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How envisions the future of travel

July 29, 2016

“I like to think of Europe as potentially like a [theme] park,” says Adrienne Enggist, director of product at “We can help people find the right time to visit so that they don’t have to stand in hour-long queues and they’re not inundated with tourists and not [having] the real experience of the destination and I think there are big data challenges and machine-learning challenges there.”

Having a ‘real experience’ in a destination is a big concern for the future it seems: “Travel is now so accessible to so many people which is an awesome thing, but at the same time we’re in this selfie-stick era, [where] everything is mass travel and ticking off the main sights,” says Sophie Parker, director of product. “I really hope that we see a return to authentic travel and people being able to find new places, new things and new experiences that really match them.

“I think the rise in user-generated content, with reviews, with AI, with all the data we have about people’s preferences and all of the extremely rich information that we have about destinations and why people travel and when, we can really help people have unique experiences, and that’s what I hope.”

Get the full story at the Director

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OTAs hit back at European hotels over distribution criticism

July 29, 2016

ETTSA, which counts Expedia Inc brands Expedia, and Venere amongst its members (but not any Priceline Group-owned sites), says hoteliers will “evidently claim that their distribution is too expensive, but these claims should not be used as a basis for assessing the effectiveness of the introduction of narrow rate parity”.

HOTREC members, in its survey, say that they haven’t seen any increase in competition or any change to commission levels as a result of narrow parity clauses in the last 12 months.

Still, at ETTSA official hints that hotels should see the bigger picture.

Get the full story at Tnooz

Read also "Independent hotels increasingly dependent on OTAs"

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Has the lodging recovery stalled?

July 29, 2016

New supply is beginning to outpace demand and sluggish GDP and inflationary growth, recorded so far this year, have caused many industry experts to reduce their projections for the rest of 2016.

According to US Lodging research released by hotel research and data analytics firm STR, 2016 marked the industry’s first year-over-year quarterly occupancy decline in over six years as well as the lowest RevPAR growth since the start of the recovery in 2010.

Hotel occupancy in the US fell 0.5% to 67% in the first quarter of 2016 while RevPAR growth for the first five months of the year dipped down to 3%. Compared to the 6-8% RevPAR increases the sector has been seeing in the past five years, CBRE projects RevPAR to only rise 4.2% for 2016. Despite expectations of deceleration in the next few years, hotel fundamentals are still considered strong and performance has remained near peak levels.

Download the full report at Trepp or read it only at Hotel Online

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Chinese tourists shun western Europe in wake of terror attacks

July 29, 2016

Even more Chinese tourists will be deterred from once must-see destinations by the killings in Nice, the Munich shooting last week and the knife attack in a Normandy church, according to analysts and travel agents., China’s major online travel agency, said more travellers were shifting their sights to other parts of the continent.

“Since the terrorist attack [in Paris] last year, many tourists have looked to Eastern European routes such as Hungary and the Czech Republic or Northern European countries such as Finland and Sweden,” said.

Get the full story at the South China Morning Post

Read also "Survey: 6% of Americans have canceled vacations for fear of terror" at Travel Weekly

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Welcome to Managed Travel 3.0

July 29, 2016

Change is upon us. New entrants are disrupting the norm, creating the need for signi cant innovation and heightened di erentiation. Established players in Managed Travel are transforming themselves strategically and operationally in a bid to compete e ectively in a virtual, digital and mobile marketplace.

This Amadeus paper sets out to provide insight into what Amadeus has termed Managed Travel 3.0. It will address both the technology trends that are shaping traveller and industry alike and the players in the Managed Travel ecosystem and their evolution potential. The leading travel management companies (TMC) will set out their view of Managed Travel 3.0 and how they are preparing themselves for the new norm.

Now is the critical moment for TMCs to re ect on the path they will take. Managed Travel 3.0 is here: it is all about the corporate citizen, the interaction and the experience Managed Travel can create. The future is bright and is set to get brighter for corporations, corporate travellers and their travel management companies.

Download the whitepaper at Amadeus (PDF 864 KB)

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How Virgin Hotels’ digital marketing strategy has taken shape

July 29, 2016

Yet not for long. The U.S.-based lodging brand spawned from Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is planning to open at least four more hotels in the coming years in New York, Nashville, Palm Springs, and Dallas.

Like other Virgin Group companies formed under Branson’s entrepreneurial spirit (from Virgin Atlantic to Virgin Galactic), Virgin Hotels has hoped to disrupt the hospitality industry’s usual mode of business.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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Calling all innovators: HSMAI Adrian Awards 2016 open for entry

July 29, 2016

This year’s addition of new categories reflects the industry’s increasing innovation and diversity. The 2016 Adrian Award winners will be celebrated at the HSMAI Adrian Awards Gala on February 21, 2017 at the New York Marriott Marquis.

“As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Adrian Awards, we are proud that the industry recognizes the Adrian Awards as the most prestigious honor given in travel marketing,” said Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, president and CEO of HSMAI. “While we reflect on the rich history of the Adrian Awards, we also embrace the constant evolution of our industry. We are excited to introduce new categories this year that help us honor travel marketing professionals who are on the cutting-edge.”

HSMAI has added new Innovation categories, as well as new Multi-cultural, Youth, LGBT, and Global campaign categories, to each division. Additional new categories for 2016 include Influencer Marketing in the Public Relations division and Virtual Reality in the Digital Marketing division.

“Our theme for this year’s Adrian Awards is ‘Big Dreams,’” said Fran Brasseux, CHSE, CHBA, executive vice president, HSMAI. “Travel marketing professionals are dreaming up innovative, creative campaigns, and the Adrian Awards are the perfect way for the industry to recognize their outstanding work.”

Travel industry professionals compete in the divisions of advertising, digital marketing and public relations. Gold, Silver and Bronze awards will be given in each category. Platinum winners are selected as the most extraordinary entrants, and the highest distinction – “Best of Show” – is granted to the top Platinum winners. The 2015 Public Relations Best of Show Adrian Award winner is featured in the new video Anatomy of an HSMAI Adrian Award, presented by the HSMAI Foundation.

Benefactor Awards presented at the gala include:

- Leader in Sustainable Tourism Award, presented by HSMAI in conjunction with National Geographic Traveler, for exemplary leadership and innovation in preserving and communicating an authentic sense of place through a wisely managed tourism program.

- Pioneer in Visual Storytelling Award, presented by benefactor partner Libris.

The Adrian Awards’ early entry deadline is August 31, and the final deadline is September 16. All entries for the Adrian Awards must be submitted online. In addition, HSMAI is accepting nominations for “The HSMAI Top 25: Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, Revenue Optimization 2016,” and Lifetime Achievement honors. For submission guidelines and award information, visit

Winners will be honored during the HSMAI Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala, February 21, 2017 at the New York Marriott Marquis, co-sponsored by HSMAI,, Google, and TravelClick. This black-tie networking event will celebrate award-winning work, lifetime achievement, and the “Top 25.” Special recognition will be given to Gold winners during the Gold Gallery Dinner Reception. In addition, winning entries will be viewable in the winner’s gallery on the Adrian Awards website and in a special issue article.

The Adrian Awards entries will be judged by advertising, digital marketing and public relations experts and leading members of the travel industry. Professionals interested in being a judge can contact HSMAI at adrianawards(at)hsmai(dot)org.

For more information on the Adrian Awards competition please contact Ellen Wilson at ewilson(at)hsmai(dot)org, visit, or follow Adrian Awards news on Twitter at For information on becoming an Adrian Awards partner, contact Nora Cloherty at ncloherty(at)hsmai(dot)org.

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Is your hotel getting the best ranking on TripAdvisor?

July 29, 2016

Each site has its own secret sauce that determines what pops up first on a consumer’s screen. The formulas vary based on continually fine-tuned algorithms that use a range of factors from guest reviews, complaints, even volume and quality of photos. Earlier this year, the WSJ explored the strategies used by different sites to determine hotel position and influence consumer choice, with the intent of making travel planning easier for the consumer.

With 87% of consumers doing the majority of travel planning on the Internet*, travel site rank is more important than ever. Hotels need to understand how they’re performing online compared to their comp set and how they rank against those hotels on the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor.

Get the full story at nSight

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Travelers embracing human travel agents again for inspiration

July 28, 2016

Although there are about half the number of travel agents working in the U.S. as there were in 2000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this new paradigm has created a space, once more, for old-fashioned human intervention. According to MMGY’s Reid, 28% of millennials surveyed said they had consulted a traditional travel agent in the last 12 months - higher than any other age segment - and 30% said they plan to do so in the next two years.

It’s worth asking if we lose something by relying solely on technology to plan a vacation. “Having a travel agent can optimize a trip for you,” says Paul English, the co-founder of a new travel app called Lola. Planning a trip shouldn’t be a stressful experience. “If the travel agent has expertise and knows your preferences well, they can cut down your options to the best two or three. It saves people time.”

Lola is one example of what travel planning in the future may look like. The app, which is currently in limited-release, is intuitively easy to use, and supplements technological innovation and data with responsive customer service. To begin, you simply send a text about what kind of trip you’re planning. It can be vague or specific, because it’s just a conversation starter: on the other end is a travel consultant, equipped with experience, data, and your stated preferences to help plan your trip.

Get the full story at Fortune

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Lufthansa selling flights on Airbnb

July 28, 2016

Last week (July 20), the German airline lowered its profit expectations for 2016, saying it would likely earn less than the year before. “Advance bookings, especially on long-haul routes to Europe, have declined significantly, in particular due to repeated terrorist attacks in Europe and to greater political and economic uncertainty since the original forecast was made in March,” the airline said.

Airlines have benefitted from cheap fuel this year, and as their biggest variable cost fell, many added seats and flights. But that strategy is backfiring now as demand drops, and the result is an airfare war between airlines and flights that are the cheapest they’ve been in years.

It’s the first time an airline has listed flights on the room-and-home-rental site, according to Airbnb, though Dutch airline KLM has previously offered a night on a grounded jet at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

Get the full story at Quarz

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Expedia, Priceline impart travel info to mobile concierge service

July 28, 2016

With startups and mobile dramatically changing the culture of retail, many retailers have been forced to work with outside platforms and others to stay competitive in the overcrowded market. Expedia and Priceline are working with a new mobile app that acts as a personal assistant to stay on top in the competitive travel booking industry.

“When consumers visit retailers they are overwhelmed with hundreds and thousands of options,” said Swapnil Shinde, CEO of Mezi. “[For example] a search for running shoes on amazon returns 200,000+ results.

“Research shows that 45 percent of consumers are overwhelmed with too many options and as a result, they are facing serious decision dilemma,” he said.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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AccorHotels to acquire John Paul, a leader in the concierge market

July 28, 2016

The company's Enterprise Value should be close to 150 million dollars i.e. a 2017e EV/EBITDA multiple of c. 11X. Accorhotels should acquire about 80% of John Paul, the remaining stake being kept by David Amsellem, the founder of the company, who will remain as CEO.

After Wipolo, Oasis Collections, SquareBreak and onefinestay, the acquisition of John Paul, world leader in the customer loyalty and concierge markets marks a major new step in transforming AccorHotels into a travel companion providing innovative services to travelers at every step of their journey.

Founded in Paris in 2007, John Paul merged with LesConcierges in 2015, creating the world leader in loyalty services with a combined workforce of 1,000 highly skilled and trained people, across all five continents. The team works as a partner to the world's leading brands and a bespoke concierge available around the clock, 7 days a week, anywhere in the world, to meet their customers' request from the simplest to the most complex.

The first technology enabled concierge, equipped with a proprietary Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and data platform based on a behavioral profiling and a 360°personalization, as well as a network of over 50,000 partners in more than 50 countries, the company offers the most exhaustive and global loyalty solutions to prestigious brands in the financial, automotive, travel, consumer, healthcare, pharma, luxury industries and more.

With a superior technology supporting its premium service culture, and sound profitability, John Paul has become the acknowledged expert to assist its clients from designing their offer to implementing their customized loyalty programs, which comprises a full service offer with content and cross-channel marketing.

