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TripAdvisor puts new focus on Chinese market with new name, app

May 28, 2015

The company said in a release its new China mobile app would "better serve Mainland Chinese outbound travelers, Chinese-speaking users from Hong Kong, Taiwan, as well as the rapidly growing diaspora of Chinese natives living and studying around the world."

TripAdvisor said already it's logged over 60 million sessions from Chinese users worldwide in the first four months of 2015.

The company reported revenue for the first three months of this year of $363 million. Asia-Pacific revenue increased 20 percent to $42 million — representing 12 percent of total sales.

Source: Boston Business Journal

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Priceline takes pricey path to China

May 28, 2015

Priceline and Ctrip have a relationship that dates back to 2012, though it was mostly a marketing partnership until last year’s equity deal. This latest deal would indicate that both sides are satisfied with the partnership’s development, which probably means that Priceline is letting its Chinese partner run its own operation. Such a strategy looks smart, as previous attempts by global names like Yahoo and eBay to impose their ideas on Chinese acquisitions ultimately led to the failure of those endeavors.

Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten previously purchased 20 percent of Ctrip in 2004, but ultimately ended up dumping the stake a few years later after it failed to find any synergies. More recently Ctrip also reportedly considered merging last year with Qunar, its largest local rival that is controlled by leading search engine Baidu. But those talks ultimately collapsed, most likely over issues of who would control the merged company.

All of this deal-making shows that Ctrip is becoming keenly aware that it may need some outside help to maintain its market-leading position, and that it’s most concerned about the threat from Qunar. This latest deal looks mildly positive for both Ctrip and Priceline, though I expect the latter may ultimately be disappointed if and when the investment fails to bring much in terms of new revenue. But at least the partnership is off to a positive start, which is often the case when western companies decide to take a try at the difficult Chinese Internet market.

Get the full story at Forbes

Read also "Priceline sees a future in China, Expedia doesn’t"

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Hotels getting increasingly aggressive with hidden fees

May 28, 2015

"This thing is out of control and there's no end in sight," said Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate and author of "How to be the World's Smartest Traveler." "The practice is extremely deceptive. But the hotel industry is not only doing this, they're doing this increasingly aggressively."

Consider a consumer attempting to book an "Express Deal" for a four-star Las Vegas hotel on Four hotels in this category were recently advertising bargain-basement rates of less than $50 a night, one for as little as $33. But consumers who clicked through to book one of these super-cheap rooms would find add-on fees at three of the four hotels. Indeed, the supposedly cheapest offering -- the room advertised at $33 -- tacked on an "additional mandatory fee" of $28, boosting the real room rate by 85 percent.

A Priceline spokeswoman says the practice of tacking added fees onto the advertised price after a hotel is selected is not deceptive. Consumers are notified of the additional fee and the total cost of the booking, including the added fee, when they're still able to back out of the deal.

Get the full story at CBS News

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May 28, 2015

Thanks to reviews written by guests who have actually stayed in the properties, has introduced a new program to recognise hotels that have achieved excellent to outstanding guest review ratings from customers around the world.

In the first phase of the program, has identified more than 6,400 boutique properties in 117 countries that have achieved an average guest review rating of 4.5 or higher* (out of 5). To determine the initial recipients, analysed its database of more than 15 million Genuine Guest Reviews, which are verified upon the completion of each guest’s stay.

“Our accommodation partners are invaluable assets to and we’re committed to recognising their hard work and dedication to provide guests with the best possible experience,” said Jessica Chuang, Regional Marketing Director, Greater China, “This program is also a testament to our customers who’ve contributed to the more than 15 million guest reviews that determined these top-performing properties.”

Get the full story at Travel Daily News

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Internet Trend: Buy buttons are likely to appear everywhere

May 28, 2015

Mobile usage evolved rapidly, she said, from text to images to videos. Buy buttons are likely to appear just as seamlessly.

For good measure, Meeker also dove into topics like on-demand economy jobs, drone imagery and the China and India Internet markets.

Should you wish to review some 200 pages of charts and analysis, here’s the full slide deck.

Get the full story at re/code

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Twitter unveils new Audience Insights dashboard

May 28, 2015

In the example provided in Twitter’s official announcement, they outline the new data available and the ways in which it could be applied:

“For example, if you’re running a campaign to increase awareness about a new cosmetics line, you can use this tool to learn about your potential customers on Twitter — the beauty products they’ve recently purchased, what fashion trends they’re interested in and even TV viewing behavior. Based on this information, you can identify the best segments to target within Twitter Ads, along with which creative — such as a Vine or video clip — your audience will find most compelling.”

Get the full story at Social Media Today and Twitter

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Bright outlook for hotels this summer travel season

May 28, 2015

For the next 12 months (May 2015 – April 2016), overall committed occupancy* is up 2.8 percent when compared to the same time last year. ADR is up 4.7 percent based on reservations currently on the books.

Transient bookings (individual reservations made by business and leisure travelers) are up 3.9 percent year-over-year and ADR for this segment is up 5.1 percent. When broken down further, the transient leisure (discount, qualified and wholesale) segment is showing occupancy gains of 5 percent and ADR gains of 3.9 percent. Transient business (negotiated and retail) segment occupancy has improved from last month and is up 2.3 percent. ADR is up 6.7 percent. Group segment occupancy is ahead by 2.3 percent and ADR is up 3.7 percent, compared to the same time last year.

Get the full story at TravelClick

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Luxury hotels use summer initiatives to market less traditional locations

May 28, 2015

With Memorial Day marking the unofficial start of summer in the United States, luxury hotel brands are beginning to introduce summer initiatives at locations around the country, targeting guests looking for fun and exciting getaways.

Typical summer vacations might include yachting trips or visits to summer communities like Martha’s Vineyard or the Hamptons, but many hotels are offering unique packages to entice guests to visit less traditional locations. Outdoor adventure opportunities and summer camps for children are among some of the initiatives luxury hotels are introducing this summer that may bring guests to different locations.

“Summer is an activity-filled season in Park City,” said Bill Rock, chief operating officer of Waldorf Astoria Park City Mountain Resort. “We are happy to offer an extensive choice of recreation across two mountains.”

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Priceline sees a future in China, Expedia doesn’t

May 27, 2015

”Ctrip continues to be a very important partner for The Priceline Group in China, and we look forward to continuing to build upon that partnership,” said Priceline Chief Executive Darren Huston. “We consider Ctrip a market leader in China and we’re investing in a company and a team that we believe fits well with our long-term view of China as a market and the Chinese people as global travelers.”

Under the existing commercial partnership, Priceline’s hotel-booking site advertises Ctrip’s inventory of hotels in China. Ctrip, meanwhile, is able to offer its users a wider array of deals from Priceline’s platforms, including, for smaller hotels, OpenTable for restaurants and The companies on Tuesday said they would continue cross-promotion between brands.

Last week, Expedia Inc. sold its 62.4% majority stake in Chinese mobile and online travel service eLong Inc. to a group of buyers that included Ctrip.

Get the full story at Investor's Business Daily

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Traveling in Europe? A new search engine wants to show you every transportation option

May 27, 2015

GoEuro aims to change that. Since launching in April 2013, the company has brought in $31 million in seed and venture funding in hopes of disrupting the rail and bus industries.

CEO Naren Shaam conceived GoEuro while traveling around Europe in summer 2010 after receiving his MBA from Harvard; he was slated to start a job in New York City that fall. It wasn’t his first time backpacking—he’d enjoyed crisscrossing Southeast Asia several years earlier—but on this trip, as he traversed 14 European countries, he noticed a difference. “Ground transportation in Europe is superior to maybe the entire rest of the world,” he says. “Rail and bus are both very convenient.”

Shaam also realized that despite superb infrastructure, access to transit information was archaic, built on clunky legacy systems and outdated modes of doing business. “Every country is siloed,” he says, and as a traveler he faced numerous questions every day. If you want to get from London to Amsterdam, is it cheaper to take a train or fly? How can one determine the total travel time for a flight, including transport to the airport? Shouldn’t it be possible to plan a trip across networks and know the pricing for the entire route?

Get the full story at Entrepreneur

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Five data-driven travel marketing tips

May 27, 2015

Be Aggressive During Summer and Winter: Why? Because these are the times when people are most likely to book travel. For example, January saw a 27% year-over-year increase in travel searches. The months to focus on? For summer, June through August, and for winter December through January.

Bid on Brand Terms: There’s often debate on whether or not it’s worth it to bid on brand terms. The argument: “We’re already showing up organically so why would we spend money on our own terms?” Well, you’re not the only one showing up, your competitors are as well because they’re likely bidding, and sometimes out-bidding you and winning higher placement on your brand. Bing research proves that bidding on your own brand terms results in more clicks.

Be There Throughout the Entire Travel Journey: With 58% of travel spend occurring during the trip, it’s important to be there for all of those “micro-moments” that travelers have during their journeys. Marketers might not realize that travelers are more spontaneous then they might suspect. More than half of searches on hotel mobile websites take place within a week of a traveler’s booking window.

Get the full story at Wordstream

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How hotels can engage guests through social media

May 27, 2015

Installing Social Walls: The desire to connect with and meet new people is one that is shared by nearly all of mankind, but compelling any person to actively make connections with other guests during a hotel stay can be tricky. The Four Seasons Dallas, however, came up with a brilliant tactic to overcome this obstacle. During the Fourth of July holiday in 2013, the hotel unveiled “social walls” in its lobby. The walls consisted of screens that showed social posts of people staying at the hotel.

Go Beyond Just Booking with Hashtags: Brands like Trump and Loews allow their guests to book rooms directly through their companies’ pages on various social networks. Trump allows users to book straight from its Facebook page, while Loews provides the same service through Twitter. Conrad Hotels and Resorts also allow users to book a room through social media; its social network of choice, however, is Instagram.

Get the full story at Lodging

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New report shows which social tactics are most effective

May 27, 2015

To understand how marketers are using social media, Social Media Examiner commissioned it’s seventh annual 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report.

In this free report, you’ll discover:

- What social platforms marketers will focus on in the future
- The top social media questions marketers want answered
- How much time marketers invest with social media activities
- The top benefits of social media marketing and how time invested affects results
- The most common forms of content for social media marketing

Download the report at Social Media Examiner

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The three biggest challenges of today’s sales reps

May 27, 2015

A recent study identified three top challenges facing organizations this year.

1. Sales Rep Ramp-Up: According to the report, 36% of organizations find "ramping up new sales reps takes too long" as one of the top reasons why their teams are failing to reach their quota goals. Unlike other roles, sales is one of the only jobs where you hire somebody with the expectation that you'll lose money over the first six months. This results in not only organizations losing money but also in adding pressure to sales leaders.

2: Personalization and Communicating Value: Sales teams are not meeting quotas in large part because they are not personalizing the buyer journey and communicating value at every turn. Some 55% of the organizations indicated that the reason for this is that they struggle to identify the tailored selling content among all the materials they have.

Get the full story at MarketingProfs

Read also "The ever-changing role of the Chief Marketer" at Direct Marketing News

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Free webinar: Managing global social intelligence

May 27, 2015

Join Norm Rose, Phocuswright’s senior technology and corporate market analyst, and Donnell Wright, SDL's VP, social insight sales, on Thursday, June 4, 2015, at 12:00 pm EDT, as they provide a different view of social media, illustrating how language and localization can directly impact your brand image. Managing Global Social Intelligence – a FREE Phocuswright webinar sponsored by SDL – will review some of the latest Phocuswright research on social media trends and SDL will demonstrate how their solutions can help travel brands manage global social intelligence. Moderated by Phocuswright senior vice president of research, Lorraine Sileo, this 35-minute event includes a 15-minute Q&A session.

