Flip.to on the road: Expedia Partner Conference

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you may have seen my recap from the Expedia Hackathon when I had the opportunity to be a guest judge before the Partner Conference kicked off the following day. Since then, I’ve had time to reflect with the team about the experience.

booth + Mask
Interested hoteliers stop by the Flip.to booth


Conference kickoff
It was great seeing familiar faces, and this was without a doubt the biggest and best Expedia Partner Conference I’ve ever attended. The atmosphere was buzzing with an incredible mix of hoteliers and vendors, and we definitely had our hands full with over 3,800 in attendance.

From the first day, I was graciously welcomed by Expedia executives and staff. You could feel throughout the entire conference that Expedia was seriously open on creating more successful hotels through strong partnerships and innovation. That focus permeated into everyone who was in attendance, which elevated the experience and conversations.

Our booth was jumping with activity from hoteliers that were receptive and deeply intrigued by the idea of advocacy. We explained that Flip.to starts the conversation between a hotel and a potential guest like never before–with authentic, personal experiences from previous guests’ stories. This idea of building an ever-growing team of advocates who have a massive impact on a hotel’s reach and bottomline truly resonated with everyone.

Omnia + Mask
Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace

We had one person stop by our booth and point out a photo of bikes on a beach during a live implementation of Adrift’s Photo Explorer. In the past, a hotel like Adrift would mention “free bikes” as an extra bonus or amenity. However, with Flip.to, Adrift is able to introduce a potential guest to the experience of a free bike–with multiple guest photo’s capturing the wanderlust that comes with it.

The conference wrapped up with a closing party at the Omnia Nightclub at Caesar’s Palace. From the morphing chandelier, panoramic views of the Las Vegas Strip, and the great company, it couldn’t have been a better way to end such a tremendous conference.

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Brian hits the jackpot
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Ricky snags a picture with Gordon Ramsay


Some other antics

It’s only natural to play a little when you’re in Vegas. A couple Flip.to folks had some luck on the slots, but the luckiest person of all was Ricky, our Director of Partnerships.

Being that Ricky is a rabid Gordon Ramsay rooter, he and Account Executive, Danielle, had lunch at the Gordon Ramsay Pub and Grill. It must have been the luck that was flowing through the team, but their waiter pointed out that Ramsay was in the restaurant that very day celebrating the 3rd anniversary of the restaurant. After hearing this news, he quickly snagged a photo with his favorite celebrity chef before he headed back into the kitchen. (Nobody can turn down Ricky.)

Again, our team and I are incredibly pleased with the experience at the Expedia Conference. The crowd was a great mix of old and new friends and great opportunity to share the power of advocacy to hoteliers worldwide.

The President’s seal of approval at the Expedia Hackathon

Judges panel via @Expedia
The judges panel via @Expedia

Expedia Hackathon took place this week in Las Vegas, and I was happy to be able to sit in on the judging panel. Joined by Toni Portmann (DHISCO), Simon Lenoir (Rezdy), and Sara Hill (The Mill), it was an incredible experience.

Techies from around the world presented projects that utilize Expedia’s APIs, which can be used to book hotels, flights, and cars as well as communicate travel trends and things to do in a specific area. In the end, judging was based on the following criteria:

  • Implementation completeness
  • Creativity (innovation/originality)
  • Useful application of the content (business value add)
  • Application to travel industry

I was blown away by the entries that we reviewed—many from the best-of-the-best in the hospitality tech industry. It was neck-and-neck, but the top two entries to prevail came out of SmartHOTEL and Sabre Hospitality.

1st Place–SmartHOTEL

The team from SmartHOTEL took first place with SmartTRIP, an application to help guests create a multi-step package—including hotels, flights, and activities—all through one portal that offers the user multiple packages to select.

SmartTRIP tapped into the creation of the ultimate guest experience—helping travelers create customized packages based completely on their preferences. It’s a great idea that lets the guest realize everything they want in a trip, up front.

At Flip.to, we see every day that experiences inspire travel for guests. They’re a huge component when it comes time to book, and this aspirational model is what continues to drive us to innovate for hotels.

2nd Place–Sabre Hospitality

The team from Sabre Hospitality took second with EVA (Expedia Voice Assistant). An application that runs on Amazon Echo, EVA offers hotel Managers a quick, unobtrusive way to get updates on the health, and promotions of their hotel by simply asking the question out loud. The team showed how revenue managers could get live updates on inventory, market share, fair share, and missed opportunities in an instant. Managers could even create simple promos based on the insight they gathered from a quick chat with EVA.

The judges loved the out-of-the-box thinking that the Sabre team brought with the Amazon Echo integration—it was really innovative and fun to see in action.

Look for a full wrap-up of the Expedia Partner Conference coming soon from the team as we return. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter for the latest updates coming out of Las Vegas!

The not so chilly chili cook-off

The aprons were tied, the Crock Pots were in-line, and the heat was ablaze during Flip.to’s First-Ever Chili Cook-Off. With chilly weather (74˚) sweeping across Florida, there wasn’t a better time for a warm bowl of chili topped with ooey gooey cheese and a dollop of sour cream (unless you are Ed who despises anything with sour cream.) Plus, office bragging rights were on the line, which hold a lot of weight around here!


For some, it was about trying the newest recipes they found online the night before or maybe stopping at Wendy’s and asking to fill their Crock Pot. For the seasoned veterans, it was about cooking recipes passed down from generations and toiling over perfection for hours, days, or even weeks! Contestants were starry-eyed and hopeful, however, they were unaware of the domination that was about to pursue.

