FASTBOOKING Asia’s MD on how to improve conversion rate, boost hotel revenue and leverage meta search channels

For hoteliers, all of them are always thinking about a way to boost revenue, especially direct booking and find new marketing channels to improve their reach to potential guests. In this post, we have a chat with Mr Pierre-Charles Grob, Managing Director, Asia for FASTBOOKING, a leading booking engine from France used by more than 10.000 hotels, to know some insights in the hotel industry. 

Has anything changed since FASTBOOKING was acquired by Accor family? What are the major changes?

With Accor’s acquisition of FASTBOOKING, this has brought financial resources to FASTBOOKING which provided us with the ability to expand our resources for Product & Technology, customer success and acquisition in both Asia and Europe regions.

Through the solutions developed for AccorHotels (connectivity, technology bricks and website development), it has also brought more expertise in the solutions we ultimately serve the regional chains and independent hotels with.

The acquisition has also provided us with the reach and ability to leverage on and partner with worldwide digital players such as Google, TripAdvisor, and more. Even though there is a capitalistic relationship between AccorHotels and FASTBOOKING, FASTBOOKING is entirely autonomous. We guarantee data protection through strict NDA. FASTBOOKING core mission is to bring solutions to independent hotels and regional chains, we today serve more than 10,000 hotels.

What makes FASTBOOKING different from other providers in hotel booking field?

The flexibility and range of solutions offered by FASTBOOKING makes the playing field more level. I believe we have the agility to expedite and the ability to add functionality. As our solutions are widely used around the world, we also have the capacity to lower our costs which makes us very efficient. We have more than 10,000 hotel partners in 100 countries. Approximately half of our business is from Europe. This implies that the FASTBOOKING’s Asia customers have immediate access to partners that can help drive more European business to their hotels.

FASTBOOKING is also able to provide local support and services in the following countries: Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Greater China and Australia.

What is the ratio of factors that influence booking conversion rate?

The factors that influence booking conversion rate:

  • PRICE is the leading factor Having competitive rates and offering a better rate

to travellers to book direct on brand-site

  • Traffic Source – the more pertinent the traffic the higher the conversion rate

  • Conversion rates by Devices – percentage of traffic on mobile vs desktop as shown below

11% of bookings are from mobile for brand-site, 61% of bookings on mobile are from OTA mobile site

  • Conversion rate by Location
  • Conversion rate by ADR and Rate Strategy
  • Website user experience
  • Conversion assistants: Widgets. A boost of 15% conversion can be expected
  • Trust: having great review will affect your conversion rate
  • Service: Show that you can offer a better service will encourage conversions especially if this is something unique that is only offered on brand-site

MetaGenius is a FASTBOOKING’s product to catch the rise of metasearch trend. How does MetaGenius work to help hotels on Metasearch sites?

Metasearch within the hospitality industry has grown to become a mandatory channel in the hotel guests’ booking journey. It is also an essential advertising channel for hotels outpacing even AdWords. As a result of this, FASTBOOKING realised that the hospitality industry required a tool to simplify and standardise connectivity as well as bid management on metasearch.

FASTBOOKING developed MetaGenius, a meta search bidding platform to simplify hotel’s connectivity to metasearch and to improve hotel’s metasearch campaign management efficiency. With MetaGenius, hoteliers can use the tool to increase their direct sales on Metasearch in a cost-effective manner. MetaGenius is a multi-metasearch management platform designed for hoteliers to take control of their advertising positioning, campaign efficiency and return on investment. It is a one-stop-shop connecting to worldwide metasearch channels including Google Hotel Ads, Trivago, Tripadvisor, Kayak, HotelsCombined and Opendoor. Skyscanner will soon be added to the platform. Hotels can leverage on this platform as it is compatible with any Booking Engine, CRS or channel managers.

Stats on market share of meta search sites?

80% of digital/online bookings are from OTA which means that only 20% is from Direct booking via organic search, SEM, Metasearch and display ads. 7.1% of online bookings are from Metasearch websites or engines. This figure is based on FASTBOOKING study of 2,000 hotels worldwide.

Which is the specific feature and benefit hoteliers would have from the partnership between FASTBOOKING and Cendyn?

FASTBOOKING and Cendyn partners to provide the hospitality industry with the best-ofbreed e-commerce and CRM solution to drive qualified traffic to the hotels’ website and thereafter to retain the guests through CRM activities. This collaboration will provide seamless connectivity all in one-stop. Upon attracting a new guest to the hotel, its goal is to secure future stays and influence the choice of booking channel. The direct channel delivers the highest yield for repeat bookings and presents the opportunities to influence brand perception. This relationship between technology platforms will allow hoteliers to see a holistic view of every guest and thereby improve engagement for every guest, regardless of which channel they came through.

For example, guest recognition commences upon logging into the website. Along with the booking funnel that allows specific offers targeting guests based on their profile with automated pre-filled personal information.

What do you think about the hotel market scene in Southeast Asia and its growth in the next five years? Which countries would grow the most?

(Source: STR & Phocuswright)

According to Deloitte, travel and tourism now account for more than one-tenth of global GDP and its one of the world’s fastest-growing sectors. The hotel industry continues with strong performance and is projected to sustain steady 5–6 percent growth throughout 2018. The industry is usually cyclic. However, I am optimistic about the growth in the next five years. I am sure throughout the year; hoteliers will be venturing into opportunities in strategic places.

On the hindsight, there is a constant challenge for hoteliers. . of hotel’s online gross bookings in 2017 are through OTAs in Asia. Hotels and providers have to find the solution to take back the power and direct guest to book direct. That will be achieved by working on brand.com platform with retention actions and offering the best price to its customers. To reinforce the direct booking efforts, together with FASTBOOKING, the Digital Lab partners are Ad Roll, Cendyn, Serenata, Google, IDeaS, Sojern, STR, TripAdvisor, Triptease and TrustYou who will be sharing best practices in the new series of Hotel Digital Lab tour for 2018.

As the Hotel Digital Labs are dedicated to hoteliers and spearheaded by industry leaders, participation in the conference nearest to them is complimentary (www.hoteldigitallab.com). This year, the conference will cover the reconceptualisation of the booking sequence. From Acquisition to Conversion and finally Retention; providing hoteliers with holistic, turnkey solutions!

What do you think about the homestay trend in the SEA now? And will FASTBOOOKING extend to do something in in this field?

The homestay trend is a growing market in the SEA. Although FASTBOOKING’s focus today is mainly on providing solutions to regional chains and independent hotels, however, we address the new trend in two different approaches:

  • Provide services to hotels that would like to connect to the private rental company through its Distribution Manager tool.
  • Provide solutions to Private Rental Management companies such as website development, traffic generation and channel management.

What is FASTBOOKING focus in 2018 in Asia?

FASTBOOKING’s focus in 2018 is to provide innovative solutions to independent hotels and regional chains to help them grow their online distribution and to maximise their profits. Japan, Thailand, Greater China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and now Australia & New Zealand are key areas where we will continue to expand and to intensify on local support.

EcomEye.com Southeast Asia eCommerceMinz Buii @ EcomEye interviews top founders/investors/experts to share their insights about How to scale up a startup/raise fund/build a team/expand to a new market. Minz also writes his own growth-hacking thought on How a retailer goes ecommerce, boosting traffic to a website/app, improving conversion rate & online revenue from his hands-on skills (strategic positioning, SEO, social media, content marketing) in different startups and corporates,… All about Growth-Hacking eCommerce in Southeast Asia
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