Corporate travel & Sharing economy

As traditional hotel chains continue to reap the profits of unwieldy business travel expenses, a new trend is emerging among many business travellers: participation in the sharing economy.
The sharing economy’s popularity within corporate travel can be attributed to the same factor that has launched its entrenchment in the world as a whole: convenience. Instead of queuing in a long line at the rental car vendor after an even longer flight, business travellers can open their phone and call a car directly to their hotel in minutes via rideshare apps such as Uber or Ola.
Corporate travel policies often limited business travellers to just a few hotel options, and sometimes these options are further away from the places where travellers have their business obligations all in the name of a company partnering with a certain hotel chain. With home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb, business travellers are able to pinpoint the most convenient lodging locations for their business obligations and find a home-sharing option that is free of being tied down by any hotel chain loyalty.

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F&B affects RevPAR?

One of the thorniest dilemmas in hotel operations is how many F&B Outlets are required and then how to run and manage them, since Food and beverage could either be a boost to a hotel’s credibility or a potential cash drain.

Restaurants must add to the overall value of the hotel, and thus average daily rate, even if they are not a runaway success as stand-alone offerings. Today, restaurants are changing their concepts and becoming as popular with locals as they are with guests, and that never used to be the case. The most important focus for hotel F&B is to make any restaurant or bar a destination in its own right and to give employees the level of expertise they need to succeed.

It’s difficult to be specific on what (a restaurant) brings to (revenue per available room), but it is about brand value and allure. On some days, you may only have a few residents eating in the restaurant, but if the restaurant adds to the hotel’s allure and RevPAR, it may yet be worth it. After all, it may be a qualitative process, not a quantitative one. What is critical is to have differentiation, and that does not only mean going upscale. Have experiences to sell. You could put street food into a hotel if it seems right, and even if it does not make profit, it will add to the hotel’s brand value.

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A Dynamic Approach in Travel Marketing

As digital continues to mature, there is a shift occurring among marketers: travel marketing and digital travel distribution strategies are converging, and it’s having a major impact on the industry. To be successful in this era of convergence, travel providers must think more strategically, not just about inventory, but about how they’re selling entire experiences. With convergence, new revenue streams are up for grabs and these extend well beyond the traditional traveling ecosystem.

Blurred lines

Travellers all have needs, but those needs vary dramatically depending on the moment. Travellers are increasingly agnostic about who meets their needs, and that business is there for the taking
One week, a traveller may be flying for business, and the next that very same traveller may be on a summer vacation with family. They’re not one or the other—they’re both, just at different times. As these lines blur, habits are shifting, and travellers are finding unconventional ways to meet their in-the-moment needs.
Unlike in the past when people were using phone calls, travel magazines, and traditional travel agents to research, today’s complicated consumer is bouncing between numerous touch points in a digital ecosystem. They’re sending out travel intent signals and leaving a trail of data behind them. For marketers, this presents a golden opportunity, but only if they take a holistic approach.
It’s no longer about aggregates or averages, every traveller is unique and marketers must be flexible enough to look at each traveller’s ever changing needs and act quickly to meet them.

Smarter, faster, nimbler

If travel brands want to act quickly, they must improve their understanding of what customers want and need at any given moment. And to get there they must be “always on” across every channel. It’s one thing to personalize marketing to a leisure guest by using broad stroke segmentation, but when brands get on a one-to-one level with the individual customer, they can understand their constantly changing needs.
To get there, they must understand each customer on a trip by trip basis—and combine the person with the occasion to serve up relevant offers.
Since modern travellers are always on, brands must be, too, because always on means valuable data.

Paving the path with data

The first step is using data to establish intent. Consumers may be dreaming or researching – or they could buy at any point. By looking at each trip as a mini campaign, marketers can focus on that whole journey and the points along the way, and then engage them in the moment. Once intent is established, marketers must take what they’ve learned about each customer and put the right messages in front of the right people at the right time.
It’s a combination of taking one-to-one marketing, making sure it’s “always on,” then testing, measuring, learning and adjusting.

This dynamic approach is a shift from traditional methods that are often seasonal in nature.

It’s a race to see which travel brands can do it best, and those that do will win the ultimate prize: customer acquisition and loyalty.

