What is the meaning / definition of competitive set in hotel industry?

What is a comp set? A Competitive Set (or Compset) is a group of hotels that are seen as direct competitors to your own hotel.

Hotels will often compare their performance against competitive set hotels, in order to find ways to make their own offering more competitive.

Competitive sets are used for benchmarking purposes, market penetration analyses and to help develop positioning strategies. Many hotels uses rate shopping tools to compare their current pricing with the ones of their competitors in order to make proper pricing decisions.

What kind of hotels to put in your hotel compset?

A hotel in any given area will not necessarily compete with all the hotels in that area for the same sources of demand. For a hotel market study, it is necessary to determine which hotels compete with the subject hotel and to what degree, and it is likewise important to eliminate those hotels that are not competing for the same demand. To this end, all the lodging facilities in a market area should be inspected and analyzed in order to support the selection of the appropriate competitive.

Xotels is a leader among hotel management companies. We help independent hotels outperform their competition with our hotel revenue management services and HotelScienz revenue management system.

Posted in Hotel Management

Unconstrained definition: What is Unconstrained Demand in the hospitality industry?

The definition of Unconstrained demand refers to the quantity of rooms in a hotel that could be sold if there were no constraints, no limits.

When considering unconstrained demand revenue management, a hotel manager or revenue management team must ask themselves: “If there was no limitation whatsoever on our hotel’s capacity, during, say, the Christmas and New Year holiday period, what would the total demand for rooms amount to in monetary terms?”

But what is the use of knowing this, you might ask yourself!

Well, when total demand for a particular date is identified irrespective of capacity, a hotel can then plan better for the future and perhaps even take steps to increase capacity, to accommodate the demand and therefore maximise revenue. It can also gauge better or even accurately calculate what price to charge for different types of rooms and suites around/on a certain date or period

Xotels is a leader among hotel management companies. We help independent hotels outperform their competition with our hotel revenue management services and HotelScienz revenue management system.

Posted in Hotel Management

What is Ancillary Revenue in Hotel or Resort and how to generate?

What can you do in your hotel or resort to generate additional income? It often sounds easier than it is in reality. We have been brainstorming and have come up with some great hotel management tips to sell extra services. And then there is the next challenge with upselling and cross-selling. There are several extra services to offer in our hotels but how do you know what is most profitable. Which ancillary revenues bring more income while require less effort in terms of investment, time spent and people dedicated?

Hotel Revenue growth? Start Upselling from Today and Maximize the Revenue

Over the last weeks, we have been racking our brain and plowing through hotel websites to gather best practices for upselling and generating ancillary revenues in hotels. We have looked at our own portfolio, and outside to come up with a list of amazing tips.

Whatever the size of your property, the potential of ancillary revenue is big and the options to get it can be very creative …

ANCILLARY SERVICES IN HOTELS, WHAT OPPORTUNITIES EXIST?
Your hotel has high occupancy, the reviews of your resort are good, or your want to increase the average income of your hotel or resort. This is the moment when you ask yourself “What is next?” Annual industry reports say that ancillary sales will account for more than 18% of a ‘tourism business’ total revenues. Want your piece of the pie?

There are 4 different ways to use ancillary revenue in hotel and start with a total revenue management strategy:

1º CREATE PACKAGES:
Bundle ancillaries (add-on services) with higher category room types. This option is known as “Themed Packages”, and is all about selling an experience. You can call them romance, adventure or family packages.

Be aware that some guests look for the entire travel experience, but others prefer to organize flights and hotels first … and think about activities after. Address both:

– Offer themed packages on your web so they can choose it during the booking
– A week after a room booking is completed, send an email to the guests offering the activity (with a nice picture and the price), and upsell to them…

Do not limit yourself: if you do not have facilities for activities, partner with local third parties. We talked about this as well in our last article about what hotels can learn from AirBnb.

Examples on How to apply this Ancillary Revenue idea to Resorts

You have a nice hotel or resort in a beautiful location, congratulations! Some guests will choose your location and will find you, but you can do much better…

Use your surrounding to sell a broader experience, that goes beyond your hotel. Add a pack of activities in the form of a package and find one key activity related to each target customer market (young adventurers, couples, seniors). Two awesome examples:

Spa

Did you know, you don’t even need to have a spa to actually position / market your property as a Spa Hotel? Look at Hotel de Londres y de Inglaterra in San Sebastian, for instance. Here we have partnered with the high-end La Perla Spa and created a wonderful package.

People swimming at the Spa La Perla

Romantic Escape

It is one of the most looked for searches on Google for your destination. So why not offer it on your website? You can do a simple champagne and chocolate offer, or build a more extensive romantic package with a dinner for 2 in an exclusive location or restaurant. You can let your imagination do the work.

