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Expedia tips voice as the biggest disrupter in travel

December 13, 2017

The company, which said it spends some US$1.3 billion a year on technology, demonstrated the use of its voice-activated hotel booking app, Alexa, at the Expedia Partner Conference last week, showing how a customer can use voice to search, book, pay for a hotel booking, check-in and access the room key from the home screen of the app.

Arthur Chapin, Expedia’s senior vice president, global product & design, said the company is piloting the product in three properties in Denmark before rolling it out to partners in a couple of years.

Expedia’s CEO Mark Okerstrom, when asked by TTG Asia what will be the biggest disrupter and how he is prioritising technological innovations, said: “Voice is incredibly interesting.”

“The initial idea with mobile was that everyone’s going to take their desktop experience and put it on a mobile device, but we quickly learnt having a super computer (i.e. mobile) with you all the time changed things – 50-70 per cent of our mobile bookings came on the same day or next day and before we knew, we were able to target customers with offerings (such as) in-destination activities.

Get the full story at TTG Asia

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/expedia_tips_voice_as_the_biggest_disrupter_in_travel

Booking.com’s chatbot can handle 30% of customers’ hotel-related questions

December 13, 2017

Today Booking.com, one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies and digital technology leader, announced the expansion of the pilot version of its new service and support chatbot, the Booking Assistant, now widely available to English-language bookings worldwide. As the latest evolution of Booking.com’s messaging platform, the Booking Assistant merges proprietary Artificial Intelligence technology with Booking.com’s already-robust customer service support. Available to an increasing number of travellers in advance of the busy end-of-year travel season, the Booking Assistant empowers customers to get first-line support for their upcoming bookings, including timely responses to their most common stay-related requests, all through a single intuitive chat interface. Built entirely in house, the Booking Assistant leads the industry when it comes to quickly identifying and automatically responding to an increasingly broad range of post-booking related questions from travellers, all via their preferred device and platform.

Customer-first AI

The Booking Assistant leverages natural language processing technology to identify the most frequently asked questions from customers, including topics such as payment, transportation, arrival and departure times, date changes, cancellation requests, parking information, extra bed requests, pet policies, Wi-Fi and internet availability, as well as a wide variety of greetings and thank-you messages. With increased access to additional consumers and their most-pressing questions, the Booking Assistant is rapidly becoming more sophisticated. Booking.com is currently training the model to refine the current number of questions it can manage into more than 90 specific subtopics that can be quickly identified and handled appropriately.

Unlike other chatbots that are only focussed on conversion conversations, one or two specific tasks, or upselling in-stay services, the Booking Assistant chatbot has been built to respond to customers’ most commonly asked questions. The chatbot can currently respond to 30% of customers’ stay-related questions automatically in less than 5 minutes. If the Booking Assistant has identified a question it can’t solve on its own, depending on the nature of the query, it pulls in support from either the Booking.com customer service team or the property, adding their response directly into the conversation. In addition, the Booking Assistant always identifies the source of that information, so that it’s 100% transparent for customers.

“For us, AI is not about replacing human interaction, but is instead a vehicle to facilitate an even more personalised, instantaneously gratifying and frictionless travel experience for consumers,” said James Waters, Global Director of Customer Service at Booking.com. “As we operate in an industry that is incredibly personal, emotional and complex, maintaining the right balance between genuine human interaction and efficient automation is something we're always trying to fine-tune and optimise throughout every stage of the consumer journey, including with the Booking Assistant.”

New frontiers for customer and partner support

According to recent research conducted by Booking.com with 19,000 travellers in 26 countries, 50% of consumers don’t mind if they deal with a real person or a computer, so long as their questions are answered. Coupled with Booking.com data that 80% of customers prefer to self-serve in order to get the information that they need, the Booking Assistant is filling a need for travellers to get the quick support they require without having to engage with more traditional customer service channels, such as phone or email. In addition, as a hybrid chatbot experience, human back-up is always available within the interface itself with no need to reach out via alternate channels for assistance.

For Booking.com’s accommodation partners, the Booking Assistant represents a valuable timesaving innovation. The chatbot can already field many easy-to-answer questions eliminating the need for customers to reach out to the property directly for clarification, with the benefits only increasing as topic identification becomes more sophisticated.

No matter which device or preferred communication channel travellers use, they can get the answers they need via the Booking Assistant. The Booking Assistant was built as a mobile-first experience and has been adapted to operate natively within the iOS and Android versions of the Booking.com app, as well as via Facebook Messenger. It can also be accessed via the Booking.com website on desktop, mobile or tablet. To interact with the Booking Assistant, customers should look for the chat icon and the text Ask a question.

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/booking.com_chatboot_responds_to_30_percent_customers_hotel_questions

Airbnb is replacing the guest book with augmented reality

December 13, 2017

The company showed off some simple prototype ideas in a blog post, detailing how VR could be used to explore apartments that customers may want to rent, from the comfort of their own homes. Hosts could scan apartments or houses to create 360-degree images that potential customers could view on smartphones or VR headsets.

It also envisioned an augmented-reality system where hosts could leave notes and instructions to their guests as they move through their apartment, especially if their house’s setup is unusual. AR signposts in the Airbnb app could help guide guests through anything confusing more efficiently than the instructions hosts often leave for their guests.

“It can also be stressful when someone doesn’t know how to unlock the door or turn on the hot water for a shower, or when they’re hopelessly lost and everything is in a foreign language,” the company said. “Just think how welcome pulling up a mobile device to get directions to the coffee mugs will be first thing in the morning. Or, instant translations on how to work that German thermostat.”

Get the full story at Quartz

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/airbnb_is_replacing_the_guest_book_with_augmented_reality

HotelTonight revamps rewards program with infinite levels

December 13, 2017

In the new program users get a discount off of base rates once they hit level 2 at $250 in lifetime spend, and that discount doubles at level 3 for $1k lifetime spend, triples at level 4 for $2k lifetime spend. and quadruples at level 8 for $6k in lifetime spend.

After hitting level 4 for $2k lifetime spend, you level up each $1,000 you spend. So level 5 would be $3k, level 6 would be $4k and so on. Unlike rewards programs for most airlines and hotels, your “status” never expires, making the program useful for both frequent and infrequent travelers.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/hoteltonight_revamps_rewards_program_with_infinite_levels

Alexa’s hospitality skill: Hotel concierge

December 13, 2017

Originally just a Bluetooth speaker with a built-in personal digital assistant, Amazon has upgraded and diversified its Echo family of artificial intelligence products in the past two years, first adding the hockey puck-size version called the Echo Dot, followed by the Echo Plus, which includes home-automation software; the Echo Show, which includes a video screen and can make phone calls; and the latest addition, the Echo Spot, a device with a smaller screen that is something of a smart alarm clock.

What each of these devices has in common is Alexa, the built-in smart digital assistant that can answer questions using internet databases as its information source.

"She" -- Alexa's default voice is female -- can also read books, play music on demand and engage in a great many other "skills" that users choose on the Alexa smartphone app.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/alexas_hospitality_skill_hotel_concierge

How blockchain and cryptocurrencies will transform the travel industry

December 13, 2017

However, the most significant opportunities to transform the travel industry are around the widespread adoption of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

As the digital transformation gathers pace, it's clear that the travel industry is ripe for disruption. Upon entering an airport, we are immediately greeted with legacy friction points. Long check-in lines, passport control and a lack of communication are just the beginning of a series of frustrations that occur before boarding a flight.

Many believe that the travel industry is in need of a complete overhaul and blockchain could be the perfect solution to eradicate legacy problems. A blockchain isn't just about securely moving information. Think of it as an open-source, distributed ledger or database that records every transaction.

Get the full story at International Business Times

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/how_blockchain_and_cryptocurrencies_will_transform_the_travel_industry

10 ways to ring in the New Year, with more bookings

December 13, 2017

It’s often a peak booking month, responsible for bringing in nearly 40% of the entire revenue for the quarter according to our client data for 2017.

Statistically, there is a swing in attitudes among consumers towards the end of December each year — research into the following year’s holiday options surges from its lowest point to its highest.

Many people will try and take advantage of the January Sales when booking holidays and like to cheer up an otherwise dull month, with a holiday to look forward to later in the year. It’s important that not only is your hotel front of mind when they’re ready to book, but also, that they find what they want when they land on your site.

Get the full story at Net Affinity

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/10_ways_to_ring_in_the_new_year_with_more_bookings

HEBS Digital wins record-breaking 21 HSMAI Adrian Awards, including 10 gold

December 13, 2017

HEBS Digital, a leading authority in hotel digital technology and marketing innovation, has been honored with a record-breaking 21 Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Adrian Awards for 2017. These awards mark a new record for HEBS Digital, beating their previous record of 17 awards.

HEBS Digital will be honored at the HSMAI Adrian Awards Dinner Reception & Gala on February 20, 2018. This annual black-tie event, held at the New York Marriott Marquis, is attended by nearly 1,000 industry leaders, making it a landmark event in hospitality.

Get the full story at HEBS Digital

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/hebs_digital_wins_record_breaking_21_hsmai_adrian_awards_including_10_gold

Expedia offers to lower hotel commissions - strings attached

December 12, 2017

Cyril Ranque, president, Expedia Lodging Partner Services, makes a case that this is a “two-sided” solution for both lodging partners and Expedia: hotels will be stronger if they invest on, say, marketing campaigns or tools to optimise their operations, and stronger hotels are the backbone of the Expedia content.

“The sustainability of our business model depends on the richness of our supply from the consumer standpoint. If supply is diversified and is of high quality, consumers will come. So it is important for us to build an ecosystem that allows any type of partner (small independents or big global chains) to be successful on our marketplace. Equipping them with tools – such as Rev+ (revenue management tool), ALICE to optimise operations, etc, the list is long – is actually in our longterm interest,” he said.

Get the full story at TTG Asia

Read also "Expedia’s ambitions to build the world’s first all-property solution for hotels"

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/expedia_offers_to_lower_hotel_commissions_strings_attached

Can Marriott keep Starwood’s culture of cool, and its customers?

December 12, 2017

- First, will the new Marriott be convenient? The old Starwood often was not, especially for people seeking lower-price properties.

- Starwood regularly lapped Marriott on matters of coolness, though. Its W, Westin and Aloft brands offered the possibility that your hotel room could look and feel like your bedroom at home. Will Marriott impede Starwood’s culture of innovation, just as the company is facing the enormous new threat from Airbnb and its appeal to fans of quirk, local culture and value?

- And then, there’s the loyalty programs. Frequent travelers want their hotel stays to count for something. The Starwood Preferred Guest program has drawn particularly passionate, opinionated members. But it’s a rare merger that results in better benefits for all elite-level travelers. Marriott is still several months away from announcing crucial details about the future of the program, but how much will it take away from wary S.P.G. fans like me?

For the acquisition to succeed, creative employees need to stick around. Because the company owns only a tiny fraction of its hotels, the real estate developers it partners with must want to raise the various Marriott flags and hire the company to manage the properties.

Get the full story at The New York Times

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/can_marriott_keep_starwoods_culture_of_cool_and_its_customers

Paris asks Airbnb to delist 1,000 apartments

December 12, 2017

In particular, you can’t rent an apartment more than 120 days a year. Many renters also can’t list their apartment on Airbnb unless the landlord is fine with it.

Now, hosts need to display a registration number on the Airbnb listing. There are currently 65,000 homes on Airbnb in Paris. Only 11,000 apartments have been registered so far according to the AFP.