Topics include:

- Analysis into existing social media trends among travelers, including most popular activities
- Traveler usage of various networks by demographic
- How companies can track global brand social intelligence
- The challenges of managing global brands and the impact of local behavior and user-generated content on the brand strategy

Register now at Phocuswright

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Hotels in China need to dig deeper to handle their distribution connectivity better

May 27, 2015

“If customers are willingly buying via WeChat or group buying platforms, hotels need to cater to it. But if we compare the way international hotel entities approach their connectivity with their counterparts in China, Chinese players need to open their data to their partners – the new apps, bucketing platforms like Google, TripAdvisor etc. Hotels here need to reconsider the way the availability, rate and/or inventory (ARI) is to be distributed. Till this isn’t done hotels would end up missing out on revenue opportunity,” says Zhang. His Shanghai-based company is currently enabling and processing about 3,000,000 room night reservations every month.

Zhang says Hotel organizations need to consider several aspects in order to optimize their overall distribution technology initiative. “Connection (integrating a distribution system and a hotel reservation system to facilitate transaction and deliver reservations), caching (quick delivery of hotel data to partners), content (not only ARI but also static (say hotel description), semi-static (such as cancellation policy) and dynamic content), computing (computing power for handling data) and control (being in command of data, just not PMS-oriented work) are key to excel. The world of distribution is dynamic, so hotels need to be spontaneous in their decision-making. And if the system isn’t easy to connect, then the problem would remain.”

Get the full story at China Travel News

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Expedia gives up on battle for China

May 26, 2015

Ctrip, China’s top travel site, this afternoon announced it has taken a US$400 million stake in long-time arch-rival eLong. The deal, which closed today, was done by acquiring eLong shares from Expedia. Ctrip now has a 37.6 percent stake in its erstwhile rival.

Expedia has sold off its entire 62.4 percent stake in eLong, worth US$671 million, by selling the remaining shares to three other buyers (Keystone Lodging Holdings, Plateno Group, and Luxuriant Holdings), the US-based company said today. Expedia’s brief statement did not make clear why it’s exiting eLong.

The huge Expedia sell-off marks a major sea-change in China’s highly competitive travel ecommerce sector. It seems to be a huge win for Ctrip, which has now tamed its closest competitor.

Get the full story at Tech In Asia

Read also "What Does Ctrip Want With eLong?" at Seeking Alpha and "Expedia-Ctrip: eLong Transaction A Win-Win Deal" at Seeking Alpha

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Airlines’ limits on OTA fare listings add costs

May 26, 2015

The 63-page study was commissioned by the Travel Technology Association (TTA) and authored by Yale University professor Fiona Scott Morton, a former deputy assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice. It concluded that the airlines’ restrictions on online vendors could cost travelers an additional $6.7 billion a year and cause about one in six potential independent passengers to decide not to fly.

In response, some consumer advocates immediately called for stricter regulation of airlines, while industry analysts defended the practice as a free-market prerogative.

Travel Tech’s report predicted that removing airfares from third-party online sites will result in less pricing transparency and will boost average U.S. airline ticket prices by 11%, to about $300, forcing about 41 million of the 264 million leisure and unmanaged business passengers to opt not to fly.

Get the full stor at Travel Weekly

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April occupancy at U.S. hotels reaches new high

May 26, 2015

Of the top 25 markets, Tampa/St. Petersburg reported the largest year-over-year occupancy increase (5.6 percent to 78.7 percent), while Houston reported the largest decrease (5.3 percent to 70.9 percent).

The U.S. average daily rate increased 4.5 percent to $119.37. Two of the top 25 markets posted double-digit ADR increases: In the San Francisco/San Mateo area, ADR increased 12.1 percent to $213.30, and Chicago ADR rose 11.7 percent to $138.76. New York experienced the most significant decrease (4.6 percent to $251.66) but the highest overall occupancy (86.9 percent). Supply growth within the top 25 markets continued to improve, up 1.3 percent year over year.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Hotel front desk training checklist circa 2015

May 26, 2015

By Doug Kennedy

Doug Kennedy
If someone would have surveyed hotel managers 15 or 20 years ago about the future role of their front desk staff, my guess is that most would have predicted that their jobs would have become much less relevant by now due to all of anticipated technologies. Yet when we look at the position today, it is easy to see that ironically with all of the high-tech advancements, nothing has yet to replace the personalized service experiences delivered by today's front desk colleagues. Certainly it will be interesting to see how the latest push towards automated, self-check-in options now moving to smartphones will be received over the long run. Although guests have overwhelmingly rejected previous attempts such as kiosk check-in stations, perhaps they will finally embrace this new method. Even if they do, my guess is that the role of front desk will still be an essential one in delivering memorable hospitality experiences.

Smart hotel managers know that training is the key to front desk success. Being in the hotel front desk training business, it is ironic to me that the hotels that are already doing the best job, that have the best service levels in place, and that are already topping the rankings of review sites like TripAdvisor, seem to be the hotels that are also the most likely to invest in even more training from companies like mine. When I look-up most of our hotel front desk training clients on TripAdvisor they always seem to be at or near the top.

If you are looking to provide your hotel front desk guest reception team with training to help your hotel actualize its full potential to deliver an extraordinary level of excellence on a daily basis, here are some topics from our programs to include in your training plans.

- Pre-arrival planning. When taking reservations, or when guests call directly after booking but prior to arrival, does your staff properly document requests and special needs? Do your front desk colleagues routinely look through the day's arrivals in advance and then block rooms and otherwise prepare for their arrival? Do your reception agents read through their arrivals list at the start of each shift to look for familiar names of regular guests so they can greet them by name before it is provided?

- Properly welcoming guests. Are your front of the house colleagues trained to properly welcome guests upon arrival with warm remarks, and not to simply ask "Checking in?" "Hi guys!" or "Do you have a reservation?"

- Recognizing in-house groups and functions. Similarly, do your front desk colleagues read through their events list so that they are immediately familiar with groups, meetings, functions and events being held that day?

- Guest empathy. Have you trained your staff to better understand why guests travel to your hotel, and that there is more to a guest's purpose than "business" or "leisure?" Have you discussed all of the frustrations that guests can encounter en route and therefore our need to turn things around for them?

- Providing local area insider's tips. Have you trained your team to be able to provide local insider's tips, such as driving shortcuts and best routes to avoid traffic, directions to office parks and local area attractions, points of interest such as entertainment and dining options?

- Assisting with special needs. Do your front desk colleagues know how to assist guests who have special needs, especially those related to dietary or medical concerns? Can they direct them to the nearest vegetarian or Kosher restaurant? Do they know where guests can rent medical devices or find the nearest 24 hour pharmacy or dental emergency clinic? Are they prepared for medical emergencies such as choking and CPR?

- Service recovery. Have you trained your front desk to truly welcome complaints as opportunities, and the importance of encouraging guests to give sincere and honest feedback directly versus posting it on social media or guest review sites?

By including these items on your new hire training and ongoing recurrent training checklists you will be providing your colleagues with the tools they need to create hospitality experiences that will encourage positive guest reviews, social media postings and foster guest loyalty.

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

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5 marketing lessons from Disney to emulate

May 26, 2015

While the Disney parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Paris, Hon Kong, and Shanghai account for only some of Disney's revenue, they are arguably the most public-facing parts of Disney. The Disney parks offer an immersive experience that digital interactive platforms won't approach for another decade or so.

Celebrate your anniversaries: Anniversaries create trust. We've all seen signs that say "Hepburn's Hats, est. 2002." Reminding people how long you've been in business alleviates suspicions you'll steal their money and spend it on dice and Zima. But if you are in the business of reliving and creating memories, then anniversaries are extra important.

People love their own photos - so put them in your campaigns: Everyone who has ever hit a Disney park has, under the dust bunnies, a photo album ( these days, a digital file) of their vacation moments. Disney knows this. And while it invests in professional photography recreating faux vacation moments, it knows that the most authentic marketing resides in real-life photo albums.

Get the full story at PR Daily

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Marketing to the Millennial mom

May 26, 2015

Over the past several decades, moms have changed significantly. Moms have full schedules that include busy careers, morning workouts, and sometimes even getting home in time to have dinner with our kids. More and more modern moms are shaping our role to fit into whatever the 21st century may offer up. That means juggling all that time shifting and channel management and also making sure we curate and edit what we see and do.

Many moms crave what they perceive to be the simplicity of yesteryear. They think back to when their grandparents or great-grandparents could gather the family and serve a healthy and hearty meal on Sunday nights. For today's moms, their own childhood and the parenting to which they were exposed may seem processed and "microwaveable." They don't want to pop frozen fish sticks into the oven and call it a day. They want to be thoughtful about what they feed their kids and how they give them a sense of family and community. So they seek to emulate what their grandparents and generations before did at home.

Get the full story at iMedia Connection

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We’re mobile obsessed and here’s why it matters

May 26, 2015

Let’s face it everyone is mobile obsessed. Whether it be a phone or tablet, it’s the first thing we look at when we wake up and the last thing we look at before crashing. It’s like a relationship. Except, it’s not a person, it can’t talk back (glorious), it’s an everlasting, unconditional, us and our mobiles forever, kind of love affair.

So, is it a surprise that more than ever, travel shoppers are depending on their mobile devices to find them their next vacation fix?

It shouldn’t be. With a 20% increase in bookings on travel websites in the first half of 2014 compared to the 2% increase in desktop bookings, I’d say travel shopping on mobiles will only continue to rise – and the statistics are on my side. If anything, this is a huge opportunity for hotels to enhance their mobile experience and drive more bookings.

Get the full story at Leonardo

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Your Hotels Worldwide endorses eRevMax as preferred channel manager partner

May 26, 2015

Your Hotel™ Worldwide is an established hotel chain consisting of around 65 privately owned hotels across Sweden, Norway, UK, Germany and Austria. Head Quartered in Stockholm, the group offers 2500 rooms across the portfolio. All hotels under the group are getting benefits of real-time rates and inventory update and receive reservations directly into their PMSs ensuring online sales optimization and eliminating chance of overbookings. They can monitor booking trends across all channels on a single reporting dashboard to react instantly with a more effective distribution strategy.

“We have been using RateTiger solutions since 2010, and know from experience that they have a great product portfolio in a stable technology platform. By upgrading to 2-way XML connection, our member hotels would be able to use their PMS to process updates, which will streamline their distribution, save time and improve revenue opportunities. Their transition from a traditional channel manager to web based business intelligence and connectivity solution provider has helped our hotels greatly. For us eRevMax is the ideal technology partner which meets demands of our hotels,”

Get the full story at eRevMax

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Adobe Digital Index Travel Report 2015

May 22, 2015

The report analyzed more than 15 billion visits across major U.S. travel, airline and hotel sites between 2013 and 2015 and more than three million social media mentions. Consumers are expected to spend $65 billion online on travel between Memorial Day and Labor Day, seven percent more than in 2014. Twenty percent of travel bookings are now coming from smartphones and tablets, over six percent more than last year. The analysis also shows that Washington D.C. tops the list of U.S. travel destinations followed by Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco.

Adobe’s annual travel report provides the most comprehensive set of travel insights in the industry and is based on aggregated and anonymous data from Adobe Marketing Cloud. Pricing details are based on booking transactions, which ensures highly accurate predictions. The report analyzed traffic and sales across major U.S. travel, airline and hotel sites including seven of the top ten airlines and eight of the top ten hotel chains. Adobe also conducted a complementary survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers who plan to travel this summer.

“Adobe expects summer travel spending to increase to $65 billion this year,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst, Adobe Digital Index. “Mobile devices are now the source of 20 percent of online travel spending. Mobile is hot and so are Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and New York, the top three U.S. summer travel destinations of 2015.”

Key report findings include:

- Total spend on travel continues to increase: U.S. consumers are expected to spend $65 billion online on summer travel this year. Overall prices for flights decreased four percent year-over-year (YoY) while hotel prices rose by five percent on average. Based on survey responses, 32 percent of consumers anticipate paying more on travel. Respondents expect to spend $2,788 on average, with 57 percent of that being online.

- Top destinations: Based on the number of bookings and social media buzz, Washington, D.C. tops the list of travel destinations in the U.S. Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco round out the top five. London, Paris, and Rome lead in social buzz for those traveling to Europe. Data shows that February offers the best deals for flights and hotels in New York City, while September offers the lowest hotel prices for Hawaii and Orlando.

