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Google’s new mobile travel search makes web results almost irrelevant

February 05, 2016

As reported earlier, Google has quietly revamped the mobile user interface for travel-related searches. The result of the change makes it really hard to get to the organic web results once you click on the “more destinations” button.

Google leads you into a new travel search experience on mobile search that makes it harder to view web-based search results.

Get the full story at Search Engine Land

Read also "Hotel SEO and Google’s new Trip Planning search results" and "Google launches trip planning experience on mobile"

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TripAdvisor Instant Booking finally expands to more markets

February 05, 2016

Travelers in these markets are now able to conveniently book a hotel on all of TripAdvisor’s platforms, desktop and mobile, without leaving the site.

TripAdvisor instant booking is now fully rolled out across 11 countries, following the launch of instant booking in the U.S. and U.K., with a global rollout expected in the first half of 2016.

“We’re excited to help even more travellers around the world conveniently plan and book the perfect trip on our site as we rollout instant booking to more global markets,” said Stephen Kaufer, president and CEO of TripAdvisor. “The momentum we’re building is remarkable and we look forward to continuing our expansion throughout 2016 with the help of our trusted partners.”

TripAdvisor’s partnership with Priceline Group, announced in October 2015, and subsequent integration of its inventory have helped accelerate TripAdvisor’s instant booking expansion due to the online travel agency’s extensive global property listings, localised content and quality customer care. TripAdvisor is working to integrate inventory from its other valued instant booking partners so that their supply is available to book on the platform in the near future.

TripAdvisor now works with 8 out of the top 10 hotel brands in the world and these respected suppliers have joined a growing list of more than 70 hotel chain, groups and online travel agency (OTA) partners that will power bookings on the platform. TripAdvisor’s instant booking partners include Accor, Best Western International, Carlson Rezidor, Choice Hotels, Hyatt Hotels, Langham Hospitality, La Quinta Inns & Suites, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott International, Priceline Group, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Wyndham Worldwide.

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How Expedia is rebuilding its presence in China

February 05, 2016

Expedia has a two-fold approach for each and every market. Firstly, building own brands organically and secondly, partnering with strong local brands.

The group currently has tie-ups with Ctrip and eLong, the company in which it sold its stake last year.

According to sources, the possibility of eLong breaking-even, at least over the next few years, looked bleak considering the way the duel between OTAs, especially Ctrip and Qunar was shaping up. But still more than the domestic travel segment, the foreign companies are looking at the inbound Chinese market, as well as the outbound opportunity.

Get the full story at China Travel News

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Lufthansa’s market share down following GDS fee

February 05, 2016

Lufthansa’s market share dipped by 8.5% from 32.9% in June to 24.4% in November following imposition of the charge on September 1.

EasyJet grew its market share as did other airlines, while British Airways’s remained steady, according to new information from Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) members.

The trend suggests that TMCs have switched business away from the German airline group to avoid passing on the charge to their customers.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Airlines ‘woefully underestimating’ potential of digital, says PwC

February 05, 2016

Carriers are increasingly turning significant “sector disruptions” - from new technology and changing consumer behaviours to regulation - to their advantage.

But Paul warned about the risks of cyber complacency as companies continue to develop their digital technologies through customer-facing processes and by sharing business data with third party organisations.

With new EU general data protection regulations coming into force, data breaches could result in firms facing significant fines of up to 4% of their worldwide turnover.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Google search is about to get a lot smarter

February 05, 2016

Many believe AI will deliver some of the biggest breakthroughs in computing technology over the next few years. The goal of AI is to create systems that understand their environment and even handle everyday tasks, from recognizing speech and handwriting, preventing online fraud and replying to emails to developing self-piloting cars. Google, already deep in AI research, looks set to further apply the technology to the one product we all touch every day.

"Search has transformed people's lives; over a billion people rely on us," wrote Singhal, 48, in a post on Google+. "Search is stronger than ever, and will only get better in the hands of an outstanding set of senior leaders who are already running the show day-to-day."

Get the full story at Wired

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Join HEDNA U 2.0 NYC on February 16

February 05, 2016

Revenue & Channel Management: So what is "Revenue Management" anyway? It's more than you think! Learn the fundamentals of this hospitality discipline and how you can use it to manage all those channels that often seem to have a life of their own.

Electronic Advertising: As online marketing opportunities proliferate, we need to understand how a tried and true practice, like advertising, has to change. Learn the basics of electronic advertising including what your options are, when is the best time to use each, and how to get the best results.

Payments: As the payment world evolves and new markets open up we've seen a transition from cash to vouchers to cards ... now we have "virtual currencies" and more. Learn about what's out there now, what's coming and how our industry should prepare.

More information and registation at HEDNA

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eRevMax completes 2-way integration with HotelsByDay

February 05, 2016

The mobile travel application is the latest addition to the eRevMax Channel Ecosystem that connects hotels to over 150 global distribution channels.

Accommodation providers, using RateTiger, RTConnect and LIVE OS distribution solutions will now be able to optimize their RevPAR (Revenue Per Available Room) by making real-time rate and inventory updates and receive direct bookings generated on the interface directly into their property management system. Launched in 2015, HotelsByDay is a channel that lets travelers book a room for a block of hours between early checkouts and late check-ins at hotels. The app uses geo-location to show the day rooms closest to the user for booking same-day easily, along with advance booking options.

Currently available in 19 cities in North America, HotelsByDay offers over 300 elegant properties and continues to grow. The integration with eRevMax will help the channel to gain access to broader inventories, improve booking conversion and increase revenues as part of its worldwide growth plans.

“It’s always been utmost importance for us to offer our hotel customers a diverse range of distribution options through our eRevMax Channel Ecosystem. The integration with HotelsByDay will give our worldwide hotel customers a channel to sell their under-utilized inventories and improve revenue,” said Reuel Ghosh, CEO, eRevMax.

“According to 2015 industry estimate, an average of 1.2 million rooms in the US are sitting empty every day between early check-out & late check-ins and available for intra-day bookings. Add to that the unsold rooms from the night before to this inventory and the possibility is enormous. As a leader in hotel distribution and channel management solutions, eRevMax is the perfect partner to provide us with the opportunity to expand our reach and enable hotels to easily connect & optimize their sleeping & conference rooms with us,” said Yannis Moati, CEO, HotelsByDay.

eRevMax is developing its connectivity solutions to offer sophisticated real-time revenue management functionality to the hospitality industry. This includes solutions for the independent market, the mid-market and scaling up through the large, global hotel groups. The eRevMax Channel Ecosystem facilitates quality, certified connectivity and relationship management services to support complex revenue generation strategies.

Related Link: eRevMax

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Priceline’s new strategic direction to highlight choices

February 04, 2016

" has incredible deals in travel and we've now made it easier for customers to find them so they can take that trip," stated Paul Hennessy,'s Chief Executive Officer. "We took a hard look at today's behavioral trends and they reveal travel's core truth: travelers take more trips to visit family in places like Rome, Georgia than trips of a lifetime to places like Rome, Italy. A drastically improved product initiative and an expansive increase in available properties, followed by a complete site and app refresh, has put our hotel, rental car and air partners' content in the spotlight so that no matter what kind of trip you need to take, we've put it on the line for you."

New strategic direction to highlight choices

The impact of technology has fundamentally changed consumer behavior in travel and mobile technology and has led to rapid growth in access and content. Dedicated to offering consumers both broad availability and great deals, the company recently added over 300,000 properties of all types, including apartments and condos, and properties offering free cancellations and pay-at-arrival. Working with the best partners in the travel landscape, now has one of the largest selections of luxury rental cars available and a completely redesigned mobile flight product. Over the years, the company has reinvented itself from a bidding model to a predominantly published price model with deeper discounts available through Express Deals and the lowest price possible through Name Your Own Price.

The new advertising campaign: "Whatever's On the Line, Priceline"'s new, multi-platform advertising campaign focuses on the life choices consumers make every day, from flying to a cousin's wedding or a job interview, to visiting colleges with a son or daughter. The company is pivoting from its iconic 'Priceline Negotiator,' William Shatner, to now telling the pros and cons of everyday travel decisions, while reassuring consumers they should and can afford to take the trip. William Shatner will remain with the brand in his new role as narrator, providing humorous voiceover for every decision.

"The modern traveler is taking more last-minute, short duration, and frequent trips for work or pleasure, and we bring them deals, availability and easy-to-use platforms whatever the budget," said Brett Keller, Chief Operating Officer at "When we were building our new advertising campaign with BBDO, we wanted to communicate that every trip mattered and that had the deals - because for every trip, there's something on the line: love, money, career, family, or sports. We also insisted the campaign be as funny as Shatner... and they nailed it."

The new advertising campaign will debut during the pre-game show at Super Bowl 50 on Feb 7, 2016 with the first spot, entitled "Cousins." The full series of five commercial advertisements will roll out during the first quarter of the year, with each spot posing the same question: "to go or not go." The company will premiere its most high-profile spot during NBA All Star weekend, featuring NBA veterans Latrell Sprewell and the 'Admiral' David Robinson in a matchup of notorious vs. glorious, highlighting why you should definitely take the trip.

For the first time in the brand's history, will pre-launch a national brand campaign using Facebook's extensive mobile targeting platform. The multi-faceted mobile video campaign, which will begin today, leverages Facebook's unique ability to target life moments with its mobile audience. The custom video content will connect with users through a series of personalized pieces as they learn of their friends' life moments from status changes and daily updates.

Streamlined, cross-platform user experience

Steeped in data analytics,'s new product strategy is focused on personalization and speed. The average customer books more than half (51% in 2016 according to eMarketer) of their travel on a mobile platform and that number continues to grow. Of both "average travelers" and "heavy users" (12-15 trips), 75% of mobile bookings on are reserved for same day or next day check-in. Already well-known for deals, is removing complexity within the user experience to allow customers to find deals more quickly and with improved cross-platform capabilities. Over the last few years, has developed products such as Deals Near Me, where a traveler can make a reservation for a room off an interstate when he or she gets tired, or Tonight-Only Deals, where last-minute customers can tap into special deals. In the first half of 2016, consumers will continue to see changes, including a faster and more streamlined user experience, a site refresh with a new homepage, increased content and deals, interactive maps online and in the app, and additional discounts for signed-in customers based on favorite and frequent trips.

Read also " turns William Shatner’s Negotiator into narrator in major new ad campaign" and "’s cross-platform revamp lifts off with targeted video on Facebook"

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Travel groups urge Congress to investigate airline competition

February 04, 2016

The recent spate of mergers has left relatively few major airlines in control of the industry. Along with Southwest, the remaining three legacy carriers have about 80 percent of the market share for flights within the U.S. Ultra-budget airlines like Spirit, Frontier and Allegiant have provided some competitive fares on select routes, but their presence is not (yet?) big enough to really affect the whole marketplace.

“Clearly, the air travel industry has seen major changes in the past few decades, and so we think that it is entirely appropriate for Congress to take a hard look at these changes and the impact they’ve had on competition, customer service and other issues," said ASTA Senior Vice President of Government and Industry Affairs Eben Peck. "As the national trade association for a critical part of the aviation industry, ASTA fully supports the proposal to create a new airline competition commission and looks forward to working with our allies and other stakeholders to see it through to enactment.”

Get the full story at Travel Pulse

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ASTA forms hotel distribution committee

February 04, 2016

ASTA has created a committee that will identify and discuss issues in hotel distribution.

The Hotel Distribution Advisory Committee, made up of 10 travel agency and industry representatives, will meet regularly, ASTA said.

In addition to identifying and discussing issues in the hotel and lodging sphere, the committee will set priorities for ASTA based on those issues, and advise about the best way to respond and position ASTA on developments in the hotel space. The committee will also share knowledge and stay on top of industry issues.

Mark Meader, ASTA’s vice president of industry affairs, said the committee will take a “deep dive into several of the top issues that may be defined by this committee.”

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Business travelers favouring home stay accommodation, says Homestay

February 04, 2016

In the past 12 months all of Homestay’s top 10 business travel destinations have seen a rise in bookings, it claims. Business travel is the third most popular reason for travel, after taking a holiday and education.

