Web Reservations International to launch a “revolutionary” travel website!

1 05 2007

Web Reservations InternationalIf you passed by WRI’s stand at the last ITB in Berlin, you certainly saw it! The Dublin firm Web Reservations International (WRI) is about to launch a new online travel website that claims to “revolutionise the travel industry and pit it against internet giants such as Google.

WebReservations International is a well know actor of the online travel industry. They bought the famous Worldres in 2005 and is now at the head of the following major online brands: hostelworld.com, worldres.com, hostels.com and trav.com. Hostelworld provides the hostels product of RyanAir’s website (whereas Expedia provides the hotel product).

Web Reservations International CEO and Co-Founder, Ray Nolan, stated in January 2007 that “Google throws you the Yellow Pages and says go find it yourself“. Ray Nolan also had good things to say about the aggregators, stating: “For any one destination, there are probably only 10 places you really want to stay, but the aggregators will make you go through 20 pages of hotels”.

As far as we know the new website (whose name has not been revealed yet) will be a fusion of social networking, travel information (with a system of reviews) and online booking system. It has been rumored that investment for this project might be as high as €30million. WRI planned to launch the website on Wednesday (tomorrow), back up with a large marketing budget.

I can’t wait to see this new product; at least on the paper the new website looks quite challenging! I hope it will meet my our expectations… Stay tunned.

Via Sunday Business Post
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First TV ad for Expedia in France

23 04 2007

Expedia.fr launched a new campaign of advertising in France. It started with a TV ad on national TV; this was the first TV ad for Expedia on public TV, before that, Expedia did TV spots but only for 15 channels on cable TV.

(Update: Expedia also sponsored TV shows on Canal+ and TF1 in the past.)

The name of this new campaign is “Expedia, le voyage que je veux.” (Expedia, travel as I wish”). It is very similar to the famous slogan of Club Med : “Club Med, Le bonheur si je veux.” (Clud Med, Happyness as I wish”). The spot draws a parallel between a tailor made clothing shop and the way a couple can customize its future vacations.

According to Marc Ruf, former Vice President of Expedia France:

“[Expedia] gives the ability to anyone to become its own travel agent. Who better knows the needs and desires of the traveler than the traveler himself?”

Expedia kindly sent me the link to watch their TV spot:

[display_podcast]

Besides this TV spot, Expedia also launched another wave of offline advertising on buses and on the walls of the subway with the following offline ads:

Expedia Offline Advertising

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Excellent Ambient Marketing at Venice Airport

9 04 2007

Venice Airport ambient advertising Casino di Venezia Absolutely great campaign of an Italian advertising agency (Admcom) for the promotion of the “Casino Di Venezia“. They have turned a traditional and boring luggage claim belt into a giant roulette wheel at Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE):

The agency has successfully spotted a real good place for their campaign ironically named “Keep playing“. A good spot indeed, as people spend about 10 to 15 minutes (sometimes more!) staring at the belt while waiting for their luggages. This new kind of roulette will only bring one type of losers: the ones whose luggages have been lost!

According to the Venetian Casino, visits increased by 60% since the eye catching ad appeared at the airport. That seems a lot, but that’s what you get for doing an original ad, with good visibility and a good sense of humor.

Via: Estering (for amateur pictures of the roulette) | Disruption

Related information about losing baggage:

Here is a recent survey of the Association of European Airlines (AEA).

Top 10 European airlines for losing baggage in 2006 (bags/1,000 passengers):

  1. British Airways – 23
  2. TAP Air Portugal – 21
  3. Lufthansa – 18.1
  4. Air France – 16.6
  5. Alitalia -16.5
  6. KLM – 16.4
  7. Luxair – 16.4
  8. Iberia – 15.5
  9. LOT Polish Airlines – 14.8
  10. Finnair – 14.2

• Virgin Atlantic, bmi, easyjet, Ryanair not included in survey

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UK online travel agencies ready to blacklist hotels!

15 03 2007

I just read an article on Travelmole stating that Lowcostbeds.com and OnHolidayGroup have decided to blacklist hotels!

Lowcostbeds logoOnHolidayGroup

Both UK companies will use a system called Travelsafe in order to be able to determine what hotels must be blacklisted or not. I know for a fact that in the past Opodo also partnered with Travelsafe in order to perform health and safety audit with its hotels.
According to Travelmole, Lowcostbeds.com and OnHolidayGroup will use the system to be Travelsafe systemable to blacklist the hotels, apartments and villas that does not satisfy the new standards; I have no information about those specific standards yet, but there will be a focus on safety standards in such areas as fire, food hygiene, and swimming pools.
About child safety, upon completion of the audit, Travelsafe will classify hotels into 4 categories: Gold, Silver, Bronze and the ones that are said to be non compliant.
It will be offered the possibilities to assist hotels that are said to be non compliant to implement the necessary improvements. If they refuse, there will be “blacklisted and banned from all Travelsafe member sites.

