Paris seminar – Hotel Conseil forum for French hoteliers

On Monday 9 February I attended the first Hotel Conseil forum for French hoteliers in Paris. The theme of the event was online distribution and I was asked to talk about channel management. Each speaker was allotted 20 minutes for a presentation and Q&A. I was advised by the organiser to avoid a commercial presentation on our products, but to speak more generally about the subject matter. This was good advice.

The first four speakers spoke about their products and it was obvious that either the audience did not understand or were totally bored by the presentations – not one received any applause. Fortunately I spoke after the next coffee break and kept my 12-slide presentation brief and to the point. I introduced how the internet has changed booking trends in hotels, the creation of the new role Revenue Manager and how Channel Management would be integrated in Revenue Management (RM) strategies.

I did not talk about Rate Tiger in the actual presentation, except to finish on how the RM could work with and without RT. This proved to be aimed at the right level and received a very good response with plenty of questions. We also hosted a table with brochures outside the main room, manned by Patrice Florentiny, our agent in Paris, where we received a lot of enquiries during every break.

It was worth attending and I have already been asked to speak again next year.

BTL 2009 (Bolsa de Turismo Lisboa/Lisboa Travel Market) 21-25 January

BTL – Bolsa de Turismo de Lisboa- 2009, defied industry trends receiving 71,121 visitors, a growth of 6% on last year.
According to a statement from the organizers the show “supplanted the original expectations,” not only by the number of visitors it received, but also by the satisfaction shown by most of the 900 exhibitors at FIL (Feria Internacional de Lisboa).

In addition over 40 international destinations and 600 foreign professionals participated in the event across four halls of the FIL in the first two days of the event, when the show was only for industry and trade professionals.

There was positive feeling expressed at BTL during the official inauguration by Vítor Neto, president of the Organizing Committee; “This is not a BTL of crisis and defeatism. BTL is one of trust, responsibility and determination, who wants to show everyone that the Tourism in Portugal enjoys good health and has strength and determination to overcome the challenges it faces.”

However hoteliers had concerns of their own related to the economic downturn. Many of the revenue managers and proprietors we spoke to were interested in ways they can boost revenues. The industry in Portugal is experiencing falling occupancy and RevPar – below that of 2007. The largest annual decline in occupancy was for 5 star hotels, down 11.6% to 49.8%. RevPar for 5 stars is down 5.2%.

Rural Initiatives BTL and Business BTL, which debut this year at the exhibition, had a very good turnout. We expect that these elements of the show will continue for 2010.

One of our customers, Group Vila Galé Hotels won recognition for the design of their exhibition stand. Group Vila Galé unveiled the new company logo and introduced a membership card Vila Galé Premium that works as a credit/payment card and loyalty programme. The hotel chain also announced the opening of Vila Galé Lagos, a four-star superior hotel on 25 April 2009.

We at RateTiger consider BTL to be quite productive. Our Sales Manager Pilar Sanchez Aita had the opportunity to meet 20 hotels to show the benefits of channel management products.

Fitur (Feria Internacional de Turismo) Madrid 28-31 January 2009-02-09

Fitur 2009 had a unique focus on technology and sustainability, which proved positive for us as hotels looked for new markets, new channels and new technology to increase room sales. Hoteliers expressed interest in contracting with more extranets to increase Online Distribution activities and looking at what their competitors are doing across the internet. Many clients are looking for integration to distribute their rates and availability from their CRS to other IDSs

Technology and Sustainability: New technological tools and sustainability was the basis of this 29th edition of Fitur. It was the 1st edition of the conference SMXTravel @ FITUR 2009, showing “all the secrets of the internet” in tourism marketing. It also highlights this year’s edition of Fiturtech 09 that includes, among others, Web 3.0, a 2.0 development environment that integrates a social network with the internal and external customer. Fitur had addressed the demand of the sector regarding online business, and this was extremely positive for RateTiger as we commit to more effectiveness in presentations held with hotels interested in our products.

There is a vast opportunity in the market for Hoteliers to boost incremental revenues. Following in the footsteps of the Low Cost Carriers – hotel companies are adding ancillary products and services to add up to 20% to their bottom line.

However, according to the director of International Tourism Fair in Madrid (FITUR), Ana Larrañaga, there was a 10% fall in visitors on 2008. 
The snowbound weekend had made it difficult for this event to reach or surpass last year’s 250,000 visitors. 


