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Direct booking is gaining popularity

February 26, 2015

Expedia, the online booking site that owns other major players, including, Hotwire and, more recently, Travelocity, announced about two weeks ago that it was planning to acquire yet another rival, Orbitz Worldwide.

So what does that mean for travelers?

Consider it a sign of the sea change already underway. Over the last few years Americans have been more likely to book flights on an airline website such as or than with an online agent like Expedia or Priceline — “officially ending” online travel agents’ “decade-long dominance in leisure air bookings,” declared a 2014 report from PhoCusWright, a market research company. The percent of leisure travelers who typically book their airfare with online travel agents was 32 percent in 2013, down from 37 percent in 2011, according to the report.

Analysts suggest that the shift is in part the result of travelers’ expanding appetite for modest comforts such as priority boarding and seats with more legroom, which can’t always be booked through third-party sites. Airlines have poured millions into their websites so that travelers can customize (read: increase the cost of) their flights with a few clicks or taps, adding lounge passes and Wi-Fi. And to sweeten the pot, some airlines are wooing travelers to their sites with the occasional discount code.

Get the full story at The New York Times

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Google improves Google Flights

February 26, 2015

If you’re planning a trip further out than what Google has prices listed for, you can use the lowest fares graph to somewhat accurately predict how prices are going to fluctuate from month to month.

In addition, you can set flight preferences, such as direct flights only, to only see prices for flights that meet your needs.

If you make all your selections, but Google determines there’s a cheaper option available, it will tip you off to cheaper dates or cheaper routes just to make sure you’re satisfied with what you have chosen.

Get the full story at Google

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Business travelers rate internet over food and comfort

February 26, 2015

Results of a YouGov poll of 2,000 British adults, released to coincide with the opening of the Business Travel Show in London, show that more than half of Millennial travellers value a high-speed broadband connection, compared to 39% of older travellers.

On the whole, 46% of younger people are more enthusiastic about future innovations, with appetite for access to technology in rooms being notably higher than older age brackets.

However, 89% chose a comfortable bed as an important factor when staying away from home.

Saco sales director Ben Harper said: “Our new research findings serve to underpin the travel behaviours of Millennials and consequently what we foresee for the future of business travel.

Get the full story at Travel Weeky

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How travel advertisers should use search marketing benchmarks

February 26, 2015

Who do you currently use to benchmark your search marketing performance? If you say, “Myself, of course,” you’re definitely not alone.

Benchmarking yourself against yourself (i.e., “present you” versus “historical you”) can definitely be helpful. It can lead to incremental improvements in search marketing and is an easy and fast method of evaluating progress.

However, internal benchmarks are lousy at revealing your true potential. Without a broader industry perspective – including specific competitors and industry leaders – you are essentially operating in a vacuum. It’s similar to a golfer trying to win a tournament by training by himself, without knowing how other golfers will likely perform.

Get the full story at Search Engine Land

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3 tech-saavy hotels offering great 21st century amenities

February 26, 2015

Here's a look at three particularly innovative luxury hotels with high-tech amenities and services.

The Stanford Court, San Francisco

Northern California is at the center of the technology boom, so it’s no shock that San Francisco is at the forefront of US hotel innovations. What is surprising, is that it’s not happening in Silicon Valley, but rather at the top of traditional Nob Hill (aka Snob Hill), which was established by the Big Four railway barons at the turn of the century, and has more recently been ruled by the city’s wealthiest widows and socialites.

Now shaking things up is the 100-year-old Stanford Court which has been drawing a young demographic of business and leisure travelers to The City by the Bay thanks to its contemporary redesign and forward-thinking tech capabilities.

Get the full story at JustLuxe

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The marketing department of the future

February 26, 2015

In large corporations and similar companies that have been in existence for decades, digital marketing is often added as a second parallel structure alongside the historical marketing activities. The incorrect assumption is that traditional and Internet marketing are entirely different things that need entirely separate approaches.

The article classifies individual marketers as strategists, creatives, communicators, or auditors. Generalists as well as marketing and communications veterans tend to make good strategists. Great writers, graphic designers, and videographers are creatives. People with experience in public relations, publicity, and community relations are communicators. Analytics experts can be auditors.

But the important thing is that each "category" of people needs to learn as much as possible about executing their functions via all needed traditional and online methods. Creatives need to focus on writing, graphics, and video. Communicators need to learn how to use all communications channels – e-mail, the telephone, social media, and more. Auditors need to understand how to measure ROI and related metrics in terms of online conversions, media hits, brand awareness, and more.

Get the full story at Moz

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HeBS Digital and eCornell to host webinar on dynamic content personalization

February 26, 2015

Dynamic Content Personalization allows hotel marketers to deliver unique and highly relevant textual, visual, and promotional content to site visitors based on a variety of factors including geographic location, website behavior, past booking history, customer segment, reward program affiliation, and more. By personalizing content to better engage and resonate with website visitors, hotel marketers can retain existing and capture new customers, boost direct online bookings and ultimately shift market share away from the OTAs.

Attendees will learn how to:

- Recognize and reward specific customer segments by displaying personalized and relevant content that speaks to their preferences and expectations

- Differentiate their resort or hotel from the competition and the OTA channel

- Deliver higher levels of consumer satisfaction from the direct hotel website experience

- Significantly increase website conversions and revenues

“Recognizing and rewarding important customer segments by displaying relevant content that speaks directly to them has a powerful impact on a hotel website’s conversion rates,” said Mariana Safer, Senior Vice President, Marketing at HeBS Digital. “By personalizing the website experience, hoteliers can better meet the needs of their website visitors with more relevant content while boosting conversion and maximizing online revenues. This strategy offers new opportunities and an incredible competitive advantage to hoteliers who are early to adapt.”

Join HeBS Digital and eCornell for our webinar, “Dynamic Content Personalization: Hoteliers’ Powerful New Tool to Maximizing Website Revenue and Conversions,“ on Wednesday March 4 at 1:00PM EST.

To learn more about Dynamic Content Personalization, download the HeBS Digital white paper, How Dynamic Content Personalization Maximizes Website Revenues and Increases Customer Loyalty.

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Vizergy wins top industry honors for digital marketing & web design

February 26, 2015

Custom website designs paired with search engine optimization for Aloft Washington National Harbor and Woodcliff Hotel and Spa earned Vizergy two prestigious Gold Adrian Awards at last night’s annual gala celebration. Vizergy also brought home a bronze Adrian Award for their work reinventing the online presence for the Hard Rock Hotels and Resorts, through high-level branding and website development.

By highlighting the unique onsite features for each property, crafting bold calls to action and utilizing prominent booking engine technology, Vizergy constructed each website with seamless and intuitive navigation, providing online travel shoppers the most flawless and responsive booking experience on the market.

In addition, Vizergy’s Google AdWords certified team implemented an amplified strategy for keywords and phrases to bolster search engine optimization for the properties’ custom websites. As a result, each property has experienced enhanced online search rankings and garnered increased web traffic with a marked increase in direct booking revenue.

This year marks the 58th anniversary of the Adrian Awards, the largest and most prestigious travel marketing competition in the industry. Vizergy is proud to be selected as a winner in multiple categories by top executives from all sectors of the industry.

“We are honored to be recognized once again for exceptional work in the realm of online travel marketing and design, for ourselves and our valued clients,” said Robert Arnold, President of Vizergy Digital Travel Marketing. “Our number one goal is always to achieve the best results for our clients. These successes are a remarkable achievement and we are thrilled to receive such prominent industry accolades.”

Related Link: Vizergy

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Mobile marketing in the travel industry

February 25, 2015

What are the key mobile challenges facing the travel industry?

Peter Kelly (ADARA): Mobile technology is increasingly being used for browsing purposes with consumers often conducting research on their mobile before committing to purchase. This links directly to the biggest challenge in the industry, however, as travel companies need to understand the consumer path to purchase and ensure conversions to spend. Working out how to engage in relevant, one-to-one relationships with customers is key to completing the purchase cycle, but this increasingly requires consideration of multiple digital and physical channels.

Jim Banks (Cheapflights): Rising cost per click on advertising, limited advertising results being shown. Less consumer time for engagement on mobile. Usually consumers are killing time on mobile. Companies also need to keep up with tech developments, such as mobile attribution platforms. However, these need to be tailored specifically to each company, which is costly and takes a long time to create. Using indirect marketing channels means that it is difficult to track a single consumer and there are also issues associated with using the ‘last click’ attribution model, namely who should be paid.

Get the full story at PerformanceIN and download the Travel Performance Marketing report at PerformanceIn (free registration)

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U.S. travel abroad up 10%; Mexico, Canada and Europe top spots

February 25, 2015

The previous record of outbound travelers was 64 million in 2007, shortly before the national recession dealt a serious blow to the nation's travel industry, according to the National Travel & Tourism Office of the Commerce Department.

Growth in travel abroad has been steady for the last two years, said Ron Erdmann, a spokesman for the tourism office. But he said the growth surged last year. "We haven't seen double-digit growth since 2004," he said.

The long-term travel trends, however, have not changed much, with federal statistics showing Mexico, Canada and Europe as the most popular destinations in 2014. "Those have by far been the dominant three" destinations," Erdmann said.

Get the full story at the Los Angeles Times

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Hotel marketers rethink the affluent market

February 25, 2015

Marketing to the wealthy is largely a personalized process. One route to the rich that remains resilient because of personal relationships is travel professionals.

Robert Gaymer-Jones, former CEO of Sofitel and now CEO of newly formed Panorama Hospitality Management Company, said the most effective link to the affluent remains high-end travel agents.

“We are meeting with them individually,” he said, “and making them understand what we are developing. Since we have two years until our first opening, we have the time to develop relationships with these travel agents.”

Andre Boersma, GM of Sugar Beach, a Viceroy resort on St. Lucia, also sees travel professionals as important.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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NexTravel wants to change the way corporate travel is booked

February 25, 2015

The site is designed to allow employees to create profiles, enter travel preferences and loyalty rewards programs, and search for flights, hotels and rental cars through an easy-to-use platform. But on the back end, managers are given tools to create policies, prevent excessive spend, and track trips employees have booked.

NexTravel provides the same sort of discounts larger corporations typically get, and can customize rewards based on travel programs and frequent-flier programs. It also provides centralized travel receipts for employees.

Unlike more traditional corporate travel options, NexTravel doesn’t take booking fees from clients. Instead, it makes money on the back end by charging for complex integrations with employer HR and expense systems.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

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Starwood and Uber enter a global partnership

February 25, 2015

“This new partnership with Uber accelerates our SPG members’ drive to rewards and is just one more way that Starwood is combining high tech and high touch to transform their travel experiences,” said Adam Aron, CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “It is especially satisfying for us at Starwood to be partnering with a cutting edge and innovative pioneer like Uber. It is truly impressive to see how Uber has revolutionized transportation for the better."

With this new partnership, Starwood and Uber are enhancing the guest travel experience by ushering in the next generation in travel rewards. Now earning coveted Starpoints is as easy as requesting an Uber. After linking existing SPG and Uber accounts at and completing one qualifying stay in the calendar year at any Starwood hotel worldwide, SPG members using Uber can simply sit back and enjoy the ride—during their stay or every day—while watching their points rack up.

The global partnership is available in every market where Uber operates, including throughout the United States, China, Brazil, and across Europe. For more information and full details on the partnership, please see

"When we looked at how to make the Uber experience even better for our millions of riders worldwide, a partnership with Starwood was a natural fit. There’s a Starwood property in the majority of the 291 cities where Uber operates,” said Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber. “With this first-of-its-kind partnership, SPG members can now get an extra reward for taking an Uber anytime anywhere."

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TravelClick & HSMAI announce eMarketer award winners

February 25, 2015

The eMarketer of the Year Award, now in its 14th year, honors excellence in hospitality digital marketing. In order to compete for the prestigious award, applicants provide detailed data on their emarketing strategies and campaigns and are judged by an independent panel of digital marketing and ecommerce experts. This is the third year in a row Best Western has won the award and a first time honor for Qbic Hotel London City.

“The popularity of online bookings, social media and the growing power of mobile to engage consumers is causing hotels to transform their marketing strategies in order to drive bookings and create deeper guest connections. Best Western and Qbic Hotel London City understand exactly what their guests want and consistently delivered innovative digital campaigns that stay true to their brand and their traveler. Both brands’ appetites for taking risks, creativity and a true understanding of its customer set the standard for other hotels to follow in developing impactful digital marketing campaigns,” said John Hach, Senior Vice President, Global Product Management at TravelClick.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Shortcuts that kill revenue: Using the “DIY” or “Build It Quick and Cheap” approach for hotel sites

February 25, 2015

By Max Starkov

Recently, a major player in the industry announced the launch of their new $399/month service for “DIY” hotel websites. In the past, there have been many attempts to help hoteliers create a quick and cheap website presence, dating back to 1997 and GoDaddy. The main premise of this approach is that all hoteliers need is a website, and that any website would do: choose from a few design templates, slap some photos, add thin, unappetizing descriptions and textual content with no SEO value, add a booking engine widget, and voila! There you have it! This is exactly what $399/month buys these days.

