Wednesday, June 24, 2015

eRevMax’s LIVE event series prove to be a great platform for London hoteliers

As part of the London Technology Week, the LIVE in London event had all the ingredients of a great networking evening. Well, it turned out to be spectacular and how!



eRevMax and Luxury Hotels Group joined forces to bring LIVE in London – an exclusive evening event to top city hoteliers at the five star ball room of The Montcalm London Marble Arch last week on June 18.

With over 150 hoteliers in attendance, the evening witnessed educational sessions covering latest market trends, new distribution techniques and consumer behaviour patterns to understand the world of BIG data and how to leverage actionable intelligence by integrating all systems to be operationally managed from one single dashboard!


The event proved to be one-of-a-kind opportunity to interact and build business relationships with top hoteliers, technology solution providers and distribution channels, all unanimously agreeing to the relevance of integrated platforms in today’s business scenario.

The sessions were followed by great peer-to-peer networking over drinks and canap├ęs. The casino table grabbed its share of attention and people enjoyed playing with fun money. The icing on the cake was the big Prize Draw where lucky winners got to take away some valuable market intelligence reports from STR, complimentary product setup from eRevMax and AVQuest, digital marketing audit and revamp of digital strategy by Luxury Hotels Group and other treats for the summer from other sponsors.

The event closed with a thumping applause and rave reviews. A special thanks to all our partners and presenters for their contribution and for helping make LIVE in London a great evening!

See more pictures of the event here.


Partners and presenters include Luxury Hotels Group, Duetto, Revinate, STR, AVQuest, HoistLocal, Skyware and SnapShot.




Cristina Blaj is Sales Director at eRevMax.  She can be reached at cristinab@erevmax.com



Thursday, June 18, 2015

Top five trends which will shape US Hospitality industry this year - Part II

In my previous article (See Here) I've talked about Last Minute Bookings & Mobile Wallet that are the ongoing trends in the US here is the later part of the article.

Don’t underestimate the power of Meta & OTA

In the last couple of years metasearch has become a strong and separate medium for providing hotels more direct bookings – though OTAs still the largest medium for hotels to sell their rooms. But with the launch of InstantBooking by TripAdvisor last year hotel veterans prophesise this is going to change the concept of contemporary hotel distribution. Hoteliers who were present at the event stated that in the coming future more and more hotels will opt for CPA (Click per Action) model which is more cost effective and gives better ROI. The future of hotel distribution is going to be mix of OTA and metasearch- one is stand for its dominating market share and the later to give more direct booking reducing commission money paid to the OTAs.

Customer Journey: It’s evolving

An eMarketer report states that 4.55 billion people in our planets own a mobile phone. The global smartphone audience in 2014 was 1.75 billion and by the end of 2017, 50% of world population will have a smartphone. In US alone every people (327 million) own a mobile phone and more than 64% people (182 million) have smartphones – the number simply cannot be denied.   Such tremendous growth of mobile and accessibility of high-speed internet have changed the purchasing behaviour and travel journey of the people.  Over last three years US economy has reached to a stable position after its Great Economic Recession. Now, with more capital flows the middle class millenials continues its surge- spending their money on shopping and travel planning. The tech-savvy travellers with their always connected device are constantly researching about their favorite travel destination, hotels and sharing these experiences on social media. A traveller’s decision is taken much before he/she chooses an accommodation. They look for the right time to get their favourite rooms at right price doing comparison search at the very last moment.


Reputation management: It matters

While exchanging our views at the event I realized one thing in the coming years user generated content is going to be a top priority area for the hoteliers. Currently, there are total 3 billion internet users and 1.96 billion social media users in the world- it is no wonder that key hotel investment trends in 2015 would include the development of one-to-one relationship with guests through reputation management and personalized marketing. Managing reputation is no longer considered about how many positive reviews you have on TripAdvisor. It is about a conversation with your guests and what are their overall views about your property they are sharing on various social media channels.

