|Online Travel Market|
|Travel Industry Online Developments|
Travel Industry Online Developments
Booking.com has seen its total transaction value of mobile hotel bookings rise from $1 billion in 2011 to over $3 billion in 2012.
Booking.com's mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows 8 devices have been downloaded more than 20 million times over the past three years.
The on line mobile hotel and accommodation bookings referred to above were made through the Booking.com family of hotel booking apps including native apps for iOS, Android, Windows 8 and Kindle Fire devices, and through Booking.com's mobile websites. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, April 2013)
In addition to pre-installing the app, Samsung is using TripAdvisor content (millions of photos and over 100 million reviews and opinions) to power its own travel apps. TripAdvisor is the only travel app that will be pre-installed on Samsung's latest smartphone.
The following Samsung apps are powered by TripAdvisor data:
- Travel Widget - Designed to inspire, the Travel Widget will showcase TripAdvisor images of popular travel destinations and attractions around the world. Users can touch the on-screen star icon to save places to their "Saves" list on TripAdvisor, or tap the image to see details in the TripAdvisor app, which include reviews, opinions, photos and contact information.
- Lock Screen Slideshow - When the phone enters "locked" mode, users can opt to see beautiful travel photos of the world's most visually striking destinations on the device's high-definition display.
- City Information in Samsung Story Album - Samsung Story Album helps build a digital photo book by seamlessly connecting travel content to user's travel photos. TripAdvisor lets users add more enriched city information into the Story Album.
TripAdvisor has added exclusive features to its application, including Single Sign-On with a Samsung ID, the ability to load details of hotels and flights found on TripAdvisor into the phone's native calendar app; and the ability to load contact information for a hotel or attraction to the GALAXY S 4's Contacts list. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, March 2013)
The number of people who view TripAdvisor content on sites other than TripAdvisor has doubled since last year to over 300 million per month, as brands around the world (including Best Western International and Thomas Cook) now partner with TripAdvisor to display TripAdvisor traveller content on their sites.
To date, more than 500 companies, including hotel chains, Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs), airlines and online travel agencies, have entered into an agreement to feature TripAdvisor content on their sites and enhance their offerings with valuable user-generated content. In addition, over 50 of those organizations including Wyndham Hotel Group have partnered with TripAdvisor for Review Collection Services where TripAdvisor powers their review collection process.
TripAdvisor offers an array of services for travel brands to syndicate TripAdvisor content and encourage more traveller reviews, including content syndication; review collection services; free tools. (HOTELMARKETING, December 2012)
Dubai International Airport is one of the first to take delivery of 3D virtual assistants that are being designed to interact to some degree with people are being developed.
The high definition assistant stands in the departure area of the airport's Terminal 3 and greets passengers with relevant messages as they idle past. "She" also shows videos on a screen with details about flights and security measures, etc. But the real novelty is the interactive element. Passengers can select a range of FAQs and their primary language (programme at this stage for Arabic and English) and the assistant will respond accordingly. Passengers are able to search for the information or select a specific service and then the assistant delivers a specific message or asks the traveller for more information.
The assistant's creator, Tensator, says the device has been well received by passengers so far as it offers a new way of communicating information to visitors. (tnooz, December 2012)
The ability for mobile to make consumers' lives easier will have a dramatic effect on their travel experience. One of the most interesting responses dealt with access to on-board entertainment via their own devices, which provides new interactive advertising opportunities. Nearly 45% of survey respondents had no plans to offer this type of entertainment service, but a third of the respondents were evaluating it.
In-flight entertainment packages, while wildly popular with consumers, are expensive for airlines to install and update, and therefore have varying adoption rates, even within individual airlines' fleets. Allowing customers to access curated entertainment through their personal devices opens the lines of communication in flight beyond a purely utilitarian interaction with flight attendants. This allows airlines (and advertising partners) to target messages based on what individuals are doing at that particular time (i.e. traveling to Paris, watching a live sporting event, etc.).
The value of mobile devices to the travel experience lies in their ability to create unprecedented touchpoints throughout the customer travel journey. Customers interacting with mobile devices in transit-and specifically, in-flight-are a captive audience in what previously was a black hole for customer communications. (eMarketer, September 2012)
The EyeforTravel team consider the most pertinent emerging themes in online travel and consult some of the events most exciting speakers for their expert insights and predictions.
1. Get ready for a mobile-only world: By 2015, IDC is forecasting that smartphone sales will reach 982 million and all research points to mobile use surpassing traditional desktop use within the next few years. Against this back drop there are numerous emerging trends the industry needs to keep pace with:
- Even greater rise in the same-day mobile booking trend. Expedia reports that 65% of hotel bookings within this last 24-hour window are via mobile, and 15% for flight bookings.
- Increasing numbers of mobile-only companies entering the marketplace. Mobile specialist HotelTonight has already done so and its mobile app recently hit the 3-million download mark.
- You can't really talk about mobile without thinking about social and of course local. If any further proof is needed: in March 2012 350 million Facebook users (who are also consumers) had accessed the social network via a mobile device.
2. Four ‘C's to think about: convergence, commerce, content and how these impact customer behaviour will be an ongoing theme
3. Big data, personalisation and being relevant is key in the marketing battle
4. Revenue management
5. Think new markets. Think new customers: the face of the global traveller is changing and Asia is leading the pack. Unsurprisingly the biggest growth is in China where the number of outbound tourists rose by 70% in the first six months of 2012. Other outbound travel markets like India, Brazil and Russia are growing too. By 2020 about 50 million Indians are expected to travel overseas, according to estimates drawn up by Tourism Australia which has been actively targeting this market.
