Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Is TripAdvisor turning into an OTA with its Instant Booking Model?

TripAdvisor has recently unveiled their direct booking feature, which offers users the option to book hotels within its site. Officially called TripConnect Instant Booking, this function has already created a lot of buzz in the industry.
I attended a session at WTM, where TripAdvsior gave a rough sketch on how the model works.  This will allow users to research, compare, choose and now book hotels, in other words, complete the buying journey while staying within TripAdvisor user experience.

This is a major shift in TripAdvisor’s revenue model, which earlier relied on advertising. Only last year, the travel giant had revealed its meta-search service, where a supplier  uses TripConnect CPC (cost-per-click) to place bids to appear in the price and availability search results. With the new model, TripAdvisor has introduced a commission based ‘bidding model’, where suppliers like OTAs, hotels, GDSs bid on a commission percentage they are willing to pay.
The basic difference between the CPC and Instant Booking model is that for the former, partners bid via cost-per-click for the top positions, and pay when users click on that link, whereas in the new model, they pay TripAdvisor a commission once the user completes their stay.  In the earlier model, suppliers required bid management strategy to be on top position, and directing traffic would not necessarily lead to conversion. The Instant Booking gives them 100% return on investment; in addition they will own the data, can view traveller profile and be the pointof sale collecting the payments.
If it reminds you of the traditional OTA model, you are absolutely right. But does that mean TripAdvisor is aspiring to be an OTA? According to analysts, this is an extremely smart move by TripAdvisor to improve monetization of its mobile channel.  The site gets around 110 million monthly unique visitors, about 40% of its total traffic, but accounts for less than 20% of desktop when it comes to monetization.
With mobile booking rapidly growing in US, Europe and APAC, Instant Booking, which allows users to book a hotel room while staying on the TripAdvisor user-shell will encourage more people to book, and therefore improve conversion rates. To make it more attractive for partners, TripAdvisor is using the Top Position of it search result and extending Premium Certification to enjoy benefits like tradeshow and online promotion to those signing up for this programme.
For independent hotels struggling to improve position in a channel where big OTAs with larger marketing spends typically dominate, this can be a golden opportunity to get direct bookings at a lower cost per acquisition, and to increase distribution on distressed inventory or increase direct bookings in low periods through improved mobile booking experience.
Choice Hotels International, Best Western, GetaRoom.com, Amoma, Tingo and GDS operator Travelport have already signed up for this programme.  In fact for TripAdvisor, Travelport’s listings for 580,000 hotels worldwide, including 480,000 non-branded properties and 150,000 e-commerce enabled listed properties can be the biggest coup for this program.

Presently pilot testing on global Mobile and certain US desktop IP addresses, the program is expected to be globally rolled out early 2015. With Google Hotel Finder also testing Buy Now in the UK market, does this indicate a new trend to look out for in 2015? It certainly looks so!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Amazon’s entry to online travel – is that disruption?

As if the entries of Google and TripAdvisor were not enough disruption, we now have Amazon which is entering into hotel distribution. So while buying your books and what nots, you can now go and buy a hotel room from the retail GIANT!
Amazon Local currency has already been selling some limited and wholesaler type hotel programs for a while now. But that was more of a distressed sale kind of an approach they were taking. With the new model, Amazon is asking hotels to publish their rates and availability for a longer period. For hotels, this means hotels can push full price inventories in the peak season, and of course offer discounts when they are desperate.
Does that mean Amazon is now seriously entering into travel services a la Google?  Travel analysts apparently think so.  Expedia CEO has already ‘welcomed Amazon into the party’.
Truth is, as Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says, travel today is a trillion dollar global industry. And everyone wants to take a share of the pie. That is why we are seeing TripAdvisor making serious entry to commission based model through TripConnect Instant booking. Wait for Google to make the next move.
Are these changes going to make it more complicated for hoteliers? In my opinion, Amazon, with its marketing capabilities, can become a serious alternative for independent and small hotels. What about TripConnect and Google Direct booking, when they are launched globally?

But as always, your success depends on how well you manage your booking channels. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Italy based travel agency announces partnership with eRevMax

Italy based global travel services provider Seneca Travel Affair has joined the eRevMaxChannel Ecosystem to provide RateTiger Suite, the industry leading integrated channel manager for rate and availability updates, rate shopping and reservation delivery to its hotel customers.

eRevMax is the perfect online distribution partner for our business needs, and with this alliance we will be able to provide our hotel customers the best in class technology to streamline their online distribution.  RateTiger’s automated rate and inventory distribution and rate shopping capabilities complements our proprietary technology platform Xenia making it a one stop solution for hoteliers to manage online sales,” said Ercolino Ranieri, CEO, Seneca Travel Affair.


Seneca Travel Affair provides business travelers and hotels, benchmarking and expense management, self-booking tools, web services, interfacing to proprietary platforms or third-party reporting matrices.





Friday, November 21, 2014

Leading Channels of South America connects with eRevMax Channel Eco System for upgraded connectivity

Leading online booking channels of South America CVC, MalaPronta.com and several others have integrated with eRevMax for seamless connectivity to its growing base of customers in the region.

Our integration with eRevMax will help our hotel partners update rates and inventory in our sales channels in real-time, enabling us to bring the best offers to our customers. This integration will also connect us to eRevMax’s Hotel Ecosystem for improving our global inventory supply,” said Cristiane Belotti, On-line Product Manager at CVC.

Alicia Ribas, Operations Manager at MalaPronta.com also adds “This integration is aligned with our commitment to deliver the fastest and most trusted user experience. This will help our hotel partners to further reduce their time to update rates and availabilities while automating reservation delivery directly into their PMS.”


Following this integration with eRevMax accommodation providers connected to these channels can update Availability, Rate & Inventory (ARI) updates and receive bookings generated by these channels directly into their property management system via eRevMax solutions.


Read Full story here