From the Inside… with Nick Van Winsen

hotelbeds-channel-managerInterview with Nick Van Winsen, Regional Director for Hotelbeds Group.

As Regional Director New York, Nick Van Winsen is responsible for the total New York hotel portfolio and his team of Market Managers, who handle most direct relationships with all hotels in the HotelBeds’ portfolio. He is directly responsible for maintaining current Guarantees & Deposits, Preferred and Strategic Partnerships as well as identifying and generating new ones to grow the destination as much as possible and bring it to the next level. He has international experience in the tourism and travel industry in Europe, Asia and the United States. During his professional career, he has been able to experience working in several countries with different cultures, individuals and mentalities.

How do bed banks work?

We use our global purchasing power to serve as an online accommodations wholesaler and provide better rates to our clients through that buying power. Bed banks provide service B2B (tour operators, travel agents, affiliate partners such as airlines), B2C (direct to the consumer – mostly in Europe) and B2B2C (other online travel agencies). Hotelbeds has more than 120 source markets worldwide, and we are the #1 bed bank globally. We provide online distribution and traditional distribution (through a call center). 

How do ITOs use bed banks?

International tour operators can connect with us and request to be a partner. They then can use our password-protected website or call center to access better rates through our buying power.

They will have access to rooms and attractions through XML (a platform that can be read by any application and platform, so it will be compatible with whatever technology the ITO is using).

What added value do bed banks offer the ITO compared to booking directly?

In addition to better rates through buying power, bed banks have the capability to provide better promotions and better deals overall. We have preferred partner agreements and have a guaranteed number of rooms, which smaller ITOs can’t offer. That leads to better guaranteed rates.

In addition, bed banks have contracts with hotels, which not only saves hotels from having multiple smaller contracts with several tour operators, it also saves the ITO from having to contract with so many hotels. ITOs don’t have to get overwhelmed with accounting and contracts at every hotel they use. 

What other services does Hotelbeds offer?

We offer excursions and transfers through our TAB (Transfers and Activities Bank). We have a new team focused on sporting events such as soccer matches and the Super Bowl. Hotelbeds also has a small division for home rentals that is operated out of our Orlando office.

This was spurred by the Airbnb popularity. 

What trends are you seeing in the industry?

In addition to the ones just mentioned, the merger of hotel chains and the increasing focus on loyalty programs has resulted in better direct rates for consumers and thus hotel chains trying to deal directly with the consumer rather than a third party, such as a bed bank, receptive tour operator, or OTA.

There is less focus on the traditional FIT (independent traveler). We must be dynamic in our offerings and therefore need BAR (best available rates) to be competitive at all times. 

How does membership in IITA benefit Hotelbeds?

IITA helps us gain more knowledge of the different aspects of this dynamic industry. It has helped us create more and better relationships, especially during the annual Summit.

Most people know Hotelbeds, but local people (hotels and excursions) in smaller markets may not know much about us.

We can help each other. Relationships are still key in the travel industry, so this interaction with others is extremely important.