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How Amazon Go No Checkout Stores Will Influence the Future of the Hospitality & Travel Industry

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·13 February 2018
Our world is endlessly transformative, with a wealth of technological innovations and advances coming to life and capturing large-scale societal attention on what feels like a weekly basis. Self-driving cars, cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence -- the future seems to be arriving faster than some of us have a chance to take a breath. At the heart of most revolutionary technology exists the progressive desire for increased convenience and efficiency as it applies to our day-to-day lives, businesses and more. Staying true to this trend, Amazon Go recently opened a grocery store like we've never experienced (but probably always dreamed of) in Seattle. No carts, no lines, no cash and no waiting -- a completely cashless grocery experience in which shoppers enter through turnstile gates, grab the items they need and exit the way they came, just like that. While shopping, the store takes inventory of what you pick from the shelves and automatically charges your Amazon account. Could this be the future of shopping? It sure seems like it. According to most experts, there is little doubt that many, if not all of the concepts from the Amazon Go store will be adopted by A-level customer-centric industries over the next five years." If we think about it, the pursuit of automation and mobile optimization has long since begun its takeover. Self-checkout, server-less restaurants, Apple Easy Pay, Uber, mobile orders at places like Starbucks, mobile keys for your hotel room and the rise of voice-powered personal assistants, the need for technology-driven efficiency is paramount. So, the question becomes, how will a revolutionary (and potentially disruptive) advancements like the Amazon Go no checkout store, influence the future of other industries? Specifically, how will the hospitality and travel industry be affected or better yet -- how can it keep up? An Emphasis on Frictionless Experience Sometimes, cutting-edge tech solutions are rejected by consumers, and this occurs when the technology places increased cognitive stress on the consumer based on a complicated user interface. Increased efficiency can't be achieved without simplicity -- if the technology in question doesn't readily make the user's life easier, it simply can't be viewed as efficient. The key to wide-spread adoption lies in frictionless user simplicity and in the case of the hospitality industry, this requires solutions that are easy for both guests and staff to interact with and master.Using the Amazon Go store as an example, we can call attention to the simplistic nature of the "just walk out" process. There is no complicated user responsibility involved in the model; it presents a clear process that can easily be understood and adopted by the general public. For hoteliers, this emphasis on the frictionless experience will be expected at every touch-point, for every guest. No front desk lines, mobile keys, mobile payments for ordering items and special requests and immediate response to service requests. This type of interactions will quickly become the expected standard for hotels embracing the future of hospitality and advanced customer-driven solutions and sales. The Era of Self-Service Has Arrived The future is mobile. Hoteliers are feeling pressure, now more than ever before, to embrace their guest's desire for mobile optimization and self-service functionality. This applies to mobile booking, room keys, check-in, concierge, stores, notifications, payments and more. Guests want to hold all the power, right in the palm of their hand. We should also consider the consumer psychology at work within uninterrupted self-service and how it can empower individuals to spend more. Traditionally, the further we are removed from the "pain of paying" that's often associated with cash transactions, the less we understand how much we're really spending. Additionally, if stuck in a line at check-out, consumers are granted the opportunity to mull over their more impulsive purchase items and potentially change their mind. When you remove these two psychological processes with the help of automated payments and self-service technology, you are tapping into increased revenue potential. This same logic applies to the hospitality industry, as hoteliers can use the frictionless, self-service model to empower their guests to spend more while on property and, most importantly, continue re-booking. Automation Should Enhance Guest Service, Not Replace ItDespite the increased demand for efficiency and self-service, many guests still seek a high-touch, hands-on and personalized approach throughout their hotel stay. The increase in automation within a hotel's core processes should create a subsequent shift in staff roles, allowing them to focus more on helping and guest engagement, rather than transactions. The carefully curated provision of exceptional (and personalized) face-to-face guest service will, without a doubt, become a key competitive advantage and differentiator for hotels. As a hotelier, ask yourself, how can increased automation revolutionize the way your staff engages with your guest?
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New Guide Outlines Strategies for Building Thought Leadership, Influence and Market Leadership

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·25 January 2018
We have entered an age where leadership matters more than ever -- thought leadership, to be exact. Building trust, credibility, awareness, and influence to increase profits is more than just a goal of most CEOs and executives. It's also the topic of a new guide from the leading travel and hospitality technology marketing agency, Puzzle Partner. The firm recently published "Thought Leader - Market Leader" developed to help brands become a sought-after source for information that leads to new business opportunities, stronger relationships, sales enablement and more.By communicating thought leadership, you become part of the conversation, early in the buying journey. According to a study from The Economist Group, around 80% of executives said superior thought leadership influences both their purchasing decisions and choice of business partner. Over 90% of C-Suite executives surveyed agreed that their respect and admiration for an organization increased after engaging with strong thought leadership. And more than 80% said that thought leadership has increased their trust in a vendor organization. In other words, for companies that get thought leadership right, the payoff can be significant."The best time to start content marketing was five years ago, the second-best time is now," explains Alan Young, President of Puzzle Partner. "Thought leadership content should be a natural extension of your current marketing efforts, and every CEO and CMO should make sure that their team has a committed plan, with a steady cadence to maximize results and stay top of mind. This guide is designed to help brands of all sizes do just that. That said, some companies may find that outsourcing to a specialized agency makes more financial sense because it does require significant resources, talent, expertise and distribution capabilities."Available for download through the company's website, the guide details some simple steps companies of all sizes can take to improve their brand recognition, boost search engine visibility, expand their network, build authority, and earn the respect of their industry to grow their business. CLICK HERE to get your free copy today at www.puzzlepartner.co/thought-leaderFor more information about Puzzle Partner, visit puzzlepartner.co.
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HEDNA Tackles Costly Payment Challenges at January 2018 Global Distribution Conference in Austin

Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 8 January 2018
The upcoming HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) Global Distribution Conference has become the go-to place for hotel industry payment insights, education and best practices. The nearly sold-out event will deliver the most comprehensive information, resources, and dialogue to help hoteliers gain control of the complexities associated with regulations, virtual payments, data security, GDPR and guest demands when it comes to payment strategies.The conference, which has attracted top delegates from hotel chains, multi-properties, independents, management companies, technology suppliers, payment companies and many others, takes place from January 29th - 31st, 2018 at the Sheraton Austin. This year, the payment tracks take center stage to address important topics including how to implement a 'guest centric' payment strategy, how to right size a hotel's third-party costs from a payment perspective, virtual payment trends, compliance, B2B payments, as well as solutions for upcoming issues such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The elite group of speakers and presenters is comprised of payment experts and influencers from Braintree - A PayPal Company, Ingenico, Edgar, Dunn & Company, Worldpay, Elavon, Hilton, JP Morgan, WEX, Onyx CenterSource, and Voxel Group. For a full list of topics and presenters, visit austinhedna.com/agenda.The Hotel Analytics Working Group will also share the wealth of data received from the 1,000+ HEDNA members and non-member participants in a recent survey. The analysis and White Paper provide recommendations and guidelines to educate hotels globally on how best to use their data to optimize both profit potential and long-term asset value.Other highlights of the event include the highly anticipated Innov8 session and a "Hackathon" produced in partnership with TNOOZ focusing on artificial intelligence and emerging technologies in hospitality.For more information and to register or sponsor, please visit AustinHEDNA.com.About Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA)HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) is a not-for-profit trade association whose worldwide membership includes executives and managers from the most influential companies in the hospitality industry. Founded in 1991, HEDNA's mission is to be the leading global forum for advancing hospitality distribution through collaboration and knowledge sharing. Its vision calls for HEDNA to be known for creating an environment that fosters strategic collaboration toward business development in the global hospitality industry. For more, visit www.HEDNA.org.
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2018 HEDNA Conference in Austin Attracts Global Industry Leaders and Attendees

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·19 December 2017
HEDNA (the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) is gearing up to host the Global Distribution Conference from January 29 through the 31, 2018. Leaders and experts from across the globe will meet in Austin, Texas for three days of technology and industry-focused keynotes, networking, breakout sessions and discussions.Innovation in Technology is the theme of this year's conference and the action packaged agenda is set to deliver the most comprehensive information, insights, and dialogue on emerging trends that impact the hotel industry. Across the educational tracks at the event, each session will present a snapshot of the most transformative ideas shaping the future of hotel distribution from tech industry leaders, hoteliers, entrepreneurs, executives, influencers and more. HEDNA, in cooperation with Tnooz, is also organizing and producing a "Hackathon" focusing on AI and emerging technologies in Hospitality.On its way to selling out, the conference has attracted top delegates from hotel chains, multi-properties, independents, management companies, technology innovators and many others. Attendees and sponsors include:HiltonWyndham HotelsHomeAwayExpediaInterContinental Hotel GroupDisneyMGMDuettoWorldPayOnyx CenterSourceMarriottCitizenM HotelsOmni HotelsSnapShotIDeaSTriometricsDHISCOPegasus SolutionsDataArt TravelhospitalityPulseCloudbedsDerbySoftKognitivSabre Hospitality SolutionsWEXLeonardoReviewPro"This is an incredibly dynamic time in our industry," said Sarah Fults, president of HEDNA. "It's vital that we engage in meaningful discussions and collaboration. This conference provides an amazing opportunity to do that. We are so proud to be attracting such great hotel and technology companies who are all focused on advancing the hotel distribution landscape."Another highlight of the event is the Innov8 session. During this interactive forum, eight leading professionals from our industry will share their innovations in eight-minute engaging presentations. Best of all, this year an award will be presented on the last evening of the conference to the best Innov8or.For more information and to register or sponsor, please visit AustinHEDNA.com.About Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA)HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) is a not-for-profit trade association whoseworldwide membership includes executives and managers from the most influential companies in thehospitality industry. Founded in 1991, HEDNA's mission is to be the leading global forum for advancinghospitality distribution through collaboration and knowledge sharing. Its vision calls for HEDNA to beknown for creating an environment that fosters strategic collaboration toward business development inthe global hospitality industry. For more, visit www.HEDNA.org.HEDNA CONTACT:Ann CramptonHEDNA Associate Director529 14th Street, NW, Suite 750Washington, DC 20045T +1 202 204 8400acrampton@hedna.org
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HEDNA Data Analytics Survey Generates Significant Industry Response, Results to be Presented at Austin Conference in January

