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Welcome to the future of business travel

August 01, 2014

This week, both Airbnb and Uber set up booths at a conference at the Los Angeles Convention Center that's hosted by a massive travel organization, the Global Business Travel Association. If there's an activity diametrically opposed to the act of "disruptive innovation," it might be staffing booths 1251 and 2725 for a week at a buttoned-up convention expected to draw 7,000 attendees.

It makes perfect sense for these super fast-growing companies: The corporate sector absolutely is crucial to the hospitality industry. Hotels in big cities rely on business travel for approximately two-thirds of their revenue. What's more, business travelers tend to be creatures of habit, becoming repeat visitors to favored haunts. They also spend more than folks traveling on their own dime. All that business travel adds up to $1.21 trillion in annual revenue, according to the GBTA.

Cutting into hotels' business-travel revenue could mean big profits for Airbnb and its ilk. Corporate travel was only 8 percent of Airbnb's bookings last year, one of its managers told the Wall Street Journal.

There are obvious hurdles in convincing large corporate clients to bank on a startup that's faced such regulatory hurdles in the largest city in the United States that it has purchased billboards in public transit brashly proclaiming "New Yorkers agree: Airbnb is great for New York City." (Because New Yorkers just adore being told what to think.)

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Expedia profit rises on higher hotel, flight bookings

August 01, 2014

As a percentage of total worldwide revenue in the second quarter of 2014, hotel accounted for 71%, air accounted for 8%, advertising and media accounted for 8% and all other revenues accounted for the remaining 13%.

Hotel revenue increased 23% in the second quarter of 2014 on a 28% increase in room nights stayed driven by Brand Expedia including the Travelocity-branded websites and, partially offset by a 4% decrease in revenue per room night. Revenue per room night decreased primarily due to efforts to expand the size and availability of the global hotel supply portfolio, including contracts signed as part of the Expedia Traveler PreferenceTM (ETP) program and promotional activities such as growing loyalty programs and couponing. This decline was partially offset by a 2% increase in average daily rates.

Air revenue increased 22% in the second quarter of 2014 due to a 28% increase in air tickets sold, partially offset by a 5% decrease in revenue per ticket. Advertising and media revenue increased 54% in the second quarter of 2014 due to continued strong growth in trivago® and Expedia® Media Solutions. All other revenue increased 15% in the second quarter of 2014 primarily on growth in our travel insurance and car rental products.

Get the full story at Expedia (PDF 183 KB)

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Corporate travel sales dip at American Express

August 01, 2014

The company also reported a $626 million gain from the closing of its business travel joint venture with investment firm Certares, which helped boost net income for the quarter by 9 percent to $1.5 billion.

Total expenses decreased 58 percent to $361 million compared to last year, also attributed to the joint venture. Card-billed business in the Global Commercial Services division rose 7 percent year over year to $47.6 billion. GCS cards in force remained flat at seven million, but average cardholder spending rose 7 percent to $6,781.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly and The Wall Street Journal

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Airbnb says it’s better for the environment than hotels

August 01, 2014

The study rests on a survey by the Cleantech Group consultancy, researched between February and April of this year. The consultants say they surveyed “over 8,000 … hosts and guests,” and then compared the responses with “research on residential and hotel sustainability levels and practices.”

According to the study, North American Airbnb guests are more likely to use public transportation and to recycle than hotel guests are. Airbnb says this saves “the equivalent of 270 Olympic-sized pools of water,” and avoids “the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 33,000 cars on North American roads.”

Airbnb also says that 95 percent of its North American hosts recycle - far higher than claimed U.S. averages, which vary loosely between 58 percent and 75 percent, depending on where you look.

Get the full story at VentureBeat

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How Hilton’s CEO led the company’s massive turnaround

August 01, 2014

Private equity firm Blackstone Group purchased the company; Nassetta was brought in to turn it around.

Nassetta moved the headquarters from Beverly Hills, California to the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C. There was a massive bloodletting: of the 600 headquarters employees, only 130 moved east.

"If you want to change a culture, you change 80 percent of the people," he says. "We had lost touch with the front line."

So Nassetta and his senior executives started spending one week each year working at hotels--in housekeeping, engineering and the front desk. "Their job is harder than your job," Nassetta says. "You get in there, and you pay them the respect."

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Airline consolidation to bring pros and cons, GBTA panel says

August 01, 2014

Speaking at the Global Business Travel Association’s annual convention this week, a panel of senior travel executives said joint ventures (JVs) and mergers would have both a positive and negative impact on the corporate travel community, and could hasten the demise of the big three airline alliances: Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance.

Bob Brindley, principal and vice president of
 Advito, the research arm of travel management company (TMC) BCD Travel, said future activity would be driven by those involved in the three major transatlantic JVs.

On the plus side, the panel said that though consolidation and shrinking capacity were making choice more limited, carriers were investing more in product and service in order to win business.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

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Survey: Luxury trends revealed by Small Luxury Hotels of the World

August 01, 2014

The survey carried out in May and June 2014 reveals significant trends in the luxury sector highlighting luxury travel habits, identifying favourite luxury brands and delving deeper into the demands of luxury travel with pets.

For the second year running, French brands topped the list of favourite luxury brands with Chanel identified as the number one luxury brand overall followed by Small Luxury Hotels of the World™ and Hermés. Other top brands included Prada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

Luxury travel preferences

When asked to specify their favourite luxury holiday destination, Italy and destinations within Italy reigned overall chosen by 13% of all respondents. France and destinations within France followed, representing 11.1%, with the Maldives taking third place, selected by 8%.

Australia, Latin America and the USA all opted for Paris as their favourite luxury holiday destination making it the stand-out ‘luxury’ city whereas China, Germany and the UK preferred the Maldives as their number one holiday destination.

In-room hotel accessories and the mini-bar

When picking their favourite in-room accessory, the majority of respondents (58%) opted for a Nespresso/ coffee machine, followed by an I-pod docking system (22.8%). In the minibar, the favourite brand overall was Coca-Cola which featured heavily across most core markets with the exception of the UK, Russia and Australia. UK respondents opted for Bombay Sapphire as their favourite mini bar brand, Russian respondents for Evian whilst the Australians opted for Moët & Chandon.

Looking at the consumption of mini bar products, wine, beer and champagne were the top choice across all markets (33.5%) with the exception of Germany. The largest percentage of German respondents (38.7%) opted for soft drinks over spirits, snacks, and wine, beer and champagne.

Favoured hotel services and attributes

When picking one hotel attribute over another, most markets opted for a Michelin star restaurant over a roof top bar (51.5% vs 48.5%) with the exception of Germany and Russia (with 66.9% and 60% respectively opting for a roof top bar). Across all markets, a knowledgeable hotel guide (or concierge) was selected over in-room destination guides (71.3% vs 28.7%) and adult-only hotels were preferred over child friendly hotels (77.4% vs 22.6%). When booking a hotel, the majority of respondents preferred free Wi-fi access over complimentary breakfast (53.1% vs 46.9%) with the exception of the UK and German respondents who preferred free breakfast over free Wi-fi (55.4% and 58.4% respectively).

When picking a luxury hotel, the most important characteristic was ‘character/charm’ selected by 59.6% of all respondents, followed by ‘five star facilities’ (28%). Respondents from China and Hong Kong however opted for ‘personal experiences’ as their second most important attribute whilst Russian and German respondents chose ‘privacy/intimacy.

Travelling with pets

Finally when looking at luxury travel with pets, 7.3% of those surveyed said that they would travel with their pet whenever possible. 15.1 % said that they would be willing to pay extra for their pets to be pampered, with the top pet pampering items identified by respondents included luxury bedding and food (14.1% vs 11.2%) and pet grooming (7.9%).

When asked what luxuries their pet might enjoy at a luxury hotel, the responses were varied with one Chinese dog lover suggesting ‘pata negra ham and caviar’.

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Ford and Choice Hotels partner for hands-free bookings

August 01, 2014

Choice Hotels International, Inc. has announced that it has launched hands-free hotel reservations for Ford vehicles. Drivers of Ford vehicles equipped with SYNC AppLink can download Choice Hotels' Android app, which will enable them to use voice commands to search for available rooms at nearby Choice Hotels, hands-free. The same functionality for iPhone users will be made available in the near future.

More than 1.5 million Ford vehicles in North America are equipped with SYNC AppLink. By 2015, Ford will have more than 7 million SYNC AppLink-enabled vehicles on the road globally.

"In today's rapidly evolving market, it is important to stay ahead of the latest ways guests search and make reservations. We see an explosive growth in the connected car market, which is why we are thrilled to provide our Choice Hotels guests with this new mobile capability," said Robert McDowell, senior vice president, global distribution and marketing, Choice Hotels International. "Now that the Choice Hotels apps support Ford SYNC AppLink, drivers can make quick and easy reservations, while staying safe on the road using the hands-free technology."

Get the full story at Connected World

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The rising tide of mobile bookings - how hotel marketers can stay afloat

July 31, 2014

The explosion of non-desktop customer engagements presents a major challenge to hotel marketers: creating and managing a digital presence across three distinct distribution and marketing channels (desktop, mobile, and tablet). No doubt, hoteliers must invest in and take advantage this multi-channel, multi-device world we live in.

The most notable developments in the First Half of 2014:

- Over 41% of web visitors and nearly 38% of page views were generated from non-desktop devices (mobile and tablet).

- Nearly 16% of bookings, 19% of room nights and 14% of revenue came from tablets and mobile devices. If we include voice reservations originating from the hotel mobile website, over 25% of bookings and revenue originates from the non-desktop channel.

- Tablets generated 224% more room nights and 283% more revenue than “pure” mobile devices.

- The iPad outperformed all other tablet devices and was responsible for 95% of tablet revenue and over 85% of visitors.

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

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What’s Airbnb’s future as millennials move from backpacks to briefcases?

July 31, 2014

The impact of Airbnb is limited today because the service is often used as an inexpensive lodging alternative by younger travelers. Longer term, the threat could be substantial if these young leisure travelers continue to tap Airbnb once they become regular business travelers.

Airbnb represents a rapidly growing niche of the accommodations market. According to a report by GlobalWebIndex, 8% of internet users in North America and 14% worldwide had rented rooms or apartments through a home and lodging rentals service in Q1 2014.

Though US business travel use of Airbnb is currently a small portion of the more than $280 billion in spending forecast for 2014, expenditure is on the rise, driven by unmanaged business travelers and forward-thinking corporate travel departments. Mike Hilton, executive vice president at Concur, a company that processes $50 billion worth of corporate expense reports a year, told the San Francisco Chronicle that use of Airbnb had quadrupled every year since 2010, with the company expected to process $1 million of Airbnb expenses in Q1 2014. Michael Tangney, global travel manager at Google, told attendees at the 2014 PhoCusWright Europe conference that the company’s employees had spent $2 million on Airbnb rentals last year.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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OTA consolidation, metasearch explosion - is there consumer choice?

July 31, 2014

That said shopping habits are changing fuelled by social media sharing and the desire for easy real-time access to all relevant information in one place -- across products and different devices. They want to be sure they are getting the best deals and be able to trust the accuracy of the information and the authenticity of the reviews. Online travel shoppers are notorious for doing a lot of looking before booking and their loyalty can be described deal-driven rather than loyal. Being able make the right offers at the right moment to the shopper who is inspired and well-researched enough to hit the 'buy button' is getting harder. There are plenty of smaller unaffiliated travel sites competing for business. To be in with a chance they need to get found, be different and attract viral support.

The future of travel will mean enabling the shopper to balance booking accommodation and flights with an array of personal choice ancillaries as well as transfers or local excursions, while getting all the dates to line up for the right price. The travel company that can join these dots will be the one best positioned to grab market share and grow their business. Will this be one of the giants, or a start-up yet to get off the ground?

Buying into the metasearch model shows that Expedia and Priceline don't intend to become dinosaurs left behind as shopping buying behaviour changes. Recognising that innovation usually comes in small packages, Priceline and Expedia are active with investment strategies designed to fund and nurture start-up innovation in travel and marketing related areas that could be of future interest. As already noted Expedia is one of the stakeholders in Room 77 booking technology which Google has just licenced. Priceline has set up Priceline Ventures. Such investment strategies are not just about equity and market share but are primarily designed to tap into fresh innovative ideas that can help them redefine their service offer, but for a much cheaper price than buying an acquisition such as Kayak once it is already well established.

Get the full story at Triometric

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Marriott “bullish” as Q2 profits rise

July 31, 2014

Company revenues also climbed 7% to US$3.48 billion, and the group managed to reduce its expense bill by 6%, leading to a 13% jump in operating profits, which totalled US$316m.

In terms of its hotel operations, Marriott’s revPAR increased 5.8% year-on-year to US$116.63. This was driven by a 1.7% rise in occupancy, to 77.0%, and a 3.5% increase in average daily rates, to US$151.39.

The strongest revPAR growth was seen in the Caribbean and Latin America region, which climbed 10.6% to US$145.15. Asia Pacific hotels increased 5.6% to US$126.51, but European revPAR edged up just 1.6% to US$148.74.

“Results in the quarter exceeded our expectations as worldwide revPAR increased nearly 6%. In North America, strong transient demand drove revPAR higher and room rates rose nearly 4%,” said Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s president & chief executive officer.

Get the full story at Travel Daily

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Marriott official says technology will play a growing role in your hotel stay

July 31, 2014

In an industry where customer service is paramount, that means a strategy that blends high tech with high touch, says Paul Cahill , senior vice president of brand management for Marriott Hotels, in an interview with The Washington Post.

If you ask 10 people what they want from mobile services, you might get 10 different answers based on who the target is and what they need at that moment. Marriott has spent a lot of time getting our target customers to prioritize what those services might be.

Marriott heard from customers that there is an awkward moment at check out as a consumer, which is what am I supposed to do when I leave? Do I have to go down to the desk? If the paper is under my door, is that good enough? Putting this on the mobile device is taking away one of those anxious points or pain points for the consumer.

