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Industry News

28
Mar

As hotel booking engine Room Key turns two, it looks to loyalty personalization

Posted by on in Industry News

Room Key, a US-based hotel booking engine, recently turned two years old.

We wanted to check in for an update from the company, which is owned by Choice Hotels, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Wyndham and Marriott.

We spoke by phone with CEO John F. Davis III.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how successful has Room Key been? By what yardstick?

I’m pleased. We’ve doubled our conversion rate since launch.

The hotel chain shareholders are pleased, too. They like the amount of bookings they’re getting out of Room Key. We’re not profitable yet, because we’re reinvesting in the product for future growth. The shareholders are okay with that.

Since September 2012, we’ve added about 20,000 to 30,000 hotels, bringing us up to well over 70,000 properties worldwide. We have 35 employees. On Monday we moved our engineers in Charlottesville into a new office building.

Room Key has been described as an “exit traffic safety net for larger hotel brands“. This means that users who click away from a major chain’s own “brand.com” website will see a pop-up that invites them to use Room Key. The goal is to tempt users to compare rates via Room Key’s larger subset of hotels rather than go off to an online travel agency or metasearch. Is that still the core proposition?

Yes. From our first month, we had 14 million unique visitors because of our unique pop-under ads exit strategy. We’re roughly at that level today, though it’s seasonal.

The strategy has been a blessing. We used exit traffic as a runway to get our enterprise off the ground.

What else is ahead for Room Key?

This year, we’re doing something no one else has done. We’re going to enable a more personalized set of search results that incorporates actionable information based on a traveler’s loyalty points program totals.

We are going to introduce the option for shoppers to create a membership at Room Key, by sharing with us their loyalty membership account details for the major brands. Then we’ll update the search results for the user, making it easier for him or her to shop based on their status.

For instance, say you created a log-in with us. Once you told us your loyalty program information, our system would produce search engine results that do two things.

First, highlight hotels where you have status. [See image, below, for a test design that is in beta testing.]

Room Key

Second, when you click for details on the hotel, you will see exactly what your level of membership entitles you. With your status, you might get free breakfast, free wifi, late checkout, etc. That helps you compare apples-to-apples the true value of a booking, not just the price.

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28
Mar

TripScanner partners with Hickory, Accor’s 1 million hotel bookings via Amadeus, 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 March 2014.

Friday 28 March 2014:

TripScanner taps into a consortium of corporate travel agencies

TripScanner is a browser-based, “open booking” enterprise tool to help small- and midsized-businesses manage their travel expenses, while allowing their employees to book on any travel website. It has announced a partnership with Hickory Global Partners, a leading consortium of corporate travel agencies.
Says the startup: “Through better data on out-of-program bookings, TMCs can work more effectively with clients to reduce leakage, improve duty-of-care, and deepen their client relationships.”

Wednesday 26 March 2014:

Accor hits one million bookings via Amadeus

In 2013, Accor achieved over one million hotel bookings through Amadeus.  In addition to the Accor brand, currently more than 100 ibis hotels’ inventory are also available in Amadeus, and the plan is to have more than 500 ibis hotel available in Amadeus by 2014.

TravelTripper integrates with TripConnect

TravelTripper, the web technology solution provider for hotels, has fully integrated with TripAdvisor’s TripConnect.

Tuesday 25 March 2014:

Air New Zealand renews agreement with Sabre

With the renewal agreement between the parties, more than 400,000 travel agents worldwide will continue to have real-time access to the airline’s fares, schedules and inventory, in addition to ancillary products. The airline’s Economy Skycouch seats and pre-paid bags are already available in Sabre in select markets.

Monday 24 March 2014:

Travelport renews VIP Travel partnership in Russia

The Moscow-based consolidator has signed a multi-year extension to its existing agreement, also giving it Galileo Web Services and e-Tracker technology from Travelport. The 21-year-old company claims to be the country’s largest provider of air and rail bookings and is the main agent for both Aeroflot and Russian Railways brand, RZD. It also operates the Biletix consumer-facing brand.