For male and female business travellers the location of the accommodation is the most important factor in choosing a homestay, closely followed by friendly communication with the homestay hosts, with value for money the third factor in determining choice of homestay.

Alan Clarke, CEO at, said: “The combination of comfort, value for money and the friendliness of staying with a host as compared to staying in a hotel, where you might not talk to anyone, are all contributing factors in choosing a homestay for a business trip. For solo travellers, there is also the added benefit of staying with a family and a host who can give local tips and advice.”

Get the full story at Travel Daily UK

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ITB Berlin: Travel 4.0 - the digital revolution

February 04, 2016

The digital transition has taken giant strides forward in the travel industry. Nowadays, a robot welcoming guests to a hotel with glasses of champagne is no longer pure fantasy. From 9 to 12 March 2016, under the heading of 'Travel 4.0 – the digitalization of the travel industry', the convention will examine a number of topics, including virtual reality, the digital transition and the use of humanoid robots in the tourism industry.

Information on all the sessions on digitalization can be viewed at a glance at For trade visitors at the world's largest travel trade show admission to the international travel industry's leading think tank is free. Anyone unable to attend can follow the sessions of the ITB Future Day, ITB Hospitality Day and the ITB Marketing and Distribution Day via a live stream.

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

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What’s the future of WhatsApp?

February 04, 2016

With Facebook’s investment in messaging seemingly paying off, other social platforms are emphasizing their messaging capabilities in an attempt to remain relevant. Twitter removed its Direct Message character limit in 2015, and Instagram also updated its messaging functionality to allow image sharing.

Yet unlike those platforms, which let brands pay for advertising, WhatsApp remains primarily a communication platform for individuals. The company aims to monetize its offering without resorting to third-party ads – limiting its profitability in comparison with Gmail, which also joined the billion users club this week.

To that end, WhatsApp could evolve into a space for businesses to interact with customers – similar to what WeChat already offers in China. Brands already experimenting with this functionality include Dutch airline KLM, which uses WhatsApp to let frequent flyers inquire about upgrades and seat selection.

Get the full story at L2

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What hoteliers can do to leverage mobile hotel booking trends

February 04, 2016

While understanding key hotel booking trends is important, it’s just as important to know how to leverage these trends into day-to-day hotel revenue management. One example comes from Expedia, which recently invested in Alice, a guest experience platform that promise to improve the hotel booking experience.

The goals of Expedia and sites such as Clé Privée are to streamline the booking process and optimize internal hotel operations to boost guest satisfaction. This focus on guest experience comes at a time of disruption in the industry, with sharing economy stalwarts such as Airbnb challenging hotels to provide service-based differentiation.

A good lesson to learn is to offer more mobile-friendly hotel booking options, such as richer room information with high resolution photos and interactive 3-D animations. Emerging technologies are also useful for guest communications, with innovative new workflows including booking rooms via text message and online concierge services.

Get the full story at Sabre Hospitality

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5 easy steps to get more review content on Google

February 04, 2016

Additionally, Google now displays TrustYou’s Meta-Review in its hotel search results, which contains summarized and verified review content.

To promote hotels’ familiarity with this innovation, TrustYou is exclusively offering a 90 day free trial to a limited number of hotels to show the immediate benefits. Hotels only have to follow these 5 simple steps for enhanced content on Google and more reviews:

1. Sign up
2. Log in
3. Customize surveys
4. We’ll handle the mailing
5. Get more reviews and influence scores on Google

Get the full story at TrustYou

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February 03, 2016

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New insights on today’s Asian travelers

February 03, 2016

As many as 1 billion people from the region could be traveling 15 years from now, creating what the BBC calls “continental shifts … in terms of travel, tourism and spending power.”

So how can you connect with this fast-growing market? The new TripBarometer study provides some insights. Conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor by independent research firm Ipsos, TripBarometer is the world’s largest traveler and accommodation survey.1 More than 5,000 travelers and hoteliers across Asia took part; here’s what they said about their 2016 plans.

Travel spending

- One-third of Asian travelers say they plan to spend more on travel in 2016 than they did in 2015—52% because they feel that they and their families deserve it.

- Japanese travelers plan to spend the most of the Asian countries surveyed, with an average travel budget of US $5,600 for the year, followed by China (US$3,600) and India (US$3,100).

Destination choices

- 42% of Asian travelers surveyed choose to visit a country because of its culture and people.

- One in four (25%) has chosen to visit a destination because of a cheap flight.

- More than a quarter (27%) have visited a destination because it was recommended by a friend or relative.

- One in four (25%) visited a destination because of seeing it on television, while 15% said they had been motivated to visit a place by a film they had seen.

Types of activities

- The majority of Asian travelers (76%) plan to try something new in 2016—well above the global average of 69%.

- Popular new activities include solo travel (25%), going on a cruise (21%) and adventure travel (20%).

Essential amenities

- 67% of Asian travelers surveyed said air conditioning is an essential when choosing a place to stay.

- Travelers’ preferences vary when it comes to WiFi, but it’s especially important to Chinese travelers, 60% of whom said they would look elsewhere if in-room WiFi was not offered. 39% of Chinese travelers surveyed said they would not book an accommodation without super-fast WiFi.

- 36% of Asian travelers say they would look elsewhere if an accommodation does not provide a rate-inclusive breakfast or offer a kettle in the room.

PLUS: A look at the hospitality industry in Asia in 2016

- 39% of hoteliers in the region plan to raise their room rates in 2016 (compared with 47% globally).

- Nearly two in three (64%) Asian accommodation owners are optimistic about profitability in 2016.

- 94% of accommodation owners said online reviews are the most important factor for the future of their business.

- 61% of Asian hospitality businesses say that they are planning to invest in staff training in 2016, higher than the Americas (55%) and Europe (38%).

Download the latest version of TripBarometer at TripAdvisor (PDF 3.4 MB)

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February 03, 2016

As more consumers lean toward the trend of booking trips and accommodations on their smartphones, is gearing up to accommodate its influx of mobile traffic by revamping the user experience to include additional personalized - and speedy - features. The brand is also pre-launching its newest national campaign by rolling out custom video content on Facebook’s mobile targeting platform.

“Facebook brings tremendous scale in mobile,” said Flavie Lemarchand-Wood, vice president of global communications at, Norwalk, CT. “There are so many reasons why people need to book travel and we developed a Facebook campaign that would leverage these reasons in real-time, from flying to a cousin's wedding or a job interview, to visiting colleges with a son or daughter.”

Get the full story at The Mobile Marketer

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Report: iOS users in the U.K. travel 40% more than Android users

February 03, 2016

Gobili measured the number of users searching for travel tickets, and determined iOS users travel 40 percent more than Android users. For domestic travel, Gopili found London, Manchester and Birmingham are the top three destinations for both iOS and Android users, while iOS users are more likely to visit Brighton and Liverpool, and Android users are more likely to visit Blackpool and Edinburgh in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Elsewhere, Gopili’s data showed iOS users are more interested in European travel destinations, as iOS users conducted 17 percent more searches related to cities outside of the U.K. than Android users.

Gopili found train travel is the preferred mode of transportation for both iOS and Android users, with 55 percent and 49 percent of users favoring train travel, respectively. In addition, Gopili said Android users are more likely to be price-conscious when it comes to travel, as more Android users than iOS users will consider using a bus or ride sharing to travel.

Get the full story at Adweek

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New study sees Airbnb success have an impact on hotel ADR

February 03, 2016

More than 55% of that $2.4 billion was spent in five U.S. cities: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and Boston.

Using data from hundreds of U.S. markets, CBRE Hotels, an advisory group that provides research and consulting services to the hotel industry, has developed an Airbnb Competition Index. That measurement compares Airbnb’s average daily room rate to that of hotels, the scale of active Airbnb inventory vs. the supply of traditional hotels, and the overall growth of Airbnb supply.

New York was identified as the number one domestic market at risk for hotels, with an Airbnb Competition Index of 81.4 out of 100. That was followed by San Francisco, Miami, Oakland, and Oahu.

R. Mark Woodworth, senior managing director of CBRE hotels, says the continued success of Airbnb could keep average daily hotel rates from rising as fast as they have.

Get the full story at USA Today and CBRE Hotels

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Uber revealed a new logo, confusing everyone

February 03, 2016

If you update your Uber app today, you might notice something is a little different: gone is the "U" logo, replaced with a... circle thing. Uber describes the square at the center of the new logo as the "bit," something that will appear throughout the design of the company's site and redesigned app. Uber wants to focus on that bit, which it says will make it easier to add additional products to its portfolio over time — you'll always see that bit at the center, the theory goes, and you'll identify it as an Uber product. Uber has been aggressively expanding into adjacent services like food delivery lately, so that explanation makes some sense.

Get the full story at The Verge and Digiday

Read also "Uber launching food delivery service in the U.S."

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Loyalty is an emotion, not a transaction

February 03, 2016

Loyalty programs are everywhere. According to a study by COLLOQUY, the average household in the US has over 21 loyalty program memberships. But the average household actively uses only 44% of these. COLLOQUY also pointed out in its 2015 report that 58% of customers don’t even bother to participate and are less engaged members.

Without a great experience, loyalty programs are less valuable to customers and abandoned early on even if they promise discounts. eMarketer’s Yory Wurmser spoke with Mark Taylor, senior vice president of digital customer experience at business and technology consulting company Capgemini, about consumers’ frustrations with traditional programs and how marketers can create a compelling loyalty experience.

Get the full story at eMarketer

Read also "Dream big to drive loyalty" at B2C

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5 mistakes by agencies in hotel digital marketing

February 03, 2016

Your digital Agency – the team that manages your display ads, PPC, retargeting and most likely your social media, typically is the same group that designed and managed your hotel website, too. They report to your monthly with great insights on website unique visitors, booking engine clicks, abandon rates, entry/exit pages – all the key information you need to know to improve conversion on your website based on Google Analytics.

What you don’t see is web traffic beyond your website. That is where the opportunity lies.

– Who is search and booking your competitors online?
– Where are those consumers from?
– What demographics are those potential guests?

nSight can show you who is searching and booking your hotel and its competitors across third-party websites worldwide. You’ll see what markets your competitors are doing well in and where you are beating them. Best of all, you’ll understand more about consumers then you every have before.

Get the full story at nSight

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Ten things you should know about travel in Q1 2016

February 03, 2016

We know you’ve all been waiting for our Q4 2015 Global Travel Insights report with bated breath, so today we’re happy to present to you our newest, largest, shiniest quarterly report ever!

We’ve analyzed over a billion traveler intent data points for searched and booked behavior that occurred between October 1st and December 31st of 2015 to help you better understand how online consumer travel patterns are changing. Although the last quarter of 2015 marked the end of a year of turbulence in the world of travel, the data demonstrates a sense of resilience.

To help you digest the report more easily, we’ve selected the top ten bite-sized highlights.

Get the full story at Sojern

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February 02, 2016

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Expedia won 2015. won’t sit back in 2016.

February 02, 2016

Priceline didn’t make any mega acquisitions in 2015 and declined to pull the trigger on acquiring HomeAway, as Expedia did for $3.9 billion. One can wonder, with some exaggeration, what’s left to buy? Priceline’s deal-maker Glenn Fogel is undoubtedly at this moment immersed in pitch decks and interviews trying to figure that out.

Wall Street was bullish about rival Expedia’s prospects in 2015 as its stock rose 44.9 percent compared with a 14.29 percent jump at TripAdvisor and an 11.63 percent boost at the much-larger Priceline. That compared with the S&P 500 being flat for the year.

In November, tired of all the Airbnb talk and seeking to reorient the storyline, Priceline’s revealed that it offers 21 million bookable rooms. The theme was that’s growth, and especially its girth, compare favorably with Airbnb’s on the lodging front overall. And can show some digital one-up-manship too because all of its 21 million rooms are instantly confirmable.

Get the full story at Skift

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Why mobile travel chat will revolutionize online travel bookings

February 02, 2016

Harnessing the power of machine learning and natural language recognition MTC offers a more personal and free flowing experience than OTAs because of the way users interact with it.

