French hotels sue Expedia

The french hotel’s union Synhorcat filed a suit against Expedia, Hotels.com and Tripadvisor on the 15th April. The main points of the suit are:

1. When clicking on a hotel’s photo in Tripadvisor the browser is immediately directed to Expedia whether the hotel has signed with Expedia or not. The hoteliers argue that it should link directly to the official website of the hotel.

2. Expedia sometimes promotes wild discounts such as 75% off without agreement from the hoteliers. And if there is no availability on a hotel. Expedia will still promote the hotel but direct the browser to another hotel thus using the hotel’s popularity to sell other properties.

3. Hotels.com seemingly dissuades users to book directly at the hotel’s website.

These are some of the main points I could understand from the article (see the original article in french here: http://www.zdnet.fr/actualites/internet/0,39020774,39750958,00.htm).

If this case will win or not is uncertain however a few points are clear. Expedia’s model of taking 25% of a hotel’s revenues isn’t appreciated much longer and despite their size, more and more hoteliers aren’t willing to give that type of money to a third party.

Secondly, Tripadvisor will need to open up and become a fully fledged social media. The fact that it is owned by Expedia isn’t going to do Expedia a favour anymore as it may just soon be faced with an anti-trust problem. It is only logical that Tripadvisor favours hotel’s official website. There was a step in that direction this year with the sale to hoteliers of a link to the official website.

Thirdly and most impotantly, websites like Expedia, Booking.com and others all the third party booking systems have a limited future unless they really start to help hoteliers. At the end of the day all they are doing it offer information to the internet users, but charging a huge price for it. Shouldn’t the information be free? Google seems to be making an entry into the field with rates noted on the Google Maps.

Expedia already makes no money on flight tickets… so their only real solution now is going to be to work out a way to give some real added value to hoteliers.

When I built WIHP there was one thing that I knew I had to do from day one and that was HELP hotel’s increase their profits. It has worked wonders so far making us the incontestable leaders in the Paris market. Let’s see how this pans out.

Interview – TendanceHotellerie.fr

TendanceHotellerie.fr is a French website for hoteliers, they do news and information about the French Hotel Industry and it’s a clean look and fell.

Vincent Rajjoo one of the editors there recently interviewed me and I thought I would publish the link. It is mainly for les Francais but if you’re interested you could translate it with one of the online translation tools.

Interview de Vincent Ramelli, Président de WIHP – Lookotel

29 mars 2010 par TH – Mots clés : site web – distribution

Vincent Ramelli - President WIHPQuelle a été votre activité avant de commencer WIHP / Lookotel ?
Avant de créer la Société WIHP et le produitLookotel.com je faisais partie en tant que co-fondateur de la société 1001webpromotions. Et avant cela je travaillais avec une des premières sociétés qui offraient des services internet à Paris.

Comment décriveriez-vous WIHP / Lookotel ?
Nous avons plusieurs produits. WIHP Sites webLookotel.com et WIHP Gestion.
WIHP Sites web est le leader en termes de création de sites web pour les hôtels indépendants sur Paris et probablement en Europe. Nous n’offrons pas des « sites web » nous procurons des réservations aux hôteliers à travers un site performant.
Lookotel.com est un portail unique en Europe dans son genre : sans commission pour les hôteliers ! C’est un grand avantage d’avoir une telle puissance de feu pour faire la promotion de son hôtel à grande échelle. Tous les frais son fixes pour hôtelier. Le but est de faire des réservations en direct depuis le portail ou d’envoyer les clients vers le site officiel de l’hôtel.
WIHP Gestion : notre équipe de professionnels de l’hôtellerie s’occupe de commercialiser une trentaine d’hôtels sélectionnés. L’équipe prend un hôtel et le « booste », en utilisant toutes les possibilités de distribution, les réseaux sociaux, l’amélioration de la décoration de l’hôtel, et de la qualité du service à travers une formation très pointue. Ils gèrent un hôtel sur 6 mois minimum avec une promesse de résultats.

WIHP / Lookotel en quelques chiffres ?
Lookotel : 1 visiteur sur 3 qui voit votre hôtel sur Lookotel.com va cliquer sur votre site. C’est une augmentation de 500% du nombre de visites sur 1 an avec un choix de 250 hôtels sur Paris pour l’internaute.
WIHP Sites web : c’est plus de 15 000 réservations en ligne par mois sur Paris seulement. Et ce sont des sites qui doublent le taux de conversion visites/réservations depuis la mise en ligne des sites de dernière génération.
Et ce n’est pas un hasard – ce sont des centaines d’heures de programmation pour créer un système « analytics » qui nous aide à mesurer la vraie efficacité de nos sites. Comme je le disais nous n’offrons pas un « site web » mais de la réservation et en volume.