Golf & Sports

A popular sport, with dedicated travelers. Again, there is no need to be on or next to the golf course. Build a package together with the local golf course.

And what other activities can we target just as golf? Hiking, diving, cycling, kite-surfing, paddling, kayak, and many more …

Other packages that come to mind: culinary, family activities, cultural, city tour, weekend break, etc

2º TARGET A CLIENT NICHE MARKET
Choose a niche client market and be the best there. To properly cover the niche you will have to adapt your property and your communication. The good part of this strategy is that you can, and should, offer related services to improve the experience and your guests (and charge them for it…)

Dog Friendly Hotel

Pet owners are known for being very generous with their furry friends. But the hospitality industry is slow in getting adapted to cover their needs. Not just in terms of accepting pets at hotels, but also for offering special products for them. So we have put some ideas together for you:

– Offer a pet friendly room rate that includes an extra mini bed for the dog and a pack of plastics bags, a toy and some dry food
– Have a little shop with products that the pet owners might need during the stay
– Partner with a veterinary, so you can easily offer it in case is needed
– Propose services such as dog walking, dog washing, dog daycare, so guests can go to touristic activities while their dog is enjoying too!

Family & Kid Friendly

Do you have Family Rooms in your hotel? How will families find your hotel when searching on Google … a fair question to ask, if you want them to stay at your hotel, right?

Family vacations are expensive, and a cool family friendly hotel is the perfect option. But is your hotel truly kid friendly? What activities inhouse and outside do you offer?

Some ideas to ponder on …

– Nursing and childcare service, to help parents to rest some hours a day and enjoy the city by themselves.
– Early check in and late check out, so they can easily adapt logistics to the schedule of the children.
– Propose a daily schedule of paid activities for children at various ages in the city and the nature…and adult activities organized at the same time.
– Sell nice but simple and healthy packed lunch to take out, for a day on the town.
– Offer family rooms to keep their spent low and also to make easy the night care of the little kids.

3º GET ROI FROM UNDERUTILIZED AREAS
True, every refurbishment requires money spent but…Have you ever calculated the ROI of any of the actions below?

– Call to advertising agencies and startup incubators to offer them your garden for their events, do it for free the first time, make stunning pictures and get awesome reviews … and after you can start charging for it.
– Are your meeting rooms being used all the time? Could they be used as a space for for photographers to do a photoshoot? Or as a space for companies to conduct interviews, recruiting staff?

You could potentially also turn it into a co-working space … it all comes down to math. The trick is to make the spaces as polivalent as possible, and not just for banquets or weddings …

4º CREATING A COMPETITIVE EDGE
OTA and Meta-Search are still very focussed on selling rooms. So it is up to you to make your hotel stand out, and add experience to the mix.

The key to succeed is to be an expert on your customer profile and to clearly define which product or service could be interesting for them…at each stage of the customer journey, because if you do it on this way the offer will be seen as a valuable proposal instead of a sales opportunity.

– Offer some low cost service during the booking process:

Stand out from your competitors with a pick up on the airport or a free parking spot. What surprises me the most is the big number of properties that are including this service already but do not highlight it during the booking process!

– Inspiration and planning during and after the booking:

Offer activities for guests who need inspiration and for the ones that think about activities days after the hotel reservation is done. Zoku Hotel sends an email with upgrade offers and San Nicolas Hotel in Belgium offers a delicious chocolate tour on their web.

– Offer paid activities during the stay too. Your front desk can mention it to the guests at the arrival. It could be cooking classes of local recipes on rainy days… or yoga lessons at your lovely rooftop.

– Partner with local artists and decorate your hotel with pieces of art available to buy. See an example of the Omni Hotel in Dallas that is exhibiting more than 7000 artworks at common areas and at guestrooms.

Xotels is a leader among hotel management companies. We help independent hotels outperform their competition with our hotel revenue management services and HotelScienz revenue management system.

Posted in Hotel Management

Demand in hospitality industry; what is the meaning /definition of it?

By Demand, we mean the level of consumer interest and need: demand for beds, demand for family rooms, demand for conferencing, event space, rentable scuba diving gear…

If a manager asks a chef: ‘Jacques, did you serve a lot of meals in the restaurant tonight?’ she could also frame the same question like this: ”Jacques, was there high demand for meals in the restaurant tonight?’

Demand for products and services can change a little, or a lot! For example, hotels in Austria’s Tyrol will experience a noticeable increase in demand for rooms during the peak skiing season, but during the low season demand could be worryingly small.

Generally, prices amplify as demand grows, and vice versa.

