The Hotel and Travel Week

Monday, 25th July 2011

Google removes snippets of customer reviews from sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor from Google Places and Maps. The move, announced in Google’s official blog at the end of last week, follows the disclosure of an U.S. anti-trust investigation last month. The federal investigation is looking into whether Google abuses its market power by favouring its own services over those of competitors. Now, a user looking at a hotel listing will get all the existing content (photos, address, website link, prices) but the number of reviews has been stripped down dramatically. This comes at a time when the Sunday Times announces an investigation of TripAdvisor reviews after both hoteliers and freelance writers advertised for fake hotel reviews on freelance writing websites such as i-freelancer.org.
Tuesday, 26th July 2011
Hilton Hotels & Resorts launches “Stay Hilton, Go Everywhere” – the group’s first iAd campaign. iAd is Apple’s mobile advertising network which reaches millions of iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users through applications. With this campaign, Hilton aims to showcase virtual vacations at nine Hilton properties around the world. It features Twitter and email integration, photography and downloadable wallpapers.
Wednesday, 27th July 2011
Facebook debuts a step-by-step online guide aimed at helping small businesses to use the social networking website. The ‘online education center’ gives directions on how to set up a profile page, create targeted ads and deals and interact with customer feedback online. Interestingly, this comes just a week after Google began shutting off all company profiles on its Google+ social network. Access the guide at: facebook.com/business
Thursday, 28th July 2011
Researchers at Cornell University in the U.S. have developed software which can identify fake hotel reviews by analysing its linguistic structure, they claim. The technology tested 800 reviews of hotels in Chicago and was able to pick out ‘deceptive reviews’ with almost 90% accuracy. Apparently, the software analyses sentiment, word structure and grammar. While true reviews use more concrete words like ‘bathroom’, ‘check-in’ etc. fake reviews are more about setting the scene, they say. Moreover, it would appear that deceivers use more verbs while truth-tellers use more nouns. Cornell students see the technology being applied in the travel industry perhaps as a ‘first round filter’, allowing sites to score potentially false reviews which require further investigation.
Friday, 29th July 2011
Google launches Hotel Finder for hotels in the U.S. which is a search tool designed specifically to make it easier to find and compare hotels. Click on the screenshot to enlarge:
The main features include: drawing simple shapes to define the destination areas of interest, seeing popular locations on maps, adding a hotel to a shortlist with just one click, where they can be reviewed easily later on. In addition, users can see if they will get a good deal by comparing a hotel’s current price with the typical one.
The filter on the left-hand side offers various options such as: location filters, arrival and departure dates, price point filters as well as hotel ratings & user rating filters.

Hotel Pic of the Week: Delano Hotel Miami Beach

The Delano Hotel is known for its unconventional, art-deco styling and its celebrity clientele. It features 194 guest rooms, suites and lofts, directly on the beach. The hotel is part of the Morgans Hotel Group collection. The Delano is an art hotel, designed by Philippe Starck, a well-known French product designer. The collection of furniture and objects shown at the hotel includes works from artists such as Antonio Gaudi, Man Ray, Charles and Ray Eames, Salvador Dali and Mark Newson. Other Delano Hotel highlights include an indoor/outdoor lobby, orchard, pool with underwater music and a rooftop spa.

Miami Beach has a large collection of art-deco buildings, with around thirty blocks of hotels and apartment houses from the 1920s to the 1940s. Nearly all have now been restored and painted in their original pastel colors.

