Vayant and ArrivalGuides team up to inspire travel shoppers

vayantVayant brings its FastSearch, the inspirational sub-second airfare shopping product that precomputes large datasets of customer-defined flight search results and keeps them fresh and easily available for marketing purposes via API.

Vayant Travel Technologies, a leading company in airfare search innovation, and ArrivalGuides, the destination content supplier, announced a partnership agreement for a joint marketing solution that allows travel companies to target flight offers alongside inspiring destination images and content.

By combining their respective strengths the partners aim to make it easier for airlines and travel agencies to provide rich content-driven experiences on their ecommerce websites. As the world’s leading network of high quality and up-to-date destination information and city guides, ArrivalGuides brings compelling destination content to inspire travellers to choose, book and plan their trip. Currently, this covers over 500 destinations and includes 35,000+ points of interest.Vayant brings its FastSearch, the inspirational sub-second airfare shopping product that precomputes large datasets of customer-defined flight search results and keeps them fresh and easily available for marketing purposes via API.

Offered as a one-stop-shop web solution, the combined destination and flight content API can be used by travel companies to power map displays, calendar displays, banner ads, email campaigns. Iskra Rasheva, Marketing Manager, Vayant Travel Technologies, said: “Today’s travellers expect to find inspiration when they shop online, with exciting travel choices accurately priced, attractively presented and available to book.

With ArrivalGuides we’re making it easy for all kinds of travel sellers to deploy this kind of quality content on their websites.”Ola Zetterlof, Director of Content Solutions, ArrivalGuides, said: “High quality destination content is key for inspiration and to trigger a booking – with Vayant, we add a new dimension with airfare pricing that’s fast and accurate.” –

See more at:

http://www.traveldailynews.com/news/article/64859/vayant-and-arrivalguides-team-up#sthash.U9GDR367.dpuf

via Vayant and ArrivalGuides team up to inspire travel shoppers.

Marketing strategies for tourism destinations: A competitive analysis: Travel Daily News

european travel commissionThe new European Travel Commission project focuses on six high potential markets, namely Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. This fact-finding research offers a bird’s-eye view of the competitive environment in the global tourism marketplace, and a portrait of the tourism strategy and marketing activities of competing destinations in each market.

In an increasingly vibrant landscape, marked by new players, technological innovation and rapidly changing consumers, the need arises for European destinations to closely monitor others’ effort to win market shares in the global tourism market.

This report is meant to support private and public organisations in the tourism sector to achieve a better understanding of the environment in which they operate. Its aim is to provide meaningful knowledge about best prospect markets, and the tourism strategies destinations worldwide have implemented in these key markets.

This report is part of a broader study tailor made for European tourism destinations in general and ETC members in particular.This project focuses on six high potential markets, namely Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. This fact-finding research offers a bird’s-eye view of the competitive environment in the global tourism marketplace, and a portrait of the tourism strategy and marketing activities of competing destinations in each market.

Information has been gathered through publicly available documents, and eventually enriched with first-hand information gathered through personal interviews with NTOs marketing directors, representatives of the travel trade and experts. Key results are presented in this executive summary, conceived for dissemination to the public at large. In this analysis, Europe is defined as the 33 countries which are members of the European Travel Commission plus France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

via Marketing strategies for tourism destinations: A competitive analysis.

Expedia’s Orbitz deal sends travel stocks flying – CBS News

Expedia logoExpedia’s Orbitz deal sends travel stocks flying

When Online travel service Expedia (EXPE) announced plans to buy smaller rival Orbitz Worldwide (OWW) for $1.3 billion, it became the latest consolidation in the $444 billion online travel industry. Shares of both companies surged on the news. In afternoon trading Expedia was up nearly 17 percent, and Orbitz had shot almost 22 percent higher.

On the takeover news, shares of other travel sites also took off. TripAdvisor (TRIP) rose nearly 24 percent, and Home Away (AWAY) was trading 7 percent higher, indicating that investors see more industry deals on the horizon. Even industry giant Priceline (PCLN) was up more than 3 percent. Companies outside the U.S. are especially attractive to the larger players, analysts say.

