MATKA 2010

Matka 2010 held recently from 21st – 24th January 2010 at the Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre turned out to be a very modern and well organized fair. The event was focused on the Finnish hospitality market but also included exhibitors and visitors from Scandinavia, Baltics, Poland, Russia, Iceland and Greenland.

Inspite of the temperature hovering around -20 degrees Celsius, more than 80,000 people attended the convention & fair, of which over 18000 were travel trade executives. There were quite a few hoteliers, including groups like Radisson Blu, IHG, Best Western, Omena and Reval Hotels. To my pleasant surprise, there were a large number of independent hotels as well and infact were representing properties from far and across including Vietnam, Korea, China, Panama, Seychelles, USA, Russia, Baltic countries and of course Finland.

The event had various sessions and the main topics included ‘How to be different in hard times as a supplier?’ and ‘How to deliver quality and meet price expectations for your clientele?’

Attending MATKA helped me evaluate the online distribution scenario in Finland. Many hoteliers now understand the opportunities that online distribution & channel management offers. Surprisingly however a substantial number of hoteliers are still using pen and paper methods and manually updating 3rd party websites. Hence the need to educate them on automated benchmarking and channel management practices is a must since Finland can become a fantastic gateway to unexplored territory in Northern Scandinavia and Russia.

Overall it was a great event and I was happy to hear “We know about RT, tell us more” from various hoteliers in the region. For me it was the key that unlocked many doors and created many opportunities.

Dan Jakobsen is Sales Manager, Europe at eRevMax and is responsible for sale of RateTiger products in the region. He can be reached at danj@ratetiger.com

FITUR 2010 (Feria Internacional de Turismo)

The 30th edition of the International Tourism Fair in Madrid, FITUR 2010, has left us enthusiastic as we experienced overtones of recovery in the sector. This edition won’t be remembered as the brightest in terms of participation and spending, but has left a good taste in projects and good wishes from the exhibitors.

The data shared showed some light at the end of the tunnel: although the area covered by the fair has declined over the previous year, the number of participating countries, 170, still held FITUR between 2 or 3 main trade shows in the tourism industry.
In general, stands were smaller and somewhat simpler than in previous editions, but some have been very original considering the lack of budget with creative designs. The overall size has fallen from 12 to 10 halls.

RateTiger was present at this year’s CEHAT booth (Spanish National Hotel Association) to strengthen our market presence and confidence in the Hotel sector.

During FITUR we announced the integration agreement with Tradyso – one of the major CRS in the Spanish market- the new integration will help Tradyso’s 1000 customer hotels to completely automate and streamline online distribution and management through itsTradyso CRS.

FITUR has made clear commitment to the Online sector, Web 2.0, technology, social networking, video marketing among others during FITURTECH conferences.

Following this concept, the Director of Turespaña (Spanish Tourist offices), Antonio Bernabe, presented at Fitur the new campaign that will promote tourism in Spain through social networks under the slogan “Spain, a country to share.” The concept of this new promotional campaign is based on Spaniards touring different Spanish cities and divulging the secrets and local attractions, sharing information and experiences in order to attract foreign tourists through networks like facebook, twitter and YouTube.

FITUR also offered solidarity to the recently destroyed island nation of Haiti and provided a complimentary stand at the trade show.

In summary, this 30th edition has shown us, above all, the enthusiasm for the recovery of a sector affected by the global crisis and the opening of new tourist destinations that focus on online distribution as an unbeatable engine to boost sales.

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

BTL 2010

The 22nd edition of BTL – Bolsa de Turismo de Lisboa- 2010 which was held from 13 – 17 January 2010, showed mixed signs of caution in the Portuguese Hotel sector. Inaugurated by Minister of Economy, Innovation and Development, José Vieira da Silva, BTL witnessed more than 1,000 companies exhibiting from 45 countries.

Alongside the Portuguese Tourism Awards, which, for the 5th time is being hosted at BTL, Bernardo Trindade, Secretary of State for Tourism, emphasized the importance of perspective in 2010, in close coordination with national tourism industry. To reverse the downward trend in 2009, he called for the participation of all stakeholders in the sector and pledged to support and provide solidarity of the Government in this strategic economic sector.

However hoteliers had concerns of their own related to the economic downturn. Many of the revenue managers and proprietors I spoke to were interested in ways they can boost revenues. The industry in Portugal is experiencing falling occupancy, it reached less than 70% last year, and RevPar approximately to EUR 48,00 – below that of 2008.

Bernardo Trindade also encouraged investors and welcomed the role of BTL as reflecting the pulse of the industry and demonstrate the efforts of private investment.

I consider BTL to be quite productive, I had the opportunity to meet 26 hotels, Groups, Chains and local OTA’s to show the benefits of channel management products, also I meet AHP (Portuguese Hotel Association) for our Membership agreement to strengthen our relationship with the Hoteliers in Portugal.