As the world has moved its internet usage to mobile, personalization has become a key selling point. For years marketing professionals have stressed the importance of personalization within the mobile experience. Even mega-OTAs such as have acknowledged personalization’s importance, and the company’s CEO, Darren Huston, told the Wall Street Journal last year that younger travelers don’t want to be bombarded with choices, but rather prefer hotel searches closely tailored to their profiles.

New MTCs – such as HYPER, Lola, ETA, HelloGbye, 30secondstofly, GoHeroGo, Pana and Scout Travel use mobile and desktop apps that work with SMS and other messaging services, offering users a direct line of communication with a travel agent, automated or not. The machine learning that these new MTC startups use personalizes the experience by learning user preferences and remembering them to make suggestions for the next booking.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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How OTAs go about contracting hotels in China

February 02, 2016

Ever since Qunar moved into the arena of hotel direct business, in addition to its meta-search model, it exerted pressure on other players, including Ctrip and eLong, to match the aggressive foray. In fact, the industry also witnessed the exit of Expedia Inc. from eLong last year.

If we look at what the hotel coverage of domestic OTAs looks like, the number of hotels directly signed on to Qunar’s hotel network reached 323,000 by the end of Q3. Ctrip’s domestic hotel coverage reached 350,000 hotels at the end of July-September quarter, growing twice over when compared with Q3 of 2014.

The volume of bookings that Ctrip, Qunar etc. intend to contribute needs to be noticed, too. As per information available with, Qunar’s average direct volume was around 50 room nights per hotel for Q2 last year, rising from 29 room nights per hotel in Q1. And the goal is to deliver on average over 200 room nights to a hotel in a single quarter, akin to volume contribution that an established OTA would manage in a mature market.

Get the full story at China Travelnews

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How independent hoteliers grab direct bookings

February 02, 2016

One way to boost direct business is by providing an incentive to returning guests. For example, at the Castle Hotel & Spa in Tarrytown, New York, repeat guests who previously booked through an OTA will receive 15% off their next stay if they book direct, said Joseph Howley, rooms division manager and spa operations manager of the 31-room hotel.

At the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, 95% of total bookings are direct bookings, according to Thea Wall, director of revenue management and business development. Of those direct bookings, 25% comes from group business, she added.

“We focus heavily on our repeat guests,” Wall said, adding that there are two ways guests can get discounts for their loyalty: participating in the hotel’s contests on social media or by being a part of Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ iPrefer program, a points-based loyalty reward program for independent hotels within Preferred’s system.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Upgrades most popular perk for business travelers

February 02, 2016

More than 180 travel buyers took part in the seventh Business Travel Show annual survey in November 2015. 72 per cent of respondents worked in the UK and the remaining 28 per cent in continental Europe.

Upgrades ranked as the most popular perk among clients, accounting for 44% of survey respondents, up from 38% in 2015, followed by ‘bleisure’ opportunities, accounting for 16%, up from 6% in 2015.

Free Wi-Fi ranked as the most valued extras, accounting for 46%, up 2% from 2015.

Get the full story at Travel Daily UK

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The end of Twitter

February 02, 2016

If Twitter’s real-time feed is its most powerful asset (and it is), it’s not difficult to see a future in which Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or even a newcomer like Peach (yes, I am citing Peach) focus enough on real-time news that they obviate the need for Twitter’s narrow, noisy, and oft-changing ideas about social interaction.

Considering the fact that Kevin Weil, the head of product, left the company to join Instagram, it’s easy to imagine that service mutating or bifurcating into a speedier, more social platform for sharing links and having conversations. And, for many users - particularly young users, according to a recent survey - Snapchat is already their most important destination.

We live in the Age of the Upgrade, and the generation raised on the Internet is the most fickle of brand champions: it loves something passionately, until it doesn’t. Then it moves on.

Get the full story at The New Yorker

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TDS Asia is back with a new name and a new home

February 02, 2016

As, a result the venue of the conference has been upgraded to accommodate our growth, a bigger exhibition and better networking. EyeforTravel Asia Summit (including TDS Asia) will take place at their new home, the Marina Bay Sands Conference Centre in Singapore on the 15-16 of June.

Whilst keeping an acute focus on how distribution channels are still revolutionising the travel space, this year’s conference will deep dive into revenue management, new technology solutions, social media and marketing models that are powering travel brands to better engage their users.

The hospitality Industry in Asia Pacific reached a record $12.8 billion value of transactions in 2013. In the first eight months of 2014, the Asia Pacific region welcomed 5% more international tourists (overnight visitors) over the same period in 2013, with more than 1.1 billion tourists expected by year-end, according to Cushman&Wakefield’s Report.

To shed light on the growth of the Asian market and how mobile is driving consumer engagement and numbers for travel brands, Tim Gunstone, Managing Director for EyeforTravel said "For travel brands in 2016, the channels for distribution and marketing are becoming more diverse." Tim goes on to say “It’s important for travel brands to recognise their target audience and what tools they can use from data capture, CRM systems, social media and revenue management software to better manage costs and capitalise on the power of personalisation to really build on the traveller experience."

To address these topics EyeforTravel Asia 2016 (June 15-16, Singapore, Marina Bay Sands) is here to provide insights. Key topics include consumer behaviour across Asia, Deep dive on China, Localisation and Talent management in the region, Revenue management, and the secrets to good Content Marketing, Social Media strategies, Analytics and a lot more.

These sessions will be led by travels foremost thought leaders: IHG, Four Seasons,, Hotel Quickly, Kempinski and more.

EyeforTravel Asia Summit (15-16 June) is an intimate networking and discussion event that unites 400+ leading players from travel market from the hotels, airlines, online marketing and PR teams, data integrators, software developers, social media experts, tech innovators and government to examine the steps needed to develop and deploy a strong business model to create market traction and engage the connected traveller with their host of services.

Register this year to save $400 with our launch discount which expires 6th February via the secure link:

Related Link: EyeforTravel Asia Summit

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Global Travel Wholesaler connects with DHISCO to expand hotel offerings

February 02, 2016

"Our ability to distribute rates to a huge audience of highly engaged agents, combined with DHISCO's seamless technology, will be a winning combination," said Nic Stavropoulos, Excite Holidays founder and managing director.

DHISCO CEO Toni Portmann said a key focus of DHISCO is to provide support for companies like Excite Holidays, which are developing the next generation of hotel booking technologies.

"Excite Holidays is using our technology to give travel agents a fast, convenient way to book hotel rooms directly for their clients," she said. "This is a perfect example of DHISCO's mission to connect travel buyers and providers throughout the world.

"As the single largest processor of electronic hotel transactions, DHISCO has built its reputation on providing comprehensive, affordable solutions to booking hotel reservations. Excite Holidays, with its portfolio of properties in 150 countries, makes it a great fit for DHISCO's distribution systems."

Related Link: DHISCO

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Travel agents’ share of bookings held steady in 2015

February 01, 2016

The report shows money spent on bookings in the U.S. grew 5% for the fourth straight year in 2015, totaling $341 billion. The total is expected to grow at a strong pace (6%) for the next two years, with bookings reaching $381 billion in 2017.

Of the total sum, 28% came from traditional agencies and travel management companies (TMCs), a percentage that has flattened out after declining for several years, according to the report.

Agencies and TMCs are expected to maintain that 28% share through 2017 (the remainder of bookings was made through supplier websites, OTAs and central reservations systems/walk-ins).

“It’s largely a matter of maturity of the online market,” said Phocuswright senior research analyst Maggie Rauch, one of the report’s authors. “It’s been many years now that travel has been shifting and travel buying has been shifting to online, and we just see that shift slowing.”

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Big hotels’ plan to win customers from Airbnb

February 01, 2016

Among its efforts:

- The hotel industry has funded research that suggests some Airbnb operators are running “illegal” hotels.

- Large hotel chains are launching new chains aimed squarely at Airbnb’s core market: Millennials who are looking for a lodging experience suited to their tastes and budget.

- Hotels and trader organizations have lobbied for laws that would slow or stop the growth of Airbnb by restricting homes and apartments that can be listed on the service.

The hotel industry says these actions are not part of a concerted effort to kill Airbnb. Rather, they are part of an industry-wide initiative to maintain a level and regulated playing field.”The hotel industry embraces competition,” says Vanessa Sinders, the senior vice president of government affairs for the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA). “It creates a better guest experience, generates jobs and spurs innovation.”

Get the full story at Fortune

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HotelTonight checks in new booking features alongside enhanced in-app chat

February 01, 2016

The third-party booking service is attempting to steer off fierce competition in the travel and hospitality sector by rolling out a series of new app updates centered on making the customer experience even more streamlined. Consumers are now able to book hotels on behalf of family, friends and coworkers, thanks to a new guest profile tool.

“It was one of our most requested features,” said Graciela Kincaid, product manager at HotelTonight. “For example, a couple would want to book a room where the other partner would need to be on the reservation for check-in.

“Another example is an admin needing to book hotels for a group of people in their office.”

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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The 10 top U.S. luxury hotels, and the 20 most anticipated openings in 2016

February 01, 2016

U.S. News' lists look only at luxury hotels and are compiled based on a range of expert reviews as well as guest reviews provided by travel site TripAdvisor and a hotel's class or star rating.

"To rank very highly, a hotel will have a very high rating among travelers, it will have collected several top industry awards, and it will be a higher-starred hotel," Erin Shields, travel editor for U.S. News & World Report, said.

From an imposing entry in Lower Manhattan to an eye-catching gem in Macau, Forbes looks at 20 properties that have somehow managed to stand out of the press releases regarding new hotel projects it receives.

Get the full story at CNN and Forbes

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New York tops UK outbound destination list for second year

February 01, 2016

The latest data from the Hotel Price Index (a regular report based on actual prices paid in 2015 compared with 2014) indicates that the majority of Brits still favour journeying to the Big Apple over other popular holiday destinations.

While New York secured top spot, the Hotel Price Index data revealed that Las Vegas is no longer one of the top five most visited cities for UK travellers, having dropped to number nine. It was replaced by Rome. Barcelona, Dubai and Berlin all moved up one slot. Paris, Amsterdam and Dublin have all proven as popular as ever, by remaining in second, third and fourth place respectively.

Lizann Peppard of said: “It has been a jet-setting year for British travellers in 2015, with destinations in Europe, the USA, Asia and the Middle East all in the Top 20. New York was favourite once again, but a number of European destinations proved popular with European capitals continuing to attract travellers. It’s going to be exciting to see what adventures 2016 brings for UK holidaymakers.”

Get the full story at Travel Daily UK

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Marketing in the fast lane with self-driving cars

February 01, 2016

When you consider how much time the average person spends in their vehicle every day - about two hours according to most studies - this type of marketing could become a new cornerstone. This new avenue could be a great new way for brands to connect with their target audience, by creating personalized, value-added services.

Of course, when it comes to this marketing avenue, it’s not about spamming a captive audience with ads for products or services. Instead, it’s about enhancing their in-vehicle experience. If the traveler is on their way to an amusement park, the vehicle could send them information ahead of time about any special events or things to see.

While this seems like a distant future, it’s important to always be marketing toward the future. Things we already know about mobile marketing will work when implemented in a vehicle, as well.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

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Landing pages: Hot tips for your hotel

February 01, 2016

Most hotels know all about the importance of having an online presence. However, not many organisations make full use of the wide variety of opportunities digital marketing has to offer, particularly when it comes to increasing conversions.

Landing pages are a hugely effective tool to truly get the most out of your hotel website. They are built with a single focus objective— to increase conversions, get more customers, or simply to build greater guest engagement.

In this post, hotel marketing agency NetAffinity is telling you all about landing pages: what they are, why they’re so great for hotels, and how to build your own. They're even throwing in some brilliant examples of successful landing pages, along with a real-life case study showing the importance of testing and knowing your audience.

Get the full story at NetAffinity

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TrustYou opens new office in South Africa

February 01, 2016

TrustYou’s online reputation management products and review data are used worldwide in the travel and hospitality industry. The newest addition to TrustYou’s product portfolio is TrustYou Stars, an advanced guest satisfaction survey tool that allows hotels to gain more reviews and enhance their content on Google.

