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Marriott unveils IoT hotel room of the future

Marriott 15 November 2017
The IoT Guestroom Lab - powered by Marriott's Innovation Lab at the company's corporate headquarters - explores concepts that have the potential to elevate the guest experience, create more efficient hotel room design and construction, and contribute to Marriott's global sustainability efforts and goals. As the hospitality industry's "smart" hotel room, the Lab allows multiple responsive IoT systems, devices and applications to communicate with one another to serve guests and optimize hotel operations."We know that our guests expect to personalize almost everything in their lives, and their hotel experience should be no different," said Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Marriott International. "By teaming with best-in-class partners, we are leveraging mobile and voice-enabled technology to give our guests the ability to set up the room to best meets their needs - whether that is creating the ultimate relaxation environment or one that enables productivity for business travelers.""At Samsung, we aspire to make life easier and better for our consumers, whether they're at home or their home away from home," said James Stansberry, Senior Vice President and General Manager of ARTIK IoT, Samsung Electronics. "Partnering with Legrand and Marriott, we can offer users unprecedented levels of control and personalization, thanks to our end-to-end IoT services powered by the ARTIK platform and the SmartThings Cloud. From intuitive lighting to voice-activated room controls, we're delivering customizable, intelligent experiences that make our consumers' lives more convenient, productive and secure."Developing an intuitive system is critical as Marriott seeks to continuously innovate the global guest experience across its 30 brands. The technology inside the IoT Guestroom Lab allows, for instance, a user to ask a virtual assistant for a 6:30 AM wake-up alarm, to start a yoga routine on a full-length mirror, request additional housekeeping services and start the shower at the desired temperature stored in their customer profile - all by voice or app."We're proud to be innovating with industry leading partners to get closer to revolutionizing the guest experience, along with hotel operations and even hotel construction," said Karim Khalifa, Senior Vice President, Global Design, Marriott International. "Together with Samsung and Legrand, we are well on our way to creating the hotel room of the future.""At Legrand, we offer a suite of power, light and data solutions that bring power and connectivity to previously untapped locations. Legrand is partnering with Marriott to improve the guest experience in a cost effective and intuitive manner. This work further supports our Eliot Program in North America, Legrand's global IoT program that encompasses our ambition, drives our product innovation and fosters our partnership in the IoT space," said Ken Freeman, Senior Vice President of Demand Creation, Legrand. "Legrand's product portfolio can elevate a property by turning everyday features into lasting highlights. We are thrilled to collaborate with Marriott and Samsung to conceptualize and deliver on the future traveler's needs."Marriott is working towards a future where hotel owners would have a seamless, transparent and flexible end-to-end solution that requires minimal equipment, while customers would enjoy an integrated experience with access to their own data and information, as well as accessible voice and mobile-optimized controls. Such systems would also benefit hotel operations and improve personalized service by, for instance, allowing staff to provide services at a guest's desired time.Following the three-month-long IoT Guestroom Lab, Marriott, Samsung and Legrand will analyze feedback to continue innovating with IoT technology. Consumers will start to see elements of the technology in hotel rooms within the next five years.

Marriott International's AI-powered Chatbots on Facebook Messenger and Slack, and Aloft's ChatBotlr, Simplify Travel for Guests Throughout Their Journey

Marriott 29 September 2017
BETHESDA, Md. -- Marriott International - the hospitality industry's iconic leader in guest service - is expanding upon the heart of its hospitality, its hundreds of thousands of associates, by creating additional points of engagement for guests, powered by artificial intelligence.Recently, Aloft Hotels, the innovation incubator for savvy global travelers, launched the first ChatBotlr, a new chatbot available via text message that gives guests an additional way to make service requests. Driven by ahead-of-the-curve technology, Aloft's ChatBotlr empowers guests to request basic hotel services right from their own smartphones. Aloft introduced the first generation Botlr, a robotic butler, in 2014 as an inventive pilot program to allow front desk associates to respond more immediately to guest needs, one-on-one. This next evolution of Botlr, the ChatBotlr, is available to all our guests on their phones, anywhere and anytime they have a request. With ChatBotlr, guests may text to request services, information about the hotel, listen to the brand's #AloftLive playlist and connect with the front desk team during their stay, even when the guest is not on-property. By leveraging natural language understanding and machine learning, ChatBotlr gets smarter the more it interacts with guests. Early findings show that 2 out of 3 Aloft guests are interacting or making requests with ChatBotlr and the service has a five-second response time."By embracing emerging messaging technologies, we can expand service to our guests on their terms and through communication channels they increasingly prefer and feel comfortable using," said Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Marriott International. "The delivery of on demand service enables Marriott to simplify travel, remove friction and power up even better service for our guests at more moments throughout their travel journey."Aloft's ChatBotlr joins Marriott's other newly implemented service innovations powered by technology. Marriott Rewards chatbots are available on Facebook Messenger, Slack and soon, We-Chat and Google Assistant, and serve loyalty members before, during and between stays. Marriott Rewards members on Facebook Messenger and Slack can research and book travel at more than 4,700 hotels, link their Marriott Rewards and SPG accounts, plan for their upcoming stay with articles from the digital magazine Marriott Traveler, and chat directly with Customer Engagement Center associates. Of Marriott Reward members using Marriott Rewards' Facebook Messenger this year, 44 percent received stay-related customer service such as changes to their reservation and 53 percent found assistance related to their Rewards account such as how to redeem points for stays. As technology becomes more integrated into our guests' daily lives, chatbots simplify the travel experience enabling guests to ask basic questions, make simple requests, and receive instant responses. They also free our Marriott associates on property from routine tasks, allowing them to deliver elevated, personalized hospitality to our guests.Messaging is growing in popularity with people in the U.S. spending an average of 200 minutes per day in messaging apps according to The Economist and recent reports show messaging apps as the number 1 most frequently used feature on mobile devices. Years ago, Marriott recognized the growing popularity of text messaging when it launched the Mobile Requests feature on the Marriott Mobile app in 2015 enabling guests to chat directly with hotel associates. Since then, 2.5 million requests have been received with more than half coming before guests checked in. Mobile Requests inspired Marriott to expand mobile communications options to guests using the device they always have at hand, their smartphone.Marriott's always-on approach to customer service enables the company to deliver the widest choice of engagement whether that is through messaging, call centers, or face-to-face on property with associates. Leveraging technology, we can deepen personalization, expand choice and connect our associates with our guests in a more meaningful way, as we lead the next generation of the guest experience.

