Lodging Daily News

ATLANTA and ARMONK, N.Y.—Travelport, a travel commerce platform, this week announced it is expanding its longstanding partnership with IBM. Travelport has completed a proof of concept to streamline the validation, distribution, and settlement of hotel content between its own platform, travel agencies, and hotels through IBM Blockchain. Separately, Travelport is turning to the IBM Watson Data Platform to personalize customer experiences with new tools and traveler recommendations.

In the first of two programs, Travelport is using IBM Blockchain to streamline the hotel and in-trip experience ecosystem. The company says that choices in content, seamless booking, and the fulfillment experience is increasingly important to traveler satisfaction, and travelers are also looking for content to share on social media platforms. Through blockchain, travelers, agents, and hotels can see notable benefits around the management and increased availability of ‘long tail content’. Together, Travelport and IBM determined that by using blockchain, content could be managed to provide travel agencies confidence in the travel experience and ease of sale, while also enabling long-tail content suppliers to participate efficiently.

“One challenge facing our industry in the new digital world is that onboarding content from smaller suppliers can be costly and take time. We know unique experiences are what modern travelers are looking for. Using blockchain to access these experiences is a value-adding deployment of this new technology. With IBM, we’re removing barriers that limit travel choice. We’re putting the ability into the hands of the operator to upload bookings and work through contracts and administrative tasks within the blockchain network rather than manually managing and owning these tasks, which is normally the expensive part of transactions,” said Mike Croucher, Travelport’s chief architect.

“The benefit of blockchain in travel is that it provides the ability to put a smart contract across a distributed ledger. By implementing a smart contract, settling payments within the network and so forth, the technology significantly lowers the processing time, because it manages diverse ledgers across multiple companies in a way that takes manual processing and other processing out. The other benefit here is that you are also adding transparency to the system across all parties in the travel network,” said Elizabeth Pollock, industry client leader IBM Travel & Transportation.

In a second initiative, Travelport and IBM are working together to generate enhanced travel experiences by leveraging Travelport’s data. By applying IBM’s Watson Analytics Studio, Travelport will develop new services, such as highlighting the best time to buy or providing personalized offer recommendations based on previously combined travel data. These will enable travel agency subscribers to bring more value to the travellers they serve, while making it easier to access the vast range of travel supplier content Travelport offers.

NEW YORK—Condé Nast Traveler this week announced the winners of its 31st annual Readers’ Choice Awards, ranking the best hotels, resorts, cities, islands, airlines, airports, and cruise lines in the world. The Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running recognition of excellence in the travel industry. This year, the publication received a recording-breaking number of responses from nearly half a million readers who rated their travel experiences to provide a full snapshot of where and how guests travel today, including the 50 Best Hotels in the World.

The 2018 results are all about comfort. Readers stayed closer to home than ever before, pushing more cities like Chicago, Charleston, and Nashville to the top of the lists. They favored the Caribbean and domestic islands in the southeast, like Hilton Head, Amelia, and Kiawah. The properties that impressed them most were smaller and less flashy than in years past, and the publication’s small-cruise-ship list is longer than it’s ever been, suggesting that the right kind of less is more.

NEW YORK—Hospitality House (HH) has acquired Hicks Design Group, adding a Foodservice Planning and Design division to HH’s suite of services, which include food-and-beverage-focused pre-development consulting, real estate services, and talent procurement. Cody Hicks, the founder of Hicks Design Group, will join as managing partner of HH’s newly formed division.

“We are excited to become a part of this multifaceted organization that will provide us a platform to help grow our business,” said Cody Hicks. “We look forward to bringing our talents to center stage in the hospitality industry and working on world-class projects across the United States.”

Hicks Design Group has worked with Chefs Daniel Boulud, Todd English, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and Tom Colicchio as well as the Culinary Institute of America, Soho House, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Eataly, Google, and NBC Universal.

The creation of the Foodservice Design practice accompanies growth for the firm’s London office. Since opening an official outpost in 2016, Hospitality House EMEA has reported a 200 percent increase in revenue over nearly two years. This consistent expansion reflects the company’s pipeline of high-profile hotel, restaurant, and corporate projects.

“We strive to make food and beverage integration and activation as simple as possible for our clients,” said Hospitality House CEO Steven Kamali. “Adding an in-house foodservice design team was an organic next step for us. We anticipate growing their business by 400 percent by engaging in over 50 new projects in the coming year.”

PHOENIX–IBC Hospitality Technologies has completed integration between IBC’s proprietary software and mobile payment providers Amazon Pay and PayPal.

IBC, an OBASA Hospitality company, is a lodging B2B and B2C hospitality software and services providers globally. Its technology platform includes central-reservations system, booking engine, online revenue generation, patent-pending guest loyalty program, marketing services, a preferred partner network, and more.

“Recent integration to Amazon Pay and PayPal is giving travelers more choices in mobile payment methods. Through these programs and many more, IBC is continuing to drive value to its members,” said Pamela Barnhill, IBC founder and COO.

IBC also recently announced that it has been selected by MasterKey Alliance as the technology to power its association’s online B2B online marketplace. MasterKey will use IBC Hospitality Technologies to power its coalition of independently-owned and operated corporate housing, vacation rentals, serviced apartments, and independent hotels.

S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI) and RobecoSAM recently announced the results of the annual Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) review. The S&P Dow Jones Sustainability Index is a benchmark for corporate economic, environmental, and social performance.

IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) has been listed on the S&P Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for the second consecutive year. IHG achieved first place in RobecoSAM’s Hotels, Resorts & Cruise Lines industry group, with the highest score for the industry on its Corporate Sustainability Assessment.

“At IHG, our purpose is to provide true hospitality for everyone, and this is central to our long-standing commitment to operating our business responsibly in all aspects of our work,” said Yasmin Diamond, executive vice president of global corporate affairs at IHG. “As the gold standard for sustainability performance, we are very proud to be listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices for the second year running. This serves as recognition for the hard work and dedication of our people, owners and partners around the world.”

In RobecoSAM’s Industry Leader Report, IHG scored highly in areas relating to environmental criteria, human rights, and risk and crisis management.

ROCKVILLE, Md.—Choice Hotels International has announced it will match Choice Privileges member donations to the American Red Cross. Members can donate loyalty points that convert to cash. Choice Hotels will match up to 20 million points contributed by members in support of disaster relief and recovery efforts through the end of this year.

Choice Hotels is a member of the Red Cross Disaster Responder Program, which ensures American Red Cross is prepared to respond to disasters and meet the needs of those affected anytime and anywhere across the United States.

Each year, the American Red Cross responds to nearly 64,000 disasters around the country, providing food, shelter, and comfort to people affected by disasters during their greatest time of need. In 2017, Choice Privileges members donated to disaster relief, together raising a combined total of nearly $400,000, in addition to providing 1,000 comfort kits and blankets.

“Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by Hurricane Florence, and we are committed to assisting our franchisees and their guests, as well as supporting local recovery efforts,” said Patrick Pacious, president and chief executive officer, Choice Hotels. “Hospitality extends beyond hotels and into the communities where we live and work, which is why Choice is dedicated to ensuring those in need are cared for during disasters.”