Bowman’s Travel Brief: Experiencing New Things in a Familiar Place

ERIC BOWMAN | June 3, 2019 | 144 views

if you love to travel, chances are you have a favorite destination you’ve frequently visited. A go-to happy place, if you will.But how often do you do the same thing over and over each time you visit?Sure, there’s nothing wrong with hitting the same beach time and time again, staying at the same resort, visiting the same attractions or eating at the same restaurant. After all, there’s a reason you fell in love with the destination. You want that familiarity because it can be so therapeutic to be in your happy place and away from the stress of everyday life.However, if you’re one to re-visit a city, town or even country, it’s imperative you try something new. It can be scary at times but stepping out of your comfort zone during your travels has the power to change you.

Spotlight

Merit Travel Group

Since 1991, Merit has grown to become an industry leader and one of the largest independent travel companies in Canada. Merit’s 420 travel professionals located in offices across the country provide advice and services to more than 350,000 Canadian travellers every year. Merit Travel Group and its unique specialty brands including Merit Travel, Travelcuts, MeritBiz, Merit Loyalty and Exclusive Tours are jointly owned by the Merrithew Family and H.I.S. Co. Ltd. Based in Tokyo, H.I.S. is one of the largest global travel networks in the world.

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HOSPITALITY TRENDS

Age of Digital Concierge: Hotel Chatbots Are Redefining CX

Article | January 3, 2022

The travel industry is reviving. Tourist spots across the globe are packed with excited explorers. Though it feels like everything is going back to normal, the way people travel has changed. The hospitality tech revolution is making mundane tasks easier and the customer experience richer. Most travelers prefer self-service over waiting to be served. Online planning and bookings have picked up pace, so have contact-less check-in and 24/7 digital concierge. Hotels must swiftly meet these evolving demands or risk losing in the race. They must incorporate technology into their day-to-day operations to eliminate human error, increase their service efficiency, and, above all, offer an outstanding customer experience. One of the technology trends reshaping the travel and hospitality industry is digital concierge—hotel chatbots that bring the concierge desk into the palm of a guest’s hand. Convenient, right? A Sneak Peak into Hotel Chatbots Hotel chatbots are software applications that communicate with your hotel’s website page visitors and resolve their queries. They are either programmed to behave a certain way or can be AI-powered. Programmed chatbots are configured to answer a limited set of questions. However, they can collect visitor information so your customer executives can get in touch with prospects to resolve their queries or provide them with booking assistance. On the other hand, AI-powered chatbots use NLP (Natural Language Processing) and ML (Machine Learning) to analye human behaviour and accordingly answer questions. Digital Concierge Brings in Conversions Personalized communication forms the crux of customer experience. A desired, non-intrusive interaction between a guest and a chat bot can create strong engagement and help the guest to make a booking at your hotel. In such cases, the bot will forward the booking inquiries directly into the IBE (Internet Booking Engine) and strengthen your direct sales. 30-50% of the chatbot-prospect interactions result in IBE forwarding of booking inquiries. This statistic shows how accepting the guests are of the chatbot’s services. (Source: DialogShift, Olga Heuser) Chatbots can also be integrated into social media platforms and instant messenger platforms so that guests can directly make bookings from a platform of their choice. How are Hotel Chatbots Redefining CX? Apart from bringing in revenue through direct sales, hotel chatbots also create a solid customer experience for the guests, so they don’t go home unsatisfied and give you a good review online. Here are the ways in which they enhance the customer experience: 24/7 Availability- Chatbots promptly respond to guest queries round the clock Multi-Lingual Support- Languages are not a barrier for them Efficiency- They lighten your hotel staff’s load of answering guest queries Customer Retention- They collect guest information, which helps in retention and follow-up Brand Awareness- They are brand representatives and increase brand awareness through responsiveness Additionally, AI- powered chatbots can also: Highlight the hotel’s special features upon check-in Recommend places and activities to do around the hotel with pictures and links Request feedback from guests about services Assist with table reservations or pool-side orders The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas Used Rose to Impress Guests The introduction of Rose, a smart chatbot that converses with guests on The Cosmopolitan’s website, changed the game for the hotel. The bot’s playful personality wooed hotel guests. Those who made a booking directly from the website ended up spending 37% more than those who did not engage with her. Let’s Wrap It Up A hotel chatbot refines the concierge experience for guests through rapid response times and enhances your hotel’s AI marketing efforts. It can be an invaluable asset for hotel business owners looking to stay ahead in the race.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

