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OTAs see chaos when rate parity ends

July 03, 2015

The French Hotels Association claims that the Bill will promote discounting of hotel rooms by ending price parity. Instead the legislation gives hotels a "mandate" contract where they will control all pricing and availability for all online reservation platforms and online travel agents' (OTAs) sales channels.

Price parity, which allows OTAs to have access to prices as low as those available on hotels' own channels and ensures OTAs can remain competitive, is set to end. In its place is a licence for hotels to increase prices, which is being fast-tracked through the French legislature.

"There will be no price competition if hotels determine all prices. Hotels will unfairly favour their own channels for the lowest pricing and availability, which will substantially reduce competition and consumer choice. It will lead to higher prices as there are no incentives for hotels to discount if they can eliminate all competition across distribution channels," said Christoph Klenner, Secretary General of the European Technology and Travel Services Association (ETTSA), adding: "Control over pricing and the ability to restrict supply will undoubtedly lead to anti-competitive behaviour."

The "loi Macron" is set to cause chaos and legal uncertainty during the peak holiday season in August, when every hotel contract with an online reservation platform, including those without price parity provisions, will effectively be cancelled in the middle of summer immediately after entry into force.

"This Bill is being rushed through way too quickly. The French Senate has not given adequate attention to its negative consequences," stressed Mr Klenner.

The wholesale abrogation of valid and negotiated existing contracts is a dangerous precedent. The loi Macron is a signal to other industries that the French government does not respect the right of business and citizens to trust business arrangements that all parties have agreed to.

"This Bill promises to cause a nightmare scenario for online travel agents and hotels who will face huge legal uncertainty because overnight all agreements will have to be re-negotiated. This is an appalling situation for industry and consumers to face on the eve of huge summer bookings. Consumers may find that their ability to book French hotels online has suddenly vanished, seemingly without explanation," pointed out Mr Klenner.

Online travel agents created a revolution in opening global markets to hotels without them having to make any investment in innovation or capability. Hotels are now seeking to free-ride on OTA investments and legislate their pricing under the pretence that this will increase competition. It will lead to less investment in innovation by OTAs, and therefore less visibility for independent hotels in particular.

"This is an unsustainable situation where the consumer will lose out in the end," concluded Mr Klenner.

The European Technology and Travel Services Association (ETTSA) was established in 2009 to represent and promote the interests of global distribution systems ("GDSs") and online travel agencies ("OTAs") to policy-makers, opinion formers, consumer groups and all other relevant European stakeholders. Its OTA Members include Expedia,, eBookers/Orbitz, Opodo, Go Voyages, eDreams, and Travellink, which represent the vast majority of OTA travel sales in the European Union.

Read also " alarmed by France’s new hotel rate parity plans"

Article location: imposes its own rules for online distribution across Europe

July 03, 2015

The new terms of come into force on 1 July 2015 unless the hotel opposes to them.

As expressed by the European hotel industry at several previous occasions, this step of the rolling out of the conditions similar to as agreed with the French, Italian and Swedish competition authorities (and which are appealed at the court already) does not provide for a solution in restoring the entrepreneurial freedom of hoteliers of setting prices and conditions freely. With the current move, rather (mis)uses its market power to set the conditions on the market and to hold back or at least to put an additional hurdle to competition authorities across Europe to exercise an in-depth investigation of parity clauses applied.

Moreover, the new conditions, as sent to hoteliers in Europe, differ from those commitments accepted by the 3 competition authorities (being still subject to appeals), as these conditions do not explicitly cover ‘Availability parity’ as in the ‘formal’ commitments.

To the authorities of these three countries, has committed itself "to not enter into or enforce obligations that require accommodations to offer the same or a greater number of rooms, of any type, on as those offered on any other OTA, or as is reserved for the accommodation itself.” (paragraph 2.1).

However, in the new terms and conditions sets forth: „Accommodation agrees to give at all times (subject to availability) some availability for all rooms and room types and is encouraged to provide with fair access to all rooms and room types (including various applicable policies and restrictions) and rates available during the term of the Agreement (during periods of low and high demand (including during fairs, congresses and special events)).”

Furthermore, the new clauses also do not refer to the equivalent measures as agreed with the 3 competition authorities.

"It is not to one and only internet giant to impose its own rules to the market, which are already being considered anti-competitive at least in one European country. The European hotel industry hopes that, similarly to Germany, most countries’ authorities would still exercise in-depth investigations into the anti-competitive nature of any type of parity clauses applied in contracts between hotels and OTAs, as these new conditions are still regarded anti-competitive by the European hotel industry as well” commented the new situation Christian de Barrin, CEO of HOTREC.

In today’s meeting the distribution experts of the HOTREC National Associations agreed to continue their work towards restoring the possibility for hoteliers to provide directly the rates and conditions to their clients as they would like to, be it on 20th century (offline) or 21st century (online) channels.

HOTREC represents the hotel, restaurant and café industry at European level. This industry includes around 1,8 million businesses, of which 99% are small and medium sized enterprises (91% of them micro enterprises, i.e. employing fewer than 10 people). These businesses make up some 59% of industry value added. The hospitality industry provides some 10.2 million jobs in the EU alone. Together with the other tourism industries, the sector is one of the largest industries in Europe. HOTREC brings together 42 national associations representing the sector in 28 different European countries.

Read also " alarmed by France’s new hotel rate parity plans"

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Five key takeaways from this years NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference

July 03, 2015

The short- and long-term outlook for travel and tourism demand, both within the U.S. and around the globe, remains positive. Domestically, strong corporate profits continue to boost transient commercial travel and are finally beginning to revive the meeting and group segment. Meanwhile, a robust stock market and the recovery of wealth underpin strengthening demand for transient upscale and luxury accommodations.

Furthermore, lower gas prices and modest wage increases are improving discretionary spending among the middle class, with positive implications for overall leisure travel. Moreover, recent improvements in U.S. visa policies, along with increased international travel promotion by the U.S. government, are expected to bring more tourism demand from abroad. The great expansion of middle or so-called "commercial" classes of developing nations such as China, India, and Brazil should bring more travelers to international markets, including the U.S.

Guest preferences are altering the food and beverage offerings at hotels. Outside of the major urban markets, full-service hotel operations face a particular challenge. While beverage departments have potential to generate profits, food department deficits were reported to put some hotels in the red. This, among other factors in a changing hotel climate, has raised interest in select-service brands, as well as full-service "light" concepts such as DoubleTree by Hilton.

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

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Embracing the experiential traveler

July 03, 2015

Hotel owners and operators frequently talk about the importance of creating a positive guest experience. But aside from covering the service delivery basics, are hoteliers specifically adapting to the needs and wants of the digitally savvy traveler?

Changing this dynamic and elevating the guest experience requires additional industry focus on two specific strategies.

1. Embrace the experiential traveler

The first is to appreciate and embrace the wants and needs of the experiential traveler—a lesson learned from the popularity of Airbnb.

Hoteliers need to recognize the value they deliver to their guests is directly connected to the unique experiences they help facilitate. Experiential appeal is not an added bonus or a fringe benefit today; it is (or at least should be) the centerpiece of your service and delivery approach.

The experiential nature of leisure travel is precisely why it is so highly prized. Experiences are irreplaceable, living on forever in memories and forging powerful emotional connections to a time and a place.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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How to get more direct hotel bookings

July 03, 2015

Investing both time and capital into meta-search is one of the key tools hoteliers from across the global are using to fight back against the large powerful OTAs.

You have probably heard a lot about meat-search engines in past couple of years. It certainly seems like every hospitality insider and expert has been either talking or writing about meta-search engines. But what exactly is meat-search and how can it help you and your hotel?

Basically a meta-search engine brings together data from various different search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing, in order to bring a user the best possible search results. If that didn't make sense to you just think of a meta-search as a search engine inside a search engine!!

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

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Google announces use of Google Local Reviews in Adwords

July 03, 2015

Previously it was only possible to get Google Local review stars if you were using AdWords Express. Typically they would show if you had at least 3.5 stars and some minimum number of reviews. In the case of seller ratings that number is 30.

Starting today, ratings from your Google My Business listings are eligible to appear in ads with location extensions enabled on desktop and tablet. Local ratings make your ads more useful to consumers searching for local information, and can improve your ad performance.

To showcase your Google My Business reviews in your ads, make sure to have location extensions enabled in your account.

Get the full story at Blumenthalsl and Google

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Cornell offers sustainability measurement tool

July 03, 2015

Chong is an assistant professor at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, and Ricaurte is the founder of Greenview and an adjunct instructor at New York University's Tisch Center.

Chong and Ricaurte developed the benchmark ranges using aggregate input for 4,725 hotel properties from eleven international hotel organizations: Hilton Worldwide, Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Host Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, IHG, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott International, Park Hotel Group, PGA Golf Resort, Saunders Hotel Group, and Wyndham Worldwide.

For purposes of this tool, the hotels were grouped into the chain scale segments established by STR Global, and the tool also includes an overall measure for hotels in a particular geographic area regardless of chain scale.

"Our data generally represent full-service hotels, because the data for the economy and midscale categories is limited," Ricaurte explained. "While hotels at all levels can compare their energy, water, and carbon performance to others in their geographic area, we believe that the industry and its value chain could make good use of this data set, as well as gauge performance over time as a useful measure of sustainability progress."

The tool is an Excel worksheet that provides twelve full data tables on separate tabs. To see the benchmarks for a particular geography and chain scale, the hotel operator would select the appropriate location from the list of available geographies (those that have a sufficient number of hotels recorded), and then choose a segment from another dropdown list. With those selections made, the tool returns the statistical range of the location and segment's data. The benchmarks are for calendar year 2013, the most recent year with complete available data, and use the metrics of carbon footprint per room, per occupied room, and per area unit (either square foot or square meter); hotel energy use per occupied room or per area unit; and water use per occupied room or per area unit. A benchmark for HCMI carbon footprint for rooms and meeting space is also included.

Get the full story at Cornell

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5 OTAs shaping the travel industry in the Middle East

July 03, 2015

One of the youngest regions of the world with over 50% of the population aged between 18- 34, travel in United Arab Emirates is largely influenced by digital experience. Always connected and eager to research, millennials in the country have become trend setters in the online travel segment. Empowered with easily available information, they are forcing hospitality brands in the region to realign their marketing strategies according to their preferences.

A high spend market, OTA sales in the Middle East have reached USD$3 billion in 2014, representing about 17% of total sales. With 94% of the populating owing a mobile device, there is a clear shift in booking patterns toward mobile and tablet booking devices. Traditionally a last-minute market, the surge of mobile connectivity has also reduced the booking window considerably. Compared to the word average of 23 days, the average hotel reservation lead time for UAE is now a mere 13, one of the lowest. Online travel bookings, which represent 25% of all bookings in the Middle East, are forecast to grow in 2015 and 2016 to reach 36% by the end of 2017 when online revenue is expected to reach $35 billion.

In this article we list out five online travel agents who are playing vital role in shaping the online travel industry in the region.

Get the full story at eRevMax

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Expedia to change hotel agreements in Europe with regards to rate parity

July 02, 2015

The new agreements between Expedia and hoteliers in Europe covering the next five years will come into force on August 1 and the OTA said it will be contacting all hotel partners to explain how the announcement will be implemented.

Expedia insisted its current deals are legal, but says the new pan-European policy is in accordance with the single digital market in Europe being pursued by the European Commission.

In a statement Expedia said: “A number of European competition authorities are currently investigating rate, conditions and availability parity clauses in certain online travel agency agreements with hotels.

“Expedia has worked closely and constructively with these authorities and the European Commission and today announced that it is waiving its rate, conditions and availability parity clauses with its hotel partners for a period of five years in line with Clauses 1.1, 1.2 and 2.1 of the formal commitments offered by and accepted by the national competition authorities in France, Italy and Sweden in April 2015.

“The changes announced today apply to all hotel properties in Europe and affect consumers booking via Expedia’s sites worldwide.

Get the full story at The Wall Street Journal and Travolution

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Airbnb open to the idea of working with travel agents

July 02, 2015

He added: “We are all in the business of getting people the best experience possible. We want to know what people are looking for and what they want to get out of their holiday and then put together the best experiences. So the style is similar.

