Weekly Roundup Weekly Roundup #6: Travel, Tech and Social Media Laura Badiu // February 9, 2018 // 6 minute read Week 6/2018 It’s time for another Weekly Roundup, so welcome to our blog! You weekly dose of information is ready to go and, as always, we gathered the most recent and interesting news and stories from hospitality and travel. Take a look, enjoy the read and don’t forget to follow our social media, for even more industry insights: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram! Have a wonderful weekend! Industry News Google will let you book hotels and flights through search results: Google has changed the way people can search for hotels and flights using smartphones in a bid to make trip planning simpler on mobile devices. The company said hotel and flight bookings can now be made through Google Search results. Users can scroll through search results for hotels that include photos, and swipe through those photos without having to leave the list of results. Date and price filtering can also be done through the results page, and users can also now book through Google. North American hoteliers welcome uptick in rates & bookings across all travel segments as 2018 begins: TravelClick, a leading global provider of data and revenue-generating solutions for hoteliers, released new data from the company’s January 2018 North American Hospitality Review (NAHR). According to this data, North American hoteliers are starting the New Year with gains across all travel segments in the first quarter of 2018, up 0.7 percent in average daily rates (ADR) and up 2.1 percent in bookings. The transient leisure segment in particular stands out during the first quarter, with bookings up an impressive 6.8 percent and strong revenue per available room (RevPAR), up 7.3 percent. Europe Bounces Back as a Top Travel Destination for Americans: Travelzoo published the results of the Travelzoo Winter Travel Trends Survey, reporting that Europe is once again a top travel destination for Americans. Five European countries - Italy, Ireland, France, Iceland and the United Kingdom -comprised half of the top 10 spots for vacation plans in 2018. It seems that the U.K. saw the biggest increase in interest among U.S. travelers, rising from tenth to fifth place year over year. France moved up one place from ninth to eighth, and Iceland made it into the top 10 for the first time. The only international destination preferred over Europe was the Caribbean, while Mexico fell down to the tenth spot from eighth last year. Travelzoo's website statistics also show a growing interest in travel to Europe with searches to France and Italy up more than 50% in 2017. Trends and Insights The Guest Feedback A-Z Guide For Hotels: Part I: Hospitality is a giant industry, constantly growing, constantly changing and improving and guest feedback plays an important role throughout every step of the guest journey. While swimming in such deep waters, knowing and understanding all of its complex implications can sometimes come as a challenge. Especially since technology has started to impact hospitality and the importance of reviews and continues to do so, more and more every day, new and exciting concepts arise and you have to make sure that you keep up with them. This is why we created the Guest Feedback A-Z Guide for Hotels, meant to break down all of the most relevant notions that are of interest to hoteliers and other members of the industry. We included short definitions and external references and divided the guide into 4 equal parts, so make sure to stay tuned for the entire series! SiteMinder Unveils the Top 15 Revenue-Generating Booking Channels of 2017 for Hotels in the USA & Canada: SiteMinder revealed the 15 booking channels that generated the greatest revenue for hotels in the USA, Canada and other key tourism destinations in 2017. The lists are based on the 72 million hotel reservations that passed through SiteMinder’s channel management solution during the year to produce US$21.53 billion in gross revenue for the company’s 28,000 hotel customers around the world. Reaffirming the value of having a diversified hotel distribution strategy, the lists of the top-performing booking channels once again feature a range of both B2B and household consumer channels – from OTAs to hotel websites, wholesalers and global distribution systems. The top revenue-generating booking channels are Booking.com, Expedia and the hotel website (direct bookings). An insider's tale on hotel website conversion rates: The conversion rate of a hotel website is determined by so many factors that one shouldn’t be fooled into trying to meet an industry average. Instead one needs to understand the factors that make up those rates and try to improve each point. As a full service hotel distribution and technology company, we have access to thousands of hotel website data. PhocusWire put together an overview of what makes and what breaks hotel website conversion rates and what hoteliers can do about it, including some tips on what one should or shouldn’t worry about. Also, they emphasize the semantic technology used by our own guest feedback platform, which processes billions of data, providing easy to read aggregated review score.This gives travelers all the key info they are looking for, encouraging them to stay on a hotel’s website and convert into direct bookings. Technology Sabre begins AI-powered chatbot pilot: Sabre Corporation has launched a pilot program of an AI-powered chatbot with a US travel agency. Travel Services International USA (TSI) and its customers will trial the chatbot, which will be available via the TSI app or on Facebook Messenger. The bot, named Ella, has been designed to answer frequently asked questions and save agents time so they can focus on more complex inquiries. It will be reviewed to see how customers interact with the bot. TSI will test a white-label version of the chatbot with its corporate travelers, who can use the chatbot via Facebook Messenger to answer questions related to existing flight reservations. Travelers can ask trip-related questions, make voluntary changes to existing flight reservations, request a special meal, select and pay for a seat, and request an emailed copy of an itinerary. Google updates UX to make flight and hotel bookings easier on mobile: With experts emphasizing the importance of UX, and consumers responding to well-designed products, it’s more than just a nice-t0-have. An intuitive user experience is critical in today’s competitive environment. Especially on mobile, where smaller screen sizes require more easier-to-use products. This week, Google is rolling out improvements to its mobile experience for its flights, hotels, and discovery products. The company, which has long made for anxious hand-wringing with its travel products, has made navigating on mobile much more straightforward. From searching through reviews to exploring hotel room categories to the actual bookings, the next iteration is a tighter, more integrated experience.