Sebastien Bazin, Chairman & CEO of AccorHotels explained: « The acquisition of John Paul enables us to accelerate our global strategy to position the customer experience at the very heart of our initiatives. Their expertise in customization combined with a wide range of services and cutting-edge technology, gives us the opportunity to boost the value of the relationships with our guests and partners and multiply the number of touch points. It means a further solidification of our customer relation through an attractive offer and a higher usage, an increased personalization of our services thanks to a deeper customer profiling with non-hotel driven information, and the strengthening of our CRM with affinity data. Through this partnership with the world leader in the growing concierge market, AccorHotels positions itself as the best provider of multi-nature services to guests, supporting the whole customer journey, from non-hotel offers to 24/07 assistance through an integrated and innovative solution, like a "Travel Companion" ».

David Amsellem, CEO of Paul John declared: "From inception, I founded John Paul deeply rooted with a passion for service and hospitality. My vision is that we can enhance the lives of millions of guests by delivering the highest personalized service.

Over the past few years, John Paul has made a huge growth across industries. Now that we are the worldwide leader in premium loyalty solutions, we feel that we are at a tipping point in our venture and we need the empowerment of a strong leader to support the current traction. Entering the travel industry supported by AccorHotels means much more to the 1,000 people of the John Paul Group: we feel that combining our strengths will create a game changer in the industry".

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Is Google Maps the next big marketing platform?

July 28, 2016

Maps’ increased importance as a marketing medium have been driven by the growth in mobile usage, where maps play a crucial navigational role. More than a billion people are using maps each day and Google has been busy in making its Maps product a more marketer-friendly environment in many important ways, including:

1. Allowing advertisers to place local search ads on Google Maps. This is both useful for searchers with commercial intent and good for Google, which analysts believe may realize a billion dollars of revenue on Maps next year.

2. Making it easier for Maps users to suggest updates and revisions, thus improving the accuracy of the platform.

3. Adding a Wi-Fi mode to Maps, making it easier for users to use the product when a cell phone connection is not available.

Get the full story at Social Media Today

Read also "Google Maps updates map design, highlights areas of interest"

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Google sunsetting AdWords Converted Clicks in September

July 28, 2016

Conversions and converted clicks have coexisted in AdWords for several years now, but Google has long been urging advertisers to use the more advanced Conversions measurement. Conversions supports multiple attribution models beyond last click, cross-device conversions and store visits.

Google announced on Monday that support for Converted clicks will end after September 2016. Advertisers using Target CPA or Enhanced CPC with Converted clicks should switch to using Conversions by September 21.

Google says it will email affected advertisers a migration tool for making the switch, but it’s easy to make the switch manually as well. In AdWords, select Conversion under Tools, and switch to Conversions under the Settings section. For reporting, select the Conversions columns instead of the Converted clicks columns.

Get the full story at Search Engine Land

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Hotel Distribution 101: How to cut through the online distribution clutter

July 28, 2016

For those hotels who are in need of some guidance on how to get started – or even if you just need a refresher – have a look at presentation slides below. They’ll provide you with valuable tips on how to navigate through the modern distribution landscape for increased performance and growth at your hotel.

Get the presentation at SiteMinder

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3 big reasons hotels need to track inbound phone calls

July 28, 2016

We all know how important it is to monitor data from digital marketing campaigns that boost hotel direct bookings. However, usually those analytics only track online activity and engagement. One of the best ways to bridge the gap between your online and offline marketing activities is by tracking your phone calls using simple new digital tracking technology.

Travelers often want to know more about the experience they’re about to embark on. And, they want to interact with someone on your hotel staff or reservation center to get the answers. This is especially true at resorts or destination properties, where it is extremely common for guests to call and want to speak with someone personally before pulling out a credit card to make a reservation.

Get the full story at Tambourine

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By 2020, digital travel will top $817 billion globally

July 27, 2016

eMarketer estimates worldwide digital travel sales—which include leisure and unmanaged business travel sales booked via any device—will rise 13.8% in 2016 to nearly $565 billion. Double-digit growth in emerging markets, particularly those in Asia-Pacific and Latin America, will help fuel gains throughout the forecast period, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “ Worldwide Digital Travel Sales: The Complete eMarketer Forecast for 2016.”

Stronger-than-expected sales gains in Asia-Pacific have also led eMarketer to raise its growth estimates for worldwide digital travel sales for each year of the forecast period.

Furthermore, low oil prices, which are helping to keep fuel costs down, have allowed airlines to pass along savings to consumers in the form of cheaper airfares. This has resulted in increased demand for travel globally and, consequently, a boost in airline profitability.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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Why TripAdvisor is becoming the Facebook of online travel

July 27, 2016

TripAdvisor is rapidly moving toward increasing profitability, thanks to its game-changing instant-booking feature.

A hit with millennials, who travel more and rely on TripAdvisor for information, and with the invaluable asset in the form of customer reviews, which serve as branding tools, the company's website reaches 340 million unique monthly visitors.

The opinions on TripAdvisor cover more than 6.5 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. Plus it boasts sites that operate in 48 markets worldwide. Be it hotels, attractions or the newly launched airline reviews, the sheer size of valuable information on TripAdvisor makes it the go-to place for those planning to travel.

Get the full story at The Street

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3 travel hacks millennials use

July 27, 2016

When you travel to a new city nothing beats finding those hidden gems like that hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant that has Anthony Bourdain salivating.

Yelp and TripAdvisor are go-tos, but their low-quality photos and opaque rating system has left many--especially Millennials--wanting more.

Spot is a good example. It's a travel app that feels like a hybrid between Foursquare and Instagram, aiming to fill that void and offer users an experience that goes beyond reviews.

Get the full story at

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Google-owned Zagat app gets a makeover, finally becomes useful again

July 27, 2016

Launching first on iOS, the updated Zagat app features a refreshed logo and new look-and-feel, as well as features that tailor the app to the individual user.

Before today’s refresh, the app had a massively outdated user interface that made it seem like a holdover from an earlier era on mobile. Effectively, it seemed like the Zagat app had been abandoned following Google’s acquisition, which was primarily focused on beefing up Google’s own local reviews with Zagat’s data.

The company first used Zagat to overhaul its Google+ Local efforts at a time when it was hoping to turn Google+ into a Facebook competitor where business owners would claim and operate their own pages.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

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Travel editor tells all: 3 foolproof pitching tips

July 27, 2016

1. Think bigger than your client. “It’s often easier for us to cover trends or new markets than it is to do a one-off story on a client,” says Paul Brady, senior editor at Condé Nast Traveler.

He advises answering these questions when crafting pitches: What bigger storyline does your client fit into? In what way are they part of a major movement?

Cruise lines are a great example. “Every cruise line wants big coverage in Condé Nast Traveler,” Brady says, “but I can’t profile particular initiatives like new dining programs or enhancements to existing ships.”

Get the full story at PR Daily

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Google Maps updates map design, highlights areas of interest

July 27, 2016

Google tried to declutter the interface by removing elements that “aren’t absolutely required,” such as road outlines. They also updated the typography of street names, points of interest, transit stations and more “to make them more distinguishable from other things on the map,” Google added.

Plus, Google Maps has the area of interests highlighted as you zoom into the map. This gives searchers a way to zoom into specific areas that they are more interested in. The highlight is done in an orange shade.

Get the full story at Google

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2016 Top Luxury Hotel & Brand Report

July 27, 2016

ReviewPro evaluated a total of 2,690 properties that pertain to 159 luxury brands worldwide and analyzed 2,713,414 online guest reviews published during 2015.

Which oceanfront Miami property was the most improved individual luxury hotel? Which classic large luxury brand performed the best overall for guest satisfaction? What country had the largest number of Top 100 rated luxury properties?

Find out more by downloading the report at ReviewPro

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Drive direct: Best practices for a high-performing hotel website

July 27, 2016

In a poll we conducted in 2016, 60% of hoteliers said their biggest challenge was driving direct website conversions. And STR found that, on average, only one quarter of room nights for independent hotels are made via their hotel website.

So why is driving direct bookings such a challenge? Well, in an effort to make a great website, hoteliers often unknowingly move further away from achieving the goal of their website – converting lookers into bookers. They focus on things that aren’t adding value, versus providing a great user experience that makes the site easy to book through.

So let’s review some of the best practices I shared at the Digital Hotelier Masterclass on how to build a high-performing hotel website that converts.

Get the full story at Leonardo

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Marriott brings its social media war room to Europe

July 26, 2016

As with Marriott’s other full-time war rooms, its London team — two content producers, a data analyst and a graphic designer — will sit above the social channels of its 19 different hotel brands. From here, they serve three functions: identifying trends, creating ad-hoc content and cross-pollinating content across Marriott’s different brand channels. As a kind of all-seeing eye, this involves sifting through a “firehose” of data from internal and external sources: Anything from the most popular emojis in use on its properties to uncovering trending topics on Reddit.

The room is also looped in to real-time results. For example, a page showing the number of sign-ups to its Marriott Rewards program. Further down the line, Marriott will roll out specific dashboards that show a direct correlation between content and bookings.

“Before, we were all waiting to see a campaign was effective and we’d get a report two weeks later. By that time, everyone has moved on to the next assignment, and it’s left forgotten,” explained Matthew Glick, Marriott’s global head of content marketing, who jumped ship from CBS last year.

Get the full story at Digitday

Read also "How Marriott’s real-time command center cultivates social engagement, geo-fencing"

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Can OTAs upstage Google’s travel updates and reclaim mobile customers?

July 26, 2016

The search giant has been angling for a bigger role in the mobile booking sector lately, a notion that may be disconcerting for online travel agencies and airline marketers seeking to garner more sales traffic from smartphones. Google’s latest search iterations – which also extend to the retail sector – indicate that consumers are looking for real-time inventory updates and customized suggestions more than ever before, meaning that predictive analytics will become paramount for travel providers this year.

“The new features launched by Google puts [the company] one step closer toward understanding the modern traveler’s online behavior, helping it own the customer experience and forcing travel providers to become just a service vehicle – taking a backseat on opportunities to own the customer journey, relegated to one part of the process,” said Dave O’Flanagan, CEO of Boxever. “By better understanding the customer, Google and others such as Facebook are able to capitalize on upsell and cross-sell opportunities, estimated to be worth $60 billion for airlines alone in 2015.

“A cross-channel experience is paramount to success, and mobile is key to growing this ancillary revenue model,” he said. “Travel providers are also losing the ability to provide unique customer experiences and eroded loyalty by not knowing their customers as well as they could, opening the door for new stakeholders to jump in.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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Customer experience becomes inherently mobile at Starwood

July 26, 2016

Customer experience in the travel industry certainly isn’t immune from the impact that mobile has in today’s loyalty marketing world. Just ask Julie Atkinson, Senior Vice President, Global Digital, at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.

“The travel experience has become inherently mobile, and we know our members expect to use their mobile devices to enrich their experiences,” Atkinson told Loyalty360. “While this behavior change has been evident in the hospitality industry, it’s certainly not limited to just our brand or vertical. Technology touches every aspect of our lives. At Starwood, we are adapting to this ongoing evolution of customer behavior by continuing to integrate mobile technology into all aspects of the guest experience, both in booking and planning, as well as on property. We know there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for our loyal customers, and we’ve witnessed how the power of technology can help a traditional hospitality company deliver high-touch personalized service that our loyal customers have grown to expect.”

Get the full story at Loyalty360

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How Amadeus Hotels Plus is bringing more clarity, choice, and rewards to guests

July 26, 2016

Amadeus Hotels Plus, its online professional booking tool, shows integrated content from all hotel sources in the same standardised format within Amadeus Selling Platform Connect, so travel agents can access all their favourite providers through a single interface and compare provider to provider to find the best option for the traveler. Amadeus has 1.4 million hotel shopping options and over 450,000 unique properties, from around 300 hotel chains and thousands of independent properties. Amadeus Hotels also enables travel sellers to book air, hotel and car rental via a single entry and service point all while facilitating service, duty of care, and reducing administrative cost and overhead.