Get the full story at The Washington Post

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Google Analytics adds bot & spider filtering

July 31, 2014

You can simply select a new checkbox option which would be included in the view level of the management user interface. This option would be labeled "Exclude traffic from known bots and spiders". Selecting this option will exclude all hits that come from bots and spiders on the IAB know bots and spiders list. The backend will exclude hits matching the User Agents named in the list as though they were subject to a profile filter. This will allow you to identify the real number of visitors that are coming to your site.

Get the full story at Marketing Land and Google

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Mobile in Travel Hospitality Report 2014

July 31, 2014

The mobile revolution has changed the future landscape of multichannel and how consumers interact with your brand. There is a real opportunity for you to leapfrog the competition by creating mobile strategy based on real-world data.

EyeforTravel's newest Mobile in Hospitality report (Published: July 2014) aims to bridge this knowledge gap between where travel brands are directing their investment and what your customers actually want and expect.

Here’s a snapshot of what the report will give you:

- Hospitality-specific mobile best practices about managing multichannel communication, search, user experience, apps, payment and more

- Summary of on-the-ground interviews with 20,000 real-world travel customers and their expectations

- Case studies and learnings from leading brands including Ritz Carlton, Best Western, Starwood and Carlson Wagonlit

To see the report summary, including the table of contents, click here:

To download key findings about the report, please click here:

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HeBS Digital launches Dynamic Rate Marketing

July 31, 2014

DRM allows real-time hotel inventory availability and pricing to be featured in various marketing initiatives such as meta search, banner advertising, retargeting, Google Adwords, and email marketing. As an industry thought-leader, HeBS Digital has outlined DRM's industry-wide implications, best practices and case studies in its groundbreaking article "Dynamic Rate Marketing – Hotelier's Powerful New Weapon to Shift Share from the OTAs."

Dynamic Rate Marketing dramatically increases campaign effectiveness, boosts conversion rates, and increases direct online bookings. DRM offers a multitude of benefits for both the travel consumer and hotelier. By combining online advertising and marketing campaigns with real-time hotel inventory availability and pricing, hoteliers can satisfy travelers' demands for instant and truthful hotel pricing information, as well as respond in real-time to changing market conditions and comp set behavior.

"We couldn't be more excited to be on the forefront of this hotel digital marketing technology which allows hoteliers to better meet the needs of today's hyper-connected traveler. Through HeBS Digital's proprietary "DRMcloud" enabling technology, hotels, resorts, and casinos can now seamlessly integrate real time availability and pricing on the top travel ad networks that utilize in-market travel intent targeting and retargeting," said Max Starkov, President & CEO of HeBS Digital. "The results so far have been outstanding, with clients enjoying returns as high as 25 to 1."

Even with such complex technology behind it, Dynamic Rate Marketing is surprisingly cost-effective, quick, and easy for hoteliers to implement today. Visit the HeBS Digital website to learn more about Dynamic Rate Marketing and get started today.

Related Link: HeBS Digital

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Boom times are back in corporate travel

July 30, 2014

This year’s convention, which has drawn about 6,700 travel managers, suppliers and others in the industry, falls during a tumultuous time for corporate travel. The trade group said that spending on business travel would rise about 7 percent this year, to roughly $1.18 trillion - $292.3 billion of that in the United States, up 3 percent. But as the industry representatives geared up over the weekend for five days of meetings, exhibitions and after-hours parties, there is a lot of sober discussion about travel safety and risk management.

Global business travel spending will reach a record $1.18 trillion this year, up nearly 7 percent from 2013, bolstered by growth in China, a U.S. trade group said on Monday.

The Global Business Travel Association said it expects China, where business travel spending grew to $225 billion in 2013 from $32 billion in 2000, will top the United States, which is currently the world's top individual market for business travel, by 2016.

Get the full stoy at The New York Times and Reuters

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Affluent travelers more receptive to online reviews than traditional media

July 30, 2014

Similarly, advertisements for travel experiences that run in print or on television make less impact than reviews. Since online reviews from other customers pull more weight than even word of mouth from friends and family, hospitality brands need to find ways to give their guests a voice online.

“Those who want to attract the luxury traveler need to focus on ways to get their guests to post reviews or user-generated-content,” said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, Stevens, PA.

“A story from an actual guest is compelling, so travel marketers need to manage their word-of-mouth marketing efforts,” she said.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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UK hotel pricing anti-trust probe was flawed, claims Skyscanner

July 30, 2014

In January the OFT (now the Competition and Markets Authority) announced it had come to an arrangement with Expedia, and Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG). This agreement meant a two-year investigation into allegations that these firms illegally set hotel prices stopped short of a full infringement investigation after they agreed to make concessions.

However, Skyscanner objected to these concessions claiming they not only allowed “residual” competition restrictions to remain but introduced a new one preventing the advertisement of available discounts.

A two-day Competition Appeal Tribunal hearing started in London yesterday, as Skyscanner sought to quash the original decision by the OFT and force the CMA to re-open the case.

Get the full story at Travolution

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What it’s really like to be a hotel social media manager

July 30, 2014

Skift spoke to several of the social media and marketing managers at the largest U.S. brands for insights into their day-to-day tasks and wackiest social requests.

Most hotel brands have the response goal of 30 minutes on social and resolve time of 48 hours at most, according to Skift’s report Social Media Customer Service in the Travel Industry. Brands and properties develop different ways to ensure a response is never far away for guests.

Marcella Nicotera, Starwood’s director of social Media and eService care, overseas a team of 30 people spread between six centers in different time zones. The goal is to have a Starwood employee always available for guests, which means someone in Australia might respond to a guest in the middle of the night in the U.S.

Get the full story at Skift

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How marketing is shifting from search to semantic

July 30, 2014

In the modern age of the web, we have reached a point where business, social, intelligence and emotion are all intertwined.

In a world where our queries are more tan “Thing, Location” we need to be able to get answers that tell us not just who, what, when, where and how; but why.

This is the semantic web, where search results are driven by more than just how keywords are stacked on a page or even by how many inbound links you have, but rather how socially engaged your site is and by how well you contextually provide relevant information to match a search query.

Get the full story at Forbes

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LinkedIn introduces revamped user profiles

July 30, 2014

“Your LinkedIn Profile is your professional identity of record. It’s also the heart of LinkedIn. Your new profile helps you tell your story to other professionals when they’re looking for you on the go,” the company said in a blog post.

The new profile is certainly more visual. It lists out mutual connections, in addition to basic details like name, employer, job title, etc. LinkedIn explains that the idea is to enable you to get a quick feel for shared interests and connections with a person before you meet them, or indeed connect with them on the service.

There is also an easy option to update more information in your profile right from your device, which could come in handy for those who continually preen their presence on the service, or are big users of it for networking.

Get the full story at The Next Web and LinkedIn

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Hyatt adds hotel portfolio to Egencia Preferred Rate program

July 30, 2014

Egencia, the business travel brand of Expedia and Hyatt Hotels, today announced at the GBTA convention in Los Angeles that their affiliates have entered into a new multi-year agreement to include Hyatt properties around the world in the Egencia Preferred Rate (EPR) programme. Hotels participating in the EPR programme will offer advantages such as special rates and/or amenities to Egencia travellers.

“Hyatt represents a valuable addition to our EPR programme,” said Chris Vukelich, Egencia vice-president, supplier relations for the Americas. “The Hyatt portfolio of brands and locations are an ideal fit for the contemporary Egencia business traveller seeking modern convenience and value, and we look forward to working with them to offer innovative promotions that will help our clients travel better.”

With the addition of more than 500 Hyatt properties across 47 countries, the Egencia global EPR programme now totals over 10,000 hotels.

“We are pleased to work with a rapidly growing global Travel Management Company like Egencia. Business travellers are important to us and by working with Egencia we can cater to the needs of those travellers while also satisfying their companies’ business objectives with great value. This is an excellent opportunity for us to position ourselves as the preferred hotel for business travellers,” said Greg Cross, senior vice president for revenue management at Hyatt.

The rollout of individual Hyatt properties into the EPR programme is anticipated to begin in early August, 2014.

The Egencia EPR programme began in 2004 as a way for the global travel management company to offer added value and savings to its customers. Hotels in the programme offer hotel loyalty points to Egencia customers and other added benefits that can include free Wi-fi, free breakfast and special discounted rates. As part of the Egencia integrated online and mobile booking technology, EPR programme rates and amenities are consistently available across all Egencia booking platforms, whenever and wherever business travellers may need them.

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SiteMinder partners with HS/3 Hotelsoftware

July 30, 2014

The partnership with HS/3 Hotelsoftware GmbH & Co. KG ("HS/3") involves the company's integration with pmsXchange – SiteMinder's plug-and-play API solution for PMS vendors – which will now relay live availabilities and rates to various booking channels (via SiteMinder) for HS/3's hotel clients, and deliver all reservations.

Werner Jantos, Sales & Marketing Manager at HS/3, says he is very pleased the thorough evaluation process has resulted in a powerful and innovative channel management partnership with SiteMinder, a market leader in distribution technology.

"HS/3 wanted to offer its customers the ability to connect to leading channels worldwide. We therefore decided to establish a partnership with SiteMinder," he says.

"HS/3 customers can now connect their HS/3 PMS to global-leading booking sites via SiteMinder's Channel Manager. This has eliminated the need for manual and complex price adjustments, as well as manual updates of availabilities and reservations. Our customers will save a significant amount of time and costs for data maintenance, and this is a major advantage for them as it will lead to considerable increases in revenue from online bookings. We are confident that our partnership with SiteMinder will offer significant added value to HS/3 customers."

Through it's category-leading product, The Channel Manager, SiteMinder is today's global leader in providing complete two-way integrations for leading PMSs, integrating with more than 80 PMSs the world over. The company's continued expansion is particularly timely for the highly-competitive hotel market in Germany, where HS/3 customers can now leverage off the HS/3-SiteMinder integration to increase their online visibility around the world.

"SiteMinder is delighted to be partnering with one of the top players in the German market," says Zsuzsanna Albrecht, Business Development Manager, at SiteMinder.

"This partnership will benefit not only HS/3 but its 5000-plus hotel clients who now have the potential to significantly increase their properties' revenue, streamline their business processes and drive down their cost of acquisition at a consistent pace."

Related Link: SiteMinder

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Hilton to enable room selection via mobile and web-based floor plans

July 29, 2014

In a first for the hospitality industry, Hilton Worldwide today announced its guests will have unprecedented choice and control over their entire hotel stay with the ability to check-in and choose their exact room from digital floor plans, as well as customize their stay by purchasing upgrades and making special requests for items to be delivered to their room, on their mobile devices, tablets and computers. Guests also will be able to check-out using these personal technology devices. By the end of 2014, digital check-in and room selection will be available at more than 4,000 Hilton Worldwide properties across 11 brands in 80-plus countries via members’ Hilton HHonors accounts.

“For nearly a century, our guests have counted on us to consistently deliver exceptional experiences around the world, and in today’s digitally connected culture, that means providing them with more choice and control over their hotel stay through technology,” said Christopher J. Nassetta, president and chief executive officer, Hilton Worldwide. “The tremendous scale of our world-class operating platform enables us to quickly and nimbly introduce exciting enhancements for our guests at all of our hotels worldwide.”

Today’s announcement represents the latest industry-first in Hilton’s rich history of innovation. The company piloted an initial version of digital check-in more than five years ago, and in 2012 it launched Conrad Concierge, the first hospitality software application that enables guests to customize their hotel experience through their tablets or smartphones. Going forward, Hilton anticipates delivering further digital advancements to guests every six to eight weeks.

“We analyzed data and feedback from more than 40 million HHonors members, as well as guest surveys, social media posts and review sites, and it’s clear that guests want greater choice and control,” said Geraldine Calpin, senior vice president and global head of digital at Hilton Worldwide. “In fact, in a recent study, 84 percent of business travelers surveyed said they wanted the ability to choose their own room1. We are giving our guests the ability to do just that by enabling them to select not just their room type, but the exact location in the hotel, all the way down to their room number.”

Simple and Streamlined Process

Once a room is booked, the process for guests to manage their stay is simple:

- Room selection: At 6 a.m. the day before a booked stay, Hilton HHonors members can sign into their account via their mobile device, tablet or computer to check-in and choose their preferred room through floor plan maps or lists populated from the hotel’s available inventory. Photos of rooms are also available to help with their selection. Hilton’s digital lobby function is updated in real-time, so guests no longer have to wait until they are physically in the hotel lobby to be assigned a room.

- Special requests: After choosing a room, guests can further customize their stay at full-service hotels by purchasing upgrades and requesting specific amenities to be delivered to their room before arrival.

- Room key: Next year, the company will begin to equip its hotel rooms with the technology for doors to be unlocked with guests’ smartphones, enabling them to go straight to their rooms upon arrival. For now, once they arrive on property, guests simply pick up their room key from the front desk, a streamlined process since the guest’s payment information and other details are already verified through their Hilton HHonors account prior to arrival.

- Check-out: Guests can bypass the front desk upon departure as their bill will be automatically sent to their email address.
The Future of Room Keys at Hilton

As part of its digital strategy, Hilton has made a commitment to enable all of its hotel rooms worldwide with technology that will allow guests to use their smartphones as keys.

Said Nassetta, “Travelers can use their smartphones as boarding passes to get to their seats on an airplane, so it is only natural that they will want to use them as a way to enter their hotel rooms. We have spent the past few years testing a number of different options to make this vision a reality, and we are developing proprietary technology that is safe and reliable for our guests to use, and cost-effective for our hotels to install.”

Rapid Roll Out Across Hilton Properties Globally

Hilton is rolling out these digital enhancements globally over the next several months:

- By the end of this summer, Hilton HHonors members can check-in and choose their room from digital floor plan maps online or via the Apple and Android HHonors apps across the following U.S. brands: Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites.

- The functionality will also be available at DoubleTree by Hilton and Embassy Suites Hotels properties within the U.S. this fall.