This is the 3rd year RateTiger attended BTL and that confirms our interest in the market and give us the recognition in the Hotel sector.

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

BTO 2009

The 2009 edition of Buy Tourism Online in Florence turned out to be better than expected. With various companies backing out from big international events, this travel tradeshow was quite well attended. Compared to last year, more people turned up for the event and the total count almost touched 1600.

With interesting sessions on online travel, evolution of internet, travel 2.0 and other current trends being discussed by leading authorities and specialists in the field, the visitors got their share of take-away and hence were happy to be there. Furthermore, focus on technology integration was a big draw for hoteliers who were inquisitive to find out benefits from such tie-ups.

Representing RateTiger at BTO was a great opportunity for me to meet up with many local Italian hoteliers. Not only is internet sales gaining prominence amongst them, they are also embracing technology to better manage online distribution. Hoteliers who knew about RateTiger products were keen to see a demo and some signed up immediately acknowledging the efficiency and simplicity of our products. Many others were interested and enrolled for our trial version to get a feel of the software.

With business prospects improving, hoteliers are more open to adopting technology solutions that will help them save time while maximizing revenues. I personally look forward to the next edition of BTO which I expect to be bigger and better.

Enzo Aita is Sales Manager – Italy at eRevMax and is responsible for sales of RateTiger products in the region. Enzo is based out of Italy and can be reached at enzoa@ratetiger.com

GÄSTE 2009

Gaste 2009 which took place from 8th – 11th November this year in Leipzig, Germany didn’t to draw much attention for online distribution. The event was low in attendance and the gathering consisted mostly of students from hospitality institutes.

With various competitions and sessions focused on catering, Gaste was a complete F&B forum with little focus on distribution and online channel management domains. Even then we were successful in creating entry level awareness about the concept amongst East German hoteliers.

One thing we learnt was the need to stick to established events like ITB Berlin if we are looking at promoting RateTiger and generating business in Germany. With the way internet is being widely used, I hope there will be more regional hospitality tradeshows which focuses on upcoming online distribution and channel management technologies.

Ulf Guldi is Sales Manager – Germany at eRevMax and is responsible for sales of RateTiger products in the region. Ulf is based out of Germany and can be reached at ulfg@ratetiger.com

ITB Asia 2009

ITB Asia 2009 which took place at the Suntec Exhibition & Convention Centre, Singapore, was worth the value of time and resources we spent planning and exhibiting there. It was the perfect setting for an Asian travel tradeshow and I am glad the second edition of the three-day B2B show has maintained its growth despite recent economic challenges.

This was our first participation in an Asian tradeshow; Sascha, Keith and I were quite excited to see how it would turn out. I had a large number of appointments and many delegates dropped by. The interactions went really well and now back in Delhi I have already done quite a few product demos with the newly built contacts.

We were amazed and pleased to see the reaction we got from fellow exhibitors and visitors, mostly hoteliers. They were aware that RateTiger offered premium quality products and they wanted to get a first hand feel of the software. We obviously were geared up to show them the tools and how it can help them.

The event presented us with an opportunity to network with Asian hoteliers, online travel website owners as well as travel agents, all of whom form a crucial part of our prospective audience. ITB Asia managed to attract the right mix of people with nearly 43% from accommodation sector, tour operators and travel agencies made up 31%, while tourism organizations and associations accounted for 10% of the audience.

Infact to translate its success – the show had 679 exhibitor organizations, among them one was RateTiger. Along with that 553 vetted quality buyers from 50 countries were present and nearly 18,000 buyer-seller appointments took place.

I look forward to ITB Asia 2010 and I am sure it is going to be bigger and better.

Sudhir Ghildiyal is Sales Manager – APAC at eRevMax. He is responsible for sales of RateTiger products in the Asia Pacific region. Sudhir is based out of Delhi, India and can be reached at sudhirg@erevmax.com

2009 NBTA International Convention & Exposition

San Diego recently witnessed the very successful NBTA International Convention & Exposition organized by National Business Travel Association (NBTA). It turned out to be a very busy event where I met many old friends from the industry, which is not a surprise given that over 5,600 travel professionals attended the 4-day event (August 23 -26, 2009) at the San Diego Convention Center.

The setting was spectacular as the convention center was situated right on the waterfront. The attendees were a blend of airlines, hotels, software providers, OTAs and travel company representatives.

The discussions mainly revolved around how to survive the current economic scenario. There were over 65 educational sessions where industry experts from the corporate travel community discussed business travel growth in today’s volatile economy and shifting corporate culture. It was a very intense and active convention with a blend of all the components of the travel experience.