TrustYou’s CEO and co-founder, Benjamin Jost says “Africa is an important market for us. In order to have the best possible foundation to further market our products and data on the African Continent, we decided to partner with the local experts of PLP Tourism. We aim to reinforce our leadership position in online reputation management in Africa with this new partnership.”

“Being appointed as an official partner for TrustYou products makes our work much more meaningful towards enhancing the quality and service excellence of accommodations and destinations for domestic and international tourism. This also helps to position us favorably in the South African market, as PLP Tourism is majority owned by professional Black women’,” said Ms Kunene.

Related Link: TrustYou

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Hotels start 2016 strong, led by increase in new group business

January 29, 2016

However, as business demand pace has slowed, there is an increased dependency on leisure and wholesale bookings with lower average daily rates (ADR) to drive occupancy, according to new data from TravelClick’s January 2016 North American Hospitality Review (NAHR).

“While total committed occupancy for 2016 is off to a strong start, led with a significant increase in new group bookings added within the past 30 days, business demand pace has slowed, creating greater dependency on hoteliers to offset the slowing pace with discounted leisure and promotional bookings,” said John Hach, TravelClick’s senior industry analyst. “As a result, hoteliers must ensure that they are measuring and monitoring local advance booking trends across all channels to reach their 2016 revenue per available room (RevPAR) objectives.”

Get the full story at TravelClick

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Europe business travel grew faster than expected in 2015, says Amex

January 29, 2016

According to the report, which was announced at the 25th annual EVP, held in Paris, business travel spending in Europe increased by 1.42 percent in 2015, more than twice the rise anticipated in the 2014 Barometer (0.7%).

In addition, "safety and security" has overtaken "cost control" to be the number one priority of company executives when considering business travel. "Traveler satisfaction" is ranked the number three priority. When it comes to cost control and optimizing costs, this year efforts appear to be more focused on improving processes than on the direct costs themselves, American Express said. Process improvements include: online and expense management tools, and more consideration to the nature and purpose of travel before booking trips.

Get the full story at Travel Agent Central and American Express Global Business Travel

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IACC reveals the top “Meeting Package Trends for 2016”

January 29, 2016

The concept of meeting packaging is one where the required components provided by a venue are included in a per person package. The concept carries different names in different parts of the world (such as Complete Meeting Package, Day Meeting Package, Day Delegate Rate, 24-Hour Rate etc.), but the concept is the same throughout IACC's membership in 22 countries. An IACC-certified meeting venue must offer a package which includes food and beverage, meeting room hire and basic AV). See IACC's Guide to Quality Standards for more information on what it takes to be an IACC-certified venue.

Mark Cooper, IACC’s CEO, commented, “Meeting Planners not only prefer easy-to-manage delegate packages for their meetings, they also expect delegate packages to be creative and fit their specific meeting objectives. Venues that specialize in meetings also understand that planners need to be able to buy in transparent and easy-to-budget ways.” Cooper continued with, “We are seeing some very innovative meeting packages available at IACC member venues in 22 countries across the globe.”

- Trend: 95% of venues have offered non-traditional meeting packages for over 5 years. IACC member venues surveyed stated that they have been offering flexible and highly creative delegate meeting packages for over 5 years. As a result, they have developed packages over time, which meet the specific needs and requirements of planners and delegates. They are now experts in customizing packages.

- Trend: Innovative packages developed by venues and clients. Two-thirds of delegate packages were crafted and developed by the leadership at IACC-member venues, using their specialized knowledge in selling meeting space in this inclusive and consultative way. At the same time, a third of those surveyed reported that their planner clients had a direct hand in developing a package that was bespoke to them and their needs. Being able to influence the way a venue packages services and products is a true demonstration of collaboration between venue and client.

- Trend: 55% reported that meeting planners wanted to tailor a package specifically to meet their needs. Offering inclusive delegate packages provides certain differentiation, but being able to tailor a package to the individual client is a further step. With 55% reporting their clients prefer flexible packaging, this is not a rare approach any more. Of the packages offered which include guest room accommodations and meals, 56% of responders cited that these packages were becoming more customized.

- Trend: 65% reported that planners are starting to request new inclusions. A significant number of members surveyed reported that clients are starting to ask for packages beyond the normal meeting room, F&B and tech inclusions. The top additional items requested were teambuilding, local cultural trips, coaching and facilitation. Although many IACC venues offer free delegate WiFi, the inclusion of high bandwidth WiFi to support the use of collaborative technologies was highlighted as a growing trend. The survey also indicated that the inclusion of collaborative technologies such as audience participation and meeting apps, had potential for future packaged pricing.

- Trend: The top components included in customized packages. Food & beverage enhancements lead the list of inclusions, with 76% of those surveyed reporting they tailor packages with non-standard F&B items. Indoor teambuilding and meeting room configurations were second at 70% and outdoor teambuilding was forth. Also included in the list of components used to customize delegate packages were AV, WiFi and culinary teambuilding activities.

- Trend: Delegate packages make good business sense for 3rd parties as well. Thirty-five percent of the venues surveyed reported that third party booking agents could consider all components of the delegate package as part of their commercial terms with the venue.

- Trend: Flexible meeting packages are here to stay. Although flexible meeting packages -- where the client can build a package that fits their needs exactly -- have only become widespread amongst IACC venues since the economic downturn, all surveyed believe that this is a concept that is here for the long term and demonstrates that they are true partners to their clients and understand their needs.

Related Link: International Association of Conference Centres (IACC)

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How TripAdvisor airline reviews will change airline marketing forever

January 29, 2016

Just like hotels are reviewed on TripAdvisor, the site has introduced guidelines for reviewing airlines. Those who have flown on a a particular airline can leave reviews on everything from how the seats were to the flight attendants’ service delivery. Given how well the Tripadvisor brand is trusted, airline reviews on the site have the potential to change how airlines market to customers.

TripAdvisor airline reviews are about trust. And nothing builds brand trust like a peer review from another passenger.

Many airlines on TripAdvisor already have over a thousand reviews. Like hotels, airlines should be replying to selected reviews, and certainly monitoring them regularly. Reviews are a good indication of overall service levels.

Get the full story at Simpliflying and Tnooz

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Expedia integrates 3D Touch capabilities into its app

January 29, 2016

Expedia’s decision to integrate 3D Touch capabilities into its app speaks to its desire to provide a streamlined browsing experience to precede mobile bookings. As third-party booking services vie for the most screen time on consumers’ smartphones, adopting the newest commerce-friendly technologies will give brands a leg up on their competitors.

“We invested in 3D Touch to streamline the process for some very common and critical customer needs: view trips, get directions to your hotel, share your flight status, and book a hotel tonight,” said Jerald Singh, senior director of mobile product at Expedia. “We are actively trying to enhance the experience for our customers and test unique technologies as they come to market.”

Expedia is one of the early-adopter brands leveraging 3D Touch, which is slowly transforming into a must-have app feature for any marketer wanting to ramp up customer engagement and sales.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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How to optimize your content for Google’s rich answer box

January 29, 2016

You may have noticed that when searching for a term or asking a question on Google, you receive not only a list of search results, but also an informational box at the top of the page that displays a quick answer to your question or a description of your search term. This featured snippet is part of Google’s Rich Answer Box, which has been around a while, but is now becoming more prominent for quick answers, event listings, recipes, maps, and more.

The demand for fast, relevant content has rocketed due to an increase in mobile usage – a study by Microsoft found that the human attention span has decreased from 12 second to eight seconds in the last 13 years. In order to give users a quick and accurate answer to their search query, Google now provides a short snippet of relevant content that a user can quickly read without having to scroll through a lengthy article.

Get the full story at Search Engine Land

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nSight invests to support expanding European customer base

January 29, 2016

nSight, the leader in online consumer shopping intelligence for hotels and destinations, continues its advancement as a global big data leader and today announced an investment in technology and customer support that improves marketing and revenue strategy decision making for European hotels and destinations. The investment supports nSight’s growing European client base of independent hotels, chains, and management companies in Europe, as well as partnerships rolling out in the first and second quarters of 2016.

After North America, Western Europe is the largest online travel booking market. In 2015, digital travel sales for the region were estimated at $151.73 billion, up 8.0% from the previous year.

nSight now aggregates over 90 million online hotel “looks and books” daily across third-party websites.

Get the full story at nSight

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Calling all travel start-ups and innovators

January 29, 2016

There may only be room for 2 really big OTAs but high growth companies such as Airbnb, Uber or Skyscanner are all the proof you need that travel start-ups and innovators can disrupt and thrive in the travel sector.

Since 1997 EyeforTravel has identified these companies and with mobile, data, and social media driving transformation and how we purchase travel at a frenetic rate, this year’s awards are set to reveal a future success.

But for every success, hundreds (if not thousands) fail. What are the secrets to success? What can we learn from those who have boldly gone before them? What do investors and the industry really see value in?

EyeforTravel’s Start up and Innovation Awards will kick off with a ‘bootcamp’ style session. Audience members will have the opportunity to quiz 10 of Europe’s top travel entrepreneurs including Clive Jacobs the founder of Holiday Autos, Dick Porter the founder of STA and Jason Katz from Kings Capital, the man that reunited the 2 Hilton Hotel groups. The 10 entrepreneurs/investors (all with proven investment credentials) are on hand to share the mistakes, successes and share vital tips to success.

The open discussion format will allow entrepreneurs, experts and investors to share where they feel start-ups go wrong in their approach to seeking investment or industry buy in.

“EyeforTravel’s Start-up & Innovation Awards are an affordable way for travel start-ups and innovators to talk about what they are doing to a highly influential audience and get a foothold in the cut-throat online travel industry,” says Tim Gunstone, MD, EyeforTravel.

The Morning interactive sessions will be followed by EyeforTravel’s Start-up and Innovation Awards competition. Adhering to stringent judging criteria, a selection of start-ups and innovators will battle for a chance to pitch their innovation in front of the 400 strong Travel Distribution Summit.

This unparalleled marketing and promotional opportunity will catapult 2 companies not just into the hands of the press but into the hands of execs responsible for the pricing, marketing, sale and distribution of millions of Euros of hotel rooms, flights, rental cars, holidays, Tours and Activities.

The Summit is packed with networking and strategy setting opportunities and entries to the awards gives all the participants access to money making insight and profitable partnerships.

EyeforTravel’s Start-up Awards are open to all travel start-ups or existing companies that have launched a new industry shaking product or service. All entries must be received by April 10, 2016. Find out more -

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How OTAs reorder hotel searches

January 28, 2016

The Wall Street Journal takes a closer look on how OTAs are reordering hotel searches.

For the Priceline Group and the biggest factor in search results is a hotel’s conversion rate. Hotels with strong reviews, good content, and images that include bathrooms and televisions - both of which apparently get checked frequently by travelers - end up with higher conversion rates, and higher rankings in search results.

Expedia uses three main signals in personalizing hotel search results: Consumer behavior, like what consumers click and buy, search intent, like searching for rooms that accommodate families, and customer reviews collected by email after checkout.

And of course there is the price, which has a lot to do with OTA visibility. If the price represents good value for a particular hotel, it will generate a higher conversion, and as a result gets ranked higher within the search results.

Although not stated publicly, the same applies for higher commissions. If a hotel participates in higher commissioned programs, it will gain more visibility and end up higher in search results.

The problem: If you’re not performing, OTAs have the means to punish hotels to the lower pages of search results - or as The WSJ calls it - no man’s land for bookings. That paper cites Expedia’s CEO saying “To the extent we see the experience being poor or a significant amount of walks, we will penalize the hotel in sort order.”

All this sorting in the name of customer preferences will get even more sophisticated according to The WSJ, as personalization based on OTAs massive database with reviews and preferences kicks in, and mobile hotel bookings increase in popularity, where small screens make sort order even more critical.

What are hotels to do? Several major hotel chains declined to comment, when The WSJ approached them. A far too sensitive topic to publicly talk about. Only AH&LA responded with a warning, that consumers should be skeptical of OTAs that don’t disclose the criteria used for rankings.

Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal and WSJ Video.