So it seems like Paris wants to speed things up more than anything. While Airbnb is the elephant in the room, the city of Paris sent a letter to Airbnb, HomeAway, Paris Attitude, Sejourning and Windu.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/paris_asks_airbnb_to_delist_1000_apartments

Booking a flight is about to get a lot more like booking a hotel

December 12, 2017

Expedia has already added many features, including showing a quality score as well as listing amenities for each flight, like food and entertainment options, Wi-Fi availability, a map of the cabin, and more. In addition to this, Expedia announced on Wednesday it will be adding Routehappy’s Universal Product Attributes and Universal Ticket Attributes to its dashboard on all its sites, which will delve even deeper into what you’re getting for your money.

Using this technology, Expedia will display an airline’s products with photos and videos from the plane cabin right in the search results. The integration of Routehappy’s ticket data will also provide important ticketing information, like an airline’s fare benefits and restrictions. (We're looking at you, basic economy.)

These advancements, Routehappy said in a statement, give airlines the opportunity to “tell their product stories and provide a rich, comprehensive, and more informed shopping experience” for fliers. “We think fliers need better information when they shop, and that airlines and distributors deserve a platform to supply it,” Robert Albert, CEO of Routehappy, told APEX in 2014, when its partnership with Expedia first began.

Get the full story at Travel + Leisure

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/booking_a_flight_is_about_to_get_a_lot_more_like_booking_a_hotel

It’s been a wild year for travel. What’s ahead for 2018?

December 12, 2017

The year’s watershed moments included a series of controversial travel bans, a mass shooting in one of America’s top tourist destinations and the expulsion of an airline passenger captured on video.

At the same time, several largely unnoticed events, mostly happening behind the scenes, promise to exert an equally powerful influence on your travel plans next year. Bottom line: Travelers will need to be more vigilant in 2018 than ever.

Get the full story at The Washington Post

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/its_been_a_wild_year_for_travel._whats_ahead_for_2018

The Gmail effect: How consumers’ email preferences have changed

December 12, 2017

In 3Q14, some 17% of all subscribers to brands' email programs were using Gmail. That percentage increased to 30% in 3Q17.

Some 49% of consumers who opted into marketers' email programs in the previous 90 days use Gmail.

That's compared with 15% who use Yahoo, 8% who use Hotmail/Outlook, 3% who use AOL, and 26% who use other ISPs.

Get the full story at MarketingProfs.com

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/the_gmail_effect_how_consumers_email_preferences_have_changed

Cendyn voted World’s Leading Data Driven Marketing Agency 2017

December 12, 2017

"It's an absolute honor to win this award" says Tim Sullivan, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at Cendyn. "We see day-in-day-out how many of our customers are now embracing the ability to use their data to enhance their digital marketing efforts to get more guests through the door. Not only do they see more direct, higher yielding bookings but using our CRM integration, they are able to watch those guests become returning, loyal guests.”

Cendyn’s unique Data-Driven Digital Marketing Suite enables hoteliers to learn about and target their most valuable guests more than ever before. By targeting the right guests, at the right time, with the right message, hoteliers are able to cut through the noise of the crowded hospitality industry with personalized multi-channel campaigns that showcase and drive awareness of your brand.

Using data to pave the way in how hoteliers communicate with their guests has revolutionized how they can learn more about guests’ interactions, drive direct bookings, maintain brand presence with their most valuable guests and stay competitive in their market. Cendyn’s integrated Digital Marketing Suite and Hotel CRM Suite enables hoteliers to keep their guests at the forefront of what they do, and concentrate on providing exceptional, personalized customer service at all times.

Related Link: Cendyn

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/cendyn_voted_worlds_leading_data_driven_marketing_agency_2017

Hotel Bonanza and STAAH integration now live

December 12, 2017

The agreement makes Hotel Bonanza among the 200+ integrations that STAAH’s Channel Manager has with various OTAs, global distribution service providers (GDS) and payment gateways.

The connection presents exciting opportunities for mutual clients looking to grow online occupancy and revenue. With this integration complete property owners can make updates to their room rates and inventory on hotelbonanza.com in real-time via their STAAH Channel Manager.

“We are delighted with this partnership,” says Suzie Barber, co-founder of Hotel Bonanza. “It is a crucial link for us to strengthen our presence in New Zealand and further afield.”

Get the full story at STAAH

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/hotel_bonanza_and_staah_integration_now_live

Expedia’s ambitions to build the world’s first all-property solution for hotels

December 11, 2017

It’s also hard not to see how that ambition puts other tech solutions providers on notice. The resounding message from the company is that Expedia isn’t just an OTA but also a technology partner providing solutions for the travel and hospitality industries — that just happens to have a massive demand engine at its core.

It’s one thing to distribute inventory to other people’s channels, and quite another to package a lucrative conversion channel with “Expedia-powered” technology solutions.
The company’s reach gives it plenty of opportunities to challenge the solutions’ business of the legacy players, something that the company is eager to do, says Expedia Lodging Partner Services president Cyril Ranque:

“The reason why we invested in a company that does hotel operations…is because, over time, when the ALICE system is in-property and integrated, it optimizes the internal back office operations.

“But it also optimizes the relationship with the guest. Then we can plug that into our own apps and provide a completely seamless consumer experience, from the search, to the booking, to the on-property experience, to the post-stay reviews.”

Get the full story at Tnooz

Read also "Expedia vows to disrupt the hotel revenue management sector"

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/expedia_ambitions_to_build_the_worlds_first_all_property_solution_for_hotel

Business travel growth could tighten room supply for OTAs in 2018

December 11, 2017

An influx of corporate travelers could reduce the pressure that hotel chains feel to list weekday rooms on online-travel sites, added the MKM analysts led by Rob Sanderson.

Sanderson is concerned about Expedia’s positioning going in to 2018, given that the company’s room-night growth has disappointed, even with hotel occupancy rates at record levels.

“We think this is related mostly to supply tightness, which is crowding out online-travel agency customers and may be driving them into alternative accommodations more and more,” Sanderson wrote. Airbnb is one such alternative, but Expedia could benefit if consumers choose to book on HomeAway, its own vacation-rental site.

Get the full story at MarketWatch

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/business_travel_growth_could_tighten_room_supply_for_otas_in_2018

5 ways business travel is changing in 2018

December 11, 2017

The rise of the sharing economy, changing demographic expectations, big data, political turmoil, AI, and currency shifts are just a few of the many forces that are putting pressure on the industry to remain in a state of perpetual adaptation.

As the end of 2017 draws closer, it’s time for us to ask ourselves how this industry will continue to evolve in 2018. Here are 5 changes that we can expect.

1. Business travel picks up speed

According to a report by the Global Business Travel Association, expected business travel spending is to grow by 6.1 percent in 2018, up from the expected 5.1 percent in 2017.

Get the full story at The Next Web

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/5_ways_business_travel_is_changing_in_2018

Rules requiring airlines to disclose fees killed by Trump’s DOT

December 11, 2017

The department announced Thursday on its website that it was withdrawing the proposals as part of Trump’s effort to reduce regulatory burden on U.S. businesses.

As airline charges for such items as checking bags or getting seat assignments have grown, transportation regulators had sought to make the process of comparing prices more transparent.

One pending regulation would have required airlines and ticket agents to disclose to consumers all fees during the process of buying a ticket, and the other would have collected more detailed revenue information from large carriers. The department said it was withdrawing them after input from industry and the public.

Get the full story at Bloomberg

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/rules_requiring_airlines_to_disclose_fees_killed_by_trumps_dot

Hilton’s mobile-centric hotel rooms coming in 2018

December 11, 2017

Connected Room will be available for Hilton Honors members, "scaling rapidly" across the company's U.S. hotels in 2018, Hilton said.

Through the Connected Room feature, guests using Hilton's mobile app will be able to control room temperature, lighting, TV channels and window-covering settings, and customize streaming content to the guestroom TV.

Guests will be able to help hotels reduce energy usage by synching room-temperature controls with their schedules so that air conditioning or heating are only deployed when the guest is in the room.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/hiltons_mobile_centric_hotel_rooms_coming_in_2018

How a fake restaurant became #1 on TripAdvisor

December 11, 2017

What gave him the idea to try this stunt? Well, he mentions in the article that as a writer, he used to get paid to write fake reviews for restaurants.

With this being a job of his, he's always harbored a distrust when it comes to TripAdvisor. The meals never happened, the commenters were fake, the only thing real was the restaurants.

Which led him to think... can the restaurant be fake too? With this idea, he made it his mission to turn his shed into a top-rated London restaurant... without it actually becoming a restaurant.

Get the full story at Lynton

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/how_a_fake_restaurant_became_1_on_tripadvisor

Get your travel marketing ready for a strong start to 2018

December 11, 2017

In the US alone, up to 65 million travelers take flight and enjoy spring break getaways. Year after year, we see this surge in spring and summer travel searches during January and throughout the first quarter, the so-called “January jump.”

In our Spring & Summer report we see, for instance, that 39% of Q1 searches are for spring and summer travel. With all of these searches surging early on in the year, getting your campaigns up and going in January is key to a strong start to the new year.

Get the full story at Sojern

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/get_your_travel_marketing_ready_for_a_strong_start_to_2018

Scaling Koddi’s travel solutions

December 11, 2017

What does this mean for our customers?
By adding the former HookLogic assets from Criteo to the Koddi team, we will be able to drive more booking volume to our customers at higher efficiencies. Our shared customers will get more access and insights, with more streamlined opportunities to drive more scale in their campaigns. We’ll be able to open new demand streams for customers and focus in on exactly the kind of bookings they need to impact their business in meaningful ways.

What does this acquisition bring to Koddi?
The HookLogic travel business includes a high-scale delivery platform, self-service front ends, a robust set of APIs, and accountable analytics and monitoring that will allow Koddi clients to respond to more market demand and expand on the services we’re able to deliver. The team has deep technical and strategic expertise in the travel vertical.

Get the full story at Koddi

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/scaling_koddis_travel_solutions

Four key digital trends impacting hospitality brands

December 08, 2017

In fact, this emphasis on customer experience is so high that it has now collectively overtaken customer acquisition as the biggest business priority in travel.

This finding comes from Econsultancy’s Digital Trends in the Travel and Hospitality Sector report in association with Adobe, which is based on a survey of over 600 marketing executives from OTA’s, transportation, hospitality and restaurant companies.

So, why is this the case, and what other trends are impacting the industry? Here is a look at some key insights from the report.

Get the full story at Econsultancy

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/four_key_digital_trends_impacting_hospitality_brands

Expedia Partner Conference stresses partnership, innovation and a hyperlocal focus

December 08, 2017

This number can be seen as a glimmer of positivity in an arena so often characterized by uncertainty, but the hotel industry certainly has other challenges to worry about aside from hurricanes and politics. Luckily, these other challenges actually have solutions.

Recently, Choice Hotels International’s VP of franchise development, Brian Quinn, went on record urging the company’s franchisees to better leverage its tools to succeed. In much the same manner, Expedia is calling out the hotel industry to leverage its data wherever possible because the success of the company is directly tied to the success of the hotel industry.

In this vein, Benoit Joil, VP of lodging product at Expedia, pointed out that 85 percent of hotels still do not take advantage of revenue-management tools, placing them at a major disadvantage when it comes time to push rate and maximize profit. The company’s Rev+ tool, which can be accessed through the Expedia Partner Portal, launched earlier this year as part of a bid to improve the industry’s revenue-management landscape, with Vivek Bhogaraju, director of revenue management solutions at Expedia, referring to revenue management as a team sport.

