Fuel Friday: OTA Takeovers & Movie Makeovers

Friday is finally upon us – check out the latest and greatest in the travel and tech industries:

Amazon Local Travel is a Thing, Apparently

Though the retail giant did make a pretty big deal about the rollout of their new “Amazon Travel” website, they have been relatively quiet about the new “Amazon Local Travel” feature despite many hoteliers piqued interest.

The program focuses on independent and boutique hotels (for now) and invited properties have the ability to publish rates, control inventory, etc. through the program.

As of now, the commission rate is 15% which is on par or slightly below other OTAs. Criteria for the program include outstanding guest reviews and a location within a few hours of a major US market.

Stay tuned for more news about the progress with this developing program.

Expedia, Come on Down

…You are the next contestant on who wants to buyout an OTA! Expedia is on the fast track to more market share as they announce their latest acquisition, Orbitz.

This announcement comes just a few weeks after the travel giant purchased Travelocity for $280 Million. The price tag of this buyout, however, came with a much heftier price tag – $1.8 Billion (in cash, nonetheless).

The onslaught of recent acquisitions (Priceline now owns travel giant Kayak) is a major shift towards consolidation of the market as a whole and many smaller companies are coming to see the writing on the wall as they fall one by one to larger entities.

Alternative Travel is the Trend for 2015

Treehouse HotelChange is in the air as guests ditch the big box hotels and Zagat restaurant recommendations.

While online reviews are still going strong, more and more travelers are looking for a truly local experience and are beginning to embrace the “sharing economy”.

AirBnB, the poster child for the localized movement, is not just one of several accommodations and experience providers that are offering a more unique take on traditional travel. Guests can now stay in tree houses, luxury villas, or even on someone’s couch.

And this trend extends outside of just accommodations – other localized services include architectural, historic, and even culinary tours offered by local residents, alternative travel options like Uber and Lyft, and much more.

What are your thoughts on the recent alternative travel shift?

Visa – We’re Everywhere You Are Now

Anyone who has every traveled abroad and failed to notify the bank probably knows the frustration when a credit or debit card gets declined.

If banks are unaware of out of the country travel, they may flag or decline your travel transactions. But, fret not, as Visa has finally come up with a solution: Mobile Location Confirmation.

This new optional service uses data from your smartphone about your location and uses that information to help decide if a card is actually in your possession.

While some are skived out about Visa keeping track of their every move, some find it a viable solution to travel woes and fraud prevention.

Would you try out this service if you were traveling abroad?

Could Siri Be Your Next Concierge?

As technology continues to evolve and more and more people are growing up in the digital age, many hotels have begun to question the necessity of the concierge.

Digital check-in / check-out kiosks could, hypothetically, eliminate the need of the front desk check point. However, what about the other services offered by a concierge?

The modern day concierge is not just a robot who checks guests in and out; rather, they represent something that cannot be replaced – a local travel expert and personal assistant.

More and more properties are offering personal concierge services to meet any and all needs of guests and the concierge is not expected to be an expert of the ins and outs of the market that they serve.

Is the human touch something that cannot totally be replaced by technology?

Read more about how emerging technology is changing the role of the concierge.

Y’all Ain’t From ‘Round Here, Are Ya?

Google recently acquired the patent to a new technology that aims to help travelers fit in with their foreign surroundings.

The new feature will be integrated into Google Maps and will provide an audio clip of places all over the world. Better yet, the audio clip will be recorded by area locals to ensure that the words are pronounced and enunciated properly.

This new feature comes as a timely birthday present as the travel revolutionizing Google product turns ten years old.

Two Bellmen – 2015’s Most Anticipated Release

Marriott is not stranger when it comes to unique marketing ploys. As one of the first hotels to experiment with SnapChat and to offer hotel guests as select destinations a GoPro to document their vacation experience, this latest stunt shouldn’t surprise many.

Marriott is now paving the way for hotels in the online video industry as they release the trailer for their very short film. Yes, you read that correctly.

Two Bellman incorporates comedy, parkour, and martial arts and will feature some of the movie industry’s biggest start. The film will be debuted via YouTube on March 10th and you can watch the Two Bellman movie trailer online.

What do you think is this week’s biggest travel / tech story? Let us know & share this article with others!

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Meisha BochicchioFuel Friday: OTA Takeovers & Movie Makeovers
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