With 50 countries, dozens of languages and countless traditions, Europe is a far more diverse market than is often understood. Amadeus regional teams are dedicated to growing hotels’ businesses on the continent ,but without losing sight of the fact there is no one-size-fits-all approach for a market characterised as much by its national variations as its regional similarities. At this week’s HEDNA conference in Edinburgh we are sharing our approach with hoteliers.
A couple of years ago we decided to take a look at our customers’ hotel business from a different perspective – getting away from just looking at it through an Amadeus product lens, as we believed our customers were not maximizing their hotel business opportunities. So how did we do this? Well, first, we listened to what corporations, travel agents and travelers in the region had to say. When we asked travel agencies what hoteliers could do to improve their business, the TAs said that they needed competitive and negotiated rates because ability to comply with corporate customers policy and cost control requirements were considered the as the main values of the TA selling channel. There was also a fear of booking an ‘unknown’ hotel for a regular customer; as agents felt that they risked losing their custom if the unknown hotel turned out to be “terrible”! Agents in certain markets also feared that hotels might not recognize customer reservations – while they admitted that this was uncommon, when it does happen, it’s exceedingly painful. And finally, agents were worried that they would not be paid for customer hotel bookings – and the perception of commission ‘chasing’ as a result.
We asked corporations in the region the same question: what can hoteliers do to grow their business with you? Corporations told us they wanted three things: control, care, and content. Firstly, control. Corporations wanted to be able to book a hotel with the right rate, at a price that conforms to their internal travel policies. Secondly, they want their travellers to feel cared for. A common issue was that travelers needed more choice while still complying with the travel policy restrictions, and wanted a more personalized experience. And lastly, content. Corporations want content that is relevant to their needs, and the ability to book it through their travel agency or corporate self-booking tool rather than having to go direct to the hotel, which takes more time.
Armed with this feedback from travel agents and corporations, we defined our hotel approach, which focused on empowerment, local ownership, customization, and a support framework. For example, we organized sales training for travel agencies to ensure they knew the value of hotel sales; in Poland, we did this in partnership with Accor who sponsored these sessions and was given a time slot to present their offer to the Amadeus travel agents.
Using this consultancy-led approach, we’ve already seen some impressive results in the region. For example, in 2011, Sweden a mature hotel market managed to grow their hotel business by 15%. This growth of business was even more impressive in markets ‘new’ to hotel sales as in 2012, hotel bookings in Poland increased by 74% compared to the previous year and the overall hotel sales growth in our CESE (Central, Eastern and Southern Europe) region over the same period was 21%.
With this consultancy approach, we are able to explore any issues together with our client partners. Using this model, we are actually driving a sustained hotel business growth and profitability for all our customers, rather than just driving the usage of our products, or shifting bookings from one provider to another.