Hoteliers vs. OTAs: The Quest for a Perfect App

2014-04-09 BY PHILLIP BUTLER

Image representing Skift as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Will mobile technology negate travel service providers’ direct revenue streams? An insightful post by Skift’s Dennis Schaal points to the big OTAs and the coming leverage game of travel bookings via mobile.

Expedia, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, a plethora of booking channels now clutter the hospitality booking lobby, and these carry varying degrees of effectiveness and economy.

While Schaal’s report does allude to hoteliers suffering ever increasing pains at the hands of OTAs, there is another side to the story. Schaal quotes Macquarie Equities Research’s Tom White on the operational disruption TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Priceline can cause. Furthermore, it’s no big secrete TripAdvisor would like to rule the entire hospitality revenue roost. Schaal elaborates using the equity research expert’s intuition, accentuates by TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer’s proclamation over owning the “entire cycle.”

Certainly there’s ample concern on the hotelier end of things here. Clients of our own Pamil Visions travel PR, associates across the spectrum of travel marketing, and even some players in the app building arena have expressed virulently the pluses and minuses of this new “mobile travel ” game. What Shaal and the others mentioned have not shed light on is the flip side of such revenue disruptive technologies.

How the Hotel Will Always Be Right

Somehow the hospitality cart managed to get far out ahead of the hotelier horses, first via the WWW, and now (ostensibly) via the power of an ever growing mobile constituency. Let’s face it, prophesying huge corporate online travel agencies monopolizing guest bookings, that’s a bit like watching a man with a chainsaw standing in front of a redwood, and predicting he’s intent on chopping it down. Excuse the metaphors, but Expedia and the like have made a living providing far reaching reach, with a minimum of effort I might add, to tap into the coffers of every hotelier on the planet. However effective these businesses may be however, unless they plan on hiring bell hops and desk clerks, hotels are still their customers. And the customer is always right, right?

Expedia_logo

Expedia_logo (Photo credit: Svetlana Gladkova)

This article on BigHospitality speaks for the hotelier fed up with battling their own service providers (OTAs) over who owns the business of serving guests. In this piece the balance of equity is the needed shift in favor of the real guest services providers. Nial Kelly Vice President Acquisitions and Development at Starwood Hotels talks suggests leveraging OTAs by only working with those that are for balance. In essence, big and small hotel groups can put the proverbial “squeeze” on Expedia and others. This is what is about to happen if our information here is accurate. All the independent or major chain hotels need is the right catalyst, the right app developer, or an existent player willing to think outside the box.

The “Who” of Direct Mobile Bookings

A couple of months ago I was speaking with Stefan Weitz, head of Microsoft’s Bing about forward movement on Bing’s Travel App. Like other major corporations in the game, Microsoft and Bing came up with an imminently useful app for travelers here. Not unlike

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

our friend’s at Stay.com, Bing put a lot of quality in, features users get the most out of, and ultimately the ability find and reserve the best hotels in the world. Also like Stay.com, “depth” and a lack of appropriate marketing left conversions in a shortfall situation. You see there’s no lack of expertise in creating such tools (even for individual hotels), the cost of such development has been driven down dramatically. The real rub for hotels or corporations like Microsoft is “commitment” – to put it bluntly some companies have more money and resources than drive, when it comes to breaking out into mobile. It’s as if those that should most believe have become too conventional in their thinking.

Therein resides the biggest hurdle for Dennis Schaal’s omnipotent OTA rulers too. TripAdvisor and the rest are super slow on the uptake historically. In fact, in my view, TA and the rest have been lucky somebody like Microsoft has not already snapped up their market share. While Google was the heir apparent to digital travel mastery, today the original OTAs retain their places among marketing channels for hospitality. I am fairly amazed at this, to be honest. Looking at Bing’s app, like everything else at Microsoft it’s Microsoft-centric. These companies act as if they’re the only game in town, like gigantic ostriches. (Sorry Stefan, you know it’s true)

Finally, to give you a few “for instances” on how hotels can rescue themselves from lobby takeovers, here’s a list of apps that could be used to snatch a bigger share of the mobile pie. This says nothing for us working to create regional apps to help hoteliers ourselves :)

via Hoteliers vs. OTAs: The Quest for a Perfect App.

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Airlines ranked for their speed at replying to people on Twitter | Mail Online

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When a delay of just a few minutes can destroy a traveller’s entire itinerary, Twitter has become the go to place for many air passengers to keep abreast of changes to their travel plans – or air their grievances.Now a new study has revealed the most efficient and responsive airlines on the microblogging service.According to US travel intelligence site Skift, European airlines trail their US counterparts when it comes to responding to customer needs on Twitter.

Top Tweeters

Top five US airlines

American Airlines    12 minutes
JetBlue Airways       15 minutes
IndiGo                      16 minutes
US Airways              38 minutes
Air Canada              42 minutes 

Top five European airlines

Ryanair                     66 minutes
Lufhansa                  72 minutes
KLM                          93 minutes
easyJet                   120 minutes
SAS                         191 minutes

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/article-2585112/Twitter-users-airlines-speedier-others.html#ixzz2wblb6c82
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

via Airlines ranked for their speed at replying to people on Twitter | Mail Online.