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·30 November 2017
After launching its Hotel Analytics Working Group Survey only six weeks ago, HEDNA (the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) today announced a record-breaking first completion rate of over 1100 participants, who represent 45,000 hotels based on the submissions from international chains, hotel groups and independent hotels. The results of the comprehensive study will be presented at HEDNA's upcoming conference with plans to keep the survey open until Summer 2018.For more information and to register for HEDNA's Global Distribution Conference taking place January 29-31st in Austin, Texas, please visit AustinHEDNA.com.HEDNA's Hotel Analytics Working Group, co-chaired by David Turnbull (Co-Founder, SnapShot) and Matthew Goulden (CEO, Triometric) designed the survey to host a broad range of questions related to how hotels manage their data, including critical topics like the impact of integrations, cost of distribution and data reliability. The impressive sample size will enable solid analysis of identified trends, positive factors as well as efficiency shortfalls and opportunities to optimize channel mix and other operational areas. The success of the quality and quantity of respondents to the survey further underpins HEDNA's leadership position, at a time when data across all industries is increasingly vital to competitive survival.Sarah Fults, president of HEDNA, commented "With global coverage across many different categories, this survey represents one of the largest respondent samples in the industry. With the support of our members and Allied members, we were able to reach and gain valuable insights from hotels chains, multi-properties, independents, management companies and many others. We are keeping this survey open to gather as much input from hoteliers as we possibly can. Our goal is to bring together hoteliers and trusted partners to identify the facts that define the distribution landscape today and HEDNA is proud to be focusing one of our working groups on this important effort."HEDNA's leadership will leverage the insights to develop unique global and regional perspectives on how data is collected, stored and used from a distribution perspective. The first wave of these results is now being converted into actionable best practice guidelines to educate hotels globally on how best to use their data to optimize both the hotel's profit potential and long-term asset value."It is now more imperative than ever to fully embrace the data that impacts the hotel industry on a daily basis," stated Rajesh Vohra, Managing Director of Sarova Hotels. "The challenges that hoteliers face in managing not only their distribution strategy but fully understanding the costs associated with distribution and 3rd party interactions needs to be met head-on. Having an association like HEDNA targeting this challenge and helping the industry implement best practices is welcomed."Anyone wishing to participate in the survey should visit via https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HEDNA-analytics-survey. To learn more about the HEDNA Analytics Working Group, visit hedna.org/hotelanalytics_wgc.About Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA)HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) is a not-for-profit trade association whoseworldwide membership includes executives and managers from the most influential companies in thehospitality industry. Founded in 1991, HEDNA's mission is to be the leading global forum for advancinghospitality distribution through collaboration and knowledge sharing. Its vision calls for HEDNA to beknown for creating an environment that fosters strategic collaboration toward business development inthe global hospitality industry. For more, visit www.HEDNA.org.HEDNA CONTACT:Ann CramptonHEDNA Associate Director529 14th Street, NW, Suite 750Washington, DC 20045T +1 202 204 8400acrampton@hedna.org
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Puzzle Partner and HEDNA Join Forces to Deliver Quality Content for the Hotel Industry

Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 9 November 2017
Leading travel and hospitality technology marketing agency Puzzle Partner, today announced their latest alliance with HEDNA, a global forum dedicated to the advancement of hospitality distribution anchored by a fundamental belief in strategic collaboration and knowledge sharing. HEDNA is making bold moves to lead the category and is looking to Puzzle Partner to support their initiatives and help take the association's industry impact to the next level.Puzzle Partner will be distilling and condensing working group content to ensure that HEDNA members are receiving valuable updates tailored to their needs and business, which will, in turn, also assist in driving membership for the association on a larger scale. The agency will utilize their team of writers, each with significant proficiency and insights relating to the hotel industry, to support the content and delivery of HEDNA specific publications. With the onset of this new engagement, Puzzle Partner continues to expand its reputation as the preferred marketing agency and content provider for the travel, tourism and hotel industry."The HEDNA community creates critical, relevant content that benefits everyone in hospitality and Puzzle Partner is the right choice for us as we broaden our scope," said Sarah Fults, President of HEDNA. "It is now even more imperative that hoteliers worldwide be fully aware and educated on the dynamics of hotel distribution so that they can make the best strategic decisions regarding where and how they sell their rooms inventory."HEDNA encourages an open exchange of information, continued professional development amongst members and the global conferences focused on the latest trends and dialogue in hotel distribution. This variety of expertise lends itself to the continuous advancement of member education, a core concept which HEDNA is focused on. The non-profit organization will be hosting its next Global Distribution Conference in Austin, Texas from January 29th-31st. The event is a renowned international networking opportunity dedicated to sharing the latest information, insights, and dialogue on emerging trends that impact the hotel industry. Sessions run during the conference will provide participants with the very best in transformative ideas and information as they relate to hotel distribution, shared by industry leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, influencers and more.Alan Young, president of Puzzle Partner, adds, "The delivery of top-tier content to specific hotel-centric outlets and social networks will deliver greater brand and working group visibility, an on-going benefit to both the association and its members. We are honored to be working with the talented team at HEDNA to inspire hoteliers and very much looking forward to a very successful long-term relationship."For more information about Puzzle Partner, visit puzzlepartner.co.About Puzzle PartnerPuzzle Partner Ltd. is a boutique marketing agency focused exclusively on complex B2B initiatives for the travel and hospitality technology industry. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering influential content, marketing services, and public relations rooted in the skills of our team and tested through real-world experience, we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.About HEDNAHEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) is a not-for-profit trade association whose worldwide membership includes executives and managers from the most influential companies in the hospitality industry. Founded in 1991, HEDNA's mission is to be the leading global forum for advancing hospitality distribution through collaboration and knowledge sharing. Its vision calls for HEDNA to be known for creating an environment that fosters strategic collaboration toward business development in the global hospitality industry. For more, visit HEDNA.org.

Using Agile Marketing in 2018 to Maximize Results, While Minimizing Risk

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·18 October 2017
It's no secret -- the process of building out your 2018 business plan and marketing strategy can, more often than not, feel like gambling. Are you going to wager all your chips (marketing dollars) on black or red, odd or even? Should you make a high bet, or an inside bet? What happens if your bet is a bust? Did you just gamble away the potential success of your business or product?What if we told you that you could minimize that perceived risk, while maximizing results? Typically, the missteps experienced in marketing strategies (especially those specific to content marketing) stem from the misunderstanding of preferred content streams and social platforms popularly used by the target consumer, their core values and their subsequent buying behaviors and motivation(s). The problem here is, if a critical misunderstanding exists, but a company goes full steam ahead on that misinformed idea using the bulk of their marketing budget, recovery isn't always a walk in the park. And no one is exempt from this experience; even industry giants such as Pepsi and Dove (to use recent examples) have felt the effects of poorly developed or executed, high budget marketing campaigns that promptly imploded on a very public scale, leaving their PR teams scrambling to pick up the pieces and re-strategize.Large-scale marketing campaigns can also take a great deal of time to develop, approve and implement -- leaving companies at the mercy of a marketing landscape that is, more often than not, rapidly shifting to align with evolving consumers. Basically, if you take too long to come to the table, there might be nothing left waiting for you. This is where the concept of Agile marketing comes into play. The Agile marketing methodology revolves around the efficient implementation of mini, micro-campaigns (or critical segments of a larger campaign) that are released in waves using a highly collaborative approach from your entire team. This allows companies to effectively test and gauge consumer response in smaller doses, without utilizing all (or the majority of) their marketing resources in one shot. With an increase in speed, transparency and adaptability of company process, team members can focus effectively on minimal increments of each project until they become suitable for release or testing amongst consumers. After all, it's frequently said that, within the realm of digital marketing, you need to be able to 'fail fast'. If what you're doing isn't working, you want to know now, not later. The Agile approach capitalizes on this understanding, and ensures you are never putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Instead, you're setting yourself up to fail (and more importantly, learn) fast and adapt quicker than your competition, because you can discover an adjustment that needs to be made after a well implemented mini-campaign or test, almost immediately. Basically, to be agile within the marketing sphere, your business has to continuously leverage data and analytics to identify opportunities, roll-out mini campaigns and adjust existing campaigns or solve problems in real time. The entire approach is based on the traditional rugby 'scrum', where the ball is constantly being moved back into play while two teams are huddled together, pushing and crowding around the ball. In order to score, the ball has to be continuously passed backwards. Applying this format to Agile marketing, to be truly 'agile', a team has to be extremely collaborative at all times, with everyone playing their part in moving the ball (a strategy or campaign) forward to score (positive consumer response). A successful Agile marketing campaign requires everyone on the team to work towards a common goal, understanding that the process is, at it's core, entirely iterative and subject to continuous evolution. When a company is truly agile, they should be able to run hundreds of campaigns simultaneously, while constantly producing new ideas each week.The results speak for themselves. According to Mckinsey, "Even the most digitally savvy marketing organizations, where one typically sees limited room for improvement, have experienced revenue uplift of 20 to 40%. Agile also increases speed: marketing organizations that formerly took multiple weeks or even months to get a good idea translated into an offer fielded to customers find that after they adopt agile marketing practices, they can do it in less than two weeks." So, what does an Agile strategy actually look like?As a great case study example, the Extended Campuses of Northern Arizona University had always used a traditional marketing model, which consisted of annual budgets which fueled 50 or so marketing initiatives throughout the year. As the University become more aware of the rapid pace of the digital marketing realm, they realized they needed to change their process to adapt, remain efficient and relevant.That's when they discovered Agile marketing. Instead of relying on annual plans, they switched to shorter-term bursts of collective focus (one or two months ahead, versus an entire year). This shift in their marketing approach allowed them to be more responsive to their client needs, and move quickly to adopt necessary changes.Instead of assigning a project to a single individual, who then had to push the work through freelance graphic designers and wait through various approval/editing phases, they broke down big projects into smaller, prioritized segments. Within Agile marketing, this breakdown is called a "sprint". The segments were then assigned to individuals (chosen based on skills and availability) within the department, who were able to complete their contributions (creating the collective whole) with ease within two weeks. This not only minimized the time required to complete each project, but the University was able to reduce the amount of outsourced work, which helped to reduce costs. According to the reports, the University has been able to hire more full-time writers and part-time designers, and in 2013 the marketing department created more than 200 collateral pieces-- four times what it produced the previous year. The marketing team limits itself to one hour of meetings a week, with twice-weekly 15-minute "scrum" meetings which help team members to remain accountable and share information without wasting time. Their productivity is up 400%, and sprint tasks have a nearly 95% completion rate.Ask yourself, is your business in need of Agile marketing makeover?

