GetGoing Review • Travel Essentials • Google not Helping Hotels • China Travel Compilation • 124 Travel Briefs • Travel Aspirations

GetGoing offers a new Twist on Opaque Booking

GetGoing offers a new Twist on Opaque Booking

GetGoing Mini Review: an Interesting Variation on Opaque Booking

Priceline and Hotwire have proved that airlines and hotels are willing to provide deep discounts on unsold inventory through “opaque” distribution channels. The idea is that the shopper purchases the product based on a generic description and the actual brand and product are revealed only after payment is received. The advantage to the supplier is that excess inventory can be sold without diluting brand equity (i.e., without lowering the demand for the product at a given price point). In an opaque transaction the brand is not associated with a visible and shareable discount. (As an aside, package deals are also a form of opaque booking because the shopper doesn’t immediately know and can’t share how much of the price went to the flight and how much to the hotel room.)
Software startup GetGoing is offering a new spin on opaque discounting in which shoppers choose discounted flights for two possible destinations, but don’t know which destination and airline they will get until they have entered their credit card details and clicked on the Purchase button.
GetGoing offers an attractive and easy to understand user experience. My scenario was a late-season ski weekend from Seattle. I chose the “United States and Canada” region and entered the weekend of April 19 to 21 into the date fields. GetGoing listed prices for 19 possible destination cities from which I chose Denver ($200) and Salt Lake City ($205).

For comparison pricing, I checked Hotwire and Priceline for opaque flight bookings (none were on offer). I checked Expedia and then did a Kayak metasearch to get prices for the two cities from several popular OTAs and airlines. The best I found were $288 for Denver and $264 for Salt Lake. The one other option a budget traveler might consider would be to bid for a fare on Priceline using their “Name Your Own Price” feature. Some of the recent winning bids promoted on Priceline were potentially lower than GetGoing but none were on the weekend I picked and there’s no guarantee that a bid lower than the GetGoing price would be accepted.

Conclusion: GetGoing can offer significant savings if you aren’t fussy about which of two places you want to fly and it’s kind of fun to use.

Read more:

22 “Essentials” for Frequent Travelers

I [Thomas] often see articles like this and they can be hit or miss depending on whether they were compiled by a real-life frequent traveler. This one is the real deal [shout out to Denise Jones for finding it]. I don’t know that everything listed is an “essential,” but he does call out some good gear that both Denise and I have used and can vouch for.
[Denise]

  • I don’t travel without the Monster Outlets To Go Strip, the Traveler Adapter, a Packtowl, or hand sanitizer! (missing from this list: chapstick!)

[Thomas]

  • Osprey travel packs: I purchased an Osprey 40 carry-on-size pack for my last trip and it was super. With Osprey’s lifetime warranty, you can’t go wrong.
  • A big +1 on the Monster Outlets to Go Strip. How something so functional, useful and inexpensive came out of a company infamous for overpriced, unnecessary products is beyond me but this is a great little piece of gear. I took one on a recent trip to Hong Kong and China and was pleased to see that its blue power indicator lights up regardless of whether the strip is plugged into a 110 or 220 volt source. They even make a version with a USB power port. Please note that this is not a voltage converter—just because it provides North American style plugs doesn’t mean you can safely plug a 110-volt-only device into it when you’re using a 220V supply. Luckily most modern electronics adapters work on any voltage from 100 to 220V—check the small print on your devices.

ExtraPackOfPeanuts.com

Google Hotel Finder Not Driving Direct Bookings for Hotels

Some hotels may have hoped that Google Hotel Finder (GHF) would drive more direct bookings for hotels at the expense of OTAs. However, it has been 20+ months since GHF launched and that has not been the case. This is because OTAs, with a much larger inventory than hotels, can better monetize GHF’s pay-per-click traffic. As I have pointed out, Google is just monetizing traffic that used to be driven for free from organic search results. The end result is that Hotels and OTAs are all now paying a “Google Tax” to get the same traffic they used to get for free in organic search. Google was investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for this and other alleged antitrust violations. Unfortunately for Hotels and OTAs, the FTC decided not to take any action against Google.
HotelPlanner chief executive Tim Henschtel is quoted as saying:

“If the chains and OTAs had worked together as a cohesive unit [in the legal battle for fair search] against one search engine that effectively has a monopoly in the industry, maybe these powers would have been strong enough to keep Google from exercising its strength.”

