Partnering with specialists can be preferable to trying to do everything in-house, according to Tui Travel’s director of digital marketing.
Dan Robb joined managing director UK at eDreams ODIGEO Stephanie Uhlig and Alex Robinson, the strategic partnerships manager at HotelTonight, on the speaker line up at Travolution’s first Digital Lunchbox event last week.
After HotelTonight presented its vision of the hotel stay of the future in which an app integrates with other digital service providers as well as internet-enabled functions within the hotel, Robb said:
“The Internet of Things is a brilliant example of where none of us actually have to do it, as long as HotelTonight and businesses like them do it for us.
“There is always a question about your progressive strategy about whether you do it yourself or rely on great third parties and partners.
“HotelTonight is a great example of this in a very difficult and infrastructure-heavy element of the travel business helping others move forward into an area that is demanded by the consumer.
“If someone like HotelTonight can do it for you then get on board, and that goes for Facebook and Google too. It’s a great example of where we need to be.”
Robinson added: “For a long time hoteliers and OTAs had a fractious relationship with regards to commission and mandates about how many rooms you should be allotted and what type of pricing you should have.
“It has been really interesting to see the changes from our perspective. There are no binds like that for us now.
“Hotels have one of the toughest roles in the industry and having a seamless partnership can really help. Hopefully it really shines through for the guests.”
Robb was asked about the ‘threat’ of Google moving further into the travel space, having previously worked at the company before joining Tui last year.
“They are achieving really high conversion rates for hoteliers and intermediaries which can’t be ignored,” he said.
“They have enormous fiscal power, so far they haven’t made any huge statement about moving into package holidays but I would hope that it would provide us with a very economic route to market and ability to differentiate our product, should we choose to participate.
“I don’t think they would do Google package holidays because of the regulatory aspects of it and the need for people but we might see a flight with hotel merchandised cleverly against it, that type of thing.
“You could lie awake at night worrying about what Google is going to do or you just crack on and try and be the best within the environments you create.
“I think they are to be healthily mistrusted, but when they develop great products, if you can get on board early that can be a good thing.”
Speaking from the audience, Si Prentice group marketing director at the Travel Network Group, said: “I think it’s the investment in technology which has put all you guys together.
“One size fits all for our members doesn’t work because they are not as invested in technology. The partnership aspect would work better for us.”