Monthly Archives: August 2016

This Is Hotel Room Distribution

Already an intricate web of online and offline sales channels, the hotel room distribution landscape is becoming even more complex as leisure and business travel begins to blur. Until quite recently, concepts such as “business” and “leisure” could still be counted upon to bring some order – and differentiated pricing, availability and product strategies – to this chaos. But no longer, as distribution channel managers decide how best to manage and distribute their inventory in an omni channel environment.

For the consumer, meta-search engines such as Kayak and Trivago now provide levels of price transparency that would have been unimaginable a few years ago, clearly raising the question of whether any meaningful regional price differentiation is still possible. Mobile sales and same-day reservations platforms such as Hotel Tonight, while offering new opportunities for distressed inventory and converting the offline “walk in” scenario to a more (centrally) controlled online transaction, have significantly raised the bar in terms of what it takes to run an effective “dynamic pricing and inventory strategy”.

At the same time, the “leisurefication” of corporate travel is eroding the position of GDSs as corporate travellers increasingly seek the same choice, brands and tools that they encounter in their private hotel shopping experience. Not surprisingly, Global Distribution Systems (GDS) have been actively integrating the traditional “B2B leisure” and distressed hotel inventory from bedbank and wholesalers such as Transhotel and GTA (e.g. Travelport Rooms & More, Amadeus Multisource) and serving it to a premium corporate travel audience. Accessing the wholesale market to bring to the attention of the corporate travel with the objective of maintaining market share.

While performance might still be “good enough” for many a traditional hotel chain working with log files and booking reports, for anyone seeking a better method and understanding of where business is coming from, it is becoming impossible to navigate this complex landscape without detailed insights into real-time shopping (i.e. search data). In other words, using transaction data to know where searches are coming from (ie channels) and which ones convert into bookings. This dynamic landscape is starting to accentuate the leaders from the laggards and it has never been truer that not all channels or partners are equal.

What is striking is how bad many hotel chains are at calculating the true longer-term cost/benefit of the channels they use, incorporating:

  • Efficient use of their system, beyond simply look to book (e.g. Euros per search etc.)
  • The trade-off between volume, margin and specific segment/niche of demand etc.

To ensure every room is sold for the best possible price using the best sales channel requires a detailed overview of the performance of all channels against key indicators. Such insight across the diverse channels is the best way to achieve three important Hotelier objectives:

  1. Combat the rising costs associated with distribution
  2. Guide sales and marketing efforts to drive occupancy
  3. Help improve profitability

All this requires a detailed and bird’s eye view of channel performance across different players and different channels that focused on detailed search and shopping behavior, rather than the traditional lenses of commission levels, bookings and market silos (e.g. “GDS”, “wholesaler”, “OTA”). In other words, it requires a robust search-based business intelligence capability.

In a world where the channel type or booking patterns fails to identify the shopper, driving conversions increasingly depends on being able to leverage detailed search intelligence to create more relevant offers. More than that, while transparency is driving price commoditisation and any possibilities of “static” price differentiation, the same technology is opening the doors for highly effective contextual price differentiation and revenue management (i.e. based on window of opportunity, rather than static market segmentations). The catch? It requires you to have access, and be able to respond effectively to, detailed real time search information.

An effective distribution strategy that is integrated with revenue management can help forge beneficial links between crucial hotel operating departments and positively influence the pricing strategy. Instead of relying on more static rates uploaded daily or less, more dynamic pricing and room allocations can be applied in response to channel performance insight from search and booking traffic. Today’s leading wholesalers expect real-time access to inventories, usually via XML application interfaces. This gives hotel companies that are fully connected to these third party channels the ability manage yield rates. This evolution towards real-time environment in distribution also enables them to offer late availability not only from their own reservation systems but also to their wholesale partners.