Augmented Reality Transforming the Travel and Hospitality Industry

Article | April 28, 2022

“I believe that augmented reality will be the biggest technological revolution that happens in our lifetimes.” – Tim Sweeney, Founder and CEO of Epic Games Augmented reality (AR) has proved to be a significant concept in tourism and hospitality management in the past few years. It allows us to enhance the physical environment and enhance the experience of exploring the surrounding area. According to Grand View Research, the global market for augmented reality was worth USD 25.33 billion in 2021. From 2022 to 2030, the market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40.9%. As things keep pace with digitalization and this generation seeks quick and efficient yet reliable methods, every sector widely uses the application of augmented reality. According to Hospitality Tech, the market size of augmented reality will reach $198 billion by 2025, and the hotel business will be one of the key contributors to this income target. Effectively, Starwood, Marriott and Holiday Inn are already making a difference in the travel and hospitality industry by leveraging this technology. An investment in AR brings a lot of change in business revenue for both small hoteliers and prominent hotel tycoons. AR Improve Customer Experience for Travel and Hospitality Redefine the customer experience with augmented reality in the tourism industry. AR-based travel apps help businesses enhance their services and offer personalized experiences to their customers. By adding interactive hotel features that make the space more fun, you can get people to visit nearby attractions. Utilizing CX to maintain and expand a client base produces a terrific asset that positively affects ROI. CX effectively boosts customer lifetime value (LTV), which can become self-perpetuating. Companies that excel at CX and customer-centricity are 60% more profitable and generate 5.7% more revenue than those that don't. Ideas for Implementing AR in the Tourism and Hotel Industry AR is utilized chiefly via smartphones and offers many options concerning interactive experiences. AR in Excursions & Travel Attractions AR technology may be a terrific marketing tool for guiding first-time guests through the hotel and a great way to retain customers and provide more engaging experiences. With the application of augmented reality software, a standard tourist map comes to life. Moreover, AR technology enables clients to examine points of interest, restaurants, and other businesses. Your hotel restaurant may even use augmented reality to let customers explore the menu and ingredients in a new way by showing them 3D versions of the meals on their phones. Transportation If you have a travel mobile app with AR, you can point out the transportation objects to get the best possible directions, travel route, next destination, and places to travel to. Pokemon Go shows one such example of how you can use modern digital technologies to make the travel experience even better. It became the first popular augmented reality game. This AR app brought players out into the street and made them move and travel a lot. Scadi is one such AR app in travel for visitors of Alpine ski resorts. It uses advanced algorithms to create the most comfortable, safe and exciting routes for skiers and snowboarders. Integrates with other technology Using augmented reality in conjunction with other technologies such as beacon technology allows your hotel to more efficiently promote to visitors and upsell through push notifications. For example, through push notifications, hotels may give partner companies special offers or discounts, and vice versa, partner businesses can advertise the hotel. Hospitality Industry Must Make Room for AR for Better ROI In a post-pandemic context, the travel and hotel industries embrace technological advancements that enhance visitor experiences, eventually boosting corporate income and reducing operating expenses. Utilizing interactive technologies like AR, VR, and other interactive technologies increases operational efficiency, productivity, and ROI. By using augmented reality with CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) or EAM, you gain more understanding (Enterprise Asset Management). Augmented reality can assist facility managers in boosting the efficiency of their engineers and reducing the expense of ensuring their safety. AR will assist them in increasing their revenue by reducing their maintenance expenses. Using AR-based product models, the hospitality industry is gaining a significant competitive edge, resulting in faster sales cycles. Case Studies Holiday Inn During the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012, Holiday Inn introduced one of the first uses of Augmented Reality in a hotel setting. The experiences used picture recognition and chroma video. The program identified hotel locations and activated athlete video footage, merging real and virtual components. This Holiday Inn use case shows how hotels may leverage AR to develop unique guest experiences around local events. In addition, the campaign helped promote the hotel and bolster its status as the official hotel for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Premier Inn The Hub Hotel from Premier Inn, the largest hotel chain in the United Kingdom, is one of the few places to have adopted the AR technology back in 2016. The hotel provided a wall map of the local region in each room. Tourists could use their smartphones to read information about local areas of interest by pointing them at a wall. Conclusion The benefits of augmented reality in the travel and hospitality industries are immense. AR is a potent tool for increasing company potential and returns on investment. Utilizing innovative technology boosts your hotel's exposure and brand awareness while propelling it into the digital age. Augmented reality in the tourism industry truly sets you apart from the competition. FAQ How is augmented reality changing the travel & tourism industry? Augmented reality helps hotels enhance the physical locations they are attempting to attract visitors to, such as hotel rooms and local attractions. What is digital transformation in the hospitality industry? Digital transformation refers to how companies restructure themselves to adapt and modify their corporate culture to empower innovations that utilize technology and propel their enterprises to new levels of growth. What are the benefits of augmented reality? Creates unique customer experiences Reduces cognitive overload Increases engagement

