05. January 2020 · Comments Off on Top 10 emerging technologies in 2020 · Categories: Uncategorized

As we enter a new decade, The Telegraph’s technology writers bring you their predictions for the year ahead.

The smart home becomes unavoidable

Have you tried to buy a TV that doesn’t come with an internet connection recently? Or a Hi-Fi system? This year, expect the same for lightbulbs, alarm systems and thermostats.

The smart home has been a concept for over a decade now, but for much of that time automated lighting, power systems and appliances have been too expensive, bulky and unreliable to attract anyone but the most dedicated technophiles.

That has changed in the last couple of years, as designs have improved and prices have rapidly fallen. Today, smart plugs and bulbs can be bought for less than a tenner, and new houses are being bought with smart home systems already in place. Before long, having a smart home – like having a smartphone – won’t be a matter of choice.

Why? Costs are falling rapidly thanks to economies of scale, home internet connections are getting faster, and major tech companies – in particular Amazon and Google – are investing heavily in the space.

Why not? Smart home security continues to be a nightmare, particularly at the cheaper end of the market. Although consumers have often been willing to sacrifice privacy for convenience, high-profile hacks could make them think twice.

James Titcomb

Our virtual doppelgangers

How many of us have imaged having a doppelganger? Not an evil one that wrecks our relationships and credit scores but a helpful one, who shares our life, pursues our goals and gives us an extra pair of hands to work with.

The number is potentially quite high, which is why we should all be paying attention to automated responses. Google’s “Smart Compose” email suggestions are now common, and may be subtly reshaping how we write.

Predictive text is increasingly bold in interpreting what we “really” want to say. More and more writing tools boast automatic word completion; Google continues to work on artificial intelligence software that handles phone calls on its users’ behalf; a start-up called Scribeless writes AI-generated handwritten letters.

This year this technology will become more capable and independent, evolving ever closer to the fantasy of the helpful double.

Why? For many people, the convenience of streamlining our responses to the tide of emails, texts and calendar invitations that washes over us every day will be too tempting to ignore. 

Why not? Machine learning is hardly perfect, and some AI scientists think it may soon “hit a wall”. Many consumers will be nervous about outsourcing their responses too much, and there will be ethical debate about whether it is a sign of disrespect. Privacy laws may also limit how closely third-party AI can integrate with the online tools we use every day.

Laurence Dodds

Electric SUVs

There was a time when electric cars were all tiny bubble-shaped contraptions, easy to park but better at burnishing your green credentials than actually driving very far. Then Tesla came along, and made them sleek, cool and sexy. The next stage? Practicality. 

Long the scourge of the green lobby, the SUV dominates the US market and is growing in popularity in Europe. Car manufacturers have sold millions of the larger vehicles, particularly with families. But not many of them have gone electric. 

That’s about to change. Tesla already released one electric SUV, the Model X (though some have argued that it’s more of a minivan or a crossover vehicle) and is planning to release another, the Model Y, next year. It has also unveiled the Cybertruck, which is divisively designed but has practical credentials. Ford’s Mustang Mach-E, due to be released next autumn in the US and Europe, is also an SUV. 

Why? Government incentives mean more companies are going down the electric route. Heavy batteries and high development costs mean big, luxury cars will go electric first. 

Why not? Two words: range anxiety. If you buy a rugged, practical car you probably want to drive it further than the supermarket, and you definitely don’t it stuck on the side of the road miles from the nearest charger. 

Olivia Rudgard

Fintech goes beyond the bank

The rising popularity of digital banking apps such as Monzo and Revolut is well-known, but a series of other start-ups are seeking to apply the same template to the rest of finance. 

What about managing your pension through an app? Or your home insurance? How about using open banking to get a mortgage faster? British start-ups are tackling all of these ideas – and investors who missed out on backing the first challenger banks are eagerly funding this next wave of fintech businesses.

Bank customers may not even know that their money is ever touching algorithms developed by start-ups. ComplyAdvantage, one British start-up, has developed compliance technology for big banks to use. And M:QUBE is behind new technology for mortgage brokers.

Why? Challenger banks have shown that customers can overcome the so-called “trust gap” and hand over their bank details to small companies without high street branches. The same technology could now help them to keep the rest of their finances in order.

Why not? Chances are, most people don’t actively monitor their mortgage or pension to see if they’re getting the best deal. It’s all well and good releasing an app which makes everything more efficient, but these start-ups won’t take off if they can’t reach customers and persuade them to sign up.

James Cook

The cryptocurrency comeback

Cryptocurrency is looking a little old now. Bitcoin was launched in 2009, so what is it doing on this list? 

Well, while Bitcoin and Ethereum may have failed to take off, aside from their surge in 2017 driven by speculators and market manipulators, cryptocurrency may finally be about to hit the mainstream.

Libra, Facebook’s digital currency project, is pegged for a launch at some point in 2020. The cryptocurrency, which will run on using blockchain-like technology used on Bitcoin, is expected to feature on Facebook’s apps as a way to send and receive money. 

It could be huge and disruptive. Central banks are even fretting it could threaten the dominance of sovereign currencies, should Facebook release its own Zuck-buck on the world.

Why? Facebook could launch Libra to more than 2bn people in a fell swoop using its combination of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram apps, potentially bringing online payments to people who are otherwise unbanked.

Why not? Facebook has hardly had a great 2019 and 2020 may be worse still as regulators circle Potential partners have also pulled out of its Libra organisation, weakening its hand.

Matthew Field

Biological machine learning

Is biology a technology? The somewhat counterintuitive answer is, of course. The cells in our bodies may not come with silicon chips but in many cases they combine to far more graceful, efficient and powerful effect than any computer. 

No wonder, then that biotechnology is a boom area. While mother nature has already come up with countless molecules that can cure disease, and man has identified them and called them medicines, there are billions of molecular variables that might have a beneficial effect.

The problem has been working out which. But now that machine learning is able to crunch through the vast possibilities, however, the era of “generative biology” is upon us.

Why? The field is perfectly placed to benefit from the extraordinary rise in machine learning capabilities. Google’s Deepmind has developed AlphaFold, an algorithm dedicated to protein structure, opening a path to creating bespoke proteins with bespoke therapeutic functions lies open.   

Why Not? Machine learning always appears barely applicable to many scientific fields – until it isn’t. The great leap forward could arrive tomorrow, or in a decade.

Harry de Quetteville

The smart speaker backlash

Smart speakers have been around for years, so are hardly a new trend. But they are one to watch this year not because they’re likely to be a major seller. They’re one to watch because the opposite may be true and 2020 could bring with it a backlash against smart speakers.

It is thought that around one in five homes across the UK have a smart speaker now. That’s just under 6 million households. 