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Boost your hotel revenue

Apart from selling rooms, hotels wish to maximize their revenue. But with many markets becoming more competitive, boosting revenue is easier said than done. Increasing room rates to broaden margins might be great during high season, but during the low season, high rates drive customers away. Instead of simply adjusting room rates up and down, there are many other ways for hotels to generate more revenue and create a better guest experience at the same time.

Quick ways to drive more revenue in only a week: Upselling, Using your local network and Involving employees

Ways to drive more revenue over a quarter: Improve guest satisfaction and online reviews, Leverage low-demand days and Host unique events and activities

Ways to generate more revenue in the next twelve months: Get familiar with Google Hotels, Harness the power of hospitality tech, Analyse your distribution and optimize it.

To come up with the coolest ideas on how to implement some (or all) of these ideas, get your team together for some brainstorming. You’d be surprised by the original concepts they’ll come up with and how much more ownership your team will take if they feel like they’re playing an active part in creating and implementing new revenue-generating strategies.

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Loyalty Programmes

Loyalty programme guests are also more likely to perceive the company’s products and services as providing good value and so they are less sensitive to the company’s price premium. They are further likely to act as brand ambassadors by recommending the company through word of mouth, either through personal recommendations or via online review sites. Such recommendations, the researchers comment, are highly valued by hotel companies as they are known to be highly effective.

Nevertheless, loyalty programmes also bring challenges. They are, for instance, expensive to set up and maintain, and the profits they generate are hard to separate from those of other marketing efforts. It is also challenging for marketers to create and manage profitable loyalty programmes because there are high costs associated with adding value to customers’ experiences, especially given their widely differing needs and interests. Overinvestment is thus an ongoing concern.

Loyalty programmes also open up the possibility of “service encounter failures”, which can sour the relationship between a hotel company and its customers and thus damage its reputation. Another potentially negative effect is that “bystander customers” sometimes perceive “unfairness in comparison to target customers”, which could put them off the brand.

It is found that hotels’ spending on loyalty programmes was associated with better performance, as measured by the average daily room rate, revenue per room and occupancy rate. Spending on loyalty programmes also pays off in terms of hotels’ overall gross operating profit. This is particularly interesting because it implies that loyal customers do not just increase room occupancy, but their spending on “food and beverage at the hotel, spas or other amenities” also contributes to better overall financial performance.

Even when factors such as the amount spent on e-commerce, advertising, marketing strategies and the size of the hotel and scale of the hotel chain are taken into account, spending on loyalty programmes still has the most positive effect on hotels’ operational and financial performance. In other words, loyalty programmes bring in the greatest returns compared with investments in other forms of advertising and marketing, regardless of the type of hotel.

Hence Managers are justified in placing more emphasis on loyalty programmes because they bring the greatest returns.

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The Gig Economy

The gig economy is booming, and that’s good news for hotels. The gig economy is defined as a labour market characterized by the prevalence of short-term contracts or freelance work as opposed to permanent jobs. In a gig economy, temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace and companies tend toward hiring independent contractors and freelancers instead of full-time employees. A gig economy undermines the traditional economy of full-time workers who rarely change positions and instead focus on a lifetime career.

In less than a decade, the contractor workforce is expected to become the workforce majority. While the contractor workforce may not be a fit for all business models, hoteliers are undoubtedly benefiting. Timely solutions for staffing needs, seamless integration and measurable results are what hoteliers need and want.

Today’s contractor workforce represents diverse professional backgrounds and experiences allowing for that seamless integration that every hotel leader is seeking. Unfilled positions result in lost revenue. Hotels have goals, and ownership expects those goals to be met – no excuses.

Most contractors have 10+ years’ experience in the hospitality industry, and more than 64% users agree that contractors offer varied experience and unique perspective required for taskforce.

From the perspective of the freelancers/contractors, Lifestyle is key. Both freelancers/contractors and full-time professionals prioritize achieving the lifestyle that they want; however, freelancers/contractors are more likely to get it. More than half of all freelancers/contractors say no amount of money would convince them to take a traditional job.

