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How Expedia’s CEO made $125m last year

May 02, 2016

There is one catch - in order to bank part ($1.4m) of his package, he must grow Expedia’s stock price to $223 by September 2020, up from $152 currently. This is considered a fairly modest growth, though the online travel market is currently a challenging one.

Since he has been at the helm of the company Mr Khosrowshahi has spearheaded enormous growth that has seen Expedia become one of the world’s largest online travel companies. It now operates more than 150 travel booking sites in more than 70 countries, including the brands Expedia,, Orbitz Worldwide, Hotwire, Travelocity and Wotif Group.

“Dara Khosrowshahi has been a transformational CEO,” said Expedia spokeswoman Sarah Gavin. “His leadership has elevated the company into a global leader in the online-travel market, and he continues to guide the organisation along a growth trajectory that provides extraordinary value to investors and suppliers, as well as to customers and employees and the wider travel marketplace.”

Get the full story at

Read also "Expedia quarterly loss to increase significantly" and "Expedia open to new business models with hotel chains"

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Expedia gallops on Trivago

May 02, 2016

In total, Expedia spent $6 billion acquiring companies in 2015, Benchmark analyst Daniel Kurnos wrote in a research report. Trivago - which Expedia acquired a majority share in, in 2012 - was a highlight.

Trivago revenue jumped 48% to $176 million and accounted for the second-largest chunk of revenue behind the $1.54 billion, up 32%, achieved in Expedia’s core online travel agency segment. Egencia and HomeAway brought in $110 million and $142 million.

“Trivago again achieved profitability, as aggressive spending drove 48% revenue growth while still achieving 25% contribution margins in Europe and 10% contribution margins across all geographies outside of Europe,” Kurnos wrote.

Get the full story at

Read also "Expedia quarterly loss to increase significantly"

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Travelzoo wants to become the alternative to Expedia and Priceline for hotels

May 02, 2016

Travelzoo, the New York-based deal publisher, has been building its hotel-booking and search capabilities over the past two years and claims 28 million members. The site, though, only offers a little more than 2,000 hotels, which is tiny compared with Expedia Inc. or Priceline Group brands, for example.

Speaking during the company’s first quarter earnings call on Thursday, CEO Holger Bartel said the company will begin heavily promoting hotel date-specific deal searches for new and existing members.

Bartel also said Travelzoo’s hotel bookings have more than doubled during the past year but didn’t offer specific figures, although quarterly revenue of $34.8 million is down nine percent year-over-year for the quarter.

Get the full story at Skift, Tnooz and Travelzoo

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Priceline CEO is out after affair, but should he be?

May 02, 2016

The truth is that many, if not most, executives are workaholics with little time for recreational activities outside of work and family. And while it would be nice if every marriage worked out, that’s simply not the case. As a practical matter, how in the world is a hard-working business leader supposed to meet the future Mr. or Mrs. if not at the office?

In my experience over several decades in the corporate world, that’s the reality of the situation. And sometimes, those relationships work out long term.

Where a lot of executives get into trouble is in the cover-up phase. When they’re trying to hide their activities and cover their tracks – as much for personal as for professional reasons – they sometimes breach other standards of conduct that make it difficult for their boards to trust them, going forward.

Get the full stoy at Fox Business

Read also "Priceline's ousted CEO and the 1 person you shouldn't date in the office" at

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US summer travel spend online to grow 5.5% this year

May 02, 2016

In fact, online spending for flights and hotels is rivaling numbers seen in retail during the peak online shopping days of the holiday season.

According to ADI's research, U.S. summer online travel spend on flights and hotels is expected to grow 5.5% in 2016, reaching $82.9 billion. Memorial Day weekend is expected to generate $3.05 billion, July Fourth weekend $3.22 billion, and Labor Day weekend $2.92 billion.

By way of comparison, Black Friday 2015 saw $2.74 billion in online sales, Cyber Monday hit $3.07 billion, and Thanksgiving Day topped out at $1.73 billion.

"Our data indicates a continuing shift to online travel booking," said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at ADI. "The fact is that Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day weekend periods are bigger than some of the big industry days in the retail space, and no one ever talks about that. This report is meant to raise awareness that these are very big spending periods."

Get the full story at Adove Digital Index and Adobe Marketing Cloud

Read also "2016 Travel Report: The Story Behind the Numbers" at Adobe Digital Index

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Mobile conversion rates for travel still languishing in the 2-3% range

May 02, 2016

Analyst Luiz Maykot says:

“People are using their mobile phones more and more for booking travel, but there is still a lot of room in terms of making those experiences more meaningful, and to get consumers to cross the bridge between just browsing and actually finalizing their purchases.”

Elsewhere in the analysis, Abode found that tablet bookings appear to have had their heyday for the time being.

Get the full story at Tnooz and Adobe Marketing Cloud

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What Facebook’s algorithm change means for hotels on social media

May 02, 2016

The first algorithm change puts a greater emphasis on engagement time, or how long people tend to spend on a given post. As a result, engagement stems from more than likes or comments on a post–it also now draws data that Facebook has been collecting on how long people spend on Instant Articles or clicked through its mobile browser. Now, Facebook can prioritize a user’s News Feed based on how long that user has spent on similar posts from an author or publisher in the past.

The second adjustment will reduce how often Facebook users see several posts from the same publisher in a row, a response to user complaints that their Timeline content is becoming repetitive and boring.

Facebook claims that publishers like hotels will only see a very small increase or decrease in traffic and that no significant changes are expected. In all, the social network states, the shift is a move toward quality over quantity and should reduce the amount of clickbait we see in our News Feeds. But, many publishers are already wary of Facebook’s algorithm, with some alleging that referral traffic from the social media giant to their brand websites has dipped 20% over the past months.

Get the full story at Revinate

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Weakening spring new reservation demand produces cloudy outlook for hoteliers

May 02, 2016

However, there remains some positive news, as 18 of the top 25 North American markets are still showing overall year-over-year increases in committed occupancy* growth.

“New reservation growth has considerably weakened over the past month,” said John Hach, TravelClick’s senior industry analyst. “The decline is more prevalent within the business travel segment and is now impacting overall transient demand. On the positive side, committed occupancy is showing an increase of 2.5 percent over last year, and there is encouraging group reservation demand in the majority of North American markets.”

Get the full story at TravelClick

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Expedia open to new business models with hotel chains

April 29, 2016

In meeting new challenges, Khosrowshahi said Expedia wants to be flexible in working with partners and therefore is experimenting with these new business models.

Those hotel chains that “play well with us” will build great partnerships, and those that don’t will risk losing share and audience on Expedia sites, said Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi during the company’s first quarter earnings call April 28.

On the link-offs of customers from Expedia to hotel sites, Khosrowshahi said metasearch sites such as TripAdvisor and Expedia’s own Trivago have been doing this for years.

Get the full story at Skift

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Expedia quarterly loss to increase significantly

April 29, 2016

Expedia’s stock price rocketed nearly 14 percent in after-hours trading Thursday after it reported quarterly earnings that pleased investors.

The Bellevue online travel company reported its revenue grew 39 percent to $1.9 billion, largely a result of the company’s expanding portfolio of acquisitions. Expedia bought rival Orbitz last year and snagged HomeAway, an Airbnb competitor, in December.

Analysts expected Expedia to report revenue of $1.84 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

Get the full story at The Seattle Times

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Priceline CEO leaving over relationship with employee

April 29, 2016

The employee was not under Huston's direct supervision, Priceline said. But a company investigation found the relationship still violated Priceline's code of conduct.

Huston "acknowledged" the relationship and "expressed regret," Priceline said. It declined to provide more details about the relationship.

Jeffery Boyd, who led the company from 2002 to 2013, will replace Huston as interim CEO while Price-line looks for a new leader. Huston also resigned as CEO of, the group's largest unit.

"This resignation was not related in any way to the company's operational performance or financial condition," Leslie Cafferty, a spokeswoman for Priceline, said in an email. There were no issues related to accounting or financial reporting, she said.

Get the full story at Bloomberg News

Read also "Darren Huston's Resignation From Priceline Is A 'Huge Loss'" at Benzinga and "Priceline CEO's resignation could be a buying opportunity" at The Street, and "Priceline’s former CEO did something naughty enough to not get severance" at MarketWatch

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Sabre revenue climbs 21% in Q1, continues to digest Trust International acquisition

April 29, 2016

In Europe, Middle East and Africa, the company had a “a terrific gain” in share in the first quarter, the company said. In APAC it saw a “return to growth”, and in Latin America, it had a modest gain in market share. In North America it claimed low single-digit market share gains. Its GDS market share average globally was 37%, it said.

Sabre continues to digest Trust International, its acquisition announced in November 2015. This acquisition will increase the geographic coverage Sabre can sell its hospitality software to, the company said.

The company believes it has real product differentiation in its central reservation system business from competitors and expects growth across hotel companies of all sizes.

Get the full story at Tnooz

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TUI sells Hotelbeds business for $1.3 billion

April 29, 2016

TUI put its Hotelbeds unit, which sells hotels rooms to wholesale customers such as travel agencies and tour operators, up for sale because it did not fit with its other tour operating, cruise and hotel businesses.

Hotelbeds is the largest business globally of its kind with a market share of six percent. Headquartered in Palma de Mallorca, it reported turnover of 1.06 billion euros and underlying EBITA of 69 million in the year to end September 2015.

Cinven and CPPIB will back the existing management team and share governance of the business equally, said Shane Feeney, Head of Direct Private Equity at CPPIB, adding that he expected to use Hotelbeds as a platform for future purchases.

Get the full story at Reuters

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M-Commerce and youth feed China’s outbound travel boom

April 29, 2016

Chinese travelers are relatively inexperienced with overseas trips, but thanks to decades of increasing prosperity, along with the recent easing of visa restrictions, they are making up for lost time. If recent adverse economic events have Mainland households protecting their savings, overseas travel does not seem to be the first budget item to be trimmed, according to a new report from travel industry research authority, Phocuswright. Chinese travelers spent US$205.7 billion, or ¥1.3 trillion, on outbound trips in 2015.

China Unbounded: The Rapid Rise of China's Outbound Millions is a first-of-its-kind look at Chinese travelers' shopping habits and travel preferences, based on a recent Phocuswright survey of more than 3,000 who took outbound trips in 2015. As they explore further from home, mobile has quickly become the platform of choice, thanks to the country's well-developed travel m-commerce marketplace and to the influence of young, tech-savvy consumers.

The steady growth of Chinese outbound travel is also bolstered by a rich digital environment of travel providers. These travelers are bringing their mobile-savvy habits with them when they search, shop and buy outbound travel products. Mobile is used widely, regardless of the distance traveled and whether trips are booked piecemeal or as a package.

Get the full story at Phocuswright

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HSMAI: Come for ROC, leave with your certification

April 29, 2016

By taking part and passing the exam on site, you can receive your Certified Revenue Management Executive (CRME) or Certified Hospitality Digital Marketer (CHDM) credentials.

As revenue management in the hospitality industry continues to grow as an art and a science, you can confirm and demonstrate your knowledge, experience, and capabilities in the field by earning HSMAI’s Certified Revenue Management Executive (CRME) certification - now celebrating it's 10th anniversary!

Back by popular demand, this face-to-face course is for candidates pursuing the CRME and course reviews the key concepts covered in the certification study guide. It is a great last “cram session” before the certification exam. Participants have the opportunity to take the CRME exam onsite immediately following the review course.