But, according to a recent study, around 41pc of people who own a smart speaker are worried about their privacy with the devices, amid fears they are passively listening. Such concerns have only spiralled over the last year on reports that workers are being given access to voice clips to help improve tech firms’ systems.

We may have already brought smart speakers into our homes – but this year we may be taking them out again.

Why? Data privacy is a major hot topic in Europe at the moment. Politicians across the spectrum have voiced concern over whether users’ privacy is at risk. It’s likely such concerns will seep through to the public, prompting people to stop using their smart speakers. 

Why not? Smart speakers are undeniably useful. People may be concerned about privacy – but for some people, they’d rather have an easier life. 

Hannah Boland

Solid-state batteries

It was a tough year for Britain’s electric vehicles industry. Dyson’s electric vehicle project was scrapped, while the UK was snubbed by Tesla boss Elon Musk, who opted for Germany instead as his site for a European gigafactory.

But at the start of a decade that is expected to see a surge in electric vehicles, innovation in battery technologies will be taken up a gear. 

In particular, one form of battery technology expected to see greater attention is solid-state. Compared to lithium-ion, the current standard being used in electric vehicles, solid-state cuts out the flammability risk of current batteries while potentially offering a greater range.

Dyson’s £1bn set aside for electric vehicles will now be pumped into its battery research facility – which has already received £1bn of investment. Meanwhile universities up and down the country are aiming to take solid-state batteries out of the lab and into people’s cars. 

Why? To encourage mass adoption of electric vehicles, the vehicles themselves will need to prove that they can meet people’s expectations on the safety front and help them get over the bump of range anxiety. 

Why not? Lithium-ion batteries are already being mass-produced with new factories popping up across the world. Economies of scale may just dictate that lithium-ion remains the kingmaker. 

Hasan Chowdhury

The new Dr Google

Google has made some impressive leaps in artificial intelligence, from improvements in its driverless cars to building an assistant for disabled people. But it is the application of machine learning in medical research that has to be its most remarkable achievement this year. 

Chief executive Sundar Pichai announced this year that Google researchers were able to spot lung cancer a year before a doctor. It has also been working on improving symptoms for diabetics, detecting kidney failure and improving skin cancer diagnosis, all by training algorithms on pictures or X-rays. 

These sorts of life-changing technologies could begin to have an impact on British patients as soon as next year. 

Why? In September, Google absorbed the health division of DeepMind, its British artificial intelligence subsidiary which has already begun applying its research. The company is not one to move slowly, so expect it to start pushing forward as quickly as possible.

Why not? Public concerns may put the brakes on any British projects. When Google announced it would be absorbing DeepMind in September, there was widespread concern over whether Google could be trusted with patient data.

Margi Murphy

The next round of the video game console wars

The booming £110bn gaming market continues to grow and, while half of its revenues are made up by mobile gaming, the traditional blockbuster hardware battle is alive and well.

In 2020, Microsoft will release its next-generation Xbox -headlined by the Series X to go head-to-head with Sony’s PlayStation 5. While in many ways this will seem like the traditional console war – with the two gaming behemoths squaring up on teraflops of power, load-time busting SSD drives and exclusive line-ups-  there is also the potential for disruption from other quarters.

Interest in cloud streaming services – allowing users to play blockbuster games on phones and tablets without dedicated hardware – may heat up as the more established players come to the fore. Microsoft will launch its own Project Xcloud to face-off against Google’s Stadia, while PlayStation’s Now is likely to be beefed up in time for the PS5.

Quite how much impact cloud gaming can have in the face of shiny new hardware remains to be seen, but the biggest change could come from publishers committing to Netflix style subscription services rather than players buying individual games for £50 a pop.

Why? Simply put, it is time for a new round of hardware. The current Xbox One and PS4 will be celebrating their seventh birthday by the time their successors arrive, with dedicated gamers hungry for more advanced hardware.

Why not? The popularity of cloud gaming is harder to predict. Google Stadia launched to a lukewarm reception, but Xcloud is likely to be a more robust offering. It seems inevitable that streaming will eventually be the future for video games, but our bet is on dedicated hardware to remain king for a while yet.

Tom Hoggi

24. June 2019 · Comments Off on 5G and the rise of robotics · Categories: Uncategorized

By Susan Fourtane…Disruptive technology trends will accelerate and transform many industries at a rapid pace throughout the year. They will shape the world and the future and will be present on the horizon of business owners and investors alike. 

The intelligent digital mesh is going to include interconnected humans, robots, devices, content, and services all driven by digital transformation. Disruptive technology trends are going to propel the future where technology innovation leaders must evolve and change at the same pace of the trends they must embrace. Or, they could be left behind and suffer mass extinction.

Perhaps the obvious technology to watch closely in 2019 –before we can move on to anything else– will be 5G. 5G is a necessary technology. Without 5G technology, none of the technologies mentioned below would be possible. Autonomous vehicles, drones, the Internet of Things, and supercomputers could not be possible without 5G networks.  

5G technology is going to improve processing speeds by more than 10 times in 2019. This is the technology that can make possible, for instance, the much expected remote surgery in rural areas.

Artificial Intelligence surgery might sound too futuristic to some. However, robot surgeons powered by AI are bringing new innovations and accuracy to the operating room.  

1. Machine Learning will advance Artificial Intelligence (AI)  AI cars will drive us home.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovations will continue to bring scientific breakthroughs, in part, thanks to the vast amounts of data that new technologies have been collecting and is now available. 

In 2019, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence will be embedded in the business platform creating and enabling smart business operations. 

In the Artificial Intelligence space, China is going to leave the U.S. behind, emerging as a leader in AI developments and applications.

Advances in Machine Learning technology and algorithm training will result in new and more advanced AI. Autonomous vehicles and robotics are the two industries that will see the most rapid developments during 2019. 

In 2019, there is going to be a convergence of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning in business applications. As AI and learning technologies get to work together in order to reach better results, AI will have greater accuracy at all levels. 

So far, humans have only developed Narrow Artificial Intelligence. A superior AI, though, is in the future of mankind. How far should humans go with AI development is still a subject of controversy. Is this really going to be mankind’s last invention? 

2. Quantum Computing (Supercomputing)

Quantum Computing, still an emerging technology, is one of the most fascinating things researchers, organizations, and governments have been working on in this century so far. The race toward building the first fully-functional, fully-working quantum computer (also called supercomputer) is on.

With its impressive computational power quantum computers will most like be a cloud service in the near future rather than on-premise machines. IBM is already offering cloud-based quantum computing services. 

The first quantum computer is going to have a significant advantage over the others. In 2019, the competence to achieve supercomputer supremacy will intensify. As a consequence, the last mile in the race will remain mostly secretive, for obvious reasons.

3. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual Reality for automotive engineering design/ Image: Susan Fourtané for Interesting Engineering 

Advances in Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Mixed Reality (MR), all of which can be summarized in R+, will continue to be at the forefront of attention during 2019 with some fascinating new practical applications for industries.

R+, which once was only found in video gaming has been quickly advancing to become a useful tool in industries such as engineering design, manufacturing, healthcare, space exploration, and many others. 

In 2019, Virtual Reality is going to open up to innovative industrial applications that will change how people work and collaborate across geographies. 

Augmented Reality has been rising in the Virtual Reality’s shadow for the past year. But in 2019, AR is set to grow exponentially. 

4. Global Internet of Things (IoT) security breach

Anything connected becomes vulnerable. 

Hackers never sleep. Everyone in the cybersecurity industry knows that. As long as you connect something to the Internet it immediately becomes vulnerable.

In the past years, we have seen how hackers have turned to unsecure Internet of Things (IoT) devices to create an extensive botnet which then they could use to push enough traffic to take down Dyn, the DNS provider. As a way to refresh your memory, here is how the DDoS attack using IoT devices happened in 2016.

A quick look at the news tells us that not much has been learned. However, the great number of security breaches occurred during 2018 should serve as an alert of what can happen at a global scale in 2019 if organizations don’t take the necessary precautions. 

Analyst firm Gartner forecasts that 20.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide by 2020. And with the rise of autonomous things –I will call this the Internet of Autonomous Things (IoAT)– there is a good chance that many of these things will show a certain level of weak security. 

In 2019, it will be paramount for IoT manufacturers and all of their supply chain to dramatically increase the security in all the products that come out to market. It can be a connected refrigerator, a robot, a drone, a vehicle, or a health tracker.

Manufacturers must implement a level of security that keeps hackers at bay. Otherwise, there is a good chance we are going to witness a global IoT security breach in 2019. 

5. Blockchain technology

In 2019, for the delight of organizations, Blockchain is going to bring the first enterprise applications in active use. The most innovative corporations will start using Blockchain as a way to improve collaboration.  

Blockchain in 2019 comes out cryptocurrency transaction and becomes an integral part of the business platform. Blockchain enables transactional transparency across a variety of business functions. In 2019, Blockchain will be present in many industries at the core of business innovation. Article by Susan Fourtane: https://interestingengineering.com/intelligent-connectivity-how-5g-is-boosting-ai-iot-and-self-driving-cars

11. April 2018 · Comments Off on What is blockchain? by Marisa Garcia · Categories: Uncategorized

In its 2018 Emerging Tech in Travel report, Sabre unravels the mysteries of blockchain, explains how it works, what it means for society, and how it may be relevant to travel. Sabre explains blockchain in a nutshell:  “At its core, a blockchain is a concept for a particular kind of database. Going back a step further, a database is just a means for storing a collection of digital information, usually in away it can be easily be updated and searched. Information within a database can be any kind of value—birthdates, property records, biometric information, taxes, healthcare records, etc.—anything.

“There are many different ways to set up a database, each optimized for different use cases. Some databases are set up for search efficiency, some for extreme data privacy, some for redundancy, and on and on. Functionally, a database is a kind of tool, and not every tool is right for every job.

A blockchain is a new kind of database—effectively a whole new kind of tool to put in the toolbox of information storage solutions. In a world that previously held just hammers and screwdrivers, a blockchain is a wrench. It has functionality that no other database tool can offer, making new kinds of jobs possible.”

“Just because blockchain is a new and buzzworthy technology doesn’t mean its utility is universal. For certain kinds of information storage, blockchain may be superior to traditional databases, but in many cases, blockchain may not be the best tool for the job.”

Cryptocurrency

Blockchain is not cryptocurrency. It enables cryptocurrency transactions. But the rise and fall and rise and fall of cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, Ripple and others, has been a big headline grabber in 2018. This new currency is still confounding many and attracting scrutiny from regulators.

Here are some highlights from Sabre on the state of cryptocurrency (with a caveat from Sabre that they are only highlights and not a complete picture of this changing landscape):

  • Most—but not all—countries will require registration to use cryptocurrencies (no anonymity allowed).
  • Cryptocurrency exchanges will become increasingly regulated and will likely require insurance and backing of funds held by investors, becoming more similar to traditional banks.
  • Most countries will forbid using credit cards to purchase cryptocurrencies as a way of protecting consumers who might go into severe debt if cryptocurrencies crashed in value.
  • Most countries will tax cryptocurrency gains in ways similar to other investments.
  • Virtually all countries will allow participation in blockchain networks and the resultant cryptocurrency mining assets that may accrue (even if those assets can’t be spent for now).

Scarcity is good

In an effort to explain why blockchain matters and avoid the hype and buzziness surrounding it, Sabre picks on the concept of scarcity versus ubiquity of data. While most data management systems offer no valuation on the data stored in various fields—until it all becomes a muddy tangle of increasingly dense information—blockchain helps select the relevance of data and marks the datapoint that have the greatest credibility, distributing these reliable data points to fill and strengthen gaps and weak points in the chain of information. It identifies a single source of truth, and disperses that.

“Over the last several decades, we’ve increasingly come to think of digital information as cheap and infinitely replicable. Once something is digitized into 1s and 0s the cost to copy it has come close to zero: documents, songs, images. It costs a user nothing to send an email or to CC: an email to a hundred people. If a million people want a copy of the same song or image, the asset never runs out. This replicability places digital objects in contrast to physical objects, as each physical object takes up space and has a cost.

“The most exciting feature of blockchain is the true scarcity it brings to the digital world. Values stored on a blockchain cannot be copied, they can only be transferred from one owner to another. A value on the blockchain can be any asset that can be represented digitally: a monetary unit, a deed, a vote, an image, an airline ticket, a hotel room, a biometric identity, etc.”

Building trust

Along with scarcity, blockchain offers shared oversight and permanence of data transactions, which supports the creditability of the information distributed between systems. Some key excerpts from the Sabre report explain why this matters:

“The fact that anyone can see the full record of transactions helps provide oversight and transparency around data use. Even in private applications of blockchain, where participation is limited, the fact that a group of peers have full access to the data means fraud is reduced. The shared oversight provided by blockchain is usually referred to as a distributed ledger or distributed database. Regardless of the term, it means many different parties in difference places have copies of the entire blockchain record.

“Anytime a value is transferred, there is a permanent record made of the transaction. It is very difficult to undo a transaction.

“In tech parlance, the permanence of blockchain is referred to as “immutability.” Immutability simply means that a transaction cannot be reversed, an edit cannot happen unless it is recorded officially in the blockchain. Blockchain achieves this immutability by using previous blocks as the mathematical basis for creating each successive block—a process called hashing.”

