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How technology can deliver a seamless travel experience

August 27, 2015

A seamless travel experience should use technology to put the customer first. It should close the gaps between a previously siloed process, via an accessible online user interface.

After all, if a seamless process is available, why would a consumer choose to book travel through a business which doesn’t communicate with any other element of his or her journey? The excitement of booking a holiday may be lost after the fourth separate form they have to fill out to book the flights, hotel, holiday transport and tickets to local amenities.

Seamless travel should offer a door to door service, with one application guiding consumers from their homes to the airport and finally their hotel. No customer is likely to download 27 separate airline apps, the app for every airport they visit, as well as an app for each hotel they stay in. Instead, the industry needs to collaborate in order to make the process simple and streamlined for customers.

Get the full story at InformationAge

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Travel info sites see most mobile traffic

August 27, 2015

June 2015 data from comScore indicated that big-ticket UK travel sites - taking in package holiday providers and airline carriers - saw much more traffic from desktop platforms. Informational sites, on the other hand—including review sites and real-time travel info - were dominated by mobile traffic.

Earlier 2015 research from comScore, meanwhile, suggested that even when those big-ticket providers were visited on mobile devices, the experience tended to be desktop-influenced; that is, browser-based viewing was prevalent.

Mobile is, without doubt, vital to the health of any travel service provider. However, quite how to approach such a strategy will depend on the service you’re offering.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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Hotel fees and surcharges forecast to hit $2.47 billion in 2015

August 27, 2015

Fees and surcharges emerged as a common industry practice around 1997. Another phase for fees and surcharges was when energy surcharges were introduced for a large number of hotels in 2000.

Examples of fees and surcharges include: resort or amenity fees, early departure fees, reservation cancellation fees, internet fees, telephone call surcharges, some business center fees (including charges for receiving faxes and sending/receiving overnight packages), room service delivery surcharges, mini-bar restocking fees, charges for in-room safes, automatic gratuities and surcharges, and baggage holding fees for guests leaving luggage with bell staff after checking out of a hotel but before departure, and charges for unattended parking. For groups there have been increased charges for bartenders and other staff at events, special charges for set-up and breakdown of meeting rooms, and administrative fees for master folio billing.

Get the full story at Lodging Magazine

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Why do I have to pay for distribution?

August 27, 2015

Lufthansa Group recently announced that on Sept. 1 it would begin adding a €16 surcharge to all tickets booked by travel agents using global distribution systems. The “distributions cost charge” forces corporate customers to make a choice between higher fares and lower service.

Lufthansa argues that the rate disparity among booking channels is justified because costs for using GDSs are several times higher than for other booking methods, such as airline’s online portals. The idea of an agency portal is not a new phenomenon. Many airlines have them today, but few bookings go through them. There’s a reason for that.

What Lufthansa didn’t mention is that agency portals:

- Are not designed to manage high transaction volumes generated by large TMCs.

- Do not offer comparison shopping on competing airlines.

- Lack technical integration with mid- and back-office systems that let companies keep travelers safe, track expenses and influence in-trip buying decisions.

- Cut down travel agent efficiency and productivity, which drives up costs for travel buyers.

Get the full story at Business Travel News

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Most older people cannot relate to travel industry marketing

August 27, 2015

The travel industry is being accused of perpetuating “cringeworthy stereotypes” when seeking to attract lucrative older travellers. The claim comes from Bronwyn White, co-founder of Sydney-based travel research firm

Putting forward five changes required to market to senior travellers, she claims most older people cannot relate to travel industry marketing. This is despite the older demographic having more disposable income and free time.

Following a study of the travel habits of thousands of older travellers, she shares five suggestions for the travel trade.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

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Google’s new Local Pack dominates search results

August 27, 2015

On August 7th, Google rolled out a seemingly small but incredibly significant update to the manner in which it displays local businesses within its web results.

Instead of the traditional 7-pack map results, Google updated its format to display a greatly reduced (but expandable) 3-pack local listing format (aka Google Local Snack Pack).

What is most significant about this update though is not the change in the display format itself, but the frequency with which the new 3-pack local listings show up and their visibility in the search results, compared to the previous 7-pack of results.

Get the full story at seoClarity

Read also "Google Local Pack down to 3 listings, address & phone number removed"

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Hotels gearing up for 2016: Strong advance bookings provide positive long-term outlook

August 27, 2015

“Savvy hoteliers and smart travelers are playing the long game, according to the latest TravelClick data,” said John Hach, Senior Industry Analyst at TravelClick. “While there are some short-term dips in demand, capturing strong advance bookings is a best practice for opportunistic hoteliers to increase RevPAR well into 2016. However, it will be interesting to see if and how the recent stock market volatility impacts short-term and advance bookings.”

Twelve-Month Outlook (August 2015 – July 2016)

For the next 12 months (August 2015 – July 2016), overall committed occupancy* is up 2.2 percent when compared to the same time last year. ADR is up 2.9 percent based on reservations that are currently on the books. Transient bookings (individual reservations that are made by business and leisure travelers) are up 1.5 percent year-over-year, and ADR for this segment is up 3.4 percent. When broken down further, the transient leisure (discount, qualified and wholesale) segment is showing occupancy gains of 4.0 percent and ADR gains of 2.5 percent. The transient business (negotiated and retail) segment occupancy is down 1.6 percent, but ADR is up 4.9 percent. Group segment occupancy is up 2.7 percent, and ADR has increased 1.9 percent, compared to the same time last year.

Get the full story at TravelClick

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Internet of Things impact on the travel and hotel industry

August 27, 2015

Smart sensors in connected devices such as 'smart' thermostats, drop-cams, coffee makers, connected mirrors, robot butlers and smart lightbulbs can work together to automatically personalize environmental conditions for guests based on their proximity and movement patterns. Lighting and temperature can be automatically adjusted based on sensor data from IoT devices, increasing efficiency and eliminating waste. In the airline industry, gate agents can locate late passengers through NFC beacons, expediting departures.

Travelers and guests can experience dramatic improvements in service with the latest 'smart' innovations. Hotels can automatically send electronic key cards to their guests' mobile devices, providing a comprehensive self-check-in and room key service. Smart locks with NFC readers can allow guests to restricted access to facilities on demand for improved security. Moreover, for returning guests, hotels can save room preferences and automatically load them at each visit, ensuring all guests enjoy a consistent, customized experience.

Last but not least, the day-to-day business functions of travel and hotel businesses can be dramatically improved through the automation provided by IoT innovations. Hotels can track supply chains more efficiently through sensor-enabled shipments, allowing them to plan for any contingency and prevent service disruptions to guests. Hotels and airlines can also easily and more cost-effectively deploy security mechanisms in facilities and structures, with centralized management of these IoT-enabled cameras and proximity sensors possible from any desktop or mobile device.

Get the full story at Next Big Thing

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Shifting focus to the most profitable channel

August 26, 2015

Unfortunately, most properties are not maximizing this channel, only converting an average 30-40% of calls. That means there is a lot more revenue potential available for properties who leverage this opportunity.

The online channel and the voice channel should work in tandem. The path to purchase flows from devices to voice, from voice to devices—sometimes multiple times depending on whether the reservation is complicated or of unique importance. A recent Google study reports that among travelers;

- 52% will call a hotel directly from a search to make a reservation
- 50% will call to inquire about promotions, incentives or deals
- 49% will call to ask about or compare pricing

Rather than declining in importance, voice conversions are increasingly critical in this new travel-purchasing model. While the voice channel relies on people, ideally a savvy reservations sales team, conversion rates can be substantially improved if this team has the assistance of the right technology.

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

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Airbnb agrees to collect taxes on rentals in Paris, its biggest market

August 26, 2015

Airbnb announced today that it had reached an agreement with the city of Paris to begin collecting taxes on rentals in that city.

Although the San Francisco-based company had begun collecting taxes in its home city and in Portland, Oregon, the new accord is critical because Paris is Airbnb’s largest market.

For the moment, this more cooperative strategy is paying off for Airbnb, which no doubt hopes the Paris agreement will make it more welcome in this important market. Airbnb’s presence here has not been without its share of critics, as some residents have complained their neighborhoods are shifting from residential to transient tourist destinations because of the company’s service.

Get the full story at VentureBeat

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European cities top for Brits’ summer breaks as pound remains strong

August 26, 2015

More than 40% of the UK’s retail credit and debit card transactions are processed by Barclaycard every month, with the company able to use this data to analyse customer’s spending – and holiday – habits.

It noted that this summer, more customers were favouring cities on the continent, including Paris, which ranked number three in the top 10 list, Dublin (number four), Rome (number five), Amsterdam (number six). Berlin (number eight) and Lisbon (number 10).

New York also proved popular, ranking second in the top 10, up from three last year, while Dubai crept up to number seven - up from nine in the list last year.

Get the full story at TTG Digital

Read also "Travel trends keep Europe tour operators busy" at Travel Agent Central

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Hotel loyalty has reached a critical moment in its evolution

August 26, 2015

At a session titled “Guest loyalty: Fact or fiction?” panelists said hotel loyalty was changing because, as Bashar Wali, president and principal of Provenance Hotels, commented, “we live in a time when consumers are conditioned to be loyal … (but are also) seeking experiences, not to be a statistic.”

“And you’ll see when they check in, their wallets have every loyalty card ever,” Wali added.

Guests often are regarded as “loyal” on their first stay. Such is the desire to have guest profiles on brands’ databases, panelists said. But that’s meaningless to both sides if those guests have no intention to return, or are given no incentive to do so.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Art hotels are cropping up across the U.S.

August 26, 2015

Sometimes, you just want to stare at the walls.

But let's face it, even with a cocktail in hand, the odd abstract paintings and sepia-tone tree photos splashed all over the walls at many hotels aren't much of a visual treat for the weary traveler.

That's where this new crop of artistically inspired hotels comes in, elevating hotel art to gallery or museum status.

Get the full story at CNN and The Australian

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How iOS 9 content blocking will transform the mobile Web

August 26, 2015

Content blockers on iOS are a new type of app that’s able to block incoming content before it’s loaded by the system — it provides a list of sites and scripts to the operating system for blocking. Instead of requiring the browser to process what to block as the page loads, it’s performed on a system level before the page loads which increases speed significantly.

Many websites utilize so-called ‘third-party trackers’ to enable advertising, analytics and other marketing tools to show visitors advertisements.

These tools gather information as you browse the internet to try and show you ads that are relevant to your habits, but often add extra weight that slows down site performance dramatically, increasing load times and causing the browser to sometimes become unstable.

Get the full story at The Next Web

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HeBS Digital joined HSMAI panel discussing hospitality industry digital marketing trends

August 26, 2015

The “End of Summer Check-Up” discussion focused on gained insights and notable digital marketing trends that made an impact on the hospitality and hotel industry in 2015 to-date, as well as upcoming trends through Q4 and into 2016. HeBS Digital was represented on the panel by Emily Ditman, Manager of Digital Marketing. Ditman presented on year-to-date digital trends, including the impact of mobile search on hotel website marketing.

“I’m excited to have been a part of this panel of industry experts, highlighting some of the biggest trends and updates affecting hotel digital marketing strategies thus far in 2015,” Ditman said. “The session reviewed the best ways to capitalize on new trends and revenue-driving opportunities from now through the end of the year, while covering key components of a hotel’s 2016 digital marketing strategy.”

Joining Ditman on the panel was Nicole Ferrer, Corporate Director of Sales & Marketing at Triumph Hotels, and Victoria Fabiana, Agency Development Manager at Google. Included among topics discussed and presented:

- Overview of year-to-date digital events affecting the hospitality and hotel marketing landscape

- Capitalizing on current digital marketing trends for revenue opportunities in Q4

- Digital trend forecasting going into 2016 including

- Case study with actionable insights for hoteliers

- Upcoming revenue-generating advertising initiatives

- Insights from new travel consumer path-to-purchase research

To view the webinar, please visit the HSMAI website

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Social media and travel go hand in hand

August 26, 2015

During vacation research, 55 percent of those surveyed liked pages relating to the trip they were planning. This is a very important touch-point for travel brands, as social media is an important research tool for vacationers. If a brand is able to present itself to a vacationer then it could influence those 33 percent that change hotels, or the 7 percent that change their destination.

Brands can also influence potential customers as they research their potential vacations. Humorous posts nudging readers toward taking vacations, posting breathtaking images, interacting with consumers who reach out, and creating brand advocates are all great ways to engage users and potentially push them toward your brand.