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Hotel SEO and Google’s new Trip Planning search results

January 28, 2016

Google has found yet another way to harness its wealth of information to provide more information to travelers – the Trip Planning search display. This experience, delivered for certain search queries on both the desktop and mobile platforms, gives users a step-by-step guide to planning travel to a particular destination.

This new search display further reinforces the importance of the hotel website maintaining prime search engine visibility for key terms, and provides another avenue for visitors to find the hotel website via search.

Google’s Trip Planning search results appear when users search for terms such as “where to go in Florida,” or “destinations in Arizona.” Instead of just serving a standard organic results set with the sites you might expect – TripAdvisor, editorial guides, and official travel websites – Google displays at the top of the page a curated collection of destinations within the particular region comprised by the user’s search.

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

Read also "Google launches trip planning experience on mobile"

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In 2016, ADR reluctantly takes the driver’s seat, says PwC US

January 28, 2016

Performance of the US lodging sector during the fourth quarter of 2015 was lackluster, with hotels struggling to meaningfully increase average daily rates ("ADR"), even as occupancy levels continued to increase, albeit at a slower pace.

The overarching question related to the lack of ADR growth, despite peak occupancy levels, raises concern in the industry. However, underlying corporate and leisure travel demand trends remain favorable, contributing to still increasing occupancy rates, which are at the highest level since 1981.

The estimates from PwC are based on a quarterly econometric analysis of the lodging sector, using an updated forecast released by Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC in January, and historical statistics supplied by STR and other data providers. Macroeconomic Advisers expects real gross domestic product ("GDP") to increase 2.4 percent in 2016, measured on a fourth-quarter-over-fourth-quarter basis, approximately 10 basis points lower than in PwC's November lodging industry outlook. Macroeconomic Advisers' reduction in GDP growth is primarily driven by less economic momentum and less favorable financial conditions, including a strong US Dollar.

Based on this analysis and recent trends, PwC expects lodging demand to remain strong in 2016, driven by a number of factors including continued strong fundamentals of employment, wages, and wealth as well as improving group demand. The pace of growth in the supply of hotel rooms is expected to increase to 1.9 percent, reaching the long-term average. As a result, PwC's outlook anticipates a marginal increase in occupancy levels to 65.7 percent; the highest since 1981. With occupancy levels at a 35-year high, increased confidence amongst hotel operators and brands is expected to result in more meaningful average daily rate increases, albeit offset by the continued strength of the US Dollar, resulting in RevPAR growth of 5.5 percent.

"Recent turmoil in the financial markets and the lower-than-expected economic growth in the fourth quarter have raised some concerns," said Scott D. Berman, principal and U.S. industry leader, hospitality & leisure, PwC. "However, industry fundamentals are solid heading farther into 2016, including the pace of corporate group travel. We expect peak occupancy levels in select markets should give hotel operators the confidence to meaningfully increase average rates, although the strength of the US Dollar may have an impact, particularly on gateway markets."

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Expedia, the advertising agency

January 28, 2016

Supporting global launches is a long way from where Expedia Media Solutions started as a unit, born eight years ago as a tiny offshoot. The division grew in a meandering way, without the C-suite seemingly giving much conscious thought about it, said Tratt.

The steady growth of Expedia Media Solutions partly reflects secular growth in online travel sales, a sector that continues to grow faster than the overall economy, and steady growth in online advertising, which is also growing faster, on average, than many other sectors.

In the past three years, the parent company has made a significant investment in it, as the opportunity has become clearer and larger. The largest customers of Expedia Media Solutions are generally the parent brand’s largest suppliers, and lots of information is shared across divisions.

Get the full story at Tnooz

Read also "Up-close with Expedia’s fast-growing ad agency" at Tnooz

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IATA concerned over aviation passenger ‘downtrend’

January 28, 2016

Iata has voiced concern at a potential “downtrend” in global passenger carryings.

International carryings rose by 3.2% in November over the same month in 2014, but this represented a slowdown on October.

“Although part of the weakness could be attributed to temporary factors, there are reasons for concern that a downtrend is developing,” the airline trade body said.

“Both economy and premium travel weakened, but there was a notable deceleration in first and business class travel.”

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Is rate parity good or bad for the industry?

January 28, 2016

The move to ban rate parity has prompted renewed debate on the subject. We don’t live in a homogenized society, and certainly our industry is fragmented. There are many different perspectives as to whether rate parity is good or necessary.

Some in the industry feel that a rate-parity clause handcuffs them and they cannot effectively compete against the OTAs. They argue that customers are not alike. For example, they would like to offer better rates for someone wanting a longer length of stay or for someone who books far in advance. They also argue that technology advances and big data have made it far easier to customize and deliver offers that are relevant. The rate-parity clause takes away their autonomy to be relevant in their pricing and their marketing.

Some also have argued that rate parity is totally in favor of the OTAs because it is all about rates. It is to the OTAs’ advantage that our industry becomes commoditized. OTAs have a tremendous advantage in allowing consumers to shop and compare rates. They argue that rate parity removes the differentiation that each hotel or brand can create and the special value they can give to their customers. Without rate parity, we can distinguish ourselves with a wider range of rate plans and product offerings (e.g. value-added experience).

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Oracle launches OPERA Cloud services

January 28, 2016

To help hospitality companies personalize all aspects of their engagement with customers while also delivering an excellent guest experience on site, Oracle today introduced a cloud services version of its industry-leading suite of hospitality solutions. The new Oracle Hospitality cloud services enable hotel and casino operators to better manage every aspect of their customer relationships and on-site operations, while simplifying their IT infrastructure and deriving value faster from new innovations.

"To win in the highly competitive hotel industry, hotels need to deliver personalized guest experiences, increase operational efficiency, and effectively manage distribution," said Ray Carlin, vice president of product strategy, Oracle Hospitality. "Oracle's cloud-based solutions bring significant advantages in all these key areas, while at the same time streamlining on-premise IT management and offering enhanced application and data security built in."

Oracle's hospitality-focused solutions, combined with its broader product and service offering, are used by hundreds of thousands of operators worldwide to provide superior service and experience to their guests anywhere. By delivering its full suite of solutions via the Oracle Cloud, Oracle is making it easier for hospitality companies of all sizes to implement new features and business functionality faster and dramatically simplify the IT infrastructure required to deliver a world-class customer experience at hotel and casino properties around the globe.

Oracle OPERA Cloud services build upon Oracle's commitment to develop cloud-enabled versions of its most powerful applications. The cloud services streamline and improve most aspects of hospitality management including:

- Deliver exceptional guest experiences: With Oracle OPERA Cloud's comprehensive guest profiling capability, hotels can capture the guest preferences they need to personalize and differentiate the guest experience. Personalized experiences will enhance guest loyalty and drive membership growth in loyalty programs.

- Mobile-enable hotel operations: Oracle OPERA Cloud runs on Oracle MICROS tablets and other leading tablets and smart phones to allow hotel personnel greater flexibility to provide guest services anywhere on the property.

- Secure enterprise data: Oracle OPERA Cloud runs Oracle's technology stack from applications to disk, with unprecedented security, high performance and availability.

- Maximize occupancy and revenue: Maximize sales with the Oracle Distribution Cloud, an add-on suite of services that allows hotels to effectively manage room rates and allocation of room inventory to various distribution channels.

- Integrate food and beverage operations: Oracle OPERA Cloud comes with pre-built integration to Oracle Hospitality Simphony, the leading point-of-sale solution for the food and beverage industries.

- Innovate faster: Deliver service innovations, enable easier upgrades and drive business process improvements by simplifying information technology infrastructure.

- Integrate with enterprise applications and property infrastructure: Hotels can leverage an extensive partner network and hundreds of pre-built interfaces to back-office applications (accounts receivable accounts payable), payment gateways, hotel industry applications, and property infrastructure devices to ease integration.

Hotels can further enhance the customer experience with their guest-facing mobile applications that leverage the web services in Oracle OPERA Cloud to provide key guest services across the travel lifecycle.

"Mobility has become a key competitive differentiator in the hotel industry. With the ability to access information instantly via mobile devices, guests now expect a very personalized mobile-enabled hospitality experience," said Carlin. "Oracle OPERA Cloud enables operators to quickly and cost-effectively make that vision a reality."

With the industry's broadest portfolio of public cloud services, Oracle Cloud continues to show strong adoption, supporting 62 million users and 23 billion transactions each day. Oracle Cloud runs on 30,000 devices and 400 petabytes of storage in 19 data centers around the world.

Related Link: Oracle Hospitality

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The European rate conundrum: To be (in parity) or not to be?

January 28, 2016

By Jean Francois Mourier

First, I’d like to start this article by saying “Felicitations!” and “Gratuliere!” to hoteliers in France and Germany. It is an exciting time to be a European hotelier because the laws relating to rate parity are being amended as we speak/write.

In July 2015, the French National Assembly completed the process to ban rate parity clauses in contracts between online travel agencies (OTAs) and hotels. Germany’s courts have decreed that OTAs cannot have a “best price” clause in their contracts with German hotels – and that all OTA contracts must be amended by January 31, 2016.

As many European properties obtain 70% of their business from the OTAs (vs. 35% to 50% in the US) and because most consumers choose a hotel room based primarily on price, the new laws can help French and German hoteliers funnel more business to the direct channels, minimizing their reliance on the OTAs, while increasing occupancy, decreasing the cost of acquisition and increasing overall RevPAR.

While it is still not clear exactly how the European market as a whole will be affected by this ruling over the long-term, we are seeing drastic changes on the horizon that will have HUGE effects on the industry – both in Europe and abroad. and Expedia are implementing changes in their contracts in other European markets, allowing hoteliers to offer lower prices on competing OTAs but NOT through their direct channels. The two OTAs are making this change in an effort to preempt further legislation (similar to France and Germany’s rulings) that would banish rate parity clauses across the board.

While and Expedia’s contract changes will help hoteliers (as it allows them to direct more business to smaller OTAs with lower commission rates by offering lower rates through these channels), it will not create the widespread changes that are necessary to give hoteliers control back over their revenues. Until hotels are allowed to offer the cheapest rate through the direct channel (and/or all restrictions are eliminated completely), European hotels will remain reliant on the OTAs for the majority of their income, and therefore, will be sacrificing a large percentage of revenue to commissions.

As a whole, the European Commission is moving towards making a European-wide decision on the issue, which – if enacted - will have HUGE impact on both European hoteliers and eventually, North American hoteliers (who will follow suit at some point once laws are amended in Europe).

But until rate parity laws are amended worldwide, it is still possible for hoteliers to increase the amount of revenue that they earn through the online channels – without changes in legislation.

By using a sophisticated revenue management system (RMS) that facilitates automated pricing updates made in real-time (as the market changes), hoteliers can guarantee that they will be pricing their rooms at the right price, at the right time, across all of the online channels, which will result in a drastic increase in occupancy and revenue. An automated pricing strategy will also continue to benefit hoteliers long after the law is implemented in every European country, as it will help hoteliers to adapt to any pricing and distribution trends that manifest as a result of the new legislation – no matter which possible outcome is realized.

Jean Francois Mourier is CEO and Founder of REVPAR GURU, a company that provides hotels around the world with an alternative revenue management software system designed to deliver maximum bookings and profits.

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Guest engagement and its impact on top line revenues

January 27, 2016

A savvy hotelier knows that the difference between an engaged guest and a disengaged guest could mean the difference between meeting the bottom line and not. Engaged guests feel loyalty to their hotel based on some sort of emotional connection. There are plenty of easy and cheap ways to create this connection, and doing so might mean a difference of $185 per customer per stay.

According to a recent study by Gallup, guests spent $457 on average per stay at their most frequently visited hotel over the course of 12 months, while engaged guests spent $588 per stay on average. Meanwhile, actively disengaged guests spent $403 per stay on average.

Investing in guest engagement will provide a return in the form of an increase in top line revenues. Luckily, potential areas for investment are easy and affordable and hoteliers can get a jump on them instantly. Namely, social media and email/SMS notifications provide outlets for guest engagement at relatively little cost to the hotel.

