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(4/5/2013) Balidiscovery.com recently caught up with Chandra Himawan, the Project Manager for Hotel Link Solutions – Bali that provides digital marketing solutions for small and medium sized hotels in Bali to obtain his view on the increasingly competitive hotel environment in Bali.
Chandra and a team of digital marketing experts are helping an increasing number of small to medium-sized hotels, guest houses, condotels and villas in Bali obtain fully-functional and a state-of-the-art booking engine, accommodation providers obtain a level of control over their pricing and inventory previously only available to larger branded hotels. Linking accommodation providers with an extensive network of channel managers – Bali business people are now able to distribute their room inventories internationally through leading on-line travel agencies while at the same time maintaining absolute control on their pricing.
Chandra is a hospitality graduate of a leading Spanish University and a former TV sports broadcaster.
The Interview: Chandra Himawan – Hotel Link Solutions Bali
Balidiscovery.com: There’s much talk in the media about Bali’s tourist accommodation sector being overbuilt and increasingly aggressive price competition. As a man who spends every working day with hotel and villa owners, what’s your take on the competitive landscape in Bali?
Chandra Himawan: There’s a war raging our there. The competition for guests among hotels, home stays, condotels and villas is really intense. No one really knows the total number of rooms available for sale in Bali, but we calculate an oversupply against demand of as much as 40%. Hotels are offering bonus nights while hotels along the bypass have flashing lights and sign boards offering prices that are very low.
Balidiscovery.com: Hotel Link Solutions – Bali positions itself as offering marketing solutions to small and medium sized hotel operators. How so?
Chandra Himawan: There’s an old saying: ‘When two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers.’ In the very competitive accommodation landscape now operating Bali, the small and medium sized hotels, many of them owned by local business people, are at risk of suffering due to relatively limited international, limited market distribution and antiquated on-line booking and pricing options that can't compete with lager, internationally branded hotels.
Balidiscovery.com: Just how different is the current landscape in the accommodation market?
Chandra Himawan: The current landscape for accommodation marketing means that the old fashioned static website used by many hotels and villas are failing to get the bookings. In looking at that landscape, here are a few things to keep in mind. Contract rates are a thing of the past. Allocations are never in the accommodation provider's self interest and, for that reason, few owners extend them anymore. Pricing and room inventories operate in real time in a totally fluid environment. Hotels are selling their room inventories in much the same way as low-cost airlines sell their seats. Prices and availability are subject to constant change - the price you see this morning may be different a few hours later.
Balidiscovery.com: It all sounds pretty hopeless for small and medium sized accommodation providers. Is it?
Chandra Himawan: Fortunately, the situation doesn’t need to be hopeless. While most small hotel and villa operators have neither the funds nor the expertise to employ and deploy sophisticated Internet technology and ecommerce departments, Hotel Link Solutions – Bali allows operators to outsource that function to our top-notch international team of digital marketing experts with no upfront costs.
Balidiscovery.com: How’s does it all work?
Chandra Himawan: Frankly, I’m amazed by the miracles performed by our team. Recently a frustrated operator came to us with no website presence at all. Within a matter of a few days he had a fully functioning website, competitive in both style and content with websites operated by five-star hotels in Bali. Most importantly, the website also contained a state-of-the-art booking engine - a price widget that allowed the operator to who all his available inventory in various room categories with prices that can be changed and promoted instantaneously 24 hours a day. Finally, we connected the hotel’s booking engine to a number of channel managers that almost immediately placed his hotel on the websites of the leading On-Line-Travel-Agent (OTA).
The end result was that the hotel in question went from no on-line bookings at all to a system that produces new bookings on a daily basis.
Balidiscovery.com: Sounds too good to be true. Should people be suspicious?
Chandra Himawan: It's all right to be suspicious, but the bottom line is that Hotel Link Solutions-Bali earns its income from the few percentage points we charge from the actual bookings produce over our website and booking engines. We do the upfront investment and only make money when we deliver on our promise and produce real business for our clients.
Trust me. It works.
The most satisfying part of our work is the power we put in the hands of small and medium-sized accommodation providers who enjoy the benefits of effective international distribution and the ability to control their rates to the best interest of their individual operations. It’s exciting to watch the bookings flow in!