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Travel Tripper Named #1 CRS and Top-Rated Booking Engine and Digital Agency by Hotel Tech Report

Travel Tripper 18 January 2019
(NEW YORK)-- Travel Tripper, the industry's leading provider of hotel booking and marketing solutions, this week received four awards from Hotel Tech Report, the top source for online ratings and reviews on hotel technology. The 2019 HotelTechAwards, known as the "Oscars of Hotel Tech," honored Travel Tripper with the following:#1 Central Reservation System for RezTrip CRSTop Rated Booking Engine Finalist for RezTrip Booking EngineTop Rated Digital Marketing Agency Finalist for Travel Tripper Digital AgencyGlobal People's Choice Awards, as one of the top 10 most customer-centric companies helping hoteliers grow their bottom linesThe HotelTechAwards are chosen based on honest reviews gathered from thousands of hoteliers across more than 120 countries. Hotel Tech Report uses the ratings and survey data to rank hotel technology and marketing solutions across various product categories in the areas of customer service, ease of use, ROI, and implementation.Jordan Hollander, Co-Founder of Hotel Tech Report, congratulated Travel Tripper on its multiple wins. "There is a group of companies in our industry that make great tech and there's another group that provides best-in-class service," said Hollander. "Travel Tripper is one of the few companies that excel in both arenas. Travel Tripper's clients enjoy state-of-the-art design and engineering while receiving top-notch services that feel like an extension of their own team.""We're honored and delighted to receive this recognition from our clients and peers in the industry," said Joan Evelyn Lee, VP of Operations at Travel Tripper. "Receiving awards for all of our booking and marketing solutions is especially exciting because it is a testament to the depth of our product innovations and strength in customer support."The awards come after a year of exciting innovations from RezTrip CRS & Booking Engine and the Travel Tripper Digital Agency, including the launch of Rate Match and Real Time Ads, two industry-first solutions that are changing the way hotels win direct bookings."Since day one, we have had a relentless focus on innovation and service," said Steffan Berelowitz, VP of Digital Platforms at Travel Tripper. "In 2019, we expect to delight our customers with even more groundbreaking developments and product launches. Stay tuned!"To read real customer reviews and ratings on Travel Tripper solutions and services, visit their profile on Hotel Tech Report or learn more at www.traveltripper.com.###About Hotel Tech ReportHotelTechReport (www.hoteltechreport.com) is the premiere research platform for hotel technology globally. The platform helps buyers save time identifying the best technology products to run their hotel properties by easily comparing vendors based on unbiased reviews from verified users. HotelTechReport's global community connects hoteliers spanning 120+ countries with hundreds of the world's top hotel technology suppliers with billions of dollars in market capitalization.
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Travel Tripper Releases the First ADA Monitoring Platform for Hotels

Travel Tripper 7 January 2019
NEW YORK -- Travel Tripper, an award-winning digital agency and leader in hotel e-commerce, has released the first Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Monitoring Platform made specifically for hotels. This groundbreaking new platform offers a proactive approach to the increasing threat of ADA website lawsuits in the hotel industry, allowing hoteliers and their web service providers to address website accessibility issues and mitigate the risk of ADA compliance lawsuits.The first of its kind in the hotel industry, Travel Tripper's ADA Monitoring Platform actively audits hotel websites according to WCAG 2.1 AA-Level standards and automatically alerts property teams if a technical violation is found. Upon recognizing an ADA violation, the platform sends regular notifications to account users until the issue is fixed. These notifications can be customized, allowing users to alert additional third parties, such as web service providers."The goal is to head off ADA compliance lawsuits. With our platform, we can discover ADA issues in real-time," says John Burkhard, Web Development Manager at Travel Tripper. "It's this type of functionality that makes the Travel Tripper ADA Monitoring Platform an essential tool for hoteliers looking for efficient and effective solutions in the realm of ADA web compliance."Because many ADA website lawsuits focus not only on technical compliance related to assistive web technologies, but also the omission of ADA content as it relates to property accessibility, Travel Tripper includes content audits and content rewrites as part of the initial setup of its monitoring platform. To do so, the Travel Tripper team works with the property to create comprehensive site content about physical accessibility at the hotel as well as the legal documentation required by the ADA."Our key goal is to mitigate risk for hoteliers, and that means being proactive in every facet of ADA website compliance," says Nate Lane, Senior Director of Digital Platforms. "The fact of the matter is that technical compliance alone is not enough. Proper ADA content audits ensure there are no surprises when guests with disabilities stay at a hotel property."Although the platform was developed to catch ADA website violations before they reach the courts, due to the gray area in ADA legislation it is unlikely ADA lawsuits will stop completely, regardless of the compliance level achieved. For that reason, the Travel Tripper ADA Monitoring Platform also provides the proper documentation for hoteliers and their lawyers in the midst of an ADA lawsuit. The data available in the platform assists legal teams in providing compliance by showing awareness, action, and resolution of compliance violations, which is a typical outcome of lawsuit mitigation. For example, regular audits are time stamped and archived for future reference, while real-time compliance statuses are tracked in a linear graphical form, and development worklogs are available as compliance violations are resolved."We assist hoteliers' legal teams by giving them everything they need when responding to an ADA website compliance lawsuit," says Lane. "In our experience, detailed records and documentation of active and ongoing compliance are pieced together in hindsight and often incomplete. Our goal was to make the collection of this information fully automated and easily available."Since its launch in 2016, Travel Tripper's Digital Agency has provided ADA compliance solutions to more than 200 hotels. Today, Travel Tripper's ADA Monitoring Platform takes the digital agency's innovative mindset to a new level by expanding ADA services to any hotel in the digital space. The platform is available to any hotel or accommodation property, independent of existing web agency or web service agreements.For more information on Travel Tripper's ADA Monitoring Platform and ADA services, please check out this page and join us on January 15 at 2:00 pm EST / 11:00 am PST for our webinar, "ADA Website Compliance for Hotels," in which Nate Lane and John Burkhard will demo the Travel Tripper ADA Compliance Monitoring Platform, as well as answer any questions related to website accessibility compliance. To secure your spot, please RSVP here.
Article by Nancy Huang

