Travel industry mobile sales boom nears $100bn – Computer Business Review

Mobile transactions accounted for 12.5 percent of total travel sales in 2014.

According to Euromonitor’s WTM Global Trends Report 2015 report for the travel industry, a total of $96 billion of travel sales were conducted on mobile globally in the year.

Western Europe had the highest spend on travel through mobile, with around $33-34 billion of sales on mobile in 2014.

This was ahead of North America’s total at around $30-31 billion, and Asia-Pacific at around $20 billion.

Euromonitor forecast that mobile sales would see 22 percent compound annual growth between 2014 and 2019.

The future would also see a growth in personalised services.

“A gradual shift to one-to-one marketing in travel will be evident, with each consumer treated in a different way in terms of the overall marketing mix including pricing,” the report reads.

“Beacon technology is expected to take off in the next few years as a powerful tool to provide personalised experiences to consumers on the go.”

Download the report

Source: Travel industry mobile sales boom nears $100bn – Computer Business Review

How booking APIs are changing the online travel game – Tnooz

This is a viewpoint from Sean Sewell, co-founder and EMEA business development director, Performance Horizon.

Digital travel sales are expected to surpass $481 billion worldwide this year according to eMarketer.

The set-up

We’ve already seen many interesting developments this year. Google moved beyond being a third-party traffic referer and entered the distribution space. This bold move, which allows consumers to book travel directly via its Hotel Finder, puts the search giant in direct competition with some of its biggest customers such as and Skyscanner.  Likewise, TripAdvisor has evolved beyond being just a travel content site and now allows consumers to read reviews and book all in one place.

Most consumers are unaware that they get this seamless experience thanks to something behind the scenes – application programming interfaces (APIs).

The solution

Specifically, it is booking APIs are changing where and how consumers book travel. Here’s how booking APIs are driving change and how all parties – such as travel brands, digital marketing partners,  publishers and consumers – benefit from an increased investment and integration of online and mobile booking APIs.  Also addressed are how travel brands and digital marketing partners are working to overcome booking API challenges.

Travel BrandsBooking APIs are not new – far from it – so why are travel brands waking up to the potential of using booking APIs to optimize conversions and maximize inventory distribution?  First and foremost. it is the rapidly shifting sands of how consumers browse and buy. Most travel brands will tell you the same thing: people research flights and hotels on their phones in the morning and book on desktops later in the day.

While mobile experiences are getting better, many brands have not fully developed a streamlined mobile booking process.  Mobile is where digital marketing partners – such as Google, TripAdvisor, metasearch and OTAs –  and booking APIs are a perfect match. These partners understand mobile, not necessarily a core competency of a travel brand whose primary focus is putting planes in the air and providing great accommodations for guests.  By making their booking APIs available to a  range of online and mobile partners, travel brands can increase market distribution and booking conversions beyond traditional partners, while stemming drop off rates by providing the most seamless customer experiences.

Digital Marketing Partners

The benefits of booking APIs work both ways. Publishers other than metas, are leveraging booking APIs to both provide their readers with better experiences and boost their own profitability as a digital marketing partner.

Today’s consumers move on quickly if they can’t easily find information or a complete a transaction. For publishers large and small, eyeballs and time on site are like physical currency. In order to reduce bounce rate, publishers must provide experiences that enable readers to complete actions from start to finish all without leaving their site.

Reader’s Digest opened up travel booking directly from its online properties. This makes sense, as publishers know their readers best. By working with travel brands who have vast amounts of data (past bookings, frequent fliers, first class vs. economy), publishers can drive conversions and increase their revenues by providing readers with the most relevant offers.

It’s not all straightforward however.  Publishers have many challenges when using booking APIs, especially around credit card transactions, security, and data ownership. Many times, brands will control everything in order to secure customer data.

Overcoming challenges

In addition to the security issue, booking APIs can come with challenges around formatting and the investment to do so.  This is one pain-point IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) hopes to address.  As booking APIs evolve and become easier to implement and use, more and more partners will work directly with brands, increasing distribution and potentially reducing the need for more traditional tracking methods via affiliate networks and pure tracking providers.  And the technology is there for brands and their digital marketing partner to connect directly and share/track data in real-time.