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

Excellent Customer Experience in Travel Industry Generate Customer Loyalty

Article | June 16, 2022

As the impact of COVID-19 subsides, the devasted travel industry appears to be resuming normalcy with increased travel volumes. In addition, emerging tourism trends and technology in the travel industry have offered new possibilities for business travel to redefine itself. The present opportunities available in the travel sector may benefit your firm. However, customer experience in the travel industry has a significant impact on growing long-term loyalty. Providing a positive client experience is a significant problem for many in the travel and tourism industry. Customer Experience Is a Challenge to Recover Customer experience is a critical component of the travel and tourism industry. As travel volumes have increased in the post-covid era, so have negative travel experiences. Business travelers who commute frequently have higher expectations. For a very long time, they have voiced their dissatisfaction, even before the leisure travelers complained. This imbalance has been exacerbated by COVID-19. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, 38% of business passengers complained about the airline, double the percentage compared to leisure travelers. The actual question, though, is how to overcome this obstacle. Some companies may go above and beyond to reassure travelers with honesty, openness, and unmatched customer service. You may improve the customer experience by implementing the following ideas. Concentrate on the corporate culture Give specific examples of consumer advocacy Equip employees with the necessary tools According to a survey conducted by Think with Google, superior customer service is the most compelling aspect for high-value travelers. Additionally, 60% of them agree that customer service is the most crucial factor when it comes to picking a brand to travel with. CX Plays a Vital Role in Revenue Generation Managing customer experience in travel can enhance the brand-customer relationship, ultimately leading to revenue growth. The adoption of technology for travel booking, ticketing, and expenditure management has improved the customer experience. Satisfied customers increase income and assist firms in calculating the return on their travel and cost expenditures. Customer experience is a key differentiator that boosts customer happiness and loyalty, and both sells and establishes a competitive edge. “CX is the difference between success or slump.” — Chris Pescott, CEO of Perceptive. Annual business travel expenditures will reach $1.7 trillion globally by 2022. According to Statista, nearly 500 million business travels will take place withing the United States each year by 2022. Ways to Improve Customer Experience (CX) Use Tech to Create Breakthrough Customer Experiences Technology in the travel industry is regularly evolving. By putting technology at the center of each touchpoint, the industry is laying the groundwork for a successful customer experience in travel. Chatbots powered by AI and machine learning deliver client care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Chatbots have been intelligently developed using cutting-edge technology and may be used in place of humans. AI is constantly evolving, making it more trustworthy and effective as a commercial solution. Embrace an Omnichannel Mindset With mobile devices accounting for more than 50% of online traffic, multi-device digital experiences have become the norm. In addition, today's customers interact with companies across various offline and online channels, frequently switching several times, and each stage of the journey must be seamlessly connected and consistent. As a result, adopting omnichannel is one of the most significant changes you will undertake. Use Customer Journey Mapping To create a customer journey, you must first understand your consumer. By comparing journey maps to core KPIs, you may gain a deeper insight into your customer experience and identify areas of concern and opportunity. You may use trip maps to enhance the customer experience and visualize the customer experience in the future. Alternatively, you may influence organizational transformation from the stage of inspiration to the planning and execution phases. Utilize all touchpoints and seek new possibilities for interaction. Case studies: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines KLM's social care staff are well-known for their responsiveness and efficiency – the airline even shows a live countdown on its Twitter header picture to inform consumers when they may anticipate a response. However, what sets the organization apart is its ability to generate unique customer experiences. Qatar Airways Qatar Airways is elevating the business class travel experience. At a recent travel industry conference in Berlin, the airline unveiled its Business Class QSuite. This is the first time a business class cabin has been offered and sold with a real double bed. However, the organization goes a step further by providing value to consumers traveling for business. Additionally, the QSuite may be an open work and meeting room. Multiple configuration choices appeal to clients seeking privacy or personalization. A score of 9.2 for audience insights indicates that the brand is in tune with its social audience well enough to cultivate an impressive number of committed followers. Conclusion The travel and tourism industry significantly benefits from nurturing an outstanding customer experience. Supremacy in customer experience can be offered with the help of sophisticated digital technology that can quantify effects and forecast behavior. In addition, as 'bleisure' travel continues to grow in popularity to blend business and leisure time, the customer experience in travel is increasing in relevance. FAQ: What are the benefits of a good customer experience? A good customer experience increases sales and creates customer loyalty. Moreover, it reduces complaints. How would you define excellent customer service? Great customer service means responding promptly to a client's wants, being responsive to their concerns, and offering an enthusiastic level of care. Do you value customer service or customer experience more? Consumer service results in a positive customer experience. Both are critical to the business's success.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

