Disappearing Up Each Other’s Google

By Alan Kohler, The Eureka Report

IF YOU google the phrase "Alan Kohler", the top link in the main, unpaid search results is one of my articles on smh.com.au. Next is Eureka Report. But above that, against a beige background, there are two other links – one is to Eureka Report and the other is a link to Australian Stock Report, one of our competitors.

Australian Stock Report has bought the Google phrase "Alan Kohler". Eureka Report’s link only sits above it in the section headed "sponsored links" because we have paid more for it (to Google) in the auction system known as search engine marketing (SEM).

Over to the right, in another sponsored links section for the search on the phrase "Alan Kohler", there’s a link to www.stockresource.com.au – another competitor – and under that are a couple of book sites trying to flog my books (booktopia and ebay). Ebay buys millions of keywords, and among other things competes to buy just about every author’s name.

We have also bought the phrase "Eureka Report", of course, but if you google that then six competitors’ links appear in the sponsored links section of the results. They have all bought the phrase "Eureka Report", but once again we have paid the most so we can be at the top.

I hasten to add that we are also playing this rather brutal little game: we have bought, among things, the phrases "Rivkin Report" (another newsletter) as well as "Australian Stock Report". Each of those newsletters ensures that its link is at the top of the Google sponsored links by paying the highest price.

But Australian Stock Report’s search result, for example, is crowded with 10 competitors that have also bought its name.

Thus do all of the financial newsletters compete with each other to throw money at Google.
Another way to put this is that, when it comes to subscriptions obtained via Google marketing, the newsletters probably only make a profit from renewals in the second year – in the first year virtually the whole price of a new subscription goes to the Google machine.

This is the essence of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s case against Google for misleading and deceptive conduct, which caused a flurry of feather fluffing and squawking in the global internet henhouse last week.

The case began with Trading Post’s purchase of the keyword "Stickybeek", which is the name of a small Newcastle-based used car website. Search that word on Google now and there are no sponsored links at all, which means Stickybeek is getting its search engine position for free, because it’s at the top of the free results.

That’s because Trading Post gave up quietly once it was pinged. The other case cited by the ACCC in its court documents is instructive: it’s the fact that if you google the phrase "Harvey World Travel" you get a sponsored link to one of its competitors, STA Travel, and a lot of people surveyed by the ACCC did not realise that these businesses were not connected – were competitors, in fact. The ACCC, it seems, is outraged about this.

Actually this outrage is based on a misunderstanding of how search engines work. STA has not bought the phrase "Harvey World Travel" – it has bought the word "travel", which is perfectly OK. Its link appears because "travel" appears in Harvey World Travel’s name and search engines look for links to each word in a phrase as well as the whole phrase itself.

You can tell this because if you put quote marks around "Harvey World Travel" when searching it, which turns the whole phrase into a single word, no sponsored links appear at all – no sign of STA.

So the highly competitive newsletter business is definitely a better example of what the ACCC is on about.

In essence the ACCC claims two things: a business’s competitors should not be allowed to "buy" its name and muscle into its search results page; and the "sponsored links" are not sufficiently distinguished from the main, unpaid, results in the middle of the page.

The ACCC is not saying this, but I think it would accept a settlement based on the latter point, and not press on the first. In other words, Google could probably end the case with more prominent signage on its sponsored links.

But Google denies there is a problem at all, and it is supported in this by Peter Coroneos of the Internet Industry Association and just about every other geek in the country.

It says the paid ads are clearly marked "sponsored links" and the one across the top has a beige background, which further distinguishes it.

On the question of competitors buying each other’s names, Google says it does not monitor this and given the billions of searches going on every day it would be impossible to do so.

Google then shoots its own argument down by referring to its "AdWords Trademarks Complaint Procedure", which allows a business to apply to have its trademark protected from competitors buying it. Obviously if it were impossible to monitor these things, then this procedure would not work either.

In any case, the complaint procedure is only available on google.com, not google.com.au. And it’s buried deep under "about Google", then "contact us" – there are no signposts how to get there. It’s fair to say no one would find this unless they were told where it was.

And who can blame Google? Competitors bidding against each other at auction to buy their own names as well as each other’s names is no doubt a big part of the company’s revenue. Yes, but is it fair and reasonable?

The system of sponsored links is based on a 2002 ruling by the US Federal Trade Commission that basically approved it. Now the Australian regulator has asked The Hon James Leslie Allsop, judge of the Federal Court of Australia, to update this US ruling. Should be fascinating.

Alan Kohler publishes Eureka Report, an investment newsletter financially backed by Carnegie Wylie & Co. The views expressed here are Kohler’s alone.ak@eurekareport.com.au

Travel Trends: July 20, 2007

Travel Watches As ACCC Goes After Google, Trading Post

THE travel industry – among the biggest users of search engine marketing – will be closely watching legal action the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is taking against Google and Trading Post.

The ACCC alleges the companies engaged in "misleading and deceptive conduct" during a paid search campaign designed to direct take business from websites competing with Trading Post.

It alleges that Trading Post contravened the Trade Practices Act in 2005 when the business names "Kloster Ford" and "Charlestown Toyota" appeared in the title of Google sponsored links to Trading Post’s website.

By allowing this to happen, Google has also been accused of breaching the act, while the ACCC also claims the search giant, by failing to adequately distinguish sponsored links from "organic" search results, has engaged and continues to engage in misleading and deceptive conduct.

The ACCC is seeking:

• Declarations that Trading Post contravened sections 52 and 53(d) of the Act
• Declarations that Google contravened section 52 of the Act
• Injunctions restraining Trading Post from representing through sponsored links an association, sponsorship or affiliation with another business where one does not exist
• Injunctions restraining Google from publishing sponsored links of advertisers representing an association, sponsorship or affiliation where one does not exist
• Injunctions restraining Google from publishing search results that do not expressly distinguish advertisements from organic search results
• Orders that Trading Post and Google implement trade practices compliance programs
• An order that Google pay costs

The matter has been listed for a directions hearing in the Federal Court, Sydney, on 21 August 2007 before Justice Allsop.

This is the first action of its type globally. Whilst Google has faced court action overseas, particularly in the United States, France and Belgium, this generally has been in relation to trademark use.

Although the US anti-trust authority the Federal Trade Commission has examined similar issues, the ACCC understands that it is the first regulatory body to seek legal clarification of Google’s conduct from a trade practices perspective.

Travel Trends: July 20, 2007

Oodles.com Stirs The Pot On Launch

Steve Sherlock, Managing Director of new online car hire company, Oodles.com, has slammed the vehicle renter broker model as unsustainable. “I’m afraid a broker model with 25-30% margins is just not going to cut it in this day and age,” he said.

