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Former Expedia president downplays Google’s travel move

November 27, 2014

Breakwell, one of the original founding team at Expedia, gave the keynote address at this week’s eighth Travolution Summit on Monday.

He said with Google costs rising at 20% to 25%, it is now very difficult for firms to compete with the “super-scale” OTAs like Expedia and parent Priceline Group alone has an annual marketing budget £3.2 billion, claimed Breakwell. “Competing against that requires different approaches,” he added.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Hotels no longer strategic focus for Webjet and Zuji

November 27, 2014

Mr Gusicic also adopted the same rhetoric for Asian OTA Zuji, which Webjet bought last year. "Hotels are no longer a strategic focus given the intense competition in that segment," he said.

He said Zuji's turnover is growing in the Australian and Singapore markets but its Hong Kong business is struggling.

"Hong Kong is experiencing a difficult market environment," he said. "Total Turnover Value is expected to be down (with) increased competition hurting margins".

Since buying Zuji last March, Webjet has sacked 40% of staff, reduced operating costs by 30%, moved Zuji to the Webjet IT platform and cut "200+" unprofitable revenue streams.

Get the full story at Travel Trends

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Australia: Expedia records 80% rise in bookings from Asia

November 27, 2014

David Hamblin, senior director of Market Management for Australia, said the Q3 data provided valuable insights for Australian operators looking to drive more business from Asian markets.

Key findings from the Expedia Q3 travel demand data include:

Malaysia – the fastest growing Asian market
Trends identified during Q3 indicated Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea were the top Asian demand markets for Australia, but the strongest growth in demand came from Malaysia. Expedia experienced triple-digit growth from Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea and China in Q3. Malaysian travellers also stayed the longest – at around three days on average compared with Australian travellers who stayed just two days.

Melbourne and Perth proving popular
Sydney, Melbourne and Perth were the top Australian destinations for travellers from Asia, with Melbourne and Perth both experiencing triple-digit growth in Q3.

Japanese most organised, Indonesians paid the most for their room
When looking at the booking window across the different nationalities, Japanese travellers were the most organised, booking on average 39 days ahead of their stay. Singaporeans booked 36 days ahead and Australian travellers booked 12 days later than their counterparts from Asia at only three weeks ahead of their stay date. Indonesian travellers spent $20 more per night on their hotel room than their Australian counterparts – $202 vs $180 per night respectively. Singaporean and Chinese travellers paid $179 and $178 per night respectively.

Get the full story at Hotel Management

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Luxury hotels declare specialisation and segmentation as the new watchwords

November 27, 2014

Specialisation and segmentation are key future trends for Asia's luxury hospitality design industry, according to the regular roundtable series hosted and organised by BLINK Design Group. The group of experts, representing some of the most prestigious names in the hospitality industry and covering operators and owners, gathered recently in Hong Kong at the Yah Toh Heen restaurant in the InterContinental Hong Kong on the fringes of the annual HICAP event.

In a session titled, What's The Big Idea, moderated by C9 Hotelworks Managing Director Bill Barnett, hospitality luminaries were charged with bringing their experience to bear with the objective of defining what is next for luxury hospitality design.

"The industry is changing in many ways. The axis is shifting from Europe becoming more influential towards Asia rather than the other way around, and more than anything else this is bringing with it specialisation," said BLINK Design Group Founder and Senior Creative Director Clint Nagata.

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

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Meet Airbnb’s hospitality guru

November 27, 2014

If Chip Conley misses anything about staying at hotels, it’s room service. Waiters delivering pasta dinners to guest rooms is a dying convenience because hotels lose money doing so. “Guests who use room service love it, but its future is not looking good,” Conley says.

In April, Conley, a hotel industry veteran, traded “institutionalized” amenities like room service for apartment rental website Airbnb. His job is to make sure Airbnb users are happy whether they rent someone’s college crash pad, a cozy condo or a seaside mansion in Hawaii.

Conley’s hiring is intended to enhance Airbnb’s appeal at a time when it is trying to become a full-fledged hospitality business. To get to the next level, the company has to ensure a certain level of comfort - or at least set realistic expectations - for guests and hosts.

Conley and his hospitality team in San Francisco and Ireland must keep close tabs on Airbnb’s 800,000 hosts, who range from people who rent out extra rooms in their homes to mini real estate moguls who list a number of apartments. Hosts are supposed to stick to nine standards including accuracy of their online listings and keeping homes tidy.

Get the full story at Fortune

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2014’s best Black Friday, Cyber Monday hotel deals

November 27, 2014

St Kitts Marriott & the Royal Beach Casino: Trade the winter chill for the sunny Caribbean. Stay at this hotel at any point between January 3 and September 15 for a minimum of three nights and you can get 50% off leisure rates, which start at just $93 a night. Book online on December 1 only at

The Marker Waterfront Resort in Key West: If you're up for a hustle, this hotel's 20th anniversary deal is worth it. For 20 hours starting at 9 a.m. ET on December 1, the hotel will offer 20 rooms for $20.00. After those 20 are sold, the hotel will offer a rate of $200. As part of the celebration, guests will also be able to experience some unique activities gratis during their stay, such as chair massages from Key West Yoga Sanctuary or tastings with the Key West Legal Rum Distillery. You can book online at, but the $20 rooms must be booked via call center only: 844-229-8312.

Palazzo Victoria, Verona, Italy: Has Italy always been on your bucket list? Stay at any point between January 3 to May 31 in the city that inspired Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet for just $80 per night/per person. There's a three-night minimum, but breakfast is included in your stay. Book online on December 1 at with promo code DPRSCCYBMON.

Get the full story at USA Today

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Finland’s Kamp Group partners with IDeaS to drive revenue performance

November 27, 2014

IDeaS Revenue Solutions, the leading provider of pricing and revenue management software, services and consulting today announced that Kamp Group, which includes Hotel Klaus K will be implementing IDeaS Revenue Management System (RMS) across five of their properties, driving revenue performance for more than 700 rooms.

Following a full review of hotel revenue management systems, Kamp Group selected IDeaS RMS for its leading functionality and broad set of features. Elena Heiska, Director of Revenue Management, at Kamp Group, explains,"To support our overall group strategy we needed to take the next step in our revenue management journey, which meant harnessing leading technology that would suit our needs now and into the future. IDeaS clearly demonstrated to us that they have the leading technology to provide robust forecasts, giving us confidence in making the right pricing decisions. With IDeaS RMS my small team of revenue managers can now be more effective; being more strategic whilst the system automates the optimal pricing decisions. Whilst at an estate level I can monitor and drive performance through both hotel and consolidated estate views."

"We're pleased to be working with the Kamp Group, helping the company integrate their passion for hospitality with a world-class Revenue Management System to create the leading Nordic luxury and lifestyle hotel company," said Fabian Specht, EMEA managing director for IDeaS. "By deploying IDeaS RMS in their hotels, our partnership will provide Kamp Group with the best possible tools to achieve their revenue management goals."

Related Link: IDeaS

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Availpro helps hotels go mobile by partnering with HotelTonight

November 27, 2014

Based on the latest market forecasts, more and more mobile hotel research and booking will occur on smartphones in 2015. Partnering with HotelTonight enables hotels to make real-time ARI (Availability, Rates & Inventory) updates and receive bookings generated via HotelTonight application through Availpro Smart Channel Manager directly into their property management systems.

The seamless integration allows more than 4,500 hotels using Availpro Smart Channel Manager to be one of the very few in the world to have 2 ways direct access to the most popular last-minute booking channel HotelTonight.

"Needless to say that majority of last minute hotel bookings will be made on mobile platforms in 2015. This 2 ways connection with HotelTonight is exceptionally exciting for our hotel clients, as they can now easily set-up a mobile strategy for their property. It is a great opportunity to increase their visibility and sell their inventory in the best conditions. This partnership underscores our commitment to deliver innovative booking channels and develop a balanced and relevant distribution mix." Eric Peyrard, COO, Availpro.

HotelTonight will be able to gain access to a broader hotel pool and to more inventory for each hotel, improve booking conversion and increase revenues as part of its growth plans across Europe.

"We are incredibly pleased to add AvailPro to the list of channel managers we are now connected to. Through AvailPro’s strong network of customers in Europe, particularly in France, we will be able to work even more closely with our existing partners while also gaining additional exposure to new hotels and extending our offering even further." Jared Simon, COO, HotelTonight.

Related Link: AvailPro

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Five mobile strategies for hotels demystified

November 26, 2014

By 2015, mobile is expected to generate 22 percent of online bookings, up from 11 percent in 2013 according to PhoCusWright's Global Online Travel Overview. As this trend continues, it becomes even more essential to ensure hoteliers are focused on the right mobile strategy to maximize growth by prioritizing between varied strategies that may include mobile promotions, responsive design, click-to-call, rate parity and social media. To help define the mobile growth tactic that is right for a specific property, Marc Liebman, vice president of reservations at TravelClick offers insights into the truths and fallacies behind the latest mobile strategies.

Launching last minute promotions will help sell unsold inventory. FALSE
Same-day reservations grew from nine percent to 23 percent between 2011 and 2013 according to TravelClick's iHotelier Booking Engine data, 2011-2013. Most hoteliers would think in order to sell perishable inventory, they should utilize last minute promotions. However, what is most often forgotten is that the mobile channel is inherently a last-minute distribution channel that capitalizes on consumer’s confidence to book on-the-go. Discounting a hotel’s rate unnecessarily erodes average daily rate because mobile bookings would have likely happened without the discount. On this high demand channel, it is best practice to maintain price parity at all times and effectively market a hotel’s true last-minute best available rates as a way to maximize profit.

Every hotel should invest in a branded mobile application. FALSE
Consumers are increasingly comfortable making mobile reservations which has led to a surge of mobile applications. It’s easy to get caught up in all the hype, but execute with caution. Most hotels, especially independent and small-medium chains, cannot compete in this space without having the resources to drive demand, the budget to build and maintain the application, and the programs to drive repeat usage. Prioritize on enhancing a hotel’s branded mobile site while investing in marketing initiatives that drive demand to the property’s direct web channel.

Mobile marketing is an important component of a sound digital marketing strategy. TRUE
There are many facets of mobile marketing that make it an important tool in an hotelier’s digital marketing arsenal. A general rule of thumb is that hotels should be spending at least 15 percent of their marketing budget on mobile marketing initiatives. This includes a mobile website and booking engine, search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing, display advertising, mobile content and analytics.

Get the full story at TravelClick

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Priceline on becoming a hotel tech provider

November 26, 2014

Priceline has been kicking it up into another gear over the past year, locking in acquisitions of OpenTable, Buuteeq, and HotelNinjas in a bid to improve the ultimate traveler experience. The company appears to be entering a new phase of growth, moving from simply connecting the world’s hotels to stepping into personalization and end-to-end customer experience management.

It’s no longer sufficient to just serve inventory; the company sees its role more as a place that not only helps hospitality businesses access customers but also provide the tools to deliver the most memorable experiences possible. This then reinforces the Priceline brand, driving customer satisfaction and ultimately loyalty – a virtuous cycle that is not only profitable but ensures a consistent competitive advantage.

It also differentiates the Priceline experience – for example, say a hotel stay booked on Priceline and supported by Buuteeq is then personalized with specific details for that guest. This makes the Priceline experience different from another OTA, and thus creates that demarcation in a consumer’s brain and further enhances the value proposition.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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Expedia’s CEO welcomes Amazon’s rumored entry into the online travel business

November 26, 2014

"It’s a big business, it's a trillion-dollar global industry, it's a really attractive industry, it's always been competitive," Khosrowshahi said. "So, we welcome Amazon to the party, so to speak. It;s a business that has been growing really really well, so it's no wonder that other companies are looking at."

When asked about whether Expedia can put a barrier on Amazon’s entry, Khosrowshahi said, "I don’t think that there is any absolute lock-up factor because this is a too big a business, but we do have over 300,000 hotels now in our system on a global basis. It's going to take a lot of catching up to do for any player out there to get to the size and scale that we have on a global basis. So, we're really confident of our prospects going forward."

Watch the video on CNBC

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Roomer grabs $5M to help you sell your nonrefundable hotel reservations

November 26, 2014

As described on Roomer’s website, booking a room through the service is just the same as booking through any other travel service, and it usually costs less. To sell your non-refundable reservation, simply submit a listing to the site and wait for someone to purchase it. When a buyer does so, Roomer contacts the hotel to transfer the booking to their name and then sends you the money through PayPal, Western Union, or wire transfer. Roomer takes a 15 percent cut of each transaction.

Roomer is also planning on opening up its marketplace to meeting and convention spaces from event planning professionals, as well as to high-value inventory from hotels where appropriate.

The idea isn’t entirely new. Cancelon and Hall St., for example, are also enabling travelers to sell their reservations. There are also concerns about whether hotels will accept a transferred reservation, although Roomer seems to be working to prevent that by reaching out to the hotel itself to make the transfer and ensure everything goes smoothly.

Get the full story at VentureBeat

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HRG sees rise in online bookings

November 26, 2014

Underlying half-year pre-tax profits at Hogg Robinson Group slumped by 29% to £11.3 million.

The decline came as revenue declined by 4% to £162.3 million in the six months to September 30.

The group plans restructuring action to improve long-term competitiveness and to enable it to “benefit from the opportunities and changes taking place in our industry”.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

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Hotel offers free stays, discounts based on Facebook Likes and Friends

November 26, 2014

If you have more than 2,000 friends on Facebook, then you can stay in one of Europe's coolest hotels for free.

The luxury Nordic Light Hotel in Stockholm is now accepting large social network presence as a form of currency, and will allow people with over 2,000 friends on Facebook to stay in a room for up to seven nights - completely free of charge.

The Swedish hotel charges up to £230 a night for its trendy rooms, but not if you're bit of a baller on social media. The company will also dish out free rooms to anyone with over 100,000 followers on Instagram, or 100,000 likes on a public Facebook page.

Get the full story at the Mirror

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TravelClick expands relationship with Hotel Villa Magna to create award-winning website

November 26, 2014

TravelClick, a global provider of innovative cloud-based solutions that enable hotels to grow revenue, announced its expanded relationship with Hotel Villa Magna, a premiere luxury hotel located in the heart of Madrid, Spain. The hotel which features 150 deluxe rooms and suites that combine classic style and contemporary amenities, recently underwent extensive renovations to position itself as the most exclusive five-star hotel in Madrid.

