2013-09-27 TravelTech News Review

Online Travel Industry

  1. Survey reveals half of users do not trust travel review websites
    TripAdvisor reviews are rated as most trustworthy. I would have expected the Hotels.com and Priceline reviews to be perceived as more trustworthy, since both sites only allow reviews from people who have actually made a paid booking at a hotel (Expedia was not included in the report). I hypothesize that the general public is calibrating their level of trust in reviews according to their trust in the site that hosts them. Since TripAdvisor is not perceived as a booking site, it is not seen to be “selling” hotel rooms as Hotels.com and Priceline are. Thus users somehow see TripAdvisor as a less biased source of information, even though it is easier and cheaper for fake reviewers to post a review to TripAdvisor than to Hotels.com and Priceline.
  2. After Big Mergers, When Will Priceline and Expedia Take the Next Big Steps? – Skift
    Article asks when (if) Expedia and Priceline will integrate metasearch into their main sites, noting that TripAdvisor earns $2.37 to $2.61 per click for its metasearch referrals.
  3. Did Priceline Put an End to Kayak’s Inefficient Search Engine Marketing? – Skift
    Very interesting. Kayak has not been showing up in Google Ads since Priceline acquired it. One theory the article puts forth is that Kayak has been directed to learn more about Search Engine Marketing (SEM) from Priceline’s Booking.com, an acknowledged leader in SEM effectiveness.
  4. Priceline Shares Hit $1,000 for the First Time – Swift
  5. Uber uses lobbying to drive expansion
    Uber is wisely using large sums of its investors’ money to hire lobbyists to help ensure that the Uber business model is not blocked by local regulations.
  6. California Becomes First U.S. State to Regulate Ride-Sharing Services – Skift
    State-level regulation will enable startups like Uber, Sidecar and Lyft to innovate with less interference from incumbents.
  7. HomeAway Uses Hamburgers to Make a Case for Vacation Rentals – Skift
    Save up to 76% on your travel food budget by doing the cooking yourself.
  8. Google Wallet comes to iPhone, and travel companies sign up for mobile payments – Tnooz
  9. Apple Maps Vs. Google Maps in the New iOS 7 – Skift
    “From locating, to discovery, to navigation, Apple Maps [still] trails Google Maps in every respect.”
  10. Did Priceline Put an End to Kayak’s Inefficient Search Engine Marketing? – Skift
    Very interesting. Kayak has not been showing up in Google Ads since Priceline acquired it. One theory the article puts forth is that Kayak has been directed to learn more about Search Engine Marketing (SEM) from Priceline’s Booking.com, an acknowledged leader in SEM effectiveness.
  11. Travefy, a group travel startup, raises $320K
    There are several startups in the group travel space, but Travefy stands out as one of the better efforts. They have a good portfolio of features including group hotel booking and a group expensive tracking and settlement tool.
  12. Airbnb Focuses on U.S. and Brazil in First Major Marketing Push – Skift
  13. Reservations and distribution startup BookingPal banks $1.5M
    The startup is building a GDS for vacation rentals, allowing them to be sold through listing sites such as OTAs.


  1. Cards are fast becoming the best design pattern for mobile devices.”
    Mobile design is trending to a “card” design pattern in which individual pieces of content are aggregated to meet each user’s needs.
  2. TripIt iPhone App Update Improves Navigation With Card Views – Skift
  3. The New Design of Travel Apps in Apple’s iOS 7 Mobile Operating System – Skift
    Apple Passbook, Hipmunk, Starwood, Hotel Tonight, LoungeBuddy, US Airways, Travelocity and OpenTable have released updated apps to incorporate flat design elements consistent with iOS 7’s new look. Several of them also incorporate card-like elements in the design.


  1. Should we consider tablets as mobile in travel?
    For both design and analytics purposes, tablets should be considered as a separate class of devices from computers and smartphones.
  2. What Mobile Buyers Are REALLY Doing on Your Website
    – “Andy Ching, director of mobile for Bing, stated that 70% of mobile searches are followed up by a consumer action within an hour”
    – “During the second half of 2012, 41% of all emails were opened on a mobile device”
    -“64% of people who have viewed an ad on mobile have made at least one purchase as a result.”


