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SWOT Analysis Examples in Small Business and Hotels

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 week ago

In this article we'll cover the basics of SWOT analysis and give examples on how small businesses can leverage this strategy to grow their bottom lines with a specific focus on the hotel industry. Too often, hotel managers switch software reactively or because their existing solution broke down.  This is the equivalent of waiting to hire their next team member until the entire existing team has quit. Rather than be reactive, managers should proactively analyze their hotel businesses to identify weaknesses and opportunities then align hotel software procurement around those goals. Rather than deploy new software as a bandaid to a broken system, a reaction to a negative review, or an impulse purchase influenced by marketing campaigns - you should perform careful analysis to decide where you can make pre-emptive investments before such problems arise. Smart technology procurement starts with a rigorous SWOT analysis. SWOT is a tool that helps assess your businesses’ unique opportunities in the context of hospitality trends and get a better sense of where to improve operations before making a purchase. SWOT can help your hotel align its technology investments with key business goals and needs. Use your SWOT analysis to get a snapshot of your hotel’s strengths and weaknesses before investing in software that helps you mitigate risk or capitalize on market opportunities.  Once you understand where you’ve been and where you want to go, you can then find the right tools and partners to help you get there. Here’s how to get started.    What is a SWOT Analysis? A SWOT analysis is a framework for evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your hotel business. The methodology originates from researchers at Stanford in the 1960s and 70s and has since become common practice at Fortune 500 companies and startups alike.  A SWOT can be used on an organization-wide level, or for individual projects within a team. Most businesses use a SWOT analysis to determine if the project or campaign is aligned with the broader organizational benchmarks. For example, a company might perform a SWOT to assess if an online advertising campaign will be worth the investment in comparison to other ongoing initiatives.    SWOT analysis definition SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By identifying these elements around a particular business decision, you can make a more informed choice that uses resources wisely and leads to better outcomes. “Strengths” refers to the tangible and intangible advantages your hotel has at its disposal. This could include your stellar employees, your brand reputation, or your hotel’s location.  “Weaknesses” refers to elements that hold back your hotel from growth or optimal performance. Understanding your weaknesses involves some critical self-evaluation: weaknesses may include budget limitations, lack of in-room technology, poor online reviews, lacking certain facilities or an outdated website.  “Opportunities” refers to things you could do to increase bookings, improve guest satisfaction scores, or boost your profits. Research about market trends and look to guest reviews for ideas of where you can open up new streams of revenue or reach new markets.  “Threats” refers to anything that poses a risk to your hotel. Airbnb, for some hotels, is considered a threat. List out every strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat you can think of, both externally and internally. This will take a fair amount of market research, a deep dive into your hotel data and an investigation into your hotel’s past performance but the work will be well worth your time.  As the old adage goes, “to a ship with no harbor, no wind is the right wind”. A proper SWOT analysis gives your hotel a harbor and guiding light which will save both time and money in the long run when contrasted with making reactive decisions. Next, transfer your elements into a grid-like matrix with four quadrants, one for each category. This format offers a clear snapshot of where you can adjust, invest, and play to your strengths. “Ideally, there are two stages of action you should take upon completing a SWOT analysis,” writes one expert. “First, you should attempt to match your strengths with your opportunities. Next, you should try to convert weaknesses into strengths.”   Here's an illustration of how to implement SWOT in your business from Wordstream   Applying SWOT analysis to your small business and hotel Many small business owners think that SWOT analysis is important only for larger corporations but that couldn't be further from the truth. SWOT can be impactful in every aspect of life and even your personal life. All progress starts with a foundation of self awareness: knowing what you're good at and what you're not, understanding your unique selling proposition, etc. The first half of the SWOT analysis (the SW) helps orient around your internal capabilities. The second half (the OT) helps identify market opportunities to be exploited. By identifying market opportunities and exploiting them by leveraging your strengths you will outperform the competition. One of the most challenging parts of conducting the SWOT is identifying your hotel’s weaknesses. Start with these metrics to understand where your hotel’s strengths and weaknesses lie, and then brainstorm tactics that can turn weaknesses into strengths. Include the following KPIs in your SWOT analysis. 1. Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR), Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Occupancy.  Use STR reports to get the industry benchmarks with data from 63,000 hotels across 180 countries. If the data shows your property is behind the compset on occupancy, for example, you might want to consider using a metasearch management software like D-Edge MetaGenius to maximize reach on metasearch websites and increase occupancy moving forward. More bookings on channels like TripAdvisor or Trivago means less reliance on these third-party sites that diminish your revenue. MetaGenius can manage TripAdvisor, Google Hotel Ads, Trivago, and Kayak all in one intuitive dashboard. It gives you the power to increase the value of each guest booking. 2. EBITDA margin Your hotel’s EBITDA margin adds back depreciation and amortization to operating profit and then takes that figure as a percentage of revenue. It’s an acronym for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization. Compare your EBITDA margin to others in the industry through industry trend reports from brokers like CBRE and JLL.  If your margins are above market averages you are in a great spot, if they’re below average you’ll need to diagnose the root causes and develop strategies to frame this weakness as an opportunity.  If margins are low but RevPAR and ADR are strong relative to the compset you’ve likely got a cost drain in your P&L. How does your staff composition look in relation to the local compset? What is your distribution mix? 3. % of bookings made directly Direct bookings are more profitable than bookings that come through a third party site or OTA. Get your KPI by asking your digital marketing agency for the percentage of bookings that come through your hotel website. Compare that statistic against Phocuswright and Kalibri Labs benchmark reports to see where you stand. If your business mix schews more towards OTA bookings relative to broader segment data then you might want to consider revamping your website or search marketing efforts. You might also want to leverage a tool like D-Edge Smart Channel Manager to manage rates and room availability on hundreds of channels and ensure that you’re consistently offering the best possible rate on your hotel website. 4. Online reviews and rankings Look to hotel review sites like TripAdvisor or Trivago to see where you rank against your competitors. If you’re hurting for five-star reviews, remedy this weakness using reputation management software like D-Edge Sentinel that aggregates reviews from OTAs, social media, and metasearch to show hoteliers what their guests are saying. The dashboard uses an algorithm that adapts to reviews over time, suggesting keywords to use in targeted marketing campaigns and providing insights on areas where your hotel might improve 5. Website traffic Diagnose your website traffic using tools like SEMRush, Similar Web, Alexa. The more traffic your hotel website receives, the more likely it is that you can convert to (profitable) bookings.  Analyze your website traffic in relation to hotels in your compset. If your hotel’s web traffic is below average, you’ll need to improve this metric.  Dive deeper to determine whether it’s an SEO (search engine optimization), social referrals or paid acquisition problem.  The tools mentioned above will show approximate amounts of organic traffic. If your traffic is weak you’ll want to focus efforts on improving your website structure and producing higher value content.  Have your marketer create technical SEO landing pages around popular local attractions or consider creating blog content around popular live events and conferences. Once you’ve cleaned up your hotel website’s SEO it’s time to analyze search marketing and display remarketing.  Use the tools mentioned above to gather spend data and ask yourself whether you’re investing enough in paid acquisition. Paid acquisition and advertising is highly complex, so don’t try this on your own - you’ll want to work with an experienced practitioner and digital marketing agency partner and ideally one who has experience in your local market. Not sure whether these metrics are indicative of strengths or weaknesses? Use last year’s results, or compare your data against competitors to see where you stand. For new investments, compare your budget forecast to the costs of adding a hotel technology tool. Instead of simply throwing money at the problem, invest with a vendor who can pinpoint exactly where you need to improve.    What next? Tying it all together The SWOT analysis leads you to understand where you need to remedy weaknesses and play to strengths. Analysis should begin with a deep dive into goals, competencies and historical performance.  Layer onto this analysis with tactics to help turn weakness to strength and threats into opportunities. Tactics are often based on a reallocation of resources or human capital and the Swiss Army Knife of hotel strategy is technology.  Identify which software categories can help meet your goals then once you know what software you need, identify all the vendors who can help. Some hotels prefer specialists with single-point solutions; others prefer vendors like D-Edge who can provide solutions all across the guest journey. No matter which path you take, make sure you carefully consider your hotel’s position before making a procurement. On the surface SWOT seems simplistic to most learning the concept but it's actually quite complex when executed properly. The main benefit of SWOT is that it gives your business a framework to review your company and external market conditions in order to realign your business strategy and maximize results. SWOT results can be extremely overwhelming after a brainstorm session with your team. Score each opportunity based on: (a) Feasibility - how likely is it that you can succeed given your strengths and weaknesses) and (b) Impact - i.e. if you succeed, how impactful will that success be on business results. Once you've scored based on feasibility and impact you should sort order and prioritize the highest expected value opportunities then start with the biggest opportunities first and work your way down the list. SWOT analysis will help you prioritize decisions and resource allocation to run a more efficient hotel business. By prioritizing resources more effectively you'll drop more to the bottom line. By checking any business decision against the priorities that you develop in your SWOT analysis you will save time and internal conflict because every decision will have a clear evaluation rubric - this is especially important when shifting focus or resources between departments.

