity and influence of online travel agencies (OTAs) among Europe’s consumers is skyrocketing. But their dominance has proved a mixed blessing for hotel operators and airline brands, which find themselves increasingly reliant on OTAs to acquire customers and paying escalating commission fees for the privilege.

OTAs have traditionally been a less important distribution partner for Europe’s airlines. The highly competitive European airline market, led by popular low-cost carriers Ryanair and easyJet, has headed a multiyear effort to encourage direct bookings, a campaign that is now being adopted by Europe’s “flag-carrier” national airlines as well.

Revenues from add-on purchases like baggage allowances are one factor contributing to direct booking on airline sites. Some of Europe’s flag-carriers, including Air France, KLM, British Airways and Swiss, are seeing a marked increase in ancillary revenues due to new bag fees introduced on intra-Europe flights last year. According to a report by airline marketing consultancy IdeaWorksCompany, European carriers earned $12.6 billion in ancillary revenues in 2013, accounting for more than 29% of revenues worldwide and the second-highest total of any region after the US market.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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Hotels seeking corporate rate increases of 6-8% for 2015

September 12, 2014

Projections in part are based on expectations for improving economic conditions in many regions—though perhaps more so in developed markets than emerging ones—and the growing influence on airfares of low-cost carriers.

"Companies will want to travel more, as economic conditions continue to improve in 2015," according to Advito's report. "Yet more than five years after the height of the global recession, businesses remain cautious about spending too much too soon, so travel growth will be modest rather than spectacular."

Though Advito expects North American air capacity in 2015 to increase more than in recent years, it wrote that consolidation continues to push fares higher. "For now, airlines are generally continuing to post low single-digit fare increases for fear of killing off demand," according to the report. "However, once reduced corporate discounts and early closure of low-fare buckets are taken into account, the underlying price paid by business customers is climbing fast."

For next year, Advito forecast regional economy fares to increase 4 percent year over year and regional business fares by 2 percent. For intercontinental routes, it projected 3 percent higher business fares but flat economy fares.

Get the full story at Business Travel News and download the report at Advito

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Ctrip, Qunar go their separate ways

September 12, 2014

The latest reports are relatively straightforward, saying Ctrip decided to remove its hotel listings from Qunar's online travel site because it believed that its rival wasn't behaving as a neutral third party host for such listings anymore. The two companies use very different business models that would have been highly complementary if they had merged.

Ctrip's model is similar to most of its global rivals, where it directly negotiates prices with hotels and then lists those properties on its site and takes a commission for each booking. By comparison, Qunar is simply a third-party operator of a platform where other travel agents can list their prices for hotels. Thus a customer can find a wide range of prices on Qunar's site for a single hotel, and Ctrip was just one of many companies offering its products to the site's customers.

Ctrip is accusing Qunar of giving preferential placement on its site to travel agents that paid additional fees to Qunar directly. I obviously can't verify whether that claim is true since I don't have access to inside information. But the practice is certainly consistent with the business model of Qunar's much larger parent, online search leader Baidu, which is regularly accused of giving preferential placement in its search results to paid advertisers.

Get the full story at Seeking Alpha (free registration) and WebInTravel

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Ebookers launches mobile-focused rewards program

September 12, 2014

The company claims to be the first online travel agent that will allow customers to earn rewards on flights, hotels and packaged trips all in one place, with both business and leisure travellers being rewarded with discounts, bonuses and exclusive added value services.

It says Bonus+ has been designed to be the most mobile-centric rewards programme in the industry, with customers always earning more (5% on hotels and 2% on flights) by booking on the ebookers app.

Company research identified a continued lack of loyalty in the industry as 69% of consumers say they will visit more websites to find the right price and will use more comparison sites (41%) in the next 12 months than ever before to plan their holiday.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Seven luxuries you’ll find in every fancy hotel room

September 12, 2014

With rates that easily top $1,000 per night for the comfiest suites, BloombergBusinessweek takes a look at the bare minimums luxury hoteliers must offer.

1. His and her sinks. The double vanity is standard in tony hotels, as is plenty of square footage to accommodate it. Guests with children often assign a sink to the kids; during a parents-only trip, getting ready for a night on the town won’t be delayed by primping in shifts.

2. An enormous bathtub. This tub won’t just be sizable - it will also be plenty deep to allow for a proper “soaking,” in industry parlance. “Very deep - it’s definitely not something you’re going to have at home,” says Sophie Dier, a spokeswoman for the Mandarin Oriental San Francisco.

3. A TV in the bathroom. It’s smaller than the bedroom television, but many people like to watch TV when they’re in the loo. “It’s less about lounging in the bath and much more to do with watching CNBC while you have a shave or do your makeup,” says Paul James, global brand leader for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (HOT), the parent of St. Regis Hotels.

Get the full story at BloombergBusinessweek

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How smart business travelers use social media

September 12, 2014

If I can make it through an airport without setting off alarms and tripping over my own belt, I consider it a win. Without fail, the chaos that starts at the airport follows me throughout my business trip, as my wallet quickly becomes overloaded with receipts and my laptop bag leaks cables out of each of its 17 pockets. Alas, I am not a graceful business traveler.

And yet, my travels are fruitful, as I've learned a few tricks from the smoothest of business pros on how to use social media to maximize the benefit of going on the road.

Realizing these benefits required a mindset shift: I had to stop viewing social media as a set of one-off tactics and start viewing it as a set of tools that could help me carve out my overall strategy for a given trip. I finally learned that social media can be useful far beyond conference hashtags and LinkedIn contacts.

In this light, it's helpful to consider specific social media uses for each phase of business travel: pre-trip, in transit, on-site and post-trip.

Get the full story at Social Media Today

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Vertical Booking announces North American operations

September 12, 2014

Vertical Booking, a global reservation technology provider serving 2,500 chain and independent hotel clients, has announced its highly anticipated North American expansion. The company will continue its strong international growth strategy in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America. North American operations will be based out of the company’s Portland office, where industry veteran Mark Lewis-Brown serves as President of Vertical Booking USA.

Vertical Booking is an innovative software provider that manages hotel reservations through its central reservation system, channel management tool and multifaceted booking engine. Founded in 1999, Vertical Booking is present in 57 countries, translated into 26 different languages and usable in all currencies, with offices in Italy, France, Brazil, the United Kingdom and now the United States.

With over twenty-five years of hospitality management experience and resilient industry relationships, Lewis-Brown is well positioned to lead Vertical Booking’s expansion in key markets with both chain and independent hotels. Under the direction of Lewis-Brown, Vertical Booking USA has already signed a number of significant clients, including AMResorts, a collection of luxury resort destinations with thirty-five properties. Lewis-Brown debuted Vertical Booking USA at HITEC and the AAHOA annual convention earlier this year.

“I am honored to lead the development of Vertical Booking’s portfolio in North America,” said Lewis-Brown. “Our numerous booking engine options paired with a unique flat-fee pricing model is a refreshing choice for revenue managers, and I’m excited to share it.”

With an anticipated accumulation of a diverse portfolio, Vertical Booking USA is well equipped to support its clients’ growing needs with a newly appointed client services manager and multilingual software. A new website is also expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Related Link: Vertical Booking

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Future of travel marketing - in the age of mobile and wearables

September 12, 2014

Specifically, the presentation discusses the following:

- 2014 is the year of the Connected Traveller – and airlines, airports, hotels need to be prepared for this reality

- There are ample innovations in the mobile space – airports inspiring discovery, airlines facilitating planning, and even an in-flight social network

- How do wearables stack up – learnings from Virgin Atlantic’s Google Glass experiment, and SPG’s Glass app

- What is the focus? Airlines and airports need to think beyond the latest technologies’ sex appeal, and use them as a medium to cater to specific business goals, rather than an end in themselves.

