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Hoteliers strong at corporate rate table

October 08, 2015

That’s below the 6.5% to 7.5% range forecasted - the largest in three decades - by Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor at the Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism at the NYU School of Professional Studies. It’s also shy of the 5.2% increase predicted for the U.S. hotel industry on average, according to STR, parent company of Hotel News Now.

“In most areas, business travel is on the rise, and on peak business travel nights demand is more than supply, resulting in hotels being able to increase rates for 2016. Our plan is to reward loyal clients with the lower percentage increase to keep them from looking for a new preferred hotel,” said Lori Kiel, VP of sales and revenue management at The Kessler Collection.

She was among those expecting corporate rate increases between 3% and 5%, along with her peers at the Banyan Investment Group and Waramaug Hospitality.

Get the full story at HotelNewsNow

Read also "2016 corporate hotel rate increases could be largest in three decades"

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Expedia defends Australian hotel contracts

October 08, 2015

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is undertaking an industry consultation that is examining the practice following complaints from the hotel industry and action by regulators in some parts of Europe.

The Australian Accommodation Association (AAA) says some hotels have been threatened with removal from online travel agent websites if they do not company with the "price parity" clauses, even though they would benefit financially from offering a lower rate for direct bookings because Expedia and rival Priceline charge a commission of 15 per cent.

But Mr Okerstrom said Expedia typically had a good relationship with its suppliers and was "not generally threatening them".

Get the full story at The Age

Read also "Australia key to Expedia's global strategy" at The Australian Business Review and "Expedia aims to bolster Wotif brand" at The Australian Financial Review

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For Lufthansa GDS surcharge is step one toward disrupting the system

October 08, 2015

Lufthansa chief commercial officer Jens Bischof laid out the Lufthansa Group’s case during a second webinar co-presented with the Association of Corporate Travel Executives. The first focused on the mechanics of the DCC; the second on the philosophical decision to impose.

“We wanted to move the distribution landscape forward,” Bischof said. Airlines have for decades bristled over their relationships with GDS companies.

Meanwhile, Lufthansa has “taken an active role and invested a lot recently” in development of alternative booking solutions, he said. “We are in very advanced talks” and expect to make an announcement “very shortly.”

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

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AccorHotels unveils booking tool aimed at SME business travel market

October 08, 2015

It will initially be available for French companies, before being expanded to key markets such as Europe next year.

The tool allows employees to book online at the best rates at hotels ranging from Ibis to Sofitel, via an intuitive interface that clearly displays their company’s travel policy.

A spending cap can be set with single monthly invoicing and centralised payment of bookings. Companies can also monitor hotel spend using detailed reports and analyses.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Airbnb enters serviced apartment arena

October 08, 2015

“BridgeStreet is a leader in the corporate housing and serviced apartment sector, and we viewed Airbnb as a natural choice to link up with as they have certainly helped redefine the travel industry,” said BridgeStreet Global CEO Sean Worker. “We will strategically position our services to Airbnb’s untapped corporate travel audience while we offer a broader array of experiences to our client base. It’s incredibly intuitive.”

Airbnb launched its corporate travel portal, aimed at providing visibility and billing tools to travel managers, in July. The company reported in late August that 1,000 companies in more than 35 countries use Airbnb in their travel programs. BridgeStreet Global’s portfolio is about 50,000 apartments in more than 60 countries.

“Long-term travelers want more than just access to a place to lay their head. They want to get to know their city, neighborhood bookshop, best place for coffee—live like a local, whether that means staying in a Victorian home in San Francisco or a loft in Paris,” said Airbnb hospitality head Chip Conley.

Get the full story at Business Travel News

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Ryanair takes on Google

October 08, 2015

The budget carrier called on Google to enforce greater transparency on its advertising rules to prevent European customers being misled and overcharged.

Its concern centres on the prominence of ‘screen-scraper’ websites which monitor fares on airlines’ official sites before reselling them on their own.

Websites such as eDreams have been paying for Google to rank their websites above the official Ryanair website in Google searches which, in turn, is misleading customers into booking with the screen-scraper site, Ryanair claims.

The airline said it has no issue with Google’s advertising generally but added that it is being used to mislead customers, which is unacceptable.

Get the full story at the Irish Examiner

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ReviewPro releases Semantic 3.0

October 08, 2015

Based upon feedback from its clients, we invested significantly on this new and improved solution to allow you to identify positive and negative mentions related to guests’ experiences in more than 120 categories to help prioritize operational/service improvements. The data we use includes reviews aggregated from 164 online review sites/OTAs, in 45+ languages from around the world.

Get a breakdown of the new tool at ReviewPro

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13 tips to optimise your hotels’s Facebook presence

October 08, 2015

There are continual updates to existing platforms, and dozens of new and emerging platforms. Your customers have changed and are now more digitally aware and involved in the research and booking process. They are engaged in every step of the process, and this puts them in the driving seat more than ever before.

We need to understand new ways to connect with potential guests, with the kind of depth and color they’re now used to.

This article will give you a crash course in social selling and will help you understand the key principles of social media that will enable you to turn social media into sales. Not every channel or tool is right for every hotel! It’s important to test and choose the ones that suit and work best for your property. Figure out where your target audience is spending their time online and ensure you have an engaged presence there.

Get the full story at Net Affinity

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Why Google/TripAdvisor is a blessing for hoteliers willing to embrace a new paradigm

October 07, 2015

Using Metasearch to create demand is a good idea, but is just too costly and risky for many hotels. They just do not have the budgets to compete with the OTA´s. The independent hotel ROI model is different from an OTA’s ROI model. In meta search advertising, it is David versus Goliath, except this time Goliath wins ninety-nine times out of a hundred.

The cost of sale will be pushed down by this added competition. In Europe where we already see that hotels are now not legally obliged to offer rate parity to OTA´s. We will see revenue managers increase their pricing where the cost of sale is higher. Likewise with these two major players entering the market and especially with Google´s dominance in mobile search this is likely force other players to reduce their % to maintain market share.

OTAs are necessary for attracting clients to your hotel. The real trick is siphoning traffic from OTA’s and getting them to book on your website. This is where hotels have a major opportunity for getting some payback after years of feeding the OTA beast.

Get the full story at the Hotelient Blog

Read also "Why “Book on Google” and “TripAdvisor Instant Booking” are bad for hoteliers"

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October 07, 2015

The intervention of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) into the pricing model adopted by Booking. com comes in the wake of an investigation that found some aspects of its arrangements with Irish hotels restricted price competition and risked infringing both Irish and EU competition law.

Specifically, offered a “Best Price Guarantee”, which saw it promise to match lower rates for the same hotel rooms found elsewhere.

On the surface it seemed like a good deal for consumers, but it was underpinned by a “Price Parity” agreement that prevented hotels hosted by from offering lower prices through other online travel agents, other marketing channels or directly to consumers.

Get the full story at The Irish Times and the Irish Examiner

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Hyatt campaign highlighting unexpected insights from travelers

October 07, 2015

"We heard loud and clear from travelers around the world that while it is good to be home, there is an inherent freedom in traveling and breaking from routine, making new connections and experiencing new things," said Sandra Cordova Micek, senior vice president global brands, Hyatt. "This campaign lets travelers know that we not only understand, we agree. That's why we are celebrating the simple human truths about travel that sometimes being away from home can actually be good. The Hyatt Regency brand gives guests everything they need in one place – fantastic hotels and resorts around the world, caring staff, excellent food, and the list goes on."

The Hyatt Regency brand worked with advertising agency Pereira & O'Dell on the global marketing campaign, which is aimed at both consumers and meeting planners. The integrated marketing campaign includes TV, social, digital, out of home and print media, a surprise and delight program, in-hotel activations and conference take-overs that will continue to roll out through October and November.

"The best creative work happens when we are in tune with the consumer. We believe that the insight that sometimes 'it's good not to be home' will not only resonate, it will help a well established brand break through in a sea of 'home away from home' messages in the category," said PJ Pereira, founder and chief creative officer, Pereira & O'Dell. "The Hyatt Regency brand does a ton of research and prototyping to innovate and evolve the guest experience. We're excited to work with the brand to help tell its story."

Strategic Partnerships with Fast Company, Comedy Central (in the U.S.)

The Hyatt Regency brand is part of the Hyatt Gold Passport family of brands, whose overall purpose is caring for our community of travelers so they can be their best, wherever they are. Unexpected ways of caring for guests include connecting them to others, and even just making them laugh.

The Hyatt Regency brand is teaming up with Fast Company to create opportunities for entrepreneurial-minded travelers to connect. Fast Company will host experiential sessions at select Hyatt Regency hotels, including a series of workshops and networking events designed to allow guests to make new connections and to remember why, sometimes, it's good not to be home.

The Hyatt Regency brand is also working with Comedy Central to tap into the universal power of humor to bring people together by celebrating funny "not at home" moments. The brand will join forces with Comedy Central and follow a comedian on the road to the New York Comedy Festival, which Hyatt Gold Passport is also sponsoring. Guests will also be treated to surprise and delight comedic moments at select hotels across the U.S.

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Element Hotels fluffs up hotel stays for Fitbit challenge participants

October 07, 2015

The “Walk the World with Element Hotels, Powered by Fitbit” event is designed to incite a spark of travel interest in consumers by spurring them to log their steps on the road as part of a global challenge. Participant will automatically be entered to win rewards at particular milestones during the week, including Fitbit wearables and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, which can be redeemed for hotel stays at any of Starwood’s properties.

“We’re very excited about this partnership with Fitbit and couldn’t have found a better, more natural ‘fit’ for the Element, which caters to today’s healthy, active traveler,” said Paige Francis, vice president of brand management for Element Hotels, Stamford, CT. “This Walk the World campaign provides our guests yet another way to stay active beyond our health-conscious programs and offerings we already have built into Element properties around the world.

“The campaign was also inspired by and celebrates Element’s growth as a brand, as the walk officially started at Element Vancouver Metrotown and spans over 14,900 miles to Element’s first hotel in Asia Pacific, Element Suzhou Science & Technology Town, in Suzhou, China,” she said. “This virtual walk is already being well received by a lot of our guests!

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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Worldhotels unveils new online presence

October 07, 2015

Worldhotels has set new trends in web design on As mobile usage becomes more popular, will appear with a long scrolling design instead of linking to display content. It will be easier for users to simply scroll through the page to get their information than to click to locate information.

Another great improvement is removing non-essential elements to keep a clean and simple site design, and to stand out among the crowd of design-, and colour-heavy sites. The new design follows the latest trend of displaying the content on a centered site layout.Worldhotels' take on this returning trend is much more modern and centers the view point.

The design does not only allow for improved usability, but it is also motivated by the need to make the site load faster and consume less bandwidth. Guests can easily access via various device types and slower networks. The responsive design of helps by being at its guests' fingertips wherever they may be and is mindful of its users, no matter what data plan they might have. It will provide an optimal view regardless of accessed via desktop, mobile or tablet device.

The new allows for an easy hotel selection and booking experience for both quick decision makers and guests who are looking for inspiration and additional information about their hotel choice.

The content is aligned with Worldhotels' general marketing strategy of sharing their hotels' individual stories. For Worldhotels, storytelling means more than telling a simple story, it is the crucial communication and marketing strategy to make a difference in these social and content-intense times. It is a differentiated experience that Worldhotels wants to create for the user and inspire their guests to fulfill lifelong dreams. Guests can truly experience the hotel from the comfort of their home with images and video footage. They may use the website to cross "bucket list" items of their list and get access to once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Increased security and data privacy features include a secured user login process, server protection against potential cyber attacks and the possibility to opt out of the use of cookies.

Worldhotels' loyalty programme, Peakpoints, is fully integrated into the website and will allow guests to collect points directly on and redeem points into cash-value hotel vouchers.

"The new brings our guests closer to our hotels than ever before," explains Thomas Griffiths, Head of Worldhotels' marketing team. "We looked very closely at what our guests want and need in a website and then worked hard to give them just that."

The new website is live now at

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More than half of consumers dissatisfied with mobile retail experiences

October 07, 2015

While mobile is the primary device for a significant number of consumers, satisfaction with the mobile retail experience is low, with only 45 percent satisfied with retail applications and 47 percent satisfied with retail mobile Web sites. Retailers need to focus on creating both a strong mobile Web presence and a mobile app, the former to drive awareness and the latter to boost conversions, per Adobe.

