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Recent blog posts
14
Apr

Travelport adds HRS to accommodation network, and more…

Posted by on in Industry News

This is a roundup of product news and announcements for travel DISTRIBUTION in tourism and hospitality for April 2015.

Wednesday 1 April:

Travelport adds HRS

The European accommodation service will be added to Travelport’s distribution channels as part of a multi-year agreement. HRS will supply around 70,000 hotels to the platform, the majority of which are independent properties. Travelport-connected agencies will also be able to access HRS’s Business Tariff service for discounted rates for corporate travellers in 35,000 hotels on the system.

NB: Send links or releases related to travel distribution directly to Tnooz via email.

NB2: Travel image via Shutterstock.

Original author: Tnooz
©tnooz.com
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13
Apr

Nezasa pivots to B2B with distribution of travel packages for travel agents

Posted by on in Industry News

Nezasa (TLabs here) was created to deliver customizable bespoke travel packages online, meaning that travelers could create more complicated itineraries using the Internet — something that most consumers have come to expect. The idea wasn’t necessarily to replace travel agents but to sit between basic OTAs and offline agencies by offering an online means of booking complex trips.

The startup has now pivoted its business model to compete less with offline travel agents and become a engagement tool for travel agents and their customers. Co-founder Manuel Hilty calls this model “global distribution for DMCs,” as it focuses on surfacing the content created by local DMCs straight into an agent’s workflow.

This direct sourcing means that the inventory is made available without relying on an outbound tour operator to source the content from the destinations that the tour operator travels to. The outbound tour operator margin is therefore eliminated and the quality of inventory can increase since it’s DMC direct.

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 12.46.10 PM

Nezasa For Retailers allows agents to access content created by reputable, verified Destination Management Companies and to fold it into the Nezasa interface for further customization. This can either be done by the agents themselves or by the customer in their own home — one of the key advantages of the technology is that it also speaks to the traveler’s desire to take control of their own destiny.

The support of omni-channel commerce is quite new for many travel agents, who don’t often have many options for hybrid selling that combines an offline presence with a traveler-facing online tool that can increase both satisfaction and average package price.

NB: Where to travel image courtesy Shutterstock.

Original author: Nick Vivion
©tnooz.com
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13
Apr

Going global, Rocketrip rewards compliance with corporate travel policy

Posted by on in Industry News

Rocketrip, a website that gives a company’s employees monetary rewards for cutting costs on business travel, is optimising itself for a global audience.

The New York startup challenges employees to stay within corporate travel policies. Employees get a share of the savings when they book under budget.

For example, an employee who saves $200 on travel would earn enough reward points for $100 worth of merchandise from well-known retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Bloomingdales, and J Crew.

Rewards options vary globally. In Europe, examples include Marks & Spencer, Bol.com, Buch.de, and iTunes.

The startup claims that its customers, including the companies Opower, ShareThis, and Elite SEM, have saved an average of $238 per trip during the first three months of 2015.

Global travel can make arrival times, multi-destination hotel booking and currency conversion tricky. To make its trip-planning tools more friendly for international and multi-stop itineraries, Rocketrip has rolled out a few fixes:

Employees can now sort flights by ones that will arrive by a specific time, as an alternative to sorting by departure time. Users can now generate a budget in any of 165 currencies. The site now enables multi-hotel bookings, something it says its competitors can’t.rocketrip

 

The company has raised $6.2 million to date from received funding from Canaan Partners, Genacast Ventures, Crunchfund, Y Combinator, and others.

 

Startup pitch: Rocketrip wants to remove travel management friction

Original author: Sean O'Neill
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10
Apr

Meta is the place for Expedia – Trivago doubled its revenue in just one year

Posted by on in Industry News

Ever wondered why the online travel agency giants decided to take metasearch so seriously?

One reason, presumably, is that the likes of Expedia and Priceline could see that the sector was on the cusp of some significant growth.

In terms of acquisitions, Priceline invested the most, as we all know, with a massive $1.8 billion splashed out to get its hands on US giant Kayak in November 2012.

Expedia followed suit just a few weeks later with a deal to buy a majority stake in European brand Trivago for $632 million.

Two years on from flurry of activity, Expedia is perhaps starting to some kind of return on its investment.

