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  • New Global Directors Join the 2018-2019 HFTP Board

    The HFTP 2018-2019 Global Board of Directors was installed during the association's 2018 Annual Convention and introduces new directors Toni Bau, Carson Booth, CHTP and Mark Fancourt. These extensive director profiles give insight into the distinguished professions and personal goals of HFTP's newest association leaders.

  • 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.

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Travel Tripper Named #1 CRS and Top-Rated Booking Engine and Digital Agency by Hotel Tech Report

Travel Tripper ·10h
(NEW YORK)-- Travel Tripper, the industry's leading provider of hotel booking and marketing solutions, this week received four awards from Hotel Tech Report, the top source for online ratings and reviews on hotel technology. The 2019 HotelTechAwards, known as the "Oscars of Hotel Tech," honored Travel Tripper with the following:#1 Central Reservation System for RezTrip CRSTop Rated Booking Engine Finalist for RezTrip Booking EngineTop Rated Digital Marketing Agency Finalist for Travel Tripper Digital AgencyGlobal People's Choice Awards, as one of the top 10 most customer-centric companies helping hoteliers grow their bottom linesThe HotelTechAwards are chosen based on honest reviews gathered from thousands of hoteliers across more than 120 countries. Hotel Tech Report uses the ratings and survey data to rank hotel technology and marketing solutions across various product categories in the areas of customer service, ease of use, ROI, and implementation.Jordan Hollander, Co-Founder of Hotel Tech Report, congratulated Travel Tripper on its multiple wins. "There is a group of companies in our industry that make great tech and there's another group that provides best-in-class service," said Hollander. "Travel Tripper is one of the few companies that excel in both arenas. Travel Tripper's clients enjoy state-of-the-art design and engineering while receiving top-notch services that feel like an extension of their own team.""We're honored and delighted to receive this recognition from our clients and peers in the industry," said Joan Evelyn Lee, VP of Operations at Travel Tripper. "Receiving awards for all of our booking and marketing solutions is especially exciting because it is a testament to the depth of our product innovations and strength in customer support."The awards come after a year of exciting innovations from RezTrip CRS & Booking Engine and the Travel Tripper Digital Agency, including the launch of Rate Match and Real Time Ads, two industry-first solutions that are changing the way hotels win direct bookings."Since day one, we have had a relentless focus on innovation and service," said Steffan Berelowitz, VP of Digital Platforms at Travel Tripper. "In 2019, we expect to delight our customers with even more groundbreaking developments and product launches. Stay tuned!"To read real customer reviews and ratings on Travel Tripper solutions and services, visit their profile on Hotel Tech Report or learn more at www.traveltripper.com.###About Hotel Tech ReportHotelTechReport (www.hoteltechreport.com) is the premiere research platform for hotel technology globally. The platform helps buyers save time identifying the best technology products to run their hotel properties by easily comparing vendors based on unbiased reviews from verified users. HotelTechReport's global community connects hoteliers spanning 120+ countries with hundreds of the world's top hotel technology suppliers with billions of dollars in market capitalization.
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Travel Tripper Releases the First ADA Monitoring Platform for Hotels