To capitalize on the growth of online bookings and the importance of the web for both search and marketing, Hotel Villa Magna turned to TravelClick, its long-time partner, to build a new web presence that provides travelers a more engaging, dynamic booking experience and one that would reinforce the hotel’s luxury brand. Once launched, Hotel Villa Magna immediately saw an uptick in business, with a 36 percent increase in online bookings, 64 percent increase in web traffic and a 61 percent upswing in booking revenue over a period of 9 months. Additionally, the site’s features and design won multiple awards for excellence throughout the year from the following:

- Interactive Media Awards
- Web Marketing Association’s WebAwards
- W3 Awards
- The Travel Weekly Magellan Awards
- Davey Awards

TravelClick’s industry leading web developers work closely with hoteliers to build responsive design websites that enable them to grow revenue, improve conversion rates, increase brand awareness, better showcase the property, create direct calls to action and improve the overall customer experience.

“TravelClick’s responsive design allowed us to improve our website’s functionality and therefore boost direct web bookings and increase revenue. It is rewarding to know our customers are having a better online experience with Villa Magna,” said Fiorella Simoes, Director of Sales and Marketing of Hotel Villa Magna.

Beyond a site redesign for Hotel Villa Magna, TravelClick provided strategic support in crafting an e-commerce strategy and action plan which included SEO and social media optimization to help the hotel generate additional exposure and visibility of rates and packages for a higher average daily rate (ADR).

“The online channel has become one of the primary booking channels for consumers and it is vitally important for hotels to have websites which are easy to navigate, fast loading and expose visitors to special deals and rates to increase conversions,” said Jan Tissera, President, TravelClick International. “Our web developers help hotels seize the online channel. Our work with Hotel Villa Magna is a great example of how a revamped web experience and digital marketing program that utilizes best practices can translate into direct revenue opportunities.”

Related Link: TravelClick

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Content marketing, mobile and other important hotel marketing trends for 2015

November 26, 2014

Additionally, at our recent HSMAI Digital Council fall planning meeting, the topic of content marketing surfaced as one of the most pressing areas to address in 2015, along with the usual suspects – mobile, social, and controlling cost of sales. Gladly, we’re starting to see hospitality follow other industries, embracing the notion that consumers want to be entertained, informed and educated. The end goal is still to grab the guests’ attention and offer valuable information that keeps them close by, so they’ll knock at your door when the time is right to book. It’s not just about the content per se, but about the behavior it drives.

Marcus Hotels does a terrific job serving up visually appealing content marketing that is useful and consistent across all the channels their customers are using including their website, mobile devices, social channels like Instagram and Pinterest, and, of course, the hundreds of traditional travel channels.

Perhaps you don’t have the space or the resources to pull off an “Instagram-able” moment (below) like the Cosmopolitan Hotel does in Las Vegas, but as Marcus Hotels’ Christine Beuchert, Sr. Director, Marketing and Ecommerce Strategy, talks about in our recent 2015 webinar, there are lots of other things you can do, that are in line with your DNA, or true to your hotel’s personality, whether you’re a resort on a beach in Mexico or an airport hotel in New Jersey.

Get the full story at Leonardo

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How loyal are millennial travelers?

November 25, 2014

Millennial business travelers can be surprisingly loyal, though surpassing the high bar they set requires effort. The travel brands gaining traction with this audience use a calibrated mix of attainable, flexible rewards, ongoing guest feedback and old-fashioned hospitality to win them over. Once millennial travelers pick a preferred brand, they often spend more and tend to stick with their choice.

But because millennials are earlier in their traveling careers, many are still up for grabs. In fact, a Q1 2014 hotel loyalty survey by Deloitte found that 45% of US millennials belonged to none or just one loyalty program, suggesting an opportunity for travel loyalty marketers to do more to engage younger travelers.

Travel brands able to strike the right program balance between accessible rewards and participation are seeing a payoff in long-term millennial traveler loyalty. Deloitte found 75% of millennial business travelers would stay with a valued hotel loyalty program even if they had lost all their points and status. These same travelers also indicated they would spend an additional $41 per night on average to stay at a hotel in their preferred program.

Get the full story at eMarketer

Read also "The millennial traveler: The lonely road" at WIT

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More reviews do not necessarily come with higher hotel RevPar

November 25, 2014

By Inès Blal, Ph.D. and Michael, C. Sturman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne

It is interesting to observe that when it comes to online reviews, we use the terms "hotels" and "hospitality" in a generic way when we know they include a wide range of properties, from economy to luxury hotels. It is as if we consider that consumers' expectations and behaviors are similar across industry segments when it comes to online reviews.

This generic approach prevents us from identifying the key aspects of the relationship between online reviews and hotel sales. In our study, "The differential effects of the quality and quantity of online reviews on hotel room sales" published in the November issue of the Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, we examine the effects of quality (i.e. online rating) and quantity (i.e. number of reviews) of online reviews on RevPar across segments. We investigated the relationships between user-generated online reviews and hotel sales performance on a sample of 319 hotels in the London market and uncovered the following four main insights:

1. Higher online ratings are associated with higher RevPar

In line with the general perception and sentiment, our results show a positive correlation between quality of online ratings (i.e. the rating left by a reviewer) and RevPar. A more developed model also confirms that rating is a significant variable when it comes to predicting RevPar. Simply, when examining all 319 hotels without distinguishing the scale segment, the higher the quality of the review (i.e. the rate given by a guest) the higher the RevPar in the hotels we examined.

2. More reviews do not necessarily come with higher RevPar

Our analysis disconfirms the general belief that the higher the number of reviews the better. We were surprised to observe that there is no correlation between quantity (number of reviews) and RevPar. It turns out that the effects of quantity and quality are a little more complicated. While quantity and quality are highly correlated (i.e. the higher the number of reviews, the greater the ratings) when we examined all 319 hotels as one type, their effect differs when it comes RevPar. The quality of the review enhances sales performance, whereas the number has no effect when we examined all 319 hotels without distinction of industry scale segment.

These were the findings when we considered all hotels together as one product. The results are different for the second stage of the study, when we distinguished between economy, midscale, upscale, and luxury properties.

The effects of online reviews on hotel sales are not the same across all categories of hotels.
In particular:

3. Online ratings have a minimal impact on RevPar for economy hotels

Higher quality of ratings is critical for luxury hotels, for which any increase in the online rating left by a guest can have an important impact on its RevPar. This statement also holds true for upper scale properties, but the effect is weaker in this segment. Our results reveal that the effect of online ratings in luxury hotels is more than double the effect of upscale hotels. By contrast, when it comes to economy and midscale hotels, the effect of an increase in the ratings on sales performance is very weak, almost minimal.

4. More reviews do not necessarily come with higher RevPar… in the luxury segment

The relationship that we first observed between quantity and RevPar (insight #2) changed as we distinguished between industry segments. Our findings show that for midscale and economy hotels, the relationship between quantity and RevPar existed and is positive. It is however negative for upscale and luxury hotels. The effect on luxury hotels is over ten times the effect for upscale hotels. Simply, more reviews are a booster of RevPar for economy and midscale hotels, but have a negative effect on RevPar for upscale and luxury ones in particular.

Related Link: Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL)

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Infographic: Bleisure travel in 2014

November 25, 2014

It found that the most popular ‘bleisure’ activities are sightseeing, dining and arts and culture.

Kelly Murphy, vice president at BridgeStreet Global Hospitality, said: “To meet both business and leisure customer needs, the industry needs to do a better job of educating their customers about their offering and tell guests what they should see when they get there. They need to provide additional local services and really bring their brand to life.”

View the infographic at BigHospitality

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Taking advantage of travel disruptions

November 25, 2014

The answer on both fronts has been a definite yes at Red Roof Inn, which has recently found success with its Flight Cancellation Coup campaign, an innovative flight-tracking technology enabled by mobile search.

Following last year’s harsh winter, Red Roof collaborated with digital marketing agency 360i to address the ongoing trend of frequent flight cancellations. They noted that every day, about 500 U.S. flights were being canceled, stranding some 90,000 travelers in the process. Since many of Red Roof’s nearly 400 properties are located near airports, including some of the nation’s busiest, company execs felt the chain was in an ideal position to convert flight cancellations into customers. Their response: the development of new flight cancellation technology that processes thousands of bits of live cancellation data. These data are filtered through a conditional algorithm that automatically boosts bids and makes copy adjustments across the brand’s mobile search campaigns, speaking directly to stranded travelers.

The innovation not only increased traffic for Red Roof, but it has garnered widespread recognition, including awards from the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Mobile Marketing Association, MediaPost, and Digiday Sammy/Mobi Awards.

Get the full story at Lodging Magazine

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Four Seasons highlights experiences in holiday gift card push

November 25, 2014

In doing so, Four Seasons is reminding consumers that its properties are more than places to sleep, although guests who enjoy this feature can use their cards to purchase Four Seasons mattresses.

“There are as many types of recipients as there are reasons for giving,” said Sorya Gaulin, director of corporate public relations and social media at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Toronto.

“The beauty of Four Seasons Gift Cards is that they are the ultimate personalized gift and perfectly suited for loved ones on your holiday list,” she said.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Data-based decisions feed RM-sales ecosystem

November 25, 2014

Given such transparency, marketers and revenue managers have been forced to develop a symbiotic relationship and are “no longer at odds with each other,” said Scott Pusillo, VP of sales and revenue management at Viceroy Hotel Group, during the webinar titled “Through the looking glass: The revenue manager’s adventure into sales and marketing,” which was presented jointly by Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International, Hotel News Now and HNN’s parent company, STR.

Viceroy Hotel Group lumps marketers and revenue managers together under the same umbrella. This is a way to make sure decisions are based on data, not feelings, Pusillo said.

“When everyone in the commercial landscape is on equal footing, decisions are made much more based on data and less on emotion,” he said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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HSMAI white paper on social media and false advertising

November 25, 2014

The FTC views social media as forums in which consumers expect to find genuine user content, so “material connections” that might influence consumer choice must be disclosed. If a reasonable consumer would not otherwise expect that the endorser received payment or other compensation, the “material connection” between advertiser and endorser must be disclosed. The FTC guidelines give the example of a tennis star stating in a TV ad that her Lasik surgery at a particular clinic has improved her game; consumers would expect this to be a paid ad, and no disclosure is necessary. But what if the tennis star tweets the same comment? If the tennis star was paid by the clinic to do so, that fact must be disclosed. The FTC deems Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to be forums in which consumers expect to hear real people giving real opinions about people, products, and services. As a result, advertisers need to consider whether a disclosure of a material connection with the endorser is necessary.

Your employees may be a willing and reliable source of positive reviews, and there’s nothing to prohibit the practice per se. But if a reviewer is an employee of the advertiser or paid by the advertiser that material connection must be disclosed or the employer/advertiser may be liable for false advertising. Employers should consider including a social media policy in their employee handbooks that provides guidelines for reviews and endorsements of the employer’s products or services.

In contrast to employee reviews, consumer reviews on a personal blogs are generally not considered endorsements. Because consumer reviews earn higher credibility, they may be closely scrutinized for any connection to the product manufacturer or service provider whose goods and services are the subject of the endorsement. Where the consumer speaks positively about a product she bought herself, there is of course no material connection to disclose. Even if our blogger got free trial in the mail, that fact need not necessarily be disclosed. If, however, the blogger joins a network marketing program and gets free stuff in exchange for writing reviews, then a positive review - even if written voluntarily - would be considered an endorsement. Amazon, for example, invites select reviewers to join its Vine program. Amazon Vine reviewers receive free items in exchange for voluntary reviews. Amazon discloses this material connection by identifying Vine reviews with “Vine Customer Review of Free Product” with a link to its Vine description and policy page.

Don’t neglect to pay attention to what your marketing firm is doing. A marketing firm, for example, may utilize a network marketing program, matching your company with individuals who will review company products and post their opinions on their social media accounts. If the claims made by the consumer reviewers are not substantiated, both your company and the reviewer may be liable. Make sure that your marketing service is providing reviewers with guidelines for their review, and you should monitor reviews for compliance with the policy.

Download the white paper at HSMAI (PDF 2.1 MB)

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The 2 new Google updates every hotelier should know about

November 25, 2014

As most hotel marketers know, search never stays the same for very long. Google takes over 200 factors into account when crawling, indexing, and ranking sites on the web and rolls out around 500 refreshes and updates to their search algorithms each year. In such a dynamic arena, the best advice for hoteliers who want to rank #1 is to “mind what matters.” Staying abreast of the updates that specifically impact hotel websites is the first step hoteliers can take on the SEO stairway to higher rankings.

For hotels, two of Google’s most recent updates certainly do have an impact on where, exactly, your site will end up in the search results. One update makes it easier for searchers to find hotels by displaying business listings more prominently, while the other helps hotels find searchers by improving the accuracy of geo-targeted AdWords campaigns. The best news for hoteliers is that both updates make Google feel less like a game of roulette, and more like a conversation with your five-star concierge.

Changes to Google Hotel Finder and Local Carousel Results

Google recently made some big changes to the way hotels are displayed on search results pages. For starters, Google’s Hotel Finder commercial unit no longer appears on results pages for search queries like “NYC Hotels.” In addition, the local “carousel” results that appeared at the top of the results page for such queries has also disappeared. Instead, queries like “NYC Hotels” now produce a “3-pack” module that displays three organically-ranked hotel listings. Users can click on one of these results for a full business detail view, or expand the module to quickly navigate to a more comprehensive list of relevant listings.

Get the full story at HeBS digital

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Why Amazon Travel has little chance of disrupting OTAs

November 24, 2014

A good case in point for its thesis is Google and its online travel efforts. Google is a perfect comparison to Amazon in this case, because both are predominantly online companies, coupled with the fact that Google has already dipped its toes into the lucrative online travel industry.

The company has launched several high-profile online travel ventures, including Hotel Price Ads in 2010, Hotel Finder in 2011, the acquisition of the highly popular ITA Software in 2011 and the recent licensing deal between it and Expedia-backed Hotel 77 Software in April. Additionally, Google boasts a global online reach that only Facebook can match: more than 1.2 billion people use Google Search every day, comparable to Facebook's more than 1.2 billion monthly active users.

Now, you would imagine that competing with Google in anything online would be about as difficult as trying to drown a fish. If there is any company that has real potential to truly disrupt the online travel industry, it would be Google. Yet, the leading OTAs have hardly suffered any agitation from Google's presence in the space. Its growth momentum shows no signs of slowing down, and any slip-ups in the recent past can hardly be attributed to any competitive pressure from Google.