- By the end of 2014, room selection, either from digital floor plans or lists, will be available globally for over 650,000 rooms at more than 4,000 hotels across Hilton’s portfolio of 11 brands.

- Digital check-out, currently available at all U.S. hotels, will be rolled out globally by the end of 2016.

- In 2015, Hilton will introduce technology that enables smartphones to be used as room keys, and all U.S. hotels across four of its brands will have this capability by the end of that year. By the end of 2016, the majority of its rooms system-wide will be equipped with this functionality.

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More on Google’s focus in travel

July 29, 2014

There are ironies in where Google Travel finds itself. Holden believes that one of the key differentiators in Google’s two most prominent travel products is their speed in returning flight and hotel search results.

Yet Holden acknowledges that there are content gaps in both products, and Google is therefore focused behind the scenes on the not-so-glamorous task of notching new airline and hotel partnerships around the world at what some critics might view as a plodding pace.

But, Holden isn’t in a hurry, observing that “we’ve had 14 years of working on search and AdWords. We are getting started” in travel. Although there currently are hints of integrating Google’s disparate travel offerings, you can definitely expect more of that in the future, particularly through search.

Read the interview at Skift

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Airbnb gets serious about business travel

July 29, 2014

Chip Conley, Airbnb’s head of global hospitality, noted in a new product announcement on Monday that nearly 10 percent of Airbnb's customer base is already made up of travelers making bookings during work trips.

“We know Airbnb isn’t for every road warrior, but for larger groups, longer stays, and relocations, Airbnb offers inspired spaces in memorable places to make the most of any type of travel,” explained Conley.

Thus, Airbnb is making strides to tap into what has been a relatively overlooked opportunity for the accommodations website through a new partnership with travel and expense management services provider Concur.

Get the full story at ZDNet and VentureBeat

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Ctrip’s hotel booking growth continues

July 29, 2014

Ctrip stepped up investments in mobile Internet and new products as mobile devices surpassed desktop computers to become the most important hotel booking platform, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James Liang said on a May 7 conference call.

The company will report revenue of $270 million for the April-June period, up 33 percent from a year earlier, 11 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg show. The average projection is 5.4 percent higher than it was six months ago.

While Ctrip’s second-quarter operating profit may drop 5 percent from a year earlier to $30.3 million, it will grow 8 percent this quarter and 32 percent in the last three months of the year, according to the average of seven analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Chinese hotel revenue per available room increased 7 percent in May, the highest since 2010, according to a Bloomberg Intelligence note. This may indicate a return of higher domestic leisure and business travel offsetting a corruption crackdown that’s crimped lavish official spending, the report said.

Get the full story at Bloomberg

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Orbitz for Business rolling out consumerized booking capability globally

July 29, 2014

Orbitz for Business, the corporate travel brand of Orbitz Worldwide, today announced from the Global Business Travel Association's annual conference that it is expanding its consumerized online booking functionality to support travelers in over 100 countries, covering more than 18 languages and 35 currencies. The expanded offering will also include the Orbitz for Business mobile solution, the first in the industry that enabled full 'look-to-book' functionality across all major travel products while applying customized corporate policies.

"Corporate travel managers are increasingly demanding a consistent, consumerized booking experience for their business travelers across their entire global travel footprint. At Orbitz for Business we're committed to developing solutions to satisfy this market need," said Frank Petito, president of Orbitz for Business. "We are in the process of launching a significant multinational program with a client across six continents to service their broad global travel needs and are prepared to do the same for other international corporations looking for this type of solution."

Interested parties looking for a comprehensive global online booking experience are welcome to visit the Orbitz for Business booth (#739), located on the main aisle on the west end of the convention center. For more information please visit

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The Ritz-Carlton aggregates UGC to scale memories campaign

July 29, 2014

“We noticed that our guests were using #RCMemories so often but only our team was seeing all of it,” said Clayton Ruebensaal, vice president of marketing at The Ritz-Carlton, Washington. “Posts were coming in every day from Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, Instagram, but the outside was only being exposed to small slivers of it.

“We saw a tremendous opportunity to republish this content, as much for how well it showcases The Ritz-Carlton brand as for how it showcases the world of travel,” he said.

“The images are personal, and artistic, and playful, and many are simply breathtaking. We thought more people should see them. Pulling all this content onto’s ‘Your Memories’ section gives people one place to see it all.”

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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With group segment strengthening, hotels have opportunity to raise transient rates

July 29, 2014

“While the transient segment has been performing well for months, the group segment’s recent increase provides an opportunity for hoteliers to take measured transient pricing action to gradually increase average daily rates (ADR),” said John Hach, Senior Vice President, Global Product Management of TravelClick. “Current and future reservation pace continues to show solid gains across the board, providing an opportunity for hoteliers to take calculated risks to grow revenue per available room (RevPAR) at an accelerated rate.”

12 Month Outlook (July 2014 – June 2015)

For the next 12 months (July 2014 – June 2015), overall committed occupancy* is up 3.0 percent when compared to the same time last year. ADR is up 4.1 percent based on reservations currently on the books.

Transient bookings are up 4.9 percent year-over-year and ADR for this segment is up 5.4 percent. When broken down further, the transient leisure (discount, qualified and wholesale) segment is showing occupancy gains of 4.7 percent and ADR gains of 6.0 percent. The transient business (negotiated and retail) segment is up 5.1 percent with an ADR increase of 4.5 percent. Group segment occupancy is ahead by 2.1 percent and ADR is up 1.0 percent, compared to the same time last year.

Hach continued, “This 12 month outlook, which includes committed occupancy through the second quarter of 2015, shows early indications of continued advance reservation increases in most major markets. However, there is a modest deceleration of growth into next year. Because of this, it’s important for hoteliers to closely monitor advance booking pace, especially within major leisure and group markets.”

Get the full story at TravelClick

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The mobile booking funnel is coming of age

July 29, 2014

In the competitive and saturated travel and hospitality space, it’s no surprise that price is often the primary focus for customers. In fact, 41% of customers identify deals as a top differentiator in choosing a hotel.

To capitalise on this traveller behaviour, brands must find new ways to build and sustain engagement that create real value with customers.

One way to differentiate is to focus on relevant, fresh content. Travellers are always looking for inspiration and mobile is the ideal platform to tap into this discovery mindset and inspire trip ideas.

By providing compelling photography, incentives to take action, and relevant content on featured destinations, brands can encourage customers to keep coming back for more.

Hyatt is a great example of a hotel brand using relevant content to give customers reason to use mobile. The brand’s mobile web and mobile app experiences are visually rich, offer super-fast navigation and seamless booking.

Hyatt’s mobile site aims at combining functional excellence with high-quality content that inspires.

Further, mobile becomes a personalised channel between brand and traveller to create a truly memorable experience.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Global online hotel bookings and rates experience highest growth in last 12 months

July 28, 2014

This represents the highest year-over-year growth for both leisure measures over the last 12 months. Corporate bookings and average daily rates (ADR) through the global distribution systems (GDSs) reached global year-over-year growth of +1.4% and +4.2% by June.

Forward-looking data suggests more growth in store through the beginning of autumn. Pricing remains a powerful influence, but substantial rate growth indicates it is not the only factor driving booking decisions, especially as online channels attract more corporate shoppers. More than ever, an effective online presence (on both the hotel website as well as through online travel agencies and meta search sites) is essential to capturing your fair share of the bookings available.

Download the full report at Pegasus Solutions (PDF 1 MB)

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Emerging markets grabbing bigger piece of online travel pie

July 28, 2014

After years of controlling the lion's share of the world's online travel transactions, the global dominance of Europe and the U.S. is finally waning. As online penetration in these mature markets begins to plateau, the most rapid growth in online bookings belongs to Asia Pacific (APAC), Latin America (LATAM), Eastern Europe and the Middle East. According to a new report by travel industry research authority PhoCusWright, Global Online Travel Overview Third Edition, these regions have an online penetration rate of less than 30%, while in Europe and the U.S. more than four in 10 travel transactions occur online. These still-emerging markets represent the greatest opportunity for expansion as many travelers are turning to the online channel for the first time.

Over the next two years, APAC and LATAM will see online travel sales climb by 14-16% annually – but they won't be the fastest growing regions. The Middle East – with its young population and high mobile ownership – and Eastern Europe will lead with online bookings growth at 20-25% annually for the next two years. Both regions are advancing four times as fast as the online market in the U.S.

"From a total market perspective, APAC, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and LATAM have collectively advanced more rapidly than Europe and the U.S.," says Lorraine Sileo, PhoCusWright's senior vice president, research. "In the online segment, the growth in emerging markets is even more pronounced; while APAC, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and LATAM accounted for just a third of online bookings in 2013, together they grew more than 30% over two years, more than twice as fast as the developed markets."

PhoCusWright's Global Online Travel Overview Third Edition compares online and total travel bookings for six global regions: the U.S., Europe, Eastern Europe, APAC, the Middle East and LATAM. The report features market sizing and growth forecasts through 2015 for the total and online leisure travel markets.

Key topics include:

- Global market share by region
- Online travel penetration and regional growth potential
- Analysis of supplier-intermediary dynamics and variation by region
- Market trends for key countries in each region.

Despite significant regional differences, online travel has clearly taken hold in all of the world's major travel markets.

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TripAdvisor acquires Viator, quietly building an online travel behemoth

July 28, 2014

According to TripAdvisor’s press release, Viator has more than 250 employees that will continue to be based at the company’s San Francisco headquarters as well as offices in Las Vegas, London, and Sydney.

Stephen Kaufer, president and chief executive of TripAdvisor, added in the statement that Viator will be a great addition to the company’s already expansive suite of travel planning options. “Travelers want to explore local attractions while on their trip, and Viator’s depth and breadth in global attractions combined with their seamless booking experience will provide immediate benefit to our community, whether in the planning phase or on the trip,” he added.

Earlier in 2014, the company acquired lafourchette, Tripbod, and Vacation Home Rentals. Overall, TripAdvisor operates more than 22 websites under other travel media brands, including FlipKey.

Get the full story at TripAdvisor

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Groupon eyes last-minute bookings with app

July 28, 2014

The discount website is looking to goose its travel bookings by further tailoring its offerings to last-minute mobile-device bookers, after shedding its co-branding relationship with Expedia earlier this year.

Though Expedia continues to be a supplier for Groupon’s Market Picks inventory of properties, Groupon is going it alone and earlier this month debuted its Getaway Tonight mobile app that gives smartphone users a chance to shop for last-minute discounts while offering hoteliers another avenue to unload unused inventory.

“We’re moving closer to becoming a full-service inventory management solution for our partners,” said Groupon spokesman Nicholas Halliwell.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Holiday Inn launches new digital campaign

July 28, 2014

IHG has unveiled the evolution of its Holiday Inn brand’s Change Your View platform, Journey to Extraordinary. This new campaign celebrates the inspiring journeys of its many guests, by sharing their unique narratives through the brand’s first digitally-led, multimedia marketing approach.

The Holiday Inn brand has partnered with notable organizations such as Tumblr, Nonfiction Unlimited, International New York Times, Mashable, and MBAs Across America to tell captivating stories that help bring the Journey to Extraordinary campaign to life. New content will be rolling out starting now through November 2014, with stories added weekly across the Holiday Inn brand’s various digital platforms including Tumblr, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Get the full story at Breaking Travel News

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Starbucks and Apple: Mobile payments’ sleeping giants?

July 28, 2014

Starbucks said last week during a conference call with analysts to discuss its third quarter financial results that it is in active conversations with technology and financial services companies to help the coffee house chain bring its app payment system to other retailers. Also last week, reports suggested that Apple is talking about mobile payments with Visa and other credit card companies, suggesting that the company’s long-rumored play here could be imminent.

“Apple has a much more significant role to play than Starbucks,” said Drew Sievers, former CEO at mFoundry and now founding partner at fintech investor Operative Capital. “There is no comparison.

“Apple controls hundreds of millions of cards and devices that can be linked to those cards,” he said. “They are perfectly positioned to be a key player in the space.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

Article location: ranks hotels based on the quality of their WiFi

July 28, 2014

“The prediction tool works in a similar way to the actual thought process of an experienced traveler. People who travel a lot know that WiFi is faster in some cities and countries than in others, that certain hotel chains provide superior internet services, and that a number of other factors affect WiFi speed,” the company says.

The site claims to cover over 100,000 hotels worldwide.You search based on city, and the results rank the hotels while showing a range of expected WiFi speeds, alongside all the usual metrics that matter: such as price, address and ratings from

Get the full story at The Next Web

Read also "Hotels, if you advertise free WiFi, please make sure the WiFi's free" at HotelChatter

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RateTiger & Connect Analytics offer instant visibility into business performance

July 28, 2014

Hosted on eRevMax LIVE responsive-web platform, RateTiger & Connect Analytics transform data into real-time insight to help hotels measure and improve key metrics including booking production, pace, competitive benchmarking, reputation monitoring and overall compliance to business plans.

Analytics has been designed in collaboration with revenue managers and brings key operational data together in a fully interactive dashboard and a rich variety of graphical reports. Compatible with desktops, laptops and tablet, this next generation BI solution gives hoteliers a bird’s eye view of overall performance, arming them with predictive insights and information to help optimize business productivity, costs and market position.

“In today’s extremely competitive business environment, it has become critical for our hotel clients to filter data meaningfully to detect problems, identify opportunities, and respond to market dynamics. Our new solution combines eRevMax’s extensive expertise on online distribution, intuitive benchmarking and deep analytical capabilities. RateTiger & Connect Analytics reinforce our commitment to continually add value to our customers by delivering innovation and user experience, and provide greater effectiveness to drive optimization and tighter alignment across their business,” said Michael McCartan, CEO, eRevMax.

Get the full story at eRevMax

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TripAdvisor taps Travelport for Instant Booking, while major OTAs still say no

July 25, 2014

TripAdvisor Instant Booking launched last month with selected content from Choice Hotels International, and Tingo, TripAdvisor's discount hotel site. The company is currently sourcing hospitality content from verious providers to launch TripAdvisor Instant Booking officially later this year.