How to create a demand forecast?
A demand calendar is something crucial for your revenue management strategy and it will also help you make decisions about your hotel pricing policy based on solid data and statistics.

Identify all events that impact your demand. Positive or negative hotel demand generators must be recognized. Once updated, a demand calendar should not sleep. It should be updated every time you identify an event impacting your demand… that means one update a week at least! Other important elements to consider are school and back holidays in your market of reference.

In Hospitality, other types of demand could include:
Constrained or unconstrained demand revenue management – the total demand for a particular date irrespective of a hotel’s capacity.
Elastic or inelastic demand – An inelastic demand means that the demand is not sensitive to fluctuating pricing levels.

Xotels is a leader among hotel management companies. We help independent hotels outperform their competition with our hotel revenue management services and HotelScienz revenue management system.

Posted in Hotel Management

What should Hotels Copy and Learn about AirBnB

The hotel industry generally suffers from a victim mentality. AirBnB is the big bad wolf that is not playing according to our rules. Them and other sharing economy business models are bringing damage to our hotels, and it isn’t happening in a fair way. But let’s turn the game around and find out what we can learn from them to become better at our own business, hotel management, a.k.a. hospitality … Let’s have a look at their strategies to find some creative ideas for hotels and see how we can apply them. Ready?

Innovative hospitality marketing ideas in the Sharing Economy Age

1.USE OF EXPERIENTIAL HOSPITALITY

The city is the experience itself and Airbnb helps their guests to live it. Experiential travel trumps convenience. So, Airbnb rentals not only offer a place to rest but also unforgettable experiences during the stay. How? They bought the company Trip4real, so their guests can directly book experiences during the stay with local people. Conclusion: it is not just about the stay anymore, it is about the offered value of the entire stay.

HOW CAN HOTEL MANAGERS APPLY THIS INITIATIVE AT THEIR HOTELS?

Work with sharing economy platforms or with freelance local tour guides and offer your guests themed walking tours of your city. Check out these sites:

http://www.withlocals.com
http://www.toursbylocals.com
http://www.showaround.com
http://www.globalgreeternetwork.com
http://www.likealocalguide.com
http://www.getyourguide.com
http://www.triple.co
http://www.tourguides.viator.com
http://www.meet-thelocals.com

Go even further by recommending your guests to join events on one the following sites during their stay for a real local experience:

http://www.EatWith.com
http://www.meetup.com
http://www.mealsharing.com

Your Host (reception) team should become local social concierges. They should network with locals and get to know the best of the best, and know what is on in town besides the big events. They can even organize MeetUp events with locals in your hotel to stimulate more interaction.

Have locals show your guest their favorite spots …

2. MAKE THEM FEEL HOME AT YOUR HOTEL

Some guests choose AirBnB it because staying at an apartment makes them feel home. Have a look to the facilities of their apartments and figure it out what do they value: access to a kitchen, a living room to relax, a laundry… Hoteliers can offer this too, one idea is to create a new rate including some of these services.. and see what happens. Do you have business travellers that come to your hotel on a regular basis? Test it with them! You can have great ROI from very little investment.

HOW CAN HOTEL MANAGERS APPLY THIS INITIATIVE AT THEIR HOTELS?

Gift them cozy slippers to be used on the facilities. Note they need to be nice ones, they can take home as a souvenir, (so not the standard white hotel edition).

Have an open area with some free drinks snacks opened 24h so they will have something to eat at any time.

Organize a daily free aperitif with some wine and something to nibble on. This works magic for your guest review scores by the way.

Have free books that they can read during their stay and take with them when they leave

Offer free laundry service for a limited weight.

Create a package around the above options to present it well on your website.

3. BE HUMAN THROUGH TECH

Let’s look at the way they interact with their guests before, during and after their stay. AirBnB is killing it, compared to hotels in service level.

There is an efficient chat mechanism. Actually it’s more like email, but it poses as chat, to make it feel more personal. Guests can contact hosts for any question on the facilities, location etc. And the host can make recommendations and provide personalized add-on service throughout.

What upsets me, is that in the hotel industry we have become lazy. Our website is a gatekeeper. It is a barrier that replaced the phone. It allows us not to have to talk to travelers who might be interested to stay with us, or even guests who booked that might, that have some questions.

No mind you, most hoteliers don’t want to talk to prospective guests. We have a website, all information is on there. Please look it up yourself, and we will even give you a discount if you book online on our website.

We have to admit AirBnb has smartly noted hotels have missed the boat on how to best use new technology and smartly played into this humanizing the booking process with a more personal human touch.

So let’s use all those resources we have our hotels to provide amazing pre-stay and post-stay service, and show travelers how much better we are at this game than AirBnB hosts.