Travel Tripper · 7 January 2019
NEW YORK -- Travel Tripper, an award-winning digital agency and leader in hotel e-commerce, has released the first Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Monitoring Platform made specifically for hotels. This groundbreaking new platform offers a proactive approach to the increasing threat of ADA website lawsuits in the hotel industry, allowing hoteliers and their web service providers to address website accessibility issues and mitigate the risk of ADA compliance lawsuits.The first of its kind in the hotel industry, Travel Tripper's ADA Monitoring Platform actively audits hotel websites according to WCAG 2.1 AA-Level standards and automatically alerts property teams if a technical violation is found. Upon recognizing an ADA violation, the platform sends regular notifications to account users until the issue is fixed. These notifications can be customized, allowing users to alert additional third parties, such as web service providers."The goal is to head off ADA compliance lawsuits. With our platform, we can discover ADA issues in real-time," says John Burkhard, Web Development Manager at Travel Tripper. "It's this type of functionality that makes the Travel Tripper ADA Monitoring Platform an essential tool for hoteliers looking for efficient and effective solutions in the realm of ADA web compliance."Because many ADA website lawsuits focus not only on technical compliance related to assistive web technologies, but also the omission of ADA content as it relates to property accessibility, Travel Tripper includes content audits and content rewrites as part of the initial setup of its monitoring platform. To do so, the Travel Tripper team works with the property to create comprehensive site content about physical accessibility at the hotel as well as the legal documentation required by the ADA."Our key goal is to mitigate risk for hoteliers, and that means being proactive in every facet of ADA website compliance," says Nate Lane, Senior Director of Digital Platforms. "The fact of the matter is that technical compliance alone is not enough. Proper ADA content audits ensure there are no surprises when guests with disabilities stay at a hotel property."Although the platform was developed to catch ADA website violations before they reach the courts, due to the gray area in ADA legislation it is unlikely ADA lawsuits will stop completely, regardless of the compliance level achieved. For that reason, the Travel Tripper ADA Monitoring Platform also provides the proper documentation for hoteliers and their lawyers in the midst of an ADA lawsuit. The data available in the platform assists legal teams in providing compliance by showing awareness, action, and resolution of compliance violations, which is a typical outcome of lawsuit mitigation. For example, regular audits are time stamped and archived for future reference, while real-time compliance statuses are tracked in a linear graphical form, and development worklogs are available as compliance violations are resolved."We assist hoteliers' legal teams by giving them everything they need when responding to an ADA website compliance lawsuit," says Lane. "In our experience, detailed records and documentation of active and ongoing compliance are pieced together in hindsight and often incomplete. Our goal was to make the collection of this information fully automated and easily available."Since its launch in 2016, Travel Tripper's Digital Agency has provided ADA compliance solutions to more than 200 hotels. Today, Travel Tripper's ADA Monitoring Platform takes the digital agency's innovative mindset to a new level by expanding ADA services to any hotel in the digital space. The platform is available to any hotel or accommodation property, independent of existing web agency or web service agreements.For more information on Travel Tripper's ADA Monitoring Platform and ADA services, please check out this page and join us on January 15 at 2:00 pm EST / 11:00 am PST for our webinar, "ADA Website Compliance for Hotels," in which Nate Lane and John Burkhard will demo the Travel Tripper ADA Compliance Monitoring Platform, as well as answer any questions related to website accessibility compliance. To secure your spot, please RSVP here.
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Travel Tripper's E-Commerce Platform and Strategic Ad Campaigns Honored By HSMAI Adrian Awards For Excellence in Digital Marketing

Travel Tripper · 3 January 2019
NEW YORK -- The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) this year honored Travel Tripper with two Silver Adrian Awards for its achievements in digital marketing innovation and campaign strategy.Travel Tripper received a Silver Award in the Digital Marketing Innovation category for its Hotel E-Commerce Platform, a hotel website platform that uses buying signals and conversion-driving features to help hotels increase their direct booking contribution and raise ADR. In less than 3 years since its initial launch, Travel Tripper's Hotel E-Commerce Platform has helped more than 175 hotels drive an average increase of 75% in conversion rate and at least 50% increase in direct share.The Digital Marketing team also took home another Silver Award for strategizing and executing innovative behavioral retargeting campaigns for several independent hotels in New York and Florida. Using advanced segmentation based on web browsing behaviors, coupled with non-intrusive and personalized messaging, Travel Tripper were able to deliver date-targeted advertising impressions at an 88% lower cost over traditional display advertising campaigns, while driving up to 11:1 ROAS.Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, president and CEO of HSMAI, congratulated the winners, "The Adrian Awards celebrate travel marketing innovators whose awesome creativity and hard work are integral not only to the success of their companies, but to the continued growth of the hospitality industry as a whole."Winning entries will be viewable in the winners' gallery on the Adrian Awards website. To learn more about the innovations that garnered these awards, click here to read about Travel Tripper's Hotel E-Commerce Platform and Digital Marketing services.About HSMAIThe Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) is committed to growing business for hotels and their partners, and is the industry's leading advocate for intelligent, sustainable hotel revenue growth. The association provides hotel professionals & their partners with tools, insights, and expertise to fuel sales, inspire marketing, and optimize revenue through programs such as HSMAI ROCET, Adrian Awards, and Revenue Optimization Conference. HSMAI is an individual membership organization comprising more than 7,000 members worldwide, with 40 chapters in the Americas Region. Connect with HSMAI at www.hsmai.org.