Though this one-stop shopping window of centralised high-quality hotel content, travel agents can filter using an intelligent search engine with multiple parameters, such as traveller preferences and travel policy requirements. Travel agents can offer exactly what the traveller is looking for- all without having to juggle multiple websites.

In addition to selecting the right product at the right price and providing the right service to their customers, travel agents also have a better understanding of how they will get rewarded through commissions, mark up and services fees – which are all calculated within the platform margin manager of Amadeus Hotels Plus.

Get the full story at Amadeus

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Travel agents see changes in the face of wellness travel

July 26, 2016

This year is all about shorter stays, more men, more physically challenging activities and a younger customer base, say a handful of top travel professionals specializing in wellness who spoke with TMR over the past few days.

Kathy Bernstein of Chicago-based Protravel International, a Travel Leaders Group agency, says she is seeing a trend toward shorter and more focused trips, with a specific goal such as learning to surf or meditate. The current state of information overload from surfing the internet for travel options leaves clients “overwhelmed with the volume of information and choices”—and sees her role as “helping them focus on their major motivation.”

Whether they are looking for spas or the increasing number of hotels that offer wellness options, there is something out there for everyone. But it’s important to make the right match, because “a misstep could have exactly the opposite effect of their intention.”

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

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Unleashing the power of innovation

July 26, 2016

What emerges from the latest survey is that CEOs are now taking personal responsibility for directing and inspiring innovation as it becomes an ever more vital element of business survival and success. How companies innovate is also being transformed. Companies might once have been satisfied with incremental product improvements. Now, they’re increasingly looking for breakthrough developments in their business models and the solutions they provide for customers.

The problem is that while the eyes of the CEO are fixed on innovation, the body of the organisation may not be following. The ‘antibodies’ that inhibit innovation include a culture that sees it as separate from the mainstream operations of the business and is slow to commercialise new ideas.

The days when innovation was the preserve of research and development (R&D) units at the sidelines of the business have gone. Successful companies recognise that innovation is a mainstream process, which brings together frontline teams, customers and a range of different partners from beyond the organisation. At the heart of these developments is the realisation that how you innovate determines what innovations you deliver.

Download the full report at PWC (PDF 516 KB)

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What OTA commissions are costing you

July 26, 2016

Reducing your OTA commissions; is it worth it? As Dennis Schaal recently reported in “The Definitive Oral History of Online Travel”, it’s been more than 25 years since the birth of online travel and there are key innovators that led the change in hotel commerce with websites like, Travelocity, Priceline, and naturally Expedia. One of the things that struck me throughout this story, and as Dennis points out, thought leaders at these companies were emotionally attached to the idea of pioneering a new way for consumers to shop and purchase travel. And so it began.

Today, all day, every day we hear about the love/hate relationship between hotels and the OTAs. It’s a dilemma for many owners and managers who depend on the OTAs broad and expansive reach to draw in business when needed, but resentful of fees paid particularly during more fruitful times. Many independent hotels don’t understand nor have the budget to compete with these mega-digital marketing machines, and the brands don’t have deep enough pockets to go head to head with the biggest OTAs who are spending more than $2 billion just with Google alone.

Get the full story at Leonardo

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Top tips for designing your guest satisfaction survey

July 26, 2016

1. Set Objectives

At the outset, identify the key objectives of your survey. Are you looking for deep insight, and therefore willing to accept a lower response rate, or is a high response rate the most important objective? Do you want to identify issues, build review volume on review channels and receive advice on prioritizing service and amenity upgrades or receive feedback from specific segments of guests? Answering these will help you compose questions that elicit the type of information you need most.

2. Focus on Key Areas

Rather than overwhelm guests with dozens of questions about every aspect of their stay, drill down into key areas (or departments) for actionable insight. Use advanced question logic to display or hide questions based upon guest responses, making the survey more relevant to each guest and giving you more detailed feedback to help prioritize operational, service or product related improvements. Create follow-up questions based on the guest’s specific answer. For example, rather than ask five questions about check-in, ask one about the overall check-in experience. If guests give a low rating, then ask more questions to gain deeper insight.

Get the full story at ReviewPro

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What Marriott knows about next-gen business travelers

July 25, 2016

Today, Marriott International has 19 brands under its umbrella. Once it finishes its long-awaited acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, many more are likely to join the company’s portfolio.

Until then, the hotel giant is working to build a stronger technology platform with which it can push interesting content to potential guests and improve their travel experience once they’re on-property.

Skift spoke to King at this year’s Global Business Travel Association Convention about the challenges of improving technology over a wide portfolio of brands, what the most savvy business travelers want out of their hotel experience, and why content has become crucial to Marriott’s efforts to reach consumers.

Get the full story at Skift

Read also "Marriott to inspire meeting planners with its own ‘Pinterest of meetings’"

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Digital travel sales to break through $800 billion by 2020

July 25, 2016

Its study looks at leisure and unmanaged business travel bought via any device, with the estimates “based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies.”

The global picture for online travel is healthy, although annual growth will slow over the next few years.

Get the full story at Tnooz

Read also "APAC set to become the world’s largest digital travel sales market"

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How mobile payments revolutionized the hospitality industry

July 25, 2016

Multiple studies have shown that an increasing number of consumers are booking travel arrangements on their mobile phones – a number that has been increasing steadily for the past six quarters. The travel industry, specifically, boasts over 50% growth year-over-year in mobile.

Consequently, many travel operators, such as hotels and car rentals, have experienced a large increase in last-minute bookings and even same-day bookings. Research firm Phocuswright reveals that a full 72% of mobile hotel bookings through an online travel agency (OTA) were made within a day of the stay, and 30% were done through the hotel’s website. Additionally, nearly 90% of mobile hotel bookings were made within a week or less prior to the stay.

Consequently, had these operators enabled customers to book and pay for their travel arrangements only on desktop computers or over the phone, they would have lost over half of their bookings to their mobile-friendly competition.

Get the full story at Mobile Marketing Watch

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Five myths about OTAs

July 25, 2016

With a dizzying array of discounted vacation packages floating across the web, securing a bargain seems like a simple task. But with online travel agencies like Expedia reportedly tweaking search results to promote certain hotel listings and a rising number of book-direct initiatives from major brands such as Marriott and Hilton, price shopping isn't always easy or straightforward.

To add fuel to the fire, metasearch sites and apps, such as Google Hotel Finder and Hopper, showcase rates from a variety of hotels and airlines (though some companies do not disclose prices), making it hard for savvy bargain hunters to know if they're netting the best deal.

And while there are key advantages of going straight to the source and unique benefits of using an online booking site, the reality is the role of OTAs is changing, and many commonly held beliefs have become outdated. U.S. News spoke with industry experts to dispel common OTA myths.

Get the full story at Yahoo! Finance

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Virgin Holidays case study: How to use virtual reality to show off your product

July 25, 2016

Many travel brands have started experimenting with using VR to let customers 'try before they buy', and have done so by creating 360° videos which viewers can pan around. We've got to admit, they're pretty darn cool, and a lot of fun. But technically, they aren't virtual reality. Virtual reality means being able to look around the virtual world like it really is reality, that means an immersive experience, not panning around with a mouse.

Virgin Holidays decided they'd use VR in store by providing their own headsets working with Google Cardboard technology. To capture the 3D video needed to create the immersive VR experience, Virgin took a special 360 rig and GoPro cameras to a Virgin resort in Mexico. They walked along cliffs, went into hotels, sat on beaches and swam with Dolphins to capture the whole range of experience on offer.

Get the full story at Smart Insights

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Amazon tests ‘Daily Dish’ food delivery service for the workplace

July 25, 2016

there are a few companies involved in the initial test, all of which are Seattle-based. Employees receive daily menus sent by text message in the morning, and they have until 11 a.m. to place orders via their Prime Now apps for whatever lunches they want. They then have to hang out for a bit until lunch arrives between noon ans 12:30 p.m.

"Daily Dish offers Prime members a convenient and affordable lunch option featuring freshly-prepared lunches delivered from local restaurants every weekday. The service offers four choices every day - one meat and one vegetarian option from two different restaurants - giving customers choice in cuisine and meal type," Amazon told Geekwire.

Get the full story at Geekwire

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Driving revenue with Dr. Ravi: The bid price approach

July 25, 2016

Developed by Dr. Ravi Mehrotra, co-founder and president of IDeaS Revenue Solutions, bid price helps hotels of any size optimize their revenue potential and has dramatically revolutionized the hotel landscape. Because of his endless dedication to developing bid price, innovative revenue solutions and pioneering the revenue management discipline, Dr. Mehrotra was recently honored with the Vanguard Award for Lifetime Achievement in Revenue Management by The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI).

To help break down the inception of bid price and its impact on the hotel industry, Dr. Ravi recently sat down to answer some questions about the approach that has transformed our industry.

Get the full story at IDeaS

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Hotel Tech Insiders: Panadvert

July 25, 2016

Let's start with a little about what Panadvert does and the background of how it got started.

John Giannatos: I have been in the business approximately twenty years. I used to work as a freelancer in a lot of countries. In 2010, because I'm Greek, I had to take a decision to stay in Greece, and so I studied which industry I want to focus on, and from the official European statistics organization, Eurostat, I found data that accommodation was the king of ecommerce.

The tourism industry in Greece is the biggest part of the economy, with maybe twenty percent of the GDP. I decided to enter the hotel industry and found out that it was a bit behind compared to what I used to do in Europe and the US, and the first thing that I found out was that hoteliers often spend their marketing budget without understanding the ROI. They didn't know the efficiency of the money they spend.

The first thing I did was designing a tool to track inbound links: a tool called ROI Manager. From that we could know how many bookings you had from an inbound link and the booking data.

Get the full story at SnapShot

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Hotels vs. Airbnb: Let the battle begin

July 22, 2016

Phocuswright, the travel research firm, noted that one in three leisure travelers in 2015 used private accommodations, up from one in 10 in 2011, and that 31 percent of travelers who used Airbnb in the last two years had used it for business.

“This is a more challenging event in the history of the lodging industry than almost any other,” said Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor of the Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University.

How - and even whether - hotels are responding to the competition is a matter of debate. Only AccorHotels, the French hotel company whose brands include Sofitel and Raffles, has invested directly in the sharing economy, in its acquisition of Onefinestay, a London-based home sharing service that focuses on the high-end market.

Get the full story at The New York Times

Read also "Airbnb for Business signs Amex, BCD and Carlson Wagonlit" and "Airbnb’s shift into meetings"

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Reasons why hotels and meta search sites don’t “connect”

July 22, 2016

This is somewhat paradoxical because it would be a highly positive relationship for both parties

- Hotels would reduce their dependence on OTAs and would have the perfect partner if they were to offer exclusive prices on their website.

- Meta search sites would have the only channel different to the rest (there are many OTAs but only one official website), which in many cases offers the best price. To be a price-comparison website without having the best price would be a failure.

This lack of understanding between hotel and meta search sites paves the way for OTA sales, especially for, the undisputed king of this industry in Europe, who always wants to be in the top spot at no matter what price.

The other big loser is the final client, who shall have to expressly google the hotel’s official website in order to find its price.

Get the full story at mirai

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Expedia acquires travel photography community Trover

July 22, 2016

In a statement posted on Trover’s blog, CEO Jason Karas said: “Expedia’s mission is to revolutionize travel through technology, and they believe Trover’s beautiful content and social experience is a great fit with this mission. We can’t imagine higher recognition for our community”

Financial details of the acquisition remain under wraps. In 2013, Trover raised $2.5 million in funding in an effort led by fellow travel company Concur’s Perfect Trip Fund. This brought Trover’s total funding up to $5.4 million, which included the remaining funds that were used to build Trover from the ruins of Travelpost, an online travel review site that shut down in January 2011.

“At Expedia, it’s fair to say we believe in the power of travel,” said an Expedia spokesperson in an email to Digital Trends. “It can transform people. So an important part of our job is to inspire travelers. One way we do this is by igniting dreams through beautiful pictures of amazing destinations. We are excited to explore the compelling opportunities this partnership presents.”