Why Travel & Hospitality Brands Can't Ignore the Power of LinkedIn Pulse for B2B Marketing

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·14 September 2017
As a hotel or travel brand, if you're not focusing your attention on LinkedIn Pulse, you're missing out on a potentially huge opportunity and audience. In April 2017, LinkedIn reached an impressive milestone, as it confirmed over 500 million people use its professional social network. Yet the platform often doesn't enjoy the same level of affection nor respect as other, seemingly more trendy networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.Today's consumers and executives, regardless of industry, are looking for transparency, not self-serving promotion. LinkedIn Pulse offers an incredible vehicle to meet this demand by publishing content, which highlights the authentic side of a business with advice and insights from leaders and executives.LinkedIn's Place in the Social Media LandscapeResearch shows that 89% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content, more than any other social media platform and second only to email.However, there's a more valuable statistic - its effectiveness.According to LinkedIn, 80% of B2B social media leads come from the platform, with 43% of companies directly sourcing a new customer via this route. A report by the Content Marketing Institute states that 94% of B2B marketers regularly use LinkedIn to distribute content. It is also the most potent lead generator and boasts of a visitor-to-lead ratio that is three times higher than its competitors.If you want to tap into the power of LinkedIn, one of the best places to focus your attention is where blogging deftly combines with social networking: LinkedIn Pulse. The feature is not available on company pages, however, if your personal account is linked to your business account through your bio, your posts will raise the profile of your company, too.Pulse is an investment; it will take time and should not be viewed as a quick solution. Experts agree that while your audience for Pulse articles may start small, consistent posting and engagement with relevant groups will inevitably grow your audience and influence.The Influence of LinkedIn PulsePulse has come a long way since its introduction as an app for Apple's iPad in 2010. It's now an easy-to-use interface directly integrated into your LinkedIn newsfeed, which is ideal for publishing long-form content.Posts appear in the newsfeed of your primary connections and are ranked in Google. However, there's great potential for increasing your reach beyond your established audience.Here are six fundamental benefits to engaging the power of LinkedIn Pulse in hotel and travel B2B marketing.1. You Have a Built-In AudienceIt can be difficult to build an audience simply by posting content on your company blog and distributing it across social media channels. Pulse gives you a head start, as your connections and followers automatically receive a notification when you publish, and your article appears directly in their newsfeed. According to LinkedIn, 6 out of every 10 LinkedIn users are interested in industry insights--the most-demanded type of content among LinkedIn members.However, don't replace your company blog with Pulse, but use them as complementary platforms, each reaching a different audience.2. Drives New Visitors to Your Website and Generates Quality LeadsLinkedIn Pulse is the most effective social media platform for driving new visitors to your website. Include a link to your company blog, landing page, or products and services pages in your post, as an easy route to your site. LinkedIn's a business-focused network, so readers are actively looking for information and are naturally more likely to engage. Include a clear CTA in your content to nudge them in the right direction.3. It's Excellent for SEOThe fact that each article you publish on LinkedIn Pulse is automatically ranked by Google, combined with its impressive ability at sending new visitors to your website, means Pulse is a highly effective part of your SEO strategy. Plus, because the platform experiences such high volumes of traffic, your Pulse posts are highly likely to have a natural boost in the SERPs.4. Showcases Your Professional Expertise & Thought LeadershipsThe more authority your business demonstrates, the more sought after your services will be. In fact, thought leadership led to 41% of C-Suite executives including a company in an RFP opportunity and more than half of C-Suite decision makers have lost respect and admiration for an organization because of its poor thought leadership content.By regularly publishing rich, long-form content discussing industry news and educational articles, you're positioning yourself as a thought leader in your field and building credibility for your brand.Focus your attention on topics you specialize in, and always write with your target audience in mind. But don't just hit publish and walk away. Hang around to reply to comments, answer questions and comment on other relevant posts, and participate in LinkedIn Groups. It's all helps to cement your reputation.5. Increases Brand Awareness, Credibility & TrustDifferent social media networks attract slightly different audiences, and many companies will focus their attention on one or two networks. By publishing to LinkedIn Pulse, you have yet another opportunity to distribute your content and increase your brand visibility and builds credibility. You'll reach a much wider audience, build influence, and have an advantage over your competitors that don't use the platform effectively.Maximize impact by promoting your LinkedIn content to your email list, join relevant LinkedIn groups to share your posts with, cross-post to other networks, and ask your readers to share/like/comment on your content for an extra boost.6. Provides Useful AnalyticsLinkedIn provides us with lots of useful analytics, such as who visits our profiles and reads our Pulse posts. You get some nifty metrics, including a demographic breakdown of your audience and details of those who read, liked, shared and commented on your posts. Depending on the type of LinkedIn account you have, you can add these people to your contact list. If they've interacted with your content a handful of times, reach out to them. You could gain a new customer.77% of B2B marketers plan to increase their use of LinkedIn in the future. Strategic use of LinkedIn Pulse can elevate your company's marketing plan to the next level, with dramatic results for your business. With 50% of LinkedIn members reporting they're more likely to buy from a company they engage with on the platform, it could be a game changer for your social media marketing strategy.Are you using LinkedIn as part of your marketing strategy? If so, please share what's working and what isn't @AlanEYoung.
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WITHorg Set to Play a Role in Advancing Workplace Equality in Tourism and Hospitality Industry

Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 6 September 2017
With only two weeks left before its inaugural launch on September 18th, the Women in Tourism and Hospitality (WITHOrg.com) conference is set to empower, inspire and motivate change for female leaders.Themed "Moving the Needle," the all-day conference will recognize and give visibility to the extraordinary talent and service of phenomenal female executives who are leading the way and making significant contributions to the industry. To purchase tickets to attend the "can't-miss" event, please click on this link - PURCHASE TICKETS.In a traditionally male-dominated industry, an increasing number of women are entering the industry and assuming top positions, but the reality is few women make it to the upper echelon of management. "It's a fact that men hold most senior management positions," says Anne Larcade, co-founder of the conference and a global organization, WITHorg, whose aim is to foster professional development amongst women."We're hoping that the industry comes together to promote this very important initiative," says Rosanna Caira, co-founder of the conference. "By asking key questions within the industry and sharing best practices, companies can help drive the necessary changes that will allow women the necessary tools and skills set to progress to upper management roles. Our immersive panels and workshops featuring representation from diverse companies such as Air Canada, Marriott, and McDonald's Restaurants of Canada will be insightful and instructive."By sharing best practices, the conference will look at practical solutions for change. "When it comes to hiring for new positions, is your company embracing research-driven practices that reduce bias? Does your employer embrace pay transparency or other accountability measures for providing equal pay for equal work? Are they promoting equal parental leave policies that enable working parents to thrive?" asks Caira.The mission-driven thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and professionals will gather and also make the world a better place by amplifying the needs of three distinct charities: Special Needs DreamWorks; The Tory Day Fund and Worlds Collide Africa. Co-founders Larcade and Caira are using the conference and membership as a platform for social enterprise to help women and children. All three charity founders will be in attendance at the conference highlighting how even one person can make a difference.WITHorg offers women and men in the tourism and hospitality sectors an opportunity to join the collective movement to advocate for fair workplace policies, incubate change and network. Participants at the conference or as members include company presidents and CEOs, hotel general managers, Human Resources executives as well as executive chefs, food and beverage professionals and airline executives."Women's leadership advancement is slowly reaching a tipping point," says Larcade. "Women's voices are rising. But so are those of supportive men -- especially ones in senior-leadership positions. Smart, progressive companies are finding ways to incorporate both men and women into the process of attracting, retaining, and advancing women in the workplace. Tourism and hospitality operators have a global opportunity to disrupt our industry and make meaningful change.""When men's voices join women in advocating for these policies on the corporate, national and global levels, we double our collective power," adds Larcade.Become a member of WITHorg and receive $100 off the conference registration.WITHorg is actively seeking sponsors and champions to help lead the worthwhile collective. For additional information on sponsorships, contact Rosanna Caira atrcaira@kostuchmedia.comAbout WITHOrg Women in Tourism and Hospitality OrganizationWITHorg (Women in Tourism and Hospitality Organization) is dedicated to the advancement of women in the tourism and hospitality industries. With support from industry partners, WITHorg delivers impactful leadership skills development for talented, high potential women, including shared stories and experiences of women executives. Ongoing training and networking opportunities and performance matrix also deliver innovative research on diversity in the tourism and hospitality industry to members. WITHorg is a social-enterprise movement supporting Specialneedsdreamworks ; worldscollideafrica; and the ToryDayfund.To learn more visit withorg.com.
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Women in Tourism and Hospitality Announces Speaker Lineup for Inaugural Conference in Toronto

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·10 August 2017
Women in Tourism and Hospitality (WITHOrg.com), an organization dedicated to the advancement of women in the tourism and hospitality industries, today announced the program lineup for its upcoming inaugural conference taking place in Toronto on Sept. 18, 2017, at the Park Hyatt Hotel.The exciting roster of speakers and panelists includes Kirstine Stewart, Chief Strategy Officer of Diply GoViral as the keynote speaker and Kathleen Taylor, Chair Royal Bank of Canada and past President and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels will open the conference. Marriott, Air Canada, Host Hotels, Tourism Toronto, have all climbed on board. Proudly presented in association with Hotelier magazine and Sequel Hotels & Resorts, this inspiring collective will allow delegates to learn from thought leaders and hear first-hand success stories which have the potential to change individual lives and corporate diversity initiatives. Interactive panels and workshops will create collaborative exchanges. A full list of speakers and event schedule can be accessed at www.withorg.com/women-in-tourism-hospitality-conference.WITHorg was founded by two industry icons, Anne Larcade, president & CEO of Sequel Hotels and Resorts and Rosanna Caira, Editor & Publisher at Kostuch Media, which publishes Foodservice and Hospitality magazine and Hotelier magazine. The organization operates as a network of collaborative-curated community members, whom all use the network to leverage platforms for leadership and expansion of women's training in removing barriers towards an equal society.Become a member of WITHorg and receive $100 off the conference registration."Our movement and tribe, WITHOrg, is all about curating and connecting mission-driven entrepreneurs, women in travel and tourism, who are making a real impact in the world," explains Anne Larcade, co-founder of WITH. "We believe that dreamers, inventors, entrepreneurs, and innovators in our companies are the key to real social change. Our role is to talent scout these superheroes and to find champions to help 'move the needle' and narrow the gender gap."McKinsey Global Institute (2015) reports stronger performance in companies with women in leadership positions and many use dedicated programs to develop women executives for a broad range of industries. However, most tourism and hospitality industry companies are not driving leadership development of this caliber internally. WITHorg's goal is to provide solutions and be thought leaders globally on how this can be driven, measured and celebrated."Women make up a considerable percentage of the front line in our industry, yet less than 11 percent are in C suites roles, and approximately 7 percent are speakers at top hospitality industry conferences." This is an imbalance," Larcade states."Our immediate goal is to provide information, skills, and networks to help women in their careers, while at the same time create and measure initiatives to enrich companies with actual strategies to improve and measure diversity in the workplace," adds Rosanna Caira.WITHorg is actively seeking sponsors and champions to help lead our collective. For additional information on sponsors contact Rosanna Caira atrcaira@kostuchmedia.comTo purchase tickets to attend the can't miss event, please click on this link - PURCHASE TICKETS. About WITHOrg Women in Tourism and Hospitality OrganizationWITHorg (Women in Tourism and Hospitality Organization) is dedicated to the advancement of women in the tourism and hospitality industries. With support from industry partners, WITHorg delivers impactful leadership skills development for talented, high potential women, including shared stories and experiences of women executives. Ongoing training and networking opportunities and performance matrix also deliver innovative research on diversity in the tourism and hospitality industry to members.To learn more visit withorg.com.
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Hotel News PR Delivers News Releases Directly to Hotel and Travel Media, Influencers, and Top News Sites

