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What hotel marketers can learn from Google’s 2014 Traveler study

October 01, 2014

During the webinar, Katy from Google explained:

- Why multi-screen marketing is important for hotels – 55% of hotel bookers who use their smartphone for inspiration, book another way

- Trends in the online travel shopping journey – such as the decline of app usage

- Key statistics for understanding consumers – such as why hotel bookers watch travel videos during the early stages of the shopping journey

Get the full story and access to the webinar recording at Leonardo

Article location: latest to launch smartwatch feature

October 01, 2014 announced that travelers using its mobile booking app can now receive hotel notifications on their Android smartwatches. Smartwatch users who book a room on the mobile app will receive a notification on the day of their check-in at 2:00 p.m., which is typically when most guests would be on their way to the hotel. Users will also be able to access an image of the hotel, its address, a map and full reservation details on their wearable device displays.

"Our new wearable notifications make traveling even more seamless," said Daniel Craig, Senior Director of Mobile for the brand. "We know our customers are increasingly looking for ways to take the stress and hassle out of travel and we're in the business of listening and responding to them as fast as possible."

With the more than 35 million downloads, the mobile booking app gives customers access to more than 20,000 exclusive last minute deals and discounts of up to 50 percent. According to data, approximately one in four travelers are booking hotels via a mobile device, and nearly 70% of those bookings are made for same or next-day check-in.

Article location: launches Bonus+ loyalty program

October 01, 2014

The launch of Bonus+ coincides with ebookers’ new brand proposition and website refresh, highlighting ebookers’ commitment to always give it’s customers a more rewarding travel experience.

Insight from ebookers has identified that a continued lack of loyalty is seen in the industry as 69 per cent of consumers say they will visit more websites to find the right price and will use more comparison sites in the next 12 months than ever before to plan their holiday.

The research revealed that when looking for a rewards programme, travel customers need a service that is free and easy to enrol in, simple to understand, flexible and fast – meaning that they can earn and redeem rewards quickly, and most importantly - redeem on travel.

Get the full story at Breaking Travel News and Travolution

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New iOS mobile app for hotels

October 01, 2014, a leading online travel site focusing on resort destinations, announced today the launch of their new and improved Apple iOS Hotels, Flights & Vacations app. This launch puts at the leading edge of mobile booking technology.

Apple users can now enjoy a newly redesigned interface with faster load-times, new sorting options, and access to the Members Lounge. In addition to allowing users to book hotels and flights, the Hotels, Flights & Vacations app is the only one available that allows users to book vacation packages right from their smart phone or tablet. The app also allows users to view thousands of pictures, videos and reviews, and gives users exclusive access to “App-Only” discounts on select hotels and resorts.

“The concept behind the redesign is to give users a better experience when researching, booking and managing their travel,” said Valerie Connell, the Vice President of Product Management. “Although the new app has a beautiful new interface, the real benefits are found in the new features and functionality. Unlike other travel apps, travelers can purchase vacation packages through our app rather than having to book flights and hotels separately. Users can also access their travel itineraries through the app, providing them with more information while they are on the go. The fresh interface, new features and exclusive deals make the new app a must-have for travelers.”

Along with the improvements made to sorting functionality, the new iOS app makes it possible for users to access the Members Lounge in order to view their current and future travel itineraries in real time, from anywhere. also announced a tentative launch of their new Android app, which will mirror the improvements and new functionality of the iOS app, in Q4 of this year.

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Marriott Rewards named “Best in Business”

October 01, 2014

The recognition comes on the heels of U.S. News & World Report awarding Marriott Rewards the Best Rewards Program for the second consecutive year and the annual Freddie Awards, which named Marriott Rewards the Program of the Year for the seventh year in a row.

"We're thrilled that the readers of Fortune and Travel + Leisure recognized Marriott Rewards with this honor." said Rich Toohey, Vice President, Marriott Rewards. "We pride ourselves on offering our members a relevant, easy to use program, so knowing that Marriott Rewards is the most popular with mobile business travelers helps us continue to evolve the program with their needs in mind."

The Best in Business Travel survey ranked Marriott Rewards first among four additional top loyalty programs. The top programs were selected based on readers' holistic ratings of a companies' individual loyalty programs. Considered criteria included the ability to accumulate points, how quickly members can redeem points, and which overall program is best for business travelers.

Marriott Rewards is leading innovation for hotel loyalty programs through the launch of FlashPerks, LocalPerks and PlusPoints. The three platforms engage Marriott Rewards members with additional benefits and immediate ways to earn and spend points. FlashPerks gives members the option to redeem points or use cash for limited-time exclusive deals and experience. Through LocalPerks, Marriott Rewards is the first major hotel loyalty program to offer geo-targeted mobile offers using beacon technology for on-property deals. PlusPoints enables members to earn Rewards points instantly through everyday social behaviors, such as tweets, retweets, check in on Facebook and Instagram posts with the hashtag #MRPoints.

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Lessons for travel - omni-channel shopping and the new digital consumer

October 01, 2014

The changing nature of the shopping and transacting process affects everything. There is nothing that is not connected. In the earliest days of the web, travel was actually THE pioneer in driving digital adoption and, some argue, led the web revolution.

However that leading role has somewhat faded as the consumer now engages digitally with just about every retail category. There is no longer any product or service that has no “digital relevancy”.

Indeed, the percentage of which that can claim to be luddites and don’t/wont interact digitally is falling fast. This doesn’t mean that everyone does everything digitally all the time.

Get the full story at Tnooz and the report at CapGemini (PDF 5.1 MB)

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Travel Intelligence and its big (data) benefits

October 01, 2014

The emergence of new technologies offers real-time data analyses and cutting edge forecasting capabilities across the entire travel cycle, allowing travel industry players to start doing things they had never even considered doing before. Big data is also today’s most powerful ingredient in the ongoing battle for competitive differentiation and personalisation.

Understanding today’s traveller is vital to gain the competitive edge: the travel industry is moving beyond standard leisure and business segmentation towards a more personalised view of the customer. Real customer understanding can be drawn from multiple sources that exist at a company, industry and global level. By harnessing those multiple data sources, travel companies will be in a position to better predict travel intentions and tailor their offer based on contextual information.

Get the full story at Amadeus

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Egencia’s Preferred Rates program celebrates 10 years as it reaches 10,000 enrolled properties

October 01, 2014

The programme began in 2004 as a key part of the Egencia hotel offering which includes nearly 200,000 properties worldwide. The EPR programme allows Egencia to deliver hotels from the Expedia group network in a way that is customised for business travellers through a combination of special prices and value added perks.

“We created the Egencia Preferred Rates programme because many of our customers do not have the volume they need to negotiate rates with hotels in every city they visit. In fact, approximately 75% of our client base has no access to negotiated corporate rates,” says Rob Greyber, president at Egencia. “For the last 10 years, we’ve built a solid programme that gives business travellers more of what they need while maximising savings for their companies. In addition, for those with their own preferred hotel rates in some areas, our programme provides value at properties that are out of scope or in outlying geographies.”

Participating hotels are currently located in 3,200 cities worldwide. As hoteliers continue to look for ways to capture additional business travel demand, the programme is gaining momentum with new properties from both independent hotels and major chains.

EPR properties are accessible to Egencia customers from all online, mobile and off-line booking platforms and clearly flagged, making it easier for travellers to choose the value added services or savings they require. As part of the EPR programme, hotels offer loyalty points to Egencia customers as well as other business-centric amenities such as:

- free Wi-fi,

- free breakfast,

- flexible cancellation terms, and

- special discounted rates.

Related Link: Egencia

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Marriott wants to become the Red Bull of travel entertainment

September 30, 2014

The in-house division will have three parts: content development, which will be the personal creative agency; production, or the entertainment division responsible for video content ranging from Web clips to TV shows; and distribution, a real-time marketing group that will monitor social media to ensure immediate interaction with trending topics. Marriott will continue to work with external agencies and other production companies as needed.

Marriott has signed a stable of exclusive talent from the online space, including Sonya Travel's Sonya Gil, stunt team Substance Over Hype, social media news purveyors What's Trending and comedian Taryn Southern. Shows in development include Renaissance Hotels' indie music performance series The Navigator Live; action-comedy stunt show Two Bellmen; and Web series Marriott Rewards' Year of Surprises, which will honor people in the community for their contributions to society. Online series will be broadcast on and Marriot Mobile and through Marriott Rewards and other media channels like YouTube.