“Everyone knows brokers have been screwing suppliers for lower and lower rates for years. I used to be one of them. But now that supplier direct bookings are getting more traction, I believe the game up for brokers.”

He claimed online car hire rates are much cheaper than those through brokers and that consumers will vote with their wallet. Oodles has just launched after securing funding from several investors including Mario Salvo, who founded Europcar in Australia.

Oodles, which features a slick price comparison matrix, enters a competitive though fragmented market niche with no dominant player. Sherlock claims there is a great opportunity to build brand awareness in this space.  Oodles marks up its supplier rates with a flat 10% commission.

Car hire will be a major topic at this year’s TRAVELtech – watch for further details… TravelTrends.biz: July 20, 2007

Technology Major Ammo In Lido Defence Win

THE importance of having a strong technology development culture – rather than just using other off the shelf solutions – has been vividly demonstrated with The Lido Group winning the massive Defence Department accommodation account, worth between $20 million and $30 million a year.

Lido, Australia’s biggest accommodation broker, has developed a strong suite of inhouse technology products, including its own specialist booking technology and distribution system, known as E-GAPP, which General Manager Matt Tyler said was a major factor in the account win.

Tyler added that Lido made the decision five years ago to develop its own technology rather than relying on suppliers such as the GDS, a move that is now paying off as the company moves increasingly into product distribution. Having an inhouse technology capability also allows Lido to develop customised interfaces with partner companies (including the GDS).

In related news, Tyler said Lido is interested in signing up new properties interested in Defence Department business to E-GAPP. "This means that even the smaller operators in country locations can be part of the program,” he said.

At last count, 50,000 Defence staff had travel cards – making it the largest acommodation account in the country. Qantas Business Travel will continue handling other elements of the Department’s travel program, such as air and car (with Hertz the preferred supplier).

Travel Trends: July 19, 2007

Drive Destinations Running Out of Petrol As People Fly Or Opt for Gadgets Over Experience

By Martin Kelly, TravelTrends.biz

IT was the best of times, it was the worst of times… a famous line from Dickens and one which applies to the Australian domestic tourism industry over the next decade.

That’s the inescapable conclusion from the latest Tourism Forecasting Committee report, which paints a positive picture for outbound and inbound travel, while outlining a much more complicated domestic scenario.

In simple terms, it looks like traditional drive destinations will get screwed at the expense of those served by Low Cost Carriers – in Australia and abroad – as travel habits morph at breakneck speed.

Yet the future may not be that black and white.

That’s because the amount of time Australians spend holidaying in their own country is actually forecast to fall – from 289 million visitor nights in 2007 to 282 million visitor nights in 2016.

In other words, more trips, less time travelling.
 
So undoubtedly there’ll be challenges right across the board for Australia’s domestic tourism industry, including those served by LCCs.

Meanwhile, some of the strongest competition will come from outside the industry as consumers spend increasing amounts of money (and time) on the latest gadgets…

For evidence look no further than the annual results from retailer Harvey Norman, up 16% thanks to the insatiable consumer appetite for new technology.

Anyway, the report predicts that the contribution of tourism to the Australian economy will increase from $84 billion in 2006 to just over $100 billion in 2016 in real terms, underpinned mainly by growth in inbound tourism.

Chairman of the Tourism Forecasting Committee, Bernard Salt, said the value of inbound tourism is forecast to increase at an average rate of 4.9% a year from $22 billion in 2006 to $35 billion in 2016 in real terms.

This longer term growth rate has been revised up from 4.3% a year mainly due to larger than previously assumed increases in aviation capacity serving Australia.

“After a solid start to the year, arrivals are forecast to rise 3% to 5.7 million in 2007,” Mr Salt said.

“In 2008 and beyond arrivals are forecast to grow more strongly with increases in international aviation capacity and weakening of the Australian dollar improving the competitiveness of travel to Australia.

“Turning to the outlook for domestic tourism, aviation developments will also shape this sector of the industry,” Mr Salt said.

“The amount of aviation capacity serving the domestic market is set to expand significantly in late 2007 and through 2008. This is expected to support an increase in tourism trips at the expense of lowering average nights per trip as some travellers switch from ground to air transport.”

“As a result after rising by 1% to 289 million in 2007, domestic visitor nights are forecast to decline by 2% in 2008 and by a further 3% to reach 274 million in 2009,” he said.

“Beyond 2009 domestic visitor nights are forecast to rise moderately to reach 282 million in 2016.

“This growth will support an increase in the economic contribution of the domestic tourism industry from $62 billion in 2006 to $65 billion in 2016 in real terms.

“Throughout the projection period domestic tourism will be under pressure as rival goods and services including overseas travel destinations compete for consumers’ time and money.

“Outbound tourism is forecast to continue growing at a stronger rate than domestic tourism given the increasing desire of Australian’s to travel overseas, the expansion of low cost air capacity to outbound markets and the overall expansion in international aviation capacity servicing Australia from late 2009.

“As a result outbound departures are forecast to grow at an average annual rate of over 5% between 2006 and 2016 to reach 8.2 million,” Mr Salt said.

The TFC’s membership draws on the combined expertise of the private and public sectors in the tourism and finance industries. Its forecasts are available from: http://www.tra.australia.com/

Travel Trends: July 19, 2007

 

TripAdvisor Passes 10 Million Reviews

Anyone doubting the power of travel communities should have any cynicism blown away by the announcement from market leader TripAdvisor that its site now features 10 million user reviews – double the amount it had just 12 months ago. TripAdvisor also claims 20 million monthly visitors and six million members. Meanwhile the site has launched a traveller networking tool that allows members to plan, write and share itineraries and thoughts. The website’s VP of Marketing, Christine Petersen, boasted: "We think we’ve created a category killer.” Time will tell.

Travel Trends: July 5, 2007

Peak Season But Snow Search Left In Cold

SEARCH marketing appears to have been largely left out in the cold by Australasian snow tourism businesses during a key booking period bolstered by good early season snow falls, especially in Oz.

However this opens up significant, cost-effective opportunities for those that are willing to have a go and look beyond high-demand terms such as ‘snow accommodation’ – 18 ads on Google (three on Yahoo!7).  Other popular search terms such as the resort names elicits a sparse paid search response.

For example the following responses were logged on Google: Perisher (1 Google ad), Perisher Valley (4 ads), Thredbo (2 ads), Mt Hotham (3 ads, including resort), Mt Buller (2 ads), Falls Creek (3 ads) etc.

