State and OTA’s

In 2018 Booking.com :

Around $100 billion in market capitalization

Annual revenues of around $93 billion

In 2019, bookings made through the various websites of the Booking.com Group reached $96.4 billion.

Customers booked the equivalent of 845 million overnight stays, 77 million days of car rentals and 7 million airline tickets.

Booking.com is the leading pure players in the travel industry, there are also Expedia, Trip.com, Airbnb.

These players benefit from advantageous tax exemptions due to their financial package.

It should be noted that Booking.com owes €100 million to the French tax authorities, with an adjustment of €356 million in 2015.

GDP of the French State: $2,762 billion in 2018

After COVID, the French government’s GDP would fall by 12.5%, placing it in 7th place in the world economy.

In France, the projected Losses of Tourism related to COVID 19: €40 billion.

When will a State Ministry of Tourism be able to seize these financial windfalls with all its might and defend the interests of French accommodation providers?

Not in 2020…

Physical Tourism, Digital Tourism

On May 28, 2019, we shared our vision of the digitalization of tourism with Martinique’s hoteliers and tourism stakeholders, including the ZILEA cluster and the MAJORINE agency. How can we take advantage of the digital transition in the tourism sector, more specifically the hotel sector? The objectives of the conference were to understand the evolution and digital reality of the tourism sector, to introduce ZILEA’s digital vision and to present the CARITEL company and its solutions.

• • • • • • • • •

Tourism actors present :

ZILEA

Philippe LECUYER

CAYRIBE CONSULTING

Kery RABATHALY

AGENCE MAJORINE

Madly SCHENIN-KING

CARITEL

Frédérique DISPAGNE

Stéphane BAUCHE

Charles de REYNAL

HOTEL BAMBOO

Sandy GELY

Noémie PALAIN-SAINT-AGATHE

HOTEL LA PAGERIE

Valérie VULCAIN

VILLAGE DE LA POINTE

Guillaume DORN

RESIDENCE DOUCE VAGUE

Christine MONGIN

HOTEL LA BATELIÈRE

Sébastien GINTZ

RESIDENCE LES CAYALINES

Hélène PANCALDI

OTHER TOURISM ACTORS

MARTINIQUE 360, Jimmy HELLENIS

LUXURY DRIVE CONCEPT, Nicolas ALEXANDRE

SECRET HORIZONS, Diane de la SERVE

Intervention of Madly SHENIN KING, MAJORINE – The digitalization of the customer journey in tourism

Digital is at the heart of the customer experience. Madly » sees the tourism sector as the laggard in the digital transformation. « She starts with a quick survey of the public: Who has conducted or is currently conducting a reflection on the customer experience in their establishment?

40% of tourism professionals believe they have already taken this step (8 out of 20 concerned).

LE BAMBOU shares this approach. For the past two years, it has been deploying a process of personalization of the stay, for a unique and dedicated hotel experience. The implementation of digital tools has been necessary to match its vision.

The BAMBOU Hotel shares its three personalized stages of questioning:

The Pre-Stay: Before the client’s stay at the establishment.

The Mid-Stay (or In-Stay): During the client’s stay.

The Post-Stay: After the client’s stay.

Concerning the Pre-Stay: 60% of the clients answer the Pre-Stay, in the name of the hotel manager and accompanied by a mini-form, whose questions can be: « Have you ever been to Martinique? Would you like to reserve your restaurant in advance?… ».

The BAMBOO’s commitment consists in answering systematically to specific requests of room typology (for example Twin or Grand lit), according to its availability.

On arrival, the indications of the customer are already reported by the reception in the P.M.S (Property Management System), taken into account and determined in instruction. The method allows to avoid beforehand a disappointment or a conflict during the Check-In.

« When we couldn’t, we can justify it right away. « explains Sandy GELY from BAMBOO.

For the Mid-Stay, it is essential to be human to be successful. During the stay, the staff ask about customer satisfaction, for example, whether they slept well.

Some customers can stay 10 days without complaining and leave an extremely negative opinion on social networks.

But during the stay, « something can be done right away ». Sandy adds: « On digital media, we have few respondents to this questionnaire during the stay. Guests are not necessarily connected while on vacation. »

During the Post-Stay, sent following the stay of the BAMBOO’s customers, the excellent news is that 90% of the customers answer it.

More customers like to comment on the pluses and minuses. « It is very rare to have notes on the fly. Customers go into detail. »

From this Post-Stay questionnaire, guests are surprised that the hotel considers their expectations mentioned in the Pre-Stay questionnaire.

