A Shifting Landscape as Hotels Seek Seamlessness
Consolidation is nothing new in the hotel sector as recent years have brought a flurry of mergers. For example, in 2015 ALL (formerly AccorHotels) announced its intent to acquire three hotel brands: Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel. Then in 2016 Marriott International closed on its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, and ALL purchased OneFineStay and John Paul.
Meanwhile, in 2018 Wyndham Worldwide Corp. announced it would acquire La Quinta, and in 2019, Best Western completed its acquisition of WorldHotels. For Best Western, ownership of the WorldHotels brand is key to enhancing Best Western’s luxury and upscale offerings. The WorldHotel properties reap the benefits of the strength of Best Western’s loyalty program, e-commerce platform, and its global distribution network.
In a move to control its own destiny, Best Western also acquired the property management system AutoClerk in 2019.
Greg Adams, SVP and chief digital officer of Best Western told HT at the time of the purchase, “With the PMS, we’ve completed that entire value chain of Best Western owning the two-way connectivity between enterprise systems.”
With the Best Western CRS, the brand already had a logic-layer made up of web services that were developed in-house; he also noted that the brand already owned connections to other third-party OTAs and work with them. “The PMS was worth acquiring,” Adams explained. “It gives us a level of control so we can make sure that we are providing features and functionalities our hotels expect and deserve.”
Tech Mergers Stitch Together a Fractured Marketplace
Last summer, Cendyn, a player in the hotel customer relationship management (CRM) space, acquired The Rainmaker Group, which offers a revenue and profit optimization platform for hotels, resorts and casinos. Cendyn officials tell HT that the deal will enable hoteliers to utilize a single platform to handle sales, marketing and revenue management. Once the two vendors’ platforms have been fully integrated, end-users will be able to tailor rates to individual guests — a capability for which there is growing demand among hoteliers in the wake of heightened competition and the need to leverage personalization to cultivate guest loyalty, notes Lance Echols, principal of independent revenue consultancy RevLogic Hospitality Consulting.
Josh Herman, vice president, marketing, Fontainebleau Miami Beach anticipates that the marriage of solutions from Cendyn and Rainmaker will increase the accuracy of business decisions on the pricing side. “Cendyn has always had a data-driven approach to marketing automation,” he states. “With that married to Rainmaker’s same approach for pricing as well, we hope to have even more visibility to make smarter business decisions faster.”
In a similar move to bring more comprehensive platforms to market, RateGain, a provider of SaaS solutions for revenue intelligence and management, e-distribution and brand engagement, acquired BCV, a hospitality-focused social media provider, for an undisclosed sum in July 2019. The two companies have subsequently launched the Guest Experience Cloud Platform, an integrated platform that yields hotel properties access to proprietary social profiles so that they may deliver targeted messages to the right guest daily, on the appropriate channel. According to BCV, the platform is intended to elevate the brand experience for guests across the research, planning and booking journeys and through the hotel experience itself.
RateGain states that the platform replaces the traditional “waterfall” method of data collection, analysis, and action with an agile model that melds revenue management, sales and marketing. End-users will be able to directly assess and measure the impact of messaging on booking and net RevPAR.
Medallia bought Zingle last fall for a cash investment of about $42 million. Medallia’s Medallia Experience Cloud SaaS platform applies proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) technology to customer journey data gleaned by hotel operators during personal interactions with guests, as well as through digital contact and the Internet of Things (IoT). The technology yields personalized predictive insights hotel operators can use to engage guests and improve their experience. Zingle’s mobile-enabled technology permits guests to request services and products in real-time. The combination of the two solutions will allow guests to transact and provide feedback to hoteliers across the entire journey in a friction-free manner.
Shiji Group Continues its Hospitality Patchwork
Shiji Group has been on a buying spree for several years, and 2019 yielded big strategic deals. Building off of other acquisitions in the travel space, it appears the group is intent on building an ecosystem to connect all stages of a journey, acquiring PMS StayNTouch in 2018 plus investments in: Kalibri Labs, that offers booking details from the guest’s folio; ReviewPro, a reputation management firm; Galasys, a destination management solutions and Hetras, a hotel property management system that it merged with StayNTouch.
In the fall 2019, ShijiGroup announced an expanded partnership for its IcePortal content management platform with GIATA, a provider of non-bookable content solutions for the travel industry. MyGIATA Drive enables hotel operators to push content to global search engines and online travel agencies in 74 countries and more. IcePortal provides a connection with additional distribution channels, including Booking.com, Expedia, Agoda, Google, and Facebook.
Under the partnership umbrella, hotel operators leveraging myGIATA drive can monitor and distribute their marketing images and multilingual text across multiple channels to which they previously did not have access, and to do so in more than 24 available languages.
To address the sticky area of guest payments, ShijiGroup also acquired MyCheck, a payment and integration technology provider. The startup, which formed in 2011, has evolved to offer a holistic platform of digital payment options including one-click payment and digital check-in/out, providing seamless and secure payment options for hotel guests and restaurant patrons. MyCheck integrates with Alipay and Apple Pay among other platforms, to position it for global applications.