Hotelient seeking to disrupt the internet booking engine market

From €2000 per month in `booking engine fees to zero in less than five years while increasing direct bookings.

Yes, we know of one small 10 room boutique hotel in central London that was paying an average monthly fee of around €2000 per month to its booking engine provider. Today, Hotelient can service that need without charging commissions or a monthly subscription.

It used to be normal for software providers to charge a setup fee, a percentage of the booking and if they could get away with it, a maintenance fee.

With the advent of cloud computing, the cost of technology has plummeted, a bit like the London FTSE the day after Brexit. The only difference is that, unlike the FTSE index, the prices suppliers can charge hotels for technology will not recover.

The ongoing trend has been to lower the costs which are welcome news for all hoteliers.

Hoteliers have a desire to increase their direct online business. The first step is investing in a booking engine. There are some booking engines currently available on the market that, for a modest monthly fee can be integrated within your website. However, these tend to be limited in flexibility and often become outdated relatively quickly as technology advances. The costs can quickly rack up for a fully featured booking engine with a CRS and connectivity to all channels.

Furthermore, hotels are starting to realise that their online reputation is becoming an essential part of their marketing strategy. No longer is it enough just to rely exclusively on Tripadvisor as they are also targeting your guests to transact through their website, sell your rooms and charge you for the privilege of you sending them your prospect to see your reviews. That’s the best case scenario. Worse case, your prospect could end up booking with a competitor on Trip Advisor, thanks to you sending them there. A brilliant business model for Trip Advisor stockholders. Not so good for hotels.

Hotels should have a business process in place to follow up with guests and ask for feedback. They need an easy way to monitor and respond to reviews while making sure that positive sentiment is shared on the review sites that matter and social media. Ideally, this should be automated to avoid mistakes and to minimise costs. Set and forget reputation management and marketing.

The costs of guest acquisition have been steadily increasing while the cost of booking engines have been drifting down.

Hotelient is disrupting the booking engine market by offering hotels a booking engine that is commission and subscription free. The underlying booking engine technology is already in use with several hundred hotels ranging from 5-star city centre hotels to independent resorts. A number of hotel groups also rely on the technology.

Hotelient advocates that hotels should be investing in the attraction of guests to their web site rather than investing in technology which completes a transaction. Our new booking engine includes an industry-leading CRS that offers connectivity to OTA’s and GDS. The guest interface has been refined over several years to allow the guest to complete their transaction with the minimum of clicks on a desktop and mobile platforms. Hotelient works with its clients on guest acquisition strategies email marketing, reputation, targeted Facebook and Google ad-campaigns.

Hotelient founder John Kearney, said “Hotels by nature are slow to change technology. We still see some hotels on an outdated commission model paying thousands of euros per year. That all changes today. They can adopt our proven technology, without risk. We have created a strategy for hoteliers to optimise their direct bookings. Fundamentally the cost of booking engines has been coming down over the last few years to reach a point where offering this as free service is the next logical step. It is part of our strategy to increase our client base across Europe and the US. When you offer potential guests a seamless booking experience, with social proof at the point of booking, you maximise your direct booking potential. We also see an opportunity educating hotels on how they can drive relevant low-cost traffic to their branded website and receive direct commission/subscription free bookings.

Attend our webinar where you will discover how to obtain our “free for life booking engine technology,” and how to easily increase your average review rating in a week, without increasing your service levels.

If you would like to find out more, come and join our Webinar on the 26th July at 11 am clicking this link.

Is your hotel in need of a comprehensive marketing strategy to lower your hotel’s dependency on OTAs? Get in touch with us at info@hotelient.net

 

Why Independent Hoteliers should take note of hotel chains direct booking´s drive

Over the past few months, we have started to see a shift in sentiment and resources from the major hotel chains to encourage their clients to book directly.  Loyalty programs that were once afterthoughts and in some cases did not have any meaningful benefits to its members are starting to be restructured to encourage and help guests, that chose to book from the brand website.  Over the past year, we had begun seeing compelling new ads from the chains actively seeking this, when once they were slightly cautious of going up against the all powerful Priceline & Expedia.  So much so that the former CEO of Priceline recently came out with warnings for the major chains, focusing on getting their guests to book directly, clearly a nerve has been touched.

