News Briefs

  • 2/15/2024

    Arlo Hotel's Loyalty App Turns Social Media Influencers into Travel Agents

    Arlo Chicago Hotel Room

    Are influencers the next generation of travel agents? Arlo Hotels, an independent, experience-driven lifestyle hotel brand with properties in New York, Miami and Chicago, and Washington D.C. launching in 2024, is further innovating the hospitality industry with the launch of their If You Arlo app. The unique loyalty program ushers in a new era of travel where traditional travel agents are superseded by social media agents composed of influencers, friends & family, and content creators who creatively drive bookings while earning perks along the way. Through the If You Arlo (IYA) app, influencers can share insider discounts and tips with their followers while being rewarded with credits, status, and surprise rewards at any of the Arlo Hotels.

    [Related Content: @hotel describes itself as an OTA for Instagram and has found that social media is the perfect spot to find, attract and market to valuable leisure consumers.]

    According to a recent survey, 83% of millennials said they are more likely to book a hotel after seeing images from someone they follow on social media. Social media is the number one medium to influence travelers’ decisions. Arlo Hotels is carving its path to acknowledge and reward those who truly drive their guests’ decision-making process.

    “Social influencers are a new class of travel agents, but they have lacked the infrastructure to make it actionable - until now,” explains Jimmy Suh, chief commercial officer at Arlo Hotels. “Travel is tailor-made for socially driven commerce. Our aim with the If You Arlo app is to offer influencers an opportunity to capitalize on their passion for travel and Arlo Hotels. We recognize that many of our guests’ decisions stem from the folks they follow and trust, i.e. their social network. With the app, we can now understand who these folks are and reward them for it. We’re also very community-driven, and if we can offer our community a program to pay it forward by offering their friends and followers exclusive discounts, it’s a win-win.”

    Independent, lifestyle hotels are at a disadvantage compared to big chain hotel brands as they do not have the distribution reach. Further, independent hotels rely heavily on online travel agents (OTAs) for much of their distribution. OTA’s do not offer the consumers the insight of the unique stay experiences that many of the lifestyle hotels, such as Arlo Hotels, offer to their guests. Social media can level the playing field between independent hotels and big chain brands while offering more relevant information about the hotels. If You Arlo app capitalizes on both opportunities and along the way paves a unique path to a powerful new distribution channel.

  • 2/15/2024

    Smokey Bones Updates Loyalty Program

    Smokey Bones dining room 2024

    Smokey Bones, owned by FAT (Fresh. Authentic. Tasty.) Brands Inc. unveiled its new and improved Bones Club loyalty program. The revamped program offers guests an instant reward upon joining, exclusive ongoing deals and offers, the opportunity to earn valuable points to be redeemed towards future purchases, and special surprise and delight features. 

    After enrolling guests receive an instant $5 reward and 50 Bones Club points to use on a future visit, and they earn five points for every dollar spent. Points are redeemable for favorite food items, as well as get access to exclusive features, including drink specials, limited time offers, birthday treats, and other promos reserved. 

    “In a time where guests are placing increasing value on exceptional experiences, we're thrilled to introduce our refreshed Bones Club. The enhanced program is customizable and better in tune with our guests’ desires, allowing it to work harder for them – and thereby inspire true loyalty,” said Cole Robillard, Chief Marketing Officer at Smokey Bones. “The Bones Club is our way of recognizing our most engaged and important guests, providing exclusive offers and privileges designed to resonate with meat lovers and eating out enthusiasts alike, thus amplifying the impact of every dollar they spend at our restaurants.”

    Current Bones Club members will experience a seamless and automatic update to their program with no action for any additional steps. 


  • 2/15/2024

    Lighthouse Expands Into Distribution With Acquisition of Stardekk

    lighthouse and stardekk logos

    Lighthouse (formerly OTA Insight), a commercial platform for the travel & hospitality industry, announced the acquisition of Belgian-based Stardekk, a market leading provider of channel management and distribution software for the hospitality industry. This move represents another advancement in Lighthouse's commitment to empowering hospitality commercial teams with a single platform to drive revenue growth.

