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  • HITEC Special: Does EU GDPR Affect U.S. Hospitality Companies?

    By Alvaro Hidalgo. The EU General Data Protection Regulation has set a path towards protecting personal data which many other countries will follow. In a global industry such as hospitality, it should be a primary objective to take the steps towards compliance.

  • HFTP Report: Hospitality Data Security — Strategy for Data Protection and Regulation Compliance

    This guide from Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP(R)) covers safeguards that can be implemented in hospitality businesses today, tips on how to continuously improve security and data regulation compliance.

  • HFTP GDPR Guidelines: Privacy Policies for Hotels

    This document offers points to consider in the development of a hotel’s privacy policy. In view of the multiple organisational and legal structures under which hotels operate, as well as the complexity of the third party landscape that may be part of the complete guest experience, this document serves as a guideline only.

  • HFTP GDPR Guidelines: Hospitality Guest Registration Cards

    This document offers recommendations for guest information collection on the guest registration card along with consent for use. It can be used as a guideline for loyalty cards, health data, export of data outside of the EU, privacy policies and direct marketing.

Insider Perspectives: Joan Evelyn Lee, Vice President of Operations at Travel Tripper

Travel Tripper Blog· 3 October 2018
Welcome to “Insider Perspectives”, a new series in which we interview travel industry insiders and veterans to hear their insights and stories, drawing upon their unique and impressive backgrounds.

How to Entice Corporate and Bleisure Travelers to Book with Your Hotel

Travel Tripper Blog· 2 October 2018
Bleisure travel has seen a huge increase in the past two years. According to Expedia’s recent report titled Unpacking Bleisure Traveller Trends, there’s been nearly a 40% rise in bleisure trips since 2016.

What hotels need to know about TripAdvisor's latest updates

Travel Tripper Blog·27 September 2018
The influence of TripAdvisor shows no sign of slowing. According to TripAdvisor’s recent research, the company was responsible for over 10% of global tourism spending in 2017, which equates to a huge $546 billion. Over the past decade, the influence of TripAdvisor sites has also outpaced growth in overall travel and tourism.

