Travel Review • June 15-19 2012

The Right Light, in Northern Thailand

The “Right Light,” Northern Thailand. See the Travel Aspirations item at the bottom of today’s post for a link to more “right light” photos.

Tech knows what you want before you do•Expedia Ranks High•Egencia Next Gen•OTA Myths•China Travel Roundup•iOS Passbook•Airlines Clueless•Airlines v. GDSs•Rental Car Damages• Cruise the San Juans• Great Travel Photos and the “Right Light”

Better than Real Time: Tech that Knows What You Want Before You Do

HotelTonight wants to book your room before you know you want it. New predictive technology can sometimes anticipate users’ desires before they consciously recognize or communicate them. Sam Shank, CEO of HotelTonight, says his long term vision for HotelTonight is “to get the service so personalized and context-aware that it books you the perfect room at the perfect hotel for you, before you even know you want a hotel.”


Expedia gets High Rank

Every year The Seattle Times ranks publically traded northwest U.S. firms by business performance. This year, Expedia came in at number 4 among the 96 companies in the rankings.  The article gives a nice overview of Expedia’s business and impact—for example, one of every 20 occupied hotel-room nights in the U.S. is booked through Expedia.

The Seattle Times

Egencia launches Next-generation Business Hotel Booking

Expedia’s Egencia business travel group has launched a new booking solution that offers special rates and amenities such as free breakfast, Wi-Fi and parking. The system customizes the booking site’s user experience to help enforce adherence to businesses’ spending goals.


Priceline Exec speaks out on OTA “Myths”

Priceline strategist Glenn Fogel claims that the success of OTAs shows that they offer significant advantages to consumers. He addressed a couple of OTA “myths” in a recent interview with Charlie Li of China TravelDaily:

Myth 1: OTAs compete primarily on price.

False: OTAs compete on inventory, availability, customer service, cancellation policies, site usability, localization, payment methods and more.

Myth2: Suppliers (e.g. hotels) are increasingly reluctant to rely on OTAs because of distribution costs.


  • In the case of hotels, OTAs provide revenue managers with a highly efficient distribution model that they can use to sell unsold rooms to people around the world, in their own language.
  • OTAs provide excellent marketing value (e.g., billions of $ of search engine marketing) that suppliers cannot easily match.
  • OTAs are actually less expensive than some wholesalers or consolidators.


China Travel Roundup

Marriott sees “Extraordinary opportunities” for travel in China. China is now the third-largest market for international travel originations, behind the U.S. and Germany. Marriott expects to have more than 100 hotels in Chine by 2014.

Travel Weekly

PhoCusWright reports that the Chinese travel market is undergoing explosive growth, nearly doubling from 2008 to 2013, with online channels leading the way.


Accor has committed to adding 6,572 China hotel rooms to its development pipeline.


iOS 6.0 Passbook Impact on Travel

Apple iOS 6.0’s Passbook feature will consolidate boarding passes and loyalty cards from different suppliers into a single built-in app, making it easier for travelers to board planes and check-in at hotels. This is just the first step to a future iWallet that will eventually use radio frequency NFC in addition to visual bar codes. It positions Apple as a potentially powerful player in the travel industry.


Airlines Clueless about their Customers

A WorldPay study on airline site purchase abandonment presents clear evidence that airlines don’t understand their customers’ wants. For example, of the 23% who abandon the final purchase, 36% do so because of concerns with hidden surcharges (e.g., ancillary fees). Yet only 6% of airlines believe customers abandon because of surcharges. Airlines believe abandonment is due to declined payment or changed plans.

I did research on such differences in perception between suppliers and customers as a graduate student and found that suppliers’ intuitive ability to predict customer wants is poor to nonexistent. The only solution is for suppliers to get and act on real data from properly conducted research.


Friction Between Airlines, GDSs

Airlines want to sell all kinds of ancillary add-ons, like premium economy seats with extra legroom, but claim that the three dominant Global Distribution Services don’t support selling a complex product mix. Airline representatives have called the GDSs “leeches” and talk of changing to a new distribution system if the GDSs can’t adapt. Meanwhile, Expedia and other online ticket sellers, who get their inventory from the GDSs, are frustrated because they can’t sell the ancillary offerings that the airlines are selling from their own sites.

The Detroit News

Beware Rental Car Damages

Don’t scrimp on your pre-rental damage inspection. Some customers are reporting that rental firms are holding them liable for damage they didn’t cause. Make sure you go over the entire car carefully and note any pre-existing scratches before you drive off the lot. Taking time stamped photographs with your mobile phone wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

USA Today Travel

Cruise to the San Juans

Cruises don’t have to be big ocean-going affairs. American Cruise Lines will begin sailing from Seattle up the Puget Sound to the beautiful the San Juan Islands and back starting in spring 2013.

USA Today Travel

Travel Aspirations: Great Travel Photos are made in the “Right Light”

The Lonely Planet blog features 15 city photos that came out great because the photographers took them during those magic times at the beginning and end of the day when the light was just right.

Lonely Planet



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