Watch the complete presentation at SimplyFlying

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Planners work with multiple room rates for meetings

September 12, 2014

Traditionally, a meeting planner negotiates one group room rate and that’s that. However, says Dominguez, senior vice president, corporate sales, “while we have typically quoted only flat rates, we know demand and flow of inventory do not work that way.”

If a planner agrees to different room rates for different nights, which average out to a desired rate, the hotel has the flexibility to put discounted rooms out there if needed while not undercutting the planner’s negotiated rate. “This allows the hotel to maximize its inventory, as we traditionally have many more rooms to sell that have no connection to the group blocks,” Dominguez explains. “It helps us with the rate transparency we are all trying to achieve.”

Dominguez already has several meetings under contract with dynamic pricing, which he says works best for “larger groups and groups that are staying multiple nights.”

Source: MeetingsNet

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Omni Hotels & Resorts launches educational program for meeting planners

September 12, 2014

This new offering was introduced at the brand’s first Be Collaborative event of 2014. Be Collaborative is an annual development series offered to meeting planners across the nation. Each year the road-show style events offer new insights on how Omni and their clients can collaborate by embracing each other’s points of views and achieving mutual success.

Through the dynamic new portal, meeting planners will receive first-hand knowledge of the brand, which is made up of Convention, Resort and City Center collections. Each collection is distinct to its local market, and offers planners a variety of venues to meet the objectives of their different meeting or event needs. The portal is also a dynamic platform that will be continuously updated based on Omni’s portfolio updates or unique meeting offerings, current industry trends, and new technology available to planners. OMU will eventually be customized based on planner disciplines for corporate or association planners alike.

“Omni Meetings University is another example of how we collaborate with our partners and it demonstrates our commitment to their professional development,” said Tom Faust, vice president of sales for Omni Hotels & Resorts. “We’ve had great success with our other educational programming initiatives – Be Collaborative events, as well as our other portal tool, Travel Agent University – and want to continue to be able to equip planners with useful and timely information so they can make the best decisions to meet their business goals.”

Each participant who completes the curriculum of OMU will become a certified Omni Meetings Specialist and will receive a “personalized FAM trip” that includes a complimentary night stay at any Omni property to experience the brand and underscore what they learned through OMU. New Omni Meeting Specialists will be automatically upgraded to Platinum level status in Omni’s Select Guest Loyalty Program, and will receive a 5 percent discount on their group’s Master Account for the first meeting contracted after successful completion of the course. Lastly, the Convention Industry Council (CIC) has verified this program for one clock hour of continuing education towards CMP certification or recertification.

Omni collaborated with Encore Event Technologies to develop OMU to provide educational course material for meeting planners to utilize Encore’s technology to enhance their meeting or event. Encore also is working with Omni to provide planners information on the next generation of event technology trends.

“Encore is the leading provider of unique, creative and technically innovative in-house audiovisual services for hotels, conference centers and resorts. We have a longstanding relationship with Omni, and look forward to what we can provide planners through Omni Meetings University,” said David Smith, vice president of strategic accounts for Encore. “The forward thinking inherent in the Omni organization, combined with the creative event technology style of Encore, will provide customers a platform for a truly spectacular experience.”

Related Link: Omni Meetings University

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UK travel agents on par with OTAs during path to purchase

September 11, 2014

A new study from Expedia® Media Solutions, the advertising sales division of global online travel leader Expedia, Inc., reveals that while online content consumption spikes during the vacation package planning and booking phases across both U.K. and U.S. consumers, the groups have very distinct internet usage habits. Planning and review sites are recognized in the study as leading travel resources for U.K. consumers, as well as the dominance of retail in online content consumption.

The Traveler’s Path to Purchase study, commissioned by Expedia Media Solutions and conducted by Millward Brown, examined the 45-day period leading up to a vacation package booking and identifies online consumption habits of the average U.K. vacation package booker who had visited an online travel agency (OTA) or Travel Agent and a destination marketing organization (DMO). Key trends from the study include:

- Content Consumption Spikes During Purchase Path: According to the findings, U.K. consumers, on average, made 35 visits to travel sites prior to booking and as consumers approached the package booking date, overall travel content consumption increased. Travel site visits steadily increased during the booking process with 4.3 visits at three and four weeks out, six visits at one week out and more than 13 visits during week of booking.

- OTAs Lead the Pack: The study found that during the U.K. path to purchase, OTAs are the most visited travel sites, accounting for 28 percent of visits, followed closely by travel agents at nearly 27 percent. In the U.S., 47 percent of travel site visits were attributed to OTAs. Both site types were heavily visited in the 45 days prior to booking, and on average, U.K. package bookers visited OTAs 4.1 times in the week leading up to the booking, 43 percent of which occurred on the same day. In the U.K., DMO sites accounted for 3.7 percent of all travel site visits, compared to 6.4 percent in the U.S., illustrating a potential opportunity for DMOs to partner with OTAs and travel agents to increase consumer awareness.

- Planning takes Precedence in the U.K.: The study reveals that planning and review sites play a stronger role in the U.K. than in the U.S. throughout the entire path to purchase. More than 19 percent of U.K. site visits were attributed to planning and review sites, compared to 6.8 percent in the U.S. and when looking at U.K. travel content consumption at least one week out from booking, these sites are frequented almost as much as OTA and travel agent sites.

- Retail Sites in High Demand During the Vacation Booking Process: In the 45 days leading up to a package booking, U.K. consumers visited non-travel sites more frequently than their U.S. counterparts, with non-travel sites generating 57 percent more demand than travel sites. On average, U.K. consumers visited retail sites 56 times during the booking period, eclipsing the 37 retail site visits in the U.S., while travel sites accounted for 35 visits, followed closely by news and media at 32 visits. However, in the days leading up to booking for U.K. consumers, travel consumption spiked dramatically, accounting for 38 percent of site visits, while retail site visitation declined.

“The online landscape in the U.K. differs dramatically from what we see in the U.S., and this study identifies areas of opportunity for our partners to reach consumers in a highly fragmented travel market,” said Noah Tratt, global senior vice president, Expedia Media Solutions. “The findings serve as additional knowledge that will inform our creative partnership strategy and overall user experience.”

Download the complate report at Expedia Media Solutions

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Affluent American travelers prefer travel agents over OTAs

September 11, 2014

Affluent Americans will be a key driver of the continued growth of the U.S. travel industry in the year ahead. They plan to take significantly more trips in the coming year than last year and are interested in visiting a wide range of destinations across the globe, according to the just-released 2014 Portrait of Affluent Travelers™, authored by travel and hospitality marketing communications firm, MMGY Global. The report is a national survey of the travel habits, preference and intentions of 1,250 active travelers with an annual household income of $125,000 or more.

Twenty percent of affluent travelers plan to take more vacations in the year ahead. The Hawaiian Neighbor Islands, national parks and Honolulu are the top domestic destinations they would like to visit. In Europe, Italy, England and France are the preferred choices for the coming year. The Caribbean remains popular, too, especially the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. Other top choices among affluent travelers for the year ahead include South America and the emerging destinations of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

Inspiration for travel comes from a variety of sources, with survey respondents citing friends and family as the source consulted most when considering destination and experience options. Affluent travelers also prefer visiting travel service providers’ websites to those of online travel agencies, with nearly 50 percent agreeing these sites offer greater convenience and the best prices of note. While travel service provider websites are popular, 20 percent of affluent travelers now rely on a travel professional to arrange their trips.

In another noteworthy finding, 50 percent of respondents said they are willing to pay more for the very best quality hotel/resort accommodations, while approximately 30 percent would pay more for luxury cruise cabins or an upgraded class of service on a flight.