How Artificial Intelligence Is Revolutionizing the Travel Industry

Travel Tripper ·27 September 2018
Thanks to AI, reaching our destination is becoming easier too. This year, Google Flights started predicting delays and announcing them before the airlines.How far might things go? In the following article, we'll look at how travel brands are using the latest artificial intelligence to learn more about their customers, influence their decision-making, and drive more bookings.1. Trip planning and researchAccording to a survey by Booking.com, nearly one third of travelers would be comfortable letting a computer plan their next trip based on information from their travel history. Using AI, travel brands are now able to create tailored recommendations based around a host of unique preferences.Earlier this year, TUI Group and AI-powered trip-planning service Utrip teamed up to create a personalized trip planning service. This sophisticated online tool asks travelers to rate their preferences across categories, including "Nature & Adventure," "Food & Drink," "Shopping," and "Relaxation." Additional filters such as "Traveling With," "Trip Style," and "Trip Purpose" help to refine things further.Utrip's artificial intelligence algorithm then sifts through millions of potential combinations and serves up a personalized day-by-day itinerary for the entire trip.Along with a helpful itinerary map, travelers can add more activities to personalize their trip.Personality Hotels (a collection of boutique hotels in San Francisco and the Bay Area) also use Utrip to offer their own itinerary-planning service. The interface is different but the premise is the same.It's easy to see how families or business travelers with limited time might find this tool especially appealing. Not only does it eliminate the need for meticulous research, it seeks out appealing activities and experiences that might otherwise be overlooked.For travel brands, AI-powered trip planning offers the ultimate way to inspire customers and keep them engaged on their website for longer, increasing the success rate of converting visitors.2. Hotel bookingsBooking friction is a major issue for hotels. A recent report on European booking trendsfound that abandonment rates are soaring: only one in twenty would-be hotel bookers end up making a reservation.Hospitality virtual assistants such as Hijiffy can help with this. Guests can ask Hijiffy questions, find out about hotel services, receive city tips, check the latest rates, and book a room--all of which happens through a hotel's Facebook Messenger.If Hijiffy can't answer a question, it transfers the guest to a member of the hotel staff. Hijiffy can also learn from each interaction, so it knows how to respond next time without requiring human involvement.By automatizing queries in this way, hotels can provide instant customer support on a platform their customers are already familiar with. In turn, this can help increase conversion rates, and relieve the burden on hectic front desks.3. In-room assistantsChatbots and AI-powered voice assistants are also moving into hotel rooms around the world. Increasingly sophisticated, they're able to enhance the on-property experience by answering guest questions, carrying out requests, and offering real-time recommendations.Edwardian Hotels has its own virtual concierge known as "Edward," and the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas has "Rose," a chatbot with a quirky and flirty personality. In addition, Amazon and IBM have recently launched their own hospitality-specific assistants, both of which have the potential to revolutionize the guest experience.IBM's Watson Assistant for Hospitality may prove particularly attractive as the hotel retains the guest data (unlike with Amazon Alexa). IBM's product can also be white-labeled, so a hotel can use the technology to power their own uniquely named chatbot.In a 3-minute promotional video that feels like the stuff of science fiction, Watson demonstrates its ability to anticipate a guest's needs and make recommendations based on contextual information and past-stay data."I see your flight was late arriving, would you like me to order you room service?" Watson inquires after welcoming a guest by name. It then asks if the guest wants their "usual order," or some suggestions from the menu.Later, Watson checks the guest's calendar and arranges transport for a scheduled business meeting, sets the alarm for their usual morning gym session, and informs them about the hotel's breakfast start time.As well as personalizing the guest experience, voice assistants such as Watson present opportunities for upselling in two important ways: tailored recommendations can alert guests to hotel services they'll most likely want, and transactions become friction-free when they're completed with a simple voice request.4. Electronic braceletsA few years ago, Disney introduced the Disney MagicBand to allow wearers to skip lines at the parks, make purchases for food and souvenirs, and enjoy keyless entry to their Disney Resort hotel room.Using similar technology, Melia Hotels has introduced its own electronic bracelets that let guests easily pay for hotel services. This isn't the first time hotels have introduced wearables for payment, but Melia's wristband can also be used to make payments at nearby participating merchants, including the local Starbucks and Mango fashion store.The convenience of this cashless payment system is an obvious guest perk. But arguably, the greatest benefit to Melia Hotels is that their wearables let them track guest purchases, including spa treatments and restaurant choices. This allows them to build profiles on spending habits to inform future marketing and offers.In the future, it's likely that hotels will be able to use wearables to monitor a host of other spending habits and behaviors. If a guest picks the same wine with their evening meal, orders room service at a specific time, or pays extra for late checkout, a hotel could use this data to create tailored pre-stay packages, or send timely promotional messages during the hotel stay.5. Reputation ManagementThe utility of AI isn't just limited to driving conversions and personalizing experiences. The latest technology can also be used to power online listening tools that monitor social media comments and guest reviews--a task that would be hugely time-consuming if done manually.A range of free tracking tools can monitor guest reviews and notify a hotel when they're mentioned online. This means a property can quickly respond to negative feedback, observe general trends in guest sentiment, and identify areas where service levels can be improved.Premium paid-for tools such as Sprout Social and Reputation.com include detailed reports and analytics, and cast the net wider to monitor blogs, social media, videos, images, review sites, and more. This big data analysis lets a hotel really understand what its audience is thinking, which can also be invaluable to boost the effectiveness of social engagement and marketing.Where will AI take us next?Artificial intelligence now influences the entire travel ecosphere. Chatbots are assisting travel bookers as they shop for flights and accommodation. Trip-planning platforms are able to tailor itineraries in seconds. And in-room assistants are learning about guest behavior and personalizing their experience.While these examples all represent the sexier side of AI, the technology can also help hotels make operational improvements, such as analyzing booking trends to optimizing room rates, and freeing up staff to focus more on face-to-face services.In our AI-driven future, astute hoteliers will have a wealth of technology at their disposal. The key to success will be about using it wisely, and ensuring that it complements rather than replaces the personal side of hospitality.

How 5 Hotels Compete with OTAs by Showcasing Unique Local Experiences

Travel Tripper Blog·26 September 2018
Today’s travelers are no longer content with merely visiting a destination and have the same experience as everyone else. They increasingly yearn for something unique and want to explore the places they visit through a local perspective.