“The only friction I see is trust. The online currency of trust is your profile so if I request to stay somewhere people can see a photo of me, what I’m like and reviews from previous stays. How do you provide that personal touch for the person who is the host? But I’m confident that is a friction, not a barrier.”

McClure said he doesn’t consider Airbnb to be a threat to the traditional travel industry, but more an option in an array of options for people to consider including luxury travellers.

Get the full story at Travolution

Read also "Airbnb's growth doesn't scare Priceline at all" at Skift

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How approaches Russia

July 02, 2015

For international businesses, selling a product or service in a number of markets offers great opportunities but just as many challenges when it comes to maintaining the brand’s image, managing the company’s operations, and delivering the same options for users regardless of location. Monitoring, targeting, and growing business in a foreign market takes well-researched and executed businesses strategies coupled with a constant awareness of the Internet’s intertwining relationship with both cultural trends and economic developments on domestic and international scales. Many metrics of worldwide online behavior and connectivity are coalescing but are still distinctly defined by cultural differences, access to the Internet, and localized Internet behavior.

While certain aspects of business and more specifically marketing strategies can be applied worldwide, each market needs a bit of TLC to reach its potential. To better understand some of the ins and outs of this process from an expert in the field, State of Digital spoke to Michael Korkia, senior marketing manager at

Korkia has been at for the past five years in various marketing roles leading up to his current position managing the marketing for the German speaking region, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa point of sale and point of supply with key focus markets being Russia, Poland, Turkey and Middle East.

Get the full story at State of Digital

Article location: partners with Time Out

July 02, 2015

The multi-platform, multi-city campaign has dedicated hashtag #WingIt and is designed to give users the tools for on-demand travel and discovery of the best city experiences.

The campaign spans digital, social, mobile and print and will feature more than 20 cities across the US and UK including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, London and Manchester. Dedicated digital hubs will house a variety of inspirational content, including travel tips, competitions and destination reviews.

The campaign also spotlights US and UK bloggers and Instagrammers, such as designer/photographer Nathan Michael, Kelly Rizzo of Eat Travel Rock and Sheryl Luke of Walk in Wonderland, who will travel at a moment's notice using the app and will refer Time Out to navigate their destination cities.

Time Out readers also can take part in a competition called Guess the Destination, where a series of clues about an undisclosed Time Out city will need to be answered in order to win a trip. With the theme of spontaneity, winners must be willing to travel the following week, with complimentary arrangements made through

The print execution includes a multi-page cover wrap in the New York and London magazines, followed by branded editorial features focusing on travel and accommodation bookings made easy.

"As a great source for inspiration and recommendations, Time Out was our first choice for this campaign," said Pepijn Rijvers, CMO, "With our newly launched mobile app, meets the needs of impulse-driven travelers, enables mobile-first travel bookings and supports a thrill-seeking audience. We know Time Outers seek new experiences in their own cities as well as new destinations and constantly share news and suggestions with their peers. Time Out's adventure-seeking audience is fully aligned with's target demographic and the sheer breadth of compelling, quality content is perfectly positioned to help drive spontaneous trips and bookings through the Booking Now app."

"The Summer of Spontaneity campaign with represents a fully integrated print, digital and native campaign, and features a stellar line up of bloggers from across North America," said Chris Lauder, Senior Director of Creative Solutions at Time Out North America. This is a great example of what Time Out is focused on for 2015 and demonstrates the creativity and engagement that our hard to reach audience demands. We're delighted that being part of a global multimedia business means we can work with our colleagues in London to execute a multi-territory partnership on this scale."

With a main focus on Time Out New York and Time Out London, the campaign highlights Time Out's recent global expansion, now with 31 US properties including Boston, San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Austin, as well as UK cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Manchester.

The six-figure campaign follows Time Out New York's move to a free weekly publication in April 2015.

Users will be able to track all updates, online competitions and social posts from the campaign in one dedicated hub:

The campaign will be live on Time Out websites in the US (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, Dallas, Seattle, Miami, Atlanta, Orlando, Houston, Denver, Portland and Phoenix) and the UK (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Bristol).

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How iBeacons are transforming the travel industry

July 02, 2015

While it's still too early to tell how effective beacon technology is, it didn't deter travel brands from experimenting.

Brands like Marriott have rolled out a program called LocalPerks for customers to experience extra surprises and delights such as free wine and appetizers while staying at specific properties.

Starwood has also started a pilot program that allows guests to check in without needing to visit the reception desk, using their phones to enter the room in lieu of a traditional room key.

Get the full story at LinkedIn

Read also "The potential of Beacon technology" at TechCrunch

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Four Seasons celebrates Social Media Day with multiplatform tour

July 02, 2015

Four Seasons looks at social media as an opportunity to make a human connection with its guests and fans.

Although a single tweet did not suddenly cause the Four Seasons to jump on social platforms, a cold coffee anecdote is emblematic of the consumer behavior shift that occurred several years ago and has had a cascading effect ever since, according to an executive at Luxury Interactive 2014.

The travel sector traffics in experiences, which are ephemeral and prone to subjective, sometimes hastily conceived, interpretations that force properties to be active on social media to address complaints when they arise. In addition to fixing frustrations, social media also acts as a vehicle for hospitality brands to showcase the people making the experience possible.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Report: Attributes most important to travelers when booking a hotel

July 02, 2015

The study used heat-mapping technology to understand which attributes prompted hotel bookings in eight different travel contexts (business travel, family vacation, etc.). The study is available for free download here.

Findings show the complexity of the booking process. To be within a traveler's consideration set, hotels must provide basics like cleanliness and comfort, which are the self-reported most important factors in determining where to stay. However, when presented review "snippets" or excerpts within a booking scenario, travelers often choose a hotel based on other factors relevant to the context in which they are traveling, such as great WiFi for business trips or wonderful rooms when planning a romantic getaway.

"Hotels must understand what travelers want and need in a hotel when making their booking decisions," says Quadri-Felitti. "These self-reported important attributes like cleanliness and comfort are required for a hotel to be a part of a traveler's consideration set. Once a hotel becomes part of the traveler's consideration set by delivering on the "must haves," it can then focus on attributes that actually trigger a traveler to book."

Valuable findings include:

- The nine most important hotel attributes broken out for leisure travelers and business travelers (i.e., service, amenities, food, etc.)

- Details on traveler desires across six different leisure experiences and two different business travel scenarios.

- What family travelers and couples want most when choosing a hotel

"The attributes that influence travelers to book a hotel are closely tied to the context in which the person is traveling. For example, a hotel with great WiFi is a trigger for business travelers, while great food is important for those traveling with their friends," adds Margaret Ady, Vice President of Marketing at TrustYou. "By understanding these triggers, hotels can focus efforts to improve, optimize marketing, and leverage review content to best cater to its audience and ultimately increase bookings."

Download the full report at TrustYou (free registration)

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The state of Asian online travel

July 02, 2015

The rise of disposable income, high internet penetration, growth of mobile phones and the desire to travel have positioned Asia as the largest travel opportunity area in the world. eRevMax, the leading hotel online distribution and channel management solutions provider has released an Infographic – ‘The State of Asian Online Travel’ highlighting key insights on changing travel behaviour, online travel penetration, usage of mobile, last minute booking habits and social media usage of Asian travelers.

Based on various market studies, the infographic shows that 71% travelers seek recommendations from family and friends for a leisure trip and 44% watch travel videos for inspiration. 46% travelers in this region prefer to book online with most trusting OTAs over hotel brand sites. The online travel market in Asia is projected to cross $155 billion by 2017, a 200% increase from $78 billion in 2012.

The mobile market in Asia had witnessed a double digit growth in gross bookings from $3.2 billion in 2012 to $6.4 billion in 2013. With 3 in every 5 bookings coming from mobile, the platform has taken center-stage and now being considered as a separate channel for revenue generation for smart hoteliers.

The increasing ubiquity of mobile devices has empowered travelers to be confident enough of finding lodging option at their preferable rate at the very last minute. The infographic also shows that 70% of same day bookings are done on mobile and 29% book within twenty four hours of their stay. eRevMax suggests hoteliers to provide target based product offerings to reach out to the last-minute travel segment.

View the infographic at Tech in Asia

Related Link: eRevMax

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Google apparently manipulating search results

July 01, 2015

Google knowingly manipulates search results according to a research paper published Monday from several academics. The study presents evidence that the search giant sets out to hamper competitors and limit consumers’ options.

The paper lands as Google prepares to release its response to the European Union investigation, which rests on similar claims about Google’s comparison-shopping product.

The paper was authored by Tim Wu, the legal scholar and former FTC adviser, which is notable as he had previously penned a column in the New Republic saying that Google had successfully cleared a Federal Trade Commission investigation into search bias on its own merits, and not because of its lobbying prowess.

Now, two years later, Wu is making an about-face.

“When the facts change, your thinking should change,” Wu told Re/code about the evolution of his stance. “The main surprising and shocking realization is that Google is not presenting its best product. In fact, it’s presenting a version of the product that’s degraded and intentionally worse for consumers.”

He added: “This is the closest I’ve seen Google come to [being] the Microsoft case.”

Get the full story at Re/code

Read also "Google disputes report that it manipulates search results" at eWeek and "Google Rivals Score a Powerful Convert in the Search War" at The Motley Fool

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Mobile travel bookings lag in US, TripAdvisor says

July 01, 2015

Although that’s higher than the global average of 42 percent, its percentage of so-called “connected travelers” lags seven other countries, including Thailand, China, Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Spain, and Italy.

“Through travel apps, Connected Travelers are also finding their way around, looking for places to eat or things to do and reading reviews to make the best choice,” said Adam Medros, a TripAdvisor executive, in a news release.

The number of people who actually make bookings on their phone remains small, with most using it to plan other elements of their trip, the company’s data showed. Only 8 percent of people use mobile apps to make bookings, which is double the 4 percent figure recorded last year. And about 1 percent of travellers say they “usually” book on their phones.

Get the full story at the Boston Globe

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TripAdvisor links up with China’s National Tourism Administration

July 01, 2015

The plan is to extensively market Mao Tu Ying in China using the tagline “Experience the world through different perspectives.” Billboard and airport advertising will be used, as well as a social media campaign on WeChat.

Kaufer talked about Tripadvisor’s new approach to China in a medium-to-long-term context. He noted that by 2020 one in five international travellers will be Chinese, ramping up the need for dedicated content and reviews.

But Tripadvisor is also aware that Chinese travel patterns will change over time – most international trips are taken in big groups while people who are currently travelling independently tend to follow the same itinerary as the pre-packaged crowd.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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7 content marketing best practices for the travel industry

July 01, 2015

Here are seven key takeaways for travel brands to achieve content marketing success:

1) Truly understand your audience

During college, I worked for the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau, allowing me the chance to witness the tremendous amount of effort that goes into fostering a world-class travel experience. But it also allowed me the chance to hear firsthand what questions travelers were asking. What’s the best way to tour the city? What are must-see attractions? Where is the best place for a burger?

Content marketers should listen, too. Understanding your travelers’ habits, concerns, and interests is key for content marketing success. What questions are they asking? What are they struggling with? What information are they looking for? Use this information to drive the content you create.

2) Don’t talk about yourself too much

It’s easy to get caught up in your own story - Our airline is the best! Our hotel is second-to-none! Check out this awesome new feature on our cruise ship! - but consumers are quick to tune out this noise and self-promotion. As David Beebe said, “Content marketing is like a first date. If all you do is talk about yourself, there won’t be a second date.”

3) Map content to the traveler’s buyer journey

The traveler’s buyer journey is complicated. According to Google, travelers visit 22 different sites over an average of 9.5 sessions before booking. But as a means of simplifying, think about the buyer journey as answering your customers’ questions at every stage of their online research.

Get the full story at NewsCred

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Loews’ campaign features social media photos

July 01, 2015

Two years ago, Loews' "The Room You Need" campaign told the story through their guests. Now, they are letting the guests tell the stories themselves, a first for the hospitality industry, according to Loews Hotels & Resorts CMO Bruce Himelstein.

“What better way is there to tell the story of our hotels than real images captured by our guests,” Himelstein says. “The images they take during their stay convey their actual thoughts, feelings and experiences, allowing us to show future guests what it’s really like to stay at Loews Hotels & Resorts.”