Get the full story at AdWeek

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Five ways to refine your hotel’s comp set

August 25, 2015

1. Understand comp set composition

To start, Hoyt said it’s important to understand the composition of a comp set. According to STR guidelines, a comp set in the United States has as few as three properties (the minimum required) and as many as 29 properties.

No single property or brand can account for more than 40% of total participating room supply, and no single company can account for more than 60% of the total participating room supply, Hoyt said.

The average comp set size is between five and six properties. The average number of times a hotel is named as a competitor is 5.2, and the average number of properties in a primary comp set is 5.4, she said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Think with Google launches Travel Dashboard

August 25, 2015

The data has been designed to help marketers in planning their campaigns. It will be updated quarterly.

For instance, the travel dashboard shows that between January and June 2015, airline direct brand queries rose 19% year-over-year for Delta and 52% year-over-year for Allegiant Air. That’s a sign that those airlines’ search marketing, AdWords, and branding campaigns may be working.

For hotels, search volume on mobile devices increased 49% during the first half of the year, relative to same period a year earlier.

Get the full story at Tnooz and Google's Travel Dashboard

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Has HotelTonight missed its moment?

August 25, 2015

After disclosing more than $81 million in venture funding through early 2014 and attracting a post-money valuation of perhaps $320 million or so, HotelTonight can’t possibly grow fast enough in the face of such competition to bring substantial returns to investors and make a successful exit, critics charge.

But the jury is out and likely won’t issue a verdict on the exit strategy issue for several years, and some admittedly bare bones performance statistics from HotelTonight tell a different story.

Get the full story at Skift

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What’s the next big thing hospitality?

August 25, 2015

Can you imagine where you’ll be in 2020? How about making that same leap in time to forecast the state of the hotel industry?

A panel with Matt Page, associate principal of SB Architects; Isaac Collazo, VP of performance strategy & planning at InterContinental Hotels Group; Ron Swidler, principal at the Gettys Group; and Patrick Bosworth, co-founder and CEO of Duetto a this years Hotel Data Conference offered their views on what the industry will look like by 2020.

What’s the next big thing?

Swidler: “The next big thing is virtual travel. … I was just at a conference in Montreal where I put on some virtual reality goggles and I was sitting with yak herders in a yurt. It was unbelievable. Virtualization is going to create an entire different platform for us as an industry.”

Collazo: “I think the next big thing will be dealing with technology disrupters. … We need to start adopting the consumer practices that the tech companies have shown us.”

Page: “I think it will be the socialization and personalization of the experiences so that the experience is always going to be unique wherever you go and really tied into that culture of wherever it is.”

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Tesla partners with Airbnb for convenient travel charging

August 25, 2015

Tesla is coming together with Airbnb to offer charging stations at a number of Airbnb properties, including 30 luxury locations on the West Coast. This is the beginning of a larger, global initiative that will eventually see charging stations at Airbnb properties around the world.

Airbnb hosts can arrange to have a Tesla charging station delivered to their home and installed for free. Tesla owners looking for properties with charging stations can then search on the site for a location that will meet their needs.

This collaboration will help make Tesla more convenient for frequent travelers who use Airbnb but may be concerned about whether they will have regular access to charging stations. For Tesla, this may spur consumers to purchase vehicles.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Why you should consider marketing via Google Street View Trusted

August 25, 2015

Unlike Street View, the photography is taken by independent local photographers that are trained and certified by Google. The photos are subject to Google quality assurance inspections to verify that the imagery and user experience is of high standard.

Street View Trusted is hosted on Google Maps, however it can be accesses through a number of Google products:

- Google Knowledge Graph via search
- Google Plus
- Google Maps

Throughout the Google ecosystem, Street View Trusted is presented as “See Inside”.

Dan Root, a Street View Trusted photographer from Manchester Business View, shared with Econsultancy the work he has done for Rochdale Town Hall.

Get the full story at Econsultancy

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The future of hotels could be shaped by guest data

August 25, 2015

One panelist likened it to paralysis by analysis—when so much data is available it can freeze the decision-making process.

Smart hoteliers know it’s not about having a large amount of data but having access to the right data. And knowing how to use that data to make the right decisions.

The hotel industry has come a long way in using data to forecast and price more effectively. In fact, the availability of forward-looking data and web-shopping data has pushed revenue strategy to new heights. But the industry has yet to truly capitalize on the availability of data to personalize a guest experience and better connect with guests.

Get the full story at Duetto

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Should more email subject lines be in the form of a question?

August 25, 2015

Campaigns were only included in the sample if they were sent to at least 10,000 recipients.

After starting high in 2011 (10.6%) and quickly slipped below average before bottoming out in 2014 (-11.9%). In 2015, question-based subject lines in our sample are seeing 4.8% more opens on average than non-question subject lines.

It looks like that questions may be performing better this year than last and, as a result, might be worth a shot the next time they fit your team’s marketing messages.

Get the full story at Ryan Solutions

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Business demand for Airbnb surges as company sees record corporate signups

August 24, 2015

Among this roster are Fortune 1000 companies, including Google, who are allowing employees to benefit from Airbnb’s wide range of accommodations available in more than 190 countries.

"We were particularly impressed that Airbnb’s new Business Travel product suite allows you to uncover unique locations for temporary housing, team offsites and conventions where there is an opportunity to build closer working relationships by sharing accommodations in a casual and friendly environment. Like Box, Airbnb is making it easier for business users on the go and we're looking forward to trying out the product and expanding our relationship," said Jeff Mannie, VP, Controller and CAO at Box.

“The corporate community’s response to our Business Travel program has been staggering and confirms our findings that business travelers increasingly want to redefine the business trip,” said Marc McCabe, Business Travel Lead, Airbnb. “The average business travel stay on Airbnb is 6.8 days, which shows how customers are looking for a mix of business and leisure, and often adding a weekend to explore a new destination.”

Airbnb for Business helps companies of all sizes cater to their employees’ diverse travel needs. The program allows business travelers to directly book Airbnb accommodations and automatically expense them back to their employers. The recently introduced suite of travel management tools provide travel managers with visibility into employee travel itineraries, financial reporting data, and centralized billing to improve the business travel experience for all.

Related Link: Airbnb Business Travel

Read also "Startups are hungry for Airbnb's Business Travel tool" at

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What your travel experience will look like in the not-so-distant future

August 24, 2015

The hotel room of the future may look very much like those at The Peninsula Hong Kong. After running an innovation workshop, in 2013 the 300-room luxury hotel introduced completely wired rooms in which every selection, from the TV to the drapes to the temperature, is controlled via tablet computer. (Several of the devices are distributed throughout suites for easy access.) The technology will be introduced at The Peninsula Chicago this fall. In addition, room designers have taken steps to relieve small pains by custom-fitting every drawer, cabinet and closet and labeling each with its contents, so there’s no more wondering where the blow dryer is hiding.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts, which previously announced Botlr, a prototype robotic butler, has developed concept rooms across its portfolio of business-travel-friendly properties. Starwood’s Aloft Hotels plans to allow guests to control room temperature, lighting, alarms and even coffee-making via their own mobile phones. Element is planning smart lighting that automatically illuminates a path to the bathroom when guests get up in the middle of the night, as well as lighting options that will enable jet-lagged travelers to adjust their circadian rhythms. Four Points Hotels will have touchscreen-enabled “smart mirrors” that display news, weather reports and sports scores while guests primp in the morning.

Personalization may also lead to custom minibars, as well as other guestroom spaces. French clothing company Pimkie is selling women’s wear through the closets of Antwerp’s Banks Hotel. Guests who decide to take an article of clothing (or the entire wardrobe) can pay for it during checkout.

Get the full story at Entrepreneur

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Five methods to increasing your RevPAR

August 24, 2015

Method 1: Although considered second nature by most modern revenue leaders, the adoption of length of stay (LOS) restrictions is the still the most effective way to increase revenue per room. To make a length of stay strategy even more effective, try implementing it through rate levels or market segmentation. However, to implement this strategy successfully requires the hotel to understand its booking patterns correctly.

Method 2: Using one of the many hotel industry benchmarking tools, understand your current position within the marketplace. Use this data to identify whether there are opportunities, either in volume or through rate changes.

Method 3: Hotels which tend to offer a variety of different room types can often benefit from reviewing the additional supplements for them which pose superior price points. By doing this, revenue can be increased with little or no impact on the volume of paid upgrades. In other cases it can actually narrow the price difference between room types, increasing the volume to a higher level. By measuring the RevPAR alongside the room type the hotel will be able to measure the success of these supplement changes.

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

Read also "Improve your revenue management - an interview with Kym Kapadia" at michaels & taylor

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Hoteliers embrace the Age of Authenticity

August 24, 2015

Speaking on the opening presidents’ panel at the Southern Lodging Summit at Memphis, Robert Cole of Atlanta-based Hospitality Ventures Management Group said there’s no question the authenticity of an experience is what drives guests.

“Guests want to stay in a hotel that’s connected to the neighborhood, connected to the locale,” said Cole, HVMG’s president and COO.

“Guests are demanding authentic experiences in locations where they’re staying,” added Michael Tall, president and COO of Charlestowne Hotels. “They want to tell a story in their social network. There’s no way we could begin developing something that doesn’t have a story behind it.”

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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A darker side of hypermobility

August 24, 2015

No, it’s not just that most American airlines have all the charm of colonic irrigation by screwdriver. It’s that there are “physiological, psychological, emotional and social costs” for both individuals and societies.

Most business travelers are familiar with jet lag. This study, though, focuses on items such as how (negatively) jet lag influences genes that affect aging. There’s also some evidence that it can turn off genes that influence the immune system, hence leaving your body more open to dropping dead.

Some studies say that business travel is isolating. Any relationships made are short-lived. It affects not only those who travel, but also those who are left behind. The researchers point to one study at the World Bank which showed a 300 percent increase in psychological medical insurance claims by travelers, as compared with non-travelers.

Get the full story at and the University of Surrey in England

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Google Local Pack down to 3 listings, address & phone number removed

August 24, 2015

Also removed are links to Google My Business pages, making Google+ even less relevant than it has become of late. Instead of addresses and phone numbers you’ll now find store hours more prominently displayed in the Google local pack, along with warnings if a location is going to close soon.

While this is a drastic reduction of local search listings, searchers can always click to expand the box and view more local listings — up to 20 per page.

Google’s new local listings will be rolled out worldwide and are currently being seen in US, Europe, UK, Australia, South Africa and Canada.

Get the full story at Search Engine Journal

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Expedia Media Solutions creates choose-your-own-adventure interactive videos to market destinations

August 24, 2015

These videos bring to life the many ways to experience destinations in a playful, visual, immersive and personal way – with content that is fresh and shareable. The film was captured using specially-designed wearable cameras to deliver a truly personal perspective, and help viewers feel like they are there.

Kicking off in mid-August and running through the end of December, the Bermuda Tourism interactive video aims to immerse travelers into this vast and beautiful island destination that is rich with culture and activities just waiting for exploration. The video campaign is designed to increase tourism interest, specifically aiming to appeal to a younger demographic, while bringing to life the island’s hidden gems and beauty. Video viewers can choose from three initial ways to enjoy Bermuda - Chill, Mix it Up and Thrill - and watch as their ideal day plays out before them. The ads are filmed in first-person as if you are the one spelunking in an underwater cave to a spa oasis, cliff jumping in the clear blue waters or taking in the local culture and flavors of the nightlife. Viewers can share the video with their friends, and download the itinerary with info on each location.

The campaign features landing pages on Travelocity and Expedia in the US, as well as on Expedia in Canada and the UK and can be viewed at

Visit Denmark launched its campaign in June with a focus on Copenhagen as a vivacious city rich in culinary, historical and nightlife experiences. The first-person interactive video series puts viewers in control of the content, allowing them to choose a path through Copenhagen based on their personal interests. After the final choice is made visitors can sit back and watch their perfect Copenhagen day from morning to night, share it with their friends, and download the itinerary with info on each location. The videos are supported by landing pages on Expedia in Germany, Italy and the UK with in-depth information on Copenhagen, and promoted through video teasers on Facebook and Instagram as well as a Twitter competition to encourage shares.

See the Copenhagen campaign at Expedia UK

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nSight rolls-out next generation features to intelligence platform

August 24, 2015

The industry's most robust target market segmentation for consumer travel intent, this new filtering provides a higher level of sophistication for hotel ecommerce teams and their agencies that redefines digital campaign strategy, increasing marketing ROI and shifting bookings from OTAs to the hotel website.

