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Join Bookassist at ITB Berlin

By Editor | On Wed, February 26, 2014

Join Bookassist at ITB Berlin from March 4 to March 9. We have a full team there, with representatives from all our offices in Dublin, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Vienna, Prague and Munich.

You can find us at Stand 108, Hall 8.1 and we would love to speak to you about our unique and award-winning highly-integrated 360° Direct Booking solution for hotels.

Contact us now at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to arrange an appointment.

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Irish Examiner Interview with Bookassist CEO

By Editor | On Fri, February 14, 2014

Bookassist CEO talks about the company’s growth, the recovery in the Irish hotel industry and the challenges facing hotels today​ and in the future.

Interview by John Daly, February 14, 2014. © Irish Examiner (Click image for PDF version download)

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© Irish ExaminerFOUNDED in 1999, Bookassist says it manages hotels’ online digital strategy to maximise its online presence and help drive direct booking revenue. Self-financed and consistently profitable, the company utilises scientific research in helping realise revenue for its hospitality industry clients, as well as its internet consultancy in enterprise level software development.

As part of the Travel Technology Europe trade fair in London last week, Bookassist CEO Des O’Mahony was honoured by HSMAI Europe in their first ever list of ‘Top 20 Extraordinary Minds in Sales, Marketing and Technology’. HSMAI is a global organisation of sales and marketing professionals of over 7,000 members from 35 countries and chapters worldwide.

“The most important aspect is that these awards represent real industry recognition for the levels of service we maintain,” he says. “I’m sure they give our clients a sense of affirmation about the choice they have made to work with us. Awarding bodies like the World Travel Awards or the HSMAI are highly credible international industry insiders and we’re fortunate to have been honoured by them.”

With revenues having continually grown year-on-year over the 15 years to date, Bookassist currently handles almost 200m annually in direct hotel booking value for its clients. With 70 staff currently spread across seven offices in Dublin, Paris, Madrid, Rome, Vienna, Prague and Munich, the company looks to continued expansion in 2014.

“There is quite a lot of Europe that we haven’t fully exploited yet. One key part of our business plan is continued expansion with a focus on Europe, and we expect to open at least one new office in 2014.”

With the nature of the Bookassist business being very local, the company assembles a team on the ground in each market with local experience who speak the language and understand the local context.

“This has differentiated us from competitors who operate a more centralised approach because the reality is the hotel business is really a very local business with each location facing its own unique set of challenges,” he explains. “We continue to grow, and have done so for 15 years, and we certainly see more jobs in new and existing marketplaces, as well as more jobs back home at our Dublin’s headquarters to support that expansion.”

The majority of Bookassist’s 1,500 clients are made up of independent and boutique hotels, as well as small independent hotel groups comprising up to 20 establishments. “The larger branded chains tend to have their own technology teams in place to run their digital operations, while our niche is to be able to bring high quality software and digital services to the individual hotel that could otherwise not afford to do it to an expert level in house.”

Looking to the main challenges facing the hotel industry in 2014, Des O’Mahony sees a number of areas essential to successful trading.

“The reality is that there are many, from cost structure, to staffing and training, digital security and challenges from relatively new areas such as social media, the sharing economy,” he says. The breadth of knowledge now required in the digital landscape can be daunting for the average hotel — with the rate of change is continually increasing through ongoing expansion of mobile and social media.

“What we can bring is economy of scale, where we have teams of revenue, digital marketing and technology experts who are continually up-skilling and researching new trends. We can distil this knowledge and experience down for each client hotel. We are also uniquely placed with diverse experience across many markets, all in different stages of development, so we can take experience from a more advanced market and use it in a less advanced one to very positive effect to keep our clients ahead of the curve.”

Another technical challenge currently confronting hotels is a failure to improve infrastructure quickly enough to accommodate the increasingly digital-savvy traveller. “Poor wi-fi services, or services being charged for, represent the largest single complaint that travellers make on online review sites. Failure to tackle this has a strong direct effect on hotel’s bottom line. Wi-fi needs to be fast and free. The customer has already voted on this one,” he adds.

In a world now inextricably linked through cyberspace, the Irish hotel industry compares very favourably to its international counterparts. “In terms of technology buy-in and understanding of the digital marketing landscape, Ireland is one of the more advanced markets that we are in,” he says. “Hotels here place a strong emphasis on channelling direct sales to their own websites, where their margin on the sale is highest. The quality of websites, the level of understanding of digital marketing and social media, the volume of direct business and the level of investment being made is generally quite high,” he adds.

After a five-year period where the hotel industry experienced was hit badly by the recession some of the more challenging demands of recession economics, Des O’Mahony says he sees a more confident attitude apparent in these early months of 2014.: “I definitely think there has been a real shift and there is a general sense of positive movement for the year ahead,” he says. “Hotel occupancy has recovered, and rates, while still deflated from their peak, are working their way up again. Budgets are still constrained, however, and if there is a weakness here it would be that hotels are taking short-term views on a cost basis alone without fully considering the long-term view.” Sometimes costs are not just costs — they can be justifiable investments in the future and a source of real revenue growth longer term.”

In an industry constantly looking to new and better templates for attracting trade, he sees more innovations in the online space as hotels compete for the diverse and tech savvy travellers of the future.

“The requirements for the future will relate to ensuring that guest demands are met in terms of technology provision and variation of product,” he believes.

“Because the guest is more and more online, and more mobile, and can shop around easily, there has been a substantial change in how hotels package their product, splitting breakfasts from room prices, offering better rates for 100% up front payment, and offering steeper discounts for longer stays.”

It is a product innovation driven by demand. “In terms of technology changes, I would say that honestly hotels should not be so worried about the future — there is so much in the present that they are still not fully embracing, they really should focus on getting that right first.”

Interview by John Daly, February 14, 2014. © Irish Examiner


“Extraordinary Minds” HSMAI award for Bookassist CEO

By Editor | On Tue, February 04, 2014

​London, February 4

 Bookassist CEO Dr Des O’Mahony has been honoured by HSMAI Europe in their first ever list of “Top 20 Extraordinary Minds in Sales, Marketing and Technology”

The awards list was unveiled at a dinner and ceremony held by the HSMAI in Jumeirah Carlton Towers hotel in London this evening as part of the Travel Technology Europe trade fair currently taking place in Earl’s Court London.

Speaking after the ceremony, Des said “I am truly humbled by the award, from such a prestigious organisation, and it came as a complete surprise to me and to everyone in Bookassist. To be among those in the first group ever recognised in this way by the HSMAI is a very real honour, which I share with everyone who works with me in the Bookassist team.”

HSMAI is a global organisation of sales and marketing professionals representing all segments of the hospitality industry. With a strong focus on education, HSMAI has become the industry champion in identifying and communicating trends in the hospitality industry while operating as a leading voice for both hospitality and sales and marketing management disciplines, as well as connecting its members with customers.

Founded in 1927, HSMAI is an individual membership organisation comprised of nearly 7000 members from 35 countries and chapters worldwide.

“The Top 20 will become our annual hot list, that celebrates the sales, marketing and technology leaders and innovators in our industry,” says Ingunn Hofseth, president of HSMAI Europe.

“The creative strategies, passionate dedication and sharp intelligence of these professionals have not only grown the business within their organisations but have also truly raised the bar for the hospitality industry as a whole.”

For more, see: http://hsmai-europe.com/2014/02/05/top-20-extraordinary-minds-in-european-travel-and-hospitality-named-2/


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