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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.

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    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.

Oyo's Push Into Southeast Asia Is a Wake-Up Call for Budget Hotel Chains

skift Inc. ·14 December 2018
On its own, Oyo entering Southeast Asia should concern existing budget hotel players. Oyo with Grab should make them go shaky in the knees. Consolidation or new alliances will not surprise anyone.Southeast Asia's budget accommodation sector has been under the long shadow of China and India. Strange, because the hotel space in Southeast Asia is three times as big as India's, and dotted with invisible, non-classified hotels waiting to be spruced up, branded, and redistributed efficiently. Maybe existing players prefer that they stay in the shadows. But that won't be for long as Oyo marches into the region.The king of budget hotel brands is expected to shake up or wake up a rather sleepy playground, again strange, given that numbers that matter for the sector are bright. In Indonesia alone, where Oyo is putting in $100 million to expand, there are around 300,000 non-classified and 233,000 classified hotel rooms, according to Statistics Indonesia 2016. The majority (70 percent) are three stars and below. Share of supply inched 3 percent towards midscale and budget from upper upscale between 2013 and 2017, according to STR.On the demand side, the number of domestic travelers -- the heart of business for budget accommodations -- keeps rising. Last year, there were 264 million domestic tourists, leisure and business, exceeding the Indonesia tourism ministry's target of 260 million. The International Air Transport Association estimates that the number of domestic passengers carried by Indonesian airlines will rise to 355 million in 2036, making Indonesia the fifth-largest air travel market in the world, behind China, the U.S., India and Turkey.

Airbnb, HomeAway and Others Form International Vacation Rental Group in Japan

skift Inc. ·13 December 2018
The big vacation rental players have formed an association in Japan, with the blessing of the Japan Tourism Agency. It may be a model for other Asian countries to follow.It's been in the works for six months and finally a Japan Association of Vacation Rental will be incorporated in January, comprising nine founding members that aim to boost Japan's tourism through vacation rental businesses, including homesharing, ryokans that use residential facilities, and event vacation rentals.The group comes together as Japan has been strictly enforcing rules against illegal rentals.The association includes Agoda International Japan, Airbnb, Booking.com Japan, Ctrip International Travel Japan, HomeAway, Hyakusenrenma, Tujia Japan, Rakuten Lifull Stay and Space Market, the latter a Tokyo-based startup offering on-demand rental of unused or idle venues.This isn't the first vacation rental association. There's the Vacation Rental Management Association in the U.S., Short Term Accommodation Association in the UK, UNPLV in France and Fevitur in Spain.But what makes the Japan association unique is that it manages to get domestic and foreign players to cooperate towards the development of the vacation rental industry in the country.

Airbnb's Deal for French Firm Could Signal Entry Into Property Management

skift Inc. ·13 December 2018
To be honest, this acquisition is a bit puzzling, and has us wondering: Why buy when you can partner instead? But perhaps Airbnb is onto something.Airbnb isn't known for making many investments or acquisitions, but its newest purchase may reveal a major shift in the company's strategy toward homesharing.The San Francisco-based company announced this week it had acquired a French concierge services/property management company called Luckey Homes for an undisclosed sum.France is one of Airbnb's top markets in the world, with more than 500,000 listings and a total of 13 million guests and hosts. Paris is Airbnb's No. 1 destination in the world, but also one where the company is facing regulatory battles with the city.Luckey Homes, founded in 2015, helps short-term rental hosts with managing their listings, handling guest arrivals and departures, providing cleaning services, and offering customer assistance in 20 different cities in France, but the company also has intentions of expanding globally. Since its founding, Luckey Homes has raised approximately $3.2 million (EUR2.8 million) in funding from Paris-based real estate developer, Nexity, and venture capital firm Newfund. Airbnb has reportedly purchased Nexity and Newfund's shares in Luckey Homes.

