Why Hotels Need a Comprehensive Room Inventory and Pricing Strategy

Skift Take: A thorough revenue management strategy can be one of the most important steps a hotel can take to generate and optimize revenue.

— Dawn Rzeznikiewicz

In the highly competitive hospitality industry, it’s critical to assemble as much information as possible to make educated decisions: enter revenue management.

Put simply, hotel revenue management is selling the right room to the right customer at the right moment at the right price through the right channel. To be more specific, revenue management is a data-driven application consisting of three interdependent elements: customer, product, and price. The customer demand for a product is determined by price, which, in turn, is also influenced by demand. Meanwhile, the supply of a product is assumed to be limited and perishable. The objective of revenue management is to maximize future revenues by balancing both supply and demand.

Leveraging Every Metric

We are now at a point where big data is rapidly generated and collected. Additionally, data has become increasingly sophisticated in terms of variety, volume, and velocity. But while revenue management relies on a wide range of data, data alone is not enough.

A revenue manager must take many factors into consideration, such as changes in consumer behavior, the roles of various distribution channels, and the behavior of the competitive set. The revenue manager also needs to know how to create forecasts, use segmentation, and implement pricing models. Having an overall understanding of the property, the market, and where the property fits into the market allows a revenue manager to be proactive rather than reactive.

An Evolving Technological and Distribution Landscape

Revenue management strategies have changed rapidly over the last decade as technology has developed. The number of distribution channels has increased dramatically, influencing the way consumers research and purchase travel. Technology also offers new insights into consumer behavior and sentiment. A revenue manager’s job now is to analyze all available data to determine the tactics that will produce the greatest revenue and optimize room inventory.

Online travel agencies (OTAs) have become a somewhat unwelcome reality in the travel and hospitality industries. These channels are often a controversial topic and the subject of great animosity for hotels, but it’s critical to fully evaluate their advantages and disadvantages as a part of the overall revenue strategy.

While there’s often a higher cost for these bookings, the upside is that they provide valuable exposure that can drive bookings as well. In many cases, there’s no way this same level of exposure or bookings could be attained, whether directly or via lower-cost channels. But there are many things to consider when working closely with an OTA that go beyond increased bookings. Consumers are building strong brand loyalty and trust with OTAs, meaning that hotels are losing out on building these relationships.

Business Intelligence (BI)

Revenue management systems predict future demand trends, and BI systems can help explain the “why” behind the trends. Data collected from BI tools can help users understand the root of demand trends, allowing revenue managers to act while there’s still time to impact demand for a future arrival date.

For example, imagine a property with future demand generally lower than expected during a specific time period. This trend would first be predicted by demand forecasting, a revenue management process. The revenue manager could then make pricing decisions that optimize predicted revenue based on predicted demand. In the case of a shortfall in demand, the general trend would be for prices to fall. But dropping price is not always the right thing to do, and that’s where revenue management and business intelligence intersect.

The Impact of Alternative Accommodations

Airbnb is proving to be agile competition for traditional hotels, and inventory and pricing are being adjusted quickly to meet fluctuations in demand. The potential impact of this competition varies widely by hotel type and location, though boutique and lifestyle hotels in New York City and other urban centers are likely seeing the most competition. But given Airbnb’s continued rapid growth, no hotelier can afford to be complacent. Instead, they should arm themselves ahead of time in case they need to account for Airbnb in their market.

To determine how they should respond, revenue managers need access to good data that can help them assess the penetration of Airbnb in their market. This can be done by taking Airbnb revenue divided by hotel revenue at whatever level the data can be accessed, from the total market level down to the immediate locality.

Airbnb’s impact on hotel revenue is at its highest at times of peak demand—major events typically create an explosion in new listings. Complicating matters for revenue managers monitoring local Airbnb inventory is that these new listings tend to stay posted long after the event, even if they’re not active. Revenue managers must have a finger on the pulse of what’s going on in their market and understand the impact of events in the age of Airbnb.

Why Revenue is Everything

A comprehensive revenue management strategy can be one of the most important revenue generating initiatives available to a hotel. A successful approach requires a solid understanding of marketplace dynamics and general economic climate. Revenue managers need to have a clear picture of the competitive landscape as well as insight into consumer sentiment collected from social media and online review sites.