Thursday 20 March 2014:

Travelport shuffles management pack in Asia-Pacific and Africa

Current managing director for Africa, Mark Meehan, will move to Singapore for a similar role covering the Asia-Pacific region, reporting to managing director for global sales, Jason Clarke. As a result of Meehan’s new role, Travelport’s operations in Africa be headed by the following: Stuart Laird-Smith (North Africa), Peter Barry (Central, East and West Africa) and George Harb (Southern Africa). Meehan’s move to Singapore coincides with the departure of vice president and regional managing director, Patrick Andres, who is leaving for a new role elsewhere in the industry.

CarTrawler retains Allovoyages

The French price comparison site will use CarTrawler as its sole car rental distribution partner online. The system gives users access to 1,200 rental agents in more than 30,000 airport and city locations in 174 countries around the world.

eRevMax integrates with Rakuten Travel

The two-way XML integration between the services will enable Rakuten’s hotel customers to make real-time ARI (Availability, Rates & Inventory) updates and receive Rakuten bookings directly into their property management system. Rakuten Travel has over 80,000 hotels worldwide including about 30,000 hotels in Japan.

Wednesday 19 March 2014:

HotelTonight adds Portugal as a market for hotel inventory

HotelTonight, a same-day hotel booking app, has arrived in Portugal’s domestic market, bringing its global total to more than 19 countries and 300 destinations. The company charges hotels about 15% to 20% per booking, slightly lower than average for online travel booking platforms.

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28
Mar

It is time for Twitter to grow up (or face disruption)?

Posted by on in Industry News

SOCIAL: Where would the world without Twitter? Some might argue significant swathes of the population would probably be more productive than many were eight years ago – but the important point for others is that in some respects the short-form social network hasn’t really evolved at all, and therefore under pressure. Read more on Quartz.

Twitter is showing signs of its age. But no one seems to agree on what—if anything—should change about the service.

About the only thing critics can agree on: As powerful as Twitter is, it’s still inaccessible to new users.

But let’s begin at the beginning.

Read more on Quartz

NB: Twitter image via Shutterstock

Curated By Logo

Original author: Tnooz - Talking Other Tech
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26
Mar

Social media thriving among travel agents – but is there a clear return on investment?

Posted by on in Industry News

ASTA has compiled its latest brief on the usage of technology by travel agents, showing that social media use has surged to eighty percent of surveyed travel agents.

The results were derived from ASTA’s Research Family, a representative sample across its member base, and has a sampling margin of +/- 5%, providing an extensive layout of how agents use technology to sell travel.

Social + ROI?

So with all these agents plying the seas of social media, what about ROI?

Well, ROI remains elusive, according to this set of findings.

Of the 80% that responded positively to usage of social media, a whopping third have seen zero dollars in revenue directly from that source. And yet, beyond that “0% of revenues” mark, 43% have seen over 5% of their total revenue derived from social media efforts.

Social media ROI for travel agents according to ASTA survey

©tnooz.com
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04
Mar

Tips to boost travel bookings: Right email subject, at right time with right content

Posted by on in Industry News

With booking abandonment rates as high as 81% (at least) in the travel industry, the issue is perhaps one of the top problems travel brands face daily. SaleCycle, a remarketing specialist lists three email tips to recover lost travel bookings.

Here, ‘booking abandonment’  is the process where a user searches for a travel product, goes all the way upto booking/payment page, but drops off without converting.

Abandoned online bookings (across all industries) are estimated to be worth $3 trillion in 2014.

SaleCycle analyzed about 100 global travel brands (including Millennium Hotels, Opodo, P&O Ferries and Hertz) to understand their email conversion parameters.

Below is a summary of three tips from the company to effectively leverage email marketing to boost travel bookings:

©tnooz.com
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28
Feb

Travelport enjoying best volumes in three years, claims leader role in merchandising

Posted by on in Industry News

With questions over debt structure behind it for the time being, Travelport is getting used to happier quarterly results – seeing “positive traction” across all areas this week.

The company says net revenue for 2013 was up 5% on the previous year to nearly $2.1 billion, giving adjusted EBITDA of $517 million, a jump of 5% on 2012.

For the final quarter of 2013, net revenue increased again by 5% y/y to $480 million. Overall the company’s operating income was up some 78% from $138 million during 2013 to $208 million in 2013.

