Hotel Online  Special Report

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Hotel Owner/Operators Disclose Secrets
of Web Booking Success
HITEC Booth # 1832

Top Five-Web Booking Champs Deploy Winning Approaches to GDS Reservations from VIP International; Log Gains of 60% to 840%

Calgary, Alberta, Canada - April 24, 2003 - Internet Distribution Service (IDS) channels are the fastest growing source of hotel reservations according to industry reports, but a majority of hotel operators still feel uncomfortable with the complexity of their options and the tradeoff between Web reservation volume and plunging ADR.  Web reservations cost less to generate than almost any other source, and as hotels learn how to use this profitable reservation channel the result is higher occupancy and increased room revenue.  A group of hotel operators who were the most successful at utilizing Web, GDS and IDS channels were recently spotlighted by VIP International as the Top Five Web Success Stories of the past year.  Here are their Web channel and GDS strategies.

Executive Inn and Suites Boosts Web Bookings 60%; Refuses to Play the ‘Rate Game’
 

The Executive Inn and Suites Oakland is a 228-room business property in Oakland, California, midway between downtown and the airport.  “The way people book reservations has changed entirely in the last two years,” said Anne Kalen, Executive Inn and Suites' marketing director.  “Now, the consumer is making his or her own decisions on the Internet.  Web marketing is complex and seems difficult for some hotels, and 
Executive Inn & Suites
1755 Embarcadero
Oakland, California
Expedia and Travelocity want 25 percent of the rate.  We refused to play the ‘rate game,’ so we learned the ‘GDS game'."

“We team with VIP International, a channel marketing company that drives sales, to learn the best Web options to accomplish our goals of booking more rooms in our low periods while keeping our rate up,” continued Kalen.  “They introduced us to several new concepts, like the travel agent e-Blast.   When we forecast a slow period coming, like a holiday, we do an e-Blast promotion to over a thousand travel agents and consortia that work with VIP.  On average we pick up 100 to 150 rooms per blast.  We also created a campaign for our new suite rooms via a three-week headline promotion special on Sabre that generated 400 room nights; and later took a preferred position on Galileo so anyone checking that service sees our name near the top.  Year to date our occupancy is running 10 percent above our comp set, and our ADR is $3 above the local market.  VIP has boosted our channel reservations by over 1,300 percent during the last year.  I am happy to partner with a company that helps us learn what works and what doesn’t.”

Mango Inn Increases Web Bookings 842%, Travel Agent GDS Bookings Grow 60%

Located within walking distance to the beach in the resort and gaming district of Isla Verde in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Mango Inn began focusing on electronic reservations in 2002.  Initially, the property’s owners distributed through Pegasus, then, working with VIP International they expanded to Travelweb, and participated in Travelocity Hotels Only and the Orbitz promotional rate programs.  As a result, total Internet bookings increased 842 percent.  “We have become successful at using the Internet booking channels,” said Carmelo Ortiz, Mango Inn’s owner.  “Our reservation volume through VIP has increased, but not at the expense of our travel agent reservations.  Thanks to VIP’s help, our GDS travel agent bookings are also up over 60 percent.”

Overland Park Inn Grows More Web Reservations, Orbitz Provides 48% of Total
 

Cherie Chandler, general manager of the Overland Park Inn, a HVS Hotel Management property in Overland Park, Kansas, understands the challenges of the hotel business and what it takes to be successful.  “We are in a corporate area of town; unfortunately there are so many hotels in our district it is tough to carve out market share,” Chandler said.  “My sales background taught me that my client is not just the guest at the desk; it is also the travel agent booking the reservations.  We began working with VIP International about six months ago to improve our Internet reservations; as a result of participating in various Web net-rate 
Overland Park Inn
7200 West 107Th Street
Overland Park, Kansas
programs and working closely with our VIP revenue manager the hotel has increased its total Web bookings to 73 reservations per month.  We started with Hot Wire.  People think you just load rooms in and wait for the magic.  It doesn’t happen that way; you have to continually analyze performance.  By collaborating with VIP we found that Travelocity Hotels Only program worked well for us.”  Chandler also noted that guest service is critical to occupancy.  “When I hear someone checking in I always come to the desk and welcome them.  Repeat business does not cost a dime, and making guests feel special is the key to loyal customers.”

