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Hospitality Monthly Review - Rates, VAT and Karen's diner: February

Updated: Feb 29




Hospitality Monthly Review Show - February 2024 edition with our two panellists Thibault Catala, CEO, Catala Consulting and Jonny Siberry, Group Revenue Manager, Sarova

In our review shows, we look at pressing issues in the industry, as well as the landscape in front of us - getting insider knowledge from our expert panel. 


In this episode, I’ll take a moment to introduce our panellists and what makes them tick, as we tackle What lies ahead in 2024, yes - we’ll be looking at:


  • 2024 on the books, what’s the data telling us

  • Industry challenges

  • Consumer travel trends

  • And finally, l’ll put my panellists through their paces as we dive into the Quick Quiz. Head to Head - Who will be the true industry expert in this months’ edition?


DISCLAIMER - All opinions are their own.


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Programme Notes


This episode has been automatically transcribed by AI, please excuse any typos or grammatical errors


Ryan Haynes:

Welcome to the new Hospitality Monthly. Review Show February 2024 edition with our panel, Thibault Catala, CEO of Catala Consulting, and Johnny Siberry Group Revenue Manager. At Rova In. our review shows we look at pressing issues in the industry, as well as the landscape in front of us getting insider knowledge from our expert panel In. this episode, I'll take a moment to introduce our panellists and what makes 'em tick as we tackle What lies ahead in 2024, we'll be looking at 2024 on the books, what's the data telling usIndustry challenges consumer travel trends. Finally, I'll put my panellists through their paces as we dive into the quick quiz head to head, who will be the true industry expert in next month's edition.

 

Ryan Haynes:

DISCLAIMER All opinions are their own. I'm your host, Ryan Haynes. Let's get on with the show.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Hello. Hello. Hello. Hello. Hi guys. Thank you very much for joining me Tippo. Johnny, it's great to have you guys here. Thank you so much for joining us. So, Thibault Catala, CEO of Catala Consulting. You've been working in the hospitality industry and working across quite a bit, really. Do you wanna give us a bit of background and cover off really sort of like what makes you shine in the industry?

 

Thibault Catala:

Okay, yeah. So my name is Thibault Katara. I'm the founder and managing director of Cataract Consulting. We are an outsource revenue management company based in, in London, but we are looking at a portfolio of hotels across Europe and, and yeah, what makes me shine actually, I, I don't know, but we are, we are quite approachable and, and very efficient. We are optimizing a large portfolio across Europe and we are driven by, of course, the results. But yeah, that's, how my team has been, has been wonderful and, and we have seen some significant growth in the last few, few months, few years as well. So yeah, happy to be here and share my insight and ideas on some various topics.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, I mean, you're no stranger. Some of some of these panels and podcasts you've been in quite evolving, quite a few and certainly where we got to meet one another over the years and had the opportunity to exchange a lot of ideas. Now, what are you expecting from the UK and European market to perform this year?

 

Thibault Catala:

Well, first of all, we have seen a strong start in, in the uk in, in, in Europe with January being a, a good month. And we see that Q1 will be, will be quite a strong quarter as well across Europe and, and the uk We have a bit less, people are are still watching for what's going to happen this year because you see, you see like there's a lot of uncertainties around geopolitical trends, the cost of living, which is increasing. So there's a lot of uncertainties in 2024 that people are still watching to see what's going to happen. But in a very short term like January Q1, we see already some strong growth and step by step we are, we are seeing some recovery for, for some key market like the corporate, the leisure and, and so on.

 

Thibault Catala:

But I'm quite optimistic about 2024 and I still believe we all should focus on the, on the positive things. But there's some uncertainty for the rest of the year that needs to be developed and, and closely monitor. But so far I believe it to be, to be good year.

 

Ryan Haynes:

I mean, we aren't gonna be diving a little bit deeper into some of these uncertainties, but could you off the top of your head, just tell us a couple that you think, you know, we just need to be a little bit wary of at the moment?

 

Thibault Catala:

Hmm. I think the biggest one nowadays it's geo geopolitical tension and that's putting a lot of pressure on the international market. Even if you, if you see what's going on in France with the current strikes, that being all over the news in as well in Europe and you know, like international market, when they see some kind of chaos anywhere in Europe or in Paris, they believe like full Europe is on fire. So that's also impacting the Tourism trends for Europe and for some key cities

 

Ryan Haynes:

Coming over to Johnny Siberry, the Group, Revenue Manager at Sarova Hotels. Thanks again for joining us. So tell us about Sarova group there.