Marriott Hotels announces winners of its 2017 TestBED programme

Marriott 27 September 2017
After being shortlisted from almost 150 applicants across 24 countries, eight start-ups pitched to a panel of judges last month, aiming to shape the future travel and hospitality experience. The panel included Georgie Barrat, presenter of The Gadget Show, in addition to tech industry leaders and senior Marriott figures. The following three start-ups were crowned the winners following a rigorous judging process:MyManuPiloting at: Frankfurt Marriott HotelA UK start-up that developed 'Click' - wireless earbuds that offer live voice translation to 37 languages. For Marriott Hotels 'Click' can offer the ability to communicate with guests in their native language and make their interaction with Marriott associates feel more seamless and natural. The technology can also be used for meetings and events held within Marriott Hotels.mymanu.comHiJiffyPiloting at: London Marriott Hotel Regents ParkA Portugal based start-up that developed an AI powered Chatbot designed for the hospitality sector. Using Chabot's Marriott Hotels can offer its guests with a variety of services using Facebook Messenger at any place and time and in an effective and efficient way.www.hijiffy.comOptishowerPiloting at: Amsterdam Marriott HotelA Portugal-based start-up that has developed smart meters to measure water and electricity consumption and the ability to provide associates and guests with analysis of usage. Marriott Hotels could offer its guests the ability to track their own consumption and be rewarded for sustainable energy use during their stay.www.optishower.comMarriott TestBED is now in its second year following its debut in 2016. The hugely popular accelerator programme attracts start-ups that aim to enhance the entire hotel guest experience. For more information, visit www.marriotttestbed.com.

Accenture Interactive, Marriott International and 1776 Launch the Travel Experience Incubator

Marriott 18 July 2017
Accenture Interactive, Marriott International, and 1776 , a leading global incubator and network for startups, today announced the launch of the Travel Experience Incubator, a new program designed to discover and foster startups working on innovative technologies and solutions to improve the travel experience. The incubator will bring together the hospitality industry expertise of one of the world's most innovative companies, Marriott International, and its official Travel Experience Incubator partner, Accenture Interactive, along with participating startups, to co-create unique and inventive new experiences for travelers.Startups are invited to immediately apply to The Travel Experience Incubator Challenge. Selected startups will be invited to participate in The Travel Experience Incubator, a three-month, travel industry focused program with opportunities for paid piloting and investment at the program's conclusion. The incubator will kick off in September 2017 at 1776's Crystal City Campus in Arlington, Virginia.The selected participants will receive a dedicated curriculum, drawing on the hospitality expertise of Marriott leadership, Accenture experts and the 1776 global mentor network. Through the program, startups will develop, validate, and test travel solutions using data and technology, with the goal to increase customer connectedness and enhance travel experiences.Marriott will draw on its deep experience in the hospitality business, supporting the incubator with its data-rich knowledge of customers as well as mentors from its executive team to coach the startups. Accenture will provide resources focused on human-centered design and digital technologies, as well as proprietary tools to help accelerate and scale real-time solutions. Startups will also will have access to Accenture's deep industry expertise in hospitality to lend additional mentorship and insight throughout the program. Accenture has proven experience working with the startup community through Accenture Ventures, which partners with and invests in growth-stage companies that create innovative enterprise technologies using an open innovation approach."Now, more than ever, people want their travel to be tailored, hyper-personalized and connected," said Julie Sweet, Accenture's Chief Executive Officer - North America. "As the official Travel Experience Incubator partner with Marriott, we are uniquely positioned to collaborate and scale innovation across the startup community to create new experiences for travelers.""We see The Travel Experience Incubator as a terrific opportunity to fuel promising startups focused on game-changing innovation for the lodging industry. We look forward to collaborating with these independent visionaries to reveal new business opportunities and enhanced guest experiences," said Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Marriott International. "Continuously innovating the guest experience from design to technology is a centerpiece of Marriott's culture and competitive advantage.""We've seen the success that is possible when startups and corporations work together to find better technological solutions, and the Travel Experience Incubator is an exciting opportunity to accomplish that in an established and global industry," said Evan Burfield, co-founder and CEO at 1776. "Large, forward-thinking companies, like Accenture and Marriott, are engaging successfully with startups, looking at startups as discovery arms and co-collaborators for innovation."More information about the Travel Experience Incubator Challenge, including the related application, is available on the 1776 website, click here.About Accenture InteractiveAccenture Interactive, part of Accenture Digital, helps the world's leading brands transform their customer experiences across the entire customer journey. Through our connected offerings in design, marketing, content and commerce, we create new ways to win in today's experience-led economy. Accenture Interactive was ranked the world's largest digital agency in the latest Ad Age Agency Report. To learn more follow us @accentureACTIVE and visit www.accentureinteractive.com.About AccentureAccenture (NYSE: ACN) is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions - underpinned by the world's largest delivery network - Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 411,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.About 17761776 is a public benefit corporation that empowers startup ecosystems around the world to solve complex challenges. To accomplish this, the company leverages its digital startup network, UNION; physical campuses in Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco and Dubai; a global startup pitch competition, Challenge Cup; and deep staff expertise in regulatory issues. 1776 accelerates connections and outcomes among startups, corporations, and public institutions. For more information, please visit www.1776.vc and follow @1776 on Twitterand @1776vc on Instagram.
Article by Danny Bryer