“If mobile is the new paradigm, it is not great to have 55 percent unhappy with app experience,” said Matt Asay, vice president of mobile, Adobe. “You have to have a great experience.”

“Most people when they actually want to buy something, want to do it in app,” he said. “Smart marketers are looking at how do I get them to think about my brand by coming to my mobile Web site and, as they get them closer to really wanting to engage with me, that is when we need to get them to the app.”

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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Three ways email marketing attribution can improve your hotel’s marketing efforts

October 07, 2015

Hotel marketers have traditionally relied on soft metrics such as clicks and opens as the markers of effectiveness in email marketing. But, in this new data-driven digital media environment, many hotel marketers are finding themselves in a Catch-22. Despite tightening advertising budgets, they continue to lobby for big investments in branding efforts without a way to quantify the success of these initiatives.

As the pressure to prove value continues to mount, hotel marketers must take a closer look at using advanced attribution to quantify the impact of their email marketing efforts. Why? Here are three things that marketing attribution can do for you.

Get the full story at Revinate

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Kennedy Training Network announces its first eLearning course

October 07, 2015

KTN announced today a marketing alliance partnership with LearnerNation, a performance management system used by over 250,000 individuals in 2,300 organizations including Fortune 500's such as MasterCard, LG, Liberty Mutual, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and luxury brands such as Cartier and Celebrity Cruise Lines. KTN will help promote the LearnerNation platform to its hospitality industry client companies and brands.

"I have been involved with designing eLearning courses since the early 2000's," said Doug Kennedy, President of KTN. "So far most of the programs out there have been quite frankly boring for the learner to use. LearnerNation makes it super easy to create, modify and manage interactive and engaging course content on both a department and enterprise level."

Kennedy explained that the first course that is now available will be KTN's Hotel Reservations quest program, which is designed to help reservations agents capture and convert inquiry calls from today's over-informed, distribution channel surfing callers. Additional KTN courses will be introduced as eLearning modules over time.

"Case study after case study has proven that teams using LearnerNation have seen significant increases in Knowledge Performance Scores, and companies paying attention to the development of their employees have seen substantial net profit increases with more employees hitting bonuses for exceeding goals," said Michael McCord, LearnerNation Founder and CEO. "Best of all, Forbes recently recognized LearnerNation's unique specialization in millennial workforce development."

"Our marketing alliance with Doug Kennedy and the Kennedy Training Network will help us expand further into the hospitality industry, which we see as greatly benefiting from our unique approach given its relatively high turnover as compared to other industries," he added. "We're also excited that Doug and the KTN team will be available to assist our hospitality clients with developing content related to sales and guest service."

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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Hoteliers consider every way possible to battle booking duopoly

October 06, 2015

The battle, said Matt Luscombe, chief commercial officer and senior VP of franchise operations at InterContinental Hotels Group, is “not one of online travel agency versus online travel agency, but a duopoly versus millions of hotels.”

The analyst on the panel, Tim Ramskill, head of European travel and leisure equity research at Credit Suisse, said the very nature of the duopoly might not be attacked by regulators if recent United States’ form is anything to go by.

“In the United Kingdom, if a supermarket had more than 15% share of the market, it will be investigated. and Expedia has 40%, but when Expedia bought Orbitz last month, that meant it had 75%, and the (U.S.) Department of Justice just waved that through,” he said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Google hotel search adds “Good Deals”

October 06, 2015

Brad Brewer posted on Google+ a new feature Google must be testing in the Hotel Finder search results. The new feature is that Google is showing if a hotel price is a good deal or not. Google is using historical pricing to tell the searcher if the hotel price for the night they want to stay is a good price relative to the typical nightly cost of the hotel.

Get the full story at Search Engine Roundtable

Read also "New callouts live in Google Hotel Ads" at Koddi

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HotelTonight launches in Dubai

October 06, 2015

The total number of countries where consumers can use HotelTonight has reached 35.

With over sixty-five thousand hotel rooms in Dubai and one in every four rooms going empty every night on average, the opportunity for hotels to market and sell unoccupied rooms is huge. HotelTonight delivers by helping move these rooms, generate incremental revenue while allowing hotels to maintain control of their brand image and margins.

While initial marketing efforts will focus on promoting HotelTonight’s collection of hotels in Dubai, a number of properties in other Emirates will also make their rooms available on the platform.

Get the full story at Travel Daily Media

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How Lufthansa is pushing its premium credentials to beat off competition from low cost airlines

October 06, 2015

The Drum: How has the changing digital space impacted Lufthansa?

Alexander Schlaubitz: Things are changing all the time and they’re changing fast and I think that’s a really good thing. One of the things we’re just now culturally getting accustomed to is getting much more agile and that we have to cultivate a totally different way of approaching things. We’ve also now just now developed a couple of core beliefs like what should digital always be able to do? One thing is ‘Happy Next’; some next action that somebody can take as a result of any digital interaction with us. Or to be natural so that we don’t necessarily force digital on to them we only use digital in the most comfortable delivery point for the consumer.

How has digital impacted your approach to marketing?

One of the things that has been a very big shift, is a strict focus on human centricity. So we are trying to make sure that we put people and their state of minds at the heart of everything we do and that’s permeated out into our entire marketing but it certainly started with digital because that’s where it’s the most responsive and the most necessary. The ripple effects are really big for us right now and we’ve started to do a little gimmicky thing to write advertising with a double ‘d’ which is supposed to say that every touchpoint we have is supposed to add value to our lives and that is certainly something that was born out of a digital perspective.

Get the full story at The Drum

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The luxury way: Marketing for hotels

October 06, 2015

But with a map in hand, the direction to take becomes clear with arrival at destination and the first visitors following behind. In our first of a three part series of marketing guides for luxury hotels, we look at the foundations for optimal differentiation, guest connection and customer experience.

In many instances, particularly when booked for leisure, hotels are high involvement decisions which the guest invests more in emotionally, financially and mentally. They are often more considered decisions, requiring evaluation of alternatives, and information search from trusted sources before purchase is undertaken. High involvement decisions differ from the many low involvement choices that we make on a daily basis, and what constitutes high or low involvement can change too.

For example, a guest may make many business trips and book hotels with very low involvement, but become rather more involved in the process when booking a hotel for a short break with family- in their eyes, the risk has increased.

Get the full story at Hotel Industry Magazine

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Smartphones still for browsing more than buying

October 06, 2015

Retailers are well aware that mobile is critical to their business. According to Campaigner research from August 2015, launching mobile sites in preparation for increases in mobile audience is their No. 2 priority getting read for the upcoming holiday shopping season.

Based on data from Demandware, mobile devices account for a significantly greater share of US retail ecommerce site traffic than as recently as a year ago. In Q2 2014, 58% of US retail ecommerce traffic on the Demandware network came from dekstop or laptop PCs. A year later, its share had dropped by 10 percentage points.

Smartphones, meanwhile, had gobbled 12 percentage points in share—including 2 points from tablets, in an overall shift to browsing ecommerce sites on smaller screens.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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HRS becomes world’s largest hotel provider in GDSs

October 06, 2015

Corporates and travel management companies (TMCs) alike are able to benefit from HRS’ comprehensive offering, seeing the hotel solutions provider negotiate corporate discounts with over 40,000 hotels worldwide to meet its corporate customers’ specific needs.

Thanks to the integration of these discounts, corporate clients can take advantage of more attractive rates, which are also available through the various GDSs. Meanwhile, TMCs have access to a broader range of hotels and can optimise their processes as a result, now that independent hotels – which could previously only be booked offline – have been fully integrated into the GDS value chain. According to external studies, this leads to savings of up to €1.50 per transaction when booking hotels.

What’s more, the entire portfolio of HRS hotels can now be booked using online booking tools, including corporate rates negotiated with individual hotels or chains directly.

“Employees are often faced with a number of different options when it comes to searching for hotels for their business trips. As such, HRS has responded by making its hotel portfolio available worldwide, and its corporate customers can book via all channels – regardless of which channel they used for their search,” explains Tobias Ragge, CEO of HRS.

“As a result of globalisation, companies today use multiple global booking channels. HRS is pursuing an open-platform approach, which will enable customers to book hotels via all channels in order to increase the adoption rate of hotel programmes.”

This approach will improve the quality of travel management data and make it easier to plan trips and control costs. The established rate loading process for corporate customers and hotels will not change.

Read also "HRS launches corporate app to business travelers"

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Travelport acquires its distributor in Austria

October 06, 2015

TraviAustria was founded in 1987 by Austrian Airlines, an original shareholder in the predecessor company of Travelport. In addition to providing local sales, support and marketing activity for the Travelport travel commerce platform to travel agencies in Austria, TraviAustria built and operates one of the largest tour operator booking platforms in Central Europe, called CETS. CETS is used by 2,500 travel agencies in 12 European countries and provides real time access and booking for the products of some 140 service providers, in addition to the 400+ airlines, more than 650,000 hotels and other content that Travelport provides. Both TraviAustria and the CETS platform are now wholly owned by Travelport.

Gordon Wilson, President and CEO for Travelport, commented: "Vertically integrating one of our few remaining third party distributors in Europe, enables Travelport to operate more efficiently and to enhance our presence and customer relationships in Austria. Moreover, in this particular case, we have also acquired ownership of a significant tour operator distribution capability as an adjunct to our travel commerce platform and the revenues that go with this. The agreement will offer us further synergies with the German company, travel-IT which operates in the same space and in which we invested earlier this year.”

Get the full story at Travelport

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2016 corporate hotel rate increases could be largest in three decades

October 02, 2015

Bjorn Hanson, a clinical professor at the New York University School of Professional Studies Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, said this year’s outlook shows that hoteliers are trying to reach a more favorable parity between transient and corporate rates than in previous seasons. “There is still some catching up to do from the perspective of the hotel companies,” Hanson said. “In recent years, the negotiated corporate rate increases ended up being less than average daily rate increases, so even though corporate rates have been increasing, [they have] not as much as other rates in general.”

Hanson said even though travel buyers “read the headlines” around the hotel industry, some still may be surprised at the effect that high occupancy, which is projected to continue at levels not seen since the 1990s, will have on negotiations. “It gives the hotel executives a sense of confidence that if some of these negotiated contracts don't work out, there's plenty of other demand to help achieve a favorable occupancy and maybe even at a higher rate,” Hanson said.

NYU based the analysis and estimates on interviews with industry executives and corporate travel executives, on evaluation of industry financial data, on press releases and on information available on hotel and brand websites.

Get the full story at Business Travel News

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Five ways this tech-savvy generation is making the most of travel

October 02, 2015

Now that the Millennial population (anyone born between 1980 and 2000) in America exceeds 83 million - even outnumbering Baby Boomers—the travel industry is flinging itself at them with upgraded technology, "meaningful" experiences, and easier ways to book.

Thing is, there's a single truth about the Millennial market: No one itinerary fits all. They're extremely curious about the world, and intent on exploring it on their own terms. They take risks - educated risks. They seek comfort in new ways. To put it more candidly, Millennials are traveling better than you.Here's how.

Millennials Have Their Choice of Hotels

A surge of new brands from big hotel companies like Marriott’s Moxy Hotels, Canopy by Hilton Hotels, and Hyatt Centric Hotels tempts Millennial travelers with free and fast Wi-Fi, in-room charging stations, stylish design and art, and plenty of community space to hang out. Even W Hotels, which pioneered the mass roll-out of design-led boutique hotels, is making a play for younger travelers by letting guest smartphones work as room keys and offering up resident “W Insiders” to give guests a local’s perspective. Smaller hotel collections are also doing the Millennial mating dance. The formula's the same—Wi-Fi (they love Wi-Fi), indie-cool design, and social spaces—but the options are more plentiful than ever.

Get the full story at Condé Nast Traveler

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Google-backed luxury-trip site Secret Escapes buys german rival

October 02, 2015

Secret Escapes has 19 million users, 2 million of them in Germany. No price was disclosed.

"Travista, with its hotel and trip flash sales, has a business model that’s very similar to ours,” Secret Escapes said. “Synergy effects will help us expand our offering in Germany on both portals.”

