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Expedia’s profit soars; gross bookings rise 29%

October 31, 2014

Overall, Expedia reported a profit of $257.1 million, or $1.94 a share, up from $170.9 million, or $1.43 a share, a year earlier. Excluding stock-based compensation and other items, earnings rose to $1.94 from $1.22 cents. Revenue jumped 22% to $1.71 billion, bolstered by a 29% growth in advertising and media.

Expedia has launched a bid to acquire Holdings Ltd. , one of Australia’s largest online travel agencies, a deal that would bolster Expedia’s business in the Asia-Pacific region. That deal remains under regulatory review.

The travel industry is under pressure as new players, from referral sites that search multiple sites to startups that offer unpublished discounts and stays in apartments and spare rooms. Travel websites responded by offering discounts and loyalty programs. Last year, Expedia joined forces with rival Travelocity.

Get the full story at and Expedia

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China business travel spend to surge

October 31, 2014

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Foundation, the voice of the global business travel industry, today announced the results of its latest GBTA BTI™ Outlook – China report, a semi-annual analysis that relates unfolding economic events at home and abroad to their resulting impacts on China's business travel market. The report, sponsored by Visa Inc., includes the GBTA BTI™; an index of business travel spending that distills market performance over a period of time.

Key highlights of the report include:

- GBTA projects China's total business travel spend to grow 15.9 percent in 2014 to $262 billion USD and another 18 percent in 2015.

- Chinese economic activity rebounded in 2014 Q2 after a more sluggish start to the year, largely thanks to improving exports, stronger household consumption and stimulus-driven local government infrastructure spending.

- Improving export performance as the world economy begins to improve is arguably an even more significant positive indicator for business travel, outbound in particular.

- As previously forecasted, China is poised to overtake the U.S. as the number one business travel market in the world. Given our current projected growth in business travel in the two markets, we expect China to surpass the U.S. in spending by 2016.

- GBTA expects China will see a continuation of robust domestic growth in 2014 and 2015, growing 16 and 18 percent respectively. This level of growth is unsustainable in the long run, however, unless levels of domestic consumption are boosted. This trend should be closely monitored by travel managers and travel suppliers doing business in China.

- After a few years of tepid growth, China's international outbound (IOB) travel is beginning to improve. GBTA expects IOB spending in China to grow 16 percent in 2014 and an additional 19 percent in 2015 to $13.4 billion USD.

"The unprecedented growth in China's economy has propelled the country's business travel market to represent roughly 20 percent of global business travel spending," said Welf J. Ebeling, regional director for GBTA Asia. "The continuation of China's robust domestic economic growth is dependent on increased consumption. Chinese authorities are focused on maintaining these current levels of economic growth while continuing to execute a long-term strategy to rebalance the economy to be less dependent on exports and investments and more focused on consumption."

"Economic growth in China continues to provide great potential for an active business travel market. According to the latest International Monetary Fund report, China has overtaken the US to become the world's largest economy in terms of purchasing power." said Stanford Lin, Head of Products at Visa China. "In line with GBTA's report, we are seeing that China's business travel market continues to evolve in 2014, driven by fast-growing outbound travel. To facilitate the growing momentum, Visa is committed to working with its partners to roll out optimized payment solutions to Chinese enterprises and business travelers to help them better manage their daily expenditures as they travel around the globe."

Infrastructure Growth Necessary to Support Enormous Growth in Chinese Travel

Over the last decade, China's largest airports have doubled in size and the construction of additional airports continues, including Beijing's second international airport, slated to begin this year and open in 2018. In addition to airports, data from Lodging Econometrics shows 70 percent of the total room pipeline in Asia Pacific can be attributed to China as Beijing alone currently has 95 projects totaling 13,574 rooms. There is evidence, however, that the balance in the supply and demand for hotel rooms in China may be shifting as supply starts to catch up with demand.

Areas of Concern

Ongoing challenges exist in China's manufacturing and real estate sectors – yet the economy will continue to advance at rates above 7 percent through 2015. Many media discussions call the housing sector China's economic Achilles' heel believing that China's rapidly rising debt-to-GDP ratio and falling housing prices will lead to a debt-inspired collapse of the Chinese economy forcing a recession among its key trading partners. Unlike the U.S. housing collapse in 2006, however, China's situation is dramatically different as there is less leverage, more equity and more policy weapons to soften the blow of falling asset prices. The real estate market bears watching, but its imminent collapse is unlikely.

Given that as much as 40 percent of the economy is dependent upon exports, strengthening exports is welcome news, as GBTA believes its importance is underestimated and overshadowed by the current media focus on real estate risk.

In addition to the report, GBTA Asia is also pleased to announce the launch of a brand new website today created specifically for business travel managers and suppliers in China. Available in both Mandarin and English, the GBTA China site will allow users to view news, tools and other information relevant to the China travel market, helping travel managers in China to excel in their role as a business travel professional.

The GBTA BTI Outlook – China is free of charge to all GBTA Members by clicking here. Non-members may purchase the report through the GBTA Foundation by emailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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Marriott offers free Wifi for customers booking direct

October 31, 2014

Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) announced today plans to provide free Wi-Fi to all 47 million members of Marriott Rewards, the company’s award-winning loyalty program, who book directly on, Marriott’s mobile app, 1-800-MARRIOTT, or through a Marriott hotel. Beginning January 15, 2015, this benefit will make free standard Wi-Fi available across more than 3,800 hotels in the company’s extensive lodging portfolio worldwide.

“Marriott Rewards members asked for free Wi-Fi, and we answered,” said Stephanie Linnartz, executive vice president and chief marketing and commercial officer, Marriott International. “Free Wi-Fi is a meaningful way to reward our most loyal customers and continue to attract next-gen travelers.”

This new Marriott Rewards benefit will be available at Marriott Hotels, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Gaylord Hotels, Autograph Collection, AC Hotels by Marriott, and Marriott Executive Apartments, as well as Marriott Rewards’ exclusive luxury partner, The Ritz-Carlton®. These brands join EDITION, Moxy, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Marriott Vacation Club, which already provide free Wi-Fi today.

Marriott Rewards Platinum and Gold Elite members will continue to enjoy an exclusive benefit – free enhanced Wi-Fi, where available. This premium-tier service allows for downloading large files faster and streaming media such as movies. Other members may upgrade to enhanced Wi-Fi for a fee. Marriott International will continue to honor commitments with accounts and groups with negotiated agreements.

Marriott Rewards, which is free to join, features exclusive benefits. Members can earn points which can be redeemed at more than 3,800 hotels around the world, enjoy mobile check-in and check-out, and now enjoy free Wi-Fi.

For the latest updates, follow Marriott Rewards on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter with #SayHiToWiFi.

Note: This new benefit is not available at select hotels that do not participate in the Marriott Rewards program. Other exclusions may apply. For complete details, visit

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10 tips on leveraging social media from Accorhotels

October 31, 2014

Emilie Couton, vice president, guest experience of Accorhotels, in presentiing the 10 essential “rules” from the Monitor listed “making an impression” as the first of the 10.

According to the Monitor, in response to the question on ‘How do you feel about ads on social media?”, 39% of the respondents said they did not mind them while 14% found them “interesting and useful”. However, 12% regarded the ads as “harassing and not useful” while 15% “never noticed them”.

The other “Little Big 9” are:

- Be platform relevant: Know which social media platforms are being used geographically. For example WhatsApp is popular in Malaysia, Singapore and India, Line in Korea, Kakao in China, Facebook in most parts of the world etc.

“Be on the lookout for new players”, advised Couton.

Get the full story at WIT

Article location: busted for buying links, offers weak apology

October 31, 2014

Earlier this month, a number of influential travel bloggers received an email from an as-yet unnamed “SEO Manager” for’s Americas division. The poorly-written email was sent from a email address, and claimed that the SEO Manager had been reading the bloggers’ posts. The sender went on to ask if the recipients would be interested in some “brand promotion for our hotels.”

So far, so good, right? Unfortunately (for, the phrasing of the email soon to a detour into black-hat territory. The sender, who until the end of the email had been asking for hotel reviews or “more neutral content, such as ‘Brought to you by,’” then gave the game away by explicitly asking how much the bloggers wanted to be paid for helping acquire backlinks: “If you agree with partnering with us on helping us acquire backlinks, I would like to discuss a package or how you wanted to compensated to perform this assignment.”

Predictably, was quick to distance itself from the shady machinations of the SEO Manager calling it an “internal misunderstanding.”

Get the full story at the WordStream blog

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Travel app lets you check out other passengers before flight

October 31, 2014

Travel app Quicket released an updated version this week -- and among the new features is a "social check-in" option, which allows passengers to creep on their seatmates via Facebook before either of them even gets on the plane.

So if you're the worst person on your flight -- or are terrified of meeting someone who is -- don't say you didn't have fair warning.

Granted, your fellow passengers won't be able to research you without your consent: "Only users who approve the social feature will be presented on the flight," a spokesperson for the app told HuffPost in an email.

Get the full story at The Huffington Post and

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Accor launches its digital transformation “Leading Digital Hospitality”

October 31, 2014

Its objectives are to rethink and incorporate digital technology throughout the customer journey, improve the services on offer for investor partners and consolidate the Group's distribution market share. Its two pillars are IT infrastructure and data management. The plan will be rolled out through eight programs, which initial deliverables to be effective as early as 2015.

Sébastien Bazin, Accor Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said: "Accor is transforming on a strategic, digital and managerial level. The plan addresses the full range of digital challenges and aims to make Accor the leader of a fast-changing industry. Accor is the leading hotel operator worldwide, backed by strong resources and unparalleled expertise. Combining these assets with our new digital ambition will allow us to expand our operational excellence throughout the entire industry value chain, to better anticipate customers' expectations, and to bolster our leadership over the long term."

Vivek Badrinath, Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of marketing, digital solutions, distribution, and information systems, added: "We have decided to act on all of the levers that make up the Accor experience. All our stakeholders – customers, employees and partners – will benefit from this wide-reaching digital transformation, which is built around migration to mobile devices, a more personalized service and a seamless customer journey."

An integrated plan based on 8 programs
The plan includes four customer-focused programs that aim to improve the knowledge of customers, the welcome they are given and the services provided. They will enable Accor to increase its customer data base and develop further loyalty.

- "Mobile First" takes into account customers' migration to mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, by rolling out a single mobile application incorporating all of Accor's services before, during and after hotel stays.

- "Customer Centric" will develop and make optimum use of databases to ensure personalized follow-up and services, and will centralize feedback on a single platform known as the "Voice of the Guests".

- "Seamless Journey" will ensure convenience for customers at every stage of their experience, with electronic payment solutions, one-click booking, online check-in and the Le Club Accorhotels virtual card.

- "Mice & BtoB" will develop innovative digital solutions for businesses, such as online booking of seminar facilities, and will increasingly incorporate BtoB services in the global booking website,

The plan also includes programs for the Group's employees and partners:

- "Employee Friendly" aims to simplify welcome tasks using tablets and smartphones, develop online training solutions, and encourage experience sharing via "AccorLive", the in-house social network.

- "Owner & Franchise Centric" aims to make Accor the most efficient and transparent partner, notably by offering comprehensive dynamic pricing and revenue management solutions, a dedicated portal to access personalized information and services and an optimized billing process, starting in 2015.

Group's digital transformation also involves making IT tools and systems even more robust and agile. To
achieve this objective, the following programs will be implemented in 2015:

- "Infrastructure Transformation" will focus on optimizing systems to speed up the roll-out of new services and keep pace with rising transaction volumes.

- "Business Intelligence & Analytics" will ensure that operational decisions are increasingly based on analyses of the large volumes of data collected, particularly in hotels.

The digital plan relies on existing robust tools, some of which have been significantly improved since the beginning of 2014, and which keep evolving:

- TARS, The Accor Reservation System, is a powerful distribution tool, which today centralizes 59% of the Group's bookings and over five million inquiries per day.

- is the Group's multi-brand booking portal, which manages an average of 45,000 reservations per day. It is already available in 32 local versions and 16 languages (18 planned by 2015) and now offers a new trip planning service (My Trip Planner) that enables customers to prepare their stays in 70 destinations around the world.

- Le Club Accorhotels is the Group's multi-brand loyalty program, which added over 3 million new members in 2014 and increased its generosity. It is the only hotel loyalty program in the world that allows customers to redeem points with no time or availability restrictions.

Based on these tools, several important initiatives have already been launched over the last months at
each stage of the customer journey, including:

- Increased personalization of e-mail campaigns through SMART, an exclusive self-learning recommendation tool that will generate over 14,000 e-mail campaigns in 16 languages in 2014.

- The worldwide roll-out of "Welcome by Le Club Accorhotels", a digital solution that revisits hospitality and aims to make customers' stays easier through smartphone exchanges. It will be up and running in 1,000 Group hotels by the end of 2014.

- A complete makeover of the photo and video images available online, with more than 2,500 new shoots currently in progress.

Culture of innovation at the heart of the digital transformation

Accor will dedicate additional resources to innovation, through open innovation platforms and tactical acquisitions that strengthen its expertise and technology.

The Group also announces today its acquisition of French start-up Wipolo, a cutting-edge travel software company that offers mobile and web itinerary management services.

Ambitious five-year investment plan

The plan will be rolled out under the aegis of a dedicated governance structure, comprising a Digital Steering Committee and eight Digital Program Committees.

Accor will invest a significant €225 million between 2014 and 2018 to bring all of these initiatives to fruition. Capital expenditure will account for 55% of the total and operating expenditure for the remaining 45%.

In all, 60% of the amount invested will be aimed at consolidating the Group's current performance by improving middle and back-office solutions. The remaining 40% will be used to expand market share and optimize distribution unit costs.

Sébastien Bazin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, added: "This profound transformation gives Accor an outstanding platform to scale up."

Read also "Accor to beef up its digital business"

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Vertical Booking USA announces latest software release

October 31, 2014

Vertical Booking CRS 3.0 has already been implemented for a number of hotel clients, with full client adoption expected by December 1, 2014.

