Online Travel Industry
- NYC Tourism Organization Partners with Booking.com for Direct Hotel Bookings – Skift
Booking.com gets a nice win here.
- Priceline Group Gaining Ground in Asia Pacific | PhoCusWright
“According to a new PhoCusWright Asia Pacific and Global Edition report, [Priceline’s] Agoda brand is the most popular online travel agency (OTA) in five of nine countries studied and the only OTA to hold the top spot in multiple Asia Pacific (APAC) markets.”
- HotelTonight Launches a New Product Aimed at Penthouses and Luxury Suites – Skift
For those frequent occasions when you need a $1000 per night luxury suite at the last minute…
Online Travel Startups
- The First 50 Travel Startups Publicly Raising Money on AngelList – Skift
“An 80-year-old ban on advertising private investments in the United States ended [on September 23rd], and startups were already geared up to deliver their pitches on fundraising platforms such as AngelList.”
- Here are the ones I find most interesting:
- FlyinAway.com: A membership flight booking site that uses group-selected auctions to generate savings of up to 65% on airfares.
- BidAway.com: Bid on vacation packages, hotels, destination activities and more in real-time online auctions.
- Sailsquare.com: A social discovery tool that brings tourist-crewmembers, skippers and boats together for user-generated sailing holidays.
- Fantrotter.com and Travelatus.com: Combination travel booking and event ticketing sites that let fans plan and book trips to see their favorite bands, teams or performers wherever a future event is taking place.
- TripTern.com is an automated trip planner similar to Utrip.com. It doesn’t appear to be as sophisticated as Utrip, but unlike Utrip, which covers Europe only, TripTern covers cities all over the world.
- RoutePerfect is another automated trip planner. Again it is similar to but apparently not as sophisticated as Utrip. The current version is limited to Italy.
- FindMyCarrots uses semantic search and Big Data to ease trip planning
FindMyCarrots.com is yet another startup demonstrates how hard it is to get semantic search right. This one is limited to India and while it gets some queries right (e.g., “beaches in west India”), it fails to return results for many others. It does have some nice features. It’s interesting to compare this to our internal Best.Expedia.com site; they have a similar appearance. One noteworthy feature of FindMyCarrots.com is its ability to scope searches to a defined radius; I quite like the visual effect when you enter a query like “attractions 100 kms from Gurgaon.”
- JoGuru wants to use a new formula to create global trips
The beta itinerary planner JoGuru.com has some interesting features, including nice visuals and an algorithm to calculate the most efficient route to visit points of interest. JoGuru is nice as far as it goes but I was frustrated due to the following issues:
- There is no obvious way to delete an itinerary.
- There is not way to delete a city from an itinerary.
- There is no way to print itineraries or view them on a mobile device in a mobile-friendly format.
- It would be nice to be able to add restaurants and hotels to the itinerary.
- The Company Re-Inventing Hostels With Smart Design and Social Media – Skift
Hip and hybrid hostels are gaining ground. The Generator Hostels chain features high-concept design and plenty of individual rooms for older more affluent travlers. Skift has an interesting interview with Generator Director/Founder Josh Wyatt.
- The Hotel Concierge of the Future May Be Customer Service Via Smartphone – Skift
Neon’s Concierge mobile website sounds beneficial for hotels and guests alike. I particularly like the scenario in which Neon facilitates chocolate chip cookie deliveries.
- New York Hilton Midtown Brings Back Room Service In Paper Bags – Skift
After eliminating room service entirely in August, the hotel returned with a more limited paper bag option. Sounds like a mid-tier Hyatt (which I like) with higher priced food.
- Tech hotel: Ushuaïa’s latest technology partner is…
Ok, I’ll save you from the suspense–it’s Microsoft. Kinects and room to room video chatting are nearly ubiquitous. Judging by the embedded video, this is one sybaritic hotel.
- Panel Finds Planes Can Handle Use of Electronic Devices – WSJ.com
Passengers should soon be able to use smaller non-radio-emitting devices such as tablets and e-readers from boarding until de-planing.
- Justice Department Says Past Mergers Are ‘Irrelevant’ to American Air Case – Skift
“Every merger must be evaluated on its own terms in light of current industry conditions,” says Justice. In other words, American and US Air shouldn’t get to do the same thing several other airlines have done. Justice’s theory is that the industry is now so consolidated that another merger represents a tipping point at which competition would be significantly reduced.