Unfortunately, in this multi-channel, multi-device world we live in, a property website built using the “DIY” or “quick and cheap” approach cannot possibly serve as the “heart” of the property’s direct online channel efforts, as the main hub of the property’s multi-channel marketing campaigns across the three screens, or as the property’s main engagement platform with the uber-connected online travel consumer.

Over the years, here at HeBS Digital we have had a number of hotel clients who have been damaged “beyond repair” by previous DYI or “quick and cheap” website vendors. The lack of any digital marketing and direct online channel strategy, a non-existent merchandising strategy, thin content, abundant anti-SEO best practices, and the absence of robust analytics to track revenue sources and ROAS of digital campaigns has all added up to a sad story repeated with each such new client. The good news is that with almost all of these cases, we were able to double their website revenues within a year.

The property website should do more than just look nice, feature the property logo, photos, and a few pages with descriptions of services and amenities. It has to provide the right balance of excellent design and state-of-the-art technology enabling a robust merchandising strategy to convert lookers into bookers and help shift share from the OTAs. It has to be user-friendly, search-engine-friendly, multi-device friendly and customer engagement-friendly. This website has to be customized to best reflect the hotel brand, describe the hotel product and properly address the hotel’s customer segments.

This is why the difference between a DYI or cheap template website and a comprehensive website with complete merchandising and customer engagement capabilities that accommodates the features below could be measured in hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars in lost website revenue per year.

At minimum, the property website should include the following capabilities and features:

- Either Full Responsive or Adaptive Design for the three screens (desktop, mobile, tablet)

- Complete content control of the property website (visual, promotional, textual) via cutting edge content management system (CMS)

- Comprehensive Dynamic Content Personalization to serve personalized promotional, visual and textual content to users based on feeder markets, purchase intent and demographics

- One-to-One marketing capabilities to target valuable users and past guests with unique offerings

- Advanced Merchandising Module to convert lookers into bookers

- Deep and relevant content that complies with latest SEO best practices

- Reservation Recovery Module to win back abandoned bookings

- Custom Design Themes Module to update the look-and-feel (design) of the hotel website with the click of a button

- Multi-Language Module, enabling foreign language content across the entire site

- Full integration with the property’s CRM, CRS or PMS to make use of the property’s big data

- Full integration with the property’s social media profiles to push hotel promotions, packages, events and happenings to enhance the property’s social media presence

- Feature comprehensive web analytics like Adobe Analytics to give the property the complete picture in terms of purchase behavior and website revenue sources

All of the above, complemented by a robust multi-channel marketing strategy and cutting-edge digital technology, is the essential mix needed to boost direct online channel revenues and shift share from the OTAs to the hotel website.

There is very simple litmus test as to which property may be a good candidate for a “DIY” or “quick and cheap” website service: If the property is OK with furnishing its rooms with closeout-sale furniture, mattresses, sheets and linens, or buying carpeting from Carpet Liquidators, then perhaps a $399/month website service is a good choice.

Hoteliers are managing multi-million dollar properties. They have fiduciary responsibility to maximize the property's direct online channel presence, boost direct revenues, and lower the costs of online distribution. They simply cannot do that with a DIY or “quick and cheap” website.

Related Link: HeBS Digital

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Webinar - Getting the business traveler to choose you

February 25, 2015

This webinar’s primary focus will be on how to target the corporate traveler but will also provide guidance on how to straddle the mix of the ever-important “bleisure” traveler.

You’ll learn how to:

- Improve your storytelling to secure bookings from business travelers
- Engage business travelers on corporate booking channels like Concur and Egencia
- Entice corporate shoppers to choose your hotel over the competition
- Apply these targeting principles to any travel demographic

For more information and registration visit Leonardo

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Expedia’s newly gained power could potentially cement OTA-friendly “Merchant Model”

February 24, 2015

As the OTA industry consolidates, hotels will be more and more dependent on a fewer number of online travel agencies. This dependence likely means that hotels will have to be okay with the merchant model for some time, meaning that OTAs should enjoy high profit-margins.

However, hotels have a few opportunities to strike back. The first is to stick with the status quo and hope that Expedia don't come and ask for lower rates. The second is that hotels could try to pull customers away from using OTAs, pushing their loyalty programs, especially if you only get the rewards for signing up through their own website instead of a third-party OTA. Another option is perks or upgrades for booking through the hotel itself, whether it be a free breakfast, free wi-fi, or a free room upgrade, hotels need to find ways to draw in customers without using the middle-man.

Get the full story at Seeking Alpha (free registration)

Read also "Is Expedia too big?"

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Wotif raises hotel commissions just months after Expedia takeover

February 24, 2015

Agoda, one of the booking sites owned by the other dominant player Priceline, has also contacted operators such as Lorelei Bed and Breakfast in the Victorian seaside town of Portland in the pastweek to inform them that it will raise commissions from 12 to 15 per cent next month.

Between them, the two global powerhouses, Expedia and Priceline, now control about 85 per cent of the online hotel booking market in Australia.

Hoteliers and other operators also fear that Australia will follow the US and Europe where commission rates for online booking sites are as high as 20 to 25 per cent.

Get the full story at The Sydney Morning Herald

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Travelport’s hotel booking ratio increases to 43%

February 24, 2015

Travelport Worldwide announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2014.

Key Points

- Full year net revenue up 3%; Adjusted EBITDA for FY 2014 up 5%, at top end of guidance

- Beyond Air revenue up 14% to $424 million in FY 2014, representing 21% of Travel Commerce Platform revenue (FY 2013: 19%)

- Hospitality segments per 100 airline tickets issued increased to 43 in FY 2014 (FY 2013: 41)

- eNett momentum continues with full year revenue growth of 49% to $67 million. Payment transactions accelerated during the fourth quarter at key agency customers
Air value proposition further enhanced; 89 airlines signed to-date for Travelport's unique "Rich Content & Branding" merchandising solution – 51 already have content live in the latest release of Smartpoint, our multi award-winning point-of-sale application

- Board of Directors declared $0.075 per share dividend for Q4

Gordon Wilson, President and CEO of Travelport, commented: "These financial results seal a transformational year for Travelport. With double-digit growth in Beyond Air and real innovations in Air, we have been able to substantively improve the strength of our Travel Commerce Platform. This is apparent in the near $90 billion of commerce transacted across the Platform last year, placing us amongst the global leaders of e-commerce marketplaces. With a 7% increase in hospitality segments booked per 100 airline tickets issued in the fourth quarter, and a nearly 60% increase in revenue from eNett over the same period, we are starting to see strong and progressive returns on the focused investments that we have made. Central to these trends are the innovations that we bring to our industry, including most recently our industry-defining Rich Content & Branding merchandising solution for airlines. With such investments, a transformed capital structure and the resolution of two key legacy contracts, Travelport is well positioned for 2015."

Get the full story at Travelport

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Travel trends for Asia

February 24, 2015

Japan, originally the largest global business travel outbound market in Asia Pacific (Apac), has been overtaken by China, which increasingly outpaces the rest of the region revealed Global Business Travel Association Asia Operations vice president Welf Ebeling during the ITB Asia opening key note.

According to the latest GBTA Travel Business Travel Index figures, China is poised to surpass the United States in the business travel market by next year.

While Asia Pacific is expected to generate close to 40% of the record US$1.18tril in total of global business travel spending last year. Other markets to look out for are India and Indonesia with a projected annual growth of 11% to 14% growth within the next five years.

“The second-fastest growth market in Asia is India, which equal to China showed, a 16% growth in the first decade of this century.

Get the full story at The Star Online

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The Travelzoo awards for best travel deals of 2014 go to ...

February 24, 2015

It ranked companies and their deals by considering "quality, reliability, consistency, competitiveness and broad appeal," according to a Travelzoo announcement. It also weighed feedback from some of its 27 million users in North America.

Best deals from airlines went to Virgin America for a U.S. carrier and Qatar Airways for a European carrier.

Starwood Hotels, which owns hotel brands W, Westin, Le Meridien, The Luxury Collection, St. Regis, Sheraton, Four Points, Aloft, Element, was recognized for offering the best hotel deals.

Other winners include:

- CruCon Cruise Outlet for the best cruise deals,

- Gate 1 Travel for the best deals from a vacation company,

- Tourism Ireland for the best deals from a destination marketing organization.

Travelzoo also awarded excellence awards to hotels which offered good deals and scored at least 95% satisfaction from the website's users.

Get the full story at the Los Angeles Times

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Do marketers rely on instinct over ROI?

February 24, 2015

The study suggested that many marketers still relied on “gut instinct” when determining which channels to use for marketing campaigns, as the most-used weren’t always the most-measured. Always-popular social media was one of the biggest pain points for respondents. While 87% of B2B marketers used social media, just 17% were able to prove its ROI—the lowest percentage among channels used. Similarly, 87% of B2Cs used social—the No. 1 channel among this group—but only 27% could calculate ROI. And while paid search ranked second to last for usage among both groups, used by 56% of B2Bs and 64% of B2Cs, it landed at or near the top for return measurement.

Old-standby email marketing was one exception to the rule. As the most-used channel among B2Bs, it was also the most-measured—though 66% reported being able to prove ROI, vs. 93% who used it. Email was the second most popular channel among B2Cs, as well as No. 2 in ability to prove ROI. However, the percentage who could actually measure email efforts was just 44%, vs. 80% who used the channel.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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Accor partners with RateGain for rate shopping solution

February 24, 2015

PriceGain tool will support these hotels on a daily basis in achieving optimal room pricing in a fast paced market.

PriceGain compares prices from thousands of sources very quickly, enabling users to ensure that their own pricing can help them achieve better revenue. It tracks up to 365 days in advance both real time as well as through schedules. The robust and scalable platform delivers more than 1 billion price points monthly to the travel industry including hoteliers, OTAs, airlines, tour operators and other travel technology players.

Christine Leitner-Gräwert, Vice President Pricing/Revenue Management, Central Europe said, “Accor understands that a smart rate shopping tool is fundamental to a hotel’s success. We chose RateGain’s rate shopping tool – PriceGain for its easy-to-use, real time data, unparalleled and powerful rate intelligence capabilities and the best in class support structure especially in the execution of e-learnings in german language for all of our hotels, which were rolled-out on Price-Gain.”

Related Link: RateGain

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How to master mobile and millennials: Research from Google

February 24, 2015

In the past few months, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the popularity of mobile, how it’s pushed its way into digital marketing strategies as well as the newfound powerhouse of video. Now the two have teamed up and created a powerhouse with their sights firmly set on targeting the trickiest demographic to date: Millennials.

Google and Ipsos, a global market research company, just released the results of their latest study analyzing the mobile and multi-screen habits of the generation hotels are obsessed with understanding. By surveying 1,519 smartphone owners, who were asked to keep a detailed diary of their online and offline video interactions, they were able to put together a clearer picture of the Millennial consumer.

Here are a few of the standout metrics from the study.

Get the full story at Leonardo

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How Expedia and Priceline attain dominance with different strategies

February 23, 2015

Once its acquisition of Orbitz is complete — and having acquired Travelocity last month — Expedia will leapfrog Priceline to become the world’s largest online travel agency (OTA) by global bookings. Even so, Expedia’s increased market share will likely do little to slow the growth of Priceline, which is clearly focused on buying more peripheral companies while improving consumer-facing technologies within its growing stable of brands.

With Priceline last week reporting 2014 increases of 28% in travel bookings, 24% in revenue and 28% in net income, analysts said the company was poised to maintain if not increase both its travel industry exposure and bottom line.

Analysts attributed much of Priceline’s growth to its acquisitions of companies such as restaurant-reservation booking service OpenTable, the metasearch leader Kayak and Buuteeq, which specializes in digital marketing for hotels.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

Read also "Priceline and Expedia’s advertising arms race in 2014" at Skift

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Is Expedia too big?

February 23, 2015

In a different era, the federal government might get involved and take a long, hard look at this transaction. But the fact is that online travel agencies are lumped together with all travel agencies, while online bookings are measured against all online bookings, including direct to supplier bookings. So on its face, Expedia won't have a majority share of travel bookings as a whole. But in its third-party online travel agency segment, it is now an even bigger giant than it already was.

Expedia also may be poised to start moving back into the airline market to get additional revenue. The irony here is Expedia began in 1996 as a way for consumers to book airline fares. Then, as airlines figured out they didn't want to pay high commissions to online travel agencies, Expedia turned to hotel sales, where it now makes most of its money, as does nearly every single other OTA.