"In order to capture a higher share of transient business, hotels must quit relying on reports that show how they did last month based only on booked business," explained nSight Founder Rich Maradik. "We've gotten comfortable with doing things the same way - even though every revenue management and marketing professional will tell you that they need to change in order to capture more leisure travelers. nSight gives hotels that change -- a totally new perspective on how consumers shop hotels and their competitors online for the future travel. It's reshaping how the industry can market and price, and the latest feature enhancements will make it even easier to apply these insights in BAR rate decisions and digital target marketing."

Get the full story at nSight

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Dark clouds loom for airlines even as their profits take off

August 21, 2015

Airlines have benefited from years of restructuring and consolidation, a tighter focus by management on profitability, and a roughly 55% drop since mid-2014 in the price of oil, which has gone from the industry’s biggest cost to its second biggest after labor.

Planes are also fuller than ever. Airlines for America, a trade group, has predicted an all-time high for summer travel, and this week forecast 14.2 million passengers will fly over the Labor Day period, up 3% from a year ago. The busiest day is expected to be Friday, Sept. 4.

However, it is what passengers are spending on fares and extras that is spooking investors.

Get the full story at iBloomberg

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STR: US hotel performance for July 2015

August 21, 2015

“The July occupancy of 75.3% was the highest single occupancy of any month ever recorded by STR,” said Jan Freitag, STR’s senior VP for lodging insights. “Hand in hand with this goes the demand of more than 116.8 million roomnights sold, which is 4 million roomnights higher than last July and another all-time record for any month. This translates to a demand increase of 3.5%, which is a continued healthy clip and actually higher than it was in June (+3.2%).”

RevPAR in the U.S. has increased for 65 consecutive months. ADR has risen year-over-year at 5.0% or higher for three straight months and four of the first seven months of 2015.

In July, every Top 25 Market reported year-over-year growth in RevPAR and ADR.

Ten of those markets posted double-digit RevPAR growth, led by Orlando, Florida (+19.4% to US$93.24). Nashville, Tennessee (+17.4% to US$102.16), and Atlanta, Georgia (+15.1% to US$82.72), were the other two markets to post RevPAR increases of more than 15.0%.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

Article location: is transforming your holiday snaps

August 21, 2015

Photos will be selected from shots posted on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #WingItYeah, or on’s Facebook page. Once the artists have created GIFs from the original shots the results will be posted on’s website and on GIF platform Giphy.

Wieden + Kennedy creative director Genevieve Hoey says the agency researched several platforms looking for artists who specifically worked with photographs and added an extra layer of "GIF-tasticness" to images. Of the four selected, two hail from New York (vander Yacht and Timmons), Gammon hails from South Carolina, and Kerr (aka Scorpion Dagger) is in Montreal.

The campaign, entitled "Who Won Booking Summer? is the finale to Booking’s summer campaign, "Wing Everything," though entrants are not restricted to those who used Hoey says: "What we said at the start of the summer was: 'You’ve got 12 weeks, just get out there and make it count.' We want to celebrate people who responded to our call to arms, who went out there, seized the moment and have the photographic evidence to prove it. I think the best ideas come from a behavior that already exists and everyone gets ‘Instagram envy’—you get these people that always post amazing shots. It’s about celebrating spontaneity and a spirit of adventure."

Get the full story at Fast Company

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Partnering with daily deal websites

August 21, 2015

80% is the number to remember—it pops up everywhere. About 80% of business generated by daily deals is from new customers. Business owners have been concerned that only their repeat customers would use the daily deals, thereby eating away at revenue they would have made anyway. The data shows this not so. Additionally, 80% of customers who used a daily deal ended up spending more money at the business than the value of the deal. This can include hospitality upgrades, additional night stays, restaurant purchases, and more.

Of customers that purchased a daily deal, 1/3rd of them became repeat customers. This shows that daily deals provide sticky customers, making daily deals a legitimate strategy for growing a business, rather than momentarily injecting it with new customers.

Another metric to consider is how many customers who buy the deal, use the deal. When a customer buys a deal, the property splits the revenue with the daily deal websites. It’s then up to the consumer to turn in the deal before it expires. However, Rice reports that most consumers who purchase deals never redeem them. For hotels, this is great news. It means that using daily deals, you can generate excess revenue on vacant inventory that you can still monetize using your traditional marketing channels. You’re making free money on inventory that would have gone vacant anyway (which is why you set it aside for daily deal websites).

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

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Bars and restaurants social media guide

August 21, 2015

Whether your online presence is official or not, people are paying attention to it. Today more people are crowdsourcing opinions before making decisions—especially millennials, who are expected to inject an additional $6 billion into the restaurant industry in the years to come.

If you’re not already building an official presence on social media, it’s time to start. Here’s how you can use social media marketing to engage with customers and help market your restaurant or bar.

1. Don’t Make It All About You
Your social media presence is not just about pushing new products or driving foot traffic. You want a well-balanced mix of engagement posts (that are interesting to your followers) and conversion posts (that encourage them to take action). A good rule of thumb is to have 75% engagement and 25% conversion - or a ratio of three engaging posts per one promotional post.

Get the full story at Sprout Social

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Capture and convert direct business with the help of reservation technology

August 21, 2015

Although the contribution of the OTA channels will undoubtedly be strong for the foreseeable future, there are plenty of guests who call and email the hotel to double check the rates they see online; others inquire about special needs and requests that they are more comfortable making directly. If reservations agents simply quote rates, answer questions and maintain an “order-taking” paradigm they will miss out on opportunities to not only reduce distribution costs, but also to increase revenues by ensuring that callers do not select another option off of the list they see online at an OTA.

In recent years new enabling software and technology systems have emerged to allow reservations agents to more pro-actively sell to, and to enable leaders to better manage, the stream of incoming voice and email leads. Rather than just quoting rates, these systems allow agents to conclude voice inquiry calls (for which they have not been able to secure the sale) by sending follow-up emails, and then to trace the lead on a task list so that they can contact the caller again in a few days. Similarly, such systems help agents track, respond to and follow-up on email rate and availability inquiries.

Originally there was only one legacy company that offered this type of software system and it was therefore exorbitantly priced. Now however there are several companies in the marketplace and the increased competition has made this more affordable than ever before. (For a list of some of the companies that offer this type of service contact me directly: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address))

Having a proactive lead management system is especially important for lodging companies that have higher average rates, longer average stays, and high “revenue per guest” opportunities, such as resorts, boutique hotels, extended stay properties, and vacation rental companies.

The larger the operation the more such automation is necessary. For smaller properties with fewer staff and fewer inquiries, it is possible for agents to track every incoming call manually. They can then obtain the caller’s email address, and when it is not possible to secure the sale on the first try, they can send a follow-up email, then put it on a manual “to do” list to reach out again by phone and by email to try to convince the caller to book. Similarly, they can track and manage email inquiries.

However for larger reservations teams where multiple agents are fielding multiple emails from the same sender, and where the call volume makes a manual system too cumbersome, automation certainly makes sense. Such systems also allow for managers to:

- Track “actual” conversion. Agents can enter a disposition code at the end of each call so that “service only” calls can be accounted for in the conversion formula.

- Listen to, monitor and score agent sales and service efficiency.

- Identify and track each agent’s sales activities to ensure that they are complying with standards for follow-up action steps.

- Organize all inbound and outbound email correspondence with each potential guest.

- As a byproduct, most of these systems also provide a great deal of marketing intelligence such as allowing for the assignment and tracking of unique 800 numbers to various campaigns and also by providing call handling / efficiency reporting that is often not otherwise available.

Just having such a system in place does not alone ensure sales success of course, and it is definitely important to maximize the effectiveness of any system whether manual, automated or a hybrid model. Having both consulted with and conducted training for a diversity of clients on this subject over the years here are a few reminders:

- Make sure reservations agents try to secure the sale during the first inquiry. I have definitely noticed that when these systems are in place some agents jump ahead too quickly to saying “Let me send you a list of the options we have open for your dates.” Instead, agents need to help the person commit during the inquiry when possible, or at least narrow down their options.

- If your deposit policy allows, allow agents to use a “courtesy hold” option on one of the accommodation types to build commitment. (Again, this should only be used after trying for a fully committed booking.)

- Have agents ask for the contact information such as the email address and call-back number during the conversation, not at the very start of the call. Some software system providers encourage agents to start calls by asking for these details which makes the call sound more “transactional” and less “conversational.”

- When sending follow-up correspondence after phone calls, or in response to email inquiries, encourage agents to paraphrase and re-state some of the key details the caller has mentioned to make it personalized. They should also make it a point to use needs-based recommendations in reference to the accommodations and/or packages.

- When following-up on phone calls and emails, agents should first call the prospect and if they do not pick-up they should leave a polite and personalized voicemail, again restarting key details to personalize it. (They should not just keep dialing back repeatedly as some guests might be annoyed with receiving too many missed calls.)

- If the first voicemail is not received, agents should follow-up the next day with a personalized email note, then a day or two later another voicemail.
By giving your reservations agents the best available technology you will be providing with the tools they need to maximize call conversion from today’s over-informed, distribution channel surfing travelers.

Doug Kennedy is President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. a leading provider of customized training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry.

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HeBS Digital to host The Smart Hotelier’s Guide to 2016 Digital Marketing Budget Planning webinar

August 21, 2015

In 2016, simply being online isn’t enough anymore. Hoteliers must take their digital presence to a new level in order to outpace the competition, build bottom-line revenues, and command healthy market share through the direct online channel. Savvy hoteliers must be able to innovatively and efficiently utilize their digital marketing resources, invest in the correct digital technology, and remain focused on their most lucrative market segments.

Speakers taking part in the webinar:

- Sara O’Brien, Associate Director of Marketing
- Victoria Hsia, Senior Interactive Media Specialist
- Jennifer Alberts, Account Supervisor

These digital marketing experts will detail HeBS Digital’s recommended approach to covering all the digital marketing, technology, and asset management line items hospitality marketers should utilize to maximize direct online revenues, address specific property business needs throughout the year, and meet their property’s website design, consulting, and technology needs.

“It is so exciting to be able to do this again for the tenth year in a row, especially during such a critical time in online distribution and digital marketing,” said Sara O’Brien, Associate Director of Marketing at HeBS Digital. “Hoteliers that attend the webinar can expect to walk away with everything they need to shift share from the OTAs to the direct online channel, generate the highest returns possible, and make 2016 their best year yet.”

Hoteliers can join the webinar Thursday, August 27th at 2 p.m. EST to learn more about 2016 budgeting best practices.

Register for the webinar at HeBS Digital

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Sabre sweeps Interactive Media Awards with best-in-class website design and development for hotels

August 21, 2015

The Best-In-Class award is the highest honor bestowed by the Interactive Media Awards. It represents the very best in planning, execution and overall professionalism.

"Our digital marketing group at Sabre Hospitality focuses on quality over quantity. We make it our mission to design and develop websites that meet the towering expectations of our customers but with a strong focus on UX and conversion," said Alex Alt, president of Sabre Hospitality Solutions. "We want visually stunning websites that translate into bookings for our hotels and receiving the highest level of recognition in an award category like this is validation that we achieved our goals."

The Interactive Media Awards recognize the highest standards of excellence in website design and development and honor individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievement. Entries are judged based on five criteria: Design, Content, Feature Functionality, Usability and Standards Compliance. To win an IMA, websites must excel in each criterion, rise above competitors' sites and deserve to be a top choice for their target market.

Get the full story at Sabre Hospitality Solutions

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Hotel brand choice now requires more homework

August 20, 2015

Glenn Squires, owner of Pacrim Hospitality Services, said the requirement used to be to understand locations and markets before choosing flags and brands that realized the most value.

In most circumstances, after Squires’ hotels hit 70% occupancy, he said, others would enter.

“Now we look at flags that give us premium rates and the highest barriers to entry for others,” Squires said, who added long-held relationships between brands, management companies and lenders are altering, with lenders increasingly willing to work with independent properties in markets such as New York City and San Francisco.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Why Airbnb’s China plans won’t be easy to pull off

August 20, 2015

Airbnb didn’t specify in its announcement how much it plans to spend on a China push, but again, it’s unlikely to be cheap. Airbnb’s efforts are focused on Chinese tourists looking for places to stay around the globe, though it also offers rentals within China. The company says China is its fastest-growing outbound market, with bookings from Chinese tourists traveling outside the country increasing 700 percent in the past year.

