The Hotel and Travel Week

We’ve visited World Travel Market London 2012 last week and here is a quick round-up of impressions:

WTM London 2012 –
destination promoter walking the halls

The most obvious fact compared to previous years was the lack of large OTA exhibitors – the likes of booking.com, HRS etc. Only Expedia showcased with a smallish booth. Are they saving money or don’t they need representation anymore we asked ourselves?

A similar picture with large hotel brands – no corporate IHG, Starwood or Wyndham stands – only smaller groups such as Warwick, Jumeirah and Millienium Copthorne Hotels were present. However, individual hotels exhibited under their given destinations, both branded and independent.

Destination booths there were plenty from all over the world, showing off with costumes, colours and ‘noise’ even though some of their budgets have been cut, too – as Enrique Ruiz de Lera, Head of the Spanish Tourist Office, UK and Ireland told the audience at a social media marketing conference taking place aside the WTM show. During the seminar titled ‘Spain – Marketing in the time of nada’, he offered figures of his marketing budget having shrank from 90 million per year to only 10 at present and how to approach this difficulty.

20.7% of guests who booked on the individual hotel website
found the hotel on an OTA portal.

There was a large technology section, ranging from tech offers like booking interfaces, channel managers, on-site search to mobile and payment solutions. Several seminars and presentations took place on social media marketing (Facebook, Foursquare, Blogging), trends such as the one by PhocusWright on ‘Innovation: Shaking Up the Travel Marketplace’ and general hotel online marketing. During one of the latter, online marketing agency Wihp offered an interesting fact they found doing some market research. OTAs listen up: 20.7% of guests who booked on the individual or brand hotel website found the hotel searching an OTA portal.
Maybe this answers our question above?

QR codes everywhere (stands, posters, hand-outs, business cards) were the big trend at this year’s show. We were slightly surprised that the travel industry took so long to take them on board as we’ve got a QR code on the back of our business cards since 2009!

It also surprised us that only now travel companies are beginning to think about monetising their social media presences and moving on from marketing to social media merchandising. Again, we introduced Hotel FaceBooker 3 years ago – a booking interface enabling users to check availability directly from within Facebook which links to the hotel’s booking engine: www.hotel-facebooker.com

We don’t want to praise ourselves but both facts speak for the accuracy of our company slogan: creative  web solutions for the hotel and travel industry: www.e-conceptory.com

WTM London 2013 we are coming!

WTM London 2012

WTM London 2012

WTM London 2012 starts coming Monday and we are looking forward to the show and innovations in the hotel industry.

For example, Palladium Hotel Group in collaboration with Paytouch is bringing a combination of biometric technology and a Facebook initiative to WTM 2012. World Travel Market visitors will be able to log into Facebook using their fingertips at 4 Palladium Facebook Pods placed around London ExCeL. Users will be able to update their Facebook status and upload pictures directly from these pods.

Alfonso Giménez, Associate Director of Marketing said: “The biometric technology developed by Paytouch, twinned with the existing Facebook sharing options mark a significant advancement for technology and WTM is the ideal platform to launch this exciting initiative.” Palladium Hotel Group has become the first hotel group worldwide to offer Paytouch at its Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel. This biometric technology allows guests to make purchases with the touch of their fingertips.
In 2011 the group pioneered a live Facebook sharing experience. Guests to Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel were able to share their holiday experiences on Facebook in real time using RFID bracelets and totems distributed across the hotel. In just over 2 months, Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel had in excess of 70,000 Facebook ‘likes’, and more than 2000 registered users of the new RFID wristbands.

We will certainly give it a try next week… See you all in London!

The Hotel and Travel Week

It’s Friday the 13th and a good day for a new update on the current online marketing affairs in the hotel and travel industry after a longer break:

How Orbitz attempted more personalization and got bad press
Apple fans took to Twitter last week with their outrage after The Wall Street Journal reported that Orbitz is recommending higher priced hotels to Mac users than to PC users. There was a media frenzy with follow-up articles condemning Orbitz’s discrimination against Mac users. In defense, Orbitz’s PR firm released a statement highlighting what the company considered an overlooked fact: Orbitz does not show Mac and PC users the same hotel at different prices. The Wall Street Journal was blamed for burying this fact in the article and so misleading many readers. The point is, Orbitz identified last October that Mac users had the preference of booking more expensive hotels and simply made it easier for them to find what they were looking for. This is personalization. In addition, Orbitz say they use other information to determine results, such as past purchases and location. Therefore, search results are not only determined by hardware but many other factors that are being used to offer the user a better experience.
Still, the damage has been done and it remains to be seen whether the media outrage puts (Mac) users off Orbitz.