Why And How You Should Apply The Netflix Model To Your Hotel

Travel Tripper ·14 December 2018
It's easy to forget that Netflix started out as an ambitious DVD-by-mail company that nearly went out of business. Back in 2011, Netflix was being savaged by the media and its stock price was plummeting. Today, it's the second-most valuable media company in the world and boasts 125 million subscribers.In the following post, we'll reveal what hotels can learn from the Netflix success story, including how to utilize personalization, consumer psychology, and an experimental mindset to compete with the OTAs, offer incredible customer service, and win more direct bookings.1. Netflix obsesses over making the right recommendationsNetflix knows it needs to capture attention in under 90 seconds. If members haven't found something to watch within that time, it's very likely that they'll move onto another activity. That's why Netflix has made huge investments in its AI-powered recommendation system.Using sophisticated algorithms, customers receive tailored viewing suggestions based on an array of factors, including what they watch, their past viewing habits, when they pause, rewind or fast-forward content, and their browsing and scrolling habits. However, what often gets forgotten is how this recommendation system has changed over time.Previously, recommendations were made based on a user's expressed preferences. But the shows and movies a user claimed to like the most was found to be a less than perfect way to recommend new content. In an interview with Wired, Netflix's former VP of Product Innovation Carlos Gomez-Uribe explained:"People would rate movies like Schindler's List high, as opposed to one of the silly comedies I watch, like Hot Tub Time Machine. If you give users recommendations that are all four or five-star videos, that doesn't mean that they'll actually want to watch that video on a Wednesday night after a long day at work."Netflix learned two important lessons: that preferences are largely dictated by context, and that people often report aspirational preferences that don't actually reflect their daily activity.Takeaway for hotels:Your guests' past preferences might not be a reliable way to predict their future preferences. For example, the purchases a guest made during a previous stay might have been influenced by their mood, their finances at the time, or the company they were traveling with. Have their preferences changed since? The only way to know is to ask.Leading up to a stay, send a short survey or questionnaire to ask your guests if there's anything you can do to further personalize their experience. Even if their preferences are exactly the same, the gesture alone will demonstrate your desire to make their stay as enjoyable as possible.The other lesson from Netflix is the huge value of a personalized service. If you personalize your hotel marketing and website to each user, you'll build loyalty among your guests by promoting the specific amenities, services, and experiences that they really care about.2. Netflix optimizes images to drive engagementIn early 2014, Netflix carried out research that showed the artwork for each title had the biggest influencer on a member's decision to watch content. In fact, artwork received over 82% of focus as people browsed the platform.This led to the company conducting extensive A/B testing to compare how different artwork affected audience engagement. The results were impressive, sometimes leading to 20-30% more views for a title. Previously, Netflix simply used the images supplied by their studio partners.Netflix has since started personalizing images to each of its members to further optimize user engagement.Takeaway for hotels:Pay close attention to the images you use to showcase your property. It's easy to rely on the same images out of habit, or a belief that they best represent your hotel. The lesson from Netflix is to avoid complacency, and that image choice can have a dramatic impact on consumer decision-making.Make a practice of optimizing your images by running A/B testing throughout the year. While you might not be able to run tests on all of your images, focus on the most prominent ones on your website, marketing, and third-party listings.Check out our in-depth guide to learn how to choose the best images for your hotel website.3. Netflix earns loyalty through a culture of convenienceIn the digital age, convenience drives loyalty. And Netflix is the perfect example of how to build supreme convenience into the heart of the user experience.From the main screen, members can go from browsing to watching a show in two steps. Any shows that a person has previously been watching are conveniently positioned at the top of their customized home screen.Netflix's 'Continue Watching' list also means that members can seamlessly carry on watching a show, rather than having to rewind and find the place they left