This post is in response to all the feedback we have received from the questionnaire we sent out last week.
First, we want to say a BIG thank you to those of you who took the time to answer our questionnaire and for being part of our journey. We also want to answer some of the feedback we received and tell you all what direction we are headed as a company.
We want to get you as close as possible to your customers and are working hard at being able to offer more ways to accept payment. In Asia, this presents a real difficulty as many 3-star hotels only accept cash or local bank transfers.
In order to be able to scale, our primary focus is on working with global payment providers. We will be able to offer your hotel a full Stripe integration soon. If you already have a Stripe account, we can easily forward payments directly to your account.
Some of you asked us to take payments directly from the customer and forward it to you. Our goal has always been to take a step back and connect you with your customers directly. Cancellations, refunds, and payments should be between the two main parties; the hotel and the traveler. This is something we will continue working towards.
One thing we have noticed is that most hotels do not have a company credit card. As a result, it is difficult for hotels to work with subscription-based services that automatically charge a monthly fee. Hotel owners and GM do not want to use their own credit cards for this purpose. That is something we highly recommend hotels make an effort to procure. It will make embracing the future that much easier.
Selling hotel rooms is one of the most difficult things you can do online. The sheer number of features hotels need to create rate plans and promotions is staggering. The complexities in this area is only matched by airline pricing.
We had several roundtable discussions with large hotel chains and brands to understand what type of features to support for them to be able to sell their rooms on our platform.
You are right. Setting up rate plans and promotions is not easy. Believe us when we say we feel your pain. Know that we are listening to your feedback and are making weekly improvements.
A couple of weeks ago, we simplified the promotion section after listening to a lot of your daily issues. Promotions now consist of single and bundled promotions. They no longer overlap. If you want overlapping promotions, you have to create a bundled promotion. The user always sees the best price.
Our promotion engine is used by many large hotel chains and we are proud to say that it is [probably] the most advanced promotion platform on the market today. Once you get used to it, you are able to do incredible things; much more than just your early bird and long term discounts.
Our next step to making incremental improvements is simplifying the “Master Rate” analogy. We understand it has created unnecessary work on your end.
One of our main priorities is to get integrated with your PMS or your channel manager. This work is VERY time consuming and every integration is based on how many of our hotels are currently working with a specific channel manager. If you are using a small, local, channel manager with only a few hotels, that is, unfortunately, a lower priority for us.
We understand that we cannot integrate with the 1500+ PMSs and channel managers out there in the foreseeable future. However, we are already working with some of the most popular ones in the industry and we do have some fun updates, which we will report on soon.
If we don’t support your channel manager right now, you can still manually allocate us inventory so your property is visible through our channels. We understand that is not ideal but it is a way to start the journey.
Our #1 feedback from you was about bookings. You are telling us Traveliko.com doesn’t produce enough for you… and we hear you.
Here’s the simple answer: We cannot compete [as an OTA] against booking.com or expedia.com or any other large OTA that has been around much longer than we have and we don’t have 100+ millions of dollars to spend to advertise against OTAs or you on PPC. That is not how we want to operate, we are offering you a service to help you regain control over your online distribution.
What we have given you is an OTA that allows you to sell and market your inventory in a different way and for free. We created a ZERO commission OTA purposefully for you to have a completely different way to sell all your inventory. We highlight eco-friendly hotels, hotels that cater to other lifestyles and hotels that offer up attractive package deals and much more. On Traveliko.com, it is not just about price.
Our OTA addresses the larger experience travelers want to engage with before making a purchase. It’s no longer about just the room with breakfast. It enables you to freely sell more than you would ever want to sell with the other large OTAs because the commissions are too high. It allows you to compete for free against the large OTAs with a better product.
Unfortunately, 99% of the hotels currently on our platform, treat their profile exactly the same way they do on booking.com: “Room with breakfast”.
If we are to help you help yourself, you have to STEP UP and jump into the digital age with full force. Work and effort are required of you. All hotels lost their customers and their voices to large OTAs 30 years ago because it was convenient. They did the hard work for you.
Traveliko.com is there for you to help yourself. The more hotels and inventory we can show potential travelers, the more chance you have to get COMPLETELY FREE bookings where you own your customer and get to keep all the money. We were hoteliers just like you and we created this for all of us. Spread the word.
While we are working on improving the platform on a daily basis, we are also out talking about what’s happening in the travel industry and the paradigm shift that is about to occur. No one actually knows how travel works so we step in to fill the gap.