Since the implementation of this satisfaction monitoring policy, BAMBOO customers leave less and less negative comments about Trip Advisor and more generally about the traveler networks.

« Direct questioning allows us to keep a link, a follow-up, whereas on Trip Advisor, we answer but often blindly, because we don’t always know who is writing the review. ».

For the BAMBOO, in addition to guest satisfaction which is its fundamental basis, the objective is to sell at all times.

During the Pre-Stay sent 7 days before arrival, the anticipation of needs often materializes by upsell: early sale of a bottle of champagne, a transfer, a bouquet of flowers.

Also during the stay, the proposals of enhancement of the offer are indicated to finalize in additional sale. « If I go to a hotel, I have to break down at any time. « It’s the game, » concludes Sandy.

Madly questions « the concrete implementation of tools within the establishment ». The Village Vacances VILLAGE DE LA POINTE talks about its new in-house software, recently acquired to centralize customer information.

Guillaume DORN, communication manager and Denis ROSE ROSETTE, general manager, have decided to change their management software (P.M.S) to facilitate their navigation.

Internally, a need for time saving and connectivity with their Revenue Management System (R.M.S.) was imposed to the VILLAGE DE LA POINTE.

Optimizing and automating their yield, i.e. the daily pricing (public or preferential rates) of villas, cottages and apartments, is an emergency.

« To make yield and offer the best rates in real time, you need gateways. We don’t have this possibility with our current P.M.S. For the staff, the reporting features, the intuitive nature of the software’s steps make our reception work easier, digitalize it and make it more efficient. For an equivalent cost, we benefit from superior quality. »

« Externally, we want to communicate with our customers through digital signage screens and stop the archaic paper display system. »

The Customer Journey, extremely fragmented in time (chronology of booking) and space (the fragmentation and diversity of the media), is the set of stages carried out by a traveler between the desire to travel and the return home.

Madly explains: « Hotels are equipping themselves with tools without necessarily putting the guest at the center of the strategy. But the needs of the consumers evolve, the sector is brought to adapt them, to better anticipate them. »

The 5 Steps of the Guest’s Path

1. Aspiration to travel: At this stage of the choice, « We don’t have a clear idea of where we want to go ». The image and the notoriety of the destination are central. Destination marketing is the initial work of public policy and promotion of the destination. In terms of referencing, an effort is also expected from the tourism authorities: « Where to go in December with the family? « on Google. A real flaw for the destination Martinique in lack of regular renewal of content. In addition, it is desirable to highlight the inhabitants: photos and videos reflect the beauty of the seaside, but not enough about its population, its inhabitants, its reality. Martinique is not a desert island. Master word : Notoriety.

2. Decision making: The research is more refined. In 2015, a French traveler visited 8 sites before making his choice. In 2019, 15 sites are visited before the purchase conversion. For a French person, 55.8 days elapse between the decision to travel and the purchase of the ticket. Travel intentions start well in advance. The stakes are considerable for professionals. For an American traveler, 250 points of contact are consulted before making a choice. Here, a deep work of image renewal is expected: cultural tourism, gastronomic tourism, and the referencing of this tourism. If we make the test of typing in google « Martinique Gastronomy » or « Martinique Tourisme Vert » the imagery is not necessarily up to the ambitions of differentiation. Master words: Referencing, Personalization.

3. Preparation: In terms of preparation, the mobile medium is experiencing the strongest growth. The pre-stay is globally highly digitized. Key words: Acquisition, Singularity, Reactivity.

4. The stay: 80% of reservations for tourist activities are made during the stay. Digitization falls during this stage. Key words: Personalization, Quality of service.

5. The post stay: It is quite neglected by professionals, yet the moment is crucial to make the traveler an ambassador or a detractor of the destination. Key word: Loyalty.

In summary, the traveler :

Uses several screens

Through different channels

Conducts research at various times

Is inclined to converse with companies

Provided that they offer relevant content

Oscillates between autonomy and the need for assistance

Consume the destination live by sharing your opinion on social networks

A few issues for tourism actors:

What Digital Enables

Result for the Traveler

Know the traveler’s intentions and needs

Collection of data

Content, personalized service offers

Send the right message at the right time

Geolocation, real time, Interactivity

Contextualized information, Improved communication

Offer / promote a frictionless global experience

Dematerialization, Automation, Centralized management. Immediacy.

Time saving, Convenience, 24/7 service

Measure performance

Measurement of the ROI of actions taken

Measuring traveler satisfaction

The goal is not to create new digital tools, but to make them more fluid, more immediate, more uniform.

