Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd, a developer of premium resorts, hotels and spas, is revamping its own online offering as the group focuses on driving the traffic to its own branded website. (3/22/2007)
The decision to go for a revamp is based on analytics following the internal assessment over the past year.
According to Caroline Leong, group distribution director, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts, who was recently in Singapore for the Travel Distribution Summit Asia ’07, the company witnessed the largest growth in online transactions on its own website.
The development comes at a stage when Banyan Tree is witnessing tremendous progress. In the past two years, the group has made new additions to the portfolio, came up with its IPO, followed by announcement of major expansion plans and new deals in the press almost every month. In November last year, Singapore Main-Board listed Banyan Tree Holdings Limited had shared that it secured two new agreements to manage Angsana Resort and Spa in Greece and UAE and two independent Angsana Spas in China and India.
As the group expands, sharing concerns related to brand positioning while choosing a distribution channel, Caroline says Banyan Tree clearly avoids brand fragmentation and dilution.
“We do not want to be imaged together with `cheapest-rates’ or `budget-holidays’ outfits,” she says. On changes in the manner in which a customer buys travel, Caroline feels there is a definite trend of increased shopping online but specifically consumer comes to branded sites for `real’ information and when making enquiries. She added that the new site from Banyan Tree will provide better visuals and on-site information as customers really want to know all about the hotel before they arrive.
On relationship with online travel intermediaries, Caroline says, “Most Banyan Tree Hotels do not have direct contracts with mainstream OTAs but they take our rates off GDS as these mass-market sites are promoted to have the best deals, lowest rates...etc. and its a market in which we cannot compete with our rates. We tie-up with sites that market to the luxury traveler that are not price-driven but more interested in what special experiences we can offer them and if it is value-for-money for the premium they pay.”
Regarding consistency in pricing and availability across all channels, it is felt that a major concern is the number of “manual” channels which still exist here in Asia as they are more difficult to control for consistency.
Caroline agrees with this. “It is still a big problem for us - we try to minimise by not signing up with too many Third Party Intermediary Sites and just let them take the inventory off the GDS as the rates are the same best available ones anyway.”