An unapologetic look at Hospitality

Entries tagged as ‘OTA’

Mac users sleep better!

July 26, 2012 · Leave a Comment

Just about a month ago now, the Wall Street Journal published an article about Orbitz presenting more expensive hotels to Apple Mac users. They found out that people using Apple products spend 30% more on hotel rooms than Windows and/or Android users and are 40% more likely to book 4 and 5 star hotels.

I fail to see how this is news… We all know that Apple users pay more for a computer than Windows users and it seems they do for hotel rooms as well. How dare Orbitz target customers? The horror! For serious now, that whole storm in a tea cup got me to thinking…

Several times in my hospitality career I have been asked if it is possible to track “page positioning”. That is, if a consumer looks for a hotel in my city, on which page do I show up and on that page in which slot do I sit? Sure that’s possible! Matter of fact, I’ve already built it. But there is one question, the longer I look at it, that looms darker and darker… Why would you want to measure that?

The WSJ article makes something painfully clear. There isn’t a damn thing you can do about it anyway!

The first few slots, high up on the page, are reserved for hotels paying for placement. After that, it’s anyone’s guess where your property is going to display. Most of the things that affect placement can only be influenced by the consumer, not the hotel. That means that worrying about it is roughly as effective as painting your house with a mascara brush. Here are some of the things that are being used by sites to influence search results.

Location. It turns out that people living in New York typically book a different type of hotel than people from other places.

Referrals. If you end up on a site because you were referred by Kayak.com you are most likely to be price conscious. Likewise, if you come from Tripadvisor.com you are more likely to care about quality and less about price.

Repeat traffic. If you keep looking (even if you are just window shopping and not booking) at Holiday Inn, more than likely you will start finding more and more of those on consecutive search results.

Dollars off. Throw a nice little discount in the mix and all of this stuff is out the door yet again.

Most web sites also offer a handy little sort tool to their users. Regardless of how the site decided to display my search results, I can obliterate any of these efforts with a simple click. After all that research into which of my competitors are listed above and which below me, what have I really learned?

 

 

Categories: Hospitality · Search
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Google Hotel Finder (experiment)

August 10, 2011 · Leave a Comment

GoogleGoogle Hotel Finder quietly launched an experimental web site named Hotel Finder. Well not too quietly as I’ve seen more than a few mentions of it online. Just like all of Google’s offerings it has sparse design, offers a few unique tricks and is (for the most part) lightening fast. So if it walks like Google, quacks like Google and smells like Google, then it must be a duck, right? Creating Hotel Finder may have been duck soup for Google (so why didn’t they do it sooner), I think Hotel Finder is pretty much a dead duck (I promise no more duck jokes for the rest of this article).

Google’s new Hotel Finder is “the Google way” to quickly find hotel deals. Like you would expect from Google, it simply works. It being Google, I had expected more. Shamefully there isn’t. Just like with their other new offering Google+, they had plenty of products to copy from and Hotel Finder even more so, looks like a “me too” product.

The lackluster name of the product aside, Google gives us four ways to “find the perfect hotel” (see image on the left). It wouldn’t be Google if they hadn’t improved on the way you can search for a hotel and I must admit this rocks! After you type in the city you want to stay in and your dates you are presented with a map that shows a polygon representing where the search effort was centered. The beauty of it is that you can adjust the shape of the polygon and even add more. This makes searches like “I could stay in uptown or in east but want to avoid downtown” a snap. This would normally take multiple searches, but not with Google because I can lay multiple shapes on the map. Well done! (more…)

Categories: Hospitality · Search
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Parity, is it the answer?

July 1, 2011 · 1 Comment

This site should be called the rate parity blog with how much I am writing about this! But there is just so much discussion sparked by the simple word “parity” (the practice of keeping your product price the same everywhere a potential customer looks) , it seems to be on everyone’s mind. If you read my earlier musings on rate parity in the hotel industry, you will undoubtedly know I don’t understand parity at all. That is… I get it, but I don’t get it. If you know what I mean.

Mattress Sale!Surely keeping your room rate the same everywhere you publish is better than the alternative of dumping your distressed inventory on one or more aggregation sites , watch sales skyrocket but paying large commissions on already deeply discounted rooms, while alienating your customer from your own web site that expects them to book the same room at a much higher rate… (more…)

Categories: Hospitality
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Blame yourself, not the customer!

June 26, 2011 · Leave a Comment

Ever booked a hotel at a great rate only to find an ever lower price the next day? Happens all the time right?

But if the sign outside your front door says 59 dollars, maybe it’s not such a good idea to list your room on mytotallycheaphotelrooms.com.au (yes I made that one up) for 79. That’s what happened to an obviously annoyed tripadvisor reviewer.

…and if we had not paid in advance, we would have moved on. Rate we paid was around $79 and when we arrived there was a sign outside advertising rooms “from $59”. I feel we vastly overpaid for what we got.

Oops! But what is really surprising is the response from the management of the property.

If you paid a 3rd party agency in advance, we are unable to accommodate that kind of issue. Booking direct with ANY hotel is always the best method of booking.

Come again? No, it’s highly unlikely that this guest will come again. I have no idea what happened here, but not refunding because the room was booked through a third party agent, really? Of course I have no idea which third party agent the customer booked through, but it seems to me that the hotelier padded the room rate with the commission he is paying out to the OTA.  Of course booking direct is sage advice, but not as an excuse for your unwillingness to accommodate a customer.

NO REFUNDSYou are the master of your domain! You set those rates on the various channels, or at the very least should be aware of how you allow third parties to adjust them. To the consumer it makes no difference. We all make mistakes, but this could have easily be turned into a positive.

While we do indeed offer rooms at a lower price, one of those rooms would not have accommodated your party as they contain only single beds without room for a roll-away.

It’s sad to see that in an industry dedicated to people’s comfort this kind of stuff is going on. Worse yet, that we hide behind 3rd party agencies to cover our own shortcomings and even feel the need to do so on a review web site with millions of visitors. But… this is the beauty of social media. The customer has a voice. It’s now our job to learn to deal with that voice. Of course anyone that puts a sign in the lobby saying “Absolutely NO refunds without Manager’s approval” may have a hard time with that learning process!

What are your horror stories about dealing with unhappy customers? Leave a comment and let me know.

Categories: Hospitality · Social
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