How hotels can take advantage of Instagram business profiles

Travel Tripper ·24 September 2018
The meteoric rise of Instagram continues. Just recently, it reached an incredible one billion monthly active users for the first time in its history--up from 800 million back in September 2017. In comparison, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat all announced slowing or declining growth.The influence of Instagram in the travel space is also gaining momentum. Celebrity Instagrammers with legions of followers hold huge sway over the places that people choose to travel, and 40% of millennials admit that they consider "Instagrammability" as a crucial factor when they choose a travel destination.To maximize the potential success of Instagram marketing, you need to switch your hotel's Instagram account into a business profile. In the following post, we'll explain how to do that, why it's important, and describe how your hotel can take advantage of some of Instagram's exciting new business profiles features.Why do I need an Instagram business profile?Having a business profile can lead to a lot of attention and direct traffic. According to Instagram, over 200 million of its users visit at least one business profile a day, and 75% take action after visiting a post (such as visiting a brand's website). In addition, one third of the most-viewed stories are from businesses.Still, some brands remain hesitant about making the swap from their personal profile, concerned that it might lead to a drop in engagement. The truth is that there are plenty of reasons to make the switch. But before diving into the benefits, here's a quick guide on setting up a business profile.How do I set up an business profile?Switching to an Instagram business profile involves a few quick steps. First, log in to your Instagram account, go to settings, and tap "Switch to Business Profile."Next, tap "Continue", and then connect to Facebook within the app. You need Admin access to the Facebook page you want to connect to. Then add your business contact information, including your email address, phone number, or address (note: you need to pick at least one of these).Tap done and your business profile is live. Check out Instagram's video for a visual walkthrough of this process.What are the benefits of an Instagram business profile?The benefits of having a business profile include improving your visibility, marketing your hotel to a wider audience, and driving sales. If you're still not convinced a business profile is right for your hotel, here are five of the biggest benefits to consider.1. Instagram InsightsIf your hotel only has a personal account, it's harder to see how people are interacting with your business. Your options are to either use a third-party analytics tool, or manually look through all your comments and likes. Both of which take up time.When you have a business account, one of the biggest benefits is having access to Instagram Insights. This feature lets you see a host of real-time metrics on how well your posts and stories are performing, including weekly impressions, reach, profile visits, clicks to your website, and demographics split into age and gender.You can look at the data for multiple posts, the metrics for individual posts, and get insights into your Instagram Stories. All of this means you can see exactly which posts and stories are driving the most engagement, which can then be used to help refine your marketing efforts.The following HubSpot guide offers a great in-depth overview of the various features available within this feature.2. Add contact detailsYour Instagram followers don't want to hunt around for your contact details. With a business profile, they don't have to. During the setup process, Instagram asks you to add your business email, physical address, or phone number. Once you're done, a contact button appears near the top of your profile.This simple but important addition reduces the odds of losing a potential customer. In just one click, they can see all of your contact details and easily get in touch rather than having to search elsewhere online.3. Instagram AdsInstagram Ads work the same as Facebook Ads to help brands get the most out of their best-performing posts. You can define your target audience, ad format, campaign objectives, and set a time when you want your ad to run, all within your own set budget. The insights tool can then be used to see how well your ads are performing.At the start of this year, business accounts were also given the ability to create scheduled posts thanks to an update to the Instagram API. Previously, you had to set a push notification to remind you to publish your content, which was a pretty inefficient way of doing things.The schedule tool isn't available directly inside Instagram, but works by connecting with third-party platforms, such as Buffer, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social. Needless to say, it's a major step forward. Now, businesses can schedule a batch of posts all in one go. This way of working not only saves time, but helps to maintain a consistent feel to your content.4. Add swipe up links to Instagram StoriesThe popularity of Instagram Stories has exploded over the past year. Brands are using it to increase engagement with attention-grabbing photos and video, and the recent option to add music with a new music sticker.One of the great features of a business profile is that you can add a swipe up link to your stories (although you need at least 10,000 followers to do this). When you do this, a "See More" arrow appears at the bottom of the page. When users tap "See More" or swipe up, they leave the app and get sent to a page of your choosing. Usually, this would be a specific page on your hotel website that's related to the content of your story.In the example below, you can see how The Williamsburg Hotel used the swipe up tool to get users to register for a class at its test kitchen and bakery, Brooklyn Bread Lab.For hotel marketers, the swipe up link makes life easier for your audience to interact with your brand, and drives more direct traffic to your owned channels. The following article offers a series of creative ways you can use the swipe-up tool to increase engagement with your own audience.5. Direct connection to your Facebook pageCross-promoting content across multiple platforms is a great way to boost the exposure of your posts. With an Instagram Business Profile, you can link your Instagram account to a Facebook Page, which means that Admins, Editors, and other Page roles have equal permissions on the associated Instagram account.You can then share your Instagram photos on your Facebook business page to reach new audiences and reinforce your brand messaging. The benefits of doing this can be substantial: a BuzzSumo study of over one billion Facebook posts found that posting images to Facebook via Instagram received a 23% increase in engagement.By cross-promoting content in this way, you'll also save yourself the hassle of having to create separate content for Facebook, and actively drive additional traffic back to your Instagram account to grow your audience.Claim your Instagram Business ProfileInstagram is increasingly become the go-to social platform for marketers. Brands on the platform receive four times more engagement than they do on Facebook, and Instagram's new booking feature means it now has the ability to turn attention into direct business.With a native analytics tool, ad platform, and the ability to add contact details and schedule posts, switching to a business account can help you capitalize on this booming audience to promote your hotel and potentially drive more bookings.