Like Uber, Airbnb has identified China as a tremendous untapped opportunity; Chinese travelers took 109 million trips in 2014, the company explains, citing data from the World Tourism Organization. “It’s clear that Airbnb is uniquely positioned to connect Chinese guest to amazing travel experiences,” Chesky writes. “And as we move into our next phase of expansion in China, we know we will need deep local knowledge and expertise to keep this momentum going.”

That, of course, is where China Broadband Capital and Sequoia China will come in for Airbnb, and where Baidu is already helping out for Uber. To state the obvious, running a business in China is nothing like running it in the U.S., and American tech companies have largely either struggled to crack the tightly controlled market or chosen to keep their distance.

Get the full story at

Read also "Airbnb partners with China Broadband, Sequoia to expand in China" at VentureBeat and "Airbnb on building a global company" at TechCrunch

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Australia’s Webjet targets US business market

August 20, 2015

Online travel company Webjet is targeting the US business market and looking for further acquisitions.

The comapny has lifted its full year underlying earnings by 19.7% to $27.9 million. Pre-tax earnings are now forecast to rise 30 per cent each year over five years - an improvement in its previously stated target of 20 per cent growth.

"We continue to see real growth opportunities in the global B2B market," Mr Guscic said. Total transaction values rose 31 per cent to $1.3 billion in the year to June 30, and earnings rose 20 per cent to $28 million, slightly above its previous forecast.

Get the full story at

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Starwood introduces Sheraton Grand

August 20, 2015

By year end, Starwood expects to have 50 newly-designated Sheraton Grand hotels around the world with plans for 100 by early 2017. Sheraton Grand is one of many initiatives currently underway for Sheraton 2020, a comprehensive plan designed to solidify Sheraton as a leading global hotel brand of choice, everywhere.

"Sheraton is Starwood's largest and most global brand, and as we continue our work to firmly keep Sheraton in the spotlight, we recognize the need to better match guest expectations for the brand around the world," said Adam Aron, Starwood CEO on an interim basis. "Sheraton Grand celebrates our standout hotels and helps us further reinforce Sheraton as a trusted voice in global travel."

Showcasing the Best of the Sheraton Brand around the World

The Sheraton Grand designation signifies an exemplary hotel offering for both guests and local communities, with hallmarks including:

- Resorts, convention properties, and urban hotels that offer unrivaled standards of service and outperform guest satisfaction benchmarks

- Dynamic guestrooms and public spaces exhibiting sophisticated design and elevated finishes

- Desirable and sought-after locations ranging from primary city settings to spectacular beachfronts

- Impressive hotel amenities, including top-rated restaurant concepts and renowned chefs, superior gyms, unique Sheraton Club lounges, and an array of idyllic spa options

- Inspiring and state-of-the-art function space for events, meetings, and conferences

"We expect many of our Sheraton hotels to achieve the Sheraton Grand designation, and we will work with our owners to open new Sheraton Grand hotels or renovate existing properties to ensure a consistent and exceptional experience in our new premier tier," said Dave Marr, Global Brand Leader, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. "The worldwide network of Sheraton Grand will promote growth and lure more high-end travelers for the Sheraton brand globally, and we look forward to welcoming 100 Sheraton Grand hotels by early 2017."

As Sheraton Grand formally launches worldwide, the tier will also encompass a number of existing properties that historically list Grand or Grande in their title and also demonstrate the best of the brand.

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How to reach consumers in their ‘content cocoons’

August 20, 2015

This requires "seeing" the thousands of different indicators that make each consumer unique online, and parsing through them to find the ones which truly maximize relevance, not just optimize from within a limited set of easier-to-accumulate points.

To succeed, start with a wide and potentially non-intuitive set of data inputs. Demographics, search behaviors or browsing history are places to start, but marketers need to get into the minds of the consumer with data that explains motivations. From social media data to survey data to third-party data from publishing partners, there are many sources to use to build out more unique and insightful consumer profiles.

Once marketers fill out their understanding of consumers, they can begin to form more effective messages. This is not the first time that marketers have been forced to reverse course. Direct marketers embraced a similar situation years ago when they learned to adapt to Google search results. Rather than simply push messages to consumers, marketers had to learn to "pull" consumers to their websites through relevant search content and landing pages. iCrossing coined the appropriate term "reverse direct marketing."

Get the full story at AdvertisingAge

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Pew: Facebook dominant but flat, Instagram, Pinterest have doubled users

August 20, 2015

Those findings come from the latest study on Americans’ use of social media. The data were based on telephone interviews conducted in March and April among 1,907 adults.

In addition to the growing use of messaging apps (e.g., Snapchat, WhatsApp, iMessage), the report examines usage patterns and demographics associated with the major social networking sites. The following are the demographic highlights of each of the major social sites profiled in the report:

- Facebook: Enjoys broad penetration and usage among all groups except those over 65 years old

- Pinterest: Females under 50 dominate usage

- Instagram: Used by non-whites more often (vs. other networks) and by female and younger users

- LinkedIn: Used by older, working adults with higher education and incomes

- Twitter: Used by younger urbanites vs. residents of suburbs or rural areas

Get the full story at Marketing Land and Pew Research Center

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Hotels generate near US$11 billion in revenue with SiteMinder

August 20, 2015

These solutions include SiteMinder's Internet booking engine, TheBookingButton, which, alone, generated over US$650 million for hotels via their own website.

SiteMinder's co-founder and managing director, Mike Ford, says these numbers show increasing recognition that best-of-breed hotel technology is crucial to attracting, reaching and converting the modern-day traveller.

"For a hotelier, the Internet economy is demanding more than ever before – with the continual emergence of new, alternative sales avenues such as TripConnect instant booking and the rapid speed at which today's travellers make their hotel bookings online through their own booking engine or through mobile apps like Roomlia," says Mr Ford.

"Cloud technology such as SiteMinder's, which meets these demands, empowers hoteliers to have greater control of the web as well as significantly lower costs of guest acquisition which they otherwise would not have. The web presents infinite opportunities to attract today's traveller – both directly and using third-party sites – but it's about making sure you have the broadest reach possible, the strongest of system integrations, the most reliable of channel connections and the most secure of data. This is what SiteMinder offers to hotels.

"There are tangible benefits of replacing the often-dangerous and costly process of manually managing reservations with complete real-time automation, and what these figures ultimately testify to are the fact that more and more hoteliers are realising these benefits are no longer nice-to-haves among the elite chains, but accessible necessities for all hotels."

Mr Ford's comments echo Phocuswright and h2c's Independent Lodging Market Report, sponsored by SiteMinder, which found that dynamic rate and availability management across multiple channels is a foreign concept to most independent hotels in the US, while, in Europe, managing room rates and availability remain largely manual processes for hotels.

Using the SiteMinder platform, hotels from across 160 countries have real-time, two-way connections to more than 250 distribution channels and more than 120 property management systems, central reservation systems and revenue management systems. Over the 12 months ending 30 June 2015, these hotels benefited from SiteMinder's local presence in all key markets as well as its groundbreaking connections with Ctrip and wholesalers such as Tourico Holidays, and its acquisition of Globekey to complement TheBookingButton.

Related Link: SiteMinder

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How to increase hotel revenue - A case study by hetras

August 20, 2015

The case study, "Revenue is the Be-All and End-All for a Turnaround," examines these and other issues using the example of two hotels, carathotel Munich and hotelmüller Munich. Published by hetras, a provider of cloud-based hotel management software, and AHM Antik Hotel Management, a Swiss hotel service company, this case study describes how to increase hotel revenue; which metrics can be used to restructure internal hotel operations; and how the corresponding property management system can provide transparency in sales.

The case study provides insight into how the reach, booking rates and revenue per available room (RevPAR) can be improved in a matter of months. Details include guidance on improving the conversion rate of online travel agencies (OTAs), implementing a channel manager, and introducing a new rate structure with the best available rate (BAR).

"In my opinion, the initial situation applies to about 50% of all hotels – particularly smaller individual hotels or groups," says Michael Lobecke, president of the AHM board of directors. "In this respect, the approach we took could serve as an example for the entire industry."

Download the case study at Hetras (free registration)

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Mobilizing your hotel stay

August 19, 2015

Luxury hospitality brands may have been slow to adapt mobile touchpoints but recently hoteliers are upping their mobile offerings through standard booking apps to keyless entry using Apple Watch to maintain modernity in an increasingly mobile-optimized landscape. L2’s “Luxury Hotels In-Stay” Insights Report examines how these “low-touch luxury” touchpoints have reconfigured a traditional stay in a high-end hotel property by creating guest convenience, accessibility and independence all through mobile technologies.

“Well executed in-stay features available on mobile devices enhance the overall hotel experience by providing accessibility, convenience and customizable services from room selection to the number and kinds of pillows,” said Eleanor Powers, insight director at L2, New York. “This is a way for luxury hotel brands to appeal specifically to affluent and/or younger demographics both of which index high in mobile use and appreciation of ‘low-touch luxury.’

“In addition, millennial travelers are less likely to become loyalty program members so mobile-based in-stay services are an enticing way to attract this demographic group beyond standard rewards and discounts,” she said. “Some brands are promoting features such as keyless room entry through their loyalty programs, requiring guests to become loyalty members in order to access.”

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

Read also "Catering to business travelers in emerging tech cities" at Lodging

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TripAdvisor building the ultimate travel app

August 19, 2015

The four-year-old TripAdvisor City Guides app had amassed travel guides and downloadable maps for some 300 cities around the world and these are all available now in TripAdvisor’s main app. They can be used offline for travelers shuffling around various destinations and concerned about data charges.

Unlike most guide books, the TripAdvisor app is thus not only informational but also actionable: You can book the hotel and make restaurant reservations, as well as summon an Uber ride to get you to the activity or destination.

Other booking apps haven’t kept pace with TripAdvisor’s breadth of content. The Expedia app, for example, offers hotels, flights, cars and activities but the guide-oriented information is relatively sparse and devoid of user reviews.

Get the full story at Skift

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China’s internet giants fail to dominate online travel market

August 19, 2015

China's online travel agent market remains dominated by Ctrip which commands 51% of the market, according to an industry report revealed earlier this year. Last year, Ctrip and Qunar took 49% and 27% of China's online travel market, respectively, data showed.

Mobile transactions are seen as a key earnings driver for online travel agencies. Mobile internet users in China reached 557 million in 2014, with mobile travel booking penetration hitting 24%, according to an industry report. For example, the mobile contribution to total online bookings reached 70% for Ctrip and 60% for Qunar in the first quarter this year.

A major factor enabling Ctrip and Qunar to remain the major players in the online travel market is that they have made enormous investments to integrate online-to-offline resources to support their operations, according to the report.

Get the full story at Want China Times

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How Marriott is innovating in Asia

August 19, 2015

A few months back, Marriott hosted a contest in China for entrepreneurs, with the winner getting to incubate a food and beverage concept inside the JW Marriott hotel in the city of Shenzhen. "You have the idea, we have the space," Marriott said in its pitch. The company also promised budding restaurateurs support on things from a budget to regulations to marketing. By backing an F&B startup, it cleverly nodded to Marriott's own debut, back in 1927, as a root beer stand.

Marriott has almost 200 hotels in Asia out of its global roster of over 4,200 properties, and it's planning to expand there fast. Next year it will open over 50 hotels in Asia, or about one a week. And in three years, its current number of Asian hotels is expected to double.

"It's a lot of opportunity to think differently," said Peggy Fang Roe, chief sales and marketing officer for Marriott International in Asia Pacific. As Ms. Roe notes, 61% of the world lives in Asia Pacific. "There are already 100 million outbound trips a year out of China, and in the next five years it will double to 200 million," Ms. Roe said. Among the big questions she's asking is how the company will help Chinese travelers see the world, and how it will cater to their family trips.

Get the full story at AdvertisingAge

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Aloft announces robotic changes

August 19, 2015

Additionally, starting August 27, the original Aloft Botlr will hit the road, rolling across country to Aloft Miami South Beach, and will later be transferred to the new Aloft Manhattan Downtown - Financial District for a short stint this Fall before returning to Cupertino.

“We embarked upon this robotic experiment years ago, and it has proven what we suspected all along — humans and robots can co-exist and work side by side to elevate the guest experience,” said Brian McGuinness, Global Brand Leader, Starwood’s Specialty Select Brands. “Botlr has been an integral part of the Aloft Cupertino experience, and the demand from guests and associates around the world to interact with our biotic bellhop has been astounding. As we add our second Botlr to the Aloft team and transfer our first Botlr to new hotels around the country, we know they will continue to not only make hospitality history, but, more importantly, memories for our guests.”