Gartner's Andrew Frank said Marriott's in-house approach reflects a general trend in the industry that meets the increasing demand for content marketing, particularly ongoing interactions for long-term campaigns. It can be a risky move, however, because brands can be less experienced in creative and media strategy compared to agencies, but widening media access has made it easier. "Since most agencies are not organized to support content marketing engagements, at a certain scale it can be more cost-effective to bring it in house," he said.

Get the full story at AdWeek

Article location: and top latest eTravel multichannel benchmark results

September 30, 2014

Hotel agents and have topped the latest eTravel Multichannel Benchmark results from eDigitalResearch, outperforming the rest of the travel industry across their entire digital travel experience.

The eTravel Multichannel Benchmark uses a profiled group of independent mystery shoppers to assess the entire end-to-end digital customer experience - including websites, mobile sites and apps - for a selection of top global travel brands.'s multichannel digital experience out ranked all other brands for their first impressions search and results, booking process, and design and usability. Surveyors particularly liked the brand's desktop site and ranked it first in every stage of the customer journey, while's app was rated top overall., Expedia and ebookers all complete the multichannel top five.

However, hotel agents are unable to match the same user experience across their customer support channels. Hotel brand Best Western topped the customer support part of the customer journey with a score of just 77%, demonstrating a real need for the travel industry to invest in their overall customer service. Brands that scored well in this area did so because of their often prompt reply to queries, as well as helpful and proactive support.

Derek Eccelston, Commercial Director at eDigitalResearch, comments, "People expect the same sort of experience across all brand touch points, and this includes customer support channels. If you get an excellent customer experience when browsing and booking a holiday online, you'll come to expect the same high level of service when you contact a brand for support.

"However, our results reveal that too often this just is not happening. Instead, brands need to mirror their excellent digital customer experience across all touch points - engaging with support staff will be key to providing a seamless user experience across all customer service journeys".

The benchmark also found that, like many retailer's multichannel experience, mobile sites and apps continue to score lower than established desktop sites, suggesting that some brands are still getting to grips with optimising the digital travel experience for a mobile.

However, the results also demonstrate how holiday-makers have now come to expect the same seamless experience across channels. Low-cost airline EasyJet's website scored particularly well but they were unable to replicate those scores across their other digital channels - hampering their overall multichannel customer experience.

Derek continues, "With a growing number of us researching and booking our holiday's online, along with travel brands increasingly competing against one another on price and destination, a good user experience is often the only way to differentiate a brand from their nearest rival - the digital customer experience really is key to the future success of travel brands big and small".

Download the full survey at eDigitalResearch (free registration)

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Amex: Q2 corporate air and hotel spending up 7 percent

September 30, 2014

Amex noted that strong demand from "professional services, manufacturing and technology/communications industries" fueled the overall growth.

Based on second-quarter bookings by U.S.-based Amex GBT customers and excluding taxes and fees, the data also showed a 5.7 percent decline in client car rental costs. That discrepancy from the growth measured in air and hotel spending "may point to nontraditional disruptors in the [ground transportation] space gaining traction amongst business travelers," according to Amex.

Meanwhile, the travel management company reported that its clients during the second quarter booked 87.5 percent of domestic U.S. airline tickets in coach class. For international trips, they booked 55.7 percent in coach class, 1.1 percent in "premium coach," 40.6 percent in business class and 2.6 percent in first class.

Get the full story at Business Travel News

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Four Seasons enhances customer service in China through Ctrip partnership

September 30, 2014

For hotel brands looking to expand into new markets, tapping the expertise of a travel service provider can kickstart traffic.

“Travel service providers are often collaborating with hotels, which can be very beneficial for everyone involved,” said Damon Banks, freelance journalist and media consultant, New York.

“These providers can offer a level of services that benefits the guests greatly, and is often a cost effective method for the hotels,” he said.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Mr & Mrs Smith recognises value of personalisation after driving intent

September 30, 2014

Tamara Heber-Percy, co-founder and chief technology officer, told this week's Abta Travel Convention in Ljubljana, Slovenia, that she has battled with the concept of allowing an mathematical algorithm to determine marketing strategy.

But she said taking a personalised approach through using data insight was the future, although firms had to be prepared to get it wrong and understand that results won't come over night.

"Personalisation I do believe is the future but there's still a long way to go," she said

Ge the full story at Travolution

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How to create a content strategy that actually drives organic traffic

September 30, 2014

If your goal is to drive organic traffic, what specific, strategic methods should you employ to build the right amount of organic traffic?

In this article, HubSpot explains the process for creating a content strategy that drives traffic in detail. It starts with audience research, and is built on determining the best form of content, creating a pattern of frequency, tailoring the style to your audience, and focusing on keywords your audience searches for online.

By engaging in this process, then repeating it, you’ll be able to develop a powerful strategy that produces steady amounts of organic traffic.

Get the full story at HubSpot

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SiteMinder pioneers new two-way XML integration with Ctrip

September 30, 2014

The new two-way integration puts the more than 14,000 hotels using SiteMinder's Room Distribution Exchange (RDX) platform among the first in the world to have direct access to the country's largest online travel booking channel, via its new XML connection.

With sales in China's online travel market hitting nearly US$10 billion for the second quarter of 2014[1] – a year-on-year increase of 17.1% – the hotels are also in an optimal position to directly tap into the booming travel market in China.

"We are very happy to partner with SiteMinder, a company that is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and respected in online distribution," says Ms Maria Sun, CEO of Hotel Business Unit & SVP of Ctrip.

"This integration will allow hotels around the world to directly access the Ctrip platform and its enormous booking potential, while also capitalizing on the robust connectivity between SiteMinder and Ctrip.

"As China's market continues to consume travel in a number of ways – the number of accumulated downloads for Ctrip's MobileApp, alone, has now reached 200 million and continues rapid growth – it is crucial that hotels are front and center for the Chinese traveler. Via Ctrip, hotels that use SiteMinder products to distribute to Ctrip can now achieve exactly that."

With approximately 80 percent of Ctrip's total transactions booked online or through mobile channels during the second quarter of 2014, SiteMinder's Co-Founder and CEO, Mr Mike Ford, says he is delighted about the integration partnership and welcomes its role in Ctrip's strategy for international growth.

"RDX powers more than 60 channel management solutions worldwide, including SiteMinder's own offering, The Channel Manager. This connection with Ctrip is therefore exceptionally exciting for our hotel clients, as they can now leverage this opportunity to attract new guests from anywhere in the world," Mr Ford says.

"China's online travel revenue is estimated to reach around US$75 billion by 2017[2] and, with online users continuing to increase in the country, SiteMinder is very excited about discovering the potential this partnership with Ctrip will have for our hotels."

To enquire about connecting with Ctrip, click here

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How to post like a social media magnet

September 30, 2014

1. Images, stats and quotes engage best: Statistics overwhelmingly show that people interact with visuals on social media more than plain text updates. Sharing photos is an easy way to engage with your audience, especially high-resolution, high-quality pictures of your property. does an excellent job of using photos of its partners’ properties to drive engagement. After visuals, stats and quotes collect the most eyeballs on social media. Stats get 10 percent more retweets than those without while including a quote in your tweets makes it 19 percent more likely to get retweeted than non-quotes.

2. Tailor your post to the specific channel: Remember, every social channel works differently and what may make a great post on Twitter might fall flat on Pinterest. You should tailor your posts according to the intended purpose and limitations of each channel.

3. Don’t be condescending with “like-bait”: Using like-bait photos and statuses—which often beg users to like the post, like the Oxi Clean photo above—does little to benefit anyone other than your social media agency. While they may win some likes and comments, you are not creating value for the consumer or building trust in your brand. Avoid the temptation to boost vanity metrics and instead focus on creating value and trust.

Get the full story at buuteeq

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Skyscanner wins appeal against decision over hotel room rates

September 29, 2014

The Scotland-based metasearch company argued that the original ruling by OFT, now the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), restricted consumer access to discounts.

Skyscanner took its case to the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), which ruled in its favour and sent the case back to the CMA. Carolyn Jameson, director of general counsel at Skyscanner, said the outcome is good news for consumers and ‘the wider travel industry’.

The appeal revolved around CMA’s investigation into online hotel booking in the UK following a complaint from Skoosh, an online travel agency. Skoosh complained that it was being prevented from offering discounts due to the terms of agreements between large online travel agents and hotels.

Get the full story at Daily Mail Online

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Airlines tread carefully into flash sales as mobile’s influence grows

September 29, 2014

Many airlines are now experiencing more traffic on mobile sites, and flash sales are a controversial topic of discussion. For some airlines, they may negatively affect the financial landscape, while for others, flash sales function as another marketing strategy that helps sell valuable seats.

