Thursday, 18 January 2018

EyeforTravel have an attendee list for the data travel elite that they think you need to see!

EyeforTravel have just released their attendee list for the Smart Travel Data Summit 2018 (Miami Feb 27-28). Don’t miss your chance to join this one of its kind data networking and business focused event for the travel industry.

In a recent Forbes study titled, Data Driven and Digitally Savvy: The Rise of the New Marketing Organization, there were some key findings: The travel industry is a clear leader in achieving competitive advantage through data-driven marketing. Sixty-seven percent of travel executives say they have done so in customer engagement/loyalty, 56% in new customers and 59% in customer satisfaction.

With more travelers turning to the internet and mobile to get ideas, inspiration, and options for their trips. There’s more data on each customer from their searches, saved preferences and previous travels. This event covers data analytics, revenue management, marketing analytics and artificial intelligence and personlizartion. Data is where it’s all at – see how you can leverage data to get up close and personal with your customer.

EyeforTravel are excited about this shift towards smart data and have positioned their EyeForTravel Smart Travel Data Summit Miami (Feb 27-28) to focus on just that, and are even offering a sneak peak of their attendee list early.

The event will have 120+ travel data decision makers to help brands identify the data, technology, partners and strategies that you need to grow revenues in the mobile-first world!

To shed light on who will be at the event, Tim Gunstone the Managing Director for EyeforTravel said "We’re excited to be welcoming back executives from Southwest Airlines, Wyndham, AirBnb, Booking.com, Hilton Hotels, the Travel Corporation, Allegiant, Priceline, Winding Tree and a lot more”

He went onto to say, “We don’t usually release our delegate list this early but we want to shout about this event, we have over 80 people in, and thought we should share it, to give others the chance to book in early and manage their meetings too!”

Need a bit more convincing?
  • Look who you could meet and learn from: Airbnb, Amazon, Air Canada, Hilton, Delta Airlines, Mozio, HQ Revenue, Southwest Airlines, Priceline, McKinsey, Amperity, Lufthansa and more
  • Test your data strategy with insights from across the travel market to discuss everything from personalization, artificial intelligence, revenue analytics, blockchain, GDPR, data talent acquisition, data integration, marketing analytics to enhance the customer experience and so much more!
  • Get your data and commercial teams talking to see your analytics insights take off. Reach those new levels of personalization and discuss the best attribution models on market today!

Learn more about who is attending the Smart Travel Data 2018 in event in sunny Miami here: http://events.eyefortravel.com/smart-travel-data-summit-north-america/

If you are a hotel – cruise or airline – contact the team for discounts

Contact the team directly at – shreya@eyefortravel.com

The hotel that talks back is the future

Hotels are only just beginning to deploy chatbots and smart speakers but these early experiments herald the beginning of a major shift in guest communications finds The Future of the In-Stay Experience report, which is free to download now.

The hotel of the future might become an interlinked artificial intelligence that can speak back to the guest through speakers and chatbots to suggest activities to the guest, answer their queries and solve their complaints says the report. Using AI-powered voice and chat capabilities to do these tasks provides more convenient channels for guest interactions that can not only improve satisfaction with their stay but also drive revenues.

Both chatbots and voice systems working through smart speakers can be integrated into a whole system, recording all requests and integrated into a Property Management System (PMS). Largely these early investigations into interactive AI are as smart concierges for hotels, with both big and independent chains deploying the tech.

“We created a conversation concierge so that people can get all of their informational experience through channels they are more used to operating. It delivers specific responses very quickly. It positions the hotel as a trusted advisor,” says Charles Cadbury, Co-Founder of Dazzle Technology, a start-up that implements and operates smart speakers for the hospitality industry.

“Hotels are able to listen to what the guests want and get real time data of who is asking for what and when. Then they can make real time adjustments to their product or services to cater to those requests.”

The other benefit of offering these services out to guests through voice or chat interfaces is that hotels staff are alleviated of a lot of mundane tasks and can really focus on delivering a high quality of service to guests.  

Jeffrey Parker, Vice President of Hospitality Systems, Red Lion Hotels Corporation, says that, according to experts, between 50-75% of guest questions can be responded to by a Bot. “This can relieve questions to the desk staff and other departments. The appropriate way to do it is to also link to your service app infrastructure and have a warm hand-off to a real person.”