All of this information must be synthesized before revenue managers can leverage automation to forecast demand, develop dynamic pricing strategies, and successfully navigate the complex landscape of online distribution channels.

To learn more, download Rainmaker’s Guide to Revenue Management.

This content was created collaboratively by Rainmaker and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

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TripAdvisor to Notify Users About Discriminatory Hotels After Removing Reviews About Rape

Iberostar Paraiso Lindo

Iberostar Paraiso Lindo near Playa del Carmen was the subject of a rape allegation in a TripAdvisor review, but the site deleted it because it supposedly violated its ‘family friendly’ guidelines at the time.
Iberostar Paraiso Lindo

Skift Take: TripAdvisor let down its users when it deleted reviews about rape allegations, although there has to be a balance between allegations and verified facts. We look forward to seeing TripAdvisor appending online badges next to hotels that are prone to violence and discrimination.

— Dennis Schaal

TripAdvisor defended its policies Thursday on reviews that contain allegations of rape or other crimes, in response to a published report that quoted several users who claimed such postings were deleted.

Several people told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel they were sexually assaulted at Mexican hotels and resorts, but when they mentioned the crimes in their online reviews, those reviews were taken down.

One woman said she was raped by a security guard at a Mexican resort, but when she wrote about the attack on TripAdvisor in 2010 to warn other travelers, the post was deleted.

The Needham, Massachusetts, company, which hosts hundreds of millions of user reviews of tourist attractions and businesses around the world, said some reviews were taken down at the time because they were found to be in violation of the company’s “family friendly” policies that required language in reviews to essentially be G-rated.

The company said those polices were relaxed a few years ago to allow reviews that included firsthand accounts of crimes. It reposted the woman’s review last month.

“We believe any firsthand experience should be posted to our site as a means to communicate to other consumers looking for information on where they should travel,” the company said in a statement. “We are horrified that this victim experienced this assault on her vacation in Mexico, and other travelers should be aware of this incident.”

Another review was reposted after it was rewritten to meet guidelines.

TripAdvisor does not only post reviews, it also generates revenue when users book trips through its website. But the company denied that negative reviews are deleted because they may hurt the company’s bottom line.

“It is simply untrue to suggest that because we enforce publishing guidelines that we are attempting to sweep these horrific events under the rug to help our hotel partners or advertising partners look better,” company spokesman Brian Hoyt said in an email to The Associated Press on Thursday.

There are a number of reviews on TripAdvisor that mention crimes, even rapes, Hoyt said. A search found several instances of reviews alleging crimes.

“These instances of assault or theft are important, and we are working to vet these posts in real time to help get information like this published for other travelers to see,” he said.

The company is also starting what it calls a “badge” notification system to alert travelers to serious safety, health or discrimination issues at hotels and other businesses based on news reports. The system should be launched before the end of the year, company spokesman Kevin Carter said.

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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HNA Group May Want to Sell Its Stake in a Spanish Hotel Company

Qilai Shen  / Bloomberg

The HNA Group building in Beijing. Analysts are suggesting that HNA Group might be better of selling its minority stake in NH Hotel Group. Qilai Shen / Bloomberg

Skift Take: Changes in China look to be curbing the spending power of HNA Group, making it much harder for the conglomerate to take full control of NH Hotels. A sale in this case would make sense with acquisition-hungry AccorHotels touted as a likely suitor.

— Patrick Whyte

HNA Group Co.’s precarious grip on a $2.2 billion Spanish hotel company is in doubt as a mountain of debt comes due and China puts the squeeze on its most prolific acquirers.

The Chinese conglomerate, whose assets include a quarter of Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., owns about 30 percent of Madrid-based NH Hotel Group SA. But HNA is in Spanish limbo: its directors have been booted off the board in a shareholder revolt, while Beijing’s crackdown on overseas deals would obstruct any buyout that could bring NH Hotel to heel. Analysts anticipate a sellout.

A sale of HNA’s stake, which has a market value of more than 550 million euros ($641 million), might attract European hotel operators or real-estate funds, according to Oddo & Cie. The Spanish company’s inventory of almost 60,000 hotel rooms — stretching from New York to Luxembourg to Shijiazhuang, China — would appeal to Accor SA, making the French rival the most obvious suitor, according to Bankinter Securities SV SA.