How to attract and cater to international travelers

Travel Tripper Blog·21 September 2018
The number of tourists heading overseas on vacation continues to grow quickly. In 2017, international tourist arrivals rose by 7% and surpassed 1.3 billion.

How hotels can market to foodies through their websites and social media

Travel Tripper Blog·19 September 2018
Marketing to foodies is a big business for hotels. According to The World Food Travel Association, 93% of travelers say that food and drink are a primary motivator for their trips. Hotel guests are also spending more on food and beverage (F&B) each year. Recent figures reveal that F&B spending has seen 5.5 percent annual growth since 2011.

Insider Perspectives: Nate Lane, Senior Director of Digital Platforms at Travel Tripper

Travel Tripper Blog·17 September 2018
One of the best things about the travel industry is that it’s full of smart and creative people from diverse backgrounds. These are folks that followed their passion into the industry, but also cultivate interesting hobbies or side projects outside of their jobs.

Beat the OTAs: use your hotel website to tell a unique brand story

Travel Tripper Blog·14 September 2018
Competing with OTAs for direct bookings continues to represent an uphill challenge for hotels. The likes of Expedia and Booking.com have become masters at conversion, investing millions to whisk shoppers from browsing to booking in the minimum amount of steps.

Directly Speaking with Travel Tripper, Ep 5 -- Why "Hotel Websites" is an Outdated Concept

Travel Tripper Blog· 4 September 2018
Hoteliers often spend thousands of dollars building beautiful and stunning websites in the hope to attract more visitors and drive more bookings. However, these hotel websites often turn out to be digital brochures that are so disconnected from the hotel’s booking engine that they cause inconveniences for hotel revenue managers and marketers and fail to deliver satisfying results.

Are Travelers Falling out of Love With Airbnb?