Bellevue, Washington-based Expedia will pay $12 per share in cash for Orbitz, which is headquartered in Chicago. That’s a 29 percent increase over Orbitz’ average trading price during the previous five days. The deal would add Orbitz to Expedia’s already-formidable lineup of online travel brands, which include Hotels.com, Trivago and Hotwire, and promises to ratchet up competition in an industry where it’s already intense.

“It was just a matter of who would buy Orbitz and when,” said Henry H. Harteveldt, founder and travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group, in an interview. “Orbitz just really didn’t have a clear marketing direction. They have just been kind of an aimless brand for the past three or four years. ”

Orbitz CEO Barney Harford, a former Expedia executive, could remain with the company after the sale is completed, according to Harteveldt. An Orbitz spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch that no announcements about personnel have been made and declined to provide a timeline about when the deal might close.

“Barney came from Expedia, and I think he’d be comfortable returning to the fold,” Harteveldt said. “However, Expedia will have to give him a meaty-enough role, and he’ll want the opportunity for further advancement.”

A larger Expedia should be good news for consumers because it will keep the power of airlines in check, according to the Business Travel Coalition, which represents corporate travel departments.

“Strong, independent distributors are necessary to keep the airlines honest on their websites and in their offerings to consumers,” wrote Kevin Mitchell, the organization’s chair, in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. “These distributors provide consumers with the comparison-shopping tools that keep pricing discipline in the system. In the alternative, consumers would have to go to the Walled Gardens of each airline website and spend hours trying to determine the best deal. Of course, often, they would not.”

Expedia’s growing strength in the travel market, however, is bound to worry suppliers of travel services, according to Harteveldt. He added that the impact on consumers remains to be seen, though most won’t notice any changes, at least at first.

“The hotels and airlines in particular will be greatly concerned about the juggernaut that Expedia has become,” he said. “Right now, Orbitz and Expedia compete to offer access to inventory and prices. If the merger is approved, eventually Orbitz will be powered by the same back-end system as Expedia, with the same prices as a result. The only difference will be the web page’s design.”

Investors expecting more deals are probably on the right track, considering how active the industry has been consolidating recently. Priceline acquired rival Kayak Software in 2013 for $522.4 million. A year later, the Connecticut-based company branched out a bit and bought restaurant reservation service Open Table for $2.6 billion.

In July, Expedia said it was buying Australian booking site Wotif.com for $658 million. And barely a month ago, it announced plans to buy rival Travelocity for $280 million. In fact, just a week ago, Expedia Chief Financial Officer Mark Okerstrom shot down speculation that his company would be doing more acquisitions, telling The Wall Street Journal, “we’ve got our hands full right now.”

According to research firm Phocuswright, online travel agencies account for about 16 percent of the total U.S. travel market, or about $51.4 billion, a sign that the industry has plenty of room to grow.

“It has become a two-horse race between Expedia and Priceline globally.” Said Phocuswright Vice President Douglas Quinby

via Expedia’s Orbitz deal sends travel stocks flying – CBS News.

Tourism Marketing: E-travel giants get more individual – fvw

Leading travel e-retailers are using technology to speed up and individualise their offers, according to top executives at a recent fvw event.

Expedia-Europa-Chef Andreas Nau

Online travel giant Expedia cannot afford to carefully plan a medium-term strategy, Andreas Nau, head of Expedia Europe, told the fvw Online Marketing Day in Frankfurt. “We have to be fast, test and be allowed to make mistakes,” he declared.

For example, Expedia is currently testing a new form of hotel evaluation in 60,000 properties via a new app. “Customers can quickly give their views on the reception, service and overall impressions via smileys,” he explained to some 270 participants. Hoteliers “are already addicted to it” and respond quickly, he said.

Outlining some new products, Nau said that Expedia has developed a tool enabling hoteliers to change their prices via a mobile device, and is working on a method of presenting room prices like on a stock exchange.