Get the full story at Digital Trends

Read also "Expedia’s acquisition of travel app Trover is a family affair" at Skift

Article location: addresses desires of advanced Japanese travelers

July 22, 2016

For the two gourmets, “food is sightseeing”. The work runs in 30-second and 15-second formats and aims to increase usage of the site for travel within Japan and internationally.

What does the concept of foodie travel have to do with accommodation? The pair are shown indulging their passion in hotels and ryokans as well as at private properties, showcasing an apparently wide range of desirable places to stay on the platform. recently introduced a feature that enables people to search for accommodation based on their interests. Would-be travellers can filter accommodation by selecting what they want to do from a menu ranging from fishing to nightlife to healthy eating, then choosing their preferred location.

Get the full story at Campaign

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Hotel loyalty programs should balance economic and social benefits

July 22, 2016

Although economic reward programmes are attractive to customers and promote loyalty, they tend to offer “similar economic benefits in competing with one another” and these benefits are easily replicated by other companies. Hence, loyalty to a reward programme “does not always translate into company loyalty” and economic benefits alone are not sufficient to prevent customers from switching to other programmes.

Social benefits, in contrast, generate more loyalty from customers, who tend to be “intrinsically motivated to stay with a hotel” because the personal service they receive helps them to become emotionally attached and committed to it, and thus provide greater relational worth.

Get the full story at eHotelier

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Consumers like reading online reviews, not writing them

July 22, 2016

AYTM Market Research found that online reviews are a big part of consumers’ purchasing decisions. Some 20.1% of US internet users said they always check online reviews before making a purchase. And more than a quarter (29.5%) of respondents said they check online reviews most of the time.

Even 24.6% of respondents said they read reviews about half the time. Just 9.9% of internet users said they never check online reviews before making a purchase.

When it comes to actually leaving a review after making a purchase, just 6.2% of respondents said they always do. And 14.8% said they do it most of the time. Many consumers seldom do, AYTM Market Research revealed. More than a third said they rarely leave a review, and 19.6% of respondents said they never do.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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How to supercharge your travel marketing campaign

July 22, 2016

Prospecting allows you to reach users who haven’t visited your site or aren’t actively considering your brand. By placing ads for your brand in front of in-market consumers while they shop, the goal of prospecting is to create brand awareness and consideration. Prospecting is normally used higher up in the search funnel, where people are in the planning and research stage.

For example, someone searches for a hotel in New York, where your property is located. They use a search engine, a metasearch site, an Online Travel Agency (or OTA) and a few competitor sites directly.

This user is ideal for a prospecting strategy because they’ve shown interest in properties like yours and you know they’re looking to buy. Using their own intent signals, prospecting allows you to reach them with an ad for your property, keeping your name top of mind when they’re ready to book.

Get the full story at Sojern

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How to improve conversions on your hotel’s most important landing page

July 22, 2016

You’ve focused a large majority of your marketing efforts on increasing conversions, rather than just generating visitors.

But many hoteliers do not realise that specific landing pages on their hotel website are more powerful than others — such as the payment page.

In fact, travellers from across the globe are beginning to abandon their bookings on the payment page fails to function in the way they expect.

Get the full story at SiteMinder

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Independent hotels increasingly dependent on OTAs

July 21, 2016

HOTREC, the European trade association of hotels, restaurants and cafes, unveils the results of its second hotel distribution study, based on responses from over 2000 hoteliers. The results show an increasing dependency of hotels on Online Travel Agents (OTAs), as nearly one out of four overnights was generated through this channel in 2015. With regard to the OTA market, it is clear that 3 big OTAs are dominating with a common market share of 92%. The most dominant player is the Priceline Group ( with a share of over 60%. Over the last few months, hotels have not experienced increased competition between OTAs, which was one of the expectations linked to the introduction of the so called ‘narrow parity clauses’. The vast majority of them reported not having experienced any decrease of commission rates to the OTAs.

In parallel to the rise of the share of OTAs in hotel bookings, the share of direct bookings has dropped to 55%. The booking trends show that online platforms are gaining more and more control over the hotel distribution market. Moreover, 2 players, and the Expedia Group managed to further increase their market shares in Europe (together being responsible for almost 80% of hotel bookings via OTAs), while the 3rd biggest market player (the HRS group) lost ground significantly over the last 2 years. On an OTA market with around 200.000 hotels (75% of them being micro enterprises with fewer than 10 employees) on one side and currently 2 real dominant players on the other side, there is no need for further explanation on who is in the driving seat.

"The study clearly shows that online platforms are steadily acquiring bigger and bigger shares in hotel bookings, while the hotels’ own distribution channels are on a decline making dependency on OTAs growing. The situation is especially critical as it seems that the OTA market tends to become a duopolistic (or even monopolistic?) one in Europe, with one player ( controlling closely 2/3 of the market” – said Christian de Barrin, CEO of HOTREC.

From the introduction of the narrow parity clauses in summer 2015 by and Expedia, competition authorities were expecting a rise in competition in the OTA market. It has to be said that with regard to one of the main aspect of competition, the commission rates paid by hotels to OTAs, there has not been any significant movement. Only 8,5% of hoteliers reported about a reduction of the commission rates over the past one year, while the rest continues paying at least the same rates as before. Among the few ones having received any reduction, big and chain hotels were significantly overrepresented, compared to the small and individual hotels.

"It is crucial that despite the huge imbalance between the various players the market conditions become more fair and balanced, with the freedom of each and every single hotelier to be able to set their own conditions for their own services freely and be able to fairly negotiate on contract terms and conditions with every distribution partner” – stressed Markus Luthe, Chair of HOTREC’s Distribution Task Force.

Related Link: HOTREC

Article location: explains its new Booking Messages platform

July 21, 2016 recently launched its new Booking Messages interface, a chat-inspired communication platform that allows guests and accommodation providers easy and direct contact with one another the moment a booking is made.

The Booking Messages app came about as a result of’s culture of “small step, rapid innovation” and an aim to alleviate customer pain-points when it comes to travel. “One of my fellow designers likes to use the term ‘travel sucks,’ which is an interesting thing for someone who works at a travel agency to say,” says Stuart Frisby, principal designer at “But he’s right – outside of the fact that it’s really easy to book a hotel now, travel is really difficult.”

One particular hiccup in the travel experience was keen to tackle is the difficulty of communicating particular needs or simply making contact with your accommodation prior to arrival, due to different time zones, busy reception desks, and, in particular, a language barrier.

Get the full story at Director

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How Airbnb combats hotel surge pricing

July 21, 2016

Ordinarily, a major event like the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro would inflate hotel rates exponentially, but with Airbnb, travelers have many other options and need not surrender to peak prices. Of course, Airbnb hosts are also apt to raise prices during major events, potentially removing their price-lowering benefit to the time period.

“The impact [of Airbnb] hasn’t been felt on day-to-day operations yet,” says Hafner, explaining that Kayak competes somewhat with Airbnb by dealing in non-traditional hotel rooms and apartments.

By and large, hotels specialize in attentive service and reliability, appealing to an older demographic, while Airbnb specializes in a shared local experience, skewing younger. “Millennials certainly don’t have the same desire to own assets in the way that my generation does,” Hafner says of the sharing economy’s rising popularity.

Get the full story at Skift

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Skyscanner merges its flights, hotels, and car hire services into a single app

July 21, 2016

Though Skyscanner started out as a flight search engine, aggregating the best prices and dates for destinations around the world, the company has been edging into related travel territories, but so far has kept them separate with standalone apps for car hire and accommodation. Today, the company is updating its Android and iOS apps to bring them all together.

The apps also come with a host of new features, including a Top Deals section highlighting bargains for summer holidays, city breaks, and more. It also sports an upgraded Quick Search function that automatically syncs hotels and car hire with flights, to save the user from having to re-enter times, dates, and destinations.

Get the full story VentureBeat

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Choice Hotels officially launches exclusive member rates

July 21, 2016

Both existing and new members of Choice Privileges, the guest-loyalty program for Choice Hotels International, Inc.(NYSE: CHH), can access exclusive room rates that are up to a 7% discount off the best available rate by booking directly on or the Choice mobile app. Furthermore, continues to stand behind its pricing, if a guest finds a lower price elsewhere online the company will match the price and give the guest a $50 Visa gift card.

"Too often consumers feel the need to scour the internet for the best hotel price. We want our members to have confidence that when they book their rooms directly with Choice Hotels they have exclusive access to the best prices, the best service and the best rewards," said Robert McDowell, Chief Commercial Officer at Choice Hotels International.

The Choice Privileges Member Rate is the latest in a series of enhancements to Choice's guest rewards program, designed to bring greater and faster value to its ever growing 27 million Choice Privileges members. In June, Choice enhanced its "Your Extras" benefits partners, where guests can earn special rewards for midweek travel, to include household names like Uber and Amazon in the U.S., and Tim Hortons and in Canada.

For full information about the Choice Privileges rewards program, visit

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eBook: The Digital Travel Marketers’ Best Practice Toolkit

July 21, 2016

The rapid evolution of today's digital marketing landscape provides travel marketers with a myriad of opportunities to effectively reach niche audiences. But the complexity of channels and abundance of platforms prevent many travel brands from building a best practice foundation and leaves marketers simply chasing industry trends.

Download this eBook, The Digital Travel Marketers' Best Practices Toolkit, to learn strategies, tactics and techniques proven successful by travel marketers, including:

- Native and social marketing to reach highly engaged consumers
- Leveraging video content to tell an interactive, compelling story
- Deploying mobile as an integrated piece of a wider digital strategy
- Email marketing for highly targeted and relevant messaging

Download the eBook at Expedia Media Solutions

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What travelers look for in online hotel profiles

July 21, 2016

Since customers tend to skim information now, these facts don't need to be detailed. Use white space, checklists and/or bullet points to pinpoint answers quickly. Business travelers in particular are focused on facts, so state those first and then provide links or supplemental descriptions to appeal to emotions. When information is split between multiple pages, make those links easy to find.

So what should you provide at first glance?

Get the full story at TrustYou

Article location: partners with ABC Global Services

July 21, 2016, the premier site for information on meeting and banquet venues worldwide, today announces a new partnership agreement with ABC Global Services, the industry-leading travel agency support company providing the largest hotel discount and amenity programs as well as its award winning web based hotel booking platform, ezBOOK by ABC.

Based in Boca Raton, FL, ABC Global Services will utilize’s technology platform as a sourcing and lead generation tool to supply their clients with meeting and event planning services. From site selection to contract negotiation and hotel accommodations,’s simple, innovative software and support service makes for the ideal platform for ABC’s agency clients to source meetings and hotels for their group/event customers.

“ is proud to work together with ABC Global Services. They understand the importance of meeting and event planning services as part of an ongoing commitment to help travel professionals grow their businesses,” stated Tim Hentschel, CEO of “We are a client-focused team providing exceptional service worldwide and our goal is helping ABC customers find their ideal group hotel accommodations, meeting space, and hospitality services at the best rates possible.”

“After reviewing a variety of options it became abundantly clear that offers the best platform, agency support, the greatest opportunities for customization and the most attractive commercial terms for our agency partners' meeting and event planning needs,” Eric Altschul, CEO of ABC Global Services added. ”We look forward to working with to roll out their leading edge solution to our agency community.”

Related Link:

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Marriott to inspire meeting planners with its own ‘Pinterest of meetings’

July 20, 2016

As the hospitality brand celebrates several new digital milestones – including surpassing more than 12 million mobile check-ins and check-outs – it is ensuring that its marketing materials reach a critical group of non-vacationing customers – event planners. The mobile-optimized site employs a visual and social angle to provide tidbits of inspiration to time-strapped event planners searching for the ideal venue at which to host their next conference, celebration or meeting.

“We’re thrilled with how we’ve seen inspire planners, whether it’s creating an experiential event or a cutting-edge cocktail list that reflects the hottest spirits trends,” said Brian King, global brand officer at Marriott International. “I actually used the site to plan my own wedding and come up with ideas that I never would have thought of by myself.

“I call it the ‘Pinterest of meetings.’”

Get the full story at the Mobile Marketer

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Would antitrust issues kill a Priceline or Google acquisition of TripAdvisor?