Madly advocates attention to sites such as Trip Advisor (relay of certificates of excellence, satisfaction measurements), the administration of satisfaction questionnaires and customer surveys.

The Post-Stay moment is clearly overlooked, as it is intended for minimal feedback, without really requiring sincere news from the guest.

Concrete examples :

  • A contactless experience Aruba Airport: Close to Martinique, near Curacao. First autonomous « Aruba Happy Flow » kiosk system. Objective: to facilitate the flow of passengers at the airport. Passengers’ biometric data is collected only once at check-in. Thanks to facial recognition cameras installed at the Passenger Touch Points, passengers are identified at each stage of the journey to the aircraft without having to show their ID three times. Since its launch in 2017, more than 130,000 passengers from 33 countries have passed through the system. This is not the prerogative of large countries, with clear tourism objectives.
  • In the field of cruises, MSC brings individualization on gigantic ships. More than 4,000 sensors are strategically placed at all points on the ship, capable of geo-locating to within one meter. MSC has decided to create the world’s first virtual cruise personal assistant: ZOE. Able to answer more than 800 questions, it is constantly being enriched. The aim is to personalize the service for the thousands of people on board, with different topics and concerns.
  • Dematerialize processes: At Melia Hotels & Resorts, a connected bracelet to open the door to one’s room, pay for services (extras such as SPA), make purchases in shops close to the hotel (e.g. Mango store nearby), manage the spending limit set by parents.

« How do you integrate these changes into the management of your business?  « Madly asks about the feedback on customization and immediacy.

Valérie VULCAIN, Commercial Director of the Hotel LA PAGERIE explains her approach. At the level of the customer connection, first the human, then the digital. « The direct human relationship predominates, with regular event planning » explains Valérie. Namely by :

  • A welcome cocktail with the customers to help them in the choices in their excursions.
  • A satisfaction survey in paper form, which remains the best support for a part of their customers. Returns are systematically analyzed, reported and resolved as much as possible.

At the digital level, the establishment is working on a new platform to assist them in this direction. Valérie « considers herself for the moment halfway between paper and digital. « Valérie has decided to move from paper to digital in order to adapt to her current clientele.

What are the plans for the MARTINIQUE Tourism Cluster? – Speech Philippe LECUYER, President ZILEA

Presentation of the Tourism Cluster

Originally, Ziléa was a club of hoteliers. It has recently opened up to the entire tourism industry. The common objective is to speak unanimously about the global issues of the tourism industry, with exchanges that are more powerful than those they could have had.

This cluster is a business cluster of 87 members, mainly hoteliers (29 members represent 74% of the total capacity).

Since 2007, a relatively reliable observatory on a monitored panel shows the performance of hotels and more generally tourism in MARTINIQUE (Occupancy Rate, Average Price, RevPac).

Hotels, of course, but now also professional furnished rental companies, travel agencies, car rental agencies, the SAMAC airport platform, members of the spiri-tourism industry, bus carriers, cabs, VTC).

As a member of the CMT, ZILEA tries to act at the level of this body (21 political elected officials and 7 socio-professionals also political, therefore ZILEA still holds a relatively weak position).

The watchword is « Let’s get together, let’s look for sources of financing to initiate a strategy, let’s find tourist resources in the middle and low season within the framework of a transparent governance. »

5 commissions are part of ZILEA’s calendar:

  • Communication Commission (Animation of members like this one)
  • Training and Human Resources Commission (Social Audit i.e. why are Martinican hoteliers impacted by 17 additional payroll points compared to France? Federating efforts for training with the ESF. Thematic workshops on specific subjects: for example, repetition of sick leave, how to limit it?
  • Digital Innovation Commission
  • Marketing Commission: deals mainly with extra performance,
  • ZILEA wishes to expand its Observatory to provide a more detailed analysis of the health of the sector.

Few figures for 2018:

1,045,735 tourists visited Martinique in 2018.

Since 2013 + 70% thanks to cruises.

451 Million Euros in revenue.

Origin Nationalities: 80% from France, 20% domestic tourism (the remainder is scattered in North America and other countries)

Martinique remains mediocre at welcoming Americans, with a few more Canadians at Club Med, prepared to welcome them.

The destination is characterized by extreme seasonality from the Easter vacations to the All Saints’ Day vacation, for the low season, with a peak in July-August of West Indians living in the hexagon. Competition from the Maghreb is strong.

The Cluster has initiated a reflection on the E-Zilea application project. Pooling the needs between tourism players by federating customer data is the major asset of the process.

