The Hotel and Travel Week #6

Monday, 23rd November

The World Tourism Organization UNWTO publishes the latest Tourism Barometer which suggests that the lowest point of the financial crisis may be over. The organization monitors short term tourism trends on a regular basis 3 times a year in January, June and October. They say, tourism has been seriously hit by the recession, although coping better than other industries. International tourist arrivals declined by 7% between January and July 2009. The data in October however show a smaller decline of only 3% compared to last year. This is been seen as an indication that tourism is picking up again. Tourism Barometer
Tuesday, 24th November
IHG starts an online marketing campaign on Twitter inviting consumers to follow their Deals Twitter account. Followers have the chance to win prizes, including a 7-night stay at any IHG hotel in the world. The Tweet Away campaign starts on 1st December and runs until the end of 2009.
Wednesday, 25th November
Another hotel giant announces that they will start an online promotion on the 30th November. Starwood will kick-off their Cyber Monday Sale on that day which will only run for 3 days. Special rates at 50 of the world’s best resorts in premium destinations like the Bahamas, Bora Bora, Puerto Rico and Tahiti are on offer. Get a sneak preview.
Thursday, 26th November

Hotels in the United Arab Emirates see the sharpest decline in occupancy in October compared to the same month last year, according to a new report by STR Global. RevPar (Revenue per available room) plummets by just over 30% to USD194,5. The occupancy rate drops by 10% to 74,4%. The heavy decline is said to be caused by falling demand, but in the case of Dubai also by increasing supply. This comes along news of Dubai World, the Emirate’s state-owned property developer, possibly defaulting on its debt. Maybe some destinations haven’t hit the bottom line, yet?

Friday, 27th November
The number of WTM (World Travel Market) attendees in London earlier this month has dropped by approximately 8% compared to last year. Here are the figures.

The Hotel and Travel Week #5

Monday, 16th November

SpringHill Suites by Marriott launches an online video memory contest to celebrate its latest redesign. A new prototype property design is hugely popular with guests and guest feedback has been tremendous, says Marriott. Now everyone can take part in the online game and win prizes. Based on the concept of a memory game, the SprinHill Suites video memory contest takes players on a tour of the new design and challenges them to recall what they saw in the lobby, guest room or fitness area. The score can then be shared with friends on Facebook or Twitter which increases the chances of winning a prize. Take the quiz yourself to test your memory.
Tuesday, 17th November
TripAdvisor now offers business listings on their site. Hotels can list URL, telephone number and email address of their property on the world’s largest and most popular travel community website. This represents a new opportunity for hotels to connect directly with millions of researching travelers and potentially converting them into bookers. A flat fee will be charged for the service depending on number of rooms and starting with USD600 per year for a one-year subscription in the U.S. TripAdvisor also offers a 50% discount for properties subscribing until the end of January 2010. The listings will begin to appear from 4th January 2010.
If you are a hotel or B&B owner you can register now at: www.tripadvisor.com/businesslistings
Wednesday, 18th November
Marriott unveils the new look of marriott.com. Marriott says, the improvements include a modernized look & feel, more intuitive layout and one-click guest access to their Marriott Rewards account from anywhere in the site. marriott.com gets more than 12 million visits each month. According to Marriott, more than 75% of their guests say they use the website when planning or booking their hotel stays. However, intensive customer testing had revealed that the site could be confusing and often led to customers booking elsewhere. Marriott therefore redesigned the website and involved its customers in evaluating multiple new design concepts before settling on the one that went live this week. To encourage customers to visit the new site, travel and gift card prizes can be won from now until the 8th of December: www.marriott.com
Thursday, 19th November
Starwood Hotels & Resorts, one of the world’s leading hotel and leisure companies with 982 hotels and brands including Sheraton, Westin and W Hotels, announces that it will move its headquarters from New York to Stamford, Connecticut in 2012. The relocation to Stamford will bring millions of dollars in investment and 800 jobs to the state.
Friday, 20th November
Last month, Hilton Worldwide quietly announced to members that it is raising the number of loyalty points required next year to book a free night. The change will basically devalue Hilton HHonors points by about 20%. Travel industry analysts question this move at a time when hotel demand is down on corporate, conference and leisure travel as guests might just go somewhere else.

 

The Hotel and Travel Week #4

Monday, 9th November

Hilton Worldwide announces the launch of ‘the most comprehensive iPhone application in the lodging industry’. The application encompasses 7 brands in the United States: Conrad, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Hampton Inn. It also features a ‘Request Upon Arrival’ service whereby a traveler can place an order for room service upon arrival at a Hilton, Doubletree and Embassy Suite hotel. Moreover, there is the ‘e-check-in’, for remote check-in up to 48 hours in advance. Both these features are a first in the hotel industry.
The launch comes after reports of a 59% increase in mobile revenue for Hilton during the third quarter of 2009 compared to the first quarter of the year which is primarily generated from the company’s mobile website that was launched 2 years ago.
The hotel owners / OTA row, initiated by Choice vs. Expedia 4 weeks ago, continued on Monday when the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), the world’s largest association of hotel owners, took stance against last-room availability. Read more.