Exhibitors were also at a low – there were 13% less hoteliers and a 9% drop in the number of companies for 2009. Despite the criticism directed at Fitur by some hoteliers on the price per square meter and the challenging organizational structures, the general feeling is that the event was “very positive” and “satisfaction from those who attended it.”

Hoteliers had agreed that “in a difficult economic climate, we can not deny that many companies have been affected by the slowdown and this has had its impact on Fitur”. Despite the situation, they said nothing is more important “when business is especially difficult when we are urged to generate at a meeting point like Fitur where professionals network and it’s valuable generation of new alliances, creativity and ways of doing business to reveal how to boost profits using ancillary strategies”

InnPoints 1st Annual Worldwide Conference

We had the pleasure of participating in The InnPoints 1st Annual Worldwide Conference in Albuquerque, NM.

InnPoints is a client of RateTiger and they were eager to introduce our solutions to their entire client base. RateTiger was not only an exhibitor but I was invited to be a part of a business panel discussion.

The setting was unique in that there were less than 100 people in attendance but the attendees represented approximately 700 hotel properties. The opportunity to sit down in a “friendly” environment and discuss the specific business needs of individual hotels was very productive.

The demand for a demo of RateTiger’s solutions was so high that InnPoints allowed an unscheduled session with some of the hotels at the close of the panel discussion. The panel discussion was important as it allowed RateTiger to increase its online channel management education on how to survive in the present economic crisis. Everyone on the panel agreed that a channel management solution was a necessary component of a successful plan. RateTiger will definitely participate in next year’s InnPoints event.

Phil Stiles

UK rates fall – the first time in four years

The first news to hit the wires on Monday continued to throw gloom into the financial markets with Hotels.com’s Hotel Price Index (HPI) revealing rates for rooms in the UK to have fallen for the first time since 2004.

The HPI indicates that in the final quarter of 2008 prices dropped 4% to an average of £97 per room per night compared to £101 a year earlier. The rates are representative of many major UK cities as hoteliers scramble to maximise occupancy over rates. However, properties in more remote regions, like Inverness in Scotland experienced a rate decline of 15%.

A new report from Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) hospitality and leisure team claim that rates in London will decline as much as 23% in 2009. While on average it will drop by approximately 10% across the UK.

It is essential today that hoteliers focus on expanding their sales channels and market outreach. This will help to maximise opportunities and secures bookings in the short, mid and long-term. Since 1995, the internet has experienced a significant increase in bookings with travel websites gradually becoming the key source for consumer’s travel purchases.

Employing proper channel management technologies will enable hotels to identify appropriate selling rates through competitor benchmarking. Allocation mechanisms will then help to allocate inventory to the most successful and relevant channels to maximise occupancy. In a single year, total business via the internet for Thistle’s 56 hotels increased 130%:

“Basically, Rate Tiger gives the hotel an understanding of what the demand is and what is happening so we choose our rate wisely,” said Warren Mandelbaum, Area Revenue Manager, Thistle.

2009 is a year that requires exploring opportunities presented by online sales channels, focussing on price and offering to capture a share of the difficult market.

Welcome to the RateTiger blog

Welcome to the RateTiger blog. As channel management specialist for the hospitality industry we provide tools for hoteliers to easily benchmark and distribute rates and inventory online. Going forward this blog will provide you with news, insights and industry activities to keep you informed of developments in our sector.

The RateTiger blog will be updated regularly with news items that will be of interest to hoteliers selling rooms across the internet; reviews of events from our representatives across the world; and an insight to the thoughts and feelings of key players in the channel management space.

The online channel management market is a new and exciting industry only coming into its own over the past few years with the rise of popular consumer travel booking engines like for example Expedia, Lastminute and bookings.com. In 2007 nearly half of all travel bookings in the US were made through online channels. The internet enables consumers to look for deals online rather than rely on traditional travel sources. Watching the trend, online distribution sites seem to have an even more significant impact on hotel bookings over the next few years.

Therefore, hoteliers selling rooms across multiple distribution websites are continuously increasing the number of channels they distribute inventory too. It seems more important than ever to ensure updates are accurate and management of these channels is not extremely time intensive.

With a weak economy channel management becomes even more a priority for hoteliers to help maximise rates and occupancy. This blog will help identify ways you can make the most of the market.

RateTiger Nominated for the Retail Business Show Awards 2009

RateTiger has been nominated and short listed in The Retail Business Show Awards 2009 for its leading channel management product.

