Thursday, September 27, 2012

Newshound: Trends and Reports - Hotel Online Distribution

Travel products dominate savings from daily deal sites, as does Groupon

Interesting data out of UK-based DealZippy after analysing a year’s worth of deals from across a range of industries and platforms, showing how popular the channel remains in travel. Given that the company takes a feed from over 30 UK deal sites, such as Groupon, LivingSocial, Wahanda and Qype, the data is pretty robust and representative of the marketplace. So what did it discover? Over the course of the past 12 months just over 60,000 deals have been published by the sites it covers, featuring some 22,600 individual businesses.
http://www.tnooz.com/2012/09/25/news/travel-products-dominate-savings-from-daily-deal-sites-as-does-groupon/#wqqk1bl1HsggZhAM.99

The implications of last-minute bookings for hotel operators

With shifting consumer expectations due to the proliferation of last-minute booking apps, hotels must consider the implications of offering rooms via the last-minute mobile channel.
The promise of reducing empty rooms via last-minute bookings is nothing new – last minute travel has always been big in Europe, where the close proximity of dozens of relatively inexpensive destinations encouraged many consumers to care less about advance planning in favor of a lower priced getaway.
http://www.tnooz.com/2012/09/20/mobile/the-implications-of-last-minute-bookings-for-hotel-operators/#XWuUA5BcisbrwrZy.99

More hotels posting reviews from their own guests

The online review of the Best Western hotel in Eagle Rock started with a critical headline: “Very poor quality, will never stay here again.” What is surprising is that the review was posted on a link found on the website of that very same hotel. Best Western International, one of the world’s largest hotel chains, recently announced that it had redesigned its website, adding links to reviews submitted by its guests to TripAdvisor.com. The move marks a trend in the hotel industry.
http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-hotel-reviews-20120921,0,7499976.story

Focus on online search vital as channel grows

With nearly 80% of the average consumer’s Web experience beginning with an online search, optimizing online content for search is crucial for hoteliers to compete in the market. “That’s an advantage for us,” said Tran Hang, head of the travel industry at Google, who shared that statistic last week during a session at EyeforTravel’s Travel Distribution Summit North America in Las Vegas. “We’re seeing a big shift from offline working media to online working media,” said Jack Feuer, founder and president at digital consulting firm Digital Marketing Works.
http://www.hotelnewsnow.com/articles.aspx/9002/Focus-on-online-search-vital-as-channel-grows

Travel marketer takeaways, cross-channel optimization and hotel revenue management

This month’s EyeForTravel North American Travel Distribution Summit was chock-full of travel industry thought leaders sharing case studies, best practices and knowledge surrounding the various areas of travel distribution. From keynotes to social media to mobile to revenue management, the conference covered many of the au courant challenges that travel marketers, startups and executives are tackling.
http://www.tnooz.com/2012/09/24/event/eyefortravel-travel-marketer-takeaways-cross-channel-optimization-and-hotel-revenue-management-video/#mALmDqPj4CZzyEK7.99

Friday, September 21, 2012

Selling hotel rooms - An NIHF event

At last week’s Selling Rooms event with the Northern Ireland Hotel Federation, hotels were very interested in learning how they could control their own inventory. Most of the attendees acknowledged that through OTAs they were losing control over pricing and distribution as they fought to manage the cost of selling through third parties.

While many are trying to sell direct, it beggars the question - how much inventory is allocated to the direct channel and how much to third party, when in fact all channels should have access to the same availability. In many cases there can be as much as 24% profit difference selling direct than across OTAs.

Interestingly, hotels struggled to manage their budgets effectively as some of the revenue management or OTA costs derived from the Marketing budget and others from the Reservations. Why should the direct selling channel come from Marketing, while OTAs are paid by Reservations? Marketing will always achieve a higher profit margin and is therefore unrepresentative of the financials of e-sales.

Many consumers have a hard time booking across hotel websites, unfortunately the journey can be clunky without a clear and easy-to-use booking engines. Hotels need to invest in booking engine applications they can easily install in their website that is similar to the OTAs, this will optimize the booking journey for conversions and mobile bookings.

It was also noted the value of Voice bookings, training the reservations, call center and front of house team to offer packages based on internet rates, and upgrade if necessary to avoid losing the booking to a third party website, which will cost them dearly in commission fees.