A recent survey by Laterooms.com suggests that 90% of travellers would avoid booking hotels labelled as “dirty” in online review sites. As an increased number of travellers using Facebook, Twitter to search about hotel information it is becoming crucial for hotel operators to manage their property’s reputation through a reputation management tool. Properties who want to monitor and manage their reputation will need a one-stop solution like RateTiger Review to consolidate all online guest reviews from various travel review and social media websites engaging in one-to-one conversation. If you engage with your guests in a conversation and respond to their needs publicly will definitely help you to win the trust of your guests which will drive more loyal customers for the future.


US travel market is the most diversify market in the world. Future of travel in this country is going to depend upon data-driven strategy.  As travel market is becoming more complex you need to understand various steps of travel journey through semantic analysis based on the available data to take more predictive decision.

Jan Mura is Director of Sales- Americas at eRevMax.  He can be reached at janm@erevmax.com

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Stay Connected with latest news: Update from eRevMax- June 17, 2015

Top five trends which will shape US Hospitality industry this year

The first generation travellers who are connected to the world with internet have become the fastest growing customer segment in hospitality industry. Travellers aged between 18 to 34 comprise the largest and most diverse segment of US population. These hyper-connected travellers are communicating with the entire world in a new way with their always connected device- using laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

See more at: eRevMax Blog

News Trends

THE BATTLE FOR ONLINE TRAVEL CONSUMERS: WHO WILL WIN?

Will the Internet – and online travel in particular – end up being dominated by juggernauts? Do online travel agencies (OTAs) stand a chance in a world where search engines offer e-commerce facilities, and giant retailers get into travel?

See more at: Web In Travel

Pushing Rates: Getting More Out of Every Room Night

The major hotel brands are assembling integrated software systems for their hotels that are stocked with advanced revenue management tools that automate the pricing process as much as possible, allowing operators to be much more strategic in their distribution and room rate decisions.

See more at: Lodging Magazine

Website, GDS and OTA: the right mix in hotel distribution channel investments

Investing marketing dollars in these online distribution channels is becoming essential if hoteliers want to retain customers, improve hotel positioning, and gain a competitive advantage in markets that are sometimes saturated with hotel supply. The Internet has made marketing more measurable and accountable with different metrics and analytics that show the contribution of marketing to the bottom line.

See more at: HVS

Hotel brands must travel cross-channel route to bookings

To engage consumers on their path from discovery to purchase, hotel marketers must sell the way their customers wish to buy and ultimately, that means distributing the brand effectively across all consumer facing touch points.


See more at: Mobile Commerce Daily

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Top five trends which will shape US Hospitality industry this year

The first generation travellers who are connected to the world with internet have become the fastest growing customer segment in hospitality industry. Travellers aged between 18 to 34 comprise the largest and most diverse segment of US population. These hyper-connected travellers are communicating with the entire world in a new way with their always connected device- using laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

In the LIVE in New York, an event organized by us to discuss the hotel technology trends, from our partners BookingForce, HRS and roomlia to hoteliers from Hilton, Marriot, Wyndham, Warwick Hotels, Wellington Hotel all talked about the challenges of dealing with the hyper-connected segment. With the advance of technology, the shift towards mobile is dramatic and disruptive. According to a PhoCusWright report around 75% of U.S. travelers own a smartphone and the numbers are continuously increasing with 4 out of 5 mobile travel booking are being made for hotel accommodation. With half the year gone, here are five definite trends that I reckon, are shaping the US hospitality industry this year.

Mobile does not mean last minute

The growing popularity of HotelTonight and BlinkBooking is a testimony to the growth of last minute bookings. PhoCusWright reports that one in four mobile bookings are made at the last minute, where OTAs with stronger presence score high against the brand sites. In fact for every 10 last minute bookings, 7 are being made at the OTA sites. This has prompted major OTAs like Booking.com to invest heavily in this segment. Earlier this year, Booking.com launched Booking Now, a mobile app which lets guests book up to 48 hours in advance.