The scarcity, oversight and permanence of record make blockchain useful for sensitive travel transactions of information which could benefit from a reliably encrypted form of information exchange. It’s trust. That’s why we’re all talking about it.

“Biometric identity is one of the most powerful proposed use cases for blockchain. Using a blockchain to store encrypted records of a person’s various biometric identifiers—their voice, fingerprints, hand geometry, iris pattern, facial model, gait, etc. Having an unforgeable, permanent source for matching biometric data would be incredibly powerful. It could eliminate the need for passports, driver’s licenses and other forms of identification, finally giving rise to true trusted presence—that someone is who they say they are and can prove it.”

Pants on fire

It’s exciting stuff, but as SITA also determined following its trial of blockchain exchange for flight data (another useful application in travel) there are risks involved which still need to be addressed. For one, manipulation of the base data feeding the chain—not entirely impossible—could lead to the dispersal of fraudulent information. If a trusted server which supplies information is compromised, then the single source of truth could quickly become the genesis of a lie.

There are other risks, as Sabre points out:

“A comprehensive biometric record would need to be completely secure—completely trusted—to gain broad adoption. The liability issues around protecting that much personal data are significant, and gaining consumer trust to opt-in to a central source for biometric data could be challenging because of fears over privacy.”

And here’s one to pin to the corkboard:

“Blockchains don’t eliminate the need for trust. Instead, they shift where the trust is placed and how it’s distributed.”

The benefits of the possible applications for blockchain make studying ways to minimize the risks worthwhile. The key point is that blockchain is not something to be adopted blindly, and requires a firm strategy for implementation. Also, enlist expert help when doing so.

“Sabre Labs is one of many groups at Sabre experimenting with and considering the broader impacts blockchain may have on every aspect of the travel ecosystem. Today’s keyword is ‘experiment.’ The functionality supported by platforms like Sabre’s Global Distribution System (GDS) is essential to global travel; its efficacy, reliability and security are the result of decades of work and development. Looking at ways to augment GDS content with blockchain solutions is an area of current exploration.

“Blockchain has the potential to change existing business models, but it’s too early to say how much maturity and exploration is necessary in the blockchain ecosystem to assure an effective, reliable and—most importantly—secure system for sensitive information.”

Let’s face it, Blockchain is complicated. It’s a big concept to wrap your head around. It can support new and more secure transactions. It can lead to a massive strain on the world’s electrical grid as too many people speculate in a new form of money. It can ensure a single source of truth on data. It can be manipulated into a mass dissemination of lies. It’s a technology to watch. It will change the future, but we should not trust the future blindly or rush into it.

Article by Marisa Garcia, tnooz

18. June 2017 · Comments Off on Online hotel booking trends · Categories: Trends
PakasaiThailand
Just how do guests dwindle down their hotel selections during the online booking process? Two hospitality professors aimed to find out, looking beyond clickstream analysis by using eye tracking to discover why consumers choose a specific hotel.  Eye tracking is capturing eye movements and converting this information into some form of analyzable data, explained Stephani K.A. Robson, senior lecturer at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. Robson was one half of the duo who presented research during a webinar titled “Consumer eye-tracking and revenue management,” which was presented jointly by Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International, Hotel News Now and HNN’s parent company, STR.
Robson and her research partner Breffni Noone, associate professor at Penn State’s School of Hospitality Management, analyzed 32 people’s eye tracking patterns, all of whom had one thing in common: They were leisure travelers who had booked a hotel online in the last six months, Robson said.
The research team then sat down with participants to ask them questions about why they clicked on certain hotels and what played into their decisions. Robson and Noone broke down their study into two phases of the online booking process: the browsing phase and the deliberation phase.
Following are five key takeaways from their research.
1. People have high and low price thresholds
During the browsing process, these consumers had a price they didn’t want to go over and a price they didn’t want to go under, Noone said.
And they fixated on brand name the most.
Why?
“This idea of minimizing risk and if I have a bad experience, I know they’ll take care of me,” Noone said.
For example, one participant said: “(Brand name), I mean I feel like they’re kind of the McDonald’s. You always know what you’re going to get there. It’s pretty standard no matter what (brand name) you go into.”
Of note, Noone said there was little brand loyalty among these 32 participants, but brand name was important to them in terms of the consistency and types of experiences that they were going to get in the hotel.
“Sometimes brand name was enough of an impetus to have someone pay more. But not always,” Noone said.
2. Images can change a prospective guest’s mind
When moving to the deliberation phase of the online booking process, consumers fixated on images.
“For some people, they look at every picture in a very systematic way. Even for things they might not be interested in,” Robson explained. “They even clicked through meeting spaces shots (even though they were leisure travelers).”
An image can sometimes change a prospective guest’s mind regarding a property that might be lower priced, Noone said.
For example, a baby boomer male participant happened upon a hotel with arches in front of its entrance. He said: “The arches are elegant. They made me think that the hotel was going to be a little better maintained and would be a bit higher quality.”
Additionally, participants were turned off by old-looking images. “Modern associated with clean. Old associated with dirty,” Robson said.
Whether a hotel was atypical and if it had lush greenery also played a role during the deliberation process, the professors explained.
“People don’t want a run-of-the-mill looking property,” Noone said.
3. People don’t look at properties with less than a 3-star rating
During the browsing phase, participants also had a ratings threshold.
“People were really not looking at properties with less than 3 stars,” Noone said.
They also looked at volume of reviews.
“(The) greatest number of reviews signaled they could trust it,” Noone said.
One participant said: “Obviously, if it’s got a fantastic rating, but it’s only two reviews, well then gee it’s probably the owner and his brother. Not exactly reliable information.”
4. Amenity descriptions can make a difference
During the deliberation phase of the online booking process, participants found property descriptions to be the second most important thing after images.
Wi-Fi and breakfast were the two most prominent amenities participants were looking for, Noone said.
“Anything providing value to the customer has to be very salient and up front,” she added.
Both professors stressed the importance of firm-generated content. “The FGC is really important. Don’t feel like you’re flays to what users are saying about you online. You can take a little bit more control,” Robson said.
5. Reviews matter at lower end of consumers’ price threshold
Participants on average looked at four reviews during the deliberation phase of the online booking process.
“Just enough to gauge what the property is like,” Noone said.
But when taking price into consideration, reviews played a larger role.
“At that lower end of their price threshold, they really needed reviews to make sure it wasn’t too much of a risk. Bad image despite a good review can change a person’s mind during deliberation,” Noone said.
By Samantha Worgull
Associate Editor, Reader Engagement
sworgull@hotelnewsnow.com
09. February 2015 · Comments Off on Hotel Marketing Trends 2015 · Categories: Trends

White armchair on the beachWhile one of 2015’s greatest challenges will be maintaining a high online visibility, that doesn’t necessarily mean blowing the budget. This year, invest in mobile-friendly services and amplify your brand’s online presence through creative use of visuals and better online customer service.