(EyeForTravel, September 2012)
Google announced it will acquire all the assets of Frommer's for $23 million. Frommer's bills itself as "the most trusted name in travel today" and notes that its website, Frommers.com, is "an essential online destination for those planning the perfect travel excursion".
Both purchases are efforts by Google to cement its place in the online travel space, which encompasses hundreds of billions of dollars in bookings each year in the US alone. Google may use the brand names and review content from these purchases to drive traffic to the Google travel tools. For example, Zagat reviews are included on Google+ Places/Pages. They may also use the names and sites as forums for social media to complement professionally written reviews. Google also has the opportunity to drive traffic from Google to Frommers.com and Zagat.com, both of which generate some of their revenue from advertisements.
Many see the Google buys of Frommer's and Zagat as ammunition in an all out war against TripAdvisor through leveraging the Frommer's and Zagat brand names and review content with Google's unmatched online footprint.
Over the past 24 months, TripAdvisor has had 21 times the unique visitors of Frommers.com (and 38 times zagat.com's). More specifically, TripAdvisor has averaged 14.1 million unique visitors each month to Frommers.com's 675,000. (compete pulse, August 2012)
Destinations (and those charged with promoting cities or countries) do not understand how to exploit the vast array of technology and techniques to attract visitors, according to findings from a major academic study by the eTourismLab at Bournemouth University in the UK and the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse after the pair analysed the online presence of 30 destinations (cities and countries) around the globe.
The research examined a variety of factors such as ability to search and book on destination websites, types and range of content, ability to interact on sites and through other social media channels, and - perhaps most importantly - appealing to visitors not only before but during and after a trip.
Some destinations are utilising technology to a certain degree, the study found, with the leading ten destinations identified as:
The results illustrate that even the best DMOs and tourism boards are not taking advantage of web tools and other forms of technology, the study claims.
Leading the study, Professor Dimitrios Buhalis from the eTourismLab, says most of the 30 destinations concentrate only in providing information for "before travelling phase" and that few destinations use any technology for the during the travel period at the destination, or after the trip. Only a fraction of the available technology tools are used worldwide for promoting destinations online and the vast majority of destinations do not exploit all technological capabilities.
The average score across the 30 destinations in the study (ranked on a scale of one to five) was 2.4, Buhalis says.
As a result of the study, officials have put together a list of key recommendations for DMOs and tourism boards to consider when putting together a digital strategy for promoting services, products and the actual destinations:
- Concentrate on the inspire-before-during-after phases of travel for consumers
- Create more interactivity
- Include trip planners and itineraries and make them more visible for users
- Support SMEs and "manage by jealousy" by encouraging the best to do better
- Create clusters of innovative users and support them
- Produce theme microsites and use social media to address niche markets
- Implement news feed of social media channels
- Integrate strategic marketing/online marketing/social media/PR
- Utilise user generated content as a major strategy to inspire prospective travellers
- Take advantage of geo-tagging and prepare for location based services
- Develop video and multimedia content and drive websites with visually attractive multimedia
- Integrate virtual reality applications, 360-degree tours or webcams to increase transparency of tourism product
- Improve current technologies and applications constantly to maintain standard
- Develop consumers as advocates/ambassadors of a destination brand
(tnooz, July 2012)
Travel review site TripAdvisor features 50% more reviews than a year ago and the number of registered users has rocketed to 32 million, up from 20 million this time last year.
The rate of contributions has doubled in the past year, rising from 25 to 50 per minute, said TripAdvisor, which now claims to be the largest travel site in the world. It claims it has 56 million visitors a month, features more than 610,000 hotels, 880,000 restaurants and 200,000 attractions, a total increase of 50% over a year ago.
TripAdvisor chief marketing officer's Barbara Messing believes that by reaching 75 million reviews and opinions on over one and a half million businesses, TripAdvisor content is even more comprehensive and current for travellers who rely on the site for travel planning. (travelmole, July 2012)
Apple has received a major Granted Patent that relates to transportation check-in and, more particularly, to employing near field communication for identification and ticketing by transportation providers.
The timing couldn't be better for this patent as Apple recently announced that a new feature called "Passbook" was coming to iOS 6 this fall. Scott Forstall, Apple's Senior Vice President of iPhone Software, stated that Passbook would include travel services such as a boarding pass and express check-in which today's iTravel patent covers. The Near Field Communications (NFC) aspect of the patent will also be important for Apple's future iWallet application.
Apple's iTravel check-in system will work with Macs, but more importantly, with iOS devices such as the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Ticketing and identification information will be stored on the iOS device and transmitted, such as via near field communication, to another electronic device. The handheld device may be used to check into flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, trains, buses, and so forth. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, July 2012)
65% of travel professionals polled worldwide planned to increase their social media marketing budget in 2012, a higher percentage than for any other digital marketing tactic, according to Frommer's and Tnooz's "2011 Digital Marketing and Content Survey".
Percentage of travel professionals worldwide expecting to increase their digital marketing budget in 2012, by tactic (% of respondents):
- Social media marketing: 65%
- Content: 55%
- Mobile apps/development: 54%
- SEO-natural: 52%
- Video: 46%
- Advertising-online display: 43%
- Advertising-paid search: 41%
- Email marketing: 41%
- Advertising-mobile: 39%
- SEO-paid: 36%
- Meta-search: 22%
More than half of US fans of travel brands and companies "like" or "follow" such brands and companies because they want something in return-specifically deals or information about deals, according to ROI Research's April 2011 survey "S-Net: A Study in Social Media Usage & Behavior". (eMarketer, June 2012)
Virgin Holidays is the latest to tap into the Aurasma augmented reality platform to try to bring the holiday retail experience to life. The operator has unveiled a new iPhone application with special offers, a store locator for its 100 retail outlets and the augmented reality feature.