Great Tech is the Key to Surviving the Thomas Cook Crisis

by
Hotel Tech Report
2 weeks ago

The collapse of global package tour operator and airline Thomas Cook was notable for its global impact. The company left hundreds of thousands of passengers stranded abroad and jeopardized the vacation plans of millions more. We’re not going to report on the tragic collapse of Thomas Cook since the news has been widely shared by nearly every major media outlet over the last couple of days.  This article is intended to help hoteliers like you that have been blindsided by this event and specifically those in European holiday markets who have been disproportionately affected. Wherever there is a crisis, there’s also learning and opportunity. This is a wake up call for hoteliers to strengthen their operations by diversifying their channel mix, as the insolvency highlights vulnerabilities of depending too much on a single demand channel. Below we outline 5 lessons to help hoteliers convert this short term crisis into long term opportunity but first we’ll give a quick background on what went down.   A quick overview of the Thomas Cook fiasco for those who aren’t familiar The venerable brand, which was founded in 1851 and originated the concept of packaged tours, served 19 million people a year across 16 countries. That’s a lot of empty beds at hotels in these countries, leaving many hoteliers desperate for a lifeline.  Hoteliers report that Thomas Cook hasn’t made its payments since July.  And, as the Thomas Cook share price tumbled to just £0.0345 on its last day of trading before collapsing, it's unclear when -- or if -- hotels will receive these long-overdue payments. In many of these communities, the bankruptcy is a devastating blow to the local hospitality industry. In popular summer destinations such as Greece, Spain and Turkey, Thomas Cook accounts for 25% of their business. The pain is far-reaching: Thomas Cook accounted for 3.6M trips to the Canary Islands last year.  In Turkey, the local hotel association says many hotels are still owed £100,000 – £200,000 apiece. Spanish Trade Union expects more than 10% of it’s 130,000 local hospitality workers to be affected by the collapse. Greece’s PanHellenic Federation of Hoteliers projects losses up to €300m, of which the island of Crete accounts for €80-100m. In Tunisia, 45 hotels dealt exclusively with Thomas Cook, which reportedly owes €60 million for stays in July and August. #1: Use technology to diversify your channel mix First and foremost, hotels must avoid reliance on a single channel. The Thomas Cook example makes this abundantly clear: fewer dominant channels dramatically increase risk. Expanding your sources of demand protects you not only from the extreme cases bankruptcy but also evens out the natural ebbs and flows. With a diversified channel mix, unexpected dips in demand will sting less. A metasearch manager, such as D-EDGE MetaGenius or Triptease Attract, maximizes your hotel’s presence on meta-search platforms. The technology optimizes your spend so that you can capture bookings without spending too much. Marketing spend can also easily be ramped up and down to account for any unexpected need periods. Channel managers, like the one from SiteMinder, dramatically expand the number of channels your hotel is distributed to. The right channel manager puts your hotel in front of consumers you may never have access to, such as inbound tourists from China. This expands your reach and lessens your reliance on only a few channels.    #2: Capture maximum revenue from your existing guests Well done! You’ve won the booking and the guest has checked in. Now what? Rather than pursue the next booking, it's time to make the most out of your existing guests. Open the lines of communication, craft compelling offers for upsells and on-property amenities and make it a priority to increase incremental revenue. With a solid ancillary strategy, you’ll be more empowered and less at the whims of others. Ancillary upsell software, like that offered by Oaky and Revinate, helps you earn more revenue from things like up-selling room upgrades and other ancillaries. Since up-selling gives you the ability to earn more from the same guest, you'll be more profitable -- and less vulnerable to revenue dips from fewer bookings. A guest messaging platform, such as Whistle, Zingle, and Bookboost, gives you all kinds of new ways to communicate with guests. You could implement a chat widget on your website, use text messages to talk with on-property guests, or leverage automated communications to ensure the best guest experience. Each of these touchpoints is an opportunity to sell more to current guests. And, as you deliver better service, improved guest satisfaction will boost your reputation online. In-room tablets, like those from SuitePad, INTELITY, and Crave Interactive, are another way to connect with guests. As in-room concierges, tablets allow guests to find relevant information easily and quickly, which boosts satisfaction and leads to incremental revenue from selling in-destination activities and on-property amenities like spa and room service. More money from existing guests makes a healthier, more resilient business.   #3: Fortify your direct channel to shore up leakage Leakage costs your hotel money. Each time someone books through an OTA or other third-party (rather than your direct channel) that’s leakage. There’s a related cost to each of those bookings, a cost that could be eliminated by capturing the booking directly. Reducing leakage means doing whatever you can to build your direct channel. With the right tech, your hotel can compete directly with OTAs by providing a similar booking experience. Proper digital marketing and web design ensures that your hotel presents a modern face to potential guests. Vendors (such as Screen Pilot and Travel Tripper) leverage years of hospitality experience to get you more direct bookings online. With an intuitive interface and appealing design, your website can become a great calling card. The agency can then help optimize your digital marketing efforts to get you more bookings at lower cost. A hotel booking engine works 24/7 so guests can book rooms right on your website to keep you competitive with other online platforms. Mews, Net Affinity and TravelTripper integrate a booking engine into your property management system to make inventory instantly bookable online. Long gone are the days when guests would call to book; to avoid leakage, you must provide instant booking on your website. With a direct booking platform, like those built by Triptease and Hotelchamp, you’ll have the tools to convert more lookers to bookers on your website. These tools transform your website into a conversion engine. Then, as you invest more in digital marketing to bring people to your website, you’ll see greater return on your investment because the site is primed to convert.    #4: Reduce friction for your sales team Properties of all sizes can benefit tremendously from improved productivity on the sales side. By reducing friction for your sales team, you’ll improve outcomes, compress the sales cycle and close more group business. Closing more deals has the added advantage of boosting morale for your sales team, which builds momentumAre As your hotel endeavors to build a bigger group business, best-in-class technology amplifies this momentum and evens out the normal fluctuations in transient demand. With an online meeting booking platform, such as MeetingPackage, planners can self-serve. Many planners prefer self-service, especially for smaller events. An online booking platform streamlines inbound requests and reduces turnaround time. That way your sales team can focus on more complex offerings and close major deals that can make or break an entire year’s revenue target. A sales CRM for hotels is the heart of your sales operations. With powerful functionality from vendors like Social Tables, Amadeus Delphi or Event Temple, your sales team stays organized so they can prioritize prospects and pursue leads without delay. A few other upsides: Managing outreach in a single place encourages a collaborative mindset, fosters transparency and builds trust.    #5: Bring back your old guests Past guests are your greatest assets. They’ve stayed with you before and know your hotel. You also know them somewhat, as you have already begun building a relationship. That means you don't have to introduce your property or compete for attention in a sea of unfamiliar hotels. Loyalty gives you more control over your business; it reduces reliance on third parties and diversifies your revenue streams. Loyal guests are also great advocates, enhancing your online reputation and promoting your hotel by word-of-mouth. Guest CRM and email marketing tools, like those from Cendyn and Revinate, are a hotel marketer’s best friend. Leveraging your database of past guests into new bookings requires thoughtful segmentation and effective messaging -- both of which are made easier with dedicated CRM and email marketing software. By crafting targeted campaigns based on rich guest profiles, you'll generate revenue from existing assets, all without any cost or commissions. And guests will appreciate the personalized approach. A loyalty program for independents can drive repeat visits and encourage more customer loyalty -- even without the global reach and recognition of the major brand. For instance, The GuestBook rewards guests with either 5% cash back, a 5% donation to their preferred charity, or 10% “Trip Cash” for future reservations. These incentives give independents another way to foster loyalty and build a healthy book of repeat business that’s not dependent on third parties.   *** Thomas Cook shutting down is a devastating blow to communities, businesses and consumers around the globe. It puts pressure on local economies in many countries. But it also provides a valuable lesson to hoteliers about relying too heavily on a single demand partner; diversification really does help mitigate risk. Hoteliers have some powerful tools at their disposal to build a resilient business that can endure even the most unexpected disruptions.