July 20, 2016

What some would view as this relatively cheap price for TripAdvisor could change dramatically — one way or the other — when the company reports second quarter earnings on August 4 and provides further details on whether its grand project, TripAdvisor Instant Booking, which finds consumers booking hotels on TripAdvisor, is working out as planned. Specifically, TripAdvisor seeks to reverse a recent decline in revenue per hotel shopper on its sites as it transitions from a reliance on advertising clicks to a tilt toward hotel commissions with some hotel-metasearch and clicks on the side.

But could a TripAdvisor-Priceline or TripAdvisor-Google marriage, for example, even get past antitrust regulators in the Department of Justice or Federal Trade Commission?

There’s an argument to be made that the dog days of July or August — actually the waning months of 2016 as a whole — would be an opportune moment to sneak an acquisition past regulators as the Obama Administration prepares to say adieu. “They won’t have the commitment and resources to block an acquisition and play out a challenge in court,” argues one keen observer of the antitrust scene, referring to regulators.

Get the full story at Skift

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Austria moves to outlaw travel websites’ ban on hotels undercutting prices

July 20, 2016

So-called parity clauses in contracts between online booking sites and hotels are common in the industry and have led to complaints by rivals and scrutiny by regulators across Europe.

The practice allows online travel agents such as, part of U.S.-based Priceline Group, to claim they always offer the cheapest online rates available.

After a weekly cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner, who is also Austria's economy minister, said the government had submitted to parliament a change in legislation that would ban the practice.

Get the full story at Reuters and Tnooz

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Chinese traveler behaviour has changed, what hotels need to know

July 20, 2016

Chinese millennials, predicted by to become one of the travel industry’s fastest-growing markets, are also planning to spend over a quarter of their income on travel - despite the slowing economy.

In the year ended May 2016, the land of the long white cloud was in China’s sights, with 394,528 Chinese travellers making a trip to New Zealand, up 27 percent on the previous year[1]. Despite New Zealand failing to feature on the wish list for Chinese travellers to visit in the next 12 months in the report, with Australia taking out the top spot followed by Japan and Hong Kong, the tourism industry predicts the increase in Chinese visitors to steadily increase. [2]

Katherine Cole, Regional Director Australia and New Zealand for the brand said: “If Kiwis think they’ve noticed more Chinese sightseers on the streets, they’re not mistaken. New Zealand has seen continual growth in visitor arrivals from China over the last five years, and together with increased air capacity, this trend will only continue.”

“The research shows that Chinese travellers are more diverse and sophisticated than ever before and, our perceptions of Chinese travellers as members of bus tour groups wanting only Chinese breakfasts and Mandarin translations need to change,” said Ms Cole.

The survey was conducted in May 2016 amongst 3,000 Chinese travellers by Ipsos, a world leader in market research. To complement this data with opinions of hoteliers, carried out a global survey of 5,800 accommodation partners.

The rise of the Chinese millennial traveller

Chinese millennials spent 27 percent of their income on travel, according to survey data - the highest proportion among all Chinese travellers. The hoteliers’ survey showed that the number of Chinese millennial guests (aged under 35) increased 12 percent, slightly more than the median increase of total Chinese guests (11 percent).

Five Chinese traveller personas revealed

To help the industry cope with these more independent and diverse travellers, the Chinese International Travel Monitor2016 reveals five travel personas that Chinese travellers fall into.

1. Detailed explorers (25%): Born in the 60s and 70s, they are innovative and optimistic, like to learn and explore and to plan their trips down to the last detail.

2. Cautious connectors (25%): Also born in the 60s and 70s. They come from lower-tier cities and responsible family people and travel to bond with loved ones. They prefer safe, family-friendly hotels.

3. Experience seekers (17%): Tend to be born in the 80s and 90s and be from top-tier cities. They like stylish hotels and professional advice on local cultural activities. They travel to enrich their experience, being independent and ambitious.

4. Indulgers (12%): Most likely born in the 80s, they travel to indulge themselves and to demonstrate their power. They tend to stay at higher-star hotels and go on adventurous local tours.

5. Basic pleasure seekers (21%): Millennials born in the 90s. Unlike other groups, more of them are women than men. They are aesthetically minded and travel for non-material enjoyment, seeking value-for-money accommodation.

Chinese traveller behaviour has changed

Some 120 million Chinese nationals travelled overseas in 2015, up from 117 million in 2014[3], the year when the milestone of 100 million was first passed. This year’s report shows two-thirds of outbound Chinese travellers consider travel to be an essential part of life – and one-third of travellers from China say they plan to spend more on travel in the next year.

The report found that the behaviour of Chinese travellers has changed greatly since the Chinese International Travel Monitor was first published five years ago. According to the hotelier survey, the top changes to Chinese travellers were improved English language skills, travellers increasingly looking for value for money, having higher expectations, having more demanding requirements and spending less.

What Chinese travellers really want from hotels

When it comes to what Chinese travellers want from a hotel, free wi-fi was again top of the list. Currently, 45 percent of hotels surveyed already provide free wi-fi, with a further 46 percent planning to introduce it. Fifteen percent of hoteliers are already providing translated tourism/travel guides, while another 16 percent are planning to provide them. Whilst only 8 percent currently provide a kettle, 34 percent plan to introduce this; and with slippers a rarity (2 percent), 25 percent are planning to introduce them.

Other key findings from the Chinese International Travel Monitor 2016:

- Japan was rated the most welcoming country, followed by South Korea and Hong Kong.

- Nearly half (49%) of Chinese travellers surveyed said they like to make their own “free and easy” arrangements rather than joining organised groups.

- Forty-five percent of hoteliers reported an increase in Chinese guests in the last 12 months.

- Japan is the only country that ticks every attraction box for Chinese travellers, including sightseeing, next visit, shopping, food, resort, backpacking, adventure, culture and must-visit in a lifetime.

- Australia came out on top as having the best attractions overall, and was also rated as the best adventure destination.

- Chinese travellers overwhelmingly prefer to stay in hotels, with 78% preferring to stay in accommodation rated three stars or higher.

- For the majority of Chinese travellers (68%), shopping is the most popular expense after accommodation, followed by dining (59%) and sightseeing (42%).

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7 ways hotels are embracing Pokémon Go

July 20, 2016

In fact, many restaurants, hotels, attractions, and destinations have already done just that.

Here are a few examples:

L’iniozio, a pizzeria in Queens, paid the $10 daily fee to purchases lures (items that attract users) to lure a dozen Pokémon characters into their establishment. The restaurant’s manager, Sean Benedetti, told the New York Post that the shop’s business spiked by 75% lately as a result. Beneditti was quick to recognize the value of investing in a timely pop-culture phenomenon and his business was able to benefit as a result.

Get the full story at Maximize Social Business

Read also "How many hotels have jumped on the Pokemon GO bandwagon?"

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More on’s advertising options for travel brands

July 20, 2016

"With [that first party data], we know what consumers are thinking at every stage of the customer journey, right from initial research all the way through to booking and going on a trip, and beyond" says Alessandra Di Lorenzo, Chief Advertising Officer at

Essentially, the company knows when a user has been searching for holidays and reading content about Dubai, for example, and this information and intent is incredibly valuable.

The Travel People sells a range of ad formats across the group. This ranges from display ads to email, custom content (native) to events and social. A lot of The Travel People's advertisers are from the travel sector - flight operators, hotel chains etc.

Get the full story at Econsultancy

Read also " offers more relevant and targeted advertising"

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The Q3 2016 Edition of HeBStrategy: Hospitality Digital Technology & Marketing Strategy Whitepaper

July 20, 2016

Created by HeBS Digital, the whitepaper outlines how hoteliers can think big picture to reach their consumers in all stages of the travel planning journey: by engaging, acquiring, and retaining past and future guests.

Download the HeBStrategy Q2 2016 Edition to learn about:

- Notable Q2 Events: Includes ‘book direct’ campaigns taking over the limelight, a review of whether meta search marketing is still a viable channel for producing high return-on-investment, and an important reminder that campaigns now need to be ‘mobile-centric.’

- Q3 Trends Shaping the Industry: addresses how hoteliers can improve the bottom line with supply and demand reaching equilibrium, new opportunities offered by Google in the world of SEM, the launch budgeting season for 2017, how content marketing has reached a critical point, and what hoteliers need to know about how the strong dollar should shape their strategy.

- Last Quarter’s Articles & Events: A summary of HeBS Digital’s most popular articles and content from Q1 2016, including how to combat OTA dependency and increase direct website bookings, a checklist for luxury hotel digital marketing best practices, a recap of the Q2 Strategy Forecast & Action Plan webinar, and more.

- Multichannel Marketing Campaign Ideas: Make the most of your upcoming multichannel campaigns with these innovative ideas on how to drive bookings for summer weekdays and weekends, boosting advanced bookings, and fulfilling last-minute occupancy needs.

- Tips & Tricks to Apply to Your Campaigns: In the ‘Metrics that Matter’ section, the whitepaper includes tips on how to execute successful SEM and Facebook advertising campaigns, as well as how using ‘Intent data’ generates 4x the return of a CRM data-only digital marketing campaign.

- Actionable Digital Marketing Ideas: Quick-to-implement digital marketing campaign ideas and special offer inspiration for upcoming summer events.

Download the whitepaper at HeBS Digital

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11 things you need to know to make the most of Pokémon Go at your hotel

July 20, 2016

The game lays a semi-transparent Poké-world over an actual, geographical location (like your lobby). The app user can then explore the area by physically walking around and finding Pokémon characters and interacting with them on their phone. The idea behind the game is to get people to walk around in the real world while playing a virtual game on the phone.

In less than a week it's estimated that Pokémon Go has more daily users right now than Twitter. And in the Apple App store the app has over 54K reviews (not downloads mind you). By comparison the Hilton and Marriott apps each have fewer than 5K reviews.

For hotels, this is a great opportunity. We view foot traffic as a good thing since every person who walks in your door is someone who is a potential future guest, meeting planner, or advocate through word of mouth and social media.

Get the full story at HSMAI

Article location: anticipates mobile users’ purchase intent with AI-driven experience

July 19, 2016 is the latest brand to marry artificial intelligence with mobile, enabling its application users to receive instant booking access to a destination’s attractions and venues through a single QR code and offering personalized experiences based on previous travel preferences.

The travel service’s new Booking Experiences tool is currently undergoing a pilot in Amsterdam, with functionality for other international markets set to go live later this summer. The mobile-led platform leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence technology to predict users’ travel intent and provide a customized experience with streamlined payment options and priority queueing.

“Businesses need to learn how to service thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of people as individuals, not as segmented cohorts of personas,” said Michael Becker, managing partner at mCordis. “They must also learn to be of service on the individual’s terms, by considering the individual’s explicit and implicit interests, intent preferences and more.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce

Read also " launches pilot for destination experiences bot"

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Business travel prices to increase marginally or remain flat for 2017

July 19, 2016

New research out today highlights six key risks heading into 2017 that could impact both travel industry prices and the global economy as a whole. They are emerging market performance, financial market turbulence, geopolitical risks, uncertainty surrounding Brexit, potentially fluctuating U.S. interest rates and oil prices.

“While business travel repeatedly demonstrates its resilience, the high level of global uncertainty we face heading into 2017 means travel buyers have to be more nimble and flexible than ever in crafting travel programs,” said Jeanne Liu, GBTA Foundation vice president for research. “The outlook shows only marginal increases or flat travel prices, but for 2017, the key to building successful travel programs will be watching and reacting to an ever-changing global landscape.”

These findings come from the 2017 Global Travel Price Outlook, research from the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), and leading travel management company Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT). The third annual report provides global, regional and country-by-country projections for air travel, hotel, ground transportation and meetings and events prices in 2017.


Mega hotel mergers are grabbing headlines, but their impact on prices likely won’t be felt until 2018. Hotel services such as room service, laundry and security remain important to corporate travelers. Traditional hotels, therefore, remain an attractive option for business travelers, despite the sharing economy options.

- Asia Pacific is expected to see hotel prices fall slightly, by 0.6 percent.