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Google: #1 Hotel Review Site

Online reputation management has traditionally concentrated on TripAdvisor reviews. Hotels and restaurants in particular know how important online reviews have become ever since sites such as TripAdvisor came into the spotlight almost two decades ago.
Google with its “of course, we can do it better” mantra has beefed up its own review platform, which is fully integrated into its existing search and maps empire. They always play to win. All of Google’s recent upgrades have served to make them a better information center for the end user. TripAdvisor with its hyper-narrow focus might be the biggest review website in the world today, but it is getting pushed to the sidelines by a bigger and smarter competitor.

Review Distribution by Site – Source: Revinate

As expected, Google indeed did overtake in the #1 position, as both sites are now dominating the field, with TripAdvisor coming in as distant third. While 74% of reviews were posted on four sites in 2017, a greater percentage is now concentrated in only the top 3 – Google, Booking and TripAdvisor.

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Human vs. Machine

Research by CWT, the B2B4E travel management platform, shows that travelers prefer to manage transactions digitally, via an app or browser. Seventy-eight percent of business travelers prefer to book their hotels digitally rather than have human interactions. However, travelers are more receptive speaking to a person face-to-face when checking into their hotel (46%) and checking out (51%). Overall, Asia Pacific travelers are more likely to choose technology over personal contact with 84% preferring to book hotels digitally, versus 77% of those from the Americas, and 70% of Europeans.

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Gen Z has arrived

Move over Millennials… the post millennials are here!

A recent article published by Bloomberg says this is the year that Generation Z becomes the biggest consumer cohort globally, displacing millennials as a top obsession for investors trying to figure out how to cash in on their unique shopping, eating and media habits. While the older lot have entered the workforce recently, the majority are still studying; but boy, do they have the spending power!

Investors have always been interested in young consumers and how their habits might open up new opportunities, but much of the long-held thinking on college kids and tweens—invest in beer stocks or TV networks or junk food—don’t hold up today. Gen Z, roughly between the ages of seven and 22, were born after the internet went mainstream and occupy a world where anything and everything can be delivered to their front door with a swipe of a finger and they grew up on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where the influencer culture has taken hold.

For investors looking to factor Gen Z into their portfolios, here are some broad trends they may want to consider

1. They Can Be Influenced 

That means influencers—celebrities or everyday people with big social media followings who are paid to promote products—can have an outsized impact with this cohort where nearly six out of 10 self-diagnose spending too much time on their phones.

2. They Have Different Vices

Younger consumers are wary of nasty hangovers and eager to wake up on the weekends feeling fresh so they can get outdoors and capture selfies. In the US and Canada for example, Marijuana is perceived healthier than alcohol. As more states legalize and stressed out, tired Americans look to cannabis compounds to alleviate insomnia and anxiety, or just unwind after a hard week of work.

3. They Don’t Have to Go to Stores

It’s worth noting that the oldest members of Gen Z are barely out of college by most measures, not exactly peak grocery-buying age. Still, they’ve grown up in a world where digital shopping is ubiquitous. Gen Z could be the first generation to truly embrace online grocery shopping.

4. They Choose Their Brand Loyalties Carefully

The rise of Gen Z could be bad news for traditional clothing retailers. Apparel brands looking to connect with younger shoppers have tried embracing edgier brand ambassadors, a departure from the days when consumer companies went to great pains to avoid politics. That’s because Gen Z actually wants corporations to take a stand on issues, with 40 percent saying they’d pay more for a product if they knew the company was promoting gender equality issues and 42 percent for racial justice initiatives.

5. They Eat (Somewhat) Differently

Gen Z consumers are more likely to skip meat than the older U.S. cohorts, the latest dining disruption with big implications for fast-food restaurants and packaged-food giants.

As Gen Z eventually enters their prime earning years, some of these trends could start to become more concrete and visible.

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Mobile Etiquettes at work

Mobile phones are ubiquitous and research shows that although most users think they have good mobile manners, many people report being irritated or annoyed by the handling of these mobiles. Good mobile phone etiquette is similar to common courtesy. Conversations and text exchanges have a tendency to distract people from what’s happening in front of them. Mobile users should be thoughtful, courteous and respect the people around them. Clearly there’s a lack of understanding of what is and isn’t acceptable in terms of mobile etiquette.