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·17 May 2017
Today is the official launch of Hotel News PR, the first-of-its-kind press release distribution service dedicated exclusively to helping brands get their news delivered to thousands of media contacts and industry insiders in the hotel and travel industry. Through engagements with PR Newswire, media monitoring platforms, and leading online outlets, Hotel News PR offers a turnkey way for hotels, technology providers, startups, lifestyle brands, agencies, and marketers to get maximum visibility at the best price of using a single portal.Powered by Puzzle Partner, Hotel News PR is a unique press release distribution environment, whereby users can gain access to a targeted audience of journalists, media, and consumers looking for the latest happenings in the travel and hospitality niche. With tiered packages, guaranteed placement options, and expert writing services, organizations can build brand awareness, boost SEO and increase sales. The service offers the ideal way to gain exposure for new partnerships, funding announcements, new integrations, client wins, company news, tradeshow invites, product launches, or "evergreen" story pitches."We recognize that the hospitality industry requires a very targeted approach to marketing, but the current generalized news distribution services available cast a wide net with limited results," explains Alan Young, President of Puzzle Partner. "We decided to launch Hotel News PR as a way to centralize the process of content syndication with a simple pay per release plan that does not require a retainer, membership fee or monthly contract. Our proprietary list of contacts as well as our preferred partnerships enables us to streamline distribution and help users save time and money. We believe that this model is the future of specialized news and content distribution."Having pioneered the commercial news distribution industry over 60 years ago, PR Newswire, a Cision company, ranks #1 with journalists and bloggers as the most trusted news source and has 35,000 active PR Newswire for Journalists community members. A recent case study demonstrated results through PR Newswire garnered increased revenue, brand awareness and 260% more website traffic than all other paid marketing sources combined, including PPC, digital and other advertising revenues. "We are always looking for visionary partners, and with their proven background in the hotel and travel industry - Puzzle Partner is the perfect fit for this initiative," said Amanda Eldridge, Director, Strategic Channels at PR Newswire. "Working alongside Puzzle Partner and combining our offerings to launch Hotel News PR will ultimately enable B2B and B2C hospitality companies to scale their business as it relates marketing and communications."To learn more, visit HotelNewsPR.com.About Hotel News PRHotel News PR is the only distribution service that delivers your message to a targeted audience of journalists, media, bloggers and influencers looking for the latest happenings in the travel and hospitality market. Through a preferred partnership with PR Newswire and leading hotel industry specific outlets, hospitality and travel brands can use the centralized online portal to get their news and content syndicated to thousands of business, lifestyle, consumer, technology and business sites across the globe (AP, NYT, Yahoo! Finance, MarketWatch, and more). With expert writing services, guaranteed placement options, and no monthly fees or long term contracts, Hotel News PR is the most efficient and affordable way to drive demand, engage audiences, enhance client relationships, and build investor confidence in the hotel and tourism industry.
Article by Alan Young

The Impact - And Importance - Of Virtual Reality in the Hotel Industry

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·12 May 2017
AR essentially takes virtual reality (VR) to the next level. Instead of immersing users in a different world, AR superimposes digital content over the real world. AR captured the world's attention with the success of Pokemon Go in the summer of 2016. Pokemon Go is a game where players hunt and capture Pokemon, tiny virtual creatures, that are hiding in real-world locations and visible only in a smartphone camera view.According to a recent Phocuswright analysis, "Tech's Fourth Wave Meets Travel," travel companies and hotels can learn a lot about future opportunities associated with AR from the Pokemon Go phenomenon, including the ability to engage guests, generate demand, and how the virtual world inspires real-world action that can translate into real revenue. And with investors pouring $2.3 billion into VR/AR startups, this immersive tech is set for rapid growth.Hotels from big brands to budget boutiques are slowly entering the AR arena. While big brands may use expensive connected glasses or mounted headsets such as Microsoft's HoloLens, many hotels rely on proprietary apps and AR-enabled smartphone browsers to do the heavy lifting. Users can aim their phone camera at a point of interest to receive images along with added information. Implementing an AR strategy using smartphones is an effective plan for hoteliers considering that 43 percent of tech-loving Millennials are on their phones every five minutes, 83 percent sleep with them, and now at 83.1 million strong, Millennials are poised to become the biggest customer segment for hotels worldwide.Hotels must step up their "technological game" if they hope to differentiate themselves and engage with this lucrative market. Let's look at some key ways AR technology will impact the hotel industry.Booking Rooms. AR technology will allow potential guests to explore rooms before they book. Travelers will be right there inside the room to see exactly what different sizes and floor plans are available. Potential guests may be persuaded to upgrade to a suite by seeing the additional amenities, incredible views and how spacious it is.Exploring the property. Instead of relying on website images and ordinary paper brochures, potential visitors will learn what a hotel stay "feels" like. Through interactive experiences, travelers can virtually visit a hotel's restaurant, spa or fitness center. An eco-friendly hotel might take users on a virtual tour of its rooftop herb garden or show off green building materials, helping to build customer loyalty. The Mansion at Casa Madrona uses an augmented, printed brochure that can be scanned to immerse the user in the luxurious property.Restaurant experiences. Hoteliers can embed AR content on their restaurant menu, enabling non-native guests to read it in their own language. Taking this a step further, imagine a guest sitting in a hotel restaurant and being able to get suggested drink pairings, read customer reviews and watch how the chef prepares the dish they're considering ordering. At the Inamo restaurant in London, AR images are projected onto the tables letting guests choose their own table theme.Local attractions. Guests often choose their hotel based on its proximity to area attractions. AR tech will not only allow users to view a hotel location but can also recreate significant historical events or cultural experiences of nearby destinations. Hoteliers could add an AR feature to their existing proprietary apps similar to "Paris, Then and Now" which shows users what different sites in Paris looked like in the past, based on where they're standing. Or guests can virtually try a local activity, such as a hang-gliding adventure, before choosing to go. In addition, opportunities for the hotel to advertise other services grows the longer a guest spends interacting with their app.Marketing. Hotels can leverage AR tech on their website or billboards placed in airports and high-traffic areas. Scanning through a smartphone camera will trigger images and information about the hotel. A beachside resort may entice potential visitors by immersing them in a video from the viewpoint of a guest lounging in the sun while sipping a cocktail, a promotion for their happy hour drinks hovering in the foreground. AR will increase guest satisfaction as well because they'll know what to expect before they book.Hotel Management. AR will also impact business and back-of-house operations. The advanced tech can bring blueprints and artist renderings to life, letting potential investors clearly envision the end result. And in the realm of staff training, hotels can create real-life scenarios that teach skills and help employees more effectively interact with guests.Although the AR trend for hotels is still in its early stages, it may not be long before cutting-edge virtual environments that include the feel of ocean breezes or the scent of cooking food become mainstream. The rapid adoption of Pokemon Go demonstrates how ready people are to embrace this innovative new tech trend, and hotels that ignore it will find themselves left behind. It's clear that AR has a profound role to play in the future of the hotel industry.

The Travel Booking Conundrum: Closing the Gap Between Browsing and Transacting on Mobile

Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 7 March 2017
During the summer of 2016, Puzzle Partner was lucky enough to become a business partner with Phocuswright, the unrivaled leader in travel intelligence and research. In their latest report titled "U.S. Mobile Shipping and Booking," Phocuswright addresses one of the biggest challenges for travel and hospitality brands in today's mobile-centric world; how to ensure that consumers book trips and hotels after their search process is completed and that they finalize their booking where they searched - using the mobile app.In this insightful report, there is some incredible information that every company in the travel industry yearning to perfect their booking technology delivery mechanism should understand. Three key elements reviewed in this research are:How travelers shop and bookWhere they shop and bookWhy they book on mobileOne of the most interesting facts derived from this study is that people booking hotels using mobile devices has actually slipped over the past year. Air shopping and booking have too declined from 2015 to 2016. In terms of the marketing funnel, the digitally connected travel shopper is using the mobile channel for the awareness and interest stage in their buyer journey. How is this possible?We see the impact of mobile use and its direct effect on buying in many areas of commerce. In fact, from 2014 to 2015 there was a 174% increase in mobile usage during the Black Friday sales*. The article from digitalturbine.com referenced below also pointed out that, in the retail sector, 88% of people use retail apps and for every four users that install a new retail app, one person purchased an item within the first 24 hours. Also, one in every three shoppers used their phone to make a purchase during Black Friday. These stats suggest that this area appears to be moving along at quite am impressive pace.So back to the original question. How and why is there a decline in mobile shopping and booking for travel and hotels? One of the underlying factors behind the slight dip is the changing mobile traveler population. In the past it skewed heavily younger toward millennials, but more older travelers start to acquire and use smartphones for some aspects of travel, but not booking. This is a natural cycle in how populations adopt new technology. Makes sense. The online travel purchaser is now getting older, and this will impact habit and behavior. We will even see this propensity become more prominent as time goes on.Smartphone shoppers tend to visit more sites to gather their information, and they are quite a bit younger. One in five smartphone shoppers are between 18 and 24, and they are not brand loyal. This is a huge concern for brands, and they will most assuredly be addressing this issue as a top priority ASAP. It also appears that airlines carry more clout than hotel brands as smartphone users are more likely to purchase tickets directly via the airlines brand.com, whereas they turn to OTAs to purchase hotel rooms. It seems that younger people prefer to book travel using mobile devices because they are comfortable using their smartphone to do everything for them. It's their social connection tool, their email repository, their internet browser, their gaming devices, their camera and yes, it also works as a phone.So how do companies selling travel online ensure that all the money they have spent on mobile booking apps do not go to waste? By understanding the types of traveler personas and ensuring that their messages are segmented based on these personas. It is clear that age needs to be a consideration, however personas can change based on the type of travel being booked. Is the trip for business or leisure? Are they traveling alone or with family? The list goes on and on. We need to recognize the unique nature of mobile, both in terms of the technologies at play and the shoppers' journey. Those who can bridge the gap, offering a seamless, cross-device booking environment will be able to attract more loyal, valuable omni-channel customers. What's important is giving travelers what they really want: instant, relevant information no matter where they are or what device they're using.We may see these trends change over time, but one thing is for sure, the population is definitely getting older.

