What would the hotel industry be without chain hotels? Can you imagine a world without online travel agencies like Expedia? Or what about a world without Airbnb? A few exceptional individuals made contributions to the lodging industry which revolutionized not only our industry, but the world. Thanks to the ideas, leadership, and drive of the 7 titans of the hotel industry, we can travel better today. In this article, we’ll introduce you to seven of the most important figures in the hotel business: Conrad Hilton, J. Willard Marriott, Isadore Sharp, Jay Pritzker, Barry Sternlicht, Brian Chesky, and Rich Barton. You’ll learn about their backgrounds, their career paths, the companies they founded, and how they fit into the evolution of the hotel industry. And you might find the inspiration you need to bring your ideas to life or to start your own company! The Early Days of the Hotel Industry The concept of a hotel is hardly a new one; boarding houses, inns, caravanserais, and other early lodging types have been in existence for thousands of years. These simple accommodations offered travelers a place to sleep, a hot meal, and stables for their horses. Early “hotels” were family-run and often located in the same building where the family lived. As travel became more common, starting in the 1400s, a few European countries mandated that hotels document their guests. These new laws signaled the beginning of the hotel industry - hoteliers were now running legitimate businesses in the eyes of the local governments. By the 1700s, every city had at least several hotels operating in the center of town to meet the demand for overnight stays. Many hotels became attractions in their own right, like the Le Grand Hôtel Paris and Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, which were famous for beautiful architecture and glamorous clientele. The Hotel Industry Boom in the United States Until the mid-1900s, nearly all hotels were independently owned and operated. There was also a clear distinction between the stylish, cosmopolitan hotels in city centers and the simple roadside motels in rural areas. Two entrepreneurs on opposite sides of the country saw opportunities to bring a high standard of service to the hotel industry and created the eponymous names that we all know today: Conrad Hilton and J. Willard Marriott. Conrad Hilton entered the hotel industry somewhat accidentally when his plan to purchase a bank fell through; instead, he ended up buying the Mobley Hotel in Cisco, Texas in 1919. Seeing that he could run a hotel successfully, Hilton scouted out promising hotel deals and continued growing his portfolio over the next few decades. Landmark hotels like New York City’s Waldorf-Astoria and the Plaza Hotel became Hilton properties, and the company acquired the Statler Hotel Company in what was the largest real estate transaction of its time. Hilton is not only credited with building a global hotel empire, but also with popularizing the star rating system and combining hotels, restaurants, and casinos. Like Hilton, J. Willard Marriott didn’t plan on becoming a hotel magnate. He got his start in the hospitality business by running A&W Root Beer shops in the Washington, D.C. area, and built a sizable restaurant and foodservice business. When it came time for his next venture, Marriott opened a motel in Arlington, Virginia with great results. Marriott became known for his hands-on leadership style and perfectionist mindset, and as the Marriott company grew, he continued to stay in the middle of the action. In fact, he never retired from Marriott, even after his son Bill took over as CEO. Under their leadership, Marriott became the largest hotel company in the world with over 30 brands under its umbrella. In addition to Hilton and Marriott, numerous hotel brands popped up in the mid-20th century, like Holiday Inn and Motel 6. These brands could offer quality and consistency to travelers who didn’t want to risk a sub-par experience at an independent property. Remember, back then, there was no Tripadvisor, so brands offered an appealing solution. The Rise of Hotel Brands Speaking of brands, Marriott and Hilton are only two of the great hotel brands that shaped the industry. While Hilton and Marriott were building their companies, another entrepreneur saw an opportunity to create a new type of hotel: Jay Pritzker. Already an established businessman, Pritzker was on a business trip to Los Angeles in 1957 when he noticed a lack of high-quality hotels located near airports. He didn’t think travelers should have to choose between nice downtown hotels and seedy airport motels, so he launched the Hyatt brand, which focused on upscale hotels near airports. Hyatt Hotels eventually branched out to urban hotels, notably when the company launched the Hyatt Regency brand, which is known for its signature atrium design. But Pritzker wasn’t the only one to realize that architecture can be an asset to a hotel brand; as a trained builder, Isadore Sharp knew architecture would always be a pillar of his Four Seasons hotel brand. He opened the first Four Seasons hotel in Toronto in 1961, and guests appreciated the innovative courtyard design that allowed them some relief from city sights and noise. Sharp grew the Four Seasons brand to become a globally known icon of service and luxury, and the company now manages over 100 hotels in cities like Paris and far-flung destinations like Bora Bora. Sharp wasn’t alone in grabbing an opportunity to appeal to affluent travelers. Barry Sternlicht, the founder of Starwood Capital and Starwood Hotels and Resorts, also noticed a gap in the luxury hotel market when he launched the W brand in 1998. In contrast to the pretentious, stuffy luxury hotels that were the norm, W hotels offered a playful, youthful version of luxury. The W brand is considered the first “lifestyle” hotel brand, a trend which is still popular today. Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ portfolio also included brands like Westin and Sheraton, and in 2016 Marriott purchased Starwood and formed the largest hotel company in the world. Lodging in the Digital Age By the 1990s, hotels had taken over the world. You could book a Marriott or Four Seasons on six continents and dozens of countries. But how would you actually make that booking? Most travelers relied on travel agents to secure reservations, or you could call the 1-800 number for a chain line Hilton or Hyatt. That all changed when Rich Barton, a product manager at Microsoft, came up with the idea for Expedia in 1994. He saw how the power of the internet could put travel booking into the travelers hands - he just had to create a platform to house all the data. By the time Expedia went public in 1999, it was far from the only digital booking platform, or online travel agency. Competitors like Booking.com, Priceline, Orbitz, and Travelocity gave consumers access to good rates and information about hotels around the globe. The popularity of brick-and-mortar travel agencies declined as online travel agencies took off. Two decades later, the OTA space is dominated by two big players who now own the majority of brands: Expedia Group and Booking Holdings. But Expedia and Booking.com aren’t the only sites where you can book a place to stay. In fact, hotels are no longer your only option. Just as Uber disrupted the taxi industry, Airbnb offers a new type of accommodation for travelers seeing local experiences or apartment-style short-term rentals. Founded by Brian Chesky in 2009, Airbnb has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Chesky and his two roommates had the idea to rent out a few air mattresses in their apartment during a busy conference in San Francisco, and a few years later their company became a Silicon Valley “unicorn” with a valuation over $1B. Airbnb has grown to over six million listings and is planning an IPO in late 2020. What can we expect for the future of the hotel industry? The industry’s pioneers are probably already hard at work building something that will further change how we travel and experience hospitality. -- Brian Chesky illustration by mikenudelman.com
Hotel Revenue Management Software Articles
There’s no question that the coronavirus has deeply impacted the tourism industry. As the pandemic continues to evolve, however, what’s difficult to discern is the breadth and depth of its impact in both the short and long term. We’re still facing the repercussions of intermittent lockdowns, border closings, and economic stress, but these 50 statistics show the initial and ongoing impact of coronavirus on the tourism industry. We’ve broken these data points out into the following areas: Global Impact: 2020 and Beyond Air Travel and Transportation Hotels and Accommodation Food and Beverage Tours and Attractions Business Travel The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on global travel is not black and white. Some tourism business' like smaller California wine country hotels and hotels adjacent to national parks have achieved record numbers despite a near complete shutdown of inbound tourism and international travel. Domestic tourism has been far from safe in the global pandemic with economic development initiatives supporting hotels, tour operators and other travel companies support their workers via aid programs like America's PPP (paycheck protection program). Global tourism will rebound from this the same way it did from the 9/11 terrorist attacks but experts uninanimously agree that it will take longer. The hotel industry has been devastated by low levels of international visitors as tourism demand dropped to all time lows with tourism destinations even turning potential travelers away. Read on for some of the most remarkable numbers showing the widespread impact of COVID-19. Global Impact: 2020 and Beyond The tourism industry worldwide is impacted by coronavirus – so much so that global GDP is expected to shrink dramatically and unemployment to skyrocket. Here are a few stats that show how tourism worldwide has been decimated. 1. Global revenue for travel and tourism is estimated to decrease by 34.7% to an estimated $447.4 billion. The original 2020 forecast was $712 billion in revenue. 2. European tourism is expected to take the biggest hit from COVID-19: revenue for the travel and tourism industry in Europe will decrease from $211.97 billion in 2019 to roughly $124 billion in 2020. 3. The tourism industry lost 1.5% of global gross domestic product after four months of being shut down, reported the UN Conference on Trade and Development. 4. If international tourism remains shut down over 12 months, the UN predicts a loss of 4.2% global GDP ($3.3 trillion). 5. The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that 121 million of the 330 million jobs tied to tourism around the world will be lost in 2020. 6. Tourism is going to take a while to recover, says McKinsey. The consulting firm predicts that international tourist arrivals will decrease 60 - 80% in 2020, and tourism spending is not likely to return to pre-crisis levels until 2024. 7. Not only are consumers traveling less, but they’re also dining out less. Statista reports that the “year-over-year decline of seated diners in restaurants worldwide was a staggering 41.36% on August 23, 2020.” Tourism in the US In the US, the economic effects of a slowdown in tourism are expected to be on par with many so-called “developing countries.” In addition, the impact of a decline in tourism will have wide-reaching effects on many other parts of the economy. 8. The travel industry says it accounts for 15.8 million American jobs—that’s employment for one in every 10 Americans. That means the economic impact of coronavirus could have a major impact on the US unemployment rate. 9. Some reports predicted that the loss in travel-related jobs caused the U.S. unemployment rate to double from 3.5% in February to 7.1% in March/April. 10. Based on current trends, experts predict that the United States will lose far more than any other country in dollar terms and nearly double that of China. (Source) 11. In April, when many states encouraged or mandated that residents stay home, tourist arrivals in Hawaii fell 99.5%. Tourism accounts for 21% of Hawaii’s economy. 12. Florida also faced a drop in tourism, with their tourism sector declining 10.7% in the first quarter of 2020. The state reports that tourism has an economic impact of $67 billion on Florida's economy 13. On April 11, 2020, only 3% of hotels in Austin, Texas were occupied: 342 rooms were booked, compared to 10,777 in 2019. 14. Statista predicts a drop in spending of $355 billion in 2020 in the US, a decrease of 31%. Air Travel Consumers are not interested in boarding an airplane anytime soon, due partially to border closures as well as safety concerns and high ticket prices. Air travel is predicted to be depressed for a long time. 15. Travel restrictions at borders impacted air travel and other forms of transportation. There were four categories of restrictions impacting a total of 217 destinations: 16. 45% of destinations (97 countries) implemented total or partial border closures; 17. 30% of destinations (65 countries) suspended flights totally or partially; 18. 18% of destinations (39 countries) enforced border closures aimed at a specific group of destinations; 19. 7% of destinations (16 countries) required visitors to quarantine or implemented similar measures. (Source) 20. Data from Flightradar24 showed that the average number of commercial flights per day fell from 100,000+ in January and February 2020 to around 78,500 in March and 29,400 in April. 21. Despite many governments providing aid to the airline industry, passenger revenue is estimated to drop by $314 billion in 2020 — a 55% decrease from 2019, according to the International Air Transport Association. 22. As of May 4, 2020, international flights had decreased by 80% as compared to 2019. Many airports were closed and flights banned due to border closings. 23. IATA, the International Air Transport Association, reported in June, 2020 that coronavirus would account for a net loss of $84.3 billion for all airlines, worse than the $30 billion loss in 2008. Income is projected to remain negative through 2021. (Source) 24. IATA also predicts that plane ticket prices will increase, especially if airlines are mandated to comply with social distancing measures. Ticket prices may rise by as much as 50%, according to Alexandre de Juniac, the head of IATA. 25. One company tracking ticket prices during the height of COVID-19 found that fares through April 13 and May 4 rose 13.7% and 10.9% year over year, respectively. Hotels & Accomodations Sector Travelers are unlikely to feel comfortable staying at hotels in the near future, meaning low-occupancy rates will impact the hospitality industry for years to come. 26. Since mid-February, hotels in the US have lost more than $46 billion in room revenue, according to the AHLA. The industry expert expects hotels to lose up to $400 million in room revenue per day based on current occupancy rates and revenue trends. 27. In the US, AHLA found that individual hotels and major operators are projecting occupancies below 20%. For many occupancies, a rate of 35% or lower makes it impossible to stay open – and many accommodations are closing altogether. (Source) 28. McKinsey predicts that COVID-19 is likely to accelerate the shift to digital. Travelers will be looking for flexibility and be willing to make last-minute bookings as the situation evolves. Case-in-point: more than 90% of recent trips in China were booked within seven days of the trip itself. 29. The consulting firm also ran a few different scenarios to see how hotel RevPAR would be impacted: 30. In the worst-case scenario, RevPAR will be down 20% by 2023. 31. RevPAR of luxury rooms is the slowest to recover due to their higher variable and semi-fixed costs. (Source) 32. A July 2020 Ipsos survey found that 51% of Americans are willing to stay at a hotel, the same percentage as the month before. Attitudes toward frequenting hotels seem to be improving or staying the same. 33. US travelers have certain expectations of the tourism industry. The Tourism Crisis Management Initiative at the University of Florida found that airports, accomodations, and attractions must take the following initiatives to communicate safety protocols: (Source) 34. Airbnb is not faring any better than traditional accommodation options. The platform, which relies on hosts, have seen 64% of guests cancelling or planning to cancel their bookings since the pandemic began. In addition: 35. 