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The connected hotel room of the future wants to know all about you

August 03, 2015

“Today we can price our rooms based on a relevant combination of internal and external data sources and optimize accordingly,” Martha Poulter, CIO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts told Fortune this week.

That means taking advantage of data about weather; outside event and conferences, concerts, et cetera; public information about competitors’ performance; and customers’ past travel preferences. If you’ve shown a predilection for staying in cities near water and Starwood has a low occupancy rate at its Halifax or Boston Harbor properties, you might get a great promotion offering a discounted stay or package deal there.

By using Starwood’s proprietary data analysis tool, Poulter said the company was able to boost the revenue and market share of one Halifax property by 20%. “That flows right to the bottom line,” she said.

Another goal is to take as much friction out of the booking-checkin-checkout process as possible so that guests book through Starwood’s own properties rather than Expedia,, or another third-party travel site. Perks like the Starwood Preferred Guest or SPG keyless entry phone app which lets guests at select W, Aloft, and Element properties download key information and room number to their device and use it to gain entry. (No check-in lines!) That service is not available to people who book through third parties.

Get the full story at Fortune

Article location: at the intersection of technology and humanity

August 03, 2015

“ in 1999 versus the of today is totally different. We are much less attached to the idea of changing ecommerce and much more attached to customers.”

VentureBeat asked Caine what was different about during a time when other .coms and startups were crumbling. He replied, “I think having a startup mentality and being able to adjust quickly to the demands of customers and the marketplace has allowed to thrive over the past decade.” After 9/11, when the travel industry tanked, made a bold move. In 2005 bet the company on international purchases in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, which business would eventually become, the world’s largest reseller of hotel rooms.

“ had to reinvent the business post bubble collapse, to be a travel company instead of a marketplace. Post 9/11 we pivoted to international. We pivoted again in 2009 to become a mobile first company. Today we are deeply aligned with the customer so we can detect that next trend, jump on it quickly, and execute it at scale,” said Caine.

Get the full story at VentureBeat

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IHG and Starwood in talks over merger

August 03, 2015

Starwood may be conducting parallel talks with other interested parties, with candidates likely to include US hotel group Wyndham.

IHG said in a statement that it is not currently “in talks with Starwood with a view to a combination of the businesses”. IHG chief executive Richard Solomons declined to comment on Starwood as he reported a rise in first-half pre-tax profits. A Starwood spokesman also declined to comment.

Solomons said IHG’s strategy was to grow organically. He said the company had signed deals to manage 231 hotels in the first half.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

Read also "IHG 'targeting Fairmont and Movenpick'" at Travel Weekly

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How luxury hotels lure you with music

August 03, 2015

When the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver wanted to attract younger travelers and add some pizazz to the nearly 40-year-old hotel, it ditched the jazz music in the lobby and the mellow lounge tunes in the restaurant. In their place? Upbeat and indie pop tracks, like “Groove Jumping” by the British DJ Jimpster, arranged by a music-curating company.

The new music “keeps us interesting,” says hotel manager Joerg Rodig. “For some people, Four Seasons the brand can be intimidating. We’re trying to take that intimidating away and just be welcoming.”

Hotels are getting much more sophisticated about the music they play in their lobbies, restaurants, spas and pools. Properties are increasingly working with music-design companies, compiling separate playlists for different spaces and particular times of day. They’re even zeroing in on the optimal number of beats per minute.

Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal

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Disrupting beliefs: A new approach to business-model innovation

August 03, 2015

Consider how a web-based global hotel-booking platform used quick feedback cycles to reframe the focus of its business model from efficiency to user satisfaction, thereby opening new revenue opportunities.

The hotel-booking industry’s central belief has been that success depends on two things: negotiating power with hotels and a reliable web interface for customers. The company reframed this dominant belief by asking if customers booking a hotel room might look for more than convenience, speed, and price. It tested this reframe through a series of iterations to its website. Even minor changes - such as the use of photographs, a warmer (or sometimes cooler) tone for the site’s text, and the inclusion of testimonials from happy customers - raised the click-through rate. This insight confirmed the reframe: a booking site is more than just a functional service; it can also become an engaging customer experience.

As a result, the company has integrated constant feedback loops and daily experiments into its key activities, creating a true learning system. Now it improves and adjusts its site daily to boost customer engagement and increase revenue. It may well be on its way to becoming the industry’s global standard.

Get the full story at McKinsey & Company

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Google prices seem to be rising for brand-name keywords, but why?

August 03, 2015

Agency,360i said it has seen brand cost per clicks rise from 50% to 100% across different verticals in recent weeks, adding the price increase "does not seem to be related to more competition or lower-quality scores."

"Response has been a combination of confusion and anger," said a digital agency staffer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "Brand terms are an important source of revenue, but increasing pricing like this is going to damage Google's perception as being fair."

Google responded to the speculation by issuing a statement to Ad Age Thursday, saying that the recent fluctuations in CPCs "are often a reflection of how advertisers might be bidding on different terms."

Get the full story at Advertising Age

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HSMAI accepting entries for 2015 Adrian Awards Honoring Excellence in Travel Marketing

August 03, 2015

Winners will be recognized at the HSMAI Awards Gala on Feb. 16, 2016 at the New York Marriott Marquis.

"The Adrian Awards are the world's largest and most prestigious travel marketing competition," said Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, president and CEO of HSMAI. "Each year we see how incredibly talented travel marketing professionals are. The campaigns across all platforms are innovative and creative. We look forward to seeing this year's entries."

"Our theme this year is 'Where's Your Adrian?' " said Fran Brasseux, CHSE, CHBA, executive vice president, HSMAI. "The Adrian Award is the top honor given in travel marketing. Everyone in the industry should want to win an Adrian and be recognized by their peers for their outstanding work. This year we have also added a fun photo contest during the competition for winners to show us how they display their Adrian awards."

Travel industry professionals compete in the categories of advertising, digital marketing and public relations. Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes will be awarded in each category. Platinum winners are selected as the most extraordinary entrants from the field of Gold winners, and the highest distinction – "Best of Show" – is granted to the top Platinum winners. New categories for this year in Digital Marketing include: Single Entry and Series - Loyalty, Group Intermediary; Campaign - Location Based Demographically Targeted, and In-house Guest Capture.

Benefactor Awards presented at the gala include: • Leader in Sustainable Tourism Award, presented by HSMAI in conjunction with National Geographic Traveler, for exemplary leadership and innovation in preserving and communicating an authentic sense of place through a wisely-managed tourism program. Deadline for entry is Sept. 18. • Yahoo! Yodeler of the Year Award, presented by Yahoo, recognizes thought leadership in online storytelling measured by the guest's journey of web-based inspiration, engagement, perception, and conversion. Candidates will be judged on their storytelling strategies in content marketing, native advertising, and online blogging.

The Adrian Award's early entry deadline is Sept. 4, and the final deadline is Sept. 18. All entries for the Adrian Awards must be submitted online. The Adrian Awards will also be conducting a contest encouraging past award winners to submit photos of themselves with their Adrians. Prizes include free seats at the Adrian Awards Gala or a hotel stay for the Gala. Select submissions will also be displayed at and during the Gala.

Adrian Award winners will be honored at the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala, co-sponsored by HSMAI, and Google, on Feb. 16, 2016, at the New York Marriott Marquis. Special recognition will be given to Gold winners during the Gold Gallery Dinner Reception. In addition, winning entries will be listed in the winner's gallery on the Adrian Awards website and in a special issue of the HSMAI Marketing Review.

The Adrian Awards entries will be judged by advertising, digital marketing and public relations experts and leading members of the travel industry. Professionals interested in being a judge can contact HSMAI at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

In addition, HSMAI is accepting nominations for The HSMAI Top 25: Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, Revenue Optimization 2015. For submission guidelines and award information, visit

For more information on the Adrian Awards competition please contact Ellen Wilson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), visit, or follow Adrian Awards news on Twitter at For information on becoming an Adrian Awards partner, contact Nora Cloherty at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Why it’s time to reconsider using TripAdvisor’s widgets

August 03, 2015

Best known for its reviews and recommendations for travelers by travelers, TripAdvisor has switched gears and quickly transformed itself into a booking site. From being a place that offers travelers great, first person experience and advice to now being a place where travelers can also book their hotel straight through the TripAdvisor website. With many its hotel listings having the option to book, do we now need to rethink this “review site” and the tools they offer like widgets?

TripAdvisor has successfully used a well thought out content strategy to grow its audience which includes widgets, content API, and partnerships. As the brand moves from a review site to a fully fledged booking and metasearch site, many websites that use TripAdvisor widgets should evaluate the implications. Potential customers move to TripAdvisor through a widget and will now probably end up making a booking on a OTA site or need to be bought back via TripConnect or Business Listings.

Get the full story at Olery

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Expedia Q2 profit beats expectations as travel bookings grow

July 31, 2015

Expedia, which became the world's largest online travel services company by bookings in the first quarter, earned $449.6 million (roughly Rs. 2,877 crores) in the second quarter. On an adjusted basis, it earned $118.6 million (roughly Rs. 759 crores), or 89 cents per share, compared to analysts' average estimate of 84 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company, which owns the website that bears its name as well as, Hotwire and a host of other brands, said its board of directors approved a 33 percent rise in its September dividend to 24 cents per share.

Its revenue increased 11 percent in the second quarter compared to a year earlier.

Get the full story at Reuters

Read also "Expedia’s CEO talks about Google, HomeAway, Ryanair, and the Chinese market" at Tnooz and "Expedia cozies up to Google while boycotting TripAdvisor hotel bookings" at Skift and "Why Expedia could set its sights on emerging markets" at Money Morning

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Strong Amadeus half-year figures reveal earnings up 10.8%

July 31, 2015

Total travel agency air bookings increased by 10% to 265.9 million, while passengers boarded in its IT Solutions business rose by 7.8% to 354.2 million.

President and chief executive, Luis Maroto, said: “Amadeus has maintained its track record for growth in both revenues and profitability through a combination of market share expansion and growth in its businesses.

“̈Distribution delivered strong revenue growth of 11.3% through a 1.9 percentage point increase in global market share of air travel agency bookings.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Amazon Destinations expands to more regions, appoints former Expedia Exec as GM

July 31, 2015

Amazon announced today that it was expanding the local travel service into the metropolitan areas in and around Atlanta, Houston and San Fransisco; it was also expanded across the northeast metropolitan area to include cities that are drivable to Boston. This expansion now brings Amazon Destinations into six metro regions and 35 getaway destinations.

In a sign of its commitment to its growing hotel business, Amazon appointed Tim Lane, an ex-Expedia lodging-operations vice president, to the new position of general manager of Amazon Destinations.

Amazon Destinations is a hive off of Amazon Local, and allows hotels, resorts and bed and breakfasts to advertise there and for users to sort by location. Think of it as a cross between Expedia,,, Airbnb and Hotel Tonight with a twist.

The twist, as hyped by Amazon, is that the site automatically posts popular destinations based on where the user lives. With a tagline “Hit the road: Book local getaways,” Amazon is setting itself apart by offering a way to find unique weekend getaways that are close to home.

Get the full story at and TechCrunch and Skift

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OTA billboard effect is dead, says new AH&LA sponsored study

July 31, 2015

The study of about 50,000 online travel shoppers in 2014 found that users who browsed hotel sites tended to ultimately purchase their hotel stays via intermediaries, such as Expedia,, and TripAdvisor, on average.

The behavior was not true in reverse. Internet users who began their browsing on OTAs and similar intermediary sites tended to purchase hotel stays through those intermediaries, too.

The study was teased during a panel talk at the Revenue Strategy Summit held on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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Targeting the hyper-connected summer traveler

July 31, 2015

How are you seeing travel brands target consumers? And beyond that, at what stage do you think is the most critical to engage?

I personally think the research or consideration stage is critical — the person is entering their interest in location, timeframe and other data, including number of people and things like that. Brands can then use this data to convert these visitors — in even that first session — by delivering the right content based on these explicit data points. As this person browses and navigates the site, each of these interactions get built into their profile and should be used to deliver a dynamic and personalized experience at each click. Should they leave the site without booking, this data can be used in display and other online-marketing acquisition and retention if it’s a repeat customer. Then there are also vehicles to retarget and even cross-sell to that consumer so that they ultimately convert.

That’s interesting. So, going a step further, I imagine relevance delivery is huge for travel brands right now. What are some trends you’re seeing in personalization and optimization as it relates to travel?

Mobile apps are becoming an increasingly important tool for travel and hospitality brands, whether it’s using iBeacon technology to welcome them to a property or using a mobile phone as the keycard to enter a room. Having an optimized mobile experience is essential. As a frequent flyer, I constantly rely on my airline’s app to keep me updated on flight details; it also welcomes me when I land and encourages me to advocate for their brand through social media by “sharing my arrival” to Facebook. An area I think that is more of a future state for personalization is being able to deliver offers and content based on my profile and interests, for instance, when I walk by a screen or walk into my room and the TV starts playing a promo or ad catered to me. I think there are a lot of really great opportunities on the horizon for these companies to embrace technology to deliver a better experience with their brand.