The ads, which will be used in brochures and all kinds of collateral itself, draw from actual Instagram photos taken on Loews properties: a young banjo player in Nashville, a kid relaxing next to Portofino Bay swimming pool with cucumbers on his eyes, a gay Midwestern wedding are just three of them.

Get the full story at MediaPost

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St. Regis broadens content reach through digital magazine

July 01, 2015

Digital has transformed every product sector, but few are more suited to it than travel and hospitality.

Travel decisions necessarily depend on information from a distance. Traditionally, this entailed consulting travel agents or friends, reading about locations in travel publications or watching an interesting program on television.

All of these options called for consumers to relinquish control, putting their trust in an external source, which sometimes led to discontent if a trip soured.

Digital has drastically changed this equation by putting consumers back in the pilot seat, allowing them to pour through seemingly infinite content to devise their ideal trip and cross-check information.

To avoid being crowded out or overlooked in such an environment, hotel brands have had to hedge their positions with expansive digital content hubs and consistent online interaction.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Are you reaching the lucrative Connected Traveler?

July 01, 2015

In fact, our TripBarometer Connected Traveler report shows that more and more travelers are planning and booking travel on their mobile. Findings from TripBarometer, the world’s largest accommodation and traveler survey1, show that smartphones are now an essential travel companion. How prevalent is mobile usage for planning and enjoying travel?

Travelers booking via mobile apps has doubled since last year.
In 2014, 4% of TripBarometer respondents booked an accommodation using a mobile app. This year, it’s doubled to 8%. And for the Connected Traveler segment, that rises to 11%.

Booking lodging on mobile is becoming more habitual.
1 in 4 Connected Travelers who book their accommodation through a mobile app say they do so routinely. 1 in 5 say they booked through a mobile app because of the ease and speed. And 3 out of 10 did so because they felt they got a better price.

Booking travel activities is especially popular on mobile.
And it’s not limited to last minute, what’s nearby booking either. 45% of Connected Travelers use their smartphone to book travel activities pre-trip.

Get the full story at TripAdvisor

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ICG Software taps SiteMinder

July 01, 2015

"For our hotel customers who make the smart decision to integrate their FrontHotel PMS with SiteMinder's Channel Manager, this partnership means an opportunity to increase their revenue and also simplify the management of their online room inventory and dynamic rates. In fact, with the integration, there is little management involved as there is no longer the need for manual entry; the entire flow of online bookings is automated to allow hoteliers to go back to tending to guests, not to technology," says Toni Fontova, Area Hotel Manager at ICG Software.

"ICG proudly integrates with a number of online distribution providers, but SiteMinder's platform is the first to provide a complete two-way integration for our customers. And in an age of mobile and instant bookings, the reliability and speed enabled through SiteMinder's Channel Manager is crucial and unsurpassed."

Dai Williams, Managing Director – EMEA at SiteMinder, says, "SiteMinder is pleased to partner with ICG, a PMS specialist that understands the needs of the global hotel market. We are particularly excited for our mutual hotel customers who will reap the benefits of a wholly-integrated online distribution solution, to seamlessly attract, reach and convert guests."

SiteMinder is today's leader in providing complete two-way integrations for leading PMSs, integrating with a combined total of more than 100 the world over.

Used by both independent hotels and chains, ICG's FrontHotel PMS is specifically designed for hotels within multi-user, multi-property and multi-language environments.

Related Link: SiteMinder

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For hotels the time is ripe for experimentation

June 30, 2015

Any initiative to differentiate a hotel from the competition is on the table for discussion as the cycle moves closer to the peak, according to hoteliers attending the recent Boutique and Lifestyle Hotel Summit 2015.

At a leaders’ session at the conference, panelists said the time is ripe for experimentation, particularly as individuality, personalization and localization are firmly on consumers’ wish lists.

Creating further opportunities for differentiation is the fact that distribution is getting ever more complicated (and also more personalized). Hoteliers are mostly all making good returns as well.

There is room right now for a whole host of plausible ideas, panelists said.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Latest funding values Airbnb above hotel giant Marriott

June 30, 2015

Airbnb does not own a single hotel, hostel, or even a bed; rather, it makes its money by taking 3 percent of the transaction from the property owner, and 6 to 12 percent of the transaction from the traveller upon the two parties exchanging their services.

With a user base of more than 35 million travellers, Airbnb has said that its sales have surged from $250 million to $850 million in the space of two years, although no plans for an IPO have been announced by the company.

Airbnb's forecast $25.5 billion valuation will see the company join the ranks of taxi-service startup Uber, which is currently seeking to raise in excess of $1.5 billion in its next funding round to see the self-described ride-sharing company valued at $50 billion.

Get the full story at ZDNet

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Hotel firms invest in rivals to Airbnb

June 30, 2015

Hyatt Hotels is reported today to be among a group of investors to join a $40 million fundraising round for UK-based Onefinestay, which allows people to sleep in luxury locations.

Wyndham Hotels has taken a stake in London-based start up LoveHomeSwap, a subscription service that allows homeowners to swap their homes, according to two people familiar with the matter.

InterContinental Hotels Group announced digital initiatives in April including a partnership with, an Oslo-based group that offers tailored tourist guides.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

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Travelers say no to wearable technology

June 30, 2015

There’s no doubt that wearable tech like the Apple Watch and Google Glass has the potential to change travel in a big way, with abilities like keyless and cashless hotel experiences to the potential to sync with Bluetooth for a more hands-off experience. Wearables are also improving business travel, helping those on the road for work stay organized and fit on the road, not to mention the potential for one-click upgrades and instant bookings right from your wrist.

Airfarewatchdog founder George Hobica thinks it may simply be an instance of the general consumer being “gadgeted out with another thing to lose, another thing to worry about, to go obsolete and to keep charged.”

If you ask Paul Wilke, CEO of Upright Position Communications, it’s likely also because watches are generational, and the advent of the Apple Watch came too late to migrate traditional watch users to connected watches.

Get the full story at USA Today

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Luxury hotel brands look to round out Fourth of July plans

June 30, 2015

“Fourth of July can be a difficult pull for hotels,” said Taylor Rains, managing partner of Flugel Consulting, Charleston, SC. “It’s a big holiday but it’s a single day and activity-based.

“In order to stand out, hotels need to leverage what makes their city a unique place to be for Independence Day,” he said. “Be it fireworks along the banks of the Potomac River in Washington or the Boston Pops playing patriotic music in Boston.

“It’s then on the hotel to find a way to make that experience even more enjoyable for the guest. A picnic basket prepared by the hotel chef, for example. It may seem counterintuitive but, in order to stand out during the holiday, it’s best for the hotel to take a back seat to other more established celebrations.”

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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When to buy in or bypass ‘by chain’ taglines

June 30, 2015

Hilton is not the only company to do so. Chains with multiple brands under their umbrellas take different approaches to such endorsement strategies.

“We have learned over time how to leverage our powerful name as an endorser,” said Jim Holthouser, executive VP, global brands for Hilton. “We started with Homewood Suites. When we acquired it in 2000, it was a distant second in its category and struggling with distribution and awareness. When we rebranded Homewood with ‘by Hilton,’ there was a quick turnaround as developers became more interested.”

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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DHISCO partners with luxury travel start-up SuiteStory

June 30, 2015

SuiteStory, which has offices in the U.S., Latvia and the Netherlands, plans to launch this fall using new, interactive technologies to redefine how people search, discover and book luxury suites. The site will target affluent travelers who are more attracted to the experience of a stay.

“SuiteStory is an innovative new service designed to help our hotel partners increase their revenue by booking expensive rooms that often sit empty,” said DHISCO CEO Toni Portmann. “This is a great example of our commitment to supporting new ideas and technologies that connect hoteliers with the world.”

SuiteStory CEO Dmitrii Beliakov said the concept is to increase the sale of suites within hotel chains, which on average have a 30 percent vacancy rate. Hoteliers use many of their suites for upgrades and loyalty program members, but they often lose out on revenue that could be gained by targeting the right customers.

“Hoteliers can’t sell the suites because they are very expensive and not marketed correctly to include all the important extras that usually come with a suite, including club lounge access, free drinks and snacks and late checkout,” Beliakov said. “We chose DHISCO to power our site because it offers the richest property content for the largest collection of electronically bookable hotels in the world.”

SuiteStory will have an interactive website with rich content, including images that a customer can simply click and choose their preferences. The data will be saved, and the algorithm will direct returning customers to similar properties that match their preferences.

Related Link: Dhisco

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How To Evaluate Your Website’s SEO: Part 4 Of 4

June 30, 2015

The goal of search engine optimization is to help your website generate more organic traffic, reach more travelers and ultimately help your website appear on the first page of search engines.

Over the past seven years, I’ve worked with many different clients in a vast array of industries like travel, insurance, eCommerce, and franchisees to help them generate more organic traffic, improve conversion rates and learn best practices when it comes to search engine optimization – something which can be quite difficult considering how many times Google and other major search engines have algorithm updates and refreshes every year (estimated to be hundreds of times a year!).

Navigating the complex world of SEO can be tough which is why I’ve teamed up with Leonardo to provide some SEO resources for hospitality professionals like yourself – because when it comes down to it, there are basics that you can implement that can have a big difference on your website and your bottom line.

Get the full story at Leonardo

Article location: alarmed by France’s new hotel rate parity plans

June 29, 2015

The so called Macron bill - named after French Minister of the Economy Emmanuel Macron - prohibits OTAs from including any parity clauses at all in their agreements with hotels, and gives hoteliers the full pricing freedom - including offering lower rates on their own websites.

If accepted, the bill will basically render all current OTA hotel agreements in France invalid as early as August this year, and puts and end to hotel rate parity as we know it.

New agreements between OTAs and hotels will have to be formulated in a way that allow hotels to offer lower rates in any of their sales channels, including their own website.

What’s more, the bill also prohibits OTAs to offer lower rates as those provided by the hotel, giving hotels full pricing control within their contracted distribution channels.

Carlo Olejniczak, director for France, Spain and Portugal, told AFP (Google Translate version) that the new bill will result in intensified pricing wars between OTAs and hotels, as remains committed to its “best price guarantee.”

Quoted in (by subscription only),’s Managing Director EMEA said that in a world without rate parity many independent hotels in France will not be able to compete with the major hotel brands and search engines, and this will have a negative effect for tourism to France as a whole.

Read also " to amend parity provisions throughout Europe"

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Travel reviews lead in conversion

June 29, 2015

Online reviews help inform more UK consumers than ever. According to an April 2015 survey from GfK for the UK government’s Competition & Markets Authority (CMA), 54% of UK adults ages 16 and older used online reviews to get product or service information. That percentage would have been higher were it not for the less-digitally engaged over-55s - the two age groups below that cohort both saw response rates of 61%.

The study covered six sectors, and respondents were also asked if they purchased or planned to purchase a product or service after reading an online review, breaking down response rates by these sectors.

While online reviews were not all that likely to lead directly to a purchase or purchase intent, the category where such intent was greatest was travel and hotels. Of respondents who looked at reviews in this category, almost a quarter (24%) said they would buy or planned to buy such a service afterward. The proportion of those who viewed electronic items and then planned to buy wasn’t too far behind, at 18%, but the response rates for the other four categories were all well back.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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Airbnb-style listings top hotel rooms in Spain

June 29, 2015

Spain is the world's third most popular destination for tourists and the 2.4 million hotels beds booked in 2014 represented an important source of revenue for the country's still recovering economy.

But last year marked the first time the number of online bookings on vacation rental sites like Airbnb, which allows users to advertise their homes and apartments for short-term stays, was higher than the number of hotel reservations.

According to a study released Friday by Exceltur, an umbrella organization for Spain's leading tourism groups, last year Airbnb and the like listed a total of 2.7 million beds.

Get the full story at Deutsche Welle

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Travel groups form coalition to fight Lufthansa GDS charge

June 29, 2015

The Business Travel Coalition (BTC) has announced that in response to the Lufthansa Group’s (LHG) recently revealed policy to add a surcharge to tickets booked using a GDS, it has formed as a broad coalition of global stakeholders aimed at advocating for travel distribution system choice for travel agencies and their customers.

Currently there are 58 Founding Members from 10 countries with business or operations in 46 countries and territories. Members include consumer groups, corporate and university travel departments, travel agencies, travel management companies (TMCs) and travel industry associations, BTC said.