For more information and registration go to HSMAI

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HeBS Digital’s website for Tsogo Sun receives Webby Awards distinction

April 29, 2016

HeBS Digital, a leading hotel digital technology, full-service digital marketing and website revenue optimization consulting firm conceptualized, designed and developed the new website for Tsogo Sun, Africa’s premier gaming, hotel and entertainment group.

Hailed as the “Internet’s highest honor” by The New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international awards program, honoring excellence on the Internet. The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS), which nominates, selects andWebby_Honoree1 presents the awards, comprises Web industry experts from a variety of verticals.

“Honorees like Tsogo Sun are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet,” said David-Michel Davies, Executive Director of The Webby Awards. “It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the nearly 13,000 entries we received this year.”

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

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Hilton sees gains from direct booking initiative

April 28, 2016

"We have global scale in a business where scale matters and are using it to drive a more direct relationship with all of our customers," CEO Christopher Nassetta said during the company's quarterly earnings call on Wednesday. "The business we received through web direct is higher than it's ever been and is growing faster than ever, thanks to increasing share shift. The share of web direct channels in our distribution mix is growing five times that of the [online travel agency] share of growth in the quarter." Nassetta said HHonors enrollment since the launch of its direct booking campaign increased almost 90 percent, and HHonors occupancy hit a record 55 percent during the first quarter, a 4-point year-over-year increase.

Hilton's decision to market direct booking through its loyalty program as a way for guests to gain perks like free Wi-Fi and online check-in has led other lodging players to follow suit. Marriott this month began adding Marriott Rewards member rates to its website that are lower than retail rates. Hyatt last week announced a similar initiative, tying lower rates and complimentary amenities to direct bookings made on or through its app.

One travel manager, who preferred not to be identified, noticed the new Marriott rates and expressed concern about the growing trend from hoteliers. "It confirms my suspicions that the sales teams are not working close enough with [the loyalty teams] to protect the integrity of the corporate rates offered," the travel manager said. "I am almost convinced that they are trying to take our travelers from our managed programs and push them right into their own This tactic may seem good right now, but long-term I think they will hurt themselves as they hurt the relationship between the buyer and supplier."

Get the full story at Business Travel News and the Los Angeles Times

Read also "How Hilton is convincing travelers to book direct", "Hilton to temper its stance on booking direct", and "Analysis: The direct booking challenge"

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China’s HNA Tourism to acquire Carlson Hotels / Rezidor

April 28, 2016

Privately held Carlson Hotels is part of Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, which owns such brands as Country Inns & Suites, Park Plaza and Park Inn, Quorvus Collection and the Radisson family of brands. Its portfolio is comprised of more than 1,400 hotels in 115 countries and territories. Carlson Wagonlit Travel is not part of the deal.

HNA indicated it intends to keep Carlson Hotels' headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2016, and Carlson Hospitality Group CEO David Berg will continue to serve as CEO of the new organization.

The HNA-Carlson deal comes on the heels of a joint-venture agreement inked in March between HNA Hospitality, a subsidiary of HNA Tourism, and NH Hotels Group of Spain to develop 120 to 150 hotels in China by 2020. HNA in 2015 also acquired a 15 percent stake in Red Lion Hotels. According to its website, HNA Hospitality owns and manages more than 450 hotels, and the HNA parent company is engaged in a number of areas, including aviation, tourism, finance and online services.

Get the full story at the StarTribune

Read also "Five things to know about the sale of Carlson's hotel business" at the StarTribune

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Hotels leave room for improvement

April 28, 2016

Of the top three hotel chains in the ACSI, Hilton is first after moving up 1 percent to 81. Marriott is steady at 80 and Hyatt falls 1 percent to 79. Starwood, which will merge with Marriott, climbs 3 percent to 78.

"Historically, Starwood's customer satisfaction performance has been uneven, and the chain typically doesn't do as well as its upscale counterparts," says VanAmburg. "While the impending merger could give the combined entity more leverage against competitors, the path to consolidating operations may not be smooth and Starwood could pose a drag on Marriott's strong guest satisfaction."

Among midscale and economy hotels, Best Western is up 1 percent to 75, tied with La Quinta, which is down 1 percent. G6 Hospitality, with its flagship Motel 6 brand, gains 3 percent to 65, but remains the lowest-scoring chain.

Get the full story at Hospitality.Net

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OpenTable app redesign helps travelers discover new dining experiences

April 28, 2016

"Whether you're landing hungry on the tarmac in a new city or planning a last minute date night in your local neighborhood, OpenTable wants to be the dining concierge in your pocket," said Christa Quarles, OpenTable Chief Executive Officer. "Dining has never been more mobile and our new app experience helps diners discover the perfect restaurant to satisfy every occasion, mood and craving whether they're at home or on the road."

The content presented on the Discover tab factors in elements like availability, popularity, proximity and personal favorites. It enables quick visual browsing of categories to get recommendations that will satisfy any taste. The recommendations are especially handy for local diners eager to explore something new and for travelers hoping to sink their teeth into amazing culinary experiences. New categories in the Discover tab include:

- New & Hot: Recently opened restaurants with high popularity scores
- Most Popular: Restaurants with the highest popularity scores
- My Favorites: Diner's favorite restaurant list
- Special Features: Restaurants perfect for every occasion ranging from romantic to kid-friendly
- Near Me Now: Nearby restaurants with immediate availability
- Dinner Tonight: Restaurants with availability that night
- Editorial Picks: Restaurants nominated by local OpenTable insiders and other industry experts.

OpenTable's Discover tab is currently rolling out gradually for English-language iPhone users of the OpenTable app in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia. Android support will be launched shortly. In addition to the new features of the redesign, diners can still use OpenTable's quick and easy search functionality.

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Wego launches native mobile advertising solutions

April 28, 2016

“With the continued success and popularity of Wego’s travel app across multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, iPad, and smartwatch, we are committed to further innovating our mobile business,” said Honey Mittal, Vice President for Mobile at Wego.

“Our ability to connect with travellers throughout our core markets in the Middle East and Asia has elevated Wego’s travel app to the highest ranks in terms of reviews, and resulted in the app being regularly featured in both the iTunes and Google Play stores,” he said.

“We have committed to developing our mobile product considerably, while studying these markets where smartphone penetration is some of the highest in the world, and taken the next step by developing an effective and productive native advertising solution to suit,” Mittal continued.

“Mobile is the new frontier for advertisers,” said Craig Hewitt, Co-Founder and Chief Advertising Officer at Wego. “Nothing connects advertisers with, or gets closer to travellers, than creative and relevant mobile messaging.”

“Traditionally ads were considered intrusive, and wasteful due to accidental clicks that return no value to the advertiser. Wego’s Mobile Native Ads have changed all that,” Hewitt explained. “As one of the first in the region to launch, Wego’s Mobile Native Ads are embedded inside travel search results, returning relevant and highly personalised communications that have proved incredibly successful.”

“Travellers are proving increasingly responsive providing positive feedback to the ads, and early advertisers are receiving eight to ten times higher CTRs than industry standards,” he added.

“Wego’s strength in these growing mobile regions places us in the unique position to test what works best for both travellers and advertisers. Advertising, if not delivered effectively and with relevance to the user, has no value for either party.”

Google studies state that 79 percent of smartphone owners use their device to purchase goods and services, and on average, consumers check their mobile devices around 150 times per day.

For more information about Wego's advertising solutions go to

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3 signs your small business should forego social media, and what to do instead

April 28, 2016

How much money does your small business have available for social media? A hundred dollars per month? $200 per month? $300 per month? If so, you’ll be disappointed to know that these budgets won’t make a dent in your return on investment.

To get the biggest social media ROI, you’ll need to spend more like $200 or $300 per day. Where does all that money go? A few expensive elements of a successful social media presence include:

- Content: Does your business create regular, visually appealing content (e.g., blogging, videos, pics, infographics and so on)? And if so, is it interesting, useful and beneficial to your audience?

If your answer is yes, then you’re probably spending good money for such content — paying either a social media agency or in-house writers and designers to create it.

- Monitoring tools: Without spending a lot of time and money on monitoring your followers’ conversations and engaging with them, your business isn’t being “social” with your media. Even if you do have time to engage with people online, is your small business prepared to invest in social media monitoring tools?

- Pay to play: Even if you do spend money on creating world-class videos, photography and engaging copy, your spending spree isn’t done yet. The undeniable truth is that without spending some money on advertising with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others, you are just not going to be effective on social media.

Visibility for your business won’t be there without paying for it. Organic reach no longer exists the way it once did.

Get the full story at Marketing Land

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New report: Consumer mega-trends impacting hospitality in 2016

April 28, 2016

Sabre Hospitality Solutions has partnered with TrendWatching, a company that tracks emerging patterns in consumer behavior, attitude and expectations, to identify the major consumer mega-trends that are expected to have the most impact on the travel and hospitality industry in the future. The global study, Consumer Mega-Trends Impacting Hospitality, analyzes six mega-trends and shows hoteliers what guests will want next.

“In today’s fast-paced world, emerging trends can quickly go beyond a niche, early-adopter group to a deeply-held expectation for a large portion of consumers,” said Sarah Kennedy Ellis, vice president of marketing and strategic development, Sabre Hospitality Solutions. “Hotel brands that learn, understand and respond to these emerging trends will strengthen their customer relationships by providing experiences that go above and beyond what guests expect.”

Going beyond the travel industry, this study looks across industries to identify the most relevant trends to hospitality and includes multiple case studies to help hoteliers create an experience that guests will love. Here is a preview of two of the key trends examined in the report:

Youniverse – It’s all about the guest

The Youniverse is where an individual’s tastes and preferences reign supreme. In today’s market, personalization is centered on consumers telling brands what they want as the brands work to react. A host of new technologies – including facial recognition, biometric sensors and brainwave readers – will allow brands to customize guest experiences based on deeper, more authentic, or even subconscious motivations of their guests. This deeper level of personalization will mean even more choices for consumers, who are already often overwhelmed with the multitude of options they face. With more than 50 percent of consumers now willing to share data in return for tools that help them make these decisions, hoteliers have an enormous opportunity to fulfill unmet needs through the use of data and technology – not only helping consumers make their decisions, but bringing their hidden travel preferences to light.

Helpfull – Be part of the solution, not the problem

Brands that make travelers’ lives easier, simpler and more convenient will win with future consumers. As consumers continue to be bombarded with generalized messages, ads, and offers at every turn, click or swipe, they will embrace brands that use new channels and new contexts in order to be at the right place at the right time, with the right offer. Location is already a pervasive consumer context, aiding brands in personalizing offers and experiences. But in the future, anything will be an actionable context, from a customer’s stress level to the emojis they use in social media.

Since knowledge of a trend does not always translate into understanding how to leverage it, the study concludes with a consumer trend canvas to help hoteliers act on these insights and prepare for consumers’ future expectations.

Download the full report at Sabre Hospitality Solutions (free registration)

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Content marketing for hotels: How to get started telling your hotel’s story

April 28, 2016

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI), based in the US, defines content marketing as “…a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

How does it work in hospitality? By attracting your target guests, influencing them into booking a stay, and retaining them as repeat guests.

The key is to first provide useful content that informs and entertains. Secondly, it’s important to deliver it consistently to establish credibility and foster engagement.

As part of your inbound digital marketing campaign, content also drives traffic to your website and social media channels. What content marketing isn’t, is excessive promotional messaging.

Get the full story at SiteMinder

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Analysis: The direct booking challenge

April 27, 2016

Chain hotels, which account for about 60% of the UK market (70% in the US) according to hotels data provider STR, now focus on being brand managers rather than property owners. Their strategy, therefore, is based on persuading travellers that a Holiday Inn Express from IHG , for example, is better than a Hampton by Hilton (or vice versa).