The AR feature can be used with brochures as well as a number of other triggers within stores to deliver customers to the destination with video and sound. Offers, accessible via the feature, will be hidden within stores and users can also access the operator's new ‘You Are...Here' campaign.
The augmented reality app, is in addition to Virgin Holidays brochure app which the company says has received a 100,000 downloads. Android and iPad versions of the new service will be released in the coming weeks.
The operator's foray into augmented reality comes on the heels of other travel companies including Kuoni and Saga Travel who have also worked with Aurasma on similar functionality. (tnooz, May 2012)
A survey of nearly 200 international hotel operators found generally favourable results for those that had offered a daily deal (also known as a flash deal), according to a study by the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration entitled "Emerging Marketing Channels in Hospitality: A Global Study of Internet-enabled Flash Sales and Private Sales".
Findings of the survey show 42% of the operators had tested a flash deal, and many of them were relatively large hotels (more than 150 rooms). At the same time, 46% of the hotel operators said they had no intention of offering such a deal.
For the hotels that were highly satisfied with their daily deal, the study found that they had carefully managed the details of the deal. The study found that Groupon and LivingSocial were the two sites used most heavily by these respondents, and their top reasons for offering a deal were branding, customer acquisition, and boosting occupancy in shoulder periods. Ironically, the hotels that were avoiding daily deals were especially concerned about compromising brand standards. Indeed, some international chains have banned their properties from offering such a deal.
To assist operators and brand managers in crafting effective deals, the study gives a checklist of daily deal guidelines. Item number one: carefully define the deal's purpose. Other suggestions include negotiating every facet of the deal and starting small. (The Center for Hospitality Research at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, February 2012)
Travel agencies' use of the Web has changed dramatically since they began putting up websites in the 1990s. No longer are most agencies trying to drive online bookings and lead generation. Today's agents are focused on using Web 2.0 and social media for networking and marketing, according to conclusions from the findings of the ASTA's 2011 Technology and Web Usage Report.
Apparently travel agents underestimated the investment of time and money needed to make online booking and lead generation a success. That's one reason they have shifted to a less-costly and more-productive online strategy via Web 2.0. The changes in internet strategy also mirror agents' revised understanding of their value to customers - as consultants, not mere order-takers. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, January 2012)
Social, local, and mobile are lending a new dimension to plans of travel marketers. To get started, travel brands must have a mobile website optimised with fresh, local content and location-based offers; accurate and optimised listings on local mobile directories; and mobile engagement via SMS and social platforms.
HeBS Digital believes that 2012 is going to be The Year of SoLoMo (Social, local, and mobile). In travel marketing, there is a major convergence of channels, and social, local, and mobile will work as part of an integrated initiative.
These three initiatives speak to key components of a travel consumer's behaviour. Social speaks to what we do as human beings and how we share our travel experiences, mobile speaks to our "always on-the-go" nature, and local speaks to the need for information from our immediate environment. The power of these initiatives combined, fills an inherent need for consumers and allows the hyper-interactive travel consumer to stay hyper-connected with brands.
The future of SoLoMo looks promising. Local data drives better engagement and conversions and 1 in 3 mobile searches has local intent. As for future trends, SoLoMo is changing the way consumers access information. Instead of researching attractions during a hotel stay, mobile applications will detect a traveller's location, what they are looking for, provide directions, push specials based on geo location, and even allow guests to share their experiences in real time. SoLoMo will ultimately provide more customer service solutions to enhance the travel experience.
Mobile applications such as Foursquare, will be more deeply integrated into a mobile strategy and a key touchpoint in the mobile brand experience. SMS marketing and geo-location offers will become key in how hoteliers target travellers not after but during their travel experience. Hoteliers and travel brands need to begin thinking local and immediate. (eyefortravel, January 2012)
Technologies and evolving social values and trends will combine to establish a new era of collaborative travel over the next decade and beyond, according to "From chaos to collaboration: how transformative technologies will herald a new era in travel" a report developed by The Futures Company and commissioned by Amadeus.
The report demands increased partnership across the travel industry. This will, in turn, remove the stress, uncertainty and chaos which is usually associated with travelling in the 21st Century, the report says, 'as well as providing much richer, deeper and more personal travel experiences at the same time'.
The report details a clear qualitative shift where service-users become partners rather than customers and where context is as important as the transaction. The study explores six key areas in which future technology and innovation could be deployed. Key findings include:
1. The next generation of experience: Travel is increasingly about depth rather than breadth of experience. Technologies such as augmented reality, gamification mechanisms and smart mobile devices will transform the travel experience.
2. Automatic transit: Checking-in could become the exception rather than the norm, with the rise of faster and more efficient identity management systems. Chips, biometrics, long range fingerprinting and near field communications (NFC) can be deployed in a more integrated way to fast-forward how people move around.
3. Payment with memory: All data on payments made before and during a trip will be integrated, acting as a digital memory of expenditure and activity for individuals, groups and travel industry operators. Intelligent passenger records, 'digital breadcrumbs' and contactless technologies could be used to personalise and bundle services delivering higher value and more profitable relationships.
4. Intelligent recommendation: As technologies make it easier for people to tag and review all aspects of travel experiences, travellers will be more influenced by peer groups and expert curators. The prospect of personal travel guides and mobile tour representatives will give travellers the tools they need to enrich their experience.
