Nowadays, blogging seems to be a very popular method to create content on a website and take advantages from it (search optimization). However, I have noticed that blogging has more influence than that and therefore it is a fact that the number of bloggers is growing fast.
Attending the World Travel Market (WTM) in London 2016, blogging is highlighted by Simon Press, (Senior Exhibition Director) in his introduction: “The WTM Bloggers Speed Networking is now in its third year and has grown in size each time. The role of bloggers and digital influencers in the researching and bookings of travellers is increasing and WTM London is seeing a huge growth in bloggers attending the event.
As I am not a famous blogger and still learning how to write inspiring content, I took the opportunity to meet with some experienced ‘journalists’ and found out what the "Travolution" is bringing forward.
“Visitors don’t buy your product at Exhibitions”
Walking around on different travel markets like ITB, HITEC and WTM, the trend of making use of technology starts to overwhelm. Everywhere you go you are followed by badge scanners, routing technology and social media booths where visitors are pushed to read the latest social media posts about what is most important and ‘viral’ that day. But is it assisting you in having a good time at the exhibition and making the most out of it?
At least for exhibitors it does, e.g. if an exhibitor wants to go viral by making use of technology and expand its social media reach by heavily posting how great and innovative their solution is. Push their product to the front, pull visitors by the arms into stands, persuading them about the fact that their product will change the industry within a year.
From my experience and point of view this is exactly the reason why hoteliers (and other interested visitors) don’t buy your product at exhibitions. Interesting part of it is that I do attend, but do not expose by making use of a stand.
Having a stand keeps you busy generating traffic to your booth and it could be even more effective to drive your business by making appointments specifically related to your daily business and strategy by making use of stands from your business partners (networking).
“Handpick your tech partners wisely”
On topic, what is influencing the current “Travolution” that leads to smarter, digital travelling? What I faced during my visit at WTM, was the fact that there are so many firms and vendors of travel tech exhibiting. They are intending to do different things, all are vying for attention, but in the end, they do bundling of travel tech services.
During my conversations and going in depth with several progressive travel tech specialists, they are all telling me to do things differently: having their own proprietary tech, customer service, connectivity and strategy. However, those conversations did not demystify the current marketplace. What I have learned is that the travel market is very competitive and without the right technology in place, hoteliers struggle to realise their full potential. Therefore, my conclusion is: handpick your partners wisely and do not only consider technology, but also at what consultancy and support services do I receive along with it?
Mr. Carl Morgan (Tigerbay) mentioned in his workshop that success has to do with adoption, which makes sense: it is not the challenge of building new technology to support the Hospitality Industry, but it is all about understanding the needs of the industry, followed by how the industry understands your solution and uses it in the best possible way.
All clear, finally I found confirmation that knowledge sharing is key in this market; explain your users or buyers how to use your solution and the solution will do the rest. Make use of ‘how-to’s’ mini-guides, checklists, tips and tricks and create downloadable resources like videos, research and analytics. A great side effect is marketing related: content will create awareness and build the brand of your product.
Dan Hart from a digital agency called Melt Content wrote in an article stated in the official event daily: “Be open in the way you do stuff, but also share, collaborate and get things out there that will help people. If we generate interest on the back of that, we will be happy. It’s our way to talk about expertise.” I fully agree.
“Alternative travel revolution, this is changing the online distribution”
My last topic I would like to share with you is the booming end-to-end solutions to help hotels to work smarter, providing a one-stop shop for multiple functionalities including reservations, bookings, documentation and payments. We speak about online platforms enabling a single transaction that includes bundled services. I found platforms on WTM made by Traveltek, Juniper, Intuitive, Travelbox and many others that intend to be the travel industry leaders of the future. Let’s call it the alternative travel revolution, this is changing the online distribution in hospitality.
In the end it seems that connectivity (2-way XML) plays the most important role in this, all those platforms have the need for data. Information provided by third parties like distribution channels, call centres, web b2b/b2c, XML suppliers for flights, services packages, hotels, cruises and cars etc. The platform enables the cross link for managing the business online, updating availability, changing prices instantly, and managing bookings and quotations, all at the guest end. But where does all this data come from?
Let’s focus on online distribution for hotels. It all starts with a property management system located in a hotel. Together with certain tools and features a hotel sets its distribution/revenue management strategy: complete/flexible rate & availability management, services & amenities, upselling tools, direct sales optimization and conversion analytics by advanced reporting.
Back to the tech side, what platforms does a hotel need to perform full online distribution after the PMS:
- The Booking Engine: includes functionality for direct sales on chain/hotel websites and social media.
- The Central Reservation System (like Oracle Micros MyFidelio): is used by hotels staff that manages walk-in guests, requests by email/phone or forms and call centres.
- The Channel Manager (like SmartHOTEL): provides distribution to travel portals like Booking.com, Expedia, HRS.de and other OTA’s. But also boost your revenue by distributing data to wholesalers like Hotelbeds and GTA.
- The Metasearch Engine: is making use of a special cache that does not make use of its own SQL databases like Google, Tripadvisor, Trivago and Kayak. This system increases the hotel’s online presence.
- Last but not least the Global Distribution Systems: connects your hotel to any other distributor, suppliers like Sabre, Amadeus, Travelport, Galileo or WorldSpan for bundling/packaging one-stop-shop deals (flight/accommodation/services).
Now we are talking! For me it does makes sense that well-established tech providers trying to become the engine/hub to the above-mentioned suppliers. A full new product is rising; seamlessly complement your own products with those products supplied by external third parties, adding value to customers, and allowing hoteliers to have a greater coverage about what rates and availability are offered in which sales channels.
Back in the office, down scoping to what we do at SmartHOTEL… is giving me a warm feeling…
“Creating smart & simple Software
for Hoteliers by Hoteliers”
We stand for deeply integrated technology to several providers combined with tailored services and realize this every day for more than 2000 hotels. We pro-actively help our hoteliers to get the most out of their online distribution and going all the way to share our knowledge as much as we can by training based on their needs.
Did we miss any trend or technology that prevents us helping even more hoteliers?
I don’t think so… Not based on what I have seen those days on WTM.
What I know for sure is that I need to work on my ending of blogging, this is great fun!
- Written by Derreck Weterings
For more than 16 years, SmartHOTEL has been helping hoteliers navigate the exciting world of online distribution. From our office based in the Netherlands, our team serves independent hotels, hostels and chains worldwide by providing channel management and tailored online distribution solutions. A lot has changed over the last years, but our goal remains the same: simply connect hotels to the world. For any questions regarding our services, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +31 (0)182 75 11 18.