Article | July 18, 2023
It would be an understatement to say that the recent pandemic is ushering in a seismic shift for the travel trade, which suffered a collective gut punch as COVID-19 unrelentingly raged across the globe. New health and safety protocols, crisis management plans and other operational touchpoints are being overhauled to help those in—and dependent upon—the travel industry better pivot and adapt to the unforeseen. For travelers, priorities and sensibilities have also evolved on multiple fronts. For one, various reports extrapolate how privacy has become the new luxury.
In fact, a “Covid Travel Outlook 2021” travel sentiment survey by Indagare found that travelers “feel more comfortable renting a home or private villa for added privacy” and that “more than half of those surveyed said that they are 54 percent more likely to rent a home than they were prior to coronavirus, preferring to ‘Stay at homes not hotels,’ for added security and peace of mind.” Other reports tout the key advantages of private luxury villa accommodations, with privacy and exclusive use entrenched among them.
Amid the surge in category popularity, travelers must also consider ways to aptly vet luxe private villa options amid a burgeoning field. According to an Indagare.com story outlining the benefits of “going private,” proximity is one overarching booking factor noting that “for some travelers, a house close to town or affiliated with a nearby resort or hotel provides the perfect combination of exclusivity and access (to restaurants, coffee shops, fitness classes, etc.). Others prefer staying someplace further removed, opting for a home with fewer amenities or a lavish villa with every convenience under the sun.”
The article also points out another critical aspect that, all too often, is taken for granted: availability. The story cites the reality that “accommodations can fill up months or even a year in advance,” which some more spontaneous wanderers might not expect. Relative to post-pandemic issues, the story further cautions that “this year, with exclusivity at an unprecedented premium and fewer destinations open to international arrivals, early planning is crucial. One reason: Many travelers are opting for longer stays, now that remote work and Zoom classes are ubiquitous, meaning there’s less turnover. For these extended trips—workcations or staycations—having strong WiFi, reliable phone service and separate areas for being productive are key factors when choosing the right rental.”
With this and other public discourse helping spur private villa reservations, I sought to connect with one purveyor in the space that is making due strides: Destinations in Paradise. This boutique agency offers a suite of architectural five-star private villas in four locales: The Big Island and Kauai, Hawaii as well as Los Cabos, Mexico and Mendocino, California. Having personally experienced this company’s brand of haute hospitality on the Big Island, I sought to connect with the founders—David Cohen and Howard Appel—for some clarity on how they’ve apparently adapted so well in the post-pandemic era. Here’s what they had to say.
MK: So, first, let’s talk about the properties, themselves, and also your company at large. What sets Destinations in Paradise apart from other luxury home and private villa purveyors in the various regions where you operate?
Cohen: It's essentially our caliber of white glove service, which is highly personalized and with the very best amenities that can be provided. The company was started because we wanted to have some fun, as Howard and I had been retired a while. We wanted to give people, especially those desiring privacy and security, the kind of high-caliber experience that we would expect. When someone arrives at one of our homes, they're greeted and welcomed with enthusiasm and everything to elevate the experience is there. This includes the best linens, a house full of flowers and arrival gifts. In Mendocino, we leave fresh-baked goods and wine. In Mexico, our guests are greeted with cold towels and margaritas. Plus, any special requests are accommodated. Even when guests depart, we give them a thank you gift for having booked a stay with us. Overall, it’s a very personalized experience. It’s akin to having a member of the family come and stay. You get up early in the morning, make them breakfast and generally make them feel at home … that this is their home for the duration of the visit. The difference is that it's a five-star experience at every touch point.
Appel: We, ourselves, like to travel in luxury and, as we started acquiring the properties, we realized that this is a great opportunity to offer to other people the same kind of treatment we enjoy. It's the way we all would love to be treated. And we think we offer it differently and more special than others. The business sort of just fell into place as bookings escalated and we started to acquire additional properties.
MK: In the luxury travel space, much is said about the importance of personal touches to elevate the experience. So, can you provide an example of things you all do in this regard to go over-and-above for high-end luxury travelers?
