Weekly Roundup #26: Travel, Tech, and Social Media

Week 26/2019

Friday means that it’s time for a new Weekly Roundup, so make yourself comfortable and let’s recap this week in hospitality and travel. We have summarized all the top news, stories, and everything new and interesting. Also, don’t forget to follow our social media accounts for even more updates: you can find us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Have an amazing weekend!

Industry News

Expedia Group Rules Out Charging Commissions on Hotel Resort Fees: 

Just three weeks after Booking Holdings began charging hotels commissions on their resort fees, Expedia Group ruled out doing likewise but will begin downgrading hotels in the sort order on the online travel company’s websites when hotels charge consumers such resort fees. Cyril Ranque, president of Expedia Lodging Partner Services, told Skift exclusively that the company heard from “several disenchanted and even furious” hotel partners about Booking.com’s move to impose commissions on hotels’ resort fees globally. “Booking’s unilateral and, frankly, [...] blunt move is pretty typical of their playbook with hotels,” Ranque said. “We’ve seen this many times in Europe where their position allows them to get away with this kind of approach. And this is simply not how Expedia Group conceives the partnership we want to have with the lodging industry.”

Caesars Being Sold to Eldorado Resorts in $17.3 Billion Deal: 

Eldorado Resorts is buying Caesars in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $17.3 billion, creating a casino giant. The deal Monday puts about 60 casinos and resorts in 16 states under a single name. Eldorado will pay $8.40 per share in cash and 0.0899 shares of Eldorado stock for each Caesars share, or $12.75 per share. The combined business will be called Caesars and its shares will be traded on the Nasdaq stock market. Shareholders of Eldorado Resorts Inc. will hold about 51% of the company’s outstanding stock, with Caesars Entertainment Inc. shareholders holding the remaining and 49%. The deal is targeted to close in the first half of next year if approved by gaming regulators and shareholders.

Book on Google Optimizes its Results with Room Clustering: 

Google Hotel Ads continues to evolve. After introducing its latest innovation, which allows users to book hotels with their voice using Google Assistant, its facilitated booking feature, Book on Google (BoG), has now modified the way it shows users room results and the different prices and rates. This new layout, called Room Clustering, unifies a certain room, price, and rate results in order to avoid repeating information and to simplify the display for the user. Before implementing this change, BoG used to present a list of room results in a data table that contained photos, room descriptions, amenities, rate type, payment method, the price and a breakdown of taxes and charges. Each row in the table had its own booking button. The same room would appear in as many rows as there were rates for the said room.

Trends and Insights

How Amazon’s Customer-Centric Framework Can Boost Hotel Loyalty: New Skift Research:

The common belief is that Amazon will make a big move into travel at some point, the question is just when it will happen. Until that time, there are lessons to be learned from Amazon’s operations. The new Skift Research report An Expanded View of Hotel Loyalty Tech 2019 proposes a hotel flywheel framework mirroring Amazon’s Flywheel, to approach brand loyalty in a more customer-centric way. This framework makes it clear that guest loyalty and loyalty tech solutions go far beyond loyalty program management systems. Let’s start looking at loyalty engines as just one tool in a suite of technology, including customer relationship management systems, booking engines capable of personalizing the booking experience, guest-facing messaging systems and voice assistants, and many more. All these tools can work in parallel to achieve a truly loyal guest.

What Can Restaurant Managers Glean from Customer Feedback: 

All restaurant managers understand customer feedback is important. There are more than 184 million reviews on Yelp, with restaurants making up the biggest industry people want to talk about. Aside from Yelp, people love leaving feedback on Google, through comment cards, on surveys, and by Facebook recommendations. There is feedback everywhere – but what are you supposed to do with it? Read the extended article to learn the takeaways restaurant managers can glean from the feedback that customers leave, and how they can turn that feedback into actionable items for improvement.

Google Aims to Make it Easier for SMBs to Start Using its Products: 

Google announced a new website Thursday with resources aimed at helping small businesses get started with Google products. The launch coincides with International Small Business day. The site, Google for Small Business, includes “personalized plans” with recommendations of Google products based on a company’s answers to several prompt questions such as whether the business is online, offline a hybrid and its selected goal to either stand out online, reach more customers or work more efficiently. The recommendations include a mix of free and paid solutions, such as setting up a Google My Business profile, trialing G Suite and creating a YouTube channel. Google also offers in-person Grow with Google workshops to educate small businesses about its products and how to use them.


Solving the Hotel Tech Puzzle – The Importance of Smart Integrations: 

In today’s hospitality business, where so many tech innovations pave the way to success, not relying on technology would definitely be counterproductive. But with so many different pieces of a puzzle, it can be hard to make sure that they all perfectly fit together and you have a clear overview of the bigger picture. This is why smart integrations are crucial; because while any scalable software is useful on its own, its capabilities are boosted when connected to another corresponding technology.  Not only that but operating multiple different platforms that are not connected is time-consuming and a hassle. You probably already have enough on your plate without having to worry about manually transferring data between systems and wasting valuable time on tedious operations. So how exactly can you leverage integrations and use them to serve your goals and daily operations? Find out from our latest blog post.

RLH Launches AI virtual Agent for Central Reservations:

RLH Corporation has signed on with BluIP to provide an artificial intelligence virtual agent for central reservations to support all 1,400 system hotels. This announcement follows the successful completion of a three-month program pilot. “The results of our pilot have been very positive,” April Weatherly, RLH's director of telephony optimization and analytics, said in a statement. “We’re seeing travelers engage with the technology at a rate higher than we anticipated and are very pleased with the virtual agent’s ability to resolve traveler questions autonomously, reducing the cost of non-revenue-related calls.” The second-generation virtual agent added broader central reservations systems integration to support additional hotel information searches and the ability to confirm, modify or cancel reservations. It also enhances the central reservations office ticketing system integration to ensure a seamless transfer for the caller to a live agent when necessary.

Laura Badiu

Laura is a passionate bookworm and a gifted writer. Since joining TrustYou’s marketing team, she has embraced topics in the travel and hospitality sector with enthusiasm. Using her degree in Journalism, Laura creatively weaves words into insightful stories with a focus on reputation management.

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