“Conversation allows you to ask very specific answers in a type of communication you are most comfortable with,” says Cadbury. “And because it’s not a live conversation, you’re not tying up staff on the phone.”

However, Parker has a warning: “Don’t ever let your app pretend to be a real person. Be transparent with your guests.” (For more on chatbots click here for our free report).

The human element is also still highly relevant in creating the background that can make these interactive AIs possible. Humans are necessary to create a culture of recording and measuring guest interactions and building up the background data. IHG used their customer service call centres to help build up their Alexa offering, for example.

“The best way to build a picture of the guest is to leverage the hotel’s greatest assets, their people, to capture every seemingly relevant detail humans need to build personal relationships,” says Armand Rabinowitz, Senior Director of Strategy and Workgroups at Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG).

Similar to putting a data strategy in place, hotels need to think about the individual guest when implementing voice and chat functions. Hotels can’t just charge in and introduce voice to every room and client, privacy issues are at play too. “We need to take clues from the guest and offer services based on what profile we think they are, but not to the extent we ruin that relationship,” says Parker. Hotels need to offer guests the choice and respect their decision if they ask for connected devices to be removed. Chains such as Marriott and IHG are working closely with Amazon to develop solutions that provide the guests with a seamless experience while also protecting their privacy. Data collection and privacy issues will only be highlighted as the EU’s GDPR regulation comes into force warns the report.



We have also covered voice technology and its implications for travel in a dedicated new report on the topic, which is free to download now here, as well as chatbots, which can be downloaded here

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Could hotels’ secret weapon be in-stay technology?

As hotels fight for guests’ loyalty, could the technology they use during the guests’ stay be the superweapon to turn the tide in their favour?

Hotels are fighting hard for customers and currently a lot of that effort goes into getting their marketing in front of guests’ eyeballs and winning the booking. However, the one period hotels have the guest completely to themselves is during the stay itself. Here, technology, both at the customers fingertips and behind the scenes, is now capable of making a real difference and winning over the customer’s loyalty says EyeforTravel’s new free report, The Future of In-Stay Technology.

Principally this technology is about putting the hotels services’ at the guest’s fingertips. These range from apps that can allow the guest to immediately receive answers to their questions any time of the day or night and book any on-site or arrange of external experiences. Tablets that can control an entire room’s features, such as lights, temperature, curtains, the TV and more. Smartphones that come with the room so that the guest can be connected to services whenever they need. These technologies are putting the hotel’s capabilities back in front of the guest whilst making their stay a more convenient and comfortable experience.

Furthermore, these technologies not only help hotels serve guests better and improve their ratings, they present enormous upsell opportunities that can help restore those all-important margins. If a hotel has managed to get a device with its app into the hands of a consumer, then they can use this to send them push notifications about key services. Chatbots and smart speakers can take user requests and once a hotel has gathered enough data, use this to make recommendations based on similar requests and customer profiles. Smarter in-room devices can put the hotel back into position as the local expert again and allow them to monetise local experiences, tours and activities.

Critically these technologies are also all gathering data around every guest interaction and many are capable of categorising and using this data in an automated manner. “Whilst I often hear complaints in the hospitality industry that the big online players have a data advantage that they can’t compete with – and to some extent that is true – this is finally a chance for hotels to turn the tables,” says Alex Hadwick, Head of Research for EyeforTravel. “Detailed guest preferences are a valuable thing and not only are you elevating the customer experience, your reinforcing that your hotel is delivering the service, not the intermediary. Smart tech in the hotel is a better way of gathering, storing and utilising key information that an OTA doesn’t have.”

Data gathered can not only be used as mentioned above for providing guests with services but also behind the scenes to improve staff performance. Connected technologies provide alerts on guest requests, enabling service to be immediate. They also provide transparency between the guest and property, and with back of house operations. Departments know what is being worked on, when and when it is complete and from a single source, heling to eliminate confusion. From a property-wide perspective, Internet of Things (IoT) devices can help with scheduling the regular maintenance of and other engineering works through notification of flaws, or simply let the hotel know when the guest is outside of their room through door entry monitoring, making service seamless and more efficient.

According to Pablo Rodr√≠guez, Marketing Manager at Stay, smarter communications between guest and hotel, such as through a chatbot, “Eliminates mundane tasks, allowing the staff members to focus on valuable actions that cannot be automated.”

