Food for thought: Booking's Pepijn Rijvers says "more direct" and more
By Martin Soler, Partner at Soler & Associates
As the holidays are coming up, maybe it's a good time to think about bigger pictures. Learn from other industries and shifts to get inspired how we can do better. Think about the opportunities with technology and how to continue to Wow guests beyond the smile and standing up when they arrive. This edition hopefully has some thought starters.
Food for thought.
The Slow but Constant Shift in Retail?
One of the largest shifts in commerce is retail. In travel the shift happened quite fast, we've pretty much shifted to a mainly online distribution. But retail going slower is managing to work at that change. Alibaba's New Retail, combining online with brick and mortar is pioneering it. In China tests are being done to use hotels as part of the New Retail combining one's room with online shopping. And there's so much more to be done and watching the relationships between online, offline, the old and the new distributors is interesting. And hopefully inspiring new ideas.
Booking says "do more direct"!
This 25+ minute video from Skift with Booking's CMO, Pepijn Rijvers is worth at least 24 1/2 of those minutes. Booking says use OTAs for customer acquisition and then convert return guests to direct. It's rare that we hear OTAs pushing direct and refreshing when they do. The statement is cool, even though return guests to individual hotels is only about 9-12% of the customer base it is still a good evolution. Booking feels about Google, the way hotels feel about OTAs - dependent. There's more and as Skift says, when Pepijn speaks, hotels listen. What is particularly good about the video is how much Pepijn is willing to say and pretty candid too.
More Connected Hotel Tech
Open APIs, connected hotel technology, PMS integrations, phrases that are usually uttered with disdain, might soon be a thing of the past. Siteminder joining the ranks of hotel technology connectors/hubs/marketplaces is great news for the industry. The more modern PMS companies have understood that they need to open up. The incumbents are beginning to get there, Oracle Hospitality's new CEO promises change which is refreshing. With innovations such as Alibaba's New Retail push coming, hotels are going to be left out if key players don't open up fast. Long ago, I believe some people predicted that the future of the internet isn't the web but connections (aka. APIs) if that's the case then we're still discovering the web.
What is a Data Platform (and why should you care)?
Hotels have always had a lot of data. Data on so many things it is hard to keep track of. But since hotels aren't technology companies, marketplaces or stock brokers the data usually sits in "vaults" until it dies of old age. And it's understandable, hoteliers have much bigger problems than data analysis, after all the main reason for hotels is serving guests and that's done in the lobby, in the rooms and talking to guests, not staring at screens. Yet so many little friction points can be avoided making the experience exponentially better if data gathering, analysis and use was easier. So that's why you should find out what a data platform is and how it works. If you don't the competing hotel will and you wouldn't want that.
Why does Expedia, Booking and Amazon's design work?
Some things are mysteries to anybody that has worked in the graphic arts. One of those is how does the design of internet giants above work. The pages are essentially information overload, unfriendly, message heavy and, one would think, a user experience nightmare. Yet they're the best pages in terms of results. It turns out that too clean an experience can give the impression that something is being hidden. It's just too easy. Is that because we've been educated the there should be friction or just the way people think? I'd recommend this short article for anyone who is in the business of selling online. If it works for them, then there's something to learn for hotels.