The Week, That Was – June 2018 Week 4

In five minutes or less, keep track of the most important news of the week, curated just for you. We present to you hand – picked news on latest industry perspectives and some general updates. Read on!!

 HITEC: Industry must think holistically about tech
A panel of top-level executives speaking at the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference said the hotel industry has to adopt more broad technology solutions that work together.

http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/286985/HITEC-Industry-must-think-holistically-about-tech

Travelers losing interest in home-sharing, Google gaining ground as travel resource
For all the chatter of Airbnb stealing scene time away from hotels, traveler interest in home-sharing seems to be waning. According to MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers study, which surveyed nearly 3,000 US adults that have taken at least one trip over the past 12 months, just 33% of respondents are interested in sharing economy accommodations, down from 41% in 2017 and 37% in 2016.

https://www.phocuswire.com/MMGY-Global-portrait-of-american-travelers-2018

How strategic use of technology drives guest loyalty and hotel revenue
Technology is creating new opportunities and challenges for hospitality brands, and the ones that use it effectively will be rewarded with a loyal following of guests and, ultimately, more profits.

https://www.phocuswire.com/HITEC-CEO-technology-panel

Google: Travel’s closely watched obsession
Google’s entry into metasearch may be more than half a decade old, but it continues to be a closely watched obsession for the travel industry. Since the very beginning, Phocuswright has carefully tracked the evolution of Google travel products and their growing role in travel’s search-shop-buy funnel.

https://www.phocuswire.com/Google-travel-obsession

How hotel managers can generate profits above and beyond owner’s expectations
There is a lot happening in 2018 that hotel owners should be happy about. After the best Q1 on record earlier this year, it is shaping up to be another stellar year in hospitality with demand (2.4%) outweighing supply (2%); occupancy increasing by 0.4%; ADRs growing by 2.6%; and RevPAR increasing by 3% (STR, PWC).

https://www.hebsdigital.com/blog/hotel-managers-generate-profits/

How RevPAR growth translates into profits
Hotel profitability is the primary measure of success for hotel owners, managers and operators. However, revenue and top-line data continue to be the focus of the industry.

One major reason for this is the availability of revenue-per-available-room data, which is directly linked to the success of STR at aggregating rooms revenue data across a substantial portion of the industry. Alternatively, profitability data is much more difficult to amass because hotel ownership and management groups are much more fragmented than hotel brands.

http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/286892/How-RevPAR-growth-translates-into-profits

Amazon’s latest focus on hotels comes via Alexa
Amazon is launching a new service for hotels to introduce its voice-controlled assistant Alexa for guests to use in their rooms. Alexa for Hospitality will allow hotel guests to make verbal requests through an Amazon Echo device, including room service, housekeeping and contacting the property’s concierge.
https://www.tnooz.com/article/amazon-hospitality-alexa-hotels/

Fake hotels becoming a massive issue for OTAs
The rise of fake hotels is a phenomenon that has left both consumers and online travel agents (OTAs) frustrated and out of pocket. And they’re becoming more sophisticated and believable too. In recent months, the travel industry has witnessed a tidal wave of fake chalet websites, with one website, Alps-stay.com, conning unsuspecting holiday-makers out of tens of thousands of euros.

http://travolution.com/articles/107814/guest-post-the-fake-hotels-phenomenon-targeting-otas

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The Week, That Was – May 2018 Week 4

In five minutes or less, keep track of the most important news of the week, curated just for you. We present to you hand – picked news on latest industry perspectives and some general updates. Read on!!

Looking to optimize your online revenue and profits? JOIN THIS WEBINAR
Leverage advanced distribution insights and manage distribution and revenue strategies from one unified platform. Attend the webinar to know how you can get action-oriented data analytics to improve your daily workflow – Register Today

http://go.fornova.com/distribution-intelligence-meets-hospitality-os-ukna

New Launch – “The Hotelier’s Tech Stack Guide”
TrustYou has published an ebook to help hotels get insights into the most impactful hotel technologies, broken down by guest journey stage: search and booking, on-site, and post-stay phase. In this eBook, you will learn about how technology is automating and simplifying tasks; why technology is critical to attracting and retaining guests and the “good-to-have” technology extras that can take your hotel one step forward.

https://goo.gl/nZAXKw

How Google’s organic search results have become ineffective for hotels
A common complaint from hotels is that they can’t compete with keyword buying against the likes of Expedia Group and Booking Holdings (between them spent upwards of $10 billion during 2017) but research has shown just how dominant the same intermediaries are in organic search, too.

https://goo.gl/a6db6g

Are hotel operators ready for GDPR?
Hotel operators, by default, are more reliant on overseas purchases than vendors in other sectors, making it more likely that this legislation will capture hoteliers taking European bookings.

