Saurabh Rai, Regional Director, South Asia and Middle East and C.S. Ramachandran, Director Revenue Account Management - India, Middle East and Africa, Preferred Hotel Group talk about the Group’s growth
The last three years has been a phase of stable and sustained growth for us. Our primary effort was to focus on service delivery to our existing portfolio hotels, while we added a few other strategic and carefully thought through new partnerships during this period.
Our capability spans across different price points and market segments. As part of our regional development strategy, we diligently matched our delivery potential with location specific business requirements. This has brought about great amount of focus in our overall business direction, which led to our alliances with Zuri Hotels & Resorts, the Raintree Hotels and Waterstones Hotel, spread across multiple metropolis cities in the country.
For us, the next two years will be quite similar. We have launched multiple new initiatives globally and are working towards rolling them out regionally, again to maximise contribution to our member hotels. We anticipate gradual growth of about 10 to 15 per cent during this period.
As a business partner, we help our member hotels understand the constantly increasing distribution channels and support them with the technology and training to manage these channels. Our partnership with SynXis ensures that the hotels have the rates and packages distributed on their brand website, Preferred Hotel Group platforms as well as the GDS and IDS. We have a range of productivity and marketing solutions for hoteliers that we call as iTools.
We also provide the hotels a Direct Connect option which helps achieve single image Inventory and Rate Parity across all Distribution Channels. This helps the hotels automate the distribution of inventory, rates, and restrictions along with an opportunity to enable last room availability with higher reliability. This can be further expanded with the iInterface which enables connectivity between the hotel’s PMS / RMS and the Preferred Hotel Group CRS.
To help hotels reach out to the growing mobile internet users, we offer the iMobile which offers the hotels a highly interactive mobile platform backed by a CMS and a booking engine to facilitate m-commerce.
Other tools include rate shopping software which helps hotel compare their pricing strategies with the competition, an ORM tool that helps hotel track and manage their online reputation in relation to their competitive set.
We are expanding our Direct Connect relationships with Online Travel Companies. This will provide our partner hotels access to an easy and cost-effective way to gain exposure to travelers around the world. We are also re-launching our guest loyalty program, iPrefer Rewards, on August 15th. It’s a big change for us in the sense that we’re going to be the first global independent hotel company to launch a points-based program. Other initiatives in the pipeline include Electronic Advertising Solutions along with support for Website Development and Internet Marketing.
We are currently in the 11th year of our presence and have had exponential growth in the first decade. This market is vital for us in more ways than one. When we assess contribution of our business in India to our global operation, we don’t only look at just the financial perspective. It cannot be argued that we have some of the best hotels and resorts in the world located in India. We value the opportunity of being able to work with them.
While for years the focus on SEO has been on building backlinks, it turns out that social signals also play a significant role in search engine results. Recent studies have indicated that Websites ranking in the top positions on Google usually have a large number of social signals. This means that well-ranked URLs have many shares, likes, comments, plus ones and tweets. We have a strong social media presence across all leading platforms. Our partner hotels are promoted through tweet ups highlighting destinations, blogs, and Social Offers.
The hotels are also supported with our ORM tool which helps them to monitor and manage the reputation of their brands online.