To summarize, I think the trend toward booking APIs that’s taken hold this year will set the stage for an exciting era in the travel vertical. Competition will increase as the lines continue to blur between meta-search engines and OTAs, and as Google aggressively expands its direct booking clients.In general, the smartest brands and digital marketing partners will leverage booking APIs to unlock continued growth and profitability.

Source: How booking APIs are changing the online travel game – Tnooz

Expedia: all the key pieces fall into place | Travel Industry News & Conferences – EyeforTravel

expedia-logoInteresting analytical review of Expedia’s position in the marketplace by Eye for Travel…

“Has the OTA industry become a duopoly now that the US Justice Department has nodded through Expedia’s $1.3bn acquisition of Orbitz Worldwide? Certainly Wall Street has seen celebrations that only Expedia and Priceline among the monster groups are left standing. (Less research work to do!) The share prices of the two have been very upbeat since the head of the Justice Department’s Anti-Division, Bill Baer, announcement that “we concluded that the acquisition is unlikely to harm competitors and consumers”.

Source: Expedia: all the key pieces fall into place | Travel Industry News & Conferences – EyeforTravel

Study Identifies AdWords Benchmarks for B2B Verticals | KoMarketing

A new study by Bizible provides insight into benchmark data for AdWords success across seven B2B verticals.

Which B2B verticals are getting the most bang for their buck on Google AdWords? A new study by Bizible crunched the numbers using AdWords and Salesforce data to determine the answer and provide industry-specific benchmarks for B2B marketers.

At the top of the list, in terms of percentage of leads converting to percentage of revenue, are manufacturing and professional services. Both verticals were found to have a bump in opportunity-to-revenue conversion.

In manufacturing, AdWords represents 23 percent of all leads and opportunities generated and is responsible for 25 percent of the revenue generated by the entire pipeline. “This shows that leads that come from AdWords are high quality,” the authors of the study wrote.
B2B Marketing Verticals

Travel and finance verticals draw the highest percentage of leads (nearly 50 and 44 percent, respectively) from paid search. The travel vertical’s revenue percentage drops off significantly (to around 25 percent), but the finance vertical generates just under 40 percent of its revenue from AdWords leads.

“In every industry, AdWords contributes to at least 20 percent of all leads. PPC is clearly an important, if not the most important, marketing channel for those two industries (travel and finance) in particular,” the authors of the study wrote.

The analysis included data collected from 90 Bizible customers in the first six months of 2015.

Paid search top channel for ROI measurement

When it comes to ROI measurement, paid search was found to be the top digital channel by an Econsultancy and Oracle Marketing Cloud study earlier this year.

ROI is an important element for marketers to show their success, but also one of the biggest challenges. Approximately 24 percent of respondents to a study in February cited proving ROI as their top digital marketing challenge.

Source: Study Identifies AdWords Benchmarks for B2B Verticals | KoMarketing

The Iranian Tour Continues in Tabriz

Duncan Alexander from The Travel Marketing Store has been delivering a keynote address as the 5th Conference on Digital Marketing in Tourism in Iran.  The four city conference has been held in Terhan, Mashad, Tabriz and will be held in Banda Abbas on Thursday 3rd September.

The topic of Duncan’s presentation has been “The Impact of Technology on Travel Marketing and the opportunity for National Tourism Platforms”.  Speaking in Tabriz today Duncan stated that Iran had a unique opportunity as a nation to develop a single source, multi-language distribution platform for its tourism products.   “Should the right public private partnership be created”, he stated, “Iran could build a new generation distribution platform for its magnificent tourism products”.

P1030486Following a moving visit to the  Holy Shrine of Iman Reza in Mashad earlier this week Duncan today visited another UNESCO site, the Bazaar of Tabriz which is the largest covered Bazaar in the world. He commentated “This again, like most of the experiences we have had in the country so far, was amazing.  The Bazaar was a sensual feast of sights, sounds and smells and should be in every persons bucket list for Iran” .

The Digital Marketing in Tourism Conference, organised by media company Kaspid, has been attended by nearly 2,000 delegates so far.  “The thirst for knowledge sharing is so evident from the enthusiasm of the delegates who are keen to learn how to develop their visitor economies through studying international best practices”, stated Duncan.  “There are certainly new partnerships to be forged in this culturally and historically rich country”.

