Press Release: Over 30 travel marketing experts to provide insights at The Travel Marketing Forum, Dubai 24th Sept

PRESS RELEASE 

Middle East’s Premier Travel Marketing Event to convene in Dubai on 24th September

Insights from over 30 leading travel marketing experts

Dubai Tourism, Expedia, Yahoo, SkyTech and IBEX Global added to the conference content

Travel Marketing leaders to gather in Dubai to discuss a diverse yet interrelated set of topics

 

Press Release: Dubai – 18th September 2014 

In just under a week the Middle East’s premier Travel Marketing event will take place in Dubai.

Some of the world’s leading travel brands and marketing services providers will gather for a day of knowledge sharing and business development.

 

Amadeus, a leading travel technology company, will present a report on Middle East booking trends, internet penetration, smart phone usage, booking and  payment patterns, booking channels and social media trends in the travel sector.

Illusions Online, a Dubai based travel business technology provider for the leisure sector, will talk to their new generation cloud based leisure packaging capability and their strategy to create a global online travel exchange.    

 

Other speakers come from leading brands such as Facebook, Google, TripAdvisor, Jumeirah and Emirates.

The programme also includes interviews with the Head of Strategy for dnata travel and the CEO of The Entertainer.  Technology companies such as SkyTECH Solutions and Comarch will share their views on Big Data and Customer Relationship Management in the travel sector.

In a key panel on destination marketing, Dubai Tourism will highlight the power of local advocacy.

Yahoo will present a case study on how they have assisted travel companies with their online exposure and IBEX Global will highlight their recent regional launch of their Customer Experience Management Technology.

Mohamed Al Rais, Deputy CEO of Al Rais Travel, will be joined by representatives from Expedia, destinia.com and e-Tourism Frontiers on a panel debate on the development of the online travel market.

Porton Group will reveal a revolutionary technology that can be used by the travel sector to screen travellers for potentially contagious diseases without significant disruption to the airline check-in process.

Duncan Alexander, Director at The Travel Marketing Store stated “We have been delighted by the response that we have received from the travel marketing community to the concept of our event. The content is truly exceptional and we look forward to what will be an enlightening day”.

Over 40 companies will be represented at this year’s event which will also hold “The Global Travel Marketing Awards” and “The Market Place for Travel Marketing Services” where buyers and suppliers meet to discuss new services.

via Press Release: Over 30 travel marketing experts to provide insights at The Travel Marketing Forum, Dubai 24th Sept.

Airbnb roll out a new brand identity centered on “belonging anywhere in the sharing economy”

Airbnb have recently announced and launched a complete overhaul of its brand identity. 

Airbnb is a community marketplace for people to list, discover and book unique spaces around the world through mobile phones or the internet. Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences at any price point, with over 800,000 listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries.  It has found accommodation solutions for over 15 million customers.

airbnb old logo

Old Logo

airbnb_logo_detail

New logo

The launch is not without controversy with a number of industry commentators poking fun at the suggestive nature of the logo in addition to claims of plagiarism.

We like it….and have taken an extract from their blog written by Brian Chesky one of the co-founders that provides insights to the thinking behind the new brand identity.

“In the end, nothing can express our identity more profoundly than the stories of people who make up this community. When we started Airbnb, I had no idea about the people we would meet, or the friendships I would make. Then I met Amol, one of the first guests, who later invited me to his wedding in India. I met Sebastian, who was trapped in his house in the middle of the London Riots in 2011. Before his own mother had a chance to check that he was okay, seven of his former guests did. And I met Shell, who saw the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, and listed her home for free to those who were displaced. 100415a-HQ28-007 NATO Headquarters Brussels. These people, along with millions of others, have their own unique backgrounds and life experiences. We all come from vastly different cultures and places. And yet, no matter how many miles may separate us, we are united by the universal, powerful, human desire to connect, to understand, and to belong. So together, with this new identity, I look forward to starting the next chapter of this improbable journey with the idea that first set it in motion—the belief that belonging can take us anywhere”. — Brian Chesky airbnb_logo_4things

Read more on the drivers behind the new brand positioning at:

http://blog.airbnb.com/belong-anywhere/

Online travel agents: Sun, sea and surfing | The Economist

economist logoIn 1996, when Microsoft was still ahead of the big technology trends, it launched a small brand called Expedia Travel Services. It hoped to persuade customers to book holidays online. It was not an immediate success. Few households had an internet connection then and, just as importantly, most people thought the idea of buying a holiday through the ether not to mention typing their credit-card details into a web browser plain foolish.