GDPR will affect now-accepted customer communication techniques they use, like cart abandonment responses, retargeting, mailing list management and staying in touch with returning guests.

https://www.tnooz.com/article/gdpr-hotels-data-protection

Connect with us for your connectivity needs to make the most of online revenue.
https://goo.gl/3gKUJZ

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The Week, That Was – March 2018

In five minutes or less, keep track of the most important news of the week, curated just for you. We present to you hand – picked news on latest industry perspectives and some general updates. Read on!

Google’s New Look for Mobile Hotel Ads

Recently, there is a new mobile experience on Google Hotel Ads. The tested mobile interface on Google had a refreshed hotel listing page, a cleaner call out for pricing, an updated color scheme, and a clear designation when a hotel has a competitive price.

https://www.4hoteliers.com/features/article/11140

Metasearch power plays: What hoteliers need to know about staying competitive

Metasearch sites account for over 45% of global unique visitors in travel, according to PACE Dimensions’ analysis of SimilarWeb data for the top 10,000 travel websites. This is greater than the proportion of unique visitors for OTAs, both globally and in the US.

https://www.tnooz.com/article/metasearch-power-plays-what-hoteliers-need-to-know-about-staying-competitive-in-metasearch

HospitalityUnited.Club highlights key travel trends in Europe

The big four, namely Spain, Italy, France and United Kingdom occupy the largest share of the travel pie in Europe, topping the list with 4 out of 6 travellers visiting Europe. The travel optimism for the region, which has shown a record 29% growth in long-haul trips by EU residents, has led to a good increase in occupancy and revenue per available room (RevPAR) in 2017. 

https://goo.gl/SxEChk

Global hotel inventory has grown an impressive 18% in 10 years

According to the data from STR, a global data benchmarking company that maintains the world’s largest global hotel performance sample, the world has 184,299 hotels comprising 16,966,280 rooms.

http://www.traveldailymedia.com/str-global-hotel-inventory/

Expedia Inc. Changes Name to Expedia Group Inc.

Expedia, Inc. is now Expedia Group: The world’s travel platform, bringing the world within reach.

https://www.hotelbusiness.com/expedia-inc-changes-name-to-expedia-group-inc/

Connect with us for your connectivity needs in this new year to make the most of online revenue. https://goo.gl/3gKUJZ

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Google’s direct commission-based bookings – 3 things hotels should know

Let’s demystify the big news from Google who has changed its business model for hotel bookings yet again! Google Hotel Finder has been silently sun-setted; Google is now pushing what it calls the Hotel Ads Commission Program. This is an attempt to enter the OTA space however shying away from being an intermediary; rather Google aims to be a facilitator of commission based bookings.

Contrary to the OTA models where the channel “owns” the guest relation, through Google Hotel Ads, hotels will be in full control starting from a guest’s search process to the completed booking. And most importantly, hotels only pay to Google for successful bookings.

Here are 3 things that you should know to make this new platform work for you –

More revenue for small and independent hotels

Everyday millions of people search for various destinations and hotels on Google – that means millions of potential guests for your hotel. In 2013, Google launched its cost-per-click model of Google Hotel Ads which small and independent hotels used to get more direct traffic to their brand.com website. But with this new commission-based model which is similar to TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking feature; Google aims to take out the complexity of the bidding process and charge hotels direct commissions only for completed bookings. This will help hotels confidently use Google as a distribution platform. With over 340 million monthly unique visitors, TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking feature has become a big hit and Google needed to widen its offering to stay in the game – which it has done now with this new development. It’s time for small independent hotels to take the first mover’s advantage and leverage Google’s huge audience base.


