Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why knowing where app users go & what they do in the physical world matters?


We love Mobile
Mobile happens also to be the most rapidly adopted consumer technology in history. The mobile revolution we experience is and has been happening around us and transforming the way we live, work, learn, travel, shop, and stay connected. 
As it often happens, as one door opens another closes, in this case, it closes on many desktop and stationery technologies and solutions, to mention a few: Pay phones, Desktop computers,  Landline phones, even personal and casual communications on email has been taken over for the most part by mobile chat services from Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, line and more 
Here are a few stats that demonstrates the shift to mobile we experience: 
  • Americans spend an average of 4.7 Hours A Day On Their Smartphones
  • Mobile drives nearly half of E-Commerce traffic
  • 65% of emails are opened on mobile
  • As of 2014, the number of Mobile users surpassed Desktop users and the trend is strengthening 
One of the main takeaways for mobile users is the ability to get things done On-The-Go and take with us the many things we like to do, wherever we go.
The price of the convenience and improved productivity takes different forms, from 4G / 3G network slowness, always keeping an eye on battery levels and places to recharge, fighting for people’s’ attention, even family members and friends of whom many always seem to be so consumed and preoccupied by their mobile devices and off course, the loss of privacy by allowing the WWW, big brother, companies and organizations gain access to us through our mobile device beyond the desktop PC and into our pocket, bag or purse, wherever we go, almost 24-7. 

We Love Mobile apps & Personalized content and offers
Mobile apps > Big data > Personalization
Letting the WWW, big brother, companies and organizations gain access into our lives 24/7 and learning how we live and behave in the physical world, including: our location, places we go and frequent, actions we take in these places and more open a new world of possibilities in Personalizing our interactions. 
What’s interesting is that what a few years ago might have turned off most of us, is now welcomed, even expected by many of us. Leading the adaptation of Personalization in mobile are Mobile Apps, here are a few interesting facts: 
  • A solid 50% of people say the #1 reason they download apps are to receive discounts and special offers.
  • 68% of people have enabled push notifications
  • 86% of mobile time is spent online is within apps
  • On Average, push notifications Drive 5x more in-app activity than email
  • The vast majority of users (85 percent) preferred mobile apps over mobile websites. – Apps are perceived as more convenient (55 percent), faster. (48 percent) and easier to browse (40 percent).
  • 57% of consumers have downloaded apps from their favorite brands. (71% of younger consumers ages 18-34 have done so)
  • More consumers nationwide are predicted to get on the mobile payments wagon over the next five years, and analysts expect the amount to reach $90 billion by the end of 2017.
  • 46% under 50 would like personalized offers sent to their smartphones while shopping in-store
  • Personalized push notifications strategy can increase app engagement by average of 36%
  • 67% of respondents under the age of 50 are also interested in a totally mobile path to purchase.
  • 63% of consumers are more likely to buy something from a retailer if they receive a coupon on their mobiledevices while shopping in the retailer’s store
  • 60% of consumers want real-time offers and promotions however retailers are falling behind on delivering this expectation with only 28% having the capability to deliver that service.

So the stats speak for themselves:
- We love Mobile, we love Mobile Apps, we love Personalized content and offers.

What if I can provide you with the data and platform you need to take your App Personalization to the next level: Knowing WHICH Brands and Places your and other app users visit and engage in the physical world & HOW, in real-time, as it happens?

App Developers and Early adopters:
For a limited time only, it’s available for free; simply use This Link to Download Woorlds SDK

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Images by: Enokson

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hotelier sees 86% Boost in Direct Bookings with BookingDirection


With Price playing such a major role in Online Hotel Bookings, 85% based on Google research, online shoppers price-shop regularly and seek price comparison data prior to booking hotel accommodations.

Hotelier, would you rather,
1. Provide, live and accurate price comparison data on your website, so they can compare and book direct?
– or -
2. Prefer online shoppers seek this data elsewhere, and take a chance they’ll remember to come back to you to book?

In other words – Hoteliers need not only establish value and be competitively priced in the marketplace, but also make sure online shoppers getprice comparison data, conveniently and strategically, right at the point of purchase, at the hotel’s website.


We are tracking the performance of our solution and I wanted to share some numbers for the month of April 2015, as a preview to a case study that will follow soon:

A hotel in Singapore sees , ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?!  86% Boost in Direct Bookings with BookingDirection.

Additional interesting facts:
A. Over $10,000 Saved in Commission payouts to OTAs
B. Online shoppers who interacted with BookingDirection are 2 times more likely to Book.
C. BookingDirection sent 10% of all website shoppers into the Hotel’s booking funnel-pages


…Question?
How will 86% Boost in Direct Bookings with BookingDirection affect your bottom line?

