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Industry News

27
Jun

Sabre heads to Azerbaijan, Amadeus gets BSP certification in China, 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 June 2014.

Friday 27 June 2014:

Sabre enters Azerbaijan market

The US-based GDS and tech giant will open its first office in the country in the capital of Baku. Operations will be headed by Gabil Allahverdiyev (owner of Headstart Consulting in Azerbaijan) and director of business development, Natig Nabiyev (director and owner of APG Azerbaijan).

Wednesday 25 June 2014:

Amadeus gets BSP certification in China

This approval means that Amadeus is one step closer to allowing authorised travel agents in mainland China the ability to fulfil the entire billing and ticketing process of travel products offered by foreign BSP airlines. Recently, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) allowedauthorised international airlines to be bookable via Amadeus in China.

Amadeus launch travel agency solutions in Taiwan

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27
Jun

How to go fishing in the Big Data lake of travel

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If you are chief technology officer of one of the world biggest travel technology companies, you have to be a man on a mission.

Edmond Mesrobian, CTO at Expedia Inc, is one such man, tasked as he is with delivering data driven decisions across a portfolio that features Expedia, Hotels.com, Hotwire and Venere.

NB: This is a report by Pamela Whitby, editor for EyeforTravel.

With the avalanche of big data upon us, that task is a tough one. But with Priceline’s recent acquisition of OpenTable, which gives Booking.com a much stronger lever with hotels, Google’s ongoing creep into multiple areas of travel, and many hoteliers driving a harder bargain, it’s business critical.

Inevitably (and somewhat sadly), corporate communications policy prevents Mesrobian from commenting on Priceline’s latest buy, other than to say that Expedia will continue to invest in the mobile space to help travellers on the go.

However, he does share some insights into how the firm is leveraging Big Data and analytics to become more personal and more competitive.

Of course, Expedia is not alone. From OTAs to hotels, airlines and metasearch players, firms across the travel space are looking at how to hone their strategic approach to big data and analytics.

The recent acknowledgement of Dara Brady, Ryanair‘s head of online development, that “ultimately big data has changed the way they view the customer” speaks volumes.

For the low-cost airline that built an empire from advertising revenues on its website and ancillary fees, rather than jsut bums on seats, that may be a significant shift, but for a travel tech company like Expedia making use of data isn’t (and shouldn’t be) new.

What has changed, however, and across the industry as a whole, is the volume of data and the number people needing to access it.

“Across all our organisations there is a huge thirst to make data driven decisions. It’s no longer just the marketing guy or somebody in the analyst community or the guy doing business objects, it’s also the plus 3,000 developers we have today who want access to that data.”

In this environment where there is “far more aggressive consumption of data,” Expedia knows only too well how important it is to have the right analytical foundations in place.

Clearly what’s important today is how organisations handle the avalanche of data and what they are doing to leverage it.

Expedia recognises this and is taking a three-pronged approach to tackle the issue, which throws up some lessons for others too.

1. Test and learn for better results

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27
Jun

Startup pitch: Hotels Prives offers up commission free, direct distribution

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Hôtels Privés is a members’ only hotel deals service which offers hoteliers a commission-free platform and promotes direct booking.

The Paris-based business, launched earlier this year, says it wants to help people travel more via its discounted hotel rates.

Hôtels Privés was founded by Julien Laz, who set up online travel guide service Cityzeum (TLabs here) in 2010.

The startup is currently self funded but seeking its first round to the tune of EURO 500,000 to finish the first version of the platform, sign up hotels and create brand awareness.

While the hotel market is sizable, the company wants to offer a hand-picked selection of properties from tw0 to five-stars as well as include some bed & breakfast inventory.

The target is to have about 3000 properties on the platform by the end of this year and grow to about 40,000 properties worldwide in the medium term.

Hôtels Privés is facing stiff competition from online travel agencies which charge commission to existing private sales platforms, which also charge commission. However, the startup says that in its short history there are already more offers online on Hôtels Privés.

The company differentiates itself via its commission-free which it says enable it to offer real discounts on hotels. It is based on a classified ads model but will also offer, for a small fee, premium services to hotels such as visibility features, micro flash sales, last-minute sales and presence on affiliate sites.

Laz says:

“Hôtels Privés is aiming to be 10 to 20% less expensive than OTAs, more respectful than competitors on the hoteliers job, and is not acting as an intermediate since it links hoteliers to travellers. The platform is providing a Saas service where hoteliers will be able to publish flash sales and last-minute deals in a minute.”

hotels prives 2

What problem does the business solve?

