It seems the jury is still out on exactly what Amazon is doing and its overall intentions, but there’s no doubt the retail giant has taken a bigger step into selling hotel rooms. It recently expanded its Amazon Local offerings, according to Tnooz, and launched a new hotel product and brand, Amazon Destinations, according to Skift.
Right now, Amazon offers road-trip getaway deals for drive-to resort markets. What’s next? We’ll have to wait and see.
Catch these articles and more being updated on a daily basis on the LinkedIn group Hotel Revenue Strategy Leaders. Keep up with the news and join the conversation.
Booking.com caves to European parity pressures
Booking.com says if you can't beat them, join them, at least in Europe. The unit of Priceline Group says it will “abandon its price, availability and booking parity provisions with respect to other online travel agencies." The move follows actions by regulators in Sweden, France and Italy that ban the practice by OTAs of requiring hotel prices be the same or lower than pricing offered by its competitors.
It's time for clarity in hotel pricing
The ultimate goal for all hotel marketers is for consumers to book directly through brand.com or through a property's website. The author argues that won't happen on a large scale until the hotel industry can remove the clouds surrounding pricing.
While every chain has lowest price guarantees, many consumers still believe better prices are available at Expedia, Hotels.com or at some secret site only known to true travel insiders.
And while hotels have stronger links to their customers than do airlines, there is still plenty of education needed to convince consumers that brand.com is where they need to go. Her model also calls for hotels to consider customer acquisition costs versus total revenue potential of each guest. She cites an executive at NH Hotels who advocates a one-to-one strategy that applies specific pricing based on customer behavior.
One way to do that, as we’ve written here and for Tnooz, is by merging pricing and loyalty strategies to offer the best prices to all customers logging into your website.
Design hotel websites to be 'task-based'
Hotel website designers have it all wrong, suggests this brief article. The premise is visitors go to hotel websites not to book immediately but to look around, view rooms, check out the F&B offerings, etc. Then, after usually interminable searches elsewhere on the web, they might come back to book a room.
As a result, websites need to be built to help consumers accomplish specific tasks that might eventually lead them back to the booking process. These tasks include price checking, location information and easy booking when they're ready to do so.
Consumers are mobile-crazy
Consumers love their mobile devices, something everyone in the travel industry knows. But according to a new study from Cornell, they also have wish lists of other tasks they'd like to perform using smartphones or tablets.
The list includes some items that hotel companies are already employing or at least contemplating. Examples include mobile check-in and check-out and text notifications when guestrooms are ready for occupancy.
The study uncovered some new insights about apps. One item of concern to hotel companies: Travelers say they are less interested in downloading individual hotel apps than in using a general lodging app that could store preferences and which they could use to provide a more customized hotel stay. Not good news for brand.com.
Another theme of the study was concern over mobile security, an issue the industry must continue to address.
Feds decide to probe sharing economy
One of the biggest business stories of the past two years has been the rise of the sharing economy. Sites such as Airbnb, HomeAway, FlipKey, Uber, etc. have taken huge chunks of business away from traditional bricks-and-mortar industries, such as hotels.
But, except for some anemic and confusing attempts by local governments, there has been very little scrutiny placed on these sites and their effects on consumers and businesses. In June, the Federal Trade Commission will commence hearings to examine these issues.
Which way to Peoria? Opportunities in map apps
Not surprisingly, the most-used apps by traveling consumers are maps, says this new study. Nearly half of travelers use Google Maps, MapQuest or some other app while en route. That ranks above apps centered on travel recommendations (TripAdvisor, etc.), airlines and hotel companies.
The data implies a marketing opportunity for hotels and hotel companies to place marketing messages on these apps, where available. It's one way to combat the power of HotelTonight, which many on-the-road travelers use to find accommodations down the highway.
HotelTonight app adds rate-tracking feature
HotelTonight upped the ante with a new release that, among other things, adds a rate-tracking feature. Users who opt-in to the feature will receive daily push notifications of price changes of hotels they’re following as well as how many new hotels have added rooms to the city you’re tracking, up until the dates you searched for.
Mobile-friendly hotel reviews are a must
You might be missing the boat if your hotel or hotel company's technology doesn't make it easy for consumers to read on their mobile devices reviews of your hotel or properties.
A myriad of data supports the notion that travelers rely on smartphones in various stages of the travel planning function, most notably in the planning stage. And, according to one study, 93% of travelers use reviews to make travel decisions.
Experts suggest travel websites should adopt responsive design to enable users to access a full range of content. Yet, a site that distills and summarizes reviews from a variety of sources can also be effective.
The bottom line is travelers won't book without reading reviews, and you need to provide them in easy formats in whatever platform they want.