“While we can’t disclose specific booking numbers, Southwest continues to see growing sales via both our mobile app and,” said Leighann Davis, senior director of digital marketing at Southwest Airlines.

Many mobile experts believe that increased interaction with clients can only boost airlines’ sales numbers and public image. For customers looking to book last-minute getaways, flash sales are often times an ideal solution.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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HotelTonight confirms it’s moving from same-day bookings to 7 days in advance

September 29, 2014

Curated last-minute hotel booking service HotelTonight has been building out its brand over the past few years, becoming the go-to mobile service for same-day hotel bookings. HotelTonight has hitherto let you reserve same-day hotel rooms from 9am on the day for up to 70 percent below the standard price. That’s all about to change though.

HotelTonight is now introducing refreshed versions of its Android, Windows Phone and iOS apps, which include a fresh design and a handful of notable new features, including curated themed ‘Playlists’ of hotels with recommendations on where and when to book, based on aspects such as weather and availability.

With that in mind, we’re also told that in-app weather forecasts will be introduced, designed to suggest where to stay (e.g. a beach hotel if it’s predicted to be sunny) and what you should pack in your bags.

However, the most notable development with these updates, which should be going live any time now, is that you will now be able to book much further in advance.

Get the full story at The Next Web

Read also "Q&A with HotelTonight’s CEO on its shift to same-week booking" at Tnooz and "As competition heats up, HotelTonight says good-bye to same-day only bookings"

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CWT adds hotel-booking function to app

September 29, 2014

App users are able to search for, book and cancel hotel rooms, with search results plotted on a map. Results include the rates and properties included in the travel policy, so users can select from the most relevant content. In addition, CWT staff are able to retrieve bookings, meaning further support is available to travellers if needed. Booking a hotel is simple, as traveller details, such as name and credit card information, are pulled straight from CWT Portrait, CWT’s profile management tool. A full roll out of this new functionality to all CWT To Go users is planned for the end of the year.

David Moran, executive vice president, Global Marketing & Enterprise Strategy, CWT said, “Hotel booking for app users is a significant addition to creating a seamless and supportive app. Travellers and travel managers alike have told us mobile booking is important to them, and this is a key step in our mission to become the managed travel app of choice.”

In addition, the new version of CWT To Go is integrated with CWT Portrait, CWT’s traveller profile tool. Travellers have the ability to view and, where available, update their CWT Portrait profiles straight from CWT To Go. The app also indicates the percentage of completed profile fields, reminding users to fill in the missing information. In the days since its launch, 17 per cent of those accessing their profile through CWT To Go made an update.

CWT says the new enhancements mean travellers will no longer need to carry their travel loyalty cards with them because they are accessible on the app; any personal and loyalty card information entered into CWT Portrait will be available to view in CWT To Go, meaning travellers are able to access it on the move. The updated version of CWT To Go also allows users to scan in a new credit card using the device’s camera, saving them time by eliminating the need to manually input new card details.

The latest version of CWT To Go makes it easier for travellers to use the app for their business and leisure trips, as they can label whole trips, or parts of a trip ‘business’ or ‘leisure’. With reporting on off-channel bookings planned for a future release, this will mean that only business trips will be included in reporting, enabling travel managers to capture more off-channel bookings.

Another new feature is updated flight alerts containing more specific information, which travellers and travel managers rated a critically important feature in its recent mobility study.

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Restaurants failing to deliver on mobile search’s promise of online ordering

September 29, 2014

The Search Agency released findings from The Mobile Experience Scorecard – Restaurants & Catering that found 32% of the sites analyzed use Responsive Web Design, but all had an average load time of more than one minute. Using data from Experian Hitwise, The Search Agency extracted the 50 top restaurant and catering Web sites when served on a mobile device by the number of visits in August 2014 for user experience and search engine optimization (SEO) ranking criteria.

Consumers choose mobile search compared with desktop because of the convenience and speed, but too many companies ignore the opportunity to connect with customers through a mobile device -- specifically the smartphone. Only 40% of the top 50 Web sites have a click-to-order or click-to reserve button, which brings down mobile conversion rates.

Delia Perez, SVP account delivery and strategy at The Search Agency, sees a trend that shows many brands are attempting to integrate responsive design, but the implementation of these sites proves difficult.

Get the full story at MediaPost

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Why you shouldn’t have a mobile marketing strategy

September 29, 2014

There's no such thing as mobile as far as the user is concerned. Which means you, as marketers, have to work exceptionally hard to play nicely with ubiquity.

Fundamentally, people use their devices for:

- communicating with other people (1-1 and 1-many)
- consuming media (text, images, video)
- searching for answers

As a marketer, you can see the opportunities to be available, be found, be recommended in any of these uses. To improve your chances, you will need to consider:

- Your platform – the CMS you use, the outputs it's capable of
- Your content – the strategy of what to create and the tactical execution
- Your audience – where are they and how can you reach them?
- Your conversion paths – what do you want people to do and what would encourage them to do that?
- Your measurement abilities – how are you going to quantify and demonstrate success, and how are you going to refine your approach in light of new data?

Get the full story at Moz

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How mobile technology can transform a travelers’ experience

September 29, 2014

He walked delegates through the following journey.

Imagine this: you are a highly mobile, always connected traveller.

You arrive at your destination airport at peak hour. While you sit in traffic to get to your hotel, you are not idle. You check in to your hotel via your mobile phone, you preorder the services you need – laundry, room service, your pillow preference – and when you arrive, you bypass the front desk all together as the room key is delivered to you on smart device as you enter the hotel lobby.

Later, as you work your way around the hotel property, perhaps going to the gym, you receive location based prompts, say a discount to the spa during a lull period while you are in the gym. You can use your loyalty points on the mobile device to book and pay for ancillary services like products or meals, or utilize digital coupons.

Each time you leave the hotel, you typically lose your WIFI connectivity, but not with this hotel. They've sorted things out with the top Wi-Fi providers around town to provide you with the same high speed reliable connectivity that you get in the hotel at the museum / art gallery / restaurant / theatre that you may visit.

Is this scenario feasible?

Absolutely, according to Bhalekar, who told participants how he is currently working with hotels in the region to deliver such seamless experiences.

Mobile offers hotels many opportunities to engage and interact with their guests beyond the hotel stay.

But why should hotels make the effort? It's all about revenue generation, customer loyalty and of course, rave reviews.

In a presentation at AsiaConnect by Pin Tsin Go, Territory Manager for Southeast Asia at TripAdvisor for Business, said that TripAdvisor had found that if hotels can increase the positivity of reviews by 1point, evidence is that they can increase room rates by up to 11.2% while maintaining occupancy, which shows how positive customer reviews increases digital marketing ROI.

By 2017, Accenture projects that there will be 9 billion connected devices in the Asian region – 1.2 billion of which will be mobile phones for a projected population of 4.1 billion people.

Mobile enables the generation of demand. Currently, in the USA alone, there are 40 million users using mobile devices for travel that spend $25 billion on mobile travel bookings, annually.

Yes, there are challenges for hotel property operators and owners to overcome when implementing mobile enabled technology.

- The hotel business strategy needs to be clear. The path to achieve bookings and ancillary revenue, the best feature set for mobility and ROI objectives need to be defined clearly.

- Fragmented technology needs to be overcome. For example, multiple front end and backend platforms, networks and devices all need to be able to talk to each other or they will become a nuisance.

- The time to market is high. There are also different enterprise and consumer-based solutions to tackle and there are no standards which enable innovation and bringing onboard relevant third parties applications.

A good approach is to stay technology agnostic and focus instead on a customer's unmet needs. An example of a traveller's unmet need is constant connectivity. WIFI is the singular most important need of hotel guests today. It is routinely rated more important than location and more satisfying than comfort.

End users are choosing hotels that have the best WIFI and download speeds. There are apps that analyze and recommend the best hotels based on WIFI speed and cost.

Underpinning this behavior is the users need for stable, fast connectivity – either for leisure or productivity. As soon as the user steps out of the location they enter a black box of connectivity. They either have to buy a data plan, or use someone else's WIFI.

As connectivity adds real value to the end users stay, Bhalekar believes hotels should partner with technology providers to offer WIFI hotspots that their guests can connect around the city or destination location. For example, popular cafes, or a museum or a shopping mall.

Bhalekar said "Innovations create a differentiator experience for hotels that drives loyalty. But don't put technology before your business goals. Identify what needs to be solved first, develop the strategies and then apply technology to deliver solutions."

