Travel Gamification – How to Save Money Booking Hotels

Consumers wanting to save money booking hotels need to learn how to play the game. The best way to save money on hotel bookings is to use a simple process that includes searching Hotwire and Priceline before aggressively rebidding on Priceline exploiting a major rebidding loophole. It seems the hotel industry itself is an active participant in the game and somewhat unintentionally provides the reward and positive reinforcement that incent consumers to abandon hotel brands and seek the best deals in a commoditized purchase process.

A Faster Way to Search Google Flights – Cut and Paste

Google Flight search provides incredibly fast search air fare results by leveraging technology acquired through the ITA Software acquisition. While not yet supporting flight routing outside of the US, it provides many interesting new features. By copying the URL/query string text into a Chrome browser, experienced travelers can experience Google Flights searches with unprecedented speed and efficiency.

What are Most Trusted Sources for Hotel Reviews and Ratings?

Hotel reviews and ratings are a popular topic of discussion, with many hoteliers relying on hotel rating sources to validate the quality of their hotel operation and promote it to a broad spectrum of travelers that would otherwise have been too difficult to reach. A key question asked by this survey is what source does a traveler trust most when it comes to hotel reviews and ratings.

Snippets and Factoids from Henry Harteveldt’s OpenTravel Presentation

Henry Harteveldt’s keynote address to the OpenTravel Alliance North American Advisory Forum warned an audience of travel industry distribution executives that

2010 Unsuspecting Travel Hero and Travel Zero Awards

Enterprise Rent-a-Car’s Seattle location received the 2010 Unsuspecting Travel Hero Award for providing a completely unexpected, pleasant, efficient and highly personalized experience with the typically mundane task of picking up an off-airport rental car. In a year highlighted by stays in luxury hotels, flying first class and endless discussions of how travel experiences can be improved, it is obvious that great service delivery and exceeding customer expectations still reigns supreme. Recognized for undermining its fundamental brand promise by gutting its hotel ratings policy, Hotwire received the 2010 Unsuspecting Travel Zero Award. Hotwire’s new hotel ratings criteria not only replaces formerly clear and detailed descriptions with ambiguous and nonsensical drivel, but creates loopholes for the company to sneak lower quality hotels into higher categories. Hotwire’s leaders should be ashamed of confusing what they apparently thought was cleverness with outright customer hostility.

Hotwire Breaks Brand Promise by Gutting Rating System

Hotwire has undermined its brand promise by removing the specific criteria from its hotel ratings used to differentiate hotel classifications. Additionally, by benchmarking hotels using competitive online travel sites with incompatible rating scales, Hotwire may inaccurately classify hotels. In the example provided, Hotwire staunchly defends its flawed rating process for a hotel that it rates higher than sister websites Expedia, and TripAdvisor. Worse yet, these policies and processes have caused them to lose their customer service focus.

Mad as Hell About Airline Fees – How Hidden are They?

I’m Mad as Hell About Hidden Airline Fees and I’m Not Gonna Take This Anymore is the tag line for a coalition that is demanding that the US Department of Transportation requires airlines to prominently display all ancillary fees on their websites and to provide distribution to enable transaction of these fees through all third party channels. Upon closer scrutiny, several claims appear exaggerated, while the lack of specific proposals regarding HOW these demands can be effectively implemented ignores challenges involving business models and technical interfacing.

Orbitz Improves Its Hotel Search – Is It Enough?

A recent Orbitz press release touted “Orbitz Launches Groundbreaking Hotel Search Experience with Industry-Leading Property Comparison Features.” In reality, the changes are incremental, mostly derivative and unfortunately not significantly innovative. With Orbitz indicating that growing its hotel business is a top priority, they need superior product functionality to climb back up to last year’s second place share of unique visitors from this year’s fourth place share. While the enhancements give Orbitz functionality similar to its competition, its price guarantees remain the most customer friendly in the industry.

Hotwire Expands Menu – Adds Bed Choice

Hotwire appears to be testing the ability for travelers to select a specific bed type from participating hotels offering opaque product with its new Bed Choice option. This move benefits travelers by offering greater choice, and hotels with the attractive capability to upsell. This further differentiates Hotwire from Priceline who has not fundamentally changed its Name Your Own Price hotel product since its inception. A greater question is how this move impacts OTA share in the opaque product space and hotel profitability if it increases opaque product sales.

Day 2 Highlights – 2010 Association of Travel Marketing Executives Conference

The second day of the 2010 Association of Travel Market Executives conference included keynotes by marketing leaders from Priceline and Wyndham, sessions on mobile marketing and new distribution channels, plus perspectives on retail and the airline industry. This year’s conference theme was “The New Now & The New Next”