Germany is the second-most popular destination for European travelers behind Spain, according to the German National Tourist Board. Online bookings rose to 66 percent of global reservations last year, with smartphone trip purchasing also growing. London-based Secret Escapes offers discounted rates on members-only flash sales for luxury travel by selling vacant rooms.

Get the full story at Bloomberg Business

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India: Online hotel bookings to more than double by next year

October 02, 2015

According to the report, titled the Emergence of Online Travel Agents, by rating agency ICRA Ltd, around 8.4 million Indians are likely to book hotels online by 2016, up from 3.5 million in 2014.

“The deepening penetration of internet usage and smart phones in India has led to increased booking of hotels through online portals and applications in recent times,” said the report.

Travellers are increasingly using the internet to research and book flight tickets and hotel accommodation, swapping traditional travel agents for online travel agents, it added.

This is also expected to push the size of the Indian online hotel industry to $1.8 billion by next year from the current $0.8 billion.

Get the full story at livemint

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Facebook releases new guide to help marketers capitalize on ‘Moments That Matter’

October 02, 2015

Here are some of the highlights.

In the Moment

The premise of Facebook’s ‘Moments That Matter’ research is simple – we’re moving from a world where people connect around big moments manufactured by the media (“like soap operas, the “Seinfeld” finale and pivotal sports games”) to a situation where people are creating and sharing their own moments every day, 24/7. These moments are everything from what you’re having for dinner to starting a new job - all of these events are being shared on Facebook, giving marketers access to an unprecedented level of insight into consumer behaviors and interests.

Get the full story at Social Media Today and Facebook (PDF 2.7 MB)

Read also "Getting started with Facebook remarketing & custom audiences" at Sprout Social

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Looking ahead: The new search landscape

October 02, 2015

Throughout the panel discussion, three main themes stood out - the growth of mobile apps, the challenge of attribution, and voice of the future.

Leading into the session, El Goodman from comScore shared some interesting data:

- There is still 25 percent of the US population over the age of 13 that doesn’t have a smartphone and 60 percent that doesn’t have a tablet.

- Total digital media usage has grown 49 percent, with mobile apps having grown 90 percent (June 2013 vs. June 2015).

- Mobile search accounts for ~30 percent of all search activity (Q4 2014), with smartphones driving a greater share (20 percent) than tablets.

- 80 percent of time spent on the internet (via mobile) is spent on three apps.

Get the full story at SearchEngineLand

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TravelClick expands advertising partnership with Amadeus

October 02, 2015

Through this extended relationship, TravelClick will offer Amadeus’s text and graphical banner advertising solutions to hoteliers, enabling them to reach travel agents using Amadeus Selling Platform, where millions of hotel room nights are booked every year. In addition, the partnership will provide hotel customers with access to TravelClick’s unique bundle of solutions, allowing hoteliers to increasingly capture bookings and drive revenue.

“It is imperative for hoteliers to maximize brand visibility to increase bookings from travel agents, which typically book at a higher average daily rate than other market segments,” said Scott Falconer, EVP/General Manager, Media Solutions at TravelClick. “Expanding our relationship with Amadeus is part of our strategic vision to expand the solutions we offer to our network of hotel customers. TravelClick remains the only marketing provider that offers graphical media on all four global GDS platforms. Our expertise in this segment is unparalleled and we look forward to continuing to support hotels as they look to increase their presence on this important booking channel.”

Fernando Ramiro, Head of Global Advertising Sales at Amadeus IT Group commented, “For us, forging a strong, long-term relationship with TravelClick is key to expanding our advertising solutions portfolio around the world.”

Related Link: TravelClick

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Omnichannel travel retail strategy: A case study of TUI’s digitally integrated concept store

October 02, 2015

‘Beyond-Omni-channel’ to me sounded a lot like ‘Post-digital’, a term that is often misleading. Post digital is about digital being pervasive and everything being digital, rather than having moved beyond digital. It makes good points regarding the breaking down of silos between departments, but the term ‘post-digital’ doesn’t convey this clearly.

An interesting point regarding the effectiveness of TUI’s travel agency service made in the talk was that the distribution channels were in no way mutually exclusive, and in fact were self-reinforcing. A survey conducted by TUI discovered that 30% of their customers started their customer journey through a different medium to the way they eventually paid for the holiday.

One third of their sales are still taking part in their physical stores, and they find that often these people had already used the site extensively for research. Many came first to physical branches and then bought online, whilst others researched online at first and then came into a branch to purchase and finalise details.

Get the full story at SmartInsights

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New AccorHotels / TrustYou study shows effect of TripAdvisor reviews on bookings

October 01, 2015

Understanding the nuance of these correlations however – such as TripAdvisor bubble score vs. TripAdvisor popularity ranking, timeframe in which the review was written, brand, geographic market – can be challenging. In an effort to more thoroughly understand the way travel reviews influence hotel bookings, TrustYou launched a study in cooperation with AccorHotels and the Statistical Consulting Unit of LMU Munich, Germany’s premier academic and research institution. The study analyzes the TripAdvisor data of a sample of AccorHotels’ European and Asia-Pacific hotel bookings from November 2013 through September 2014.

Key Findings

TripAdvisor hotel rankings are heavily influenced by a hotel’s percentage of five-bubble reviews.
Hotel rankings on TripAdvisor also increase when the average review score increases but not as substantially as with 5-bubble reviews. These effects are stronger in Europe: if the share of 5-bubble reviews increases by 10%, the ranking improves by 11.3%.

A hotel’s ranking, review score, and percentage of 5-bubble reviews each have a positive influence on the number of bookings.
However, the level of influence of each factor varies between Europe and Asia-Pacific. For instance, the effect of the percentage of 5-bubble reviews is greater in Europe compared to Asia-Pacific, while the effect of the average review score is greater in Asia:

- If the share of 5-bubble reviews increases by 10%, the number of bookings increases by 10.2% in Europe and 7.8% in Asia-Pacific.

- If the average review score of the hotel improves by 10%, the number of bookings increases by 2.2% in Europe and 2.9% in Asia-Pacific.

Get the full story at TrustYou

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Travel agents using GDS avoid booking hotels that don’t practice parity

October 01, 2015

“Agents actively book away from hotels not offering the best rate in the GDS,” said John Hach, senior industry analyst for TravelClick. “Travel agents will actually penalize hotels that arent participating in rate parity.”

According to data from Travelclick, agents will stop booking a hotel for three or four months if they notice the hotel isn’t offering a competitive rate on the GDS.

The lack of bookings then leads the hotel to drop rates on the GDS in order to reacquire share, possibly costing it more revenue than if it had maintained rate parity to begin with. This could have major ramifications, particularly in the business travel space.

Get the full story at Skift

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Global travel becoming the ‘normal’ for more Chinese families

October 01, 2015

The World Tourism Cities Federation, a nonprofit, nongovernmental international organization organized voluntarily by tourist cities around the globe, said in a report last month that more than 100 million Chinese traveled overseas last year.

Particularly, it identified residents of Tianjin, and Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Liaoning, Hubei and Sichuan provinces as having the strongest demand.

Dai Yu, marketing director of China's largest online travel agency Ctrip, said although Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are still the top three tourist cities in 2014, the cities of Tianjin, Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, and Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, experienced the biggest growths.

Get the full story at

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HotelTonight on app indexing for hospitality marketers

October 01, 2015

During the “Staying Relevant in the Ever-Changing Mobile Search World: A Startup POV” session, HotelTonight discussed the crowded hotel market in regards to mobile and posited that search is an ideal fit for the San Francisco-based startup. The company leverages a variety of mobile advertisements to reach app users, its only target audience, as it fights off competition from major online travel agents such as Priceline and Expedia.

“It’s a really crowded market,” said Chris Creel, head of search and growth marketing at HotelTonight. “How do we stick out? It’s really the strength of our product

“Our users aren’t interested in loyalty programs, they want what’s best in the city they’re staying in, right now and right there.”

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

Read also *Google adds additional ranking boost for using app indexing API" at Search Engine Land

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Are travel guides still relevant?

October 01, 2015

And while the advent of the Internet and user-generated review sites such as TripAdvisor have largely usurped the role of printed travel guides, they’re still important tools for many travelers and hotel marketing executives.

“It might be old school, but we still believe it is an honor to be a Forbes Five-Star and a AAA Five-Diamond winner,” said Barry Brown, VP of sales and marketing at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The 800-room resort is the longest consecutive winner of both the Five-Star and Five-Diamond awards in the hotel industry. “We leverage these honors on the professional side of the business, meaning travel agents and other professionals. It doesn’t take away from reviews on user-generated travel sites, because there is a lot of content that gets shared this way, but Forbes and AAA represent a professionals’ accreditation for us,” Brown said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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What technologies are most important to marketers?

October 01, 2015

CRM will also drop significantly, from 68% currently to a projected 29% response of most important.

In fact, most marketing technologies faced a projected decline in importance. Among the five technologies expected to grow in importance over the next year and a half, predictive analytics saw the biggest jump, more than doubling from 16% to 37%. Big data and analytics, lead lifecycle and attribution reporting, programmatic advertising and personalization were also gaining in significance for B2B marketers.

The result is an outlook where various marketing technologies will have more equal importance in the B2B ecosystem. This may be because older technologies, like SEO, are being slowly eclipsed by emerging ones.

Get the full story at eMarketer

Read also "Study: Producing engaging content is marketer's biggest challenge" at PR Daily

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US RevPAR grows, but slows

October 01, 2015

1. August RevPAR was up only 2.2%: RevPAR growth in August was driven down by an occupancy decline of 1.4%.

2. Room demand declined for the first time in 69 months: Room demand had been growing since October 2009. Well, “decline” is sort of a harsh word; a 0.3% demand drop is basically flat performance.

3. Supply growth for upscale hotels was a totally ridiculous 4%: Chain-scale performance in August was tepid, reflecting the slow national numbers. Upscale hotels once again outperformed, though, and their RevPAR was up 3%, driven by strong 4.5% average-daily-rate growth.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Report: Experiencing ‘VRoom Service’ in a Marriott hotel

October 01, 2015

VR is in a strange place right now. Everyone is waiting for the first set of premium VR headsets -- the consumer Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive and Sony's PlayStation VR -- to be released to the public. They're all scheduled to come out next year, and in the meantime everyone is making do with developer kits and smartphone-powered models like Google Cardboard and Samsung's Gear VR. Most of the focus has been on VR-compatible video games, which is hardly surprising given Sony and Valve are backing two of the most promising headsets. But to have a broader mainstream appeal, VR will need to go beyond gaming. We've already seen a number of VR experiments in this vein, including 360-degree music videos, documentaries, and an animated short film called Henry.

Marriott has been tinkering a few ideas of its own. Last year, it created "Teleporter" booths that took you to a Hawaiian beach or the top of a London skyscraper. The walk-in capsules used the Oculus Rift, wireless headphones and a range of nozzles, vents and heat lamps for 4D effects. Marriott says it was more of a "thrill ride" though, and wanted to follow up with something more subtle and inspirational. That work led to VRoom Service, a portable VR kit that guests can use to watch exotic, 360-degree travel videos.

Get the full story at engadget

Read also "Marriott tests in-room virtual reality service"

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OTAs have a new demon to battle: Google!

September 30, 2015

The new Google Hotel Ads will charge the commission rates prevalent in the market, instead of charging by the cost per click method through AdWords. This move, though a predictable evolution for Google, would nonetheless act as a blow for online travel market players. Google has allegedly announced that its Hotel Ads Commission program will be available worldwide.

A few days back, the Chinese OTA, Qunar strengthened its partnership with Baidu, China’s largest search engine. One of the reasons why this is seen as a threat for China’s OTA leader, Ctrip, is because Baidu’s search results will give preference to Qunar’s products and services.

In a similar vein, Google’s search results might give preference to its own travel bookings, rather than the search results for the other OTAs. One of the ways in which users reach the OTA website is through Google search results. This might be one of the primary levels of concern for the OTAs right now.

Get the full story at Trefis

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Trivago building big team in shift toward direct-hotel relationships

September 30, 2015

In an exclusive interview [see Q&A below] with Skift, Johannes Thomas, Trivago managing director and head of hotel relations, says the company has shifted strategy over the last year toward emphasizing direct relationships with hotels in part because they are the best source of “exceptional” content about their properties.

