Saturday, March 21, 2009

INTERNORGA, Hamburg, 2009

If you would ask a German about the annual event for the hospitality industry with the longest tradition, the answer would be INTERNORGA, which celebrated its 83rd anniversary in 2009. One of Europe’s biggest trade fair of its kind, based in Germany’s trade metropolis Hamburg, is year after year a must for hospitality suppliers.

This year’s INTERNORGA took place 13-18 March, and with 87,000 square meters of exhibition space it was larger than ever before. 103,000 trade visitors were attracted by 1,050 exhibitors. However, RateTiger was not amongst these exhibitors as INTERNORGA has a strong focus on the catering and restaurant/bar industry. Only approximately 16% of its visitors work in the hotel business, and most of them are rather concerned with choosing new cutlery or a convection oven than revenue or channel management software.

Nonetheless, RateTiger’s German PR representative Jasmin Keller spent a day at this busy event and met a number of press contacts. Her impression: “It is indeed a massive event! Yet you will probably not find many buyers for channel management software.” Asked whether INTERNORGA was hence a less important event: “Not at all! All our key media contacts are present to promote their publications as well as to learn about new products. It’s a perfect way to meet up with everyone!”

A need to create awareness for the necessity of a strategic approach to the online market is the common outcome of her meetings. The editors agreed that it is vital for hotelier’s future success to learn about the importance of the Internet as a point of sale. “Many hoteliers are still skeptical about using third party distribution sites or cannot afford the time to update these extranets properly,” said Jasmin. “The editors are aware that those must be educated: about the opportunities for their business; the risk they take by not participating on this market; the best ways to manage the web strategically; the need for continuous benchmarking and updating; and the possibilities to safe time and maximize revenue with supportive software solutions, such as RateTiger.”

Overall INTERNORGA has been a success for RateTiger, with several editors planning to pick up on channel management. The company’s claim of being not only a software vendor but also to focus on education, training and consultancy has proved to be the right strategy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

RateTiger at ITB 2009


What happened? Last thing you know is that the economy is expecting a horrible year and next thing you hear is that the organizers of ITB 2009, Berlin, Germany, reported an increase in attendees as many tradeshows across the world experienced a fall in visitors.

RateTiger attended with its own stand in the technology section (Hall 8.1). We returned with a similar stand design as WTM 2008 to reinforce our position as a leader in the online channel management industry.

As European Seal of e-Excellence awards winners in marketing of innovation RateTiger received significant interest from visitors especially with our luxurious discounts and offers to celebrate our award win.

International and German hotel companies had their brand presence but the number of people representing chains were down from last year. The key concerns for hoteliers seemed to be that the future is uncertain in relation to the economic downturn. The feedback we received was that hotels are looking at more distribution channels while expecting much quicker returns.This was extremely prevalent among clients in the Asian Market. As a natural consequence, the time spent on channel management has and will increase significantly hence the extreme interest in our products.

Sunaina Jagtiani, UK Sales Manager commented: “The great thing about the show is that I got the opportunity to speak with the decision maker or the influencer with regards to online channel management and sales. I met with several potential clients in the Asian market and Sudhir our APAC SM will be following up on those leads.”

Keith Povah, Director of Sales said: “The sales managers found some clients were a little hesitant to invest in software as there are so many dreadful stories about technology companies going under. Being present at the show showed potential clients RateTiger’s strength and stability with our commitment to deliver and also gave us the ability to provide insight into why channel managers save time and make money”

Hoteliers were keen to discuss current needs and how RateTiger would best solve those. Furthermore, a big part of the discussions were about the newly launched products RTStrategy and RTCorp, first available during ITB 2009. The feedback from customers makes us believe that both products hit market needs.

Ulf Guldi, German Sales Manager, his first exhibition as part of the RateTiger team: “I must say the show was great. I have attended quite a few ITB’s in my travel industry history, but I never had so many qualified meetings. We definitely achieved a lot of success from the show and numerous interesting and hot leads from single hotels and smaller hotel groups.”

There was a constant buzz on the RateTiger stand and we have some big announcements to be made in the coming weeks following partnerships we secured with leading vendors and hotel groups.

Florida Huddle 2009

We attended the Florida Huddle to meet with hotels and discuss opportunities to expand sales and marketing online through third party distribution channels.

Over 230 hotels attended the event and we were fortunate to arrange meetings with over a third of them. The team helped them identify ways to maximize the distribution of rates and rooms across the internet.

Siobhan and Gerard managed to secure a few sales and many leads for hotels and wholesalers. Doubletree Universal has also been referring RateTiger after the event.

Hoteliers were keen to understand more about technology and the online environment as they have manually managed their multiple channels for the past few years. The trend continued that many are worried over how the current economic situation will affect their business over the next 18 months and are looking at all options in an effort to remain competitive across many channels while reducing cost and time spent.

Hopefully by the time we attend HITEC in June many hoteliers will see what they can achieve through streamlining their sales online through channel management systems.

BIT, Milan, 2009

The global economic markets hit BIT 2009 in Milan hard this year. Italy seems to be suffering more than any other country; RateTiger has been to many tradeshows which reported an increase in attendance. However BIT lost 25% of attendees on 2008.

Our sales managers experienced an atmosphere full of pessimism and lack of motivation from many exhibitors and visitors. Giuseppe Messina, SM in Italy said: “I can tell you that the mood was a bit down. I had the chance to talk with hotel managers coming from Florence, Venice and Rome, and they are all in the same scenario: 25-30% of occupation compared to 2008.”

Due to our position in the market hoteliers were keen to talk about RateTiger and online distribution in general. Stand visitors were interested in a product like RTChannelManager but still worried about increasing outgoings until they began to see a greater return in online channels.

Enzo Aita, SM in Italy, was surprised that some of the big players did not turn up: “Hotelplan and Italian TO (Alpitour, Francorosso, etc) did not come as exhibitors – I was very surprised by this.”

We hope the Italian market will begin to pick up over the next few months. RateTiger will be launching soon a product that will assist smaller hoteliers to maximize rates and distribution online while helping tight budgets.