Get the full story at Puzzle Partner

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Starwood and TripAdvisor announce new Instant Booking partnership

January 27, 2016

"We are excited about an enhanced relationship with TripAdvisor as it allows us to deepen our touch-points with TripAdvisor's global community of travelers while maintaining a consistent connection with guests before, during, and after their stay at a Starwood hotel," said Julie Atkinson, Senior Vice President of Global Digital for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. "We appreciate the work TripAdvisor has done to expand upon the existing distribution models and the partnership will provide a clear benefit to our global hotel portfolio."

With TripAdvisor instant booking, users simply click on a "Book Now" button to initiate a reservation. Travelers are reminded throughout the booking process that their reservation is powered by Starwood and are provided links and phone numbers to contact the hotel's customer service associates directly; all support inquiries will be handled by Starwood's award-winning customer care team.

"We look forward to expanding our relationship with Starwood, a hospitality leader and a longtime partner," said Robin Ingle, Senior Vice President, Global Sales, TripAdvisor. "Adding Starwood's robust brand offerings and acclaimed properties to our fast-growing instant booking platform provides the TripAdvisor community with even more choice and flexibility when booking travel."

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Online advertising: Tips based on The Leading Hotels of the World’s campaigns

January 27, 2016

Unlike many hotel brands that strive for a consistent look and feel, part of the value proposition of The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), a hospitality consortium with 425 hotels worldwide, is that each hotel is unique. From the fabled King David Hotel in Jerusalem to The Ritz Hotel in London (featured in the film “Notting Hill”), customers have a plethora of experiences to choose from.

With such a diverse offering, online advertising, content and customer journey challenges that face every brand loom especially large for LHW.

“It’s key to understand your target audience. And for us, being a luxury brand, we’re looking for people [with] higher income, higher propensity to travel, people who travel more frequently [and] are looking for unique experiences,” Debbie said.

Watch the interview at MarketingSherpa

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Hilton checks in millennial-friendly hotel brand with mobile-centric features

January 27, 2016

Following a fruitful year in mobile, Hilton is expanding on its current offerings and bringing an even more laser-focused mindset to its newest brand, which is designed to appeal to a wide range of travelers bound together by youthful energy and a millennial outlook. Tru by Hilton guests will be able to leverage their smartphones as the ultimate travel companions, thanks to a slew of digital features such as complimentary Wi-Fi and Digital Key entry.

“Millennials, seemingly more than any other demographic, seek instant gratification,” said Ryan Williams, vice president of travel at Millward Brown Digital, Seattle. “Some hospitality brands are embracing this challenge with mobile features like digital key entry, mobile check-in, in-app room selection, mobile concierge, video streaming, etc.

“And, as these features catch on, other brands will have to implement like offerings to remain in the millennial consideration set.”

Get the full story at the Mobile Marketer

Read also "Hilton announces new affordable hotel brand, Tru" and "Radio Interview with Cornell’s Professor Chekitan S. Dev on Hilton’s New Tru Brand Targeting Millennials" at Hotel-Online

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Three ways technology makes payments easier for hotel guests

January 27, 2016

Understanding what your customers want and how to help make their payments easier is critical. Some of the ways in which technology makes payments easier for hotel guests include:

1. Guests Can Have Multiple Payment Options

Technology has changed the way consumers pay for goods and services, and now hotel guests expect to have a variety of payment options available to them. They have moved beyond paying with cash or charging fees to a card. Tech savvy hotel guests want alternative ways to pay their bill, and hotel owners should be inclined to accept multiple forms of payment. This can make the payment process easier for guests and helps the hotel to receive payments in a timely manner.

Hotels should be capable of accepting various payment options when someone books a room online and when someone pays in person. Most hotels now accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover cards for transactions online and at a stationary point of sale. These are some of the most convenient ways travelers pay for lodging fees, and accepting them can help your business appeal to a large audience. Other consumers, however, want more options.

Get the full story at Hotel-Online

Read also "Payments: The last mile of online customer intimacy"

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How Google Search works in 2016

January 27, 2016

Many years ago SEO Book created an infographic about how search works, from the perspective of a content creator, starting with their content & following it through the indexing & ranking process.

As users have shifted to mobile devices, the limited screen size of the devices have pushed search engines to squeeze out & displace publishers with their own self-hosted information in an effort to offset the poor usability offered by tiny devices, while ensuring the search habit does not decline.

Here is an update on SEO Book's current infographic about how search works.

View the infographic at SEO Book (GIF 757 KB)

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Top 10 booking sites for hotels in 2015

January 27, 2016

“This list captures the distribution channels that led the industry in providing one the most critical measures for a hotel’s success today – its online revenue,” says Mike Ford, co-founder and managing director at SiteMinder.

“Around US$11 billion worth of online revenue has passed through SiteMinder’s technology over the past year. This has been via both the third-party booking sites and Internet booking engines SiteMinder’s Channel Manager integrates with – including SiteMinder’s own product, TheBookingButton, which for the fourth year running features among the list’s top five positions to show the increasing value that direct bookings provide for hoteliers.”

Speaking on the third-party sites featuring in the list, Mr Ford adds, “With the ubiquitous headlines on market consolidation and acquisitions in 2015, it is easy to forget the role each individual brand plays in the decision-making and booking process of today’s traveller. SiteMinder’s list of the top 10 booking sites for hotels highlights these roles in enabling hoteliers to increase their reach and conversions online – and to optimise all of their available inventory at any given time through the world’s leading distribution channels.”

Get the full story at SiteMinder

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HeBS Digital to speak on real-time data and personalization at EyeforTravel’s Smart Travel Analytics

January 27, 2016

Max Starkov, President & CEO of HeBS Digital, will speak during one of the opening keynote sessions titled: “Real-time Data Vs Big Data: Effectively Utilize the Most Valuable Data at Your Disposal to Get Closer to Your Customer and Drive Higher Revenues.” The session will cover topics such as:

- Dynamic personalization: using demographics and past guest behavior to customize website promotions and content in real time

- Maximizing revenue and increase conversions by targeting key customer segments (transient business, leisure travelers, meeting and group planners, etc.) based on their previous buying behavior, geo and demographic data with highly relevant offers

- Exploring how to engage potential guests with one-to-one marketing and pricing, de-commoditize your hotel inventory and sell on value as opposed to sell on price

- Understanding the importance of aligning all functions of your organization to optimally use real-time data and predictive analytics

Get the full story at HeBS Digitial

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Google launches trip planning experience on mobile

January 26, 2016

This information has always been available in Google’s ecosystem, but now it exists in an easy to consume format.

The new experience is further validation of Google’s commitment to improve the travel research experience and to provide a better experience for users higher in the funnel – an area that has long been dominated by other publishers.

Hotel marketing agency Koddi expects to see the service evolving over time, become more personalized, and roll out to other devices.

Get the full story with screenshots at Koddi

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Hilton announces new affordable hotel brand, Tru

January 26, 2016

The company introduced the new brand at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in Los Angeles.

The company already has 102 hotels signed. Another 30 properties are in various stages of approval in cities such as Atlanta, Houston and Chicago.

"I ultimately think this will be our biggest brand over time," says Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta.

Get the full story at USA Today and a first look at USA Today

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Marriott shifts gears for owners of branded properties

January 26, 2016

Building on a rich history in the hospitality industry, Marriott provides unparalleled management expertise and systems to more than 1,000 hotels globally.

“Managed by Marriott works in partnership with owners to help meet their business goals, using the expertise and resources we’ve developed as a world-class hotel management company” says Dave Grissen, Group President, Marriott International. “Our management organization has a new name, but our primary mission remains the same – to continue to maximize financial performance for our owners.”

Managed by Marriott is North America’s largest hotel management organization, operating nearly 700 hotels in the U.S. and Canada. The organization has one specific goal – maximizing the financial performance of their owner’s hotel and does this through three guiding principles: Performance, which captures excellence in sales, distribution and operations; People, who represent the unparalleled depth and breadth of MxM’s talent; and Partnership, which expresses a relationship-focused approach to doing business.

MxM delivers superior performance as a result of their world-class sales organization, disciplined approach to lowering costs, innovative strategies to improve profitability, and competitive fee structure. In turn, 3 out of 4 owners recently said they would consider Marriott to operate their next hotel (2015 owner survey).

“Our long-standing relationship with Managed by Marriott is built on a common goal to maximize the value of our Marriott branded assets. MxM has the talent, depth of resources, and culture that helps unlock value,” says Minaz Abji, EVP Asset Management, Host Hotels and Resorts. “They continue to innovate and focus on driving the best possible NOI for our hotels.”

“We continue to choose Managed by Marriott to operate our hotels because of their focus on delivering premium results,” says Robert Olson, President and CEO, R.D. Olson Development. “They have also shown flexibility in how they approach our hotels to make sure it’s not just a one-sized-fits-all approach, and that works for us.”

Related Link:">Managed by Marriott

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Disruptive technologies pose no threat to Thai hotels

January 26, 2016

The consensus is that Airbnb is only able to capture portions of the budget/low-end segments in Thailand, while OTAs such as Agoda, seem to compliment rather than jeopardize the old hotel business model.

Tim Hughes, vice president of business development, Agoda, said that OTAs are just another booking channel and that the hotel industry can profit from their growth. "It is a very big market. It is not a race between direct and OTA. It is not a winner takes all market. It is an opportunity for everyone,” he said.

Ben Emery, Marriott International’s South-east asia area director of revenue strategy, explained that OTAs provide a service to attract guests, but ultimately, "it is the hotel's business to turn them into loyal customers."

Get the full story at TTG Asia

Read also "Thai hotel occupancy soars in 2015" at Travel Daily Asia

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France’s consumers warm to the sharing economy

January 26, 2016

In France, the sharing economy is gaining momentum, according to a Syntec Numérique report, "Le rendez-vous de l’innovation: L’économie collaborative." Syntec’s research partner Odoxa surveyed 1,001 adults on December 3, 2015.

Syntec found a broad consensus on the sharing economy. Overall, 82% of the sample approved of it. The reaction was quite uniform across age groups, too. Among younger adults, ages 18 to 24, 85% approved, but 82% of seniors ages 65 and older also gave it the thumbs up.

Respondents recognized many positive dimensions to the sharing trend. For example, 83% agreed that sharing enables people to save money on products and services—a crucial point when many consumers are financially squeezed.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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Payments: The last mile of online customer intimacy

January 26, 2016

You now need to bring your payments experience up to this new standard, or risk getting beaten by competitors who do.

Why? Because removing barriers for your customers is a hallmark of customer intimacy, and customer intimacy is one of three value disciplines that every company must master to dominate their market. A customer-intimate company has to get to know its customers at a deeper level with every interaction. It must understand what they want and need, sometimes even before they do. Payments are the last mile of customer intimacy.

Get the full story at the Mobile Marketer

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Travel marketing budgets 2016: 5 must-watch digital trends

January 26, 2016

But with a new year come new choices, channels, and chances for online success. To make the best digital decisions, travel marketers need to know the top trends, tech, and tactics that will matter to marketing in 2016. Rather than track down all of this data, your ticket to the latest travel insights is a fact-packed infographic created by MDG Advertising called Travel Marketing Budgets 2016: 5 Must-Watch Trends. It pinpoints the five key strategies for making the most of your travel marketing budget and business over the next 12 months.

Get the full story at MDG Advertising

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Half of hotel Twitter followers don’t tweet, but are they still listening?

January 26, 2016

In December Ryan Solutions published a simple, but somewhat depressing, stat about the state of hotel and resort Twitter followers. Using each user’s last tweet date the company found that only 44% had tweeted during the last month.

But the question quickly arose, what about those who don’t tweet? How many of them are still listening?

Here’s what we found.

Get the full story at Ryan Solutions

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Instant Booking to rapidly boost TripAdvisor’s results

January 25, 2016

The number of prominent global hotels TripAdvisor added to its Instant Booking feature appears to have jumped more than 20% during the fourth quarter of 2015 after the world’s largest travel-review site reached a distribution agreement with Priceline Group, according to a recent study by Piper Jaffray, an investment bank and asset management firm.