5. Taking the stress out of travel: The wellbeing agenda and changing demographics will place greater emphasis on removing travel stress. Intelligent luggage tags and tickets will give greater reassurance whilst m-Health (mobile-Health) applications will allow travellers to manage and monitor their health and wellbeing as if they were at home.
6. The business tourist: Continued emphasis on work-life balance and wellbeing at work may see the rise of the business tourist which will demand speed and efficiency as well as a home-away-from-home.
(TravelMole, January 2012)
On December 10, 2011, Singaporean company 3rd Planet will be unveiled as the first interactive 3D online travel portal. Harnessing interactive media for global travellers and enabling experiential learning, 3RD Planet users will be able to explore the world's most famous sights with the click of a mouse.
With interactive 3D CGI scenes incorporating genuine sounds to replicate the environment, 3rd Planet serves as an experiential educational tool for all ages, as well as a consolidated source of information for those planning trips. Users will be able to navigate streets, explore buildings, and gather information about some of the world's most iconic locations.
- Virtually "fly" around the planet, zooming into specific locations
- Discover new places of interest
- Check out the world's most famous tourism sights
- Walk through streets and interact with buildings and monuments
- Experience, educate and explore
The first taste of 3rd Planet will be available globally on December 10 with the launch of the inaugural experience - "Journey to Everest." The first 1 million people around the world to log on to www.3rdplanet.com will be able to sign up for free and immediately explore this first incredible journey, a snapshot of what is to come as 3RD Planet develops.
3RD Planet chose to launch with "The Journey to Everest" as it is one of Earth's great wonders; 3RD Planet unlocks the mystery and enables people all over the world to explore and discover. Working together with the Nepal Tourism Board, 3RD Planet has brought the key sights of Nepal to life in interactive 3D CGI. Users will virtually embark on the journey towards Mount Everest, discovering the highlights of the country and unearthing knowledge on route.
Prachanda Man Shrestha, CEO of the Nepal Tourism Board, explained that as a national tourism office, they place a strong emphasis in presenting their tourism attractions to the global market in a unique way. The beauty of Nepal cannot just be described in pictures and words, and 3rd Planet has an amazing technology that enables us to showcase our country in a totally new dimension.
3rd Planet will offer end-users an unparalleled experience to better visualize tourism destinations and equip them with more knowledge of what the locations have to offer before they travel. A new frontier for the travel industry and global travelers, 3rd Planet will launch on December 10, with further locations rolled out over the months to come as 3rd Planet truly comes to life. (ForImmediateRelease.Net, December 2011)
According to Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer at TripAdvisor, the "next big things" for the online travel industry are:
1. Travel is becoming more social: People are using technology and social networks to tap into the wisdom of friends to make good travel decisions.
2. The travel category is changing (dramatically) with mobile: Mobile is incredibly exciting - and changing both the travel planning period and the in-trip experience. Particularly during the in-trip experience there is still a ton of opportunity to make the traveller better informed, allow her to find the right restaurants & attractions tailored to her interests and time, and even provide special location-based features that can only be delivered via mobile. If only we can get rid of those roaming fees for international trips!
3. The power (and omnipresence) of the review: With TripAdvisor having over 45 million visitors last month reading some of our 50 million reviews and opinions, we know reviews are essential to consumers in the travel-planning process.
4. Green-friendly and sustainable travel are gaining importance: Travellers want to know more about the green practices and environmental reputation of the hotels, and travellers seek to understand whether the hotel is part of the problem or the solution in promoting better environment practices. And a growing set of travellers want to see how their tourism dollars are benefiting the local community in certain destinations.
(tnooz, August 2011)
The feedback on how visitors react to the presence of Facebook "Like" button on travel sites has been "overwhelmingly negative across the board", according to a report on the user experience and usability similarities and differences of websites in the travel industry.
The Usabilla's User Experience In The Travel Sector report features 18 travel websites and found that some people approve of Facebook 'Like' buttons, but "most participants disliked the buttons with a passion".
The findings show that users really hate the pushy appearance of a company asking for an endorsement. Of course, people use 'Likes' differently as well: it is easy to stay updated on good content though the Facebook news feed. This can be communicated more clearly, as well as any other benefits one could get from 'Liking' the page (such as deals only for followers, for example). One might ascertain that companies in the travel sector are simply putting the Facebook 'Like' button on their homepage because "everyone else is doing it", however doing so without a clear social media marketing strategy is counterproductive if you alienate site visitors and come across as pushy or 'begging' a user to 'Like' your company or brand. (eyefortravel, August 2011)
In July 2011, TripAdvisor has announced it has reached the 50 million reviews and opinions milestone.
In January 2005, TripAdvisor reached 1 million published reviews and opinions, then grew to 10 million in June 2007, 25 million in July 2009 and in July 2011 features 50 million reviews and opinions - more user-generated content than any other travel site.
TripAdvisor Content Fun Facts:
- The first review on TripAdvisor was published on December 11, 2001 on the Roost Lodge in Vail, Colorado;
- The most reviewed property in the world is the Luxor Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, currently with more than 6,100 reviews;
- The total word count of reviews and opinions on TripAdvisor is equivalent to the word count of 9,420 volumes of the novel "War and Peace".
(HOTELMARKETING.COM, July 2011)
Amadeus is now offering online travel agents an intuitive search solution that revolutionises the way consumers search for travel online. The tool, Amadeus Extreme Search, focuses on the traveller and their natural thought process, allowing travellers to shop by their desired travel experience. It is based on flight search, and in the near future, other travel components such as high-speed rail and low cost carriers will be added.