Airbnb and Major Landlord Settle Lawsuit Over Subletting Violations

skift Inc. ·12 December 2018
The Miami settlement could have broader implications for Airbnb when other big landlords take it to task for hosts violating their apartment leases. And, it isn't a bad thing for Airbnb to resolve its issues with various regulators and to erase some of these legal irritants when it will likely solicit investors for a 2019 initial public offering.Airbnb and a landlord that owns several large apartment complexes in Miami and other markets settled a lawsuit in which the plaintiff argued that tenants were violating their leases and creating harmful conditions by acting as hosts and renting their apartments to Airbnb customers.In a joint statement Tuesday, Apartment Investment and Management Co. (Aimco), which owns the Bay Parc Apartments, Flamingo North Tower and Flamingo Center Tower apartment complexes in Miami, indicated that they have settled all of their disputes and the litigation between them has been dismissed. Plaintiff Aimco and defendant Airbnb said they believe the settlement is mutually beneficial.While focused on Miami, the ruling any ruling would have directed how companies like Aimco pursued Airbnb in other destinations. The Denver-based Aimco operates in 22 markets and has 250,000 units on the market.

Agencies Find Opportunity When Vacations Are Tacked Onto Business Travel

skift Inc. ·12 December 2018
Conventional wisdom says a good travel agent can arrange leisure travel or corporate travel, but not both. Even if it were true, there's nothing to prevent the agency from selling both leisure and business travel -- except believing conventional wisdom.Leisure travel is leisure travel, business travel is business travel, and never the twain shall meet for travel agents. Except when they do."Mixing leisure and business travel is a great opportunity," said Marc Casto, president and CEO of Casto Travel, based in Silicon Valley.An Unpacking Bleisure Traveler Trends survey from Expedia, released earlier this year, found that 60 percent of business travelers combine business and leisure travel. That's up from 43 percent in 2016. Business travelers from the UK, Germany, India, and China were among those blending business and leisure travel in a big way.The agency that doesn't handle both is not only losing out on business travel revenue, but is missing a chunk of easy leisure add-on sales as well, experts say.The issue, Casto said, is that leisure and business travel come close to being different disciplines. The skill sets are similar, but the knowledge base, attitudes, expectations, and payment mechanisms diverge.We don't want to stereotype, but here are some tendencies.

Venture Capital Shows Growing Interest in New Hospitality Models: What Are the Risks?

skift Inc. ·12 December 2018
To quote a smart venture capitalist, "Just because investment money is pouring in doesn't mean all bets are good bets!" WhyHotel itself may be a well-run business, but the sudden rush of venture money into a full array of hospitality businesses does raise eyebrows overall.WhyHotel, a company that runs pop-up hotels in luxury apartment buildings, said Wednesday that it had raised $10 million in a Series A round of investment.Highland Capital Partners led the round. WhyHotel raised seed funding of $3 million earlier this year, accounting for all of its other venture funding to date.It's not traditional for venture capital to fund the building of hotels.WhyHotel is one step removed from being an actual hotel. So far this year it has instead created a series of "pop-up hotels" that are really glorified vacation rentals available by the day, with daily housekeeping service.The company has worked with professional property owners and developers in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, to borrow units and split the income.But WhyHotel would like to expand to open new pop-ups and also create a permanent presence in some places.

WebBeds and 3 Asian Wholesalers Form First Bedbank Coalition to Share Supply

skift Inc. ·10 December 2018
Hotel chains and airlines have formed alliances, why not bedbanks? The first bedbank alliance by four Asian players may be the first of its kind, but what's more important is whether it can work. After all, if it looks so logical and easy, why didn't anyone do it sooner?Four Asian travel wholesalers, WebBeds Asia-Pacific, Hotelpass Global Korea, Westminster Travel Hong Kong, and AntaVaya in Indonesia, have formed what may be an industry-first bedbanks alliance, similar to those formed for hotels and airlines.Called OPP, for opportunity, they want to tap the "Asian Century opportunity," the idea being Asian travel markets are continuing to grow at spell-binding rates and hotels want to reach these Asian travelers, yet wholesale distribution remains highly fragmented."We know from speaking to our hotel partners that one of their major goals is to achieve more widespread distribution [of their rooms] more effectively, including penetration into Asia's emerging markets. This coalition of highly respected market leaders, which creates an unprecedented regional force, will enable this," said Larry Lo, CEO of Westminster Travel.