Northern Ireland has experienced a very strong year, with most guests being domestic tourism. The national tourism office will be launching a new website at the end of the year that will incorporate direct booking initiatives from the main OTA providers, giving hotels in the region an additional option for exposure and visibility.

Ryan C Haynes is VP - Marketing Communications at eRevMax. He was one of the speakers at the event and shared his insights on how hotels can use technology smartly to distribute rooms online and make the most of direct channels as well. Ryan is based out of London and can be reached at ryanh@ratetiger.com

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

eRevMax Football Tournament 2012


Honestly speaking I am not a sports addict, so definitely not the best person to be writing this post. Infact I have a love for aesthetics and am better off writing or painting! But for a change I was very glad to be a part of the Football tournament this year. You will ask why? Well there was so much excitement around this event – everyone was so charged up and the canteen buzzed with talks of who is in which team etc and I was missing out on all the action, so I enrolled myself to see what the fuss was all about.

And guess what? It paid. Well fortunately for me, I was part of the team which won the runners-up trophy! And I won an individual medal - my first sports win ever!


The match took place in the nearby HIDCO Ground located just behind our Kolkata office complex. There were five teams who participated – Teams A, B, C, D and E. The tournament started with the league matches and after a series of qualifiers, the top two teams went on for the finals. The ultimate face-off was between Team C efficiently captained by Ranjit Shaw and Team D led by Sumanta Sen. Team C emerged as the Winners and Team D (including me) was announced Runners-up.


Given that I played for hardly 5 -6 minutes (given my disposition with sports!) and was mostly in the outfield I managed to get a birds-eye view of all the incidents on-field. Well this happens only if you are one of the lucky few!

So here I am sharing the most memorable and comic moment of the event in one of the qualifiers, my friend Sourav Das was so excited that he forgot which side he was playing for! His teammate Gopal Das managed a great shot and might have scored a goal if it were not for Sourav who saved it – forgetting that he was not the defender of the opponent team but the striker for his own team!

Further, this event helped me stumble upon other ‘sports gems’ like me who manage to mesmerize the audience with their stunning performance and skills – my friend Sujay Ghosh (who played for 8 minutes then returned injured – he was seen on the ground face-down, before he returned) and another friend Alok (who played for 3 minutes then returned injured). Of course I was leader of the gang as I ended up being the 12th man (who played for 4 minutes and returned – touched the ball just once ;-)

What I want to mention is that the idea of these events are not just playing or showing great football skills, instead we were there to have some fun. I am sure everyone enjoyed themselves thoroughly. So – come one come all – play next year and you might get as lucky as me!

Truly a day with a difference!

For photos of the event, click here


Abhisek Gupta is Executive - Human Resource at eRevMax and is responsible for recruitments and HR operations. Abhisek is based out of Kolkata and can be reached at abhisekg@erevmax.com

Monday, September 10, 2012

Selling Rooms


Check out where I am speaking as part of the Northern Ireland Hotel Federation on Wednesday 12th September. Very much looking forward to meeting the hotels in and around Belfast and finding out the challenges they face in their local market.

The travel industry is rather small in Northern Ireland, representing just 4.7% of its workforce and contributing to 2.1% of GDP. The region expects to attract between 1.5 -1.6 million visitors in 2013. For the hotel industry there is a great opportunity to stand out, 30% of all internet searches are related to accommodation for Northern Ireland, so there is room for growth and diversity.

Northern Ireland has fared well so far in 2012 with increases in visitors, holiday-makers and tourism revenue - could this be explained as a result of the Staycation in the UK?

I am interested to learn the scenario for hotels this year, according to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) hotel room sales were up 11% in June 2012 compared to June 2011 and occupancy hitting the 78% mark, up from 70%.

It appears from the statistics that 4* - 5* hotels fared well, infact showing some strong occupancy figures. Though potentially the biggest struggle for hotels appears to be ADR, this has fallen by 1.1% in the past year, it seems that occupancy may have to give way to ADR at this point.

The leading OTAs in Northern Ireland:
Ebookers.ie: One of Ireland’s leading online travel providers and offers flights, car hire and over 25,000 hotels worldwide.
 
HotelClub.ie: Offers over 48,000 hotels Worldwide for bookings up to 365 days in advance.

Laterooms.com: Offers over 500,000 hotel deals throughout the UK and Worldwide. EURO prices available.

