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

The New Umbrella Brand for JDV and Thompson – Commune
Commune Hotels & Resorts is the new name of the joint venture company created last year between lifestyle operators Thompson Hotels and Joie de Vivre. In addition, the company announced that it will launch the JDV Collection for its Joie de Vivre hotels in summer and also introduce a design-driven, value-oriented 3-star brand later in the year. Apparently, the company is open to buying existing brands in order to build critical mass. Since the merger Commune Hotels has opened 3 high-profile projects: Thompson’s Belgraves in London, The Saguaro Scottsdale and The Saguaro Palm Springs. Under development are Thompson properties in Chicago and Miami, and Joie de Vivre hotels in Honolulu and Palo Alto, California.

Travelocity Launches New iPad App
Travelocity announced its new iPad app, giving travelers the ability to book flights, hotels and car rentals all in one app. The app joins the company’s existing apps for iPhone and iPod touch, as well as devices on Android and Windows Phone 7. “This is not your typical mobile app,” said Carl Sparks, President and CEO, Travelocity Global. “Travelocity for iPad can easily replace your PC to search and book flights, hotels and cars, whether you are sitting on your couch or riding in a taxi. It’s also possible to read user reviews, view maps, filter search results, and track where you’ve been and where you are going.”
To celebrate the launch of the app, Travelocity is holding a Twitter competition until Friday, 2nd March with winners receiving a USD 500 Apple gift card. To enter the sweepstakes, visitwww.twitter.com/travelocity.
The Travelocity App is available from the App Store on iPad or at www.itunes.com/appstore.

Even – A New IHG Brand
IHG launches a new health-conscious midscale hotel brand, Even. The company plans to own and operate its first several properties and then look for franchisees. The first locations will be announced in the 2nd quarter of 2012 and opening in 2013. The brand will be launched in the U.S.

Best Western Launches Facebook Booking App
As part of their continued dedication to engaging with its customers via social media, Best Western International unveiled a new booking app this week that allows travelers to reserve hotel rooms on Best Western’s Facebook page. With more than 4,100 hotels, Best Western is the first major International hotel chain with this capability. “More than ever, Best Western’s customers are integrating social media into every part of their personal and professional lives,” said Dorothy Dowling, Best Western’s senior vice president of marketing and sales. “It’s imperative that we answer the call from our customers to make it easy to research, book and share travel experiences through their preferred channels.”
This new Facebook booking app is the latest step in allowing travelers to book a Best Western hotel wherever they are on the web: Best Western Facebook Page

Are you interested in a Facebook booking app for your hotel or chain? Contact us for a proposal! More information on the Hotel FaceBooker website.

The Hotel and Travel Week

TripAdvisor drops list of ‘Dirtiest Hotels’
10th January 2012

TripAdvisor decided to drop its annual ‘Dirtiest Hotels’ list, which instigated a lawsuit by a hotel against the company in 2011. TripAdvisor had previously justified the list as empowering travelers with an honest source of information. Now the company has changed its mind.

Room Key Online Portal

Hotel big players launch their own online portal
11th January 2012

Six of the world’s largest hotel companies have joined forces to create an online portal that offers bookings on better terms than most online travel agencies (OTAs). A beta version of RoomKey.com was officially launched on Wednesday. Its operating company Room Key was founded by Choice Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels Corp., IHG, Marriott International Inc. and Wyndham Worldwide Corp. and includes direct booking facility of 23,000 hotels affiliated with these companies worldwide. Each hotel company owns an equal slice of Room Key. The company earns a commission from the booking, claimed to be at a more supplier-friendly rate than what third party OTAs are offering. A major plus being that the site redirects users to the hotel company’s websites for direct booking. Room Key is looking to add additional hotel companies and said a major announcement on this is planned for next week. However, Best Western International already announced on Thursday that it has signed up as the first partner to supply hotel inventory. Room Key is concentrating on U.S. consumers initially before expanding globally in summer.
www.roomkey.com

We would like to hear your opinion about this effort to compete with existing OTAs.
Please, take part in our poll on the right!

