Group bookings make US$100bil for hotels, or 20-40% of reservations worldwide
Agents in Johor Baru, KL, Manila, Denpasar and Mumbai; expanding rapidly
UK-headquartered Hotels.tv has launched in Singapore, seeking to grab a share of the growing domestic MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing & Exhibitions) industry.
Hotels.tv is a global hotel-booking agency founded in 2010, specialising in booking accommodation for events, groups and companies.
To aid in its expansion, the company has appointed Brian Frissyn as managing director of its Singapore operations. Frissyn is also the owner and general manager of Chalex Pte Ltd, an event management solutions provider.
Hotels.tv chief executive officer Harrison Brown noted that Singapore hosted 3.5 million business travellers in 2013, was voted Asia's top convention city for the 12th consecutive year, and is “becoming an increasingly important MICE hub” around Asia and the world.
“To take on it, we're proud to appoint Brian Frissyn, a multinational corporation veteran who has over 15 years of event management, sales and strategic marketing experience,” he said in an official statement.
According to an Economic Impact Analysis (EIA) study commissioned by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and conducted by Frost & Sullivan, MICE activities accounted for approximately S$3.7 billion (US$2.8 billion) or 1.1% of Singapore’s gross domestic product in 2012. In 2008, it accounted for 0.9%.
STB assistant chief executive Neeta Lachmandas said that the Meetings segment contributes the highest proportion at 55.4% of total economic impact.
“Beyond the direct economic benefits, MICE also contributed in terms of networking opportunities, branding of Singapore and cross-industry skill sharing,” she added.
Hotels.tv is “bullish” about its business opportunity in Singapore, touting its experience, prices, and service.
By providing a free dedicated full service local agent, clients gain another staff member to assist in their events’ success. After booking hotels around the globe for more than 20 years, the company claimed it is well-versed in understanding the needs of large-scale and boutique MICE events.
Frissyn noted that conference producers and event organisers often do not have the resources, time, relationships and volume to negotiate good deals with the hotels.
“We currently see an opportunity in the hotel booking experience which often leaves visitors on their own, with little information and guidance,” he added.
In an email to Digital News Asia (DNA), Frissyn said the company recent kicked off its expansion in South-East Asia.
“Currently we have agents in Johor Baru, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Denpasar and Mumbai, and are expanding rapidly. At the moment, these agents work independently or have small teams.
“In Singapore, we’re a team of four. In terms of the hotels, we can work with all the hotels but typically try to work with selected hotels to drive the majority of our business,” he said.
Frissyn said the company aims to grow market share by working with conference and event organisers who don’t have the resources or time to invest in accommodation for their guests.
“The benefits are clear – our biggest challenge is to convince people to move away from their traditional way of working, which is taking much of their time and [also] not giving them the best deals, which translates into a cumbersome booking experience for their visitors,” he added.
Improving the organiser experience
Hotels.tv is the brainchild of Harrison and Cheryl Brown, who founded their first booking website for London called Hotels-london.co.uk in 1998, which was later acquired by Laterooms.com (TUI Plc) in 2008.
“During this time, it became apparent there was a need to treat companies, groups and events privately with local support to help book multiple rooms, which generally have greater requirements,” said Frissyn (pic)
“In 1998, there was no online booking technology, so we were pioneers of online booking systems and developed the ability to have a private area as well as a public website – creating a very unique booking system which can be linked to an organiser’s website,” he claimed.
In 2010, the global franchise model was created as it was vital that each city have a local representative, concentrating on helping those companies, groups and events which needed local assistance and a private booking area.
The company remains a self-funded enterprise with the participation of a few smaller investors.
According to Hotels.tv, group hotel bookings for conferences, events and clubs (typically five to 200 hotel rooms) generate US$100 billion for worldwide hotels, and account for 20-40% of hotel room reservations.
“Traditionally, group bookings are conducted offline and are a very manual process – an inefficient and frustrating situation for both group organisers and hotels,” said Frissyn.
The company markets itself on the promise that it can book anyone or any group into any hotel in the world, with customised negotiated rates.
Touting its local relationships and global client base, Hotels.tv aims to provide clients with an abundance of hotels that will suit them and their guests.
It also claims to be unique amongst all other hotel booking sites because of its group bookings facilitation technology and Private Booking Areas.
Different people within a group or attending an event have access to an exclusive booking area with allocated rooms, rates and availability, specifically for them.
Passkey is an important competitor – however, the concept is slightly different as its main focus is on the technology and it does do not offer the personal service component.
In addition, the Hotels.tv claims clients have access to exclusive rates, and preferred availability and perks that are usually reserved for VIPs – this includes added value such as breakfast, upgrades, late check-outs and room inclusions.
This provides corporate booking benefits that were previously unavailable to frequent business travellers, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), MICE organisers and attendees.
“Our platform can create private booking areas specifically for events which allows us to negotiate rates and value adds specifically for our guests, behind a closed area,” said Frissyn.
For partnering hotels, it offers a seamless process to integrate with Hotels.tv to keep occupancy rates high. The platform allows hoteliers to easily manage multiple room rates for their various clients and events.
Besides being able to receive bookings automatically, guests can book 24/7 and receive instant confirmation. Finally, payment can be settled upon checkout.
According to Frissyn, the platform is built with proprietary technology elements, offering all the features of a public online booking site combined with unique functionality to facilitate private areas for group bookings (more than 10 rooms), which can be password-protected for private transactions between hotel and guest, group, and/ or company.
It boasts an advanced Content Management area, Hotel Extranet, and can manage rates and availability directly from hotels, via affiliates and channel managers such as Siteminder and EZYield.
With a global network of agents, Hotels.tv claims to have processed more than US$110 million of bookings worldwide.
Its revenue model is based on commissions from hotels on each booking, and the company is IATA-licensed like any travel agency. “So hotels know they have to pay us a commission,” said Frissyn.
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