Despite this, Henschtel thinks that most consumers are creatures of habit and will continue to book through the same OTAs and Hotels as they used prior to GHF’s launch.

EyeForTravel

China Travel Compilation

China has recently grown into the biggest consumer of travel products and services. I came across so many China-related articles for this edition that I decided to put them under their own heading.

  1. Collectively, Chinese travelers are now the world’s biggest spenders . CNN
  2. Package price was the the No. 1 factor for Chinese travelers in making travel decisions, followed by red tape in obtaining a visa. [item 3 from “5 things to know: 22 March 2013.”] HotelNewsNow
  3. Preferences and Attitudes of Chinese Outbound Travelers: The Hotel Industry Welcomes a Growing Market Segment – Cornell School of Hotel Administration. Cornell Hotel School
  4. Study: Urban hotels among Chinese travelers’ preferences. Travel Weekly
  5. China: Huge opportunity, huge risk. HotelNewsNow
  6. Chinese government wants to give workers more time to travel in China. Skift

Travel Briefs

Internet Travel Industry

  1. CheapOair backs away from its cheap link-exchange SEO effort. Tnooz
  2. Concur continues spending spree, acquires ConTgo for location-based services. Tnooz
  3. Expedia ditches the dull and adopts the rich visual approach for its mobile applications. Tnooz
  4. Expedia quietly starts testing new website designs – hello big images!. Tnooz
  5. Five tips from Expedia on how hotels can convert OTA traffic into bookings in 2013. Tnooz
  6. [Denise] In case you’re not using it yet, track your flight with FlightAware. I. Love. This. App. [Thomas] Me. Too. FlightAware.com
  7. Google Street View is starting to tackle the hard to reach territories. Skift
  8. Google study of mobile search behavior reveals travel insights. Tnooz
  9. Google Flight Search (finally) goes international. Tnooz
  10. Things I wish I had known when starting Hipmunk. Tnooz
  11. Mr Arlo gets in on social travel planning with blogger element for local flavor. Tnooz
  12. Ostrovok secures $25 million in funding in Russian-American pact. Skift
  13. Why the Priceline plan to buy Kayak should be investigated by regulators. Tnooz
  14. Roomer, a secondary market for hotel rooms, secures $2M in funding from BRM Capital. Tnooz
  15. The ever-impressive Rome2rio a new point-to-point pricing feature covering all modes of transport needed to complete a trip. Tnooz
  16. Room 77 taps Drew Patterson to be CEO [UPDATED with Brad Gerstner Q&A]. Tnooz
  17. Hey travel brands, do you Squidoo? You should!. Tnooz
  18. RIP Travelllll – quirky name, plenty of content, potentially a large, vociferous and captive audience. Tnooz
  19. Traxo launches a review platform for hotels and flights that verifies user authenticity. Tnooz
  20. An Interview with Stephen Kaufer, Co-Founder & CEO of TripAdvisor. HARBUS – The Student Newspaper of the Harvard Business School
  21. TripAdvisor UK survey shows how hotels are responding to boom in reviews. Tnooz
  22. Why TripAdvisor’s Expedia juice won’t last forever, in one chart. Tnooz
  23. TripAdvisor eyes next move on travel Rubik’s Cube: Mobile destination services, tours and activities. Tnooz
  24. 10 travel sites that want to be TripAdvisor but won’t be. Skift
  25. A hilarious new site collects the most outrageous TripAdvisor reviews…and gives an insight into travelers’ misplaced expectations. Vagabondish.com
  26. Interview with Utrip’s Lynn Chou: Highly personalised planning: is it really possible? EyeForTravel
  27. Lufthansa picks Vayant to help with dynamic packaging distribution. Tnooz
  28. Six-second postcards: Vine is changing how travelers share stories. Tnooz
  29. ZapTravel attempts semantic travel metasearch, with activities upfront. After reading the Tnooz write-up, I tried it out and found it has a long way to go. It failed to recognize several queries that work in other natural language systems and I never got it to successfully complete a price search. Tnooz
  30. Zaranga forced into branding change after Priceline weighs in on name-your-price message. Tnooz
  31. The changed travel purchase cycle in a digital world. Skift
  32. Influence of content in travel industry [INFOGRAPHIC]. Tnooz
  33. Why travel agents should act more like bankers. Tnooz
  34. Speed demons and slowpokes: These are the travel industry benchmarks. Tnooz
  35. 2012 was the year cruise lines’ branded sites overtook the OTAs. Tnooz
  36. In online travel booking, mobile isn’t all mobile. Tnooz
  37. Ready, steady, go – a race to the bottom for travel guidebooks, e-books and apps? Tnooz
  38. Traditional landing page optimization can yield big results. Tnooz
  39. Managing travel itineraries: Easier said than done even with digital tools. Tnooz
  40. If I was a digital guru at Thomas Cook…. Tnooz
  41. Do clarified US rules mean travel bloggers must disclose freebies in relevant tweets? Tnooz
  42. Time to feed the zombie travel startups to the lions (aka The Successful Ones). Tnooz
  43. Four travel APIs to quickly change the way you interact with your customers online. Tnooz
  44. ‘Anyone’s game’ as new travel start-ups enter the fray. EyeForTravel
  45. Less is more: online travel needs curated itineraries based on human judgment. EyeForTravel