Get the full story at Adobe's Digital Marketing blog

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Reinvent your hotel revenue strategy

July 31, 2015

It wasn’t all that long ago many hotels just used seasonal rates – and some still do! – before becoming more sophisticated to fluctuate rates more frequently based on demand.

Going forward it’s a more complex process thanks to a maturing internet and new technologies such as mobile.

Good thing the folks at this year’s Revenue Strategy Summit shared how they see the quickly changing word of revenue management.

Here’s one example. “More and more guests who would have booked [same day] at the front desk are in the parking lot booking on an app,” said Mark Morrison, VP Corporate Strategy with Hilton Worldwide. “The issue here is there are a lot of hotels playing the game of dropping rate on the last date and they’re teaching customers to check the app before checking in.”

Get the full story at Hospitality Interactive

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nSight Benchmark Report compares hotel website traffic to third parties

July 31, 2015

nSight, the leader in online consumer shopping intelligence for hotels and destinations, today announced its new Hotel Online Traffic Report. An industry first, the "HOT Report" benchmarks what consumers look like who are shopping a hotel website against consumers who are shopping that same hotel across thousands of third-party travel sites. This helps hotels identify consumers to target with marketing in order to drive more traffic and bookings to their own sites. The HOT Report is a revolutionary next step for hotel marketers who want to shift share to direct channels in a smart, targeted way.

Today, too many intermediaries stand between the consumer and the hotel supplier. Independent hotels, and even brands, can't compete with the colossal advertising power of travel websites. The HOT Report is all about providing hotels with a way to leverage the visibility they get from OTAs, along with the consumer shopping intelligence they get from nSight, to grow market share.

nSight is launching the HOT Report with a free 60-day trial. No credit card is needed for sign-up and no long-term obligation is required. The HOT Report is a no-risk way for hotels to re-engage with consumers by understanding how they shop on the web—and then use that insight to standout online and convert consumers directly. A two-step, simple integration with Google Analytics helps power this report. A short video explains the details.

"For the first time, travel marketers can directly compare consumers who are searching and booking their hotel on third parties and consumers searching and booking their hotel website," explained Rich Maradik, Founder of nSight. "The concept is can shift share from intermediary to direct channels by identifying source markets doing more shopping for them on third parties versus their own site. Then, they can go after consumers in these markets with focused, aggressive digital strategies such as geo-targeting and content marketing that bring consumers directly to their website."

The HOT Report compares online consumer shopping and booking behavior for a hotel on third-party sites with consumer behavior on that hotel's website. Users can watch performance change over time, see seasonal trends, and track results of strategies designed to shift share from OTAs. As hotels increase their direct share, they increase ownership of the customer and take back control of the guest relationship. Owning the relationship builds loyalty, positive reviews, referrals and a higher life-long guest value overall.

Hotels get valuable information in the weekly HOT Report:

- Top opportunity markets searching for a hotel on OTAs, but not searching on the hotel's

- Market where the is over- and/or underperforming compared to the OTAs

- Changes in consumer search and booking for the versus the OTAs, by city and by country

- Markets in transition, alerting the hotel whether its position is improving or declining

"Applications of travel intent data in the HOT Report go beyond shifting share," explained President and Chief Product Officer Jami Timmons. "When marketers and revenue managers are fine-tuning media campaigns or rate strategies, they can use the predictive data insights of the complete nSight suite to identify the top geographic markets to target, along with the consumer profiles most likely to book."

The HOT Report is part of the nSight for Hotels Solution, bringing search, booking and rate dynamics into one future view so marketing and revenue management can act together to improve performance. The full solution includes the SaaS interactive application, actionable reporting suite and robust Marketing Services.

nSight combines the world's largest view of consumer shopping data with predictive marketing and revenue management solutions to deliver more guests to your hotel and visitors to your destination. Only nSight aggregates more than 85 million travel consumer shops and bookings daily across over 5,000 third-party travel websites. Understanding consumer shopping behavior, rate impact and future market demand enables better marketing and revenue management decisions.

Get a free trial of the report at nSight

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QR Quality Reservations launches business tariff for QR Partner Hotels

July 31, 2015

Generation X and Y grew up with mobile devices, decreasing communication costs and are not only surfing the internet for information but purchasing more and more online! Travel is on the top of their list! To cater for this growing segment of travellers, QR Quality Reservations invented a business tariff which is:

- Available Monday through Friday
- 3 % of BAR (best available rate)
- Includes free WiFi and
- one of the following amenities: Early check in / late check out, Spacious workspace in room, Use of business centre

Launched at the beginning of July and with only 70 out of QR’s 380 hotel portfolio, all located in A destinations, the results have been overwhelming. Year End 60.000 € on the books with 3 days as an average length of stay!

Carolin Brauer is convinced: “Our society is changing and so are our guests. We have to cater and react on those changes. The QR business tariff is ideal to meet the requirements of this growing segment.”

Related Link: QR Quality Reservations and Hotelling

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France bans all hotel rate parity clauses by law

July 30, 2015

the French National Assembly took an important decision by adopting in the final vote of the ‘Law Macron’ the deletion of any rate parity clauses from contracts between hoteliers and Online Travel Agents and qualifying the term of the contracts as "mandate contract”. This is the first decision at legislative level in Europe to ban explicitly rate parity clauses from such contracts. With this decision hoteliers in France regain their entrepreneurial freedom and will be able to offer their customers any trade or tariff advantage they consider appropriate. France is thus the second country after Germany, where public authorities decide to ban rate parity clauses from OTA contracts.

The French decision allows hotels in France to set lower prices both on their online and offline direct distribution channels, than the rates available via intermediaries, thus putting an end to mandatory rate parity clauses. Compared to the decision of several competition authorities of 21 April 2015, including the French one, which only allowed setting prices freely through offline or, in other words, 20th century distribution channels, like telephone, fax, letters, etc., this voted amendment follows the realities of current times.

"It is a real revolution that is underway for the French hotel industry and for our customers. After the decision of the Competition Authority, this vote will contribute to the establishment of a renovated contractual framework to restore conditions of a commercial relationship based on trust between hotels and booking sites in the interest of consumer", says Roland HEGUY, President of HOTREC’s French member association UMIH.

"We applaud the decision by the French National Assembly. Today’s vote undoubtedly confirms the ban of parity clauses all over France, marking another milestone in discussions in France and in Europe on the applicability of parity clauses” says Didier Chenet, President of HOTREC’s French member association GNI.

"The European hotel industry sees this decision as a key milestone to restore complete entrepreneurial freedom for hoteliers all across Europe. After Germany which banned parity clauses in a competition case, followed by a Court judgment, France is opening a potential new way forward through the legislative process ”, welcomed Susanne Kraus-Winkler, President of HOTREC, the French decision.

This decision together with the decisions taken by the German competition authority and court earlier, seriously question the relevance of the recent announcement of and Expedia for the alignment of their terms and conditions similar to the formal commitments of 21 April. "The European hotel industry very much hopes that this roll-out of the restoration of the entrepreneurial freedom will not stop at the French and German borders”, concluded Susanne Kraus-Winkler.

Read also " alarmed by France’s new hotel rate parity plans"

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Corporate travel in disruption

July 30, 2015

The stakes thus are huge and online travel brands which have built their base from leisure travel are eyeing the corporate space. After all, a traveller is a traveller, whether she’s travelling for leisure or business and she cannot be expected to switch modes just because it is a “company trip”.

Earlier this year, launched for Business, which is geared for small businesses without managed travel programmes – a massive chunk of the market, particularly in APAC which is dominated by SMEs. Company managers or administrators can create for Business accounts for free, book rooms for their employees, or send their staff invitations and they can book the travel on their own. The administrators can coordinate company bookings and review reports by department, team or individual employees. Employees using for Business can also book leisure trips, but only their business travel bookings will feed into company reports.

Expedia Inc has its Egencia brand which is expanding aggressively into Asia, and is set to open point of sale in Singapore and Hong Kong. In 2014, the company announced it had broken the US$5 billion gross booking mark, hit near 90% online adoption rates of its proprietary online travel platform and grew its global presence to more than 60 countries – a six-fold increase since 2010.

Get the full story at Web In Travel

Read also "Understanding the shopping habits of business travelers" at Skift

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How Amex Biz Travel organizes its home-based workforce

July 30, 2015

Travel Market Report spoke with Stuart McReynolds, vice president and general manager of service delivery, to get his take on how American Express GBT made the transition—and what it has meant for agents and clients alike.

How dramatic has the shift been to the home-based model?
McReynolds: We’ve had agents working from home for the past decade or so, but the majority made the move in just the past two or three years. We closed about 15 centers in 2013 and all but about 1% chose to make the transition to working at home.

How extensive is this home-based workforce and how is it organized?
McReynolds: Our home-based agents number about 2,000 and are in 48 states. Typically there is a team leader for every 15 or 18 counselors and they are home-based as well. This is very important because the team leaders have a greater degree of empathy and understanding if they are working virtually themselves.

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

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What business travelers want from hotels

July 30, 2015

Business travelers have their eyes set on technology, but that doesn’t mean what they want from a hotel has to involve rocket scientists.

According to a discussion held during the Hotel Digital Technology Innovations session at the Global Business Travel Association’s annual conference, business travelers are pretty specific about knowing what they want from their hotel experiences.

Kate Vasiloff, research manager for the GBTA Foundation, said, according to a qualitative research project conducted by the Foundation in conjunction with AccorHotels, the three most exciting ideas with greatest market-wide use for business travelers include:

- Improving technology around the use of airport shuttle services;
- developing a text- or app-based concierge service that deals with problems in real-time; and
- integrating e-folios into expense reporting software.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Rebranded hotels rejuvenate their profits

July 30, 2015

Additionally, revenue per room jumps more than 4 percent and operating profits climb nearly 3 percent, says a new study in forthcoming edition of the Journal of Marketing Research.

About 60 percent of this increase is attributed to the change in brand, said authors Professor Chekitan Dev, Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration; lead author Professor Yi-Lin Tsai, University of Delaware; and Professor Pradeep Chintagunta, University of Chicago, in the study, “What’s in a Name? Assessing the Impact of Rebranding in the Hospitality Industry.”

“Businesses change brands all the time,” said Dev. “Here in Ithaca, New York, the Holiday Inn changed its affiliation to Ramada Inn, the Ramada Inn changed to Holiday Inn, which then changed to Hotel Ithaca; and the Sheraton changed to Clarion, which changed its name to the Trip Hotel. Believe it or not, this happens to thousands of hotels a year,” he said, due primarily to firms decoupling the brand from the physical property. Examples of other industries experiencing rebranding include retail stores, gas stations, hospitals, restaurants and medical offices.

Get the full story at Cornell University

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A deep dive into last-minute online hotel booking habits

July 30, 2015

Some generic questions about booking windows:

Have you taken a last-minute getaway so far in 2015?

16% – yes, more than one
24% – yes, one
61% – no

How far in advance do you typically plan your vacations (thinking about where you want to go, how you will travel and what you will do at the destination, etc)?

27% Less than one week
19% – 1-3 weeks
30% – 4-8 weeks
24% – 9 weeks or longer

How far in advance do you typically book a hotel stay for your trips?

31% – less than one week
24% – 1-3 weeks
29% – 4-8 weeks
17% – 9 weeks or longer

The average week to start planning is seven; week five for the hotel booking.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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Notes from the 3rd Annual Travelers Mindset Conference, Co-Hosted by HeBS Digital, Google & HSMAI

July 30, 2015

HeBS Digital co-hosted the 2015 Travelers Mindset Summer Conference along with Google and HSMAI Greater New York Chapter at the Google Headquarters last week, Wednesday, July 22nd.

The conference, centered on the topic “Creating Meaningful Digital Relationships,” brought over 100 hospitality guests and a line-up of industry experts to discuss the unique challenges hospitality industry faces. The mission of the conference was to discuss trending issues that impact the direct online channel and provide actionable steps to capture more market share, including:

- Capturing more revenue during the holiday season
- Developing strong customer relationships
- Accessing revenue opportunities in emerging markets
- Taking advantage of new revenue management tools
- Optimizing the direct voice channel

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

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Creating advertising value in hotel metasearch

July 30, 2015

Today there’s been a bit of a stir from an internal Google Now feature that is encouraging rebooking on price drop. As a user, I love the idea of this feature. I already rely on Google Now, and would find a lot of value here. As an advertiser, I wouldn’t know exactly what to think.

Price is an important lever in any market, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with products and features that create price pressure. Balance here is important; we can’t expect healthy advertisers if all they ever get is more and more pressure.

Creating consumer value and producer value do not need to be mutually exclusive activities. Wouldn’t the industry be healthier if we could count on a meaningful producer-facing innovation for every x consumer-facing innovations?

Get the full story at Koddi

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Book on Google adds AccorHotels

July 29, 2015

Unlike other properties that are beginning to participate in Book on Google through third parties such as Sabre, Accor has established a direct-connect to Google to facilitate customer bookings in Google search, Google Maps and Google+, says Markus Keller, AccorHotels’ deputy senior vice president of its global sale division.

