April 2017 Archives

Apr 24

abbreviations are not a content strategy

Looking for a hotel room with “polacc?” Or maybe you want to make sure it includes “lxbthtl” and “satchan?”.

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Those are the abbreviations your system might need to know if you are looking for pool access, luxury bath towels and satellite channels. And they are just a few of the hundreds of often baffling terms hotels currently use to describe their properties through online booking systems.

But in an age where consumers can, with just a tap of their finger, watch live feeds from friends and family across the globe or use virtual reality to transport themselves anywhere in the world, content is king. And abbreviations no longer make an adequate content strategy.

Travelers today don’t just crave rich content, they demand it. In addition to photos and video, they want easy-to-comprehend descriptions and direct answers to simple things, like whether a hotel has free Wi-Fi, a pool or free parking; what local transportation options are available; and when hotel restaurants and other facilities are open.

But, like most aspects of hotel distribution today, meeting these demands is complicated. For many companies, the same constraints on legacy hotel systems that led to this generic “system speak” being created in the first place remain. The industry has also grown accepting of incomplete room information.

At DHISCO, we have been working hard to transform content for our hotel partners around the globe so their travel-selling partners are able to access complete and easy-to-interpret descriptions that will encourage more bookings across multiple online channels.

It’s no small task. Every hotel company has its own room codes. And there are a lot of them.   

To get started, we mined the room information shopping data of 20 large hotel brands, finding a total of 590 common abbreviations. Each hotel brand had an average of 250 unique abbreviations, with one large hotel brand having 1,050 distinct abbreviations.

Then we looked at the most searched items, converting the data into distinct room names and descriptions without abbreviations.

The result? We created DHISCO’s Content Transformation service, which mines and extracts data from travel searches, then creates a new data store that enables hotels to update their content automatically.

In other words, we do the heavy lifting by capturing and delivering actual room information from real-time shopping data, then transforming those acronyms, abbreviations, uppercase fonts and phonetics into information everyone can read.

We’re excited to be the first hospitality distribution company to offer this Content Transformation service to our partners around the globe. It’s just one of several exciting new projects we’ve established to turn the vast amounts of data flowing through our switches into the intelligence our partners can use to grow and compete in this fast-changing world of travel technology.

– Anne Cole, vice president, content

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Apr 03

solving the hospitality industry’s ‘content conundrum’

In the world of hospitality distribution, we often refer to the “content conundrum:” the challenge of taking images, property and room information and everything else consumers want to know about a hotel’s services, rules and amenities and displaying them quickly – and accurately – during the booking process.

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But for all of the hotel and travel information now available at the click of a mouse or a tap of the finger, most people would be shocked at just how difficult a proposition that is.

Across the world, many travel companies are still sharing information with online travel agencies, or OTAs, via spreadsheets or by legacy content updates that contain truncated, capitalized and highly abbreviated information. The idea of adding richer content about everything − from pet polices to restaurant hours and thread counts on sheets − becomes even more complicated by the fact that such information may be held across a variety of legacy hotel computer systems.

It becomes more difficult when you add in the underlying tension between hotels and OTAs over commissions, branding issues and guest loyalty as well as the challenge of creating new technologies that enable everyone’s computers to talk to each other.

That’s why HEDNA − short for Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association − last year created a new content working group. Our goal: solve the content conundrum. As vice president of the HEDNA board and member of the content working group, I am pleased to report that progress is being made. This requires companies to set aside competitive concerns and tensions to develop common standards that benefit the industry as a whole.

This isn’t a fast process, but − to move it forward more quickly − we have created two subgroups to look at this: one from the perspectives of the guest and the hotel company providing the experience and the other from the perspective of the technology solutions provider.

After our annual meeting earlier this year, I am encouraged. The industry truly recognizes that we no longer can delay efforts to solve this puzzle.

And we can’t simply solve these issues in English. In addition to richer content, there is a demand by all players to address translation issues. Companies must be able to take their inventories global, across multiple languages and in mobile as well as traditional formats.

Consumers are demanding more and more real-time information in the booking process. Therefore, the only way for companies to compete is to be able to deliver this information accurately, across a variety of platforms and in a variety of languages.

Here at DHISCO, we are committed to helping the industry find solutions, both through HEDNA and directly with our many global partners. After all, solving the content conundrum lies at the very heart of our mission, to connect the world.

– Anne Cole, vice president, content

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