Expedia to Hoteliers: Vacation Rentals Won't Steal Your Business

skift Inc. · 7 December 2018
Expedia officials can try to assure hoteliers that the rise of alternative accommodations is no big deal for their businesses. But you can be certain that figuring out how to manage this changing dynamic is of paramount concern for all parties involved.How is Expedia Group going to balance what has long been its core business -- hotels -- with all the efforts it is making to load vacation rentals and apartments on its sites after acquiring HomeAway in 2015.Speaking before 4,500 audience members, including many hoteliers, Expedia officials sought to convince them that mixing alternative accommodations into Expedia's search results won't hurt hotels.Cyril Ranque, president of Expedia Group's Lodging Partner Services, told the audience at the company's Explore '18 partner conference in Las Vegas Wednesday, that although some hoteliers are concerned about the proliferation of vacation rentals in Expedia's search results, they shouldn't worry because the use case for a hotel versus a vacation rental stay are clearly different.

Why the Shangri-La and Klook Partnership Isn't as Odd as It Seems

skift Inc. · 6 December 2018
Hotel chains and tours and activities are converging again as Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts and Klook strike a partnership. The deal, following Marriott International's stake in PlacePass last year, has its potential pitfalls but the upside could be huge for both parties if they can make it go smoothly.One is exclusive, the other inclusive. Jet set versus young set, legacy versus cutting edge. Shangri-La and Klook may seem to be strange bedfellows but their partnership of a hotel company and a tours booking outfit announced Wednesday shows their objectives are not incompatible.Both want to reach out to new customers, Shangri-La the younger affluent clientele, Klook the luxury market. Shangri-La wants its Golden Circle members to earn and burn more points and, after adding merchandise from bathrobes to iPhones to the redemption list, sees tours and activities as the next big thing, which it is.Klook constantly wants to expand not just its user base but the number and quality of offerings, which Shangri-La hotels, with its CHI, The Spa network, over 500 restaurants and other attractions, provide, said its chief revenue officer Anita Ngai.

Marriott Breach Shows Importance of Digital Security

skift Inc. · 6 December 2018
The Starwood hack wasn't the first data breach at a major hotel chain, and it won't be the last. As the meetings and events sector becomes increasingly digitalized, so too does the risk increase when it comes to cybersecurity.The reveal last week of a long-lasting security breach inside Marriott's Starwood Hotels & Resorts should act as a reminder of what is important in the post-GDPR world we all live in.Check out our coverage below on the impact of the breach on Marriott and Starwood hotels, and what it means for the greater travel industry.For meetings and events, expect even stronger vetting of technology partners and venues in the near future. A series of lawsuits over the next few years is going to help set a precedent for how giant corporations respond to data breaches going forward.

CEO Interview: Franck Gervais of AccorHotels Europe, on What European Hospitality Looks Like Today

skift Inc. · 5 December 2018
Europe's appetite for cutting-edge design, community-driven approaches, and contemporary food and beverage concepts is constantly evolving. Hotel brands, developers, and other leaders in the industry should take note.Most hotel brands are laser-focused on expanding in developing countries across Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America, but it would be a mistake to ignore what's currently unfolding in Europe. There's been a huge wave of innovation coming out of the continent's hospitality industry. The days of having to choose between either grande dame hotels or boring budget beds are over, replaced by a plethora of niche lodging options that focus on community, connectivity, and creativity.Franck Gervais, AccorHotels' CEO Europe, joined the company in November 2017 after working in France's railway sector for more than a decade. During his time as chief executive officer of Voyages-SNCF.com, he focused on projects designed to enhance the customer experience. As someone relatively new to the hotel industry, Gervais brings a fresh perspective to the topic of innovation within the European hospitality sector.SkiftX spoke to Gervais about his thoughts on hospitality in Europe today, how legacy brands are reinventing themselves, how developers are rethinking public spaces, and the future of AccorHotels in Europe.