Travel Agency Software to Automate and Revolutionize the Travel Industry

Article | April 28, 2022

Technological advancements and the paradigm shift in the travel industry post COVID have altered the way we travel. Businesses have elevated their operations to a whole new level due to technological advances. The digital age has facilitated the travel industry's rapid recovery from the COVID crisis. Additionally, travel firms are embracing automation to save time and reallocate resources. Business travel is resuming as restrictions ease. Companies spend a huge amount of money on travel. According to the York Journal, business travel has increased year after year and is expected to grow to be worth $1.7 trillion in 2022. It further states that businesses allocate around 10% of their revenue on business travel expenditure. So, now is the time for businesses to deploy travel software applications to automate some tasks. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) corporate travel costs is expected to climb by 26% in 2021 and 34% in 2022, despite the slow recovery. The Nelson Research suggests that travel industry experts anticipate that the global digital travel market will grow at a 3.8% annual rate to reach $11.4 trillion. With these rising numbers in mind, travel agencies must step up their efforts to make the most of the situation. Travel agencies often require different types of travel agency software, each serving a unique purpose supporting efficient and seamless operation. However, businesses must strategically incorporate automation into your travel system. B2B Travel System - Automate Intelligently A holistic travel agency software solution includes a travel system that automates real-time operations and streamlines the travel process in less than an hour. Consider the nature of your firm while deciding on a software package and determining which business procedures should or should not be automated. Automated travel industry software, for example, accelerates sales, increases staff productivity, centralizes information, improves accuracy, streamlines booking systems, and coordinates and explores customer data. An automated travel software is mobile and tablet friendly, allowing travel agencies to book hotels, tours, transfers, and other related activities through mobile devices and websites. It improves efficiency and enables the agency to save money and time. Businesses Now Prefer Adoption of Technology Drivers for Smoother Customer Experience (CX) The travel industry is highly dependent on customer experience. Therefore, enhanced customer experience is the new loyalty currency for the travel and hospitality industry. Travel agents and tour operators utilize travel agency software to automate their regular processes. Many predict that emerging technologies, ranging from AI-driven personal assistants to connected devices, will increase opportunities to serve travelers better. 33% of tourists use a virtual travel assistant to plan their trips, says hotelMize. In a survey conducted by DMA, about 59% of participants stated that they choose a travel company based on its value for money, and 58% prefer a travel company based on customer service. Software for travel agencies simplifies the process of online booking, inventory management, package customization, back-office administration, itinerary design, facilitating business leads, and accounting to assist travel agencies in increasing bookings and lowering costs. Consumers demand a seamless experience that is personalized to their specific travel requirements. With cutting-edge technology in place, travel and hotel businesses can significantly enhances customer experience (CX) and foster loyalty that inspires future visits and recommendations. In addition, the travel experience will be driven forward by technology, as customers will rely on AI and other customer experience technologies to assist them in managing the obstacles associated with modern travel. List of Travel Agency Software That Can Transform Your Travel Business Travel agent software enables travel agencies and associated organizations to boost revenue and simplify reporting. Choose travel agency software that can be customized to meet your specific requirements. Here are some travel agency software options that can be considered. Travefy “When I promote my services to my clients, Travefy itineraries are one of my selling points.” Lene Minyard, Owner - Perfectly Planned Journeys Travefy lets travel consultants, tour operators, and other travel professionals save time, provide good deals to consumers, and increase sales by utilizing simple tools. This software generates visually appealing client itineraries or proposals. Over 100 supplier integrations over 625 city guides Live flight database CRM integrations ClientBase ClientBase is a travel agent-specific customer relationship management (CRM) program. Its advanced and enriching features make it a standout in tour and travel operator software, providing solutions for enterprises and travel agencies. A marketing database, a travel planner, and a contact manager are all rolled into one. ClientBase also integrates with remote information systems and booking engines. The core ClientBase features are listed below: Itinerary creation Reservation management Payment processing Travenza Travenza is a cloud-based travel booking software for travel companies, tour operators, agents, and consultants. The suite includes reservation administration, quota management, payment processing, and marketing functionality. Rezdy Rezdy is a cloud-based business-to-business technology that enables tour operators to sell their products online and through different distribution channels. The open platform enables customers to connect their internal systems and online apps to a supplied booking engine. In addition, it assists distribution channels such as online travel agencies, marketplaces, and hotel chains locate and acquiring additional clients' items. Conclusion According to Zippia, the business travel sector is expected to experience a CAGR of 13.2% between 2021 and 2028.Therefore, travel companies must integrate new and immersive technology to expedite the process and provide a seamless travel experience for tech-savvy travelers. Technology has the ability to act as a generational catalyst for customer loyalty. FAQ What are the benefits of automation in the travel industry? Boosts sales Reduces costs Data and documents can be centralized in an organization Increases customer satisfaction and loyalty What is B2B travel software? B2B travel software streamlines various travel operations. It helps travel agents and agencies access real-time data. What system do travel agents use? Travel agencies use airline inventory from multiple GDS (Global Distribution Systems) to find seat fares and book tickets.

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Spotlight

Merit Travel Group

Since 1991, Merit has grown to become an industry leader and one of the largest independent travel companies in Canada. Merit’s 420 travel professionals located in offices across the country provide advice and services to more than 350,000 Canadian travellers every year. Merit Travel Group and its unique specialty brands including Merit Travel, Travelcuts, MeritBiz, Merit Loyalty and Exclusive Tours are jointly owned by the Merrithew Family and H.I.S. Co. Ltd. Based in Tokyo, H.I.S. is one of the largest global travel networks in the world.

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HOSPITALITY TRENDS

Loews Hotels & Co Breaks Ground on New $550 Million Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center