The Retail Business Show Awards, to be held Wednesday 29 January 2009 at The Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair, London, comprises 15 categories, including Hospitality Solution. RateTiger has been identified and selected as one of three companies that have understood the hospitality market and made a significant difference to it’s customers in 2008.

RTAllocator – a tool that helps hoteliers to manage their rates and inventory across multiple online distribution channels – was submitted after a successful installation at award-winning Hotel53 in York. Hotel53 experienced a revenue increase of 10% and occupancy levels rose by 15% in the first few months of use.

RateTiger has been expanding rapidly internationally, as it becomes a leader in channel management applications. Earlier this year the company received certification from Expedia for its room rate and inventory distribution technologies for the hospitality industry. RateTiger is also backed by ISO-27001:2005 certification that implements security controls customised to the needs of individual businesses to protect information assets and give confidence to hoteliers using RateTiger products.

Front of House Manager Sarah Culshaw had been logging online each day to update all websites manually making it a time-consuming activity taking over eight hours each week. Since the installation of RateTiger products Sarah saved 75% of her time managing the different sales channels.

About the product Culshaw said: ““Because all our rates can now be updated almost instantly, it not only frees up a lot more of my time, but it means we can react more quickly to the market. We have four different room types, and thanks to RTAllocator Lite, I can now make 16 daily rate updates very quickly and very accurately. Even though RTAllocator Lite is easy to use, even for a virtual novice, it is reassuring to know that there is round-the-clock help so that any difficulties can be resolved straight away.”

The final judging panel consists of Miya Knights – Editor of Retail Technology Magazine, Jon Davison, Managing Vice President, Gartner Industry Advisory Services, Retail, Paul Rodgers, Chairman, Vendorcom, James Roper, CEO, IMRG and Richard Cobbold, CEO, The Screen

“This is a great achievement for the RateTiger team and truly shows the value of our channel management technologies,” said Sascha Hausmann, COO. “The return for Hotel53 represents the benefits hoteliers across the industry can reap from using intelligent shopping and allocation products for rooms and rates across third party distribution channels. We have been making extraordinary developments in 2008 and this is the icing on the cake as we end a successful year.”

Judges will focus on entries that either exhibit a measurable business benefit and bottom line contribution or show genuine innovation and development, complete with evidence to demonstrate the underlying core value of bringing tangible benefits to the end user.

To view the shortlisted companies in each of the 15 award categories visit: http://www.trbsawards.co.uk/content/shortlisted-companies

ReservHOTEL International joins forces with RateTiger

RateTiger – a market leader in online distribution management tools for the hospitality industry – has combined forces with ReservHOTEL, a leading international hotel marketing and service company.

ReservHOTEL will use RateTiger’s “RTConnect” product, an XML based system that acts as an interface between multiple reservation systems and over 300 IDS channels worldwide.

RTConnect allows reservation systems to consolidate updating of rates and inventory on different IDS channels. Hotelier’s can now centrally manage rates and inventory directly from the reservation system, thus eliminating the need to update and monitor several systems separately.

Another key module of RTConnect allows retrieving of booking information from connected extranets. These bookings are automatically processed through ReservHotel and can be sent directly to the hotels PMS or CRS, thus saving hoteliers the time consuming effort of having to manually enter reservations that arrive via email or fax.

“Working with RateTiger means our 1800 + customers can now benefit from their pioneering technology though our web based system” said Luis Barberi ReservHOTEL’s President and CEO. “This will help our hoteliers take a more pragmatic approach to managing their inventory across a broader range of distribution channels. Hotels can now expand their breadth of distribution and subscribe to additional channels to maximize their online presence and revenue”.

RateTiger products allow hotels to join a larger number of travel booking sites including even small regional and city sites. “RateTiger has been extremely flexible meeting the needs of ReservHOTEL, which supports growth in these challenging times” said Barberi. “We are pleased to offer this functionality to our customers and look forward to developing further ground breaking technologies together with RateTiger .”

“Optimizing online reservations to meet revenue targets has become an increasingly important factor for hoteliers and will continue to grow in significance as more people choose to go to websites to purchase their goods and services,” added Sascha Hausmann, COO at RateTiger . “In order to achieve revenue and occupancy targets, hoteliers should be regularly monitoring and replenishing their inventory across all their distribution channels. RTConnect will allow ReservHOTEL customers to carry out this task quickly and efficiently and with absolute precision. It is a tool that will greatly simplify their inventory management.”