47% of hosts don't feel safe renting to guests 36. 70% of guests are fearful to stay at an Airbnb 37. Hosts anticipate a 44% decrease in revenue for June through August 38. Daily rates have dropped as much as $90 (on average). 39. Hyatt reported a $236 million second-quarter loss, a 376% drop in income since the same quarter in 2019. RevPAR was down nearly 90%. Food & Beverage Many restaurants and bars all over the world have had to close due to coronavirus and social distancing measures. 40. In the US, full-service restaurant reservations dropped starting in March – visits were down by 41% across the country. (Source) 41. The scheduling tool Homebase reported that the number of hours worked at local restaurants and bars dropped 40% by March 17, while the number of hourly workers overall declined 45%. 42. Restaurant workers have been hit hard by the pandemic. The National Restaurant Association reports that two out of three restaurant employees have lost their jobs. 43. Industry advocacy group James Beard Foundation found that restaurants, on average, laid off 91% of their hourly workforce and 70% of salaried employees due to COVID-19 and closures resulting from the pandemic. 44. The National Restaurant Association expects that the dining industry will lose up to $240 billion by the end of 2020. 45. What will it take for restaurants to reopen? A lot, according to the James Beard Foundation. Restaurant owners report that these are the biggest obstacles to reopening again successfully: 41% say the slow return of customers, 35% say they need cash to pay vendors, 16% would need to rehire staff, 3% would need to retrain staff, 2% are worried about health inspections. 46. In-person dining may be off limits, but in one survey, 33% of consumers said they’re getting more takeout than before the pandemic. Tours & Attractions Historic sites, theme parks, cruises and museums were shut down for the majority of this year. Here’s how the tour and attraction sector fared during COVID-19. 47. UNESCO reported on International Museum Day that nearly 90% of cultural institutions had to close their doors during the pandemic; almost 13% may never reopen. 48. The New York Metropolitan Opera had to cancel its season by the end of March, and expects to lose $60 million in revenue. 49. Safari bookings, according to one survey, are down by 75% or more, jeopardizing the tourism industry in countries that need internationla visitors badly to support their economy. (Source) 51. The CDC issued a no-sail order for cruise ships, finding in their study that 80% of ships within U.S. jurisdiction had cases of COVID-19 on board during March - July. 52. Mastercard recorded a 45% drop in travel-related transactions as compared to the same period last year. The credit card company looked at cross-border transaction volume processed in three months ending June 30. 53. In March, 77% of members of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), an organization for travel agencies, predicted they would be out of business in six months or less. 54. The Walt Disney Co. lost nearly $5 billion in April, May and June, due to its theme parks being closed: Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, plus the brand’s resorts and cruise operations Business Travel 55. The pandemic has deeply impacted business travel: this sector is predicted to lose $810.7 billion in revenue this year. 56. China is expected to see the biggest loss in business travel from COVID-19, where spending is expected to decrease by a total of $404.1 billion. 57. Experts are predicting that 5 - 10% of business travel will be permanently lost, due in part to remote working tools that enable virtual meetings. 58. Business travel declined 89% as a result of COVID-19, more than the Great Recession and 9/11 losses combined. PwC reports that almost half of all businesses canceled corporate travel during this pandemic. (Source)
Percent occupancy is a key concept and KPI used in real estate businesses as a that shows how much available space there is in a building relative to space that is leased or rented. Simple, right? Wrong. Occupancy rate has a ton of nuance and is massively important to real estate businesses so the broader concept requires a fundamental understanding of what occupancy says about a property, how to compare it to other businesses and how it ties to other metrics like length of stay, RevPAR, ADR, NOI (net operating income) and cash flows. In this article we'll dive into hotels occupancy rate but the concepts we cover are very similar across other real estate businesses like apartments, vacation rental units, retail and office buildings. Occupancy is one of the most important metrics for revenue management teams to track. Many travelers have been shocked to see that despite up to 90% drops in occupancy due to the coronavirus pandemic, rates haven't fallen nearly as much. In this article we'll start to explore why that might be and more. If you’re new to the hotel industry or looking for a refresher on some common metrics, you may be wondering: what is an occupancy rate? Why is occupancy rate important to hotels? In this article, we’ll explain exactly what the occupancy rate represents, how to calculate it, and why it’s a crucial part of measuring hotel performance. By the end of the article, you’ll be able to calculate occupancy rates (and RevPAR!) and think about the ideal occupancy rate for your hotel. What is the Definition of Occupancy Rate? (+Formula) In the hotel industry, the occupancy rate represents the share of occupied rooms during a certain time period. Occupancy Rate is usually expressed as a percentage. Occupancy Rate (%) = Number of Booked Rooms / Total Number of Rooms Let’s look at an example: If Hotel A has 83 rooms, and 70 of them are booked tonight, then tonight’s occupancy rate is 84%. Hotel A’s Occupancy Rate = 70 / 83 = 0.84337, or 83% You can calculate occupancy rate for any time period by dividing the total number of booked rooms in that period by the total number of available rooms in that period. If some rooms at your hotel are out of order (for maintenance, renovation, etc.), it’s customary to subtract those rooms from the “total number of rooms” to maintain a more favorable occupancy rate. Fun fact: In the airline industry, the “occupancy rate” of an airplane is called “load factor.” What is a Good Occupancy Rate for Hotels? If you think about a good occupancy rate for hotels, the logical answer is 100%. Of course, you would think every hotelier wants their hotel to be completely full every night. But a 100% occupancy rate may in fact not be the most profitable way to run your hotel. For many hotels, an ideal occupancy rate is between 70% and 95% - though the sweet spot depends on the number of rooms, location, type of hotel, target guests, and more. If you’ve booked every room, you might have left money on the table by not selling higher rates, and your costs can increase when every room is booked. The ideal occupancy rate for your hotel is one that allows you to maximize revenues and minimize costs. Luxury hotels will also want to deliver exceptional service to every guest, a task which becomes more difficult as the number of guests rises. For example, if your hotel is selling out every day - with reservations booked well in advance - there’s probably an opportunity to increase your rates. Of course, you’ll likely have a few sold-out nights here and there, like during holiday periods or special events, but if your hotel has 100% occupancy every night, then there is enough demand to support a rate increase. Besides the revenue component, a 100% occupancy rate can mean an increase in costs. If you have 95 rooms, for example, and each housekeeper can clean 10 rooms per day, it may be in your best interest to book up to 90 rooms each night so you don’t need to hire an additional housekeeper. Or perhaps a guest isn’t happy with their room; with a full house, you would have no alternate room to offer the guest, so you might need to offer a discount or another type of service recovery. How Do Hotels Increase Occupancy Rate? Many hotels, however, don’t struggle with a 100% occupancy rate every night. Many hotels actively try to increase occupancy, since a high occupancy rate comes with many benefits - compared to a low occupancy rate, that is. When your hotel has higher occupancy, you have more guests in-house, which means potential for higher revenues at your F&B outlets, spa, shops, or other outlets, plus a greater opportunity to spread awareness of your brand and build guest loyalty. In order to increase your occupancy rate, your hotel needs to book more reservations and room nights. A hotel can increase the number of reservations - and therefore, occupancy - through several tactics: Selling lower rates (especially through promotions and discounts) Offering incentives for longer stays Running marketing campaigns Partnering with online travel agencies (OTAs) and travel agents Targeting specific types of guests who stay longer Discouraging cancellations by selling non-refundable rates If your hotel is trying to increase occupancy but still not hitting the 90% range, remember that globally, the average occupancy rates for hotels range from 65% to 80%. Why Do Hotels Track Occupancy Rate? Occupancy is a great benchmark to assess a hotel’s position against its competitors and its own historical data. Knowing how your hotel is doing compared to other hotels in the market and previous years can help you set rates, predict stay patterns, schedule staff, and plan renovations or maintenance. If you know a certain weekend will have high occupancy, based on your historical data, then you can schedule enough staff and not plan a renovation over those dates. Hotel owners and operators often set occupancy rate, ADR, and RevPAR goals, so occupancy rate is a major component in measuring the hotel’s overall performance. Occupancy rates can therefore impact future capital expenditures, employee salaries and bonuses and brand relationships. Occupancy rates vary dramatically by market segment based on number of units or chainscale and even for different types of hotel rooms within the same hotel. What is the Relationship Between Occupancy Rate and RevPAR? RevPAR, or Revenue Per Available Room, is a metric that takes into account both occupancy rate and ADR (Average Daily Rate). RevPAR is like a weighted version of ADR; it distributes the ADR equally across all available rooms - not just the booked ones. Like occupancy rate itself, RevPAR is used as a performance metric to determine how a hotel is performing. RevPAR is expressed in currency units, just like ADR. RevPAR is calculated by multiplying ADR by the occupancy rate. ADR is simply the average room rate booked for a given date or time period. RevPAR = ADR x Occupancy Rate Let’s say Hotel A’s ADR was $98 on the night when occupancy was 84%. Hotel A’s RevPAR is then $82.32. Hotel A’s RevPAR = $98 x 0.84 = $82.32 Overall, occupancy rate is a key indicator of a hotel’s historical, real-time, and future performance. Many stakeholders - from owners to housekeeping staff - use occupancy rate to shape their decisions. Did we miss any tips or tricks related to occupancy rate? Let us know!
There are few things that no traveler should leave home without: a passport, a few essentials, and a phone equipped with the best apps to help you make the most out of your trip. Whether you’re looking for the best dim-sum in a new city or trying to find your way from the airport to a business meeting, these apps are critical to traveling in style and ease. The following 100 apps can help you navigate a new transportation system, meet fellow travelers, translate a menu, and everything in between. This guide breaks down the most essential apps into five key categories: Apps for meeting people Apps for learning about the local area Apps for finding bars and restaurants Apps for translation and learning a language Apps for getting around Apps for Hotels and Accommodation Read on for the most essential apps for traveling in 2020. Apps for Meeting People Sometime in the 90s the concept of pen pals went from cute to creepy. In our hyper connected world it's hard to meet honest people online at a distance which can lead to loneliness when travelling solo. Adventuring with people from other parts of the world is still totally doable and arguably easier than ever with apps that let you connect with locals in real-time. AirBnB famously launched its experiences platform to do just that without doing more than pulling out your smartphone. Here are a few apps that connect travelers and locals through eating, touring, hosting, and more. 1. EatWith: Share a meal with a local. EatWith offers a way to meet people through food. From cooking classes to home-cooked meals hosted in people’s homes, EatWith is connecting travelers while showcasing the culinary delights of a destination. Get EatWith for iOS and Android. 2. Backpackr: Meet like-minded travelers all over the globe. Backpackr is a social networking app for travelers that operates kind of like one big group chat. You can find people or social events using hashtags, checking out different channels, or posting a question in the Common Room. Get Backpackr for iOS and Android. 3. Tinder: Yes, it’s more than just a hookup site – Tinder is a great way to meet people while traveling! Tinder is infamous as a dating app, but it’s also a good way to meet people in a new city. Just specify in your bio what you’re looking for and the app does the heavy lifting to find people near you. 4. Couchsurfing: Find a local host and stay for cheap. The Couchsurfing app connects travelers with people who have free space in their house and are willing to let you stay. Couchsurfing has grown to be a large community, and even if you prefer to stay in a hotel, there are plenty of free events to try. Get Couchsurfing for iOS and Android. 5. Meetup: RSVP to events all over the world. Meetup is an events hosting platform that helps you find social events where you can meet like-minded people. Explore groups and make new friends based on shared hobbies or professional networking events. Get Meetup for iOS and Android. 6. Withlocals: Private tours and more hosted the local experts. Withlocals offers an easy way to meet someone from the area and have a private tour customized to your preferences. The app designs experiences that take you off the beaten path and show you an insider’s view of the city. Get Withlocals for iOS and Android. 7. Showaround: Learn about a destination on a local tour. Showaround is very similar to Withlocals. Browse listings of people in the area who will charge a small fee to show you their favorite side of the city. Get Showaround for iOS and Android. 8. FlipTheTrip: Search for a travel companion by destination. FlipTheTrip reconsiders how to connect with locals and other travelers: instead of waiting to arrive to meet people, search for fellow travelers and locals ahead of time so you can meet people as soon as you land. Learn more on their website. 9. SoloTraveller: Traveling alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. SoloTraveller connects people traveling on their own to share a meal, meet up for an event, or just head out to explore the city. For business travelers constantly on the road, this can be a good way to connect with others during your downtime. Get SoloTraveller for iOS and Android. 10. BonAppetour: Similar to EatWith, this app connects travelers over a shared food experience. BonAppetour can help you meet others over one of the best parts of traveling – the food! Find a friend around a shared culinary event, such as a dinner party, cooking class, barbeque, or picnic. Get BonAppeTour for iOS. 11. Travello: An app for all types of travelers to connect. Travello is a social network built for all different types of travelers: digital nomads, backpackers, solo travelers, and even locals seeking to connect with people from all over. Travel deals that pop-up in the app further incentivize users to stay active. Get Travello for iOS and Android. 