Asked whether Google’s and TripAdvisor’s moves to accept hotel bookings on their own sites is an opportunity or a challenge for Trivago, Thomas says, “I think it is both. I think it is a big task and that is why we are building up a big team to build relationships with hotels and to take time for education [about the value of metasearch].”

Dusseldorf, Germany-based Trivago has more than 700 employees and its website currently lists 103 job openings.

Get the full story at Skift

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Survey reveals U.S. consumers’ growing reliance and trust in OTAs

September 30, 2015

Today more than ever American travelers are relying on the innovative web and app-based platforms developed by online travel agencies (OTAs) to effectively search, compare and book travel options across hotel brands, according to a new opinion research survey out today from The Travel Technology Association. Without online travel companies, consumers would have to visit dozens or even hundreds of websites and waste valuable time and effort in order to make an informed booking decision.

The nationwide survey was conducted online from September 25 to 27, 2015 among a cross section of 2,015 adults age 18 and over. It found:

- A majority of U.S. travelers (55%) choose online travel companies most when searching for hotels.

- Nearly 7 in 10 Americans see booking on online travel company platforms as convenient and safe.

- More and more Americans are choosing to book hotel reservations through online travel company apps and sites (43%) versus booking direct on hotel platforms (40%).

- 55% of American consumers believe the innovation developed by online travel companies is vital to the travel economy.

“By offering side-by-side comparisons, access to the growing array of travel options and competitive prices, online travel companies have empowered travelers to search, compare, and book from the palm of their hand from anywhere in the world,” said Steve Shur, President of the Travel Technology Association.

The scale and popularity of third-party online booking sites tells the story of their vital place in the travel ecosystem:

- In 2014 Expedia helped travelers book over 146 million hotel room nights.

- Each month over 27 million unique visitors browse Orbitz Worldwide sites.

- partners with over 370,000 hotels in 170 countries.

“It is clear the American public not only relies on the convenience of shopping across multiple travel brands in a single place, but they continue to trust online travel companies with their vacation and business travel itineraries,” concluded Mr. Shur.

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Nearly 15 million hotel bookings involve scams, AH&LA study reveals

September 30, 2015

Early estimates suggested that some 2.5 million hotel bookings a year were affected by deceptive practices through rogue third-party online travel agency (OTA) affiliates who pose as direct hotel booking sites. The study, conducted by GFK Custom Research, and released today shows that six percent of consumers who have booked hotels online had the experience of thinking they were booking directly with a hotel, but found out instead that they were booking with an online hotel booking site posing as the direct site. By AH&LA estimates, that translates to some 15 million hotel bookings that have been affected by deceptive rogue affiliates. That translates to more than $1.3 billion in money going to bad bookings, meaning consumers are not getting what they want and need, not to mention suffering inconveniences, lost room charges, and cancellation and booking fees. Another 20 percent of respondents who have booked hotels online reported that they were "not sure" if they had also been scammed.

These deceptive practices harm consumers, who don't get what they want or need, suffer the loss of reservations or face additional charges and fees. This concern was raised by the Federal Trade Commission which recently warned consumers about these deceptive practices through two consumer alerts highlighting the scams and offering tips to avoid misleading booking sites. These practices also damage hotel reputations and reduce consumer confidence in the online booking process.

"These findings clearly show that online hotel booking scams have eroded consumer confidence among third-party vendors," said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of AH&LA. "Consumers deserve transparency in knowing who they are booking with. That is why we have been actively working with state and national government agencies, including the FTC, as well as consumer advocacy groups, to ensure that consumers are protected and can feel comfortable in the booking process. It's always safest to book directly with the hotel."

Get the full story at AH&LA

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Expedia survey reveals current state of family travel in U.S.

September 30, 2015

Expedia's Family Travel Study consisted of 1,002 interviews of randomly selected U.S. adults with children under the age of 17. A full analysis of the study can be found here.

The study found that 94% of American parents who have traveled with their children take at least one trip with their family per year. Twenty-seven percent take two trips per year and 10% take three or more. At The Family Travel Association Summit this past last weekend, The Family Travel Association reported that family travel now accounts for a full one-third of all leisure trips booked in the United States.

"Family travelers tell us all too often that traveling with kids involves more mystery and mayhem than magic," says Expedia Senior Editor Sarah Gavin. "We care about researching and improving the family travel experience, because many of us at Expedia are family travelers ourselves, and we want to ensure that all families can find travel magic the way the experts do."

Tears on the Tarmac
Traveling during the holidays is already hectic and is even more difficult with children in tow. Getting a full family through security, with all of the shoe-removal, baggage search and liquid disposal it requires is particularly challenging, and one struggling family slows the line for every passenger that follows. The same challenge holds true within the tight confines of a plane, which can disconcert children and disrupt their neighbors. Unsurprisingly, Expedia's 2014 Airplane Etiquette Study found "Inattentive Parents" to be the second most offensive airplane passengers. To that point, 3% of American parents who travel admitted to having "temporarily lost track" of a child while on vacation.

Family Travel is Worth the Challenge
Despite the challenges, the majority of respondents agree that the reward of family travel is well worth it.

- 70% of parents who travel "agree or strongly agree" that their favorite childhood memories involve a family vacation.
- 76% of U.S. parents say that traveling with their children is "more play than work."
- 89% percent of parents say that it is more important for their children have fun on vacation than themselves. Approximately 10% feel a parent's fun is paramount.
- 4% of families bring a babysitter with them to share in the child-care responsibilities.

While unruly children pose an etiquette (and safety) challenge, the study found high levels of commiseration and sympathy among fellow parents who travel. In particular:

- 80% of parents "agree or strongly agree" that they have grown more sympathetic toward parents who are traveling with children since having kids of their own.
- 23% of American parents reported that vacations with children feel "more like work than play."

Nonetheless, aggravation still abounds. Seventy-six percent of American parents who travel report having received "annoying parenting advice" from strangers while on vacation.

Planning for family travel is also, by definition, more challenging than for couples or solo travelers. A majority (61%) of parents who travel begin planning family trips a couple of months in advance. A quarter of American parents plan family travel roughly one year in advance, while 12% book last minute, less than one month early.

Ten percent of parents who travel spend more than 10 hours searching for flights before booking, while 57% spend between two and five hours or more. Sixty-four percent of parents say that they would prefer to travel with family by car, if possible, while 35% prefer to fly.

The Family Travel Study also found that:

- 35% of American parents who travel have taken their children out of school for a vacation.
- 76% of parents say they would rather travel solely with their immediate family, versus 23% who say they would rather travel with other families.
- 31% have let their children choose the vacation destination. And these are the most popular vacation types selected by American families: Beaches – 23%, Theme Parks – 19%, Outdoors (camping, national parks) – 18%, All-inclusive resorts – 13%, Cruises – 9%, Road trips - 7%, Cities – 5%

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Get personal: 5 phases of travel email marketing ROI

September 30, 2015

The first step of the customer lifecycle is traditional inbound marketing, says Atri Chatterjee, CMO of Act-On Software.

It’s not just how to attract people, he says, but the first chance to take a look behind the scenes and analyze what’s going on with the (potential) customer. What are they clicking on? What content are they engaging with?

Travelink began sending weekly emails specifically targeting different audiences, and analyzed how consumers were engaging with the content to see how they could better capture their attention.

Get the full story at Media Post

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What’s wrong with your best rate guarantee and how to fix it

September 30, 2015

Created as a way to compete during the early days of online travel agencies, the Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) was meant as a hotel’s solid reassurance to travelers that their prices were the lowest throughout the internet.

The idea itself was brilliant, yet straightforward. If a guest found a cheaper rate on an OTA, the hotel would match that rate and sometimes sweeten the deal with an additional incentive such as complimentary breakfast, parking, or in some cases, a free night’s stay.

Since the cost of these incentives or discounts were much less than the commissions paid to the OTA, hoteliers wrote them off as a justifiable expense.

Get the full story at Tambourine

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How to increase hotel website conversions

September 30, 2015

During the webinar titled “The clear path to conversions,” hosted by Leonardo, two panelists discussed myriad ways to better conversion rates.

Consultant Scott Yankton said there are three key things to focus on when it comes to converting lookers to bookers:

- usability/user experience (how easy do you make it to find what users want);
- social proof (what others think about your property); and
- optimizing check-out (how easy one makes it to press that book button).

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Why “Book on Google” and “TripAdvisor Instant Booking” are bad for hoteliers

September 29, 2015

HeBS Digital sees several major issues with the OTA-type, commission-based “Book on Google” and “Book on TripAdvisor” programs:

- These programs are not “direct-with-the-hotel” bookings
- They will increase hotelier’s OTA dependency
- They will drastically decrease hotelier’s ability to generate online demand
- They will diminish hotelier’s competitive advantage online
- They will worsen ROIs and lead to increase in COS (Cost of Sale)

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

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So Expedia has swallowed Orbitz. Now what?

September 29, 2015

Look at the quick rise of rent-your-home-to-tourists powerhouse AirBnB, for instance, a provider that's usually in the conversation when travelers need accommodation. As recently as 10 years ago, AirBnB didn't exist.

At the same time, smaller players are coming up with fresh new ways to offer middleman services more effectively than the big guys. Little-site-that-could TripAdvisor, once a portal that natively featured only reviews of and basic information about lodgings, has rolled out an instant booking service that allows users to book rooms directly on its site.

In the plane-tickets sphere, Google, for one, has ramped up its efforts to sell bookings on flights. Its Google Flights site is a slick and easy-to-use tool that produces quick results that can be quickly modified with a range of criteria. The prices it spits out are often very competitive with those of its rivals.

On top of that, travel service providers have gotten much better at funneling bookings to their own sites. After all, what respectable company wants to sacrifice potential revenue on commissions to middlemen?

All this is why the two big OTAs have both been active acquirers lately. They simply want and need to keep up.

Get the full story at The Motley Fool

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Airbnb bookings expected to double to 80 million this year

September 29, 2015

This pace of growth is expected to continue or accelerate, the investors said. The company says it has more than 1.5 million listings - homes, apartments, guest rooms, even houseboats and tree houses - in more than 34,000 cities in 190 countries.

Its growth comes despite Airbnb's ongoing battle with regulators and lawmakers over who can list properties and how they should be zoned and taxed.

Some travelers prefer to use Airbnb not just for the cheaper price but also options such as renting an entire house, enjoying quiet neighborhoods lacking in hotels and benefiting from their host's local knowledge.

Get the full story at Reuters

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Design Hotels showcases mobile’s upselling power via check-in upgrades

September 29, 2015

The hotel brand has teamed up with mobile guest engagement platform GuestDriven to power the check-in features, which are designed to maximize revenue as well as further personalize customers’ stays. As mobile check-in becomes more synonymous with hospitality brands’ digital strategies, consumers can expect to see a growing amount of hospitality chains employ upselling tactics prior to guests’ arrival on premises.

“The user experience of GuestDriven’s Express check-in has been designed in a way that captures the guests focus and attention at a time when they’re looking for ways to prepare for and enhance their stay (24 hours prior to arrival),” said Kim Adams, marketing coordinator at GuestDriven, Montreal. “It has been purposefully designed to drive strong conversions, and it is performing very well in the times of the on-demand economy.”

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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European hotel sector posts gains in August

September 29, 2015

Belgium reported increases in the three key performance metrics: occupancy (+1.0% to 71.7%), ADR (+5.4% to €80.26) and RevPAR (+6.4% to €57.57). Year-to-date demand growth (+3.8%) in Belgium has outpaced supply (+0.5%). According to STR Global analysts, demand in the country is expanding beyond Brussels to cities such as Ghent, Bruges and Antwerp. In addition, heavy investments have been made in the country’s hotel industry based on attractive yields and healthy hotel performance.

France experienced a 1.0% increase in occupancy to 73.2%, a 3.2% rise in ADR to €179.65 and a 4.2% increase in RevPAR to €131.43. August was the third consecutive month in which demand (+1.7%) outperformed supply (+0.6%) in France. After a slow start to the year, the country’s year-to-date occupancy, ADR and RevPAR have all moved into positive growth figures.