Converting guests within the same booking window

Today online consumers want quick information and simpler booking processes – which means they prefer to get information in one place instead of having to look around on different websites. In the Cost per click (CPC) model, guests are re-directed to the hotel website – which takes some time and ultimately frustrates the guest who might not complete the booking process. With the new book on Google, the search engine major facilitates the complete booking process within the same window without the guest having to visit the hotel website. The process is seamless between the hotel, Google and the guest. As soon as a booking is made, the hotel sends a booking confirmation email directly to the guest thereby owning the guest relationship from step one. The hotel also answers post-booking queries and handles changes to the reservation or cancellations.


Booking through multiple devices

Though mobile booking is growing exponentially among online travellers, desktop still holds number one position when it comes to hotel bookings. Perhaps this is the driving force behind Google’s move to launch this feature on desktop and tablet as well besides mobile devices- making it easier for more hotels to participate. Another interesting fact is travellers can avail information about hotel amenities within their search results. This added feature is an upsell opportunity for hoteliers to keep their potential guests updated on all the amenities that the hotel provides including Wi-Fi, free breakfast, parking availability, swimming pool, business centre etc.

With the exit of the Hotel Finder programme, Google is trying to reposition themselves as a ‘big brother’ in the travel industry – and is already becoming a threat to the online travel agents.

Image Credit: Google Blog

Google’s Mobilegeddon: How it will impact hospitality industry?

It’s been two weeks since Google has launched “Mobilegeddon” their recent algorithm, and since then it has been one of the most discussed topic among the digital marketers. At a time when in every 4 in 5 searches are being done through mobile, the latest update from Google decisively tilts the advantage to mobile friendly websites, predicts the search engine experts.



To make it simple, this means if a guest is searching through his smartphone, sites which are mobile optimized, will get better placement in Google search results. The results on desktop and tablets will still remain unaffected. However, given that over 27% of US travel bookings are being made on smartphones now, this has a huge impact on hotel industry, especially the small and independent ones.


Mobile has changed the way we search, connect to brands and make travel arrangements. By the end of this year global smartphone users expected to reach 2.5 billion and if your brand is not visible to this large audience then you need to rethink the way you target and engage with your potential customers.

Today’s tech-savvy travelers use the internet to find their favorite brand while on the go. In our recent article- The Rise and Rise of Mobility: how it is Changing WorldTravel we discussed how mobile is changing the world travel and online travel is shifting from PC to mobile phone. The recent update from Google shows that the search engine giant is only responding to consumer preferences by asking businesses to give them better experience while searching on the devices they most use. It is now hoteliers turn to take right mobile strategy to avoid getting buried in the 60 trillion web pages.

Are your Website Mobile-Friendly?

Before you start thinking to optimize your website, know how the change is going to impact your daily business. With 50% of its search coming through mobile devices, Google has updated its algorithms to ensure users discover more relevant and mobile-friendly results. Our web consists of 60 trillion individual web pages, finding a relevant result in a fraction of a second is not easy.



Google has begun including mobile friendly web pages as a factor in its mobile search engine rankings. Your hotel website would fare better in search rankings if the pages are legible and usable on mobile devices  Though a mobile-friendly website does not always guarantee online bookings but it could lead more direct traffic and individual page views to your hotel website increasing your brand presence in the online world.
                   
If you don’t have mobile optimized websites, no worry, there is still time for you. Find out if your website is mobile-friendly with Google’s Mobile Friendly Test and if you don’t qualify the test then it’s time to revamp your website with responsive design, as many travellers may only visit mobile version of your hotel’s website.





Right Content for Mobile travelers

Today the first point of contact (POC) for a guest on travel search is your website; they search your brand name on Google, reads relevant content which depicts about your product and services. As use of mobile phone increasing exponentially you need to rethink the way you reach out to your travel consumers and last minute travellers. If you think only optimising mobile friendly website is going to boost your ranking in Google then probably you are on the wrong track. Ensure your website has rich content with engaging imagery for your visitor to spend more time on your brand.com site and eventually make it to the booking window.

As the shopping journey is changing constantly you have to stay one step ahead of recent trends to feed your guests with the services they are looking for. Today’s hyper-connected travelers wait for the right time to get their preferable accommodation at reasonable price. Leveraging mobile friendly websites means you are not only providing better guest experience but creating an opportunity to make relationship your potential guests.

Swapan Kumar Manna is the Sr. Executive – Marketing at eRevMax. He can be reached at swapanm@erevmax.com.