“These days everyone is so familiar with messaging as a means to communicate. Hotels are finding it easier to deal with five customers directly in their rooms via chat channels, instead of having five customers standing behind a reception counter,” explains Hammad Hussain, Managing Director of UK and Ireland, Tink Labs.

All of these innovations are adding up to a smarter, more responsive hotel that can take the fight back to the online environment and re-establish the relationship between guest and their stay.


Thursday, 11 January 2018

Does loyalty matter any more in travel?

Loyalty is a hot topic in travel but are travel brands trying to win a losing battle as consumers shift from brand to brand and is their anything they can do to promote loyalty?

It’s expensive business to find a customer and win their booking in travel as multi-channel marketing and technology costs rise. Therefore, travel brands are taking loyalty extremely seriously as a key way of improving profitability, but are they succeeding and at what cost?

EyeforTravel is trying to find out with a new survey and we need your help to get to the bottom of the state of loyalty in travel in 2018.

So, if you are consumer-facing travel brand, click here to answer the survey, which is just 8 short questions, so it will take less than two minutes to answer.

As a way of saying thanks, we will send you the results before anyone else, so you can benchmark your performance. We will also send you free copies of the reports on completion, and you can get access to all of the video presentations and slides from our recent Vegas and Amsterdam Summits just by leaving your email at the end of the survey.


We are also investigating mobile marketing and messaging, which you can help us with by clicking here to answer our mobile survey.

Monday, 8 January 2018

What mobile strategies are succeeding?

As travellers’ eyeballs are increasingly captured by smartphones, what should travel brands do to get in front of them and where should they be putting their dollars?

Apps, mobile advertising, messaging, location tracking, mobile sites, QR codes – the proliferation of mobile technology can seem bewildering. So, in order to find out what strategies are succeeding and how brands should be reaching travellers we are conducting a major mobile survey.

Click here to answer the survey, which is just 12 questions long, so it will take less than two minutes to answer.

Topics we want to answer include app adoption, mobile messaging services, lead times, mobile marketing method, investment areas, and more.

As a way of saying thanks for answering, we will send you the results before anyone else, so you can benchmark your performance. We will also send you free copies of the reports on completion, and you can get access to all of the video presentations and slides from our recent Vegas and Amsterdam Summits just by leaving your email at the end of the survey.

We are also investigating the topic of loyalty, which you can help us with by clicking here for our state of loyalty in travel survey.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Priceline’s Meituan investment is a big deal

Priceline has long been one of the smartest players when it comes to mergers and acquisitions and it looks to have made another key move with its recent investment into Meituan-Dianping finds EyeforTravel’s new report into the company.

Priceline just strengthened its Chinese market position by investing into Meituan-Dianping, one of the fastest growing players in the Chinese digital space, showing its ambition in international expansion and giving it a new edge says the report into the online giant. In October 2017 Meituan-Dianping announced the investment as part of Series C funding into the start-up, which brings together group buying, booking and reviews.

It is a rapidly rising power in Chinese online travel thought to be behind only Ctrip and Qunar. Reportedly, Meituan-Dianping recorded more than 18 million room night bookings in July 2017 alone and claims to have meteoric growth rates that are quickly making it one of the world’s top start-ups by reported valuation. In the latest round of investment the company was able to raise USD4 billion, giving it an estimated value of around USD30 billion – a valuation that would put it among the biggest of the emerging tech companies and perhaps even bigger than Airbnb.

Although Priceline  has a comparatively small stake in the company, with its investment reportedly valued at USD450 million, it also announced that it was to create a distribution partnership between the company’s travel division and Priceline’s main Asian arm, Agoda. This is potentially more crucial than the investment itself and likely what Priceline was mainly looking to get at in the funding round.

“Now, Priceline has a fantastic presence in Asia-Pacific through Agoda, its partnership with Ctrip, and now this additional investment,” says Alex Hadwick, Head of Research at EyeforTravel. “It is therefore sitting on a well-fortified position within the market space and is also hoping to grow its Booking.com presence in the country with a local team. What’s more it has been able to achieve this without having to put in the huge sums other international tech giants have made into market. Famously Uber invested billions before conceding to local competition, so Priceline are able to minimise risk through their network of investments while growing market penetration.”

With a predicted Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of more than 8% between 2017 and 2020 and even a faster growing domestic market, the attraction is obvious for Priceline and getting involved with local players at this stage could be crucial as EyeforTravel’s research suggests that more than seven out of ten digital travel bookings in China are made with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs).