Related Link: HSMAI

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A small hotel owner’s nightmare with

September 29, 2014

Here’s a little story…

Let’s say there’s a small hotel owner called Frank. One day Frank receives an email from the folks at, marketing the large booking site’s expansive reach and promising exposure to thousands of visitors.

Frank’s B&B had averaged a 50% occupancy rate for the past few years, so he thought this was a great chance to fill up those empty rooms. Up until now, Frank had advertised his bed and breakfast at the local travel agency and a simple website that his nephew managed to rank #1 when searching for “Frank’s B&B” and #5 for “bed and breakfast in Riverside.” About 50% of Frank’s guests found him through his website, 30% were sent by local travel/info agencies and the rest just showed up at his door.

So Frank goes ahead and signs up for, thinking that it’s worth a try. Right off the bat, Frank begins getting emails asking him to confirm new reservations. Frank’s business booms, and everyone is happy. Until after a few months, Frank’s B&B receives an cozy dining areaanonymous review with false, defamatory remarks.

Get the full story at

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How destinations work with OTAs to draw visitors

September 26, 2014

These “Find Yours” campaigns are generally success stories for Expedia, and at the same time increase awareness of underdog destinations or those that ask for publicity. The site saw an 11 times return on investment with its Alberta, Canada campaign, for example, and air passenger traffic to the province’s airports also increased 21%, says Noah Tratt, a spokesperson for Expedia Media Solutions.

“Alberta had recently overhauled their marketing effort when we started the campaign, and with these campaigns we see an opportunity to influence people before they make their decisions and this campaign’s results are in many ways consistent with our other campaigns,” he said. “Those who don’t know Expedia assume that people come to us already knowing where they want to go, but that isn’t always the case.”

In 2010, Expedia found 20% of customers were searching for multiple destinations on the site 48 hours before they made a booking. Another Expedia study from 2013 showed travelers visit an average of 38 sites before booking a vacation, suggesting it’s never too late to influence travelers’ once they reach a booking site.

Get the full story at Skift

Article location: earns brand of the year for second year in a row

September 26, 2014

“Before booking vacation time, consumers face a variety of choices in where to stay and how to get there. They want to feel a connection to the travel brands they choose,” according to Joan Sinopoli, vice president, Brand Consulting, Nielsen. “Emotional preference is important: while services may be similar, that emotional connection can create the perception that the ‘connected’ brand exceeds consumer expectations.”

Whether looking ahead to a specific trip or indulging in a last minute adventure, online travel services have become America’s go-to resource. For the second straight year, is Brand of the Year in the Online Travel Service category. reaches a ten-year high in Brand Equity with strong marks across all three factors; Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Consideration. and also rank above the Online Travel Service category average.

Alaska/Horizon and Southwest Continue As Brands of the Year for Three and Four Years Respectively

Many travelers set their sights on destinations which require air travel. Of the 13 Value and Full Service airlines measured in EquiTrend this year, more than half (seven) receive their highest Brand Equity score since first included in the study.

“At the start of the economic downturn, EquiTrend scores showed a drop across airlines as the industry almost universally started charging fees beyond checked baggage for things like blankets, pillows, meals, boarding privileges, ticket changes, and even reservations for seats closer to the front” says Sinopoli. “In 2014, we are finally seeing a recovery from those lower equity scores – with significant increases in Brand Equity across several carriers and no significant declines in equity for any airline brands.”

Among Value Airlines, Southwest Airlines is the Brand of the Year for the fourth consecutive year. Even as Southwest has evolved into a major national carrier, it maintains its original brand character and continuously creates a unique atmosphere for its flyers. “That character has created strong brand differentiation, and with it, a passionate and devoted following” says Sinopoli. JetBlue Airlines also ranks above the Value Airline category average.

For the third straight year, Alaska/Horizon Airlines is the Full Service Airline Brand of the Year. Since 2008, this full-service carrier has seen steady increases in Brand Equity, driven mainly by Quality and Purchase Consideration gains. Hawaiian Airlines, Delta Airlines and American Airlines also rank above the Full Service Airline category average.

A Place to Rest Your Travel-Weary Head

After deciding where to go and how to get there, consumers face a host of hotel choices – from economy to luxury, limited to full service, boutique hotel to big brands, the possibilities are endless. The Harris Poll EquiTrend study includes 47 hotel brands across five categories; Luxury, Full Service, Mid-Market, Extended Stay and Economy.

Omni Hotels & Resorts Reclaims Luxury Hotel Brand of the Year Title

This year’s Luxury Hotel Brand of the Year is Omni Hotels & Resorts, which also was top ranked in 2011. Known for its personalized service, Omni posts significant improvements in Equity over the past three years. “Omni has shown steady gains on the Purchase Consideration metric over the past ten years,” says Sinopoli. “A rebound in Familiarity and strong Quality scores also helps drive the brand to the top ranking.” Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, W Hotels and Resorts and The Ritz-Carlton also rank above the Luxury Hotel category average.

Marriott Hotels Top the Full Service Hotels Category

The Full Service Hotel category Brand of the Year is Marriott Hotels, as was also the case in 2012. A significant year to year increase in Familiarity drives the top ranking for the brand, along with strong Purchase Consideration. “Marriott Hotels has the highest Equity score of any brand across all the hotel categories,” says Sinopoli. “Unmatched Purchase Consideration scores make the brand a stand-out among hotels in the study.” It’s also worth noting that Courtyard Marriott as a brand on its own ranks third, reaping the benefits of its recent repositioning, with the rollout of the bistro format.

Homewood Suites by Hilton Regains Title; Hampton Earns Top Spot for First Time

Homewood Suites by Hilton is the Extended Stay Hotel Brand of the Year, with significantly higher Purchase Consideration scores, compared to 2013. “Homewood Suites regains its top ranking among Extended Stay Hotels for the third time in four years,” says Sinopoli. “After a dip in Purchase Consideration in 2013, the brand is back in the top spot.” Residence Inn also ranks above the Extended Stay Hotel category average.

Among Mid-Market Hotel brands, Hampton Inn & Suites claims the highest ranking for the first time. While the brand’s Quality has remained strong since first measured in 2010, Familiarity and Purchase Consideration have grown significantly in the last five years. “Hampton Inn & Suites has always been above the category average, yet this is the first year they secured the top position with a significant gain in Brand Equity,” says Sinopoli. Holiday Inn Express Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts, La Quinta Inns & Suites, Comfort Suites, Best Western Hotels and Country Inns & Suites by Carlson each rank above the Mid-Market Hotel category average.

America’s Best Value Inn is Economy Hotel Brand of the Year for the Third Year Running

America’s Best Value Inn is the Brand of the Year honoree in the Economy Hotel category for the third consecutive year. High marks for Quality and Purchase Consideration among those Familiar drive the brand’s top ranking. “America’s Best Value Inn is gaining in Familiarity this year, helping to increase its overall Equity,” says Sinopoli.

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Business travel: How snafus hit the bottom line

September 26, 2014

The study by the GBTA Foundation, the education and research division of the Global Business Travel Association, polled over 500 business travelers who had experienced at least one business travel-related mishap during the course of a work-related trip during the past year. And it found nearly 90 percent of business travelers experienced at least one snafu related to air travel.

On average, according to the survey, overall business travel setbacks cost individuals $1,475 in missed work and out-of-pocket expenses -- along with a 2.3 days of lost work days.

Not surprisingly, but the GBTA survey found air travel adversity made up the majority of those mishaps, at 87 percent. Those polled said cancelled flights had the "most negative impact," although delayed flights were also a major issue, along with missed connections and lost or damaged luggage.

Some other business travel issues that came up on the survey -- and that weren't directly related to air travel -- were lost items, evacuations or early returns home due to weather or other emergencies, medical mishaps and hotel booking issues.

Get the full story at CBS News

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Middle-East: Technology drives travel spontaneity

September 26, 2014

54% of online bookers from the fourth annual YouGov Travel Oracle say technology has made their travel planning and booking ‘a lot’ more spontaneous versus 37% a year ago. The YouGov Travel Oracle is an annual syndicated online study of consumer habits and attitudes towards travel and tourism – which surveyed 22,686 Travellers in MENA between August and September 2014.

Tablet and smartphone usage is increasingly prevalent in planning travel this year. Travellers in the UAE and Egypt are using smartphones more often to engage with travel-related content pre-trip in 2014. Tablet usage is up slightly in the UAE and significantly in Egypt, with particularly high usage of tablet apps and reading more involved information sources such as online travel guides.