Get the full story at SeekingAlpha (free registration)

Read also "Amazon to get into hotel booking business"

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No names please: Hilton’s discrete approach to data-driven marketing

November 24, 2014

Travel marketers were among the first to appreciate the value of data, and they were early pioneers in modeling past-purchase and aspirational behavior to develop compelling and relevant promotions with tailored marketing strategies. Established brands like Hilton have decades’ worth of data in their vaults.

But, like Hilton, most have internal restrictions for the acceptable use of this data in marketing. Often, these controls vary depending on the channel delivering the messages.

For example, Jackie Talbot, Hilton Worldwide’s senior director for CRM products and solutions, explained, “With email, you raise your hand. You’ve said, ‘Yes, sign me up, here’s all my information. It’s fine for you to know my name. You can put my name in your email. You know my email address. You know all of those things.’”

Get the full story at Digiday

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Hospitality experts discuss lingering issues with online distributors

November 24, 2014

“Distribution is becoming increasingly complex and expensive. Ultimately, the questions facing that owner or manager is, ‘What will the cost be to acquire the booking and is that cost reasonable?” explained Cindy Estis Green, CEO and co-founder of Kalibri Labs and moderator of the Consumer Innovation Forum session at the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Annual Fall Meeting in New York earlier this month.

A year and a half ago, AH&LA established the forum with the express purpose of educating owners and operators on the changes that were quickly transforming distribution and the digital marketplace. The forum is made up of hotel brands, ownership groups, and management companies with the brands having the largest representation. Its work is ongoing.

“Our research suggests that the rate of commissions being paid by hotels in return for bookings is rising at twice the rate of revenue growth. When you factor in related sales and marketing costs, hotels can be paying upward of 30 percent of room revenues for the acquisition,” Estis Green said.

Get the full story at Lodging Magazine

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Get ready to pay more for business travel next year

November 24, 2014

"As the economy picks up and business demand grows, price increases are anticipated across the region; however, the degree of these increases will vary significantly city-to-city," the report reads.

Here's the breakdown of the price increases AmEx expects in North America:

- Short Haul Business Class airfare: 2% to 6%
- Long Haul Business Class airfare: 1% to 4%
- Short Haul Economy airfare: 2% to 5%
- Long Haul Economy airfare: 1% to 3%

- Mid-Range hotel: 3% to 6%
- Upper-Range hotel: 3.5% to 7%

- Car rental base rates: 0.5% to 1%

Prices in Europe are expected to stay relatively flat, with the possibility for some drops. In Latin America, some of the prices are expected to dip a bit as the economy seems to be slowing somewhat. Prices may drop in the Middle East and Africa as well thanks to capacity increases and economic uncertainty.

Get the full story at and the full report at American Express Business Travel

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Going it alone: Solo travel is growing

November 24, 2014

Suppliers report varying growth rates in this market, from moderate to explosive. From 2011 to 2014, for example, SITA World Tours’ solo traveler bookings increased by nearly 64%, generating an increase of more than 90% in sales, the company said.

Most suppliers told Travel Market Report the number of solo travelers will continue to increase. And they are already preparing for the uptick.

At Trafalgar, the demand for single travel has doubled over the past eight to 10 years, from 5% to 10% of the company’s business, according to Paul Wiseman, president. “In the U.S., there are 10,000 Americans retiring every day, and a lot of those people are singles,” Wiseman explained. “They still love to travel. We have a broad demographic, and half are over 55.”

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

Article location: looks to ‘shake up’ UK online travel sales with 2015 launch

November 24, 2014 is due to launch next year, with backing from Comtec founder and serial entrepreneur Simon Powell.

Roche will be joined in the venture by Humphrey Sheil, who most recently co-founded e-commerce company Eysys with Powell, and is overseeing the building of the technology platform as chief technical officer.

Roche said: “Technology has made life much easier for customers to find their perfect flight or hotel through businesses like Skyscanner, Momondo and Trivago yet technology has not yet made its impact on holiday searching. I hope to change that.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

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Availpro unveils Rate Optimization solution NextRate

November 24, 2014

Revolutionary in its field, NextRate is a powerful solution that allows hospitality professionals to position their offering at the best price possible in their market.

In collaboration with Revenue Management Specialists and European hoteliers, Availpro has developed NextRate to meet the increased acceleration of price changes that can not be predicted by conventional tools which are mainly based on historical trends.

Availpro is keeping pace with its philosophy of simplicity and performance, and has designed in NextRate, a solution that enables a rapid start up and instantly assists decision-making.

With NextRate, Hotel Directors and Revenue Managers get rate recommendations for the next 90 days ahead delivered on a daily basis. Using key indicators to help calculate the best price, the solution gives detailed information on the hotels activity, it’s positioning in the market and scalability (market movements) to detect sensitive dates or upcoming events (Trade shows, Concerts etc.). NextRate also analyzes the hotel’s competition, price fluctuations and online reputation.

« Availpro has developed NextRate to help independent hotels and chains optimize their prices in order to increase their revenue. » said Philippe Lamarche, President of Availpro. Once again, Availpro innovates by offering a complete solution, validated by key beta-test customers, thus confirming Availpro as the leader in ‘Rate Optimization’.

An intelligent all in one solution to help optimize prices

The Hotelier still remains in charge of their pricing and they are the only one who can accept, reject or adjust the price recommendations delivered by NextRate. It is the Hoteliers final decision to act or not on the price recommendation suggested.

NextRate tracks the user’s activity and decisions in NextRate and learns from them to adjust the price recommendation strategy accordingly.

Once a recommendation is accepted, the new price is automatically sent to the Hotels channel distribution thanks to the Availpro Smart Channel Manager and the booking engine connectivity.

With NextRate, Hotel Managers benefit from a complete and innovative solution to assist their decision-making process on prices and to maximize their revenue.

Related Link: AvailPro

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Pegasus names Scott Gibson CEO

November 24, 2014

"Scott Gibson is a proven leader who will bring vision, focus and a wealth of experience to Pegasus. We are confident that Scott's extraordinary track record and his passion for building innovative products will help solidify Pegasus' position as the premier technology provider in the hospitality industry," said Michael Reinstein, Managing Partner, Regent Equity Partners.

"Pegasus has a deep history of creating transformative technology," Gibson said. "I am honored to have the opportunity to lead the Pegasus team as we write an exciting new chapter of expanded innovation and growth."

Most recently, Mr. Gibson served as Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President, Distribution and Strategic Planning for BEST WESTERN International. Prior to that, he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for both Kerzner International Resorts, Inc. and Cendant Corporation. He began his technology career with Ramada, followed by six years at Anasazi developing custom hotel central reservation systems. While at Anasazi, he was a member of the development team that created the widely adopted RezView CRS, which was ultimately purchased by Pegasus in 1999. Mr. Gibson will be based in Pegasus' Scottsdale corporate office.

Related Link: Pegasus Solutions

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Amazon to get into hotel booking business

November 21, 2014

Skift spoke with representatives of three independent hotels, two of which signed up for the new Amazon service and one that was strongly considering the option.

Properties would load their room types, availability, pricing information, and photos into an Amazon extranet and would pay a standard 15% commission to Amazon for the prepaid bookings, the hoteliers at the independent properties said. The properties would get notified by Amazon via email of bookings, hoteliers said, and they would update calendars on the extranet. The hotels would generally list their properties at rack rates, but would be free to discount, one hotelier said.

Hoteliers would receive their payments from Amazon for the stays in two installments and could obviously attempt to negotiate a lower commission than the standard 15%.

Get the full story at Skift

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Hotels need to re-think their search strategy

November 21, 2014

Therefore, big brands will be in the top spots for the Local Pack as hotels within those brands piggy back on their big brand domains resulting in greater domain authority. Independent hotels can’t compete with the big brand domain power, therefore the removal of the Carousel will greatly reduce the visibility of some hotels.

What should you do to capitalize on the new Local 3-Pack?

- Time is of the essence so act now before Google has rolled this out universally. If you get into Hotel Price Ads now, then as more and more users see this new search results page, your hotel rate could be above the OTAs allowing users to book direct.

- It’s time to confront the Hotel Price Ad giant and pay to play. With the predominance of the hotel price in the search results page, and the new “Book a room” function within the Business Listing page, you can no longer ignore Google’s desire to grow this element of it’s ecosystem.

- Local search is now more important than ever. You need to be in the top three for your geographic keywords in order to have visibility on the first page.

Get the full story at Econsultancy

Read also "Google achieves 100% monetization above the fold for hotel searches"

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HotelTonight prepares for “biggest innovation since we launched”

November 21, 2014

He said delegates would have to wait for a couple of months to find out what it is, but said it was “along the lines” of how the app introduced a new form of discounting when it launched.

Shank told the annual conference that its marketing strategy has been to optimise for the best possible app rating, rather than more traditional forms of online promotion. He said the firm has spend just £10 million on marketing in its history. HotelTonight was established in 2011 and its app has been downloaded 11 million times.

Shank said the system was built from the ground up not to compete with hotels but to offer them and their customers a simple way of booking their accommodation.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Travel flash sales are back, as Groupon Getaways grows fast

November 21, 2014

Simon Goodall, general manager of travel at Groupon for the past three years, told Tnooz:

“We think about the customer space very differently than our competitors do. We’re focused on leisure travelers, many of whom are flexible about the specifics of their vacation and are looking for inspiration.
Our customers wake up in the morning and discover things they hadn’t planned to buy. Our data shows 80% of the people who buy a Getaway with us were not planning on going to that destination before they heard about it from us.

Our internal research benchmarks find the average for online travel agencies is only 15%. We do inspiration effectively. Others don’t. Our customers are wealthier, too, on average. We do a good business in four-star resorts. That’s hardly a trip being primarily driven by ticket size. That’s a decision about value.

For suppliers, our appeal is that we’re driving incremental demand.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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EasyJet’s program a reminder that brands should earn loyalty - not just reward it

November 21, 2014

EasyJet’s decision to trial a loyalty programme that rewards frequent flyers with perks and dedicated services may baffle those that think such schemes are only useful for gaining new business or tempting back lapsed customers. In EasyJet’s case, leisure passenger repeat bookings are up 50 per cent from 2010 and business passenger repeat bookings are up 62 per cent. Customers are already flying with EasyJet and flying more often, so why does the airline believe a loyalty programme is necessary?

Such a question fundamentally misunderstands the role that loyalty schemes should play. They should never be a replacement for flawed value proposition, but instead play a complementary role – brands should be rewarding loyalty having already earned this through other aspects of their customer-focused service.

Unfortunately, treating loyalty programmes as a substitute for a compelling value proposition is just one aspect of how these schemes are too often flawed.

Get the full story at The Drum

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Google launches “Mobile-Friendly” labels in mobile search results

November 21, 2014

Google said it can be a “frustrating experience for our mobile searchers” to end up on a web page that is not mobile-friendly, thus they are adding the label to their mobile search results to communicate this to the searcher. In addition to the mobile-friendly label, Google is experimenting with a new ranking algorithm for mobile friendly web sites.

How do you qualify to show such a label for your web pages? Google said it depends on if GoogleBot detects the following criteria:

- Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
- Uses text that is readable without zooming
- Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
- Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

Get the full story at Search Engine Land

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Restaurant customers are ready to use payment technology

November 21, 2014

In a survey of nearly 1,300 U.S. consumers, the study found that the consumers rated paying with technology significantly higher than the traditional payment method that involves handing over a credit card. The study, "Ready and Willing: Restaurant Customers' View of Payment Technology," by Sheryl Kimes and Joel Collier, is available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR).

"Our study was conducted before Apple Pay was announced, but it's clear that restaurant customers are ready to use this kind of technology to settle their checks," said Kimes, a professor of operations management and a Menschel Distinguished Teaching Fellow at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. "We tested the use of smartphone apps and table-top systems on eight different measures. Technology beat out the traditional settlement method on all eight, including overall guest satisfaction."

"Restaurant operators should take notice of consumers' favorable view of payment technology, since the industry has long been concerned that guests would not want to use it," added Collier, an associate professor at Mississippi State University. "What's especially interesting is that the consumers in our study gave high marks to payment technology for its privacy aspect, since their credit card never leaves their hands. I also want to point out that these consumers said that payment technology would encourage them to spend more money on their next visit to a restaurant."

In their study, Kimes and Collier showed 1,297 survey respondents one of three restaurant payment scenarios that apply to settling the check in a casual restaurant. The respondents rated settlement using smartphones, table-top systems, and traditional methods on the following eight measurements: accuracy, control of pacing, convenience, efficiency, experience quality, future spending intentions, privacy, and satisfaction with the payment method. On all eight measurements, paying with technology was rated significantly higher than the traditional settlement approach.

Although this study specifically applies to consumers in casual restaurants, Kimes and Collier suggest that it appears that restaurant operators do not have to be concerned about guests' acceptance of customer payment technologies. In fact, given increasing privacy concerns, some guests may greatly appreciate the control and privacy that they gain by being able to use payment technologies.

Download the study at Cornell University

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The coming wave of OTAs

November 21, 2014

Q: Your study shows one quarter of travel is now booked online in APAC. How different is the US story from the APAC one?

Lorraine: Both markets are evolving quite differently. The US online travel market shot up rapidly, going from zero billion dollars in 1997 to surpassing US$35 billion by 2003. Within the first six years, 34% of all US travel was booked online.

APAC is a collection of unique markets - some accelerating faster than others technologically and economically. Overall APAC online travel sales surpassed the US$35 billion mark in 2008 – five years after the US reached that milestone - so you can say APAC is about five years behind the US.

Get the full story at WIT

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TripAdvisor Instant Booking “changing every week,” hopes to win major OTA participation

November 20, 2014

The world’s largest travel review site has started offering users the opportunity to make a booking without leaving TripAdvisor, in addition to its price comparison service. However, the larger online agencies, including the two biggest; Expedia and parent Priceline, have so far refused to integrate with it.

Kaufer said it remains to be seen whether compromises it was willing to make would convince the OTAs. “Instant Booking changes every week. As some changes happen maybe some big OTAs will say it looks a bit more like what we want to participate in."

In a previous session at PhoCusWright, Expedia boss Dara Khosrowshahi indicated Instant Book could turn out to be a “dumb pipe” for Expedia, while the chief executive also expressed doubts.

