Basel & Hospitality
Congratulations: 2012 EMEA Hotel Technology Innovators
HTNG members can log-in to view the presentations from Ian Millar and each winner on our collaboration site.
About the Competition
Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG), in cooperation with Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), gathered nominations for the most innovative uses of technologies within hotels in the Europe/Middle East/Africa region. Nominated projects were reviewed by an independent judging committee who selected the winners. Winners were announced at the HTNG European Conference in Vienna on 6 December 2012. During the award ceremony session, led by EHL faculty member Ian Millar, winners were recognized and made short presentations about their winning projects.
- The hotel (or multiple hotels within a hotel group) have used one or more technologies in new or unique ways to deliver benefits to customers, staff, or the hotel owner.
- The technologies used was (were) already available in the market prior to the project, and was (were) implemented with little or no custom modification. We are not recognizing new technologies, rather great new applications of existing technology!
- The effort was initiated by a hotelier, not by a vendor.
- Significant value was driven for the guest (with direct revenue implications), for ancillary revenue, for employee satisfaction, or for operating costs.
- The concept would be broadly relevant to a significant number of other hotels; i.e. it is not something that would work only in very limited circumstances.
- The hotel must approve participation, and the nominator or someone from the hotel must be available to receive the award and make a brief presentation at the HTNG conference. Complimentary registration to the entire conference is provided.
The judging committee included two EHL faculty members, Ian Millar, Deputy Director, of INTEHL; Fred Delley, Head of innovation at EHL; as well as Douglas Rice, HTNG’s Chief Executive Officer.
By Asher Fusco, November 5th, 2012
As travelers increasingly take their transactions online, the direct online channel has grown into the most important avenue for hoteliers to utilize to achieve the highest ROIs. This push toward digital is continuing into 2013, as hoteliers plan to allocate a large portion of their budgets toward their website in 2013, according to a HeBS Digital Industry Pulse Poll performed last month.
According to the HeBS Digital Industry Pulse Poll results, hoteliers overwhelmingly chose the property website when asked which digital marketing initiatives they would most like to budget for in the coming year. Hoteliers also cast votes for initiatives such as SEM (paid search), SEO, Social Media, mobile marketing and others.
HeBS Digital Industry Pulse Poll Results, October 2012
What are the top 3 digital marketing initiatives you would like to budget for in 2013? % of Votes*
- Property Website + Website Design 91%
- SEM (paid search) 3%
- SEO 3%
- Social Media 3%
- Mobile Marketing 2%
- Other Initiatives** 5%
*Total vote percentage exceeds 100% — participants could select up to three answers
**Other Initiatives include Reputation Management, Email Marketing, Analytics & Campaign Tracking, Retargeting/Remarketing Advertising, Tablet Website Design, Online Video, Local Search/Linking, etc.)
More than 91% of those surveyed indicated they would like to budget for the property website in 2013.
Why Hoteliers Need to Re-Evaluate Their Property Website in 2013
The explosion of the mobile and social media channels and the emergence of the new tablet channel present major challenges to hotel marketers: Creating and managing digital content throughout three distinct distribution and marketing channels, as well as publishing the hotel’s latest special offers and promotions on the hotel’s social media profiles.
Today’s hotel website needs fresh content, rich media and current promotions. The hotel’s special offers, promotions and packages need to be marketed across all channels, from the desktop website to the mobile site and social media channels.
Many hoteliers are mistakenly led to believe that not investing in the property’s website re-design or optimization is actually saving money. Wrong! Not investing in your website is severely damaging to a hotel’s bottom line.
Your old and tired 1-2 year old property website cannot possibly meet the latest best practices and most likely has dropped off the map, i.e. experienced deteriorating search rankings.