Get the full story at Hotel Management

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/expedia_partner_conference_stresses_partnership_innovation_and_a_hyperlocal

Expedia vows to disrupt the hotel revenue management sector

December 08, 2017

Speaking at this week’s annual Expedia Partner Conference in Las Vegas where over 4,000 delegates have gathered mostly from hotels, Benoit Jolin, vice president global product said it has the ambition to “build a truly global revenue management tool”.

He said today only 15% of hotels on the planet rely on revenue management technology to run their properties and Expedia wanted to create a system that achieves widespread adoption.

“Let’s see if we can take our revenue management platform to the next level to make it easier and more streamlined for you to use it on a regular basis,” said Jolin.

Get the full story at Travolution

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/expedia_vows_to_disrupt_the_hotel_revenue_management_sector

Booking.com marketing chief on its strategy for China

December 08, 2017

At the TravelDaily Conference held in September, Priceline CEO Glenn Fogel mentioned that “If you want to be successful in China, you absolutely have to be localized”. Rijvers believes otherwise:

“I think it’s maybe even not about localization. It’s more about re-invention. Localization almost feels like you take something which is already good, but you need to adapt it to a different realm, and I actually don’t know if that’s true. There are so many things which are very interestingly either better or different in China compared to the rest of the world.

I think Chinese consumers are very critical. Chinese consumers have very high standards when it comes to service expectations ­– the execution speed expectation, and the price expectation.”

Get the full story at Tnooz

Read also "Booking.com seeks a slice of China’s booming domestic tourism market"

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/booking.com_marketing_chief_on_its_strategy_for_china

GBTA unveils all-new digital platform at gbta.org

December 08, 2017

“In today’s world, there are an increasing number of factors that influence the global business travel industry,” said Michael W. McCormick, GBTA executive director and COO. “As always, but especially in today’s landscape, GBTA remains the go-to source for information, trends, and news in the global business travel industry. Whether it is to connect and network with other business travel professionals from around the world, to access business travel research or reports, to discover best practices and tools to improve your career, or to stay up to date on the latest travel industry trends, the GBTA website is the hub of relevant information.”

The new gbta.org will improve the online user experience by providing:

- Access to GBTA content from any device anywhere

. A powerful search tool will let you access the content you want across all GBTA properties with ease and speed

. Easy to follow navigation that will lead you to the information you want in just one click

- Quick access to tools and research that make you better at your job including RFPs, Benchmarking tools and the latest industry trends

- More visible ways for travel suppliers to feature your brand in front of travel buyers and decision makers

GBTA is excited to launch this true team effort that relied heavily on the input of members to ensure the best possible user experience. With its new features, gbta.org is now an even stronger support system for our members and visitors to the site alike.

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/gbta_unveils_all_new_digital_platform_at_gbta.org

Koddi buys hotel ad tech division from Criteo

December 08, 2017

In October 2016, Criteo bought HookLogic, which does performance marketing, in a $250 million deal.

HookLogic has primarily helped retailers buy sponsored listings for consumer products such as shoes, smartphones, and bags, across its network of retail commerce sites and apps. It had raised around $40 million in venture funding from firms like Bain Capital Ventures.

Criteo is only passing to Koddi its non-core hotel-focused services and employees. Criteo retains HookLogic’s retail-focused business.

Get the full story at Skift

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/koddi_buys_hotel_ad_tech_division_from_criteo

How consumer behaviour and travel technology are changing each other

December 08, 2017

Without hope of a definitive answer it’s much easier to say they have affected each other significantly, but at different times and in different ways.

Over time there has been a shift from technology leading consumers to consumers leading technology.

Here’s the big picture view as we see it…

Get the full story at SiteMinder

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/how_consumer_behaviour_and_travel_technology_are_changing_each_other

Chakela Hotels and Resorts selects Sabre as strategic technology and distribution partner

December 08, 2017

Under the landmark agreement, Chakela – which consist of 104 member hotels and resorts – will use the Sabre SynXis Central Reservations System as their distribution solution. The group will also enjoy the benefits of Sabre’s advanced technology solutions to streamline its operations and grow its footprint globally.

Sabre’s full range of digital and analytics services are among the solutions Chakela can use to identify opportunities for revenue and guest experience improvements – thanks to actionable insights. The SynXis Business Travel Solutions for corporate contracting complete the solutions, which will help Chakela improve efficiency and reduce complexities and costs.

“Our objective is to continue to grow Chakela in Africa, and throughout the rest of the world, and Sabre’s innovative technology will help us achieve this,” said Steven Bagg, managing director of Chakela. “Sabre invests significantly in its technology and is able to scale quickly to meet the needs of a growing business. It also demonstrates a deep understanding of local needs while having a global reach, making it the right partner for us.”

With its SynXis Central Reservation System, SynXis Booking Engine and Call Center solutions, Sabre will support Chakela’s growth by helping capture more bookings through its direct channels, as well as leverage the power of Global Distribution System (GDS) and other third-party distribution channels via the Sabre travel marketplace.

“The hospitality industry in Africa has grown rapidly in recent years, and travelers have a burgeoning appetite for new tools such as mobile services and social media,” said Richard Wiegmann, managing director and CCO EMEA at Sabre Hospitality Solutions. “Every year we invest in developing and delivering innovative technology that helps hotels accelerate their business, grow local partnerships, and enhance guest experience. We understand how important it is for Chakela to expand its distribution technology, and we are looking forward to helping it grow its business with our best-in-class solutions.”

Sabre Hospitality Solutions currently has more than 36,000 hotels leveraging its technology to power distribution, reservations, property management, retailing and guest experience solutions.

Related Link: Sabre Hospitality Solutions

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/chakela_hotels_and_resorts_selects_sabre_as_strategic_technology_and_distri

Is Expedia stepping into metasearch territory?

December 07, 2017

Alongside directly-contracted hotels, the site lists rates from other OTAs, agencies, and wholesalers.

Though these rates are provided by third parties, the Ctrip customer has no visibility over who they’re booking with at the point of purchase. The actual vendor is only listed in the fine print of the booking confirmation sent after the fact - where it would read, for example, ‘booking purchased through Ctrip via Amoma.’

At Buy Tourism Online's event in Florence recently, Booking.com's Peter Verhoeven suggested that they too were looking to take a different approach in China than the pure OTA model they operate in the US and Europe. It seemed a fairly good indication that the Priceline subsidiary is considering operating more like a metasearch engine than a straightforward OTA in some markets.

Get the full story at Triptease

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/is_expedia_stepping_into_metasearch_territory

Expedia reveals key travel insights at Partner Conference

December 07, 2017

New generational data released by Expedia® Media Solutions, the advertising arm of Expedia, Inc., reveals that when planning a trip, American, British and Chinese travelers prioritize trip activities, once in a lifetime and cultural experiences above all else. Presented today by Global Senior Director Wendy Olson Killion during the Expedia Media Solutions Insights Summit at the Expedia Partner Conference, the findings, from a survey conducted by Northstar Research Partners, illustrate broad travel trends and distinct shopping habits, influences and motivations of American, British and Chinese travelers across four generations, including Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers.

“Emotions, not dollars, are what drive decisions for most travelers today,” said Olson Killion. “The study revealed that for travelers from three of the largest global markets – China, the U.S. and U.K. – activities and experiences are leading priorities, ahead of deals and lowest price. The data also showed that travelers are receptive to ads with appealing imagery and informative content, illustrating a real opportunity for marketers to align their content with traveler interests to spur consideration.”

While priorities are somewhat similar across countries and generations, travel days and penchant for internal or domestic trips vary. In the U.S. and China, Millennials travel the most, with 35 travel days per year, while in the U.K., Baby Boomers out-travel other generations with 31 days per year. Conversely, British Gen Z travel the least, racking up only 21 total travel days per year. British travelers are most likely to go abroad, while American and Chinese travelers are more likely to explore their own vast countries.

Trip Types & Travel Logistics

- Across all generations, British and Chinese travelers opt for relaxing and sightseeing vacations. In the U.S., Millennials and Gen X are most likely to take relaxing trips, while the youngest and oldest generations are taking trips to visit family.

- Nearly 60 percent or more of all travelers get to their destination by plane. Road trips are the secondary transportation option in the U.S. and U.K., and train travel is also popular in China and the U.K.

- Hotels are the number one accommodation option for the majority of travelers in these countries, with more than 60 percent staying at a hotel. Although still small in comparison, Gen Z are the generation most likely to stay in alternative accommodations.

Planning Priorities

- Across all generations, trip activities are priority number one for American and British travelers, followed closely by once in a lifetime experiences for American travelers and cultural experiences for British travelers.

- Chinese Gen Z and Millennials prioritize feeling pampered during their vacation, while trip activities top the list for Gen X and Baby Boomers.

- American and British travelers – particularly Baby Boomers and Gen X – place more importance on deals and special offers than Chinese travelers, who are more likely to prioritize the social elements of travel, such as the food experience and going somewhere they can vacation with friends.

Budget Basics

- More than 80 percent of Chinese travelers and at least 65 percent of American and British travelers said budget was a primary factor when planning a trip.

- All travelers allocated the largest portion of their travel budget to hotels—more than 30 percent for British travelers—and at 20 percent, flights were the second largest line item for American and British travelers.

- Chinese travelers allocated more of their budget to shopping (16 percent) and attractions or tours (15 percent) than travelers from other countries.

Destination Decisions & Booking Resources

- Travelers can be destination indecisive; fewer than half have decided on a destination when they begin planning a trip.

- Younger generations are consistently the most open to inspiration; nearly 80 percent of British Gen Z travelers are deciding between multiple destinations or don’t have a destination in mind.

- Baby Boomers are the most decisive – nearly 55 percent from the U.S. and China have already decided on a destination.

- Online travel agencies (OTAs) and search engines are leading planning resources for all travelers, and as the leading booking resource, OTAs convert the most travelers.

Advertising Influences

- Approximately half of all travelers, and more than 70 percent of Chinese Millennials, said ads with appealing imagery can be influential.

- Ads with informative content are most likely to influence younger Chinese travelers and older American and British travelers.

- American and British travelers, especially younger generations, are most likely to be influenced by advertising with appealing deals.

More Marketing Insights

For more findings and insights that marketers can leverage to better reach, engage and convert travelers, and to view additional content from the Expedia Media Solutions Insights Summit, please visit: http://bit.ly/multi-national-travelers

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/expedia_reveals_key_travel_insights_at_partner_conference

Facebook wants to get more like Google in identifying traveler intent

December 07, 2017

But big spenders such as the Priceline Group and Expedia have yet to commit to Facebook in such a big way.

These major online travel agencies work closely with Facebook, but have said in the past that Facebook isn’t answering their needs in the way that Google does when it comes to travel advertising.

Facebook chief marketing officer Gary Briggs on Tuesday conceded that Google’s advertising funnel — not just for travel — is a little narrower than Facebook’s. What he meant was that Google can often identify consumer buying intent more easily than Facebook can because Google is closer to the buying decision in e-commerce.

Get the full story at Skift

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/facebook_wants_to_get_more_like_google_in_identifying_traveler_intent

Using gamification to upsell hotel rooms

December 07, 2017

Selling room upgrades is a vital tactic for generating incremental revenue and filling unused inventory. Most websites that I’ve visited attempt to outline the advantages of better rooms, be it through size, view, bed type, floor level, amenities or a combination of these elements.