To preview and buy EyeforTravel’s Expedia report, click here, or here for the Priceline report. These are part of the Future of the Online Giants series, which will cover Expedia, Priceline, TripAdvisor, Ctrip and Google. Keep a look out through EyeforTravel On Demand for the rest of these reports.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Can Expedia transition to the travel industry’s tech partner?

A transition appears to be underway as Expedia increases the number of technology solutions it offers and builds partnerships out across the industry but will this strategy succeed asks EyeforTravel’s new report into the online giant?

A subtle change appears to have happened in the online travel environment. Emboldened by changes to regulatory frameworks, new technologies and growing revenues, travel suppliers are fighting to claw back market share. In response, Expedia appears to be pushing a new strategy to ensure future growth by growing its partnerships and services to support the industry according to a new report into the company.

Expedia sees opportunities in facilitating services in the travel industry and mobilizing its technical expertise to enhance its position at the center of travel distribution through partnerships and offering a full spectrum of travel products that are personalized for consumers, whether they are buying a hotel room, rail ticket or a whole package.

Most notably this can be seen in the roll out of new products and options for partners across 2016 and 2017. They have worked to give access to inventory and have invested in white-label technology, including for hotel loyalty, and also on advertising products. These have included:
·       Private Label Packages: Expedia worked with Marriott to create Marriott Vacations where the hotel chain uses a dynamic packaging platform powered by Expedia so their customers can book flights with accommodation, and earn Marriott Rewards when they book. Expedia has since built this out into a white-label option and has signed on Barcel√≥ and Omni Hotels & Resorts to the dynamic packaging system.
·       Partner Loyalty Enrollment: Red Lion Hotels initially kicked off this development as the first to have its own loyalty scheme actively promoted by Expedia in search results. Expedia claimed that there were three hotel chains signed up in August 2017 to the product, which allows users to enlist bookers directly to their loyalty programs from Expedia sites and in December 2017 announced that G6 Hospitality had signed up to the scheme. 
·       MICE Booking Technology: Expedia began testing their new MICE platform in mid-2017 and are hoping for a major roll-out in the near future. The system is a front-end booking tool and a back-end management and analytics platform.
·       Rev+: This is a B2B service for revenue managers of hotels, free to those already part of its distribution network, that runs of Expedia data and appears to be an attempt to provide a rival to BookingSuite. 
·       TravelAds Direct: Seemingly a reaction to book direct efforts, especially as Expedia’s official release stated that it offers “easier price comparison for consumers, and more potential brand touch points, bookings, and loyalty for hotels,” TravelAds Direct is CPC advertising that refers to hotel brand sites.
·       Accelerator: Finalized in Q4 2015, this product allows hotels to bid against each other, transforming the search results into a marketplace where hotels pay commissions for the top listings, increasing their chance to be booked by a traveler. This could be part of their strategy to compensate for lowering ADRs, as well as gain a share of online advertising revenues and sweat the assets of their platforms.    

The number of products and interest in pushing these out to major partners suggests a larger strategic focus on the area and a divergence from the approach of its biggest competitor, Priceline. Expedia has long thought of itself as a full-service travel agency, providing products that cover the entire travel spectrum. However, this advantage has narrowed as a growing universe of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and cloud platforms allows smaller players to access far more inventory than they previously would be able to. Whereas setting up agreements to sell car rentals, flights, or tour activities would have been technically and legally arduous to set up for a smaller travel company, they can now work through third parties and a single agreement can open up a global supply network.

“Embedding in a network of partnerships across the industry and supplying partners will help to insulate Expedia from disruption across the market and supplement their traditional OTA business,” says Alex Hadwick, Head of Research at EyeforTravel. “How successful they will be in this endeavour remains to be seen, as suppliers may prefer to take the fight to OTAs and keep them at an arm’s length in the battle for customer bookings and loyalty. However, a number of big names, including Marriott, Thomas Cook and Norwegian have signed on to various partnerships in the last 12 months, which will offer encouragement.”

To preview and buy EyeforTravel’s Expedia report, click here, or here for the Priceline report. These are part of the Future of the Online Giants series, which will cover Expedia, Priceline, TripAdvisor, Ctrip and Google. Keep a look out through EyeforTravel On Demand for the rest of these reports.