Apple wins a major patent for iTravel 
Apple has received a major patent that relates to transportation check-in and to employing near field communication for identification and ticketing by transportation providers. The timing for this patent is perfect as Apple recently announced a new feature called Passbook which is coming to iOS 6 this autumn. Scott Forstall, Apple’s Senior Vice President of iPhone Software, stated that Passbook would include travel services such as a boarding pass and express check-in both covered by the iTravel patent. The Near Field Communications (NFC) aspect of the patent will also be important for Apple’s future iWallet application.
Apple’s iTravel check-in system will work with Macs, but more importantly, with iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Ticketing and identification information will be stored on the iOS device and transmitted, to another electronic device e.g. via near field communication. The device may be used to check into flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, trains, buses, and so forth.

Element Hotels launch Pledge to Pedal Facebook campaing

The Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide brand Element Hotels is challenging its Facebook friends to replace one weekly car trip with a bike ride. 10 winners of the I Pledge to Pedal Facebook campaign will win a built-to-order bike. The campaign runs till 17th September. Each of the 10 U.S. Element hotels has also designed its own dream bike, which will be displayed in the lobby during the promotion.

The Hotel and Travel Week

Tripadvisor banned from claiming reviews are real – profits up
early February 2012

Following complaints that hoteliers had posted fake comments on Tripadvisor to boost their own properties or sabotage others, the UK Advertising Standards Authority found that it was possible for “non-genuine content” to appear on the travel review website.
According to the advertising watchdog, reviews can be posted on the website without any form of verification. Therefore, Tripadvisor was told “not to claim or imply that all the reviews that appeared on the website were from real travellers, or were honest, real or trusted”.
The ruling came because Tripadvisor had advertised its services on the website, claiming that it contained “reviews you can trust” and are “honest” opinions from “real travelers” which was found to be misleading.
Tripadvisor’s official statement reads: “We have confidence that the 50 million users who come to our site every month trust the reviews they read on Tripadvisor, which is why they keep coming back to us in increasingly larger numbers to plan and have the perfect trip… We know that our users approach Tripadvisor with common sense, and make an educated decision based on the opinions of many. If people did not feel the insight they gained from our site was an accurate reflection of their experience they wouldn’t keep coming back…”
Indeed, Tripadvisor’s revenue has gone up by 30% during its first quarter as a public company and after spinning off from Expedia. Revenues are generated from click and display-based advertising as well as from subscriptions.

Personalized search results become concern
early February 2012

In January 2012, Google announced that from 1st March, search results on Google.com will incorporate content from a user’s Google+ network, highlighting links, photos and comments within search results. This has led to some concern, particularly about privacy.
As search and social media are becoming more interconnected, AYTM Market Research asked US internet users if they liked the idea of personalized search results. While 15.5% of the respondents said yes, 39.1% said yes, but that they were concerned with privacy at the same time. Almost half, i.e. 45.4% replied that they would prefer everyone to see the same search results.
According to AYTM, only 19.3% of respondents actively use Google+. An additional 20.3% have an account but do not use it and nearly 20% of respondents (19.5%) reported that they don’t know what Google+ is. This leads to concerns that Google+ may not fully represent a user’s social media life.
Twitter, especially disagrees with Google’s plan to integrate Google+ content, while not including that of Twitter and Facebook. Twitter and Google previously had a relationship where Twitter content showed up in Google’s real-time search results. However, the partnership was discontinued in July 2011.

The Hotel and Travel Week

Travel websites let you Give the Gift
6th December 2011

© Almgren – Fotolia.com

Expedia.com has launched the Travel Wish List on Facebook. It works like a gift registry, building on the Groupon Getaways for Expedia programme which started last July. Once you find a Groupon Getaway you like, you can post it on your Facebook Wall and friends and family can buy it for you. LivingSocial has also started to offer Winter Warm Up deals featuring trips to 10 tropical destinations. For an extra US$2.99, LivingSocial will giftwrap the certificate and deliver it to the recipient, showing only the value of the trip and not what you paid for it.

