All posts by Paul Manzey

TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer Provides Industry Insight

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Smartphones give travelers the ability to research, plan and book trips right from the palm of their hand, but TripAdvisor’s latest TripBarometer survey indicates that only four percent of worldwide travelers used this channel to book their last trip.  Here are some of the key stats and findings from a recent survey by Ipsos, conducted on behalf of TripAdvisor.

The biannual study highlights country, regional, and global travel trends, according to more than 61,000 travelers and hoteliers around the world.

Overall Travel Industry Numbers

  • Travelers are planning to spend more on their holidays in 2014 with an average annual traveler spend rising from $5,955 to $6,136 for this year, an increase of 3%.
  • The proportion of travelers planning to travel more has increased across almost all markets.  This year, 90% of global travelers are planning to travel domestically (up from 87% in 2013) and 77% plan to travel internationally, up 12% compared 2013 (65%).

Hoteliers Gaining Confidence

  • 70% of hoteliers globally say they are optimistic about their profitability in the year ahead (up from 67% in 2013).
  • Although just one in five global hoteliers plan to hire staff, an encouraging 37% of accommodation businesses will be investing in staff training, perhaps indicating renewed efforts to deliver excellent customer service.

Mobile Booking on the Rise, but Global Uptake Still Slow

  • Globally, travelers are attached to their mobile phones, with 91% saying they use their smartphones on holiday.
  • 37% of travelers use their smartphone to find things to do, and 27% are searching for hotels.

Despite the increasing number of travelers using their smartphone to plan and research, the trend has not yet crossed over to the booking stage.

  • Only 4% of global travelers booked the accommodation for their last trip via mobile, however China is leading the pack with 10% of Chinese bookings coming via mobile.
  • Thailand (9%), Indonesia (7%), and Malayasia (7%) are the next highest countries in percentage of bookings made on smartphones.

Hoteliers appear to see the value in offering mobile options for travelers.

  • Three quarters of hoteliers (76%) already have a mobile offering for travelers in place.
  • Of those hoteliers who do not have mobile offerings, 50% plan to introduce a mobile offering in 2013.
  • 45% of hoteliers allow guests to book rooms via their website on a mobile device and 38% have a mobile friendly website.

To learn more about the Ipsos/TripAdvisory TripBarometer, click here.

Tensions High For Airbnb, New York Attorney General

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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