12. Tourlina: A social travel app built for women. Tourlina is an app for women travelers who want to meet others – but might feel concerned for their safety. Members can enter their trip information, including the destination and dates, and find other women who are traveling at the same time. Get Tourlina for iOS and Android. 13. Patook: Strictly friends-only swiping. Patook is a social network that may look a whole lot like a dating app – but it’s strictly platonic. Login to find friends near you without the risk of getting creepy DMs or sending mixed messages while traveling. Get Patook for iOS and Android. 14. Bumble BFF: Expand your social circle with a new feature of this popular dating app. BumbleBFF makes it easy to meet people in your area by capturing the platform’s technology to connect friends, not dates. Swipe based on what you’re looking for: a workout friend, travel buddy, or sports team, for instance. Bumble also has a business feature if you’re looking to network professionally while you travel. Get Bumble for iOS and Android. Local Area Information Apps These apps help you get around, find cultural attractions, and learn local customs fast. 15. XE Currency Converter: The gold standard in currency conversion. The XE Currency Converter app offers live currency rates, which you can save for even when you’re offline. All figures are mid-market rates that you can use to compare with exchange places nearby to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Get XE Currency Converter for iOS and Android. 16. GlobeTips: Tip appropriately in 200+ countries. The GlobeTips app is simple but crucial. Figure out what tip you should leave based on a local culture and traditions. Not only that, it will also help you split a check, round up the calculation results, and exclude sales tax for you. Get GlobeTips for iOS. 17. Google Maps: One app that does almost everything. Google Maps is absolutely essential for visiting a new city. Not only will it give you directions (including walking, driving, public transportation, ride-hailing services and more), but it will also tell you how crowded the subway might be, peak hours at a museum, help you make restaurant reservations, let you save your favorite spots, and write reviews for other travelers. Get the Google Maps app for iOS and Android. 18. Culture Trip: Search for nearby attractions, shopping, hidden gems, and more. The Culture Trip app curates collections of attractions, restaurants, and more for destinations all over the world. Whether you’re looking for a list of the best workspaces in Budapest or a guide to ordering sushi in Osaka, this app has everything you need to navigate like a pro. Get the Culture Trip app for iOS and Android. 19. Triposo: 50,000 destinations in your pocket. Triposo’s app delivers downloadable city guides and offline maps so you can explore a city without data or Wifi. Use the app to research what to see and do, read about the city’s history, review safety tips, and check the current weather forecast. Get Triposo for iOS and Android. 20. Smart Traveler: A safety app for US travelers. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that you can never be too prepared. Smart Traveler is an app by the US State Department that tells you safety information for wherever you are going: what visas and vaccines you will need, as well as where the local embassy or consulate is located. Get Smart Traveler for iOS and Android. 21. AllTrails: Get maps for over 100,000 hiking trails. The AllTrails app takes exploration to a new level. The app shows bike, hike, ride and running trails that you can filter by length, rating, and difficulty. It will even tell you if a trail is dog or kid-friendly. Get AllTrails for iOS and Android. 22. Flush: Find your nearest public bathroom and avoid emergencies. The Flush Toilet Finder app is great for when you’re exploring a new city and need to find your nearest public restroom. When you’re traveling with kids or planning a full day out, this app can come in handy. Get Flush for iOS and Android. 23. Citymapper: Live mass transit information. The Citymapper app can route you through the fastest way to get from point A to point B using public transportation, with routes updated live throughout the day. Find the fastest, easiest way to get around major cities in the U.S., Canada, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Latin America. Get Citymapper for iOS and Android. 24. Dayuse: Use a hotel’s amenities for the day. The Dayuse app shows you hotels that offer rooms to use by the day. Book for a short layover or book a room and make use of the hotel's pool, spa, gym or sauna during your abbreviated stay. Rooms are marked down by as much as 75% for a one to 10 hour stay. Get the Dayuse app for iOS and Android. 25. Rick Steves Audio Europe: Listen to audio tours of Europe’s most historic sites. These apps offer a digital library of Rick Steves’ extensive walking tours. This history expert will tell you all about Europe’s popular attractions and include his recommendations for where to eat and what to see off the beaten path. Get Rick Steves Audio Europe for iOS and Android. 26. Viator: Find tours and day trips with this app. Some destinations aren’t intuitive, which is where Viator can help. Explore a new city on a day trip or tour – Viator recommends all kinds of experiences, from kayaking trips to week-long treks. Read traveller reviews before you book so you know what you’re getting. Get Viator for iOS and Android. 27. RunGo: Sightsee and get fit at the same time. The RunGo app lets runners share their favorite routes for others to follow. It’s a great way to explore a new city while getting your heart rate up. It also tracks your run stats, like heart rate, elevation change, pace, and more. Get RunGo for iOS and Android. 28. Nearify: Find local events and shows nearby. The Nearify all lets you browse what’s going on around you: concerts, comedy shows, drinking experiences, open mic nights and more. Browse what’s happening to learn more about a city, or head to your nearest event to meet other people. Get Nearify for Android and iOS. 29. Musement: Book tickets to attractions in 350 destinations worldwide. Musement is your guide to neighborhoods, restaurants, local attractions and more in 350 destinations and 25 of the world’s biggest cities. Use the Musement app to book tickets to museums and big attractions and skip the line when you get there. Get Musement for Android and iOS. 30. Spotted by Locals: Know what to see based on recommendations from locals. Spotted by Locals is curated attractions suggested by those who know the city best: the residents who live nearby. Use the app to browse city guides made up of insider tips by locals in 81 cities. Get Spotted by Locals for Android and iOS. 31. Bike Citizens: Explore the city on your own two wheels. The Bike Citizens app, like RunGo, is a way for bikers to explore the city with different routes mapped out. Select the fastest route from A to B, or the most scenic route, depending on your travel plans. The app will highlight points of interest along the way: restaurants, ATMs, museums, and more, using voice guidance to keep you safe. Get Bike Citizens for iOS and Android. 32. Lonely Planet: Reliable travel advice from the experts. Lonely Planet offers guides to more than 38 cities, complete with vetted recommendations and advice for getting around. Recommendations are easy to filter and backed by Lonely Planet’s expertise. Get Lonely Planet for iOS and Android. Translation Apps Travelling before the iPhone was a pain in the you know what. Figuring out how much to pay, where to go and even where to stay was insanely difficult. Layer on top of that the challenge of not being able to ask for help without a private translator in many regions. Translating apps like Duolingo have made travelers and locals more fluent in each others languages with dozens of other super cool mobile apps filling in everything else to make sure nothing gets lost in translation. These translation apps can help you navigate a new city, read a menu, speak to a stranger, and start learning a new language while on-the-go. 33. iTranslate: One of the top-rated translation apps in the world. iTranslate has more than 350,000 ratings on iTunes and Google Play, many of which give this translation app four stars and up. The free, basic app offers a phrasebook with predefined, useful phrases in more than 100 languages. Get iTranslate for iOS or Android. 34. Google Translate: Free, flexible, and full of cool features. The Google Translate app offers 108 languages (59 with offline access). There are lots of variations for how you can translate through the app: draw text or characters, type, scan a page, or speak into the app for instant translation. Get Google Translate for iOS and Android. 35. TripLingo: Pick up phrases that make you sound like a local. TripLingo goes beyond simple translation to offer a phrase book, tips on local customs, a wifi dialer, culture notes, travel tools, and more. The app’s voice translator instantly translates your voice into another language; it will also translate a response back into English. Get TripLingo for iOS or Android. 36. SayHi: Translate your voice into 90 languages. SayHi is a translation app owned by Amazon that aims to make having a conversation in another language as straightforward as possible. The simple interface makes it easy to record your voice in one language, and play it back in another. It also includes dialects if you’re traveling far afield. Get it for iOS and Android. 37. Papago: An app that specializes in translating Asian languages. Papago is especially useful for trips to Asia, as it is able to translate between English and Korean, Japanese, Chinese (simplified/traditional), Indonesian, Vietnamese and Thai, as well as Russian, German, Italian and Spanish. Translations are available for voice and text. Get it for iOS and Android. 38. Microsoft Translator: A great translation app for business travelers. Microsoft’s Translator app is well equipped for business meetings, as it can translate multi-person conversations with as many as 100 people at a time speaking in different languages. A split-screen feature allows you to read a phrase that someone sitting across from you has spoken aloud. Get the Microsoft Translator app for iOS or Android. 39. Waygo: Translate to and from English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. The Waygo app specializes in translating between just four languages, but it is able to do so entirely offline – a huge help if you’re traveling without data. It’s an award-winning app that also uses minimal disk space to translate from menus, signs, and more. Get the Waygo app for iOS and Android. 40. iTranslate Voice: An Editor’s Choice app that translates audio into more than 40 languages. iTranslate Voice gets rave reviews for being easy to use. The app, like SayHi, records your voice in one language and plays it back in another. You can also connect two devices for an easy back-and-forth conversation with someone in another language. Get the iTranslate Voice app for iOS. 41. Speak and Translate: A paid app that gives you access to less common languages. The Speak and Translate app offers access to a ton of different languages – 117 languages for text and 54 languages for voice. It’s only available for Apple devices, but as a result will sync across your devices and save your translation history no matter what you’re using. Get it for iOS. 42. SpanishDict Translator: Spanish to English (and back) with grammar tips included. SpanishDict Translator is, as the name suggests, an app that translates between English and Spanish. It also offers grammatical rules and best practices, helping users know when to use ser v. estar, for instance. It can also conjugate some verbs and find the right idiom for you. Get the SpanishDict Translator app for iOS and Android. 43. Arabic Dictionary and Translator: A combination dictionary/translator app that provides a range of English/Arabic tools. The Arabic Dictionary and Translator app is a great hybrid learning and instant translation tool. The translation feature uses Google, Microsoft, Yandex Translate, Baidu Translate, and others to suggest how to say a phrase. The dictionary feature looks up certain words, lets you save them for the future, create flashcards, and make headway in learning Arabic. Get the Arabic Dictionary and Translator app for iOS and Android 44. Pleco: A handy app for translating Mandarin and Cantonese. Pleco specializes in translating Mandarin and Cantonese. Look up unknown Chinese words using your device’s camera, or tap-lookup words in a still image. The app will also read handwriting and can translate audio recordings. Get the Pleco app for iOS and Android. 45. Duolingo: Learn a language while on-the-go. Duolingo is a crowd-favorite for learning and practicing a language. Exercises are designed for speakers of all levels, from total beginners to advanced learners. It also offers lessons in some more niche languages, like Norwegian, Swahili, and Klingon. Get the Duolingo app for iOS and Android. 46. Babbel: An app that gamifies learning a language. Babbel’s free version offers 40 classes featuring native speakers saying words to help you say the words properly. Take lessons in 13 different languages by going through exercises designed to help you learn a phrase – and remember it. Get the Babbel app for iOS and Android. 47. Busuu: Learn a language with help from a social network of native speakers. Busuu is an app that adds a community component to the experience of learning a language. Travelers can connect with native speakers listed on the app to get feedback on their pronunciation, grammar, and more. Get Busuu for iOS and Android. 48. Memrise: Visual learners will love this app’s UX. Memrise is a great way to learn a language for travelers who are visual learners. Videos, images, and memes show language learners how to speak conversationally in14+ different languages. There are also courses in history, art, science, trivia, and more. Get the Memrise app for iOS and Android. 49. MosaLingua: “Flashcards on steroids.” MosaLingua offers different language learning apps for each language, including Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Russian. Their approach is designed to activate both audio and visual memory. Browse MosaLingua apps for Android and iOS. 50. (How to) Pronounce: Learn how to pronounce foreign words like a pro. (How to) Pronounce is an app that does exactly what it sounds like: tells you how to pronounce words in a different language. If you’re trying to order at a restaurant, and can’t speak the language, simply type in the words you want to say and hear them spoken back to you. Get (How to) Pronounce for iOS. 51. Drops: Habit-building to help you learn a language. The Drops app gives you five minutes of learning a language everyday. These short lessons are meant to help you focus and develop a language habit over time. Word games are available in over 40 languages. Get the Drops app for iOS and Android. 52. Pimsleur: Tested and proven over decades of teaching. If you want a really deep dive into learning a language, Pimsleur is a great app to try. The Pimsleur method of learning a language has been around since the 1960s. There are tons of online courses in addition to the app; the app simply asks that users commit 30 minutes a day to listening to audio and practicing on-the-go. Get Pimsleur for iOS and Android. Apps for Finding Food & Beverage One of the best parts of travel? Experiencing the culture through an amazing meal or once-in-a-lifetime night out at a bar. Here are some ways to find that perfect dish or cocktail. 53. OpenRice: Yelp, for Asia. The OpenRice app has been called “the Yelp of Asia.” It offers restaurant listings with ratings, menus, booking numbers, and more in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines. Get OpenRice for Android and iOS. 54. TheFork: Restaurant reservations at your fingertips. TheFork makes restaurant recommendations in 4,000 cities within 11 countries, mostly in Europe. The app’s popularity comes through its discounts: sometimes up to 50% off your meal just for making a reservation through TheFork. Get TheFork for iOS and Android. 