TripAdvisor goes solo
6th December 2011

On Tuesday, shareholders of Expedia.com approved the company’s spinoff of TripAdvisor.com. The transition is expected to be completed by the end of the year but won’t affect the user experience on TripAdvisor.com, says the announcement. Reason for the spinoff are the different business models of both e-commerce websites. While  Expedia’s business is built on transactions, TripAdvisor makes money with advertising. At the same time, there are voices saying TripAdvisor’s model with it’s millions of reviews from anonymous strangers is outdated. New successful startups such as Gogobot.com focus on ‘friend sourcing’ as users become ever more involved in social networking and turn to people they already know and trust to get travel advice.

Mobile last-minute hotel reservations on the up
8th December 2011

Hotel Tonight iPhone application

Aiming to draw impulsive buyers who are addicted to daily coupon alerts, hotels and OTAs are introducing a flurry of new specials and features targeting those who book a room locally on the day of their stay. Orbitz, which launched its hotels app for iPad in summer, says 65% of mobile bookings are same-day reservations (versus 14% on desktop computers). Orbitz will also launch a redesigned mobile website next week that will include a new tonight-only deals feature. They are in good company with the Priceline Tonight-Only Deals which launched in October and Hotel Tonight, an app featuring daily deals from U.S. hotels with at least 20% discount for the night. Hotel Tonight has become one of the most popular travel apps, with more than 800,000 downloads and also won HEDNA’s Spirit of Innovation Award earlier this week.

Marriot pushes Facebook Likes
8th December 2011

For the month of December, Marriott is giving away 5 million points to members who ‘Like’ their new Marriott Rewards Facebook page. Members of the loyalty programme can earn and redeem points at more than 3,500 Marriott International hotels around the world. The new Facebook page is said to “offer a new way to join the conversation and connect with the program and each other. It will also feature rich content from Marriott Rewards experts.”

Christmas Valet delivers traditional trimmings
8th December 2011

Christmas Tree at Rocco Forte Hotel Berlin

Finally, in this holiday-heralding post news about a new service being introduced at the Hilton Surfers Paradise in Gold Coast Hotel, Australia. For the first time, traditional trimmings such as a Christmas tree and other seasonal decorations will be delivered to guest rooms by the new Christmas Valet service. The hotel also offers secure present storage for parents, a “Santa’s Post Box” in the hotel lobby and, for families with younger children, delivery of cookies and milk for Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve. “We have developed this service with families in mind to make sure Christmas is just as memorable for those on extended stays at the hotel, with all those special touches,” said General Manager David Kelly.
What a brilliant idea!

 

The Hotel and Travel Week

Monday, 19th September 2011

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts launches the InterContinental Kitchen Cookbook app for iPad. The free app features recipes from 24 IHG properties around the world. New recipes will be added every quarter. Currently available recipies include the InterContinental New York Times Square Cheesecake and the InterContinental Berchtesgaden Resort’s Salmon Trout.
Tuesday, 20th September 2011
Again, IHG is in the news launching a new online sales initiative called ‘Best Price Guarantee’ for all of its brands. Any guest finding a lower price than on the hotel’s website elsewhere online gets one night free and the rest of the stay will be at the lower rate.
At the same time, IHG is giving away 250 hotel rooms in a Twitter contest. Guests who tweet the best response to the question “What would you do with a free night?” using the hashtag #BestPriceGuarantee will receive free rooms. The contest runs from Tuesday until 24th September.
Wednesday, 21st September 2011
Google announces that Google+, their brand new social network, is now open for everyone. It has been in trial for the past 90 days, only allowing limited sign-ups and invites for users. Together with this announcement, come a few big updates, including transitioning Hangouts into a live broadcast and presentation platform and adding item search, which lets people find public or private posts.
Thursday, 22nd September 2011
Ritz-Carlton launches a $10 million marketing campaign “Let Us Stay with You” of which more than half the budget will be allocated to digital and social media. This is the first time that digital accounts for the majority of the marketing budget at Ritz-Carlton, a brand that is rather associated with old-fashioned and one-on-one interaction. The campaign will be integrated into Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare, as well as a mobile application. Apart from print and digital ads, a film will run on in-room TVs and the hotel’s redesigned website. The message: Ritz-Carlton is not about making a bed or pour a drink but to connect with guests.
Friday, 23rd September 2011
lastminute.com customers can now search and book holidays directly from Facebook after the company has improved its Facebook page. The new search function is to target lastminute’s nearly 87,000 Facebook fans, offering them direct access to flights, hotels and holidays.
Get a direct booking interface on Facebook for your hotel with Hotel Facebooker!
 
 

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.