Friday, November 20, 2015

WTM London 2015: Three hot trends in global travel industry

WTM London continues to be a crowd-puller and a great networking platform and this year is no different for us. During the four days of the event hundreds of hoteliers, travel technology professionals from all around the world gathered at eRevMax stand TT550 to witness the launch of LIVE OS and I personally got chance to interact with them to discuss more about recent trends in the hospitality industry.

Here I find these are top three trends which are influencing the global travel industry at this moment.

Online Travel Leads the Way

Online travel channels (OTAs) continue to outpace other distribution channels, and the two giants Priceline and Expedia dominating the show by no small margin. According to a PhoCusWright estimate, close to 50% of the total OTA bookings are controlled by them. For Europe, the figure is even more skewed, with the duo controlling over 70% of the market. With smartphones and tablets in nearly every consumer’s hands today, bookings from this  channel is growing faster than any other channel, and currently accounts for 12.5% of overall bookings. By 2017, Euromonitor predicts that more than 30% of online travel bookings by value will be made on mobile devices. The emergence of mobile as a serious channel has also forced the hospitality industry to focus on a seamless experience for travellers as they switch devices on the road to purchase. The OTAs have been frontrunner, and with big hotel chains also joining in, it’s only a matter of time before the personalized marketing strategy becomes the norm for the hospitality industry.

Smart Travel is the new regular

As the travellers’ personal preferences are changing constantly hoteliers are also incorporating new technologies to transform the travel experience of their guests. Hotels are now investing on the big data analytics to identify future trends and changing preferences of customers. Analytics also provide a better sense of direction for the hotels to segment guests according to booking trends, behavior and other factors in order to reveal their likelihood to respond to promotions and emerging travel trends.

The understanding guest preferences, purchase behavior like frequency, length of stay, booking channel and profit potential are critical for hotels to increase the brand loyalty and upsell opportunity of their most valuable guests. Global hotel chains are already experimenting with personalized pricing based on customers’ online activity, preferences and predictive analytics. One of the challenges hotels face today is the dependence of multiple systems which produce own reports. A single platform, offering integrations of all technology solutions, and actionable intelligence based on data is the future. 


Hospitality industry is constantly evolving - this year we’ve seen big players have changed their business models. Now the travel giants are shifting from CPC (Cost per click) to CPA (Cost per action) model and this is welcomed by the hotel industry due to its cost effectiveness. Recently, TripAdvisor announced Instant Booking feature – now consumers can book their accommodations right from the TripAdvisor site without leaving the booking window. Google has also followed in the same footsteps of TripAdvisor, killing its metasearch site Google Hotel finder. Earlier last month, the search engine giant launched Google Hotel Ads Commission Program allowing hoteliers to take full control starting from a guest’s search process to the completed booking contrary to the OTAs. As in this new meta-OTA model, hotels only have to pay to Google after a successful booking this will help hoteliers to increase their revenue and lessen dependence on online travel agents.

Global Travel is Booming

Though the economic condition across the globe is uncertain due to rising geopolitical unrest, a potential US interest rate rise, oil price volatility and the Eurozone crisis, growth of travel industry were remain the same. In 2014 international tourist arrivals was 1.1 billion up by 4.3% and by the end of this year the figure will be slightly down. Despite recent economic slowdown travel expenditure is rising, with the Asia Pacific region predicted to see the fastest growth in inbound expenditure over the next five years.

The global hospitality industry has become more competitive in last five years. Organizations which are responding quickly to the technology led opportunities are creating new revenue streams and driving higher profits than ever before.

Image Credit: WTM Trends Report
**With inputs from PhoChusWright & Euro Monitor International

Claudia De Leo is the Sales & Marketing Manager at eRevMax. She can be reached at

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

WTM London: Launch of eRevMax’s Partner Program

WTM London continues to be a crowd-puller and a great networking platform and this year is no different for us. Over the next four days we'll be at WTM London, you can witness the launch of our next generation LIVE OS and Partner Program.

Hundreds of hoteliers, travel technology professionals gathered at eRevMax stand TT550 to witness the launch of LIVE OS and eRevMax Partner Program. Here are some glimpses of our stall at WTM on day 1.

