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
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
3. Internet/Free Wi-Fi
5. 24-Hour Front Desk Service
6. Smoke Free Hotel
7. Swimming Pool
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
7. Non-Smoking Rooms
8. Premium Bedding
9. Daily Housekeeping
10. Mattress Type
Without looking at your phone right now, would you be able to tell someone what internet browser your smartphone uses? You are probably not alone if your immediate response to this quandary is no. According to a recent study conducted by Flurry, mobile web browsing is losing the battle to native apps when it comes to mobile data use.
According to data compiled from January to March 2014, mobile device usage has risen to 2 hours and 42 minutes per day, up from 2 hours and 38 minutes per day in March of 2013. Native apps cemented their lead atop the list of in-phone functions, commanding 86% of the average US mobile consumer’s time (approximately 2 hours and 19 minutes per day). Continue reading
Maintaining a positive online reputation can be difficult for any company in a place as public as the internet, but for the hotels and unique lodging options we promote on ResortsandLodges.com, it is of vital importance. Although the thought of people openly reviewing your property may be scary at first, it is important to see these online reviews as an opportunity. According to Jennifer Davies, senior content manager at Expedia, good reviews of 4.0 or 5.0 generate more than double the conversion rate of a review of 1.0-2.9.
Davies’ statement deals specifically with data compiled by properties on Expedia.com, but the idea is relevant across the hospitality industry. Still, conversion rates are not the only numbers that are affected by a positive online reputation. An interview with Expedia’s VP of Supply Strategy and Analysis, Ben Ferguson, revealed that a one-point increase in a review score (on a five-point scale) equates to a 9% increase in average daily rate (ADR).
All property managers and hoteliers realize the importance of conversion rates and ADR, but many do not understand how or why they go hand in hand with a property’s online reputation. Proactively managing your reputation and using the feedback from online reviews to increase guest satisfaction will allow you to increase both your conversion rates and revenue in a sustainable way.
Here are five tips on how to improve your property’s online reputation:
Wego, a leading travel metasearch site in the Asia Pacific and Middle East, today launched the world’s first dedicated flights and hotels travel metasearch mobile app in Arabic for iOS. This app is expected to follow the success of the first travel metasearch site available in Arabic, created by the company in 2012.
“The response from GCC countries to Wego’s fully Arabised site has been overwhelming,” said Mohamad Ibrahim Masri, Managing Director, Wego Middle East and North Africa.
Masri added that it only made sense to invest in a fully-localized version of the company’s mobile app, especially when experts predict an almost 14-fold increase in Middle East North Africa (MENA) mobile data traffic by 2018.
“The app for iOS comes complete with right to left language support (Arabic RTL support for android coming soon), for comfortable navigation of Wego’s extensive global metasearch platform, available in multiple currencies, displaying both local and global air services and accommodation options.”
Since the Arabised metasearch engine was released in 2012, Wego has built valuable partnerships with major travel brands in the region including Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, GulfAir, Musafir, ArabRooms and more.
Impact of the Wego App
The Wego app was recently released in the company’s core markets, and to fairly resounding success. It currently ranks as the number one new travel application in Singapore, China, and Thailand, and ranking number two in India. It also ranks in the Top 100 of travel apps in 20 countries worldwide.
“We’ve had very positive reviews of the application so far and the download momentum is continuing to accelerate,” said Matthew Varley, Wego’s Chief Operating Officer.
“We spent a great deal of time consulting our Arabic speaking colleagues so that every minute detail was reviewed and verified. We paid careful attention to numbers, calendars, currencies and labels and the complexities of tools required for right to left translation, screen transition directions and swipe gestures were all a huge challenge.”
To learn more about Wego, and the Wego Affiliate Travel Network, click here.
To download the Wego App, click here.
OTA’s and mobile technology are two themes you see a lot on the ResortsandLodges.com Business Blog, and a recent interview with the company’s chief marketing officer regarding Priceline entering the on-property services market may be a signal of things to come throughout the travel industry.
Priceline’s goal is to play a larger roles throughout the travel experience, such as enabling hotel check-ins or on-site purchases, and views mobile as essential to realizing these goals.
The idea of mobile check-ins is not a new theory in the travel industry, but most of this discussion focused on individual brands like Starwood, Marriott and Loews leading the way with new mobile innovations.
Often times, once the initial booking of the hotel room through the OTA has been completed, these companies have played no further role in the travel experience. As Brett Keller, CMO of Priceline put it, “We are primarily a transaction service. We want to help you find and book that hotel as quickly as possible, but we have expanded beyond that a little bit.”
