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Emulate Federal-level assistance for budget hotels


The Malaysia Budget Hotel and Business Association (MyBHA) has urged state governments to follow in the footsteps of the federal government in providing assistance to the tourism and hospitality industry to help its players get back on their feet.

KUANTAN: The Malaysia Budget Hotel and Business Association (MyBHA) has urged state governments to follow in the footsteps of the federal government in providing assistance to the tourism and hospitality industry to help its players get back on their feet.

Its deputy president Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel said state governments along with government agencies should emulate efforts taken by the federal government to offer initiatives to help those in the already hard hit industry.

"Contributing and providing initiatives to the tourism and hospitality industry players will certainly have greater impact in efforts to revitalise the sector. We need support from all quarters and agencies.

"The government should realise the move to close the country's and state borders has contributed to zero domestic tourism and a significant drop in hotel guest numbers. We hope the government can consider lifting the interstate travel ban to help revive domestic tourism," he said in a statement today.

Sri Ganesh said while the MyBHA praised the special assistance under the the Strategic Programme to Empower the People and Economy (Pemerkasa) package, which was announced yesterday, they hoped more measures will be introduced.

"We are grateful towards the government's efforts to help hoteliers and tourism industry players who have been affected by the Movement Control Order and the Covid-19 pandemic.

"However, MyBHA realised the initiatives and aid announced by the government is still at a minimum level and could not offer much to help the industry, which is in a desperate situation to sustain the challenges.

"We request the government to introduce a special stimulus package solely for the industry (tourism and hospitality industry)," he said, adding while efforts were underway to bring the pandemic under control, the tourism sector would need a long time to recover.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, in a special televised address, announced special discounts of electricity bills of 10 per cent for another three months, until June 30 this year to help reduce operating costs for hotel operators, theme parks, convention centres, shopping malls, local airline offices as well as travel and tourism agencies.

He said the exemption of tourism tax and service tax will be extended for accommodations provided by hotel operators until Dec 31 this year.

MyBHA is the umbrella body for all budget hotels, categorised as three-star and below in the country. It has about 2,500 members consisting of hotel owners or their representatives.

 

Mar 19, 2021

Finding The Balance Between "OTAs" (Online Travel Agents) & Direct Bookings


The balance between OTAs and direct bookings is different by city and sometimes by hotel. The important thing is figuring out how to use the OTAs and make it a win-win for both direct and commissioned sales.

Focused on the hotel and tourism industry, we are constantly looking for ways to improve your sales and grow your business. We've found a great article that can do just this and we've taken some key points and laid them out below.

History of OTAs

76% of online bookings happen via OTAs

OTAs became powerful and efficient due to good work (and a little brand-jacking). Before, hotels sold to wholesalers, who sold to tour operators, who sold to travel agents and finally to guests. Transparency in this markup system was non-existent. Neither the hotel nor the guest knew how much was being paid. When OTAs entered this space, they gave control back to the hotels and guests received a clear picture of how much they were going to pay.

OTAs were able to become big and powerful because there was nothing else there. They filled a void, that could have been filled over by GDS, Tour Operators or Wholesalers. OTAs just happened to be faster.

Most hotels would love to have 100% of their bookings be direct without having to pay commission to anyone. We have achieved this with some clients but it’s not necessarily the best solution and certainly isn’t the fastest. 

We find the best balance comes from direct bookings being on par with OTA bookings. However, exact percentages can vary from city to city. For example, the best balance for a hotel in Paris is around 30% direct and 30% OTA. The remaining 40% come from corporate and phone bookings, return guests and some tour operators. Those figures are different in Rome where it’s closer to 40% direct and 40% OTA. 

These are not absolutes, but they are a good benchmark for a healthy split. 

20% of your direct bookings come from people who discovered your hotel on an OTA.

Per a recent Google survey, 52% of travelers will visit your hotel’s website after seeing you on an OTA. WIHP also conducted a three-year survey on the billboard effect. We found that over 20% of direct bookings occurred after the guest found the hotel on an OTA. Which shows us, being on an OTA can also increase your direct bookings.

Optimising for Direct Bookings

In most cases, the problem hotels have isn’t how to increase OTA bookings, but rather how to increase direct bookings.

The classic booking path for a guest starts with a search on an OTA. Then they make a shortlist of interesting hotels and check each hotel website for more information. The user gets frustrated if they don’t find the same room types, names, pictures and cancellation policies. This frustration causes the user to leave your site and head back to the OTA.

 

Users on OTA sites, will visit an average of 5.6 pages per visit and remain on the site for an average of 6 minutes. We hear of hotels being happy that the time on site increased and the page views doubled. This is not something to be happy about. Guests need their questions answered as fast a possible with as little friction as possible.

Optimising on OTA

  • There are a few things you can do to optimize your OTA presence. The first is to hire a professional photographer to take photos of your hotel and upload these high quality photos. We often see hotels using low quality images with wrinkled sheets, crooked pillows and burned-out lights. Invest in good photos and lots of them because emotion is what drives the sale.
  • Clearly explain the location of your hotel, the inspiration for your decor, and how you manage the price point of the hotel. Remember your USP is a combination of location, comfort and price, so be honest and helpful when talking about them.
  • And of course if you want to give it a boost, you can always bump up the commission or make a special offer, but those are measures of last resort.

