Thursday, May 26, 2016

UK Online Travel Trends 2016 – Part 2

In UK Online Travel Trends 2016 – Part 1, I identified that OTAs and Mobile reign the online travel trends in UK. Here I present to you the second part of this series – read on!

Planning starts at OTAs …and TripAdvisor

According to a Google report, Brits visit on average 17 travel related sites to plan their holidays. However, unlike their counterparts in USA, OTAs have relatively less influence on the decision making process.  Travellers in Britain seem to rely more on online review sites like TripAdvisor to plan and book their holidays. With TripAdvisornow emerging as a full-fledged meta-search channel, hoteliers now have the opportunity to attract more direct bookings through their brand site with a solid meta-search strategy.



However, reality cannot be further. Market research firm, PhoCusWright suggests that about 1% of all shoppers arriving on hotel brand website originate from a metasearch engine. This essentially means that while 1 in 5 holidaymakers start researching for accommodations on TripAdvisor, only few make direct bookings. Clearly hotel brands are not making the most of the opportunities.

Easy access to technology has dramatically changed the information availability in consumer’s favour. Online travellers are no longer impressed with the rack rate or lead-in rate based promotions – they expect real-time pricing, and will go with the one which provides them the information they are looking for. So even if you have a property with considerably good reputation, if you are not showing your real-time rate and availability in TripAdvisor, you will be losing potential direct bookers to OTAs.

Keep a marketing budget for metasearch sites, and integrate key aggregator sites to your distribution mix. Advanced distribution management solutions today offer integrations with metasearch channels, through which hotels can manage the site like any other sales channel. eRevMax, for instance, have established 2-way XMLconnections with all leading meta-search channels like TripAdvidor, Kayak,Trivago, etc. However, unlike other sales channels, it’s not a ‘set and forget’ initiative, and needs active engagement in rate and bid management. If managed properly, the return on investment (ROI) on the amount paid in meta-search pay-per-click (PPC) model can be significantly higher than CPA (cost-per-acquisition) hotels usually pay out to OTAs.

Growing popularity of Airbnb – concern for Independent hotels

By and large, hospitality industry has accepted the disruption called Airbnb. Since its inception in 2008, this peer-to-peer sharing platform has seen meteoric growth, and is now considered as one the most valuable hospitality companies in the world. Airbnb has over 50,000 listings in the UK, making it a real threat for independent and small hoteliers. While we don’t have a definite number for UK, according to a study commissioned by Hotel Association of New York City, Airbnb costs New York lodging industry a loss of approximately $450 million over the course of a year.



There are reasons Airbnb has caught the fancy of travellers, and hotels can learn a thing or two from them. Majority of their customer base is mobile – tech savvy travellers seeking experiences. The rising power of Airbnb has forced the smaller hotels to rethink their strategy.

While pricing is a concern for travellers, it is not a commodity market. Experience and service matter. Airbnb thrives on service, human touch and local flavour to people – all these are essential characteristics of an independent hotel. What sets them apart is a beautiful user experience and pricing.



As an hotelier, it might be difficult to compete with Airbnb in pricing, but that can always upset with service. Promoting local cuisine, events, tying up with community sustainable group can give a hotel an opportunity to additionally offer the alternatives guests are looking for. While Airbnb does not offer any standardization, hotels with their longer experience are better prepared to provide consistent experiences.

Fact is Airbnb is a disruption which has shaken the status quo. But just like retailers, who evolved and survived the Amazon effect, small independent hotels too can survive the onslaught by upping their game.

If you enjoyed reading this, you will love the UK Online Travel Trends 2016 Infographic – have a look.

Alin Lazar is the Sales Manager Europe at eRevMax. He can be reached at alinl@erevmax.com

Image Credit: Airbnb CC0

Friday, May 13, 2016

Arabian Travel Market 2016 - Top Middle East Travel Trends

This year’s edition of Arabian Travel Market (ATM) was held last month and witnessed a 7% year-on-year increase in visitor numbers with more than 28,000 trade visitors attending the show.