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26
Jun

Expedia acquires Auto Escape, France’s leading rental car portfolio

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Expedia Inc has acquired Auto Escape Group. This move boosts the American online travel agency giant’s presence in the European car rental market.

Auto Escape Group’s portfolio includes autoescape.fr, which claims to be France’s most used car hire brand and to have thousands of offices worldwide.

Annual business turnover for Auto Escape was estimated at 120 million euros — a fivefold jump in five years —  according to sources quoted by Les Echos.

Auto Escape says most of its revenue now comes from outside of France.  Its 20 websites also includes large German brand Car Del Mar.

The 15-year-old group says that it has brand-wide access to the fleets of nearly 300 rental car chains, such as Ada and Hertz, in more than 125 countries.

Until now, the group had been owned by French private equity firm Montefiore plus some of the group’s executives. Terms were not disclosed.

The BC Partners Fund, which bought CarTrawler this spring, lost the bidding for Auto Escape, reports Le Monde. (For a sense of the size of the deal, BC Partners Fund was rumored to have spent £300 million on CarTrawler.)

European contest for car hire

There’s been lots of ferment in the car rental market, beyond the CarTrawler deal.

On 12 June, Sixt, Germany’s leading car rental company, signed a global partnership deal with the Expedia Inc.. The deal provides Expedia, Hotwire and CarRentals.com customers  access to Sixt’s fleet at more than 2,000 locations worldwide.

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26
Jun

GDS hotel bookings via Expedia: growth, but for how long?

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Everyone knows that hotels can put more heads in beds by selling their rooms through Expedia, the giant of online travel agencies.

What’s less well known is that hotels can sell their rooms on Expedia.com (US) via a global distribution system (GDS), minimizing Expedia’s share of the pie.

The commissions for these so-called GDS hotel bookings are about 10%. That’s 5 to 15 percentage points lower than the typical commission for standard bookings, depending on the payment model (agency or merchant) and the level of service.

Expedia.com only sells GDS hotels whose rate and content information is powered by two systems, Worldspan, owned by Travelport, and Pegasus Solutions.

Tnooz was unable to find an authoritative estimate of the size of the GDS hotel bookings market. It can’t be large, of course, given how few people know about it.

But this data point is intriguing:

Travelport has seen 30% year-over-year growth in GDS direct bookings for Expedia. The statistic covers the 12 months to end of March 2014, the latest data available.

Tracie Carillo, head of hospitality sales at Travelport, says:

We are working to continue to grow our support of their distribution through Travelport.

Pegasus, the largest global switch provider that Expedia works with, has a similarly sized hotel portfolio. But it declined our requests for comment.

Pegasus

Expedia pullback brewing?

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26
Jun

Kuaidadi partners with eLong, Singapore Airline’s shopping mall, Revinate surveys, and more

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This is a roundup of product news and announcements for travel MARKETING in tourism and hospitality for June 2014.

Wednesday 25 June 2014:

Kuaidi Dache teams up with eLong

Kuadi Dache, the Chinese on-demand taxi hailing company, and eLong, has entered into an agreement that will allow customers of the taxi app to search and book nearby hotels, and also receive cash rebates and vouchers for Kuaidi Dache app for a hotel booking in eLong.

RezNext partners with Internet Moguls

RezNext, the hotel distribution company, has partnered with Internet Moguls, a hotel digital marketing company. This partnership will enable the companies to cross sell each others services. With this partnership, RezNext is trying to offer an end to end solution for hoteliers.

Uber launches in Vietnam, Hong Kong

The company has rolled out its service in “test mode” in both these destinations.

Singapore Airlines launches online shopping mall

KrisFlyer Spree, the airline’s new online shopping mall allows its KrisFlyer and PPS Club members to purchase clothing, accessories, electronics, food and beverage items, toys, cosmetic products, and more. Also, purchasing in the online mall attracts KrisFlyer miles. The mall has over 2,000 global brands and merchants. As an introductory offer, the airline is offering double miles on purchase with select brands.

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26
Jun

How simple personalisation on ads boosted web eyeballs to a tourist destination

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In some respects personalisation on advertising can feel a little bit creepy to consumers – but it does appear to work.

Perhaps subtlety is the answer?

That’s what the South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach decided to do, with its local tourism board customising a series of online video promotions to target potential visitors.

