As a company, NH Hotel Group primarily runs city hotels geared towards business and corporate travellers. Across our brands, our hotels operate in highly competitive, fast-paced environments, which makes keeping a close eye on the market and understanding our parity situation highly important.
Before starting to work with OTA Insight, we faced two main challenges. Firstly, instead of having to rely on simple, generic data, we wanted detailed information at the hotel level. We wanted this to include insights based on the market a property operates in, the type of business it attracts and its distribution landscape. Without that, it was hard to detect the exact issues we were facing and to create an action plan based on every hotel’s unique situation.
Our other challenge was finding and handling online rate parity issues. Here our focus was on non-contracted OTAs, so online travel agents with whom we do not have direct agreements. These third-party sites often get rates from wholesalers or tour operators, which creates rate disparity. Even when we discovered these hard-to-detect issues, it was difficult to find out where along the distribution chain they arose and how to solve them because we have no direct control over non-contracted third parties. The leaked rates on these channels were sometimes much lower than those on our official partners’ pages and on our own, and went against our best-price guarantee and our commitment with our distribution partners. This caused a loss of revenue for both us and our OTA partners.
"The fact that we can now use the tool to easily see accurate data on dates where actions are most urgently required has helped us save valuable time and make the right decisions faster."
About a year and a half ago, we launched a tender for a provider who could offer a combined solution covering online visibility and market rate information. Our goal was to have better synergies between our reporting tools and get deeper insights into our existing data.
At that time, we had been using some of OTA Insight’s tools to monitor our online visibility and OTA ranking, which we were very happy with. Since they were accommodating to all our requirements, we were keen to start using their rate parity solution as well.
Soon after this, OTA Insight launched Parity Insight. Because handling rate parity issues efficiently had become a priority for our group, we decided to run a pilot at selected properties to measure data at a hotel level and see if using the tool had an impact on improving average rate and parity results.
Before using Parity Insight, data collection for online rates had to be done manually, which took a lot of time. The fact that we can now use the tool to easily see accurate data on dates where actions are most urgently required has helped us save valuable time and make the right decisions faster. This overview makes Parity Insight a game-changing tool for NH Hotel Group.
Also, using Parity Insight improved communication within our group, especially with the e-commerce team who now have direct access to data and can easily detect and measure the impact of their actions over time. Most importantly, working with Parity Insight has helped us improve our Best Rate Guarantee and significantly reduced online disparity cases.
These results of our pilot project were proof that Parity Insight would help us understand our hotels’ situation and detect players that affect our parity. So we signed an agreement with OTA Insight and now 300 of our 350 properties use all their solutions.
"Parity Insight helps us get to the bottom of disparity and find sustainable solutions. We can monitor the situation more closely now and collaborate better with the online channels that play by the rules."
More efficient operations and targeted parity checks
Parity Insight is a highly efficient and easy-to-use business intelligence tool. After only a few minutes, anybody can use it because the platform is so straightforward. Parity Insight offers a broad set of data which is the most accurate and relevant we have ever seen. Combined, these features make it a game changer and have helped us strategically address two big problems.
First, we wanted to move away from random, manual parity checks to instead identify and focus on critical issues. By analysing the exact dates rate parity issues occur on and what is causing them, we can take quick action and immediately see the impact. If we have any doubts, our corporate team can create a list of up to ten of our hotels a week and ask OTA Insight to do test bookings for us on selected channels.
Our other main concern is that most rate parity issues arise on channels we do not have a contract with. This makes it hard for us to see where in the distribution chain the problem originates. Parity Insight’s test booking option lets us see the first step in the chain and where the problem starts down the line, i.e. which third party creates the issue. That way we can directly contact the partner involved to ask for assistance or find another way to try and fix the issue from our side.
To summarise, prioritising which problems we address is the most important thing for our group. Parity Insight helps us attack the issues that impact our business the most. Now, we spend our time more wisely, focusing on what matters rather than losing time on searching for issues and solving problems of lower priority. The reliable, accurate data lets us tackle rate parity issues in less time than before.
Data-based distribution decisions
Depending on the channels, we test different approaches to pricing. Several of our tactical decisions are based on information we get from Parity Insight. With access to both historical and future data spanning over 365 days, it is easy to monitor the actions we have taken and to keep close track of their results through accurate data.
Thanks to Parity Insight, we now spend less time looking for parity issues because we can easily see which channels appear out of parity more frequently, and take actions accordingly. For example, we have decided to temporarily or permanently close partial inventory on channels that have repeatedly caused rate disparity.
"In the few months we have been using Parity Insight, we have been able to use the tool’s precise data to improve how we work with online sales channels and track the positive correlation between our actions and results."
Improved collaboration with online sales channels
Parity Insight has helped us considerably improve how we work with online sales channels. For example, if we detect a rate parity issue on one of them, we first check the importance of this channel. Then we try to connect with them directly to solve potential technical glitches and avoid them in the future. Since Parity Insight allows us to identify the issues which most strongly impact our business, we can prioritise and deal with the most pressing cases first.
If we see that a channel repeatedly causes rate disparity, there are several correctional steps we can take now that we have Parity Insight. We start by contacting the channel that is out of parity and raising the issue with them. Depending on the gravity of the disparity, we progress to closing a specific hotel or even the entire channel.
In many cases, repeat offenders are third-party channels we do not want to work with anyway, some of which have even been blacklisted. Due to our industry’s long distribution chain, they still manage to get our inventory though. Parity Insight helps us easily get to the bottom of disparity and find sustainable solutions. We can monitor the situation more closely now and collaborate better with the online channels that play by the rules.
Development of a group-wide parity action plan based on data and testing
Since we started using Parity Insight in early 2018, we have run several pilots and have seen a positive correlation in the hotels where we have taken action vs the ones where we did not. The tool has helped us understand and quantify our actions’ results and made clear which approaches work and why.
For 2019, we have used the data collected throughout 2018 to craft a strategy for our entire group. Our action plan will involve parity analytics, company-wide best practices and standards, as well as the development of KPIs to better measure our progress in the future. This way we hope to take on rate parity challenges in all NH Group properties and ensure we continue on the positive trajectory of recent years.
"Parity Insight offers a broad set of data which is the most accurate and relevant we have ever seen."
Improved internal communication
Parity Insight is used mostly by the business development and e-commerce team to check our visibility and parity status daily. Since we rely on centralised processes, our head and regional offices have segmented our hotel portfolio so dedicated teams can look after smaller groups of hotels and understand exactly what is going on in their area.
While our business development team detects the rate parity cases we need to address, the distribution team focuses on solving them. In case of a problem, they liaise directly with the hotels or the channels in question. Communicating quickly and effectively is key here. With the help of Parity Insight, our entire team now has access to the information and we no longer have to send screenshots via email when we want to highlight an issue.
We also use Parity Insight’s in-depth information to create detailed reports highlighting our main KPIs in terms of rate parity status. These reports get sent to all hotels every month to help them understand their own situation and act in ways to strengthen their position.
So far, OTA Insight’s products have been a great help to us in addressing pressing rate parity issues and other distribution challenges across the whole group. We are looking forward to continuing to work with them and are excited to see their tools evolve to cover even more areas of interest and feature advanced measuring capabilities in the future.
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