TripAdvisor announced that Best Western will become partner in a feature that enables users to book a hotel on TripAdvisor without leaving its apps, but that is essentially cover for the larger trend: Major online travel agencies have been unwilling to sign up.

The feaure, Instant Booking, is a key part of TripAdvisor’s hotel metasearch strategy because users convert from lookers into bookers at a higher rate when they can book right in the app without having to navigate away to a hotel site to complete the booking.

That also would mean TripAdvisor would be able to collect higher costs per click and attract additional revenue. When major online travel agencies boycott participating in the feature, that limits its comprehensiveness in terms hotels that can be booked right in the TripAdvisor app.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly and Skift

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Egencia launches new personalized search technology

July 25, 2014

Egencia will unveil a new approach to travel search at the GBTA Convention in Los Angeles on July 28-30, 2014. The new Egencia adaptive search technology leverages insights from travelers to deliver proactive, personalized flight search options. The technology enables a faster, more streamlined booking experience for travelers, while ensuring compliance with corporate travel policy.

Even with recent advances in travel technology, searching and booking a trip is still a complex and long process. Expedia® user research shows that travelers can run up to 48 search queries before booking.

At GBTA, Egencia is demonstrating its innovative, adaptive search technology which rapidly guides business travelers and arrangers to a set of options that are tailored to their preferences and company policy. It will initially be available for air search on Egencia® TripNavigator mobile products, followed by the online booking and travel consultant tools.

"The booking process for business travel can be a real pain point as business travelers strive to combine demanding agendas, personal preferences and corporate requirements," says Sophie Krishnan, vice president of global marketing and product at Egencia. "Based on insights from our business travelers and extensive research with Expedia, our adaptive search technology should make the booking experience faster and more productive."

Personalized Shopping Recommendations

The Egencia adaptive search technology is designed to learn how travelers shop by analyzing data from sources such as their search preferences, most common keystrokes and past bookings. The search process is built to be adaptive so that when the traveler uses Egencia websites or mobile apps, subsequent searches require fewer inputs to reach the desired results. For travelers who frequently book similar trips, the technology pre-configures common search options in the first step of the search process.

"This is a great feature that will make sure that the personalization built into the apps allows travelers to find the content they want, while the policy tags are easy to interpret. We want our travelers to have lots of options that fit their personal criteria, while guiding them to make a choice that balances their needs with our budget," says Jennie Robertson, travel manager with Tableau Software, an Egencia customer.

More Tailored Choices; Not Just More Options

In addition to learning the travelers' behavior, the search functionality also enables users to narrow the results by choosing what they like about a particular flight and tap to find further comparable results. For example, a traveler or arranger can simply ask for results with similar arrival time, airline or duration, and get tailored answers. Visual guides to travel policy swiftly narrow the options further to those that are compliant.

Egencia will be showcasing its new offerings with live demos at the GBTA Convention in Los Angeles from July 28-30. Visit booth #2625 to find out more and see the latest Egencia innovations.

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Priceline creates hotel app for the launch of Amazon’s Fire phone

July 25, 2014

Today's announcement is part of's continuing commitment to create customized native apps for the expanding universe of mobile phones, tablets and other devices from major mobile innovators like Amazon. It is also a reflection of the growing popularity of Android devices among mobile travelers. In 2013,'s Android app experienced the highest year-over-year growth of all of the company's mobile platforms, more than doubling.

"We know that a good portion of mobile travelers search for their hotels while they're literally 'on-the-go,'" said's Chief Product Officer, John Caine. "That often means they are in a car, or possibly on some form of public transportation, where it is challenging to manipulate the smaller screens by hand. Amazon's Dynamic Perspective technology creates a more 'hands-free' – and significantly faster – booking environment that is especially convenient and valuable to mobile travelers."

"Travel represents an exciting opportunity to leverage Fire phone's technology and features," said Steve Rabuchin, Vice President, Amazon Appstore. "We're thrilled that has created an app for Fire phone. We think customers are going to love the experience."'s new hotel app zeroes in to take advantage of Fire phone's most exciting technologies, including:

- Travelers using the app are greeted by a multi-dimensional logo that leverages Fire phone's Dynamic Perspective technology. The entertaining logo was specially created for by Felipe Cerdan, an artist who has done extensive work for Disney, DreamWorks and Warner Brothers.

- The Fire phone app incorporates an active widget that remembers users' most recent hotel searches and will display up-to-the-minute hotel recommendations from other guests who have recently completed stays in that area.

- Travelers will instantly benefit from's incorporation of Fire phone's 3-paneled design. Fire phone users can quickly switch from panel to panel by simply tilting the phone. In's case, the left-hand panel displays the three different ways to shop hotels (browse all hotels, check out specially discounted Express Deals, or bid using the Name Your Own Price feature). The right-hand panel continues to show guest hotel recommendations; and, the center panel allows travelers to shop according to their preference.

The Fire phone app gives travelers access to's full global complement of hotels available at competitive published rates and at special discounts available only to customers. also offers a free travel app for owners of Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets that enables them to book hotels, rental cars and airline tickets from's extensive collection of travel services and inventories.

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Life after free hotel WIFI

July 25, 2014

Alongside diminishing video-on-demand revenues and non-existing telephone income, hotel WIFI revenues are steeply shrinking, whereas the cost to provide Internet has gone up as a result of demand for more bandwidth and mounting infrastructure costs. The rise in cost and fall in revenues in offering complimentary Internet has become a much-debated issue in the hospitality industry, which leads to the question: is there life after free WIFI?

The answer is: Yes there is.

There are 6.8 billion people on the planet. 4 billion of them use a mobile phone compared to the 3.5 billion who use a toothbrush. Out of those 4 billion, 95% bring their mobile phone with them when they stay at a hotel, giving hotels the opportunity to interact with guests through their mobile devices. Besides their mobile phone, 78% of guests bring laptops on an average trip and 55% carry tablets on their travels.

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

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Google Maps “Explore” feature whows what’s nearby along with reviews & travel times

July 25, 2014

For best search results, Google said users need to be signed into their Google account and have their location reporting and history turned on.

Android users have an added benefit of the “My Location” button within the “Explore” feature to find expanded information on specific locations, including transit schedules and the ability to save a place for later.

The “My Location” button on the Google Maps Android app is located on the bottom right side of the screen, or can be accessed by tapping the blue dot on the map.

Get the full story at Search Engine Land

Read also "What Google's Maps "Explore" feature tells marketers about the future of local SEO" at Brafton

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The do’s and don’ts of using Facebook for Business

July 25, 2014

Wouldn't it be nice to have a little pocket guide to navigating Facebook?

You're in luck: the psychics at Verticalresponse have read your mind. In order to make your life a little bit easier and help you break through all of the clutter on Facebook to finally get the results you’ve been hearing about, they created the infographic featured in this article.


- Posts with fewer than 80 characters received 66% more engagement than lengthier counterparts.
- Question posts have 92% higher comment rates than non-question posts.
- Posts that have a question located at the end have a 15% higher overall interaction rate and a 2x higher comment rate than those asked in the middle of a post.
- 82% of people think Facebook is a good place to interact with brands.
- The number one reason 73% of social media users "unliked" a brand on Facebook was because the brand posted too frequently.

Get the full story at HubSpot

Read also "Facebook answers critics with mobile-ad surge"

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Seven elements for a successful hotel website that often go unnoticed

July 25, 2014

These essential marketing initiatives have a tremendous impact on the overall performance of a site, but, as they are "behind-the-scenes," they often go unnoticed by the naked eye. Our team at Blue Magnet Interactive works so hard on these "behind-the-scenes" features because we know how important they are to the success of your hotel's website and, ultimately, your hotel's bottom line.

In an attempt to spare you a lengthy blog post full of technical jargon, this article summarizes 7 extremely important, but lesser known, elements that go into improving the performance of your hotel's website and making it a major revenue driver for your hotel.

Get the full story at Blue Magnet Interactive

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How to boost direct bookings with TripAdvisor Business listings

July 25, 2014

With a Business Listing, you’ll have access to:

- Direct contact information: Add your contact details to your TripAdvisor property page and make it easy for travelers to contact you directly and book.
- Special Offers: Increase your exposure on the world’s largest travel community by promoting deals and packages across TripAdvisor.
- TripConnect: Only subscribers can bid to appear in Hotel Price Comparison search on TripAdvisor and show rate and availability information to potential guests.
- Property Dashboard: Turn massive amounts of data from the world’s largest travel site into actionable insights for your business with the Property Dashboard.
- Slideshow: A customized, animated collection of your photos is included in your subscription.
- Announcements: Call attention to your property’s key updates and news.

Get the full story at TripAdvisor

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TripAdvisor Q2 misses as marketing costs soar

July 24, 2014

Company CFO Julie Bradley said on a conference call with analysts that TripAdvisor spent $10 million in Q2 on TV ads and will accelerate spending on TV ads this quarter.

TripAdvisor didn't issue a formal outlook, but Bradley said the company is reiterating its full-year 2014 guidance for revenue growth "in the high 20s to low 30s." Said CEO Steve Kaufer on the call: "We will continue investing aggressively in TV through October of this year and expect to expand this channel next year."

TripAdvisor said Q2 revenue surged 31% to $323 million, beating analyst forecasts of $321.8 million.

Get the full story at and TripAdvisor

Read also "TripAdvisor misses estimates, and its call contains clues to weakness" at Tnooz

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GDS hotel bookings pick up in June

July 24, 2014

The second quarter ended on a high note for both the business and leisure travel segments. Global leisure travel booked online yielded impressive reservation and rate growth during the second quarter, growing by +10.2% and +6.5% in June respectively. This represents the highest year-over-year growth for both leisure measures over the last 12 months. Corporate bookings and average daily rates (ADR) through the global distribution systems (GDSs) reached global year-over-year growth of +1.4% and +4.2% by June.

Forward-looking data suggests more growth in store through the beginning of autumn. Pricing remains a powerful influence, but substantial rate growth indicates it is not the only factor driving booking decisions, especially as online channels attract more corporate shoppers. More than ever, an effective online presence (on both the hotel website as well as through online travel agencies and meta search sites) is essential to capturing your fair share of the bookings available.


• Both transient and group business travel is on the rise, thanks to an increase in client and company meetings, as well as conferences and conventions.

• Tourism is increasing globally, with the number of trips taken and room rates paid for domestic and international travel continuing to grow significantly.

• Global GDS forward-looking data shows corporate booking growth may be put on hold by consumer leisure focus in July and August. The channel will experience moderate volume increases in September and October with steady rate gains.

• Global ADS forward-looking data shows ongoing and late summer travel should sustain elevated hotel revenue at double-digit growth through September, thanks to high volumes and rates.


Global performance through the GDSs reflects substantial corporate travel demand for the quarter. While business bookings eased below prior year in April by -3.8% and in May by -2.7%, reservations rose above prior year by +1.4% in June. The slower year-over-year growth in April and May was due in part to several global and regional holidays falling closer to the weekend than prior year, encouraging more leisure travel.

Despite the relatively minor fluctuation in global corporate travel volume compared to last year, hotels are consistently achieving higher room rates for business stays. Even during April and May’s slight dip, ADR increased by +1.9% and +2.8%; reaching a recent growth high of +4.2% with increased reservation volumes in June. Steady rate growth speaks to strong corporate travel demand that is not being overshadowed by excess new room supply, in most markets.

Transient, or independent, business travel is on the rise globally, along with group business travel. Transient has been the most resilient as an effective means of satisfying more specific client and internal needs. Group business has also returned as reflected by slightly longer lengths of stay and booking windows for the quarter. Conferences typically involve longer stays booked further in advance than transient trips. Year-to-date through June, the average length of stay has increased by +0.7% (2.15 nights in 2014 versus 2.14 nights in 2013), increasing by +1.1% in June (2.13 nights in 2014 versus 2.11 in 2014). Similarly, the average booking lead time increased from 16.73 days during second quarter 2013 to 17.05 during second quarter 2014.

Conference and convention travel results vary by location, and are impacted by factors such as government cutbacks and austerity programs. For the most part, companies are feeling more profitable and confident to spend on travel that will generate profit. This is also supported by data from Marriott International, Host Hotels & Resorts and Hyatt Hotels Corporation citing gains in group revenue related to second quarter 2014 bookings from +8% to +13%.


Second quarter leisure travel also experienced strong demand, delivering increasing global revenue growth to the delight of hoteliers. Holiday bookings grew over prior year at an increasing pace, from +3.8% in April to +4.1% in May, and finishing up a staggering +10.2% in June. Rate growth also accelerated from +4.1% in April, to +5.3% in May, ending the quarter up +6.5% over prior year in June.

A combination of pent-up demand, increasing financial stability and travelers making vacations a priority contributed to the increases in leisure volumes and rates. Even as Baby Boomers drive strong leisure demand, Millennials (aged 18 to 35) are expected to spend incrementally more on travel services than any other age group over the next 12 months.

Travelers have shortened trips to allow greater spend on room rates and services by limiting room nights. Year-to-date through June, the average length of stay (LOS) shrank by -1.4%, from 2.01 nights in 2013 to 1.98 nights in 2014. June’s average LOS shortened from 1.97 nights in 2013 to 1.94 nights in 2014. Shorter trips lend themselves to shorter planning and booking lead times, reinforcing the importance of a strong online and mobile presence. By allotting budget for extras, smart hotels will also ensure extra services are offered in any online booking experiences. Year-to-date for June, trips were booked an average of 20.86 days ahead of check-in, as opposed to an average of 20.73 days ahead year-to-date in June 2013.


Because business travel performed well over the second quarter, most regions experienced positive revenue growth. Booking growth eased in North America as rate gains reaching +7.7% in June pushed revenue to grow +5.6%. Europe and Africa/Asia/Oceania experienced a boost in business bookings of +7.0% and +6.2% by June. With rates nearing prior year levels, this drove revenue growth of +4.6% in Europe and +6.5% in Africa/Asia/Oceania.

