University Hoteliers Conference, 2009

The third edition of University Hoteliers Conference took place on 28th April 2009 at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain. The conference was focused on the application of technologies in the hotel sector and was broadcast online by CanalTur.

Discussions at the event revolved around innovation in marketing and distribution with presentations and roundtable sessions on the role of online distribution, its threats and opportunities as well as benefits of online marketing and revenue management.

Pilar Sanchez Aita , RateTiger Sales Manager, Spain shared a presentation focusing on the evolution of Online Distribution and how the hoteliers should tackle challenges to meet consumer expectations. She also discussed the importance of maximizing visibility and revenue through channel management.

From what Pilar tells us, here is a brief overview of the event and various presentations.

“It was an excellent turnout with representatives from Google, TripAdvisor, Room Mate Hotels, Sol Meliá, Starwood Hotels, Vincci Hoteles and ITH, among others, speaking on various related topics. Google shared helpful insights on the current scenario and its effect on the hospitality sector. They also presented some solutions to hoteliers like increasing distribution agreements with more channels to attempt getting more occupancy.

“TripAdvisor introduced attendees to the world of social networking relating to the sector. They remarked on the importance of consumers’ opinion about hotel chains, restaurants and attractions, not only through friends but also through the feedback and perceptions of other consumers who have experienced the services.”

Room Mate Hotels shared their simple revenue strategy and rate structure. Their representative emphasised the importance of constantly reviewing and updating online distribution channels. They also talked about the benefits of cross selling and brand management. Vincci Hoteles presented their online strategy – the promotions and packages they manage through their booking engine and also mentioned how they have improved their online revenue by using RateTiger applications.

Sol Meliá presented a debate on ‘price cannibalisation’ versus ‘strategic planning, human resources training, clear processes and tools for distribution’. “This was an interesting session as it talked about the price war that has started in the industry which is a loss-loss situation for all involved hoteliers.” Sol Melia stressed the need to develop sensible revenue management strategies to forecast rates, proper market segmentation based on product – price mix and effective use of KPIs (key performance indicators).

Starwood Hotels pointed out the relevance of hotel sales, marketing and revenue management departments to work cohesively. They are aiming to develop a tool for proper rate forecast for their properties and they aspire to prepare a revenue management process to manage group, F&B as well as room rates.

The conference was jointly sponsored by RateTiger, ITH and Hosteltur.

BuyTourismOnline Light, 2009

BuyTourismOnline recently organized a toned down edition of its main event calling it BTO Light on 6th and 7th April 2009 in Florence, Italy. The conference was focused on “How to maximize sales on the internet market?

Hoteliers, Sales & Revenue Managers & technology companies attended the two day conference in good numbers and obviously their main concern was to understand how to improve their sale through new market strategies. Sascha Hausmann, RateTiger COO, shared a presentation on “The online distribution in the new millennium” for attendees to understand the growing importance of revenue and channel management. With increasing focus on online distribution of inventory, hotels need to make the most of this marketing channel to gain occupancy and maximize revenue. He also focused upon the convenience of having a unique interface for managing various online channels and systems. Hoteliers were also interested in learning more about ‘Web 2.0’. Among the speakers were RateTiger, TripAdvisor, Expedia and Google among others, and all the companies laid stress on technology and the hotelier’s new needs.

“It turned out to be an interesting conference,” says Giuseppe Messina, RateTiger Sales Manager for the region. “This kind of conference is needed in Italy. Hotels are happy about the conference, and personally speaking, I think it is a good idea to refresh hoteliers after the main exhibition (which took place in November ’08), just to increase the interest about technology. I’m sure the next BTO in November’09 will be an even bigger success.”

Enzo Aita (RateTiger SM, Italy) who attended the show with him discussed with us his activities: “Apart from the online sales tools, other important features include Hotel reviews and the importance for hoteliers to be ready to react to positive and negative reviews. I got a feeling that all this innovation and new services has left the hoteliers confused, as they often do not have much knowledge on the subject. Now when they are faced with various choices that are not within their competence, they often buy technology products based on price benefit and not by the quality of service.”

All in all, it was a conference worth attending. Most of the attendees were from North Italy and hence it provided RateTiger with an opportunity to interact with a very specific market segment. Enzo and Giuseppe surely had a good time discussing RateTiger’s new products RTStrategy and RTChannelManager Plus with hoteliers who wanted to see a demonstration of the product, and our Sales Managers obliged by showing them one!

Turismo Comunidad Valenciana 2009

The city of Valencia in Spain recently organized its fifth International Tourism Exhibition – Turismo Comunidad Valenciana from 3rd – 5th April’09.

The exhibition acts as a meeting place for tour operators, carrier companies, hotels, service providers, etc from across Spain as well as internationally. The event showcases major businesses and institutions directly involved in the tourism industry.

RateTiger’s representative Cristina Hernández (Sales Manager, Spain) checked out the event. She compares it with last year’s show and mentions the fall in the number of exhibitors as well as attendees this year.

When asked about the constitution of attendees, Cristina says, “There were representatives from institutions, travel agents, smaller Spanish regions and few hotels from the rural areas. The exhibition focuses more on the end consumer i.e. the general public, providing them an opportunity to check out services and products of various public and private companies, institutions and agents.”

She further mentions – “It is a very young trade fair and given the current economic situation, hotels /chains were not exhibiting. Many companies preferred to give it a miss. It is not a place for B2B meetings which was how it was promoted.”