Travel Tripper ·27 August 2018
The promise came to fruition. Today, an innovative breed of startups are giving consumers more choice, control, and convenience than ever before -- nowhere more so, than in the travel industry.Yet there are signs that sharing economy accommodations are losing appeal. Since launching a decade ago, Airbnb has become the undisputed poster child of an alternative form of travel. Its rise to fortune has been nothing short of breathtaking, with a valuation of $31 billion in May 2017.However, the world's second largest startup (after Uber) is not having things all its own way. There are signs that the sharing economy bubble might have burst, and that Airbnb's growth is stuttering amid a shift in travel preferences.While far from a crisis, Airbnb's unrelenting success appears to be slowing, giving hotels a chance to win back some valuable ground.A series of unfortunate eventsAirbnb has suffered a series of setbacks in recent times, leading commentators to speculate on whether the company needs to go back to basics. Most recently, its New York bookings risk getting slashed by half as the New York City Council voted for the company to hand over the names and addresses of its hosts in the city in order to crack down on illegal short-term rentals.Things are more turbulent in Europe where the EU has issued Airbnb an ultimatum over a lack of price transparency. Separately, city officials across Europe are clamping down to keep Airbnb's rental prices in check and restrict short-term stays. In Japan, almost 80% of Airbnb's listings have been removed as a result of the country's new home share (or minpaku) law.In addition to the regulatory issues, Airbnb frequently seems to be in the headlines with stories of misbehaving guests and lawsuits. Just recently, Paris forced the home-sharing giant to take down tens of thousands of listings that didn't comply with local laws. Frustrated local residents in various cities have also been vocal about rising rental costs and mobs of tourists due to Airbnb's presence.With citywide crackdowns, regulation battles, and lots of PR plate spinning, this industry heavyweight has been left slightly bloodied and bruised. Arguably, it might be just a case of riding the waves. Yet beyond the headlines and disputes, there are signs of something a little more troubling.Growth seems to be slowingRelatively speaking, Airbnb continues to see impressive growth. But a new report by Morgan Stanley (as covered by Skift), reveals how overall adoption is slowing.In a survey of over 4,000 adults, the amount of travelers using the platform during the 12 months up to October 2017 rose by 25%, which is an increase of 330 basis points. By contrast, last year's survey saw an increase of 800 basis points.Morgan Stanley found that brand awareness of Airbnb has never been so high. Yet that hasn't translated into more beds being filled. So what might be going on?Morgan Stanley's analysts feel that the company might simply be too big, or that it's just become so mainstream that the same level of growth is too hard. Some cite the fact that more travelers are concerned over privacy and security. But is there something else at play?Reevaluating the hotel propositionThe story of decline might be less about Airbnb, per se, and more about a reevaluation of the benefits hotels offer. Historically, the hospitality industry has sold itself on a form of uniformity that guarantees reliability in both service and experience.Airbnb arrived on the scene as a fresh and exciting alternative to this format-- a rebuff to chain hotels and stuffy corporate values. The company's focus on localness and experience-based travel led it to great success, especially among younger generations seeking a deeper connection to the destinations they visited.Yet according to two recent surveys, overall interest seems to be waning. In MMGY Global's recent Portrait of American Travelers (POAT) survey, 33% of respondents said that they are interested in using shared economy accommodations this year, compared with 41% last year.There's also an indication that travelers are warming once more to the hotel proposition -- even Millennials, Airbnb's largest audience. In a report by Allianz Global Assistance, 33% of this demographic said they believed traditional services provide the best overall experience, which is up from 22% in 2017. A significant 38% of Millennials also said traditional services provide better customer support when things go wrong.In a written statement, Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz Global Assistance noted, "This is the first time we've seen intent to use sharing economy services decline, particularly among Millennials, which is surprising as they led its early adoption."So why the change in attitudes? It may well all be the consequence of a maturing demographic whose life circumstances are dictating new priorities. As many become parents or seek greater comforts, the traditional services and amenities that a hotel provides has undoubted benefits.Is the love affair really over?Slowdown in brand adoption is, of course, inevitable. Growth cannot be exponential, and the world's biggest companies all face tough times. Competitors up their games. Consumer preferences change. The love of a brand begins to wane. This is the nature of the marketplace.So what we might be seeing with Airbnb is an inevitable consequence of consumer behavior, magnified by its own impossibly fast success. Yet it's important to remember that the company is hardly floundering. The love affair might be on the rocks, but it certainly isn't over.Airbnb is enjoying substantial growth in competitive markets. According to its own data, a 90-day cap on its London listings hasn't stopped the company reaching close to 20,000 rentals a week in the UK capital; that's up from 1,000 listings as of just 2013.In addition, it's worth pointing out that Airbnb might be worth more than any other hotel company, rivaling that of the world's largest OTAs.As we discussed in a recent post, a raft of improvements including major product changes may also help it win new audiences and reignite interest among its loyal base of customers.Good news for hotels?On the whole, it might be argued that a decrease in growth and stay intent is good for hotels. But there are some who don't see Airbnb as a direct competitor. More than that, they feel it could be an ally.Recently, Airbnb began welcoming boutique hotels onto its platform -- (something that HomeAway has also started doing), charging commission fees between just 3-5%. This could prove a profitable alternative for hotels compared with distributing through OTAS, where commission fees range between 15-30%. If enough hotels make the move, this could force OTAs to bring down their commission fees to remain competitive.In the end, Airbnb may actually become a bigger rival to OTAs as it expands its platform towards becoming an end-to-end travel company.Where are things heading next?Airbnb has enjoyed incredible success since launching a decade ago. It has become synonymous with a more authentic, local style of travel, while promoting the idea of new experiences over reliable comforts. Loyal customers have bought into its ethos and the rest is history.But a new chapter may be about to be written -- one where the untouchable industry giant sees expansion slow as travelers revert back to traditional hospitality offerings.Airbnb most certainly has the resources to pivot, but hotels will always be able to offer their own unique mix of appealing qualities, including luxury on-site amenities, and around-the-clock service. Given the changing sentiments among travelers, now's the time for hotels to capitalize on their value proposition.

Consumers want Amazon to be a travel booking site - what can hotels learn?