Of a sample of 500 global hotels — defined by Piper Jaffray as the first five hotels that appear in Internet searches of the top 100 global destinations — TripAdvisor enabled 92% of them to be directly booked through Instant Booking by the end of the year, according to Piper Jaffray’s Jan. 5 note. That number was up from 76% on Sept. 15.

The catalyst was Priceline Group, No. 2 on the 2015 Travel Weekly Power List, which last fall reached an agreement for inventory on its unit to be directly bookable on TripAdvisor. With’s hotel room inventory fully integrated, TripAdvisor will have more than 400,000 hotels bookable via Instant Booking, according to TripAdvisor spokesman Kevin Carter.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Consolidated, focused messaging will help fight disruption

January 25, 2016

While the experiential economy necessitates product-oriented brands to find ways to tie themselves to experiences, experience-oriented brands in sectors such as hospitality have their own disruptors, most notably Airbnb. Consolidation and well-executed and focused initiatives will help a brand rise above the noise.

“The experience economy is what’s driving everything,” said Elizabeth Pizzinato, senior vice president of marketing and communications for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. “The experience economy as a phrase, I think, first surfaced in 2008, and it has never been more true.”

“But I’ve been obsessing about a new word, and it’s particularly true in my industry hospitality, ‘disruption,’” she said. “And Airbnb is disrupting the travel industry, and it’s something that is happening in [other] worlds too.”

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Hotels ramp up deal making as an antidote to Airbnb

January 25, 2016

Commune Hotels & Resorts and Destination Hotels are the latest hospitality companies to merge. The two privately held firms on Friday announced they completed a deal to create the largest independent operator of boutique hotels—properties that focus on design and often appeal to a younger crowd.

The combined company has 92 hotels in seven countries and $2 billion in property-management revenue.

In a cross-border transaction last month, French lodging giant Accor SA agreed to acquire FRHI Holdings Ltd., the Toronto-based parent company of Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel brands. The deal valued the company at more than $3 billion.

Driving much of the deal activity is the negotiating power that comes with mass scale, which could be the most effective way for hotel operators to fend off rising competition from tech-oriented companies that have been eating into hotel profits over the past decade, analysts say.

Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal

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There’s no stopping the Chinese traveler

January 25, 2016

Wang Suqi, president of Total Travel International Travel Service in Beijing, said that the weakened Chinese yuan was hardly an issue.

“I do not see any impact on travel because the Chinese are very rich. They will continue to travel and spend money,” Wang said.

Tony Li, managing director of Beijing-based Deluxe MICE Tour and Luxury Travel, shares the same observation: “There are many first-time travellers in China and they are all eager to see the world. Their concern isn’t about the cost because they can afford it, rather they are worried about the safety and security of the destination.”

Get the full story at TTG Asia

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Marriott signs direct connect with Rakuten

January 25, 2016

Marriott International and Rakuten Travel have signed a Direct Connect Agreement that will enable Japanese travelers to check room inventory in real-time and rates in Marriott International's 4,300+ hotel portfolio, as well as to book hotel rooms online on their smart phones or digital devices. The strategic partnership will commence in the first quarter of 2016.

"Japan is a very important market for us and we are thrilled to reach such a significant partnership distribution agreement with Rakuten Travel," said Peggy Fang Roe, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Marriott International, Asia Pacific. "Rakuten Travel deeply understands the buying behavior of Japanese travelers, particularly online and that is a big focus for us. Our desire is to partner with those who are passionate about their consumers and have the same mission that we do to create a seamless global travel experience. With 19 Marriott International brands, including JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton and Marriott Hotels, and over 4,300 hotels available through Rakuten Travel, Japanese travelers will see a major increase in the number of rooms they can book through Rakuten Travel."

"The agreement exemplifies Marriott International's continued efforts toward the creation of a holistic and effortless online- and mobile-powered travel experience for our guests. We aim to connect Japanese travelers with our hotels around the world and aspire to be the favorite global brand for Japan's tens of millions of travelers, who are looking to travel inside and outside of Japan." Ms. Roe added.

Rakuten Travel is one of Japan's largest and most successful online travel platforms and is part of the renowned Rakuten Group with more than 100 million members across the nation. More than 1.8 million room nights are booked per month through the Rakuten Travel online portal, reflecting strong demand from Japanese travelers who make their travel arrangements online.

Takanobu Yamamoto, President of Rakuten Travel said, "Marriott International is a strategic fit for our group as the number of Japanese travelers exploring the world continues to grow. We are very excited that our customers will be able to have direct access to the worldwide room inventory of Marriott International, one of the world's largest lodging companiesy'm not sure what "international hospitality group means. We understand what our members are looking for through their consumer behavior and booking preferences, and work to provide the best hotel choices for them. With the strategic partnership with Marriott International, we are able to offer more travel and booking options than ever before to our customers. This will not only boost customer satisfaction and attract more bookings but also ultimately strengthen our travel business as a whole."

Rakuten Travel with its innovative travel solutions has made travel planning more convenient than ever for Japanese travelers. Rakuten Travel offers a wide range of hotel options and enables users to book hotels and hostels worldwide.

According to the study conducted by Phocuswright Japan1, the annual sales for online travel booking in the Japanese market in 2013 was JPY 2.9 trillion, which has increased by 23% compared to that in 2011. The online sales for travel package now account for 33% of total travel sales in Japan. The study indicates that the increasing number of Japanese consumers will go online to make travel bookings, thus online travel booking is likely to uptrend in coming years.

Related Link: Rakuten Travel

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How travel plus storytelling on Facebook can equal sales

January 25, 2016

For the travel industry, marketing should be easy, as holidaying or travelling by their very nature create anecdotes and stories (not to mention great pictures) that customers often want to share.

But how can you be more tactical and do your best to encourage actual sales rather than just interesting and attractive marketing materials?

Sequential storytelling can help, especially at this time of the year when many people are beginning to think about their summer holiday, but haven't necessarily decided where or what they want to do.

The aim is to build knowledge of a product or service gradually with potential customers, then to narrow down your audience, increase the sales message, and target those most likely to purchase.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Why hotels need Big Data

January 25, 2016

Those systems have made great strides, but they're not good enough to operate without human intervention and guidance.

Decisions on price will still need to be automated at some point. Most industries have already automated these processes. Why shouldn't hotels?

It's because we lack proper big data feeds that would improve predictions and quantity of information enough to increase precision.

Get the full story at SnapShot

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Buyer personas. Do you really know your hotel guest?

January 25, 2016

Your target customer is the person you think will be most likely to make a reservation and stay at your hotel. When you create your target customer description, you segment and profile your target audience based on demographics and psychographics. This helps you to develop and implement marketing campaigns that are tailored to the needs and preferences of your target customer. For instance, you know that your target customer is a married businessman from Italy with an average annual income of €100,000. You have created this profile based on historical data, trends you have spotted and customer research. With your target customer in mind, you will now launch a marketing campaign, perhaps a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign segmented based on your target’s location, age, gender, etc.

But we want to go a bit further. Instead of just being able to effectively reach the person who is most likely to stay at your hotel, we want to understand their needs and wants. We want to know the who, what, how, where, when, and why of your hotel guests. Rather than just looking at demographics such as age, gender, income, occupation and looking at their interests and lifestyle, we want you to truly understand who your potential and current hotel guests are.

Get the full story at GDMN Global

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How the internet of things is transforming travel

January 22, 2016

By connecting smart devices, systems, processes and people in new ways, it is streamlining the back-end operations of airlines, hotels, resorts, cruise lines and rental car fleets.

At the same time, data from these connections is helping marketers deliver more personalized campaigns and enhanced traveler experiences. Simply put, the IoT is helping this highly competitive and schedule-driven industry turn information into action, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “The Internet of Things: What Travel and Hospitality Marketers Need to Know Now.”

As technology becomes cheaper and more powerful, much of the innovation has shifted toward enabling these smart devices and systems to communicate with each other and with larger systems. Many travel and hospitality brands already have some IoT functionality in their back-end operations and are experimenting with ways to put the technology to work for customers. With potential to transform nearly all aspects of the travel experience, the IoT will enable these companies to collect and integrate large data sets from different sources and instantly personalize traveler experiences.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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Uber usage by business travelers surpassed taxi and car rentals in 2015

January 22, 2016

What’s more, it’s reported that the number of people staying in Airbnb properties while on work trips grew 259 percent during the same time period.

Certify looked at more than 30 million receipts and travel expenses in 2015, and its research shows that employees want to use services they’re fond of as individual consumers. Jeremiah Owyang, CEO of Crowd Companies, an organization dedicated to helping brands understand the on-demand and collaborative space, assured VentureBeat that this finding is accurate: “Business travelers are budget conscious, but more importantly seek speed and efficiency rather than rely on taxis to ensure a ride home,” he said. “Most of these startups are integrated with American Express Global Business Travel as well as Concur business travel software, easing the transactions.”

Get the full story at VentureBeat

Read also "Uber launching food delivery service in the U.S." and "Uber, start-ups shake up business travel" at CNBC

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Hotel wonderland as distribution is disrupted and ALICE comes out to play

January 22, 2016

This week alone came two pieces of news that should make hoteliers sit up for what they signify.

Expedia led a $9.5 million Series A round (chump change to the giant OTA) to invest in New York City-based ALICE, a hospitality operations platform that is touted to be an all-in-one solution that allows hotels to improve front and back of the house operations and communication. ALICE is likened to a Salesforce or a CRM platform for hotels.

At the Expedia Partner Conference in Las Vegas, John Kim, chief product officer of Expedia Inc, was all over ALICE. He said, “The team at ALICE is obsessed with every operational detail associated with running a hotel. Their software solves major hotelier operational pain points and it’s easy to see how they are able to save hoteliers money and man-hours. ALICE puts the entire hotel operating system into the palm of a consumer’s hands through their own devices. I believe every hotel that engages with them will be ecstatic.”

Get the full story at WIT

Read also "Expedia invests in CRM platform for hotels"

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European tourists changing travel habits

January 22, 2016

European travellers, once loved by suppliers for their tendency to book months in advance, are increasingly confirming their trips much later in hopes of scoring attractive last-minute discounts.

A top level hotelier with an international chain added that the rising number of late bookings was also a result of “too many hotel options” available in Asia, allowing the increasingly budget conscious Europeans to “shop around” for best rates.

Yves Van Kerrebroeck, deputy managing director with Asian Trails in Bangkok, said: “(The climate in Europe) is not very encouraging at the moment, economically and politically, for people to feel secure about spending on longhaul travel.

Get the full story at TTG Asia

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A deeper dive into GBTA’s U.S. Business Travel Forecast

January 22, 2016

How is group travel performing?

In 2015, group travel outperformed individual travel activity. Average spending on group travel, however, declined slightly from $700 in 2014 to $694 in 2015 per group business trip. Volume growth will pick up the pace over the next two years, growing in the 3 percent range, but spending growth will remain restrained for group business travel through 2016 before loosening up in 2017.

How is the global economy impacting international outbound travel?

International outbound business (IOB) travel continues to face headwinds from poor global macroeconomic fundamentals. Poor consumer and business confidence are holding back global economic growth. Lagging performance and heightened uncertainty in Asia-Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa have detracted from global growth as well. These headwinds will likely continue to challenge IOB travel performance as we move into 2016 and 2017.

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

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Decoding modern marketing

January 22, 2016

They expect easy, enjoyable experiences in store, online, and with the products and services they buy.

In a nutshell, they want it good, fast, and cheap, and if they don’t get it from you, they’ll find it somewhere else.

At the same time, competition is brewing even in the sleepiest of verticals. Companies are realizing that if they don’t superserve their consumers, one of their competitors will or already is. And the quality of such an experience has been set not by the sleepy competition, but by the world’s top brands, so the bar is very high.

Get the full stor at CMO by Adobe

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The HSMAI top 25 extraordinary minds in hospitality sales, marketing, & revenue optimization named

January 22, 2016

Now in its 13th year, The HSMAI Top 25 honors leaders in sales, marketing, and revenue optimization of hospitality, travel and tourism organizations for their accomplishments in the preceding 18 months.

HSMAI will honor The HSMAI Top 25 in conjunction with the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala on February 16, 2016, at the New York Marriott Marquis, and in a private ceremony co-hosted by Questex Hospitality + Travel.