Greece saw a 0.8% dip in occupancy to 74.7% but double-digit growth in ADR (+13.7% to €163.50) and RevPAR (+12.8% to €122.05). According to STR Global analysts, Greece experienced strong ADR performance in both July and August as a result of positive developments with the third European bailout in the country. Greece’s hotel performance did not plummet as some expected this summer as a majority of trips to the country were booked well in advance and were not subject to refund.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Be a better sender

September 29, 2015

It’s no secret to email marketers that the major ISPs create reputation scores for email senders and that a good reputation is fundamental to getting delivered to the inbox.

Until now you had no way of knowing your Gmail reputation score. Getting to the inbox has felt like ten pin bowling with a curtain in front of the pins.

But over the summer Gmail made available a free tool for senders to obtain data on their own reputation. Finally you can know what Gmail users think of your email.

Get the full story at SmartInsights and Gmail Postmaster Tools

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7 essential online hotel marketing strategies

September 29, 2015

Hotel Marketing Tip #1. Use AdWords’ Hotel Ads

This tip might seem painfully obvious, but for hoteliers, it’s the most important.

AdWords’ hotel ads is the ad format of choice for hotels, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts, and any other type of hospitality business. Hotel ads allow your establishment to appear in an exclusive section of the SERP alongside other hotels, making them a highly prominent and very visible way to get your business in front of people who need a place to stay.

Hotel ads offer the user a great deal of information, including a star rating, a review summary, the average nightly rate, and an image of the hotel. This lets prospective guests identify potential places to stay at a glance, making it easier for them to narrow down an already bewildering list of choices and make a decision that aligns with their objectives (more on this shortly).

Needless to say, using hotel ads is an absolute must for hospitality businesses, so if you’re not taking advantage of this ad format to promote your establishment, you need to start. Now.

Get the full story at Wordstream

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Amadeus speeds up diversification pace in airline, hotel, payment sectors

September 29, 2015

“We have always been very stringent with creating business very adjacent to our core technology in distribution, data centre, etc,” Holger Taubmann, senior vice president, distribution at Amadeus told TTG Asia e-Daily.

“Now we're going into similar transaction-based businesses in the airline IT world, and the next thing we’re trying to do is give the same distribution tools to hotels," he said.

"A fair bit of our business is coming from selling hotel bookings. We are extending that into hotel IT, which is a similar move as we have done on the airline side, going from the distribution part down to the core IT of a hotel,” he added.

Get the full story at TTG Asia

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The case for travel agents

September 28, 2015

Topaz International, a corporate travel auditor, conducted a study this year in which it looked at 5,572 itineraries booked via corporate travel programs, of which 81 percent could be replicated, with the same routing, on public internet sites. Of those, only 6 percent could be booked online cheaper than with a travel agent.

Small businesses generally make the switch from DIY to travel pro when they reach 25 to 50 employees and spend $50,000 to $100,000 annually on airfare, according to Anita Salvatore, executive vice president of global account services for Travizon. The Woburn, Mass., company turns out reports that help identify where a firm can leverage spending by, for example, negotiating with an airline for corporate rates. “If you’re planning on going public, you have to have these financial controls in place,” Salvatore says.

Tim Hentschel, CEO of West Palm Beach, Fla.-based HotelPlanner, which specializes in group meetings, concurs. “Once your travel budget gets above $100,000 per year, it’s time to look at what you can do with a travel partner,” he says, noting that small businesses hitting that mark may be able to negotiate lower rates.

Get the full story at Entrepreneur

Read also "Travel agents report record use of GDS"

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Shifting booking space opens doors for Google

September 28, 2015

But hoteliers interviewed for this report are hopeful that Google’s latest switch, focusing entirely on instant booking and scrapping its earlier framework for metasearch, might take some bite out of the two remaining mega-online travel agencies.

“It’s always better to have more competition, especially when you’re caught in the middle of it,” said Andrew Cording, director of revenue management at the Westin Houston Memorial City. “It helps keep (commissions) down.”

Google laid out its latest plans to capture hotel bookings earlier this week, ramping up the Google Hotel Ads Commission program and Book on Google. The overarching goal is to put more focus on a commission-based model accessible through typical search functions and maps and officially scrapping its metasearch site, Hotel Finder. The site also will be adding more information on hotels and their amenities over the coming months.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Lufthansa denies report that bookings dipped since GDS fee

September 28, 2015

“Currently there is no significant change of the overall booking situation within the Lufthansa Group. We are in line with the statements and forecasts given regarding the booking figures,” she said.

“If there have been non-official sales figures by a single GDS in the media, it is highly unprofessional to project them to describe the overall booking situation of LHG, even if you focus on all GDS sales. We certainly will give the public detailed and reliable sales figures within our regular financial reporting.”

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

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How Marriott built audiences through experiences

September 28, 2015

Marketers constantly battle to prove how we’re “better” than the competition and we’re terrible at it. We’ve created so much noise, and we constantly interrupt people for the sake of our selfish interests – to sell them something. We’re losing ground faster than we can gain attention because we have it all wrong. We’re interrupting people, rather than delivering something of value.

We don’t understand that people won’t waste 30 seconds on an interruption but they’ll spend 30 minutes on a great experience.

Marriott understood that when they created their content studio. They traded a focus on 30-second interruptions for creating 30-minute experiences that amuse, entertain and inform their audience about travel.

Get the full story at the B2B Marketing Insider

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Business travelers want their companies to recommend travel apps

September 28, 2015

GBTA based its report on responses from 521 managed and unmanaged travelers who have traveled on business at least once in the past 12 months. Among participants, 95 percent owned a smartphone that they used for business purposes. More than three-quarters have downloaded travel-related apps.

Navigation apps (think: Google Maps, Waze) are the most common among 54 percent of survey respondents. Next up: airline and hotel. Airline apps were downloaded by 46 percent and hotel apps by 45 percent. Thirty-four percent had downloaded third-party travel booking apps like Expedia, Orbitz and Kayak. About a quarter had downloaded itinerary management apps, ground transportation apps (like taxis, Lyft or Uber) and general travel review apps like TripAdvisor. All of the most commonly downloaded apps were consumer oriented.

That may owe partially to the fact that few companies actually recommend apps to their travelers. Just 17 percent of respondents said their companies recommended a menu of travel apps. GBTA suggests corporates are missing a golden opportunity to influence traveler app selection and preferences. Indeed, among travelers whose companies do recommend apps, 91 percent called those recommendations useful.

Get the full story at Business Travel News

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Travel of the future

September 28, 2015

And according to them, travel by 2030 will be a whole lot more interesting than it is today, though to my disappointment, no one is predicting a Star Trek-like beaming technology to be happening by then.

Still, more than a third expect to have holographic personal trainers keeping them fit on the road, and more than half think our current passports will be replaced by digital passports featuring facial recognition.

And we’ll be diving deep and flying high in our choice of destinations, with underwater hotels and travel into space growing possibilities, according to respondents.

View the infographic at Meetings Net

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4 ways that Kimpton is doing things differently in a digital world

September 28, 2015

That’s something that the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants has been grappling with as it carves out a niche in the digital era.

Kimpton is bucking some trends by:

1. Keeping the digital wall low between the front desk and the guest

While many hotels are leaping on the digital bandwagon and implementing things like mobile check-in and digital door readers, Kimpton is taking a softly-softly approach. It isn’t burying heads under a pillow when it comes to new technologies, but wants to be sure they work for the group’s customer demographic – and from their data Kimpton knows that one-to-one engagement really works.

Get the full story at EyeForTravel

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How hotels can survive and thrive OTA mega-mergers

September 28, 2015

1. Diversification

The most significant impact of the acquisition is that suppliers are going to be dealing with fewer players. Simply put, this means it becomes increasingly important for hotel and management companies that contract with OTAs to diversify their sources of distribution.

Three players are quickly gaining momentum in the non- booking channel game.

TripAdvisor’s powerful new TripConnect™ tool that has been rolling out this past year creates a powerful and seamless new experience that allows travelers to research, choose and immediately book on the world’s largest travel site.

Get the full story at nSight

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Expedia unveils new mobile app for hoteliers

September 25, 2015

The Expedia PartnerCentral app experience is designed to provide Expedia hotel partners with easy to use tools and actionable insights at their fingertips, affording busy hoteliers the ability to:

- Stay on top of reservations with up-to-the-minute booking information and notifications

- Receive real time alerts and insights on events taking place in their markets with the new Activity Feed

- View and reply to guest Real-Time Feedback during their stay

- Stay informed 24/7 by using seamless fingerprint log in on devices that support Touch ID

- Create, optimize and renew promotions or join Expedia Group campaigns to target and attract travelers

- Benchmark performance against the competition using MarketWatch

- Quickly promote last minute inventory with Sell Tonight

“The Expedia PartnerCentral app was designed to complement the online website experience for hoteliers on the go,” said Benoit Jolin, VP Global Product, Expedia Lodging Partner Services.

“We aim to provide our partners with the information they need exactly when they need it, and the ability to quickly and easily take action. We are continuously improving the app experience taking into account both hotelier feedback and monitoring interactions to provide the best possible user experience.”

“The mobile app was built with hoteliers from across the world in mind- at every property type and size,” continued Jolin.

“Take a small B&B managed solely by a busy couple who rarely have time to sit down in front of their computer; they can now receive booking notifications directly on their phone. Or the San Francisco independent hotelier that uses the app while commuting on the BART to load a last minute promotion. Or a General Manager who is able to respond immediately to feedback from his guests to ensure they have the best possible experience at his property. This level of interaction with the Expedia marketplace is unprecedented.”

The app is free for download in the US, Canadian, UK, Ireland, Australian and New Zealand marketplaces for the Apple App Store and Google play. The app requires an iPhone running iOS 7 or higher, or an Android phone running OS 4.0.3 or higher and is expected to roll out globally throughout the remainder of 2015 and into early 2016.

The Expedia PartnerCentral App is the latest innovation demonstrating Expedia’s ability to transform travel through technology. Expedia’s product team utilizes an unprecedented amount of data and insights to solve everyday problems on behalf of travelers and suppliers. Products are developed by applying data through a three-step framework: empathize, hypothesize, test and learn. The outcomes solve problems consumers and suppliers may not have even been aware of, resulting in user delight, increased engagement and time optimization.

Related Link: Expedia PartnerCentral on iTunes

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Google accelerates moves to become leading hotel-booking player

September 25, 2015

Through this program, consumers can book hotels in Google search while Google handles the payment through Google Wallet. Similar in some respects to TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking, the hotel or online travel agency then handles the confirmations and customer service, and therefore owns the customer.

Expedia is on record as saying it will consider participating in Book on Google even as it boycotts TripAdvisor Instant Booking. Expedia doesn’t like the relative lack of branding it would get in TripAdvisor Instant Booking and isn’t anxious to build up what could be a formidable hotel-booking challenger.

Google also is planning to add amenity information, such as the availability of Wi-Fi, free breakfast or a pool, to its hotel offerings in 24 countries.

Get the full story at Skift

Read also "Google Hotel Finder officially retired, Hotel Ads Commission Program now open for all hotels"

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How independent hoteliers tackle challenges

September 25, 2015

HNN: What emerging online distribution platforms or strategies are generating return on investment for you? Any that you’re avoiding?

Stein: “Dynamic rate marketing and social commerce are very interesting for us right now. DRM allows real-time hotel inventory availability and pricing to be inserted into various e-commerce initiatives, from display advertising to paid search and email marketing. Displaying real-time rates and availability to a highly qualified audience helps us drive more direct bookings.

“Also, while social media may drive just a small share of total online retail sales at the moment, its impact is becoming impossible to ignore. Social-driven sales and referral traffic are rising at a faster pace than all other online channels.

“I wouldn’t say there is any platform I would avoid altogether. Sometimes you have to wait until a platform matures or for consumers to catch up to technologies and capabilities. As an example, Amazon Travel, which went live on 1 January, focuses on hotels and offers short descriptions of activities near each property. The commission is about 20%, but the return is still minimal. It’s still new, so it is too early to tell how effective it will be.

“Many times, it’s about a hotel’s budget and the ability to test and compete. As always, we need to take into account the type of hotel, its business needs, guest demographics and the property’s location.”

