Weekly Roundup #20: Travel, Tech, and Social Media
Happy Friday, everyone! As always, we have a brand new Weekly Roundup up and ready. If you’re curious to know which are the most important hospitality news of this week, but don't have much time on your hands, you’ve come to the right place. Also, make sure to follow our social media accounts, for even more updates: we have Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram!
Have a wonderful weekend!
Google launched this week a Google Travel desktop website that puts flights, hotels, and vacation packages, as well as a variety of trip-planning tools and recommendations, all on one page. The features are also available in Google Search and Google Maps, the latter making Google Maps more of a superapp for travel, dining, events, spa appointments, and more. In a blog post written by Richard Holden, Google vice president product management, travel, Google said last year it made it easier to navigate between Google Flights, Google Hotels, and Google Trips “easier on smartphones,” and the company claims the desktop treatment is similar to what it did on mobile. But the mobile rendition of these features didn’t assemble the various travel components in such a one-stop-shop manner.
TripAdvisor has added new features to the platform enabling travelers to find reviews that include information around safety-related incidents. A traveler safety review filter enables travelers to find reviews posted in the past year concerning sexual assaults and sexual misconduct by employees of a business. Other reviews with safety-related issues will be added going forward. The filter also helps travelers surface new reviews concerning safety issues including assault, death, drugs, sex trafficking, armed robbery, and physical assault. A further new feature is a notice at the top of each review that includes safety information.
It looks like another deal is in the offing for Accor, with reports in India suggesting the French company is keen on investing in Indian budget hotel brand Treebo. While it might not be a household name in Europe and North America, Treebo is a rival of Oyo, which has generated plenty of headlines recently thanks to its aggressive fundraising and expansion. Oyo’s rapid rise has helped elevate it above the competition. It has raised $1.7 billion in funding whereas competitors like Treebo and FabHotels have only managed $57 million and $35.3 million respectively. Accor’s potential investment might help redress the balance.
Trends and Insights
What truly influences a traveler’s booking decision? It’s an old question that keeps getting new answers. The latest one was recently delivered by Expedia Group, in their new research: “The Big Decision: How travelers choose where to stay”. In our blog post, we have thoroughly discussed their most relevant findings. We analyzed the way in which guest reviews weigh more than the brand value in the eyes of modern travelers and how they influence guests’ willingness to spend more at a good-rated hotel. This is all great news, especially for an independent hotel, which can directly compete with a brand through the proper management of online reputation. But how exactly can you leverage your hotel’s reputation to drive a better ROI? In this best practice guide, we’ll discuss three of the most impactful ways in which you can influence revenue, by simply adopting or adjusting a reputation management strategy.
Chinese tourists are shunning the United States amid the trade war and opting for destinations in Europe, said Jane Sun, chief executive of Ctrip, Asia’s largest online travel platform. The US slid to 10th spot in the list of China’s top overseas destinations in a week-long national holiday in October, known as the “golden week” from fifth in the previous year, according to Ctrip. During the recent Labor Day holiday earlier this month, the US ranked as the ninth-most popular travel destination for Chinese tourists, down from fifth spot last year. Thailand and Japan remained the top choices. Chinese tourists are expected to make 160 million overseas trips by 2020 and spend more than $315 billion next year.
According to the European Travel Commission's latest quarterly report, "European Tourism - Trends & Prospects 2019", Europe kicked off 2019 on a positive note following an impressive 6% growth in 2018. Looking ahead to the rest of the year, a more moderate rate of expansion is expected for 2019 (around 3.6%), with short term risks, such as the slowing global economy, trade tensions and political uncertainty weighing on growth projections. Despite challenges, the majority of destinations that have reported data for early-2019 performances, have shown continued growth in foreign arrivals and overnight stays. Among the most impressive performers is Montenegro, which has invested in improved winter infrastructure allowing the destination to extend the tourism season for interested travelers. This investment, coupled with significant promotional activities and improved air connectivity, has seen the country record growth of 41% in arrivals compared to the same period a year ago.
Voice technology is quickly becoming the status quo for brands looking to reach and better engage consumers. The numbers make that clear: According to a new study by Adobe Analytics, 91% of 401 business decision makers surveyed said they already are making significant investments in voice, and 94% said they plan to increase their investments in the next year. Many consumers have already experienced a voice service on a device like a smart speaker. The study shows that 22% of companies have released a voice app, while 44% plan to release one this year. And much like smartphones, voice services won’t live on just one device or operating system. That’s why 88% of companies said they will develop voice apps for different platforms, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple’s Siri.
Wireless connectivity has trumped every other amenity when it comes to what hotel patrons desire most, according to the latest from Forrester Research. A whopping 94% of business travelers claimed that well-performing Wi-Fi was essential to their stay in the report, but it’s not just an opinion held by workaholics.Delivering Wi-Fi access is especially important, as 64% of leisure travelers told Forrester that they are not loyal to a particular hotel brand. With a staggering 89% of guests “deciding where to lodge based on free reliable Wi-Fi,” according to the 2018 Lodging Technology Study, it turns out connectivity is key to brands staying competitive, too.