Cohen: Here's one interesting example about the Mexican property, for example: It's two acres of the most gorgeous landscaping that you've ever seen. Even though it's in the middle of a desert, we are desalinating seawater using solar power, so the yards and the landscaping and the flowers are all very lush, but still desert-type plants. The interesting thing is that Howard and I have worked together for close to 40 years and, until we actually got into this business, I had no idea that he had this artistic flair. The landscaping at all of the houses is beyond spectacular. My own personal favorite is the Mendocino home, which has the equivalent of an English country garden. You can just go and sit in there and read a book, sitting in the fresh air with beautiful butterflies and bees buzzing around. The Hawaiian property is the same; it’s just gorgeous, perfect Hawaii.
Appel: It's important to note that these homes are indoor-outdoor homes. We want to make sure we carry the luxury on both sides. If you actually do a search of our home in Cabo on Google Earth, you can easily spot it because it's the only significant patch of green anywhere along the east scape. This kind of lush, natural beauty is just one of the many ways that we cater to our guests relative to the luxurious aspects both inside and outside of the homes.
MK: You touched on some of it already, but what are some other special amenities and activities that you offer in, and around, the homes that are available to guests?
Appel: One key aspect is that each home comes with a concierge service. Our guests can partake in any activity in the local surroundings. We try to offer the opportunities within the local community and try to personalize that. In Mexico, it might be premiere deep-sea fishing, surfing and paddle boarding. In Mendocino, we're about 30-minutes from Anderson Valley, so we can arrange for private wine tours. Especially during the recent pandemic, to help our guests have fun but also avoid big crowds was important to us. Of course, the homes in Hawaii and Mexico have beautiful pools, swim-up bars and each property has its own set of unique amenities on-site a like solar-lighted tennis court. In fact, when we travel to Mexico—in the seven or eight times we've been there—I think we've left the property twice. There's no reason to go elsewhere because everything is there with you. Whatever you want to do, whatever the guests would like, we can make it happen.
MK: Speaking of the pandemic, obviously the past year and a half has been tough for the travel industry, so how have the recent health concerns impacted your business with respect to private villa versus hotel, resort or other kinds of accommodations? And, also, the guest experience while actually visiting a property?
Appel: We took COVID very seriously from the beginning and, yes, 2020 was a hard year for us. We lost almost all of our business, but we used that down time as an opportunity to continue to enhance the homes. Even now, when guests come to one of our properties, they're greeted in a manner that best assures their health and safety. We have our house managers maintain their distance and use masks, of course. But, during the guests’ stay, we also make sure we work around their calendars to not intrude on their stay there. We take it very seriously. And, in fact, when a guest leaves, we have a minimum 48 hours between guests so we can properly clean and sanitize the home for the next guest.
MK: Many people often associate private villa experiences more with leisure travel versus business. But I know Destinations in Paradise properties are also utilized in business—especially when there are privacy, exclusivity and health-related preferences. Plus, of course, the properties are also perfectly suited for corporate events, retreats and even utilized as incentives and rewards for employees and business partners. So, tell us about these kinds of corporate benefits.
Cohen: Even though the houses are focused on providing a safe, comfortable environment for families and extended small events, we do also host small, medium and large-scale corporate events at the houses. Whether it's a two-person law firm figuring out how they're going to run their businesses remotely, to a large distillery that wants to try and get their name out for a new product for, say, tequila in Mexico, our homes are an apt venue. Of course, we host weddings and social media is prompting bookings from people like rappers who want a place to chill out and rethink what their next shows or postings are going to be. And we've hosted philanthropic events like releasing baby turtles in the beaches of Mexico to address species endangerment. For that, a university in Mexico held a business meeting at our property, and as a gift we paid and supported their release of 600 hatchlings. Howard has also had some dealings with movie studios that are interested in hosting either corporate get togethers and business strategy meetings. And, in at least two instances that I can recall, they’ve considered using the homes as part of a movie production. I should also mention that each of the homes have the ability to cater for large and small groups. If we bring chefs in, that event never ever needs to leave the property. The house in Mexico, for instance, has two kitchens that are fully capable of catering to as many people as the property can accommodate, which is substantial, but each of the homes have the ability to cater internally and not rely on outside services.
Appel: All the homes offer businesses a unique opportunity to host meetings and events, from the very large as in Mexico, to even Mendocino for smaller gatherings. They’re all unique and offer the privacy, security and comfort that private villa venues offer—all, of course, with our discerning five-star touch.
Article | May 5, 2023
Discover the solutions and services of the top 25 revolutionary travel management companies that are transforming the industry in 2023. Integrate the one adhering your business needs and budget.