For example, a car rental company can offer Kayak or Kite surfing, accommodation, and praise the merits of the destination as a whole.

Tourists get off the plane at the same time. « Let’s imagine a Coupe queue process for already identified customers and a quick pick up when getting off the plane, as Digicel does on the cell phone: Welcome to Martinique. »

ZILEA can offer them an application to collect information about Martinique. « During the trip, we noticed that the Habitation Clément is nearby, but they are members of the association who are able to make discounts, » explains Philippe LECUYER.

E-ZILEA Application Project – Kery RABATHALY, Associate Consultant, CAYRIBE CONSULTING

The solutions

  • Improve the tourist experience by accompanying the visitor (via virtual assistance) in the organization of his stay in Martinique.
  • Real-time search and booking
  • Personalized proposals according to the traveler’s interests and family composition
  • Suggestions of tourist products according to the profile.
  • Control and optimize the expectations of tourists at points of interest
  • Waiting and cutting wire system
  • Preservation of products (e.g. vehicle contract to be filled out online)
  • Bringing tourists during the low season
  • Power to address potential tourists even outside the territory
  • Collecting travel information

Digital Concierge Service

Still at the analysis and design stage, the application will be aimed at the end customer, with a back office part on the users.

Kery recalls that « CMT is intended to animate the destination, be present in the digital strategy to improve the customer experience and support the destination component. »

Madly evokes the concrete example of the Val Thorens destination around skiing. Most of the actors of this ski destination have centralized their database, carried out together e-mailing campaigns, created in coordination of the ski passes valid on the providers of the territory.

Considering the constraints of the Madly bounced territory, « are the actors of the Martinique destination OK to share their data? »

 « One of the challenges, Kery says, is collaboration. At ZILEA, concrete collaborations already exist for marketing campaigns, training budgets, collective projects operate within a framework of light involvement and cost federation.

There is strong support until « we talk about sharing and database management, » adds Kery.

Getting companies to understand that sharing the database is an asset for the company and not a waste has not yet won over their minds.

« The players are not yet at the same level. Sharing a database is not opening your company to ZILEA or others. »

BAMBOO suggests working directly with the Tour Operators and the OTAS, who are the real holders of a major part of the Database. « We don’t have the data from the OTAS or the TOs. We don’t know who they are, they don’t play the game. We don’t know who they are, they’re not playing the game, » says Sandy. If the proportion of Tour Operators is declining, it is still very present in Martinique.

She adds that Martinique Tour does the equivalent in less global and that for a global adhesion of the actors that the actors adhere it is not necessary to know who comes from where.

E-ZILEA will be a resolutely practical and easy application for tourists :

  • Fluid
  • Reduced waiting time
  • Clearly identified need
  • Appropriate response

A tourist is equivalent to a well-identified request.

A digital tool for the customer experience: your TV – Frédérique DISPAGNE, Business Engineer CARITEL

The CARITEL company was born in 1977. Its core business, as a LOCATEL franchisee, has long been and remains the rental of television sets in the Hospitality.

What is the customer experience statistically? What do studies say about their expectations? We have taken as a basis a study by the firm PHOCUSWRIGHT commissioned by ORACLE.

The sample consists of 2500 American and European customers.

When the client goes back to his room, the statistics show a strong expectation of the prerequisites, with the top 5 criteria of :

  • Cleanliness
  • Location
  • Customer Service
  • Ease of Check in and Check out.

If technology is not the primary expectation of the customers surveyed, 60% of respondents (i.e. 2/3), give it a direct sensitivity. Hoteliers can no longer neglect technology in their establishment on these issues.

Of those 2/3 of guests who expect technology in the rooms, expectations are divided between

  • 45% choose their room
  • 41% discover the activities of the destination
  • 39% check in and check out
  • 36% make additional requests
  • 33% have entertainment in the room
  • 26% benefit from customer service
  • 23% benefit from room service
  • 16% communicate with each other
  • 13% find out about hotel bars or restaurants

« The customer experience is in essence information and ease, which is all the added value of the hotel industry compared to its direct competitors. »

The customer experience is a resource for the establishment in terms of satisfaction, therefore e-reputation and additional sales.

To date the millenial customer no longer or rarely watches TV, he arrives with his smartphone, and looks for devices to broadcast the content of his devices.

CARITEL’s TV set is not a vector of content for international channels. « It is a global information medium that allows you to interact with your client in the room at all times, when their attention is captive and available. »

With its welcome channel, its captive portal and its interface to communicate regularly with the client, you will consider TV CARITEL as a reactive, complete and up to date concierge.