- Smartphone travel bookings surpass tablets: Data shows thattravel companies have further optimized their sites for mobile while more and more consumers use larger screen smartphones. One in every five dollars spent now comes from smartphones and tablets, an increase of more than six percent YoY. And more consumers are booking trips via smartphones than tablets for the first time.

- Best booking times vary for summer holidays: Flights for the Fourth of July weekend should be booked on May 23 for the highest discount of 21 percent, while budget hotels should be reserved on June 20 to save up to 20 percent. Labor Day offers the least expensive flights and hotels compared to other summer holidays. Flights should be booked on July 21 for discounts between 17 and 31 percent. Hotels should be reserved on June 9 for up to 20 percent in savings. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be the busiest travel days followed by the Fourth of July weekend.

- Book budget hotels early, wait with international flights: Consumers can save an average of 15 percent when waiting until 30 days prior to the trip and booking rooms that are $120 or less per night. For more expensive hotel rooms, the time of booking is less important as prices only increase two and a half percent on average. For international flights, consumers should make reservations 50 days prior to their flight to save up to 32 percent. Domestic flights should be purchased earlier for the best deals - 90 days prior to departure.Prices start to jump significantly 20 days prior to departure with the average airfare increasing by three percent each day.

Download the report at SlideShare

Read also "The Best Times to Book Flights and Hotels" at Adobe's Digital Marketing Blog

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How your hotel can stand out from the crowd

May 22, 2015

In the wake of ever-increasing supply, it’s important for a hotel to be relevant. Panelists on a webinar detailed how that can be accomplished.

Panelists pointed to technology as one way a hotel can stand out among all the possible choices a guest has in hotels and brands.

“We as an industry have been guilty of, I would say, not evolving as quickly as we should, especially around the digital front,” said Matthew Sparks, senior VP of luxury development at Hilton Worldwide Holdings.

He said the industry is rightly moving toward a future where guests will be able to bypass a line at the front desk and proceed directly to their rooms, especially after a long day of travel.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Communities form around potential Luxury Link closure

May 22, 2015

A Luxury Link spokesperson told Luxury Daily in a statement, “Luxury Link has entered into a General Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors, ABC, and Corporate Management, Inc. is the assignee.”

Travel forum sites such as Boarding Area, TripAdvisor and Flyertalk have conversation threads from consumers surrounding the rumors.

On TripAdvisor, a thread that began July 1, 2014 about the legitimacy of Luxury Link and it has been stagnant since, but on May 15 the thread picked up again with a consumer advising against using the site.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

Read also "Luxury Link may has ceased operations"

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Bravofly Rumbo Group rebrands as

May 22, 2015

While the existing digital brands Bravofly, Volagratis, Rumbo and Jetcost will continue to target online growth, will now become the core brand supported by increased marketing investments.

An advertising campaign, with more than double the investment versus 2014, will be launched early June and will run across three key markets – UK, France and Italy – currently representing 65 per cent of revenues of the group.

Beyond the brand strategy, the shareholders at the meeting were also updated on the progress of integrating and Bravofly Rumbo Group into one company, enabling simplification and efficiency, targeting a business model based on one technology platform.

Get the full story at Breaking Travel News

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Shangri-La launches SME loyalty scheme

May 22, 2015

The Business Travel Programme, launched today by Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, is an online corporate account portal specially conceived to reward small to medium sized enterprises (SME) for business stays with the leading luxury hotel group. Joining the programme enables registered companies to take advantage of preferential rates and special benefits at nearly 80 Shangri-La properties around the world.

Enrollment at Shangri-La’s website is quick and simple for SME’s that do not have an existing corporate rate agreement with Shangri-La. Once qualified as a Business Travel Account, a unique identification code will be assigned for company associates to reserve accommodation online or through Shangri-La’s mobile app.

Aside from not requiring a monetary commitment, benefits for partners include up to 10 per cent off the Best Available Rates at all hotels and selected resorts under the Shangri-La, Kerry, Hotel Jen and Traders brands, in addition to savings and complimentary amenities during stays.

For companies to be eligible for the Business Travel Programme, each organisation must meet the following criteria:

- Generate a minimum of 50 room night bookings a year across all participating hotels
- Does not currently have a corporate rate agreement with Shangri-La
- Is not a travel agent or wholesaler

Companies that anticipate generating a higher volume of room nights may be entitled for Shangri-La’s Global Account Programme. Please contact the respective Worldwide Sales Office for more information.

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The next digital battleground: inbound call marketing

May 22, 2015

Welcome to the next digital battleground: inbound call marketing. Savvy marketers need to understand how they can tap into the growing inbound direct response call marketing space to acquire new leads and customers, while doing so in a smart, deliberate manner that helps cut down on customer acquisition and media buying costs.

When your inbound marketing campaign is bringing in leads hand over fist, and your boss is giving you high-fives, it’s easy to forget that all of those leads still need to be converted into sales. As it becomes easier for consumers to dial your call centre, it also becomes more expensive to service those leads.

Before launching an inbound call marketing campaign, carefully consider your key performance metrics, and also your combined media and lead servicing costs. Often, it may be more cost effective, and yield better performance, if you’re more judicious upfront with which leads you will accept, rather than allowing every lead to come over the transom and flood your call centre. It’s a cliché, but lead quality definitely trumps lead quantity when it comes to inbound call marketing campaigns.

Get the full story at The Drum

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How to avoid “big data paralysis” - a guide for hoteliers

May 22, 2015

Big data and big analytics, and the technology to take advantage of them in particular is a complex and fast moving topic. New opportunities constantly present themselves. It is difficult to sort through what will be sustainable and what is a passing fad. It can be confusing, risky and uncertain. It is difficult to justify investment today when the game may be changed completely by tomorrow.

With all the highly publicized opportunities in big data and the ever evolving technology landscape, most hospitality and travel organizations are proceeding with caution when it comes to this area – and with good reason. These are expensive investments with many moving pieces.

There has to be a balance, however. Hospitality companies need a solid data and analytics program to support their overall business strategy, and to stay competitive. This strategy should be carefully constructed in light of the business requirements and organizational goals. However, none of these initiatives have to be perfect right out of the gate. There is too much potential in the data to wait for the perfect data warehouse or the most robust analytics package with the most innovative real-time collection and delivery. This isn’t rocket science or brain surgery. Something is better than nothing. Directional guidance can be highly valuable, even if it doesn’t point you to the optimal solution.

Get the full story at The Analytic Hospitality Executive

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Driving hotel loyalty: Enormous room for growth

May 22, 2015

Airline loyalty participation is soaring in the U.S. Throughout 2014, nearly 85 million U.S. adults took a flight for a leisure trip. Of those leisure flyers, just about eight in 10 are members of at least one airline loyalty program. But while airlines have been extremely successful in driving loyalty participation among flyers -- hotels are having a bit more trouble convincing their guests of the value of signing up.

According to a new report from travel industry research authority Phocuswright, "(Dis)Loyalty and the U.S. Leisure Traveler," less than half (47%) of U.S. leisure hotel stayers belong to a hotel loyalty program. Nevertheless, in terms of sheer numbers, hotel loyalty membership still rivals airline membership, as hotel stayers greatly outnumber leisure flyers. More than nine in 10 (93%) U.S. leisure travelers spent at least one night in paid lodging during 2013, while only 65% flew.

When it comes to driving loyalty, hotels, of course, face a number of challenges that airlines simply do not. U.S. travelers not only have a seemingly endless selection of hotel brands to choose from when planning their next vacation, but the rising awareness of private accommodations is also driving many away from traditional hotel stays.

For the hospitality industry, however, efforts aimed at driving loyalty participation should prove worthwhile. Almost half (47%) of entry to mid-tier hotel loyalty members typically try to book with preferred hotel brands "most" or "all" of the time when traveling for leisure. Among hotel elites, that figure jumps to 82%.

Phocuswright's report examines the role of loyalty in consumer leisure travel behavior and spending, specifically for airlines, hotels and online travel agencies (OTAs). The report addresses air, hotel and loyalty participation among key demographics, and defines the status of members by age, spending and level of participation.

Related Link: Phocuswright's "(Dis)Loyalty and the U.S. Leisure Traveler"

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Delta Air Lines grounds travel websites

May 21, 2015

Delta has removed its schedule and fare information from over a dozen sites, including TripAdvisor Inc., Hipmunk Inc. and, saying it didn’t authorize the sites to use its data, according to a report to be released on Wednesday by the Travel Technology Association, a trade group for the sites.

The group said Delta’s move is part of a broader push by airlines to restrict how—and whether—sites can use their fare and schedule data. The group says carriers including American Airlines Group Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. have recently adopted policies allowing them to limit how the sites use their data.

The spat marks the latest chapter in the struggle for control over airfare searches and seat purchases online. Carriers increasingly are pushing fliers to their own sites, partly to improve sales of add-on products such as extra legroom and frequent-flier points. And they have butted heads with the travel sites over booking fees. In a dust-up last August, American temporarily withdrew its flight information from sites operated by Orbitz Worldwide Inc.

Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal and CNNMoney

Read also Travel Technology Association's study "Benefits of Preserving Consumers’ Ability to Compare Airline Fares" (PDF 3.4 MB)

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Hotel owners oust brand operators

May 21, 2015

In many cases, they are trying to kick out the brand managers altogether, generating lawsuits and, in some cases, standoffs between ownership and management representatives.

The SoHo case was the culmination of more than a year of turmoil for a hotel that had fallen into foreclosure despite operating in the most lucrative U.S. market, had changed hands for a reported $200 million, had been the site of a late-night attempt by the new owners in early April to oust Mondrian management and had been the subject of a court battle that was decided in favor of the new owners.

Bjorn Hanson, former dean and currently clinical professor at the NYU School of Professional Studies Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management, said, "If the brand is spending a half-million dollars a year on flowers in the lobby, that can generate an incentive for owners to take action."

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Hotels leverage mobile booking and photo galleries, slow to adopt reviews and video

May 21, 2015

In April 2015, L2 Think Tank looked at luxury hotels worldwide that had both desktop and mobile sites and found that the industry had made advancements in several areas. More than eight in 10 offered mobile booking - provided by 100% on desktop. Photo galleries, which can catch researchers’ eyes, had increased in usage by 7 percentage points year over year to 95%, nearly even with the 98% who provided this on desktop. Meanwhile, despite also being up 7 points in adoption, always-popular reviews still had a long way to go, as did videos, which could be as appealing as photos if provided.

Major strides had been made across several other categories over the past year. As luxury hotels look to expand their global reach, it’s important to offer mobile sites that support multiple languages, and 54% did so, compared with 32% in 2014. More than four in 10 allowed respondents to reserve in-hotel activities via mobile - up 40 percentage points year over year. The largest growth was seen in embedded geological maps, which rose from 7% in 2014 to 39% in 2015, possibly due to the heavy demand for mobile maps while traveling.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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US average daily rate growth expected to accelerate in 2016

May 21, 2015

Despite weak U.S. economic performance driven in part by unseasonably harsh winter weather conditions, the U.S. lodging sector registered solid demand performance during the first quarter of 2015, with a year-over-year increase in RevPAR of 8.0 percent, and increasing demand levels driving RevPAR increases to a larger extent than previously anticipated. PwC expects this positive momentum in demand to continue for the remainder of 2015, supporting a RevPAR increase of 7.0 percent in 2015. In 2016, PwC expects RevPAR to grow 6.1 percent, driven almost entirely by average daily rate ("ADR").

The estimates from PwC are based on a quarterly econometric analysis of the lodging sector, using an updated forecast released by Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC in April and historical statistics supplied by STR and other data providers. Macroeconomic Advisers expects real gross domestic product ("GDP") to increase 2.8 percent in 2015, followed by a 2.5 percent increase in 2016, measured on a fourth-quarter-over-fourth-quarter basis.