The LIVE OS platform makes it easy for hotels to access the providers they work within one solution with single sign on.  The provider retains a stronger relationship with the hotel and gets the opportunity to reach out to thousands of hotels globally through the built in marketplace in LIVE OS.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

TTG Rimini: Three trends shaping the travel industry in Italy

The fifteenth edition of TTG Incontri took place at Incoming Hall, Italy. With over 2,400 exhibitors and more than 1,000 top-quality buyers representing 85 countries, the exhibition was a milestone for the travel and hospitality enthusiasts.

TTG Rimini Stats

I attended the event with my colleague Francesca Stagi to establish new contacts and generate new business in Italy. Thousands of hospitality and travel technology professionals from all around the world gathered under one roof to find new partners thus proving to be a meeting place between supply and demand. It was a great opportunity for us to understand new trends in Italian hospitality industry and pitching latest offerings from RateTiger.

Team eRevMax at TTG Rimini

Here are three trends I find the most important that are shaping Italian travel industry.

Influx of Inbound Tourists

Despite the slow economic progress, travel and tourism in Italy has seen a positive growth – thanks to influx of inbound tourists to the country. Italy is the third most popular destination in Europe in terms of tourist arrivals. In 2014, a whopping 48.6 million tourists crossed the borders to travel to the country and this number will only grow bigger this year thanks to a wide range of offers from hoteliers and online travel agents. This has made a positive impact in attracting large numbers of inbound tourists and the potential impact on Italian travel and tourism industry.

Mobile travel matters
While interacting with visitors and industry veterans in the exhibition, the one thing I observed is that the rise of mobile phones is the most prominent force behind the change of travel scenario in Italy. In particular, mobile transaction in travel generated a double digit value in 2014 led by widespread use of smartphones and tablets in Italy. Young and affluent travellers in the country are more comfortable with mobile apps and websites that forced the large number of hotels and online travel agents to use mobile as a channel to reach higher number of consumers.
Oh! Online travel is booming

Last but not the least; online travel agents in Italy are the largest source of revenue generator when we talk about online travel. is undoubtedly the king of online travel agents in Italy with 63% market share controlled by the OTA giant. Though three major OTAs (, Expedia and HRS) rule the country, emergence of new travel agents in the Italian market and the rise of peer-to-peer services is going to influence the travel scenario in future.

The event was the cornerstone for us to showcase our recent developments in RateTiger products. This was also an opportunity for us to meet new partners and we are excited to start collaborating with them!

Claudia De Leo is the Sales & Marketing Manager at eRevMax. She can be reached at

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Google’s direct commission-based bookings – 3 things hotels should know

Let’s demystify the big news from Google who has changed its business model for hotel bookings yet again! Google Hotel Finder has been silently sun-setted; Google is now pushing what it calls the Hotel Ads Commission Program. This is an attempt to enter the OTA space however shying away from being an intermediary; rather Google aims to be a facilitator of commission based bookings.

Contrary to the OTA models where the channel “owns” the guest relation, through Google Hotel Ads, hotels will be in full control starting from a guest’s search process to the completed booking. And most importantly, hotels only pay to Google for successful bookings.

Here are 3 things that you should know to make this new platform work for you -

More revenue for small and independent hotels

Everyday millions of people search for various destinations and hotels on Google - that means millions of potential guests for your hotel. In 2013, Google launched its cost-per-click model of Google Hotel Ads which small and independent hotels used to get more direct traffic to their website. But with this new commission-based model which is similar to TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking feature; Google aims to take out the complexity of the bidding process and charge hotels direct commissions only for completed bookings. This will help hotels confidently use Google as a distribution platform. With over 340 million monthly unique visitors, TripAdvisor’s Instant Booking feature has become a big hit and Google needed to widen its offering to stay in the game – which it has done now with this new development. It’s time for small independent hotels to take the first mover’s advantage and leverage Google’s huge audience base.

Converting guests within the same booking window

Today online consumers want quick information and simpler booking processes - which means they prefer to get information in one place instead of having to look around on different websites. In the Cost per click (CPC) model, guests are re-directed to the hotel website – which takes some time and ultimately frustrates the guest who might not complete the booking process. With the new book on Google, the search engine major facilitates the complete booking process within the same window without the guest having to visit the hotel website. The process is seamless between the hotel, Google and the guest. As soon as a booking is made, the hotel sends a booking confirmation email directly to the guest thereby owning the guest relationship from step one. The hotel also answers post-booking queries and handles changes to the reservation or cancellations.