With more than 400 exhibitors and 1240 travel buyers, it was a good milieu of people. A big advantage from RateTiger’s perspective was the opportunity to meet up with independent hotel groups face to face. The added access to the OTAs was a huge plus which helped develop rapport with them for future business relationship.

I would conclude by saying that the NBTA Convention is rightly known as the Business Travel Event of the Year. It has lived up to its reputation and is one of the few successful travel events in recent times.

Phil Stiles is the Vice President of Sales at RateTiger. He manages RateTiger’s sales and support operations in North, Central and South America regions and has facilitated the expansion of the RateTiger brand in the US market leading to increased business opportunities. Phil is based in RateTiger’s Florida office and travels to the European and Indian offices when work demands. Being a new business specialist, he attends various travel trade shows throughout the year to keep himself abreast of latest developments.

Venice hotel error is an eye opener for hotels

The €0.01 per room incident experienced by the Crowne Plaza is a pure example of how human errors can have a major impact on revenue. With the employment of a channel management system the revenue manager would have been able to ensure all rates were accurate across all channels before making the relevant updates.

Systems like ours allow hotels to set a minimum rate per hotel room to ensure typing errors are detected. As the online market place evolves, hoteliers are struggling to keep up, remain agile and control rates. This human error has occurred many times before and without utilising technology to simplify inventory and rate distribution, it is very likely to occur more frequently across the world as the number of channels that need attention increases.

Hoteliers really need to think sensibly during these times, to ensure revenues are optimized. Making mistakes like this will not only have an impact for the hotel itself but will also send the economy into further disarray.

Sascha Hausmann is the COO at RateTiger. He is a specialist in online distribution systems in Europe and the US and is looked upon as a trusted advisor. Sascha handles international operations and strategic alliances for RateTiger and speaks at various events. He is based in Germany, and also spends time across eRevMax’s international offices, mainly in America and the UK.

HTNG 2009 Asia-Pacific Members’ Meeting & Conference

I recently went to Singapore to attend HTNG’s Second Annual Asia-Pacific Members’ Meeting & Conference. It took place from 13-15 July 2009 at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton – I was on the 22nd floor and enjoyed every minute of my stay, relishing the overwhelming view of the Marina Bay.

The HTNG member meetings are generally great and it was no different this year. It brought together key industry executives and eminent speakers who talked about thought leadership and HTNG workgroup progress reports.

It was an excellent platform to interact with like minded people ready to adapt to new technology. I met quite a few IT heads and GMs from various hotels and chains.

There was an interesting session on Hotel IT spending in the current scenario with panelists being CIOs of various hotels. It was good to get first-hand knowledge on what their priorities are currently.

The conference had an ideal mix of hoteliers and technology providers with around 150 people attending the event. As per the agenda, latest updates of the activities of various workgroups including In-room solution, Architecture and Property/Distribution Solutions, were shared with us.

The key take-away was the details of new technology and upcoming trends received from the core teams of different workgroups. Data security, green room technology and role of social media were the hot topics; other topics included technology updates on revenue management, online distribution and related areas.

I feel it was an event worth attending as it provided excellent rapport building opportunities and first-hand information on how the industry is faring. These kind of events give that realistic feel and allow you to compare between analysts forecasts and actual scenario, and accordingly decide your next move forward.

Udai Singh Solanki is the CIO at RateTiger where he steers the development team, oversees organizational process and IT strategy. He also looks into Information Security and Management. Udai is passionate about innovation and keeps himself abreast on latest happenings by attending events and tradeshows. He is based in eRevMax’s technical development centre in Kolkata, India.

HSMAI Revenue Manager’s Luncheon

The Central Florida chapter of HSMAI organizes quarterly Luncheons for its members to meet and discuss the latest happenings in the field of revenue management over a hearty meal. On June 19, 2009 they hosted the Revenue Manager’s Luncheon at the Regal Sun Resort in Orlando.

The topic for the luncheon was “Market Conditions, Strategies, and New Technologies in Challenging times”.

Phil Stiles, Vice President of Sales, RateTiger, Daryl Cronk, Director of Research, Orlando/Orange County Conventions & Visitor’s Bureau and Debbie Morris, Founder and owner, Web Resource Management were invited for a panel discussion on the subject.

Phil describes his experience of the event, “The event was very productive as it allowed focused discussion on the ground realities of the hotel and travel market, specifically in Orlando. It was well attended and the presence of over 55 members, including Expedia and Travelocity signifies how relevant these sessions are to the industry.”

“HSMAI’s luncheon events are popular due to the fact that it allows meaningful networking with focused group of people and all involved benefit out of the process. RateTiger sponsored this event and I have to say it was worth it,’ concludes Phil.

RateTiger US Sales Manager Siobhain McArdle did a brief presentation on RateTiger products which was very well received by the attendees. Various queries came in after the event indicating how hoteliers are looking at technology more than ever to tide over the current scenario.