Travel Tripper ·27 August 2018
Amazon dominates the world of e-commerce. Could it do the same in online travel bookings? Consumers would happily use the platform to book their travel plans if given the chance, according to a recent survey by flight travel intelligence company OAG.OAG surveyed 2,164 U.S. travelers to find out which platforms and methods they would be comfortable booking travel through. Amazon was the clear winner, with 44% of respondents saying they would consider using the e-commerce giant to book travel if it offered the service.This result is particularly impressive considering that the second most favored option was Facebook, which only received 14% of the vote. Pinterest (2%), Twitter (3%), and Instagram (4%) all lagged way behind, gaining minimal interest.Why was Amazon considered so much more appealing as a travel booking platform? In the following post, we'll address that point while analyzing some of the specific lessons hotels can learn from Amazon's way of doing business.The mass appeal of AmazonWhile social platforms are heavily used for trip planning and inspiration, the OAG survey indicates that travelers are far less keen to use them as booking platforms. Arguably, concerns over data security are an issue. In light of Facebook's data-harvesting scandal, it's fair to assume that consumers would have concerns about handing over their credit card details.In contrast, millions of consumers see Amazon as a place to buy with confidence. In fact, a new survey by NPR/Marist found a huge 67% of US online shoppers had "quite a lot" or "a great deal" of trust in Amazon to protect their privacy and personal information. This figure was significantly higher compared with the level of trust towards online retailers in general.Alongside its rock-steady credibility, Amazon makes shopping easy and gives customers unrivaled levels of choice and convenience. These qualities readily translate to the travel booking sphere, so perhaps it's no coincidence that Amazon was seen as an appealing alternate provider in this space.All of this leads to an important question: what specific strategies underpin Amazon's success, and what can hotels learn from its customer service and core e-commerce principles?1. Personalized shoppingAmazon has mastered the ability to anticipate customer needs and personalize the shopping experience. The company's recommendation system now runs on a totally new machine-learning infrastructure that allows it to learn the unique preferences of each customer with even greater precision.Based on customer data such as previous browsing history and spending habits, Amazon integrates tailored content into virtually every aspect of its purchase process. Recommendations are neatly bundled into lists, including "Inspired by your browsing history", "Related to items you viewed", and "Frequently bought together".These bundled suggestions encourage additional purchases, serving as an easy-to-digest shopping list among Amazon's vast product range. This helps to simplify and speed up the shopping process, ultimately leading to more conversions.Takeaway for hotels:Most hotels feature the same content on their website to all of their visitors. This means that every potential guest gets an identical experience, regardless of their unique needs and preferences. Yet without the need for huge investment, hotels can personalize their own websites to offer a tailored user experience.Website personalization technology allows hotels to intelligently customize their website messaging based on criteria such as a user's previous online interactions, buying intent, and stage in the booking journey. With context-aware integrations, visitors are more likely to convert because the online experience is no longer rigid but designed around them.Just like Amazon, hotels can also smooth the path to purchase by minimizing choice to make the decision-making process easier. For instance, rather than showing all available rooms, rates and added extras in one page, these options can be staggered across separate pages on the hotel website to prevent customers feeling overwhelmed.2. Buying made simpleAmazon make shopping fast and frictionless. Consumers can easily find the products they love, and buy them with minimal fuss. This is underpinned by the company's friction-killing tactics that are designed to reduce cognitive overload and increase conversion rates.These tactics include removing avoidable steps between browsing and buying, pre-selecting options to help consumers with choices, and allowing customers to carry on where they left off during a previous session.Amazon's 1-click purchase system also helps to reduce the odds of shopping cart abandonment by allowing customers to buy with just one click. This instant purchasing removes the hassle of entering billing details, thus eliminating another potential barrier in the buying process.Takeaway for hotels:Hotels need to make the checkout process fast and simple. Think about things from the perspective of your guest: if they're used to 1-click purchasing from companies such as Amazon, they'll likely balk at having to fill out long-winded booking forms. Keep the amount of information you ask for to a minimum.In addition, try to reduce the amount of pages and clicks needed to go from browsing to booking. Unnecessary extra steps represent an invitation to abandon a purchase. It's also worth setting the most popular room/rate