At the beginning of every year, many experts offer their list of industry forecasts for the year ahead. Some turn out to be highly accurate, and others, not so much. In the hotel industry in particular, most prediction articles neglect to mention how hoteliers should actually implement these trends at their properties. After all, figuring out how to make a trend work for you can often be the hardest part of innovation.

So, for 2015, we’ve put together the trends that hoteliers are most likely to experience this year, along with some strategies for implementing them most effectively.

Mobile Travelers Require Mobile-Friendly Services

Today, almost everybody has a smartphone or tablet; whether they use it for reading the next bestseller or chatting with friends on Facebook, we will see that these devices will become even more critical for hoteliers to consider in 2015.

Unlike previous generations, Millennials (those who reached young adulthood around the year 2000) are “mobile-first” travel consumers who rely heavily on their mobile while traveling – not only for booking, but also to research and find solutions for any issues they might encounter.

In order to make your property more appealing to this type of consumer, it is important that you think beyond just mobile bookings (but of course, if you still haven’t implemented a mobile-friendly site, now is the time!). Some other key tech elements that you should implement at your property to appeal to this type of traveler include:

– Free high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the property.

– Option to checkout via tablets in the front lobby.

– Device charging docks in all of the common areas.

– Music players that will work with both Apple and Android devices.

– Online concierge service with local info, attractions, etc.

– Smart TVs, which allow streaming from a guests’ various online accounts for TV, movies, music, etc. (i.e. Netflix, Pandora, etc.).

All of these options provide self-service options for those who would prefer to do everything online from their collection of smartphones, tablets and laptops, and will help your hotel increase your popularity with this growing demographic.

Optimize Big Data, Online & On-Site

The proliferation of big data runs the risk of overwhelming hoteliers, but managed correctly, it can unlock the door to highly personalized experiences for guests and better operations for hoteliers – both online and on-site. Hotels will need to find ways to harness the power of data to find meaningful insight into traveler behavior and likes/dislikes to make decisions that decrease costs, drive greater guest satisfaction and increase revenue. What is especially critical is to find a way to leverage the most valuable Guest Intelligence i n conjunction with your existing technology systems (CRM, PMS, Business Intelligence, etc.).

Analyze online semantic data (the language used by guests in online reviews) to help you identify how guests feel about the overall condition of your hotel’s resources and the ROI of budgets for separate departments.

Guest satisfaction data is also no longer limited to online reviews. Harvest even more feedback by creating custom online guest satisfaction surveys that allow your hotel to ask guests specific questions about different elements of their experience at your hotel. Find out more about how your hotel can implement guest satisfaction surveys.

Use an online reputation management tool that analyzes reviews from all sources (there are more than 140) in all languages, that is user-friendly (to maximize staff engagement) and that offers an open platform (API access that can connect to your property’s current internal technological platforms/systems) to enable accessing and managing all online reviews, comments, ratings and direct guest survey results in one integrated platform.

Bring Offline Services Online

Social media is rapidly becoming the number one channel for customer service. Since the explosion of smartphones and tablets, communication with consumers has evolved into an open online dialogue – real-time streams of conversation that are visible to anyone, anywhere. Correctly handled, conversations between guests and brands can instill a positive impression in casually browsing travelers.

Discuss how your hotel marketing team should respond to requests and comments to transform Twitter into a customer service channel. Set up alerts to automatically monitor mentions of your hotel online across all major channels. You can also make the process of reviews more proactive by automatically sending customized guest satisfaction surveys – which might have once gathered dust in the hotel room – to guests as a post-stay email to gain valuable insight into how you can improve guests’ experiences in very specific areas. Our experience shows that hotels can expect a response rate between 15% to 30% (for post-stay email surveys), which can yield significant information and insight into necessary operational and service improvements.

Visualize Your Brand Message on Social Media

In 2015, increase the use of visual media – especially videos and vivid imagery – on your website and social media. The brain recognizes visual content 60,000 times faster1 than text and the most innovative global hotel brands are already harnessing cognitive stimuli, known as neuro-marketing2, to connect with travelers on a more emotional, instinctual level. This includes encouraging guests to generate visual, earned content as part of your marketing campaign.

You won’t need to drastically increase your marketing budget to maintain online visibility this year. Instead, analyze engagement data across separate social channels to implement smarter, highly visual campaigns, while ensuring your messaging is coherent throughout every department.

2015: Optimize, Visualize, Automate

While one of 2015’s greatest challenges will be maintaining a high online visibility, that doesn’t necessarily mean blowing the budget. This year, invest in mobile-friendly services and amplify your brand’s online presence through creative use of visuals and better online customer service. Leverage the power of Guest Intelligence, the combination of online review analytics and direct guest survey data to get the most complete picture of how and where improvement efforts need to be made. Make valuable guest review data work harder by correctly training staff to understand the insights offered by review and social analytics. Leveraging social data offers hoteliers an unprecedented opportunity to glean actionable insights into areas for improvement in every department, which in turn will lead to smarter spending, stronger guest loyalty and higher revenue.

To learn more about these trends, among many others, that will shape 2015 for hoteliers, please download and listen to our recent free webinar.

Article by RJ Friedlander, CEO of ReviewPro courtesy of Hotelmarketing.com.

While one of 2015’s greatest challenges will be maintaining a high online visibility, that doesn’t necessarily mean blowing the budget. This year, invest in mobile-friendly services and amplify your brand’s online presence through creative use of visuals and better online customer service.

By RJ Friedlander, CEO of ReviewPro

At the beginning of every year, many experts offer their list of industry forecasts for the year ahead. Some turn out to be highly accurate, and others, not so much. In the hotel industry in particular, most prediction articles neglect to mention how hoteliers should actually implement these trends at their properties. After all, figuring out how to make a trend work for you can often be the hardest part of innovation.

So, for 2015, we’ve put together the trends that hoteliers are most likely to experience this year, along with some strategies for implementing them most effectively.

Mobile Travelers Require Mobile-Friendly Services

Today, almost everybody has a smartphone or tablet; whether they use it for reading the next bestseller or chatting with friends on Facebook, we will see that these devices will become even more critical for hoteliers to consider in 2015.

Unlike previous generations, Millennials (those who reached young adulthood around the year 2000) are “mobile-first” travel consumers who rely heavily on their mobile while traveling – not only for booking, but also to research and find solutions for any issues they might encounter.