Get the full story Travolution

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For OTAs, mobile is the key battleground - but it’s not all about apps

November 20, 2014

Marcello Gasdia, PhoCusWright senior analyst, said high level of use of mobile apps suggests they are dominant, but firms should not be too quick to discount the mobile web. Gasdia said most app use involved three activities: checking emails, social media and gaming, with the amount of time spent in Facebook accounting for half an hour a day on average.

“Travellers are doing very few things in apps, creating the illusion they are taking over the mobile web,” said Gasdia. Travel app usage, whether it involves a metasearch site, an OTA or a hotel or accommodation review or airline site, accounted for just 1% of daily app use.

TripAdvisor was found to be used by 30% of smartphone owners. Of these, 30% used the app and 18% the mobile website. Only 38% of visitors were app-only. For OTAs, the research found there were nearly twice as many mobile web users as app users, the former averaging seven page visits per session while apps saw five sessions a month on average.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Hotel counsels discuss leading industry concerns

November 20, 2014

They identified seven concerns on hotel general counsels’ radars:

1. Franchisor-franchisee relationships

Panelists are eyeing closely whether a decision by the Office of the General Counsel of the United States National Labor Relations Board to name parent companies as joint employers of their franchisees (and thus liable for the acts of their franchisees) will be upheld. If it is, the hotel franchising business arrangement could change dramatically.
As a real estate investment trust, however, Host Hotels & Resorts wouldn’t be affected, Abdoo noted.

2. Management contracts

Terms are becoming not only shorter but more flexible, as owners continue to demand more recourse when operators don’t perform as desired. That latter scenario has been the source of several highly publicized “midnight raids” in recent months, in which an owner ousts a management company by surprise.

Third-party manager Interstate has not been subject to such a raid, Bennett said.

3. OTA discounting

“Rates should be consistent all across the board,” Starwood’s Siegel said. “(Online travel agencies) should not charge less than what the hotel company charges.”
Such rate parity is a fair and legal practice, despite recent claims of price fixing and antitrust complains.

Siegel pointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Judge Jane Boyle, who on 27 October dismissed an antitrust case with prejudice against three OTAs. In a class-action lawsuit against Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz as well as a number of hotel companies including Starwood, the plaintiffs claimed they had paid inflated rates for rooms booked online. Boyle denied a motion to refile the complaint after throwing out the case in February 2014, at which time she said, “The well-pled facts do not plausibly suggest that defendants entered into an industrywide conspiracy,” according to a Bloomberg report.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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TripAdvisor: a history of complaints

November 20, 2014

In 2010 a group of 700 holiday accommodation owners hit back at TripAdvisor over reviews they believed were unfair and damaging to their business. Proprietors described reviews that claimed they were racist or compared their businesses to “sewage works”. The complaints were compiled by, a company that specialises in protecting the online reputations of businesses, and the prospect of legal action was raised. Even Dragon’s Den panellist and hotel owner Duncan Bannatyne waded in, telling The Caterer magazine that “people are coming to our hotels and threatening to write bad reviews in order to get money off their bills”.

In 2011 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) launched an investigation into TripAdvisor after KwikChex filed a complaint on behalf of business owners upset at what they described as fake or defamatory reviews. KiwxChex argued that TripAdvisor should not be pitching itself as a source of “reviews you can trust” or opinions from “real travellers”. The ASA ruled in its favour, stating that because reviews on TripAdvisor can be posted without verification, the site could no longer “claim or imply that all the reviews that appeared on the website were from real travellers, or were honest, real or trusted”.

Get the full story at The Guardian

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Starwood sets up sweepstakes for holiday shopping frenzy

November 20, 2014

On Dec. 1, guests are invited to digitally shake a snow globe for a chance to win one of 60 accommodation prizes that range from three to seven nights. The hotel conglomerate will further tap into the shopping frenzy by providing various sales Nov. 24 to Dec. 7.

The sweepstakes will run for 12 hours and some of the prizes include stays at St. Regis Aspen, CO, St. Regis Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico and The Luxury Collection’s San Francisco at The Palace.

A grand prize awards 225,000 Starwood Preferred Guests to the lucky winner. To put this into perspective, a guests can get a fifth night free at a category seven hotel for 30,000-35,000 points, and at a category one hotel for 3,000 points.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily and Starwood

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Debunking the myth of using social media for customer service

November 20, 2014

According to research from American Express, 23% of US internet users have used social media for customer services purposes at some point. The reasons they do so, however, most frequently do not involve looking to get help from the firm in question. A majority of people who used social for customer service did so to praise a company for a great experience, and half did so to vent their frustration with a bad one. Just under half wanted to share their experience with other consumers. Meanwhile, what firms might think of as typical customer service - a customer reaching out to a firm for help, and expecting a response - came in fourth place, with 40% of respondents.

And that's just among the group who did use social for customer service purposes. Among the larger group of US internet users, American Express found that social networks were hardly ever the preferred channel for making customer service inquiries.

For simple inquiries, the most preferred way to get help was via a company’s website or email, with speaking to a real person on the phone in a distant second. For difficult problems, nearly half of internet users wanted to talk to a human on the telephone, with face-to-face help coming in second with almost a quarter of respondents. Meanwhile, only 5% of respondents wanted to use social networks for simple inquiries, with an even smaller 3% looking to solve hard problems via social.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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Why your hotel isn’t showing up on Facebook feeds anymore

November 20, 2014

Over the course of the past year, Facebook has been unveiling a series of algorithm updates, and redesigning the layout to act like a personalized digital newsletter. Similar in structure to Google’s Panda 4.1 algorithm update, where they cleaned up spam and rewarded high quality content. It essentially studies the user’s patterns and adapts the news feed according to what they like and what’s most relevant.

Facebook essentially changed their math and overall mindset for how brands can use the social giant. Organic reach for brands is declining and the expectation is that Facebook will eventually cut organic reach for brand pages down to zero. This is mainly due to the fact that there is so much content being produced daily that it is nearly impossible for any brand to gain exposure.

It used to be a platform for fan acquisition, content reach and engagement whereas now it’s progressing more towards the advertising model of pay for views.

Hotels have to adapt to this new model or risk being pushed off the social media grid completely. Here are some tips on how you can tell a better story for your hotel through Facebook and capture the capability of this revamped medium.

Get the full story at Leonardo

Article location: & Vizergy partner to help hotels turn guest referrals into a powerful new business channel

November 20, 2014

Vizergy has partnered with on multiple fronts, ranging from a new product offering within Vizergy's best-in-class suite of marketing services, to a seamless integration with Secure-Res, their globally respected booking platform. This partnership has allowed Vizergy clients to take full advantage of the brand advocate platform and has laid the foundation for hotels to earn increased customer engagement and generate new guests, with the help of their existing guests.

Since partnering, Vizergy has integrated on a number of customer websites, as well as a variety of booking engines. The roster of Vizergy's customers that have opted to integrate this service into their online strategy continue to see added revenue gains and increased traffic due to viral marketing. These successes are driven by the performance of the platform and its ability to create uniquely personalized messaging for guests of each specific hotel property.

" and Vizergy are proactively working together to design an integrated platform that has a real impact for our mutual customers based on what's best suited for each one. Our mission is to help hotels earn new guests and we're laser-focused on doing just that everyday," said Edward St.Onge, President of

"We are thrilled to continue partnering with innovative new social platforms such as," said Robert Arnold, President of Vizergy. "As guests become increasingly vocal in the social sphere, it is critical to bring new and unique products to the table that will allow our clients to maximize booking potential and enhance relevant and targeted messaging for their properties. delivers that added benefit of trusted word-of-mouth marketing, and we look forward to providing this service to many more of our socially savvy hotel clientele."

Related Link: Vizergy

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Marriott and Hilton say goodbye to same-day cancellations

November 19, 2014

“We’re making this change so we can provide you with a more consistent booking process and make more rooms available for when you need last-minute travel accommodations,” Hilton said in a statement. Marriott did not respond to requests for comment.

Even hotels within large chains have varying cancellation policies, and the changes planned by Marriott and Hilton address only those last-minute cancellation rules. Policies won’t change for hotels that already have cancellation policies requiring a two-day, four-day or even longer advance notice. “Some hotels have more restrictive policies in place, so please refer to your individual conformations to verify their policy,” Hilton said.

It’s likely that other hotel companies will adopt similar changes, especially as they evaluate the success airlines have had in raising additional fee revenue, which is often called ancillary revenue. For example, most airlines charge a $200 fee to cancel and rebook most coach tickets — and those fees sure do add up. In 2013, domestic airlines earned $2.81 billion from cancellation penalty fees, up sharply in five years from $1.67 billion in 2008.

Get the full story at The New York Times

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Expedia to sell airline anchillary service offerings

November 19, 2014

“Price remains the single most important attribute for our customers when searching for their flights. However, when it comes to actually selecting flights, we are seeing customers pay closer attention to features such as baggage inclusion, seat selection and changeability as critical variables,” said Greg Schulze, senior vice president of global tour & transport at Expedia.

“The challenge with branded fares when customers see it at scale across multiple airlines will be ensuring they can make heads or tails of the increasing number of competitive offers. Instead of choosing from a few dozen flights that suit your needs from point A to point B with the times and airports you want, you’ll now see a whole set of branded fares on top of that,” he added.

Holger Taubmann, Amadeus’ senior vice president of distribution, commented; “Merchandising and retailing are vital elements in order for travel players to better meet to the needs of the traveller and to unlock additional revenues in a rapidly changing market, and this partnership is in line with our vision to make these revenues available for our customers. We believe this standardized solution will be hugely beneficial for the industry.”

Expedia plans to go live with “select carriers” by mid-2015, with several more set to come online by the end of the year.

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Smartphones and tablets top the list of vacation ​essentials for the new “Digital Elite”

November 19, 2014

These insights come from the just-released 2014 Portrait of Digital Travelers™, authored by travel and hospitality marketing communications firm MMGY Global, a national survey of the travel habits, preferences and intentions of 1,250 active travelers.

Seven in ten of the Digital Elite are Millennials (18-34) or Xers (35-49). Overall, they are more ethnically diverse than travelers who are less connected. They tend to have higher annual household incomes and education levels. Additionally, they spent $1,851 more on vacations during the past 12 months than travelers who are less connected.

In addition to spending more on travel, the Digital Elite increasingly view their devices as serving distinctly different purposes – and in fact, 66 percent agree their smartphones and tablets are not interchangeable.

“The Portrait of Digital Travelers is the only national study focusing on smartphone and tablet usage while consumers are traveling,” said Steve Cohen, vice president, Insights and Research, MMGY Global. “This in-depth look at the way mobile technology is changing the manner in which these travelers plan, book and now share travel experiences provides valuable insights into how marketers may refine their strategies to address the emerging preferences of this highly attractive market segment.”

Are You A Member Of The Digital Elite?

Below are selected highlights from the 2014 Portrait of Digital Travelers.

- Growing Fast: The Digital Elite now represent 38 percent of all travelers, up from 21 percent in 2012.

- Traveling More: They took an average of 4.8 vacations during the past 12 months, significantly more than the 3.8 vacations taken by all other travelers. Moreover, 21 percent of the Digital Elite plan to take even more trips during the next 12 months, compared to 17 percent of their less connected counterparts. Driving this growth are Millennials, with 32 percent planning to take more vacations during the next 12 months, significantly more than the 18 percent of Boomers and 12 percent of Xers who plan to do so.

- Spending More: Consistent with their intention to travel more, the Digital Elite spent significantly more on vacations than all other travelers during the past 12 months ($5,848 compared to $3,997). They plan to spend even more – 10 percent – on vacations during the next 12 months ($6,446), while all other travelers expect to increase their spending on vacations by only one percent to $4,025. This trend is fueled primarily by Digital Elite Millennials, who plan to boost their vacation spending 21 percent, from an average of $5,538 during the past 12 months, to $6,679 during the coming year.

- Happy, Smart and Fun: Overall, the Digital Elite are an upbeat crowd. Compared to less connected travelers, they are more likely to describe themselves as happy (80 percent vs. 75 percent), intelligent (67 percent vs. 60 percent), self-sufficient (60 percent vs. 46 percent), confident (49 percent vs. 42 percent), fun (49 percent vs. 35 percent), optimistic (43 percent vs. 38 percent), financially secure (35 percent vs. 30 percent), and fit (27 percent vs. 22 percent). Compared to all other travelers, the Digital Elite also describe themselves as planners (46 percent vs. 39 percent) and leaders (35 percent vs. 23 percent).

- Smartphones: Fifty four percent of the Digital Elite use their smartphones while on vacation as often as they do at home, while 34 percent use them less and 12 percent use them more. Digital Elite Millennials are significantly more likely to use their smartphones more often on vacation (17 percent) than Digital Elite Boomers and Xers (10 percent and 9 percent respectively).

The Digital Elite prefer to remain closely connected, even during sleep. Seven in ten sleep with their smartphone near their bed while on vacation, more than six in ten who do so at home.

- Among all Digital Elites, the most frequent uses of smartphones while on vacation are to:
- Make phone calls (82 percent);
- Take photos (82 percent);
- Access the internet (80 percent);
- Access email (77 percent);
- Send texts without attached photos or videos (70 percent);
- Use apps (64 percent);
- Access social media (54 percent).

- Tablets: Similar to smartphone usage, 51 percent of the Digital Elite use their tablets as often as they do on vacation as they do at home; while 35 percent use them less, and 14 percent use them more.

Among all Digital Elites, the most frequent uses of tablets while on vacation are to:

- Comparison shop for airfares and hotel rates (31 percent);
- Look for ratings or reviews of hotels, restaurants and destinations (28 percent);
- Book flights and hotels (26 percent).

- Smartphone or Tablet? The Digital Elite overwhelmingly prefer smartphones to tablets for GPS navigation (65 percent vs. 7 percent). They prefer tablets to smartphones for almost everything else, including:

- Accessing the internet (42 percent vs. 12 percent);
- Reading email (31 percent vs. 23 percent);
- Shopping and browsing (50 percent vs. 9 percent);
- Reading books (58 percent vs. 6 percent);
- Watching online videos (58 percent vs. 5 percent);
- Playing games (36 percent vs. 19 percent);
- Making purchases (47 percent vs. 7 percent).

