Madeleine Rosberg
Madeleine Rosberg Head of Communication

Reflections from Hotel Market Seminars 2019

Last week, this year's edition of Hotel Market Seminars 2019 was held at Clarion Hotel Stockholm at Skanstull. Almost 300 participants gathered and the theme for the year was guest focus, why many of the panel discussions and workshops had the relation to the guest in focus, but based on various interesting angles and issues. Several of us at Demand Calendar were there and intended to reproduce some of what was discussed for those who did not have the opportunity to participate.

Are the loyalty programs dead?
One of the panel discussions that took place was about loyalty programs and their pros and cons and future. Panel participants were Patrik Tuomisto from Bank Hotel, Marcus Östlundh from HKC Hotels and Christian Riebne, Ericsson. The issue for the panel discussion was whether or not the loyalty programs are dead or not, but nobody really questioned the loyalty programs being or not. Rather, the discussion was about their value and the importance they have for both the guest and the hotel. The cost of driving them in relation to their value was also discussed.

However, the value of loyalty programs was questioned both from a person in the audience who said they represented "Millenials" and Ericsson's representative in the panel who said that "location" and price were always much more important for them as companies when choosing hotels.


Annemarie Gubsanski och Anders Johansson. Copyright Hotel Market Seminars

A spontaneous reflection that one as an audience could do was for whom they are useful - is it really with the customer in focus that one has loyalty programs? Or is it for the customer's sake (in terms of today's theme of the customer in focus)? For it is from a hotel perspective a lot about collecting information and data about their customers, about their needs and buying behavior, in order to then be able to communicate with them and target the right campaigns and other sales efforts. The value of the loyalty programs for the hotel is very much in the information / data, except that you get loyal customers who return, of course. The question of data security is also raised, who owns the customer data and if it is in safe hands. A most relevant issue given the recent events when data has been stolen from major hotel chains. In summary, it is about managing data right to get the right information and results.

Management response strategy - to maximize the value of reviews in reviews
Another seminar hosted by Wilma Vanni from Reviewpro was about how to drive customers to make direct bookings and thereby also drive revenue, touched on the value of using information correctly. There are now many different ways of interacting with the guests through online reviews that can be used correctly can mean a marketing opportunity regardless of whether they contain criticisms that should be addressed or not.

The audience received three tips on how they could work with direct bookings and all three tips were important.

Keyword optimization and marketing was one of the tips. Targeted offers with discounts and benefits were different and finally, one has to care about their reputation online on pages that provide reviews such as TripAdvisor. The importance of always answering the reviews and having a dialogue, engaging in the customer's opinions, was emphasized. Because there is a large and often untapped value in the information that customers give in their reviews on different pages. Used correctly, that information can be a great source of information and thus also an understanding of the customers' needs and wishes in relation to your particular hotel. You should always take the opportunity to share some more information about your hotel and what you have to offer when answering a customer review. For other potential guests, the reviews read so it is a pity not to be able to communicate other benefits while still having guests and potential new guests' ears and interests. You simply cannot miss the area for dialogue.

As was the case with the loyalty programs, in this case it is about using the data in the right way in order to be able to analyze and draw conclusions that can be useful both in the sales and marketing work but also for a revenue manager. The conclusion was that one would develop a "management response strategy" for all reviews.

Give guests more personalized and targeted offers
Another seminar on how to give the guests more targeted and relevant offers was a seminar that "Infor" had on how to use the right tools to get the right data. It is incredibly important that you keep track of the fact that you use your PMS correctly because the PMS is the center of the gear that everything else spins around in a hotel. The conclusions you can then draw from the information and data you have are never better than the way you have collected it and compiled it. If you use the PMS error, the output will also be wrong - error in will be wrong. In order to understand the segments, distribution channels and other important and basic parameters, one must keep track of their PMS data.

The value of using the right information
This was the third seminar that dealt with the value of having the right information and data that used correctly can be used to make accurate and well-founded analyzes. OTA Insight was also on the corresponding theme during his workshop. They thought that many hotels cut the price in panic completely unnecessarily when it approaches a day that does not have such a high occupancy rate. And this despite the fact that data shows that late bookings make up as much as 20 percent in the US and 14 percent in Europe. Not to mention the 31 percent who book late in Africa's countries and in the MENA region. Here too, a more accurate analysis of the data can lead to daring to have ice in the stomach.

_D011125Lotten Fowler. Copyright Hotel Market Seminars

Much to gain

Several of Hotel Market Seminar's seminars testified to how many different systems, tools and much data and information that a hotel must be able to handle and make decisions from outside. And if you use information and data correctly to draw their own strategic conclusions, you have a lot to gain. Hotel Market Seminars showed how the industry is constantly evolving but always with the guest in focus. And everything is about how to handle information about and in relation to the guest.