All posts by Paul Manzey

Tensions High For Airbnb, New York Attorney General

Airbnb1

The New York Times had a great one-liner relating to the Airbnb case being argued in Albany right now:

“There was no room for agreement, and no agreement about rooms, in court Tuesday in Albany.”

The State of New York and the world’s largest startup have found themselves in a stalemate after the first day of hearings in a case that has taken the travel industry by storm.

Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, has issued a subpoena for Airbnb’s list of hosts in New York City because he thinks some of them are breaking the law.  It is illegal in New York to rent out an apartment for less than 30 days.

Airbnb is arguing that the government’s subpoena is too “extreme and incredible” in scope, as the state of New York is requesting users’ names, emails, the address of the rental, the dates, and the amount charged to rent.  The company sees this as a fundamental attack on its very existence because much of what it offers in New York is short-term rentals in apartment buildings. Continue reading

Airbnb’s New York Listings Illegal?

Screen-Shot-2013-05-21-at-11.10.17-AM

Airbnb has made enormous strides in the Vacation Rental segment of the travel industry in the past year, but a roller coaster week in the media may be threatening the image of this successful startup.

On Monday, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed an affidavit with the state Supreme Court in Albany claiming that the majority of Airbnb listings in New York are illegal.  Schneiderman originally filed the subpoena, seeking user data from Airbnb, in October.  Speculation is swirling that since the company has been in negotiations with the Attorney General’s office for months, a settlement fell apart.

The issue at hand is that subletting for less than 30 days is in general illegal for renters in New York who are not continually residing in their apartment.  For Airbnb, plenty of the nearly 20,000 offerings – 64% on January 31 – listed on the website in New York were for an “entire apartment”, not a shared space, as the law would seem to mandate. Continue reading

Photos the Top Content In Facebook Feeds

Facebook-Blank-status-trick

When you log into your Facebook account today, take notice of the most common posts on your Facebook Feed.  Chances are you will see plenty of images from friends, family and businesses promoting their goods.

Almost all smart phones these days have cameras, and the idea of one-hour photo booths seems almost comical at this point.  Photo sharing has become an integral part of the social media landscape thanks to the creation of Instagram, a channel dedicated specifically to this activity.

According to March 2014 research by Socialbakers.com, photos were the most common content posted on Facebook pages, accounting for 75% of posts worldwide.  In comparison, second-place links claimed just 10% of posts. Continue reading

Hotels Taking Social Media Offline

Social media

While social media may not be the most effective sales conversion tool for companies in the travel and hospitality industries, it is still a critical factor for a company’s online reputation management.  Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and others social media channels are a great way for you to reach out to fans and potential travelers alike.

As social media is constantly evolving, hotels are forced to come up with new and innovative ways to stay connected with their guests.  Some hotels are taking an outside-the-box approach to tying social media into in-person activities.  The following are examples of hotels incorporating social media channels into their on-site experience. Continue reading

Google Outpaces Social Media in Priceline Conversions

google-vs-facebook (1)

Social media channels play an important role for every company’s online reputation, but are they providing the best ROI when it comes to digital ad-spend? According to Priceline’s CEO Darren Huston, ads for his company on Facebook and Twitter have failed to deliver results.

“For Facebook and Twitter, we have endless amounts of money,” Huston said April 14 in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters. “But we haven’t found anything there.” Continue reading

Are Google’s Travel Goals Too Ambitious?

GoogleHotelFinder

Last week, we discussed Google’s ambitious jump into the travel industry with the release of the Google Hotel Finder on April 8, but a recent Motley Fool article questioned whether the company’s long-term travel plans are TOO ambitious.  The question this article focuses on is not whether Google will be successful (it likely will be), but rather how its move will affect major travel sites like Priceline.com and Expedia. Continue reading

Top 10 Hotel Amenities for Travelers

top10hotelamenities

Amenities are a critical factor in how travelers perceive your property when they stay with you.  Millennial travelers are looking for the latest technological advancements, families are looking for more space, and most travelers are looking for some help along the way.

The latest Hotels.com Amenities Survey revealed the Top 10 Most Important Hotel Property Amenities and the Top 10 Most Important In-Room Amenities.  To gain this valuable data, Hotels.com surveyed 1,000 travelers globally who have a trip planned in the next six months.

Not surprisingly, hotel guests preferred Wi-Fi over any other in-room features, and ranked Wi-Fi availability third-highest for shared spaces in the property.  The need for constant connectivity is at an all-time high thanks to all of the mobile technology at everyone’s fingertips.

As more amenities become standardized (parking, non-smoking rooms, pools, etc.), you have to find new ways to differentiate your property from the rest of the pack.  Taylor L. Coleg, APR travel expert for Hotels.com, confirmed that today’s travelers are placing more value on quality food options than ever before.

What else can you do to set your property apart?  Look at the following lists to determine what you have, and what you are missing.  Not all of these amenities are feasible with every property.  For instance, a cozy B&B on the coast may not need a swimming pool, or a bar, but it may need to add air conditioning so that travelers will enjoy a more pleasant experience.

Top 10 Most Important Hotel Property Amenities
1.  Complimentary Breakfast
2.  Restaurant
3.  Internet/Free Wi-Fi
4.  Parking
5.  24-Hour Front Desk Service
6.  Smoke Free Hotel
7.  Swimming Pool
8.  Bar
9.  Air Conditioning
10.  Coffee/Tea in Lobby

Top 10 Most Important In-Room Amenities
1.  Internet/Free Wi-Fi
2.  Bathroom Shower
3.  Room Size
4.  TV Facilities
5.  Air Conditioning
6.  Coffee/Tea
7.  Non-Smoking Rooms
8.  Premium Bedding
9.  Daily Housekeeping
10.  Mattress Type

Google Officially Enters Hotel Business

GoogleHotelFinder

The internet travel space just got a little bit smaller as Google entered the hospitality industry in a big way on Wednesday.  According to a Wall Street Journal article, the internet giant is moving boldly to play a larger role in booking hotel rooms.  They are doing it at the risk of offending some of its most important advertisers.

Why Google is making the move now
The potential market Google is entering is very large.  In the U.S. alone, travel and tourism spending totaled $450 billion last year, and is expected to grow 3.5% in 2014, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Google also just completed its latest move related to hotels, striking a licensing deal that will give it access to technology from hotel-booking software startup Room 77.  This move also adds engineers to Google’s hotel-search team.

Why this move makes sense for Google
Travelers are constantly looking for the most efficient way to book travel accommodations online.  ResortsandLodges.com prides itself on putting your property’s homepage one-click away from Google, Yahoo, and Bing search results pages.  Google is trying to make sure you don’t even leave their search results pages, allowing you to book without even reaching the major OTA’s and metasearch engines.  Google becomes the ultimate metasearch engine in this case. Continue reading