Changing Times ahead

Hotel chains are focusing on direct bookings is due to a variety of reasons.

  1. Lower dependency on OTA´s
  2. Competition by OTA´s on loyalty programs,
  3. Millennials – with up to 64 percent stating that they sometimes book directly on supplier sites (Source: Phocuswright).
  4. More and more Business travelers are booking direct, 39% in the UK 33% in France and 35% in Germany and
  5. Potential threat from Airbnb.

We also see chains like Accor, openly targeting independent hotels to join their franchise programs.  With the technological purchases of companies such as Fastbooking they have made over the last 12-18 months, can now offer a credible offering to independent hotels looking to compete in the online travel space.  Accor´s CEO interview late last year is a compelling read

hilton-stop-clicking-around-wi-fi.jpg

As consolidation within the hotel industry continues apace, Marriott´s & Starwood merger can now offer the biggest selection of hotels who can benefit from their revamped loyalty program which drives direct bookings.  We are starting to see that not only loyalty program members getting free nights and other perks, such as free high-speed WIFI but also it allows the hotel chains to personalize pricing and marketing too.

Expedia must have seen the writing on the wall by the fact that Hilton & Marriott recent agreement with them no longer guarantees Last room Availability as well as a reduction in margins.  This has allowed the chains also to be bolder in actively targeting direct bookings.

Age of dependency for Independent Hotels

So for the independent hotelier, as I covered in a previous article are still sleepwalking into an age of increased dependency.  This though can be reversed if you take heed and start to learn from the chains, who are starting to take the OTA´s head on as well as introducing common sense practices to increase your direct bookings.

In reality, it could well be as loyalty programs become stronger along with the immense driving power of Marriott and their investment in content marketing strategies as well as personalized marketing, for some hotels in particular locations, joining as a franchise hotel to a chain could become the straightforward choice.

But what about if you want to remain independent, to provide that unique personal experience and differentiate from the rest?

Campbell1_zpsf10ad52b

Then your choice could not be simpler.  You as a hotel have to map urgently out a clear marketing strategy that includes the answers to the following questions:-

  • Can Users find me online?
  • Does my web make it easy for a guest to book me?
  • Am I capturing guest data in the right way?
  • What am I doing to promote my brand online?
  • How to I communicate with my guests?
  • What incentive do I offer them to book direct?
  • What am I doing to convert OTA reservations into Direct ones?

Where I believe hotels, in general, have failed to do is to create value for their customers in the way they find you online and booking process for hotel rooms, with many solutions still aimed at appeasing the revenue manager rather than the client.

If hoteliers are going to start to turn the dial away from increased dependency, they firstly have to connect with guests and connect with the non-residents who already have an existing relationship with your hotel.  Technologies like Social WIFI and concierge apps are excellent tools in this area.

Book-hotel.jpg

Talking with a host of general managers, it is clear they pride themselves on the quality of service they provide to their guests.  It is something in their DNA which keeps them at the hotel to ensure that the Wedding or events goes off without a hitch and view those smiling happy faces of the participants.  Where independent hoteliers have failed though is showing the same pride for the first impression your give to any prospective client and which more and more of your guests are using – ONLINE 

The Major chains are starting the fight back, keep paying attention and learn how your hotel too can start moving the dial back in your direction, or risk becoming even more dependent on intermediaries and probably even irrelevant in the future.

Talk to our team at Hotelient today and let us help you devise your online fight back strategy! Email info@hotelient.net for further information.

 

 

 

 

5 Simple steps that help promote your destination and increase your RevPar

Travellers are always looking for that something special, the lure of a swimming pool next to a bar that served Mojito´s to pictures of beautifully cooked food or it could just be that they fall in love with a hotels walk-in therapeutic shower.   For the traveller that is seeking inspiration or just a getaway from the daily stresses, they need to be captivated by what they see not only inside your hotel but also what is going on in your local area.

Having worked in hotels, one of our hardest battles is promoting the many great activities that take place in and around us.  There is so much going on all the time, but to ensure your hotel is up to date is always difficult when there are so many other priorities.  So how does a hotel provide a potential guest with that intoxicating view that makes them want to book that magical holiday or weekend break?