AccorHotels’ addition to Google booking shows that brands will employ a variety of ways to connect to the Google booking feature, which gives guests the convenience of paying through Google Wallet and not having to repeatedly enter their credit card information. Customers can also book on Google platforms without having to take the additional step of navigating to the hotel website.

Accor also participates in TripAdvisor Instant Booking. Through Book on Google and TripAdvisor Instant Booking hotel brands pay much lower commission than they do to the large online travel agency duopoly, Expedia Inc. and

Get the full story at Skift

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TripAdvisor needs Instant Booking to pay off

July 29, 2015

This increasingly puts TripAdvisor in competition with its two largest advertising partners, Expedia and Priceline, that have so far declined to participate in the booking program. Additionally, these OTAs may dial back their advertising spend on TripAdvisor, meaning it will be increasingly reliant on these transactions.

Transaction revenue is likely to become an increasingly important revenue growth driver over the next few years. According to CEO Stephan Kaufer, the company expects "the hotel space to migrate towards transaction, but where I see vacation rentals being in the future, I would expect it to be almost all transaction oriented."

TripAdvisor's Q2 report showed how accelerating growth in Instant Booking is boosting its contribution to overall revenue, while increased advertising spends to promote the service ate into the bottom line. Yet, its foray into booking is in time likely to lead to decreased advertising spend from its two largest customers, Priceline and Expedia, as it increasingly becomes a competitor as well as an advertising partner. Although it is on the right track in terms of growth, it will need to see a significant bottom line contribution from Instant Booking fairly soon.

Get the full story at Seeking Alpha

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Our future depends on being relevant in Asia, says Expedia

July 29, 2015

At the Singapore event, attended by close to 100 hoteliers, the leadership team, led by interim CEO Jonty Neal and Mieke De Schepper, Vice President, Market Management, Asia Pacific, Expedia® Lodging Partner Services, spoke of the group’s determination to be relevant and win in the APAC region.

Neal, who was CFO of the AirAsia Expedia joint venture for the last two years, took over the reins from Kathleen Tan following a global reorganisation which followed Expedia’s increase in ownership to 75% of the joint venture. Neal told the audience he’d been with Expedia 12 years and worked in China as well as Hong Kong.

Tan’s sudden departure left the Asia team in shock and an industry wondering what was happening within Expedia, particularly its activities in Asia which had seen quite an uptick under the seasoned marketer’s leadership. From advertising on Bangkok’s trains to radio ads in Singapore to TV and print campaigns in Tokyo, Seoul and Hong Kong, the Expedia brand was beginning to be noticed, helped along as well by Tan’s expertise in social media – Expedia Inc’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi himself called her a “PR machine” at an industry conference.

Get the full story at Web In Travel

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Ryanair boss urges rival airlines to help him close down metasearch

July 29, 2015

It remains unclear which websites O'Leary has in his sights, but mainstream media reports suggest Skyscanner, Expedia and Google could be among them.

The latter would be the most surprising as O'Leary only last year announced the airline was working with Google on its Flight Search meta product and this would revolutionise the market.

In his latest outburst, O'Leary did not name the airlines he has contacted, but they are understood to be IAG (British Airways/Iberia), Air France/KLM, Lufthansa and easyJet, the Guardian reported.

Get the full story at Travolution

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“Sharing Economy” as Oxymoron - and More from the 2015 GBTA Convention

July 29, 2015

A center-stage panel tackled the topic of “Differentiating Brands in the Sharing Economy,” and in his opening minutes, Rufino Pérez Fernández, chief commercial officer, NH Hotel Group, called the sharing economy “a contradiction in terms”—if he’s sharing something, he’s not expecting to profit from it, therefore, no economy.

Chip Conley, head of global hospitality and strategy for Airbnb, said, “It’s not about personal sharing, it’s about sharing the world’s resources more efficiently.” His example: 600,000 people traveled to the World Cup in Brazil in 2014; 120,000 booked Airbnb-listed accommodations, representing a lot of hotels that “didn’t have to be built” in order to accommodate the influx.

Still, moderator Guy Langford, head of the travel, hospitality, and leisure segment of Deloitte & Touche, took Fernández’s point, saying that if “sharing” a misnomer, the correct word is “access.” (In fact, a January article in the Harvard Business Review uses the term “access economy” for companies such as Airbnb, Zipcar, and Uber, because, “when ‘sharing’ is market-mediated—when a company is an intermediary between consumers who don’t know each other—it is no longer sharing at all.”)

Get the full story at Meetings.Net

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Google gives up on Google+

July 29, 2015

In line with these changes, YouTube will go back to being a by-product of a Google account, not a Google+ profile. A Google+ profile will also no longer be needed when a user wants to upload, comment, or create a channel.

"While we got certain things right, we made a few choices that in hindsight, we’ve needed to rethink. People have told us that accessing all of their Google stuff with one account makes life a whole lot easier. But we’ve also heard that it doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you us," notes Bradley Horowitz, vice president of streams, photos, and sharing for Google, in a blog post.

Horowitz also addressed the security concerns that some users attached to this Google+ functionality.

Get the full story at Search Engine Watch

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The psychology behind successful hotel websites

July 29, 2015

Don't count it as a fluke or good luck. These successful hotels are reaping in direct reservations because they learned how to tap into the psychology behind buying behaviors and encourage them by implementing psychology and human behavioral insight into their hotel Website design.

You see, sharp hotel marketers know specifically how to pepper their Website with features that drive a customer closer and closer to making a reservation. While these elements may seem (to the untrained eye) as fairly minor, they are fixes that carry a big impact on a hotel Website's conversions.

Here are a few of the ingenious secrets and psychology behind sites that are successfully reeling in bookings.

Get the full story at Tambourine

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Travelport signs exclusive travel commerce deal with Radius Travel

July 29, 2015

Travelport has entered into a new exclusive partnership agreement to provide travel commerce services for Radius Travel, a leading global travel management company with member agencies operating in more than 80 countries.

The 70 members of the Radius Travel network---including agencies such as Cox & Kings (India), Ctrip (China), and Portman Travel (United Kingdom)---are among the leading regional travel management companies in their respective areas of the world. As part of the agreement, Travelport and Radius will work together to accelerate mutual sales growth and deliver innovative solutions for the global corporate travel market.

“The decision by Radius to enter into this exclusive partnership with Travelport strategically positions both parties to expand global business together, and to provide our mutual corporate customers with advanced and unique solutions, through the Travelport Smartpoint desktop and Travelport Universal API,” said Sandra McLeod, Travelport’s global vice president for global accounts and corporate sales.

“This expanded partnership allows Radius and our member agencies to get the most out of Travelport’s innovative products and services. We’re committed to providing our clients with the richest content and highest level of service possible. With Travelport as our global partner, combined with our members’ unparalleled access to the best local technology, we’re very confident in our ability to do so,” said Shannon Hyland, president and chief executive officer of Radius Travel.

As part of the new agreement with Travelport, Radius Travel members will have access to Travelport’s unrivalled travel commerce solutions, including Travelport Smartpoint, the productivity tool that is redefining the selling experience by providing customers with the travel choices and high levels of service they expect; Travelport’s merchandising capabilities featuring Travelport Rich Content and Branding for branded fares and ancillaries; and Universal API (application programming interface), the industry’s first truly universal API.

In addition, Radius members will be able to utilize Travelport Booking Feed, a corporate data source management solution used to analyze travel patterns and travel policy compliance, assist in vendor negotiations, and make business operations and budgeting more efficient; eNett Virtual Account Numbers (VANs), Travelport’s pioneering automated electronic payment solution; and, Travelport’s exclusive hotel content offering 650+ unique hotel properties, including independent and small hotel chains – adding value to Radius’s successful global hotel program, which offers access to rates at over 39,000 properties across 135 countries.

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Hotels have lost the traveler relationship to OTAs

July 28, 2015

Hotels can’t compete with the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on advertising by OTAs. Digital marketing basics of PPC and SEM offer an uneven playing field when Google search puts your hotel on an OTA sites before your own And there can be 3, 5 or more different third-party listings prior to getting to an official site.

There are just too many intermediaries between the consumer and the supplier (the hotel). Are the intermediaries adding true value to the travel consumer and their experience?

There are ways hotels can start getting control of that relationship back. Here are just 3 of them:

- Understanding the travel consumer and their shopping behavior

- Know your third-party vs direct share for online search as well as bookings

- Monitor the impact of your marketing between direct and indirect channels - from a geotargeting and demographic marketing view

Get the full story at nsight

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BCD Travel to roll out new hotel booking platform globally

July 28, 2015

Travelers trust that TripSource Hotels will offer them a wide choice of relevant properties at a rate competitive with what they might find on their own. Companies know TripSource Hotels encourages their travelers to book negotiated corporate rates.

When travelers book out-of-program hotels, it fragments the travel program. Travelers feel less tempted to shop around on their own when they're given a convenient, user-friendly booking method that's won their confidence. With full availability across multiple booking channels, TripSource Hotels combines the right content with convenience and ease of use. Moreover, it integrates with BCD Travel's workflows and back office system, supporting a full hotel solution—including virtual payment automation, business intelligence and sourcing assistance.

"We give travelers the tools they need and want without compromising the managed travel program," said Torsten Kriedt, vice president of Product Planning & Corporate Intelligence. "TripSource Hotels ensures that travelers will get real help by trusted agents when needed. Travel managers maintain immediate access to the travel data they need to manage their travel spend and support their travelers when disruptions occur."

"It's exciting to see our enterprise solutions coming to market on a global scale and to such a broad corporate client base," said Alek Vernitsky, the CEO and co-founder of GetGoing, Inc. "BCD Travel's robust global technology platform, strategic industry partnerships and passionate teams let us deliver a high-quality solution that performs and scales well."

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HotelTonight and Lyft can now be expensed by 30M employees via Concur

July 28, 2015

Used by over 20,000 businesses and 30 million employees, the platform is an easy way for employees to book and get reimbursed for travel and other expenses.

After linking your HotelTonight or Lyft account with the Concur portal (as easy as typing in your email address used for the apps), all future bookings for corporate travel will be imported into Concur and automatically filed into an expense report.

Tim MacDonald, executive vice president of Platform & Data Services for Concur, said that before this partnership most companies would consider it out of policy for employees to travel using Lyft and HotelTonight.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

Read also "Booking a business trip last minute? Here's an easy way to plan and save on costs" at

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Hotel price drop alerts in Google Now

July 28, 2015

As you know, with most hotels, you have 24-48 hour prior cancellation policies. So if you find a better price between now and your hotel stay, you can likely cancel your reservation and rebook for the better price.

Google Now is able to read your emails, find your reservations and likely through Google Hotel Finder, scan for price changes. It can then alert you as it finds lower cost pricing for the same hotel reservation you placed.

Get the full story at SEO Roundtable and Google+

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Laterooms to ‘challenge’ traditional travel management

July 28, 2015 for Business will be fully unveiled later this year but the company said it was releasing “key functionality” ahead of this launch in the autumn. The UK-based online travel agency first set up a business travel service in 2006.

Greg Mannix, Lateroom’s head of corporate, said the move aimed to “raise the bar” in travel management. “After building up years of expertise in the corporate travel industry, we know exactly what these customers are looking for,” he said.

Features to be offered as part of the first-phase launch include a new automated tool to help clients claim VAT expenses from hotel stays.

Get the full story at Buying Business Travel

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Need help? Travel industry gets more responsive

July 28, 2015

Sometimes, real-time help can come from an unexpected place, like a random hotel's Twitter account. That's what Susan Liberatore, a sales manager from Toronto, discovered on a recent visit to Salt Lake City.

"Traveling to Salt Lake City bright + early tomorrow morning," she tweeted. "Any absolute must sees?"

Hilton's help account, called @HiltonSuggests, responded promptly, pointing her to the nearest Nordstrom department store and suggesting two "must-see" activities in Utah's capital. "Both great recommendations, and delivered in a friendly – not computer-generated and vague – way," Liberatore says.

Why would Hilton "suggest" anything, let alone to someone who isn't a guest? Goodwill and a positive brand impression, two precious commodities in the travel industry. Hilton Suggests uses a platform called Lithium LSW Experts to funnel questions to one of its local concierges. And with a friendly tip from a knowledgeable local, where do you think travelers like Liberatore will make their next hotel reservation?

Get the full story at USA Today

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TravelClick and its hotel partners receive 28 Interactive Media Awards

July 28, 2015

“We are thrilled to share in these wins with our clients and would like to congratulate them in their success,” said Scott Koehler, Senior Vice President Product & Operations for TravelClick. “TravelClick is passionate about our work with hotels to engage travelers worldwide by delivering unique booking experiences through our web solutions. The receipt of ‘Best in Class,’ one the highest honors, is further evidence that TravelClick continues to lead the hospitality industry in outstanding website development.”

