The Hotel and Travel Week

Profits of the InterContinental Group surged in 1st quarter
This week, IHG reported a surge in 1st-quarter 2012 profits which is based on strong growth in the United States and China. Net profit more than doubled to US$154 million, from US$69 million a year earlier, though this was boosted by an exceptional tax credit. Revenue rose by 3.3% to US$409 million. Operating profit, a key measurement, rose by 5.3% to US$118 million, while RevPAR increased by 7% (7.7% in the Americas and 12% in China). Despite ongoing challenges in Europe, IHG added a total of 9,300 rooms to their pipeline with China representing 30% of this.


Starwood will move HQ to Dubai for a month
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide announced plans to temporarily move the company’s headquarters for a month to Dubai in 2013. Last year, the group had relocated their headquarters for one month to Shanghai. During next year’s relocation to Dubai, Starwood’s team will focus on their extensive operations throughout the Middle East (50 hotels in 11 countries and 30 in the pipeline) and meet with regional customers, partners, developers and owners, while also touring new properties in the region. “Dubai is emblematic of how globalization is creating new travel patterns and travel hubs, and serves as a crossroad between the emerging and developed worlds,” said Frits van Paasschen, Starwood president and CEO.


Flash Sales Companies among Top 1% of U.S. Travel Retailers
Daily deals sellers are relatively new to travel distribution, but flash sales have captured industry attention. According to a PhoCusWright Publication, the 2 leading brands – Groupon Getaways and LivingSocial Escapes – would rank among the top 1% of travel retailers in the U.S. if their 4Q11 gross billings were representative of an entire year. The publication addresses the following questions: Should suppliers participate in daily deals? Can these outlets be effective at moving distressed inventory? Do these deals really attract new customers and lead to repeat business? How can they avoid cannibalizing their existing customers and more profitable points of sale? What makes deals successful, and how can travel suppliers turn a profit on such steep discounts?
What is your experience with Flash Sales? We would love to hear from you!

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, 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.