Category Archives: Hotels

Travel Trends: OTAs Look to Loyalty Programs

OTALoyaltyPrograms

In the 1990’s, online travel agencies (OTAs) threw a wrench in the hotel booking process by allowing travelers to compare prices across multiple hotels, inspiring consumers to book rooms through third-party sources rather than directly through hotels.  These bookings sites tacked on a hefty transaction fee, but the convenience of being able to search multiple options in one place made the extra charges worthwhile for the traveler.

Fast forward two decades and there is a new trend that property owners, managers, hoteliers, and other members of the travel space should know about.  The rise of metasearch sites like Kayak and Bing – which allow travelers to not only compare prices across hotels, but also across OTAs – has intensified the rivalry between booking sites, leaving companies like Expedia and Orbitz fighting for repeat customers.

But how are these brands creating this repeat traffic?

How to Create Loyalty Among OTAs?

To match Web competitors and increase brand loyalty, “it’s in the interest of online travel agencies to keep upping the ante,” said Clem Bason, CEO of DealBase.com.

In order to influence customer fidelity, OTAs have begun branching into the rewards business with the hope that additional incentives will keep travelers from straying to other booking sites.  This is a tactic that hotels have employed for a long time.  And now, OTAs are hoping that offering a rewards program will bolster consumer loyalty, the way it did for hotels.

Potential Negatives for OTAs

Despite the fact that OTAs are trying to build loyalty with travelers and increase the number of bookings taken on their third-party sites, there could be problems that pop up thanks to programs like Expedia Rewards and Orbitz Rewards.

Much of the advertising dollars spent by hotels go towards advertising on these OTA sites, but ultimately these properties would prefer to take bookings on their own website, as opposed to the third-party OTA site.  If properties are only receiving reservations through the third party sites (and are paying commission fees ranging from 15 to 25%, then these properties will be more likely to find other advertising avenues that will direct more travelers to book directly on a property website.

Traditional Programs vs. OTA Loyalty Programs

The logic behind traditional loyalty programs is pretty basic – hotels attract repeat business by promising rewards like free stays, complimentary amenities and even frequent flier miles.  The more often a traveler stays at a hotel or with a hotel brand, the more rewards he or she will earn.  These loyalty programs generally benefit business travelers the most, as they stay more often on the company dime and apply rewards to vacation expenses.

OTAs, on the other hand, target consumers looking to rack up and redeem points more quickly than they would through a hotel program according to Expedia CMO and Senior Vice President of Global Marketing David Doctorow.  OTA program members can earn rewards by booking stays at eligible hotels, regardless of the brand they choose, allowing for increased earning potential.

To learn more about the steps being taken by OTAs to increase loyalty among travelers, click here.

3 Trends to Help Understand Millennial Travelers

millennials

Millennials are constantly changing the way marketers look at the business landscape, and the travel industry is no exception to this rule.  These current 20-34 year olds represent the next rising wave of consumers across the globe, but what does this mean for your business?

Millennials bring their own unique set of expectations, behaviors and preferences in what they want and how they want it, and this extends to their travel experiences.

As an example, millennial travelers are quick to seek out the wireless connection upon arrival to the hotel while other travelers might make decompressing from their travels a priority.  Going hand-in-hand with this, while other travelers might collect stories to share one-on-one when they return home, younger travelers tell their stories online in real-time as they travel from one point to the next.

Skift and Amadeus, two leading travel industry news and research resources recently released three trends to help property owners and managers better understand this unique age group and their travel needs.

1. Explorers, Never Tourists
Millennials travelers want to explore their destinations and hate the idea of being considered tourists.  These travelers crave adventure and see out unique authentic  experiences while traveling.  ResortsandLodges.com travelers are no different.  Our travelers are not trying to book a room, they want to plan and book an experience.

Many millennials are craving adventure and seek out unique and authentic experiences while traveling.  Instead of taking the elevator up to the top of the Eiffel Tower, a millennial traveler will likely take the stairs and share a self-designed photo collage of the path to the top on Instagram.