Tom Breckwoldt, TripAdvisor’s Germany chief

Meanwhile, TripAdvisor is rapidly embarking on a new ‘customer journey’ and adapting itself to changing user habits, and the rapid advance of mobile devices, above all. “More than 50% of all content is consumed by mobile today,” said Tom Breckwoldt, Germany chief of the evaluation portal.

TripAdvisor no longer just wants to display hotel rankings ahead of a trip but also offer additional services at the destination, such as restaurant visits or excursions. The company has already bought content providers such as restaurant finder La Fourchette and activity finder Viator. Such activities will then be bookable on the company’s mobile portal.

Breckwoldt stressed: “Our core business remains the rankings, the evaluation of hotels and other services.” But he also predicted rapid growth of destination-based mobile bookings due to the spread of mobile devices and free wi-fi.

Facebook is also a good source of information for online tourism marketing, especially because companies can form clusters of users to target, Benjamin Schroeter, managing director of Facelift Brand Building Technologies, told the event. Tour operators, for example, could target specific groups for last-minute sales, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, this year’s fvw Online Marketing Award was won by the Hamburg tourist board for their mobile app, which acts as a city guide with detailed additional information as well as user evaluation options. The app has been downloaded more than 65,000 times since its launch in mid-2014.

via Tourism Marketing: E-travel giants get more individual.

Amadeus and Southwest Airlines advance partnership with new corporate travel agreement – MarketWatch

amadeus new logo on blueAmadeus and Southwest Airlines advance partnership with new corporate travel agreement

Amadeus, a leading technology partner for the global travel industry and Southwest Airlines announced today a new milestone in their partnership. Under a new multi-year agreement, Amadeus’ corporate travel booking tool users around the world will gain access to Southwest’s fares and inventory.

“Providing seamless functionality and booking ease to our corporate customers worldwide is a focus we share with Amadeus,” said Kevin Krone, Vice President Marketing and Chief Marketing Officer, Southwest Airlines. “This new global agreement marks another milestone in our continued partnership, offering a new dimension in distribution to deliver world-class access to our entire available inventory of seats to more than 90 destinations.”

With the direct implementation of Southwest’s content, users of Amadeus’ e-Travel Management and i:FAO’s cytric corporate booking tools will gain benefits such as:

  • Greater functionalities including live availability and last seat inventory delivered via an integrated display
  • Functionality supporting all pricing rules, fare rules and return of ticket number
  • Fare searches returning the lowest fares available
  • Booking and ticketing capabilities for the carrier’s loyalty program/Rapid Rewards members
  • Additional functionality related to deferred ticketing, retrieving and canceling reservations, and exchange funds toward new itineraries

via Amadeus and Southwest Airlines advance partnership with new corporate travel agreement – MarketWatch.

The Travel Market Digest February 2015

The Travel Marketing Digest 11th February 2015 – Volume V, issue 2

Welcome to the latest edition of The Travel Marketing Digest and some of the top travel marketing stories over the last few weeks.

In this edition….

  • ReboundTAG’s innovative microchip baggage tracking solution: and a cool corporate giveaway…
  • Marriott’s GoPro marketing campaign
  • Hotelplan to buy Kuoni Switzerland?
  • City visitor rankings report by Euromonitor
  • How Google Now is improving travelUNWTO reports a 4.7% growth in travellers, 1,138 million arrivals in 2014
  • The survival of travel agents
  • World Marketing Group to promote Destination Asia in North America
  • Expedia acquires Travelocity
  • Marketing travel to US Affluent
  • iBeacon technology and travel marketing

The Travel Marketing Digest

Beacon Technology: The Next Big Marketing Tool for the Travel Industry? | TravelPulse

mobile marketingThe increase of mobile devices has changed the world as we know it, as businesses have needed to adapt and become more mobile-friendly.

Beacon technology—placing beacons to send location-based information and offers to these mobile devices—could have a similar impact in the travel industry and beyond.