Here are five simple solutions that technology can you help

5709ed64c8f713e674648a63

1. HD Webcam

Webcams have been around for a while now, but taking a continuous image of your best view from afar such as your swimming pool, view over the city or iconic monuments can set you apart from your competition.  Guests like to feel they are already there.  What is a better story than showing off your beautiful weather with your guests diving into the crystal blue water of your swimming pool!  This technology can be embedded into your website, and as all the images are saved,  they can be used in any marketing material or just shared on to your social media.  Some great content to drive engagement.  In this video below, you can see some examples of time lapse videos that auto-generated, which could be the perfect tool for that Mice agent looking for examples on how your hotel prepare events!

2. Virtual Concierge

Providing up to date information has always proved challenging, with then the task of having to get that information on to your web and other channels.   Guests, once they have identified a possible destination like to research and see what is going on around your hotel, so the more information you provide, the more chance you have of convincing them to choose you.  For a city like London, which has numerous tourist attractions. It is imperative that Hotels keep up to date information on their website.  Companies like fiz.com offer hotels solutions in searching automatically and curating locally based content, which could save you a lot of time and resources.

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-10 a las 19.11.28.png

3. Smartphone Apps

Once a client has reserved at your hotel, they are most likely to download your concierge app and discover the many great services you have to offer.  I have covered this functionality in a previous article.  The main attraction being that you can communicate with your guest via Push notifications, which at present have 90% readability rates, much higher than any email campaign, in order inform of any events taking place in your hotel or surrounding area.

4.Virtual Reality (VR)

Still a relatively new concept, but will allow your guests to experience first-hand what it is like to be on your terrace bar at night time with views overlooking Times Square, or what is a wedding would be like at your resort.  We are already seeing destination bureaus starting to use this technology to get travellers a feel of what it is like in their part of the world.  Marriott has already launched “VRoom Service,” which allows guests (Currently only available at New York Marriott Marquis and the London Marriott Park Lane) to order a Samsung Gear VR headset, which is brought up to their room for 24 hours. The devices, which run on Samsung’s Milk VR platform, come pre-loaded with three videos that Marriott is calling “VR postcards.” which promotes destinations such as Chile & Bejing.

vroom-service-case-1.jpg

5. A Blog

We have seen hotels slowly start to curate content on guest experiences within the local area.  I believe that this is something all your staff can take part in, not writing the articles but provide opinions of local restaurants or recent visits to local monuments or museums, just make sure they take photos and videos of their experience.  Airbnb is leading the way and has been highly successful about sharing experiences of cities or locations from a guest perspective.  Marriott also launched there Traveller magazine traveler.marriott.com.  This recent article goes into more detail on how to help you build a content marketing strategy.

I am sure you can think of other ways; the main thing though is that hotels & resorts have to be more adept in the way they promote their local area by being proactive and offering travellers visually compelling arguments coupled with useful information and personal experiences.  After a stressful week at work, we sometimes need to be carried off to the place that takes us away from our daily routine.  Ensure that your hotel & resort make it easy for them to get there.

If you are interested in finding out more, email us info@hotelient.net or visit www.hotelient.net.

 

 

Is bidroom.com, Europe’s fastest growing OTA about to disrupt Booking.com and Expedia’s stranglehold, by connecting hotels directly with guests?

As Priceline and Expedia continue their consolidation as the two dominant Ota´s, who are currently at present purchasing up all their competitors around them.  Dependency for hotels on these two major companies will continue, especially if the rumors of Priceline´s possible acquisition of Tripadvisor prove to come true.  So it was a breath of fresh air when I caught up with Michael Ros and Casper Knieriem who are the founders of a new and exciting company called Bidroom.com, offering hotels the opportunity to gain lower commissions reservations, which in some cases could be less than what hotels are paying for receiving bookings directly online.

I sat down with Michael & Casper to find out more:-

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-03 a las 19.49.23

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

We are both entrepreneurs with a proven track record in the hospitality and travel industry. Having already founded a successful travel company together, TravelService, we possess a wealth of insider knowledge about the hotel sector and plenty of passion for driving the business forward.

(Michael) I have a lot of experience in negotiating at a corporate business level. I started my first company when I was 18. From the age of 24 I worked for four years for a large international enterprise and was responsible for a turnover of 45 million euros per year. After that, I founded the online travel agency Travelservice.

