Luxury Travel, Lifestyle and Marketing Trends

Tactics to Drive Direct Bookings Vs. OTAs

hotel direct booking

With OTAs (Online Travel Agents) driving over 20 percent of total room bookings, taking commission fees ranging from 10-25 percent, what can a hotel do to drive direct bookings to its website? A survey of 2500 consumers by Software Advice, a source for hospitality system reviews, revealed perks hotels can offer to get direct bookings. Here are the  results of their findings:

Main Takeaways to Drive Direct Bookings

1. A free Room Upgrade
It is the top incentive that will convince customers to book directly. This can be as simple as a better view, balcony or kitchenette.

2. Free Meals Top the List of In-Room Perks
When asked which in-room perk would convince respondents to book directly, 43 percent said they could be swayed with a free room-service meal. Tied for second was an in-room massage and free access to the minibar and snacks (19 percent), followed by free movies on demand (16 percent).

3. Free Food and Drinks Also Outrank Other Amenities
When asked which on-site amenity would convince guests to use direct booking through a hotel website, a vast majority (55 percent) chose free food and drinks.

For many hotels, offering a free meal isn’t new. Incentives like this already exist, and many hotels likely understand their effectiveness. The second most convincing amenity was a free spa package, at 23 percent. Trailing behind are a free fitness class (11 percent) and free golf or tennis reservations (7 percent).

4. A Restaurant Gift Card Is the Most Popular Offsite Perk

45 percent of respondents said they would be convinced to book directly if they received a gift card to a popular restaurant as an incentive over other types of gift cards. Far behind are free tickets to a popular event and free transportation services.

You can read the full report here:

Next Step in Farm to Table

Round Hill Hotel & Villas, Jamaica photo:

Hotels That Farm: Round Hill Hotel & Villas, Jamaica

Fairmont Hotels has its rooftop beehives, more hotels and restaurants their herb and vegetable gardens and buy local, and spas their herb gardens to use in treatments. It’s all part of the rapidly growing farm-to-table movement you’ve read about. Consumers, too, are doing their thing with urban chicken farming, gardening and beekeeping  proliferating across the country. In fact, this has raised issues for municipalities who are relooking zoning. The consumer phenomenon is called the “hobby farmer”, you could say a logical next step in the farm-to-table movement that has fueled a growth in farmers’ markets, community sponsored agriculture and young people going back to the land. To reach out to the market segment of “foodies”, the passionate about farm to table, and would be young farmers, there’s an intriguing new website and magazine  — Modern Farmer. Out since April, it already has a global following in Europe and Australia. I can see why. There are highly original, fascinating articles not covered by any other publication. Former President Bill Clinton contributed an article about the work his foundation is doing with farmers globally, and his memories of helping on his uncle’s farm in Alabama. Categories include food, travel, plants and animals and culture among others. Other articles have included everything from Hotels that Farm and  Farmers’ Market Etiquette to the Boston Design Center getting a 55K square foot rooftop garden, and probably more than you’d ever want to know about goats (a “hot” menu item now….the new lamb?).

Reprinted from

Hotels Accelerate Innovation in F & B

Four Seasons Food Truck

Four Seasons Food Truck

kwe blog four seasons food truck 2

Over the years, first at my alma mater Hilton International and later
representing hotels and resorts, I frequently heard hotel GMs complain that
guests were bringing in pizza and fried chicken from the outside to their guest
rooms. This was particularly true in the off-season at resorts when the bargain
crowd moved in. Now, hotels have decided if you can’t fight them, join them.

As reported in the New York Times, the Amway Grand Plaza
hotel has created its own pizza delivery service .Convenient ‘grab-and-go’
restaurants with selections of sandwiches, salads and beverages  are
becoming more commonplace. The Westin Diplomat is one of several Westins that
created their own take on the concept with restaurants called ‘Ingredients, Some
Assembly Required’ in their lobbies. In some, but not all cases, these are in
addition to traditional room service offerings. For guests it’s a money/time
saving choice. For the hotels, it’s a way to capture some additional revenue
that would have otherwise gone elsewhere

With the high cost of running a food and beverage operation, hotels are looking
for more ways to capture revenue both in volume and by increasing the average
cover. In the luxury end, culinary experiences are increasingly more common which
offer the added benefit of reinforcing luxury branding. We’re also seeing
more hotels developing dedicated websites to highlight themselves as food
destinations. And, in one of the more exciting innovations, Four Seasons Hotels
has launched a food truck that is traveling to a number of its West Coast properties.

Renowned Chef Juan Mari Arzak Named Gastronomic Ambassador of Grand Velas Riviera Maya Resort

Grand Velas Riviera Maya named Juan Mari Arzak, one of the world’s most renowned chefs and a star of Spanish gastronomy, as “Gastronomic Ambassador” of the Riviera Maya resort.


What to get food lovers for Christmas?

AP foodie, JM Hirsch suggests what to get our culinary lovers for Christmas. From smaller indulgences, like hand crafted collection of intensely rich sweet treats from Dufflet Rosenberg, a Toronto pastry chef who has been earning accolades for more than 30 years; to some of Norman Love’s artistic chocolates or jars of Jamie Oliver’s artisanal Marvellous Mayo or jams.


The Food Court boom

A Food Court boom is upon us, and they’re going upscale, with some of the prestigious names getting in on the act. These initiatives, much like the retail shopping bazaar, help with bring in added income and boosts both room rates and occupancy. We think the appeal of food court dining is that it’s a product of the small plates and grazing trend – trying different foods at one seating – plus, it’s casual.


BYOF (Bring you own food)

Are you ready for the next food trend? First it was organic, then local. Now, a new culinary movement is sprouting: urban foraging. As expected, this trend has been hot among foodies in California and New York City for years.


Latest restaurant gardens – rooftops

Urban roofscapes continue to be hot real estate and there’s a lot happening in the city skies. First it was rooftop pools and bars (NYC’s Gansevoort, Madrid’s Urban), then rooftop beehives (Fortnum & Mason, Fairmont Royal York) and rooftop pop-up hotels (Hotel Everland at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo museum). So how is the the restaurant industry getting on board?


Culinary Travel meets Farming

We used to go to culinary school. Now we want to make the cheese, not just watch the process on TV. Farms schools are the next big thing in foodie vacations, burgeoning from the current farm-to-table trend.


Power now lies with middle class palates?

So suggested the New York Times in a recent article “Influence and Spending Power Now Lies with the Middle Class,” referring to the closing of upscale food magazine, Gourmet. It went on to imply that an interest in “food exploration” is dead, and although Gourmet is an iconic brand, it couldn’t make enough profit to stay in business. A business editor at the paper even suggested that everyone would resort to “eating Ketchup, mayonnaise from a jar and Velveeta cheese.”