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New Skift Trends Report: Online Video Strategies in the Travel Industry – Skift

Skift logoOnline video is rapidly eclipsing television as the most effective channel for marketing, especially for marketers targeting younger demographics. For a largely commodified and opaque business, video marketing is more important for airlines than most travel-related businesses. As a result, airlines are among the most successful producers of video marketing in the travel business. Even the once boring in-flight safety video is asserting itself as a chance to define and differentiate the airline brand.

In this Skift Travel Trends report, we will explain the importance of online video, how it differs from other forms of marketing, the differences between various online video platforms and video’s place in the marketing toolbox. We will also explore why airlines excel in this arena.

Through interviews with professional marketers and experts and specific case studies, we will define best practices for airlines and ideas for meeting viewers’ preferences. We will also look at how marketers are employing fresh short-form video platforms such as Vine and Instagram video to generate hype, experiment, and engage with fans

via New Skift Trends Report: Online Video Strategies in the Travel Industry – Skift.

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Launching SkiftIQ: Competitive Intelligence Dashboards for Smart Travel Marketers – Skift

Skift logoThe Travel Marketing Store recognised the efforts of Skift by awarding them the 2013 Travel Marketing Excellence Award for Marketing Science.  They are certainly living up to their reputation and are establishing a new global standard.  This is the latest from their CEO Rafat Ali.

“We’ve always envisioned Skift as the global intelligence platform for travel, and as we end November as the most visited travel industry site globally — just 15 months after launch — we’re unveiling the next step in our evolution: SkiftIQ, our data brand. SkiftIQ is a competitive intelligence service, built around digital metrics that matter to brands in travel.

Think of it as the dashboard for smart travel marketers.

Version 1.0, launching today, starts with social metrics that keep you ahead of the travel industry. Competitive metrics on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube — cutting through the noise, organizing the social data you need, and delivering actionable insights.

With SkiftIQ, you’ll be able see why American Airlines is so effective on Twitter, Tourism Australia is so successful on Facebook, and National Geographic Traveler dominates on Instagram. These metrics aren’t just illustrative, they’ll also help travel experts make smarter decisions about their own social strategy.”

via Launching SkiftIQ: Competitive Intelligence Dashboards for Smart Travel Marketers – Skift.

The Most Valuable Airline Brands of 2013 – Skift

Airline brands don’t usually show up in the list of global most valuable, loved or biggest brand rankings done by various agencies such as Interbrand and others. And yet, airlines are among the most high profile consumer brands that exist, and surely generate a lot of mainstream media attention, most of it these days about consumer frustrations with them.

Brand Finance, a global brand valuation and marketing consultancy, recently came out with its rankings of the top 20 most valuable airline brands, using its methodology where it uses the net present value of the estimated future cash flows attributable to the brand in question. The methodology is described in detail here.

Emirates, not surprisingly, rules the roost, topping out as the most valuable airline brand for a second year running, followed by Lufthansa and then Delta, which climbed up a rank this year. Delta, United, Southwest and American are the four U.S. brands on the list, and three Chinese airlines also make the top 20 list.

Rank Rank Brand Value ($ Millions) Brand Value ($ Millions)
2013 2012 Name 2013 2012
1 1 Emirates Airlines 4098 3700
2 2 Lufthansa 3638 3296
3 4 Delta 3289 3013
4 3 Singapore Airlines 3117 3218
5 6 United 2992 2763
6 5 China Southern Airlines 2752 2765
7 15 China Eastern Airlines 2484 1543
8 9 Air France 2457 -
9 8 Air China 2419 2395
10 10 Cathay Pacific 2313 2266
11 11 British Airways 2211 2011
12 7 ANA 2051 2448
13 12 Korean Air 2043 2003
14 17 Southwest 1950 1422
15 - Japan Airlines 1850 -
16 14 Turkish Airlines 1800 1681
17 13 American Airlines 1767 1854
18 19 TAM Airlines 1450 1285
19 18 Aeroflot 1423 1308
20 20 KLM 1368 1278

via The Most Valuable Airline Brands of 2013 – Skift.

The Travel Marketing Digest – Volume III issue 4

The latest Travel Marketing Digest is now available to read.

Groupon Blinks, Airline Ancillary Revenues Double, Via Milano – innovation in airport connections, Wearable Technologies and Travel, Starwood on the Future of Hotels, Skift on Middle Eastern Airlines & Twitter, IATA Airlines Stats

via Groupon Blinks, Airline Ancillary Revenues Double, Via Milano – innovation in airport connections, Wearable Technologies and Travel, Starwood on the Future of Hotels, Skift on Middle Eastern Airlines & Twitter, IATA Airlines Stats.