 

Jonny Siberry:

Rova has been in the UK since about 1980, I think it was first incorporated over there. There's a, there's a, a branch in Kenya as well where it originally started. It's a family-owned business and remains family-owned to this day. And some of the brothers back in the, you know, late seventies came over to the UK and, you know, acquired a few properties and have been in the business of hospitality ever since. And they've, you know, bought and sold and moved on and developed and so on. Many hotels in their time. And at the moment we've got four properties in the UK.

 

Jonny Siberry:

We've got the Rembrandt in London, which is the flagship in Knightsbridge, just opposite the V&A museum we've got. So Christopher Renin, Windsor, the Bull Hotel in Jared's Cross and the Abian Great Malvern. And at the moment all of our focus is on making them as brilliant as we can do.

 

Ryan Haynes:

You've been there quite a while, John, because that's where you and I first crossed paths and yeah, this was, this was quite a while ago in one of my first roles in the industry, but I understand it's also where you started your career more or less, wasn't it?

 

Jonny Siberry:

It’s not long after I started my career. I, I did hotel management at university and actually in Bermuda. I lived there for three years. Wow. Which was amazing. I have to be honest, I spent most of the three years on the beach and paring, but I was 18, 19, 20, so what can you expect? But I've graduated from there. I left Bermuda, came back in from Ireland originally, but I came back to the UK and settled here and I worked three years as a night manager and a, a reception manager in Bloomsbury and then left from there, went to Sarova, was there for two years, this is mid-nineties.

 

Jonny Siberry:

I left again, moved on to a few other properties and hotel companies around London and came back again in 2005 to Sarova. And I've been there ever since. I'm almost 20 years this tour of duty. And if you add on the previous tour, I'm already over 20 years at Sarova. Great company. It, it's a family. It's not, it's not just a job or an office where you go to the whole philosophy and discipline within, within the buildings and all of the staff. I mean, I'm 20 years there and that's not long service. There are people who've been there for over 30, 35 and 40 years. Wow. Literally since their first job from school and have been there ever since.

 

Jonny Siberry:

And it's just a great place. They look after the staff and the guests really well. So

 

Ryan Haynes:

That's lovely. There you go. We can't hear that so much anymore do you where there's actually that firstly a family environment but also of retention to be there for such a long period of time and people are really happy to stay at the company that long. So you've seen so many changes. You went through that disastrous 2008 period onwards and now you've come through that pandemic onto the other side as we come through into 2024, you know, we've just entered February. Any interesting booking patterns you've seen so far?

 

Jonny Siberry:

Oh my god, booking patterns are just, there's no pattern. It's out the window. Honestly. We, the pickup and the new business that we were receiving in early January were unprecedented for us. It was manic busy. The phones, and emails for bedrooms and event business were crazy. We, the, the biggest volume of new business that we've ever seen in that, you know, the first couple of weeks of the year in terms of patterns, it didn't last because then as we got into the second half of January, it reverted to what January normally is, where the phones, quiet emails acquired, really can't put a finger on why or explain why, but it, it's unusual.

 

Jonny Siberry:

We're at the mentality now of adapting day to day depending on what comes in. We seasonality don’t exist. There are no trends. We've stopped comparing to, you know, 2019 and before because whatever business and patterns that we had back then, which was consistent, it doesn't exist anymore. In 2022, we were just coming outta lockdown, all bets were off. 2023 was a reasonably free and open year for travel. But again, patterns then compared to now, we're just seeing no, no consistency, no consistency.

 

Jonny Siberry:

2023, there was very little rate resistance. And as we know, industry-wise costs not just our industry, but all industries, food costs and utility costs and staffing costs are going up and up and up and up. To maintain a business, you've got to be able to obviously cover those costs and so your selling price has to go up and in 2023 it did. We're now seeing a little bit more price resistance in 2024. We're not able to drive rates as much as we have done, but we're now being able to drive more occupancy at the higher rates and that's kind, so that's a switch in strategy for us from last year to this year.

 

Jonny Siberry:

And we've accepted that that's the way it is, that's the market and you know, we need to adapt our rate pricing strategy or revenue management strategy and, and go after the, you know, the customer base in that direction.

