TORONTO—Fresh from HITEC Toronto, TravelClick’s Lauren Rothrock has given her pitch a hundred times as prospects stopped by to visit the company’s booth: “I’ve been talking about the story of how this came about. We’ve surged investment in our reservation platform and wanted to get ahead of competitors and be a provider for our clients,” she said, referring to TravelClick’s new pricing engine. “Over the past few years, new pricing strategies are popping up left and right and clients are asking for increased flexibility and more options for pricing out rooms and rates.”
What’s driving the change? Namely, the OTAs and then the issue becomes one of pulling hotels out of parity. “The revenue management systems—Duetto, Rainmaker, EasyRMS—and our clients are seeing strategies from these providers or competitors, depending on how they look at them, and want to be able to offer the same pricing strategy or promotion type as the hotel,” said Rothrock, director of product, reservations solutions, at TravelClick. “Recently, OTAs started to blend rates, taking an advance purchase rate and best available. One night may qualify for advance purchase and other dates do not; the OTAs are able to blend these rates. Therefore, guests are actually getting a slightly lower rate on the OTAs and when OTAs are out of parity, it violates the agreement. OTAs are saying they’re able to blend rates because they have more advanced or heightened functionality than the hotels do.”
Clashes between OTA and hotel rate strategies are nothing new. Rothrock is seeing OTAs doing mobile-only rates; geo-targeted rates, which are priced based on current location or user origin; discounts based off occupancy; and more. Hotel clients want to be able to do it, too.
“Over time, we built these functionalities with more coming in the next few months. But, we were building them one at a time based on what was most popular. If 20 hotels said, ‘We need mobile-only,’ we would build it piecemeal. We’re finding there are so many request tickets coming in for different pricing and we needed to get it out to market as fast as clients wanted it.”
In 2017, TravelClick sought to rebuild its entire discount promotion and pricing strategy modules and create functionality that would work for the clients more proficiently and in a timely manner.
“From now on, when a client comes with a new pricing variable we can add it quickly. Our number one priority was to build it so it would be agile. Next year, OTAs will come up with something else. They are advancing the industry. Let’s build it so we can quickly get caught up, be agile and flexible,” she said. “We have thousands of hotels across the globe and they all want different things. We built it so it’s variable based. When you open it, you’ll see there is what look like apps, each representing a different category—length of stay, lead time, occupancy, etc.. You pick out what you want to use and lay these variables on top of one another to create a customized solution.”
This innovation is part of TravelClick’s larger plan to move its solutions into one central platform, with a goal of bringing all its data points into the pricing engine.
“Our most recent integration is our guest management solution with our central reservation system. We’re going to leverage the unique data we gather to enhance the pricing engine over time,” she said. “It’s not included in this initial stage, but it’s coming.”