View more photos of Art Déco Hotels on Flickr

The Hotel and Travel Week

Monday, 18th July 2011

Expedia.com launches a new platform to support its Travel Agent Affiliate Programme (TAAP). TAAP is currently used by more than 15,000 Travel Agencies worldwide. Expedia Access was developed in consultation with Expedia Travel Agent affiliates and delivers new benefits from a simplified login procedure over personalisation to activity reports. It also allows agencies to put an Expedia Search Widget on their own website, while still earning commission on bookings.
Tuesday, 19th July 2011
Orbitz for Business, the corporate travel arm of Orbitz Worldwide introduces a programme that gives hotels prominent website visibility and search placement in exchange for providing refundable rates and amenities. Corporate customers that participate in Business Advantage can access the discounted rates with no online booking or cancelation fees if the reservation is canceled or changed at least 24 hours before check-in. Orbitz had launched a pilot in January 2011 where participating hotels have seen a 62% year to year increase in Orbitz for Business bookings (compared to a 20 percent increase for non-participating hotels). The programme is available from hotel partners in the U.S., as well as Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
Concorde Hotels & Resorts, Paris, announces the launch of a new, comprehensive digital strategy later this month that includes social media, e-commerce and a new website spending a total of US$568,000 (400,000 Euros) with an expected return on investment of 13% to 20% within 18 months.
Wednesday, 20th July 2011
InterContinental Hotels Group launches a Priority Club Reward application for the Windows Phone 7 operating system. The new app enables guests to find and book hotel rooms, check rates and view or cancel reservations for all 7 IHG brands.
Thursday, 21st July 2011
Marriott Caribbean & Mexico Resorts start a Facebook contest for couples that are followers to win a free resort trip in exchange for blog submissions, detailing why they need a trip in the Caribbean sun to revive their romance. From July 15-28 applicants can submit a written narrative or short video clip. Following the submission period, 10 finalists will be chosen and then voted on by Facebook fans. The two finalists with the most votes will receive a 4-night stay, as well as a resort credit and activities unique to the chosen resort. Both couples will commit to posting at least three blog entries per day, to be published on Resort to Romance Website and the Marriott Resorts Caribbean and Mexico Facebook Page.
Friday, 22nd July 2011
Price comparison website Kelkoo Travel will relaunch next week in an attempt to get a larger slice off the UK and European online booking market. Kelkoo Travel has been online since 2002/03 but has suffered from a lack of investment, they say. Kelkoo’s hotel booking site will relaunch in the UK first, then rolled out to their other nine European markets. Flights and car hire will be added in September.

Hotel Pic of the Week: Art Deco Hotels Miami Beach

Hotel Chesterfield – Exterior at Night

The South Beach Group has 10 boutique hotels in Miami Beach which are all art deco South Beach hotels. The group offers accommodation for the budget traveler as well as upscale hotels. Hotel Chesterfield is located at Collins Avenue a few steps from Ocean Drive and the beach.

View more photos of South Beach Hotels on Flickr

 

The Hotel and Travel Week

Monday, 15th August 2011

Travel portal Travel Republic wins 10 places in the list of top UK e-retailers and ranks now number 18 compared to 28 last year.

According to IMRG, an industry association for online retailers, Thomson was the best performing brand, finishing in 10th place, one ahead of EasyJet. Expedia finished in 14h place and British Airways 34th. Travel Republic and the Train Line were the only companies ranking higher in the last quarter than the previous year.

Tuesday, 16th August 2011
The financial crisis in Greece sparks a surge in holiday bookings to the country, says Directline Holidays. They saw bookings for Corfu up 21% in recent weeks while Rhodes has attracted a 5% increase. Holiday makers try to grab a bargain while recent economic events in Greece enable competitive pricing.
Wednesday, 17th August 2011
A new survey from Ypartnership and Harrison Group finds that U.S. travelers are becoming more tech-savvy and driven by value, when determining which hotel to stay at. 77% of the 2,500 adults queried agree that they are “smarter shoppers” because of the economic situation and 2 in 10 have used flash sale sites. However, the lowest price is not the biggest motivator, as 64% said they were willing to pay full price to get the quality and service they believe they deserve. To find out the best value, people increasingly use the latest technology. 61% said they check TripAdvisor for hotel reviews when booking a hotel. And the number of people that downloaded a smartphone travel application increased from 19% in 2010 to 28% in 2011.
Thursday, 18th August 2011
Beverly Hills Hotel Los AngelesThe Beverly Hills Hotel Los Angeles opens its 2 new luxury Presidential Bungalows. Each offers nearly 5,000 465 square meters of living space inside and out and has their own private entrance. Rates start from US$13,610 to US$15,380 per night.The royal couple Prince William and Kate (The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) also stayed in one of the bungalows during their 2011 trip to Canada and Los Angeles.
Friday, 19th August 2011
Air Berlin announces a €32.2 million loss for the second quarter and is terminating regional flights to the UK as part of a plan to shed unprofitable routes. The airline will cut its fleet by 8 aircraft, cutting one million seats from its overall capacity. CEO Joachim Hunold who resigned yesterday, said: “In order to become profitable we need to make cuts in our flight routes and in our fleet.” Harmut Mehdorn, an Air Berlin board member since July 2009 and controversial former boss of Deutsche Bahn AG, will become interim CEO from 1st September.