Based on this analysis and recent demand trends, PwC expects industry occupancy in 2015 to reach levels not seen since 1981, with a number of factors contributing to the continued increase in these levels including the expansion of online distribution channels, which have helped hotel operators fill rooms during more off-peak periods. Average daily rate growth is expected to remain somewhat controlled for the balance of this year partly due to the impact of the increased value of the U.S. Dollar, which is expected to restrict the level that hotel operators are able to raise rates, primarily in certain gateway markets that cater to inbound international leisure visitors. Supply growth is starting to get more meaningful, and is expected to accelerate to 2.2 percent in 2016, with the increase in available hotel rooms exceeding the long-term average of 1.9 percent for the first time since 2009. As a result, while occupancy levels are expected to begin to stabilize, these peak levels, coupled with the absence of this year's drag from the U.S. Dollar, is expected to support an average daily rate-driven RevPAR increase of 6.1 percent.

"With robust travel activity in the U.S., both group and transient demand continue to exhibit positive momentum contributing to occupancy levels not seen in the last 30 years," said Scott D. Berman, principal and U.S. industry leader, hospitality & leisure, PwC. "Average daily rate growth has lagged expectations in the current cycle, but is expected to pick up next year as peak occupancy levels persist. Nevertheless, we will be monitoring several macroeconomic indicators, particularly currency fluctuations this summer to gauge impact on U.S. lodging fundamentals."

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Luxury Link may has ceased operations

May 21, 2015

On two travel related websites, Flyertalk and TripAdvisor, several customers reported getting the following notice:

Dear Consumer:

Effective immediately, Luxury Link LLC aka Luxury Link Travel Group has ceased all operations and entered into a General Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors (ABC), following which all of its assets will be sold. As a result, Luxury Link will not be able to honor the travel you have booked through it. We suggest you contact your credit card issuer for your options regarding any charges to your credit card. You may also want to contact the destination property directly to see what arrangement you can make with it. As Luxury Link is no longer operating, it will be unable to assist you in rearranging your travel plans or obtain a refund.

You will be receiving further news regarding the ABC in the next few weeks. Until then, no further information will be available.

Luxury Link Management

Get the full story at Forbes

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Inside Google’s secret war against ad fraud

May 21, 2015

That ad fraud is carried out through personal computers is one of its most striking characteristics. The hacked personal machines, called drones, combine to form botnets, or droves of computers browsing the internet in a coordinated dance meant to grab as many advertiser dollars as possible. Taking over personal machines helps botnet operators avoid detection. It diversifies their IP addresses and geographic locations, masking the loads of traffic they send across the internet.

Exploits can make their way onto computers via a number of paths, including through Wi-Fi networks, ads containing the code (malvertising), hijacked home routers, spam emails and hacked websites. (The Google team sneaked an exploit into the copy of Ad Age's site on the computer I was sitting at through a corrupted connection.) When you run into one of these scenarios, the exploit can unlock your machine without any sign something bad is occurring. "Normal users won't really see that something is going on," Sasha explained. You don't even have to click to get infected.

Get the full story at Advertising Age

Read also "Why Google's click-to-buy ads would be a big deal"

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Free Webinar: Phocuswright and the future of travel distribution

May 21, 2015

Topics include:

- Top technology and innovation trends changing travel distribution
- Examples of how companies are implementing each technology
- Fresh ideas and opportunities to revitalize your business strategy
- Key strategies and next steps for leveraging each technology trend

Attend this FREE webinar, sponsored by Distil Networks, to understand the most important innovations impacting travel – and make informed decisions about applicability, potential business value and prioritization.

Register at Phocuswright

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Hotel marketing tips for summer travel season

May 21, 2015

Mid-sized hospitality businesses often think they won't be able to compete with the industry giants when it comes to digital advertising, but with some smart choices, even conservative budgets can make the most of the summer travel season to drive real ROI. Here are some ways to maximize your campaign reach this summer:

Take a creative approach to programmatic

Programmatic and creativity are not mutually exclusive. With a focus on dynamic creative optimization (DCO), advertisers can serve up ads that are dynamic and tailored to the modern travel customer. Programmatic media buying allows signals such as audience to be used to produce relevant creative. Use this data to ensure that the message resonates with your users. Doing so can double yield on interaction rates and increase engagement by 50 percent, according to the IAB.

Build creative sizes

Having multiple ad sizes and placements available will ensure your ad is served to your target at the precise moment the opportunity arises. Whether your target is on mobile or desktop, the right sized creative will be able to be optimally viewed depending on the device.

Get the full story at iMedia Connection

Article location: implements new parity provisions in Germany

May 20, 2015 will waive enforcement of its existing wide parity provisions with German accommodations with immediate effect and will amend its standard terms and other agreements with German accommodations by 1 July 2015 to be consistent with the binding commitments given to the French, Italian and Swedish National Competition Authorities.

As a result, German hotels, and consumers booking at German hotels, will get the same benefits as their counterparts in France, Italy and Sweden. Under the new provisions, will abandon its price, availability and booking conditions parity provisions with respect to other online travel agencies. This will create an environment that supports increased transparency and competition among online travel agencies which will ultimately benefit consumers, as well as hoteliers, by encouraging properties to offer different pricing and booking policies (e.g. free cancellation, WIFI, breakfast) through different online travel agencies. intends to implement these commitments throughout the European Economic Area and is working with all other European National Competition Authorities towards this objective. is seeking to achieve an industry wide solution which all major online travel agencies and European Competition Authorities will endorse.

Read also " rate parity settlement only a half-step forward"

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What TripAdvisor has to say about its slower-than-expected Instant Booking growth

May 20, 2015

As for major hotel chains not participating - so far only Best Western and Choice Hotels have signed up - Kaufer said that he understands, that the chains are targeting their own direct mobile business, but suggest that they should view TripConnect as a direct marketing channel to support that strategy.

He also acknowledge, that Instant Booking isn’t fully rolled out in general (only the US and UK are live for the moment) and in perticular on the desktop. So participating hotels don’t yet experience a change in channel mix when it comes to their online bookings. But that should change soon, and will get hotels more interest in Instant Booking for its lower cost of sale.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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BCD Travel acquires major US TMC World Travel Service

May 20, 2015

“As a respected travel management company with a strong focus on mid-market corporate customers, World Travel fits our culture and growth goals very well,” said Craig Bailey, BCD Travel’s president of North America. “This acquisition shows our clear intent to continue to aggressively pursue growth opportunities and acquisitions that benefit our clients by strengthening our position as a leader in corporate travel well into the future.”

Incorporated in 1946, the privately owned World Travel is the 13th largest corporate travel agency in the U.S. with more than 100 employees, a diverse portfolio of clients and annual sales of over $330 million. Focusing on corporate travel management as its core business, World Travel also operates a rapid-growing, award-winning meeting and incentive group called Liaisons Meetings & Incentives. The agency has operated as a BCD Affiliate since 2002.

“We’ve established close working relationships with BCD Travel leadership,” said Lamar Shuler, president of World Travel Service. “Together we will continue to thrive, producing value for our customers, shareholders and our staff—who will have greater exposure to how a global company operates and more paths for long-term career growth.”

The World Travel purchase is the latest in a series of investments BCD Travel has made in recent years to grow business, extend its global network and help businesses leverage the latest innovations for their travel programs.

Other significant BCD investments include the purchase of Tbiz from Travelocity, development of substantial proprietary platforms in business intelligence (DecisionSource®) and mobile technology (TripSource®), establishment of a new joint venture in Brazil and the acquisition by BCD M&I of Raleigh, N.C.-based Universal Meeting Management.

World Travel will continue operating under their brand as a business unit of BCD Travel.

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HRG profits slump in ‘challenging year’

May 20, 2015

HRG reported further recovery in the UK and North American travel markets while conditions in Continental Europe and Asia Pacific will remain consistent with the past year.

Chief executive David Radcliffe described the period as “one of the most challenging” for the company in recent years, resulting in £2.6 million of cost cuts and job losses with the closure of offices in the UK, Canada, Germany, Switzerland and the Nordics region.

“As a result of these cost reduction actions, we have once again had to say goodbye to a number of our colleagues over the last year, many with long service,” Radcliffe said.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

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Should you outsource social media or handle it in-house?

May 20, 2015

Back when social media was catching fire like a gas station in a Michael Bay movie, everybody wanted a piece of the action.

Thousands of "social media experts" showed up promising rainbows and unicorns to businesses seeking to connect with their target customers. Social media gave smaller businesses do-it-yourself marketing. Larger companies wondered whether in-house or outsourced social media was better for their business.

Fast-forward to today. Now that social media has gone mainstream and execs at those platforms have recognized there's advertising money to be made, it's not nearly as easy to succeed as it once was. Those early "social media experts" have mostly faded from view (although some are still lurking out there).

Get the full story at PR Daily

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Google adds tweets to its mobile search results

May 20, 2015

Google has added Tweets to its search results on mobile, via the official Android and iOS Google apps, as well as on mobile browsers. The search results can be triggered by “Twitter” keyword searches for specific accounts and hashtags, but also surface Tweets for any standard search, too.

In its official blog post detailing the news, Google says this is an attempt to put “real-time info” into its results, and notes that it provides Twitter users with a larger audience for their content as well. Indeed, this should be a great relationship for Twitter in terms of broadening its reach and exposing the network to many more potential new users.

On its own blog, Twitter details the arrangement as well, but provides little additional information. Both blog posts note that the integration will begin showing up for Google users in the U.S. with English as their primary language today, with desktop presence and support for additional countries coming in the next few months.

Get the full story at TechCrunch and Google

Article location: has made guest data anonymous

May 20, 2015

This is, according to the Online Travel Agent, to provide an extra level of security for both hotels and guests. As stated in an email, sent to their customers, sees the biggest current challenge in protecting the personal data of individuals and companies from the evolving threat through cyber attacks, and that it would be essential to take actions now to find appropriate solutions, both for hotels and their customers.

What are the implications for the hotels?

Hotels can continue communicating with their guest, through the Extranet. The difference is that their identity, as well as the identity of their guests, will be hidden. The bottom line is simple: takes the ownership of guest data away from the hotels, strengthens their Extranet as “the most secure environment” for hotels “to communicate directly with guests”, and creates even further dependencies.

While nobody will deny that it is important to increase online security, there is also no doubt that owning guest data is of fundamental value for hotels, and that giving up ownership will require additional efforts from the hotels to make sure they capture their guests data.

Get the full story at Customer Alliance

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How can hotels stay ahead of the technology curve?

May 20, 2015

Kristi Hawkins, Assistant E-Commerce Manager for Naman Hotels, discusses in this video how her property has adapted to continued technology changes.

If you’d like to read the transcript instead, here’s what she recommended:

“Technology does play a big factor and a big impact in our hotels and with the ever evolving landscape that we’re seeing in the technological world, I think that we will be seeing more of our potential guests falling into the bleisure category where it’s more business professionals wanting to also have a bit of relaxing downtime when they’re staying with us. I would advise you to stay ahead of the curve, research and study your target markets, and cater your visual storytelling to a specific market segment.”

Get the full story at Leonardo

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‘Big 3’ in online travel are getting bigger

May 19, 2015

Cowen & Co. analyst Kevin Kopelman noted that Expedia stood out in Q1 with 6% acceleration in room nights and EBITDA margins, excluding its stake in China online travel agency eLong, up 80 basis points year over year, "as Expedia benefitted from scale, strong marketing, hotel supply investments and success at Trivago," the German metasearch company that Expedia acquired in 2012.

"Priceline grew in line, but shares remain under-appreciated largely due to foreign exchange (pressures)," he said.

For TripAdvisor, Kopelman said, "we see less upside on estimates risk and concerns over ad spend, but remain bullish on long-term fundamentals."

Get the full story at Investor's Business Daily

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ADR, not occupancy, drives hotel RevPAR, study finds

May 19, 2015

Conducted by Cathy Enz, Linda Canina and Jean-Pierre van der Rest from Cornell University’s School for Hotel Administration, the study revealed that European hoteliers who maintained average rates above their competitive set generated higher revenue per available room, contradicting the long-standing belief that lowering rates will lead to more demand and better RevPAR. The research shows that although this practice yields higher occupancy, RevPAR normally suffers.