 

Ryan Haynes:

It's interesting, I mean we're just looking at some of the data and this is from ST's latest forecast for 2024 that still shows that shows rates are still growing, but around 3%, so not a huge level of growth there. And perhaps when you put inflation on top of that, is there an actual rate of growth? Is there actual revenue growth? It’s when you hear those sorts of numbers, is that in line with what you are seeing Johnny? Is there a concern there that, you know, you, you will see revenue sort of decline over this year even if rates are increasing?

 

Jonny Siberry:

I don't think this was, we won't see revenue decrease, but we'll probably see profitability decrease food costs and utility costs have seemed to stabilise and even wage costs have also stabilized quite a lot compared to what it was 2022 and 2023 where it was literally, it was at control, growth was unstoppable, but it stabilized. We've acclimatized our pricing accordingly. We've controlled our costs accordingly as well as best you can. So we're kind of at a stalemate position now, but small increases in rate maybe I think 3% even is a bit ambitious and it's early to tell and you know, I, I've seen other reports and forecasts for the year that say rates are gonna drop and some say they're up and frankly nobody knows, really nobody knows.

 

Jonny Siberry:

We're just gonna have to make the best of it. Use our experience, our education, and the data that we've got to plan and strategize as best we can and hope for the best.

 

Ryan Haynes:

I mean obviously, we're talking about unpredictability and being weary of things. So coming into this year, how are you seeing great rates? When we look at sort of STR's latest forecasts,

 

Thibault Catala:

I still believe there are some opportunities for rate growth because, at the end of the day, the markets will dictate the rate of growth. So your market, your competitor will, will drive this kind of of movement. And if the full market, for example in London starts to grow by three 4% because they need to absorb the inflation as well, you will automatically follow. Now at the end of the day, it's not like black or white. Do we grow or rate or do we focus much more on occupancy? It really depends on your current business. It really depends on if you have been through this kind of renovation recently or if you have repositioned. So, I've seen some hotels, even this year we have grown by 20 30% on rate, but because they're in this phase of acceleration and they have better products and offers where I've seen some hotels which have actually dropped the rate compared to last year.

 

Thibault Catala:

So, I don't think there is like one-and-for-all answer to this question, I believe we just need to be a balanced and agile, you know, strategy. I agree with John, there's still some season in the market that we can identify and predict. However, the short, we still see a very short booking window, like where people are just focusing on the next few weeks and that's the kind of visibility we have right now and that's also putting a lot of pressure and certainty for the rest of the year. But, but just kind of pattern of, of changing the food market and again, in your pricing strategy, relying on, okay, the good feeling is important, don't get me wrong, but I believe today you have some, some tools such as bank pricing or powered by machine learning and AI that can always identify some patterns and, and, and opportunities that are not visible by human and that kind of tools I've seen some good growth on, on, on to help achieve the, the not only the rate growth, not only the occupancy growth but the RevPAR growth.

 

Thibault Catala:

And I think that those kind of tools needs to be leveraged and the adoption of those tools in the market is still at a very low point. But for anyone listening, even if you have it or if you don't, I encourage you to be curious and to see those tools because they work and they help you support your growth as well.

 

Ryan Haynes:

And you use those tools in Catala Consulting, do you?

 

Thibault Catala:

We do. We have our own BI tool to gather all the data for all our clients in a single platform and we also recommend sourcing and deploying dynamic pricing tools, and revenue management systems for clients. And this worked when we saw moving from a fixed rate for the full year or for one month. Like we have one rate for one month and then another one for a second month, which still exists by the way to the full bank pricing when we do like between thousand, 2000, and 3000 change a day with some systems that are black and white and the performance has been growing quite fast as well with, with the use of the tools.

 

Ryan Haynes:

And it's, it is fascinating. I've had this conversation a few times and I know it is a different segment in accommodation, but with self-service apartments and also with Airbnbs and, or even holiday rentals they absolutely did test the dynamic pricing and pricing tools that are available to them often that are run through a lot of the platforms that they're using to sell. And the reason they have, they are, they have this feeling is because they have recurring customers and their customers are used to paying a particular rate and if that rate drastically changes or they lose that customer and often they don't then get the occupancy that they need.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Actually, a lot of them have decided to completely switch off any dynamic pricing and go back to the old way of pricing of just having flat rates for certain periods of the year to guarantee those customers and also to look after the guests that they, they've they've been having for, for such a long time. And, and that those recurring guests, because as you say, you know, yes, you've gotta take into account the fact that costs are, are, are increasing inflation, et cetera, but at the same time you, you know, people sort of budget a certain amount for a certain holiday for a certain time of year and if that, that, that that trip is, is gonna be significantly more than they budgeted for, you've either put them off totally your brand or your business and therefore they end up looking elsewhere or just abandoning it altogether.