While South America saw business travelers diverted thanks to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the region also experienced a drop in online leisure bookings and rates in June. During times of high demand, savvy hoteliers will strategically limit room inventory available to more costly third party sites to drive more profitable direct bookings through the hotel website or call center. Rates will also fluctuate as booking patterns, media hype and room availability adjust throughout the event. As reported in the industry, high room rates at the start of the year priced many Brazilians and nearby regional fans out of the market, causing many hotel companies and intermediaries to readjust rates downward.

Leisure rates clearly played a major role in driving revenue across all other regions. In North America, double-digit booking growth of +11.9% in June, boosted by high rate growth of +8.1%, drove revenue growth to a remarkable +18.7%. Africa/Asia/Oceania’s ADR has also been consistently bolstered by strong reservation increases, keeping revenue +7.6% ahead of 2013 year-to-date. Europe’s substantial ADR growth of +6.3% in June overcompensated for a dip in bookings compared to 2013, salvaging revenue growth at +1.2%. Consistent year-over-year rate growth can be attributed to increasing demand that is still outpacing overall supply as hotels apply continually improved rate and distribution strategies.


Global GDS forward-looking data shows an ease in business bookings compared to prior year during July and August, months that are prime leisure travel periods. The channel will pick up again in September and October with strong rate growth, increasing at an average pace of +5% over prior year for bookings made for stays through October to-date.

Organizations such as the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) continue to confirm a positive outlook for 2014 business travel. GBTA estimates U.S. business travelers alone will spend $292.3 billion this year, +6.8% more than 2013. Group meeting and/or convention travel spend is expected to increase by +7.1%. Business trips abroad are also predicted to grow by +6.6% this year, with the amount spent greater than 2013 by +10.3%.

ADS channel forward-looking global data indicates robust leisure travel through summer. Bookings made thus far for arrivals July through September are averaging +8% over prior year as room rates average almost +8% higher as well. Even with the average number of room nights per stay curtailed, these gains in reservations and rates look to keep revenue growth in the double-digits into September.

In fact, forward-looking data suggests the highest booking gains may be realized in August and September. Summer travelers are booking later in the season as many have yet to book their holidays. This creates real and immediate opportunity for hotels to fine tune their rate and distribution strategies, especially online, to win this year’s summer traveler.

Related Link: Pegasus Solutions

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HotelTonight bets big on Europe

July 24, 2014

HotelTonight lets you reserve same-day hotel rooms from 9am on the day for up to 70 percent below the standard price. We first covered the startup way back in early 2011, when it launched initially for iPhones, and a lot has happened since then. Following its arrival on Android and iPads, the San Francisco-based company took its first tentative steps outside of the US market, first in Toronto in early 2012 and then London a couple of months later.

The company has been growing steadily across Europe over the past couple of years, and now it is effectively doubling its presence in international waters. HotelTonight has now added hotels along the French Riviera, the Amalfi Coast and Tenerife, as well as 23 around the UK, including Bournemouth, Reading, Belfast, Aberdeen, Derby, York, Cardiff, Dover, Newcastle upon Tyne and Inverness.

Get the full story at The Next Web

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American Airlines responds to 80% of customer tweets within 15 minutes

July 24, 2014

Indeed, it’s this latter area where American Airlines has particularly excelled, with their @AmericanAir profile responding to 99 percent of customer queries on Twitter within one hour, and 80 percent in just 15 minutes. When you consider that @AmericanAir has almost 886,000 Twitter followers, that’s incredibly impressive.

Malaysia Airlines (@MAS) also did well in the study, which was conducted by SimpliFly and Unmetric and reported in The Wall Street Journal, answering more than three-quarters of tweets within 15 minutes, and receiving praise for its handling of the of the Flight 17 tragedy.

Conversely, Singapore Airlines, Air Asia and KLM did less well in the survey, with 35 percent of tweets to the latter taking up to a day before receiving a reply.

Get the full story at AllTwitter

Read also "72% of people who complain on Twitter expect a response within an hour" at HubSpot

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Conrad Hotels empowers travelers with end-to-end mobile customer experience

July 24, 2014

Guests who stay at any Conrad location can use their mobile devices to download the ICE app and check-in even before they arrive at the property or check-out from their guestroom. Along with check-in, they can send pre-arrival requests directly to the hotel. Extra pillows? A room with a specific view? Dinner waiting in the room on the first night? All preferences can be noted in-app.

A user’s smartphone can also translate into a guestroom keycard, allowing patrons to further minimize the time necessary to stop at the front desk before heading to their room. And new location-based technology allows notifications to be sent to front desk staff alerting them that guests who have downloaded the app are approaching the hotel.

Staff can use the information to prepare for their arrival and ensure their room is ready. Conrad can also push special offers and messaging to guests based on whether they are located near to or at the property.

Get the full story at the Mobile Marketer

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Facebook answers critics with mobile-ad surge

July 24, 2014

Facebook also continued to show it can weather concerns that it is losing its "cool" factor among teens or irking users worried about privacy. Facebook added another 40 million users in the second quarter, with one-fifth of the world's population now logging into the social network at least once a month.

Facebook started placing ads on its mobile site and app only two years ago around the time of its initial public offering. It has now found itself in an entrenched battle with Google, fighting to inhale mobile advertising dollars that would otherwise have gone to the Web, print or television. Anyone else would be a distant third.

Facebook is projected to command about 18% of the roughly $17.7 billion U.S. mobile ad market this year, up from 9% two years ago, according to eMarketer. Google will remain No. 1, but its share is expected to fall to 39.8% from 49.8% during that time.

Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal and AdvertisingAge

Read also "Study: Mobile users who engage with brands use Facebook most" at AdvertisingAge

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Amplifying your hotel’s location - no matter where you are

July 24, 2014

On your way to work, you probably pass by many things that would attract travel shoppers to the area - and thus, your hotel! Culture, history, art, shops, festivals, parks…there are so many exciting things in every city and all around every hotel.

Providing these new and different visuals allows travel shoppers to imagine themselves having something more than just a stay at a hotel and allows them to envision themselves in your hotel’s story. You’re not just selling your hotel, you’re selling an entire travel experience.

Here are 4 ways to take advantage of your hotel’s location and differentiate your hotel’s visual story.

Get the full story at Leonardo

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Leading Spanish, Caribbean & Latin American hotel brands select ReviewPro

July 24, 2014

H10 Hotels and BlueBay Hotels & Resorts have also renewed their agreement to leverage ReviewPro’s award-winning solution for a second consecutive year.

ReviewPro provides critical insight into operational and service strengths and weaknesses by aggregating millions of mentions from the most relevant online travel agencies, review websites and social media platforms. The company helps both small and large hotel organizations to improve guest experiences and profit from the social web.

RJ Friedlander, CEO of ReviewPro, says, “The evolving Spanish, Caribbean and Latin American hotel markets pose both a challenge and a great opportunity for leading groups such as RIU, Catalonia Hotels & Resorts and BlueBay Hotels & Resorts. We look forward to partnering with these world-class brands to enable them to better listen and react to what clients are saying across the Internet. This will not only empower them to increase their Global Review Index™ score at both property and brand level, but also help to maximize their ADR, RevPAR and occupancy rates.”

RIU Hotels & Resorts is a highly rated brand in key destinations throughout Spain, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. The new agreement will provide online reputation analytics to all 103 of the brand’s hotels. Anna Alfranca Fuster, Social Media Strategist at RIU Hotels & Resorts, says, “ReviewPro provides us with the assistance and education services that we need in order to fully leverage their solution. They canvass online guest feedback on more than 100 travel websites and social media platforms, offering us an unprecedented opportunity to monitor our online reputation.”

A rapidly growing brand, Catalonia Hotels & Resorts has implemented ReviewPro’s guest satisfaction analytics solution for its 63 hotels across Spain, Berlin, Brussels, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. The group leads the urban sector in Spain based on a principle of quality service and excellent price-quality ratio. Guillermo Vallet Millet, Director of Operations, says, “The quality of ReviewPro’s review analytics has particularly impressed us, which is why we have decided to implement the online reputation solution across our entire portfolio. We expect ReviewPro to play a key role in helping us to improve our level of guest engagement while increasing brand trust and loyalty, as well as boosting guest satisfaction indexes.”

H10 Hotels operates 44 hotels in 16 destinations across Europe and the Caribbean, with a total of 11,900 rooms. The group, which has just renewed its collaboration with ReviewPro, is present both in the resort and urban segments, with properties in destinations such as Barcelona, Madrid, Majorca and the Canary Islands, as well as Rome, London, Berlin, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Gemma Espelt, Marketing Director at H10, says, “ReviewPro’s intuitive solution gives us deep insight into our guest experience, enabling us to listen and respond more effectively to what guests are saying online, which ultimately allow us to increase our revenue.”

BlueBay group is “committed to quality, innovation and people.” The brand, with over 32 hotels across Spain and popular traveler destinations including Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic and the United Arab Emirates, has just renewed its agreement with ReviewPro. Witold Kaczanowski, Corporate Digital Strategy Director at BlueBay, says, “ReviewPro’s account management department helps us understand and reach out to our guests while their analytics provide in-depth insight into the effectiveness of services we provide. Maintaining a high level of guest satisfaction while providing consistently remarkable service is at the core of our culture.”

RIU Hotels & Resorts

RIU Hotels & Resorts was founded in Mallorca, Spain, in 1953 as a small summer business for the Riu family, and is currently owned and run by the third generation of the family. The company’s business is focused on the holiday hotel sector and nearly 70% of its establishments offer the renowned ‘All Inclusive by RIU’ service.

RIU is characterized by its firm commitment to quality by offering its guests carefully-designed facilities in the very best beach destinations, varied and attentively-prepared cuisine, and a highly personal service that is second to none. RIU’s staff are what distinguishes it from its competitors. They are the hotel chain’s most valuable asset and their greatest source of pride.

Catalonia Hotels & Resorts

Catalonia Hotels & Resorts is a family chain of hotels that has not stopped growing since it began. Founded by the Vallet brothers in the 1980s, it is now one of the leading chains in Barcelona and the Spanish urban segment. The chain currently has 64 establishments; 55 in Spain (with a new Barcelona hotel in 2015), 1 in Brussels, 1 in Berlin and 7 resorts in the Caribbean (3 in the Dominican Republic and 4 in Mexico). With more than 3,000 rooms, Catalonia Hotels & Resorts has always implemented a policy for growth based on discretion and caution and the company has developed gradually and positively.

The corporate structure of Catalonia Hotels & Resorts is based on the principle of quality in service management, with its own, distinguished style. The company’s philosophy is based on offering an excellent price-quality ratio in services, in accordance with strict criteria of professionalism. Service quality and comfort are guaranteed at every hotel.

H10 Hotels

H10 Hotels is one of Spain’s top 10 hotel companies and is currently expanding throughout Europe and the Caribbean. The company is committed to satisfying its customers’ needs by offering them exceptional locations, specialized services, carefully selected cuisine and facilities that are constantly updated to ensure the highest levels of quality.

BlueBay Hotels & Resorts

BlueBay Group is committed to quality, innovation and people, believing in people and working for them. With extensive experience in tourism and leisure, BlueBay Group currently consists of 33 affiliated hotels in 18 destinations. With over 6,500 rooms and 2,600 employees spread between Spain and the Caribbean, we take care of several million overnight stays annually. With four very distinct brands, BlueBay covers all segments and needs.

Related Link: ReviewPro

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Hotels hunt bridezillas on Pinterest

July 23, 2014

Leading the foray in that regard is Four Seasons. According to a spokesperson, Four Seasons saw more than 106,000 unique visitors to its website from Pinterest, representing a 1,929 percent year-over-year growth in 2013. There was also a significant increase in Pinterest engagement and content originating from the Four Seasons website, with more than 338,000 people re-pinning pins from the Four Seasons website, representing a 923 percent year-over-year growth.

It has profiles for 81 of its hotels and resorts around the world, and most of them have dedicated wedding boards that, ahem, engage potential clients with pins of images and videos. The Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village, California, for example, prominently displays this “Say I do” board.

Get the full story at Digiday

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U.S. travel agent booking window noticeably longer this year

July 23, 2014

In a sign of strengthening demand, vacations are being booked early for next year and even 2016, according to agents who attended Travel Weekly’s Global Travel Marketplace conference. The booking window is noticeably longer this year than it has been in the past, several agents said during the conference, held July 9 to 11 at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa.

Several agents said consumers at last seem to be exhaling after the economic trauma of the past five years. “People are starting to get it. Travel is back. You can’t wait to get that deal,” said Debbie Muir, manager of Travel Authority - Royal Blue Travel Line in Ocala, Fla.

“People used to plan travel a year and more in advance,” said Cheryl Perleberg, owner of To Go Travel Inc. in Tampa. “Post-9/11, people weren’t looking ahead and nobody was traveling that far.” That pattern is ending, she said.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Travel advertising firm Intent Media raises $22.7M

July 23, 2014

Intent said it plans to use the additional capital to continue its international expansion, having already launched into Europe earlier in the year. It also plans to use the money to hire more engineers and data scientists to boost its ad platform.

The round, the firm’s third to date, was led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from existing investors Matrix Partners and Redpoint Ventures. The investment deal also included adding nsight Ventures partner Bradley Twohig to its board of directors.

Founded in 1995, the New York-based company has raised a total of $51 million in funding to date.

Get the full story at VentureBeat and the New York Business Journal

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Travelzoo launches new iOS app

July 23, 2014

The new app comes with expanded features and functionality including:

- More deals: 50% more deals than last summer.
- New deal maps: It's now easier to see where deals are relative to your current location.
- User ratings and reviews: 300,000 Travelzoo users share their experiences.
- New hotel booking engine: Easy to use, with exclusive Travelzoo hotel deals.
- New flight search: Airfare calendars show when to save money on flights.