Launched at Q1 2015 as an answer to a challenge by hoteliers to develop a solution that increases Direct Bookings on hotel website, has since been implemented on both chain and independent hotels worldwide.

BookingDirection, provides online shoppers the price transparency they need to support their buying process, right on the hotel website, where buying decisions are being made, showing online shoppers the Hotel’s price, side-by-side with the OTAs prices.
 >>> GET STARTED  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Hoteliers Big Challenge begets a No-Brainer Solution


Last year, on separate calls, a number of hoteliers, who happen to also be clients, shared with us a concern they all had in common, and taking their word for it, many more hoteliers share:
The persistent decrease in margins on their online channel.
One thing led to another as it often does, and before we knew it,  Challenge followed:

- Develop a solution that can help
ONE: Increase Direct Bookings on our hotel’s website,
TWO: Reduce commission payouts to OTAs in the process.


This challenge put us on fact-finding journey I thought was worth sharing, because my team and I learned some interesting facts about the hotel online booking business, facts many hoteliers I spoke with, have not known prior to our conversation. So here we go,

We learned the cup is half Empty:
A. OTA Commissions keep Rising
The hospitality industry is experiencing shrinking margins on the online channel, due to the persisting increase in OTA commissions.
B. OTAs are the 800Lbs Gorillas in the hospitality online booking space
Increasing dominance of the OTA’s in the online booking space, as a result of mergers, consolidations and steady increase in advertising spend:
Expedia 2014 marketing  spend was $2.8 Billion [Tnooz], up from $2.2 Billion in 2013 [Statista]. Booking.com’s parent company Priceline spent nearly $2.6 Billion in 2014 [Skift] up $1.8 Billion in 2013 [Bloomberg].


We learned it is half Full too:
A. OTAs are introducing your hotel to online shoppers:
Many online shoppers learn about your hotel for the 1st time on an OTA like Expedia, Booking.com etc.
B. Most will visit your website:
52% of online shoppers introduced to your hotel on an OTA, will visit a hotel website [Google research]
C. Vast majority of online shoppers rely on Price as main decision factor 
85% of online shoppers admit price is the main factor influencing their decision on which hotel to pick.[Google research]


Armed with the knowledge that at 85%, Price is the most important decision factor in online hotel bookings we proceeded to check what the leading OTAs have to say about this topic:

Booking.com: “Hotels: Booking.com – Lowest Price Guarantee‎” - WELL THAT’S A BLUFF!
Expedia:“Secure incredible value with Expedia’s Best Price Guarantee” - THAT’S ANOTHER BLUFF!

With Rate Parity contingencies enforced by OTAs, prices on OTAs and Hotel websites should be identical. If that is the case, as demanded by OTAs, why do OTAs claim to offer “Lowest Price Guarantee‎”? and  “Best Price Guarantee”? Because they feel they need to Bluff to convince online shoppers to choose them, a resellers, over buying from the source = the hotel website.

Next step was a No-Brainer:
We designed our solution, BookingDirection, providing online shoppers the price transparency they need to support their buying process, right on the hotel website, where buying decisions are being made, showing online shoppers the Hotel’s price, side-by-side with the OTAs prices.

We launched Q1 2015 and are busy helping hoteliers increase Direct Bookings on their websites. Due to the overwhelming demand and positive response, we have a small backlog.  >>> Add your hotel to the implementation queue and we’ll get back to when your turn is up.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2 Winning Initiatives for Hoteliers wanting to Increase Direct Bookings


The hotel online booking scene, for Hoteliers is a mixed basket, holding both difficulties and opportunities. In layman’s terms, the following are obvious:

Getting the negative out of the way:
Hoteliers are fighting a losing battle against Internet Savvy and Big spending OTAs and MetaSearches for the attention of online shoppers because:
1. OTAs and MetaSearches buy all the top search results on Google
2. In many cases, online shoppers skip search altogether, starting their shopping journey for a hotel on an OTA or Metasearch website.

How much are OTAs spending on advertising?
Priceline Group increased its advertising spending 34.5 percent to nearly $2.6 billion in 2014 while Expedia Inc.’s 2014 advertising expense jumped 33.3 percent to $1.6 billion [Skift]
         – How many independent Hotels or Hotel chains have such an advertising budget?

Another area where Hoteliers are challenged is shrinking direct bookings originating from call-ins [making online direct bookings more important then ever.]