  1. Starwood Launches New iOS 7 iPad App for its Loyalty Members – Skift
    “The app is visually stunning and includes a mix of curated content for property browsing, real-time social updates, and one-click booking. One of the neatest features included in the launch is a Foursquare map that shows guests restaurants and events happening near their hotel.”
  2. Hoteliers: wake up – something from Google for free
    Google Business Photos is a new photo/virtual tour hosting service from the search giant. Businesses do have to pay for a Google approved photographer to take the pictures but the hosting itself is free. The  photos are hosted on Google+ Local pages but Google can integrate them with search results, Maps and Street View.
  3. The 10 Most Expensive Hotel Suites in New York City – Skift
    $45,000 per night. Any takers?

Air Travel

  1. 7 Things Airlines Can Learn From Comedians’ Most Common Complaints – Skift
    Laugh-out-loud roundup of funny videos that mock the bad customer experience too often experienced by airline customers.
  2. U.S. Travel Leaders Urge Congress to Cut Airport Wait Times to 30 Minutes – Skift
    Peak international entry times for U.S. airports are abysmal—up to  four and a half hours at Miami.
  3. Airline Group CEO Blasts ‘Draconian’ Tarmac-Delay Rules – Skift
    Airlines dislike regulations that hold them accountable for poor customer experiences. Boo hoo.
  4. Los Angeles Airport’s New $1.9 Billion Terminal Welcomes its First Flight – Skift
    “…the terminal is the largest public works project in modern Los Angeles, its backers claim.”
  5. American Airlines and US Airways Employees Rally, Pitch Merger by Video – Skift
    The airlines’ union members are urging the U.S. Justice Department to drop its opposition to the merger.
  6. United Is Bringing Back Its Iconic ‘Fly The Friendly Skies’ Ad Campaign – Skift
  7. The article has embedded videos of several new and old ads. The ones from the 1970’s are just as cheesy as the TV shows of that era.
  8. Hell freezes over – Ryanair now in social media (and other web stuff)
    @Ryanair’s 1st tweet: “#Ryanair has joined Twitter! Follow our official account for the latest Ryanair news & special offers. PS There’s no charge for following us”
  9. Business travellers prefer to stay disconnected in the air
    61% of business travellers prefer not to use inflight WiFi. Not me—I had a great experience using Gogo WiFi on my last trip.
  10. F.A.A. Nears New Rules on Devices – NYTimes.com
    Soon you won’t need to put your Kindle away during takeoff and landing.
  11. Alaska Airlines Adds Google Wallet to iPhone and Android Apps – Skift
    Alaska’s apps are the first to allow travelers to track their frequent flyer miles in either Google Wallet or Apple Passbook.
  12. A Billionaire’s Purchase of An Airline in Hawaii Isn’t Going So Well – Skift
    Larry Ellison’s Island Air had up to 7 hour delays last weekend while the Oracle co-founder was preoccupied with his America’s Cup yacht racing.
  13. TSA Signs $6.8 Million Deal for Bottled Liquid Scanners – Skift
  14. Qatar Airways and American Air Begin Mile-Sharing Prior to Oneworld Union – Skirt
  15. Virgin-Delta transatlantic Joint Venture approved by U.S. Department of Transportation
    “Late last year Delta agreed to buy a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic, creating a joint venture that would expand Delta’s access to London’s Heathrow Airport and increase competition in the lucrative transatlantic market.”