Yes, hoteliers should also communicate and answer questions or concerns and quickly reply or make adjustments, which ultimately builds trust, repeat customers, …and more (direct) hotel bookings!

HOW CAN HOTEL MANAGERS APPLY THIS INITIATIVE AT THEIR HOTELS?

Implement a live chat to answer questions on the spot while potential customers are using your website. They will see that there is a real person behind, looking forward to welcome them. It is a preview of what to expect when staying at your hotel. So a moment to shine.

Contact with your guests before their arrival, as a human host would do, you can propose them some local activities during their stay or just to ask if they have some special requirement. Use an automated email campaign and after you just have to interact with the ones interested!

Do follow-up calls to guests prior to their stay to upsell them. This comes across very personal, and is perceived as additional service. Based on certain criteria you can define on what to offer. I.e. if they are in a drive radius, offer them parking, and explain space is limited, and you want to make sure your guests are taken care off. There are a million things you can think off

 

  1. UNIQUENESS AND DESIGN PERSPECTIVE

We have all seen that AirBnB is now open for hotels to advertise their rooms at their platform. The idea behind is that some hotels can offer added value in comparison with the apartments. Basically, They just want hotels that have two characteristics in special: the uniqueness of their space, and cool open areas with common spaces that motivate socialization among guests.

HOW CAN HOTEL MANAGERS APPLY THIS INITIATIVE AT THEIR HOTELS?

Build common areas, with a unique design concept. Make sure it is also accessible and welcoming to locals, so your guests can interact with the community.

Co-working spaces are very popular as well to integrate into hotels mixing travelers with locals.

5. DECENTRALIZATION & SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

Controversial topic that always jumps into the table when we talk about AirBnB. It is a fact that Tourism has caused congestion at some areas of the cities and this deteriorates the quality of live of the residents. AirBnB says that they are moving guests to areas of cities outside of the city centre because they have apartments all around the city area..

Also lately, AirBnB has published an statement talking about how sustainable tourism benefits to all the stakeholders guests, hosts and cities, and have developed their business taking this mindset into account. And for this reason they want their hosts to be sustainable and to implement green practices. Great but…what can we do?

HOW CAN HOTEL MANAGERS APPLY THIS INITIATIVE AT THEIR HOTELS?

Build your hotel at a new and trendy neighborhood. Be a pioneer and position yourself as the place to enjoy the city out of the crowd, and you will kill it with the travellers who want to spend a few days living as locals.

Install a green energy system onsite of water conservation and use of renewable energy.

Use green and recycled, organic, fair trade products on the hotel facilities and rooms.

Choose and promote local suppliers for the the food of your restaurant, the sheets and towels of the room, hire local designers to develop an unique lodging concept.

THE FINAL WORD

AirBnB has taken a piece of the cake by offering a disruptive product, and their growth in few years means that they know what the travellers want. As hotel managers, we need to adapt our offer to satisfy these needs. So..Why limitate ourselves to use them as a new booking channel? Let’s steal some strategies from their success and be disruptive, try, experiment!

Xotels is a leader among hotel management companies. We help independent hotels outperform their competition with our hotel revenue management services and HotelScienz revenue management system.

Posted in Hotel Management

What is Demand-Based Pricing in the hospitality industry?

In the Hospitality Industry, prices for services do not have to be permanently set. They can be adjusted, depending upon how many rooms, meals, etc. are needed by customers at any a particular time. This is what Demand-Based Pricing is all about – the price of something changes depending upon how much demand there is for it at a given time.

So, you can see that Demand-Based Pricing methods offers a lot of flexibility to hotels and other types of businesses in the Hospitality industry, which can only be a good thing!

Let’s look at a specific example now…

Hotel demand forecasting
A hotel in Wimbledon (London, UK) wants to make as much money as possible during the world-famous Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships. They know that demand for rooms and other services will be very high during that time in summer. So, they plan to increase their prices then, in parallel to demand escalation.

The economic ‘law’ of supply and demand is straightforward and universal. When managing revenu, understanding pricing strategies Demand-Based, is essential – a hotel can alter its room rates at different times of the year, instead of always being frustratingly stuck at one pricing level.

When demand is high, prices usually increase.
When demand is low, prices usually decrease.

Simple!

Xotels is a leader among hotel management companies. We help independent hotels outperform their competition with our hotel revenue management services and HotelScienz revenue management system.

Posted in Hotel Management

Checklist for Hotel and Resort Revenue Management

OK, so last year we sold 1.836.117 rooms at Xotels. Not bad. To be honest I am even impressed by these kind of numbers myself. But how did our team of hotel strategy experts maximize revenue and profit for these? We have put together a revenue management and marketing case study, highlighting our best practices and proven techniques.