Version 3.0 gives the entire system a facelift, with a clean and streamlined graphical user interface. Always an innovator, Vertical Booking designed a custom interface for each system user to drill down to only the specific tools they need to access on a regular basis. This new feature, called My Menu, allows managers to simplify the CRS for basic users, or customize their dashboard to reach the features they need quickly.

"My Menu is already an asset to my team," said The Marlin Hotel's Manager, Daniela Garcia. "Each user can pre-define a simplified menu of shortcuts on their dashboard. It's like each of us has our own personalized system to log in to."

As one of the most anticipated features of the release, the new dashboard allows users to change rates and inventory directly upon log-in. Managers can also monitor and analyze data from extranet channels through a series of advanced graphs and tables. Sales are broken down through a variety of indicators, including channels, country of origin and even lead-time.

"It's a great feeling to know that our clients are already benefitting from the recent enhancements," said Vertical Booking USA's Client Service Manager, Rebecca Ramsey. "Upgrades to the length of stay discounts and upselling tools are the most advanced I've seen, making it so simple for hotels to implement sophisticated revenue management strategies."

Vertical Booking, a global reservation technology provider serving 2,500 chain and independent hotel clients, just recently expanded operations to North America. Founded in 1999, Vertical Booking is present in 57 countries, translated into 26 different languages and usable in all currencies.

Related Link: Vertical Booking

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Ritz-Carlton’s secrets to hotel search marketing success

October 30, 2014

Jeremy L. Wilbur, director of digital marketing for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, reveals nine secrets to achieving search marketing success for hotel marketers:

1. Go beyond ROI: ROI is often considered the Holy Grail of metrics. But when it comes to paid search, it's important to look beyond gross revenue and consider other metrics, like overall profitability, Wilbur says. For instance, instead of using search to sell standard hotel rooms, the Ritz-Carlton leverages the channel to expose customers to various room types and vacation packages, which ultimately helps boost its bottom line.

“It's not just always about gross revenue,” he says. “You can also add in layers to understand if you're driving more profit to hotels, which is valuable.”

The Ritz-Carlton also uses paid search to track where customers are in their customer funnel, Wilbur explains, such as by tracking engagement metrics and the number of loyalty program enrollments.

Get the full story at Direct Marketing News

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Accor to beef up its digital business

October 30, 2014

In a statement ahead of an investor day detailing the plan, Accor said that as part of the plan it had bought French start-up Wipolo, a travel software company that offers mobile and web itinerary management services. It did not disclose the sum paid.

Accor, which competes with InterContinental, Marriott and Starwood, is undergoing a reorganisation initiated by Chief Executive Sebastien Bazin, who took over more than a year ago.

Bazin faces challenges range from rising competition from online travel agents (OTAs), who are hitting the margins of traditional hoteliers and earning commission fees that can reach 20 percent of the cost of a room, to the growing popularity of online home-sharing site Airbnb.

Accor's response notably focuses on beefing up its IT tools and systems, improving existing services such as TARS, the Accor Reservation System, bolstering its loyalty programme, and expanding the group's distribution market share.

Get the full story at Reuters

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China’s Internet giants get online-travel bug

October 30, 2014

China’s booming online travel business is getting increasingly cutthroat, as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and other Chinese Internet giants look to tap the surging ranks of Chinese tourists.

Alibaba this week unveiled an independent travel marketplace branded Alitrip, a revamp of its Taobao Travel arm. The company said Alitrip is a “logical extension” of its strategy and has more than 10,000 merchants, adding that there is still a “large, unmet demand” for online travel services. The new platform has already signed agreements with Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and hotel-booking site

It is the latest maneuver by one of China’s three most powerful Internet companies - Alibaba, Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Baidu Inc. - for more of the booming Chinese travel business.

China tourism revenue rose 14% to 2.95 trillion yuan ($480.88 billion) in 2013 from the prior year, according to the China National Tourism Administration. International travel from China jumped 18% to 98.2 million tourists, while domestic travel increased about 10% to 3.26 billion tourists.

Boston Consulting Group estimates that by 2030, tourists from China will make up approximately 40% of outbound Asian travelers, taking 1.7 billion trips annually, up from 500 million trips taken in 2012, the latest year for which data were available. It predicts Chinese tourists will spend about $1.8 trillion on travel and tourism by 2030, nearly seven times what they spent two years ago.

Though brick-and-mortal travel agencies still dominated in China in 2013, online travel retail sales are expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 17%, according to market-research firm Euromonitor International, with mobile bookings expected to become a large piece of the online market.

Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal

Read also "Alibaba eyes online travel"

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TripAdvisor launches Exceptional Service Awards

October 30, 2014

Someone on your staff could soon be the recipient of an Exceptional Service Award!

This inaugural TripAdvisor campaign is another way to recognize and honor how dedicated properties are to providing remarkable service. After all, a recent survey of our community showed that 67% of travelers don’t think hospitality professionals get enough recognition for their efforts.

TripAdvisor is currently reviewing all the nominations for accommodation, restaurant and attraction professionals who’ve put in extra effort to delight travelers from the past year. Who knows, one of your concierges, waiters or tour operates could be a winner-in-waiting.

Get the full story at TripAdvisor

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Time for hotels to start building their own online audiences?

October 30, 2014

With last year’s Google “Hummingbird Update”, the results a guest wanted when he/she typed something in the search box may quickly flit away in an educated guess on what the guest was really searching for.

Google is starting to recognize the intent of the query and not the keyword typed in the search box. For instance, if a guest searches ten times for “downtown San Diego hotel” and the eleventh time types in “San Diego hotel” (maybe with an intent to cast a wider net), it will deduct based on past web behavior and other data points that the correct result would be a downtown San Diego hotel and not any other hotel result.

Google has gone from a factual database of everything to more of a predictive user intent result that is always learning and updating itself based on a user’s behavior characteristics. Google will now sort through the billions of web pages and other information it has in order to return what it believes are the best answers and not what may have actually been typed in the search box.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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Study: America’s youth are super excited about robots working in hotels

October 30, 2014

Of those who said they’d be very excited to utilize the services of a robot in a hotel, 62.7 percent were between the ages of 18 and 34. The overwhelming majority of respondents who said they were not excited about utilizing such a robot - 69.6 percent - were above the age of 45. Seventy seven percent of those who said they would choose a hotel with a robot over one without one were between the age of 18 and 34.

Taylor Short, a market research associate at Software Advice, who conducted the survey this September, chalked the differences up to the unique desires of different generations.

“If you can set millennials up in a hotel staffed by robots that’s something they can share on Facebook and Twitter,” Short said. “Something that creates a story that they can share with people whereas maybe baby boomers and older groups are looking for the classically high-end luxury hotel with the elaborate ballroom.”

Get the full story at The Washington Post

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eRevMax launches LIVE, the next generation distribution & business intelligence solution

October 30, 2014

eRevMax, the leading hospitality technology provider is launching its next generation distribution & analytic solution, LIVE, a responsive web platform that allows hoteliers ubiquitous access to manage their business and make decisions based upon proactive business intelligence at WTM London. The LIVE platform incorporates the RateTiger and Connect product sets, and merges detailed Competitor Intelligence & Business Analytics with XML channel connectivity for real-time rate and inventory updates coordinated with booking delivery to hotel 3rd party systems.

The new LIVE Analytics module provides real-time visibility into group and property level business performance helping hotels measure and improve key metrics including booking production, pace, reputation monitoring and compliance to strategic & tactical business plans. The Channel Manager module allows hotels to quickly manage room rates, availability and restrictions across all connected XML channels in real-time through any connected device. Hotels can also access high quality ready-to-use rate reports available within eRevMax's Managed Rate Data Feed from the dashboard.

"We constantly evolve our products to give our hotel customers a competitive edge, and LIVE is a continuation of that process. LIVE delivers a dynamic Integrated Management Dashboard that helps hotels to measure and control all aspects of their revenue strategy in real-time, thereby driving improved productivity and better business outcome," said Reuel Ghosh, Founder President, eRevMax. "By making it easier than ever to understand and monitor key business insights and implement effective revenue decisions, we are enabling hotels to match the speed of their customers and align their business metrics and strategy accordingly."

RateTiger and Connect LIVE by eRevMax, powered with sophisticated analytical, distribution and capabilities and interactive reporting dashboard, help hotels make informed decision based on key insights and streamline all aspects of their revenue management for driving better results. Both solutions offer rate comparison, revenue optimization and business performance monitoring capabilities with the following advantages:

- Real-time Availability, Rate & Inventory (ARI) updates
- 2-way XML connectivity with leading OTAs, CRSs, PMSs
- Monitor group & property performance on a single dashboard
- Production and revenue analytics on key parameters including booking pace, budget and conversion
- High quality rate reports for the hotel & its competitor set
- Real-time rate and reputation intelligence
- Intuitive, simple, robust & scalable cloud based application

Join us for the launch of LIVE by eRevMax on 3 November, 2014 at 03.00pm at WTM Stand TT550

Related Link: eRevMax

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Tips to navigate the complex shopping journey and reach more travelers

October 30, 2014

Four practical takeaways from Leonardo's recent webinar with Google:

- People are inspired primarily by online resources, most especially through social and video sites and search results so it’s important that your hotel be represented on these sites and optimized for search engines

- The research phase is a critical part of the planning stage of hotel shopping which presents an opportunity for hotel marketers: Grab travelers’ attention, and stay memorable as they go through the consideration process

- Mobile is important throughout the entire shopping journey with the majority of leisure and business travelers switching between devices to complete planning and booking. Being optimized for smartphones and tablets shouldn’t be a back burner initiative any longer

- More than half of hotel bookers watch online videos to make a decision regarding their accommodations. Video production isn’t as expensive as it used to be and there is an option for every budget.

Get the full story and wathc the webinar at Leonardo

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Alibaba eyes online travel

October 29, 2014

Alibaba will spin off its online travel business, previously run as Taobao Travel, to create an independent brand Alitrip, the company said in a statement, adding that the new platform will be an “integral” part of the group.

“Alitrip will enrich our ecosystem and create value for users by providing them with high-quality service and an array of new functions,” said Alitrip general manager Li Shaohua.
China already has two major online travel agencies, Ctrip and Elong.

Headquartered in the eastern city of Hangzhou, Alibaba operates China’s most popular online shopping platform, Taobao, which is estimated to hold more than 90% of the online market for consumer-to-consumer transactions.

Get the full story at AFP and

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Hipmunk cuts Yahoo deal

October 29, 2014

Hipmunk is a tiny company compared to online travel giants like Priceline and Expedia that can far outspend it on marketing.

But Hipmunk, which has won a following for its simple, uncluttered hotel and flight search service, is finding creative new ways to market itself that don’t require spending a fortune. Last week, it announced a deal with Yelp, the crowdsourced review site, to allow people to book hotels through Hipmunk without ever leaving the Yelp site.

On Tuesday, it plans to announce a deal with an even bigger site, Yahoo, to allow travel bookings through Hipmunk on the site.

In a phone interview, Adam Goldstein, the chief executive and co-founder of Hipmunk, said the Yahoo and Yelp agreements are the first of a number of such deals the company plans to announce soon.

Get the full story at The New York Times (blog)

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Asian tourists drive a wave of growth in online bookings

October 29, 2014

At this year's conference entitled "Web in Travel", the OTAs also believed that the use of the Internet for travel grew by 50 per cent in the region while online ticketing doubled over the past few years. As a result, operators are forced to develop more marketing and solutions to meet with the demand of the new generation.

Aman Bhutani, senior vice president engineering, and John Kim, chief product officer at Expedia Worldwide, said online operators should provide more data and information on their website or online channel in order to give consumers an experience before they make a reservation.

Moreover, there is a need for easy and simple Internet surfing to encourage faster decision-making for online transactions.

According to Gillian Tans, chief operating officer of, a lot of Asian tourists are booking air tickets and hotel rooms online before travelling. This is a big change in the behaviour of Asian tourists in the past decade.

Get the full story at The Nation

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Fastbooking in talks over sale to IHS

October 29, 2014

The move to buy Fastbooking will bolster IHS’s growing presence in the hospitality support sector, following its acquisition of computer reservation system provider InnLink in April this year.

Fastbooking has around 8,000 partner hotels in 100 countries around the world and claims to be generating around Euro 450 million for its customers per year.

The company’s core products include web development, booking engines, search marketing services and channel management tools.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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Starwood projects higher 2015 corporate rates, growing group demand

October 29, 2014

Starwood is making "good progress" as it relates to negotiated corporate rates, executive vice president and CFO Thomas Mangas said Tuesday during the company's third-quarter earnings call, although he declined to provide any further specifics.

The company's average systemwide daily rate during the third quarter increased 3.4 percent year over year to $177.15, with quarterly ADR increasing in the Americas (5.2 percent) and Europe (4.5 percent) but declining in Asia/Pacific (0.4 percent) and Africa and the Middle East (4.9 percent). Global occupancy increased 2.8 percentage points year over year to 72.9 percent. During the quarter, the company reported that it signed 39 hotel management and franchise contracts, representing approximately 7,100 rooms, and opened 18 hotels and resorts with approximately 3,500 rooms.

Net income was $109 million in the third quarter of 2014, compared with $157 million in the third quarter of 2013.

Get the full story at Business Travel News and Travel Weekly

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It’s time to treat content as part of the user experience

October 29, 2014

Most organizations treat content like some kind of horrific disease. They try to shove it as far away as possible from the "real" web site, like a bad case of body lice. Where do they put it? The blog, of course.

They also incorrectly define "content." Content isn't "stuff we write to rank higher" or "infographics" or "longform articles." Content is anything that communicates a message to the audience. Anything.

We all need to change our entire approach to content. Treat it as part of the user experience, instead of a nasty skin disease:

- Integrate content that can enhance the user experience
- Optimize what you already have

Get the full story at the Moz blog

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Just For You: More qualified TripAdvisor travelers

October 29, 2014

Here is how the Just For You feature works:

- Travelers search for a hotel in your destination and filter results based on tags, or travel preferences, such as travel style, location, amenities and brand

- The proprietary algorithm also factors in the traveler’s prior TripAdvisor research and site contributions

- The personalized results are delivered to help travelers find a better hotel for their needs and interests

While you can’t add tags for your own property, the Just For You feature is very adaptive. As TripAdvisor Senior Vice President of Global Product Adam Medros points out, “With the new feature, we not only match a traveler with their preferred type of hotel, but we can specifically suggest the trendy, boutique hotel located downtown with a swimming pool because we know those are the specific hotel characteristics you like.”

