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!

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, 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 #17

It’s been a relatively quiet Easter holiday week and we hope you’ve had a good time. Here, as usual, some of the highlights from the hotel and travel sector…

Tuesday, 6th April

Hilton HHonors offers a free night for 4 stays. From 6th April to the 30th of June, members of Hilton’s loyalty programme can receive a free night after completing 4 stays or earn double points. Hilton calls its latest promotion Fast Ways to Free Stays. To take advantage of the promotion, members must first register at www.hhonors.com/freestays
Wednesday, 7th April

Mideast hotels will be discussing Social Media at The Seven Star Conference which is running alongside The Hotel Show at the Dubai World Trade Centre from the 18th to the 20th May 2010. As the number of social media users increases in the Middle East, participants will be exploring possibilities of using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube to generate bookings. In the U.S. independent hotels are already beginning to link social media services with their websites or online booking engines. “But simply having a high number of Facebook fans or a lot of people following you on Twitter isn’t very useful unless they actually click through and book, said Tinston, Sales Director, The Hotel Show. “The hospitality industry is a business and social media has to be judged by the direct results it brings to the business.” www.thehotelshow.com
Thursday, 8th April
Luxury goods brand Louis Vuitton has plans to manage two exclusive hotels in Egypt and Oman. The hotels will be managed by holding company LVMH which entered the hotel sector in 2006 with the 5-star Cheval Blanc hotel in the French alps. LVMH will act as a management company and does not plan to own hotels.
Friday, 9th April

Hilton Worldwide announces that it has completed a restructuring of all of its existing debt. The restructuring extends the maturity of this debt until November 2015 and reduces the company’s total debt by nearly $4 billion.

ITB Berlin Round-up

The weather has been fairly nice during ITB this year.

Unusual! It only started snowing again when the world’s largest travel trade fair closed its doors on Sunday afternoon.

The figures:
  • 179,351 visitors in total
  • 110,953 trade visitors
  • 68,398 visitors of the general public
  • 6 bn Euros in orders
  • 11,127 companies exhibited (2009: 11,098)
  • from 187 countries
  • 12,500 delegates taking part in the ITB Convention
  • approx. 7,200 journalists from around the world covered the show
The online and technology trends:

Social Media

Social Media was the most obvious trend at ITB Berlin this year.
People either love or hate it, but it’s in everybody’s mouth.
My favorite concept:
word of mouth becomes word of mouse

My favorite thought:
Google Live Search, Google Buzz – search is slowing down social media and enables the customer to find deals when they need them. @yenlee
The main questions asked:
How to generate tangible revenue using social media?
How to monitor and control reputation in social media and fight fires?
The main issue to be resolved in 2010:
How to track bookings generated through social media campaigns to the bottom line?
A couple of (technical) solutions:
  • Facebook Connect to transfer customer data
  • Facebook integration of booking interfaces
The largest events, featuring social media panel discussion, lectures, networking events etc. were:

iPhone apps

iPhone apps were displayed on almost every booth – at least that was my impression.
Everyone, from hotel and travel to technology company seems to have launched an iPhone or mobile app just in time for ITB. Some of them but not all were clearly rushed and need to be worked on in terms of usability.
Only a few examples:

Last but not least iPhone apps especially launched to get around ITB:

Is this the year of mobile as predicted at World Travel Market last November?

In which case an appeal to travel fair organizers around the world:
We need iPhone charge stations at the grounds to power up our mobiles after a long day of using all those apps and tweeting! How else would we be able to book our hotel room for the night?
It’s been a great show and I wish there was another one next week.
Thanks to everyone I’ve met for all the exciting discussions.
Keep in touch!

The Hotel and Travel Week #11

Monday, 25th January 2010

Hotel investment in Europe, Middle East and Africa fell by more than 50% in 2009, according to a report by Cushman & Wakefield Hospitality. The total investment in 2009 of €3.2 billion also means a 85% shortfall compared to the record year of 2007. The most active market remained to be the UK with 29% of the total volume, although it has suffered the largest fall over the last three years. France and Germany were the next most active markets with 16% and 9% of total volumes invested respectively.

Tuesday, 26th January 2010

Fairmont launches EveryonesAnOriginal.com, a site which invites consumers to upload photos, videos and commentary about Fairmont hotels and their holiday experiences. To create initial content, Fairmont linked relevant media from Flickr and YouTube. They also sent video cameras to each hotel and encouraged staff to start filming. Uploads will be monitored for relevancy, redundancy and family-friendliness, although censorship will be minimal, the company says.

Also, on Tuesday Marriott launches a News Center on Marriott.com. This is to be the central hub for all Marriott online news, photos, videos, blogs, Twitter feeds etc.
Wednesday, 27th January 2010
Social networking sites are becoming ever more popular, also with travelers. According to a travelhorizons survey, co-authored by Ypartnership and the U.S. Travel Association, 59% of active travelers have visited a social networking site, with Facebook being the most popular. However, at the moment only 1 in 10 are visiting in order to plan travel and only 1 in 20 has joined a community of users who share common travel interest. For now…
Thursday, 28th January 2010
The U.S. hotel industry shows a nearly 17% drop in revenue per available room during 2009, according to data from STR. Occupancy fell 8.7% and the average daily rate dropped by 8.8% to USD 97.51.
At the same time, Armani opens their first hotel in the tallest building of the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The hotel features 160 guest rooms and suites, a spa, private member club, 5 restaurants and a nightclub, according to their website: www.armanihotels.com
Friday, 29th January 2010
Only a couple of days after the introduction of the iPad by Apple, Intelity, an interactive hospitality technology leader, unveils that the ICE – Interactive Customer Experience – will be compatible with iPad. ICE is an integrated, customisable and branded interface which allows hotel guests to arrange in-room services via a touch screen from their guest room, laptop or mobile.
Moreover, ICE Canvas gives the hotel a high level of control and insight into staff performance and guest habits, Intelity say. www.intelityice.com