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September 2007

Gift Certificate Liability

Dear innkeepers:

We have learned that a Phoenix innkeeper was approached by a potential guest who had allegedly purchased a BedandBreakfast.com Gift Card with a stolen credit card. We wanted to clarify a few points in this regard:

To protect against just this sort of thing, ALL of our cards and certificates are protected by a seven-day rule. In other words, they can’t be used until seven days after they are activated, regardless of where they were purchased or whether they are cards or certificates. This rule has been in effect for several years, but we have updated the copy on our site so that it’s clear that the rule applies equally to cards and certificates.

If someone does buy a gift card from a retailer with a stolen credit card and waits the seven days to use it, the innkeeper will get paid regardless, as long as the card numbers are active and valid in our system.

BedandBreakfast.com or the retailer (not the innkeeper) assumes liability if/when cards/certificates are purchased fraudulently.

When taking any reservation (with or without a gift card), get a credit card (including the security number) and check to be sure the credit card is valid.
At the time of reservation or at check-in, request the order and certificate numbers for the card/certificate and check their validity by logging into your home base. At check-in, remember that you can always ask to see a photo ID to ensure that the credit card is in the hands of its proper owner.

Don’t hesitate to call us for assistance if something “doesn’t seem right.” If not during regular business hours, our call center staff is on duty 24/7 and will be able to assist you.

Gift cards are a 25 billion dollar business which inevitably attracts a tiny percentage of dishonest people. B&Bs are least likely to be affected; if someone is using a stolen credit card, he or she wants salable merchandise like TVs and jewelry. Staying in a B&B where one can be easily identified is an unlikely choice. We have been selling gift certificates and cards since 1999, and such occurrences are extremely rare.

Overall, we remain confident that the substantial industry benefit of introducing consumers to the pleasures of the B&B experience by offering gift cards in over 20,000 retail stores far outweighs the miniscule risk of their being used by disreputable people.

Please contact us directly with your concerns, so that we may address them and continue to improve the quality of our products and services and our support of the B&B industry.

Thank you for your business.

Eric Goldreyer
President and CEO
BedandBreakfast.com
1-800-GO-B-AND-B
Support@BedandBreakfast.com 

Travel Trends

Travel e-commerce climbs 14%: comScore recently released a report on U.S. e-commerce spending for the second quarter of 2007, which showed that “non-travel (retail) e-commerce grew 23 percent versus year ago to $27.2 billion, while online travel spending increased 14% to $20.3 billion. Total U.S. e-commerce spending climbed 19% to $47.5 billion during the period.

“Total U.S. online consumer spending reached $170.8 billion in 2006, with non-travel spending accounting for $102.1 billion and travel spending accounting for $68.8 billion. Based on the first-half growth rates, total U.S. online consumer spending is on track to reach $200 billion in 2007.”

Kayak launches new hotel display: “Kayak.com launched a new display for flights and hotels after testing more than 300 mocks for Travel 2.0 functionality. The result is Kayak 2.0, approved by several focus groups and loyal Kayakers. Kayakers can now compare hotel results in the following ways:

  • Traditional List View displays more hotels above the fold than any other travel site. A checkbox has been added to include or hide hotel thumbnails.
  • Map View integrates search results on a Google Map. Users can compare a hotel’s distance from a landmark or enter a custom location such as the address of a friend’s home or business meeting. Kayak.com will then display up to 15 hotels near the selected landmark or address. Hover over a pushpin to see a hotel’s price and star rating, or click on the pushpin to see full details. Users can also check the satellite image to see exactly how close they really are to the beach or airport, or to a custom address.
  • Photo View offers slideshows of properties using Ajax navigation, allowing for quick scrolls through hotel pictures for those who won’t buy sight unseen.”


The USA TODAY travel team picks 25 changes that transformed the way we travel. Here are a few that are relevant to inns. Read the entire list here.

  • Online booking: PC Travel’s nationwide debut in 1994 helped jump-start the growth of online booking sites such as Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz and dozens of others. This year, Internet sales will represent more than half of all travel bookings.
  • Boutique hotel chains: In 1983, Bill Kimpton opened his second San Francisco hotel, effectively launching the USA’s first boutique lodging group. Kimpton Hotels jump-started the move toward high style, personalized service and individual design in small- to medium-size urban lodgings.
  • Yield management: Yield management — dirty words to travelers who discover that their seatmate paid half as much as they did — was developed in the mid-1980s by American Airlines and now is used universally by airlines, hotels and rental car companies. It allows them to adjust prices in real time based on various factors affecting demand.
  • Westin's Heavenly Bed: Westin Hotels scored an overnight sensation in 1999 when it introduced the pillow-top mattress shrouded in three high-thread-count cotton sheets and topped with a down blanket, duvet, comforter and five goose-feather pillows. Other major lodging chains soon beefed up their own boudoirs.
  • Trip Advisor: Tens of millions of consumers got to voice their views on where to stay and what to do after TripAdvisor created its Internet forum in 2000. The website set the standard for user reviews of hotels, restaurants and attractions.


