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Posted by on Aug 29, 2017 in Digital Industry News, Travel Industry News

The World of Metasearch – Quick News Hits from the Metasearch Giants

Since 2014, metasearch traffic has tripled. More recently, it has been suggested that metasearch advertising is one of the most important channels for hotels, allowing properties to amplify their book-direct strategies. If you aren’t familiar with metasearch channels, in a nutshell, they aggregate rates from a variety of sources and allow a user to compare a supplier’s room rates against those of many other channels. Koddi, a metasearch bid-automation platform, recently shared an excellent infographic to help answer the question “What is metasearch?

If you are already well-versed in the metasearch landscape, you know that the space is becoming increasingly competitive. Today, many of the major players are prioritizing innovation and ramping up marketing spend to ensure they can solidify their spot in the future of the hotel-rate-comparison business. Take a look at what some of the biggest competitors are up to these days:

Google Hotel Ads Tests, Including Vacation Rentals

This summer, Google began testing, including vacation rentals in their Hotel Ads interface – a first and major milestone for the company. Traditionally, users could search for dates and see a variety of hotels, but never alternative lodging options. According to Skift, the test appears to include 7,000 property listings and is focused on European cities, including Barcelona, Paris and Rome. and (owned by Expedia) both have listings appearing in the test; notably, Airbnb and HomeAway are not present. Koddi President/Co-founder Nicholas Ward noted a few clear shortcomings of the current user experience, including the lack of filtering options, content and reviews for the vacation rentals. Even still, the test marks the monumental entrance of Google into the vacation-rental business, and the company certainly has the resources for further testing and development if there is demand.

Google Hotel Ads(Image Source: Jacqueline Sharp, screen capture of Google Hotel Ads)

“Alexa, ask Kayak to book me a hotel room”

Conversational search queries are on the rise and, in May 2016, Google stated that 20% of mobile queries were voice searches. For the hotel industry, though, voice bookings were an untapped playing field until Kayak introduced the opportunity to book hotel rooms through Amazon’s Alexa, the persona of the Echo device, in June 2017. The new functionality can be used in two ways:

  1. You can share your destination and travel dates with Alexa, and she will recite the available hotels and their rates. When you hear one you like, you can request to book it.
  2. You already know where you’d like to stay and when, then you can ask Alexa for the rates and to complete the reservation.

Of course, for users who are interested in scouring many different sites to find the best rate, reading reviews and looking at photos, the Alexa experience will not be well-suited. Even still, the capability is the first for the industry, and will only get better and more advanced with time.

TripAdvisor Reacts to a Decrease in Advertising Spend

In July 2017, TripAdvisor experienced softer cost-per-click pricing on their hotel metasearch rate ads – a result of suppliers and OTAs spending less than in the past. Expedia and Priceline had traditionally been the company’s largest advertisers, contributing up to 46% of the annual revenue. But with the recent decrease in advertising spend, which is not particular to one region but rather experienced globally, TripAdvisor has taken action.

While it may be too early to tell if major OTAs pulling their money from TripAdvisor and directing it elsewhere will become a trend, the company has launched a series of television commercials to combat the lost revenue. Between July and September, TripAdvisor will spend over $35 million on the television spots, and will run the campaigns in the United States, Canada, France, Spain, the UK and Australia.

Trivago Urges Independent Hotels to Advertise Online

Trivago’s CEO Rolf Schrömgens recently shared that “Trivago now has access to 1.8 million properties sourced from more than 180 booking sites, more than 230 hotel chains and some 11,000 individual hotels.” While these numbers are impressive at first, it’s estimated that there are between 140,000 and 600,000 independent hotels globally, leaving a tremendous amount of properties outside of the Trivago landscape. Today, the majority of hotels on the platform are the major chains, while many independent hotels rely on OTAs to drive their businesses instead.

Trivago hopes that by continuing extensive television advertising, they will further achieve brand recognition, and as Schrömgens shares, “It’s hard to reach them [the independent hotels]. But this effort will help.” In addition to increased advertising, Trivago introduced Rate Insights in June 2017, a solution designed to help independent hoteliers access rate data and understand traveler search volume and fluctuations.