55. Happy Cow: Vegan and vegetarian eating made easy. For those with dietary restrictions, the Happy Cow is a godsend app. The app lists over 100,000 restaurants in nearly 200 countries to find vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free offerings. There are reviews as well as recipes using local ingredients. Get Happy Cow for iOS and Android. 56. TripAdvisor: Harness the power of the crowd. TripAdvisor is a reliably good source of recommendations from fellow travelers. The app covers more than restaurants – hotels, attractions, tours, and more are all rated – but restaurant reviews often include up-to-date menus, hours, and more. Get TripAdvisor for iOS and Android. 57. Yelp: Use the dollar sign ratings to stick to your budget. Like TripAdvisor, Yelp is for more than restaurant recommendations. Travelers can use this app to scan restaurants based on budget, location, cuisine, and area. Get Yelp for iOS and Android. 58. Zomato: Yelp alternative outside the U.S. Zomato is a very popular restaurant review platform outside of the US. Reviewers make an extra effort to include photos of menus and dishes. Zomato sometimes partners with delivery services, so if you’re hanging out at the hotel, you can get takeaway or delivery. Get Zomato for iOS and Android. 59. Eatigo: Search restaurants in themed categories Eatigo offers restaurant listings in Thailand, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Sort by categories like “Date Night,” “Hotel Buffets,” “Sushi Mania,” or “Wine Bars.” Take advantage of timed discounts to find a meal that fits your budget. Get Eatigo for iOS and Android. 60. Seafood Watch: Vet the sustainability of your seafood. For those traveling in the US, check if a restaurant is ocean-friendly with Seafood Watch. You can search for a particular type of seafood, view sushi listing, and learn more about sustainable seafood. Get Seafood Watch for iOS and Android. 61. LocalEats: No chains allowed. Support local while you travel with LocalEats’ list of best restaurants owned by residents of the city. You can filter by cuisine, price, and use GPS to find one near you while supporting the local economy. Get LocalEats for iOS and Android. 62. Drizly: Alcohol delivery to your accommodation. Drizly offers alcohol delivery throughout the US. If you’re at the perfect restaurant – but it’s BYOB – Drizly can drop off some wine. Or, if you’re lounging at the pool and the hotel doesn’t have a bar, just tap Drizly and have all the ingredients you need sent over. Get Drizly for iOS and Android. 63. Chefs Feed: Dining recommendations from professional chefs ChefsFeed asks for professional chefs, like Marcus Samuelsson and Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi to curate their favorite dining destinations in popular cities. Find out where to eat the very best meals all over the US, as well as what dishes to order. Get ChefsFeed for iOS and Android. 64. OpenTable: Reservations only. OpenTable is for booking restaurant reservations with ease. Choose the size of your party, a date, and a time and see what’s available nearby or at your favorite restaurant. Get OpenTable for iOS and Android. 65. Untappd: A home for beer lovers. Untappd lets you log the bars and breweries you’ve visited and rate beers you drink so that when you get home, you can find that perfect craft beer at your local bottle store. Get Untappd for iOS and Android. 66. DrinkAdvisor: Tripadvisor for party animals. DrinkAdvisor offers peer reviews for local bars and clubs, helping travelers figure out where to spend a night out by searching by criteria like “wine bar” or “dance floor.” Create wishlists and see cocktail recipes to start the night out right. Get DrinkAdvisor for Android. 67. Zagat: The gold standard in restaurant reviews Zagat is one of the biggest names in the restaurant review biz. Its app is continually updated with reviews of more than 30,000 restaurants around the world. Reviews are reliable and come from trusted experts. Get the Zagat app for iOS and Android. 68. The Infatuation: Most innovative restaurant finder app. The Infatuation is newer to the scene than Zagat or even Yelp but it's taken the restaurant industry by storm. The app is by far one of the most intuitive and reliable but does offer less coverage than its competitors as it's more focused on creating content and proprietary rankings. If you're in a major city like New York or Los Angeles, look no further than the Infatuation. Get The Infatuation app for iOS and Android. 69. The Happiest Hour: Find food and drink special in Aus and New Zealand The Happiest Hour works across New Zealand and Australia to find you food and drink specials while you travel. Get The Happiest Hour for iOS. Transportation Apps Get around by plane, train, and automobile with these handy transportation apps. 70. Hopper: Great deals on flights. Hopper finds the best deals on flights (and hotels). Put in flight route and the app will tell you when to expect a price drop or spike to help you get the best deal possible. The app claims to predict prices with 95% accuracy up to one year in advance. Get Hopper on iOS and Android. 71. LoungeBuddy: Get access to airport lounges without a first-class ticket. LoungeBuddy offers a way to find and pay for time in an airport lounge without flying premium. Put in your credit card information and find the rates and availability of lounges nearby. The app will alert you if there are free lounges and also let you pay through their system. Get LoungeBuddy for iOS. 72. AirHelp: Compensation for delayed or cancelled flights. US and EU laws provide compensation in some instances when flights are delayed or canceled – but the process is complicated. That’s where the AirHelp app comes in. Enter your flight information and details about the problem, and the company takes care of the rest. Get AirHelp for iOS and Android. 73. Skyscanner: Search millions of flights from over 1,200 sources Budget-conscious travelers will love Skyscanner – find cheap flights with one of the most powerful search tools out there. See the cheapest days or months to fly to your destination and get notifications if the price changes. Get Skyscanner for iOS and Android. 74. TripIt: Organize your travel plans in one place. TripIt puts your itinerary together for you. Just forward your hotel, restaurant, flight, and car rental confirmation emails to the service, and the app will display your master itinerary in one place. Get TripIt for iOS and Android. 75. Kiwi: More than just booking flights. Kiwi is known for booking flights, but the app does more – book a hotel, car rental, and activities and tours. You can also see helpful information about airports, such as lounge locations, ATMs, and luggage storage. Get Kiwi for iOS and Android. 76. Roadtrippers: Map out your next roadtrip. Roadtrippers is perfect for COVID-19 era travel. The app plans a driving route for you with hotels and activities along the way. Find interesting attractions and can’t-miss landmarks that you can stop off and see as you go. Get Roadtrippers for iOS and Android. 77. Priority Pass: Access 1300+ airport lounges Become a member of the Priority Pass program and the app will give you access to lounges at airports around the world. Just enter the airport name or code and see what lounges or restaurants that you have access to, including photos, hours, amenities and more. Get Priority Pass for iOS and Android. 78. FlightAware: Keep track of your tight connection. Travelers can use the FlightAware app to get live updates on flights – delays, cancellations, gate changes, and more. It’s worth downloading for any trips where you have a tight connection or if you’re traveling through a region experiencing difficult weather. Get FlightAware for iOS and Android. 79. Timeshifter: Adjust to time zones and avoid jet lag. The Timeshifter uses neuroscience research to help you start adjusting to a different time zone while you’re still in-flight. The app considers your age, gender, and sleep patterns as well as you trip plans to start providing steps you can take to adjust your body to a new time zone. Get Timeshifter for iOS and Android. 80. SkyGuru: Prepare for turbulence with weather predictions. The SkyGuru app was designed by pilots to help nervous fliers know what to expect before getting on the plane. The app offers weather and turbulence forecasts for your specific flight route. Of course, anything can happen, but it’s nice to have a little warning. Get SkyGuru for iOS and Android. 81. Uber: Ride-hailing around the world. Uber is in more than 80 countries, and it’s a great app to have if you don’t speak the language, aren’t carrying cash, or don’t know where you’re going. Not into Uber, or traveling in a country where Uber doesn’t operate? Try Lyft, Grab, Cabify, Bolt, Careem, or Gett instead. Get Uber for iOS and Android. 82. Drive Weather: Know the road condition before you drive. Many of us will be traveling by car or by train for the holidays this year, in lieu of taking a flight. Drive Weather is an app that helps road travelers avoid the worst weather. Get radar views and routes with rain, freezing rain, ice, and snow icons that tell you when there are slippery roads ahead. Get DriveWeather for iOS and Android. 83. Waze: Crowdsourced traffic so you get the best route. The Waze map app lets users submit data to alert other drivers of traffic jams, roadblocks, police, accidents and more. It’s a great app for finding the best route throughout your travel – and find you the lowest price on gas along the way. Get Waze for iOS and Android. 84. Rome2rio: Find the best way to get between cities. The Rome2rio app lets you compare different transportation costs: train, plane, bus, ferry and car. Figure out what is the cheapest or fastest way to get between different destinations and book tickets through the app. Get Rome2rio for iOS and Android. 85. App in the Air: A virtual personal travel assistant. This app ranked on Apple’s best app’s list and also gets Oprah’s seal of approval. App in the Air will store your itinerary, boarding pass, and frequent flier programs, and also keep track of boarding and landing times and airport wait times for check-in, security, and customs. Get App in the Air for iOS and Android. 86. GasBuddy: Save on petrol. GasBuddy searches for the best gas prices near you. In addition to finding you cheap gas, the app will also offer an outage tracker during natural disasters, a trip cost calculator, and search filters like brand, location, available restrooms, and more. Get GasBuddy for iOS and Android. 87. SOAR: For nervous fliers. SOAR is a course developed by therapist and former pilot Captain Tom Bunn. The SOAR app offers tips and resources to help nervous fliers get through a flight, with fact-based plane info to help you calm down. Get SOAR for iOS and Android. 88. RV Parks and Campgrounds: 40,000 stop-offs on the open road. RV Parks and Campgrounds offers great camping spots for those hitting the road. You can view RV parks and campgrounds based on ratings, with amenities listed. Photos show you what to expect ahead of time. Get RV Parks & Campgrounds for iOS and Android. Apps for Hotels and Accomodations Book a last minute stay, browse by neighborhood, and find great deals on these hotel and accommodation apps. 89. Airbnb: Stay with local hosts. Airbnb is one of the most popular platforms for booking accommodation. “Hosts” – sometimes small or boutique hotels – offer rooms or entire places for rent. The app also offers “Experiences” to help you explore a different side of a destination. Get Airbnb for iOS and Android. 90: Expedia: Discounts on hotels, car rentals, and packages. Expedia’s app gives you the entire Expedia booking experience, plus rewards. Earn double Expedia Rewards points each time you book a hotel, car rental, flight or package through the app. Get Expedia for iOS and Android. 91. Booking.com: The highest-rated travel app. Booking.com offers an all-in-one app experience. Explore the 27 million hotels, vacation rentals, homes, apartments, and other unique places to stay on the app, read guest reviews, and filter listings by price, review score, amenities, and more. Get the Booking.com app for iOS and Android. 92. Hotels.com: Great discounts and filters to find the right room for you. Hotels.com’s app has easy-to-use filters to help you find exactly what it is you’re looking for ina hotel room. People love the "Deals for Tonight" feature that offers big discounts on last-minute bookings. Another feature, "Your Secret Price" can offer savings up to 50%. Get the Hotels.com app for iOS and Android. 93. Kayak: Metasearching all other travel apps in seconds. Kayak is mostly known for flight deals, but the platform is owned by Booking.com, making the app a great place to turn when you need a deal on a hotel. Participate in Booking.com’s membership program through the Kayak app and use it to manage every aspect of your trip. Get the Kayak app for iOS and Android. 94. Hotel Tonight: Last-minute hotel deals. Hotel Tonight does what the name implies: shows you short-term deals on top hotels in a certain city so you can book something last minute. Find deals for a hotel tonight, next week, or up to 100 days in advance. Get Hotel Tonight for iOS and Android. 95. Marriott Bonvoy: Use Marriott’s mobile check-in and earn points. Marriott Bonvoy offers the lowest rate on the brand’s properties worldwide, as well as the ability to earn points through their rewards program. The app also has a mobile check-in feature and Mobile Key, plus chat and messaging features that allow you to coordinate room service and more with the on-site hotel team. Get the Marriott app for iOS and Android. 96. Hilton Honors: An easier way to travel. Like Marriott Bonvoy, the Hilton Honors app offers nifty features to make your stay better. Choose your own room from those available on the hotel’s floor plan. Keyless entry uses your device to unlock the door. And, you can skip the lines at check-in by using the app’s mobile check-in process. Get Hilton Honors for iOS and Android. 97. World of Hyatt: Member-centric features to elevate your stay. The World of Hyatt app has been recently redesigned to make the Hyatt experience that much better. The app offers mobile check-in and keyless entry, as well as access to meditation and mindfulness curated from Headspace. Keep track of rewards and manage amenities – like access to a room’s Chromecast – from one easy dashboard. Get World of Hyatt for iOS and Android. 98. AccorHotels Accor All: A range of hospitality brands in one app. Accor All gives you access to the Accor brand’s thousands of properties. Through this app, you can book a hotel, a boutique hotel, a 7-star establishment, a youth hostel or even a villa or apartment in over 111 countries. Get Accor All for iOS and Android. 99. HotelsCombined: A powerful search tool that aggregates the best rates. The HotelsCombined app lets you compare rates and find hotel deals from Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Agoda and other travel sites in one simple search. See what properties are trending and find the best rates for vacation rentals, apartments, resorts, and hotels. Get HotelsCombined for iOS and Android. 100. IHG: Book from 10 IHG brands in one app. IHG’s ten brands – including Holiday Inn and Intercontinental – all offer rooms on the app. Sign up through the loyalty program and the app will give you member-specific rates and discounts. Get the IHG app for iOS and Android. 101. Splitty Travel: Smart technology to get you the best deal. Splitty Travel is an app that offers hotel deals by combining several rate plans to a single reservation. Choose your destination and Splitty’s technology combines different reservation types to build the cheapest deal for the hotel you want. Get Splitty Travel for Android. 102. DayPass: Book a day at a luxury property and enjoy its amenities. The DayPass app offers day passes to hotel & resorts, health clubs and spas. Enjoy luxury pools, all-inclusive resorts, beach clubs, gyms, and spas for the day. You can book and pay through the app. Get DayPass for iOS and Android. The travel landscape is always changing, and we’re excited to see what new apps are in development. Today’s travelers are more tech-savvy than ever, and apps like Splitty and Timeshifter show that technology is adapting to keep up. What are your favorite travel apps? Are there any that we missed?