Why And How You Should Apply The Netflix Model To Your Hotel

Travel Tripper 14 December 2018
It's easy to forget that Netflix started out as an ambitious DVD-by-mail company that nearly went out of business. Back in 2011, Netflix was being savaged by the media and its stock price was plummeting. Today, it's the second-most valuable media company in the world and boasts 125 million subscribers.In the following post, we'll reveal what hotels can learn from the Netflix success story, including how to utilize personalization, consumer psychology, and an experimental mindset to compete with the OTAs, offer incredible customer service, and win more direct bookings.1. Netflix obsesses over making the right recommendationsNetflix knows it needs to capture attention in under 90 seconds. If members haven't found something to watch within that time, it's very likely that they'll move onto another activity. That's why Netflix has made huge investments in its AI-powered recommendation system.Using sophisticated algorithms, customers receive tailored viewing suggestions based on an array of factors, including what they watch, their past viewing habits, when they pause, rewind or fast-forward content, and their browsing and scrolling habits. However, what often gets forgotten is how this recommendation system has changed over time.Previously, recommendations were made based on a user's expressed preferences. But the shows and movies a user claimed to like the most was found to be a less than perfect way to recommend new content. In an interview with Wired, Netflix's former VP of Product Innovation Carlos Gomez-Uribe explained:"People would rate movies like Schindler's List high, as opposed to one of the silly comedies I watch, like Hot Tub Time Machine. If you give users recommendations that are all four or five-star videos, that doesn't mean that they'll actually want to watch that video on a Wednesday night after a long day at work."Netflix learned two important lessons: that preferences are largely dictated by context, and that people often report aspirational preferences that don't actually reflect their daily activity.Takeaway for hotels:Your guests' past preferences might not be a reliable way to predict their future preferences. For example, the purchases a guest made during a previous stay might have been influenced by their mood, their finances at the time, or the company they were traveling with. Have their preferences changed since? The only way to know is to ask.Leading up to a stay, send a short survey or questionnaire to ask your guests if there's anything you can do to further personalize their experience. Even if their preferences are exactly the same, the gesture alone will demonstrate your desire to make their stay as enjoyable as possible.The other lesson from Netflix is the huge value of a personalized service. If you personalize your hotel marketing and website to each user, you'll build loyalty among your guests by promoting the specific amenities, services, and experiences that they really care about.2. Netflix optimizes images to drive engagementIn early 2014, Netflix carried out research that showed the artwork for each title had the biggest influencer on a member's decision to watch content. In fact, artwork received over 82% of focus as people browsed the platform.This led to the company conducting extensive A/B testing to compare how different artwork affected audience engagement. The results were impressive, sometimes leading to 20-30% more views for a title. Previously, Netflix simply used the images supplied by their studio partners.Netflix has since started personalizing images to each of its members to further optimize user engagement.Takeaway for hotels:Pay close attention to the images you use to showcase your property. It's easy to rely on the same images out of habit, or a belief that they best represent your hotel. The lesson from Netflix is to avoid complacency, and that image choice can have a dramatic impact on consumer decision-making.Make a practice of optimizing your images by running A/B testing throughout the year. While you might not be able to run tests on all of your images, focus on the most prominent ones on your website, marketing, and third-party listings.Check out our in-depth guide to learn how to choose the best images for your hotel website.3. Netflix earns loyalty through a culture of convenienceIn the digital age, convenience drives loyalty. And Netflix is the perfect example of how to build supreme convenience into the heart of the user experience.From the main screen, members can go from browsing to watching a show in two steps. Any shows that a person has previously been watching are conveniently positioned at the top of their customized home screen.Netflix's 'Continue Watching' list also means that members can seamlessly carry on watching a show, rather than having to rewind and find the place they left off.Takeaway for hotels:Netflix gives modern consumers what they want: ultimate convenience. Hotel guests are equally keen for a hassle-free experience. They want the choice to self-serve and communicate on the move. So you need to make everything about interacting with you feel effortless and easy.Does your hotel provide a mobile check-in/check-out service, or a mobile payment option? Do you have a messaging platform that lets guests chat with your hotel and order services? As consumers seek convenience and frictionless interaction, having the right technology in place is vital.citizenM is an excellent example of a hotel chain tailored to on-demand culture. The brand website promises guests a 1-minute check in/check out, and 24/7 food and drinks. Guests can use their room keys to pay for food and drink at the onsite canteenM, and the receipt at checkout goes straight to a guest's email inbox.The takeaway message? Cultivating a culture of convenience should be a priority, so start today.4. Netflix knows how to keep viewers hookedNetflix CEO Reed Hastings has called sleep the company's biggest competitor. To that end, Netflix uses various tactics to keep members watching late into the night.The company pioneered the whole-season release model when it launched every episode of House of Cards (its first original show) all at the same time. This model has since led to the "binge-watching" phenomenon. Audiences get hooked on a show, which increases the odds that they'll finish the series.In addition, the auto-play function is set to 'default,' so a new episode automatically begins after the previous episode has ended. Last year, video previews (a form of specially designed video synopsis) were added to the browsing experience to help make a quick decision about watching a new title.Combined, these elements reduce friction and keep people on the platform for longer.Takeaway for hotels:The abandonment rate in the hotel industry is notoriously high. So there's real value in trying to replicate the Netflix approach to audience engagement.Plenty of seemingly modern hotel websites consistently lose bookings because of subtle flaws in their user experience, so be sure to acquaint yourself with some of the main conversion killers. It's also important to integrate social proof into your hotel website to reassure guests during the buying process. In addition, automatic price-matching widgets will ensure customers don't have to leave your website to compare rates elsewhere.5. Netflix constantly evolves (even when it's ahead)Back in 1997, Netflix was a fledgling company that shipped DVDs. At the time, Blockbuster was the market leader in the video rental industry. Fast-forward two decades, Blockbuster is long gone and Netflix is the second biggest media company in the world.How did that happen? In large part, because Netflix realized that online streaming was the future and adapted its business model. Blockbuster hesitated and paid the price.Netflix continues to innovate and improve its service. Among countless changes, the company has created more original content, overhauled its recommendation algorithm, and keeps improving its interface. It would be easy to stop still. But that isn't in the company's DNA.Takeaway for hotels:It'd be easy to forget that the Netflix success story is largely about mindset: a willingness to adapt and a relentless desire to experiment. For hotels, this lesson translates easily: be aware of your competition, stay on top of industry trends, and adapt swiftly and decisively.Just like Netflix, it's vital to realize that the needs of your guests are constantly changing. The 'on-demand' Gen Z generation is coming of age and set to outnumber Millennials within a year. As your guest of tomorrow, you need to be ready now to cater to the new expectations of younger travelers.Having the right technology in place is also crucial. OTAs continue to win direct bookings because they constantly optimize their online experiences. Hotels must do the same by investing in the right booking engine and reservations system, embracing mobile optimization, and understanding how to leverage artificial intelligence across the travel ecosystem.Applying the Netflix mindsetThe success of Netflix might appear to be a direct result of its vast financial resources. But it's worth reflecting on a quote by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings from a VentureBeat interview in 2016:"It's not Netflix that's making the changes. It's the Internet. We're figuring out every year how to use the Internet to make a great consumer experience. Every year is an experiment."The takeaway message here is that in the on-demand age, the world moves fast. To satisfy and wow on-demand travelers, your hotel needs to adapt to the marketplace, make use of the latest technology, offer supreme convenience, and be tailored to meet the personalized needs and desires of each guest.
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Newly released CRS Buyer's Guide shares cutting-edge tech trends and smart buyer questions for hoteliers