Get the full story at TravelClick

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HeBS Digital’s new rooms showcase module displays targeted, streamlined room information

July 28, 2015

The Rooms Showcase Module is an innovation meant to help hoteliers upsell rooms, speak to specific customer segments, and highlight accommodations features that separate their property from the competition. The module targets the two-thirds of website visitors that do not initiate a booking, leaving them unexposed to the in-depth room details typically featured in the booking engine. Dynamic, streamlined and illustrative content, the design makes the ‘shopping’ process easy for site visitors by displaying rich imagery first with the option to dive deeper into text content to learn more about a particular accommodation style.

“The purpose of the hotel website is to engage users and sell rooms, said Max Starkov, President & CEO of HeBS Digital. “Though many hotel websites fall desperately short when it comes to truly showcasing the hotel’s main product: their rooms. The Rooms Showcase Module engages visitors and captures conversions by delivering images and information that inspire guests and ultimately lead to bookings. The module is an important addition to the smartCMS and a game-changing addition to the hotelier’s arsenal.”

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

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Can Google booking save Expedia-Orbitz deal?

July 27, 2015

Google, which had already offered direct hotel booking on its mobile website, recently added that capability for desktop websites. Representatives of Google, operator of the world’s largest search engine, declined to comment last week, nor would they disclose how many U.S. hotels were included in the service.

Regardless, the move echoes online retail giant and its decision earlier this year to run a trial program for direct hotel bookings.

Additionally, travel-review leader and former Expedia affiliate TripAdvisor has been rapidly expanding the number of destinations that can be booked directly through its site. Last month, the company added Marriott International as a supplier whose rooms can be booked directly through TripAdvisor.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Google invests in Secret Escapes

July 27, 2015

"The cash injection of $60m will enable Secret Escapes to continue making great strides to replicate the success of our UK business, ultimately helping to bring us closer to our ambition of becoming the number one destination for consumers looking to book their holidays," said co-founder and chief executive Alex Saint.

"We forecast to be a global multi-billion turnover business by the end of the decade."

Secret Escapes' revenues grew at an average annual rate of 260pc between 2011 and 2014, and the UK-based company has seen its membership increase from 4m at the start of last year to 19m today.

Get the full story at the Telegraph

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The numbers behind TripAdvisor’s evolution into the next hotel booking giant

July 27, 2015

Even where there aren’t direct relationships with hotels, participating online travel agencies such as Getaroom and TripAdvisor’s own Tingo can provide the Book on TripAdvisor option for other properties.

InterContinental Hotels Group is one of the notable holdouts, and and Expedia are likewise declining to participate.

“In terms of overall coverage, at least where IB (Instant Book) is rolled out now, it’s pretty good,” said CEO Stephen Kaufer during the company’s second quarter earnings call July 23. “You see Instant Book in most of the places that you’d want. We are pretty proud of the progress we made in the first half of the year.”

Get the full story at Skift

Read also "TripAdvisor transformed: Instant booking is now in full swing"

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Top 10 travel and hospitality tech efforts of the first half of 2015

July 27, 2015

Luxury Daily lists its top 10 travel and hospitality efforts of the first half of 2015, like

Four Seasons global app: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is encompassing the entire consumer journey in its long-awaited, portfolio-wide mobile application. From bookings to in-room requests, the app rapidly changes how Four Seasons guests will use mobile. The luxury hotel sector is not known for mobile mastery, so the new app propels Four Seasons to among the top in the field.

Mandarin Oriental cyber attack: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is investigating a data breech in its credit processing in which hackers stole consumer card information. According to a statement from the company, it found and eliminated malware from an “isolated” number of hotels in Europe and the United States, but it has not shared specific hotel names because it is still looking into the issue. Leaks in payment security may cause concern for consumers, but taking direct action and retaining open communication about measures can help a brand regain trust.

The Ritz-Carlton’s event planning app: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company is enhancing its event services with a mobile application designed to assist meeting and event planners with the details involved with scheduling a function at a property. The app gives meeting planners a way to communicate with the Ritz-Carlton while organizing the fine details such as food and beverage choices, audio visual requests, in-room temperature and more. The ease of throwing an event through this app will likely entice more companies to hold conferences and meetings at Ritz-Carlton properties.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Boomers’ impact on travel industry huge

July 27, 2015

They also have the money; the consulting firm Deloitte estimates that “affluent, time-rich, and travel-hungry” baby boomers control 60 percent of the nation’s wealth, and account for 40 percent of its spending.

Whatever the political ramifications of this, its effect on the travel industry is greater than anything other than the emergence of the middle class in developing countries such as India and China, Deloitte says.

And from weekday karaoke lunch cruises with the music of Frank Sinatra and Glen Miller aboard the Spirit of New York to Nicaragua’s Mukul Beach, Golf, and Spa Resort’s “BOOMERang” second-honeymoon package, travel worldwide is changing in response.

Get the full story at The Boston Globe

Article location: buries giveaway in ad fine print

July 27, 2015 has a marketing mission that, as far as client mandates go, is pretty fun: Find surprising ways to use standard ad buys.

For example, earlier this summer the booking site put a twist on Facebook's silently autoplaying videos by creating a very different experience when you watch its ads with sound.

Now agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky is back with an effort that tests viewers' eyes rather than their ears: a TV ad covered in legal disclosure that happens to include rules for entering a sweepstakes. DVR users who pause the ad rather than skipping it will learn how to enter for a chance at a trip for two.

Get the full story at Adweek

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Quick and easy Google Hotel Ads optimizations

July 27, 2015

Maintaining a high price accuracy is extremely important in Hotel Ads because it is one of the core metrics that determine a rudimentary form of Quality Score. The higher your Price Accuracy, the lower your CPCs and the better chance you have at maximizing volume and return.

The possible Price Accuracy scores are Excellent, Good/Poor, At Risk, and Failed. Anything below Excellent can be problematic, so that should be your target. Even accounts with Good Price Accuracy scores could end up paying inflated CPCs. Volume can start dropping significantly after Poor, and a campaign risks being completely shut off below that.

Price Accuracy is measured when Google’s crawlers check your landing pages to ensure that what users see in your offer is in line with what they see on the site. These crawls happen on an ongoing basis, so it’s key to watch Price Accuracy every day.

Get the full story at Koddi

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Do hotel brands bring the value they once did?

July 27, 2015

Bill Linehan has been asked the question more than once as executive VP and chief marketing officer at Red Lion Hotels Corporation, which in 2014 brought together a full suite of “best-in-class” service providers to tackle everything from digital marketing to revenue management to customer relationship management.

“‘It’s just a bunch of systems, can’t anybody put those together?’” Linehan said, quoting the common inquiry from critics. “I have to chuckle at that. It’s an intricate bunch of systems that are working extremely well together with feature functionality requirements or they’re not allowed to work.”

It’s not as simple as just plugging them in, he explained. They have to be wired seamlessly together. A change made to the marketing campaign on one side of the ecosystem triggers a domino of factors that touch every platform along the way. One misstep can throw the whole system into chaos, he said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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TripAdvisor transformed: Instant booking is now in full swing

July 24, 2015

On TripAdvisor’s first page of listings for hotels in Chicago, 26 of the 31 listings have a Book on TripAdvisor choice. On the first New York page, 23 of 26 listings enable user to Book on TripAdvisor without leaving the site.

Many of the Book on TripAdvisor options come through partnerships with Accor hotels, Best Western, Mandarin Oriental, Choice Hotels, Radisson Hotels, and Preferred Hotels & Resorts, as well as, individual properties or independents, including The James Chicago, Citizen M and Row NYC Hotel in New York City, and Trump International Hotel Las Vegas. Some of these partnerships have been previously announced; others are believed to be new.

Some of the new hotel direct-booking partners, including Mandarin Oriental, Langham Hospitality, and Americinn, were not announced until TripAdvisor released its earnings this afternoon.

Get the full story at Skift

Read also "TripAdvisor adds Hyatt to instant booking, so now 235K hotels are instantly bookable" at Tnooz

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Priceline launches tonight-only deals

July 24, 2015

Tonight-Only Deals (SM) offer consumers fully revealed details such as name of hotel, price, location, star and guest ratings and amenities. The new search feature will allow consumers to easily search for Tonight-Only Deals by sorting them to the top of the list. According to new research commissioned by the brand, twice as many Americans today are using mobile travel apps to book hotel accommodations compared to 2013*, and more than one third (35%) are doing so on a frequent basis. As travelers become increasingly more comfortable booking same-day hotels via travel apps, is making it easier for customers to find these savings by creating a more streamlined experience. With over 1,000 new properties recently added, Tonight-Only Deals product now features 4,000+ mobile-exclusive hotel deals up to 40 percent off. also surveyed its own mobile customers to get a deeper understanding of today's mobile travel shoppers that continue to shape the app and found that mobile users are not necessarily the spontaneous or procrastinator types. In fact, the majority (58%) of's mobile customers are planning trips in advance but waiting until the very last minute to pull the trigger on booking the hotel, sometimes just hours before arrival, in order to get the best deal. These new On Demand Travelers, who check hotel rates in advance and know they will get the best price close to or on the day they need a room, along with spontaneous travelers who decide to travel last minute (about 42% of's mobile customer set), are shaping the continued digitization of travel, with the ability to plan and book anywhere, anytime.

"Those who reserve hotel rooms at the last minute, especially On Demand Travelers, continue to be the main drivers of mobile bookings as well as the inspiration for innovation around travel app products like's Tonight-Only mobile hotel deals," said Brett Keller, Chief Marketing Officer for "'s latest expansion of Tonight-Only hotels gives our last-minute travelers even more confidence to find and book industry best deals at the very last minute."

Interestingly, while On Demand and spontaneous travelers have discovered the secret to scoring the best hotel deals, the average American has not yet caught on to the last-minute technique. In fact, 70 percent of respondents to's general population survey shared they frequently worry about overpaying for a hotel room, yet nearly half (46%) said they book far in advance in order to save money on their hotel stay. Only 15 percent of respondents noted that they book at the last minute to save money. However, of customers surveyed, 77 percent had scored a deal when waiting until the last minute to book a hotel.

Additional comparative findings from the general population and customer surveys include:

- Planning ahead is key for both audiences, but the approach is different: Seven weeks is the average amount of time Americans plan their vacations in advance. Nearly half (46%) of Americans surveyed also booked their hotel rooms 4 or more weeks in advance; whereas 66% of's customers researched hotel options within one to two weeks or less, potentially saving up to 40% on the room rate.

- Travel "hacks" are common, but not all are effective: 77% of Americans noted that they try various travel hacks to save money on their hotel, including booking far in advance (46%) and booking only on certain days of the week (24%). And, while many are using mobile travel apps, 51% have never booked hotel accommodations using an app, which means they are missing out on an entire set of exclusive deals only found on mobile.

The Tonight-Only Deals campaign includes a national television advertising campaign. Tonight-Only Deals are available on both Android and iOS mobile devices. To download the iOS app, click here. To download the Android app, click here. For more information, please visit or connect with on Facebook and Twitter.

*According to an eMarketer, Inc. report from April 2014 titled, "Travel Purchases on the Go: Mobile Hotel Booking Surges, but Other Transactions Lag," which includes data from mobile device users, age 18+, who booked travel via mobile device at least once in 2013.

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Kayak experiments as clone

July 24, 2015

On a day that finds TripAdvisor transformed into a booking site, with a little metasearch on the side, a Kayak experiment I uncovered almost made my heart stop.

Kayak is conducting what is described as a small experiment of a site that abandons hotel metasearch, and looks like a clone of sister company

The experiment on on Safari - which likely is visible to only a subset of users - appears as though Kayak is taking a feed from as the site comes with a Reserve button, for paying at the hotel instead of comparing prices from online travel agencies and hotel partners.

Get the full story at Skift

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OTA European parity amendments change little

July 24, 2015

Sources told Hotel News Now that the landscape is fundamentally unchanged as and Expedia dominate the market.

Markus Luthe, CEO of the German Hotel Association, told HNN “the alleged commitments from Expedia and just turn out as another bluff in an unspeakable parity poker with the competition authorities.”

Luthe said nothing has been altered. “The given commitments to antitrust authorities … for more competition are reduced to absurdity by the positions taken by and Expedia. allows the hotel to offer a lower price on Expedia than on but not on the hotel website. Expedia allows the hotel to offer a lower price on than on Expedia but not on the hotel website,” Luthe said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Marriott shares insights into its digital revolution

July 24, 2015

Alex is the Global Director, Search Marketing for Marriott International where he oversees performance-marketing initiatives for more than 4000+ properties worldwide. he Marriott search marketing team manages multiple agencies across the world, responsible for growing search visibility in a multi-billion dollar channel.

BE: How much has the search landscape changed over the last year?

AE: Search engines are increasingly successful in delivering a single platform experience for your content needs. The travel industry has seen a great change in how consumers behave in search with a growing number of users clicking on links that keep them in search engines. This has many implications– both for users and companies.

We are noticing organic click share decrease as ad space grows and Google Hotel Ads are seeing much stronger integration and click share than ever. As a company we need to understand and act on these trends to ensure we remain competitive in growing search visibility.