Data Breach Adds to Marriott's Ongoing Loyalty Merger Challenges

skift Inc. · 4 December 2018
In the midst of ironing out the kinks in its newly-merged loyalty program, Marriott was hit with news of a massive data breach last week. Revealed on Friday, the breach affects over 500 million former Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty members.In what may be the largest hack in the travel industry to date, Marriott last week revealed that its database of Starwood customers has been compromised since 2014, exposing over 500 million user profiles to unscrupulous parties out on the web.Though they had long been in talks, Marriott International completed its acquisition of Starwood Hotels in 2016; in only August of this year did the loyalty programs officially merge.Marriott joins a long list of travel providers that have recently been affected by data breaches. Just earlier this month, Cathay Pacific saw the information of over nine million passengers compromised while hotel operators from Hyatt to IHG to Hilton have had their own run-ins with hackers.

Why Is It Getting Harder for Boutique Hotel Brands to Expand in Asia?

skift Inc. · 4 December 2018
Boutique American and European hotel brands aim to expand in Asia but soon realize it's more difficult than they imagined, and that it's only going to get harder. Here's why, and how they can make a go of it.Dream Hotel Group, Standard Hotels, Ace Hotel, Trump Hotels, Caesars Entertainment, Nobu Hotels, CitizenM, Karl Lagerfeld Hotels, and Laura Ashley Hotels are among a growing list of boutique U.S. and European hotel brands that want to expand in Asia.They aren't wrong in thinking that brand novelty, coupled with the region's robust pipeline, should unlock growth. But while Asian owners do have an appetite for new boutique brands with an entrepreneurial spirit, they aren't themselves risk takers, say hotel consulting firms interviewed by Skift.Owners, after all, are making a 15 to 20-year decision on a brand which, successful as it may be in its home ground, remains unproven outside. They question what is its scale, human resource network, distribution system, and support to owners?Making it harder, global hotel chains are fielding their own boutique brands in Asia, with consolidation giving them expanded development teams and corporate offices in more places throughout Asia.Add to that homegrown Asian chains that are making huge efforts to grow into the upscale and luxury space after having themselves in the economy and midscale sectors.FIRST STEPS AND MISSTEPSTake Dream Hotel Group that has only two properties in operation, Dream Bangkok and Dream Phuket, after entering Asia for over a decade.The former is an aging 10-year-old hotel by now, while the latter is managed by a Singapore-based property development company, Castlewood Group, under a licensed agreement signed in 2015 that called for "20 Dream Hotels over the next 10 years."

Michelin Guide Owner Buys Tablet Hotels to Build a Travel Business

skift Inc. · 3 December 2018
Tablet Hotels found itself a world-class strategic buyer to propel its growth. Tablet as part of Michelin will face huge marketing hurdles, and the challenge of trying to reshape Michelins legacy guide offerings.Michelin, the France-based tire company that publishes Michelin guides for restaurants and tours, quietly acquired the booking site Tablet Hotels in October.The goal of the deal, which was announced Monday, is to have the Tablet Hotels team lead the digital transformation of the print-oriented Michelin Red Guides for restaurants and Green Guides for tourism, and to build a travel larger travel vertical, Tablet Hotels co-founder and CEO Laurent Vernhes told Skift.Revenue from the Michelin Guides is a rounding error, Vernhes said. They believe it could be more than that.In fact, in 2017 Michelin, which has a market cap of $18.8 billion, created a Michelin Experiences unit to combine and grow its various travel-related assets, and has tested things such as offering Chinese travelers kitchen tours with chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants. The company also has ambitions to create a Michelin club, which would build on the learnings of the Tablet Plus membership club, Vernhes said.Travelers and foodies are now looking for experiences which tell a story, and which help them discover a universe where they can show their appreciation of the local cultures, said Pascal Couasnon, director of Michelin Groups gastronomic and tourist activities, in a statement. Tablet is part of this new lifestyle that fully corresponds to the ethos of the Michelin guides. We want to offer our readers the best, by revealing places that offer this extra soul and express the fruit of the work of hoteliers and passionate chefs alike.In a presentation at a Goldman Sachs conference in London a few days ago, Michelin stated that it considers Experiences, including travel and fine dining, as one of four key growth areas for the company. Its strategy includes investments and acquisitions to propel value creation for this restaurants and travel division, which has seen net sales triple in 2018.