Loews Hotels & Co | October 13, 2021

Loews Hotels & Co, a wholly owned subsidiary of Loews Corporation, has officially broken ground on the new $550 million Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center. Executives from the company were joined by Arlington Mayor Jim Ross, former Mayor Jeff Williams, Chairman & Managing Partner of the Texas Rangers Ray Davis, The Cordish Companies' Director of Communications, Cari Furman, along with members of the Arlington City Council and other community and business leaders, to recognize and celebrate this milestone. The addition of the Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center, a full-service resort, will further strengthen Arlington's robust convention and tourism opportunities. The city is one of the premier sports and entertainment destinations in the United States, and a leading destination for meetings, events, and leisure travel. "Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center will allow us to capitalize on what we do best – combine a unique meetings and events destination with a best-in-class leisure resort. This significant investment further underscores our confidence and commitment not only in the great City of Arlington, Texas but also in the strength of the travel and tourism industry and our belief in the recovery of post-pandemic travel." Jonathan Tisch, Chairman & CEO, Loews Hotels & Co. This property will be the second Arlington hotel for the hospitality company. Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center is scheduled to open in early 2024. This new hotel will be located across from Live! by Loews, which is a joint venture among Loews Hotels & Co, the Texas Rangers and The Cordish Companies, built on the former Texas Rangers' Lot J parking lot. "Arlington has some of the best built-in demand generators in the country, such as AT&T Stadium and Globe-Life Field. These attractions, coupled with Loews Hotels' track record of offering distinctive experiences alongside operational excellence, will help establish the Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center as a centerpiece in The American Dream City," said Alex Tisch, President, Loews Hotels & Co. "Our goal is for Arlington, Texas to stand alongside Las Vegas and Orland as one of the preeminent family, sports and entertainment destinations in America." This new project marks the first time that Loews Hotels & Co is acting as the developer as well as the owner and branded operator. The nearly $550 million project is financed with Loews Hotels & Co capital and a $300 million loan from MetLife Investment Management. "Arlington continues to build on our incredible economic momentum, and today's groundbreaking is another exciting example of our commitment to job creation and providing world-class amenities to our residents and visitors," said Arlington Mayor Jim Ross. "Loews Hotels & Co is a best-in-class hotel brand and with innovative partners like Loews Hotels & Co, the Tisch Family, the Texas Rangers and The Cordish Companies, we're able to further establish The American Dream City as a premier destination for visitors around the globe." Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center will feature: 888 guestrooms and suites 200,000 square feet of indoor meeting space 66,000 square feet of outdoor space, including an oversized event lawn Five food and beverage outlets, including a three-meal indoor/outdoor restaurant featuring two wood-fire pizza ovens and homemade pasta made on-site and a soon-to-be-named third-party restaurant from a well-known restaurateur 1,550-space parking garage Resort-style beach club with two pools, man-made beach, cabanas, fire pits and water slide The Arlington Convention Center, also operated by Loews Hotels & Co, will be located within the hotel Situated between Globe Life Field and AT&T Stadium, Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center will be accessible to the 300-room Live! by Loews via a Sky Bridge. The two hotels combined will offer nearly 1,200 guestrooms and more than 300,000 square feet of meeting and event space. "The addition of the Loews Arlington Hotel and the Arlington Convention Center bring the development of the Arlington Entertainment District to another whole level," said Texas Rangers Chairman and Managing Partner Ray Davis. "The existing world-class sports and entertainment venues will now be complimented by incredible hotel and meeting facilities that will attract national and international events of all kinds. I want to thank our partners, the City of Arlington, Loews Hotels & Co, and The Cordish Companies for sharing our vision that has become a spectacular reality in a few short years." Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center is part of phase two of the development of Arlington's Entertainment District. Continuing their public-private partnership with the City of Arlington, Loews Hotels & Co, The Texas Rangers and The Cordish Companies are building upon the momentum and success of Texas Live!, Live! by Loews, and the Rangers' new Globe Life Field. Additional features of the new expansion include a mixed-use residential building and a Spark coworking space, both developed by The Cordish Companies. "It is an honor for The Cordish Companies to continue our partnership with the Texas Rangers, Loews Hotels & Co and the City of Arlington to deliver a transformative project for Arlington," said Blake Cordish, Principal of The Cordish Companies. "Loews is one of the preeminent hoteliers in North America and a leader in the convention and meetings industry. The groundbreaking of the new Loews Arlington Hotel and Arlington Convention Center is an important next step in our commitment to create a world-class, mixed-use development that will cement Arlington as one of the leading premier sports, entertainment, culture, hospitality and tourism destinations in the country." Loews Hotels & Co is working with HKS as the architect and Looney & Associates on the interior design for this new development. Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center is being built by JE Dunn, who recently built the Loews Kansas City Hotel, which opened in June 2020. Arlington's Con-Real is also involved in the construction of the project. About Loews Hotels & Co Headquartered in New York City, Loews Hotels & Co is rooted in deep heritage and excellence in service. The hospitality company encompasses branded independent Loews Hotels, and a solid mix of partner-brand hotels. Loews Hotels & Co owns and/or operates 26 hotels and resorts across the U.S. and Canada, including the new Loews Kansas City and Universal's Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites, the eighth hotel in partnership with Comcast NBC Universal that opened at the end of 2020. Located in major city centers and resort destinations from coast to coast, the Loews Hotels portfolio features properties grounded in family heritage and dedicated to delivering unscripted guest moments with a handcrafted approach.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

