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“Understanding the quirks of the hospitality business”

From a Kiwi garage start-up to more than 8,000 properties, STAAH (System for Travel Agents, Activities, and Hotels) was established in 2008 to fulfil a gap in the hospitality industry – a need for affordable and effective distribution solutions for properties, most of which were just about coming to terms with the online boom. We spoke to Gavin Jeddo, founder of the hospitality technology specialist headquartered in Auckland, to learn more:

TD: Tell us a bit about your background and the birth of STAAH? How do you help your partners improve their yield?

GJ: Today STAAH has the status of a global hospitality technology specialist and serves more than 8,000 properties in over 80 countries from eight offices globally. Prior to STAAH, I was involved in a start-up in Hong Kong for many years before shifting to New Zealand.

Our success is measured in increased bookings and revenue for our partner properties via an enhanced reach and our strength lies in understanding the unique and diverse needs and quirks of the hospitality business. Combined with our native knowledge of the online environment, we develop products that have enabled our partner properties to remain agile in their marketing approach.

“Our products are flexible enough to suit the operational efficiency needs of all”

From a data-driven revenue manager of multi-property 1000-room hotel chains, to the two-room B&B owner-operator, our products are flexible enough to suit the operational efficiency needs of all, as met by our flagship product Channel Manager. The technology is adaptable to individual market needs via integrations with relevant partners such as OTAs, payment gateways and other hospitality-linked suppliers.

How do you help your partners improve their yield and management issues?

The hospitality industry faces a challenge of shortage of skilled personnel, especially with respect to revenue management. STAAH is helping address this, by partnering with ARMA (the Australian Revenue Management Association) to offer free basic course modules to hoteliers for achieving revenue growth, with an option to discounted pricing on advanced modules.

“No matter where you are in your career… the course will definitely leave you better off than before”

Also, playing a part in supporting and shaping the future of hospitality professionals, STAAH conducts periodic workshops across the globe, at hotel management institutes to mentor and help bridge any gap between real and theoretical.

This course is designed for practicing revenue management professionals. No matter where you are in your career, with its practical format, the course will definitely leave you better off than before. It is a great investment in yourself – any learning is.

What is the goal for the STAAH product for the future? How will your team get there?

10 years ago, when we built our technology solutions, it was basically for the web, but today the focus is more on the phone. Tomorrow will be a 100% API-driven scenario, whereby the third parties will offer solutions in different formats. And, going forward, the winners will be those who can provide the easiest guest experience, which is book-and-go.

Growth comes with associated risks and these multiply quickly in the digital space. Our technology team works with these risks and takes proactive measures to manage them:

Security: we follow the highest digital, web and data standards as set out in the associated guidelines. We are PCI-certified, a robust mechanism to manage payment processing.

Expansion: currently we have in excess of 350 partnerships with hospitality and payment gateway providers across the world. However, to remain relevant and competitive, multiplying these connections is critical. STAAH partners with all major OTAs and Global Distribution Service providers, in addition to multiple reservation management systems and other key booking linked platforms.

STAAH wins the Newslink Award

Technology barriers: Technophobia is not a myth and we come across it every day. Our technology is designed to address this phobia by making the platforms extremely user-friendly.

Establishing a need: there is a lack of awareness about distribution technologies, why they are needed and how they will benefit accommodation providers of all sizes. STAAH has used content marketing, including setting up training portals to overcome this barrier.

The future of the accommodation industry is going to see a change of scene where rooms will be sold like a product, just like selling of any mainstream product. Another important aspect is that booking will be more on mobile phones, as part of an app built into the phone systems.

Large players like Samsung, Google, and the like, are probably already looking at how accommodation is being looked at and booked. So, rather than downloading and working on individual apps of sites like et al., there will be booking solutions that come with inbuilt offerings. I think by that point of time we should be geared up and ready, to be able to create simple API, so that data is fed in fast enough to deliver the booking.

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