Germany’s Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association (HSMA) hosted its annual “Pricing & Distribution Day” in Frankfurt recently. An audience of around 300, consisting for mostly hotel executives involved in distribution and revenue management, was keen to learn about the latest trends and strategies in their sphere of action.
In the light of rising distribution costs and the increasing feeling amongst hoteliers that they are no longer in control of their own rates, sales channels and products, the guiding theme of the event was how to find and apply the right balance between direct and third party distribution. Clever online marketing, a strengthening of direct distribution channels, Web 2.0 applications and mobile technologies were among the options discussed to lower the costs of distribution. Speakers included top managers from major hotel brands such as Accor and Best Western, HRS CEO Tobias Ragge, consultants and industry experts. Amongst the latter, Ragnar Strerath, Division President RTConnect at RateTiger, was invited to share his expertise.
His presentation titled – “Learning against helplessness – How hoteliers can rid themselves of feeling dependent on their distribution partners” – dealt with options to get back on eyelevel with OTAs and other sales channels. The key message: it needs both distribution management technology and market insight, none of these two will do the job alone. Ragnar explained which competencies are essential, these ranging from insight in the distribution landscape and its options and conditions, product development and placement skills to revenue management, online marketing and competitor analysis. But how can hoteliers obtain this knowledge? While technology can be bought – and Ragnar pointed out relevant features for channel managers and the most important questions to ask possible suppliers – the latter can be acquired in various ways: by training existent staff, by employing specialists, or by working with external experts.
Ragnar listed the pros and cons of each option: while in-house training takes time and hardly ever reaches the level of focused experts, it might also be too expensive for smaller hotels to employ a specialist. For these, consultants who help setting up a strategy and choose suitable technology can be a promising alternative, particularly if these consultants are largely paid per booking and consequently interested in the hotel’s success. Ragnar concluded with some statistics on Ramada’s performance, which has improved significantly since implementing RateTiger, quoting hotel’s Regional Director Markus Barth as testimonial.
The presentation was followed by an intense discussion, which showed that the speaker touched the needs of today’s hoteliers and that his insights were well received.
Jasmin Keller is PR Representative for the German speaking markets and is responsible for driving all PR activities for RateTiger and eRevMax brands in the region. Jasmin is based in Hamburg and can be reached at email@example.com
With over 230 travel technology companies exhibiting and over 110,000 trade visitors attending, the technology halls were buzzing with activities. The industry is really embracing channel management and the travel technology revolution is at its full steam. I was glad to see that this is mostly being driven by opinionated bloggers and well read journalists who understand the relevance of technology in travel.
RateTiger had a corner stand, giving us enough room to accommodate our never ending stream of visitors. Most of the audience this year showed an increased level of awareness towards the key online distribution technologies and the critical role of an efficient sales channel management strategy as part of the Revenue Management process.
Cristina Hernandez, Sales Manager, Germany saw a lot of discussion around HRS and the price-fixing issue in Germany. She says “This could spell a game-change for HRS which is expected to launch a new business model. While one of the largest OTA websites, HRS could easily fall victim to consumer and industry dissatisfaction with so many other channels vying for their market. The big question – what happens to rate parity? We will soon see how hoteliers themselves need to respond to this price-fixing ruling.”
On another end of the scale, Cristina Blaj, Sales Manager, UK witnessed discussions on voucher-sites – Groupon growing its travel offering – its marketing activity ramping up, and gaining a greater consumer foothold. However many discussed how damaging this is to revenue and profits. It is claimed that Groupon encourages return purchases at the normal rates following a significant promotional offer, yet the impact of Groupon on this is yet to be seen.
While my colleagues were busy understanding trends in their interest areas, I managed to get involved with discussions on marketing in revenue management, how it is today being forgotten and yet it is so much a part of the buying process. I believe it is important for hotels to have visibility and exposure across as many channels as possible, yet have a strong website for direct sales. Even Cornell University recently published a paper showing how listing on Expedia increases direct website visits. The idea is to have a good distribution mix and keep flexing the different websites while assessing volume to improve occupancy and revenue through different channels.
Overall, like every year, ITB had put up a great show, offering exhibitors and visitors what they came looking for. Check out our pictures from the event. I look forward to the Asian edition of the event in Singapore later this year. Cheers!
Ryan C Haynes is VP – Marketing Communications at eRevMax and is responsible for driving all PR and Marketing activities for RateTiger and eRevMax brands globally. Ryan is based out of London and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org