Moreover, persuading them to book through direct channels such as a hotel website or call centre enables the hotelier to establish a future relationship with the traveller. And capturing guest data is the new name of the game in the hospitality world, something that selling rooms through third parties such as OTAs limits.

But the hotels faced a snag in their direct booking campaign: rate parity. This is a legal agreement between hoteliers and OTAs that guarantees the hotel will maintain the same publicly available room-only rate across all its channels of distribution – either direct or via OTAs and other third-parties such as traditional travel agents. This, in effect, protects both the hotel and the OTAs from under-cutting by either side.

Over the past year, however, it is understood that the major chains have been quietly renegotiating some elements of their rate parity agreements with the OTAs which has now given them the scope to offer discounts to their loyalty scheme members, although not the public at large.

Get the full story at Business Traveller

Read also "The direct bookings challenge to travel managers grows, as hotels lure business travelers" at Tnooz

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Why you may want to book your next hotel room directly

April 27, 2016

Should you hop aboard the hotel book directly wagon? Probably, yes - but advice from multiple experts is that, especially when dealing with small chains and independents, call the hotel and try for the best rate through that channel.

Assume the hotel is paying a 25% OTA commission. That mean it has plenty of margin to work with. Our advice: demand that any resort fee be waived (that’s $25 to $50 daily), insist on free WiFi and, if you want to push, ask for coupons for free breakfast daily. You will be surprised how many hotels will cave, because they really, really want direct bookings.

Understand this, you won’t score that richly everywhere. Exactly where you are booking will help determine what kind of perks you can squeeze out of a hotel. William Frye, associate professor at Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, told of an experiment he ran. First the background: “In essence a 10% commission on a $129 per night rate for a hotel in a second-tier market such as Buffalo would cost the hotel $13 per night while that similar commission paid by a New York City hotel to an OTA for a $400 per night hotel room would cost the hotel $40. Obviously, there is increased motivation for hotels in typically larger, top-tier markets to implement a discount,” said Frye.

Get the full story at

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Direct digital distribution powers Premier Inn growth

April 27, 2016

This compares to a rate of 69% in 2011-12, parent company Whitbread disclosed today while announcing an 11.3% rise in annual operating profits for its hotels and restaurants division to £446.9 million for the year to March 3.

Premier Inn saw sales growth of 12.9% as Whitbread’s total revenue increased by 12% to £2.9 billion to give an overall profit up 5.8% to £387.3 million. Total occupancy reached 80.9%.

Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain said: "The benefit of offering a consistent quality room and value for money, combined with a good website, has enabled us to grow our direct digital distribution from 69% in 2011/12 to 86% in 2015/16.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly

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Cinven in ‘final talks’ to buy Hotelbeds

April 27, 2016

Europe's biggest tour operating group put Hotelbeds up for sale at the end of last year, citing strategic reasons.

A sale of the business would follow the disposal of the smaller business to Cox & Kings for £8.5 million in October.

Cox & Kings then sold earlier this month together with Superbreak to new holding company Malvern Enterprises.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly UK

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Why restaurants need a hyper-local influencer marketing strategy

April 27, 2016

Pizza Pilgrims was founded by two brothers who set out to traverse Italy to learn how to make authentic pizza.

Their journey was documented on a dedicated YouTube channel, so they actually began building an online audience before they’d even setup business in their first pizza van.

This focus on digital has continued as the business has grown. According to James: "We got food bloggers involved very early on. It's been much more effective than print advertising or any other more traditional channels."

Get the full story at Econsultancy

Read also "The restaurant OS" at TechCrunch

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Marketers choose responsive email templates over fluid hybrid design

April 27, 2016

Email on Acid surveyed 3,500 US marketing professionals worldwide and asked them if they use a fluid hybrid design or responsive email templates.

Fluid hybrid design, a new email marketing trend, reduces the reliance on the media queries typically required for responsive templates to help the email vendor faster and more consistently across different email clients. Only 7.9% of marketing professionals said they use fluid hybrid design. Many still just use responsive templates, indeed 56.9% of respondents said they do. Nearly 20% of marketing professionals said they use both.

The survey also found that 15.2% of marketing professionals said they used neither responsive templates, nor a fluid hybrid design.

Get the full story at eMarketer

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Direct bookings benefit from accessible contact info

April 27, 2016

Much has been written about how to improve search engine optimization and the website visitor experience as a means of accomplishing this. Yet one often overlooked way of encouraging direct bookings is to make sure your hotel’s phone number and email address is posted prominently on your website.

When visiting desktop version websites of seven major hotel brands, only two had their 800 number posted on the home page; in both cases it was in very small font at the top. However, when visiting the same two brands via their mobile websites, the 800 number was not displayed at all. Interestingly, one of the brands that did not have its 800 number posted at the desktop website did display it on its mobile website version, but again at the bottom in small font.

In checking the websites of a few randomly selected upscale and luxury hotels and resorts, most do not have a phone number display whatsoever on the home page, and those that did had it in very small font at the bottom. To find the phone numbers at the majority of the independent hotel websites, a visitor has to click on the “contact us” link.

Get the full story at Hotel News Now

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Orlando hotels adopt nSight to gain market share

April 27, 2016

Local hotels that use nSight’s predictive shopping data to make smarter digital marketing and revenue management decisions are seeing stronger rate growth and steadier demand.

For hotels in Orlando, May is looking to be a challenging month, while June promises to bring an upswing in summer leisure consumers. Transient consumer demand is driven by international markets for May, with Toronto, London, and Buenos Aires as the top source markets searching and booking Orlando for the month. Orlando hotels are using nSight’s data to focus marketing on the most likely to book markets and optimize rate during the shoulder season.

“nSight helps to make our decisions easier across both marketing and revenue departments,” said Jean Spaulding, Director of Sales and Marketing for Omni Orlando Resort at Champions Gate. “It allows us to have an integrated approach to decision making that is more focused and more effective, with synergies across our teams on decisions ranging from who we target in digital marketing to how we design OTA promotions. nSight just makes us a bit smarter across the board and that is translating to revenue growth and higher ADR.”

Get the full story at nSight

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Nine habits of highly effective hotel marketers

April 26, 2016

1. Hotel and digital players must find a balance in their co-dependent relationship

Hoteliers look at OTAs like the world looks at Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, said Maria Taylor (Regional VP of Southeast Asia, TravelClick) – a mixture of awe, fear and bewilderment – as digital players continue to disrupt hotels’ ability to drive direct bookings.

Hotel Distribution and Marketing | WIT Hospitality Hong Kong | Web In Travel
Yeoh Siew Hoon, Founder & Managing Director, WIT
For example, Colman Ho (VP of Group Marketing, Century City Holdings) argues OTAs’ liberal cancellation policies mean customers often keep shopping for better deals after making a booking, which can create uncertainty for hotel companies. Nevertheless, OTAs and meta-searches are able to unveil new research trends, extend customer reach and ultimately bring in business for hotels.

The conflict lies in the power balance, says Jean-Luc Chretien (Co-CEO of FASTBOOKING), as “hoteliers and OTAs need each other”. Steps can be taken to make the relationship more mutually beneficial, e.g. through sharing of data analytics and insights to drive future strategy. Hoteliers would benefit greatly by integrating digital companies into their own infrastructure, like Accor’s acquisition of FASTBOOKING.

Adam Brownstein, General Manager of BookingSuite, APAC, whose company has signed up 8,000 hotel partners in the region, said, “Our responsibility [in tech] is to show hotels what they can do to embrace the changes… to help [hotels] win in the [digital] marketplace”.

Get the full story at Web in Travel

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Google sending out invites for a new travel app

April 26, 2016

It appears that Google might launch a new travel app soon. The company is inviting Maps explorers to try its new app for travelers. In the email it’s sending out the company says that it’s going to introduce a new travel assistant app for Android and iPhone and that it’s going to provide select Level 2+ Local Guides a sneak peak before the launch.

Maps explorers are then directed towards a short survey that they have to complete. That doesn’t guarantee they will get the app before everybody else, Google is going to select who gets access and will then send them instructions on how to get the app starting next week.

The survey features a range of questions which include the operation system that explorer is using and whether or not they use Gmail, if they are going to take a trip soon and what kind of a trip it’s going to be.

Get the full story at Übergizmo and Skift

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Personalisation key in overall digital travel experience satisfaction

April 26, 2016 top the benchmark results for a record fifth consecutive wave. Awareness of the sites personalisation features is higher than any other travel site with 3 out of 5 (60%) of shoppers aware they are being served personalised content compared to the lowly study average of just 1 in 5 (or 20%). Simple techniques, such as saved searches directly accessible and clearly labelled on the homepage landed well with users.

Analysis of results shows that where personalised content is encountered and recognised, 90% of surveyors rate the content and experience they get as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. However, despite the majority of travel sites deploying some form of personalisation strategy, a sizeable proportion are going unnoticed – and signals to the digital travel industry that more needs to be done in order to capitalise on the growing number of digital travel shoppers.

Derek Eccleston, Chief Development Officer at eDigitalResearch (edr), explains, “Personalisation is a growing trend in the digital customer experience sphere and a fantastic way of evoking an emotional reaction from customers and creating a lasting connection. The fact that so many travel brands are putting effort into creating techniques that are going unnoticed by users means that they’re missing out on this opportunity and the potential it can offer. With an estimated $168 billion spent online last year for travel, the digital customer experience has never been so important”.

Get the full story at eDigitalResearch

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Asian hotel revPAR edges higher in Q1

April 26, 2016

According to the latest data from STR, the region’s occupancy climbed 1.7% to 66.6% in the first three months of the year, while average daily rate (ADR) dipped 0.2% to US$105.04 and revPAR rose 1.5% to US$69.93.

Vietnam saw a strong 10.3% increase in revPAR in Q1, to VND1.98 million (approx. US$88), as both occupancy and ADR improved. The country’s ADR of VND2.89m was also the highest on record in Vietnam for any quarter. And in Thailand, a 6.0% rise in revPAR, to THB3,459.55 (approx. US$93), was mainly driven by rising occupancy.

India experienced a 6.7% increase in revPAR, to INR4,190.92 (approx. US$63), mainly driven by occupancy, and in Singapore rising occupancy offset a dip in ADR, allowing revPAR to rise 1.0% to SG$238.16 (approx. US$176).

Get the full story at Travel Daily Asia

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What are hoteliers to make of the current, ambiguous state of the industry?

April 26, 2016

STR’s Jan Freitag, CBRE’s Mark Woodworth, and TravelClick’s Katie Moro all presented data supporting a continued healthy balance of hotel supply and demand in most segments. These data support the stance that hoteliers in most markets are in a prime place to push average daily rate.

An overall increase of 5% in RevPAR is expected by year-end 2016, driven by rising average rates. Occupancy growth across the chain scales is relatively limited, but it should be noted that upscale, upper-upscale, and luxury hotels, which have registered occupancy levels in the mid-70% range, have little room for further growth. With historically lower occupancy levels, economy to upper-midscale hotels should realize modest occupancy growth this year.

Hotel owners were advised to begin now on property improvements, as well as to invest in sales and marketing efforts to capture demand and maximize guest experience and revenues. This is all aimed at helping hoteliers broaden and maintain strong levels of demand and guest loyalty when the inevitable down cycle does commence.