Nordic online travel agency European Travel Interactive (eTRAVELi) is the first pilot to benefit from the solution. Later this year, MakeMyTrip.com, India's leading online travel agency, will also pilot the solution.
According to Amadeus, travel sellers are able to capture the traveller's attention early in the search process due to the unique search experience, by inspiring and engaging them into a booking. Amadeus Extreme Search lets travellers ask open questions in real-time such as "where can I go on a beach holiday in Europe for less than €600 per person?"
Consumers no longer need to enter origin and destination information, but can inspire their search by budget, type of activity or geography all on a single page and receive relevant responses immediately.
The underlying technology, leveraging the Amadeus Massive Computation Platform, processes billions of results based on the traveller's query, according to Amadeus. The traveller receives practically instant results which are based on real-time availability and price.
The launch builds upon an industry first in 2009, when Amadeus launched the Extreme Search solution for airline websites with Lufthansa. (eyefortravel, June 2011)
Groupon and Expedia have joined forces to create Groupon Getaways with Expedia.
Groupon Getaways with Expedia will offer consumers deeply discounted, highly compelling travel deals from among the more than 135,000 hotels worldwide that work with Expedia. Starting in the US and Canada, with plans to expand to other countries, Expedia and Groupon plan to also include package deals, airline tickets, car rentals, cruises and destination activities.
The deals will follow the proven Groupon model, in which customers have a limited time to buy a discount voucher good for future travel. Discounts will be significant - typically around 50% off retail rates found at other online travel sites. Once a customer purchases a voucher, they can redeem it at a later date of their choice within the redemption period. There is no pressure to plan immediately; the dates are flexible.
Groupon Getaways with Expedia represents a new and powerful marketing channel for hotels to reach more than 50 million combined Groupon and Expedia members in the US and Canada, many of whom are highly engaged in social media and often share great Groupon deals with their networks. Participating hotels and other travel suppliers will benefit from unmatched exposure, incremental customers and revenue at their property, and cash up front after the voucher sale closes, all at no cost to participate.
Groupon Getaways with Expedia is expected to launch in late June. (TravelDailyNews, June 2011)
Bing has recently created a travel application for Facebook - "Bing Wish List", illustrating the edge that the search engine has against its rival Google in the travel market.
The application includes the ability to create a wish list, but it also has a strong social element - with friends of the user being able to suggest new locations, add comments, and share their own wish list - and a number of promotional gateways for the Bing site itself.
For example, Bing Travel images are displayed for locations, allowing users to view enticing pictures of foreign locales. Users who click on the image will be redirected to the Bing "Places" page for the area, which provides for information. Once users want to get going on actual trips, Bing Travel resources are linked in the app, allowing users to quickly go to the flight data, hotel booking, and other parts of the Bing Travel site. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, May 2011)
TripAdvisor has added augmented reality to its mobile and iPad apps. An upgrade to its existing smartphone and iPad applications gives users the opportunity to use a device's camera and GPS technology to pinpoint points of interest and other markers contained in the TripAdvisor system.
Similar to other AR-enabled services, users see a label overlay on the screen of the device, with snippets of information such as name, overall rating and a link to the main TripAdvisor site. The labels automatically move or change to another item as the user moves the camera view around a location. A map also shows the location of the user and the direction they are looking in.
TripAdvisor first added Google StreetView services into the app in February 2011. The app (iPhone, iPad2 only and iPod Touch) also features Virtual Tours, allowing travellers to preview a travel destination with TripAdvisor reviews and opinions superimposed over Street View from Google. (tnooz talking travel tech, April 2011)
With the idea that the best way to find the right hotel is to ask people that you know and trust, social travel planning service Kukunu is introducing Hotel Me, a hotel app hat essentially creates a poll of your Facebook friends. Hotel Me is a Facebook application, presently in a limited beta, that essentially creates a poll of your Facebook friends. All you do is enter the area where you're traveling, the dates you'll be staying, then add a customized message.
The idea behind Hotel Me isn't to take away from Kukunu. Rather, for shorter, faster trips, Hotel Me is an ideal choice over the more in-depth version available from Kukunu. The results are great, as long as your Facebook friends decide to click the blue button. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, December 2010)
At the 39th International Meeting of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), Afilias announced that it has been selected by dotHOTEL as the registry services and DNS provider for its application to ICANN for the .hotel new top-level domain (new TLD). dotHOTEL is supported by the International Hotel and Restaurant Association, the world's largest association of hospitality providers.
dotHOTEL will apply for the .hotel Internet extension when ICANN begins accepting applications for new TLDs, expected in the second quarter of 2011. The mission of dotHOTEL is to create a namespace of security, trust and credibility for the global hotel industry and its customers. dotHOTEL also plans to develop products and services to enhance the efficiency and convenience of marketing and e-commerce for hotels and their organizations worldwide. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, December 2010)
Travel community TripAdvisor has taken several mobile-related initiatives in 2010. Be it for launching its mobile website in 17 countries to its new iPhone application, the company says all such initiatives are related to revolutionizing how consumers get travel advice.
In late July 2010, TripAdvisor formed a partnership with Nokia, which resulted in an Ovi app for Nokia's Ovi Store and integration of the TripAdvisor service into Nokia's Ovi Maps. The TripAdvisor for Nokia app allows travellers to search for popular hotels, restaurants, and attractions in their vicinity, as well as find the cheapest airfares available. Nokia users can find and filter hotels and attractions by rating, distance, and price. With such applications, users get immediate access to the latest user reviews of the restaurants, hotels, and attractions in their immediate area or anywhere else in the world they may want to discover while on the go.
