Demise of OTAs? • TrustYou + TripAdvisor • Revinate Series A • Hipmunk v. Concur • Tablets for Shopping • Amadeus opens APIs • AA Lie-flat seats 1st in US • Airline Upgrade Auctions • Target Dog flies 1st Class • Airbnb Vigilantes • Freighter Cruises • Steampunk Cruise • World’s Coolest Bazaars
Demise of OTAs: Reality or Wishful Thinking?
This article in Hotel News Now forecasts the diminution of OTA travel market booking share as Google, Apple and other online powerhouses link customers directly with suppliers. Keep in mind that the reporter is writing from an archetypical hotelier’s perspective that views OTAs as revenue siphons that lower profit margins.
I think the reporter’s conclusion is more wishful thinking than reality. Here are some reasons why:
- The more successful OTAs have strong brand equity. Writing in his Hotels Magazine blog [free registration required for access], hotel branding expert Larry Mogelonsky noted that
“…a recent survey I conducted amongst young business travellers named EXPEDIA as their third choice as a hotel chain!”
- A lot of innovation in the travel booking sector is happening around OTA services, for example, in the OTA APIs that power new innovative travel apps and sites like Hipmunk.
- Mobile belongs to the OTAs. In a recent ranking of top travel apps, by my count 10 of the 12 top iPhone travel apps were either from OTAs or powered by OTAs, and the other two were consumer to consumer apps.
TripAdvisor Partners with TrustYou Reputation Management
TrustYou has entered into a partnership with TripAdvisor to receive exclusive access to TripAdvisor’s API. This will give TrustYou clients “access to all of their TripAdvisor content, grouped, semantically categorized, and visualized in near real-time.”
I dug up some background information to provide some context. TrustYou helps businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector, manage their online reputations through survey research, online review monitoring and marketing. One of TrustYou’s specialties is semantic text analytics or text mining, in which software parses text such as that found in online reviews. One application of such analyses is to provide summary reports of consumer sentiment, positive or negative, by category. There’s an interesting demo of this on TrustYou’s website. Try copying in a few hotel reviews from Expedia or TripAdvisor and see the how the system works. Now consider the implication of having a near real-time analytics dashboard that automatically compiles and reports on the information.
Revinate Reputation Management gets $14.5M in Series A Financing
The reputation management sector is hot and getting hotter with Revinate receiving a nice Series A funding bundle. Investors include Benchmark Capital and Formation 8 and Expedia founder and former CEO Rich Barton.
Hipmunk versus Concur for Unmanaged Business Travel
Hipmunk has launched a low cost business travel site with Outlook schedule integration and individual traveler profiles. The target market is small organizations that do not need a centrally managed enterprise travel system. Meanwhile Concur has just introduced a similar unmanaged business travel tool.
Tablets and Online Travel Shopping
Tablet users are exhibiting different shopping behavior than PC/laptop users, shopping longer into the night, spending more per item and making more purchases than smartphone users. There is good evidence that travel companies can realize business gains by providing tablet-optimized sites and apps.
Amadeus opens APIs to Third Party Developers
American plans to offer Three-class Service with lie flat seats inside the U.S.
Several travel sites reported on this but AirlineReporter.com blogger David Parker Brown scooped them all with interior mock-up photos and more detailed information,
Airlines Experiment with Auctions for Upgrades
Economic theory posits that auctions are an efficient method of setting prices between buyers and a seller that provides the highest total welfare for the participants in the transaction. Some international airlines have adopted an auction model for selling upgrades to business and first class. However, many frequent flyers don’t like the idea.
Target Stores Spokesdog flies Delta First Class
Bullseye, the bull terrier featured in Target advertising, was photographed flying in a Delta first class cabin from Chicago to Minneapolis. Which just goes to show, today’s coach class passengers are treated worse than dogs!
This human interest piece in the New York Times follows amateur detectives in the Stuyvesant Town development in Manhattan. Their self-appointed task is to track down apartments that are being rented out on Airbnb and similar services in violation of leases and in some cases, the law. Whether this amounts to petty vigilantism or preserving the neighborhood quality of life is a question for the reader.
Of course the issue isn’t limited to New York City—I wonder how many listings on Airbnb and its competitors are in violation of leases and/or laws?
If you’ve ever romanticized the idea of traveling as a passenger on an ocean going freighter, it’s still possible, for about 100 euros per day. The cabins are cozy, but with fast modern container unloading and loading, don’t expect to spend long in port.
If freighter cruising doesn’t strike your fancy, how about a Steampunk themed cruise?
Travel Aspirations: World’s Coolest Bazaars
What aspiring traveler hasn’t imagined visiting an exotic bazaar? From Marrakesh to Guadalajara, this feature covers some of the best.