Washbnb is Raising Funds for a Tech-Enabled Linen Solution for Short-Term Rentals and Hotels

washbnb | May 21, 2021

Washbnb, a tech-enabled linen solution for the short-term rental and hotel industries, has launched a crowdfunding campaign via Wefunder. The startup eliminates the laundry problem for property managers and Airbnb hosts whilst solving a key operational pain point for the reliable supply of hotel-quality bed and linen. Washbnb is democratizing the investment process as a part of its community-driven strategy to grow the business for all stakeholders involved. By launching its seed round via crowdfunding with Wefunder, everyone has the chance to take a position during a startup company during a booming hospitality sector before travel’s predicted comeback, not just wealthy accredited investors. The short-term rental sector has remained resilient during the pandemic and bookings are now at an all-time high consistent with AirDNA going into a summer of revenge travel. Washbnb is about to become an important tool for hosts and managers by eliminating common laundry challenges through automated linen procurement and management. As a tech-enabled solution, the corporate controls linen logistics and quality through data insights while exploring the newest in water and logistics tech to make sure an environmentally sustainable and efficient service. The result's an improved guest experience that reduces travel’s footprint while making businesses easier to work and grow. Daniel Cruz, co-founder, and CEO of washbnb started the corporate in 2020 after handling the gap within the marketplace for an automatic linen solution as an Airbnb host himself battling laundry. Milwaukee-based, washbnb is rooted during a resurgent Midwest city featuring a fast-growing water-tech industry and fertile ground for both hospitality companies and laundry machine manufacturers. Washbnb pivoted during the pandemic with washhero.org and aims to create a community-driven, sustainable company with zebra stripes. Daniel says: “Our customers drive what we do, and that they love washbnb. We take their biggest challenge off of their plates and that we roll in the hay in higher quality, safer, and far more sustainable way. Hosting may be a great business, just check out Airbnb’s recent IPO, and we’re here to support these great businesses on the bottom, where they have it most. It’s a completely new category of business that must be created. Our customers see that and need to take a position because they need to assist. That’s how we build community.” Investment at this stage will fuel talent acquisition, research, and development also as future expansion into fast-growing, short-term rental destinations.

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HOSPITALITY TRENDS

An ex-Holiday Inn Executive is Behind a $500 Million Plan to Jazz Up Troubled Hotels

Holiday Inn | April 23, 2021

Ken Hamlet, the former CEO of Holiday Inn, intends to use a $500 million war chest to acquire limited-service hotels (those without facilities such as a restaurant or spa) and reposition them as properties with a more upscale customer experience. Consider it adding more of the Four Seasons experience to roadside hotels, as Hamlet put it. He was CEO of Holiday Inn for nine years in the 1980s and early 1990s, and during that time the business was purchased by IHG and introduced or acquired brands such as Embassy Suites, Crowne Plaza, Hampton Inn, and Harrah's. Rather than starting his fund, Hamlet joined Olive Tree Hotels & Resorts, a hotel investment group where he now serves as CEO, to pursue deals. “I began to think of maybe now is a very good time to take advantage of getting back into the hotel industry and purchasing distressed assets or buying assets that were well-located, well-branded, relatively well-managed, and that were being distressed and only needed additional capital to get them up to 2021 standards,” he said this week. The only thing is that there is a litany of hotel investors drooling about hotel investment prospects that did not come true before the pandemic. Investment firms such as CGI Merchant Group, in collaboration with New York Yankees baseball legend Alex Rodriguez, and Bainbridge DXS are also scouring the market for hotel acquisitions of hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years. Dreamscape Cos., owner of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, has more than $1 billion in cash to purchase hotels, including troubled business-transient and convention-focused properties. Olive Tree's capital distinguishes itself by concentrating on limited-service hotels in a mix of the 75 major U.S. cities as well as some secondary and tertiary markets such as Las Cruces, New Mexico. As long as there is a nearby demand driver, such as a hospital, university, or office park, the company can seek a deal. The majority of buyers are looking for troubled hotels in metropolitan markets or resorts in drive-to and leisure destinations. Olive Tree intends to upgrade its guest rooms with more innovative features, such as automated check-ins and co-working-inspired workspaces in public areas. But, in addition to the technology, Hamlet desires enhanced client support, such as staffers adding personal touches to the guest experience, such as a bottle of wine or glass of champagne delivered to a room or hors d'oeuvres and chocolate bars in the lobby. The move is reminiscent of how Holiday Inn became a brand. Kemmons Wilson established the roadside motel business in the early 1950s after becoming dissatisfied with the choices offered on a road trip between Memphis, Tenn., and Washington, D.C. He set out to fix it because there was no consistency or quality in the accommodation experience. Olive Tree intends to replicate the success of existing limited-service hotels that are underperforming. Many of Olive Tree's acquisitions would be branded by major companies such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and IHG. However, the company is not opposed to maintaining property independence or even launching its brand. It is unclear when any of those acquisition goals will become available. Olive Tree reportedly has one hotel under contract and another "in the works." Due to a mix of bank forbearance on mortgages and several rounds of federal stimulus by offerings such as the Paycheck Protection Program of forgivable small business loans, there haven't been as many distressed hotel properties exchanged throughout the last year. The Olive Tree team does not anticipate having to wait much longer.