Evan Schwartz, CEO of ActionX, a mobile app and cross-screen retargeting company, certainly sees the potential in the technology. The technology has been gaining steam in the last few years, Schwartz said, but it’s about to “explode” in 2015.

The draw of beacon technology to businesses is simple. You aren’t communicating with consumers across a TV screen, where they could be miles away from your business. You are communicating with them at the selling location itself. Retailers have begun to introduce the technology to the public, and it’s starting to make its way into the travel industry, with hotels, airports and airlines beginning to use it.

Miami International Airport, for example, recently launched a new app that uses beacons to help consumers find the correct gate for departure while sending them notifications on their mobile devices for restaurant and retail deals while they’re travelling through the airport.

Marriott International now features beacon technology at 14 of its properties in the United States since unveiling the technology in July 2014. The LocalPerks initiative is available exclusively to Marriott Rewards members, making Marriott Rewards the first major hotel loyalty program to offer geo-targeted, mobile offers during a guest’s stay.

Schwartz, who already has several clients lined up to introduce the technology in the future, told TravelPulse that he sees beacon technology making a similar impact to the travel industry as mobile apps did. He specifically highlighted Virgin Atlantic and Apple as examples.

Virgin Atlantic ran a trial in May 2014 for Upper Class passengers at London Heathrow Airport using Apple’s iBeacon technology. Upper Class passengers had the opportunity to receive special partner offers as they passed through the airport, such as 0 percent commission at a MoneyCorp currency exchange booth.

At the time, Reuben Arnold, brand and customer engagement director for Virgin Atlantic, said the airline had only “skimmed the surface” of the technology, exploring the ability to notify customers of open appointments at the Clubhouse spa or introduce crew members as they board their flight, via the Virgin Atlantic blog.

Beacon technology makes a lot of sense because it almost works like a business owner standing outside and inviting customers in: it’s directly targeting customers at the point of sale.

In fact, Schwartz told TravelPulse back in October that the clients ActionX works with are no longer content with a boost in app downloads—they want to see a clear indication of a boost in revenue. In that sense, beacon technology is naturally a new way of doing just that. It’s no surprise that major companies such as Virgin Group and Apple are embracing the technology with open arms. It’s also no surprise that ActionX—a company that specializes in mobile advertising—has taken it and ran with it.

But why has it taken a few years to really get beacon technology off the ground? Well, as with any advanced technology, it takes some tinkering to completely understand. Businesses have been learning how to fully implement beacon technology into their properties, Schwartz said.

As Sarah Bradley, director of Marriott Rewards Digital Strategy and leader of the LocalPerks initiative, told TravelPulse in December, it’s particularly more difficult to implement the technology at, say, a large-scale resort than it is at a small retailer. You have to make sure beacons don’t cross signals and bandwidth usage can be a problem.

“Installing beacons is a relatively simple process, but the strategy behind their placement and how to trigger the messages is more complex then we had expected,” Bradley said at the time. “The number of outlets, the layout of the hotel and the type of business the hotel drives all impact the placement and message strategy. We have learned quickly, however, and our core team has done a fantastic job of creating a unique experience.”

And for those worried about getting blasted with digital offers everywhere they are (futuristic movies such as “The Fifth Element” come to mind), rest assured, you not only have to download a specific app, but you also have to turn on Bluetooth, location services and the app’s notifications. Similar to personalized on-line marketing these days, advertisers using beacon technology don’t want to bombard consumers with offers, Schwartz noted. They are targeting them for a reason: It could genuinely be of interest to the consumer.

And as travellers move across this wondrous world, beacon technology is only a natural fit for the travel industry.

via Beacon Technology: The Next Big Marketing Tool for the Travel Industry? | TravelPulse.