 

Ryan Haynes:

It's it, I guess for corporate hotels when there is sort of money to flex there. But I do sort of query this for more the leisure and particularly non-city leisure hotels.

 

Thibault Catala:

But for me, I think it's a, it's a balance between your bank pricing tools as well. Use your CRM correctly and your information on your guests and make sure you identify the long-term value of each of your guests. Because those guests, most probably will call the hotel, they won't book online. They will book on your website and when they call the hotel, you have this chance to make a difference or to maybe replicate the same rate that they had before or to add value to the current offer at the same price. But you have the chance to make good to them when, when, when they call you the bank pricing works because that's playing with, with, with the full data and not only the regular guest, but that's, I believe the, the right most optimal approach.

 

Thibault Catala:

It's using those tools for tank pricing and using it with your CRM to make sure you understand the LTVs, and the long-term value of each of your customers and personalize it as much as possible to make sure you continue with your regular guests and you don't disappoint them because the price had increased. I fully understand this, and that's very important to consider.

 

Jonny Siberry:

I was just going to say, that I totally agree with what Tibo was just saying about customers and, and pricing. We, prices we know 'cause we're involved in the industry and prices vary massively from January to say June or July, you know, from low low season to peak season. They can double or triple sometimes and that's just demand pricing. That's the way it is. We understand that, that a lot of our customers and, and guests don't overly get it. And like you say too, they pay one price once they want to come back, they love their experience, wanna come back and they've gotta book again and it's two, three times the price and looking after.

 

Jonny Siberry:

And I look at pretty much all of the emails that we receive in our central reservations inbox on a daily basis. I'll scan through them and, and just have a look. And I think it's important for me to get a sense of what our customers are asking us, what they want, what they need or what they're looking for. And I often see that question or we, we stayed with you, some of them as extreme as I stayed with you in 1986 and it was four, four pounds and three shillings and now it's 500 pounds. Why has it gone up so much? That's rare, but you know, a lot of people who stayed last year and they wanna stay this year or pre covid and they wanna come back again and things like that and prices have changed and although the published rate is X number of pounds, whatever it is, you know, absolutely.

 

Jonny Siberry:

We are more than happy to look at this customer and look at the profile under history and go, you know what, we'd love to have you back and there's a special for you. You can look 20 or 30 or 50% off or whatever, or you can have this price or if you wait till next week or next month, we're going to send out an email campaign with a, a winter sale offer or a summer sale or an Easter offer or whatever it's gonna be. You're on the database when that comes through, you know, keep an eye out for a book it and this is what the price is gonna be and we'll tip people off in that way. But in the normal run of life, we've got a really simple strategy.

 

Jonny Siberry:

It's so basic. We offer in all four of our hotels, everything includes breakfast. We don't do room-only rates, everything includes breakfast. You've got non-refundable and you've got fully flexible. That's it. Two rate plans all include breakfast, and all room types, and we distribute, distribute them through our own website. And the two main OTAs, that's our public face. We don't get complicated with a six-month discount or a dinner package or a room only and breakfast and length of stay. 10 nights is this price or five nights is that price and all this stuff. It just complicates things. The bookers, they don't understand it.

 

Jonny Siberry:

It's what is the paralysis by analysis? Oh,

 

Ryan Haynes:

I completely agree Johnny. I was looking at booking a hotel recently, a luxury hotel down in Devon and they had about seven or eight different rooms. They had about nine different room rates for each room. And I was bumbo I like, I love this hotel, it's a beautiful hotel, but firstly, I can't tell the difference between three different types of rooms apart from I think that one's an extra three square feet bigger. Yeah, I don't understand why they're offering me breakfast, a dinner option, a room-only option. There were two or three other options and I was like, well why can't you just add that on later in, in the process? You're really confusing me here and, in the end, as you say paralysis like I need to have a proper long conversation with someone to make that decision.

 

Ryan Haynes:

The idea that everything comes with breakfast or it's only room and you've gotta add everything else on. That's why I tend to find it so much easier just to go to Premier Inn because I not.