Travel Tripper 25 October 2018
NEW YORK -- Hotel Tech Report, in collaboration with Travel Tripper, recently unveiled the 2019 CRS Buyer's Guide, the latest in its series of hotel technology guides designed to help hoteliers to vet and buy the right software tools for operations, marketing, revenue management, and guest experience.The CRS Buyer's Guide features important information and resources for hoteliers on how to select the right central reservations system for their properties, including:Cutting-edge trends in the CRS space, including pricing and integrationsKey features and must-havesSmart buyer questions to ask vendorsIntegration considerationsPricing models and budget insightsImplementation process and timelineSuccess metrics and KPIsThe guide also features side-by-side comparisons of top-rated vendors and links to vendor reviews written by verified hotel employees. The guide also contains additional references and resources, including articles, use cases, and success stories."A hotel's central reservation system is one of the core platforms that a hotel needs for revenue management. The decision on which vendor to use should not be solely based on price, as it can affect your overall bottom line," says Joan Lee, VP of Operations at Travel Tripper. "The CRS Buyer's Guide is intended to provide helpful advice and tips that hotels can use to complete due diligence in selecting a CRS platform."Hoteliers can download the free guide on HotelTechReport.com or directly through Travel Tripper.
Article by Natasha Prats

How Artificial Intelligence Is Revolutionizing the Travel Industry

Travel Tripper 27 September 2018
Thanks to AI, reaching our destination is becoming easier too. This year, Google Flights started predicting delays and announcing them before the airlines.How far might things go? In the following article, we'll look at how travel brands are using the latest artificial intelligence to learn more about their customers, influence their decision-making, and drive more bookings.1. Trip planning and researchAccording to a survey by Booking.com, nearly one third of travelers would be comfortable letting a computer plan their next trip based on information from their travel history. Using AI, travel brands are now able to create tailored recommendations based around a host of unique preferences.Earlier this year, TUI Group and AI-powered trip-planning service Utrip teamed up to create a personalized trip planning service. This sophisticated online tool asks travelers to rate their preferences across categories, including "Nature & Adventure," "Food & Drink," "Shopping," and "Relaxation." Additional filters such as "Traveling With," "Trip Style," and "Trip Purpose" help to refine things further.Utrip's artificial intelligence algorithm then sifts through millions of potential combinations and serves up a personalized day-by-day itinerary for the entire trip.Along with a helpful itinerary map, travelers can add more activities to personalize their trip.Personality Hotels (a collection of boutique hotels in San Francisco and the Bay Area) also use Utrip to offer their own itinerary-planning service. The interface is different but the premise is the same.It's easy to see how families or business travelers with limited time might find this tool especially appealing. Not only does it eliminate the need for meticulous research, it seeks out appealing activities and experiences that might otherwise be overlooked.For travel brands, AI-powered trip planning offers the ultimate way to inspire customers and keep them engaged on their website for longer, increasing the success rate of converting visitors.2. Hotel bookingsBooking friction is a major issue for hotels. A recent report on European booking trendsfound that abandonment rates are soaring: only one in twenty would-be hotel bookers end up making a reservation.Hospitality virtual assistants such as Hijiffy can help with this. Guests can ask Hijiffy questions, find out about hotel services, receive city tips, check the latest rates, and book a room--all of which happens through a hotel's Facebook Messenger.If Hijiffy can't answer a question, it transfers the guest to a member of the hotel staff. Hijiffy can also learn from each interaction, so it knows how to respond next time without requiring human involvement.By automatizing queries in this way, hotels can provide instant customer support on a platform their customers are already familiar with. In turn, this can help increase conversion rates, and relieve the burden on hectic front desks.3. In-room assistantsChatbots and AI-powered voice assistants are also moving into hotel rooms around the world. Increasingly sophisticated, they're able to enhance the on-property experience by answering guest questions, carrying out requests, and offering real-time recommendations.Edwardian Hotels has its own virtual concierge known as "Edward," and the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas has "Rose," a chatbot with a quirky and flirty personality. In addition, Amazon and IBM have recently launched their own hospitality-specific assistants, both of which have the potential to revolutionize the guest experience.IBM's Watson Assistant for Hospitality may prove particularly attractive as the hotel retains the guest data (unlike with Amazon Alexa). IBM's product can also be white-labeled, so a hotel can use the technology to power their own uniquely named chatbot.In a 3-minute promotional video that feels like the stuff of science fiction, Watson demonstrates its ability to anticipate a guest's needs and make recommendations based on contextual information and past-stay data."I see your flight was late arriving, would you like me to order you room service?" Watson inquires after welcoming a guest by name. It then asks if the guest wants their "usual order," or some suggestions from the menu.Later, Watson checks the guest's calendar and arranges transport for a scheduled business meeting, sets the alarm for their usual morning gym session, and informs them about the hotel's breakfast start time.As well as personalizing the guest experience, voice assistants such as Watson present opportunities for upselling in two important ways: tailored recommendations can alert guests to hotel services they'll most likely want, and transactions become friction-free when they're completed with a simple voice request.4. Electronic braceletsA few years ago, Disney introduced the Disney MagicBand to allow wearers to skip lines at the parks, make purchases for food and souvenirs, and enjoy keyless entry to their Disney Resort hotel room.Using similar technology, Melia Hotels has introduced its own electronic bracelets that let guests easily pay for hotel services. This isn't the first time hotels have introduced wearables for payment, but Melia's wristband can also be used to make payments at nearby participating merchants, including the local Starbucks and Mango fashion store.The convenience of this cashless payment system is an obvious guest perk. But arguably, the greatest benefit to Melia Hotels is that their wearables let them track guest purchases, including spa treatments and restaurant choices. This allows them to build profiles on spending habits to inform future marketing and offers.In the future, it's likely that hotels will be able to use wearables to monitor a host of other spending habits and behaviors. If a guest picks the same wine with their evening meal, orders room service at a specific time, or pays extra for late checkout, a hotel could use this data to create tailored pre-stay packages, or send timely promotional messages during the hotel stay.5. Reputation ManagementThe utility of AI isn't just limited to driving conversions and personalizing experiences. The latest technology can also be used to power online listening tools that monitor social media comments and guest reviews--a task that would be hugely time-consuming if done manually.A range of free tracking tools can monitor guest reviews and notify a hotel when they're mentioned online. This means a property can quickly respond to negative feedback, observe general trends in guest sentiment, and identify areas where service levels can be improved.Premium paid-for tools such as Sprout Social and Reputation.com include detailed reports and analytics, and cast the net wider to monitor blogs, social media, videos, images, review sites, and more. This big data analysis lets a hotel really understand what its audience is thinking, which can also be invaluable to boost the effectiveness of social engagement and marketing.Where will AI take us next?Artificial intelligence now influences the entire travel ecosphere. Chatbots are assisting travel bookers as they shop for flights and accommodation. Trip-planning platforms are able to tailor itineraries in seconds. And in-room assistants are learning about guest behavior and personalizing their experience.While these examples all represent the sexier side of AI, the technology can also help hotels make operational improvements, such as analyzing booking trends to optimizing room rates, and freeing up staff to focus more on face-to-face services.In our AI-driven future, astute hoteliers will have a wealth of technology at their disposal. The key to success will be about using it wisely, and ensuring that it complements rather than replaces the personal side of hospitality.
Article by Nancy Huang

Are Travelers Falling out of Love With Airbnb?