Researchers analyzed STR Global data over a 10-year period and the pricing strategies for more than 4,000 competitive hotels in Europe.

“We wanted to do a stream of research over an extended period of time to think about and get the industry to think about strategic pricing, not just tactical pricing,” said Enz, who is the Lewis G. Schaeneman Jr. Professor of Innovation and Dynamic Management at the School for Hotel Administration. “The thing we continue to find, even over a long period of time, is that ADR rather than occupancy is driving RevPAR. If you have prices lower than your competitive set, you’ll have an occupancy boost but a RevPAR drop.”

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Total revenue management, not rooms management, is the game changer

May 19, 2015

It’s not enough for revenue managers to continue learning in their ever-evolving discipline; they must also teach those (and relentlessly so) who might not be so open to this new world of doing things, said panelists at the Travel Distribution Summit Europe held in London.

“Cold blooded” was the term one used to describe a personality trait required to help push top-line growth across the entire asset, chain or group.

“At the moment, my colleagues are not aligned,” said Nicolas Alsterdal, total profit manager at Nordic Choice Hotels.

“Even to change one (key performance indicator) is an enormous battle, a nightmare, to make sure everyone changes their strategy to focus on that. It will take a few more years,” he said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Driving hotel bookings with amenities

May 19, 2015

Your hotel no doubt has a lot to offer. It’s not a bad idea to advertise every positive aspect of your property; however, every customer has a limit to the amount of information they can retain. So it is important to prioritize how you present your message and (when possible) augment your message to hit the highlights. After all, this is the first date- they may not want to hear your life story.

Now according to the TripAdvisor study, some amenities are considerably more influential than others. Below is a list from the study showing the percentage of customers who indicated that the availability of a specific amenity would influence whether or not they booked.

1. Free in-room Wi-Fi – 74%
2. Free Breakfast – 60%
3. In-room amenities – 58%
4. Free shuttle service – 35%
5. Staff who speaks the traveler’s language – 35%

Get the full story at Koddi

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Luxury hotels upgrade websites

May 19, 2015

Many hotels have mad their sites more aesthetically pleasing with virtual property tours and brand videos, but basic customer service features still lag. While nearly half of Index brand sites featured virtual property tours, only 24% supported live chat – a mere 2% increase.

Brand sites also added features to make the reservation process easier, with 76% of sites allowing customers to change dates mid-booking, an increase of 9% from the previous year. However, only 12% of brand sites displayed real-time room availability. A fifth of Index brand sites only offered basic reservation boxes where customers could enter their desired location and dates, leaving no space for flexible dates, promotion codes or special rates.

The reservation process also got faster. In 2015, more than half of Index brands let customers book a room in less than five clicks, a significant jump from 29% in 2014. It took an average of 4.7 clicks to confirm a booking, and five brands got the process down to three clicks. Since long, complex checkout procedures account for 13% of abandoned bookings, further simplifying the process would likely mean more completed reservations.

Get the full story at L2

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Starwood’s high-tech hotel rooms have robot butlers and smart mirrors

May 19, 2015

At its Stamford, Connecticut-based headquarters, Starwood is hard at work testing concept rooms filled with smart technology that's already reached three of its chains: Four Points by Sheraton, boutique concept Aloft and its sustainable Elements brand.

While the company runs higher-end hotel chains such as the St. Regis and the W, Starwood is leaning on these particular locations to test some of its latest tech innovations. The move is a part of an effort to make hotel stays for guests more personalized. This isn't too surprising, considering the company was one of Apple's early launch partners to offer room entry through the Apple Watch.

At its Four Points by Sheraton concept — which traditionally targets business travelers — Starwood is looking closer at how its guests already use certain products in the room. As a result, it is currently testing a new TV set up, with two side by side. This will allow travelers to watch something on one set and practice a presentation (or stream a show via Netflix) on the other.

Get the full story at Mashable

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How to improve your hotel’s online presence

May 19, 2015

ReviewPro has put together three of our winning tips and most helpful guides to help your improve your hotel’s online presence this year.

1. Build Trust: Respond to guest feedback

Whether positive or negative, you should respond to as many reviews as your hotel’s resources allow. Replying to guest reviews builds trust, both in the mind of the reviewer, as well as any for other potential guests who read the review and management response at a later date. It also helps to build a relationship between the reviewer and hotel, which is the first step in developing brand loyalty and repeat customers (i.e direct bookings!).

It’s not always practical to respond to every single review so – at the very least – you should reply to all negative feedback, especially if they require an apology. Also respond if it requires clarification or a personal ‘thank you’.

Get the full story at ReviewPro

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HeBS Digital’s smartCMS named finalist for third consecutive year by The American Business Awards

May 19, 2015

HeBS Digital, the award-winning hotel digital technology, website design, full-service digital marketing and website revenue optimization consulting firm today announces its proprietary smartCMS has once again been named a finalist in the Best Software Programming/Design category in the 2015 American Business Awards. HeBS Digital will ultimately be a Gold, Silver or Bronze Stevie® Award winner for the third year in a row. In 2014, the firm won the Gold Stevie in the Best Software Programming/Design category.

Powering the most innovative and revenue-generating hotel websites in the industry today, the smartCMS is so much more than a Content Management System. The smartCMS offers hoteliers complete control over their websites and direct online revenue stream. In a recent case study for an independent hotel in Chicago, one of many hundreds of hotels enjoying the benefits of the smartCMS, HeBS Digital increased revenue by 114% with smartCMS technology, website design and digital marketing.

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

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How Marriott is using mobile messaging to transform visiting a hotel

May 18, 2015

While several other hotel brands have recently moved towards mobile messaging to help guests communicate their needs during their stay, what is unique about the Marriott strategy is that guests can also chat with the hotel prior to their arrival. For on-the-go guests, this means being able to simply tap once on the Marriott Mobile app icon to be instantly connected to their hotel rather than having to find the hotel’s phone number and key in the digits.

“Mobile Request is the first-ever 2-way chat feature of its kind launched by a global hotel brand," said Michael Dail, vice president of global brand marketing for Marriott Hotels & Resorts at Marriott International.

“Mobile Request is seamlessly integrated into the Marriott app, enabling you to communicate with your hotel before, during and after your stay,” he said. “It’s a more personalized experience because it’s integrated with all the other features of the Marriott Mobile app such as check in, check out and room ready alerts.

Get the full story at the Mobile Marketer

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Americans making leisure travel a priority this Summer

May 18, 2015

They also intend to increase their spending on summer leisure travel by more than five percent.

The DKSA survey broke down the results by generation, revealing that traditionalists and baby boomers intend to spend more time and money on leisure travel this summer than gen Xers and millennials.

Traditionalist respondents, comprised of Americans ages 70 and up, plan to increase leisure travel days by roughly nine percent and spending on leisure travel by more than 10 percent this summer. Meanwhile, baby boomers, or respondents ages 51 to 69, revealed that they intend to increase leisure travel days by eight percent and spending by just under eight percent.

Get the full story TravelPulse

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UK: Travel planning not happening in apps, 80% of mobile travel content viewed through browsers

May 18, 2015

In the U.K. 73 percent of the population engages with digital and travel content as opposed to 63 percent in the United States.

Three-fourths of U.K. travelers own a PC, smartphone and tablet and use all three to plan their travel arrangements.

There are 25 million U.K. consumers using mobile devices to access travel content each month, and 70 percent of those are only getting travel information on their smartphones. Accommodating to smaller screens is necessary to meet this twist in travel planning.

Also, the planning is not happening in applications, as about 81 percent of mobile users view travel content through a browser. The use of tablets in the U.K. is much higher than in the U.S., and 10 percent of these users are using apps, almost negating the purpose of travel apps.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

Read also "UK travel decisions in a multiscreen world"

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Tui chief warns that online tech giants could change the shape of travel industry

May 18, 2015

Speaking at the Phocuswright conference in Dublin this week, as the company confirmed it would drop sub-brands like Thomson and First Choice in favour of a Tui master brand, Long said other existing companies didn’t concern him.

“Travel companies don't keep me awake at night - Facebook, Google and Amazon are the ones that could change the shape of our industry and marginalise competitors”, he told delegates.

“They're my biggest worry because they're huge and powerful.”

Get the full story at Travolution

Read also "Tui to improve digital offering as threat of online giants loom" at Travel Weekly

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Travel industry responds to rise in solo sojourners

May 18, 2015

Some 24 percent of people traveled alone on their most recent overseas leisure vacation, up from 15 percent in 2013, according to the 2015 Visa Global Travel Intentions Study, which was conducted across 25 countries by Millward Brown, a market research organization. Among first-time travelers, solo travel is even more popular, jumping to 37 percent, up from 16 percent in 2013. And while the stereotypical solo traveler has traditionally been single and looking, a solo traveler these days is just as likely, if not more likely, to be married or in a committed relationship.

As the numbers creep up, more travel brands are paying attention. Take Solos Holidays, one of the oldest and largest companies in Britain offering guided getaways for solo travelers. The company has been around since 1982, but a few weeks ago it introduced an American arm, Solos Vacations, that’s beginning to offer escorted trips (to Italy and Britain so far) through (Guided tours in general are becoming more popular among solo travelers, according to Visa’s research, up almost threefold compared with 2013.)

Who exactly are these solo travelers?

Get the full story at The New York Times

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How to manage your social media manager

May 18, 2015

Why the failure? The upper echelon of management may pay lip service to importance of social media, but they don’t fully explore the implications. There are two main reasons for this:

- Intellectual laziness. They want to claim that they have a full social media presence while not fully understanding what that means, so they delegate someone to create and then let go (and are happy to hear back with amorphous reports of success with words like engagement and impressions)

- Arrogance. People are embarrassed to admit that they might not fully get it and don’t spend the time needed to educate themselves and the team

Simply put, top executives must pay attention, not just for reputation management, but to make sure the person in charge really knows what they’re doing.

Get the full story at PR Daily

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Google doorway page algorithm update: Action plan for hotel vanity websites

May 18, 2015

Google wants to dissuade sites from creating shallow content pages that are designed primarily for search engines, rather than human beings. These pages attempt to rank for keyword terms without providing users any unique or useful information. This falls in line with the search engine’s goal of giving users the quickest route to the most comprehensive, rich, and fully formed information on any given topic.

In Google’s own words, the “Doorway Pages” the search engine is trying to steer users away from can be described as “pages that are closer to search results than a clearly defined, browseable hierarchy,” and pages that “lead users to intermediate pages that are not as useful as the final destination.”

Vanity websites are not doorway pages, according to Google’s own definition. Vanity websites are the opposite of doorway pages, as they provide tangible value to the online travel consumer in the form of high-quality content, rich images, user-friendly site structure, and easy access to the hotel’s secure online reservations system.

One of the major brands immediately used this new Google Doorway Algorithm Update to try and discourage its franchisees from operating vanity websites. Here is what this major brand had to say.

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

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Using travel reviews in your hotel’s content strategy

May 18, 2015

Today, Google values new kinds of content when ranking websites - the kind that is traveler created, the kind that is earned, quite possibly the kind that is posted on social media (though Google doesn’t admit to this, yet), and so forth. At the end of the day, content marketing is the rather complicated and most successful path to organic search rankings.

Do hotel search rankings still matter, you may ask, with the proliferation of OTA and meta-search sites that dominate hotel search engine results? And what about the fact that travelers are using social media more and more to research and plan travel?

The answer is still yes, organic search matters. According to Forrester Research organic search continues to be the #1 way US adults find websites. However, in order to compete in one of the most competitive industries in the world, hotels must be two steps ahead when it comes to organic search optimization. This means moving from traditional optimization techniques to using content as optimization across all channels.

Get the full story at TrustYou

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Sabre acquires Asia-Pacific GDS Abacus

May 15, 2015

Sabre Corporation (NASDAQ: SABR) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Abacus International, the leading global distribution system (GDS) in the Asia-Pacific region. Abacus is currently owned by a consortium of 11 Asian airlines along with Sabre, which has a 35% stake in the company.

Sabre will purchase the remaining portion of Abacus for net cash consideration of $411 million.

