Data Protection

Chinese spies reportedly behind massive Marriott hack

Dec 17, 2018 / Marriott
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Data breach traced to a Chinese intelligence-gathering effort, The New York Times reports

The cyberattack on the Marriott hotel chain that collected personal details of roughly 500 million guests was part of a Chinese intelligence-gathering effort that also hacked health insurers and the security clearance files of millions more Americans, according to two people briefed on the investigation.

The hackers, they said, are suspected of working on behalf of the Ministry of State Security, the country’s Communist-controlled civilian spy agency. The discovery comes as the Trump administration is planning actions targeting China’s trade, cyber and economic policies, perhaps within days.

Those moves include indictments against Chinese hackers working for the intelligence services and the military, according to four government officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Market Data

Study reveals how Chinese travelers use technology abroad

Dec 17, 2018 / China
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The study looked at how independent Chinese tourists use the internet during their trips abroad and found strong social influences on their digital behaviour

These result from their embedded culture, social circles, and the trust placed in word-of-mouth review platforms.

Researchers found that backpackers enjoy receiving comments and complements on their social media posts, and the process of editing and posting photos. Interacting with comments is an essential element of their trip.

They also highly value digital word-of-mouth recommendations when travelling abroad, making good use of their familiar review platforms, as well as popular ones banned in China. This requires them to learn to use new technologies more commonly used outside their home country.

Branding

Why do hotel companies have so many brands?

Dec 17, 2018 / Marriott
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Hotel brands do matter. But they matter more to hotel owners than to hotel customers

Marriott, like the other big hotel companies, owns very few of its own hotels these days. The hotel owners enter into multiyear contracts with companies like Marriott allowing them to use a specific brand.

“If we had not merged with Starwood, would we be trying to build 30 brands from scratch?” Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson asked, rhetorically, on Marriott’s November 6, 2016, earnings call, the first after the Starwood merger closed. “I think the answer is probably not. At the same time, having done this deal, the 30 brands all exist. They all have substantial capital that has been invested in them, particularly by the hotel owners who have made deliberate bets about which flag they put on their hotels. And we don’t have the power to, nor the desire to, try and convince them that those bets have not been good bets.”

Distribution

Hotel affiliate site hijacking hotels Google My Business listings

Dec 17, 2018 / Google My Business
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Hotel Affiliate site tophotelsnearme.net is currently hijacking hotels Google My Business listings and replacing their official website URL with their own links

This affiliate site uses “Suggest Edit” in Google Maps to suggest their own URL, a few more account then select the edit as correct and hey presto the edit is approved.

They have even managed to hijack and change verified hotel business listings. Verified listings should be more difficult as the owner account is notified of changes made and to accept or deny the edits.

According to Tim Capper, this just shows how weak and susceptible the Google My Business ecosystem is. The sooner Google starts to trust businesses over users, the sooner some of these vulnerabilities will be closed. It is also a very timely reminder why business must claim and verify their Google Business listings and monitor them.

Digital Marketing

Facebook marketing success is not accidental

Dec 17, 2018 / Facebook
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Travel Market Report’s “Outlook on Social Media” survey queried travel advisors about their social media marketing habits

The most often stated objective of using social media is to obtain new customers, said 87 percent of advisors responding to the survey. Following that were marketing to existing customers (77 percent), and building awareness (75 percent).

As a result of their efforts on Facebook, 61 percent of advisors surveyed said they are obtaining 1-5 bookings a month, while 10 percent said they generate between 6-10 bookings a month, and 20 percent said they are obtaining no bookings.

Loyalty Program

Hotel loyalty in the post-transaction era

Dec 17, 2018 / Runtriz (sponsored)
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Part of the problem with loyalty programs in a digital world is the slow speed at which they move, especially in hospitality

So much must be spent, which requires not just more considerable sums of money but also time in order to gain/use rewards in a transactional model. However, the new digital guests move quickly. They must be able to get more from a brand than points to feel loyal. And a transactional program doesn’t generate anything in terms of emotional loyalty, values loyalty, what I call convenience loyalty. Each of the latter requires a full understanding of your particular guest base and corresponding, genuine commitment to guest engagement.

This article looks at three ways of generating loyalty in a post-transaction world.

Digital Marketing

Product spotlight: Hotel blogs

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Shutterstock

The hotel blog serves as a platform to share informational and inspirational content, all while driving traffic to the hotel website and attracting prospective guests

With more relevant content, hotels can increase organic visibility. Since blogs provide the opportunity to frequently add new content, Google and other search engines can serve your website listing in more organic search queries. Additionally, blog content about your hotel’s destination will position your brand as a destination expert, build trust with potential guests, and allow them to find useful information and answers to their questions without having to search elsewhere on the internet.

The guest includes top of funnel travelers who are usually looking for more information on the hotel or its destination. They are using search engines and social media to discover websites and content.