Nobox Leads the Creation of Marriott’s Innovative Marketing Program with GoPro | Business Wire

marriott(BUSINESS WIRE)–Nobox, a leading social marketing agency, is the creative force behind the innovative marketing program between Marriott Hotels, Marriott International’s flagship brand, and GoPro. “Our creative goal is to engage Marriott’s guests and empower them to share richer, more immersive content,” said Jayson Fittipaldi, Chief Creative Officer of Nobox. “Ultimately, the surprise and delight that guests who participate experience and the amazing content that they are sharing with the world continues to elevate the Marriott Hotels brand among Millennial travelers. The alchemy of putting GoPro’s in the hands of eager guests have resulted in social marketing gold for Marriott.”

“Nobox’s continuous contribution to our success has transcended the scope of a social marketing agency to become Marriott’s creative agency for the region.”

This match made in “marketing heaven”, invites Marriott Hotels guests to take GoPro HERO4 cameras for a “test-drive” and capture their travel experiences in a richer, more immersive way. Guests are encouraged to share on social media using the hashtags #GoPro, #TravelBrilliantly, and #ViajeGenial for a chance to be featured on http://www.travelbrilliantly.com/gopro, Marriott’s social media profiles, and even on a dedicated TV channel in the in-room entertainment system of participating hotels. To celebrate the launch of the program, the most inspiring content submitted by guests will be selected to win prizes such as vacation stays, Marriott Rewards points and GoPro cameras.

“Travelers tend to be more active in social media during and after their trips because it elevates their profile. That said, smartphones will not capture our most adventurous travel experiences like parasailing, diving, etc. Combining Marriott and GoPro creates a perfect setting for Human-to-Human marketing; transforming happy customers into a brand ambassador,” said Carlos Garcia, CEO of Nobox.

“This program is a perfect example of how Marriott continues to innovate and attract the next generation of travelers,” said Craig S. Smith, President of the Caribbean and Latin America at Marriott International. “Nobox’s continuous contribution to our success has transcended the scope of a social marketing agency to become Marriott’s creative agency for the region.” The execution of this program spans across many touch-points beyond digital and social. Most notably, the program is embedded in the hotel experience and has dedicated Marriott associates at every participating hotel. Nobox even created a program management tool for Marriott associates to keep track of GoPro cameras and engage participating guests at the property level.

Watch the video: http://youtu.be/3IJd0OS6wE4

Visit the website: http://www.travelbrilliantly.com/gopro

Marriott press release: http://news.marriott.com/2015/01/gopro-marriott.html

via Nobox Leads the Creation of Marriott’s Innovative Marketing Program with GoPro | Business Wire.

New City Destination Ranking Released by Euromonitor International

EuromonitorMarket Research Company Euromonitor International released today a new ranking of the top 100 city destinations in terms of international tourist arrivals for 2013.

The top three cities on the list remained unchanged from 2012: Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. These Asian mega-cities benefited from their locations in heavily populated areas, large economies and proximity to China.

While outbound travel from China is heavily influential for many of the cities listed, inbound tourism to China remains sluggish. China does remain the leading country for the number of cities featured in the top 100 with a total of eight. However, with the exceptions of Suzhou and Guilin, these cities experienced a decline in arrivals for 2013 due to an uncertain economic outlook, pollution concerns and tensions with Japan—a key source market.

Looking forward, city destinations may want to turn to the US market, the second largest source for outbound travel in 2013. The US has been a relatively mature market with outbound travel peaking in 2007, followed by yearly declines until recovery began in 2012. But a better economic environment, a stronger dollar and lower gas prices will likely boost outbound travel from the US.

“Cities in neighbouring countries to the US such as Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean will most likely see growth in US travellers,” according to Euromonitor’s Head of Travel and Tourism, Caroline Bremner. “Western European cities will likely benefit too, thanks to strong cultural positioning and historical ties to the US.”

Top Five Cities Destination Rankings Listed Below:

  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong (25,587.3 arrivals)
  • Singapore, Singapore (22,455.4 arrivals)
  • Bangkok, Thailand (17,467.8 arrivals)
  • London, United Kingdom (16,784.1 arrivals)
  • Paris, France (15,200.0 arrivals)

via New City Destination Ranking Released by Euromonitor International.