"The Asia-Pacific travel market is the largest and fastest growing in the world," said Tom Klein, Sabre President and CEO. "Acquiring Abacus immediately combines the global capabilities of Sabre with the deep local market expertise of the leading Asia-Pacific GDS. This powerful combination will give customers even more innovation and service options, while allowing Sabre to accelerate growth globally in a very capital efficient way -- and to gain regional synergies in all three of our businesses serving travel agents, airlines and hospitality companies."

Abacus International President and CEO, Robert Bailey added, "With our extended network in Asia-Pacific, Abacus has built a trusted brand of unique significance and scale. We now have the opportunity to take the business forward even faster, broadening the scope within the Sabre family and with the support of our shareholder carriers. This is great news for the industry in Asia-Pacific, and we look forward to passing the benefits of integration to all sectors of this region's diverse travel community."

Abacus serves more than 100,000 travel agents across the Asia-Pacific region's 59 markets and has both global and uniquely local relationships with airlines and hotels, including the leading portfolio of low-cost content and Chinese airline content.

Separately, the acquisition includes new long-term distribution agreements between Sabre and the 11 airline owners of Abacus.

"We look forward to continuing our long-term business relationships with our former partners in Abacus, and our new agreements will provide benefits and confidence to travel agents throughout the Asia-Pacific region for many years to come," said Greg Webb, President of Sabre Travel Network.

"Abacus currently provides a broad set of services to its customers using a base of Sabre technology for the large majority of core functions to market, distribute, sell and service travel in the Asia-Pacific region," Webb added. "That, along with deep local market capabilities, will result in a smooth transition for Asia-Pacific customers, who should see the benefits of global capabilities while continuing to use our familiar, leading technology."

Abacus will operate as a region of Sabre Travel Network, and Sabre expects its expanded Asia-Pacific direct presence will benefit Sabre Airline Solutions and Sabre Hospitality Solutions, which already provide mission-critical support to 78 airlines and thousands of hotels throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Sabre also will continue its partnership to provide technology services to INFINI, a local Japanese GDS.

"Sabre and Abacus have established the gold standard for service and content in the Asia-Pacific region, and that only gets better," Klein said. "Together with Abacus, Sabre will provide customers and suppliers with improved and faster access to Sabre's industry-leading innovations, including low-cost carrier content, ancillary capabilities, data analytics, and the latest in mobile solutions and personalization services. Additionally, airlines and travel agencies will have more options for new and differentiated products and services created specifically for customers in the Asia-Pacific market."

Read also "Buying Abacus means the "Assianisation of Sabre" at WIT

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Hilton, Marriott think outside the box on social media

May 15, 2015

Global chains like Hilton and Marriott are going beyond conventional social media outlets in a bid to create less explicitly branded content. Marriott recently launched the hotel world’s first Snapchat campaign and partnered with blogging platform Medium to produce a travel and lifestyle vertical, for which the hotel will only provide about 8% of the stories.

Marriott also launched its Content Studio in 2014. The studio produced popular videos like Two Bellmen, which features Hollywood actors and has garnered five million views on YouTube. These creative videos have far outperformed those released by other brands, as shown by this chart.

Get the full story at L2

Download a free excerpt of L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury Hotels (free registration)

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HotelTonight books social media for flash sales

May 15, 2015

HotelTonight is ramping up to drive sales of more hotel rooms ahead of the popular Memorial Day travel weekend, and is offering limited-time rooms in select locations for $99 through May 21. The marketer is encouraging travel enthusiasts to follow along with the promotion via the #HTroulette hashtag, under which it will post information related to the flash sales and entice consumers to make quick booking decisions.

“[The success of the campaign] depends entirely on the context,” said James McNally, director of business development at Fuzz Productions, Brooklyn, NY. “For most brands or products, this can be a great way to get in front of new users and position the brand or product as more embedded in the users’ social context (i.e. within a circle of trust).

“An ancillary benefit of course is driving users to social channels, where they can be served future marketing messaging,” he said. “Needless to say, it’s not as simple as posting the deal on Facebook and watching the conversions roll in; promoting on social is tricky for brands, and needs to be done tactfully.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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When should you have reservations about your hotel reservations?

May 15, 2015

At best, these reservations are simply made on behalf of a third party instead of by the hotel and may have additional restrictions or booking fees. But at worst, they may be completely bogus bookings that won’t be recognized by a property.

Pinpointing the problem is easy, but a solution isn’t. It turns out the fake sites operate outside the country and can be difficult to identify as fraudulent.

Who are these companies? There are thousands of them, according to AH&LA, and they go by names like, and

Get the full story at The Washington Post

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UK travel industry leaders increasingly optimistic about growth prospects

May 15, 2015

The Barclays Travel Forum 2015 survey revealed that 66% of respondents expect an increase in travel this year, with just 2% predicting a decrease. When considering the 2015 outlook for their own companies, 76% described themselves as ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ confident, with 90% expecting their business to grow this year, up from 74% a year ago. Looking forward to 2016, the figures are even more positive, with 75% ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ confident and 95% predicting growth for their business.

The 10th annual travel survey of over 200 senior industry representatives from tour operators, travel agencies, online agents, cruise companies and other travel businesses also asked participants to consider which geographies and travel sectors they expected to experience growth. Europe was identified as the region that the most respondents expected to experience the greatest increase in tourism in 2015 (45%), long haul/tailor made was the sector that was considered to have the most growth potential this year (31%), and business travel was predicted to increase by over two thirds of those surveyed (73%).

The industry representatives were also asked about the technology used to book and pay for travel. Responses to these questions demonstrated the scale of change expected in this area in the near future with just over 4 times more participants expecting over 30% of holidays to be booked using mobile technology, such as mobile phones or tablets, in 3 years’ time than are booked in this way today (33% compared with 8%). When looking at payment methods, more than half of those surveyed expect that in 3 years’ time more than 10% of sales will be paid for using mobile payment services (53%).

Get the full story at The Financial

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Study finds confusion over ancillary services and fees

May 15, 2015

“Would-be passengers don’t just want to book any fare, they want to book the fare that’s right for them,” the report said. “Maybe they don’t have a bag to check but want to have Wi-Fi access and enjoy Internet games in flight.

“Maybe they want to be among the first to board their plane but can do without whatever meal the airline plans to serve.”

But when it comes to making ancillary purchases, consumers tend to buy bundles.

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

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Phocuswright Europe 2015: For Priceline there is much more room to grow

May 15, 2015

There is still tremendous growth potential for Priceline in all travel segments, according to the company’s Head of Worldwide Strategy, Glenn Fogel. To illustrate his point, Glenn highlighted just two recent moves the company made to drive more booking growth.

The first one being its new partnership with China’s largest OTA, Ctrip, who will tap Priceline’s strong hotel product and make it available to its huge customer base in China.

And for Business, Priceline’s recent entry into the unmanaged business travel market, which after a soft launch several weeks ago has already thousands of companies signed up.

And now BookingSuite

But Priceline’s booking growth potential doesn’t stop there.

With BookingSuite, the company is now spreading its online hotel shopping experiences far beyond its own branded shops and make it available on thousands of hotel websites around the globe.

Packaged as ecommerce services for hotels, BookingSuite for now is a hotel website with a booking-engine, soon to be complemented with revenue management capabilities, once Priceline’s latest acquisition of PriceMatch is integrated.

Priceline’s rational behind BookingSuite is very simple: Most small to mid-sized hotels don’t have the capital and knowledge to build what it takes to successfully compete in today’s online world. Priceline not only knows what it takes to drive online hotel booings, it can also build and service a solution and spread the cost among many hotels that use it.

The idea is that not only hotels benefit, but also the consumer, who gets a better online hotel shopping experience - no matter where he/she books, it will be Now that’s a solid growth strategy.

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Phocuswright Europe 2015: UK travel decisions in a multiscreen world

May 15, 2015

Browser experience is critical to mobile especially for travel. However, app usage does lead to higher engagement of travel content.

Tablet owners are an important segment to travel in the UK:

- The segment is growing fast
- The device is being used across all stages of travel purchase process
- Travel bookers on tablets are very likely to re-book through a tablet
- Tablet users are more likely to see and click on ads than smartphone users

The UK traveller is consuming more travel categories than the US traveller.

The UK traveller is more likely to browse travel content for fun than the US traveller.

Download the complete report at Expedia Media Solutions (free registration)

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Phocuswright Europe 2015: Where is travel’s Netflix?

May 15, 2015

Consumers no longer have to research (pull) online to find the products/services they’re looking for. Companies like Netflix, Amazon or Spotify recommend the right products/services to consumers based on data they collect about them.

The travel vertical is lacking behind and has yet to embrace personalisation. So why is it so difficult to find the next Netflix in travel?

Phocuswright suggests the following reasons:

- Travelers only take 3.4 trips per year (UK). That’s not many opportunities to collect data.

- Only 19% of travelers travel alone. Travel is inherently social, which makes personalisation really difficult.

- The same travelers are often different people (on business, with family). And destinations and accommodations selections change based on those roles.

- And once travelers arrive at a destinations, those roles have an even higher impact on what we do when it comes to activities and entertainment.

Simply put, travel is much more complex than Netflix. After all, how difficult is it to suggest someone Shrek 2 who just watched Shrek 1.

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Ctrip hotel revenue surges 45% in Q1

May 14, 2015

Ctrip continues to spend heavily. Product development expenses jumped by 83% to $130 million (largely because of the compensation it had to pay to talented employees) and sales and marketing rose 68% to $117 million, both outpacing the revenue growth.

But net loss has narrowed. Ctrip reported diluted earnings per share of $0.15 net loss, much better than the $0.25 net loss expected by the street and the $0.26 net loss incurred in the December quarter.

Ctrip does not see any slowdown in the June quarter, saying that revenue will grow about 45-50%.

Get the full story at Barron's Asia and Ctrip

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Why do travelers abandon their online bookings?

May 14, 2015

According to the study, 81 percent of travelers initially abandon their bookings online. This happens for several reasons, including: just looking/want to do more research (39 percent), price too high/want to compare (37 percent), need to get the opinions of other travelers (21 percent), booking process is too long/complicated checkout (13 percent), technical issues/lost connection (9 percent), and payment issue/lack of options (7 percent).

During the booking process, 53 percent of travelers jump ship when they are shown the total price, 26 percent abandon when they are asked for personal details and 21 percent flee when asked for payment details.

It comes as no surprise that cost is a heavy factor in the booking process. It’s also worth noting that the No. 1 reason why travelers abandon their bookings is because they are simply in the initial stages and browsing their options. After all, 87 percent of respondents said they would consider returning to their initial booking eventually, including 33 percent during the same day and 43 percent within one week.

Get the full story at TravelPulse

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TUI Group confirms demise of Thomson and First Choice, outlines plan for global rebrand

May 14, 2015

Tui Group confirmed it will adopt Tui as a single global brand today, saying the process could take “five to 10 years”.

Fritz Joussen, Tui joint chief executive, told investors and analysts in the City of London today: “We decided to migrate to one brand. Our belief is a global brand scales better than many [brands].”

But Joussen added: “We must be very careful not to destroy local brand equity.” He insisted it would be “a careful process” as he outlined two phases of ‘brand migration’, beginning in the Netherlands, France and Belgium.

Get the full story at Breaking Travel News and Travel Weekly

Read also "Tui confirms intention to sell Laterooms this year" at Travolution

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United Airlines relaunches site for personalized, touch-friendly booking across screens

May 14, 2015

The new site provides users with a sleeker and more modern interface, in addition to personalized features such as widgets customized to Mileage Plus members’ past travel histories. The enhanced sorting functions are also meant to drive sales of more flights as mobile booking applications begin to crowd the competitive hospitality sector.

“Our customers were absolutely the inspiration to transform from the ground up,” said Jennifer Dohm, a spokeswoman for United Airlines, Chicago, IL. “We’re very in-tune with the needs of the modern traveler.

“Technology is not just a large part of the travel experience; it drives the travel experience. We are very much trying to lead that experience from a digital perspective.”