Hotel bookings through travel portals such as or Expedia are up year-on-year in all three Middle Eastern power markets (44% in 2014 vs. 29% in 2013). There is also a sharp rise in Egypt from only 16% of respondents booking hotels through travel portals in 2013, to a significant 40% in 2014.

Get the full story at Travel Daily ME

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Hotels use online reviews as blueprint for renovations

September 26, 2014

When it was time for Omni Hotels and Resorts to start a new round of renovations, executives made a point of installing more electrical outlets and better bathrooms.

The impetus for those upgrades? Complaints from travelers on review websites like TripAdvisor. “They certainly are not shy,” said Jon Hunter, vice president for operations at Omni Hotels and Resorts.

“It was obvious we didn’t have enough fixtures in the bedrooms that had electrical outlets,” he added. “As we scoped out new constructions or renovation projects, we certainly kept that in mind.”

Get the full story at The New York Times

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4 ways hotels can leverage Instagram for marketing

September 26, 2014

Image-driven platforms such as Instagram have given brands excellent opportunities to show the amazing product or service they offer.

Hotels are a great example of businesses that can benefit tremendously from these platforms because they can capture the experiences visitors have at their hotels and share the images with their online audiences.

To help hotels use Instagram more effectively in their marketing, here are four tactics you should use:

1. Highlight local sights and events

People travel to different locations to experience the local culture and see the sights. Hotels can take advantage of this by capturing and sharing pictures of local events or attractions. Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver for example has published Instagram photos of a recent Vancouver event called the Dîner en Blanc where attendees dressed all in white and enjoyed a night of fun under beautiful Vancouver evening skies.

Get the full story at Social Media Today

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Travelport and BCD Travel sign new multi-year global agreement

September 26, 2014

Travelport, a leading Travel Commerce Platform providing distribution, technology, payment and other solutions for the $7 trillion global travel and tourism industry, today announced it has entered into a long-term global agreement with travel management company BCD Travel, which operates in more than 100 countries globally and services about 30 percent of the top 100 largest companies in the world ranked by total annual airline volume.

The new agreement expands Travelport’s and BCD Travel’s long-term partnership and eventually will provide BCD Travel’s travel agents with Travelport Smartpoint, a dynamic and interactive desktop technology for improving agent productivity and customer service. The deal also will give BCD Travel access to Travelport’s industry-leading Rich Content and Branding merchandising solution.

Travelport Rich Content and Branding is a highly progressive technology which enables airlines to more effectively control how their fares and ancillaries are visually presented and described on travel agency screens, bringing agency screens more in line with the airline’s own website experience. The solution has received significant support and interest from airlines since its introduction earlier this year. Sixty (60) airlines have now signed up to participate, including leading carriers such as Delta, Avianca, Air India, Sun Country Airlines, Peruvian Airlines, Ryanair, British Airways, Iberia, easyJet, SilkAir, Singapore Airlines, Air China and United Airlines.

The agreement marks a significant milestone in Travelport’s more than 25-year business partnership with BCD Travel. In addition to providing BCD Travel with Travelport’s innovative technology and unrivalled content, the agreement also enables the two companies to offer expanded service and support to new and existing multinational customers.

“Travelport has proven itself a dependable business partner for BCD Travel for more than 25 years,” said Rose Stratford, BCD Travel executive vice president Global Supplier Relations and Strategic Sourcing. “We’re enthusiastic about having our travel agents use Travelport’s innovative technology and deliver even greater value to our mutual corporate clients.”

“Travelport is proud to have an important, long-term partner like BCD Travel recognize the value of the Travelport Travel Commerce Platform, including our leading point of sale technology and unsurpassed air and hotel content. We anticipate that BCD Travel will derive great value from our Travelport Smartpoint technology and Rich Content and Branding solution through increased productivity and customer service,” said Sandra McLeod, group vice president, global accounts and corporate direct sales for Travelport. “We’re committed to supporting BCD Travel’s strategic objectives by providing this innovative technology and the services that they have come to depend on from us which make booking travel easier, more customer-focused, and more profitable.”

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Travelzoo to launch digital magazine

September 26, 2014

UK managing director Joel Brandon-Bravo told Travel Weekly the magazine would not be available in print but would be accessible on tablets and smartphone via a Travelzoo magazine app and would also be available on its website "for our older customers who don't have smartphones and iPads".

Speaking at a Travel Weekly Business Breakfast on content, he said: "The aim of the project is to produce browsable content for people on their way home. That inspirational piece has always sat with the Sunday supplements or recommendations from friends and family so we need to offer much more than just the deals."

"I've been impressed by what The Week and Asos have done, and since Travelzoo has always had journalism at its core, this is a natural progression for us," he added.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

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As competition heats up, HotelTonight says good-bye to same-day only bookings

September 25, 2014

The new model will let hotels set different prices for same-day and advance booking on different types of rooms, increasing the chances of selling out inventory.

For users, it also seems to make a lot more sense. Perhaps other people are more adventurous than I am, but trusting that I can book a hotel on the same day I need somewhere to stay is too risky for me. With a week’s notice, the same use-case of iffy trips or last-minute emergencies is still covered, while offering a little added security on the side of the user and the hotel.

The landscape of last-minute hotel bookings has changed since HotelTonight launched. A number of competitors have entered the market — competitors like JustBook and Blink (acquired by Groupon) are inching into HotelTonight turf. And a new member in the space, Roomlia, has actually been offering seven-day advance booking since it launched at the end of August.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

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TripAdvisor means ‘make or break’ for hoteliers

September 25, 2014

Spain's hoteliers have been under pressure to please this summer, as online reviews have become more powerful than ever.

The consumer-led reviews website is now the go-to site for those planning a holiday.

Hotel Molino del Santo has recently been voted the second-best hotel in the whole of Spain. Andy Chapell, manager of the hotel, told the Olive Press: “We think TripAdvisor is great. It is very helpful to have so much positive feedback that new clients feel they can trust – and even the occasional less-than-complimentary comments are useful to help identify problems.”

But there is a dark side to TripAdvisor’s new-found influence.

Get the full story at the Olive Press

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Stayful wants to be the Expedia for boutique hotels

September 25, 2014

Stayful was founded by travel industry veterans Cheryl Rosner and Shariq Minhas. Rosner is CEO, after previously serving as president of Expedia Corporate Travel and, while Minhas led engineering at Jigsaw, and worked for travel sites Expedia and Hotwire.

There are plenty of services out there that try to line up the best deal on a hotel room for you. Stayful does something different by determining the lowest price you can use to bid on unbooked rooms at independent and boutique hotels.

Stayful uses an algorithm to find the lowest possible price for you. Instead of listing the price and you booking right then and there, you use that price to bid on the unbooked rooms in the independent hotel of your choosing. You can choose to try a bid lower than what is recommended, but the Stayful bid rate is optimized for success.

Watch interview at Bloomberg TV and read more on Stayful at TechCrunch and The Wall Street Journal

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Online reviews work, so why do so few hotels use them?

September 25, 2014

It may seem obvious, as the case for reviews on ecommerce sites is beyond doubt, but it seems hotels are reticent about this. Perhaps anxiety around TripAdvisor is partly to blame. There are enough cases of fake and malicious reviews to make many hoteliers think twice.

However, as a recent study shows, reviews actually encourage people to spend more:

- If prices are the same, users are 3.9 times more likely to choose a hotel with higher review scores.

- When hotel prices are increased for those hotels with higher review scores, people are still likely to book.

- The study found that 76% of customers were willing to pay more for a hotel with higher review scores.

Get the full story at Econsultancy

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Ryanair partners with Amadeus for travel agency distribution

September 25, 2014

The airline's ancillary services content will also be made available. The agreement also means that Ryanair's new Business Plus fares will be made available to Amadeus subscribers, offering business and corporate travelers a tailored package, including flexible ticket changes, a 20kg baggage allowance, fast-track at airports, priority boarding and premium seating.

Under the terms of the agreement Amadeus subscribers will not be subject to any surcharge when booking Ryanair and the fares displayed via Amadeus will have parity with Ryanair's other distribution channels, including its website.

The agreement marks a significant milestone for Ryanair in its journey to appeal to a wider cross-section of travelers. "Ryanair is pleased to partner with Amadeus whose technology represents a significant opportunity for us to reach a wider range of business and corporate customers," said Michael O'Leary, CEO Ryanair. "With more than 27% of our customers already traveling on business, we are continuing to improve Europe's best business service, with the lowest fares, most on-time flights and our tailored Business Plus service. For business travelers, corporations and TMCs, this agreement will mean greater access to our low fares and Europe's largest route network."