“The people named to this list have made incredible contributions to the industry,” said Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, president & CEO of HSMAI. “Their innovative sales, marketing and revenue management ideas have helped fuel the success of the hospitality industry the past two years.”

The HSMAI Top 25 Extraordinary Minds for 2015 are:

- Robert Allegrini: Vice President, Hilton Worldwide
- Bob Anderson: President, Star Performance Inc.
- Srikanth Beldona: Associate Professor & Program Director of MS in Hospitality Business Management, University of Delaware
- Barry Biggar: President/CEO, Visit Fairfax
- Colleen Birch: Vice President, Hotel Optimization, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
- Noah Brodsky: SVP, Worldwide Loyalty and Engagement, Wyndham Hotel Group
- Felipe Carreras: Director E-Commerce, Best Western Hotels & Resorts
- Richard Cassey: Chief Strategy Officer/Partner, Commit Agency
- Adriena Daunt: Public Relations Manager, The Americas ,Tourism New Zealand
- Stephanie Davis: Industry Director, Google
- Tammy Farley: President, The Rainmaker Group
- David Fine: Senior Vice President, Sales, Marketing & Revenue Development, PGA National Resort & Spa
- Nina Herrera-Davila: Senior Director, Consumer PR-Marriott Signature Brands, Marriott International
- Lauren Levin: Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications, sbe
- Bill Linehan: Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, RLHC
- Monya Mandich: Head of Global Marketing & PR, Expedia Media Solutions, Expedia, Inc.
- Shannah Milstead: Executive Director, Sales Programs, FRHI Hotels & Resorts
- Kyle Murdoch: Senior Director, Digital, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
- Charlie Osmond: Chief Tease, Triptease
- Chris Romer: President & CEO, Vail Valley Partnership
- Marie Torres: Vice President, Marketing & Branding, Destination Hotels
- Claudia Vecchio: Director, Nevada Department of Tourism and Cultural Affairs
- Chris Wilroy: Senior Vice President, Commercial Services, Hilton Worldwide
- Monica Xuereb: Chief Revenue Officer, Loews Hotels & Resorts
- Kristin Yantis: Principal, Malen Yantis Public Relations

The “Top 25” recipients were selected by a panel of senior industry executives based on recent work meeting the following criteria: creativity and innovation; cutting edge sales or marketing campaigns; triumph in challenging situations; and sales efforts that resulted in dramatic gains.

Tables and tickets for the HSMAI Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala are still available for purchase. For additional information on the HSMAI Adrian Awards and “Top 25” list visit

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Do hotels innovate better during tough times or good times?

January 22, 2016

We’d all like to think that “good times” are when we innovate the most. That’s when we have more resources and more time for new initiatives. But in my opinion, the reality is just the opposite. Hard times force us to be smarter about doing things better.

Consider this. 2015 just wrapped up and by all measures, most hotels had a good year. RevPARs are up and so is profitability.

That’s not to say that hotel production numbers came easy in 2015. Everyone with a stake in a hotel’s performance had to work very hard to move the needle.

Get the full story at nSight

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Airbnb gains from illegal hotel operators

January 21, 2016

“Occasional home-sharing and occasional home rentals have been going on for decades, and without question they provide real benefits to the teacher, student or grandmother who may want to earn extra cash,” said AH&LA president and CEO Katherine Lugar on a press call on Wednesday. “That is not our focus today. Instead, this report revealed a very different and very disturbing trend.”

The report, “From Air Mattresses to Unregulated Business: An Analysis of the Other Side of Airbnb,” conducted by Penn State University’s School of Hospitality Management, analyzes data from Airdna, which tracks Airbnb revenue and operations through continuous searches of the Airbnb site. The data was gathered over a 13-month period in 12 major U.S. markets and excludes all shared rooms and apartments, as well as unique units, such as boats, tree houses and tents.

A key finding of the analysis was the rise of mega-operators, defined as “hosts” who rent out three or more units. They grew from 1,171 in September 2014 to 2,193 in September 2015, an 87.3 percent increase. Mega-operators account for 7 percent of hosts in the markets studied—New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.—but accounted for 25 percent of revenue generated in those markets, totaling about $326 million.

Get the full story at Business Travel News and download the report at A&HLA (PDF 389 KB)

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TripAdvisor names 2016 Travelers’ Choice hotel winners

January 21, 2016

The winners were based on millions of reviews collected in a single year from TripAdvisor users worldwide.

The awards, given out over the last 14 years, recognize more than 7,000 properties in 97 countries. The hotels are judged based on service, quality and value.

“Travelers considering their next trip can book confidently selecting from these award-winners that have already delighted millions of members of the TripAdvisor community,” said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor, in a written statement.

Get the full story at USA Today and TripAdvisor

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Travel agent transactions for airline tickets rose 6% in 2015

January 21, 2016

While the number of ticket transactions in 2015 increased 6.2%, to 155 million, total sales decreased 1.5%, to $88.3 billion.

Ancillary sales continued to increase, evidenced by ARC’s reported Electronic Miscellaneous Document (EMD) sales. EMDs are used to report ancillary sales through ARC.

In 2015, $19.5 million of the total sales were comprised of EMD sales, versus $3.8 million in 2014, a 410% increase. The number of EMD transactions rose from 54,442 to 236,059.

ARC attributes the increase to EMD readiness on behalf of both carriers and GDSs.

Source: Travel Weekly

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Successful 2016 ahead for incentive travel

January 21, 2016

Incentive travel buyers and sellers are reporting that many companies are planning to increase their budgets, while adding more eligible participants to their incentive travel programmes.

However, more than 75% of participants are still continuing to save costs through a variety of methods, including planning shorter programmes, having fewer inclusions, and selecting cheaper destinations.

Threats to incentive travel are still apparent, with respondents naming airline costs, the world economy, and the threat of terrorism as the most damaging factors to the industry.

Get the full story at C&IT

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Uber launching food delivery service in the U.S.

January 21, 2016

All 10 cities already participate in Uber's existing lunch delivery service, but UberEats will expand to include dinner while the lunch-only service will be renamed Instant Delivery. The other launch cities for UberEats include Washington, DC, Seattle, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, and Austin. The number of restaurants and the hours of availability will differ from city to city.

Uber is facing competition from a slew of well-established food delivery companies like Seamless, Postmates, and DoorDash. What Uber lacks in experience, however, it may make up for in logistical technology. Uber says it will estimate the amount of time a food order will take to prepare, and then locate a nearby driver to pick it up when Uber predicts it's ready. If multiple food orders are close to one another, Uber will try and coordinate a single driver to pick up and delivery all of them.

Uber plans on charging a fee of $5 per delivery, but the price will vary depending on the city.

Get the full story at The Verge and The Wall Street Journal

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Google debutes “Real-Time Ads” to drive live engagement

January 21, 2016

Participating marketers will need to pre-plan the content they want to run as part of Google's new offering. But the product will allow for dynamic insertion in real-time, as the moment is happening or just after it occurred.

Real-time marketing has been a buzzy concept in marketing circles in recent years as advertisers tried to use Twitter in particular to get in on big consumer conversations as they unfolded. It has yielded a wide variety of results, with consumers latching onto some brands' timely messages but tuning others out.

Get the full story at Search Engine Journal and AdAge

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New TrustYou product helps hotels increase Google visibility

January 21, 2016

These reviews are also incorporated into TrustYou’s TrustScores and Meta-Review summaries, which appear on hundreds of sites worldwide, including Google, Trivago, KAYAK, Skyscanner, Wego, Sabre GDS, and more.

Hotels that are already using TrustYou Stars have seen promising results:

- Ayres Hotels has seen a 4% increase in its TrustScore (TrustYou’s overall review score) alongside a 3000% increase in the volume of their Google reviews

- B&B HOTELS saw a 2.5% increase in its TrustScore in just two months along with a 740% increase in Google reviews

- Meininger Hotels saw 200% more Google reviews than in all of 2014 after just a few months using TrustYou Stars

Benjamin Jost, CEO and co-founder of TrustYou, emphasizes: “Our newly developed product, TrustYou Stars, gives hotels the possibility to create more review content and thus more visibility on Google. It works beautifully together with our reputation management platforms, TrustYou Analytics, Radar and Meta-Reviews.”

Hotels looking to test TrustYou Stars can do so by signing up for a free 90 day trial here. Or, learn more about TrustYou and TrustYou Stars at

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eRevMax completes 2-way integration with Priceline for seamless connectivity

January 21, 2016 partner hotels will also benefit from eRevMax's Reservation Delivery Service, which facilitates automatic transfer of reservations booked at the channel directly into the hotel systems (CRS/PMS), thereby eliminating chances of missing reservations or overbookings.

Following the interface certification, joins the eRevMax Channel Ecosystem, which will help it to gain access to a broader inventory of hotel product., the flagship brand of the Priceline Group, has access to approximately 600,000 hotels, apartments and villas.

"Our partnership with eRevMax provides hotel properties with an easy to use interface to manage rates and inventory distributed through our sales channel. eRevMax's robust distribution platform has changed the way hotels can cost-effectively manage multiple channels online. This powerful and seamless integration will help our partners to significantly reduce time and tools they spend on managing rates," said Craig Schickler, Vice President, Hotel, .

"This integration with, one of the most popular OTAs in the world, will certainly improve our portfolio of offering a diverse range of distributors through the eRevMax Channel Ecosystem. This powerful and seamless integration will result in more efficient rate distribution, enhanced rate optimization and the streamlining of all connections. The data flow between the channel and hotels are immediately reflected on platform in real-time and give it the opportunity to improve booking conversion, offer a wide range of products and increase revenues ," said Brain Dass, COO, eRevMax.

The improved connectivity is available now to all existing accommodation providers of subscribed to eRevMax solutions – RateTiger, RTConnect and LIVE OS. eRevMax is developing its connectivity solutions to offer sophisticated real-time revenue management functionality to the hospitality industry. This includes solutions for the independent market, the mid-market and scaling up through the large, global hotel groups. The eRevMax Channel Ecosystem facilitates quality, certified connectivity and relationship management services to support complex revenue generation strategies.

Related Link: eRevMax

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Expedia invests in CRM platform for hotels

January 20, 2016

The company plans to use the new round to strategically hire new team members and expand its product offerings. ALICE is an all-in-one solution that allows hotels to improve front and back of the house operations and communication. Essentially ALICE is like a Salesforce or a CRM platform for hotels.

ALICE or A Life Improving Customer Experience, connects guests to their hotel by way of a mobile app, and at the same time makes it easier for hotel staff to collaborate on a unified platform. To get a better understanding of what they are doing and where they are headed, we spoke with their cofounder and president, Alex Shashou.

“The team at ALICE is obsessed with every operational detail associated with running a hotel. Their software solves major hotelier operational pain points and it’s easy to see how they are able to save hoteliers money and man-hours. ALICE puts the entire hotel operating system into the palm of a consumer’s hands through their own devices. I believe every hotel that engages with them will be ecstatic,” said John Kim, chief product officer, Brand Expedia Group at Expedia Inc.

Get the full story at and TechCrunch

Related Link: ALICE

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Online booking makes hotel loyalty harder to keep

January 20, 2016

“It’s a tricky transitional period,” said Christopher K. Anderson, a faculty member at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. The industry, he said, is adopting new technologies but at the same time the hotels are very competitive in vying for customers. “The world of digital selling is more complex for hoteliers,” Mr. Anderson said, adding that companies like TripAdvisor with its instant booking service and Google were transitioning to models that resemble online travel agencies.

The move to third-party sites has proved hard for hotel chains to ignore. In June, TripAdvisor announced an agreement with Marriott that allows travelers shopping for hotel rooms on its site to book directly at any of Marriott’s 4,200 properties worldwide without leaving the website.

TripAdvisor said more recently that it had added partnerships with the Priceline Group to include its brand, with 840,000 properties worldwide. The site has also signed other hotel partners including Wyndham Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels and Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, all of which do not offer reward points through TripAdvisor.

Google started a program last fall called Google Hotel Ads, which allows travelers to book on a personal computer, tablet or smartphone.

Get the full story at The New York Times

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