Lastminute.ie: Offers a vast range of hotels and discount flights. EURO prices available.

Bookit365.com Offers you direct access to the Hotels.ie and expedia.com range of hotels.

Ryan C Haynes is VP - Marketing Communications at eRevMax and is responsible for driving all PR and Marketing activities for RateTiger and eRevMax brands globally. Ryan is based out of London and can be reached at ryanh@ratetiger.com

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Boutique Hotel Summit: Post-Olympic debrief


On Monday 3rd September the Boutique Hotel News held a panel discussion to review the effect of the Olympics and the results for Independent and Boutique hotels during the period. Held at The Hempel, the session looked at what can be learned from the London Olympics and what to expect over the next 12 months.

The panel consisted of:
Gareth Banner, General Manager, The Hempel
Marie Baxter, General Manager, Town Hall Hotel
Chris Foy, Head of 2012 games unit, Visit Britain
Ruth Mortimer, Editor, Marketing Week
Moderator: Jonathan Langston, Managing Director, TRI Hospitality Consulting


The overview

The London Olympics 2012 is about the long game; promoting and reintroducing Britain back to the world, building the profile of the country across the world. The panel noted that it drew the best of Britain through the media, that was replicated across the world. The mass number of volunteers demonstrated the country’s hospitality and the ability to be welcoming hosts.

Ruth Mortimer said it is hard to say yet how the legacy will be fulfilled, “however the immediate success can be seen in the interest in the Paralympics.”

For The Hempel, the hotel sold out to a single booking which helped them meet their revenue needs. While Town Hall Hotel experienced good occupancy and ADR, but “in all honesty conferencing and banqueting took a dip – we had no weddings or other entertainments because of so many events were happening with the Olympics.” However Marie Baxter noted that the hotel could continue to get success “off the back of marketers, who will bring more people into London."

The panel noted how boutique properties are good for hospitality events with the right amount of space (40-60 rooms) that adds character and history of London through the original building structure that feels historically different.

The underlying theme though was to truly understand what the customer wants from you! With thousands of hotel room nights opening in London that have more luxury capacity and as the Olympic spotlight fades hoteliers need to begin being creative rather than taking everything for granted.

Boutique hotels will need to work hard and be very smart and creative otherwise 2013 will be a difficult year. The UK has had its fair share of international events over the past couple of years with few to come except the Rugby World Cup 2014.  

As hotels in the UK will need to market rates inclusive of VAT, at 20%, the country may start to look expensive, especially to Europeans with the low value of the Euro.

#empty13
The panel talked of the year of 2013 that has little to look forward to. More budgeting, people needing to work harder and hotels to find those hidden gems and stories. The industry will need to look closer at the potential of providing a more personalized experience. By 2014 the country is expecting an additional 4.5 million visitors, a commitment made by VisitBritain.

Distribution
For the hotels, OTA is a dirty word as direct sales are more profitable. However OTAs are needed in January, February and Sunday nights. The Town Hall Hotel works with the Kiwi Collection, Mr and Mrs Smith and other very specific boutique brand agencies, doing the marketing on their behalf. Marie said she works hard to qualify whom they work with and there is a growing understanding with consumers that the best rate is a direct rate with the hotel.
For working with the large OTAs like Expedia and Booking, for them it is a listing, to be on the hotel search engine, but keeping an optimum price on these channels positions them correctly in the market.

Ruth
talked about how other industries have lost control over their inventory Insurance for example - where everything is done through price comparison websites. “People's behavior in how they look has altered and what the hotel suffers from when people are just looking at the big number. It is totally rate driven.”

For the hoteliers in the room being a boutique hotel means they can stand above the rest because they are unique. “We have a unique quality, an independence. We shouldn't be competing on rate but marketing ourselves on distinct differences. We're not cheapest out there and this is why we are not being ashamed of it because we give out more than others.

As for Social Media, Ruth believes it is great if using it for the right reasons. Some for specials, some quick enquiries, some as communities. Such an individual aspect for each business it needs to be considered on how it works best.

There’s a lot more to come from the Olympics, if hotels, the country and everyone works hard enough to bleed as much from the international profile gained as possible.

Ryan C Haynes is VP - Marketing Communications at eRevMax and is responsible for driving all PR and Marketing activities for RateTiger and eRevMax brands globally. Ryan is based out of London and can be reached at ryanh@ratetiger.com