As per a recent report by IPK International, Middle East is the world’s fastest-growing outbound travel market, having witnessed an increase of 9% in outbound trips over the first eight months of 2015. Although Middle East is going through political unrest and economic uncertainty, the region has seen positive growth in the travel sector last year. Close to 12 million travelers visited Dubai in 2015, making it the fifth most popular city in the world for international visits. I have identified some interesting middle-east travel trends- 

High Spending Travellers

Outbound travel from Middle East increases in the summer months to almost 60% to avoid the summer heat, compared to about 40% in the winter season. In 2015, almost 40 million Emiratis crossed the border, and as per research, this number is expected to touch 81 million by 2030. When it comes to travel planning, Middle East travellers prefer long vacations with an average of 14 nights stay. And in terms of spending, travellers from the region are considered high spenders - with the average spending being 200 Euros per person per night.


Rise of “Digital Natives”

One of the youngest regions of the world with over 50% of the population aged between 18- 34, travel in UAE and other Middle East countries are largely influenced by the digital experience. 65% millennials begin their travel planning online while 52% prefer to compare prices in various online platforms before making a decision. High internet penetration and rise of smartphone users have increased online travel sales in the region in last couple of years. As young affluent travellers are migrating to new channels for travel planning, hoteliers too are making an effort to step up their game by being visible on multiple channels including meta-search for improved online bookings.

Personalization

Like every other traveller in the world, Middle East travellers too prefer personalised services and it starts right from the purchase journey. With almost two-third travellers accessing travel related information through their smartphones, it has become imperative for hoteliers to have a mobile optimized website with relevant content. Further with changing customer preferences, hotels need to have a dynamic marketing and pricing strategy to make the most of every available opportunity.


The travel industry in the Middle East region has changed dramatically over the last decade and hoteliers need data-driven analytics to respond more rapidly to changing market conditions, reach out to “new age” travellers and offer personalised products and services.

Ram Mohan Dubey is the Sales Manager MENA at eRevMax. He can be reached at rammohand@erevmax.com.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

UK Online Travel Trends 2016 – Part 1

About 36.1 million people will be visiting Britain in 2016. Another 100 million overnight trips will be made by Britons, making it an exciting year for the UK tourism industry. In this two part series, I will look at trends that will become crucial for hotels to ride the tide as they put final touches to their summer preparations.


OTAs remain critical to success

Unlike other parts of Europe, online hotel sales in UK have always been dominated by the direct channel. However, according to a PhoCusWright report, OTAs are slowly but steadily increasing their market share with 35% of online hotel bookings coming from them. Data from our client hotels in UK also corroborate this trend. The rate parity issue notwithstanding, Booking.com remains the most popular online distribution channel for UK hoteliers.  The top five channels being used by our client hotels also suggest a surge in popularity for last minute booking channel Laterooms, a trend that we have seen in the last couple of years. Other channels in the top 5 list are Expedia, Agoda and HotelBeds – a B2B sales channel.

This is an indication of how hotels are experimenting with the distribution mix– a combination of traditional OTAs, last minute booking - deal sites or B2B channels. To get the maximum gain out of their distribution mix, hotels need to balance exposure according to target market to improve occupancy and average rate.  They need to develop a distribution plan to reach out to travellers coming from key markets like USA and Western Europe. Market knowledge, competitor intelligence and historical trends can help hoteliers to create an effective strategy.


If you are a small bed & breakfast type establishment, you can go for a mix of high commission, high exposure sites like Expedia and Booking.com along with low commission sites like Flipkey and budgetplaces. For hostels, dedicated sites like HostelBookers and Hostelworld can be good options. Boutique independent hotels can focus on niche OTAs with low commissions. Reservation analytics which identifies best performing channels, production pattern and booking pace can come in handy to select the ideal distribution mix.

Mobile booking is mainstream

This takes us to the fastest growing booking platform – the mobile. One in every four online booking is now being made on mobile. Interestingly, while direct booking accounts for the majority of online bookings, when it comes to mobile, the scenario completely changes, with smartphones generating three times higher bookings for OTAs than hotel’s direct site.  This clearly indicates hotels’ lack of preparedness in the mobile platform. The contrast is even more visible in the last minute booking segment – where 58% of the bookings coming from mobile devices.

As the mobile platform grows leaps and bound to become a mainstream sales channel, hotels have taken note. Mobile website is expected to be the most implemented technology among independent lodging providers. Invest in a booking engine providing seamless booking  experience along with rich content and secure payment option.


Stay tuned for part two of this series which will be posted in mid May!

 Alin Lazar is the Sales Manager Europe at eRevMax. He can be reached at alinl@erevmax.com

Friday, April 22, 2016

WTM Latin America: Top Trends to Watch

The fourth edition of WTM Latin America in Sao Paulo concluded last month. The largest travel trade fair in Brazil brought more than 5,900 unique travel trade visitors and over 1,000 buyers from around the world under one roof.  The event is a platform for the world to visit Latin America – the success of which can be gauged with the fact that business deals worth US$363 million were transacted across the three event days.
 