Hotels

  1. Things I learned reading Hotels Magazine: Hotel operators can buy electronic bed bug detectors so they can nip the little boogers in the bud before they spread. FMC Professional Solutions
  2. New horizon – why two different worlds must collide when running a hotel. Tnooz
  3. Hotels are figuring out that minibars are more trouble than they’re worth. Skift
  4. The fight to control boutique hotel group Morgans is nearing an end. Skift
  5. Hotel trade article suggests ways hotel staff can encourage future direct bookings from guests who booked via travel agencies. HotelNewsNow
  6. Designing for emotions: more than two thirds of consumers surveyed said their hotel choices were driven by emotional drivers, such as connection, warmth, excitement and pleasure. HotelNewsNow

Air Travel

  1. Investment firms take a second look at airlines as 2013 returns climb. Skift
  2. Court rejects airline challenge to fee and cancellation rules. Skift
  3. UK travelers lash out at air travel tax increase. Skift
  4. Three cheers: No more invasive body scanners at airport security!!! Jaunted.com
  5. Investment firms take a second look at airlines as 2013 returns climb. Skift
  6. United: Fewer flights, higher fares, what a great business. Skift
  7. Flying? Expect fewer flights, higher fares. Fox Travel News
  8. One step forward in airline pricing but a step back for revenue management. Tnooz
  9. Social media backfires, airport official loses his job because of a photo. Tnooz
  10. Now You Can Fly Hawaiian Airlines to New Zealand! Travel News Notes
  11. Man vs. Wild’s Bear Grylls stars in Air New Zealand A320 Safety Video [Thx Frank Ho!]. YouTube
  12. United Airlines employees delayed a connecting flight to ensure that a customer arrived in time to see his dying mother. eTurboNews
  13. This is why you should REALLY pay attention to which suitcase you’re taking off the luggage carousel. Severed heads, anyone? [Editorial note: Denise’s summary—blame her ] TravelMole.com

General Travel News

  1. When I started working in travel I encountered a whole host of confusing new terms like “RevPAR.” This handy hotel industry reference gives definitions for a lot of them: HotelNewsNow
  2. Google announced that they would cease the publication of Frommer’s print travel guidebooks, but… [read the next item…] Skift
  3. Google has made a deal to give the Frommer’s brand back to the Frommer family. Arthur Frommer and daughter Pauline announced that they will start publishing Frommer Travel Guides again. Tnooz
  4. BBC sells Lonely Planet to NC2 Media for a near £80 million loss. Tnooz
  5. Hertz will equip thousands of its vehicles with Zipcar-style pay-as-you-go tech. Tnooz
  6. The Middle East is a new global travel crossroads. USA TODAY
  7. Tourism will soon be the largest employer in Saudi Arabia, report says. Skift
  8. Australia streamlines visa process to attract highly-skilled workers. Skift

Consumer Travel News, Advice and Deals

  1. Car rentals in Los Angeles are 50 percent cheaper than New York. Skift
  2. If you must buy souvenirs, here are 15 tips to ensure you don’t find yourself at home with a $75 Mickey Mouse tie…. CNN.com
  3. Are you a terrible traveler? Here are some ways to know… USAToday.com
  4. Finally! A site that lists all visa and passport requirements for each country. ProjectVisa.com
  5. Best eats at 20 busiest U.S. airports. CNN
  6. First-class vs. business: Worth the extra cost? CNN
  7. Travel Q&A: When’s the best time to go to Europe? USA TODAY
  8. 10 great places you can visit for $50 a day. USA TODAY
  9. Travel insurance: Calculating the risk of buying or not. USA TODAY
  10. Hotels, airline devalue loyalty programs, angering customers. Fox Travel News
  11. Vacationing more might stop global warming! So do your part! Salon.com
  12. Theft Prevention: Why you should wear old clothes and drag your backpack behind your bike. Vagablogging
  13. Which loyalty card is the best choice for travelers? Tnooz