So having set out the arguments of why search and booking intelligence can offer a clearer perspective of hotel room distribution costs, how can this be achieved? Well most hotel groups are already sitting on much of the XML data that can help build the picture, but till now have failed to give it the attention it deserves or appreciated the value it holds. XML is widely used within the travel industry to exchange data such as room availability and rates. The ability to tap into and analyse the wealth of information that is embedded in this flow of transactions up and down the network and to be able to do this in real time opens up possibilities and benchmarking opportunities between the different channels. Essentially, by monitoring and analysing the rich content embedded in all these messages hotel distribution managers can manage their channel SLAs, while marketing managers can monitor their programs, with clear insights into:

  • Consumer demand by capturing exactly what is searched
  • Consumer satisfaction (in terms of the options and prices offered)
  • Whether there are gaps between what is being searched for and what is available
  • Consumer experience in terms of speed of response
  • How many lookers are turned into bookers and at what ratio
  • Any transmission errors and how they are rectified
  • Any degradation or outage in web services that impacts user experience
  • The commercial performance of each channel

Getting the right distribution mix and then monitoring the performance of third party channels is crucial to getting the best returns on a hotel’s inventory. Harnessing this intelligence from search and booking data is today’s competitive weapon to not only understand channels better, but ultimately also the buying habits and preferences of consumers.

For more information about how Hoteliers can tap into intelligence from XML search and booking data

About Matthew Goulden

Matthew Goulden has 25 years of General Management, Sales & Marketing and Business Development experience in the software & automotive industries. Since 2007 Matthew, as CEO, has been responsible for the strategic vision, overall management and business leadership of Triometric, a specialist in online travel analytics.

Prior to joining Triometric in early 2003, Matthew held senior executive positions in VC backed software firms based in the UK and Europe with responsibility for strategy and growth. Matthew started his management career with the Ford Motor Company (Europe), during which time he held global responsibility for the successful implementation of Ford’s worldwide Internet based dealer network.

Today Matthew works closely with the management team and technologists to formulate and drive the strategies that have made Triometric a pioneer and technical leader in business intelligence and API performance monitoring for the online travel market. Always with a hands-on approach he has developed key accounts with Fortune 500 customers including Thomson Reuters, Regus and HSBC and large online travel specialists such as GTA, Hotelbeds and Farelogix.

Matthew holds an MBA from INSEAD business school and a Master of Engineering from Imperial College, London.

Here Four Ways to Manage Disappointed Hotel Guests

According to J.D. Power, hotel satisfaction rates last year were at an all-time high. While you strive to leave your hotel guests satisfied, it’s inevitable that at some point, you will fail to meet a guest’s expectations. It’s important to know that a complaint won’t make or break you, but how you respond to it can.

Our eBook, The Hotelier’s Handbook to Managing Guest Expectations in the Digital Age, offers expert advice on setting and managing guest expectations. Here, we’ll look at four of the most common ways that customers voice their dissatisfaction, and how you can tackle them head-on. With any luck, you will transform someone who might not stay with you again, into an outspoken promoter of your hotel.

1. While the Customer is Still a Guest

This is the best opportunity to nip issues in the bud before it’s too late, and allows your guest to enjoy the rest of their stay.

Complaint: A guest phones the front desk, saying that he’s unhappy with his view.

Solution: If you can’t simply move the guest to another room with a more favorable view, think of offering a thoughtful gesture. Be creative, little things can go a long way! We love this example from Mike McCready, who was disappointed with the view from his Vancouver hotel room, and tweeted about it. When the hotel couldn’t relocate him, they sent some treats up to his room instead.

2. Upon Check-out

This is a bit trickier, but it would not be impossible to resolve the guest’s issue. You can still send them off thinking of your hotel in a good light.

Complaint: Upon checking out, your guest complains about weak WiFi in her room.

Solution: Thank her for bringing the matter to your attention and tell her that you’ll look into it – and then follow through! You can follow up later on with an email, updating her on the status of the investigation and thanking her again for her feedback. This is a great way to show guests you value their feedback and take it seriously.

3. You’ve Been Called Out on Social Media

Social media is an easy go-to for ranting, but it shows you care when you take time to react and respond to customer complaints directly.

Complaint: A recent guest makes a vague Twitter complaint about their stay with you.

Solution: A Tweet is only 140 characters, so there’s not often room for complaints to be very specific. In order to get into the specifics and get more information, take the conversation from a public complaint, to a private direct message. There, you can delve into their concerns in a more discrete manner. Take a queue from larger chains: @HyattConcierge and @HiltonHelp are great examples of addressing social media complaints with incredible response times.

4. Negative Feedback on a Review Site

Getting a bad review isn’t a death knell, and addressing it head-on can help you in the long run. In a PhoCusWright survey, 80% of respondents said that seeing hotel’s respond to reviews makes them feel that the hotel truly cares about its guests and their experience.