Enough Room for Everyone? How Hotels are Meeting the Airbnb Challenge

Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 1 March 2017
Everybody has a place to live. And thanks to Airbnb and other rent-by-owner sites, everybody can turn their spare room into a moneymaking short-term rental. In the taxi industry, this sharing model let Uber crush the cab companies.The situation isn't that dire for hotels, yet; consumers are more likely to take a chance on an unknown provider for a 15-minute car ride than for a five-night stay. That doesn't mean hotels don't have to take the new competition seriously, however. Airbnb's $30 billion valuation is now larger than that of any of its hotel competitors--without owning a single physical property.The threat to traditional hotels is likely to increase as Millennial travelers come to dominate; this generation reached their twenties and started planning their own vacations just as Airbnb started up. Their limited budgets and craving of unique experiences made Airbnb a natural fit for them, plus they prefer the easy online booking, even via mobile devices, that Airbnb offers. A survey by Hipmunk found that 44 percent of Millennials prefer rentals to hotels.Combine that with the American Express report that more Millennials plan to increase travel frequency compared to Boomers (52.8 percent vs. 32.1 percent) and more Millennials plan to increase their travel spending compared to Boomers as well (58 percent vs. 41.3 percent), and the significance of the challenge becomes obvious.Hotels are taking a multi-faceted approach to tackling this challenge. The four main strategies are:Block. Not everybody is happy when their neighbor turns a home into a hotel, and many communities aren't happy about owners who don't collect hotel taxes. Local regulations in major destinations like New York City prohibit short-term apartment rentals, and new laws that impose serious fines may force some listings off the market. While the hotels haven't filed legal action themselves, they've partnered with organizations that oppose Airbnb and run social media and other advertising campaigns in support of restrictions, as well as speaking up at planning commission meetings and other public hearings.Compete in the traditional hotel market. Hotels are attempting to compete with Airbnb in two ways. First, by emphasizing the features that distinguish a hotel from an Airbnb property, and second, by integrating the Airbnb features travelers are seeking into their hotels.There are some travel sectors where hotels naturally have an advantage over Airbnb. It's difficult for Airbnb to match hotels' ability to offer blocks of rooms for meetings or group travel. Business travelers want a consistent level of service, and high-end luxury travelers want responsive, sophisticated service. Although Airbnb is attempting to compete in these markets, they can't yet offer the level of service provided by traditional hotels.Other benefits hotels emphasize are their 24-hours of operation--customers don't have to worry about meeting the owner to pick up the key if their flight is delayed or how to get help if the toilet backs up--as well as security and compliance with safety regulations. Hotel loyalty programs help draw repeat business.To attract customers who want the unique, personalized experience of staying in an Airbnb property, hotels are working to individualize their properties so they feel more boutique. Some hotels are now offering original guidebooks written by locals, while chains are creating collections of properties, like Hilton Curio, where the hotels are distinctive rather than cookie-cutter.Compete in the short-term rental market. Some hotel chains are competing against Airbnb on Airbnb's turf. Accor acquired onefinestay, which lists upscale homes, and the hotel chain is providing concierge services to the listed properties. Another chain moving into home rentals is Choice Hotels, which offers Vacation Rentals by Choice Hotels. Stays at Choice's vacation properties earn points in the hotel's loyalty program, and points can be used to book either hotel or vacation rental stays.Don't compete; partner. For some hotels, the solution to competing with Airbnb is to partner with the company rather than compete against it. Several smaller hotels now list their rooms on Airbnb's site. For these hotels, Airbnb's reservation fee, which is smaller than the fee charged by major hotel booking sites, makes working with Airbnb attractive. In some cases, hotels provide check-in services for Airbnb properties and allow Airbnb guests access to their amenities, blurring the lines between hotel and short-term rental stays.For hotels, the challenge of Airbnb is real, but not yet fatal. Revenue per available room has increased over the past few years despite all the additional capacity from the sharing economy, and forecasts call for continued growth of close to 4 percent in 2017. With innovative approaches to hospitality spurred by the new competition, hotels are likely to continue to thrive.

Make your digital marketing sustainable with evergreen content

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·By Alan Young
Evergreen content is content that continues to be relevant to your audience well after it is first published. Alan Young, CEO and Co-Founder of Puzzle Partner Ltd., explains how to maximize the effectiveness of this timeless, and highly valuable, content.
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Puzzle Partner Signs Hotel Technology Innovator hospitalityPulse as New Client

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·15 February 2017
Leading B2B travel and hospitality technology marketing agency Puzzle Partner announced today that it has been named agency of record (AOR) for hospitalityPulse, the innovative hotel technology company based in Santa Cruz, California. Puzzle Partner will support hospitalityPulse through strategic and tactical marketing initiatives, including messaging, communications, public relations, and content development.After a thorough search, hospitalityPulse selected Puzzle Partner based on the firm's industry focus and success in working with such notable travel technology brands as StayNTouch, TripCraft, NAVIS, Groupize, and Umapped. "You need a company at your side that not only understands our industry but also has a firm footing in the underlying technology," explains Pierre Boettner, CEO of hospitalityPulse. "It is clear that Puzzle Partner 'gets the industry' and how hoteliers think, and is in the unique position to help take our business to the next level. It was also critical for us to identify an agency that understood the complex B2B sales cycle to attract, engage, nurture and deliver qualified leads. The partnership with Puzzle Partner is off to a strong start, and I am confident that their expertise will help ensure that there's no limit for the future of our company."Founded in 2013, hospitalityPulse is a visionary solution, designed and engineered by hospitality technologists to solve one of the most complex and multi-dimensional problems plaguing hoteliers and their guests. The patent-pending solution ensures optimal room assignment at all times to all guests, and specifically those most valuable to the chain, the brand and hotel management, driving guest loyalty and spend. Too often the issue of incorrect room allocation has a detrimental impact on the hotel and its brand. hospitalityPulse understands that these errors occur from the booking process through the fulfillment process. The challenges of improper room assignment, when faced with direct, OTA and 3rd party booking channels, increases exponentially."hospitalityPulse is an industry pioneer, with a forward-thinking leadership team that has a great deal of experience within the hotel technology space," said Puzzle Partner President, Alan Young. "Pierre and his team are taking on a very definite problem that hoteliers face every day. Their focus and passion for fixing this costly and disruptive issue using sophisticated algorithms and machine learning keep everyone pointed in the right direction. We are honored to be able to contribute to their evolution and further solidify their market leadership position."This announcement comes on the heels of several other new business wins for Puzzle Partner, who continues to expand its roster of top-tier clients and strategic partnerships including the unrivaled provider of travel, tourism and hospitality market research Phocuswright.For more information about Puzzle Partner, visit puzzlepartner.co.About Puzzle PartnerPuzzle Partner Ltd. is a boutique marketing agency focused exclusively on complex B2B initiatives for the travel and hospitality technology industry. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering persuasive marketing content, services and public relations - rooted in the skills of our team and tested through real-world experience - we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.About hospitalityPulsehospitalityPulse was designed by hotel technology and operations veterans tackling one of the most difficult problems hotels are facing: Room Assignment. Our patent-pending optimization mathematical modeling process, combined with an intuitive user interface, is helping hoteliers assign the most optimal room for every guest, every time, with consistent efficiency. Using the multi-dimensional roomPulse inventory engine, hoteliers can automate room assignments to streamline check-in. roomPulse dynamically optimizes each room assignment in real time, all the time. Visit us at www.hospitalitypulse.com.

An Insider's Irreverent Guide to Travel in 2017

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·19 December 2016
It's been a heck of a year, hasn't it? Most of us are ready to say a big Sayonara! to the hangover that 2016 has become. But really, on the whole, the travel industry had a pretty solid year. While next year doesn't register signs of dramatic growth in the number of travelers, it does appear that travelers will spend more when they do travel.[i] Capturing that revenue will be more important than ever with the uncertain political and economic landscapes. Here's where the opportunities are in 2017 to grab some of that market share:"Get the heck out of dodge" takes on a new meaningWe know travel is about getting away from it, but this year, travelers mean business. Travelers desire the feeling of escape more than ever. And even if the destination isn't obscure, the journey may be, with unusual attractions and restaurants on the itinerary. As travelers search for hidden treasures, I'm guessing this is the year of even more interest in off-the-beaten-path vacation rentals and indie hotels.Travelers become more patientIf there's a level of service higher than on demand, aim for that, because travelers want it two minutes before they even knew they wanted it. It's not fair to put this all on travelers. It's more on the travel industry to respond to something that other industries have already embraced. What on-demand service amounts to at this point is just rethinking processes that have previously been time-consuming that we all know don't have to be. Check-in and room keys, for instance. If Amazon can open a storefront that doesn't require human staff, travelers know that they shouldn't have to stand in line to do something as simple as saying they've arrived. Airlines, hotels et al - it's time to "make it work!" What is more local than local?I'm honestly not sure how much more local "local travel" can get, but we're an intense bunch in this industry. I am sure we can find a way to put local on steroids. Perhaps travelers can sleep on a local's sofa and pick their own dinner from the backyard garden? Seriously, though, Airbnb's November launch of Trips is just one example of the industry responding to traveler desires for increasingly local experiences. And it's not just millennials who want real, local experiences. Turns out Baby Boomers are trending local, too, with 50% reporting they want to dine with locals while traveling and 40% reporting they want to tour with a local.[ii]Your Aunt Ethel's not the only one hearing voices anymoreWake words and IFTTT (If This Then That) are quickly becoming a part of our lexicon. In fact over half of iPhone users use voice recognition, and the number is growing.[iii] Just a couple of days ago Wynn Las Vegas announced each guestroom will have an Amazon Echo, and Apple is on a mission to transform Siri into a direct competitor with Alexa. My point is that the more we embrace voice recognition technology and artificial intelligence, the more it will change the way travelers plan, search, and buy. This means that as an industry, we will need to shift the way we market to travelers.Bleisure? Framily? These terms don't matter. Here's what does. Am I the only person who finds the new word mashups like bleisure a bit annoying? Honestly, we don't need these awkward terms to describe the way people travel. What we need are systems that capture data about travelers and then market to them predictively. Sure, trends are useful to understand, but the capability to understand your individual travelers and their desires and habits exists. Just use the expensive technology you, no doubt, already have at your disposal instead of marketing packages based on some broad idea that the industry threw out there.There's plenty more for me to go on about--bots, distribution, the very real unpredictability of what will happen with travelers this year given the political climate. But what's more important is keeping a close eye on all the microevolutions in the industry and staying on top of technology adoption. Don't let trends like voice recognition or artificial intelligence intimidate you. Instead, read up, hire the right travel technology strategic advisors, and, more than anything, know your travelers and how they are evolving and use that knowledge.[i] Choice 2017 Outlook. HotelNewsNow.com. December 2016.[ii] AARP Travel Research: 2017 Travel Trends. November 2016.[iii] Almost 40% of US Smartphone Users Use Voice Recognition. Parks Associates. Jan 2016.About Puzzle Partner Ltd.Puzzle Partner is a boutique marketing agency that specializes in helping hospitality and travel innovators achieve winning performance and dramatic growth. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering relevant, proven and effective marketing services and public relations rooted in the skills of our people and tested through real-world experience, we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.