Asian cities account for a third of the most visited cities

Over a third of all destinations are located in the Asian Pacific region, illustrating strong regional travel trends within Asia, as well as the growing connections throughout the region. Within the top 10, six of the leading cities are from Asia, with the top three remaining unchanged from last year – Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok. These three Asian mega-cities serve as some of the top destinations for Chinese travellers as well as being air network hubs. Bangkok showed the strongest growth among the top 10 cities, up 10.4% from 2012 to reach 17.4 million arrivals, despite political unrest breaking out at the end of the year. Chinese visitors are key to Thailand’s booming arrivals, with close links between the countries as well as efficient and short transport connections. A new Asian arrival on the list is the South Korean city of Jeju with 1.77 million visitors, growing 46.3% in 2013.

Chinese visitors replaced Japanese arrivals as the most important source market for South Korea in 2013. About 70% of international visitors to Jeju Island are Chinese, aided by the no-visa policy as well as improved cruise facilities, direct flights from the Chinese mainland, and a plethora of duty-free shopping opportunities. While outbound Chinese tourism is hugely influential in many of the cities listed, inbound tourism remains sluggish. China does remain the leading country for the number of cities featured in the top 100, with a total of eight cities. However, with the exceptions of Suzhou and Guilin, all these cities experienced a decline in arrivals for 2013. Beijing in particular continues to be affected by the slowdown in the Chinese economy as well as pollution.

India’s leading cities, Delhi and Mumbai, though, experienced growth of 27% and 22%, respectively, in 2013, with both of them receiving around 3.6 million visitors.  The depreciation of the rupee against the US dollar made it much cheaper to travel to India in comparison to previous years, aiding inbound tourism.

GCC countries are the shining stars of the Middle East

The GCC counties are well represented by four countries, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all having cities in the top 100. The latter is home to Dubai, the region’s starTweet-This city for arrivals with a total of 10.5 million visitors, up 7% on the previous year. The United Arab Emirates government has worked hard in recent years promoting the country as a safe family tourism destination, which has benefitted Dubai, and also neighbouring emirates Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, which also feature in the top 100. These cities have also picked up a lot of arrivals who previously would have opted for destinations such as Egypt before its recent instability.

Saudi Arabia features three cities in the top 100: Mecca, East Province and Riyadh. 2013 was a strong year for inbound tourists visiting Mecca for religious pilgrimage, with arrivals reaching 7.5 million due to massive expansions at the holy mosques as well as a growing number of hotels. This is in spite of concerns about the MERS virus, which was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

Doha, in Qatar, was the Middle Eastern city showing the best growth in 2013, reaching 3.8 million arrivals, up by 21.2%. Business tourism is the mainstay of arrivals, due to Qatar’s substantial oil and gas industry, but leisure tourism is growing slowly with the country focusing largely on cultural and sporting attractions to entice visitors.

Europe courting Russian and Chinese visitors

London and Paris remain Western Europe’s leading cities for arrivals with 16.8 million and 15.2 million, respectively, in 2013. Turkey features strongly in the list, with Antalya, Istanbul and Artvin all showing good growth for the year. Russian arrivals were key to this growth, with Antalya hosting 75% of all visitors from Russia to Turkey. Visas are not required for Russians staying less than 60 days in Turkey, and Antalya provides beach locations such as Kemer, Alanya, Belek, Kas, and Side, which are popular with Russian tourists. Zurich in Switzerland has one of the highest growth rates for arrivals in Europe, at 23.6%, and it welcomed 2.26 million arrivals in 2013. Increasing numbers of tourists from China and Russia are visiting the city, aided by the fact that Switzerland is within the Schengen visa zone, and offers excellent transportation links and air connections.