As of right now, the Just For You feature is only available for hotel searches. Searches for B&Bs, restaurants and attractions do not have this new option.

Get the full story at TripAdvisor for business

Read also "TripAdvisor introduces ‘Just for You,’ hotel recommendations based on search history and feedback"

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Hotelogix to launch freemium cloud PMS at WTM 2014

October 29, 2014

The Freemium Plan is designed for small- and mid-sized hotels to maximize business potential, by removing barriers to adopt a cloud-based PMS solution, improving operations and expanding market reach. WTM event visitors can find out more details at Hotelogix’s Stand #TT452.

With Hotelogix’s Freemium PMS, a hotel will be able to run their complete operations on the cloud including areas like Front Desk, Housekeeping and Restaurant/POS for as long as they want, with no obligations. And the Freemium is supplemented with 24/7 customer support, to take care of the customer’s needs and queries.

Aditya Sanghi, CEO and Co-Founder, at Hotelogix states: “This launch is aligned with our company’s vision of empowering small- and mid-sized hoteliers across the globe to be at the forefront of cloud technology, which is increasingly becoming vital for businesses to remain competitive. As 70% of our new customers switch from legacy systems, we are proud to be pioneering a first-of-its-kind initiative, by any Cloud PMS provider. WTM is an ideal platform for us to unveil the Freemium plan as we look forward to introducing maximum hoteliers to the benefits of cloud PMS.”

Prabhash Bhatnagar, Co-Founder of Hotelogix explains why the company has been focusing on simplicity: “This industry has witnessed high attrition, especially at the Front Desk. A PMS, requiring high learning curve further adds to the challenge that hoteliers face. Thus, we wanted to make our product really simple.”

Bhatnagar further adds, “We continue to innovate and research on simplifying user-experience to help hoteliers get started within minutes. With the Freemium, you can expect a lot more self-learning tools to be rolled out.”

Related Link: Hotelogix

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TripAdvisor introduces ‘Just for You,’ hotel recommendations based on search history and feedback

October 28, 2014

With ‘Just for You’, TripAdvisor promises to serve up tailored hotel recommendations based on your preferences and search history on the site.

For example, when you search for hotels for a specific location, you’ll see a range of tags to set your general preferences, including location, style, hotel class, price range, amenities and more.

TripAdvisor collects this feedback, along with your prior research and even contributions to the site (such as reviews), to deliver better recommendations under a special ‘Just for You’ section.

“With the new feature, we can not only match a traveler with their preferred type of hotel, but we can suggest the trendy, boutique hotel located downtown with a swimming pool because we know those are the specific hotel characteristics you like,” explains Adam Medros, a Senior VP at TripAdvisor.

Get the full story at The Next Web

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Travel Weekly’s Travel Industry Survey 2014

October 28, 2014

Some highlights of the survey:

- The proportion of home-based agents continues to grow, from 47% in last year’s survey to 52% this year.

- International bookings have continually increased in pro- portion to domestic bookings and now dominate, with 59% of gross sales.

- The percentage of revenue from air remains on the same downward glide; however, it is still the largest contributor to total revenue for the largest traditional agencies by a wide margin.

- The ratio of leisure to business as a source of revenue has gradually moved from around 3-to-1 to 4-to-1 in favor of leisure.

- On average, service fees account for 20% of gross revenue for all agents, but they average 26% for traditional agencies vs. 13% for home-based agents.

View or download the survey at Travel Weekly

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STR: U.S. RevPAR rose 9.2% in 3rd quarter

October 28, 2014

U.S. hotel-room demand accelerated during the third quarter as cities such as New Orleans, Nashville and Atlanta recorded the highest growth rates, according to STR.

Revenue per available room (RevPAR) advanced 9.2%, the highest year-over-year growth rate in more than eight years, as room rates rose 5.2% to almost $118, while occupancy advanced 3.8% to more than 70%.

New Orleans RevPAR jumped 18%, while Nashville and Atlanta’s RevPAR each rose 17%. No major U.S. market had a decline in RevPAR. Through June, U.S. RevPAR had been up 7.5%.

Get the full story at Hotel Management

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Expedia reduces friction for mobile engagement with sponsored data

October 28, 2014

AT&T customers will be receiving free access to and its inventory of flights and hotels, as well as a trailer for BBA Studios’ upcoming film Frank vs. God, both of which are fully sponsored so that users may view or interact with the content without affecting their data plans.

“We see sponsored content as removing obstacles to acquiring and engaging our audience; this is something both large and small independent film studios are trying to do,” said Scott Schill, producer for BBA Studios, Los Angeles, CA. “We’re excited about the prospects for this new form of outreach and it’s likely that other studios will be interested, too.”

Sponsored data will also appeal to consumers worldwide, especially those who travel frequently. No data charges or roaming fees will apply to the content, so users can feel secure in interacting with the media.

“Customers can plan and purchase travel from without adding charges to their data plans,” Expedia’s Ms. Vaillancourt said. “The more opportunity we have to engage our customers, the better.”

Get the full story at Mobile Marketer

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Starbucks is taking over business travelers’ expense accounts

October 28, 2014

When traveling for business, we often tend to be on the lookout for a table, chair, Wi-Fi connection, and coffee. And apparently, we're finding solace in Starbucks stores around the world.

Apparently, it's not just a quick cup of coffee either. Travelers spent an average of $10.83 at Starbucks during the quarter.

Not surprisngly, Starbucks held an even larger percentage of expenses around breakfast time, but McDonald's took over for lunch and dinner.

Get the full story at

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Marketers’ use of mobile technologies does not match customer behaviors, says Forrester

October 28, 2014

Only a small majority of marketers - 59 percent - know their customers’ usage and attitudes toward mobile phones, according to the report, “The State Of Mobile Technology For Marketers, 2014.” The failure to close the gap between how customers are using mobile and how marketers are using it will have real ramifications for marketers within two to three years by increasing opportunity costs, make brands irrelevant, leaving companies unprepared to evolve their business model, forcing them to stick with outmoded computing form factors and eating up budget.

“Mobile is the catalyst for broader technology and marketing changes,” said Thomas Husson, Paris-based vice president and principal analyst of the marketing and strategy client group at Forrester as well as author of the report.

“Marketers who are not ready to move away from a traditional marketing approach to develop new experiences for the most complex platform today will be lost in a world where computing will be disconnected from screens and where connected objects and wearables create new opportunities.”

Get the full story at the Mobile Marketer

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How to solve the hotel metasearch dilemma

October 28, 2014

Metasearch used to be a simple concept to grasp when it was defined simply as a marketing channel. Now it is getting more complicated. Increasingly, many major metasearch sites like TripAdvisor are promoting booking and payment functions, similar to an OTA, despite many differences.

Many hotel marketers may balk at the idea that a booking would be completed on a metasearch site. To solve this dilemma, we have to step back to understand what the business objective is?

If the ultimate objective is to get more bookings at a reasonable cost, then we should embrace this change.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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UK: 8th Luxury Hotel Benchmarking Report

October 28, 2014

“For the first time in the last two years, we have seen the leading hotel (4.9 Star Rating) deliver a below average dining experience, though they have come out on top because they manage guest expectations the most successfully across the Top 10 hotels included in this quarters report. Only 2% of guests stated that their experience fell below expectations, which is one of the lowest ratings in the last two years” commented Chris Larsen, BluSky Marketing Managing Director.

The report also highlights the challenges faced by hoteliers in delivering a consistent guest experience month in month out, with hotel star rating performances fluctuating from last quarter, with some properties dropping while other trend upwards.

Social media is still yet to take off in the hotel space, still contributing only 0.3% of hotel awareness. Is that because hoteliers are still yet to grasp this powerfully digital medium? Calling a property direct (57%) is still the most popular reservation method. What does that mean for properties with a “none responsive” website? Have they made it easy for potential guests to locate their hotels phone number at the top left hand side of their site? Is their phone number “click’n call” enabled for smartphone users?

The 8th Luxury Hotel Benchmarking Report continues to reinforce the importance of traditional hotelier values in delivering an exceptional hotel guest experience while also challenging some existing preconceptions in the industry (e.g. guest 55 years plus account for 39% of all reviews).

The free report to download compares the online Hotel Guest Experience Survey results of 10 luxury and boutique hotels from across the UK with a total of 2,802 respondents. To find out more about the bespoke Hotel Guest Experience Surveys priced from £75 per month please click here.

Download the complete report at BluSky Marketing (PDF 1.2 MB)

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How online marketing is changing travel

October 27, 2014

Personalized advertising has taken on a new meaning these days. Hotel companies, airlines, OTAs, tour operators—you name it—enlist the help of companies like Net Conversion and ActionX to learn as much as possible about potential customers as possible. Based on which keywords travelers use when searching, travel companies can tap into travelers’ mindsets (for example, a budget-oriented traveler will use words such as “cheap hotels” or “deals”). They’ll then retarget travelers using, for example, banner ads. Every page the traveler goes to, there’s that same ad or company flashing on the screen.

Different types of ads will cater to different types of travelers. Business travelers will generally see a more straightforward advertising approach, Vertolli said (quick-hit details like rate, destination, proximity, cost, what’s covered, etc.), while leisure travelers will generally see ads that “pull more emotional strings.”

Video marketing has really taken off, especially when it comes to leisure travel. Post a 30-second YouTube clip of travelers enjoying that luxurious hotel stay or a complimentary outdoor activity and watch the interest skyrocket

Get the full story at TravelPulse

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Google Barometer offers insight into consumer buying behaviour in travel

October 27, 2014

The free tool lets users download customised data and market-specific information.

These can help users discover anything from: how often people go online, to how many connected devices they may have, how people research and purchase online, the influence of online video on their shopping habits or the differences between generations and their online behaviour.

Vertical sectors currently profiled within the Barometer include: clothing and footwear, home appliances, flights, hotels, cosmetics and groceries. New vertical sectors will be added on an ongoing basis as Google extends the insights.

Get the full story at Google Consumer Barometer

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Sam’s Club to roll out mobile travel app

October 27, 2014

The app, in approval stage with app stores, continues the chain’s effort to attract small business customers and to provide members with mobile tools to enhance the shopping experience.

“We’re growing with our members through Sam’s Club Travel, easing the burden of affording business and leisure with amazing deals curated by Tourico, industry leaders in wholesale travel,” said Carrie Moore, Sam’s Club spokeswoman. “Today our member defines savings beyond just dollars. They need to save time, too. Time is a modern day currency.

”The Sam’s Club Travel app is a convenience tool for our members and a necessary evolution of our travel booking program that keeps us competitive in the travel industry and the membership club space,” she said.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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Expedia eyes triple digit growth in Malaysia again

October 27, 2014

Despite ups and downs in the travel industry, especially in the aftermath of the two Malaysian Airlines tragedies, Vikram believes Expedia's business operations will not be affected.

"Generally the industry has been quite resistance…airplane travel is a necessity especially in Southeast Asia, people is so used to it," he said, adding that hotel operators will start to lower down prices when demand for flights goes down, which could attract more travellers.

Meanwhile, commenting on its joint venture with AirAsia Bhd in Malaysia, he said it has been a good relationship between the two entities.

"AirAsia has been a great partner, we get benefit from that (the joint venture with AirAsia), AirAsia has a deep understanding on the Asian market," he stressed.

Get the full story at The Sun Daily

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Online reviews suited to you

October 27, 2014

To find your travel tribe you’ve got to know something about the people who use the sites (which is different from filtering a search for, say, a spacious hotel room or a swim-up bar). Who’s writing the reviews on Yelp? Do they differ from users of a hotel booking site such as Travelocity? Or maybe you would prefer a site that aggregates reviews from professional travel writers instead?

It’s not that one site is necessarily better than another; it’s that one is better for you. As experienced users know, some reviews are fake and, yes, the sites try to police that. What many travelers don’t realize, however, is that even if fake reviews are discovered and removed, they can still upend the ratings.

That’s because online reviewers are susceptible to all sorts of biases, including one that Sinan Aral, a professor of management and an associate professor of information technology and marketing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, has referred to as “social influence bias.” Seeing other people’s positive reviews in turn makes us more likely to write a positive review — or at least one that’s more positive than we might have otherwise intended. (Users can also be influenced by negative reviews, he noted, but the effect is mitigated because people are even more likely to “correct” any “undeserved negative score.”) So bear in mind that hotels and restaurants, like furniture and dinner dates, can look better online than in person — even when they are reviewed by fellow travelers.

Get the full story at The Seattle Times

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Price testing: How order of prices can increases revenue

October 27, 2014

A call-to-action cannot be viewed in a vacuum; it must be viewed in context of the entire conversation that is occurring in the customer’s mind. By placing the lowest ticket price next to the “Find Tickets” CTA, customers looking at the surrounding offers and prices were more apt to click and convert.

For single-game purchasers, they may be more motivated on price rather than having courtside tickets. By appealing to that need of finding the lowest ticket prices quickly, customers were more likely to convert.

Having a higher ticket price next to the CTA may have also induced anxiety and friction for the customer. Seeing the highest price next to the CTA subconsciously hindered the purchasing process, but seeing the lowest ticket prices near the CTA invited more interest.

Anxiety is lethal to conversion, and it can often be corrected with a simple, yet strategic, change to a product page element.

Using proximity, the team placed the lowest price next to the moment of concern — the next step in the purchase process.

The keys here are to take a step back, look at your pages from your customer’s point of view, and test all elements of a page. This testing may lead to increases in sales like it did for the Trail Blazers, but more importantly, you’re learning more about your customers.

Get the full story at MarketingSherpa

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Personalised offers could help ease the pain of travel disruptions

October 27, 2014

And so by the time you realize that all hope is lost and that you’re going to miss your first flight, your connection, your dinner meeting and probably your hotel reservation, your provider has already sent you a revised schedule. No need to make a call, no need to queue, you push “Accept” and you‘re back on track with at least some of the stress removed.