Eight reasons why your B2B thought leadership fails

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·12 December 2016
Traditional marketing is losing effectiveness, and more brands are relying on creating connections via thought leadership content marketing to build trust, credibility, influence and sales. It can help to establish your company as the firm with the best knowledge and insights within your marketplace - and if executed strategically, can help you gain access to hard-to-reach decision makers. Research shows 84% of marketers plan to increase their content marketing spend over the next five years but to make the most out your efforts, it's important to understand what is working and what is not. Below are eight reasons why your thought leadership content marketing might not be producing results.You lack big picture strategy and written planWe can define 'content marketing' as a strategic marketing approach centered on creating relevant, consistent and valuable content to attract and retain targeted viewers and, finally to hasten their decision making process. You can't develop thought leadership content effectively without definite objectives and a clear strategy. The first step is to map your content objectives to business goals. Then, hone in on your target audience. In order to build trust, you need to create valuable content for their needs, pains, and interests.Your strategy should be comprised of the topics combined with the media channels through which you will promote your content. Topics should connect to overall themes and meta-themes that tell a unique story about the brand or industry. Your strategy should not be set in stone. Your plan should be flexible. Be thorough, but not rigid. Nimble and ready to change course or direction as needed in your marketplace or niche.You lack resourcesInvesting your resources into content marketing will reduce your costs, while simultaneously generating up to 3x the leads you'd have gotten with native or traditional advertising (source Demand Metric). So don't try and skimp when it comes to your thought leadership budget if you want to see results. TopRankBlog reports that the most effective B2B markets spend 39% of marketing budgets are dedicated to content marketing and 64% of B2B marketers outsource writing. So maybe it's time to look at your marketing mix and make sure you are devoting enough time, resources and money stay competitive. Look for writers (on staff or outsourced) that specialize in your industry to avoid producing generic content that doesn't resonate. Also, you do not want to spend time educating writers as this impacts your overall opportunity costs. Your audience will see right through it and disconnect quickly.You lack industry expertise and dataYour thought leadership content should prove that you understand the business and industry from every angle. That means, if you are a technology company, you need to write about a lot more than technology and appeal to more just the IT audience. Rather, focus on challenges and emerging trends, and how they will affect their business and the industry as a whole. The holistic use of strong research with a tailored content creation strategy is a powerful combination. Seek out third parties, send out surveys or use your company's own client metrics and reports to enable the development of meaningful, data-driven thought leadership. Just don't make the mistake of seeking out complexity - find a story and search for the relevant background data to support your idea.You lack a good content cadenceIf content is king, then cadence is queen. Marketers who are most successful have a documented content marketing strategy, a content cadence calendar, and they're clear on what content marketing success looks like. A good constant rhythm of content delivered consistently over time yields the best results. If you produce content too often, people will tune you out. If you are inconsistent or infrequent, then you lose momentum and trust. Without trust, no one will buy from you. Publishing frequency and consistency can help your audience learn when to expect new content from you. Keeping a consistent schedule makes sure you maximize engagement without hitting any lulls or stretches without updates. In some cases, the right cadence might be once or twice a week; in others, it might be once a month.You lack patienceContent marketing is not like a paid marketing, like Google Adwords that can bring instant results, it is a long-term play that takes the time to show results. Remember that when it comes to content, it is important to think marathon, not a sprint. An effective content strategy requires patience and determination. Many companies make the mistake of giving up on a content strategy too early; make a long-term commitment to your strategy. Consistency is key to building a successful business. According to McKinsey & Company, "the 3 Cs of customer satisfaction" are "consistency, consistency, and consistency."According to a 2017 B2B Content Marketing Trends report, one of the biggest differences between brands who are top performers and those who aren't is level of commitment: 91% of top performers are extremely or very committed to content marketing, compared to 63% of the overall sample and 35% of the bottom performers. So if you're not going to commit to a content marketing strategy fully, don't do it until you can. If you lack resources, seek out an agency that specializes in your industry or market to add more horsepower to your efforts.You are selling instead of storytellingUsing your content as a promotional sales tool instead of a means to educate, entertain and inform will only backfire. You can't force a relationship with prospective and current customers by creating content solely for the sake of your brand. Relationships are mutual. The key is to engage your target audience on an emotional level, entertaining them and enabling them to explore the latest trends while simultaneously demonstrating your brand's understanding of their pain points. Unlike other lead generation strategies, thought leadership marketing gives to prospects, instead of asking them for something. The important thing is that you focus on creating a relatable lens through which your audience will perceive your brand."Major change in digital marketing: Those that pitch are becoming ignored. A little bit of selling here and there is great, but those marketers who do nothing but sell, sell, sell, are gonna get ignored, dismissed and overlooked by consumers and prospects. Get cracking folks, it's time to actually care. That means dedicating more resources to things that are harder to track, like answering customer questions and providing more value online." - Mike Stelzner, CEO, Social Media Examiner (Source)You're not diversifyingPeople consume information in so many ways that if you create content for only one channel or in a single format, you'll miss a large chunk of your potential audience. Make sure you have strategies in place for every channel through which you'll be communicating with your audience and tie it together into a cohesive, omnichannel strategy. Consider using diverse formats that include ebooks, white papers, articles, infographics, case studies, best practice guides, checklists, and other evergreen content with a long shelf life.You're not using LinkedIn to distribute your contentFacebook, Instagram and Twitter may dominate B2C marketing, but in the B2B space, there's no better social hub than LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the number #1 choice for professionally relevant content. This also means that if you want to reach an audience that will fully understand and respond to your content, you need to distribute high-value content using LinkedIn. Content published early in the week tends to get more shares. While Friday is not a great day to publish; it is surprising that content posted on the weekend does relatively well on LinkedIn. To help you achieve this balance, LinkedIn suggests the publishing guidelines below:Status Updates: at least once a day.Long For/Article Publishing: 1-2 times a week.Without a doubt, content marketing, done correctly, can produce dramatic results for your business. However, it takes time and focus on becoming successful at it. Curata reports that 74.2% of companies indicate that content marketing is increasing their marketing teams' lead quality and quantity. Regardless of your next step, don't lose sight of how positioning your company as a thought leader in your niche is a valuable step in the sustainability - and future growth - of your business.About Puzzle Partner Ltd.Puzzle Partner is a boutique marketing agency that specializes in helping hospitality and travel innovators achieve winning performance and dramatic growth. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering relevant, proven and effective marketing services and public relations rooted in the skills of our people and tested through real-world experience, we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.

2016 Phocuswright Conference: Top Picks for Presentations and Exhibitors

Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 9 November 2016
The annual Phocuswright Conference has become the epicenter for travel innovation, providing an exceptional forum for global travel executives to discover and discuss the latest trends and opportunities reshaping the travel landscape. This year's event has a line-up of intriguing presentations from top-shelf visionaries, along with some of the most exciting exhibitors from around the world. One of my favorite segments is The Innovation Summit, where companies battle it out on stage to pitch, demonstrate and face off with the Phocuswright Dragons, a panel of the industry's most informed insiders.Known for its exhilarating atmosphere, the Phocuswright Conference has proven to be one of the most influential travel technology events for more than 20 years. Here are some of my 'can't miss' picks for the upcoming event.Learning From Thought LeadersAirbnb is certainly one of the most disruptive companies out there, and I'm really looking forward to the presentation by Chip Conley, Airbnb's Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy. As a highly respected business leader and author, Conley's attendance promises to offer insights into the future direction for private accommodation and the many challenges that lie ahead in this rapidly evolving landscape.Philippe Chereque, President, American Express Global Business Travel, is focused on modernizing the company's IT in the direction of cloud computing while capitalizing on analytics. Since joining the company two years ago, he has been working on increasing the proactive care for its customers. The company developed an application that automatically sends an SMS text message to travelers when an incident occurs, to meet the increased importance that its corporate customers place on the duty of care. It will be fascinating to learn about the latest concepts coming from Chereque, who has said that "the traveler is the key."Booking.com's position as the world's largest seller of accommodations ensures that the executive interview with the company's CEO Gillian Tans will be a fascinating component of this year's conference. Over the past 14 years, Tans has been an instrumental force in expanding the company to become a global leader in the travel space. Titled "It's All About the Booking," the interview promises to provide insights into hotel direct, travel tech, and the future direction of Booking.com.As the president and CEO of Expedia Inc., Dara Khosrowshahi has led the firm to become one of the largest online travel companies in the world. His executive interview, cheekily titled "Expedia Eats the World," is another must-see event at this year's Phocuswright Conference. Expedia Inc.'s massive footprint includes the operation of more than 150 travel booking sites in over 70 countries around the world. Its extensive portfolio of online travel brands includes Expedia, Hotels.com, Travelocity, trivago, and Egencia. Khosrowshahi's focus on driving innovation and positioning the Expedia brand for future global growth is evident from his success with the company, and I expect his interview to cover a broad range of exciting topics in the travel space.Industry Innovators And DisruptorsIn addition to the opportunity to learn from the top influencers, Phocuswright is an exceptional place to be exposed to highly pioneering brands and technologies that are breaking new ground the market.Airmule was founded in 2015 in Los Angeles to provide a method for people to earn money with their extra luggage space. Promising "affordable express shipping worldwide with trusted travelers," the company's tagline suggests that its potential customers can "ship with people, not boxes." Using the Airmule app, individuals who want to ship something find others who have listed upcoming trips they're taking, and they connect in the app to discuss package details. The two parties then meet to hand off the item, and the sender can track their packages and receive real-time notifications until the item arrives at its destination.Luna provides what it calls "a wedding planner for your honeymoon." The company's web application aims to enhance the online travel-planning experience by providing a collaborative environment where ideas can be shared in real time. The platform also offers pre-designed itineraries to make it easier to plan a honeymoon, while allowing couples to customize the trip to make it suit their particular interests. Luna also provides the ability to chat with its experts to receive assistance in coming up with the perfect getaway for two.Travel Appeal claims to assist hospitality managers with the complex tasks of controlling their reputation and providing exceptional customer service. The company has developed an algorithm that collects, evaluates and calculates the importance of data and subsequently rates each component from zero to one hundred. The platform is intended to save hospitality managers' time by analyzing reviews and posts, monitoring price trends and moves by competitors, and evaluating the quality of web and social media communication, while generating insightful reports to offer methods for improving overall reputation and customer service.Umapped offers the latest in collaborative itinerary and experience management for the travel industry. Available as a white-label or API solution, the platform delivers interactive, media-rich consolidated mobile itineraries with relevant offers, content, messaging and advice to travelers. Umapped helps travel brands, and advisors engage with their customers throughout their travel journey and maximizes productivity by streamlining business workflow. These are just a few of the speakers and companies that will be worth checking out at the event and represent only a small sample of the many inspirational presenters and trendsetters that I look forward to learning more about. If you are going to be at the Phocuswright Conference in LA and would like to connect, please reach out to me on LinkedIn.
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Puzzle Partner, Phocuswright and StayNTouch(r) Team Up to Deliver Content That Matters

Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 2 November 2016
Puzzle Partner, a leading tactical and strategic marketing agency, today announced the success of a partnership with industry leaders Phocuswright and StayNTouch(r). The trifecta of Phocuswright data, StayNTouch's domain experience and innovation, combined with Puzzle Partner's marketing expertise, enables the development of meaningful, research-oriented content for hotel and travel audiences.StayNTouch, the leading provider of cloud-based Mobile PMS and tablet-based solutions for the hospitality industry, recently signed on with Puzzle Partner to power their content marketing strategy, which aligns in-depth Phocuswright intelligence with decades of hands-on industry experience. Puzzle Partner uses superior storytelling skills to frame the research and create branded content, establishing StayNTouch as a thought leader - building influence, authority and connecting them with their target audience in an authentic way. The unique, analytics-based approach enables StayNTouch to help hotels more deeply understand their guest's needs, explore the impacts of future trends, and discover how the latest technology will keep them competitive and profitable."There is a great deal of content these days within the hotel technology sector and having purpose-oriented data helps StayNTouch reach out to prospects on a much higher level by surfacing important business insights," said Jos Schaap, CEO of StayNTouch. "We are continually innovating, and the Phocuswright data shows that we are unquestionably headed in the right direction."Puzzle Partner and Phocuswright currently offer a unique, first to market content development program which uses premium data and analysis from the Phocuswright research library to develop high-level educational articles and white papers that enable brands to tap into the hotel and travel ecosystem and drive results. Phocuswright delivers qualitative and quantitative research on the evolving dynamics that influence travel, tourism and hospitality distribution, that is considered the industry standard for segmentation, sizing, forecasting, trends, analysis and consumer travel planning behavior."Puzzle Partner brings together a comprehensive range of content solutions and services that finally close the gap between research data, content creation, and B2B engagement," explains Alan Young, the company's co-founder, and president. "We are honored to work with category leaders and visionaries like Phocuswright and StayNTouch in bringing insights, education, and tools that are transformational in their impact on our industry."Pete Comeau, Phocuswright's senior vice president of sales, adds, "We are proud to be looked upon as a content enabler. Our partnership with Puzzle Partner and their clients such as StayNTouch shows that the holistic use of strong research with a tailored content creation strategy is a powerful combination." About Puzzle Partner Ltd.Puzzle Partner is a boutique marketing agency that specializes in helping hospitality and travel innovators achieve winning performance and dramatic growth. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering relevant, proven and effective marketing services and public relations rooted in the skills of our people and tested through real-world experience, we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.About StayNTouch(r)StayNTouch is a "Software as a Service" hotel property management systems (PMS) company focused on developing solutions that help hotels raise service levels, drive revenues, reduce costs, and ultimately change the way hotels can captivate their guests. Developed with mobility in mind, the pioneering platform enables hotels to create long lasting relationships with their guests by delivering personalized service levels that today's guests require. StayNTouch operates on tablets and smartphones, empowering hotel employees to go above and beyond in exceeding guest expectations at every touch point.Powering over 65,000 rooms globally, our game-changing solution frees hotels from the constraints of legacy or premise systems, dramatically streamlines operations, increases margins, and revolutionizes how front-line staff connect with guests. StayNTouch is a trusted partner to many of the most forward-thinking hotels, resorts, casinos and chains in the industry, including Yotel, Zoku Amsterdam, Valencia Hotels, The Freehand Hotels, Porto Vista San Diego and the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. To learn more watch our video "THE NEW WAY... TO HOTEL!"About Phocuswright Inc.Phocuswright is the travel industry research authority on how travelers, suppliers and intermediaries connect. Independent, rigorous and unbiased, Phocuswright fosters smart strategic planning, tactical decision-making and organizational effectiveness. Phocuswright delivers qualitative and quantitative research on the evolving dynamics that influence travel, tourism and hospitality distribution. Our marketplace intelligence is the industry standard for segmentation, sizing, forecasting, trends, analysis and consumer travel planning behavior. Every day around the world, senior executives, marketers, strategists and research professionals from all segments of the industry value chain use Phocuswright research for competitive advantage.To complement its primary research in North and Latin America, Europe and Asia, Phocuswright produces several high-profile conferences in the United States, Europe and India, and partners with conferences in China and Singapore. Industry leaders and company analysts bring this intelligence to life by debating issues, sharing ideas and defining the ever-evolving reality of travel commerce.The company is headquartered in the United States with Asia Pacific operations based in India and local analysts on five continents.Phocuswright is a wholly owned subsidiary of Northstar Travel Media, LLC. www.phocuswright.com

Google Trips: A Step in the Right Direction- But Only a Step

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·13 October 2016
Google Trips got a good bit of attention on its recent release in September, but I'm not sure I understand the fanfare. Per Forbes, Google Trips is a "fantastic... travel app you should download now." Many hail it as a personalized travel app, but I'd argue it's not quite there, yet.Here's what it can do. It scours my email to find itineraries and provides quick access to the original emails if I need them. Handy. It keeps my car rental details right there along with the air itineraries. I like this, except I mostly Uber these days. The best part of any of this is that it's available even when I don't have Wi-Fi, which isn't all that often anymore. I'd argue that Google Trips make travel more mobile-friendly.Otherwise, though, Google Trips is basically a smart destination guide. Using a combination of attractions that I select and my search history, Google Trips will craft attraction itineraries guessing at what my interests are. It's a nice feature.But not necessarily innovative.It's a useful tool that integrates some data, but it would be more helpful if it understood that I'm the kind of leisure traveler who flies into a major city, spends one or two nights then heads to the country. It isn't able to pick up much in the way of reservations outside of major cities as far as I can tell, and it definitely doesn't do attractions and restaurants. Not yet at least.What would be a game-changer is to make it more personal. Google Trips is on the cusp of doing this with the itineraries feature, but it must go further than this. It needs to understand how I travel more than it needs to understand what I like to do. What would be useful is to have the app locate where I am and design opportunities for me to get from point A to Point B. For instance, given Google's mapping capabilities, it could tell me which train station I'm closest to when I request an Uber, so I know where to go, or the easiest way to get from mid-town Manhattan to the Upper West side based on where I'm standing.My point is that Google Trips is a step in the right direction, but it's just that, a step. It's not going to revolutionize leisure travel in its current form (nor do I think that was the intent but the media seemed to think it was revolutionary).Where it has the potential to make waves is in shifting our data reliance as travelers. Should we choose to engage with it, it will incrementally give Google more power over our information by encouraging us to rely on Google, Gmail, Maps, Local, etc. more than we do other sources so that we can integrate with Google Trips. Most of us are already reliant on Google for a great deal, but in bits and pieces, it may shift travelers away from aggregators and reviews sites toward Google. Moreover, when Google follows with a booking engine, for instance, the industry might actually feel it this time.Oliver Heckman, VP of Engineering for Google Travel, said that the "master plan is to be the connector that builds awesome travel experiences, qualifies users and then sends them off to the right partners," but he also mentioned that this could eventually look like helping travelers plan and book travel. While this might not occur through Google Trips, it could in an adjacent, integrated app, such as Allo.At this point, I'll use it to get to my travel details. And maybe it's possible that when I'm in the app trying to get to my confirmation number for the millionth time, I'll use Google Local for attractions and restaurants or reviews. Maybe I'll end up skipping the TripAdvisor step eventually, which I suspect was Google's goal.There was some initial stock kick back in the industry among TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Priceline, but Google Trips doesn't really pose a grave risk until it ratchets up the kind of data it integrates so that it can personalize to the traveler, understanding who the traveler is, not what the traveler wants to do. If enough travelers engage with the app, this is likely, but I question how many travelers will rely on it in its current form.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: What will be the Impact on The Travel Industry?

Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 5 October 2016
There has been a great deal of "news" in our industry regarding the implementation and adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) within the travel industry.How will this happen and what will the adoption rate look like? More importantly, in a service based industry, what percentage of traveler will be open to this new wave of technology and who will dismiss it?The emergence of cloud and cluster technology enables the wide implementation of AI and Machine Learning. One of the most obvious choices for this new technology to be adopted is within the B2B framework of our industry. Revenue Management platforms that are being delivered to their clients using the cloud can now make recommendations to both airline and hotel companies based upon a huge amount of data. This data can be sliced and diced and then refactored to help the attributed users of RMS to make the proper pricing decisions on the fly. Now, don't get me wrong, I still think that even though this is indeed capable, it will take a little while for Revenue Managers and their respective companies to just "set it and forget it."Virtual assistants are at the core of AI adoption. Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Google Now and the highest profile solution, IBM's Watson, will become the next evolutionary step in the delivery of service within the hotel industry. The explosion of knowledge that the hotel and travel industry is now able to sift through enables these platforms to become highly intuitive and thus highly leveraged.Skift outlined within an article back in July 2016 that there are a number of startups looking to leverage AI and Machine Learning to change the way service is delivered, or data is consumed and then refactored. These companies include GuestU, Exa, SnapTravel, 30 Seconds To Fly and HelloGbye. Some of the companies are leveraging platforms already in existence, and some are creating chatbots to book the right room or to help out with corporate travel. I am positive there are more out there - however like most startups - they will need the capital to succeed, followed by the speedy and widespread adoption of the solutions. We'll see.In a recent New York Times article, there was a delicious discussion regarding Google and how it is investing resources and money to develop what the author of the article called "Turning the Google Assistant into a 'Star Trek' computer. This is pretty mind-blowing if you think about it. The 'Star Trek' computer can do anything. Anything at all! Imagine having a personal assistant to help with deciding where to go, booking travel, purchasing just the right outfit for the trip and also notifying friends, etc. about your upcoming excursion. Then, if there are any disruptions along the way, the assistant will take care of things for you and help you along the way. The opportunities to implement AI and machine learning are boundless.AI and machine learning technology will take some time to become widely adopted by both the companies that are good targets for these platforms, as well as the end user. However, you can rest assured that this level of advanced data gathering, analysis and the instant return of applicable answers and solutions will only continue to develop and grow, until one day, we may all have our very own personal 'humanoid' assistants like Sophia, Hanson Robotic's latest robotic creation, introduced at SXSW.So what do you think? Will Sophia and her robotic cousins someday bring about a Terminator-style Judgment Day?
Article by Alan Young