Mike Putnam, senior product manager, Mobile, TripAdvisor indicated that mobile is a great fit for TripAdvisor, allowing travellers to plan trips and get travel advice wherever they are. Since December of 2009, they've launched their mobile website (which works on thousands of phones in 15 languages), and released downloadable apps for iPhone, Android, Nokia, and Palm.
TripAdvisor announced that 3 million unique users visited TripAdvisor Mobile in the month of August 2010 alone.
TripAdvisor wants to help travelers plan the perfect trip, no matter how they are getting to us. This is why they launched a mobile website in December 2009, very quickly ensuring that it would work on any phone with a web browser. On the iPad, consumers can simply go to TripAdvisor.com and they'll instantly have access to more than 40 million traveller reviews and opinions. (eTN eTurboNews Global Travel Industry News, October 2010)
TripAdvisor has experienced tremendous growth in site traffic, with more than 40 million unique monthly visitors, according to comScore Media Metrix July worldwide numbers for TripAdvisor sites, up 60% from the beginning of the year. TripAdvisor additionally features 20 million registered members, up from 15 million in January 2010.
TripAdvisor, already the world's largest travel site, celebrates becoming the first travel brand to have more than 40 million unique visitors in one month.
TripAdvisor is now available in 14 languages, across 23 countries worldwide. In 2010 alone, TripAdvisor has launched new websites in eight markets globally - Turkey, Denmark, Mexico, Poland, Norway, Australia, Singapore and Thailand.
To put TripAdvisor's popularity into context for the UK market, the TripAdvisor.co.uk site on its own boasts 4.5 million unique visitors per month. That's more than Expedia.co.uk (3.4 million), HSBC.co.uk (4.1 million), and on a par with BT.com (4.5 million). (HOTELMARKETING.COM, September 2010)
Japan's largest e-commerce retailer Rakuten is looking for a move into the European travel search space following its €200 million purchase of France's Price Minister in June 2010. Price Minister runs voyagermoinscher.com, France's number one price comparison site in the travel sector.
Price Minister has been live in the UK since 2009, although the UK site currently does not have a dedicated travel channel. A Spanish version launched two years earlier and features a travel channel in partnership with govolo.com.
In its Japanese home market, Rakuten sells over $3 billion worth of products online. In 2009, its dedicated travel business saw an operating profit of YEN8.8 billion (£65 million) on revenues of YEN19.3 billion (£142 million). Total transaction value for the year was YEN300 billion (£2.2 billion). The site booked more than 30 million room nights. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, June 2010)
Through a new agreement, Travelocity will remain Yahoo! Travel's exclusive booking provider for all air, car and hotel packaging options, and the new exclusive provider for cruise and vacation packages, previously supplied by Orbitz.
Since 1997, this strategic alliance has served as a means of arming travellers with best-in-class services and pricing. Combining strengths, the two companies will continue to provide consumers with an enhanced booking experience by giving users direct access to Travelocity's popular products and money-saving planning tools through a trusted source like Yahoo! Travel.
The ability to combine networks through this agreement will allow users to view and share content, such as travel reviews posted to both sites, and open the door for additional joint marketing opportunities. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, June 2010)
TripAdvisor is to tap into the vast array of connections already in play via Facebook to launch its first personalised recommendation system for hotels.
TripAdvisor has long promised a system that is more helpful to the user by providing recommendations and tips from those that may have the same requirements or preferences. And now it looks to have done it - but perhaps not in the way many would have expected, using the vastness of the Facebook population and its existing Cities I've Visited application rather than building some kind of complicated profiling system within TripAdvisor itself.
The way it works is actually very simple: Users can search for a particular destination or hotel page on TripAdvisor. In a prominent module on the page the user can log into their Facebook account via Facebook Connect. If the user has connection through the Cities I've Visited application (it currently has five million active users, so a fairly high chance that a friend will have used it), the profile will be displayed. The user can then post a question about the destination or hotel direct to their wall from within the system or send a message to those that have signalled they visited. Once the question is live the usual Facebook tools take over, allowing friends to respond via private message or as a comment on a user's wall. These messages are not only displayed in the user's Facebook profile but back in the TripAdvisor system, as long as the user is still signed in with Facebook Connect.
This system is a significant addition to the TripAdvisor platform and is a smart integration of a consumer's existing use of Facebook to help customer's get a better understanding about a destination or hotel.
The system is tapping into the social graph now seen as the number one growth potential of Facebook and will probably evolve into a wider use of the Facebook Questions project already in development. (tnooz - talking travel tech, June 2010)
According to Expedia, this can be anything from translating a menu using Google Goggles to putting the guidebook to one side and using a virtual reality layer on your phone to picture the street in front of you and get links to restaurant reviews or travel information.
Nigel Pocklington, VP Global Marketing and Strategy, Expedia, says virtual reality is likely to have a big impact on travellers in the near future.
In an interview with EyeForTravel, Pocklington referred to an offering from layar.com. The Layar Reality Browser shows what is around you by displaying real time digital information on top of the real world as seen through the camera of your mobile phone. This technology is called Augmented Reality. The company augments the real world as seen through your mobile phone, based on your location. The idea is simple: Layar works by using a combination of the mobile phone's camera, compass and GPS data to identify the user's location and field of view, retrieve data based on those geographical coordinates, and overlay that data over the camera view. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, June 2010)
Apple filed another US patent in support of its possible Apple iTravel plans. This time a very powerful new concept for a location based application service, demonstrated as a restaurant seating/ordering iApp in the patent filings.