Quelles sont les différences entre WIHP / Lookotel et d’autres sociétés de création web ?
Notre différence est que l’on prend soin de mesurer l’efficacité de nos sites en détails ; nous avons des outils que l’on a développés pour cela et on arrive à isoler le problème exact pour chaque site et s’assurer qu’il marche et produit des réservations. Etant propriétaire d’hôtel en parallèle je sais ce que cela veut dire de gérer un hôtel et de payer les factures à la fin du mois. Donc je suis doublement motivé pour m’assurer que nos sites font des réservations pour les hôtels.

Qui sont les clients WIHP / Lookotel ?
Les hôtels indépendants qui veulent changer le pourcentage de remplissage fait en direct.

Quel peut être l’intérêt d’un hôtelier de rejoindre WIHP / Lookotel ?
Si un hôtelier veut espérer arriver à 40 voir 60% de remplissage en direct avec son site web, il a un grand intérêt à faire un site avec WIHP.

Quels sont vos prochains axes de développement ou produits ?
Les sites web sont en évolution constante. Chaque nouveau site est diffèrent et contient de la nouvelle technologie. On vient de lancer un nouveau module de site pour mobile/iphone, et suite à notre expérience de vente de chambres à travers les réseaux sociaux et le web 2.0 on a découvert de nouvelles options que l’on est en train d’intégrer sur nos sites et nos portails. Et pour le reste… ça sera une surprise dès que nous serons prêts.

Inscription WIHP & Lookotel.com

Collection des hôtels WIHP

Cracking the WIHP with MICE

The MICE Report, a magazine for the MICE industry (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) has an article about WIHP that Cliff James wrote. I thought you may find it interesting and it gives a great overview on what we do and how we do it.

Vincent Ramelli, interview - The MICE Report

Vincent Ramelli, interview - The MICE Report

Cracking the WIHP

With independent hotels currently being charged an average 20% commission on reservations made through online booking agencies, hoteliers are seeking new ways to recoup their revenue. A commission-free solution is now at hand, as the marketing specialist company WIHP provides comprehensive strategies to help hotels increase their direct income. Cliff James talks to WIHP’s General Manager, Vincent Ramelli, about a commission-free future for hoteliers.
Vincent Ramelli understands the nuances of the hotel industry. As the owner of two successful boutique hotels, he has firsthand knowledge of the vagaries of the hospitality trade – in particular, the often exorbitant fees charged by online travel agencies for internet bookings.
However, the route he took to becoming an hotelier included substantial careers in marketing and web promotion. In retrospect, it seems inevitable that Vincent’s areas of expertise would coalesce in the 2009 launch of WIHP (World Independent Hotel Promotion) – a groundbreaking marketing organisation that enhances revenues for hotels with no extra cost to hotel guests.
“Back in the 1990s, I worked for a telecom company and saw how the internet was going to be the future sales channel for travel,” he explains. “I co-founded a company called 1001webpromotions and we began doing websites. With my own hotels, I quickly discovered the importance of having a great online marketing strategy and so I created WIHP to combine hotel management and hotel marketing into one structure that could offer a complete array of services to hotels.”
More than proposing a mere marketing plan, WIHP takes a holistic approach in analysing all aspects of a hotel’s profile and uses pioneering techniques to scrutinize a huge range of information. Vincent explains that their first step when working with a hotel is to gather feedback from hotel guests on websites such as Tripadvisor. “We’ll see what they like and dislike, and this gives us an idea of where the added value is for a hotel and what needs to be remedied. Sometimes hotel owners have a fixed idea of how to promote their hotel. But while the hotel image must be respected, the marketing strategy must be aimed at the potential customers, not the owners.”
This radical approach to devising an effective marketing strategy is augmented by WIHP’s programme of hotel staff training workshops, bespoke website design, and the launch in 2009 of a commission-free online distribution channel, Lookotel.com, which drives internet traffic and direct sales to the hotel’s own website – thereby bypassing the excessive charges of the OTAs.
Having refined a proprietary analytics system that constantly assesses the efficiency of a hotel’s website, the marketing specialists at WIHP know when a website is not producing sales and will work on the issue until a solution is identified.
“What we offer isn’t a website; it’s bookings,” says Vincent, drawing upon his substantial experience in web promotion. “If there are no results, we review our actions and adjust them until they work – and that’s the way with all our products. Having been on the receiving side, we know what hotels need.
“A site is more attractive with special offers and packages. The site also has to be made attractive by the use of real photos and video. Our objective is the same as the hotelier: ensuring the guest arrives directly on the hotel’s website and reserves directly with the hotel.”
As a hotel owner himself, Vincent’s own experiences have informed the quality of service provided by WIHP. He reveals that the company’s vision is to assist other hoteliers market their properties and take their share of the pie in direct bookings, whether that be through website enhancement, search engine optimization, payper-click advertising, offline marketing or through the lookotel.com distribution channel.
Based upon the company’s impressive growth within its first year, WIHP’s specialist approach is proving immensely popular, with more than 350 independent boutique and luxury hotels in various countries already benefiting from the service. In Paris alone, WIHP makes more than 15,000 commission-free bookings for celebrated venues such as Hotel de l’Abbaye, Hotel Ares Eiffel and The Five Hotel.
Vincent Ramelli maintains that hotels are opting for this specialist marketing service because it bears greater return on investment than the alternative. “WIHP provides a bespoke website for around €9000, depending on the options that the hotelier wants to add,” he explains. “Membership of lookotel.com starts at €50 a month, and our marketing management and social marketing campaigns begin at €1500 per month.
“On the other hand, the average commission for regular OTAs is 20% of the revenue brought to the hotel – a huge dent in the monthly budget. We aren’t out of the recession yet so saving 20% on commissions is a big saving. I have two hotels myself, so I know the difference this can make in a budget.”