Hospitality Needs to Learn From Hollywood How to Survive

by
Jordan Hollander
2 weeks ago

On October 16th and 17th hoteliers from around the world will flock to the world’s entertainment capital in Los Angeles for INDIE Congress 2019, hosted by the Independent Lodging Congress, which has quickly become hospitality's most glamorous and diverse industry event.  Indie Congress is the cure to boring hotel conferences that have become status quo. The conference features disruptive speakers such as Ace Hotels’ Brad Wilson and JDV founder Chip Conley. It’s funny that we call hotel chains “brands” because while they have strong parent company brand affinity (e.g. Marriott, Hilton, etc.) the individual portfolio ‘brands’ rarely resonate in the hearts and minds of consumers.  There are exceptions in the luxury segment such as St. Regis and Ritz Carlton but what imagery do you associate when you hear Homewood Suites? How about Comfort Inn?  Bleeding edge hotel brands are being created in the independent sector with pioneers like Bunkhouse Hotels (Standard Hotels), Sydell Group and Mama Shelter.  Those interested in learning about building real brands would be wise to check out Indie Congress next month since all of the top dogs will be there. Old school chain operators view hotels like factories that process widgets and those widgets just happen to be guests.  This “factory mentality” worked 20 years ago when all that guests expected was a consistent experience and that dynamic created an explosion of chain hotels.  During that same time period competition has ratcheted up and so have guest expectations.  Today’s guests desire authenticity and don’t want to be treated like factory widgets. It’s no wonder they increasingly want to stay in AirBnBs.   So why did INDIE Congress select LA for the show? Los Angeles hotel properties are constantly vying to host celebrities, awards show after parties and more.  In order to secure that valuable business they have been forced to learn from Hollywood or perish. Specifically, LA hotels have cracked the code of what it means to create truly unique experiences and build blockbuster brands. “Some of the strongest hospitality innovation in the world is coming out of Los Angeles where hotels have followed the lead of Hollywood Studios who know how to deliver truly differentiated guest experiences.  Hollywood is increasingly forced to create blockbusters like Avengers Endgame that bring moviegoers out of their Netflix streaming slumbers and into theaters. Hotel brands like Hoxton and Ace are doing the same thing and are wooing guests away from substitutes like AirBnB,” says Hotel Tech Report CEO Jordan Hollander. Even if your hotel isn’t in Los Angeles you should be taking notes from Hollywood and the entertainment industry - because it’s not so different from ours.   ILC visits 5 hotels over the course of 3 days (pictured: Hotel Figueroa)   Hollywood’s big lesson on how to handle disruption As in home streaming technology continues to improve, Hollywood has increasingly needed to address similar challenges to the hotel industry.  Hollywood and hospitality are both hyper competitive and rapidly changing industries being disrupted by digital distribution and disintermediation. The explosion of streaming services has pushed content creators to deliver mind-blowing experiences where the rise of alternative accommodations has forced hotel brands to step up just the same or risk fading into obscurity.  At Indie Congress, hoteliers will go behind the scenes with Jeph Loeb, Marvel’s head of television. Marvel is Hollywood’s golden child and Disney’s crown jewel. Marvel’s television division is spending record levels to create cinema like experiences at home with a slew of hit shows like Daredevil, The Punisher and Agent Carter. Los Angeles has no tolerance for boring hotels and has consequently become a hub for blockbuster experiences.  Petite Hermitage features a Soho House style members only club (only more exclusive) with weekend tarot card readings and jazzy burlesque shows.  The Magic Castle features an invite only black tie magic show and the Hollywood Roosevelt famously hosted Beecher’s Madhouse (now shuttered), a debaucherous nightclub and variety show frequented by the likes of Miley Cyrus and The Kardashians. Admittedly not all hotels are in markets that can support these kinds of experiences but every hotel team can channel their “inner Hollywood” to bring differentiated, entertaining and memorable experiences to their guests.   Cookie cutter brands don’t cut it anymore The irony of it all is that the great brands of tomorrow are being created by independent hotels today.    The next generation of hospitality brand pioneers will share their creativity at Indie Congress with hopes to inspire a generation of hoteliers that say no to ‘boring’ as a brand.  Many of the world’s bleeding edge hotel groups have flagship properties in Los Angeles such as: Nobu, Mama Shelter, Hoxton, Ace, Standard. The list goes on and on. Many of these “Marvels of Hospitality” will also be in attendance at the show.   Hospitality legend Chip Conley imparts wisdom upon INDIE Congress attendees   Indie Congress has strategically chosen to visit many of these spaces during the event and each venue has been hand selected to stop boredom in its tracks.  The conference starts with a ‘saloon crawl’ to edgy venues like the Ace and Hoxton. The crawl was designed to encourage attendees to mingle and share ideas instead of getting stuck in one conversation that happens too often at conferences.  The conference itself will be held in 3 separate and equally stunning spaces. The geography and the flow of the show were designed to help attendees bring Hollywood like experiences to hoteliers from around the world. The hospitality industry too often falls victim to cookie cutter.  Even if you’ve got a 3-star property in Milwaukee you can bottle the ethos of Hollywood and use it to make adjustments that will help you beat out the compset and have fun while doing it. The hotel industry has developed a pretty twisted sense of the word brand.  Chains are extremely effective at scaling consistency but culture isn’t something that scales easily.  The real hospitality pioneers like Ace’s Brad Wilson, Palihouse’s Avi Brosh and Viceroy’s Bill Walshe will be in LA next month so be sure to get your ticket before it’s too late.

SiteMinder: This is What You Need to Know About The Guest Acquisition Platform

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 weeks ago

Guest acquisition costs have been rising for years. One study from 2014, sponsored by the Hospitality Asset Managers Association, found that total guest acquisition costs (commissions, marketing, and transaction fees) rose 23% between 2009 and 2012  -- even as room revenue grew 23% in that same period. Rising costs dampened the benefits of that growth in guest-paid revenue.  It’s not just rising commissions that impact the profitability of a hotel’s guest acquisition strategy. There’s also the costs of search engine marketing (getting guests to your website through paid ads) and search engine optimization costs (making your website perform well in organic search). Cindy Estes Green, co-founder of Kalibri Labs, says that hoteliers must view effective distribution as the solution to these rising costs:    “The real solution to managing these costs is to manage the mix of channels to get what we call the optimal channel mix for a particular hotel. Every hotel gets business from a mix of many channels so hoteliers need to consciously think about and decide how much they want to get from each channel, knowing how much revenue each channel can generate and how much cost is associated with getting that revenue.” To arrive at a detailed understanding of each channel’s revenue potential, it takes a unified approach to guest acquisition. Hoteliers must be intentionally and thoughtfully build a demand generation strategy that leverages third-parties, direct bookings, and data to bring in more bookings. Enter SiteMinder. Its guest acquisition platform is currently used by over 35,000 hotels in 160 countries generating over 87 million reservations worth over $28 billion each year. With that sort of volume, the platform has become a world-class tool for hotels of all sizes to drive more profits through smarter guest acquisition. As SiteMinder’s CEO said in a recent interview with HTR, “best-of-breed solutions accessible to every type of hotel, irrespective of their size, budget or structure.” With this broad toolset, hotels can sell wherever their guests want to buy, across all stages in the guest journey. From setting rates based on compset data via its channel manager, maximizing direct bookings with its hotel website and booking engine, or building a book of business via intermediaries, SiteMinder aids acquisition throughout each phase of the guest journey. Here are three ways that SiteMinder keeps your hotel competitive in the battle to acquire guests, so you’re building a profitable (and reliable) source of business.   #1: Maximize margins with a hotel website and booking engine One of the most reliable ways to boost margins is to capture more direct business. By booking more guests through your website, you’ll keep more guest revenue for yourself -- and rely less on the whims of third-party channels. SiteMinder’s hotel website builder, called Canvas, is another tool to make your website a direct booking machine. Canvas ties directly into SiteMinder’s Booking Button, a commission-free online booking engine which can also integrate right into your existing website.  Another cool feature we love about The Booking Button is that it allows multiple payment options and the ability to take bookings on your Facebook page. SiteMinder also supports localized language and currency: Both features of the platform can be delivered in 20 languages and local currencies. In addition to providing a seamless online experience, it allows you to personalise every step of the booking process with promotions, extras and nurture emails to drive guest loyalty. With SiteMinder, you can market packaged deals and seasonal promotions, as well as target guest types such as groups, families and business travellers. These personalizations drive incremental revenue and increase your overall profitability. The booking engine also delivers “instant book” functionality, so that guests experience a modern booking flow that allows them to book rooms instantly. By eliminating delays, your hotel wins the guest and doesn’t give them a reason to search elsewhere. In reviews, HTR users emphasize the importance of SiteMinder’s direct booking engine in helping them avoid double bookings. Many reviewers also mention the company’s openness to new feature requests and the steady cadence of new feature releases.      Read more SiteMinder reviews like this one   #2: Increase occupancy with a channel manager Hotels benefit from broad exposure -- yet many hotels rely on only one or two channels for the bulk of their bookings. That’s why implementing the right hotel channel manager can have such dramatic impact on a hotel’s bottom line: broader distribution means more bookings and higher top-line revenue. SiteMinder’s Channel Manager (a 2018 HotelTechAwards finalist) reaches over 700 channels. This broad reach gives hotels the ability to implement a multi-channel distribution strategy that keeps properties visible wherever travelers shop. Wide distribution means more exposure, which then leads to more bookings. “SiteMinder’s Channel Manager has empowered our hotel business to increase year-on-year room nights by 45 percent and year-on-year revenue by 33 percent, while significantly reducing the cost of acquiring guests.” -Max Herbst, Head of Revenue Management, DORMERO Hotels The channel manager also ensures that inventory is consistent across channels. When rates and availability are the same on every channel, hoteliers can reduce revenue leakage associated with selling lower-than-expected rates. Proper channel management gives hoteliers back some time in the day to accomplish other tasks. Rather than manually updating across multiple extranets -- a process that’s also prone to human error -- hoteliers only have to update once. This consistency actually results in more than just increased sanity, more accurate revenue management, and a better guest experience: it can also boost rankings and visibility on specific channels. Since some channels have set content requirements, such as real-time availability, a channel manager primes your hotel’s inventory for peak placement. It’s never a good thing to be punished for uneven availability and mismatched pricing.  In many SiteMinder channel manager reviews, the focus is on ease-of-use, setup support, and the clarity and conciseness of the UI. While some reviews also point to a longer-than-expected wait time for support requests, others highlight how fast customer service responds to their issues.     Read more SiteMinder reviews like this one   #3: Stay ahead of your competition with hotel business intelligence Data-driven decision making shouldn’t only benefit larger chains and bigger properties. By monitoring and responding as needed to competitor’s rates, hotels of all sizes can make smarter pricing decisions that optimize revenue. In fact, acting on this type of market intelligence data can have a healthy impact on your hotel’s profitability.  That’s where SiteMinder’s Prophet comes in. It’s a market intelligence tool that keeps you ahead of your competition, regardless of size. The tool pulls in data from a variety of sources so you can do mission-critical analysis such as: Identify guest booking patterns: Monitor the performance of each of your online distribution channels – by revenue and room nights generated – along with the impact of your online marketing campaigns to understand what’s driving conversions. Monitor your competitors. Potential guests are comparing your hotel to your compset. SiteMinder gives you a dashboard snapshot for benchmarking against those rates. Since you don’t have to manually monitor these rates, you can spend more time building strategy around adjusting your own Best Available Rates in response to competitor’s moves.  Achieve rate parity. Inconsistent rates cause confusion among consumers -- and undercut your bottom line. SiteMinder helps you monitor your hotel’s rates across all marketing and sales channels so that you don’t lose revenue to lower-than-expected rates. Rate disparity can even trigger an alert so you can act fast to resolve the issue. Prophet ensures that hotels of all sizes, regardless of data sophistication, can understand and act on relevant data -- even data housed in disparate systems, as one customer explains in the following review:   Learn more about SiteMinder's Channel Manager Tend to hotel guests, not technology The driving force behind SiteMinder’s comprehensive guest acquisition platform is to help hoteliers focus on what matters: tending to guests. To keep your team in front of guests, and not computers, SiteMinder’s complete platform syncs automatically in real-time, meaning that relevant information is updated in real-time as changes are made. Seamless sync automates the flow of information between each of your systems, which in turn reduces your guest acquisition costs, promotes a flawless guest experience during booking. It also frees up time for other tasks by eliminating manual updates of extranets and lengthy data analysis. By providing hoteliers with a diverse set of tools that help hotels acquire more guests, SiteMinder enables a tech-forward approach that doesn’t sacrifice hospitality. When hotels tend to guests, rather than struggling with technology, guests have better experiences, hotels gain better reputations, which ultimately leads to more revenue. It’s a virtuous cycle that delivers on the promise of a powerful guest acquisition platform.