The idea is simple. Deliver a location based service to information savvy iPhone users that wish to receive temporary retail and service-based applications. Imagine standing at the entrance of a restaurant and viewing their menu on your iPhone. The minute you leave the front of that restaurant, the app disappears so that you don't clog up your iPhone with hundreds of local business apps.
The patent even goes as far as showing the estimated wait time in the restaurants iApp before being seated, as well as viewing and placing orders from the restaurant's menu electronically.
Again, all this is currently still at the patent stage. No signs, dates or even evidence that this will ever go live. But if it does, it would certainly play perfectly with Apple's iTravel plans. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, May 2010)
The key card could become a thing of the past after a hotel chain announced it would allow guests to access their rooms using their smartphones. The technology, to be trialled at two hotels in June 2010, would mean that guests could choose to avoid the hassle of checking in at the front desk. Instead, they would download an application to their mobile device that would enable them to open their door simply by holding their phone to a sensor.
Testing will take place for at least 60 days at the Holiday Inn Chicago O'Hare Rosemont and the Holiday Inn Express Houston Downtown Convention Center. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, May 2010)
Travelocity has introduced a new Travel Insider tab on The Roaming Gnome's Facebook page. "Friends", according to the company, have now access to deals and promotions not available anywhere else. The first offer gives customers $75 off when booking a vacation package of three nights or more to California.
There are many reasons why travellers become friends with The Roaming Gnome on a social network like Facebook, according to Troy Whitsett, vice president design and innovation, Travelocity. Many just want to keep up with The Roaming Gnome and his adventures, but Travelocity also know that people want access to travel deals and this is a great way to reward their fans for their loyalty.
There are other new upgrades, too. Users are being allowed to use Travelocity's popular "Deals on a Map" feature to shop for their next vacation within the Facebook environment. Friends can access this from the "Travel Deals" tab. Once friends find a flight, hotel or vacation package and are ready to book, they will be directed to Travelocity to complete their purchase.
The company also shared that "Friends" of the Roaming Gnome can insert a personal photo into one of nine different Travelocity Roaming Gnome costumes and then share the image with their Facebook friends. Friends have the option of taking a photo with a Web cam, uploading a picture from a computer or selecting a Facebook photo. (eyefortravel.com, April 2010)
Google Inc. is in talks to acquire ITA Software Inc., a maker of travel programs used by companies including Orbitz Worldwide Inc. and Microsoft Corp., according to Bloomberg News.
ITA Software, based in Massachusetts, may seek about $1 billion, according to sources close to the negotiation. ITA has a reputation as a company that is on a quest to solve some very big problems in the travel industry, according to PhoCusWright Inc. (travelmole, April 2010)
Lonely Planet has launched a 1,000 Ultimate Experiences app for the iPad, which went on sale in Apple stores in the US in April 2010. Lonely Planet's 1,000 Ultimate Experiences App allow iPad users to explore its recommendations through images, video and insights from its leading travel authors. Just two days after the launch, the company had to cut the price of its new app after hefty criticism from users.
Inspired by the Lonely Planet book of the same name, the app replaces the traditional book reading experience with a deck of 1,000 cards which users can swipe, flick and thumb their way through, bringing together the top 1,000 ideas, places and activities to inspire their next trip.
Lonely Planet's Discover guides are also in development for iPad in the iBook format. Titles will include Great Britain, Italy, Spain, France and Ireland.
The iPad is a ground breaking device that gives us the flexibility to publish content in extraordinary ways we would never have thought possible a year ago, according to Matt Goldberg, Lonely Planet chief executive. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, April 2010)
InterContinental properties in New York, Atlanta, London and Hong Kong will use iPad devices to provide guests with directions through interactive maps, show destination-specific videos for activity recommendations and make instant bookings at restaurants and other activities.
InterContinental Hotels will begin equipping concierge teams at select properties with Apple's iPad mobile device.
They are also preparing to pilot state-of-the-art Google Maps technology as well as other enhancements, and the Apple iPad will be a revolutionary way of showcasing some of these features. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, April 2010)
The difference between rich media and standard banner ads can mean a big difference in click-throughs and conversions for advertisers in the travel industry, according to research from Eyeblaster.
Web users were more than 2.6 times as likely to click on a rich media ad than a static banner, based on the study of billions of impressions of airline ads. Conversion rates were also up, by 198%.
Airline online ad conversion rate worldwide, Q4 2008-Q3 2009:
- Rich media: 3.4%
- Standard banners: 1.7%
Airlines account for about 29% of display ad impressions in the travel industry.
Placement also had a significant effect on direct response. Ads served against lifestyle sites, homepages, instant messaging and weather sites performed above average, while click-throughs on travel sites themselves were slightly below average. Dwell rates, an alternative measure of engagement, were highest on news, travel, finance, and instant-messaging sites.
Airline online ad click-through rate owlrdwide, by type of placement, Q4 2008-Q3 2009:
- Lifestyle: 0.52%
- Homepage: 0.40%
- Instant messaging: 0.36%
- Weather: 0.27%
- Travel: 0.24%
- News: 0.20%
- Mail: 0.19%
- Finance: 0.09%
- Sport: 0.08%
- Entertainment: 0.06%
- Other: 0.19%
Eyeblaster found that most Web users are exposed to an airline display campaign only a single time, but increased exposures lead to more clicks and conversions. According to the "Airline Advertising: Preparing Your Online Media for Takeoff" report, four exposures is optimal for advertisers, meaning internet users are underexposed to airline campaigns and not clicking as much as they could be. (eMarketer, March 2010)
TripAdvisor officially launches its mobile website. Now available in 17 countries and 11 different languages, the beta version of the mobile website has already attracted more than 1 million unique monthly visitors, more than any other mobile website in the travel industry, according to TripAdvisor.
