10 questions with Brian Reeves, WYSTC speaker plus Founder and CEO of GOPPAR Digital
In the latest in our series of WYSTC 2014 speaker interviews, Brian Reeves, Founder and CEO of GOPPAR Digital, answered 10 questions ahead of his The power of meta search: It can do more for your business than you might think seminar.
Q1: What got you interested in starting a business in distribution/digital marketing for this sector? Was there a Eureka moment?
When I looked at the approach to digital marketing in hospitality I realised how much could be gained by applying some of the key learnings from retail. Conversion optimisation in particular was an area that was yielding great returns for e-commerce but was non-existent in hospitality. As a result OTAs were (and still) are achieving room sales with lower advertising spend.
Q2: What was the best piece of advice you got when you started your first business?
To always hire the very best talent and never stop training.
Q3: Dublin has built a reputation in recent years for attracting, developing and promoting tech businesses. Is Ireland providing something special/different to encourage growth in this sector? Has being based there made a difference to you and your business?
With a rich pool of highly educated talent, Dublin has always been a great base for tech start ups. Over the last few years there has been a big investment in Big Data and a synergy between academia, start-ups and the investment community.
Q4: You have worked with a lot of hotels – do hostels, budget hotels and other youth accommodations have the same needs or are there different challenges, specific to them and their target market?
I think all accommodation providers benefit from understanding how to approach all aspects of digital marketing from a cost of sale perspective.
Q5: Do we need metasearch because of oversupply in the industry, ie: to be found, or are there other business reasons?
Meta search provides a great opportunity for OTA disintermediation. As meta search grows there are big gains to be made in distribution costs for those that understand how to make these channels work profitably. Unfortunately, early forays for some has been expensive and this has created scepticism as to the attractiveness of these new channels.
Q6: In your view, who is doing a good job with their digital marketing and distribution?
I see examples of hotels and hostels doing some things well. I like Citizen M hotels and their clarity on distribution strategy. Generator hostels have positioned their brand well and have some best practice conversion elements in place.
Q7: Most small hostels have limited budgets or no budget for marketing. If you had to recommend one piece of cost-effective marketing advice for an independent hostel – what would that be?
The key point with meta-search and pay per click marketing that I will be addressing in my session is that marketing ‘budgets’ need to be re-classified as distribution costs if channel shift is to be effective and overall distribution costs reduced. In so far as an operator is working with OTAs at 15% + commissions there is adequate marketing budget for channel shift activity. The key is learning the cost of sale approach to ensure spend is profitable. Once this mind shift is made, and to answer the question, conversion optimization becomes the most important thing to focus on. Most digital marketing strategies are focused with traffic growth and pay far too little attention to the science of converting that traffic into reservations.
Q8: Search tools are getting more sophisticated – is there more to come, or another online development that you think will be disruptive and/or have a big impact on the sector?
Search will undoubtedly continue to evolve but the big shift (and the big gains) are in new models of paid search and meta search which can both be disruptive.
Q9: We are looking forward to seeing you at WYSTC in Dublin. Who and what are you looking forward to seeing at WYSTC Dublin?
I am looking forward to Thursday´s session on Engaging millennial travellers.
Q10: What do you never travel without?
My most prized possession – a set of good noise reduction headphones!
Don’t miss Brian’s seminar on Wednesday, 24 September from 14:00 to 15:00 in Liffey Meeting Room 3 on the 1st floor of the CCD.