"Ryanair is one of the world's most successful low fare airlines so we are delighted the airline has seen the value of working with Amadeus to increase its reach, yield and merchandising capabilities," said Holger Taubmann, SVP Distribution, Amadeus. "Our technology will enable travel agencies to book Ryanair flights easily and seamlessly. For our subscriber partners, this agreement underlines our commitment to continued innovation in order to offer the widest possible range of airline content."

The use of Amadeus' revolutionary technology, designed specifically for low fare airlines, provides simplicity for both Ryanair and Amadeus travel agency partners. With a completely ticketless approach for the airline, dynamic fares and ancillary content are provided via an XML link to Amadeus. Amadeus subscribers' experience of booking Ryanair flights and ancillary services will be exactly the same as booking any other airline through the Amadeus system with the complete integration of traditional shopping, booking and back-office processes combined with real-time dynamic fares and services.

Read also "Ryanair/Amadeus: promo fares not on GDS; no US/China deal yet" at Tnooz

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Accor moves marketing base to Singapore

September 25, 2014

Paris-based Accor will be moving its Luxury and Upscale marketing operations from Paris, France, to Singapore as it looks to capitalise on the continued growth in Asia Pacific.

The company said in its media release that the move signalled the growing importance of Asia Pacific in these segments and, with Asian consumers accounting for almost half of its global luxury sales, it hoped the move would bring new insights for its business unit. Accor has its headquarters in Paris, but has a business presence in 92 countries.

In Asia Pacific, Chairman and CEO of Accor Asia Pacific Michael Issenberg said it has more than 170 luxury and upscale hotels, with over 70 under development. "This means that Accor will open, on average, a new luxury and upscale hotel in Asia Pacific every month for the next five years."

Get the full story at Channel News Asia

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Red Roof taps Leonardo as central hub for visual content management and distribution

September 25, 2014

Leonardo Worldwide Corporation and Red Roof have been working together to strengthen the way Red Roof properties are presented online. Utilizing Leonardo’s VScape Digital Asset Management System as its central hub to manage and distribute hotel visual content, Red Roof has direct connectivity to the largest network of travel websites and advanced multi-media display technology used to present hotel visual content throughout the website.

Media Syndication to Largest Network

Leonardo’s VScape Digital Asset Management System connects R ed Roof with the industry’s largest network of travel websites to:

- Syndicate visual content to over 120 directly connected travel websites, including all four GDSs, major OTAs, non-OTA travel research sites as well as tens of thousands of forward distribution channels.

- Ensure the right images are displayed for its hotels through automated matching using GDS codes.

- Upload images in any size and format and for automatic re-sizing and re-formatting to meet the requirements of each channel and device.

- Tailor image syndication for specific guest segments on corporate self-booking tools, leisure travel websites and specialty sites.

- Quickly and easily report on media views and performance across key channels.

Enhanced Visual Experiences on

Leonardo’s Multi-Media Display Galleries, also managed through VScape, enhance the visual experience on Red Roof’s website by:

- Getting large, high-resolution visuals in front of website visitors on multiple pag es, including search results, property detail and reservation pages.

- Displaying multiple types of media including images, 360° virtual tours and video.

- Presenting optimized galleries to website visitors according to their software, bandwidth and device/screen size.

- Ensuring media loads quickly through the world’s most reliable Content Delivery Networks, distribute d globally.

Red Roof has also chosen Leonardo’s VBrochure Online Merchandising System as the preferred solution for its properties to syndicate virtual tours and video as well as additional photos to the VNetwork.

“We are pleased to be helping Red Roof create more engaging visual experiences for their hotels on travel websites and which we believe has a significant impact on their engagement and sales conversions. Red Roof benefits from being able to manage hotel media for syndication to our network and display on their websites using the same system and joins many of the world’s largest hotel chains that have integrated our media display galleries on their websites,” said Leonardo’s President, John McAuliffe.

“We know that visuals influence hotel bookings and that consumers are expecting highly visual experiences at all stages in the hotel shopping journey. After using numerous different vendors and systems for managing, distributing and displaying media, we needed a technology-focused partner like Leonardo to bring it all into one place and ensure we are always meeting consumer expectations for hotel media on our website and third party channels,” said Marina MacDonald, SVP Sales and Marketing at Red Roof.

Related Link: Leonardo

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TripAdvisor launches new edition of TripBarometer, showcasing the psychology of travel

September 25, 2014

TripAdvisor today announced the results of the latest installment of TripBarometer, the world's largest traveler and accommodation survey1 focusing for the first time on the Psychology of Travel. The biannual study, conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor by independent research firm Ipsos, highlights country, regional and global travel trends according to more than 53,000 travelers and hoteliers around the world, with more than 5,900 respondents from the U.S. The TripBarometer: Psychology of Travel report examines the motivations behind travelers' vacation choices, traveler emotions at the various stages of a vacation and the post-trip impact of travel.

U.S. Travelers Prioritize Unique Experiences, Family Time and Cultural Enrichment

When asked what they want out of vacation, the top priority for U.S. travelers was to have unique and interesting experiences, according to 66 percent of respondents.

"Travelers from Barcelona to Beijing crave unique and interesting experiences. Whether they get a few days or a few weeks of vacation, they want more from their trips than time spent lounging by the pool," said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer, TripAdvisor. "The TripBarometer: Psychology of Travel report shows us that travelers want their vacation to count – it's about broadening horizons, feeling immersed in local culture and sharing the experience with loved ones."

The Emotions of the Travel Lifecycle for U.S. Travelers

The TripBarometer shows that the travel lifecycle is an emotional experience, as feelings ebb and flow throughout various stages of the trip:

Globally, men have a higher tendency to feel 'knowledgeable' (27%) at the booking stage, whereas women are more 'excited' (60%). Twenty-two percent of men report feeling 'in control' on departure and 15 percent of men say they feel 'confident' once back home, higher than the global average at both stages.

In contrast, hoteliers have an opportunity to entice travelers when they are excited, and to contribute to their guests feeling more knowledgeable throughout their stay. As part of the study, hoteliers were asked what actions they took throughout the traveler journey to relate to their guests. Fifty-two percent of global hoteliers say their main priority is to ensure a smooth and efficient process at booking and 36 percent are keen to minimize any potential stress leading up to arrival.

"The results of the TripBarometer highlight that hoteliers can stand out from the competition by providing unique and enriching experiences. And while it's no surprise that travelers tend to be excited when they book and prepare for a trip, hoteliers are missing an opportunity to capitalize on that excitement and begin building a lasting relationship with their guests. Only a minority of hotels are currently making this a priority, but those who do also tend to receive more repeat guests," said Marc Charron, president, TripAdvisor for Business.

The Post-Vacation Impact on U.S. Travelers

When asked what a return from vacation is most likely to prompt them to do, the vast majority go about researching their next trip and also make some lifestyle changes:

1. Plan more vacations – 76% (66% globally)
2. Introduce new food into diet – 55% (38% globally)
3. Become more open minded and tolerant of others – 49% (45% globally)
4. Have more appreciation for home city – 41% (34% globally)
5. Focus more on relationships with friends and family – 31% (23% globally)

For additional information about TripBarometer, please visit and download the global report.

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Six emerging travel industry marketing trends

September 24, 2014

The growth of social media and the need to feel some part of community is driving this trend, according to JWT’s planning foresight director Marie Stafford. Businesses recognising the trend and being inspired by P2P include easyGroup, which has launched easyCar Club, while W Hotels is working with desksnearme.

The percentage of the population regarded as elderly is increasing and this will have a big impact on services, products, marketing plans and staff, as older people want to deal with staff of the same age. The upside is that the older generation is likely to have more disposable income and be healthier than their predecessors but as professor of gerontology Sarah Harper pointed out, several countries are looking at making a retirement age of 70 before the state pension is available and this wipes out a whole group of 60 plus retired travellers.

Brands need to collaborate to deliver an excellent end to end customer experience and the associated trust. Chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service Jo Causon pointed out that when flying she now considers the airport and its facilities ahead of choosing an airline. The airport experience pre and post flight is formed by contact with many brands and the customer expects a seamless and positive relationship with all of them.