“Affluent travelers are willing to spend more on enhanced travel experiences,” said Steve Cohen, vice president, Insights and Research, MMGY Global. “This translates into a wonderful opportunity for travel and hospitality brands to engage – both online and in real time – with this attractive market segment. And ‘better’ and ‘personalized’ are key words to keep in mind when marketing travel services to this group.”

Below are additional highlights from MMGY’s 2014 Portrait of Affluent Travelers™.

How Affluent Americans Travel

- More Trips: Travelers who earn $250,000 or more annually took an average of 6.2 leisure trips in 2013, significantly more than the 4.7 vacations taken by those with an annual household income between $125,000 – $249,999. Both groups expect to take more trips in the year ahead: a net nine percent increase for those in households with an annual income in excess of $250,000, and four percent more for individuals in households with an income between $125,000 - $249,999 annually.

- Relaxation and New Experiences Are a Priority: Affluent travelers cite relaxation and enrichment as the most desirable attributes when they travel:

    75 percent cite the desire to have enough time to relax and unwind
    64 percent want to explore new cities and attractions
    59 percent wish to experience different cultures
    54 percent want to enhance their relationships

- Top US. Destinations: During the next two years, half of affluent travelers are interested in visiting (in descending order of preference): the Hawaiian Neighbor Islands (63 percent), national parks throughout the country (61 percent), Honolulu (55 percent), New York City (52 percent), San Francisco (51 percent), Florida Keys (49 percent) and Napa Valley (47 percent).

- Top European Destinations: Sixty percent of affluent travelers are interested in travel to Europe during the next two years. The countries that rise to the top of this list include Italy (41 percent), England (40 percent) and France (38 percent).

- Top Caribbean Destinations: Fifty percent of affluent travelers are interested in visiting the Caribbean, specifically the U.S. Virgin Islands (27 percent); the Bahamas (25 percent); and the Cayman Islands, St. Maarten and Aruba (each at 23 percent).

- Emerging Destinations: More than thirty percent of affluent travelers are interested in visiting Oceana, especially Australia (32 percent), New Zealand (29 percent) and Fiji (18 percent). Twenty five percent would like to visit South America and Mexico.

Affluents are Plugged In: Use of Internet and Digital Devices

- Travel Agents vs OTAs: In a noteworthy departure from the trend observed among all leisure travelers, affluent travelers prefer travel service providers’ websites to online travel agencies (OTAs). Fifty percent of this group believes that travel service providers’ websites offer the greatest convenience and the best prices. While 60 percent of affluent travelers visit OTAs on a regular basis to get prices and information, only 30 percent actually use these sites to book travel. Nearly 25 percent turn to travel service provider websites, while almost 20 percent books directly with a travel service provider over the phone.

Twenty-five percent of affluent travelers plan to use the services of a traditional travel agent during the next two years, up from 20 percent last year. Among those who plan to work with travel agents, 80 percent will do so because of the agent’s ability to provide an extra level of service when things go wrong, their knowledge of destinations and travel service providers, or their ability to take the hassle out of booking travel.

- Online Ratings/Reviews Matter: More than 30 percent of affluent travelers visited an online community, travel forum or blog during the past 12 months to seek or review information about a destination or travel service provider. Among them, 75 percent prefer to read individual reviews rather than rely on a rating alone butwill not consider hotels or restaurants with low online quality ratings. Nearly 60 percent generally believe the ratings they see online, while more than 50 percent are suspicious of overtly positive reviews. Twenty percent trust online reviews more than the opinions of their friends and family.

Survey Methodology

The information presented in The MMGY Global 2014 Portrait of Affluent Travelers™ was obtained from interviews conducted with 1,250 leisure travelers in February 2014. Respondents were adults living in the United States with an annual household income of $125,000 or more, including half with an annual household income in excess of $250,000. Each respondent also had taken at least one leisure trip of 75 miles or more from home requiring overnight accommodations during the previous 12 months. The sample was balanced by statistical weighting to ensure the data are representative of all active leisure travelers in America who meet the target profile.

Related Link: MMGY Global Research

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Why hotels are losing last-minute battle to booking sites

September 11, 2014

online travel agencies and metasearch sites, for that matter, have a built-in advantage. They let consumers compare prices and see what’s available in the market while a hotel can only show its own rooms.

Another factor is that large online travel agencies like Priceline, Expedia and Orbitz are relatively massive marketing machines, and they tout their mobile-only and special, last-minute deals in a variety of ways.

Hotels don’t have the marketing resources to keep up - and the numbers show it.

Get the full story at Skift and PhoCusWright

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Are Airbnb and hotels the same?

September 11, 2014

Chesky started off comparing Airbnb to eBay, saying the travel booking service was “like the eBay of space in the early days.” He then went on to admit to moderator Ryan Lawler that Airbnb was like a hotel until it wasn’t convenient for it to be one, “The big misnomer about hotels is that they own hotels. Their model isn’t that different from ours. Hotels are basically like a franchisee - we are but more decentralized.”

Chesky then said that Airbnb also wasn’t like a hotel because it was in the trip business. “We had to ask ourselves a couple of years ago we’re not in the business of homes, we’re not in the business of space, we’re in the business of trips,” Chesky told the audience. “But you’re not a hotel?” Lawler asked him. “Not a hotel,” affirmed Chesky.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

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8 ways that iOS 8 will change mobile engagement

September 11, 2014

While Apple is technically following Android’s lead in supporting button-enabled push notifications and widgets, the anticipated pace of adoption for iOS 8 means that users across the world will soon have these capabilities in their hands.

Even more important, support across all the major mobile platforms for this new push notification format and widget experience makes it the new “normal.” Action buttons and widgets deliver effortless experiences to the most visible areas of any mobile device – the lock screen and Notification Center.

Here are eight fundamental ways iOS 8 will transform mobile engagement.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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Google Analytics begins to roll out new benchmark reports

September 11, 2014

According to the announcement, users can select reports from among 1,600 industry categories, 1,250 markets and seven size-buckets, with metrics by channel, location, or device category dimensions. Along with benchmark data, the reports also include a heat map feature to identify any areas where more time or resources could be applied for better results.

Vacation rental company claimed the Google Analytics benchmark reports helped the company vastly improve its email marketing efforts.

“It was clear we were missing a huge opportunity in email marketing,” said Ross Twiddy, the company’s CMO. Google claimed the vacation rental company used the new reports to evaluate data-points that impacted conversion rates.

Get the full story at Search Engine Land and the complete Twiddy case study at the Google Analytics Blog

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3 things travelers want to see on your hotel website

September 11, 2014

Big, Rich Visuals

The days of websites being mostly text, with a few pictures here and there, are long gone. Today, travel shoppers want compelling visuals. Studies show that 55% of travelers list photos as helpful content when looking for trip ideas and 81% of online travel bookers consult videos before deciding to purchase a product!

Ensuring you have a wide array of rich visuals – photos, videos, and virtual tours – in the hotel story you’re telling online can help travel shoppers make their final decision.

Share The Experience

These days, what’s around your hotel is just as important as what is inside it. If you’re not showcasing your hotel’s unique local attractions, you’re missing out on telling a key part of your story. After all, which traveler visits and stays in their hotel room all day?

Travelers are now looking for more of an experience and connection with their vacation’s surrounding area. They want to learn the history, the culture, and all the fun stuff too!

Get the full story at Leonardo

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SmartDepart partners with TrustYou to launch its hotel decision engine

September 11, 2014

TrustYou, the inventor of the Meta-Review and global online reputation management leader, has partnered with newly launched hotel decision engine, SmartDepart to offer travelers a better way to book their hotels.