Get the full story at HVS

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Why hotel marketers should utilize AdWords location marketing

April 26, 2016

There are quite a few viable and highly notable reasons as to why every single hotel owner who is interested in maximizing business and profits should utilize AdWords Location Marketing.

First, this adwords extension encompasses the best of convenience and targeted advertising—a major plus for potential customers. Unlike many regular AdWords campaigns, location marketing allows those searching for a specific establishment’s location or information, obviously relative to their own current position, on Google Maps to view advertisements along with their regular search results.

For instance, if a Google Maps user searches for “hotels in Dallas”, an establishment, which has properly researched their AdWords, could be placed at the top of the results list.

Get the full story at E-Marketing Associates

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Four ways to compete against new properties in your market

April 26, 2016

But before you frantically start rolling out flash sales and engaging your neighbors in the WrestleMania of revenue management, take a deep breath and get back to basics with the following ideas:

1. They Zig, You Zag

Let’s face it. Unless you’ve suddenly invented holographic front desk agents or a way to beam guest luggage to their respective rooms, you’re probably not going to steal attention away from the new kids on the block.

What you can do, however, is knock them off their pedestal when it comes to creativity. Put on your consumer hat and do a deep dive into what your property has to offer. Turn your unique hotel attributes into creative packages and promotions. A prime example is Le Montrose Suite Hotel in West Hollywood, which allows electric cars to park and charge for free.

Get the full story at Tambourine

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Setting online reputation objectives at your hotel

April 26, 2016

ReviewPro offers a wealth of data but to start we recommend focusing on a few key performance indicators (KPIs). Set realistic and attainable goals and involve all members of your team in the process.

1. Global Review Index™ (GRI)

The industry-standard Global Review Index™ (GRI) is an online reputation score available exclusively to ReviewPro clients, which is used by thousands of hotels worldwide as a benchmark for reputation management efforts.The lower your GRI™, the easier it should be to increase it. For example, if your GRI™ is 60%, by identifying and acting on a few “quick wins” you might see a significant jump over a short period of time. If your current GRI™ is higher, say 71.1%, a reasonable goal might be to reach 75.0% within six months. And if your GRI™ is 90%, attaining even minor incremental improvements will be challenging—a good problem to have! Note that you can record GRI™ goals and timelines on the Scoreboard page of the dashboard by clicking the “Goal” button. Once set, goals will show up in reports for easy reference.

Get the full story at ReviewPro

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What drives hotel visibility on the new Expedia?

April 25, 2016

The key message Expedia wants you and the consumer know, is “the hotel offers best tailored to the specific customer’s search criteria will always be the most visible in the Expedia Marketplace.

That said, Expedia Marketplace visibility is determined by three factors: Offer strength, Quality Score, and Compensation.

Offer strength is the most important factor and is a benchmark of price relative to value. In other words the lower your price within your competitive set of hotels, the more visibility you gain.

But that’s not all, Expedia’s Offer Strength score will also look a the historical price customers pay on Expedia for your property, the popularity of your hotel on Expedia, as measured by the quantity of rooms actually booked on Expedia, and of course travel review scores.

The second factor, Quality Score, reflects the competitivness and availability of your offers provided to Expedia, compared to the offers provided by your local competition. Measured by automated price comparison scripts, discounted rates that are only available on can negatively impact your hotel’s Quality Score - especially when your competitor is offering its best rate to Expedia customers.

And, Quality Score also includes how often you walk Expedia customers and refunds related to relocations.

The third area contributing to visibility is the compensation Expedia earns for a booking made on the Expedia Marketplace. A contribution, Expedia has to be very careful about, as fewer consumers would book on Expedia, if the top of the search results were dominated by low quality, high compensation offerings. That’s why hotels with poor Offer Strength and Quality Score cannot buy their way to the top.

But compensation can make a difference among hotels with similar Offer Strengths and Quality Scores. And, because compensation expenses are always matched to revenue, hotels can’t run through their marketing budget with few or no sales like they can with CPC based forms of advertising.

Expedia says it’s Marketplace business model acts as a natural feedback loop that keeps the visibility components in balance.

If you want to learn more about Expedia Accelerator and TravelAds read this article at Tnooz or download the full whitepaper (PDF 831 KB).

Read also "For Expedia, hotels are the losers in direct-booking push"

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HotelTonight expands its in-app concierge service to 30+ cities

April 25, 2016

Aces is an chat-based concierge inside the HotelTonight app that can help you with things like requests for extra toiletries at your hotel, local restaurant recommendations, and even activities in the area. Users receive access to their Ace the morning of their check in, and can continue to use it throughout their stay.

Data shared by the company suggests that Aces has become a bonafide amenity that actually influences whether or not guests will book with HotelTonight.

Specifically, guests who use Aces are 34 percent more likely to book again in 90 days, and those tempted with an Ace during the booking process have a 30 percent increase in conversion.

Get the full story at TechCrunch

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UK’s House of Lords report calls for urgent OTA investigation

April 25, 2016

Its recommendations were welcomed by the British Hospitality Association which helped provide evidence and opinion on the issues being investigated.

The BHA is urging the government to impose an outright ban on rate parity clauses which stop hotels offering lower rates than those on the online booking sites where they are listed.

"This practice impacts directly on consumers since it means less competitive pricing with similar room rates offered by online travel agencies and hospitality venues across the board," said the BHA.

Get the full story at Travelmole

Read also "OTAs embrace “personalized pricing”"

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Ctrip makes an odd diversion

April 25, 2016

The $19 billion group is participating in a 15 billion yuan private placement, in exchange for about 3 percent of the carrier. Ctrip can also increase its stake to 10 percent within a year – which at the same price, would cost another $1 billion-plus.

The two could hardly be any more different: a lucrative, commission-driven travel agency and a capital-intensive, indebted airline. Yet the alliance is vital for Ctrip and 45 percent-owned affiliate Qunar. The two former competitors made peace last year with a complicated share swap which fell short of a full merger.

Qunar has since come under pressure after China Eastern and China’s other two top airlines pulled their sales from the site over a pricing dispute. A prolonged absence would have been very painful: the state-owned trio control 56 percent of China’s domestic market, according to analysts at HSBC. Qunar’s shares have fallen 19 percent this year.

Get the full story at Reuters

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How the travel industry in India is poised to grow by leaps and bounds

April 25, 2016

While Indian users are willing to book travel tickets online, booking hotels and stays are still more of an offline habit. Trust is a key issue here, with consumers not fully happy with what they are promised online and what is actually delivered when it comes to hotels. It’s a problem startups like Oyo Rooms is looking to solve for Indian and international travelers alike.

But great deals are still a huge driver of India’s travel ecommerce. Over a third of travelers are willing to take an unplanned trip if given a good enough deal. And where do most of the travelers look for the best deals? Consider your own browsing habits. It’s very natural to open up multiple tabs in your desktop browser, each one logged into a different site, and curate the best possible deals from around the web. But app users are much more loyal.

Get the full story at Tech in Asia

Read also "Expedia aims to tap mobile travel bookings in India" at TravelBiz

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How a safari travel specialist achieved wild results with AdWords

April 25, 2016

Carlien Parsons, Go2Africa’s Commercial Optimization Manager, oversees much of the company’s digital marketing efforts, including both organic and paid acquisition.

“I look after all our paid advertising efforts, search engine optimization as well as overall conversion optimization,” Carlien explains. “Our business is solely done online, so these areas are very important to us. We also do everything in-house, which means we have a full content and creative team working with our optimization team.”

Since Go2Africa was founded, Carlien and her team have adapted to and incorporated a wide range of strategies into their digital marketing campaigns, including SEO.

Get the full story at WordStream

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Hotel email marketing: 6 ways to get more responses

April 25, 2016

There’s a lot of advice on the web about how to write a good email, from general writing advice to full sets of pre-written email templates. But almost none of that advice shows the data behind it. Boomerang, a Gmail app that adds scheduled sending and email reminders, did some research to find out what factors really matter when you want users to respond to your emails. Please note that not all of the emails involved were marketing emails. Some of them were sales emails and internal communications. But there are some great takeaways for marketing too. Here are the basic points that are relevant to hotel marketers:

1. Write like a 3rd grader

The Boomerang study found that emails written at a 3rd grade reading level were optimal. They provided a whopping 36% lift over emails written at a college reading level and a 17% higher response rate than emails written even at a high school reading level.

Get the full story at Revinate

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Four essentials of your book direct strategy

April 25, 2016

1. Make Booking Easy

Remember the last time you visited a restaurant’s website?

When you visit a restaurant’s website, you’re usually pretty hungry. It’s more than likely that you’re looking for the menu and hoping it looks as good as pizza does late at night. If you can’t find a menu, in this age of Yelp, MenuPages and a whole set of competitors with menus on their sites, you abandon all plans of visiting that restaurant. If you can’t find a restaurant’s menu online, someone (or several someones) aren’t doing their job.

Now put yourself in a potential hotel guest’s shoes. What do they want when they visit your website?

Get the full story at Net Affinity

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April 22, 2016

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For Expedia, hotels are the losers in direct-booking push

April 22, 2016

In essence, Expedia argues that despite property owners saving money on distribution costs from direct bookings, the lower rates they are offering on sites, their reduced exposure on Expedia sites, a diminished billboard effect and higher loyalty program costs lead to reduced revenue per available room for owners of about 8 percent.

There will undoubtedly be plenty in Expedia’s numbers for hotel chains, owners, and others to pick apart, including the issue of whether the lost traffic from the billboard effect is overstated, or perhaps Expedia is downplaying the percentage (50 percent) of bookings that hotels are recapturing from the online travel agencies via marketing campaigns.

In fact, speaking on background only, representatives of a couple of chains disparaged Expedia’s numbers. One said these are early days with probably only one quarter of data to measure and direct booking amounts to the cheapest distribution channel for chains as well as owners.

Get the full story at Skift

Read also "Expedia wants to power hotels’ direct-booking efforts" at Skift

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Airbnb vies for more of users’ time through content-driven features à la TripAdvisor

April 22, 2016

The home rental service introduced a new method of connecting users with neighborhoods and homes that match their preferences and interests, as well as Guidebooks to help travelers get a broader feel for the location. As content is becoming a key part of retail, Airbnb is hoping to become a mobile destination for all things travel-related and drive rental sales.

“We are living in very dynamic times and as a consequence, marketers need to ensure that the experiences people have with their marketing and utilities are personal, fresh and relevant,” said Michael Becker, managing partner at mCordis. “The experiences should be offered with the maximum amount of efficiency, the least about of friction.

“Airbnb is doing just this,” he said. “They are streamlining the experience people have with their stay by providing recommendations, points of interest, insider tips and more based on an individual’s preferences.

Get the full story at Mobile Commerce Daily

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Travel demand for Asia Pacific to grow by 4.6% each year until 2020

April 22, 2016

Asia is expected to maintain its dominance as a destination, and will likely increase its relative share of Asia-Pacific arrivals from 72 per cent last year to more than 73 per cent by 2020.

South-east Asia too, will continue to welcome more visitors, improving its relative share from just under 20 per cent in 2015 to around 22.5 per cent by the end of the decade.

As a source market, PATA expects Asia to also generate increasing international arrivals into the Asia-Pacific, upping its count from 355 million visitors in 2015 to around 448 million by 2020, an increase from 66 per cent to 68 per cent of total arrivals.

Get the full story at PATA

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How business travel is driving Asia’s serviced apartment boom

April 22, 2016

"Serviced apartments fill the gap between leased residences and hotel rooms by offering flexibility, strategic locations, up-to-date modern conveniences and value-added services to tenants," says Tasos Kousloglou, who leads JLL's Hotels & Hospitality Group's asset management arm in Asia.