Booking through multiple devices

Though mobile booking is growing exponentially among online travellers, desktop still holds number one position when it comes to hotel bookings. Perhaps this is the driving force behind Google’s move to launch this feature on desktop and tablet as well besides mobile devices- making it easier for more hotels to participate. Another interesting fact is travellers can avail information about hotel amenities within their search results. This added feature is an upsell opportunity for hoteliers to keep their potential guests updated on all the amenities that the hotel provides including Wi-Fi, free breakfast, parking availability, swimming pool, business centre etc.

With the exit of the Hotel Finder programme, Google is trying to reposition themselves as a ‘big brother’ in the travel industry – and is already becoming a threat to the online travel agents.

Image Credit: Google Blog

Friday, September 18, 2015

3 ways to incorporate TripAdvisor Reviews into your Booking Process

We all know TripAdvisor is the Google of Guest Reviews. It’s a dream for every hotelier to have great reviews for their property on TripAdvisor.

But what is the differentiator between highly rated hotels and their poor cousins?  What are the common factors among top performing hotels on TripAdvisor?

Well, research shows that top performing hotels are more engaged with their guests and receive nearly four times more page views on TripAdvisor than hotels that do not participate in the engagement programme. A TripAdvisor study in partnership with Atmosphere Research Group found how engaged hoteliers gain higher market visibility and drive more revenue based on data from 12,000 hotels in top 25 traffic markets on TripAdvisor, including interviews with executives from four global hotel chains.

In a world where everyone is a critic, user generated guest reviews have become commonplace. Today, hotel guests are more likely influenced by online reviews - 81% of travelers find user reviews important and a whopping 49% travellers change their booking decision after reading online reviews! These statistics establish the importance of managing guest feedback effectively to convert lookers into bookers.

TripAdvisor Review

Here are 3 essential tips that you can incorporate to increase your visibility on TripAdvisor and drive more bookings -

More engagement, better performance

As highlighted above, the research study found that highly engaged hotels perform better in terms of page visibility, popularity ranking and driving more business.  Two out of three travellers prefer properties that are termed highly engaged hotels on TripAdvisor.  So what actually does “highly engaged” hotel mean? How can your hotel be labelled as Highly Engaged Hotels on TripAdvisor? As per Atmosphere, if you actively participate on TripAdvisor’s Management Centre page and post at least 10 professional pictures of your property, you qualify to become a level one engaged property. But this is not the end. Your property page on TripAdvisor is your letter-box – you must have hotel contact information listed on your page so guests can contact your property directly. The more your property engages with your guests, the better your Popularity Ranking will be - highly engaged hotels see 30% to 40% more traveller interaction with revenue-driving products like Business Listings.

Don’t forget the “Virtuous Circle” of Guest Engagement

Your guests might be talking about their favourite dish or free Wi-Fi on your TripAdvisor page – do not take these conversations casually. Engage with them on these conversations, identify areas of improvement and leverage the positive comments - though this will need extra care from your guest review management team, but the returns can be pretty high. Once you improve hotel amenities based on your guest reviews, you can increase your property visibility on TripAdvisor. Javier Carazo, Senior Vice President, Operations and Quality, NH Hotel Group interviewed by Atmosphere Research Group pointed out that, “If you focus on getting reviews, you will see the positive results. You need to make it easy for your guests to post reviews.” Take corrective actions based on guest reviews as that would catapult your brand image on these review websites and showcase you care and concern for your guests and their feedback.

Encourage new Guests to write reviews

Getting reviews on TripAdvisor does not follow the “set and forget” rule. You might think that your guest had a fabulous stay at your property and will share his/her experience on TripAdvisor. In reality, this does not happen automatically - hotels should remind their guests to share their experience on TripAdvisor once they leave the hotel. TripAdvisor’s Review Collection Platform (RCP) sends an auto-generated reminder to guests post their stay asking them to write review for the hotel. You can also send an email directly to your guests to add a personal communication touch.