There are even less ads running next to the NZ resorts – generally one or two. In each instance, the service towns are much more popular – Jindabyne (8 ads), Bright (8 ads), Wanaka (6 ads), Queenstown (5 ads).

No doubt this is a reflection supply and demand, but if businesses looked further up the hill, they’d gain great reach at potentially less cost while still maintaining consumer relevance.

Travel Trends,
July 5, 2007

Travel.com.au Buys 100% of Lastminute in Oz and NZ

The share price of online travel agent Travel.com.au (TVL) slumped 12.5% following news that it was buying outright control of the Lastminute brand in Australia and NZ for A$4.75 million. TVL bought the 25% it didn’t already own in this market from Travelocity “subject to maintaining certain brand values”. Travelocity will continue selling its products through the Aussie and NZ sites for the time being. There was an expectation among some investors that the reverse would occur with Travelocity buying out TVL, resulting in a cash windfall for the ASX-listed company. TVL is aiming for total revenue growth of 30% to 35% over the next year.

Travel Trends: July 4, 2007

Bookings Now Open For TRAVELtech 2007

BOOKINGS are now open for the TRAVELtech conference in Sydney on August 28, which features a strong, issues-based program that looks beyond the obvious into the far reaches of the Australian travel web.

The theme is Destination Online and it covers all the hot topics – from Maps, Mashups and Web 2.0 through to Gen Y and the dreaded Long Tail – plus the usual detailed industry analysis.

There are lots of new speakers with a special focus on online travel entrepreneurs and the sites they have built. In addition the program will examine a couple of niches that have so far flown under the radar.

There’ll also be an exclusive interview with Stella Travel Services boss Keith Stanley, who controls Australia’s largest travel group.

Potential Identity Crisis Looms For Virgin Blue

By Martin Kelly, TravelTrends.biz

NEWS that Virgin Blue is seriously considering launching a new Low Cost Carrier to combat the arrival in Australia of Tiger Airways etc presents an intriguing marketing challenge. After all Virgin unequivocally entered the Australian market as an LCC and it’s won plenty of regional aviation awards in this category over the past few years.

But if the company goes ahead with a new LCC launch, where does this leave the positioning of “ex-LCC” Virgin Blue? Between a rock and a hard place, some would suggest. Statements in the past by CEO Brett Godfrey indicate Virgin is gently repositioning itself as a “New World Carrier”, combining the best of the old and new, while the website says it is a “low fare airline that is big on service and low on price.”  Stand by for some more spin in the weeks ahead.

TravelTrends.biz
June 22, 2007

Travel.com.au May Record First Profit

ONLINE retailer travel.com.au, which also operates lastminute.com.au in the Australian market, may post its first profit since being listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1999. Around that time its shares, now worth around 33 cents, traded as high as A$2.80. Fast forward to the present and the company estimates its 06/07 earnings before interest, tax and depreciation will range between A$400,000 and A$500,000, a forecast that excludes extraordinary items such as A$250,000 in costs related to lastminute.com.au.

Over the first five months of 2007, the company reports that “online Total Turnover Value (TTV) and revenues for travel.com.au increased by 70% and 76%, with total revenues increasing by 40%. For lastminute.com.au, hotel booking numbers for the period increased by 27% over the previous year, while TTV and revenues for the brand increased by 30% and 34% respectively. Group TTV and revenues for the five months increased by 33% and 36% … online revenues increased by 44% (and) now represent around 80% of total revenues.”

In other news, TVL has deferred the release of its new travel.com.au website until the end of this year and said “there are signs that competition in the online travel sector is now intensifying” and that “it is too early to determine the sustainability or likely rate of future growth”. TVL Managing Director Adam Johnson will be speaking at TRAVELtech in Sydney on August 28.

Traveltrends.biz
June 22, 2007

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time…

By Yeoh Siew Hoon, The Transit Cafe

The telephone call came late Thursday afternoon. “Have you heard?” asked a hotelier friend. My journalist’s ears perked up.

He then sent me the link to the breaking news from London. “Hotel chief quits after lying on his CV,” said the headline.

My first response was shock. Then sadness. A young man with a promising career. A husband and a father of two small children. The cover boy of the hotel world in Asia.

A career in disarray. A reputation in ruins. A family in crisis. His team in shock, and grieving for the sudden loss of their leader.

The first email I received asked, “Why did he do it?” Asking that question is a bit like trying to close the gate after the horse has bolted.

No one but Patrick Imbardelli will know the answer to that question and even now, perhaps he too is grappling with that.

Another reaction was “how could he be so dumb”? He too is probably trying to answer that as well.

Living by the belief that you should never judge a man till you’ve walked a mile in his shoes, let me speculate.

We live in a world where corporations demand paper qualifications of those they employ. I was looking at an advertisement from the Singapore Tourism Board recently and every job level – junior or senior – required university degrees.

There are companies that will not promote you beyond a certain level if you do not have the right paperwork, even if you have worked for them for several years.

So imagine you’re a young, driven executive determined to get the trophy job. You know you are good, and confident enough to do it. So you tell a little white lie – okay, you didn’t graduate but you did attend classes.

Suddenly your career takes off. And you’re caught in a bind – even if you wanted to tell the truth now, could you? So you continue to work hard, and your career takes off even faster. There’s no turning back now.

The higher you rise, the harder the fall so you can but only hope for the best. After all, you think, who’s going to find out?

Well, they did, and they have. And now Imbardelli and his family are paying the price. He took a shortcut and his career has been shortcuited. If there’s anything to take away from this, it’s “there is no shortcut in life”.

The company he worked for, for the last seven years, and who hailed him a rising star is determined to move on. They have shown him the door and they have wished him well. He is a talented man and he will move on, they say.

Easier said than done, I’m sure.

There are some who think the company was overly harsh. But in today’s world of political correctness and corporate governance and where everyone has to be seen to be squeaky clean, it probably had no choice, “shareholders’ interests” being the magic word.

So who’s to blame? In truth, no one and everyone.

Could it be perhaps the system – the rules of the corporate jungle – that creates individuals like Patrick and situations like the one he got himself into?

I am not saying that as individuals, we shouldn’t be responsible for our actions especially if they could harm others but if the corporate world sets such high standards for its leaders, can everyone ever make the mark, without fudging a little thing or two?

It’s like our politicians – we want them to rule the world wisely like God but god forbid if he turns out to be a mere mortal.

It reminds me of the Tour de France performance-enhancing drug scandal when one former champion said something to this effect,“do people really expect us to be riding over such hills and distances without taking anything? Honestly …”

What Patrick is going through right now cannot be imagined. Let’s wish him well.