That is surely a personalised travel service that a great many will recognize the value of, probably even enough to pay a few bucks more. And that’s just one of the countless possibilities opened up by an intelligent and dynamic global travel ecosystem designed to deliver a richer, personalized experience.

The “intelligent” element will be key to making the travel ecosystem deliver for the traveller: a system understands requirements, preferences and habits enabling the dynamic delivery of the offer or service in the right way at the right time. A combination of loyalty, history and other miscellaneous data can be a powerful combination for a travel service trying to deliver the right merchandising opportunity.

Get the full story at the Amadeus blog

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Bridging the GAP between the Revenue Manager and CFO

October 27, 2014

There were times when the hotel accountant would lock his/herself in a back room and not come out until the budget was done! Those days are long gone and today’s budgets reflect the input of the entire executive team. A relative new comer to the budget process in the last decade has been the Revenue Manager (hereafter the RM), who adds a whole new dimension of depth to the analysis, enabling the exploration of possibilities and potential strategies that are within reach and that could measurably change hotel profitability.

First and foremost, many believe, as do I that “budget time” presents a golden opportunity for hoteliers to reflect and consider new hotel strategies. Never before in the history of hotels have so many sophisticated tools been at our disposal enabling us to project what the market is doing, what our competitors are doing, the effect different actions would have on our profitability as well on our reputations. Who better than the property strategist to provide the group with an in-depth look at analytics, channel attributes and productivity?

Unless your General Manager is springing for a vacation retreat, budget time is one of the few periods during the year that can be solely devoted to spending “quality” time between the Sales Director, General Manager, Revenue Manager and CFO (Controller). Like that old accountant described in chapter one; it is a good time to lock the door to the back room and become completely absorbed in revenues with colleagues with no outside distractions.

Get the full story at The Revenue Report Card blog

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OTAs dominate search for travel deals

October 24, 2014

We’re at the outset of Q4, which means that the holidays are fast approaching. Travel deals, accommodations and hospitality are always in high demand this time of year, as consumers lock down holiday travel plans and make reservations. Whether you’re a travel agency, an airline or a hotel, your company needs to be prepared to capture market share in this highly competitive season. It’s not enough to create content for content’s sake; in such an oversaturated market, marketers won’t be able to move the needle without understanding where the demand lies — and what they can do to take full advantage.

Today, agencies and conglomerates have proven highly effective at understanding consumer demand and developing content to cater to that demand. Online travel agencies (OTAs) dominate within each category, boasting an almost consistent share of the top three listings across the board. Hotels, airlines and individual providers, on the other hand, are taking a less strategic approach, fueled primarily by guesswork and basic content creation efforts.

But this guesswork isn’t enough anymore. With vast amounts of marketers creating content on a daily basis, and if brands want to rise above the noise and make an impact, they’ll have to go beyond traditional content creation and focus on performance. By understanding the ecosystem that surrounds content — particularly what consumers want and when they want it — marketers can conceive and deliver content that meets consumer need and delivers effective, relevant information. Trial-and-error strategy won’t cut it in today’s sophisticated content market; instead, if marketers focus on targeting demand and optimizing content accordingly, performance will naturally follow.

For our latest quarterly report, we’ve leveraged our BrightEdge Data Cube — a massive content repository built to analyze large data sets (including rich media, content, international, etc.) and their performance on the web — to perform this research. Utilizing the BrightEdge Data Cube Time Machine, holiday trends were also analyzed historically over time. Our findings focus on three specific travel categories, Travel & Accommodation; Travel only; and Accommodation only. These three segments of the travel industry encompass a huge variety of suppliers, vendors and agencies, which all experience different levels of content marketing success.

Click here to download the complete report (PDF 262 KB)

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Accor reveals guests’ social media behaviour

October 24, 2014

The survey discovered that 70% of travellers across Asia Pacific now use social media when they travel, with those from China (84%), Vietnam (83%) and Indonesia (82%) being the most active users. On average, travellers are spending 2.8 hours per day on social media platforms, with the Indonesians, Malaysians and Thais all spending around 4 hours daily.

Accor worked with ORC International to survey over 6500 travellers across 13 countries to uncover which sites and platforms are most important to its guests across Asia Pacific.

Accor’s vice president digital marketing & distribution Jens Uwe Parkitny has said, “Social media has become all-pervasive in the travel industry as we can see from the results of the latest Accor Hotels Social Media Monitor.”

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Expedia launches image library

October 24, 2014

Expedia announced the next evolution of its highly acclaimed Expedia Viewfinder Blog with the launch of the new Expedia Viewfinder Image Library – a free online resource containing more than 40,000 images for media outlets, journalists, bloggers and other content creators. Empowering the travel community with incredible access to free high-quality travel visuals and inspiration, users can browse the extensive selection of reproduction-quality images with embedded metadata to help tell their stories on a broad range of third-party sites and projects by visiting the Expedia Viewfinder Image Library.

"Expedia has a great dialogue with bloggers and the media world, and the common need we find is compelling photography to illustrate a story and to connect with the readers on a deeper level," said Sarah Gavin, Expedia's Senior Editor. "After launching the Expedia Viewfinder Travel Blog over a year ago, the travel community and consumers have been coming to us as a resource for travel tips, suggestions and more. It's only natural that we wanted to further extend support for our media and blogger partners with a new visually inspiring resource."

The Expedia Viewfinder Image Library is compatible with both desktop and mobile devices, and presents an intuitive interface that enables users to freely browse a well-organized array of powerful travel images that showcase 4,000 incredible places and breathtaking moments from around the world. Results can be easily narrowed by specific geographic location, experience, or a combination of the two, and explored using four different viewing options including small, large, slideshow or map mode. To help inspire everything from quick getaways to far-flung adventures, the Expedia Viewfinder Image Library also displays relevant travel suggestions for flight and hotel accommodation options based on a current image search.

Many images in the Expedia Viewfinder Image Library are digitally tagged with data-rich insights, such as a short description and link to additional information about its location, and can be displayed on third-party websites. Additionally, the entire collection can be instantly shared via email and social plug-ins, either as galleries or as single images.

In the past year, the Expedia Viewfinder blog has grown to more than a dozen dedicated travel bloggers who represent a wide spectrum of the everyday traveler and craft content that speaks directly to Expedia customers. The bloggers help fuel the passion and personality behind the blog and keep the brand current in the resources it provides.

Related Link: Expedia Viewfinder Image Library

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Splendia launches crowdsourced travel guides

October 24, 2014

For its 10th anniversary, luxury hotel booking site Splendia took to Instagram to both create unique crowdsourced city guides as well as boost its awareness level. Working with Paris-based agency Kindai, the travel site launched Instagramers City Guides, a visual guide for locations such as Rome, New York, Istanbul, Barcelona, Lisbon and Paris.

Splendia reached out to influential Instagramers with a passion for travel and photography such as Vutheara in France, Misshattan in the U.S. and Saaggo in Mexico. Over the course of the year, the brand collected images from the global travelers as they traversed iconic cities across the globe and recently launched the first edition of the Instagramers City Guide.

Though the site displays the “like” and “favorite” counts of the various photos that have been brought together, it isn’t actually connected to Instagram, nor are visitors able to interact with the photos directly.

Get the full story at Marketing Land

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Online travel reviews raise question of ethics

October 24, 2014

The review was written for TripAdvisor by Howard Olarsch, a Florida retiree who loves to travel. Olarsch, in a phone interview, said he’d complained to the hotel while he was there about mold in his room, ants and other issues, but “they couldn’t have cared less.” Olarsch went to TripAdvisor “to vent. … My intent was to make other people aware what a dump that was.”

After the review was posted, the hotel contacted him. “For a tidy sum of money, I was bought off and had to remove the review,” Olarsch said.

Olarsch wrote to The Ethicist, a New York Times Sunday Magazine column, “to justify what I had done, to see who was the most unethical” — him or the hotel, he said.

Get the full story at the Las Vegas Review Journal

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The shifting landscape of mobile

October 24, 2014

On search, mobile device (smartphone and tablet) share has increased significantly in the past year, with smartphones capturing the lion’s share of the growth. Year-over-year (YoY), desktops have lost 8.5% click share, with smartphones snapping up 6.1%.

However, while eyeballs and clicks may have been migrating more to mobile, consumer wallets have been slower to follow. Advertisers devote over 42% of all spend on mobile devices, but mobile conversions only make up about 30% of search conversions.

Advertisers are struggling to either convert a mobile search click to a mobile conversion, or they’re potentially under-attributing the value of assistive mobile conversions (or perhaps both). Additionally, the value of the assistive conversion becomes more significant because consumers are still not as comfortable converting on mobile as they are on desktops.

Get the full story at Marketing Land

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Email newsletters: The content marketing strategy your hotel needs

October 24, 2014

For years email marketing, has been a go-to means of reaching consumers for a number of industries, including hospitality and travel. As hoteliers plan for 2015, there is quantitative proof that not only is email marketing alive and well, but that sending hotel newsletters is a tried-and-true marketing tactic that should be an aspect of your property's strategy.

Consider these statistics:

- The number of worldwide email accounts is projected to jump from over 3.9 billion accounts in 2013 to over 4.9 billion by the end of 2017 -- that's more than the total number of Facebook and Twitter users combined.

- According to ExactTarget's Channel Preference Survey, more than 91% of consumers check their email at least daily.

- The same survey noted that 66% of consumers have made a purchase as a result of an email they have received.

- Email is almost 40 times better at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter.

- 8 out of 10 smartphone users send and receive emails from their devices.

Providing timely, scannable content to past, repeat and potential guests goes beyond keeping your website up to date. Email marketing, particularly the distribution of monthly newsletters aimed at sharing your property's newest promotions, the latest goings-on in the local area and information about hotel special events, is an effective way to keep guests informed and interested.

"The key to being not just effective, but successful, is to share easily-digestible, timely content on a consistent basis packaged in a fresh, mobile-friendly design that contains clear, streamlined calls to action," says DJ Vallauri, Founder and President of Lodging Interactive. "Achieving this, the professional look and message needed for a successful newsletter, requires expertise and time. Many hotels are tapped for both, which is why outsourcing your newsletter copywriting and design is an ideal solution."

Lodging Interactive's Email Newsletter Marketing offers properties a fully managed email marketing service. Experts design and write the email newsletters that hotels approve and then distribute them to the property's mailing lists, which are also built and managed under the service. Newsletter marketing with Lodging Interactive also includes access to an analytics dashboard so that hoteliers can see the effectiveness of their campaigns 24/7.

Lodging Interactive's eNewsletter Service Features:

- Email sign up widget placed on hotel's website to build mailing list.
- Email list management of unsubscribes and de-duping.
- Uploading & cleansing of hotel's existing email list.
- Creative design & development of the eNewsletter.
- All copy writing & editing services.
- Hotel's approval of all eNewsletter drafts prior to sending.
- Distribution of the eNewsletter to email lists.
- 24/7/365 web based email performance reporting portal.

"Our complete eNewsletter service provides hoteliers with a solution to a problem many properties face -- keeping up with their digital marketing initiatives and producing fresh, focused and planned content that past, present and prospective guests want to receive and read," says Vallauri. "Lodging Interactive's eNewsletter service take the burden off of the hotels by designing, curating and managing every step of your email marketing and providing comprehensive analytics so you know your audience is being reached."

Related Link: Lodging Interactive

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Better media targeting that drives online bookings

October 24, 2014

On Wednesday, October 29th, GCommerce and nSight will present an informative webinar on the benefits of nSight’s online travel intelligence solution and what it means for your business.

Tune in to learn how nSight can deliver:

- Better media targeting and higher ROI for digital marketing campaigns
- More traffic and bookings through your website and OTAs
- Higher converting web content and segment specific promos
- Smarter rate decisions that drive higher conversions

Wednesday, October 29th / 12:00pm to 12:30pm MST

Click here to register.

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Pegasus Solutions spins off reservations business to Regent Equity Partners

October 23, 2014

Skift learned of an imminent acquisition involving Dallas-based Pegasus in late September, and the company today provided Skift with a statement about the transaction, although some of the details are still sketchy. Pegasus’ employees and clients received messages about the deal over the last few hours or days.

In the transaction, Regent Equity Partners essentially gets Pegasus’ CRS business and related offerings, while the Pegasus Solutions brand will continue to provide distribution-related services connecting hotel CRSs to global distribution systems such as Sabre, Amadeus and Travelport, channel managers and other distribution companies.

While Pegasus Solutions’ CRS business has been in a state of decline in terms of market share, the distribution side of the business, which it retains, is said to be holding its own. The CRS business is said to have generated roughly $100 million in revenue in 2013.

Get the full story at Skift

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TripAdvisor adds Best Western brands to ‘Instant Booking’ feature

October 23, 2014

TripAdvisor users have booking access to rooms at more than 4,000 Best Western hotels in more than 100 countries, Best Western said in a statement Tuesday. The feature is available on both TripAdvisor's desktop and mobile sites.

TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel review site, is looking to diversify its revenue sources by increasing the number of travel bookings through its website. The company, which was spun off by online travel agency Expedia in late 2011, went live with its Instant Booking feature in June with inventory from Choice Hotels International, hotel-booking site and TripAdvisor's discount hotel-booking online travel agency, Tingo.

The following month, TripAdvisor added hotel inventory from GDS operator Travelport to the Instant Booking feature, giving users booking access to Travelport's listings for 580,000 hotels worldwide, including 480,000 nonbranded properties.

Source: Travel Weekly

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Expedia’s Wotif acquisition delayed again

October 23, 2014

Expedia's planned $703 million purchase of Holdings has been delayed again after the New Zealand Commerce Commission issued a letter of "unresolved issues" relating to the acquisition of the online accommodation provider.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission approved the deal earlier this month and Wotif shareholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of the acquisition via scheme of arrangement. However, the NZ regulator has postponed its final decision on the deal several times.