Lookotel.com in Hotels Magazine

It has been a pretty busy time since I last posted. Back in November we were still warming up for the launch of Lookotel.com and since then it has been just flat out travelling, seeing (great) people, meeting the hoteliers, and other industry people. And a lot more.

But I thought I should catch up with everyone and start posting again.

After the launch, here is the article in Hotels Magazine that appeared and I’m pretty happy with it.

Hotels Magazine - article on Lookotel, Vincent Ramelli

Hotels Magazine - article on Lookotel

Lookotel.com Launches As Direct Sales Reservation Web Site
— Hotels, 11/20/2009 8:29:00 AM

PRESS RELEASE

PARIS: 17 November 2009, WIHP (World Indernational Hotel Promotion) launched their website Lookotel.com as the new way to promote your hotel online, commission free. At the event some of the guests present were owner of Mr. Lafortune from Hotel de l’Abbaye, Mr Vaurs and Mr Sauvage, creators and owners of Hotel The Five and Le Hidden, The Kouana family owners of Le Modern and others. Fabrice Affuta from Hotel Napoleon and more.

Lookotel already was a big hit for the Paris sector with great results on Google searches. The site won immediate approval from Parisian hoteliers as a great alternative to OTAs and other commission based sites.

Lookotel.com pledged to the Parisian hoteliers to remain commission free and to always drive traffic to their websites for direct sales in exchange for a subscription fee that hoteliers pay.

The claims are high with figures such as:
– 47% of visitors on Lookotel get interested and want more information on hotels they see listed

– 1 out of 3 internet users seeing a hotel on Lookotel will visit your website

– 500% increased visitors in less than one year. From 280,000 to 1,600,240 page views.

At the event Mr Ramelli creator of Lookotel, launched Lookotel.com for the international market. A new subscription system was implemented with different levels of membership for increasing services and a free 4 month trial for any new subscribers.

Will be back with more news hopefully more regularly.

Small Business Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

Launching Lookotel.com

Carte invitation Lookotel.com

Carte invitation Lookotel.com

On the 17th November we are happy to launch Lookotel.com, if you are in Paris that evening or can come – then call us and reserve. It’s free and it’s going to be fun.

We’ll be going over what we are doing with Lookotel.com to give hoteliers a fighting chance in the current internet reservation space.

It couldn’t be more appropriate, with the recent Expedia news.

Vincent and Serge Ramelli, and the entire WIHP team are happy to invite you to the launch party of Lookotel.com

Come and discover around a cocktail how Lookotel is changing the online reservations in an innovating way.

RSVP: +33 1 53 46 10 60

If you are a hotelier, you can sign up on lookotel.com right here: http://www.lookotel.com/adminHotel

A small revolution in the Hotel Industry?

If you’ve been following the hotel industry news lately you may have noticed the little feud going between Choice Hotels and Expedia. If not, here’s a synopsis. Choice and Expedia couldn’t come to an agreement on the terms and as a result Choice pulled out all of it’s hotels from the Expedia website.

There’s a lot more in this article in Hotels Mag http://www.hotelsmag.com/TalkBack/Comments?article_id=6702984&articleid=ca6702984&talk_back_header_id=6630527

Ask an independent hotel what he thinks about OTAs (Online Travel Agents) and you should be happy if he doesn’t spit at you.

The point is an OTA takes about 25 to 30 percent of the income from a hotel, and once they have done that they demand a certain number of rooms to be allocated to them permanently, whether they fill those rooms or not (at the hotel’s cost) and then they demand that nobody be given better prices than them.