Survey Methodology
The information presented in The MMGY Global 2014 Portrait of Digital Travelers was obtained from interviews conducted with 2,550 active leisure travelers in February 2014. Respondents were adults living in the United States with an annual household income of $50,000 or more, who had taken at least one leisure trip of 75 miles or more from home requiring overnight accommodations during the previous 12 months. The sample was balanced by statistical weighting to ensure the data are representative of all active leisure travelers in America who meet the target profile.

For more information on the 2014 Portrait of Digital Travelers and other MMGY travel industry reports, visit MMGY Global Research.

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Top 2015 trends for 50+ travelers

November 19, 2014

Top reasons for 50+ travel include escape, relaxation and time with family and friends. The 50+ travelers are looking to mainly relax and rejuvenate during their travel next year as opposed to adventure travel.

"We are excited to see that compared to 2014, people 50+ plan to take more trips in 2015 despite the current political and health concerns abroad," said Stephanie Miles, Vice President, Member Value, AARP. "We are pleased that boomers remain enthusiastic about travel and are planning for more multigenerational travel next year."

"We also found that for the 50+ packing up doesn't mean totally unplugging, with 46 percent admitting they will probably need to stay connected to work while on vacation," continued Miles.

Get the full story at Yahoo! Finance

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UK hotel charges guest £100 for bad TripAdvisor review

November 19, 2014

Tony and Jan Jenkinson posted the negative comment after being unimpressed with the one night they spent at the Broadway Hotel. The couple, from Whitehaven, later found £100 charged to their credit card. The hotel said its policy was to charge for "bad" reviews.

Trading Standards are investigating. Officials believe the hotel may have breached unfair trading practice regulations.

Get the full story at BBC News

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Brands are wasting money on Facebook and Twitter, Forrester says

November 19, 2014

“You don’t really have a social relationship with your customers,” analyst Nate Elliott wrote in a new report titled “Social relationship Strategies That Work.”

According to Mr. Elliott, top brands’ Facebook and Twitter posts only reach around 2% of their fans and followers, and less than 0.1% of fans and followers actually interact with each post on average. What’s more, Facebook announced last week that another tweak to its news feed algorithm will soon make it even less likely brands’ unpaid posts will actually be seen by users.

As a result, marketers hoping to interact with consumers online might be better off investing in social features that exist on their own websites, or in smaller, more niche social networks, Mr. Elliott said.

“It’s clear that Facebook and Twitter don’t offer the relationships that marketing leaders crave. Yet most brands still use these sites as the centerpiece of their social efforts — thereby wasting significant financial, technological, and human resources on social networks that don’t deliver value,” Mr Elliott wrote. “It’s time for marketers to start building social relationship strategies around sites that can deliver value.”

Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal

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Google kills the Carousel and what it means for hoteliers

November 19, 2014

In case you weren’t aware, travelers can book through options listed in Google HPA/Google Hotel Finder and in return Google generates some revenue on a CPC basis. The Carousel was loosely tied to Google HPA since the hotel’s Google+ page was tied with Google HPA and the Google+ page was tied to Carousel.

As you could imagine, this wasn’t the best way of putting Google’s HPA and Hotel Finder Products front and center. Sure, the Carousel was convenient for the end user in terms of being able to sift through hotel options fairly quickly, but the monetization opportunity wasn’t all that great for Google. Google did in some cases present a list of hotels nearby with rate info.

Again, this section was tied into Google’s HPA product, but the Carousel above it was a distraction. Removing the Carousel, which wasn’t a great monetization opportunity, placed Google’s HPA product and PPC ads (two channels that can produce revenue) front and center.

Get the full story at O'Rourke Hospitality

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Vincci Hotels partners with eRevMax for real-time price intelligence

November 19, 2014

RateTiger Shopper helps properties to monitor trends in room rates over selected time periods and for up to 24 months in the future. The intelligent room rate business data also allows hotels to access past and current pricing data for accurate forecasting.

One of the highly prestigious hotel chains in EMEA hospitality space, Vincci Hotel Group manages 35 four and five-star leisure properties across Spain, Tunisia and Portugal. All VINCCI property subscribed to RateTiger Shopper will receive the rate data to make adjustments to the dynamics of the local market. The revenue management team will be able to compare rates and packages of its competitors, like-for-like, at both beds and room-type level while also being notified immediately of competitor rate changes through rate alerts.

“It’s important to ensure that our rates remain competitive in the market and to have the benefit of maintaining rate stability during high and low periods to increase the demand. RateTiger Shopper makes it possible for us to optimize our pricing strategy through effectively responding to the dynamic changes in the market and retain competitive position”, AMAYA LACAMBRA, Director of Revenue Management and Online Distribution at Vincci Hotels.

“Spain is one of the largest markets in Europe and we are happy to partner with such a big brand in hotel industry. The integrated rate shopping capabilities of RateTiger enables the Vincci team to shop competitor rates on multiple online channels and use this price intelligence to pro-actively respond to varying market conditions and adjust their rates accordingly. Furthermore, they can also monitor rate parity across various sales channels for all their properties easily and effici ently,” John Seaton, VP Sales EMEA at eRevMax.

RateTiger’s shopping data is in demand for the qualitative and real-time value it provides to hotels. The real-time nature of the data assists Vincci Hotels by maximising rate opportunity for each
property in its distribution network allowing them to maintain their rate leadership value proposition. "

Related Link: eRevMax

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November 18, 2014

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HotelTonight looks to tomorrow’s hotel guest experience

November 18, 2014

Shank’s presentation was a decidedly ambitious, exciting look at what could be in the world of hotel experience.

The idea of a fully integrated experience delivered by a raft of interoperable experiences was painted at its broadest, so a traveler may have this sort of experience within the HotelTonight mobile app:

- Traveler opens app and has a Lyft pickup triggered.
- Arrival at the hotel is tracked via GPS so the hotel is ready for arrival.
- Upon walking into the lobby, a favorite track from Spotify plays.
- The guest is pinged with a room number and access card, and then is directed to the specific room – with on-site navigation.
- The door lights up, and the guest uses the phone to enter.
- Nest integration imports thermostat settings for the guest.
- Hungry guests can open the app and order Grubhub.
- Fully automated folio at the end of the trip.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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The future of the travel industry is a connected one

November 18, 2014

As well as enabling guests to make bookings via their smartphone, members of the Hilton HHonors rewards programme can check-in and choose their exact room from digital floor plans, and customise their stay by purchasing their upgrades and making special requests for items to be delivered to their room, all using their mobile device. There are also plans to enable guests to check-out using their personal device, and they will even be able to use their smartphone as their room key at the majority of Hilton hotels by 2016.

“The future of the travel industry unquestionably is a connected one,” explained Josh Weiss, Hilton Worldwide’s VP Brand and Guest Technology. “At Hilton, we’re investing in and delivering on a more mobile future with our recently redesigned Hilton HHonors app. With the launch of an industry-first digital check-in and room selection, we are changing how guests engage with our brand by empowering them to dream, book, stay, check-out and follow up with us right from their smartphone.”

Importantly, he also recognises the value of collaborating with other key stakeholders in the travel chain to ensure that the benefits extend beyond the walls of the hotel. “There are a number of opportunities for digital collaboration between the airport, airline and hotel industries – including leveraging iBeacons and other location services and capabilities to push relevant information to travellers,” he commented. “One example of where we already see this alignment is with Hilton’s paid search strategy. By showing nearby hotels to customers affected by a specific flight cancellation, we make their experience easier and also drive business to our properties.”

Get the full story at Airport Business

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New trends in technology used by business travelers

November 18, 2014

Here are a few of the most interesting findings:

- About 95 percent of business travelers own a smartphone, while 64 percent percent own a tablet. However, some business travelers bring as many as four devices with them on a trip.

- Ninety percent of business travelers expect access to Wi-Fi in hotels, and 86 percent expect Wi-Fi at airports.

- More females booked business trips on tablets compared to their male counterparts.

Get the full story at

Read also "How business travelers can prevent getting hacked while working abroad" at

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Travelocity urges consumers to leverage travel apps

November 18, 2014

Travelocity is encouraging consumers to use Thanksgiving travel mobile applications to help with managing itineraries, flights and accommodations as part of its 2014 Thanksgiving Travel Survival Guide.

“Apps like Travelocity’s help users access and manage bookings while on the go during this busy holiday season and are invaluable when the unexpected happens and travel plans need to be modified,” said Courtney Scott, senior travel editor and travel host at Travelocity, New York. “Travel apps can give you a leg up to find a hotel or reschedule travel with the click of a few buttons if your flight is cancelled.”

“The benefits of travel apps extend far beyond just booking Thanksgiving air and hotel travel,” Ms. Scott said. “There is an app for nearly every aspect of travel, from real-time flight tracking, to finding cheap gas, to language translation and detailed road maps.

Get the full story at the Mobile Marketer

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Facebook testing ‘Facebook At Work’

November 18, 2014

The site will be visually similar to Facebook, with a newsfeed and groups, but users will be able to keep their personal profile private. The launch of such a site would place Facebook in direct competition with professional social network LinkedIn and Google's range of online collaboration applications.

“We are making work more fun and efficient by building an at-work version of Facebook,” a source told the technology website at the time.

It is not known when the professional site will launch, but it will reportedly be free - at least initially.

Get the full story at the Telegraph and The Washington Post and TechCrunch

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The Web is dying; Apps are killing it

November 18, 2014

But the truth is that, as is often the case when someone says a certain kind of behavior is dying, it’s a lot more complicated than such headlines suggest.

In his piece, Mims repeats many of the same arguments we’ve heard before about how apps have come to dominate our activity as mobile usage has grown. Instead of using web browsers, we go to task-specific apps, and these are in many cases “walled gardens” that benefit a single corporation and don’t play well with others - either in terms of the data they collect or in terms of links to other sites:

“Everything about apps feels like a win for users - they are faster and easier to use than what came before. But underneath all that convenience is something sinister: the end of the very openness that allowed Internet companies to grow into some of the most powerful or important companies of the 21st century.”

Get the full story at GigaOM and The Wall Street Journal

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TravelClick hosts complimentary webinar on Q3 2014 Global Hotel Industry Performance

November 18, 2014

TravelClick, global provider of innovative cloud-based solutions that enable hotels to grow revenue, will present three free webinars on December 1 and 2 to review third quarter 2014 hotel performance results and trends. Findings will be presented by TravelClick executive John Hach, Senior Vice President, Global Product Management, and Dr. Brumby McLeod, assistant professor at the College of Charleston School of Business. They will discuss current and future best practices for hotels to transform big data into actionable business intelligence to create a unique and localized competitive advantage. The webinars will be moderated by Barbara Taylor Carpender, President and CEO at Taylored Alliances.

Leveraging "big data" is rapidly becoming one of the most talked about topics and important trends throughout the global hotel industry. However, what does big data actually mean in terms of helping hotels to maximize profitability? What tools and competencies are needed for a hotel to obtain the most benefit from big data solutions? How is big data being deployed at a local level to generate incremental revenue per available room (RevPAR)? The webinar will address these questions and other benefits of implementing big data solutions.

Additionally, the TravelClick webinar will review current and emerging market trends, highlight third quarter hotel performance results and future industry trends that are based on TravelClick's proprietary Agency360® solution, eMonitor market performance reports and Demand360® forward-looking hotel booking data.

Key topics:

- Review and analysis of 2014 third quarter hotel performance
- Regional analysis of key markets throughout the world
- Emerging global and local market trends
- Best practices for leveraging big data solutions
- 2015 outlook and RevPAR pace review
- Three sessions will be offered to accommodate a range of time zones. Click the links to register:

1 December 22:00 (10pm EST - New York)
2 December 10:00 (10am EST - New York)
2 December 14:00 (2pm EST - New York)

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Big data and big analytics are a big opportunity for hotels

November 18, 2014

Big data is of no use unless you can turn it into information and insight. For that you need big analytics. Every piece of the analytics cycle has been impacted by big data, from reporting, with the need to quickly render reports from billions of rows of data, through advanced analytics like forecasting and optimization, which require complex math executed by multiple passes through the data set.

Without changes to the technology infrastructure, analytic processes on big data sets will take longer and longer to execute. It’s not enough now to push the button and wait hours or days for an answer. Today’s advanced analytics need to be fast and they need to be accessible. This means more changes to the technology infrastructure to support these new processes.

Analytics companies like SAS have been developing new methods for executing analytics more quickly. Below is a high level description of some of these new methodologies, including why they provide an advantage. Once again, the intention is to provide enough detail to start conversations with IT counterparts (or understand what they are talking about), certainly not to become an expert. There is a ton of information out there if you want more detail.

Get the full story at The Analytic Hospitality Executive

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Google achieves 100% monetization above the fold for hotel searches

November 17, 2014

We knew that this day was coming. Like frogs in slowly warming water that ultimately reaches a boil we hardly noticed.

On “average” screen sizes on the desktop, there is little else that can be seen besides ads and the new Pak. Thus in many search results that return a new Pak, only 3 listings are returned. If there are two ads at the top then only 2 results are returned. And in the case of hotels those are monitized. Thus 100% of the area above the fold is monetized.

On a screen with 1440 x 900 display - 62% of all users have this size display or smaller displays - there are only 2 additional “organic” results. Unlike the ads that do take a user to a website, these results take users back to Google. Thus the only way to get measurable traffic is via Adwords if you are in a leisure type industry that returns the new Pak. This is certainly one way to filter out the cesspool that is the internet.

Perhaps it is time that we begin to think of Google as an ad engine that also returns some search results.

Get the full story at Mike Blumenthal's Understanding Google Places & Local Search and Search Engine Land

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Search engines are the #1 online activity for leisure travelers

November 17, 2014

Consumers aren’t just navigating to a particular brand’s page and making a purchase. They’re doing multiple searches to make sure they get just the right vacation package, the best resort options, the optimal travel dates – and at the lowest price point. Companies with great content and compelling strategies will stand out to web users and attract the attention of prospects on the edge of a purchase decision.

Cross-channel marketing strategies keep travel brands in front of their target audiences as they browse the web, learning about all of their options. Brafton recently reported that the average consumer consults about 12 sources before settling on a decision.

With so many people planning year-end travel and splurging on holiday vacations, there’s huge potential for brands that can get in front of buyers and make an impact with smart messaging and quality content.

Get the full story at Brafton and get the full report (infographic) at Kenshoo

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Luxury travelers most likely to book on mobile device

November 17, 2014

Even with the proliferation of mobile usage, travel brands can’t discount other forms of digital marketing, including desktop Web sites and placement on publications. This is especially true for luxury consumers, who use the most number of types of resources to make their plans.