Focusing on making a Positive impact :

Successful Hoteliers go back to basics when it comes to Increasing Direct Booking, by taking initiatives to:

A. Incentivize online shoppers, year-round, to Book Direct by offering loyalty and membership programs, free WiFi, free upgrades, free [and discounted] goodies at the bar, spa or restaurant etc.

B. Leverage new technology solutions, on their website to engage and direct more shoppers to the Direct Booking channel.

Such initiatives help hoteliers cover two bases:
1. Get the word out that the best deals are at the hotel websites [not the OTAs]
2. Turn their customers to loyal followers and repeat customers.

- Which of the above initiatives has your chain, or independent hotel taken in 2015 to Increase Direct Bookings?

Solution:
BookingDirection’s technology works on your Hotel’s website to Increase Direct bookings by providing online shoppers the OTA web experience and price transparency they have grown to like — e.g. showing them “all” the prices in the marketplace, and proving that the hotel has the lowest price. In so doing, the need to comparison shop is eliminated.

Why pay commissions to OTAs when you can get more direct bookings?

Bottom line, EARN MORE by, increasing the percentage of website shoppers booking directly with you and reduce commission payout to OTA’s.

We’re in closed beta, helping hoteliers to get more direct bookings.
We launched Q1 2015 and are busy helping hoteliers increase Direct Bookings on their websites. Due to the overwhelming demand and positive response, we have a small backlog.  >>> Add your hotel to the implementation queue and we’ll get back to when your turn is up.
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Hoteliers are calling out the OTAs ‘Best Price’ Bluff


Top 2 value propositions OTAs have been selling to shoppers are :He's Bluffing!

1. OTAs offer most variety and options….maybe
2. OTAs offer Best Price….. now that’s a Bluff!

Shoppers, at least for the most part, are NOT aware of Rate parity provisions imposed by OTAs on hoteliers, putting hotels prices across channels, from the hotel’s own website to the OTAs websites in parity, offering hotel accommodation at the Same exact Rate = Price.

Some say Rate parity helps hotels avoid confusion over price points across different distribution channels. That might have been a positive point IF the cost of securing bookings across these channels was similar.

Problem is, with OTAs commissions ranging from 15-22%, their impact on revenue margins makes the OTAs distribution channels very expensive.

Rate parity is indeed an obstacle for a hotel that wants to differentiate between distribution channels, for example favoring a particular channel likeDirect Bookings on it’s own website, training shoppers to go there for the best price.

It is not a surprise that one of the hottest topics for Hotel Revenue managers now is, Increasing Direct Bookings on their hotel websites, and relying less on OTA bookings to improve revenue margins.

2 Important facts we know about online Shoppers for hotel accommodations:
A. Price is King: With 85% of travelers surveyed saying that PRICE is the most important factor when determining where to book. [according to a Google research]

B. They [Online Shoppers] are on YOUR website: 52% of shoppers will visit your hotel’s website after seeing you on an OTA [according to a Google research]

How do we make A+B above work for hoteliers: Call the OTAs Best Price Bluff!
We will show those 52% of shoppers that saw your hotel on the OTA a price comparison, proving rates are the same or higher on OTAs [remember Price Parity], removing their motivation to return to the OTAs to book with no savings. Why buy from a distributor or a re-seller when you can buy from the source, when you’re right there, on the hotel’s website, especially if the price is the same?

Solution:
BookingDirection’s technology works on your Hotel’s website to increase direct bookings by providing online shoppers the OTA web experience and price transparency they have grown to like — e.g. showing them “all” the prices in the marketplace, and proving that the hotel has the lowest price. In so doing, the need to comparison shop is eliminated.
Bottom line, EARN MORE by, increasing the percentage of website shoppers booking directly with you and reduce commission payout to OTA’s.
We’re in closed beta, helping hoteliers to get more direct bookings. Join the waiting list and we’ll contact you once additional hoteliers are added.
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Monday, February 16, 2015

OTAs, Friend or Foe? How are They Killing your Direct bookings?



OTAs are dominating online travel booking, in many cases accounting for 76% of hotel bookings online and in some cases a lot more.

In this reality, many hotels rely on OTAs for booking rooms, which raises 2 questions:

What is the cost?
Is there alternative?