(Casper) After studying Business Administration at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam,  I started my outsourcing company for financial services, which I sold in 2007.  I also founded the online travel agency Travelservice along with Michael.

Foto Bidroom founders

How receptive have hoteliers been to Bidroom? 

Hotels are fed up with high commissions, restrictive contracts, and loss of control of their brands, and are desperate for alternatives to these domineering OTAs. Bidroom is the solution, allowing hotels to offer lower prices direct to customers and yet make more profit – a win-win for both sides. Bidroom can become the ‘white knight’ of a stressed industry, as well as the cheapest booking channel for guests.  Bidroom disrupts the high commission model by introducing a standard 2% commission for all hotels. Due to our exceptionally small fee, hotels all over the world have been eager to join our platform. Every day we are getting around 100 – 150 hotels who are signing up!

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-03 a las 19.50.19

What has been your progress to date?

We have launched a minimum viable product in January 2014 and received extensive press coverage and an overwhelmingly positive reaction from both hotels and customers. Since the launch, we have received international press coverage and was nominated for the Accenture Innovation Award, Sprout Challenger Award, Zoover Awards, and The Next Web Startup Awards.

There is clearly a need for a platform such as Bidroom. The pilot website covered only 60 cities. Hotels made over 12,000 offers to guests in 5 months – with no marketing spend at all. Bookings have been made, and we have clients who have used Bidroom several times. We have been working on a brand new website that addresses all the issues and recommendations of hotels and guests using our current pilot site, from January 2016 this new website was launched. Some figures:

Members using Bidroom: 432.000

Hotel which signed up:  +/- 12670

How are travelers discovering Bidroom?

Bidroom’s marketing is based on a cheeky but forceful message of ‘kicking out the middleman’ and getting the cheapest deals – direct from hotels. We will be the whistleblowers of this industry, following the marketing approach of companies like Transferwise.com (Foreign Exchange) and Uber. Online marketing will include Facebook advertising and promotions. Offline marketing will include in-flight magazines, trade fairs and guerrilla marketing campaigns.

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-03 a las 19.48.50

About Bidroom

Bidroom provides a platform that connects travelers in need of a hotel with hotels in need of guests. A platform that stands for simplicity, flexibility, and openness. A platform that brings an end to the hidden costs and hassle of traditional booking websites. No more frustration from comparing prices on multiple sites and searching the internet for the best deals. With Bidroom, guests always know they are receiving the lowest available rate for their booking.  Users are granted a direct overview of the prices listed on competitor websites so that they can make the right choice. Transparency is the core principle behind Bidroom.

We are on a mission to reinvent the way consumers book their stay. We believe that consumers always deserve the best prices. We believe hotels have the right to remain in control of their inventory and pricing. We strive to make the world of online booking a little easier by putting guests directly into contact with hotels.

Bidroom is a revolutionary hotel booking platform that connects travelers directly to hotels at no cost, so both sides get a better deal. Currently, when guests book a hotel online, up to 25 percent of the price they pay goes to the booking website, and not to the hotel. That’s just not fair, and it is time to put a stop to it. We are building Bidroom as a highly disruptive, transparent, global booking platform that is set to revolutionize the travel industry and finally create a fair, open way for customers to find great hotel deals, by decreasing removing the commission tot 2 percent and giving the middlemen the boot.

From speaking to Hotel Directors across Europe and their frustration at having little alternatives should get them signing up to companies like Bidroom over the coming months.  A new way of thinking for a new generation of reservations.

Visit Bidroom.com or email Michael michael@bidroom.com or Casper casper@bidroom.com for further information

An overview of Europe´s fastest growing OTA – Bidroom.com

As Priceline and Expedia continue their consolidation as the two dominant Ota´s, who are currently at present purchasing up all their competitors around them.  Dependency for hotels on these two major companies will continue, especially if the rumors of Priceline´s possible acquisition of Tripadvisor prove to come true.  So it was a breath of fresh air when I caught up with Michael Ros and Casper Knieriem who are the founders of a new and exciting company called Bidroom.com, offering hotels the opportunity to gain lower commissions reservations, which in some cases could be less than what hotels are paying for receiving bookings directly online.