Destinations and Experiences

  1. Beyond the Wall: Walking into a Game of Thrones set in Iceland. Matador Network
  2. 8 ways that travelling makes you brave and courageous! Vagabondish.com
  3. A list of the happiest and saddest countries. Skift
  4. What’s your excuse for not seeing the world? Experts agree: Ignore your excuse! ExtraPackOfPeanuts.com
  5. TripAdvisor users pick San Juan Island over Hawaiian islands. Skift
  6. Balkan Promises – Hiking the Albanian Alps. New York Times Travel
  7. First view from the top of NYC’s World Trade Center’s viewing deck. Skift
  8. 140 countries ranked on openness to foreigners. Matador Network
  9. Ski tourism to the Alps faces huge threat from global warming. Skift
  10. An interactive map of the dirtiest/rudest place names in the world (spoiler alert: Lake Titicaca is represented)! NBCNews.com
  11. 25 reasons to visit the Canary Islands [pics]. Matador Network
  12. Myanmar transported: The Yangon Circular Railway. Matador Network
  13. You’ve never seen water like this [65 photos]. Matador Network
  14. Beautiful underwater photos: Plight of the Torpedo People. Matador Network
  15. Plight of the Torpedo People [movie review, with video]. Matador Network
  16. 21 places you have to see by water. Matador Network
  17. 10 of the world’s last great wilderness areas. CNN
  18. Traveling celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain discovers something I learned when I first spent a significant amount of time outside my home country: the Human race is ‘essentially good.’ CNN
  19. Man stuck on “It’s a Small World” ride sues Disney, wins. USA TODAY
  20. Secrets of Hong Kong cuisine revealed. USA TODAY
  21. Night skies dazzle at these national parks. USA TODAY
  22. Insider secrets of Rome. Fox Travel News
  23. Visiting The Galapagos Islands is truly wild experience. Fox Travel News
  24. 20 tips for visiting the Hawaiian Islands. Fox Travel News
  25. Vagabonding Dispatches: The Biggest Starfish On The Smallest Island In The World. Vagablogging
  26. Vagabonding in Panama. Vagablogging
  27. Why I’m not a minimalist… I’m a “maximalist”. Vagablogging
  28. Migrating Mania on Media, Tech and Travel: The 25 Least Visited Countries in the World. Garfors.com
  29. Travel Inspiration: Lake Tekapo, New Zealand. IndependentTraveler.com
  30. A followup on a story I featured last year: North Korea’s ‘hotel of doom’ – Pyongyang Ryugyong Hotel to be run by Kempinski [Thx Frank Ho!]. CNN Travel
  31. Is This Awesome Image of NYC a Photograph, a 3D Render, a Painting, or All of the Above? Gizmodo
  32. TripAdvisor users rate the best U.S. and world beaches. USA TODAY
  33. How to Spend 47 Hours on a Train and Not Go Crazy. New York Times
  34. Sixty Years After His Death, Stalin is Still A National Hero To Some In Georgia. Worldcrunch
  35. For Harry Potter fans…a Harry Potter-themed WIZARD CRUISE! Jaunted.com
  36. A slideshow of Europe’s coolest small towns. BudgetTravel.com
  37. A slideshow of Europe’s most bizarre buildings. How many have you been to? (Denise: only 2) CNN.com
  38. The top 5 off-peak destinations for Spring 2013 USAToday.com
  39. The world’s most beautiful cemeteries. CNN.com

Travel Aspirations: Bali

I’ve always held a certain fascination for Bali but it wasn’t all that high on my bucket list until I came across this video:

The Island of the Gods (Bali) from Returning To Nomadism on Vimeo.

Read more about the video and filmmaker Marty Mellway at Matador Network

Acknowledgements

Thanks to TCTReview collaborator Denise Jones for her help in curating links for this post. You can read Denise’s travel blog at http://blog.travelpod.com/members/sql_spice

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