Get the full story at TravelPulse

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US international leisure travel back to pre-recession levels

February 23, 2015

That growth - and the demographic forces behind it - are directly relevant to travel agents, according to Chris Fair, president of Resonance Consultancy, which works with travel and tourism companies and organizations. (See sidebar).

The government will soon release full-year numbers for 2014, that will show an all-time record for international trips of some 65 million, according to Fair.

The economic recovery is partly responsible for the surge but also, “We are returning to a trend line established previously,” said Fair. “International travel was growing until 2007 when it reached 64 million, but then dropped for several years until it hit a low of under 60 million in 2011.“

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

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Hospitality for the digital age

February 23, 2015

The guest experience revolution is about far more than technology, however—it fundamentally changes the business conversation at a strategic level. Yes, companies can gain enormous benefits from the data being gathered by all those smart phone apps, lobby sensors, and social media posts, but they must do so within the context of a vision that has been rebuilt around the guest. “It’s about knowing your customer and creating a personalized experience for them, and companies are establishing enterprisewide digital business strategies in order to deliver,” says Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager of Oracle’s hospitality group.

Not surprisingly, such a fundamental change has spawned some fascinating shifts throughout the industry. Here are a few of the more interesting plot twists.

Personalization requires integration: Guests don’t think in terms of line-of-business functions, so why organize information in silos? Putting guest engagement first requires companies to understand the guest as an individual, making systems integration vital. For example, most leading hotel chains integrate their restaurant food and beverage and leisure systems with other hotel applications, such as property management, in order to build a complete guest profile. “They are integrating that data as a key element in the digital strategy,” says Bernard Jammet, senior vice president for hotels at Oracle. Once that information is aggregated, it can be served to and accessed by guests using their mobile devices, allowing them to do things like book a spa treatment or check their bill any time during their stay.

Mobile also plays a big part in allowing guests to personalize their experience using their own devices. For example, at some hotels, guests can plug their devices into the in-room TVs and sound systems so that they can easily access media of their choosing. “There’s a growing expectation for mobile services that deliver personalization,” says Jammet. “This is a big focus for many of our customers right now.”

Get the full story at Forbes

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Hotel CEOs talk Wi-Fi, Millennials and mobile keys

February 23, 2015

USA TODAY assembled five top hotel executives last month at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles in the L.A. Live JW Marriott hotel to discuss these changes and challenges. Participating in our fourth annual roundtable were: Wyndham Hotel Group CEO Geoff Ballotti; 21c Museum Hotels President Craig Greenberg; Hyatt Hotels and Resorts CEO Mark Hoplamazian; InterContinental Hotels Group CEO Richard Solomons; and Preferred Hotel Group CEO Lindsey Ueberroth.

Q: We surveyed nearly 1,000 of our Road Warriors and asked them if free Wi-Fi influences their choice of hotels. The result: 70.9 percent said yes. Hyatt is now offering free Wi-Fi to all guests. IHG is offering free Wi-Fi to loyalty program members. Is free Wi-Fi finally going to become the norm at hotels?

IHG's Solomons: The research you've done is what we see, and one of our biggest "dissatisfiers" that we had a few years ago was Wi-Fi availability, price--and actually how well it worked. If you go back a few more years than I've been in the business, the hotel room was a big advance than what we had at home. How many people at home had air conditioning or separate en-suite bathrooms? In some ways, the wider world moved on faster than the hotel industry. You can go and spend 99 cents on a hamburger at McDonald's and get free Fi-Wi or a cup of coffee.

Get the full story at USA Today

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LinkedIn adds Notification Center to company pages

February 23, 2015

From the new page, social media managers will be able to:

- Get an aggregated overview of how many likes, comments, and shares you’ve received on Company Page updates and how often your company has been mentioned by LinkedIn members on the platform

- View every publicly shared mention of your company on LinkedIn

- See all of the most recent likes, comments and shares your company has received in a single view

- Comment and like as a company representative in response to mentions about your company

Get the full story at Marketing Land

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Cornell Compendium summarizes hospitality research

February 23, 2015

"SHA faculty are experts both in their individual fields and in the hospitality industry," said Michael Sturman, associate dean for faculty development and academic director of the Center for Hospitality Research. "Because of this expertise, the work of our faculty is getting increasingly noticed both by practitioners and by their fellow academics. In addition to the hospitality industry–oriented papers chronicled in this Compendium, another result of our faculty's work is the increasing number of citations for Cornell faculty members' research in academic journals and industry publications." Sturman noted that SHA faculty academic citations have increased every year for the past ten—growing from 2,352 in 2004 to 7,130 in 2014, well over a 200-percent increase.

The CHR Compendium summarizes research in such diverse areas as real estate and finance, marketing, human resources, and sustainability. In addition to research reports, the CHR publishes a series of tools that provide hands-on application of current research findings, and the CHR coordinates with two of the school's other centers and institutes to publish specialized industry reports. The Compendium also includes those specialized publications, from the Center for Real Estate and Finance and the Cornell Institute for Hospitality Labor and Employment Relations. This extensive research and publication program is made possible by the support of industry partners, who offer their advice and financial support.

Download "The CHR Compendium" at nor charge at Cornell University (free registration)

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Oracle launches Oracle Hospitality

February 23, 2015

Oracle, building on the strong foundation MICROS established serving the hotel and food and beverage industries, has launched Oracle Hospitality Global Business Unit to accelerate development of innovative cloud, mobile, and guest experience technology. With hundreds of thousands of systems already deployed in hotels, restaurants, cruise operations, and other venues on all seven continents, Oracle Hospitality extends MICROS' commitment to providing fast, reliable service and solutions to customers both large and small.

News Facts

The launch of Oracle Hospitality combines the deep domain expertise of MICROS, acquired by Oracle in 2014, with the power of Oracle's scale and innovation, to help customers succeed in an environment that has been fundamentally changed by the rise of social, mobile, and cloud technologies.

Oracle's platform for the hospitality industry offers comprehensive and integrated software, modern cloud offerings, and hardware solutions for hotels, casinos, table and quick-service restaurants, sports and entertainment venues, and cruise operations from small independents to large global chains.

Leveraging Oracle's integrated technology stack and cloud portfolio, Oracle Hospitality brings unmatched technical breadth, depth, and scale combined with significant R&D and dedicated resources focused exclusively on serving the needs of the hospitality industry by helping them:

Exceed guest expectations. Guests now expect the delivery of personalized experiences through the entire guest journey, both on and off property. By offering comprehensive, integrated systems that serve guests during every interaction, businesses can inspire loyalty, surpass guest expectations, and remain competitive in a rapidly evolving industry.

Realize faster time to cloud. Oracle Hospitality's comprehensive, scalable, and globally deployable cloud solutions enable the hospitality sector to accelerate its move to the cloud in response to fast-changing guest expectations. By eliminating the cost and complexity of managing on-premises applications, hospitality organizations can focus on their guests and their business, delivering a consistent experience across venues.

Leverage mobile innovation. Mobile is a catalyst behind the radical changes and guest expectations in the hospitality industry. Oracle Hospitality delivers fully integrated mobile solutions that enable staff to conduct transactions and have informed engagement with guests anywhere onsite, not just from behind a counter.

Simplify their IT architecture. Comprehensive integrated solutions take advantage of Oracle's proven technology to help drive greater business benefits, speed time to value, and reduce total cost of ownership.

"The launch of Oracle Hospitality builds on Oracle's industries strategy of creating dedicated global business units that help our customers solve their most important business challenges, with a combination of best-of-breed technology and extensive industry-specific expertise and experience," said Bob Weiler, executive vice president, Global Business Units, Oracle. "Oracle Hospitality delivers solutions that allow our hospitality customers to compete more effectively in a business landscape that has been wholly reshaped by disruptive technologies."

"By combining these two great brands we're creating a portfolio that has never before been seen in the hospitality industry," said Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Retail and Hospitality. "We have assembled a strong team of industry veterans that wake up every day and focus on one thing and one thing only—how do we help our hospitality customers succeed in providing their guests a great experience."

Related Link: Oracle Hospitality

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What the Expedia and Priceline duopoloy means to an independent hotel

February 20, 2015

At a sort of ground zero for these sorts of things, Nick Griffioen, director of revenue management at the four-property Amway Hotel Collection in Grand Rapids, Michigan, says in coming years some of his properties, especially the independent hotels, will be trying to accelerate efforts to get travelers to book directly on their own websites.

Independent properties pay Expedia commissions in the 20-25 percent range, says Griffioen, who has been in his job for more than six years, and that commission level definitely impacts the bottom line.

Expedia, he says, has been the strongest third-party producer for his hotels, although has been rapidly gaining ground.

Get the full story at Skift

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Priceline gains as earnings top estimates on overseas travel

February 20, 2015

Priceline said fourth-quarter profit rose nearly 20 percent from the year-earlier period to about $452 million. Revenue totaled $1.84 billion versus $1.54 billion a year ago. Analysts were looking for $1.8 billion in the latest quarter.

While Priceline narrowly topped rival Expedia Inc for gross bookings last quarter, its lower-than-expected first-quarter forecasts reflected weakening results due to a stronger U.S. dollar, just as U.S. domestic competition heats up following Expedia's acquisition of Travelocity in January and the planned purchase of Orbitz Worldwide Inc, announced earlier this month.

Priceline said it expects revenue to increase between 4 percent and 11 percent in the first quarter, or up to $1.82 billion. Analysts had estimated $1.86 billion.

Get the full story at Reuters and Bloomberg

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Sabre GDS: Positioned for growth

February 20, 2015

During Sabre’s fourth quarter and full year 2014 earnings call, Klein said the company’s fourth quarter was “soft.” Although Sabre’s airline and hospitality solutions business was buoyed by “strong execution and customer growth,” with a revenue increase of 13.5%, the Travel Network side of the house experienced “headwinds” that led to a slight drop in revenue of 1.4%.

Among the factors that affected Sabre Travel Network’s performance were the pricing impact of the merger of American Airlines and US Airways and the decline in travel in Venezuela.

Many airlines have stopped serving the country, whose aviation market is nothing short of a mess, and the decline has affected Sabre more than other GDS companies due to its 60% market share in Venezuela. “I don’t see a recovery in sight there, given what’s going on with the government,” Klein said.

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

Read also "Sabre releases fourth quarter, full year 2014 results" at TravelPulse

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Priceline to acquire Rocketmiles

February 20, 2015

The acquisition would make sense for Priceline, which currently does not have a loyalty program like the other major online travel agencies, analysts said Thursday. A persistent challenge for travel bookers is to get return customers, who are notoriously fickle about where they book as they search for better deals.

"The acquisition will allow Priceline to enter loyalty marketing with a compelling, relevant product," said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst with Atmosphere Research Group. "For example, Priceline could potentially offer 'bonus points' for booking hotels via Priceline Group websites. Plus, this will allow Priceline to gather additional data and potentially use that in other areas of its business."

Douglas Quinby, vice president of research for travel research firm PhoCusWright, said Priceline, which operates its namesake agency and among others, is the only major agency with no loyalty program. "RocketMiles is essentially a hotel online travel agency with an interesting and unique approach to loyalty," Quinby said. "The acquisition suggests Priceline is looking closely at how to introduce new features to drive loyalty and customer retention."

Get the full story at the Chicago Tribune

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Triptease raises $2M to help hotels increase direct bookings

February 20, 2015

I’ve often wondered why hotels don’t do a better job at direct selling, rather than letting a plethora of travel sites and hotel booking aggregators, such as and Expedia, cream off the top of their profits by means of affiliate revenue.

Once I find a hotel I like - and one that meets my particular accessibility needs - I have little incentive to shop around next time. That is, as long as I’m convinced the hotel’s direct price is the best one available.

Enter UK startup Triptease, which, amongst a range of products designed to help hotels better market themselves, offers ‘Price Check‘, a widget that sits on hotel websites and displays prices from across the web in real-time. The idea is to reduce the uncertainty surrounding a hotel’s direct price, and ensure you don’t wander off to search elsewhere but instead book direct and with confidence.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

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Google offers guidebook for AdWords updates

February 20, 2015

The series offers actionable advice on how to best use AdWords products for successful paid search and will act as the company’s official AdWords guidebook. Google Best Practices encompasses all areas of paid search, from optimizing keywords to measuring analytics.

Additionally, Google has added a timeline tool to make new features and changes more accessible. The timeline lists all AdWords updates chronologically. Since AdWords updated more than 200 times last year, a time-ordered list will help users stay abreast of changes without spending time searching for applicable updates. The timeline will offer brief descriptions of each new product, features, and updates along with links for more information.

Get the full story at Search Engine Watch

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Views on the news: Quickness vs. quality

February 20, 2015

As of late, we have all heard the stories of Goliath's buying up more and more real estate in the online marketing game. Most notably, the recent merging of Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz has caused huge ripples in the pond. Just when hotels thought they couldn't face more of an uphill battle in terms of fending off pricey acquisition costs from third-party sites, along comes this mega death star monopoly vying for precious marketing dollars and snapping up huge percentages in online revenue.