off.Takeaway for hotels:Netflix gives modern consumers what they want: ultimate convenience. Hotel guests are equally keen for a hassle-free experience. They want the choice to self-serve and communicate on the move. So you need to make everything about interacting with you feel effortless and easy.Does your hotel provide a mobile check-in/check-out service, or a mobile payment option? Do you have a messaging platform that lets guests chat with your hotel and order services? As consumers seek convenience and frictionless interaction, having the right technology in place is vital.citizenM is an excellent example of a hotel chain tailored to on-demand culture. The brand website promises guests a 1-minute check in/check out, and 24/7 food and drinks. Guests can use their room keys to pay for food and drink at the onsite canteenM, and the receipt at checkout goes straight to a guest's email inbox.The takeaway message? Cultivating a culture of convenience should be a priority, so start today.4. Netflix knows how to keep viewers hookedNetflix CEO Reed Hastings has called sleep the company's biggest competitor. To that end, Netflix uses various tactics to keep members watching late into the night.The company pioneered the whole-season release model when it launched every episode of House of Cards (its first original show) all at the same time. This model has since led to the "binge-watching" phenomenon. Audiences get hooked on a show, which increases the odds that they'll finish the series.In addition, the auto-play function is set to 'default,' so a new episode automatically begins after the previous episode has ended. Last year, video previews (a form of specially designed video synopsis) were added to the browsing experience to help make a quick decision about watching a new title.Combined, these elements reduce friction and keep people on the platform for longer.Takeaway for hotels:The abandonment rate in the hotel industry is notoriously high. So there's real value in trying to replicate the Netflix approach to audience engagement.Plenty of seemingly modern hotel websites consistently lose bookings because of subtle flaws in their user experience, so be sure to acquaint yourself with some of the main conversion killers. It's also important to integrate social proof into your hotel website to reassure guests during the buying process. In addition, automatic price-matching widgets will ensure customers don't have to leave your website to compare rates elsewhere.5. Netflix constantly evolves (even when it's ahead)Back in 1997, Netflix was a fledgling company that shipped DVDs. At the time, Blockbuster was the market leader in the video rental industry. Fast-forward two decades, Blockbuster is long gone and Netflix is the second biggest media company in the world.How did that happen? In large part, because Netflix realized that online streaming was the future and adapted its business model. Blockbuster hesitated and paid the price.Netflix continues to innovate and improve its service. Among countless changes, the company has created more original content, overhauled its recommendation algorithm, and keeps improving its interface. It would be easy to stop still. But that isn't in the company's DNA.Takeaway for hotels:It'd be easy to forget that the Netflix success story is largely about mindset: a willingness to adapt and a relentless desire to experiment. For hotels, this lesson translates easily: be aware of your competition, stay on top of industry trends, and adapt swiftly and decisively.Just like Netflix, it's vital to realize that the needs of your guests are constantly changing. The 'on-demand' Gen Z generation is coming of age and set to outnumber Millennials within a year. As your guest of tomorrow, you need to be ready now to cater to the new expectations of younger travelers.Having the right technology in place is also crucial. OTAs continue to win direct bookings because they constantly optimize their online experiences. Hotels must do the same by investing in the right booking engine and reservations system, embracing mobile optimization, and understanding how to leverage artificial intelligence across the travel ecosystem.Applying the Netflix mindsetThe success of Netflix might appear to be a direct result of its vast financial resources. But it's worth reflecting on a quote by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings from a VentureBeat interview in 2016:"It's not Netflix that's making the changes. It's the Internet. We're figuring out every year how to use the Internet to make a great consumer experience. Every year is an experiment."The takeaway message here is that in the on-demand age, the world moves fast. To satisfy and wow on-demand travelers, your hotel needs to adapt to the marketplace, make use of the latest technology, offer supreme convenience, and be tailored to meet the personalized needs and desires of each guest.