Traveltrends.biz

June 22, 2007

IHG Boss Quits After Lies Revealed

ONE of the region’s highest profile hoteliers, Patrick Imbardelli, has quit his job as chief executive of the InterContinental Hotel in Asia Pacific after being found out for lying on his CV.

Times Online reported that  Imbardelli, who joined IHG in 2000, told the company he had three university degrees – a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University in Australia and a Bachelor of Sciences and a Masters from Cornell University in America.

But an internal review by IHG, which wanted to promote Imbardelli to its board, revealed he had none of these qualifications. "While he attended classes at the universities, he did not graduate," an IHG spokesman said.

Tony South, currently the senior vice-president of development and asset management for Asia Pacific at IHG, becomes the acting chief executive with immediate effect.

Traveltrends.biz
June 15, 2007

Australia.com Launches in Blaze of Apathy

By Martin Kelly

TOURISM Australia can’t take a trick with its online marketing. First there was the viral component of “Where The Bloody Hell Are You?” which attracted a lot of hits but not enough bookings, according to critics.

However, at least that campaign got a lot of publicity. The long-awaited relaunch of Tourism Australia’s flagship site, Australia.com, received virtually no mainstream coverage following its launch at ATEC last week.

Except in the Gold Coast Bulletin, which editorialised against Tourism Australia for the using an image which showed the sun ‘setting’ over a Gold Coast beach, a physical impossibility.

Tourism Minister Fran Bailey immediately blamed Events Queensland for the blunder, which for some reason is still appearing several days after the issue was first raised.

So, what of the site? It’s different, that’s for sure, but ultimately quite shallow, simply acting as a gateway to the state and territory sites. Even the solitary Web 2.0 feature, Bluelist Australia, is housed on the Lonely Planet site.

The look and feel of the splash page is dominated by a large map of Australia, provided by Google, which quickly directs consumers back to the relevant regional site.

Google is also providing the site search capability and sponsored links limited to operators listed on Tourism Australia’s online network. At present there is very little advertising.

In summary, the new Australia.com is good at redirecting visitors to the state and territory sites, but not much more. Many would have expected greater depth from a website that took more than 12 months to develop.

TravelTrends.biz
June 5, 2007

Everybody The Same Ay Hyatt (.com)

Opinion By Martin Kelly

Has Hyatt taken the internet best rate policy too far? That’s the question I’m asking after recent dealings with the global hotel giant.

Without going into a lot of detail, it’s emerged that customers – irrespective of size or revenue potential – are mostly better off buying rooms through Hyatt.com because they won’t find better prices anywhere else.

In this particular case, time Hyatt.com was selling rooms at $144 but the best the hotel could offer was $160 with no inclusions, the same pricing as Wotif.com.

The hotel was also unable to offer a competitive room rate for conference delegates – suggesting a price almost 20 per cent more than Hyatt.com at the time.

According to the reservations department that’s because “the Hyatt.com rate is guaranteed to be our best rate of the day” … yeah, but doesn’t that mean Hyatt won’t be undercut by third-party sites or dodgy wholesalers?

Apparently not … it means every customer gets the same rate, irrespective of spend or revenue potential.

Call me crazy, but it seems like a strange approach – in a sense, almost anti-sales – and flies in the face of accepted practice that your best customers get the best rates (no matter what your business).

Why should customers bringing in thousands of dollars revenue be charged the same rate as someone staying one night at the cheapest rate?

Best ask the boffins in Hyatt yield management, who no doubt came at this policy from every angle before giving it the thumbs up.

I suppose in theory it sounds great.

“You’ll always get the best deal on Hyatt.com.”

Yet in practice it actually discriminates against the most valuable customers and reduces everything to price, when staying in a hotel, especially on a regular basis, should be about much more.

My feeling is that Hyatt would do well to remember that the Internet is not the answer to everything, people and relationships are.

TravelTrends.biz
June 5, 2007

Danny Sullivan No Longer A Virgin

Respected blogger and the biggest name in search marketing, Danny Sullivan, has slammed Virgin’s frequent flyer program, pledging allegienace to the British Airways he used to hate so much. Why? Because he found it almost impossible to redeem his Virgin rewards while the reverse is true at BA. 

Sullivan wrote: "I’ve been an unabashed Virgin fan, but the airline has amazingly — unbelievably — now driven me closer to British Airways. The hated BA, which I have to say, looks much better as I measure up the frequent flyer programs.

"Virgin’s Not So Generous Frequent Flyer Program is my post from last year, when I looked at how hard it was for me to use my Virgin miles for anything. I’ve just now tried to book tickets for a family trip in October. I have four companion award tickets to use, plus 350,000 miles. Can I splurge on the big seats to fly over? Nope. Can’t use the companion tickets, and it’s strictly only economy left for a range of dates I checked.

"It’s the school holidays," is the usual Virgin refrain. Duh. Of course it is, but the bigger problem is you don’t release enough seats. Meanwhile, I’ve been flying BA more recently, as they’ve either had exceptionally better prices than Virgin or fly into places Virgin doesn’t go. I’ve built up some miles, enough to see what BA might have to offer on the family trip. Big seats? No problem.

"I really, really enjoy Virgin. I’ve paid more to fly them in the past. But I’m tired of accumulating useless miles. It’s nice to be a gold member, and the Virgin lounge at Heathrow has no match to what I’ve seen elsewhere. But I think I’ll build up my status on BA instead. What a change for someone who has hated them so much in the past. And what a change in particular because of problems with something that’s supposed to keep my loyal, a useless loyalty program."

You can sign up for Sullivan’s personal blog at www.daggle.com

TravelTrends.biz – June 2007

Hazel Joins Webjet, Kohlmayr Gets Bright IDeaS

Gill Hazel has joined Webjet as Business Development Executive. She has more than 20 years experience in travel distribution, travel technology and the internet.

Gill has worked for Cendant, Sabre, Datalex, Jetset and Viator as well as running her own travel consultancy business. 

Klaus Kohlmayr has left the InterContinental Hotels Group to join yield management, pricing and forecasting company, IDeaS, as its Director of Services.

Based in Singapore, his brief is to build IDeaS’ professional services and consulting business. Klaus was most recently Director Revenue Management & Hotel Performance, Asia Pacific, with IHG.

TravelTrends.biz
June 5, 2007

No Troogle From Google

By Martin Kelly and Steve Jones, Editor Travel Today

New Google Australia travel boss, Claire Hatton, has emphatically denied speculation that the world’s most powerful Internet company is starting a niche travel search engine known as Troogle.