The functionalities of CARITEL HOSPITALITY are as follows:

TV Management System Control (Sound volume at certain times of the day, menu lock to prevent TVs from being out of adjustment).

Bank of differentiated channels to facilitate customer navigation.

A personalized interface connected to the P.M.S. (welcome message on arrival, invoice on screen on departure)

The financing of TV by advertisers in the hotel sector ) Charles de REYNAL, Chargé d’affaires REGIDOM

Some advertisers wish to be relayed by your media (TV and screens in your living spaces). Why not benefit from a paper to digital transition thanks to our solution?

The demonstration ended with Stéphane BAUCHE, CARITEL Project Manager, with a demonstration of FLIP and digital signage, other CARITEL solutions.

Hotel Distribution Strategies

We had envisioned in the article Breakfast is a Great Moment #3 Pricing Strategies. Here, I propose you to consider the different Hotel Distribution Strategies. I share with you my vision of distribution methods and channels adapted to your establishment.

• • • • • • • • •

Hotel classification has a rather fragmented system in Europe. The ranking differs in Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy.

When I was in operations and I was reading up on commercial distribution, two postures left me a little doubtful:

The magic formula adapted to all establishments. E.g.: By taking care of their visibility on all social networks, hotelkeepers will improve their direct sales.

The relativistic advice from which the hotelkeeper emerges without knowing which direction to take. E.g.: All hotels must sell on OTAs to ensure profitability, but dependence is strongly discouraged.

I will try not to fall into either the first or the second pitfall and the task is difficult, since each hotel is an entity in its own right and at the same time, the subject of e-distribution is global to the sector.

The article is not intended to revolutionize e-distribution. Booking.com is a market capitalization around 81 billion dollars, the leader in e-distribution of accommodation and for the past two years, a tour operator of tourist activities.

Expedia, it is a market capitalization around 17 billion dollars. Airbnb, not listed on the stock exchange, is worth an estimated 30 billion dollars.

As a hotel operator, I was in a frantic race for « Sold Out Rooms », trying to find all the existing sales channels that could be connected to my channel manager.

I suggest we make a short stop in the frantic race for « Sold Rooms »:

First by briefly evoking the contemporary history of hotel distribution.

By explaining the main lines of the sector’s distribution strategy.

By proposing ideas correlated to experiences in hotel distribution in general, and strategies in particular.

Short History of Hotel Distribution

The disruption of the internet wave

For two decades, the giant immaterial distributors have been attacking all of our tourist service structures in waves: air, automobile, hotel, restaurant and tourism intermediaries.

The wave of dematerialized marketing is not exclusive to the tourism sector. It is a major trend in the tertiary sector as a whole (real estate, insurance, banks, local shops).

If OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) dominate the hotel industry, it is risky to decree the « fault » of hotel owners, and if there is a « fault », it is immensely shared between businesses of all kinds and a large majority of countries and continents. It is a new reality, virtual in form, tangible in its impact on our revenues and gross operating income, once commissions have been deducted.

The constant of greedy intermediaries

Another element of the contemporary history of our hotels: the wave has always existed. It changes color.

In the 60s and 70s, charters were introduced and the hotel business was marketed by GDS with the support of travel agents (in the 40s and 50s, they held the exclusive rights to our distribution!). At the time, the GDS – travel agencies tandem reaped the modest margins of 20% to 30% of the posted price (a far cry from the agencies’ modest commission of 10%).

The net pricing is the ancestor of the commissioned pricing. The hotel sold 100 francs for its room to its intermediaries. The intermediaries applied the margin they wanted and agreed among themselves: 100 Francs X 1.20 = 120 Francs, the travel agency’s selling rate. In our current and widespread system of commissions, the establishment decides to sell 100 € his room, or 120 €, and it knows that it will deduct the corresponding commission, without referring his intermediaries.

Paid vacations are voted, leisure prices fall and the offer grows drastically. In the 70s and 90s, in addition to the well-established and well-rounded travel agents, the wholesalers allied with the tour operators arrived. Dedicated to the target of the leisure clientele, the less gourmets took a margin of 20%, while the most greedy could go as high as 40%.

Being an affiliate of an integrated chain was rarely discussed for a large carrier in the process of successful distribution. The market was becoming industrialized at the level of its distributors, intermediaries and end customers. Hotels had to meet the standards expected and visible by these global distributors to ensure their fill.