CASE STUDY REVENUE MANAGEMENT: HOTEL QBIC AMSTERDAM WTC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. PROFILE OF THE HOTEL:
Modern Budget city property with very high occupancy (94%-95% every year.) The hotel is located in the business district called the South Acis, inside the World Trade Center. It is a real hub in the city. The property has a podstyle hotel with cool and functional design, located inside an office building.

2. THE REVENUE MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES:
Xotels has been running this property since 2010. After 8 years of successful performance the revenue management challenge of this hotel case study is to keep growing the generated revenue. And with occupancies always in the mid 90%, ARR increase is the only way to go … Ah yeah and of course to replace OTA business with Direct bookings.

3. REVENUE MANAGEMENT OPPORTUNITIES PROPOSED AND IMPLEMENTED BY XOTELS:
Better inventory management:
 Revising room-type supplements
 Overbooking room-types strategically in low demand periods
 Restrictions on OTAs on MLOS and room categories on high demand periods
 Inventory micro-management to optimize conversion on stay through availability

Group quotations:
 Increasing conversion levels for low/mid demand periods with competitive offers
 Driving ARR for high demand periods

Website growth techniques:
 Trademark protection
 Meta-search with a strategic selective approach, favoring high value stays over blanket volume bidding
 Conversion stimulation via persuasive pop-ups
 Subscription based discount and promotional codes prominently positioned on website
 Post stay emailing to gain loyalty and improve reputation score
 Focus on Best Price Guarantee on website and in Booking funnel
 Fixed corporate rates to used to drive demand on low season
 Yield opportunities, driving ADR on weekends and special events with a longer lead time
 Deeper and better analysis of segmentation and booking pace, micro managing yielding for a 13 month window

4. THE RESULTS: REVENUE MANAGEMENT KPI’S TO MEASURE THE SUCCESS OF THE HOTEL
After having this hotel at our Revenue Management portfolio for many years, and as result of the business strategy to increase revenue, the KPI’S are as follows:

• RevPar: 30% increase on the last 3 years
• Net RevPar: 32.3% increase on the last 3 years

Xotels is a leader among hotel management companies. We help independent hotels outperform their competition with our hotel revenue management services and HotelScienz revenue management system.

Posted in Hotel Management

Hotel Business in China; 10 Tips for Hotels to Penetrate this Market

With around $300 billion spent every year overseas, Chinese market is incredibly tempting for hotels, but it’s probably the hardest one to penetrate as well. We are always looking to develop our yield and revenue management and hotel distribution strategy for new opportunities. Talking with some of the experts in the market we have put together a top 10 list of tips and best practices to make your hotel ‘chinese friendly’ and attract this massive growing market segment.

So, if you don’t know where to start with the “Land of the Dragon”, forget about noodles, dumplings or martial arts B-movies and follow this short guide to turn your hotel into the ultimate Chinese-friendly experience!

1, 2, 3, GO!
Statistically, the average Chinese travelers stay is pretty short (according to a recent Ctrip study, most package-tour travelers visit over 3 Countries in 10 days), they prefer to move in groups and avoid the DIY approach. This is because of several reasons: usually Chinese do not speak fluent English, so traveling in groups is reassuring, moreover, agencies take care of pretty much every aspect of the travel, including getting Visas (only 7% of the population actually possesses a passport and getting a Visa is usually a pain in the butt, if you pardon my french). Chinese travelers have a clear preference for beaten-track destinations with known landmarks.

TIP #1: SPEAK TO YOUR TOUR SERIES AND GROUP BOOKERS AND FIND OUT IF THEY HAVE CHINESE CLIENTS. YOU COULD USE THIS GROUP MARKET TO QUOTE ‘OPAQUE RATES’ TO CREATE BASE OCCUPANCY. OF COURSE HIGHLIGHT THE SPACE YOU HAVE FOR BUSSES OR MINIBUSES TO DROP-OFF AND PICK-UP GUESTS.
THE YEAR OF THE CAT, NOPE, THE DOG
Equally important is to recognize the religious, cultural and political differences. For example is not unusual for Chinese to have only one or two weeks of annual holidays. Unthinkable, for us, lazy Europeans! Nevertheless, last year over 6 million of Chinese travelers spent the Lunar New Year Holiday week (late January – early February) overseas, a period that is usually considered low-season in Europe and can be, therefore, exploited!

