Triggering the formal Brexit process is a major political milestone, not to mention headache. Whilst the 27 EU states agree their position, it isn’t only those in the House of Commons who need to be monitoring every move. Travel, tourism, hospitality and events are not alone in being industries that have seen uncertainty be the only certain early indicator of Brexit’s impact since the referendum vote. On a local level in the UK, the weakened pound means that holidays in Europe are more expensive and so the domestic market’s appeal is positive.
This is just the very beginning. No one is clear yet as to what the long-term impacts of the full Brexit outcomes will be on global travel booking and buying patterns. What we do know is that there is a good chance that popping over to Europe for a long weekend might not be as simple, or as cost effective. European travellers are impacted by Brexit and its knock-on economic uncertainty on both sides, plus tragic terrorist events also hamper safety and security and affect visitor numbers. Conversely, the growing economies of South East Asia, South America, Africa and the Middle East are bringing more and more new international travellers to the region. In some cases these are emerging markets, with varying booking habits.
Independent hotels with strong brands, local market share ownership and high levels of loyalty need to think about distribution outside of their domestic markets. This means that working hard with the established OTAs and maximising them is just one of many important channels. There are new channels too, and a millennial work force driving mobile booking statistics through the roof. Brexit is just one example of how the leisure travel and MICE market sands are shifting.
The hotel business world is multi-faceted and it is changing and evolving faster than ever. Each target market likes to book in different ways and through different channels. Ensuring that your property is competitive to many markets, appearing on the right OTAs and metasearch sites, and featuring at the top of google search results is just the start. Marketing to a wider base, whilst also being more effective and targeted is a perennial business challenge.
When the world suddenly shifts overnight -as happened on 23 June 2016 and may indeed again, albeit to a lesser extent, as formalities begin- hoteliers need tools on hand to respond accordingly. The technology to make decisions based on real data and actual trends, and to track performance, has never been more important.
Building a true international ecosystem is a big priority of hotel owners in major European cities right now. Reaching more international travellers and relying less on one or two markets has never been of greater importance. The growing might and importance of Asian OTAs such as CTrip.com absolutely cannot be ignored.
The accommodation sector is hugely dynamic and multichannel distribution is one way to stay on top. We’re working with thousands of hoteliers looking to have a clearer view of their distribution and pricing, and the market intelligence to change things if needed.
Diverse distribution is good for business, but time consuming and terrifying for those facing this change for the first time. Brexit is just one of many things delivering all kinds of market transformation, and at a pace. Having price, events, competitor data, and online visibility insights is the kind of intelligence that any hotel business needs at its finger tips to maximise revenue and take away the Brexit headache.
*Gino Engels is a co-founder and chief commercial officer of OTA Insight, where he focuses on engaging local and global players in the hospitality industry to share the challenges they face in the digital landscape and provides tools and insights to help hoteliers overcome their technological barriers.