The Hotel and Travel Week

Monday, 24th October 2011

Starwood adds hotel reviews to their corporate website and is the first global hotel company to do so. The new function will let Sheraton, Westin, W and other Starwood hotel guests write an assessment of their recent hotel stay directly on Starwood websites. Like TripAdvisor, Starwood will first check reviews for bad language before publishing. Then, Starwood will take the added step of confirming the reviewer’s stay. The process could take 2 or 3 days. Once a review has been vetted and confirmed, Starwood will publish it – no matter whether good or bad, they say.

Tuesday, 25th October 2011

Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts is adopting a new brand positioning, targeting ‘strivers’ who are ‘traveling for success’, a group they say represents 9% of all annual hotel stays and is currently unsatisfied with available options in the marketplace. Strivers are defined as individuals who are climbing the ladder to success but have not yet arrived. Crowne Plaza will adopt its new positioning during 3 phases to be completed in 2015.

Wednesday, 26th October 2011

OTAs are now part of the deal at Google Flight Search. Intermediaries are no longer completely shut out of the service. Although airlines are still more prominent, all 4 major online travel agencies now advertise on Google Flight Search, for example Priceline, Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity as well as Cheapoair and Kayak.

Thursday, 27th October 2011

Google is taking its Street View feature indoors. Last May the company announced it would be taking interior shots of stores, but now it is moving out of this pilot phase with more 360 degree interiors showing up online. In order to have your hotel’s interior photographed, you must fill out an application with Google. If chosen, you will be contacted by Google’s photographers to set up a time for the shoot. Google owns all rights to the photos, though including the right to keep an image up, even if you object to it. In order to have an image removed, you must submit a request for it to be taken down. According to a Google spokesperson, the company has already worked with thousands of businesses to shoot these 360 degree interior views. Photos will be available on your Google business page as well as the Google Maps Street View.

Friday, 28th October 2011
The European Travel Commission (ETC) publishes its third quarterly report on European Tourism in 2011 for the third quarter of the year. According to the report, travel recovery is continuing. However, the rate of expansion is slowing with few exceptions because of the economic landscape which presents a challenging environment for travel. Through August, room demand has grown nearly 4% and been particularly strong in Eastern and Southern Europe, with occupancy rates up 7.3% and 5.2%, respectively. Although occupancy growth has been relatively weak in Western Europe (2.4% YTD), room rates have performed well above average, growing 4.8%. European inbound travel is expected to slow markedly, to 2.3% in 2012 from 5.6% in 2011. The core Eurozone countries are most exposed to the downturn.

Hotel Pic of the Week: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Berlin

The Ritz-Carlton Berlin has been built as part of the Potsdamer Platz project in the 1990s and is close to attractions such as Berlin Sony Center or the shopping center Potsdamer Platz Arkaden. While the architecture at Potsdamer Platz is very modern and sometimes spectacular, the Ritz-Calton Hotel reminds of American art deco skyscrapers that dominate the skyline of New York or Chicago. The 5-star Ritz-Carlton Hotel Berlin features around 300 hotel rooms, La Prairie Boutique Spa, Brasserie Desbrosses restaurant, a Tea Lounge and Cocktail Bar.

View more photos of Ritz-Carlton Hotels on Flickr

The Hotel and Travel Week

Monday, 17th October 2011

TravelCube, the Kuoni-owned online bed bank launches weekly flash sales exclusively for travel agents. TravelCube’s sister company GTA will negotiate discounts similar to the Groupon model which will then be available on the website for 7 days. The first flash sale launches on Monday in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, offering discounts on hotels in London, Monaco and Bangkok of 40% to 50% lower than the hotels’ rack rates.
Tuesday, 18th October 2011
The Arab Spring has taken a toll on tourism in nations from Jordan and Egypt to Morocco and Tunisia, costing the region more than US$7 billion, according to the Arab Tourism Organization in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The number of visitors to North Africa and the Middle East dropped by 13% and 11% in the first half of 2011, said Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the United Nations World Tourism Organization in Madrid.
Wednesday, 19th October 2011
The owner of the Grand Resort Hotel and Convention Center in Pigeon Force, Tennessee sues online hotel review company TripAdvisor for US$10 million. He alleges that TripAdvisor ‘maliciously and wrongfully’ hurt his hotel’s business by placing Grand Resort atop its ‘2011 Dirtiest Hotels’ list for U.S. hotels in January. According to TripAdvisor ‘The top 10 list of dirtiest hotels is compiled based on traveler ratings for cleanliness on TripAdvisor.’
Thursday, 20th October 2011
Google announces the expansion of its Hotel Finder experiment to include hotels around the world on their Web Search Community forum. The Hotel Finder service is still in English only and with hotel prices in US dollars. There was no further information when the experiment could evolve into a beta or even final product.
Friday, 21st October 2011
Hilton HHonors, Hilton Worldwide’s loyalty programme, launches ‘the world’s largest social media treasure hunt’, giving away 500 free hotel nights over the course of 5 consecutive days this week. In each city, the first 100 people who correctly complete the task and find the Hilton HHonors team will be awarded with a free night certificate, redeemable at any participating property in the Hilton Worldwide portfolio of brands. Clues for the treasure hunt are being given on the Hilton HHonors Twitter account and Facebook page.

Hotel Pic of the Week: Fairmont Hotel Dubai


Fairmont Hotel Dubai, originally uploaded by Corinna Witt.