Get the full story at MarketingWeek

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Around 90 percent of travel bookings today involves going online compared to only 50 percent in 2006

September 24, 2014

Another GfK study affirmed the rapidly rising dominance of the Internet in recent years, where a further one-third of all travelers have transited to using the internet for their travel bookings since four years ago—from 58 percent to today’s 90 percent. GfK’s Travel Director, Laurens Van Den Oever shared these insights at the recent China Tourism Industries Exposition held in Tianjin on 19 September 2014.

“Today, the internet is a part of the consumer journey for nearly all travelers, with some spending at least three hours researching for information—even if it doesn’t end up with them making the final purchase online,” said Van Den Oever. “A study conducted in Hong Kong showed that three in every four travelers (75%) used a combination of online and offline platforms, while 14 percent of used only the internet throughout the process leading to their online travel bookings.”

For the majority whose cross channel usage is strong—their purchase journey presents high complexity to companies and marketers who are eyeing the consumer dollar. For instance, the average online flight ticket purchaser visits 22 travel websites; including online travel agents, travel advisor, deals/group buys, airline companies, reviews/forums/blogs, facebook pages, etc.

“Destructive competition, concentration tendencies and an ever-increasing fragmented marketplace has greatly altered the supply chain over the years; making the travel market more sophisticated today,” said Van den Oever. “The consumer’s purchase journey has evolved to become extremely complex—so it is extremely vital that players in the travel sector understand the process and be in the right place with their message to secure the deal.”

Get the full story at ITCM

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For Airbnb and HomeAway, plenty of room available for expansion

September 24, 2014

According to a May 2014 study by Warren Weiss Co. for Travel Weekly, just 8% of US leisure travelers—internet users ages 21 and older who had taken at least one overnight leisure trip in the past 12 months - had heard of and used a home and lodging rentals service such as Airbnb or HomeAway, while 63% of respondents had never heard of them before.

Among the remaining 29% of leisure travelers who had heard of these services, respondents were split on whether or not they would use them, with answers skewing slightly toward the negative. But in all, the majority of those who were aware of home and lodging rentals services had or would consider using them - and Travel Weekly predicted this would increase even more as word and publicity spread and advertising pops up.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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Travel metasearch sites dig in against DOT

September 24, 2014

n a joint filing, the six sites (Google, Kayak, TripAdvisor, Skyscanner, Travelzoo and Hipmunk) staunchly condemned the DOT’s proposal to exert jurisdiction over their air travel displays, saying they are information providers and not “ticket agents.”

They said the DOT should withdraw its proposal and intimated they would fight it in court if the DOT went ahead, expressing the view that the plan would “not survive judicial scrutiny.”

In a controversial rulemaking notice in May, the DOT proposed, among other things, to broaden the definition of the term “ticket agent,” to include “entities operating websites that provide flight-search tools that manipulate, manage and display fare, schedule and availability information.”

The DOT said such sites had become important “entry points” for consumers and should be required to abide by certain consumer-protection rules or disclosure requirements regarding display bias, codeshares or ancillary fees.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Chinese outbound travel website Woqu raises $20 million

September 24, 2014 started in April 2014, by former president Evan Huang. Even before this round of financing, had already received several million US$ in seed capital from Morningside Venture Capital in less than a year after establishment. offers thousands of DIY travel and semi-independent travel products for USA including: hotels, car rental, airport transfer, local tours and activities, visa, insurance, SIM card etc. The key to’s competitiveness is their underlying structure of direct supplier relationship, which removes exploitive middlemen, and the efficiency of their data system transactions. .

Evan Huang explained Woqu’s strategy of stepping into US travel market, “The customer base is vast and there is plenty of room for growth”. Firstly, 1.4 million Chinese traveled to the US in 2012, while this number will be increasing to 2 million in 2014. By focusing on the niche services such as US DIY travel, startups like can avoid competition with other industry giants. Secondly, the US offers a variety of travel options and packages and a chance for startups to explore different models which can then be introduced to other regional markets. on one hand faces the challenge of industry giants. For example Ctrip has teamed up with Priceline and has made an investment in, China’s leading player in online tour packaging. On the other hand under the “Tencent System” has become a strong industry player.

Get the full story at TravelDaily China

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The next big thing in responsive design

September 24, 2014

To capture a user’s attention for the next generation of the web, you’ll need more than just responsive design. You’ll need a responsive philosophy. Websites should do more than respond to devices. Web experiences should respond to multiple contexts so that they’re meaningful to every reader, in every moment, on every device.

As brands become more publisher-like, they’ll also need to incorporate a responsive philosophy that adapts to the user so that they can reach them at the right time, with the right messaging, and an understanding of cultural events.

But to truly adopt a responsive philosophy, you can’t slap new paint on an old house. You must create dynamic systems that can ingest, analyze and act on information to serve a tailored experience. In the future, these systems can adjust to incorporate new editorial needs, technologies, and user behaviors.

Get the full story at Fast Company

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Smart Travel Analytics 2015: the Big Data event to answer your big questions

September 24, 2014

“Data analytics has transformed the culture at JetBlue to one which embraces testing and measurement in order to better serve our customers” says Greg Stiller from JetBlue, one of the confirmed speakers for Smart Travel Analytics 2015, an EyeforTravel event that is now into its third year. Other confirmed speakers come from big name brands including United Airlines, Hilton, Caesars Entertainment, Wyndham Worldwide, Facebook, Emirates and Carlson Wagonlit.

The agenda is set following four months of intense industry research involving conversations with big and small brands alike. That research has revealed just how much the growth of data is impacting the industry and which areas need to be addressed to fully take advantage.

Dominant themes include how brands can achieve a holistic view of their data, and the need to break down silos between departments so data can be leveraged to improve performance and increase revenue. What everybody agrees on is that revenue managers and marketers need to start working together to achieve shared goals.

So big goals but there are big questions to answer too. How, for example, do you go about implementing this type of internal change? Can you shift mindsets enough to align departments that are fundamentally very different to each other in order to take advantage of the opportunities analytics presents?

Collaboration between departments can help in a number of ways. To:

- Gain customer understanding for increased loyalty and sales
- Personalise your upsell strategy throughout all stages of the customer journey
- Structure unstructured social data to tailor unique offers to customers
- Improve data visualisation for faster, smarter decision-making.

All these challenges present exciting opportunities for travel brands and will be discussed in depth throughout the two days.

Death by Powerpoint

Previous delegates have revealed that the traditional conference format does not lend itself to this topic as well as others. The call was for more hands-on discussion on how to use analytics, rather than a simple reliance on Powerpoint presentations. Responding to industry feedback, this year’s roundtable discussions will ensure that delegates learn how to put the theory into practice.

How to leverage big data to drive customer engagement will be at the heart of the agenda for this year’s Smart Travel Analytics North America. The event will take place over two days, attracting 150+ senior travel executives.

The event e-brochure has just been released, which contains the full agenda, speaker line-up and registration details, and can be downloaded at EyeForTravel

To celebrate the event launch EyeforTravel are offering a $100 discount for registrations received before Monday 29th September.

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Millennial travel spend outpaces boomers, Gen X

September 24, 2014

Steve Cohen, VP of insights for MMGY, said the demands millennials have are different from previous generations, and they are spending more money on vacations.

“They’ve spent the second-most on vacations in the last 12 months among the four generational categories, and they’re looking to spend the second most among the four categories in the next 12 months,” he said. The mature generation took the No. 1 slot in both time frames.

“Everything we see suggests that millennials are traveling more. … Travel intentions among millennials is up 10%. Compared to the other generational groups, they’re the only ones that are up. Xers are down 6%; boomers are down 1%; matures are down 3%,” Cohen said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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New ABTA study sees significant growth in the use of tablets for booking travel online

September 23, 2014

Tablets are now also marginally more popular than mobiles for online bookings, according to the latest Abta research.

The PC remains the most popular device for online booking with 93% of consumers using a PC or laptop in the past 12 months. Yet while desktop computers remain dominant, their usage has slipped from last year, particularly amongst 16-24 year olds, as they switch to book via mobiles and tablets.

Consumers regard the PC as the easiest and most secure way of booking online with 85% of those using a PC stating these as essential or important reasons for choosing it. Tablets are the preferred option for saving time with 77% of people who used a tablet saying this was an essential or important reason for choosing it. Mobile phones are the least preferred way of booking online as they are seen as relatively less secure and less easy to use than alternatives.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

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Strong hotel performance enables hoteliers to reduce discounting

September 23, 2014

“We’re starting to see an emerging trend toward the reduction of transient discounting for RevPAR improvement,” said John Hach, Senior Vice President, Global Product Management of TravelClick. “When demand is strong and sustainable, savvy hoteliers actively manage to minimize discounts for increased RevPAR performance. We anticipate this trend to continue, especially in markets experiencing strong group advance reservation volume. Ultimately, hoteliers are setup to generate more revenue for the remainder of this year into 2015.”