Few think the idea crazy now. Expedia, which Microsoft sold in 2001, has become the world’s biggest travel agent see chart. Last year, through brands such as Trivago, Hotels.com and Hotwire, as well as its eponymous operation, its gross bookings were $39.4 billion. The third-largest travel agent is also an online firm: Priceline, whose brands include Booking.com, made reservations worth $39.2 billion in 2013. Last year online travel agents OTAs had combined bookings of $278 billion, according to Euromonitor, a market-research firm.

Indeed, when it comes to reserving flights, hotel rooms and rented cars for holidaymakers, the online-travel market looks quite mature in many rich countries. PhoCusWright, another research firm, reckons that online booking now accounts for 43% of total travel sales in America and 45% in Europe. Since much of the rest is accounted for by business trips handled by specialist corporate-travel agents such as Carlson Wagonlit, scope for the OTAs’ market to grow seems limited. That explains Priceline’s purchase, announced on June 13th, of OpenTable, a restaurant-reservation website, for $2.6 billion: it sees this as a way to earn commission on another chunk of tourists’ spending.  There are some big markets where online bookings have yet to take off.   Germans still typically arrange their holidays through traditional travel agents. Although the Chinese now spend more on travel in aggregate than any other country’s population, in 2012 they booked only 15% of their trips by value online, says PhoCusWright.   It thinks this will rise to 24% by 2015, making the Chinese online-travel market worth around $30 billion.  Much of the expansion will be driven by ambitious local firms. Ctrip, the biggest, makes most of its money from air tickets and package tours to Greater China. But as Chinese tourists become more intrepid—ranging farther afield and no longer shuffling around in big tour groups—online hotel bookings are becoming more important.  Ctrip’s hotels division has grown at an average of 25% a year for the past five years, according to Trefis, a stockmarket-analysis firm, and had revenues of $366m in 2013. It will not be long before it eyes Western markets more keenly.

To stay ahead, the big OTAs are having to follow their customers as they switch from desktop computers to smartphones and tablets.  By 2017 over 30% of online travel bookings by value will be made on mobile devices, thinks Euromonitor. In part this will be the result of OTAs making their apps more appealing by, for example, adding location services that help travellers find the nearest rooms and restaurants. But it is also because the way people plan trips is changing. It generally takes a family more than three weeks to book a holiday, from deciding to travel to clicking the “pay now” button, in which time they may visit seven websites, says Faisal Galaria of Alvarez & Marsal, a consultant. In future, travellers are likely to become more impetuous, he says, and smartphones appeal to those making last-minute bookings.

For those still surfing for holidays on their PCs, other technological advances are on the horizon.  Amadeus, which supplies the software behind many OTAs’ booking systems, is developing new ways to entice customers to the agents’ websites. One is to use browser-tracking technology to aim personalised ads at consumers, showing them the latest prices for trips in which they had previously shown an interest. Such targeted advertising has been common among non-travel retailers for some time. However, until now it has proved trickier for the travel business as it involves collating frequently changing data from many airlines and hotels.

Gorilla marketing

Even with help from such marketing tricks, the smaller OTAs will find it increasingly hard to compete with the big two. Online travel is an industry in which size counts. The scale of Expedia and Priceline means they can sign up more hotels, and negotiate better prices, than their smaller rivals. This is a business that requires heavy spending on marketing, which hands another advantage to the big two.  OTAs will spend more than $4 billion this year on digital advertising, according to eMarketer, also a research firm; and Priceline and Expedia will account for over half of this. Some smaller rivals may find profitable niches, but in general it will be hard for them to grow. Whenever they open a door, “there are already two 800lb gorillas fighting it out in the room,” says Mr Galaria.

Not only gorillas. The observant may also spot an elephant in the room.  In 2010 Google bought ITA, a maker of flight-search software, and the next year it launched a flight-comparison website. The giant search company has also improved its hotel listings by including photographs and virtual tours, as well as price information. It has the clout to disrupt Expedia and Priceline if it so wishes. It has not done so yet. Google, many believe, would be loth to cannibalise such a large chunk of its main business: analysts think the big two will account for as much as 5% of its advertising revenue this year.

So besides Ctrip, perhaps the biggest threat to the big two OTAs is TripAdvisor, a popular travel-reviews site spun off by Expedia in 2011. This month it said travellers would be able to book hotels directly through its smartphone app. Weeks before Priceline’s deal with OpenTable, TripAdvisor announced it was buying La Fourchette, another online restaurant-booking service. The online-travel market is consolidating fast, but so far holidaymakers need not worry about a lack of options

via Online travel agents: Sun, sea and surfing | The Economist.

Global travel sites target fast-growing China market – TRAVEL – Globaltimes.cn

Hotels onlineOne of the worlds largest online travel booking sites released their official Chinese website and app earlier this month.”We hope to show our determination on developing the Chinese market by offering online hotel booking services of high quality,” said Zhuang Peifu, marketing director in China of hotels.com, at the press conference.