 

Jonny Siberry:

No, how dare you. Shame on you Mr. Haynes. Anyway, but you know what, similarly, they keep it simple. It's simple, straightforward, you know what you're booking, you book it done end of, and then you just turn up and stay and, and we have the same sort of philosophy. We've had it for 20 years and it works well and we've always seen in our STR results and forecast and rate shoppers and stuff, I've, I don't know if this is the right forum to use this expression, but I've used it internally. It's kind of like the, the, the hare of the tortoises, whereas all the other hotels are the hares that just go racing off into the hair and go, oh, let's complicate this room type and this one faces east, so that's a different type.

 

Jonny Siberry:

And you get the sun in the morning, that one faces west, you get the sun in the evening and, and all of this and breakfast and dinner and blah blah blah. And we just go, look, it's a superior, an executive or a club room. Pay now pay later. That's it. And we just follow slowly behind with our simple pricing strategy. But we've always held more than our fair market share and in most cases exceeded the results of our SDR comp set and the guys who complicate the thing and try to make it creative and imaginative and all the rest of it. We just plot along slowly behind them. But we always seem to be in the lead with a bigger market share, better rate, and better profitability.

 

Jonny Siberry:

And it works.

 

Ryan Haynes:

It's interesting. We perhaps have two panellists here who have very opposing views. One is perhaps a hare, one is perhaps a tortoise. We'll find out a bit more in a moment as we look more into the news that's current

 

Ryan Haynes:

And now we're gonna be diving into the news. So a quick response session hopefully from our panelists to get their thoughts on some of these developments that are happening in the industry news that is pretty much fresh off the press. So first one, MPS back calls for Hospitality VAT cut in parliamentary debate. The UK has one of the highest rates of VAT for Hospitality in Europe, which is a significant drag on our competitiveness on the world stage, although it does sit behind Denmark, which is at 25% UK at 20% see Greece at 13%, Spain, 10% Germany, 7%. So to both of you, what, where do you stand on this and how much will it really sort of massage and improve the opportunity for the hospitality industry to really drive forward?

 

Thibault Catala:

I think we should, I think we should push for it. I think we should push for it to bring back the UK in a competitive environment. Right now, not only from the hospitality industry but economically speaking in the UK. I'm not an expert on the clinical dynamic of the country. But seeing the, for example, like the Swiss France, GP, the pound has been very weak and is getting weaker and weaker. And that's a sign as well that the economy in the UK is not going in the right direction. So I think we need any initiatives to bring back this, this competitiveness of the UK market in regard to another more competitive market.

 

Thibault Catala:

And I believe the VAT cut could be a, could be significant help for the hospitality industry. I know that some big players in the market in the UK  are pushing for this and yeah, I believe we should try to go this way.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Do you really see it hindering your business, Johnny?

 

Jonny Siberry:

It depends. I mean, Firstly, I don't think the government ever going to reduce it full stop, but it depends on what if they did hypothetically what angle do they take? Are they going to, like they did in during the covid time when they reduced the VAT level but made it explicitly clear that saving was not for the customer's benefit, but was for the business's benefit to be able to retain more of the revenue? Or is it going to be like it was 10 or 12 years ago when they reduced it from 17 and a half to 15, where the message was explicitly clear that the VAT saving was to be passed on to the customer?

 

Jonny Siberry:

So again, I can't see it happening. If the message is to help boost the business's profitability and the company can retain the savings. I mean, yes, it will make a difference, but from experience, I know that we will get a lot of angry people who will want the discount or the benefit of the discount given to them. And it's a difficult conversation.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Did You find it when you had to pass it back to the customer when it went down to 15%, did you, did you feel it recharged the business from a consumer perspective? Did you see much more purchases and revenue coming through

 

Jonny Siberry:

As not really? Not really, certainly not revenue because I mean we were, we were getting the same net revenue overall back in that period. And when it happened, there was a lot of travel restrictions. The world wasn't in a great place. We rely on a lot of corporate business and if corporate companies aren't travelling because of, you know, global situations or economic situations, then they're not gonna travel regardless of what the VAT rate is. So, it's nice in theory and it's a great idea if it was rolled out and, and the message, like I said before is the benefit is to the business, not the customer.

 

Jonny Siberry:

Because if you, if you're willing to spend a hundred pounds or 200 pounds on a hotel as a private traveller, the VAT rates are relevant to you. If it's 1% or 50%, it makes no difference. You've still got to spend that price to stay in the hotel. But it does impact and benefit the business hugely if it's a lower VAT rate. Now if you're a corporate traveller or a, you know, a corporate customer that makes a big difference to your travel because you are, let's take a round number, a hundred pounds purchase price. The vats are relevant to you.