-Before answering these questions, for those who don’t know, let’s take a closer look at a some OTA facts:

Booking.com, owned and operated by US based Priceline. 
Booking.com offers online accommodation booking. It claims to have over 540,000 properties globally under contract and that it deals with more than 700,000 room nights reservations per day. In 2013, it accounted for more than two thirds of Priceline’s revenue. Booking.com is available in more than 41 languages [Wikipedia]
Some more figures:
Booking.com’s parent Priceline.com, with a US$ 52.79 Billion market cap, has an estimated annual revenue of US $8.5 Billion for 2014 [businessweek.com]
Expedia: with a US$ 10.56 Billion market cap, has an estimated Estimated annual revenue of US $5.7 Billion for 2014 [businessweek.com]
Orbitz, with a US$ 1.01 Billion market cap, has Estimated Estimated annual revenue of US $937 Million for 2014 [businessweek.com]
-Looking at these numbers, it is clear OTAs are highly specialized and effective online booking machines, backed by the financial strength a few hotels posses. Competing head to head with them on online traffic, at least in most cases, would be in the worst case scenario a suicide, otherwise a sum zero game.

Industry Facts:
Most shoppers BEGIN their shopping for hotel accommodations at the OTAs, who happen to control a substantial percentage of travel and hotel traffic online [=fill top search results] At 85%, PRICE is the most important factor in selecting a hotel.[according to a Google research] 76% of online bookings happen through OTAs leaving only 24% who book directly. [according to a wihp reserch] 52% of shoppers VISIT the Hotel’s website as part of their research, PRIOR to booking [according to a Google research]

Looking at both the OTAs and Industry facts, brings me back to the 2 questions at the top of this post,

Q: What is the cost?
A: OTA’s charge between 15-22% (And sometimes even more) commission for every booking, that translates to a big monthly check hotels cut and send to the likes of Booking.com, Expedia, Orbitz etc.

Q: Is there an alternative? 
A: Yes, Get More Direct Bookings
76% of online bookings happen through OTAs however 52% of shoppers will visit your hotel’s website after seeing you on an OTA and before making their reservation elsewhere. Why not stop them on your website and make them buy directly from you? Why pay commissions to OTAs for indirect booking?

Solution:
BookingDirection’s technology works on your Hotel’s website to increase direct bookings by providing online shoppers the OTA web experience and price transparency they have grown to like — e.g. showing them “all” the prices in the marketplace, and proving that the hotel has the lowest price. In so doing, the need to comparison shop is eliminated.

Bottom line, EARN MORE by, increasing the percentage of website shoppers booking directly with you and reduce commission payout to OTA’s.

We’re in closed beta, helping hoteliers to get more direct bookings. Join the waiting list and we’ll contact you once additional hoteliers are added.

Image by: haley7

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

2 Top Reasons Shoppers Prefer Booking with OTAs over Hotels Websites

Following hundreds of conversations with hoteliers in the past months, one pain was almost a constant: shrinking revenue margins due to OTAs.

Add to that, the following facts, OTAs are controlling hotel bookings online with their, huge marketing budgets and options & variety to shoppers, and that so many hotels rely on OTAs for an important, sometimes significant, portion of bookings.

The result:
Hoteliers and OTAs end up with a dysfunctional relationship that can be best described as one matching the ‘hate and can’t live without’ type.
Unfortunately for hoteliers in this fast paced online economy, at least for the foreseen future, OTAs are here to stay and Hoteliers need to learn how to better compete, to have a winning chance in direct-bookings.

Some more interesting facts:
76% of online bookings happen on OTA websites [according to a wihp research], however, the good news is 52% of shoppers will visit your hotel’s website after seeing you on an OTA [according to a Google research], you know, to get a better look at your location and facilities. Another industry fact, you guessed right, 85% of travelers surveyed said that PRICE is the most important factor when determining where to book. [according to a Google research]

Questions is: Why shoppers prefer booking with OTAs over hotels websites?

1. Shoppers believe that OTAs automatically have lower prices when it comes to hotel rooms as opposed to actual hotel websites.

2. Being the sophisticated, optimized and specialized multibillion [and million] online businesses they are, OTAs have created a shopping experience that leverages a smooth, responsive and multilingual user experience that is second to none.

So after bringing up boring facts that are, at least to some extent, known to most hoteliers, I would like to share with you a solution we have been working on,

BookingDirection’s technology works on your Hotel’s website to increase direct bookings by providing online shoppers the OTA web experience and price transparency they have grown to like — e.g. showing them “all” the prices in the marketplace, and proving that the hotel has the lowest price. In so doing, the need to comparison shop is eliminated.

Bottom line, EARN MORE by, increasing the percentage of website shoppers booking directly with you and reduce commission payout to OTA’s.

We’re in closed beta, helping hoteliers to get more direct bookings. Join the waiting list and we’ll contact you once additional hoteliers are added.


Image by: Dennis Skley