How Hotels Can Capitalize on the Boom in Solo Travel

Travel Tripper ·13 December 2018
While taking a vacation alone once carried a certain stigma, the popularity of traveling solo is now well and truly on the rise.A recent travel report by Pinterest found that the number of people who are going independent as solo adventures is up by 593%. And Hostelworld has seen a 42% increase in the number of solo bookings between 2015 and 2017.Solo travel is also happening across generations. A report by Resonance Consultancy found that 25% of US Millennials plan to take a trip alone in the next 12 to 24 months. While a recent study by Booking.com discovered that 40% of global Baby Boomers have taken a solo trip in the last year.There's also been a dramatic rise in solo female travel. Between 2016 and 2017, searches for the term "solo female travel" increased by 50%.As more and more people choose to travel alone, how can hotels capitalize on this shift in behavior to drive more bookings? Here are five top tips to bear in mind.1. Find out why they're comingFirst and foremost, you need to reach out to your guests to identify if they're traveling alone. Once this has been established, try to find out the motivations for their trip.Are they seeking solitude and a rare opportunity to recharge the batteries? Or are they eager to explore, meet new people, and throw themselves into new experiences? You can easily find this information out with pre-stay emails or questionnaires using hotel-specific survey tools.Any subsequent offers, activities, and the experience you provide can then be personalized. For instance, those seeking privacy might appreciate a more discrete service and a room in a quieter part of your hotel. While those looking to mingle may prefer a room near social spaces, and being reminded about activities and events of potential interest. The more you learn, the more tailored you can make each experience.2. Sell your social sceneWhile some solo travelers take a trip for privacy and relaxation, the majority want to meet other guests and like-minded explorers. That's why your destination needs to sound like a buzzing place where there are endless opportunities to socialize.One way to do that is by creating a jam-packed events calendar on your hotel website. To get a quick overview of upcoming events worth promoting, check out local Meetups in your neighborhood, or click the Events tab in Facebook.Bear in mind that some solo travelers may want to socialize in smaller groups, so make sure you highlight more intimate, low-key events, too. Others will also prefer connecting with locals than fellow guests, so it's worth recommending neighborhood cafes, parks, farmers' markets, and meeting spots where it's easy to strike up conversations.Evenings can be particularly lonely for those traveling alone, and many will appreciate suggestions on your nightlife and dining scene. At The Capital Hotel in London, guests receive a list of local restaurants that are especially well-suited to solo travelers.3. Host your own social eventsSocial gatherings, group-based workshops, and unique tours hosted by your hotel can also make it easier for solo travelers to make new friends at your property. Pool parties, wine and cheese evenings, and open-air film screenings are relatively easy to host and offer the perfect setting for fellow guests to strike up conversation.However, a lot of solo travelers are curious by nature and often see travel as a chance for self-development and learning new skills. Cooking classes, jewelry making, pottery courses, and floral workshops are all the rage right now as hotels such as Marriott cater to the trend of transformational travel.Social events can also take place beyond your property. Hosting your own walking tours or running clubs are ideal ways for active guests to make friends while exploring your destination. At London's Hotel 41, members of staff even act as 'sports buddies' so that solo guests always have someone to exercise with.4. Create communal spacesHotels with buzzing communal spaces are growing in popularity, and they're especially appealing to socially minded solos. At The Asbury Hotel in New Jersey, a ground-floor recreation room comes with ping pong tables, pinball, board games, and a communal table to encourage guests to mingle over meals.As work and pleasure become more common (as discussed in our recent bleisure travel post), hotels are also designing co-working spaces to let digital nomads chat while they work. While your own hotel might not have an entire room to spare, you could always create a cosy co-working nook in your lobby, cafe, or bar area.By fostering a communal atmosphere and providing frequent opportunities to socialize, you'll instantly reassure anyone traveling alone that your hotel is a place where they'll be surrounded by company whenever they wish to find it.5. Make them feel safeSafety is a priority for a lot of people who travel solo. Especially among female travelers. A recent survey of 400 US women found that the majority of women feel uncomfortable or unsafe traveling solo.Survey respondents said that when choosing their accommodation, a 24/7 manned reception desk and secure on-site parking were the most important security features (50% rated each very or extremely important). Other priorities included staying on floors with guest access only (41%), and having the door to their room located inside the hotel or facing away from the road if outside (33%).To offer reassurance to those traveling alone, make sure your marketing and hotel website clearly promote your safety and security features. Where possible, be flexible over room options that make guests feel safer. To go the extra mile, you could even offer a complimentary airport transfer to any solo travelers arriving off a late flight.These kinds of gestures will give confidence to hesitant travelers, and undoubtedly filter through to their online reviews. Since a lot of solo travelers will be looking for reassurance from the feedback of your past guests, any extra effort you make will help bolster your reputation.Catering to solo travelersThe solo travel market is booming right now, and people from all walks of life, and for all kinds of reasons, are vacationing alone.Whether your solo guests are single, taking an independent adventure from a spouse, looking to meet new people, or seeking alone time to recharge the batteries, understanding their motivations for travel is crucial to creating a memorable experience.By promoting your destination's best social spots, hosting your own group-based activities, designing communal spaces where possible, and prioritizing safety, your hotel will become a truly attractive destination for anyone exploring the world on a single adventure.