The Hotel and Travel Week

Monday, 11th July 2011

Hilton announce that they will outfit more than 1,000 hotel fitness centers around the world with new customizable technical equipment, including touch screen consoles, iPod compatibility, ePub readers, pre-loaded sample exercises, Internet connectivity, integrated television and personal TV screens with nearly 40 channels to choose from. The phased roll out throughout all of Hilton’s brand portfolio will begin next year and continue until the end of 2012.
 
Tuesday, 12th July 2011
 
TripAdvisor acquires Where I’ve Been. This acquisition underpins TripAdvisor’s continued focus and growth in social media. Where I’ve Been allows users to share their world map on social networks and interact with others. The Facebook application has 10 million users.
Wednesday, 13th July 2011
Expedia and Groupon’s new joint venture launches in the U.S. Groupon Getaways is a flash sale site offering discounted hotel stays. Deals follow the Groupon model and are available for a limited time and quantity with a discount rate of about 50%. The website is also very similar to the main Groupon site: www.groupon.com/getaways
Thursday, 14th July 2011
 
Embassy Suites Hotels launches a promotional contest giving away 14 nights and 15k US$ to the family that submits their most awkward photo. Working with the partner website AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com, Embassy Suites engage with 40% of their customers who are traveling for leisure with their families. The brand also stays consistent with previous unusual online promotions such as the ‘Business Travel Blunder’ essay contest in 2009. Submit your photos at: awkwardfamilyphotos.com
Friday, 15th July 2011
Hyatt acquires 24 hotels from LodgeWorks, a privately held hotel development, ownership and management company for 802 million US$. All the properties are located in the U.S., including 5 in California and 2 in Washington. Hyatt will manage all hotels and brand them under Hyatt labels. The acquisition enables the company to introduce Hyatt-branded hotels in 9 new markets where it hasn’t been represented to date.

Hotel Pic of the Week: Atlantis, The Palm Hotel Dubai

Atlantis, The Palm Dubai has been designed in an aquatic theme. The hotel is surrounded by the Marine & Waterpark with Dolphin Bay and features several beaches and pools as well as a Spa, numerous restaurants, bars and Sanctuary Nightclub.

This picture of Atlantis, The Palm hotel was taken from the Observatory Bar at the top of Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites.

View more hotel photos on Flickr

 

The Hotel and Travel Week

Monday, 4th July 2011

International tourist arrivals increase by 4.5% in the first 4 months of 2011, compared to the same period last year, despite of the still lingering recession and increased oil prices in many parts of the world. This is the result of a survey carried out by the United Nations World Tourism Organization. South America (increase of 17%), South Asia (14%) and Southeast Asia (10%) see the largest increases. Only the Middle East register a decrease of 14% and so does Northern Africa with 11% because of the ‘Arab Spring’.
Tuesday, 5th July 2011

Google shuts down Realtime Search as their deal with Twitter expires. The deal dated back to late 2009 when both parties agreed that Google would show realtime Twitter results in Google searches. On Tuesday Google announced via Twitter that it had temporarily shut down its Realtime Search service while working on the company’s new Google+ social networking attempt. Apart from that, Google or Twitter say little why the deal has ended.
Wednesday, 6th July 2011
 