TIP #2: STUDY THEIR TRAVEL HABITS AND CREATE SPECIFIC PACKAGES FOR THE SPRING FESTIVAL BREAK!
MEETING THE EXPECTATIONS
You should learn what the Chinese travelers expect from hotels when abroad: paying for wifi, for example, is unimaginable and, even though they do not expect your staff to speak fluent Mandarin, it will certainly improve their experience. Comb, toothbrush, and slippers in a room are expected, just like kettles to make (huge quantities of) tea. When managing a complaint with a Chinese guest, staff should be indirect, diplomatic and avoid confrontation at all cost: the worst offense you can do to a Chinese is to lose your temper, as hiding emotion seems to be the national sport over there. As bad as it may sound, hotel staff (and staff in general) is considered as servants by Chinese, therefore more delicate issues should be managed by General Managers directly. Never turn your back on a Chinese guest and don’t forget to smile like until your mouth aches when talking to them. Do not offer preferential treatment to women and, in the rare case a Chinese offers you his business card, treat it as the Holy Grail and grab it with two hands.

TIP #3: SOMETHING THAT IS NORMAL IN WESTERN CULTURES IS OFFENSIVE TO CHINESE. DO YOUR HOMEWORK! HAVING CHINESE SPEAKER STAFF IS A VERY EFFECTIVE, YET, NOT ALWAYS POSSIBLE FOR SMALL PROPERTIES. TRY ADDING SOME CHINESE TV PROGRAMS AND A FEW TYPICAL DISHES ON YOUR MENU! AND HOW ABOUT PARTNERING WITH A LOCAL CHINESE SPEAKING TOUR-GUIDE …
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS
Did you know that the Chinese word for “four” sounds like the Chinese word for “death”? Greek call this tetraphobia, or fear of the number 4. This number should never be pronounced during holidays or when somebody is sick. Chinese elevators often skip the 4th floor. So, you got it: NEVER put a Chinese guest on the 4th floor. Looking for a complaint (or an ancient Chinese curse?): assign the room 444… But, hey, the good news is that the numbers 8 and 9 are considered very lucky.

TIP #4: MAKE SURE YOU NEVER ASSIGN A ROOM WITH A “4” IN IT TO A CHINESE GUEST, BUT PREFER ROOMS WITH A 8 OR A 9
PAY WITH MY LITTLE PHONE
A friend of mine from Shangai once told me that “I can live pretty well by having only Alipay or WeChat on my mobile”. This can sound like a radical statement, but it is incredible how quickly the Country managed to move its payments from cash to digital, almost skipping the credit card phase tout-court. According to a recent Nielsen survey, when abroad Chinese travelers “subconsciously take out their phones, only to realize later that the merchant does not support mobile payments”.

TIP #5: ACCEPT ALIPAY AND WECHAT AS METHODS OF PAYMENT! DON’T FORGET TO MENTION IT ON YOUR WEBSITE
BANNED IN CHINA
Even though there is a timid, new trend of tech-savvy Chinese travelers using western online platforms such as Google (via VPN, of course) remember that over 6 million websites are blocked in mainland China. And, between them, there are the main western capitalist social media such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. So trying to penetrate the Chinese market using these platforms is like trying eat chicken soup with chopsticks.

TIP #6: ACCORDING TO DRAGON TAIL, OVER 70% OF CHINESE TRAVELERS USE SOCIAL MEDIA AS THE MAIN CHANNEL TO ORGANIZE THEIR TRIP. DID YOU KNOW THAT WECHAT HAS MORE USERS THAN INSTAGRAM? CREATE A WECHAT ACCOUNT (POSSIBLY A SERVICE ONE) NOW!
FORGET ABOUT BOOKING.COM AND GOOGLE
OTAs are different from ours in China (oh, yeah, that’s surprising…): even though Booking.com and Agoda are available, Ctrip, Qunar, and Alitrip are way more popular. TripAdvisor has its own Chinese language version (DaoDao), but it is way less used than Qyer or Mafengwo. Same with search engines: political pressures have negatively influenced the expansion of Google, so the majority of hotel searches start in Baidu (700 million users). On top of that, the algorithms developed to organize search results in Indo-European languages are not effective for different alphabet and syntax.

TIP #7: CONNECT WITH CHINESE OTAS, AT LEAST WITH CTRIP (OVER 50% OF MARKET SHARE AND 160 MILLION APP DOWNLOADS) AND DO NOT WASTE MONEY ADVERTISING ON GOOGLE, BUT TRY SOME BAIDU ADS!
PAPER IS DEAD, BUT NOT ENTIRELY
Did you know? One of the most popular travel search queries in China is “name of city + travel guide”. As anachronistic as it may sound, being listed on a few guides is not such a bad idea.