In a filing today to the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US, Expedia has outlined a recasting of its financials for both 2013 and 2014 due to a change in how it will report across its various segments.

The company is now divided into four areas:

Core OTA (Expedia, Hotwire, Travelocity, Venere, Wotif) Trivago Egencia eLong

The filing then goes on to break down the revenue and other financial reporting lines for each segment, with the Trivago division perhaps catching the eye.

Trivago took $216 million in revenue during 2013, but this figure jumped to $414 million by the end of 2014.

This has come at a cost, however, with adjusted EBITDA at Trivago falling from $18 million to $4 million over the same period.

To compare against another part of the business, Core OTA took $4.069 billion in revenue in 2013 and $4.905 billion in 2014, with adjusted EBITDA climbing from $1.172 billion to $1.387 billion over the same period.

The huge jump in revenue at Trivago could be, in part, down to the massive investment in advertising across the group during 2014 when $2.8 billion was spent on marketing.

Original author: Kevin May
©tnooz.com
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05
Sep

When lighting up social media with kindness proves a better way to engage

Posted by on in Industry News

This is a story of how a little human kindness created a bigger social buzz for a hotel than pushing rooms via social media such as Twitter and Facebook might do.

As this year’s Edinburgh International Festival drew to a close social media lit up as patrons and locals captured in glorious social detail the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert which marked the finale to one of the city’s largest calendar events.

Amongst those enjoying the spectacle were Rory, Jenny and Susan. That these three were brought together is a wonderful example for hotels on how truly human engagement can be a better place to start in pushing brands out into the socialverse.

NB: This is a viewpoint from Alan Garland, digital marketing manager of Apex Hotels. It originally appeared on hotel marketing blog Hotel Speak.

Brave 10 year-old Rory suffers from leukaemia and mum Jenny had reached out through Twitter asking central offices and hotels in Edinburgh if they could help Rory see the fireworks without being out in the cold.

Can any central offices/hotels in Edinburgh help Rory, 10, who has leukaemia, see the festival fireworks without being out in the cold?

— Jenny Kemp (@jennykemp) August 27, 2014

Susan is part of the staff at Apex International Hotel with a heart as big as her amazing cakes. Spotting Jenny’s post she immediately replied from the International’s twitter account with the offer for Jenny, Rory and his dad and sister, Merlin and Elspeth, to watch the fireworks from the hotel’s Heights Restaurant which overlooks Edinburgh Castle where the display is held.

And that’s when it happened. A grateful Jenny thanked Susan and the International Hotel but then so did a lot of other people. Friends and followers enthusiastically re-tweeted the interactions expressing their own appreciation of Susan’s offer.

In a Hollywood moment the goodwill kept on multiplying and Virgin Money was soon providing goodies for the family on the night.

@jennykemp have you found anywhere yet ? Would he like to come watch from our 5th floor restaurant ?

— Apex International (@Apex_Inter) August 28, 2014

Huge thanks to @Apex_Inter for offering my brave boy Rory somewhere warm and dry to watch the #VMFireworks on Sunday. Thanks to all for RTs!

— Jenny Kemp (@jennykemp) August 28, 2014

Susan’s week has got off to a great start with a lovely note waiting for her from Jenny.

“I’m so grateful to Apex. Rory has had a rough six months, he was in hospital having chemotherapy for six months, he starts radiotherapy today, and then he will have a stem-cell transplant. He’s been so brave throughout. Treats and kindness give him, and the whole family, a boost. We feel so lucky that Susan spotted my tweet and replied, and that Rory had such a great evening.”

©tnooz.com
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05
Sep

TripAdvisor sheds light on what drives a hotel booking

Posted by on in Industry News

Some fascinating global data from the folk at TripAdvisor, released as part of a presentation in China this week.

Lily Cheng, TripAdvisor president for Asia-Pacific, including the DaoDao brand which it operates under in China, was speaking at the Travel Daily Summit in Shanghai and sharing feedback from a sample size of more than 50,000 travellers.

First up is a run-down on what drives the decision-making process for travellers when booking a hotel.

The results are pretty interesting, especially when considering the differences between leisure and business travellers.

For example, price is the most important factor for leisure travellers, but online reviews and the opinions of others drives business types.