To help travelers save money, Travelzoo Deal Experts negotiated hundreds of additional deals, especially in popular destinations like New York, Florida and California. Deals are also available in international destinations, including London, Paris and Shanghai.

"We've significantly increased the number of deals and added a set of really useful features to help travelers save money on high-quality experiences this summer," said Mike Stitt, global head of mobile for Travelzoo. "The addition of our ratings and reviews brings a new dimension to the app. Users can now read what other travelers thought before they buy. Overall, those who have experienced a Travelzoo deal give us a 91% positive rating."

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Facebook still drives more traffic than any other social network

July 23, 2014

Take note, marketers. Tweaks to Facebook's News Feed algorithm seem to be working.

From June 2013 to June 2014, Facebook drove 23.4% of social referrals across the web. Pinterest trailed at a distant second at 5.7%. Twitter, at 1%, came in third place, beating the combined referrals from StumbleUpon, Reddit, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google Plus, according to content discovery company Shareaholic.

Within the past year, Facebook's traffic referral share increased 14 percentage points. Pinterest and StumbleUpon were the two other networks that saw a gain at 2.34 percentage points and 0.07 percentage points, respectively. The rest of the networks highlighted in this study all experienced losses.

Get the full story at Fast Company

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Digital to account for 75% of all marketing spend in 5 years?

July 23, 2014

The findings suggest that CMOs are currently finding themselves short - the four key insights from the report:

- Analytics – hiring digital talent is critical especially regarding technical and analytical skills os off the back of CMO satisfaction of internal analytics falling to 49%.
- Mobile alone will account for 50% of the marketing budget by 2019.
- Digital budgets will account for more than 75% of the marketing budget.
- Marketing will become an on-demand information function (according to 34% of respondents) and merged with IT 26%.

Get the full story at Smart Insights

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TravelClick to host complimentary webinar on accessing the corporate traveler

July 23, 2014

In today’s ever-changing landscape, many hoteliers are finding it increasingly difficult to access the Corporate traveler. This webinar will discuss how Consortia programs can assist hoteliers in improving visibility and gaining access to the leading travel management companies to keep their hotels "top of mind" for travel agents.

Two sessions will be offered to accommodate different time zones. To register, please click the below links:

- 10:00 (10am EDT, New York time)
- 14:00 (2pm EDT, New York time)

To attend, register with TravelClick

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Hotels transact US$7.4 billion with SiteMinder over past year

July 23, 2014

The figure, generated by over 18 million hotel reservations throughout the period, continues strong year-on-year growth for SiteMinder's robust product suite. The growth remains led by RDX – the company's enterprise connectivity platform – which enabled US$4.2 billion in booking revenue for hotels over the prior 12-month period ending 30 June 2013.

SiteMinder's Co-Founder and CEO, Mike Ford, says the numbers reflect growing recognition among hotels that best-of-breed connectivity is crucial to gaining exposure to guests globally and maximizing reach.

"The uptake amongst hotels in adopting the new online technologies available to them has been fairly slow; however, we are now seeing that uptake accelerate. The figures released today are evidence that our clients – hotels, technology system partners and channel partners alike – are seeing the benefits of a fully-integrated, cloud-based distribution platform that provides unsurpassed robustness in connectivity to offer lower costs and greater control," says Mr Ford.

"The distribution landscape for a hotel is becoming increasingly complex but it also offers greater diversity and an ever-increasing opportunity to reach guests with the rise of the newer distribution avenues such as Google Hotel Finder. There are also a growing number of opportunities for hotels to attract guests from around the world by tapping into locally-based online booking sites, such as Ctrip for the Chinese market and Despegar for South America.

"When considering all of this, a hotel can no longer afford to manually execute a diversified distribution strategy if they want it to be effective; it is now a necessity to utilize connectivity and automation technology that offers broad integration, reliability, speed and security. This is what SiteMinder offers through its room distribution platform. On top of 60 other channel management solutions, RDX powers SiteMinder's own offering, The Channel Manager, as well as the distribution for many of our property management system (PMS) and central reservation systems (CRS) partners that rely on us to deliver this capability to their hotel customers."

SiteMinder's RDX platform offers more than 14,000 hotels across the globe rapid two-way, real-time XML connections between over 80 PMSs and CRSs and around 200 distribution channels.

Mr Ford says, over the past year, hotels have benefited from RDX's landmark connections with wholesalers such as GTA, meta-sites such as TripAdvisor and booking sites from booming travel markets such as Russia via Ostrovok.

"Bookings via more established Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), of course, remain a critical component of a hotel's distribution strategy, but increasingly, so are other points of sale – and, with RDX, hotels can connect with them all," he says.

"With the increase in hotel usage, SiteMinder now has a customer base spanning more than 140 countries in all key markets. Our global expansion over the past year has also successfully achieved our goal of establishing global service delivery and operations centers in the Americas, APAC, Europe and Africa to support hotels within these regions."

Related Link: SiteMinder

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The next chapter in the convergence of OTAs and metasearch

July 22, 2014

The distinctions between online travel agencies such as Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz, and travel metasearch sites such as Kayak, TripAdvisor and Hipmunk are getting really blurry.

Metasearch sites such as Kayak, TripAdvisor and Hipmunk, which traditionally shuttled users to online travel agency or hotel/air/car rental sites when it came time to complete their bookings, over the last couple of years have optionally let travelers book online travel agency-like without leaving the metasearch app.

With travel metasearch the fastest growing channel in travel, until now online travel agencies could be divided into the haves and have-nots in terms of owning a metasearch site or not — Expedia Inc. controls Trivago and the Priceline Group owns Kayak.

But, if you consider it a valuable asset to own such a metasearch site, online travel agencies Orbitz Worldwide, Travelocity/, CheapOair and eDreams Odigeo are metasearch paupers.

Get the full story at Skift

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Rising group demand adds to hotel negotiating difficulties

July 22, 2014

"I expect this is going to be a very difficult RFP season," Financial Industry Regulatory Authority manager of corporate travel services Carol McDowell said in June during The BTN Group's Trends & Forecasts event in Washington, D.C. "I was hopeful last year, but last year was really difficult. The main driver is that conferences, conventions and citywides are back big-time, and hotels don't know whether they want to give away the rooms."

The U.S. hotel industry currently is experiencing "very steady demand increases," STR president Amanda Hite said in June during the New York University International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference. Through April, year-over-year demand growth was 3.8 percent, which was much higher than anticipated, she added.

While transient demand growth has led the recovery, U.S. hotels also saw an increase in group demand during the first four months of this year. Those increases were spread evenly between luxury and upper upscale hotels, Hite said.

Get the full story at Business Travel News

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BCD Travel pilots tripBAM, driving hotel savings for corporate clients

July 22, 2014

Encouraged by the promise of tripBAM, BCD Travel is expanding the pilot program this summer to include a larger group of clients, as more companies seek creative technologies to combat rising hotel costs and increase hotel attachment rates.

tripBAM’s hotel shopping service uses patent-pending “cluster” shopping processes to find savings on more than 60 percent of hotel groups searched, with average savings of more than $50 per night. BCD Travel is a leading global travel management company, recording more than $22 billion in sales in 2013. The global TMC will highlight its full range of offerings at booth # 1239 at the Global Business Travel Association conference in Los Angeles on July 26-30.

“tripBAM addresses two current challenges. It makes hotel rate fluctuations visible and actionable to business travelers, and also makes travelers more informed hotel shoppers by exposing them to relevant lower cost alternatives through its cluster capabilities,” said April Bridgeman, senior vice president of strategic marketing at BCD Travel. “With increasingly sophisticated hotel revenue management practices driving frequent rate changes, this service helps us discover opportunities to achieve same hotel savings as well as to steer travelers to preferred hotels.”

BCD Clients See Improved Hotel Compliance Opportunities via tripBAM

BCD client Sapient, a leading global provider of business technology and consulting services, began its tripBAM pilot in the second quarter of 2014. Shopping a mix of preferred hotel suppliers and select properties outside of Sapient’s program, tripBAM delivered savings opportunities on 39 percent of clusters shopped. “The results we’ve seen so far are most promising,” said Michelle De Costa, director of global travel and client experience for Sapient. “As we work with BCD to put together hotel cluster searches using tripBAM, we’re also seeing increased use of our preferred hotels.”

WellPoint, one of the nation’s leading health benefits companies, initially piloted tripBAM to shop for rate savings only at the property already booked by the traveler. Shopping only this limited scope, when savings were found, WellPoint averaged a room rate reduction of $44 per booking. “This initial test, even on such a small scale, shows there are new, incremental savings to be found in traditional travel categories,” said Cindy Heston, director of travel and events at WellPoint. “We’re taking steps now to expand our tripBAM searches to clusters that will bias towards our preferred hotel partners.” WellPoint uses Tbiz, a division of BCD Travel, to manage its travel, and the company recently expanded the range of its hotel cluster searches to also include preferred properties.

BCD Automation and Service Enhance tripBAM’s Cost-Saving Services

When tripBAM delivers a new hotel option that meets the corporate client’s savings threshold and program guidelines, BCD delivers a customized email to the traveler that clearly describes the current hotel, the new hotel option, the amount of savings, and a simple click to accept or decline the opportunity. A larger, more varied group of BCD clients are now piloting tripBAM, testing a range of services that include:

- Integration that facilitates tripBAM shopping on hotel bookings made by any corporate self-booking tool, as well as traditional offline bookings made by BCD agents

- The deployment of preferred hotel savings thresholds that improve compliance

- Automatic re-booking of lower rates at same-hotels, adding efficiency and ensuring use of low rates

- Automated copying of the traveler’s manager on the email detailing the savings option, a tactic that has proven to improve compliance in the majority of travel programs

- Customized clusters that can be limited exclusively to preferred hotels and chains

“tripBAM’s creative approach to seeking out hotel savings while meeting corporate program guidelines represents the exact mix of new technology and elegant service that corporate travel managers look for today, and that will increase travelers' confidence in their managed travel program,” said Bridgeman. “Our expanded pilots are intended to test not the technology but traveler behavior. We want to measure how often savings opportunities revealed by the tool are actually accepted by travelers, under what conditions and by which traveler types so we can determine more realistic savings opportunities for our clients. Dependent on these results, we will decide whether or not to offer it more broadly.”

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Hyatt reorganizes for increased adaptability and effectiveness

July 22, 2014

Mark Hoplamazian, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, today announced organizational changes designed to support Hyatt’s strategy of driving preference by providing distinctive brand experiences. The changes include the integration of the global operations structure, the formation of an integrated team to lead the Company’s select service business and the creation of a new global franchising strategy function.

Chuck Floyd has been selected as Global President of Operations, effective August 1, 2014. In this newly created role, Floyd will continue to lead and develop the Company’s Global Operations Center (GOC), Hyatt’s shared operation services organization, and will assume responsibility for the operation of Hyatt’s hotels globally. The Group Presidents for each of Hyatt’s three regions will report to Floyd.

“Chuck and his team have made important strides in fostering an enterprise-wide perspective across the company. The closer connection we are establishing now between the GOC and the regions will strengthen our ability to implement global processes and programs efficiently, while maintaining our ability to adapt quickly to local and regional market needs,” Hoplamazian said. “I expect to maintain a high degree of visibility and engagement with the regional teams as Chuck works to create better coordination and efficiency in areas where a common approach across the Company is appropriate.”

Floyd is a 33-year Hyatt veteran who has served in a wide variety of hotel and corporate positions and was Chief Operating Officer for North America from 2006 to 2011. He has been Group President, GOC since 2012.

Pete Sears has been selected as Group President – Americas, effective September 1, 2014, and will report to Floyd. In this role, Sears will be responsible for the growth and successful operation of Hyatt’s portfolio in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the course of a 27-year Hyatt career, Sears has held numerous positions of increasing operational responsibility. He served as general manager of several full service hotels and later as Senior Vice President, Operations in North America, and has been Senior Vice President, Operations for Asia Pacific since 2012.

Steve Haggerty’s role will expand to include responsibility for Hyatt’s franchising strategy and select service business, two key growth areas for the Company. Haggerty will serve as Global Head of Capital Strategy, Franchising and Select Service, effective August 1, 2014.

“We recognize franchising and select service as key areas of growth over the coming years, and I am confident that Steve’s experience and leadership will enhance our performance and success in these two areas,” Hoplamazian said.

Haggerty has been with Hyatt since 2007 when he joined the company as Global Head of Development and Real Estate. Prior to joining Hyatt, he held a number of finance, asset management and development roles at Marriott in various locations around the world. Haggerty has been Global Head of Real Estate and Capital Strategy at Hyatt since 2012.

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Millennials warming up to agents

July 22, 2014

The news for travel agents from MMGY Global’s annual report on American travelers is both good and in one respect surprising.

Not only is a bigger percentage of travelers using the services of agents, but in a recent 12-month period millennials accounted for the highest usage of any generation.

MMGY’s 2014 Portrait of American Travelers found that 18% of all respondents booked trips with an agent between February 2013 and February 2014. That’s up a healthy 50% from a year earlier, when 12% booked through an agent.

And, “perhaps counter-intuitively,” the report said, more millennials booked with agents during the year than any other generation. Specifically, 28% of millennials used an agent, 21% of matures, 15% of Gen Xers, and 13% of boomers.

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

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Omni Hotels CIO on the evolution of the guest experience

July 22, 2014

Singleton describes her role as a strategic one that uses her technical background to provide insights that impact a hotel group’s total operation and brand strategies. Her recent arrival at Omni is part of hotel brand’s efforts to develop and implement new technology for a more sophisticated guest experience.

Skift talked with Singleton two weeks into her time with Omni on technology’s changing role in hospitality, how it impacts the role of a hospitality CIO, and what projects she’s looking forward to working on.

Get the full story at Skift

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Sabre hackathon challenges software developers to create solutions for travel

July 22, 2014

The company, which creates software for the travel industry, has released four challenges facing its clients. Sabre is asking for developers to take a stab at integrating travel into the social media and other online experiences, driving value in travel through data-driven decisions and combining different application programming interfaces to create a new product.