Illusions to complete its first European acquisition

Illusions in European acquisition first

Dubai-headquartered company to buy Polish travel technology firm anixe

Illusions is poised to make its first ever acquisition, with advanced negotiations under way to purchase Polish travel technology firm anixe for an undisclosed sum.

The deal was announced on 23rd April at the FVW Travel Technology Day in Cologne, Germany, will give the Dubai head-quartered travel technology specialist access to exclusive technology, global hotel content and a brand new client base across Europe.

It’s an agreement that will see anixe, which specialises in distributing global hotel product to the European and UK travel trade, become integrated into the Illusions business.

Illusions Founder and CEO Faisal Memon said the acquisition allowed the technology firm to “cherry pick” the facets of the anixe business that would both complement and enhance its core product and its rapidly-expanding global travel marketplace, the i-World Travel eXchange (iWTX).

“It was anixe’s technology, customers, infrastructure, distribution strength and crucially, its team of technology experts, headed up by a very smart CEO, that clinched the deal and I believe we can grow this into a much bigger business,” he said.

“The product and distribution capabilities of anixe will grow iWTX’s hotel inventory to exponential proportions, with our combined offering amounting to a staggering half a million unique hotels.”

Memon has made no secret of his quest to be market leader in Germany, Europe’s biggest travel market in a short time frame, paving the way for the domination of the entire continent.

Illusions already counts Der Touristik, part of the REWE Group, as one its top clients and the anixe partnership brings another German heavyweight into its fold – the country’s fourth largest German tour operator and travel agency, FTI Touristik.

Under deal terms anixe’s current base in Wroclaw, known as the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Poland, will become Illusions’ first office in Eastern Europe and its second on the continent. Its first European office opened its doors in Lisbon, Portugal just last week.

“Setting up a satellite office in Poland demonstrates our commitment to the European market, in particular Germany, and brings us much closer to our key clients, allowing us to meet their needs more effectively,” said Memon

anixe is a technology firm that like Illusions, has spent 18 years creating customised solutions specifically for the travel industry.

The company’s Founder and CEO Piotr Zolnierek said he been looking for an opportunity to grow his business for some time but had rejected acquisition requests from several interested parties until Memon came along.

“We share the same attitude to management and business and there are huge synergies between our two businesses,” he said.

“At anixe we have some unique inventions that Illusions can market and sell and with the expertise of our two companies combined, we will create a technology firm like no other.”

anixe will give Illusions access to technology that maps the same hotel product across different sources to a room type level, refining searches to show the best deals by room category, which no other system can offer. These searches are also customisable by market.

What’s more, anixe also boasts the technology to generate the different cache file formats unique to the German, French and Dutch markets, plus its processing times are lightning fast.

Memon said anixe’s innovative hotel mapping, real-time caching and booking engine technology was one of the firm’s top assets.

“With this acquisition comes a number of enhancements to our platform, with functionality and out-of-the-box solutions for the global travel industry that will set us apart in this competitive market place,” he said.

via Tour Operator & DMC software – Illusions Online Travel Technology – News – Illusions in European acquisition first.

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, 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 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.

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.

Expedia Acquires Travelocity From Sabre for $280 million


Sabre & TravelocityPublished: Jan 23, 2015 at 3:40 pm EST

The online tourism market was shaken today with the news of Expedia Inc. (NASDAQ:EXPE) acquiring the online travel agency, Travelocity, from Sabre Corp. (NASDAQ:SABR) for $280 million in cash. The deal is the continuation of a strategic marketing agreement between Expedia, Inc. and Travelocity, which enables the former to power the technology platforms for the latter’s websites in US and Canada. This agreement allows access to Expedia, Inc.’s supply as well its customer service and support program.

Expedia is one of the pioneers of online travel industry, which, over the years, has cemented its position and made an extensive brand portfolio, covering many aspects of the tourism and travel market. It provides travel information, and hotel and flight bookings, as well as localized websites in 31 countries to cater to local audiences, amid other services.

