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/

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.

What’s Hot in 2014? Taking Travel to New Extremes: travel market report

Ta Prohm 3Travelers want to go to extremes in 2014 – so travel agents should not hold back from steering their clients in new directions. So says travel trends expert Daniel Levine, executive director of the Avant-Guide Institute. Levine cites suborbital space flights, hotels inspired by luxury fashion brands and marijuana tours as some of the hot new options for travelers.“We’re seeing that 2014 will be the year for experiences and the extreme bragging rights that go with them,” he told Travel Market Report.“With the economy getting better, agents should encourage their clients to trade up for these experiences. People will be more receptive.”Here are seven travel trends Levine believes we’ll see this year. Trend #1. Uncharted territoryThe chance to venture where no tourist has gone before will take travelers on everything from suborbital space flights to submarine voyages to the deepest depths of the ocean, said Levine.

via What’s Hot in 2014? Taking Travel to New Extremes.

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Sojern raises $10 million more for travel data, ads – San Francisco Business Times

Sojern, an online travel data and ad targeting business, raised a $10 million Series C round of venture funding.

The nearly 100-person San Francisco company, started in 2007, has now raised a total of $45.7 million. Sojern runs a programmatic buying platform that uses machine-learning and data analysis to target travel related digital advertising, and it has offices in New York, Omaha and London.

The latest round was led by Triangle Peak Partners with participation of prior investors Norwest Venture Partners, Trident Capital, Focus Ventures and Industry Ventures.Sojern raises $10 million more for travel data, ads – San Francisco Business Times.

Introducing Where2TravelNext – A Powerful New Marketing Platform for Travel Professionals Provided at No Cost to Travel Agents, Subsidized by Travel Suppliers – Press Release – Digital Journal

Tallahassee, FL (PRWEB) September 30, 2013

Introduced by Travel Research Online, Where2TravelNext is the next-generation marketing platform to help today’s travel agents utilize their existing email database and Social Media channels as lead generators. It is designed to tap an agent’s own customers and prospects to increase sales using email marketing and social media. Best of all, the platform automates several elements of marketing so agents do not need to do any additional work, and since the program is funded by travel suppliers, it is provided at no cost to travel agents.

“Where2TravelNext enables travel agents to further enhance their offerings with an entire suite of marketing options with no extra work for them and at no additional cost as it’s subsidized by travel suppliers. The secret to increasing sales is to rev up marketing frequency. Where2TravelNext agents do just that by automating a lot of the work for them! We highly encourage travel agents and group planners to take advantage of this incredible lead generation platform,” said Caroline Hughes, travel agent support for Travel Research Online.

“Plus, Not only does Where2TravelNext provide agents with targeted ways to build interest and market to their clients, but it also gives our travel supplier partners assurance that their specials and deals are reaching more than one million consumer travelers who are directed back to their preferred travel agent for planning and booking expertise. It’s an exciting way to drive leads for travel agents and support travel suppliers at the same time,” continued Hughes.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1496899#ixzz2gq3wj05d

via Introducing Where2TravelNext – A Powerful New Marketing Platform for Travel Professionals Provided at No Cost to Travel Agents, Subsidized by Travel Suppliers – Press Release – Digital Journal.

Amadeus Simplifies Low-Cost Airline Bookings

Amadeus is making it easier for travel agents to make and manage bookings for low-cost and hybrid carriers, according to Alexandre Jorre, senior manager of commercial marketing.
EasyJet, the huge low-cost European airline based in Luton, U.K., is the first carrier to become a “light ticketing” airline.
Light ticketing is a new ticketless access level that generates a virtual ticket number to help standardize agency workflow. Pricing, ticketing and booking functionality offers the same look and feel as for other carriers.

Simplifying shopping
“We are improving the way agents can manage content for EasyJet,” Jorre told Travel Market Report. “We’ve improved the workflow across availability, pricing, issuance and reporting.”

via Amadeus Simplifies Low-Cost Airline Bookings.

WIT – WEB IN TRAVEL : Groupon makes comeback with travel, mobile push and a new “pull” model

One of the most frequent questions I’m asked these days – after Groupon set up its Travel vertical group in Asia Pacific earlier this year – is “how long do you think they will last?”

In the rapid-fire world of online, it seemed only yesterday when Groupon, the daily deals monster, was hailed as the game-changer in travel and today, some people are surprised that it’s actually still around and not imploded like the thousands of copycat sites that mushroomed after “the Groupon phenomenon”.

So when Seah Seah (left), formerly with Langham Hotels and prior to that, ZUJI, joined them as their travel head last October, many people were surprised – why would Seah join a company that is perceived to be floundering and its CEO Andrew Mason left in rather dramatic fashion, writing the most-talked-about resignation letter in the US corporate world?

via WIT – WEB IN TRAVEL : Groupon makes comeback with travel, mobile push and a new \\\’pull\\\’ model.

Groupon Acquires Last-Minute Travel App Blink (NASDAQ:GRPN)

Groupon LogoCHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Groupon today announced the acquisition of last-minute travel app Blink, a leading European destination for great deals on highly curated, same-day hotel bookings, bolstering its rapidly growing Groupon Getaways travel business. TheMadrid-based Blink works with more than 2,000 hotel partners in eight European countries. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“We are very excited to welcome the Blink team to the Groupon family,” said Aaron Cooper, senior vice president of Groupon Getaways. “The combination of a fantastic mobile app, same-day inventory management for properties and a team that is obsessed with mobile and last-minute travel will help us further expand our travel business as the go-to destination for great deals on great places to stay.”

The addition of same-day bookings gives Groupon Getaways another way to serve customers’ travel needs, whether it’s deals on hotels across the globe, all-inclusive travel packages or full-service tours in popular destinations. Blink’s easy-to-use mobile app caters to on-the-go travelers looking for unique hotels in travel hotspots across Europe and complements Groupon’s existing European travel offerings.

via Groupon Acquires Last-Minute Travel App Blink (NASDAQ:GRPN).

First Look at the $22 Million, 6-Year-in-the-Making Travel Planning Website Hopper – Skift

Dennis Schaal , Skift

The site, which likely is only visible to a segment of users, isn’t as pretty as Pinterest. But, Hopper offers image-led, or alternately, map-based search that you can tweak by selecting desired themes such as wine, hiking or snowboarding, or you can browse by destinations, resorts, volcanos and natural wonders, for example.

In some ways, from its outward appearance, at least, Hopper resembles the bevy of Pinterest-influenced trip-planning or social discovery sites (Wanderfly, Trippy, Gtrot etc., or fill in the blank) that arrived and departed over the last couple of years.

The Hopper homepage presents images of U.S. getaways, including Southern California, Cape Cod, and Chicago, with flights to some cities bookable on Travelocity, others on AirTran.com, and many flight links not working at all. After six years in the making, Hopper states on the site that flight-search is “coming soon!”

Screen Shot 2013-08-29 at 9.43.00 PM (2)

via First Look at the $22 Million, 6-Year-in-the-Making Travel Planning Website Hopper – Skift.

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