Hotel booking site HRS also entered the China market in July last year, offering Chinese language pages and a booking system on websites and mobile terminals. Its listings include castles and those with special services or designs, especially European destinations.China has become the largest tourism spender in the world, according to China Tourism Academy statistics released last August. With about 98 million person-time Chinese mainland tourists traveling overseas last year, the market has potential.

The prediction for this year is 16 percent growth to 114 million.  Chinese online travel booking sites are also growing rapidly. Two domestic online travel booking sites – ctrip.com and qunar.com – ranked 10th and 15th globally on skift.com last October. Customized for Chinese”There are a lot of foreign websites offering hotel booking services with different promotion styles, but some of them set up their Chinese language pages early, which means it will be easier for them to habituate Chinese customers,” said Li Peng, a freelance overseas travel consultant.

Li recommended two sites under Priceline Group, booking.com and agoda.com as his first choices when booking foreign hotels for his customers.Cooperating with Chinas largest online booking site ctrip.com, booking.com has explored the Chinese market since 2012. With its customer services and Chinese language pages, the site has gained wide praise from Chinese users. Of course another reason booking.com is preferred by many Chinese customers is that most bookings can be canceled for free. The site can also automatically form an itinerary list with details of all the hotels customers are booking, a very necessary tool for Chinese people applying for travel visas in other countries, such as the Schengen visa for European countries. Most places can be changed or canceled for free later if they want to change their destinations or schedules.

Booking.com has taught a lesson to new arrivals. Both HRS and hotels.com announced it was free to cancel or change a booking.  “These international websites have their strong database of hotels, which means many hotels can be found on all of these sites and the discounts they offer always make a difference over time,” Li said.HRS customized services for Chinese tourists. “China friendly” listed hotels offer special services for Chinese customers and “HRS Deals” promote half-price hotels daily.Agoda.com attracts members with its personal purchase points. “We can get the discount back by adding up the purchase points which means that the more we book,%

via Global travel sites target fast-growing China market – TRAVEL – Globaltimes.cn.

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World’s first Arabic iOS travel metasearch app launched by Wego

World's first Arabic iOS travel metasearch app launched by WegoSingapore, 25 March, 2014 – Wego, the 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.

“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.“This is particularly true of mobile and tablet users, so it made complete sense to invest in a fully localised version of our mobile app, especially where experts predict an almost 14-fold increase in 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.”“Wego was the first comprehensive travel metasearch site to be launched in the Middle East, also in Arabic, at http://www.wego.ae in 2012,” added Masri. “We continue to build valuable partnerships with local travel tourism businesses in the region including Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, GulfAir, Musafir, ArabRooms and more to be announced shortly.

”Tourism businesses can now also use their own branded version of Wego’s metasearch platform on mobile in Arabic, using Wego’s APIs available through the Wego Affiliate Network http://www.wan.travel.Wego’s free travel metasearch app was recently launched in the company’s core markets and is rapidly gaining traction; ranking number one new travel app in Singapore, China and Thailand, number two in India, and in the top 100 travel apps in 20 countries

.“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.“There were a number of challenges that we faced in developing an authentic user experience in Arabic that would meet the expectations of the local market,” Varley continued. “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.”“We’re very proud of our product team, made up of mostly English speakers, who, in conjunction with our MENA colleagues, were able to produce such a high quality app in Arabic which is one of the most challenging languages in the world in terms of translation.”“Wego has now be

via World’s first Arabic iOS travel metasearch app launched by Wego.

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The Multi-Country Sites Strategy For Online Travel Brands: A Deep Dive – Skift

Skift logoThe largest online travel sites grapple with this question daily: What is the most effective way to conquer the world and plant roots everywhere from Greece to Colombia and Indonesia?It’s a complex question with many elements in such an expansion strategy, but one of the tools in these companies’ arsenals is launching distinct country sites with their own unique, top-level domains such as TripAdvisor.com.br TripAdvisor Brazil, Trivago.ro Trivago Romania, or FlightCentre.com.cn Flight Centre China, for example. googletag.cmd.pushfunction { googletag.display”div-gpt-ad-1390432568424-0″; }; Skift examined the URLs of the top online travel sites around the world and came up with a list of the top 10 travel-booking companies with the most top-level domains, and uncovered some surprises and nuances in strategy.Priceline 240, Expedia 81, and HotelsCombined 61 have the most country sites with distinct, top-level domains for consumer-facing websites. In this list, which is an estimate based on companies’ answers to our queries in some cases, public filings, and our own research, we counted top-level domains such as Hotels.com and Hoteles.com, but not ca.hotels.com or num

via The Multi-Country Sites Strategy For Online Travel Brands: A Deep Dive – Skift.