Complaint: A guest takes to a review site to complain about several issues with their stay.

Solution: Responding with ire and defensiveness won’t help—most people find aggressive responses offputting. Rather, thank the guest for the feedback, and then professionally and courteously, address their pain points. If you feel that their concerns are valid, you may even ask them to get in touch directly, to see if you can rectify the issues.

Complaints are a fact of life in the hotel industry. You aren’t going to be able or willing to solve all problems for all people…

…but they are a great opportunity for learning and for transforming a disappointed guest from an adversary to an advocate.

Want to know more about about handling guest complaints and managing expectations? Our new eBook can give you the guidance you need!

About Ashley

Ashley is Sojern’s Marketing Manager, EMEA & APAC and works in the London office. Originally from Canada, she’s been living in London for over four years, and is actively trying to fill all the pages in her passport. She has never met a cheese she didn’t like.

Sheraton Annaba Hotel Now Opens in Algeria

Marriott International, Inc (NASDAQ:MAR) today announced further expansion in Algeria with the opening of its seventh hotel in Algeria, Sheraton Annaba. The company already operates six hotels in Algeria including Constantine Marriott Hotel, Renaissance Tlemcen Hotel, Sheraton Club des Pins, Sheraton Oran, Le Meridien Oran and Four Points by Sheraton Oran amounting to 1580 rooms.

With another six hotels under development the company is set to double its footprint in the country. Owned by Société d’Investissement Hôtelière, the imposing and welcoming Sheraton Annaba is conveniently located within easy access from the airport and the city’s most charming attractions. With its iconic and sophisticated design, and appealing dining options, the hotel offers stunning views of the azure Mediterranean Sea and the scenic coastal city.

“We are delighted to strengthen our partnership with Société d’Investissement Hôtelière, as we open our seventh Hotel in Algeria,” said Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International. “The opening of Sheraton Annaba further underlines our commitment to growth and expansion in Algeria, a market which continues to be integral to our overall development strategy throughout Africa.”

Guests can enjoy spectacular sea or city views and an unmatched level of comfort at the Sheraton Annaba. The hotel’s 201 elegantly appointed guestrooms, including 15 Executive Suites and a Presidential Suite, spread over 18 floors, offer a premium Sheraton Signature Sleep Experience. With elevated amenities and services, the hotel delivers effortless and personalized services in a seamless and efficient manner. Club rooms and Suites offer exclusive access to the Sheraton® Club Lounge, providing with additional tailored services and privileges. Located on the 19th floor with mesmerizing views, the Club Lounge provides the perfect backdrop for a complimentary breakfast, tea, coffee, drinks or light snacks to enjoy throughout the day and in the early evening hours.

Whether it’s relaxing at the Lobby Lounge while enjoying Sheraton’s signature ‘Paired’ menu – comprising of artisanal small plates and bar snacks paired with premium wines – or indulging a meal at one of the distinctive restaurants, the Sheraton Annaba welcomes numerous culinary experiences and delights. Guests can relish international Mediterranean dining with live cooking at the all-day dining Feast, savor delicious patisserie at the Deli with take away, treat themselves to an upscale Italian dining experience at Al Pesto located on the 19th floor, or head for a relaxed drink with a game of snooker and some foot-tapping music at the Hugo Bar. In every way, the Sheraton Annaba spoils guests with choice.

With over 1400 square meters of ultra-modern and state-of-the-art meeting facilities, endless connectivity through high-speed wi-fi, and a full-service business center, the hotel offers highly flexible meeting options and personalized services, making it the ideal venue for every need, be it intimate gatherings or larger social events and business meetings. Leisure facilities include a 24-hour fitness center for maximized workouts with cutting-edge equipment, an outdoor pool for a relaxing swim, a Spa and an outdoor tennis court.

Situated on the north eastern coast of Algeria, Annaba is the fourth largest city in the country and the capital of Annaba Province, often referred to as the “Pearl of East Algeria”. It is one of Algeria’s main commercial hubs and also a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches. With a warm and welcoming atmosphere, the Sheraton Annaba is where guests can make the most out of their stay, whether they’re traveling for business or for leisure.