    The merger will create a unified technology platform, combining Lighthouse's data and artificial intelligence with Stardekk's distribution reach, offering hoteliers unprecedented dynamic channel optimization. The combined offering will streamline real-time decision-making in a rapidly evolving market, particularly benefiting independent hotels by providing advanced distribution tools and pricing insights to drive top line revenue growth.

    "We are delighted to welcome Stardekk to our team," said Sean Fitzpatrick, CEO of Lighthouse. "Their innovative solutions and team complement our mission to reimagine commercial strategy for the hospitality industry. Together, we will deliver unmatched value to independent hoteliers through the combination of better data, better automation, and dynamic distribution.”

    Focus on independent hotels

    While the Lighthouse platform serves travel and hospitality businesses of all sizes, from independents to the largest global chains, this acquisition specifically targets the underserved sector of independent hotels. “Our ideal customer profile for this solution is independent hoteliers who are time starved and overwhelmed managing disparate systems and data," added Fitzpatrick.

    Addressing market fragmentation

    The hotel industry has long been hampered by a fragmented approach to pricing, promotion, and distribution, often leaving independent hoteliers at a disadvantage with disjointed data and systems. Lighthouse aims to bridge these gaps, offering an intelligent channel management solution for independent hotels that combines dynamic pricing optimization and distribution decisions in a single platform, driving top-line revenue growth and profitability.

    Harnessing the power of AI and automation

    With a unique understanding of the challenges faced by independents in an increasingly complex distribution landscape, the combined forces of Lighthouse and Stardekk will deliver an industry-first solution. Independent hotels often lack the time, data, and budgets to compete with larger chains. This acquisition will combine the expertise of Lighthouse and Stardekk in their use of data, AI algorithms, and automation to offer hoteliers unprecedented capabilities to more effectively and efficiently optimize their commercial strategies.

    A shared vision for hoteliers 

    Vincent Goemaere, founder and CEO of Stardekk, commented, "Joining forces with Lighthouse marks a significant milestone in our journey. We've always been dedicated to empowering hoteliers with easy to use, powerful tools. This merger not only aligns with our vision but expands our joint capabilities, offering immense value to independent hoteliers who need to stay competitive in rapidly changing markets, by driving revenue and profitability. The potential we can unlock together is incredibly exciting."

    Together, Lighthouse and Stardekk are poised to redefine the distribution landscape for independent hoteliers worldwide, ushering in a new era of innovation, efficiency, and competitiveness. It's a move that promises to level the playing field in a rapidly changing market.

  • 2/14/2024

    Apaleo Sets ‘New Record’ for Tech Rollout

    apaleo logo
    Apaleo has set a new benchmark for tech adoption after moving all 7,500 rooms at operator citizenM's US and European operations to its property management platform in under two months.
    The Dutch-based hotel brand has just completed the switch at sites located in 18 cities around the world. All this happened in the space of just eight weeks, with the Apaleo team managing to roll out multiple properties per day.
    PMS migrations have traditionally been highly difficult to execute, but the teams at Apaleo and citizenM believe this will have been the fastest onboarding for any mid-sized hotel group to date, owing to modern, self-service architecture, plug-and-play onboarding, and scalable project management. 
    Together, citizenM and Apaleo, worked as partners on state-of-the-art program management that unlocked the ability to take multiple properties live simultaneously, following successful data migration from legacy systems and the complete change of the tech stack. The migration included every citizenM hotel in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Copenhagen, Geneva, Glasgow, London, Paris, Rome, Zurich, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Miami, Austin, Seattle and Washington DC. Significantly, all of the installations were remotely managed without going on site for any aspect of the implementation.
    Mike Rawson, CIO of citizenM, commented: “The migration was a hugely ambitious project, requiring very detailed planning for many hotels across the globe. Compared to any other PMS of similar size and scope, it was the quickest implementation ever witnessed in our industry. Our congratulations go to our fantastic citizenM team and to everyone at Apaleo, who have proven to be such valuable partners.”
    “Our decision to adopt an API-first platform is futureproofing our business and guaranteeing our ability to move with the times and create exactly the kind of guest experience we want for our guests. Beyond a mere PMS migration, our initiative embraces numerous components and leverages the Apaleo Store to enhance our service capabilities.”
    Philip von Ditfurth, Co-founder and Managing Director of Apaleo, added: “For years, citizenM has been associated with pushing the boundaries of what technology can achieve in hospitality, so it was only logical that we would eventually join forces. The team at citizenM are as passionate as we are about the transformational power of digitisation and personalisation. They want to stay ahead of the game with a digital guest journey that is unique and helps define them as a brand, and we’re going to help deliver that. This project was important because it also demonstrated to other operators labouring under the weight of legacy PMS systems that implementation time is no longer a reason to delay modernisation. It’s now a seamless process with no business interruption.”
  • 2/15/2024

    eDreams ODIGEO and Travelport Significantly Expand Strategic Technology Partnership

