The digital twin that Iberostar uses to regain “control” of its hotels from comparators such as Booking

The travel landscape changed radically about fifteen years ago, when hotel search engines and aggregators in the network they began to be of daily use. Until then, finding accommodation was based on going to a travel agencyhave a good agenda (very regular travelers) or ask acquaintances who have already been to the chosen destination.

A new era has begun for hotel establishments thanks to technology. But that comes at a price:”Hotels are intermediated in 70% of their sales, which comes to them through travel agencies or apps like Booking.com, etc. From each of these sales, the hotelier stops entering, or pays, which is the same, 25%. In other words, 25% of 70% of the income goes to the cost of intermediation”.

He explains it for D+I Fermin Carmonaco-founder and CEO of Hotelversea startup created this year, “officially in March”, by him and Raphael Bover, COO of the company. They already started “with product and financing”, based on the experience and software developed when they both worked for the Iberostar Hotels chain.

What Hotelverse does is create a digital twin of the hotel to “improve profitability”, giving it back “control of its demand” with “disruptive technology”.

In its early communications, Hotelverse placed some emphasis on link your proposal to the metaverseas its name suggests. But Carmona admits that is still an aspect a little green. Not the key to your business.

“As a marketing strategy, a lot of noise, more visibility; little noise, less visibility. I am convinced that the metaverse is going to cool down a lot now, because there are a thousand barriers to make it a tangible reality in the next five years“, he points out.

He confesses that they contacted “many hotels on the subject of the metaverse”, but forcing himself to warn them that, if what they intend to achieve is to disintermediate their reservations, better “not get into the metaverse, because you can’t offer it to anyone. Better start with the twin and we’ll move on.”

“Investments are going to cool down, adoption [del metaverso] it is going to cool down and we still have to invest in hardware and infrastructure that require billions and billions. will stay for players… I think it will not land [ahora]It’s going to be a second attempt at Second Life from 15 years ago. It will be another 10, 15 or 20 years until it’s a real landing.”

What is an essential part of his proposal is the construction of the 3D model of the hotel, which can be used, if necessary, for an immersive visualization, as proposed by the metaverse. For now, he settles for adapt to a 2D screen viewincluding mobile. So that?

Simulate the customer experience

“What we have done is simulate the entire customer experiencethrough the digital twin, so that you can live or advance your vacation experience while you shop. To put a very simple simile, when you go to buy some shoes on Amazon you see the shoe perfectly, you turn it, you change the color, you personalize it… and you get exactly what you bought at home,” Carmona details.

“We render the entire hotel in 3D,” he continues. “You can fly over it, browse the facilitiesthe restaurants, personalize a roomchoose it not by category, that is in bulk, but because it has a double bed, that it gets the sun in the morning, that it is silent and that you can see the children from the balcony, in the pool”.

The founders of Hotelverse, Rafael Bover and Fermín Carmona.

And the grace of all this is that, “about the digital twin, we teach you which rooms match with your criterion of hyper-personalization. You can walk in, see the views from the balcony and to buy the room at that very moment. Sure, you can only do this on the hotel website“.

That is the real key: contract the room directly with the hotel. “disintermediate” contracting, offering the guest a clear vision of what he buys.

According to his calculations, with that kind of experience, the percentage of direct bookings can grow up to 60%going from 30% of the total to almost 50%.

“Approximately, in a vacation-type hotel, 50% of your profit is staying in intermediation costs. And the hotels have reached a direct sales ceiling using the currently existing technology“, he insists.

So, Carmona sums up, “the scenario in which hotels find themselves is that neither due to income nor costs do they already have the capacity, to improve your profitabilitybased on existing demand. That the hotel does not control it, because they are demands macro“.

He describes the current “user experience” for booking as “diametrically opposed” to buying those sneakers he mentioned earlier. “You lack information on prices and rates, conditions, restrictions. There are only some indicative photos of the type of room. You don’t care about booking on Booking or at the hotel, but since Booking knows you much better, has your data and everybody the hotels of the world…”.

