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A country where leadership is born from innovation and resistance

PhocusWire - 14 December 2017
There’s a dichotomy that exists in a country that brought the world Einstein, Porsche, Siemens and Adidas, and also bred a culture inherent with a certain resistance to change and technological innovation. It’s a nation that’s home to the European Central Bank and other leading banks, and also millions of residents who fear using credit cards.
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Travelport proclaims first GDS to reach next NDC level

PhocusWire - 14 December 2017
Yesterday Travelport became the first global distribution system to obtain Level 3 status under IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) initiative. The certification - IATA’s highest - puts the GDS ahead of fellow distribution platforms Sabre and Amadeus, which have both stated plans to achieve Level 3 rank in 2018. Travelport will work with airline tech specialist Farelogix to implement the NDC connection with a major global airline, the details surrounding to be revealed soon; Travelport also worked with UK travel agency Meon Valley Travel.
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CryptoBnB - the most zeitgeisty startup of 2017

PhocusWire - 13 December 2017
Blockchain. Artificial intelligence. Big data. While those sound like a rundown of this year’s biggest buzzwords, the three technologies actually form the backbone of a new Airbnb competitor gearing for the home-sharing marketplace called CryptoBnB. By harnessing the “power of three,” CryptoBnB positions itself as an intelligent short-term rental platform that allows hosts and guests to transact via cryptocurrency. In other words: Airbnb meets Bitcoin.
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Augmented reality specs - the race is on

PhocusWire - 13 December 2017
Though the Next Big Thing won’t appear for a while, we know pretty much what it will look like. It will be a lightweight, always-on wearable that obliterates the divide between the stuff we see on screens and the stuff we see when we look up from our screens. There have been a litany of disappointments so far: Google Glass’s humiliating stumble; Snapchat’s low-selling Spectacles; Magic Leap’s epically late headset; and the disappointing initial sales of Oculus’s own virtual-reality headsets. But you can write those off as baby steps, because all the big companies are going long on augmented reality. And in 2018, you’ll see the building blocks on your mobile phones.
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Where online travelers find value when booking

PhocusWire - 13 December 2017
As today’s online traveler finds more and more ways to search and compare flight options, there’s one need across the board both airlines and customers will always consider: value. New data from Expedia and travel intelligence company ARC identifies current patterns related to best-value pricing and when travelers should book trips.
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Think you're leading the way in AI? Look outside the window

PhocusWire - 13 December 2017
Artificial intelligence has been the buzz trend of 2017, with countless travel companies eager to claim their prowess in the field or signify how it's become core to their strategy. Yet the sector is almost nowhere to be seen in a list of the leading 100 private companies applying AI algorithms to their business. CBInsights released its second annual collection of brands this week, based on a variety of factors including patent activity, funding history, valuation, business model, team and innovation.
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Mixing media is the smart shift for travel in 2018

PhocusWire - 13 December 2017
There was a shift felt across the travel industry when Booking.com announced in November that they would be more than doubling their investment in television advertising. Considering that this Priceline Group-owned company was born of the digital travel era, and remains a leader in digital marketing, the move was surprising... Why would an online pioneer like Booking.com step backward into broadcast media? The answer isn’t simple, and it goes far beyond a single decision in Booking.com’s marketing department.

Chinese web travel brand Mafengwo raises $133M

PhocusWire - 12 December 2017
Another major capital-raise heading to a Chinese online travel agency - this time it's $133 million in the pockets of Mafengwo. The Series D round was backed by lead investor General Atlantic, with participation from Ocean Link, Temasek, Yuantai Investment and Hopu. Other participants include Capital Today, Qiming Venture Partners and Hillhouse Capital.
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Video: Next generation on what excites them in travel tech

PhocusWire - 12 December 2017
It's usually the people at the top of big companies that get all the attention, both in terms of events and announcements. But there are plenty of others who deserve the attention, especially when they are fairly new to the industry. They are often not prejudiced by what has come before, or see things in a totally different way.
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The evolution of the vacation rental market in Airbnb

PhocusWire - 12 December 2017
In recent weeks, we have witnessed two significant moves by Airbnb that will have interesting implications on the international, short-term and vacation rental industry. Firstly, the platform has introduced Host Tools; and secondly, Airbnb has said that it will be following London’s cap on urban rentals, with a similar cap for Paris, coming into effect in January.
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Hilton unveils first mobile-focused hotel room

PhocusWire - 11 December 2017
Much like Marriott’s “hotel room of the future,” Hilton has debuted what it’s billing as the first mobile-centric hotel room with its “Connected Room.” The Connected Room, currently in beta testing and live in one Hilton hotel, will allow guests to personalize and manage all aspects of their stay from their phones. Using the technology through the Hilton Honors app, guests will control everything from temperature and lighting to windows and the television. Further down the line, guests will be able to use voice commands to set controls, as well as customize individual preferences from their Hilton Honors app.
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Silicon Valley should not be complacent about China

PhocusWire - 11 December 2017
Silicon Valley should not be complacent about China Brought to you by http://bit.ly/2yfcSYb 0 0 Minh-Ha Nguyen - Fortune 74 NotatedNews The apparent arrogance of Silicon Valley has manifested itself in many ways (some not savoury at all, such as the "brogrammer"
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Blockchain and travel distribution: into the unknown