Businesses seeking stress-free and streamlined corporate travel solutions can rely on travel management companies. These experts provide customized travel arrangements, taking care of every aspect of business travel, from flight and hotel bookings to travel policy compliance, support, car rentals, and more. With advanced technology and online booking tools, they offer cost-effective deals while ensuring adherence to corporate travel policies. Additionally, they empower businesses to design their travel expense policies, resulting in an enhanced corporate travel experience for employees.
1 Expertise in Field
Travel management companies (TMCs) are experts in the field of business travel. They handle emergencies with proper understanding and remedy measures. Some travel risk management companies are specially devised for this purpose.
2 Being More Organized
TMCs organize the operations of business travel more efficiently. Business travel involves massive paperwork, especially in big groups and itineraries. The paperwork associated with corporate travel is managed by international travel agencies in a way that is organized, thereby enabling travel companies to allocate their attention to other crucial matters.
3 Making Informed Decisions
Employees must adhere to the corporate travel program or policy when they travel for business. Travel policies vary across different organizations and typically encompass guidelines that employees are obliged to follow while traveling. They make travel decisions for the company according to their travel policy. TMCs also advise employees to meet business travel requirements without breaking the company travel policy.
4 Enhanced Networking
TMCs have established relationships with travel and hospitality companies worldwide over the years sent in the industry. Business travel companies or clients could get exclusive rates on travel occasions through TMCs. They provide better deals within a travel budget than any direct travel booking.
5 Expense management
TMCs are specialized in finding and negotiating the best travel deals with enterprise providers and partners. They have special access to lower rates on the airline, hotel rooms, and transportation. As a result, they reduce overall business travel costs and offer competitive name-brand selections.
6 Business Travel Support
The companies can reach out to the travel consultant day and night with business travel support. Furthermore, the employees are free from the stress of tracking various vendors, as they can get all of them on one platform, which is accessible through a variety of different channels.
Top 25 Revolutionary Travel Management Companies
To enhance their business growth, travel companies can utilize the following list of travel management companies as a reference:
More than 12 million business professionals, including CFOs, finance teams, and travelers, trust Emburse in spend optimization for expense, travel management, and payment solutions. It helps FORTUNE 100 corporations, startups, public sector agencies, and nonprofit organizations, through automation, analytics, and spending control. It streamlines processes and increases spending visibility, compliance, and positive financial outcomes.
2. East West Hospitality
East West Hospitality has more than 30 years of success in businesses like association, vacation rental and property management, developer support, hotels, spas, fitness, restaurants, and retail operations. It simplifies complicated travel operations. It makes stay effortless with its extensive experience and local expertise. It offers memorable destination experience through its trusted hospitality services.
3. Wexas Travel Management
Wexas Travel Management is a full-service travel provider to companies and organizations that travel on business. It works with businesses in different sectors like financial, legal, marine, oil and gas, insurance and pharmaceuticals. Its consultant-managed and digital tools are customized to individual requirements. With the support of a well-established account management team, it provides a broad range of travel-related services.
With over 25 years of experience, Nomadix has over 5 million daily internet connections in 150 countries. It helps hotel and property owners, brands, property management groups, and managed service providers (MSPs) with solutions like internet access gateways, application management appliances, visitor-based networks, digital voice assistants, bandwidth management, and managed Wi-Fi.
HotelKey has direct connectivity to major OTAs or GDS channels. Its all-in-one system includes core PMS, built-in CRS distribution, automated revenue management, property website hosting, and a no-commission direct bookings engine. In addition, its platform provides web apps for the back of the house and mobile apps for the front desk, housekeeping, and maintenance teams.
6. Bonotel Exclusive Travel
Bonotel Exclusive Travel, an inbound tour operator for luxury travel, offers exclusive deluxe hotels, resorts, and upscale boutique properties. It has a vast network of suppliers, direct access to the international client base, and tour operators worldwide. It has developed strong business relations with tour operators and can provide access to hotel partners which makes it unique.
7. Peachtree Hospitality Management
Peachtree Hospitality Management, a division of Peachtree Hotel Group, is a best-in-class hotel management company that creates loyalty among the stakeholders like associates, guests, and owners. Its proprietary systems and processes maximize financial performance, enhancing efficiency and customer experience. In addition, it provides dedicated hotel management services with the extension of expertise to owners as a third-party hotel manager.