We've previously covered the different types of hotels and hotel room types can be just as confusing. Hotel rooms come in all shapes, sizes – and titles. Hotels label their rooms by the size bed, the number of beds in the room, as well as the furnishings, interior design, and additional amenities. Guest rooms classified as "singles", for instance, can indicate a smaller room, a twin bed, the number of occupants for which there is space, or all of the above. Room type definitions are complex and go well beyond whether the sleeping area has a single bed or queen-size, or whether it's a smoking room or not. These room type distinctions can be confusing for guests who are just seeking to understand what, exactly, it is for which they are paying. This guide seeks to help guests understand what the different types of hotel rooms are, as well as build justification for pricing your property's rooms on a certain scale. Room Types by Occupancy It’s common for hotels to list their rooms based on how many people the room is equipped to handle. Here’s what you can expect when you see rooms labeled in this way. Single room: these rooms are assigned to one person or a couple. It may have one or more beds, but the size of the bed depends on the hotel. Some single rooms have a twin bed, most will have a double, few will have a queen bed. Double room: double rooms are assigned to two people; expect one double bed, or two twin beds depending on the hotel. Triple room: as the name might suggest, this room is equipped for three people to stay. The room will have a combination of either three twin beds, one double bed and a twin, or two double beds. Quad room: a quad room is set up for four people to stay comfortably. This means the room will have two double beds. Some, however, may be set up dormitory-style with bunks or twins, so check with the property to make sure. Quad room Hotel Rooms by Bed Some hotels classify rooms by the number or size of the beds in the room. However, guests should note that hotels still have restrictions on how many guests are allowed per room. Just because there’s a king bed in a room, doesn’t mean you can invite 15 people to stay. Occupancy limitations make this a liability for the hotel. Many hotels will charge more for extra guests (to a certain limit) or allow for you to add a cot to a room with an odd number of people. Here are some room types determined by bed availability. Queen: a room with a queen-sized bed. King: a room with a king-sized bed. Twin: a room with two twin-sized beds. Hollywood twin: Hollywood twin rooms have two twin beds that are joined by the same headboard. Double-double: these rooms have two double beds (sometimes two queen beds) and are meant to accommodate two to four people, especially families traveling with young kids. Studio: this type of room has a studio bed, e.g. a couch that can be converted into a bed. Some studios come with additional beds. Others come with more space: a studio room can be like a fully-furnished apartment, meaning it will have a small kitchenette. Check with the hotel to learn more about their studio rooms. Double-double room Hotel Rooms by Layout There are some rooms designated a certain price according to the layout – how big the rooms are, if there’s an adjoining second bedroom, or if there is a kitchen area and living space (making the room a suite). These titles can also tell travelers which rooms are handicapped accessible or suitable for business travelers. Some of these classifications are quite common, others may require a little more research and clarification by the traveler before booking. Standard room: a standard room is likely the same as a queen or a single room, great for a solo traveler or a couple. Expect a double bed. Deluxe room: these rooms might be a bit bigger with slightly upgraded amenities or a nicer view. These rooms are typically equipped for groups who need more space, like a couple or small family. Joint room: a joint room, sometimes called an adjoining room, refers to two rooms that share a common wall but no connecting door. Joint rooms are meant for families with younger children who may be old enough to stay in their own space, but not too far from their parents. Connecting room: these rooms have a connecting door between them, as well as individual doors to get to the outside. Great for families or groups who don’t want to have to walk through the hallway to move between rooms. Suite: suites come in a few different sizes. A basic suite or executive suite comes with a separate living space connected to one or more bedrooms. This set up is sometimes also called a master suite. A mini-suite or junior suite refers to a single room with a bed and sitting area. Some suites also come with kitchenettes. The presidential suite, as the name would suggest, is usually the most expensive room provided by a hotel. It will have one or more bedrooms, a living space, and impressive amenities, decoration, and tailor-made services. Apartment-style: aparthotels are offering these types of rooms, but they can also be found at other traditional hotel chains. These rooms target long stay guests with full kitchens, laundry, and other amenities that make it possible to live comfortably. Housekeeping services are limited to once or twice a week. Accessible room: hotels are required by law to provide a certain number of handicapped-accessible rooms. These rooms will have space for a wheelchair to move easily, and a bathroom outfitted for a disabled person. Presidential suite Hotel Rooms by Amenities Some rooms don’t fit easily into any category because they are entirely unique. Perhaps a room has certain hotel amenities like access to a club lounge with breakfast and an afternoon wine hour. Cabana: cabana rooms open out onto the swimming pool or have a private pool attached to the room. This room type is more common in boutique hotels. Villa: most villas can be found at resorts. These kinds of rooms are actually stand-alone houses that have extra space and privacy. Villas typically come equipped with multiple bedrooms, a living room, a swimming pool, and a balcony. Penthouse: not all hotels offer penthouse suites, but these rooms are high-end, big rooms – sometimes taking up the entire top floor of a hotel – and come with the ultimate luxury amenities. Penthouse room Make sure to clearly explain things to guests that may seem obvious to you. To guest "adjacent rooms" may seem like a suite with living room and bedroom separate but it actually refers to separate rooms next to each other. Hoteliers often assume that guests speak the same language but when many hotels classify rooms differently it's critical to clearly explain the number of guests who can be in a room, whether an extra bed can fit and even things like how far the room is from hotel entrance doors. The better you describe the experience for future guests the lower probability of false expectations which lead to poor guest experiences. Even go as far as to share the number of rooms for different room types so they can better understand the property as a whole. Hotel guests can often get confused by all these different room types and classifications. Help them discern which room is best for their budget, the size of their party, and their comfort by asking them more about their trip and matching them with a room accordingly. Hotel guests can often get confused by all these different room types and classifications. Help them discern which room is best for their budget, the size of their party, and their comfort by asking them more about their trip and matching them with a room accordingly.
Want to explore a plethora of types of accommodations? You’ve arrived at the right place. We’ve researched over 80 kinds of hotels, resorts, vacation rentals, and more. By the end of this article, you’ll discover which accommodations are right for you. The classification of hotels is no easy feat so we. decided to make it easy for you. We’ve broken down this article into 7 categories (by type of hotel): Popular Hotel Types Chain Scales Star Ratings Niche Hotel Types Regional Accommodations Unique Hotel Concepts Hotel Alternatives The hospitality industry is changing rapidly. Vacation rental companies like Airbnb are looking more like hotels and hotels are looking more like vacation rentals with the invention of serviced apartments and apartment hotels. As a guest you want to know what each hotel has to offer. Does a 3-star hotel offer room service? Does a five-star hotel need a spa? What kinds of hotel amenities does a resort hotel have? Are budget hotels dirty? Ready to dive in? Let’s go! Popular Hotel Types These hotel types are the most common, and you can find them all over the world. Chain Hotel: Also known as a “branded hotel,” a chain hotel is affiliated with a brand that may have strict guidelines for amenities and design. Some chain hotels are part of a larger ownership group, while other chain hotels have independent owners but follow the same brand standards. Popular hotel chains are Courtyard, Holiday Inn, and Westin. Independent Hotel: A hotel that is independently owned and operated with no brand standards or guidelines. Boutique Hotel: A hotel that incorporates unique design and personalized service, often with a theme or local influences. Boutique hotels are usually small (under 100 rooms) and independently owned, though some boutique hotels are part of collections like Leading Hotels of the World or chains like the Curio Collection by Hilton. Pictured: Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea Resort: A resort offers everything necessary for a vacation on-site, such as restaurants, bars, pools, spas, recreational facilities, kids clubs, and entertainment venues. Popular resort brands include Sandals and Four Seasons, though there are many independent resorts too. Airport Hotel: An airport hotel is located near - you guessed it! - an airport. Airport hotels usually provide free airport transportation for a seamless transfer. Conference Hotel: Catering to business travelers and groups, conference hotels have extensive function space, catering services, and event planners to suit trade shows, conventions, or other large events. All-Suite Hotel: A hotel which contains only suite-style guestrooms, which are guestrooms that have separate sleeping and living areas. Embassy Suites is a popular all-suite hotel brand. Extended-Stay Hotel: Designed for people who need a place to stay for several weeks or months, extended-stay hotels provide guestrooms with full kitchens and more spacious layouts than a standard hotel. Some extended-stay hotels also offer laundry events and social events. Motel: Short for a “motor hotel,” motels are often located next to a highway in rural areas and offer basic amenities at a low price. Pictured: Aparthotel Baden, Switzerland Apart-Hotel: Also known as a condo hotel, apart-hotels are made up of apartment-style units which can contain full kitchens and several bedrooms. Apart-hotels offer all the services of a hotel, like a front desk and housekeeping. Serviced Apartment: An apartment unit with hotel-style services available for nightly rentals, often catering to business travelers. Serviced apartments can be found in apartment buildings that also house long-term residents. Hostel: Popular among young budget travelers, hostels offer beds (usually bunk beds) in shared dormitories with shared bathroom facilities. Other on-site amenities can include lounge areas, bars, games, restaurants, and self-service laundry. Chain Scales The hotel industry uses “chain scales” to categorize hotel brands. Smith Travel Research developed the chain scale system and decides which chains fall into each category, usually based on the hotel’s average daily rate. Luxury: These hotels are the cream of the crop. Luxury hotels offer exceptional service, distinctive architecture, award-winning restaurants, and amenities like spas and golf courses. Luxury chains include Aman, Peninsula, and Ritz-Carlton. Upper Upscale: Like luxury hotels, upper upscale hotels deliver unique experiences with stellar service and amenities - but with a less eye-watering price tag. Upper upscale chains include Hyatt Regency and Wyndham Grand. Upscale: Upscale hotels are full-service hotels with solid amenities and classic decor, usually including a restaurant and a fitness center. Upscale chains include Courtyard and Hilton Garden Inn. Pictured: Holiday Inn Boston Bunker Hill Area Upper Midscale: Ranging from traditional to modern, upper midscale hotels offer comfortable accommodation and basic amenities, like free breakfast and fitness centers. Upper midscale chains include Holiday Inn and Red Lion. Midscale: This segment includes both modern and legacy brands with basic design, sparse amenities, and, often, free breakfast. Midscale chains include La Quinta and Ramada. Economy: These hotels offer no-frills accommodation at a low price. Economy hotels are often found in rural, suburban, or airport areas and include limited amenities. Economy chains include America’s Best Value Inn and Motel 6. Star Ratings Star ratings give travelers information about the level of quality at a given hotel. Generally speaking, hotels with higher star ratings can sell higher rates. Star ratings are either assigned by a third-party rating entity, such as Forbes Travel Guide, or by a governmental body in certain countries, like Australia and the United Kingdom. 1-Star Hotel: A hotel with basic amenities, perhaps with shared bathrooms or no dining options. 2-Star Hotel: A hotel with basic amenities and slightly elevated decor, breakfast service, and/or public areas like a lobby or gym. 3-Star Hotel: A full-service hotel with a restaurant, front desk, intentional decor, and housekeeping service. 4-Star Hotel: An upscale hotel with on-site dining, premium amenities, and a signature look and feel. 5-Star Hotel: A luxurious hotel with personalized service, high-end dining venues, wellness facilities, and elegant design. 7-Star Hotel: Though it’s not officially part of the star rating system, a few “7-star hotels” in destinations like Dubai and Fiji have such over-the-top amenities that the 5-star designation just doesn’t cover it. At Dubai’s Burj Al Arab, you can expect Rolls-Royce car service, a suite with a private movie theater, and a private beach. Pictured: Burj Al Arab, Dubai In many European countries, you can find the HOTREC Hotelstars Star Rating System. This organization uses a rubric with almost 300 points of comparison to determine which category a hotel falls into. In addition to these categories, a hotel can earn a “Superior” designation if it falls between two categories. Tourist Hotel (*): These hotels include guestrooms with private bathrooms, daily housekeeping, and a front desk with limited hours. Standard Hotel (**): These hotels include toiletries, towels, linens, and a breakfast buffet. Comfort Hotel (***): These hotels include bilingual staff, internet, hair dryers, and laundry and ironing service. First Class Hotel (****): These hotels include minibars, a restaurant, a lobby, and an extensive selection of toiletries and personal items in the bathrooms. Luxury Hotel (*****): These hotels include 24-hour reception, concierge service, in-room safes, and nightly turndown service. Did you know? AAA uses a “diamond” rating system to evaluate the quality of hotels and restaurants. Check out our guide to hotel star ratings to learn more about these types of hotels. Niche Hotel Types Looking for something specific? These niche hotels cater to a particular type of traveler or embody a certain theme. All-Inclusive Hotel or Resort: Don’t want to worry about dining out while you travel? All-inclusive hotels or resorts provide all of your meals on-site. Most all-inclusives have several restaurants, cafes, and bars that are included in the room rate. Beach Resort: Set directly on the beach, beach resorts let you go from your room to the sand in just a few footsteps. Beach resorts usually provide beach chairs, towels, umbrellas, and watersports equipment. Pictured: Union Street Inn, Nantucket Bed and Breakfast: With an average of only six rooms, these charming properties offer a homey atmosphere, daily breakfast, and social interaction with other guests and the proprietor, who usually lives on-site. Many bed and breakfasts are luxurious or historic. Business Hotel: These properties cater to business travelers and are located near business districts, airports, or convention centers. On-site amenities include meeting rooms, business centers, and restaurants for breakfast on the go. Casino Hotel: Feeling lucky? Casino hotels have on-site casinos, usually in addition to restaurants, bars, spas, and shops. Las Vegas and Atlantic City have high concentrations of casino hotels. Eco Hotel: Staying in a hotel doesn’t need to hurt the environment. Eco hotels range in size and style, but they all have a focus on environmental-friendliness. Eco hotels might come with limited housekeeping service, organic restaurants, LEED-certified architecture, and sustainable decor. Family Hotel: Traveling with the kids is easier when you choose a family hotel, which are found in popular vacation destinations like Orlando. These properties offer family-friendly rooms with bunk beds or separate bedrooms, restaurants with kid-approved menu choices, childcare or day camps, and activities for all ages. Gastro Hotel: A hotel with a culinary focus, sometimes featuring a Michelin-starred hotel or an on-site vegetable garden. Pictured: Boulders Resort & Spa, Scottsdale Golf Resort: A resort with a golf course, perfect for golf getaways. Golf resorts are usually found in vacation destinations like Hawaii or Scottsdale. Heritage Hotel: Take a step back in time at a heritage hotel. These iconic properties are known for their classic architecture and rich history. In some countries, they may even receive an official “historic” designation from the government. Microstay Hotel: Need a place to rest your head for a few hours? Microstay hotels can be booked by the hour, which is ideal for travelers with long layovers or quick turnaround times that don’t align with the standard check-in and check-out policies. Patient Hotel: Patients traveling to out-of-town hospitals can benefit from a patient hotel, which is usually located within or near a medical facility and offers services and amenities for pre- and post-treatment stays. Railway Hotel: Located next to railway stations, these hotels offer convenient accommodation for train travelers. The first railway hotel, the Great Western Hotel in England, opened in 1844. Ski Resort: Set in ski destinations like Aspen and Park City, ski resorts are ideal for a vacation on the slopes and offer the convenience of dining, wellness facilities, equipment rental and storage, and lessons on-site. Pictured: Park Hyatt Tokyo Skyscraper Hotel: Looking for a hotel with a view? You can find skyscraper hotels in metropolitan areas around the world. The hotels usually occupy several floors within the skyscraper; the other floors might contain offices, residences, shopping, or dining. Spa Hotel: If you’re in the mood for a relaxing getaway, then a spa hotel might fit the bill. Spa hotels have world-class spa facilities and often incorporate wellness into their restaurants, decor, and amenities. Tennis Resort: Channel your inner Serena Williams and head to a tennis resort for an active vacation. These properties offer not only tennis courts, but also lessons run by on-site pros and restaurants where you can fuel up between matches. Wine Hotel: A trip to Napa or Bordeaux isn’t complete without a stay at a wine hotel. Often set directly on vineyards, these hotels incorporate a wine theme in their dining venues, decor, and even spa treatments. Regional Accomodations Some accommodation types are only found in certain parts of the world. Rather than choosing a chain hotel when you travel, you can get a taste of local culture at a region-specific accommodation. Albergo Diffuso: In an effort to lure tourists to small towns in Italy, the albergo diffuso concept offers accommodations in restored homes scattered throughout the town, giving travelers a unique sense of community. Bunkhouse: Similar to a hostel, a bunkhouse (also known as a camping barn) offers shared dormitory accommodations, shared bathrooms, and either a simple breakfast or a shared kitchen. Bunkhouses can be found in rural areas in the United Kingdom. Casa Particular: A staple of Cuban hospitality, the casa particular is similar to a bed and breakfast in that it offers travelers a room in a home and breakfast (additional meals too), plus basic decor and a low price. Country House Hotel: Popular in the English countryside, these