Airbnb Touts One of Its Most Valuable Assets as It Prepares for IPO

skift Inc. · 3 December 2018
Combatting host fatigue is a very real thing, but itll probably take a lot more than this from Airbnb to make sure those Superhosts remain loyal.Airbnb is making its most highly rated and reviewed hosts, and arguably one of its most valuable assets, the centerpiece of its latest marketing efforts.The San Francisco-based homesharing giant, which has more than five million listings in 81,000 cities worldwide, plans to celebrate its more than 600,000 Superhosts with a series of marketing initiatives, as well as an entire Superhost week beginning December 10.The marketing push comes amid growing speculation that Airbnb will take itself public in 2019, in what would be one of the travel industrys most anticipated IPOs.o become an Airbnb Superhost, a host must host at least 10 trips and have an average rating of more than 4.8 out 5 stars,. Most have hosted, on average, for a total of 140 nights.The company reported that the number of Superhosts it has more than doubled since 2017, and that Superhosts earn 22 percent more than other hosts, and have been responsible for approximately 150 million out of 400 million guest arrivals since the companys inception in 2008.In February, at a press event where CEO Brian Chesky unveiled Airbnbs newest product, Airbnb Plus, a collection of verified home listings, he also made it a point to recognize Airbnb hosts, and he noted that the company is adding 14 more benefits for its best hosts, including custom URLs for their listings, more visibility and exposure on the platform, and more promotion.

Marriott's Starwood Data Breach Joins a Decade-Long List of Hotel Data Exposures

skift Inc. · 3 December 2018
Several years ago, the hotel industry fought U.S. federal watchdog efforts to fine chains for negligent data protection practices, arguing that hotels had things under control. Hmm. A rash of hotel security incidents since then undercuts the claims of hotels, which need to take a more bank-like approach to data protection.When Marriott International revealed a massive security breach at Starwood-branded properties, it joined an unfortunate long line of guest data breaches by hoteliers.The scope of the breach at the worlds largest hotel group is more spectacular than any other in travel to date. Marriott said the breach affected hundreds of millions of customers who stayed at Starwood-branded properties between 2014 and September 10.POTENTIAL RECORD FINESThe breach may also expose parent company, Marriott, to record fines because, unlike most past breaches, some of the activity appeared to happen after Europe put into place General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018 that boosts fines for violations of some types of data security.Exact fine estimates are impossible to gauge, but experts said the prospective range would be potentially higher than the spectrum used by European Union and U.S. officials in the past. European officials have the discretion to fine companies up to 4 percent of annual revenue in the year preceding a data protection incident.Other investigations are in the offing. On Friday, the New York attorney generals office said it would open an investigation into the breach.That office has had success in pursuing prosecutions before. In 2017, Hilton Worldwide agreed to pay a $700,000 fine to the state of New York after data security failures exposed more than 350,000 credit card numbers in two breaches in 2015.

Marriott Data Breach Does Little to Rattle Already Weary Loyalty Members

skift Inc. · 3 December 2018
Loyalty members dont seem to be too bothered by Marriotts recent breach of more than 500 million users personal data. Part of that could be low expectations for Marriott, or because this isnt the first data breach rodeo for many.News broke Friday morning that Marriott suffered from a massive data breach affecting its database of Starwood Preferred Guest members a disruption that may impact as many as 500 million members of the freshly merged loyalty program.For many of Marriotts loyalty members, especially those who came from the Starwood side of the merger, the hack didnt come as too much of a surprise.From an IT perspective the merger has been very poor anyway, said Adam Jaffe, a management consultant from San Diego who has lifetime Platinum status with the newly joint loyalty program. I am not so worried as I am disappointed with how horrible the Marriott IT systems are basically if I am affected by the hack it is just a massive waste of time for me to have to fix things.