At the end of 2001, the traumatic event of the World Trade Center attack occurred. Our indispensable American clientele began to desert the French market. Our French destination, upscale and luxury included, has eaten its black bread. Expedia arrived on our market the same year.

Americans came back to us with a generous commission price, with Expedia as a booking ally, leading the travel agencies, followed closely by American Express and Carlson Wagonlit Travel. The best travel agency in 2004, pure player, however, was grinding its teeth by commissioning at 25% and demanding a net and contractual pricing according to seasonality.

The story paved the way for Booking.com: a flexible, agile and commission-based model, not net pricing. More sales are maid, proportional commission is paid. The cherry on top: a 10% commission. Booking.com was selling our last rooms, as a loyal and faithful friend, every night including weekends. How to throw the stone to our elders? We understand them, we certainly would have done the same, every step of the way. We would have believed in a better world.

The wave of OTAs has swept through our offices and our homes, as has the use of the Internet. The keys to their success, easy to describe in retrospect, difficult to predict in the 2000s.

The « Catalog » effect: OTAs have carried out the referencing work (segmentation, neighborhood, destination) instead of our Tourist Offices, which have not been digitally transformed. Without irony, I doubt they still are today.

Massive technological investments (Ad words, sales tunnel): Hotelkeepers have valiantly and brilliantly invested in Ad words as a bypass strategy. The strike force and massive bids from pure players make ad words unaffordable for independents, barely profitable for networks (Booking is one of Google’s biggest clients). On this point, my opinion is to allocate this time and money budget to less risky practices. I prefer to build a real hotel CRM (explanations to come).

The promise of a better booking (better price, immediate availability): It wouldn’t have really changed the deal, but encouraging our customers for years to book with distributors, or offering a higher live rate, or displaying a booking form instead of a real-time engine hasn’t diminished OTA’s promises.

Booking.com then created its direct chat with our guests during their stay in our hotels in 2016. At the same time, Booking.com created its “bleisure platform” (a combination of Business and Leisure) with our corporate customers.

We are now in the apprehension of what they will still be able to invent! The fear is confirmed with the arrival of Booking Basic. Booking is now being used in some countries by our predators of yesterday: wholesalers.

Dependence on a powerful service provider has begun. At night we see our BRP dancing, which it could have been, should have been. We wonder about the nice things we could have done by saving the « Commissions » line. Works, staff trainings, a modern website. So many things.

Traumatized, betrayed, we behave with defiance when Airbnb, with whom we are starting a shy but happy honeymoon, tells us that it is thinking of changing its model and perhaps increasing its commission to be paid by the hotelkeepers (Stockholm Syndrome.)

While waiting for our next Messiah, CTrip, Airbnb, our website, there is no need to dither : Booking.com and its business model have become in a decade and a half our new Giant. As far back as we can remember, we’ve always had Giants. And if we continue to think about it, the one thing these giants have in common is … us.

To define the problem of hotel distribution, I take into account on one hand the technological disruption and on the other, the structural propensity of our sector to be subject to Giants. My proposal is that this new technological disruption is part of a series of constants specific to our sector. Since disruption, even if unintentional, is a constant, why go upstream like a rebellious salmon? Or on the contrary: why maintain the belief of better days?

To face reality, to find within ourselves what generates and holds on to those symptoms that affect our economy and our forecasts.

Hotel Distribution Strategies

There are, in the case of our hotel sector, three main types of distribution:

Exclusive distribution is the one that makes you dream the most. One and only one distributor manages my entire distribution. This distribution strategy is popular in the luxury and high-end sectors. It is an image insurance. Costes hotels achieve this. A racy DNA, a luxury offer declined in brand, a very strong and omnipresent soul. The only compromise, which is not one, is to have finally decided … to put a booking engine on their official website.

Selective distribution carefully selects its points of sale.  The respect of the brand image by hand-picked distributors is its niche. The strategy is widespread in the top of the range. In selective distribution, it is clearly found at La Réserve in Paris, which markets directly and on the luxury OTA Tablet.com.

Intensive distribution multiplies the distribution channels likely to sell at one time or another. The objective is to multiply the presence on OTAs, opinion networks and social networks. The strategy is encouraged by the common-sense yet unproven theory of the billboard effect. The principle? The more you are e-distributed by mainstream or specialized brokers, the better you sell live because all alone, you are invisible.  This strategy is adapted to products that generate profits by volume: budget, economic or even mid-range establishments.

It should be noted that the intensive strategy is currently experiencing a paradox. The vast majority of upscale 4* and 5* hotels are engaged in an intensive distribution strategy. OTAs have become indispensable to the entire hotel class, including the selective and exclusive by nature.