2. Customization is Key
Millennial travelers favor an a la carte menu of logistics, amenities, and activities when planning their trip to create a highly personalized experience.  According to Skift, they value a distinctive experience that aligns with their individual identity and to display on social media.  They seek a stimulating “touch and feel” environment that still takes them to a different world.  This often includes unique excursions and international destinations that allow them to establish credibility on a subject or region.  Being able to share a display this knowledge and skill set publicly is of high value.

In addition to taking a customized trip, millennial travelers expect travel brands to provide them with personalized content, from airfare, accommodations and beyond.  For travel brand, along with price and value considerations, this personalized interaction is key to relationship building and increases the likelihood that the traveler will return on their next trip.

3. Technology Enables Communication and More
It’s no surprise this generation of travelers is more tech-savvy.  Having grown up with mobile devices and enhanced technology for the past decade or more, this group realizes the importance of communication through social media in an attempt to keep in touch with close friends and family.

Technology also provides an added sense of power as millennials access vast amounts of information any time they desire.  They can be savvy consumers in an unfamiliar destination by comparing prices, reading reviews and getting tips from blogs during their trip.

Millennial travelers are most comfortable combining the “best of both worlds” as they are channel agnostic.  They want the speed and convenience of an online purchase, and also value the comfort and security that constant connectivity brings, in the event they need assistance while traveling.

Priceline Continues to Add Key Pieces

Priceline

In a time when acquisitions, mergers, and partnerships have become the norm, one company in particular seems to be positioning itself as a future leader in the travel space.  That company is Priceline, and their recent acquisitions highlight an attempt to improve both ends (B2B and B2C) of the sales experience.

On June 10, Priceline announced the acquisition of buuteeq, Inc., a leading digital marketing platform for hotels worldwide.  Buuteeq’s cloud-based marketing software helps hoteliers manage their brand and drive bookings with responsively designed websites, robust user analytics, and intuitive content-management tools. Continue reading

Mobile Strategies to Engage Travelers

HSMAI

Today, communication with your guests when they are on the road (and spending the most) is not just commonplace, but essential.  It is estimated that in 2014, 40% of leisure travelers and 36% of business travelers use mobile search engines to find hotels, and 58% of spending on travel is done once the travelers has left home.

By the end of 2016, there will be more online searches on mobile than on traditional desktops.  People now treat mobile devices as extensions of themselves, communicating with friends, family, companies and brand whenever and however they choose. Continue reading

The Nine Commandments of the Digital World in Hotels

9 Commandments

The travel industry is notorious for hiring within the industry when it comes to filling top jobs, often promoting from within or from a rival company.

So when Accor, one of the world’s leading hotel operators, decided to hire Vivek Badrinath as its deputy CEO earlier this year, it raised a few eyebrows.  Many industry experts were intrigued to know what the senior executive from the world of mobile phone networks would make of a sector as fragmented and complicated as hotels.

Badrinath was speaking last week at the PhoCusWright Europe event in Dublin, Ireland, showing how some of his digital expertise could be applied to a diverse (in terms of brands) and, essentially, human-led corner of the industry.

Badrinath discussed some interesting ideas about how the classic hotel chain should be positioned to cater for the digitally savvy – and mobile-wielding – traveler.  He also gave event attendees his Nine Commandments of the Digital World for his new company.

Tnooz broke Accor’s nine commandments down, and gave some insight as to how they apply to hoteliers and property managers around the world.  Here is a small sampling: Continue reading

Marriott Announces #LoveTravels Campaign

LoveTravels

Travel and hospitality industry experts are always looking for a developing demographic whose attention they feel it is important to attract.  Marriott Hotels is hoping to accomplish this with their most recent social media campaign #LoveTravels.

The effort is a collaboration between Marriott Creative Agency and photographer Braden Summers featuring LGBT celebrities like Brooklyn Nets center Jason Collins and fashion model Geena Rocero.

