Repeat Guest Factor, Builds ADR to Pre-9/11
Levels with Channel Marketing Strategy
October 28, 2003 - Tourism and corporate travel
were hard hit over the past three years by a succession of world crises
that included the Iraq war, foot and mouth disease, SARS, and the world
wide economic downturn, but London-based Red Carnation Hotels, a collection
of eight luxury properties, is increasing its reservation pace and ADR,
and has added two hotels to its portfolio since the September 11 terrorist
attacks. Through a conscious strategy of maintaining quality, developing
new Internet marketing channels, and gradually building up rates, this
luxury hospitality company is leading a hotel industry turn-around.
Eck explained, "In the past we employed the four main GDSes (Global Distribution Systems) for reservations almost exclusively. Then, about two years ago we began working more closely with our channel marketing provider, VIP International, and increased our capacity to eight or nine reservation channels by utilising, for example, their 24-hour voice reservation sales services. We now have a base universal toll free number for 22 countries worldwide."
Eck said Red Carnation also increased its exposure on a wider variety of Alternative Distribution Systems (ADS) like WorldRes and Pegasus, which connect them worldwide to thousands of travel sites. Additionally, they optimised their website and installed VIP’s reservation booking engine, Book-A-Rez, which allows them to funnel reservation volume to the www.redcarnationhotels.com site. There, they control the total offering at the lowest cost per reservation. Also, by partnering with their vendor and loading specific rates through a wide range of websites and travel portals like TravelWeb, TravelHero, Lodging, and Opodo through WorldRes, Red Carnation properties receive "Featured Property," "Special Web Rate" or other spotlight designations and appear on the first or second pages of many sites. "Our goal was to increase our occupancy and average length of stay; we have improved Internet room bookings by 150% over 2002, and ADR is edging up in tandem with volume," said Eck, who noted that whenever something new happens in the channel marketing world, Red Carnation’s provider, VIP International, is one of the first representation companies to adopt it.
"We wanted to extend our European business through
our toll-free numbers and various websites, so when ‘Sabre Exclusives’
rolls out in Europe, we will be one of the first participants. Our future
growth depends on getting our messages to all potential Red Carnation guests,
and in making our offering as intelligent as possible," continued Eck.
The intelligence behind Red Carnation’s sales strategies links room demand to their rates, and also guides visitors toward booking rooms on the company’s website. As a reward for booking directly through them, Red Carnation offers prospective guests low-rate guarantees, upgrades subject to availability and five percent discounts. "Reservations made from our site’s Book-A-Rez engine have the lowest cost to us, so we want to increase bookings from this channel as much as possible," said Executive Vice President David Eck. "The relationship with VIP works because we take advantage of their core competency: mastering Internet channel distribution, partnering with leading edge technology, and educating us on the most successful Web reservation venues for selling our room inventory. This allows Red Carnation the latitude to design imaginative marketing and sales strategies that add value to our properties. For example, our London hotels offer a ‘Magical London Christmas’ package that includes a traditional Norwegian Christmas tree, stocking stuffers and special Christmas gift-wrapping; and our Twelve Apostles Hotel in South Africa offers a ‘Spring Blossoming’ package complete with tours of our exotic gardens. Each package is designed to attract guests with activities that increase revenue.
At a time when many hotel companies are economising, Red Carnation is increasing its exposure globally and growing by concentrating on using all reservation channels to push up occupancy volumes. "For the past two years we have seen five-star properties selling at three-star rates," said Eck. "Our Internet programs have helped us because they allow our hotels to increase their average night stay and add incremental revenue from food and beverage. I meet with VIP monthly and talk to them on a daily basis; we work together more as a team than as a client and vendor." This is part of the reason Red Carnation has expanded its operation 300% since 1996; the other side of the equation is delivering the type of sumptuous quality-oriented hotel experience its discriminating clientele expects. "Our guests help us refine our offering through surveys which allow us to deliver the amenities that set Red Carnation miles apart," concluded Eck.
About The Red Carnation Hotel Collection
Each of the eight opulent hotels in the Red Carnation Collection presents a unique and individual style with magnificent suites and luxury guest rooms, all enhanced by exquisite furnishings from around the world. Guests' needs are anticipated by the provision of thoughtful extras including twice daily maid service, deluxe bathroom amenities and 'business ready' rooms with additional desk space. Committed to exceeding expectations, each hotel in the Red Carnation Collection is dedicated to providing business and holiday guests with the highest level of professional, warm and friendly service where the philosophy of "no request too large, no detail too small" conveys the true art of hospitality. Luxury properties include ‘41’, The Milestone Hotel and Apartments (Recently voted ‘Best Hotel in London’ in the ‘Hardens Hotel Guide 2004’), The Chesterfield Mayfair, The Montague on the Gardens, and The Rubens at the Palace in London; the Hotel D’Angleterre in Geneva; The Chesterfield Palm Beach in Florida; and The Twelve Apostles in Cape Town. The Twelve Apostles was listed on Conde Naste Traveler Magazine's 2003 Hotlist of The 80 Best New Hotels in The World, and on the "15 to Watch" list for Travel & Leisure’s The World’s Best Awards in 2003. For more information visit www.redcarnationhotels.com.
About VIP International Corporation
VIP International (www.vipintcorp.com) is a channel marketing organisation that drives revenue for hoteliers and car rental owners 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 optimise 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, Amadeus, WorldRes, Pegasus, 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.
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