Travel Tripper 27 August 2018
The promise came to fruition. Today, an innovative breed of startups are giving consumers more choice, control, and convenience than ever before -- nowhere more so, than in the travel industry.Yet there are signs that sharing economy accommodations are losing appeal. Since launching a decade ago, Airbnb has become the undisputed poster child of an alternative form of travel. Its rise to fortune has been nothing short of breathtaking, with a valuation of $31 billion in May 2017.However, the world's second largest startup (after Uber) is not having things all its own way. There are signs that the sharing economy bubble might have burst, and that Airbnb's growth is stuttering amid a shift in travel preferences.While far from a crisis, Airbnb's unrelenting success appears to be slowing, giving hotels a chance to win back some valuable ground.A series of unfortunate eventsAirbnb has suffered a series of setbacks in recent times, leading commentators to speculate on whether the company needs to go back to basics. Most recently, its New York bookings risk getting slashed by half as the New York City Council voted for the company to hand over the names and addresses of its hosts in the city in order to crack down on illegal short-term rentals.Things are more turbulent in Europe where the EU has issued Airbnb an ultimatum over a lack of price transparency. Separately, city officials across Europe are clamping down to keep Airbnb's rental prices in check and restrict short-term stays. In Japan, almost 80% of Airbnb's listings have been removed as a result of the country's new home share (or minpaku) law.In addition to the regulatory issues, Airbnb frequently seems to be in the headlines with stories of misbehaving guests and lawsuits. Just recently, Paris forced the home-sharing giant to take down tens of thousands of listings that didn't comply with local laws. Frustrated local residents in various cities have also been vocal about rising rental costs and mobs of tourists due to Airbnb's presence.With citywide crackdowns, regulation battles, and lots of PR plate spinning, this industry heavyweight has been left slightly bloodied and bruised. Arguably, it might be just a case of riding the waves. Yet beyond the headlines and disputes, there are signs of something a little more troubling.Growth seems to be slowingRelatively speaking, Airbnb continues to see impressive growth. But a new report by Morgan Stanley (as covered by Skift), reveals how overall adoption is slowing.In a survey of over 4,000 adults, the amount of travelers using the platform during the 12 months up to October 2017 rose by 25%, which is an increase of 330 basis points. By contrast, last year's survey saw an increase of 800 basis points.Morgan Stanley found that brand awareness of Airbnb has never been so high. Yet that hasn't translated into more beds being filled. So what might be going on?Morgan Stanley's analysts feel that the company might simply be too big, or that it's just become so mainstream that the same level of growth is too hard. Some cite the fact that more travelers are concerned over privacy and security. But is there something else at play?Reevaluating the hotel propositionThe story of decline might be less about Airbnb, per se, and more about a reevaluation of the benefits hotels offer. Historically, the hospitality industry has sold itself on a form of uniformity that guarantees reliability in both service and experience.Airbnb arrived on the scene as a fresh and exciting alternative to this format-- a rebuff to chain hotels and stuffy corporate values. The company's focus on localness and experience-based travel led it to great success, especially among younger generations seeking a deeper connection to the destinations they visited.Yet according to two recent surveys, overall interest seems to be waning. In MMGY Global's recent Portrait of American Travelers (POAT) survey, 33% of respondents said that they are interested in using shared economy accommodations this year, compared with 41% last year.There's also an indication that travelers are warming once more to the hotel proposition -- even Millennials, Airbnb's largest audience. In a report by Allianz Global Assistance, 33% of this demographic said they believed traditional services provide the best overall experience, which is up from 22% in 2017. A significant 38% of Millennials also said traditional services provide better customer support when things go wrong.In a written statement, Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz Global Assistance noted, "This is the first time we've seen intent to use sharing economy services decline, particularly among Millennials, which is surprising as they led its early adoption."So why the change in attitudes? It may well all be the consequence of a maturing demographic whose life circumstances are dictating new priorities. As many become parents or seek greater comforts, the traditional services and amenities that a hotel provides has undoubted benefits.Is the love affair really over?Slowdown in brand adoption is, of course, inevitable. Growth cannot be exponential, and the world's biggest companies all face tough times. Competitors up their games. Consumer preferences change. The love of a brand begins to wane. This is the nature of the marketplace.So what we might be seeing with Airbnb is an inevitable consequence of consumer behavior, magnified by its own impossibly fast success. Yet it's important to remember that the company is hardly floundering. The love affair might be on the rocks, but it certainly isn't over.Airbnb is enjoying substantial growth in competitive markets. According to its own data, a 90-day cap on its London listings hasn't stopped the company reaching close to 20,000 rentals a week in the UK capital; that's up from 1,000 listings as of just 2013.In addition, it's worth pointing out that Airbnb might be worth more than any other hotel company, rivaling that of the world's largest OTAs.As we discussed in a recent post, a raft of improvements including major product changes may also help it win new audiences and reignite interest among its loyal base of customers.Good news for hotels?On the whole, it might be argued that a decrease in growth and stay intent is good for hotels. But there are some who don't see Airbnb as a direct competitor. More than that, they feel it could be an ally.Recently, Airbnb began welcoming boutique hotels onto its platform -- (something that HomeAway has also started doing), charging commission fees between just 3-5%. This could prove a profitable alternative for hotels compared with distributing through OTAS, where commission fees range between 15-30%. If enough hotels make the move, this could force OTAs to bring down their commission fees to remain competitive.In the end, Airbnb may actually become a bigger rival to OTAs as it expands its platform towards becoming an end-to-end travel company.Where are things heading next?Airbnb has enjoyed incredible success since launching a decade ago. It has become synonymous with a more authentic, local style of travel, while promoting the idea of new experiences over reliable comforts. Loyal customers have bought into its ethos and the rest is history.But a new chapter may be about to be written -- one where the untouchable industry giant sees expansion slow as travelers revert back to traditional hospitality offerings.Airbnb most certainly has the resources to pivot, but hotels will always be able to offer their own unique mix of appealing qualities, including luxury on-site amenities, and around-the-clock service. Given the changing sentiments among travelers, now's the time for hotels to capitalize on their value proposition.
Article by Steffan Berelowitz

Consumers want Amazon to be a travel booking site - what can hotels learn?