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, 8th August 2011

Tower Bridge London
London riots are all over the press and the question arises whether this will have any impact on UK inbound tourism. The German Foreign Office asks German tourists to be vigilant when traveling in the U.K. Later in the week, VisitBritain, the U.K. tourism board, plays down effects and calls the riots ‘isolated incidents’ which took place away from key visitor attractions. It is still too early to see impacts and a VisitBritain spokesman says: ‘… Britain has a strong and positive image overseas and we hope these incidents will be short-lived and that tourism will show its customary resilience.’
Tuesday, 9th August 2011
InterContinental Hotels Group reports a 17% rise of operation profits pushing shares up 8%. Higher numbers were recorded in both business and leisure guests. Pressure on room availability allowed IHG and others to hold prices firmer than last year, leaving revenue per available room (RevPAR) up 8.2% for the first 6 months of 2011. The good performance was driven by IHG’s mid-market brands Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. These brands underwent a thorough makeover in recent years. Exceptional circumstances in Egypt, Bahrain and Japan had hit operating profits by $7m (£4m), but wider trends around the world were positive, particularly so in the U.S., the group’s most important market.
Wednesday, 10th August 2011
Hotelier Ian Schrager is selling his new PUBLIC brand via the flash sales site LivingSocial Escapes. The website started offering an opening party package for PUBLIC Chicago on 11th October. The deal includes 2 tickets to the opening party and an overnight stay in a suite, plus breakfast, late check out, champagne and other in-room amenities for US$900. PUBLIC Chicago is scheduled to open in September as the new understated luxury brand from The Ian Schrager Company. LivingSocial Escapes has booked more than 400,000 room nights since its launch in November 2010.
Thursday, 11th August 2011
The Kuoni Group launches an accommodation-only website at kuonihotels.com. Although the website is using the Kuoni brand it is operated by Octopus Travel, part of Gullivers Travel Associates, which was bought by Kuoni earlier this year. The site features over 50,000 hotels, with 3-star rating and above. All hotels have a TripAdvisor rating of 3 or more, where a rating is available, to maintain the high expectations Kuoni customers have of the brand.

Friday, 12th August 2011

VisitBritain recorded a record number of visitors to the UK in June spending a record amount. 2.89 million overseas visitors arrived in June, 9% more than during the same month last year. This is an increase of 4% on the previous record, set in June 2005. Expenditure by overseas visitors reached £1.685bn, a rise of 4% over June 2010, which was also a record high.

With regard to the UK riots, tour operators suffered 330 cancellations for trips to London in the immediate aftermath, which represents less than 0.2% of all bookings. ETOA, The European Tour Operators Association, say ‘the violence had had no worse effect on bookings than a sick dog’. It did not say, however, how new bookings are affected.

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.

The Hotel and Travel Week #15

Monday, 1st March

Yotel, the futuristic hotel chain, will open a hotel in New York City in 2011. This will be the brand’s first hotel outside it’s current airport locations, London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Amsterdam Schiphol. The hotel will be an affordable and distinct luxury property in Manhattan, Yotel say the hotel will feature 669 stylish cabins as well as a restaurant, bar, meeting rooms, Club Lounge and the largest outside terrace of any hotel in New York. It will be the first and only Yotel full-service hotel.
Tuesday, 2nd March
IHG, the world’s largest by rooms hotel chain, is targeting candidates to fill job vacancies with Twitter-based job postings and mobile recruiting. They are working with TweetMyJOBS, a Twitter-based recruiting solution that connects job seekers with recruiters and companies instantly via social media. Job seekers can search TweetMyJOBS.com by type of work, location or company and receive instant notification on their mobile when a job matches their criteria. TweetMyJOBS say they have reached more than 18k highly-targeted applicants for the 1k open positions at IHG in January alone.
Wednesday, 3rd March
Revinate announce a new Online Reputation Management solution, specifically designed for individual hotels and hotel chains. The tool provides comprehensive monitoring of top review sites, blogs, news sites and social media services such as Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and TripAdvisor.
There is a Reputation Dashboard with an analysis of reviews from sites such as Yelp, Priceline, Hotels.com, Orbitz and Travelocity, a section called Social Media Scorecard which tracks key performance metrics and benchmarks of competitors and a TweetConcierge with hotel-specific features like multi-user management and campaign tracking.
Revinate clients include InterContinental, Peninsula Hotels, Joie de Vivre Hotels and Trump Hotels.
Thursday, 4th March
Priceline.com launch the Big Deal Hotel Price Guarantee promotion. If a customer finds a better price until the day before check-in than the price they’ve booked a room for under Priceline’s Name Your Own Price® scheme, the company will match that price and pay the customer an additional USD25. Customers in the U.S. will also receive a USD50 coupon which they can use for future bookings on the site.
Friday, 5th March
ebookers.com waive hotel cancellation and amendment fees. Customers amending their booking will now only have to pay a fee if the hotel has their own cancellation policy. The OTA has also removed all booking fees throughout the entire hotel portfolio.

