Inside Travel: Understanding the latest technology and industry trend insights

Find it hard to keep track with all the latest insights into business trends, new products and technology advancements in the travel sector? The Blue Swan Daily provides you with an update on some of the key stories from the past week.

  • Winding Tree completes ‘first’ blockchain hotel booking
  • Airbnb joins the European Travel Commission to promote healthy tourism
  • Good leadership and values key to tourism and hospitality staff satisfaction
  • Choice Hotels announces strategic relationship with AMResorts
  • ALTIDO is born from the strength of four European short-term rental property management companies
  • US hotel profits hit all-time high, but labour costs are outgrowing revenues
  • New EZpay option allows Holland America Line guests to make monthly interest-free cruise payments
  • AND FINALLY… Forbes Travel Guide announces world’s best rooms

Winding Tree completes ‘first’ blockchain hotel booking

Decentralised, open-source travel distribution platform Winding Tree claims to have been the first to process a hotel booking on a public blockchain. The company’s distribution platform was successfully tested by Hobo Hotel Stockholm, a member of the Nordic Choice Hotels group. According to Winding Tree, this transaction represents a major collaboration between a company and a public blockchain with the first successful execution of a hotel booking. The company’s distribution goal is to develop a platform that provides an open and permissionless public blockchain and removes middlemen and associated costs. A hotel or travel provider can choose to accept fiat or crypto on the Winding Tree platform. Payments can be in the form of fiat, credit card, or cryptocurrency (Lif token or ether).


Airbnb joins the European Travel Commission to promote healthy tourism

Airbnb has joined the European Travel Commission (ETC) as an Associate Member to support Europe as a travel destination and promote healthy tourism – tourism that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive, and sustainable – across the continent. ETC has been working for years to boost sustainable tourism development in Europe raising awareness of European lesser known destinations and highlighting benefits of local experiences and off-season travel. Airbnb’s membership of ETC should encourage both organisations to work together on this shared objective, as they explore new marketing opportunities and continue to develop community-led travel experiences across Europe.


Good leadership and values key to tourism and hospitality staff satisfaction

Tourism and hospitality firms that score highly for leadership and cultural values see higher staff satisfaction, according to a new study by the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the United Kingdom. Researchers analysed almost 298,000 online review ratings by employees for 11,975 businesses to find the key elements of job satisfaction and employee turnover in high-contact services. The reviews were posted over a 10-year period on Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites. The results, published in the journal Tourism Management, show that career progression is a critical factor in staff turnover, with a unit increase in the career opportunities rating reducing the likelihood of an employee leaving a company by 14.87%.


Choice Hotels announces strategic relationship with AMResorts

Choice Hotels International has entered into a strategic agreement with AMResorts that will boost its offer of all-inclusive luxury resort accommodation. AMResorts, part of Apple Leisure Group (ALG), has a portfolio of luxury, all-inclusive resorts across popular destinations throughout Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America. Under the arrangement members of Choice Hotels’ Choice Privileges loyalty programme will be permitted to earn and redeem points at AMResorts’ more than 50 properties.


ALTIDO is born from the strength of four European short-term rental property management companies

Four European short-term rental property management companies – BnbBuddy and The London Residents Club from the United Kingdom, Hintown from Italy and RentExperience from Portugal – have merged business operations in order to create a new company for the unified marketing, management and operations of more than 1,700 distinctive properties across 21 destinations in Europe. The new company ALTIDO; with a centralised head office in London, and satellite offices in core locations including Lisbon, Milan, Edinburgh and Rome. All four companies are fast growing, privately owned, profitable and have enjoyed organic growth in their core markets. ALTIDO has immediate plans to expand its operations and develop into new markets across key European locations; expecting to double inventory in the next 12 months.


US hotel profits hit all-time high, but labour costs are outgrowing revenues

According to STR’s 2019 HOST Almanac, the US hotel industry-wide house profit reached a record-breaking USD80 billion in 2018 even as labour costs grew at a higher rate than revenues. STR’s HOST (Hotel Operating Statistics) P&L program compiles data from more than 10,000 hotels annually and comprise more than 2.3 million rooms around the globe. US revenues topped an estimated $218 billion in 2018, which was an increase of $10 billion from the previous year. Just like the industry-wide house profit, the total revenue figure was an all-time high for the industry. Overall, gross operating profits (GOP) increased 2.8% on 2.9% total revenue growth, according to STR. Full-service hotels grew house profit 3.2%, while limited-service properties experienced a slight profit increase of 1.1% from levels achieved in 2017. Among the class segments, Luxury hotels achieved the greatest profit increase (+5.3%), while Midscale/Economy saw a profit decline of 0.5%.


New EZpay option allows Holland America Line guests to make monthly interest-free cruise payments

Holland America Line has introduced a new option to allow cruise passengers to spread the cost of travel without having to turn to third party credit providers. EZpay spreads out the cruise balance into equal, interest-free monthly payments leading up to final payment. The plan gives guests the flexibility to pay for their cruise at their own pace, with the ability to opt out at any time without penalty. Nearly all of Holland America Line’s worldwide itineraries are now eligible for the EZpay option, as long as they are not within the final payment deadline. Following the payment of a cruise deposit, EZpay charges a supplied credit card once a month to pay for the cruise balance in full by the final payment deadline, with no additional fees.


AND FINALLY… Forbes Travel Guide announces world’s best rooms

Whether we are travelling on business or pleasure we all like a little luxury. Forbes Travel Guide has released its Verified List for 2019’s World’s Best Hotel Rooms, a list of 41 properties spanning 17 countries. These it describes as “not only beautiful, but exceptionally comfortable, functional and elegantly appointed with touches such as quality linens, luxurious toiletries and well-designed technology”. The list is compiled from data gathered by the company’s incognito inspectors, who stayed at the properties and evaluated them on up to 900 standards. Among the winners, China claimed six properties (Encore Macau; Four Seasons Hotel Guangzhou; Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong; Rosewood Beijing; The Peninsula Beijing; Wynn Macau), and France four (Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel; Hotel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel; Mandarin Oriental, Paris; The Ritz Paris). Independent hotels made a strong showing with 10 winners, including Palace Hotel Tokyo; The Alpina Gstaad; The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore; and The Resort at Pedregal. Here’s the full list: 2019 World’s Best Rooms