Tech takes on travel

Marriott 5 July 2017
The last thing you're thinking about when putting your feet up on holiday is that you may be enjoying a break as a result of something as disparate to travel as data analytics, but, increasingly, that's the case. Behind the scenes, in tourism, there's a new wave of business strategy driven by technology processes, all generated to create a better experience for the visitor. At the forefront of this wave are teams of young IT geniuses, making the most out of the growth spurt in this dynamic sector.The technology infiltration is not a trend, it's here to stay. An outmoded way of thinking about the tourism sector is that it's spearheaded by front-of-house hospitality profes sionals, visitor-facing tour guides and operators and shuttle drivers with a mind map of their local areas. While those roles are central to the visitor experience, they don't tell the whole story.As the market develops it is becoming dominated by the younger segment of the population, aspirational, mobile-savvy travellers who research, plan and record their experiences from their devices. Up to 45 percent of all travellers are using their devices to do this, and this is what business operators are understanding. They have to stay ahead of their markets and provide the means for those travellers to travel according to their preferences. To remain successful in a competitive market, companies must be preemptive in their strategies.Larger tourism organisations such as airlines and hotel groups are harnessing the power of big data, information generated by and about their customers. Online transactions can provide a wealth of detail about your customer, fr om cookies generated by their web searching habits to the information they provide on booking and feedback forms. This data allows for targeted marketing strategies that are intimate and personalised. You can target customers based on their preferences - how, when and where they are likely to travel, based on their habits. The more they interact with you, and you with them, the more information is produced; multiply that by thousands, and you can see how useful the cloud becomes for storing and accessing all of this data. Then there are apps - for everything from research to booking and exploring in destination. Apps aid visitors by making their process of organising what they want to do much more efficient - the demand for easy-to-navigate apps to facilitate travel is huge. As are user-friendly websites that get results fast.The point is, IT professionals, designers, data analysts, advertising and marketing specialists, social media analysts and co mmunity managers are all becoming more central to the tourism sector, these careers dominated by young, creative people who understand their market. It's often relatively easy to develop the skills necessary for those careers by doing free courses online, so they are accessible to a new workforce who may not have the resources to study degrees. Their skills are bankable, however, and, within the right context, they can go on to lead teams and access senior positions in an economic climate that would see them battle to find employment.We're acutely aware that tourism is enjoying a period of growth in the Western Cape, despite many challenges. There's large-scale investment in hotel and conferencing properties, so the long-term prospects are looking good. Across the continent, even, international investment is following suit, and, as African nations join the race to get their countries connected, the pace is picking up. This rapid digitalisation presents rich o pportunities for young people seeking to maximise on the potential available by building businesses around strategies that are less about guesswork but around real-time data. We can study trends that show where areas of growth are and develop our strategies to meet needs even before our market is aware that those needs exist.Of course, we're not saying that the wealth of accumulated knowledge of older tourism professionals isn't of value - we need the brilliance of seasoned professionals more than ever before, to channel this hunger for technology and the marketing power it offers, we need leaders with vision who can motivate and direct the creative energy into strategies that benefit travellers.Those who will succeed are the forever-young who can relate to people of all ages, for those are our visitors, travel is an experience that rejuvenates and refreshes, always bringing new perspectives, so the people who work in tourism must have the desire to constantly evolve and maintain a fresh approach to life.It's not certain where the industry will be in ten or twenty years' time: after all, at the rate technology is developing, it would take a visionary like Bill Gates to predict how travel trends will change, but, for young people in South Africa, there's an opportunity that will endure, both for those that are in love with all of the possibilities technology offers and for those brave enough to step out as entrepreneurs.Next time you're on holiday, think of all the processes that got you there, from reading friend's posts on social media to booking online. Imagine the specialists working behind the scenes to make that happen. One doesn't always consider all the people whose contribution goes into you having a good time, but, if you do, you'll begin to see why there are so many career opportunities in tourism.

Marriott Hotels rallies innovative travel startups to help shape the future of travel

Marriott 15 June 2017
Marriott Hotels, the flagship hotel brand of Marriott International, is searching for the most innovative tech start-ups in to join the 2017 intake of its hugely popular European accelerator programme TestBED and help shape the future travel and hospitality experience. Now in its second year, the programme gives young start-ups the chance to grow through expert guidance and the opportunity to pilot their product within the Marriott Hotels portfolio in Europe.This year, Marriott Hotels, is looking for start-ups in the following areas to help innovate and inspire creative thinking around the entire guest experience:The in-room experienceTransforming the overall guest experience, in and out of the hotelHelping guests find headspace to flourish and stay inspiredAccording to industry insights, now is the time to invest in the future of travel technology. 2016 saw record investment in travel tech (CB Insights) as consumers increasingly look to digital solutions to enhance their experiences. 2016 also saw the launch of Marriott Hotels' first 'live beta' hotel in North Carolina - an incubator and testing ground to trial new concepts and technologies and gain real-time customer feedback. As a company committed to innovation, TestBED is a natural progression and enables Marriott Hotels to have a greater say in the future of travel.Interested start-ups can submit their ideas via MarriottTestBED.com if they are a seed or early stage start-up with developed products or services ready to go to market. The deadline for entries is Friday 7th July 2017 and entrants should be willing to pilot the product within Europe. From here, entrants will be whittled down to a shortlist of eight start-ups invited to pitch to a panel of industry experts, including Georgie Barrat, presenter of The Gadget Show, and senior Marriott figures on 22nd and 23rd August 2017.The three most promising companies will then embark on a ten-week programme in which they will pilot their product or service in a Marriott Hotel in Europe. They will also benefit from a tailored mentoring and training programme provided by industry leaders."Marriott Hotels aims to be at the forefront of innovation and TestBED provides us with the ideal testing ground to find, nurture and test cutting-edge products that have the power to transform the travel and hotel experience," said John Licence, Vice President Premium & Select Brands Europe at Marriott International."TestBED is a powerful platform and proposition that gives start-ups the invaluable opportunity to tap into our operational expertise and test their products in a live hotel environment while exposing us to the creativity and disruptive thinking that lies in the start-up community."Charles Cadbury, CEO of Dazzle, an in-room voice activated personal assistant and one of two winning innovations of TestBED 2016, commented: "We would not be where we are today without TestBED, fact. The speed at which we gained market insight and user feedback would have been very hard and time consuming to achieve had we not had the support of Marriott Hotels. Furthermore, being able to quote the interest Marriott took in Dazzle has validated Dazzle, given us credability and opened many, many doors."Marriott Hotels has spent the last few years upgrading and evolving its product and experiences to lead the future of travel. In doing so, Marriott Hotels has repeatedly engaged the creative community and developed programmes that enable entrepreneurial talent to flourish within its global operations. Marriott TestBED is the latest innovative programme to engage with this community, following CANVAS in 2015, an incubator project that challenged Marriott employees or local entrepreneurs to fill unused space in Marriott city-centre hotels.http://www.marriotttestbed.com/

Leading Tech Media Recognize Marriott International's Innovative "Win the Stay" Strategy With the Digital 50 Award