- American Airlines Files Lawsuit Against Superfly, Claims Settlement Breached – Skift
From the shooting themselves in the foot department: You would have a hard time finding an American Airlines frequent flyer who is in favor of American’s lawsuit against Superfly, a site that helps frequent flyers track their miles.
- Qantas trials ‘all day check-in’ for international flights
This is a great idea, except that Qantas is adding an unenforceable condition that you can’t leave the airport. On my last overseas flight, my brother and I needed to pick up visas in San Francisco and then make an evening departure. It would have been much easier if we could have checked in in the morning.
- Report: UK Pilot and Co-Pilot Both Fell Asleep in Cockpit – Skift
This happens a lot more than you hear about it.
- Orlando Airport Considers Replacing TSA with a Private Firm – Skift
Some anecdotes reported in the article suggest that the TSA provides better customer service when it has potential competition.
- Ryanair Considers Removing Toilets In Rear of Plane – Skift
Strangely, most of the article is not about toilets, but about changes Ryanair is making to improve customer service and other business issues. I’m sure that putting toilets in the headline and commentary attracts more readers though.
- Spirit Airlines’ Filibuster Sale: ‘We Won’t Stop Talking Til You Start Saving!’ – Skift
Spirit amuses us with its ads, but not with its service.
- The Secret Language of Airline Staff
A tip of the hat to our Egencia colleagues for publishing this humorous and informative infographic.
- The Caribbean Islands Most Dependent on Cruise Business – Skift
“Dependent” is a misleading word here as it can have a negative connotation. They should have reported it as the Islands that receive the most expenditures from the cruise business.
- Costa Concordia Divers Find Human Remains – Skift
These are hoped to be the last two unaccounted-for bodies. The article is accompanied by a photo of some amazing damgage that was not visible when the ship was on its side.
General Travel News
- Skift Asks: Is the TSA Good at its Job? – Skift
40.4% say no, 33.7% don’t fly(!) and 25.9% say yes.
- American Express Selling Off Half of Business Travel To Investment Firm – Skift
American Express’s travel related businesses have not done well recently and that is probably the reason for the sale.
- Esquire Network Embraces Travel TV with Celebrity-Led ‘The Getaway’ – Skift
I’m not into the celebrity culture but this actually sounds like an interesting travel show. Anyone seen it?
- Why the most prolific travel bloggers need to refocus
Thanks to more sophisticated search engine algorithms, quality of content is more important than frequency and brevity for travel bloggers.
- ‘Traveler’ layoffs reach 17 as Conde Nast travel title adopts a softer focus | Capital New York
This was widely reported elsewhere but this article quotes a source that says the mag is going to shift from “hard-hitting long-form features” and adopt more of a “lifestyle” approach. Just what we need–more fluff.
Destinations and Experiences
- Poachers Poison 80 Elephants in Zimbabwe’s Largest National Park – Skift
As the “Skift take” says: “Despite the loss, it’s hard to think there will be a serious crackdown on the poachers under the Mugabe government.”
- Apple Maps Takes Drivers on a Shortcut Across an Airport Runway – Skift
Apple Maps users, in reality distortion field, no longer recognize objective reality, drive onto active runway.
Analytics, Search, SEO & SEM
- In travel marketing it’s all about optimising for search and last clicks
This article is worth reading if you are involved with areas like online ad buys, metasearch referrals, and search engine marketing. It quotes: “The booking process for travel is complex, taking place across about 22 different websites on average, during almost ten separate sessions.” You need links to your site to show up multiple times on the 22 websites and during those ten sessions if you want to maximize your profit.
- FlightView looks to users for state of in-flight WiFi and traveler experience
This study notes that 61% of respondents have used a mobile device to board a flight. As soon as I saw that statistic, I knew it could not be representative of the general population. The findings presented in this article can only be generalized to mobile FlightView users since the sample was entirely drawn from that population. Unfortunately we can learn little about the entire population of air travelers from this limited sample. This is the second traveltech article in as many weeks that presented misleading findings due to a non-representative survey sample. To be fair, the article doesn’t claim the study is representative of the general population, but neither does it give a disclaimer that is not. Anytime you see survey findings reported in general or industry press article, you should be skeptical and ask how the survey was conducted.
- Google using vector space math to aid in automated translation
Interesting approach that is also useful for natural language processing.