Claire Wong, PR Director of HotelClub
Increasing numbers of travellers are making their hotel reservations online these days, leading to the growth and expansion of many online travel portals. A popular favourite of many travellers is HotelClub, a leading global accommodation booking website established in 1996.
To date, it provides 73,000 accommodation choices in over 7,400 cities across 141 countries. The company operates three websites ‒ HotelClub.com, RatesToGo.com and AsiaHotels.com. HotelClub itself is part of online travel company Orbitz Worldwide Inc, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Biz Daily caught up with Claire Wong, PR Director of HotelClub in Hong Kong, who was there to give out the 2012 HotelClub Awards for Hong Kong hotels.
What accounts for HotelClub’s popularity?
HotelClub and Rates To Go are established leading accommodation booking websites. In 2004, these two Sydney-based companies were acquired by Orbitz Worldwide. Collectively, they offered three distinct websites ‒ HotelClub.com, RatesToGo.com and Asia-Hotels.com. HotelClub’s current strength is in Asia-Pacific where we have six million members.
Another reason for our popularity is our Member Rewards programme. It is the simplest loyalty reward programme and most user-friendly. Members earn one Member Reward for every US$1. Rewards are earned on every transaction, and they can be used on your very next booking with no restrictions or blackout dates. The rewards are listed in US dollars, instead of a complicated points system like some others, so it’s very clear how much you have and how much you can spend. HotelClub members get rewards for every booking, up to 7-per cent Member Rewards back each time. Last year, our members saved US$3.2 million through this programme. The bonus is that our members can redeem their rewards at any time for rooms, room upgrades or even a breakfast.
Our Best Price Guarantee adds to the perks. If you book and pay for a qualifying hotel room rate on the HotelClub website, then find the same room type, in the same hotel, for the same dates, at a lower price on a website other than www.hotelclub.com or www.ratestogo.com online, after taxes and fees, we’ll refund the difference.
How do you provide value for customers?
We help our customers to navigate seamlessly and conveniently on our website, where we offer 15 languages and 19 currencies. Customers are always looking for value and we responded by launching weekly Flash Sales in February this year. We kicked off this programme in Sydney where the deals offered a 40-60 per cent discount on one hand-picked four- or five-star international hotel. These deals are available for only 24 hours.
Each Flash Sale offer is based on its high score in the HotelClub Deal Attribute index, which measures demand for a particular location, upcoming events and positive hotel reviews. Following the success in Sydney, upcoming Flash Sales destinations are being planned for Kuala Lumpur, Bali and Shanghai.
Hotel Club’s Flash Sales are available to members in 14 Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Each Flash Sale destination will be revealed every Thursday at 6 am Singapore time. Travellers can view the deals via an e-mail (if they are HotelClub members), updates on HotelClub’s Facebook, Twitter pages and a banner on HotelClub’s homepage at www.hotelclub.com.
Finally, we have our HotelClub Awards. For 2012 in Hong Kong, 30 winning and finalist hotels were recognised for their excellence in the unique specialities that the region has to offer. For example, Rosedale on The Park was voted Favourite Hotel along the Famous Tram Route; Langham Place Hotel in Mongkok was adjudged as the Most Delicious Dim Sum Spot and Lan Kwai Fong Hotel@ Kau U Fong was acknowledged the Hottest Spot to Discover Hong Kong Heritage.
What is the profile of your members?
We have three tiers of membership: Silver, Gold and Platinum. The Silver and Gold members are more skewed towards females, generally young professionals travelling for work and / or leisure. The Platinum members are predominantly male and older, and they tend to travel six to seven times a year.
What is a breakdown of your members by source market?
Asia-Pacific constitutes 60 per cent of our rooms sold. The rest are from the US, Europe and the Middle East. In Asia-Pacific, Australia and Macau hold the top two positions respectively. Thailand jumped from fifth to third place and Singapore moved up from sixth to fifth position this year. Taiwan is fourth this year.
Looking ahead, which region or country is HotelClub most bullish about?
Asia-Pacific will continue to be the key focus as travel in this region is still very buoyant. Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia will still be important source markets as well as popular destinations. We will also look at emerging markets and cities with growth potential.