Julian Lindt at WTM Brazil
Like previous year, I was there to meet clients and prospects and interact with peers in the industry. Given Brazil will be hosting the Summer Olympics in Rio this year, we witnessed an increased number of hoteliers at the show looking for solutions and opportunities on how they could maximise from the upcoming events.

Julian Lindt and Alex Moura with a partner at WTM Brazil
According to Brazil's state-owned tourism agency - Embratur, an estimated 380,000 international tourists are expected to visit the country during the Olympic Games. Brazil welcomed over one million foreign visitors during the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and from then has continued to see an increased number of travellers visiting the country.
With such high demand, hoteliers see the growth prospects in the region and many hotel brands have started new projects to cater to these visitors.  The total number of hotels and condo hotels in Brazil in 2015 was pegged at 10,050 and total available rooms at 500,212. Hotels are looking to increase the room supply before the Summer Olympics to ensure they meet the demand effectively.
With more than two million people visiting the country every year and over one million expected to travel, hoteliers need a strong online distribution strategy to reach out to the global travellers for maximising revenues.
Julian Lindt is the Latam & Caribe Sales Director at eRevMax. He can be reached at julianl@erevmax.com

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

eRevMax partners with TripAdvisor to power instant booking for hotel guests

eRevMax has partnered with TripAdvisor to power instant booking for their accommodation clients. Instant booking makes it possible for properties to acquire bookings directly on TripAdvisor.


TripAdvisor’s instant booking functionality allows travelers to make reservations directly with participating accommodation businesses without leaving the TripAdvisor website. The reservations are delivered directly to the hotel or bed & breakfast via eRevMax. This is a powerful channel for independent properties to grow their business by acquiring more direct bookings from the world’s largest travel site, through a simple, commission-based model.

Through this certification, accommodation partners are now eligible to participate in instant booking on TripAdvisor and own the guest relationships from the moment of the reservation. The benefits are numerous – it’s simple to set up, leveraging technology that is already in place, and there are no upfront costs, making it a zero-risk opportunity for eRevMax hotel clients.

To find out more, please visit www.tripadvisor.com/instantbooking and to sign-up for the channel, contact eRevMax at marketing@erevmax.com.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

ITB Berlin 2016: LIVE OS all the way!

ITB Berlin continues to be a crowd puller and this year was no different. One of the largest travel trade events globally, ITB Berlin attracted a record 120,000 trade visitors that attended the show to meet over 10,000 companies that exhibited at the event.

eRevMax ITB Stand

The event provides a platform for travel and hospitality companies to showcase their products and services and is a great place to form new partnerships and acquaintances.

eRevMax witnessed a strong response for its newly launched LIVE OS platform attracting various new partners and clients to sign up for it. Our uniquely designed stand drew a lot of attention, so much so, that SnapShot, a hospitality analytics solutions provider and an exhibitor at ITB Berlin covered eRevMax in its blog, “First off, a shoutout to eRevMax for their cafe-style stand at ITB. We also like their (relatively) new analytics tool built into their LIVE OS product. A combination of nice design and a good user base makes this a solid booking and revenue-based analytics tool.”

It is important to reiterate that LIVE OS is a first of its kind hospitality operating system that offer hotels a single point of access to multiple applications and service providers for business process improvement through relevant call to actions.

4hoteliers.com, a leading hospitality publication, featured LIVE OS for its unique proposition.

While most of the feedback received at ITB was fantastic, we have to feature what Lukas Kakalejčík from Room Assistant had to say - “LIVEOS makes it so easy for all hotels to have relevant KPIs at their disposal. The platform helps them to identify the overall effectiveness of the applications they are using and thus measure their return on investment. LIVE OS definitely helps them to make informed decisions on the performance of their technology applications. We are happy to work one-to-one with our customers, and demonstrate how our programs improve their operations, sales and marketing, and revenue. They can see the real output it brings to the table,”

More than thirty companies have signed up to integrate as partners on LIVE OS, with many more in the consultation stage. ITB Berlin continues to be a great show and we look forward to the 2017 edition.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Top three travel trends to watch in 2016

