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

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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/

Metasearch | L2: Business Intelligence for Digital

hotel searchWhile travellers are increasingly dependent on metasearch to inform their hotel booking decisions, hotels are losing out to OTAs on top booking positions and traffic to brand sites. The L2 Prestige Hotels 2014 Metasearch Insight Report reveals the performance gap and shows how hotel brands can leverage metasearch to fight back against OTAs to drive consumers to their sites for direct bookings and higher margins.

via Metasearch | L2: Business Intelligence for Digital.

Bitcoin Acceptance Yields Marketing Wins for Expedia | ClickZ

Expedia LogoExpedia is now accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment. The move gives the company cost savings and also allows it to market itself as a high-tech, customer-focused e-business.

Bitcoin_logoOnline travel site Expedia.coms announcement that it is accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment for hotel purchases is not only a sign of the decentralized peer-to-peer payment network inevitably going mainstream, but it also gives Expedia, like other early adopters, some distinct marketing advantages.

As of last week, customers can shop from Expedias inventory of hotels and pay for accommodations using Bitcoin. Expedia partnered with third-party Bitcoin payment processor Coinbase to integrate payment support into the hotel booking experience on its website.  An Expedia rep says its “basically just a matter of time” until the brand rolls out the functionality to other product lines like flights and car rentals and notes the speed will depend on the demand the brand initially sees with hotels.  According to the Bitcoin Press Center, Bitcoin is in use by a growing number of businesses and individuals, including restaurants, apartments, and law firms, as well as online services such as Namecheap, WordPress, Reddit, and Flattr.

via Bitcoin Acceptance Yields Marketing Wins for Expedia | ClickZ.

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.

Shaping the Future of Travel in the GCC – a landmark FREE Report from Amadeus

Shaping the Future of Travel in the GCC – a landmark FREE Report from Amadeus.

It has been an absolute privilege today to take part as the moderator in the launch of a landmark study and event organised by Amadeus.  Their new report on the Future of Travel in the GCC is undoubtedly one of the best ever and most important travel industry related reports conducted in the region.

Drawing on the expertise of industry leaders across 22 travel brands and insights from over 1,000 end travellers this report describes the key effects that will shape the future of travel for this exciting and important part of the world.

amadeus new logo on blueThe headline “Big Effect” is that rapidly changing demographics will fuel a major shift in GCC travel over next 15 years.  The coming-of-age of the GCC’s youthful population will reshape the travel industry in the region over the next fifteen years, as digital natives instinctively turn to mobile technologies and social media to plan, book and manage travel.

Today, nearly 25% of the GCC population is under 15 years of age, and as this demographic becomes tomorrow’s decision makers, it will shake up traditional behaviours to become increasingly self-directed. As outlined in the Amadeus-commissioned new report, Shaping the Future of Travel in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): Big Travel Effects, additional unfolding demographic forces such as a steady inflow of expatriate workers, robust natural population growth and a growing middle class, will combine to drive a new and divergent set of travel behaviours and needs in the region.

The report, written by Frost & Sullivan and Insights and commissioned by Amadeus, examines and contextualises the various ways a new travel landscape will develop in the Gulf region over the next fifteen years.

“The Gulf region is poised for a new era of travel as investment in infrastructure, new tourism sectors, and governmental initiatives to ease intra- and extra-regional movement make the GCC more attractive to leisure and business travellers,” said Antoine Medawar, Vice President, MENA, Amadeus. He added, “The travel providers who address the nuanced needs of the region’s population stand to thrive in the coming decades. At Amadeus our people, our technology and our innovation are dedicated to helping our customers and partners to shape the future of travel in this region.”

Further key findings include:

Economies in the GCC are diversifying beyond oil, and specialist tourism sectors such as cruise, meetings and conferences and medical tourism play a prominent role in this diversification. As a result, GCC countries have maintained an average GDP growth of over 5% in the past decade, with a greater increase expected in the future.