European online travel market three years behind the U.S.: “According to a new report from PhoCusWright Inc., the European travel market is following in the footsteps of the online U.S. travel market, though with a few important differences. The report, PhoCusWright’s European Online Travel Overview Third Edition, provides an in-depth look at the fragmented European travel market, including market size, forecasts, and analysis for the European market as a whole, as well for the U.K., French, German, Italian and Spanish online and total travel markets.

"According to the report, European online leisure/unmanaged business travel as a percentage of the total travel market will approach 25% in 2007, the level achieved in the U.S. in 2004. The report also finds that cultural, technological, strategic, and fiscal forces have shaped the online markets of each of the five largest European countries. This new set of studies delves into the drivers and the likely effects of these forces. For example, in the U.K., where Internet access is ubiquitous and online purchasing routine, more than twice as many online buyers and regular Internet users buy travel than in Germany."

Reviews and travel in the UK: New research by EyeforTravel has revealed that User Generated Content (UGC) now plays a remarkable role in the UK young professional’s online travel buying cycle, with 72% saying that consumer reviews have influenced their travel choice. UGC is having a significant impact on their decision-making process when it comes to travel; 15.3% state they always use UGC for travel, and a lower 12% for non-travel products such as music. 63.8% occasionally use UGC in their buying cycle, so that’s a sizeable 79.1% who have used consumer reviews for travel before.”

“UGC is proving to be a very powerful conversion tool as consumers are looking for reassurance to shift from the research to the purchase stage of the buying cycle. UGC is being used after the search is narrowed and therefore later in the research cycle. 29.7% of UK young professionals say consumer reviews are very influential when booking travel online, and 50.3% say they has a certain level of influence. Only 20% do not find them useful at all. TripAdvisor is by far the favourite UGC site and also up there as one of the most popular travel sites in general.

"What do people actually look for in consumer reviews? EyeforTravel revealed that most people look for positive reviews rather than negative ones and state that this is clearly where their focus is. Following this, people are looking for detail, particularly information that is not available in official reviews. They are looking for honesty, mixed reviews, a good balance of positive and negative comments from which they make their own judgment, rather than take it exactly for what it is. They look for quantity, suggesting sites with low volumes of UCG won’t be taken seriously. They want true insight, experience and knowledge, and they value consumer ratings.”
 
Chain hotels try to be hip and unique: “Over the past three years, boutique hotels’ per-room revenue growth in the U.S. has averaged about 11% annually, about one-third above the industry average, says Smith Travel Research of Hendersonville, TN. That helps explain why some big chains are scrambling to develop their own distinctive styles. Marriott International recently inked a deal with boutique hotel pioneer Ian Schrager to develop 100 hip new properties. Hyatt and Intercontinental are rolling out boutique-style chains, too. Starwood, which already runs the boutique-inspired W chain, is launching others.”
 
Hotel rate growth booms outside North America: “Year-over-year hotel rates have increased by double-digit percentages worldwide with the exception of North America, according to the latest data available from Smith Travel Research and The Bench. The sharpest rate increase has been in the Middle East/Africa region, which saw the average daily rate increase by 13.6% to $142.67 in July, compared with the same period in 2006. Revenue per available room was up 20.7% for the region. The Middle East and Africa also was the only region with a significant increase in occupancy, which was up 6.2%. Europe remains the most expensive region for hotels, with average daily rates for July up 12.5% to $154.52. Year-over-year occupancy was nearly flat, and the region’s RevPAR increased by 12.8%. In the Americas, the average daily rate increased by 5.5 percent to $104.93.”
 

This Month's Sponsor

      

Internet Intensives

BedandBreakfast.com, RezOvation and Inns.com are hitting the road to bring you current and comprehensive information about Internet marketing, online reservations, yield management, and property management software.

Click here to see upcoming Intensives and more information.
 

Updated Photography

Fall foliage season is almost here, and travelers are booking their accommodations. Are you displaying  foliage photos on your BedandBreakfast.com listing? If not, upload some today! Log in to your Home Base and click Photos.

It's not too early to upload winter and holiday photos! The larger the image file, the better.
 

Gift Card Reseller Program

"I was thrilled when I heard about the program. As far as guests are concerned, it's much nicer for them to buy something they can use everywhere!" -- Julie Becker, Byrn-Roberts Inn, Murfreesboro, TN

“The gift cards are simple to activate. It was so fast, I couldn't believe it!” -- Merrie Hammond, Asa Cline House B&B, Yellow Spring, WV
            

The BedandBreakfast.com Gift Card Reseller Program is here! Click here for details. If you'd like to receive a free reseller kit, contact us at 800-462-2632 or Support@BedandBreakfast.com.

Online Trade Show

Visit our newest vendor members!
Inn Consulting Partners

Absolute Coffees
Markel Insurance Company

Click here to view our Online Trade Show. Are you a vendor? Click here to get featured!

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Member Information

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"BedandBreakfast.com has been our #1 B&B directory referrer for the past few years. I really enjoy the service they provide and the extras that they do for B&Bs like the Online Reservations program and the Gift Certificate program. The Gift Certificates have been really popular with our guests." Jennifer Macgillonie, The English Inn, Port Townsend, WA

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