“HNA is better off selling the stake in NH,” said Todd Schubert, head of fixed-income research at Bank of Singapore Ltd. “As a 30 percent owner, they really don’t have any control. By selling they would both get rid of an asset that is somewhat of a public-relations problem while also raising some much-needed liquidity.”

Proceeds from the sale could ease the conglomerate’s refinancing pressure. After the once little-known airline operator went on a debt-fueled acquisition spree — with more than $40 billion of purchases announced since the beginning of 2016 — its interest expenses bloated to 15.6 billion yuan ($2.4 billion), exceeding earnings before interest and taxes. HNA just sold China’s most expensive short-term dollar bond ever, highlighting concerns among investors about its high financial leverage.

NH Hotel, which operates about 400 properties in 30 countries, was losing money when HNA invested in 2013. After a debt refinancing, NH Hotel returned to profit in 2015 and expects to generate net income of 100 million euros in 2019, according to targets announced in September. Shares of NH Hotel climbed as much as 1 percent in Madrid on Friday before surrendering those gains.

But after HNA extended its hotel-buying spree, the Spanish alliance unraveled. NH Hotel investors ousted HNA’s four board representatives in June 2016, claiming they were conflicted because HNA also agreed to buy competitor Rezidor Hotel Group AB. In September, a Spanish court reaffirmed that putsch.

That decision left the Chinese conglomerate, even as NH Hotel’s largest investor, with no say in how the business is run.

Simultaneously, HNA — which also owns about 10 percent of Deutsche Bank AG — is being reined in by Chinese authorities. They’ve put hotel investments on a list of restricted deals as President Xi Jinping clamps down on mounting debt and capital outflows to protect the yuan.

As Europe’s largest hotel operator and the owner of the Novotel, Ibis and Mercure brands, Accor may be interested in HNA’s stake, said Javier Hombria Gestoso, an analyst at Bankinter Securities in Madrid. He described Accor as “the primary suspect in terms of public companies” that could emerge as buyers.

Accor and NH Hotel both focus on business travelers, and NH Hotel could broaden Accor’s European footprint, said Fehmi Ben Naamane, an analyst at Oddo & Cie in Paris. Accor also expects to raise more than 4 billion euros from selling a stake in its HotelInvest property unit.

“Accor could be a good fit for NH,” Naamane said.

There’s also scope for an investment fund that’s focused on real estate to pursue HNA’s stake, then later spin off the property component. Either way, any buyer of HNA’s stake probably would make an offer for the rest of NH Hotel, Naamane said.

HNA declined to comment, while representatives at NH Hotel and Accor didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Rival hotel groups also may be interested. El Confidencial reported in September that Spain’s Barcelo Hotels & Resorts had hired Banco Santander SA to assess a possible merger with NH Hotel.

To be sure, HNA may prefer to wait things out rather than sell. The conglomerate’s ultimate goal may be to merge its Brussels-based Rezidor hotel group with NH Hotel: Rezidor said last year it planned to study such a union as part of a plan to turn Rezidor into a global hotel chain. Such a combination “seems justifiable,” said Guilherme Sampaio, an analyst at Banco BPI SA.

But HNA first would need to overcome both NH Hotel shareholders and opposition in Beijing.

Plus, an exit from NH Hotel would unravel the Chinese company’s maiden overseas hotel acquisition — in an industry that’s become one of its core investment areas.

“HNA needs to do something,” said Nigel Stevenson, an analyst at Hong Kong-based GMT Research. “It could engineer a takeover by another company, enabling it to exit at a premium.”

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Prudence Ho and Lianting Tu from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Air France-KLM Joins Rivals in Adding Distribution Surcharge

Air France

An Air France A340. Parent company Air France-KLM is introducing a distribution surcharge in 2018. Air France

Skift Take: Air France-KLM had hinted at adding a distribution surcharge as far back as 2015, so the announcement doesn’t come as a surprise. What it does tell us is that airlines are increasingly confident that the positives of introducing such a fee outweigh any negatives.

— Patrick Whyte

Air France-KLM will follow the likes of Lufthansa and British Airways in adding a surcharge on sales made through the global distribution systems.