In order to make your property more appealing to this type of consumer, it is important that you think beyond just mobile bookings (but of course, if you still haven’t implemented a mobile-friendly site, now is the time!). Some other key tech elements that you should implement at your property to appeal to this type of traveler include:

– Free high-speed Wi-Fi throughout the property.

– Option to checkout via tablets in the front lobby.

– Device charging docks in all of the common areas.

– Music players that will work with both Apple and Android devices.

– Online concierge service with local info, attractions, etc.

– Smart TVs, which allow streaming from a guests’ various online accounts for TV, movies, music, etc. (i.e. Netflix, Pandora, etc.).

All of these options provide self-service options for those who would prefer to do everything online from their collection of smartphones, tablets and laptops, and will help your hotel increase your popularity with this growing demographic.

Optimize Big Data, Online & On-Site

The proliferation of big data runs the risk of overwhelming hoteliers, but managed correctly, it can unlock the door to highly personalized experiences for guests and better operations for hoteliers – both online and on-site. Hotels will need to find ways to harness the power of data to find meaningful insight into traveler behavior and likes/dislikes to make decisions that decrease costs, drive greater guest satisfaction and increase revenue. What is especially critical is to find a way to leverage the most valuable Guest Intelligence i n conjunction with your existing technology systems (CRM, PMS, Business Intelligence, etc.).

Analyze online semantic data (the language used by guests in online reviews) to help you identify how guests feel about the overall condition of your hotel’s resources and the ROI of budgets for separate departments.

Guest satisfaction data is also no longer limited to online reviews. Harvest even more feedback by creating custom online guest satisfaction surveys that allow your hotel to ask guests specific questions about different elements of their experience at your hotel. Find out more about how your hotel can implement guest satisfaction surveys.

Use an online reputation management tool that analyzes reviews from all sources (there are more than 140) in all languages, that is user-friendly (to maximize staff engagement) and that offers an open platform (API access that can connect to your property’s current internal technological platforms/systems) to enable accessing and managing all online reviews, comments, ratings and direct guest survey results in one integrated platform.

Bring Offline Services Online

Social media is rapidly becoming the number one channel for customer service. Since the explosion of smartphones and tablets, communication with consumers has evolved into an open online dialogue – real-time streams of conversation that are visible to anyone, anywhere. Correctly handled, conversations between guests and brands can instill a positive impression in casually browsing travelers.

Discuss how your hotel marketing team should respond to requests and comments to transform Twitter into a customer service channel. Set up alerts to automatically monitor mentions of your hotel online across all major channels. You can also make the process of reviews more proactive by automatically sending customized guest satisfaction surveys – which might have once gathered dust in the hotel room – to guests as a post-stay email to gain valuable insight into how you can improve guests’ experiences in very specific areas. Our experience shows that hotels can expect a response rate between 15% to 30% (for post-stay email surveys), which can yield significant information and insight into necessary operational and service improvements.

Visualize Your Brand Message on Social Media

In 2015, increase the use of visual media – especially videos and vivid imagery – on your website and social media. The brain recognizes visual content 60,000 times faster1 than text and the most innovative global hotel brands are already harnessing cognitive stimuli, known as neuro-marketing2, to connect with travelers on a more emotional, instinctual level. This includes encouraging guests to generate visual, earned content as part of your marketing campaign.

You won’t need to drastically increase your marketing budget to maintain online visibility this year. Instead, analyze engagement data across separate social channels to implement smarter, highly visual campaigns, while ensuring your messaging is coherent throughout every department.

2015: Optimize, Visualize, Automate

While one of 2015’s greatest challenges will be maintaining a high online visibility, that doesn’t necessarily mean blowing the budget. This year, invest in mobile-friendly services and amplify your brand’s online presence through creative use of visuals and better online customer service. Leverage the power of Guest Intelligence, the combination of online review analytics and direct guest survey data to get the most complete picture of how and where improvement efforts need to be made. Make valuable guest review data work harder by correctly training staff to understand the insights offered by review and social analytics. Leveraging social data offers hoteliers an unprecedented opportunity to glean actionable insights into areas for improvement in every department, which in turn will lead to smarter spending, stronger guest loyalty and higher revenue.

To learn more about these trends, among many others, that will shape 2015 for hoteliers, please download and listen to our recent free webinar.

– See more at: http://hotelmarketing.com/index.php/content/article/trends_that_will_boost_your_hotel_marketing_in_2015#sthash.tunXHXrt.dpuf

16. September 2014 · Comments Off on Dream Merchants: the future of hotels · Categories: Uncategorized

Bianca VillaEvery Saturday night, no matter where they are in the world, Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin check into a hotel for a weekend escape, as you can do when you’re among Hollywood’s richest couples. Forget the mini-bar and thread-count sheets, though. To judge the hotel’s quality, they ask themselves questions such as: “Is this place evocative for us?”; “Do we feel transported from our own reality?”

That might sound like a rather self-indulgent, Luhrmann-esque take on TripAdvisor, where hotels are usually judged by more pedestrian criteria such as “sleep quality” and “location”.

But, believe or not, Luhrmann and Martin, in their own way, are on to something here. When it comes to recreational accommodation, visitor expectations are rapidly changing.

In the 1980s and ’90s, with the rise of “boutique hotels”, travellers learned to appreciate style and design as part of the package.

Read More at the Sydney Morning Herald:

http://www.traveller.com.au/dream-merchants-the-future-of-hotels-has-arrived-3c0iu

07. March 2014 · Comments Off on Chain hotels, versus Independent hotels: pros and cons examined · Categories: Uncategorized

By Alex Cabanas

comosamuiIn recent years, the topic of “brand versus independent” has become increasingly popular. Every industry conference has a panel titled the same, numerous articles – and blogs – are being written on the topic by every publication, HotelNewsNow recently launched a newsletter dedicated to independent hotels, the inaugural Independent Lodging Congress took place in Philadelphia in late 2013 focused on gathering the owners and operators of independent hotels, and if that were not enough, numerous high profile “de-flagging” lawsuits have certainly highlighted the topic.

While it is hard to attribute the peaking interest on this topic to only a few things, clearly owners are questioning the cost/benefit of a chain affiliation, internet distribution and marketing have dramatically leveled the playing field over the past 10 years, customer loyalty is not what it used to be and consumer preferences are certainly evolving.

Despite all of the hype and attention, very little has been written on this topic from the perspective of an independent operator. Clearly, independent operators are a little biased on the topic, but they are also overly discounted by many because of years of bias in the financing community and media in favor of chains. So, here’s some perspective to consider through the eyes of an operator of independent hotels.