With 2016 upon us, let’s take a quick look at the movers and shakers of 2015 – TripAdvisor launched its Instant Booking service, Google announced the Google Hotel Ads Commission Program, Amazon entered the travel space and Marriott acquired Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide! Do these ‘events’ make predicting 2016 trends any easier? We are not sure! However, based on some industry reports and market research studies, here are some trends that we have derived for 2016 –

Less people, more data

Around 40% of the world’s population is online and they are interacting in newer ways. Internet continues to generate massive amounts of information and data. An IBM research shows that 2.5 exabytes (that's a whopping 2.5 billion gigabytes (GB)!) of data was generated in 2012 and this figure will get doubled by 2016. This data is a combination of all the activities happening online across platforms – desktop, tablets, laptops, mobile apps etc. A recent TripBarometer study by TripAdvisor shows that around 42% of travellers use smartphones to plan or book their trips. As technology is leading the way in hospitality, hotels need to focus on deciphering the data trends to offer the right products to travelers through the right channel.

eRevMax big data

Consolidation continues

Hospitality professionals would agree that 2015 continued to witness the consolidation trend. Over the last three years, two of the travel majors - Expedia Inc. and Priceline Group have been gobbling up one company after another. Earlier in 2015, Expedia announced to buy Orbitz for about $1.6 billion in cash following its acquisition of Travelocity. In order to gain supremacy over each other, Expedia and Priceline has spent collectively more than $7.6 billion over the last two years in various acquisitions. Regional biggies did not stay behind in the ‘merger & acquisition’ spree – Chinese online travel giant Ctrip acquired 62.4% share in eLong from Expedia. However, Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide was perhaps the most discussed news piece, making Marriott the largest operating hotel brand worldwide. While it’s difficult to predict who’s next, there definitely will be some more in the offing for 2016.

Guests of the Future

In a world where consumers are using multiple devices and interacting on social media platforms, it has become imperative for hotels to forge relationships with them, particularly in the digital realm. Omnipresent information and instant communication has made competition even fiercer. Hotels those are quick to respond to guests and be visible at every touch point – be it guest review sites or mobile optimized brand website, will surely be preferred over their competitors.

eRevMax Guest Review Management

An eMarketer report shows that in 2013, one in four people was connected through social media – i.e. around 1.73 billion people across the globe. This number is supposed to rise to 2.55 billion by 2017. These users are actively sharing experiences and writing reviews on social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Hotels that are monitoring and responding to these reviews and employ innovative technologies to interact with guests will have an edge over their competitors.


With scientific use of big data and new technologies, hotels can attract modern travellers, manage daily operations effectively and provide best-in-class guest services.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

3 areas where Hotels need to incorporate big data analytics

If I have to choose the buzz word for the hospitality technology industry in 2015, it would surely be big data. From BI (business intelligence) to BB (Big Data) the shift is definite, and here to stay. Big Data, which Wikipedia defines as ‘a broad term for data sets so large or complex that traditional data processing applications are inadequate’ has become the central to the business strategy of a smart hotelier in the recent years. With the data volume growing about 50% a year, hotels need big data analytics to define and shape consumer behavior, and maximize their efforts to reach, engage and compel target audiences to action.

Monitor your customer at every touch point

Here’s an interesting fact from Google’s recent study on traveler. Almost half (46%) of travellers who carry out mobile for travel research make their final decision on mobile and then turn to another device to make the booking. With users constantly switching devices during the purchase journey, and getting influenced by social media, mobile and other web-based exchanges, hospitality industry is being forced to constantly adjust and refine their marketing strategies. 


Faced with a multi-faceted and multi-platform traveler whose preference would change depending on the type of trip, hotels need to get close to them by capturing prompt, accurate information – and correctly interpreting it – to change the course and outcome of interactions.

Integrate Big Data Analytics into your Revenue Management System

Revenue management is all about selling the right product to the right person at the right channel. Dynamic pricing helps hotels to optimize demand with flexible pricing, however, with the online distribution landscape continuously throwing new challenges, the complexities of managing hotel’s revenue has increased many-fold.  With each channel having its rule, segment, buying behavior and platform, managing rate and availability in real-time to these channels can become a nightmare.  Gone are the days when hotels would depend on historical data for rate forecasting – today’s revenue managers need to consider consumer’s buying behavior, search pattern, social networking habit for right pricing. This is where big data analytics come into help revenue managers include individual consumer behaviors, including loyalty and lifetime value, past purchases of ancillary services, and online shopping activity in their pricing model.

