An apt place to start our exploration of current trends is at the very beginning of the journey and how we book. It looks as though the generally held view that the heyday of the travel agent has been confined to history may well have been a little premature! The idea of the digital travel agent is gaining momentum with travellers looking to have their holiday preferences sorted into a perfect trip through one easy source.
Lots can be accomplished with a Tweet and you can now use your 140 characters to request a hotel that meets all your requirements. Such brevity does of course mean you need a relatively good idea of where you’re headed for! US booking site Stayful’s venture called #Tweetstay allows you to request your hotel in one sentence on a Tweet template where you are able to input your desired destination, price, dates and duration. Your request is responded to with a link to discounted prices at a range of boutique and independent hotels. Customers can request a room within the following 30 days. It’s a win/win as hotels look to fill empty rooms for a competitive price.
Perhaps 140 characters simply isn’t enough to express the full extent of your holiday needs. Maybe you want to go to not just one destination but want to bounce around, say, a range of European cities. Trying to find the cheapest range of flights, trains and hotels across a multi-stop itinerary could be a logistical nightmare – until now that is. Vamo is a booking service that helps people customise their own dream holiday and is hoping to provide both simplicity and inspiration. So for example you can start by inputting the number of travellers, the destination cities you plan to visit and the length of time you wish to stay in each one as well as the hotel quality you’d like. If you would like to be guided a little more you can start with one of Vamo’s suggested itineraries like Essential. It’s early days for Vamo and competition is tough but we can’t but help admire their desire to really get technology to enable people’s dream holidays.
Vamo, developed by some Facebook alumni, is not the only tech giant looking to muscle in on the lucrative hotel and leisure sector. Earlier this year, Amazon launched Amazon Destinations which allows users to book hotels in the Pacific Northwest, Southern California and the Northeast. Their tagline “Hit the Road: Book local getaways” clearly positions them as the ideal road-trip companion. Whilst the big boys such as Booking.com and Expedia might not be quaking in their boots just yet, Amazon Destinations has signalled its intentions by hiring an Expedia heavyweight as the General Manager of Amazon Destinations. Since they started its hotel coverage has already doubled. But Amazon is also making sure it puts quality at the forefront of its considerations – before signing any property up, a salesperson visits each property to ensure the product is just right.
Whilst Amazon is being viewed with some concern, Berlin-based DreamCheaper could well become the hotel booking industry’s “most hated start-up.” To put it simply, DreamCheaper aims to ensure that you never overpay for a hotel room again – even if the price goes down after you have booked. It’s simple – once you have registered with the service, you just forward your hotel confirmation email to the DreamCheaper team. The team use their algorithms to locate the same room type for a cheaper price. Thanks to the ‘flexible-booking’ option that most hotels offer, DreamCheaper cancel your hotel booking if it finds a cheaper price and will book this replacement. This service continues searching, cancelling and rebooking right up until the day before check-in. And apparently the results are good. The founders say that customers typically save 15% on their original booking price. And DreamCheaper is willing to put their money where their mouth is – they generate revenue by taking 20% of any money saved!
It would appear that booking your ideal holiday is becoming easier and easier – certainly easier than securing a table at one of New York’s top restaurants. But a new app is changing the dynamic for how top restaurants sell tables at prime time. Today many of the coveted 8pm bookings are held back by restaurants for VIPs that might come in. What many restaurants aren’t doing is to capitalise on the demand that exists. Resy allows diners to pay for access to the most desirable tables. Whilst some say this makes restaurant bookings a little elitist (essentially a pay to play system) the founders actually believe this democratises the whole process. The restaurants are certainly keen to give it a go since they don’t have to pay Resy to book tables (which they do need to do with other booking platforms) but instead they share the additional revenue that comes from securing the table.
For the next section of this trendsletter click here. Alternatively you can download your full PDF edition of TMI-Spy Hotels & Leisure Summer 2015 here or you can also email [email protected] to receive your copy straight into your inbox.