LONDON—While many hoteliers have long understood the value of offering a wide range of activities when it comes to guest satisfaction, it seems that value can extend to their bottom line as well. Musement—an online service for booking activities, tours, museums, shows and art events—recently launched a platform specifically dedicated to hotels.
Co-founder and CEO Alessandro Petazzi, who started the London-based company in 2013, noted the new platform can provide a host of benefits to hoteliers, including the ability to offer guests a complete vacation package, increase revenues, and better compete with online travel agencies (OTAs).
Petazzi talked about the global company’s broad-based approach. “What we’re trying to do is a bit different. We don’t consider tourism activities to be a segment, but we consider it to be a combination of different vertical segments. We’re trying to be active not only in sightseeing and the types of activities that are typically interesting for international travelers. We try to have things that are interesting for domestic travelers, which are more along the lines of temporary events, including concerts or music festivals,” he said.
Petazzi acknowledged the importance of the company’s business-to-consumer model, but added it recognized the potential for additional opportunity to leverage business-to-business channels, such as travel agencies and particularly hotels. “We think that certain activities can be interesting for hotels to be promoted on their website,” he said.
Musement’s hotel platform provides tourist activities that a property can propose to customers pre trip or in person via front desk agents or a concierge. Petazzi noted that front desk agents are given special access to a page on the website and he touted the benefits of such privileges. “Even those hotels with three stars or four stars that don’t necessarily have fully stocked concierge service, they can have the same level of access that higher end hotels typically have,” he said.
Hotels can also utilize the platform to upsell activities direct to the guest online through their websites by offering an array of activities. In addition, the customer can book a room and activities as part of a bundle pre-trip. “Any hotel can access our platform and put our own white-label widget on their website so that they can have the booking of the hotel room and activity all together on the site,” he said.
The CEO also maintained that through bundling Musement enables a hotel to avoid the parity rate obligation they face with OTAs when they sell stand-alone rooms. He added it also allows properties to drive more direct traffic to their websites by offering in-destination activities.
Petazzi noted the platform offers advantages from a cost standpoint as well as it relates to activities. “We sell them with maximum rates for the hotel, so everything is discounted. It’s the decision of the hotels whether they want to pass that discount along to the customer or whether they prefer to make the margin based on whatever price they want to give the final customer,” he said. Petazzi added that Musement works off a transactional model with a built-in margin so it only gets paid if the hotel completes a sale.
The program, which was launched a couple of weeks ago, is being test piloted in some 50 hotels in France, Italy and Spain. Petazzi noted after some initial feedback and potential tweaks, a stronger commercial push will begin in September. He added the September push is also necessary because it’s currently peak season in Europe. “It is difficult to persuade hotels to embrace a new platform,” he said.
Petazzi added that from September of 2015 through the end of 2016 the U.S. will be “the focus of our new wave of expansion. I expect the U.S. market to be very important from a hotel point of view,” he said.