First, a few points of clarity to set the right mind frame:

  1. Let’s focus on upper-upscale and luxury segments. Based solely on the prevalence of independent brands in the two upper chain scales, it makes sense to think mostly about these types of properties.
  2. Let’s use the word “chain” not “brand”, when describing the major hotel brands such as Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood, Wyndham, Intercontinental, Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons. These are the major “chains” that are of a size and scale to warrant a term of their own. The reality is that every hotel name is a “brand”. Benchmark is also a brand – we just don’t put our name on the hotel like many other larger independent operators like Destination Hotels & Resorts and Noble House. And smaller name brands such as Kimpton, Loews and Omni with a few dozen hotels and resorts don’t really qualify as a “chain” based on size, compared to the major hotel chains.
  3. Let’s understand that the word “independent” is not really a fair representation in all cases. Because most publications use the word “independent” and seem to conjure up images of a single General Manager and his or her team trying to run a property all alone with no management company support. While that still happens in our industry the fact is that there are a number of very well established independently branded management companies. Therefore, generic comparisons between “chain” and “independent” don’t really do justice to the capabilities offered by third party managers specializing in smaller brands and independents.

Now that we are of right mind, some thoughts to share on various topics that are typically included in the “chain versus independent” debate – again, from the independent operators perspective.

Larger third-party operators have support systems and “standards” too, but we are willing and able to customize by property

Independent operators should not be discounted by a generic assumption that we don’t have support systems and standards. Now, do we all have specific product and design standards like a chain – no. But that can also be a liberating fact. We do have support systems, best practices and policies and procedures across all disciplines. In fact, the flexibility and customized approach of an independent or smaller brand, with a system of procedures and policies is arguably more effective versus the chains that run everything by a manual and don’t customize by property. Especially given today’s growing consumer preference towards unique experiences and products where authenticity trumps “standardization”.

Location, product, service, experience, distribution and then “brand”, in that order!

In any hotel market, a hotel is either stealing demand from the competition or inducing new demand – a simple way to look at it. So a hotel’s location, product, service, experience, distribution (sales & marketing) capabilities are all valuable in positioning the property for success. If you think of these factors agnostic to the hotel name, you get a true sense of the property’s inherent ability to succeed – regardless of the brand name on the building. At that point the appropriate question becomes what is the incremental benefit of the name compared to the incremental cost of that name. Since most chain affiliations are more expensive than independent, the hurdle of incremental performance is higher. That is not to suggest the benefits of a chain are not worth it sometimes – but the value add is not always worth it.

It’s not the size of your pipeline that matters, it’s how you use it

So many articles and comments are made about the “distribution” and “reservation systems” of the chains, and there is no question they have large distribution networks. Unfortunately the question of distribution efficacy and incremental contribution is rarely asked. For example, Marriott may have very strong demand sources in the Atlanta market, but is that demand driven specifically by the Marriott family of brands enough to fill the myriad of supply Marriott has in the Atlanta market. A hard question to answer and one that is usually never asked. The generic assumption is big pipeline must mean big impact. And what happens when Marriott introduces a new brand like Autograph or AC – does the demand for Marriott product grow enough to support it?

Now, independent operators clearly can’t claim broader distribution compared to the chains – but we don’t really care or try to match them. We only care about the distribution we need to fill our one, may two or at most a handful of hotels in a given market. So do we need millions of loyalty program members – no! We only need and only market to what is needed for that hotel – and we only spend the owner’s money for that hotel. An independent hotel marketing budget is targeted and focused at impacting that one hotel, compared to a chain environment where substantial dollars are focused on promoting the chain.

Lastly, in today’s world of electronic distribution, what do the words “reservation system” mean these days – surely not many are calling the 1-800 number for a room.

The value of loyalty and points is not what it used to be

The most influential part of the chain is the loyalty program and there is no denying its presence and influence. But the question that should be asked is..how much demand is truly driven by the consumer’s desire for points and/or chain loyalty? And is that incremental demand enough to justify the incremental cost of a flag? These are not easy questions to answer but here are some relevant quotes about the condition of loyalty programs today:

  • “At least five major lodging groups have announced a devaluation of their respective frequent guest programs in January or February [2012]. And the cuts aren’t trivial. The value of many of our hotel points stashes have taken a significant blow”
  • “The best-case scenario is that hotel loyalty programs as they are constituted today have either little or no impact on travelers’ purchase decisions, and, worst case, these programs drive undesirable brand-switching behavior.”
  • “Hotel brands and owners that choose to instead build differentiated loyalty programs and a customer experience that anticipates and integrates priority customers’ personalized needs have the potential to capture incremental market share, as indicated by these facts:
    • Roughly 30 percent, on average, of hotel loyalty members are “at risk” of switching their preferred brand
    • Nearly 50 percent, on average, of hotel loyalty members’ annual hotel spend is not with their preferred brand

The above certainly brings into question just how much demand is truly driven by loyalty programs – especially as the very proprietors of those programs are devaluing them. And to the extent that they do drive incremental demand, independent operators now have several plug and play options such as Stash Hotel Rewards and iPrefer to evaluate at a lower cost.

Don’t be a lazy underwriter – give the independent brand model an equal chance

The fact is that many lenders and investors simply prefer chains. The old adage of “nobody gets fired for hiring IBM” drives a lot of decisions. For those willing to dig in a little deeper, the value proposition is worth it – lower management fees, more flexible contract terms, more nimble operations, typically unencumbered upon sale and more flexible sale options. So for you lenders out there reading this blog post, give us a chance and give us the audience. You won’t be disappointed.

After all of this, you can easily assume that this blog post is an anti-chain rant. That is not the goal. The goal is to level the underwriting playing field and dissipate the clear bias towards chains based on generic statements about “distribution” and “loyalty programs” and “standards”, rather than digging into how the industry has evolved, how consumer preferences have dramatically changed, and how independent third party operators have grown and been able to compete – proof positive competition, not dreaming.

Every professional independent operator can show numerous case studies that prove our ability to perform equal to or better than the chains. And at the end of the day, performance speaks for itself in all cases – “chain” and “independent”. And equally important is for any operator or brand or chain to act in the best interest of each owner every step of the way.

About the author

Alex Cabañas is President and Chief Executive Officer of Benchmark Hospitality International. Heleads the company’s global growth initiatives, including the continued expansion of its portfolio of award-winning hotels, resorts, and conference centers. Alex was previously president of business development and finance for Benchmark. During his tenure in this role, the company added 20 properties to its management portfolio and expanded into the Caribbean. The company also acquired MTM Luxury Lodging, which led to the launch of the hospitality industry’s newest luxury brand, Personal Luxury Resorts & Hotels.

Alex Cabañas joined Benchmark Hospitality International in January 2006. Prior to joining Benchmark, he worked for The Boston Consulting Group from 2000 through 2005. Alex earned his MBA at Harvard Business School and holds a BBA and MS in Finance from Texas A&M University.

