A New Online Hotel Directory targets Small to Medium-Size Hotels

25 08 2006

Directory of hotels LogoFirst of all, despite its name (Directory of Hotels.com), this site does not belong to hotels.com; it’s an independent online guide of hotels that will focus on the uniqueness of hotels that differentiate them from belonging to a hotel chain, based on the hotel “service, cuisine, character and individuality”.

According to its Director of Business Development, Tanya Colleen, the goal “is to expose the small to medium-size hotel and lesser known properties around the world.

But how? With those 2 affordable listing options:

  • Basic Listing: USD129/year
  • Featured Listing: USD348/year

Of course those 2 options include a direct link to the hotel website. Booking process remains on the hotel website.

Listing options

Besides the hotel directory, you will find a hotel blog right here, it is moderated, but anyone can post (users not registered too). I hope this blog will stay open for visitors’ comments as I have seen a lot of companies those days that opened a company blog without allowing people to comment their posts (unfortunately they totally missed the point of blogging). I won’t name them. Not in this post.

I applaud the initiative and I really hope that they will add a “uniqueness tag cloud” box as tagging has become an essential part of searching the internet these days. I would even recommend to add a “tag phrase filter” to search for more than one word at the same time.

By the way trackback for posts does not work yet but I guess they will fix it soon.

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Clickair, the spanish low-cost airline will spread its wings in oct. 2006

23 08 2006

There have been speculations about the name of the new spanish low cost of Clickair logoIberia; formerly called Catair, the final name of the low-cost will be Clickair. Why choosing such a brand name? Basically because it will use the internet as a primary sales tool.

The budget airline has its headquarters in Madrid, but will operate from its Barcelona hub (Prat airport).

Clickair website

Ownership? Iberia owns parts of Catair Lineas Aereas (Clickair); it equally shares ownership (20% for each of the 5 owners) with the spanish Tour Operator Iberostar, Cobra, Quercus Equity (Grupo ACS – a spanish construction company), and Nefinsa group (Nefinsas being the owner of Air Nostrum).

Flying destinations? Clickair has confirmed it will start to fly to 12 destinations – 8 international cities: Amsterdam, Dublin, Geneva, Zurich, Prague, Lisbon, Oporto, Moscow, and 4 spanish cities: Bilbao, Malaga, Seville and Valencia. For the moment it will not fly to Madrid.

Fleet? The airline will start its activity with a fleet of 3 Airbus A320-200, then it will add an aircraft each month; the fleet size is expected to be around 30 aircrafts in 2008 and Clickair expects to reach up to 70 destination by 2008.

What’s new?The good news is that unlike many other low-cost carriers, Clickair will only fly to the main airports of the cities it serves (hence no extra transportation costs for the budget travelers..

Belonging to Iberia, Clickair will be run as a separate company however Clickair’s passengers will benefit from the Iberia Plus loyalty program. Clickair will also share flight codes with Iberia, meaning that Clickair fares won’t only be sold on internet but also through the GDSs, following a different approach from the traditional low-cost strategy.
Rumors say that passengers will be offered theather and theme park tickets on board.

What’s next? For the moment we are still waiting for the launch of the website; bad move for a company which is already created, announced and ready to go. Anyway I logically expect Iberostar to provide much of the hotel product of the coming website.

Any direct competitors? Barcelona-based Vueling and Air Madrid are direct local competitors, but also Ryan Air since Clickair has decided to open a route between Barcelona and Dublin. I guess Ryan Air should take Clickair seriously since Ryan Air lands its flights far from Barcelona center (In Girona, 103km from Barcelona city center) when Clickair lands at Barcelona’s main airport. EasyJet, which has announced the opening of new routes in Spain is a seen as a tough competitor too.

According to Europa Press, the booking system that will be used on the website is Open Skies developped by Navitaire (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Accenture). This technology is also used by RyanAir, German Wings and VirginExpress just to name a few..

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The aggregator Mobissimo launched a virtual concierge

21 08 2006

The now “old school” online travel sites (like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity) have to compete with meta-search sites that aim to gather travel fares and hotel rates faster than it takes us to browse and query all the best online travel sites from our bookmarks to find out the cheapest prices. They are like a google for travel. They basically search for travel deals, just like google searches for content. 