Mailchimp: Should You Use it For Your Hotel Email Marketing?

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 weeks ago

Email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to reach customers, according to research by Hubspot and a recent report from the New York Times. Their research shows that email campaigns generate $38 for every $1 spent: an ROI of 3,800% that makes email easily one of the best performing marketing tools at your disposal. In the competitive hotel industry, email is critical for building 1:1 relationships with guests that lead to repeat bookings and guest loyalty. There are many general email campaign tools on the market, with MailChimp being one of the most popular options. While these tools offer standard email marketing capabilities that can improve your hotel’s marketing ROI, a industry focused hotel CRM and email marketing platform that is specialized for the hospitality industry delivers better results, guest insight, and increased revenue. Here’s why.   The landscape of hotel email marketing Email marketing is one of the most powerful ways to build relationships with your guests. First and foremost, it’s one of the few channels that hotels own; by growing and maintaining your email list – and using this customer touchpoint thoughtfully – hotels reap the benefits of reputation management, more direct bookings, increased customer loyalty, and lower marketing costs. When email campaigns are backed by thoughtful, data-driven strategy, hotel owners can capture higher ROI by redirecting spend from platforms like Google and Facebook.     Great email marketing requires four ingredients:  Segmentation: using detailed attributes beyond gender or age, such as loyalty, lifetime spend, frequency of stay, or recency of stay.  Relevant messaging: send content that is relevant as measured by an increase in conversions or a decrease in unsubscribes.  Timely automation: when the guest receives the email is everything. Data analysis from Revinate shows that 98% of all upsell revenue came from pre-arrival emails; create relevant campaigns and automatically send them at key moments in the guest journey (before check-in, for example).  Benchmarking and guest insight: use a tool that can evaluate your campaigns’ performance based on geography, segment, and email type to constantly iterate and improve. Setting up your email campaigns takes the right tools – specifically, the right customer relationship management software that blends marketing automation with other integrations and in-person, text, and online customer touchpoints. Hotels seeking a quick and straightforward marketing tool might consider MailChimp to achieve their marketing goals – yet they would be missing out on the better capabilities of an email marketing tool built to handle the needs of the hospitality industry.   Mailchimp Pricing and Usability are Attractive for Hotels MailChimp is a good alternative for hotels seeking a simple, effective email marketing tool separate from their CRM platform. MailChimp boasts 15 million customers who send over a billion emails each day. It’s easy to set up and use, quick to learn and includes the core features that hotel owners need to run their email marketing efficiently (automation, A/B testing, and segmentation, etc.).    The biggest benefits to working with MailChimp include: Budget-friendly: depending on your needs, MailChimp is affordable with plans ranging from $0 - $300/month.  User-friendly: MailChimp’s templates and drag-and-drop editor tool make it easy to design stylish, mobile-friendly emails that get opened (no HTML experience necessary).  Low learning curve: this cloud-based platform is accessible from any hotel property, with no complicated download/install process. MailChimp is accessible via mobile, tablet, and on any browser.  As a general email marketing tool, MailChimp is a solid option. But for the hotel industry, where proper segmentation requires a direct 2-way PMS integration, use a CRM and marketing automation tool that can go the distance.   Winner: Mailchimp Alternatives Designed for the Hotel Industry MailChimp clearly accomplishes a lot in a very user- and wallet-friendly platform, yet there are a few areas where the tool falls short. Hotels are better served by combination email marketing and hotel CRM system such as Revinate. Revinate blends CRM and marketing automation to target promotions and to improve the on-property guest experience. Top rated hotel crm systems pick up where MailChimp falls short on segmentation, automation, and benchmarking. MailChimp’s limitations lie in the platform’s inability to get super-targeted with hotel industry specific data. MailChimp can’t interface with a hotel’s property management system; that makes it nearly impossible to properly segment an audience. Revinate uses your hotel’s PMS to segment customer attributes and behavior for better relevancy in each e-mail message. Likewise, MailChimp can’t automate segmentation; as data points like RFM (recency, frequency, monetary value) and LOS (length of stay) change, your email campaigns will become irrelevant unless you pair your email marketing tool directly to your PMS. Revinate can update your customer segments using stay history, campaign engagement, post-stay surveys, and total lifetime value. Lastly, syncing your email marketing tool to your PMS gives you better reports. When working in MailChimp, you lose the ability to directly attribute revenue to specific campaigns or segments. The upsell reporting tool in Revinate delivers insight on your upselling efforts by tracking revenue per upgrade. Users reported 73% higher revenue per recipient by working with a tool like Revinate via smart segmented campaigns. MailChimp is a fine option for single property (under 10-rooms) hotel owners seeking to run their own email marketing campaigns for the first time at a very basic level. However, linking your email marketing tool with data from your CRM and PMS is without a doubt a better strategy. Hotels see higher upsell revenue, better engagement, and improved customer loyalty by working with a tool tailor-made for the hospitality industry.  Dedicated platforms like Revinate also provide coaching and guidance from industry experts, benchmarks to help you assess your progress and are constantly developing new features designed specifically for the needs of modern hoteliers such as multi-property reporting functionality and revenue attribution dashboards.

6 Hotel Website Design Lessons From the Best eCommerce Companies

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 weeks ago

E-commerce companies have perfected the art and science of converting website visits into sales. Amazon, Zappos, and Expedia have all optimized their sites, down to the color of the “buy now” button, to ensure casual browsers become active customers. The hotel industry can learn a thing or two from these e-commerce giants. While many of the small changes we make to hotel websites appear to be small, insignificant changes, the results speak for themselves. Simple copy updates and color schemes can increase revenue by double and triple percentage points. Hoteliers seeking to improve revenue can draw from ecommerce web optimization lessons to update their website and booking experience accordingly.   Integrate FAQs within the booking experience Guests love to ask for a room upgrade – before they’ve even seen where they’re staying. Travelers are picky about their hotel rooms and have a lot of questions when seeking a place to stay. The same is true for shoppers on e-commerce platforms, especially those looking for a specific piece of clothing. Roller-skating retailer, Roller Skate Nation, ran an experiment where they added a pro tip to their product pages adding, “when in doubt, size up – compensate for the extra room with an additional pair of socks.” Turns out: it paid off, big-time. Checkouts shot up by 69%, and customer affinity grew as well. The key takeaway: give guests all the information they need to make an informed purchase decision. When you know that guests are constantly asking for a certain piece of information, provide those details upfront on the website. For example, BookAssist client Buddha Bar Hotel in Prague provides extensive lists of their room amenities alongside detailed photos of their rooms. Things like the size of the room, type of showerhead, and brand of soap, and type of coffee available are all listed right up front in the booking process to make the purchase decision easy. Hotels that want to take this one step further should consider adding their own ‘pro tips’ into the booking flow.  Add tips throughout the booking flow that help contextualize each room type. If you don’t know this information intuitively head to your reputation management system like Revinate and TrustYou to do some in-depth research on your guests.  Let’s say that your largest suite gets the highest reviews from business travellers who like that it is quiet during the day which is great for work. That’s a great pro-tip you can add into the booking flow to entice business travellers that contextualized the room type even beyond the raw data like square footage and amenities.   Remove distractions from your hotel website Retailer FSAstore.com is an e-commerce site that accepts payments from Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). In seeking to optimize their customer conversion rates, the site experimented with removing sub categories and other top-bar navigation from the landing page. FSAstore.com removed sub-categories from their homepage to try to help visitors focus on their featured products – those high-margin or best-selling products that needed to catch a customer’s eye. That simple change led to an increase in revenue per visitor of 53.8%. Bottom line: fewer options leads to higher conversions. When your hotel’s webpage is frequently viewed by guests at the top of the purchase funnel – casual browsers – removing distractions is a key way to draw a visitor deeper into your site. Remove noise from your landing page and instead, lead visitors to focus on featured products, thereby completing a purchase at higher conversion rates.  Too often hotels like to be super unique in the way they layout their websites at the expense of confusing prospective bookers. Sorrento’s Grand Hotel Royal offers a great example of a clean, straightforward home page designed by BookAssist that promotes the destination’s top products: wellness, a private beach, and their member’s club. When a visitor enters the website, the menu items immediately funnel you into their offers, property information, and rooms and suites. As you think through your hotel’s purchase funnel, recognize the steps on your webpage a visitor must take to complete a booking. Then, make that journey as short as possible.    Use a grid layout to showcase your available rooms A website is more than just a shiny, virtual sales brochure. Of course, you need nice pictures and attractive design elements (more on that in a minute). But, the way your website looks can impact your sales on a psychological level. The more intuitive and easy to understand your hotel’s website is, the better chance you’ll convert viewers to bookings. One A/B test performed by Smartwool and Blue Acorn tested two different formats for their content. The first was “unique and aesthetically pleasing.” The control, conversely, used a straightforward grid layout. The results were surprising: “Despite how fantastic the SmartWool and Blue Acorn teams thought the control product page looked, a more uniform design turned out to be better for conversions.” Repetitive image attributes, like the same size image laid out in rows and columns, enables users to scan quickly and efficiently find what they’re seeking. Design is only as good as the functionality it supports. The more uniform you can make your product and room type pages, the better chance you have of inducing a guest to checkout. Look to the rooms and suites page of Prague’s Golden Crown Hotel to see how hotel web design and marketing agency BookAssist leverages a grid layout to market the property.   Experiment with call-to-action text Call-to-action (CTA) buttons are low-hanging fruit that hoteliers often ignore. But, research shows that simple updates to your CTAs can result in a 16% increase in monthly revenue. Key to writing a good CTA is giving a visitor an action to take. Instead of writing “reservations,” change your booking button to say “reserve now.” Experiment with A/B testing to see what language works best, especially if your site will be translated into different options. For example, Hotel Bastille Speria uses “book now” which can be translated easily by Google’s translation plug-in.    Make booking as straightforward as possible  Just as your site should eliminate any distractions from getting to the booking page, the booking process needs to be as straightforward as possible. The VeggieTales store ran an experiment that removed the top navigation from the checkout page. The original page included large, bright and distracting banners. These banners sidetracked visitors from getting where they originally intended to go – leading to page bounces and cart abandonment. When VeggieTales removed their category banners, sitewide revenue increased by 38%. Don’t give your guests too many options once they’ve taken further steps toward conversion. Navigation menus and other sidebar options give a guest too many ways to exit the checkout cart. The Arcotel Hotels website by BookAssist is one great example of an efficient checkout process that nudges guests to complete a booking. As you go through the final reservation process, a visitor can see what they need (upgrades, pricing, dates, and more) and expand for more information. By expanding their information, the hotel brand prevents prospective guests from clicking back and abandoning their cart enticing them one layer deeper without showing too much too soon.   Use high-quality product images and videos This goes without saying: if your images don’t immediately grab a visitor’s attention, you’ve lost their booking. Videos or moving images are even better. A great example of a hotel website that utilizes media to its full power is that of Fontecruz Hoteles. Fontecruz uses high-res imagery and looping video to showcase its properties in Spain and Portugal. It works: one case study found that by simply adding video, you can increase revenue per visitor by 27%. A 360-degree video can increase RPV by another 12%. Make sure the images or videos you use are optimized for page speed and views on mobile devices and experiment with different formats to before you invest heavily in new design elements.