Travelers can visit the mobile TripAdvisor website on their cell phones or smartphones at tripadvisor.com. On TripAdvisor's mobile site, travelers can find nearby restaurants, hotels and attractions, and directions to them - all with the smartphone's GPS capabilities. Travelers can also post reviews and opinions while traveling, when the experiences are freshest in their minds.
TripAdvisor's mobile website is currently available in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, India, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. The mobile website will soon be available in additional countries and languages. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, March 2010)
The Green Travel Finder globe directory announced passing the milestone of 8,000 lodging establishments. Travellers can search and book directly with hotels, resorts, guest houses (B&B), hostels and even British pubs who have participated in one of the dozens of local, regional and international "green certification programs" worldwide which follow sound standards for certification.
In order to enable mass engagement with sustainable travel and tourism the Green Hotel Finder directory was developed in conjunction with the Global Sustainability Index, which provides travellers and the travel industry one common trusted international program and brand to further the global understanding and demand for green and sustainable destinations, travel industry and their supply chain. (Travelmole, March 2010)
AT&T Interactive and Expedia have signed a distribution agreement to complement local information with hotel-booking features. The two companies will help travellers in checking hotel rates, room availability and also book rooms on AT&T Interactive's yellowpages.com and YP.com local search websites.
In addition to AT&T Interactive's business listings, user reviews, and video profiles, the new hotel booking functionality supports AT&T Interactive's ongoing content growth. The booking feature is co-branded with hotels.com, a subsidiary of Expedia.
The online travel company mentioned that this partnership will provide it with a way to reach consumers who are already looking for local hotel information.
For its part, AT&T Interactive stated that this agreement creates a natural extension to the travel and hotel information already available on yellowpages.com and YP.com. (EyeForTravel, February 2010)
Ebookers believes it has stolen a march on its rivals by taking a first strategic step into mobile with a new site designed for customers to use on their handsets, according to TravelWeekly UK. The European online travel agency hopes the new site will help customers research, plan and prepare to book while on the move, saving them time and effort.
Unashamedly simple, the site has been developed with Handy Group over the last six months and initially will offer three paths to search flights, hotels and car hire separately. In the search results it offers users the chance to either email the chosen results to themselves, or someone else, or call to book. Property photographs are available in the hotels path, but only one, although once a deal has been selected the page lists more that are available to view. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, February 2010)
More consumers than ever are turning to travel mobile sites to access information, book flights and hotel rooms, and rent cars, according to research from The Nielsen Co.
Travelocity leads the pack, with 1.263 million unique monthly visitors in October 2009, according to Nielsen. That's up a sizable 32.3% from 955,000 in October 2008. Expedia was close behind, with 1.258 million visitors in October, up only 4.7% from the same period the previous year.
Following are the top 10 travel mobile sites and apps gauged by unique monthly visitors, according to Nielsen:
1.Travelocity: 1.263 million (+32.3% compared to October 2008)
2. Expedia: 1.258 million (+4.7%)
3. Priceline: 1.2 million (+39.5%)
4. Orbitz: 1.12 million (+23.9%)
5. Delta Airlines: 995,000 (+20.3%)
6. American Airlines: 982,000 (55.1%)
7. Southwest Airlines: 956,000 (+2.4%)
8. Hotels.com: 725,000
9. Continental Airlines: 669,000 (+24.1%)
10. United Airlines: 554,000 (+43.2%)
(Travelmole, January 2010)
Hostelworld.com has launched its iPhone application in order to offer flexibility and convenience to customers booking hostels and other types of budget accommodation ‘on the go'.
Key features include: city map view of hostels, showing users current location; advanced sorting and filtering accommodation options in line with user requirements; ability to compile a list of favourites and save personal preferences all in one place; offline mode allows users to access downloaded properties for chosen destinations; ability to book multiple room types simultaneously; users can store bookings, allowing them to generate a history of previous bookings that can easily be referred to.
87% of Hostelworld.com's customers bring a mobile phone with them on their travels, demonstrating how its customer demographic is much closer to their mobile phones than a lap top, according to a recent survey conducted by the firm. (EyeForTravel, January 2010) has worked on a mobile online reservation service. The company indicates that all content on the mobile hotel.info portal has been designed for use on the go. Users can now book a hotel in their desired location using their mobile phones through m.hotel.info.
hotel.info has worked on a mobile online reservation service. The company indicates that all content on the mobile hotel.info portal has been designed for use on the go. Users can now book a hotel in their desired location using their mobile phones through m.hotel.info.
Room reservation can be completed using any mobile phone. Also, the usual international classification with stars, as well as the evaluation by hotel.info users, facilitates choosing the right hotel. Mobile users can additionally also use the portal to obtain information on hotel facilities and services, view photos and find the hotel using a map. The simplified search function allows users to search for specific hotels or hotels in specific price categories.
Best Western International has released its free iPhone application, allowing users to book Best Western accommodation anywhere around the world. Called Best Western To Go, the iPhone application allows users to find and book Best Western accommodation at more than 4,000 hotels in more than 80 countries.
It also includes GPS maps when searching for a Best Western hotel, lists of local attractions and restaurants, and the opportunity to 'push' information directly from the Best Western app to a Facebook page, email or to other iPhone users. ?
Best Western plans to release upgrades to its iPhone application throughout 2010 and introduce applications for other platforms including Blackberry. (TravelMole, January 2010)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 10:46