Benchmark Hospitality International is a leader in the management and marketing of independent resorts, conference centers, hotels The independent company, launched in 1980, is a founding member of the International Association of Conference Centers. Benchmark Hospitality is a worldwide organization operating properties in major metropolitan and resort destinations. Benchmark’s international headquarters is located in The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston. The company’s northeast regional office is in New Jersey, with international offices in Tokyo, Japan. For the location of Benchmark’s properties and additional information, visit www.benchmarkhospitality.com.

This article was first published by Jim Butler of the Global Hospitality Group Hotel Lawyers, authors of the Hotel Law Blog.

 

07. November 2013 · Comments Off on Six trends shaping global travel in 2014 · Categories: Trends

ec2LONDON—The global economy might have stabilized, but the travel and tourism industry is as dynamic as ever, according to “World Travel Market global trends report 2013,” which was commissioned by the World Travel Market in conjunction with Euromonitor International and released Monday at the World Travel Market in London, says Patrick Mayock, editor-in-chief of Hotelnewsnow.
“The global economy in 2013 has stabilized compared to 2012 with a 3.1% (gross-domestic-product) growth expected for the year,” said the BBC’s Babita Sharma, who was tapped to present the key findings and moderate a subsequent panel. The International Monetary Fund predicts a further 3.8% increase during 2014, she added.

The travel and tourism industry is expected to record growth as well, averaging 4% increases for both arrivals and tourism spend during the next five years, she said.
Several key trends will emerge during this time of growth, according to the report.
1. Americas: PANKs show potential
Forget the DINKs, the traveler demographic also known as “dual income with no kids.” Today in the Americas one of the largest untapped segments is the PANKs, or the “professional aunts with no kids,” according to the report.
There are 23 million members of this cohort in the United States alone, Sharma said. They are smart, tech-savvy working professionals who see travel as a good way to connect with their nieces, nephews, godchildren or other kids in their lives.
They range in age, said Caroline Bremner, head of travel and tourism research for Euromonitor International, during the panel portion of the session. Approximately two in five (42%) of women aged 15 to 44 are childless but feel a strong desire to foster relationships with the children in their lives, she said.
“With regard to tailoring (hotel offerings) to them, obviously you need to be talking to them and communicating to them through social media, having multiple platforms to ensure you’re reaching them and that the message is consistent across them,” Bremner said.
“(But) it’s not necessarily revamping (the hotel experience) completely,” she added.
PANKs’ preferred travel destinations are domestic, family-friendly destinations places such as Disneyworld and Hawaii, Sharma said.
And what about the market potential for uncles in similar situations? The PUNK segment is nearly as viable, Bremner said.
2. Europe: Travel in the sharing economy
“Recent developments in online commerce and social media have made sharing travel services easier,” Sharma said. They’ve also led to new business models in the sharing economy. Among them: Airbnb, HouseTrip and HomeAway.
The concept is simple, Sharma explained: Average Janes and Joes offer their unused rooms, apartments or more to travelers on a short-term basis. The exchange is not only more affordable than a traditional hotel stay, but it usually offers a more authentic taste of the destination or locale, she said.
Such peer-to-peer travel networks are growing exponentially in Europe and will represent approximately $15 billion in global travel accommodation sales by 2017, according to the report.
They’ve gained traction elsewhere, including the United States, where some municipalities wish to eke out their share of the success by imposing occupancy taxes and other regulations.
Sharma said those efforts are not enough to deter this increasingly popular market, however.
3. Concierge gone mobile
Certain trends transcend borders. The rise of smartphones is one of them, Sharma said.
“The concept of a mobile concierge is on the rise,” she said.
In addition to serving as a reservation channel, mobile is now being used increasingly as a pocket-ready customer service tool.
For guests, it ensures real-time solutions to their every beck and call. And while that adds to the operational workload of hoteliers, it also allows them to foster deeper relationships and engagement with the guests they work so hard to target.
Hoteliers who fail to embrace this trend risk losing out on business, said Angelo Rossini, travel and tourism analyst at Euromonitor.
“We think this is a strongly rising trend,” he said. “We need to embrace it.”
4. Africa: On safari—with the kids
Multi-generational holidays are growing, and Africa’s safari-tourism business is not immune.
“South Africa is a key destination for family safaris,” Sharma said, noting increases in inbound arrivals to several other safari destinations throughout the continent.
The demand is especially apparent from emerging countries like India and China, whose inhabitants are more likely to travel with large groups and families, she said.
Tourism companies and hoteliers should work to meet the demand, developing affordable and –above all else—safe options for families, Sharma said.
5. Chasing the 24-hour traveler
Savvy hoteliers are rethinking their definitions of what constitutes a hotel guest, Sharma said. The overnight guest always will be the industry’s bread and butter, but gradually hoteliers are utilizing unused spaces to accommodate workers and transient travelers during the day.
The trend has materialized in several different ways. Some major chains, such as Marriott International, are now selling workspaces by the day or hour in formerly unused lobby and meeting spaces.
Others are selling rooms on a similar short-term basis for the traveling businessperson who needs to recharge during a layover or long-haul flight.
6. India: Social media shake up
India is already Facebook’s third largest market with 82 million users, but the country has only reached a fraction of its online potential. Only 12% of its population is online, according to the report, with 300 million projected by 2017. Three-fourths of those will be active on social media.
Mobile bookings are likely to soar, Sharma explained.
Hoteliers and travel industry professionals must tailor their offerings to fit this apparent need, streamlining their online booking channels and ensuring consistent content across different platforms, including smartphones, tablets and desktops, she said.
But they also must keep in mind the purpose of each platform, Rossini said. Social media, for instance, should not be used for promotions.
“The aim of social media is to engage … to gain their loyalty and therefore to increase revenues not on a short-term basis but on a long-term basis,” he said.

By Patrick Mayock
Editor-in-Chief
patrick@hotelnewsnow.com

13. February 2013 · Comments Off on The challenges of Sustainable Tourism · Categories: Uncategorized

Can tourism can be sustainable and profitable as well? While some destinations have established long-term strategies to protect the environment and local living standards, others have increased tourist arrivals for financial gain, but to the detriment of medium and long-term sustainability.

Read More

16. July 2012 · Comments Off on Sustainable luxury in the 21st Century · Categories: Green Travel

The world as we know it is changing, and this change is being reflected in the way that we perceive luxury travel experiences.  The notion of sustainable luxury is no longer an anomaly, and in fact is now an irrevocable part of the future of the luxury travel business model.

Lumiere Associates is quoted in this excellent article on the subject written by Emily Manson for the Hotel & Caterer magazine, in May 2012 – ‘Responsible Hospitality – how to offer luxury without the guilt’

Caterer article