But once the consumer purchases a specific room type, how do you entice them to spend a little extra to get something even better than what they’ve already confirmed? While there’s the age-old approach of prompting them either through a pre-arrival email or phone call, or once they are physically at the front desk, many hotels are trying something new.

Several chains now utilize programs that immediately offer all confirmed reservations a standby upgrade rate, typically at a discount versus the full upgraded cost. These programs can be quite effective in generating further revenue from participants. After all, ten bucks more for that better room (versus double that on the rate card) is better than nothing at all.

Get the full story at Hotel Online

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/using_gamification_to_upsell_hotel_rooms

Digital transformation shifts funding from IT to marketing

December 07, 2017

Those are the findings from a recent study from Cowen and Company, conducted by Qualtrics, which surveyed US senior marketers in September and October.

A majority of respondents said that, because of digital, they see a shift in dollars being reallocated from IT budgets—which come from the traditional CIO's office—to marketing and advertising budgets, overseen by CMOs. Of that group, 43% said that shift was accelerating.

Digital isn't the only thing driving marketing tech investment. Over the past year, more marketers have invested in the technology by adding to their existing marketing tech stack.

Get the full story at eMarketer

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/digital_transformation_shifts_funding_from_it_to_marketing

Google rolling out hotel price slider

December 07, 2017

Google seems to be rolling out hotel price sliders to local packs in mobile and desktop search.

Google started testing the feature in mobile search in June, and added desktop to the test in October.

Google added price sliders to the local finder in August, and now seems to be taking it a step further by adding the feature to local packs as well.

Get the full story at Search Engine Roundtable and Sergey Alakov

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/google_rolling_out_hotel_price_slider

Hotels need tailored messaging to reach guests

December 07, 2017

By reviewing the language used in reviews and consumer-generated content, hotels can find a wealth of information to help identify and then target their consumers.


The team from King’s Business School, part of King’s College London, analysed a big data set of more than 250,000 online reviews for more than 25,000 hotels in 16 countries. The study found there were 19 controllable factors vital for hotels to manage in their interactions with visitors. These included checking in and out, communication, comfort, room experience and accommodating pets.

Different factors were important for different star ratings, with five-star guests more concerned with comfort, while room experience and communication were basic requirements at a one-star level.

Get the full story at Duetto

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/hotels_need_tailored_messaging_to_reach_guests

Promote your hotel before it opens

December 07, 2017

1. Have a Website or Landing Page

What good would promoting your fantastic new property be if you don’t have anywhere to drive traffic? If you have no way to collect information for future communications?

Setting up a website or, at minimum, a well thought out landing page is the very first step in promoting your new property. You might not have every single detail ironed out with room layouts or amenity offerings – and that’s fine. But, as soon as you have enough information related to your hotel’s concept, go ahead and secure your domain and set up your website.

The first iteration of your hotel or resort website should be designed with consistent branding and messaging that will be featured throughout your other marketing collateral. This can evolve over time, but consistency is key when using multiple channels to generate awareness and drive interest.

Get the full story at Fuel

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/promote_your_hotel_before_it_opens

Amadeus taps Expedia for hotel bookings

December 06, 2017

Travel sellers who take advantage of EAN’s competitive rates and availabilities through Amadeus Hotels will also benefit from a fully automated process, saving them time and money: from searching, to booking and to invoicing, the information is automatically transferred.

Some key benefits for travel sellers include:

A travel itinerary with all the details. Each booking generates a PNR (Passenger Name Record). This makes it simpler for travel sellers to consolidate all of the traveller’s hotel details plus flight, car rental, and other associated travel in one itinerary. This way, for example, corporate customers can easily track their business travellers and help them stay safe.

A variety of payment options means greater flexibility. Amadeus offers travel sellers multiple payment methods including pre-payment, post-payment via agency or traveller credit card, credit line, bank transfer, voucher, and more. This ensures travel sellers have greater flexibility in booking EAN’s rates and availabilities and that the hotel is paid as quickly as possible.

Fully automated process from searching to reporting: With Amadeus’ fully integrated technology, travel sellers booking EAN’s rates and availabilities will only need to input the booking details once. The information will go straight to the accounting department and the invoice will be issued directly to the customer, facilitating the commission reconciliation process and ensuring quick payment. The integration of business intelligence platforms will make sure each booking is tracked and analysed so travel sellers can make the best decisions for their customers and gain maximum profits and rewards for their business.

Alfonso Paredes, Vice President of Sales, EMEA and LATAM, EAN brand says: “Travel sellers connected to Amadeus will now be able to offer their travellers competitive rates and availabilities at more than 350,000 properties worldwide. Amadeus is a trusted technology partner for the travel industry, and we are excited to partner with them to offer cutting-edge technology and enterprise-class support so that Amadeus can deliver more choice to all travellers.”

Peter Waters, Director of Hotel Distribution at Amadeus says, “Travellers today demand a more personalised offer from travel sellers as they seek unique travel experiences. Having as much content as possible to choose from and reliable systems to process the search and booking is key for our customers. At Amadeus, we are continuously working to make sure we deliver the best results for both these needs. Working in new and innovative ways with market leaders like Expedia Affiliate Network is a testament to this.”

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/amadeus_taps_expedia_for_hotel_bookings

New hotel booking sites take advantage of industry loopholes

December 06, 2017

Splitty: Split rates and room types: Using machine learning through its “Split & Match” technology, Splitty enables travelers to get exclusive rates that are cheaper than both hotels and OTAs. For each hotel search, Splitty looks at millions of combinations of rates and room types within a hotel and then mixes and matches to find the cheapest combination.

Waylo: Predict and secure lower hotel prices: Book a hotel room with up to 75% discount in just one text and three taps. That’s the big claim from California-based startup Waylo, which offers the same price tracking and predictive pricing model as airline counterpart, Hopper.

Bidroom: Closed user group discounts: In an attempt to capitalize on the dissatisfaction towards the OTA rate parity issue, Bidroom has created an entirely closed-group booking system. After paying a membership fee to join its booking community, Bidroom guarantees to find its members a better deal than the OTAs, with the promise of a potential savings of up to 25%.

Get the full story at Travel Tripper

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/new_hotel_booking_sites_take_advantage_of_industry_loopholes

CB Insights: Mapping the state of travel tech

December 06, 2017

Investors have poured over $10B into travel tech across 1,000+ deals since 2013, and new technologies like AI and blockchain are already impacting travel booking, pricing, and more.

In this briefing, we’ll dive into:

- What’s driving growth in travel tech deals, and where top investors and corporations are placing their bets
- How activity in Europe and Asia compares to the US
- Emerging startup segments to watch: luxury travel, connected luggage, and more
- How artificial intelligence and blockchain will impact the traveler experience

Watch the recorded briefing at CB insights or download the presentation at CB Insights (PDF 13.5 MB)

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/cb_insights_mapping_the_state_of_travel_tech

Inside Airbnb’s Russian money-laundering problem

December 06, 2017

Scammers are leveraging Airbnb to launder dirty cash from stolen credit cards, according to posts on underground forums and cybersecurity researchers consulted by The Daily Beast.

The news shows how fraudsters will seize any opportunity they can, especially when there is an opening for pushing cash through online services, which sometimes require relatively little effort, a computer, and just a bit of creativity.

The Daily Beast found a number of recent posts on several Russian-language crime forums, in which users were looking for people to collaborate with to abuse Airbnb’s service. According to Rick Holland, VP of strategy from cybersecurity firm Digital Shadows, these operations rely on an individual or group using legitimate or stolen Airbnb accounts to request bookings and make payments to their collaborating Airbnb host. The host then sends back a percentage of the profits, despite no one staying in the property.

Get the full story at The Daily Beast

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/inside_airbnbs_russian_money_laundering_problem

Ancillary revenue: How airlines optimize total revenue

December 06, 2017

Airlines have been early adopters of cutting-edge revenue-management (RM) technologies since the 1970s. They were among the first companies to use dynamic inventory pricing, and some of the forecasting and inventory-management models they introduced in the 1980s and 1990s - including sequential upgrades to forecasting and optimization engines and the expanded use of fare restrictions, or fences - represented the vanguard of advanced analytics at the time. These and other RM tactics successfully clustered customers according to their key attributes; for example, they distinguished the occasional leisure vacationers from the weekly business travelers. This clustering generated significant additional revenue and contributed significantly to the growth and success of the airline industry.

To date, airlines have focused mostly on how to price core tickets. However, this approach ignores a recent, fundamental industry change: an increasing percentage of revenue now comes from ancillary items such as checked baggage, onboard food, premium seat selection, and extra legroom. Given the growing importance of ancillary sales, airlines cannot continue simply to tweak their existing RM strategies and models expecting to optimize total revenue. Instead, airlines must optimize total revenue by taking attribute-level customization a step further. They have an opportunity to adopt bundling tactics, product-suggestion analytics, and dynamic pricing to create customized recommendations for additional purchases, both at the original point of sale and over the course of the travel journey. These tactics are already employed by other industries (notably online retail), and with the increasing power of advanced analytics, airlines can profile customers in ways not possible just a few years ago.

To move toward the next frontier of optimized total RM, airline industry leaders must overcome significant complicating organizational factors. For instance, RM departments at most airlines are siloed from other departments, such as sales and marketing, which hinders their ability to collect and wield the customer data needed to optimize total revenue. In addition, few airlines employ data scientists, which prevents them from harnessing the latest advanced analytics tools to create cutting-edge predictive and prescriptive revenue-optimization models. If airlines work to address these shortcomings, we estimate they could reap a 5 to 10 percent improvement in total revenue. To achieve this goal, however, airlines must act soon, and they must develop these capabilities in-house. If they wait along with all the other airlines for RM systems providers to innovate on their behalf, they will lose their chance at a competitive edge. In an era when optimization of distinct processes and departments has met its ceiling, this opportunity is too big to pass up.

Get the full story at McKinsey & Company

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/ancillary_revenue_how_airlines_optimize_total_revenue

Five ways to improve your hotel website conversion rate

December 06, 2017

Koddi looked at multiple hotel sites to gather data on some of the ideal practices to improve conversion rates for bookings.

Below are five best practices we found amongst landing pages with high conversion rates:

1. Minimize clicks to book – We found sites with the highest conversion rates had the lowest amounts of clicks to bookings. These sites averaged two clicks to book–one to chose the room and one to confirm the reservation. Limiting the number of clicks and pages a user has to go through to confirm a booking on your site, can help to ensure there is little reason for a user to drop out of your funnel.

2. Easy to change date and guest filters – Once the user is on your landing page, you want to make sure it is easy for them to update the date or number of guests for the booking. Some best practices we have seen are clear sections at the top or side of the landing page. This gives the user the ability to easily see other pricing options for different dates without leaving your site.

Get the full story at Koddi

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/five_ways_to_improve_your_hotel_website_conversion_rate

Your holiday SEO checklist

December 06, 2017

It is important that your hotel website takes this into consideration and ensures it will be present and ready for the holiday rush.

Whilst seasonal SEO is a highly debated topic, there is a lot of merit in making sure your site is optimized for the season. The season is fleeting, and it takes time for your optimization efforts to be noticed and taken into consideration, so why go through the trouble?

True, proper SEO can be time-consuming and laborious, and your whole index and ranking won’t change overnight thanks to a few mentions of Santa on your homepage. That said, there is a good chance that if you put the work in, you’ll be able to give yourself the upper hand over competition and increase both your visibility and traffic this Christmas.

