Juliana Shallcross, Tnooz
Read the story at www.tnooz.com.
Since being acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo for $930 million in early 2014, TravelClick, a New York-based provider of B2B distribution and marketing services for hotels, says its mission hasn’t changed. But since then, the toolbox TravelClick offers hotels has evolved quite a bit.
Larry Kutscher, who’s entering his sixth year as CEO for TravelClick, said his company’s business intelligence products have become the heart of the company and really stand out among other revenue management software.
One such product, Demand360 , Kutscher said, is especially changing the way hotels do business. This is a data tool that allows hotels to analyze future booking information (sometimes as far as a year out) versus a competitive set.
Kutscher touted the detailed information that Demand360 provides, giving hoteliers insights into underperforming months or times of the year as well as different channels and types of bookings.
“Historical data is interesting, but it isn’t enough to help you know what you should do in the future,” Kutscher said.
Currently, the data is pulled from about 20,000 chain hotels’ property management systems. But Kutscher said TravelClick is “actively looking” into other data sources that they could add to that.
Yet TravelClick isn’t putting all of its resources into this one type of product. Instead, the company is pushing a more holistic solutions-oriented approach for hoteliers, involving a few “core products.”
“Our strategy is to integrate our core products together,” Kutscher said.
Aside from finessing its business intelligence products, TravelClick purchased a French video company, TVTrip, in early 2015 to help hoteliers really maximize their conversion rate, primarily with direct bookings.
“Video dramatically increased the conversion rate” of hotels that used it their websites. Using a network of videographers, TravelClick advises hotels on what types of video content to gather (room tours, property views, etc.) and then centrally edits and centrally posts the videos to the hotels’ own websites.
For independent and small chains, TravelClick is emphasizing its comprehensive media subscription product. This allows TravelClick to serve as the hotels’ marketing departments. Kutscher elaborated: “We help hotels figure out how much they are spending. We help with retargeting display advertising, and with keywords and ad buys.”
Another area that TravelClick is prioritizing is guest management solutions, enabling hotels to communicate with current guests and create word-of-mouth buzz. “Hotels really let the OTAs build up a huge database of travelers, so we’re helping hoteliers build that direct relationship on their own,” Kutscher said, using tools such as email marketing, preferred rates, post-stay surveys, and anything else a hotelier might want to do to directly influence guests.
Lastly, TravelClick continues to invest in research and development for reservations solutions. Kutscher said:
“We want to help hotels convert guests at a higher rate. We don’t want guests to leave your website. And if they do leave, we have programs to get them back.”
“We’re really focused on helping hoteliers drive more revenue. Everything we do is all about that.”
The common thread running through all these products is, inevitably, data. Kutscher called it a full circle of sorts.
“Data helps you think about what you want to do and how you want to do it. We help you with our products to actually do it. And then data helps you evaluate how you did it,” he said.
TravelClick is headquartered in New York City and has about 38,000 hotel clients, with about half of its business done outside the United States. The company has 15 offices globally and almost 1,100 employees. (That’s four more offices and nearly 10% more employees than it had in 2013.)
Kutscher declined to share revenue information but said that the company is meeting the targets it sets. He said:
“We really feel a lot of momentum. We keep investing. We have a lot of innovation and we’re making changes. We think the future is bright.”