I’ve put together a pop quiz each one of us may want to answer and rate ourselves on our mobile etiquettes at our workplace:

  1. When engaged face-to-face with others, either in a meeting or a conversation, do you avoid giving them your complete and undivided attention by texting or taking calls?
  2. No one wants to be a captive audience to a third-party phone conversation or to sit in silence while their colleague texts with someone. Are you in the habit of leaving your ringtone on and placing your phone in front of you on the table?
  3. When you must use your phone in public, do you take the call where you are instead of respecting your colleague’s personal space and moving to at least three metres between you and others?
  4. Nothing is more irritating than to be cut off while calling someone. It is akin to being snubbed in a conversation. Rather than putting the phone on silent immediately (in case you have not done it earlier) and allowing the phone to continue ringing silently, do you disconnect a caller ringing you when you are busy?
  5. In case you send a standard auto reply message while receiving a call which you do not want to pick up, do you often forget to call back as promised?
  6. While in a meeting, are you in the habit of picking up a call and then informing the caller that you are in a meeting?
  7. Do you answer calls at work on your speaker phone?
  8. Do you keep your phone on vibrator mode during meetings and yet keep the phone on the table, so that the sound is as disturbing as a ring tone?
  9. Do you make calls from the bathroom, ignoring the fact that it is an extreme put-off?
  10. Do you use your phone as a watch? If so, then are you tempted to check your messages whilst checking the time?

A “Yes” answer to any of the above, as you may have guessed, is a no-no!

To how many of the above have you answered “NO” to? The ideal score is 100%… how much have you scored?

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Voice Commands – The New Disruptor

Some studies have anticipated that voice will account for 50% of searches in under two years. What seems unquestionable is that users will be searching the net very differently before too long. Using voice commands to search for and book hotels is going to be disruptive in the hotel industry.

We have come to yet another turning point where hotels are forced to “adapt or die” in the fight to defend and boost direct bookings. Voice search poses a new threat for those who are lagging behind, but it also represents an opportunity for the more active businesses that are ready to act fast.

The new priority now involves connecting your direct channel to the end user right from their first point of contact with the Internet, which increasingly means the voice assistants available on phones (like the Google Assistant or Siri) and home devices like Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa. This unstoppable shift in user behaviour is likely to shake up the traditional online distribution model, starting with OTAs who will have to reinvent themselves, and also direct channels that need to find their new place.

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Travellers have many more options…

Recent research conducted by has revealed that Travellers today have more options than ever when it comes to booking their next getaway. Some of the most talked about and on the rise accommodation types around the world are:

Luxury Tent: Driven by the desire to make camping a more enjoyable experience for everyone, recent years have seen a significant increase in interest for glamorous camping – or glamping – with almost a third of global travellers stating that they prefer unique and quirky accommodations while on holidays, such as luxury tents.

Riad: Stemming from the Arabian term for garden, a riad is a type of traditional Moroccan house or palace built around an interior courtyard. These palatial stays offer beauty in their architectural and floral design.

Holiday Homes: While travelling is often about branching out and seeing new places, some of us still look for the comforts of home. For many travellers a holiday home offers the best of both worlds and the opportunity truly embrace their chosen destination.

Capsule Hotels: From one small stay to another, capsule hotels offer perfectly formed accommodation options for budget-conscious travellers. These extremely small “rooms” are often found in more casual accommodation offerings and are stacked high, side-by-side with steps for access and is also one of the fastest growing categories of accommodation.

Chalet: As picture perfect as a souvenir postcard, a chalet offers an alternative alpine accommodation. The wooden houses with overhanging eaves often form part of skiing resorts. In fact, cabins and chalets are the desired accommodation for almost a sixth of global travellers and are also amongst the fastest rising in relative popularity

Apartments: These self-contained units often provide the perfect balance of escape and home comforts for city living.

Tiny Houses: The tiny house movement sees people embracing a smaller and simpler existence. A property that’s less than 500 feet would technically constitute a tiny house and these small dwellings are popping up for travellers across the globe to provide a peek into the trendy and eco-conscious way of living that’s simple, uncomplicated and cosy.