    Travelport Logo teaser version

    eDreams ODIGEO, a travel subscription platform, and Travelport, a global technology company that powers bookings for hundreds of thousands of travel suppliers worldwide, announced the expansion of their strategic technology partnership. 

    The agreement represents a significant milestone in the worldwide evolution and adoption of NDC  (New Distribution Capability) technology. Both parties are committed to co-developing the most advanced NDC platform in the marketplace, incorporating unique retail functionalities, a comprehensive suite of ancillaries, and unmatched post-booking features. Leading airlines are already actively engaged in NDC distribution. NDC enables airlines to deliver modern retailing, offering more competitive and flexible offers that benefit all consumers.

    As part of the expanded agreement, Travelport will continue to support eDreams ODIGEO’s leading travel retailing platform. This will enable access to a wide range of rich content, fares, and unique offerings that are set to improve the experience of the 20 million customers booking through the eDreams ODIGEO’s leading travel agency brands: eDreams, Opodo, GO Voyages, and Travellink. 

    Javier Bellido, Air Content Strategies Director at eDreams ODIGEO said: “We are thrilled to expand our strategic partnership with Travelport. Our collaboration has been instrumental in enhancing the travel retailing experience for the 20 million customers who choose our leading travel agency brands. As we embark on this new phase with expanded features, including New Distribution Capability (NDC) content, we are excited about the opportunities we have with Travelport ahead. We look forward to continuing to innovate alongside Travelport and deliver exceptional travel experiences to our global customer base.”

    Jason Toothman, Chief Commercial Officer – Agency at Travelport said: “The expansion of our partnership with eDreams ODIGEO is a testimony to the strength of our NDC roadmap and our industry-leading technology.  We’re honored to be selected as one of eDreams ODIGEO’s key partners after a robust comparison to other global technology providers. Having the confidence from one of the world’s leading online travel agencies (OTAs) is validation of our laser-focus on innovation and breadth of choice.”

  • 2/15/2024

    2024 Travel Loyalty Outlook Report Uncovers Changing Consumer Sentiment around Travel Priorities, Planning and Loyalty Programs

    Arrivia Travel Outlook Report

    Findings from arrivia's comprehensive new 2024 Travel Loyalty Outlook report include a clear intent by American consumers to travel more in 2024 and increased focus on value-seeking around travel planning and shifting expectations when it comes to utilizing travel loyalty program offerings. 

    In addition to changes in consumer sentiment around travel planning, the new report from arrivia, a travel technology company that provides travel loyalty, booking and marketing solutions to consumer-facing companies, also analyzes how loyalty program goals have shifted since a similar study of program professionals and American consumers was conducted in 2021.

    Based on findings from a September 2023 survey of more than 2,200 U.S. consumers about their 2024 travel plans and the role of travel rewards and loyalty programs, combined with a concurrent study of over 100 loyalty decision-makers about their program strategies and priorities for the upcoming year, the 2024 Travel Loyalty Outlook report compares differences between the 2021 and 2023 responses while highlighting current trends among brands that offer travel rewards programs and the consumers and members that use them.

    The full report builds upon The Pathway to Program Profits, a preview of the survey findings designed to assist loyalty program administrators during 2024 planning. It contains complete results and analysis of value to a wide range of travel brands, industry participants, suppliers, and loyalty professionals. Representatives from financial services institutions, airlines, membership-based organizations, hotels, resorts, cruise lines, and those seeking to add or improve travel rewards tied to other loyalty programs can benefit from report takeaways.

