This week we’re talking about mergers in the hotel industry.

Between Expedia’s $1.3 billion purchase of Orbitz earlier this year, coupled with more recent mergers between Marriott and Starwood and this week’s acquisition of Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel by Accor, the frenzy of consolidation happening in the hotel industry shows no signs of slowing down.

But beyond simply padding investors pockets, a more fundamental question about the activity remains to be answered: what impact will these new hospitality players have on traveler loyalty programs and hotel room prices? Read on below for all of this week’s top stories.

Hotel customers worry about impact of recent merger activity on prices, points
Between Expedia’s purchase of Orbitz and the recent Marriott and Starwood merger, 2015 has witnessed a frenzy of consolidation in the hospitality industry. But while these moves may be good for shareholders, the pace of consolidation also has many travelers rightly concerned about how it may impact room prices and loyalty programs moving forward. Given how poorly consolidation played out for customers in the airline industry, marketers would be wise to get ahead of the issue now. Read more

Online travel agencies increase ancillary sales by 85% versus a year ago
Sales of “ancillary” services are one of the hottest growth sectors of the travel industry, with airlines and hotels scrambling to charge extra fees for services like seat selection and check-in. One type of company that hasn’t profited as handsomely from the shift towards ancillaries are online travel agencies (OTAs), which struggled to sell and merchandize these extra fees in their marketplaces. According to new research from Amadeus IT Group, that is all changing. As Amadeus reports, OTAs saw an 85% increase in ancillaries sold via their platforms in the first nine months of 2015 Read more

Why digital marketing often fails for hotels
Between Google keyword campaigns and social media efforts, lots of hoteliers are already active using digital marketing to reach potential guests. But as a new POV this week suggests, the majority of these digital marketing efforts lack an overarching vision, instead getting lost in the pursuit of ever-more novel technology. What’s needed, the author suggests, is digital marketing with strong grounding in old-school marketing tactics like brand positioning, audience segmentation and value proposition. Read more

Flight prediction app Hopper earns top awards from Apple
Apple recently released its list of the 10 best apps of 2015, with flight prediction app Hopper the only travel brand to receive top marks. The company’s CEO, Frederic Lalonde, suggests that the app’s simple user interface, coupled with its sophisticated flight pricing algorithms, have been critical to the app’s success both with Apple and with consumers, who have downloaded Hopper more than 1.5 million times. Read more

A behind-the-scenes look at Marriott’s content marketing machine
Marriott has received plenty of media attention in the past two years for its efforts to position itself as a media brand, using a calculated mix of content efforts like brand-produced TV shows, virtual reality experiments, YouTube shorts and blogs to try and drive awareness and bookings. A new profile this week provides some insights into how Marriott executes on this new content-focused marketing strategy, including a surprising decision not to build the majority of the brand’s content in-house. Read more

New Future of Travel 2016 report predicts on key industry trends for year ahead
There’s no shortage of year-end predictions about how the coming year will play out for travel brands. According to a recently released report on emerging travel trends for 2016, tools that let travelers virtually try products and experiences before purchase, along with services that provide instant gratification of traveler needs, will gain increasing acceptance in the year to come. Read more

Photo Credit: A wave of industry consolidation is taking hold of the hospitality industry. Will travelers lose out among all the deal-making? Flickr