 

Jonny Siberry:

So when you net it out, you could be paying anything from 75 80 pounds to 90, 95 pounds. So your cost is as significant as the person paying the bill. And then corporate customers are gonna go, oh, we used to pay 80 pounds and now we've gotta pay 90 pounds. But actually, the total spend price is the same, but it's costing us more money. We can't afford To Travel as much or we can't afford to send as many people off to this hotel or that hotel for their conferences or events or travelling salesman or whatever it might be. And therefore they put a moratorium on it and go no initial travel. And then the hotel loses out.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Story number two, only 27% of travellers rebook the same hotel amid the cost-of-living crisis. So according to the 2023 UK hospitality impact study, guests also started taking fewer holidays, taking shorter tr shorter breaks and opting for staycations as a way of combating the cost-of-living crisis. I mean, BOL you work across Europe, you've got hotels, properties that you look after. Are you sort of seeing these sorts of patterns happen across Europe? Europeans are staying put perhaps and, and or, and rebooking hotels more and are maybe not taking so many longer overseas holidays or abroad holidays?

 

Thibault Catala:

I have a different feeling about the data we are seeing right now. For example, we are seeing quite, a big uptrend when it comes to the vacation for February, like the coming winter holidays. But yet we have, we are behind when it comes to the Easter vacation in March and in April. So I feel as well going back to the, to the shorter booking window where people are protecting themself in a very short period, but not much more in advance. I feel as well that people may be tempted To, Travel less, but spend maybe the same in a shorter period of time. So, for example, we are seeing like a maybe slightly longer left of stay where you are staying longer in a, in a hotel rather than before.

 

Thibault Catala:

But I don't feel that will come back later in, in the year. So that's kind of a changing trend we are seeing right now. And that's most probably linked to the, to the cost of living as you mentioned, where people are, are, are counting every, every sense can and making sure they allocate the budget accordingly. 'cause that's becoming very expensive now with the flight because hotel is one, but now even the flight are on the roof for some destination that's the cost which are also impacting the full, the full dynamics. So yeah, I believe there's a lot of change on the, on the, on the customer behaviour. Staycation is something which has been very popular right after the pandemic or during the pandemic as well. And that's a new trend that we are seeing. So yes, a staycation is very popular in the UK Like in London we are seeing a lot of people like doing staycation, but in other destinations, staycation is not as popular as we see currently in the UK.

 

Thibault Catala:

But yeah, definitely some changing trends.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Now Johnny, you, I mean you said that you had introduced a loyalty program members club within Three River Hotels. Now within this report as well, it said that 62% are also said to be interested in loyalty programs that would really help them rebook, making them more likely to rebook. How is that sort of loyalty program going for you and are you seeing more of your customers rebook because of their experience and, and and is it higher this year on the books or has it been higher in the last couple of years than previously?

 

Jonny Siberry:

We've experimented in this field for many years previously. We, we, so the current program we have, we refer to it more as a members program than a loyalty program. The difference is that generally you expect better benefits the more loyal you are, whereas currently we're just offering a, you know, at the moment a fixed discount for members and they can avail of that, which non-members don't see whether you stay one night or a never again, or if you stay 20, 30 nights a year, you you, you get the same benefit of the rate discount.

 

Jonny Siberry:

So, there's no additional benefit for your extended loyalty if that makes sense. And I don't want to disrespect the term of loyalty, by all means, please come back and keep staying with us and we'll keep giving you the discount price. We used to run a loyalty program where you got additional instate benefits as well. We found that the very high signup rate, but the extended loyalty to that program was incredibly low.

 

Jonny Siberry:

And we would get, you know, several thousand people a year sign up to the program and maybe 1% of them would rebook and it was an expensive program to maintain for us.

 

Ryan Haynes:

And tip you got something to say? Come on.

 

Thibault Catala:

Yeah, because I don't think it's the loyalty program as such, which will incentivise the people to book or not book, but it's more about the personalization of your experience and the communication as well, which makes people rebook to a specific hotel. And it all starts by having the right data. So, by setting up the right program, you also show an intention that to keep, to keep your data and to keep updated with what's going on with this specific property. So, you collect data to make sure the next time you come the communication that you receive is much more personalized than before. And for me, as such, I would love to come back to a property saying like, welcome back Mr. Katara. You would like to see the same room as you had before.