Travel Tripper 27 August 2018
Amazon dominates the world of e-commerce. Could it do the same in online travel bookings? Consumers would happily use the platform to book their travel plans if given the chance, according to a recent survey by flight travel intelligence company OAG.OAG surveyed 2,164 U.S. travelers to find out which platforms and methods they would be comfortable booking travel through. Amazon was the clear winner, with 44% of respondents saying they would consider using the e-commerce giant to book travel if it offered the service.This result is particularly impressive considering that the second most favored option was Facebook, which only received 14% of the vote. Pinterest (2%), Twitter (3%), and Instagram (4%) all lagged way behind, gaining minimal interest.Why was Amazon considered so much more appealing as a travel booking platform? In the following post, we'll address that point while analyzing some of the specific lessons hotels can learn from Amazon's way of doing business.The mass appeal of AmazonWhile social platforms are heavily used for trip planning and inspiration, the OAG survey indicates that travelers are far less keen to use them as booking platforms. Arguably, concerns over data security are an issue. In light of Facebook's data-harvesting scandal, it's fair to assume that consumers would have concerns about handing over their credit card details.In contrast, millions of consumers see Amazon as a place to buy with confidence. In fact, a new survey by NPR/Marist found a huge 67% of US online shoppers had "quite a lot" or "a great deal" of trust in Amazon to protect their privacy and personal information. This figure was significantly higher compared with the level of trust towards online retailers in general.Alongside its rock-steady credibility, Amazon makes shopping easy and gives customers unrivaled levels of choice and convenience. These qualities readily translate to the travel booking sphere, so perhaps it's no coincidence that Amazon was seen as an appealing alternate provider in this space.All of this leads to an important question: what specific strategies underpin Amazon's success, and what can hotels learn from its customer service and core e-commerce principles?1. Personalized shoppingAmazon has mastered the ability to anticipate customer needs and personalize the shopping experience. The company's recommendation system now runs on a totally new machine-learning infrastructure that allows it to learn the unique preferences of each customer with even greater precision.Based on customer data such as previous browsing history and spending habits, Amazon integrates tailored content into virtually every aspect of its purchase process. Recommendations are neatly bundled into lists, including "Inspired by your browsing history", "Related to items you viewed", and "Frequently bought together".These bundled suggestions encourage additional purchases, serving as an easy-to-digest shopping list among Amazon's vast product range. This helps to simplify and speed up the shopping process, ultimately leading to more conversions.Takeaway for hotels:Most hotels feature the same content on their website to all of their visitors. This means that every potential guest gets an identical experience, regardless of their unique needs and preferences. Yet without the need for huge investment, hotels can personalize their own websites to offer a tailored user experience.Website personalization technology allows hotels to intelligently customize their website messaging based on criteria such as a user's previous online interactions, buying intent, and stage in the booking journey. With context-aware integrations, visitors are more likely to convert because the online experience is no longer rigid but designed around them.Just like Amazon, hotels can also smooth the path to purchase by minimizing choice to make the decision-making process easier. For instance, rather than showing all available rooms, rates and added extras in one page, these options can be staggered across separate pages on the hotel website to prevent customers feeling overwhelmed.2. Buying made simpleAmazon make shopping fast and frictionless. Consumers can easily find the products they love, and buy them with minimal fuss. This is underpinned by the company's friction-killing tactics that are designed to reduce cognitive overload and increase conversion rates.These tactics include removing avoidable steps between browsing and buying, pre-selecting options to help consumers with choices, and allowing customers to carry on where they left off during a previous session.Amazon's 1-click purchase system also helps to reduce the odds of shopping cart abandonment by allowing customers to buy with just one click. This instant purchasing removes the hassle of entering billing details, thus eliminating another potential barrier in the buying process.Takeaway for hotels:Hotels need to make the checkout process fast and simple. Think about things from the perspective of your guest: if they're used to 1-click purchasing from companies such as Amazon, they'll likely balk at having to fill out long-winded booking forms. Keep the amount of information you ask for to a minimum.In addition, try to reduce the amount of pages and clicks needed to go from browsing to booking. Unnecessary extra steps represent an invitation to abandon a purchase. It's also worth setting the most popular room/rate options as the default to simplify the booking process.3. Exceptional