For the next 12 months (September 2014 – August 2015), overall committed occupancy* is up 4.4 percent when compared to the same time last year. ADR is up 4.1 percent based on reservations currently on the books.

Transient bookings are up 6.9 percent year-over-year and ADR for this segment is up 5.1 percent. When broken down further, the transient leisure (discount, qualified and wholesale) segment is showing occupancy gains of 6.6 percent and ADR gains of 5.3 percent. Transient business (negotiated and retail) segment occupancy is up 7.3 percent and ADR is up 5.0 percent. Group segment occupancy is ahead by 3.3 percent and ADR is up 1.8 percent, compared to the same time last year.

Get the full story at TravelClick

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Asian hoteliers optimistic about online hotel booking growth

September 23, 2014

And the rise of social media and online review sites across Asia appears to be having a significant influence on the hotel sector. Ninety-four percent of hoteliers surveyed at the event stated that a hotel’s online reputation can have an impact on a guest’s purchasing decision, while 66% said they believe that a hotel’s online reputation can influence how hoteliers price their rooms and services.

“In an increasingly digital age, an hotelier’s reputation has never been more critical. With the ability for guests to share both positive and negative hotel experiences to large groups of people – including potential guests – in real-time, ensuring that guests have a positive perception of your hotel is paramount,” said Gladys Ang, IDeaS’ regional director of sales.

“While online reviews have been generally used by hoteliers to help improve operational and marketing activities to date, the proven relationship between online reputation and pricing means that hoteliers need to incorporate online reputation data when they develop their pricing strategies, consider their competitive positioning and make tactical pricing adjustments.”

Get the full story at Travel Daily Asia

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Where and how Indians plan their travel abroad

September 23, 2014

According to a recent study1 by TripAdvisor the number of Indians planning to travel abroad in 2014 has gone up by 21 percent compared to last year and this clearly reflects in the Outbound Travel Trends that were revealed today. The findings are based on the website traffic2 during the period January 1 to June 30, 2014.

The results show that Indians prefer travelling closer home with Asian cities dominating the ‘Top 20 Destinations’ and Asia being the ‘Top Continent’. US takes number 1 spot in the ‘Top Countries’ category. The data reveals interesting findings in the ‘Emerging Destinations’ and ‘Emerging Countries’ categories with Ambergris Caye, Belize topping the list in the former category and China leading in the latter respectively.

“From destination preferences to cuisine choices to what Indian travellers like to do while on holiday, the TripAdvisor Outbound travel lookback for the first half of 2014 reveals a lot about the way we travel. With interest in destinations such as Belize, Brazil, Tokyo and Bhutan growing at a rapid pace, and alternate forms of accommodation such as vacation rentals and B&B’s being used while on a foreign vacation, Indian travellers definitely seem to be coming of age” says Nikhil Ganju, Country Manager, TripAdvisor India.

Looking at the accommodation space, it seems Indians are moving away from being traditional holiday goers with respect to lodging preferences. The global statistics show that almost 30% favour options such as bed&breakfast, vacation rentals etc. vs hotels (70%). This trend is further reflected in the global room rates data with almost 50% outbound Indians opting for rooms up to INR 5000.

When it comes to recreational activities at the holiday destination, global numbers indicate that majority of Indian travellers prefer outdoor things to do. Almost 30% look at ‘outdoor’ activities followed by ‘cultural’ activities at nearly 25%. Examining country specific data - ‘outdoor’ emerges number 1 in the ‘Top Attractions’ category in US and Thailand as well however, in the UK it is ‘sightseeing’ that takes the top spot (14.68%) followed closely by ‘cultural’ (14.16%) and then ‘outdoor’ (12.96%).

Download the full report at (PDF 1.6 MB)

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How Brasil’s Hotel Urbano uses dynamic remarketing

September 23, 2014

First, Hotel Urbano set out to bring consumers back to their cart to complete their purchase, using dynamic remarketing. Now, every time a site visitor puts something in the Hotel Urbano shopping cart and doesn't buy, the company reaches him or her with a dynamic ad on Google Display Network. The ad uses a custom, multiple-item layout to show the forgone shopping cart item along with a couple of other dynamically recommended items. In addition, the ad's design aligns with the company's website.

Second, Hotel Urbano moved up the funnel with its strategy, using dynamic remarketing for mid- and upper-funnel targeting. This involved reaching previous destination searches and vistors to the site's homepage and packaging pages with dynamic ads.

Hotel Urbano believes in connecting people to their dreams, to free leisure and to a high quality of life. As a travel company, when Hotel Urbano brings customers back to complete purchases, it is helping these customers take some quality time off. So, the conversions attributed to dynamic remarketing are equally good for Hotel Urbano and its prospective customers. Filippo says, "It's important for people to enjoy more time with family, friends and people they love. We thrive on making that happen."

Get the full story at Think with Google

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UK travel agent bookings rise, finds research

September 23, 2014

The Abta study shows that 41% booked at least one overseas holiday direct in 2013, compared to 34% this year. During the same time period, more people booked both an overseas holiday and a domestic holiday with a travel agent, either online or on the high street.

High street agents are particularly popular among 35-44 year olds, with more than a quarter (28%) booking a holiday abroad in this way, suggesting that those booking family holidays welcome the benefits of face-to-face contact.

Agents are also particularly popular with younger consumers aged 16-24, with 18% using a high street travel agent and 36% an agent online to book at least one overseas holiday.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

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Travelport signs new long term agreement with Carlson Wagonlit Travel

September 23, 2014

Travelport, a leading Travel Commerce Platform providing distribution, technology, payment and other solutions for the $7 trillion global travel and tourism industry and Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), one of the world’s leading travel management companies, have today announced an expanded multi-year, global agreement.

The agreement builds upon the two companies’ already long standing relationship and creates a long-term commercial framework to lead and define the working partnership between the two organizations through to the next decade.

As part of the agreement, CWT Travel Counselors will continue to have access to Travelport’s unsurpassed travel content inventory, which includes fares and now ancillaries from the world’s leading network and low cost carriers, as well as its industry leading merchandising and desktop technology. Travelport will, in turn, benefit from new and incremental business from CWT in certain targeted countries in Europe and the Pacific regions.

Gordon Wilson, president and CEO, Travelport commented: “This new agreement with CWT represents a strong, long term commitment to Travelport and expands the successful global partnership we have enjoyed now for many years – it clearly demonstrates how positively CWT view both our team and our Travel Commerce Platform offering.”

Doug Anderson, president and CEO, CWT commented: "At CWT, we know that to provide best-in-class support to our clients and their travelers, we must balance the latest digital technology with outstanding customer service, today and in the future. Our new agreement with Travelport allows us to continue to do just that."

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The effect of reviews on hotel conversion rates and pricing

September 23, 2014

TrustYou, the inventor of the Meta-ReviewTM and global online reputation management leader, working in conjunction with Donna Quadri-Felitti, Academic Chair and Clinical Associate Professor at NYU, Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, has developed a study to understand the link between reviews and hotel conversion rates and pricing. The study, which is available here for free download, is the first of its kind using simulated booking engines and heat mapping technology to determine consumers’ hotel choices.

Here’s what hotels should know about the link between travel reviews and prices:

- Travelers are 3.9 times more likely to choose a hotel with higher review scores when the prices are the same.

- When hotel prices are increased for hotels with better review scores, travelers are more likely to book the hotel with the higher score even when it costs more.

- 76% of travelers were willing to pay more for a hotel with higher review scores, when asked explicitly.

“This research shows that travel reviews have a significant impact both on conversion rates as well as pricing,” said Margaret Ady, Vice President of Marketing at TrustYou. “Hoteliers that effectively manage and improve their online reputations have the opportunity to increase revenue, both with more bookings and higher prices.”

“The effect that reviews have on the price that travelers are willing to pay is especially profound. In our simulations, hotels with the highest review scores received significantly higher clickthrough than lower rated hotels,” adds Donna Quadri-Felitti, Academic Chair and Clinical Associate Professor at NYU, Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism.

The study was conducted using an online survey panel that was drawn from a nationally representative US panel of Internet users during August and September of 2014. Respondents participated in an online questionnaire about their hotel booking habits. The research instrument included four graphics, each containing three hypothetical hotel choices in simulated booking engines.

Download the full report at TrustYou (free registration)

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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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