In an update to the market, Wotif said the NZCC letter focused on its continuing investigation of the competitive constraints between online travel agencies (OTAs), including from domestic and international OTAs, bricks and mortar travel agents, metasearch sites and other evolving online business models and from other distribution channels, including direct hotel bookings.

Get the full story at the Bisbane Times

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The future of travel: Total connectivity

October 23, 2014

Here are some highlights of the study:

- By the end of next year, most airlines will offer mobile check-in, most will sell tickets through mobile apps, almost all airports will provide kiosks for automated check-in, and most will also provide automated self-service baggage tag printing. The take-away here: We'll make sure that you do more of the work we used to do.

-- In five years, you'll have an automated individual "e-agent" that goes everywhere with you, inside a watch or piece of small jewelry, and a few years later, biometric data cards will replace passports. The latter would be a great idea -- provided the data card can actually help you get through customs and immigration procedures more quickly, not just provide security information. I'm not holding my breath until that happens.

-- The 10-year forecast sticks with its connected theme, suggesting that travelers will be able to walk straight through a hotel lobby to an elevator and a room without having to go through any check-in process. Beyond that, however, the forecast goes a bit off track. The writer predicts airline seats that remember you from previous trips, mold to your body, and have individual climate control. Oh? And how, exactly, does that square with the "tighter, lighter, narrower" mantra?

Get the full story at the Chicago Tribune

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Now you can update your business listings on Apple Maps with Maps Connect

October 23, 2014

Apple will take you through a phone verification process, much like Google Maps and other mapping services would do. After the update or addition is submitted and verified via the phone, Apple says it would take about week to show up.

The feature is only available for US business, but Apple hopes to expand it globally soon.

There is also another feature named “Indoor” that enables highly trafficked businesses to use iBeacons to enable users to map the inside of their stores and venues. It is currently a beta feature that Apple is testing.

Get the full story at Marketing Land and Apple Maps Connect

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Eye Tracking: How users view and interact with today’s Google SERPs

October 23, 2014

One of the biggest changes from SERPS 9 years ago to today is that Google is now trying to keep people on the result page for as long as they can.

An example is in the case of the knowledge graph. In Mediative's study. when searchers were looking for "weather in New Orleans", the results page that was presented to them showed exactly what they needed to know. Participants were asked to click on the result that they felt best met their needs, even if, if reality, they wouldn't have clicked through (in order to end that task). When a knowledge graph result exactly met the intent of the searcher, the study found 80% of people looked at that result, and 44% clicked on it. Google provided searchers with a relevant enough answer to keep them on the SERP. The top organic listing captured 36.5% of pages clicks—compared to 82% when the knowledge graph did not provide the searcher with the answer they were looking for.

It's a similar case with the carousel results; when a searcher clicks on a listing, instead of going through to the listing's website, another SERP is presented specifically about the business, as Google tries to increase paid ad impressions/clicks on the Google search results page.

Get the full story at Moz

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Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas achieves 15% RevPAR growth with IDeaS pricing system

October 23, 2014

IDeaS Revenue Solutions, the leading provider of pricing and revenue management software, services and consulting, announced that Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas (Anantara) has achieved an average year on year Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) increase of 14.86 percent following the adoption of the IDeaS Pricing System in 17 of its hotels across Asia.

Anantara chose to implement IDeaS Pricing System to more effectively collect and analyse data from its hotels. The solution has helped increase efficiency and accuracy around pricing decisions throughout the entire estate. As a result of this implementation, the hotel group has seen significant growth in their average daily room revenue of 17.31 percent.

According to STR Global, The Asia Pacific hotel industry opened 351 new hotels with 50,913 rooms in the first two quarters of 2014 alone, all of which has increased pressure on local tour operators, hotels and resorts to ensure they have the right systems and offerings in place for their market.

"In today's competitive regional hospitality landscape, a hotel group that doesn't have accurate forecasts of guest demand is operating blind. The ability to be able to set optimal hotel room pricing and plan staffing levels centres on the ability to be able to predict future occupancy levels," said Bryan Bailey, Group Director of Revenue & Distribution, Minor Hotel Group (parent company to Anantara.)

"IDeaS Pricing System has strengthened Anantara's approach to pricing, ensuring its properties are setting accurate daily room rates and getting to market quickly. Our solution ultimately helps attract the right guest at the right price," said Gladys Ang, Regional Director of Sales – South East Asia for IDeaS. "In addition to a significant increase in RevPAR and average daily room revenue, IDeaS Pricing System has also helped Anantara properties increase their average daily room rate 15.74 percent, which is a really pleasing result."

Following the implementation of IDeaS Pricing System, Anantara has also experienced efficiency benefits across its properties. This has been achieved through automating revenue management practices and minimising manual data entry tasks.

"Employing IDeaS Pricing System has enabled us to streamline the revenue management process, allowing our Revenue Managers to spend more time analysing data rather than manually manipulating spreadsheets," said Mr Bailey.

IDeaS Pricing System has also provided the hotel group with an improved suite of management reports which are useful for many areas across the business including sales, marketing and operations. These reports, along with a more inclusive approach to revenue management, help build understanding and support for pricing decisions across the hotel group and support a sustainable revenue management culture within Anantara.

Following the success of the initial deployment of the IDeaS Pricing System into 17 of its properties across Asia, Anantara has now expanded its revenue management program with IDeaS and is utilizing IDeaS Pricing System in 23 properties across the region. In addition, IDeaS is in place at Atrium Bangkok, a property managed by Minor Hotel Group, which is to be rebranded to the group's AVANI brand next month.

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas is a luxury hotel brand, currently with 31 properties in operation in eight countries across Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East and Africa. Anantara offers heartfelt hospitality and indigenous destination experiences to story-collecting travellers and its portfolio of luxury properties ranges from intimate facilities with less than 50 guest rooms to larger scale hotels and resorts with more than 400 guest rooms.

Related Link: IDeaS

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The world’s best hotels and resorts according to Conde Nast Traveler’s readers

October 23, 2014


- Top U.S. City: Charleston, S.C., is the #1 city in the U.S. for the fourth year in a row!
- Top Hotel in the U.S.: XV Beacon, Boston
- Top Resort in the U.S.: Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch, Saratoga, Wyoming
- Top Island in the World: Palawan Island, The Philippines
- Top Hotel in Europe: Il Salviatino, Florence
- Top Hotel in Asia: Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong
- Top Hotel in South America: Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena, Colombia
- Top Safari Camp: Londolozi, Sabi Sand, South Africa
- Top Airline in the World: Singapore Airlines
- Top Large Cruise Line: Disney
- Top Midsize Cruise Line: Crystal Cruises
- Top Small Cruise Line: Windstar Cruises
- Top River Cruise Line: Grand Circle Cruise Line
- Top Beach Resort in Mexico: Viceroy Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen
- Top Beach Resort in the Caribbean: Jade Mountain, St. Lucia

New Categories

- Hall of Famers, iconic properties that more than withstand the test of time

- The Newcomers and the Comebacks, new and recently refreshed properties that are destined to become future classics

New Travel Trends

- What a man wants: A weekend getaway to Telluride or Las Vegas
- What a woman wants: The beach in The Hamptons or Cape May
- Top destination for 20-somethings: New England
- The 30- to 50-year-old set heads to: the Rocky Mountains
- 50-plus-year-old travelers are fascinated by: Alaska
- The most popular honeymoon destination: The Caribbean, followed by Hawaii

The Readers' Choice Awards are announced in the November issue of Conde Nast Traveler, on newsstands nationwide on October 28, 2014.

View the full list at Conde Nast Traveler

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Yelp adds hotel reservations

October 22, 2014

Yelp says that its booking capabilities encompass 28,000 business locations and that 50 percent of bookings happen in its mobile app:

"Approximately 28,000 businesses in all major US markets are available for booking on Yelp Platform today and we’ll continue to roll out more in the coming months. With approximately 250,000 transactions happening through Yelp Platform in Q3 2014 (and more than 50% of those on mobile), it’s clear Yelpers love the convenience of booking and purchase options within Yelp."

So far Yelp doesn’t charge businesses anything directly for access to the transactional capabilities, although the third party services do and Yelp gets a revenue share. However it’s only a matter of time before Yelp integrates payments (Apple Pay) capabilities to become a full-fledged e-commerce platform for travel and local services.

Get the full story at Marketing Land

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Hotels lead in open booking

October 22, 2014

According to research conducted by Carlson Wagonlit Travel, 40% of hotel bookings in North America are made outside the preferred booking channels for managed business travelers. An example of this is when a managed business traveler books directly with a hotel to obtain a discounted rate offered by a conference.

Previously, these bookings weren’t incorporated into the travel management programs so it was difficult for the travel management companies to track travelers and offer customer service. However, technology has advanced so these bookings can be incorporated into the travel management companies. While it is unlikely that the number of off-channel bookings (those bookings made outside the preferred channels) will grow, more companies are showing interest in tracking these bookings better and others are going to fully embrace open booking as a travel policy.

The evolution of open booking will bring greater transparency to the hotel market when it comes to business travelers.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Priceline’s interest in Ctrip not waning, ups its investment once again

October 22, 2014

Priceline made a US$500 million investment into Ctrip this summer, and then upped its investment by another US$135 million or so in September by buying Ctrip’s publicly-listed stock. That left it having invested a total of about US$635 million for a 5.84 percent share of Ctrip as of the end of September.

But October’s filing shows that Priceline has continued to buy shares in Ctrip. Over the month so far, Priceline has picked up about 3 million more of Ctrip’s American Depository Shares, thereby investing another US$76 million in the company and upping its share to 7.9 percent, according to our calculations.

Apparently, Priceline’s interest in the company is not waning. Its original agreement with Ctrip enables the company to buy up to ten percent of the company, and it appears as though Priceline is planning to do just that.

Get the full story at Tech In Asia

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Video: How smart design is shaping the future of travel

October 22, 2014

Drawing from real-world examples, as well as the Jetsons and Wall-E, Nurko laid out where brands are meeting the evolving needs of travelers and where they fall short. “They forget that the brand is as important internally as it is externally,” he told Skift earlier this year. “And it isn’t about words and pictures, but rather it is about ideas, experiences, affinity and actions.”

Over the next three weeks, we will publish in full the presentations and interviews from the Forum. To follow along as they are added, bookmark this page.

View his talk in full at Skift

Read also "The future of smart travel"

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Marketing trends from HubSpot’s “State of Inbound 2014”

October 22, 2014

According to the State of Inbound, although proving ROI is the top challenge, it’s ranked as a relatively low priority. That unexpected disconnect needs to be reconciled. If leadership is expecting ROI, marketers need to deliver on that.

While ROI tops marketing challenges, the number one marketing priority (according to the below chart) is lead generation (24%) followed by lead conversion (21%). A modest 15% of marketers, across all company size categories, ranked ROI as their top priority.

Collaboration can eliminate many challenges. Unfiltered, objective data facilitates alignment by providing marketing leaders and practitioners with a common pool of information upon which to base decision-making and prioritization.

Get the full story at Growth Learner Marketing

Download HubSpot's "State of Inbound 2014" at HubSpot (free registration)

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The content is out, but where’s the ROI?

October 22, 2014

There’s no doubt that business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers are using content marketing. In an August 2014 study by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and MarketingProfs, 77% of B2C marketers in North America reported doing so. And responses indicated that marketers were getting more effective at the tactic: 37% said their organizations were effective at content marketing, up from 34% last year and 32% three years ago.

What metrics are most common for evaluating content marketing success? Website traffic remained the most popular metric for assessing content efforts, cited by 62% of B2C marketers. Fully 54% of respondents looked at sales, and conversion rates arrived on the scene. Actual time spent on the website and qualitative feedback from clients fell in importance.

Still, B2C marketers surveyed were struggling to measure content marketing efforts. Just 23% said they were successful at determining return on investment (ROI). In comparison, 32% of respondents were unsuccessful, and more than one-fifth weren’t even trying to track ROI. Similarly, measuring content effectiveness was the top content marketing challenge, cited by 51% of respondents.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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What will 2015 bring for hotel digital marketers?

October 22, 2014

It’s that time of year again – the period in which we reflect back on 2014 and prepare for what 2015 will bring, and what it’ll mean for hotel marketers.

In 2014, we saw our digital marketing world continue to evolve into a place that emphasized visual storytelling (think of the visual redesign of many websites including Yahoo Travel, Trivago,, Intercontinental Hotel Group, and perhaps your own property website), a growing dependence on mobile capabilities, community marketplaces thanks to the likes of Airbnb, along with other expected changes and some surprises…

As we look to 2015, we’ve got our eye on a number of key trends that will motivate hoteliers to tell a better hotel story on whatever channel travelers are using. Today’s consumer shops easily across many channels, looking for the right experience at the right price. The savvy hotel marketer recognizes this behavior, and, as a result, ensures that their story is aligned with destination and review sites, social networks, OTAs, and, of course, their brand and property websites, to provide confidence in their hotel purchase decision.

Get the full story at Leonardo

Join Leonardo's webinar "Big, Bold, Visual: What You Need to Know About Hotel Marketing in 2015" on October 23rd at 11 AM ET (8 AM PT). Register here.

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Wotif Group completes 2-way XML integration with eRevMax

October 22, 2014

Australian-based 'Wotif Group' ( Holdings Limited), which operates a portfolio of leading travel brands in the Asia Pacific region including, has completed integration with eRevMax to offer XML connectivity to its growing base of hotel customers.

As a result, accommodation providers which list their inventory on Wotif Group sites will now be able to make real-time ARI (Availability, Rates & Inventory) updates and receive bookings generated via Wotif Group channels through eRevMax solutions directly into their property management systems. This will result in more efficient rate distribution, enhanced rate optimisation and the streamlining of all connections.

Greg Berman, Chief Operating Officer of eRevMax said, "ANZ is a matured market for online travel, but remains a potential growth region for us. This integration with Wotif Group will certainly improve our portfolio and bolster our offering of a diverse range of distributors through the eRevMax Channel Ecosystem."

Hotels using the RateTiger channel management product suite and eRevMax enterprise solution can update rates across a range of room types and numerous channels in one step, and the updated rates will be immediately available to customers on Wotif Group sites.

