Journeyful’s elite travel advisors provide leisure and corporate travelers a suite of concierge services, including personalized itinerary and event planning, price shopping for the lowest rates on air tickets, hotel bookings and vacation packages.

SINGAPORE, February 21, 2013.  Journeyful, a travel-focused technology company today announced that it has officially launched a concierge service in Singapore to complement its online hotel search engine, Journeyful.com.

The concierge service gives travelers direct access to Journeyful’s travel advisors who work closely with customers to tailor-make itineraries designed to enhance the travel experience without stretching the budget.

“This is a great new benefit for our customers,” said Jezreel Tan, Journeyful’s Senior Sales Manager.  “Not only is our concierge service free of charge, our customers are also saving hundreds of dollars when they book hotels, airlines and even tours together in a single package.”

The Journeyful concierge service is available to customers before and after a booking or at anytime during the trip.  To take advantage of the service, customers can contact Journeyful reservations by email or telephone anytime.

“Journeyful travel advisors take the time to get to know our customers to understand their individual needs and preferences,” explains Clara Lu, Journeyful’s Marketing Manager.  “For many travelers, it’s not about saving a few pennies here or there through a discount website.  It’s about the experience.  It’s about being in the know.  Not only do we save our customers money, we also give them great advice.  Now that’s real value.”

About Journeyful

Journeyful is a travel-focused technology company.  Established in 2010, the Company has developed Journeyful.com, an online hotel search engine that offers consumers a comprehensive travel platform with best price guarantees and direct access to both hotel staff and other travelers via the integrated social network.  For hotels, Journeyful is a powerful and cost-effective distribution, marketing and social networking platform designed to increase direct bookings.

Media contacts:

Clara Lu
Journeyful Pte Ltd
+65 6750 2265
media@journeyful.com
website: http://www.journeyful.com

Journeyful.com, a New Online Hotel Search Engine and Travel Social Network, Launches in Singapore

Journeyful offers consumers a comprehensive online hotel search engine, best price guarantees and direct access to both hotel staff and other travelers via the integrated social network. For industry participants, Journeyful is a powerful and cost-effective distribution, marketing and social networking platform designed to increase direct bookings.

February 14, 2013

Journeyful, a new venture that is privately owned by hospitality and technology veterans, today announced that it has officially launched Journeyful.com, a revolutionary new online hotel search engine that is social by design.

Journeyful is designed to enhance the profitability of hotels while simultaneously improving a consumer’s online booking experience by combining an online hotel search platform with a built in social network.

"When it comes to travel, it’s all about access… and the difference boils down to who you know," explains Clara Lu, Journeyful’s Marketing Manager. "Every aspect of Journeyful is social by design. Hotels and travelers have direct access to one another before, during, and after a booking – giving consumers comfort that they are receiving not only the best possible price, but also the best information about what each destination has to offer."

Journeyful is a comprehensive platform that is being developed as a mission critical application for hotels. The platform will evolve to enable hotels to manage rates and inventory across all distribution channels, not just Journeyful.com, from a single utility.

"There’s too much old technology and way too many expensive middle-men in the hospitality industry," explains Moe Ibrahim, Journeyful’s CEO. "We started with a blank piece of paper and designed a platform that would enable hotels to win back their direct business. First, we had to rebuild the old plumbing that plagues the industry. Now, we’re moving on to some very exciting features and stand-alone applications."

Journeyful enables hotels to control the rates and inventory displayed on their own websites, on Journeyful.com, as well as the rates extended to travel agents. Soon, this technology will enable a hotel to manage all of its distribution channels, both online and offline.

"Since Journeyful is social by design, hotels will soon be able to customize rates for specific travelers and channels, targeted locations, and to each of its many distributors," describes Jezreel Tan, Journeyful’s Senior Sales Manager. "Journeyful’s best rate guarantee ensures a traveler never pays more than the prevailing retail rate, but that increased spending patterns, or certain social networking achievements, may qualify that traveler for special rewards and discounts."

Journeyful has a resident software development team that has designed and developed all aspects of the platform. The platform is built on proprietary technology such that hotels using Journeyful are not burdened with any additional third-party distribution costs. By enabling a hotel to increase direct bookings and reduce its third-party distribution and technology expenses, Journeyful aims to improve the typical hotel’s profitability by up to 15%. Hotels that contract with Journeyful can manage all aspects of their profile and rates through an advanced interface.

