Texas-Based Hotel Chain Captures 104% More GDS
Reservations YTD, Speeds Ahead of Economy
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Bradford Homesuites Partners With Channel Marketing Firm, Adds Real-Time Internet Reservations; Offers Refined ‘Home’ Setting to Long- and Short-Term-Stay Travelers

December 4, 2002 - What is your evening routine when you are on the road?  When traveling to a weeklong training session or for a stint in a branch office, do you like to barbeque by the pool to unwind after dark, or do you work with all the lights on until 2:00 a.m.?  You labored a long time to make your home as comfortable as possible; why not stay in the same kind of relaxed atmosphere while you are traveling for business? 

That’s what Michael Schiff, President of Intervest Companies, asked his team when they designed the first Bradford Homesuites five years ago.  The team’s goal was to create a refined, home-like environment for extended stay business travelers in Texas and Colorado.  With a growth rate averaging about 50% per year, the corporate-owned hotel chain quickly brought nine properties online, for roughly a $10 million investment per property, and plans to expand into locations that include “anywhere you can go on Southwest Airlines,” according to Todd Fitzerman, senior vice president of marketing with Addison, Texas - based Bradford Homesuites. Fitzerman firmly believes refined amenities, like laminates with a white-leather look instead of ivory, liberal amounts of lighting, full-sized kitchens, and artwork behind non-glare glass, create the home-like setting travelers value. He also believes in changing before the tide does.

“We are a very entrepreneurial company by nature,” said Fitzerman. ”That means when there was a change in the operating environment, such as the Internet precipitated, we made the same quick turn a speedboat would make to take advantage of it.”  Bradford Homesuites debuted with a local Global Distribution System (GDS) provider that met their needs when GDS bookings were from 10% to 12% of revenue.  As technology advanced and Internet booking channels proliferated, Bradford Homesuites’ team realized travel agents were having a difficult time finding their properties on the GDSes, and that reservations through that channel were slipping. 
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Bradford Homesuites’ nine properties in Texas and Colorado experienced a 104% increase in rooms' bookings, year-over-year,
after switching to a new channel marketing provider.


After an extensive search, the company switched 18 months ago to Calgary, Canada-based VIP International Corporation, a channel marketing organization that drives revenue via a multi-channel reservation sales center, the adoption of leading-edge technology, and ongoing client education.  According to Michelle Tokarczyk, director of revenue management with Bradford Homesuites, the company uses the GDS and voice center services of its vendor, as well as their consortia and Web site real-time reservation services.  “We now pull 35% of our revenue from the GDS channel, up from 18% two years ago, and have increased room bookings by 104% over last year.”

“Before the switch, we did not have real-time reservations on the Internet,” continued Tokarczyk.  “When a reservation came in to corporate, we forwarded it to the appropriate property telling the guest we would respond to them within 12 hours.  Our previous reservation provider did not offer that capability.” 

Critical benefits Tokarczyk looked for in a channel marketing supplier during their due diligence process include:

  • A corporate culture of partnering for long-term relationships, with a hands-on approach; 
  • A business model that mandates buying technology instead of creating it, thus ensuring a cutting edge advantage;
  • A proven method, which includes ongoing staff training, for driving revenue.
In Bradford Homesuites’ case, the proven method included:
  • Rewriting Bradford Homesuites’ 25 page GDS data sheets for each hotel;
  • Switching over properties in manageable stages; 
  • Real-time reservations on their Web site through the vendor’s Book-A-Rez® engine, which links Bradford Homesuites’ proprietary Web site to VIP International’s booking engine;
  • On-site, hands-on training for all General Managers by the new provider’s staff to teach GMs how to set restrictions and maximize the service; 
  • Twice yearly trips to Calgary by Bradford Homesuites’ corporate team to spend face time with the voice agents at VIP International’s world headquarters.
“The people onsite there are absolutely wonderful, and have the highest integrity,” continued Tokarczyk, who explained that one of the most difficult challenges of a third-party call center is that the agents are selling multiple hotels.  “We are considering having voice agents dedicated to Bradford Homesuites. Utilizing a call center is a solid way to reduce expenses; our own reservation center gets calls at 3:00, 4:00 and 5:00 a.m.  In the past, because our office was closed, we would miss the calls.”
 
According to Tokarczyk, at the end of October 2002 the year-to-date conversion rate (total reservations divided by total calls) via the 1- 800-call center at their new vendor exceeded 31%, about six points higher than the industry average.  She reiterated that reservations booked through all Internet channels, including Book-A-Rez, were up 104% through October 2002 over the same period last year. 

Tokarczyk also noted that, under VIP International’s guidance, Bradford Homesuites invested 60 days of from five to six hours a day to 


Bradford Homesuites
Downtown Dallas 
2914 Harry Hines Blvd.
Dallas, Texas
collaboratively rewrite its data sheets.  As a result, there were no problems when their new GDS provider brought the properties online.  “It took a week to switch over two properties at a time, and it was transparent to the consumer,” said Tokarczyk.

With the revenue results of that process now rolling in, Bradford Homesuites is primed for a predicted economic turn around.  When that time comes, Todd Fitzerman says the Bradford Homesuites’ team will be scouting new opportunities along Southwest Airlines’ air route.  Bradford Homesuites is the first venture into hotel management for parent organization, Intervest Companies, which has managed apartments for over 20 years.

 

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Contact:

Todd Fitzerman
Bradford Homesuites
4131 Centurion Way
Addison, Texas 75001
Reservations: 1-888-486-STAY (7829)
Fax: (972) 991-7139
Email: [email protected]
http://www.bradfordsuites.com/
 

VIP International Corporation
5th Floor, 727 - 7th Avenue S.W.
Calgary, Alberta
Canada, T2P 0Z5
Sales & Marketing: Inside North America: 1-800-327-1847
From outside North America: +800-4448-2900 
Local Phone: (403) 269-3566
Fax: (403) 266-5228
E-Mail: [email protected]
http://www.vipintcorp.com

Also See Four Star Calgary Hotel Reports 42% Increase in Bookings During Initial Period With New Channel Marketing Provider / Nov 2002


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