Starting today, the brand’s second Botlr will officially be on call full-time as the able android of Aloft Silicon Valley, where it will assist Aloft talent in delivering amenities to guest rooms. Smartly dressed in a custom uniform and nametag, Botlr autonomously transports everything from toothbrushes to the day’s paper as it navigates the 172 rooms and five floors of Aloft Silicon Valley with ease. Like its predecessor, it accepts Tweets in lieu of tips, and during its training period was known to roll around the hotel’s lobby and W:XYZ bar (obliging guests with selfies along the way, of course). This newest Aloft associate not only frees up existing talent’s time, allowing them to create a more personalized experience for guests, but enhances the hotel’s current tech-forward offerings.


Aloft made history last August when it became the first major hotel brand to hire a robot for both back and front of house duties. This omnipresent operative became an instant overnight sensation and travelers from around the world have flocked to Aloft Cupertino to watch it in action. All of this attention is why Botlr needs to recharge its batteries with a change of scenery. Starting August 27, Botlr will be moonlighting in Miami for a few days at the new Aloft South Beach where it will surprise guests with deliveries from a special “Botlr Takes Miami” menu that includes every day beach essentials. It will also hand out towels in the lobby and act as a “wingbot” for sly singles at W:XYZ bar.


After soaking up some sun, Botlr will temporarily join the staff of the new Aloft Manhattan Downtown - Financial District in early Fall. As part of this short Manhattan transfer, Botlr will greet guests on select evenings with either bull or bear shaped cookies and candy (depending upon how the stock market performs that day) as well as fetch guest deliveries from a special “BotlrHeartsNYC” menu including bagels, MetroCards, and every day essentials for survival in the Big Apple. Botlr will also be a part of the hotel’s official ribbon cutting ceremony, slated for early September. It will then return to Aloft Cupertino and re-join the staff full-time.

Aloft Botlrs represent yet another forward-looking milestone for Aloft, Starwood’s innovative, tech-forward incubator brand. Recent innovations include SPG Keyless, the world’s first truly mobile, keyless entry system, piloting Apple TV services, mobile-controlled guest experiences, and more. Most recently, Aloft announced its testing innovations such as Mobile Controlled Lighting and Wake Up Preferences as well as Virtual Reality experiences for rollout within the next year.

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Cvent’s top 50 meeting destinations in the U.S.

August 19, 2015

Orlando reclaimed the top spot on the 2015 list, a position the city last held in 2013. Las Vegas climbed one spot on the ranking compared to last year, while Chicago dropped two places from number one in 2014 to round out the top three.

The top 10 cities for 2015 are:

1. Orlando, FL
2. Las Vegas, NV
3. Chicago, IL
4. San Diego, CA
5. Atlanta, GA
6. Washington, D.C.
7. New York, NY
8. Dallas, TX
9. Nashville, TN
10. Phoenix, AZ

"Competition for meetings and conventions business continues to be very heated between destinations that are eager to attract events to boost their local economies," said Bharet Malhotra, senior vice president of sales for the Cvent Supplier Network. "This year we witnessed several cities vying for a position in the top 50 list, with significant movement within the ranks. One of the interesting trends this year has been the rise of smaller cities moving ahead of and even displacing destinations that are near large metro areas but not downtown."

Smaller cities have been actively investing in and expanding their infrastructure and attractions, and benefiting from property renovations in their markets. Many of these locations are winning significant new business by serving as interesting regional alternatives to major destinations. Additionally, many smaller cities are on planners' rotations designed to vary destinations from one year to the next, and many of these events have been growing, bringing more attendees and budget.

Several smaller cities have emerged on the 2015 list such as Pittsburgh, PA; Jacksonville, FL; Tucson, AZ and Charleston, SC, which displaced Carlsbad, CA; Newport Beach, CA; Chandler, AZ and Alexandria, VA in the Top 50. Within the list, cities including Austin, TX; Charlotte, NC and Tampa, FL climbed to higher positions, while markets near major cities like Fort Worth, TX and Coronado, CA slipped in the ranking.

Cvent evaluated more than 5,000 U.S. cities featured on the Cvent Supplier Network to compile the fourth annual list. Activity was tracked from July 2014 to June 2015 and the ranking was then determined by a set of qualifying criteria consisting of:

- Unique Request For Proposals Received
- Total Room Nights
- Awarded Request For Proposals
- Awarded Room Nights
- Percentage of Qualified Meeting Venues
- Number of Profile Views

Featuring more than 235,000 hotels, resorts and special event venues, the Cvent Supplier Network is one of the world's largest and most accurate databases of detailed venue information. It contains listings of hotels and other venues in more than 175 countries that can be searched and filtered based on approximately 200 characteristics and data fields. The Cvent Supplier Network is part of the Cvent Hospitality Cloud which provides hotels, CVBs, and other event venue owners a combination of event management software and marketing solutions to more effectively generate qualified demand for meetings and events, manage that demand more efficiently, and measure group business performance.

To see the full list of the top 50 cities, please visit Cvent

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Hotel sales pros use psychological weapons to close more business

August 19, 2015

Here’s what it takes:

1. Social Proof – Let Past Business Sell for You

At the end of the day, travel planners will always trust their peers over you. So, prove your property is a worthy investment by showcasing the planners who have already said yes to you. Social proof is showing, “Others have booked with us. You should, too.”

Here’s how to do it right:

Post short testimonials from past clients on your website, sales proposals and sales kits. The key is to only showcase testimonials that are detailed and poignant, perhaps even naming a specific team member or a specific encounter with your service.• Showcase the logos of companies that have booked business with you, from corporations to associations.• Instead of a gallery full of empty ballroom photos, show how flexible your venue is by posting photos of previous events held there.

Get the full story at Tambourine

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Dubai-based partners with DHISCO

August 19, 2015

Based in Dubai and with offices in Malaysia and the United States, is one of the region's leading hotel reservations agencies, connecting leisure and business travel professionals with hotels and other travel providers around the world.

"Our partnership with advances our strategic focus on helping travel companies in emerging countries automate their systems and grow with our advanced and affordable solutions for connecting the world," said Toni Portmann, DHISCO chief executive officer.

Last week, DHISCO announced a similar partnership with a Dubai-based destination marketing company, Darina Holidays.

Owned by Silver Wings Travel, currently provides bookings through its call centers and XML integrations with other third parties. By partnering with DHISCO, it will be able to further automate its booking process.

"Our integration with DHISCO is key to our future," said Pirooz Kimiaei, chief executive officer. "Demand for our services is high and growing. This partnership will enable us to keep up with that demand and offer our clients real-time connections to suppliers around the globe."

Related Link: DHISCO

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Record high hotel occupancy, rigorous revenue management collide with 2016 RFP season

August 18, 2015

"A lot of these things can be addressed in the RFP," said Travel and Transport general manager of partner solutions Donna Brokowski. She recommends buyers push for last room availability, though properties that have been amenable to it in the past may not negotiate it with occupancies as high as they are.

She also insists buyers negotiate for 70 percent to 80 percent of total inventory at a property and, if possible, conduct monthly audits to make sure the negotiated rates are available.

"This year, we're making it a standard practice to conduct monthly audits," Brokowski said. "We're catching hotels on a monthly basis. What we thought we'd find is certain brands that do it more or regions. But it's across the board that we find hotels that are noncompliant."

Get the full story at Business Travel News

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As OTAs boost spending, hotels continue online booking fight

August 18, 2015

Suppliers and their channels continue to battle over their respective shares of the U.S. online hotel sector, where annual spending is predicted to jump 55% between 2012 and 2016, to $58.1 billion, according to a Phocuswright report released in November. OTAs have been gradually pulling some of that spending away from hoteliers’ websites. Last year, OTAs accounted for 48% of online hotel spending in the U.S., up from 46% in 2012.

Hoteliers fear that a combined Expedia and Orbitz will result in a further loss of booking dollars.

“We believe this transaction and the resulting consolidation of the online travel marketplace will result in significant negative consequences, particularly for consumers, but also for the large number of our members who are small business owners and franchised properties,” AH&LA CEO Katherine Lugar wrote in an Aug. 6 statement.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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For Priceline everything is an A/B test

August 18, 2015

“We have a tendency to look at A/B testing as function,”’s chief product officer John Caine said at GrowthBeat Monday. “A/B is actually a discipline; everything is an A/B test.”

A/B testing refers to an Internet company testing different variants of a piece of web or app content to discover which is most effective or likely to get clicked.

Things get built at by small, autonomous groups that are not guided by HiPPO (the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion), Caine pointed out. These workgroups at perform thousands and thousands of A/B tests each year to find out which messages work with which user types on which devices.

Get the full story at VentureBeat

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Marriott reaches out to Latinos with its #LoveTravels campaign

August 18, 2015

Marriott International is featuring Latinos in the latest installment of its #LoveTravels social movement campaign via four web videos starring actress Diane Guerrero of Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin fame; actor Diego Boneta, a star in Mexico who plays a lead role in the upcoming Fox series Scream Queens; YouTube sensation Boyce Avenue (the indie band has more than 7 million followers on YouTube); and Taj Reed, director of ad operations for and a contributor to Nylon magazine.

In each of the four clips the subjects talk about what they get out of traveling as well as their Latino and American backgrounds, and Guerrero’s reflections are particularly affecting. The actress was the only member of her immediate family who was born in the United States, and when she was 14, her parents and brother were deported to their native Colombia, leaving her in the U.S. to live with family friends in the hopes that she would have a better life here.

"Some people travel for vacation, to get away from it all. I travel to get to it all," Guerrero says, stressing how special it is to visit her family in Colombia because she doesn’t get to see them often. She also talks about her passion for immigration reform, with non-separation of families being of particular importance to her.

Get the full story at Fast Company

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Luxury hotels move into low-touch luxury

August 18, 2015

L2’s Insight Report found that Luxury Hotel Index brand mobile apps typically boasted more sophisticated features than their mobile sites. For example, 55% of brand and parent apps allowed mobile check-in, compared to 3% of mobile site counterparts. The apps were also more than four times more likely to let guests order amenities like room service.

Although Luxury Hotels lag behind almost every other industry when it comes to mobile site optimization, they were quick to launch Apple Watch apps that enhanced existing mobile offerings. Starwood – first in the industry to offer keyless entry via its SPG mobile app –extended that functionality to its Apple Watch app, which also provides guests with transportation options, reservation details, and directions. InterContinental Hotels Group went beyond concierge services to develop the IHG Translator app, which translates from English into 13 other languages and even includes a “slang” setting.

Get the full story at L2

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GDSes deserve some love

August 18, 2015

The GDS channel posted ADR growth of 4.6% during the second quarter, according to data from TravelClick’s “North American distribution review.” That bested not only the OTAs (3.9% ADR growth) but also as well as central reservation offices, which house central reservations systems (both at 3.8%).

“Interestingly, the GDS continues to demonstrate growth, especially with higher ADR bookings,” TravelClick’s John Hach noted in a news release.

Here’s another case for the GDSes, among which Travelport, Amadeus and Sabre are the most highly billed performers: The channel accounted for 19.3% of all transient rooms sold during the second quarter. That’s behind only contributions from brands (29.1%) and bookings direct to hotel (e.g. calls to the property and walk-ins) at 22%.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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The end of hotel rate parity: Much ado about nothing

August 18, 2015

Brand hotels have probably done a better job at implementing rate parity across their thousands of hotels. Even then, rate parity is just not that easy to implement and control.

Smart asset owners and managers devoted very little time to this clause in their OTA contract. Instead they focused on getting the most out of the OTA’s and building their direct revenue. On the opposite end of the spectrum were people who ran around in circles worrying about maintaining parity like it was life and death. Just recently I had to console a very concerned Director of Sales who would freak out every time he looked at the rate plan, yelling “What about rate parity?”

Rate parity is, and never will be, a “gun to the head” for hotel revenue managers or owners. Rate parity has not prevented independent assets from building direct revenue, nor does its demise automatically supercharge their revenue. I’ve worked on asset turnarounds totaling over $1.5 billion over the last decade; rate parity has never once been a factor that kept us from reaching our revenue goal.

It’s actually pretty simple. Hotel and lodging business managers who have not 100% outsourced their reading, learning and critical thinking are profitable today, and will stay profitable when the rate parity clauses go away. Rate parity, whether it’s in place or not, doesn’t override the many other important decisions that drive profit.