Travelers can choose to register on the site but an account is not necessary to complete a booking. However, travelers are encouraged to register for an account early and to add friends. Many upcoming features are designed such that customized rates and discounts will be linked to a user’s social activity.

About Journeyful

Journeyful is a travel-focused technology company. The Company has developed Journeyful.com, an online hotel search engine that offers consumers a comprehensive online hotel search engine with best price guarantees and direct access to both hotel staff and other travelers via the integrated social network. For hotels, Journeyful is a powerful and cost-effective distribution, marketing and social networking platform designed to increase direct bookings.

Media contacts:

Clara Lu
Journeyful Pte Ltd
+65 6750 2265
media@journeyful.com
website: http://www.journeyful.com

Smart travelers know that hotels are more than just beds. Hotels are about the people working there and the access they provide to the best local information. When it comes to travel, it’s who you know… and those in the know use Journeyful…

As is the case with any business, hotels compete against each other for customers.  A hotel will typically refer to its competitors as the Comp Set.  There are no hard and fast rules for determining who should be in your comp set, but it’s usually hotels that are located nearby to your hotel, have a similar star rating and provide similar amenities.  Typically, hotels within a destination, or a particular comp set within a destination, are friendly with each other.  They share information about their occupancy, rates, and even banquet dishes if a neighbor runs short.  By being cooperative with one another, each hotel within comp set knows its pricing itself appropriately so it can capture its natural market share.

Let’s look back at How Things Used to Be.  Previously, consumers would pick a destination and then search within a particular comp set to find a hotel at which to stay.  It was pretty straight forward.  Hotels would try and capture a larger percentage of their natural market share by providing great and personalized service or by offering better amenities than the competition.  These are both good things for consumers.

There are certain things hotels within a comp set did not do, namely, start a price war.  The reason is simple.  By lowering prices, a hotel within a comp set may temporarily win a bump in business, but as other hotels within a comp set learned of the lower prices, they too would follow suit and business would then re-distribute across everyone’s natural market share at lower prices.  This would hurt the profitability of the entire comp set, and lead hotels to cut corners.  This would result in poorer service and fewer amenities.  Obviously, these are both bad for consumers.

Decades of data have shown that demand is price inelastic.  Simply stated, lowering your price will not generate more business.  Wouldn’t every product on the planet simply just lower their pricing to generate more business?  It doesn’t work.

Although consumers want the best possible price, they want excellent service and great amenities more.  However, the situation has changed suddenly, and in a very negative way for hotels.

Online Travel Agencies, better known as OTAs, have learned that it’s actually quite easy to manipulate consumers by applying what is known as “share-shifting” tactics within a comp set.  When you visit an online travel agency website, the order in which you see hotels is not arbitrary, but rather, carefully orchestrated by the OTA.

First, hotels that pay the OTA the highest commission typically rank first.  The average OTA charges a hotel between 15-25% of the value of the booking.  That means an OTA can get up to 25 cents out of every dollar you spend on the booking.  Some hotels pay even higher to rank first.  The data has shown that hotels that rank first get booked more often, which is why they do it.

Next, hotels are encouraged to show discounted pricing on an OTA’s website.  The OTA again ranks hotels based on these discounts, thereby forcing a hotel to reluctantly lower its prices if a single member within its comp set has done so.

This tactic is known as share-shifting.  OTAs cycle business from one hotel to the next within a comp set by encouraging hotels to discount their pricing at different times.  This is why consumers sometimes see better pricing on an OTA versus a hotel’s own website.  Sadly, many hotels do not have these these discounting features to be able to do the same on their website.

It’s not that hotels want you to book on the OTA versus their own website, it’s that they have no choice.  Moreover, if the hotel drops off of the OTA, the OTA will simply steer business to other hotels within the comp set.  Hotels are trapped and in a very negative way.

So let’s do the math.  If a hotel typically sells its room at $100/night with more and more of its business moving to OTAs, which charge a 25% commission, a hotel’s real average room rate starts to drop closer to $75.  That’s a 25% drop in revenue.

Now imagine if a hotel had to drop its rate by $25 to compete with a member of its comp set.  This means the hotel would only keep 75% of the reduced $75 room rate.  This would drop a hotel’s real average room rate further to $56.  That’s a 44% drop in revenue!