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Posted by on Oct 25, 2016 in Social Media, Travel Industry News

Traveler Launches New Series “Round The World” with Star Alliance

Marriott Traveler debuts its latest content series, “Round the World,” featuring the photos, videos and articles of eight notable travelers who recently circumnavigated the globe. For the series of articles, Traveler worked closely with Star Alliance, the world’s largest global airline alliance, to develop themed itineraries for bloggers, vloggers and social media influencers as they leveraged Star Alliance’s new Round the World Ticket. The series documents every aspect of the influencers’ trips that included destinations like Bangkok, Cape Town, Chicago, Dubai, New York City, Rome, Seoul, Tokyo and Toronto. Visit Marriott Traveler to see their experiences and exclusive content!

Via Stephanie Fioretti, Account Supervisor

Supertree Grove in Gardens by the Bay in Singapore by Michael Schulz

(Image Source: Marriott Traveler)

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Posted by on Sep 20, 2016 in Digital Industry News, Travel Industry News

Trending @ MDS: What Digital Services is Reading Now

To continue our Trending @ MDS series, this week I polled the Digital Services team to see what they are currently reading.

Marriott Digital Services Blog

From international marketing blogs to books about human behavior, our team recommended a wide variety of suggestions to add to your reading list.

Brandon Harper Marriott Digital Services

Brandon Harper
Senior Manager Digital Demand Generation Strategy


“I find that Skift frequently features compelling travel industry news. I like exploring the big-picture trends and market forces that drive the industry and the reactions of the various competitors to them. Skift’s content is geared towards these interests and the site features useful resources such as newsletters and podcasts.”

 Ashley Wade Marriott Digital Services

Ashley Wade
Program Specialist

“I love to keep up-to-date in the world of technology with TechCrunch. TechCrunch covers all things digital including new gadgets, social media platforms, and industry news. TechCrunch also has the best updates for Europe and Asia technology news!”

Deli Almonte Marriott Digital Services

Delianny Almonte
Program Specialist

The Tipping Point

“The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell writes a fascinating account of how patterns in human behavior, even the smallest ones, can trigger an epidemic of change. I love this book because it focuses on how things can spread like wildfire. A single person or a single action can create an entire fashion trend, increase the popularity of a new product, or drop the crime rate in a city. And while this book was written in 2002, it applies so much to our ever changing digital world in 2016! Fourteen years later, it’s amazing to see how an app can blow up after a group of high school friends start sharing it, or how trends (Pokémon Go!) can expand so rapidly worldwide! It really tests what brands think it takes to make their content go “viral.”


Erin Layshock Marriott Digital Services

Erin Layshock
Program Specialist

The Verge

One of my go-to websites to get news and perspective on the tech and digital industry is The Verge. It keeps you on top of the ever-evolving tech industry, but presents information in an easily digestible and entertaining way. The nerd in me loves the science news included on the site that never fails to blow my mind, if you care for a teaser: the last one I read involved engineering translucent rodents.”


Frederic Schaub Marriott Digital Services

Frederic Schaub
Senior Manager Global Strategy

“eMarketer is a fantastic resource to get statistics about almost anything digital, social, mobile, you name it. They are recognized as a trustworthy source of information; their consistent and constant updates allow one to use their information to inform research, decks, and more.”


Josh Vogel Marriott Digital Services

Joshua Vogel
Digital Analyst

Hotel News Now
I thoroughly enjoy visiting Hotel News Now. The website provides all of the news that you need to know about the hotel industry in a clear and concise manner. I love how you can subscribe to HNN’s Daily Update and receive regular email updates with the day’s top lodging headlines.”


Mary Cline Marriott Digital Services

Mary Cline
Account Manager

I’m currently reading #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso and highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a candid, hilarious account of an unlikely entrepreneur’s bumpy road to success. As the founder and executive chairman of a $250-million-plus fashion retailer with more than four hundred employees, Sophia shares lessons on hard work, the value of customer service and how far passion can take one in life. Her descriptions of how she learned to use search terms, branding, and digital marketing are will have you laughing out loud and thinking about how you can apply the same ideas to your own career. Disclaimer: while I’m a fan of the ideas in this book, #BOSS would be a more appropriate and inclusive title!”