And then just yesterday, industry giant Sabre unleashed another twist into the mix with the launch of its most recent product offering, SynXis InstaSite. It allows the notoriously "chain-focused" provider to hone-in on a target market of the previously untapped independent hotels and smaller-sized hotel chains. This is a space that we at Vizergy know all too well, as it has been the core focus of our business for many years. So what do we see for the future of the industry as these larger companies move with swift force into this specialized vertical?

Quite simply, what seems to be too good to be true, often is. Yes, initially the idea of a three day turnaround time for a website has a "wow" factor. Who wouldn't be impressed at the sound of that, but… it is important to analyze exactly what you are getting for that low $399 price tag and hasty production time.

We discussed this very topic in a recent blog post from one of Vizergy's dedicated project managers. The fact is, quality website design and strategy take time, thought and expertise to result in online successes…and for good reason. At Vizergy, we employ a team of expert professionals focused specifically on this market segment to deliver tailored results. We use unique data derived from your site analytics to drive decisions. Our experts take the time to craft specific content and messaging that ensures the most favorable SEO results. We craft, monitor and provide strategy for targeted PPC campaigns. We provide responsive websites to ensure that our client's sites are viable through mobile and tablet devices alike. We ensure that your sites are programmed for and plugged into the most robust reporting and analytics systems on the market. This names just a few of the bells and whistles that are inherently missing from the cheap and easy version of a website build or "quick and dirty" online marketing strategy.

While $399/month may sound like an enticing price point and do-it-yourself tools a fast and easy solution, we urge hoteliers to take a moment to think about the importance of their online investment. With third-party sites taking such a huge piece of the pie and the online segment accounting for such a major part of your annual sales, it is crucial that your website is done incredibly well, not necessarily incredibly quickly, to combat the competition and to attract the largest share of revenue directly to your property.

So when engaging with a digital marketing agency that offers a seemingly "too good to be true" solution, be cognizant of the details and ask yourself…does this shiny new offering provide these key attributes?

Full Integration to your Operating Systems and Booking Engine – Your lifelines to your business are your data and purchase points. This includes your CMS, CRM, PMS or CRS. It is crucial that your website is fully integrated to such systems in order to gather and manage necessary and critical data that will allow you to dig deep into your results, as well as gain visibility and insight into customer behavior to tailor your overall marketing plans. A website that doesn't talk to these outlets is like having a bird without wings.

Targeted, SEO Rich Content – Content is much more than slapping up a couple of bullet points and calling it a day. Good content takes strategy and yields incredible results for your organic search rankings. It is crucial that you make very pointed decisions about your content based on keywords, property features, local attractions and other key searchable terms that will bring guests to your site and raise your search visibility. Vizergy employs a team of Copywriters and Quality Assurance Managers to refine and perfect copy for clients to ensure the most mileage and returns from their online strategy.

Customizable Template Design – Templates are a dime a dozen, but it is important to have some options to customize your look in the marketplace to stand out. Vizergy's templates options are filled with customizable design elements to differentiate you from the crowd. It is equally as important to have access to an intelligent CMS system that will maintain the integrity of the formatting on your site when updates are made, otherwise you may be left with a major programming headache for a simple change online, or worse, a broken site.

Social Media Strategy – Social is a must for hotel properties these days, as it should be. In tandem with your content and SEO strategy, social is incredibly important for a number of reasons. First, it is an incredible tool for local marketing and promotions. Secondly, the major search engines place great weight on the consistency and relevancy of your content on social. They take it into great account when it comes to serving up results to those searching for your hotel criteria. So to tie those two points together, the more relevant your local marketing through social, the more apt the search engines are to recognize you as an authority on the area contained in your customers' search parameters. Social is also a key factor for reputation management, so it is critical that you have a strategy and processes in place for responding and posting to social media, across various outlets. Remember that simply creating a page can do more harm than good if you aren't monitoring and populating it with quality, relevant information. Vizergy provides full social strategy and posting packages to keep you on track and consistent in posting local, pertinent information.

Dynamic Content Personalization – These days, everything is personalized and your site should follow suit. If you are a customer searching for a wedding venue, you don't necessarily want to be served up an ad touting golf packages. Vizergy provides the know-how and means to target your customers based on behavior and search terms to tailor their on-site experience to their specific needs and drive increased bookings.

Customizable Design – If a template is not your speed, you should have the option to create a customized site that fits your needs and price point. As a full-service agency, Vizergy works with clients to ensure that this very important investment is completed properly. This means having the options available to get it absolutely right. Our team of designers and web marketing specialists are equipped to build a specialized program for you where desired, never trying to fit you into a cookie cutter mold lacking the value you require and deserve.

Data Management Platform & Advanced Analytics – Last, but certainly not least, is your analytics platform. Vizergy implements Adobe Analytics (formerly Omniture) as a best-in-class solution that allows you to obtain the most granular web results to guide your online marketing decisions. But, no matter the program, whether it be Adobe or Google based, it is crucial to implement some form of smart analytics to your page. BUT, more importantly, you must be ready to manage and read that wealth of data consistently to get the most from your marketing programs and website. Simply pasting and forgetting a tracking code on your site just won't do. Vizergy's client teams provide a range of packages that walk our clients through the data one-on-one, help them make sense of it, provide recommendations and use it to measure success and gain traction in a highly competitive marketplace.

In short, if you are considering a package that does not contain these products and services, or a high touch approach, you may want to take a closer look at what you are paying for and what the end result will be. A strong program involves many factors that will greatly impact the growth of your bottom-line in the long run, so it is important to ensure that the impact is a positive one. These factors and tools all add up to major revenue drivers, so don't allow yourself to get too caught up in the shiny objects and miss out on the important realized revenue that a full-service agency such as Vizergy can deliver directly to your property. This is a benefit that is derived only from focused, consultative guidance combined with the crafting and execution of a proper strategy the first time around.

Want to learn more about what Vizergy can do for you today? Allow us to provide a site assessment and demo of our products and methodology as you consider your options. Contact us at 904.389.1130 or visit us at

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4 key email subject lines trends for 2015

February 20, 2015

Driven by mobile and social’s influence on email marketing, here are four key trends to keep in mind as you craft your subject lines this year:

1. Mobile continues to shorten subject lines.

Because mobile devices display fewer characters of a subject line than their webmail and desktop email client counterparts, the growth of mobile email reading is putting downward pressure on subject line lengths.

Thirty-one percent of marketers say at least half of their emails are read on mobile devices, according to our 2015 State of Marketing report. And, somewhat shockingly, another 23% of marketers are unsure how often their emails are viewed on mobile. Taking those two together, it’s likely that around 38% of brands have their emails read on mobile devices at least half of the time.

Get the full story at Exact Target

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Travel industry sees strong Facebook CTRs, engagement

February 19, 2015

Clickthrough rates (CTRs) for US Facebook ads showed impressive growth throughout 2014. According to data released in January 2015 by Kinetic Social, US Facebook ads had an average CTR of 1.26% in Q4 2014 - up 50% over 0.84% in the third quarter. This rate was more than triple that in Q1 2014 (0.41%) and nearly quadruple Q2’s 0.32%.

According to Adobe Digital Index data released in late January 2015, global social engagement with travel industry brand posts on Facebook was 3.5% in Q4 2014 - the second-highest out of the sectors studied. This trailed only retail (4.2%) and led tech (2.9%), media (2.4%) and finance (2.4%). In addition, data from Shareablee showed that the number of unique visitors who engaged with US Facebook brand pages totaled 25,200 in September 2014, up 13.5% over six months.

Facebook is the social network of choice among travelers for sharing and engaging with industry content, too, according to September 2014 polling by ShareThis. Nearly seven in 10 travel content shares occurred on Facebook, vs. just 11% for second-place Twitter. At the same time, 53% of engagements, or clickbacks, by travel planners were via Facebook, compared with 14% for Pinterest, the second-highest response.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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CWT sees transactions fall across Europe

February 19, 2015

Despite the fall in the three areas, overall transactions grew by 3.3% to 62.3 million with North America seeing the strongest increase of 6.3%.

Second to this was the Asia Pacific region, where the number of transactions grew by 5%, driven by China and Japan. Transactions in Latin America grew by 3.3% despite a weak performance in Brazil.

The results also show CWT recorded new business sales of $1.6 billion in 2014 while overall sales volume increased by 1.6% to $27.3 billion.

It added its client satisfaction scores were particularly strong, with a 99.46% client retention rate in the UK and Ireland compared to 97% globally.

Get the full story at TTG Digital

Read also "Despite shaky times, Europe remains fertile ground for brand growth" at Hotel Management

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Free Wi-Fi: maintaining a connection between hotel and guests

February 19, 2015

If customers are not able to facilitate their fix for online entertainment and business needs, they are going to take their custom elsewhere. With such tight competition across the customer services industry, this is a risk that businesses can ill-afford to take.

This is no different in the hospitality industry, with the need to adapt to an ‘always online’ world being particularly pressing. Fortunately, some very simple steps can be taken to remedy the gaps that a given hotel or hospitality business have in their present networking and entertainment offerings. We’ll be discussing free-to-access Wi-Fi in this article, taking a look at how it was able to help Macdonald Hotels & Resorts improve the experience of their guests and provide the level of service that modern consumers demand.

Get the full story at eHotelier

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Travel brands downsize on design and move towards simplicity

February 19, 2015

Travel brands are responding by downsizing, from slimline seats on planes to smaller desks in hotel rooms, and using the extra space to either pack in more passengers or make room for new things travelers need. Bring-your-own-device means that travel providers with a solid Wi-Fi network can radically rethink how they use space and what they offer their guests.

Perhaps the most radical rethinks are happening in hotel rooms. The evolution of televisions at the beginning of the 2000s from fat boxes to wall-mounted flatscreens allowed properties to clear out big armoires and dressers, but hotel brands are just now beginning to rethink how rooms can function in a world where laptops and TVs aren’t so huge, and travelers don’t need the property to provide them with a tangle of cords or a clock radio to stay ahead of the game.

The best designs are the ones which don’t require the guest to do any problem solving. This means putting enough outlets — ones with USB plugs are even better — next to beds so phones, tablets and laptops can be charged and used where the guest wants to use them, and where it makes sense to use them. The standard desk and chair still help the average business traveler, but smart hotels are abandoning your father’s desk for smaller size that actually makes sense for the laptops and tablets travelers place on them.

Get the full story at Skift

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Key 2015 Twitter trends every marketer needs

February 19, 2015

First understand that you must create your marketing plan for the long term. It should be reviewed and updated at least on an annual basis.

Chasing daily numbers or stories is NOT a business plan. Instead, select the core topics around which you will create and curate quality content for your business and on Twitter.

Twitter remains a Top 5 social media platform globally according to Global Web Index.

Get the full story at Heidi Cohen

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Ranking in mobile search results

February 19, 2015

The growth of mobile device usage has driven a significant lift in app-related searches. This is giving rise to mobile app search as a vertical within traditional universal search.

While it has been clear for some time that mobile search is important, that importance has been more heavily emphasized by Google recently, as they continue to push mobile-friendly labels in SERPs, and are likely increasing mobile-friendliness's weight as a ranking factor.

The future of search marketing involves mobile, and it will not be limited to optimizing HTML webpages, creating responsive designs, and optimizing UX. Mobile SEO is a world where apps, knowledge graph, and conversational search are front and center.

Get the full story at Moz

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Forte Village selects Fastbooking for its booking engine, channel manager, GDS and direct link offer

February 19, 2015

Based on the South coast of Sardinia, Forte Village resort offers a choice of five 5 star and three 4 star hotels, plus six luxury villas, and has won many famous awards worldwide for the very high quality of its offer and services.

"As a luxury and international resort with a large offer, we need reassuring, simple and efficient tools to handle our central reservation system, get the best out of our many distribution channels and convert our traffic into bookers. That's exactly what FASTBOOKING provides us. Attraction for example, our new Booking Engine, is very simple and clear, for us as for our visitors. And the know-how expertise of that company's technology and people (many thanks to their dedicated team in Italy) are exactly what we were searching for" says Lorenzo Giannuzzi, General Manager for Forte Village.

"We are very pleased to partner with Forte Village. The most prestigious group in Sardinia we share many values with. In 2014, we made many developments on our reservation interfaces. And we'll keep improving as every hoteliers must constantly stick to the fast evolutions of the digital market. Distribution, digital marketing and reservation are strategic issues, and the core of our expertise. We are delighted to provide it to a great resort such as Forte Village to help them maximize their turnover" declares Francis Louis Passerini, Vice-President of Sales Operations (EMEA & US) for FASTBOOKING.