I sat down with Michael & Casper to find out more:-

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-03 a las 19.49.23

Who are the founders and what are their backgrounds?

We are both entrepreneurs with a proven track record in the hospitality and travel industry. Having already founded a successful travel company together, TravelService, we possess a wealth of insider knowledge about the hotel sector and plenty of passion for driving the business forward.

(Michael) I have a lot of experience in negotiating at a corporate business level. I started my first company when I was 18. From the age of 24 I worked for four years for a large international enterprise and was responsible for a turnover of 45 million euros per year. After that, I founded the online travel agency Travelservice.

(Casper) After studying Business Administration at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam,  I started my outsourcing company for financial services, which I sold in 2007.  I also founded the online travel agency Travelservice along with Michael.

Foto Bidroom founders

 

How receptive have hoteliers been to Bidroom? 

Hotels are fed up with high commissions, restrictive contracts, and loss of control of their brands, and are desperate for alternatives to these domineering OTAs. Bidroom is the solution, allowing hotels to offer lower prices direct to customers and yet make more profit – a win-win for both sides. Bidroom can become the ‘white knight’ of a stressed industry, as well as the cheapest booking channel for guests.  Bidroom disrupts the high commission model by introducing a standard 2% commission for all hotels. Due to our exceptionally small fee, hotels all over the world have been eager to join our platform. Every day we are getting around 100 – 150 hotels who are signing up!

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-03 a las 19.50.19

What has been your progress to date?

We have launched a minimum viable product in January 2014 and received extensive press coverage and an overwhelmingly positive reaction from both hotels and customers. Since the launch, we have received international press coverage and was nominated for the Accenture Innovation Award, Sprout Challenger Award, Zoover Awards, and The Next Web Startup Awards.

There is clearly a need for a platform such as Bidroom. The pilot website covered only 60 cities. Hotels made over 12,000 offers to guests in 5 months – with no marketing spend at all. Bookings have been made, and we have clients who have used Bidroom several times. We have been working on a brand new website that addresses all the issues and recommendations of hotels and guests using our current pilot site, from January 2016 this new website was launched. Some figures:

Members using Bidroom: 432.000

Hotel which signed up:  +/- 12670

How are travelers discovering Bidroom?

Bidroom’s marketing is based on a cheeky but forceful message of ‘kicking out the middleman’ and getting the cheapest deals – direct from hotels. We will be the whistleblowers of this industry, following the marketing approach of companies like Transferwise.com (Foreign Exchange) and Uber. Online marketing will include Facebook advertising and promotions. Offline marketing will include in-flight magazines, trade fairs and guerrilla marketing campaigns.

Captura de pantalla 2016-04-03 a las 19.48.50

About Bidroom

Bidroom provides a platform that connects travelers in need of a hotel with hotels in need of guests. A platform that stands for simplicity, flexibility, and openness. A platform that brings an end to the hidden costs and hassle of traditional booking websites. No more frustration from comparing prices on multiple sites and searching the internet for the best deals. With Bidroom, guests always know they are receiving the lowest available rate for their booking.  Users are granted a direct overview of the prices listed on competitor websites so that they can make the right choice. Transparency is the core principle behind Bidroom.

We are on a mission to reinvent the way consumers book their stay. We believe that consumers always deserve the best prices. We believe hotels have the right to remain in control of their inventory and pricing. We strive to make the world of online booking a little easier by putting guests directly into contact with hotels.

Bidroom is a revolutionary hotel booking platform that connects travelers directly to hotels at no cost, so both sides get a better deal. Currently, when guests book a hotel online, up to 25 percent of the price they pay goes to the booking website, and not to the hotel. That’s just not fair, and it is time to put a stop to it. We are building Bidroom as a highly disruptive, transparent, global booking platform that is set to revolutionize the travel industry and finally create a fair, open way for customers to find great hotel deals, by decreasing removing the commission tot 2 percent and giving the middlemen the boot.

From speaking to Hotel Directors across Europe and their frustration at having little alternatives should get them signing up to companies like Bidroom over the coming months.  A new way of thinking for a new generation of reservations.