The results exclude the loss of the Master Services Agreement with United, a figure which during 2014 will finally cease to be a constant note in the company’s quarterly reports.

President and CEO, Gordon Wilson, says one of the positive signs of the company’s recent performance is around transaction volumes.

The company ended 2013 by recording its highest quarterly volumes for three and a half years, Wilson says, with revenue-per-segment also up by 4% between 2012 and 2013.

Wilson says it is a combination of the increase in volumes and growth in its “Beyond Air” activities (Rooms & More, eNett, agent desktop advertising) which have helped contribute to an additional $74 million appearing on the balance sheet during 2013.

Travelport is coming up to 12 months since it launched its Merchandising Platform – a service which Wilson says is becoming a “key part” of the content agreement renewals with airlines (not least during the recent negotiations with British Airways, parts of which were aired almost on a daily basis in the media).

BA is one of the marquee signings for Travelport in the new Rich Content & Branding element of the Merchandising Platform, giving carriers the chance to place content and details of their features onto agent desktops in a similar way to their existing website.

Wilson says the platform has “completely changed the dialogue” that Travelport now has with airlines.

“We are leading the rest of the industry in terms of what we are doing with our merchandising platform.”

Original author: Kevin May
©tnooz.com
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28
Feb

Orbitz buys private label division of Travelocity

Posted by on in Industry News

More breaking up of a mainstay of the online travel industry, with Travelocity offloading its white label business to rival online travel agency Orbitz.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Orbitz notes that it does not expect any material impact on profits on the balance sheet in 2014.

Orbitz Worldwide will be buying the partner contracts which support bank loyalty programmes and online retail sites.

The decision to sell off parts of the private label division to a rival OTA comes just eight months after Travelocity said it would handing over running of the US and Canadian versions of the site to Expedia, as part of a “strategic marketing agreement”.

The Orbitz Partner Network, which will take over running of the newly acquired assets from Travelocity, has targeted the third party label space as a growth area.

Travelocity’s involvement in the private label space is a reasonably high profile business, with it powering the likes of Kayak (for hotels) and VisitOrlando.

Orbitz’s effort powers a string of official destination websites as well as the Helloworld business in Australia.

President of Orbitz Partner Network, Ronnie Gurion, says:

“The acquisition of Travelocity Partner Network assets will accelerate our growth in the private label space and expand the range of customized solutions we are able to offer to customers, in particular in the loyalty area.”

Trimming the core around Travelocity so its becomes essentially a brand powered by others coincides with parent company Sabre‘s (now stated) intention to seek a public listing on the US stock markets.

Original author: Kevin May
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15
Jan

Hotel giants fall victim to spam attack on Google

Posted by on in Industry News

Google has confirmed it is working to fix an attack on big brand hotels including Marriott and Hilton, which sees links to their websites redirected to a third party.

The search giant declined to make an official comment except to say it was aware of the issue.

Tnooz was contacted anonymously late-last week with information showing some hotel URLs had been compromised.

Google would not comment on how long it had known about the issue or how it had happened.

The apparently hijacked links, which list “roomstobook” as the website address under the property details, appear in Google+ Local which also serves results to Google Maps and in search.

The “roomstobook” link in turn directs users to hotel reservation site, Hotelswhiz.

©tnooz.com
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15
Jan

Secret Escapes to unleash mobile strategy via JustBook acquisition

Posted by on in Industry News

Interesting moves in the same-day hotel booking world this morning with news that Germany-based JustBook has been acquired by Secret Escapes.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed but JustBook managing director Stefan Menden confirmed the deal with the private sales was closed before Christmas after initial talks began in September.

©tnooz.com
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01
Nov

Chinese invasion – Qunar lists on public markets in the US today

Posted by on in Industry News

Qunar, China’s biggest metasearch service and also the country’s top travel site by traffic, listed today on the NASDAQ in New York under the symbol QUNR.

At the time of this article, Qunar was trading at $29.8 per share, almost double than what the market is said to have expected. At its current trading price, Qunar is valued at $3.3 billion.

The company filed for initial public offering of 11.1 million American Depository Share (ADS) in September with the expected price range of $9.5 to $11.5 aper share. It had recently increased the initial share price between $12 to $14 a share.

Qunar IPO - Tnooz

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