The change, which had long been suggested, is part of what the airline group is calling a “new distribution strategy”, which will see it take back more control of how it sells its products. This will involve more personalized offers, greater content and dynamically built product bundles.

The new surcharge will start on April 1, 2018. Like other big players in the industry, Air France-KLM wants make more use of airline body IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC), a set of technology standards that will help airlines connect with travel agents and in effect bypass third party distributors such as Sabre and Amadeus.

There will be no charge for travel agency sales made through NDC or through any of the airline group’s direct channels.

Loyalty Upgrade

Meanwhile, the company is also planning a “complete re-engineering” of its loyalty programme Flying Blue. The full changes will be announced on November 6 but Air France-KLM is promising customers “more simplicity and flexibility, a clearer earning scheme, more options to spend their miles on flights and flight-related services.”

Q3 Performance

Air France-KLM has continued its impressive turnaround with a solid set of third-quarter results.

Pre-tax profit during the period rose by 13 percent to $850 million (€730 million). Revenue increased by 4.3 percent to $8.4 billion (€7.2 billion).

Jean-Marc Janaillac, the company’s Chief Executive, said: “The strong operating performance achieved by the Group in the third quarter reflects a sustained execution on our strategic priorities, as well as a robust business environment translated into solid traffic and unit revenue trends. We continued to move forward notably with the expansion of our network of strategic alliances and the implementation of a new distribution model.”

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The Calculated Faux Marketing of Premium Air Travel

Delta Air Lines

Marketers sometimes use over-the-top unrealistic imagery to tout their products. Pictured is a utopian image of the Delta One Suite. Delta Air Lines

Skift Take: The lenses through which we view the travel ecosystem are often heavily distorted. The first step toward countering it is acknowledgement.

— Colin Nagy

It can be fascinating — and frustrating — to see how premium airline products get marketed, how the media covers launches, and the ever-increasing role of influencers in propagating brand messages through perfectly stylized Instagram posts.

But, as media and platforms grow more complex, it is also worth dissecting the lenses that we use to view the travel industry, and this dynamic, in particular. Sometimes they can be incredibly distorted without us really paying too much thought.

Ben Schlappig, who writes the blog One Mile at a Time, travels around the world reviewing some of the best products in the sky. It is a clever mousetrap he has created from a blog replete with affiliate links to mileage bonus credit cards; the ability to game ever-tightening points and loyalty systems, and generally operate at a level that others can’t.

Schlappig is one of the most objective reviewers of these products around. He knows his subject matter, and is above the “freebie fray.” He is thoughtful about service design, and the hard product, as well as nearly every element of the brand. His is obsessive coverage of an entire ecosystem, and worth reading if you care where you allocate your travel spend.

In a recent post, Schlappig argued that most of the media coverage of first class products is basically fake. The people writing the reviews and the rankings often haven’t actually flown the products. They use beautiful, marketing-produced images, and adhere to bullet points provided by public relations departments.

An Esquire Review That Lacked Critical Thought

A recent piece commissioned by Esquire finds Dwight Garner breathlessly praise Emirates after being upgraded to first class. Sure, the product is decadent —world class even — and there’s nice champagne. But there was also no critical thought in the piece, something that you would expect from a publication with journalistic bonafides like Esquire.

Here was a journalist neutered of the thought and objectivity that journalism should be about in a storied publication, gaffawing about bubbly, lobster and a live orchid in the cabin, replete with mile high club references. It is as if the lack of oxygen created a thought vacuum. I’m not calling out any impropriety; let people enjoy their upgrades as they get them. However, it did seem like yet another echo in the chamber of how these products are discussed in the media.

Casey Neistat’s Annoying Reviews

Don’t get me started about Casey Neistat’s annoying reviews of top carriers, and his insistence that it is sheer luck and coincidence he is being upgraded on these flights. The kabuki dance goes on. Brands know exactly what they are doing, and 50 million views later, the hard yards of a full scale marketing campaign have been run. Let’s not pretend it this is entirely organic and free-spirited. It is very calculated to the bone.

Also, as more digital publications pivot to video, they realize it is hard and expensive to produce the type of content that people want to see. The solution? Lean heavily on nicely produced b-roll provided by brands’ marketing and communications departments.

