The Consumer Innovation Forum

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October 01, 2014
Distribution
Cindy Estis Green
KatherineLugar

Earlier this year, the Consumer Innovation Forum (CIF) was established by the American Hotel & Lodging Association to improve the consumer shopping, buying and stay experience. With the active participation of the hotel industry, CIF will also examine creating more cost-effective processes for the benefit of consumers, hotels and the communities in which hotels operate.

Having identified these twin priorities of intermediation and distribution, CIF was established as a research venue on this topic for brands, owners and management companies, and includes active participation by 20 brands, 10 ownership groups and four management companies. In addition, there are representatives from other industry organizations including, The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) and the Hospitality Asset Managers Association (HAMA), whose membership has a particular interest in this topic.

CIF will address the hospitality industry’s most important distribution issues including the rising costs of intermediation, deceptive digital marketing practices and the challenge of keeping hotel operators well informed when the marketplace is changing so rapidly.

Online Portal—Understanding the Digital Marketplace
With the proliferation of new models and new entrants in the digital marketplace, it is difficult for hoteliers to keep up. The AH&LA Consumer Innovation Forum is spearheading efforts enabling hotel brands, owners and operators to better understand the nature of the rapidly evolving distribution landscape. In publishing unbiased profiles of third-party vendors and new business models, hotel operators will have a place to understand how to evaluate new online marketing opportunities with the objective of  making more informed decisions at the hotel level.

In addition, the group is publishing articles outlining broader themes in distribution models and the implications for hotel operators such as:

  • The business traveler market and how it may be affected by cancel/rebook sites and other vendors involved with corporate travel agency accounts.
  • The move to online connectivity by wholesalers and challenging issues such as unauthorized distribution of rates and inventory.
  • The widespread rise in acquisition costs as a result of the many new entrants or emerging business models from vendors seeking commissions or transaction fees for leads or bookings.
  • The migration to online models for groups and meetings procurement.

Consumer Deception
Consumer deception has been rampant in the digital space, both in travel and elsewhere. Practices that would not be tolerated in the offline world are commonplace online. Many hotel companies have previously attempted to tackle this issue individually and AH&LA’s Consumer Innovation Forum is working on raising the level of awareness within the hotel community to better address the challenges.

Cindy Estis Green, co-founder and CEO of Kalibri Labs, LLC is the chief consultant to the AH&LA Consumer Innovation Forum initiative. Katherine Lugar is president and chief executive officer of The American Hotel & Lodging Association. 

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