Case Study: Need for Website Content & Digital Marketing Asset Management System
There is a growing need for centralized website content and digital marketing asset management technology as hotel marketers are challenged to create and manage content; store and distribute the hotel digital marketing assets; and circulate special offers and packages, events and happenings, all through several distinct channels:
- Own “desktop” website
- Mobile website
- Tablet website
- Social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+
- Hi-res photos to the OTAs and GDSs (optional)
Obviously, hoteliers need more than just a simple website content management system (CMS) capable of adding and editing textual and visual content. HeBS Digital’s proprietary CMS Premium offers all of the above capabilities and acts as a centralized web content and digital marketing asset management system and was specifically developed to accommodate the Google Panda and “Freshness” updates by allowing hotel marketers to maintain fresh content on the hotel website.
In addition to covering their property website costs, hoteliers said they intend on allocating resources toward a vast array of digital marketing services such as SEO, SEM, Mobile Marketing, Online Video, Tablet Website Design, Campaign Tracking and Email Marketing.
Partnering with an industry leader in hotel digital marketing and direct online channel strategy is the best way to build an optimal budget in 2013 and beyond. Learn more about achieving high ROI by reading The Smart Hotelier’s Guide to 2013 Digital Marketing Budget Planning.
Asher Fusco is Senior Copy + SEO Specialist at HeBS Digital
This entry was posted on Monday, November 5th, 2012 at 5:04 pm and is filed under HeBS Blog Survey. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
Hospitality Net – Article
Having literally trampled the competition both in Paris and in the surrounding regions, Booking.com profits from their dominant position by imposing new rules on the game. To the surprise of its “partners”, the site now reserves the right to automatically resell a room that one of its customers has canceled, so as not to lose commission. They block access to the customer’s bank information, so that the hotel cannot claim the forfeit for no-show. They eliminate the transmission of e-mail addresses of their customers, a ridiculous practice to avoid direct contact between the hotel and the customer. This does not characterize a relationship of trust between business partners.
By hiding their customers under a virtual burka, Booking unveil their true face, more of a predator than a partner. But beware, all these practices are also indicative of the fear that its model might be undermined by technological change or the sound response of customers and hoteliers. The most hastily built walls are not the strongest. Giants with feet of clay, Booking, and those who follow their ways, have everything to fear from the will of Google or Apple to tread on its land. The e-commerce T-Rex sharpens their teeth to feed on those who interfere. No one can really predict the outcome of the fight. An opaque veil will eventually tear for the client to question the added value of a service provider that offers, in the end, the same rate as the brand website. Hoteliers can say thank you to the Best Available Rate, as long as they retain control. There are fights that should not be undertaken: after having reconquered the right to set their prices, they must regain full control of their inventory, preventing an online agency from coming to dig in the PMS without being invited.
And no doubt, Booking, Expedia, Agoda, Trivago and others do not expect a response as powerful as from the hotel groups who realize that both marketing and distribution engines were essential to run the operations. By investing heavily in brands, sales tools, and communication, they restore meaning to the customer relationship. They implement neutral tools that allow them to restore the direct link without having to compromise with community sites. Distribution is one of the major challenges in the hospitality industry that lost profitability, having transferred a portion of its sales force to greedy partners. The recent actions of Booking should open their eyes and raise a welcoming insurrection among hoteliers. They missed the first steps of the Internet and had to run behind the pioneers to catch up. Now hoteliers must not miss the opportunities of mobile tools and smart partnerships with new actors. Coupled with the revaluation of brands, new distribution channel will enhance the interest of the franchise. And I bet in this field, the hoteliers have all the chances to win the fight.
About MKG Group | Established in 1985 by Georges Panayotis, MKG Group has built a solid reputation for business expertise and substantial European-based know-how in the fields of tourism, lodging and food service. MKG Group meets the needs of each of its clients by providing valuable analytical and decision-making skills necessary for success. www.mkg-group.com
Sep 25, 2012 at 9:36am ET by Greg Sterling
With its latest survey Google has affirmed that smartphone owners want sites to be optimized for their smaller screens and are inclined to abandon those that aren’t. There’s nothing especially revealing or controversial in these particular findings. What’s more interesting about the study Google is releasing this morning is the data about features and capabilities that people want from mobile sites, including some specific things by vertical.
