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 email@example.com
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.
Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference, HITEC, is today considered one of the world’s largest hospitality technology events. It took place from June 22-25, 2009 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California USA. RateTiger was represented by Sascha Hausmann, COO and Phil Stiles, VP of Sales.
As expected the attendance was lower than in previous years by around 35 to 45%. The main theme of the event was partnerships and product launches. Many travel technology companies announced partnerships and integrations to further help the industry offer seamless connectivity and better technologies.
At HITEC we announced our integration partnerships with Trust International and Micros as the travel industry moves towards automated online distribution. Seamless connectivity remains the priority for PMS / CRS companies and channel management is now used to supplement where XML seamless connectivity cannot be established technically or from a ROI perspective for existing key players.
A new addition to this year’s HITEC was the Roundtable session, one of which was hosted by RateTiger. Sascha led a discussion on – ‘Maximizing revenue during turbulent economic times: has seamless connectivity failed?’ He considers Roundtables to be a good concept which encouraged considerable knowledge exchange and he would like to see this becoming a regular feature at HITEC.
The Twitter discussion had the most successful roundtable attendance Digital and social media is what hotels are focusing on to get those ‘more-than-ever important’ travelers’ attention. So gear up people!
RateTiger also hosted a tutorial session on ‘Channel Management and the traditional reservation system’. Phil and Sascha had a good audience who understood the relevance of the topic and requested further information to make better buying decisions.
This year’s event turned out to be more of an exhibitor-meet-exhibitor show than a visitor-meet-exhibitor show. RateTiger did meet with some hoteliers and provided product demonstrations. Their feedback conveyed their trust in our brand and made us aware of the fact that RateTiger is identified as a company which innovates constantly and has relevant new tools to offer, which is what we continually aim for. HITEC rocks!
If you would ask a German about the annual event for the hospitality industry with the longest tradition, the answer would be INTERNORGA, which celebrated its 83rd anniversary in 2009. One of Europe’s biggest trade fair of its kind, based in Germany’s trade metropolis Hamburg, is year after year a must for hospitality suppliers.
This year’s INTERNORGA took place 13-18 March, and with 87,000 square meters of exhibition space it was larger than ever before. 103,000 trade visitors were attracted by 1,050 exhibitors. However, RateTiger was not amongst these exhibitors as INTERNORGA has a strong focus on the catering and restaurant/bar industry. Only approximately 16% of its visitors work in the hotel business, and most of them are rather concerned with choosing new cutlery or a convection oven than revenue or channel management software.
Nonetheless, RateTiger’s German PR representative Jasmin Keller spent a day at this busy event and met a number of press contacts. Her impression: “It is indeed a massive event! Yet you will probably not find many buyers for channel management software.” Asked whether INTERNORGA was hence a less important event: “Not at all! All our key media contacts are present to promote their publications as well as to learn about new products. It’s a perfect way to meet up with everyone!”
A need to create awareness for the necessity of a strategic approach to the online market is the common outcome of her meetings. The editors agreed that it is vital for hotelier’s future success to learn about the importance of the Internet as a point of sale. “Many hoteliers are still skeptical about using third party distribution sites or cannot afford the time to update these extranets properly,” said Jasmin. “The editors are aware that those must be educated: about the opportunities for their business; the risk they take by not participating on this market; the best ways to manage the web strategically; the need for continuous benchmarking and updating; and the possibilities to safe time and maximize revenue with supportive software solutions, such as RateTiger.”
Overall INTERNORGA has been a success for RateTiger, with several editors planning to pick up on channel management. The company’s claim of being not only a software vendor but also to focus on education, training and consultancy has proved to be the right strategy.
We were invited to speak at the HSMA conference on February 11th in Germany by the HSMA, IFH in connection with the German Hotel Association (IHA) as key sponsors of the event. The entire day was dedicated to electronic marketing and how to make the best out of internet marketing opportunities.
During the morning we listened to representatives from Google describing marketing opportunities for travel companies; Lufthansa showing how airlines manage passengers and use the internet to ease procedures; Micros-Fidelio talking about integrated e-commerce solutions; as well as, various consulting companies presenting how the internet and web 2.0 provide opportunities and challenges.
In the afternoon the crowd of approximately 180 people was able to select from various workshops that would allow for deeper inside info. For example newsletter marketing, search-engine-optimization, legal aspects of web 2.0, RFP procedures as well as integrated revenue management and distribution systems.
We were asked to talk about Metasearch and Channel management – the balance between customer and hotel. During the workshop we established what channel management and metasearch are, how they influence consumer & hotel behaviour and how they are going to develop in the near future. As I love to show the hotel world how inconsistency is transparent on the web, we also walked through an example of why it is important to manage rates & availability properly. I managed to find a hotel during my research for the workshop that had different rates on different travel metasearches and even within the same search engine! I am sure that revenue was lost there…
After the workshops the organizers presented a panel discussion between Trivago, Holidaycheck, Choice Hotels and Romantik Hotels about Hotel-Review-Platforms. To my surprise, the audience was very switched on and engaged…. even at 6pm.
Overall the event was well received. The organizers could have done improved with some of the presenters though. When you present at a nearly 200 people event, you have to make sure your presentation is sharp, informative and interesting enough to follow along. That wasn’t always the case for some…..
We attended the annual Travel Technology and Business Travel Show last week to meet customers, potential new clients and find out how our business partners are coping with 2009. The event hosted at Earls Court in London brings together the UK corporate travel companies to discuss technology and trends in business travel.
We were hoping to see a few PMS systems, but not this year. The whole Travel Technology Show was smaller than previous years with only a few booking systems and data management companies. On the second day the number of attendees seemed very low. Many of the businesses exhibiting at the fair admitted it had been much quieter than 2008.
During the Business Travel Show, the current economic conditions were mentioned a number of times by various people and very few were optimistic about the upcoming year. We also noticed an increase in the number of apartment companies who were exhibiting, but many do not sell through on-line bookings yet and therefore do not understand the opportunities of online channel management technologies.
Only very few hotels were exhibiting although we did have the chance to have lengthy conversations with the groups that were present. It is pre-dominantly a show for Travel Management companies and considering, the shows are run together, there were very few Online Travel Agencies. We spoke to HRS, Hotel.info and Hotelshop UK Ltd. all of whom said they liked the show, but it certainly did not seem busy to us. Furthermore, unfortunately, none of the seminars were relevant to us deciding to look at the credit crunch and social media tools to increase online visibility.
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 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”