tranquil hotels provide the ideal setting for a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Country house hotels offer comfort food, afternoon tea, and activities like hunting and horseback riding. Gasthaus: This classic German accommodation offers guestrooms and a restaurant or tavern. These properties feature traditional architecture and are found in small towns throughout Germany. Hostal: Not to be confused with a hostel, a hostal includes private guestrooms or apartments plus a restaurant or cafe. Hostales are usually family-run and are located in Spain and Central and South America. Pension: Found worldwide, but mostly in Europe, pensions are modest guesthouses which provide guestrooms and meals. When booking your room, you can usually choose between full board (all meals included) or half board (breakfast and dinner included). Pictured: Riad de Tarabel Riad: Surrounded by an exterior wall, a riad features a lush courtyard garden and stunning Moroccan design and architecture. While a riad is simply a type of luxurious Moroccan home, many have been converted into hotels in destinations like Marrakech. Ryokan: A traditional Japanese inn which offers minimalist rooms with tatami mats instead of Western-style beds. Other ryokan amenities include communal baths and restaurants, and guests are usually requested to remove their shoes inside. Unique Hotel Concepts Why stay in a typical hotel when you can have a one-of-a-kind experience? These innovative accommodations prove that there’s more to the hotel industry than the big-box chain hotel. Boatel: Even those prone to seasickness can enjoy a boatel, which is just a fancy name for a boat that doubles as sleeping accommodations while it’s moored in a harbor or marina. Boatels can be small boats perfect for a family or out-of-service cruise ships that offer hundreds of cabins. Pictured: Capsule Hotel Hakodate Capsule Hotel: Also known as a pod hotel, a capsule hotel offers micro-rooms with single beds and shared bathrooms. These efficient hotels give budget travelers an affordable place to sleep with more privacy than a hostel, and they’re popular throughout Asia. Castle Hotel: Want to sleep like royalty? A castle hotel is housed in a real castle, often found in rural parts of Europe, that has been converted into a fully functioning hotel complete with running water, electricity, and WiFi (usually!). Hotelship: During high-demand periods when a city doesn’t have enough hotel rooms, hotelships come to the rescue. Passenger vessels like river cruise boats or ocean liners temporarily dock in a city to provide additional sleeping capacity. Hotel Barge: Set on canals in France, the Netherlands, Germany, and other European countries, hotel barges provide a few luxurious rooms and day excursions to wineries, markets, or castles. Pop-Up Hotel: A temporary hotel which is only open during limited dates or a holiday period. Some pop-up hotels are constructed for festivals or sporting events, while others can be part of elaborate marketing strategies for brands like Jack Daniels. Pictured: A Rotel in Germany Rotel: Short for “rolling hotel,” a rotel is what you get when you merge a tour bus and a hotel: bus in the front, hotel in the back. Rotels are popular in tourist destinations in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Underwater Hotel: Forget counting sheep; at an underwater hotel, you can count fish as you fall asleep. Set in resort destinations like the Maldives and Singapore’s Sentosa Island, these luxurious hotels offer underwater rooms with sea views - literally. Hotel Alternatives Hotels aren’t your only choices when it comes to places to sleep during your travels. A growing segment of “alternative accommodations” puts a twist on the vacation experience with options available for every budget and style. Cabin: A home located in the forest or mountains, usually made from natural materials like wood. Cabins can range from simple accommodations to luxurious retreats in rural destinations. Campsite: Want to get back to nature? A campsite is as close to nature as you can get. Book your campsite, bring your tent, and enjoy a night (or a few) under the stars. Campsites have access to shared bathroom facilities. Farm Stay: For city dwellers, a farm stay can be quite an adventurous vacation. On a farm stay, you might wake up to the sound of roosters crowing and help your hosts harvest vegetables for your dinner, since guestrooms are either attached or adjacent to the host’s home. Pictured: Istra Premium Camping Resort Glampsite: If campsites had star ratings, then glampsites would surely earn five! Glamping puts a luxurious spin on camping with posh tents that incorporate high-quality materials, chic decor, modern bathrooms, Guesthouse: A simple accommodation which offers guestrooms within the host’s own home. Guesthouses can have up to a dozen or more rooms, and most provide free breakfast. Holiday Park: A group of mobile homes or cottages with community amenities like swimming pools and tennis courts. Homestay: A room for transient guests within the host’s home, which is a popular accomodation type in rural areas. Homestays usually include breakfast, and some invite you to dinner with the host family. Ranch: Ever wanted to be a cowboy or cowgirl? Ranches offer the quintessential Wild West experience, complete with horseback riding and plenty of nature. They vary in quality from luxurious resort ranches to working ranches where guests help with daily operations. Recreational Vehicle: The perfect road trip solution is a recreational vehicle (RV), which looks like a bus or large van on the outside, but features all the comforts of home on the inside, including at least one bed, a kitchen, a bathroom, and living space. Short-Term Rental: This new term refers to vacation homes or apartment rentals that travelers book for a short period of time, from one night to a few weeks. Short-term rentals can be managed by individual hosts or brands like Sonder. Studio: A single-room accommodation that includes a kitchen or kitchenette, a bed, and a bathroom. Studios can be found in guesthouses, apart-hotels, or as short-term rentals. Timeshare: This innovative solution to vacation home ownership lets you purchase a condo or villa for a certain time period (usually one week) each year. Some timeshares include use of just one property, while other timeshare membership programs allow you to redeem your week at your choice of several properties. Tiny House: A trendy, Instagram-ready, and efficient accommodation that offers a bed, a bathroom, and a kitchen in just a few hundred square feet of space. Treehouse: Ideal for the young at heart or anyone searching for a truly unique accommodation, treehouses offer a bed in the trees. These eclectic properties can be basic, open-air platforms or magical, luxurious palaces in the sky. Vacation Home: Simply put, a vacation home is a house rented for short-term use. A vacation home is a great solution for families or groups who want their own kitchen and living spaces and prefer not to book multiple guestrooms. Vacation Rental: The broader term for vacation homes, apartments, condos, villas, timeshares, treehouses and more that are booked for the purpose of a short leisure stay. Villa: Usually found in tropical vacation destinations, villas are like small, private resorts with multiple structures (standalone bedrooms, living areas, gazebos) and outdoor pools. Yurt: A halfway point between a hotel room and a tent. Yurts are permanent structures with walls and roofs, unlike tents, but they often lack electricity and climate control and use shared bathroom facilities. Ready to pack your bags? Let us know if we missed any types of hotels.
Online travel agents have become an integral part of many travelers’ “search and book” routine. It used to be so much more tedious to book travel, requiring a phone call or an in-person visit to a physical travel agent. Now, travelers can self serve all the way from research to booking. If you're like most travelers, you've used an OTA without really thinking much about it. The website works well, with lots of choices and a relatively smooth booking experience. But if you’ve ever wondered what an OTA actually is, how OTAs make money, why travelers like you use OTAs and what the biggest OTAs are, then this is your place. We've compiled some of travelers’ most frequently asked questions around OTAs and answered them all in one place. Let’s get curious! What's an OTA? “OTA” stands for Online Travel Agency, which is a travel agency whose primary presence is on digital channels. Consumers can use a website and/or mobile device to search and book travel -- all without the traditional “gatekeeper” travel agent. OTAs connect to the full breadth of travel providers, giving travelers access to all of the inventory that they may want for their next trip. Online travel agents are the travel industry's largest source of bookings and often use package deals including airfare and hotels or special offers like flash sales to drive more bookings to airline and hotel partners. These massive travel websites like Booking and Expedia have millions of monthly visitors. Large hotel groups (like Hilton and the like) have been consolidating and building new subbrands, which means that they have a lower reliance on OTAs; travelers can find many types of accommodations on the global brands’ own websites. Yet, many independent hotels rely entirely on OTAs to drive their bookings as they don’t have a booking engine of their own. Either way, OTAs have a breadth and depth of travel inventory that covers all segments, geographies and groups of travelers. It's also important to understand what ARE NOT online travel agencies. Metasearch engines like TripAdvisor and Google Flights, for example, are not OTAs. Having said that, Booking.com (formerly Priceline.com) does own metasearch player Kayak so there are some overlaps (although with different brands). In the United States Expedia is the dominant player while in Europe it is Booking.com. How do OTAs make money? Most OTAs make money by taking a commission per booking, which is anywhere from 5% to upwards of 25%. The actual commission rate is negotiated on a brand by brand, property by property basis. In general, larger hotels and bigger brands with many properties use their leverage to negotiate lower rates. So when you book that boutique hotel on an OTA, it's likely that they are paying more on commission than the name brand Hotel down the street. Most OTAs also make money through advertising, in which hotels pay to be prominently placed above organic results in relevant traveler searches. This model, which is also used by metasearch sites (see What is metasearch? for more), is generally on a pay-per-click basis. Why do travelers use OTAs? Over a fifth of travelers say they use OTAs to book all or part of their travel. And OTAs (and their metasearch cousins, often owned by major OTA groups) remain popular among all age groups. OTAs are positioned across many touchpoints throughout the customer journey. Why is that? At the highest level, there are three main reasons why many travelers book their trips on an OTA: Choice. Online travel agencies are a “one stop shop” for all things travel. From flights and hotels to short-term rentals, cars and vacation packages, you can pretty much find any type of product that you want on an OTA. Price. OTAs have done an excellent job of developing a perception of value -- even though they aren't always the lowest price or the best value. The real value here lies in comparison shopping. It’s easy to compare options on an OTA and that type of information is very valuable to consumers. Convenience. OTAs are the Everything Store for Travel, available on any device. It’s a convenient place to book your car rental, hotel and flights in a single reservation. It's so much easier to deal with that single point of contact -- especially when things go wrong and you need help. Rather than calling multiple numbers to puzzle together a new itinerary, you only have to call one number to get it done. Now let's assume and to get a bit more of a granular and geeky view into what consumers want from OTAs. A recent research report from Jul 2020 asked this very question in its title, Why do people purchase from online travel agencies (see geeky graph below). While it was based on a limited sample size of users from a budget hotel brand, the results suggest that travelers use OTAs due to a perception of greater trust, safety and quality: Hygiene. Travelers want to be assured of the relative cleanliness of the service or product. By using a reputable online travel agency, travelers have an expectation of a certain level of quality. The attributes of the brand make a big difference in the perception of quality. Privacy and security. Privacy and security are also important. And, just like hygiene, Travelers have a certain level of trust in the OTA brand to deliver a quality experience that won’t expose them to privacy breaches or physical harm. Reviews. Social proof has a major impact on why travelers use OTAs. A feeling that others had a good experience goes a long way in pulling more consumers into the OTA ecosystem. What are the drawbacks of OTAs? There are also some disadvantages of using OTAs, which travelers must be aware of. For one, travelers often are lured by low prices on many online travel agencies. Yet, once they try to book, they find out that the price includes hidden fees or added restrictions that wouldn’t be found by booking directly with an airline or hotel. Niche OTAs, which can pop up seemingly overnight, often hide the true cost of a trip during a given search to entice consumers to click through. The worst actors will actually appear to offer the lowest price all the way through to booking. However, once you check-in to their flight or hotel, you may discover unexpected fees. All of a sudden, that “steal” of a price actually becomes more expensive than it would have been book direct. Examples of these tactics periodically pop up, such as when one online travel agency was accused of using improper charges and bait-and-switch fares. The tactic can mislead consumers, who see an OTA as the cheapest option in search results and thus click through to book. Another major drawback is customer support. Not all OTAs are created equal on this front. Especially when it comes to regional ones, travelers often face less-than-ideal support. For the average trip, when everything goes well, this is far less of an issue. It's when things go wrong that support matters greatly. No one wants to be stranded without anyone to help! This can be exacerbated during disruptions come out when travel suppliers prioritize direct workers over others. When booking directly with a hotel or airline, travelers will deal directly with the company for any issues that arise. So it’s not always cut-and-dry that an OTA will be able to provide you better or more effective support than a travel company -- and in some cases (especially with more niche/regional OTAs) there’s spotty support that can cause more frustration than the price savings. What are the top online travel agencies? When choosing where to book, most consumers opt for one of the top OTAs: Booking Holdings and Expedia Group. That’s not really difficult to do, as these two companies own the bulk of online bookings. With many brands that span categories and regions, Expedia and Booking have all corners of the globe and all travel niches covered: Expedia Group In addition to its namesake OTA Expedia.com, which sells all categories of travel to a global audience, the company operates sites that span hotels, ground transportation, cruises, vacation rentals, metasearch and business travel. Hotels.com. Expedia’s hotel-focused OTA is most well-known for its generous and straightforward loyalty program, which rewards a free night for every 10 nights booked on the platform. Vrbo. Short-term rentals are the core of the Vrbo offering, which recently merged with HomeAway to become Expedia's main destination for vacation rentals. Egencia. Corporate travel managers use Egencia to support their business travel needs. With self-service options for travelers and compliance tools for managers, the focus is on savings and ease-of-use. trivago. The “trivago guy” became a worldwide sensation after appearing in commercials without a belt. The hotel metasearch platform provides hotel price comparisons across its 55 localized sites. Orbitz. This OTA has a strong focus on North America, where travelers can search flights, hotels & travel bundles. Orbitz for Business is the OTA’s corporate travel arm. CheapTickets. As a subsidiary of Orbitz, Cheaptickets is for discounted hotels, flights, local events, travel bundles and cruises. The site’s Vacation Value Finder assists travelers in finding the best deals. Travelocity. The Roaming Gnome has been one of the most successful marketing campaigns in travel. The OTA is also known for its Price Match Guarantee, where it will match any price from a competitor. Hotwire. This is an opaque deal site specifically for hotels. Travelers can see star rating and cost for their search dates, and then make non-refundable reservations based on an overview of the hotel’s category. Wotif. The Wotif portfolio includes Wotif and LastMinute, which offers flights, hotels, packages and last-minute deals to travelers based mostly in Australia and New Zealand. ebookers. This regional OTA serves travelers primarily from the UK, as well as around Europe. Travelers can search and book flights, hotels, car rentals, activities and packages. CarRentals.com. Travelers can book rental cars from the major brand names, as well as smaller regional outfits. The niche OTA covers 29,000 locations in 197 countries. Expedia Cruises. The cruise arm of Expedia Group gives consumers the control and flexibility to book cruises, which can be more complex than typical travel. There are also a chain of retail outlets, so cruises can get expert assistance face-to-face. Booking Holdings Headquartered in Amsterdam, Booking Holdings is best known for its flagship brand Booking.com, which sells all types of travel to a global audience in 43 languages. The global conglomerate also operates niche websites serving specific segments in travel and hospitality. Priceline. This OTA is focused primarily on North America and is known for its discounts and deals. The latest is Pricebreakers, a semi-opaque shopping option that shows travelers three hotels, one of which will be assigned after booking. Agoda. This OTA is strong in Asia, offering over 2 million hotels, homes, resorts and hostels across the continent. It also sells flights. Kayak. Kayak is a metasearch price comparison tool for flights, accmmodations, packages, and rental cars. Kayak has 60 localized sites in over 24 languages. Cheapflights. The brand promise is right there in the name: this is the place to find cheap flights. The site is actually a subsidiary of Kayak and applies its parent company’s metasearch model to flights. Momondo. Another subsidiary of kayak, this site is a flight fare and travel search aggregator. Travelers can find and compare prices for flights, hotels, rental cars and package deals. RentalCars.com. This Booking platform for rental cars has options in 160 countries, as well as nillions of verified reviews to inform travelers. OpenTable. Booking’s push into the full traveler journey led it to acquire OpenTable, the world's largest restaurant reservation platform. It exists as a standalone brand, where diners can make reservations online at restaurants worldwide. Airbnb The dominant short-term rental player now also offers boutique hotels on its platform. And while the pandemic has shifted its vision somewhat, the platform is now an OTA that competes directly. Ctrip Until recently, Ctrip was focused primarily on Asia. This changed with the purchase of Trip.com, which gave it a global footprint on major North American and European markets. Google Hotels Okay, so technically this is not an OTA as the business model is strictly “pay for performance.” But Google Hotels is the elephant in the room: a major competitor from the dominant search engine where the vast majority begin their travel searches. It's mere presence changes the calculus for OTAs worldwide. That's not to say that these sites are perfect, or that there aren't local alternatives. Verified reviews aren't always the most positive (see some here) -- but at least with the major companies, travelers are more likely to get responsive support and accurate pricing, with less likelihood of being scammed or otherwise misled. For a full list, check out our list of the top hotel booking sites for 2020.