This campaign is part of Marriott’s new LGBT social media and marketing campaign and seeks to “share exclusive and powerful images celebrating inclusion.”  The images featured in the campaign will be displayed as building wraps at six hotels in Washington D.C., a series of print ads in LGBT media, an online portrait gallery and display ads in cities throughout the country.

“Braden’s work so beautifully illustrates the inclusiveness and equality that we embrace,” said Kristine Friend, a senior marketing director at Marriott.  “We are committed to ensuring that all of our guests feel comfortable at all of our hotels and are proud to stay with Marriott.”

“#LoveTravels is a universal theme we believe is shared by all cultures and communities and truly represents our company’s philosophy and values.  We also want to encourage our guests and travelers around the world to share their own journey and story through #LoveTravels @MarriottIntl,” added Friend.

“We see #Love Travels as a universal, multicultural theme that appeals to communities throughout the world, resonating with consumers around the globe and especially with Millennials and next generation travelers who value inclusiveness,” Karin Timpone, Marriott’s global marketing officer said in a statement.

The campaign’s release coincides with Pride events in Washington, San Francisco and New York City.

To learn more about Marritt’s featured destinations and information for LGBT travelers, click here.

ADI Projects $61 Billion in Online Summer Travel Bookings

Social media
After a brutal winter and a bad case of cabin fever, it looks like Americans are ready to hit the road this summer.  Adobe Digital Index’s (ADI) “Travel 2014 Report” predicts that online travel bookings will reach $61 billion between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a 15% increase year-over-year.

The report is built on consumer data from Adobe Analytics brand sites from 2012 to 2014, and the sample information involved includes more than 33 billion visits to 1,300 branded travel websites.

ADI found that smartphone bookings are up a whopping 121% since January 2013.  During the same period, bookings via gaming consoles are up 60%, and tablet bookings are up 48%.

“Travel companies – online travel agencies, airlines, hotels – have done a much better job of extending the booking capability of their mobile applications and making their websites more mobile-friendly, which is increasing the amount of online bookings,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst at ADI.

Despite the growth of mobile devices within the travel industry, the PC still has the largest share of online bookings, taking in 86% of the share.  Tablets have the largest share of mobile-device bookings, at just 10%.

To read more about the more summer booking trends, and to read the full ADI Travel 2014 Report, click here.

7 Trends Shaping Social Media in 2014

Social media

Social media began as a way to network with other individuals across the world. When organizations become involved with these channels, social media became a giant megaphone for marketing messages, but now these same organizations are realizing that these channels can be used for so much more.

There are seven social media trends that are beginning to shape 2014, and Media Mosaic examined these trends in detail. Here are a few of these trends you may have observed through the first five months of the year:

1) Social Listening – Brands are now realizing that social media is a two-way communication channel, not just a one-way communication method for talking to consumers. 24% of marketers plan to use a social listening campaign in 2014, up 2% from last year.

Effect on Marketing: Brands will be able to interact directly with consumers.
Effect on Users: Brands will now listen, understand, and respond quickly and strategically to consumer queries and thoughts.

2) Social Advertising – Although ROI results are still mixed in most industries, marketers realize that people are on social media channels, and social advertising at the very least ensures viewership of ads. In 2013, 57% of marketers used social ads, and another 23% are expected to start using them in 2014.

Effect on Marketing: Brands will get a cost effective and clutter-free way of engaging customers.
Effect on Users: Users will now be able to see not just posts, but Facebook-sponsored stories or Twitter-sponsored tweets.

3) Images as Marketing Tools – People hardly have extra time to spare. Hence, they are being attracted more towards content that they can comprehend within a short time. If a picture is worth a thousand words, marketers can succinctly convey their message without a lot of words when using images on social media.

Effect on Marketing: Marketers will have to find newer ways to catch attention like graphic advertisements, catchy banners, images and infographics.
Effect on Users: More information in the shortest possible time.

To read the rest of the social media trends, head to the PR Daily website.