In other news….

Accor launches new Arabic website

To cater for the high growth outbound market of Middle East customers, Accorhotels.com is adding an Arabic language version to its booking website. This expands the site options to a total of 31 geo-localized versions in 16 languages. In addition to Arabic, the site was already available in English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese, Brazilian-Portuguese, Korean, Chinese, Turkish, Indonesian, Russian and Polish.

In addition to the Arabic website interface which was developed in accordance with the local cultural sensibilities, Accor has also set-up dedicated Arabic call center lines to help guests with online bookings. 

Arabic is the 5th most used language in the world and an official language in more than 20 countries with approximately 422 million speakers, according to figures from UNESCO (The United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

According to the World Tourism Organization, outbound travel from the Middle-East has more than quadrupled in the last twenty years.

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Accor currently has 62 hotels (15,100 rooms) and 7 brands in 10 countries in the Middle East, with 30 more hotels and more than 7,000 rooms currently under development

Marriot launches new initiative in the meetings market

Marriott Hotels has launch what it calls Meetings Imagined, a concept that airs to reinvent how meetings are planned by making them more "visual, social, and purposeful".

Featuring an online platform, MeetingsImagined.com provides expert tips, the latest meeting trends, and hundreds of inspirational images to spark creativity – all curated by the objective of the meeting.

Using the website, customers can collaborate with hotels to design custom experiences or view signature experiences featured at the participating test hotels, as well as post favorites images on social media sites, such as Pinterest and Facebook.

The concept is the result of research showing key shifts in how the next generation customer works collaboratively and uses technology, both of which are seen as an integral part of how things are accomplished today. 

After speaking with many of Marriott's next generation customers and analyzing the over 40,000 meetings hosted at Marriott's hotels yearly, seven purposes for meetings emerged: celebrate, decide, educate, ideate, network, produce and promote. 

Rather than focusing just on dates, rates and room layouts, Meetings Imagined takes a holistic approach, honing in on the specific purpose of the meeting to create and design a more engaging experience, that reflects the changing way people are working today. 

The site allows anyone planning a meeting or event to infuse creativity and purpose into their gathering down to the smallest detail. It features images some of the best experiences Marriott has hosted around the world. Planners can tailor food and beverage, setup, technology and experiences based on the ultimate goals of each meeting to design more inspiring and engaging experience for attendees. 

It also offers tips for successful meetings from ice breakers, to foods and music to set the mood Here is an example:

Tip:  Did you know that the number of beats per minute in the music you play can create a specific mood? For instance 35-50 beats per minute relaxes the mind; 65-70 beats per minute helps focus attention; and 70-120 beats per minute energizes you.

Five Marriott Hotels within the United States will be testing the new Meetings Imagined concept and co-creating with our customers, these include: the Chicago Marriott O'Hare, Tysons Corner Marriott, Gaithersburg Marriott Washingtonian Center, Orlando World Center Marriott, and the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

The concept is also available in Europe at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square, Paris Marriott Rive Gauche, Munich Marriott Hotel and the Amsterdam Marriott Hotel and will expand to more Marriott Hotels in 2014.

To see specific Idea Starters from participating hotels and a full list of locations, visit MeetingsImagined.com.

Groupon Getaways launches 2014 with 'alternative' destinations and deals

Groupon Getaways, Groupon's collection of travel offerings, has curated a series of flash sale deals that feature a variety of destinations.

"We're constantly seeking ways to surprise and delight shoppers, and this series of travel experiences is meant to inspire extraordinary, memorable yet affordable vacations," said Simon Goodall, VP and GM of Groupon Getaways. "The beginning of a new year is a popular time to start planning travel and we're excited to offer some alternative destination ideas."

A few of the travel destinations include:

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