Tell me about ROIBACK; what role do you play in a hotelier’s distribution strategy?
Roiback, as a specialist in direct channel for hotels, is presented as an efficient solution as it manages to increase sales with low costs lowering hotel cost distribution. Due to the quickly evolving industry, the hotels must be in constant innovation and creation to manage their direct sales channel efficiently and competitively. In this context of sustained and changing growth, there is a need of high specialisation in e-commerce and extensive knowledge of the tourism sector where Roiback gives this added value.
Great. So you must have a privileged point of view on the hospitality industry. What do you find the most interesting trends so far this year?
The consumer is increasingly used to hiring services over the Internet and for the hotel it’s a great opportunity to directly reach potential customers, who can create a stronger relationship on which to work. Adapting content to the target client and being able to give what they are looking for has become a challenge for the hotels on their way to loyalty and increased direct sales.
What are the key factors you consider to implement a winner strategy to a website or mobile site?
When we think of a successful website, we think of a simple, intuitive and attractive website where the customer finds what they need very fast and purchases quickly. Of course a current website also needs to be adapted to all devices including the new ones such us Apple watch.
Mobile travel bookings have an important share of all online travel bookings and this will be more and more important in the following years, and as a result strong mobile strategy plan is a must. This means responsive design, one-click booking process, specific mobile promotions and location technology. From my point of view it is very important to have a specific web mobile version regardless of the responsive web version. If you don’t, you will be losing functions and bookings, as it is very unlikely to have an optimal site for desktop and mobile at the same time.
How do you drive increased revenue for hotels? What are the key areas to consider?
One of the main strengths to consider to increase the revenue is to have a booking engine that allows the hotel to perform multiple functions of optimisation. Alongside this, an innovative design and construction of attractive website with a high degree of usability, focused on conversion and integrated with the online marketing management is hugely advantageous. We also work very closely and directly with the hotel or hotel chain, allowing us to become an extension of their e-business department. Our goal is to have a close and transparent relationship that allows us to define common goals and plans together, thus, increase direct online sales of the hotel.
What about hotel bookings through TripAdvisor or Google? Do you think of them as direct bookings or are these the new online travel agents?
These players play a very important role for the direct sales of hotels. The client searches for the best conditions and meta-searches from great players that give them confidence as in the case of Google, TripAdvisor and others. It is convenient for the hotel to appear on these pages as long as the cost is reasonable. In the past the CPC model was an unsustainable cost for many hotels but with the appearance of the CPA model, these players become more like intermediaries who are paid commission for selling consumer bookings. In this sense, they are acting as an OTA.
What is your advice to small and medium hotel chains that want more direct bookings?
My advice is to put in place a system adapted to its chain or independent hotel to generate traffic to your website. There are numerous possibilities for generating such traffic (SEO, SEM, Metasearch, specific content, sending newsletters, etc.) and of course controlling investment. Once this traffic reaches the website, the goal is to make the visit into bookings and this is achieved with an intuitive and simple web page where the customer can easily book the best price.
It is important to create strong relationships with customers during the stay and work the same loyalty as well as provide differential values to customers for booking direct.
Finally, an important issue is the management of social networking and online reputation as key elements for growth in the direct channel.