The winner of the hackathon will receive a grand prize worth more than $15,000. It includes a $5,000 in cash and a $10,000 credit for the use of Sabre’s APIs. Each winner on the team will also receive a $1,000 gift card for or Apple and team members present will have the chance to win technology gear.

Judges include Andrew Levi, founder and chief technology officer at Blue Calypso Inc.; Chris Roche, Bottle Rocket Apps principal; Ben Vinod, Sabre senior vice president; Jennifer Conley, cofounder of The Dallas Entreprenuer Center; and Jake Smith, software engineer at Mashery. They will be evaluating entries based on technical quality, design, originality and how well the solution meets the challenge it's meant to resolve.

Get the full story at Dallas Business Journal

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Online travel companies need open solutions to thrive in ultra-competitive market

July 22, 2014

Modern travel technology is about creating an evolving online platform: delivering an innovative, compelling and constantly improving experience for the end customer. These platforms are built on bespoke integration.

Where the web has created the harshly competitive environment of the modern travel marketing, it is increasingly web technologies that offer businesses the best solution. The web has fostered the growth of new technologies that are built on the ideas of openness and interoperability.

The age of content management systems (CMS) is effectively over and has paved the way to web experience management and customer experience management platforms. These solutions offer proven integrations to personalization, e-commerce, marketing automation and customer relationship management systems while adapting to the any device, from mobile, desktop and television experiences.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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Hotel brands must improve metasearch visibility

July 21, 2014

Hotel brands are increasingly squeezed by the metasearch dominance of online travel agencies and Google, according to a new report by L2. The report “Metasearch Insight Report: Prestige Hotels” illuminates the metasearch landscape to help hotel brands understand the challenges they face and the opportunities available.

A metasearch engine aggregates results from other search engines and prioritizes the results. Brands that pay for placement will be highly visible, while brands that ignore the engines will be hard to find. Although consumers still visit OTAs and brand travel service Web sites more frequently, metasearch engines are gaining ground.

According to PhoCusWright, more than a third of United States consumers likely to book online and more than half of Chinese consumers likely to do the same use metasearch engines. Younger consumers are also more likely to use metasearch sites. PhoCusWright also determined that OTAs are winning the visibility battle on metasearch engines.

In the coming years, it is likely that consumers will flock to metasearch sites for the breadth and ease of use they offer. If this happens, brands that are not “paying to play” will cede substantial revenue to OTAs that, for survival’s sake, seize upon trends when they emerge.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily and L2

Read also "Starwood dominates L2′s hotel digital index" at L2

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Disney to restrict travel sellers from buying search terms

July 21, 2014

The new policy goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. It is being added to, the company’s existing marketing guidelines for travel sellers. The policy also restricts travel professionals from using Disney trademarks, trade names and service marks in domains as either the destination URL or as the display URL, or as a subdomain.

The news comes just after tour operator Tauck released a similar policy, effective Sept. 1, 2014, stating that the Tauck name may no longer be used in domain names, subdomain names or website URLs not owned by Tauck.

Similarly, on Jan. 1, 2010, Carnival Corp. instituted a policy prohibiting travel agencies from bidding on their trademarks as keywords in online searches, a move that was met with frustration by travel sellers who use search engine optimization - buying keywords to improve their search engine results - as a key element in their online marketing strategy.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

Read also "Travel sellers react to Disney’s keyword crackdown" at Travel Weekly

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Russian online travel market heats up

July 21, 2014

According to the government agency Rostourism, Russians travelled abroad 47.8 million times in 2012, including 15 million times for touristic purposes, with Egypt and Turkey being the most popular destinations. The average price for package tours reached $1,800-$2,000.

But competition is fierce. Not only does OnlineTours compete with offline travel agencies, which are ubiquitous in Russia, but online tour offers have also developed dramatically over the past few years.

Among OnlineTours’ online competitors is, a startup launched in 2011 that received capital injections of $5 million last year and $7 millon earlier this month.

Last month, in another segment,, a major online hotel reservation service, secured $12 millionfrom Russian investors, coming in addition to the $38 million it had raised in previous years.

Get the full story at VentureBeat

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How Airbnb’s redesign supports the next generation of mobile travelers

July 21, 2014

The redesign reduces the amount of text to put a bigger emphasis on informational visuals, including the introduction of video. The result is a more personalized experience designed to empower mobile-savvy travelers who are looking for a personal connection to the places they visit.

“By reducing the amount of text, using more compelling and informational visuals, including the addition of video, and focusing on lifestyle-oriented content, they are streamlining the most meaningful information and encouraging engagement by showing vs. telling,” said Jeff Anulewicz, executive director of strategy and analytics at MXM. “They are emphasizing that this is not just a replacement for a hotel, but an invite to join a new community of trusted travelers and hosts, to share an experience with a stranger and perhaps, for a moment step into someone else's life.

“In the end, this redesign is ultimately aimed at utilizing compelling content to drive greater engagement and consumer action, while looking to cement Airbnb as the leaders of the next wave of travel, where users are not just passive tourists looking for a deal, but explorers looking to engage with the people and places they visit in a more personal way,” he said.

Get the full story at the Mobile Marketer

Read also "What hoteliers can learn from Airbnb’s rebrand" at Hotel News Now

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Bill Marriott: Where hotels are going

July 21, 2014

"In four years, 60% of our business will be millennials," says Mr. Marriott, who adds with a laugh, "All of us old folks are moving on."

In addition to conducting focus-group research, Mr. Marriott says the company now pulls data from social media. For example, it asks guests for ideas of how to improve travel. When one wrote back asking for healthy vending machines, the company flew her to London to find items in farmers' markets that could be stored in a machine. Marriott plans to launch the first of its new nutritious vending machines—with items such as fresh fruit and energy bars—in Chicago this fall.

Marriott has also redesigned hotel rooms in its newer brands based on what customers want today. Millennials live out of their suitcases, Mr. Marriott says, so the company has made closets smaller and TVs and bathrooms bigger. It has gotten rid of in-room desks in many hotels. And a new line of Edition hotels—a collection of contemporary properties in London and Istanbul, with two more locations coming by the end of 2015—emphasizes the hotel's lounge and restaurant scene over the rooms. (The brand is a collaboration with Ian Schrager. ) Over 50% of the Edition brand's revenue comes from food and beverage rather than from room fees.

Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal

Read also "The secret to millennial loyalty? Service" at Hotel News Now

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Most marketers flop at real-time customer interactions

July 21, 2014

Real-time customer response isn’t a new phenomenon, by the way. B2B companies have been doing it for years. The best B2B firms are very responsive to customers. For example, if Walmart calls one of its suppliers, you can bet that the supplier drops everything and gives its important customer total attention.

But compared with consumer companies, B2B firms have relatively few customers. Keeping tabs on how your key accounts are feeling and what they want is more manageable if they number in the dozens, rather than the millions.

Ideally, what consumer companies need is an adaptive personalization system that can analyze the customer base and figure out not only which products are trending and why but what would be the best personalized product (often an information service) for each customer.

Get the full story at Harvard Business Review

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Where is the U.S. traveling this summer?

July 21, 2014

This summer is all about fun in the sun! 4 out of 5 top destinations are sun stops for U.S. travelers. And 44% of travelers are within drive distance of their desired destination. New York and Los Angeles are far ahead the top destinations for the summer with Orlando, Miami and Vegas rounding out the top 5 most searched cities.

Check out the highlights in the infographic at nSight

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Sabre upgrades Hotel RFP solution

July 21, 2014

The upgraded solution offers a streamlined user experience across multiple processes to help increase efficiency and reduce training time for new users. The enhanced solution will be demonstrated at the Sabre booth during the 2014 Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention in Los Angeles.

In addition, Sabre is offering hotel program consulting services to travel buyers as an alternative to the self-service automation customers already enjoy. Sabre’s hotel program consulting services will assist companies with everything from managing implementation to gathering industry rate trends and negotiating corporate hotel programs on the behalf of the company.

“On average, 50 percent of hotel room nights are still booked outside the managed travel program, pointing to a significant opportunity for increased cost savings for corporations. Effective negotiation is key to controlling these costs,” said Alex Alt, president, Sabre Hospitality Solutions. “Hotel RFP helps corporate travel managers and travel management companies maximize the value of their hotel spend whether they want hands-on, personal consulting services or the convenience of our self-service online solution.

According to the GBTA, corporate travel spend continues to grow, particularly with travel from the US to international locations. As a result, travel buyers are relying on Sabre Hotel RFP to increase their global buying power to achieve better rates. Sabre Hotel RFP users negotiated for nearly $81 million in unique corporate transient room night spend last year, more than 5 percent over 2012. Also, buyers increased the amount of business awarded to hotels by nearly 10 percent – which translates to increased responses and better rates from hotels.

As part of the development process, Sabre conducted a usability test on the new Hotel RFP interface, resulting in a 96 percent completion rate with users who had little to no training on the product.

Sabre Hotel RFP is an online marketplace that helps corporations effectively solicit bids and negotiate rates and amenities with hotels, as well as audit the actual hotel rates received. Nearly 1,200 travel buyers use Sabre Hotel RFP to drive cost savings and increased return on investment for their corporate hotel program. Integrated with the Sabre travel marketplace, Sabre Hotel RFP allows customers to source more than 130,000 hotels, manage countless hotel bids and pull from an extensive set of reports and exports including a negotiated rate benchmark and the ability to create custom reports.

Related Link: Sabre Hotel RFP

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How hotel marketers are trying to understand the new silent traveler

July 18, 2014

Just two years into a series of new digital and mobile programs, Silcock said Hilton Worldwide’s customer service is indeed addressing elements of the demographic our silent-traveler model represents. Hilton Worlwide is well aware of the consumer that prefers search and/or prefers social media when it comes to in-destination decisions.

Consider what its product Hilton Suggests does in this space. Launched in 2012, the company’s social-media based service not only allows a mobile-equipped customer to ask questions — for example, what should they do in an area they’re visiting (3) — but, according to Silcock, it also allows Hilton to proactively scan social chatter for problems that might arise at one of the brand’s properties. These brand listeners are especially looking for the kind of challenges that the silent traveler might not bring directly to Hilton’s staff.

“Our team was monitoring, and they actually heard from somebody who was in their room, in one of our hotels, who’d shared socially that they had an issue with their air conditioning,” Silcock said. “They didn’t call the front desk. They didn’t talk to the hotel. But we heard them through our Hilton Suggests service and that team engaged — and we went to that customer in the hotel to resolve that problem.

Get the full story at Skift

Read also "A new model to look at mobile-first consumers: The rise of silent travelers"

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Preparing for IPO, Travelport to sell most of Orbitz stake

July 18, 2014

Travelport had $3.4 billion in long-term debt as of March 31, a decrease of almost $500 million from a year earlier.

Orbitz, perhaps spurred by the share-sale announcement, on Wednesday announced preliminary second-quarter results, saying revenue rose 10% from a year earlier to $248 million.

Second-quarter adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) rose 8.1% to $45 million. The company reported that the number of booked hotel room nights rose 20% from a year earlier.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Airbnb’s new logo prompts claims of theft

July 18, 2014

Unveiled today in San Francisco, the new Airbnb logo--or Belo, as the home rental service is calling it--looks like a heart bent out of a paper clip. Some people like it; others think it looks like genitals (male or female, no one's really sure). The one thing everyone should be able to agree on is that it looks an awful lot like logos that are already out there.

In Fast Company's story about the design of the Belo, Austin Carr reports that the new symbol was designed to abstract the shapes of a heart, a house, and a location pin, all while evoking the shape of the "A" in Airbnb. We have to wonder if, when Automation Anywhere commissioned its nearly identical logo, the spec was similar. After all, both companies start with the letter "A" and involve using tech to interact with remote locations. "Give us a logo that looks like an 'A' with a house and a location pin in it, stat!"

Something tells me Automation Anywhere got its logo at a fraction of the cost Airbnb paid. Which is good. Because the problem with the new Airbnb Belo isn't just that it looks like a bicycle seat combined with a Burn After Reading style masturbation device. It's that no matter how good and thoughtful your design process is, you still need to make sure other people haven't come up with your design first.

Get the full story at Fast Company

Read also "Airbnb unveils a major rebranding effort that paves the way for sharing more than homes" at Fast Company

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Corporate travel feeling the pinch of new technology and smarter consumers

July 18, 2014

At the Travelport APAC Customer & Partner Conference in Bali, a key topic of discussion was the changes going on in the corporate travel segment.

Puneet Mahindroo of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, said the most discernible trend was the mixing of corporate and leisure travel by executives. Because it’s become so easy to plan and book leisure travel these days, executives were taking advantage of business trips to extend them to vacation time.

However Tommy Tan, managing director of Arrow Travel, had a different take, “Habits are changing. Technology has allowed for more and better video conferencing facilities. Corporate travellers now travel in and out of a destination faster and don’t spend as much.”

Get the full story at Web In Travel

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Asian travelers most influenced by social media for beach holidays

July 18, 2014

The report found that 60 per cent of Asian respondents felt social media platforms were 'very/somewhat influential' when choosing a beach holiday destination, compared to 39 per cent and 24 per cent for their North American and European counterparts respectively.

Other influencing factors include last-minute packages. Thais (67 per cent), South Korean (65 per cent) and Japanese (64 per cent) were most likely to be influenced by bargain deals.

Vikram Malhi, general manager for Expedia in Asia, commented: “Asian travellers are not just booking their travel on their devices, they are also sharing their travel experiences and researching on mobile more readily than their Western counterparts.”

“Mobile is a huge area of investment for Expedia, and the findings reinforce our aim to offer travellers a complete experience, from pre-booking to post-vacation, across devices.”

Get the full story at TTG Asia and Expedia

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Travel products getting increasingly lavish

July 18, 2014

Like other areas of life, from education to housing to retirement savings, travel is something where the truly wealthy are pulling away not just from average Americans but also from the merely rich. And they are driving demand for the most exclusive trips.

