This time last week the West hall of Olympia London was bustling with busy hoteliers. Why? They were at the Independent Hotel Show on the lookout for new suppliers of everything from luscious furnishings, elaborate decor, and slick bathroom fittings to marketing solutions and technology providers.
The Independent Hotel Show is, as the name suggests, a targeted event for a specific type of hotel. The variety of exhibitors at the show proves the value of this type of event for hoteliers, who can access suppliers to serve multiple areas of their business and operations. We were there with a dedicated team to educate hoteliers about metasearch marketing and explain the benefits of trivago Hotel Manager. Here are our highlights from the two days.
Valuable networking opportunities
The show was highly attended by industry experts and representative organisations, several of which were exhibiting, making it a great opportunity for hoteliers to get the latest news on current topics.
Trade bodies, membership bodies, destination marketing organisations, and accreditation organisations are a wealth of information about industry standards, trends, best practices, and regulations. Fortunately, they frequently lead or participate in panels and seminars, so hoteliers can tune in to their insights to stay ahead of the game. We also recommend doing a bit of homework before attending such a show, to see who you can connect with directly, as nothing beats meeting face-to-face.
— trivago HotelManager (@trivagoHM_uk) October 18, 2016
I had the personal privilege of discussing the online distribution space and general challenges facing hotels with representatives from the British Hospitality Association, Visit England, the ASAP, AA Hospitality, and the Institute of Hospitality, to name a few. Keep your eye on the blog for our upcoming interview with Peter Ducker, Chief Executive of the Institute of Hospitality, in which we discuss how hotels can foster a genuine human connection as part of their guest experience.
Great insights from the seminar programme: OTAs the best of frenemies
This panel, joined by CEO of Fornova Dori Stein, Managing Director of Red Carnation Hotels Jonathan Raggett, owner of The Georgian House Hotel Serena von der Heyde, and owner of Augil Castle Simon Bennett FRSA, broached a subject that is a hot topic in 2016.
It’s a conversation in which, at this point, everyone has reached more or less the same conclusion, irrespective of which “side” they’re on: hotels need to work with OTAs because they offer exposure and booking volumes that most hotels simply could not achieve by directing their finances into basic marketing. Nevertheless, I was enlightened by some new perspectives.
On the topic of rate parity, Jonathan Raggett and Serena von der Hyde took different stances on what was in the best interests of hoteliers. Jonathan suggested that parity is paramount, and that it is inexcusable for a hotel to have lower prices available with an OTA than on their own website, or vice versa.
Serena, however, observed that parity may not be the best strategy since some OTAs are able undercut hoteliers with their loyalty systems. Her suggestion was to introduce disparity in rate features, such as only including breakfast or other add-ons in packages through your direct channels to make booking direct more attractive to guests.
On the topic of reclaiming direct bookings, Dori Stein proposed that a share of your bookings from OTAs could be direct if hotels got the “basic marketing in shape.” He listed metasearch, search engine marketing (specifically Google), and basic re-targeting of customers as the channels hoteliers should invest in with their marketing budgets.
Design is the way hotels can set themselves apart
The final standout at the Independent Hotel Show was the variety and quality of suppliers exhibiting, proving that fine design in hotels will continue to grow and set a new benchmark for guest comfort and experience.
As someone partial to “pretty things,” in the limited opportunities I had to leave our stand and absorb all that was on offer I found myself feeling like a child in a sweet shop. Exotic textiles, sumptuous furniture, luxurious bedding, exquisite tableware, and fittings of the finest forms were at every corner.
One could be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed, and to that effect I was delighted to connect with Yasmin Chopin, a prominent interior designer and blogger from Cambridgeshire. Yasmin provides consultancy and design services to boutique hotels and private residences in central and eastern England and will share her thoughts on hotel design on our blog. Look out for it!
Did you make it to the Independent Hotel Show? Tell us what you thought of it in the comments below. If you missed us at the show, you can catch us at WTM from 7-9 November which also promises to be a standout event. Register to visit us here.