Tuesday, 10th November

 
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts launches a new website and becomes first in the industry to use Facebook Connect. Users can now connect directly to their Facebook account from sheraton.com, share travel experiences, upload pictures and more. If they are not on Facebook, they can still participate and also create a two-way dialogue with the brand through the site’s new online community. Sheraton.com has also been optimised for search so that visitors will be able to find stories by activity and interest, including beach, romance, sports, business and spa. Each story is accompanied by hotel information, a booking interface and applicable special offers.
The new site is part of a USD6 billion worldwide effort to revitalise the Sheraton brand.

Wednesday, 11th November

Choice Hotels International and Expedia announce to have signed a new three-year agreement to include Choice properties on the more than 80 sites Expedia operates worldwide. The hotels will start to be available again on expedia.com and hotels. com within a week and later on hotwire.com. The terms of the agreement and whether Choice is offering Expedia the much discussed last-room availability have not been disclosed.
This announcement seems to mark the end of an argument between Choice and Expedia that had started publicly a month ago and dominated the hotel industry news.
Thursday, 12th November
TUI explains its reasoning behind the launch of the new portal Cheqqer.com during a seminar on travel technology at World Travel Market London. The site has been launched in the Netherlands this summer and provides user-generated reviews which are then rated by other users. The highest quality reviews are always displayed first. The user can also filter reviews by demographic to best suit their requirements. While there have only Dutch reviews been loaded so far, reviews from across the TUI travel portfolio will be added in future with a plan to have 1 million reviews loaded in early 2010.
 
Friday, 13th November
British Airways and Iberia agree upon merging and will become the world’s third largest airline by revenue. The merger is expected to be completed in late 2010. The aim is to combine the carriers’ leading positions in the UK and Spain. The new group should also enhance the two airlines’ strong positions in the international long haul markets. Both individual brands and current operations will be retained. BA also says, the merger won’t have an impact on the further job cuts that had been announced last week.

The Hotel and Travel Week #3

Monday, 2nd November

Rotana Hotels announces plans to open the tallest hotel of the world in Dubai in December 2009. The Rose Rayhaan Hotel will rise 72 storeys at a height of 333 meters and offer 481 rooms, suites and penthouses.
Tuesday, 3rd November
Priceline’s The Hotel Negotiator becomes the #3 free travel application on the Apple Store. Featuring William Shatner, the application has a Shake Down function whereby shaking the device establishes the traveler’s location and performs a winning bids search for hotels in the surrounding area. The application is available for iPhone and iPod touch.
Wednesday, 4th November
The world’s biggest budget airline Ryanair announces a profit of 387 million Euros for the first half of 2009. This means an 80% increase in profits. At a time where airlines struggle, the announcement came as a surprise. Reasons mentioned were, business travelers increasingly using budget airlines as well as Ryanair’s additional charges such as check-in and luggage fees.
Thursday, 5th November
One of the big sticking points in the ongoing feud between Choice Hotels and Expedia is last-room availability. It requires hoteliers to make every room available to the OTA. Hoteliers say, this effectively renders revenue management ineffective. A survey by HotelMarketing.com confirms that it is hardly standard operating procedure in the hotel industry, although the controversial practice is becoming increasingly prevalent.
Friday, 6th November
British Airways plans to cut a further 1,200 jobs after a loss before tax of £292m ($485m) within the 6 months up to September. This is the first time BA announces such a loss over the summer period. BA says the reason is that all airlines are facing the same pressure during this recession. 2009 is said to be the most difficult year in the history of the aviation industry.

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Big iPhone hit: The Hotel Negotiator

Priceline has just landed a big hit with its new iPhone and iPod touch application, featuring William Shatner.


The Hotel Negotiator let’s you name your own price for a hotel in a certain location and of a chosen category. Using a one-page checkout, you will know instantly whether your bid has been accepted. A special treat is the Shake Down function, whereby shaking the device establishes the traveler’s location and then performs a winning bids search for hotels in the surrounding area. For those who are not in the mood for negotiation, the Hotel Negotiator also contains an option for browsing hotels on priceline.com for a particular city or town.

After one week of being available, the Hotel Negotiator has already climbed to the #3 free travel application on the App Store. Priceline’s heavy marketing and PR campaign has certainly had an impact, too. The downloadable video on YouTube just being part of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hBNL9xx3Ie0
Time will show how much revenue the free application will generate for the company since booking hotels on the fly and blind is not for everyone. However, a very well done and flashy application has certainly brought Priceline awareness and into the media and provides them with a cutting-edge image in the eyes of an ever more demanding customer.