Get the full story at Vikram Singh

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Skyscanner adds TrustYou Meta-Reviews

August 18, 2015

"Skyscanner's hotel search helps consumers search for, compare and book accommodation with ease, displaying unbiased results with the best rates. We've made hotel search simple, with clever features, great imagery, traveller reviews and an uncluttered user experience. We have now enhanced the presentation of traveller reviews with the integration of Trust You Meta-Reviews. The enhanced reviews will now give our users greater depth of information before they make a decision." said Nikhil Gupta, Director of Hotels and Car Hire at Skyscanner.

With the click of a button, travelers are offered an overview of how the hotel ranks overall based on all reviews about the property, as well as how the hotel appeals to different categories of traveler (couples, solo travelers, and so forth). Additionally, essential areas of interest are covered in greater detail, from rooms and amenities to location and dining, and each category has its own rating along with comments from actual travelers.

Benjamin Jost, CEO and Co-Founder of TrustYou, noted, "Meta-ReviewsTM are confidence builders. They make the travel path to purchase more efficient and give travelers a sense of trust in their decisions. Intermediaries, such as Skyscanner benefit when the traveler also extends that trust to the travel search site and becomes a long-term user."

Get the full story at TrustYou

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The hotel-guest dynamic is changing

August 17, 2015

The competition for hotel guests is fierce, with rising customer- acquisition costs, price-sensitive travelers, and falling brand loyalty at play.

Established online travel agencies (OTAs) and metasearch sites like Expedia, Priceline and Kayak, joined by startups like Hipmunk, gained 10.4% of total hotel bookings in North America’s top 25 markets in 2012, up from 9.5% in 2011. Though hotel websites accounted for a 26.7% market share in 2012, that number rose just a half a percentage point YoY, eMarketer reported.

“Hotels are under a lot of pressure these days to own the customer,” says Kelly McGuire, Executive Director of the Hospitality and Travel Global Practice at SAS. “A lot of that is coming from the situational landscape and the power of the OTA like Expedia. Now you’ve got Google in the picture and everyone wants a piece of the puzzle.
The distribution costs are growing faster than rates are growing.

Get the full story and download the free report at Skift

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As Airbnb grows, hotel prices expected to drop

August 17, 2015

By the end of 2016, Merrill Lynch analysts say listings on home-renting platform Airbnb Inc. could make up as much as 1.2% of hotel offerings. But as a fast-growing startup, with an estimated 40% to 50% growth in listings per year, Airbnb listings could make up 3.6% to 4.3% of inventory by 2020, the analysts say.

“Our preliminary work suggests Airbnb is a force to be reckoned with that is likely to have an increasing impact on the travel landscape,” the analysts wrote.

In increasing its market share, Airbnb is expected to help the overall room supply finally meet consumer demand. That should force hotels to lower prices in order to attract guests, which caused the analysts to downgrade several large hotel owners.

Get the full story at MarketWatch

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Sabre GDS breach examined, credit card info likely safe

August 17, 2015

Travel managers say that caution, not panic, is the proper response to the recent breach of Sabre’s GDS.

Sabre acknowledged in early August that hackers had breached its GDS. The confirmation came as Bloomberg, citing anonymous federal investigators, reported that the breach was part of the same set of Chinese-linked attacks that struck the insurance carrier Anthem in February and the U.S. government’s Office of Personnel Management in June.

The breach, Sabre said, involved servers managed by a third party. In its only public statement on the incident, the company also said it was not aware that any sensitive data had been compromised but was continuing to investigate.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

Read also "China-linked hackers reportedly attack American Airlines, Sabre systems"

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Main OTAs against Lufthansa distribution cost charge

August 17, 2015

The OTAs consider this move to be a direct attack on their business model which will substantially increase their costs and create inefficiencies, ultimately to the detriment of consumers and to the airline industry as a whole.

The OTAs’ position is that the Lufthansa surcharge is manifestly illegal. In the first instance, the surcharge breaches the non-discrimination rules that apply to a parent carrier under the CRS Code of Conduct adopted at EU level (Regulation 80/2009). The surcharge also constitutes a clear infringement of EU competition law, both under Articles 101 and 102 TFEU and equivalent provisions under national competition laws.

If Lufthansa does not abandon the announced surcharge, the OTAs will consider further action necessary to prevent the introduction of the surcharge.

Get the full story at the Digital Journal

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

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Marriott calls direct booking campaign ‘common practice’

August 17, 2015

In its statement, Marriott said it values its relationship with agents and characterized the book direct campaign as not new, but “rather a marketing campaign of what our direct channels already offer today.”

“It is designed to inform them [customers] about the benefits of booking directly with us, either on, through out Global Reservation Centers, or by contacting the hotel,” the statement said.

Its “direct channel benefits” include its Best Rate Guarantee and its Marriott Rewards program, according to the statement.

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

Read also "Marriott launches “it pays to book direct” campaign"

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Twitter drops 140-character limit from direct messages

August 17, 2015

After neglecting the feature for years, Twitter began rolling out improvements to direct messages when Kevin Weil took over the product organization last fall. The company restored the ability to send links, added group and photo messaging, and began letting you share tweets natively inside the messages. The idea, Agarwal says, is to make DMs the place where you talk about the stuff you see on Twitter. "We want to make sure you can really fluidly move between public and private," he says. Among other things, removing the 140-character cap on messages make it easier for businesses to conduct customer service over DMs.

"We want to make sure you can really fluidly move between public and private."

Over the years, Twitter has explored releasing a stand-alone messaging app built on DMs, a la Facebook Messenger. I asked Agarwal how he thought about that question today. He wouldn't say anything about unreleased products, but suggested DMs functioned best as a kind of backchannel for Twitter: a place to take discussion of tweets, or the people tweeting them, to a private place.

Get the full story at The Verge and Twitter

Read also "Twitter lifts character limit: 3 benefits for Twitter business users" at Social Media Today

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Why rich guest data is a game-changer for hospitality

August 17, 2015

Why? Because most hotels use disparate platforms for daily functions like POS, PMS, CRM, email marketing and analytics, online reputation management, and others. The reality is, the vast majority of hotels don’t truly know their guests.

Hoteliers need to get to know their guests if they’re going to start delivering the personalized, high-touch experiences that today’s travelers expect. They need to think about the relevance of their communications and service to each guest in order to increase guest satisfaction and loyalty.

The first step is for hotels to capture their guest data to start building profiles of each guest. The second step is for hotels to create automated and personalized communications at different touchpoints throughout the guest experience. The third step is for each staff member to have access to all available information about their guests at their disposal.

Get the full story at Revinate

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Swiss-Garden International Hotels chooses RateGain’s rate shopping and channel manager solutions

August 17, 2015

Kem Siew – VP Sales & Marketing at Swiss-Garden International commented, “Trying to gather price intelligence manually is extremely time consuming and subject to limitations. We understand that technology is fundamental to a hotel’s success. Therefore it’s necessary to adopt a technology solution.”

“We choose RateGain because it is one of the pioneers in the market and offers a compelling Rate Shopping Tool (PriceGain) and Channel Manager (RezGain). RateGain provides us with customized solutions for our Group, currently operating with a diverse range of products across multiple brand categories: Hotels, Residences, Resorts and Inns. We believe with the help of their competitive and innovative rate intelligence solutions we will be able to redefine our pricing strategy and retain a competitive advantage.”

“One of the features which is really useful to us is the capability for apple to apple comparisons of Room Types & Rate Plans.”

Get the full story at RateGain

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France’s end to hotel rate parity creates grey areas

August 14, 2015

The French National Assembly brought rate parity to a grinding halt by adopting the final vote, which removes the clauses from contracts between hoteliers and OTAs.

The so-called “Macron law”—named after France’s Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs, Emmanuel Macron—is designed to invigorate the French economy by removing obstacles to growth and competition. The law states that when entering into contracts with OTAs, “the hotelier is free to consent to any customer discounts or tariff advantage of any kind whatsoever.”
The decision caps off a two-year battle led by AccorHotels and hotel employer union UMIH to remove the so-called “pricing parity clause” enforced by France’s three largest OTAs—, Expedia and HRS—which forbid hoteliers to offer lower prices to other online booking firms or undercut the rates on their websites.

HOTREC, the European hospitality association, in a news release described the French vote as “another crucial step for hotels in Europe to regain control over their offer.”
Some 70% of hotel bookings in Europe are made through such online booking platforms, according to the French Competition Authority, which engineered much of the change.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now and HOTREC

Read also *What is the future of hotel rate parity in the U.S.?"

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Ryanair wants to become ‘Amazon’ of European travel

August 14, 2015

The overhaul of the site, being developed by about 200 IT staff hired over the past 18 months, is in part a defensive strategy to avoid becoming dependent on third-party sites such as and Google Flights for ticket sales.

Ryanair's plans contrast with that of Lufthansa, which is also seeking to direct more customers to its own website but by introducing a fee for bookings made using the global distribution systems (GDSs) such as Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport.

"We want to become the of travel in Europe, with a whole load of additional services: price comparison, cut-rate hotels, discounted football tickets, concert tickets," Michael O'Leary told Reuters. "We want to be the disruptor that goes out and disrupts the original disruptors," he added.

Get the full story at Reuters

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Luxury travel trends from Virtuoso

August 14, 2015

Less traditional European destinations like Spain and the Netherlands are also on the rise, Virtuoso said, as are the South American countries Argentina and Peru and beach destinations in French Polynesia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Costa Rica.

As clients increasingly seek out highly personalized experiences, Virtuoso said that expedition and luxury yacht cruising are seeing some of the strongest year-over-year growth in bookings, at 41% and 15%, respectively. Both surpass traditional cruising, which is up 12% over last year.

Italy tops the Top 10 list for fall travel, Virtuoso said, pushing the top summer destination, the U.K., into third place. Mexico ranks second in popularity for fall.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Ritz-Carlton leads online conversation among U.S. hotel brands

August 14, 2015

While word of mouth is still important among high-end goods and services, online conversation, hashed out on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, is steadily becoming a strategy for brands aiming for consumer retention. In Engagement Labs’ first “Total Social” ranking, Ritz-Carlton ranked the highest on social media, but fell when it came to recommendations made by offline word of mouth, presenting an opportunity for the hospitality brand.

“Social media is becoming more important, but not at the expense of word of mouth,” said Bryan Segal, CEO of Engagement Labs, Toronto.

“There is no substitute for face-to-face conversations, and hotel experiences are an important topic of conversation,” he said. “The most successful marketers should have a twin social strategy that embraces both online and offline.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Agents angered about Marriott’s direct-booking campaign

August 14, 2015

ASTA issued an unequivocal denunciation of the campaign which features three vignettes in which comedienne Grace Helbig interrupts various awkward, roundabout conversations with advice to be direct.

The upshot is her message that, “It pays to book direct.”

“Suppliers have the right to market their product however they choose, as long as the advertisements are legal and truthful,” said ASTA CEO and president Zane Kerby in ASTA’s statement.

“Marriott’s new marketing campaign, which tells consumers that they can only find the best rates on, is not only disparaging to travel agents, but also misleading to the traveling public,” he said.

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

Read also "Marriott launches “it pays to book direct” campaign"

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United Airlines tests beacons to navigate travelers at the airport

August 14, 2015

While several airports have installed beacons to provide helpful information to travelers, it is not clear how widely accessed these services are as the technology requires a mobile application to interact with smartphones. Since many flyers today often have an airline’s app on their smartphones, bringing beacon-enabled interactions to these apps could potentially reach more flyers.

“It makes 100 percent sense for United Airlines to use this close relationship they have with customers that use their app and their airlines to make that relationship even more useful,” said Lara Mehanna, general manager of U.S. at vice president of sales and business development at Sonata Local.

“If I know that United is not only going to care for me getting on their flight but also navigating the airport and contributing to a much more seamless and enjoyable travel experience, I would be more inclined to select United every time I fly,” she said.

Get the full story at the Mobile Marketer

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Revinate signs Starwood Hotels & Resorts, surpasses 25,000 hotel clients

August 14, 2015

Revinate Reputation™ will be used at both the property and corporate level to provide hoteliers with data about the guest experience, insight into the competition and workflows for improving operations and engaging with guests.

Starwood selected Revinate Reputation after an in-depth review of all the ORM solutions in the market. In particular, Starwood wanted to ensure that all hotels, regardless of region, would have fast and consistent access to the platform.

In addition to pilot testing, several of Starwood's leading ownership groups, including John Q. Hammons, Pillar Hotels, ITC Hotels and Rim Hospitality, were already using Revinate Reputation as a way to report on reputation metrics across all the brands in their portfolios, and they weighed in heavily in favor of Revinate.

Jay Ashton, Revinate’s Co-founder and CEO says, “We are very excited to be working with Starwood Hotels & Resorts, one of the most global high-end hotel companies in the world. We look forward to growing with them and supporting them as they continue their rapid expansion across the globe.”

