From booking to bidding: Barteo brings a new twist to travel distribution
Barteo.com is a new site that allows users to negotiate on the price of the room directly with the hotel and in real time, before making an actual booking. EyeforTravel.com’s Pamela Whitby finds out more
The two founders of a new website Barteo.com know only too well how sensitive the relationship is between the hotels and other travel intermediaries. After all both men, chief executive Thomas Hiley and head of business development Tony Grippon, were formerly employed by fastbooking.com. Barteo.com which launched last week is, Hiley says, one of a kind, sitting somewhere between the mass market, the big-name travel distributors such as Expedia and booking.com and flash sales websites.
On one thing Hiley is absolutely clear: “We don’t want to compete on the direct channel as we know how sensitive this is. We also don’t want to take market share from booking.com or others. We are focused on generating new reservations for hotels, as this is the future of distribution.” What hotels need are new actors to help them diversify and yield more business. So if a hotel is achieving 80% occupancy, Barteo.com will want to take that to 85%. The negotiation process could not be more simple, says Hiley. There are quick steps for the user and standardised answers from the hotel; the website was designed to simplify, facilitate and make intuitive the negotiation.
In addition, the duo has been careful to ensure that on Barteo.com there is rate parity with all other online channels. The site displays the best available online price but the difference is that the consumer can then negotiate directly, confidentially and in real time with the hotel through the Barteo.com interface. The final price could be as much as 20% less than on booking.com, says Hiley, but the hotel could also refuse the offer from the customer who has become an actor in his own reservation.
Feedback from hotels to date has been positive as it is flexible and they can control the configuration of their rates in real-time, says Hiley. Like booking.com, barteo.com takes a commission on each confirmed booking but does not take any additional fee for the service offered.
Says Steven Bak, Director of Operations at Newhotel Group:“Among every existing distribution channel and tool, Barteo is a really new one gathering the best practises seen on the market and bringing a real innovation. Thanks to their concept, we will work on some additional volume in the smartest way with no commitment from our side and a total flexibility on the way we manage our inventory."
Marketing it right
Barteo.com’s marketing operation will begin in earnest next month. “We are working with a company specialised in email targeting,” says Hiley, “and will be targeting some qualitative customers, mainly through the email channel.” The company will also do some targeting via its Facebook page and for some very specific destinations it will use search engine marketing.
The two men have been working on the concept for a year. So far over 250 hotels, mainly independents but some chains too like Radisson Blu, have signed up mainly in France, Italy, Spain and the Czech Republic. The firm’s UK launch is coming soon. It seems this may just be a new player to watch.