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

Monday, 3rd October 2011

Thompson Hotels and boutique hotel operator Joie de Vivre Hospitality announce that they have merged into a new venture provisionally known as JT Hospitality. This is the first step in creating a global, multi-brand lifestyle hotel group with plans to increase the number of properties from currently 45 to 75 within 3 years.
Thompson Hotels is an international collection of 12 luxury lifestyle hotels, while Joie de Vivre mainly runs boutique hotels in California.
 
Tuesday, 4th October 2011
Best Western International launches their ‘Virtual Accelerator‘ Facebook application. The app lets Best Western Rewards members, who like the Facebook page, take a spin behind a digital wheel. Players can win rewards points, redeemable at Best Western hotels. The group say they will give away a total of 10 million points via the application, which is the equivalent of more than 1,200 free nights.
Wednesday, 5th October 2011
Several airlines have to cancel flights to and from Greece as as the country’s air traffic controllers join a 24-hour general strike.
Thursday, 6th October 2011
News about the death of Steve Jobs, Apple founder and visionary, break and tributes are being posted throughout all social networks. The 3 top trending topics on Twitter are RIPSteveJobs, #ThankYouSteve and #iSad. Apple set up a special email address on their website for people to share ‘thoughts, memories, and condolences’: www.apple.com
Thank you, Steve Jobs for having had the vision of bringing solutions onto the market that were truly innovative and solved problems we didn’t even know we had, products that make working with them easy, playing with them fun and that let us see the future!
Friday, 7th October 2011
The French government orders online travel agent Expedia to pay a fine of €427,000 for ‘misleading marketing practices’. According to a French court ruling Expedia was displaying incorrect information on hotel room availability, incorrect contact information for hotels and inaccurately described standard rates as promotional discounts. The French hotelier federation Synhorcat initiated a complaint with the government about Expedia’s practices which led to the ruling.

The Hotel and Travel Week

Monday, 4th July 2011

International tourist arrivals increase by 4.5% in the first 4 months of 2011, compared to the same period last year, despite of the still lingering recession and increased oil prices in many parts of the world. This is the result of a survey carried out by the United Nations World Tourism Organization. South America (increase of 17%), South Asia (14%) and Southeast Asia (10%) see the largest increases. Only the Middle East register a decrease of 14% and so does Northern Africa with 11% because of the ‘Arab Spring’.
Tuesday, 5th July 2011

Google shuts down Realtime Search as their deal with Twitter expires. The deal dated back to late 2009 when both parties agreed that Google would show realtime Twitter results in Google searches. On Tuesday Google announced via Twitter that it had temporarily shut down its Realtime Search service while working on the company’s new Google+ social networking attempt. Apart from that, Google or Twitter say little why the deal has ended.
Wednesday, 6th July 2011
 
Online travel agency Orbitz releases its first iPad application on Wednesday. Users can book hotels and airfare with the application which features tools not available in the iPhone app. According to Orbitz: ‘The new Orbitz Hotels App for iPad delivers the entire selection of Orbitz hotel properties, refined comparison tools, and secure booking in just 3 taps.’
The application can be downloaded for free at: Orbitz Hotels App for iPad

Thursday, 7th July 2011

StumbleUpon, a bookmarking and sharing engine, is now the biggest traffic driver among social media websites in the U.S., according to web analytics service StatCounter. StatCounter say that the company overtook Facebook during June 2011. StumbelUpon, which finds and recommends relevant web content and calls itself the Discovery Engine, was founded in 2001 and sold to eBay for $75 million in 2007. StatCounter tracks hits to over 3 million websites. Its social media data is gathered by analyzing every hit originating from a social media site.
Google announces that Google+ brand pages will be launched in 2 weeks time. Similar to Facebook brand pages, Google will also offer pages on it’s new social networking service Google+. Companies can apply and Google will approve brand pages according to how successful companies have been with social media in the past. The first brand page is already online, though: Ford on Google+. Apparently, thousands of companies have already applied and Google is overwhelmed by the interest.

Welcome

A prosperous and successful new year to everyone!
Are you a hotel or otherwise involved in the travel business?
What is your single most important new year’s resolution in terms of e-commerce and online marketing?
Do you see the future in content, for example are you planning to improve your website copy, images or perhaps add video? Or is it all about social media for you and you finally want to be on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and the likes?
Let us know! We’d love to hear from you.
Fotolia.de © Rozol

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.

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 #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 #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.