Choice Hotels transitions to the choiceEDGE global reservations system

Choice Hotels International is officially transitioning to choiceEDGE, the first new global reservation system from a hotel company in more than 30 years. The distribution platform now supports more than 6,500 Choice Hotels properties globally.

ChoiceEDGE and its cloud-based design are built to handle the current and future volume on digital channels. The platform manages all distribution for Choice Hotels, optimizing rate, inventory, availability, shopping, booking and reservations for its website, mobile apps and third-party distribution partners.

This project, which began in 2014, is led by the Choice Hotels’ technology innovation team, based in Phoenix, and is a milestone initiative for the company and recently appointed president and CEO Pat Pacious. Pacious announced the investment last year during a Q3 2017 earnings call. “Choice is a platform that handles more than $7 billion in transactions, and so we have made advancements in cloud computing, data analytics and mobile,” Pacious said at the time. “Our future depends on it.”

“There has been an explosion of growth in shopping requests and digital travel sales worldwide over the last decade. The industry’s old reservation systems are not designed to handle the volume and velocity of transactions we see today in the digital space,” Pacious said in a statement. “ChoiceEDGE harnesses the power of cloud computing and big-data analytics to help deliver value to both guests and franchisees, and leads the industry in capabilities. Through personalization and machine-learning, we are now able to create the intuitive experience guests want and provide data-driven, holistic solutions to boost efficiencies for our franchisees and throughout our value chain.”

Flexibility, scale and speed to market are components of the choiceEDGE platform’s design. As Choice Hotels continues its growth in the upscale and midscale segments and internationally, the choiceEDGE product will support its expanded system size, as well as multichannel distribution and mobile strategies.

By adopting choiceEDGE, Choice Hotels properties gain access to:

  • Faster-to-market products, features and third-party connectivity.
  • Cloud-based scalability, stability and performance delivered through a “reservation-as-a-service” model.
  • Pre-configured connectivity with online travel agents, global distribution systems and property management systems, enabling rapid onboarding of hotels and instant value delivery.
  • Capability to add selling disparate inventory types, including hotel rooms, meeting rooms, vacation rentals and package offerings – or any space for any duration.

“This new platform showcases our talent and the forward-thinking, fast-paced and collaborative nature at Choice Hotels, mirroring that of any leading technology incubator,” said Brian Kirkland, VP of engineering at Choice Hotels. “ChoiceEDGE strengthens our core capabilities, and positions us and our franchisees to capitalize on the growth our industry is experiencing while enabling the efficient future delivery of new initiatives.”

Choice has already onboarded multiple distributors onto the advanced platform. “The new global reservation system, choiceEDGE, is helping Choice Hotels and Sabre gain seamless distribution of the broad and rich content for our buyers,” said Traci Mercer, SVP, global lodging, ground and sea, Sabre Travel Network.

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Expedia eyes innovation to boost revenue for hoteliers

“The online hotel booking business has been growing rapidly every year because of the use of smartphones and availability of high-speed internet,” said Pimpawee Nopakitgumjorn, marketing management director of Expedia Thailand Ltd.

Big data analytics, artificial intelligence and natural language processing technology have been adopted by online hotel booking service Expedia to boost revenue for hoteliers and make it more convenient for users.

“The online hotel booking business has been growing rapidly every year because of the use of smartphones and availability of high-speed internet,” said Pimpawee Nopakitgumjorn, marketing management director of Expedia Thailand Ltd.

The site received 600 million visits per month globally in 2016, compared with 450 million visits in 2015.

Mobile use has been increasing, accounting for one-third of visits last year and one-fourth of total transactions globally.

Mrs Pimpawee said hoteliers will shift from hotel occupancy rates and pricing wars to focus on revenue management to increase their margin.

To serve the needs of hoteliers, Expedia launched a new feature called Rev+, which are analytic revenue management tools as part of Expedia Partner Central (EPC).

EPC is a partner portal that helps hotels manage their properties and rates. Rev+ will aggregate price of hotel rivals automated to hotel managers, to use for planning price strategies.

Previously, the price comparisons were done manually by hotel staff which take about one to three hours a day, but this new automated tool enables hotels to manage their price strategy in seconds.

