Wednesday, 30 September 2015

New kid on the OTA block

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read you begin with ABC. When you sell rooms you begin with OTA. I don't remember Julie Andrews singing that line either, but for many accommodation providers, online travel agencies have been a lifeline to overcoming the perishable should-a would-a could-a nature of room sales. 

The utopian situation is having 100% of reservations winging their way to hotels commission free. The reality is that only exceptionally unique jaw hitting the deck establishments come close to order nirvana. In their case, exclusivity breeds thoroughbred direct channels. Out of this world gadgets and gizmos, coupled with world class designs unite and heighten the trust for Guests to part with their 16s, MM/YYs and CSVs right there, right then, without a second thought of straying to one of the big boys to confirm their stay.  

Having said that, the work I have done with our GOLD members drives direct reservations greatly. In fact, they are - in no uncertain terms - mowed out. Some may say that there is a conflict of interest in my consultancy process advising on direct sales, when I now have my own travel site where the name of the game is indirect. Yet as far as Little Touches is concerned, there is a very clear formula to how hoteliers should look upon Little Touches Details Club and intermediaries in general:

AQUIRE a new Guest through an OTA once, and once only


                                   AND THEN...

NURTURE the new Guest to ensure they view direct as the daddy 

That does not mean that I only wish to see Guests once on my travel site. I want them to return time and time again and use us as the premier portal to discover the best places to stay in the UK -  a hub with many spokes that passes the baton to hoteliers to go the extra mile to get a place in their new Guests' speed dial. 

Observing the massess and doing the opposite

Former Dragons' Den star James Caan lives by the above philosophy. I refuse to give the you know who travel players the publicity, but I have not had to do as much observing as one might think, as they are all largely similar level peggers, bordering on blending into one big samey melting pot. It is time for a shake-up and I hope to set the tempo for the new era of online travel agencies in my own small way. 

What makes Little Touches Details Club different ? 

  • Clear signposting - APPROVED, TRIPLE C and GOLD
APPROVED means key safety documentation has been confirmed including public liability insurance, gas and food hygiene certificates and fire risk assessment. 

TRIPLE C (Clean, Cosy, Comfortable) are the best of the budget best 

GOLD members have shown commitment to creativity and higher-order hospitality by coming through our bespoke improvement process

  • Language
Paid and Stayed. Going against the grain and shunning the word verified completely, with tongue firmly in cheek the phrase "Paid and Stayed" has been deployed to denote no-nonsense accounts from those - and only those - who have put heads on the plumped, preened and often perfect pillows of our listed establishments.

Guest is God. Staying, paying Guests have on our site - quite rightly - more power than star ratings decided by inspectors who rock up for a fleeting visit. Disregarding traditional grammar, it is always Guest with a capital G. You have the ability to rate, slate or appreciate: review our members in a short and snappy manner or demonstrate your travel journalistic skills, the choice is yours.


  • Expertise
Hospitality heavyweights. I've worked for the best in the world on both sides of the Atlantic: Disney and Bourne Leisure.

UK Blog Awards. Little Touches was a finalist in two categories at the 2015 UK Blog Awards: Food & Drink and Travel. Furthermore, in the travel category we were up against household name brands including Thomson, Teletext holidays and WWF (wildlife not wrestling !)*.

*Yes I am still using that gag ! 

A happy medium that is hoping to go large

In launching Little Touches Details Club, I sincerely hope that the public and business community at large view it as a happy medium between the colossal OTAs and the more niche sites. Still retaining the bedrock of familiarity that you will find on the biggies, sweeping in to usher in a new era in online reservations is my force majeure travel gateway. 

When all our competitors have been going one way, I have marshalled the resources to firmly go the other way. So far, it has been a winning formula, but whether I have cooked up a travel titan is for you to decide, as when it comes to Little Touches Details Club, you are judge, jury and executioner because ultimately Guest is God. 


Written by Tom Metcalf

Founder and Lead Consultant 

 Little Touches ®
        
Improving B&Bs, Guest Houses and Hotels

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