The Hotel and Travel Week #12

Monday, 1st February

InterContinental Hotels Group win a battle over 1.500 domain names, which were owned by a German who controls over 70,000 domains. Many of the now transferred domains linked to websites with booking engines selling rooms at IHG and other hotels. The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) took the decision according to the principle that domains can be transferred if the brand owner can show that a name is identical or confusingly similar to their own brand, the domain owner has no rights to the domain name and where the name is registered and used in bad faith.
Tuesday, 2nd February
Travelclick and HSMAI name the best eMarketer of the Year 2009. The award goes to Joie de Vivre Hospitality, a California-based collection of boutique hotels, and recognises the best integrated e-marketing programme in the hotel industry, Travelclick say. Joie de Vivre run Facebook and Twitter campaigns and have won the prize before in 2006.
At the same time, Travelclick announces the launch of their community website: www.HotelConversations.com
Wednesday, 3rd February
Sheraton Hotels & Resorts announce a USD 20 million multimedia marketing campaign to highlight their USD 6 billion revitalisation effort. The Rediscover Sheraton campaign emphasizes a new trend in tourism which combines business and leisure travel with slogans like ‘Who brings business suits and bathing suits together’. The campaign will run on websites such as TripAdvisor.com, NYTimes.com, Kayak.com and CNN.com as well as in print.
Thursday, 4th February
Choice Hotels launch their re-designed website at www.choicehotels.com.
The new website has the ability to search by attraction, city, zip code, address and more. It also has a personalisation feature where guests can save their favorites. It results from direct feedback of hotel guests as well as extensive research, Choice say, and has been designed and developed by digital agency Razorfish.
Friday, 5th February
Starwood report a USD 186 million loss for the 4th quarter of 2009.
British Airways also announce a pre-tax loss of £342 million for the last 3 quarters of 2009. This is compared to a loss of £ 70 million for the same period of the previous year. However, BA saw an improvement during the 3rd quarter of 2009 and is hoping to be able to turn the corner.

 

The Hotel and Travel Week #6

Monday, 23rd November

The World Tourism Organization UNWTO publishes the latest Tourism Barometer which suggests that the lowest point of the financial crisis may be over. The organization monitors short term tourism trends on a regular basis 3 times a year in January, June and October. They say, tourism has been seriously hit by the recession, although coping better than other industries. International tourist arrivals declined by 7% between January and July 2009. The data in October however show a smaller decline of only 3% compared to last year. This is been seen as an indication that tourism is picking up again. Tourism Barometer
Tuesday, 24th November
IHG starts an online marketing campaign on Twitter inviting consumers to follow their Deals Twitter account. Followers have the chance to win prizes, including a 7-night stay at any IHG hotel in the world. The Tweet Away campaign starts on 1st December and runs until the end of 2009.
Wednesday, 25th November
Another hotel giant announces that they will start an online promotion on the 30th November. Starwood will kick-off their Cyber Monday Sale on that day which will only run for 3 days. Special rates at 50 of the world’s best resorts in premium destinations like the Bahamas, Bora Bora, Puerto Rico and Tahiti are on offer. Get a sneak preview.
Thursday, 26th November

Hotels in the United Arab Emirates see the sharpest decline in occupancy in October compared to the same month last year, according to a new report by STR Global. RevPar (Revenue per available room) plummets by just over 30% to USD194,5. The occupancy rate drops by 10% to 74,4%. The heavy decline is said to be caused by falling demand, but in the case of Dubai also by increasing supply. This comes along news of Dubai World, the Emirate’s state-owned property developer, possibly defaulting on its debt. Maybe some destinations haven’t hit the bottom line, yet?

Friday, 27th November
The number of WTM (World Travel Market) attendees in London earlier this month has dropped by approximately 8% compared to last year. Here are the figures.