So You've Got a Great Hotel Website, Now What?

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Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

It’s a best practice in the hotel industry to update your hotel’s website at least once every two to five years. A hotel website design refresh alone costs a minimum of $2,000-$5,000 and up to $30,000 for a premium custom hotel website. For websites more than three years old, material technical updates need to be made to keep the guest booking experience (UX) running smoothly which in turn improves everything from web visitation metrics like time on site which then impact SEO and even paid advertising. Beyond just putting a fresh coat of paint on your hotel website, hotel owners need to make sure the page loads quickly, the site is mobile-optimized, and that it has a high conversion rate. These updates can be pricey, but worthwhile. The site needs to be structured for optimal SEO rankings, with updates to keyword research integrated regularly. New content should be added to the site to keep the page looking fresh and showcase anything new happening at the property. Above all, the page needs to work well, deliver a great booking experience, and improve the visibility of the hotel so guests can find and book their perfect room easily. It’s an investment to keep your hotel’s web presence in peak condition. Updating your hotel website is just the first step, however, to increasing direct bookings and improving the profitability of your property. Here’s what to do once you’ve optimized your website.   Optimize pricing to attract more prospective guests Our first priority as a hotel marketer is always ensuring that we have taken steps to optimize our direct channel.  Once our website is optimized we want to make sure that we are pricing our rooms correctly relative to the compset. Enter: market intelligence and rate shopping software. A rate shopping tool gives you the data you need to make an informed decision on pricing. For example, RateScreener integrates market rates and event calendar data to provide the best possible pricing for supply and demand at any given time. Tools like this one can monitor competitor rates using local event and weather data, demand models, and historic trends. Automating this process is one of the most important things you can do after you upgrade your hotel’s website. All of these steps are crucial to optimizing marketing strategies. And, fortunately, there are many great marketing tools out there that can connect you with more channels, optimize your pricing, or help you manage your reputation. However, working with one vendor to deploy all these marketing tactics has more advantages than working with multiple vendors. Work with one vendor to utilize your resources effectively by streamlining your contracts, managing your budget, and integrating your reporting   Use paid acquisition to maximize your website investments Now that your website is set up to convert better and rooms are priced correctly, there are three marketing plays you can use to increase direct views of your hotel’s webpage.  Metasearch advertising refers to advertising on sites like TripAdvisor or Kayak. These metasearch sites are consolidators of OTAs like Booking.com & Expedia; the key difference is that the online travel agent contracts directly with a hotel to sell their inventory. A metasearch site, conversely, does not contract with a hotel. Metasearch sites account for more than 45% of global unique visitors in travel. This makes them extremely popular; bookings made through an ad on metasearch are less costly to hoteliers than a commission-based OTA booking. Because there are so many metasearch sites out there, you need a tool that makes it easy to manage bidding on a variety of complex platforms like TripAdvisor. Metasearch management software, like MetaGenius, is a good solution. MetaGenius can manage TripAdvisor, Google Hotel Ads, Trivago, and Kayak all in one intuitive dashboard. Metasearch management software gives your hotel a way to maximize reach, thereby attracting new guests and improving profitability. Hotel search engine marketing (SEM), or paid marketing, involves purchasing traffic to your website through paid search listings. Put money keywords that you’ve added to your website to increase exposure of your hotel site and add more guests to the booking funnel. Where SEO, or organic search, is something that will increase your traffic over time, SEM is a quick way to validate your keywords and content and make sure you’ve optimized your site for what your customers seek. Lastly, deploy display advertising and specifically remarketing – purchasing banner ads on Google or social media – to reach new audiences or re-target those who visited your website previously without completing the booking process. This powerful method of marketing can help bring customers back into your funnel – only now, your user is visiting a more fully-optimized site that is likely to convert to a sale.  Given how many websites a traveller browses during the booking process remarketing (or retargeting) is one of the most profitable forms of paid acquisition. There is a slight catch, however, you have to get them to your website first.   Improve your hotel’s online reputation to pre-empt sales challenges Regardless of how pretty your hotel website is, inevitably guests will fact check your claims on third party review websites like TripAdvisor.  In the hospitality industry, reputation is everything: 95% of guests read reviews prior to making a booking decision. Besides price, other guest reviews are the most important pieces of information a user accounts for when it comes to booking a room. Reputation management software paired with a well-designed, fully optimized website can drive direct bookings, improve guest satisfaction, and increase revenue. At a minimum, a reputation management tool should be able to: Aggregate reviews from multiple channels (OTAs, guest satisfaction surveys, and other review sites such as Yelp). Provide visibility at an enterprise level for multiple properties Analyze sentiment by scanning reviews for keywords to provide insight into the overall positive and negative aspects impacting ratings Benchmark against competitors to see how your property performs relative to the market. Managing your reputation is the next phase of optimization. A great digital marketing agency can help promote your brand but even the best digital marketing agencies can’t help a property who’s known for a low quality guest experience. Online reputation management tools like D-Edge Sentinel drive brand visibility through SEM and direct link campaigns. Sentinel aggregates reviews from OTAs, social media, and metasearch in many languages and across countries to show hoteliers what their guests are saying. The dashboard uses a proprietary algorithm that adapts to reviews over time, suggesting keywords to use in targeted campaigns and providing insights on areas where your hotel might improve.   Add more distribution to augment your direct channel Tiny hotels that cannot afford a hotel website often focus on third party channels alone.  This is a dangerous strategy; however, it is one employed all across the world. These hotels merely focus on optimizing inventory and third party listings to drive demand.  Most of these hotels will leverage a channel manager to expand its visibility and reach a broad online audience, manage rates, availability, and reservations in real-time, and connect to a variety of distribution channels.  The benefits of using a channel manager can significantly improve your bottom line. For hotels who already have a great website, adding channel management capabilities is a strong strategy.  With a baseline of direct bookings coming in from their brand.com channel, a channel manager can help augment those bookings to fill strategic needs. Tools like Smart Channel Manager manage rates and room availability on hundreds of channels saving hotels time and helping to facilitate more efficient inventory allocation. Channel management software increases your occupancy by listing your property across OTAs and GDS channels from one centralized location – thereby reaching travelers all over the world. Room listings and availability are automatically updated by the tool to improve occupancy rates and maximize profits. When exploring a channel manager tool, look for the software’s reporting capabilities, pooled inventory, the number of channels the platform can connect with, and system integrations.     If you’re looking for one vendor who can cover everything from reputation management to pricing and channel management, D-Edge is definitely worth a look. D-Edge provides end-to-end solutions that streamline your marketing technology stack. It’s a great tool for managing your entire marketing stack all from one streamlined platform.

Who are Hotel Tech's Most Inspiring Female Founders?