How to Capture Vacationers This Holiday Season

Travel Tripper · 8 December 2018
Christmas is historically the busiest time to travel in the US. Last year, AAA predicted that a record-breaking 107 million Americans would travel over the Christmas and New Year's holidays. As guests prepare for the upcoming seasonal break, now is the time to plan how your property can capture a surge in demand for hotel rooms.With fierce competition from OTAs and other properties, your hotel needs to fight for attention by devising unique offers, special on-property experiences, and innovative marketing campaigns that attract and incentivise your guests to book direct.With that in mind, here are six ways that hoteliers can inspire vacationers and drive more bookings this holiday season.1. Enticing email packages and offersConsumers often get bombarded with marketing emails over the holidays. So your promotion needs to work even harder to demand attention. Getting your customers to open your emails is arguably the biggest battle, so put aside time to craft an irresistible email subject line.Subject lines should be clear, catchy, and succinct. Communicating urgency is also a tried-and-tested tactic to generate clicks. A subject line like, "Today only: save up to 50% off your Christmas stay" gives your email subscribers' a clear and compelling offer with a strict time limit to respond.Fun visual emails and creative messaging can also help capture attention. As a simple example, style your emails around an event calendar. From December 1st, send a daily email with a seasonal tip behind each door, such as how to enjoy a stress-free flight, pack light for the holidays, or ensure Christmas gifts get through airport security.When every other advertiser is bombarding your customers with deals, your helpful advice will feel like a breath of fresh air. Just remember to track your holiday offers so you can use the data to optimize for future dates.2. Tap into seasonal spontaneityThe holidays are a time when people are likely to be more spontaneous and splurge on added luxuries. So once your guests have booked, be sure to send follow-up emails that promote added extras, such as room upgrades or ancillary products and services.To increase the effectiveness of this approach, be sure to segment your audience. You can then send personalized offers that appeal to unique tastes and interests. For instance, target your foodie-loving guests with discounts off your festive menu, or offer spa lovers a discount off your most indulgent treatments.Over the holidays, there's also an opportunity to theme your offers with a little seasonal fun. Last year, Hotel Griffon in San Francisco rewarded guests that arrived in an ugly holiday sweater with a complimentary room upgrade or discounted rate on a room. The promotion was covered by NBC, and illustrates how thinking differently to your competitors can really help you stand out.3. Showcase your festive sideThe holidays are all about anticipation. So use your marketing to tap into the excitement of the year's big events. In particular, video can be a great way to capture the festive mood and inspire your guests.In the weeks leading up to Christmas, why not post a daily video that reveals how your hotel is preparing? Show your staff putting up your Christmas tree and fairy lights, your chef cooking special dishes from your festive menu, or your housekeeping adding decorations to guest rooms.Promote all the ways your destination is preparing for the celebrations, too. Scenes of Christmas markets, twinkling shopping malls, cozy coffee shops, and festive lights being switched on will add to the anticipation of visiting you. You could even interview local residents about their favorite local holiday traditions to further inspire your guests.Be sure to post your videos on your hotel website, YouTube, and social channels to engage your audience and encourage bookings. Don't forget to include a link to the video in your emails!4. Holiday eventsStaying in a hotel over the holidays offers a chance to enjoy a new experience in a different destination. But plenty of your guests will also want to enjoy familiar traditions and experiences. Especially those traveling with children.To capture the atmosphere of the season, Congress Hall in Cape May offer numerous seasonal activities, including breakfast with Santa, and Gingerbread Decorating with Mrs. Claus. The Wentworth Mansion in Charleston hosts a four-course Dickens Dinner as a storyteller retells "A Christmas Carol". And guests staying at One Aldwych in London can book a Festive Film & Fizz experience that involves sipping Champagne while watching a Christmas movie.Think about the activities and events your hotel can offer. For example, you could host your own Christmas baking masterclass, a festive-themed treasure hunt, or invite your young guests to help put treats out for Santa and his reindeer in your lobby. The options are pretty much endless.5. In-room extrasSpecial decorations and thoughtful gifts can all add a touch of magic to the moment a guest arrives in their room. Hang Christmas stockings beside their beds and fill them with traditional treats, such as fruits, nuts, oranges, and candy. Leave a personalized, handwritten greetings card on their pillow, or a wrapped gift if budget allows.Perhaps take inspiration from Sunriver Resort in Oregon. Their elf tuck-in service involves Santa's helpers reading a Christmas story to little ones and treating them to a special goodie bag. While parents staying at Montage Kapalua Bay in Hawaii can order a personalized holiday stocking for their kids that gets delivered to the room.Added extras like these might involve extra time and expense, but the dusting of magic they provide can wow your guests, encourage them to rebook next year, and inspire them to share their experiences on social media.6. Create a holiday-ready websiteWith the holidays fast approaching, now's the time to give your hotel website some seasonal sparkle. Include plenty of festive images and messages on your homepage. Utilize your blog and Events page to promote upcoming events and festivals. And prominently promote amenities that holiday travelers are looking for, such as parking, luggage storage, and pet-friendliness.To entice customers to book direct rather than through OTAs, it's also worth promoting exclusive packages and deals that are only available on your hotel website.WestHouse New York currently has a 'shop in style' winter deal on their website that includes a personal shopping appointment and a $100 gift card from luxury retailer Henri Bendel. This particular offer is perfectly pitched to attract travelers visiting New York for a Christmas shopping spree.How to capture attention during the holiday seasonAttracting holiday vacationers isn't just about offering them a great deal. You also need to get them to fall in love with your brand and tap into the excitement of the season. The tips above can help you drive more direct bookings by offering enticing offers, hosting your own festive experiences, and building up the pre-holiday buzz with well-executed marketing across your website, email, and social channels.