Wotif Group offers over 29,000 directly-contracted accommodation options across the world. The integration with eRevMax will give Wotif Group customers access to a broader product range and greater availability both locally in APAC, and globally. The App has over 9 million downloads (installs and updates), and mobile now provides 44% of overall traffic to Wotif Group sites.

Matt Harris, Executive General Manager EMEA & Americas for Wotif Group said, "The enhanced partnership with eRevMax will provide properties with an easier way to use the interface to manage rates and allotments distributed through the Group's online channels. eRevMax's robust distribution platform allows our hotel partners to better-manage multiple channels online, and our seamless integration with them will significantly reduce the time and tools our clients need to manage their rates and inventories."

"eRevMax's established strength in Europe and rapid growth in the APAC market matches our own strategy to further enhance inventory strength for our customers travelling internationally from Australia/New Zealand," concluded Mr. Harris.

The new functionality is now available to all existing eRevMax hotel customers looking to leverage distribution through Wotif Group's sites.

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

Related Link: eRevMax

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Leading Hotels of the World on dealing with the mystery of ecommerce attribution

October 21, 2014

The online path to purchase is a holistic journey, and ecommerce marketers should do their best to give credit to all the steps involved, rather than foisting all credit on one or two obvious steps. However maddening this effort may seem at times, it safeguards a brand from shortchanging key areas such as social media.

“To be honest there’s really no one size fits all answer,” said Debbie Johnsen, director of interactive marketing at The Leading Hotels of the World, New York. “It really depends on what kind of vertical you’re in.

“The length of the customer journey and level of complication will usually lead to additional steps,” she said. “Take a look at the different models and see what best works for you and the insights you can glean from it.”

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Online bookings in Japan to grow, still lagging behind mature markets

October 21, 2014

Travel retail is expected to post a 1% CAGR in terms of value sales at constant 2013 prices to reach ¥8.1 trillion (£47 billion) in 2018. Travel retail online sales are expected to grow by an 18% CAGR to take share from travel retail offline sales.

An 18% growth for online compared with 1% for the overall market over the next five years is impressive. In terms of share, however, it is lagging – online sales in Japan in 2013 were worth ¥1.5 trillion (£8.7 billion), equivalent to around 19% of the total market worth ¥7.7 trillion (£44.7 billion). By 2018, online travel sales will be ¥3.4 trillion (£19.7 billion), giving it a 42% share of the market.

But this share still sees Japan’s online travel sector lagging behind other mature e-commerce markets, suggesting that the growth story still has more legs in what is the world’s third largest economy.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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Asian travelers increasingly plugged-in

October 21, 2014

Travellers from Australia, New Zealand and Japan are the least active, but even from those countries two in five are unable to peel themselves away from their devices while travelling.

On average, travellers are spending 2.8 hours per day on social media platforms, with the Indonesians, Malaysians and Thais all spending around four hours daily.

Facebook remains the most popular platform for travellers, followed by WhatsApp. Since last year’s survey however, Asian-made social media platforms appear to be gaining traction, with WeChat up 13% and Line up 11%.

Get the full story at Travel Daily Asia

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Travelport has no plans to sunset Apollo GDS

October 21, 2014

Apollo is also one of two GDS platforms used by Travelport agents in North America. The other is Worldspan, which it acquired in 2007. Some Japanese agents also use Apollo. And Travelport operates a third GDS platform, Galileo, in Europe and some other parts of the world.

With United’s migration to the HP Shares system, Travelport would seem to have little incentive to maintain all three platforms.

But Gordon Wilson, Travelport CEO, has steadfastly maintained that the company would never force travel agents to convert to a different system.

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

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An educated guess at the revenue model driving the ‘TripAdvisor’s Click-to-Uber Deal’

October 21, 2014

According to the article, the partnership will only have a slight impact on revenue going forward, representing less than 1% of total revenue for each company. But for TripAdvisor, this revenue will be much easier than revenue that has required thousands of sales calls to local businesses. For Uber, it’s just another way to quickly add users to build its empire and undercut its competitors.

Improving the user-experience for TripAdvisor customers while simultaneously becoming a larger part of how they decide to patronize a business, i.e. helping “close the circle” on their transaction with that business is one of them. TripAdvisor can take these metrics (how often people took an Uber to a business page featured on TripAdvisor) and show businesses that TripAdvisor quite literally drives customers to their businesses. Being able to show this should help the sales-team close more deals — the more traffic a business gets on TripAdvisor, the more customers they get delivered to their door. The Click-to-Uber improve TripAdvisor’s product by providing its users the benefit of being able to do more from the TripAdvisor app or mobile site itself. This improvement in the user-experience, like all improvements in user-experience, should help TripAdvisor acquire and retain users.

Get the full story at Medium

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Follow-ups create meaningful customer engagement

October 21, 2014

In a sales context, the importance of follow up is magnified. And the follow up should be on-going because we want the relationship to last. So let’s look first of all at the benefits and why we need to stay in touch, and then we’ll look at some ways that we can do it that will not only maintain the relationship but will also add value. So, what can be gained?

- They say that in order to maintain a relationship, opportunities for meaningful contact should occur at least every 90 days. So we are going to have to get creative with how we can achieve this, because we do not want to follow up in ways that make us appear self interested or look like a stalker.

- We want to create a relationship that is based on trust. In his book “The Speed of Trust” by Stephen M R Covey (the son of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” author) he says, “I submit that while high trust won’t necessarily rescue a poor strategy, low trust will almost always derail a good one”. By implementing good follow up and tactics for staying in touch we can both establish and build on the trust we need to succeed.

- Part of staying in touch is to maintain our “front of mind” position. We want to be the person or the business that first comes to mind when our clients are thinking of things like organising a corporate rate or a conference...even a night out to celebrate a milestone birthday. In order to do this, we have to make sure that another business does not take that position away from us.

Now that we have established some of the reasons it is important to stay in touch, how can we do this in such a way that our clients welcome the contact?

Get the full story at eHotelier

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Millennial travelers more diverse than you think

October 21, 2014

According to a PATA report, The Rise of the Young Asian Traveler, more than 70 per cent of young Asians book their travel online. This is rising fast according to Tourism Australia.

The expected stereotype also holds up around the role of social media in travel. According to the PATA report, social media posts by young people's friends were in the top five most influential factors across the 13 countries in the survey. The influence of friends' social media was the greatest for Thais and Filipinos.

Young Asian travellers said that social media apps were the most useful while travelling - more than maps, language tools, deals, and dating sites.

But human beings are more complex than that. Here are 10 different drivers that could help us profile customers.

Get the full story at TTG Asia

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Hotels use reviews to personalize the guest experience

October 21, 2014

They seem so long ago, those days when hotels were wary of online travel reviews, largely feeling they would be open to unjust public criticism. Then, the industry shifted and began using this feedback to make the guest experience better by improving service and facilities based on guest comments. Shortly thereafter, hotels began publishing reviews on their own sites: trust in transparency. Now with the advent of ORM (online reputation management) integration with CRM (customer relationship management), the potential for hotels to truly embrace online travel reviews has come full circle, as online relationship management becomes synonymous with the highest level of guest service.

Hotel group Lindner - with 34 hotels across 7 European countries - is one of the first to integrate their ORM data with Serenata, their CRM provider. This integration takes guest service to a completely new place. By integrating TrustYou online survey data into Lindner's CRM and PMS (property management system), the hotel group is able to create detailed guest profiles and VIP reports. This means that upon check-in, hoteliers have a full report with details about what guests have said about Lindner Hotels in which they have stayed in the past. Guest service may then thank the guest for their feedback in person, as well as address any concerns that may have come up in the past.

"With this new integration, we're able to truly customize our guests' stays based on their feedback. Our ORM is speaking directly to our CRM, and this means that especially with VIPs, we can review their past comments prior to arrival, make changes to their guestroom experience or make notes about their preferences in service style. This allows us to deliver exactly what the guest is expecting—or, ideally, more," says Gunnar von Hagen, Corporate Director of Operations and Central Project Management for Lindner.

It would be easy to think of this integration as a digital data solution, but it is fundamentally a way for hotels to truly personalizing guest service. Hotel staff can quit assuming a one-size-fits-all service solution and begin, instead, providing customized service based entirely on the guest's expressed desires.

"Most guests don't expect perfection, but they do expect to be heard. This new technology allows guests to not only feel heard via survey, but then to have their feedback validated in person and reflected in their stay. It provides a much more fluid guest experience," says Benjamin Jost, CEO and co-founder at TrustYou.

Related Link: TrustYou

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Travel taking over the app store

October 20, 2014

As the industry becomes increasingly crowded, travel aggregators — which make up five of the Top 10 Travel and Transportation apps — are optimizing their online offerings for smaller screens and facilitating curated search, efficient payment processes and last-minute, location-based deals. These aggregation apps are also maintaining their edge by adding new app features to extend their services beyond reservation booking.

As an example, HotelTonight stands out as a trailblazer in the industry. The mobile-only company simplifies booking a last-minute hotel in just eight seconds, with three taps and a swipe. The clean UI appeals to today’s tech-savvy, self-sufficient traveler, and while similar self-service tools are available from select hotels and airlines, HotelTonight lets customers access these conveniences across thousands of brands. The company aims to create the most frictionless hotel experience by investing in features like mobile check-in and keyless entry.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

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Global online search for luxury hotels up 7.7pc

October 20, 2014

Search volume has become a statistically significant indicator of sold rooms, making it imperative for hotel brands to boost their visibility on various search engines. Indeed, search is repeatedly turned to throughout a consumer’s purchasing journey and can often be the decisive factor in nudging a reservation.

“Such a significant increase in interest for luxury hotels from China can be attributed to a few things,” said David Sadigh, founder and CEO of Digital Luxury Group, Geneva.

“Firstly, numerous western hotel brands are opening in second, third and fourth-tier cities, building brand awareness in parts of China where wealth is increasing and overall luxury hotel awareness may be low,” he said.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Momondo receives £80 million cash injection

October 20, 2014

In August the company, which was started as an attic-based operation in 1996, hired advisors at corporate finance boutique Arma Partners after receiving buyout offers from a clutch of private equity firms and rival travel businesses.

The equity injection by the US private equiy firm values Momondo at more than £132m and allows the existing management team to stay in place with Hugo Burge remaining as chief executive.

“After a robust process we are pleased to be working closely with an investor who understands our culture and shares our vision – in a partnership which we believe represents the best outcome for our diverse range of stakeholders and investors”, Mr Burge said.

Get the full story at The Telegraph

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Travel’s mobile revolution to drive expert agents

October 20, 2014

“I see agents as being like ‘centres of excellence’ says Robert Bailey, president & CEO of Abacus International. If you look at any of these knowledge-based businesses, the core [value] is the know-how,” Bailey said in an interview at the Abacus International Conference (AIC) in Abu Dhabi.

“[They are] adding value by understanding travellers’ requirements, understanding what is required in terms of the supply side, how to put it together, how to package it, and how to [turn it into] a compelling value proposition, and supporting their customers.

“So I would say that the logical evolution is that travel agents… [start to] act as a concierge. They can be a ‘virtual concierge’, they can be a concierge acting through a mobile-enabled delivery channel, or they can be a destination expert or a subject matter expert, like a niche diving site. And that will add value to the consumer side,” he continued.

Get the full story at Travel Daily

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Restaurant chains can enhance mobile ordering with gender-based targeting

October 20, 2014

Popular restaurant chains such as Subway, Domino’s, Chipotle and others are offering consumers the ability to place orders before they arrive at the premises. Recent research, such as food delivery ordering guide GrubHub’s September study, reflects how restaurant chains and other marketers could enhance mobile ordering with more targeted marketing tactics.

“At GrubHub, we’re always working to learn more about our diners and how they use our products,” said Meghan Gage, senior associate of public relations for GrubHub, New York, NY. “Looking at gender preferences and ordering habits presented us with a unique opportunity to delve deeper into the differing tastes of our male and female diners.”

A study published last year by Harvard Business School discussed research showing that loyal consumers would get upset when a brand typically associated with a male audience expanded to include products marketed towards women. This was especially true in cases where men personally identified with a certain brand.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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Google releases Penguin 3.0 update

October 20, 2014

Some noticed major changes in Google search results beginning late Friday night US time and speculated that this was due to the long-awaited Penguin Update that Google had said to expect this month.

Google verified to us today that this has happened. Google hasn’t yet given more details on the percentage of search results the latest version of Penguin has impacted or if there were any major changes made to it since the last release. We’ll update if we get these details.

This is the sixth release of Penguin. Google itself hasn’t given it a number, but we’re calling it Penguin 3.0 because it’s been so long since the last release of Penguin that it’s worth counting as a major release.

Get the full story at Search Engine Land

Read also "Google Penguin 3.0 damage report" at Branded3

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End to end mobile experience for new generation hotel guests

October 20, 2014

The companies behind the products, based in Munich and Berlin respectively, have teamed up to roll out the solution to future Ruby Hotels as well as several other properties.

Hotel guests at Ruby make their reservation online and check in on a tablet-based kiosk in the hotel lobby, both powered by hetras. Entering the room, the guest is greeted by SuitePad, a sleek tablet computer which serves as a hotel guide, virtual concierge, daily newspaper, surfing station, guest survey and of course includes a booking button to book the guest's next stay at any Ruby property. The booking function is powered by hetras. The multi-faceted SuitePad not only replaces the traditional hotel information folder but it evens streams music – Ruby's own internet radio station - when the guest enters the room for the first time. Every digital touch-point follows Ruby's distinct design guidelines, therefore providing a true seamless experience for the hotel guest.

hetras provides the hotel management system, booking technology and, via a powerful API, all the links which integrate the various technologies in use at Ruby. The integration between hetras and SuitePad includes personalization of the tablet, future bookings guest surveys and checkout. hetras Managing Director Ulrich Pillau goes one step further. "We didn't merely integrate multiple systems at Ruby. We supported Ruby from the beginning to design the right processes that fit with the right technologies so that Ruby could put their new generation hotel concept in place on time."