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HOSPITALITY TRENDS

Loews Hotels & Co Breaks Ground on New $550 Million Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center

Loews Hotels & Co | October 13, 2021

Loews Hotels & Co, a wholly owned subsidiary of Loews Corporation, has officially broken ground on the new $550 million Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center. Executives from the company were joined by Arlington Mayor Jim Ross, former Mayor Jeff Williams, Chairman & Managing Partner of the Texas Rangers Ray Davis, The Cordish Companies' Director of Communications, Cari Furman, along with members of the Arlington City Council and other community and business leaders, to recognize and celebrate this milestone. The addition of the Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center, a full-service resort, will further strengthen Arlington's robust convention and tourism opportunities. The city is one of the premier sports and entertainment destinations in the United States, and a leading destination for meetings, events, and leisure travel. "Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center will allow us to capitalize on what we do best – combine a unique meetings and events destination with a best-in-class leisure resort. This significant investment further underscores our confidence and commitment not only in the great City of Arlington, Texas but also in the strength of the travel and tourism industry and our belief in the recovery of post-pandemic travel." Jonathan Tisch, Chairman & CEO, Loews Hotels & Co. This property will be the second Arlington hotel for the hospitality company. Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center is scheduled to open in early 2024. This new hotel will be located across from Live! by Loews, which is a joint venture among Loews Hotels & Co, the Texas Rangers and The Cordish Companies, built on the former Texas Rangers' Lot J parking lot. "Arlington has some of the best built-in demand generators in the country, such as AT&T Stadium and Globe-Life Field. These attractions, coupled with Loews Hotels' track record of offering distinctive experiences alongside operational excellence, will help establish the Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center as a centerpiece in The American Dream City," said Alex Tisch, President, Loews Hotels & Co. "Our goal is for Arlington, Texas to stand alongside Las Vegas and Orland as one of the preeminent family, sports and entertainment destinations in America." This new project marks the first time that Loews Hotels & Co is acting as the developer as well as the owner and branded operator. The nearly $550 million project is financed with Loews Hotels & Co capital and a $300 million loan from MetLife Investment Management. "Arlington continues to build on our incredible economic momentum, and today's groundbreaking is another exciting example of our commitment to job creation and providing world-class amenities to our residents and visitors," said Arlington Mayor Jim Ross. "Loews Hotels & Co is a best-in-class hotel brand and with innovative partners like Loews Hotels & Co, the Tisch Family, the Texas Rangers and The Cordish Companies, we're able to further establish The American Dream City as a premier destination for visitors around the globe." Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center will feature: 888 guestrooms and suites 200,000 square feet of indoor meeting space 66,000 square feet of outdoor space, including an oversized event lawn Five food and beverage outlets, including a three-meal indoor/outdoor restaurant featuring two wood-fire pizza ovens and homemade pasta made on-site and a soon-to-be-named third-party restaurant from a well-known restaurateur 1,550-space parking garage Resort-style beach club with two pools, man-made beach, cabanas, fire pits and water slide The Arlington Convention Center, also operated by Loews Hotels & Co, will be located within the hotel Situated between Globe Life Field and AT&T Stadium, Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center will be accessible to the 300-room Live! by Loews via a Sky Bridge. The two hotels combined will offer nearly 1,200 guestrooms and more than 300,000 square feet of meeting and event space. "The addition of the Loews Arlington Hotel and the Arlington Convention Center bring the development of the Arlington Entertainment District to another whole level," said Texas Rangers Chairman and Managing Partner Ray Davis. "The existing world-class sports and entertainment venues will now be complimented by incredible hotel and meeting facilities that will attract national and international events of all kinds. I want to thank our partners, the City of Arlington, Loews Hotels & Co, and The Cordish Companies for sharing our vision that has become a spectacular reality in a few short years." Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center is part of phase two of the development of Arlington's Entertainment District. Continuing their public-private partnership with the City of Arlington, Loews Hotels & Co, The Texas Rangers and The Cordish Companies are building upon the momentum and success of Texas Live!, Live! by Loews, and the Rangers' new Globe Life Field. Additional features of the new expansion include a mixed-use residential building and a Spark coworking space, both developed by The Cordish Companies. "It is an honor for The Cordish Companies to continue our partnership with the Texas Rangers, Loews Hotels & Co and the City of Arlington to deliver a transformative project for Arlington," said Blake Cordish, Principal of The Cordish Companies. "Loews is one of the preeminent hoteliers in North America and a leader in the convention and meetings industry. The groundbreaking of the new Loews Arlington Hotel and Arlington Convention Center is an important next step in our commitment to create a world-class, mixed-use development that will cement Arlington as one of the leading premier sports, entertainment, culture, hospitality and tourism destinations in the country." Loews Hotels & Co is working with HKS as the architect and Looney & Associates on the interior design for this new development. Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center is being built by JE Dunn, who recently built the Loews Kansas City Hotel, which opened in June 2020. Arlington's Con-Real is also involved in the construction of the project. About Loews Hotels & Co Headquartered in New York City, Loews Hotels & Co is rooted in deep heritage and excellence in service. The hospitality company encompasses branded independent Loews Hotels, and a solid mix of partner-brand hotels. Loews Hotels & Co owns and/or operates 26 hotels and resorts across the U.S. and Canada, including the new Loews Kansas City and Universal's Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites, the eighth hotel in partnership with Comcast NBC Universal that opened at the end of 2020. Located in major city centers and resort destinations from coast to coast, the Loews Hotels portfolio features properties grounded in family heritage and dedicated to delivering unscripted guest moments with a handcrafted approach.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