TIP #8: LIST YOUR HOTEL ON A FEW CHINESE TRAVEL GUIDES TO INCREASE YOUR BRAND AWARENESS
WHERE TO HOST YOUR CHINESE WEBSITE
Loading times for websites not hosted in China can be incredibly high. But, in order to host your website over there, you should register a Chinese business… And it’s bloody expensive.

TIP #9: IF YOU CANNOT HOST YOUR WEBSITE IN CHINA, CHOOSE HONG KONG: IT’S SLIGHTLY EASIER AND LOAD TIME WILL BE GOOD ENOUGH FOR CHINESE WEB USERS
KILLED BY DESIGN
The cultural background heavily influences Chinese aesthetic canons as well. Try to compare Tripadvisor with its Asian equivalent Daodao: the profound aesthetic web design differences are striking. Advertising in China is not that simple, either. Baidu, for example, is way more restrictive on advertisements than Western search engines and it requires the approval of your account before you can start bidding.

TIP #10: CREATE A DEDICATED WEBSITE VERSION FOR CHINESE USERS AND MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW BAIDU GUIDELINES FOR ADVERTISING!
THE FINAL WORD
China is a complicated market, especially for the cultural and political differences that divide us. If you want to attract the Chinese traveler to your hotel, you will have to learn and about their habits and preferences. Adapting to their needs and expectations is fundamental to success.

So, in order to penetrate this segment, enhance your hotel management strategy and start following these ten takeaways. Otherwise, they will simply pick another hotel that does …

PS: 1 more tip, but as we did not want to break the top 10, we put it here …

When traveling, Chinese prefer to spend more on shopping than accommodation. Yes, like to all Asian, shopping is a must. They spend a lot on buying European brands …

TIP 11: ADD SHOPPING INFO ON YOUR WEBSITE. A ROUTE OF DEPARTMENT-STORES OR LUXURY BRAND BOUTIQUES WILL BE VERY EFFECTIVE. ALSO INCLUDE DETAILS ABOUT THE CLOSEST OUTLET SHOPPING VILLAGE. SHOPPING PACKAGE COULD ALSO WORK WELL, EVEN THINK ABOUT PARTNERING WITH A LOCAL CHINESE PRIVATE SHOPPING CONCIERGE/GUIDE.

Xotels is a leader among hotel management companies. We help independent hotels outperform their competition with our hotel revenue management services and HotelScienz revenue management system.

Posted in Hotel Management

Hospitality industry tips? Use Demand Generators and what is the meaning of it?

In hospitality, meeting demand for goods and services is not only about meeting customers’ needs, whenever required; sometimes, a hotel or other type of hospitality business can create demand.

The best way to do this is by using hotel Demand Generators.

Yes, it sounds quite self-explanatory, doesn’t it! But let’s consider this in more detail…

Demand generator definition:
Demand can be increased by hotels (or, in fact, decreased during busy group booking periods or when refurbishing, for example), depending upon when they need or want to do this. They don’t have to sit and wait to see what customers will do (and therefore are at the mercy of consumer behaviour all the time). No. There is another way. A better way. And that is hotel revenue generators. When there is not sufficient demand to reach a good revenue result or occupancy the hotel can take action to generate more demand (shift demand to his hotel)

Examples of demand drivers are:

promotions (think via flash sales websites)
packages (sold directly via the hotel, ota or other channels)
discounts (stay 4 pay 3, stay 2 20% off)
Let’s look at this example:

A hotel in Portugal’s Algarve region does not have many bookings in the pre and after season, outside the main summer peak demand periods. So, the hotel management must find a way to attract customers during those times. The best thing they can do is create a Demand Generator, such as offering a reduced price deal, with lots of additional offers built into it.

‘Half-price rooms, with free breakfast!’ Now, that would be difficult to resist!

To make this even more appealing, the hotel could put a time limit on the offer: ‘This package is only available for the next fourteen days.’ This would encourage potential customers to book quickly, for fear of missing out on the promotion.

Psychology can also be used in Demand Generation by offering an Exclusive Package. That’s right; you don’t just have to cut prices to grow demand! Sometimes, by making people feel that they could become a member of a prestigious ‘elite club’ by joining other people on an exclusive holiday, that can result in increased (higher priced) bookings for a hotel, too.

Xotels is a leader among hotel management companies. We help independent hotels outperform their competition with our hotel revenue management services and HotelScienz revenue management system.

Posted in Hotel Management

Hotel Marketing Tips: Protect your hotel brand from brandjacking or Affliliate Brand bidding

CON AIR: WHAT IS BRANDJACKING?

