By far the biggest theme of ITB Berlin 2014 has been the new technology and software available to hotels, travel agencies and tourism operators for offering online distribution and ways to improve their services to visitors.
Stands dedicated to the new technology offerings at the travel show were set up in a number of halls as consultant at Tourismuszukunft Maximilian Laborenz demonstrated as he led visitors in a tour to look at just a few of those companies offering online solutions.
"Accommodation is one of the services that are most booked online," he said. "In 2012, more than 18% of German travelers booked online and that figure is rising. One of the biggest challenges facing the hospitality industry concerns ecommerce."
Highlights of the tour included the first stop at the stall of Amadeus, a company offering flight comparison and trip planner services.
The firm's LinkHotel distribution system, particularly for small and independent hotels, enables easy distribution in a global context, said Laborenz, adding that it reaches more than 100 travel portals, such as Opodo.
Amadeus's Instant Preference solution helps hotels sell more rooms, while its GDS Marketing products helped to create special rates and list available rooms and its hotel platform centralizes hotel management for medium and large hotels, he said.
Moving on to ReviewPro, Laborenz said the firm specializes in managing and improving online presence, with "thousands of clients in 90 countries."
The company's online reputation management for hotels allows hoteliers to "monitor and improve" their reputations across hundreds of platforms, while it's guest service management feature gives a "complete solution" for gathering direct feedback from clients.
The next firm on the tour was Customer Alliance, which provides analytics for the collection and integration of customer-related data, monitoring not just reviews, but also pricing, said Laborenz.
Moving on to another company, Laborenz said Roomize gives hoteliers the chance to network and swap room for free while also sharing knowledge and experience. The networking firm enables B2B contact between hotels and managers to also create contact and job opportunities.
Meanwhile, BookLogic offers an automated reservation services linked to more than 650,000 travel agencies and travel portals, said Laborenz at the next stand, adding that it gives hotels the opportunity to achieve escalated sales and revenue.
There is also a hotel app and channel management system, he said, which allows hotels to manage their prices on a single screen with all travel agencies.
The next firm, Sabre, was a provider of distribution operations and marketing solutions that are delivered through software. "The app framework is state-of-the-art technology with advanced user features," he said.
The next firm, AT Visions, offered a hotel television system called One Vision, allowing clients to access all available content at the hotel on the television including the opportunity to view the booking and check out.
IDeaS, alternatively, offered a revenue management services to give hotels the tools to analyse data and adapt pricing accordingly.
"It is a way of making life simpler for busy hotel managers," said Laborenz. "Pricing recommendations are generated to enable hotels to offer the best rates all the time and to forecast occupancy."
Bookassist, the "technology and online strategy for hotels" was on the tour as a company offering hotels the opportunity to maximize direct booking through a website booking engine. The firm provides instant discounts and front office integration, said Laborenz.
Another company on the tour Protel was highlighted as a company offering a hotel management system for both individual hotels and hotel chains with some systems operating through iPads and a housekeeping solution to connect workers within the hotel including an offline feature.
Laborenz ended the tour with Micros, a company offering hotels the chance to comprehensive property management and a streamlined operations system to engage with customers. The system provides centralized reservations and applications in a single database, he added.This is strictly an exclusive feature, reprints of this article in any shape or form without prior written approval from 4Hoteliers.com is not permitted.
Louise Osborne is a correspondent and editor based in Berlin, Germany. She began her career working at regional newspapers in the UK and now works with journalists across the globe as part of international journalism organization, Associated Reporters Abroad (ARA). Living abroad for the second time, she continues to be fascinated by places both near and far, and boards a plane eagerly, as often as she can.
Besides the ITB Berlin 2014 live coverage, Louise also writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com