SmartDepart gives travelers a full overview of hotel prices as well as aggregated review summaries and TrustScores from TrustYou’s Meta-Reviews. Travelers can then easily compare hotels and even receive hotel recommendations based on these details.

“If you look at the current landscape of hotel booking sites, most do a great job at helping you find the best price, but very little to actually help you decide which hotel is best for you. We are excited to be working with TrustYou to provide travelers with valuable data from verified reviews to help make booking decisions easier,” said Matt Yagey, Founder & CEO of SmartDepart.

TrustYou’s Meta-Review allow partners access to semantic analysis of verified hotel reviews from travel sites worldwide, creating text summaries available in 26 languages. Depending on how a TrustYou partner chooses to display hotel details, travelers may see everything from an all-encompassing TrustScore, based on the overall experience of travelers worldwide to ratings for specific details of the stay (i.e., 81% of reviewers found the staff to be very friendly).

“Travelers need a simple and quick way to analyze prices and reviews for hotels all in one place. SmartDepart is revolutionizing the search-shop-buy process by bringing together all of this information for travelers, said Ellis Connolly, EVP of Sales at TrustYou. “We are excited about this partnership because SmartDepart shares TrustYou’s mission of positively influencing traveler’s decisions.”

Related Link: TrustYou

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Ctrip removes hotel products from Qunar

September 11, 2014

As described by Ctrip, Qunar has cooperated with several travel agencies to give preferential placement of hotel listings at the top of the Qunar site to said agencies. The customer service hotline provided by many of these top listings is in fact Qunar's own customer service hotline, implying that Qunar is now giving priority placement to its own listings and is no longer acting as a neutral listings platform.

Ctrip believes that Qunar's decision to merge its total solutions (TTS) system, through which users directly complete transactions from third-party providers on the Qunar site, with its own online travel agency (OTA) business, constitutes unfair competition, spurring Ctrip's decision to remove its travel products.

Get the full story at China Internet News

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As travelers spend, hotel industry builds

September 10, 2014

Marriott told The Wall Street Journal that it expects to open more than six hotels a week on average through 2017, bringing its portfolio to 5,000 hotels in 100 countries.

"This is a great time to be in the hotel business," said Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson. "Around the world, this is a golden age of travel. In North America, we believe we are only midway through an elongated lodging cycle, with considerable upside to come."

Much of Marriott's growth will be international, as hotel construction in the U.S. is still not back to the level it was pre-2008. Internationally, Marriott expects to double its portfolio in its second largest division, Asia Pacific, by 2017, The Wall Street Journal reports. In the Middle East and Africa, Marriott expects to grow its portfolio to more than 31,000 rooms by 2017 on a 24-percent to 26-percent compound growth rate from 2013.

Get the full story at Hotel Management

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Russia wants domestic alternative to

September 10, 2014

The tourism agency and the Communications and Press Ministry are to jointly draft and present the an outline of the project next year, the paper said.

State companies Rostelecom and Rostec were cited as saying they were interested in the project, which could cost around $50 million to develop over four years, according to Kommersant.

Domestic tourism reached 32 million travelers in Russia last year, compared to 18 million who traveled abroad, according to the Federal Tourism Agency.

Get the full story at The Moscow Times

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Metasearch makes mark on Australia’s online travel landscape

September 10, 2014

The use of the search facility, which draws results from a number of online sources, has seen strong growth in places such as the US and Europe, with Australia lagging a little way behind.

Australia-based has been in operation since 2005, with its creation of an "all-encompassing" site offering rates from a range of travel sites in a centralised location.

But the last two years have seen the arrival of UK flight search engine Skyscanner, US rival Kayak and Germany’s hotel-focused Trivago, with all confident the Australian market is ready for the influx.

Skyscanner’s marketing manager ANZ Dave Boyte underlined impressive growth of 93% in its number of unique monthly visitors in the last year.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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ARPAR, yet another RevPAR metrics replacement

September 10, 2014

RevPAR is not the most perfect index for measuring a hotel's actual productivity (or, the Revenue Management and pricing strategy, to be exact), regardless of the widely spread opinion in the hotel industry. This statistic does not objectively reflect the performance (and profitability) of your hotel, due to the following:

- It does not take CPOR into account (costs per occupied room). You can't tell what optimal occupancy you need to reach by only looking at your RevPAR.

- It does not take into consideration any additional income a hotel may have from other revenue-generating departments (restaurants, meeting space, banquet rooms, casinos, parking, spa, etc.)

Get the full sory at Hospitality.Net

Read also "Beyond RevPAR: New revenue metrics take acquisition costs into account"

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Healthy vending machine debuts at Marriott

September 10, 2014

The working prototype debuts in the lobby of the Chicago Marriott O'Hare, offering travelers healthy food options available all day and night during their journey.

In looking to bring Anjana's idea to life, Marriott Hotels reached out to Chicago start-up Farmer's Fridge, which has taken an innovative approach to making healthy, delicious food easier to access. The company's kiosk, one of 12 in Chicago area, will be located in the Chicago Marriott O'Hare for the next five months for testing with guests. Items curated and prepared daily by Farmer's Fridge will be offered for sale in distinctive packaging, ranging in price from $3 to $12 dollars and include:

- Farmers Fridge DetailsThe Detox Salad (also known as the Junk Food Eraser) made with organic Kale and Quinoa with fennel, fruits and beans served in white balsamic vinaigrette.

- Greek Yogurt and Berries (also known as Breakfast of the Gods) made with low-fat Greek Yogurt, berries and locally sourced honey.

- Lemon Pepper Chicken made with chicken breast from chickens that have been humanely raised without antibiotics, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper.

"Listening and responding to customer needs is a hallmark for Marriott Hotels. We are committed to introducing the most innovative ideas our guests and influencers have been submitting to as part of the brand's journey to co-create the future of travel," said Michael Dail, vice president, Marriott Hotels Marketing. "Anjana's idea inspired us, and thanks to Farmer's Fridge, guests can now begin enjoying healthy food whenever they want it. Coming soon, Marriott Hotels will launch even more co-created travel ideas submitted to by guests."

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Mobile shopping officially trumps desktop

September 10, 2014

Since consumers are more likely than ever to make a purchase via mobile devices, retailers and brands prepping for the 2014 holiday season are likely to route their strategies accordingly. As the anticipated launch of iOS 8 is right around the corner, retailers should expect a prevalent use in this department as virtual gift giving continues to replace its physical counterpart.

“This month is the first time that online retail has become pervasively mobile in terms of visitors, which makes it more prevalent than traditional desktop and laptops,” said Chris Mason, co-founder and CEO at Branding Brand, Pittsburgh. “It’s been building to that point for years, and now that intersection as occurred.”

In 2010, 96 percent of online retail browsing was done on desktops while only 4 percent took place via mobile devices. Today, those numbers have collided and continue to move in opposite directions, with 51 percent of retail visits occurring via mobile.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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Hilton on how to deliver purposeful innovation and digital good will

September 10, 2014

Joshua Sloser gets a kick out of the rapidly evolving pace of technology, but cannot deny sometimes he is kept awake at night. In the fast-growing mobile environment, this is a particular challenge and sometimes you need to dream about new innovations in order to keep up.

After all, you may have mastered and invested in a certain strategy centered on a particular platform, and then the platform may change, or the medium becomes unavailable. “It can be difficult to constantly switch strategies and find success with the rapid pace of change,” admits Sloser.

Still what Hilton doesn’t do is temporarily patch a guest’s digital desires with commonplace technology. “That may seem like a small distinction, but it helps keep our strategy more stable in a very dynamic technology environment,” he says.