What Marriott's Data Breach Means for the Hotel Giant and Guests

skift Inc. · 3 December 2018
Security breaches of hotel guest data are not uncommon, but few have been quite on the scale of the most recent incident involving 500 million Starwood Hotels guests.On Friday, Starwood owner, Marriott International, which bought Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2016 for $13.3 billion, revealed it had recently discovered a massive security breach involving guests who had stayed at Starwood-branded properties from 2014 to September 10, 2018.Guest information that may have been hacked included credit card information and passport numbers. The potential blowback on Marriott is still unfolding.Marriott discovered the breach on September 8 and the incident, according to Marriott spokesperson Connie Kim: We have successfully contained the incident, although this continues to be an ongoing investigation. Its not clear why Marriott chose to disclose the breach on Friday.But at a time when the worlds largest hotel company has dealt with one of the largest ever hotel worker strikes on record, as well as mounting dissatisfaction from disillusioned Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty members who have expressed their displeasure with the merger of SPG with Marriotts own Marriott Rewards program, news of this security breach will be yet another setback for the worlds largest hospitality company.

Hotels Play a Bigger Role as Matchmakers With the Help of Technology

skift Inc. ·29 November 2018
Hotel bars, restaurants, and lobbies have long been places where people gather to see, be seen, meet, and mingle. And as popular culture has demonstrated to us in countless films, TV series, and books, they often serve as the ideal backdrop for a meet cute, too.Now, thanks to the advent of mobile technology, hotels are leveraging their longstanding supporting role to an active role encouraging more meetings among their guests and the locals living nearby.For many of these hotel brands, facilitating these connections is part and parcel with their efforts to be experience platforms or to be known for more than just being a place where you stay when you travel. Leveraging technology in this way helps them serve as modern-day community centers for travelers and locals alike, and helps them fill their lobbies and bars with paying patrons.

Europe Working On New Tourism Brand Positioning: Value Not Volume

skift Inc. ·29 November 2018
The European Travel Commission (ETC), the organization responsible for promoting the continent as a tourist destination, is changing its marketing strategy for 2019, moving from a volume to a value-based approach.The change will see a shift from a market segmentation based predominantly on demographics to one based on behaviors, interests, and attitudes. The ETC will no longer organize its promotional activity around where its target audiences live.The move comes as more European cities are beginning to address overtourism and putting in place plans to disperse crowds more broadly to help improve the quality of life of residents who live in those cities. The ETC is also putting a big emphasis on experiences over specific destinations.

What 5G Will Mean for Hotels and Events

skift Inc. ·29 November 2018
Your smartphone is about to get a whole lot faster.New 5G mobile technology, which is about 1,000 times faster than the current 4G LTE systems used by most phones, will help reinvent how we use smartphones and bring a new level of real-time connectedness to the various devices known as the internet of things. We will still be waiting, though, a long time for this new future to emerge as information infrastructure around the world is updated.At the Consumer Electronics Show in early 2018, technology giants laid out their vision for bringing 5G to the masses. More powerful connections between devices and phones will lead to advances in artificial intelligence and other areas that have just begun to impact global businesses.

Why AccorHotels' Mergers Strategy Is Winning Over Investors

skift Inc. ·29 November 2018
AccorHotels is pursuing one of the most aggressive mergers and acquisitions strategies in the entire hospitality industry. The company could be called a serial acquirer, making numerous acquisitions and investments in various sectors and seeing what resonates with customers. Ultimately the companys goal is to become an all-in-one travel experience platform that can cover any aspect of travel, any need or desire of consumers traveling, or even locals craving experiences in their areas.The latest Skift Research report, A Deep Dive Into AccorHotels 2018: Measuring Success From Asset-Light to Acquisitions, provides an overview of the various acquisitions, investments, and strategic partnerships that Paris-based AccorHotels has been making over the past few years. We also offer several ways of measuring the success of the companys M&A strategy including evaluating investor views based on stock price performance, calculating enterprise value (a measure of a total companys takeover value) creation over the past five years, looking at the financial performance of the companys New Business operating segment, and more.

