For many years online travel companies, hotel bedbank providers and any provider of 3rd party accommodation have had a major source of frustration about how to display complex room types online. In addition, it is very difficult for the customer to compare which distribution channel offers the best price for a specific room type, e.g. Deluxe Double with Sea View and Balcony. A consequence is that many channels focus primarily on lowest price. The problem is exacerbated as the majority of distribution channels use different room type names than those used by the hotel, very often using abbreviations in the name, including foreign language variations.
Thus, a customer may not see the range of available room type offers, restricting up-sell opportunities.
For most distribution channels, the goal is that of providing clarity across multiple accommodation offers plus creating a frictionless booking experience through a more standardised display of accommodation offers, leading to more up-sell opportunities or meeting specific customer requests.
On the back of the success of TTIcodes, many of our travel company clients asked the question “Could TTI/GIATA provide a similar solution to that of Codes?”
This seemed very logical, resulting in TTI hosting a ‘room type mapping workshop’ to brainstorm ideas on how to solve the problem.
Pete Hazel, TTI’s Executive Co-ordinator for Products and Services, along with his business partner Howard Rosenthal led the initiative and soon realised that the solution applied to TTIcodes was not going to cut the mustard when it came to Room Type Mapping.
After a few months of head scratching with our clients and our development partner, we hit on an innovative solution focusing on standardising each and every room type name that appears in a distribution channel’s availability response.
In any project there is a lightbulb moment, ours was when we realised that amongst the room type names there were golden nuggets of information from which we could identify the key attributes of the Room Type. The attributes provided the cornerstone from which we could standardise the room type name, making it more easily understood from a customer’s perspective. By standardising the name and the attributes, it also made it feasible to group together other offers for the same room type as well as enable the customer to search for room types with specific attributes, e.g., sea-view, family room, villa with pool.
More easily said than done, you may think, when considering the solution had to cater for 500 channels, 1.2 million properties averaging approximately six room types per property, putting any form of manual mapping out of the question.
After numerous white board sessions with our clients and our development partner, we hit on a “innovative approach” consisting of an intelligent algorithm supported by a multilingual dictionary and a standardised room type naming convention, the latter being applicable for different types of properties, e.g. a hotel room, an apartment, a villa, a hostel.
Like all successful solutions the approach was quite simple:
Eliminate any noise in room type name, i.e. words that did not reflect a key attribute of the room type in question.
Identify the key attributes within the Room Type Name.
Standardise the Room Type Name rooms (including multi-lingual variations).
So, a complex room such as an Ocean view, king bed, free valet, petit dejeuner, panoramic view would be categorised for sale as a ‘Prestige King Suite with Ocean View’, making it easier for the customer to compare accommodation offers on a like for like basis.
Having a solution which works for over 98% of the 600 million room type names used by distribution channels is fantastic but how does a travel company integrate the solution into their booking system?
As the solution has evolved there are essentially three approaches that a client can take:
The ‘Simple Approach’ is at it suggests: a case of standardising the room type name on an availability response to provide greater clarity to the customer. This approach is easy to implement and does not require major changes to the existing booking process.
The ‘Enhanced Approach’ provides travel companies with more flexibility. In addition to standardising the room type names for display purposes, it uses the key attributes to enable the customer to search for specific room types. In essence the enhanced approach enables the travel company to create upsell opportunities, promote inspirational type rooms and generally move customers away from lowest price options.
The ‘Advanced Approach ’enables the travel company to group together similar rooms, enabling the client to choose the best offer for a specific room type across a multiplicity of distribution channels, e.g. Channel A may offer the lowest price room for a property, but Channel B may offer the lowest price for a Deluxe Room with a Sea View. Technically, the advanced approach is more difficult to integrate as it often means changing the way in which room type availability is displayed to the customer.
In summary, TTIrooms - aka Room Type Mapping by GIATA is an innovative state of the art multilingual solution. It is room supplier agnostic, offering travel companies a number of integration approaches. This enables them to create profitable up-sell opportunities whilst providing more choice and clarity to customers.
Let us not forget the holy grail of linking digital content, provided through GIATA Drive for Hotels, for specific room types to the standardised Room Name to provide that extra confidence to the customer that they are booking the Right Room in the Right Property in the Right Location.
It is a win, win, win!
For further information about TTIrooms aka Room Type Mapping by GIATA – please contact Pete Hazel, email@example.com
Written by Janet Butler 9 May 2023