BE: What has had the biggest impact for you at Marriott?

AE: The on-going shift in consumer behavior cross-device must serve as the largest impact to how we measure and engage with people. Not only does it force us to rethink attribution, it also drives design and delivery of mobile first experiences that serves content differently.

The opportunity to deliver relevant messaging is greater than ever, but there’s also a great challenge in executing that relevance in an increasingly complex environment.

Get the full story at BrightEdge

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How the hospitality industry is embracing the Internet of Things

July 24, 2015

Picture being at a resort using your smartphone or even smartwatch as the door key, or a tablet to order food or book a massage at the spa or a round of golf. Better yet, 30 minutes before getting to the room, hitting a button in an application that alerts the staff of your arrival so that the temperature in your room is optimized and lights are adjusted the second the door is unlocked. This is rapidly becoming possible.

For hotels and resorts, differentiating in this area is not generally well-served by a cookie-cutter approach, as IoT technology has to be fashioned to meet distinctive differences of each facility and cater to guests in a customized fashion based on who they are and what they aspire to accomplish during their stay.

Get the full story at Network World

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Sabre launches new Business Travel Services connecting hotels and travel buyers

July 24, 2015

Many independent and small chain hotels today find it difficult to compete for new travel agency and corporate business due to limited resources and investments compared to global hotel chains. Sabre Business Travel Services connects hotels to new business opportunities and helps them compete for and manage corporate accounts. At the same time, the solutions make it easier for travel managers and travel management companies to identify, negotiate and contract with hotels that best fit their corporate hotel programs.

"On a macro-economic level, business travel continues to be a major economic driver and the same is true on a micro-level for hotels looking to build their corporate business and serve business travelers," said Alex Alt, president of Sabre Hospitality Solutions. "Our Business Travel Services simplify that process by helping hotels compete for valuable business travel contracts and helping corporations get the most from their travel budgets."

According to a recent research report sponsored by Sabre and conducted by GBTA, managing supplier relationships and monitoring traveler compliance with corporate travel policies are two of the most time-consuming and important aspects of most corporate travel programs. In addition, as corporate travel managers are more pressed for time and resources, many are asking for expert assistance when building effective hotel programs.

The new report, Travel Manager 2020 – Foundational Shifts in the Role of the Travel Manager, discusses how corporate travel managers increasingly rely on technology and data as critical tools in negotiating contracts with suppliers, identifying hard-dollar savings, and monitoring compliance.

"As hotel rates continue to climb, a corporation's hotel spend can account for as much of the travel budget as air travel. So it's extremely important that corporations can tie negotiated rates to booked rates to ensure travelers are being offered what was negotiated and that they track that savings throughout the year – not just during negotiation season," continued Alt.

Sabre Business Travel Services provide the ability to integrate negotiated rate data into both the hotel's reservation system and into the travel buyer's online and offline booking channels to maximize savings and efficiency. The solutions portfolio builds upon Sabre's existing Sabre Hotel RFP technology and hotel consortia program to add an elite hotel consortia tier, BT Advantage, and Global Account Management:

- BT Advantage provides corporate agents with easy access to hundreds of pre-qualified business travel hotels in North America and the UK with plans to expand to other regions over the next 12-18 months.

- Global Account Management Services provides RFP representation to hotels, offering corporations and buyers a free, one-stop connection to reach thousands of pre-qualified global upscale, independent properties catering to business travelers.

- Hotel RFP, Sabre's award winning, self-service RFP technology, makes it easier for corporations and agencies to source hotels from the more than 175,000 GDS and non-GDS hotels worldwide. Corporate travel programs gain speed, efficiency and year round access to the data needed to manage and audit rates for high value corporate hotel programs. In addition, Sabre has partnered with a leading independent travel consultancy with experience sourcing over 250 engagements in the last five years who can help corporations save money by building and executing a sourcing strategy that optimizes their negotiated hotel programs leveraging Hotel RFP technology.

View some of the "Travel Manager 2020 – Foundational Shifts in the Role of the Travel Manager" report findings at Sabre and GBTA

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The evolving landscape of online hotel bookings

July 24, 2015

Google (finally) makes a move

For years now, ever since it acquired ITA software back in 2010, pundits have been speculating when Google would actually jump into travel distribution as a pure player. It released Flight Search and Hotel Finder in beta, then across various countries in North America in Europe, but always as a third-party traffic referrer rather than seeking direct transactions. After all, it is estimated that Priceline and Expedia both contributed to 5% of Google’s worldwide advertising revenues alone in 2014, so why would Google want to piss off two (or more) clients in the process of competing head on with them?

Rate parity no more?

Another seismic wave we are seeing comes from Europe, where online travel agency lost its battle against hotel unions and government agencies with regards to rate parity contract provisions. After legal decisions came through against Booking in Italy, France and Sweden, the popular OTA has announced it would review its contract provisions across Europe, with Expedia following suit shortly after, presumably to avoid costly litigation that would inevitably ensue.

Get the full story at Frederic Gonzalo

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Google confirms global rollout of new Hotel Finder interface

July 23, 2015

Google originally launched the new Hotel Finder back in 2011 and has done several upgrades to the features and interfaces since.

Over the past month or so, Google was caught testing a new user interface for the hotel finder. And now many are starting to see the interface out in the wild.

A Google spokesperson told us, “We began rolling out the new interface and it should soon be fully visible by all users.”

Get the full story at Search Engine Land

Article location: data reveals how Greece’s tourism drops sharply

July 23, 2015

Tourism doesn’t just matter a little to Greece’s economy - for purposes of generating the imported currency that will let Greece even begin to make payments on the soon-to-be 400 billion euro debt owed by a poor country with a population the size of Ohio, tourism IS the economy.

View the detailed chart of's data at Market Watch

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More than 100 TMCs sign up for Lufthansa portal to avoid €16 GDS fee

July 23, 2015

Schindler told Travolution's sister title Travel Weekly: “Emotions are fading. There are in-depth discussions with all partners. We’re open to finding solutions. We don’t have a fixed set of answers.

“If you want to avoid the fee, we have the portal. There is an option of direct connections. We’re open to API [application programming interface] connectivity. Agents are already doing this for certain airlines and we’re open to working in the same way. There is a lot of detailed discussion now. We are also in discussions with the GDSs on a worldwide level.”

Yet Schindler conceded agents’ options would remain limited when the charge comes in on September 1, saying: “We will have the B-to-C portal and the B-to-B portal. The other things will not be in place on September 1. It’s difficult to say how soon other options [will be available].”

Get the full story at Travolution

Read also "Lufthansa GDS fee ‘a defining moment for travel'"

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You can’t beat the disrupters so join them

July 23, 2015

Like other hotel chains, TFE lists its rooms with online travel agents and uses Airbnb as a distribution channel. "It's a complementer," said Emma Fraser, group director of marketing at TFE Hotels, whose properties here include Rendezvous hotels. Airbnb promoted living like a local. "We're taking some of those learnings and taking them into our hotel brand," she said.

The online travel agents were also giant review sites, giving hotel operators large amounts of information about themselves, and rivals. TripAdvisor was a useful research tool which TFE staff monitored constantly.

"At the end of the day people don't choose a three- or four-star hotel any more, they buy based on recommendations and adviser ratings."

Get the full story at The New Zealand Herald

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Luxury travelers make up to 18 purchases before a trip

July 23, 2015

Luxury travelers are 59 percent more likely than those who do not have a trip booked to make a retail purchase. With luxury guests booking their trips an average of 53 days in advance, marketers have a significant amount of time to reach them before they depart.

“The findings demonstrate a direct correlation with increased spending by luxury travelers in the duration preceding a trip,” said Chris Lorenzoni, director of category strategy for travel at Rocket Fuel, New York.

“In the study we found that luxury travelers made up to 18 purchases prior to a trip at an average spend per purchase of $184.55,” he said. “Armed with this data, luxury advertisers and brands can develop ad campaigns targeted at travelers from the moment they book their vacation, knowing that during the period between booking and vacation these consumers are predisposed to make more purchases.”

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Millennial shoppers still aren’t mobile

July 23, 2015

While it’s certainly true, then, that millennials aren’t really buying on mobile, this isn’t actually more true of this group than of anyone else. For the most part, mobile shopping remains an upper-funnel affair for the masses.

Despite low mobile purchasing, millennials are actually more keen on smartphone apps than older users. In Q4 2014 research by King Retail Solutions, 61% of US millennial smartphone owners had downloaded at least one shopping-related app. While this still highlights plenty of room for adoption among this cohort, older age groups were less likely to have downloaded apps: Just over half of Gen Xers and four in 10 boomers had done so.

While millennials may have the reputation of being more mobile-savvy, they still struggle with some aspects when it comes to shopping: 35% polled by MocoSpace and Social Lens Research said they would like to buy more on their phones but that it was too hard. Similarly, in a January 2015 study by Fluent, 36.4% of US smartphone users ages 18 to 24 said mobile shopping was only easy some of the time or never easy, as did 38.7% of those ages 25 to 44. However, these figures weren’t all that different from respondents in older age groups: Around 48% of those ages 45 to 64 and 65 and older said the same.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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The role of the guest in total hotel revenue management

July 23, 2015

While we have spent time and energy discussing these concepts, neither has been widely implemented. Kelly McGuire, Executive Director, Hospitality and Travel Global Practice at SAS believes there are several reasons for this. First, the siloed organizational structure of most hotel companies makes it difficult to organize the coordinated effort necessary to implement initiatives that span departments and functional areas. Secondly, the data and technology required to support the successful implementation of these initiatives is not readily available for most organizations. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I am not convinced, despite how much we talk about these concepts, that as an industry we fully understand them, and we definitely have not yet taken the time to think through how to actually execute.

A lot has been written about the problem of siloed functions within the hotel. Recently, there have been some encouraging movements towards breaking down these silos. Many hotels companies are starting to combine sales, marketing and revenue management into broader commercial functions, and incentives are starting to line up accordingly. Technology vendors have also begun to deliver solutions that address these areas as well, from robust food and beverage reports that transform POS data to actionable insight, or forecasting and optimization solutions for alternative revenue sources like function space. This is great progress, but it needs to be taken in the right context. In this article, I will attempt to build this context - helping us as an industry to better understand what these concepts really mean and how to properly implement them.

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

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Storytelling a key to hotel marketing success

July 23, 2015

As the meeting planning inquiry process has become increasingly automated, so have the responses being sent back by hotel sales managers.

More often than not today’s hotel sales managers simply respond back to electronic inquiries by providing basic, generic information. Few pick up the phone to make a connection and to investigate the details of the meeting, group or event. Instead, they respond by sending a template cover letter that usually reads like all of the other generic cover letters the planner will receive.

If your sales team responds in the same way as everyone else does, they are ensured only of getting their “fair share” of the business in the market.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Making the most of

July 22, 2015

From hotels to airlines and restaurants, a big focus today is driving direct bookings and why not? After all, why should you pay commission to a firm for the privilege of selling your inventory if you can own the customer relationship?

To quote from the introduction of EyeforTravel's latest report - Making a Success – Jeremie Catez, a former revenue director for Accor tells it as it is.

"OTAs know that hotels are an excellent source of revenue – [achieving] between 16 and 25% [in profit] margin. It's better than anything else they are selling on their website; that's why they're trying to grab this customer."

But on the other hand, he says, "moving an OTA customer to is at least 15% growth in revenue. You do not see the industry achieving this sort of growth anywhere else."

Of course, Catez is talking about the hotel industry but the push to drive direct bookings in all corners of the travel industry is gathering momentum. Lufthansa's recent move to slap a 16% charge on all tickets booked via the GDS is the first airline to move more strongly in this direction.

But if you want to drive direct bookings, you need to own the customer relationship and that isn't easy. Drawing oninsights from senior executives at brands that include Virgin Atlantic, Novotel/Accor, Generator Hostels, Triptease and, as well EyeforTravel's comprehensive digital library, this latest report shares insights into customer behavior trends and what can do now build direct business.

Here are some of the key findings:

- 57% of customers use an OTA to research travel and 52% then go on to visit

- 92% of executives reported an increase in conversions when personalisation was used in search engine marketing and 95% saw increases in sales offline

- 22% of consumers are still influenced by search engine optimisation because this first click is where the travel purchase starts

- 55% of customers are willing to have hotels interact with them during their trip, primarily via email

- 30 % are happy to receive mobile notifications

- 82% of travellers are swayed by discounts (offers 76%; upgrades 73%)

- 80.54% of consumers would find offers relevant to their current location useful77.92% of consumers would like an email reminder for a previously looked at holiday if it falls in price

And a handful of recommendations are to:

- Test, test, test:That's the most effective tool for increasing conversions

- Keep it simple: Reduce the number of pages in the path to purchase, ensure call centres answer promptly and that mobile sites are optimised

- Personalise with a capital P: If you do you will see an increase in conversions

- Wield influence with social media: It's second only to friends and family when it comes to influencing people so make it beautiful and shareable

- Support the multichannel: Advertising is necessary as sharing images on social media will not convert alone. Use native advertising in each channel, followed by retargeted advertising

- Gather data and show evidence: If your customers are taking up offers and ancillaries, know what those are so that future offers can be optimised and coordinated with social media. You need to be clear from the start that the brand site always offers the best deal and back this up with evidence.