“Normally, less than 15% of hotels can afford revenue management software because of its high price but we offer the tool free of charge to our hotel partners,” Mrs Pimpawee said.

In addition, artificial intelligence will play a more important role in making people’s daily life more convenient. In the US, Expedia customers can ask voice-activated personal assistant Amazon Alexa about flight reservations and booking a car rental.

Mrs Pimpawee said in Thailand, the company will expand more hotelier partners in secondary cities not just main cities to have small hotels expose the global market.

Expedia has 14,891 hotelier partners in Thailand, one of its fastest growing markets in Southeast Asia. Besides flights and car rental, it plans to expand to package tour booking.

Moreover, Expedia will integrate HomeAway Inc, a vacation rental site which it acquired at the end of 2015 to compete with Airbnb Inc. The company is in the process of integrating HomeAway with its local office here.

Mrs Pimpawee said Japan, the US, Singapore, and Australia had the highest number of citizens visiting Thailand.

Expedia global revenue in 2016 reached US$72 billion, and it spent US$1.2 billion in research and development.

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Qrious launches big data powered visitor movement service

Spark’s data analytics subsidiary Qrious has launched a service for the tourism industry to provide information on visitor movements.

Qrious says the service, LoQal Destinations, will enable business that rely on tourists to: optimise marketing spend, enhance operational efficiencies and anticipate visitor movements.

“Through LoQal Destinations, those within the tourism industry and local governments will now have the ability to access robust, timely, location-based insights to support their business planning, understand the impact of events in their region, optimise marketing, and track and measure visitor uplift,” Qrious said.

“The LoQal Destinations dashboard displays a regional heat map along with detailed information regarding domestic and international visitors over time and their place of origin. A time period selector feature allows users to navigate through yearly, monthly, weekly or daily views. Data is published to the software platform every Tuesday, providing end users with timely access to information from the previous weekend.”

Qrious claims LoQal Destinations provides a more complete picture than that of survey-based data, which has typically been gathered through traditional accommodation providers, and as such has excluded visitors using alternative accommodation, such as Airbnb and Bookabach, or those visiting friends and relatives.

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Triptease, a London startup that helps hotels increase direct sales, closes $9M Series B

London-based Triptease, a startup that offers a SaaS to help hotels increase direct sales and therefore keep more revenue, has closed a $9 million Series B. The new round was led by BGF Ventures, with participation from existing investors Notion Capital and Episode 1 Ventures.

Triptease was founded in 2012 on the premise that hotels can do a much better job at direct selling rather than letting a plethora of online travel agencies (OTAs) and hotel booking aggregators, such as Booking.com and Expedia, cream off the top of their profits by means of affiliate revenue. Triptease’s best-known product is Price Check, a widget that sits on hotel websites and displays prices from across the web in real time.

The idea is to reduce the uncertainty surrounding a hotel’s direct price, and ensure you don’t wander off to search elsewhere but instead book direct and with confidence.

That in itself is a neat trick, but the startup has since expanded to offer a number of other features built around the notion that hotels can make much better use of their data, both individually and anonymously in aggregate, to increase their ability to compete with the OTAs.

“By signing up to the Triptease platform, hotels with only a few thousand web visitors a month can learn from the millions of user sessions the company are tracking across the industry,” says the company.

This includes real-time price alerts if an OTA/aggregator cuts its own prices in order to manage parity, as well as personalizing the experience of direct online visitors by giving the right message at the right time so as to increase conversion. Or, as the Triptease website puts it, “convert lookers into bookers.”

Meanwhile, Triptease says it will use the new capital for further product development, and to fuel growth and international expansion, specifically in Asia. This will see the company open a new office in Singapore, in addition to doubling headcount in its existing London and New York offices.

Adds Rory Stirling, partner at BGF Ventures, in a statement: “We are very excited to be joining Triptease as a new investor at a time when the company is showing great growth in the markets where it has established a presence. Now it’s time to expand the software to Asian hotels, to make this a truly global product. With consolidation amongst online travel agencies, hotels are increasingly looking for options to help them mobilise people to their own websites and Triptease is the best in its sector.”

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