Get the full story at EyeForTravel

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RateGain introduces a new approach to price optimisation at Dubai event

September 10, 2014

RateGain’s Hotel Revenue Summit provides an open platform for hoteliers to discuss the latest developments and trends in the industry. In the Dubai meeting the practical and measurable results of taking a systematic approach to pricing optimisation were considered together with discussion of RateGain’s latest innovations to help revenue managers. Alongside the presentations there was an opportunity for attendees to network with their peers.

“This was another hugely successful event for RateGain. We are delighted that so many of our customers were able to join us and we would like to thank them for their participation. RateGain’s unified solutions are essential tools for hotels in Dubai’s dynamic market. Through events like this we are able to bring a wide cross-section of the industry together to discuss emerging trends and our latest innovations.” said Bhanu Chopra, Founder & CEO, RateGain.

The hospitality industry was well represented at the event, companies attending included Madinat Jumeirah Group, Millennium and Copthorne, Ritz-Carlton, Fortune Group of Hotels and Hyatt Regency.

Related Link: RateGain

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Beyond RevPAR: New revenue metrics take acquisition costs into account

September 09, 2014

The challenge for revenue managers is that their traditional target metric, revenue per available room (RevPAR), does not take acquisition costs into account. Metrics that would come closer are ProPAR, or profit per available room, or Net RevPAR, which is Revenue minus (commissions plus total sales and marketing) divided by available rooms. To get even more granular, there is also ProPOR, or profit per occupied room.

With industry observers calling for new revenue metrics that take acquisition costs into account, could we finally be entering the era where planners can say they actually do get better rates by going direct and cutting out commissionable middlemen?

It’s possible, considering how high and fast commission spending has risen. One hospitality executive quoted in the Hotels article - Scott Dahl, vice president of technology at Hersha Hospitality Management - goes so far as to say it’s “sort of a joke” that the RevPAR metric “treats a room we sell directly to a customer and one sold through an intermediary with a 20 percent margin, each at the same price, as having the same value.”

Get the full story at MeetingsNet and Hotels magazine (electronic edition)

Read also "The rising costs of hotel guest acquisition"

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Record occupancy should push hotel pricing power

September 09, 2014

“Demand is continuing to outperform even our strong estimate of demand this year. … Our model is reacting to that,” said Jamie Lane, senior economist at PKF-HR. “We’re expecting occupancy to finish 2014 at 64.4%. That’s not an acceleration of demand; it’s really a continuing of what we’ve seen so far in 2014. We think that number’s going to be very easily attainable. Just a slight increase of occupancy next year (of 0.9%) gets us to record levels.”

STR, by comparison, is forecasting occupancy to finish 2015 at 64.2%. “We’re not as bullish,” said Jan Freitag, the data company’s senior VP of strategic development.

“We think that will translate into pricing power as scarcity really comes into the market,” Lane said. “We’ve started to see those prices and (average daily rates) start to increase quite dramatically in a lot of the markets that have either reached their previous peak occupancy level or are close to.” PKF-HR is forecasting ADR growth of 4.5% by year end and 5.7% during 2015. STR’s forecast calls for rate gains of 4.2% and 4.4% during 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Business travelers opt for homes on the road

September 09, 2014

Peter Dauterman appreciates a fine hotel.

But on recent business trips, Dauterman, a partner with Pegasus Funds in Dallas, has bypassed a hotel room and opted for a private residence instead.

"There's not a good equivalent in the hotel world ... You're always compromising,'' says Dauterman, who in December met with a client in the privacy of an apartment less than two blocks from Buckingham Palace. "If you really want to stay first class, and you really want some space to stretch out, I haven't seen anything that would compare to this.''

"When you stay in the comfort of a home, you only have to do it once to realize you don't want to be in a hotel again,'' says Cathy Ross, chief operating officer of Exclusive Resorts, which owns luxury vacation homes around the world including the London apartment where Dauterman stayed last year. "You can sit on the couch with your laptop on your lap, and you have a refrigerator stocked with healthy food. More and more people are trying it and as they try it, it's hard to go back.''

Get the full story at USA Today

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The Ritz-Carlton debuts first social film series

September 09, 2014

The sneak previews of the series will be available this week and shown exclusively on Ritz-Carlton's social channels. On Friday, September 12, the company will unveil the entire video on The Ritz-Carlton Reserve Tumblr page.

"We have the most engaged audience of Ritz-Carlton fans and followers across social media channels that any brand could ever wish for. There for, it is a pleasure to have created something truly unique and tailored for this valuable group," said Ed French, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer for The Ritz-Carlton. "At a Ritz-Carlton Reserve the service philosophy has been carefully crafted to help individual guests unlock the secrets of individual places. It is a philosophy that successfully reveals the personality of each unique location to create unforgettable experiences. The video series has been designed to take our social media audience on a journey around these beautiful destinations."

Related Link: A Ritz-Carlton Reserve Adventure on Facebook

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Where on Google SERPs do searchers look and click the most?

September 09, 2014

The key takeaways of the report:

- PPC or sponsored listings have continued to gain visibility and clicks regardless of the different SERPs and therefore can be a worthy investment when there is fierce competition for the top organic spot.

- Utilizing schema markup to enhance your organic search listings can bring more traffic to your site.

- Optimizing your Google+ Local or Google My Business page can improve your visibility in the Local Listings

- Organic positions 1-4 bring valuable traffic, below these positions the traffic is not dependable

- Avoid the right rail, if possible, with your Adwords campaign

- Knowing your ideal prospect well is critical

Get the full story at Capture Commerce and download the study at Mediative (free registration)

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Larger iPhones respond to phablet mania, will further push mobile travel

September 09, 2014

At today's Apple show there will be several hardware announcements. Among them we’ll probably hear about two new iPhones: 4.7-inch and possibly 5.5-inch models that seek to satisfy the consumer appetite for larger and larger screen sizes.

Phablet owners are some of the most engaged users in the market. According to Flurry, “Phablets command a disproportionate share of app activity. While they account for only 6 percent of active users, Phablet users account for 11 percent of all app sessions. This is up from only 3 percent of sessions in 2013.”

Larger screens has been one of the areas of competition and attempted differentiation among Android makers. Accordingly there has been what might be called a “size race.” Phablets now represent about 18 percent of active Android devices vs. only 7 percent in 2013.

Get the full story at Marketing Land

Read also "‘Phablets’ will lead to explosion in mobile travel bookings"

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TripAdvisor appoints new director of industry relations

September 09, 2014

She has worked for NORTHSTAR Travel Media, Hot Recruit, Euro London, VisitBritain, Tumlare and joined TripAdvisor in 2008.

"Helena is taking on the newly created role of director, industry relations and brings a wealth of travel and tourism sector experience to the team," said Marc Charron, President, TripAdvisor for Business.

TripAdvisor for Business was launched in 2010, to listen to, communicate with and better serve the hospitality sector and travel industry. It has seen rapid growth in both paid products, such as Business Listings and TripConnect, and free marketing tools.

Related Link: TripAdvisor for Business

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SiteMinder integrates Tourico Holidays’ global inventory, continues diversifying distribution

September 09, 2014

The wholesaler has connected with SiteMinder's RDX platform, which offers a rapid two-way, real-time XML connection between leading booking channels, property management systems and central reservation systems worldwide. More than 60 channel management solutions are today powered by the platform, including SiteMinder's own offering, The Channel Manager.

"Tourico Holidays is thrilled to be partnering with SiteMinder, a company whose market-leading, scalable technology and rapid expansion globally align perfectly with our own growth plans as a business," says Uri Argov, CEO of Tourico Holidays.

"Tourico Holidays is in the midst of an aggressive 12-month plan to streamline the distribution of its core offerings – including hotels, flights, cruises, vacation homes, car rentals, activities and group travel. As a part of this plan, we made the decision to invest significantly in our hotel connectivity technology and this initiative, among others, has been a key driver of the 42% growth we have experienced this year to date."