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Lufthansa bookings dip since GDS fee, report says

September 25, 2015

It appears that the damage to LHG may be increasing as time goes on: In the first week of September, its Sabre bookings were down 12.9%; in the second week, they were down 19.2%.

Some of that business likely was diverted to LHG’s agent and consumer websites, which the group has touted as alternatives.

But agents have not been enthusiastic about the sites, which provide none of the travel management and back-office support they enjoy in the GDSs.

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

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How Airbnb plans to become a community-driven superbrand

September 25, 2015

When Airbnb hired Jonathan Mildenhall as CMO in early 2014, he was VP integrated marketing communication and design excellence for Coca-Cola North America, a role that would hitherto have been considered one of the best in marketing, perhaps the pinnacle of a career. He chose to move to Airbnb. The reasons he did so crystallize the fundamental shifts in marketing caused by the digital revolution.

The exponential growth of people traveling on Airbnb in the last 12 months seems to indicate that renting properties is becoming a norm. Though, of course it's more popular in some markets than others, the task of convincing people to change traveling behavior appears to be well under way.

In part, this success brings with it the next challenge for the company and in particular, Mildenhall, in that if you have 50 million guests but only 1.5 million property listings, you’re going to need more properties. "I’ve got to get more and more people to want to put their homes on Airbnb," Mildenhall says. "This is a much, much greater commitment, a much bigger leap of faith than traveling on Airbnb. So what I'm working on right now is the communication, the marketing, the explanation, the motivation to not just help people form the opinion that they’d be comfortable putting their homes on Airbnb, but also help everybody understand the values and the benefits of hosting."

Get the full story at Fast Company

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On mobile and the desktop, in Europe and North America, search is No. 1 - and gaining ground

September 25, 2015

Direct traffic share, on the other hand, has been shrinking, albeit at a snail’s pace, and will amount to 29.2% this year. Most other referral shares have remained largely the same. And looking across the pond to North America, the story is familiar: Once again, search has grown a small amount, up to 44.5% of total referral traffic in 2015. Direct has seen a very minor uptick as well.

Massive increases in search referral share for mobile site visits also correspond for both North America and Europe. From 2013 to 2015 search ad share has grown in North America from 24.4% to 42.9%, an increase of almost 20 percentage points. That growth comes almost entirely at the expense of direct traffic, which decreased from 51.2% in 2013 to 30.9% in 2015.

Meanwhile, search referrals have climbed to 47.2% in Europe, up from 27.4% in 2013. And, again, direct traffic has suffered almost all of the losses, plummeting from 52.5% in 2013 to 33.1% in 2015.

Get the full story at eMarketer

Read also "Moz releases 2015 search engine ranking factors"

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Don’t sleep on Google Penguin: Adopt a solid defensive SEO strategy

September 25, 2015

Hoteliers should exercise caution in their link acquisition strategies and adopt a policy of quality over quantity. In the pre-Penguin landscape, search engines rewarded the pursuit of large quantities of less-than-relevant links. Post-Penguin, hoteliers and digital marketers must be more selective about the inbound links they choose to pursue.

Google values websites that provide relevant information about in-demand topics and provide added value for Internet users. Conversely, search engines punish sites that chase after large numbers of links with little regard for quality or context. When budgeting for digital marketing efforts, hoteliers need to consider SEO efforts and link portfolio management as one and the same.

- Perform Link Audits + Disavow Links as Needed:d It’s crucial to know where your links are coming from, which of those links are beneficial, and which could be dragging your site’s SEO performance down. Enlisting a hotel digital marketing firm to assess your link profile can offer a snapshot of your site’s current status and ideas for “addition by subtraction” – disavowal of low-quality and potentially harmful inbound links.

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

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Webinar: How to turn OTA shoppers into direct bookers

September 25, 2015

With today's multi-billion dollar ad budgets of OTAs, it's difficult for hotels to compete in the digital landscape. Understanding consumer shopping behavior and profiles provides the opportunity for hotels to influence the right shoppers during the active buying process. Hotels can use this insight to maximize direct bookings and re-establish relationships with hotel customers.

Join nSight for a free webinar to understand how to increase direct bookings by targeting consumers shopping on the OTAs and how to prioritize marketing to maximize these opportunities.

Wednesday, October 7 at 1:00 – 1:30PM EDT

In this complimentary webinar, you'll learn how to:

- Apply insight on consumer shopping behavior to increase direct bookings
- Target consumers that shop your hotel on OTAs but don't shop your hotel website
- Leverage active shopper profiles to create relevant marketing content and increase conversion
- Track when and where you're gaining and losing share of consumers compared to OTAs
- Complimentary Benchmarking Report

Hotels will have the opportunity to receive a complimentary Hotel Online Traffic Report on how their hotel website "looks and books" compare to the OTAs. Details will be included in the webinar registration confirmation.

Click here to register for the webinar.

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Travel agents report record use of GDS

September 24, 2015

TravelClick, a global provider of innovative cloud-based solutions that enable hotels to grow revenue, and Phoenix Marketing International, a market research firm, recently concluded a study of more than 900 travel agents who are located throughout 48 countries, which revealed that travel agents are reporting a record use of Global Distribution Systems (GDS) to make hotel reservations. The 2015 Global Travel Agent GDS study surveyed travel agents worldwide who use Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport.
Advertising on the GDS opens doors for hoteliers

Over half of global travel agents who were surveyed (51 percent) reported that they are using the GDS more often compared to the past two years. Additionally, over a quarter (29 percent) of travel agents who were surveyed said that they are using GDS shopping displays more often compared to the past two years, and nearly two-thirds (65 percent) said that they are aware of the GDS promotional text messages.

Furthermore, among those who were aware of these promotional messages, nearly a quarter (24 percent) request additional information by viewing the screen that’s attached to the promotional message, and 29 percent look inside of the GDS system for this information. Sixty-nine percent of travel agents also reported that they will book a great hotel offer regardless of advertising screen type.

“Travel agents around the world are increasingly utilizing the GDS for hotel research and reservations,” said John Hach, senior industry analyst, TravelClick. “This study correlates with our business intelligence projections that 2015 will be a record year for GDS hotel bookings. The growth reinforces the importance for hoteliers to pay extra attention to the GDS, especially as it is one of the highest average daily rate channels for maximizing revenue per available room (RevPAR).”

Over half of agents stated that they book away from hotels that do not offer best rates within GDS

Rate parity – maintaining consistent rates for the same product on all online distribution channels – remains a vital issue for global travel agents, as they were virtually unanimous in their belief that GDS systems should offer rate parity (96 percent considered this somewhat or very important). Over half of agents stated that they actively book away from hotels that do not offer their best rates within the GDS, and if there is a better rate that’s outside of the GDS, a travel agent will book through that channel. Agents also universally reported that they actively work to save their corporate clients money, as 47 percent stated that they book best available rates over negotiated rates to save on hotel room costs.

“This year’s study is the most comprehensive to date, and travel agents were universal in their support for GDS rate parity and offering best available rate options to corporate travelers with negotiated rates,” added Hach.

The importance of value-added inclusions remains strong

Amenities are still driving global travel agent behavior, with complimentary breakfast and free Internet scoring the highest ratings. Among those surveyed who indicated that amenities and offers geared toward the traveler are appealing, the most appealing amenities include free breakfast meals (83 percent), special rates (77 percent), free Internet (72 percent), free upgrades (62 percent), free night stays (50 percent) and star / consumer review ratings (43 percent).

To learn more about the results of TravelClick’s GDS study, please register for one of the following complimentary webinars:

- 30 September 11:00 (11am EDT – New York)
- 30 September 22:00 (10pm EDT – New York)

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Travelport develops new desktop solution for Japanese agents

September 24, 2015

The partnership between AXESS and Travelport was first announced in April 2012 when Travelport was selected as a technology partner on account of its alignment in strategic thinking with AXESS. Since then, the two organizations have been working in close collaboration to assess the needs of the region's resurgent travel industry and have gone from strength to strength designing a new, enhanced Japanese GDS to meet the demands of Japanese travel agents and travelers.

The new AXESS desktop will be powered by Travelport Smartpoint, Travelport's award-winning point of sale technology. Travelport Smartpoint offers extensive air, hotel and car content as well as a broad range of user-friendly merchandising features all designed to enhance the customer selling experience. Specifically, Travelport has received a number of industry accolades over the past year for its pioneering air merchandising solutions, including Travelport Rich Content and Branding, which allows airlines to display and promote their entire product range, including their ancillary products and fare families, in exactly the same way as they do on their own websites. Travelport also offers an unrivalled B2B hotel inventory of over 650,000 hotel properties as well as a pioneering B2B payments solution offered through its payments partner, eNett. Once migrated onto the new desktop, AXESS CREA Advance-connected agents will immediately benefit from the additional content and technology.

In addition to delivering a new agency desktop, AXESS has also partnered with Travelport to launch a new business travel management solution, powered by Locomote technology, to meet the needs of the Japanese business traveller. Locomote is a smart technology platform that gives companies complete control and visibility of their corporate travel, making travel management easier and more efficient and giving Japanese companies access to the business travel management platform, on any device, anywhere in the world.

The overall AXESS GDS platform will continue to be hosted as part of Travelport's state-of-the-art technology infrastructure in its Atlanta (US) data center.

Seiji Soekawa, President and CEO for AXESS, said:
We are delighted to announce the delivery of our new AXESS desktop as well as our new corporate booking tool designed specifically for the Japanese business traveller. AXESS understands that the travel industry business is a dynamic one and continues to change, and, as part of our technology partnership with Travelport, we are well place to evolve our offering to Japanese agents, ensuring they have the very best content and tools to empower them to offer superior customer service.

It has always been our motto to be Japan's best GDS partner.

Mark Meehan, President and Managing Director for Travelport Asia Pacific, added:
"Launching a new agency desktop for AXESS with all of the benefits it offers Japan's travel trade, represents a great milestone in the technology partnership between AXESS and Travelport and opens the pathways for further opportunities in the future. Travelport prides itself in having the most balanced footprint globally. This partnership combines the best in international travel content with the most in-depth knowledge of the Japanese travel trade into one powerful platform. "

AXESS-connected travel agents will migrate to the new AXESS point of sale solution in a phased manner, following a period of customer testing and training, with completion scheduled for 2017. During this period, the AXESS and Travelport teams will be working hand in hand with travel agents to ensure a smooth transition with heightened training and customer service resources on the ground.

Related Link: AXESS

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Accor’s distribution gamble takes shape

September 24, 2015

AccorHotels is focusing its initial rollout in markets where it already has scale: Côte d’Azur and The Alps, France; London; Rome and Florence, Italy; Barcelona, Spain; as well as in Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

Other criteria for inclusion:

- Does the hotel have a 3.5-star TripAdvisor rating if it is an economy hotel, a 4-star rating if it is a midscale or upscale hotel and a 4.5-star rating if it is a luxury hotel?

- Does the hotel have sufficient rooms to make sense to add to the platform?

- Does it pass an inspection by AccorHotels itself?

“We need the rollout in places where we are already strong, so as to be even better. It would be a mistake to try and be everywhere in the world right from the beginning,” Romain Roulleau, the company’s senior VP of e-commerce and digital services said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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How to engage hotel guests and spur online bookings

September 24, 2015

“From a social standpoint, it really means creating content that inspires a reaction—whether it’s a retweet, comment or like, we want it to transact. We want a response. We want engagement,” said Shaun Coleman, area director of sales and marketing for the South Seas Island Resort, an Interstate Hotels & Resorts-managed resort in Captiva Island, Florida.

He does that through a variety of avenues: pay-per-click campaigns, behavioral prospecting, social media and more.

“We’re always testing new channels. Some just aren’t worthwhile at the time, but we realize at the time they’re not worthwhile and we’ll eliminate them from potential campaigning and spend moving forward,” Coleman said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Expedia releases an app exclusively for Samsung

September 24, 2015

Here are a few notable features you’ll only find on the “Expedia for Samsung” app:

Samsung Collection. Enjoy a curated travel-discovery experience, exclusive to Samsung consumers. The app’s distinctive launch screen allows you to discover new destinations, indulging your wanderlust.

