In the later part of my article I’ll discuss three more top performing online travel sales channels are shaping the travel industry in the Middle East.
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Hotelier Middle East conducted the third annual Qatar GM Debate that took place in April at the Grand Hyatt Doha. The team managed to get an impressive lineup of top industry speakers to discuss current happenings in the market including the concern over influx of new rooms in a market already struggling with low demand.
The first session from TRI Consulting focused on exclusive market data from their latest research which brought forth the raw numbers that will be shaping Qatar’s hospitality industry through to 2014. The hard facts and figures set the tone for the rest of the event and it led to very focused and meaningful discussions between speakers and attendees.
The interactive workshops offered significant insights on Delivering Ancillary Revenue and Best Practices of Revenue Management. The panel discussions covered a wide range of topics including how to deliver value through innovative product packages without discounting and leveraging potential of hotel F&B outlets.
Our workshop on Revenue Management & Online Distribution focused on how hoteliers can optimize online bookings. One in six travelers in Middle East today prefers to book online. They visit over 17 websites and check reviews before finalizing accommodation. With the range of choices they get across these channels, it makes it even more important for hoteliers to be visible at every touch point to capture customer’s interest.
However, more channels mean more updates. The respite comes in the form of automated distribution system – a channel manager helps hotels to collect and access the multitude of data in their systems to analyze rates, market pricing trends, competitor selling activities, historical and trend information to achieve the best possible room rates from the most desired guests.
We explained the case of Dedeman Istanbul in Turkey. One of the early users of internet sales channels, they wanted to use a system that would make online channel management easier and also allow access to regular rate reports to see how other hotels were pricing rooms and managing roomtypes and packages. Two years ago, they had installed our rate shopping and channel management tool in their property. The results were immediate and long lasting. Dedeman has since increased revenues by over 20%.
The presentation was interspersed with suggestions and ideas on how to drive direct online bookings and through examples we tried explaining how hotels can optimize product value across online distribution channels.
Another important aspect is the direct competition that the region faces with Dubai – which attracts a major chunk of foreign tourists. Qatar needs to develop an effective tourism campaign to gain more traction and attract the eye of travelers. This is where the role of online distribution comes in – Qatar hoteliers need to leverage the opportunities presented through the internet to reach out far and wide to newer markets and grow its market share – slowly but surely.
With over 220 hotel GMs in attendance, the event was well received and the venue buzzed with lively discussions and animated chatter. The Qatar GM Debate was a not-to-be-missed event, and a great opportunity for everyone to come together to discuss issues that really matter to the industry.
Hisham Diab is Sales Manager – South Africa at eRevMax and has extensive experience in the hospitality industry – having worked with brands like Golden Tulip, Starwood Hotels and Emaar Hospitality Group. He can be reached at email@example.com