Hotels also need to learn how to go digital and to use that potential revenue channel to their maximum benefit. It starts with hiring the best people you can find for your digital revenue management team. These are your new MVPs. Compensate them as such or they will leave.
The bigger story is iko.travel. It is a distribution platform we have been working on for 6 years. The travel industry is ready for the platform effect. For far too long, we’ve all been working within silos.
It gives you access to customer data, allows you to save on costs by doing your online work in one place and selling your inventory across multiple channels and travel segments. Traveliko.com is just one such channel and is powered by inventory from the iko.travel platform API.
Platform vs Silo
Silos are also referred to as “single-point solutions”. In isolation, the system works perfectly well but they don’t intermingle. You can tell it’s a silo when
- Data is not shared / accessible
- Systems do not interconnect
- Data is uni-directional
- Data cannot be re-used
- Features are only available within the silo
- Silos lack collaboration
Outside of the travel space, Amazon is an example of a successful silo. As an Amazon Seller, you can sell your wares through their website but the customers belong to Amazon. The branded experience is Amazon’s. Amazon does not make its e-commerce services available to anyone.
You can tell it’s a platform when
- Data is accessible
- Systems can talk to each other
- Data is bi-directional
- Data can be repurposed to create other services
- Features are accessible to everyone on the platform
- Collaboration is possible
- Insights across users / departments / applications
In the same e-commerce space, a great example, and the counterpart to Amazon is Shopify. Shopify is an e-commerce platform that provides sellers with all the tools they need to run their own e-commerce web sites. Software vendors can integrate and offer up their own tools on Shopify, such as website templates, plugins, payment methods and more.
Both silos and platforms are valid business models. In the long run, I would venture to say that the platform approach is more profitable and less costly one overtime for all parties involved.
As a business owner, you need to know the pros and cons and how it affects your bottom line and the way to do business when working with either model. Here are a few things you can ask yourself:
- Am I digitally savvy enough to sell my inventory online?
- Do I gain from owning my customers?
- Is my brand strong?
- Are my products attractive/unique?
- Are my products niche that needs a different way to sell?
If you answered “Yes” to these, you should consider selling on a Shopify. If your product is a “run of the mill” generic product without brand recognition and you’re not really good at selling, letting Amazon sell it for you is probably your best bet.
A product can be easily sold on both. It’s your sales, marketing, branding, customer support and online skills that will give you a good indication of where you will be making the most money.
A platform approach is a complete paradigm shift in the way you sell travel inventory.
Do you know the actual cost of a direct booking? When you add the technical costs of doing business online with your e-commerce, sales & marketing team, ad budget, you end up at roughly ~25-30% of the room price. It is currently cheaper to put all your inventory up on expedia.com or booking.com and pay their commission. The issue is not necessarily the commission but the way large OTAs conduct their business and undercut your hotel price as they fight against each other to acquire your customers. In the end what’s at stake here is customers ownership.Yann Gouriou – CEO iko.travel
Our goal is to lower your total cost of selling travel inventory online and to make your inventory available to retail, corporate and travel agency segments; all the while retaining ownership of your customer, analytics and in control overpayment and fulfillment.
Together with other amazing travel tech providers, we have created an online marketplace for you to choose all the tools you need to get the job done. It starts with the basics such as web hosting, site creation, SEO and analytics, to more advanced tools such as channel managers, yield management and rate parity solutions. We are going for an opinionated approach. There are a million and one options out there. We only offer those solutions we know are the best choice [cost vs features] for the average hotel.
When people think about hotels, the big brands always come to mind but in reality they represent the minority. Most businesses currently suffering from the silos and fragmentation are the independent hotels. B&Bs, Motels, Hostels, Inns are the ones that stand to benefit the most from a paradigm shift in the way to do business online.Yann Gouriou – CEO iko.travel
We have also created channels for you to sell your travel inventory exactly the way you like. You can apply commissions and promotions to everyone at the same time or a single travel agent, corporation or 3rd party site. It’s completely up to you how you choose to make your inventory available to these channels and segments.
Booking Engine and Unified API
For that purpose, we have created a direct booking engine that can be embedded on your brand.com site as well anywhere else. Similar components are available to anyone that wants to sell travel inventory on their own websites.
Finally, our platform is powering travel startups of the future. Instead of spending years on integration, new startups can leverage our unified API to create new services or repurpose our content in new and exciting ways. We want your inventory to experience the platform effect and be available for purchase anywhere.
There’s much more to come and we want you to be excited about the paradigm shift that’s happening in your industry right now.