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.