ReservHOTEL is also promoting RateTiger ’s RTShopper product to their customers as the hotel benchmarking tool of choice and is working closely with RateTiger to develop a more integrated solution.

This news follows RateTiger ’s further announced strategic partnerships this year with Utell, EZRMS and Pulse Technologies.

Utell and RateTiger Join Forces

RateTiger, a leader in online hotel distribution management tools and Utell Hotels & Resorts, the world’s largest provider of representation services for hotels, today announced a global partnership to deliver robust distribution, benchmarking, inventory and rate management tools to hotels.

Utell will integrate RateTiger’s services into Market Insight, its own suite of distribution management tools and technology. Market Insight comprises of the following components: MarketCompare, which helps hoteliers easily benchmark rates against direct competitors; MarketUpdate, an application that allows hotels to update rates, availability and restrictions across online distribution channels through one simple interface; and MarketManage, an enhanced combination of MarketCompare and MarketUpdate.

Ric Leutwyler, president, Utell stated: “In challenging economic times like these, it is critical for hoteliers to make the most of every revenue opportunity by knowing if their rates are competitive. Utell customers can combine the power of our global sales, marketing and distribution support with Market Insight’s real time competitive data and management tools to drive as much business as possible to their properties. Our mission is to help hotels compete more successfully and incorporating RateTiger’s expertise ensures that our hotel members have the latest products at their fingertips to help achieve a distinct competitive advantage.”

Market Insight will also offer hotels simple-to-use technology that builds on Utell’s already powerful distribution technology from Pegasus Solutions, according to Sascha Hausmann, RateTiger’s chief operating officer.

“Hoteliers are overwhelmed with what they need to do to stay competitive, which is why we’ve teamed with Utell to offer a ‘one-stop-solution’ to its members,” said Hausmann. “The integrated Market Insight tools allow hoteliers to streamline channel management and rate monitoring, empowering them to focus both time and budget on other issues that also need their attention.”

Utell Hotels & Resorts (which includes both the Utell and Unirez representation services) is committed to enabling nearly 11,000 hotels to compete globally. Market Insight is the latest initiative to help hotels members be more successful by providing a range of flexible packages that include access to full training and multilingual support.

RateTiger and easyRMS form Channel Management partnership

Rate Tiger has integrated with leading hotel revenue management system provider, EasyRMS to help hoteliers streamline their channel management of online distribution sites.

Hotels using both systems will now be able to maximise online revenue through third party channels by having an automated process from rate calculation to rate distribution to travel websites. The integration allows the room rates calculated by EzRMS™ to be distributed across the web via the Rate Tiger product suites. This saves hotels having to enter data manually for each individual channel.

Rate Tiger’s integration with EzRMS™ will improve efficiency for hoteliers who need to allocate their room rates and inventory to online distribution channels. Further eliminating human error and making updates quicker and easier. The EzRMS™ system will work in real-time through Rate Tiger’s leading channel management software across multiple online distribution channels.

In order to make this ground breaking technology work a dedicated interface has been developed to handle the way room rates are allocated to the various market segments necessary for each hotel. This provides an even more holistic approach to revenue management.

“The ability to update quickly, efficiently and transparently to numerous internet channels is an essential solution to maximise investments in technology made by hoteliers,” says Clive Taylor, VP Operations at EasyRMS. “The solution assists hoteliers in any part of the world to ensure they have the right prices available to clients. We are very pleased to have developed and tested with Rate Tiger an interface that will ensure the conversion of EzRMS™ recommendations to online channels that our clients are mutually working with.”

“We recently established a dedicated Integration Team to develop close relationships with the industry’s leading revenue management solutions,” said Sascha Hausmann Chief Operating Officer, of Rate Tiger. “We take rates from the revenue management system and post them directly to sales channels. Removing time spent on manual update processes and the associated complexities of channel management allows revenue managers to sign up to many more channels because of the automated interface. We aim to help hoteliers make the most of their investments and maximise revenue from online distribution channels cutting costs and making systems more efficient and responsive to revenue strategy.”

The first hotelier to utilise the converged Rate Tiger and EzRMS™ interface is the NH Tropen Hotel, Amsterdam.

EzRMS™ is a further RMS to be successfully integrated into Rate Tiger’s portfolio providing the flexibility required for updating online channels.