New spanish travel aggregator Minube.com launched today!

23 07 2007

Logo MiNube.comSurprisingly the Spanish online travel market is not saturated by the emergence of aggregation and comparison engines; there is still space for newcomer(s) to enter this segment of the online travel industry. That’s what Minube.com (that literally means “My Cloud” in Spanish) did today by launching this new flight/hotel aggregator “Minube”.

Comparador Mi nube

Minube.com referred itself as being a web 2.0 site. A simple, clean and original design with green, red and orange clouds! It uses features that made Web 2.0 sites so convenient such as the suggestion search box; as you type in a query it will display the available cities/countries/airports dynamically via some AJAX. Pretty useful when you don’t know how to spell those Spanish cities or when you don’t know the airport name of your destination.

Of course it also integrates maps from Google maps (I did not manage to see the mapping of all hotels of the first page of result on one map), and reviews (reviews are not moderated yet). The good thing is there are no reviews on the system yet, it starts from scratch. One of the problems of Tripadvisor is that they are still showing client reviews that are very old, totally outdated although the owner/management team of the hotel has changed or the hotel has been fully renovated.

Mi Nube hotels

As a traditional travel aggregator, Minube compares the prices of a lot of different travel agencies (Atrapalo, eDreams, TerminalA, MuchoViaje etc.), airlines (low cost airline such as Vueling, Clickair) or hotel portals, and shows the best price found (with no additional fees).

The page of results of a hotel search is very similar to SideStep results page, as there is a slider control to determine the “price range” that you can adjust according to your budget/needs. I did a comparison between Sidestep and Minube for the same date (last minute booking) in Barcelona and I was pretty happy of the results; specially because Minube found many more hotels with cheap rates. This is no surprise as they already work with a lot of local providers (see paragraph below).

Here is an extensive list of the hotel providers, airlines, and online travel agencies that Minube partnered with:

 

Minube Providers

All in all, after I spent 15 minutes playing with this new aggregator, I felt pretty impressed by this beta version of Minube. They start with a good design, a lot of partners (even though some are missing), and good web 2.0 functionalities and features (recent searches, travel fair, filters of travel agencies, event calendar). It definitely has its place among its Spanish competitors, HotelAdicto, Trabber, Tsales (any other I missed?). I believe they will be launching a version for the french market soon called MonNuage.fr according to what I read on their blog. Congratulations!

PS: I havent had time to try the “alert engine” but I already like the idea. I believe it is similar to what Orbitz does, by keeping searching for the price and dates you have requested and sending you an alert by email once it has been found! I’ll try this tomorrow but I needed first to share this with you.

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Loic Le Meur interviews the CEO of Trivop

21 05 2007

Here is an interesting interview of Thomas Owadenko that Loic Le Meur just uploaded on his blog. Thomas is the CEO of the new travel 2.0 site called Trivop.


[vpod.tv loiclemeur/200710]

Trivop.com is a very good example of a good use of web 2.0 in the travel industry. It is a platform of video reviews of hotels (located in Europe and then in the future in the US).Like I said in the past, the future of hotel reviews is strongly connected to the future of online video; we previously saw the impact of a simple video uploaded on youtube to report a poor hotel room in Madrid. We also saw Tripadvisor launched a video uploading feature on their website to follow this (hotel) trend.

Trivop

Now we have a dedicated website only for hotels which combined a mashup of Google maps, Tripadvisor text reviews and videos generated by hoteliers and guests.In the video Thomas says that it will be focused on hotels for the first 3 years, Trivop does not have a real competitor since there is no other 100% similar site. However it might somehow compete with videos of websites like Youtube, Google Video, DailyMotions etc. and also with sites like www.travelistic.com that have a wider approach and publish video content for everything related to travel.

When Trivop has been launched at the beginning of April 2007, it already had filmed and uploaded about 170 videos of hotels. Trivop will also intend to create a marketplace community where video producers could meet the demand for video of hoteliers.

Ceo Trivop - Thomas OwadenkoDuring the interview Thomas says that not only the hotelier can upload a video but also the guest. As of today I have not been able to find a video generated by a guest, but only video “ordered” by hoteliers, with a very good editing by the way. The only negative comment I would make is that there is no way you can control the playback of the video other than using the pause button. Videos are played sequentially (divided into segments: lobby/standard room/suite etc) just as if you were watching plain old television. When deciding what hotel I want to book, I have a limited available time for making my choice. I need to compare hotel prices, hotels reviews and so on; watching each segment (of about 50sec to 1min40) without having the choice to fast forward the video is time consuming.

In my opinion the challenge for Trivop will be to generate revenue by proposing their services as filmmakers for hoteliers while they offer a free platform for guests to upload their “videos reviews” that could criticize and hurt their own clients.

Anyway I found that the concept of Trivop is innovative and useful for travellers and I wish them the best of success.

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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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Breaking news: Iguazu falls reduced to a trickle

29 07 2006

I just found an article from CNN.COM mentionning the fact that the world famous Iguazu Falls have been reduced to a trickle due to the worst drought in the last 20 years in that part of the world*. Unfortunately I have not been able to find a picture to go with this post, so let’s appreciate a great shot of this gift of mother Nature.

Cataratas de Iguazu

*It is located in extreme northeast Argentina on the border with Brazil.

Many people who went there told me that there was 2 hotels very close to the falls but only one has rooms with a direct view on the falls, The Sheraton International Iguazu (careful not all the rooms have balconies! do not forget to specify it when reserving your room).

Anyway it is amazing to see that there are so few reviews of hotels located in Iguazu National Park on Tripadvisor.com, I don’t get it; Sheraton has 50 reviews and the 3 others altogether have 9 reviews. Does that mean that North American ppl don’t go to to visit the magnificent falls of Iguazu? Not sure.. anyway now you know where to go next!
It can’t finish this post without a trendy satellite view of the falls thanks to Windows Live Local.

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Judging a hotel by looking at its website

21 07 2006

It’s one thing to buy an inexpensive item online; it’s another to buy a vacation. And these days nearly 85 percent of travelers research trips online. Fortunately, pictures on a hotel Web site do tell a story. In fact, if you know how to read them, they can reveal whether or not a place is right for you.Before you book, take a critical look at the hotel Web site. What you see as you click through will tell you a great deal about what you would encounter if you visited the hotel in person.

[...]

Continue reading the entire article: “How to Judge a hotel by its web site”

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Should hotels give WIFI for free?

21 07 2006

Two schools of thought conflict over selling public access WiFi Internet at hotels. One side says free public WiFi is essential for hotel customers’ convenience. The other side says giving it away is giving away money. A 100-room hotel that keeps half its rooms booked and sells Internet access for a typical rate of $10 per day makes $183,000 in annual access fees.
Wifi

According to HotelChatter.com, a hotel industry web site, WiFi for guests is a necessity to keep customers returning:

“Hotels have finally realized that WiFi is a must-have, something that tops the wish list of many potential guests. But the rush to quickly set-up hotel WiFi networks, coupled with the fact that wireless fidelity is still a fairly new technology, means that consistent wireless internet access, pricing, and service, is not a given across hotel brands, small hotel groups or even from the lobby to your room.”

HotelChatter also blasts the notion of hotels charging guests for WiFi, saying it “certainly gives them a bad rep.”

Get the full story at 4hoteliers

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