General Travel News

  1. Skift Asks: What Travel Companies Do You Trust When Things Go Wrong? – Skift
    Hotels are trusted most, followed in order by Airlines, Car Rentals, Online Travel Agencies, and Cruise Companies. In my experience, OTAs are somewhat of the mercy of their suppliers, making resolution of trust-killing issues more difficult. For example, when an airline canceled a flight and booked me on a different flight from my family, the airline refused a request made via an Expedia agent to put us on the same flight. However, when I made my complaint public on Twitter, the airline quickly engaged with me and resolved the issue.
  2. Profiling the next generation of travelers
    Travel-related habits and trends of Millenials.
  3. Is This the Most Ridiculous Feature in the History of Travel Magazines? – Skift
    Conde Nast Traveler jumps the shark with a bizarre destination fashion shoot. Kudos to Skift for pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.

Destinations and Experiences

  1. How Creative Can Airport Ads Be? Lisbon Airport Shows The Way – Skift
    These are nice artworks. Lisbon Airport should sell prints.
  2. Prison Tours are Booming For Travelers Who Aren’t A Captive Audience – Skift
    Over 100 former prisons and jails have tours or museums and their popularity is rising.

Social Media

  1. Luxury travellers and social media – The past, present and future – Tnooz
    “For millennials, the ability to share a travel experience instantly via photos and videos has become an important requirement when selecting an experience. As Millennials become older and more affluent, they will seek luxury experiences that are so unique and visual that it is guaranteed to generate buzz amongst their social network.”

Privacy, Security and Fraud

  1. Fake Online Review Crackdown in New York Leads to Fines for 19 Companies – Skift
    Companies agreed to pay fines from $2,500 to nearly $100,000. One company posted more than 1,500 fake reviews on sites including Yelp, Google Places, and Yahoo! Local.

Denise’s Picks:

Denise Jones’ travel savvy, often quirky links…

  1. How 12,150 Cups Of Chocolate Pudding Turned Into A Million Frequent Flyer Miles | Gadling.com
    OK, so I know Thomas Crook already posted this. But in my defense, I had it in my to-post list BEFORE he posted 🙂   This guy was my hero. He inspired me in 1997 to begin collecting miles, and in 2008 I hit Lifetime Million Miler status with American Airlines- all with very little actual flying (I clearly remember scouring the Issaquah CostCo for pudding cups, right before they cut us off). Now, doing that isn’t as remotely easy as it used to be, but it can be done. What I can’t figure out is why this news item went viral….15 years after it initially made news.
  2. Travel To Shape Your World View
    I like this list. Its suggestions comprise some of my most memorable trips.
  3. One Website Will Change Your Name into Worldwide Airport Codes || Jaunted
    OK, so this is cool. I personally need to fly Denver -> Isparta, Turkey -> Johnston Island -> Essen, Germany. DEN-ISE-JON-ESS!
  4. 25 weird toilets around the world | The HostelBookers Blog
    I have a confession: I have an obsession with toilets around the world. They’re just so different everywhere you go, and say so much about where you are (anyone who’s ever puzzled over a Japanese toilet’s dashboard, choosing music, can relate). This list made me laugh- not just because the toilets are cool, but because I’ve actually been to 2 of them. Kawakawa, NZ, where we specifically detoured to this town to see it, and Halong Bay. Whee!
  5. 18 Signs You’re a Travel Snob | The HostelBookers Blog
    Hmm. How many of us fit this list? Guilty. And, I love the chicken bus.
  6. Top Ten Ways to Save Money on Travel | Andrew Matthews
    A pretty straightforward list to get started on budget travel.
  7. Good Travel Vibrations | Have Tips, Will Travel
    Today in Weird Travel Accessories…
  8. Baby In Spain Dies After Being Placed On Baggage Conveyor Belt At Alicante Airport
    And one of the weirdest, and saddest, travel-related deaths I’ve heard of in a while.
  9. 10 Horrifying Facts About Flying | SmarterTravel
    And in closing…here’s your simple terror for the day! 10 horrifying facts about flying. (p.s. did you know the 2nd most common place to find fecal matter on a plane, after the toilet, is your TRAY TABLE?)

Your comments are welcome. Off-topic comments will not be published. If you have a question unrelated to this post, click the "Contact" item in the navigation menu and submit it via email.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s