“One of the biggest things we’re seeing is the clear impact of mobile on travel content engagement, and just how much time consumers are spending researching and shopping across a variety of devices,” said Matthew Reichek, senior director, product & site planning, Expedia Media Solutions, Bellevue, WA.

“We know consumer experience has always been key to driving engagement, but the growth and scale of today’s mobile audience further illustrates the need for brands to implement a diversified cross-platform marketing strategy to effectively engage key audiences across devices throughout the travel planning process,” he said.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Peninsula Hotels broadens reach with primary Instagram, Twitter accounts

November 17, 2014

The company's Instagram has been in active for about a day and, as of press time, had gained 422 followers. The posts so far have circled around guest images and resort photos.

On Twitter the brand has gained 140 followers and has tweeted 12 times since its launch Nov. 12.

Peninsula Hotels has had its own Facebook page with more than 34,000 followers, but has relied upon the individual properties to handle Instagram and Twitter for the brand’s hotels. However, now the general hotel name will be able to promote itself and its properties on more platforms.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Facebook to reduce promotional Page posts

November 17, 2014

That is likely to mean that fewer fans of a retailer will see its notice about a big sale and fewer fans of a video game company will see a post promoting its latest app. Even posts from big advertisers that spend millions of dollars on Facebook ads will vanish from the news feeds of their fans unless they turn them into ads.

“It’s a clear message to brands: If you want to sound like an advertiser, buy an ad,” said Rebecca Lieb, a digital advertising and media analyst at the Altimeter Group.

Facebook says that it’s all for the good of the users and that creative, engaging posts will still attract attention and bubble up into the feed. Marketers have little choice but to play along. Facebook has accumulated one of the biggest vaults of consumer data in the world. It dominates social media advertising the way Google dominates search ads, and analysts say that brands will keep flocking to the service.

Get the full story at The New York Times and TechCrunch

Read also "Facebook isn’t evil for blocking promotional Page posts" at GigaOM

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Why no one’s reading your marketing content

November 17, 2014

Optimize for search and for mobile. This step is essential. According to one study, search contributes about a third of the traffic that websites receive. The principles of good search-engine optimization (SEO) must be applied to every piece of content as you create it, not just after-the-fact, in the metadata. Who is your audience? What answers are people looking for? What keywords will they use to find those answers? That’s what you need to know on the front end. You can certainly extend your reach by crafting sharp headlines, managing the on-page SEO, and building a diverse but relevant link portfolio — but you extend it all the more when the content itself follows best SEO practices. Also create content with mobile in mind. Think carefully about how the length of your message, the formatting, visual elements, and links will shape user experience. The better the experience, the more likely customers are to stick around and absorb the message.

Design a modular but cohesive content plan. You can increase your impact by creating “content modules” — small bits of content, each with a targeted purpose, that can be used in a variety of ways. For example, a blog post can be excerpted to provide social media status updates, included in your e-mail newsletter, syndicated on LinkedIn, and more. But each module should also plug into a clear narrative arc. In a screenplay or a novel, that arc follows the hero’s journey; in content marketing, you use it to guide the buyer’s journey. The typical arc goes from broad (for instance, who we are and why our brands can help solve people’s most urgent problems) to narrow (the differences that define a superior product or service). To build a cohesive user experience, map out how you’ll use these modules to tell your story from beginning to end.

Get the full story at Harvard Business Review

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Top travel trends shaping online marketing in APAC

November 17, 2014

Here are the five not-to -be-missed online marketing trends in travel they shared:

1. Mobile: outpacing the desktop

Mobile and social are changing consumer behaviour throughout APAC. Despite the diversity across the region, mobile bookings across the board are growing faster than desktop bookings 2014). A recent report from the online travel agent Cleartrip highlights that 30% of its transactions today are coming via mobile. Clearly there is room for improvement in online marketing in travel, with mobile lighting the way.

The opportunity:
EyeforTravel's 2014 Mobile Report shows that 86% of travel consumers view 10+ images per website visit. At the same time, online media company for the global hospitality industry, Leonardo Worldwide points to media consumption being 30% higher on mobile than on desktop. Therefore, having a mobile strategy with rich visual content that ensures your consumer spends longer engaging with your website is not simply a 'nice-to-have', it's essential.

2. Last-minute bookings: on the up

Tomas Laboutka, CEO of HotelQuickly says 70% of smartphone users in Asia wouldn't leave the house without their device. The switch to last-minute bookings - or 'on-the-go' bookings - is another notable trend; as consumers become increasingly spontaneous their smartphone is on hand for those trip-planning moments.

The opportunity: writes the majority of hotel bookings are switching to mobile, most of which are made within 24 hours of the stay. Make sure your product offerings appeals to this last-minute segment in order to boost your bottom line.

3. Personalisation: Your consumer and their choices

Google's Head of Travel APAC, Simon Fiquet, believes that the major trend of the moment is 'programmatic media'. For the uninitiated, that's the ability to combine CRM data and 3rd party data to tailor a marketing campaign for acutely defined profiles of travel consumers. This is all about reaching customers at the right time and at the right price, he says.

The opportunity: This is a true revolution which all of APAC's travel players will be able to embrace at the same pace as the rest of the world. With the use of a buoyant technology platform ecosystem (DSPs, DMPs, Ad Exchanges, Ad Servers etc), it represents a real opportunity for online challengers - as well as suppliers - to regain lost audiences.

4. The millennial traveller

Over the next decade, so-called millennial travellers (born between 1980 and 1996) will enter their peak earning and spending years. Successfully capturing this next wave of consumer demand, growing particularly fast in Asia, is an unmissable opportunity. However, it will require players to understand and cater to the preferences of people in the region.

The opportunity: McKinsey & Co's research shows that approximately 60% of the world's millennials reside in Asia, making the opportunity even bigger for travel brands in the APAC region compared to the rest of the globe.

5. China: think peer-to-peer

Regionally, China is still a key focus for travel brands, who are continuing to invest in understanding Chinese consumer trends and therefore convert the profitable Chinese consumer. China Search International's research shows that the region is tipped to become the world's largest source of outbound tourists, accounting for 200 million trips annually by 2020.

The opportunity:
The majority of Chinese travellers are still in the 'early stages' of travel: they travel on group tours and many are first-time travellers. As the younger generation are adopting a more 'Western' lifestyle, peer-to-peer products like car hire firms Hailo and UBER, and hospitality brands like AirBnb are becoming increasingly popular. Chinese travel consumers are also renowned to be 'price-sensitive' and are great researchers in finding the best value for money. So ensure your brand's product offerings reflect the Chinese consumer's love for a deal!

Asia's leading travel executives from brands including Qunar, Expedia, TripAdvisor, Hyatt, Starwood, Google,, Wego and more – will be discussing these five current trends and more at 'Online Marketing, Social Media and Mobile in Travel, Asia' (3-4 February, Hong Kong).

The event will be drawing 150-200 of Asia's most innovative and successful travel brands in online marketing, social media and mobile.

To find out more about the event, click here:

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Which revenue management structure works best for limited service budget hotels?

November 17, 2014

The success of the limited service budget hotel sector is a reality. Jan Freitag of STR recently called out demand for this type of product as part of his review of hotel development pipeline “These wouldn’t be so successful—there wouldn’t be so much interest {in development of these types of hotels} if there wasn’t so much demand. The demand numbers are fairly strong,” he said. However, caution needs to prevail, Fitch Ratings recently published an article on US Lodging Supply Growth and called out the near-term risk of over-supply in this sector. So limited service operators and owners are facing both high-demand situations at present and over-supply on the horizon. They need to squeeze high returns out of assets while times are good right now, whilst getting ready to have that competitive advantage in the near future.

Limited service budget hotels have often focused on controlling costs in order to drive profitability. Providing guests with good value for money often means that overhead and admin costs must be kept to a minimum. This includes of course limiting the headcount in the hotels themselves, while at the same time avoiding bloated corporate offices. Doing things efficiently and using data as a key driver of decision making is therefore essential. But does it only come down to cost? Limited service owners and operators are increasingly seeing the returns from optimizing top-line revenues in addition to cost-control. Enter the increasing focus on revenue management in this sector.

Let’s take a look at the different models that limited service budget hotels can apply to optimize their revenue performance.

Download the whitepaper at IDeaS (PDF 890 KB)

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Expedia aims to ‘shift balance’ with Europe growth focus

November 14, 2014

Dara Khosrowshahi, president and chief executive of the global OTA, told this week’s PhoCusWright conference on Los Angeles an over-reliance on the US was not a problem as it was booming.

“We essentially want to look like the global marketplace. That’s going to require us to get much bigger in Europe and makes what we are doing in Asia and Pacific all the more important. “It requires us to execute well and Trivago to grow at the out-sized growth rates it’s achieving now for some time.”

Khosrowshahi was optimistic for the travel sector in general saying business was healthy and growing ahead of GDP globally. He said Expedia was benefitting from the even faster growth in online travel and particularly in mobile travel.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Business travel spending in Western Europe on track to rise

November 14, 2014

Collectively, Germany, France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain represent nearly 70 percent of business travel spending in Europe, and therefore serve as a "good barometer of the health of the entire European business travel market," according to the report. The markets have experienced steady collective increases throughout 2014, with 4.3 percent and 4.5 percent year-over-year increases in the first and second quarters, respectively. In 2013, aggregate business travel spending in those countries increased 1 percent to $177.7 billion.

"While much of the European continent began recovering late last year, 2014 is shaping up to be a true bounce-back year for European business travel," according to GBTA.

Business travel spending in Germany remains the most robust of the five countries, totaling $14.3 billion in the second quarter, a 7.5 percent year-over-year increase. While GBTA projects Germany's business travel spending to grow 10.8 percent in 2015, the association expects only a 7.4 percent increase in 2014 due to factors including declining business confidence, falling demand for German exports and the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Get the full story at Business Travel News

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November 14, 2014

SEO represents an effective way for travel agents to get ahead in a market where consumers are all too happy to search for their next trip online. According to the report, 68% of travelers will use search engines before they even know where they’re heading, with 58% of leisure travelers starting their booking with an online search.

In October, known as the tail-end of the crucial holiday period, led the way with the best positional strategy and has the largest share of paid search among hotel advertisers, with 33.3% of top ten paid search visibility thanks to strong brand awareness measures and optomisation of top keywords in the industry.

Among the top ten holiday advertisers with 31.3% of the search was, with and following second, both with 15.6%.

Get the full story at PerformanceIN

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Hoteltonight reveals bookings increase and new hotel partners

November 14, 2014

The most booked hotel category in the UK is ‘hip’, revealing that those booking the UK are not only looking for a hotel to relax in, but for a stylish experience.

HotelTonight has recently signed partnerships with high profile brands, such as The Ace Group, Principal Hayley, Red Carnation Hotels and Macdonald Hotels and Resorts.

These new properties reinforce HotelTonight as a preferential partner in the last minute hotel booking sector.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Loyalty programs and technology dominated Lodging Conference

November 14, 2014

As the Internet levels the playing field between independent and branded hotels, success increasingly is being found somewhere in the middle.

Or, as FelCor Lodging Trust’s Tom Corcoran summarized during one of two, back-to-back “View from the top” panels at last month’s Lodging Conference: “Soft branding is clearly going to pick up a lot.”

The likes of Autograph Collection (Marriott International), Curio (Hilton Worldwide Holdings) and the Luxury Collection (Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide) offer the best of both worlds, hotel executives agreed. They allow owners flexibility to create unique experiences on property while driving a base of demand to enjoy it.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Orbitz on becoming a customer engagement leader

November 14, 2014

The journey has been more than three years in the making, and at Loyalty360’s Engagement & Experience Expo held this week, Stacey Symonds, senior director of customer insights for Orbitz Worldwide, explained the process in a session titled, “Putting the Customer Front and Center: Building the Consumer Insights Function at Orbitz Worldwide.”

“When we set out collecting foundational customer insights in 2010-2011, we figured the good news was that we had nowhere to go but up,” Symonds said. “Mobile was growing and becoming more dynamic. That’s a big change from today. Now, about 33% of our business comes through a mobile device. Technology is changing every day and we want to stay ahead of the curve.”

The journey began for Orbitz Worldwide with collecting and understanding data to gain customer insights. In 2011, Orbitz Worldwide launched the post booking satisfaction survey and a year later launched its Global Insights platform that highlights similarities and differences between countries. A year after that, the company launched the onsite intercept survey that has provided insight on what customers want to accomplish at

Get the full story at Loyalty360

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TravelClick and Travelport expand partnership

November 14, 2014

TravelClick, a global provider of innovative cloud-based solutions that enable hotels to grow revenue, has announced it has expanded its partnership with Travelport, a leading Travel Commerce Platform providing distribution, technology, payment and other solutions for the $7 trillion global travel and tourism industry.

The expanded relationship will allow TravelClick to sell advertising products to hotels for display to the 67,000 Travelport connected travel agency customers around the world. It includes access to key Travelport products such as Travelport Featured Property which offers priority placement of a hotel during a travel agent’s search, providing hotels with a clear, visible advantage at the point-of-sale. TravelClick’s product offerings continue to include Travelport Headlines, which displays hotel advertising directly on travel agency screens.

TravelClick is now the only company to sell both advertising and preference products on all major Global Distribution Systems and confirms TravelClick’s leading position as a media provider who can plan and optimize hotel media investments across all GDS platforms. TravelClick’s ability to sell advertising products on all major platforms will lead to smarter, more efficient media solutions for its hotel clients.

“Travel agents serve a unique audience and generate a higher average daily rate,” said Jason Ewell, Executive Vice President, Global Product for TravelClick. “Travelport Featured Property is another proven program that helps hotels to capture bookings from travel agents. TravelClick and Travelport have built a strong partnership over the last three years and TravelClick is excited to now offer all of Travelport’s innovative products.”

Niklas Andréen, GVP Hospitality and Partner Marketing for Travelport said: “Travelport has the largest inventory of hotel properties on any travel platform in the world. Of the 600,000 hotel properties we serve, over 500,000 of these are independents. TravelClick works with tens of thousands of hotels and crucially, has local, on-the-ground experts that understand conditions in their area as well as the broader hotel business. This makes them the perfect partner and I’m thrilled that we’re extending our already strong relationship. TravelClick will help us reach more hotels and in turn, allow them to increase their visibility on our Travel Commerce Platform through our new and innovative products.”