Why jeopardise the existing travel business? Hatton rhetorically asked at No Vacancy.

Instead, Google will build a team dedicated to the Australian travel industry as companies continue to take their businesses online.

Headed by Hatton, formerly of Galileo, the department will look to better understand travel companies and focus on developing their search and online marketing objectives.

It will also conduct local consumer research to arm itself with detailed knowledge of the market.

Hatton said she was looking to recruit people with online and travel backgrounds.

“Travel is already a major category for us and it’s growing,” Hatton told Travel Today. “This is recognition of that fact. We want to provide more focus and work closer together with the industry.”

She said some travel companies in Australia were already embracing online opportunities while others “had not got to grips” with it.

Figures produced by Google revealed that while online accounts for 25 per cent of all media consumed, it attracts only nine per cent of advertising spend.

Hatton said that a combination of paid for search and natural organics listings were “integral to new world marketing strategies”.

TravelTrends.biz/Travel Today
June 5, 2007

Rydges Gets Social With Media And FInds Customer Is Always RIght

By Martin Kelly

Be open, honest and forthright – that’s the advice from Rydges Hotels on dealing with comment on user review sites such as TripAdvisor.com.

Industry research now indicates that review sites, part of the so-called Web 2.0 movement led by the likes of MySpace, have become the most trusted source of booking information, outranking even family and friends.

“But there are some serious flaws in consumer generated reviews,” said Tessa Court, Chief Marketing Officer at Hitwise. “Not all consumer reviewers review rationally and information is polluted with textual vendettas.”

Which is precisely why Rydges Hotels has developed guidelines for its management team and encouraged them “join the conversation” where appropriate.

Stefan Drury, e-Commerce Manager at the AHL Group, which own Rydges Hotels, said it was important to address concerns raised through the consumer generated sites.

He said responses should be honest and relevant, while taking responsibility for the issues raised.

“Don’t argue with customers, they are always right,” Drury said.

He also said there was little point in staff posing as customers and posting positive reviews about their hotels.

“It would come across as marketing speak and look ridiculous,” he said.

TravelTrends.biz,
June 5, 2007

Hoteliers Go On The Front Foot Over Commissions

By Martin Kelly

HOTELIERS grappling with the massive impact of the internet on product distribution are increasingly putting pressure on third-party websites to lower commissions while ramping up online direct sales.

The region’s largest hotel group, Accor Asia Pacific, reports that its properties are now “pushing back” against demands from some popular websites for commissions of up to 20 per cent.

Accor’s Vice President of Distribution and IT, Maria Taylor, said surging consumer demand for hotel rooms – occupancies and room rates are up in all significant Australian markets – is a major factor in the change of attitude.

Taylor said hoteliers, which in the years following 9/11 used internet sites as something of a dumping ground for “distressed inventory”, had now become more selective in choosing their online distribution partners.

Market leader Wotif.com, which dominates the sector, charges an average commission of 10 per cent and accommodation providers are finding it difficult to justify paying more – unless they can achieve much higher rates.

Taylor refused to comment on industry reports that Accor has pulled out of a preferred distribution agreement with US travel giant Expedia over commission levels but said hotels are now setting the rules of engagement.
 
“For the B2C channel we feel that 10 per cent commission is acceptable, however, there are online wholesalers that are asking for 20 per cent, which is just too high,” she said.

“Similar people in similar roles at other hotel companies are getting the same feedback from their properties.

“Even if head office was prepared to pay more there would be strong push back from the hotels.”

“A major reason is that the demand cycle is very strong at the moment.”

Figures from Atrium Hospitality Solutions show that national room rates rose an average of more than eight per cent during 2006 over the previous year – a trend that industry observers say has continued through 2007.

Perth led the way with a 13 per cent increase, while Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide were also strong. 

The average national room occupancy over the same period climbed more than four per cent to 79.2 per cent, according to accommodation advisory Dransfield Hotels and Resorts.

This tension is likely to remain due to a combination of factors, including a strong economy and a lack of supply with high land costs discouraging development.
Jones Lang LaSalle estimates new room supply will increase at just 1.4% a year in major markets to 2010.
Consequently there is a rare window of opportunity for hoteliers to maximise their yield through all distribution channels, including travel agents, where hotel sales are also increasing.

And once again the internet – through which more than 10 per cent of all rooms are now sold – is playing a big role with many chains looking to lift direct online sales.

Virtually all major groups now refuse to be undercut by distributors and offer ‘Best Rate’ guarantees through their own websites.

Meanwhile, groups are building more effective websites supported by deal-based pricing strategies.

Accor has lifted online direct sales by almost 500% since launching a new regional website last September.

Conversion rates have also dramatically increased and are now running between 3.9 per cent and 5.9 per cent depending on which promotions are running at the time.

However, the major challenge for many hoteliers is getting consumers to their sites in the first place.

Research from Hitwise, which monitors internet traffic, shows that the third-party hotel websites dominate the web.

Chief Marketing Officer at Hitwise, Tessa Court, said Wotif.com is by far and away the market leader with 6.72 per cent market share.

This is more than double second-placed TotalTravel.com (3.06 per cent), followed by Hotel Club (2.7 per cent), Trip Advisor (2.12 per cent) and Rates To Go (1.92 per cent).

Court said Australia’s major hotel groups need to address their brand marketing strategies through the search engines.

She estimated that Google alone is driving 35 per cent of all traffic to Australia’s accommodation websites.

Crucially, they are generally high-quality consumers drawn from the upper-income demographics.

They are also young and savvy, the leading edge of a new kind of hotel customer throwing up fresh challenges for the accommodation industry.

TravelTrends.biz, June 5, 2007

What happens In Vegas Ends Up In Thredbo

THERE’S no such thing as a new idea, especially in marketing. Just look at the new tagline for Thredbo – “What goes on in Thredbo, stays in Thredbo” – which has started appearing in the mass media. Sound familiar? That’s probably because the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has been using “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” with a lot of success for the last few years. But then, that itself is a variation on “What happens on tour, stays on tour”. So no-one can complain too loudly. Or claim credit for a brilliantly original idea. Perhaps great minds merely think alike, but then we are talking about the advertising industry…

TravelTrends.biz
May 15, 2007

JUST THREE DAYS TO NO VACANCY CONFERENCE

THERE’S just three days until the first No Vacancy industry conference in Sydney on Thursday – book now and you’ll receive a free Hitwise report covering key trends in the online accommodation sector.

No Vacancy will be a great day offering excellent learning and networking opportunities with more than 130 delegates from major companies on the both distribution and supply side already registered.