Sound crazy? Well it’s the hotel industry.

Now if you wonder why hotel prices have gone up about 300 percent over the last 15 years then start looking in that direction. Because 30 percent mark-up is a lot!

So back in the end of the 1990s we started making websites for independent hotels to give them a fighting chance on the online world. This worked quite well and hotels have managed to give their direct customers a lower price.

This year we decided to take this one step further, we created lookotel.com it’s all their websites combined into one site where travelers can find better prices and hoteliers can sell without the 30% markup that OTAs demand.

So is a revolution started in the hotel industry? Well, we think it started long time ago but now the chains have realized that it’s gone too far and they are getting on the bandwagon.

It’s only a matter of time before they will need to either change their ways or hotels will find other solutions.

And go check out http://www.lookotel.com, if you’re a hotelier try it out and log your hotel. If you’re a user, book your hotel and compare prices. You could see a difference (if some major OTA hasn’t clamped down on the hotels yet).

Feel free to comment.

Articel in L’Hotellerie mag

Here is a recent article that appeared in a French magazine for the Hotel and Restaurant business. This was in the on-line version, you can find the link to the article here: http://www.lhotellerie-restauration.fr/journal/equipement-materiel/2009-06/WHIP-la-gestion-sur-internet.htm

I’ll be getting translated version of the article posted here shortly.

the logo of the magqzine

the logo of the magqzine

WHIP, la gestion sur internet
lundi 15 juin 2009

La société WIHP propose aux hôtels indépendants d’assurer la gestion de leur commercialisation sur le web en mettant en place une stratégie dédiée.

WIHP (World Independant Hotel Promotion) a été créée en 2009 pour répondre aux besoins de l’hôtellerie indépendante, dont les budgets ne permettent pas de déployer de grands moyens pour effectuer leur promotion, et qui ne peuvent compter sur les structures organisées des chaînes intégrées. WIHP, fondée par Vincent Ramelli, qui réalise des sites internet innovants pour les hôtels indépendants, et qui possède aujourd’hui un portefeuille clients d’environ 750 hôtels parisiens.

Utiliser les flux

“Nous faisons de l’ingénierie en commercialisation touristique sur le net, précise Vincent Ramelli, ce qui permet à l’hôtelier d’optimiser la visite client et le revenu par chambre.” La société réalise, en effet, un plan marketing pour l’hôtel en s’appuyant sur les données apportées par les flux touristiques, notamment les flux connaissant la plus forte croissance, à savoir, ceux qui ne sont pas organisés.

Initialement, 1001 Web Promotions propose aux hôteliers d’assurer la promotion de leurs établissements sur le web en travaillant sur l’ensemble des réseaux, en utilisant les sites collaboratifs type Trip Advisor ainsi que les centrales de réservation. “En croisant ces informations avec les données statistiques émises par flux de visiteurs, cela nous permet de faire un buzz, et d’être mieux référencés sur les sites internet. C’est ce que nous appelons le cercle vertueux”, déclare Vincent Ramelli. WIHP renforce donc l’action de 1001 Web Promotions en dessinant pour l’hôtelier un vrai plan marketing internet sous forme de services et d’aménagements adaptés à la clientèle de l’hôtel. Ces services se déclinent par pays, en fonction des habitudes et des comportements nationaux.

Augmentation des marges

Avec ce service, l’hôtelier peut espérer augmenter son prix moyen, car la méthode lui permet de diminuer ses frais de commission sur les centrales de réservation tout en augmentant son taux d’occupation. Depuis que la société a été créée en janvier 2009, “les hôtels n’ont enregistré que 2 % de baisse par rapport à l’année dernière (année record pour Paris malgré la crise)”, note Vincent Ramelli, précisant également que les hôteliers enregistrent désormais plus de 30 % de leur chiffre d’affaires sur le net.

Bien entendu, ce service a un coût. “Il faut compter, par hôtel, une dépense d’environ 4 500 € par mois, estime Vincent Ramelli. Une dépense qui pourrait être compensée par les résultats obtenus. Ceux-ci semblent déjà probants sur les six premiers mois de l’année. “Nous avons surtout remarqué un référencement beaucoup plus fort, déclare Monsieur Authier, hôtelier à Paris. Nous avons également augmenté le nombre de distributeurs. Quant à notre taux d’occupation, il est en augmentation constante depuis plusieurs années.”

S’il est encore un peu tôt pour se faire une idée de l’impact réel de WHIP, on cependant noter que les réservations sur le net sont en constante évolution depuis plusieurs années et qu’une offre de ce type ne peut qu’ être encourageante pour les hôteliers indépendants.

Evelyne de Bast