Hotels using TripAdvisor’s RCP system has seen an increase in reviews from 30% to 80% which led to 40% more page views. The challenge for hotels is not only getting multiple reviews but receiving high quality five star reviews. If used properly, TripAdvisor can be a huge channel for direct and assisted booking.

Lastly, most successful hoteliers welcome all guest reviews and use it for their advantage, either to increase their property visibility or improve their service. It is always advisable to ask every guest to write a review, embrace all opinions and your business will benefit at the end.

Image Credit: TripAdvisor

Friday, September 4, 2015

4 things to know about Halal Tourism

Gone are the days when we associate the term ‘Halal’ with food. Halal, meaning lawful or permitted under Islamic Law, today applies to all facets of life – starting from makeup to banking to tourism. The concept of halal tourism, which caters to nearly 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, is the fastest growing sector and excluding Hajj and Umrah, is set to surpass $230 Billion+ by 2020.

According to the Islamic Bank of Asia, Muslim tourists’ expenditure growth rate is expected to be at 4.79% per year through 2012–2020 vs the global rate of 3.8%. There are an estimated 45 million unique trips to the top 50 Muslim destinations annually excluding core religious travel and the Hajj/Umrah travel on its own is expected to be US$14 billion market by 2020.

Predictably Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates led the sector. However, given the size of the market it’s no wonder, countries like Singapore, Russia, China, France, Thailand and Italy have taken the early move to attract this vast population. In this article, we look into the key factors to target this segment.

Growing popularity of Halal Tourism

According to Wikipedia, Halal is any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in under Islamic Sharia. The term covers and designates not only food and drink but also all matters of daily life.

For a religious Muslim tourist, travel preferences include observance of their religious obligations such as daily prayers, modesty in clothing, cross-gender interactions and Halal food. Most halal tourists prefer to travel with family members, stay for a longer period and ultimately spend more money than any other niche. To meet the needs of this high-spending segment, global brands are adapting their services to include announcement of prayer times, gender segregated swimming pools and spa facilities, private holiday villas with high walls and religious programs in destinations frequented by Muslim travellers.

Muslim Travel on rise

The global Muslim population today stands at 1.8 billion currently, with 70% of global population growth over the next 30 years expected to take place in Muslim countries. Last year, Muslims spent an estimated US$126.1 billion on international travel, making up 12.3 percent of all international travel, according to a report on Muslim travel released jointly by consultancy DinarStandard and ratings agency Crescent Rating. By the end of 2020 Muslim international tourism will increase at a faster rate than the average rate for international tourism -- 4.79 percent versus 3.8 percent. If we take into account, the Islamic banking assets which currently stand at around US$2 trillion, it’s not surprising to see the recent attention to Halal tourism by the global travel brands.

Emergence of new market

Malaysia has been the pioneer to identify the opportunity in Halal Holidays, attracting over 6 million Muslim visitors last year. Malaysian Airlines, the national carrier was the first to introduce halal in-flight catering on board. However, Turkey, with its closer proximity to gulf countries has overtaken Malaysia to have emerged as the top destination for Halal holidays. According to the Muslim Travel Index Europe, released by Halal Tourism Conference, for Muslim holidaymakers, France is the most popular destination in the continent, with England and Italy tied close behind. Hotels are offering Arabic-speaking staff, Arabic television channels and rooms facing the direction of Mecca, along with prayer mats and halal food options.

Channels specializing Halal tourism

Cashing on the trend, in recent years online travel agencies specializing on Halal travel haven been steadily increasing in numbers., one of our channel partners, provides full holiday services in accordance with Islamic beliefs and practices.  The website is available in 6 languages, has advanced hotel search and book functionalities, provides 'Total Precise Family Pricing” and “Room Suitability” guarantees, and receives bookings from over 70 countries worldwide.

Other sites like Muslim Tripper, Islamic Travel, Halal Trip and Sun Sea & Halal are also catering to this segment. As travel industry takes note of this opportunity, it would be interesting how hotel operators adapt to claim their share of the pie.

Hisham Diab is Sales Director – Middle East & Africa at eRevMax. He can be reached at

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What’s new in metasearch?