However, mobile’s influence on traveler goes beyond last minute, and now has impacted all phases of the travel life cycle. Research says, about 37%of US travelers use a mobile device in their trip planning – with a significant majority of them switching between the tablet and smartphone. Interestingly, a significant 27% of the mobile travel audience belongs to the high income category earning over $100,000 per year. Clearly, if you have not yet invested in your mobile channel, it’s high time to do that.

Mobile Wallet: New smart payment option

You might have your hotel in finest location and offer the best rate on your brand.com site and pride yourself of providing superior facilities to your guest, but have you integrated the mobile wallet?




Today’s modern guests want a hazard free travel experience- expects not to face front desk of the hotel to check-in or pay bills. According to a recent survey by SmartBrief and The Wall Street Journal shows more than 75% US travellers carry a smartphone and 50% travellers carry at least two devices while they are on vacation. This means your guests expect there should be an arrangement so that they can use their technology at your hotel- whether to conduct business, contact the valet, request service from housekeeping or pay from their mobile device. Here comes the mobile payment option which eliminates unnecessary delays. One of the largest hotel groups in the world Marriot Hotels was first to launch mobile check-in and check-out options on its mobile application back in 2013 and now offering its guests Apple Payment option. Another big name in Hotel industry Starwood Hotels is also offering the same service to its guests- now guests have the ability to pay accommodation charges using their mobile wallet, Apple Pay. This means hotel guests will no longer have to carry their credit cards or cash in their wallet. As smartphone going to replace physical wallet more and more hotels in the coming years will implement this medium to enhance their guest experience.

In next part of the article I'll talk about three more trends which are shaping the US hospitality industry.


Jan Mura is Director of Sales- Americas at eRevMax.  He can be reached at janm@erevmax.com  

Monday, June 1, 2015

Stay Connected with latest news: Update from eRevMax

eRevMax News
eRevMax completes 40 XML integrations in four months

Hotel online distribution specialist, eRevMax, has added 40 new technical interfaces in the first four months of 2015, continuing its long standing position as the largest distribution network provider in the industry. The new 2-way certified demand partners including Nustay, roomlia®, Bookit.com, Tourplan, EET Global, Traveltool/Logitravel, myHotelShop, NetAffinity, TravelRepublic and Southall Travel among others will add more versatility to the eRevMax Channel Ecosystem.


Your Hotels Worldwide endorses eRevMax as the Preferred Channel Manager Partner
Your Hotels Worldwide, a leading hotel chain of independently-managed properties in Scandinavia, has strengthened relationship with eRevMax by implementing its 2-way XML connectivity solution for seamless data transfer between its property management system and online sales channels. All 65 properties under the group are using RateTiger Channel Manager to update rates and availabilities across their distribution mix in real-time.
News Trends
How to avoid "big data paralysis" - A Guide for Hoteliers
Given how competitive the environment, hotels cannot afford to wait until everything is perfect before moving on to the next step. Applying advanced analytics to the data you have today can provide enough insight and value to justify moving forward with the data you want to collect for tomorrow.
How and why travel metasearch will have to evolve
To survive and grow, travel metasearch engines will have to consider how they can highlight the differences in the actual product in a better way, perhaps even making price a secondary (but still important) influencing factor for consumers.
Using Review Data as Rich Snippets To Improve Search Rankings and Increase Direct Bookings
Most hotels are focused on SEO, or are at least aware of the potential benefits of improving their search rankings. It allows them to stand out and ultimately generate more traffic (and direct bookings!). Content marketing is one way to improve search rankings, and travel reviews can play an important role in this content strategy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

More power to Ctrip as Expedia exits China

With over 1 million transactions everyday makes Ctrip the largest OTA in China and a serious player in the online travel sector.  But with the latest news of Expedia selling its stake in eLong, China’s second largest OTA, shows that even a global giant is no match for the mighty regional online player. 