Marriott 12 April 2017
Bethesda, Md. -- Marriott International received the coveted Digital 50 Award from IDG Enterprise--the leading enterprise technology media company composed of CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World. The Digital EDGE 50 award honored Marriott's "Win the Stay" digital strategy, which is enabling the company to connect with next gen travelers on digital and mobile platforms throughout their travel journey."This award is recognition of the tremendous work by our teams to better serve the needs of millions of travelers worldwide," said George Corbin, Senior Vice President of Digital, Marriott International. "Mobile is our fastest-growing customer channel and we leverage that growth to transform the guest experience, making service at critical travel moments easier, more personalized, and more relevant to our guests at every step in their journey."Today, Marriott offers guests a portfolio of mobile guest services through its dynamic app that features customized content for Marriott Rewards members when they are planning travel, getting ready to travel, the hotel stay and between stays. The company led the industry in rolling out mobile check-in, room ready alerts and mobile checkout three years ago. One year later, Marriott added Mobile Requests enabling guests to personalize their travel before, during and after their stays across more than 4,000 hotels worldwide. With Mobile Requests, guests can either choose from a drop-down menu of the most requested services or chat directly with hotel staff for special requests.Other mobile features enable guests to use their smartphone as their room key and access their Netflix, Hulu, YouTube accounts and more on guest room televisions at select hotels. Coming soon, Marriott will add more personalized and informative content based on data and driven by beacons now installed at over 500 hotels. For example, members who typically workout while they travel would receive push notifications about the location, hours and services of the hotel fitness facility."The complexity and scale of the initiatives in the Digital Edge 50 show how quickly organizations are progressing to the next phase of digital transformation," said Anne McCrory, Digital Edge program chair and Group VP, Customer Experience and Operations, IDG Enterprise Events. "They are taking advantage of new capabilities, such as AI and deep machine learning, to enhance their mobile and analytics practices worldwide. They are finding dramatic results from the cloud, and serving customers in faster and more elegant ways. Their adoption of agile, extreme programming and completely reworked business processes show how even the most traditional businesses can go big with digital with the right vision and leadership."The Digital Edge 50 Award is a recognized honor of digital innovation. Through digital technologies such as mobile, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality/augmented reality and cloud, award winners see business results that indicate a true "digital edge." Selected by a panel of industry experts and business and technology executives, winning applications are driving greater customer engagement, higher sales conversions and new products, as well as revenue and profit growth. Entries were judged by a panel of executive peers, including past winners, who evaluated projects on complexity, scale, business outcomes and innovation. Award recipients were honored at IDG's AGENDA 17 Conference on March 23, 2017.About Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, with more than 6,000 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 122 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts. The company also operates award-winning loyalty programs: Marriott Rewards(r), which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards(r), and Starwood Preferred Guest(r). For more information, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com. Connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.About Digital Edge 50 AwardThe Digital Edge 50 Award is a recognized honor of digital innovation. Through digital technologies such as mobile, analytics, AI, the Internet of Things and cloud, award winners see business results that indicate a true "digital edge." Selected by a panel of industry experts and business and technology executives, winning applications are driving greater customer engagement, higher sales conversions and new products, as well as revenue and profit growth.About CIOCIO is the premier content and community resource for information technology executives and leaders. The CIO portfolio -- CIO.com, CIO Forum on LinkedIn, events, strategic marketing services and research -- provides business technology leaders with analysis, insight and an understanding of IT's role in achieving business goals. CIO is published by IDG Enterprise, a subsidiary of IDG. Company information is available at http://www.idgenterprise.com/. Follow CIO events on Twitter: @CIOevents #Agenda17About ComputerworldComputerworld is the leading IT media brand helping senior IT, business decision-makers and key influencers navigate change with effective business strategy. Computerworld enables the IT value chain with unique editorial coverage from setting strategies to deriving value from core to edge technologies. IT solution providers can engage Computerworld's senior IT audience through www.computerworld.com, focused events, strategic marketing services and research. Computerworld is published by IDG Enterprise, a subsidiary of IDG. Company information is available at www.idgenterprise.com.Follow Computerworld events on Twitter: @CWevents #Agenda17

First robot butler in a New York state hotel has unique focus on bringing wellness amenities to guests of The Westin Buffalo

Marriott 31 March 2017
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Delaware North today formally introduced the Relay robot butler that is serving guests at The Westin Buffalo, the global hospitality and food service provider's new 116-room luxury lifestyle hotel at its headquarters building in downtown Buffalo, N.Y.Designed and built by Savioke, the Relay robot, which became operational at The Westin Buffalo in December, a few months after it opened, is the first to serve as a butler in a hotel in New York state, including New York City.It's also the first robot butler with a unique focus on bringing guests various wellness items to their rooms - amenities offered through the distinctive wellness programs for which the Westin brand is known.The robot delivers everything from delicious and nutritious SuperFoodsRxtm juices and other menu items from the hotel's Jake's Cafe, to running shoes as part of Westin's Gear Lending with New Balance(r) program. With the running shoes and other items, even guests who arrive without their own gear can take advantage of the state-of-the-art WestinWORKOUT(r) fitness studio at The Westin Buffalo or the RunWESTINtm program featuring jogging routes through Buffalo's distinctive neighborhoods, new waterfront and architectural treasures."Our guests have really gotten a kick out of the Relay robot and how it's programmed to ride the elevator to their room and call them to receive the items from its storage compartment," said Tom Long, general manager of The Westin Buffalo for Delaware North. "It's been successful thanks to Savioke working with Delaware North's information technology department and our front desk staff.""Delaware North places a high priority on innovation and technology, so we're proud to be on the forefront of this cutting-edge service model," said Bernard Gay, Delaware North's chief information officer. "We've integrated the robot technology to work hand-in-hand with the associates at the hotel to create a seamless experience for our guests."Relay is the first fully-autonomous delivery robot that works alongside people in busy environments such as logistics, hotels, office buildings, and high-rise apartments. Able to operate elevators, Relay is already deployed in dozens of properties where people live, work, and play. Using advanced technology to navigate in dynamic environments, around people and objects, Relay delivers items quickly, safely, and reliably - even in the most crowded locations. Since initial commercial deployment in 2014, Relay robots have made over 100,000 autonomous deliveries."We're thrilled to work with The Westin Buffalo to deploy a Relay robot at this new upscale hotel," said Savioke CEO Steve Cousins. "We're especially pleased Relay will play an important role in The Westin Buffalo's unique focus on delivering wellness items to guests."To coincide with its introduction, The Westin Buffalo has launched a social media campaign to "name" its Relay robot. The public is invited to vote via the hotel's Facebook or Twitter pages for one of four locally-inspired name finalists. As part of its new name, the robot will be described as a "Wellbot," reinforcing its commitment to serving guests of The Westin Buffalo with the wellness amenities and programs for which the Westin brand is known.

JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts And DJI Partner To Launch Drone Experience Program

Marriott 7 November 2016
Hong Kong, November 7, 2016 - JW Marriott Hotel & Resorts and DJI, the world's leading drone-maker, today announced a special partnership that will launch the luxury hotel brand's first Drone Experience Program. The program will provide guests with the opportunity to experiment with DJI's innovative drone technology. Hotel guests will view the beauty of JW Marriott's properties through a new perspective, and will be able to capture and share these experiences with friends and family.As the first property to debut the Drone Experience Program, JW Marriott Zhejiang Anji will launch the initiative on November 12, 2016. DJI representatives will host on-site experience sessions for hotel guests to demonstrate how to safely operate a drone and provide essential aerial photography tips. Guests will be invited to a demonstration of the latest aerial platform such as the popular DJI Phantom 4. This 30-minute experiential program will be held every Saturday from 10am - 4pm, and guest can reserve their spot in advance with the hotel concierge.The Drone Experience Program will enable guests to capture an aerial overview of the hotel and destination by using a DJI drone with the help of a trained UAV pilot. Through the DJI Go app, they can easily share these moments on social media via live-stream to Facebook or YouTube. With its proximity to the legendary Anji Bamboo Forest, one of the most renowned natural wonders in China, JW Marriott Zhejiang Anji was selected as an ideal pilot hotel for the Drone Experience Program."Delivering an exceptional guest experience is at the heart of what we do at JW Marriott, and this exciting partnership with DJI allows us to continue transforming the way our guests capture their travel experiences," says Mike Fulkerson, Vice President of Brand Marketing, Asia Pacific, Marriott International. "Anji is a fantastic destination to pilot this cutting-edge technology and the program will help guests both learn something new and share their experiences with friends and family.""We are delighted to be partnering with JW Marriott to enrich the guest experience. DJI's aerial platforms and camera technology will allow travelers creative means of capturing and sharing their travel experience with the rest of the world. The combined geographic footprints of DJI and the JW Marriott brand will enable us to debut the program in some of the world's most desirable destinations," said Eli Morgan Harris, DJI's business development manager.

Marriott Launches new distribution and booking solution

Marriott 18 October 2016
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) has unveiled a new distribution and booking solution,www.MarriottWholesalers.com, that provides thousands of authorized wholesalers, destination marketing companies, and tour operators access to real-time rates and inventory for more than 4,200 Marriott properties around the world. Marriott has partnered with Sabre Hospitality Solutions to develop and launch this new platform.The solution is part of Marriott's strategy to transform the wholesale and leisure segment with technology and shift to dynamic rates and automated reservations, replacing antiquated processes for contracting, accessing inventory and booking hotel rooms. Approved wholesalers can now search real-time hotel net rates and inventory globally to create tailor-made packages for their customers. All hotel bookings are confirmed instantly online."Marriott works with more than 3,000 wholesalers and we have been eager to modernize our process for collaborating with the wholesale and leisure segment. MarriottWholesalers.com provides our partners with dynamic access to a broader selection of hotel products at the best prices, and allows them to focus on serving leisure travelers," says Drew Pinto, Senior Vice President, Distribution, Marriott International. "Selecting Sabre as our technology provider brought the speed to market, experience, and capability that we needed to bring this solution to fruition."The solution provides significant value to smaller wholesalers by removing the need for them to make a technology investment to gain direct, dynamic access to rates and inventory. The solution will make it more efficient than ever to distribute Marriott's inventory to the broader leisure package segment.Wholesalers can establish or renew access in seven languages at MarriottWholesalers.com and once authenticated, they immediately have access to the booking engine.The STARnet (www.starwoodnet.com) program supporting wholesaler activation for Starwood hotels will continue to operate in tandem.
Article by Carson Booth