Case in point: This is a hacked together Business Insider slide show about a new Delta product using perfect brand imagery. Sure, sometimes there is the question of expediency, or showing a product that isn’t in service yet, but when you extrapolate this tactic out a bit, it can distort the lens significantly.

Omnipresent Influencers

Elsewhere, influencers are omnipresent in travel today. And while at one point they may have represented an interesting form of conversational media, one gets the sense that things have tilted out of whack. It is a pay-to-play medium, where people are getting insane amounts of travel comped, and celebrity treatment all for a few Instagram posts.

Brands need to start looking a bit closer at what these tactics are actually providing for them, as it would seem there are diminishing returns and falsely inflated numbers. But when you see the marketing recap slides in a presentation, the superficial number with lots of zeros behind it seems to satiate less-savvy marketing executives.

No bother if the influencers audience skews heavily on 16 year olds in a far-off country. Also, their output also distorts the lens, as it is hugely stylized.

Faux Fare Mistakes

This isn’t just media and marketing. A friend confided to me that some carriers are staging faux “fat finger” fare sales. Where marketing and pubic relations are spun up across the travel ecosystem to make it seem like there is a mistake fare. When it reality it has been incredibly calculated.

Travel is one of the most vibrant, incredibly industries. It is a pleasure to think about and cover. But more critical thought is needed from the entire ecosystem if it is to be made truly efficient, and for consumers to reward the best brands, places, products, and services with their hard-earned dollars and euros.

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Using Social Media to Build Your Brand 

We are sorry to say that if you aren’t using social media in your marketing plan, you are behind the times. And if you are using social media, we are sorry to say that you are probably doing it wrong. Although social media use is an extremely powerful tool in a marketing arsenal, it is not a cure-all and […]

The post Using Social Media to Build Your Brand  appeared first on VRM Intel.

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Virgin Voyages Sharpens Its Focus With Adult-Only Cruise Plan

Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages has announced that its first ship will be adult-only. A rendering of the ship is shown here. Virgin Voyages

Skift Take: One of the buzz phrases in the cruise industry for the past couple of years has been “multigenerational cruising.” Virgin Voyages sees an opportunity in keeping one generation off its inaugural ship.

— Hannah Sampson

Bucking a cruise industry trend, newcomer Virgin Voyages says it has no interest in catering to families with kids — at least for its first ship.

The operator, set to launch its first ship in 2020, announced the “Adult By Design” concept which will only allow passengers who are 18 and older. The announcement came this week during a ceremony marking the start of construction for the vessel, the first of three on order. The company also said 86 percent of cabins would have a balcony and 93 percent would have an ocean view.

“Virgin Voyages is creating a sophisticated ship and a transformational experience that offers our sailors a place where rejuvenating day-life meets exciting nightlife and everything in between,” president and CEO Tom McAlpin said in a statement.

In an online post, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson suggested that the adult-only policy would be in place across a board: “We’ve decided our ships should be ‘Adult by Design’ as we’re all about relaxation, rejuvenation and fun.”

A spokeswoman said no decision had been made about ages that would be allowed on the other ships yet.

Virgin Group announced it was forming the cruise line, originally called Virgin Cruises, in 2014 in a venture with private equity firm Bain Capital.

At the time, executives promised to “make waves” and refresh what they saw as a vacation model ripe for an update.

When the company announced plans to order three new ships in 2015, president and CEO Tom McAlpin said input from the cruising public would be essential.

“How can we design your ideal ship, your most irresistible vacation ever?” he said. “We’re committed to taking people on that journey with us.”

That feedback from cruisers and travel agents “who are looking for a more elevated and premium experience” contributed to the decision to create a ship for adults, the company said.

While smaller ships in the high-end, luxury, and expedition spaces typically cater to adults without explicitly forbidding children, operators of larger ships with mass-market appeal have been seeking ways to attract more family groups. The Cruise Lines International Association has been promoting multigenerational cruising as a key growth area.

Virgin Voyages, with ships designed for about 2,700 passengers, falls between those small and large categories. Not much else is known about the onboard experience, but it seems unlikely the company will invest in the kind of activities that other cruise lines have introduced such as rock climbing walls and waterslides. Recently, Royal Caribbean International even announced that its newest ship would include an “ultimate family suite” with features including a slide connecting two floors, a popcorn machine, and air hockey table.