More information on the report at EyeForTravel

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8 ways to dominate your hotels direct bookings

July 22, 2015

1. Use a commission-free booking engine: There are many low-cost, well-designed booking engines these days. It simply does not make sense to pay the same high commission on your own direct bookings that you have paid for the past ten years. Removing commissions from reservations made on your own website is the only way to make your direct channel worth it. It’s time to retire booking engine commission fees.

2. Mobile bookings:Getting your website and booking engine mobile optimized is easier than ever. If your current booking engine is not mobile optimized, switch today to one that is. Every day you wait, you lose up to 38% of your possible direct reservations.

3. The Billboard Effect: It seems counterintuitive, but you will increase direct reservations by listing inventory on OTAs. It’s smart to list at least a small segment of your inventory on OTAs to enjoy this phenomena. The more OTAs where you list your inventory, the more direct traffic you will get. Choose a channel manager that has many integrations. Favor those with niche marketplaces that suit your property best.

Get the full story at Cloudbeds

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To bid or not to bid on hotel brand terms

July 22, 2015

A recent study from Bing Ads focuses on this topic for the travel sector. It suggests that without ads, the organic listing receives 61% of available clicks and the volume of clicks increased by 27% when brand ads were present. While having a brand ad present does cannibalize some of the clicks the organic listing would have received anyway, if no brand ad is present, competitors receive 40% clicks versus only 12% with the ad present.

Looking at our clients on Google, which holds a market share of over 90% of searches across our clients, the numbers look a bit more sinister. When no brand ad is present, organic listings receive 30 – 40% of available clicks, with 60 – 70% of clicks going to other organic listings or paid ads by the OTAs. However, with a brand ad present, hotels are able to capture 60 – 70% of available clicks.

So how do you get the most out of your brand campaigns? A shift in mind-set is needed to fundamentally change the way you look at your marketing expenditure.

Get the full story at Net Affinity

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Google Hotel Finder improved interface going live?

July 22, 2015

Search Engine Roundtable reports on its own observations and those of others that can now see the new interface - although it does not seem to be fully rolled out yet.

For the moment, the interfaces seams to be limited to US searches. Searches in Europa a still served by the old version Google Hotel Finder.

Get the full story at Search Engine Roundtable

Read also "Google Hotel Finder adds direct hotel booking" and "Google Hotel Finder finally ready to fly?"

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Why there’s no escaping the ‘Trivago Guy’

July 22, 2015

Additionally, the spot "Compare Prices," was ranked as the No. 4 top spending ad of 2014 by Comparatively, Priceline spent $53.6 million on measured media for its Kayak service in 2014.

"That's kind of an aggressive market place and unless you're upfront with consumers, throughout the year, you're easily forgotten about," said Cormach Moore, a founding partner at Noah London Agency, who worked on a London Underground campaign for Trivago. (The TV spots, however, are done in-house.)

Jon Eichelberger, regional manager and head of business development and strategy in North America for Trivago, cited the summer travel season as one reason for the surge in advertisements. One place that the increased ads are felt is on Univision, as 21.9% of Trivago's ads appeared on the network since January, reported The Spanish-language ads don't use Trivago Guy and are more travel-oriented.

Get the full story at Advertising Age

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The new uneven airfare playing field

July 22, 2015

They added the first bump in the playing field when most of them went to some degree of "a la carte" pricing for their lowest fares. They unbundled their total fare into a base plus fees for extra features. But, in many cases, different lines unbundled different elements of the service.

Some lines added the next bump by re-bundling service element combinations into different fare levels. The lowest level got nothing beyond a seat on a plane, but the next level up might include a checked bag, earlier boarding or a lower change fee. Only a few OTAs and search engines have the ability to post those individual fare levels.

More recently, Delta announced it would remove its fare displays completely from some big OTAs. This move may be permanent, with Delta's joining Southwest in limiting fare information to third parties. But it could also be a ploy to negotiate lower payments to the several third parties in the online process.

Get the full story at the Chicago Tribune

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DHISCO to open global travel database for college competition

July 22, 2015

The data will be scrubbed of any confidential or competitive information but still will contain vast amounts of material about international hotel rates and travel and booking trends. Prizes ranging from $500 to $1,500 will be awarded to the teams that come up with the best ideas for turning that data into insights and using it to find competitive advantages.

"At DHISCO, we are constantly looking for new ways to engage with our communities, look at new trends and investigate ways to make our travel partners' businesses more competitive," said DHISCO CEO Toni Portmann. "With this partnership, we can have fun while helping students learn about the travel and technology industries."

Steven Cobb, associate dean for administrative affairs at the university's College of Arts and Sciences and director of the Center for Economic Education, came up with the idea. "I am always interested in connecting our students with professionals," he said. "This is a great way to engage students from a wide array of departments, from business, economics and logistics to math, marketing, computer science, finance, and technology and hospitality management."

"We are excited to work with DHISCO to provide our students with real-world experience in mining and exploring data," said Nancy J. Hong, executive director for the Innovation Greenhouse at UNT. "Applying what they learn in classrooms to create economic values for the data sets will set them apart from their peers."

Portmann will kick off the event Sept. 10 and be among the company executives who judge the entries. Winners will be announced Nov. 12. Prize categories will include the most creative solution, the idea with the greatest financial impact, best presentation, best use of tools and the best technical approach.

DHISCO provides the technology that connects hotels around the world with online travel agencies, tour operators, traditional travel agents and other travel marketers, enabling consumers and travel professionals to get the best, most accurate rates in real time. The data behind those bookings offers a wealth of insight into travel patterns around the globe.

Related Link: DHISCO

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Amadeus acquires Itesso, adding property management to hotel IT portfolio

July 22, 2015

Amadeus is to expand its technology offering to the hotel industry with the acquisition of Netherlands-based Itesso BV, a provider of cloud-native property management systems (PMS). With its new cloud-native Itesso Enterprise Lodging System (Itesso ELS), the company is leading the industry towards a new generation of property management solutions. Itesso also currently provides PMS technology to 1,800 properties worldwide.

This deal brings Amadeus closer to its vision of bringing together systems known today as Central Reservation Systems (CRS), Property Management Systems (PMS), Revenue Management Systems (RMS), Sales & Catering and others, into a cloud-based community model platform which is fully centered around the guest experience.

This will enable the simplicity of a tightly integrated solution which shares data from all primary hotel applications to give a single view of the guest, and full visibility and control of the business across brands, groups and properties. Customers can subscribe to the full offering, or individual applications for specific use cases, which can plug into hotel proprietary or third party systems – all backed by award-winning customer service and an ‘easy-to-do-business-with’ mentality.

Amadeus believes the industry is ready to adopt this model, and the integration of the cloud-native Itesso ELS accelerates our delivery against this vision and promise. This acquisition marks another step in Amadeus’ path to deliver on its commitment in the hotel IT sector following its acquisition of Newmarket, the US-based groups and events specialist in 2013, and solidified by its agreement to work with InterContinental Hotel Group to develop a next generation GRS (Guest Reservation System).

“Property management technology is a critical component of our strategy and we assessed numerous options to extend our capabilities in this area,” said Paco Perez-Lozao, Senior Vice President of New Businesses at Amadeus. “It was critical that we found a company with the right expertise that was focused on customer success and shared our vision. We believe we have a great cultural fit with Itesso. Their technology stands out, and as a cloud-native PMS can be tightly integrated with our overall offering.”

As a result of the transaction, all of Itesso’s employees, which number approximately 100, including the management team, are expected to move to Amadeus bringing complementary hospitality and propertymanagement expertise built up over 20 years. “The team and I are delighted to become part of Amadeus,” said Bas Blommaart, Managing Director of Itesso. He continued: “Integrating the Itesso ELS as a key module of Amadeus’ cloud-based platform for the hotel industry opens up a whole new spectrum of possibilities for our customers – current and future.”

“A lot of hotels and chains are facing important and challenging decisions over the modernization of their IT platforms,” said Jeff Hiscox, CEO of Newmarket, an Amadeus company. “We’re committed to working with the industry to address these opportunities and meet their needs. The acquisition of Itesso helps us build and deliver solutions which will offer unprecedented visibility, control and functionality to hoteliers so they can provide a simply great experience to their guests.”

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Airbnb launches global product suite for businesses

July 21, 2015

Airbnb, the world’s leading community-driven hospitality company, announced the global expansion of its Business Travel program with the launch of a new product suite aimed at making Airbnb easier to use for companies. Starting today, companies around the world can swiftly sign in to Airbnb and have access to a range of features to support business trips. The suite of tools provides visibility into employee travel itineraries booked through Airbnb, financial reporting data, and central billing to improve the business travel experience for travelers and travel managers.

The global launch of the Business Travel program comes on the heels of 700 percent growth that Airbnb’s Business Travel program has experienced over the past year. Since the program’s launch last July, more than 250 companies have joined Airbnb’s Business Travel program, including Google, TBWA, Twilio, and SoundCloud.

“Our employees worldwide appreciate the choice and flexibility that Airbnb listings provide them when they’re on the road — whether for conferences, meetings, or team offsites. It's great that Googlers can easily access Airbnb's wide range of accommodations as they make their travel plans,” said Darragh Ormsby, Global Travel Manager, Google.

"As an agency, we are huge fans of Airbnb and have been using their site to book accommodations for years. We are very excited about the new dashboard tool and are looking forward to rolling it out within our organization. Not only will it help streamline the booking process for business travel, but it will ultimately help us better manage invoices, expenses, and stays on a single web-based platform," said Joe Basso, Budget Director at TBWA\CHIAT\DAY.

“As a global company with offices in Berlin, San Francisco, New York, and London, we expect many of our employees to book business trips in 2015, and Airbnb's new solution provides us with a great set of tools. Having this type of added visibility into past, present, and future trips allows us to improve our employee experience while they are traveling,” said Caoimhe Keogan, VP People, SoundCloud.

“With employees around the globe, Airbnb Business Travel helps us better support our team when they are on the road,” said Kelly Cammer, Travel Manager for Twilio. “Not only are we able to get better insight into how and when our employees are using Airbnb, but travelers are able to choose a place that feels like home at a price that fits our travel budgets.”

Airbnb Business Travel helps companies of all sizes cater to the diverse travel needs of their employees. The free dashboard can be up and running in a matter of minutes and employees can opt in to book Airbnb’s and expense them directly back to the business. The streamlined and integrated payment system allows small businesses in particular a way to offer a wider array of accommodations for their employees’ business travel and receive reporting on employee spend.

The Product is comprised of three components — the Activity Tab, the Reporting Tab, and the Employees Tab — as well as central billing and financial reporting data to help serve travel managers with:

Activity Tab: Cataloging current and upcoming employee trips, including trip dates, location, date booked, trip status, number of people in each party, and an interactive map.

Reporting Tab: Collecting and managing booking reports for the entire organization. Exporting financial data and reports.

Employees Tab: Managing approved and pending employees who have been permitted to book business travel using Airbnb.

Companies that sign up for Airbnb’s Business Travel program between now and September 1, 2015 will be eligible for a special promotion. Business travelers at enrolled companies will receive $50 in Airbnb credit to use towards their first corporate travel booking.

To find out more about Business Travel on Airbnb, please refer to the program website:

Read also "How Uber and Airbnb Are Winning Over Business Travelers in 9 Charts" at Skift

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Hoteliers share thoughts on competing with Airbnb

July 21, 2015

1. David Hart, President & CEO of Hart Hotels: “Airbnb has certainly gained a foothold in the industry and is a growing segment of lodging inventory. We’re reacting to its growth as we do with any other competitor in keeping our standards, service, cleanliness and product quality razor-sharp. Our hotels were developed based on a specific price point and we work very hard to maintain and gradually increase that price point over time by creating a great price/value proposition.”

2. Larry Korman, President of AKA: “With the current hotel boom in places like New York City, some are saying that the future of hospitality is extended stay – the revenues of a hotel with the limited-service low costs of a residence. According to researcher Mark Skinner of The Highland Group, in London, there has been a major growth in serviced residences and they now comprise over 40% of the market.”

Get the full story at USA Today

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July 21, 2015

The move has occurred in response to “increasingly spontaneous bookers” looking for late hotel deals, and a growing trend of people making bookings from mobile devices. said it has seen the proportion of traffic to its site via mobile devices increase by 25% since 2013 – with more than half of all visitors to the site coming through that channel – and cited that traffic through its mobile app is more than 80% higher than in May 2013.

The company has also found that 40% of rooms booked through its mobile app are for stays on the same day, with almost 53% for stays within the next 48 hours.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Infographic: The State of Travel Marketing 2015

July 21, 2015

In 2014 over 1.1 billion tourists travelled abroad and this number is expected to increase by 3-4% in 2015. These figures suggest that the travel industry is booming, but travel marketers still have various obstacles to overcome when promoting destinations and package deals.