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3 Bad Habits Sabotaging Your Productivity

Peter Drucker was  consulting for a CEO of a major bank in US. For every meeting the CEO used to assign Peter a time slot of 90 minutes. A highly effective person, the CEO was delivering  consistent results for his bank year-on-year. During the one-and-half hour meeting the CEO refrained from taking any telephone calls and asked his secretary to handle the same which enabled him to pay undivided attention to Peter Drucker. When asked for the reason behind his time management strategy, the CEO replied, “Mr. Drucker, nothing significant happens if I do not devote a minimum of 90 minutes for an important task. However beyond 90 minutes, the grasping power of the mind reduces. Only two people are allowed to call me when I am in a meeting; the first is the President of USA and the second is my wife. The former will not call me and the latter dare not call me. I return all my calls once  the meeting is over.”

Discipline is the most important aspect for executives to attain optimum productivity.

Here are three productivity-killing habits you should avoid:

Impulsive Web Browsing: Since most of us have access to the Internet at work, it’s easy to get side-tracked looking up the answer to a random question that just popped into your head. That’s why Quora user Suresh Rathinam recommends writing down these thoughts or questions on a notepad. This way, you can look up the information you want later, when you’re not trying to get work done.

Suresh, a sales executive was making an important offer for his client. While on google search he gets digressed into social media and loses focus. There are two types of tasks a. What is right for me & b. What is right in-front of me. Quite often the latter takes over the former. Please refer the figure. When you are on facebook, twitter or a joke on Whatsapp (right in front of me) the activity  is going to take away your time in making that important offer or handling an angry customer (right for me). The more there is overlap in these two areas (the common green portion called as focus area) the better it will be for you in working effectively.

Putting off important tasks till later in the day: People often start off their day by completing easy tasks to get themselves rolling and leave their difficult work for later. This is a bad idea and one that frequently leads to the important work not getting done at all. Let us go back to the case of Suresh who has to make a project report which needs a lot of technical understanding and calculations Such a task consumes a lot of intellectual and mental energy. If he does this in the morning when his energy levels are high, he will be able to do justice to his task. However he starts doing the mundane and routine things in the morning (like seeing all the cc/Bcc emails) due to which there is a mismatch between his energy levels and task complexity (refer figure below).

Checking emails throughout the day: Constant Internet access leads people to check email throughout the day. Sadly, each time one does this, you lose several minutes of work time. What’s more, the constant checking of email makes you dumber! Instead, strategy consultant Ron Friedman suggests quitting Outlook, closing email tabs and turning off your phone for 30-minute chunks of ‘deep-dive work’.

In his book, ‘The Four Hour Work Week’, Timothy Ferriss suggests to his readers that he looks at the mail only at 11 AM and then clears them all in a batch. We shall talk a great deal about that in my next update.

Rajan Parulekar – Director, Hospitality Paradigm

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The importance of Hotel P.R.

In a market as competitive as the hospitality industry, an effective PR strategy is essential and it must be creative, agile and adaptable. For smaller hotels without the benefit of a corporate engine, PR tactics are vital both in terms of positioning and creating valuable partnerships to help the hotel expand and grow.
PR as an art is about telling a story or creating a memory, and if word of mouth was always a valuable currency, social media platforms have made it more so, with customers sharing and interacting with one another and directly with the hotel as individual brands and hotel groups. The degree to which customers trust influences decisions has never been higher and is clearly rising. So whilst every brand behaviour is on public display, customer interaction and building trust is more important than ever.
To an extent, a brand’s story is now out of its control – the internet put paid to that – so we must recognize the customer as an author and fabulist exploring the possibilities of what they can give towards your overall PR effort, rather than take away from it and build outwards on that.
Hotels need to utilize as many platforms as possible and engage with as many of our customers as they can on a daily basis, developing conversations and points of view to enable a differentiated position in the market.
Hotels need to continually collaborate on ideas and innovations to keep their stories fresh and different, trying to stay a step ahead so they can be at the top end of any adoptive curve! You may not win the game by deploying PR, but you will definitely lose without it.

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Photography, social media and travel

According to a recent survey conducted by Schofields, more than 40 per cent of travellers under 33 prioritise ‘Instagrammability’ when choosing their next holiday spot. Across all markets, the travellers’ growing appetite for experiences that go deeper and farther beyond the established destinations are a unifying theme. The greater the lengths that travellers go to for the creation of these faux-spontaneous images, the more contrived and antithetical it feels to the spirit of travel.

Isn’t travel about staying, exploring and immersing yourself in the moment?

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