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.

  • Almost three in four travel firms are ‘unprepared’ for rising popularity of voice
  • Travelport completes onboarding of first wave of New Distribution Capability (NDC) customers
  • Airbnb takes further steps into the corporate marketplace with Gaest acquisition
  • STR and Tourism Economics downgrade USA hotel forecast
  • The markets may be changing, but the European travel sector continues to welcome its January weekends

Almost three in four travel firms are ‘unprepared’ for rising popularity of voice

Almost three quarters (73%) of travel professionals are not yet prepared to take advantage of voice technology, despite recent research showing that a fifth (20%) of all Google searches are made via voice and sales of smart speakers, the fastest-growing consumer tech segment, are set to grow by a half (50%).

The poll by Travel Technology Europe also hinted that, while there is a long way to go before voice integration becomes mainstream, the desire, recognition and budget for embracing voice is present; around one in three (29%) respondents said that they were ‘planning to invest’ in the technology during 2019.


Travelport completes onboarding of first wave of New Distribution Capability (NDC) customers

Following the successful implementation of its NDC roadmap during 2018, Travelport has completed the onboarding of the first group of travel agencies to receive access to NDC content. To ensure NDC works for all parts of the travel ecosystem, the travel commerce platform has implemented its booking solution with a wide variety of agencies of different sizes, including; American Express Global Business Travel, DNATA, Gray Dawes Group, Global Travel Management, Meon Valley Travel, Premier Holidays, TAG, Travel Counsellors and Travel & Transport Statesman.

Travelport recently shared insights from the first phase of implementation of its NDC booking solution, as part of its commitment to ensure NDC works for all parts of the travel industry. These learnings highlighted the importance of agent familiarity, workflow integration, a considered roadmap, the demand for NDC content and the need for broad industry collaboration.

Following the successful onboarding of the current agency partners Travelport says it will continue to refine its NDC booking solutions and will follow up with further Smartpoint enhancements along with an API NDC connection channel through its Trip Service API mid-year.


Airbnb takes further steps into the corporate marketplace with Gaest acquisition

Airbnb has further expanded into the corporate world by acquiring online meeting space marketplace Gaest. The four-year old company allows users to book meeting spaces for short-term rentals in hours or days, with venues available for meetings, interviews, workshops and team-building events and is now active across most areas of the world.

Airbnb says the acquisition will allow hosts to list their spaces and provide optional add-ons and other services, while guests can book these listings for corporate events. Gaest will continue to operate under its own platform.


STR and Tourism Economics downgrade USA hotel forecast

The United States of America (USA) hotel industry is projected to report a further slowdown in performance growth in 2019 and 2020, according to STR and Tourism Economics’ latest forecast just released at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit. Late last year, revenue per available room (RevPAR) growth weakened as strong demand was offset by lower-than-expected average daily rate (ADR) growth. Now demand is softening.

For 2019, the forecast predicts the US hotel industry will report flat occupancy at 66.2%, a 2.3% rise in ADR to USD132.81 and a 2.3% lift in RevPAR to USD87.94. For 2020, it projects a -0.2% decline in occupancy, and smaller 2.2% and 1.9% rises in ADR and RevPAR, respectively.

This year, the study highlights the midscale segment as likely to report the only increase in occupancy (0.1%). Luxury chains are expected to post the highest growth rates in ADR (2.5%) and RevPAR (2.3%). While all segments should report RevPAR increases for 2019, the lowest rate of RevPAR growth is projected in the upper midscale segment (+1.7%).


The markets may be changing, but the European travel sector continues to welcome its January weekends

The ‘Sunshine Saturday’ and ‘Sunshine Sunday’ phenomenon lives on Europe with tour operator TUI revealing the annual trend of January weekend European travel bookings has continued into 2019. As sub-zero winter temperatures hit, many Europeans look ahead to a summer, sun and beach getaway to leave the winter blues behind.

In the German and UK markets, Saturdays in January are the busiest days of the year for holiday bookings and TUI reveals 12-Jan-2019 has been the most popular booking day of the year in both markets. In 2018, around half of TUI’s German guests booked their trip at least five months in advance with January clearly the peak booking month in all European markets.

Unlike the UK and Germany, TUI says Scandinavia and France see a spike in bookings on Sundays rather than Saturdays. In the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria, most holiday-seekers take their decision during the weekend and book their holiday on a Monday.

TUI’s analysis of bookings also shows that the smartphone and tablet are playing an increasingly important role in holidaymakers’ travel plans and bookings. In Scandinavia, this has already become the new normal with more than 80% of all bookings are made online. In Germany and Austria, by contrast, the retail store offering advice and services remains customers’ preferred booking channel.

TUI also acknowledges trends regarding the countries tipped to prove popular in 2019 are already emerging. The top destinations are Spain, Greece and Turkey. Turkey, in particular, is currently recording “significant growth” in booking numbers across all markets; the same trend is observed for Egypt.