Executive Vendor Summit 2010

Our jet setting CEO Sascha Hausmann was in Houston, Texas earlier last month to attend Hospitality Upgrade’s invitation-only Executive Vendor Summit. From what he tells us, it turned out to be a good show and he enjoyed being there those three days.
With lots of executives from across the industry present, the networking session was bound to be productive and meaningful. Even the line up of speakers was impressive and he particularly enjoyed the sessions by Jim Underwood (professor & author) and Colonel Philip A. Bossert, Jr who is Commander, Air Force ROTC Detachment 003, and Professor of Air Force.
Jim’s address focused on how companies can use strategic alignment to overcome adversity. Interestingly he is a leading expert in the field of chaotics and strategy and has authored books like Thriving In E-Chaos which won the International Competia Award 2001, and More Than A Pink Cadillac, a New York Times, Wall Street Journal best-selling book.
Colonel Philip was the dinner speaker and he spoke about leadership and alternative management. With real life examples, he managed to have a captive audience and the attendees were really impressed by his repertoire of case histories.
An event worth attending as the organizers put in lot of effort to get the right speakers, attendees and create the right ambience for a summit of this stature. Congratulations of Hospitality Upgrade for putting up a successful show!

Arabian Travel Market 2010

A couple of weeks back I was in Dubai to attend the Arabian Travel Market with my colleague. It was our first visit to a mid-east event and hence I would like to share a bit of background detail on the event. Organized by Reed Exhibitions, organizers of World Travel Market in London, ATM is the principal travel and tourism exhibition in the Middle East, attracting exhibitors from all over the region as well as from Asia, Europe, South America, etc. This was the 17th edition of ATM and it continues to grow in importance and size. 
Many hotel brands exhibited at the event including major international chains like Accor, Starwood, Marriott, IHG, etc. as well as the larger regional players like Rotana, Coral and Ramee. The independent hotels and smaller chains were also present and were operating from booths on destination stands like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. A separate section was dedicated to Travel &Technology companies which had representations from OTAs including HRS, Expedia, etc. and a couple of providers such as Amadeus.
My colleague Sudhir and I concentrated on exhibitors from our respective regions – generally only meeting up in the evenings to discuss the day’s happening and then moving on to sample the extremely varied nightlife Dubai has to offer. We managed quite a few meetings with prospective hoteliers and presented RTSuite solutions to them. Channel management solutions are not widespread in the region and are mostly used by 5 star hotels. 
However with the growth of ecommerce and shift in booking patterns from offline to online channels, many hotels, including single star and standalone properties, are now looking to work more actively with online channels. The feedback I received was very encouraging and hoteliers were very receptive to my presentation of RateTiger solutions. 
Overall I am very pleased with the interest shown by exhibitors – it seems the timing is right for us to focus on the region, as previously hotels were not selling through enough channels to warrant the investment. ATM was definitely worth a visit and I will surely be back next year.
Giles Gurney is Sales Manager – Europe & Middle East for corporate products at eRevMax and is responsible for sales of RateTiger products in the region. He can be reached at gilesg@ratetiger.com

BITAC Tech & Operations 2010

I was in Fajardo from 2 – 4 May for BITAC Tech & Operations which turned out to be an absolute pleasure to attend. Getting to meet the right people directly (read – decision makers) and then spending time with them in a very relaxed environment, discussing economy in general, sharing ways to improve bookings via technology, doing sales pitch differently is any Sales Manager’s dream.

By now you would know how successful BITAC was for me where I got to meet the executives from Starwood, IHG, Hilton and various hotel management groups. With 200 people around from different hotel chains and companies, BITAC provided an unparalleled business platform to foster long-term relationships.

For those unaware of BITAC’s format, let me tell you that it does not resemble a trade show, conference or summit in any way. It is basically a platform to bring together the top echelon of both purchasing decision makers and suppliers through pre-set appointments which helps maximize everyone’s productivity and overall experience.

BITAC is a must attend event for RateTiger and I will ensure I am around here every year.

Gerard Carrie is Sales Manager – US at eRevMax and is responsible for sales of RateTiger products in the region. He is based out of Orlando and can be reached at gerardc@ratetiger.com

University Hoteliers Conference 2010

The fourth edition of University Hoteliers Conference took place on 27th April 2010 at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain. The conference was focused on the application of technologies in the hotel sector and was broadcasted online by Hosteltur.com.

The main discussions focused on the challenges in tourism distribution with presentations and roundtable sessions on the role of direct distribution channels, its threats and opportunities, rate parity, offline and online marketing and revenue management.

I attended the event as a speaker on behalf of RateTiger and presented a session on the importance of unifying the message hoteliers want to deliver – focus on “the 3 C’s – Consistent rich Content across all Channels” and the need for maintaining Rate Parity. The idea was to encourage smart hoteliers to keep a laser sharp focus on the channels that are driving maximum return on investment.

Other discussions were focused around topics like the importance of active participation in social media to build brand reputation, focus on the growing need for mobile channel management and how hoteliers need to leverage rates across the internet and embrace new tools and technologies to stay ahead of the game.

An impressive lineup of speakers were gathered for this year’s event including executives from InterContinental Madrid Hotel (IHG Group), Laterooms.com, OciHotel, Marketing Surfers/Buzzturistic, Trivago, Hotel Auditorium, ITH, Hosteltur, CIAC Digital, Empresa Municipal Promoción de Madrid and UVE Digital.

Balázs Szentmáry, Revenue Manager InterContinental Madrid Hotel (IHG Group) remarked: “We must establish clear clauses in contracts signed with distributors and conditions of each rate. Reinforce this concept in the Hotel management through the right training and focus on the customer who still looks for value and not the rate conditions.’

Joan Roca, General Manager Laterooms.com Spain quipped on the importance of why hoteliers should keep online rate parity and mark-up parity. He concluded by saying, “Hotels have different rates every day but that cannot be an excuse for not maintaining rate parity across channels”.

During a round table, Jaime Lopez Chicheri, consultant and co-founder of Marketing Surfers and Buzzturistic referred to the increased need for synchronization between the revenue manager and marketing manager of a hotel to ensure that the hotel’s branding and pricing depicts the same image. If they communicate about impartial rates but keep different pricing on each channel, the entire strategy will be counterproductive, because the customer will feel deceived and will find it easier to express it.

The attendees found the conference which was jointly sponsored by RateTiger, ITH and Hosteltur, to be very educative and productive. I look forward to be back at this event next year. Catch my presentation on the Hosteltur video which discusses how companies should rethink their strategies and adapt ever more quickly to the circumstances in an ever changing environment.

Pilar Sanchez Aita is Sales Manager – Spain & Portugal at eRevMax and is responsible for sales of RateTiger products in the region. She is based out of Spain and can be reached at pilara@ratetiger.com