SuitePad delivers the in-room tablets along with custom apps. "The popularity of the tablets at Ruby continues to exceed our expectations. 91% of the guests use the tablets at least once per day." explained Moritz von Petersdorff-Campen, Managing Director of SuitePad. "New generation hotel guests, though they all carry their own devices, appear to appreciate the power and the convenience of SuitePad ."

The seamless digital guest journey from reservation to check-in and check-out appeals to the new generation hotel guest, judging from Ruby's outstanding ratings for guest service. Guests can, however, still opt for a classical check-in or concierge service, if they prefer. "We offer our guests both options and leave it to them to decide. Our guests, we believe, value this choice", explains Ruby founder Michael Struck. As both the tablet-based check-in as well as the digital in-room concierge help streamline the front-office processes and free-up resources, they indirectly even benefit the 'human' service: "In effect, we have more personal time and attention - not less – available for our guests", Struck observes.

Among the most popular features in SuitePad is the virtual concierge. This may be due to the highly functional and attractive design but equally as likely due to the wealth of offerings in Vienna. Ruby plans to implement both hetras and SuitePad in future properties.

Related Link: Hetras

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LaTour Hotels and Resorts selects RateTiger Channel manager to boost occupancy

October 20, 2014

LaTour Hotels and Resorts delivers highly personalized vacation experiences at four-star golf, ski, urban and oceanfront properties in the United States, Mexico and Venezuela. With RateTiger, these hotel properties can now sell rooms from an allocated inventory pool across multiple channels from a single platform thus automating online distribution efforts and saving time.

“We wanted to be more proactive and promote our rates and inventory on various channels to boost occupancy. eRevMax is recognized for its product quality and superior service - the implementation of RateTiger has resulted in faster and extensive rate and inventory management allowing us instant control over our distribution processes and online sales,” commented Lauren Doran, Director of Sales and Marketing at LaTour Hotels and Resorts.

"We are glad to have LaTour Hotels and Resorts as an esteemed client. The LaTour team is well positioned to leverage the various features and functionalities within RateTiger. They can diversify their product offerings by creating new products and packages to cater to the needs of a wider audience, which will have a positive impact on their bookings and revenue,” said Ricky Castoldi, VP Sales Americas at eRevMax.

RateTiger by eRevMax is a fully integrated channel management and connectivity solution that helps automate the connection between hotel inventory systems and distribution channels, regardless of the business model, connectivity type or geography.

Related Link: eRevMax

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Cornell publishes eye tracking study on what drives online hotel choice

October 17, 2014

Until now, the reports published about how people choose hotels online have mostly been based on surveys or on capturing clickstream data to map how users navigate from page to page. This new study, which is explained in a pair of reports by researchers Breffni M. Noone and Stephani K.A. Robson, demonstrates the eye tracking methods. The reports are available at no charge from the CHR.

"This work was a way of getting the 'lay of the land' during both the browsing and deliberation stages of the hotel choice process," says Noone, Associate Professor at the Pennsylvania State University School of Hospitality Management and co-author of the first study, "Using Eye Tracking to Obtain a Deeper Understanding of What Drives Online Hotel Choice." "We found that when people are browsing through search results, they tend to look more frequently at hotel names than any other feature, and that pictures of the hotel appear to be hugely influential during both stages of the search. Our next project will be to dig more deeply into what we uncovered in this initial study, looking at issues such as what kinds of images have the most impact on guests during their searches, or how users balance price with other factors when they make their choices."

In the second CHR Report, "Show Me What You See, Tell Me What You Think: Using Eye Tracking for Hospitality Research," co-authors Robson and Noone outline the principles of eye tracking research and identify several ways that this technology can be used to address hospitality problems. "For example, there is little empirical research on how guests actually experience hospitality environments," says Robson, Senior Lecturer at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University. "Eye tracking can let a designer or a hotel brand see whether a design captures guests' attention, or explore how to best present the hotel online or in print. Eye tracking is a powerful tool and deserves to be used much more frequently in our industry."

Download the study "Using Eye Tracking to Obtain a Deeper Understanding of What Drives Online Hotel Choice" at Cornell University and "Show Me What You See, Tell Me What You Think: Using Eye Tracking for Hospitality Research" at Cornell University

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Airbnb listings mostly illegal, state contends

October 17, 2014

Commercial operators, not hard-luck residents, supply more than a third of the units and generate more than a third of the revenue. At least a handful of landlords are running what amount to illegal hostels.

Property owners on Airbnb are indeed making money, but it is not being spread around. Most rentals are in three high-profile Manhattan neighborhoods. Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island barely figure.

Airbnb declined to aggressively dispute the numbers in the report, which draws on four years of data it provided to the attorney general after a court fight.

“We need to move forward,” an Airbnb spokesman, Nick Papas, said. “We need to work together on some sensible rules that stop bad actors and protect regular people who simply want to share the home in which they live.”

Get the full story at The New York Times

Read also "Is Airbnb 'Great for New York City?' New York's AG Definitely Doesn't Think So." at Entrepreneur

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Can Sabre offload its travel website

October 17, 2014 is part of Sabre's Travelocity business, which it is gradually exiting to focus on its core growth areas.

"As part of Sabre, has significantly improved its technology and operations, and is now perfectly positioned to unlock its full growth and profitability potential," said Sabre chief executive Tom Klein in a statement. "The decision to review strategic options for supports Sabre's strategy to focus on our core business." Sabre officials declined to comment further.

Compared to where was once headed, the company is "rather behind" in the age of flash sales and emergence of mobile channels, said Henry Harteveldt, chief research officer at Atmosphere Research Group.

He explained that the company has a great name and is in a space with sizeable market opportunity. But the question regarding its future comes down to whether lastminute can leapfrog its competition.

Get the full story at The Street

Read also " into profit after write-off" at TTG Digital

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Travelers use mobile devices as concierges

October 17, 2014

Travelers rely on their personal devices to look up restaurant and hotel reviews, activity information and updated travel times. Mobile devices also allow for easy sharing of vacation snapshots on social media sites.

A new Expedia/Egencia study revealed that 76 percent of travelers claimed their smartphones are “very important/critical” to daily life, while more than one-third of the world’s travelers use their mobile device more while traveling than while at home.

However, consumers believe themselves to be well-versed in mobile device etiquette, with 53 percent of surveyors saying that making calls on speakerphone is considered offensive in public, followed closely by taboos of playing music without headphones and taking photos of strangers.

Get the full story at the Mobile Marketer

Read also "Expedia/Egencia study reveals global differences in mobile behavior"

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Google defends flight search

October 17, 2014

Discussing Google’s former involvement in flight search, Schmidt said:

“We showed a bunch of links to other sites, where users then had to enter their query over again. And we noticed lots of repeat searches, a sure sign of user frustration. People wanted direct answers, with fewer clicks.

“So we created Flight Search — and now you can quickly compare prices and times from different airlines right from the results page.”

Get the full story at Tnooz

Read also "Google Flight Search, four years in: Not the competition-killer critics feared"

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The mobile marketing trends brands need to be aware of

October 17, 2014

The iBeacon is a simple technology that sends a Bluetooth signal to a mobile device in the form of a push notification when a phone with certain permissions comes into proximity. It may not seem incredibly innovative from the outset. That’s until you realise the potential power.

For example, iBeacons can alert a user to a special offer on their phone that may interest them when they walk by a certain isle in a store, or it can be used to welcome them via push notification when they enter a shop. Alternatively, it can send them a link to download an app that may result in them enjoying a specific in-store experience, or offers. There’s a myriad of ways that it can be utilised and these are just some of the examples.

Get the full story at Reve News

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HSMAI, Duetto release white paper on open pricing

October 17, 2014

The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and Duetto have released a white paper titled “Opening the Doors to New Revenue.”

The white paper makes the case for moving past best available rates and pricing all room types, channels and dates independently of one another to maximize revenue.

“While in the short term, hotel industry revenues continue to rise, commissions paid to third parties are growing twice as fast – threatening hotel revenues and profitability. A response from the industry is needed – and improvements in business intelligence, data and analytics are providing hoteliers better forecasts by specific channels. Together with new technology that is allowing connectivity among property management, central reservation and revenue management systems, open pricing is becoming a reality,” said Patrick Bosworth, CEO and co-founder of Duetto.

Dynamic pricing, which has many different meanings, involves managing rates based on fluctuations in supply and demand in the market. Hotels capture revenue by adjusting their rates on a daily, or hourly, basis. But typically all of those rates are a derivative of the best available rate (BAR).

With open pricing, hoteliers can price each room, segment and channel based on actual demand.

“Open pricing is the future,” concluded Bosworth. “It means never closing the door on a guest who wants to book a hotel. It’s also what revenue management should be about: Maximizing revenue by selling the right room to the right customer at the right time for the right price.”
The open pricing model also balances shoulder dates more effectively, and allows the modifier between standard and premium rooms to fluctuate versus staying the same all the time.

“Most hotels are missing the opportunity to use differentiated pricing applicable to different behaviors exhibited by people booking from other channels,” says Marco Benvenuti, a co-founder of Duetto and its chief analytics and product officer. “Is someone booking through an OTA automatically only going to accept paying 35 percent less? Maybe they’d be willing to pay 30 percent less. Maybe even 20 percent less.”

As revenue per available room (RevPAR) has risen so has the cost of customer acquisition. A recent study from the Hospitality Asset Managers Association (HAMA) revealed the rate of growth for business acquisition costs is growing almost twice as fast as the rate of revenue growth. And as demonstrated in the Distribution Channel Analysis, published by the HSMAI Foundation, the U.S. hotel industry was paying $3.8 billion to intermediaries in 2010, but that number could double by 2015.

The HSMAI-Duetto white paper explains that open pricing will better align supply with demand and also with rising distribution costs. As technology and revenue strategies evolve, so do the opportunities available for hotels to move beyond a fixed-tier approach to pricing.

The “Opening the Doors to New Revenue” white paper is available in the HSMAI Foundation Knowledge Center (members only).

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Thinking outside the vendor RFP process in hospitality digital marketing

October 17, 2014

Why do hotel companies go through an RFP process when selecting a website design vendor or a digital marketing firm? For some, this is due to corporate mandates, for others there is a “We have always done it this way” mentality.

The vendor RFP process is typically long and drawn out. It consists of selecting a list of vendors known to provide the service/product in question (a PMS, a CRS, website design, digital marketing and consulting services, etc.), preparing an RFP (request for proposal) outlining the hotel company’s needs and wants, sending the RFP to an identified list of vendors, conference calls to go over questions about the RFP, sifting through proposals and RFP responses, identifying a short-list of vendors, organizing and sitting through face-to-face or online presentations, going through a round or two of final Q&As, and finally, selecting the winning vendor.

The Current Vendor RFP Process is Intrinsically Flawed

Some believe the vendor RFP process allows a hotel company to pick the most qualified service/product provider through an unbiased decision process. Perhaps this is the case for commoditized supplies or services (housekeeping supplies, linens, laundry, etc.) where the RFP process allows for comparing the proverbial “apples to apples.”

Beyond website design, digital marketing and building a direct online revenue channel encompasses strategy, technology, and marketing expertise. Top digital technology and marketing firms take a robust and comprehensive approach to the digital channel including accommodating user behavior on the three screens (desktop, mobile, tablet), website and campaign analytics, the integration of different technologies, dynamic content personalization, dynamic rate marketing, reservation abandonment tools, social media, SEO, SEM, online display advertising, and more. In addition, there needs to be a core understanding of business needs, budget planning, and industry terminology. Because the digital marketing world is fast-paced, prospective clients oftentimes lack the capacity to prepare an effective vendor RFP.

At a typical hotel, who is equipped with the latest best practices in digital technology and marketing to sufficiently and adequately prepare a vendor RFP? Very few hotel companies have the bandwidth and depth of knowledge to adequately identify the digital needs of the property. Nor can they convey the property’s needs and wants in the digital space and where it needs to be in 6, 12, 24 and 36 months from now. Lastly, who at the property can afford to devote considerable time to research and prepare a vendor RFP that asks the right questions, conveys the right objectives and provides a solid framework for evaluating and comparing one digital technology and marketing firm to the next?

On the hotel side, the typical vendor RFP process easily takes 50+ hours from beginning to end. On the digital technology and marketing vendor side, time to review, respond, and present takes upwards of 25-40 hours. Typically, three vendors compete and with all parties combined the entire RFP process will cost upwards of $15,000-$20,000. Beyond the cost, this process consumes the time and energy of multiple people and departments on an average of every two years for the hotel company.

The traditional vendor RFP process is becoming less and less relevant in this fast moving, highly dynamic, and increasingly complex world of hospitality digital marketing. Other more efficient and relevant options are available to address the increasingly important and high value direct online distribution channel. With so much at stake for hotels, finding the right digital technology and marketing firm that fits your hotel profile and goals is crucial to long term success.

Alternatives to the typical vendor RFP process such as the Trusted Partner, the Digital Marketing Partner Interview or the user-friendly Scorecard model cut to the chase. It is time for us as an industry to modernize the process and start thinking outside the traditional vendor RFP process.

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

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Amid rising rates, hotel capital spending buoys buyer satisfaction

October 16, 2014

Of the 53 hotel brands rated by 368 corporate travel buyer respondents in the survey, only nine had total scores that were lower than they were in 2013. Scores were flat at three brands and up across the rest.

Unlike the 2013 Hotel Chain Survey, in which scores generally were up year over year in the lower tiers but down in the higher tiers, the 2014 showed improving buyer satisfaction in all tiers. Many of the highest increases included upper upscale and luxury hotel brands making up for their drop last year.

At the same time, buyers are facing a challenging hotel negotiating season, with the average corporate negotiated hotel rate in the United States for 2015 projected to increase between 5.5 percent and 6.5 percent year over year, according to analysis by Bjorn Hanson, a clinical professor at New York University's Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. At the same time, however, hotels this year are investing more capital back into their properties than ever before, which Hanson suspects is a key factor among the score increases.

"The hotel industry sought and was granted forgiveness from travelers for the period when rates were not keeping up with inflation," Hanson said. "Consumer expectations increase at the same time, and the properties are improving at the same time these rates are going up."