Hotels Play a Bigger Role as Matchmakers With the Help of Technology

skift Inc. ·26 November 2018
Hotel bars, restaurants, and lobbies have long been places where people gather to see, be seen, meet, and mingle. And as popular culture has demonstrated to us in countless films, TV series, and books, they often serve as the ideal backdrop for a meet cute, too.Now, thanks to the advent of mobile technology, hotels are leveraging their longstanding supporting role to an active role encouraging more meetings among their guests and the locals living nearby.For many of these hotel brands, facilitating these connections is part and parcel with their efforts to be experience platforms or to be known for more than just being a place where you stay when you travel. Leveraging technology in this way helps them serve as modern-day community centers for travelers and locals alike, and helps them fill their lobbies and bars with paying patrons.Marriotts Moxy earlier this month announced a brand partnership with Bumble, a location-based app primarily known for dating, but also extends to business networking, which markets itself as a female-first networking app. The venture designates participating Moxy hotels throughout the U.S. as BumbleSpots, where Bumble app users are encouraged to meet one another.Sydell Groups Line hotel brand also announced a partnership with Bumble this November, although its partnership is more targeted toward female users of Bumble BFF, the companys friendship-oriented social networking app. To promote the partnership, Line hotels in Austin, D.C., and Los Angeles are hosting Bumble BFF exclusive brunches showcasing in-house hospitality and dining talent from each hotel that Bumble BFF users can attend.

Corporate Hotel and Air Business Remains Strong, But for How Long?

skift Inc. ·20 November 2018
It's been a strong year for corporate travel in general, with both hotel chains and airlines reporting robust growth as businesses continue to send their employees across the world.On their earnings calls in recent weeks for third quarter results, top executives across travel expressed optimism for the future of continued corporate travel growth. Still, signs are emerging that an economic slowdown is coming soon.Hotel rates are high, putting pressure on the people who plan meetings and events. There are also lingering concerns around the effect that ongoing trade wars and negotiations around the world will have, along with uncertainty creeping into global stock markets. While the major players in corporate travel are getting along more nicely than before, the collaboration may not last if financial pressure increases.Here's the latest from leaders across the industry on the state of corporate travel and their efforts to attract business travelers.MARRIOTT CEO ARNE SORENSON ON CORPORATE RATES AND MEETING PLANNERS"We have regular dialogue with our big corporate customers as it relates to both group and their transient travelers. We have regular sessions with group planners. Sometimes, those are folks in intermediary platforms. And often, those are folks internally at corporate or association customers. I think overwhelmingly, the response has been not just positive but enthusiastically positive. They appreciate the breadth of choice."They appreciate the execution that we're bringing to the portfolio of both group boxes in which we are, far and away, the biggest in the industry. And I think we're hearing from our association corporate group customers that they love the breadth of choice that we offer within our portfolio. And similarly, I think we hear from the business transient traveler that they like very much the breadth of choice that we're offering. And so when we see our share of the total travel book of some of our biggest corporate clients, we see that share generally growing, and the relationship is generally very robust...

Booking Holdings Makes Major Pivot Toward Merchant Hotel Bookings

skift Inc. · 6 November 2018
Nearly two years ago, when Booking Holdings appointed Glenn Fogel as its CEO, analysts would have never have expected the company to tilt toward brand marketing or make a big push toward the merchant hotel model.That's because Booking.com, the parent company's biggest brand, grew up since its early days a decade-and-a-half ago on paid marketing through sites like Google, and scaled its business on the agency, or pay at the hotel, business model.But there's a dramatic shift under way. In its third quarter financial results announced Monday, Booking Holdings revealed that its merchant hotel revenue jumped 53.4 percent to nearly $1.05 billion while its agency revenue grew less than one percent to $3.54 billion.

The Bigger Promise of Voice in Hospitality Could Be With Vacation Rentals

skift Inc. · 2 November 2018
There's been plenty of anticipation -- and coverage -- of the possibility of using voice technology in hotels, but when it comes to vacation rentals, the theoretical power of voice has the potential to be truly transformative for an area of hospitality without staff to provide certain services."The promise of voice in vacation rentals is amazing, in theory," said Alex Nigg, co-founder and CEO of Properly, a cleaning management platform for private accommodations. "It's amazing because if you look at how vacation rentals position themselves against hotels, it's more about the product: more space, kitchens, interesting neighborhoods. But you miss the service overlay of the hotel, and a voice system can replace a lot of that. That promise is compelling because it brings vacation rental product up to par of what a hotel offers."Not only that, but as more consumers purchase and use voice assistants for their homes, their familiarity with the product has grown. Research released earlier this year by Voicebot.ai estimates that approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population, or 47.3 million U.S. adults, has access to a smart speaker.

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