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Digital Travel Sales Mature Worldwide – eMarketer

emarketerNew eMarketer figures show rapid growth in emerging markets

Consumers across the world are becoming more comfortable making purchases on the internet, and digital travel sales are beginning to mature on a global basis.

eMarketer develops digital travel sales estimates as a subset of business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce for 19 global markets, and according to our January 2014 forecasts, only three of those markets will still see double-digit growth rates by 2017: China, India and Italy. China’s robust 20.0% growth rate will be a significant outlier, with Italy and India increasing at 11.5% and 11.1%, respectively. We expect Spain to be the only other country growing faster than 7% in 2017.

Travel’s share of overall B2C ecommerce is often a bellwether for maturation of an ecommerce market overall, since travel tickets tend to be the first items consumers become comfortable purchasing online. In addition, due to its relative price tag in comparison with most retail items, travel often makes up a considerable portion of digital ecommerce before consumers adopt other types of retail purchasing.

eMarketer estimates that only four markets will see travel increase its share of B2C ecommerce between 2012 and 2017: Italy, Brazil, Finland and South Korea (the latter seeing a marginal 0.2-percentage-point increase)—while each of the other countries in our forecast will see travel lose share over the period.

via Digital Travel Sales Mature Worldwide – eMarketer.

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WIT – WEB IN TRAVEL : The Wrap: Wego unveils travel trends from Singapore, China, Hong Kong in the Year of the Horse

wegoMeta search engine, Wego, looks into the crystal ball and predicts the destinations travellers from the major hubs of Singapore, China, and Hong Kong will make their way to in the coming Year of the Horse. Singapore: In 2013, Bangkok and Hong Kong were the most popular cities visited by Singaporean travellers due to short travelling times and the strong Singapore dollar against the Thai baht and Hong Kong dollar, said David Lai, Wego’s market development manager for Singapore and Malaysia. However, the Year of the Horse will see Singaporean travellers showing greater interest and making more visits to Malaysia, especially Johor and Myanmar. “Johor has grown in popularity for Singaporeans, especially with the addition of a number of family oriented attractions and theme parks such as Legoland, Hello Kitty Land, as well as the shopping opportunities at the Johor Premium Outlets,” Lai explained. “Myanmar is capturing the attention of Singaporeans, and both business and leisure travel to Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, continues growing, beginning in earnest in 2012.” China: Zhao Tang, market development manager for Wego China, said Taiwan and Hong Kong are still the most popular destinations for Chinese mainlanders. “However, internationally we expect extensive growth as a greater choice of cheaper flights become available and foreign countries welcome Chinese travellers by improving their visa services.” Chinese travellers also love island resorts such as Bali, Phuket and Kota Kinabalu Sabah. “Both Indonesia and Thailand provide Visa-on-Arrival facilities, and Malaysia offers a simplified visa application process and 120 hours visa free transits, which has also helped make these destinations so popular.” Zhao also sees more Chinese visitors making a beeline to countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Korea wit the relaxation of visa restrictions there. Hong Kong: Wego’s market development manager for Taiwan and Hong Kong, James Huang, said the growth of low cost carriers in Asia would see more Hong Kongers travelling to South East and North East Asia. “There’s been tremendous growth in Hongkongers travelling to nearby countries such as Taiwan, Japan and South Korea; while long distance travel to the USA and Australia has enjoyed a mild increase,” he added.

via WIT – WEB IN TRAVEL : The Wrap: Wego unveils travel trends from Singapore, China, Hong Kong in the Year of the Horse.

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Vacation.com Unveils New Brand and Positioning | Travel Agent Central

Vacation.com revealed details of its new brand that the consortia says is positioned around travel agents’ aspirations to “Belong. Inspire. Grow.” The updated tagline more incisively reflects the industry-leading role outlined in the organization’s positioning statement, Vacation.com said: “Vacation.com is an innovative network of professionals that celebrates highly driven travel agencies by supporting them with the tools to help them grow and inspire.”

via Vacation.com Unveils New Brand and Positioning | Travel Agent Central.

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How Booking Sites Performed on Stock Markets in 2013 – Skift

Priceline deservedly got most of the attention among online travel agencies in 2013 as its share price shattered the historic $1,000 mark in September and closed the year up 78.1% at $1,162.40.

But, leapfrogging-bragging rights for the year goes to lowly Orbitz Worldwide, which closed out the year with its stock price increasing 149.3% to $7.18.

Orbitz has a long way to go: Priceline’s shares could lose $7.18 in a day without breaking a sweat.

Orbitz made some strides in 2013, shifting some of its revenue mix toward hotels, notching some private-label wins and patching up one of its brands in Australia, but its room-night growth was lackluster and its sales targets for 2014 are sub-par.

via How Booking Sites Performed on Stock Markets in 2013 – Skift.