In JBH's latest infographic with Smart Insights and SimilarWeb the company explores the state of travel marketing in 2015 – providing data on global travel spending, insights into traveller behaviour and examine key channels and trends marketers need to utilise in 2015.

Get the full story at JBH

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Peninsula draws attention to new mobile experience with exclusive offerings

July 21, 2015

The Peninsula Hotels only recently introduced the mobile-optimized Web site and is clearly looking to draw consumers’ attention to its upgraded services. By offering exclusive deals and discounts, The Peninsula Hotels will likely prompt consumers to remember its Web site when booking their next vacation.

The Peninsula Hotels has been putting more effort into its social and mobile presence for a number of years. For example, Peninsula Hotels created its first general Twitter and Instagram handles with a brand-wide social post on the local properties in just 2014.

Each individual Peninsula location had its own social media pages, but this was the first time that the general brand of Peninsula Hotels hosted its own Instagram and Twitter. The decision to broaden its social media presence will likely help the brand gain more attention, especially among the younger generations of guests.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Factors that can dramatically change consumer’s feelings about their hotel stay

July 21, 2015

Guests’ perceptions of a hotel have a strong impact on whether they will recommend a property to friends or stay with the same brand again, so it is in a hotel’s best interest to cater to their customers’ needs from booking to check-out.

“Hotels that proactively meet guest needs have the ability to create a positive guest experience,” said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power, Westlake Village, CA.

“While service recovery is extremely important in the hotel industry, it’s most effective when the entire guest experience is a positive one,” he said. “Hotel staff members need to maintain a proper balance between proactively addressing needs and responding to problems effectively.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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TravelClick expands partnership with TripAdvisor

July 21, 2015

TripConnect instant booking makes it possible for independent hotels to generate bookings directly on TripAdvisor. TravelClick is now a certified TripConnect Premium Partner.

TripConnect instant booking is a powerful new way for independent properties to leverage the world’s largest travel site to acquire more bookings directly and to manage the relationship with their guest from the moment the reservation is made. Instant booking enables a seamless hotel booking experience without leaving the TripAdvisor site. The reservations are delivered to the hotel, powered by TravelClick’s iHotelier® central reservation system.

Through TravelClick’s Premium Partner certification, its independent hotel clients will now be able to acquire bookings directly from their property page on TripAdvisor. Properties pay a commission for bookings after the guest has completed their stay.

“TravelClick helps hoteliers generate more revenue by providing access to customer demand through our unique partnerships,” said Scott Koehler, Senior Vice President, Product & Operations of TravelClick. “Expanding our relationship with TripAdvisor will provide more opportunities for hotels to drive direct bookings from TripConnect instant booking.”

“TripConnect instant booking is a major focus for us because it provides hoteliers with the ability to both market and generate direct bookings for their property directly through TripAdvisor,” said Maud Larpent, Director, Direct Connect Development, TripAdvisor. “We're pleased to be collaborating with TravelClick to make this product available to those hoteliers around the world who rely on TravelClick to manage their demand strategy to drive revenue.”

Related Link: TravelClick

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Online hotel review trends 2015

July 21, 2015

1. Reviews everywhere: Reviews are a must-have for any site or app trying to sell hotel rooms. Descriptions and hotel stars simply cannot relay the same level of trust.

2. More details about review & reviewer: The context in which the review is created plays a more important role.

3. Less ratings: Many sites have reduced the number of different ratings to just the essential ones.

Get the full story at Olery

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Why hotels must make room for innovation

July 20, 2015

Commercializing new ideas means rethinking, reinventing and modifying the status quo—it’s not about what worked yesterday.

This all sounds great - and that’s why this industry and so many others talk a good game around innovation. But Cathy Enz, Professor of Innovation & Dynamic Management at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, question whether they mean it, or whether they know what innovation truly entails. The thing that no one talks about is that innovation is hard work.

The business franchise model is a big barrier to innovation. Franchisees are not locked into exclusivity. This creates a diffusion of innovation and loose treatment of intellectual property. Essentially owners can incorporate the best innovations from any of the companies into any of their properties.

Get the full story at Accenture

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Mobile and the travel consumer

July 20, 2015

Summer is in full swing and according to the U.S. Travel Association, the busiest travel days of the year are "Fridays, June, July and August." Add in the occasional weather delay, and efforts to extend the weekends a day or two, and more likely than not, most of us will face a few bad travel days. As a result, more and more Americans will turn to their mobile devices to navigate life's little bumps and accomplish nearly everything while on the road.

But as is so often the case, brand investments in the mobile channel lag actual consumer behavior and way too many companies are under-investing. In fact, most marketers eyed mobile with uncertainty and trepidation when it first emerged on their radar several years ago.

Doing so, many marketers chose to treat it as a separate channel, with its own small budget, plans, and resources. As a result, most marketers' mobile efforts were limited in scope and included building a mobile-friendly website to essentially check the box.

Get the full story at ClickZ

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PwC Hospitality Directions: Spotlight on connected devices

July 20, 2015

It further details what operators can do to enhance a connected guest's experience to stay competitive in this evolving landscape.

With 75 percent of mobile users using smartphones by the end of 2014, hotel operators are well advised to take advantage of the benefits they can provide their guests. Those who don't will cede valuable ground not only to traditional competitors, but also to new entrants with more flexible standards. We discuss how to develop a mobile strategy that encompasses:

- Guest profiles
- Personalized stay
- Social listening
- Privacy preferences

Read the full story at PwC (PDF 807 KB)

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Disruption equals opportunity for tech entrepreneurs, says Cornell panel

July 20, 2015

In addition to the cloud, businesses need support from the crowd—that is, the business has to find products and services that meet consumers' needs. Highlights of the roundtable are presented in a report from the Center for Hospitality Research (CHR), "Utility and Disruption: Technology for Entrepreneurs in Hospitality," by Mona Anita K. Olsen and Kelly McDarby. Olsen, who chaired the roundtable, is an assistant professor at the SHA, where McDarby is a senior. The report is available from the CHR at no charge.

As they outlined the possibilities created by the cloud, roundtable participants examined the opportunities for entrepreneurs to break into established markets using mobile devices in remote and shared office spaces, streamlining documents and systems to prevent redundancy, and decreasing operating and switching costs while minimizing the need for established infrastructure.

Olsen cautioned that businesses must do more than just use the cloud. "We need to focus on adding value by more effectively using the cloud, making a difference by continuing to foster innovation and disruption, and remaining open to possibilities to adjust operations via cloud-based applications," she said. "Entrepreneurs and existing brands will also find ways to prosper globally by embracing mobile computing."

Get the full story at Hotel Online

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Class-action suit charges GDSs with collusion

July 20, 2015

The 104-page suit, filed on July 14 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, centers its allegations on contracts the GDS companies entered into with airlines in 2006, after the DOT stopped regulating distribution systems. Those contracts require airlines to make all of their flight offerings available on each of the three GDSs, the suit says. They also prohibit airlines from selling flights at lower costs through their own distribution systems or through other channels. In addition, airlines cannot levy surcharges on travel agents for using a GDS rather than a less costly alternative.

The result of those contractual constraints, says that suit, is that Amadeus, Travelport and Sabre, which together account for more than 99% of the GDS market in the U.S., have been able to charge "supracompetitive" fees that have led to higher ticket prices for airline passengers.

"By requiring fares available through a GDS to be priced at parity, regardless of the distribution channel, the contractual restraint eliminates price competition among the defendants, neutralizes the potential of lower-cost entrants and stems the shift of booking to the airlines' own websites, thereby insulating the GDS fees from competitive pressure," the complaint alleges.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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The new rules of family travel

July 20, 2015

Moms, dads, grandma and grandpa all want to expose their kids to new cultures and experiences. And because the economy is so strong for so many people, family travelers plan to travel more frequently in the coming year as families are less concerned about the economy and their job security.

While Mom used to be the sole decision maker, the kids having a more influential role in planning where families go than ever before. They’re using technology to each other and share their trip experiences. So it’s only natural for those kids to desire visiting a specific place after being influenced by their peers.

That’s a strong observation that should get hoteliers thinking about how to leverage social media not just to the guests that are paying for the stay but those teenagers with their heads stuck in the screens. They’ve got a stronger voice than mom and dad in many instances.

Get the full story at Hotel Interactive

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HeBS Digital wins big with 8 IMA Awards, including 3 best-in-class

July 20, 2015

All of the winning websites were built using HeBS Digital’s proprietary content management system technology, the smartCMS. Empowering these properties to have complete control over their textual, visual and promotional content, the smartCMS also features responsive/adaptive design for the three screens, an innovative smart personalization engine and one-to-one-marketing capabilities, reservation abandonment prevention technologies, and enhanced merchandising functionality to highlight promotional offers and packages throughout the site.

HeBS Digital took home the following Best-in-Class IMA Awards, the highest available honor:

- Red Lion Hotels, Best-in-Class in Hotel/Resort Category
- The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Best-in-Class in Hotel/Resort Category
- Turpin Meadow Ranch, Best-in-Class in Hotel/Resort Category

HeBS Digital won the following IMA Awards for Outstanding Achievement:

- Cosmopolitan Hotel, Outstanding Achievement in Hotel/Resort Category
- Hotel Wales, Outstanding Achievement in Hotel/Resort Category
- The Colonnade Hotel, Outstanding Achievement in Hotel/Resort Category
- The Renwick, Outstanding Achievement in Hotel/Resort Category
- The Resort at Pedregal, Outstanding Achievement in Hotel/Resort Category

“Winning these prestigious awards is a testament of our unwavering mission to deliver top revenue-generating hotel websites with striking design, engaging visual and textual content, and unsurpassed content management technology via our smartCMS,” said Max Starkov, President & CEO of HeBS Digital.” I continue to be so proud of our talented team of programmers, developers and designers who worked together to develop these award-winning sites. We share in this success with our hotel clients whose partnership has made this possible.”

The recognition – granted by the Interactive Media Awards – recognizes that each project met and surpassed the standards of excellence that comprise the post professional work on the web. The IMA Awards are based on excellencein design, usability, and innovation in technical features, standards compliance and content.

Related Link: HeBS Digital

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Live Webinar: Hotel pay-per-click (PPC) trends & tips

July 20, 2015

But given the ever-changing landscape of PPC and increasing challenges, it can be difficult to consistently provide a high return on advertising spends.

In this 1-hour live webinar hosted by O’Rourke, you’ll learn about 2 of the latest and greatest challenges faced by hotel marketers in their PPC campaigns. Then we’ll teach you 11 tips you can start using right away to maximize performance on your hotel PPC campaigns.

Register with us anyway, and we’ll send you a link to download the presentation.

Click here to register

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Hotels have minimal representation amongst most popular travel apps

July 16, 2015

New data from the June Travel Analytics' Monthly iPhone Travel App Tracker – covering 150 individual countries – indicates severe regionality of travel apps which are most popular in Europe accounting for 5.5% of the most popular free applications whereas the category accounts for just 1.6% in Africa.

The data should help travel companies create more targeted global distribution strategies with appeal to local markets. One key facet, however, is nearly universal across the globe - travel apps are seen as a local-first apps. The most popular apps are navigation - Maps.ME appeared in 100% of countries each week in June. Other popular apps include Uber, Yelp and Foursquare – all appearing the most frequently across the 150 countries analyzed. For hotels and airlines competing to reach connected travelers the lack of momentum placed on their apps should be concerning as ever more resources are invested in developing applications.

In fact, of the 25 most popular apps 8 were OTAs (Airbnb,,, Expedia, Kayak, trivago, Hotel Tonight and momondo), 2 were airline apps (Lufthansa, United) and 0 were hotel apps. The dominance of OTAs, combined with the lack of branded hotel and airline apps demonstrate how iPhone owners want to book travel experiences and are putting OTAs in a position of power on the mobile device. This will be exploited as more consumers in more countries begin using mobile devices for travel bookings.

According to Joshua Martin, Chief Researcher of the Application Strategy group, "While the travel category may be less popular in most emerging markets, companies should see this not as a challenge but as an opportunity. Applications and smartphones are the way that many of the next billion internet users will first come in contact with these well-known travel brands which present an opportunity for customer acquisition. Ensuring apps are regional and country specific, speak to various global audiences and provide a quality experience are essential during these first run branding exercises."

The June tracker will be released across several vertical markets and track – on an ongoing monthly basis – changes to various categories across the globe. Subsequent trackers – to be published in mid-July - will look at entertainment and health and fitness.

Download the full report at Strategy Analytics (free registration)

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Expedia reveals world’s best-reviewed hotels

July 16, 2015

The 2015 class of Insiders' Select hotels reflects more than two million customer Verified Reviews. Verified Reviews have been confirmed by Expedia as linked to a traveler who booked a stay at that hotel on The winning hotels were called out as those that consistently deliver value, in the form of competitive pricing, pristine amenities and superior customer service, and by maintaining a minimum guest review score of 4.7 out of 5.