Tips

  • Connecting it up - Connecting your PMS to your Channel Manager and supplying your rates and inventory to the OTAs and Booking engine with a two-way connection has been found by our consulting teams to increase availability by 30% on your hotel website, sounds incredible? Well consider that major OTAs like Booking have a cancellation rate of 30%, if you don’t get that inventory back into your PMS and channel manager, and in turn to your booking engine, it will be sold on OTAs.
  • Simplicity in Rooms - Keep room names simple that are easy to recognize like Single, Double, and Superior. The Orange, Eiffel, and Empire rooms have little meaning. They may sound fancy, but to busy travelers searching for a double room, it’s just too much to process.
  • Protect your Brand - The first thing to do is trademark the name of your hotel. But here is the trick, register and trademark it as the hotel name plus the city. Adding the city name is so important that we even recommend legally changing the name of your hotel. You can either hire an agency or do it yourself. Once it’s done file the registration with Google (trademark it without any logos etc, just the text) that will help you get started. The other way to protect your brand is to outbid OTAs on paid advertising channels.

Summary

The balance between OTAs and direct bookings is different by city and sometimes by hotel. The important thing is figuring out how to use the OTAs and make it a win-win for both direct and commissioned sales. We often see that we double or triple direct bookings for a hotel without reducing OTAs, because the OTA sales remain or increase. Is that a bad thing? Not really. It means that we have managed to increase the occupancy or the ADR and everyone wins when that’s the case.

Key Takeaways

  • 1. Use the OTAs to create a billboard effect - Over half of OTA customers will check your site for more info.
  • 2. Keep descriptions in parity with OTAs - Simplicity is part of the OTA success, duplicate it on your site.
  • 3. OTAs should drive 30% of your revenue - If OTAs are doing too much, find out where your site isn't optimized, don't complain about their success.
  • 4. Protect your brand to limit OTAs eating it all - Legal protection is the first thing to do, the rest is paid traffic.

Jan 26, 2021

The rise of smart hotels and how they boost business


Consultancy firm Linesight says new technologies can bring in more guests, improve operational efficiency and streamline the workforce

Hospitality firms and establishments stand to gain a lot from the implementation of the latest technologies. Making the shift towards becoming a ‘smart hotel’ will help properties recovery from the pandemic and make operations more efficient.

That is according to global consultancy firm Linesight, which has released a report on the benefits of becoming a smart hotel.

“One of the most fundamental drivers behind the trend for smarter hotels comes in the form of the rise of experience consumption, which is a key catalyst in a sector wherein consumer needs are front and centre,” said the report.

 

“86 percent of consumers say personalisation plays a role in their purchase decisions, according to a recent Kahuna survey, and brands that incorporate personalisation by integrating data and advanced technologies report revenue increases of 6-10 percent (Qubit).

Among all industries, personalisation can increase revenues by up to 15 percent, so focusing on the customisation of a guest’s stay isn’t just an objective that meets market demands—it also improves the bottom line.”

For hotels, technology presents an excellent way to offer personalisation. Linesight says luxuries such as autonomous control of room temperature, shower temperature, curtains, entertainment systems and even the checking-in process, have become a natural expectation of the modern traveller.

Smart hotel measures can also help operational efficiency, added the report.

“The second key driver lies in operational efficiency. Integrating smart technologies, from the simple occupancy detection systems to the more complex smartphones operating the lights and electricity within a room, keyless access and mobile check-in – these measures are proving to offer tangible benefits to the running costs of a hotel.

Not only has new technology changed the hotel experience for guests and improved operational efficiency for staff, but it has also transformed the planning of construction projects. Better tools and more data sources have contributed to the information that project managers can draw from to offer clients current and predictive data-driven knowledge.”

It is estimated spending in the overall experience economy will reach US$8 trillion in the next eight years, largely driven by innovations in automation and ease-of-use through technology.

Nov 25, 2020

Japan’s Henn na Hotel fires half its robot workforce


Japan’s Henn na Hotel, which first opened in 2015 with a staff of robots, has cut its robotic workforce after the experience failed to reduce costs or workload for its employees.

The hotel, which is located in Nagasaki, will reduce its 243-robotic workforce by more than half and return to more traditional human-provided services for guests, though it will maintain a number of robots in areas where it found them to be effective and efficient. Its change of direction can offer lessons for companies that are pursuing robotic solutions for customer-service roles, reports the Business Insider. 

The “firing” comes after complaints from both staff and customers. Apparently, a large percentage of the robots were more adept at creating work for their human counterparts than they were at reducing it. 

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The Henn na Hotel in Japan, translated as Strange Hotel, found that robots annoyed the guests and would often break down. Guests complained their robot room assistants thought snoring sounds were commands and would wake them up repeatedly during the night. Meanwhile, the robot at the front desk could not answer basic questions. Human staff ended up working overtime to repair robots that stopped working. One staff member said it is easier now that they are not being frequently called by guests to help with problems with the robots, reports the Mirror. 

