Portuguese hotels will have their own “Booking”

  • ECO News
  • 19 November 2016

The Portuguese Hotels Association (AHP) will create an online platform to bring together hotel offers; the commissions will be lower than the ones charged by international platforms.

The Portuguese Hotels Association (AHP) will create a platform similar to booking.com, but targeting Portuguese hotels only and having lower commissions than the ones charged by international platforms. The investment is already certain, and the online platform should be ready by the end of the upcoming year. The information was disclosed by Raul Martins, AHP’s chairman, and Cristina Siza Vieria, executive director, to ECO.

“It is the way the hotel industry found to self-regulate and to hold the reins of its future – this does not mean disregarding websites such as Booking, without which many Portuguese hotels would be off the grid. But having monopolists is not good for any industry”, stated Cristina Siza Vieira during a meeting with journalists on the 28th AHP Congress, in Azores.

The idea is to have an online platform which brings together hotel offers in Portugal. “But it is not a reservations agency”, meaning, the platform (still nameless) will redirect tourists to hotels’ websites, which is where they will be able to book their stay.

In other words, “hotels will make their own sales” and are obliged to have their own websites, something that a significant amount of hotels are lacking. This will compel the hotel staff to have training in marketing, communication, and price and positioning management, adds Cristina Siza Vieira.

70% of the financing is already certain and it will be assured by the Sistema de Apoio a Ações Coletivas (Support System for Collective Action), a system emergent from the programme COMPETE 2020 – the strutural funds operational programme for companies. The AHP is not revealing, however, what the amount of that investment is.

Ultimately, the goal is that the hotel industry can have a promotion platform with few costs, since “this is not an investment aiming to make a profit”, Raul Martins explained to ECO. And it does not aim to “compete with Booking”, states Cristina Siza Vieira, adding that “doing so would be a losing battle”; she emphasizes “it will be positive for hotels to own their bookings”.

“Our country needs events like the Web Summit”

During the week of the Web Summit, 90% of Lisbon’s hotel beds were taken, a percentage that compares to an occupancy rate of 65% in a regular month like November.

Due to this rate, Raul Martins is clear on his belief: “The country needs events like the Web Summit to reduce the effects of the low season. Other opportunities should be created, in other cities, to help increase the occupancy rates throughout the year”.

Leaving out the “low season” aspect, tourism has been thriving over the last few months. This week, the Portuguese National Statistical Institute (INE) indicated a GDP growth of 1.6% homologous and 0.8% quarter-to-quarter in the third trimester of 2016, and these numbers arise, largely, from tourism. The contribution of this sector does not surprise Raul Martins: “This is no surprise to us; Portugal is worth more than what we price it for”.

During the Congress in Azores, Cristina Siza Viera read the message written by the Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, in which he stated that 2016 is an historic year for the Portuguese tourism: “The numbers are fairly positive, but it is important to assure it is not an epiphenomenon by strenghtening foundations  that lead to a strong paced and sustainable growth in all national territory and in all seasons of the year”.