For the modern business executive, being away from home doesn't mean completely changing their lifestyle. Modern conveniences such as high-speed internet connections, iPod docking stations, up-to-date kitchen appliances and state-of-the-art home entertainment systems at serviced residences help business executives with work-life balance while they are out on short-term assignments, according to Kousloglou.

Rising demand has led hotels to install kitchens and convert hotel rooms into serviced apartments. "Many hotels are now hybrid properties as travellers on work assignments are increasingly looking more for home-style living while overseas," says Kousloglou.

Get the full story at JLL

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World’s hottest new hotels, according to Condé Nast Traveler

April 22, 2016

"We want to steer you to places which offer that push-pull of foreignness and familiarity: comfortable but also defiantly out of your comfort zone," said Pilar Guzmán, the magazine's editor-in-chief.

CNN Travel asked Conde Nast Traveler editors to pick a baker's dozen of their favorite properties from the list of 60 hotels, all of which have opened in the last 12 months.

Their favorites are listed in alphabetical order by region at Condé Nast Traveler.

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10 examples of great travel marketing campaigns

April 22, 2016

Like LateRooms campaign, which shows how easy it is with a modest budget to bribe/delight customers enough that they make a lot of noise on social media.

The campaign was very simple. Choose some customers and surprise them with a tailored gift, either after their trip or when they reach their destination. KLM did something similar way back in 2010, finding customers on FourSquare, doing some detective work and then delivering them a personalised gift at the airport gate.

The beauty of LateRooms' approach in 2015 is that the blogging community is so vast, the company could bank on more than just a Facebook post or Tweet (and duly got it).

Get the full story at Econsultancy

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The automated emails your hotel should be sending

April 22, 2016

Recently, email ranked as the channel with the most staying power in the Litmus “Email Marketing in 2020” report. Marketers are pleased that this minimum cost for maximum return method is here to stay and we agree.

Dead is the spray and pray approach of haphazardly sending email blasts and hoping for the best. Would you shop for clothes that are one size fits all? It’s time to stop thinking about your consumers this way.

Staying top of mind is important, however there is a fine line between brand awareness and bombarding consumers to the point of no return (literally, they will unsubscribe).

Get the full story at Fuel

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HeBS Digital’s smartCMS v7 nominated for World Travel Awards recognition

April 22, 2016

HeBS Digital, the leading hotel digital technology, full-service Vote-For-Us-Square-Button-256x256-2016digital marketing and website revenue optimization consulting firm, is calling on all friends, clients, partners and colleagues to help secure the award and vote for the seventh generation of HeBS Digital’s proprietary hotel website technology platform at

The World Travel Awards, in its 23rd year, acknowledges, rewards and celebrates excellence across various sectors of the tourism and travel industries. The North America’s Leading Travel Merchandising Solution Provider 2016 field comprises the four most prestigious merchandising solutions in the travel industry, ranging from airline pricing and availability software to HeBS Digital’s comprehensive merchandising and revenue-generating website technology platform.

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

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OTAs embrace “personalized pricing”

April 21, 2016

Online travel agents are ripping off customers by spying on their computer history and using their details to charge them more for holidays, a House of Lords report has found, as peers call for a top-level investigation.

The upper house's EU Committee condemned the online travel industry, accusing websites of misleading customers through rigged pricing, fake reviews and doctored search options.

It warned online travel providers are offering controversial "personalised" pricing in which information provided, or revealed, by customers is being used to determine an individual price for a particular item or service.

Get the full story at The Telegraph

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Google rolling out new Tag like attribute for hotel listings

April 21, 2016

The Local Pack which has been the last bastion of “free” placement as Google seems intent on monetizing just about everything may soon come with its own up-sells and add ons and paid doodahs hanging from the rafters.

Tim Capper, a local SEO in the UK that spends a lot of time in the Hotel world speculated that this new Tag like form “is coming from within Google Hotel Ads“. He noted that “Hotel ads are really ramping up and I saw in the UK for the 1st time independent hotels using the platform”.

Google Tags (aka Enhanced Listings) were first seen February, 2010, rolled out in July of that year and discontinued by April 2011. At the time, I hypothesized that Google was looking for the next big thing to lure small businesses into advertising and these didn’t make it. Now it appears that rather than looking for the next big thing for local they are just striving to monetize every nook and cranny of local left where they can cram a commercial message. This fits in with Google recently adding ads to the Local Pack.

Get the full story at Blumenthals

Read also "Google Hotel Finder ain't nuttin' but ads" at Blumenthals, and "Hotels own booking & prices appearing in Google Knowledge Panel" at Online Ownership

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April 21, 2016 filed suit on Friday to try to get the USPTO to grant the trademarks.

Although we in the domain name industry promote the value of category-defining domain names, an obvious drawback is the challenge of getting trademarks. is well known in the domain name business for its odd booking.yeah advertising campaign that makes up a fictitious top level domain name. The company also paid $2.2 million in an auction for rights to operate the .hotels top level domain name.

Get the full story at Domain Name Wire

Read also " rejected as trademark"

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Airbnb to travelers: Don’t be a tourist, “Live There”

April 21, 2016

Travelers today, especially those using Airbnb to find lodging around the world, don't want to navigate throngs of other tourists for a glimpse of Times Square or Fisherman's Wharf.

According to data from Airbnb, 86 percent of its users pick the platform because they want to live more like a local. That insight of living rather than visiting inspired the brand's latest and largest marketing campaign, "Live There."

"Don't go to Paris. Don't tour Paris, and please don't do Paris," the ad's narrator advises over footage of selfie sticks and packed tour boats. Instead, the ad advises, "Live in Paris."

Get the full story at AdWeek

Read also "Airbnb personalizes its app and teases bigger news ahead"

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Condé Nast Traveler debuts hotel hot list on Snapchat

April 21, 2016

Starting at 9 a.m. Wednesday, the 13 winning hotels in the U.S. will be released exclusively on Snapchat; all 60 winners will be published on at noon.

It’s the second such deal by a Condé Nast title in recent months. In February, Vanity Fair gave Snapchat a one-hour exclusive for its widely anticipated Hollywood cover. The cover lived on Snapchat for 36 hours in total.

With the Traveler deal, the snaps will live as the magazine’s Snapchat story for 24 hours, rather than a standalone channel. There also will be a Hot list filter available from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. that people can use to tag photos with.

Get the full story at Digiday

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Advanced reservations sales skills required for quoting today’s complex rates and restrictions

April 21, 2016

By Doug Kennedy, Kennedy Training Network

Due to the advances in revenue management philosophies, processes and technology systems, those in charge of pricing and distribution have found evermore creative ways to "fence" rates such as by the booking window, distribution channel, length of stay, stay pattern, market segment, room type restrictions, membership affiliation, or by requiring special terms such as advance purchase / non-refundable.

At the same time, today's callers are armed with more information than ever before caused by the transparency resulting from online distribution channels.

Therefore, today's agents are required to convey (and often to defend) the most complex rate structures and availability restrictions in the history of the lodging industry to the most educated callers our industry has ever faced.

Yet at the same time, most revenue and marketing managers are spending the majority of their time focusing on online distribution channels, making "voice" reservations the forgotten channel. The result is that today's agents struggle along on their own and do their best to defend some very direct and often harsh lines of questioning such as:

- Why is the rate higher this time?
- Why is the rate lower than my group's (or company's) special contracted rate?
- Why does the rate change during my stay?
- What do you mean I can't cancel the reservation?
- Why do I have to stay two nights?
- Why do I have to say over on a Tuesday? (Or Saturday?)
- Why did my traveling companion who booked after me and got a lower rate than I'm paying?
- Why didn't you quote that lower rate to me in the first place?
- I see that same rate online, guess I'll just book it there.
- What does that rate include?
- Your competitor has a lower rate, can you match it?
- $50 A night just to park? $19 For just to go on the Internet? That doesn't even include breakfast?
- Why is there a hotel fee? I'm not going to use any of that.
- What do you mean that rate does not guarantee what I'm requesting?

Most marketing and RM professionals only look at the final channel by which a guest books a reservation. They fail to see the interplay between online and voice channels. In other words, some guests book online and then call with questions such as these. Others look online and then call. Still others look online while calling! The higher the rate paid, the longer the stay, the more important the trip is to the guest, and overall, the more emotionally invested they are in the experience, the more likely they are to pick up the phone somewhere in the process. Looking just at the contribution margins by each channel does not tell the true story of how the overall booking cycle.

If you've not yet done so, now is a wonderful time to have a meeting with those who are fielding your hotel's reservations calls. For larger hotels, this might be meeting with your reservations team; for smaller properties this might be the front desk crew. Even if your hotel has outsourced reservations to a call center, chances are people call daily asking specifically for "in-house reservations" and therefore it is your phone operators or front desk staff that have to field these calls. (It is also a good idea to meet with your CRO agents.)

Here is an agenda for such a meeting:

- Provide an overview of the various rate tiers, categories and their respective restrictions and fences; present the "why's" behind the "what's."

- Review the list of questions above. Ask the team which they are hearing daily. What other challenging questions do they field?

- After making a list, brainstorm possible responses to each question one at a time. Summarize into a list of bullet points for how to respond.

- Conduct role playing exercises whereby agents have to practice using the recommended responses to each scenario they might encounter.

By helping your team prepare for questions such as these you will be providing them with the tools they need to convert more calls into bookings, whether the booking ends up arriving via voice or online channels.

Related Link: Kennedy Training Network

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Behind the curtain: Design thinking in hotel technology

April 21, 2016

Whether it’s the PMS, POS, CRM or revenue management software, employees are using complex systems that, due to cumbersome design, can end up hampering productivity and even diminishing job satisfaction.

How many guests are kept waiting while employees navigate these systems in search of information that should be at their fingertips? How often are revenue managers late for meetings because they’re manually creating spreadsheets with hundreds of data points—even though you only need to look at the key metrics? These may sound like extreme cases, but they are unfortunately common occurences for many in our industry today.

As hotel design becomes sleeker and more minimalist, hotel technology is lagging behind. Rather than invest in new technology, hotels lump new features and functionality on top of legacy systems, which end up making them slower, more onerous, and unsightly. Employees are left to navigate a labyrinth of options and menus to find information. Meanwhile, management wonders why staff are using only 10% of the system’s capabilities.

Get the full story at SnapShot

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Is your hotel getting its fair share?

April 21, 2016

It’s a constant battle. Trying to win your fair share, or more, of guests coming into your market. The ability to gain or steal share is dependent on a range of factors from your rate and competitor rates to overall market demand and seasonality. The best way to understand your share is to first see how you’re benchmarking against competitors for consumer search and booking on travel websites. It’s a strong indicator of hotel awareness and competitive position.

Hotels should track their current share, changes over time, and forward-looking share for future arrival dates. In addition to seeing how a hotel is shopped and booked online, monitoring share of third-party bookings helps hotels evaluate online performance and distribution strategy compared to the competition.

nSight’s Search and Booking Penetration Indices provide a simple way to measure if you are getting your fair share compared to your competitors for specific arrival dates. Based on the number of hotel rooms you have searched/booked and the number of rooms available in your comp set, these metrics show if you are winning market share.

Get the full story at nSight

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Cornell study: Hotels shouldn’t overdo responses to online reviews

April 20, 2016

After about a 40-percent response rate, hotels seem to reach a point of diminishing returns. A full description of the study, "Hotel Performance Impact of Socially Engaging with Consumers," by Chris Anderson and Saram Han, is available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. Anderson is an associate professor at the Cornell School Hotel Administration, where Han is a doctoral student.

