Instagram opens the door to hotel bookings and the latest revenue strategy news

Instagram announced an addition to its app that allows users to Shop Now or, potentially in the case of hotels, to book rooms. This direct-response feature is similar to one offered by parent site Facebook, which helps to close the gap between dreaming about a hotel stay and taking action to book a room. According to the Skift story, no travel brands are yet taking advantage of the new product. 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.

This week’s top stories:  

A solid primer on hotel tech

If you're a grizzled hotel revenue management veteran, this piece might seem a little basic, but it is a great overview of the transformation of the hotel industry into a high-tech business. While he emphasizes the advances made in recent decades in hotel pricing strategy, Rauch also covers the role of technology in hotel marketing, consumer behavior, demographics and customer service.

Airbnb seeks gains in corporate travel market

If you're a GM or DORM at a leisure hotel, you know all about Airbnb and other sharing-economy sites and their ability to steal business. In recent months, Airbnb in particular has set its sights on the more lucrative and less fickle corporate travel market. That could pose serious challenges for a lot more hotels. In this interview, an Airbnb executive reveals some of the company's strategies, including its outreach to corporate travel managers to pinpoint ways it can secure corporate business.

More proof reviews build bookings

It's intuitive that the more reviews your hotel generates—even the occasional sour ones—the more reservations will flow to your property. A new study from TripAdvisor hammers home the point: According to the data, 89% of travelers say online reviews are influential when choosing accommodations and 96% of hoteliers say reviews are influential in generating bookings. The data was presented as part of a webinar that looked at the relationship between reviews and bookings.

This is depressing: Americans aren't vacationing this summer

Perhaps it's lingering angst from the recent Great Recession or it's latent Puritanism, but a new survey says most Americans are unlikely to take a vacation this summer. In a Skift study, 62% of Americans said they're not taking a vacation this summer, with half of them saying they can't afford it. Just 16% of those surveyed plan a long vacation, while 23% are planning short vacation trips. Asked another way, 45% of the sample said they're taking no vacation days this summer, while 15% said they're taking less than a week.

Marriott's app strategy takes aim at OTAs

Marriott International has made headlines recently with its mobile technology. Recent innovations include keyless check-in, acceptance of Apple Pay and a mobile concierge service. These initiatives and others are the company's not-so-subtle efforts to keep customers loyal and to encourage them to book through and other direct methods rather than using costly (to the hotels) online travel agencies.

Is hotel industry becoming overheated?

The hotel industry, particularly in the U.S., has been on a roll. The industry had seen 62 consecutive months of growth and new records are being set or approaching records in a number of key performance metrics, including occupancy, demand, revenue, profits, etc. But economic theory says everything that goes up must come down. Or does it have to be that way? Consultant Dan Lesser asks the question of whether the industry is reaching its peak and is headed for a downturn, either slowly or quickly.

Accor owners have no problem with new independent strategy

AccorHotels' announcement last week that it would offer its distribution platform to select independent properties was met with a lot of comment and speculation. Was Accor diluting the distribution power of its own hotels? Was Accor becoming an OTA? Would owners of Accor-branded hotels howl at this news? The answer to the last question apparently is "no," according to this story in Hotel News Now. Owners and operators interviewed for the story seemed to believe it won't be a problem, even though they don't relish the idea of sharing distribution space with competitors. For its part, Accor said it has no plans to extend this initiative to become a full-fledged OTA as that move could aggravate relations with its owners.

It's more than price that drives online bookings

It seems intuitive that price is the number-one factor in consumer decisions to book a hotel room online. After all, that's why they endlessly search for that holy grail: the hotel room at a 25% discount from what's advertised on other sites. A new study from Triptease shows potential bookers either pull the trigger or abandon a site for other reasons, including complexity of the site and poor use of images on the site. The study cites Novotel as an overly complicated site. Apparently, it takes four additional steps to book a room on the brand's site.

Expedia ups the ante with expanded mobile app

Expedia apparently understands the future of travel distribution is mobile. The online travel agency today announced a slew of upgrades to its mobile app. Among the enhancements: 1. More hotel choices in its Book Now, Pay Later platform which enables consumers to pay for their stays at check-in. 2. The addition of car rentals to its booking lineup. 3. More information and booking ability for local activities, such as excursions, show tickets and other attractions. 4. Additional savings and booking options for consumers who want a vacation package that includes air and hotel stays.

Here's how to win back the booking process from OTAs

The authors have a simple proposition to wrest control of the booking process away from online travel agencies. Their prescription is to act more like retailers than hoteliers by offering strong ancillary propositions—beyond food, beverage, conferences and events—in direct channels. They split these possible offerings into two groups: core room-related products such as breakfast and Wi-Fi, and external products such as car rental and activities. By doing so, they believe hotel operators can increase revenues and build loyalty among their guests.

New HotelTonight feature promotes weekend getaways

Last-minute booking site HotelTonight seeks to extend its reach with the addition of a new feature, Escapes, to highlight getaway deals for tonight or, more likely, for the weekend ahead. The new feature will serve up to users hotel rates at destinations for which they might not have previously searched, perhaps sparking last-minute getaway decisions for locations within convenient traveling times.

Tips to leverage mobile usage to drive bookings

Speakers at the recent Travel Distribution Summit Europe in London offered their advice on how to boost bookings in a world that is increasingly dominated by consumers using mobile devices. The key takeaway, according to the group, is that it's necessary to gain trust with potential bookers through collaboration rather than traditional selling techniques.  

Eric Stoessel, Vice President of Marketing

Eric leads Duetto's marketing strategy and execution and has been with the company since January 2013. He started as a writer and became senior director of content, where he created and managed the company's extensive library of thought leadership and educational content. Before joining Duetto, Stoessel spent eight years covering the hospitality industry as an editor at Lodging Hospitality, Restaurant Hospitality and Food Management.

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