customer serviceAmazon prides itself on offering exceptional customer service. In fact, it's embedded in the company culture--not just as a method to solve problems, but to anticipate customer needs and evolve its range of services.In a 2016 letter to Amazon shareholders, the company's founder and CEO Jeff Bezos talked about having a "customer-obsessed culture" and that happy customers are "always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied".This desire to constantly improve the customer experience is integral to the way Amazon innovates, leading to new services such as Amazon Prime, their unlimited One-Day Delivery option, Amazon Fresh, and the Dash ordering button--all of which ensure that customers get the products they want with convenience and speed.Amazon's customer service team also has a track record of going beyond the call of duty to surprise and delight. In an interview last year, Amazon's former long-time executive Jeff Holden explained how one Christmas, a customer traveling to Russia contacted Amazon's customer service team "worried sick" her presents weren't going to arrive there on time.As Holden recalls, "We spent probably $500 or $600 to overnight her $1,000 worth of gifts, and she was so completely blown away that she couldn't stop saying,'Oh my god, you saved my Christmas!'"Takeaway for hotels:Great customer service doesn't require endless financial resources. One of the most important things hotels can focus on is having better communication with guests. Contact guests with pre-arrival emails or questionnaires to find out the reason for their stay, and discover if they have any specific requirements.Simple things such as remembering a guest by name, periodically checking they're happy during their stay, and responding to complaints with an effective service recovery policy can all help your hotel maintain brand credibility, build rapport and earn their repeat business.4. Social proof is crucialSocial proof is baked into the Amazon shopping experience. Every product is accompanied by prominent customer reviews and star ratings so consumers are given the confidence to buy without needing to validate their decision elsewhere online.Amazon also uses the highly effective "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" call to action to incentivize additional purchases. This messaging is based on something called market basket analysis (MBA), which analyzes relationships between the combinations of products people buy in a transaction.This serves to prompt additional purchases based on the actions of like-minded others--yet another great conversion-driving tactic.Takeaway for hotels:Amazon's relentless focus on social proof is one that all hotels can adopt. And there are no end of ways to use social proof on your hotel website.Feature guest reviews throughout your website to add booking confidence. Include testimonials, review site widgets, and star ratings to add additional validation from past guests. If your hotel is working with influencers, you could also feature their content on your hotel website to raise your profile as visitors move closer to a booking decision.5. Endless testingTest, test, and test again. Amazon carries out thousands of usability experiments on its website each year through its "Weblab" experimentation system. Even though it has an incredibly refined user experience, the company understands that standing still is not an option.This dedication has led Amazon to make some invaluable changes. For instance, it increased its annual profits by tens of millions of dollars after moving credit card offers from its home page to its shopping cart page. The Amazon mindset is that there is always room to refine and improve, and it's this granular approach that helps it stay ahead in a hyper-competitive online shopping space.Takeaway for hotels:While you might not have the resources to test every element of your hotel's website, you can make major improvements by focusing on the elements likely to drive the most conversions.Start by checking out your Google Analytics reports (particularly the User Flow analysis) to see which pages have the highest bounce rates. Next, run A/B tests on different variations of a given page to see which changes lead to improvements. This might involve simplifying the design by adding a progress bar, testing different images, or adding a more prominent call-to-action button.The point is to keep making incremental changes until you've found the conversion sweet spot.Amazon as a travel player?Amazon has been here before. Back in 2015, it launched, and then swiftly shut down, its travel booking site, Amazon Destinations! It also decided to stop selling hotel rooms through the now defunct Amazon Local. While there are no obvious signs it wants to reignite its interest in travel bookings, it would be foolish to imagine it might not try again.Amazon's popularity in the OAG survey is perhaps most useful as a guide to other travel brands -- a hint at the kind of experience consumers want when they book trips and accommodation. By working with the right technology partner, your hotel can use the latest techniques and tools to create a website based on some of Amazon's key principles, helping you to inspire your guests, anticipate their needs, and provide a great online experience that makes it easy for them to browse and buy.
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Travel Tripper launches Real-Time Ads for hotels, an industry-first marketing solution