The ads established the IP address and other datapoints of the viewer and then, in the final few seconds of each clip, posted showed a message indicating the best route and a carrier.

Here is an example clip:

 

Simple, right?

VisitMyrtleBeach says the campaign helped deliver over 45,000 clicks from the ad to the main website.

Furthermore, a “click-out rate of almost 30% was generated to the organisation’s partners for the campaign.

A particularly cute element, created for just a few particular regions, was to highlight the weather in a user’s own location on the day and compare it to the same forecast in the destination.

myrtle beach2

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26
Jun

How well do 100 major accommodation and destination websites perform on mobile?

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TheSearchAgency has singled out the best and some of the worst travel brands via a major study into their prowess on mobile devices.

The online marketing looked at the top 100 travel destination and accommodation sites ranked by the number of monthly visits (Hitwise) they received on desktop in May of 2014.

It ranked the sites according to their mobile experience, a score out of five based on seven factors visible on the home screen of a mobile website:

Page load time Site format (design of the site, responsive ability) Search function (presence on visible part of screen) Click-to-call Sign in (presence on visible part of screen) Social media functionality Mobile app presence (links displayed on the top or bottom of the screen)

The top ten performers (full list here):

Choice Hotels Comfort Inn Quality Inn ComfortSuites Econo Lodge Sleep Inn Best Western BookIt HomeAway Sheraton

Non-hotel branded websites in the list include:

Hotels.com – Rank 13 EasyToBook – Rank 28 (recently acquired by MakeMyTrip) TripAdvisor – Rank 30 Airbnb – Rank 41 Google Hotel Finder - Rank 54 Agoda – Rank 60 Booking.com – Rank 63 Fodors – Rank 71 LonelyPlanet – Rank 76 WikiTravel– Rank 94

Some other findings and tips detailed in the report:

Responsive design vs dedicated design vs desktop site

Among the 100 travel sites, 8% use RWD (responsive web design), 67% have dedicated mobile sites, and the remaining 25% serve only a desktop version of the site.

Dedicated mobile sites often score higher than either of the other site formats – the top eight scoring sites all serve dedicated mobile sites.

thesearchagency 1

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26
Jun

Minube app for tablets, Pegasus half million downloads, Cleartrip in iPad, and more

Posted by on in Industry News

This is a roundup of product news and announcements for travel DEVICES in tourism and hospitality for June 2014.

Wednesday 25 June 2014:

Minube launches app for tablets

The travel planning service has launched apps (available in English, Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese) for iOS and Android tablets. Users will be able to plan their trip, and also book hotels. Minube’s mobile apps have been downloaded over two million times.

Pegasus Airlines reports 0.5 million app downloads

Monitise, a mobile money company, launched a refreshed version (available in English and Turkish) of Pegasus Airline’s app. Since the launch six months ago (for both iOS and Android), the apps has had over 283,000 downloads on iPhone and 175,000 on Android. The airline sees its mobile channel growing strong – with 5,000 new users registering every month, 1.7 million monthly views, 23,000 check-ins, and 18,000 tickets selling via the app per month.

Cleartrip launches iPad app

The Indian OTA’s new iPad app brings a native experience and all features of its iPhone app except train bookings. New features in the iPad app include a full screen map view.

Thursday 19 June 2014:

HotelQuickly increases booking window

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26
Jun

New accessibility rules coming to airline websites. Are you ready?

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Imagine for a minute that you decide to take a vacation. You’re thinking Hawaii, Tahiti or the Alps. You grab your computer, open a browser, type in your favorite airline and then stop.

NB: Ken Nakata, is an attorney in the of IT accessibility and director of HiSoftware’s Accessibility Consulting Practice (ACP).

Why? Unfortunately for 19 percent of the US population that live with disabilities, this is the consequence when navigating to an inaccessible website for air transportation.

If they can’t access the content, they can’t use the site.

Or, what about having to pay extra to make the booking by phone – all because the website was inaccessible?

Now imagine arriving at the airport and trying to check-in with a kiosk, but it isn’t accessible. Airlines offer help, but this can mean standing in a long check-in line, and surely this isn’t best practice.

New rules within the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) are about to change all this. Issued by the US Department of Transportation (DOT), the rules require US and foreign carriers to make websites offering air transportation to the American public and automated kiosks at US airports accessible to individuals with disabilities.

There are three key requirements of the Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Accessibility of Web Site and Automated Kiosks at US Airports regulation.

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