Wallop turns 18 this year, and as we hit this milestone birthday we can safely say that another year older is definitely another year wiser. A core part of our knowledge is in the travel industry itself. Consumer behaviours, competitive landscape, search trends, and, as the title suggest, hospitality tech.
There are a huge number of vendors offering products to businesses in this space yet the hospitality industry remains an industry that seems to have low adoption of digital aids, tech and processes.
Unsurprisingly, as a digital agency, we’ve worked with many tech platforms, and we’ve figured out which ones actually drive tangible results for our hospitality clients.
Here they are.
Let’s kick things off with a company who have been very busy over the past year or so. From acquiring NAVIS the CRM, to acquiring Go Moment, an AI chat bot, Revinate clearly have their eyes on becoming a leading tech provider in this space.
Revinate began as a platform that allows hoteliers to send very targeted emails based on their previous guest data, as well as newsletter subscriber data. Whether that be sending emails to everyone who stayed Thanksgiving last year ahead of Thanksgiving this year, or sending notification emails to people who are due to check in soon, there are a range of opportunities. Being able to be so targeted has great positive impact on the amount of revenue driven. One property we work with was able to generate six figures of revenue from Revinate emails in their first year of working with the platform.
Now that Revinate includes the NAVIS CRM, the targeting options are even greater. A big benefit of this platform is being able to attribute offline conversions (i.e. bookings made over the phone) to digital media campaigns.
The cost of the platform varies depending on things such as property size and type. However, this is one we do see good return on.
The Hotels Network
It was only in the last couple of years we discovered The Hotels Network but they have been in operation since 2015. The Hotels Network is a platform that allows you to add custom messages and popups to your website including a rate parity popup displaying (higher) OTA rates.
Since our first interaction with them, three things have stood out:
- Their focus on accessibility
Anytime we’re working with a client on a new website, ensuring it is accessible is a top priority so if we’re going to recommend a third-party platform, we like to know that accessibility is as important to them as it is to us. Having a website experience that works for everyone is incredibly important, and remaining compliant under the American with Disabilities Act is essential.
- Their inliner “popup” format
Popups can get a bad rap, especially if they are not targeted appropriately or overused. The Hotels Networks inliner format allows a message to appear as if it were part of the page, rather than a popup layered on top.
- Their service
Finally, their support during the setup process and in providing assistance and guidance from then onwards can’t be faulted.
Benchdirect is an extension of The Hotels Network. It’s a free platform that any hotelier can sign up to in order to see how their key metrics compare to other hotels (who are also using Benchdirect) in their area. On paper it sounds similar to STR reports, however it provides benchmark information on metrics that STR reports don’t show such as booking window, website to booking engine conversion rate and booking engine to booking completion conversion rate.
We believe this one is a no-brainer and any hotelier looking for more insights on how they are doing should be signed up to this.
Okay, so not hospitality-specific tech, but advertising is a key driver of bookings and inquiries for travel and hospitality businesses. And we’re quite particular with the ad platforms we recommend to our clients.
Unless our clients are looking to spend close to six figures a month on digital media, we generally find that a plan using Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Instagram brings the best return.
We get questions about awareness platforms like Waze, Pinterest and programmatic, but we don’t generally see as strong performance, or as efficient cost on those platforms for our clients in this space.
But, we’re all for innovating and digital audio, Snapchat and TikTok could well become a core part of our recommended media strategies in the coming months and years.
Ones to watch
New tech is being released constantly and consumer behaviour also changes, so while we’re aware of several platforms out there, these next three platforms in particular are ones we’re hearing and seeing positive things from (though we’re not quite ready to confidently recommend them due to limited experience so far).
Amsterdam-based company Hotelchamp has been around for a few years, but since the start of the pandemic they’ve made lots of changes and additions to their offering (and their pricing). We’ve not experienced their full range of offerings but in the past we’ve used the popup side of the platform and we can say they’ve built a very easy to use platform. There are targeting conditions such as presenting a popup message to people searching for specific dates or lengths of stay in the booking engine which is very useful for promoting packages, specials or upsells as well as for operational reasons, i.e. if there are planned renovations happening at the hotel during certain dates.
We can say that since Hotelchamp’s pricing structure has changed, they are a platform we’d recommend exploring. While our recent experience with them is limited, we hope that changes soon. It’s also worth noting everyone we’ve ever worked with from the Hotelchamp team have really known their stuff – and are just generally great people!
We’ve not had much experience working with Cloudbeds yet, however, from our initial engagements with the platform it seems a solid choice for smaller properties.
Some of the biggest players in the booking engine space, such as Syxis and Travelclick can be price prohibitive to properties with fewer rooms or accommodations. Some of the lowest cost booking engines that are more appealing to smaller properties often present issues when it comes to tracking, and from our initial experience with Cloudbeds, that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
Cloudbeds actually provide more than just booking engines. They offer a full suite of platforms including channel management and a PMS!
We look forward to working with more businesses who are running with Cloudbeds so we can figure out whether we can safely add them to our “Recommended” list.
This one has only just come onto our radar in the past few months, but we’re pretty excited by it.
Selfbook defines themselves as the future of hotel payments. Their product attaches to a hotel’s website to provide a more streamlined way to book, in place of the booking engine process, which makes mobile bookings, in particular, a little cleaner. When people are using the Selfbook path to booking on mobile, they can pay for their booking via payment methods like Apple Pay or Google Pay. Amongst users on their product so far, 67% of mobile bookings have been paid for with digital wallets.
As they explain in their blog, 6 Hotel Website Tips to Help You Convert Traffic Like An OTA, in 2019 booking.com reported that about 40% of their revenue came through mobile, which is significantly higher than the average hotel website.
Their platform does charge based on a commission of revenue that goes through their platform, but even if the use of this platform boosts mobile bookings by 1% more than their fee, that could be a significant lift in rooms revenue.
Selfbook’s platform appears to be a step in the right direction in improving mobile conversion rates and we look forward to seeing the impact this platform can have for some of our clients.
We’re always on the lookout for new tech platforms that can assist in driving revenue, and return, for our clients. So, maybe we’ll revisit this piece a year from now and see who else makes the cut!
If you’d like to find out more about any of these platforms, feel free to reach out to your Digital Strategist or Project Manager who can help set up a demo, or speak to our Director of Sales, Linda, to find out how we can support your business.
Please note, we have no financial affiliation with any of the platforms recommended.