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Brands: what is their real value compared to an efficient and segmented online distribution?

Grégoire Champetier, Guillaume Filly, Paul Mulcahy, Olivier Carvin, Carlo Olejniczak and Iscliff Lebée attempted to define the value a brand brings its franchisees and to compare the situation of a branded and unbranded hotel at the last Global Lodging Forum.

Grégoire Champetier, Chief Marketing and Distribution Officer AccorHotels

Hotel marketing will have to grow some more, because it is still a poor cousin of the industry. Today there is a real emergence of hotel marketing and we are beginning to understand and once again feel the need to create brands. Today, it is necessary to analyze the client, collect data and question the value of the hotel brand. Marketing demands are much more sophisticated than in the past.

The emergence of digital and the phenomenon of OTAs revives the challenge of the emotional bond with a brand, or liking and trusting it. It cannot be developed through a simple distribution system, but on the hotel experience overall. There is loyalty to the hotel brand and also to the distributor brand, and that is a good thing.

Today we must revolutionize hospitality sales and marketing. We can no longer sell rooms, we need to develop the hybridization of our products.

Guillaume Filly, Senior Director European Sales & Distribution Choice Hotels International

The hotel environment is changing, thus we are making the presence of our brands on the different markets evolve. The current goal of all hoteliers is to work on the experience they offer their customers.

We tend to compare brands to distribution, but that is not necessarily a debate: the hotelier, by definition, works on the user's experience; distribution, meanwhile, is the result of the digitization of the hotel industry. We are thus becoming increasingly "Customer centric". We are increasingly interested in guest motivations and want to be present throughout the hotel cycle, from looking for the hotel room to after the stay.

As a franchise network, we also try to facilitate exchanges and communication with our partners in order to adapt our current strategies to their needs.

Paul Mulcahy, Senior Vice President Commercial  Mövenpick

The hotelier's job is distribution, its essence is marketing. Guests test all aspects of hotels, and the rise of digital gives them the opportunity to reward or punish properties. Multi-brand strategies correspond to the phenomenon of industrialization, whereas having only one brand makes it possible to access consumers more easily. It is first and foremost about recognizing and understanding our guests. We must be able to communicate the following message to them: "We understand you and accompany you."

To chose a brand, franchisees take many criteria into consideration. Hotel owners do not necessarily need all the services we offer. Here, again, it is important to understand them to identify their needs.

Olivier Carvin, President Maranatha

Hotel marketing is different from marketing for other industries, such as the automobile industry, because the companies that own the brands are different from those that own the hotels. In the past, franchisees were often not listened to enough by franchisers. Today the relations between the two players has evolved toward more strength and is win-win. this lack of balance may be seen in relations between hoteliers and OTAs.

The most important area for brand support for franchisees is digital because we are not strong enough in this segment. As hoteliers it has always been difficult for us to provide information about our guests to groups, but now we have understood they can really help us use the data we collect.

Carlo Olejniczak, General Manager France & Spain & Portugal, Booking.com

In recent years we we did a great deal of work in terms of working with hoteliers unions and hotel chains. As an OTA, we need strong brands in our supply because they are the products that progress the fastest on our platform. If the brand is not the the key choice criterion for our clients, as it is behind location, price and the property's rating, it constitutes a real reason for conversion. A strong brand makes it possible to grow awareness on Internet more quickly, unlike a brand that does not keep its promise .

OTAs are distribution platforms that connect clients and products, and the client remains the hotel's client. It is possible to have clients who are loyal to a brand and prefer a distribution network.

Iscliff Lebee, COO of Dayuse

At Dayuse our differentiation is through our positioning. We sell services, not hotel rooms, and daytime space, making it possible to fill a need hoteliers may have in terms of room profitability. Thanks to us, they are now able to rent them twice in a single day. We are thus filling the needs of a veritable niche market, while the original role of hoteliers is to sell nights.

Our approach also involves identifying hotels that correspond to the needs of our target customers, especially business travelers. Thus, we do not include resorts, but properties located in airport zones, business districts and city centers. We do not wish to include hoteliers on our platform if we are unable to sell their room.

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