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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Why TripAdvisor and Priceline Wish Facebook Ads Performed Better – Skift

Both Priceline and TripAdvisor have expressed their disappointment in recent months in the value of Facebook advertising. Pictured, TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer at the PhoCusWright Conference in November 2010. PhoCusWright / Flickr.com / Flickr.com

Both Priceline and TripAdvisor have expressed their disappointment in recent months in the value of Facebook advertising. Pictured, TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer at the PhoCusWright Conference in November 2010. PhoCusWright / Flickr.com / Flickr.com

Priceline Group CEO Darren Huston’s lament that Facebook and Twitter can’t do what Google advertising can when it comes to driving travel transactions is not news to TripAdvisor, which complained of the same shortcomings five months ago.

At the time, TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer said using Facebook to promote its Cities I’ve Visited Ap leads to better monetization, but Facebook falls short in driving transactions in the way that Google Adwords does.

“We weren’t able to get the same traveler in shopping mode to come over to TripAdvisor in any scale that matched Google,” Kaufer said, referring to advertising on Facebook, when speaking at an investor conference in November 2013.

Unlike Huston, Kaufer didn’t address the effectiveness — or lack thereof — of advertising on Twitter at the time.

The independent statements of Kaufer and Huston are a blow to Facebook advertising as a travel-transaction-booster. Both TripAdvisor and the Priceline Group were previously rooting hard for Facebook advertising to succeed as both companies look for other ways to advertise in addition to Google’s platform.

TripAdvisor, in particular, has engaged in lots of disputes with Google when it felt Google was pilfering TripAdvisor reviews and artificially limiting traffic to TripAdvisor in favor of Google promoting its own travel products.

In addition, TripAdvisor was once considered Facebook’s best friend in travel because of TripAdvisor’s Cities I’ve Visited Facebook app, with Facebook even citing TripAdvisor’s promotions on Facebook in its IPO registration papers.

Read MoreBrand USA’s 47-to-1 Return on Investment Claim Attracts Doubts Even Among Supporters

Travel companies do have an alternative to Google, though, in one growing channel — travel metasearch through companies such as Kayak, Trivago, Skyscanner, and TripAdvisor, among others.

You only have to look at the Priceline Group’s acquisition of Kayak for $1.8 billion, and Expedia’s acquisition of Germany’s Trivago for $564 million in cash and 875,200 shares to see how Priceline and Expedia were looking for an advertising hedge against Google’s dominance.

Many travel industry companies hoped that alternative would be Facebook, but so far Facebook hasn’t delivered in the view of some major players, at least.

Facebook declined to comment on the issue.

via Why TripAdvisor and Priceline Wish Facebook Ads Performed Better – Skift.

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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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With Licensing Deal Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Looks to Dominate the Online Travel Market | Benchmark Monitor

by Daniel Stone — April 9, 2014

English: The Google logo, the word "Googl...

The Google logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New York – On Tuesday, Bloomberg released a report that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has reached an agreement with Room 77 to license that company’s hotel booking software.  Room 77 is a start-up that has been funded by Expedia (Nasdaq:EXPE).  The licensing deal marks Google’s intention to re-enter the online travel market after a stop-start attempts in the past, including the introduction of Hotel Price Ads (HPA) in 2010, the acquisition of ITA Software in 2011, and the launch of Hotel Finder the same year.

Along with Expedia, the online travel market is currently dominated by Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN), Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE:WWW), and TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP).  According to the ITB World Travel Trends report published last December, online travel booking now accounts for almost 70 percent of all booking and mobile bookings is one to the fastest growing segments overall.  In the United States alone, the industry is worth more than $ 300 billion and given the recent performance of many of the companies in the sector there is still room for growth.

According to analysts the licensing deal by Google is most likely an attempt to upgrade their HPA, which essentially operates as the equivalent of ITA, a proprietary airline booking software.  Whilst HPA is aimed at hotel marketers, the software would essentially allow Google to complete the loop, by facilitating the customer booking.  If this is the case, Google would be positioning itself to cut the middlemen, such as Priceline and Expedia, while providing hotels with a better return on investment when compared to typical paid search campaigns.

Furthermore, industry analysts believe the move was driven by the Department of Justice’s ruling that allowed Google to acquire ITA Software on several conditions, including Google must allow licensed competitors to continue using the software, Google must take measures to prevent snooping, and the company must continue to maintain the software for licensees.