Get the full story at Fastbooking

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10 ways business travel is changing in 2015

February 19, 2015

As business travelers continue to search for a temporary home-away-from-home while they’re on a business trip, it’s vital that hotels ensure they’re meeting their needs. In a few words: a fast, efficient and seamless experience so they can work on-the-go.

For hotels, corporate travelers are lucrative (we’re actually devoting a whole webinar to targeting the corporate traveler next week). According to the Global Business Travel Association, corporate travel in the United States is expected to increase 6.2% in 2015, totaling $310 billion dollars in spending. If you want to reach this market, stay ahead of the curve. Here are 10 ways business travel is changing in 2015.

Get the full story at Leonardo

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As pace of online bookings levels off, hotels need to focus on inventory management

February 18, 2015

In Q4 2014, the OTA channel (which includes Expedia,,, etc.) experienced the largest jump in bookings, with a 12.7 percent increase compared to last year. room night bookings (reservations made directly through a hotel’s website) increased year-over-year by 6.8 percent. The GDS room nights were up 4.6 percent. Hotel Direct (calls directly to the property and walk-in customers) and calls to a hotel’s 800-number, the CRO channel, decreased by -5.2 percent and -5.3 percent, respectively.

“These numbers reflect the trend that hoteliers are optimizing RevPAR through channel management and inventory allocation,” said John Hach, Senior Vice President, Global Product Management at TravelClick. “It is clear that hoteliers are maximizing their efforts where they can get the highest average daily rate (ADR), like through their own websites, dominant OTAs and the GDS channel. The TravelClick NADR data also reflects the fact that travelers continue to look online to book hotel rooms and we expect this trend to continue throughout 2015.”

Looking ahead, OTAs will continue to see strong ADR growth in Q1 and Q2 2015 which is tracking at 7.1 percent and 7.6 percent respectively, based off of reservations currently on the books. ADR for the second quarter is also growing for the other channels, up 3.9 percent for the GDS channel, 6.3 percent for the hotel direct channel, 4.7 percent for and 4.5 percent for the CRO channel.

Get the full story at TravelClick

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Will Priceline fend off its rising rivals?

February 18, 2015

Priceline Group identified the international trend in travel early on, and it has built up an impressive infrastructure that connects people to those who can serve their travel needs across the globe. Yet with recent moves from rivals Expedia and TripAdvisor pointing to the cutthroat competitive nature of the industry right now, and coming into Priceline's fourth-quarter report on Thursday morning, investors will want to know how Priceline will respond to those moves. Let's take an early look at what's been up with Priceline lately and whether investors can expect a rebound in the stock after its earnings report.

Investors have gotten less optimistic about Priceline Group earnings in recent months, reducing their fourth-quarter estimates by a nickel per share and their full-year 2015 projections by more than $2.40 per share. The stock has reflected those worries, falling 6% since mid-November.

Priceline's share-price woes started after its third-quarter results sparked a sell-off. Priceline's growth was still solid, with earnings per share and gross travel bookings both climbing at a 28% pace, and strength in the accommodation and rental-car businesses both added to the company's gains. But investors were nervous about Priceline's guidance for the fourth quarter, leading to extensive downward revisions in consensus estimates for Priceline's earnings.

Get the full story at The Motley Fool

Article location: reaches 600,000th property milestone

February 18, 2015

The 500,000th property was added in July 2014. The site covers over 70,000 destinations across 200 countries.'s chief operating officer, Gillian Tans, said: “Reaching this milestone is proof of our commitment to ensuring our customers can find and book accommodation that fits their every need and desire, wherever in the world they want to stay.

"By expanding our global footprint, bringing guests to new places and building on our hotel heartland to provide leisure and business travellers with an unrivalled selection of accommodation types - from the traditional to the more unexpected - we're granting them the freedom and flexibility to find the accommodation that best meets their needs.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Hotels hit by email scam targeting payment of fees

February 18, 2015 says the “incidences appear to be limited”, but Tnooz has learned the scam has been in operation for at least ten days and representatives of the company are saying privately to hoteliers that it could have impacted a large number of properties.

One instance saw a hotelier make of payment of ten of thousands of Euros to a fake bank account.

The email is similar to existing correspondence sent to hotel customers by, in terms of look and feel, although the sender email address is altered slightly (.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))- a trademark sign that the message could have come from an unofficial source.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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How to capitalize on changing group trends

February 18, 2015

The key to attracting and retaining significant corporate business, according to independent hoteliers, is to have a laser focus on what sets your property—and your people—apart.

Marc Becker, who heads up business development for the New Orleans Hotel Collection, knows New Orleans’ vibrant French Quarter (where the majority of the group’s six independent hotels are located) doesn’t attract the corporate traveler who spends 14-hour days locked up in meetings—and he’s fine with that. It doesn’t stop him from going after corporate group business.

“Our location is so important to us, and we use it,” he said. “When people come to New Orleans, they don’t envision the 40-story business hotel; they picture the French Quarter. It’s a shame, sometimes, when people come to a convention in New Orleans and just spend all their time inside.”

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Facebook launches new product ad units

February 18, 2015

By using Facebook product ads, advertisers will have the flexibility to either manually upload their product catalog and create campaigns promoting certain products to specific audiences, or use Facebook Custom Audiences to automatically deliver the most relevant products to target consumers. With automatic delivery, Facebook will turn off ads for products when they are out of stock.

Some brands have already tested the new ad solution, and are reportedly seeing positive results. Target said in a statement that by using product ads, it saw a 20 percent increase in conversion compared to other Facebook ads.

David Spitz, president and chief operating officer (COO) at digital publishing platform RebelMouse, thinks that with the launch of product ads, Facebook will be able to offer ads for multiple products based on a user's interest.

"For example, I like Nikes and looked to purchase Nikes on Now when I'm on Facebook, I'm delivered an ad that has those Nikes plus other relevant sneakers that are similar, so I'm drawn in on that personal level," Spitz says.

Get the full story at Facebook

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Sabre launches turnkey website solution to help hoteliers increase online conversion

February 18, 2015

SynXis InstaSite, a self-service, turnkey website solution, will help hoteliers maximize online conversions and create compelling guest interactions across their digital channels. Using InstaSite, hoteliers can launch a customized, fully responsive, booking-enabled website in as few as three business days.

“Growing direct distribution by optimizing the digital guest experience is something every hotelier in the world is trying to do,” said Alex Alt, president of Sabre Hospitality Solutions. “InstaSite will enable hoteliers to dynamically sell their products directly to consumers across any device while enhancing conversion and optimizing their guests’ online experience.”

Coupled with the SynXis Booking Engine, InstaSite delivers a complete digital experience designed specifically for the hospitality industry. The solution is easy to implement, quick to launch and affordable. Using InstaSite, a hotelier can create a unique website that reflects their brand and property. At the same time, all of the configurable options reflect Sabre’s more than 15 years of experience in creating websites that maximize online conversion rates. InstaSite will initially be available in five languages including English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Japanese and German, making it a viable solution for hotels with a global presence.

“This solution meets a critical need for hoteliers with limited time and resources to spend on a completely custom website and booking platform,” said Alt. “SynXis InstaSite brings together Sabre’s award-winning hotel web design expertise paired with the most powerful hospitality platform in the world.”

Related Link: SynXis InstaSite

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Hot tips for the 5 hottest social media sites for hotels

February 18, 2015

How can you navigate all the different social channels your hotel wants to be on and truly engage on the most important ones?

Staying active on social media is important in every industry – but especially for the hospitality industry. Social networks have an immense reach – consider that the top five social channels (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Instagram) have over 2.5 billion users combined.

With travel shoppers turning to social media for vacation inspiration, research and even booking, it’s more important than ever to make sure your hotel is communicating with travelers on a variety of social channels.

Not sure where to start? Here are some easy tips to take you through the important components of a successful Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Google+ page.

Get the full story at Leonardo

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U.S. airlines, hotel industry wary of Expedia-Orbitz merger

February 17, 2015

Expedia's agreement on Thursday to buy Orbitz for $1.33 billion marked the latest in a spree of acquisitions it and the larger Priceline Group Inc (PCLN.O) have made to become the world's dominant online travel agencies.

Experts say the companies' followings give them power when negotiating contracts with hotels and airlines, which to varying degrees rely on the sites to sell their products. Combined with Orbitz and Travelocity, which it acquired in January, Expedia received about 39 million unique website visitors in December 2014, according to Internet analytics company comScore Inc.

These mergers "strengthen Expedia's position in the distribution chain and could have implications for consumers, travel agents and airlines," Melanie Hinton, spokeswoman for the trade group Airlines for America, said on Friday in an email.

"We would expect the Department of Transportation and the Department of Justice to carefully examine these transactions and their impact on consumers and competition."

Get the full story at Reuters

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Expedia acquisitions signal tougher times ahead for hotels

February 17, 2015

Travelers, hotel brands and hotel operators all have good reason to fear this sort of consolidation in the OTA market. Let me explain why.

Higher Costs for Hotels

Orbitz and Travelocity lost out to leaders Expedia and Priceline a while back. Still, they had their market share and their contracts in place with hotel suppliers. With this latest consolidation, the option of selling your rooms on a different channel is gone. Your new “Expe-Orbit-Ocity” contract now will contain much higher margins for hotels because there’s nowhere else for hotels to go.

Now, why do hotel brands and operators need Expedia? I’ll say it one more time. Because they do not dominate the search engines, nor do they have a particularly good grasp on their own marketing, direct revenue and ecommerce. Just remember… if you don’t like Expedia, now you can also forget about Travelocity, Orbitz, Wotif and Trivago (all now owned by Expedia).

Airlines, on the other hand, do not have much to fear; they just walk out on the OTA’s like clockwork every year and then get back on board when the margins are corrected.

Industrial Style Customer Service

Supersizing things is generally not a healthy choice. This is especially true when it comes to larger enterprises and customer support. Try calling the ultra-consolidated United Airlines, American Airlines, Comcast, Vonage, UPS, or Network Solutions when you need assistance (as I’m sure you all have). All of these companies have grown through acquisitions, and every step has been a nightmare for their customers. This is yet another reason why Expedia’s shopping spree does not translate into anything good for the hotels that will now have to deal with a behemoth team.

Higher Prices for Travelers

Let’s not forget about the travelers. We all learned in Econ 101 that less competition breeds higher prices. Anyone checking the airfares since the Continental-United and American–US Airways mergers knows what I am talking about.

So what happens the next time you need a hotel room? Sure, go to Priceline and check the rates. Need a Hotel+Air package? Oh then, sorry, Expe-Orbit-Ocity is what you have. Even with the astronomical growth of Airbnb, you still require an airplane to get to your destination.

Of course, several industry experts are not convinced about price increases for the end customer because travel is such a big market. It may take a longer time for these acquisitions to impact hotels than airlines, but the rise is coming.

Get the full story at Words of Vikram

Read also "Time for hotels to focus on driving direct bookings" at Madigan Pratt

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InterContinental Hotels reports mobile sales up 50%

February 17, 2015

The company launched mobile check-in and check out at more than 500 hotels and established a strategic deal with Amadeus to develop “innovative and efficient technology solutions”.

IHG reported a 6.1% increase in revenue per available room (revpar) for the 12 months, led by 7.4% growth in the Americas region – its largest trading area.

“Trading was particularly strong in the UK, up 8.9%, with low double digit growth in the provinces and high single digit growth in London,” the company said.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Expedia increases ownership in AirAsia-Expedia joint venture

February 17, 2015

"Asia continues to be a fast-paced, growing market, and partnering with a powerful brand like AirAsia has been instrumental in driving the expansion of our business in the region," said Dara Khosrowshahi, President and Chief Executive Officer, Expedia, Inc. "We continue to value and look forward to a great ongoing relationship with them as we bring our world-class technology and supply to travelers across Asia."

"Our partnership with Expedia has been and continues to be a terrific success for both companies," said Tony Fernandes, Group CEO of AirAsia. "We are excited to continue the close relationship between Expedia and AirAsia to deliver unrivaled travel experiences for Asian consumers."

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2015, at which point Expedia expects to include the AirAsia-Expedia Joint Venture financial results in Expedia's consolidated financial statements.

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Marketing is dead, and loyalty killed it

February 17, 2015

Instead, there is loyalty, which requires communicating brand values that people want to be affiliated with. Consumers today have many options, and more than ever they choose particular brands to communicate something personal about their own beliefs and priorities. The best way to establish and reinforce common values is to create content that’s so highly specific it defines not only the brand, but the customer.

Take Chipotle, the good guys of fast food. Their produce is local, the meat is free of hormones and antibiotics, and their cheese comes from pasture-raised cows. But the company’s reputation for being the socially conscious, thinking person’s lunch is about more than just the food. Last year, the company started its “Cultivating Thought” initiative, in which writers such as Toni Morrison and Malcolm Gladwell write short texts that appear on the company’s cups and a dedicated microsite. The idea didn’t come out of the CMO’s office, or from a hotshot agency – it came about because Jonathan Safran Foer had nothing to read in Chipotle one day. This is loyalty talking, not marketing. Chipotle is devoting significant resources to something that won’t make the company any money directly, but that is an act of good faith, perfectly targeted to its customers.