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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New Marriott app enables guest requests

May 14, 2015

“Some 75% of people travel with one or more mobile devices and the percentage is higher for younger travellers,” said Matthew Carroll, vice president of Marriott Hotels. “We know today’s travellers want a mobile experience built around their changing needs and desire to communicate on their terms. Mobile Request is the brand’s next evolution since our introduction of mobile check-in, checkout and room ready alerts worldwide.”

Mobile Request will be available to members of the Marriott Rewards loyalty programme. Members who have upcoming reservations will be able to instantly communicate with their hotel, either using a real-time chat service, or via a drop-down menu that allows guests to select the most requested services and amenities.

During the testing phase, Marriott said that Mobile Request proved beneficial for guests in transit who wanted to request services before arriving at the hotel, such as having a car to meet them at the airport.

Get the full story at Travel Daily Asia

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10 things you need to know about Search Analytics - Google’s new tool for keyword ranking reports

May 14, 2015

Search Analytics is a free tool to show how your keywords rank and the visits they generate to your site through time. Google has built this tool since with the growth of Not Provided Keywords almost all organic search traffic is now encrypted, making it impossible to see in the original Google Analytics SEO reporting which keywords from Google are driving visits and converting. This led to a resurgence in the popularity of rank checkers which Google has alway discouraged.

It shows keywords through time, but only for the last three months. Unfortunately it does not provide long-term analysis. Analytics tools are most useful when you can do year-on-year comparisons that take seasonal changes into account - this isn't possible at the moment.

Get the full story at Smart Insights

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Phocuswright Europe 2015: The Travel Innovation Summit - What’s in for hotel marketers?

May 14, 2015

- Triptease: Made for hotel websites, the company’s widget shows real-time OTA prices and how they compare with your best-available rates while consumers book on your website. The tool can be easily integrated into your hotel website and costs only £ 1 per room/month. An innovative take on driving direct bookings for hotels - one that also won this years Travel Innovation Summit Europe Award.

- TripRebel: If Apple ever will be into hotel bookings, it most-likely will look like TripRebel. Beautifully designed, with an innovative hotel selection process, TripRebel not only makes it a joy to book hotel rooms, the company even goes one step further: It watches the offers of your selected hotel until the date of your check-in, and if it finds a better rate for the same room in the same hotel it will book it automatically for you. Or better yet, if a superior hotel in the neighbourhood drops its prices, it will block a room and contact you for an upgrade. TripRebel runs on Expedia’s hotel inventory, but has plans to eventually work with hotels directly at a later stage.

- GuestU: The Lisbon based company enables hotels to quickly build their own mobile app. Guests use the app to discover the area around the hotel, including activity and restaurant suggestions. The app can be easily updated by the hotel, and can work in tandem with its website booking-engine, so users can book your hotel directly through the app next time they return. The app is priced on a subscription model at € 1000 per year.

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Phocuswright Europe 2015: For Expedia the best shopping experience is not necessarily about price

May 14, 2015

One effective strategy calls for offering customers a valuable set of listing choices rather than just list by price. Like selecting a hotel by location, features, reviews and the likes.

To illustrate the effectiveness of this strategy, the company’s Senior Vice President and Head of Retail, Gary Marrison, presented some insights from a test Expedia did with a travel product that is not particularly known for its differentiation factor: flight bookings.

Expedia included information about the whole flight product like aircraft type, food, power, WiFi, seat pitch and entertainment within its flight listings. And it further refined it with five million flight reviews it collected over the course of a few month last year (customers received a message after they landed with a request to rate and review their experience).

Once Expedia integrated all that information into their flight product listing, it found that customers who engaged with new listing information were more than twice likely to purchase the flight.

Everything in real-time

Another powerful set of service options that Expedia is embracing is making its vast amounts of data available in real-time, both for suppliers and travelers.

Hoteliers for example, can select their hotel competitive set within Expedia’s Supplier Market Place and compare and manage rates in real-time.

Similarly real-time hotel reviews empowers hotels to learn about product or service deficiencies and act upon them while guests are still on property.

And travelers may receive real-time notifications from Expedia with help information while traveling - like flight delays, weather conditions, and itinerary suggestions.

On personalisation

When it comes to the industry buzz word personalisation, Expedia says we’re still at the very beginning of an extremly long journey on how customers engage with pages so the next time they come those pages are just a tiny little bit more relevant.

To Expedia, personalisation is all about machine learning. The company employs over 700 data scientists and analysts tasked to make the site more relevant for users with every single click.

Any B2B hotel tech plans like

According to Gary Marrison, Expedia currently has no publicly stated view on whether it will enter the hotel B2B tech market like Priceline did with’s BookingSuite.

However, the company is trying to figure out, what kind of services and information hotels need to better reach consumers. So yes, there is more to come eventually.

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Phocuswright Europe 2015: What’s next in meta?

May 14, 2015

But the real challenge for meta search is mobile, according the a panel with representatives from meta search players Skyscanner, TravelSupermarket, minube and HotelsCombined.

In a mobile world with its connectivity issues, meta search engines have to get transactional. But other than OTAs, meta search engines have to make it clear in the transaction process that they are just the facilitator of the transaction and everything that comes with the transaction is serviced by the supplier.

The panel also agreed, that mobile in the meta space is not only about the transaction but also creating value. One key challenge is to be able to follow users across devices to better serve them, which today is tricky to achieve, according to HotelsCombined.

And what about the disappearance of hotel rate-parity?

As one would expect, all meta search representatives on the panel agreed, that a world without rate-parity will benefit not only consumers, but also meta search engines. Finally they are able to deliver data in the way it was meant to be.

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Phocuswright Europe 2015: The complex world of the independent hotel

May 14, 2015

Yes they do, agrees a panel with representatives from BookAssist, TravelClick, Worldhotels and TripAdvisor. However, today there are simply too many options available for hoteliers to grasp. The result is that many hotels find themselves in decision paralysis or wishing for the one miracle solution that solves all their challenges.

But for Des 0’Mahony, Founder and CEO of BookAssist, is not only about tools. He urges hotels to primarily focus on strategy, and then select the tools needed to accomplish them.

Another point of pain is make time available in a hotels daily operation to use all these tools. Managing their content on different platforms in different languages has become a major challenge for independent hotels, according to the panel.

Yet, with all these technologies available, independent hotels are more than just technology. Travelers are looking for experiences. And experiences are not virtual. While Amazon can take their entire experience online, hotels cannot. There is a clear disconnect, and hotels have to make sure that the experience remains center stage, says Kristin Intress from Worldhotels.

And what about OTAs and rate-parity?

All panel participants agreed, that the latest rate-parity enforcement by the European Commission is more about OTAs than hotels. As long as OTAs demand rate-parity from hotels on their own hotel website, the new laws will change nothing, and hotels will remain without full control of their distribution.

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Digital channels drive impressive hotel booking growth in Q1 2015

May 13, 2015

Hotel Direct (calls directly to the property and walk-in customers) and calls to a hotel’s 800-number, the CRO channel, decreased by -8.4 percent and -6.1 percent, respectively.

“As we enter the peak travel season, the distribution outlook continues to remain consistent from last quarter with travelers continuing to gravitate towards digital booking engines,” said John Hach, Senior Industry Analyst at TravelClick. “It is evident that hotels are focusing on average daily rate (ADR) to drive revenue per available room (RevPAR) as they ramp up for summer.”

All distribution channels will continue to see strong ADR growth in Q2 and Q3 2015 which is tracking at 4.3 percent and 5.9 percent respectively, based off of reservations currently on the books. Breaking it down by channels, ADR for the second quarter is up 5.1percent for the GDS channel, 3.8 percent for the hotel direct channel, 4.5 percent for and 1.8 percent for OTA.

Hach continued “As occupancy continues to flatten, utilizing distribution partners is becoming a key part of a hotelier’s strategy, making channels like the GDS even more attractive as it provides higher ADR than third party options.”

Get the full story at TravelClick

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Strong dollar not a drain on US hotel demand

May 13, 2015

Industry pundits had feared the dollar, which has appreciated against the euro as well as several other foreign currencies, would dissuade travelers from visiting comparatively pricier gateway markets such as New York City.

The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY) was 94.92 as of press time, which was more than the 52-week low of 78.91 but less than the 100.39 52-week high.

“You have to believe that it’s impacting business at least somewhat,” said Chris Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton Worldwide Holdings, during an earnings call with analysts on 29 April. But the first-quarter data, both empirical and anecdotal, showed otherwise, he said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Hotel chains deliver instant gratification, propel sales with mobile promotions

May 13, 2015

Wyndham is aiming to ramp up awareness of its updated Wyndham Rewards loyalty program by offering members the chance to receive 3,000 bonus points if they stay at a branded property through Sept. 7, while Choice Hotels is enabling customers to earn a $50 gift card if they take two separate trips this summer and book accommodations via its mobile application or online. These strategies point to the increased focus on loyalty that hotel marketers are spreading across all digital channels, especially mobile.

“Rewards-enabled promotions are important because they help keep members excited about the program and drive engagement, which in turn helps drive loyalty,” said Noah Brodsky, vice president of worldwide loyalty and engagement, Wyndham Hotel Group, Parsippany, NJ. “To help kick-off our new program, we’ve launched a new summer promotion where members earn 3,000 points after just one qualified stay.

“It’s an incredibly rich offer that immediately allows members to redeem for a ‘Go Fast’ award night, right out of the gate.”

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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Evolving booking engines will soon equal the abilities of expert agents

May 13, 2015

Over the past decade, numerous experts within the travel industry have been claiming that technology can't replace travel agents, that only human beings, leveraging years of experience, could help you find and book that perfect trip.

Indeed, this statement was true for many years, and initially the emergence of the booking engine was viewed not as a threat but merely as a useful tool to be utilized in the booking process.

The mere thought of an intelligent, machine-based travel expert system capable of coming even remotely close to understanding clients' needs was viewed as the stuff of science fiction.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Chinese travel interests move from shopping to experiences

May 13, 2015

Air ticket purchases to South Korea have increased by 85 per cent over the same period last year, and Thailand and Japan have registered increased bookings by 60 and 50 per cent respectively.

For the Chinese, countries like Japan and Thailand are cultural destinations and the continued increase in interest likely signals a shift in Chinese travel preferences.

On the other hand, the number of visitors to Hong Kong for the April-September period has plunged by 48 per cent. A GfK study on the destination image of the top five Asian countries among Chinese reported that the key draw of Hong Kong is shopping; and the decline in tourist numbers could mean that shopping is no longer a priority for mainlanders.

Get the full story at TTG Asia

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As mobile searches surpass desktop - what does it mean for your marketing

May 13, 2015

What does mobile-domination mean for your marketing strategy?

1. Think fast: People searching on mobile devices are looking for fast answers to questions. They are generally looking to take an immediate action, such as: locating a store, finding an address, reading an article or booking an appointment.

2. Keep it simple: If it takes more than a click or two to complete an action on your site, it’s too long and visitors will leave to do it somewhere else. Make sure the pages people land on are streamlined – cutting out unnecessary bells and whistles that will just slow it down and confuse visitors. Point people to the most important places first, and include options to access more content from there.

3. Optimize for answers: Mobile users search differently than they would on a desktop. Tossing out the old rules that say you search in formal keyword phrases when you want information, mobile searchers are more likely to ask direct questions: Where is the nearest bookstore? What does B2C marketing mean? How to promote a Tweet, etc. Make sure your website content is built around answering these kinds of queries to get visitors to your site in the first place.

Get the full story at Brafton

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Triptease integrates with Sabre’s SynXis Booking Engine to drive direct bookings for hotels

May 13, 2015

Initial results have been strong with early partners seeing a 35% increase in onsite conversions in the first month on average.

Triptease's head of Business Development, Alexandra Zubko said: “We have been delighted by the commitment from a leader like Sabre. I think we are both pleasantly surprised by just how effective Price Check has been in driving direct bookings for clients. Does it solve all a hotel business’s problems in one move? No. But with our simple integration process hoteliers across the world can turn more lookers to bookers and drive their direct bookings by 35% within a month.”