Samsung Member Pricing. The “Expedia for Samsung” app features mobile-exclusive deals that help line your pockets with extra savings! As a Galaxy customer, you are guaranteed to receive the best hotel pricing available from Expedia.

User Support. We know the unexpected can happen while you’re traveling. That’s why the “Expedia for Samsung” app will have a dedicated customer support line to answer any questions you may have and provide peace of mind during your trip, no matter the day or time.

Get the full story at Expedia

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Study ranks world’s most popular luxury hotel brands for 2015

September 24, 2015

A new study by Luxury Branding, a London-based consultancy that specializes in the global luxury market, reveals a fresh and unexpected ranking of the most popular high-end hotels and resorts worldwide for 2015. Surprising highlights, based on independent analysis of 2.25 million travellers' reviews, include:

- The Ritz-Carlton, owned by hotel giant Marriott International, takes top honors by a substantial margin—particularly impressive given its large network of nearly 90 properties and nearly 40,000 employees worldwide

- "Traditional" luxury marks, including Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, Raffles Hotels & Resorts and Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, dominate the Top 10. These classic, high-end brands generally outrank less conservative luxury brands such as Firmdale, EDITION and Andaz. So-called luxury "lifestyle" brands, including Morgans Hotel Group and W Hotels Worldwide, fare considerably worse by missing out on the Top 50 entirely

- Some of the industry's most established and best-known names fail to make the Top 10, including Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts (#13), The Peninsula Hotels (#20), St. Regis (#26) and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts (#50)

- Luxury Branding's study is based on its independent analysis of more than 2.25 million public reviews on TripAdvisor, the world's largest travel feedback site with 375 million unique monthly visitors ranking more than 950,000 hotels and lodgings around the world. The study, which provides a "snapshot" of the entire body of reviews posted up to and including 14 August 2015, represents one of the largest luxury study samples ever analyzed in the hospitality industry. While TripAdvisor graciously allowed Luxury Branding to analyze its publicly available data, the study is not affiliated with, or endorsed by, TripAdvisor.

Social media and internet outlets continue to revolutionize the role of consumers in shaping brand perceptions, even at the higher end of the luxury spectrum. Piers Schmidt, Luxury Branding's founder, said:

"The luxury hotel sector, which traditionally has been ranked by industry organizations, travel operators and specialty publications, is becoming democratized by the advent of TripAdvisor and similar portals that allow consumers to act as vocal, real-time critics, champions and commentators."

Mr. Schmidt noted that despite a persistent industry perception that high-net-worth consumers "don't write reviews" or engage with social media, digitally native travelers rely both on their own experiences and those of friends and family in making brand decisions. Luxury brand operators that embrace the trend of peer-to-peer reviews and respond thoughtfully and consistently, rather than impulsively, can build greater brand loyalty and transparency among today's connected and ever more demanding luxury clients.

The Top 10

The World's Most Popular Luxury Hotel Brands, 2015 are:

1. The Ritz-Carlton
2. Oberoi Hotels & Resorts
3. Raffles Hotel & Resorts
4. Langham Hotels and Resorts
5. Rocco Forte Hotels
6. Dorchester Collection
7. Capella Hotels and Resorts
8. Park Hyatt
9. Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
10. Armani Hotels & Resorts

Related Link: Luxury Branding

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Getting to know your guests through progressive profiling

September 24, 2015

The problem is, today’s guests expect more from their hotel stays than they used to. According to a recent AgilOne survey, 70 percent of consumers expect more personalized services from brands. To deliver on this, hotels absolutely need this missing information on each guest.

There are a few different things you can do to complete your guest profiles and ensure that your hotel has accurate and complete information on each guest.

Online research: One way to get more complete information on each guest is to research your guests online, manually. Many hotels do this today. Provenance Hotels did this before they invested in a CRM/marketing automation solution. LinkedIn and Facebook are good places to start.

Run campaigns: Provide compelling reasons for your guests to engage with your communications. After they first book with you, you can send them a welcome email with content offerings that provide them with a strong call-to-action. If your guests take action on this first email by, for example, booking with the spa or clicking through to the adventure tour bookings portion of your site, you’ve already learned more about what they like and what they’re interested in.

Get the full story at Revinate

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5 steps for smarter hotel site navigation

September 24, 2015

Imagine walking into a hotel lobby which has no rhyme or reason behind its layout. There are no signs directing you to reception, bar or dining area. You have no idea if the door to your left is to a spa, the restaurant could be on a random, unmarked floor for all you can tell, and the rooms aren’t numbered.

You’d find that pretty frustrating, right?

Well, that’s how potential guests feel when visiting a hotel website with poor navigation.

Today’s post will show you how to avoid frustrating potential guests. You’ll learn how to streamline your hotel site navigation, which will significantly boost your engagement and conversions.

Get the full story at Net Affinity

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Google Hotel Finder officially retired, Hotel Ads Commission Program now open for all hotels

September 23, 2015

Over the past several months Google made improvements to hotel search across Google, to help travelers find information more quickly and to enable hotels to generate more qualified leads.

As a continuation of these efforts, the company is now announcing a few more changes to Hotel Ads on Google: broader availability for the Google Hotel Ads Commission program, an expansion of the Book on Google feature to more partners, and the inclusion of more amenity information within Google search.

With these changes, Google is retiring the dedicated site for Hotel Finder this week, as users are now able to access the hotel information they need right from Google search.

Get the full story at Google and Tnooz

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TripAdvisor and Google make the top three hotel search results even more precious

September 23, 2015

The trend may make the bidding war for placement in those top results even more important - and expensive - than before.

TripAdvisor has been testing a new user interface that casts a spotlight on the top three results. When a user searches for a hotel, he or she is prompted to choose from only three options, one of which is the company’s own Book with TripAdvisor channel.

Google is doing more to prompt users to book hotels directly from its search results. It is adding amenities information to many US listings, and it’s making booking within the Google interface (without having to leave to another site) common across desktop, mobile, and tablet devices.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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CWT Meetings & Events Forecast 2016 predicts positive growth ahead

September 23, 2015

CWT Meetings & Events, the award-winning meetings and events agency, has released its 2016 Meetings and Events Forecast (“Forecast”). It predicts positive growth for the industry in the coming 12 months.

The fourth annual edition of Forecast provides event planners with comprehensive regional data, including average attendee cost per day and average group size, so they can plan and budget for the coming year.

David Moran, executive vice president, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, said: “Our Forecast is about providing clients with valuable insight for the coming year, so they armed with the most relevant information for their upcoming budgeting and negotiations. Whether they are focused on meetings, events or the widespread global adoption of Strategic Meetings Management, it’s a vital tool in preparing for the year ahead.”

Key findings from different regions around the world include:

- The unpredictable economy in Asia Pacific could cause challenges in the region, although stronger demand from China and India could drive up group size and prices.

- High demand for meetings and events venues in North America is exceeding supply, resulting in a sellers’ market. Careful planning is therefore very important;

- Meanwhile, in Europe, buyers are gaining greater negotiating power as the region sees slow but steady growth;

- Pockets of high demand will be created around the Rio 2016 Olympics; and Paralympic Games next summer, resulting in a potential shortage of meeting space.

This year’s report also offers a range of practical tips for those planning meetings and events in 2016. Tips include:

- Plan ahead – be aware that some hotels in high-demand markets no longer hold space when responding to availability requests. Make internal decision makers aware, and decide if you can be flexible on dates.

- Fuel your budget as well as your attendees - food and beverage (F&B) continues to be a significant driver of per-attendee costs. Adjust F&B patterns to manage budgets while promoting the healthy alternatives that remain very popular with attendees.

- Tick tock - lead time for registration and venue contracts continues to shrink. However, by increasing the lead time for larger events, event and meeting planners can increase their negotiation power.

Download the report at CWT Meetings & Events (PDF 1.3 MB)

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Hampton by Hilton targets weekend adventurers with mobile social campaign

September 23, 2015

Prompted by a survey conducted by Hilton, the hotel brand has coined the term Seekender, which refers to those who value travel and take the weekend to cross of destination and adventures on their bucket list. The hotel chain is cognizant of a shift in consumer behavior and is playing into this with the new Seekender campaign, in which fans post their images that encompass adventure to win a weekend getaway.

"Incentives, imagery and social, are all key elements to be included in a marketing program for engaging digital centric people, these elements leverage our increasing desire to share and participate, be rewarded and be recognized," said Michael Becker, co-founder and managing partner, mCordis, Sunnyvale, CA. "What really excite’s me about Hilton’s Hampton’s campaign, however, is not its use of these digital-social-mobile tactics, these are table-stakes today, but the fact that the program is built around the customer journey, a specific persona, the Seekender.

"Hilton’s Hampton team did their homework, they understand what motivates their target customer and built their program with the customer’s motivations at the center of the program, not the brand’s," he said. "The program helps people express themselves, fulfill their desires, by sharing their adventure, be it food, travel, or whatever experience excites them.

Get the full story at the Mobile Marketer

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Four Seasons takes its guests back to school with event planning initiative

September 23, 2015

The classes will strengthen the bond between consumers and the hospitality brand, and although they are designed to help guests when they return home, Four Seasons is showing that it can provide much more than a nice place to sleep for travelers, encouraging repeat business.

Classes are unique to each location, but for those who cannot necessarily make it to the destination with their favorite class, Four Seasons has also launched a microsite that contains recipes, interviews, general tips and answers to questions such as “How do you pair wine and chocolate?”

Events will take place in Four Seasons’ designated event spaces, which are described at length on the microsite and discussed in the interviews it contains. The event space combined with culinary classes led by field experts will show that the hotel is a capable space for those looking to host large events in the future.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Gmail adds new ‘block’ button to eliminate annoying senders

September 23, 2015

It will now be a two-click process that’s filed under the arrow button in the email body next to the reply button. The new feature, which was announced on Gmail’s blog, is gradually rolling out to Web and Android users.

Google also announced its expanding its one-click “Unsubscribe” button on commercial email lists to Android users. The button debuted last year to the nervousness of retailers who depend on mass newsletters to retain customers.

Get the full story at the Official Gmail Blog

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The truth about hotel rate parity, according to Wego

September 23, 2015

“Finding the right hotel and getting a good room rate can be a struggle even for the most seasoned traveller,” said Craig Hewett, Wego co-founder. “I was once chatting to fellow travellers while holidaying with family in Thailand who were boasting about the great rate they’d been able to secure at the hotel. They were rather taken aback when I told them I’d secured the same room for US$50 per night less than what they’d paid.”

“Online rate parity, especially in Asia, is a myth,” he added. “There’s a misconception that flights are the big ticket item in a travel itinerary, yet by far the largest costs are attributed to hotels and food and beverage. I was able to save US$350 in total on my Thai accommodation, which equates to another airfare or room service each night.”

“Close to 70 per cent of all hotels in Asia are independent and run as small businesses devoid of the pricing sophistication enjoyed by global hotel chains,” he explained. “In many cases they don’t have efficient online booking systems to power their websites, nor the resources to manage fluctuating pricing, but instead need to focus on the huge task of managing hotel operations.”

The result is that third party websites (online travel agents - OTAs) are contracted to help manage and extend their reach online.

Get the full story at Travel Daily News

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STR: US hotel performance for August 2015

September 23, 2015

Performance results for the month were skewed by a later Labor Day weekend, according to Jan Freitag, STR’s senior VP for lodging insights. “Labor Day weekend not only fell in an earlier week last year, it actually fell in the previous month,” Freitag said.

Despite the decrease in occupancy, RevPAR in the U.S. has now increased year-over-year for 66 consecutive months.

“Room demand declined for the first time in 69 months—it had been growing since October 2009,” Freitag said. “Well, ‘decline’ is sort of a harsh word; a 0.3% demand drop is basically flat performance. In August, the industry lost some 306,000 rooms compared to last year. That said, total demand was still just below 110 million roomnights which, by the way, is the fourth best room demand month ever.”

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Luxury hotels still have room to improve on guided online selling

September 22, 2015

L2’s “Insight Report: Luxury Hotels Guided Selling” compiles the results of a study showing the investments hotels have made in guided selling tactics in 2015 compared to the prior year. Although there have been improvements, many expected features are still lacking from a surprisingly large percentage of brands.