This new “hotel trend” for safety accommodations got its root from last September tragedy when two young children past away from carbon monoxide poisoning in Corfu. I found an article of the Independent (London) reporting that the mother of the two children was highly motivated to push the industry leaders to take measures to prevent such tragedies in the future. It seems that she has been heard!

There are already “no fly” lists, I guess a “no-stay” list is a logical next step in the industry..

Note: ABTA signed an agreement with another system called Argent Health and Safety to release its own health and safety database this week: ABTA Resort Check (I removed the link.

If British OTA are about to blacklist hotels, Australian hotels already blacklist guests

Guest Behaving Badly logoI have seen several different types of blacklisting in the past:I have read about hoteliers in Australia who blacklist “bad” guests on a dedicated website launch on December 2006: Guest Behaving Badly GBB. Its product manager Josh Ginty said “more than 1000 holiday property providers nationally have already joined the database.

This article on USA today’s hotel blog also has very interesting comments regarding this issue.

The rationale behind this hotel trend? “Customers have the ability to rate hotels with websites such as TripAdvisor.com. So why shouldn’t hotels be able to rate customers?” as reported by Daniel J. Solove in a very interesting article called “The rise of customer blacklists”.

Who should be blacklisted next?

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Join the T-List (Travel Tourism Bloggers List)

4 03 2007

Here are the instructions:

- Write a post.
- Copy/paste the link list from the post you’ve discovered the T-List into it.
- Make sure the links are active and correct.
- If your blog is on the list, remove it’s not a self-promotion post.
- Add your favorite tourism and travel blogs on it.
- Add the url of the blog where you’ve discovered the T-List as well.
- Publish the post.
- People will notice the T-List and continue it.

Here’s the list:

Radaron
Les Explorers
Chrispitality Media Blog
A Luxury Travel Blog
Travel Rants
Travolution Blog
BootBlog
Erin Julian
My Travel Backpack
Happy Hotelier
The Travel PR Blog
DotTourism
The Tourism and Hospitality Diaries
Tourism Internet Marketing
Happy Hotelier
Web2.0 Travel
The Informed Traveler – Luxury Hotels
Hotelblogs
Blog de viajes
ADV Italia
El blog de Albert Barra
I have discovered the T-List on Hotelblogs and I have decided to add Blog de Viajes (a blog on travel from Argentina) ADR Italia and Tourisme et Internet (french blog) to this list because I think we should share our travel thoughts with everyone out there, whatever the language used.Spread the word!

Read more about the Travel Tourism Bloggers List

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Information is spreading…fast.

6 02 2007

I have been looking around to find out if hoteliers were uploading video about their hotels on www.youtube.com or www.dailymotion.com. My third try was to search for the term “hotel madrid” in youtube.com, and on the first page of results, I saw the following entrance:

Youtube hotels

Translation of the spanish comment with the video: “Don’t go to the hotel Mediodia in Madrid in front of Atocha.” [...] “This is our wash basin.” This video has been here for 3 months now, and is posted under the category “Comedy”. It has already been viewed by 361 persons.

Here is the video of an anonymous customer of this hotel located in Madrid:

[youtube QaQM4GZ9Ilw]

I was looking for a new type of hotel promotions (using youtube, dailymotion and else) and in the end I found a new type of hotel review… I saw a lot of comments on the internet about Travel 2.0 and a lot of them were trying to define “Travel 2.0″. Maybe it is just about that; about spreading the information, about having potential customers more informed.

On the other hand, there is no way for the hotelier to remove such a video from youtube, even if he has already completed a renovation in his hotel or even he has fixed the problem. This applies to Tripadvisor as well. People should not pay attention to old comments, as hotel management team may have changed and as the hotel may have been renovated since then.
I recall people who told me that there were hotels that disallowed the use of camera and filming devices in their hotels in order to keep the mystery around their hotel intact…Anyway hoteliers won’t have any control over people using filming devices in their hotels; they cannot hide those flaws anymore.

Here is a positive hotel review of an independent hotel called Hotel Las Palapas in Playa del Carmen (Mexico). You will see that it looks very professional and nicely edited with commentaries of the guest. A nice piece of work. That reminds me I need to go to Tulum!
[youtube Pq5_qJ7Uyvs]

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New Google feature: Local Business Centre

17 01 2007

I was surprised to see that some websites had snippets with their local business addresses in the pages of result of Google. If you click on the Plus Box it will expand and show up a map of the location right of your business right below the result like shown below. Clearly it makes it easy for customers to find your business online.
The hotel Aiken (by the way the hotel website uses wordpress) was the first hotel I saw using this great feature:
Hotel Aiken

Aiken 2

How does it work? Well it is quite simple, you simply have to register to the Google Local Business Centre, entering the details of your business, the category, phone number etc. You can also specify the operating business hours. It is totally free and google verifies your info via postcard! Once you have received the postcard from google, you will get a pin number that will be used to activate your account.

You can register your hotel, or travel agency right here: Google’s Local Business Centre

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