Related Link: TravelClick

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TripAdvisor eyes “huge opportunities” in Asia

November 14, 2014

With a new range of tools aimed at helping independent hotels and B&Bs compete with their larger chain-based rivals, TripAdvisor is tapping the deep well that is Asia’s hotel industry. And speaking with Travel Daily, the president of TripAdvisor for Business, Marc Charron, said that in terms of future potential, it has barely touched the surface.

“Only about 25% of the total properties in Asia are currently registered with the TripAdvisor Management Centre, which enables hoteliers to respond to their traveller reviews,” Charron told Travel Daily in an interview. “That’s just a tremendous opportunity for us to educate and get the word out.

“For Business Listings – and this may sound optimistic to you – but I really can’t think of a hotel that wouldn’t benefit from it. It’s your direct contact information – your phone, email, website address – on your listing page on TripAdvisor… It’s where [a hotel’s] reputation is being formed, where people are making decisions; and in some cases there’s a lot more demand on that page than there might be on their own website. So I really think of the Business Listing product… as kind of a no-brainer.”

Get the full story at Travel Daily Asia

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Research: Impact of multiscreens on the travel purchase path

November 13, 2014

Commissioned by Expedia Media Solutions and conducted by comScore, the study found that U.S. PC online travel spend increased nine percent during the first half of 2014, and mobile devices have had an increased impact on online travel content consumption throughout all travel stages and content categories. Today’s mobile travel audience is bigger than the PC travel audience, and six percent of bookings came from a mobile device, with smartphones accounting for twice as many dollars as tablets, according to the study.

U.S. mobile device ownership continues to rise, and with more travelers consuming content on mobile than PC, there are more opportunities for marketers to reach visitors across platforms and devices.

- Year-over-year tablet and smartphone ownership increased 36 and 22 percent, respectively; 33 percent of U.S. households have five or more devices in the home
Of the 156 million people engaging with online travel content, 104 million access travel content via mobile device, while 52 million access travel content exclusively on PC

- Mobile bookings span all lines of travel; air and hotel bookings combined account for nearly 70 percent

- Of those who booked travel on a mobile device in 2014, eight out of 10 smartphone and nine out of 10 of tablet bookers would do so again in the future

Year-over-year audience growth across travel categories surged on smartphone and tablets, and while mobile usage during travel planning stages increased, it has yet to overtake PC usage.

- The smartphone audience grew 39 percent, leading to a 60 percent increase in visits to travel information sites, and a 43 percent increase in site visits for both Online Travel Agents (OTAs) and hotels/resorts

- Tablets experienced 30 percent audience growth, driving up visits to airline and hotel/resort sites by 72 percent and 50 percent, respectively

- PC still dominates the travel planning process, with more than 80 percent of travelers using it to research, shop or plan for travel, but use drops to just 40 percent during the trip

- Tablets are used consistently across travel stages; 28 percent used a tablet to research destinations, up 10 percent year-over-year, and 24 percent to plan trip activities, whereas at 37 percent, smartphones are most likely to be used during the trip for travel related info than in other stages

Family, Budget, Luxury and Business travelers exhibit unique usage and booking habits across devices, however, PC usage remains high for all groups during the planning stages.

- Across all groups, at least 82 percent used a PC to research destinations; outside of the planning stages, 52 percent of Business travelers and 40 percent of Budget travelers used a PC during their trip for travel related info

- Luxury and Business travelers use their smartphones to engage with travel content pre-trip more than other groups; 40 percent of Luxury travelers shopped for air/hotel and planned trip activities, while 43 percent of Business travelers researched destinations

- Luxury travelers are more likely to book travel on a mobile device within the next year – 77 percent on tablet, 52 percent on smartphone – while 57 percent of Business travelers and 56 percent of Family travelers are likely to book travel on a tablet

- During the trip, 45 percent of Family travelers use their smartphone for travel related info, second only to Business travelers at 47 percent

Content consumption and engagement varies by platform, but travelers expect a seamless and relevant experience regardless of the device. Optimizations such as leveraging visual-rich content, responsive design and targeted ads can help drive mobile ad clicking.

- When using a mobile device to research destinations, shop for air/hotel or plan trip activities, at least 37 percent of tablet users and 34 percent of smartphone users said they used the device because mobile sites are easy to navigate

- Of the 104 million people engaging with travel content on a mobile device, 92 percent are using a mobile browser to do so

- Twenty-two percent of travelers intentionally engage with ads on mobile; 45 percent of Luxury travelers intentionally clicked on a smartphone ad and 43 percent of Business travelers intentionally clicked on a tablet ad

- Across both tablet and smartphone, the top reason for clicking on a mobile ad was because it caught the user’s attention; 47 percent on tablet and 44 percent on smartphone. Additional reasons for clicking included exposure to an offer, product or service the user was interested in.

Using these insights, brands and advertisers can integrate a multiplatform marketing approach to effectively engage key audiences across devices and throughout the travel planning process.

“Consumer experience has always been key to driving engagement, but the growth and scale of today’s mobile audience further illustrates the need for brands to implement a diversified cross-platform marketing strategy, and that includes mobile,” said Noah Tratt, global senior vice president of media solutions at Expedia, Inc. “At Expedia Media Solutions, we regularly optimize and refresh our offerings to ensure partners can effectively reach their audiences across all platforms, and this study identifies areas of opportunity for marketers to reach the highly-valuable travel audience across devices and planning stages.”

Download the full report at Expedia Media Solutions

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Hotels losing out on search engine advertising

November 13, 2014

The study found that while trademark usage by non-brand advertisers was less common on Google and Google Mobile, it was still high on other search engines, such as Bing, Yahoo and AOL.

“In this study, we weren’t looking at key words like ‘Hilton Chicago’, but just at the brand name itself, as well as variations of that such as misspellings. These are very core search terms that brands should be protective of, so we expected to see a somewhat lower number of OTA ads, and that’s generally what we saw.

“There was a very low incidence of OTAs advertising using the brand’s trademark on Google and Google Mobile, but we still saw quite a bit on other search engines – particularly Bing, Yahoo and AOL. It seems that hotel brands are doing some sort of monitoring on Google, but not necessarily on the others,” said BrandVerity’s Sam Engel.

Get the full story at BigHospitality and download the study at BrandVerity

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Airbnb and Hotels: What to do about the sharing economy?

November 13, 2014

The sharing economy seems to be going from strength to strength. The poster child of sharing, Airbnb recently had a valuation of $10 billion and reported revenue of $250 million last year. The company, which allows users to rent out their spare rooms or vacant homes to strangers, overtook 10 million stays on its platform last year and doubled its listings to 550,000 in 192 countries. This has led Fast Company to speculate that Airbnb would “usurp the InterContinental Hotels Group and Hilton Worldwide as the world’s largest hotel chain — without owning a single hotel.”

So just what does a hotel chain do to respond to the threat of the sharing economy? The publically stated sentiment, often appears to suggest that the brand is less of a threat than it may at times feel. Christopher Norton, EVP of global product and operations at the Four Seasons believes that their customers expect a “level of service that is different, more sophisticated, detailed, and skillful”. Richard Solomons, the IHG chief, considers it comes down to a matter of trust and safety. “We’re trusted because we’re highly regulated: If we open a hotel, we have food control, security, a building that is safe; if there is a fire in an Airbnb, you have no idea.”

And yet, the media sentiment around Airbnb continues to grow. Senior hires from their competitors are making them a more serious proposition, becoming a full blown hospitality brand by offering a more comprehensive end-to-end experience for customers. It’s looking increasingly like a gamble for the established brands that business as usual, or even adjusting the fringes of the proposition, will be enough to hold back the sharing economy sentiment.

Get the full story at Wired

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Why now is the time for hotel owners to leverage revenue management

November 13, 2014

Hard costs related to property insurance, employee compensation, health care, energy and brand-associated fees have all risen (in some cases dramatically), plus there is a downward rigidity associated with these costs. Since most of the RevPAR gains in recent years have come from the occupancy side of the equation, variable costs have increased disproportionately.

Perhaps one of the most difficult costs to quantify, and therefore the most alarming, is the cost of intermediation. Cindy Estis Green, CEO of Kalibri Labs, highlights this point by comparing the hospitality industry to adjacent industries in the travel space, "cost of customer acquisition for hotels is around 15-25% whereas airlines are in the 3-6% range and car rentals hover around 4-6%." She went on to say, "Several years ago, airlines were facing customer acquisition costs that approached 15% and they had near-death experience as a result."

Cost of Sale is a valuable metric, but this is not readily detected on today's P&L statements—it has to be fabricated independently and there currently aren't any industry guidelines to govern how this is to be accomplished. Complicating matters is the myriad of business models adopted by intermediaries which incorporate margins, mark-ups, commissions, listing fees, advertising trade, cost per action and cost per click (or some combination of the above) as their form of remuneration.

Get the full story at Hospitalitynet

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Hotel prices drop across Europe

November 13, 2014

The largest hotel price decreases can be found in Italy this month. Compared to October, hotel prices in Venice have decreased by 44 per cent to an average of £109 per night. The second and third largest prices drops can be found in Florence (down 32 per cent to £89) and Rome (also down 32 per cent to £86), respectively.

Also cheap this month is Spain, where prices have decreased in Barcelona (down 28 per cent to £84), Seville (down 23 per cent to £63) and Bilbao (also down 23 per cent to £60).

While European hotel prices have dropped this month, UK hotel prices remain relatively unchanged compared to October, but have increased in comparison to November 2013. The largest increase can be found in Norwich, where prices have increased by 20 per cent to an average of £110 per night.

Get the full story at hospitalitynet

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Hotels think small

November 13, 2014

In Manhattan, the microhotel playbook has been generating occupancy rates above 90% this year, the hotel companies have said. That is better than the overall average of about 85% in 2014, according to hotel data provider STR Inc.

Now, these brands are trying to test their formula by expanding into smaller, less central markets in the U.S. and abroad.

If they succeed, their presence could signal the birth of a new hotel segment that the global chains would have to contend with. But analysts said these entrants could face challenges when straying from their cosmopolitan roots.

Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal

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Webinar: Are guest satisfaction surveys still important in the age of social media?

November 13, 2014

In the next installment of ReviewPro’s free webinar series, we show you how to design, analyze and act upon guest satisfaction surveys (GSS), integrate them with review data, and use them to guide improvements throughout your hotel.


- Surveys vs. online reviews: key differences
- How to design surveys that generate high response rates
- How to compose questions that elicit the feedback you need
- Integrating GSS data with review data for a 360° view of guest feedback
- Analyzing feedback: quantitative vs. qualitative data
- How to use internal surveys to generate online reviews
- Q&A: your chance to ask the experts


- Peter Stack, Regional Operations Manager, Jurys Inn Hotels
- Daniel E. Craig, Founder, Reknown (Host)
- Tim Towle, Co-founder and Director of Product Development, ReviewPro

Date & Time: One-hour webinar on Tuesday, November 25th 2014 | 5pm (CET - GMT+1)
Click here to convert this to your timezone

A link to the recording will be sent to everyone who registers, so be sure to register even if you are unable to attend.

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CheckMate brings together hotels and OTAs to accelerate mobile hotel check-in

November 13, 2014

With the CheckMate platform, travel distributors can strengthen their brand by offering customers a more personal, convenient hotel experience. Travelers can check in online or on their mobile device before they leave home, communicating their preferred room, sharing the time they expect to arrive, and learning when their room will be ready. They can also discover discounted room upgrades and offers, and platform partners receive a commission on this commerce. And, when travelers arrive at CheckMate partner hotels, they benefit from an express check-in experience, eliminating the wait at the front desk.

"CheckMate is helping hotels and distributors strengthen their relationships with their mutual customers, extending service from booking through to check in," said Drew Patterson, co-founder and CEO of CheckMate. "Our deep bench of partners validates the need for an open solution that leverages mobile and helps OTAs, hotels and guests communicate better."

CheckMate serves as an important, neutral intermediary for mobile and online guest interactions. As a one-stop shop, the platform raises guests' experiences at all hotels, enable distributors to avoid completing one-off integrations with individual hotel chains. Distributors enjoy a share of the revenue created by merchandising in the CheckMate platform, and protections for guest privacy are core to the offering. The CheckMate solution is white-labeled, simple to implement, requires no downloads, and can be easily integrated within a hotel or distributor's native apps.

"Expedia is all about treating our travelers like people not transactions, and being their partner throughout their travel experience is a key way we can show that we're always there for them," said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Expedia, Inc. "The CheckMate platform allows us to work more closely with our partners to deliver the best parts of travel faster for our mutual customers so they can get the logistics out of the way and get right into the magic of travel moments."

"Communication is essential to our guest experience," said Denihan Hospitality EVP and Chief Customer Officer Tom Botts. "CheckMate helps us to drive incremental revenue by providing a unique channel to speak to directly to our guests who have booked through a distribution partner."

The CheckMate platform is open to any hotel distributor or travel software company, and interested platform partners can learn more about integration options and revenue sharing at our Platform Page at Hotels interested in the CheckMate platform can visit to learn how to take advantage of these tools.

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Three major GDS report booking growth

November 12, 2014

Sabre indicated third-quarter GDS bookings rose about 3 percent, with air bookings up 3.5 percent and non-air bookings up 0.8 percent.

Amadeus reported a 5.8 percent rise in travel agency bookings, led by a 6.1 percent increase in airline transactions.

Travelport reported total agency segments, including air, car and hotel, were up 2 percent year over year, with airline tickets sales also up 2 percent year over year.

Read also "Amadeus outperforms GDS industry in third quarter" at Travel Market Report, "Sabre’s bookings and profit increase" at Travel Weekly and "Travelport first post-IPO earnings show 2014 revenues up 3% so far" at Tnooz

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UK travel industry takes a trip to mobile social

November 12, 2014

By 2018, though, mobile will have surged ahead as the dominant platform, accounting for 67% of social network ad spend. This rebalancing simply mirrors a more general trend in the UK of social network users flocking to mobile. eMarketer estimates that there will be 33.1 million social network users in the UK in 2014 and 26.2 million mobile social network users - a gap of 6.9 million.

By 2018, though, mobile will have surged ahead as the dominant platform, accounting for 67% of social network ad spend.

More than the travel industry simply following a general trend, there's also a more specific shift under way, with millennial travelers particularly predisposed to mobile and social.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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November 12, 2014

It will provide access to more than 500,000 properties and combine hotel reviews with WAYN users social opinions.