The other most important factors:

Leisure – reviews, previous experience, proximity to attractions, near to transport Business – price, recommendations from friends, previous experience, proximity to attractions

What about the amenities in a property?:

Leisure – free in-room wifi, breakfast included, in-room services, staff can speak traveller’s own language, free parking Business – information readily available (surprising), free lobby wifi, free in-room wifi, free parking, flat screen television

How travellers of both hues using their devices:

Mobile – calling, texting, finding way around a destination, personal email, looking for restaurants Tablet – browsing online, reading books, reading news, looking for restaurants, directions/email/reading reviews Laptop – browsing online, personal email, looking for hotels, business email, looking for things to do

Influence of social media and reviews:

Inevitably, TripAdvisor comes out on top as the leading source of information for hotels, but what other services play a part?

Word of mouth User generated content on other travel websites Travel guides and brochures Travel guide websites Online travel agencies Mainstream media

And, finally, what about the booking windows?

Most travellers plan their trips around three to four months before departure, but only start the booking process between one and two months in advance.

Specific to Ling’s region, around 6% of Asians (China is 10%) booked a hotel via mobile and 27% book offline.

NB: Hotel facilities image via Shutterstock.

Original author: Kevin May
©tnooz.com
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05
Sep

Forget the enormity of China (and its travel brands), what about its startups?

Posted by on in Industry News

Perhaps it is easy to get carried away with the monumental opportunity that many believe comes along with the growth of the Chinese travel industry.

It’s hard not to see why given the eye-watering numbers of travellers expected in the coming years, investments being made by major players into new products and the pace of change of its travelling public.

But spare a thought for the startups in the country – those that are just like the countless other new businesses seeking to disrupt (that word again) an industry often considered to be stuck in its ways or just plain difficult to establish a foothold in.

They encounter the same problems as their more high profile counterparts in Silicon Valley, and the hundreds of others that are sprouting up in many countries around the world.

First of all, most still need capital or resources of some description to get going (and survive in their early stages).

They often also have the same barriers to entry that exist elsewhere.

And almost all are trying to solve a problem they believe needs fixing in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry.

As a finale to the Travel Daily Summit in China this week, a string of startups took part in the now traditional travel conference pitch session in front of a group of peers/judges (and a further 1,000 delegates).

Despite the seemingly (but perhaps not, when you get under the skin of the place) different business and cultural structures that exist in China, startup competitions in travel appear to be wonderfully (or terrifyingly) similar, wherever the location.

Delegates heard about a new dynamic packaging distribution system called Lixing, focusing mostly on tours and activities.

A heady strategy and agenda for a new brand given the complexity of that particular sector, but perhaps a somewhat refreshing (think about it) comment up-front in its pitch:

“We found a gap in the market before coming up with a solution.”

Other newbies included GogoGlobal (a shopping guide and discount service for outbound travellers) and a mobile-based tour guide search engine for China called Beijing Super Guide.

Two particular brands stood out – Yoyoo8 and DFB365.

The former was a product distribution system and marketing platform for cruise products, an area of the industry in China which many believe will soar in the next few years. Yoyoo8 is not only trying to get traction with a consumer-facing brand but also has designs on being a major player with existing brands by way of a series of APIs to connect agencies to operators.

DFB365, however, was to some extent the (probably unintentional) joker of the pack.

In short, the mobile app is a last-minute and instant booking service for hotels. But it doesn’t cover room nights – instead it focuses on room “hours”.

Cue curious chuckles from pretty much most of the male audience (and a fair few blushes from some of the female delegates).

“It can help young people with their logical demands [there's a new phrase]… but also business travellers who just want to find a place to sleep.”

Beyond the eyebrow-raising proposition of one part of its strategy (one can only imagine the complexity surrounding revenue management for rooms in hotels based solely on hours), the corporate exec element shouldn’t perhaps be brushed aside so easily.

Any visitor to China will often notice the “sleeping tents” that can be found in airports and railway stations for passengers looking to rest their weary bones between journeys. Still, an offshoot of HotelTonight to emerge in the west maybe?

Nevertheless, the eventual winner was a new service called Weekend Travel, essentially a tours and activities platform which uses students as guides and runs on the WeChat platform (seriously, the buzzy brand of the moment in Chinese social media).