Get the full story at Harvard Business Review

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How Google is transforming the mobile landscape

February 17, 2015

When Google talks, people listen. The search giant's announcement that it has begun labeling sites as mobile-friendly in search results is a significant step forward for the mobile web.

Not only does this labeling help users on mobile decide whether to bother visiting a site -- because let's face it, nobody on a mobile device wants to struggle with tiny print and unnavigable menus. In the future, having this moniker will affect websites' search results. Google is sending the message to any laggards out there that they had better get serious about the mobile web.

This news is truly a game changer for digital publishers. For the last decade, the search game has been about providing the right metadata as part of an SEO or SEM strategy to enable companies to get highly ranked in consumer searches. Introducing a new piece of that algorithm -- being mobile-friendly -- is now as important as being SEO friendly.

Get the full story at iMedia Connection

Read also "Why won’t Google talk about mobile like everyone else?" at Marketing Land

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Keywords - are they still relevant for 2015 hotel marketing?

February 17, 2015

There are several areas where keywords should be placed and here is the list in order of priority:

- Meta information (title and description tags) and headers (h1, h2, h3)
- Body copy
- Side bars and footers

Keywords and website content quality relative to hotels

Rather than honing in on a specific keyword phrase for your entire site, use different keyword themes for each page on your site. Why? For one, focusing on a specific keyword phrase can make the site content repetitive and can actually hurt your site’s SEO more than help it rank. In addition, each page on your site is essentially a separate sales person selling to different markets or keyword themes. So if you dedicate one page to target “cheap hotels in San Francisco” and another page to target “hotels near San Francisco Zoo”, you essentially have two sales persons: one selling to people looking for inexpensive rooms in San Francisco, and one selling to people looking for a place to stay near the zoo.

Keyword meaning vs. specific words

Google reads and interprets your hotel’s website content, then forms its own conclusion about what the site is about, and the products or services it offers. To further explain, Google looks for synonyms to your keywords and use that to match it to the searcher’s query. For example, “pictures” and “photos” mean the same thing in most instances.”2 That means it doesn’t matter if you use the term trip or travel, hotel or resort, lodging or accommodation. Your hotel’s website can be using the phrase “San Francisco Hotel” and still show up on search results when the query “San Francisco Resort” is used.

Get the full story at the MileStone Blog

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Qatar Tourism Authority appoints Olery to provide insights into Qatar’s hospitality industry

February 17, 2015

The signing ceremony was attended by Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development Officer at QTA, and Kim Van Wijngaard, CEO and co-founder of Olery, in the presence of His Excellency Issa bin Mohammed Al Mohannadi, Chairman of QTA, and Her Excellency Yvette Burghgraef – Van Eechoud, Ambassador of Netherlands to Qatar.

Through this agreement, QTA seeks to benefit from the Olery destination system, which draws on traveler and customer reviews to constantly monitor dozens of customer review sites across the world. Olery also analyzes thousands of reviews each day to provide a deep insight into the guest experiences within Qatar’s hotels.

The strengths of the system lie in its ability to give a constant and consistent approach to the experiences of visitors to hotels worldwide, and analyzing the data to provide an overview of the destination’s hospitality industry. It can even compare the quality of the industry within Qatar to other destinations around the world or regionally.

Get the full story at Olery

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Expedia’s acquisition spree points to consolidation in mobile travel

February 16, 2015

Technologies such as Apple Pay and Touch ID may become requisite for those trying to gain new consumers. While the plethora of options is certainly beneficial for consumers seeking to snag the best deals, it becomes trickier for marketers, especially newer brands, aiming to nab a slice of the lucrative mobile travel sector.

This acquisition offers Expedia more leverage as it competes against another top corporation in the travel industry, Priceline. Expedia will likely be able to retain a majority of Orbitz’s regular customers, but has not commented on its exact plans for its recent acquisitions of Orbitz and Travelocity.

Marketers can bet on Expedia placing an even higher focus on mobile, however, as more millennials turn to their smartphones and tablets for browsing potential vacations and more importantly, booking them.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

Read also "Then there were only two" at Travel Market Report, "How Priceline wins in Expedia-Orbitz deal" at CNBC, and "Google fear a factor behind Orbitz-Expedia deal"

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How hotels are capitalizing on what business travelers value most

February 16, 2015

Hotels have long catered to business travelers, and for good reason. According to a U.S. Travel Association report, direct spending by domestic and international business travelers in the U.S. totaled $266.5 billion in 2013, representing almost a third of all money spent by travelers in the country that year. Considering this amount and the frequency with which these individuals travel - an average of 21 to 30 times per year, according to a report from American Express Global Business Travel - hotels need to promise more than just a business center to appease this discerning group of frequent travelers.

To shed some light on the latest business traveler trends and how properties are adapting, U.S. News spoke with Pedro Paredes, vice president, global business consulting for American Express Global Business Travel. But if you're not a business traveler, why should you care? Because this group of globe-trotters is changing the hospitality industry in a way that affects leisure travelers, too.

Brand names are king

According to the GBT survey, business travelers consider a hotel's brand to be the most important factor in booking a hotel. Aside from the fact that established brands offer the opportunity to rack up rewards points across their various loyalty programs, brands also promise consistency in all their properties, regardless of the location. And, according to Paredes, consistency is critical.

Get the full story at The Huffington Post

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Robots, retina scans, and infrared sensors: Hotels go hi-tech

February 16, 2015

According to a 2014 J. D. Power report, guest satisfaction in North American hotels is up significantly. Why? Hotels that are tapping into consumers’ wants - with devices and experiences that cooperate for immediate satisfaction - have already figured it out. Customer satisfaction, loyalty, and profitability are directly impacted by use of collaborative technologies and networks that put the customer first.

If you are staying at Aloft Cupertino, a boutique hotel near Apple’s headquarters, and order room service, you may get it delivered from their newest employee, A.L.O., a three-foot tall Botlr robot. “Our hotels are known for offering future-facing, tech-forward experiences, so it seemed only a natural fit to pilot the Botlr program at our Cupertino location,” said Brian McGuinness, Senior Vice President of Starwood’s Specialty Select Brands. “Boltr draws the greatest inspiration from the robots of our childhood with the productivity of Wall-E, the humor of Rosie from The Jetsons, and aesthetically reminiscent of perhaps the most famous robot of all, R2D2. We are thrilled with our newest talent member and look forward to further expanding this pilot in the upcoming year.”

Get the full story at VentureBeat

Read also "6 new tech wonders coming to hotels" at Hotel News Now

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How to grow brand loyalty among today’s travelers

February 16, 2015

Members of The Grand Wanderluster generation are defined not by age or gender but instead by their behaviours, characteristics and interests, and reward programmes are key to cultivating and retaining brand loyalty.

“The current accessibility and mass availability of travel means that traditional demographic based approaches to audience segmentation are a thing of the past,” said James Berry, e-commerce director at Collinson Latitude, which is part of The Collinson Group.

“Travel brands need to reinvent how they engage with the Grand Wanderluster generation or risk losing them to the competition.”

The report further breaks down The Grand Wanderluster into six separate personas based on their priorities during travel and advises how to attract each group.

Get the full story at TTG Asia and download the full report at Collinson Latitude (PDF 2.5 MB)

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The impact of dark social in travel marketing

February 16, 2015

In this digital era, what would you say is the estimated percentage of word of mouth taking place online? As shocking as this may sound, recent research conducted by Ed Keller and Brad Fay shows this number is actually only… 7%! In other words, most of the sharing still takes place offline, by the water cooler, the coffee machine, the office cubicle, in public transit or at the family dining table.

But make no mistake: we do share online. A lot. In fact, by the end of 2014 there were an estimated 1.8 billion social sharers around the world, representing 63.4% of all internet users, or 25% of the global population. But sharing online and sharing across various social networks is not the same thing!

Dark social sharing occurs when people share content digitally, but not directly through measurable social networks. The classic example is when people copy and paste content or links from a website, directly into the body of an email or text message, then share it with one or many recipients. These private messages fly under the radar of usual social media marketing tracking, whether this is measured with Google Analytics or other sophisticated tools.

Get the full story at Social Media Today

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It’s difficult to resist Airbnb

February 16, 2015

Being a tourist is such hard work. All those museums to visit. And major historical monuments to be photographed next to. And badly researched guff in the guide book to be taken in by. You just have to take one look at the crowds milling around Leicester Square in the part of London that few actually call “the West End” to realise how misguided the whole business is. That’s not London, you fools!

The Angus Steak House is not a restaurant, it’s a time-travel machine back to 1973. And one doesn’t go to a “show”, not if one lives here. One goes out to dinner. Or down the pub.

But that’s the thing about being a tourist. You’re always slightly helpless, slightly clueless, a hermit crab who’s left its protective shell and is fair game for any passing gull or over-enthusiastic write-up on Tripadvisor. It’s tiring and confusing and especially dispiriting in countries where they don’t understand the curative properties of a nice cup of tea. There are still vast swaths of the world where hotels fail to recognise the mini-kettle as one of the great inventions of civilisation.

Get the full story at the Guardian

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Book a hotel room on Instagram

February 16, 2015

Conrad is using Like2Buy technology by Curalate, a visual marketing firm, to turn Instagram photos into money-making vehicles.

"The point of Instagram is to inspire," says Stuart Foster, vice president of marketing at Conrad. Click on the photo, he says, and the Like2Buy technology "seamlessly connects you to the booking widget of that property. It's instant gratification for someone looking to truly be inspired to travel."

Some of the photos have been taken by professionals on behalf the hotel. But in many cases, the photographer is the hotel guest. The pictures include buildings, rooms, food, and experiences. For instance, a photo of the Conrad Pezula in South Africa shows people horseback riding.

Get the full story at USA Today

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Marriott ramps up mobile storytelling with trailer for first short film

February 16, 2015

The film, featuring the J.W. Marriott Los Angeles property, is the first original production to come from the hotel brand, and builds upon its initiative to leverage digital storytelling in a bid to connect emotionally with consumers as well as highlight its properties in a creative manner. The film is set to debut on Mar. 10 on YouTube, and will be available for streaming on a variety of digital and online platforms, including, in-room televisions and the film’s own mobile-optimized site.

“Two Bellmen is part of our entertainment slate across digital, TV, and film,” said David Beebe, vice president of creative and content marketing at Marriott International, Bethesda, MD. “The story is meant to entertain, make people laugh, and tell a great story where the hotel and brand is merely a character in the story.

“It’s not an ‘integration’ but a backdrop, a set that enabled the story to take place. That’s how we are creating the emotional connection with the consumer,” he said. “We evoked a response from them, made them laugh, entertained them, and then we can ask for the sale.”

Get the full story at the Mobile Marketer

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New TripAdvisor wants a ‘holistic’ relationship with hotels

February 13, 2015

That was the word that emerged from TripAdvisor’s fourth quarter and full-year 2014 earnings call yesterday as TripAdvisor detailed a plan to transform itself over the next three to five years.

Just as is looking to dig deeper into the business-to-business side of the hotel business, TripAdvisor intends to “move towards more holistic partner relationships” with hotels, said CFO Julie Bradley, that may include selling them solutions and “bundling our cpc (cost-per click), Instant Booking and Business Listings” services.

These initiatives come as TripAdvisor announced it plans to double its spending on TV advertising in 2015 to $60 million with an extended brand message of touting TripAdvisor as a site where travelers can “plan, compare and book.”

Get the full story at Skift

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Google fear a factor behind Orbitz-Expedia deal

February 13, 2015

Expedia offers online booking services for flights, car rentals and hotels under brands such as and, and plans to beef up its business with Thursday's US$1.6 billion proposed acquisition of rival Orbitz, which offers similar services and operates sites such as

Snatching up Orbitz will give Expedia the customers it needs to fend off companies that have muscled their way into the online travel agency space, including Google, said Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi during a webcast held to discuss the Orbitz deal. Google, along with traditional travel industry players like hotels, are all trying to establish themselves as the best option for consumers looking to book travel.

In 2010, Google agreed to buy ITA Software, a maker of airfare search and pricing software, for about $700 million, a deal that instantly made rivals and anti-trust watchdogs cry foul. The U.S. government challenged the acquisition, and ultimately Google and the Department of Justice signed a consent decree in October 2011, clearing the way for the deal. That agreement, which imposes a number of requirements on Google to protect competition in the market, expires in October of next year. Google, which declined to comment, competes against Expedia with its Flights search engine.