AmTrav enhances the productivity of business travel. It offers services for expense management, corporate travel, software, travel productivity, and business travel management. In addition, its platform provides personal service with travel experts and relationship managers through advanced technology, which is helpful for business travelers, travel arrangers, and travel managers.
Boatsetter, a leisure, travel & tourism company, is specialized in boat rental and charter, collaborative consumption, marine industry, travel, and adventure. It has partnered with GEICO and BoatUS to design an exclusive Peer-to-Peer Boat Rental Policy, inspiring boat owners’ engagement and encouraging entrepreneurship on the water. It helps to review the booking requests and inquiries from renters, manage all their bookings on the website or the application, and the payouts, which are processed quickly and connected to their bank account directly.
10. Norse Atlantic Airways
Norse Atlantic Airways offers affordable transatlantic flights with environment-friendly and comfortable Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. It offers affordable fares to destinations and service on board modern and fuel-efficient Dreamliners for corporate and personal travel. It strengthens the employer-employee relationship and has entered into collective bargaining agreements with cabin crew and pilot unions in the U.S., U.K. and Norway. It incorporates a low-cost business model and approach for the cost-efficient airline without prior financial restraints.
InsureMyTrip, an online travel insurance comparison site, serves customers worldwide with its licensed customer services. Its unique customer advocacy program provides assistance throughout the travel journey. It provides recommendations of best plans per the trip details and the best travel insurance plan that matches the traveler’s need, irrespective of the commission or company, with a money-back guarantee. In addition, its licensed representatives, Anytime Advocates, help with the insurance claim process.
12. Sonder Inc.
Sonder Inc., a hospitality company, provides a seamless business travel management experience through technology and innovation. It offers a variety of accommodation options, from rooms to suites and apartments. Its application empowers guests with self-service features and 24/7 support. Without any formality, it offers simple self-check-in to boutique bathroom amenities.
13. Operto Guest Technologies
Operto Guest Technologies, a hospitality automation and IoT operating system for vacation rentals, hotels, and serviced apartments, is revolutionizing hospitality management. It provides personalized stays, contactless check-in, guest satisfaction, operational efficiency and more revenue opportunity through technology that connects teams, guests, managers, smart devices and ancillary third-party service providers. With purpose-built software and smart IoT devices, it offers property managers unique real-time visibility and control. Its automation features include integrated keyless entry, energy savings, noise and occupancy monitoring, and personalized in-suite technology.
14. Life House
Life House is a vertically integrated hotel software, brand, and management company. It provides operational expertise to build robust software to enhance profitability and operational ease in independent hotels. It specializes in hotel software development, financial reporting, interior design, product management and operations, hotel management, and enterprise SaaS.
15. PCH Hotels and Resorts
PCH Hotels and Resorts is a franchised management company with Marriott. Beginning with the acquisition of the Grand Hotel Resort & Spa, PCH has grown to become the top hospitality employer in Alabama. Currently, PCH manages four Renaissance Marriott resort properties, three Marriott resort properties, one Autograph Collection resort, one select service IHG property, and one Outlet Shop. Each property is minutes from the extensive world-class Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.
Spotnana powers unparalleled global travel experiences. It modernizes the travel industry's infrastructure to bring travelers freedom, simplicity, and trust everywhere. Its travel-as-a-service platform makes travel simpler and affordable for corporations. It's our ecosystem of agency, supplier, and technology provider partners to increase operational efficiency, new revenue opportunities, and innovation.
GetYourGuide is a travel bookingplatform connecting travel enthusiasts, experts, and technologists with people. It helps in discovering the destination’s best activities and attractions. In addition, it simplifies the digital travel reality by offering data-driven insights, technology, and market expertise through its destination management company database.
VTrips offers services for vacation rental property management, guest management with dedicated property managers and best advertising and marketing approach. It is the premier property management company serving in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. It also provides vacation rental guest experiences through its quality management and personalized services for real estate and corporate travel.
Trip.com specializes in OTA, flight tickets, hotel booking, train tickets, and internet services. It has an extensive hotel network for a diverse choice of accommodation. Its flight network has over 2 million individual flight routes connecting more than 5,000 cities around the globe. It combines 24/7 English customer service and various travel products necessary for a successful trip.
20. Deem, Inc.
Deem, Inc., a corporate travel booking software, helps in policy adherence, better travel decisions, employee engagement, and cost control through secure solutions. It allows travel managers to customize their travel programs. It integrates into travel and expense management companies & travel agencies with powerful APIs and design.
