October 2017, Las Vegas (USA)
United, Google, Ryanair, Priceline and more: our top 10 tales from Q2
With some big and lesser-known names quoted in this second quarter, there is intelligence and insight for everybody
With June almost over, we share the most read original stories of the second quarter. Enjoy!
Readers love a PR crisis it would seem, as this United Airlines crisis was our most read story of the month. Not surprisingly. As New York based media training guru TJ Walker put it: “We’re going to be talking about this United Airlines PR disaster not for the next few days, weeks or even years, but for decades… So many things were done so poorly that entire textbooks are going to be written about how badly United managed this disaster.” In this piece, freelance writer Andrew Hennigan shares three factors that contributed to the furore.
Again, a big name, but also a big issue for the travel industry! Ryanair’s push to drive more ancillary revenue was always going pique readers’ interest. Ryanair wants to become the Amazon of air travel but the last quarter showed a 4% fall in ticket sales (at €951 million), while non-ticket revenue was up 15% at €395 million.“Nowonder it sees ancillaries as its best hope for profits, and has raised its ancillary sales target to 30% of total revenue by 2020 (against 24% in 2015),” notes Sally White.
And then there was Google, which only this week was hit with its biggest fine ever by the European Commission. In this piece, we posed five questions to Google that the travel industry would like answers to. Needless to say, we’re still waiting. Quoted is Bobby Healy, CTO of tech firm CarTrawler who is also a regular EyeforTravel sponsor and speaker: There is not an airline CEO or CTO out there that isn’t sh**ting their pants about what Google could do to them”.
Regular columnist Tom Bacon recently attended an EyeforTravel event and heard how Kimpton hotels is surprising and delighting its customers. He wondered if airlines, whose loyalty programmes are highly transactional, which have arithmetically derived earnings and rewards are missing a trick.
In an analysis of recent moves in the hotel industry, Sally White looks at a recent move by Marriott to acquire PlacePass, a firm focused on the tours and activities space. The comment from analysts, she writes, is that Marriott is obviously intending to at least keep up with the major OTAs’ move into the “experience marketplace”. Back at Accor, where the digital drive is well underway, we hear about its latest acquisitions – Travel Keys, Very Chic and more.
At EyeforTravel’s European Summit in May Priceline CEO Glenn Fogel was in the keynote hot seat talking about the firm’s light touch acquisition strategy.
One quotable quote of the morning was this: “One of the dumbest ideas in the world would be to say let’s buy that company and tell them what do to. We buy them so that they can tell us what to do”. Yes there is sharing of knowledge across the Priceline stable, but ultimately it let’s the companies it acquires get on with the job.
In the fast-growing market for vacation rentals, how do you differentiate? For Vacasa, a Portland based property management firm - and the second biggest in the US - it’s about having exclusivity. Co-founder Cliff Johnson says: “When you are just managing bookings, and you don’t have exclusivity, you quickly run into problems such as coordinating calendars, or cumbersome rules set by home owners or other managers.” So, going down the full service management road, was the “best decision we ever made”. The firm has recently forayed into Europe, where handing over exclusivity isn’t common practice. Let’s see what happens. By the way, Johnson will be speaking the company’s strategy in Las Vegas in October.
In a Q&A with a regular EyeforTravel speaker Carlos Sanchez, Sr. Manager Big Data Analytics at Carlson Wagonlit Travel, shares his thoughts on the pros and cons ahead of artificial intelligence. This is a hot topic but, says Sanchez, “despite all the progress being made in the travel industry, I don’t think robots will replace humans”.
Surprise, surprise! Sharing insights from The State of Data and Analytics in Travel Report 2017, we report that 61.6% of travel marketers think Facebook is the best performing social media network. Instagram, also a Facebook company, trails behind with just 15.8% of respondents, followed by Twitter (10.3%) and YouTube (6.2%). As Voyages-sncf.com Chief Operating Officer Arnaud Masson puts: “You need to be there if you want to deliver a good customer experience.” Going further still his view is that “Facebook needs to be the extension of any website or app”.
Proving our view at EyeforTravel that partnerships are crucial to survive in this turbulent market, last year global travel distributor GTA teamed up with Iceland’s Bokun to develop a technology platform and is now taking that relationship a step further. This story, by freelance travel journalist Sarah McCay Tams, outlines how GTA is preparing to test the news and activities booking system in two markets - Europe an the Middle East. With next steps for a global roll out, it will be interesting to see how tours and activities hit the bottom line.
Join us at one of our upcoming events to hear more about the fast-moving, turbulent business of online travel