 

Thibault Catala:

And I know that you took the quarter from IG Pizza. I would like the same tonight at dinner. And that's the wall. And that's something which is not expensive. That's not only happening in the four seasons or only happening in a rosewood. That's something with the right data and the right information. Yeah. And maybe the simple loyalty program to identify your most regular guest that you can do. And that will be a big wall and people will keep going back for years and four years.

 

Ryan Haynes:

So talking about personalized experiences then this is our new story, and three, our final new story before we head over to the quiz. So that is a new London hotel? Yes, it's, it's a London hotel owned by the restaurant chain that owns Karen's diner. On the website, it says, that if you thought Karen's Diner was bad, you've seen nothing yet, welcome to Karen's hotel, possibly the worst hotel stay you'll ever encounter. Get ready for an absurdly fun experience. Prices start at 179 pounds for a package of two. It includes an overnight stay at the hotel and a meal at Karen's Diner as well as breakfast in the morning.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Guys, are you in, are you going, are you heading to Karen's hotel?

 

Thibault Catala:

I won't mind.

 

Jonny Siberry:

Maybe

 

Thibault Catala:

I wouldn't mind. No, but it's very interesting because it's a perfect illustration of a new trend, which is all about experiences. People are, are looking for experiences, they're looking for, for physical and yeah. Ex experiences where they can feel and they can, they can touch, touch and be there. People have been very tired of being locked down, being in front of a screen and so on. They want to go there experience and get smashed in the face by, by, by the Karen's current's dinner and Karen's experience and as part of the thing they go back home with to their friend and say like, oh, this, this one, that was the worst. I got smashed. And, and the people were swearing at me and they, they throw a bill at me and so on.

 

Thibault Catala:

But it, it's a story to tell. That's an experience and that's what people are looking after. That's, I believe it's, it's genius.

 

Jonny Siberry:

It's, it's a novelty. you know, I if I don't think I would book myself to go, but if somebody said to me a friend or whatever goes, or a colleague or whatever he said, you know, oh, come on, let's go to this Karen's diner place. Go. Yeah, okay, I'll go and see what it's like. 'cause it's different and, but it's theatrical. It's not, it's not a shit restaurant. It's designed and, you know, it's scripted and cast to be that. Yeah. And the servers and the staff are all playing a role and you know, so it's not, it's, yeah. you know, it's not, it's not a crappy read that's got really bad TripAdvisor reviews. It's a good eatery and you just go for a theatrical experience.

 

Jonny Siberry:

It's like a murder mystery night or something like that. There's a lot of other stuff going on, but I think it'd be quite fun to do once. Would I stay in the hotel? No, probably not.

 

Ryan Haynes:

A little bit too much. You can't get away. Can you guys, those contributions were absolute gold. Thank you very much indeed. Right. Okay. Moving over to the Quick Quiz where we get to challenge our industry experts.

 

Jonny Siberry:

Oh dear.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Up now is a Quick Quiz where it's the best of five and our panellists are challenged on their industry knowledge. I have told them to bring a buzzer, a bell or a horn and something that makes an instant noise. So we are gonna hear now what it is that they brought with them. Firstly up. Johnny, what's your buzzer of choice? Got bow, my

 

Jonny Siberry:

(Plays bell)

 

Jonny Siberry:

My belt, my servant

 

Ryan Haynes:

And Thibault. What do you have?

 

Thibault Catala:

(Plays tambourine)

 

Thibault Catala:

My kids' instrument.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Well, let's see. One who wins through then on this one, Nan, shall we? Let's let, let's go, let's go. Right, the first question is an industry question. The Waldorf Astoria and Claridges are all types of famous what?

 

Jonny Siberry:

(Plays bell)

 

Ryan Haynes:

Johnny?

 

Jonny Siberry:

Hotel.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Yes. It's a hotel. Of course.

 

Thibault Catala:

My god, I was expecting so much more complicated. That was already going into the value of the asset and so on the CapEx program. And so in the hotels.

 

Ryan Haynes:

No, I told you this isn't going to be any complex quiz. I mean, it might be challenging in some respects, but no, I'm not asking you to delve deep into professionalism here. Okay.

 

Thibault Catala:

Okay, okay. Okay. Now I know.

 

Jonny Siberry:

Okay. Right.

 

Ryan Haynes:

The history question. How long has the oldest hotel been running?

 

Thibault Catala:

(Plays tambourine)

 

Ryan Haynes:

Yes, Thibault

 

Thibault Catala:

And 50 years.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Nope. Johnny,

 

Jonny Siberry:

I actually used to know this question. It was one of the things.