Visit Bidroom.com or email Michael michael@bidroom.com or Casper casper@bidroom.com for further information

 

Solving the Guest Data puzzle for hotels to increase Revenue & Guest Satisfaction

The amount of data we as individuals share online has increased year by year.  From what we post on Facebook or tweet on Twitter gives a little insight into the type of person we are.  Over the last few years, we have seen companies starting to take advantage of the numerous amount of data we share every day.  For example, Google started sending me emails to remind me to leave feedback on the level of service from shops and businesses I had visited recently.  Shopping Centres are now assessing what stores you visit to personalise messaging to match your interests.  The “Big Data” era is upon us, yet Hotels have been slow to react to this change because trying to capture data from their guests without being intrusive has always been a puzzle.

Keyboard with Big Data Button.

When I speak to Directors of Hotels, there is a belief that guests do not want to be disturbed, do not wish to fill in too many forms, clients do not like being asked too many questions about their stay.  But what about if by finding out just a little bit more about our guests, we can provide that unique personalised service that we all want to deliver.

So how can hotels achieve this in a cost-effective way and solve the Guest Data puzzle?  Here are a few ideas:-

yieldmanagementsupport.jpg__790x320_q85_crop_subsampling-2_upscale

CRM/PMS

Well, let’s start with the most complicated part first, yet one you can start straight away – Keeping up to date guest information on your CRM or PMS.  Training ALL your staff to help build a strong profile of your clients is paramount.  From dates of birthdays to allergies, this is vital to avoid asking the same questions everytime your regular guests stay with you.  Active communication between departments is key to complete guest profiles.  Simple I know, but so many hotels miss this part out.  How many hotels have sent you a birthday greeting? remembered that you had a nut allergy?,  or a Thank you gift for staying 5 or more times at your hotel?  These are little details that say a lot to a guest and can make all the difference as well as helping to build a direct relation with the hotel instead of always booking your hotel on their favourite OTA!

Now, that the hard part is out the way, now onto the easy part – Using Technology to capture data.

Family-hotel-wifi-690x300

Social WiFi

If your Hotel or Resort hosts guests, especially from foreign countries, most likely as soon as they arrive at the reception desk, they are pleading for the username and password to access the WIFI, so they avoid roaming charges and can connect their IPad to watch their favourite series on Netflix. Now instead of just handing over the code, allow them to connect to your WIFI network via their favourite social media account or fill in a short online form.   There are some significant benefits for your hotel or Resort by doing it this way:-

  1. They become a fan of one of your Social Media Channels
  2. Email address, Country of Origin, Sex, Age and Date of Birth are all stored (Great marketing resource)
  3. You can pinpoint where people connect, so if you are hosting a conference, you will be able to segment between conference visitors, wedding invitees and in-house guests to personalise messaging.
  4. Instant Notifications of any events taking place that evening straight to those that are connected online to your hotel.
  5. Find out how your visitors react due to different weather conditions as you can see where in your hotel they are connecting which is correlated with the actual weather on the day.

Building a marketing database, increasing your social media fans and informing your guests of significant events taking place while they are at your hotel are powerful tools.  Social Wifi also connects into to your existing infrastructure so an extremely affordable way to generate Revenue and guest data which could come in handy, especially if you are currently in need of justifying the investment in improving the speed of your WIFI, a current dilemma for hotels & resorts.

FOTOBLOG-825x340

Concierge Apps

As an hotelier, we are always thinking about ways to improve what we offer and deliver what our guests want.  We want to find out but at the same time, we do not wish to be intrusive during their stay with us.  A unique and relatively new way for hotels to reach out to the clients is via Apps that can take advantage of either GPS or IBeacon technology.  Say your client was entering your garden restaurant, the app will automatically send a notification to your customer which could ask their opinion, advise them of any special offers or what is the dish of the day.  We are seeing more and more each day; guests are using concierge apps to ask for extra pillows, room service or book taxis.  All of this data is stored; so you can gain a pattern of your regular guests to determine the everyday needs and wants so you have them ready for their next stay without even asking!

online-marketing-strategies-for-small-business

Yield Management

Award-winning software for booking engines can now source so much information, from lead times to average nights based on searches. From which page did they get to your booking engine or what was the weather like on the day they booked.  All fundamental questions so you can understand your Web visitors better.  By understanding what they are looking for, can enable you to promote the right deals and offers at the right time and obtain optimal rates on bookings.

