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, 31st October 2011

Expedia publishes their latest figures saying that gross bookings were up 11% in the 3rd quarter of 2011, while transactions were up 9.4%. Worldwide hotel revenue rose by 18%, with nights stayed up 16%. Air revenue however again decreased, this time 5%, as 10% fewer tickets were sold but at 6% higher prices on average. The OTA also announces that they sold 15,000 travel deals in the first three days of launching a partnership with Groupon but 3 months later Expedia is questioning the long-term value of those bargain shoppers and questioned whether customers would return to Expedia to book other trips.

Tuesday, 1st November 2011

Users of the Google Maps API will soon have to start paying for usage. The general price will be US$4 per 1,000 map loads but not everyone will be charged immediately. For regular maps, the first 25,000 users will be free. For Styled Maps, the initial limit goes down to 2,500 users. Google promises that they won’t block overused APIs right away, so users have time to think about what they want to do. Simply embedding Google Maps into a website without using the API is still free.

Wednesday, 2nd November 2011

Marriott International launches a section of its website specifically for their restaurants and bars. The new Restaurant & Bar Showcase, tells the stories of some of the company’s most popular venues. It also links to the outlets’ home pages and, where available, to Open Table or other equivalent sites to make a reservation. With this website, the hotel group looks to boost business for restaurant partners.

Thursday, 3rd November 2011

According to TRI Hospitality Consulting’s HotStats MENA market review for September 2011, Dubai and Saudi Arabian hotels are seeing strong growth, while Egypt’s continue to see declines in demand. Margins in Abu Dhabi are hurt by increased supply. Dubai is clearly benefitting from the Arab Spring and getting business from unstable countries such as Egypt and Syria. Occupancy was 78.6% compared to 71.8% in September 2010 which prompted hotels to increase rates by 10.9% in September, resulting in a 21.5% growth in RevPAR for the month.

Etihad Towers in January 2010
Etihad Towers in January 2010

Friday, 4th November 2011

Dubai-based Jumeirah Group opens its first property in Abu Dhabi, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. The hotel is located on the Arabian Gulf in the Ras Al Akhdar area of the UAE capital and features 382 guestrooms and suites, 199 fully serviced residences, 12 F&B outlets, the Talise Spa and one of the largest conference centers in Abu Dhabi. Etihad Towers is 280m tall and consists of 5 towers, containing residential, office and retail space.

Please, view also Hotel Pic of the Week: Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Abu Dhabi

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.’

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

Monday, 20th June 2011

An Irish hotel is taking Google to court over autocomplete.
When searching for Ballymascanlon House Hotel and beginning to type in the hotel name, the second autocomplete option coming up is ‘Ballymascanlon hotel receivership’ wrongly suggesting that the hotel is going into receivership. As a result, worried customers have contacted the hotel, concerned it may close down before their arrival. The hotel also argues it is losing bookings because of the autocomplete search term in Google Suggest. Google Ireland say autocomplete results are automatically generated by an algorithm based on the most common searches. It is anyone’s guess how the search term became so popular. Apparently, there is a precedent of Google correcting search terms manually, although this was mainly done to rectify copyright issues in the past.
Tuesday, 21st June 2011
The Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) has hired InnLink LLC to create a customized portal solution that will allow to book multiple stays within one transaction. The portal will facilitate online booking across nearly 100,000 U.S. hotels – i.e. both AAHOA member and non-member properties. The portal is planned to go online later this year and may become a competitor to traditional OTAs.
Wednesday, 22nd June 2011
TripAdvisor reveals their 2011 Accommodation Owners Survey and find that most owners embrace online engagement with customers. 57% of owbers expect their social media marketing budgets to increase this year. Virtually all owners (99%) plan to respond to online guest reviews. Mobile marketing is also a growing trend with 27% of survey respondents planning to launch mobile programmes for the first time in 2011. The TripAdvisor annual poll surveys more than 1,000 U.S. accommodation owners.
Thursday, 23rd June 2011
Marriott International’s nine resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico are turning Manhattan’s Madison Square Park into a free tropical spa on Thursday. The one-day “Step Into Summer” contest is open exclusively to Facebook fans who are given an invite after ‘liking’ the Facebook page. The event features free relaxation activities like massages and pedicures as well as the chance to win a four-night vacation for two at CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa by entering through a secret website address given to them at the event.
Friday, 24th June 2011
Google is finally rolling out behavioral targeting to all of its advertisers. Users can now be targeted by interest — based on their previous browsing activity. The system looks at the types of pages a user visits, considering how recently and frequently the visit has taken place and associates the browser cookie with the appropriate interest category. Advertisers can choose from over 1,000 interest categories on a cost-per-click basis.