Please take a moment to check out the great program below, and don’t forget there’s also free admission for all delegates to the Hotel Operations Technology Expo, which is being held in an adjoining room. 

  • Where: Star City Casino, Sydney
  • When: Thursday, May 17
  • Theme: Distribution, Technology, Innovation
  • Bonus: Free admission to the Hotel Operations Technology Expo
  • Bookings: $475 + gst. 

 NO VACANCY – DISTRIBUTION, TECHNOLOGY, INNOVATION

8.15am -9.10am Registration: Tea, coffee.

9.10am – 9.25am No Vacancy: The business of selling hotel rooms has evolved dramatically over the past five years and there’s no sign that the pace of change will falter. But one thing hasn’t changed – everyone’s aim is to have their ‘No Vacancy’ sign on 24/7. Find out how people are doing it here. 

  • Martin Kelly, Director, TravelTrends.biz

9.25am – 10.00am Forward Thinking: A one-on-one interview with industry pioneer Tony Smith, who founded, built and sold Breakfree Hotels and Resorts to MFS. He now has a new company that mines the internet ‘Long Tail’ through an innovative mix of technology, distribution and destination marketing – a strategy that seems right for the times. The interview will be followed by audience Q&A.

  • Tony Smith, Managing Director, Roamfree

10.00am – 10.30am Nothing Is What It Seems Anymore:  City hotels sell better than country ones yet the development money is heading to the wide open spaces. What gives, will this pattern continue and which properties are best positioned for the future? This session will also examine demand, occupancy and projections for Australia’s most significant city and regional markets.

  • Ron de Wit, Director, Atrium Hospitality Solutions

10.30am – 11.00am Morning Tea

11.00am – 11.50am The Distribution Revolution: Some are making hay while the sun shines, others are still waiting for rain. Whichever camp you fall into, and whatever the size of your property, you need to be well-informed.

  • Global Overview: Gregg Hopkins, Vice President, Hotel Information Systems
  • Australia and GDS: Paul Southey, Regional Director Asia Pacific, TravelCLICK
  • Internet: James Borg, Marketing Director, Hitwise 

 11.50am – 12.10pm Case Study – Accor Asia Pacific: Discover the role the Internet plays in the distribution strategy of Accor Asia Pacific. The region’s largest accommodation group recently launched a new multi-country portal and has proved expert at walking the distribution tightrope.

  • Maria Taylor, VP Distribution and Information Systems, Accor Asia Pacific

12.10pm – 12.40pm Panel – Distribution and Technology Strategies, Now and For The Future: This session features accommodation providers, technology suppliers and distributors outlining their thoughts on the distribution landscape and the best strategies going forward. It will examine the benefits of a multi-channel approach, the costs involved, the pros and cons of going direct, and the importance of controlling pricing.

  • Jeffrey Eckerling, Commercial Director, Hotel Club and Rates To Go
  • Anna Guillan, Sales and Marketing Director, Hayman Island/Director of Sales Strategy Mulpha Hotels
  • Chris Koudounaris, Owner, Hotel Prophets

12.30pm – 2.00pm Lunch

2.00pm – 2.20pm Haystack – A Lonely Planet Case Study: Lonely Planet has just launched its own accommodation database, Haystack, after years of resisting the urge to plunge directly into branded product distribution. Why now?

  • Troy Suda, Lonely Planet

2.20pm – 2.40pm Google Accommodation Search Trends: It’s a fair bet that more consumers use Google to access accommodation deals and websites than any other medium. What are the dominant trends and how can you take advantage of them?

  • Claire Hatton, Head of Travel Australia and New Zealand, Google

2.40pm – 3.00pm The Customer Is Always Right: What do consumers want from accommodation websites? Global Reviews regularly benchmarks the major accommodation websites to answer this very question.

  • Sean McConville, Senior Client Advisor and Head of Analytics, Global Reviews

3.00pm – 3.30pm Building A Great Accommodation Website: This session will reveal the latest thinking on what makes a great accommodation website, from search engine visibility through to customer conversion and loyalty. Also find out what turns off potential customers and sends them to other sites.

  • Keith Paulin, General Manager, Hotel Marketing Workshop  

3.30pm – 4.00pm Afternoon Tea

4.00pm – 4.40pm How Do Drive and Remote Destinations Compete In The Age of Low Cost Carriers. Fact – domestic tourism is either flatlining or going backwards in most drive markets as travelers embrace the Low Cost Carrier phenomenon. Challenge – Stimulate demand through destination marketing and product innovation initiatives.

  • Paul Baron, Online Marketing Manager, Tourism Victoria
  • Jackie Douglas, General Manager, Distribution and Revenue Management, Voyages Hotels and Resorts  
  • Grant Clonan, CEO, Station Hotels

4.40pm – 5.15pm Social Media, User Generated Content and What It Means For You: Word of mouth has always been the most powerful form of marketing. Now its power has been magnified tenfold by the Internet. In this session learn about user generated sites such as TripAdvisor, their advantages and pitfalls. It will also cover methods of dealing with adverse comment made by consumers through these sites.

  • Stefan Drury, e-Commerce Manager, AHL Group
  • Arthur Hoffman, Managing Director, Expedia.com.au 

5.15pm – Drinks

Two New Companies and a Monoply for Pegasus

PEGASUS Solutions has gone on a buying spree – picking up GuestClick, a provider of Web-based software and services for the hospitality industry, just two days after acquiring Wizcom, its only rival in ‘GDS Switching’. Thie Wizcom acquisition means Pegasus has a genuine monopoly on the provision of linking between hotels and the GDS booking systems used by travel agents around the world. What will this mean for pricing? One thing is for sure – Pegasus didn’t buy the competition so it could lower rates. GuestClick is a different beast and, according to the company, will allow Pegasus to upgrade its Customer Reservations System with improved scalability and next-generation capabilities.

TravelTrends.biz
May 3, 2007

PS: 94% of marketers now using email

At least, that’s according to Forrester Research in the US. The report – E-Mail Marketing Comes of Age – claims 94% of marketers are using email.  It says open rates have remained steady at about 5% and that those who buy email marketed stuff spend 138% more than people who avoid email marketing.

The study shows that three out of five people who forward email messages to friends are women, and that one-third of consumers who maintain a separate email address to receive email promotions are in the 18-34 year old range. 

TravelTrends.biz
May 2, 2007

Hotel Website Design – It’s Not All In The Eye of the Beholder

By Keith Paulin

So, you have finally read one too many articles about how 30% plus of your revenues should be arriving via the internet and that a further 30% are influenced by what they discover online about your hotel from your website…and the end of month reports show you are way short of those numbers.

