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Despite stalled growth in China, Brazil and Russia, a wave of newly middle-class travelers from the BRICs and beyond will start visiting international destinations in the coming decades — dwarfing the numbers we’ve seen thus far.
Whether Traxo is the company that ends up bringing personalized hotel recommendations to throngs of travelers or another company does it, this is where online and mobile travel is heading. The airlines are trying to do this, as well.
Traxo, the itinerary management service and loyalty program tracker, began delivering curated and personalized hotel recommendations based on travelers’ loyalty status, past bookings, submitted hotel reviews, and a variety of other factors.
A traveler who may have elite status in HiltonHonors and prefers to stay at airport hotels would get different hotel recommendations after conducting a search on the Traxo website than would a traveler who is a casual member of La Quinta Returns who usually stays downtown.
These personalized recommendations are optional, and can be turned off, but if Traxo users want to view them, they’ll see three hotels in search results, and can choose to view seven more.
For example, the following are the three recommendations that two different users might view for a Chicago hotel search for April 8 to 10.
It’s the 4-star Westin Chicago River North as the top result for one user, and the 3-star Chicago’s Essex Inn for another, based on information about their loyalty programs, booking patterns and user reviews that they have chosen to share with Traxo.
Traxo can offers these personalized recommendations because users enter their loyalty programs, which Traxo tracks and updates, and can agree to have Traxo organize their past and future trips, as well.
The way it works is that Traxo serves up these hotel recommendations directly within its itinerary pages when it sees that the user has booked a flight, but still needs a hotel. Coupled with any meetings or car rentals in the traveler’s itinerary, Traxo therefore has a lot of intelligence around the traveler’s upcoming trip.
Andres Fabris, Traxo’s CEO, says the usual way online travel agencies display hotel results is “price-led or margin-led, with the most profitable inventory shown first. We think that does a disservice to customers.”
For example, here are the one-size-fits-all hotel search results that Expedia.com displays for Chicago hotels for an April 8 to 10 stay.
The second hotel displayed is an advertisement for the 2-star Sleep Inn Tinley Park, which incidentally is the 8th of nine hotels in Tinley Park that are reviewed on TripAdvisor. And, the hotel is a 40- to 45-minute drive from the Magnificent Mile.
The Sleep Inn Tinley Park may be a profitable advertisement for Expedia, but is hardly helpful for all but the most cost-conscious travelers seeking a Chicago hotel stay.
Ironically, when Traxo users view the personalized search results and click on the Select button, they would navigate to a co-branded Traxo-Expedia site hosted by the Expedia Affiliate Network to book the property. Traxo would earn revenue from this affiliate relationship with Expedia.
One of the cool things about the Traxo Factor, the “patent pending intelligence engine” behind the personalized hotel recommendations, is that it is geared to be dynamic, learning more about the traveler and improving as time passes, Fabris says.
Traxo’s hotel search results also show TripAdvisor ratings.
Traxo’s new hotel product fits in with the curation trend that Skift pointed to in its report, The 14 Trends That Will Define Travel in 2014.
HotelTonight, for one, is well-known for its curation as users of the same-day hotel booking app only view a handful of hotels per market.
Sam Shank, the HotelTonight CEO, says these results are also personalized based on a user’s location.
For example, depending on availability and other factors, a traveler in a Starbucks in the Wall Street area in New York City would view a different set of hotel recommendations than would a traveler riding along in a taxi on the Upper West Side.
This is an early step in personalization for HotelTonight, with much more to come, Shank adds.
What impact will Traxo’s personalized recommendations have on the travel industry? Founded in 2008, Traxo’s user base is relatively small, but it is an early mover in a trend that will gain a lot of momentum as users seek relief from a glut of cookie-cutter and impersonal hotel options.