 

Thibault Catala:

But you don't anymore

 

Jonny Siberry:

At college, but I can't remember anymore. But it was, it was somewhere in the American Midwest when someone had a saloon and open rooms. I'm gonna say, no, wait a minute.

 

Thibault Catala:

It's in Japan. It's in Japan. Well,

 

Ryan Haynes:

I see now, you know, you've lost I'm sorry, I've run outta time. Run out of time. Too much talking.

 

Thibault Catala:

That's in Japan. I'm the closest one in Japan. Yes.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Thibault you've won, obviously, and you've used ChatGPT to ask.

 

Ryan Haynes:

You're correct. It's in Japan, it's been open since 705 or 1,318 years. Although apparently, it hasn't necessarily been out open consistently throughout that period. But it's been run by the same family, which is incredible.

 

Jonny Siberry:

What about the Ian in Bethlehem though?

 

Ryan Haynes:

I don't think that's there anymore, right?

 

Jonny Siberry:

Oh, still open.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Okay. Over geography. Geography now with an interior of about 5,500 square meters. The world's largest ice hotel is located where?

 

Jonny Siberry:

(Plays bell)

 

Ryan Haynes:

Johnny

 

Jonny Siberry:

Greenland.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Nope. Wanna have a go Thibault?

 

Thibault Catala:

Yes. North Norway.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Yes. Well done. That is one point each well actually sort of one with that one another question.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, whatever.

 

Thibault Catala:

It's going well, right?

 

Jonny Siberry:

It's going well.

 

Ryan Haynes:

It is I'm going to have to go much simpler on the questions, aren't I? You're not very good at guessing. Okay. Destination question. Paris is set to host the 2024 Olympics named the other year or years that Paris has been the host of the Summer Games. We got a Frenchman on the line. He should know.

 

Thibault Catala:

No clue. I wasn't born. I wasn't born probably.

 

Jonny Siberry:

How quickly can I do?

 

Ryan Haynes:

No guess – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

 

Thibault Catala:

1984

 

Jonny Siberry:

1924 and 1900.

 

Ryan Haynes:

No, no, that's cheating. Johnny.

 

Thibault Catala:

I'm one both of you.

 

Jonny Siberry:

I did Google that.

 

Ryan Haynes:

1924. Yes.

 

Jonny Siberry:

Oh, so that's a hundred years since they've added

 

Ryan Haynes:

And a technology question now. Are we ready?

 

Jonny Siberry:

Yep.

 

Ryan Haynes:

In what year was it possible to make hotel bookings online?

 

Jonny Siberry:

(Plays bell)

 

Thibault Catala:

Yes, Jonny.

 

Jonny Siberry:

1996.

 

Ryan Haynes:

No. Thibault. Yes. Do you wanna have a go?

 

Thibault Catala:

I would say like nine. Oh, that's way 1998.

 

Ryan Haynes:

1998. No, it's in fact 30 years this year. 1994. So Johnny was closest. So that's two points each there. So for the bonus points,

 

Jonny Siberry:

So what, what medium was that on Ryan

 

Ryan Haynes:

Online?

 

Jonny Siberry:

Through, through, come on, back up your answer. Who was it?

 

Ryan Haynes:

What was the owner's point? What was the name of the company that made it possible?

 

Jonny Siberry:

Oh God. Expedia.

 

Thibault Catala:

The mintel

 

Ryan Haynes:

 

Jonny Siberry:

Oh well,

 

Ryan Haynes:

Alright, we've got another alternative bonus question. Let's see if you get this. What brand, what hotel brand is reputedly? The world's first to have an online booking made.

 

Thibault Catala:

(Plays tambourine)

 

Ryan Haynes:

Yes, Thibault?

 

Thibault Catala:

I guess Marriot?

 

Jonny Siberry:

I guess Hilton?

 

Ryan Haynes:

Holiday Inn.

 

Jonny Siberry:

I was going to go, I should have done,

 

Thibault Catala:

I didn't know. I thought it was the Marriott because may have the first revenue management system.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Well, it's a draw there. Well done guys. Congratulations. Your knowledge is superior. Guys, thank you very much for taking part in today's efforts. This month's February's edition of the Hospitality Monthly Review Show.

 

Thibault Catala:

Thank you.

 

Ryan Haynes:

Wonderful. Thank you.

 

Jonny Siberry:

Cheers. Bye.

 

Thibault Catala:

Thanks

 

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