You have taken an objective look at your website and you have decided its time to act…you need a new website for your hotel. You want to get it right this time but where do you start?

For the sake of this article, I’m going to assume, rightly or wrongly, that you have prepared and written an online strategy for your hotel that you will also share with your chosen website designer; you now need to provide them with some design guidelines…a briefing document that is both tactical as well as creative. Our focus here is more on the “look and feel” of your site…I have penned many other articles on hotel website search engine optimisation; Google me for the SEO stuff.

What I am about to share with you has to be taken in context…these recommendations are meant to provide you with a starting point, a foundation upon which to build your online presence… but they are not set in stone. We know that these principals work…and by following these guidelines you will end up with a hotel website that:

• Has a good chance of turning up on the first couple of pages of the Search Engines
• Will be attractive and engage visitors to your hotel website
• Will convert a high percentage of visitors into online revenues

However, once you have prepared a brief, it is important to let your designers…well…design. Don’t restrict their creativity because that is really what you are paying for. You should expect at least two and maybe three alternatives to review, refining these through a series of iterations until you have a design that is both visually appealing as well as Search Engine-friendly.

Layout – work in a grid, usually in thirds (navigation, text, call-to-action buttons or images, usually on the right) or quarters. See that your website designers align the core elements both vertically and horizontally using the grid as a basis for allocating space.

We get our best online results where vertically, one third is navigation (left or right) and two thirds body or text. Horizontally we like to see half of the screen as your header/brand and including a dominant image.

The lower half of the screen should show visitors a headline including the keywords they were searching for, text and the start of the navigation, all without them having to scroll…you can have long pages but visitors shouldn’t have to scroll initially to get the idea of what the page is all about.

Navigation – even experienced web searchers don’t want to learn how to navigate through your site – they need to quickly know how to get to your accommodation, special offers, room rates and web booking engine.

Consequently, we recommend vertical navigation bars…people are used to this, it allows easy drill-down to sub-pages and you can see where you are at any time…none of those pretty but painful horizontal “drop down” menus that keep disappearing and getting you lost and frustrated when they keeping folding up again.

Sub-pages and “landing” pages – many hoteliers do not realise that with a well constructed site, nearly half your visitors will “land” on a sub-page first rather than all arriving via the “home” page. This is why you must include your address and contact details in the footer of every page.

As much attention should be given to the design of lower level pages as the home page so make sure during the initial design stage that you get to see examples of what your sub-pages will look like.

There are two broad design principles we prefer for sub-pages. A single dominant image “floating” in space draws the eye of visitors and captures their interest…it becomes extremely memorable, especially if the image is striking.

Alternatively, use multiple images on a page and keep them the same size, or the same proportion; repetition creates a feeling of consistency and quality.

When it comes to colours, keep it simple…choose one dominant colour and use variations or tones of that base colour as highlights. Unless you have a particularly funky property, stay on the conservative side in your colour selection…blues, greens or beige/parchment can be a great palette to develop a quality theme from.

Don’t be afraid of open or white space…this is ideal for creating an uncluttered combination of imagery and text. Your website needs to capture the hearts and minds of your visitors once they arrive at your site as well as being very Search Engine-friendly and open space is a great way to carry this off.

Even a small image, placed in open space, can work wonders on creating the unique nature of your property. Use “drop shadow” effects to create a three dimensional or embossed look.

You need buttons too…we call them “call to action” buttons to be precise…graphics that prompt visitors to act…”make a reservation”, “check availability” or “make an online enquiry” are just a few examples.

Every page should have at least one button, designed to stand out but not overpower the overall design and that complements the base navigation.

Copy writing – not just the facts…write stories, create experiences, develop an emotional connection with your visitors. Tell them about the romance of your packages, the professional efficiency of your business centre team or those small touches that make your hotel stand out from the crowd.

And remember that online visitors scan rather than read verbatim so use headlines, bold, italics and bullet points to create visual “hooks” for their eyes to pause on. Write enough to keep your visitors interest but not so much that you bore them.

We also like guest testimonials (yes, I know that no one has ever published a poor testimonial on their website)…apart from the visual impact, these are an implied third party endorsement that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Don’t forget that Search Engines can only read text and design code…they can’t see images so you need your design to allow for at least 200 words on each page, within which you can insert the keywords that you are targeting…in the headlines, the main copy and emphasised elements like bolding, as well as in the meta data and title tags.

Fonts should be simple, san serif (no curly bits or heavy styling) and easy on the eye. Use a dark grey or dark tone of your base colour for page font as black can be too “in your face” on screen.

Where appropriate, reversing text in white from a darker background can evoke the feeling of confidence and security…but use this cautiously as it can also be very overpowering.

And as a final hint, use your common sense…you hotel website must be easy to build, easy to maintain or add to and compelling to visitors. If your website designer wants to take three months or more to design the “front end” and build the “back end” for your mid-size property, they are probably over-engineering it…from acceptance of design it should take no longer than a month to complete.

Nowadays, they should be providing you with a website based on a Content Management System which will allow you to edit or add pages in-house quickly and easily…this will also reduce your ongoing costs. Finally, your website should indeed look smart and stylish…simple, fresh and not too busy…enough to capture visitors imagination without trying to do too much.

Use the above guidelines wisely (and remember these are guidelines, not gospel) when you document your hotel website design brief…then let your designers design…and both you, and your website designer, will have a sound foundation upon which to design and build a great website that sells more rooms…after all, that is why you are making this investment, and this time you definitely want to get it right.

Keith Paulin is a leading online marketeer in the hotel industry and is the Group General Manager of Hotel Marketing Workshop, a company that specialises in hotel internet marketing for clients around the world through effective hotel  website design, hotel email services, website content maintenance and hotel website search engine optimisation.

August 28 for TRAVELtech – Two Weeks To No Vacancy

A THEME and date have been selected for TRAVELtech 2007, Australia’s benchmark online travel marketing and distribution event, while the No Vacancy conference in Sydney in just two weeks is shaping up well.

TRAVELtech will be held on August 28, and the theme is ‘Destination Online’.

The program will go way beyond airlines and hotels into the far reaches of the Australian travel web. There’ll be lots of new speakers and plenty of fresh topics – get set for something a little different..

Once again, it will be the best value conference in town with prices starting at $399 + gst. If you’ve got any ideas for the program, would like to speak, are interested in sponsoring or exhibiting, please get in touch. 

Meanwhile, No Vacancy, Australia’s accommodation industry conference, is shaping up to be a great day with an excellent program attracting quality delegates. Please click here for further details on No Vacancy at Star City Casino on May 17.