Related Link: Revinate

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Virtuoso Best of the Best Awards honor world’s top hotels of 2015

August 14, 2015

Virtuoso surveyed its 370 agencies and their more than 9,800 elite travel advisors to decide the Best of the Best winners in ten categories, ranging from the most innovative guest experience to top hotel and hotelier of the year. Virtuoso's expert advisors also initially nominated exceptional hotels for the awards. Editors of VIRTUOSO LIFE, the network's multi-award-winning magazine, then researched the advisor suggestions and selected final nominees in each category.

With a diverse portfolio of nearly 1,100 hotels, resorts, villas and private island retreats in more than 100 countries, Virtuoso Hotels & Resorts is revered as the industry's most prestigious hotel program. Founded in 1992, the program is also luxury travel's longest-running, with more five-star properties than any other.

"When your competitive set includes the greatest hotels in the world, being named the best within your given category is truly a feat, and we are honored to recognize these 11 winners as both exceptional standouts as well as incredible partners to the Virtuoso network," says Albert Herrera, senior vice president of Global Product Partnerships for Virtuoso. "Virtuoso travel advisors have exacting standards for their clients and to declare these hotels as the Best of the Best means each epitomizes the highest level of luxury hospitality. Their achievements showcase the very hallmark of this network-creating lifelong memories and enriching human connections through travel."

The Best of the Best winners were revealed during the Hotels & Resorts Dinner before more than 1,500 of luxury travel's brightest stars.

The categories and winners are:

Hotel of the Year: Ashford Castle, County Mayo, Galway, Ireland

Hotelier of the Year: Antonio Sersale, Le Sirenuse, Positano, Italy

Best Achievement in Design: The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, Japan

Best Culinary Experience: Epicure, Le Bristol Paris, France

Best Family Program: Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida, USA

Best Spa: Dolder Grand Spa, The Dolder Grand, Zurich, Switzerland

Most Innovative Guest Experience (tie): Corcovado Experience, Belmond Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Red Carpet Ready, The Peninsula Beverly Hills, California, USA

Sustainable Tourism Leadership - Hotels: The Brando, French Polynesia

One to Watch: Rosewood Beijing, China

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What is the future of hotel rate parity in the U.S.?

August 13, 2015

The United States could follow suit via legislative action. Even if it does not, the increasing availability of different booking rates in Europe will at the very least train international travelers to use meta-search engines to locate and compare different OTA rates. These travelers will soon want and expect to be able to employ the same type of online rate-shopping in the United States.

These changes may signal a relaxing of rate parity restrictions across the board, and decrease the OTAs’ strong market power overall. Hoteliers should be prepared to take advantage of the changes in this evolving landscape. In particular, in-house and outside legal counsel negotiating agreements with OTAs should be ready to flex their bargaining power, and negotiate for preferred marketing terms.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Why the Expedia-Orbitz merger is no big deal

August 13, 2015

As booking sites consolidate, what does this mean for travelers?

In February of this year, travel booking site Expedia announced that it would acquire Orbitz for $1.3 billion. This news came just weeks after Expedia purchased another rival booking site, Travelocity. Over the years, Expedia has also acquired several other sites including,,, and

But last week, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (the hotel industry lobby group), slammed the Expedia-Orbitz merger, saying it would “severely reduce consumer choice in the online marketplace.” The group urged the U.S. Department of Justice, which is reviewing the merger, to stop it from happening. AHLA also voiced their concern about the commission fees that Expedia could charge hotels once it acquires Orbitz. Typically, Expedia charges 11 percent more in fees than Orbitz.

Meanwhile, Consumer Watchdog issued its own statement yesterday, asking the U.S. Department of Justice to block the merger to “maintain vital competition that ensures fair prices for consumers." Consumer Watchdog said if the merger were to go through, Expedia and Priceline would control 95 percent of online travel agency bookings.

That sounds worrisome, but in truth, the merger may not affect consumers all that much, thanks to myriad other ways to book travel.

Get the full story at Condé Nast Traveler

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Orbitz first OTA to offer vacation packages in a mobile app

August 13, 2015

The award-winning mobile app, named one of the most loved consumer travel apps by Applause, now allows consumers to easily search and book tens of thousands of flight plus hotel vacation package combinations in just a few taps. The app suggests flight and hotel packages with the best value, allowing consumers to easily select and book a vacation in just two minutes. Need a larger room, or to fly at a different time? No problem. Travelers can easily customize their package, changing hotel, room type and flight according to their preference. And before they book, the app will show consumers how much they will save by booking the hotel and flight together.

Vacation packages are available on the Orbitz Android app and will be available on the Orbitz iOS app later in the month. Download the free Orbitz app now.

“The focus across the travel industry has been on last-minute hotel bookings in mobile apps, but at Orbitz, we are beginning to see an expansion of how consumers are using their mobile devices,” said Chris Brown, chief product officer of “The launch of vacation packages in our app is so timely because consumers are no longer only using mobile devices for searching or making last-minute plans but are increasingly booking bigger trips requiring more advanced planning. Over the past year, Orbitz has seen a 100 percent increase in vacation package bookings on a smartphone through our mobile web site. On average, customers are spending nearly $1,700 on those packages and purchasing them almost two months in advance. We’re thrilled to now offer an app-based experience that makes booking a flight plus hotel vacation package easy and lightning fast.”

Book a vacation package now to save

Vacation packages are the number one most requested feature by Orbitz app users and deliver the greatest value to consumers looking to save on travel. Travelers can save up to $6751 when booking a package on, and this year, customers realized over $20 million2 in package savings.

To save consumers even more, the Orbitz Mobile Steals program has been expanded beyond just hotels and car rentals to include vacation packages. When travelers book a vacation package on the Orbitz mobile app, they can save up to 50 percent off thousands of vacation packages worldwide. To find these exclusive mobile-only deals, look for the "Hotel Deal" icon when doing a vacation package search in the Orbitz app.

Through September 21, Orbitz Rewards members can also earn double Orbucks (2 percent) on flight plus hotel vacation packages when booking via the Orbitz mobile app. The award-winning Orbitz Rewards program has reached over 4 million members, who can earn up to 5 percent on travel (10 percent when using the Orbitz Rewards Visa Card). Join now to not only earn Orbucks but to also get member benefits such as complimentary TSA PreCheck.

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Study finds daily smartphone use substantially influences travel experience

August 13, 2015

The everyday use of smartphones spills over to the tourist experience, according to Dr Dan Wang of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and co-authors in a recently published research article. The researchers argue that “understanding how the smartphone shapes the tourist experience cannot be separated from the way it is used in one’s everyday life”, to the extent that “everyday life and travel should not be viewed as completely separated entities, but rather special cases of each other”. The impact of technology on travel evolves, they suggest, “as the traveler gains experience using new technologies” and the benefits those technologies bring.

Smartphone use is most definitely transforming our daily lives, allowing us to listen to music, take photographs, socialise with friends, obtain information and make purchases wherever we want. This should have clear implications for travel, but the researchers note that tourism is still seen as somehow distinct from everyday life. It is time that travel is no longer seen as “a temporary reversal of everyday activities” that essentially involves “a no-work, no-care, no-thrift situation”, they argue. With friends and family – and the workplace – now just a swipe away, it is increasingly difficult to truly switch off, leading to a “decapsulation” of the tourist experience.

The researchers argue that there is a “mutual penetration of the experiences from the travel context and everyday life context”. Although keeping in constant contact with those at home and having a wealth of information about the destination in one’s pocket may diminish the sense of adventure and escape, it can enhance the travel experience. Yet even though there is a great deal of evidence that tourists use mobile technology before, during and after their trips, a thoroughly convincing explanation for why that is occurring has not been put forward.

Get the full story at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PDF 50 KB)

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Marriott’s ‘Year in Review’ email campaign helps increase revenue 86% year-over-year

August 13, 2015

Clark Cummings, Senior Manager of Member Marketing, Marriott International and his team decided to create a "This Year in Review" campaign for their Marriott Rewards newsletter list. The team started working on the send in mid-September with a planned send date at the end of December.

Because there were several factors involved in this send, the team at Marriott International had to reach outside of Marriott International's marketing department.

"It touched multiple departments within our organization, all of our agency vendors. There were a lot of hands involved," Cummings said. "We wanted to do something that was much more light-hearted and had a more personal touch to it … It was really new and exciting territory for us to cover."

The Year in Review send helped triple the December average of revenue per message delivered. Learn how this customer-centric send contributed to making Marriott's Q4 of 2014 the most successful fourth quarter in three years.

Get the full story at MarketingSherpa

Read also "Email strategies must include a more cross-channel attitude toward customer interactions" at eMarketer

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Moz releases 2015 search engine ranking factors

August 13, 2015

Chock-full of beautiful graphics (powered by robust crowdsourced data), the 2015 Ranking Factors Study is a must-read. A few morsels from the study:

- The continued lessening of the importance of on-page keyword use
- A high correlation between links and ranks
- Low relationship between type of top-level domain (TLD) and rankings
- Social shares and the correlation with positive rankings
- Engagement metrics that correlate lower bounce rates with better rankings

Get the full study at Moz

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Don’t leave innovation to the intermediaries

August 13, 2015

The hotel industry has to adapt and innovate. They can’t continue to let third-party distribution channels lead the way and be the ones giving consumers what they want.

At the Revenue Strategy Summit the week before in Washington D.C., a company called HotelsByDay presented their business model to an audience of hoteliers. The response, from some, seemed to be more about how and why this couldn’t or wouldn’t work. I’m not sure how successful HotelsByDay will be, but I’m sure there’s consumer demand for what the startup is trying to offer.

The technology company provides the ability for consumers to book rooms for a few hours at a time, during the day, instead of the typical 3 p.m. check-in and noon check-out. I would love that option, and I bet I’m not alone. I’ve booked an extra night before when I’ve had an evening flight just so I could have a quiet place for conference calls.

Get the full story at Duetto

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How problematic WiFi affects relationships with mobile-savvy guests

August 13, 2015

Problematic WiFi for smartphones and tablets may also have a detrimental effect on the slew of new mobile-first services that hotel brands are beginning to roll out.

Hotel concierge applications are becoming a must-have for major hospitality brands seeking to tap into guests’ smartphones to anticipate their needs before arrival on premises (see story).

Some properties are going so far as to allow their customers to place orders for food and beverages from the hotel pool or other facilities, suggesting the WiFi must be spotless for these functions to work seamlessly.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

Read also "Infographic: What guests want from hotel Wi-Fi" at Hotel News Now

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GDS hotel bookings deliver highest ADR growth in Q2

August 12, 2015

Consumers used both “new school” and “old school” approaches to booking hotel rooms for business and leisure travel in Q2 2015. According to data from the TravelClick North American Distribution Review (NADR; Q3 2015), mobile bookings through hotel company websites (, online travel agents (OTAs) and in-person travel agents (global distribution systems / GDS) experienced the most growth. The TravelClick NADR aggregates hotel bookings by channel for the transient segment (individual leisure and business travelers).

In Q2 2015, the OTA (which includes,,, etc.), and GDS channels all experienced healthy growth in the transient segment, up 9.7 percent, 5.8 percent and 2.2 percent respectively. Hotel Direct (calls made directly to the property and walk-in customers) and calls to a hotel’s 800-number (the CRO channel) decreased by -7.2 percent and -5.6 percent respectively. Based on reservations that are currently booked for Q3, TravelClick expects to see similar booking patterns when the quarter is complete.

“Mobile bookings are increasing at impressive levels, and we anticipate the trend continuing into the foreseeable future,” said John Hach, Senior Industry Analyst at TravelClick. “It’s not just millennials who are using their mobile devices to research and book rooms – it’s happening across all major consumer segments. Interestingly, the GDS continues to demonstrate growth, especially with higher ADR bookings.”

Average daily rates (ADR) across all channels increased by 4.4 percent compared to Q2 2014. The GDS channel has the highest growth in the quarter, up 4.9 percent year-over-year.

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Luxury hoteliers pitch new openings to travel agents

August 12, 2015

Next week MAGIC will fill Las Vegas with fashion makers pitching their newest designs. This week, luxury hoteliers are here in the desert, talking up new hotels they are getting ready to open to over 2,000 travel agents who are part of Virtuoso’s network of travel advisors.