Get the full story at PC World and Fast Company

Read also "Expedia buys Orbitz for $1.6B in cash to square up to priceline" and "Why Expedia is adding more digital storefronts to its travel-booking empire" at Fast Company

Article location: hopes to rediscover mojo with ‘lustminute’ campaign

February 13, 2015

Newspaper adverts and video footage are also being used, with careful editing and layouts to get the maximum effect. The result is a campaign that promotes various European destinations with a saucy, 'Carry-On' feel to what a romantic weekend should be about.

An advert The Metro newspaper generated plenty of Twitter activity, with the #Lustminute hashtag. The majority of comments made were positive and responded with a mixture of feigned innocence, along with some cheeky comments.

The video is the latest used by the OTA to generate interest. Previous efforts include a series recording the adventures of Jamie,’s spontaneity champion, and 'Farage loves Europe' which edited snippets of the Ukip leader to show him extolling the virtues of Europe.

Get the full story at Travolution

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More hotels adding user reviews to their sites

February 13, 2015

“The more you know about my hotels and what you can do there, the better chance we have of you coming and seeing us,” says Starwood CEO Frits van Paasschen. “It’s the same reason we put ratings and reviews on We’re not 100 percent correct every time, but I’ll put us up against the reality anywhere else any time.”

Four Seasons began running TripAdvisor reviews on its properties’ pages in 2013, following a website relaunch.

“I felt that being upfront about user-generated content would demonstrate incredible confidence in what we do,” Susan Helstab, Executive Vice President of Marketing told Skift. “And I don’t believe there’s a guest that’s stayed with us that hasn’t gone to TripAdvisor.”

Other brands have been slower to introduce reviews directly on their site. For example, Marriott’s significant and, no doubt, expensive focus on brand-controlled content is even more interesting in light of its apparent resistance to user-generated reviews.

Get the full story at Skift

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Hyatt introduces innovative new loyalty benefits for most frequent guests

February 13, 2015

Hyatt today introduced a suite of innovative new loyalty benefits for its most frequent guests. Through its award winning loyalty program, Hyatt Gold Passport, Hyatt is delivering a more effortless and seamless travel experience beyond the hotel stay. Hyatt Gold Passport members who achieve Diamond status through 25 stays or 50 nights each calendar year will have access to the following exclusive benefits:

- Guest of Honor: Beginning March 1, members can extend their Diamond in-hotel benefits such as Regency Club or Grand Club access, free breakfast and late check out to family or friends when they transfer a free night stay using Hyatt Gold Passport points. By extending Diamond privileges to members' friends or family on an award stay, Hyatt is providing the warmest possible welcome and an extraordinary on-property experience.

- United Club Passes: Beginning March 1, Diamond members will receive two complimentary United Club one-time passes annually. Diamond members will enjoy access to more than 45 United Club locations at airports served by United Airlines, with amenities that include complimentary bar service, light snacks, free Wi-Fi, conference room access and more. This benefit extends Hyatt's hospitality beyond its hotels and ensures Diamond members are comfortable and productive throughout their entire travel journey.

- Premium Wi-Fi: Beginning February 14, Diamond and Platinum members will receive premium Wi-Fi access (where available) in guestrooms and social spaces, such as lobbies and Hyatt-operated restaurants, at every Hyatt hotel worldwide. Access to a premium Wi-Fi experience ensures members work more efficiently when away from the home or office.

"Listening to our guests around the world is an important part of building meaningful relationships, and our best members have expressed a desire for a relationship that goes beyond a hotel stay," said Jeff Zidell, senior vice president, Hyatt Gold Passport. "These new Diamond benefits broaden the traditional definition of loyalty and provide real value by celebrating and supporting our guests through their Hyatt experiences and beyond."

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A first look at the new Search Impact Reports in Google Webmaster Tools

February 13, 2015

The Search Impact report shows you a breakdown your clicks and position metrics by one of these six dimensions: date, popular queries, top pages, leading countries, user device and Google Search property. In addition, you can filter and compare across these dimensions. The Google Search property dimension did not work for me, but heck, it is in Alpha.

Search Engine Roundtable shares some screen shots of the new reports.

Get the full story at Search Engine Roundtable and Search Engine Land

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Five global trends that will benefit Asia-Pacific’s tourism in 2015

February 13, 2015

First, the sustained dip in oil prices spells good news in terms of a lower overall cost of living, from potentially lower air fares to deflationary pressures increasing average disposable income.

Next, tourism stakeholders can compete well with the judicious use of social, good apps and mobile services to connect with the continuing force of digitally driven, well-informed, and social consumers.

The third trend pertains to China’s continuing influence, with AttractChina projecting 140 million Chinese tourists spending US$188 billion abroad in 2015. Localised issues such as Thailand’s political unrest and Malaysia Airlines’ flight diasaters last year had limited impact, given that Chinese arrivals to the region began to rise again end-2014.

Get the full story at TTG Asia

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Hoteliers generate over US$1.7 billion with eRevMax

February 13, 2015

eRevMax solutions are used by over 20000 properties worldwide which in itself is a testimony of the benefits that the RateTiger and Connect solutions provide to its users. The US$1.7 billion revenue was generated by a cumulative 4.54 million new reservations that eRevMax processed across various channels, equating to $374 for each booking.

"Our 2-way XML integration with leading online sales channels and hotel management systems means we can offer our hotel customers a seamless booking experience, which has been reflected in the numbers. We expect these numbers to grow 5X with our new web-based LIVE dashboard which integrates business processes improvement across multiple 3rd party systems delivered on a single platform to simplify complex day to day revenue management activities. The eRevMax LIVE Network provides integrated rate recommendations, direct booking support, meta-search and payment processing for improved ROI including cost reduction as we all measurable revenue growth. Not only does it mean less hassle and more revenue for hotels, it also brings better business to our channel partners as we help to match market demand with relevant hotel products," said Greg Berman, Chief Operating Officer at eRevMax.

eRevMax has launched LIVE, its next generation distribution and analytics solution, at WTM London recently. The LIVE platform incorporates the RateTiger and Connect product lines, and merges detailed Competitive Rate Intelligence & Business Analytics with two-way XML channel connectivity for real-time rate and inventory updates coordinated with booking delivery into hotel third party systems.

Related Link: eRevMax

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Expedia buys Orbitz for $1.6B in cash to square up to priceline

February 12, 2015

The deal speaks to ongoing consolidation in the market, but also Expedia’s bigger competitive threat in the form of Priceline, which owns Kayak and other large travel properties, and the fact that perhaps Orbitz saw the consolidation writing on the wall itself.

Expedia says that the boards of both publicly-traded companies have approved the deal, which will now be put to Orbitz shareholders for approval. Expedia will be buying both Orbitz’s portal plus a lot of other brands that it owns.

“We are attracted to the Orbitz Worldwide business because of its strong brands and impressive team. This acquisition will allow us to deliver best-in-class experiences to an even wider set of travelers all over the world,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, president and CEO, Expedia, Inc., in a statement. “From the flagship brand, to other well-known consumer brands such as CheapTickets, ebookers and HotelClub and the business-to-business brands Orbitz Partner Network and Orbitz for Business, the Orbitz Worldwide team has built a devoted customer base and we look forward to welcoming them to the Expedia, Inc. family.”

Get the full story at TechCrunch

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TripAdvisor’s Q4 profit soars as stronger-than-expected revenue offsets higher expenses

February 12, 2015

Overall, TripAdvisor reported a profit of $36 million, up from $20.5 million a year earlier. Total revenue rose 35% to $288 million, and total costs and expenses increased 23%. Click-based advertising, which accounts for the bulk of the company’s revenue, rose 25% from the year-earlier period.

TripAdvisor's websites had more than 2.5 billion unique visitors during 2014, according to Google Analytics, the company noted.

"We have begun enabling more users to complete their booking in our three largest demand categories: hotels, attractions, and restaurants. This makes TripAdvisor the most comprehensive one-stop shop in travel. Starting in 2015, we plan to aggressively scale and promote this more complete user proposition," CEO Steve Kaufer said.

Get the full story at The Street and TripAdvisor

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Priceline partners with Travelport in Asia

February 12, 2015

Universal API aggregates content from Travelport’s GDS, including airfares, ancillaries, hotels, car and rail, and makes it accessible to developers or companies creating their own travel apps. This is intended to negate the need for OTAs to obtain content from multiple sources, thus improving efficiency.

“We had very specific requirements when choosing a long-term technology partner for our business. We needed a provider that can take Hutchison-Priceline to the next level – by supplying broad travel content, innovative technology, global scope and service excellence. Travelport fulfils our criteria and we are confident that they can help us deliver on our growth strategy in the years ahead,” said Tony Ma, Hutchison-Priceline’s CEO.

Mark Meehan, Travelport’s managing director for Asia Pacific, said the deal was “a testament to our ongoing commitment in working with OTAs”.

Get the full story at Travel Daily Asia

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HotelQuickly enters South Korea with redesigned app

February 12, 2015

CEO Tomas Laboutka said, “We didn’t want to rush to Korea just to be there. We wanted to really learn as much as possible about the Korean market before launching. We took our time to develop the app to really meet the needs of Korean and international travellers, and are now confident that the app will exceed the expectations of people who need to book last-minute in the region.”

The app has been reworked from scratch, offering improved functionality, more information on hotels, and a more streamlined hotel booking process.

“Our iOS and Android teams have been working extremely hard on this redesign to make our last-minute hotel booking not only more intuitive, but visually exciting as well,” said HotelQuickly Co-Founder and CTO Michal Juhas.

Get the full story at WIT

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How technology is changing the hotel concierge

February 12, 2015

“The current role of the concierge is to provide information and services to guests,” said Kevin Murphy, chairman of the Hospitality Services Department at Rosen College of Hospitality Management in Orlando, Florida. “Their role will never diminish, but it’s going to be a much more specialized type of service that they’re providing.”

According to Les Clefs d’Or, an organization for professional hotel lobby concierges, there are 595 concierges wearing the group’s crossed gold keys insignia in the United States, a 14% increase since 2009.

Two trends could affect those numbers, as well as the actual role of the concierge, Murphy said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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HotelsByDay competes with flexible daytime mobile bookings

February 12, 2015

Consumers may now book intra-day stays at hotels in Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City and Washington D.C. if they need extra time to freshen up between flights, plan a presentation or work remotely while on a business trip. Although the booking app sector has been extremely crowded as of late, with brands such as Expedia and dominating the field, HotelsByDay is bringing a fresh slew of options to the forefront for business travelers which may give it a leg up.

“We think the HotelsByDay launch will ignite a trend in intra-day stays in the same way Kayak introduced Metasearch and Jetsetter introduced Flash Sales,” said Nathan Stevenson, co-founder and chief operating officer of HotelsByDay, New York. “We think users will love the fast seamless experience because it is highly visual and gives them the flexibility and convenience of being able to book intra-day stays, in the morning, noon or afternoon.

“HotelsByDay is truly a new service in the crowded travel technology space,” he said. “No other app allows users to book intra-day stays at the last minute.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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Google helps travelers to sound more like locals

February 12, 2015

The voiceover will activate when the user types in the location as they would do normally on the existing map software. It would be perfect for names of places that are enunciated slightly differently in each location. The patent uses the example Worcester, as it’s a city in the U.K., in South Africa and accounts for 10 areas in the U.S.. By using the voice of a local as opposed to a computer-generated sound, as it does in Google Translate, the subtle differences will shine through enabling traveling enthusiasts to really show off once they land at their destination.

Barak Turovsky, Product Lead, Google Translate explains,

“Often the hardest part of traveling is navigating the local language. If you’ve ever asked for “pain” in Paris and gotten funny looks, confused “embarazada” with “embarrassed” in Mexico, or stumbled over pronunciation pretty much anywhere, you know the feeling. Now Google Translate can be your guide in new ways.”

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ReviewPro fastest growing company in hotel reputation management second consecutive year

February 12, 2015

The company’s impressive growth has come from signing new clients and the migration of key clients from industry competitors.

ReviewPro developed and leads the category of Guest Intelligence, the integration of Online Reputation Management (ORM) and Guest Survey Solution (GSS). The company offers its award-winning data and analytics via a suite of SaaS products and an open API platform. With a client retention rate of nearly 90%, the company has helped independent properties and hotel groups, worldwide across all segments, to make operational and service improvements to enhance the guest experience and increase ranking on TripAdvisor and 142 other review sites and OTAs in 45+ languages, which leads to a higher ADR and RevPAR. ReviewPro is the only company to offer the Global Review Index™ (GRI), superior data coverage and quality, and with a proven capacity to help properties turn insight into action and profit from the social web.

As well as significant client growth in the areas of ORM and GSS, the company has seen substantial growth in data sales to hotel groups, consulting groups, financial institutions, investors, technology partners and destinations. A diverse group of stakeholders throughout these organizations use ReviewPro’s data, aggregated from thousands of online sources, to gain deeper insight and make more informed business decisions. Key data clients signed in 2014 include PwC; SETE, Greece’s largest hospitality association; IDeaS Revenue Solutions; and Star Ratings Australia.