The Hotel and Travel Week #16

Monday, 29th March

Red Roof, a U.S. economy lodging chain with 350 properties nation-wide, announces an April Fools Day promotion: ‘No Fooling’ 1 Cent Sale. Starting on 1st April through to the 15th guests can book a room for 1 cent a night. 1% of rooms per property will be on sale. Red Roof say they want to give people the opportunity to travel even when economic times are tough. Red Roof
Tuesday, 30th March
Radisson tops Hilton as Europe’s largest upscale brand.
Radisson Blu Hotels & Resorts and Radisson Edwardian Hotels, brands of the Rezidor Hotel Group, collectively offer 170 hotels and 38,079 rooms; followed by Hilton with 146 hotels and 37,806 rooms; and Marriott with 86 hotels and 20,806 rooms.
Wednesday, 31st March
The United Arab Emirates saw higher occupancy rates for February 2010.
According to The Global Hotel Survey conducted by STR Global, the overall occupancy rate for U.A.E. hotels rose to 77% in February, up from 67% in January and 75% during the same month in 2009. The occupancy rate in Dubai climbed to 86%, an 14% increase from January, while Abu Dhabi only saw a rise of 2% (with 59% occupancy). U.A.E. hotels witnessed an annual decline of 13% in revenues per available room, to US$183 in February, with lower revenues recorded in both emirates.
Thursday, 1st April
Staycation, the buzz term for spending holidays at home and a trend during the last recession, will still be going strong this Easter, for example in the UK. According to VisitEngland’s Easter Holiday Trip Tracker almost 10.5 million people will holiday in the UK this Easter, with 90% of them taking a break in England. Only six per cent are planning to travel overseas, the study shows. TravelMole
Friday, 2nd April
HAPPY EASTER!!!
Wishing everyone a fantastic Easter break whether you are travelling or staying at home with your dearest. Enjoy!

© Sandra Brunsch - Fotolia.com

The Hotel and Travel Week #13

Monday, 8th February

Best Western is trying to boost online bookings via www.bestwestern.com with a scheme that rewards customers with double or triple points from every second qualified stay at a Best Western hotel. The online loyalty promotion runs until the end of April 2010.
To be eligible, guests must register at www.bestwesternrewards.com/spring, reside in North America, South America, the Caribbean Asia, South Africa, Israel, Egypt or Ukraine and be members of Best Western Rewards.

After only one month, the observation deck at Burj Dubai, now Burj Khalifa, closes abruptly to the public. No exact reasons are given. Ticket sales are on hold indefinitely and the website states: ‘Please be advised that online tickets to At the Top are temporarily on hold due to maintenance at the attraction.’ This comes at a time when Dubai is already facing a slow-down in tourism which accounts for nearly a fifth of the local economy.
Tuesday, 9th February
Joie de Vivre, a California-based chain of boutique hotels, claims to be the first hotel brand in the United States to roll out a breakthrough in-room entertainment and media platform. The new media centers, powered by Mac Mini computers on the OSX operating system, will enable guests to do everything they can do on their own computers at home, from checking e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook to downloading music on iTunes, movies from Netflix or HULU. Hotels are still lagging far behind the technology guests have available at home, the group say.
Wednesday, 10th February
The Chicago Office of Tourism announces a deal with Foursquare, a new location-based, social networking application for mobile phones: www.foursquare.com/explorechicago
Tourists and locals can ‘check-in’ at over 60 locations around the city to earn up to 3 Chicago-themed badges. With this cooperation, the tourism office is hoping to encourage users to try out new businesses and promote lesser known landmarks.
Thursday, 11th February
Marriott International reports a profit for the 4th quarter of 2009. Business travel has improved and leisure travelers took advantage of promotions, the company say.
Friday, 12th February
Emaar, the developer behind Burj Khalifa in Dubai says it returned to profit in the 4th quarter of 2009 as revenue from new shopping centers and hotels offset a slow-down in housing deliveries. The company benefited from business at Dubai Mall which had opened in 2008 and also runs two high-end hotels in Dubai while rolling out the 5-star The Address Hotels + Resorts chain.

The Hotel and Travel Week #5

Monday, 16th November

SpringHill Suites by Marriott launches an online video memory contest to celebrate its latest redesign. A new prototype property design is hugely popular with guests and guest feedback has been tremendous, says Marriott. Now everyone can take part in the online game and win prizes. Based on the concept of a memory game, the SprinHill Suites video memory contest takes players on a tour of the new design and challenges them to recall what they saw in the lobby, guest room or fitness area. The score can then be shared with friends on Facebook or Twitter which increases the chances of winning a prize. Take the quiz yourself to test your memory.
Tuesday, 17th November
TripAdvisor now offers business listings on their site. Hotels can list URL, telephone number and email address of their property on the world’s largest and most popular travel community website. This represents a new opportunity for hotels to connect directly with millions of researching travelers and potentially converting them into bookers. A flat fee will be charged for the service depending on number of rooms and starting with USD600 per year for a one-year subscription in the U.S. TripAdvisor also offers a 50% discount for properties subscribing until the end of January 2010. The listings will begin to appear from 4th January 2010.
If you are a hotel or B&B owner you can register now at: www.tripadvisor.com/businesslistings
Wednesday, 18th November
Marriott unveils the new look of marriott.com. Marriott says, the improvements include a modernized look & feel, more intuitive layout and one-click guest access to their Marriott Rewards account from anywhere in the site. marriott.com gets more than 12 million visits each month. According to Marriott, more than 75% of their guests say they use the website when planning or booking their hotel stays. However, intensive customer testing had revealed that the site could be confusing and often led to customers booking elsewhere. Marriott therefore redesigned the website and involved its customers in evaluating multiple new design concepts before settling on the one that went live this week. To encourage customers to visit the new site, travel and gift card prizes can be won from now until the 8th of December: www.marriott.com
Thursday, 19th November
Starwood Hotels & Resorts, one of the world’s leading hotel and leisure companies with 982 hotels and brands including Sheraton, Westin and W Hotels, announces that it will move its headquarters from New York to Stamford, Connecticut in 2012. The relocation to Stamford will bring millions of dollars in investment and 800 jobs to the state.
Friday, 20th November
Last month, Hilton Worldwide quietly announced to members that it is raising the number of loyalty points required next year to book a free night. The change will basically devalue Hilton HHonors points by about 20%. Travel industry analysts question this move at a time when hotel demand is down on corporate, conference and leisure travel as guests might just go somewhere else.