According to data collected by Virtuoso, a network of 8,900 top travel agents who serve two million customers, travelers who spend at least $100,000 a year on trips have increased their annual spending at two to three times the rate of the regular traveler over the past seven years. (Those regular travelers, in the company’s parlance, still spend $10,000 a year on a vacation.)

Last year, National Geographic Expeditions, known for its trips to places like Antarctica, the Galápagos and the Kalahari with archaeologists in tow, organized two around-the-world trips by private jet. The cost was $77,000 per person for 24 days and both trips, carrying 78 people each, sold out. By comparison, it costs $23,000 to be one of 148 on a 25-day trip to Antarctica.

“One of the common links among our travelers is they’re curious, passionate and they’re looking for unique and authentic experiences,” said Lynn Cutter, executive vice president for travel and licensing at National Geographic Society.

Get the full story at The New York Times

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ReviewPro announces partnership with IDeaS Revenue Solutions

July 18, 2014

ReviewPro, the leading provider of online reputation and social media analytics for the hotel industry, announces a new revenue management capability developed in partnership with IDeaS Revenue Solutions, a leading provider of pricing and revenue management software, services and consulting. The IDeaS Reputation Pricing module is an innovative solution that provides hotels with fully automated pricing recommendations, capitalizing on the relationship between online reputation and pricing to generate revenue uplift.

IDeaS Reputation Pricing module integrates data from IDeaS’ Revenue Management System (RMS) and creates a powerful, graphical visualization of market position for rate and reputation based on online ratings and reviews. The module adds another layer of information to a hotel’s pricing capabilities, allowing companies to take a more comprehensive look at their competitive positioning and make tactical pricing adjustments. It aligns and optimizes a hotel’s Best Available Rates (BAR), which accounts not only for a consumer’s sensitivity to price, but also the correlations between price and reputation for the entire market.

By enhancing a hotel’s pricing capability with reputation data found in online reviews and ratings, with the Global Review Index™ (GRI), this new pricing module helps revenue managers to identify and realize opportunities and strengthen a hotel’s overall yield management program.

Key benefits include:

- Obtain a new automated BAR recommendation which now includes competitive reputation performance in addition to competitive rates

- Identify, validate, and quantify the revenue opportunity of reputation impacted pricing

- Assess and visualize market position in relation to competitors’ rate and reputation performance

“We have a commitment to our customers and the marketplace to create innovative solutions to drive better revenue,” says Sanjay Nagalia, CEO of IDeaS. “Social platforms and peer-to-peer recommendations are not going away, and customer behavior online continues to have an impact on a hotel’s reputation, and ultimately its pricing. We’re eager to serve our customer base with this innovative feature.”

ReviewPro CEO, RJ Friedlander, says, “We’re very happy to partner with IDeaS, an innovative leader in the area of revenue management. In today’s technology and social media-driven climate, for better or worse, a hotel’s online reputation directly impacts revenue potential. The integration of our data into IDeaS’ product gives savvy revenue managers an important leg-up on competitors in their effort to maximize BAR.”

IDeaS will harness the industry-leading GRI, an online reputation score which is calculated from reviews in 40+ languages in more than 100 online travel agencies and review sites and originally developed in collaboration with mathematicians, hotel industry experts and leading academic institutions. The GRI offers unparalleled benchmarking capabilities for individual hotels, groups of hotels or brands. In fact, the Cornell School of Hotel Administration published a landmark study on the correlation between hotel reputation and revenue and revealed that, on average, a 1-point increase in a hotel’s GRI™ score leads to a 0.89% in price (ADR), a 0.54% increase in occupancy and a 1.42% increase in revenue per available room (RevPAR).

ReviewPro client Loews Hotels will serve as a charter client for the company’s first-to-market Reputation Pricing module as part of the latest version of IDeaS Revenue Management System (RMS). “Our hotels have always had a strong focus on reputation management, and we’re looking forward to incorporating this data into our pricing analysis process,” says Monica Xuereb, vice president of revenue management for Loews Hotels. “IDeaS Reputation Pricing module is a first-of-its-kind solution, and we look forward to continue our partnership with IDeaS in evolving how we think about customer perception and pricing.”

Related Link: ReviewPro

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Google Analytics gets its own dedicated iPhone app

July 18, 2014

Google has launched an official Google Analytics app for iPhone, providing the same data you’re used to from your web dashboard on your mobile device, including visits, sources, page views and user behavior insights. The app also offers Real Time reports, which provides monitoring of site activity as it unfolds.

The Real Time analytics may be a killer feature for this mobile app, as it means that website operators can now get at-a-glance information about their site’s current activity directly in their pocket, instead of having to resort to the web or without owning an Android app, where the mobile Analytics software made its first appearance back in June. Back when that app launched, Google had said it was “definitely thinking” about an iOS release to follow – and with this launch coming just under a month later, seems like they were thinking pretty hard.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

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The real value of mobile hotel marketing

July 17, 2014

Here’s a look at the real value of mobile marketing for your hotel.

1. You know you’re speaking to your customers in a way that reaches them. Smartphones and tablets have evolved from technology tools to highly personalized devices that consumers have come to depend on daily. Not only do consumers use their mobile devices as a way to store and carry highly personal information—including photos, business and contact information, and financial data—smartphones and tablets are quite frequently kept on their person.

Unlike a direct mail piece or advertising in a newspaper or magazine where your intended audience might not even note the tactic or message, there’s a high probability that if your target consumers aren’t already connected to a mobile device somewhere, they will be soon. According to some estimates, consumers check their mobile devices more than 100 times a day and spend at least two hours a day interacting with them.

2. You can put insights into context. One of the surface benefits of a mobile strategy may include the ability to geolocate strategies delivered through mobile advertising at the moment your customer is looking for a hotel like yours. But there’s a bigger picture. You can leverage the context to the mobile user’s activity and interests for a more relevant mobile effort, especially in the hospitality industry.

For example, some airlines have found success using branded mobile apps to notify customers of a gate change or departure delay. They then continue to keep the same app equally functional to the same customer for a different reason, such as guiding the user to various destinations outside the airport. Hoteliers can leverage the same type of contextual messaging to develop a highly relevant mobile strategy that reaches far beyond overt marketing to form a repeat interaction and a value-added relationship with customers.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

Read also "Marriott expands mobile platform to integrate with iBeacons"

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Airbnb launches redesign, with reimagined listings and new logo

July 17, 2014

The functional elements of the website and mobile apps will largely stay the same, following a massive overhaul Airbnb did last year. But it’s updated the look and feel of both with this update.

With the launch of the new site, Airbnb has largely gone “flat,” swapping out its previous design filled with shadows and gradients and instead filling it with more white space and a common font throughout. It stripped text that used to be overlaid on top of photos and placed it below the images and added host photos alongside listings, so guests know whose place they’ll be staying at.

That starts with Airbnb’s Discover feed, which has been updated to take into account more information about a user’s location to show nearby listings and destinations. For folks in San Francisco, that could mean listings at nearby “getaway” spots such as Tahoe, or popular destinations like Los Angeles or Portland.

Get the full story at TechCrunch and VentureBeat

Read also "Airbnb’s new logo looks a lot this other company’s logo" at VentureBeat and "New Airbnb logo wants you to draw it like one of your french logos" at TechCrunch

Article location: ramps up European push with German branding campaign

July 17, 2014 said it listed its first German hotel on the platform 14 years ago and has seen healthy growth in the German market since. It has doubled the number of local properties since the beginning of last year to 26,000.

The firm said that as well as growing its online accommodation booking business the site plans to expand and take on more staff in Germany. It now employs nearly 800 people across 4 major cities, including two customer service centres in Berlin.

Get the full story at Travolution

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The art of the airline apology

July 17, 2014

If you've ever felt that airlines talk to you like a child, you're not alone.

Airlines say they try to make responses conversational and personal. They aim to apologize and acknowledge the problem, providing more information about the particular situation after research, then offering some compensation as a goodwill gesture, such as some frequent-flier miles. Letters are signed by an employee, though many use pseudonyms.

Complaints are sorted by complexity and by the value of the customer - top-tier frequent fliers and big spenders get priority. A low-level customer may get 3,000 frequent-flier miles for a canceled flight, while a high-value customer who complains is soothed with 10,000 miles.

Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal

Read also "Apologizing to retain customers" at New York Hospitality

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Hotels reward guests for Twitter, Facebook posts

July 17, 2014

Today, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants will launch Kimpton Karma Rewards, a new loyalty program designed to recognize guests for actions such as attending a property's nightly wine hour, traveling with their pet, dining at a Kimpton restaurant, or mentioning an individual hotel or restaurant on social media.

This follows on the heels of Marriott introducing PlusPoints in May, which allows members to earn Rewards points for "everyday social behaviors" such as tweets, retweets, checking in on Facebook and posting on Instagram.

"Loyalty as a concept is not just about transactions," says Maggie Lang, senior director of guest marketing at Kimpton. "Karma is rewarding engagement."

Get the full story at USA Today

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Guests much more satisfied with hotels, study says

July 17, 2014

Still, J.D. Power and Associates' annual survey of North American hotel guests found that Millennials aren't necessarily less loyal to hotel brands. The percentage of Millennials who said they're highly committed to a brand was 27%, compared with 25% of travelers of other generations.

"If you treat a Millennial traveler well and take them seriously, take their concerns seriously, you can have the Millennial traveler for life," says Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. "They absolutely represent a great opportunity for a hotel company."

The survey, now in its 18th year, is based on responses gathered from more than 67,000 guests who stayed in hotels in North America from May 2013 to May 2014.

Get the full story at USA Today

Read also "The secret to millennial loyalty? Service" at Hotel News Now

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Staycations: This summer’s most popular destination is in your backyard

July 17, 2014

Where are the most popular getaways this summer? Hint: They’re closer to home than you might think. A look at Google Search trends shows that the “staycation” is bigger than ever, and people are often looking for hotels in their own backyard. If they do hit the road, travelers are visiting destinations you might not expect.

Check out the infographic Think with Google to see who’s going where.

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Mandarin Oriental trials Microsoft in-room tablets

July 17, 2014

The devices, which are available in nine different languages, will also include information about the hotels’ facilities.

“We’re always pushing ourselves to create unique, premium guest experiences,” said Monika Nerger, Mandarin Oriental’s chief information officer.

“We are currently operating in 25 countries, and with our expansion into new markets we needed a powerful, secure, yet easy-to-manage solution with robust language support, which Microsoft technologies can offer.

Get the full story at Travel Daily

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Consumers and businesses at odds over future of mobile technology in hospitality

July 16, 2014

Additionally, while speeding up service delivery and payments were the lowest prioritised uses of mobile technology for business leaders, over a third of consumers said they would use their smartphones for ordering (31 per cent) and payment (30 per cent).

Both businesses (73 per cent) and consumers (33 per cent) agreed that mobile booking and reservations will be important in the future, but consumers (35 per cent) put receiving vouchers and special offers as the biggest priority when it comes to mobile technology.

“While social media is an important channel for dealing with customer service issues, it seems that it’s not something where hospitality businesses can join the conversation at the table,” said Matthew Cox of the Hospitality Division at Omnico Group.

Get the full story at Big Hospitality

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The mobile opportunities that lie in wait for TripAdvisor

July 16, 2014

The service was launched in the US in June initially to a limited user base and with three partners; Tingo, and Choice Hotels. A batch of European markets is likely to get it next, although the task outside the US is complicated by local laws around data compliance.

In an interview with Travolution, Joost Schreve, vice-president for mobile, said discussions were ongoing with all of the site’s meta-search partners about them benefitting from Instant Booking including Expedia, the OTA it became independent from in 2011.

“We are essentially talking to all partners. We have on-going conversations with Expedia, we’ve not launched with them yet, but Expedia is one of them and is obviously important.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Airbnb revamps review system, launches complete brand redesign this week

July 16, 2014

The first change is that reviews will now be revealed to hosts and guests simultaneously: they will only be shown after both participants have completed their assessment of the experience. This is in response to both hosts and guests worrying that if they leave an honest review, they might receive an unfairly critical review in response.

Next, the review period is being shortened from 30 days to 14 days. Airbnb says 90 percent of hosts and guests who leave a review, do so within two weeks. The change is thus being made so that the feedback people provide is based on a more recent impression. If after the 14-day review period only the host or the guest has left a review from a completed trip, Airbnb will make that review public to both the recipient and the community.

In addition, Airbnb will launch a brand redesign this week during an event for top hosts and guests. Taking a break from its legislative turmoil, Airbnb last week quietly announced a live-streamed event, which is Wednesday, to “show you where we’re heading next.” At least a portion of the announcement is for Airbnb’s new identity, which the company describes as being a “multi-state moving identity,” a “3D modular symbol,” and “adaptive to environments.”

Get the full story at The Next Web and VentureBeat

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How China is sculpting the hotel industry

July 16, 2014

According to China Information Network Information Center, China now sports an Internet usage rate of 45.8 percent. That equates to 618 million Internet users, including 500 million mobile Internet users. More than 90 percent of these users reportedly have a social media account. That’s why it makes sense that free Wi-Fi is now the most important amenity for Chinese travelers (59 percent surveyed). Nearly three-fourths (71 percent) ask about free Wi-Fi when staying at hotels.

"We saw that Chinese travelers—as well as many other cultures—continue to increase their reliance on the Web—the importance of Wi-Fi, as well as mobile technologies," said Taylor L. Cole, APR, Director of PR and Social Media for North America. "Keeping in mind, today’s travelers want to stay connected, they want to stay in sync with social media networks and they want to stay informed. Anything that hotels can do to help to keep them in closer contact is certainly a benefit."

Hotels around the world are offering services specific to the Chinese traveler as a result. For example, Chinese travelers to Hilton Hotels & Resorts in Vancouver and Toronto are offered Chinese television programming in their hotel rooms. Hyatt Regency, Chicago, offers a Chinese TV channel.

Get the full story at Travel Pulse

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