Travel Tripper 7 August 2018
NEW YORK -- Travel Tripper, the industry's most innovative provider of hotel reservation and e-commerce solutions, today announced the official launch of Real-Time Ads for the hospitality industry. This award-winning digital marketing solution helps hotels to boost conversion rates and increase return on ad spend (ROAS) by dynamically updating hotel's Google search ads with real-time booking engine data, such as rates, availability, and number of recent bookings.Travel Tripper's Real-Time Ads solves a problem that plagues many hotels: spending a significant amount of the digital marketing budget to drive traffic to the hotel website, but not seeing strong conversions to bookings. In many cases, travelers from hotel search ads will click over to the website to check rates or availability, but then abandon the booking if the price is too high or a specific room or deal is no longer available. In essence, hotels pay for ad clicks for a large percentage of people who were never going to book in the first place.With Real-Time Ads, hotels can now populate their Google search ads with dynamic variables from the CRS and booking engine, such as the nightly room rate, number of rooms available, and occupancy rate. As a result, hotels can dynamically populate search ads in real time with info that helps to pre-qualify website visitors and identify those most likely to book, ultimately increasing conversion rates and driving down customer acquisition costs."Real-Time Ads represent a major departure from traditional search ads and a huge step forward in hotel digital marketing," says Ben Hanley, Director of Digital Marketing at Travel Tripper. "The majority of hotel websites can only display rates and availability in the booking engine, or at best, somewhere on the hotel website. In contrast, Real-Time Ads allows hotels to advertise their up-to-date rates within the search engine, which helps them to better connect with potential guests earlier in the booking funnel."Since its initial beta launch, Travel Tripper's Real-Time Ads have delivered outstanding results for notable properties such as ROW NYC and The Quin in New York City. In a recently published case study by Google, ROW NYC reported a 68% increase in conversion rate and 28:1 return on ad spend when comparing real-time ads to static ads.Travel Tripper's real-time ads campaign with ROW NYC has also earned multiple digital marketing awards and nominations, including the Adrian Awards, W3 Awards, and Search Engine Land Awards.All hotels working with Travel Tripper will now be able to integrate Real-Time Ads into their search marketing campaigns. Complete with RezTrip CRS and TT Web hotel websites, Real-Time Ads will transform the way hotels drive direct bookings. For more information or to request a demo, visit traveltripper.com.
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Travel Tripper honored as one of the 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech

Travel Tripper 7 February 2018
NEW YORK -- Hotel Tech Report, the #1 source for online ratings and reviews on hotel technology, has named Travel Tripper as one of the 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech 2018 for fostering a sense of empowerment for its employees and offering great growth opportunities for their careers.The top 10 companies were selected based on a survey sent to thousands of hotel technology employees worldwide that evaluated company culture on various factors including satisfaction with management, work-life balance, career growth opportunities, and gender equality.Hotel Tech Report also praised Travel Tripper for its team collaboration across marketing, sales, tech, and product in putting out "killer content and thought leadership" that showcases the breadth and depth of employee expertise, a huge benefit and key selling point for Travel Tripper's global clientele."We are honored to be recognized in the first-ever survey of this kind for hotel technology companies," said Gautam Lulla, President of Travel Tripper. "That the honors were based solely on the feedback of actual employees is a testament to the strength of our team culture."Travel Tripper is a fast-growing hotel technology provider with 150+ employees across offices in New York, London, and Hyderabad, India. Working at Travel Tripper is an opportunity to join an exciting team of highly skilled and ambitious individuals who are passionate about developing innovative products and delivering excellent service to our hotel clients. The company offers competitive pay, flexible working hours, generous vacation days, and full benefits and is currently recruiting for positions in engineering, digital marketing, sales, and more. To see current open positions, visit Travel Tripper on LinkedIn.About Travel Tripper Travel Tripper is a full-service hospitality technology provider and strategic partner in helping hotels worldwide to generate demand, optimize conversions, and maximize revenue. Known in the industry for its constant innovation and exceptional expertise, Travel Tripper provides a comprehensive suite of solutions that empowers hotels from search to stay, including central reservation systems, hotel distribution, website and booking, and digital marketing. Learn more at www.traveltripper.com.About Hotel Tech Report HotelTechReport (www.hoteltechreport.com) is the premiere research platform for hotel technology globally. We help buyers save time identifying the best technology products to run their hotel properties by easily comparing vendors based on unbiased reviews from verified users. HotelTechReport's global community consists of hoteliers spanning 40+ countries with representation from every major hotel brand and thousands of independent hotels. The platform connects these hoteliers with hundreds of the world's top hotel technology suppliers with billions of dollars in market capitalization.
Article by Nancy Huang