Last week, Expedia announced that it is selling off its entire stake in Chinese online travel company eLong to rival Ctrip.com International Ltd and other interested parties.  With Expedia’s share in eLong being 64%, this acquisition means Ctrip will have over 37.6% stake in eLong, making it the majority shareholder in the second largest OTA in China after CTrip.



In picture Fan Man (left), Co-founder, Vice Chairman and President of Ctrip; in a discussion with Vincent Lo, Chairman, Shui On Group at Fortune Global Forum 2013

To put things in perspective, Ctrip has a market share more than 6 times the size of eLong. After the acquisition, Ctrip with eLong will control over 60% of the Chinese online travel market, which according to PhoCusWrightestimates is pegged to be over USD 30 billion in 2015 excluding call center bookings. With online travel expected to grow in double digits, and accounting for only a quarter of total travel bookings, the scope of growth, needless to say, is enormous.

With Priceline’s$500m investment into Ctrip, the focus for Ctrip now shifts to newer and fast-growing rivals such as Qunar, Tuniu, and Alitrip, the travel arm of China’s largest e-commerce company Alibaba. Meta-search engines continue to be the greatest lead generator for Chinese OTAs and this causes concern even for Ctrip. Qunar - owned by China’s largest online search engine Baidu Inc – is considered the market leader in meta-search and the fastest growing travel channel and in 2014, Ctrip ended its strategic relationship with Qunar and prompting a price war between them.



For Ctrip, a strategic partnership with both Expedia and Priceline means access to broader inventories, which will help the channel to meet its objective of having wider product coverage. Already Ctrip has seen over 200 million downloads of its mobile application so far. Ctrip’s aim at the broader market has been quite visible for a while now. Earlier this year they entered into an agreement with Amadeus, whereby the GDS will provide content to Ctrip in international markets outside of China. With Chinese outbound travel growing at 20-30% buoyed by an increase in disposable income by the Chinese traveller and more flight routes and hotel inventory in new destinations will all help Ctrip capture the majority of these outbound bookings.

Over 100 million cash rich Chinese travelers are set to travel aboard this year in 2015. As more Chinese travelers travel beyond Asia, with strong branding and being a well-established online and offline channel make Ctrip best poised to benefit from the growing travel demand in China.  For the hotel industry trying to capture a piece this high growth Chinese market makes working with Ctrip a must.

Image Courtesy: FortuneLive Media, Ctrip



John Seaton is VP Sales, EMEA & APAC at eRevMax.  He can be reached at johns@erevmax.com





Friday, May 22, 2015

Scandinavian hotel group Your Hotels Worldwide endorses eRevMax as the Preferred Channel Manager Partner

Your Hotels™ Worldwide, a leading hotel chain of independently-managed properties in Scandinavia, has strengthened relationship with eRevMax by implementing its 2-way XML connectivity solution for seamless data transfer between its property management system and online sales channels.  All 65 properties under the group are using RateTiger Channel Manager to update rates and availabilities across their distribution mix in real-time. RateTiger is a fully integrated e-distribution platform with 2-way XML channel connectivity, market intelligence and revenue management capabilities.
Your Hotel™ Worldwide is an established hotel chain consisting of around 65 privately owned hotels across Sweden, Norway, UK, Germany and Austria. Head Quartered in Stockholm, the group offers 2500 rooms across the portfolio. All hotels under the group are getting benefits of real-time rates and inventory update and receive reservations directly into their PMSs ensuring online sales optimization and eliminating chance of overbookings.  They can monitor booking trends across all channels on a single reporting dashboard to react instantly with a more effective distribution strategy.