Why hotels can’t afford to ignore business intelligence in 2015- Part 1

There are two types business organizations today – one who rely on incorporate business intelligence in their decision making process and another who still relies on ‘gut’ feeling. At a time when we live in a perpetual state of hyper-competition, organizations which are using business intelligence to get key insights are responding more quickly to correct things that may be problematic.

Business analysts predict that bad data or poor data quality costs US businesses $600 billion annually. According to Gartner, poor data quality is a primary reason for 40% of all business initiatives failing to achieve their targeted benefits. With advanced analytics, they can improve their revenue by 10 – 20%.

Wikipediadefines Business Intelligence as the set of techniques and tools for the transformation of raw data into meaningful and useful information for business analysis purposes. BI makes easy interpretation of large volumes of data which helps businesses identifying new opportunities and implementing an effective strategy based on insights. Sharlock Holmes has summed it up long time back, “Data! Data! Data! I can’t make bricks without clay”. BI does exactly that – builds insights by placing data at the right place.

Internet has been a great leveler in narrowing the information gap. Today’s customers are empowered with ample sources to get information on almost everything they want to know, social media for peer feedback and mobile connectivity to stay up to date even on the go. To say that we at hospitality industry are finding it challenging to cope up with changing guest behavior would be an understatement. British Airways paid a heavy price when a disgruntled customer bought promoted tweet to complain about their customer service, which became global news. In recent times United Airlines and Air India had to face lot of flak when videos on their customer service went viral in social media.

This constant scrutiny has forced us in the hospitality industry to continuously adjust and refine our marketing strategies. Let’s face it – we are dealing with the multifaceted traveler whose preference changes depending on type of trips. He might not need high-speed internet during his family vacation, but for his business trip that’s an absolute necessity. The way people plan trips is also changing.

Google, which has done a detailed study on consumer’s purchase path, has identified how different marketing channels such as email, social media, display ads, direct search, referrals, paid and organic search add different values to the customer at different stages. Some channels will act more as an assisting interaction, i.e. by building brand awareness – these are the channels which make a customer consider a brand while others will act further downstream, when the customer’s decision and transaction, is made. For hotels it has become imperative to understand guest buying behaviors, price elasticity and changing market dynamics for yielding the optimum rate from the most desired consumer set.

Organizations need to capture information at every stage and correctly analyze it to get the right strategy in place. However this is easier said, that done. In this era of information explosion, hoteliers are overloaded with data, but not enough understanding to map them to business needs. Clearly the problem has shifted to making sense of the data which is far more complicated than gathering information.


This is where business intelligence comes in. Data becomes valuable only after it is shaped into insights, and when those insights inform the key decision processes that lead to better outcomes. We at eRevMax, view business intelligence as something much more than a technology with an ROI; it’s a transformational phenomenon that will fundamentally change how business will be conducted and decisions made. 

The Rise and Rise of Mobility: how it is Changing World Travel – Part 2

Mobile Specific Promotion

True, that a large section of mobile bookers are last-minute guests, but does that mean it’s a channel to sell distressed inventories at a discounted rate? Hardly so. The fact that it’s primarily a last minute distribution channel should be a good enough reason for hotels to hold on to their last-minute best available rate. Treat mobile as a high demand channel and create promotions dedicated to this channels to grab instant attention of your guests.

Smart Pay

The days of carrying your wallet and paying through cash are gone. Paying in mobile sites or within the apps has become easier with Apple Pay- with a single touch. With iPhone, Apple Watch or iPad travelers can pay with breakthrough contactless payment technology within a unique secure gateway. With 62% smartphone users using mobile device for their travel planning, travel biggies are warming up to online wallets to this segment.


Utilize geo-location data

According to Google, geo-location data is going to be the key differentiator between mobile and desktop web. Providing information relevant to your guest’s location will help you to reach out to them more appeal which will lead to higher conversion.


2015 is likely to be year of mobile in travel industry and that is the reason major travel players have come to consolidate in the mobile sector and combine services for a cohesive planning and booking experience. 

How Google Search Works

Google, the search engine giant searches more than 40,000 pages per second or billions of web pages per day. Search starts with the web and it is made up of over 60 trillion individual pages and the number is constantly growing.