Hotel Interior Courtyard

The Fairmont Hotel Dubai is modeled after an Arabic wind tower (barajeel) and features 394 rooms on 34 floors including 128 suites and penthouses. It’s located on Sheikh Zayed Road, near the World Trade Centre and opposite Convention Centre and therefore ideal for the business traveller. However, the hotel also features 10 restaurants and bars which are popular with the locals as well as a Spa.

View more photos of Fairmont Hotel Dubai on Flickr

The Hotel and Travel Week

Monday, 10th October 2011

According to the UNWTO Tourism Towards 2030 global forecast, international tourist arrivals are to grow at a more moderate pace of 3.3% per year but will still reach 1.8 billion by 2030. Therefore, an average 43 million additional international tourists will travel every year. It is expected that arrivals will pass the 1 billion mark by 2012, up from 940 million in 2010. Due to the slower growth of North America, there will be increases in the global market shares of Asia and the Pacific (30% in 2030, 22% in 2010), the Middle East (8% up from 6%) and Africa (7% up from 5%), and further declines in the shares of Europe (41% down from 51%) and the Americas (14% down from 16%).
Tuesday, 11th October 2011
Hotel marketing company Travelclick has recently conducted a survey of 455 hoteliers around the world with interesting findings regarding mobile marketing. The poll, carried out during a webinar at the end of August, found that 50% of hoteliers plan to increase mobile marketing during 2012 while 24% intend to keep it at 2011 levels. 3% will likely decrease their spending, and 22.5% don’t have mobile websites or engage in mobile marketing and will keep it that way. “According to Nielsen, 40% of the Western Europe and 38% of the U.S. cell phone markets are dominated by smartphones. Given these rising numbers, it is essential that hoteliers optimize their websites for mobile use to increase direct bookings from travelers that are using their mobile devices to select rooms,” said Jason Ewell, TravelClick’s senior vice president of e-commerce.
© Scott Maxwell - Fotolia.com
© Scott Maxwell – Fotolia.com
 
Wednesday, 12th October 2011
Hotel Management Company Interstate explain how they have driven revenue through local SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Optimisation techniques included adding detailed location information about surrounding neighborhoods, arenas, attractions, convention centers and nearby colleges and universities, as well as upcoming convention dates and calendars of local events, they say. Moreover, they have made the hotels unique by adding specific descriptions of hotel amenities such as conference and meeting facilities, banquet halls, restaurants, pools and wedding planning services all key factors that frequently appear in travelers’ search criteria. Custom hotel page content was also distributed through a content management system to Google, Yahoo, Bing and hundreds of online directories. Interstate say this drove US$4.3 million in additional business for the company which meant a whopping return of US$84 in bookings for each marketing dollar invested.
Thursday, 13th October 2011
Marriott International launches a new website for their Autograph Collection which is aiming at the “individualistic” traveler. The website design presents visitors with the option to browse by experience type, destination or property name and is highly interactive.
Launched last year, the Autograph Collection is a group of exceptional independent hotels, each picked for their originality, character and uncommon details. To date, the Autograph Collection portfolio includes 24 properties in the United States, Europe, and the British Virgin Islands, with plans to double by the end of the year.
 
Friday, 14th October 2011
HRS acquires 61.6% stake in hotel.de in an attempt to strengthen the two companies’ market position in an increasingly competitive market climate. Dr. Heinz Raufer, CEO of hotel.de AG: ‘This combination comes at exactly the right time, will boost hotel.de’s position in the global hotel portal business and provides us with a superb basis for our further development.’

Hotel Pic of the Week: Kempinski Emirates Palace Hotel Abu Dhabi

The 5-star Kempinski Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi has become a landmark and is the most luxurious hotel in the city. It is surrounded by a private sandy beach and beautifully landscaped gardens. It has a large meeting and banquet area as well as more than 10 exclusive restaurants and bars.

View more photos of Emirates Palace Hotel Abu Dhabi on Flickr

The Hotel and Travel Week

Monday, 3rd October 2011

Thompson Hotels and boutique hotel operator Joie de Vivre Hospitality announce that they have merged into a new venture provisionally known as JT Hospitality. This is the first step in creating a global, multi-brand lifestyle hotel group with plans to increase the number of properties from currently 45 to 75 within 3 years.
Thompson Hotels is an international collection of 12 luxury lifestyle hotels, while Joie de Vivre mainly runs boutique hotels in California.
 
Tuesday, 4th October 2011
Best Western International launches their ‘Virtual Accelerator‘ Facebook application. The app lets Best Western Rewards members, who like the Facebook page, take a spin behind a digital wheel. Players can win rewards points, redeemable at Best Western hotels. The group say they will give away a total of 10 million points via the application, which is the equivalent of more than 1,200 free nights.
Wednesday, 5th October 2011
Several airlines have to cancel flights to and from Greece as as the country’s air traffic controllers join a 24-hour general strike.
Thursday, 6th October 2011
News about the death of Steve Jobs, Apple founder and visionary, break and tributes are being posted throughout all social networks. The 3 top trending topics on Twitter are RIPSteveJobs, #ThankYouSteve and #iSad. Apple set up a special email address on their website for people to share ‘thoughts, memories, and condolences’: www.apple.com
Thank you, Steve Jobs for having had the vision of bringing solutions onto the market that were truly innovative and solved problems we didn’t even know we had, products that make working with them easy, playing with them fun and that let us see the future!
Friday, 7th October 2011
The French government orders online travel agent Expedia to pay a fine of €427,000 for ‘misleading marketing practices’. According to a French court ruling Expedia was displaying incorrect information on hotel room availability, incorrect contact information for hotels and inaccurately described standard rates as promotional discounts. The French hotelier federation Synhorcat initiated a complaint with the government about Expedia’s practices which led to the ruling.