By being smarter in the way you capture data, which you can then use to the benefit of your guests by providing a personalised service that will set you apart from the rest.  Guests share data all the time, Now it’s your turn to start to using it to enhance their experience with you and, of course, increase your overall revenue performance.

Require a strategy that enables you to understand better your guests whilst improving your hotels or resorts profitability?  Hotelient can help, email: info@hotelient.net to start the conversation.

 

Independent European Hotels are sleepwalking into an era of increased OTA dependency

For over 15 years that I have been within this industry, Independent hotels here in Europe have been always dependent on agencies, initially offline which then became online.  From the days of GTA (Gulliver Travel Associates) who were all dominant in the early days to now where booking.com has to some extent replaced GTA as the agent where hotels have allowed them to take over their inventory.

b18b0955-303a-4038-a0fb-75a3934e9d11

We are though entering a new phase, where it has been clear for some time that Booking.com & Expedia have been implementing two very different strategies to maintain growth and market share.  Expedia has been expanding by acquisition with its latest buys of Orbitz, Travelocity, and Home & Away while Booking.com has been diversifying with its purchases of Buuteeq, due in part to the competition on the horizon from Google & Airbnb.  The recently announced deal that saw booking.com providing global inventory to Tripadvisor Instant Booking effectively makes them now an OTA.

Over the last few years, Tripadvisor has been worked extremely hard in cultivating a positive relationship with hoteliers while reviews, thanks to them, have become an ever more important part for hotel directors to focus on to ensure excellent guest comments get published.  Some hotels have even gone as far as directing their hard-won traffic from their website to their page on Tripadvisor (which also sells your competitors).  Behind Reception, there are now certificates and plaques of excellence from booking.com and Tripadvisor occupying pride of place.  However great these actions are, hoteliers are feeding and promoting the very agencies online that send them business with a 15-20% commission bill.

2014-10-23_1028

We have also seen that OTAs including Tripadvisor investing heavily in user experience, making it easier for you to book a hotel whether from a desktop or mobile device.  From confirmations sent straight to your phone to personalized marketing which provides you with useful suggestions based on your searches.  Due to their size and power, they have the resources and investment to take advantage of the amount of data available to ensure a great user experience.  Most hoteliers would be the first to use booking.com for their business travel as all their personal information is stored there.  Booking engines for the independent hotelier are also sometimes too focused on revenue management techniques rather than user experience.  Book your hotel on booking.com, then on your site, how does it match up?  There are some great products out there.  One of my personal favourites and internationally recognised as being one of the best is GuestCentric (www.guestcentric.com).  Its multi-award winning booking engine is focused on providing a unique user experience with data capture at its heart.

So why are hotels sleepwalking into increased OTA dependency?

The answer is simple – laziness.  With the changes within our industry I have mentioned, it is most likely that there will be an increase in competition within the OTA distribution space.  Tripadvisor becoming an OTA is a big game changer, especially as they are in the top 3 of most visited travel sites.  Google, being still the number one search tool and its total dominance on smartphones could become a valuable player.  These changes if left unsupervised, will allow them to eat into even more of your inventory, especially if you are openly promoting them from your own website.  Hotels can though be smart at collecting guest data via inexpensive methods such as Social Wifi.  Booking engines and websites can be improved to provide a better user experience and to interact with your guests using Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger can provide that special attention to detail.  All the above can be done cost effectively and implemented seamlessly, so you can focus on providing your guests a unique experience while starting the process of slowly decreasing your OTA dependency.

Captura de pantalla 2016-02-08 a las 14.53.39

Currently, in Europe, almost three quarters (74%) of independent hotel reservations comes from an OTA (Source: Phocuswright).  Now just imagine if we got that figure down just 10% by being smarter with how you connect to your guests and users on your website.  Marketing online is not just about PPC campaigns; it requires a more holistic approach which takes advantage of the very latest technology to improve your hotel in 3 ways 1)Data Collection 2)Online user experience and 3)Guest communication.

OTA´ s are a fundamental part of your online distribution, but they should not be your only focus.  Make 2016 the year your hotel started reversing the trend of increasing dependency on OTA´s and start building a solid platform to increase your direct online reservations.

Need help in planning the right online marketing strategy for 2016?  Talk to us, email info@hotelient.net