Through the licensing deal, it could be expected that Google might make more forays into the industry as their ‘competitors’ have little if any choice but to continue advertising through Google. While there is little direct evidence to suggest that such a move would hurt Priceline, Expedia, and TripAdvisor, almost 90 percent of what they spend on marketing goes to Google.  As such, the increased emphasis on travel could dramatically alter the online travel market in the long-run.  Shares in Google were up $ 4.10 in pre-market trading on Wednesday morning.

via With Licensing Deal Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Looks to Dominate the Online Travel Market | Benchmark Monitor.

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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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O’Leary reveals Ryanair-Google plan to ‘change how we buy tickets forever’ – Independent.ie

English: Michael O'Leary

English: Michael O’Leary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

INTERNET giant Google is working on top-secret plans with Michael O’Leary’s Ryanair in a bid to completely transform how consumers search for, select and buy airline tickets.

O’Leary reveals Ryanair-Google plan to ‘change how we buy tickets forever’ – Independent.ie.

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The Top Emerging Global Destinations Travelers Are Actually Going To – Skift

Rafat Ali, SkiftSkift logo

Outside of Google, TripAdvisor is the global travel search engine, with a direct line into user behavior on where travelers are actually planning and going, instead of just intent. The primary use case of TripAdvisor is built around it: its millions of users, mostly landing from Google and elsewhere, search for accommodations in the places they’re going to.That is why when it comes out with a list of its destinations on the rise, you take it a lot more seriously than say the editorially-opaque destinations list from LonelyPlanet and others. TripAdvisor’s criteria: the places that have seen the “greatest increase in positive traveler feedback and traveler interest”, based on millions and millions of searches and reviews.

via The Top Emerging Global Destinations Travelers Are Actually Going To – Skift.

Google Wallet comes to iPhone, and travel companies sign up for mobile payments – Tnooz

mobile paymentTwo announcements today about Google Wallet suggest travelers may soon start paying for things at US destinations with their mobile devices. Google Wallet — an app that lets users send money from anywhere in the US — now comes in a version for iPhones. Until this week, Google Wallet only worked with devices that had near-field communications (NFC) chips — something Apple devices lack. Travel companies sign up In a blog post, Google Wallet also revealed that it has partnerships in the pipeline with several travel companies, including Avis Car Rental, InterContinental Hotels Group, and Marriott. We don’t know yet if these travel companies will be able to offer travelers loyalty points redemptions via barcode scanning and the Google Wallet app. But the app will likely pinpoint on a map offers from participating companies that are near the location of the user’s device. Google Wallet already promotes Alaska Airlines‘s frequent flier program by encouraging users to join it from within the app. Priceline’s Travel app for Android enables Google Wallet users to pay for their hotels with Google Wallet. (Airbnb, Booking.com, Uber and Expedia have also added the purchase-with-Google-Wallet option.) Presumably, that functionality will be added to the iOS version of its app. – See more at: http://www.tnooz.com/article/google-wallet-comes-apple-devices-travel-partnerships-wings/#sthash.swVNFC1g.dpuf

via Google Wallet comes to iPhone, and travel companies sign up for mobile payments – Tnooz.

What is the future of wearable technology in the travel industry? | Tnooz

September 6, 2013 By Leave a Comment

Between Google Glass and the recent announcement of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch, wearable technology is on a vicious march towards omnipresence.

While Glass graces the nose of only a few, this is going to rapidly change as the next 18 months usher in a raft of wearable technologies that will no doubt change the fundamentals of human/machine interaction and learning.

Here’s a breakdown and analysis of a few technologies grabbing the best of buzz.

Read more at http://www.tnooz.com/2013/09/06/tcritic/what-is-the-future-of-wearable-technology-in-the-travel-industry/#L7uhju0eQizo2HyB.99

via What is the future of wearable technology in the travel industry? | Tnooz.

Emirates becomes the first Airline in the Middle East to use Google Now™ | Emirates United Arab Emirates

DUBAI, U.A.E., 6th August 2013: Emirates, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines today announced that it will start to roll-out Google Now™ cards for their passengers who book via Emirates.com.

A feature of the Google Search™ app, Google Now is available and fully integrated for Android™ (devices running Android 4.1 and above) and iOS (iPhones and iPads).

via Emirates becomes the first Airline in the Middle East to use Google Now™ | Emirates United Arab Emirates.