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is checking into your hotel

Marriott 13 October 2016
Some industries remain stubborn and resistant to change by not embracing new technology as fast as others. However, over the last few years, the hospitality industry has seen dramatic technology changes with the sudden maturing of suppliers as a result of consolidation and larger more sophisticated supplier entrants, competing hospitality business-model entrants that leverage technology as a platform, and technology strategy changes as a result of brand management company consolidations. These trends will continue to impact the industry's technology strategies for the foreseeable future. However, there is a new, more permanent check-in about to arrive.On October 4, 2016, Google embarked on a strategy to challenge Apple more directly by announcing their first smartphone to be designed and manufactured by Google: Pixel(1). Google are clearly betting that by more closely aligning hardware and software, they will be able to offer the same kind of seamless user experience that Apple provides its own users. More importantly, on the same day Google announced a strategy to leverage their vast information capacities by embedding voice-based AI within Pixel, envisioning a more intelligent natural language future for services like restaurant reservations, map directions, local points of interest, etc.This isn't exactly new - Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google's Now, have all been around for some time. While each of these respective companies have the capability to make the user voice experience seamless, natural and accurate, what separates Google's announcement from the pack is sheer footprint. Google's Android has an astonishing 87.6% mobile OS market share versus Apple's 11.7% for IOS (2). With this penetration, combined with improving voice recognition accuracy, speed and ability to manage increasingly complex natural-language capabilities, Google are positioning themselves to dominate the smartphone and mobile AI space. This pervasive strategy embeds further as Google increasingly moves into your living room with Drive, Android TV, Home, Chromecast, Daydream View, WiFi routers, etc.How will pervasive AI impact the hospitality industry?Guest knowledge - A consumer starts their guest experience even before a room is booked by shopping around different channels, seeking rates, availability and room types, and even booking the exact room for their stay. They have access to more information today than ever before in helping with the decision process. By adding AI assistance in their pockets, guests will be able to query against very specific criteria and compare results seamlessly with competitive options or while approaching the hotel or even standing at the front desk. Precursor examples of leveraging technology and inferring information exist today, for example, gaming the loyalty program upgrade policies to ensure suites are available for upper level loyalty members at check-in.Guest & associate experience - Hospitality management companies and technology vendors must consider the impact of guests wanting a rich, personalized stay experience by using familiar and increasingly sophisticated technology that is always available in their pocket. Guests prefer to use this familiar tool to leverage biometric or secured-device identification, and will also prefer it for natural language voice assistance to interact with various hotel services - from the pre-stay booking process through the in-stay experience with key-locks, room environment control, ordering pool-bar cocktails, or requesting their car to be brought around.Additionally, as consumers are now accustomed to self-service in and beyond the travel industry through kiosks and apps, there is an accelerated natural evolution with advancements in AI and robotic capabilities to directly deliver guest service in the industry. Some examples include Starwood's "Project Jetson" which pilots Siri-activated rooms (3) and the Botlr robot program at the Aloft Cupertino (4), as well as Japan's Henn-na Hotel which is almost exclusively run by robots. The challenge for the industry will be how to bridge the uncanny valley (5) of robotics in a guest service experience. These examples can provide a learning opportunity as they by-pass the phenomenon altogether as a way to start the introduction into the guest experience. In parallel, the industry is on the cusp of major transformations to be generated when guest AI start interacting with hotel AI driven by the intersection of advancements in AI, cloud data storage, natural language interpretation, and the pervasiveness of it all coming together in the mobile technology footprint.The associate experience will be greatly impacted as well. In addition to the change in the traditional roles and responsibilities that robotics will bring to hotel operations, associates that remain will naturally bring their lens of the consumer AI experience to their work tasks, tools and data. This, along with increasing personalization expectations by guests, will drive a bottom-up demand for more intelligent data and subsequent improvement of tools for the associates to use.Consider the example of evolving available consumer chat services to handle more complex voice/natural language guest requests. The immediate solution is to staff the hotel service at sufficient levels to handle and route the request with high personalization and efficiency. However, the human portion of work involved in transforming the natural language request is a major bottleneck in this process. AI presents the opportunity to enable the transformation of the request into discrete instructions consumed by next generation solutions that employ a micro-services architecture. This removes the human bottleneck and enables the redeployment of people to ensure the high quality of service standards are maintained for the guest- a more profitable process for the business.Another area to be profoundly impacted by AI will be the current state of data privacy and related legislation. As Google and others become further embedded into our daily lives, we will naturally add more personal data to our profile through increased usage. AI will mine that data and determine what artifacts are pertinent to retain and file, or discard. Single platform data mining is not inherently difficult. What is difficult is mining across multiple platforms and data repositories - think about the numerous areas where data is stored today: map POIs, music, pictures, browser favorites, etc., variously stored across Google, Apple, Facebook, private cloud storage, and other platforms. Compounding this challenge are conflicting requirements from governments to try to nationalize citizen data and storage for multi-national industries, e.g. hospitality servicing multi-national travelers. Data will be shared and stored cross-border - its naive to believe legislation will stop international personal data transfers especially when guests want similar experiences and recognition while visiting Madrid, Melbourne and Mendoza. AI is the only solution capable to meet the complexities of intelligent data aggregation on demand, while supporting anonymizing and other legislation requirements.Beyond the data privacy and legislation concerns, hotels and loyalty programs already struggle in trying to deliver a personalized experience for the guest due to the difficulty in interpreting the guest's particular stay profile. Identifying when a guest is on business or leisure, with family or without, are relatively easy observations to make. More difficult is understanding when to leverage specific information to engage the guest with a more personalized interaction, which usually requires some indication from the guest themselves as to the level of personalization that is appropriate. Today, these interactions are left to human judgement or canned technology processes. Going forward, AI will support the ability to access, codify and appropriately present more data about the guest at every touchpoint in the stay cycle. AI won't replace the human touch completely, but will better support the human or machine process by presenting more relevant information at the right time.AI is coming fast and going mobile. As stated before, some industries are traditionally stubborn and resistant to technology change, however, there are significant and natural AI opportunities presented by the hospitality industry's business model, diversity by physical geography, and data complexity. No industry is better positioned to leverage AI's ability to sift through vast amounts of data and help create a unique guest experience. A new breed of major technology companies have already embarked on leveraging the advancements of AI with many supporting the hospitality industry. Suppliers, Hotels and management companies must begin to understand this opportunity now and undertake a significant evaluation of their current technology platforms and strategies to determine readiness for AI.AI will become embedded and ubiquitous, and in the pocket of every associate and guest.Are you ready?

Travel Tech Start-Ups Can Apply to Marriott Hotels' First Accelerator Programme

Marriott 7 October 2016
Marriott Hotels in Europe is launching a unique accelerator programme to find and accelerate tech start-ups that enhance the travel and hospitality experience. The programme will give budding companies the chance to grow through expert guidance and the opportunity to pilot their product within the Marriott Hotels portfolio within Europe. Upon completion of a successful test period, Marriott Hotels could potentially offer an ongoing partnership with the start-up.As a brand that fosters creativity and ingenuity, Marriott Hotels is the ideal sponsor of a programme such as the Marriott TestBED. Two start-up companies benefit from a six-week pilot of their product or service in two European Marriott Hotels, following a pitch process. The companies will be able to use an individual hotel as a 'test bed' while receiving publicity and support from Marriott Hotels, as well as exposure at relevant events and introduction to industry leaders.The companies will also benefit from a mentoring programme including training and workshops delivered by professionals from the travel and hospitality industry as well as from leading marketing agencies to provide the knowledge and tools to promote their product.Start-ups can register their interest via MarriottTestBED.com, if they are a seed or early stage start-up with developed products or services ready to go to market. Products or services should comply with the following:Fit within the travel and hospitality sectorCan be implemented at a single hotel levelWill offer guests a useful tool to explore and discover a city or region ORHelp Marriott Hotels better understand their guests wants and needsDoes not require heavy integration into global systemsThe deadline for entries is Sunday 16 October 2016 and entrants should be willing to work within Europe. From here, a shortlist of eight start-ups will be invited to pitch to a panel of industry experts, including the Head of Innovation at AOL and senior Marriott figures, on Friday 4 November 2016. The winning two companies will then be given a few days boot-camp-style training, before piloting their product or service in a Marriott Hotel.Osama Hirzalla, Vice President Brand Marketing & eCommerce Europe at Marriott International said: "The wealth of talent and innovation lying in start-up communities is truly phenomenal and we're delighted to offer two companies the chance to launch their idea or product to a global travel market, benefit from a tailored mentor scheme, and receive feedback from actual customers, which is invaluable. The most exciting thing about Marriott TestBED is the idea that entrepreneurs can learn from us and we can learn from them: combining their agility and creativity with our tools and hospitality expertise could be a powerful force in enhancing the guest experience."Marriott Hotels has spent the last few years upgrading and evolving its product and experiences to lead the future of travel. In doing so, Marriott Hotels has repeatedly engaged the creative community and developed programmes that enable entrepreneurial talent to flourish within its global operations. Marriott TestBED is the latest innovative programme to engage with this community, following the successful launch of CANVAS in 2015, an incubator project that challenged Marriott employees or local entrepreneurs to fill unused space in Marriott city-centre hotels. More recently in September 2016, Marriott Hotels announced its partnership with TED, the non-profit devoted to ideas worth spreading. The relationship brings creatively curated TED Talks, blogs and original quotes to hotel guests worldwide. In turn, travellers staying at Marriott Hotels have access to thought-provoking and inspirational content to help jumpstart their own original, inventive thinking.For more information visit www.marriotttestbed.com.To see the terms and conditions visit http://www.marriotttestbed.com/terms-and-conditions.