The neologism brandjacking was coined over a decade ago, by astutely combining the words branding and hijacking. In our industry, when we talk about brandjacking, we usually refer to all those activities whose lowest common denominator is the exploitation of another company brand’s equity, such as the creation of fake social network profiles or mirror-websites. The most frequent use of brandjacking is, however, is the one that goes under the name of Affiliate Brand Bidding. This mischievous tactic consists in investing in search engines advertising campaigns and bidding on terms that are related targeted company. Ever googled your hotel’s name and found Booking.com, Expedia, trivago and TripAdvisor before your official website? Well, that’s ABB.

So how do we deal with this in our revenue management challenges?

Take a look at the Google Search for this hotel below. Whos is first? Is this what we want as hotels?

HOTELS: CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD?
According to a recent study by MarkMonitor, the economic damage of Affiliate Brand Bidding in travel is estimated to be around 2.2 Billion USD because, while in almost any other industry companies are prevented from using this questionable strategy by the legitimate trademark owners, it is (unfortunately) common practice in our business. Online Goliaths such as Booking.com and Expedia, in fact, are not particularly worried about systematically hijacking hotels’ brands by redirecting traffic to their websites. Because of the almost-non-existent bargaining power that hoteliers have towards their distribution channels, in fact, it is no surprise that one of the many clauses of Booking.com contacts gives the famous OTA (and its subsidiaries) complete freedom to bid on the name of your property. Did you know that?

HOW CAN HOTELS PROTECT THEMSELVES
Renegotiating contractual clauses with OTAs and other distributors, therefore, would obviously the best way to go, even though it is, unfortunately, the most impervious. Another, more expensive but less complicated, solution is to bid on your hotel brand, using your official website as the landing page for the traffic generated by these campaigns (technically, this practice is known as brand protection).

A third, less known but extremely effective, method is to file a complaint with Google for trademark infringement. Let’s take a closer look.

The type of mark hotels should apply for is the word mark. This step is extremely important, because figurative marks (logos) are not taken into consideration by Google’s trademarks infringement team. The EUIPO website provides a simple step by step application form, where hotels can create and submit their application in less than ten minutes. It is crucial to know, anyhow, that one in five applications is opposed. So if you are concerned about conflicting trademarks, seeking legal advice is highly suggested. The mark is valid for ten years and it has a cost of 850,00 €, that should be paid in advance.

The complaint can be filed by the trademark owner or by third parties (consulting agencies, lawyers, advertising companies, etc.). In the latter case, the trademark owner must send written authorization to ads-trademarks@google.com , confirming that the third party is authorized to act on his/her behalf.

WHAT YOU CAN ACHIEVE
What next? Unfortunately, in recent years the legislative attitude towards Google advertisers has become more and more permissive. Just up until a few years ago, in fact, it was possible to ask for trademark protection at keyword level but, since 2010, it is no longer possible to prevent an OTA (or a review site, or a metasearch engine, etc.) from bidding on trademarked keywords. But not all hope is lost, on the contrary! Hotels can still protect their brands at Ad level: yes, OTAs can appear when a user searches for the hotel brand, but they can not use the hotel brand in the ad text (even though it may still appear in the display URL).

For ad campaigns targeting the EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) regions, the policy for trademarks in ad text applies, while no protection is possible for ad campaigns targeting Australia, New Zealand, US, Canada, UK, and Ireland. In these countries, in fact, AdWords advertising campaigns can include the hotel trademark in the ad text, hence the inutility to register one’s trademark worldwide.

Yandex, the main Russian search engine, is unfortunately much more permissive, asserting that Russian laws are “designed to encourage competition and freedom of economic activities”.

THE QUALITY SCORE
So, is it really worth applying for a trademark? Yes, it is. By preventing the use of one’s trademark in the ad, in fact, OTAs quality score in Google Adwords drops, forcing Booking.com et similia to bid more just to keep the same position on the SERPs or, if the quality score gets too low, preventing them to show the ad tout court. Google quality score, in fact, ranges from 1 to 10 and is an estimate of the quality of the ads and of the landing pages triggered by that specific keyword. A high-quality score indicates that Google believes that the ad (and its landing page) is relevant and useful to the end user and vice-versa.

CONCLUSIONS
Applying for a trademark is, especially if combined with a solid SEA strategy, the most effective way to regain control of one’s brand. And, according to Benjamin Sebagh, Technical Director at Creative Hackers, “Your Brand is your more precious asset”. And you don’t want it to end up on the wrong hands. Do you?

I think it is time that a Hotel revenue and marketing manager take charge of this issue. Trust me your web production goes up more than 10% if you control this well …. So nothing should be stopping you …

P.S. for more tips, check out our marketing plan for hotel industry

Xotels is a leader among hotel management companies. We help independent hotels outperform their competition with our hotel revenue management services and HotelScienz revenue management system.

Posted in Hotel Management