"We see that hotel managers generally want to interact with guests who post reviews on line, but the question remains of exactly how to do that," Anderson explained. "We ran several tests of what happens when the hotels respond to reviews posted on TripAdvisor. For one thing, simply encouraging reviews is related to an improvement in a hotel's TripAdvisor ratings, compared to competitors. Our study used Revinate Surveys for this purpose."

Anderson and Han found that the simple fact that managers respond to reviews leads to improved sales and revenue, when consumers click through from TripAdvisor to the hotel's listing at online travel agents. "However, we found a cautionary situation," Anderson added. "It turns out that making too many responses is worse than offering no response at all, in terms of both ratings and revenue. So, managers should focus on making constructive responses to negative reviews rather than simply acknowledging positive comments."

Hotel Performance Impact of Socially Engaging with Consumers

User reviews have become a critical aspect of the travel research process, as evidenced, for instance, by TripAdvisor having over 350 million unique monthly visitors. One benefit of these posted reviews is that hotels can address issues raised by consumers in an effort to improve consumer satisfaction along with review scores. Given the importance of consumer reviews, one goal for hotels is to find ways to improve their social media performance (with a goal of boosting financial outcomes). In this report we examine the effects of reviews posted on TripAdvisor to look at non-operational and relatively inexpensive ways in which hoteliers can improve their performance, both on the review sites themselves and in terms of actual hotel revenue and sales performance.

In a previous CHR Report, co-author Chris Anderson illustrates the positive relationship between user-generated content and hotel performance.2 He calculates online reputation elasticity (percentage change in hotel performance given a percentage change in online reputation) using data from ReviewPRO and hotel performance data from STR. The study found substantive impacts of online reputation on overall hotel performance as measured by revenue per available room (RevPAR), with individual firms capitalizing on their improved reputation through some combination of higher occupancy and average daily rate. Using a second point-of-purchase or transactional dataset from Travelocity, he shows the positive impact of both online reputation and the number of reviews on the purchase likelihood. That study indicated that online reputation (review scores) and the number of reviews are positively related to hotel performance as measured by price, occupancy, and total revenue. There’s no doubt that service providers will want to address consumer issues and improve the quality and value of their service offering based on consumer reviews. However, what we outline here are other, less capital intensive approaches to improve a property’s reputation. In particular, we focus on more direct engagement with consumers by specifically encouraging them to post reviews on, which so far remains the dominant source for hospitality-related reviews. Looking further at reviews, we compare the hotel’s financial performance and online reputation in a series of before-and-after tests, in which the after stage occurs once the hotel starts to encourage consumer reviews via post stay surveys. We show that once reviews are actively encouraged not only does the number of reviews posted to TripAdvisor increase, but so does the review score and hotel rank on

Download the report at Cornell School of Hotel Administration

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Hyatt’s book-direct initiative targets Global Distribution Systems

April 20, 2016

Under a new Hyatt policy announced Monday, travel agents have access to discounted room rates that are primarily intended for customers who book direct, but ASTA is dissatisfied that agents must book at a Hyatt website to get the discount.

Unlike Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide (two companies that recently introduced book-direct discounts and enabled agents to book the low rates, too), Hyatt isn't putting the discounted rates in GDSs.

"Hyatt tells us that while this new promotion is commissionable to agents, the agent can only obtain it by booking directly through a Hyatt channel and not through their GDS. This move makes comparative shopping harder for agent and consumer alike, and adds to an agent’s workload by disrupting the standard booking process," ASTA said in a statement.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly and "The Company Dime" (Free Trial)

Read also "Hyatt gives discounts, perks to direct bookers"

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Airbnb personalizes its app and teases bigger news ahead

April 20, 2016

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said the same search by three different people would match them with different combinations of hosts and homes based on data points collected on users over time.

The company is also launching a feature called Guidebooks which Chesky said culls recommendations from Airbnb hosts of destinations and activities in their individual neighborhoods.

The announcement boiled down mainly to the brand campaign "Live There," which aims to frame Airbnb accommodations as a means for travelers to buck the pressure to participate in mass tourism and instead participate in more intimate experiences while visiting cities in the company's network.

Get the full stoy at and Airbnb

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Four Seasons owns top Instagram posts in hotels

April 20, 2016

No matter how engagement fluctuates based on the new algorithm, sourcing user-generated content will be one of the best uses of Instagram. Forty-two percent of brands in L2’s Luxury Hotels Index solicited UGC on Instagram this year, up from 26% in 2015.

Other areas investment had increased were video, carousel ads, and ambassador marketing. This year, 82% of brands are integrating video in their feeds vs 52% last year. Fifty-six percent of brands are integrating ambassador content in their feeds to amplify brand reach. And several – like Jumeirah – have started experimenting with Instagram’s carousel ads.

Despite these efforts, large disparities exist between the leaders of the pack and the rest. Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton have the most engagement compared to other Index brands, even though Loews and Shangri-La post approximately twice as frequently. Four Seasons is especially ahead of other brands, with seven times as many interactions as the average brand in the Index. Furthermore, all of the top ten hotel posts on Instagram (by interactions) belong to Four Seasons.

Get the full story at L2

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Hotels in France plan tax revolt

April 20, 2016

The main hoteliers union, l'Union des métiers et des industries de l'hôtellerie (UMIH), and Groupement national des chaînes hôtelières (GNC) have called on their members in cities where matches are being played not to hand over taxe de séjour payments for the duration of the tournament, which runs from June 10 to July 10.

They say that Abritel-HomeAway - which offers private properties for short-term rents - has not made plans to collect the tax from clients staying in host cities. The company, a subsidiary of US giant Expedia, rejects the claim.

Unions said cheques, payable to the Trésor Public, should be sent to departmental business federations. They say that local authorities are likely to miss out on at least €7.5million in revenue due to the protest.

Source: The Connexion

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Social media is too important to be left to the marketing department

April 20, 2016

Complicating matters further, consumers expect one brand account to contain responses to all kinds of needs, including marketing information and customer service. But marketing managers simply are not trained to deal with questions or complaints about service, product performance, or other nonmarketing requests.

To be more effective at building relationships with consumers online, companies need a cross-functional social media team, one where marketing works together with other departments. Distributing social responsibilities to relevant people across the organization can be efficient, be effective, and help make one-on-one customer engagement scalable.

Cross-functional social media teams can leverage the stages of the buying cycle, connecting the right employees with the right customers at the right time. Consumers’ needs change when they are in the prepurchase, purchase, and postpurchase steps of buying, so different employees are more useful to customers at different stages.

Get the full story at Harvard Business Review

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Who’s looking to book a hotel last minute? Sojern data sheds light

April 20, 2016

To that end, we here at Sojern dug a bit deeper into our hotel data and pulled out some fresh insights for our 2015 Hotel Travel Insights Report specifically around the last-minute traveler:

Long haul & not so last minute

For our recent last-minute traveler insights, we focused on hotel bookers in the US and first looked at their lead time for trips originating in the US and then heading to the EU. Looking at US to EU hotel bookings, the majority of people aren’t last minute and this makes sense: it’s difficult to find the time and money to just get up and go on an eight hour flight. While these long-haul trips aren’t hugely popular with last-minute bookers, it’s interesting to note that 20% book seven or less days before their trip. That’s no small number and such a data point can be helpful to hoteliers: if you know when your customer booked their long-haul flights, you can serve up ads at times that statistically see a lot of hotel bookings.

Get the full story at Sojern

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How to set your search engine optimization strategy straight

April 20, 2016

There’s no magic formula to become the king of the hill on Google and there are many hocus pocus mistruths floating around out there to be cautious of, but what is certain is that the way in which the search engine algorithm determines quality is expanding. This means that it’s now more important than ever to put time and effort into creating compelling content that is genuinely valuable to your target guests.

“When you do a Google search, you aren’t actually searching the web. You’re searching Google’s index of the web, or at least as much of it as we can find.” – Matt Cutts, Google

Get the full story at Leonardo

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Hyatt gives discounts, perks to direct bookers

April 19, 2016

Hyatt said Monday that the discounts would apply to travel agents who book at a Hyatt website on behalf of loyalty members. The new policy applies to Hyatt properties in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Customers who book direct can save as much as 10% on room rates, Hyatt said.

In addition to the lower rates, loyalty members who book direct can further benefit via more loyalty points and express checkout service. Starting later this year, they will be able to make on-demand requests via text message.

Hyatt already offers free WiFi to all guests at all hotels, no matter how they booked.

Get the full story at Travel Weekly and Hyatt Hotels

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Hotels getting more aggressive in fight to get travelers book direct

April 19, 2016

Hotel companies have a tortured relationship with online travel booking sites. They rely on the sites to bring travelers to their properties and fill rooms. But companies like Expedia and Priceline charge commissions of 15 percent or higher. The hotel chains would rather keep that money themselves.

"It costs them less and it gives them a better chance to create a business relationship," said Henry Harteveldt, of travel consultancy Atmosphere Research Group. "They get our email information and a chance to win our ongoing preference."

Harteveldt noted that fewer than one in four hotel guests belong to a loyalty program.

Expedia said online travel agencies help travelers discover new hotels and offer efficiency.

"The vast majority of travelers coming through our sites are new, brand-agnostic and incremental to the chain's existing loyal customers," said Cyril Ranque, president of lodging partner services for the Expedia Group. "To ask a consumer to search multiple sites for the best price sets the industry back 20 years."

Get the full story at CBS Money Watch

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Vacations eclipse business trips as primary US air travel purpose

April 19, 2016

According to A4A’s Status of Air Travel in the USA report—extracted from a December 2015 online survey of 3,019 US citizens—48% of respondents took trips in 2015 for personal leisure purposes, compared to 31% for business purposes and 21% for personal non-leisure purposes. When the survey was last taken, in 1997, 47% of all airline trips were for business purposes. In 2015, 88% of all flyers took at least one airline trip for leisure purposes.

The demographics of US air travelers have changed as well. ”From the time of air travel being dominated by the affluent and business travelers, today’s travelers are more in line with the overall US population,” A4A said.

“Younger people and people with household incomes of $50,000 or less are more likely to travel today than they were 18 years ago. Further, more than half of all fliers in 2015 came from households with less than $75,000 in income,” A4A SVP-communication Jean Medina said. “Two-thirds of consumers told us they prefer à la carte pricing, which allows them to only pay for goods and services they want.”

Get the full story at Air Transport World

Read also "Think airline passengers are unhappy with the service? Think again" at The Street

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Cvent to be purchased for $1.65 billion

April 19, 2016

“Let me tell you, it’s hard to turn down when someone pays you a premium like that,” said Reggie Aggarwal, 46, founder and chief executive of Cvent. “At the end of the day, you want to get maximum shareholder value.”

Aggarwal founded Cvent during the go-go days of the dot-com boom in 1999. The company grew quickly, from six employees to 125 in a matter of months.

But when the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s, the outlook soured. Aggarwal was facing bankruptcy and had to lay off 80 percent of his staff. In the years that followed, Cvent built itself back up into a multimillion-dollar firm with big-name customers including Walmart, Verizon and Marriott International. Cvent went public in August 2013 and last year posted $187.7 million in revenue.

Get the full story at The Washington Post

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Millennials want you to comment on their online trip photos, Expedia says

April 19, 2016

Expedia reports that 32 percent of millennials surveyed, and 40 percent of those who travel internationally at least once a year, said that they present an, ahem, idealized version of themselves online. And they want to be more like it in real life.