Marriott International Launches M Live Europe, the Company's Fourth Global Marketing Real-Time Command Centre

Marriott 26 July 2016
Marriott International continues to lead the way in digital and social marketing innovation with the launch of the company's fourth M Live Studio. Located at Marriott's European Headquarters in London, the newest studio will serve as the epicentre for creating real-time content and generating social engagement with travellers in Europe. M Live will engage in conversations in multiple languages including French, Spanish, German, Italian and English. M Live first launched at Marriott International's headquarters in Bethesda, MD in 2015 and has since expanded to the Asia Pacific region, Caribbean and Latin America region, and now Europe. M Live empowers Marriott to interact with guests in a more personalised way and participate in one-to-one conversations on social platforms where travellers are already actively engaged. It tracks conversations, trends, global performance, marketing campaigns and brand reputation across social platforms in real-time, identifying opportunities for Marriott to engage consumers with its 19 brands and nearly 4,500 properties worldwide.Marriott International's vice president of global creative and content marketing, David Beebe, explained: "We created M Live with an understanding that real-time marketing always starts with the guest, and the best way to engage with consumers is to start a two-way conversation that is relevant to their needs and preferences as travellers."M Live is designed to engage with guests around cultural moments that are relevant to what they are already talking about on social media. "We've turned the tables from creating general content distributed to thousands of guests to listening and leveraging a single moment that's relevant and shareable between thousands of guests." Says Matthew Glick, senior director of global creative and content marketing, "Not only are we able to discover these moments to engage with consumers quickly, but also identify opportunities by brand, by discipline, by market and by channel to create memorable and shareable experiences."M Live is able to identify trending social stories around the world and quickly ascertain ways to join the conversation. A recent example saw M Live picking up a story about a New Zealand backpacker who was travelling the world with his favourite Lego figurines and documenting their adventures on social media. After connecting the dots to find @TheLegoBackpacker, Marriott was able to host The Lego Backpacker, and his real-life owner, at the AC Hotel Ciudad de Sevilla, resulting in content for the AC Hotels brand that was then amplified through Lego's social channels bringing in an additional 370,000+ social followers into the conversation."We know that the next-generation of travellers are digitally savvy, constantly connected, and are looking for a more personalised one-to-one relationship with our portfolio of brands." says Osama Hirzalla, vice president brand marketing and e-commerce, Europe. "The power of M Live Europe is that we can now engage with travellers in more regionally and culturally relevant ways that are meaningful to them."To date, M Live has created a number of successful real-time marketing efforts that have driven consumer engagement. Additionally, in partnership with HYP3R, M Live uses geo-fencing technology to uncover untagged social conversations that guests are having at Marriott properties and identifies opportunities to create a better guest experience. For example, the M Live team discovered a tweet that a guest posted from the Domes of Elounda Autograph Collection Hotel in Greece. M Live created an on-property breakfast moment and also surprised the guest with Marriott Rewards points leading him to share his excitement on Twitter and create user-generated content for the Autograph Collection brand and hotel.

Marriott International to Expand and Improve Offerings to Business Travel Professionals

Marriott 18 July 2016
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) continues to expand its offerings to business travel professionals, according to Brian King, the company's Global Officer, Brand Management & Global Sales, in a speech at the Global Business Travel Association's annual convention in Denver, Colorado, today.Marriott is an international lodging leader, with nearly 4,500 properties spanning the globe, the broadest portfolio of brands in hospitality and an industry-leading frequent traveler program - Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards - with 56 million members."Marriott International is in the midst of one of its most exciting periods ever for business travel professionals," King said. "In the coming year, we'll be unveiling scores of new luxury and lifestyle properties and significant new ballrooms worldwide, but also new guest experiences for valued, tech-savvy road warriors across our portfolio of brands."Currently, Marriott is innovating across its system with:Mobile Check-in and Check-out: Marriott International - including Marriott Hotels, the industry's first and largest brand to offer mobile services - now offers guests this high-tech check-in/ check-out option across 4,200 hotels globally. The company recently surpassed the 12-million mark for mobile check-ins and check-outs.Netflix In-Room Entertainment: An industry first, Marriott Hotels now provides guests with the ability to log onto their Netflix accounts or start a new one on in-room TV screens in more than 300 hotels globally. This is a popular option for guests who love watching "Orange is the New Black," "House of Cards" and other streaming entertainment.MeetingsImagined.com: Marriott International's visual, social and collaborative website unites meeting planners with more than 750 of its hotels. It also provides more than 4,000 images to spark the imagination, as well as tips, quizzes and trend-related articles about everything from the hottest new cocktails to the latest technology trends needed to create experiences that clients will find both inspiring and engaging.Beta Hotel: Next month, when Marriott unveils a hotel designed to test new ideas and technology, planners will be able to see Marriott's vision for next-generation meeting space and experiences. Among the concepts to be tested: An interactive pre-function space that resembles a high-end residential kitchen and a next-generation boardroom with unexpected natural light and cutting-edge touchscreen monitors.This year also marks an active period for meeting space expansion, with several high-profile projects underway worldwide. Among them:Expansion of Gaylord Hotels: Construction commenced on the new, 2-million-square-foot Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Aurora, Colorado. Once completed in late 2018, Gaylord Rockies will be the largest combined hotel and convention center in Colorado. At the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center near Washington D.C., construction commenced on a freestanding, 23,000-square-foot ballroom overlooking the Potomac River, set to open in July 2017. At the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center near Dallas, work began on a $120 million expansion that will add 86,000 square feet of meeting space including a new ballroom in 2019More Luxury and Lifestyle Hotels in More Destinations: Marriott plans to open more than 100 luxury and lifestyle hotels in the next 12 months, with the iconic Ritz-Carlton brand arriving in new locations such as Langkawi, Malaysia, known for its white-sand beaches. In the next year, customers will also see the global expansion of AC by Marriott in countries such as Mexico, Brazil and Germany; the arrival of three new JW Marriott locations in China, and new locations for the sassy and fresh Moxy brand sprouting up all over Europe.