It’s been almost a year since TripAdvisor has launched its instant booking facility. With Google Hotel Finder and Skyscanner following suit with similar booking forms, there is a definite shift in meta-landscape. As the lines between the hotel meta-search channels and online travel agencies get blurred, we look into the factors affecting this disruption.


When Kayak started offering booking on its website a few years back, questions were raised on the viability of the move. Come to year 2015, offering booking facility has become a trend. While Kayak and Hipmunk have partnered with OTAs to allow booking directly without leaving the site, Google and TripAdvisor are doing that in partnership with hotels. For independent and small properties struggling to keep up with mega budget metasearch marketing with bigger brands and OTAs, the direct booking facility allows them a fair chance to compete at a lower price. Since hotels pay only when a booking is made, they pay a commission, effectively making it a cost per acquisition.

From Price Comparison to Product Comparison

Metaseach began with the intention to give traveler a chance to compare prices. Traffic to metasearch sites has been increasing with over 36% of online travellers using these sites to get the best deal.  A PhoCusWright report shows that modern travellers checks close to 22 sites to ensure they get the best price for their accommodation needs. The report also shows that 54% of Chinese, 36% of American and 35% of British travelers use meta-search engines to compare rates. However, with OTAs starting to display competitor pricing, it was imperative for metasearch channels to reinvent. Sites like TripAdvisor and Google now provide results based on customer preference over lower price. For years OTAs and metasearch channels have been trying to make hotels believe that price is the single biggest influencer.  The recent focus brings the spotlight to back to the product. Clearly price has taken a backseat over product with a customized selection to an individual taste, based on their earlier search preferences. And as we all know, travel decision is more often based on some sort of magic mix of destination, timing, and social components (who you’re traveling with or to see).

It’s all about mobile monetization

Google has reported that search for hotels through mobile has grown over 49% between January – June, 2015, making it the most searched item across travel spectrum.  By next year, mobile devices will account for 27% of U.S. online bookings, up from just 10% in 2013, PhoCusWright predicted in a report released last year. The report also forecasted that mobile will account for 20% of online bookings in both Asia-Pacific and Europe next year.

With mobile booking rapidly growing in US, Europe and APAC, this makes sense to metasearch channels to offer booking capabilities, which allows users to book a hotel room while staying on the user-shell, thereby also taking them further down the booking funnel. This will result in encouraging more people to book on (from hotel seekers to hotel bookers), and therefore improve conversion rates and lift smartphone monetization levels.

Jan Murza is Director of Sales- Americas at eRevMax.  He can be reached at

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Top trends in Chinese travel industry

When it comes to travel, the China story never disappoints. Even as the recent fluctuations make business and economists jittery, online travel shows no signs of slowing down. In 2015, the country overtook USA to become the biggest source of international travel spending.

In an infographic released last year, we had identified changing behavioural pattern of Chinese travelers.  The increase in disposable income and rise of middle class has influenced the purchasing behaviour and travel decisions of young, educated and technologically skilled Chinese travelers. The rapidly growing middle class has evolved from value obsessed shopping destinations to  holiday experiences, with cost, safety, culture, vacation length and visa availability the top five factors influencing destination choice. With the economic confidence and matured preferences, there is a clear shift towards long-haul travel, higher-cost accommodations and upscale shopping.

Chinese Travellers

According to a recent report, Chinese travellers made over 67.5 million trips in 2014. With this figure expected to cross 97 million by 2023, there is little doubt why China is being considered as the biggest catalyst of global travel business growth. According to a Bank of America – Merrill Lynch report, 174 million Chinese tourists are estimated to spend $264 billion by 2019 compared to just 10 million tourists in 2000.

In this post, we try to identify key trends shaping the Chinese online travel boom.

Rise of independent travellers

Young, educated, affluent and tech-savvy - the Chinese Millennials, aged between 18-35, have emerged as one of the influencing segments. There are about 300 million of them, who earn more than their elders and their spending power looks set to increase further as their incomes rise over time. Highly aspirational, seeking brand name destinations for their vacations, Chinese Millennial Travellers (CMT) typically take four trips outside their country per year, twice as many as their other Asian peers.