“The fastest growing part of our business is actually family travel,” Royal Caribbean Cruises CEO Richard Fain said at Skift Global Forum last month. “Once we get those children, we own the parents and the grandparents because they have such a good time on the cruise.”

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Airbnb Rival Xiaozhu Raises $120 Million: Travel Startup Funding This Week


Xiaozhu, a China-based house-sharing platform, raised $120 million in funding. Xiaozhu

Skift Take: The moneyed set looked East this week as China had its second travel unicorn, Xiaozhu, receive a billion-dollar valuation, following in the footsteps of its rival, Tujia, China’s first travel unicorn. Meanwhile, Ctrip bought Trip.com

— Sean O’Neill

Each week we round up travel startups that have recently received or announced funding. The total raised this week was more than $201 million.

Earlier this week, GetYourGuide, the tours and activities marketplace, raised a $75 million round led by Battery Ventures, as the company shifted the emphasis of its pitch from striving to be the largest database of activities to becoming a mobile travel companion that offers recommendations based on deep tech.

Also earlier this week, China’s largest online travel agent, Ctrip, bought Trip.com, a startup formerly known as Gogobot and that had raised $39 million. The companies did not disclose the terms.

>>Xiaozhu, the Chinese home-sharing site, has received $120 million in funding. Yunfeng Capital, run by famous investor Jack Ma, led the investment. Joy Capital, Morningside Ventures, and Capital Today also participated in the Series E round.

The funding placed a more than $1 billion valuation on the company. Founded in 2012, the startup raised about $265 million, to date.

Unlike local rival Tujia.com, which focuses on professionally managed properties, the Beijing-based startup is more like the original peer-to-peer short-term rental model that Airbnb pioneered.

Kelvin Chen Chi, Xiaozhu.com’s chief executive and co-founder last November, told ChinaTravelNews that the marketplace is not yet profitable but will probably turn a profit next year.

Bloomberg reported earlier this year that a year ago Airbnb held meetings to acquire Xiaozhu but supposedly dropped the idea because the site’s average properties lacked high-end appeal.

>>Criton Apps, which makes mobile apps for hotels and serviced apartments, has raised a $6.5 million investment. The name of the private investor was not disclosed.

Criton said that its software moves all guest-facing information on to a mobile app, which combines destination guides with guest and property management information, geo-fenced, or location-based promotions, and messaging.

Julie Grieve, founder and CEO of Criton Apps, said: “We believe the future of travel and hospitality tech is on the guest’s own device, where they can use their own phone or tablet to check-in, access their room, and operate in-room appliances using the power of the Internet of Things.”

Criton runs out of CodeBase incubator in Edinburgh and the TravelTech Lab working space in London. It has six employees.

Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.

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The Race to Capture Unmanaged Business Travelers — Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report


An attendant stands inside a high-speed train during an organized experience trip from Beijing to Zhengzhou, as part of a new rail line, December 22, 2012. Reuters

Skift Take: Upside hopes working with The Wall Street Journal will attract high-yield and repeat business travelers to its service. We’ve seen before that media-linked booking sites rarely have staying power. As a customer-acquisition move, though, it could pay off.

— Andrew Sheivachman

The Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report is our weekly newsletter focused on the future of corporate travel, the big fault lines of disruption for travel managers and buyers, the innovations emerging from the sector, and the changing business traveler habits that are upending how corporate travel is packaged, bought, and sold.

As startups like Upside and Lola vie against industry incumbents like Concur Hipmunk for the wallets of the lucrative, unmanaged- business-traveler segment, acquiring repeat customers is crucial.

Upside is partnering with The Wall Street Journal on a booking site aimed at high-yield, unmanaged business travelers in order to try and solve that challenge.

We spoke to Upside founder Jay Walker about the tie-up, and he was excited about the collaboration between the two brands.

“There is a deep shift from a transaction model to a relationship model mediated by the mobile phone,” Walker told Skift. “The Wall Street Journal is saying we’re in the pole position for tens of millions of business travelers. If we can engage those people in value-added service relationships, that will be ours to win as opposed to [transaction-focused groups] who have to invest in a service relationship.”

