Tim Hentschel, CEO of Hotelplanner.com and Meetings.com – the world’s top platforms for group bookings – talks to ITB Berlin News about what he sees as being the biggest industry trend this year…
AirBnB is starting to have a real impact in the major city markets globally, especially over compression dates – spikes over big events. For example, looking at the rates for four or five star hotels just a few weeks out from the London Marathon, they are way below forecast. So many of those people who would have paid three or four hundred pounds a night for a room in the city centre are opting for a two bedroom flat for two hundred pounds or less. A lot of hotels used to hold back inventory for the last-minute individual booker at a higher rate than giving it to groups, but now that’s changing.
What’s happening with your business?
We have been aggressively expanding into the corporate market with Meetings.com. We’ve launched a SaaS model for group net rates for corporates and that’s been well received. We’ve also launched a SaaS model on the hotel side too. We have just taken over the ERP for BestWestern.com and that’s been going really well. We have also done a lot of work on our mobile web versions and our mobile leads are up by around 30%.
You have just announced the acquisition of InternetHotels. com and Hotelsatanywhere.com, which specialize in search engine optimisation to book hotel rooms. Please tell us a little more…
The company has been in business since 1998 and established a solid base of customers that book hotels online. Both brands will immediately start using HotelPlanner’s hotel booking technology which will improve conversion thereby increasing total bookings. HotelPlanner’s strategy is to continue to acquire valuable hotel online sales companies where the company can implement its technology to immediately improve reservation performance.
How does it look for this year’s European Group Travel Awards?
We already sold out at the beginning of February! This year we have also added a new category: Best Sports Event for groups. This has been very well received, with the attendance of the Rugby, Football, Euroleague Basketball, Wimbledon, PGA, Professional Darts, Cricket… the list goes on. We have more sponsors than ever before, including Big Bus Tours, who are sponsoring the reception. We’ve got Travelport, Best Western, Choice Hotels, Wyndham, Priceline, Expedia, Taj Hotels… some great sponsors