What Google's Pivot to an "AI first" Company Means for Travel

Travel Tripper 16 May 2017
Google is already shaping a world where artificial intelligence is rapidly expanding beyond our desktops and smartphones into our workplaces, homes, cars and public transport systems.The evolution of AI is also changing how we interact online. In the years ahead, voice-based interactions and natural language inquiries will take over as the dominant interface. And as more and more people "talk" to the internet, intelligent algorithms will redefine how they find information and make choices.All of these changes will have a profound impact on every business and the way they communicate with consumers, and the travel industry will be no exception.Google's expanding travel plansFollowing a flurry of releases in recent years, Google's ever-expanding travel portfolio now includes Google Flights, Google Hotel Ads, Book on Google, Google Destinations, and the recently launched Google Trips.This has fueled debate about the company's potential ambitions to become a full-blown online travel agency. But the amount they receive in ad revenue from the major OTAs means this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.Instead, Google sees itself as an "answer engine" and "connector" that helps consumers find the best possible matches when they're planning a trip. And this is where its announcement as an AI-first company will really impact travel brands and hotels.AI in actionThe deceptive thing about artificial intelligence is that it largely remains invisible, operating beneath the surface of our attention. Yet it's driving pretty much every interaction you have with Google.For instance, Google Flights uses AI to deliver a range of impressive features that help with planning and decision-making. If you plan a journey in Google Maps, it can alert you to a traffic jam that might cause heavy delays and suggest real-time flight options for a speedier way to reach your destination.Google has also integrated AI directly into travel search, and one of the most impressive aspects of this integration is that it remembers the context of a query.If you have the Google app, you can make a request like, "Look up flights to London." Then if you ask, "What hotels are there?" it will show you London hotels--you don't have to say or type London because it already understands the context of the conversation.You can then continue to refine requests such as asking, "Show me only the five star ones." Again, it will know that you mentioned "London" and "hotels" in your previous two questions and automatically filter five-star London hotels.This growing development in context-aware search means that Google can predict needs and offer intelligent suggestions based on likely intent.But alongside a handy predictive search function, AI is also changing the nature of how people search and ultimately book their travel plans.Voice search and the move away from desktopVoice search already accounts for 20% of all search queries, and that number will only grow as Google rolls out its new wave of voice-based platforms. This in turn will free up users from the desktop, leading to more spontaneous sessions that happen alongside other tasks and activities.For instance, while cooking dinner, a person might ask their Google Home to research destinations for an upcoming trip. At a later point in their research, they could "ask" their smartphone to recommend hotels while they drive home from work.Staring at a screen of text will be replaced by a spoken list of curated selections, reshaping the way information is presented and consumed.As searching and booking inevitably becomes even more mobile-centric, last-minute bookings will almost certainly increase. A business traveler could ask Google to search for a hotel while packing for a flight. A few simple requests could refine the results for options with free Wi-Fi or a location near the city center, all without touching a screen.While Google doesn't offer a direct booking function, it does offer the option to call the hotel, so searching and booking could still be easily conducted in one hands-free session.For hotels, this all means that offering a great mobile user experience will become more important than ever as voice search and AI combine to make on-the-move search and booking far easier.Adjusting for voice-based searchThe nature of voice search will also change the type of phrases people use to request information when looking for accommodation.When tapping on a device, search requests are typically simplified to phrases like "boutique hotels in Barcelona." But the language we use when we talk is far more complex and specific. So a voice search might involve a more detailed request such as, "Find me the best boutique hotels in Barcelona for this summer."These conversational terms will mean hotels need to adjust PPC ads, landing pages and web pages so that they're optimized for natural language. As spoken long-tailed queries become more common, consumers will be looking for more specific information to specific requests. A generic offer or ad simply won't have the same impact.There are a variety of other ways you can optimize for voice search, such as publishing blog posts or creating Q&A pages that feature the kind of terminology people use when they're talking.How Google Trips is changing travel planningLast year, we discussed the launch of Destinations on Google and its impact on hotels. Since then, Google has released Trips--arguably its most impressive travel app yet.The app serves as a trip planner and travel guide for 200 cities, offering users a wealth of local information including activities, sights, tours, restaurants and transport options. In addition, reservations, flights and hotel bookings can all be pulled from Gmail and Inbox to be accessed in one place, and Trips also has a handy offline mode.As for the potential opportunities for hotel marketers? While there aren't any paid ad opportunities, there are still plenty of ways to boost overall visibility, including making sure that your Google Business Listing is up to date and that you have employed all possible local SEO strategies.Because the app relies on user reviews, nurturing positive guest feedback will be crucial. It'll also be important to focus on traditional strategies around building a strong mobile presence. A mobile-friendly site, being registered in local listings and a diversified marketing strategy are all ways to place yourself on Google Trips radar.Preparing for the future of AIThe far-flung future that artificial intelligence once seemed to inhabit is here. Driven by Google, it's already changing how we travel.Today, you can "ask" your smartphone to find you a hotel and rely on an algorithm to plan your entire vacation. As the company's AI platforms get better at understanding preferences and infiltrate everyday life, it'll become even more influential in guiding consumer choices and the brands they connect with.It's not easy to grasp the full extent of the change that lies ahead, but there are steps every hotel can take now to ensure their online presence is optimized for Google's new AI-first mindset.
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Travel Tripper publishes new Google eye-tracking study specific to hotel industry

Travel Tripper 22 March 2017
(NEW YORK) -- Travel Tripper released on Monday the results of a groundbreaking eye-tracking study on Google search results pages for the hotel industry. Testing specifically for brand name hotel searches on Google, the study data showed an increased user focus on Google ad products, as well as a decrease in visibility of organic search results.Other significant findings in the study:Changes in the way hotel name searches are displayed in Google have significantly influenced what users see and click onThe majority of users clicked on Google Ad products over organic resultsA significant percentage of users do not realize that Google search ads or metasearch links are paid advertisingThe overwhelming majority of clicks go to the first or second listing on the pageTravel Tripper's in-house digital marketing agency worked with the new biometric platform Sticky (sticky.ai) to conduct the eye-tracking study and survey."The results illustrate the importance of paid search on Google," said Tristan Heaword, Director of Digital Marketing at Travel Tripper. "With the majority of views and clicks going to Google ad products, hotel marketers not seriously investing in paid search are likely losing valuable traffic and bookings to OTAs who are bidding on the hotel's own name."To view the results of the eye-tracking study, visit Travel Tripper's website. Additional findings will be discussed in a March 22 digital marketing webinar featuring Heaword, as well as panelists from Google, Voyat, and Highgate Hotels.

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