Get the full story at Business Travel News and/or access the digital version of the survey at Business Travel News

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Expedia/Egencia study reveals global differences in mobile behavior

October 16, 2014

Expedia and Egencia released the results of the 2014 Expedia/Egencia Mobile Index, a global study of mobile-device-related behavior and preferences among travelers in North America, South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific.

The 2014 Expedia/Egencia Mobile Index was commissioned by Expedia and conducted online by Northstar, a global research and consulting firm. The study was conducted among 8,856 employed adults across 25 countries.

"We are entering a new era where people are moving fluidly across desktop, phone, tablet, even wearables as they dream, plan, book and then ultimately take their trip," said Dara Khosrowshahi, President and Chief Executive Officer, Expedia, Inc. and President, Expedia Worldwide. "Travelers are not only researching and booking trips on mobile, but they're also complimenting their meals, complaining to providers and capturing every trip detail. This is the new normal when it comes to travel. We chose to take a closer look at multi-device habits amongst both leisure and business travelers worldwide to better understand how technology is being used throughout the journey so we can continue to deliver contextually relevant mobile experiences."

"For business trips, mobile devices are already a requirement for most travelers, and mobile usage trends are still increasing. This is because mobile devices and enabling-apps make corporate travel smoother and more productive. Our study makes clear how business travelers integrate mobile functionality into their trips, and helps us develop the best experience on whatever device they use," says Rob Greyber, President of Egencia.

Mobile devices effectively serve as a concierge, guide and companion for travelers, who rely on smartphones and other mobile devices at every stage. On the whole, 76% of travelers say that their smartphones are "very important/critical" to their daily lives. 70% say the same about their laptop, and 48% say the same about their tablet device. Indians are the most dependent on smartphones, with 95% categorizing the device as "very important/critical." The world's least smartphone-dependent people can be found in Norway, where only 57% consider their smartphone to be critical/very important. More than one-third (35%) of the world's travelers use their smartphones more when they travel than they do at home.

Mobile Etiquette Held in High Regard

The 2014 Expedia Mobile Index revealed that travelers are well attuned to mobile device etiquette. Courteousness and noise consciousness are particularly important, as is privacy. "Taking photos/videos of people they do not know" is considered offensive smartphone behavior by 42% of the world's travelers, trailing only "making calls on speakerphone" (53%) and "playing music/games/videos without headphones" (47%).

Technology-fueled etiquette violations respondents consider offensive include if done in public:

- Making calls on speakerphone: 53%
- Playing music/games/videos without headphones: 47%
- Taking photos/videos of strangers: 42%
- Making calls while in restaurant: 36%
- Video calls/FaceTime/Skype: 27%
- Loud mobile device alerts: 26%
- Messaging/emailing at seated performance/activity: 24%
- Photographing food during meal: 18%

Complimentary WiFi Considered Top Hotel Perk

Given the ubiquity of mobile devices in travel, travelers increasingly prioritize WiFi accessibility. 56% of travelers report that WiFi availability and pricing impact their purchasing decision when selecting a flight and hotel. When asked to rank mobile-related hotel amenities, leisure travelers ranked "Complimentary WiFi" first, ahead of high-speed Internet access, wired in-room connectivity and a business center with computers and printers. Business travelers deem complimentary WiFi even more important, with 86% of travelers rating it as very or somewhat important when booking a hotel for business travel.

When they are on the road, the following mobile app/device functions are the most frequently utilized by both leisure and business travelers:

- Email/messaging: 61%
- Camera/video recording: 50%
- Maps/navigation: 47%
- Social media: 45%
- Weather: 38%
- Utility (alarm, calculator): 33%
- Entertainment: 24%

While laptops and desktop computers are the most common way to book travel, 78% of business travelers have used their smartphone in a travel planning capacity and 71% use tablets. The most common uses for both devices are managing itineraries (37% and 32%) and researching destinations (35% and 32%). Other popular activities are shopping for hotels, receiving flight alerts and checking in for flights. Globally, 28% of employed adults who own a mobile device have used a smartphone or tablet to book a hotel.

Losing a passport ranked among the top fears of global travelers, with 40% citing it as their top travel anxiety. Losing money ranked second. Somewhat surprisingly, "unexpectedly losing my travel companion" came in third, but only 2% of the Spanish cite this as a fear, versus 53% of the Danish. "Losing my mobile device" tied with "losing my luggage" in the list of top five travel fears for all travelers.

"Losing all my personal information" was the top anxiety associated with losing a phone while traveling, with 58% listing it among their fears. 41% would worry about their ability to contact home. 37% would worry about the replacement cost. 29% would feel insecure/isolated, while 19% would miss their apps, music and social networks.
Despite the seeming desire to stay connected while traveling, only 35% of travelers purchase an international data/roaming plan when traveling. Indians are by far the likeliest to do so, with 68% saying yes, while in contrast only 12% of the French purchase such a plan.

16% of global travelers keep a power cord with them at all times, to recharge their mobile device the moment it loses power. A full 47% reported that they would wait to recharge a powerless phone until they returned to their hotel. 14% carry a rechargeable case/battery pack. Only 1% would pay to use a public charging station or secure power kiosk.

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UK: Expedia ordered to clarify all non-optional hotel charges in future adverts

October 16, 2014

Expedia argued that the resident fee at the WestHouse Hotel was not included in the price because it was payable directly to the hotel on checkout and it was difficult to quantify and calculate an accurate fee for customers at the time of booking.

However, the company pointed out that fee applicable to the WestHouse Hotel was displayed in two places on its website − on the hotel details page and on the payments page under a link entitled "taxes/fees paid at hotel - details".

Expedia said its approach of displaying resident fees was “consistent with market practice” in the UK and it believed the complainant would have been aware of the charge prior to completing the booking.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Life currently a nightmare for TMCs

October 16, 2014

A one-stop source consolidating content such as hotels, car rentals, air fares and ancillaries could be the solution to issues of non-compliance corporate travel managers face today. The point was raised during a panel discussion on disruptive technology at yesterday’s CAPA 2014 Asia Pacific Corporate Travel Innovation Day held in Singapore.

Ian Heywood, vice president, global supplier strategy, GDSs, Travelport, said: “Life is currently a nightmare for travel management companies (TMCs). There’s an overload of information that isn’t coming in in a sensible manner, you’ve got to go to multiple websites to access it, and airlines continue to have different product differentiation.

“This is breaking down booking models. The corporate traveller may go out and book it themselves, or the TMC may book the flight but can’t book the ancillary and has to go to the airline website. And this is costing a lot more money. No one in this industry is making the returns they need to make.”

Get the full story at TTG Asia

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How to create a unique social hotel experience

October 16, 2014

Since social media is now commonplace, especially when it comes to travel, hotels are burdened with the additional responsibility of standing out among the noise. While having a strong, consistent social media presence is essential, hotels can take their guests’ experience to the next level by injecting social into the overall culture of the property.

Of course, this is easier said than done as it would involve a complete overhaul of the operational structure. However, if done well and incorporated throughout various phases of the booking and staying cycle, a hotel can cultivate a truly authentic experience for its tech-savvy guests.

Here are a few ways to create a truly “ social hotel ” experience.

Get the full story at Maximize Social Business

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How Tumblr is making its case to brands

October 16, 2014

The study also suggests that media consumption has a tangible, positive effect on how Tumblr users view brands. Tumblr users who engage with — either by liking, following, clicking on or reblogging — user-generated Tumblr posts are 2.6 times more likely to take an off-site action related to the content of that post. When Tumblr users engaged with brand-produced posts, the lift was even higher (3.3 times).

Tumblr may be a great place to publish branded content, but brands and agencies have to date been uninterested in its ads. Indeed, Yahoo has yet to boast about Tumblr bringing in significant ad revenue. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer crowed about 65 of the largest U.S. advertisers being on Tumblr, but not spending on Tumblr.

“The ads themselves are native, large, beautiful – and now even in video form. But CPMs and minimums can be higher than Facebook and Twitter. And many of our clients need more than inferred geography and gender, targeting-wise,” Ben Winkler, chief digital officer at media agency OMD, said. “Our clients love to see their content there. The challenge is getting them to pay for it.”

Get the full story at Digiday

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eRevMax shares key insights on Chinese travel industry

October 16, 2014

The increase in high disposable income and rise of middle class has influenced the purchasing behaviour and travel decisions of young, educated and technologically skilled Chinese travelers. The Internet is the primary source of travel planning with 95% of Chinese travelers beginning their search at Baidu, the 800 lbs Gorilla of China Search.

The steady economic growth in the country has increased the consumption power, but the middle class Chinese traveler still remains price sensitive and compares rates on meta-search channels before booking.

An increase in disposable income, a broadening middle class, and an improved road and rail network has encouraged more people to travel. The amount of money spent on travel in China has been growing at 20% compound rate for the last few years, and has made Chinese travelers the big spenders.

Digital media and e-commerce have moved into the mainstream of Chinese Internet users’ lives with them spending about 1 billion hours online each day, more than double the daily total in the United States. When it comes to online travel - Ctrip, eLong and dominate the market. The internet penetration in the country is being led by smartphones, and this has led to an exponential rise in mobile travel bookings. A whopping 89% travellers use smartphones to access websites and 45% of business travellers use mobile for travel arrangements.

When it comes to booking decisions, Chinese travelers trust online reviews more than friends or families. The volume of reviews posted nearly doubled in 2013, and peer recommendations influence not only where travelers go, but also where they shop for travel products. The Infographic notes that 48% of travellers use social media in trip
planning and 89% of luxury travelers write reviews after the trip. Sina Weibo, the local micro-blogging site rules in the social space with over 550 million active users.

To access the full infographig go to eRevMax

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Leonardo selected by CHECK24 to provide hotel visual content

October 16, 2014

Under the agreement, has subscribed to Leonardo’s MediaConnect product to source high quality photos and rich media for hotels listed on its website. With this subscription, is now a member of Leonardo’s VNetwork, the most extensive visual media syndication network in the global travel industry.

Seamless image sourcing and processing

Under the agreement, will gain access to over 1.5 million photos from the global travel industry’s largest hotel media library for over 100,000 GDS listed hotels globally. will also benefit from the image sourcing and processing features included in the MediaConnect product, such as:

- Delivery of media in multiple formats and sizes along with meta-data including categories and captions

- Brand and hotel certified content that is updated regularly to ensure accuracy and freshness of content on CHECK24’s website and minimize rogue image issues

- Media sourcing through advanced XML connectivity based on industry standards from HTNG (Hotel Technology Next Generation) and Open Travel Alliance

Engaging multi-media will also embed Leonardo’s media display technology to display multi-media for hotels that subscribe to Leonardo’s VBrochure Online Merchandising System. With customized multi-media stories displayed alongside the images will source and display, subscribing hotels will provide enhanced visual experiences for travel shoppers on

“By choosing Leonardo technology for their hotel visual content, will provide their travel shoppers with more immersive and visually engaging hotel shopping experiences that lead to increased engagement and conversions. We’re pleased that hotels that subscribe to VBrochure will further benefit by having their multi-media players displayed on this travel website,” said John McAuliffe, Leonardo’s President.

“Having access to Leonardo’s extensive library of hotel visual content will give our consumers significantly more clarity to enable them to make the hotel selection that is best for them, for hotels only and package deals. We’re pleased to offer our travel shoppers researching and booking on CHECK24 travel websites with a more enhanced selection of hotel visual content,” said Georg Heusgen, CEO of CHECK24 Travel.

Related Link: Leonardo

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UK: Mobile travel bookings still lagging behind

October 15, 2014

However, ABTA’s data did point toward a potential “changing of the guard,” with young UK millennials much more likely to make travel bookings on their mobile devices. Indeed, while 88% of 16-to-24-year-old internet users stated they had used a PC or laptop to book travel in the 12 months ending July 2014—the smallest proportion across all age groups - 35% said they had used a mobile phone, the highest percentage across age brackets.

When it came to the research aspect of digital travel, where the overall populace is becoming more reliant on mobile, UK millennials again displayed advanced digital behaviors, this time putting a greater emphasis on social media than other age groups. While 18% of total internet users used social media to research and plan travel, that number rose to 44% among 16- to 24-year-olds.

This behavior is all set against steady, if unspectacular, growth in digital travel sales in the UK. According to eMarketer, sales will reach £21.42 billion ($33.47 billion) in 2014, up 13.7% from 2013.

Get the full story at eMarketer

Read also "Mobile devices trending for UK travel researchers" at eMarketer

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U.S travel agency air ticket sales up in 2014

October 15, 2014

ARC, the financial settlement link between airlines and travel sellers, reported today that the consolidated dollar value of airline tickets sold by U.S.-based travel agencies rose 4.78 percent* year-over-year in the first nine months of 2014 compared to the same period last year, totaling $70.6 billion versus $67.3 billion in 2013. Sales for September 2014 were up 5.72 percent at $7.5 billion compared to September 2013 at $7 billion.

Ticket transactions through September 2014 increased 2.65 percent over the same period in 2013 to 114 million. Year-to-date passenger segments increased 2.76 percent to 285.6 million, compared to 277.4 million in 2013.

Get the full story at ARC

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What clients want from travel agents

October 15, 2014

The survey findings were released at the American Express Travel Retail Network’s Learning Forum & National Summit in Orlando last week.

The guidance clients seek from agents takes varying forms, the study found.

Seventy four percent of agents said their clients ask them to design their entire trip, the “whole package” while 60% said clients want help in finding the best destination and experience.
Fifty-three percent of agents said clients who’ve done their own research want help in finding deals.

“Resources” - the ability to access deals as well as their relationships with suppliers—are agents’ most important selling tool, said half of the agents surveyed.

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

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How hits the content sweet spot

October 15, 2014 has produced a lovely piece of content designed to show parts of London that only the discerning have discovered*. It's called 100 Things in London and it's a nice bit of content marketing.

Jo Harris-Cooksley, content marketing manager at, worked with local tour guides, historians and bloggers to find the right mix of trivia associated with each thing.

The 'near me' feature is an example of how all experiences are now striving to provide extra degrees of relevance. By providing locational relevancy, this content has an extra use.

Get the full story at eConsultancy

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