Saurabh Chawla, Vice President Development at the Louvre Hotels Group is revolutionising its digital strategy – and learning things from China along the way. He spoke to ITB Berlin News about the inspiration behind the hotel group’s bold new digital strategy.
Our digital strategy started by redef ining the needs of our customers and the customer journey, both online and offline, to design the best experiences. Digital technology should remove all the pain-points of the journey and enhance the customer experience. Every technology implemented is tested with the end-user in mind.
In terms of digital technology, we launched the mobile key in 2017 and are about to launch our new web and mobile platforms with the latest technology. By the end of the year, we should also launch our new app. We are currently analysing the best way to use new technology such as Chatbot and AI to further enhance the customer experience.
What can Europe learn from China, and vice-versa?
China can teach us how to harness the power of social media into commercial delivery. The Whatsapp/facebook equivalent in China is Wechat, and it’s used not only to sell hotels but also to pay for rooms. Its CRS, Wehotel, is integrated with Wechat and is able to produce three bookings every second. What China can learn from Europe is destination marketing: how Europe is able to induce international demand to smaller destinations by way of destination marketing is something the Chinese could learn and implement. The country size is huge and each area has a significant potential to open up to more international tourism
What’s changing in the way you work with OTAs?
They are not our enemies. So we try to find synergies to work the best as possible with them and satisfy our clients. We have been established long term relationships with the OTAs and are also increasing the number of partners to reach new markets such as China and India, and thus bring new businesses to our hotels.
What is the overall strategy of Jing Jiang in Europe in terms of growth / evolution?
The overall strategy is rather simple, and that is to be one of the largest hotel groups in the world. Europe is also seen as the most strategic for JJ, specially France, Germany, the UK and Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic). This is where our focus has been since last year. Growth in Europe is expected not only through organic growth by way of leasing, management agreements and franchising, but also through acquisition of large regional platforms.
Photo: Saurabh Chawla Vice President Development, Louvre Hotels Group