"The mission of is to elevate the public-policy discourse regarding airline industry distribution issues and to promote travel distribution system choice for travel agencies and their customers," the BTC said in a statement announcing the new coalition.

Get the full story at Travel Agent Central

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How luxury hotels appeal to millennials

June 29, 2015

Marriott’s partner in this endeavor, consulting firm Farenheit 212, believes that millennials can best be reached through storytelling that describes the value of product. They appreciate organizations that have strong connections to local communities and respect entrepreneurial talent.

Marriott decided to incorporate these ideas in their business a few properties at a time. The chain invited hotel employees and local entrepreneurs to submit concepts for select properties food and drink options to win 60,000 toward their project. Results: A pop-up bar and dinner joint with a picnic theme (RoofNic) in London, an artisanal cheese-and-charcuterie spot serving local beer (Craft + Culture) in Arizona, and a nightclub hosting international DJs (Square) in Dubai.

Marriott is not the only brand looking to offer a localized experience. Brands are using property-specific social media messages, image galleries, and experience guides to drive more bookings. User-generated content by guests is one way brands can use to showcase the experiences in their hotels.

Get the full story at L2

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The millennial delusion

June 29, 2015

If it wasn’t clear already, millennial values are American values, which is perhaps more obvious this week with the Supreme Court’s decisions around same-sex marriage, health care, and housing discrimination, which were significantly more in line with millennial thinking than with the baby boom generation.

Millennials are a figment of our imagination, a delusion of marketers and others who believe that the changes in our society are only applicable to a narrow group of people rather than our whole population.

They’re completely wrong.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

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Booking habits of mainland Chinese travelers

June 29, 2015

In a recent GfK study carried out among Chinese travelers, more than half of the respondents (52%) said they rely on their personal contacts such as friends, family and colleagues to get travel related information—the highest of all touch points—online and offline. Meta search websites and online travel agent websites jointly trailed behind in close second positions at 51%.

GfK conducted the Consumer Travel Tracker study in China in February 2015 to provide the tourism industry with a broader understanding on China travelers’ booking behavior for outbound leisure holiday. The survey was conducted among 1000 respondents who have made a travel booking in the last 3 three months.

“Even with the proliferation and growing consumer dependency on the internet for all kinds of information, the local norm of seeking information via word of mouth still prevails here,” highlighted Lawrence Liew, North Asia Director for Travel & Hospitality at GfK. “However, the growing influence of the internet cannot be avoided, as the other top sources of travel information are still online touch points.”

Get the full story at SMB World Asia and GFK

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How app developers design tomorrow’s online travel

June 29, 2015

Travel is widely recognized as a hotbed of innovation due to the close proximity to consumer trends – and today’s consumer behavior is changing rapidly.

Travel APIs and travel data are the keys to innovations in travel, historically both have been notoriously difficult to access.

Today, when it comes to technology, developers expect to get what they need instantly – they want to come and learn about different services and get immediate access to a sandbox environment and resources. REST-enabled APIs, which are easy to consume and optimise for modern development technologies such as mobile, also rank high on the developer’s list of requirements.

Get the full story at Travolution

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TripAdvisor adds private feedback option

June 26, 2015

TripAdvisor announced an extension to Review Express – accommodation owners will now have the ability to encourage recent guests to complete a private survey along with providing a TripAdvisor review. The new feature is a free add-on to the popular Review Express solution, which has now been used by over 100,000 businesses. Using the private survey tool in conjunction with Review Express will help small and independent hotel and bed & breakfast owners to easily collect TripAdvisor reviews and private guest feedback at the same time.

Launched in May 2013, Review Express provides business owners with the option to send a customised review request email to guests post-stay by uploading email addresses into the Review Express platform. Businesses working with one of TripAdvisor’s technology partners have the added option of setting up an automatically generated request two days after check out. The new private survey tool, developed as a result of feedback from owners, provides a powerful addition to this process, allowing businesses to gain more detailed insights into guest feedback.

TripAdvisor consulted with property owners to develop a list of key elements on which hoteliers would want specific feedback from their guests. This allowed TripAdvisor to design a suite of questions hoteliers can choose from to build a customized guest satisfaction survey of up to seven questions. Once a guest responds to the survey, the responses are available for owners to view and download from the Review Express dashboard in the Management Centre, providing businesses with actionable insights on operations and performance.

“Since launch, over 100,000 hospitality businesses, including 60,000 accommodation owners, have used Review Express as part of their post-stay communication strategy and the results have been impressive. According to our data, Review Express users see on average a 28 percent increase in their number of reviews on TripAdvisor, demonstrating how impactful the tool can be in encouraging past guests or customers to share feedback. With the levels of success we have already seen, it was a natural progression for us to add a private survey feature to the Review Express solution for accommodation businesses,” said Minesh Shah, senior director, global hotel partnerships, TripAdvisor.

“We know that both reviews and private feedback play an important role in helping hoteliers optimise operations and build customer loyalty,” continued Shah. “This is why we worked closely with business owners to create a free tool enabling them to gather valuable guest feedback in a simple and efficient way. The private survey extension takes the Review Express feature to the next level, helping small and independent accommodation gain additional insights from reviews by asking targeted, specific questions to identify improvement opportunities.”

Review Express private survey features:

- Free: product is free and available to all registered accommodation providers in all TripAdvisor languages across all points of sale

- Private: guest feedback results are only accessible by the owner and have no impact on ranking or rating

- Optional: owners can turn the display of the private survey on or off at any time

- Automated: businesses using a participating hotel technology provider can set up automated Review Express campaigns to include a private survey

- Easy and customisable: owners can quickly build and modify their own custom survey at any time through a user friendly drag and drop interface

- Impactful: results feed into the Review Express dashboard, where they can be used to identify actionable insights and be modified to report on specified date ranges. Results can also be downloaded by owners for further analysis.

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TMCs call Lufthansa’s GDS surcharge plan disruptive

June 26, 2015

“At a time when TMCs [travel management companies] in the U.K. are continually being challenged by the corporate travel buying community as to what value we add to their travel program and buying capabilities, this move by Lufthansa is a kick in the teeth,” Mike Jones, head of strategic bid management at CTI Corporate Travel International in Manchester, said.

“Equally, travel buyers may see more of their travelers falling out of policy and booking direct with the airline.”

The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) said it “recognizes that change in the marketplace, even disruption, can lead to positive outcomes for the business traveler and the corporation, but in this case the cost of disruption far outweighs the benefit.”

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

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Hutchison parts ways with Priceline

June 26, 2015

Parent company Cheung Kong Hutchison Holdings repurchased the equity interest from US-based Priceline Group, effectively bringing Hutchison Travel completely under its wing.

Hutchison Travel has two brands under its umbrella – the international OTA and recently rebranded, and full-service business travel management division, Hutchison Corporate Travel.

Despite the rebranding, Hutchison will remain unchanged in terms of management structure, business practice, day-to-day operations, office location, contacts, etc.

Get the full story at TTG Asia

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Cheapflights switches to meta model in the UK

June 26, 2015

Cheapflights bought the Danish metasearch specialist Momondo group in 2011 prompting significant international expansion which led to an £80 million investment by Great Hill Partners last year.

The new UK meta site promises users an innovative and enjoyable flight search service that will help users to simply find the best option by filtering out unwanted results.

It includes one-click filters, a 'Smart Value' rating displaying results providing the optimum balance between travel duration and cost, and results that allow a true comparison of costs when ancillary fees are included.

Cheapflights said this was aimed at addressing the “black mark against the travel industry” that is hidden fees and ancillary costs and to ensure the site is transparent and easy to use.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Marriott unveils new toolkit to help planners design, manage meetings

June 26, 2015

Planning a well-crafted, creative and inspiring meeting has become an art form with limitless possibilities. Marriott International hosts thousands of meetings every year and has drawn on the company's brand differentiation, expertise and talent to launch an industry first, Meetings Imagined, a new set of tools to help any planner design and manage the perfect meeting experience. No matter the budget, size, or location of the meeting, planners have more choices and concepts to draw upon than ever before.

"After thoroughly researching and analyzing over 40,000 meetings and events, we discovered that today's meeting attendees are looking for something that goes beyond 'a meeting' and creates an experience where people feel connected, inspired, and accomplished," said Brian King, Global Officer - Marriott Signature Brands & Global Sales. "Meeting planners and attendees alike told us a fresh and disruptive point of view in the meetings and conventions industry desperately needed."

Key to the new approach is, the first visual, social and collaborative website designed to change the way meeting planners plan, shop and buy meetings and includes:

- Marriott's Meeting Purpose Methodology: A proven process to help planners zero in on what's important for meeting success and to design the perfect attendee experience.

- The Inspiration Gallery: A stunning visual library with thousands of set-up, food & beverage and décor images to spark the imagination.

- Tips & Trends: Expert stories and articles with the latest trends in the meetings business that is continually updated with fresh and engaging content.

- Hotel Ideas: Easily browse by brand, country, hotel, meeting size or amenities and find exactly what you're looking for.

- Our Story: Pulls it all together for planners with Marriott's trusted expertise, industry-leading digital tools and hotel brands that support

- Meetings Start with a Little Imagination video: Brings to life Meetings Imagined and takes the planner through each step of the process – from defining the purpose of the meeting to how each element supports and enhances the experience.

Today's always-connected culture demands that meeting planners be plugged in too. Marriott gives planners access to digital resources that make their job easier:

- Meeting Services App: Connects planners with Marriott's event team before, during and after their meeting. Planners can make real-time requests for coffee refills, room temperature changes and tech needs from their mobile device.

- ResLink Direct: A customized interactive Web page that allows attendees to easily book their group rate online, provides hotel information and allows planners to add information.

- The Marriott Mobile App: It's the perfect travel companion. Marriott Reward members who book with the app or on are able to check in before they arrive; receive room-ready notifications; and enjoy an enhanced arrival experience. The app also reminds guests to check out, triggering a copy of their bill to be sent via email.

Related Link: Marriott's Meetings Imagined

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Geneva tops’s Club Sandwich Index

June 26, 2015

This year, the elevated report by - the CSI 2.0 - added three more hotel dining items to make the Index a more comprehensive indicator for guests to understand the costs associated with a full day of hotel dining in hotels worldwide.

- unveils expert tips on hotel dining for hungry guests
- South Korea emerges as the most expensive destination to enjoy a teatime cuppa, according to's elevated Club Sandwich Index
- Mexico City replaces New Delhi as the destination with the most affordable club sandwich
- A glass of house red wine in a 5-star hotel in Paris costs more than a club sandwich in 19 other cities, including New York City, Dublin, Sydney andBerlin

The Club Sandwich Index (CSI) continues to uncover the dining costs of hotels worldwide with its annual price barometer, the Club Sandwich Index. This year, the elevated report by - the CSI 2.0 - added three more hotel dining items to make the Index a more comprehensive indicator for guests to understand the costs associated with a full day of hotel dining in hotels worldwide.

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

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Worldhotels and Vizergy Digital Travel Marketing join forces

June 26, 2015

With Worldhotels representing a global hotel portfolio of 500 properties in 250 destinations and 65 countries, this new partnership will drive greater exposure for each property through strategic online marketing.

“Worldhotels has been an industry leader, providing outstanding sales representation and distribution to quality properties throughout the world,” says Vizergy’s founder and CEO, Joe Hyman. “Their portfolio is a mirror image of Vizergy’s target market: upscale independents in travel heavy markets. Our products and service offerings will enable these great properties to better compete online. Further, many of our current clients will benefit from Worldhotels international sales reach.”

The Worldhotels guest demands a truly authentic experience; each of their independent hotels reflect the local character of the surrounding area, with white-glove attention and impeccable accommodations at each location.

“We are strategically developing our portfolio to add new key destinations and reinforce destinations with high potential,” says Geoff Andrew, Chief Operating Officer at Worldhotels. “At our size, we need to carefully consider how we grow our portfolio. Our development strategy has to reflect our focus on quality over quantity.”

Worldhotels has welcomed 10 new hotels to its global portfolio so far in 2015, including three in North America, four properties in Europe and three hotels in Asia. More hotels will be joining the Worldhotels organization in the coming months. To become a member of the Worldhotels portfolio, each hotel must meet the group’s high standards for quality, and also must fit the strategic objectives of Worldhotels.

Worldhotels’ unique business model offers independent hotels and local hotel groups the exposure and strength of an international brand, but gives each of them the freedom to run their operations as they’d prefer.