The generation’s travelers also want friends to take note of their spectacular travel photos. In the United States, 46 percent of millennial respondents said it’s important to them that people comment on the trip photos they post on social media. Just 20 percent of people from other generations said they felt the same way.

“This is not to say that millennials are so superficial that the future of travel is one big generation making decisions based on what’s the most Instagrammable,” Expedia notes in its study. “Social validation and integration are ultimately universal human needs. …”

Get the full story at The Seattle Times

Download the report "Millennial traveller report: Why millennials will shape the next 20 years of travel" at Future Foundation (PDF 2.1 MB)

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Satisfaction a future ranking signal in Google search results?

April 19, 2016

Do you search through Google on your phone? How do you know whether or not Google is watching you as you do and keeps on eye on whether or not you like the results you receive during your searches? Could Satisfaction with search results be a ranking signal that Google may use now, or in the future?

A newly published Google patent application describes technology that would modify scoring and ranking of query results using biometric indicators of user satisfaction or negative engagement with a search result. In other words; Google would track how satisfied or unsatisfied someone might be with search results, and using machine learning, build a model based upon that satisfaction, raising or lowering search results for a query. This kind of reaction might be captured using a camera on a searcher’s phone to see their reaction to a search result.

Get the full story at SEO by the Sea

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citizenM on predictive analytics for hotels

April 19, 2016

It seems like a common point of discussion nowadays: big data's growing importance in the hospitality industry. And the opportunities it affords hoteliers willing to try something new are huge. But where to start? And what does a tech and data-enabled hotelier even look like? Easier said than done, right?

Fortunately, our friend and advisor Lennert De Jong happens to be one of these forward-thinking hoteliers. As Commercial Director for citizenM, one of the most data-informed hotels currently operating, Lennert has some thoughts and advice on the subject.

Read the article to get a better idea of how you can start to embrace the data, and more importantly, use it to see tangible, long term results.

Get the full story at SnapShot

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HeBS Digital honored with Best in Class IAC Award and 7 IMA Outstanding Achievement Awards

April 19, 2016

HeBS Digital, the leading hotel digital technology, full-service digital marketing and website revenue optimization consulting firm won the “Best Hotel and Lodging Online Campaign” award, IAC’s highest honor in the Hotel and Lodging Category.

HeBS Digital worked in collaboration with its valued hotel partners to win these awards, developing creative, conversion-focused multi-channel marketing campaigns and state-of-the-art property websites, fully optimized to drive maximum revenue from the direct online channel.

Get the full story at HeBS Digital

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Travel and the chat bots

April 18, 2016

‘The chat bots are coming’, headlined the Washington Post in an article this week. Bots, a ‘seemingly nerdy new product’ are ‘the programming trend of the day in Silicon Valley’, wrote the Guardian. In this week of media fanfare after Facebook announced that ‘Bots on Messenger’ are coming, one could be mistaken for thinking they are new.

A quick scan, however, of, a directory featuring over a thousand of the world’s virtual assistants from a range of different industries, proves that this is not the case. In fact, the first ever chat bot, Eliza, was born in 1966 and parodies a therapist to answer questions of patients undergoing Rogerian treatment, a form of person-centred psychotherapy.

On the hotel front Julia is a Polish virtual assistant for Hotel Chobry and focuses strongly on localisation. And Travelodge has Andrea, which uses the technology specifically to reduce the number of routine inbound customer service queries to the call centre. Travelodge says this saves hugely on customer service costs while also increasing customer satisfaction levels.

Get the full sory at EyeForTravel

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Hotel booking using the Facebook messenger platform

April 18, 2016

In particular, several things set this conversion flow apart from traditional user flows such as online or telephone booking:

- The user can have a conversation to explore options at their own pace, without the need to talk over the phone.

- Notifications can be used after an idle period to remind users of an unfinished search, reducing the likelihood of a lost conversion.

- The barrier to entry is very low – small hotel chains can create a Messenger bot for a far lesser cost than developing a fully-fledged app.

- The system can be automated, reducing the need for expensive human-based customer service.

- Facebook has long been a gold mine of personal information, and leveraging it to suggest properties an individual user is most likely to book is a capability that is much harder to achieve through traditional channels.

Get the full story at Koddi

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Starwood’s taking hotel reservations from Instagram

April 18, 2016

The process isn’t exactly seamless: When users tap one of the photos, they receive a link via email to book their stay at the hotel’s featured properties. Two new Parisian hotels, Le Metropolitan and Le Dokhan’s, can now be booked in this way.

“Considering our target audience of socially connected independent-minded travelers and that we are a new brand of independent hotels, social media is very important for us,” said Dave Marr, global brand leader for Tribute Portfolio.

While Instagram has started offering “shop now” buttons, marketers not spending ad dollars on the platform still don’t get to embed clickable links with their posts.

Get the full story at Digiday

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Study: 10% of global travel revenue generated by TripAdvisor?

April 18, 2016

The study also suggested that TripAdvisor users spend less on average per day than other travellers, allowing them to extend their trips.

James Kay, a spokesman for TripAdvisor, said: ‘What is interesting is that TripAdvisor is having two notable effects on travel spending.

‘On the one hand visitors are saving money per day by using the site to find better value options, while on the other hand the confidence they gain through reading reviews leads to an increase in both the number of trips they make and how long those trips last for.’

Get the full story at DailyMail UK

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The reasons why business travel isn’t up to modern trends

April 18, 2016

The views of road warriors compared to their managers may as well be on different coasts, according to a new study.

The 11th report from AirPlus is the first of the business travel payment provider's studies to include the viewpoints of business travelers. The report features insights based on responses from more than 1,000 business travelers and more than 800 travel managers from 24 countries. In opening the study up to the workers that deal with travel directly, the report highlighted the disconnect between business travelers and travel managers.

In an exclusive with Entrepreneur, Yael Klein, CEO of the Americas for AirPlus, discussed the findings of the report, which will officially be released next week. Here are a few interesting observations.

Get the full story at Entrepreneur

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Hotels are getting over the millennials and returning to basics, at last

April 18, 2016

Hyatt has launched a new Centric line of hotels, which feels like a serious departure from the adjective-laden attempts to get at the psyche of business and leisure travelers, and which instead just gets out of the way. A brand video refers to guests as “Modern Explorers” and “wish-listers.” The ‘lounge-centric’ design reminds me of the Ace Hotel in NYC, where guests and locals interact in a library-inspired setting.

“We call them Modern Explorers because these are travelers who are very curious, very independent, and very time crunched,” says Kristine Rose, VP of brands, Hyatt. “They have a wish list and they really want to make the most out of all of their experiences and reasons for traveling.”

These travelers want to be in the center of the urban experience, to interact with locals: local people, local food, local attractions. The restaurant is called‘the Local Bar and Restaurant’ and will feature local dishes served up for the ‘casual foodie’.

Get the full story at GigaOM

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Is unadvertising the new advertising for hotels?

April 18, 2016

Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) is venturing into uncharted territory with their newest advertising campaign, or should I say, “Unadvertising” campaign? Rather than focusing on the cliched imagery and copy that have become synonymous with most hospitality focused advertising campaigns, SLH is going minimalist and cutting out images all together.

The company recently launched their new campaign with the intention of flattering guests rather than trying to pull the wool over their eyes. “Unadvertise” focuses on a non-branded conversation with their guests, implying that they are too smart to simply be convinced by cheesy stock images and saccharine copy. Instead it takes a more “butter them up” approach urging customers to visit the brand site to make up their own minds – the tagline for the campaign.

Get the full story at ScreenPilot

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Webinar: Optimize your hotel’s booking engine to convert visitors into loyal customers

April 18, 2016

Join us on April 21 as we guide you on simple steps to optimize and enhance your booking engine.

During this webinar we will share:

- Mobile trends
- Responsive design best practices
- Customer success stories
- Time for Q&A

For more information and registration please visit Sabre Hospitality Solutions

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How hotels can compete for revenue against the growing threat of Airbnb

April 15, 2016

by Gabor Forgacs and Frederic Dimanche

Airbnb successfully delivers relevant and quantifiable advantages in saving time, defeating distance and generally finding a way to offer a solution for a “pain point” be it constrained travel budget or a preference for a given location. Airbnb also offers the perception of control for users, and a perceived authentic experience with locals.

Airbnb is a disruptor that is able to impact the hospitality and tourism sector in a significant way. Its underlying economic drivers are powerful in a down economy that is stuck in low gear while recovering after recessionary years: more and more of us welcome the opportunity for income or extra income as home owners to rent out space for a fee. Airbnb offers that. On the customer side, most travelers need accommodation on the road and if a decent and affordable one can be conveniently booked, the value of that is recognized.

Hotels that are aware of the increased value-consciousness of travelers may better hold market share against the Airbnb threat if value added features, creative bundling and rate parity are strategically executed and marketed. The objective is not necessarily luring away Airbnb customers. The real objective is not let Airbnb out-market and outcompete a hotel and erode its share of lodging demand. Strategic revenue management would suggest competing on value while refusing to compete on room rate.

The web site is intuitive and user friendly but hotels can learn to match that

Hotels have learned over the years what the decision drivers are for various segments of guests. Price is important; however it alone is not always the most significant decision driver. The power of location is a key factor as well. The J.D. Power Guest Satisfaction Survey (2015) confirmed that “Convenience of location is the primary reason customers enroll in hotel loyalty/rewards programs, with 41 percent of members choosing their program based on convenience of locations where they travel.”

Hotels typically offer a link to a location map and driving directions to getting to their place on their landing page in the form of an optional feature: The potential guest has the option of clicking on a link that opens a map or a set of directions for drivers. It is a two-step process. What Airbnb offers is slightly different: Search results are listed on the left side of the computer screen and a location map on the right side highlights instantly the location of the unit that is being considered. This is a no-click feature (needs a scroll-down on a phone screen). The instant real-time location display is the recognition of the importance of the location as a decision driver and it is seamlessly integrated into the booking process. Hotels that pay attention to the user friendliness and intuitive approach can learn from this subtle but important design feature.

The primary objectives of hotel websites can be summarized in a concise manner: To attract, retain, engage, and convert. Unpacking these terms in a simple way, these ambitious objectives are meant to

- Attract the potential guest and make it easy to be found through understanding the workings of search technology;

- Retain the visitor who ends up on the landing page through the use of site architecture that makes the navigation user friendly and through offering a reason to stay on the site;

- Engage the potential guest through offering appealing content and imagery; and

- Convert the visitor to take desired action (from look to book, signing up for the loyalty program, posting a review, etc.).

The site as a vehicle can create a user experience that reflects the genuine image of a business. All the important aspects of Airbnb are well reflected on their pages in terms of its approach to customers. Hotels may take away some key learnings from the site regarding ease of finding information, visual appeal and functionality but most of all a consistent feel that helps the visitor understand what kind of a business he/she is dealing with.

User friendliness is paramount. The successful site design must be able to offer a consistent user experience for the visitors of hotel sites as well if they are to meet the challenge of staying with a guest through each phase of trip planning. That may require different versions of the same site launched at different access points as most users are multiple device owners and a given trip booking may start on a laptop, continue later on a mobile phone and then conclude on a tablet of the same guest. From the initial idea of going away (inspiration phase) to the post-trip phase of posting reviews and pictures on social media (sharing phase), service providers that want to compete with the Airbnbs of the 21st century should be able to stay in touch with their clientele through each phase of the customer decision journey. Learning to do that efficiently is mission-critical for hotels that don’t want to be outcompeted by new digital players that keep eroding the market shares of hotels.