Google used two independent research firms to survey more than 1,000 US adults, who also participated in focus group discussions and kept journals of their mobile activities. The interviews and survey took place in Q3 this year.
Bad Experiences Hurt the Brand
We know from considerable past research that mobile users don’t like to be frustrated by sites and user experiences that aren’t optimized for mobile. Google’s survey findings reinforce this:
- 72 percent of users said that mobile-friendly sites were important to them; however 96 percent had encountered sites that were not
- 74 percent of respondents said they’re more likely to revisit mobile-friendly sites
- A majority of users (67 percent) are more likely to buy or convert after a visit to a mobile-friendly site, while the opposite is also true of a non-mobile-friendly site: 61 percent say they’ll “move on”
- 55 percent said a frustrating experience on a (mobile) website would hurt the perception of the brand
What Users Want from Mobile Sites
Users expect mobile websites to load in under five seconds according to the survey findings. However even five seconds is a long time. The general proposition is: the faster the better.
The survey also found that smartphone owners want the ability to take action when on a mobile website. The preceding chart shows the hierarchy of actions that mobile users consider to be important. It’s interesting that 53 percent said “download an app.” There are several things implied by this answer, but it suggests high demand for apps overall.
The following graphic drills down on specific design and usability elements that people want from mobile sites.
Tasks Vary by Vertical
The survey explores several verticals and corresponding mobile user behaviors in Banking, Travel, Retail and Automotive. Below are the “most important tasks” users want to be able to perform or accomplish on mobile websites in each category according to the survey.
Banking & Finance:
- Check account balances: 77 percent
- Get directions or operating hours: 65 percent
- Log into an account: 61 percent
- Pay bills: 51 percent
- Transfer money: 51 percent
- Check flight status: 78 percent
- Get directions or operating hours: 74 percent
- Check in for a flight or confirm a reservation: 69 percent
- Find a business location: 65 percent
- Log in to an account: 64 percent
- Search for flight times, hotels, car rentals: 63 percent
- Find a phone number or email address: 57 percent
- Get directions or operating hours: 74 percent
- Contact the store: 64 percent
- Find product information: 61 percent
- Make a purchase or order a service: 50 percent
- Get directions or operating hours: 66 percent
- Contact a dealer: 62 percent
- Make a service appointment: 55 percent
There were also a number of activities that users were less inclined to perform on mobile devices in each of these categories. However, what this study makes clear is that mobile user sophistication is growing quickly and expectations of mobile sites are also rising. As the survey indicates, marketers and brands that fail to keep pace with those expectations will suffer accordingly.
The online review of the Best Western hotel in Eagle Rock started with a critical headline: “Very poor quality, will never stay here again.”
What is surprising is that the review was posted on a link found on the website of that very same hotel.
Best Western International, one of the world’s largest hotel chains, recently announced that it had redesigned its website, adding links to reviews submitted by its guests to TripAdvisor.com.
The move marks a trend in the hotel industry.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, whose brands include Sheraton, Westin and St. Regis, began last year to encourage guests to post reviews on the hotel websites.
In March, the Wyndham Hotel Group began to include TripAdvisor reviews on its reward program site, where visitors can book rooms in Wyndham hotels such as Ramada, Days Inn, Howard Johnson and Travelodge.
TripAdvisor officials say they use advanced algorithms and tips from website users to flag and delete bogus reviews.
Although hotels that post links to reviews on their own website run the risk of losing customers because of harsh reviews, there’s still an upside even if all comments aren’t rosy, said Neha Singh, an assistant professor at the Collins School of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona.
“One benefit is the transparency,” she said. “It allows guests in a transparent way to see what other guests enjoyed and did not enjoy at the hotel.”
Hotel review sites are so prevalent that Singh said hotels might as well post them and show that they have nothing to hide.
Beyond just posting reviews, Best Western officials say they are also responding to the posts with messages on TripAdvisor from management to show that the hotel is committed to making improvements.
“Most of the reviews we see out there are positive,” said Michael Morton, vice president of member services at Best Western. “If negative reviews come up, we respond. It’s another way for our hotels to show our priorities.”