FONK. Heard of it? It’s the new FOMO apparently. Fear of not knowing rather than fear of missing out. Well here’s your chance to know something you might not already – following is an information download from No Vacancy last week – all the key points. Read on…

Online Growth – But Who Is Getting It. Great news. Experian Hitwise says, based on past trends, user visits to Australian travel websites should increase by 40% through 2015. However there’s a catch for hoteliers. “Hotel brands can’t compete on visits. Interactions with OTAs and Metsearch is a priority.” And: “Online budget should reflect increased demand…”

Marketing is the art of behaviour change… Like that? It’s from Han Zantingh of Brainjuicer, who believes that marketers should target people’s emotions rather than their practical tendencies. Right brain v left brain kind of thing. Interesting for travel because so much of it has become about the price rather than the experience.

Give yourselves an uppercut. That’s what analyst Dean Dransfield said to the audience about their tardiness in bumping up room rates despite persistently high occupancies in key markets. But there are clear signs that is starting to change. 2015 is looking like a big year. As one delegate said: “Last year is a long time ago”.

Don’t get too excited… Another nugget from Dransfield, this time referencing the much-hyped Australian hotel pipeline – the biggest for 20 years. However history shows many may not proceed; “the biggest problem is that developers don’t know what they are doing, they don’t have the experience. Barely anything has been built for the past 10 years.”

Aloft v Holiday Inn Express.  Battle of the budget/mid-scale brands – just don’t call them that. For the record Starwood sees Aloft as a “limited service” while IHG defines Holiday Inn Express as a “select service brand”. But they are very different, the companies say. The real question is why have these ubiquitous brands taken so long to get to Australia?

Money, Money, Money. It’s really starting to flow into travel and accommodation after years of neglect, which a couple of CEOs –  Bob East from Mantra and Paul Constantinou of Quest – found a little bemusing. The share price of Mantra which listed last year has doubled in value while Quest Serviced Apartments has negotiated a $500m investment and development deal with Ascott Limited.

Pivot or persevere? Great question for all of us, though rhetorical, from Emma Faser of TFE Hotels, who was speaking about the hotel group’s decision to replace its suite of brand website for a single portal.  It’s a tough decision and it hasn’t been easy with overall SEO and visits down but – glimmer of hope – conversions up.

Hotels direct. TFE said it is getting up to 70% of its business direct from consumers. Accor and Meriton around 60%. Lots of discussion about this at lunch. Safe to say hotels in the audience were surprised at these high figures…

Narrowed focus on distribution. Serviced apartment owner Meriton, which has 14 properties in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, confirmed the only OTAs it uses are Booking.com and Agoda. Rarely do you see such a narrow focus. Revenue Manager Adrian Thompson says it works for them but probably not possible for a larger group. Great SEO benefits by the way.

FONK: Fear of missing out. Part of a presentation from Neil Ackland  from Sound Alliance on 18-35s. Not using the phrase millennial – “don’t know what it means anyway”. Good news is that travel’s the major priority for this demographic. Probably because they can’t afford a house.

Facebook Zero. A marketing term bandied around on the day. Research reveals it’s about a year old and refers to impending “zero visibility” of content brands publishes in Facebook – unless they pay for access. Interesting. Think about the financial implications for the like of Tourism Australia, which has a huge social media following.

Technology is the business model. Sometimes a thought just comes at you when you’re in the middle of something else. Discussing the roll-out of instant booking with HomeAway’s regional VP Dan Lynn, I had a minor epiphany, that Airbnb is a technology rather than accommodation play. It started with the technology and took it from there. Slow on the uptake, right.

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