In 2014, ReviewPro also continued its long-term relationship with Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, the world leader in hospitality management education. After initially collaborating with Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) on the research study to measure the impact of an increase in a property’s reputation score on the property’s ADR and RevPAR, ReviewPro has collaborated with the leading hotel management school on four additional studies, including the recently published study that establishes the link between the cumulative Guest Review Index (GRI) scores of a publicly traded entity's future stock price and market capitalization.

With a significant increase in competitive pressure in the hotel industry in recent years, all hoteliers must now leverage Guest Intelligence to become more effective at providing the best possible guest experience. There is a growing trend towards convergence of technologies and systems within hotel organizations, which makes it critical to have a partner that offers solutions that are capable of integrating with existing platforms (i.e. CRM, PMS, etc.), while offering the highest quality Guest Intelligence data. All these factors combined, position ReviewPro to continue to build upon its impressive client base and global presence in the coming years.

Related Link: ReviewPro

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The hotelier’s guide to Valentine’s Day

February 12, 2015

Declared the official day of love on February 14, 496 AD, Valentine’s Day is one of the most celebrated holidays worldwide. With spending expected to reach a record $19 billion this year, this isn’t just another consumer holiday reserved for retailers. Hotel marketers can amplify their storytelling and increase bookings through clever content and targeted engagement.

Here the top five ways hoteliers can cash in on love.

1. Showcase Your Hotel in a Romantic Way

The theme is love so take this opportunity to speak to travel shoppers in a heartfelt way. Show your Valentine’s Day spirit on all of your hotel’s channels. On your main webpage and social platforms, add a romantic flare by customizing logos and graphics to reflect this special day. Inside your hotel, hoteliers can add a tender touch to their visual storytelling with picturesque views and sentimental details.

Get the full story at Leonardo

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Priceline’s CEO bullish about the technology side of hotel business

February 11, 2015

Huston says the Priceline Group’s,, and Kayak have supplemented digital marketing with television advertising, where data metrics are less transparent. “It was a natural outcome in some ways because Google is having harder times growing as fast as we need to grow, so we’re sourcing demand from more and more varied places,” Huston says.

On other topics, Huston says the Priceline team respects companies, such as Uber and Airbnb, that are in “high gear” and takes motivation from them; is in “constant discussions” with HomeAway about working together but “It just takes time and the bar that we’re holding out is that things [vacation rental bookings] need to be instantly confirmable, immediately bookable,” and is bullish about the Priceline Group’s entry into the digital marketing and technology side of the hotel business.

On the OpenTable acquisition, Huston says the purpose wasn’t “to say we’re going to own all of travel” — as TripAdvisor is trying to do — but was very complementary with OpenTable was “built on B2B that needs B2C competencies. For Booking, we’re really B2C and we’re building out B2B competencies for the long tail with Hotel Ninjas and Buuteeq and these other acquisitions. It’s a really nice marriage in terms of we’re both trying to learn and build going forward.”

Get the full story at Skift

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Smaller OTAs squeezed by Expedia/Priceline duopoly

February 11, 2015

Alongside TripAdvisor and Airbnb, they are the world's most powerful online travel companies. Expedia's annual results last week revealed its 2014 gross bookings grew 26% year year-on-year to more than 50 billion US dollars.

Priceline is yet to report for year-end 2014 but for the third quarter it achieved 28% growth in gross bookings to just shy of USD14 billion for the three month period.

The result is that the squeeze is on and mid-size online travel companies - outfits that once had some decent mojo - are feeling the pinch. This article takes a closer look at the impact from an Australian market perspective.

Get the full story at Travel Trends

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Analyst preview of TripAdvisor Q4 2014 earnings

February 11, 2015

The world’s largest travel review company posted revenues of $958 million in the nine months, up by 31% year on year. All the three divisions posted strong top line growth - click-based advertising revenue increased by 25% year on year to $689 million, display-based advertising increased by 21% year on year to $104 million, and subscription & transaction revenue increased by 76% year on year to $165 million.

However, in the third quarter, the performance fell short of the growth expected by the company. The primary reason for the setback was a seasonal decline in the click per hotel shopper since mid-August 2014. Also, despite the strong top-line growth, TripAdvisor’s adjusted EBITDA increased by around just 14% in the first nine months, due to the acquisition related expenditures, coupled with the expenses directed towards capturing a bigger share of the travel and entertainment.

For full year 2014, the management expects total revenue growth between the high 20% to low 30% range and the click based revenues growth in the mid-20% range.

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IBM sues Priceline for patent infringement

February 11, 2015

In attempts to develop the Prodigy online service, launched by IBM with partners in the 1980s, the inventors of U.S. patents 5,796,967 and 7,072,849 developed new methods for presenting applications and advertisements in an interactive service that would take advantage of the computing power of each user’s PC and reduce demand on host servers, such as those used by Prodigy, IBM said in its filing.

U.S. patent no. 5,961,601 was developed as part of IBM’s bid to find a better way of preserving state information in Internet communications, such as between an online merchant and a customer, according to IBM.

IBM said it had notified Priceline in a letter in October 2011 that it was infringing the ‘967, ‘849, and ‘601 patents. It subsequently informed Priceline that it also infringed the ‘346 patent. “Priceline has refused to engage in any meaningful discussion on the merits, resorting instead to delay and non-responsive answers,” IBM said in the filing.

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Marriott’s new content studio debuts short film “Two Bellmen”

February 11, 2015

A collaboration between the Content Studio and renowned dance, parkour, extreme sports, martial arts, and music collective Substance Over Hype, TWO BELLMEN represents the boldest move yet by Marriott International to use narrative storytelling and entertainment to elevate its portfolio of brands – kicking off with the company's distinctive and sophisticated JW Marriott brand, which currently consists of 69 luxury properties in 26 countries and is expected to reach more than 100 hotels in over 30 countries by 2019.

TWO BELLMEN was directed by Daniel "Malakai" Cabrera and written by Cabrera and Jade Raybin. Marriott's Content Studio head David Beebe served as Executive Producer and Evan J. Cholfin of Stories International, Inc. produced. The film follows a competitive relationship between two exceptional bellmen that grows into a new friendship when the pair works together to thwart an attempted art heist. The hotel, the bellmen and JW Marriott' signature service culture emerge as heroes.

The film is a comedic, genre-bending explosion of parkour, martial arts, dance and music action, and features the biggest stars from the hip hop and B-boy dance worlds, including leading Hollywood stuntmen William Spencer (SPIDER-MAN; SPIDER-MAN 2) and Caine Sinclair (NBC's Grimm; How I met Your Mother) as The Bellmen. The cast also includes Henry Simmons (Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.); Miles Brown aka Baby Boogaloo (ABC's Black-ish); Sophina Brown (Shark; Numb3rs; The Good Wife); noted B-boy dancer Josue "Beastmode" Figueroa (Southland; STEP UP REVOLUTION); Josue Antonio (STEP UP series; The LXD); Taryn Southern (The Single Life); and So You Think You Can Dance hip hop legend, Stephen "tWitch" Boss (STEP UP films; So You Think You Can Dance; MAGIC MIKE XXL), as well as other amazing talents from Substance Over Hype. The music and dance world is also fully represented, with AMP Live, Scarub, and Fingazz all making appearances.

The film debuts on YouTube March 10th. It features a multiplatform, all-screens distribution strategy including digital, theater, in-room, online,, and Marriott's 47 million Marriott Reward members.

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Chinese enthusiasm for social media tails off sharply

February 11, 2015

The second annual Kantar China Social Media Impact Report also found that social media is now used by more age groups, by less educated people and in smaller cities, while Tencent WeChat has become the dominant social media leader of an increasingly mobile connected country.

The continuous survey part of the research captured the shifting profile of Chinese social media users from face-to-face interviews with 53,112 urban residents. Social media's reach among urban residents has increased to 34% from last year's 28.6%. People born in 1990s usurped the 1980s generation to become the largest age group (37.7%) and the proportion of older generations also increased at the expense of the 1980s, whose share dropped from 44.8% to 30.8%.

"As social media becomes less new, it is no longer the cool thing to do and loses part of its charm in certain groups", says Sophie Shen, General Manager of CTR Media & Consumption Behaviour, who led the online polling survey. "More profoundly, social media has penetrated into the lives of Chinese people and they now realise they are spending too much time on it. At the same time, they are receiving more low-quality and duplicate content, this is why the proportion of `zero interaction' social users increased by 7 percentage points to 46%."

Get the full story at and infographic at Kantar

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What hotels need to know about Amazon Local Travel

February 11, 2015

1. Independent and Boutique Hotels: For the time being, big brands may have to wait. Initially, Amazon has set its focus on independent hotels and resorts. Amazon Local Travel is an extension of the local services offering, which has also been launched rather quietly. The aim? To provide interesting drivable getaway opportunities in major markets.

2. Amazon Local vs Amazon Local Travel: In case you were under the impression that Amazon Travel was only for hotels wanting to offer rock bottom rates, you should know that Amazon Local and Amazon Local Travel are part of the same localized effort, but they are apparently different. Amazon Local launched with some hotel offerings, but those were deeply discounted offerings to help hotels fill need times. Amazon Local Travel gives the hotels who are invited to participate the opportunity publish rack rates, control inventory via extranet, and so forth.

3. A New Kind of Curated Collection: Curated hotel collections are nothing new. Leading Hotels of the World, Andrew Harper, and the like have been doing it for a long time, but most curated collections have been limited to the luxury segment. In Amazon’s case, it appears they are choosing based on travel review ratings, and not simply based on luxury designation, which may set them apart.

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Social media means business for hotels

February 11, 2015

As social media or digital channels continue to grow in terms of consumer usage and marketing power, hotels need to switch their perception of these avenues as social channels and start treating these as sophisticated business avenues. To do that, hotels should:

- Use business metrics vs. social metrics by evaluating the value of a “like”, “share”, or “follow” – measuring the number of each of these social metrics is meaningless unless it can be connected to a larger business goal.

- Know your target audience and fine-tune your hotel’s social media strategy to attract quality vs. quantity. Having a million unengaged followers who don’t ever plan to visit your area is worthless compared to 100 highly engaged followers that are most likely to book a stay at your hotel.

- Make use of data from social channels to effectively target your audience based on their preferences. This allows hotels to minimize cost and maximize marketing effectiveness.

- Identify and assign social agents at the property who can provide a robust exposure across all marketing channels.

Get the full story at MileStone

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Priceline credits mobile for driving last-minute getaways among millennials

February 10, 2015

A recent survey by Wakefield Research, commissioned by, discovered 49 percent of Americans that did not take a last-minute trip in 2014 regretted not doing so, while 73 percent of millennials claim they are likely to purchase a spur-of-the-moment vacation in the upcoming year. According to the results, 58 percent of respondents believe a 2015 last-minute vacation is on the horizon, proving that this year is an optimal time for booking apps to compete against each other for the upper hand in the crowded mobile travel space.

“In recent years, we’ve seen an increase in our customers’ comfort levels with reserving last-minute vacations,” said Fabiola Carcamo, mobile product director at, New York. “In 2014, 80 percent of reservations made on a mobile were same-day reservations and 25 percent of those are within 5 miles of the hotel.

“This has helped fuel’s efforts to offer a more diverse array of last-minute reservation tools across all devices – Deals Near Me, Tonight Only Mobile Deals and Express Deals – in addition to adding 2,000 new mobile exclusives hotel deals. More specifically, our Express Deals, which allow consumers to select the neighborhood, star level and amenities before reserving a room, grew 10 times since its late 2013 launch,” she said.

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Business travel is surging, travel managers easing policy enforcement

February 10, 2015

U.S. business travel is projected to top $310 billion this year, a record 6.2% increase on top of a record-breaking 2014.

US business travel ended 2014 on an upward trend with a 1.4% increase in individual trip volume for the year compared to 2013. The uptick continues through 2015 with a projected 1.7% increase in trip volume generating a 6.2% increase in travel spending.

“We see a little weakening on travel policy, a bit more business class travel on longer flights and a few more hotel upgrades as business increases its investment in travel,” said Joe Bates, vice president of research at the Global Business Travel Association Foundation.

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Marriott partners with YouTube stars for original content

February 10, 2015

The series gives travelers the chance to join in the action through the eyes of these online stars as they engage in activities such as paintball, martial arts and piloting a helicopter.

One of the key strategies of the Marriott Content Studio is to partner with and enable the creative community to create compelling story driven content in all formats across all screens, says David Beebe, vice president, creative and content marketing, global marketing for Marriott International.

“At the end of the day, content done right builds an emotional connection with the viewer and our brands and ultimately equals heads in beds,” Beebe says in a release.

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