Weekly Roundup #40: Travel, Tech and Social Media
The Weekly Roundup is back, so this means that it’s time for a quick recap. Before heading off into the weekend, don’t forget to check the latest hospitality news and stories, that we carefully selected and summarized for you during this week. Also, you can follow us on our social media accounts, for daily updates. We are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram!
Until next Friday, have a wonderful weekend!
Our client AccorHotels is clearly on a mission to continuously expand and diversify their portfolio and services, so it was announced this week that Gekko Group will be acquired by the group. Gekko Group is the owner of hotel booking sites that serve 14,000 travel agencies — a majority of which are French. The deal values Gekko at $117 million, or €100 million. By acquiring Gekko Group, AccorHotels will now compete intensively with HRS, the Germany-based specialist, and Hotelbeds, the Spain-based wholesaler, in aggregating hotel inventory for resale by travel agents.
Accor is not stopping at Gekko this week, since it has been announced that it’s planning to invest in the Orient Express brand, which will give our clients an even greater presence in the luxury space. The hotel group is partnering with existing shareholder, French rail operator SNCF, to develop a range of hotels under Orient Express brand name. Details of the amount involved in the investment were not given. The historic train carriages synonymous with the brand will remain the property of SNCF but are likely to be utilized by some of the brands within the AccorHotels portfolio, including John Paul and Noctis.
Approval of the acquisition of wholesaler GTA by our partner Hotelbeds confirms the creation of a genuine B2B alternative to the oligopoly of the big two OTAs, according to the Spanish hotel rooms distributor. Hotelbeds Group executive chairman Joan Vilà, said hotels are looking for “less risky” alternative channels to market. “We can now provide an extensive network of B2C intermediaries, tour operators and OTAs that want their product,” he said. “For our retail clients they now have an option if they want to work less with the big players who are also their competitors. They have an option in the market.” This will see Hotelbeds maintaining more regional offices around the globe as it establishes a truly international footprint.
Trends and Insights
After releasing our latest eBook, Branding Without The Brand Name - An independent Hoteliers Guide To Building Brand Value, it is now time to start a new blog series and break down the four chapters into quick tips so that you get the best possible insights! We have started with a highly relevant topic for independent hoteliers: in a saturated competitive market, what makes your independent hotel different? Why should travelers choose to book your hotel instead of another one? How do you make the most of your specific traits and features and market them in the online world? Make sure to go ahead and check out the extended blog post to find the answers to these questions and get more tips and insights into how to make the most out of your non-branded status!
For the ninth year in a row since 2009, U.S. hotels are expected to collect from guests a record amount of total fees and surcharges. This year, according to a report compiled by Bjorn Hanson, clinical professor at the NYU Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism, hotels are expected to collect a $2.7 billion in fees and surcharges. Hanson’s report is based on interviews with hotel and corporate travel executives, analysis of financial data, press releases, and information from hotel and brand websites. The estimated 2017 tally increased 3.84 percent to $2.7 billion compared with the $2.6 billion collected in 2016 despite the fact that occupied room nights in 2017 were fewer than expected. In 2017, hotels in the U.S. saw an uptick of 2 percent in occupied room nights compared with 2016.
Both domestic and international travel to the U.S. grew in August 2017, according to the latest Travel Trends Index (TTI). After the contraction of international visitation in the first half of 2017, the international inbound segment’s modest growth in August is a welcome respite from a troubling trend - though U.S. Travel economists warn that the international market will still trail domestic travel, as previously predicted. “Based on the fact that all segments increased for the first time since January, August proved a solid month for the travel industry,” said U.S. Travel Association Senior Vice President for Research David Huether.
Google announced one feature that could help redefine the travel experience for consumers around the world. Google Pixel Buds may appear at first glance to be a less aesthetically pleasing version of Apple’s popular Airpods wireless headphones. But Google Pixel Buds house one feature that could prove transformative for the travel industry: real-time translation capabilities powered by Google Translate and Google Assistant, Google’s more useful equivalent of Apple’s Siri. By touching the right earbud, users can receive instantaneous translations from the language they’re speaking to their language of choice. They will of course have to then speak out loud what they’re hearing if they want to communicate to someone. Users will also be able to hand their phone to whoever they’re talking to, and receive an audio translation of their speech on the earbuds.
Hotels fear that the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) could make them over-reliant on OTAs (online travel agents). Sam Turner, Hotelbeds’ global director of sales, said as much at the Travolution Summit when asked about the pros and cons of the burgeoning technology. He said: “One thing hoteliers fear is dependency. They know that the large OTAs drive a lot of bookings for them, but they will be eager to understand more about upcoming disruptive companies that are not one of the same companies already dominating the marketplace.” He also said hotels were keen to use AI themselves in order to automatically alter room rates to maximize revenue during peak times and reduce rates in low seasons.