Tourism will have a trickle-down effect into other sectors, furthering economic growth and diversification. Hospitality and construction in particular will benefit as the number of travellers entering or passing through the region increases -Qatar expects 3.7 million tourists in 2022 due to the FIFA World Cup and is investing $20 billion on tourism infrastructure and $140 billion on transport.

The GCC is working to make travel easier, both within the region and outbound. The difficulty of obtaining a visa has been the main reason for 33% of travellers surveyed not taking trips as often as they would like. By improving accessibility within the region and abroad, the number of intra-regional travellers is expected to increase four-fold by 2030.

“Travel in the Gulf region is changing. Economic diversification and a move from oil is an important driver, but there are many more subtle factors also at play. Changes in population and geopolitical pressure to open borders and make movement easier are also impacting the future of travel here,” observed Mona Faraj, Managing Partner, Insights.

The report was informed by a survey of some 1,000 travellers from the region as well as interviews with thought leaders in the travel industry. It highlights the technologically savvy and growing population of the GCC and predicts a travel landscape will develop in the region that is highly connected, personalised, and sustainable.

To download a free copy of the report “Shaping the future of Travel in the GCC: Big Travel Effects” please visit:

http://www.amadeus.com/blog/05/06/middle-east-report/

Cheapflights ups brand building efforts to support international expansion | News | Marketing Week

Fri, 25 Apr 2014 | By Russell Parsons

Cheapflights is increasing investment in brand building efforts as the travel search site looks to support international expansion plans.

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Travel search site Cheapflights is increasing the size of its marketing team and its marketing budget.

The firm has created a director of brand marketing role to oversee brand building and strategy for the Momondo Group owned brand.

The director will manage an increased marketing budget that will see the launch of its biggest campaign later this year, which will run in the UK and in markets including the US, Canada and Australia.

Once hired, the recruit will also oversee brand-building efforts in new territories. New sites are planned for several English language speaking countries –  details have not yet been announced but include Ireland where it does not have a site.

Momondo Group, which also owns the Momondo credited international marketing efforts when posting a 29.9 per cent increase in sales to £14.5m for the first quarter.

It also highlighted innovation efforts in mobile apps and optimised services. The company says 40 per cent of Cheapflights traffic comes from mobile devices, which is growing at a rate of 40 per cent annually.

The company wants Cheapflights to be the number one travel search brand in every territory it operates in.

In the UK, Cheapflights is facing increased competition from the likes of SkyScanner, which recently launched its biggest campaign and took on additional marketing resource to boost share, and Google ,which recently signed up Ryanair to make its flights available on the search giant’s Flights Search tool.

via Cheapflights ups brand building efforts to support international expansion | News | Marketing Week.

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BBC News – Facebook drones to offer low-cost net access

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO, shows off th...

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO Facebook. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Facebook has ambitious plans to connect the two-thirds of the world that has no net access, using drones, satellites and lasers.

The move was announced on the social media platform by founder Mark Zuckerberg.

It will put it in direct competition with Google, which is planning to deliver net access via balloons.

Both of the net giants want to extend their audiences, especially in the developing world.

Solar Drones: BBC photographDetails about Facebook’s plan were scant but it will include a fleet of solar-powered drones as well as low-earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites. Invisible, infrared laser beams could also be used to boost the speed of the net connections.

Last year Facebook and other technology companies launched internet.org to help bring net access to the huge swathes of the globe that are still not connected.

The social network has already teamed up with telecoms operators in the Philippines and Paraguay to double the number of people using the internet in that region.

“We’re going to continue building these partnerships, but connecting the whole world will require inventing new technology too,” Mr Zuckerberg said in his post.

To bring the project to fruition, Facebook has set up a Connectivity Lab that will include experts in aerospace and communication technology, from Nasa’s jet propulsion lab and its Ames research centre.

It has also hired a five-member team that worked at British firm Ascenta, whose founders developed the Zephyr, which holds the record for the longest-flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft.