WAYN claims to generate 15,000 travel opinions and tips daily and over 10 million visitors a month.

The site received investment from Scottish Equity Partners in 2012 and was originally backed by the likes of former co-founder Brent Hoberman, David Soskin and Hugo Burge from, as well as Andrew Critchlow and Andy Phillips from Active Hotels.

Jerome Touze, co-founder of WAYN said: “Providing a hotel search option to WAYN members is a logical step for us.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Study finds distance differentiates business travelers

November 12, 2014

The business tourism market is not homogenous, according to Professor Bob McKercher and grace Ho of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in a recently published research paper. The "filtering effect" of distance influences the tourist profiles and behavioural patterns of business visitors from short- and long-haul source markets. Focusing on in-bound tourists to Hong Kong, the researchers reveal that despite general similarities, the two types of visitor have different profiles and travel, activity and expenditure patterns. Knowledge of these differences, they argue, will be beneficial to hospitality and tourism enterprises and the local destination marketing organisation.

Knowledge about who travels to a destination and how they behave once there can be vital to the tourism industry. The researchers point out that one important factor influencing the profiles and behaviour of tourists from source markets is the distance travelled to reach a destination. Travel distance can act as a "filter", they write, because long distances effectively exclude certain people.

For instance, long-haul visitors are more likely to travel alone or with their spouses, whereas short-haul visitors are more likely to travel with relatives, friends and business associates. Offering a local example, the researchers note that long-haul visitors are more likely to "explore Hong Kong's cultural heritage", while short-haul visitors tend to engage in activities that reflect "rest, relaxation and escape".

There is, however, a particular type of travel that should be differentiated within this overall picture. Business travel is "fundamentally different" from pleasure travel, suggest the researchers, given its "non-discretionary nature" and because business trips are often paid for by employers rather than the travellers. Consequently, what the tourism industry knows about leisure travellers might not be applicable to the business tourism sector.

The researchers thus set out to "compare and contrast the profile of business tourists from short- and long-haul markets" to discover whether there are any differences in the behaviour of the two groups. If there were differences, the point was to determine "whether they can be attributed to the intervening effect of distance".

The researchers selected 14 major source markets for inbound travel to Hong Kong and classified them into short- and long-haul according to physical distance and air travel time from the destination. The short-haul markets were Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, and the long-haul markets were the USA, Canada, the UK, Germany, France and Australia.

Next, the researchers collected tourism-related information from the Hong Kong Tourism Board's Visitor Profile Report – 2010. The report is based on interviews with travellers leaving the city, and includes information on a wealth of travel-related items such as the places that tourists visited and the activities they participated in, the shopping items they bought, their spending patterns and satisfaction with their trip.

In a general sense, the distance travelled seems to have had a bearing on whether a tourist was likely to visit Hong Kong for business. The researchers note that only up to a quarter of visitors from short-haul source markets were businesspeople, with up to two-thirds visiting for pleasure. Yet there was a discrepancy worth noting: Japan and Singapore were sources of more business tourists than their short-haul counterparts.

For the long-haul markets, the percentages of business tourists increased to around one third of the total, but pleasure tourists still constituted around half, depending on the market. The researchers point out another two interesting discrepancies here. As Hong Kong is the first major northward destination for Australian travellers despite the distance, they tend to have profiles similar to short-haul travellers. Canadians similarly complicate the picture, given the number who visit relatives in Hong Kong as a direct effect of increased migration to Canada before the handover of Hong Kong's sovereignty to China in 1997.

Turning their full attention to business tourists, the researchers note that "while the profile of the long-haul business market is largely internally consistent, the profile of the short-haul business market is not". Short-haul business tourists tended to be in their early forties, but other characteristics varied. There was some difference between source markets in terms of whether these people travelled together or alone. Korean, Singaporean and Thai business tourists were likely to travel with others, but their Japanese and Filipino counterparts were not. There were also more women business visitors from the Philippines (40% of the total), but many fewer from Japan and Korea.

In contrast, long-haul business tourists tended to have a more distinct profile. They were older than their short-haul counterparts, with a mean age of 45, most travelled alone (from 57 to 62% depending on the source market), and there were dramatically fewer women among them.

Not surprisingly given the nature of the travel involved, the researchers write that few business travellers participated in sightseeing and recreational activities while visiting Hong Kong. For instance, across all source markets, less than 20% of them visited popular attractions such as the Peak Lookout and the Star Ferry, and fewer than 10% visited theme parks. Yet, "short-haul business tourists engaged in far more discretionary expenditure than their long-haul counterparts". These tourists visited theme parks slightly more often and were more active shoppers, with more cosmetics and leather goods bought as a reflection of the higher proportion of women tourists.

Long-haul business tourists, of whom only up to a third visited Hong Kong alone, seemed to see less novelty in their visits. They did, however, ride the Star Ferry more often and visited the Stanley market area more commonly than their short-haul counterparts.

In terms of expenditure per person each night for an average 3-5 night stay, short- and long-haul business tourists differed little, but there were significant differences in how budgets were allocated. Among the short-haul business tourists, hotel costs were only 30-40% of the overall budget, whereas shopping took up 40-45%. In contrast, the long-haul business tourists allocated 50-60% of their budgets to accommodation and 3-5% to entertainment. The researchers suggest that this discrepancy can be explained by the age differences in the two groups, with long-haul travellers more likely to be senior executives with greater interest in better quality accommodation and some entertainment.

Encouragingly, the researchers note that the business tourists from both groups of source markets were generally quite satisfied with their visits to Hong Kong. This is an important point to make because it suggests that if hospitality and tourism operators understand that business travellers are not homogeneous, they could develop targeted products and services. Hotels, for instance, could "consider the source of the tourist when developing in-house and in-room services". The local destination marketing organisation could also better target business tourists rather than solely emphasising meetings, incentives, convention and exhibition services. "Opportunities exist to increase yield through focused efforts that recognise differences between segments", the researchers conclude.

Related Link: School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

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More hoteliers opt for self-service check-in

November 12, 2014

Brands such as CitizenM Hotels, for example, have done away with the front desk altogether, opting instead for self-service kiosks in their lobbies. HTL Hotels, meanwhile, has been implementing mobile check-in processes with pre-paid bookings. The changes run the gamut, but it’s all a push to give guests control, sources said.

“They do everything themselves,” including pumping their own gas and scanning items and processing payment at retail outlets, said Eric Jacobs, chief development officer of North America for Marriott International, during a panel at last month’s Lodging Conference.

Millennials are driving much of this do-it-yourself mentality, he added. “Going in and checking in, they feel like they can handle this on their own.” “They don’t want to stand in line; they don’t want to meet someone else. They just want to get in and out,” CitizenM COO Michael Levie said during this year’s HotelsWorld Australia New Zealand.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Study: Search will dominate as digital budgets grow

November 12, 2014

The study -- U.S. Digital marketing Forecast, 2014 to 2019 -- points to search as the largest share, social media investment will grow faster than any other interactive channel. The growth should prompt some interesting changes in marketing such as introducing personal networks for promotion and commerce, signaling brand supporters, and making agencies realize the importance of marketing clouds.

In fact, the latest Forrester forecast showcases rising investments in interactive marketing during the next five years and outlines what this means for marketers. It's important to note that while interactive marketing will overtake television advertising in 2016, its pace of growth is starting to slow slightly. Forrester attributes the change to upward and downward pressures affecting projected digital investment.

Three factors will contribute to an increase in interactive investments through 2019 -- for starters, a recovering economy that boosts tech confidence, followed by more media for advertisers to buy and a marketer's ability to prove performance, which has become extremely important.

Get the full story at MediaPost

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Pegasus Electronic Distribution Services is purchased by H.I.G. Capital

November 12, 2014

Pegasus Electronic Distribution Services ("PEDs" or "the Company"), a leading global technology firm delivering advanced connectivity and distribution solutions to lodging providers and distributors, today announced that it has undergone a recapitalization led by an affiliate of H.I.G. Capital ("H.I.G."), the global private equity firm. This transaction will allow PEDs to further invest in its leading technology service offering and execute on its growth and expansion strategy. The current PEDs senior leadership team will be supplemented by Toni Portmann, a seasoned technology executive and frequent collaborator with H.I.G. Ms. Portmann will act as the full-time Executive Chair of the Board of Directors and Interim CEO until the remainder of the go-forward senior management team is put in place.

Founded in 1989, PEDs is the industry standard electronic distribution network used for facilitating electronic shopping and booking of hotel rooms. With connections to over 100,000 hotels in over 200 countries, PEDs has long term partnerships with the largest global hotel chains, leading Online Travel Agents ("OTA's), and Global Distribution Services ("GDS's). The PEDs platform is highly scalable, processing over 8 billion hotel booking inquiries each month and 45 million hotel bookings annually, representing over $14 billion of hotel revenue.

"This recapitalization comes at an important stage in our growth," said SVP of Sales John Owens. "The need for PEDs to strategically invest in the business to allow for increased customization of connectivity options, deeper and richer content offerings, and a wider array of value added products and services, has never been clearer. Over the past several decades, our customers have recognized the unique value proposition of PEDs' services, however the Company is at a unique inflection point at which it needs to address the changing and growing requirements of its customers. The added resources and expertise that the H.I.G. team brings to bear will help us meet this demand and continue to grow and expand."

Ms. Portmann added, "I am excited to be working with a true pioneer in the lodging electronic distribution sector and am thrilled to join the Company as the Executive Chair of the Board and Interim CEO. I am honored to have this opportunity to work with the Board of Directors, the company's executives, and the broader employee group to facilitate a renewed focus on PEDs' core competencies and drive long-term success for the organization."

H.I.G. also acquired a related Company, Onyx Payment Solutions (formerly known as Pegasus Financial Services), from the same corporate parent in April 2013.

About Pegasus Electronic Distribution

Pegasus Electronic Distribution (PED) is the single largest processor of electronic hotel transactions, delivering advanced and affordable connectivity and distribution solutions to over 100,000 hotels worldwide. PED connects hotels to crucial sources of business, facilitating over 8 billion shopping transactions for its clients a month. In addition to global distribution system (GDS) access and online travel agent connectivity, Pegasus also provides content and business intelligence to the hospitality industry. Pegasus Electronic Distribution is headquartered in Dallas, Texas and has offices in London and Scottsdale.

Related Link: Pegasus Solutions

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ADARA empowers hotel marketers to make better advertising decisions

November 12, 2014

ADARA, the leader in leveraging global travel data to drive future business performance, today unveiled its ADARA Magellan travel intelligence platform, which leverages more than 300 million monthly active uniques, five billion annual travel searches and 250 million annual travel bookings to provide a full view of a traveler’s purchase behavior. The new platform empowers marketers with the ability to target valuable customers, while delivering actionable knowledge that fuels programmatic media buying across multiple devices.

“Based on our deep technical expertise in travel and data, as well as our strong relationships with more than 80 travel partners, we’re able to help our clients design and implement targeted media campaigns that reach customers across the travel industry,” stated Layton Han, CEO, ADARA. “Through ADARA’s Magellan platform, we support brands with the knowledge they need to improve their decision making, personalize their marketing and reach customers across multiple channels.”

The platform’s self-service functionality allows hotel marketing managers to create a simple advertising campaign in less than five minutes, from audience targeting to creative design and deployment.

With mobile booking representing more than 25 percent of the travel market, ADARA’s Magellan platform enables more effective decisions on the best way to reach customers regardless of device. Based on where travelers are in their buying cycle, the platform aids marketers in understanding how to effectively leverage their ad spend in one channel to drive bookings in another.

“Our clients have asked us for a platform that allows them to connect with their customers using targeted messages derived from unique audience buying information across consumer touch points,” said Melissa Stein, vice president of product, ADARA. “ADARA’s Magellan platform supports better decision making through its ability to apply pertinent data against campaign converters to help marketers act upon this information through real-time performance reporting and analytics.”

Offering the ability to help marketers make intelligent, informed decisions about how to reach customers with the right messages at the right time across any device, ADARA’s Magellan platform transforms loyalty, search and booking data into a powerful advertising solution.

Related Link: ADARA

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Social Media 2.0: Rethinking strategies for hotel marketers

November 11, 2014

While a crucial source of inspiration and sharing within the broader booking funnel, Facebook has faltered in its capacity to drive direct bookings. But that does not mean hoteliers have abandoned social media as a distribution channel in general.

On the contrary, hoteliers are turning to social media standouts such as TripAdvisor and Twitter to test a new frontier in the bookings landscape, according to sources.

Nearly 50% of hotel companies have a booking engine or widget on their Facebook page, according to PhoCusWright’s “Social media in travel: Mayhem, myths, mobile and money” study. Bookings generated through the channel, however, are generally low, with 45% of companies surveyed saying they receive less than 1% of total bookings through the site.

“If you think of the way consumers use Facebook as part of their travel experiences, it is very rarely the last point of entry for them,” said Nick Ayres, director of social marketing for InterContinental Hotels Group.

Access the content online at HotelNewsNow or download the PDF version at HotelNews Now (free registration)

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How Expedia and push some users to more expensive hotels

November 11, 2014

The study, which analyzed both travel and non-travel websites, found that such price discrimination, while not widespread, was more prevalent on travel websites than on other e-commerce sites.

Travel sites, including Expedia and, also were more likely to engage in “price steering,” in which the order of search results were tailored so that some customers would see the more expensive options first.

Researchers conducted searches on 16 e-commerce sites, including those of six travel sellers––Cheaptickets, Expedia,, Orbitz, Priceline, and Travelocity––as well as non-travel sites like Home Depot and Macy’s. Travel searches focused only on hotels and car rentals.

Get the full story at Mashable and Boston Northeastern (PDF 717 KB) University

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Most mobile travel research and booking occurs on smartphones rather than tablets

November 11, 2014

Based on eMarketer's latest forecast of digital and mobile travel researching and booking, 128.8 million people in the US will research travel on the internet this year, or 63.0% of internet users. Of that group, 47.4% will do so via mobile. Meanwhile, 106.3 million people (52.0% of internet users) will actually book travel online, including 31.6% of the total who will book travel on their mobile devices.

Most mobile travel research - and booking - will occur on smartphones rather than tablets. More than nine in 10 mobile travel researchers will use smartphones to look up info this year, vs. 81.5% who will use tablets. The gap is much smaller when it comes to booking behaviors.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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