The major events and trends in the hospitality and travel industry 2018

Travel Tripper Blog· 3 December 2018
It’s been another exciting year in the hospitality and travel industry. From the rise of ecotourism and tiny hotels to political uncertainty in both the Europe and US, we recount some of the major events in the hospitality and travel industry as 2018 is coming to an end.

A complete guide to your hotel's Google My Business profile

Travel Tripper ·29 October 2018
Your Google My Business (GMB) profile is an essential piece of your hotel's online marketing channel. In fact, our research has shown that GMB profile listings can bring over 50% of organic traffic to a hotel's website and drive huge amount of booked room revenue.A GMB profile is completely free and easy to set up: you just need to verify your business by sending out a postcard containing a pin code to your businesses address. In addition to GMB, your hotel can claim a number of other business profiles, including Bing Places for Business, Apple Maps, Yelp, and Facebook for Business. The listings you choose will be partly determined by where your hotel is based, and the market you're targeting, but the majority of these options are simple to get listed and won't cost you a penny.
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Newly released CRS Buyer's Guide shares cutting-edge tech trends and smart buyer questions for hoteliers

Travel Tripper ·25 October 2018
NEW YORK -- Hotel Tech Report, in collaboration with Travel Tripper, recently unveiled the 2019 CRS Buyer's Guide, the latest in its series of hotel technology guides designed to help hoteliers to vet and buy the right software tools for operations, marketing, revenue management, and guest experience.The CRS Buyer's Guide features important information and resources for hoteliers on how to select the right central reservations system for their properties, including:Cutting-edge trends in the CRS space, including pricing and integrationsKey features and must-havesSmart buyer questions to ask vendorsIntegration considerationsPricing models and budget insightsImplementation process and timelineSuccess metrics and KPIsThe guide also features side-by-side comparisons of top-rated vendors and links to vendor reviews written by verified hotel employees. The guide also contains additional references and resources, including articles, use cases, and success stories."A hotel's central reservation system is one of the core platforms that a hotel needs for revenue management. The decision on which vendor to use should not be solely based on price, as it can affect your overall bottom line," says Joan Lee, VP of Operations at Travel Tripper. "The CRS Buyer's Guide is intended to provide helpful advice and tips that hotels can use to complete due diligence in selecting a CRS platform."Hoteliers can download the free guide on HotelTechReport.com or directly through Travel Tripper.

How hotels can capitalize on the boom in solo travel

Travel Tripper Blog·23 October 2018
While taking a vacation alone once carried a certain stigma, the popularity of traveling solo is now well and truly on the rise.

Insider Perspectives: Michelle Mu, Director of Revenue at Refinery Hotel

Travel Tripper Blog·18 October 2018
This week, we invited our client, Michelle Mu, Director of Revenue at Refinery Hotel, to share the hotelier’s perspective and get a glimpse into her personal and professional experiences.

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.

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