Get the full story at Net Affinity

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/your_holiday_seo_checklist

Keep your edge online and off: how top UK hotel operator uses guest intelligence tech

December 06, 2017

As Mat Charity, Commercial Manager, explains, “Before, if you upset a customer, they would just tell a friend. Now, if you upset a customer, they will put it up on Facebook and put it up on TripAdvisor and the exposure is so vast that I think a hotel not taking it seriously is really at risk of having their brand damaged.”

In 2014, the Coaching Inn Group was still using comment cards to collect feedback. These weren’t helping them to get positive results online, and having a member of staff tied up for hours on end trawling review sites for online feedback wasn’t practical.

“We had to source reviews from the individual review platforms while also trying to compile guest comment cards from the individual hotels,” says David Campbell, Operations Director. “Bringing them back centrally into a platform was just too cumbersome.”

Get the full story at GuestRevu

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/keep_your_edge_online_and_off_how_top_uk_hotel_operator_uses_guest_intellig

Expedia targets U.S. MICE industry

December 05, 2017

The technology can accelerate and simplify an expensive and historically time-consuming RFP process for small-to-medium-sized meetings and events, and enable hotels to answer RFPs approximately 20 times faster.

The MICE market is perfectly positioned and primed for technology-led disruption. It represents a $400 billion global industry accounting for $121 billion in direct travel expenditures, with four out of every 10 dollars spent on business travel in the U.S. attributable to the MICE market. It’s also an industry that is led by small meetings, typically fewer than 25 participants2, which is a segment ripe for automation and digitization. Despite this, a significant portion of MICE business is done through an inefficient, manual and labor-intensive RFP process. Expedia’s MICE booking solution is a first-of-its-kind automated technology solution that can enable U.S. hotels to maximize the potential for their meeting and event spaces, while managing and growing meetings and events revenue through process efficiency, and can increase MICE sales prospects. By automating the MICE planning and booking process for smaller meetings, hotel sales managers can focus their time and effort on larger or more complex, and higher margin RFPs, and help to maximize revenue.

The Expedia MICE booking engine allows meeting and event planners to instantly search, price, configure and book meeting space online, including any AV, equipment and catering needs, as well as group lodging. Hotels can leverage the white label technology solution for one or hundreds of properties. Integrated revenue management tools can link up to a hotel’s property management system to enable hotels to adjust their meeting and group prices dynamically to help increase revenue. This can be based on multiple dynamic factors tailored to the individual hotel’s requirements, including seasonality, day of the week, room type, and number of participants.

“MICE is a massive market and growing opportunity for hotels, but there has never been a scalable or effective solution for hotels to manage and grow meetings and events revenue and bookings online,” said Felix Undeutsch, head of MICE, the Expedia group. “Our MICE technology solution was designed specifically to address a pain point for our hotel partners, as well as automate a traditionally frustrating process for meeting planners. With our technology-driven, test and learn culture, MICE booking efficiency and online automation is an industry issue we’re excited to tackle.”

Rolled out first in Germany with select hotel partners, initial results from the test period with Best Western Hotels Central Europe have shown a significant improvement in the RFP process. The technology moved the quote response time from an average of five hours to an average of just 14 minutes, from initial request to the quote being sent to the customer. The solution has now rolled out with additional chain partners and independent hotels throughout EMEA and APAC, and partner discussions are well underway with U.S. chains.

“Initial results back from our test period in Germany show that the quote generator enables us to answer RFPs about 20 times faster. The manual process takes about five hours on average for the customer to receive a quote. With the automated process, we can decrease the average response time to just 14 minutes on average” says Marina Christensen, Director Sales & Marketing Corporate, MICE and Group Travel, Best Western Hotels Central Europe, Eschborn/Germany

Expedia’s MICE online booking engine is part of the Expedia Powered Technology toolkit, which puts Expedia technology expertise to work for hotel partners, bringing tested and proven solutions to market to impact their bottom line.

For more information about Expedia’s MICE technology, please visit www.expediameetings.solutions

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/expedia_targets_u.s._mice_industry

Airbnb, Expedia execs answer 10 pressing questions

December 05, 2017

1. Is your company a friend or foe to the hotel industry?

Airbnb's Shawn Sullivan: “I think at the end of the day we are definitely competition. We want to get to the point where everyone feels as comfortable as they can be with us … that we are on level playing field, which is why we do work with governments to collect different taxes. We do work with governments on regulations. We do allow boutique hoteliers onto our platform, which is something new for us. We now have more than 15,000 boutique hotels around the world on Airbnb. What Airbnb is a reflection of is consumer demand. People more and more want local experiences, they want unique experiences, and they want to get to know the places that they’re traveling to. There’s nothing that says hotels can’t do the same thing—they just need to do it. So in a way, as a free-market person … I actually think competition is good, and it’s the consumer that will win when this all settles out.”

Expedia's Hari Nair: “The world is evolving … and we look at ourselves as a channel. When customers come to (Expedia), we are sending them to destinations, and we are sending them to your properties. We don’t kidnap and hijack and send them nowhere—we send them to your places. We look at ourselves as marketers …. Consumers—there are lots of them, who are very clear about wanting to go and stay with a certain brand—want a choice. … Our relationships with destinations and hotel companies, have been changing and evolving over time. We see ourselves as a technology company, and as result of that there are three key areas that hotel companies love to tap into: our data, our marketing platforms and our technology platforms.

Get the full story at HNN

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/airbnb_expedia_execs_answer_10_pressing_questions

Hotels offer perks if you book direct. But should you?

December 05, 2017

Travelers like Tom Harriman want to know. He recently found a hotel in Miami Beach, Fla., that offered to waive its mandatory $25-a-night resort fee and upgrade his room -- if he would book direct instead of through an online travel agency.

Weighing the value of a travel agent -- and especially an online travel agency -- against the benefits of a direct booking may make the choice look like a no-brainer. But there are risks and some long-term effects you should consider before bidding your agent adieu.

"We’ve certainly seen a trend of hotels increasingly using perks, guarantees, and advertising to encourage more direct booking and wrestle business back from the online travel agencies," says Daniel Guttentag, the director of the Office of Tourism Analysis at the College of Charleston. The reason is simple. Direct bookings allow a hotel to keep more money because it doesn't have to pay commissions to an agent.

Get the full story at Nation Now

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/hotels_offer_perks_if_you_book_direct_but_should_you

Inbound travel to the U.S. dropped in first half of 2017

December 05, 2017

March had the steepest decline for overseas travel at 11 percent, while May experienced the most dramatic drop for international travel at 8.5 percent. April was the only the month in the first half of the year that did not experience declines in both measures.

Both overseas and international travel to the U.S. have deteriorated since April 2016, when they fell 4.8 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively, compared to 2015 rates. In the first half of 2016, there was a 2.4 percent decrease in international travel to the U.S. but no change for overseas travel. By the end of the 2016, however, overseas travel had fallen 2.1 percent and international travel declined 2.4 percent compared to 2015 full-year numbers.

The numbers correlate with the U.S. Travel Association's Travel Trends Index for 2017, which incorporates NTTO's data with other travel data sources. Like NTTO's data, the index showed reduced inbound international travel to the U.S. in the first half of 2017, with the exception of April. The index forecasts decreases through the end of 2017.

Get the full story at BTN

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/inbound_travel_to_the_u.s._dropped_in_first_half_of_2017

Making sense of the blockchain blur in travel

December 05, 2017

Speaking at EyeforTravel’s digital strategies event in Amsterdam this week, Joerg Esser a theoretical physicist, former group director at Thomas Cook and now partner at consultancy Roland Berger, outlined the essence of blockchain technology:

“Blockchain is a decentralised database, with inherent governance that, in the main, allows one to scale trust.”

Esser, who has been working with Lufthansa’s sales teams to better understand the implications of the technology, also stresses that it is important to distinguish between public and private blockchains, which is where some of this ‘blur’ arises.

Claiming to be the only ‘public permissionless’ blockchain for the travel industry’, Winding Tree has signed partnership agreements with Lufthansa and Air New Zealand, and is talking to hotels, including some major chains, with at least one announcement expected soon.

Get the full story at Tnooz

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/making_sense_of_the_blockchain_blur_in_travel

Booking.com doubles support for startups

December 05, 2017

Building on its successful launch in 2017, today Booking.com, one of the world's largest e-commerce companies and digital technology leader, is announcing the 2018 Booking Booster Programme, a three-week accelerator in Amsterdam for social enterprise scale-ups in sustainable tourism. In addition to the €2 million in grants awarded through Booking Booster, the company is also announcing its plans to further expand its efforts to support organisations and individuals throughout the broader sustainable tourism industry with two new initiatives for a total of more than €4 million in support available in 2018.

The first new programme is the Booster Labs, a series of short, regionally-focussed weekend programmes that are slated to run globally throughout 2018, dedicated to giving early-stage startups in sustainable tourism the insights, tools and skills they need to grow and increase their impact. The second new initiative is the Booking Cares Fund, a separate €2 million grant programme to champion individual non-profit changemakers in sustainable tourism and support their search for new and unexpected solutions to strengthen local communities, preserve and promote culture, protect natural resources and spread tourism activities more evenly.

Booking Booster, the new Booster Labs and the Booking Cares Fund sit alongside Booking.com's internal volunteer programme, Booking Cares, where employees have long partnered with local organisations on projects that help improve destinations worldwide.

Get the full story at Booking.com

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/booking.com_doubles_support_for_startups

How to leverage the impact of ‘The Billboard Effect’

December 05, 2017

1. Treat OTAs like dating sites. Match.com connects people with one another just like OTAs connect customers with hotels. As such, a hotel’s OTA profiles must be consistent and attractive. Don’t save your best images and content just for your website. Use them on OTAs as well.

2. Engage visitors on your website. In a perfect world, every visitor to a hotel’s website would convert to a booking. But this isn’t a perfect world and if a visitor comes to a hotel’s website and leaves before taking action, the hotel has wasted a very valuable opportunity. To boost visitor engagement, hotels must offer interesting and relevant content. This can be done through a blog, videos, photos or through discounts offered by way of partnerships with local businesses.

3. Retarget non-converting visitors. If a visitor does leave before booking, hotels can remarket or retarget with tailored offers and promotions according to the personal preferences of the visitor across sites like Facebook or Google.

Get the full story at Duetto

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/how_to_leverage_the_impact_of_the_billboard_effect

UK’s esa serviced apartments partners with STAAH

December 05, 2017

The company will be using STAAH’s cloud-based Instant Channel Manager and ConvertDirect Booking Engine to power its online growth.

Among esa’s portfolio are stylish serviced apartments, corporate housing and relocation solutions. It already has more than 300 apartments across the South of England and an additional 90,000 partner properties worldwide through its network. As the company grows its client base, including blue chip companies, national accommodation agencies and global relocation services, it was seeking a powerful technology for its next phase of expansion.

Get the full story at STAAH

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/uks_esa_serviced_apartments_partners_with_staah

OTAs lead in customer engagement, can hotels still catch up?

December 01, 2017

Today’s hotels, OTAs, and other hospitality technology companies are competing fiercely with one goal in mind - to own and control the guest experience during travel.

Klaus Kohlmayr, dubbed “Chief Evangelist” for IDeaS Revenue Solutions, says that OTAs and other technology companies are leveraging technology to make the guest experience much more seamless and efficient. “The risk is that hotels believe they can win on [human] engagement, but they’re not fast enough to catch up to the technology that’s already evolving,” he explains.