    "While 2024 is looking to be another banner year for leisure travel among American consumers, our report identifies both challenges and opportunities for brands when it comes to meeting changing traveler needs," says Jeff Zotara, arrivia Chief Marketing Officer. "Those travel brands and loyalty professionals that pay attention to what consumers are asking for in today's economic environment – including greater value and more options – and adjust loyalty strategy to address these needs will benefit from a distinct advantage in the months to come."

    The 2024 Traveler Perspective

    Consumers, including those who belong to loyalty programs, remain eager to travel, but value for money is their chief consideration, as inflation and high travel prices weigh on their decision-making processes.

    • "Price/value for money" was ranked #1 by consumers when asked about their top consideration when trip planning, with 37% of consumers saying that is their biggest priority.
    • 72% of consumers said the rising cost of travel is impacting their plans for this year or next – yet only 23% called out using their miles/loyalty points to defray the cost of the trip as a potential solution.
    • When booking a trip, loyalty members expressed frustration that prices are too high overall (44%), while 23% responded that they are never sure they are getting the right value.

    Both pricing and overall value proposition are driving forces when booking travel in 2024. Today's consumer is looking for a variety of ways to reduce travel costs, including redeeming points to lower the overall expense of their trip (46%), booking discounted travel through their program's booking portal (31%), and using their membership to secure discounts with travel providers (29%).

    The Evolving Goalposts for Loyalty Programs

    One of the most notable changes in loyalty program goals between the 2021 and 2023 surveys is the shift from member attraction and retention to profitability goals – including encouraging existing members to move up a tier, increasing total spending through the program, and introducing new rewards or redemption options.

    • The size of program membership has also increased since 2021, particularly in the one to nine million range, from 10% of companies polled to 21%. Consequently, rewards programs with fewer than 10,000 members have sharply declined, dropping from 30% to 11% in the past two years.
    • A larger proportion of 2023 respondents offer travel rewards (95% vs. 65%), and programs with direct travel booking capabilities on their platforms have significantly increased, soaring from 61% to 84%.
    • Many of these companies (84%) also plan to offer new travel rewards or benefits soon, up from 63%.
    • Meanwhile, challenges around introducing new redemption options have also grown (from 9% to 14%), as have maintaining appropriate customer service levels (21% to 26%).

    While overall program membership is thriving, especially among larger providers, survey results illustrate that demonstrating the value of rewards remains a struggle across industries, with one in five loyalty program providers citing this as a significant challenge in both report years.

    Connecting with Today's Consumer – Opportunities to Drive Engagement and Customer Lifetime Value

    Survey findings illustrate that brands aiming to increase engagement and profitability must focus on value. That means improving the variety of rewards available through their programs, making it easier for members to redeem them, and highlighting their discounted rates.

    • 43% of consumers want discounts on everyday purchases vs. 25% of businesses who think that's what their members value most.
    • 19% of providers think consumers value status perks, while the survey indicates the actual number is less than half on the consumer side.
    • 20% of brands say poor website user experience is what they think members find most frustrating about loyalty, while a small fraction (5%) of consumers cite this as their main frustration. By comparison, 21% of consumers are more frustrated by the difficult or complex processes of earning/redeeming miles.

    In addition to incorporating more reward options and reducing friction around reward redemption, strategies outlined in the report for bridging these disconnects, and others identified, include deeper discounts, offering more flexible loyalty currencies, more effective communications around discounts, travel rewards and booking capabilities, and catering to niche travel segments prime for expansion opportunity, including the cruise market.

    "Travel rewards have become a core component of many loyalty program offerings, largely due to their popularity and ability to drive revenue," added Zotara. "However, consumer demand is no longer enough to meet program goals given increased competition and options available; brands must provide greater value in more ways than before, including the ability to personalize the experience with more feature- and option-rich offerings on more flexible and responsive user-friendly platforms."

    Arrivia's 2024 Travel Loyalty Outlook report identifies opportunities for brands to boost revenue and conversions while deepening member relationships by addressing the importance of the value and utility of travel rewards – including the right selection of reward options combined with the right level of customer service.

    For more information about the report or to speak with Jeff Zotara, Chief Marketing Officer at arrivia, please get in touch with Vanessa Horwell at [email protected] or download the 2024 Travel Loyalty Outlook here.

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