In this scenario, he admits, the hotel’s own website is the last option for the final contract. Y not worth much “buy traffic” on Google to attract customers to your website, lower prices or offer loyalty plans, when most customers do not usually return to the same site.

What the Hotelverse technology is trying to do is present an “irreplicable proposal”, based on “digital twin technology”, on which “build services, through APIsthat integrate with existing hotel management systems to add value to the customer”.

Although recently launched on the market, the product already has been tested “at Iberostar [donde se desarrolló] from 2018 to 2021, with thousands of reservations and thousands of customers in real production environments. We have come to the market with a product tested in a large companyCarmona declares.

In fact, you confirm that the software is fully operational at your former company. Iberostar participates a hotel verse as a minority partnerwith 10%, contributing the intellectual property to “capitalize” the investment made in the first development, and leaving “the two creative executives of the idea” to take that activity to an external startup, “outside the center of your business.”

The difference with current market proposition is that the first design for Iberostar, “developed within its guts, only speaks to its systems”.

To launch it into the world, “you had to amplify it technically, starting from scratch. We were born as a platform that talks to any hotel system. The hotel you don’t have to change technologyCarmona asserts.

“One of the great barriers in the industry of hospitality It is the change of technologies. When a disruption requires changing a piece of technology, it dies along the way because you can’t convince every hotel to change. And there are tons of tech players,” he adds.

“There are about 40 or 50 reservation systems They control 80% of the world’s hotels. And then the property management systemthe systems that manage if a room is occupied or not and give you the key, are once again another 60 or 70“, completes the image.

before that multiverse of technological variations, the Hotelverse system is placed “on top of the pieces“, talking to everyone. That’s what it’s designed for in the form of an API. “That allows us to be scalable. We created the digital twin and integrated with their platforms.”

He explains that the “booking engine” is an external piece in 95% of hotels, usually disconnected from hotel management. Your system can have the data of both in real timeto find out if a particular room is occupied. “We do the setting like the front desk manager,” he says.

The digital twin of each hotel creates it “using different proxies existing, from Google Maps to photographs of customers who have stayed and are in social networkswith the collaboration of the hotel, to obtain enough reference images so that a 3d designer be able to raise building”.

And, according to Carmona, they are in a position to climb to install 100 hotels per month. The business model is software as a servicewith a fixed monthly rate for each room.

It is accessible from a computer screen, or from a mobile phone, regardless of whether the hotel puts it available to the end customer. Which is supposed to be what gives meaning to this installation.

“We have three levels of service. One, which is pure content, that is, explore the hotelwithout doing transaction; other, for choose roomeven after booking through an agency; and then the direct purchase“.

It suggests that issues of “cultural change”by having to to integrate their actions the areas of operations (reception) and sales (Bookings). But it remains up in the air how clients will get to book directly on the hotel website, when the global showcase will continue to be agencies, search engines and aggregators.

“Our approach it’s in the Pleasure trip. For the work trip, the booking experience is now identical, but you don’t buy the same thing,” says Carmona.

“When you buy a vacation you don’t buy a hotel room for a few hours, but the complete experience in a complexwith many points of sale around, the location, what is nearby… and it is a ticket that you pay, not the company. We start from that the client needs more information“, he says.

“If you are going to book for a thousand euros, I guarantee you that you are going to look at the hotel website and there is the showcase,” he stresses. According to his accounts, in an establishment with 200 rooms that every day sells between 40 and 50 reservations for five nights, with “disintermediating” two of them per week “the system pays for itself.”

Regarding the current activity of the company, Carmona specifies that they already have “contracts with 150 hotels” and they are “rolling out the top 70”. Your goal is to have at the end of the year about 500 contracts, with advanced negotiations with the Radisson and Marriott chains.

Its first objective is “holiday chains in the world”, in which there are hispanic domain for our country and Caribbean area.

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