Earlier this month there were rumours that the social network was interested in buying drone-maker Titan but there was no mention of this in the announcement.

Altruistic?

The plans form part of Facebook’s ambitions to extend its reach beyond its 1.2 billion audience, thinks Ovum analyst Mark Little.

“Zuckerberg is pushing this as an altruistic way of connecting more people in the world – the net as a basic human right – but by increasing the total of net connections it also increases Facebook’s members and the amount of sharing done, which in turn creates more space for advertising and drives its revenues in a massive way.”

Last year Google announced similar plans to develop solar-powered balloons to deliver net access to remote areas of the world.

Code-named Project Loon, 30 of the super-pressure balloons were launched in New Zealand in June.

“It is perhaps aptly named,” said Mr Little.

“It is going to have a lot of political hoops to jump through. Some governments won’t put up with having that fleet over their airspace.”

Mr Little thinks that for both Facebook and Google, the technology in their projects may prove to be “the easy bit” and that the real challenge will lie in persuading governments around the world that its alternative networks are viable.

via BBC News – Facebook drones to offer low-cost net access.

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Why Online Video Matters for Airline Marketing – Skift

English: Westjet 737-700 landing at Montréal-P...

Skift launch a new report

The spread of online video has affected marketing for almost every business-to-consumer industry, but it is particularly important to a commoditized and opaque business such as airlines.“I think that you see more and more content coming from airlines because it’s a unique business with such a big cost structure,” says Corey Evans, who manages sponsorship and community investment for WestJet, the Canadian airline known for its extravagant videos. “Most customers’ attitude to look for the lowest fare, no matter what. When you are in a dead heat with competitors, content could be the differentiating factor. It builds brand awareness and lets people know about how we treat our guests and our corporate social responsibility efforts.”Especially as travelers increasingly use online travel agents or meta search engines where multiple airlines’ prices can be com- pared side-by-side, engaging content could differentiate one from the next.

via Why Online Video Matters for Airline Marketing – Skift.

English: Westjet 737-700 landing at Montréal-P…

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Ryanair Partners With Travelport

A Ryanair Boeing 737-800, named Nyköping, take...

A Ryanair Boeing 737-800, named Nyköping, takes off from London Luton Airport, England. (2007) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ryanair, Europe’s favourite low fares airline, today (11 Mar) announced a new partnership with Travelport, a leading distribution services and e-commerce provider for the global travel industry, allowing Travelport-connected agents worldwide access to Ryanair’s low fares and comprehensive route network.

The combination of Ryanair’s low fares, extensive route network at primary and secondary airports, and No 1 or No 2 market share in most of Europe’s major travel markets, will enable Ryanair and Travelport to deliver a significant business travel platform, and allow Europe’s largest businesses to save both time and money by flying Ryanair. This significant partnership follows recent technology developments from Travelport making it the ideal partner for Ryanair to target the travel industry channel.

Ryanair continues to improve both its customer experience and offering and this partnership with Travelport, and the launch of a dedicated Ryanair group travel service, are the latest in a programme of developments, with a new business product set to be unveiled in the summer, along with a fully revamped Ryanair website, a brand new app and mobile boarding passes.

In London, Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs said:

“This partnership with Travelport is a significant development for Ryanair and for businesses across Europe and beyond as we continue to evolve our business offering. As Europe’s largest airline, we’ll carry over 81.5m customers this year on the largest route network, connecting 186 airports in 30 countries.

More than 22% of these customers already choose Ryanair for business travel and we expect that percentage to grow as this partnership allows corporate travel departments and businesses even greater access to Ryanair’s low fares and routes, ensuring they save millions of euro in travel expenses every year.”

Travelport’s Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Kurt Ekert said:

“We’re excited that Europe’s largest low fares airline has selected Travelport as its partner and is fully embracing what we can uniquely offer through our industry-leading airline distribution technology. We look forward to working together to help Ryanair achieve its business ambitions and extend its extensive choice of low fares to travel agency customers worldwide.”

via Ryanair Partners With Travelport.

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