This generation of new travel sites is quite competitive; One could think that once they will have integrated most of the major travel players, all those aggregators will probably create (competitiveness but also) confusion to the internet customers as they won’t know which aggregators to choose (Mobissimo, Sidestep, Kayak, Yahoo Farechase etc.) and will have to price compare the aggregators! 

Mobissimo is one of those clever online travel aggregators, which retrieve fares and rates from a lot of different travel agencies in order to simplify your online experience and save you time and money.

Mobissimo

Mobissimo defined itself as the “ultimate travel search engine”. By “ultimate” one could understand that it uses the ultimate technologies to offer to its customers the best deals.

It positions itself as a technology driven aggregator using the ultimate features the web 2.0 brought us.

I am delighted to see the very “blog oriented” Tag Cloud on the right hand side of the frontpage called the “activity tag”. This is a very neat way to search for content on a website, although I would have loved to see a filter to permit to add more than one tag.. There is also a RSS feed for headlines from the site and a special new tab for activity search.

The Virtual Concierge:

It is basically an online bot that answers to simple travel queries. Here is a basic query I did to test the bot nicely called Lucy! See the results found on bookings.net.

 

Mobissimo

 

Here is a video of the CEO and co-founder of Mobissimo Beatrice Tarka; this is an exclusivity of Rodrigo A. Sepulveda Schulz (Ceo and founder of www.vpod.tv)

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Hotel.de going international – Travelres.com

17 08 2006

Travelres.com (powered by hotel.de) has been officially launched in order to expand hotel.de activities internationally.

Althought hotel.de was already available in English, German, French and Spanish, it seems that the very good performances of the german site push the dreams of Hotel.de to become a fierce global competitor of the traditionnal online hotel reservation services.

It was kind of complicated to expand online activities considering that the domain name was already registered by major hotel companies in other countries:

 

  • hotel.com >> hotels.com >> Expedia
  • hotel.co.uk >> hotels.com >> Expedia
  • hotel.it >> hotels.com >> Expedia
  • hotel.fr >> Worldres
  • hotel.at >> hotel.de
  • hotel.ch >> hotel.de
  • hotels.cz >> hotel.de

 

Travelres

 

By the end of last year hotel.de became the leading hotel portal in Germany in terms of unique visits; it is at the expense of HRS (Hotel Reservation Service) who previously occupied that rank. Hotel.de consequently got better press coverage and reported very good results, with a 127% increase compared to the previous year (1.68 million room nights last year, booking volume of nearly 134 million Euros).

Going international can be seen as a logical move then. By having a closer look at the domain names that the company has registered (*.com *.fr *.co.uk *.de *.it *.es) we can easily understand the countries where the company will focus its attention. We can even suppose that the company has chosen a much wider termination for its domain name on purpose. Indeed with the word “travel” in its domain name, the company might plan one day to become a travel agency proposing airlines tickets, packages, cruises, car rental etc.

PS: If it was a stock, I would recommend to buy. To watch.


Quick Notes:

Hotel.de: 180 000 hotels worldwide.
Languages available: english/french/spanish/german/czech/italian
Travelres.com current alexa ranking :
168,263
Hotel.de current ranking :
6,250

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Wifi hotspot search engine

1 08 2006

I found a great site these days indexing all the hotspots of the world (tough job!). The site currently claims to list 118,776 Wi-Fi hotspots in 128 countries. 

Hotspot search engine

 You can search WIFI connections by location, and filter the results by:

  • Hotels/Resorts 
  • Restaurants
  • Airports
  • Cafe
  • Office buildings
  • Beaches
  • Convention centers
  • Marinas

The results show the name of the Wifi providers, the type of wifi connection (802.11b  802.11g) and free hotspot are highlighted. You can display a map with all the hotspots close to the one selected like shown below (in the example I have selected Cannes (France) hotspots:

 

Hotspot in Cannes

 

I found out that the map was too small to be efficient at locating a hotspot from a hotspot concentration; it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. There is no zoom available in this map provided by Mappoint.com (Advice: Google Map Api is available for free, you can zoom all day long without any cost). Anyway this website is worth the try and can sometimes be very helpful.

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