How the search giant finds relevant results of your search query in the blink of an eye? Explore the art and science that makes it possible. Google does it in three steps – Crawling & Indexing, Algorithms & Spam Filter.

See more here How Google Works

Crawling & Indexing

Google use software known as “Web Crawlers”, it searches trillions of web pages and gathers the information and provides you the most useful results. Crawlers finds link to link, page to page and bring data about those web pages back to Google’s servers.

Algorithms

Google has spent more than one million computing hours to build their 100,000,000 gigabytes index which finds billions of queries in a fraction of second. This search query is based on an algorithm- a complex computer program and formulas which brings the answers to your search query.


Fighting Spam

Spam sites use various techniques such as repeating keywords or putting invisible links over and over to game their way to the top of search ranking. Google fight with these spam sites through a combination of computer algorithms and manual review and finds the legitimate websites of your search query.

See full story here How Google Works

Amazon’s entry to online travel – is that disruption?

As if the entries of Google and TripAdvisor were not enough disruption, we now have Amazon which is entering into hotel distribution. So while buying your books and what nots, you can now go and buy a hotel room from the retail GIANT!
Amazon Local currency has already been selling some limited and wholesaler type hotel programs for a while now. But that was more of a distressed sale kind of an approach they were taking. With the new model, Amazon is asking hotels to publish their rates and availability for a longer period. For hotels, this means hotels can push full price inventories in the peak season, and of course offer discounts when they are desperate.
Does that mean Amazon is now seriously entering into travel services a la Google?  Travel analysts apparently think so.  Expedia CEO has already ‘welcomed Amazon into the party’.
Truth is, as Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says, travel today is a trillion dollar global industry. And everyone wants to take a share of the pie. That is why we are seeing TripAdvisor making serious entry to commission based model through TripConnect Instant booking. Wait for Google to make the next move.
Are these changes going to make it more complicated for hoteliers? In my opinion, Amazon, with its marketing capabilities, can become a serious alternative for independent and small hotels. What about TripConnect and Google Direct booking, when they are launched globally?

But as always, your success depends on how well you manage your booking channels. 

Newshound: Trends and Reports – Hotel Online Distribution


The new Google travel ecosystem… from the user point of view

Back in July 2010, when Google said it was splashing out $700 million on air search and shopping tech provider ITA Software, officials  put together a handy diagram. The online travel ecosystem, as it was called, outlined where Google’s latest acquisition sat in the world of travel distribution and was produced in part to demonstrate to US regulators that despite it suddenly making a serious move on the world of travel, other providers remained and were apparently plentiful.
http://www.tnooz.com/2012/08/20/news/the-new-google-travel-ecosystem-from-the-user-point-of-view/#3BmMKLXOmy0dJPpK.99

Dynamics Shifting in OTA-Hotelier Relationship as APAC Hotel Market Matures

The ongoing battle between hoteliers and third party intermediaries over control of inventory and the customer is set to become more complex as a massive influx of supply and changes in consumer behaviour converge to transform the hotel landscape in Asia Pacific. In other words, expect to see power shifts between OTAs, in particular, and hotels as the former moves in to ride on the boom and consolidate their hold while global hotel brands crank up their inventory in the region.
http://www.webintravel.com/news/dynamics-shifting-in-otahotelier-relationship-as-apac-hotel-market-matures_3349

Pricing strategies and understanding the value conscious and social consumer

New research SAS’ Hospitality and Travel Global Practice shows that a low price will not overcome the impact of a negative review. Consumers will look at the review sentiment first, eliminating any choice with negative UGC, and then move on to evaluate price and other attributes. This is not to say that a low price is not attractive, but rather, that consumers are value conscious, rather than simply price conscious, and they will look at the whole package. User-generated content, in the form of ratings and reviews, have become a key part of this value equation.
http://www.eyefortravel.com/revenue-and-data-management/pricing-strategies-and-understanding-value-conscious-and-social-consumer

OTAs drive four and five-star hotel overnights

According to a new study, rooms at four-star hotels in Europe can now increasingly be booked for the price of middle-class accommodation. The same applies for luxury hotel overnights, offered at reduced rates by OTAs. As a result bookings for four and five-star accommodation have increased and will probably continue to do so.
http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/otas_drive_four_and_five_star_hotel_overnights