Andrey Shemyakin, SEA Company: "Russian Hotels Need Representative Offices"

Andrey Shemyakin, SEA Company: "Russian Hotels Need Representative Offices"
Andrey Shemyakin, SEA Company: "Russian Hotels Need Representative Offices"

Video: Andrey Shemyakin, SEA Company: "Russian Hotels Need Representative Offices"

Video: Andrey Shemyakin, SEA Company: "Russian Hotels Need Representative Offices"
Video: Anapa City Beach Russia August 2020 2023, March

The outgoing year has greatly changed the usual way of life for each of us, but the tourist market and with it the hotel business have suffered the most. Some could not survive the first months of the lockdown. But not all hotels are in a difficult situation, someone, at the end of the year, will nevertheless come close to the planned income. Andrey Shemyakin, founder and managing partner of PR and marketing company SEA Company, a member of the international network of independent PR agencies Travel Lifestyle Network, told RBC Style how they did it. In 2019 in London, she received the award for "Best PR and Consulting Agency for Tourism in Russia", according to the Global Hospitality Awards.

How can you explain the successful adaptation of international practices to the Russian hotel business? What practices are we talking about?

The hotel business can be divided into two large groups: hotels run by a professional operator (Radisson, Hilton, Keydom) and hotels run by our own resources. Each form has its own pros and cons. In the first group, I would like to note such a plus as a single streamlined sales and promotion channel. The fact is that hotel chains, as a rule, have GSO (Global Sales Office, head office of sales - RBC Style) in the capitals of the countries where the brand is present. Its main task is to build relationships in the B2B segment so that customers choose hotels of this brand.

Individual hotels do not have such an opportunity, because if your hotel is not in the capital, then opening your own sales office is simply economically unprofitable. There are examples when hoteliers did not believe this common truth and closed the GSO after a year or two, spending a large budget on it and not getting any return.

What to do in this case, because individual hotels also need to increase customer loyalty?

Ответ на этот вопрос нашли за рубежом. В конце 80-х начали открываться «представительства», которые предлагали наладить отношение с B2B-сегментом для индивидуального отеля, выстраивая их напрямую. Эти компании отличались высокой степенью профессионализма, знанием индустрии, хорошими отношениями с B2B-сегментом, а самое главное - формой оплаты их услуг. Работа представительств оплачивалась по фиксированной ежемесячной ставке, а не процентом с продаж (это отличает их от тревел-агентств). Со временем такие компании стали оказывать и PR-услуги, а также расширили свои сферы на продвижение DMC (Destination Management Company - условное название принимающей стороны, организующей трансферы, проживание, экскурсии и т.п. - «РБК Стиль»), стран и направлений. Именно такую практику - представительство отеля по продажам и PR в Москве - нам удалось адаптировать под российский внутренний рынок.

When a hotel is aimed at increasing the number of Russian guests or business travelers and is abroad, this approach is understandable. But why would a Russian hotel need it? They all speak the same language.

The domestic market works on the same principle, namely 85% of decision-makers in the B2B segment are located in Moscow. I am sure that many hoteliers from the regions, trying to get a corporate client who has a plant or other business in their city, often hear the phrase: “Moscow decides this”. A Russian hotel needs this, since “Moscow decides” a lot and you need not only to communicate regularly with B2B clients, but also to know their features, the specifics of working with hotels, regions of their interest, to understand how they work (directly or through business travel - agency), whether they have a "hotel program", which is formed once a year, or all individually.

There are a lot of questions and it is very difficult for a sales specialist from the regions of the Russian Federation to find answers to most of them. That is why top managers (general managers and sales directors) went to work in the regions, where they bring the necessary expertise. Moscow went through this in the 90s and early 2000s, when a foreigner was the head of each department and the general manager of the international hotel chain. The practice gained over almost 20 years helped to replace foreign leaders, and now Russian hoteliers, as bearers of knowledge, have taken them to other regions of our country.

Photo: press service
Photo: press service

© press service

How is this process organized in general?