Marriott International Launches Third M Live Studio, the Company's Global Marketing Real-Time Command Center

Marriott 1 May 2016
everything from trending articles around food and culture, to chatter around #GrilledCheeseDay, to a trending conversation that happened around the rare occurrence of five planets simultaneously visible to the naked eye. On a more individualized level, when a traveler recently posted on Twitter asking for a hotel recommendation for a Nashville girls weekend, M Live took notice and quickly acted, offering not only relevant hotel recommendations, but also sharing content about local nightlife to enhance her Nashville experience beyond just the hotel stay. Just 13 minutes later, the traveler shared on Twitter that she had booked a stay with Marriott.The M Live location in Florida will serve as the company's epicenter for real-time social engagement with customers in theCaribbean and Latin America (CALA) region. The CALA regional hub features localized and in-language content, in Spanish and Portuguese, to connect with the consumer in a relevant way, all powered by live data and metrics. For example, M Live CALA might track conversations around Carnival celebrations happening in Colombia, Aruba, and Brazil, spring break in Mexico, the Caribbean Copa America games, and hotel grand openings in the region. M Live will enable Marriott to engage in those conversations, and deliver relevant creative and content to travelers."With the opening of M Live CALA, we're leveraging the power of global marketing and making it relevant for travelers in the region," said Diana Plazas, Vice President of Brand, Marketing, and Digital - CALA, Marriott International. "With in-region engagement and in-language capabilities, we're connecting with travelers in more culturally meaningful ways."To date, M Live has created a number of successful real-time marketing efforts that have driven consumer engagement. Most recently in the CALA region, M Live leveraged the built-in audience of the JW Marriott brand's social channels to maximize reach for the opening of the JW Marriott Los Cabos in Mexico, resulting in almost 1 million total reached on Twitter, while also using geo-fencing technology to discover untagged social conversations happening on-property that Marriott identified as opportunities to deliver a better guest experience at the hotel.

Rakuten Travel and Marriott International Partner to Welcome Japanese Travelers to 4,300+ Locations Worldwide

Marriott 25 January 2016
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) and Rakuten Travel (http://travel.rakuten.co.jp/) today announced that they have signed a Direct Connect Agreement that will enable Japanese travelers to check room inventory in real-time and rates in Marriott International's 4,300+ hotel portfolio, as well as to book hotel rooms online on their smart phones or digital devices. The strategic partnership will commence in the first quarter of 2016."Japan is a very important market for us and we are thrilled to reach such a significant partnership distribution agreement with Rakuten Travel," said Peggy Fang Roe, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of Marriott International, Asia Pacific. "Rakuten Travel deeply understands the buying behavior of Japanese travelers, particularly online and that is a big focus for us. Our desire is to partner with those who are passionate about their consumers and have the same mission that we do to create a seamless global travel experience. With 19 Marriott International brands, including JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton and Marriott Hotels, and over 4,300 hotels available through Rakuten Travel, Japanese travelers will see a major increase in the number of rooms they can book through Rakuten Travel.""The agreement exemplifies Marriott International's continued efforts toward the creation of a holistic and effortless online- and mobile-powered travel experience for our guests. We aim to connect Japanese travelers with our hotels around the world and aspire to be the favorite global brand for Japan's tens of millions of travelers, who are looking to travel inside and outside of Japan." Ms. Roe added.Rakuten Travel is one of Japan's largest and most successful online travel platforms and is part of the renowned Rakuten Group with more than 100 million members across the nation. More than 1.8 million room nights are booked per month through the Rakuten Travel online portal, reflecting strong demand from Japanese travelers who make their travel arrangements online.Takanobu Yamamoto, President of Rakuten Travel said, "Marriott International is a strategic fit for our group as the number of Japanese travelers exploring the world continues to grow. We are very excited that our customers will be able to have direct access to the worldwide room inventory of Marriott International, one of the world's largest lodging companies. We understand what our members are looking for through their consumer behavior and booking preferences, and work to provide the best hotel choices for them. With the strategic partnership with Marriott International, we are able to offer more travel and booking options than ever before to our customers. This will not only boost customer satisfaction and attract more bookings but also ultimately strengthen our travel business as a whole."Rakuten Travel with its innovative travel solutions has made travel planning more convenient than ever for Japanese travelers. Rakuten Travel offers a wide range of hotel options and enables users to book hotels and hostels worldwide.According to the study conducted by Phocuswright Japan1, the annual sales for online travel booking in the Japanese market in 2013 was JPY 2.9 trillion, which has increased by 23% compared to that in 2011. The online sales for travel package now account for 33% of total travel sales in Japan. The study indicates that the increasing number of Japanese consumers will go online to make travel bookings, thus online travel booking is likely to uptrend in coming years.1 Haruo Ushiba et al, Japan Online Travel Market Overview Second Edition (Bookway, 2015)About Rakuten Travel Rakuten Travel is one of Japan's leading hotel reservation websites. The service offers Japan's broadest selection of domestic travel accommodation listings at 29,550 (as of May 1, 2015). With offices in 12 countries, Rakuten Travel is rapidly expanding its international operations and is viewable in 9 languages (English, Japanese, French, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Korean, Thai and Bahasa Indonesian).

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