Expedia, Inc.’s President and CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, commented on this development saying: “Travelocity is one of the most recognized travel brands in North America, offering thousands of travel destinations to more than 20 million travelers per month, The strategic marketing agreement we’ve had in place has been a marriage of Travelocity’s strong brand with our best-in-class booking platform, supply base, and customer service. Evolving this relationship strengthens the Expedia Inc. family’s ability to continue to innovate and deliver the very best travel experiences to the widest set of travelers, all over the world.”

Sabre is a leader in the global travel industry and provides technology, data, software, and distribution solutions. The company’s services are utilized by many players in the tourism and travel industry, from airlines to hotel management, in ensuring the success of operations such as reservations, revenue tracking, and flight and crew management. The President and CEO of the company, Tom Klein, acknowledged that Sabre and Expedia have had a successful partnership in boosting Travelocity’s business, and called today’s decision to be in the interest of the company.

Expedia, Inc. stock is up 2.16% today trading at $88.56, while Sabre stock is up 1.29% trading at $20.75 as of 3:25 PM EST.

via Expedia (EXPE) Acquires Travelocity From Sabre (SABR) For $280 million.

Hotelplan looking to buy Kuoni Switzerland – TTG Asia

Kuoni logoHotelplan looking to buy Kuoni Switzerland

Raini Hamdi, Singapore, January 16, 2015

THE Hotelplan Group has emerged as a suitor for Kuoni Switzerland.

CEO Thomas Stirnimann confirmed with TTG Asia e-Daily “we are looking at it” when asked if the company was keen to buy Kuoni Switzerland.

“I guess we would be the best owner by far,” he said when asked for his views on who would be the likely buyers of the outbound businesses Kuoni has put up for sale.

If the deal goes through, Hotelplan would consolidate its position in Switzerland, where it is the second-largest tour operating company after Kuoni.

Asked about the future of the tour operating business, Stirnimann said: “We can only say that it is working out well for us, but you needed to adapt a couple of years ago. Today there is no more B2B or B2C business but only business with which you serve all channels.”hotelplan logo

Now that Kuoni has made known its intention to sell its outbound units, a few sources interviewed speculated that potential buyers could be the bigger players in the Middle East, private equity companies, or other non-travel related investors.

“I would be surprised if any of the larger travel groups in Europe purchased them given their current directions, although maybe Flight Centre might see value in their global expansion plans,” opined Chris Bailey, senior vice president sales & marketing Centara Hotels & Resorts Thailand.

On who they wished would buy, several Kuoni groundhandlers in the region are wistful.

“There are not many companies that invest in customer care and training like Kuoni does. Many talk about it but pass it to the ground agency to carry it out. Kuoni ensures the ground agency understands what the brand stands for, how important the customer is to Kuoni and why you should be proud to be part of the Kuoni group. The annual training for our staff looking after Kuoni customers are well organised and gives our staff a sense of pride to be a part of Kuoni,” said Judy Lum, group vice president sales and marketing, Tour East Singapore.

Lum wished Kuoni would reconsider. “I had hoped they would synergise the model of GTA with Kuoni tour operating and be the first to be able to give the consumers what they expect as a holiday, yet deliver the efficiency in the booking process for the customers of today. I know the business models of GTA and Kuoni are different worlds but they serve the customers of the same planet who expect a lot from each,” she said.

A source lambasted Kuoni for the sale announcement. “I do not think that it is wise to announce a sale of a company when you have no buyer.

“Firstly you demoralise your own staff, secondly you discourage existing and new clients to book with you, and thirdly you devalue your own company image/share value,” said the source.

Centara’s Bailey shared some of that sentiment. “All situations like this have an impact on the staff (I have seen a few myself [as a tour operator before]), however upbeat the message from management. It’s the fear of the unknown and potential change that always disrupts people’s attention to their day job.

“On the other hand, as I said before, if staff can be engaged with the change and kept in the loop with regular updates, then they can go the extra mile during this transition period.

“The other threat is of course from the competition as it’s often an opportunity to cherry pick talent and or commercial arrangements in such times.”

Kuoni contracting managers contacted by TTG Asia e-Daily on the impact on them did not respond at press time.

via Hotelplan looking to buy Kuoni Switzerland – TTG Asia – Leader in Hotel, Airlines, Tourism and Travel Trade News.