This year's list of top 10 hotels features an array of global destinations, from Bermuda to Italy to Japan. The picturesque Royal Palm Hotel, a 4-star property in Bermuda, tops the list, followed by Calenga Apartments in gorgeous Dubrovnik, Croatia. US hotels accounting for 50% of the top list of 650 properties, up from 37% in 2014.

The top 10 hotels in the 2015 Insiders' Select list are:

1. Royal Palms Hotel, Bermuda
2. Calenga Apartments, Croatia
3. Pumilio Mountain & Ocean Hotel, Costa Rica
4. Woolleys Classic Suites, United States
5. Dormy Inn Sapporo Annex, Japan
6. B+B Edinburgh, United Kingdom
7. Hotel Panorama, Italy
8. Santhiya Koh Phangan Resort & Spa, Thailand
9. Hotel Orion Motobu Resort & Spa, Japan
10. Best Western Premier Weinebrugge, Belgium

"The simple fact is, every traveler is looking for value out of their hotel experience," said John Morrey, Vice President and General Manager, "Value can be defined in many ways by different people. But when you aggregate that feedback, you come away with a list of hotels that simply do it right, day in and day out. For Expedia, when we share a summary of real reviews penned by real hotel customers, we are giving travelers the data they need to make booking decisions."

Get the full story at Expedia Insiders Select

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Millennials and affluent travelers fuel 20 percent growth in Chinese outbound travel

July 16, 2015

According to's latest major annual study, tech-savvy, younger and more affluent Chinese form a substantial part of the 20 percent growth in outbound mainland Chinese travellers, reaching 107 million in 2014. The report also highlights the need for hoteliers to cater to Chinese travellers' needs such as Chinese-speaking staff, Chinese-language tourist guides and dedicated websites.

Credible insights from travellers, hoteliers and proprietary data

The fourth edition of the™ Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) provides detailed insights into how outbound travel movements by mainland Chinese are impacting the global travel industry. It combines data from more than 3,000 Chinese international travellers and 1,500 accommodation partners globally with's own data and other third-party research.

Increasing influence of 'millennials'

The CITM identifies the growing influence of Gen Y travellers - the so-called tech-savvy 'millennials' aged 18 to 35. Fifty-nine percent of hoteliers surveyed say they've experienced an increase in Chinese guests aged 35 or under in the past year and they expect this trend to continue to grow. The growth is especially strong in the Asia Pacific region, where 78 percent of hoteliers reported an increase.

The rise of the Chinese luxury traveller

Another feature of this year's results is the growing financial muscle of the top 10 percent of travellers in terms of overseas travel spend. On 13,800 RMB (£1,467) per day including accommodation, they parted with four times more money than that of the average traveller, who spent 3,324 RMB (£353). However, this pales into insignificance in comparison with the top five percent of spenders, who shelled out over six times more than the average 20,896 (£2,221), indicating the emergence of a 'super-luxury' class.

Tech-savvy with a preference for booking online

Using the internet to research and book overseas trips has become the norm for Chinese travellers, while the use of mobile phones for planning and booking their travel has skyrocketed. In the past 12 months, 80 percent of Chinese travellers have used an online device including mobiles, desktops and laptops to plan and book travel, compared with only 53 percent in 2013. Half of all Chinese international travellers now use apps on their smart phones to plan and book trips, up from just 17 percent the year prior. responds to the rise of Chinese international travellers

Recognising the growing importance of the Chinese travel market, launched a Chinese-language website in 2009. A range of bespoke apps for smart phones and tablets is also available in simplified Chinese, while popular Chinese third-party online payment solution Alipay have been introduced as a payment option for Chinese customers.

Abhiram Chowdhry, Vice President and Managing Director Asia Pacific for the brand, said: "'s latest report reveals several themes emerging, not least the expanding influence of Chinese 'millennial' travellers, an increasingly more affluent Chinese traveller, and the explosion in the use of technology, in particular mobile, as part of the accommodation research and booking process. Many Hoteliers have already recognised the benefits of free Wi-Fi as well as Chinese-language information and booking websites."

Other key findings of CITM:

- According to the number of rooms booked on the Chinese website in 2014, the top three countries which Chinese travellers visited were the USA, Thailand and Hong Kong. The UK featured in 12th place, however positioned in third place out of the top 10 European destinations to visit, behind France and Germany in first and second place respectively.

- Australia, Japan and France are the top three countries Chinese travellers intend to visit in next 12 months.

- According to booking data, in New Zealand, Sweden and Argentina, Chinese travellers were the biggest spenders on hotel accommodation in 2014.

- The top 10 percent of Chinese travellers spent an average of 2,723 RMB (£289) per night on hotels alone.

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Skyscanner enters Japanese market with Yahoo joint venture

July 16, 2015

The companies will put in a total of $2.5 million to launch the joint venture. Skyscanner will hold a 51% stake and Yahoo Japan will own the remaining 49%.

Skyscanner will provide its technology to power flight search results.

Yahoo Japan will promote the travel search engine to its huge web audience in the country, accounting for 60 billion monthly page views across its search engine and digital media sites.

The joint venture will run independently but both sides will second executives to Tokyo to start the business. A chief executive has yet to be appointed, the Financial Times reported.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Fully re-designed launched

July 16, 2015

The redesign is the latest of many initiatives underway for Sheraton 2020, a bold 10-point plan to position Sheraton as the premier global hotel brand of choice, everywhere.

"More than ever, a compelling and enriched digital presence is necessary to win the hearts and minds of consumers around the world," said Adam Aron, Starwood CEO on an interim basis. "With millions of visitors annually, we naturally turned to to first showcase the new visual identity for Sheraton as we continue to put the spotlight back on Starwood's largest and most global brand."

Leading several design updates set to roll out, features a refined brand logo, as well as crisp fonts and bold backgrounds with a rich color palette that underscore the luxury and heritage of Sheraton. Throughout the site, vivid hotel and destination imagery depict aspirational trips for both business and leisure. These rich still-life shots evoke a sense of place and bring to life the types of experiences Sheraton guests can expect when visiting the brand's best-in-class properties worldwide.

"Sheraton offers guests a high-end, contemporary experience at our hotels around the world, and it is important that our brand aesthetic have the same modern, sophisticated look and feel," said Dave Marr, Global Brand Leader, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. "As we begin to roll out the new identity for Sheraton, we have first launched a redesigned website that features fresh, editorial-inspired content, more intuitive booking and search methods, and enhanced back-end technology to better engage consumers and drive revenue to our hotels globally."

"Our goal for the new Sheraton visual identity was to reinforce the brand's position as a leader and trusted voice in global travel," said Mike Tiedy, SVP, Global Brand Design and Innovation at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. "The new aesthetic for Sheraton is more modern, approachable and engaging, designed to appeal to savvy guests and consumers around the world."

Explore the Latest Sheraton Destinations

Beyond the sleek new look, the site's flexible and modular framework provides a more user-friendly layout optimized for desktop, mobile and tablet platforms. A new About section outlines the Sheraton brand's various initiatives and service offerings at its more than 435 properties worldwide.

"We know our guests love Sheraton and want easy access to the signature offerings and elevated guest experiences of this iconic brand," said Julie Atkinson, Senior Vice President, Global Digital for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. "The refreshed site reveals improved navigation and functionality that gives its visitors easy access to detailed and compelling property content, with the option to socialize across key networks."

Additional benefits of the refresh include:

- Easier booking process with improved Find Reservation technology
- Accessible Search Again menus throughout the entire site
- Dynamic images and content to increase conversation and engage visitors as they search or book
- User-friendly updated maps with Add Location feature that offers property details while exploring the map

As part of the refresh, the Sheraton Store website - where guests can purchase everything from bedding to bath amenities - has also received a design-forward facelift that offers more personalized and tailored merchandising capabilities.

Enhancing the Digital Experience

The new site launch is part of Sheraton 2020, a comprehensive 10-point plan revealed in June 2015 designed to put Sheraton Hotels and Resorts firmly back into the global spotlight. A nod to the plan's clear five year vision, Sheraton 2020 also includes a new $100 million Sheraton-focused marketing campaign; the launch of the new premier tier, Sheraton Grand; continuous innovation of the Sheraton guest experience; an unwavering commitment to service excellence; the implementation of revenue and profit-driving initiatives to benefit owners and developers; and a goal of opening more than 150 new Sheraton hotels worldwide by 2020.

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There is no mobile customer

July 16, 2015

We are now living, working, innovating and selling in a world in which our best customers are making important decisions from wherever they happen to be at any given moment. We call that “mobile shopping,” and we develop strategies to accommodate our “mobile customers.”

This way of looking at consumers made sense for a long time in Internet years, but it is too primitive a foundation for today’s online marketing strategy. This is because the whole idea of “selling to your mobile customer” misses two critical details about the modern connected consumer.

As the omnichannel reality of ecommerce sinks in, it has become harder and harder to ascribe any meaningful significance to a particular mobile channel’s conversion rate by itself.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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HeBS Digital, Google, and HSMAI Greater New York Chapter to host the 3rd Annual 2015 travelers minds

July 16, 2015

The title of this year’s conference is “Creating Meaningful Digital Relationships that Drive Revenues”.

Industry-leading hoteliers and marketers will discuss trending issues and innovative strategies aimed at increasing revenue via the direct online channel, shifting share away from third-party distributors, and capturing additional market share. This year’s event has extra significance for NYC hoteliers given recent global economic unrest and its negative impact on hotel revenue worldwide. Hoteliers will benefit greatly from the knowledge of this year’s diverse panel of industry experts and will walk away with actionable tactics they can use to maximize revenue during the second half of 2015.

More information and registration at HeBS Digital

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10 essential steps to managing your hotel’s online reputation

July 16, 2015

1. Understand the importance of online reputation management

Reputation management is the process of monitoring, managing and acting on feedback in online reviews and using it to drive higher awareness, guest satisfaction and revenue. As more travelers turn to reviews as part of trip planning and sharing, a positive reputation is critical to the success of hotels.

2. Set reputation objectives and strategies

Set a vision of what you want guests to say about your hotel after they leave. Analyze your ratings and rankings on key review sites, and decide where you should be (objectives) and how you will get there (strategies).

3. Take a team approach

Share your reputation vision, objectives and strategies with staff, and ensure that they understand their role in fulfilling them.

Get the full story at ReviewPro

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Best hotel deal search gets tougher

July 15, 2015

Originally highly fragmented, the OTA marketplace for hotels has consolidated through mergers and acquisitions. Now, according to a recent report, two big OTA corporations, both with multiple brands, control much of the hotel booking space: Priceline, with its subsidiary, controls 62 percent of the European market, and Expedia, which includes Hotwire and Travelocity, controls 70 percent of the U.S. market. Both have also acquired metasearch websites that find prices, but don't make actual sales and instead link to OTA or hotel websites

With that sort of dominance, both are in a position to make life difficult for smaller competitors. They can squeeze hotels for bigger commissions and force them to abandon "price parity" arrangements guaranteeing all comers access to the same pricing. In theory, they could "consolidate" hotel rooms and offer rates even lower than a hotel's advertised rates, although I haven't observed much of that, yet.

Hotels are fighting back with incentives for you to book through their own channels, including limiting "free" Wi-Fi to travelers who book through their own sites, discounted packages and other promotions. They're also offering special deals to members of their loyalty programs. And neither metasearch sites nor OTAs pick up on these deals at all.

Get the full story at the Chicago Tribune

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UK consumer travel spend at highest level for two years, finds study

July 15, 2015

Growth looks set to continue as 43% of UK consumers say that they are more likely to holiday in Europe this year to take advantage of the weaker value of the euro, according to the Barclaycard Spend Report for the second quarter of the year.

However, there is some evidence that the ongoing question mark around Greece’s future in the eurozone is having an impact on travel plans. The study was conducted prior to yesterday’s EU deal on debt restructuring.

Confidence in the European economy fell by three percentage points to 18% in the past week, according to research carried out after the result of the Greek referendum.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

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HotelTonight’s concierge feature highlights possible revenue channels for hotel brands

July 15, 2015

Many hotel brands are now employing their own or third-party concierge solutions to drive room service ordering and easy communication with staff in a bid to personalize guest stays even more (see story).

The ability to order room service will also ramp up in-app sales, an attractive notion to many hotel chains.

Personal concierge features have the added benefit of furthering customer engagement and fostering loyalty for further bookings. This may culminate in becoming a crucial tactic for third-party apps to leverage as they strive to maintain connections with customers and prevent them from hopping from one competitor to another.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

Read also "Hands on with HotelTonight’s new concierge service"

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Airbnb’s new ad campaign is creepy as hell

July 15, 2015

“We took kindness as something that is transformational about staying with an Airbnb host, and working with our agency tried to build a campaign around the value of kindness,” Airbnb chief marketing officer Jonathan Mildenhall says in an interview with Fast Company.

Because a few hundred bucks thrown in the mix makes anyone “kind,” apparently. At least we can now confirm that whoever’s running the Airbnb Twitter account isn’t secretly a murderous stalker.

Get the full story at The Next Web

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