- EMEA again varies by region as geopolitical issues impact on hotel rates. Also, low oil and gas prices have decreased corporate travel for [the sector, primarily in the Middle East, Africa and Russia. It is anticipated that Eastern Europe prices will fall 2.4 percent, Western Europe prices will increase 1.8 percent, and Middle East and Africa rates will fall slightly, by 0.5 percent.

- Prices in Latin America and the Caribbean are projected to decrease by 0.9 percent.

- Overall, North American hotel prices are expected to rise by 4.0 percent in 2017, but it will be a tale of two coasts. West Coast cities, including Seattle, Los Angeles, San Jose and Vancouver, will experience high single- to double-digit growth because of the high-tech boom and a shortage of hotel rooms. Meanwhile, East Coast cities including New York City and Toronto, as well as Canada’s oil and gas region, will face low growth or even a reduction because of an over-supply of hotel rooms.

Get the full story at GBTA and download the report at GBTA Foundation (free registration)

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Who’s booking $76 billion in business travel spend?

July 19, 2016

With business travel rapidly changing, and travel and expense representing the second-largest area of controllable business spend, the insights in this report will allow companies to better design their travel and spend policies, which in turn influences their bottom line.

Concur analyzed business travel booking and expense reporting data from its database of more than 40 million users, representing more than $76 billion in annual spend. By presenting this mass of data in the context of six business traveler personas – a first in the industry – Concur makes this information more relevant and actionable for companies.

Meet the personas:

- Savvy Sam is a power traveler who travels 40 percent of the time, taking approximately 25 trips per year.

- Jet Setter Jeremy is typically a C-suite executive who travels frequently, preferring to fly first-class and stay at five-star hotels.

- High-tech Hannah is a young millennial who travels once a quarter, often combining personal and business travel, while staying budget conscious.

- Approving Manager Alan doesn't travel much himself, but is responsible for approving travel and expense reports and keeping budgets in line.

- Travel Arranger Tanya books for others and files expense reports for teammates several times a week.

- Cautious Carl travels just once or twice a year for business. He typically plans far in advance and isn't familiar with policies and process.

"Developing these rich personas is a brilliant idea. Concur is uniquely qualified to provide such a comprehensive perspective, due to its extensive treasure trove of business spending data," said Henry Harteveldt, founder and industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group. "Concur's State of Business Travel report transforms data from endless pages of dull numbers into relatable and understandable characters. The personas make planning and administering business travel programs easier, more accessible, more relatable, and more useful for travel managers and financial decision makers."

Business Traveler Behaviors

The State of Business Travel report confirms that not all business travelers are created equal. In some cases, a company may want to tailor its travel policy to account for the unique needs of its travelers, from frequent flyers and road warriors to once-a-year travelers.

- More than half of all business travelers are "Cautious Carls," but Carls account for only 14 percent of total business travel spend.

- "High-tech Hannahs" and "Cautious Carls" care more about price than other types of travelers, while "Savvy Sams" and "Jet Setter Jeremys" (who contribute to 46 percent of total business travel spend) are more concerned with comfort and convenience.

- When it comes to air travel, "Jet Setter Jeremys" consistently spend the most because they are more likely to book at the last minute and opt for premium seats.

"Managing travel and expense is becoming increasingly complex, between integration with mobile technology, nuances in traveler preferences, and new travel supplier strategies," said Robb Nielsen, vice president of global product experience at Concur. "This demands a fully connected travel and expense ecosystem paired with actionable insights, giving travel managers the visibility and control they need to drive cost savings."

Sharing Economy on the Rise

While it's no surprise home-sharing services like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway are increasing in popularity among business travelers, Concur data indicates a dramatic 56-percent growth in usage from Q1 2015 to Q1 2016. On average, business travelers stay five nights when home sharing, compared to three nights when staying at a traditional hotel.

Meanwhile, Atmosphere Research Group data from 2015 shows that 8 percent of U.S. business travelers used home-sharing accommodations at least once on a business trip. According to Harteveldt, this number is expected to approach 10 percent in 2016 as more companies approve the use of home-sharing services, and home-sharing hosts improve property amenities – such as higher-quality bedding and faster, more reliable Wi-Fi connectivity.

Existing and Emerging Business Travel Markets: U.S. vs. China

From conferences, to leadership meetings, to sales trips – business travels take employees to locations far and wide. But different cities come at different costs. In 2015, Concur business travelers spent the most in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco among U.S. cities, while the U.K., Canada, and China took top rankings for spend outside the U.S.

"China's growth as a business travel market is increasingly driven by Chinese travelers, rather than international visitors to the country," added Harteveldt. "In fact, Boeing's Long Term Market Outlook for 2015 to 2034 estimates Chinese airlines will order 6,130 new aircraft (from all manufacturers), or 17 percent of all new aircraft. The 146,590 hotel rooms under construction in China in May 2016 account for more than 56 percent of the total hotel rooms being built across Asia, according to Smith Travel Research."

They Spent What, Where?

Last year, Concur processed 86 million expense reports, while Concur users booked 46 million flights and expensed 74 million hotel nights, nearly $10 billion in ground transportation, and $12 billion in dining and entertainment. The data led to some surprising facts from 2015:

- Several Concur log-ins have originated from the International Space Station
- The single highest line item submitted on an expense report was for $2.2 million
- Monday, November 30 was the busiest day for expense reports, with 534,669 reports submitted
- 60 percent of Concur expense reports are simple, with an average of five line items, and are completed in an average of eight minutes or less
- 84 people expensed between 360 and 365 hotel days
- Concur's busiest 1 percent of travelers boarded an average of 146 flights
- The most expensive car rental expensed was for $31,082 in Tulsa, Oklahoma
- The most expensive ride sharing transaction was for $27,244 in New York, New York

Download the full report at Concur

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How hotels can create a more convenient customer experience

July 19, 2016

Most of the digital tools we use these days require registration and personal profiling, forcing us to allow others to track every detail of who we are and how we live. Companies use this data to build a relevant and meaningful dialogue with us to create brand loyalty, and when done well, this is truly helpful.

There is an ongoing need for convenience, too, and during the past half-century we have seen incredible advances in our never-ending desire to make things easier and faster.

However, many of us do still feel inconvenienced is when we stay in hotels. The hospitality industry still manages to get some of the most basic things wrong.

- You’re trying to check out after a business trip only to find the queue is some 40 people long.

- You need to access your booking email to check in with your kids in tow but the Wi-Fi code is tediously long and complicated.

- Which light switch is for which lamp? Where is the mains plug?

Regardless of whether your stay is for business, pleasure or necessity, there isn't an excuse for these issues of inconvenience.

Get the full story at Econsultancy

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What motivates a top TripAdvisor reviewer to write reviews?

July 19, 2016

So how did his first discovery of the site lead him to where he is today?

After Fisher and his wife returned from their trip to Europe, he asked if she was thinking about writing some reviews of their experience. "You’re the writer; why don’t you write them?’” he says she told him. “And from that point on, I got hooked.”

Why TripAdvisor? Fisher posts on other review sites but sticks to TripAdvisor because, as he puts it, “We all need a focus.” He elaborates, “Someone once told me if you chase two rabbits, you’ll catch neither.”

Further, he says he loves to tell a place’s story. And for brands today that need to stand out in an ever-more crowded market, where customers demand not just products, but relationships with brands, a reviewer who tells their story is valuable free marketing.

Get the full story at

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How many hotels have jumped on the Pokemon GO bandwagon?

July 19, 2016

Ryan Solutions looked for mentions of Pokemon or elements within the game (PokeStops, Gyms, etc.) in the social media posts of 5,000 resort and hotel Twitter accounts.

taining a reference to the game. Mentions first showed up Wednesday, July 6th before peaking exactly one week later on July 13th when 5.0% of all hotels mentioned Pokemon at least once. Since then references to Pokemon have steadily declined to just 1.9% on Sunday, July 17th.

To see how quickly the trend came and went is a fascinating visualization of viral topics and ideas. In the space of just one week we saw both the first mention from a hotel as well as the busiest day for mentions. Now that it’s beginning to fade the question becomes, what’s next?

Get the full story at Ryan Solutions

Read also "A Hotelier’s Guide to Pokémon Go" at Sabre Hospitality Solutions

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Hotel room rates: 10 signs you need the help of a hotel pricing intelligence tool

July 19, 2016

Not only do hoteliers have to navigate an extremely complex distribution landscape, but keeping an eye on market demand and adapting to its fluctuations is a time-consuming task that’s needed to be undertaken daily if not every second.

This is where a real-time pricing intelligence tool can come into play, automating the arduous task of sifting through the web and manually monitoring market insights.

Get the full story at SiteMinder

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An HVS guide to hotel revenue management

July 19, 2016

Loosely speaking, revenue management (AKA “yield management”), a cornerstone of successful hotel operations, follows a formula: sell the right product to the right customer at the right time for the right price. Hoteliers accomplish this by effectively balancing occupancy and rate strategies to maximize revenue.

This article lays out the essential tenets and components of revenue-management practices, including how they relate to a hotel’s revenues and value.

Get the full story at HVS

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Priceline’s next growth area will be in corporate travel

July 15, 2016

Priceline has been avoiding to become the traditional Travel Management Company such as Amex Global Business and Carlson Wagonlit and instead decided to focus on the more scalable/profitable opportunities in the consumer segment, given the higher margin profile associated with and the growing competition amongst the leading TMCs.

More important, the economics of corporate travel does not justify the effort, given their lower blended revenue and lower segment EBITDA, judging by the recent growth in Expedia's Egencia corporate travel segment due to lower take rate and higher expenses.

However, Priceline appears to be shifting focus in recent months with the launch of for Business about a year ago and the subsequent press release that 20% of PCLN's gross booking was for business, suggesting increased interest in this segment.

Get the full story at Seeking Alpha

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Five stars - says who? My trouble with TripAdvisor

July 15, 2016

Despite all evidence to the contrary – in 2013 its CEO, Stephen Kaufer, pocketed more than $39m – TripAdvisor has convinced its contributors that it is “one of us”, like a digital version of Nigel Farage or Donald Trump.

Regardless of the fact that it is riddled with fakes and idiots, a huge number of otherwise sensible people continue to give credence to the aggregated opinion of, at best, unqualified strangers. A 2015 government-backed Competitions & Markets Authority investigation found that UK consumers spend more than £23bn a year after reading online reviews. “Only a very small proportion [of respondents] felt that it was ‘not very likely’ or ‘not at all likely’ that the reviews were written by genuine customers,” the report concluded.

Get the full story at The Guardian and TripAdvisor's answer to the article at TripAdvisor

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Airbnb Is facing an existential expansion problem

July 15, 2016

What is the endgame for cities where Airbnb continues to expand? Some cities say they don’t want to be “the next Venice,” turning into a theme park for tourists, with locals pushed out. It’s not an unreasonable concern. Kristen V. Brown of Fusion visited Reykjavik (yes, as a tourist). It’s a small city, with a population of only 120,000 people and a flood of tourists. Drawing on data I supplied, Brown wrote, “The city’s only apartment rental website,, listed just nine apartments for rent in downtown Reykjavik. There were 22 in the entire city….In Reykjavik there are roughly 50,000 apartments; 2,551 of them, or 5 percent, are Airbnb units.”

Even smaller communities are experiencing problems of scale when it comes to Airbnb. Joshua Tree is a tiny town of 7,000 people on the edge of the Joshua Tree National Park in California. It has over 200 available Airbnb rentals. Resident Christine Pfranger observes that “locals are having difficulty finding homes to rent, and are being pushed out of their homes to make way for more vacation rentals.” Another resident adds, “Airbnb and vacation rentals are changing our community….House prices are going up because people now buy houses to rent out as vacation rentals, making it close to impossible for people working in the area to buy a house.”

Airbnb professes to be open to partnering with cities, but it has shown little interest in these problems; the company forcefully opposes any measures that would limit the scale of its business.

Get the full story at Harvard Business Review

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Airbnb’s potential to become a hotel distribution partner

July 15, 2016

As an industry, it’s difficult to forget what happened after 9/11. This was a time when we were fighting for survival and began bastardizing ourselves, giving more and more inventory to OTAs and agreeing to higher and higher commissions. By “feeding the beast,” we created a huge problem for the industry.

