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26
Jun

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

Posted by on in Industry News

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?

Posted by on in Industry News

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

Posted by on in Industry News

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.

©tnooz.com
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26
Jun

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

Posted by on in Industry News

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?

Posted by on in Industry News

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?

Posted by on in Industry News

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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25
Jun

SONIFI seeks to shake LodgeNet nightmare with new products and innovation lab

Posted by on in Industry News

LodgeNet wisely announced a wholesale rebrand last year at HITEC, shedding the skin of a former life that saw the company miss the boat on consumer content consumption shifts. The company now goes by the name SONIFI Solutions, and claims the slogan “content and connectivity” as its guiding light towards providing property-wide connected solutions.

In the effort to forget the past and focus on the future, the company has released an new iteration of its once-standard in-room entertainment software, STAY1000, that includes useful innovations such as a mobile remote that pairs a smartphone with a TV.

These sorts of updated products are an essential part of the company’s new strategy, and are highlighted by its effort to push past its former self and into a broad connectivity solution that allows guests to consume content in any way they choose. Companies such as Quadriga, Intelity, Allin Interactive and many more are offering entertainment solutions for hospitality, so the market is only heating up.

Tnooz sat with SONIFI CEO Mike Ribero to chat candidly about how his company is moving from the past into a highly competitive present.

Let’s talk a bit about the previous iteration of your company. The world left you behind a little bit there…

A little bit? I think that’s a bit of an understatement! It’s been a year since we rebranded, and the rebranding was about leaving the old company behind, lock stock and barrel. We knew we had to make serious changes to reestablish ourselves in the market, and not be seen as yesterday’s news. And yesterday may be too kind – last year’s news.

What we’ve been focusing on is the three I’s: investment, in the company, talent, technology, process, and systems; innovation, as we didn’t do much of it before when the company basically stopped at creating VOD across the industry without addressing the internet; and the third I is improving our internal processes so we could be more hotel centric.

It’s hard for me to believe that this company was in business for almost 30 years and never once did they think it was a good idea to have someone with hotel experience making the decisions. Our focus has been re-establishing the relationship we had with the brands that we had worked with for a really long time.

 

LodgeNet

LodgeNet was rebranded as SONIFI Solutions last year.

SONIFI Solutions Logo

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25
Jun

HotelTonight claims industry first with mobile check-in and key-less entry

Posted by on in Industry News

Bragging rights it seems to HotelTonight with an update to its mobile app to include mobile check-in for hotels and the ability to enter rooms without a key.

The same-day mobile hotel booking claims it is the first intermediary to offer the two features on a mobile application (both were debuted at Google‘s I/O event today).

The “Express Check-In” feature will mean guests can essentially circumvent the existing check-in process at a hotel’s reception.

Users will be notified by the app when the room is available so they can arrive at a property and collect their room key.

The second feature may well bypass the last part of this process eventually, too, with “Keyless Entry” (operated by Brivo Labs) giving users the ability to unlock a room from within the application.

It works via NFC technology on the Android app and uses an API from Brivo, according to HotelTonight at the event.

Brivo and HotelTonight say they are discussing the key-less entry technology with “several global hotel chains” ahead of some kind of roll-out to users.

CEO and co-founder Sam Shank says:

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25
Jun

How much could consumer brands like Priceline disrupt the hotel technology market?

Posted by on in Industry News

This month, Priceline Group has been dropping several pieces into the business-to-business (B2B) puzzle.

Might a hotel booking engine be next?

Several experts Tnooz interviewed say a major online travel agency (OTA) could succeed in breaking into the B2B market.

It might even be a logical next step for the major OTAs.

It has been speculated that Priceline’s acquisition of Buuteeq this month brings that company right behind the hotel front desk.

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