Looking for opportunities to boost your vacation rental’s revenue? Your daily rates might be a good place to start. A great way to maximize your opportunity for revenue and bookings is to implement a dynamic pricing strategy, which means setting unique rates for each individual day - based on market demand, competitor supply, and your own historical data. If your prices don’t adapt to changing market conditions, you could be leaving money on the table. For property owners and managers who use Vrbo, the MarketMaker tool can be a solid addition to your pricing strategy and vacation rental marketing toolbox. In this article, we’ll explain exactly what MarketMaker does and how you can use it to optimize your Vrbo listings. What is MarketMaker? Homeaway's Revenue Tool Explained (now Vrbo) MarketMaker is Vrbo’s revenue management and competitor research tool. It’s available to all Vrbo hosts in the Owner Dashboard. MarketMaker is free of charge. To access MarketMaker, simply log into your property dashboard and select “MarketMaker” from the menu on the left side of the page. The tool itself compares your property’s current rates and occupancy with the average rates and occupancy in your market or competitive set. A competitive set is simply a group of similar properties that Vrbo’s algorithm has chosen. This comparison helps you determine whether your rates are too high or too low and if you are capturing your fair share of bookings. If your property has lower occupancy than the market average, for example, that could be a signal that you have an opportunity to increase bookings. What information does MarketMaker show? When you first open MarketMaker, you’ll see your properties at a glance. You can quickly notice each property’s average daily rate compared to the competitive set or market as well as occupancy percentage compared to the same competitive set or market. The data is from a time range selected on the top of the page: 30, 60, 90, or 180 days, or a custom range. By default, all of the properties in your account will show, but you can also search for a specific property or apply filters, like number of bedrooms or location, to show a subset of your listings. Next, we can drill down on one property in particular. By clicking the number of “opportunities” or the arrow on the far right of a given property’s row, we can see rates for that property on specific dates. These dates show rate recommendations that Vrbo suggests based on competitive set data. Vrbo can recommend higher or lower rates, whatever the algorithm determines your property needs to maximize the opportunity for bookings. When you click on the property’s name in the “Property” column, you can explore MarketMaker’s graph view. The graph looks overwhelming at first, so let’s explain exactly what you’re seeing. The graph contains data for one of your properties and that property’s market or competitive set. On the top, you can see the calendar, your current rates, and whether your property is available (white), booked on Vrbo (green), or unavailable for another reason (gray). In the graph, you’ll see a few lines, which you can toggle to show or hide: Blue line: Your current rate Green rate: Average rate of properties in your market/competitive set which have been booked on Vrbo Gray line: Average rate of properties which remain available on Vrbo Yellow line: Number of searches for your market on Vrbo The graph also contains two stacked bars: Light gray bar: Current occupancy of properties in your market, based on Vrbo data Turquoise bar (above the gray bar): Forecasted occupancy of properties in your market, based on Vrbo’s historical data, seasonality, and trends When you hover over one date on the graph, you’ll see the actual data points that correspond to each line and bar. How do you use MarketMaker? You can use MarketMaker in two ways: to make targeted rate adjustments and to gain a better understanding of market trends. MarketMaker offers rate recommendations when its algorithm detects a gap between your current rates and the market’s occupancy or rate trends. These rate recommendations can be found in the “opportunities” section. While looking at either the portfolio (list) or graph view, you may notice properties with “opportunities.” On the graph, the “opportunities” will be shown in blue just above the calendar row. Using MarketMaker’s recommendations, you can adjust your rates up or down - in line with market demand and trends - without needing to do all the research to come up with those recommendations on your own. The other way to use MarketMaker is to study market behavior. The graph view displays some great data about market demand in terms of search volume, and you can also get a sense of your competitive set or market’s occupancy trends. These findings can help you determine high and low demand dates so you can adapt your own strategies - both on Vrbo and on other channels - to capture as much demand as possible. Knowing which dates are in high demand can lead you to change not only your prices, but also your minimum stay requirements, fees, and content to be most competitive. What are MarketMaker’s limitations? While MarketMaker certainly presents some compelling information, it has one major limitation: the data is pulled only from Vrbo, and the changes you make to your rates will apply only to your Vrbo listing. For hosts who list properties on Vrbo only, that’s totally fine, but many hosts use additional booking channels besides Vrbo. In some markets, Vrbo represents just a small slice of all searches and bookings, so we recommend that you take the data with a grain of salt. Another limitation of MarketMaker is that it requires manual input. You can only make use of MarketMaker’s rate recommendations by acknowledging each recommendation manually, and if you have several properties, the time needed to click through these recommendations and stay up-to-date can add up quickly. Airbnb’s Smart Pricing tool offers similar rate intelligence functionality, but it’s fully automated. Property owners and managers who use third-party dynamic pricing tools, such as PriceLabs or Wheelhouse, spend much less time adjusting rates, since these tools also adjust rates automatically. However, some hosts may prefer to stay in full control of rate adjustments, so the manual nature of MarketMaker could be a benefit. Overall, MarketMaker is a nice addition to the Vrbo host dashboard, but it’s important to remember its limitations. MarketMaker can provide several benefits to property owners or managers who use Vrbo exclusively, but for hosts with larger portfolios or listings on multiple sites, the manual work needed to apply its recommendations is simply too big of an undertaking. The market data, however, can be beneficial for any host, especially to show search volume on high and low demand dates. Have you used Vrbo’s MarketMaker? We’d love to hear about your experience with this tool!
Curious about boutique hotels? If you’re opening, renovating, purchasing, or booking a hotel in the future, you’ll need to know what sets boutique hotels apart from other hotels. But determining the differences isn’t always an easy task - especially when you can find so-called boutique hotel brands (W, Kimpton) and branded boutique collections (Marriott’s Autograph Collection) today. This article will explain exactly what makes boutique hotels unique, where you can find them, and what’s in store for the future. When you’re done reading, you’ll be inspired to either open and book (or both!) a boutique hotel of your own. Pictured: 72 Riad Living, Marakkech What is a Boutique Hotel? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a boutique hotel is “a small stylish hotel, typically one situated in a fashionable urban location.” A boutique hotel has a distinct character, intentional design and decor, and personalized service. Though the idea seems timeless, the term “boutique hotel” actually hasn't been around very long. After opening the Morgans Hotel in New York City in 1984, legendary hotelier Ian Schrager and his business partner Steve Rubell coined the term. They compared big-box hotels, like Hiltons and Marriotts, to department stores, while the Morgans Hotel was more like a boutique: intimate, chic, and creative. While Ian Schrager might get credit for the term, other sources say that the first true boutique hotel was the Clarion Bedford Hotel, which opened in San Francisco in 1981. Like everything, there’s a bit of east coast-west coast rivalry at play! Pictured: Morgans Hotel in New York City, which permanently shuttered in 2018. What Makes Boutique Hotels Unique? You may be wondering: what is the difference between a hotel and a boutique hotel? It’s not only size that sets a boutique hotel apart, but also design, decor, staff, common areas, and in-room amenities. Characteristics of a boutique hotel: Small size: Boutique hotels typically have fewer than 100 rooms. Boutique hotels usually have small restaurants or bars (if any), few recreational facilities, and limited meeting space. If you’re looking for a hotel with a massive ballroom or a waterpark, you probably won’t find it at a boutique! Theme: Each boutique hotel has a unique theme; some are historic, some are culinary-focused, and some focus on specific elements like a book, a color, or a famous figure. The theme is present not only in the hotel’s aesthetic, but perhaps also in its name, staff uniforms, amenities, and more. Style: A hotel can’t truly embody a theme if it doesn’t have the decor and design to match. A hallmark of a boutique hotel is style - these are hotels that will inspire your inner interior designer or photographer. Each element of the hotel’s look is carefully chosen, and some even showcase art or souvenirs that the owner personally handpicked. Boutique hotels carefully curate everything from hotel website design through hotel amenities to align with their brand ethos. Service: Due to a boutique hotel’s intimate size, its staff can focus on delivering extraordinary guest service. It’s important to note that a boutique hotel does not need to be a luxury hotel too. Hotels do not become “boutique” by charging high rates or offering over-the-top amenities. In fact, many boutique hotels are affordable and focus more on personalized service than glamorous decor or five-star facilities. What is a Boutique Hotel Room? Although a boutique hotel room and a chain hotel room serve essentially the same purpose, they can look very different. Both rooms will contain a bed, a bathroom, and probably some conveniences like a TV and toiletries. But that’s where the similarities end. Boutique hotel rooms usually feature unique decor, handpicked amenities, and a variety of layouts. Pictured: Hilton Seattle Downtown At a chain hotel brand, you’ll usually notice that a hotel room at the brand’s property in Seattle looks exactly like the room at the brand’s property in Santa Fe. Hotel chains save a lot of money by standardizing their room decor and amenities, and guests loyal to the brand often appreciate the consistency. At boutique hotels, however, since each property is individually owned and operated, you won’t find the same type of standardization. Every property contains one-of-a-kind guestrooms - though you may notice certain trends among boutique hotel rooms. Pictured: Palihotel Seattle Decor in a boutique hotel room often includes artwork, wallpaper, funky paint colors, eclectic light figures, antique furnishings, and more. In a chain hotel room, you’re more likely to encounter sterile white walls, limited artwork, and functional furniture. Boutique hotel rooms can also incorporate unique and local in-room amenities, like coffee from a nearby coffee shop or vintage refrigerators. A chain hotel room will usually contain the exact same coffee, toiletries, and electronics no matter where it’s located. While a chain hotel’s rooms are near carbon copies of each other - perhaps with a different bed configuration or two - boutique hotels can have many different room types. At some boutique hotels, every room has a different look and feel. Where Can You Find Boutique Hotels? Which are the Best Boutique Hotels? You can find boutique hotels all over the world, from major cities like New York City and Tokyo to vacation destinations like Tulum and Santorini. Some boutique hotels are located in suburban markets, but you’re less likely to find them there. Pictured: Hotel Amparo Due to their great service and remarkable style, boutique hotels often top the lists of best hotels in the world. On Travel + Leisure’s 2020 Top 100 Hotels list, boutique hotels nab several spots. To get a sampling of the variety of boutique hotels, let’s look at a few of the world’s best: Hotel Amparo, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico This charming boutique hotel has only 5 rooms, each individually decorated and featuring unique textiles and antiques. The hotel describes its theme as “a smart, edgy sort of elegance that reaches backward and forward and across the globe.” Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland, Canada With a focus on sustainability, this cozy 29-room hotel was designed by a local Newfoundland architect and invests its profits into efforts to benefit the community. The hotel’s hospitable staff can arrange bicycle rentals, laundry service, excursions, and more - free of charge. COMO The Treasury, Perth, Australia Though COMO is technically a brand, each hotel in the COMO portfolio is truly a boutique in its own right. Their Perth property, The Treasury, is housed in the historic State Buildings and embodies a contemporary, wellness-inspired theme. The original architecture is evident in each of the guestrooms, which all have slightly different layouts. Pictured: COMO The Treasury Deer Path Inn, Lake Forest, Illinois Set just outside bustling Downtown Chicago, this English Tudor-style hotel whisks you back at least a hundred years with its stucco facade, traditional afternoon tea, and well-mannered staff. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places, but there are plenty of modern amenities too, like free bicycles and Frette linens. What’s Trending in the Boutique Hotel Industry? Since the first boutique hotels only opened about 40 years ago, there’s always room for innovation in the boutique hotel industry and the broader hospitality industry. What can we expect in the next decade? Two leading trends are a focus on sustainability and a rise of branded boutique collections. The “green” trend can be seen in the entire hotel industry, but since boutique hotels have more freedom and flexibility to make on-site changes than the big brands do, we’re seeing some exciting progress on the boutique side. Since boutique hotels often have strong ties to their local communities, they’re even more determined to make a positive impact on their local environment by using produce from nearby farms and limiting their amount of waste, for example. Pictured: The Autograph Collection’s Carlo IV As boutique hotels grow in popularity, global hotel brands want their piece of the pie - and brand loyalists want a boutique experience without sacrificing their loyalty perks. The solution? Branded boutique “collections,” or soft brands, that give boutique hotels the support of a global brand, open more options to brand-loyal guests, and generate a slice of revenue for the brand. An example of such a soft brand is the Autograph Collection by Marriott. Each hotel in the Autograph Collection is an individually owned and operated boutique hotel, but Marriott Bonvoy members can earn and redeem points at these hotels. The hotels themselves also benefit from increased exposure and brand recognition that comes with the Marriott brand. Are boutique hotels better? Well, that’s a question of personal preference. If you value personalized service, design, and a sense of place, then a boutique hotel may be the right choice. If you want affordability, global loyalty perks, or specific amenities, then you might not find what you’re looking for at a boutique hotel. Some destinations might have very few boutique hotels, and some boutique hotels might not suit your tastes. Some boutique hotels are also less family-friendly than chain hotels, which can be a consideration if you’re traveling with kids. From an ownership and management perspective, boutique hotels can be more challenging than chain hotels since you do not have the support of a brand. Many travelers want their getaways to be unique so a highway adjacent branded property just doesn't cut it. When enthusiasts check-in to a boutique hotel they get a feeling or vibe that cookie cutter properties just can't match (especially small hotels in the boutique segment and luxury boutique hotels). From Bangkok to Bali you'll find these bespoke accommodations welcoming guests to authentic local experiences in destination. Whether you’re traveling, investing, or opening your own hotel, a boutique hotel is a great choice. As travelers prefer an increasingly local experience, boutique hotels can deliver personality, service, and a sense of place in a way that chain hotels cannot.