Since its establishment 20 years ago, Tourico Holidays has grown into a billion-dollar company that today has more than 150 international distribution websites that feature 36,000 hotel and accommodation partners in 4,500 destinations – as well as more than 15,000 vacation homes. The company's main booking website,, receives 90 million searches a day and boasts a response time of just five milliseconds.

Over the first quarter of 2014, Tourico Holidays cited a sharp increase in demand from its hotel customers – including a 29% surge in bookings and 25% rise in room nights – as a contributing factor to its 27% top line revenue growth.

Dai Williams, SVP Sales Global at SiteMinder, says the partnership is an intrinsic component of the company's diversified distribution offering: "Tourico Holidays has identified that to continue its strong growth trajectory, robust technology integrations are essential in the modern travel landscape and SiteMinder is excited to be a part of its journey. The company is at the forefront of travel wholesale which remains a major contributor to the travel distribution space."

Related Link: SiteMinder

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September 08, 2014

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Google expected to roll out new “captive demand” platform for hotels

September 08, 2014

Through this new travel initiative, Google would afford suppliers and brands a method in which to make “Limited Offers” (via Suppliers / Wholesalers) and, more importantly, expects to roll out a new “captive demand” platform in partnership with the major brands which stands to integrate loyalty / reward information into a logged-in Hotel Finder travel search experience, likely leveling the Search playing field in travel like we have never seen before.

Moreover, through API integrations that tie booking activity to Maps, Wallet and Now, which are increasingly recommended / required as part of Google’s Hotel Ads, linked itineraries, travel directions, and even check-in / check-out are becoming user features as well.

As an example, a search for SF Hotels revealed a 30% discount in Hotel Finder for the W Hotel SF compared to OTA and Meta sites where BAR (Best Available Rate) is observed, meaning that searching through Google’s Hotel Finder experience could result in a 30% price reduction for users versus what they could expect to pay at the same hotel through available OTA / Meta sources.

How it works: A wholesaler (e.g.,,, GTA Travel or MetGlobal) is hired by the supplier (W Hotel SF) to boost occupancy through a promotions- based approach. In this specific example, our research discovered that the agreement occurred between W Hotel SF and (the wholesaler).

Get the full story at Evercore Equity Reserach (PDF 3.8 MB)

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Travel agents are making a comeback

September 08, 2014

Travel agents say revenues, bookings and the total number of clients are up in the first half of 2014 compared with the same period last year, according to a survey by the American Society of Travel Agents, which represents nearly 6,000 travel agents across the country.

Of the agents questioned in the survey, 47% reported higher revenue, with 27% saying revenue has remained about the same as last year. Also, 45% reported more transactions this year, with 30% saying business has been about the same.

The surge in business for travel agents may be a sign that Americans—encouraged by an improved economy and higher home values—are turning to travel agents to plan more intricate vacations, according to travel agents.

“You book an airline seat or a hotel online,” said Jay Johnson, owner of Coastline Travel Advisors in Garden Grove. “But if you want to do something more exotic like go to Buton in Indonesia, you want to talk to an expert.”

Get the full story at the Los Angeles Times

Read also "Survey says: More affluent travelers plan to use travel agents" at Travel Pulse

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Good prospects for tourism in Europe

September 08, 2014

The study examined the market impact of foreign tourists in Europe from various European and non-European source markets.

Nearly 50 per cent of all international arrivals in Europe came from only eight countries in 2013. As in previous years Germany was the largest source market, contributing to 14 per cent of all international arrivals in Europe, ahead of the UK (nine per cent). With a market share of six per cent, Russia is the third largest source of international arrivals. In view of the current political situation however, it remains to be seen whether it will retain that position in 2014. France occupied fourth spot, ahead of the Netherlands and of sixth-placed Italy. Bearing in mind its comparatively small population, the Dutch contribution to the market for international arrivals is remarkable. The seventh position sees the first extra-European market, the USA, whose share of international arrivals grew substantially in 2013.

Within the individual source markets there are marked differences in growth. Russia, up by 13% in 2013 compared to the previous year, is a much more dynamic market than other intra-regional markets. The UK and German markets generate large volumes of international arrivals, but reported a comparatively modest growth. These markets are forecast to remain big players until 2016. Last year arrivals from Germany, the largest source market, rose by only 1.5 per cent. In the medium and long term the Chinese market is also expected to expand. In 2013 China’s share of international arrivals in Europe was only 1.3 per cent. However, its market grew by 23 per cent.

The study forecasts that from 2013 to 2016 international arrivals to Europe will grow by some 3.8 per cent. Besides Germany and the UK, the USA is also likely to play an important role. Around 27 per cent of all foreign visitors are forecast to come from these three countries.

The study also revealed noticeable differences between northern and southern Europe. Whereas western European countries are visited mainly by tourists from the same source markets, northern Europe countries can expect to receive more travellers from the USA. Over the next few years the majority of visitors to southern Europe are forecast to come from the UK, Germany and France.

According to Dr. Martin Buck, director of Travel & Logistics at Messe Berlin: “Europe’s success as a travel destination is set to continue. It is an attractive destination that fascinates Europeans and overseas visitors alike. However, Russia’s role on the European market for international arrivals will depend on future political developments.”

Mr Peter De Wilde, President of the European Travel Commission, added: “Championing tourism growth from overseas markets requires a co-ordinated branding programme that truly reflects Europe’s core values and strengths.”

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Qunar: Taking market share in the Chinese travel market

September 08, 2014

The emergence of high speed mobile networks and phablets increasingly provides the middle class in China with online access that didn't exist in previous years.

Qunar calls itself the leading search-based commerce platform for the travel industry in China. It is in heavy competition with Ctrip amongst others in the fast growing switch by Chinese consumers to make travel reservations online and more importantly via the latest mobile gadgets. With the recent $500 million investment by Priceline Group in Ctrip, Qunar faces stiff competition despite its strong bloodlines via the largest shareholder of Baidu. The company is quickly taking market share via heavy spending on marketing and development expenses to build out the platform. With the stock trading flat for the first year of its public life, now might be the time for investors to start learning more about the company and the large investment opportunity.

For Q214, Qunar produced growth that would be mind-boggling to most companies if it wasn't from China. The online travel firm provided the following highlights: Total revenues grew 127.3% YoY to reach $64.5 million and mobile revenue grew 511.8% YoY to reach $22.9 million for 35.5% of total revenues.

Get the full story at Seeking Alpha (free registration)

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How to fight against TripAdvisor blackmail

September 08, 2014

While there is little data to indicate how widespread the problem is, TripAdvisor and many hotel operators and companies are prepared to combat this kind of blackmail.

“Hotels need to accept that a small unscrupulous segment of travelers may use their social media clout to demand unreasonable concessions,” said Daniel Edward Craig, founder of online reputation management consulting firm Reknown. “Review threats can put staff in an extremely difficult position. They don’t want to cave in to unreasonable demands, but they also don’t want to be blamed for a bad review.”

Hoteliers at times might confuse a threat of a bad review with a basic service issue, said Adele Gutman, VP of sales, marketing and revenue for New York City-based Library Hotel Collection.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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The end of ownership: The zero-marginal-cost economy

September 08, 2014

Within service industries like hospitality and transportation, new entrants are succeeding not by optimizing production, but by eliminating production cost altogether.

Consider Uber vs. traditional taxi companies. For a traditional taxi company to add another taxi to its fleet, a car and licence need to be acquired at significant cost. Instead of shouldering that setup cost, Uber can add another taxi to its inventory at almost no cost by enabling people to share their existing cars, all coordinated via the internet.