How is Priceline Expanding?
Newly-enhanced app features will now allow Priceline travelers the opportunity to explore the area to which they are traveling, in a map-based environment, to quickly find and explore where they can fly and purchase products at a discounted price.
Going forward, Priceline would like to have a hand in day-to-day tasks when a travelers arrives at their destination with features like checking in at a hotel, making purchases at the property, unlocking room doors and even unlocking rental car doors. This may seem futuristic, but these types of things are offered on a limited basis right now.
Why This Matters to You
Although this is a great opportunity for OTA’s to play a more impactful role on the travel industry, it could have a negative impact on these services at your property.
Expediting the check-in process continues to be an important improvement for any type of lodging, whether you are running a brand-name hotel, or a small boutique hotel. Travelers are happy to get away from long lines and waiting just to get a key to your room.
On-property services and purchases, however, are a priority revenue stream for hoteliers, and losing this money to OTA’s could create a more fragmented industry. Property managers/owners may have to consider price changes in order to keep their services attractive to travelers.
Ultimately, travelers are looking for the best value with the most convenience. Creating an easy-to-use marketplace these bundled packages and services can be found serves the traveler on a very personal level, but could lead to problems down the road between hoteliers and OTA’s.
To read the entire interview with Brett Keller, click here.
A recent Econsultancy blog post examined search results on travel sites, and how user friendly some of these particular models are. Although this particular study observed the flying segment of the travel industry, the same conclusions can be drawn for travel sites of all kinds. Let’s take a look at some of the findings.
What are people looking for from travel search results pages?
The easy answer to this question is many different things, but more specifically travelers are looking for the best combination of price, timing and convenience.
There was a time when your only choice was to look at a full year calendar to see when a property had availability. Now you can enter your dates of travel into a booking search engine, select the number of travelers accompanying you and you are off.
Within a brand.com website, travelers will typically see all of the room options available during the given time frame, but something hoteliers should also take into consideration is adding a price range limit as well. Although you should always be eager to show off your premium rooms with top amenities, these options are just not in some traveler’s budget range. Here are some of features of an effective search results page:
- Ability to sort results – Users Should be able to order results according to their own preferences. This may be price, duration of stay or even amenities included in a given accommodation.
- Presentation of Results – The default display option should allow users to make sense of the information presented easily. Users should also have options to alter the display to suit their needs. For example, some travelers prefer to see a full calendar of availability as opposed to a list view.
- Filtering of results – Users need a good range of options to refine their results.
- Speed – Results should load quickly, and adding and removing of filters should also be a smooth and expedited process.
- Clarity of pricing – This is not always easy for third party aggregator sites, but it can be very frustrating for a traveler to see what looks to be a good price, only to find lots of extras added by the time you reach checkout.
- Quick link to change original search – Searches may produce a small number of results, or the user may not be satisfied, so make it easy for them to amend their search with a clear link.
To read the full analysis of the airline industry’s travel search results, click here.
The mobile phone is proving to be indispensable in the United Kingdom when organizing a holiday, but there is still room for improvement when it comes to mobile bookings.
According a recent survey of 1,550 UK smartphone owners conducted by the marketing group Weve, nearly nine in 10 used their phones to research and plan their vacations. Among this group, the most common uses were for searching for hotels (47%), flights (45%), comparing prices (44%), searching for holidays (44%) and checking in for flights (34%).
Despite the value the mobile phone has in organizing trips, the bulk of transactions were made on a desktop or laptop computer, and half of those who did not book on a mobile device said this was due to sites not being optimized for mobile use.
Similar results were found in polling by TNS Infrafest and Google, which found that smartphones were used the most during the middle of planning trips. Nearly seven in 10 UK smartphone users said they researched via smartphone in the middle of the trip planning process, but only 17% of respondents used one of these devices to make a final purchase.
All of this data also aligns with a recent PhoCusWright study we discussed in a previous blog post that found U.S. travelers that projected mobile bookings will double over each of the next two years. This study found that travelers were too often frustrated by issues like:
-Limited offerings by major travel industry players
-Limited capabilities of the mobile devices themselves.
A Matter of Functionality
Ultimately, mobile technology will go as far as its functionality will allow it to go in the future. As major OTAs and hospitality industry players continue to commit large amounts of money to improving their digital tools, the ability to research and book trips on mobile devices will continue to improve. However, these companies must be careful to not rush the process and put inferior tools out on the market. This is far more likely to turn travelers off to planning on these ever important mobile devices.