Added Tom Griffiths, Executive Vice President Worldhotels, “We are pleased to bring an eCommerce solution to our member properties. Online revenue generation is key to optimizing revenues at traditionally non-branded properties and Vizergy’s platform gives our hotels a great online toolkit to drive Internet bookings. We also feel that Worldhotels brings significant value to many of Vizergy’s existing clients.”

Related Link: Vizergy

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Front-desk staff as a distribution channel

June 26, 2015

The front -desk team can decrease distribution costs by:

- Avoiding transferring calls off-site to the brand (or third-party) call center. Whether you are part of a brand or use a third-party call center, there is typically either a flat rate per call charge or a commission. If you ask most managers they will tell you that the front desk is only supposed to flip calls offsite when they are busy. However, being in the front-desk mystery shopping business, I can tell you for sure that calls are often transferred when it is not necessary to do so. Make sure your team is aware of the hard costs and also consider implementing a small incentive for every booking they secure.

(Note: If your hotel has on-site reservations this is also an opportunity, as experience shows that calls are often transferred unnecessarily even when the office is staffed. Ironically, instead of fielding calls they are often busy entering—or proofreading—third-party extranet bookings. Addressing this issue can save call center booking costs and also improve your call conversion, as on-site agents should be able to convert at a higher level than central reservations.)

- Encouraging those who are simply calling to double-check the rate they see on an OTA to book directly right now. Many of today’s callers state right up front that they are comparing a rate they see online. Being in the call-monitoring assessment business, I often hear real callers say something alones the lines of, “I just want to verify a rate I see online.” We also hear too many front-desk agents respond by simply stating the rate. Instead, train your team to go on and ask, “May I go ahead and secure that for you right now?”

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

Article location: to amend parity provisions throughout Europe

June 25, 2015

Today announced it will amend its parity terms with all accommodations partners in Europe by 1 July 2015 to be consistent with the binding commitments given to the French, Italian and Swedish National Competition Authorities ("NCAs") in April, and in line with its commitment to a new Europe-wide standard to keep competition healthy, driving value for consumers and hoteliers.

Since agreeing to the commitments with the French, Italian and Swedish NCAs, announced its intent to implement these commitments throughout Europe.'s decision today is a direct result of feedback from many European NCAs indicating that they would welcome implementing the commitments in their jurisdiction.

Under the new provisions, will abandon its price, availability and booking conditions parity provisions with respect to other online travel agencies. This will create an environment that supports increased transparency and competition among online travel agencies which will ultimately benefit consumers, as well as hoteliers, by encouraging properties to offer different pricing and booking policies (e.g. free cancellation, WIFI, breakfast) through different online travel agencies. will retain its "narrow MFNs" for prices and booking conditions which will ensure hotels offer the same rates and booking conditions on as they do through their own direct website, in order to ensure can continue to be a cost-effective marketing channel for partners and deliver transparency, choice and great prices for consumers. Under these new conditions, can continue to provide a valuable service to consumers that delivers transparency, access to information, choice, value and a seamless experience, and a valuable service to hotels by providing highly cost-effective marketing to help hotels promote their properties around the world, reach new subsets of travelers and fill their rooms to keep their businesses growing.

Today's announcement means that's standard terms will be the same for all of its European partners - helping to build a single European digital economy.

"The commitments agreed with the French, Italian and Swedish NCAs promote competition in a way that supports innovation and investment. We think that all of our European partners and consumers booking at European hotels should benefit from the commitments agreed to with the French, Italian and Swedish NCAs which is why we have decided to amend voluntarily our parity provisions right throughout Europe to be consistent with those commitments," said Gillian Tans, President of "We welcome and encourage fair competition and hope that our fellow online travel agencies follow's lead as part of a shared commitment to support best pricing for consumers."

With the implementation of the new parity provisions, will continue its Best Price Guarantee and match any lower price that may be found on another booking website. will also continue to innovate in the way it works with its accommodations partners to highlight and promote to its global customer base the best deals on the Internet.

"The Internet has revolutionized the travel experience for people all over the world who seek transparency, access to better information, great value and a better booking experience, as well as for hoteliers looking to grow their business by expanding their global customer base through new digital marketing channels," said Federico J. Gonzalez Tejera, CEO - NH Hotel Group. " has been an important partner for us and we look forward to continuing this partnership under the new terms." trusts that these changes will set the tone for an industry wide solution.

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Airbnb poses long-term threat to OTAs as it adds more hotel listings

June 25, 2015

Beyond discussions of adding chains like Hilton and Marriott, the analysts say they’re concerned about conversations of European hotels and bed and breakfasts “‘salivating’” over Airbnb’s 3% fee compared to other online travel agencies’ 15% to 25% fee.

Even with its current model, the analysts said Airbnb has more “intense loyalty” due to its sharing economy mindset and verification system.

“Airbnb has emphasized itself as a movement as much as it has a place to find a pad for the night,” the analysts say.

Get the full story at MarketWatch

Read also "Airbnb's formula for innovation" at

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MMGY study: OTAs out, cruising in, millennials driving travel growth

June 25, 2015

More Americans say they intend to travel this year and most leading travel indicators are positive, according to MMGY Global’s 2015 Portrait of American Travelers (POAT).

The 25th annual survey of 2,832 U.S. adults, the longest continuous survey of its kind in the U.S., also reveals an uncertain outlook for the future growth of online travel agencies (OTAs), a major comeback for the cruise industry, new insights into the preferences of millennial travelers, and who is helping fuel the growth in the sharing economy for travel, among other findings.

Only 58 percent of travelers surveyed said they obtained travel information from an OTA during the past year, down significantly from the 84 percent who did so in 2014. On the booking front, the survey found that among travelers who regularly seek information from an OTA when planning a vacation, only 13 percent typically book their reservations on these sites, down from 36 percent just one year ago. Respondents cited the main reasons for booking direct are that they will get the best prices by doing so (64 percent) and that they generally find it more convenient than booking with an OTA (67 percent).

Get the full story at Travel Pulse and MMGY

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Trivago’s UK summer travel trends 2015

June 25, 2015

Dubai is now the most popular summer destination among UK users for a stay of at least 6 nights. The Spanish resorts of Benidorm, Salou and Playa de las Américas remain popular, while holidaymakers are heading to NYC and Orlando in the States.

Hotel prices in the USA are significantly more expensive than last summer, with Orlando up by 25% and NYC up by 19% to an average of £221 per night.

Hotel prices in Europe are varied, with some showing huge YOY price hikes (Salou is up by 36% and Benidorm by 33%), and others significantly cheaper (Sorrento is down by 13%, Rome down by 12% and Playa de las Américas down by 10%).

Get the full report at Trivago (PDF 393 KB)

Article location: phising scam duping travelers

June 25, 2015

An individual was reportedly able to convince customers that they represented either or the hotel where they booked a stay through phony emails and SMS messages, according to an email sent to travelers this morning.

The notice, which stresses that credit card data was not compromised in the incident, goes on to warn users to exercise caution when it comes to clicking on links and transferring money to bank accounts listed in emails from the individual.

The site is encouraging users that may have been duped into giving their payment information away to contact their banks for further guidance. While details around the scam are slim, the company insists they’ve looked into the incident and reached out to those affected.

Get the full story at Kaspersky Lab

Read also "Expedia warns users about ‘unauthorized access’ of name, phone, email and booking info" at Bob Sullivan's blog

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Mobile pushes past desktop for ecommerce site traffic, mcommerce still minority

June 25, 2015

While conversion rates on mobile also trailed those on desktop, they had gained ground. Between May 2014 and May 2015, the average ecommerce conversion rate on tablets rose 7.7%, from 2.34% to 2.52%. Smartphones trailed tablets, with a conversion rate of 1.18%, but this was up a whopping 32.6% year over year, from 0.89%. Desktops saw their average conversion rate drop 3.5%, from 3.47% to 3.35%.

Results from April 2015 research by TimeTrade support the notion that mobile’s role is much smaller when it comes to completing purchases. When US internet users were asked about activities conducted via mobile device during the path to purchase, 61% said they compared prices, and 50% said they researched different products—with some of that activity likely taking place in-store. When it came time to buy, just 13% said they used mobile.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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Using online reviews to find your story

June 25, 2015

Leonardo recently hosted a webinar with Brian Payea, Head of Industry Relations at TripAdvisor, and Adele Gutman Milne, VP of Sales, Marketing and Revenue at Library Hotel Collection where we talked about using reviews to find your story.

“What other people are saying about you is so much more persuasive than what you say about yourself,” Adele said. So how do you capture those positive insights from guests? “We’re going to sparkle sunshine on all our guests, find out what pleases them and look in our reviews for any problems and fix them,” she said.

She suggested gathering your staff to brainstorm what you all envision for your property and what you want your property to be known for – and then work together to make that happen.

Get the full story at Leonardo

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Disrupting distribution

June 25, 2015

There is a complex range of channel managers, revenue management platforms, property management systems and central reservation systems, all existing to help hotels manage bookings. All understand the importance of accurate data and the need to continuously optimise its flow to maximise conversion. But while each serves its own interests within a maelstrom of rapidly changing technologies and fast-evolving consumer habits, GTA is gathering its tools and expertise to give all hotels the confidence to explore the opportunities opening to them.

We have widened the ways that hotels can welcome more customers through the strength of our people, our wide-reaching presence and the performance of our technology and innovations. Static contracts are today complemented by our margin agreements which make dynamic pricing and revenue management more possible. They let our hotel partners act on rapidly changing market forces, sell more room types and reach higher average daily rates. To date over 4000 hotels have taken advantage and have benefitted from an additional one million room nights.

We have completely replaced our XML interface for travel sellers with state of the art technology to provide high performance and stability when working with GTA. It all means that when suppliers give us great allocations, deals and more, we can push them to travel sellers – and travellers – around the world.

Get the full story at GTA

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How to more effectively target travelers online

June 24, 2015

While the travel sector lends itself to location based technology, there is one powerful strategy many brands are increasingly embracing: the combination of programmatic plus dynamic content optimization (DCO).

Programmatic plus DCO maximizes the opportunity to convert these in-market customers right before or during their trips. By combining machine learning algorithms and data-driven creative, advertisers can more efficiently and effectively position customized content and offers to their audiences based on demographic, behavioral, contextual, and geographical needs. In addition to tactics like "last viewed products," where products are shown to users based on prior history, rules can be set up to show an advertisers' hot deals or local promotions based on geolocation (which may change by the day, or even hourly, depending on one's travels).

For instance, a vacationer with a long road trip on I-87 in New York is likely to have a greater propensity to act on a mobile ad for nearby hotel with free Wi-Fi off the Thruway than seeing this ad appear on their PC at work.

Alternatively, if they were far enough north in the state and near the Canadian border, ads for a Niagara Falls boat tour that pops up on their tablet while reading the morning news would have more relevance and likelihood of converting. This sort of city-specific mobile targeting helps ad campaigns amp up their call-to-action and this level of targeting generally garners 30 percent better ROI.

There is tremendous efficiency in marrying price information in real time from a travel-related entity such as an airline, car rental service or a hotel global distribution system (GDS) with creative and type of ad offer depending on hour or day -- especially when the time of day often correlates to what Internet-enabled device a consumer may be using at that point in time, or how strong a need may be (e.g., is it lunch time or bed time?). By tailoring the hotel location or flight deal in an ad, for example, based on previous search history and location -- DCO helps make a targeted offer more efficient and increases conversion rates. This is especially true when paired with the granular targeting made possible with programmatic.

Get the full story at iMedia Connection

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TripAdvisor launches dedicated airport pages

June 24, 2015

Singapore’s Changi Airport is the first to be listed on TripAdvisor. The site will also cover other major hubs like John F. Kennedy International Airport and London Heathrow Airport by July, and list 200 locations globally in the coming months.

The new airport pages will be accessible on all 45 TripAdvisor sites in 28 languages. They’ll also be available in the site’s mobile app, which includes a ‘Near Me Now’ to help users spot amenities around them before take-off.

Get the full story at CNN

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Expedia’s take on what’s trending in online travel

June 24, 2015

Expedia's partnership with hotels generally has improved, says Khosrowshahi, as the company invested in the relationships and grown its businesses together. Expedia is going to be offering its supply partners more real-time data about consumer behavior on how they can improve their business, and "that'll continue to help improve the relationships. We're in it together".