Sonal Shah Marriott Digital Services

Sonal Shah
Account Manager

“What I love about eHotelier is that it combines my three favorite subjects: digital + hospitality + global. Working with hotels and resorts from all around the world, this site gives me the insight I need to stay up-to-date with the latest region-specific industry trends. Additionally, this site goes beyond just covering the latest marketing strategies; it covers exciting topics ranging from large international business acquisitions and emerging international hotel brands, to hotel design and in-room digital trends.”

Tyler Gagnon Marriott Digital Services

Tyler Gagnon
Account Manager

The Daily Shot – Garden & Gun Magazine
“Although I was born and raised as a New Englander, the time I spent living in the South has rubbed off on me. I love this blog from the publishers of Garden & Gun Magazine. It’s a great way to get a daily fix of all the great food/drink/music/art/culture that is happening every day within the region and beyond. Check it out if you want to learn how to kick back and enjoy the good things in life.”


To learn more about the Marriott Digital Services team, check out previous Trending @ MDS archive posts. And be sure to share your favorite reading recommendations with the team in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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Posted by on Aug 23, 2016 in Travel Industry News

Three Ways Marriott is Innovating Hospitality

Danyal Sheikh served as one of Digital Service’s three summer interns. During his time with the team, he helped support numerous projects focusing on hotels, reports, marketing and social media. He is currently a senior at American University, in Washington DC, studying Tech Entrepreneurship and Marketing. Danyal is passionate about dancing and cars. He is part of the American University Dance team and often goes to different car shows in America.

In today’s fast paced world, customers are expecting instant gratification, as they become more demanding and change the way they interact with hotels. Marriott International is using innovative tools such as “in room Netflix,” a mobile app and “smart closets” to improve guest experience and increase brand loyalty.

1.) Netflix Streaming “Our Screen, Your Stream”

Marriott Netflix

(Image Source: IAE Magazine)

Marriott has started providing access to Netflix in hotel guestrooms. Customers simply log-in with their Netflix username and then just relax and enjoy Netflix streaming straight to the guestroom’s TV. According to NBC, Marriott is the first hotel company to offer streaming service to their guests. Matthew Carroll, Marriott International’s Vice President of Brand Management, says that customers want to carry their streaming content with them wherever they travel. Marriott’s goal is to make it easier for guests to enjoy their content while they are staying at any Marriott hotel.

Marriott Hotels has already made Netflix available in some of its hotels, but by the end of 2016, Marriott Hotels plans to have Netflix in all of its 300 properties in the US. This innovation is currently focused on Marriott Hotels but it is beginning to become available in other brands under Marriott International’s portfolio.

Marriott International’s partnership with Netflix means more customer satisfaction and increased brand loyalty. Guests have to login only once throughout their stay at a Marriott property; once they check out, the guest’s Netflix account will automatically log out. Guests stay in a Marriott hotel for different reasons, for example: business, leisure, vacation, etc. Whatever the guest might be doing in the area, they likely would love to come back to the guestroom at night and enjoy Netflix. Marriott International provides this feature in their goal of becoming the world’s favorite travel company.

2.) New Container Store Closets


(Image Source: Container Store)

Marriott is changing the way that customers stay, travel and recharge. Another way Marriott is adapting to new trends is through their partnership with TownePlace Suites and The Container Store. Marriott is building smarter, more efficient closets in hotel guestrooms because research found that customers are not fully unpacking their luggage. The new closets are more accessible, open and convenient for the customers.

3.) Marriott Mobile App – “The Power of Travel is in Your Hands”

Marriott Mobile

(Image Source: Marriott)

With the Marriott Mobile App, guest can do a number of cool things such as:

  • Search for a room
  • Book a room
  • Access Marriott Rewards Account
  • Get notifications about the room being ready
  • Mobile check-in and checkout from anywhere
  • Request more pillows or towels with a tap of a button
  • Make special requests before, after or during your stay
  • With the Mobile key feature, a guest can use his/her phone to unlock a guestroom

These are only a few examples of the innovative initiatives that Marriott International has implemented in order to keep their customers happy and to continue to be the hospitality leader.

Marriott International is also working on other projects involving updates and adding more features to the mobile app and the website in order to improve the user experience.

Stay tuned on what’s next to come!

