Weekly Roundup #8: Travel, Tech and Social Media
Friday means a new Weekly Roundup, so welcome back to our blog! Make yourself comfortable - we have news, stories, and everything newly-released in the travel industry. As always, we’ve summarized everything for you to be able to quickly recap this week. Don’t forget to follow our social media accounts for even more interesting updates: we are on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram!
Until the next roundup, have a great weekend!
After channeling his energies in the last two years toward mergers and acquisitions, Accor CEO Sebastien Bazin is now turning more of his attention internally. The result is that our partner Accor will be spending $255 million on a new loyalty program called ALL, which stands for “Accor Live Limitless.” Bazin, in an earnings call with analysts Thursday in Paris, after the chain released its full-year 2018 financial results, said the investment is a fraction of the amount that competitors spend, but claimed the impact would be more far-reaching and the returns greater. In addition to the new loyalty program, AccorHotels rebranded as Accor.
WorldHotels has been acquired again, this time by Best Western Hotels & Resorts, exactly two years after it was bought by Associated Luxury Hotels. The price was undisclosed. Global hotel chains, including Best Western, have been entering the turf of independent hotel groups by launching a slew of soft brands, but this is the first time a hotel group has bought over one of them fully. Starwood Hotels & Resorts acquired a nearly 50 percent stake in Design Hotels in 2011. The acquisition, announced Monday, will give Best Western a handle on the upper upscale and luxury segments which it never had.
Egencia, Expedia Group’s corporate travel arm, is rolling out updates to its platform that benefit both business travelers and companies. In what it’s billing as an “industry-first feature,” Egencia has launched Hotel Conversations, which enables two-way chats between travelers and hoteliers Using the Egencia app, travelers can ask hotels questions, confirm plans, or make requests, down to what type of pillow they’d like in their room. Hoteliers can similarly reach out to guests ahead of their stay to offer welcome messages or additional services or treatments.
Trends and Insights
Vietnam-based Fusion Suites Da Nang Beach Hotel now offers multiple channels and messages in different languages, making hotel-guest communication more effective than ever. Since using our very own guest messaging solution, the hotel managed to increase the number of reviews and the overall performance. Take a look at our latest case study to see exactly how Da Nang Beach Hotel improved its operations and overall results by enabling diverse communication methods and listening to their guests.
According to the European Travel Commission's latest report "European Tourism -Trends & Prospects 2018", Europe remains the most visited region in the world, with a 6%1 upswing in international tourist arrivals in 2018 compared to the previous year. This growth continues despite ongoing trade tensions, uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and the economic slowdown in the Eurozone and China. Virtually all reporting destinations (32 out of 33) registered some form of expansion, with travel to Turkey (+22%) continuing its strong recovery, driven by a wide range of source markets and a depreciating Lira.
China's outbound tourism market saw healthy growth in 2018 as mainland travelers registered 149.72 million outbound visits last year, up 14.7 percent from the previous year, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. China CYTS Tours Holding Co, a travel service provider headquartered in Beijing that helped process 1 million travel documents for mainland travelers in 2018, said its data showed Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam were the five most visited outbound destinations on its platform.
Expedia Partner Solutions (EPS) has launched a Certified Technology Partner Program to forge closer relationships as well as deploy services faster. To be part of the program, partners need to be up to speed with Rapid, Expedia's latest API technology, to ensure they have most of the company’s content integrated at any given time and be able to meet EPS launch requirements. Fritz Oberhummer, director of account management platforms in EMEA and LATAM for EPS, says the company currently has about 120 technology partners globally. Technology companies such as XMLTravelGate were among the first to be certified, while most recently, wbe.travel was announced as a certified technology partner.
The mobile app was once a tool—a booking tool, primarily—and there was a time, albeit brief, when the industry thought the hotel mobile app might have run its course. Travelport notes that there “has been speculation about the decline in apps” but all data points toward more mobile app usage year over year. For travel companies, in particular, they note that in 2018, “82% of travelers were downloading the same or more travel apps than the previous year.” Part of the shift toward mobile apps has to do with the steady increase consumers’ trust in mobile as a safe and effective place to handle transactions. Nearly half of travelers say they are comfortable researching, booking, and planning travel via a mobile device, according to a report by Google and Phocuswright. However, just as crucial to the resurgence of mobile apps is the fact that apps were repositioned as more than a one-trick pony; apps have evolved from a tool into a portal through which hotels can deliver the guest experience.