A reshuffling of future source markets

The long-heralded rise of the Chinese outbound traveller is set to continue with China overtaking Germany as the number one source of outbound international travel in 2017. Nearby Asian cities, especially those located in countries with relaxed or no visa requirements, will benefit immensely. However, Chinese travellers are becoming more adventurous – travelling farther afield and exploring on their own as opposed to in a tour group. It is important for cities to understand the changing Chinese travellers’ desires and build a strong marketing message to court them.

The outlook for Russian travellers was equally bright just a year ago, but the deteriorating economic situation and the rapid decline of the rouble now call into question how strong a source market Russia will be, especially for city destinations in important sun destinations such as Turkey, Egypt and Thailand.

However, city destinations may want to turn their eyes to the US market, which was the second largest source market in 2013. The US has been a relatively mature market, with outbound travel peaking in 2007, followed by yearly declines until a recovery began in 2012. But a better economic environment, a stronger dollar and lower gas prices will likely boost outbound travel from the US. According to the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, outbound travel from the US was up by Tweet-This9.6% year-to-date in October 2014 – a significant increase for a mature market. The benefit, though, may mostly accrue in cities in neighbouring countries in Central America (including Mexico) and the Caribbean, but Western European cities will likely benefit too thanks to strong cultural positioning and historical ties.

Uncertainty is the only certainty

The shift towards a more connected world is both a positive and a negative for international travel. The opportunities to attract visitors from new source markets are vast, but can quickly turn into challenges, whether it is due to geopolitical unrest, economic decline or natural disasters. It is important for city destinations to be prepared to quickly respond to the constantly evolving global landscape to have their tourism industries thrive.

 

How Google Now is Improving Travel. – 4Hoteliers

google nowIt seems that with every new release, smartphones are changing everything, they have had a significant impact on the travel industry over the last few years, and this trend doesn’t  seem to be stopping.

A lot of the larger hotel chains have developed stand alone apps to try and gain better control over the guest experience.

These apps are typically targeted to members of their loyalty programs or frequent travelers, but Google has a new product that might make them obsolete and level the playing field for independent hotels.

Google Now

Available with the latest versions of Google’s Android OS and through the Google Search app for the iPhone, Google Now is changing the way users are interacting with their smartphones. Using what they call Google Cards, Google Now displays a custom feed of information tailored specifically to the user. Day to day use provides local weather reports, traffic conditions, where you parked your car and new stories relevant to your interests. It pulls this data from the usage of your phone, GPS data and emails.

Specifically when traveling, Google Now can be incredibly useful. By scanning your emails, Google Now will automate a travel itinerary and update it on the fly. It knows what time your flights leave and will alert you when it’s time to check in, leave for the airport and even if there are any delays.

Google Now even generates your Boarding Passes as a scannable QR code. Once you arrive and check in, Google Now can display local attractions, nearby restaurants and other areas of interest. Now has become not only your itinerary, but your travel guide as well.

So how can hoteliers use these services to their advantage? Every hotel should make sure their emails are coded to trigger Google Now Cards. Contact your booking engine provider to see if their coding is compatible. If you’re doing your own coding, Google has provided a basic tutorial to help get started.

Encoding your outgoing emails to be captured by Google Now will only impact those currently using the service, others will see your emails normally. Once set up the Card can display a photo of your hotel, a Click to Call button, Reservation number, and Check In/Out times.

As mobile Check In features become more robust they will be integrated into Now as well. Most of the larger OTAs are already coding their emails to work with Now, so it’s important for hoteliers to match and exceed that experience as services grow.

Joshua Meehan is a Marketing Specialist at E-Marketing Associates, where he assists independent hotels with marketing strategies, social media, and contributes regularly to the E-Marketing Associates Blog. E-Marketing Associates works exclusively with independent hotels and builds innovative online marketing products that increase direct bookings and drive top-line revenue.

E-Marketing Associates helps independent hotels increase direct bookings and reduce reliance on OTAs. We build innovative online marketing products that deliver the best ROI for independent hotels. Our products aim to ultimately drive top-line revenue.

via How Google Now is Improving Travel. – Friday, 16th January 2015 at 4Hoteliers.