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Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Female entrepreneurship has seen a staggering amount of growth in the last 40 years. As of 2018, the US had 12.3 million women-owned businesses, compared to 402,000 businesses in 1972. Today, women-owned ventures make 4 out of every 10 businesses within the US, a shift that has altered the landscape of female leadership. Even traditionally male-dominated industries, such as tech, are being disrupted by female founders and leaders. Women in the travel technology space are solidifying their leadership and paving the way for their younger counterparts to find their way in this growing industry.  While not a founder, Booking Chairwoman Gillian Tans is arguably the most powerful woman in travel tech.  She shares wisdom with budding female entrepreneurs and leaders: “The advice I would give to anyone starting out is to take risks and not be afraid of new challenges or opportunities. My career path was not obvious, I had to make many twists and turns along the way to get where I am today. It required taking some chances. But those were the moments where I learned the most. Without challenging yourself, growth opportunities are limited. So take the risks. You will be better for it in the long run, regardless of the short-term outcome." Without further adieu five of the travel technology industry’s most inspirational female founders, and how they forged their way to the top.   Robin Deyo, Cendyn Robin Deyo is co-founder of the global travel tech company Cendyn. With over 30 years experience in hospitality, Robin began her career on the sales side for Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Red Rock Resorts. In 1996, she and her husband recognized a hole in the market and co-founded Cendyn, a SaaS marketing, sales and event solutions platform for the hospitality industry. Cendyn enables hotels and hospitality groups to leverage data and drive guest loyalty in a secure and compliant way, while cutting down response times and offering personalized service. Cendyn’s foundational product, eProposal, was one of the first solutions to allow hotels to accept group business RFPs via their websites, thereby growing their group business. eProposal still makes up a small but important part of Cendyn’s overall portfolio today. Cendyn is the leading hotel CRM platform with over 30,000 customers across 143 countries, offering products that incorporate sales software and hotel digital marketing services with enterprise spend levels in excess of $1 billion. In June 2019, private equity firm Accel-KKR purchased a majority stake in Cendyn. Robin and her husband have taken a backseat in the day-to-day operations of the company. Robin has recently started De Joux Holdings, a company focused on investing in hospitality-focused and philanthropic projects. It will certainly be one to watch to see what exciting new paths this industry veteren will take next.   Alexandra Zubko, Triptease  Alexandra Zubko founded Triptease in 2013. Since then, it’s become one of the industry's fastest growing tech upstarts. One of the biggest issues facing the hotel industry has been the rise of online travel agencies. OTAs cut off the direct connection between hotel and customer and obscure room data for hoteliers, creating rate parity issues and making profitable pricing more elusive. Triptease increases direct bookings by making the booking process easier. Triptease: Attract is a metasearch management software that aims to drive an additional 10% of direct revenue to hotels at a lower cost than OTA commissions. Triptease: Convert is a direct marketing tool that flags a hotel’s most valuable guests, offering ways throughout the entire customer journey to make sure they book directly with the hotel. Triptease’s cloud-based software and real-time pricing tool give hotels increased ownership on how rooms are priced. Triptease was the top-rated Direct Booking Platform in 2018. Alexandra was VP, Head of Global Strategy at IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group) prior to co-founding Triptease. She had her first taste of start-up life – in between working at consulting giants McKinsey and Goldman Sachs – as the founder of TripTips, an online social networking platform for sharing travel recommendations. For more on her background, check out our exclusive interview with Alexandra about her career journey and vision for Triptease.   Allison Page, SEVENROOMS Allison page comes to hotel (and F&B) tech with a finance background and a bachelor degree from University of Pennsylvania's prestigious Wharton Business School. Allison and her co-founder Joel Montaniel founded the business in 2011 and haven't looked back since raising more than $21M in funding to date. Hotel food & beverage operations often lack the resources and know how to run personalized marketing campaigns. SevenRooms’ segmentation and email automation enables F&B managers to easily add customizable tags to guest profiles then run rules based marketing campaigns to those segments.  Run unique marketing to critical segments like: first timers, high value regulars, positive reviewers and more. Companies like Revinate and Cendyn have demonstrated the immense value of personalized hospitality marketing campaigns.  Now F&B outlets can benefit from marketing automation too.   Janine Williams, Impulsify Janine founded Impulsify as a retail technology solution for hotels. Impulsify equips hoteliers with customized retail technology solutions to maximize impulse sales in hotel pantries and gift shops through a POS and inventory management solution.  Hotel front desk teams see a reduction in front desk retail traffic by up to 90%, enabling guests to get what they want when they want it.  Based in Denver, with 29 employees, Impusify was named top rated Lobby Technology in the HotelTechAwards. Janine takes any opportunity to fuse travel and giving back. Recently, she launched a campaign to donate a whole house to a family in need for every 50 hotels that added ImpulsePoint POS to their pantry or gift shop. Janine regularly travels to Honduras to build schools, clinics, and houses for those in need. It’s hard not to be inspired by the incredible female leaders that are finding success and bringing innovation to the travel tech industry. We are seeing unprecedented support for women’s empowerment within the workforce, turning what was once a barren wasteland for female leadership opportunities into a fertile ground for growth.   Tammy Farley, The Rainmaker Group Tammy co-founded The Rainmaker Group in 1998 where she spearheaded all sales, marketing, and customer-related operations for the company. Rainmaker is a market leader in profit optimization solution for hotels, resorts and casinos. Rainmaker has three key products: revintel, guestrev, and grouprev. The proprietary guestrev revenue management tool optimizes room rates to reflect guest’s spend across an entire property enabling properties to plan revenue goals and set rates based on demand. Grouprev helps hotel owners convert group and meeting business and maximize revenue. The tool optimizes group room rates, function space revenue, and manages a property’s sales and catering calendar. Revintel is a tool that aggregates and analyzes data to produce actionable insights to drive revenue and help site managers measure performance against corporate goals.  The Rainmaker Group was recently acquired by industry tech giant Cendyn (yes, that's the same Cendyn founded by Robyn Deyo above!) to help round out their digital offerings. Tammy will become a board member and continue her heavy involvement in local philanthropy.   Amanda Szabo, ResortPass Amanda Szabo is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Los Angeles based ResortPass.  The firm has raised $12.7M in funding to data according to data from pitchbook and has its sites set on global expansion.  In hyper competitive markets finding new hotel guests is expensive and difficult. Travellers are notoriously hard to market to which led Amanda to realize that hotels were missing the lowest hanging fruit around - locals. With that insight Amanda created ResortPass to sell day passes where locals (or guests at other hotels) can use luxury hotel amenities when they're not a guest.  ResortPass works with hotels like the W Hollywood and Viceroy Santa Monica and leverages a congestion-pricing model similar to Uber to ensure that those amenities don't end up getting over crowded for guests while ensuring that hotels achieve maximum profit.  This is one of those ideas that everyone says "how did this not exist before" but Amanda took the reigns and is executing like crazy to bring her vision to life.   Jennifer Wong, LaaSie.ai (formerly Stay Wanderful) Jennifer comes to hotel tech with a finance and real estate background, a bachelor's degree from MIT and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Jennifer founded LaaSie.ai in 2016 under the name Stay Wanderful).  The start-up uses Instant Gratification to power the transaction moment (i.e. booking on a hotel website) in a more relevant way for today's consumers. LaaSie.ai leverages a unique approach to loyalty by providing personalized incentives and perks, such as free Uber, Amazon credits or VIP access.  The platform can increase direct booking conversion and retention by leveraging an ever growing network of premium national & local merchant rewards alongside its AI technology. LaaSie.ai (under its former name Stay Wanderful) won Top Direct Booking Platform in the 2019 HotelTechAwards. The Company also won the Most Innovative - Judge's Choice Award at HITEC 2017 and of the Best Business Model Award at Launch Festival 2016.