21. Mondee Holdings, Inc.
Mondee Holdings, Inc is a group of travel technology, service, and content companies driving innovation in the leisure, corporate, and retail travel markets. It delivers a revolutionary technology platform of SaaS, mobile, and cloud products and services to a global customer base. Major corporations, SMBs, travel agencies, and new gig economy workers use its easy-to-use technology platforms to access global travel content, services, and products. Corporations like Rocketrip and TripPlanet trust it for cost-saving, employee safety, and sustainable future.
Priceline, a part of Booking Holdings, Inc., provides the best deals for hotel rooms, flights, rental cars, vacation packages and cruises. It specializes in online travel services and ecommerce through its internet publishing platform. It uses cloud computing to provide personalized and alternative recommendations for travel.
Egencia, an American Express Global Business Travel Company, is a B2B travel tech platform. As part of the valuable marketplace in business travel, it provides data insights and AI-driven innovation that power the travel programs of 9000+ companies in more than 60 countries. It specializes in online business travel booking, purchasing, technology, travel management, corporate travel management, and travel app.
24. Forbes Travel Guide
Forbes Travel Guide renders hotel, restaurant, and spa reviews, travel advice, learning tools, service training, guest experience, and customer services. Its star rating standards reflect the industry's highest levels of service and facility measurement worldwide. With experience in the industry, it provides more reliable information about the travel recommendations and booking.
ADTRAV provides technology solutions for business travel management of corporations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations. Through the help of federal contractors, it maintains compliance with federal travel regulations and fulfills the audit requirements of the DCAA with its government travel expertise.
Collaboration with travel management companies has many advantages, like expense management, business travel support, enhanced networking, making informed decisions, being more organized, and expertise in the field. However, business travel must integrate with the companies according to their budgets and requirements. The travel companies must keep aside the stress of planning, booking & tracking the travel vendors for employees' business travel and rely on TMCs for a cost-effective and comfortable corporate travel experience.
Article | July 7, 2022
Global travel agencies are striving to maintain a competitive edge in the market. They are relying on big data to analyze the current state of the market, automate work processes, and better understand customer needs to streamline their businesses. Big data is now an important part of the future of the travel industry because it helps:
Customer demand forecasting
Optimization of pricing strategies
How is Big Data Sourced?
The following data sources are used to gather big data:
User-Generated Data (UGC) is the most affordable data to obtain and includes textual data gathered through questionnaires, social networks, and image data.
Device data gives access to GPS data, mobile roaming data, bluetooth data, RFID, WiFi data and more. This data is harder to obtain and is expensive.
Web search data, web page visit data, online booking data, etc., constitute transaction data. Advanced web services such as Google Analytics can help collate this data.
The sourced data is analyzed using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing (NLP).
How Is Big Data Changing the Way Travel Companies Operate?
With the help of big data, you can increase your performance, get deeper customer insights, and offer an excellent customer experience to travelers. Let us briefly examine how big data can help you achieve all these objectives.
Optimize Your Revenue
Optimize your costs and accurately predict short-term and long-term revenues. Through customer experience metrics, you can also analyze your profit potential, correctly forecast peak period demand and offer relevant services to customers at the right time. As a result, protect your agency from unexpected expenses and make the most of customer demand.
Recognize & Capitalize on Trends
Historical, real-time data and a standard analytical approach help you understand the changing trends in the tourism industry. Then, you can swiftly take measures to adapt to these changing trends and capitalize on the ones that contribute to revenue. Bleisure is an excellent example of such a travel trend.
Improve Your Marketing Campaigns
Big data processes large amounts of information on your target audience and helps you see which marketing campaigns can succeed based on long-term forecasting. Consequently, you can prevent any unexpected losses while executing seasonal marketing campaigns. Additionally, big data collects information on your competitors and target audience in real-time, so you know the kind of marketing campaigns you need to execute to remain ahead in the race.
Enhance Brand Reputation
Big data considers customer reviews and comments to help you understand which aspects of your business need improvement. Internally collected feedback and big data analysis can create a standard to improve the brand reputation of your agency.
Big data in the travel industry is more than just a trend; it is a tool for better understanding the market situation and each customer in general (potential and existing). All of this lays the groundwork for a more personalized approach and accurate prediction of what customers want, and contributes to an elevated customer experience and an increase in revenue.