As for TripAdvisor Instant Booking, Khosrowshahi says that's the type of transaction Expedia doesn't find value to participate in, but will continue to do business with TripAdvisor. However, the focus is more to invest in Trivago, which is the "fastest-growing global metasearch player out there".

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Starwood’s SPG links super guests with dedicated ambassadors

June 24, 2015

SPG is the hotel enterprise’s loyalty program, providing guests with an escalating array of rewards the more active they become. SPG is distinguished in the hotel space for its deft embrace of mobile.

“What makes SPG ambassador service distinctive from other concierge services is the personalized, one-to-one relationship our members develop with their ambassadors,” said Brad Olson, vice president of Starwood Preferred Guest, New York.

“As soon as a member achieves 100 eligible nights in a calendar year, he or she is assigned to a dedicated SPG ambassador who serves as their single point of contact at Starwood,” he said. “Our ambassadors get to know each member and their individual preferences, which allows them to proactively anticipate each member’s needs and provide a seamless travel experience.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Hotel amenities now on Google’s Knowledge Graph

June 24, 2015

Google is now displaying additional details about hotels and B & B in the Local Stack and Knowledge Panel.

It is not at all clear what source Google is using for this data although early money is on that seems to have embedded themselves into the booking tool. Several other oddities are that Google seems to have the data in the expanded Knowledge Pack but doesn’t always display it as in the Hyatt above. Note too that if the third listing displays the amenities they seem to get cut off in the main search result display.

The amenities also show up in Maps when you roll over the pin.

Get the full story at SEO Roundtable and Blumenthals

Read also Google's help document on Hotel Amenities that lists the various sources where they receive the hotel amenities information from.

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Mapping the travel marketing funnel with Google’s customer journey tool

June 24, 2015

The decision-making process behind a travel purchase must be among the longest and most complex of all consumer choices, potentially taking years and countless sources of inspiration before travellers commit to a destination, choose a provider and make a booking.

Understanding the customer journey to purchase and how it translates into the marketing funnel is essential to effective content strategy. We need to know where our prospects originate, which channels bring them into first contact with the brand and how they interact with our content and each channel over time until converting into a sale.

These are idealised concepts – each customer experience is unique and the funnel differs from brand to brand according to the product and the nature of the particular audience. But thanks to some number crunching and an interactive tool from Think With Google, Google’s consumer insights division, we can identify some macro trends across the travel industry and explore what they mean for wider content strategy.

Get the full story at i&i Travel Media

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HeBS Digital’s smartCMS Technology wins a Gold Stevie Award in the 2015 American Business Awards

June 24, 2015

The American Business Awards represent the nation’s most prestigious software-for-business awards program. This marks HeBS Digital’s third consecutive Stevie® Award and second consecutive Gold Stevie Award.

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

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

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Do larger image files impact deliverability of hotel email campaigns?

June 24, 2015

To find out, Ryan Solutions looked at 1,200 resort email campaigns sent to over 70,000,000 recipients over the last 9 months. Because this theory has been based on both the maximum file size of any one image as well as the combined file size of all images in a message, the team analyzed both concepts using open rates as an indicator of success in reaching the inbox.

In terms of combined file size, it does appear that spam filters are triggered once you reach a certain level, strengthing the case that some of the things we often assume about image file sizes and spam may not be as strict as we thought.

Get the full story at Ryan Solutions

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Two subtle OTA booking secrets to copy for your hotel website

June 23, 2015

Besides their massive global resources, online travel agencies (OTAs) rely on a potent and lethal asset to rein in millions of bookings each year: A powerhouse of stealth and strategic marketing tactics that push people to whip out their credit cards and book.

We’re all too familiar with the scenario:

A traveler uses an OTA to research hotels. She finds your property and is instantly intrigued. She wants to know more, so she heads to your website and likes what she finds. She plugs in her dates, looks at your rates. She mulls it over, going back and forth between the OTA site and yours. Then, books the room with the OTA.

Besides the obvious price difference, what makes her choose the OTA over you? It’s because OTAs are marketing geniuses, that’s why. They know how to push guests seamlessly through the booking process, giving them more and more reasons to book at every turn.

Get the full story at Media Post

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Motel 6 checks in 21pc conversion rate jump on mobile

June 23, 2015

The hotel chain teamed up with advertising agency Code and Theory to roll out the image-heavy Web site, which automatically adapts to all mobile, tablet and desktop devices. Consumers who allow the site to know their location can find and book a hotel room nearby with a few taps of their finger, and complete the one-step checkout process with Google Wallet.

“Based on industry data, we know mobile is king,” said Lance Miceli, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Motel 6, Carrollton, TX. “We’ve embraced a mobile-first strategy to all digital efforts, meaning everything we’re doing is designed with mobile devices – smartphones or tablets – first.

“This approach will elevate our digital business to mirror the physical improvements taking place at our more than 1,200 locations across the nation,” he said. “Motel 6 guests are now able to enjoy our new ecommerce engine built with an industry-leading responsive Web design.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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How airlines are trying to thwart air ticket sales through OTAs

June 23, 2015

Airlines are seldom happy to sell inventories through third-party online travel agencies (OTAs). The reasons are twofold. Firstly, airlines need to pay a fee to advertise their products on the OTA platform, and secondly, airlines can charge extra or sell features such as seats with extra legroom, frequent flier miles, etc. through their own websites, which is not possible elsewhere.

Many airlines, over the years, have tried luring customers to their own websites through features such as bonus miles, e.g., getting extra miles for direct bookings or discounts on promotional codes (used by airlines such as Frontier Airlines, Spirit, Qatar, Air New Zealand etc.). However, this eats into the margins for the airlines, and hence they are not too keen on these offers. There are yet other airlines who don’t list their fares with the third party travel agents, such as Southwest Airlines and Allegiant Air. Some airlines don’t go to that extent, but selectively remove fares from certain websites.

However, the recent measures about to be undertaken by certain airlines are much more restrictive for the buyers and more prominently, for the online travel agencies (OTAs). Lufthansa Group (Lufthansa, Austrian, Brussels, and SWISS) has decided to add an $18 fee for any bookings made outside their own websites, starting from September 2015. Instead of completely removing their fares from these OTA websites, Lufthansa is adding a disincentive for users to book through OTAs. Users might search for the best fares through the OTAs and then book through Lufthansa, but will the OTAs be quiet towards this discriminatory treatment? That is the question we need to ask right now.

Get the full story at Trefis

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Priceline downgraded, Expedia upgraded

June 23, 2015

Analyst Lloyd Walmsley downgraded the rating on Priceline from Buy to Hold, while reducing the price target from $1,425 to $1,325. Shares are trading at the high end of the historic range, despite the company's decelerating growth, margin pressure and rising risks from Airbnb.

"Priceline has a strong lead in hotels, superior execution and an under-appreciated strategic play in BookingSuite. But our proprietary analysis of its vacation rental (VR) bookings shows this segment adding an estimated 9ppts of int'l bookings growth ex-FX, without which core bookings growth would have been an estimated 19% y/y ex-FX in 4Q14 (vs headline +27% ex-FX)," the Deutsche Bank report noted.

VR may account for about 30 percent of the international bookings growth, excluding currency effects, in 2015. While expressing optimism regarding Priceline's bookings growth in the near term and better margin guidance for 3Q, Walmsley said there were concerns around sustaining growth.

Get the full story at Benzinga and Barrons

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Peninsula goes offline with hard-copy city guides

June 23, 2015

In 2012, The Peninsula Hotels drew attention to itself and upped customer engagement through three global efforts: the launch of Peninsula Moments brand campaign, PenCities online travel journal and renovation of flagship hotel The Peninsula Hong Kong.

Peninsula Moments is a print, mobile and online campaign featuring the hotel company’s commitment to customer service and PenCities is an online travel journal to create a lifestyle aspect. To add to that, the Peninsula Hong Kong underwent a $58 million renovation featuring advanced in-room technology meant to set new guest personalization standards.

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Marketing automation powers the customer journey - but most don’t know where to start

June 23, 2015

It turns out it’s a lot harder getting started than you’d expect. According to Jones, “There are up to 200 vendors in the marketing automation universe, and probably only 40 that really matter. The single greatest challenge users face when evaluating vendors is understanding the differences in functionality between them.”

Fundamentally, marketing automation refers to software designed for marketing departments to automate repetitive tasks. However, today it is just as much about coordinating and delivering relevant messages and experiences, regardless of channel.

More than two-fifths (43 percent) of marketers say that marketing automation enables them to touch at least half of the customer journey. Nearly a third (30 percent) of respondents say it is over 70 percent.

Get the full story at VentureBeat

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TravelClick wins 9 awards for website design

June 23, 2015

“We would like to congratulate our clients on this esteemed recognition and are delighted to share in their success," said Scott Koehler, Senior Vice President Product & Operations for TravelClick. “With more award wins for outstanding web development than any other developer for the hospitality industry, TravelClick continues to work with hotels to engage travelers worldwide through innovative design, superior user experiences and technology integration.”

The Communicator Awards is a competitive international awards program honoring creative excellence for communications and marketing professionals. The annual competition highlights the best in advertising, corporate communications, public relations and identity work for print, video, interactive and audio.

Get the full story at TravelClick

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6 guidelines for managing guest conflict and preventing bad online reviews

June 23, 2015

Here are 6 guidelines for managing guest conflict in a way that prevents negative reviews and leaves guests feeling positive about you and your business.

1. Manage expectations

Guests arrive at your door with expectations of the quality, value and service your business will provide. If expectations are not met, conflict can result.

Preventing conflict starts with setting realistic expectations of the experience you provide. Ensure that descriptions, imagery and other information on your website, promotional materials and listings on third-party sites are an accurate reflection of your business.

Get the full story at ReviewPro

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Top five trends in mobile travel booking

June 22, 2015

According to travel industry research authority Phocuswright, now that travel companies are catching up, with multiple apps and iterations under their belts, it's time for them to move beyond the basics.

Phocuswright's Mobile Travel Landscape 2015: A Multi-Region Report reveals five hot topics that are inspiring the next wave of mobile travel innovation:

- The Mobile Experience
- Deep Linking
- Payments
- Beacons
- Mobile Messaging

"The next phase of mobile travel is all about delivering a timely, relevant and customized traveler experience," says Phocuswright's research analyst, Cathy Schetzina Walsh. "That means understanding who the travelers know, what they like, where they are in the travel process and what problem they are trying to solve. Travel companies can achieve this by leveraging context, anticipating needs and empowering travelers to personalize their experience."

The popularity of mobile apps has created a new era of walled gardens, but there is increased focus on building deep links between apps to foster a seamless user experience and enable cross-app marketing and advertising opportunities.

"Deep linking can improve mobile search, make mobile advertising and marketing campaigns more effective and boost conversion," Schetzina Walsh says. "Over the next few years, deep linking will become an increasingly important element of the mobile booking funnel."

Related Link: Phocuswright

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Kuoni tour operating business sold to DER Touristik parent

June 22, 2015

The tour operating activities will continue to trade under their existing brands.

Rewe Group, which owns DER, is acquiring the right to use the Kuoni brand in Switzerland and the UK, while Kuoni Group remains the owner of the Kuoni brand.

The businesses, which employ 2,350 staff, will be run as part of the DER Touristik travel division.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

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Thomas Cook shoots for up to 70% web sales by 2020

June 22, 2015

Speaking at yesterday’s Digital Travel Summit, he said that while the retail network was important, and acted as a differentiator as it competes against the likes of Expedia and other online travel agents, it also “came at a cost”.

Ryan, who joined Cook’s Digital Advisory Board just over two years ago, added that he believed the company was still in “remission”.

He cited how at one point the company had 30 ways of producing content for hotels in 21 counties – meaning some countries were doing it twice. As a result, more emphasis was placed on sharing more content across the business.

Get the full story at TTG Digital

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eDreams Odigeo unveils new strategic direction

June 22, 2015

eDreams said non-flight business continued to drive growth and new chief executive Dana Dunne outlined a new six point strategy.

He said: "eDreams ODIGEO has built a successful travel business over the past 15 years and I am pleased to see today’s results in line with our guidance.