At the hotel, at least until recently, each room came equipped with a robot assistant, dubbed Churi, which was one of the first nonhumans to get the pink slip after guests complained that could not answer even the most basic questions. The robot problem extended to the luggage-carrying bots, whose only job turned out to be more than they could handle.

Henn na Hotel first opened its doors in 2015 at Nagasaki’s Huis Ten Bosch theme park and a second property opened in Tokyo’s high-end Ginza shopping district last year. The hotel’s parent company, H.I.S., announced plans to construct eight more humanoid robot-staffed Henn na Hotels. According to the company, the plan was to build four robot-staffed hotels in the Tokyo area and four others in Osaka, Fukuoka and Kyoto.

According to H.I.S., the company created the hotel in part to respond to societal issues in Japan. Recent reports indicate that there may be a shortage of as many as 3,000 hotel rooms in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. It was thought that robot-staffed hotels may be part of the solution to this problem.

Nov 25, 2020

Trivago could pay millions for duping consumers


Hotel price aggregator Trivago is facing potentially a multi-million dollar fine after it was found that it breached Australian Consumer Law by misleading consumers with its ads.

The Federal Court in Melbourne passed down a 91-page judgement finding Trivago guilty of using a digital algorithm on its online hotel listings and favoured hotel partners that pay a higher commission to Trivago.

The Court also found out that the discounted prices displayed on the platform were actual room prices and the original prices were of upper-tiered room categories instead of like-for-like. Trivago’s “strike-through” price comparisons were misleading, as the strike-through price was often for a more expensive luxury room compared with a standard room.

According to consumer watchdog Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which brought Trivago to court, Trivago was giving consumers a false impression of savings and not “comparing apples with apples when it came to room type”. This activity was found to have been taking place from “at least December 2016” until at least 2 July 2018”.

On December 2018, TD reported that Trivago came clean of its misconduct and said, “By displaying the strike-through price next to the top position offer in the form it was displayed either on its own or in conjunction with the percentage savings box.” The company has since updated its website to tell customers that hotels are ranked by “compensation paid by the booking site.”

The decision sent a strong message to aggregators and metasearch websites should be upfront with customers whether the ranking is based on results or is influenced on advertising.

The hearing for penalties for Trivago will be set at a later date. The ACCC seeks ACCC has sought penalties for declarations, injunctions and costs.

Nov 25, 2020

Asia Hotel Deals Covid 19


Luxury hotels in Asia offering stellar deals for travelers amid coronavirus

(CNN) — As the world continues to ease lockdown measures, opportunities abound for the first wave of intrepid travelers who are willing -- and legally able -- to hit the road again. After months of closure, resorts and hotels alike are understandably very keen to get local and international business back in, meaning there are some stellar deals to be had for staycations or longer breaks. Whether you're planning to travel domestically or book credits to use when international borders reopen, here's a selection of some of the best deals on offer in Asia right now, all listed in USD. With unbeatable views over Hong Kong island and the city's famed Victoria Harbour, Rosewood Hong Kong quickly laid down a marker when it opened last spring. The ultra-luxurious property targets "affluential explorers" and their Urban Escape package, available to book and experience until the end of the year, offers guests significant savings. That translates to $130 of dining credit, $100 of spa credit, a one-way car transfer and a $65 shopping voucher for the adjacent K11 retail destination, even before a stay in one of their sleek 322 guestrooms designed by Tony Chi. As part of their "Commitment to Care Global Health and Safety Program," post-Covid initiatives include temperature checks for all guests, intensified hygiene and safety measures and new guestroom protocols. Rates start from $630 per room per night.

Sep 07, 2020

Covid-19 effect on hotelier


What happened when luxury hotels swapped tourists for medical workers?

(CNN) — To say the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the hotel industry is something of an understatement. Countless big names were forced to close due to safety concerns and plummeting occupancy rates, with many yet to resume business again. However, some chose to open their doors to doctors, nurses and other key workers fighting against the virus that's taken the lives of at least 500,000 people around the world so far. In the US, a selection of hotel chains and independent properties offered up at least 3.4 million hotel rooms to healthcare workers on the frontlines. In New York, America's hardest hit state, the Four Seasons New York was the the first to put up some of the city's medical personnel, welcoming staff from the New York State Nurses Association on April 2. At least 225 rooms in the 52-story Midtown Manhattan building were made available for a seven-night minimum stay, with the team implementing various protocols, including a single point of entry where each person's temperature is checked. Many other top hotels followed suit, including the New Yorker, A Wyndham Hotel, which housed a number of medical workers deployed to the city to fight against the virus. Shadoe Daniels, a physician assistant from Pennsylvania who stayed here for four weeks throughout April, says bedding down at the historic hotel helped to take the pressure off him and his colleagues. "Honestly every day was exhausting," he tells CNN Travel. "But the New Yorker was very comfortable and convenient." "We all had traveled from a long distance away, so we needed a nice place to stay."

Jul 13, 2020

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