Incremental demand driven by OTAs has always been small; and, OTAs spend the bulk of their money on marketing. The net effect is that we do about the same amount of business, but our commission costs continue to increase dramatically. And with their additional revenues, the OTAs can invest in even more marketing and enhanced technology. Now they are in a position to take, and they are taking, an even bigger share of our revenue, driving our commission costs up even higher.

With Airbnb’s incredible inventory and site traffic rivaling the biggest OTAs, some argue that partnering with the company would provide hotel companies with an alternative to some of the major OTAs. Indeed, Airbnb is increasingly targeting independent and branded hotels to list with them.

Get the full story at Lodging

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Satisfaction rises among luxury travelers, with more opportunities visible

July 15, 2016

While improvement in overall satisfaction was minor, the luxury segment saw much more encouraging numbers, with Ritz-Carlton’s 896/1,000 rating leading the pack for the second year in a row. As what consumers once understood as “perks” have become expected, the high level of service offered at luxury hotels has emerged as the primary distinction of satisfying stays.

“Luxury hotels still often charge for WiFi and rarely give free breakfast,” said Rick Garlick, travel and hospitality global practice lead at J.D. Power. “However, this trend is changing as even high end hotels now frequently provide wi-fi for no additional charge, particularly if you are part of the loyalty program.

“This is another contributor to enhanced value in the luxury segment,” he said. ” Perhaps ‘free’ breakfast is something they can roll into the overall rate, as European hotels frequently include breakfast as part of the rate package.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

Read also "Hotel guest satisfaction plateaus as perks become standard"

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What does the future of Facebook advertising look like?

July 15, 2016

Facebook's advertising platform allows marketers to effectively target a specific audience, which makes it far easier to deliver content to the people that actually want to see it -- resulting in higher engagement. Additional functions help you build credibility and relevance when users see and interact with your ads.

But while these tools are helpful out of the box, tailoring your ad strategy requires a solid understanding of your competitive market, as well as what works and doesn't work on the network. And that's where HubSpot and Social Bakers' new ebook The Future of Facebook Advertising comes in.

In this ebook, you'll find data from over 4.5 million Facebook and Instagram ads to help you perfect your Facebook advertising tactics.

Get the full story at HubSpot

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How to set Up hotel segmentation: Tips on modern segmentation strategies

July 15, 2016

Defining a useful segmentation strategy for a hotel can be very complex. The main obstacle is that hotels experience limited flexibility. Quite often, chains provide segmentation structures that were defined 20 years ago and don’t allow hotels to make changes based on their individual properties’ specifications or developments.

In the past, emphasis was placed on market segments defined by the purpose of the traveler’s hotel reservation, such as leisure or business. As highlighted by Janel Clark in a blog post on determining the right pricing strategy, it is critical that your segmentation strategy follows the MAAS (Measurability, Actionability, Accessibility, and Substantiation) principle. With the shift to today’s internet based booking landscape, it became nearly impossible to tell who the client actually is, let alone why the hotel room was booked. To make it even more complicated, it is not uncommon for travelers to combine a business with a leisure trip (what is sometimes known as "bleisure," I know, but I didn't make it up!).

As a result, hotels have learnt to focus on channel segments rather than market segments, to track where the booking was coming from rather than why the guest made the booking.

Get the full story at SnapShot

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8 ways to drive traffic to your property’s website (Part 2)

July 15, 2016

Be Everywhere, Be Mobile-Friendly

Our smartphones have become an extension of our bodies. We use our phones for just about everything – waking up, listening to music, tracking our steps, counting calories, communicating with friends, and yes, even travel shopping. 69% of smartphone users are searching for travel ideas in spare moments of their day. By the end of 2016, 50% of all travel bookings will have been completed on a mobile device. So if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, that’s some serious revenue you’re missing out on.

Furthermore, Google has now started penalizing sites that are not optimized for mobile. Websites deemed to be mobile-friendly are given a higher position in search engine rankings because of their superior end-user experience.

Some key elements of a mobile-friendly website include:

- Avoiding Flash and other software that doesn’t work on mobile devices.

- Having quick load times. 40% of shoppers won’t wait any longer than 3 seconds before abandoning a slow-loading mobile site.

- Automatically resizing photos and text to be proportional to each screen size. That way visitors don’t need to scroll across or zoom in on content.

- Links are separated by enough space, to make for easy tapping

Get the full story at Leonardo

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The battle for ‘book direct’ may be won, but the war will be not

July 14, 2016

In this war to win the hearts and minds of modern travelers, intermediaries like Google, Expedia and Priceline have the resources and major strategic advantages. Individually and collectively, they have massive financial resources to invest in technology (website and mobile), systems, databases, marketing, talent and so forth – more than any single chain, much less an independent property.

They have strategic advantages in their market power, reach and capitalization. Their strategic proposition for the consumer is also more compelling – an efficient means to assemble, determine value for and obtain the lowest prices for a comprehensive travel experience. They also have the traveler and supplier information to execute a seamless user experience. Moreover, their mobile apps are efficient, proactive and executed in real-time.

On first glance, a war against these opponents is unwinnable.

Get the full story at Hotel Online

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APAC set to become the world’s largest digital travel sales market

July 14, 2016

According to eMarketer’s worldwide digital travel sales forecast, sales in APAC will grow by more than 21% next year, reaching $215.92 billion, compared with North America’s $200.43 billion.

This strong growth is thanks to heavy activity within China, where digital travel sales this year are expected to grow by 36.0% to reach $95.29 billion. As has happened with the retail ecommerce market in China, high levels of mobile adoption, combined with a growing middle class that likes to take trips, have led to a booming digital travel market.

Currently, the US, with projected sales of $180.59 this year, has the largest digital travel market in the world. While the US market is currently more than double the size of China’s, it is not expected to keep this lead for much longer; by 2020 digital travel sales in China will reach $198.48 billion, less than $15 billion behind the US.

Get the full story at eMarketer and Asia Times

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What’s the significance of TripAdvisor’s upgraded flight search platform?

July 14, 2016

The new features might provide competition to companies such as Skyscanner, Kayak, Google, and Expedia. All these companies partner with Routehappy to provide the flight review facility.

TripAdvisor has been aggressively growing its Instant Booking feature which lets users book hotels directly through the TripAdvisor platform. Though such an option is not yet available for flights, some analysts expect the company to expand into flight bookings in the future, as the company is evolving from a media platform and metasearch engine into a direct competitor for the full-service online travel agencies such as Priceline and Expedia.

Get the full story at Nasdaq

Read also "TripAdvisor revamps flight search, adds user reviews"

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Airbnb says ‘not so fast’ to bots

July 14, 2016

When you arrive in a foreign city for the first time, how would you like to learn about the best nearby restaurants, scenic strolls, or the jazz band that assembles every Saturday at dusk in a centuries-old plaza? From a trusted local or from a bot on your smartphone? For Airbnb, the answer is obvious: the trusted local.

Speaking today at MobileBeat 2016, Joe Zadeh, vice president of product at Airbnb, stated that only humans - in this case, Airbnb hosts - can provide authentic hospitality and help foster the emotional relationship to a new place that travelers often seek. Travel can have a transformative effect on people, enlarging their world view and changing their understanding of self. In many ways, “Airbnb is in the self-actualization business,” Zadeh said.

Get the full story at VentureBeat

Read also "Travel embraces bots on messaging platforms"

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Hotel guest satisfaction plateaus as perks become standard

July 14, 2016

According to the J.D. Power 2016 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, overall satisfaction did increase this year by two points to 806, but it was a smaller increase than in previous years. The study calculates satisfaction on a 1,000-point scale.

Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice leader at J.D. Power, noted that perks have become standard.

“When guests no longer see added value in the quality of amenities they receive, the only option to truly differentiate a brand is to develop a strong service culture that makes guests feel special and appreciated,” he said.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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The data-driven case for vacation

July 14, 2016

The question that needs to be asked is whether we are more productive and successful with fewer days, or whether work is getting in the way of our success. Statistically, taking more vacation results in greater success at work as well as lower stress and more happiness at work and home.

So why aren’t we using more vacation time? At first glance, one might think that a scarcity of jobs or lack of job security might be leading people to believe they always need to be at work. But the data does not support that.

During 1982 and 2010, the two years since 1981 with the highest unemployment, people still used an average of 20.9 days of vacation. In 2015 the unemployment rate was 5.3% (it was 9.7% in 1982), and yet 2015 had one of the lowest averages of time off taken in the past 30 years: 16.2 days. There may be lots of reasons for this, but clearly unemployment rate does not directly correlate with time taken off.

Get the full story at Harvard Business Review

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UK travel demand to US and Europe significantly down as a result of Brexit

July 14, 2016

Initial data was compiled by nSight for European travelers actively shopping online during June for July, August, or September stays in the US.

Brexit is proving to influence not only travel behavior from the UK, but also other major European source markets for the US including France and Germany.

Get the full story at nSight

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Silken Hotels partners with ReviewPro to enhance the guest experience

July 14, 2016

Silken Hotels believes in the importance of creating a distinctive brand identity and character in order to provide customers with a unique experience. To help the luxury Spanish brand continue to enhance the guest’s stay, they have signed a new agreement with ReviewPro, world-leading providers of Guest Intelligence solutions for the hospitality industry.

The objective of this new partnership is to boost guest satisfaction, rankings on online review sites and revenue across all 35 properties in the group by using ReviewPro’s Online Reputation Management solution. The tool will allow the brand to benchmark against competitors with the industry standard online reputation score GRI™), based on review data collected from 175 online travel agencies (OTAs) and review sites in more than 45 languages. Silken Hotels has implemented an internal quality system to achieve excellence in customer service. The system clearly defines each individual employee’s responsibilities and management constantly encourages continuous improvement amongst the team. In line with this customer-centric culture, the hotel decided to partner with ReviewPro, pioneers in the industry, to help manage and improve the guest experience.

Get the full story at ReviewPro

Article location: launches pilot for destination experiences bot

July 13, 2016

Today at MobileBeat 2016, unveiled what it calls Booking Experiences, a service that will help people decide what to do once they arrive at their destination. “The real question [facing a traveler] is what should I do when I get to a destination?” said Anne-Sophie Liduena, VP of product for

The new service will leverage A.I. and machine learning to present personalized recommendations from an exhaustive list of local events and attractions, and enable people to purchase tickets or make reservations from within’s mobile app.

“Bots and AI are empowering us to interact with our surroundings,” Liduena said. “We can be provided with highly relevant suggestions to enhance our daily lives.”

Booking Experiences is available July 13, 2016 on both the Android and iOS versions of the app for Amsterdam. The pilot launches for Paris, London, and Dubai at the end of July and will go live for New York this fall.

Get the full story at VentureBeat

Read also "Expedia’s first bot is for booking hotels" and "Travel embraces bots on messaging platforms"

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Google plays concierge with new hotel deals and flight tracking features in search results

July 13, 2016

Now, when you search for specific types of hotels like “pet-friendly and under $175 a night,” Google can surface results nearest you (or whatever location in your search query) that fits those requirements. You can also narrow results down by clicking various filters, like “budget” or “luxury.”

Google will now also highlight deals when certain hotels are cheaper than normal. Richard Holden, VP of Product Management for Google Travel, said that while Google has advertising partners, results are shown organically to best match what the user is searching for.

“These deals are automatically identified by our algorithms when we see a significant reduction in price,” Google says. “In our early tests, we’ve seen that hotels marked as deals receive about twice as many bookings as other hotels.”

Get the full story at The Next Web

Read also "Google Courts Retail and Hotel Marketers With New Features" at AdAge

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Cracking the world’s biggest business travel market

July 13, 2016

With Asia’s position growing, the industry must work harder to understand the needs of the Asian business traveler, which we define as those based in the region. To help get a clear picture of the needs of this important segment, we surveyed more than 2,500 business travelers in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, and Singapore and interviewed 19 corporate-travel managers in various industries in the region. In addition, we analyzed the booking and spending patterns of Asia’s business travelers, using data provided by Amadeus and Visa.