PhocusWire - 11 December 2017
In addition to emerging voice technologies, blockchain likewise represents a major paradigm shift in the travel industry around data collection and distribution, according to a panel at last week's Expedia Partner Conference. “Blockchain is the number one technology that people talk about, but actually have no idea what it is,” Expedia senior vice president of global product Arthur Chapin says.
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VIDEO: Breathing new life into distribution of hotels

PhocusWire - 11 December 2017
We are forever hearing that the hotel model is under threat from, well, basically everything and everyone. Hospitality and entertainment legend Ian Schrager had some strong words to say about the situation last week.
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Evolving nature of travelers using online agencies

PhocusWire - 8 December 2017
While the bleisure traveler – someone who extends business trips into vacations – is on the rise, new statistics show that live events play a big factor in decision making. According to Josh Belkin, vice president of Hotels.com, and colleague Paulo Cunha, vice president of retail and business development, more than 47% of business travelers are searching for live events – such as concerts or music festivals – when considering a tacked-on leisure element.
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Viator founder slams TripAdvisor over strategy

PhocusWire - 8 December 2017
TripAdvisor has been accused of neglecting its Viator tour and activity booking business by the man who created it in 1995. Rod Cuthbert, Viator's founder, then CEO and latterly chairman until 2010, says TripAdvisor's stewardship of the business - via a $200 million deal in 2014 - is taking the incorrect route and not capitalizing on the strength of the original brand.
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Goal for web travel brands should be the human touch

PhocusWire - 8 December 2017
The holy grail for online travel agencies is how to recreate the experience of personal recommendations. At least, this is the view Arthur Chapin, senior vice president of global product at Expedia. To that end, the company is investing heavily in machine learning and voice technologies, a main focus of discussion at the Expedia Partner Conference in Las Vegas this week. According to Chapin, the key to effective machine learning – feeding data to machines for self-optimized improvements – is to ensure it’s set up in the right way to ask the right problems. “Machines beat humans, and machine learning beats traditional computing,” he says, adding that Expedia is "racing" to get the company’s stack plugged into machines.
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Booking.com expands startup plan for sustainable tourism

PhocusWire - 8 December 2017
Booking.com is to extend its Booking Booster Program into a second year, aimed at funding startups that are engaged in sustainable tourism. Building on a successful debut year, the Priceline Group-owned OTA confirms will, for 2018, include a series of weekend programs for early-stage startups and a new €2 million fund for non-profit projects innovating in sustainable tourism. In 2017, nearly 700 startups with teams from 102 nationalities applied to join the program. Last year, the Backstreet Academy took home the top grant of €400,000, which was used to increase their scaling plans. The Backstreet Academy also won €10,000 in credits from Booking.com for future stays.
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Rented raises $125 million for host guarantee plan

PhocusWire - 7 December 2017
Vacation rental management service Rented will use a massive investment windfall to tackle a different type of problem in its sector. The U.S.-based company has created a fund to the tune of $125 million (via investment service Parkwood) that will allow it to guarantee an income to property owners who want to connect via its platform to property managers around the world. It currently more than 1,000 managers on its network.
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Hotels should "adjust the model" in Airbnb battle

PhocusWire - 7 December 2017
"Airbnb is coming for our kids," hospitality and nightclub legend Ian Schrager has cautioned the industry in a major speech this week. When asked if hotels should be worried about the home sharing economy, Schrager notes that while the "gloves have come off" for some big hotel brands, overall the industry needs to stop being in denial about the disruption.
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VIDEO: Solving a genuine multi billion dollar problem in travel

PhocusWire - 6 December 2017
There are a number of comments that often float about during travel startup pitch events - many of them not very positive. From the reasonably constructive: "This is a feature, not a business." ... to the not particularly subtle: "This is a solution in desperate need of a problem to solve."
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Expedia rolls out MICE tech tool to the US

PhocusWire - 6 December 2017
In an effort to streamline the booking process for hotels and meeting planners, Expedia is rolling out its automated MICE online booking engine in the United States. The white label tech solution – available currently to select hotel partners - is designed to enable hotels to respond to RFPs about 20 times faster, thus speeding up and simplifying the sometimes lengthy process for small- to medium-size events.
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Amadeus ramps up hotel options with Expedia Affiliate Network deal

PhocusWire - 6 December 2017
Amadeus claims to have 750,000 unique properties in its portfolio of hotels, thanks to a deal struck this week with the Expedia Affiliate Network. The agreement is the first time that EAN has supplied inventory into the Global Distribution System, giving it 350,000 hotels worldwide. The properties will be available on the Amadeus GDS for agencies (offline and online) to search and book alongside other suppliers of content.
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Where angel investors should place their bets in travel

PhocusWire - 6 December 2017
The retreat of angel and seed stage funding is not just a travel tech phenomena. In fact, the pullback has been steady for most of 2017 and hit a low point here in the Bay Area during the third quarter.
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Tech rental ecosystem grows: MyVR lands $6.1M

PhocusWire - 6 December 2017
MyVR is the latest company to capitalize on the emerging sub-network of services around providing services to private accommodation sellers. The U.S.-based startup has secured a $6.1 million funding round from True Ventures, alongside a number of existing, unnamed backers.
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Business travelers take booking freedom, age differences ease

PhocusWire - 6 December 2017
A study on European business traveler preferences offers new insight on booking behaviors across age groups and country. According to the report by travel loyalty app Wanup, two in five frequent business travelers, or about 41%, book hotels for themselves directly, as opposed to bookings overseen by their companies. Italian consumers lead direct bookings at 46.5%, and self-employed travelers book direct most frequently at 49.5%.

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