options as the default to simplify the booking process.3. Exceptional customer serviceAmazon prides itself on offering exceptional customer service. In fact, it's embedded in the company culture--not just as a method to solve problems, but to anticipate customer needs and evolve its range of services.In a 2016 letter to Amazon shareholders, the company's founder and CEO Jeff Bezos talked about having a "customer-obsessed culture" and that happy customers are "always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied".This desire to constantly improve the customer experience is integral to the way Amazon innovates, leading to new services such as Amazon Prime, their unlimited One-Day Delivery option, Amazon Fresh, and the Dash ordering button--all of which ensure that customers get the products they want with convenience and speed.Amazon's customer service team also has a track record of going beyond the call of duty to surprise and delight. In an interview last year, Amazon's former long-time executive Jeff Holden explained how one Christmas, a customer traveling to Russia contacted Amazon's customer service team "worried sick" her presents weren't going to arrive there on time.As Holden recalls, "We spent probably $500 or $600 to overnight her $1,000 worth of gifts, and she was so completely blown away that she couldn't stop saying,'Oh my god, you saved my Christmas!'"Takeaway for hotels:Great customer service doesn't require endless financial resources. One of the most important things hotels can focus on is having better communication with guests. Contact guests with pre-arrival emails or questionnaires to find out the reason for their stay, and discover if they have any specific requirements.Simple things such as remembering a guest by name, periodically checking they're happy during their stay, and responding to complaints with an effective service recovery policy can all help your hotel maintain brand credibility, build rapport and earn their repeat business.4. Social proof is crucialSocial proof is baked into the Amazon shopping experience. Every product is accompanied by prominent customer reviews and star ratings so consumers are given the confidence to buy without needing to validate their decision elsewhere online.Amazon also uses the highly effective "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" call to action to incentivize additional purchases. This messaging is based on something called market basket analysis (MBA), which analyzes relationships between the combinations of products people buy in a transaction.This serves to prompt additional purchases based on the actions of like-minded others--yet another great conversion-driving tactic.Takeaway for hotels:Amazon's relentless focus on social proof is one that all hotels can adopt. And there are no end of ways to use social proof on your hotel website.Feature guest reviews throughout your website to add booking confidence. Include testimonials, review site widgets, and star ratings to add additional validation from past guests. If your hotel is working with influencers, you could also feature their content on your hotel website to raise your profile as visitors move closer to a booking decision.5. Endless testingTest, test, and test again. Amazon carries out thousands of usability experiments on its website each year through its "Weblab" experimentation system. Even though it has an incredibly refined user experience, the company understands that standing still is not an option.This dedication has led Amazon to make some invaluable changes. For instance, it increased its annual profits by tens of millions of dollars after moving credit card offers from its home page to its shopping cart page. The Amazon mindset is that there is always room to refine and improve, and it's this granular approach that helps it stay ahead in a hyper-competitive online shopping space.Takeaway for hotels:While you might not have the resources to test every element of your hotel's website, you can make major improvements by focusing on the elements likely to drive the most conversions.Start by checking out your Google Analytics reports (particularly the User Flow analysis) to see which pages have the highest bounce rates. Next, run A/B tests on different variations of a given page to see which changes lead to improvements. This might involve simplifying the design by adding a progress bar, testing different images, or adding a more prominent call-to-action button.The point is to keep making incremental changes until you've found the conversion sweet spot.Amazon as a travel player?Amazon has been here before. Back in 2015, it launched, and then swiftly shut down, its travel booking site, Amazon Destinations! It also decided to stop selling hotel rooms through the now defunct Amazon Local. While there are no obvious signs it wants to reignite its interest in travel bookings, it would be foolish to imagine it might not try again.Amazon's popularity in the OAG survey is perhaps most useful as a guide to other travel brands -- a hint at the kind of experience consumers want when they book trips and accommodation. By working with the right technology partner, your hotel can use the latest techniques and tools to create a website based on some of Amazon's key principles, helping you to inspire your guests, anticipate their needs, and provide a great online experience that makes it easy for them to browse and buy.

