The wait is over! The inaugural Direct Booking Summit: Asia-Pacific opened its doors this morning for a record number of attendees. Hundreds of hospitality industry representatives have come together in the Fullerton Hotel Singapore to discuss regional challenges including rogue wholesaler rates, mobile UX for hotel websites, distribution, revenue optimization and much more.
Here's what went down on day one.
The learning starts before breakfast at the Direct Booking Summit. Early-rising hoteliers joined an 8am workshop with Erik Tengen, CEO and Co-Founder at Oaky, on creating unique guest experiences with personalised upselling techniques. "Convenience is the new luxury," Erik explained to the audience. "Netflix, Spotify, Dominos - they all offer something that is incredibly relevant to the individual at the touch of a button. This is how upselling should be done."
Once delegates had picked up a coffee and an agenda, Chief Tease Charlie Osmond was there to open the conference and our sessions got under way.
First up came a panel discussion on optimizing your acquisition channels with speakers from The Fullerton, Dewa Phuket Resort, Swiss-Belhotel International and Stackla. Moderated by Adrian Caruso, Founder and Managing Director at Fastrack Group, the panel revealed their best practices for channel-by-channel analysis. "If you can't measure what's happening on your channels, you can't control them or manage them," Adrian began.
In the first of many discussions of 'the wholesaler problem' today, The Fullerton's Jeff Crowe admitted that "wholesale is the leak in our parity bucket!" Focusing on strategies for the audience to take away, Jeff shared that after speaking to one of his wholesale market managers about the issue, he was able to work with the partner to cut out the partners of that wholesaler who had the highest probability of passing on the rates.
"We saw a marked reduction in our parity violations due to that action," Jeff shared.
Managing your relationship with OTAs was the topic tackled by another panel, featuring speakers from Onyx Hospitality Group, GCP Hospitality, PMG Hotels, The Surin Phuket and Eastiny Pattaya. Our panel managed to pack an enormous amount into their 45 minutes, including this take from GCP's Michael Belanger: "OTAs can simply evolve much faster than hoteliers can. What really allowed them to grab market share was their flexibility, their ability to shift quickly, their technology, their data-focused approach - that's where hoteliers have fallen behind.
"Hotels will be able to keep up with that curve by understanding it and investing in a similar fashion in terms of their technology."
Eastiny Pattaya's Ayudh Nakaprasit drew cheers from the audience with his story of standing up to misbehaving OTAs: "It's a matter of speaking up and putting your foot down."
Our session on the Chinese tourism boom drew a huge amount of interaction from our audience, with delegates sharing experiences with Chinese OTAs, payment systems, wholesalers and more. Daniel Mourad, General Manager APAC at Triptease, moderated the conversation between speakers from Park Hotel Group, Centara Hotels and Resorts and I’M Hotel.
We also took on two major hospitality challenges in Asia-Pacific: Booking.basic and rogue wholesale rates. Chroma Hospitality, The Lancemore Group, Shangri-La and Simia Solutions were the companies represented on this panel, which could easily have gone on for another hour or more. Shangri-La's Ludovic Cacciapaglia was on hand to provide a perspective on the issue from multiple regions, having previously worked in both North America and Europe before moving to Asia.
"While Asia is a more fragmented market than Europe or North America, where distribution is very concentrated in two main players, from your distribution perspective the attitude should be the same: Focus on parity and profitability."
Triptease's co-founder and Chief Product Officer Alasdair Snow took delegates through the full-funnel acquisition and conversion solution offered by the Triptease Platform, whilst also reasserting the value of sharing experiences at events such as the Summit.
There's a lot more to come from our Summit coverage, so stay tuned to the Triptease Content Hub for write-ups, articles and video interviews with our speakers. Tomorrow we'll be running hands-on workshops with our audience of hoteliers, with sessions from TripAdvisor, Google, Wharf Hotels and more.