“However, the industry is fast evolving and challenging our business. To build on our success we need to act differently. “We have thoroughly assessed the challenges and developed a robust action plan with a strong and renewed senior management team to drive the business forward.

Get the full story at Travolution

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Expedia survey ranks Emiratis as top leisure travelers

June 22, 2015

The survey was conducted with more than 1,000 UAE residents.

As per the survey, majority of UAE residents (53%) take at least one business trip per year. On average, UAE residents take two business trips annually and spend roughly eight days on each trip.

In terms of frequency, Westerners travel most often for business, taking on average 2.7 business trips per year. This is closely followed by Emiratis, who travel on average 2.5 times per year for business. Asian respondents travel least frequently for business; averaging 1.7 trips per year.

In terms of length of stay, 47% of business trips are less than four days, 33% last between four to seven days, and remaining 20% of business trips last more than a week. The age of respondents also influenced length of trips. Respondents aged between 30 and 39 take the longest business trips, lasting on average nine days, while those aged between 18 and 29 years take the shortest trips, averaging six days.

Get the full story at Travel Daily ME

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Hoteliers to agents: We need you

June 22, 2015

That’s the message from executives who spoke with Travel Market Report at the annual NYU Hospitality Industry Investment Conference in New York earlier this month.

They all had positive words for traditional agents even as the overall tone of the conference continued to range from grudging respect to outright hostility for OTA’s. Here is a sampling of what the hoteliers said.

What agents do best
“If you’re traveling to someplace new, you do not want to rely on the internet; you want to talk to a human being. We have more calls to our call centers than ever because people want to talk to someone and that’s why travel agents will continue to do well. And we like that business because the commission is lower than what we pay to the OTA’s.” -- Eric Danziger, CEO, Hampshire Hotels

Get the full story at Travel Market Report

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Bringing retail to hospitality

June 22, 2015

At Sabre, we’re on a mission to help our hoteliers understand the full meaning and value behind the mindset shift of becoming a true retailer – which is all about delivering exactly what your customers want, when & where they want it.

“Hotel retailing” encompasses every digital touch-point that lights the path throughout your guest’s shopping & booking journey – and those hoteliers who get it right are the ones delivering truly unrivaled guest experiences.

No longer are consumers comparing retail experiences with hotels to other hotels – or even OTAs. Instead, they are comparing you to Amazon, Nordstrom and Gilt. The bar has been raised, and it’s time for modern hoteliers to take action.

Get the full story at Sabre Hospitality Solutions

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Vizlly FAQ: Are Vizlly websites search engine optimized?

June 22, 2015

Search engines take into consideration three basic elements: accessibility, relevance and usability. In other words, good SEO strategy not only aligns with the search engines from an accessibility perspective, but it also aligns with the user when it comes to relevance and user experience.

Question: Are Vizlly Websites Search Engine Optimized?

Answer: Vizlly’s built-in search engine friendly features and technology are focused on all three basic elements search engines look for as it relates to on-page SEO.


The accessibility of a page or website defines the ease with which a search engine can index it and make a determination of where it fits within the grand scheme of things. They rank these based on what they “see” on-page and what they “see” off-page. Vizlly websites are built so that search engines can easily “crawl” them.

Get the full story at Leonardo

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AccorHotels about distribution, new booking platform

June 19, 2015

Vivek Badrinath, deputy CEO of newly rebranded AccorHotels, is taking the company on a leap of faith into the digital landscape.

The former telecommunications executive (former deputy CEO of innovation, marketing and technologies at telecommunications company Orange) was charged on his arrival to the French hotel giant 18 months ago to revolutionize its distribution landscape.

He and his team are making headway, with the 3 June announcement the company was opening up its booking platform to independent hotels.

In a telephone conversation with Hotel News Now, Badrinath spoke widely of his company’s strategy of supplying more choice, value and incentive for customers to come direct.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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What can Marriott gain from TripAdvisor booking deal?

June 19, 2015

According to UBS, Marriott also was able to negotiate favorable terms, such as commissions on the lower end of the typical 10% to 16% rate that TripAdvisor offers "early adopters" to Instant Booking. OTAs often charge commissions of up to 20% of the cost of a room.

What's more, Marriott will get customer information from TripAdvisor on such things as emails, phone numbers and addresses for remarketing purposes, Farley noted. She said Expedia and Priceline do not always provide such information to hotel partners.

Other hotels participating in TripAdvisor's booking platform include Choice Hotels, Best Western, Carlson Hotels and Accor, Europe's largest hotel group.

Get the full story at Investors Business Daily

Read also "TripAdvisor adds Marriott to Instant Booking"

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Hotel chains that get the most hate on social media

June 19, 2015

Customers complained about charging for Wi-Fi, connection speeds, poor customer service, getting spammy phone calls and billing problems, according to the survey.

“Shame that @HiltonHotels still continue their rip off wi fi charges,” quipped Twitter user Paul Clayton.

Crimson found five hotel chains were runners-up to Hilton’s 17% negative rating. With negative scores of 14%, Marriott, Sheraton, Westin, DoubleTree and Crowne Plaza all tied for second place.

Get the full story at Fortune

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Lies hotel PR firms are selling

June 19, 2015

This is not necessarily to say that AHLA doesn’t legitimately care if some consumers have been wronged, but rather that they have additional interests, like the profit motives of their members. And based on their ongoing lobbying efforts, those interests could harm competition and raise prices for consumers.

In some cases relayed by the stories, individuals calling help lines were falsely led to believe that they were talking with specific hotels, rather than a third-party. That’s clearly not acceptable and, if it is actually widespread, should be dealt with. But most of the stories just featured what appeared to be simple errors of the kind that occur in any business. Given the millions served by the companies in question, some errors are to be expected.

Also being used to justify concern is confusion on the part of some users regarding whether they are using the website of the hotel or a third-party. But that confusion is most often likely a reflection of a lack of sophistication – particularly among the elderly – regarding the use of the internet and how to understand the results of searches. This is a problem, but not necessarily one for which reservation sites are to be blamed.

Get the full story at The Blaze

Read also "The pitfalls of booking hotel rooms online"

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IHG launches series of mobile and in-hotel digital technology pilots

June 19, 2015

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)ann ounced that it is trialling and selectively rolling out several digitally-driven innovations to provide a more personalised and interactive experience for guests. The announcement follows IHG's signing in April of a landmark agreement with leading technology-solutions company Amadeus, to develop a powerful cloud-based Guest Reservation System (GRS) – a first for the hospitality industry.

Michael Menis, Senior Vice President Digital and Voice Channels, IHG, commented: "We continuously gather insights from consumers, which enables us to research, develop, pilot and launch new ways of engaging with guests across their Guest Journey. The initiatives we are showcasing today are really exciting because they reinforce how our digital capabilities add value beyond the booking opportunity. They are an illustration of how we evolve our content strategy to stay connected with guests and develop more meaningful relationships with them."

IHG's digital initiatives draw on a mixture of mobile-driven and in-hotel technologies, allowing IHG to own the Stay experience and add value across other areas of the Guest Journey through consumer-focused propositions.
Travellers want to experience the destinations they visit in the same way a local would. We always look for ways to deliver compelling and authentic digital content across the Guest Journey that allows them to do exactly that. As part of this commitment, we are collaborating with digital travel service, Guests booking with IHG in one of more than 50 key destinations across the globe will be able to use to research and plan their travel, and create personalised travel guides to share with friends. The guides can be downloaded to's mobile App*, for use both on and offline. They include access to tips, insights and recommendations from hundreds of local influencers around the world.

IHG will begin directing guests to from 25th June, 2015.

Mobile Check In and Check Out
Our Mobile Check In and Check Out service gives guests the flexibility to manage their stay via their mobile device, including confirmation of arrival time and SMS notification of when their room is ready. It is in the process of being rolled out in our Americas region and will be rolled out globally over time. US-based IHG®Rewards Club elite members will have exclusive access to the service in the first instance, as IHG continues to link loyalty and direct booking with our most innovative services.

Mobile Folio
Mobile Folio is an extension of Mobile Check in and Check Out. It allows guests staying with us to view their hotel bill in real time on their mobile device, before receiving their final bill during Mobile Check Out, via the IHG App

Mobile Room Key Technology
We are testing new technologies in the US to support mobile room keys. These will give guests the opportunity to bypass the front desk when checking into their room.

IHG Guest Request
Swift responses to guest requests are essential to improving guest satisfaction. With this in mind, we are trialling IHG Guest Request, a service which allows guests to make a request instantly through the IHG App The App then uses a platform which logs, assigns and tracks requests, making it clear to hotel staff what the current status is and who is responding.

iBeacon technology
We are using iBeacon technology to drive even more personalised and meaningful interactions with our guests. Beacons placed in the lobbies and restaurants of our hotels recognise IHG® Rewards Club members using the IHG® App in close proximity. They then send information to the guest's smartphone, including personalised notifications and offers relevant to their stay. The pilot is being implemented in a selection of hotels in China.

IHG Translator App for Apple Watch
In March, we announced that key features of our highly-rated IHG®Translator App would be available for Apple Watch™, helping travellers make the most of their experience, wherever they are in the world. By speaking directly into the watch, or selecting from a range of pre-loaded common phrases, the app gives travellers access to on-demand translations from English into 13≠ different languages. This builds on the success of the IHG® App for mobile, which has received more than 4 million downloads+ since its launch.

*The mobile app is available to download for both Appleand Android devices.

IHG Translator Apple Watch App – available languages:

1. Castilian Spanish
2. French
3. German
4. Hebrew
5. Hindi
6. Italian
7. Japanese
8. Korean
9. Mandarin
10. Portuguese
11. Russian
12. Spanish
13. Thai

+As at June 2015

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Expedia, Tinder team up for travel research

June 19, 2015

The 2015 Foreign Affairs study was commissioned by Expedia and Tinder and conducted by GfK, an independent global market research company.

To collect the data, GfK asked 1,000 Americans a range of questions, including how early in a relationship they would consider taking an overnight vacation, which destination features they would prioritize on their first trip away, how willing they would be to vacation with a partner’s parents and where the most attractive dating populations reside.

In response to that last question, Los Angeles was the clear winner: most Americans (37 percent) selected L.A. from a list of more than 20 of the world’s most visited cities. Rio de Janeiro came in a close second (36 percent), followed by Paris (34 percent), Miami (32 percent) and Rome (32 percent). The “least attractive” dating population, out of a list of those same cities, was said to live in Istanbul (26 percent), followed by Seoul (25 percent) and Hong Kong by Seoul (25 percent) and Hong Kong (24 percent).

Get the full story at Expedia and the complete study at Expedia Viewfinder

Read also "A brief history of Tinder" at TechCrunch

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Strong leisure and group pace make waves to drive 2015 hotel performance

June 19, 2015

Average daily rate (ADR) is up 4.9 percent based on reservations currently on the books. Transient bookings (individual reservations made by business and leisure travelers) are up 3.9 percent year-over-year and ADR for this segment is up 5.1 percent. When broken down further, the transient leisure (discount, qualified and wholesale) segment is showing occupancy gains of 4.8 percent and ADR gains of 3.6 percent. The transient business (negotiated and retail) segment occupancy is up 2.6 percent and ADR is up 6.8 percent. Group segment occupancy is up 1.9 percent and ADR has increased to 4.3 percent, compared to the same time last year.

Get the full story at TravelClick

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Visual storytelling: Why it matters for you (with research and statistics)

June 19, 2015

Over thousands of years, our brains have learned to read without the benefit of genetics that exist for vision or language, thanks to the introduction of Egyptian hieroglyphics, the creation of the alphabet and the invention of the printing press in 1450.

In fact, today’s “digital brain” is able to skim through a deluge of information online looking for web pages that offer travel shoppers answers to their questions:

- Where should I stay?
- What’s the property like?
- Can I get a coffee nearby?
- Are there any special offers?

But by and large, accommodation providers respond to these queries with websites that place visuals on the back burner in favor of structured photos, blocks of text, and buried promotions.

In an industry that is innately experiential and visual, we should be able to do a better job of grabbing and keeping the attention of travel shoppers across all the platforms, channels and devices they’re using.

Get the full story at Leonardo

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How guests select hotels online

June 18, 2015

Eye tracking is capturing eye movements and converting this information into some form of analyzable data, explained Stephani K.A. Robson, senior lecturer at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. Robson was one half of the duo who presented research during a webinar titled “Consumer eye-tracking and revenue management,” which was presented jointly by Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, Hotel News Now and HNN’s parent company, STR.