Did you know that big hotel companies like Hilton and Marriott usually don’t manage their own hotels? It's ok if you didn't. The structure of hotel management companies and the broader hospitality industry is dramatically different than most industries and most employees within the industry don't fully understand how it all works. Fear not, after reading this article you'll be an expert in no time. So what do we mean when we say that 'companies in the hospitality industry are structured differently than most other sectors'? An individual property might be owned by one party, be managed by another, and carry the brand flag of a third company - but these relationships are kept behind the scenes. This article is not meant to be advanced so we're going to leave out other stakeholders like debt holders, asset managers and special servicers (you're welcome!). Most travelers will never even know that the front desk agent who checks them into a Hilton Garden Inn does not actually work for Hilton Worldwide! How can this be? The world of hotel management is complex, so in this article we’ll break down the key components of this facet of the industry. We’ll dive into what exactly hotel management companies do, how they make money, and who the major players are. By the end of the article, you’ll have a solid understanding of the hotel management landscape - whether you want to start your own hotel management company, partner with one, or begin a career working for one. Pictured: The James New York Nomad, a Highgate-managed hotel Defining the Hotel Operations Landscape: Owners, Franchisors, and Management Companies Running a hotel is no easy task, and to do it well, you need a diverse variety of skills and resources. To maximize performance, profitability, and the owner’s preferences, many hotels use various entities to manage different operational aspects. Hotels generally fall into one of four ownership categories: Privately owned and operated: For the owner, this model requires the most hands-on hotel operational work. At privately owned and operated hotels, the owner takes the lead on all aspects of the business: hiring staff, maintaining the physical asset, running a hotel marketing strategy, and more. The owner could be an individual or an ownership group. Leased: Unlike at privately owned and operated hotels, the owners of leased hotels lease the physical asset to a different company who handles all aspects of the operation. The owner simply collects rent for the building and has no involvement in the hotel side. Franchised: Owners who want a more hands-on approach and don’t want to turn their physical asset over to someone else to operate might opt for the franchise model. Franchisors sign agreements with hotel brands for access to benefits (or limitations, depending on how you look at them) like brand standards, marketing power, reservation systems, and design guidelines. Franchisors often run the day-to-day operations themselves, like hiring employees and handling payroll, and they pay a franchise fee to the brand. Popular hotel brand franchises include Hampton, Holiday Inn Express, and Red Roof Inn. Managed: At a managed hotel, the hotel owner signs a contract with a management company to take operational responsibilities off their plate. Unlike the franchise model, the management company handles everything related to day-to-day operations - even staffing, payroll, and marketing. Some managed hotels are branded, and the management company is then responsible for upholding brand standards. The owner typically signs the contract with the brand, though owners often include their management company in rebranding discussions. These management companies focus on growing RevPAR, NOI and EBITDA as they are paid a % of revenue and often receive bonuses based on hotel profitability. 'Corporate' hoteliers tend to focus on more analytical tasks like SWOT Analysis and setting SMART Goals while 'on property' workers focus on tactics, day-to-day management and service delivery. Pictured: Carneros Resort & Spa, managed by Aimbridge Hospitality Many hotels across the world have separate ownership and management entities in order to maximize the effectiveness of both components. Owners can focus on the real estate piece while management companies focus on the day-to-day operations. What Benefits Does a Hotel Management Company Provide? We’ve established that management companies run hotels on behalf of the owner, but what exactly does that mean? What do hotel management companies do? Depending on the specifics of the property, a hotel management company can: Hire employees and handle payroll via a platform like Hcareers Run all operational departments, like front office, housekeeping, sales, and food and beverage Manage relationships and billing with vendors Adjust room rates and run promotions Perform preventive maintenance on the property and recommend capital expenditures Develop budgets and produce financial reports for owners Curate the hotel’s online presence (reviews, social media) and implement marketing strategies In some cases, coordinate renovations or expansions If the hotel is branded, then some of these responsibilities are handled by the brand. Brands typically provide marketing support, on-property technology for staff and guests, and guidelines for furnishings and decor. Pictured: AC by Marriott Seattle, managed by Crescent Hotels & Resorts Regardless of brand affiliation, the management company is usually not involved in major decisions about the physical asset. The hotel owner or ownership group (often a real estate investment group) decides when to buy or sell properties. While owners pay hotel management companies for their services, using hotel management companies can save money in the long term. Hotel management companies are experts at hotel operations so they can often run daily operations more efficiently than private owner/managers - especially if the owner has little hotel industry experience. How Do Hotel Management Companies Make Money? As a hotel owner, one of the most important points of discussion when negotiating a contract with a management company is the fee structure. Hotel management companies make money in a few ways: an incentive fee, a base fee, and/or a percentage of gross revenue. Depending on the type of hotel, the services the management company provides, and the owner’s goals, the management company fee structure can vary greatly from property to property. When hotel management companies receive compensation that reflects the property’s performance, they have a vested interest in running the hotel at maximum efficiency. Pictured: Hilton Atlanta Airport, managed by HEI Hotels & Resorts Top 10 Hotel Management Companies There’s no “typical” hotel management company; you can find management companies that specialize in certain brands, certain types of hotels, and certain geographic areas. Some management companies operate a handful of hotels; some operate hundreds. Let’s explore the top ten management companies in the United States in terms of number of guestrooms managed (guestroom and property counts in the US, source): The largest hotel management company in the US is Plano, TX-based Aimbridge Hospitality, with a whopping 182,000+ guestrooms and 1,400+ hotels in their portfolio. Aimbridge merged with the former second-largest hotel management company, Interstate Hotels & Resorts, in 2019. This merger brought around 80,000 rooms and 500 properties into Aimbridge’s portfolio. Aimbridge’s hotels are mostly Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt branded properties in US and Caribbean markets. Aimbridge is the largest operator of these brands in the world. Aimbridge recently launched the AIMClean program to ensure hotel staff are sufficiently trained in health and safety protocols. Aimbridge also provides renovation management, asset management, and consulting services. Coming in at #2 is Hyatt Hotels. You may be thinking, “wait, how can Hyatt be on this list if other companies manage Hyatt properties too?” Hyatt actually manages about ⅔ of all Hyatt properties, with 61,217 guestrooms and 372 hotels under corporate management. Hyatt is based in Chicago, IL, and their managed portfolio includes Hyatt brands in 65 countries worldwide, including boutique hotels in the Unbound Collection and Destination Hotels portfolios. Like Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) manages some of their own hotels - 301 properties and 57,804 guestrooms, to be exact. However, IHG takes an asset-light approach and only manages a small percentage of their 5,800+ hotels worldwide, which include brands like Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn. IHG’s headquarters are in Denham, United Kingdom. The fourth-largest hotel management company in the US is Highgate, which is the largest hotel management company in New York City. Highgate manages 10% of the hotel inventory in the Big Apple, and that’s also where their headquarters are. Highgate’s portfolio is made up of independent and branded hotels in major US markets like New York City, Miami, and San Francisco, with a total of 142 properties and 37,307 rooms. Crescent Hotels & Resorts takes the #5 spot, with 28,137 guestrooms and 103 hotels. Crescent is based in Fairfax, VA, and they manage Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, and Hilton brands in upscale to luxury categories, plus independent hotels affiliated with soft brands, in the US and Canada. Crescent’s portfolio includes notable independent properties like the Mayfair Hotel in Los Angeles and the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach. Similar to Crescent, HEI Hotels & Resorts also manages Marriott, Hilton, IHG, and independent properties in urban markets and vacation destinations across the US, with 23,900 rooms and 79 hotels in total. Norwalk, CT-based HEI manages a wide range of properties from select service hotels to luxury resorts. Headquartered in Boston, Pyramid Hotel Group, #7 on our list, has quite an international footprint. Pyramid operates full-service, select-service, and independent hotels in the US, the Caribbean, Ireland, and the UK. The company’s portfolio includes Marriott, Hilton, IHG, and Wyndham brands, with a total of 91 hotels and 23,493 guestrooms. Pyramid has expertise in brand transitions and conversions. While some management companies work with a full spectrum of hotels, Island Hospitality Management’s portfolio of 177 hotels and 22,811 rooms include mostly select-service brands, such as Residence Inn and Homewood Suites. Island operates Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott properties across the US, and the company is based in West Palm Beach, FL. Crescent’s Fairfax, VA-based neighbor, Crestline Hotels & Resorts, takes the #9 position, with 118 hotels and 17,250 guestrooms in its portfolio. Crestline manages Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott properties across the US that range from select-service hotels to high-end boutiques. Crestline has won numerous awards, including Marriott’s “Renovation of the Year” 3 times! Another Texas-based management company, Remington operates primarily Hilton and Marriott properties, all located in the US, with their headquarters in Dallas. Remington’s portfolio includes 16,918 guestrooms and 86 hotels - all of which use contactless key systems. As you can see from this list, no two management companies are the same. Each one has their own strengths and advantages, which means owners can choose a management company that closely fits their needs. How to Choose a Hotel Management Company Hotel management companies vary greatly in terms of the services they offer, the relationships they have with brands, and their specific areas of expertise. As an owner, you’ll want to partner with a management company who has expertise related to your specific hotel asset and your goals. Are you planning a renovation? Then you’ll want to choose a management company who has experience with renovations. Do you own an independent luxury resort? Then you might not want to partner with a management company whose portfolio consists of only Residence Inns and Hamptons. Pictured: Residence Inn Orlando Lake Buena Vista, managed by Remington When comparing hotel management companies, we recommend comparing a few specific areas: Brand relationships: Is the management company a preferred partner of the brand you want to work with? Management companies that have built strong alliances with brands know the ins and outs of the brand standards, are well acquainted with the brand’s key team members, and can help new owners navigate the branding process. Services and expertise: Besides day-to-day operations, do you want the management company to take on additional responsibilities? Some management companies also offer services like asset management, renovation management, Portfolio composition: What kinds of hotels does the management company have in its portfolio? If the hotels in a management company’s portfolio are similar to yours (and are generating good results!), then you can be confident that the management company will do a good job with yours. Look at not only the hotel brands, but also the geographic locations (urban vs. rural, coastal vs. midwestern), the ages of the properties (historic vs. brand new), the target guest segments (business vs. group vs. leisure), and property amenities (pools, golf courses, spas, restaurants, etc.). Performance: Does the management company actually deliver results? Management companies should be forthcoming with case studies and testimonials from properties in their portfolio. Based on these documents, you can better assess whether the management company is the right fit for your business goals. An Overview of Hotel Management Careers Looking to build a career in the hotel industry? Perhaps you just finished your bachelor’s degree at a top hotel school and want to reverse engineer your path towards lucrative management jobs or maybe you’re an industry veteran looking for professional development opportunities to get you into corporate America and off property. In addition to working for the big brands like Hilton and Marriott, management companies offer some compelling career tracks for professionals with a variety of goals. Hotel management companies hire employees to work on-property in all hotel departments, and they also hire corporate employees who often work at their corporate headquarters. Hotel management company jobs on the corporate level include: Cluster revenue management teams with analysts or managers (centralized yield management is a big value add of management companies) Interior designers Contract administrators Financial management analysts Accountants IT managers Human resources managers Area directors or cluster general managers Hotel managers (GMs) Restaurant management and food service (often multi-unit) Event management and sales professionals Unlike on-property employees, corporate staff typically oversee or work with multiple properties at the same time. It’s not uncommon for corporate positions like revenue managers, sales managers, or IT managers to oversee dozens of properties - possibly scattered across the country. If you’re drawn to the hotel industry to build relationships with guests and enjoy the on-property camaraderie, note that corporate positions at hotel management companies are often very different than positions at the hotels they manage. The corporate roles are usually based in an office and reflect a typical office culture. On the plus side, corporate employees typically work standard business hours and receive time off on holidays, while on-property employees work less regular schedules and often on holidays. -- The travel industry and more specifically the hotel sector is filled with a variety of rewarding career paths from event planning to the culinary arts. Whether you're new to the industry, a hospitality student at Cornell University of even a Marriott International veteran of 20 years - there's always something new to learn in this dynamic and rapidly evolving space. Whether you’re researching hotel management companies to find your next business partner or to find your next career, you can surely find one that fits your criteria. Do you have any questions that we didn’t answer? We’d love to hear them!