Washbnb is Raising Funds for a Tech-Enabled Linen Solution for Short-Term Rentals and Hotels

washbnb | May 21, 2021

Washbnb, a tech-enabled linen solution for the short-term rental and hotel industries, has launched a crowdfunding campaign via Wefunder. The startup eliminates the laundry problem for property managers and Airbnb hosts whilst solving a key operational pain point for the reliable supply of hotel-quality bed and linen. Washbnb is democratizing the investment process as a part of its community-driven strategy to grow the business for all stakeholders involved. By launching its seed round via crowdfunding with Wefunder, everyone has the chance to take a position during a startup company during a booming hospitality sector before travel’s predicted comeback, not just wealthy accredited investors. The short-term rental sector has remained resilient during the pandemic and bookings are now at an all-time high consistent with AirDNA going into a summer of revenge travel. Washbnb is about to become an important tool for hosts and managers by eliminating common laundry challenges through automated linen procurement and management. As a tech-enabled solution, the corporate controls linen logistics and quality through data insights while exploring the newest in water and logistics tech to make sure an environmentally sustainable and efficient service. The result's an improved guest experience that reduces travel’s footprint while making businesses easier to work and grow. Daniel Cruz, co-founder, and CEO of washbnb started the corporate in 2020 after handling the gap within the marketplace for an automatic linen solution as an Airbnb host himself battling laundry. Milwaukee-based, washbnb is rooted during a resurgent Midwest city featuring a fast-growing water-tech industry and fertile ground for both hospitality companies and laundry machine manufacturers. Washbnb pivoted during the pandemic with washhero.org and aims to create a community-driven, sustainable company with zebra stripes. Daniel says: “Our customers drive what we do, and that they love washbnb. We take their biggest challenge off of their plates and that we roll in the hay in higher quality, safer, and far more sustainable way. Hosting may be a great business, just check out Airbnb’s recent IPO, and we’re here to support these great businesses on the bottom, where they have it most. It’s a completely new category of business that must be created. Our customers see that and need to take a position because they need to assist. That’s how we build community.” Investment at this stage will fuel talent acquisition, research, and development also as future expansion into fast-growing, short-term rental destinations.

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HOSPITALITY TRENDS

An ex-Holiday Inn Executive is Behind a $500 Million Plan to Jazz Up Troubled Hotels

Holiday Inn | April 23, 2021

Ken Hamlet, the former CEO of Holiday Inn, intends to use a $500 million war chest to acquire limited-service hotels (those without facilities such as a restaurant or spa) and reposition them as properties with a more upscale customer experience. Consider it adding more of the Four Seasons experience to roadside hotels, as Hamlet put it. He was CEO of Holiday Inn for nine years in the 1980s and early 1990s, and during that time the business was purchased by IHG and introduced or acquired brands such as Embassy Suites, Crowne Plaza, Hampton Inn, and Harrah's. Rather than starting his fund, Hamlet joined Olive Tree Hotels & Resorts, a hotel investment group where he now serves as CEO, to pursue deals. “I began to think of maybe now is a very good time to take advantage of getting back into the hotel industry and purchasing distressed assets or buying assets that were well-located, well-branded, relatively well-managed, and that were being distressed and only needed additional capital to get them up to 2021 standards,” he said this week. The only thing is that there is a litany of hotel investors drooling about hotel investment prospects that did not come true before the pandemic. Investment firms such as CGI Merchant Group, in collaboration with New York Yankees baseball legend Alex Rodriguez, and Bainbridge DXS are also scouring the market for hotel acquisitions of hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years. Dreamscape Cos., owner of the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, has more than $1 billion in cash to purchase hotels, including troubled business-transient and convention-focused properties. Olive Tree's capital distinguishes itself by concentrating on limited-service hotels in a mix of the 75 major U.S. cities as well as some secondary and tertiary markets such as Las Cruces, New Mexico. As long as there is a nearby demand driver, such as a hospital, university, or office park, the company can seek a deal. The majority of buyers are looking for troubled hotels in metropolitan markets or resorts in drive-to and leisure destinations. Olive Tree intends to upgrade its guest rooms with more innovative features, such as automated check-ins and co-working-inspired workspaces in public areas. But, in addition to the technology, Hamlet desires enhanced client support, such as staffers adding personal touches to the guest experience, such as a bottle of wine or glass of champagne delivered to a room or hors d'oeuvres and chocolate bars in the lobby. The move is reminiscent of how Holiday Inn became a brand. Kemmons Wilson established the roadside motel business in the early 1950s after becoming dissatisfied with the choices offered on a road trip between Memphis, Tenn., and Washington, D.C. He set out to fix it because there was no consistency or quality in the accommodation experience. Olive Tree intends to replicate the success of existing limited-service hotels that are underperforming. Many of Olive Tree's acquisitions would be branded by major companies such as Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, and IHG. However, the company is not opposed to maintaining property independence or even launching its brand. It is unclear when any of those acquisition goals will become available. Olive Tree reportedly has one hotel under contract and another "in the works." Due to a mix of bank forbearance on mortgages and several rounds of federal stimulus by offerings such as the Paycheck Protection Program of forgivable small business loans, there haven't been as many distressed hotel properties exchanged throughout the last year. The Olive Tree team does not anticipate having to wait much longer.

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Events