Clubhouse Inn and Suites Earns 140% Increase in Internet Reservations YTD

Growing hotel chains are also taking advantage of new Web booking strategies.  “Our channel marketing provider advises me on new Internet sites and programs, and I make decisions several times each week on net rate programs for our 12 Clubhouse Inn & Suites.  VIP International connects each Clubhouse Inn & Suites to all the sites Regency selects via one central point of inventory, and each hotel manages its own rate,” said Gloriann Kueter, corporate director of sales and marketing for Sioux Falls, South Dakota based Regency Hotel Management, who oversees the booking of all 34 Regency properties, and is especially focused on the company’s expanding Clubhouse Inn & Suites flag.  “We use the Lodging net-rate program, Travelocity Hotel Only, Travelweb Net Rate, Priceline net rate, and Hotwire net rate.  By accepting a net rate program, each hotel agrees to offer a rate at least 25% to 30% lower than their published rate.  In return they receive a more prominent listing, which could be on page one instead of page three of a travel Web site, but it requires daily management.”  Kueter observed, “As a result, Clubhouse Inn & Suites realized a 140% increase in total Internet reservations 2003 over 2002.” 

Bradford Homesuites Improves Internet Bookings 350% for February Year Over Year

“Bradford Homesuites is a very entrepreneurial company by nature,” said Todd Fitzerman, owner, and Senior VP of marketing. ”That means when there was a change in the operating environment, such as the Internet precipitated two years ago, we made the same quick turn a speedboat would make to take advantage of it.”  Two years ago Bradford Homesuites' management team realized travel agents were having a difficult time finding their properties on the GDSes, and that reservations through that channel were slipping.  Quickly, they hired VIP International Corporation to help remedy the situation.  According to Michelle Tokarczyk, director of revenue management, Bradford Homesuites uses VIP's GDS and voice center services, as well as their consortia and real-time Web site reservation services.  “We now pull a good percentage of our revenue from the GDS channel, and our total Internet reservations for the month of February are up 350% over last year.” 

About VIP International Corporation
VIP International (www.vipintcorp.com) is a channel marketing organization that drives revenue for hoteliers, car rental owners and regional airlines through a multi-channel reservation sales center, the adoption of leading-edge technology, and partnerships with clients to provide ongoing education. Founded in 1979, the now privately held Calgary, Alberta-based firm pursues a mission of being "the number one producer of bookings per client."  This is accomplished through mastering the electronic channel marketing environment, developing and implementing strategies for each client's unique position, and educating customers about how to optimize participation in the changing electronic marketplace.  The company is a central distribution point to every viable Internet web site, and to all of the major global distribution systems including Sabre, Galileo, Pegasus, WorldRes, Amadeus, and Worldspan.  VIP International has business development offices in Denver, Colorado; Kansas City, Kansas; Toronto, Ontario; London, United Kingdom; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Hong Kong.  For more information visit www.vipintcorp.com or stop by and see the VIP team at HITEC in booth # 1832.

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Contact:

VIP International Corporation
Contact: Rita Emmer, Vice President, Sales
5th Floor, 727 - 7th Avenue S.W.
Calgary, Alberta
Canada, T2P 0Z
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 Hotel Company Sharpens Channel Management for 22% Increase in Average Length of Stay for GDS Bookings, 14% Jump in ADR / June 2003
Interstate Hotels, Candlewood Suites, Regal Hotels, Canadian North Airlines Shift Call Center Responsibility to VIP: Interstate To Pass Along 8% to 10% Savings to Properties; Regal Hotels up 26% / May 2003
Zero Transaction Fees: Independent Hotels, Chains Profit from Landmark Agreement; Manage Discounted Rooms Through Central Res Systems at No Cost / May 2003
Interstate Hotels & Resorts Signs Five-Year Agreement with VIP International to Outsource Call Center; Expects to Pass Along 8 Percent to 10 Percent Savings, Increased Revenue to Hotels / April 2003
Hong Kong’s Largest Hotel Operator Sees Reservation Numbers Jump 26 Percent In First 10 Months of 2002, Increases Global Presence with New Reservation Sales Provider / February 2003
Canadian North Chooses Calgary-based VIP International to Provide Voice Reservation and Support services / January 2003
Midwestern Chain Targets Value-Conscious Senior Market; Picks New Channel Marketing Provider to Power Goal of 100% Increase in Bookings / January 2003
Midwestern Management Firm Gains 69% Increase in GDS Reservations YTD at 12 ‘Enhanced Limited-Service’ Properties / Dec 2002
Texas-Based Hotel Chain Captures 104% More GDS Reservations YTD, Speeds Ahead of Economy / Dec 2002
Four Star Calgary Hotel Reports 42% Increase in Bookings During Initial Period With New Channel Marketing Provider / Nov 2002


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