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The future of hospitality is that of mobility, reputation management and engagement

October 7, 2014 Conferences No Comments Email Email

The Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Asia Pacific’s 10thAnnual AsiaConnect Conference was held in Singapore on September 3, 2014 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo & Conference Center. The conference brought to bear insights about the market and hospitality industry that benefited all participants.

Pin Tsin Go, Territory Manager – Southeast Asia at TripAdvisor for Business informed delegates that people are still making travel plans and that their budget for travel is increasing globally by 9%. What’s important to travelers is connectivity and along with affordability so that they can stay and spend more during their travels. Therefore, price is key, but only when coupled with a positive experience, which builds the online reputation of a property. Moreover, pictures are essential – 73% of TripAdvisor users used photos from other travellers to make a decision to book, and 75% of members were more likely to use a business with a TripAdvisor endorsementunnamed (18)

Go said that only 1 in 4 hotels is taking advantage of TripAdvisor’s management centre to help manage their property’s reputation online. Typically, the more mature the property is, the better the reviews they receive. She also said that reviews are typically positive. “48% of reviews receive a 5 bubbles rating and 30% a 4 star rating. The average review scorer is 4.12.”

Conference delegates also learned the secret to the factors that influence a property’s popularity ranking. The factors include the quality of reviews received (that is, how well the property is rated), how fresh the content is and the quantity of reviews.

Peter Ollerton, Director of Business Development – South Pacific and North Asia for Nor1 shared his belief that hoteliers should develop mobile as an ancillary sales tool to reach guests throughout the entire travel lifecycle.

“Mobile represents ancillary revenue opportunities as it promotes last minute in-house sales for F&B, spa or golf packages, for example”, observed Ollerton. “Travellers spend 42% of their money before the trip and 58% during the trip.”

John Mims, Chief Connector & Managing Partner of The Hunting Ridge Group, led a panel to discuss “The voice of the customer”. Farin Salleh, GM of amcasia, Janet Tan-Collis, CEO of East West Planners, John Bowen, CEO of MediaConcepts, Laurens van den Oever, Global Director Travel & Tourism for GfK and Mike Lee, VP of Sales for Marina Bay Sands participated in the discussion.

What came out of the discussion was a clear need for technology to help minimize the lead time and decision making that it takes to plan an event.

Janet Tan-Collis said “Even a simple program for 10 people can take up to 50 emails organize”.

The panel discussed the need for transparency with venue bookings. For example, a customer may book a venue or seek quotations from event organizers for the same venue to compare prices.

John Mims and Mike Lee said that as a venue sales manager, “You have to be careful how you prepare the initial discussion. You might get the same query from a variety of sources.”

“You have to be transparent with the deal to win over both candidates and the end user. Sometimes it is best to wait to quote until you really know who you are dealing with.”

Asia Connect is HSMAI Asia Pacific’s learning and networking event for hospitality professionals that brings together senior representatives from sales, marketing and revenue management to learn what’s trending and to discover new ways to stay productive and be profitable.

Over the past 10 years 20 Asia Connect events were produced in cities across Asia including Bangkok, Beijing, Hong Kong, Macau, Shanghai and Singapore. A big focus for AsiaConnect 2014 was on ‘Tapping the Growth of the Mobility Marketplace’, The Changing Dynamics of ‘The New Sales Professional’ and ‘The Convergence of Sales, Marketing and Revenue Management’, which calls for greater collaboration across these 3 disciplines.

The entire Asia Pacific Board of Directors was present to congratulate HSMAI Asia Pacific’s outgoing Managing Director Bernadette Dennis, and welcome the incoming President, Jackie Douglas. Special recognition was given to Bernadette Dennis and Christine Toguchi for their dedication and effort over the past decade since HSMAI Asia Pacific was first launched. Christine Toguchi was the Founding Managing Director in 2005, and both Bernadette and Christine were presented with a ‘Lifetime Membership in HSMAI’.

In closing, Jackie Douglas, HSMAI Asia Pacific’s newly appointed President, shared exciting new initiatives planned for 2015, which includes a monthly newsletter to communicate industry news and original content created by HSMAI and their partners, a revenue management certification program (CRME), the establishment of a Advisory Board for Revenue Management for Asia Pacific and a Revenue Optimization Conference (ROC) in Asia.

Partners of AsiaConnect 2014 included Gold Sponsors Nor1 and TripAdvisor;  Table Sponsors Far East Hospitality Management, FRHI Hotels & Resorts, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Tourism Board, and TravelCLICK. Content Sponsors/Partners included Peak Hospitality Solutions, Wiley, Cornell-Nanyang Institute of Hospitality Management, Sabre Hospitality Solutions and Web In Travel (WIT).

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