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Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 in Social Media, Travel Industry News

Millennial Travelers & Social Media: #NoFOMO Here

A quick glance at any millennial’s social media feed will depict wanderlust inducing images of exotic locales, ranging from a sandy beach in the Caribbean to a faraway sunset cityscape. Almost every aspect of life for this demographic touches social media. They date, book appointments and order takeout via social media apps. It’s only natural that millennials use social media for travel purposes. This generation is willing to spend money on travel because they prefer experiences over material goods. They’re willing to budget more for trips than their more senior counterparts and are on track to spend $1.4 trillion on travel each year by 2020. Millennials are the largest generation to date (79 million), so brand marketers are chomping at the bit to be BFF’s with these consumers, and social media provides the ideal meet cute.

When it comes to booking, millennials do their research before clicking “book.” Social media plays a pivotal role in how this traveler makes decisions and 87% look at Facebook for travel inspiration. They might look through Instagram and Tumblr for preliminary ideas, then move on to Yelp and online travel agencies for reviews, then ask for travel recommendations from friends via Facebook status updates. 76% say that friends’ recommendations are top influencers for travel and 80% feel travel reviews have a strong influence on their decisions. It’s all about sharing for this group, so once that trip to San Fran is booked, would said millennial like to share their reservation on Facebook? Absolutely.

On the flipside, flexibility is crucial because these travelers like to be spontaneous too. This explains the rise in home sharing services like Airbnb and the new startup, Overnight. On demand bookings can be made quickly via mobile app when users decide they want to stay somewhere last minute. Similarly to dating apps, Overnight allows users to see if they have mutual Facebook friends with hosts. For traditional hotels, guest personalization is the best way to cater to millennial preferences. Engaging with guests via social channels is one way to do so. Hotels should embrace spontaneity by offering limited-time flash sale discounts and one night only offers.

Millennial Travel

(Image source: Virtuoso)


During the stay, it’s no surprise that millennials seek an authentic, local experience. They turn to apps like Opentable and Yelp to see where the locals dine. Another go-to is to crowd-source recommendations via social media. You will not find them confined to a hotel room- they want to do, see, hear, smell and taste the local flavors. Hotels should embrace local vibes as much as possible and position themselves as local experts to these guests. Social media is the ideal venue to showcase this local knowledge.

Like their older and younger counterparts, millennials post updates, photos and videos when they travel. To be exact, 75% update social media once a day while traveling. As the saying goes, “if you don’t Instagram it, did it ever really happen?” The most popular social apps used when traveling are Facebook (94%), followed by Instagram (71%) and Twitter (14%).

Brands benefit from all this user generated content because it’s free marketing, especially when a guest geo-tags the property or engages with the property’s social account. This is why influencer marketing has become integral to the travel industry. When the latest Insta-famous blogger posts about his or her recent trip to Positano, and their 15,000 followers see every detail, what follower wouldn’t get the travel bug?

Millennial Travelers Skift

(Image Source: Skift)


Happy millennials on social media are the gift that keeps on giving. They’ll post TBT’s, leave reviews and come back for more. Research has shown that 47% of millennials are more likely to engage with brands they have a previous history with, so now is the time to forge long-term relationships with this demographic. Millennials like to save money, just like everyone else, and reports that 68% will remain loyal to a program that offers them the most rewards. Hotels can capitalize on this loyalty by building lifelong customers early on. Tangible rewards like VIP experiences, upgrades and discounts are the way to this group’s heart.

Millennial Spend

(Image source: MDG Advertising)

What Now?

  • Hotels must maintain an active social media presence to be part of the conversation with millennials- embrace local identity and showcase expertise on the neighborhood.
  • Capitalize on user-generated content- repost, like and reply to content that guests post on social media.
  • Win millennial loyalty by offering tangible rewards programs- offer VIP experiences, upgrades and points.
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Posted by on Mar 8, 2016 in Announcements, Digital Industry News, Travel Industry News

Trending at MDS: Favorite Blogs & Websites

The Digital Services team is a chatty and friendly bunch, constantly dishing out book recommendations, favorite podcasts, and links to blog articles, etc. To share this wealth of knowledge last summer I posted A Few of our Favorite Things: Books & Podcasts, highlighting popular book and podcast recommendations from my colleagues.