The study underscored nuances that must be addressed to gain these travelers’ business. Three stand out. First, Asia’s business travelers are gaining greater autonomy in their travel decisions, making it critical to address their preferences, not just those of their employers. Second, they value convenience above all else. And finally, Asia’s business travelers can be divided into four archetypes, each with its own distinct set of needs and preferences.

Business travelers in Asia have an unexpected degree of autonomy when making travel plans, especially in areas such as booking flights and hotels. Our survey found that 69 percent of respondents are able to choose their airlines, either from a preapproved list or without restrictions. In fact, this included 11 percent with no constraints on either provider or price. Similarly, 74 percent of respondents said they have the same degree of freedom in picking a hotel, of which 9 percent said they have no restrictions whatsoever.

Get the full story at McKinsey & Company

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Airbnb for Business signs Amex, BCD and Carlson Wagonlit

July 13, 2016

Business travelers or travel managers will be able to book stays directly through Airbnb and travel managers will also be able to track and expense their employees’ bookings, similar to how they already track hotel bookings.

That integration lets reservation details for each business trip be automatically shared with travel management companies, allowing travel managers to access that data in real-time through expense reporting platforms and travelers to view their booking details in their corporate itineraries and on their mobile devices, which wasn’t possible before if they booked through Airbnb. This integration will go live in the U.S. this summer and expand to other countries later this year.

American Express Global Business Travel isn’t the first travel management company to partner with Airbnb as Concur, for example, began letting business travelers book Airbnb rentals through its TripLink service in July 2014, pre Airbnb for Business. But Global Business Travel’s size certainly points to more companies becoming comfortable with bringing Airbnb into their managed travel programs and also Airbnb’s business travel ambitions.

Get the full story at Skift and Travel Weekly

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Google on creating a travel micro-moments strategy

July 13, 2016

The business case for micro-moments thinking is clear. According to recent research that Google commissioned from Forrester Consulting, companies that take steps toward being moments-ready earn a markedly stronger ROI in both mobile and overall marketing investments. In this 6-part series, we'll explore:

- The latest consumer trends that define each of these travel micro-moments and how they're affecting travel industry trends.

- Snapshots of real travelers' research journeys, including the searches, clicks, website visits, and video views on their way to booking.

- Actionable ideas for travel marketers to be there and to be useful in each type of micro-moment.

- Examples of travel brands that are already seeing success with micro-moments thinking.

Read the articles at Think with Google:

- I-Want-to-Get-Away Moments: What They Mean for Travel Marketing

- How the Travel Research Process Plays Out in Time-to-Make-a-Plan Moments

- Travel Booking Trends Revealed in Let's-Book-It Moments

- How Mobile Influences Travel Decision Making in Can't-Wait-to-Explore Moments

- Travel Micro-Moments Guide: How to Be There and Be Useful for Travelers

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Microsoft CEO: Chatbots will ‘fundamentally revolutionize’ computing

July 13, 2016

“So pretty much everyone today who is building applications whether they be mobile apps or desktop apps or websites will build bots as the new interface, where you have a human dialogue interface versus menus of the past,” he said.

He painted a similarly ambitious picture in April when Microsoft Bot Framework was launched at Build, Microsoft’s annual developer conference. A new Skype bot framework was announced last week. About 20,000 developers signed up to use the Microsoft Bot Framework in its first month. More than 30,000 developers have signed up to use the framework since then, Microsoft told VentureBeat.

“It’s about taking the power of human language and applying it more pervasively to all of our computing. That means we need to into infuse into computers and computing intelligence about us and our context,” said Nadella, adding that the impact of chatbots could be as profound in impact as the Web, touch screen phones, or the transition to mobile.

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TrustYou acquires Checkmate and integrates live messaging into its guest feedback platform

July 13, 2016

Benjamin Jost, CEO and co-founder of TrustYou, explains: “Checkmate provides an outstanding real-time messaging product for hotels to communicate with their guests at all times, which fits perfectly into TrustYou’s guest feedback platform. With this addition to our platform, we are one step closer to powering the entire guest feedback cycle for the global hospitality and travel industry.”

Real-time communication also prevents negative reviews before they occur by giving the hotel the opportunity to resolve complaints quickly. This helps to improve the hotel product and its global reputation, which drives bookings on scale.

Checkmate’s CEO and co-founder Drew Patterson says: “The combination with TrustYou helps realize Checkmate’s vision of real-time, personal interaction between guests and hotels. TrustYou’s scale accelerates hotel adoption, and their expertise in powering guest feedback strengthens the Checkmate product. Together we can shape the future of guest communication and feedback.”

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Resort Reservations Agents: It’s not about what’s available but help to book now

July 13, 2016

By Doug Kennedy

Besides providing reservations sales training and telephone mystery shopping for the lodging industry, many companies have hired me to do consulting regarding their overall sales and service levels. In this case I often place calls myself directly to the reservations sales agents, which I find to be even more insightful than just listening to our KTN mystery shoppers here in the office doing so.

Almost universally these days, it seems that reservations agents view it as their job to take bookings or to provide callers with a list of available room types and rates for their requested dates. Most are polite in doing so, but this is not helping. The calls usually flow like this:

Caller (me in this case): “Hello, I was online and I needed some help in planning my vacation.” Agent: “Sure, I can assist you. What are your dates?” and “What kind of room are you looking for?”

Caller: “Well I was looking for help in booking for our family vacation…” Agent: “Okay, well we have over 5 different room types plus suites. Let me tell you what we have open.”

Most continue on to then provide a list of each room type and rate.

Some agents continue on and politely explain that “Our website has pictures of each room.” A few take a slightly different approach that is really not much better; they ask for the caller’s email address and then say they will email over a list of what’s available. When such lists arrive they typically include every room type that is open. This is exactly the wrong approach for several reasons.

- Most callers visit the resort website before calling; sending them back online does nothing to assist with their decision making.

- When going back online, they might visit a different hotel’s website and book with them.

- Those who found the resort through a third party website might go back there to select a different resort. Or go to an OTA website costing us a hefty commission.

- Emailing over a list does not help either; it simply provides the same list that they probably already viewed themselves or could have pulled up on their own.

This approach is like treating a vacation reservations inquiry as if it was a “tech support” call to your cable TV provider. I call this “Website search support” mode.

Instead, resort reservations sales agents need to understand what it’s like on the other end of that phone line. First of all, planning a vacation is one of the most important tasks human beings do every year. They have a high degree of emotional investment in the process, especially when plans are being made for other family members and friends. Our vacation time is precious to us and having just the right resort and accommodation is a core component. Secondly, those who do call tend to be planning trips that are more complex, such as for larger parties that require multiple rooms in a close proximity, for multi-generational parties, or for families with special needs such as pets, health concerns or mobility restrictions.

Also, consumers in general these days are facing what many refer to as the Choice Overwhelm Problem. Noted authors such as psychologists Dr. Barry Schwartz and also Dr. Sheena Lyengar both have written many books, articles on this phenomenon and both have Ted Talks available online that highlight the challenges that we as consumers face with the seemingly infinite number of choices we have to make daily.

Rather than sending the callers back to the same website they started at, or just giving them the same list of available rooms they could have found themselves online, today’s agents need to realize their job is to help callers decide and commit!

Now I realize that many agents are hesitant to recommend or suggest a room. They feel that each guest has their own preferences, tastes and desires, what one guest might love, another might despise. That is all well and good, but these are not excuses not to do our jobs as salespersons.

The key is to engage the caller in a conversation and investigate “the story” behind their vacation plans. In today’s world, callers have all of the information before calling. So rather than talking, sales these days is all about asking the right questions! (By the way, this is why KTN calls our program Hotel Reservations QUEST.) Besides just getting the dates, number in party, and bedding preferences, we need to be determining familiarity and if there is a reason or special occasion for which they are vacationing. Most importantly, engage them with the following question: “As I’m checking availability, what questions can I answer for you such as about the location, resort activities or amenities?”

For one, callers might have a specific question. Even if they don’t, you will have planted the seed that you are there to help them decide, not just to help them find what’s open.

By asking these (and other) investigative questions, you can find out more about what they are looking for and then make needs-based recommendations for both activities and for the accommodations. For example “Based on what you told me, our resort would be an excellent choice for your family getaway…” or “There are different accommodations properties which I can recommend, all of which are great choices.”

Finally, rather than sending callers back online, ask if they are near their computer that they can go online while you are on the phone. Especially for resorts with a multitude of different types of accommodations (such as suites, villas, private cottages or homes), consider using a free online meeting tool such as, which will allow you to share your screen (or to have them share their screen) so you can guide them through their search.

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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TripAdvisor revamps flight search, adds user reviews

July 12, 2016

TripAdvisor on Tuesday introduced a redesigned flight search, complete with user reviews of airlines. TripAdvisor has also launched a “flyscore” feature within its search results. On a 1 to 10 scale, “flyscore” measures a flight based upon reviews of the airline, type of aircraft used, amenities offered on the flight and length of itinerary.

Tuesday’s upgrade of its flight search is TripAdvisor’s first major redesign of the service in seven years, according to communications director Brian Hoyt.

“Travelers now have a go-to resource for making more informed air travel decisions based not only on the price of the flight, but the total experience with the airline as viewed by TripAdvisor’s community of more than 340 million monthly unique visitors,” the company said in a statement.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly and Skift

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Why the Chinese travel market looks so enticing to Priceline

July 12, 2016

Priceline Group has been watching China as a potential major market for its growing online travel agent (OTA) business. It makes sense, as China has a vastly growing middle class and an increased appetite for travel and booking travel services online. However, fierce local competition and trouble navigating the political landscape have made it hard for other internet companies to succeed in China. Here's what Priceline has done to learn the market and increase its investment in China for long-term growth.

According to BCG analysts, average incomes in China rose 11% per year from 2010 to 2015, and those analysts expect this rise to lead to around 9% annual increase in consumer spending in the country through 2020. Even though China's overall GDP and economic growth are slowing, the middle class and their consumer spending are rising much faster than in most other regions of the world.

That rising middle class, now with more disposable income, also has a growing appetite for travel. China's travel industry grew 19% in 2015 year over year and is set to be larger than the United States' travel market by 2020, according to Goldman Sachs analysts. Even better news for Priceline is that those travelers are increasingly booking online. In 2015, travel booked online grew 26% in China year over year.

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Ctrip crashes travel start-ups in China

July 12, 2016, branded as Taozailushang in Chinese, an online customized travel package platform with backing from Alibaba Group Holdings, Redpoint Ventures, Softbank Corp and New Horizon Capital, has confirmed that it is currently going through liquidation.

Maidou Travel, a start-up providing overseas leisure travel packages backed by Gobi Partners, has folded. Weekend get-away trip provider Where To Go On Weekends has shut down operations. Last-minute travel package start-up Ailvxing is no longer in business, while its rival Lailaihui is cutting staff and fighting for survival.

"They didn't have timing on their side," an executive at an unnamed Chinese travel giant was quoted by Chinese media, referring to the increasing dominance of Ctrip and a cooling environment of venture funding.

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Brexit seen benefiting UK tourism as travelers seek value

July 12, 2016

Seeking what equates to discounted luxury goods and hotels, travelers from other nations are showing increased interest in trips to Britain, while U.K. citizens are expected to opt to remain home rather than traveling to locales where their money will not go as far. Despite a time of political and economic uncertainty in the U.K., signs point to a boost to the country’s tourism industry, at least in the foreseeable future.

“In my view the Brexit currency fluctuations are expected to attract travelers to the U.K. as favorable exchange rates will help make their shopping experience attractive short term,” said Nadejda Popova, Travel Project Manager at Euromonitor International. “Already we are seeing investors from Russia, Middle East and Asia keen to purchase properties in the country following the Brexit vote.

“When concerns travel plans I think it all depends which markets these affluent travelers come from and also what will be the outcome of the negotiation between the E.U. and U.K. regarding the terms of the exit from the E.U.,” she said. “One major area which could impact travel from European countries will be if U.K. leaves the Open Skies Agreement.

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