Paulo Salvador, Vice President of Global Marketing & Sales and Vice President for EMEA Hotels, Worldhotels
1) How have Worldhotels sales performed so far this year, and has this matched your expectations?
We are certainly having a very good year and our results so far, compared to 2010, are quite impressive. We are experiencing an increase in room night production by 20% in GDS, 41% in our call centre and 40% in online channels. The average rates are also increasing by over 10% in Asia and the Americas. In Europe, there is a large gap between North and South. The Southern States are relatively stable despite the crisis, and the Northern states are showing an 8-10% average rate increase.
2) What are the primary booking channels for Worldhotels properties, and are you noticing any significant trends in this area?
The primary booking channels for our business are the electronic channels and we believe that if the world economy – specifically in the US and Europe – does not recover, electronic bookings will be less affected than others.
Interestingly enough, despite of many industry experts saying that GDS will die, we consider GDS as one of the most important and reliable booking channels in the hotel industry. Our GDS production is growing from year to year – not only in terms of bookings, but also in terms of average rate.
Another interesting trend is the growth of bookings via call centres. With the emergence of self booking tools, guest mobility and the use of smart phones we have noticed that bookings in our call centres are also growing. However, the bookings are very different from previous years: now clients call while they are on the go to get more information on what they are seeing on the mobile devices.
3) Are you noticing an upturn in business from Asian markets, and what steps are you taking to target Asian travellers?
The Asian market is a very important source of business for our hotels in the rest of the world, especially for our 280 properties in Europe. We provide products that are very authentic and extremely well located in key destinations, which is exactly what Asian travellers are looking for. We are enhancing new partnerships with key online players and OTAs in the region, which will allow us to better understand and reach even more clients in Asia.
4) Earlier this year you launched two new products to drive hotels’ online bookings – Spider by Worldhotels and OTA360. What has the response been like for these products?
The hospitality business has become very complex and competitive and is in constant change. Corporate clients are looking for lower prices, OTAs are striving for more commission and guests can choose from a wide variety of booking channels and share their hotel experience with millions of internet users.
Our aim is to help hoteliers to understand and decrypt these developments. We launched a number of new services for our affiliate hotels this year to enable them to drive direct and indirect online bookings.
Our two products, OTA360