Consumers want Amazon to be a travel booking site - what can hotels learn?

Travel Tripper Blog·21 August 2018
Amazon dominates the world of e-commerce. Could it do the same in online travel bookings? Consumers would happily use the platform to book their travel plans if given the chance, according to a recent survey by flight travel intelligence company OAG.

How Google's latest experiments with metasearch could impact hotels

Travel Tripper Blog·15 August 2018
Just a few weeks ago, Google began testing a new hotel pricing and availability graph. This new feature shows average pricing for hotels when users carry out a branded hotel search on Google via desktop.

Latest trends in the fast changing world of revenue management

Travel Tripper Blog·14 August 2018
In June, Travel Tripper, IDeaS, and OTA Insight joined forces to host roundtable discussions on current trends in the fast changing world of revenue management.

5 creative multimedia marketing campaigns to inspire your hotel (2018 edition)

Travel Tripper Blog·14 August 2018
Hotel marketers have to work hard for attention these days. Travelers are constantly bombarded with marketing messages from independent properties to global chains, and the industry is overflowed with competition and noise.
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Travel Tripper launches Real-Time Ads for hotels, an industry-first marketing solution

Travel Tripper · 7 August 2018
NEW YORK -- Travel Tripper, the industry's most innovative provider of hotel reservation and e-commerce solutions, today announced the official launch of Real-Time Ads for the hospitality industry. This award-winning digital marketing solution helps hotels to boost conversion rates and increase return on ad spend (ROAS) by dynamically updating hotel's Google search ads with real-time booking engine data, such as rates, availability, and number of recent bookings.Travel Tripper's Real-Time Ads solves a problem that plagues many hotels: spending a significant amount of the digital marketing budget to drive traffic to the hotel website, but not seeing strong conversions to bookings. In many cases, travelers from hotel search ads will click over to the website to check rates or availability, but then abandon the booking if the price is too high or a specific room or deal is no longer available. In essence, hotels pay for ad clicks for a large percentage of people who were never going to book in the first place.With Real-Time Ads, hotels can now populate their Google search ads with dynamic variables from the CRS and booking engine, such as the nightly room rate, number of rooms available, and occupancy rate. As a result, hotels can dynamically populate search ads in real time with info that helps to pre-qualify website visitors and identify those most likely to book, ultimately increasing conversion rates and driving down customer acquisition costs."Real-Time Ads represent a major departure from traditional search ads and a huge step forward in hotel digital marketing," says Ben Hanley, Director of Digital Marketing at Travel Tripper. "The majority of hotel websites can only display rates and availability in the booking engine, or at best, somewhere on the hotel website. In contrast, Real-Time Ads allows hotels to advertise their up-to-date rates within the search engine, which helps them to better connect with potential guests earlier in the booking funnel."Since its initial beta launch, Travel Tripper's Real-Time Ads have delivered outstanding results for notable properties such as ROW NYC and The Quin in New York City. In a recently published case study by Google, ROW NYC reported a 68% increase in conversion rate and 28:1 return on ad spend when comparing real-time ads to static ads.Travel Tripper's real-time ads campaign with ROW NYC has also earned multiple digital marketing awards and nominations, including the Adrian Awards, W3 Awards, and Search Engine Land Awards.All hotels working with Travel Tripper will now be able to integrate Real-Time Ads into their search marketing campaigns. Complete with RezTrip CRS and TT Web hotel websites, Real-Time Ads will transform the way hotels drive direct bookings. For more information or to request a demo, visit traveltripper.com.
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How to do a health check on your hotel website using the server log file

Travel Tripper Blog· 6 August 2018
Ensuring that your hotel website has a good technical SEO setup is crucial for the success of your SEO strategy. Otherwise you may jeopardize your site's search ranking if the backend isn't set up properly. Conducting a server log file analysis can help ensure that your site is indexable-meaning that search engines can correctly detect the content on your site-and it also allows you to detect other potential issues.
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Are travelers falling out of love with Airbnb?

Travel Tripper Blog· 1 August 2018
The sharing economy came with the promise of revolutionizing the way we purchase goods and services, creating a frictionless world where buyers are connected to sellers, thereby cutting out the middleman and bringing down costs to consumers.
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How hotels can attract Chinese travelers

Travel Tripper Blog·30 July 2018
The boom in overseas Chinese travel continues. According to the latest figures, Chinese travelers made 145 million overseas trips in 2017. This is expected to rise to 400 million by 2030. If that level of growth isn't striking enough, a mere 7% of Chinese citizens own a passport. Clearly, there are enormous opportunities for travel brands to tap into this ever-expanding market.
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The State of Travel Personalization in 2018

Travel Tripper Blog·20 July 2018
Personalization has frequently been described in travel as the new loyalty. When a hotel tailors its service to individual needs and preferences, guests receive an enhanced experience and are more likely to rebook. But there remains a gap between the level of personalization consumers want, and what they're actually receiving.
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[INFOGRAPHIC] How the Digital Travel Industry Took Off

Travel Tripper Blog·18 July 2018
The travel industry has come a long way since the invention of the first automated booking system in 1946. Do you know which major events and milestones changed the game and propelled the industry to move forward?
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Are hotel reward and benefit platforms worth investing in?

Travel Tripper Blog·12 July 2018
The sheer scale of the hotel industry means that hotels are in a constant battle for attention. In this increasingly competitive online booking space, they’re often forced to drive down room rates to incentivize bookings.
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Directly Speaking with Travel Tripper, Ep 4 - Google Metasearch

Travel Tripper Blog· 6 July 2018
As hotel marketers, you may know metasearch from sites like Kayak and Trivago, but one of the biggest metasearch engines in the world is actually Google. In our latest vlog, we take you on a quick primer about Google metasearch (not to be confused with 'meat search'!), how hotels can advertise on it, and why it's an important part of your digital marketing strategy.
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The Top 10 Hotels on Instagram, 2018 Edition

Travel Tripper Blog·29 June 2018
Instagram’s huge influence on consumer decision-making continues to grow. With 800 million monthly active users, it’s become an undeniably powerful platform for marketers, especially with the recent addition of its all new booking feature. As well as building awareness and inspiring travelers, independent hotels and global chains can now use the platform to drive direct bookings. We have updated our list of top 10 hotels on Instagram to highlight some of the most popular and creative accounts on the platform today. The following hotels are all going the extra mile to get the most marketing power out of this hugely influential social platform.

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