Sabre Hospitality Solutions is launching SynXis InstaSite, a service that builds websites for hotels, Tnooz has learned.
It is Sabre's latest bid to become a heftier force in the fast-consolidating cloud software business for hotels.
For more than 15 years, the hospitality solutions arm of Sabre, the Dallas-based travel technology company, has sold technology platforms to hotels, such as its flagship SynXis central reservation system (CRS).
SynXis InstaSite aims to appeal to independents and small regional hotel chains. The product helps hotels quickly remake their websites using industry best practices for presenting content, as one online example shows.
The InstaSite product launch reflects rapid consolidation in online marketing software for hotels, as some of the biggest technology companies race to add products that support their hotel customers’ desire to gain more direct bookings and avoid paying commissions to third-parties like Expedia Inc and Priceline Group.
Up for grabs are hundreds of thousands of independent and regional hotels with substandard sites. It's a set of customers that, up until now, Sabre has broadly overlooked, at least when it comes to web development services.
Mega replacing modest
In the past, the tech giants have pitched their web development services to the top of the market, where a handful of big operators market hotel chains. Yet beneath that layer is a thriving long tail in the shape of smaller operators.
Deals in the past year for companies targeting this long-tail market have included BookingSuite, a digital marketing company for hotels, which was acquired a year ago by Priceline Group and was formerly known as Buuteeq.
Another deal was TravelClick, a full-service hotel marketing firm, which passed into fresh private equity hands in a $930 million deal last year.
At the discount end of the spectrum, a top contender for dominating the market is Wix, a recently IPO'ed website-creator company. In 2014, it launched a WixHotels product targeting the 10,000 property owners already using its platform as well as new customers.
Leonardo's Vizlly, GoDaddy and SquareSpace are among the other popular website builders used by hotels.
All of these players are putting pressure on the hundreds of smaller consultancies and ad agencies that have catered to independent and regional hotels, such as BookAssist, WIHP, HeBS Digital, and Vizergy.
Sabre Hospitality Solutions president Alex Alt said in an interview:
"Sabre is combining 15-plus years of hotel website design and development with the best booking engine in the industry....
InstaSite has a compelling price point, too. Historically the price points in this space have been prohibitive."
Sabre's product is priced in-between the white-glove touch of a high-end agency and the cheap, do-it-yourself option without any guidance the hotel.
The site, ordinarily with about 25 to 30 webpages, starts at $399 a month for a typical 36-month contract, with shorter contracts or greater degrees of site customization costing more.
Sabre will require that InstaSite customers also use its SynXis Booking Engine (formerly called Guest Connect). That engine powers the booking widget for consumers on each property's site.
It costs extra, too. The company wouldn't say how much it is, only that it is usually charged as a fee per transaction.
About 20,000 hotels are already using the SynXis enterprise platform (mostly for distribution, sometimes for property operations). About 4,500 of these are independents and regionals. That group will be the first to be encouraged to sign up for InstaSite either to build sites for their brand or for individual properties.
Sabre's 2014 acquisition of Genares, a tech platform, brought into the fold a list of independent hotel clients that will also be pitched.
Hotel makeovers within 3 days
Design-wise, InstaSite has five templates, all of which display properly on desktop, smartphone, and tablet devices, said the company.
The company intends to create a global product. At launch, InstaSite includes versions in five languages (English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and German), though it's up to the hotelier to provide the content for each language.
Customers can make some choices within the templates, such as by changing color, arranging the photo galleries and Google Maps, or deciding whether or not to include TripAdvisor user reviews.
Said Robert Dawson, vice president of web development:
"We can get a property's new site up and running in as little as three days' time if you're already a SynXis Booking Engine customer."
Alt added that no competitor can bring a fully functioning website and booking engine to market that rapidly.
Hotels can also use the product to create a small (say, five-page) site that pushes users from TripAdvisor, or a similar source, to their own branded site. They can also use it to build pay-per-click (PPC) landing pages to capture passing search traffic.
By default, the themes are prepped for adding the hotel's existing Google Analytics or Omniture code to attribute the source of bookings and see if the site improves conversion. But there isn't full integration with the hotel's customer relationship management software.
Roll up, roll up
Sabre sees the opportunity sell website services to independents and regional chains as a stepping stone to cross-selling them other services to optimize their business, be it in distribution, operations, marketing, or guest experience, executives said.
Others are thinking along the similar, if not identical, lines. Sabre's technology rival Amadeus recently acquired hotel specialist Newmarket. Sabre's other rival, Travelport, nabbed hospitality specialist Hotelzon.
Meanwhile IT titan Oracle bought hospitality software provider Micros Systems for $5.3 billion.
Further activity in hotel software and services seems likely.
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