Consumer preference: from a room number to an individual and hotels can play that card even better

The Airbnb site offers minimal text and appealing visuals. The images tell the story better than text. The carefully worded lines create an appealing illusion of feeling at home at someone else’s place: the rented home of the host. Blending in with the locals is emphasized.

There is a simple reason why these notions resonate so well with today’s travelers: authentic local experiences are sought after. Just as the source of value creation in the 21st century economy has shifted from tangible assets (e.g., machinery and buildings) to intangibles (e.g., cloud based digital platforms or branding), there has been also a similar shift in personal value being placed on authentic experiences versus the ownership of tangible consumer goods.

Airbnb thrives on the appeal of safe adventures and local experiences where a visitor buys into the idea of genuine local flavors versus a somewhat sanitized cookie-cutter experience offered in the name of brand consistency of many hotels. A Holiday Inn stay and a MacDonald’s meal as examples offer a safe comfort zone in a consistent manner in any locales for those customers who need exactly that. There is valid reason of the success of the tag line “The best surprise is no surprise.” – a Holiday Inn classic ad.

However as customer preferences are shifting towards more emphasis on the quality of the travel experiences, a growing number of travelers became more adventurous. Living amongst the locals in a rented local residence instead of staying at a hotel with fellow visitors may offer a better way of getting immersed in the local culture. The exposure to local places and people is a truly personal experience that helps a visitor to connect with a foreign place. The appealing price point coupled with authentic experiences became an attractive value proposition to travelers in more than 34,000 cities around the world.

Strategically astute revenue managers of hotel operators are paying attention to changes in travel habits and shifts in customer preferences. The growth in boutique and lifestyle concepts, dual-branded and focused-service properties, coupled with a growing number of soft brands all reflect meaningful attempts on part of the lodging industry to offering a more high-touch and personalized experience for guests who prefer to be much more than just a room number. The well applied marketing strategy helps maximizing revenue potential.

Interestingly, there are identifiable hotel industry trends which might have contributed to the acceptance of no-service and self-service on behalf of the guests. The trend of speedy procedures and convenience drove the proliferation of self check-in, self check-out, automated wakeup call, automated concierge, plus self-service inside the guest room from coffee makers, ironing boards to safe deposit boxes. Linen and towel replacement are frequently optional for environmental considerations. Guests may conclude that if it is up to them anyway to do all of the above they might as well do that for a lot cheaper by renting a private apartment.

The key learning for hotels is not the reversal of “amenity creep” but the realization that guests, while they don’t mind self-service, might be interested in connecting with local culture in a meaningful way. Some brands already began launching new concepts where “local” is the theme. Interior color, furniture and fabric choices can be a reflection of that. Menu design started to promote local recipes and local ingredients. New lobby designs cater to creating a more social scene for mingling and interacting with other guests and locals. If management can build strong relationships with local artists (art exhibitions, performances) and businesses (pop-up shops) they can successfully promote their hotel as a hub in the local community. A growing number of travelers may take an interest in that. This might help holding occupancy share in saturated markets which is an objective for revenue professionals.

There is one playing field where hotels have the home-field advantage (so far) versus Airbnb. As the home rental business records only the payment transaction and nothing more beyond arrival and departure data, hotels are at an advantage for they can harness the power of rich data they can collect. Hotels may use CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and a new marketing tool of predictive analytics to develop an in-depth understanding of their customers spending patterns and develop dynamic customized packages hitting all the right buttons that are identifiable in the guest profiles. This data driven approach can be a meaningful competitive advantage if played well for individualizing guest stays and maximize revenue per stay.

Dr. Gabor Forgacs is Associate Professor at Ted Rogers School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Frederic Dimanche, Ph.D., is Director of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada.

Article location: reveals top hotel spenders in the U.S.

April 15, 2016

"Interestingly enough, the gap between the highest and lowest spenders has a difference of $87 for just one night's stay," said Taylor L. Cole, APR, travel expert for

Who is visiting the U.S.: in spite of a relatively high price per room per night and a stronger U.S. dollar, the Big Apple remains the most popular destination for Canada, the U.K. and Australia over many other international cities.

Who is spending the most to come to the U.S.: an eclectic mix of nations made it in the Top 10 with travelers from Australia, Argentina and the Philippines in addition to our visitors from South Africa, Japan, Norway, the U.K. and Switzerland.

Who is spending the least: travelers from Central America, including Venezuela, Honduras and Costa Rica, managed to stretch their budgets the furthest for a night's stay in the U.S.

Get the full story at Hotel Online

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Starwood Hotels transforms social influencers into travel agents

April 15, 2016

Two of Tribute Portfolio’s newest Parisian hotels, Le Metropolitan and Le Dokhan’s, are now bookable through social media, an innovative feat likely to prompt other major hotel chains to consider tapping into the growing popularity of influencers, bloggers and mobile shopping platforms., which is owned by publisher monetization service rewardStyle, allows users to sign up for its platform, like various Instagram photos and have the featured products emailed to them with purchasing links, filling a void left by Instagram’s ban of clickable links in picture captions.

“ enables Tribute Portfolio to provide a seamless path to purchase in a place where consumers are discovering daily inspiration – but at the same time, this also allows us to work with an established team of content publishers that will tell the brand’s story organically while tapping into not just our networks, but their networks as well,” said Dave Marr, global brand leader for Tribute Portfolio.

“Of course we hope to see increased bookings as a result of the partnership — but it is more of a secondary goal. We partnered with primarily to drive new brand awareness and engagement for the brand’s target demographic: the socially-connected, independent-minded traveler.”

Get the full story at Luxury Daily

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Booking a hotel direct can result in big savings

April 15, 2016

The reason these websites claim to have the best prices is because they slap on a ‘parity clause’ when the hotels sign up – meaning that they can’t offer cheaper prices through any other channels – even their own.

The thing is, a lot of the time the hotels still do. If you call Australian hotels up, the report found you can often save around 25 per cent on the listed price.

This is even more applicable if you’re booking a trip to Europe. Regulators in big tourist destinations like Germany and France have banned or softened these parity clauses, meaning hostels and hotels are free to offer cheaper prices on their own websites. If you want to stay at a particular place, it makes sense to hit them up direct.

Hoteliers are also able to get around these websites restrictions by offering lower prices through reward and loyalty programs, so these are definitely worth a shout if you’re a frequent traveller.

Get the full story at Techly

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Best hotel loyalty program promotions for spring

April 15, 2016

Here are some of this spring’s best offers to help you top up those loyalty program balances.

Two stays equals a free night with Choice Hotels. Between now and May 4, stay at any two Choice Hotels to earn bonus points for a free night at more than 1,000 Choice properties worldwide. Registration is required to qualify for the extra points.

Earn a Best Western gift card for every two stays. Receive a $25 Best Western gift card for every two stays at one of the company’s worldwide hotels. Between now and May 8, guests can earn as many as five gift cards during the promotion period. You must register before your first stay.

Double down with Hilton this spring. Hilton HHonors is doling out twice the points (or airline miles) for stays between now and April 30 for guests that check into any of its portfolio of hotels around the world. Register to rack up the points first.

Get the full story at USA Today

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Cornell Study: Charging for restaurant reservations may gain acceptance

April 15, 2016

A report on this study, "Revenue Management in Restaurants: Unbundling Pricing for Reservations from the Core Service," by Sheryl Kimes and Jochen Wirtz, is available at no charge from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. Kimes is a professor of operations management at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, and Wirtz is professor of marketing at the National University of Singapore.

Kimes and Wirtz point out that table reservations have a value, but restaurants traditionally include that value as part of the overall cost of a meal. The reservation itself becomes particularly valuable at popular restaurants where tables are hard to get. Recognizing this value, a group of third-party reservation firms have made a business of selling hard-to-get reservations in popular restaurants. Based on that type of scenario, the study, which surveyed 297 U.S. residents, found that a substantial minority of restaurant guests would be willing to pay separately for a restaurant reservation.

"We see some acceptance of the idea of paying separately for a restaurant reservation through third-party firms, especially among respondents who said they were familiar with the practice. So far, though, we are not aware of any restaurant that is charging for reservations," said Kimes. "That said, we anticipate that we may see restaurants adopt this practice as restaurant guests become more familiar with it. This is a logical extension of the revenue management principle of pricing a service to match demand."

"Singapore's taxi system provides an analogy to paying for tables," added Wirtz. "Like restaurants, taxis usually include the value of the reservation as part of the fare that a customer pays. But customers in Singapore are willing to pay an extra reservation fee to ensure that the taxi arrives when they need it. We could see this rationale extending to similar businesses, including restaurants."

Get the full report at Cornell's School of Hotel Administration

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Are you ready for the next industry downturn?

April 15, 2016

Is the industry ready to respond differently than in the past to avoid potential rate spirals and ADR decline?

The hospitality industry, despite its access to high quality historical data and no shortage of smart professionals, falls into the same old pattern during every growth cycle. It builds analysis, projections and channel strategies around a perpetual growth curve and runs its core RMS and CRM systems using algorithms that depend heavily on historical data.

If history is the best predictor of future outcomes, then what does history teach us today so we can be better prepared for the next downturn?

Get the full story at nSight

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Live Webinar: Drive hotel bookings with intelligent content

April 15, 2016

This webinar - Thursday April 21 @ 11AM ET (8AM PT) - will take the content marketing conversation to the next level and explore how you can use more personalized, intelligent visual content to improve your marketing performance.

You’ll learn:

- Why images are the new verbal in the world of content marketing
- How to shift from a mindset of “high resolution” to “intelligent” images
- What a smart hotel visual storytelling strategy looks like and the results it drives

More information and registration at Leonardo

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Four in five travelers booking on hotel websites abandon their reservations

April 14, 2016

L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury Hotels confirms that finding. While almost every Index brand features a booking box on its landing page, the study finds that making reservations can often be time-consuming.

Nearly 40% of Index brands require four or more clicks from the room results page in order to complete a reservation, and over 60% require the user to load multiple pages.

Moreover, for almost half of brands, finding assistance through customer support involves navigating away from the booking process.

Get the full story at L2

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Expedia shifting focus to better serve China outbound market

April 14, 2016

Speaking at a global tour for the media at the Expedia headquarters today, Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Expedia, said: “We found that we added more value to the outbound Chinese traveller versus (serving) the local Chinese traveller as they can be better served by the local companies.”

When asked if the eLong sale was a huge relief given how it was weighing down on Expedia’s profits, Khosrowshahi said: “Frankly, it was mixed feelings for us selling it off. Financially, it was a terrific transaction, but we (still) very much believe in the Chinese travel market.”

Khosrowshahi pointed out that their partnership with Ctrip to sell Chinese travellers outbound packages is an indication that Expedia is not giving up on the China market.

Get the full story at TTG Asia

Read also "How travel brands are dropping the ball when it comes to Chinese travelers" at Skift

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Women book business travel earlier, saving companies millions

April 14, 2016

To answer these questions, Harvard Business Review examined a database of 6.4 million flight bookings in 2014. We isolated data on how far in advance of flight women and men book their travel.

Key takeaways:

- On average, women buy two days earlier than men. Millennial women show the smallest difference in advance planning.

- More travel means less advance booking in general; gender differences erode to virtually no difference for road warriors who travel more than 20 times a year.

- The older any traveler gets, man or woman, the earlier they book, but women at every age group book earlier than men.

Get the full story at Harvard Business Review

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