Focusing solely on the WeChat platform has seen it expand rapidly to capture one million users in just a few months, all looking to search and book bus tours and packages. It also now uses the equally popular QQ messaging system.

Interestingly, a group of investors and senior execs from the likes of CTrip and eLong who appeared in a session earlier that afternoon offered surprisingly little in terms of tips on how to raise money and areas which challenge startups every day, but the one area they all agreed on which is ripe for a brand to come in and capitalise: attractions.

NB: China technology image via Shutterstock.

Original author: Kevin May
©tnooz.com
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05
Sep

In-depth: the global disruption in hotel channel managers

Posted by on in Industry News

Hotel technology provider SiteMinder hails from Australia. But during the past two years it has booked a majority of its revenue in Europe.

The digital distribution start-up’s next target is North America. The company is using part of the $30 million it raised in January to establish a beachhead in the US.

In late spring, SiteMinder opened a Dallas office, where it intends to hire about 80 sales and support employees within the next year. The expansion will add to the company’s 300 employees in Sydney, London, Bangkok, and Cape Town.

Fast growth

Since November 2013, the company claims to have brought on 4,000 hotel customers, boosting its client list to 14,000. Recent wins include Red Lion Hotels, Grand City Hotels, Dorsett Hospitality, and Derag Livinghotels.

Direct distribution tools like SiteMinder’s are becoming more popular as hotel owners become aware of the need to better control their distribution, such as by building direct relationships with guests in distant markets.

SiteMinder’s software-as-a-service tools helps hotels sell their rooms on dozens of popular booking websites worldwide, such as Expedia, Wotif, Booking.com, and Agoda.

Rather than have hotel staff update inventory on each site, they can use SiteMinder’s channel manager as a single interface that communicates with the third-parties and with the hotel’s property management system (PMS).

SiteMinder Mike Ford

Tnooz caught up with founder and managing director Mike Ford to inquire about the company’s plans.

He seems sprung from Central Casting for his role as the Aussie CEO: someone who is plain-talking and affable, but not someone who is easy to play against in a competitive sport.

You’ve been on a hiring spree. How do you make sure all these people you’re hiring, and who are are scattered worldwide, maintain the company’s DNA?

That’s an excellent question. We’ve hired 70 people since January. It’s a eye-opener.

What happens is, unless you hire the executive level in line with that, you find your current executive group gets too stretched. It’s about having the right ratio of top-level with the general staff.

©tnooz.com
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04
Sep

Mobile marketing set to evolve with VR and hyper-local targeting

Posted by on in Industry News

Two pieces of mobile news – one in marketing and one in mapping – have triggered an interesting conceptual framework for the future of mobile marketing for hospitality.

Apple’s virtual reality mapping technology

Two recently published patents by Apple – “federated mobile device positioning” and “registration between actual mobile device position and environment model” – reveal a new direction for mobile mapping technology.

These patents are basically creating a virtual reality layer for maps using the user’s location and actual orientation of the phone. A user would be able to point a phone at a specific building, and Apple would use crowd-sourced imagery, satellites, and other available media assets to peel back the layers of the building to offer an inside view.

Apple patent

The combined usage of WiFi, GPS and localized sensor information will offer the most comprehensive viewpoint from available data, which allows the unique “peel back the layers” approach.

This functionality could be layered within the iOS 7 flyover feature, making it possible for a crowd-sourced exploration of buildings worldwide.

The ability to “see inside” a building is a frothy part of the travel ecosystem, as the recent $10 million funding announcement for inside mapper InsideAtlas demonstrates. This particular startup will be leaning on “magnetic anomalies” to create internal maps, as this segment begins to deliver individual solutions to the indoor map challenge. As the full external world has been mapped, the next frontier is clearly everything hidden from satellites.

©tnooz.com
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04
Sep

Starwood folds travel professionals into targeted rewards program with $30 million of marketing

Posted by on in Industry News

With a $30 million marketing splash, Starwood is moving away from offering a separate incentive program for meeting and travel professionals, and offering one comprehensive loyalty account.

Previously known as StarwoodPro, the new professional loyalty program is now called SPG Pro. Rather than offering only StarwoodPro discounted rates, the new program allows professionals booking rooms to enjoy a direct benefit for their Starwood spend.

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 10.10.04 AM

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