Days 2 and 3 at this year's ALIS conference were filled with numerous highlights, including a very well attended presentation (or should I say, political commentary) in the Nokia Theater by "the Donald" himself, Mr. Donald Trump. Days 2 and 3 were also filled with hundreds of meetings by conference attendees in nearly every hallway and corner of the hosts JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton.
While optimism continued to be the theme most often heard in the meetings I attended, the optimism was far from unbridled. With so many unknowns remaining in the world (e.g. European debt crises, continued high unemployment, the upcoming presidential election), nearly everyone recognized that the many signs pointing to an industry rebound could quickly change.
Room Key, a brand new player in the on-line hospitality market, launched in beta on January 11, 2012 to some excitement and some hard questions. Room Key is a joint venture among six U.S.-based hotel chains—Choice Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels*, InterContinental Hotels, Marriott International* and Wyndham Hotel Group—that allows users to search for available rooms at almost all of the chains’ global properties, or about 23,000 rooms total. More Kayak than Expedia, users search the Room Key site for inventory and are then redirected to the individual property (or chain’s) home site to complete booking. The idea is to drive traffic to the hotel websites and away from on-line travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Priceline, and Travelocity. And, of course, to provide a customized, personable hotel booking experience to the user--and who better to do that then a group of hoteliers--says CEO John Davis.
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Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.