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'Nepal’s hospitality industry will have to rely on domestic travel'

2021 Jan 25, 15:27, Kathmandu
This image shows Subodh Thapa, Head of Strategy - CRM & Loyalty Systems at BookingWhizz, a booking technology and online marketing firm. Photo: NepalNews
All travel indicators show that Nepal’s hospitality industry is going to have to rely on domestic travel in the medium term

Subodh Thapa is the Head of Strategy - CRM & Loyalty Systems at BookingWhizz, a booking technology and online marketing firm focused exclusively on the hotel industry. In a first of its kind, the company plans on strategic entry into South Asia and South-East Asian markets through Nepal. talked with him about how BookingWhizz can help hotels even as the pandemic has affected travel and tourism with uncertainty.

Tell us about BookingWhizz and its significance and presence globally and in Nepal? 

BookingWhizz is a booking technology and online marketing company. It was registered in the UK in 2009 and presently offers its services in 17 countries. Our portfolio includes 1,000+ hotels with over 35,000 rooms and we work with both independent hotels and international brands.

The company helps hoteliers take control over the booking process and turn their websites into the main and most powerful sales tool. Our hand-picked team with extensive management experience and skills in the hospitality sector has been working on this idea since then and has developed a complete product with a wide range of powerful in-house solutions and services whose primary goal is driving more bookings.

BookingWhizz has made a strategic entry into the South Asia and South-East Asian markets through Nepal. Business in these markets will be developed and overseen from Nepal. This is a first for any international hospitality solutions company.

What are the advantages that you offer hotels that work with BookingWhizz?

All our tools and solutions are designed with Return on Investment (ROI) in mind. We bring the power of automation to the forefront in optimising our clients' online presence, be it guest communication or establishing optimum rates.

Our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions assist clients in increasing ROI and the Loyalty Programme Suite helps in enhancing incremental revenues through increased loyalty.

In the present context of the travel industry being hit by the pandemic, what can BookingWhizz do for the hospitality industry that is in crisis at the moment?

A typical response for any industry in distress is what we all know as 'fight or flight'! Turning away from the issue is not going to make it go away.

All travel indicators show that Nepal’s hospitality industry is going to have to rely on domestic travel in the medium term.

We are advising our clients to utilise the potential of their past data, with the help of our CRM solutions, to stay connected with guests, offering them a better experience as well as use the technology to upsell services, cross market properties within the group and generate incremental revenues.

In the worst case, the hotel will have maintained excellent customer satisfaction by staying connected with the guest… in the best scenario, it will be the incremental revenues generated… all with the help of technology and automation.

How do you see the recovery of the hospitality industry and what role can your solutions play in this?

All expert indications point towards 2023/24 for the industry to attain pre-COVID-19 levels. But this is a perfect opportunity for hotels and the industry to sharpen its focus on domestic business. Frankly, any operation that is able to reach the operational breakeven point in this present situation is doing well.

As mentioned earlier, our marketing solutions actually enable hotels to constantly 'up sell' services thereby creating 'incremental revenues' not only from current but future bookings as well. By the time travel and hospitality rebound, hotels that have embraced new technologies, CRM systems will be primed to take full advantage of these tools!

You have been interacting with various hotels. What kind of response are you receiving for BookingWhizz?

Our online booking tools are already in place with 40+ hotels across Nepal. The CRM and Loyalty Programme suites were launched in December 2020 and these have also been received favourably... We are in active discussions with several clients and hope to start deployment in the coming weeks.

What do you see as the biggest challenges today to hotels in Nepal and how much of these can be overcome by your technology?

With the sharp decline in revenues, the biggest challenge facing the hotel industry is to do with managing or optimising operational costs. But as we say… the show must go on.

So hotels need to stay connected with their loyal and regular clients, they need to reassure the customers that they are open for business with the latest prescribed safety protocols. All these and more communication can be done through technology, safely and economically.   

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