Macau, Hong Kong and South Korea being the most popular destinations, CMTs are likely to spend avg. EUR1200 - more than double the average spend on domestic trips. They are also the most mobile savvy traveller, with 57% using their smartphone four to five times a day.

Travel goes online: Growth of mobile travel

Internet penetration in China is largely mobile driven, with over 89% of 640 million internet users accessing the web through mobile devices, the highest in world. Clearly, digital media and e-commerce have moved into the mainstream of Chinese Internet users’ lives with them spending about 1 billion hours online each day, more than double the daily total in the United States. A whopping 89% of travellers use smartphones to access websites and 45% of business travellers use mobile for travel arrangements. According to the latest Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) 2015 by®, half of all Chinese international travelers now use apps on their smartphones to plan and book trips, up from just 17 percent the year prior.

Chinese Millennial Traveller

Online review it matters

When it comes to booking decisions, Chinese travellers trust online reviews more than friends or families. The volume of reviews posted is growing at a staggering rate, and peer recommendations influence not only where travellers go, but also where they shop for travel products.  60% use online travel information sources compared to 37% who use offline sources. Another study by GfK and ForwardKeys highlights that around 52% travellers visit metasearch and online travel agent websites to get information about their preferred destination and accommodation.  The Internet is the primary source of travel planning with 95% of Chinese travelers beginning their search at Baidu, the 800lbs Gorilla of China Search. Popular Chinese travel blogs and social media sites like QZone, Weibo and WeChat have been playing an influencing role helping travellers seeking more ‘exotic’ holiday experiences.

As millions of Chinese nationals make their first international leisure trip, it is time for hoteliers to overcome the language barrier. A country where 89% people are using mobile devices and 57% bookings are coming from online medium, hotels need to have a clear digital strategy engaging Chinese travellers to drive greater footfall, encourage longer stays, and provide opportunities for unique experiences.

Christine Toh is Director of Sales-APAC at eRevMax.  She can be reached at

Image Credit: Alamy

Thursday, August 13, 2015

All you need to know about Amazon Destinations

As speculated, Amazon has announced its plan to expand its travel site, Amazon Destinations to new markets in North America. It now covers 35 cities in six metropolitan regions – namely the Southeast (Atlanta), Northern California (San Francisco), Texas and the Gulf Coast (Houston) etc. The site’s tagline, which says “Hit the Road, Book local getaways” make its intentions clear to be a place to book short trips.

Amzon Destination Home

I did a quick search on the site for 6 nights in October. Here’s what the result shows:

Amzon Destination Location

Clearly it’s not a last-minute deal site, neither a full-service OTA with flight search.

The new service is still a part of Amazon Local – the daily deal website which offers flash deals and discounts in the region. In fact, Amazon Local has been offering highly discounted deals on hotels for some time now. Skift, which has been extensively covering the development, has noted - what distinguishes the Amazon Destinations from its earlier avatar is that the new version gives hotels an opportunity to sell their published rates on an ongoing basis. When I checked the website of the top listed property, the published rate is in parity with what’s being shown in Amazon Destinations. Customers can also compare prices on different dates through Amazon Calendar to get the best deal.

Amazon destination

In sync with Amazon business model, which owns its user generated content, Amazon Destinations is letting customers post their reviews. Just like the e-commerce model, the hotel does not pay for listing, but shares a part of the payment as commission.
So is this just another channel for hotels to sell their inventories? Amazon has denied any ambition to become a serious player in the travel business. The launch of Amazon Destinations was a low key affair without any media announcement. Compared to Expedia, Priceline, TripAdvisor and Google, Amazon is a small player. However, given its heavy user traffic and extensive knowledge of customer purchasing behavior and preferences, it has all the advantages it takes to scale up quickly.

The World Travel & Tourism Council reports that Americans spent $458 billion in travel and tourism in 2014. According to a report by TechCrunch, 40% of all U.S. domestic leisure trips are short-term getaways of 1-3 nights, and many of these trips are to nearby, drivable destinations. That’s a sizable market, which Amazon is aiming at. At a time when two of the world’s biggest brands are turning serious with hotel bookings, the travel industry has to take note.

Jan Murza is Director of Sales- Americas at eRevMax.  He can be reached at