Kelly Grumbach, General Manager at Quintessenitally Travel, says, it’s not unusual for her well-to-do Millennial customers to decide to go to Mumbai or Tokyo for the weekend, bringing with them a list of both dietary requirements and specifications on bedding. Jack Ezon, President of Ovation Vacations, adds that the needs and wants of today’s luxury customers can’t be met easily by online travel agencies. Grumbach notes that when a client isn’t happy, she is on call to pick up the phone and call the general manager to get things sorted out. Sorry Captain Kirk.

With that in mind, CEOs and senior executives from top hotel groups are in town to make sure the travel trade knows about what’s new and make sure their offerings are top of mind in the ever more cluttered luxury segment.

Get the full story at Forbes

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APAC: Expedia wants to see OTAs in a new light

August 12, 2015

In the six months since she’s come into travel, the Dutch executive has been on a steep learning curve. What she’s found interesting is “how different hotels use different distribution channels in different ways”.

“Some hotels are quite conservative in their channel mix, using traditional wholesale, while some have moved to e-commerce channels. It’s a lot to do with heritage. New hotels, because they don’t have legacy, are more fully into e-commerce.”

Her mission is to convince hoteliers of the value of OTA distribution. “We can help to yield revenues and with our technology and marketing, bring more customers to them.”

Get the full story at Web in Travel

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Why the hotel industry is ripe for tech innovation

August 12, 2015

Online travel agencies like Priceline and Expedia have grown to become multi-billion-dollar players dominating the customer shopping experience, and many others have tried following suit, from emerging companies like HotelTonight to retail giant Amazon, which recently launched its own hotel booking portal.

That trend isn’t slowing, but it seems others are beginning to realize there is an incredible opportunity for technology innovation within the industry.

In the past 18 months, billions of dollars have been invested by a wide array of companies targeting many of the different kinds of systems hotels use to run their businesses.

These companies, many just entering the space and others doubling down on it, show that the global hotel business is massive, growing and hungry for better technology.

Get the full story at The Business Journals

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Reader’s Digest and Priceline partner

August 12, 2015

Reader's Digest Association (RDA), home to some of the world's largest, most trusted and iconic media brands, today announced an agreement with the Priceline Partner Network to integrate custom online travel centers into its flagship media properties.

RDA is kicking off the agreement with Travel Centers located at on the Reader's Digest magazine website and at, on the Taste of Home magazine website (set to launch September 1), where consumers can access a robust collection of U.S. and international travel services from the Priceline Partner Network.

"Our highly engaged, significant audiences have strong affinities for travel, with surveys showing that 70 percent of the RDA audience sees Reader's Digest as a credible source for travel information and a majority interested in purchasing travel services on our brand sites," said Leslie Dukker Doty, Reader's Digest Association Chief Marketing Officer. "Our partnership with Priceline Partner Network is a natural fit, creating a mutually beneficial bridge across two highly valued brands while bringing meaningful resources and content that further enhances our readers' lives."

The vast array of travel services offered through the and Travel Centers include:

- Hotel room bookings from published-price hotel rooms through over 200,000 hotels worldwide;
- Hotel freebie access from Priceline' Partner Network's s extensive database including instant discounts, free breakfast, free Internet access and more;
- Global rental car reservation bookings, Including rental car company discount codes;
- Airline ticketing with almost all major airlines, including seat mapping, booking different classes of seats, and airline frequent flier number support;
- Broad lineup of money-saving air and hotel vacation packages, providing up to $500 in savings when air and hotel are booked together, as compared to booking separately.

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Hilton launches mobile room key

August 12, 2015

Hilton Worldwide today introduced Digital Key, an all-new feature of the Hilton HHonors app, providing the loyalty program’s members more choice and control over their entire travel experience. Digital Key now gives frequent guests the option to bypass the hotel check-in counter and access their rooms, as well as any other area of the hotel that requires a key, directly via the Hilton HHonors app on their smartphones. By early 2016, HHonors members will be able to use their smartphones as their room key to enter more than 170,000 rooms at 250 U.S. properties within the Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts and Canopy by Hilton brands.

“Imagine if an HHonors member is arriving at our hotel after a long trip or running late to a meeting, Digital Key can provide our frequent guests the added benefit of going straight to their room without stopping at the front desk.”

Since Hilton’s introduction of digital check-in with room selection last July – an industry first – HHonors members have digitally checked-in more than 5 million times to date. In that same time period, the HHonors app has been downloaded more than 2 million times, and customer feedback on digital check-in has been overwhelmingly positive, with 93 percent of guests saying they’ve felt satisfied or extremely satisfied with the experience.

“HHonors members can use digital check-in and room selection at more than 4,100 properties globally – and those who have used it have shared exceptional feedback,” said Geraldine Calpin, senior vice president and global head of Digital, Hilton Worldwide. “With Digital Key, we are making the guest experience even more seamless through our improved mobile app.”

The Hilton HHonors mobile app provides a number of benefits to members of the program who book directly though the app,, the Hilton reservations call center or via Hilton’s corporate travel partners. In addition to checking in digitally, selecting their own room from a floor plan or list and using their smartphone as their key, members can further customize their stay via the app by requesting amenities – like extra pillows, snacks or drinks – before arrival, or at any other point during their stay.

“Through our app, we’re giving HHonors members the ability to better control and personalize their stay with us,” said Calpin. “Imagine if an HHonors member is arriving at our hotel after a long trip or running late to a meeting, Digital Key can provide our frequent guests the added benefit of going straight to their room without stopping at the front desk.”

Digital Key provides guests with an additional convenient and secure way to access their room. Beginning the day before arrival, HHonors members who booked directly with Hilton may select their desired room on their mobile device using digital check-in and will be asked if they’d like a Digital Key during their stay. If the guest elects to use a Digital Key, it is issued as soon as the guest's room is ready the day of their arrival.

When Diamond, Gold and Silver HHonors members arrive at the hotel, they can head straight to their room - without stopping at the front desk* - since they already digitally checked-in through the HHonors app. When the guest approaches their hotel room, they can simply press the virtual “unlock” button on the app to unlock the door.

Digital Key beta testing commenced earlier this month at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town in Alexandria, Va., and will continue through 2015 at select U.S. properties across four brands including Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts and Canopy by Hilton. Digital Key will first be available on the iOS platform and, later this year, it will be offered to Android users.

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Study: Online hotel reviews, and how guests react to hotelier response

August 12, 2015

The paper, “Thumbs Down…to Thumbs Up,” draws on a variety of worldwide studies to show how travelers and consumers review and purchase.

Per the paper, one Cornell Hospitality Quarterly study in 2014 showed how online reviews can actually increase a hotel’s revenue per available room (RevPAR), one of the industry’s most important performance metrics.

For the study, authors Ines Blal and Michael Sturman obtained TripAdvisor reviews from more than 300 hotels in London over a 13-week period, as well as RevPAR and occupancy data from STR Global for these same hotels. They found that a hotel’s review score increased RevPAR for higher-end hotels, regardless of the number of reviews. On the other hand, a lower-end hotel’s RevPAR generally increased as the number of reviews increased.

Get the full story at TravelPulse and download the full report atAccenture (PDF 1.6 MB)

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How the travel industry is taking retail’s lead on big data

August 12, 2015

Amadeus alone performs one billion transactions - including airline reservations, hotel bookings and rail purchases - each day, each of which leaves a data trail.

The data from these transactions, combined with external sources such as reviews, adds up to an enormous amount. However, as other industries are increasingly seeing the benefits that come from using business intelligence, the travel industry is beginning to more actively embrace the opportunities around big data and looking to overcome its challenges.

Traditionally, travel businesses have tracked detailed demographic statistics, bounce rates and conversion funnels, but now they have access to other data, including external information such as from social media or even weather patterns.

Understanding this information - and the array of other data available - is an important factor in creating a personalised travel experience. This is a key part of why travel providers are looking to big data: to deliver a flawless and personalised experience to the customer.

Get the full story at Information Age

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Hate-selling travel sites beg to be hated by customers

August 11, 2015

If you’ve done any amount of travel and booked your own arrangements, none of this will be a surprise. And things keep getting worse. Some airlines have pulled out of the online travel sites (Southwest never provided their information in the first place) because they don’t want consumers to be able to comparison shop. With options come negotiating power and pressure for better services and pricing.

Almost all the service providers deconstruct their pricing and offerings for two reasons. One is so they can present a “base” price that seems more competitive. The other is to provide greater opportunities to upsell things that, not long ago, a reasonable consumer might have expected as part of regular service. (For example, just why does any luxury hotel still charge for Wi-Fi?)

All businesses want customers and need to make sales, but there comes a time that your very effort undermines the entire business and leaves it vulnerable. As Ali put it, online travel sites show that strategies to convert visitors to buyers are out of control because they become the entire basis for the interchange. Everything becomes “only 2 seats left at this price!” That may or may not be true, but it eventually becomes the company that cried wolf.

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Early planners prevail in new era of travel

August 11, 2015

“The airline industry has done a tremendous job of maintaining capacity discipline and identifying opportunities to unbundle and monetize ancillary products,” said Booz Allen Chief Scientist Alex Cosmas, head of the firm’s travel practice. "However, while these have contributed to the industry’s record profitability, both have unfortunately applied pressure on the customer experience.”

To that end, Booz Allen’s market analysis models have revealed consistent trends - validated by industry insiders and the firm’s clients - that provide a new look at the contemporary passenger experience:

- Airline booking curves have shifted by one week over the past year, resulting in earlier competition for seats.

- A two percent increase in load factors has resulted in window and aisle seats being grabbed, on average, three days earlier this summer than last summer.

- It is 34 percent less likely that a middle seat will remain empty, as compared to last year.

- Despite a rapidly-growing base of over two million members in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Global Entry fast-track program, customs wait times are ten percent more likely to exceed 30 minutes, as compared to last year.

Dr. Jinane Abounadi, an airline distribution expert with Booz Allen, advises that, as airlines increasingly leverage complex systems to optimize their operations and revenue, customers will find fewer and fewer “steals” to celebrate. Today’s airlines are not only servicing higher volumes of passengers but are also held to the high service standards of the digital age. Contemporary travelers demand accurate information on-command as well as the ability to make changes and requests in real-time.

According to analysts at Juniper Research, one-third of all boarding passes will be issued on mobile devices by 2019, quickly making planning ahead, self-service and selective buying the new airline industry normal.

“Early planners will prevail in this new era of travel, and procrastinators will pay in both time and money,” said Dr. Christoph Wollersheim, a senior aviation economist for Booz Allen. “The focus must now shift to how the travel industry can service record demand while recapturing the hearts of the traveling public by redefining customer service.”

In light of the growing trend toward consumer self-reliance, the firm has observed tourism organizations increasingly using analytics to deliver more personalized customer service – mirroring trends seen in the retail sector.

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UK: Airlines rate poorly for customer loyalty

August 11, 2015

This is only marginally behind price discounts, where just over a quarter (29%) said this was the top influencer.

More than a third of people (36%) would like airlines to reward them in loyalty currency - this was preferred over exclusive discounts (24%) and cashback (24%).

Of those who are a member, the top three most popular airline loyalty schemes in the UK are:

- British Airways – Executive Club - 50%
- Virgin Atlantic Airways – Flying Club - 31%
- Emirates Skywards Miles - 19%

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

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The fall of Flash in digital hotel marketing

August 11, 2015

One underlying reason may be that Adobe Flash has a history of security issues and has become a favorite avenue for hackers who utilize its security vulnerability to dump malicious code to millions of users, as illustrated by the most recent attack on Yahoo Ad Network. And according to Ad Age, all of the major browsers will begin phasing out Flash banner ads within the next six months, starting with Google Chrome’s landscape-shifting decision to begin forcing users to opt in to view individual Flash-generated ad animations.

Underlining the critical nature of this shift away from Flash is the surging popularity of the mobile channel as a traffic and revenue stream. In the past year, mobile has officially surpassed desktop as the most popular search query channel, growing by 23% as users who at one time planned travel from their desktops have graduated to become cross-device consumers. In fact, nine out of every ten people use multiple device categories sequentially, according to Google research. Smartphones, which are often Flash-incompatible, account for 65% of multi-screen research.

Put simply, hoteliers and digital marketers who choose to stick with Flash will be left in the dust, operating with a greatly reduced ability to reach audiences and drive revenues. There is some good news: HTML5 banner technology serves as a dynamic, cost-effective and engaging path by which to secure visits and conversions. Hotel digital marketers who act quickly to turn toward establishing an HTML5 standard will enjoy the benefit of cross-platform adaptability on desktop, mobile and tablet and cut costs typically invested in mobile-specific Flash ad creation.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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