These Are the 5 Hottest Cities in Hotel Tech

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Success for any startup is a blend of luck and skill, peppered with grit and resilience. It takes a methodical approach to pull together a team with exceptional skills to execute on an idea that solves a real problem for a well-understood customer. Even in a world of remote work, it also helps to be surrounded by knowledgeable advisors with industry expertise and a supportive community that can be tapped face-to-face. This is especially true in hotel technology, a tight-knit community that thrives on relationships. Of course, success is not solely dependent on location. However, clustering near other related businesses can rapidly increase your chances of success. A strong local network fosters better industry relationships that can shorten lead times on the sales side and accelerate development cycles on the product side.  That’s because the right locality puts you closer to your customers, which helps with getting actionable feedback quickly, and closer to potential investors, which accelerates momentum in rapid growth phases.  Proximity can also bring you the types of talent that underpin some of the 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech. Cities with clusters of industry- and trend-specific companies give you better chances of finding the right talent for your business -- especially since former employees often go on to start their own startups that solve problems in the same industry, such as with Arise Travel. We’ve done a little legwork to help you discover some of the most vibrant and active places in the world to headquarter your hotel tech startup. With an active community familiar with hotel technology, depth of local talent pool, and a global mindset, these are our top five cities for travel technology.   London: Focus on Business Intelligence and Hardware London is an ideal place to take advantage of Europe’s diversity, as well as its relative closeness to the financial centers of New York. And, in spite of the looming Brexit, London remains itself a financial powerhouse. That means a dense concentration of global capital, coupled with a workforce details from countries all over Europe and beyond. With London's six airports, alongside train connections to most of Europe, London's location is ideal for startups looking to situate Themselves at the gates of Europe -- while still remaining as close as possible to the Americas. London also has the Traveltech Lab, a hub for travel technology startups that focuses on fostering a community of “innovation, collaboration, and creativity” that connects “technology startups with big corporates within the travel industry.” The dedicated space and organic community can be a boon to startups as they look to establish themselves, build a product, and grow their business. Hotel tech companies based in London: SiteMinder’s guest acquisition platform combines powerful optimization and analytics tools to capture more direct bookings for hotels. The company has greatly expanded its Exchange, which features dozens of integrations that make its guest acquisition tools even more useful for its 35,000 hotel and property manager clients.  While the firm will always call Sydney its home base - they've got a big presence from the London office. Mews is the backbone of hotel operations. Founded by a former rising star at Hilton, its property management system is the top-rated solution on HTR, and its kiosk, mobile check-in, and hotel app solutions are all highly rated by customers. OTA Insight is a “new breed of hotel tech company” that empowers hoteliers to fight against rate disparity, benchmark their own rates against competition, and leverage market intelligence to optimize revenue. The company’s newest feature gives hoteliers the ability to rate shop across different points-of-sale in order to monitor for regional differences in rate parity. Crave’s interactive tablets enhance the guest experience by putting property information, ancillaries, and in-room technology and messaging at guests’ fingertips. Thanks to industry-wide integrations, the tablets fold seamlessly into existing operations. Clock Software’s property management system combines crucial features, such as reservations, housekeeping, and channel management, as well as a robust API, into an all-in-one tool lauded by hoteliers. Case in point: Hoteliers votes Clock Software as a top PMS in the 2019 HotelTechAwards. Triptease is designed to return control of distribution to hotels. From acquisition to conversion, its direct booking platform merges metasearch advertising, parity monitoring, website widgets, and revenue management into a cohesive. Just last year, the Company earned an accolade as a top place to work in hotel tech. Pace reinvents revenue management with its “booking curve” approach to forecasting demand. The “intelligent revenue management” system alerts hoteliers to any unusual patterns to booking curves for each night, room-category and segment.  Fornova is a great example of London companies focusing on business intelligence: the company helps hotels monitor and benchmark distribution, as well as analyze market and property-level intelligence with HotelsBI and optimize pricing via its eCommerce Optimizer.  Iris Tablets offers hardware for guest rooms via its tablet technology. Its software also sets it apart: the cloud-hosted Guest Experience Platform (GXP) increases revenue, reduces costs and successfully improves the end-to-end Guest Experience for over 3000 hotels and restaurants worldwide. eRevMax is known for its pioneering channel manager and rate shopper RateTiger. Its latest product LiveOS turns “chaos to clarity” by smashing silos and pulling data from disparate systems into one dashboard to support real-time decisions.  Impala tackles a critical problem for hotels (and vendors serving hotels): how to integrate systems that don’t integrate themselves. Software providers can run a simple JSON script to integrate their products with those of other vendors in hospitality thus unlocking a new market.   San Francisco: Focus on Big Tech Silicon Valley has long been home to Big Tech. And even though the area has long since become less affordable than other cities the region’s reputation continues to attract ambitious entrepreneurs and world-class workers. The competitiveness is a double-edged sword: It can be costly to hire the best talent here, and investors quite literally have the cream of the crop. It can be a struggle for startups to both find the best people and raise the necessary capital to thrive. For these reasons, Silicon Valley has become home to larger hotel tech companies that serve the hospitality industry worldwide. These companies can compete effectively for talent, and take full advantage of the regions saturation of startups. San Francisco is also an interesting place for workers who eventually want to do their own startup: rich networks of talent and capital are useful at the seed stage as well. Hotel tech companies based in SF: Revinate’s CRM and email marketing software helps hotels develop long-lasting relationships with guests through targeted marketing, personalized campaigns, and deeper guest insights. Highlighting the value of being near other companies in the vertical Revinate recently announced a partnership with SF-based Duetto to allow hotels to use Duetto to price upsells dynamically in Revinate. Duetto is a full-stack revenue management technology. The company‘s Revenue Strategy Platform optimizes revenue and profitability across channels. This singular focus on total profitability underpins Duetto’s philosophy of Total Revenue Management. Sojern helps hotels marketers segment audiences and identify the best channels to advertise on. The company, which recently celebrated its 12 year anniversary, moved into new offices last year to accommodate its continued growth. Frontdesk Anywhere is a complete hotel management software suite that facilitates the guest journey from the initial online booking process through arrival, onsite operations and checkout.  Autoclerk serves hotels with property management and central reservation systems as well as a booking engine. It’s an end-to-end solution for booking guests, managing reservations, and operations. In a surprise move, BestWestern is the new owner of Autoclerk and promises to continue investing in the platform. MS Shift solves several operational issues for hotels: concierge management,  luggage tracking, front desk management, asset tracking, and maintenance/engineering management, among others.  Salesforce is the granddaddy of enterprise technology. It's fully-customizable CRM and sales software is widely used in the hospitality industry.  HelloShift is an easy-to-use messaging platform that enhances communications among staff as well as between staff and guests. With its combined approach Helloshift can become a hotel’s communications backbone. The company was recognized as the top staff collaboration platform in the 2018 HotelTechAwards. Medallia is a Customer Experience Management company that solves the problem of uneven feedback: it’s not easy to gather customer feedback across online and offline and transform them into something relevant and useful. Suiteness has an unexpected take on hotel bookings: it offers only suites. The value proposition extends to groups as it also empowers travelers to book connecting suites so that groups can stay together. Suiteness integrates with DHSCO and SynXis to expand access to the unique inventory.   Amsterdam: Focus on the Booking.com Alumni and Partner Networks Amsterdam is another great European city from which to base your hotel tech startup.  Data from Startup Europe found that Amsterdam’s share of Europe’s venture financing was EUR 1.67 billion. Amsterdam also has an added advantage: It's the home of globally-recognized behemoth Booking Holdings. The company, best known for Booking.com, employs thousands and will soon move into a high-profile new headquarters building. The steady growth of the company means that there is a sizable local population with the knowledge of travel and hospitality. The population is also highly fluent in English, which makes Amsterdam a city with solid international bon afides. Hotel tech companies based in Amsterdam: HotelChamp is a website experience and marketing optimization tool for hotels. When deployed on a hotel’s website, the toolset boosts direct bookings by adding a layer of personalization and segmentation. The latest tool, called Autopilot, leverages millions of data points to optimize a website in real-time.  Oaky unlocks pre-stay up selling so that hotels can offer room upgrades and other products prior to arrival. The solution improves profitability-per-booking before a guest even arrives on property. Oaky was awarded the top upselling and merchandising solution at the 2019 HotelTechAwards. 4Suites solves the keyless entry problem for hotels. It's smart access technology simplifies hotel operations, reduces costs and upgrades the guest experience. iReckonU sits at the core of your hotel’s tech stack to pull in data from other tools to reveal new insights and to enrich guest profiles. This “guest experience framework” improves the efficacy of marketing while also putting operations closer to guests. Hoteliers.com combines all distribution channels into a single view which reduces complexity and increases control for independent hoteliers looking for an affordable-yet-powerful channel manager. Olery solves reputation management for hotels. The system captures reviews from over 100 channels, and pulls them into a single interface for hotels to handle quickly and efficiently. It also has an analytics and marketing component to give hoteliers tools to improve and promote its reputation. Olery’s latest report dives into reputation in the Middle East.   New York City: Focus on Marketing NYC is a fantastic place to run a hospitality technology startup. The city has one of the highest concentrations of hotels in the world, which puts your startup close to many potential customers. The city is also one of the global hubs for media, which may have something to do with the over-indexing on start-ups with a hospitality marketing focus. New York is also home to Voyager HQ, a hub for a global community of travel and hospitality tech startups. The co-working space is home to many startups in the industry and often hosts meetups and networking events that provide a solid base for its startup community.  As European companies hit scale they tend to make New York their first foray into the U.S. market as evidenced by Triptease and Mews Systems both sending their founders overseas. The flight between NYC and London is pretty manageable and so is the time zone - what better launchpad for world domination? Hotel tech companies based in NYC: Travel Tripper provides distribution and marketing support to everyone from small independents to major brands.  Hotels looking for an all-in-one marketing partner should look no further since the firm has it all: Booking Engine, CRS, Digital Marketing Services and Hotel website development.  With freshly infused Accel-KKR capital Travel Tripper merged with Pegasus and now provides additional business intelligence and GDS services. InnRoad is a popular property management system for small properties and boutiques. HeBS recently rebranded as Next Guest with the integration of Serenata Intraware’s CRM technology.  While Serenata remains run out of its Germany headquarters NY provides the mothership and HeBS’ bread and butter is still digital marketing. TravelClick was recently acquired by publicly traded travel tech behemoth Amadeus and while Amadeus is run out of Spain, we imagine that it’s New Hampshire based hospitality division is going to get a little FOMO when they see their sister company’s New York City digs. Volara provides voice recognition software to hotels solving for the challenges of systems integrations and cyber security - giving hotels the ability to install turnkey Amazon and Android devices in their rooms. ALICE was one of the first company’s in the market to “make hotel tech fun again” lead by marketing guru Alexander Shashou and technical savant Dmitry Koltunov - the firm is an unstoppable force in the hotel operations space. LaaSie.ai (formerly Stay Wanderful) is a lesser known direct booking platform providing a network of merchant partnerships that can be leveraged to increase hotel website conversion and ultimately drive more direct bookings.  LaaSie recently rebranded and similar to Travel Tripper above was originally funded by NYC based Highgate Ventures. SEVENROOMS is a restaurant software company that provides CRM and guest management services to dozens of hotel restaurants around the world. Bizly is a meeting booking platform that helps corporate meeting planners find the best venues for small breakout meetings (i.e. hotels). Los Angeles/San Diego: Focus on Messaging Long known as the entertainment capital of the world, LA has emerged as a tech hub in its own right. Part of this is due to its status as a (slightly) more affordable option for SF startups. Another part is due to the convergence of technology and entertainment; as more startups emerged to build technologies underpinning next-gen entertainment, it naturally created a local base of tech talent. Another reason for the rising popularity of southern California as a technology hub? Clearly it's the weather! But the preponderance of sunny days, many weather-weary San Franciscans and New Yorkers have made the move. By the influx, the city intense relative affordability compared to cities of the same size and scope. Coupled with the great quality of life, southern California has become quite the contender on the global tech stage. Socal is an hour flight to both a hotel hub and tech hub, Las Vegas and Silicon Valley respectively. Hotel tech companies based in Los Angeles/San Diego: INTELITY’s guest engagement platform bridges across departments to connect staff with guests across text, voice, and digital channels. The company also offers an hotel operations platform for staff management, That includes recorder and task management, as well as analytics. INTELITY recently merged with KEYPR to expand its reach and reliability worldwide. Cloudbeds provides a booking engine, channel manager, property management system, and revenue optimization tools for independent hotels, boutiques, B&Bs, and hostels. The comprehensive hotel management solution was named a finalist for the People’s Choice Award at the 2019 HotelTechAwards. Whistle’s guest messaging technology simplifies communications so that staff can respond to messages in real-time from a single dashboard, regardless of whether the message is an email, website chat, or text message. For the second year in a row, Whistle earned the top spot as the #1 messaging platform on HotelTechReport. ResortPass has raised more than $12M to help hoteliers grow revenue by selling premium access to luxury amenities like the pool and spa during off-peak hours.  The Company is based in Santa Monica and works with top tier hotels like the Viceroy Santa Monica and W Hollywood. TrustYou While they are headquartered in Munich, Germany, TrustYou set up shop in San Diego, CA back in 2014 in order to better serve the growing US hotel industry. Their 10 local employees support functions across all facets of the company including Business Development, Account Management, Client Success, Finance, and Marketing. Zingle is a messaging platform that connects guest and staff across channels and devices so that communications is always streamlined and never siloed. The company recently announced AI-driven Intelligent routing that analyzes a guest’s intent to intelligently (and automatically) route guest requests to the right department or person. GuestBook Rewards is a loyalty program for independent hotels. Guests have a choice of cashback, credits for a future trip, or a charitable donation -- an incentive model that sets GuestBook apart from its competitors.  The program has become the largest network of independents, with over 600 member hotels in 55 countries. GuestCentric gives hotels control over their revenues by solving the guest acquisition problem: with a CRS, a digital agency  The company was a HotelTechAward finalist in 2018. JDA Software’s revenue management solution solves the revenue management problem for hotels. Thanks to an advanced forecasting engine that includes consumer intent and price sensitivity, the software increases revenue and boosts margins. Clicktripz is a monetization platform for publishers. Using proprietary ad-serving technology, Clicktripz’s targeting and granular bidding means that publishers can efficiently monetize audiences by connecting them to suppliers and advertisers. Kallpod is a service tracking solution that encourages guests to call for service right from their table. Kallpod Pro extends this functionality with customizable buttons, a two-way interface for staff to talk to each other, and a data platform to assist with more intelligent staffing.

