Tag Archives: hospitality news

When It Comes To Collecting Taxes From Travelers, Not All Places Are Created Equal

When it comes to collecting taxes from travelers, not all places are created equal. At least that’s what a new study of the top 50 U.S. travel destinations reveals.

Top 10 U.S. destinations where travelers incur the lowest and highest total taxes in central city locations: 


1. Fort Lauderdale, FL

2.  Fort Myers, FL

3. West Palm Beach, FL

4. Detroit, MI

5. Portland, OR

6. Orange County, CA

7. San Diego, CA

8. Hartford, CT

9. Ontario, CA

10. Sacramento, CA


1. Chicago, IL

2. New York, NY

3. Seattle, WA

4. Boston, MA

5. Kansas City, MO

6. Minneapolis, MN

7. Cleveland, OH

8. Nashville, TN

9. Indianapolis, IN

10. Phoenix, AZ

Top five U.S. destinatons with the lowest and highest travel-related taxes in central city locations:


1. Orange County, CA

2. San Diego, CA

3. San Jose, CA

4. Burbank, CA

5. Ontario, CA


1. Portland, OR

2. Boston, MA

3. Minneapolis, MN

4. New York, NY

5. Chicago, IL

The full report is available to GBTA members at no cost; non-members can purchase it for $499 by contacting the GBTA Foundation:www.gbta.org/foundation

Hotelmine Goes Live

Hotelmine has announced that it has officially moved into the soft launch stage at www.hotelmine.com.

Hotels can Click Here to register their hotel or to learn more about how Hotelmine works by clicking Here.

See where the worlds largest “Direct Connect” online leisure travel site can take you!

Hilton Orlando takes hospitality honors

Hilton Orlando

The Hilton Orlando has kicked off the New Year in grand fashion, receiving two highly decorated hospitality industry honors. The Connie Award and the Satisfaction and Loyalty Tracking (SALT) award come from Hilton Worldwide and are a testament to the property’s exceptional dedication to customer service.

The “Connie” Award, named after Conrad Hilton, founder of Hilton Hotels Corporation, is awarded to “the best of the best” hotels within each brand in the Hilton family of brands. The second of the Hilton Worldwide honors, the SALT award, is selected exclusively by Hilton guests and recognizes the “best of the best” in overall service.

The Hilton Orlando is rated as a AAA Four Diamond hotel and currently is one of the top hotels in Orlando at  Hotelmine.

A Hotel’s Case for Direct Connect

If it costs the airlines billions to conduct business through OTAs and the GDS then what will it take for the hotel industry to re-think its current conventional distribution strategy?

The recent actions by American Airlines to move forward with their “direct connect” model has ushered in a new era of how products and services are marketed to travelers.

According to an article released by Fairlogix, “A Picture is Worth $7 Billion, The real story behind airline distribution, travel supply chain, and consumer value”, it costs the airlines roughly $7 billion annually to conduct business through their current indirect distribution channels such as Orbitz and Sabre.

To set the record straight “direct connect” is not a new phenomenon in fact Orbitz introduced its own version of direct connect in 2002 with none other than the same airline that they are now battling.

The technology known as “Supplier Link” was designed to lower costs and avoid Global Distribution Systems (GDS) fees but Orbitz eventually went on to become AA’s highest-cost OTA (Online Travel Agency) per booking.

The OTAs and the GDSs have made their sentiments against direct connect very clear: They want to control the airline’s product, pricing, distribution, and at the end of the day remain status quo.

Likewise the intentions stated by American Airlines, Air Canada, AirTran, and Southwest Airlines are equally as clear: They want to control their product and inventory and establish closer ties to their customers.

The hotel industry and the OTAs

While the OTAs and the GDSs continue to dig in their heels in this uphill battle with AA, let’s take a look at another market segment that is under their thumb, the hospitality industry, where especially the OTAs are blamed for commoditizing hotels, decimating rates, and training travelers to demand deep discounts.

According to a much discussed article released by Hospitality eBusiness Strategies titled “The Billion Dollar Leak – The Impact of the Merchant Model on US Hotel Profits” revenue leaked from hotels to the OTAs in the form of abnormally high commissions was estimated to reach $5.4 billion in 2010.

In addition to this leakage, which primarily represents leisure travel, hotels are paying millions in commissions to “other” third-parties for business that represents meetings and events that are held at their hotel.

In total, we estimate the hotel industry is currently in the same predicament as the airline industry and don’t appear to be moving toward a “direct connect” distribution model.

Why hasn’t the hotel industry developed a strategy to wean themselves off OTAs?

Due to the lack of demand from 2008 through 2010 most industry pundits would suggest that hotels were too busy playing catch up and desperate to capture revenue from any source that was available.

We certainly can’t blame the OTAs for the adoption of that strategy but because of this hotels lost any momentum and market share that they could generate on their own.

Over that same time period OTAs demanded and got new agreements that were against everything the hospitality industry stood for: last room availability, guaranteed best rates (only found on the OTAs websites), penalties for hotels that don’t use the OTA, thus tightening the noose.

What are some options for hotels moving forward?

In order for the hotel industry to take back some of the control that they relinquished over the past three years, they must adopt some if not all of the following initiatives:

  • Move beyond traditional search methods and engage prospective customers the very moment they start thinking about travel.
  • Reverse the trend and reward customers who book in advance and not necessarily at the last minute.
  • Maintain strict rate parity, a best rate guarantee, and in the future don’t give any distribution channel the ability to undersell your hotel.
  • Expand social media presence and promote special offerings that are only available to individuals who are following your hotel.
  • Make it a point to elevate current and prospective customer’s online experience before and after their stay at your hotel.
  • Look for and adopt emerging direct connect distribution channels like Hotelminethat allow customers to book direct with you and not through an indirect channel.

Tom Costello is the CEO, Partner & Co-Founder of Groups International, a company that provides marketing, consultative services, and technology solutions to the group and leisure travel markets.  Connect with him on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook or contact him by email.

Groups International Unveils Hotelmine.com

Monday, April 26, 2010 – HOUSTON, TX—Groups International has announced that they will launch Hotelmine.com, a new leisure travel site that directly connects hotels with customers in a unique transactional environment.

“What makes Hotelmine different is that our hotel partners share or create their own packages and promotions through the Hotelmine website and when our Members find something that suites their budget or tastes, they book directly with the hotel,” said Chris Wenz, Partner and Co-Founder of Groups International. 

“Unlike Online Travel Agents (OTAs) who charge a commission, booking fee or markup wholesale rates, we don’t,” Wenz added.  “We put our hotel partners in a position to pass along the savings to our Members.”

Joining Hotelmine is free for Members and they can choose from a variety of hotel promotions that include discounted room rates, “Hot Dates & Rates”, “Packages”, “Last Minute Deals”, and “Hotelmine Deals of the Week”.  Hotelmine also provides its’ Members with a free group events tool that facilitates the booking of 10 guest rooms or more.

Members can share any hotel promotion that is featured on the Hotelmine website with family and friends and interact with hotels on popular social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Pre-registration for Members and hotels opens May 17 and the Hotelmine.com website will officially launch into public beta on June 1st.

About Groups International

Based in Houston Texas, Groups International (http://www.groupsinternational.com) is the parent Company to iGroupManagement, iGroupHotels, iGroupMeetings, iGroupAdvisor, and Hotelmine.com.

If you would like additional information regarding any of the Groups International Companies and Hotelmine.com or you would like to schedule an interview with Chris Wenz, please contact him the following email address.


Chris Wenz

COO, Partner & Co-Founder