Online travel agency Orbitz releases its first iPad application on Wednesday. Users can book hotels and airfare with the application which features tools not available in the iPhone app. According to Orbitz: ‘The new Orbitz Hotels App for iPad delivers the entire selection of Orbitz hotel properties, refined comparison tools, and secure booking in just 3 taps.’
The application can be downloaded for free at: Orbitz Hotels App for iPad

Thursday, 7th July 2011

StumbleUpon, a bookmarking and sharing engine, is now the biggest traffic driver among social media websites in the U.S., according to web analytics service StatCounter. StatCounter say that the company overtook Facebook during June 2011. StumbelUpon, which finds and recommends relevant web content and calls itself the Discovery Engine, was founded in 2001 and sold to eBay for $75 million in 2007. StatCounter tracks hits to over 3 million websites. Its social media data is gathered by analyzing every hit originating from a social media site.
Google announces that Google+ brand pages will be launched in 2 weeks time. Similar to Facebook brand pages, Google will also offer pages on it’s new social networking service Google+. Companies can apply and Google will approve brand pages according to how successful companies have been with social media in the past. The first brand page is already online, though: Ford on Google+. Apparently, thousands of companies have already applied and Google is overwhelmed by the interest.

Hotel Pic of the Week: William and Kate @ Beverly Hills Hotel Los Angeles

The Beverly Hills Hotel is a stunning hotel of the Dorchester collection. Located on Sunset Boulevard in Beverly HIlls, it is home to the rich and famous. The royal couple Prince William and Kate (The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) will stay at the hotel this week during their first international trip to Canada and Los Angeles.

View more photos on Flickr

 

The Hotel and Travel Week

Monday, 27th June 2011

Ritz-Carlton announce that their concierges will work with Foursquare and add their expertise to the location-based social media network. They say, this marks the first time a luxury hotel brand extends services that are usually exclusive to hotel guests to a public audience.
Tips will be populated by concierges from all 75 Ritz-Carlton hotels and provide valuable insight into the destination.
Tuesday, 28th June 2011
Google’s +1 button – similar to the Facebook ‘Like’ – has already been available in the United States for a few months on search pages and on individual websites for several weeks. It will now be expanded to google.co.uk, google.de, google.jp and google.fr.
Developers can now add the +1 button to their websites: www.google.com/+1
Spire, the member-only flash sale site for luxury hotels worldwide is the first such site to offer cancellations for up to 72 hours in advance. While they charge a 30 US$ cancellation fee, the package price is refunded. Moreover, Spire promise to offer the lowest price and back this with at least 30% discount on the lowest comparable offer found anywhere else: www.spire.com
Wednesday, 29th June 2011
Great Wolf Resorts, a company that runs 12 waterparks in the U.S. has launched a system to connect their wristbands with the guests’ Facebook accounts to automatically share photos. Guests can have their pictures taken at certain points throughout the resorts. Using the radio-frequency identification technology of the wristbands, the guest is identified and the photos posted to their Facebook page.
Thursday, 30th June 2011
Four Points by Sheraton sponsors a Facebook contest with a 25,000 US$ prize for an unbelievable business story generating the most votes. In order to take part in the competition, a user has to ‘Like’ the Facebook page and can then submit a story of 500 words or less.
Voting fans also have the chance to win weekly prizes of 2-night stays at Four Points hotels in the U.S. and Canada. The winner of the main prize will be announced on 7th September.
Friday, 1st July 2011
Hotels.com shares a list of top hotels for royal roadies, i.e. those who want to follow the royal couple Prince William and Kate (Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) throughout their first international trip to Canada and the United States or catch a glimpse of them in a city they visit this and next week. The list features hotels like the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec and the Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles and is meant to make roadies feel like royals themselves, Hotels.com say.
However, the royal couple themselves will stay in different hotels. The most obvious one – The Beverly Hills Hotel Los Angeles, a famous luxury hotel of the Dorchester Collection.