Everyone was given a ballot to cast their votes for Team Favorite, Best Texture, Best Color, Best Consistency, Best Spice, Best Flavor, and Best Aroma. After the votes were counted, the winners are (drum-roll):


Overall, the hard work paid off (mainly for Rosana) and the team got to eat some pretty darn good chili. I mean, look at those happy Flip.to-ers!

chili-cookoff-teamAfter the tastings were done, votes tallied and the TUMS taken, all-in-all things didn’t get too fiery. The bar was set high thanks to the winners’ Martha Stewart like chili-cooking skills. Truly, everyone was a winner–even the slackers who didn’t participate, which I can say because I was one of them. Until next time!


Flip.to on the road: Lanyon Live

Last month, Lanyon Live wrapped up in Dallas—my first hospitality industry event, and an incredible one to kick-off at. It was “three days of inspiration”
featuring sessions from some of the industry’s well-known thought leaders, and expert speakers.

Going into the event, I was excited and nervous in anticipation for what was to come. Speakers, breakouts, networking—there was so much to take in! By the end of the event, my expectations were completely blown out of the water. The quality of the event, along with the outstanding speakers gave the audience (and me!) a ton to take away.

Terrace Pool at The Fairmont Dallas
Terrace Pool at The Fairmont Dallas

Day one got started at the Welcome Reception at The Fairmont Dallas. Hosted at the Terrace Pool, the skyline views of the city were needless to say, amazing. It was complemented by great conversation. Spanning from worldwide groups like Sonesta and Mövenpick, to local hotels like Crowne Plaza Dallas Downtown and The Joule, (to name just a few) the event was attended by an outstanding variety of hospitality professionals at the top of their field.

The crowd was a mix of old colleagues being reacquainted, and the introduction of new friends. Being a first-timer, I’d have to say that the genuine warm welcome I received was more than I could have ever expected. After all, this is hospitality—but the truth is the reception from the professionals in this industry stood out!

The next two days were buzzing with inspiring talks that offered huge value to the attendees. Keynote speakers Lori Greiner of QVC & Shark Tank, and Elizabeth Pinkham of Salesforce, both drove home key points on marketing strategy and success. To quote Greiner, “Don’t take no for an answer.” Charge ahead by staying focused on your goal, but be flexible enough to transform where needed to attain success. Lanyon’s advisory board panel also noted to keep in mind that you control the satisfaction and value your guests receive—being focused on your goal will help achieve that success.

Flip.to President, Edward St. Onge, giving a presentation at Lanyon Live

Lanyon Live’s breakouts covered topics in every corner of the hospitality industry. With 32 to choose from, there was something for everyone attending the event. Flip.to’s own President, Edward St. Onge, led a key session on group advocacy. Covering how hotels can drive more revenue with the power of a story well told, he shared how to use social in a far more effective way, letting advocates introduce your hotel to massive audiences of potential future guests. The driver? Incredible content by way of authentic, truly compelling guest stories. Not only does it give hotels more reach, but better reach—tapping the right guests for your hotel.

The Joule Hotel in Dallas, who attended the event, comes to mind when it comes to being tapped into the guest experience. This revitalized 1920s landmark building set in the heart of Dallas is an outstanding property with art, boutique shopping, great design and award-winning food and drink. Covering everything from culture and style, to local eating and wellness, their 1530 Main blog is a local hub for all things Dallas.

I also had the ability to sit in a second breakout about social by Sahana Jayaraman, SVP and Head of Digital & Content Marketing at Eastwick Communications. She touched on the simultaneously loved and hated hashtag. While they are important, they certainly aren’t everything if you aren’t using them right, even leading to buzzkills.

Lanyon Live Keynote
Lanyon Live Keynote

Another stand out for me came from Ebony Venters and Michelle Fisher at Lanyon. “From Funnel to Pipeline” talked about the importance of aligning sales with marketing, along with how best to nurture warm leads into becoming a customer. This resonated strongly with the Flip.to team, paralleling many of the points from RevPAR Hacking, our latest ebook on where the future of revenue management and marketing lies.

Overall, the themes remained clear: an authentic brand story builds a true relationship with your past and future guests, whether the channel is social media, your website, or otherwise. And it makes sense—the hospitality industry is built on the guest experience, so making it personal makes for good business, too.

A sneak peek at Group Advocacy

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes here at Flip.to. Fueled by our very own bean-to-cup coffee machine, (more on that here,) our team of product designers and engineers are constantly working to enhance the platform and create a better experience for our users. Group advocacy is the latest example of this innovation, as we aim to weave advocacy into every level of the guest experience.

The new Group Advocacy is a big enhancement in a hotel’s ability to use advocacy with group business. Hotels can now easily import events, create and manage campaigns to target groups with specific incentives, track statistics across campaigns, and more.

So what does this all mean for our hotel partners? Well, now all of your hotels’ weddings, meetings, or corporate groups are stories ready to be told by these guests to their friends and family. And it’s through those stories that your hotel can reach more travelers worldwide, and deliver each one a unique, inspired experience that takes them down the path of becoming a future guest.

This is thanks to our integration with Lanyon Passkey—part of Lanyon’s Smart Hotel Cloud software—that lets hotels streamline and automate meeting and event bookings. Used by thousands of hotels, destinations, and meeting-planners worldwide, it’s easy to manage hotel accommodations for events of all sizes.

There’s more to follow, but enjoy a taste of Group Advocacy below. (For current customers, log in and take a peek at this new feature on your account!)

Group Advocacy
Group Advocacy