Luxury Family Hotels has recently integrated Price Check to good effect. Jonathan Parker, Head of Sales and Revenue at Luxury Family Hotels said, "Thanks to Triptease and SynXis we've been the first to integrate Price Check for our guests. We're already seeing a difference and will now be conducting more tests with the Triptease team to see how we can best optimise and increase how many people book direct with us.”

Related Link: Triptease

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The Whitehall Hotel website blends industry-leading design with innovative technology

May 13, 2015

The Whitehall Hotel combines modern amenities and a stately atmosphere in the heart of Chicago. The hotel’s rooms, amenities and public spaces evoke the aura of a classic European boutique, while its in-room amenities suit the hotel’s location in one of America’s most populous cities. The hotel’s refined feel and presence just steps from the Magnificent Mile demanded a site that supplied simple-yet-elegant design and a conversion-minded approach across the three screens (desktop, mobile and tablet).

The property’s new website, which was designed, written and developed by HeBS Digital, speaks to The Whitehall’s blend of refinement and romance. Vibrant images and attractive visual-focused promotional tiles greet each guest, while search engine-optimized copy describes the property’s features, amenities and location in alluring detail. With a single home page scroll, visitors can explore a variety of attractive elements, including a photo gallery, interactive map, calendar of events preview, and a pop-out menu providing access to internal content pages.

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

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Top 10 luxury hotel brands in digital

May 12, 2015

This year’s Digital IQ Index®: Luxury Hotels reflects methodology modifications that account for the rise of mobile, the increasingly global nature of travel and changes in Google’s hotel price ad strategy. Laggard brands lacked incremental investments in the brand site, including localization of sites in key international markets, and in building out mobile offerings. Read on to see what distinguished the most digitally savvy brands on L2’s list.

1. Marriott / Digital IQ: 143

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 10.34.07 AMMarriott Hotels ascended to the top spot this 
year, spurred by Marriott International’s investments in content marketing and Index-leading visibility 
in category and city search. 
Thanks to a big video push by Marriott Content Studio, a unit that launched in fall 2014, the category’s YouTube Top 10 includes several Marriott brand videos. Marriott has also forayed into blogging platform Medium, launching travel and lifestyle vertical Gone, and was the first hotel brand on Snapchat.

With Index brands sending only 0.6 emails per week, Marriott also stands out as the only brand that consistently sends more than one email a week. Its site boasts a sophisticated booking box functionality that lets users search by major attractions and choose flexible dates. And parent Marriott International is a leader in mobile, recently recording the one millionth mobile check-in. Marriott is also testing a beacon program, LocalPerks: Guests opt in via the Marriott Guest Services app to receive location-specific push notifications.

Get the full story at L2

Article location: introduces Secret Prices

May 12, 2015

Secret Prices offers thousands of specially negotiated rates and subscriber-only deals on hotels in top destinations around the world.

To gain access to Secret Prices, customers can simply subscribe to emails, download the award-winning mobile booking app and/or sign up for the free loyalty program rebranded® Rewards.

Welcome Rewards®, the industry-leading loyalty program, has been rebranded as Rewards. Loyalty program members will still earn a free night* after every 10 nights stayed at nearly 200,000 hotels across the world, with no blackout dates. Existing Welcome Rewards members will automatically become Rewards members and will continue to earn free nights without experiencing any changes to their account or the way they accumulate free nights. They will also enjoy the dual benefit of the new Secret Prices program.

"We continually look for ways to evolve the services we provide our customers," said Clive Peoples, vice president of customer marketing for the brand. "Secret Prices brings even greater savings to our members, app users and email subscribers and offers value beyond other online travel sites."

The loyalty program has more than 15 million members and has awarded more than three million free nights, allowing members to earn rewards while they sleep. Rewards members can access Secret Prices and manage their free nights on the go, via the award-winning mobile booking app, or on their PC.

To learn more, visit

Article location:

New data: Reports of the demise of travel agents were premature

May 12, 2015

ASTA’s 2014 Labor & Compensation Report found that 74% of the Society’s members, accounting for about 24% of all U.S. agencies, had at least one employee or independent contractor, up from 72% in 2011. ASTA’s survey found that compensation for experienced agents, including benefits, had risen 17% in the past five years, from an average of $29,000 in 2009 to $34,000 in 2014, topping out at $105,000.

Some frontline agents earn more; one agency interviewed for this article said one of its agents made as much as $120,000 a year. Compensation for managers with sales responsibilities averages $46,500, maxing out at $175,000, ASTA found. The Society said that its members, which include online agencies such as Expedia, account for 84% of travel agency sales in the U.S.

Agencies are getting increasingly creative about where they find agents and how they pay them, testing, rejecting and tweaking the candidate search and compensation process in order to adapt to a constantly changing employment marketplace.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

Article location:

Booking online? Watch out for these airline & hotel travel scams

May 12, 2015

Every day, American consumers book 480 hotel rooms per minute online. A majority of those online bookings are done through reputable OTAs—Online Travel Agencies—such as Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, and Kayak.

But a growing number of bookings are made on confusing third party websites that sound legitimate, but aren’t. There are about 2.5 million questionable bookings, representing more than $220 million in revenue.

It all comes down to websites that often pop up as paid advertising in search results and appear—some say in a deceptive way—similar to a hotel’s actual booking website. Many even prominently display hotel logos while minimizing the appearance of their own logos.

Get the full story at Peter Greenberg

Article location:

Research suggests mobiles and millennials are changing the way we travel

May 12, 2015

According to research from, millennials comprise 32 percent of US travelers, and are the fastest-growing age segment in travel. This techno-savvy group is changing the way hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues. For example, about one in four (25%) millennials who book hotels does so via a mobile device. The data cited also suggests that mobile marketing can be effective at getting last minute travellers. The study found that 70 percent of hotel bookings by millennials via a mobile device are made for same or next-day check-in.

Millennials are a good target audience because they spend more money when the travel. According to data cited by the MMGY Global, nearly 60 percent of millennials would rather spend money on experiences than on material goods. When put into numbers, the average millennial traveller intends to spend about $5,300 while travelling, whereas Gen Xers, say they'll spend about $5,000.

A 2014 comScore study reported that 40 percent of the US travel audience only accessed digital travel content via mobile. An eMarketer report estimates that in 2015, total mobile travel researchers rises nearly 20 percent to hit 72.8 million, or 54.6 percent of those who research travel digitally. That percentage is estimated to reach about 71 percent by 2018.

Get the full story at

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Wyndham unveils multi-million dollar marketing campaign to launch new loyalty program

May 12, 2015

Wyndham Hotel Group, the world’s largest hotel company, today announced the global launch of its groundbreaking new loyalty program, Wyndham Rewards®, with the debut of a multi-million dollar, integrated umbrella marketing campaign.

Conceived and produced in partnership with People Ideas & Culture’s Group Company CY&N by PI&C, Wyndham Rewards is investing $100 million in the new campaign, which stars Kristofer Hivju from “Game of Thrones” and “Force Majeure,” and includes playful TV and radio spots, digital media assets and on-property collateral at more than 7,500 hotels worldwide. To celebrate, Wyndham Rewards is kicking-off a summer promotion where members can earn 3,000 bonus points after just one qualified stay, now until September 7th.

“We are thrilled to launch a marketing campaign that uses a fun, whimsical approach to show how simple and easy it is for members to earn and redeem the rewards they deserve across our portfolio of iconic brands,” says Josh Lesnick, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Wyndham Hotel Group. “We are transforming the landscape of loyalty and launching the richest program in the industry, rewarding our members with what they want most – a free night.”

Introducing The Wyndham Rewards Wyzard

A modern, colorful take on a timeless persona, the “Wyndham Rewards Wyzard,” played by Hivju, is an empowering, optimistic character who magically appears with his signature blue smoke to reward members during their travels. Through creative, imaginative vignettes, the Wyzard brings the simplicity and ease of the new program to life and underscores the campaign’s core tenant and tagline, “You’ve Earned ThisSM.”

CY&N by PI&C produced the campaign and assembled a star team, including director Mike Maguire of MJZ who produced the TV shoot, noted costume designer and fashion stylist Mr. Gammon, and photographers Jill Greenberg and Todd Selby for the Wyzard and lifestyle photography. The Wyzard marks the first advertising character ever used by the company in an umbrella marketing campaign.

Debuting globally but with a focus on the U.S. and Canada, the campaign includes multiple TV spots on cable networks such as ABC Family, ESPN and TBS, along with significant investments in digital video, radio and unique social media content.

Free Nights Have Never Been This Simple

The new Wyndham Rewards bucks the current travel industry trend of confusing reward categories by offering members a generous points earning structure along with a flat, free night redemption rate – the first of its kind for a major rewards program.

The program features:

- Go FreeSM: With just 15,000 points, members can redeem a free night at any of the program’s more than 7,500 hotels globally with no blackout dates.

- Go FastSM: Members who want to redeem their points sooner or stay longer for less can book a night at available hotels for just 3,000 points plus cash.

- Go Get ‘EmSM: For every qualified stay, members now earn 10 points for every dollar spent or a minimum of 1,000 points per stay, whichever is more.

For a limited time, members who sign up for a Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature card can take advantage of the brand’s richest bonus offer of up to 45,000 bonus points, or three free nights at any Wyndham Rewards hotel, as well as 15,000 additional points on their account anniversary each year.

View the TV spots at Advertising Age

Article location:

Understanding tomorrow’s traveller

May 12, 2015

This tribe of travellers, which was one of the six we identified in our recent report Future Traveller Tribes 2030, takes full advantage of relaxing and pampering themselves while on vacation, with the assurance of their safety and enjoyment.

Our survey also found that U.S. travellers are looking for rest and relaxation above all else. They are most eager to unwind from their lives on vacation. Of those surveyed, 45.4% of respondents agreed that the favourite part of their most recent trip was unwinding from the feeling of being overworked, which they preferred, versus engaging in pursuits of adventure, culture, or enrichment. This was reiterated with 42.7% saying that their guilty pleasure is to flip the “off switch” when in-flight – a trend especially true for travellers aged 55-64 with 49% saying they prefer to switch off while vacationing.

Get the full story at Amadeus

Article location:

How mobile is changing in 2015

May 12, 2015

But it’s how we interact with these devices that is really impacting the travel industry. The continued growth of mobile has meant hotel marketers have had to rethink the way they target and engage with travel shoppers on the go.

The latest innovations in mobile offer hoteliers a new opportunity to enhance the guest experience and deliver rich content in an interactive way. But simply optimizing your hotel’s website is not a long-term strategy.

In order to drive engagement and ensure repeat business, hotel marketers will need to deliver a mobile experience that’s both social and user-friendly. Mobile is not a fleeting trend but rather an effective and essential platform for amplifying your hotel’s story.

Get the full story at Leonardo

Article location: adds PriceMatch to its hotel B2B tech arsenal

May 11, 2015

Through a system of proprietary algorithms, PriceMatch's intuitive, cloud-based platform delivers real-time data to hotels, giving them a deeper understanding of current performance in order to drive improvements on their top and bottom lines. The addition of PriceMatch will further The Group's continued efforts to drive value for its network of 600,000+ accommodations partners worldwide, helping them expand through next generation technology services and distribution expertise.

PriceMatch will be integrated into BookingSuite, a recently-launched division of (an operating business of The Priceline Group) that helps accommodation providers grow their businesses and their brands through smart software and services.

"We are always looking for new ways to leverage data and technology to help our hotel partners be more successful in an increasingly digitally-driven world," said Rob Ransom, Director of BookingSuite. "With the addition of PriceMatch, BookingSuite partners will be able to access a powerful set of business intelligence tools to help them optimize performance through a platform that's easy to use and manage."

"We are very excited to join The Priceline Group, the world's leading provider of online travel," said Arthur Waller, CEO of PriceMatch. "As part of BookingSuite, we will continue to focus on technology innovation for hotels on a global scale."

Read also " officially launches BookingSuite, creates free websites for small hotels"

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