The hotel, depending on the specifics, chooses the package for which it wants to cooperate with us. This can be the package "Hotel Sales Representation" aimed at the B2B segment (corporate clients, concierge clubs, travel agencies and tour operators, event organizers, etc.), the "Permanent PR-support" package aimed at for the B2C segment, which means an increase in the number of individual guests, as well as an SEO-promotion package aimed at increasing the number of bookings from the hotel's own website.

Each of the packages has a fixed monthly price and includes guaranteed activities. Most hotels work with us on three packages at once (we provide a good discount for this), but there are also those who choose one or two packages. When the contract is signed, let's say for the package "Hotel Sales Representation", our sales department starts the process of "activation": we arrive in the city, fully examine the hotel, see what marketing materials are, what needs to be done, our revenue manager studies the tariff policy hotel, looks at competitors and, if necessary, proposes changes. In general, we carry out a complete and detailed analysis of the current situation in hotel sales and offer a number of solutions, changes and improvements.

We try to do everything in the first weeks of work, because first of all, sales and hotel loading are expected from us, not analysts. Although, you cannot do a good job without it. When all the changes have been discussed and everything necessary for competent work has been formed, the SEA Company sales department goes "to the fields": it contacts our clients from the segment that was identified during the audit, tells them that we have a new hotel, learns all the necessary details for the start of cooperation. When the client is ready to sign the contract, our sales department directly introduces the client to the hotel representative and they sign a direct contract with each other (for the prices agreed by us for the client). The client pays directly to the hotel, he does not pay us anything.

Then, from time to time, we contact the client, find out how the cooperation with our hotel is going, and try to increase the volume if necessary. Actually, this is the essence of our work. Of course, auxiliary tools are also used here: regular information coverage of hotel news among our clients, marketing events and collaborations, study tours. Once a year, we invite hotel representatives to fly to Moscow for a business breakfast or dinner, during which our clients can personally communicate with the hotel management and just have a good time.

Why don't you work for a percentage of sales? After all, in fact, 90% of customers come from you.

The sales interest format is only possible when we fully manage the hotel and act as a hotel operator. Then we commit ourselves to budget, service quality and standards. In a situation with a representative office, we transfer the client directly to the hotel and ourselves motivate the client to pay and write to book directly to the hotel, so that we are not an extra link. Therefore, it will be very problematic to track the amount of armor later. And our task is different. We are engaged in proactive sales, our global task is to look for new customers and increase the volume from existing ones. If we bury ourselves in the commission calculations, we will lose our DNA and power.

Photo: press service
Photo: press service

© press service

Are there hotels in Russia that have already received evidence of the effectiveness of such cooperation?

One of our flagship hotels is located in Rostov-on-Don. Boutique Hotel 39 was opened for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and after the last matches had died down, it felt a drop in occupancy and that it was losing out to the network projects located in the city. We work together to this day.

Over the years, we have managed not only to build a base for a hotel of corporate clients (some of whom now prefer our hotel instead of a hotel under an international brand), but also to work on a sales strategy, build a competent pricing and carefully raise prices, getting more income from the same number of rooms. We conduct an active PR campaign and are engaged in SEO promotion, which positively affects the loading of the hotel by individual guests, we organize press tours, pay attention to reviews, work with SERM (Search Engine Reputation Management, reputation management in search results. - “RBK Style ") and many many others.

Our success, of course, would not have been possible without the incredible hotel team, who, with their southern hospitality, makes every guest fall in love with themselves. Our synergy is incredible, we feel like part of the hotel team, as it should be. This and other examples from Kazan and St. Petersburg allow us to state that we have proven the effectiveness of the international practice we have adapted; Russian hotels need representative offices.

Why, in your opinion, have not some individual Russian hotels still turned to SEA Company services?

It's about understanding what we are doing. Most want to offer us a percentage of sales and don't want to go into details. It doesn't work that way. But we tell the owners and investors about the need to work with a company like ours, not even as an "investment in the future", but as a way to get a stable load and income today. After all, after the pandemic (let's hope that the worst is over), the market has changed a lot and requires even more efforts.

We have proven the effectiveness of the international practice of hotel representation adapted by us.

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