Kohlmayr sat down with LODGING at the 2017 Phocuswright Conference to discuss this high-tech, high-touch approach to guest engagement, and what it means for hoteliers across the industry.

Get the full story at Lodging

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/otas_lead_in_customer_engagement_can_hotels_still_catch_up

Hotels need startups more than ever

December 01, 2017

The pool of opportunities for startups is endless and they need to cover the entire spectrum, from getting guests to certain hotels to making their stay a memorable one.

Efficiency comes on different levels and aspects. It touches the entire hotel experience, from having quicker check-in processes, more advanced in-room hardwares, guest apps, robot clerks, voice-activated rooms and more.

Startups may not need to reinvent the wheel but identify the cracks that need to be filled. Hotels on the other hand must facilitate the barrier to entry for startups.

Get the full story at Wamda

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/hotels_need_startups_more_than_ever

How AI will change corporate travel management

December 01, 2017

“The data you can get from AI is great for transparency, but it can be overwhelming,” he said at this years GBTA Europe conference. “That’s another way the technology can help - it sorts all this data to find the relevant information to assist suppliers in making the right recommendations to travellers. In turn, this data can only help travel managers design better policies and programmes.”

When asked how their own companies are currently using AI, Karen Hutchinson, global travel, meetings and events leader at EY said the automated processes are helping EY keep on top of corporate card payments.

“We’re able to chase payment to avoid fees and extra charges. It’s also helping us book smarter; if the system detects that an employee is booked into a meeting in another city but they haven’t arranged their travel, we can send them a notification encouraging them to book early so they can save a bit of money.”

Get the full story at Buying Business Travel

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/how_ai_will_change_corporate_travel_management

Direct bookings continue despite safety fears

December 01, 2017

Around two-thirds of business travellers admit that not booking through preferred channels can make it more difficult for their organisation to contact them in an emergency.

A survey entitled How Traveller Booking Behaviour Impacts Safety, conducted by GBTA and Concur, found that 66 per cent of UK business travellers agreed that booking outside their TMC or online booking tool (OBT) could affect their safety as it could make locating and contacting them more difficult.

But despite this, around 70 per cent of travellers still booked outside the corporate booking channels at least once in the past year.

Get the full story at Buying Business Travel

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/direct_bookings_continue_despite_safety_fears

Amazon wants more hotels to provide Alexa voice-powered services

December 01, 2017

Since January, properties franchised or belonging to nearly all of the major U.S. flagship brands have tested the Echo Dots, including Marriott and Wynn Resorts.

Best Western has experimented with the devices at about a dozen properties. At Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace, the Echo device greets guests on arrival in the room. Guests can ask it for services like more towels or ask it for the hotel’s recommendations on places to dine locally by cuisine and time of day.

Hotels work with third-party technology providers, not Amazon, to get in control of the replies, such as telling a guest the Wi-Fi password, and actions, such as opening a ticket in a third-party operations system.

Get the full story at Skift

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/amazon_wants_more_hotels_to_provide_alexa_voice_powered_services

Why travel search needs to get better

December 01, 2017

If we search in Alibaba or Amazon and see something we like, there is a high probability that the result is correct and the price is accurate.

Not so in travel.

In travel, we get lots of misleading results. And when the offered results are not available, we’re led to believe we did something wrong or we weren’t fast enough in making the purchase decision.

Get the full story at WIT

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/why_travel_search_needs_to_get_better

The future of revenue management series: Pricing

December 01, 2017

This is the fourth in a series of five videos about the future of revenue management, as moderated by Sherri Kimes, professor of operations management at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration.

The function of revenue management within a hotel organization has evolved significantly since its inception. The proliferation of industry data and channels only solidifies what we’ve already realized: revenue management is in the midst of an analytical tsunami.

So, what’s next on the pricing horizon?

Get the full story at IDeaS

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/the_future_of_revenue_management_series_pricing

What other industries can teach hotels about price optimization

December 01, 2017

In fact, pricing optimization, where the price for an item or service is set to maximize revenue, was invented by the airline industry. They were the first industry to set their prices for a certain ticket based on the demand. For example, if the demand for a particular flight is high, the number of economy seats will decrease, whereas a flight that’s lower in demand would have more budget options.

Dan Skodol, Vice President of Revenue Analytics at Rainmaker, says that while the airline industry isn’t as differentiated as hospitality, “There are parallels with understanding your business segments. For example, in both cases, leisure travelers are more concerned with price than business travelers. Leisure travelers tend to have more flexibility with the dates and times that they book, so they tend to make their decisions based more on price than other factors. Business travelers are the opposite, since they have to be in certain locations at specific points in time and will therefore pay a premium for that specific option.”

The retail industry employs several pricing optimization strategies across similar products that are easily translatable for hospitality. This is particularly relevant to hospitality since hotel rooms in the same comp set are typically priced very similarly to each other. What factors make a hotel room that’s priced slightly higher than those that are nearly identical more appealing to a potential guest?

Get the full story at Rainmaker

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/what_other_industries_can_teach_hotels_about_price_optimization

Most U.S. consumers still rely on travel agents

November 30, 2017

The report on the “U.S. Digital Traveler” and a companion study on global preferences were discussed at the recent Phocuswright innovation summit in Hollywood, Florida — a gathering of a who’s who of the digital world including top executives from Expedia, Priceline, Trip Advisor, Trivago, and Google’s travel division.

Travelport, which conducted research in more than a dozen countries to produce a full picture of how global consumers feel about digital travel services, found an overwhelming acceptance of these tools in other parts of the world, with China and India the most digitally dependent. At the same time, it found that American travelers are more reluctant to cede the entire process to the computer.

“You still want to go back to that trusted travel adviser you know,” Erika Moore, VP and General Manager-USA for Travelport, said during an onsite interview for Phocuswire. She noted the survey said travel professionals are still used by fully 72 percent of U.S. travelers, regardless of what other technology they may have at their fingertips.

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

Read also "Travelport global survey highlights different digital traveler habits"

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/most_u.s._consumers_still_rely_on_travel_agents

J.D. Power rates guest satisfaction of hotel loyalty programs

November 30, 2017

The study found that overall satisfaction is higher among program members who redeem rewards for dining, product purchases, and special events than among those redeeming rewards for hotel stays alone.

The study measures customer satisfaction by examining four factors in the following order of importance: ease of earning and redeeming rewards (35 percent); program benefits (27 percent); account management (22 percent); and member communication (16 percent). Satisfaction is measured on a 1,000-point scale.

“As loyalty and rewards programs of every type continue to saturate virtually every consumer market, the key to success for hotel loyalty programs is variety of reward offerings,” said Rick Garlick, travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. “Flexibility in how to redeem points and the ease with which customers can redeem those points are the key drivers of customer satisfaction in this space, which makes forming strong partnerships with third-party service providers a priority for hotel loyalty programs.”

Get the full story at Lodging

Read also "Marriott Rewards ranks highest in overall customer satisfaction with hotel loyalty/rewards programs" at J.D. Power (PDF 150 KB)

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/j.d._power_rates_guest_satisfaction_of_hotel_loyalty_programs

Expedia goes all-in at Amazon Web Services

November 30, 2017

As part of a corporate-wide initiative to focus its engineering teams on innovation rather than hardware procurement and datacenter management, Expedia continues to move its 20 years’ worth of core-business workloads, digital properties, mobile applications, and legacy platforms largely from owned datacenters to AWS and will migrate several databases from Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle to Amazon Aurora as part of that process. The travel industry giant chose AWS for its highly scalable infrastructure, unmatched breadth of cloud services, and proven operational expertise.

In 2013, Expedia started leveraging AWS to speed up various large-scale projects, a move that set the stage for its future marketing agreements and, eventually, acquisitions. Expedia could not have integrated and completed one of its first acquisitions in just 91 working days without leveraging AWS for capacity and traffic management. In the last couple of years, Expedia accelerated its cloud migration efforts to move the vast majority of its workloads to AWS. Expedia used AWS’s industry-leading services to build a scalable platform for faster application deployment and has been able to launch more than 4,000 cloud applications with a release velocity of 2,000 deployments a day, on average. In addition, the data science teams for Expedia Worldwide Engineering and Hotels.com are using AWS machine learning services to deploy a variety of modules that add intelligent capabilities to processes such as bidding on search engine marketing, providing post-booking recommendations to travelers, and matching great hotels with great prices for each booked trip.

“We began our cloud journey on AWS with development and test workloads, and experienced so much success that we chose to make an all-in commitment to move our global brands, their websites and digital properties, analytics, mobile applications, and business-critical workloads to AWS,” said Tony Donohoe, Chief Technology Officer at Brand Expedia Group. “We have been able to build new applications and reengineer legacy platforms for optimal performance in the cloud. Before running analytics workloads on AWS, it took us three hours to analyze five days of performance metrics. Now we can analyze seven days of data in 30 seconds – that’s 360 times faster. With this kind of speed, we can quickly gain insights and drive the innovations that our customers expect as they interact with our brands around the world.”

“The travel industry understands that it needs to continually transform consumer experiences to remain competitive and keep their customers engaged,” said Mike Clayville, Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Sales at AWS. “With its strong presence in the market, Expedia clearly understands this. In choosing to go all-in on AWS, the cloud with the broadest and deepest functionality, they are building a culture of inventors who are focused on uncovering new ways to delight travelers that will benefit Expedia well into the future.”

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/expedia_goes_all_in_at_amazon_web_services

Income down but earnings up at eDreams ODIGEO

November 30, 2017

This came as non-flight bookings dropped by 11% due to the sale of the company’s corporate travel and packaged tours businesses.

Overall bookings rose by 3% year-on-year, adjusting for the sale of the business travel and tours arms.

The company estimated the impact of the sale of the corporate travel and packaged tours business to be in the region of 149,000 bookings.

Get the full story at Travolution

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/income_down_but_earnings_up_at_edreams_odigeo

Technology trends in travel: What to expect in 2018

November 30, 2017

Now, it’s all about finding new ways of optimizing the guest journey and making hotels and destinations much more appealing to travelers than they were in the past.

Since we are peaking into a brand new year, let’s get some insights into the technology trends that will impact 2018 the most. After all, the key to success in any business, but especially in hospitality, is to be one step ahead at all times. Make sure that you are prepared for what’s to come and make the most out of what technology throws your way, in order to appeal even more to your guests and make things easier and faster.

From virtual reality to artificial intelligence, we made it our mission to break down the most hyped tech trends of 2018.

Get the full story at TrustYou

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/technology_trends_in_travel_what_to_expect_in_2018

The changing SERP: Understanding and adapting to dynamic search results

November 30, 2017

Consumer search behaviors are changing rapidly. According to a recent report from BrightEdge (disclaimer: my employer), 57 percent of searches now begin with a mobile device, and last year Google revealed that voice search has increased to about 20 percent of all Google mobile search queries.

And of course, Google is constantly adjusting their SERP layout in order to better align with a searcher’s context and expectations. Consumers now expect to see rich content in SERPs that includes not just standard text listings, but video, images, local map results, featured snippets and more. The standard organic listings themselves also sometimes feature rich snippets, which enhance the listing by presenting information in a way that is easy to scan and often visually appealing.

Paid search ads have changed as well — in 2015, Google doubled the size of its highly visual product listing ads (PLAs), and last year they announced that up to four search ads could appear for “highly commercial queries,” whereas previously the maximum had been three. Even if you aren’t involved in paid search, it’s important to keep track of any changes that impact the overall SERP layout and design, as these changes may affect the way users engage with organic listings.