“We have been using RateTiger solutions since 2010, and know from experience that they have a great product portfolio in a stable technology platform. By upgrading to 2-way XML connection, our member hotels would be able to use their PMS to process updates, which will streamline their distribution, save time and improve revenue opportunities. Their transition from a traditional channel manager to web based business intelligence and connectivity solution provider has helped our hotels greatly. For us eRevMax is the ideal technology partner which meets demands of our hotels,” said Percy Henriksson, Managing Director, Your Hotel™ Worldwide.


Our long-term relation with Your Hotel™ Worldwide reinforces the value eRevMax's innovative technologies and services bring to the hotel industry to improve distribution processes. eRevMax solutions help the revenue management team of these properties to increase online revenue by ensuring real-time room availability across all distribution points through automatic adjustment from a pooled inventory,” said Cristina Blaj, Sales Director - Europe at eRevMax.

eRevMax’s flexible, multi-platform solution to manage online sales and exposure, has  been used by over 20,000 hotels globally. eRevMax’s Channel Ecosystem (CES) offers two-way XML connections with leading global and regional sales channels for seamless connectivity.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Google’s Mobilegeddon: How it will impact hospitality industry?

It's been two weeks since Google has launched "Mobilegeddon" their recent algorithm, and since then it has been one most the most discussed topic among the digital marketers. At a time when in every 4 in 5 searches are being done through mobile, the latest update from Google decisively tilts the advantage to mobile friendly websites, predicts the search engine experts.



To make it simple, this means if a guest is searching through his smartphone, sites which are mobile optimized, will get better placement in Google search results. The results on desktop and tablets will still remain unaffected. However, given that over 27% of US travel bookings are being made on smartphones now, this has a huge impact on hotel industry, especially the small and independent ones.


Mobile has changed the way we search, connect to brands and make travel arrangements. By the end of this year global smartphone users expected to reach 2.5 billion and if your brand is not visible to this large audience then you need to rethink the way you target and engage with your potential customers.

Today’s tech-savvy travelers use the internet to find their favorite brand while on the go. In our recent article- The Rise and Rise of Mobility: how it is Changing WorldTravel we discussed how mobile is changing the world travel and online travel is shifting from PC to mobile phone. The recent update from Google shows that the search engine giant is only responding to consumer preferences by asking businesses to give them better experience while searching on the devices they most use. It is now hoteliers turn to take right mobile strategy to avoid getting buried in the 60 trillion web pages.

Are your Website Mobile-Friendly?

Before you start thinking to optimize your website, know how the change is going to impact your daily business. With 50% of its search coming through mobile devices, Google has updated its algorithms to ensure users discover more relevant and mobile-friendly results. Our web consists of 60 trillion individual web pages, finding a relevant result in a fraction of a second is not easy.



Google has begun including mobile friendly web pages as a factor in its mobile search engine rankings. Your hotel website would fare better in search rankings if the pages are legible and usable on mobile devices  Though a mobile-friendly website does not always guarantee online bookings but it could lead more direct traffic and individual page views to your hotel website increasing your brand presence in the online world.
                   
If you don’t have mobile optimized websites, no worry, there is still time for you. Find out if your website is mobile-friendly with Google’s Mobile Friendly Test and if you don’t qualify the test then it’s time to revamp your website with responsive design, as many travellers may only visit mobile version of your hotel’s website.





Right Content for Mobile travelers

Today the first point of contact (POC) for a guest on travel search is your website; they search your brand name on Google, reads relevant content which depicts about your product and services. As use of mobile phone increasing exponentially you need to rethink the way you reach out to your travel consumers and last minute travellers. If you think only optimising mobile friendly website is going to boost your ranking in Google then probably you are on the wrong track. Ensure your website has rich content with engaging imagery for your visitor to spend more time on your brand.com site and eventually make it to the booking window.


As the shopping journey is changing constantly you have to stay one step ahead of recent trends to feed your guests with the services they are looking for. Today’s hyper-connected travelers wait for the right time to get their preferable accommodation at reasonable price. Leveraging mobile friendly websites means you are not only providing better guest experience but creating an opportunity to make relationship your potential guests.