Weekly Roundup #32: Travel, Tech and Social Media

Week 32/2018
Nothing says Friday like our Weekly Roundup, so welcome back once more! As usual, we kept a close eye on the media this week, to see what goes on in the hospitality business. You can find below a few news and stories, so take a look and don’t forget to follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram!
We’ll be back next Friday with another Weekly Roundup. Until then, we wish you a wonderful weekend!

Industry News
Thomas Cook-Expedia Hotel Booking Platform Launches:
Thomas Cook’s new city break and hotel-only booking platform in partnership with Expedia has gone live. The online travel giant is now the preferred provider of hotels for Cook’s city and domestic holiday business. Expedia also provides the booking platform for all city break and hotel-only sales across Thomas Cook distribution channels in Europe. The tie-up will provide Cook customers with access to more than 100,000 hotels, all of which meet standards for quality and health and safety, according to the operator. The properties supplement Cook’s own-brand hotels and a portfolio of selected partner hotels in sun and beach destinations.
Now Available for Download: HEBStrategy Q3 2018 Hotel Digital Marketing, Technology, and Trends Whitepaper:
HEBS Digital’s third installment in 2018 of the HEBStrategy—the whitepaper series covering the latest news and trends in hotel digital marketing and technology—is now available for download! The HEBStrategy Q3 offers strategies for hoteliers to reach potential guests throughout the travel planning journey. This 2018 whitepaper is all about what’s currently trending in the travel industry (Google Maps experience, Alexa for hospitality), compelling website looks that drive direct bookings, relevant metrics and even a look outside the industry. Download the research for more insights and findings.
Millennials Borrow Millions to Fund Their Perfect Holiday:
New research by MoneySuperMarket reveals that millennials are borrowing millions more than other age groups to pay for their holidays, with 18-34-year-olds taking out over £130 million in holiday loans since 2016. Holiday loan borrowing by all other age groups combined totals around £15 million less for the same period (£119.2 million). The study shows that almost half (48 percent) of Brits are willing to borrow money in some capacity to go on holiday, with holiday loans now being the third most common way to fund a trip after saved cash and credit cards.  Millennials are most likely to borrow to fund their travels, with over a fifth saying that they would consider a holiday loan. Two in five millennials who said they would take out a holiday loan would be open to using it to upgrade their hotel, compared to only 12 percent of those aged 35+, while a quarter would use a loan to upgrade to an all-inclusive holiday.

Trends and Insights
Restaurants Reviews – How Much Does a Restaurant’s Reputation Actually Matter?
If Maslow taught us anything is that food is one of the primary human needs, that stands at the very bottom of the pyramid. The food business has come a long way from hunting to stay alive, to building a multi-billion dollar industry that can even turn food into a form of art. Restaurants are highly competitive nowadays because let’s be honest: there are so many options out there. So many different types of food, so much diversity, so many experiences. So besides the food that restaurants specialize on and the service that they offer, how much does their reputation truly weight in the eyes of the consumers and does it really impact the decision of going or not going to a restaurant? The answer is in our latest blog post.
Travel Trends Index: Strength of Domestic Travel Lessens Sting of Sluggish International Growth:
Travel to and within the U.S. grew four percent year-over-year in June, according to the U.S. Travel Association's latest Travel Trends Index (TTI)—marking the industry's 102nd straight month of overall expansion. Despite this positive trend, U.S. Travel economists remain wary that growth of international inbound travel to the U.S. is not keeping pace with the global long-haul travel boom. Most notable in the TTI is the strength of domestic business and leisure travel, buoyed by near-historic highs in consumer confidence and growth in forward-looking bookings and searches. According to the Leading Travel Index, domestic travel is expected to increase by approximately 2.6 percent in the next six months. While this is good, there are reasons to believe that the elevated level of consumer confidence may be short-lived.
Effective Tips for Using Chatbots to Improve Hotel Revenue:
Hotel revenue is closely tied to quality customer service and experience. In the hospitality industry, a guest's experience is determined by the service they get during their stay. It’s no wonder that one of the latest emerging trends in hospitality is using chatbots to provide guests with everything they need to enjoy their stay. Even though chatbots are precious to customer service improvement, they can do much more than that. While they are perfect for answering all sorts of questions, they can generate revenue as well. In fact, numerous specialists said that chatbots are the most lucrative solution to driving revenue in the hospitality industry. There are three simple ways how chatbots can drive hotel revenue: Giving quick answers to simple requests; Understanding guests' thoughts regarding the hotel's offerings, services, and facilities; Pleasant experiences result in positive online reviews, which means more revenue.

How to Use Technology to Foster Trust with Guests:
This article from SAP’s Travel and Transportation Team discusses how hospitality organizations must utilize new technology, such as chatbots and IoT devices, to become more aware of customer preferences, prioritize interactions that build meaningful relationships and foster genuine trust between guests and providers. From search and book to post stay, doing so will enhance the dining or stay experience. This also enables organizations to bring a purpose-driven approach to their business, which is increasingly important to consumers.  For example, linen change options and food bank donations are both common practices in hotels and restaurants. These purpose-driven business practices are a result of brands listening and responding to consumer preferences. Learn more in the extended post.
Why Asia Leads the Race in Smart Hotel Technology:
Asian tech companies are quick to recognize the opportunities in the hospitality industry. Alibaba has developed facial recognition check-in for two Marriott hotels in China, which could be rolled out globally after trials. Hong Kong-based Tink Labs’ created Handy Japan, a concierge-service smartphone that is being used in around 80 countries; Softbank has recently jumped on board to support the initiative as Tokyo prepares for a tourist boom in anticipation of the Olympic Games in 2020.  It’s not just tech companies trying to inject their products. Hotel chains are hungry for more innovation to speed up efficiency and improve customer experience. Langston points out that technology is helping the service industry to meet its resourcing requirements. South Asia’s largest hotel chain Oyo acquired an Internet of Things firm, AblePlus, to use its technology and Artificial Intelligence in better managing its hotels and assets. Meanwhile, chatbots on hotel sites are helping to overcome difficulties in finding service staff willing to do repetitive tasks and greater restrictions on foreign labor.

Catalina Brinza

Catalina is a social media and data enthusiast. At TrustYou, she's on a mission to bring the most out of travel and hospitality data. One day, she hopes to experience Japan's culture to its fullest.

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