Get the full story at Search Engine Land

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/the_changing_serp_understanding_and_adapting_to_dynamic_search_results

STAAH wins prestigious Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards 2017

November 30, 2017

The Indian Newslink Indian Business Awards were instituted in 2008 to recognise and reward Indian businesses in New Zealand. STAAH won in the Excellence in International Business with India category, which celebrates outstanding growth in sales to customers in India and other global markets outside New Zealand through key operations in India or growth in sales from goods and services imported from India.

STAAH was chosen for its spectacular growth in India and globally since establishment in 2008 and also the industry partnerships established during this time along with technology development, driven by its core research team in India.

A specialist in cloud-based technology that powers the online growth of accommodation providers worldwide, STAAH has seen phenomenal growth in less than a decade of its establishment. Its platform has processed more than 4.6 million room nights across 70 countries around the world through more than 5000 partner properties via its platform. Nearly a fourth of these properties are based in India, making it a key market for current and future growth.

Get the full story at STAAH

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/staah_wins_prestigious_indian_newslink_indian_business_awards_2017

6 ways to use events to increase your bottom line

November 30, 2017

Shoppers nowadays, those browsing online, in particular, demand deals. Studies show there is a rise in oxytocin levels in the brain when receiving a special offer or discount, happiness levels increase and stress levels drop.

This discourages shopping cart abandonment and also creates a positive booking experience, one the customer won’t be put off from repeating in the future.

Check out this infographic for 6 tips for using events to increase your bottom line.

Get the full story at Net Affinity

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/6_ways_to_use_events_to_increase_your_bottom_line

Google Hotels revamps mobile features as its ambitions expand

November 29, 2017

And as the company steps up its efforts in travel-product development, Skift expects Google to further ramp up Google Hotels from both consumer-facing and tech-stack perspectives in a way that has parallels to what it has recently done with Google Flights.

Not everyone is happy with Google parent Alphabet Inc.’s more assertive effort to move from being a research tool to becoming even more of a booking venue

“This is clearly a situation where Google is sucking a lot of profitability out of the travel space, not just for us, but for, frankly, for all the online travel agencies and other online players,” said Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty TripAdvisor Holdings, during an earnings call earlier this month. Maffei’s holding company owns a controlling stake in TripAdvisor, where he serves as chairman.

Get the full story at Skift

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/google_hotels_revamps_mobile_features_as_its_ambitions_expand

Booking.com seeks a slice of China’s booming domestic tourism market

November 29, 2017

Online travel agencies have quickly penetrated the lives of China’s vast young population, who use mobile devices to research options and make reservations when planning their domestic or overseas travel.

“We will invest more into China to make sure that our brand gets more known to Chinese customers,” said Gillian Tans, chief executive of Booking.com, in an interview. “We already have 600 people in China. That’s something we will keep expanding to make sure we can service Chinese people with the right products and marketing.”

Tans said the number of properties, mainly located in top cities, is still small, but the company will seek to increase this by forming more partnerships and hiring more staff to support growth.

“China’s domestic travel is increasing, and that’s why we are building our teams here in China,” Tans said. She declined to disclose an exact investment figure or the targeted number of new hires.

Get the full story at Yahoo!

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/booking.com_seeks_a_slice_of_chinas_booming_domestic_tourism_market

Blockchain for hotel distribution will come down to the economics

November 29, 2017

he bigger opportunity for blockchain platforms could be with the independent pool of global hotel properties. On the whole, this segment is much more dependent on third parties for distribution and also tends to pay a commission premium, due to a lack of bargaining power.

On the high end, independent properties pay as much as 25 percent commission on an online travel agency booking.

Hotels also capture a large share of their travel through direct channels. That includes brand.com websites and corporate contracts. Other channels beyond online travel agency and digital-direct can amount to a significant portion of total bookings.

Get the full story at Skift

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/blockchain_for_hotel_distribution_will_come_down_to_the_economics

Travel agents must ‘stay relevant’ in shifting distribution landscape

November 29, 2017

“We’re making major investments to support our vision for agencies," Amadeus Travel Channels Senior Vice President Decius Valmorbida said in an interview during the recent Phocuswright innovation summit in Florida. “Why agencies are still going to be out there is because they facilitate choice. We feel that is the very essence of what we do and what agencies do.”

To further this goal, Amadeus is developing a new convergence platform that will aggregate airline content from different sources and present it as part of the existing GDS workflow.

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/travel_agents_must_stay_relevant_in_shifting_distribution_landscape

Airbnb launches payment splitting for group trips

November 29, 2017

Airbnb says that 30 percent of reservations booked with the payments splitting tool (which has been in testing), led to one or more new users on Airbnb. So, while this is a useful feature for users, it’s also a growth tool for Airbnb.

On Christmas Day in 2016, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky asked users what features they want most on Airbnb. According to the company, payment splitting was one of the top requests in response to the tweet.

As part of the announcement, Airbnb ran a survey with the help of Pollfish and DKC Analytics speaking to 2000 adults in the U.S. between November 15 and November 18. From that sample, 43 percent of them have lost $1,000 or more in repayments from group trips. Moreover, 18 percent say they’ve lost $10,000 or more from not getting repaid after group trips, and 29 percent have fought with a friend over group trip repayment.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/airbnb_launches_payment_splitting_for_group_trips

Why SEO is getting vertical-specific

November 29, 2017

A couple of years ago, Google revealed it was using AI and machine learning techniques, such as its RankBrain system, to improve search results.

This helps it better understand the intention behind the words that searchers type into the search box, with the ultimate aim of making results more relevant and providing the best possible results for each and every keyword.

This means that anyone trying to do SEO following the same old strategies is going to be left behind by people who are applying specific techniques to meet the requirements of their industry.

Get the full story at Econsultancy

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/why_seo_is_getting_vertical_specific

TravelClick and First Hotels announce exclusive strategic customer relationship

November 29, 2017

This partnership highlights TravelClick’s position as the market’s leading provider for independent hotel chains to optimize their distribution strategy and maximize direct bookings. Earlier this year, TravelClick surged investment in their cloud-based iHotelier Central Reservations System (CRS) to develop a myriad of pricing tools, data-driven integrations and heightened chain-level capabilities to help empower directors of revenue and distribution overseeing hotel groups.

As part of this major investment, TravelClick has innovated its total web-based integrated solution, leveraging its Business Intelligence and Guest Management data. As such, First Hotels will host its official brand loyalty program on TravelClick’s Guest Management Solutions platform and partner with the Company for fully integrated loyalty points redemption on iHotelier Booking Engine 4.0.

“We are impressed by TravelClick’s roadmap, including several recent upgrades, and look forward to the opportunity to shape the products that we will use daily,” said Stephen Meinich-Bache, CEO of First Hotels. “The TravelClick team is supporting us locally with representatives in our region and a dedicated account management and service center in nearby Barcelona. We ultimately chose TravelClick, because they offer the advantages of a local provider as well as the security, stability, investment and scalability of an established industry-leader.

Get the full story at TravelClick

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/travelclick_and_first_hotels_announce_exclusive_strategic_customer_relation

HEBS Digital wins six Silver W3 Awards

November 29, 2017

Now in its twelfth annual year, the W3 Awards recognize creative excellence on the web, including websites, online advertising and marketing, mobile sites and apps, video, and social. HEBS Digital is honored to be included on the list of 2017 award winners.

Innovating hospitality design and technology, HEBS Digital creates revenue-driving websites and marketing creative for its clients that help them continue to shift share away from the OTAs. Each website is backed by the award-winning smartCMS website technology platform, which offers industry-leading merchandising capabilities, Smart Personalization capabilities, Reservation Abandonment Applications, and more.

Get the full story at HEBS Digital

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/hebs_digital_wins_six_silver_w3_awards

Booking.com’s Genius rates land on metasearch

November 28, 2017

Up until now, Booking.com's Genius “damage” was limited. That favourable treatment was limited to discriminating users inside the Booking.com ranking.

But if a metasearch engine publishes the discount comparing it directly with the full rate from other channels, this discrimination extends to all your other clients from other present channels: the most valuable ones and the least valuable ones, whether they are frequent travellers or not. You will be openly proclaiming that you treat “select” clients better, but only those from Booking.com, even better than the “select” clients from your own website.

The answer for your hotel is quite clear: it makes no sense. Not only does it not generate new clients but it also diverts existing ones from another channel -including your website- to Booking.com, with a subsequent increase in costs -plus commission, especially if it was a direct sale- and a guaranteed decrease in income, since the sale is coming in via the Genius rate.

Get the full story at Mirai

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/booking.coms_genius_rates_land_on_metasearch

Why less choice is the new value in travel

November 28, 2017

Choice is the buzzword in travel merchandising. Give travellers choice of where to sit on the plane, whether to check a bag, how much flexibility they have to change their flight, and so on. But, with choice has come considerable new complexity.

Perhaps rather than presenting the menu of choices in a generic way for all – annoying basically everyone with too much choice, with too cumbersome a purchase process, with new levels of anxiety and stress – the presentation of choice needs to be more personalised. This is not personalised pricing; it is personalised choice.

There are many possible approaches to ‘personalised presentation of choice’. In a sense, it is easier than the conventional vision of personalisation since it doesn’t actually require selection of one best alternative. In fact, choosing one alternative runs counter to best practices in e-merchandising. Presenting one alternative, even if it is targeted to the individual traveller needs, takes control back from the customer. Offering multiple alternatives, on the other hand, gives even more control to the customer than too many choices since it can be both targeted (displaying the ‘right’ alternatives for any individual customer) and transparent (fewer choices, each with clear differences and benefits).

Get the full story at EyeForTravel

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/why_less_choice_is_the_new_value_in_travel

Black Friday promotions now vital for travel industry

November 28, 2017

"Cyber Monday is the most popular booking day of the year across our company," said Eric Gavin, chief sales and marketing officer for Salamander Hotels & Resorts. The company has been offering post-Thanksgiving promotions for several years, but Gavin said bookings started to increase substantially at its properties about three years ago.

Camille Olivere, senior vice president of sales at Norwegian Cruise Line, said bookings made in response to Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions are "right up there in the top-performing days that we see throughout the year."

And upscale operator Abercrombie & Kent said it typically sells out of the trips it features during its Cyber Monday holiday sale, which according to Stefanie Schmudde, director of product development and operations, "has proven to be a very successful way of encouraging aspirational travelers to trade up to Abercrombie & Kent."

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/black_friday_promotions_now_vital_for_travel_industry

Style and meaning are necessities for boutique hotels

November 28, 2017

C-suite executives of four of Europe’s most innovative hotel companies spoke recently to explain that being boutique for the sake of it will lead nowhere, that differentiation is key as long as any offering is authentic, and that it is important to make sure authenticity is equably applicable to staff as much as to guests.

The first point the panelists who participated in “Revolutionizing hospitality” at Deloitte’s European Hotel Investment Conference agreed on is that the term “boutique” is flung around far too liberally, but the niche is far from dead as long as brands have a definite vision and purpose.

“There is a feeling among some that boutique is hastily made, and at high (average daily rates), but the idea of bringing luxury into boutique is a game-changer as it will introduce service,” said Christopher Norton, CEO, Equinox Hotels.

Get the full story at HNN

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/style_and_meaning_are_necessities_for_boutique_hotels

Adobe’s high-tech travel industry upgrades

November 28, 2017

Adobe debuted a series of innovations last week that will supply travel companies with advanced analytics and the data management platform, Adobe Audience Manager, that can help them compete with other companies in their field.