Airbnb does the same for renting properties vs. acquiring more physical space. The fact that both these companies have near zero-marginal-cost production is threatening longstanding business and regulatory models alike.

Get the full story at The Next Web

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Hotelbeds strengthens its position in Japan

September 08, 2014

Investments focussed on adapting its Japanese product portfolio and content to better meet the needs of a diverse client base have provided strong returns. In addition, the localisation of Hotelbeds' online platforms and XML tools into Japanese, together with call centres offering local language assistance, have been important drivers of this growth.

Hotelbeds focus on adapting to each local market is delivering similar rewards across the rest of the Middle East and Asia Pacific (MEAPAC), the company's largest geographical region. Among the many different markets, Hotelbeds efforts in Indonesia are particularly noteworthy with its product portfolio now more accessible than ever to local agents through the localisation of all online platforms and contents into Bahasa Indonesian.

Furthermore, Hotelbeds continues to differentiate its product offering across the MEAPAC region through the development of its Preferred Partnership Agreements and Key Partners portfolio, with 170 new additions in 2014.

The Middle East also stands out as one of the most important markets in the region, with significant investments in both sales and contracting teams. Dubai remains the best-selling Middle Eastern city destination for 2014, followed by Doha and Abu Dhabi.

Pablo Aycart, Regional Managing Director MEAPAC Hotelbeds, highlighted: "MEAPAC is a key market for Hotelbeds and is forecasted to be one of the fastest growing regions for many years to come, with cities such as Tokyo and Osaka experiencing increases unseen until now.

Through a solid commitment to innovation and adaptation in this ever-changing market-place, we will be able to continue to consolidate our participation with the objective of delivering efficient and customised solutions to all our partners."

Customisation and localisation have clearly become key drives of Hotelbeds' success allowing the company to provide partners and suppliers with adapted solutions that better meet their specific needs.

Related Link: Hotelbeds

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eRevMax improves customer satisfaction based on customer feedback

September 08, 2014

The results show that 90% of the customers who took part in the survey think eRevMax solutions are reliable and provide accurate & up to date information.

The eRevMax customer survey was conducted with RateTiger and Connect users across the world assessing performance with regards to product delivery, product performance and quality of services. In its third annual customer survey, the results indicate that 88% of RateTiger customers are happy with the usability, while for Connect customers, all respondents agree (100%) that the enterprise connectivity solution is easy to use.

"The survey is important to gain an objective perspective on all aspects of the business. The findings are an instrumental guide for our strategy. We continue to work on of our mission of providing customers with the best technology supported by exceptional service and training to remove the complexity out of their eDistrbution business. The result only deepens our commitment to helping hotels improve their channel management, competitive positioning as well as optimize revenue," said Greg Berman, Chief Operating Office, eRevMax.

Service Delivery: 86% of RateTiger customers are satisfied with the service delivery cycle time, while 90% of Connect users think the time taken to resolve issues meets their expectation.

Training Category: In the training category, Connect users gave a 10 on 10 while 86% of RateTiger customers said they received the level of training needed to help them improve channel optimization of OTAs through its integrated channel manager.

The annual eRevMax Customer Satisfaction Study was conducted in August and received responses from over 500 users. The latest survey results emphatically reiterate an upward trend for the company's products, solutions & services as compared against the same survey completed in September 2013.

Get the full story at eRevMax

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Think business travelers don’t care about negative hotel reviews? Think again

September 05, 2014

Who books a hotel nowadays without checking online reviews first? Travelers used to only have access to firm-generated information like location, amenities and class of service, and if they were lucky perhaps a guide book description. But with the advent of online reviews and ratings, they now have access to user opinions as well. New research "How Business Travelers Buy: Hotel Pricing in a Social World" from SAS and The Pennsylvania State University looks at how business travelers use online reviews to assess value.

Specifically, the new research examines which information they use and how it influences their value perceptions and ultimately purchase behavior. The study follows up on last year's "Pricing in a social world: The influence of non-price information on hotel choice," which looked at leisure travelers.

Revenue managers crafting profitable pricing and positioning strategies should bear the findings in mind:

Business travelers are not as sensitive to negative reviews

Unlike leisure travelers, business travelers are not overly sensitive to price and will choose a hotel with negative reviews. While they are paying attention to the reviews, negative reviews won't necessarily remove a hotel from the choice set if they're balanced against a favorable brand, price and ratings.

Loyalty membership matters
Business travelers are highly influenced by their loyalty affiliation and might even put up with a hotel that's "good enough" if it's their preferred brand. The majority of survey participants stay with their preferred brand between 25 and 75 percent of the times they travel.

Business travelers still recognize a deal
A deal still influences choice behavior. Hotels that drop rates as compared to the market will likely generate demand from this segment. However, unless the hotel is at the lowest price point within the competitive set, business travelers don't care about a few dollars difference.

Business travelers looking for facts, not feelings
Review content was not a significant contributor to choice, nor was TripAdvisor Rank. However, review language was significant. Business travelers preferred more descriptive reviews over those with emotional language. If a review was positive or negative, business travelers wanted to know why.

"The bottom line for revenue managers is that pricing isn't getting any easier," said Kelly McGuire, PhD, Executive Director of the Hospitality and Travel Global Practice at SAS. "You need to know your price and your competitors' prices to make profitable pricing decisions. But you also need to understand how your review sentiment stacks up. As this study shows, it's crucial to understand your customer segment mix. With leisure travelers, it's simple: negative reviews remove you from the choice set, but they otherwise prefer to pay a lower price. Business travelers make purchase decisions very differently."

If you are primarily a business hotel, this study indicates that you have an opportunity to push price in a market, even if you don't top the reputation scale. This is particularly true if enough loyalty members are staying at the hotel.

"Of course, the opportunity lessens if your reputation lags behind competitors," said Breffni Noone, PhD, Associate Professor at the School of Hospitality Management at The Pennsylvania State University. "In this case, lowering the price might attract a bit of business traveler demand, where it would not bring in leisure travelers. For lesser known brands competing against those with large loyalty programs, a reputation that exceeds the competition paired with a good deal could entice business travelers through your doors."

All of these decisions, of course, are driven by a good understanding of your price position, your reputation position, your business mix, and most importantly, the hotel's business strategy.

Related Link: "How Business Travelers Buy: Hotel Pricing in a Social World"

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How Starwood looks to grow loyalty among business professionals

September 05, 2014

“Extending Starwood’s loyalty leadership to the B2B space makes strong business sense,” said Maire Griffin, director of communications at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, New York. “Today B2B accounts for almost 70 percent of Starwood’s overall room revenue and with every additional 1 percent share shift, we’re adding $80 million to our topline.

“We’re leveraging SPG’s position as the leader in loyalty to create true and lasting relationships with these important B2B guests and shift share of wallet to our hotels,” she said. “Through SPG Pro we are optimizing our entire relationship with a member rather than just focusing on one aspect of their travel – from the vacation stay to the booked meeting.”

Any SPG member will now get Starpoints for booking business events at enterprise hotels. The more members booked for an event, the more points earned. Since these points will accrue for personal use, there will be much greater incentive to book at Starwood.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Record summer travel signals economic optimism

September 05, 2014

AAA’s forecasts are “encouraging and pretty consistent” with other measures of discretionary spending that also have improved, including new automobile sales, said Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit. Americans’ increased willingness or ability to take vacations is “very positive,” supported by broader hiring gains, a higher level of comfort in their financial situations from stock gains and some degree of pent-up demand, he said.

One indication of the “healthy return of leisure travel” is reservations for Saturday nights, at almost 83 percent occupancy in July, Freitag said. “This speaks to very strong demand on weekends.”