There is also multi-channel distribution, i.e. the simultaneous use of several types of distribution for the marketing of products. I intensively sell my rooms via OTA, while my starred restaurant is exclusively bookable directly. Multi-channel allows me to maximize sales according to product and customer typologies. In our sector, strategy can blur the identity of the accommodation unit – F&B.

A successful distribution strategy is based on the work of a product and an identity. Defining the right distribution and promoting it as it really is is key to financial success.

Strategic Directions

In All Cases, Finding Convenience

Whatever the distribution strategy (Selective, Exclusive, Intensive), the priority is to extract convenience.

The Macron law allows for price disparity in favor of direct sales. It has the virtue of proving that, federated, hotelkeepers are moving the lines of e-distribution to the top of the state. Good thing to say it and to prove it to oneself.

In spite of this advance, the Giants have nonetheless circumvented the principle. To be favored by Booking.com, it is necessary to apply a religious parity of rates, availability, room category, sales conditions, extras (if they are duplicated on the platform). Beyond the case of Booking.com, the algorithms used by the distributors do not allow the practice of rate disparity. In their place, we would have done the same.

A few concrete and non-exhaustive tips:

a. Make the Top Line Sparkle

The competition is not vertical: our establishments against Booking.com, our establishments against OTA. Let’s remember their valuation in billions of dollars. Competition is horizontal: the hotel against competitors in its market. At the heart of your market, choose to be the best.

In equipment : Invest in Capex, especially if your structure is aging, a little tired or even needs to be refreshed. The image and the average price are the two stakes of the additional equipments according to your category such as a workspace, a high speed wifi, shelves, a honesty bar, an open and shared kitchen, a fitness room or a swimming pool, a spa.

In services: You reach the undeniable quality in breakfast, welcome products, customer care. Create additional services to generate a greater margin. In 3*, it can be a souvenir store of the destination.  In 4*, it can be, for example, massages on demand in a room dedicated to this purpose in your establishment.

In reputation: You actively communicate about your upgrade via controlled channels (official website, social networks.) with as many photos and qualitative videos as possible.

b. Win the Talent War

The war for talent is now. Reinforce your staff if they are short, train them on the basis of rigorous procedures, retain them through bonuses on turnover. Value the salary of your competent and loyal management so that a competitor does not capitalize on its transfer of skills.  Invest in team events in order to unite them and improve their day-to-day relationships.

Unite your teams around a common cause, which can be to enjoy the best e-reputation, to be leaders in average price and occupancy rate compared to competitors on the basis of a CompSet.

All of these elements allow everyone to become one. It is their decisive effort in upgrades and upsells that most surely impact the average net valued price and additional sales that make you, rightly, happy.

Finally, carefully maintain an exemplary employer brand. This is the next step in capturing the best profiles before your direct competitors. Some companies are already pushing excellence by delegating the management of their employer brand. External service providers are in charge of defining an employer brand adapted to candidates, auditing the candidates’ overall career path, improving the job offers distributed by the brand and managing the brand’s candidate pool.

Given the recent HR contours that are taking shape, imagine how high the cost of acquiring our future talent will be. Making them loyal will remain the best calculation.

c. Adopt Digital Relationships

For the re-appropriation of live broadcasting, the turning point is also now. Investing in a hotel CRM connected to your PMS, your Channel Manager, your booking engine is now within reach of independent establishments.

To capture the direct and identify our customers : The customer relationship is of course the direct relationship between the establishment and its customers during the stay. In concrete terms, these are three major dematerialized and digitized highlights, along with a few examples.

The pre-stay communication (pre-stay), with a proposal of the hotel’s additional services (hammam, restaurant) for the Le Loisirs ravi, or a pre-check-in form for the Corpo pressé.

In-stay communication, anticipating dissatisfied customers and possible detractors of our e-reputation, detecting corporate customers to sign, spotting your unsuspected FITs.

Post-stay communication is already mastered by most hoteliers.

To build customer loyalty and resell directly: On this CRM database, regularly updated by the hotel reception, you segment your customers and adjust your offer as well as possible.

You activate targeted e-mailing campaigns (targeted seasonal offer for your previously unsuspected FIT clientele, targeted upgrade offer to promote your Bleisure). By taking back control of your distribution, by segmenting your guests, you target better, communicate better and generate more direct bookings.

d. Sign the Corporate

If the corporate clientele represents €5 billion annually, there is necessarily a lion’s share to be cut.