Marriott Digital Services Blog

To continue our popular Trending at MDS series, today I’m sharing the Digital Services team’s favorite websites and blogs. I asked team members to share what marketing, travel and personal development websites they love to browse during their downtime.


Charles Pollard Marriott Digital Services

Charles Pollard
Digital Reporting Strategy Manager

“I really like TNOOZ. It provides a lot of stories on new technology in travel and tourism. Additionally TNOOZ provides great perspective on distribution strategy by OTAs and other hotel companies.”


Chelsea Moore Marriott Digital Services

Chelsea Moore
Account Manager

“My favorite Instagram account to follow is @FoodInTheAir. This account was created by my fellow College of Charleston alumni (Go Cougars!) and combines two of my favorite things: traveling and food! The account encourages followers to literally put their food in the air in front of scenic backdrops. Not only are the backdrops tourist gems or exotic landscapes, but the food they highlight is truly mouthwatering. It also gives an opportunity to put local restaurants in the spotlight in large tourist towns. I’ve checked out a couple of spots while I was traveling because I had to get my hands across that delectable bagel sandwich! Check them out, and you’ll be drooling over the food and gorgeous travel spots in no time!”


Joanne Chung Marriott Digital Services

Joanne Chung
Account Manager

“I LOVE the Migrationology travel blog by Mark Weins because he has good, quality content in a beautifully designed page. His entries are well-organized and he writes not just about the amazing food he eats, but about how to travel smart. His YouTube channel will also have you drooling! If you’re passionate about traveling, Mark Weins’ blog will only fuel that!”



Megan Munoz Marriott Digital Services

Megan Munoz
SEO Analyst

“One of my favorite sites to visit is The Daily Muse on It is a great resource for learning about how to create a great work environment, whatever your career may be. It’s also really fun and motivating! Blog posts are written to target millennials, so the tone of the posts are always relatable with what our generation may be experiencing in their workplace. One blog may be about how to get to know your co-workers better, while other more technical posts can focus on what skills you need to be successful, like Job Skills You’ll Need in 2020!  I love getting expert career guidance for my career goals and how to create a good work/life balance. You can also sign up to get their advice and motivational posts to your e-mail, like I do!”


Ryan Sanecki Marriott Digital Services

Ryan Sanecki
Social Media Analyst

Levo does a great job of introducing professionals and potential mentors in a myriad of industries across the digital landscape. I can attribute a large part of my success to my mentors and their guidance on how to approach digital integration.  From ventures to undergraduate libraries, most industries are represented by skilled innovators on”


Samantha Bitzelberger Marriott Digital Services

Samantha Bitzelberger
Content Analyst is my current addiction for all thing tech and digital. They have hundreds of well-made, educational videos on numerous topics like software programs, the creative design process, even business skills. I even have the phone app so I can learn on the go! :)”





Jessica Fisher Marriott Digital Services

Jessica Fisher
Content Strategy Manager

“My favorite is the Content Marketing Institute’s Blog – it’s my go-to for content marketing inspiration, case studies and news. It’s super engaging and easily digestible. A number of the posts are also very actionable, I can read a post quickly and see many use cases for our own hotels. This blog covers everything from content inception and strategy to distribution and outreach (as well as everything in-between!)”


Michael Jozaitis Marriott Digital Services

Michael Jozaitis
Senior Manager, Search Strategy

Search Engine Land is THE go to new source for all thing organic and paid search. The most authoritative, informed, timely and well written search blog out there.  If you’re an SEO and you don’t read Search Engine Land, that’s like President Obama not reading the daily presidential brief.”


Ricarda Dhossou Marriott Digital Services

Ricarda Dhossou
Account Supervisor

“Whether you are interested in social, search, analytics, email or anything else digital, ClickZ is a great resource to take your digital knowledge to the next level. The spectrum of posts is very broad, keeping it interesting for new and seasoned digital marketers alike.”


Thank you to my Digital Service colleagues, who provided so many new and wonderful website recommendations!

Consider adding these new websites and blogs to your Feedly or RSS reader to follow along.  If you have any website suggestions for us to visit, please leave a comment below. Stay tuned for future Trending at MDS posts.

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