Consumer travel makes up about 30 percent of total U.S. hotel bookings, and while there’s “still a little bit of the have and have not” among American consumers, economic growth in some countries outside the U.S. has been a “tremendous benefit” to the industry, said Bill Crow, an analyst in St. Petersburg, Florida, at Raymond James & Associates Inc. “It’s been a terrific summer from a lodging perspective,” which could provide an “upside surprise” when many publicly traded hoteliers report earnings next month.

Get the full story at Bloomberg

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How hotels became more than just a place to stay

September 05, 2014

The Royalton’s radical makeover in 1988—by French designer Philippe Starck, who turned a ground-floor passageway into a virtual red carpet (royal blue, actually, illuminated by mysterious luminaires shaped like priapic horns) for the fashionable and powerful—catalyzed what sociologists call social condensation, where a little voyeurism and crowdedness creates a feeling of intimacy and interest. This was lobby as stage, a place whose visual drama and social possibility made up for the fact that you weren’t downtown, and that many of the rooms upstairs, especially the former servants’ quarters, weren’t all that commodious. Mere corporate-style predictability, let alone comfort, was no longer the point.

As the blueprint of hotel as social condenser spread, so did travelers’ expectations of high design—or something that looked like it. Of course, especially in corporate hands, what seems like minimalism can become another kind of mannerism—the simple becomes simplistic. And in many hotels today, styling masquerades as design: It’s all photogenic whimsy or the opposite, a kind of gilded beige that’s meant to convey wealth and taste but is really as empty as a badly made macaroon.

Get the full story at Condé Nast Traveler

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Google keyword research and targeting without ‘Exact Match’

September 05, 2014

AdWords has sort of become a keyword research and opportunity tool of choice for SEO and, of course, PPC folks for a decade now. We've always had some optionality around how we choose keywords inside of AdWords.

Say I was selling groceries online. Maybe I'm selling Asian groceries online and, specifically, fish sauce, and I want to do some modifications to which terms and phrases I bid on. So I could use things like these brackets to say exact match only, bid on keywords that are precisely fish sauce, no modifiers, no changes, not fishes sauce, not fish sauces, not Vietnamese fish sauce. I just want the word fish sauce. Or I could go with a partial phrase match, meaning no modifications to this part of the phrase, but yes if it's Vietnamese fish sauce or fish sauce recipes, that's fine. Or I could go fish sauce broad match and then let Google sort of extrapolate out and add all sorts of things on there.

Now, as of September of 2014, Google AdWords is making a change to their policy. All campaigns and keywords that you employ inside campaigns must use close variance. Essentially, they're removing the exact match and saying, "Hey, we don't think this power tool is useful, and that control is going to be lost to folks."

Get the full story at The Moz Blog

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Social media spending is on the rise but impact is hard to measure

September 05, 2014

The study, which is based on responses from 351 top marketing executives, found that spending on digital marketing broadly is expected to jump 11% in the next year while traditional advertising budgets are expected to contract 3.6%.

Despite the increasing investment in social media, it’s still difficult for marketers to quantify their return on investment. Only 15% of marketers in the study said they can show the impact of social media on their businesses using quantitative approaches, while 40% of marketers can only demonstrate the impact qualitatively. Nearly half of marketers said they haven’t been able to demonstrate the impact of social media spending on their business at all.

Justifying how ad dollars get spent is a constant concern for marketers, who face increased pressure to deliver on margins and show results. Marketing spending typically generates more than 8% of company revenue, according to the Duke study. Marketing budgets are expected to increase more than 5% this year.

Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal blog

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Five hotel related takeaways from the The Share 14 Conference

September 05, 2014

Melissa Lyons, Vizergy

At Vizergy, we work closely with BrightEdge, a search marketing authority that offers an enterprise grade SEO platform. Our partnership is an essential component of our advanced SEO strategies. The analysis, tools and research they provide ensure our SEO services are as in depth and effective as possible.

The Share 14 Conference

For the past four years, BrightEdge has hosted an annual "Share" search marketing conference. Last week, along with over 1000+ other search marketing professionals including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Starwood, and Choice Hotels from the hospitality sector, I attended the most recent conference, Share 14. Several of the presenters were from high profile companies such as Google, Bing, YouTube, Facebook, Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, General Motors and Microsoft. To say the least, there was a substantial amount of knowledge present, and best of all, the knowledge was shared with everyone in attendance.

Here are five takeaways most relevant to the hospitality industry:

- Get social! It's important to utilize sites like Facebook and Twitter to help promote your property's creative content. Think "quality over quantity" with your posts. Find out what travelers want by reviewing what they like, share and retweet. Facebook is helpful when looking at multi-touch conversions. Typically, a consumer gains awareness through Facebook and then returns through paid search efforts. This causes Facebook ads and posts to be undervalued as a conversion source when they are, in fact, an aid to paid search performance. Facebook even allows you to reach more targeted travel shoppers with Website Custom Audiences. This increases return on ad spend, as seen with case studies.

- Content is king! Or is it? These days, SEO is more about user experience and NOT about keyword stuffing. Are guests and travel shoppers finding what is relevant to them; how fast are they finding it? We should also be more focused on earning quality links, not just building them. One link from a highly credible, relevant site is more powerful than several links from sites with little or no related value.

- Content marketing. Think about the information you are putting out there. Will it engage your target audience? The goal is to present information that consumers want, and sometimes (especially off your website), that may not be anything specific about your property. Bing's Duane Forrester mentioned that the majority of what you post on social media and blog outlets should be about someone or something else. Your job is to be a resource, but your business alone is not the full resource that people need. Be creative. Think about what kind of fun and interesting facts or information shoppers want to know along their travel purchase process.

- Keep cadence in mind. When you publish a video that goes viral, your traffic soars, and you get tons of social media coverage. Seems great, right? Well it could be if you keep it going. According to YouTube's Sarah Snyder, once buzz goes away, you're basically right back where you started. It doesn't help the long-term, overall growth of your online presence. But if you focus on cadence (suggested by Alex Volk at Microsoft) and regularly post a monthly video or special offer, especially right after a viral video, then your initial traffic spike could lead to better overall growth.

- Optimize for Mobile. This goes back to optimizing for user experience. When a user visits your site on a mobile device, they may not be looking for the same thing as they would on their desktop. In a mobile environment, overall copy must be condensed, and a clear call to action must be visible right away. For example, a travel shopper may prefer to book on their desktop, while they'd rather use "click to call" functionality on their smartphone. In this case, conversions should be tracked differently. The booking and call are both conversions, but come from different sources. Whatever the case, always present the ideal amount of information and track conversions per device.

Related Link: Vizergy

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Luxury Hollywood hotel reaches upscale clientele with

September 05, 2014

How do you reach thousands of potential guests who want a dramatic, luxurious West Hollywood experience when they stay in LA? That was the question for the Chamberlain West Hollywood, which wanted to extend their marketing reach beyond their strong social media presence.

The answer was Since implementing the brand advocacy platform six months ago, Chamberlain guests have shared about their stay with 143,000 friends and family around the world - people who likely share their upscale demographic, and who desire a luxury hotel when they visit LA.

" has been able to drive bookings and awareness to our upscale boutique hotel," said John Douponce, General Manager of the Chamberlain West Hollywood. "Fully 21% of our guests have shared about our hotel with their friends."

Guests shared a branded message with their personal networks through, becoming an integral marketing tool by creating a personal awareness about the hotel for every one of their connections. Each guest post directed their friend or relative to the hotel's website, which then dynamically personalized for each and every guest connection.

"Chamberlain West Hollywood is an luxury hotel, and wanted to reach a similarly upscale clientele," said Debi Moses, Senior Director of Sales for "The beauty of is that whether your hotel is high-end or limited-service, your guests will share with friends who are similar to themselves. That's your core market."

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