Robson and her research partner Breffni Noone, associate professor at Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management, analyzed 32 people’s eye tracking patterns, all of whom had one thing in common: They were leisure travelers who had booked a hotel online in the last six months, Robson said.

The research team then sat down with participants to ask them questions about why they clicked on certain hotels and what played into their decisions. Robson and Noone broke down their study into two phases of the online booking process: the browsing phase and the deliberation phase.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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TripAdvisor adds Marriott to Instant Booking

June 18, 2015

Marriott International and TripAdvisor announced they are expanding their partnership and will add Marriott's global hotel portfolio to the TripAdvisor Instant Booking platform. Starting later this summer, travelers shopping for hotel rooms on TripAdvisor will be able to conveniently make a booking at any of Marriott's more than 4,200 hotels around the world without leaving the TripAdvisor site experience.

The agreement also signifies a strategic partnership between Marriott and TripAdvisor to introduce new customers to Marriott's broad portfolio of 19 industry-leading brands.

"TripAdvisor is a perfect partner for Marriott, both strategically and culturally," said Arne Sorenson, CEO and president of Marriott International, Inc. "Our new agreement demonstrates how the growth strategies for our two companies are aligned in the travel space."

"TripAdvisor has created a new distribution model that changes the game in the travel industry by addressing key concerns of hotel suppliers," said Shafiq Khan, senior vice president, channel strategy and distribution of Marriott International, Inc. "The result is mutually beneficial to both partners from a strategic and economic standpoint. Marriott's partnership with TripAdvisor will make it easy for consumers to book with our hotels, and allows Marriott to build a direct relationship with these guests even before arrival. The agreement also maintains our ability to control where the rates and inventory for Marriott's hotels are displayed. Our partnership will continue to enable us to offer the best benefits, such as Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards points to our customers who choose to book directly on our channels, including"

TripAdvisor first launched its Instant Booking platform to U.S. consumers in June 2014, with a gradual roll out to other international markets expected over time. The platform provides a more efficient hotel booking experience for travelers.

With Instant Booking, travelers may simply click on the "Book on TripAdvisor" button to initiate a reservation. TripAdvisor reminds consumers throughout the process that their booking is powered by Marriott and provides the traveler with links and phone numbers to contact the hotel's customer service associates directly. Unlike with other intermediaries, all customer support inquiries will be handled by Marriott representatives.

"We are excited to deepen our strategic partnership with Marriott International, an innovative hospitality leader," said Stephen Kaufer, president and CEO of TripAdvisor. "We welcome Marriott to the Instant Booking platform, which provides travelers with a new, simplified booking functionality and an opportunity for Marriott to expand its relationship with guests before, during and after the trip."

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Hilton finds upsell offers outperform urgency messaging

June 18, 2015

During the “Creating a Culture for Success: How Hilton’s Optimization Program Enables It to Meet Key Business Objectives” session, the executive discussed Hilton’s optimization initiatives, as well as tactics it has experimented with to drive sales. Members of its Hilton HHonors rewards program have also proven to be valuable consumers to target on mobile and on desktop.

“We did a major redesign across all of our sites about four years ago,” said Paula Sappington, director of digital optimization and customer insights at Hilton Worldwide, McLean, VA. “Once we were ready to launch it, we realized we needed to optimize almost immediately.

“Most of our customer base still books on desktop, but as we all know, mobile Web and mobile apps are growing.”

Get the full story at the Mobile Marketer

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Wyndham streamlines experience for guests on mobile via analytics

June 18, 2015

The session, “Transforming Engagements on the Digital Channels for Exceptional Customer Experiences at Wyndham Worldwide,” looked at how Wyndham leveraged IBM Customer Experience Analytics to optimize its Web and mobile experiences to strengthen customer engagement. The segment highlighted analytics’ growing role in helping marketers match strides with mobile-savvy consumers to assess the impact of customer engagement efforts.

“OpinionLab tells us where the issues are through the member comments,” said Summer Shelton, associate manager for analytics and insights with Wyndham Worldwide. “Tealeaf shows us what the issues are.

“What the member reports is very different when you watch the session,” she said. “Some things we’ve been able to improve are log-ins. Members tell us they have a really hard time logging in to our site and into our app,” she said.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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How digital innovation is improving customer experience in the airline sector

June 18, 2015

The customer pathway in air travel can be segmented into the following areas:

- Pre-travel - online reservation and online check-in
- Check-in, validation, baggage & security
- Airport services and 'passenger way-finding'
- Lounges, gates and boarding
- In the air
- Immigration and arrivals

Let's look at some of the more prevalent areas in chronological order.

Get the full story at Smart Insights

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Millennials experiencing digital overload

June 18, 2015

Aimia, a global leader in data-driven marketing and loyalty analytics, released new insights revealing Millennials are the generation most likely (44% more likely*) to permanently disengage with brands if they receive high volumes of mass generic email communications. The research, which dubs this consumer group 'High Volume Sensitive' found that Generation X had only a 13% likelihood of falling into this group.

The findings show that nearly three in five (59%) High Volume Sensitive consumers indicated that the volume of email communications they receive from brands overwhelms them. The results are similar for SMS messages (60%) and push notifications (62%).

"Millennials are the 'always on' generation, but it is a mistake for marketers to make assumptions about their communications preferences. Just because a person shares their details with a brand does not mean they want to be inundated with lots of generic messages," said Martin Hayward, Senior Vice President, Global Digital Strategy & Futures at Aimia. "Marketers must work harder to listen to individual customer preferences and tailor communications appropriately. Privacy, permissions and preferences are increasingly crucial elements of future customer relationships. Get it wrong, and High Volume Sensitive consumers are ruthless in cutting brands off."

High Volume Sensitive consumers will only engage if the content they receive by email, for example, is tailored to them. If it is not personalised and too frequent they will:

- Block numbers (80%);
- Close accounts and unsubscribe from email lists (84%);
- Delete apps because of push notifications (82%); and
- Unfollow brands on social channels (86%).

Additional insights from Aimia also reveal that a defining feature of the High Volume Sensitive consumer is that they have the same willingness as others to share their personal data. However, they are 2.3 times more likely to disengage when bombarded with large numbers of irrelevant messages.

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Get the most out of your hotel’s ad campaign

June 18, 2015

If you’re like most properties out there, you’ve got rooms to sell and need travelers to visit your site to make that happen. Reaching the travelers who are most likely to book a room at your hotel with an ad at the right time is a great start, but what about that ad will influence a conversion? Travelers visit on average 38 sites before deciding to book, so it’s important that you make the most out of every chance you have to get in front of them.

Sojern shares a few best practices to keep in mind when creating your ads to ensure you’re getting as many guests through your doors as possible.

Get the full story at Hotel Interactive

Related Link: Sojern

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SiteMinder solidifies presence in South-East Asia with Compass Hospitality

June 18, 2015

With an additional 15 properties under development, the Bangkok-based group says it has aggressive growth plans for South-East Asia, Europe and other regions and SiteMinder is a key driver to the expansion of its portfolio which currently comprises hotels, serviced apartments, resorts and spas.

"Compass Hospitality is delighted to have SiteMinder as its technology provider for market-leading online distribution. The success of our business' growth greatly depends on our ability to market ourselves to all travellers – not just those within our dominant markets of Bangkok, Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, but from everywhere in the world – and using SiteMinder's Channel Manager, we are now in a stronger position than ever to achieve this," says Tejinder Sidhu, VP Sales & Marketing of Compass Hospitality.

"In addition to the company's excellent local support, SiteMinder's Channel Manager provides versatility and strong integration capabilities to our existing channels – including Ctrip and TripConnect instant booking – and all these factors influenced our decision to switch from our previous provider. The platform also offers powerful features that are designed specifically for hotel group businesses, notably the enterprise dashboard, which makes it easy for us to manage all our properties through one central interface."

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has set a target of 28 million international visitors to Thailand in 2015, with China, the UK, the US, Germany, India and Malaysia featuring among the country's top 10 source markets for January.1 Meanwhile, over the next 10 years, Kuala Lumpur is aiming to double its tourist arrivals to 16 million with both the spend and average length of stay per visitor expected to increase significantly.2

Kevin Tatem, Director of Sales – Asia at SiteMinder, says local hotel owners and marketers such as Compass Hospitality, who now have access to global travellers, are poised to benefit most from these plans.

"SiteMinder offers a platform for hotels such as Compass Hospitality's to attract, reach and convert guests from all corners of the globe. In doing so, they can get booked faster online – to increase revenue at a low cost – while taking advantage of powerful data that provides full visibility to their online performance and the capability to forecast ahead."

Related Link: SiteMinder

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Look ahead, not back, to forecast demand

June 17, 2015

By utilizing only historical and current bookings, hoteliers may get a decent view of future demand for the next month or maybe two. But when very few reservations are on the books, it’s hard to predict much further out. Fifteen years ago, before we even had a name for online travel agencies, that was more than enough information to run a successful and profitable hotel.

In today’s competitive and complex environment, it’s not. Not when OTAs are using more sophisticated information to sell your hotel rooms and charge a higher commission. And not when there is a wealth of readily available data that can not only augment, but also improve your forecast.

It’s time to look beyond inward- and backward-looking data and better understand what unconstrained demand really is. It’s often defined as the forecast or number of rooms a hotel could sell if it had an unlimited supply of rooms. But to measure that, most hoteliers are looking only at the world of people actually purchasing rooms at their property. Unconstrained demand has really been measuring unconstrained purchases and not all consumers who are shopping and convertible.

Get the full story at Lodging magazine

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Travel marketers must leverage city-specific targeting

June 17, 2015

City-specific targeting is a strategy that is becoming paramount for travel marketers to tap, especially as different United States locations lend themselves better to certain types of messaging and offers. Consumer desires and behaviors vary from coast to coast, suggesting that more brands should use A/B targeting to discover the most effective mobile-optimized message to send to residents in cities to bolster return on investment.

“People are looking at how to target direct users, and they are going for age and gender,” said Sigal Bareket, general U.S. manager and co-founder of Taptica, San Francisco. “The location where the person is living was kind of overlooked.

“When marketers are taking this into account, it’s mostly global. It’s nothing relevant specifically to New York or San Francisco, so they usually overlook the goal or need to address people specifically in New York.”

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Luxury hotels add shopping experiences to guest packages

June 17, 2015

New York’s swanky Smyth Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel and a member of the Thompson Hotel portfolio, offers an insider’s shopping experience with Urban Zen, a philosophy of living by Donna Karen. Available to those who book the Urban Zen Package, guests will receive daily breakfast for two at the properties Little Park restaurant, a $250 gift card towards a purchase of $1,000 or more from Urban Zen as well as a private shopping experience and a full tour of the Urban Zen’s West Village studios.

The St. Regis in D.C. as well as Mexico offers exclusive shopping concierge services. At the St. Regis in Mexico City, guests can schedule an appointment with expert stylist, Marco Corral, who will compile style preferences and apparel sizes. Without having to leave their villa, guests will have the good fortune of having their closet fully stocked with a luxurious array of designer clothing. At the St. Regis D.C., guests can opt to have their closets stocked ahead of time with items from Neiman Marcus. Those who are interested in this ultra-luxe experience have to fill out a questionnaire their style preferences and arrive to a personalized wardrobe.

Last year, Conrad Hotels and Resorts debuted a seasonal guest package connecting guests to local cities and culture by offering an exclusive, luxury shopping excursion. For a two-night minimum stay, guests received a private chauffeured car in addition to a personal shopping escort, who guided shoppers through a one-of-a-kind selection of high-end retailers in the city of their stay.

Get the full stoy at Haute Living

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What Steve Jobs stole from Ritz-Carlton

June 17, 2015

The most visible innovation to come out of this training is the Apple Genius Bar--which is directly modeled on the concierge station of a large hotel.

But much more important--although less visible--is the way Apple emulated (and to a large extent was already in tune with) the most important part of a five-star customer service or hospitality experience: what I term the anticipatory customer service model.

The anticipatory customer service model can be summed up in one phrase. In fact, it has been summed up in one phrase, by the storied team that created the Ritz-Carlton experience: Anticipatory customer service ... fulfills "even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests" [emphasis mine].

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