The new capabilities include Context-Aware Sessions, Audience Analytics, enhancements to Analysis Workspace, as well as virtual report suite updates for mobile teams.

In addition, the innovations from Adobe enable increased collaboration, provide faster analysis and improve customer intelligence, all of which allows travel brands to derive insight with speed and precision.

Get the full story at TravelPulse

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/adobes_high_tech_travel_industry_upgrades

The Uber CEO who arrived in the US with nothing

November 28, 2017

Then came his most recent job: On August 28, 2017, he became the CEO of Uber.

Khosrowshahi, 49, believes that his background will help him reform Uber’s toxic culture. In contrast to his callously confrontational predecessor, Khosrowshahi understands what it’s like to be an outsider. His own life changed when his family fled the revolutionary forces in Iran in 1978.

Get the full story at Wired

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/the_uber_ceo_who_arrived_in_the_us_with_nothing

Has your hotel overcome these distribution challenges?

November 28, 2017

As travellers become more savvy and demanding, and more intermediaries such as online travel agents (OTAs) enter the field, your hotel must fight a more complex challenge to achieve the right mix of direct and third-party bookings.

An economic downturn, especially in Europe, has only highlighted this by forcing hotels to expand their networks.

It’s important to combat these challenges in a strategic manner, for the sake of revenue and the potential profitability of the property.

Get the full story at SiteMinder

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/has_your_hotel_overcome_these_distribution_challenges

How to use video across the traveler’s path to purchase

November 28, 2017

“Felicia” is a frequent traveler, based in Singapore, who prefers the finer things in life. She looks to upper-upscale accommodation, whether travelling for business or leisure, and uses high-end credit cards. Let’s take a look at her path to purchase for the ultimate luxury vacation to Mauritius, which occurs over a four-month period.

Get the full story at Sojern

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/how_to_use_video_across_the_travelers_path_to_purchase

New hotel cancellation policies lead to flexible pricing

November 24, 2017

“We’re taking it from 48 or 72 hours (cancellation windows) to seven days, and then seven days and beyond, with a flexible or semi-flexible pricing approach,” Nassetta said. “It’s going to help us deal with this issue (of short-term cancellations) in a more meaningful way and a way that drives higher RevPAR growth.”

Executives from hotel ownership groups expressed support for the chains’ efforts at tightening cancellation clauses. Thomas Baltimore, president and CEO of Park Hotels & Resorts, said the impact has been felt the most at the company’s New York City properties.

“If you just take New York, probably 30% of reservations were being canceled in that zero- to seven-day window, and all of that had a rate impact,” he said. “If they want flexibility, customers ought to be prepared to pay for it. There are some situations where an advance deposit or advance purchase makes sense. The airlines retrained all of us, so there’s no reason the hotel industry can’t do the same.”

Get the full story at Duetto

Read also "Hilton testing incentives to encourage earlier cancellations" and "Hotel CEOs discuss recent cancellation policy changes"

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/new_hotel_cancellation_policies_lead_to_flexible_pricing

Travel firms looking to ‘soft opt-in’ consent as new EU rules loom

November 24, 2017

Partner at Travlaw Farina Azam told this week’s Travel Network Group conference that there is an option outside the General Data Protection Regulation.

Azam said ‘soft opt-in’ is a legitimate exception to having to gain explicit consent as the new GDPR requires but that it only applies to email and text communications.

The rules also only apply to customer who have previously made a booking and so would reasonably expect to contacted again but only in relation to similar products or services.

Azam said customers must also be given the opportunity to opt out at the time their data is acquired and at all subsequent steps.

Get the full story at Travolution

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/travel_firms_looking_to_soft_opt_in_consent_as_new_eu_rules_loom

Hogg Robinson thinks it has a technology edge on its corporate travel competitors

November 24, 2017

Corporate services company Hogg Robinson Group believes it has edged in front of the competition in the race to exploit the benefits around the airline industry’s new direct booking platform.

Since the the International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced plans to give airlines greater control of how their products were distributed, the travel industry has been scrambling to take advantage.

While this New Distribution Capability (NDC) wasn’t an explicit attack on the global distribution systems that act as intermediaries in the world of flight sales, it would in theory make airlines less reliant on them.

Get the full story at Skift

Read also "Hogg Robinson confirms BA GDS fee deal" at Travolution

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/hogg_robinson_thinks_it_has_a_technology_edge_on_its_corporate_travel_compe

Exploring the future of guest services

November 24, 2017

The gallery, located next to Hilton’s global headquarters at Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, was designed by the LAB at Rockwell Group.

It showcases a variety of technologies, design elements and dining concepts, as well as environmental and experiential features, like a noise-masking Nightingale product and Meural, a customizable digital art display.

Guests can explore five immersive experiences: a product showcase, lets visitors interact with new physical and virtual products; a food and beverage concept studio features the latest experiments from the hotel’s FAB team; a virtual reality stage offers guests VR tours of rooms from the chain’s new boutique lifestyle brands ‘Tru by Hilton’ and ‘Canopy by Hilton’; a dark room explores material technologies which might improve quality, sustainability and/or design flexibility; and an innovation theatre will serve as a gathering space for brainstorming and collaboration.

Get the full story at Travolution

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/exploring_the_future_of_guest_services

Automating the guest experience

November 24, 2017

At Triptease’s recent Direct Booking Summit in Barcelona, much was discussed about marketing automation, AI and machine learning. All fantastic technologies to help reduce the strain on operational teams within hotels and all hotly debated as ‘the next big thing’ in hospitality.

Beyond the concepts and theory, UK hotel group Village Hotels showcased their approach to automation, having consolidated dozens of systems into an ecosystem that utilises open API technology, allowing them to easily integrate and share data in real time – handling almost all stages of the guest experience.

But does different = better?

Get the full story at Hotel Speak

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/automating_the_guest_experience

Seven digital luxury myths

November 24, 2017

1. Luxury customers are silver haired and digitally backwards

The average age of customers for luxury brands is surprising in that the customer who is most able to make repeated luxury purchases has no children, is aged between 25 and 45 and is from either Asia or the Middle East. I think luxury brands often have decision makers in the marketing team who are nervous of change and of using new technology and scaring off the older generation. However, the older generation still uses apps and love loyalty schemes. It’s important to not let your view of your audience stay in the past and be careful not to make too many assumptions about your audience, thinking that all luxury consumers are old or western.

Get the full story at The Drum

Read also "Why do luxury brands seem like such cyberphobes?" at The Drum

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/seven_digital_luxury_myths

4 fascinating ways customer service has changed in the hotel industry

November 24, 2017

Fundamentally, customer service has always been, and should remain, the same. Whether it’s answering a question, solving a problem, or fulfilling a request, customer service is about giving a customer what they require and making sure they are satisfied with what you have provided. It’s about delivering on desires and making people happy.

So is the question moot? Of course not! While the broad strokes of customer service are eternal, there has been a complete shift in the way hospitality businesses can engage with customers and the channels they can use to bestow the quality service all customers crave. Likewise, the demands and expectations of guests have also changed.

Given 97% of global consumers report that customer service is important in their choice of and loyalty to a brand and 76% say they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them, hospitality businesses need to embrace any method that allows them to improve their quality of customer service.

Here are just a few examples of how the past and present have diverged.

Get the full story at SiteMinder

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/4_fascinating_ways_customer_service_has_changed_in_the_hotel_industry

How a top UK hotel operator uses guest intelligence tech

November 24, 2017

When the Coaching Inn Group set its sights on being the best independent operator of regional hotels in the country, the group's leadership knew that they needed to be managing the online reputations and guest experience of their inns and hotels across the United Kingdom.

As Mat Charity, Commercial Manager, explains, “Before, if you upset a customer, they would just tell a friend. Now, if you upset a customer, they will put it up on Facebook and put it up on TripAdvisor and the exposure is so vast that I think a hotel not taking it seriously is really at risk of having their brand damaged.”

Get the full story at GuestRevu

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/how_a_top_uk_hotel_operator_uses_guest_intelligence_tech

Hotel metasearch under pressure as OTAs pull back

November 23, 2017

“Obviously Priceline has been the most vocal about pulling back,” said Lloyd Walmsley, Director Deustche Bank Securities at the recent Phocuswright conference.

“They’ve spent a lot of money on Trivago over the last two years (effectively) funding a competitor in search channels and I think it makes eminent sense to kind of try to reset that auction.

“I think it makes sense to be building a brand. Google is going to move further and further into the travel vertical and that poses obvious risks if you don’t have a strong brand.”

Get the full story at Travel Trends

Read also "How travel metasearch is changing," and "TripAdvisor tanking, more visitors, less bookings"

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/hotel_metasearch_under_pressure_as_otas_pull_back

More travelers say TripAdvisor blocked warnings of rapes, blackouts and injuries

November 23, 2017

And it’s difficult for site users to realize that much of what appears on their screens has been specifically selected and crafted to encourage them to spend.

Secret algorithms determine which hotels and resorts appear when consumers search. Some hotels pay TripAdvisor when travelers click on their links; some pay commissions when tourists book or travel.

An untold number of TripAdvisor users have been granted special privileges, including the ability to delete forum posts. But the company won’t disclose how those users are selected.

The $1.5 billion online travel website’s initial public response has been swift, rolling out a new warning system that marks resorts where safety concerns have been reported in the media. The company has promised to make other changes aimed at making it easier for travelers to share their troubling experiences.

Get the full story at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Read also "Lessons from TripAdvisor’s deleted review accusations"

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/more_travelers_say_tripadvisor_blocked_warnings_of_rapes_blackouts_and_inju

Airbnb takes Trips to new APAC cities

November 23, 2017

With the new portfolio additions, 120 new experiences will join the existing 600 in Asia-Pacific across cities including Bangkok, Queenstown, Seoul, Ho Chi Minh City, New Delhi, Osaka, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.

According to Airbnb, Asia-Pacific-booked Experiences are growing at 14 times since January 2017, with Tokyo one of the five most popular global markets by bookings.

There are now more than 3,100 Airbnb Experiences offered in over 40 cities worldwide, and upcoming additions to the Trips platform globally include Hawaii, Buenos Aires, Costa Rica and Jamaica, all launching before the year end.

Get the full story at TTG Asia

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/airbnb_takes_trips_to_new_apac_cities

Hotels are boosting loyalty with dining experiences (four examples)

November 23, 2017

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) recently announced a partnership with OpenTable and Grubhub to launch a new food and drink loyalty program. The idea of the scheme is that IHG loyalty members can earn points whenever they make a restaurant reservation via OpenTable or order a takeout from GrubHub to be delivered to their hotel. To earn points, members must use an IHG channel to book or order, such as its app, website, or hotel WiFi.

So how is it different to other food-based loyalty programs? While traditional ones might merely reward members for using the in-hotel restaurant or dining out in select restaurants, IHG is giving its members much more choice, allowing them to choose any restaurant on OpenTable or order whatever they want from GrubHub.

The clever part is that the loyalty programme is pretty much guaranteed to generate engagement. After all, eating is both a daily habit and a social experience, meaning that members are likely to use and enjoy the program regardless of why they’re travelling or what their personal circumstances are. Naturally, they’re also likely to look favourably on the hotel group for rewarding them for partaking in the activity.

In turn, IHG is able to play a much bigger role for members, having a direct impact on their travel experience even when they’re out and and spending their money elsewhere.

Get the full story at Econsultancy

Article location: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/hotels_are_boosting_loyalty_with_dining_experiences_four_examples


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