Filters and sorting options that allow consumers to search rooms by criteria, interactive features such as guided tours and room comparisons and user content are examples of guided selling that could make the booking process easier.

Flexible date calendars, which allow users to adjust check-in and check-out dates quickly and easily after selecting a property, are only provided by half of the brands that were studied, and most did not overlay prices on top of dates, meaning users would have to select the date and wait for the new date to load to compare prices.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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How travel brands can embrace user-generated content

September 22, 2015

This kind of marketing, which involves social media and audience participation, is called user-generated content marketing, and it’s one of the most powerful tools available to your company these days. The best way to show how great your product is to show off the ways in which real people are using it, wearing it, eating it, drinking it — or just plain enjoying it. 83% of people look to social networking, video or photo sites for travel inspiration, while 92% of consumers around the world trust word of mouth over any other form of advertising. 70% of consumers around the world report that online consumer reviews are their second most trusted form of advertising.

Highlighting the customers who use and live your brand will make others excited about doing the same. So how can you incorporate more user-generated content in your strategy this summer? Here are some key ways that you can contribute to stellar branding and develop brand loyalty.

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Travel brands top email open and click-through-rates

September 22, 2015

Travel agencies and services also have a much higher CTR than the retail and e-commerce vertical.

Loren McDonald, vice president of industry relations at Silverpop, thinks the strong performance of the travel industry can be ascribed to three factors: curiosity, exploration and obsession.

"When people are curious and want to explore more, they are more likely to open and further click through received emails," McDonald explains. "Travel is about discovery. When you sign up for an email from either a resort or a cruise line, you are showing your interest. And many travel emails like those I got from Delta offer discounted deals that encourage you to travel more."

He continues that the retail and e-commerce vertical missed the mark because they still rely on traditional batch-and-blast methods, which lack the personalization that today's consumers demand.

Get the full story at ClickZ

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Europeans lose hesitancy towards mobile bookings

September 22, 2015

According to a new Phocuswright report, mobile has made an enormous impact on travel distribution in France, Germany and the U.K.

Mobile adoption is over. Smartphone ownership among leisure travelers in Europe's largest travel markets is closing in on 90%, while tablet users continue to multiply.

But while adoption might be in its final stages, technology giants continue to press forward with mobile. Operating systems are becoming more powerful, and wearables are finally looking like something consumers might want to try.

Get the full story at Phocuswright

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Business travelers slower to Adopt Uber, Airbnb

September 22, 2015

Rides booked through such apps as Uber and Lyft often can cost less and be more convenient than corporate car services and limousine companies, so why has the corporate world been slow to adopt these technologies? Uber serves 150 different cities and Airbnb's network of private residences spans over 34,000 cities across 190 countries--chances are that your employees can use these sharing-economy apps while traveling.

On Call International, which surveyed 1,000 people over the summer, says the perception of safety and legitimacy might be deterring some business travelers--only 7 percent of business travelers report feeling safer using Uber than a taxi and only 2 percent said they feel safer when booking a room through Airbnb than a hotel room.

But a bigger factor driving business travel habits is company policies. Most respondents (92 percent) say their employers haven't talked about protocol or guidelines for these services. And 73 percent report that employers have never talked about using them for work.

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New Google app delivers mini-marketing lessons

September 22, 2015

Explains Google, the goal with Google Primer is to help marketers, whether small business owners or those working inside a larger company, keep up with the tools and skills that help them do their jobs.

The app makes this easier by offering “bite-sized” lessons that can be viewed while offline, so you can learn while on the go – like waiting in line for coffee, on the plane, on the train to work, and elsewhere.

Google Primer users will be able to store their progress in their profile, plus saved content or share with others who may find it useful.

Get the full story at TechCrunch and download the app at Google Primer

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SiteMinder appoints Global Head Of Sales to drive expansion into new hotel markets

September 22, 2015

"We are thrilled to welcome Kevin O'Rourke to the SiteMinder family. Kevin brings a strong track record of enhancing the sales functions of large, dynamic organisations, as well as a passion for the industry in which we operate," says Mike Ford, co-founder and managing director at SiteMinder.

"Kevin's knowledge of the travel industry will be an asset to our current and future customers as they navigate through the increasingly-complex challenge of selling and marketing their rooms on the web, and the various revenue opportunities that ultimately brings. We look forward to seeing continued success within our existing markets – and, indeed, exploring other markets globally where our technology can help local hotels – under his leadership."

Kevin O'Rourke offers more than 15 years' professional experience gained at JDS Uniphase, EMC Corporation and, most recently, at hotel RFP management solutions provider Lanyon where he oversaw the company's sales strategy and operations as well as the training and deployment of its global sales force.

Speaking on his decision to join SiteMinder, Mr O'Rourke says: "With the emergence of new technologies, we are seeing a revolution in the way consumers travel. People today are travelling more than ever before, and with fewer barriers, proving that technology is a vital link between consumers and our industry, especially our hoteliers who can reach guests from anywhere in the world and at any time.

"I believe this is the value that SiteMinder's smart and simple technology offers to hotels – to gain mass visibility to consumers all over the world, at an accessible cost – and I am excited to be a part of an organisation that truly believes in the power of this disruption."

SiteMinder today has more than 19,000 hotel customers and 350 of the industry's top connectivity providers as partners, to cement its presence in more than 160 countries on six continents.

Related Link: SiteMinder

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HeBS Digital continues its 2015 winning streak with five Travel Weekly Magellan Awards

September 22, 2015

HeBS Digital earned the following awards:

Gold Magellan Award Winner in the Hospitality Website category:

The Chanler at Cliff Walk website
- Elite Web Design, Complete Merchandising Module, Professional Copy+SEO, powered by HeBS Digital’s smartCMS content management system technology.

Gold Magellan Award Winner in the Hospitality Web Marketing/Advertising category:   

Triumph Hotels – “A Year of Triumph” anniversary campaign
- Powered by HeBS Digital’s Interactive Marketing Application (Limited Time Offer), this multi-channel marketing campaign resulted in 6,575% return on ad spend.

Silver Magellan Award Winner in the Hospitality Website category:
The Renwick Hotel website
Nickelodeon Suites Resort website
The Colonnade Hotel website

All of the winning websites were built using HeBS Digital’s award-winning content management system technology, the smartCMS. Empowering these properties to have complete control over their textual, visual and promotional content, the smartCMS also features responsive/adaptive design for the three screens, an innovative smart personalization engine and one-to-one-marketing capabilities, reservation abandonment prevention technologies, and enhanced merchandising functionality to highlight promotional offers and packages throughout the site.

“Receiving these premier awards in the travel industry is a testament to our mission of delivering expertly designed websites backed by revenue-driving smartCMS technology, and complemented by a robust multi-channel marketing strategy,” said Max Starkov, President & CEO of HeBS Digital. “We are grateful for the strong partnerships we have with our clients, which make these awards possible.”

For more information about HeBS Digital’s award-winning CMS technology, website design packages and direct online channel optimization consulting and full-service digital marketing services, please visit the company website,

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A boutique hotelier explains what’s wrong with the state of online booking

September 21, 2015

Skift has been engaged in a running dialogue in recent weeks with one such hotelier about travel industry developments. Referring to online travel agency distribution partners running roughshod over rate agreements, the hotelier, who declined to be identified, says, “We have no control over parity since it is like the Wild West out there with online travel agencies charging whatever they like with no regard for the rate we set for our own hotel.”

In the scheme of things, hoteliers contract with online travel agencies to sell their rooms at set rates and at an established commission. In the first quarter of 2015, however, an Expedia official admitted that the company was reducing its margins at certain times when selling rooms and presumably lowering rates to build loyalty programs and share.

“Whenever you call Expedia to complain about the (discounting) practice, they claim to know nothing about it, and it must be one of their rogue affiliates,” the hotelier told Skift. “They would never do something like that to us, and they will contact them and try to help you shut that discount code down.”

Get the full story at Skift

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Emergence of Google and TripAdvisor booking paves way for Orbitz takeover

September 21, 2015

The prospect of massive online travel consolidation has been triggered after Expedia won approval from US competition authorities to take over rival Orbitz for $1.3 billion.

The US Justice Department said a six-month investigation had found no evidence that the merger would lessen options for consumers.

It noted that Orbitz is a relatively small source of bookings for airlines, car rental companies and hotels.

Get the full story at Travolution

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HRG: More corporates traveling for business

September 21, 2015

The survey also shows that for the twelfth year running Moscow remains the most expensive city for business travel, with a 6.07% increase (GBP) in ARR compared to last year. The findings from the latest HRG Interim Hotel Survey also reported that 31 of the top cities experienced an increase in ARR with only 15 cities falling and five remaining static.

Key findings

- With 12 years in the top spot, Moscow has benefitted from a modest growth in GBP translating into a huge growth locally, due to extreme movements in the exchange rate

- Mega cities continue to dominate; cities within a region continue to see a large disparity in terms of ARR movement, showing once again that regional performance is diminishing compared to mega city performance

- This is again witnessed by the regional charts from the survey with only the Americas showing ARR growth (9.89%). MEWA has seen a dramatic decrease with ARR down by 19.47%. This is caused not only by the ongoing mega city trend but also by more supply in key cities together with a stalling of key feeder markets such as Russia

- The full effects of the slowdown in the oil industry can be witnessed in both Aberdeen and Houston. For the first time in many years hotels in both cities are having to significantly discount room rates to maintain demand

- Convention business continues to have a positive impact on ARR, with Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Frankfurt and San Francisco all posting increases in ARR as a result

- Both Chennai and Tokyo have enjoyed an increase in corporate demand resulting in rises of 20.9% and 7% respectively

- Oversupply remains an issue on ARR in Abu Dhabi, Dubai (although to a lesser degree as the city is readying itself for Expo 2020) and Rome

- Geneva has dropped one place from third to fourth due in part to the removal of the Swiss Franc cap. This is making travel more expensive and so demand is slowing. Corporates are down trading into mid market hotels

- Mumbai – India’s financial and entertainment capital – has seen an increase in corporate demand, resulting in a modest increase in ARR. With India forecast to overtake China this year in terms of economic growth, Mumbai along with India’s key cities will be ones to watch this year and next

- Influencers on changes in ARR continue to include oversupply, exchange rate movements, economic and political sanctions

The HRG View: Margaret Bowler, Director Global Hotel Relations:

“Our interim hotel survey is a real barometer for economic growth. We have booked more hotel room nights than last year, illustrating an increase in the number of corporates travelling to do business. It’s been an interesting half year for the hotel business.”

“Markets globally are becoming even more fragmented and accommodating not only the ongoing stature of the mega city in the face of the diminishing importance of the region, but also different city trends within the same city. This in-city fragmentation is well illustrated if we look at New York. The Times Square area is seeing a lot of new bed stock which has resulted in a stagnation of ARR whereas in other parts of the city, we continue to see ARR rising. Clearly this can benefit the corporate client who has flexibility to enable their travellers to book in these city areas and benefit from the lower room rates.”

“Flexibility is going to remain a key differentiator for hotel programmes moving forward. Not only in terms of being able to benefit from in-city fragmentation as detailed previously but also in terms of the increase in new bed stock in defined tiers - budget/mid-market limited service, mid-market full service etc. This gives the client greater, wider and deeper choice. With new brands and concepts appearing almost daily, we are seeing many legacy hotel chains fighting for the traditional mid-market.”

“The flexible and canny client can really maximise the results of the interim hotel survey to realise even greater savings on their hotel programmes.”

Download the report at HRG (PDF 1.3 MB)

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U.S. travel demand for Europe expected to continue into 2016

September 21, 2015

“It looks like this will be a record peak season for U.S. travel to Europe,” said Neil Martin, of Donald N. Martin & Company, which represents the ETC in the United States. “The momentum should continue into this fall, in part because air fares are going down,” with prices on some routes like New York-London down nearly 20% from the same period in 2014.

While air fares rose earlier this year, with peak season fares of nearly $2,000 roundtrip in some markets, “the fares are a relatively small part of the picture,” Martin said. Lodging, meals, and other costs are more attractive, and “when it comes to hotels you have a lot more choices now,” with new types of accommodations like apartment rentals added to the mix.

Agents specializing in European itineraries also saw their business flourish this year.

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

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