What business can maintain service standards and quality being faced with a 44% drop in revenue?  Over time, the OTA model hurts hotels, and it hurts consumers.

We’ll discuss this topic in more depth in our next blog post.

Deloitte has just released a study detailing the steep decline in consumer loyalty to travel brands.  Only 8% of travelers stick to a hotel brand when traveling, and only 14% of travelers fly the same airline.  The study also showed that consumers aren’t that impressed by existing rewards programs, and social media has had virtually no impact on travel decisions.

So, what do consumers want?

First of all, consumers want to trust your brand. If a meta search engine or an online travel agency shows a rate cheaper than your hotel’s website, that trust is quickly eroded.  DO NOT use these sites to conduct promotions that aren’t available on your own website.  Why would you ever walk into an Apple store if you knew Apple products were always sold cheaper elsewhere?

Next, consumers want a personalized experience.  They want to connect with your brand by connecting with the people who represent your brand.  They also want to connect with others who have similar interests.

Flash deals and discount sites are not the answer - they only serve to commoditize your hotel.  Over time, the consumer will forget all about you.

To gain consumer loyalty, travel brands must focus on building long-term relationships.  You must use innovative approaches to communicate your unique product offerings.  Consumers want a personalize experience.  If used properly, social media can certainly help you to achieve this.

In the know…

In our last post, Everybody is Confused, a pretty messy diagram was presented to show the confusing state of the hotel distribution landscape.  We will use this diagram to explain the challenges that hotels face on a daily basis to fill their rooms.

Let’s start with how things used to be.  Booking a hotel room was pretty straight forward.  You would use a search engine to find the hotels in a particular destination, and then you would visit appealing websites and finally make a decision.  Some hotels would spend money on paid search and SEO to get to the top of the search rankings, but most depended on decent websites, good rates and of course, reputation, which in turn led to referrals.  Hotels would also accept bookings by phone, fax and email.

To market, a hotel used the traditional strategies of advertising in newspapers, magazines and it would use travel agents to bring in the corporate business or guests from places where it did not have a sales presence.

Accredited Travel Agents would access a hotel’s wholesale rates by using a Global Distribution System (GDS).  A GDS is a computerized reservation network (there’s only 4 major GDSes globally) that allow hotels and travel agencies to transact via a single platform.  At times, you could get a better rate by going via a travel agent.  Hotels were incentivized not to match these lower prices because it relied on travel agents to bring in business from those areas in which it had no sales presence.  The risk of the travel agent cannibalizing a hotel’s direct business was limited because a hotel didn’t typically depend on travel agents in its home market for business.

This model worked and good hotels prospered.  However, this model is now falling apart for many reasons and a lot of very good hotels are suffering.  In our next post, we’ll discuss how hotels are losing control.

When it comes to travel, everybody seems to be getting more confused with each passing day.  Just take one look at the industry and you’ll understand why:

The confusion is hurting both travelers and hotels.  Hotels are paying more in third party commissions than at any point in history, and travelers think they’re getting better deals because of all the discount websites out there - but they are not.  The industry is changing quickly and in some very negative ways for hotels.

This blog has two purposes.

The first purpose is education.  Today, the travel industry is rife with confusion, misinformation and bad decisions.  We will attempt to demystify the industry in language that is relevant for both hotels and travelers.

The second purpose is to provide realistic solutions.  There’s a lot of commentary out there that either points out problems without providing a solution, or that provides an ineffective, partial solution for a systemic problem.

Journeyful’s mission is to solve a systemic problem.  It’s in our DNA.  Journeyful unites travelers with the people working in the travel industry.  We are building:

  • The tools hotels can use to fill their beds cost effectively
  • A booking platform that travelers can trust for access to good rates, real people and real information; and
  • The tools travel agents can use to once again become relevant and profitable.

Journeyful is perfectly aligned with our users.  As our business grows, it means hotels are becoming more profitable and travelers are becoming more connected with those in the know.

Journeyful is a diverse mix of hoteliers and software developers.  We understand the problems that afflict the travel industry and we possess the skills and passion to fix them.

The blog is meant to be highly interactive.  Readers can comment on every post.  We look forward to your participation.

Journeyful has a sales office in Singapore and we’ll soon be opening up our headquarters in San Francisco, California.  To contact us, email us at info@journeyful.com or call our Singapore hotline at +65 6750 2265.