TravelTrends.biz
May 1, 2007 

Email Bankruptcy and CrackBerry Addicts

By Martin Kelly

A NEW trend is emerging – one I endorse but will not follow – called ‘email bankruptcy’, the act of declaring your ‘inbox’ bankrupt and starting over.

That is, all emails received up to the point of ‘email bankruptcy’ being declared void – poof, they no longer exist. 

New York-based venture capitalist Fred Wilson last week blogged: "I am so far behind on email that I am declaring bankruptcy.

"If you’ve sent me an email (and you aren’t my wife, partner, or colleague), you might want to send it again. I am starting over."

Others followed suit – one wrote: "From here on out I am going back to voice communication as my primary mechanism for interacting with people," he said.

Imagine that, using the phone.

In fact, ‘voice deployment’ (a phrase I just made up, maybe it’ll catch on) is one potential strategy to thwart the email army.

Web Worker Daily has advised readers to use the following auto-responder: "Due to a technical issue, there is a possibility I may never see your email. If it is important, please call me at xxx xxx-xxxx. Sorry for any inconvenience."

But for some, that simply isn’t an option.

Why?

Because they are email addicts who only realized the extent of their addiction when the BlackBerry* (aka ‘Crackberry’) network went down for around 14 hours in North America recently.

“I push that button like a nervous habit, all day, all night. When you don’t get your email you’re like a drug user cut from your source,” one user told the LA Times.

Another said: "I got a great night’s sleep. I didn’t hear the BlackBerry buzzing all night. I wouldn’t want to see this happening all the time. But, occasionally, it’s a blessing in disguise."

The same guy – a Washington lobbyist by the name of David Thomas – also said he was able to watch TV with his wife without interruption. Isn’t he a load of fun?

The outage was also referred to at a White House press briefing. Spokesman Tony Fratto joked with reporters that "we’ve already started a 12-step group …. 14 hours into no BlackBerry”.

No wonder America is having problems.

TravelTrends.biz
May 1, 2007

*For those of you who have been living in a cave, a BlackBerry is a mobile communication device that allows users to receive and send emails, among other things.

 

Grass Grows Faster Than Aussie Hotel Development

THE growth in Australian hotel room numbers is likely to proceed at a snail’s pace with high land costs locking developers out of the accommodation sector. Jones Lang LaSalle estimates new room supply will increase at just 1.4% per annum in major markets to 2010.

CEO Asia Pacific David Gibson hotel development economics are likely to remain “challenging” unless room rates increase faster than development costs, which appears unlikely in the short-term.

At present, the Gold Coast (300 rooms), Darwin (340 rooms), Sydney (300 rooms) and Melbourne (200 rooms) are the most active markets. Looking ahead, the strongest developer interest is in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, where a total of 2000 rooms are proposed over the next few years.

TravelTrends.biz
May 1, 2007

Shoulda Been There - Back in 2019

You should have been there. The first sold-out edition of Travel IQ was a fantastic day.

Make sure you don't miss out in 2019 - register your interest here to get the latest updates.

Travel IQ is a one-day conference that celebrates the business of travel.

It's designed for entrepreneurs, key executives, business owners, directors, analysts, investors and managers across all verticals.

The aim is to get people thinking – and also inspired - with case studies from some of Australia’s most renowned travel entrepreneurs and innovators.

This unique format resonated with the attendees at the first event, which was staged at the Langham, Sydney, on October 24.

As one high-profile speaker commented: "I met with many great people and the overwhelming comment was how much they got out of Travel IQ.

"Personally, I also enjoyed the event very much.

"It is always great getting the heads of companies in the same room, inspiring. So well done!"

Another said: "Excellent first up business event - great base to build on."

Travel IQ 2018 featured an outstanding program packed with industry leaders including:

Anthea Hammon, Managing Director, Scenic World; Director, Hammons Holdings 

- Anthony Hayes, Chief Operating Officer, Sealink Travel Group (SLK)

- Anthony Moulder, Head of Transport & Infrastructure Research, CLSA Australia

- Bob East, Chairman Tourism Australia/ Chair Experience Co (EXP)

- Brett Mitchell, Regional Director APAC, Intrepid Group

- Darrin Grafton, Co-Founder, Serko (SKO)

David Hammon, CEO & Director Hammons Holdings, (Scenic World/Sydney Harbour Bridge Tourism Experience)

- Dax Eddy, Executive Director, Jamberoo Action Park

- Jamie Pherous, Managing Director, Corporate Travel Management (CTD)

- Jeff Lewis, Vice President Technology & Strategic Initiatives, TripAdvisor

- Josh Oakes, Director, The Sunshine Tribe

- Kathryn Valk, Director of Marketing, Royal Carribean Cruises Ltd

- Les Szekely, Managing Director, Grand Prix Capital, early investor in SiteMinder and Rezdy

- Nigel Benton, Publisher, Australian Leisure Media

Quirin Schwaighofer, co-Founder and COO, MadeComfy

- Rachel Wiseman, Chief Investment Officer, The NRMA

- Robert Halfpenny, Managing Director, Aurora Expeditions

- Rod Cuthbert, Founder Viator, Former Chairman Rome2rio

- Rob Smith, Divisional Director, Australia/New Zealand, Merlin Entertainments (LON: MERL)

- Sue Badyari, Chief Executive Officer, World Expeditions

- Simon Lenoir, Co-Founder, Rezdy

- Tammy Marshall, CEO, The B Hive

- Vasso Zographou/Michael Simpson, Savills Hotels

Travel IQ will be back in 2019, date and venue to be advised.

Travel IQ is produced by Martin Kelly, publisher of TravelTrends.biz and creator of several respected industry events.

More information on Travel IQ

We’re proud to be a part of Travel Massive - a tourism community that started in Sydney and has grown to more than 40,000 members world-wide in 70 countries.

Connect with TravelTrends on Travel Massive, and join the community so your business can get discovered.

You can find Travel Massive in these Australian cities:

It's a fantastic community - the only one of its kind - isn't it time you joined?

./././.

- It's All About The Information - 

TravelTrends founder Martin Kelly has diversified and now also runs Bluewater Press, a communications and thought leadership consultancy with a particular expertise in travel. Services include:

- Strategic Communications
- Media Releases & Distribution
- Crisis Management
- Thought Leadership
- Industry Advocacy
- Positioning, Messaging
- Marketing Plans & Execution
- Engaging Content

Martin is a communications, public relations and media professional with extensive high-level experience across the travel, internet, property and banking industries, both in-house and as a consultant.

For further information please email martin@traveltrends.biz

./././.