12 Reasons Travel and Hospitality Brands Should Boost Their B2B Content Marketing in 2017 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·21 September 2016
and planning time for 2017. I am sure you already see the paradigm shift in the travel and hospitality technology industry ---and it is truly tougher than ever to break through the noise. There's a reason why CMOs at the largest tech brands report that content marketing is the second most important initiative, only behind measuring ROI. In fact, 75% of marketers are increasing investment in content marketing in 2017.These days, if you want your business to succeed, it's not enough to just produce and deliver your product - you have to produce high-quality, engaging content too. Almost half (47%) of B2B buyers consume 3-5 pieces of content prior to engaging with a salesperson and more than half (51%) rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions than they did a year ago.And of course, we should not forget about the fact that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. LinkedIn still remains on the lead, generating 80% of B2B leads - more than Facebook, Twitter or blogs individually.Content marketing is able to create not just brand awareness, but also the perceived and actual value of the products and services that companies offer. In the past, it would take years (and a big budget) to establish that level of credibility and trust. According to a recent B2B Inbound Marketer survey, 95% of B2B buyers are willing to consider vendor-related content as trustworthy. PR Newswire launched a content marketing strategy in an effort to accelerate their sales funnel within a year, the company shortened their sales cycle by 30%.Lots of companies, of course, get this. A whopping 88% of B2B marketers in North America use content marketing and 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn as part of their content strategy. The real success of content marketing lies in that it is a way to showcase your brand's personality and solutions - without being openly promotional, building trust and thought leadership. More and more brands are identifying the power of content marketing, so those who choose to ignore it will undoubtedly fall behind.Digital, mobile and social media have all dramatically changed the way we communicate, interact and develop marketing strategies and tactics. It is a golden age of opportunity for travel brands to create messages that are more personal and engage with their target market to gain visibility, traction, convert visitors to leads, and ultimately increase sales revenues. Simply put, content marketing is a big part of doing business in 2017. If your business isn't already actively producing high quality (not quantity) articles, infographics, white papers, eBooks or reports, now is certainly the time to start.If you're wondering how the right content marketing strategy can benefit your business, look no further. We've outlined key points in the infographic.About Puzzle PartnerPuzzle Partner Ltd. is a trusted content marketing and public relations agency that specializes in helping hospitality and travel technology innovators achieve winning performance and dramatic growth. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering relevant, proven and effective marketing services and public relations rooted in the skills of our people and tested through real-world experience, we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.
Article by Alan Young

R.I.P. Startups: Why 90% of Travel Technology Startups Fail

Puzzle Partner Ltd. · 5 August 2016
One of the hardest truths for entrepreneurs to accept is that as many as nine out of ten startups will fail. In an ecosystem full of enthusiasm and optimism, this harsh reality can be difficult to swallow. However, the fact remains that only a small percentage of travel technology startups actually manage to become viable businesses in the long-term. My biggest frustration is companies that are 'walking zombies'. They do not know they are dead and cling on long after they should have called it quits.At the same time, companies can greatly increase their chances for success by focusing their attention on the things that really matter.Identify A Market Need The most common reason that travel technology startups fail is due to a lack of market need. Although it may seem to be an obvious consideration, many entrepreneurs jump into development without effectively thinking through this essential first step. This can at times be called the "bright shiny object syndrome". The startup has a great idea and then runs with it without truly understanding if there is a need.In order to achieve success, a startup must solve a pain point in the market in a scalable way. Unfortunately, many companies don't focus enough on the viability of attracting potential customers, and instead center their strategy around the product itself. While it is certainly essential to develop an exceptional product, the concept must first be validated with potential customers to ensure that there is a market need. The reality is that many travel technology startups attempt to tackle problems that are interesting to solve rather than providing a product that fills a gap in the marketplace.Differentiate from Competition There is no question that the travel tech industry is highly competitive. When analyzing the companies that have been able to scale greatly, they generally either developed something new where there was a void in the market, or they built something that was much better than what was currently available.Some of the most successful startups, such as Airbnb and Uber, have managed to expand the market on the supply side in order to create new demand for their services. As an example, Airbnb has expanded the accommodation and hospitality market by enabling people to open up their homes to guests. This model provides travelers with new lodging options that are often significantly cheaper than staying at a typical hotel, while keeping the expenses low for Airbnb, as the company doesn't spend any resources on managing the properties.Although it is certainly challenging to determine whether or not a disruptive idea such as Airbnb has the potential to make money, the company's ability to expand the market greatly increased its chances for success.Adapt to The Changing Landscape Modern consumers have extremely high expectations for usability, convenience and immediate information. In order to achieve long-term success, startups must design their systems to be able to adapt to the evolving landscape with flexibility in both the back-end and user interface of their platform.Millennials are a highly sought-after demographic in the travel industry. In general, they are more socially conscious than previous generations and therefore seek out additional information about their purchases. For example, Millennials may want to know whether or not the hotel they'll be staying at in a foreign country pays fair wages to its workers. They are also very likely to be concerned about environmental issues, and may want to utilize as many ecologically-friendly transportation options as possible. Considering the massive amount of money this demographic has to spend on travel, it's certainly worthwhile to pay attention to these preferences when designing a travel technology startup.The Path to Success Although there is a certain amount of luck involved in some travel technology startup success stories, a great deal can be done to increase the long-term growth potential of a new company. The most important factor is ensuring that a startup is either solving a pain point in the market in a scalable way, or providing a significantly better version of a solution that already exists. Once a strong initial plan is in place, it's essential to identify a method to differentiate a company from other competing startups and established players. As the technological and consumer landscapes rapidly evolve, travel tech startups must be able to adapt to meet the growing expectations for convenience and immediacy of information. Companies that are designed with these key factors in mind will be well-positioned to gain initial traction and achieve success in the long-term.
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Cutting Through The Noise: Strategies To Stand Out In The Travel Shopping Journey

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·23 June 2016
Last week I had the opportunity to serve as a panelist on Leonardo's webinar, "Strategies to Thrive in Today's Complex Travel Shopping Journey." In this day and age, it's a topic on every hoteliers mind.The travel industry boasts one of the most complex digital landscapes out there when it comes to consumer browsing and purchasing behavior. Travelers are inundated with a multitude of resources when researching hotels, especially in the 45 days leading up to a purchase. According to Expedia Media Solutions, travelers visit up to 38 travel sites during the travel shopping journey; 15 of which are visited the week of booking!The problem for all hotel marketers is the same; how can I stand out from the noise and win more bookings?This article summarizes much of what I discussed on the webinar, to help hoteliers make a lasting impression on travel shoppers; one that leads to more bookings.Stop selling, start tellingFirst and foremost, focus on the experiences you are delivering to your guests. That is what's going to differentiate you from the crowd. Whether it's the Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood, or any other hotel brand in your market segment, they all offer the same thing - a bed, a bathroom, sheets and towels. What separates one from the other is the experience. Focus on those things you do exceedingly well. Identify what they are and start talking about them on your website.Remember, it doesn't always come down to the best price. If everyone bought on price, then we'd all be staying at the same $59/night motel. We buy based on perceived value. We buy based on emotion. Sure, you're going to get people that are uber price sensitive, but if you can show prospective guests your value, through great stories and fantastic images, then you have a much better chance of winning their business.3 ingredients to a successful hotel websiteYour website should look to create an emotional connection with travel shoppers, so that even prior to their arrival you have exceeded their expectations. You can do this through engaging content, online reviews and ensuring a simple website navigation.The more engaging your content, the more likely travel shoppers are to stay on your site and book. Your website needs to be inviting and super easy to navigate. My advice is to work with companies that produce websites and booking engines that are incredibly easy to use and navigate. You need to make the booking experiencecompelling for travel shoppers, and easier than on other sites.Another important element, which a lot of hotel websites overlook, is the importance of review content. When you go onto an OTA site or metasearch site, their navigation is primarily the same. However, their use of review content is impressive, and integral in helping travel shoppers make a purchase decision. I would suggest hoteliers start reproducing this review content (aka social proof) on their own proprietary sites. A 2014 study by TripAdvisor and PhoCusWright found that consumers read at least 6-12 travel reviews prior to booking. Don't give them an excuse to leave your website to find the reviews they're looking for. Include online reviews everywhere, especially at checkout.The cultivation effectClient advocacy is becoming incredibly important. Solutions such as Flip.to help grow your organic reach by leveraging your own hotel guests. By sharing their authentic stories about your property with friends and family, you can build a team of advocates who have a massive influence on your hotel's reach and bottom line.Client advocacy solutions like this are also worthwhile for uncovering your true hotel story in the eyes of your guests. For example, you might think that your strongest point of differentiation is your level of service, but your guests might think it's your location. Play to your strengths in the eyes of your ideal guest.Meta-review data is also an excellent source for uncovering your property's strengths. While individual reviews provide specific examples of the guest experience, meta-reviews are based upon the aggregate. For example, "76% of people like this hotel for its location" or "35% really didn't like the pool." This type of data should also be displayed on your website (the good stuff at least). It can also be used to help inform areas for improvement. I believe almost every review content provider or aggregator today has a capability to give you this type of information, so be sure to ask for it and put it on your website.Final thoughtsTravelers go down a long and unpredictable path when it comes to planning and booking a trip. Will they visit a lot of sites during their travel shopping journey? Yes, most likely. But there are ways to stand out and make a lasting impression; one that brings them back to your website with their credit card. The key is engaging content, a simplified user experience, and leveraging social proof like online reviews. It's not rocket science, but you'd be surprised how many hotel marketers aren't doing these basic things. And that's where you can gain an advantage.
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Puzzle Partner Signs New Client

Puzzle Partner Ltd. ·21 June 2016
Puzzle Partner Ltd., the preeminent agency specializing in travel and hotel technology marketing services, is pleased to announce the signing of Cloud5 Communications to its elite roster of clients. Focused on revenue generation and business development, Puzzle Partner will support Cloud5 through strategic and tactical marketing initiatives, including rebranding, messaging, public relations, lead generation, and content management.Cloud5 said it selected Puzzle Partner based on the firm's industry focus and success in marketing such notable travel technology companies as LeisureLink, Cornerstone Information Systems, NAVIS, Groupize, and DataArt. "You need that outside perspective and insight in terms of how to best tell your brand story," explains Robert Post, CEO of Cloud5 Communications. "It is clear that Puzzle Partner understands our industry and how hoteliers think. This gives them the unique position to help us fully convey the exceptional integrated solutions and experience found at Cloud5. We believe Puzzle Partner is ideally suited to meet this challenge and take our business to the next level."Cloud5 Communications is the industry leader in cloud-based communications technology and services for some of the world's most notable hotel brands. With over 4000 clients, the company is continually innovating to deliver the ultimate in converged communications solutions to its growing client base."Cloud5 Communications has a distinguished reputation in the hospitality technology industry, and we are honored to be adding another pioneering brand to our client list," said Puzzle Partner President, Alan Young. "We started by identifying Cloud5's key differentiators and brand voice, and then built the strategy around that. Puzzle Partner is dedicated to helping our clients gain traction in a very complex space by leveraging content to connect with their audience, raise their credibility, and ultimately increase their sales revenue. We look forward to a successful business partnership that will bring Cloud5 results for years to come."About Cloud5 Communications:Trusted by over 4000 hotel clients with 1,000,000 users worldwide, Cloud5 Communications is the leading provider of cloud-based telephony solutions, guest Internet, contact centers and communication services for the hospitality industry. Powered by advanced networking and proprietary technology, the company combines a unique understanding of the service drivers and cost restrictions of hotels to deliver high performance, guest-centric, and cost-effective enterprise-wide communications.By better connecting hoteliers to their guests, staff, and the information they need, Cloud5 Communications helps businesses to compete and grow. For more information, please visit www.cloud5.com.

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