5 Reasons Why You Need the Triptease Direct Bookings Platform

by
Hotel Tech Report
3 weeks ago

Distribution is a costly expense for hotels. Each time a booking is made through a third-party, commissions must be paid throughout the chain of distribution. While it’s convenient to capture demand from these channels, it’s not always clear that the commissions paid are worth the bookings received. The question of value is especially pertinent given that most hotels pay more for commission then they have in the past, per Kalibri Labs data: Kalibri Labs data from 19,000 hotels worldwide shows how much more hotels spend on distribution since 2015.   The stark reality of rising distribution costs has led many hotels to broaden their metrics from the simple RevPAR to NetRevPAR, which adjusts for distribution costs within top line results. To deliver stronger profits (and not just greater booking volume), hotels must deploy a comprehensive direct booking strategy that pulls more bookings away from those third parties.  One hospitality technology company in particular has stepped up to the challenge with a comprehensive set of direct booking tools: Triptease. “Paying large commissions for valuable guests is over. Identify and reach your highest-value guests first with a platform that works across the booking journey - from acquisition to conversion - to make sure they book directly with your hotel.” ~Triptease Triptease initially began as a price check widget on hotel websites and has since evolved into an end-to-end guest intelligence platform.  Today Triptease helps not only improve hotel website and booking engine conversion rates but also helps hotels bring more prospective guests into the top of the funnel with tools that improve the ways they market on 3rd party channels like OTAs and metasearch platforms (e.g. TripAdvisor). The company’s website optimization tools then convert those guests more often with personalized offers, notifications and even website live chat. When used in combination with a hotel’s existing marketing efforts, these tools are a powerful driver of direct revenue. Here are 5 reasons why hotels need Triptease’s direct booking tools to boost business in the direct channel.     #1: Attract the most valuable guests to your hotel website With intelligent audience acquisition, hotels get more of the right customers. Triptease’s platform ensures that your hotel reaches the most valuable guests first. With its metasearch ad tool, Triptease’s system identifies and prioritizes high-value guests for conversion. The tool promises to “bring the right guests straight from search” so that your advertising spend can be targeted to the guests most likely to convert. The secret sauce here is that Triptease aggregates and analyzes your hotel’s data to calculate a precise bid amount. The tool adjust bids according to the potential value of a stay, as well as that individual guest’s likelihood to book. To get to this ideal bid, Triptease uses two different systems: the Guest Value Index, which judges how the guest’s purchase intent compares to your hotel’s ideal customer profile, and the Trip Value Index, which is calculated from the booking’s qualities, such as parity and overall booking value. Hotels stand to gain a lot from these calculations: Triptease Meta aims to drive metasearch traffic that pays for itself with an additional 10% of direct revenue for hotels. More guests at a lower cost drives profitability for hotels, which is the core value proposition of Triptease’s guest intelligence platform.    #2: Convert more lookers to bookers The goal of attracting more guests, and converting them more often, is driven by Triptease’s focus on transparency and trust. Thanks to blanket discounts and “Only X rooms left!” messaging, there’s a lot of mistrust and skepticism around hotel search. Triptease works to build trust by letting guests know that they’ll get the fairest price on the direct channel.  The Triptease Price Check Widget shows guests how much that same search would cost on three OTAs. The popular tool provides price transparency and boosts trust with guests. Rather than pretending like guests weren’t shopping around, the Price Check Widget calls attention to it by giving guests the confidence to book direct. Triptease has expanded on the widget with a full suite of conversion tools. Now, the platform includes non-price offers, such as offering a value-add bonus for booking direct, as well as highlighting recent searches and essential information about a hotel’s location. In total, there are thousands of messages across multiple content types that hotels can use to convert lookers to bookers. Messages can also be personalized dynamically to different types of guests, so that hotels can best target message to demographic. This intelligent targeting improves conversion.   #3: Compare rates and track parity The Disparity Dungeon sounds like a terrible place to be. And that’s by design. This Triptease feature ensures that your hotel is priced competitively compared to your comp set -- and that your rates are in parity across your distribution channels. By monitoring parity often, hoteliers can make sure that guests always get the best rates when booking direct. Triptease has also recently expanded to include wholesalers here so the tool aids hotels with often-contentious wholesaler relationships. While there are certainly standalone tools for tracking rate parity, such as OTA Insight, there’s an advantage to packaging it into a direct booking platform: namely, ease of use. It’s right there within the same tool, so there’s no need to click away to another login screen. This ease of use also extends to format: Triptease provides regular weekly emails that identify surge events and other trends. By understanding when and where parity is changing, hoteliers can identify issues without necessarily having to watch parity daily. For those that want to monitor disparity in real-time, there’s a live feed of every search on your website that’s being undercut by an OTA. Hotels can also opt into instant alerts for parity violations. Armed with this information, hoteliers can identify the patterns and root causes of rate disparity. They can then use the documentation provided by Triptease to bring parity issues to their account reps at major OTAs that assist in the negotiation process and ultimately can help lower commissions or drive more bookings over the long term. #4: Assist your customers with live chat In its bid to be the “everything” store for direct bookings, Triptease has recently added live chat to its platform. Chat keeps the guest’s attention and gives hotels a clear path to capture bookings. Hotels can reach out directly, answer questions, and generally be accessible. The chat interface is optimized for mobile, making it easy for your reservations team to connect directly with guest’s in the channel they prefer (which is increasingly mobile).    There’s also an automated component to the chat tool. The Triptease automated AI chatbot also answers the most frequently asked questions to instantly assist guests. The automated live chat can also check availability and take payment details right in the chat interface. By removing pain points, the path to purchase is smoother and more likely to convert.   #5: Know what works with OTA-level data OTAs promise not just bookings. They also promise a level of data that’s hard to beat, especially for hotels that don’t necessarily have a sophisticated data capability in-house. Triptease turns this on its head by providing OTA-level data on who books direct, where they come from, and who they are.  The Insights Dashboard gives hotels all the necessary numbers to build a direct distribution channel that works for their own unique situation. The analytics provides complete visibility into hotel performance, as well as broader industry benchmarks for comparison. That type of granular, interaction-level data is comparable to what OTAs leverage to make more money for their own channels. Hotels can compete using their own data, and maintain a healthy (and growing) direct distribution channel.      Pricing and getting started with Triptease Triptease prices packages depending on which products a hotel wants, as well as the scale of the hotel’s needs (for example, multi-property applications). As far as implementation and setup, there’s not a lot required of hotels to get started. Hotels will need to add some code to their websites to support specific products. The most complex part is connecting the Triptease platform to existing data sources to power the hotel-level insights. Triptease offers extensive coaching, so it’s not just providing software but also the knowledge layer and long term partnership for amplifying direct bookings. Triptease has a global team of Direct Booking Coaches available to assist hotels of all sizes. From digital marketing to website optimization, data analysis, and product training, these coaches apply their regional expertise ensure ongoing success for partner hotels.   To get started with the Guest Intelligence Platform, schedule a demo with the team right from the Triptease Hotel Tech Report profile.