As we reflected in our write-up, only time will tell if the Upside product resonates with business travelers. For all the talk of the unmanaged business traveler craving enhanced personal service, we have yet to see the wider market move in that direction. Perhaps business travelers have become inured to the lack of control when they book online; perhaps they’re ready for a change. At least they now have options besides traditional self-booking.

This week we also took a look at new research from the Global Business Travel Association on how travelers pay for their work trips. Corporate credit cards remain the name of the game, while very few travelers use virtual cards.

Given the myriad mobile-payment solutions out there, it’s surprising more forward-looking companies haven’t experimented with different methods to make life easier for travelers while increasing visibility and control over spending.

— Andrew Sheivachman, Senior Writer

Business of Buying

Wall Street Journal Launches Online Travel Site Powered by Upside: Upside is trying to reach a more high-yielding audience of business travelers through its partnership with The Wall Street Journal. Whether the Upside experience ends up resonating with its users over the long term is another story. Read more at Skift

Qantas Plans Overseas Expansion Which May Put Its Profits at Risk: Qantas’ stock market valuation tends to rise when it cuts back on capacity growth, and vice versa. Executives wanting to add full-service international flights may need to prove the flights will lead to a winning long-term strategy. Read more at Skift

Qatar Under Blockade Is a Mix of Time-Sucking Layovers and a Fascinating Crossroads: While much of the news media focuses on bigger-picture geopolitical issues emanating from the Saudi-led blockade, it is actually the small constrictions that can be the most painful in Qatar. But, despite increased travel friction, Doha remains one of the most intriguing places in the world at the moment. Read more at Skift

A Majority of Avid U.S. Travelers Have Never Used Airbnb: Despite Airbnb’s precipitous growth in the travel industry, our latest survey results show that the company still has lots of room for growth among U.S. travelers. Read more at Skift

Safety + Security

Flyers Headed to U.S. Face Verbal Screening and Confusion: So far, the enhanced screening procedures implemented on all U.S. international arrivals seem fairly painless. We’ll see how things go for flyers as the busiest travel period of the year approaches. Read more at Skift

Can Technology Make Meetings and Events Safer?: It’s not something a lot of people want to think about, but with large gatherings increasingly becoming a target for violent attacks, meeting and event planners have to step up their security tools and protocols. Read more at Skift

Disruption + Innovation

Expedia CEO on Blockchain and Competitive Threats: Expedia Inc. seems ready to further develop existing brands like HomeAway in 2018. An opportunistic acquisition or two might also take place, but CEO Okerstrom says he’s focusing on organic growth from companies already in Expedia’s portfolio. Read more at Skift

Business Travelers Rarely Use Virtual Payments In Another Sign of Companies’ Slow Adoption: Most companies still give their business travelers corporate cards or ask them to pay upfront for later reimbursement. Given the rapid development of mobile and virtual payment methods for consumers, corporate travel is lagging behind yet again. Read more at Skift

SpiceJet Is Buying Seaplanes to Reach Indian Areas That Other Airlines Can’t: Most of India’s 450 airstrips are too decrepit for big planes. So SpiceJet’s likely plan to buy 100 amphibious planes to reach otherwise hard-to-serve areas sounds like a puddle-jump worth taking. Read more at Skift

Sabre Stays Profitable After Layoffs as the Company Vows to Become Nimbler: Investors liked Sabre’s third quarter revenue and profit report. But the verdict is still out on whether the company is relying on cheap fixes like layoffs to hit its targets or if it is laying the groundwork for sustainable growth. Read more at Skift


Skift editors Hannah Sampson [hs@skift.com] and Andrew Sheivachman [as@skift.com] curate the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

Subscribe to Skift’s Free Corporate Travel Innovation Report

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SkyRun Vacation Rentals Owner Barry Cox: Finding a Competitive Edge in Today’s Vacation Rental Market

I’ve lived in the mountains of Colorado for seventeen years now, a transplant from the East Coast by way of the Midwest. Given that winter is coming, a snow metaphor is appropriate. When you’re skiing or boarding down a mountain, in order to turn you need to be able to tip your skis or snowboard up […]

The post SkyRun Vacation Rentals Owner Barry Cox: Finding a Competitive Edge in Today’s Vacation Rental Market appeared first on VRM Intel.

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

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