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Travel industry tips for hotel groups facing digital disruption

How booking websites are challenging the sector’s long-established players

By Julian Birkinshaw 24 May 2018

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Travellers have never had it so easy. In today’s digital world, we can search for holidays, compare prices and book a break in a matter of minutes using websites and apps. But this shift in business model, from travel agents selling hotel rooms to sites offering far greater choice and flexibility, has affected the industry’s established players.

So how are operators such as InterContinental Group Hotels (IHG) responding to innovative businesses like Booking.com and Expedia? Gavin Flynn, Head of Strategy and Transformation at IHG, shares his insights on the challenges and opportunities facing hotel groups.

Flynn speaks to Julian Birkinshaw, Academic Director of the Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, for this episode of the Digital Disruption Briefings. They are joined by Keyvan Vakili, Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at London Business School, who explains how the industry has evolved and what established businesses can do to adapt.

Offering consumers who book directly through their website rewards and incentives is one tactic that hotel groups use to compete with online rivals, according to Flynn. He also talks about utilising brand and loyalty programmes to encourage people to visit a hotel website rather than a holiday booking platform.

The good news for hotel groups is that holiday websites have opened up the market to more people. Before the internet, anyone looking to book a gite in France had to call the owners for pricing and availability. Now, it takes just a few clicks on a site like Airbnb to access that information for hundreds of properties.

Established players can thrive in the digital world, according to Flynn – providing they innovate and stay relevant in an ever-changing industry.

Professor Birkinshaw interviews Ira Dubinsky, Head of International Marketing at Marks & Spencer, about using digital channels to deliver effective marketing campaigns. Listen to How to get your marketing message across in a digital world.

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The Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship equips and inspires entrepreneurs, innovators and the leaders who design the ecosystems in which they thrive.

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