Personalized marketing for maximum benefit

Each customer is different. So treat them differently. According to an Adobe research, about 70% of today’s online buyers expect personalized service from brands. For hospitality industry, expectation is even higher. OTAs, with their scale of marketing budget and technology superiority, has been one of the earlier adopters of Dynamic Content Personalization’ which allows websites the ability to recognize a past visitor, tag them and create personalized, unique and optimized experiences for consumers – finely tuned for each individual preference. For hotels, personalization also gives them an opportunity to serve the guest better, earn loyalty, while gathering 360 degree view of the guest throughout the guest journey to provide more relevant offers, improve communications and increase engagements. Big Data involves the collection, management and analysis of multiple sources of data, both structured and unstructured, while analytics give the insight to optimize the information. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

WTM London 2015: Three hot trends in global travel industry

WTM London continues to be a crowd-puller and a great networking platform and this year is no different for us. During the four days of the event hundreds of hoteliers, travel technology professionals from all around the world gathered at eRevMax stand TT550 to witness the launch of LIVE OS and I personally got chance to interact with them to discuss more about recent trends in the hospitality industry.

Here I find these are top three trends which are influencing the global travel industry at this moment.

Online Travel Leads the Way

Online travel channels (OTAs) continue to outpace other distribution channels, and the two giants Priceline and Expedia dominating the show by no small margin. According to a PhoCusWright estimate, close to 50% of the total OTA bookings are controlled by them. For Europe, the figure is even more skewed, with the duo controlling over 70% of the market. With smartphones and tablets in nearly every consumer’s hands today, bookings from this  channel is growing faster than any other channel, and currently accounts for 12.5% of overall bookings. By 2017, Euromonitor predicts that more than 30% of online travel bookings by value will be made on mobile devices. The emergence of mobile as a serious channel has also forced the hospitality industry to focus on a seamless experience for travellers as they switch devices on the road to purchase. The OTAs have been frontrunner, and with big hotel chains also joining in, it’s only a matter of time before the personalized marketing strategy becomes the norm for the hospitality industry.



Smart Travel is the new regular

As the travellers’ personal preferences are changing constantly hoteliers are also incorporating new technologies to transform the travel experience of their guests. Hotels are now investing on the big data analytics to identify future trends and changing preferences of customers. Analytics also provide a better sense of direction for the hotels to segment guests according to booking trends, behavior and other factors in order to reveal their likelihood to respond to promotions and emerging travel trends.

The understanding guest preferences, purchase behavior like frequency, length of stay, booking channel and profit potential are critical for hotels to increase the brand loyalty and upsell opportunity of their most valuable guests. Global hotel chains are already experimenting with personalized pricing based on customers’ online activity, preferences and predictive analytics. One of the challenges hotels face today is the dependence of multiple systems which produce own reports. A single platform, offering integrations of all technology solutions, and actionable intelligence based on data is the future. 

CPC to CPA

Hospitality industry is constantly evolving - this year we’ve seen big players have changed their business models. Now the travel giants are shifting from CPC (Cost per click) to CPA (Cost per action) model and this is welcomed by the hotel industry due to its cost effectiveness. Recently, TripAdvisor announced Instant Booking feature – now consumers can book their accommodations right from the TripAdvisor site without leaving the booking window. Google has also followed in the same footsteps of TripAdvisor, killing its metasearch site Google Hotel finder. Earlier last month, the search engine giant launched Google Hotel Ads Commission Program allowing hoteliers to take full control starting from a guest’s search process to the completed booking contrary to the OTAs. As in this new meta-OTA model, hotels only have to pay to Google after a successful booking this will help hoteliers to increase their revenue and lessen dependence on online travel agents.

Global Travel is Booming

Though the economic condition across the globe is uncertain due to rising geopolitical unrest, a potential US interest rate rise, oil price volatility and the Eurozone crisis, growth of travel industry were remain the same. In 2014 international tourist arrivals was 1.1 billion up by 4.3% and by the end of this year the figure will be slightly down. Despite recent economic slowdown travel expenditure is rising, with the Asia Pacific region predicted to see the fastest growth in inbound expenditure over the next five years.

The global hospitality industry has become more competitive in last five years. Organizations which are responding quickly to the technology led opportunities are creating new revenue streams and driving higher profits than ever before.

Image Credit: WTM Trends Report
**With inputs from PhoChusWright & Euro Monitor International




Claudia De Leo is the Sales & Marketing Manager at eRevMax. She can be reached at claudiad@erevmax.com