There are three key areas to win the Corporate award:

The prerequisite is to have a proposal dedicated to Corporate. It differs according to the location, capacity and affiliation of the establishments. In the case of large hotels, fixed pricing and fixed contracts are unavoidable. For smaller establishments, and assuming that it is well managed, pricing flexibility is very important.

Chase local businesses within a 10 to 15 kilometer radius, #phoning # elbow grease # the old-fashioned way. To save time and plan a constructive meeting, put down your three sales arguments (1. strategic location, 2. competitive advantage, 3. preferential contract conditions) then send them by e-mail to the corporate contact.

Integrate the networks according to the typology of your establishment: the Hoteliens to favour the Corporate of proximity), for a denser traffic: HCorpo, TeldarTravel…and for an even denser traffic: the mainstream HRS, Egencia, Airbnb for work…

A hotel does not breathe through cost savings. It is by making its top line glitter, i.e. its occupancy rate and average price, its demand and its offer. By promoting a quality product, you will no longer have to choose between one or the other. You will enjoy a better demand AND a better average price because you propose a better offer, whatever your market segment (budget, economic, mid-range…).

You will gain in breath, and you will be more in control of your destiny with a valorized gross operating income. This does not yet solve the subject of your web-autonomy but you realize the key step of increasing your GRP. Aware of your exemplary nature, the market has every chance of rising in quality, in turn. This is beneficial for you, as an actor of a neighborhood whose offer is improving and mobilizes a stronger demand.

Once the base is accomplished, here are some more specific directions.

2. Intensive Distribution

If you are part of an intensive strategy (low end, mid-range), and you make a low to relative margin per night, this is your niche. You multiply the e-distributors to reduce the power of only one: sell on Airbnb, CTrip, Expedia which ended up lowering its commission. You become a fan of metas and you sell to all the racks.

You limit the wholesalers, who rarely play by the rules of the game and broadcast your net fares (between -20% and -40% of your fares displayed in B to C). You may stipulate it in your contracts, but my personal experience is that they always find a loophole.

At the same time, you develop a clientele of regulars who are sensitive to price and benefits. You offer a fixed or variable rate (not too variable, a moderate price elasticity is to be taken into account), a privilege code and an advantage (breakfast included, early check in.).

When I took over the Hotel Manet** 50 rooms in 2014, before its switch to renovation, I couldn’t believe my eyes. 80% guaranteed by … regulars, 80% direct booking, 70 € for a single room, 80 € for a double room, 100 € for a triple room. A hotel really in its juice, but faithfully maintained, the owner of the fund made regular and permanent work.

Coming from the Channel Manager Availpro, I was statistically convinced that OTA was an essential distributor. When I came back to finalize some formalities, I interviewed the manager. He answered me: for 20 years, I have been holding the reception desk where I am frequently on the floors to make repairs. When they come to Le Manet, it’s also to find me.

3. In Selective and Exclusive Distribution

In addition to mainstream OTA, you are expanding your e-distribution dedicated to the luxury hotel industry (Tablet, Splendia, Jetsetter…). These OTAs are dedicated to your distribution. They do not reserve you? The subject is image, not necessarily efficiency. By weighing in on their side, you improve the chances that they will distribute you.

You are campaigning to benefit on mainstream OTAs from a positioning, an exclusive and dedicated promotion in line with your image. To the OTAs that put you forward in line with your positioning, your group grants specific and exclusive advantages over the mainstream.

For 5* establishments, the Virtuoso network holds no secrets for you.

At the same time, you develop a clientele of regulars who are sensitive to the Legend of your establishment and to recognition. Your marketing is that of influence.

The purpose of the top-of-the-range is its transformation into a story or even a myth. Nothing is too good for you, high-end.

You invest in a PR agency where you control the notoriety of bloggers and journalists, and you invest massively in your official website.

In addition to high quality videos and photos, 3D photos of rooms and living spaces, and films that showcase your identity, you work tirelessly and in an original way on your social networks, particularly Instagram, which has an unrivalled commitment rate. You script your typical customers (Persona, embodied by muses) so that they instantly identify with your ben establishment and succumb with immediate reservation.

As Beyoncé sang in one of her innumerable masterpieces, the best distribution solution remains the permanent and factual upgrade of offer. By upgrade, I don’t mean the frenetic rise in classification. A remarkable 3* is better than a questionable 4* that pulls the market down and blurs market visibility.

I mean, in our chosen category, to produce the best possible level of quality from every point of view, in order to retain the loyalty of our true target. I will consider this subject in detail in the next article: « Destination Quality Podium » .