Encouraged by its pilot with Book on Google, Hotelplan Group is pressing on with its vision to partake in the new economy and tap international markets through its new platform, bedfinder, which sells directly to customers on modern web platforms and provides white label products and technology to interested parties.
Bedfinder was one of the first to sell directly to US customers on Book on Google which went live last September in the US, enabling US travellers to book travel on Google Search, Google Maps and Google+ without having to leave the sites featured.
Hotelplan Group CEO Thomas Stirnimann told TTG Asia that bedfinder offers US customers best rates and availability from its 400,000 hotel contracts worldwide. In “no time at all” after going live, it generated some US$5 million in bookings, he said.
While bedfinder currently offers only hotels to the US market, its next aim is to offer full packages.
“Travel distribution is going through another change. All the travel meta searches, and now Google, are pushing into travel sales, but they don’t necessarily or at least not yet have travel fulfilment.
“What these players do better than us is they are masters at search. But what we do better is the technical fulfilment of a trip, including content, payment, liability, etc, which opens new opportunities for us,” said Stirnimann, adding that bedfinder has also attracted the likes of TripAdvisor and Kayak with whom Hotelplan is now in talks.
Having seen how bedfinder enables Hotelplan tap the US market, Stirnimann is excited about the potential of tapping other international markets. This will be addressed this year.
“Our vision is to be ready to distribute our travel products worldwide – be it to Brazilians or Thais – without have to be locally present in the countries,” said Stirnimann.
Meanwhile, in the traditional business, Stirnimann said Hotelplan is now market leader in Switzerland, ousting long-standing competitor Kuoni which is now under Rewe.