News Hilton Signs Nine Hotels in Mexico

Hilton (NYSE: HLT) today announced the signing of nine properties in Mexico that represent a number of Hilton brands, including Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton by Hilton and Homewood Suites by Hilton, as well as the company’s first dual-branded property in the country. These newly announced properties contribute nearly 1,200 rooms to the hotel company’s pipeline and will join the portfolio of more than 45 existing hotels in Mexico.

“Mexico continues experiencing impressive tourism growth, and the addition of these hotels will help satisfy the increasing demand from both leisure and business travelers,” said Juan Corvinos, managing director, development, Mexico, Central America and the Hispanic Caribbean, Hilton. “With nearly 100 open properties in Latin America, Hilton continues to actively pursue growth opportunities in the region. We currently have a robust pipeline of more than 60 hotels across Latin America, including over 30 projects in Mexico.”

The properties include:

  • Hilton Guadalajara Midtown: Expected to open in Q1 2018, the 226-room Hilton Guadalajara Midtown is located northwest of the city of Guadalajara and will be a major part of the Midtown Jalisco project.
  • The Fives Downtown Hotel Playa del Carmen, Curio Collection by Hilton: Will be Hilton’s first property in the coastal town of Playa del Carmen, along the Yucatán Peninsula’s Riviera Maya strip of Caribbean shoreline. The 93-room new-build property will reflect the region’s natural offerings with a grand wall of live plants and embedded elements that emulate the roots of trees, as well as a skylight. The hotel’s rooftop will feature a restaurant, signature cocktail bar, infinity pool, pool bar and lounge.
  • 1970 Hotel Posadas Guadalajara, Curio Collection by Hilton: The 160-room hotel is in the heart of Guadalajara, globally recognized as the capital of Tequila and Mariachi. The property, which will have a restaurant, bar, gift shop and fitness center, will be centered around an open-air courtyard lobby, featuring industrial metals and raw wood materials with vivid pops of colors and elaborate patterns.
  • Zacatecas Centro Historico, Curio Collection by Hilton: The 19th-century building, in the city of Zacatecas, will undergo interior renovations before its anticipated opening as Zacatecas Centro Historico in early 2018. Its design ethos will focus on simple and elegant finishes in bright colors that enhance the building’s original architecture and details, including its historic exterior, doors and windows. The hotel will feature 32 rooms, while adjoining retail space will house two restaurants, a coffee shop and specialty stores.
  • Hilton Garden Inn Merida: Hilton Garden Inn Merida is slated to open in Q1 2017, with 128 rooms in the area of Altabrisa. Just north of Merida, the hotel will provide convenient access to Plaza Altabrisa, one of the largest shopping malls in the city.
  • Hilton Garden Inn Mexico City Santa Fe: The 189-room hotel is expected to open in late 2017 as part of the first dual-branded Hilton property in Mexico. The 172-room DoubleTree by Hilton Mexico City Santa Fe, the other half of the development, opened last month. The hotel will be located near Centro Santa Fe, the largest shopping center in Latin America.
  • Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton Saltillo: Slated to open in late 2019, the property will bring 200 hotel rooms to the capital of Coahulia – 110 rooms from Hilton Garden Inn and 90 suites from Homewood Suites by Hilton. The hotel was Hilton’s first dual-brand property announced in Mexico and highlights both brands’ commitment to expansion in the region. Recognizing a growing demand amongst Latin American and Caribbean travelers for accommodations with value-added amenities that emphasize comfort, convenience and productivity, Hilton has launched a dedicated strategy to expand both brands’ footprints in the region, including design prototypes developed specifically for the region, and the added backing of Hilton’s proven performance advantage.
  • Hampton Inn by Hilton Cancun: The 134-room Hampton Inn by Hilton Cancun is scheduled to open in Q2 2017 in the Pabellon Cumbres area of the city.

Several Hilton properties opened in Mexico last year, including DoubleTree by Hilton Veracruz, Hilton Garden Inn Hotel Puebla Angelópolis and DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Mexico City Santa Fe, which will be joined by Hilton Garden Inn Mexico City Santa Fe to become Hilton’s first dual-brand property in the country. Also opened last year were Hampton Inn by Hilton Durango, Hampton Inn by Hilton Piedras Negras, Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Salamanca and Hampton Inn by Hilton Irapuato.