Accommodation newcomer Bedfinder breaks US market in a matter of months
Hotelplan is the largest tour operator in Switzerland. Successfully active in several European markets, this leading tour operator was now looking for opportunities to grow. In 2016, Hotelplan launched Bedfinder, a new initiative to accelerate growth on a global scale. Focused on international markets and new distribution channels, Bedfinder is a digital and disruptive brand, dedicated to the online sourcing, production and distribution of travel products on a global scale.
Currently, Bedfinder is focused on hotels. It comprises a small but powerful team of five based in Glattbrugg, Switzerland, along with twelve call center agents, dedicated to boosting Bedfinder online accommodation bookings worldwide.
Launching a new, online brand with new product was a major growth opportunity for Hotelplan – as the Internet is a global platform that breaks down international boundaries - but also a major challenge.
To differentiate from the competition and increase margins, Bedfinder had to offer multi supplier hotel accommodation covering both core holiday destinations as well as long tail, niche products. To increase sales and ultimately grow the business, Bedfinder also needed to reach new customer groups, in new markets and expand into new sales channels, such as traffic giant Google.
The existing IT infrastructure had to be lean and based on a platform able to serve all target countries. It also needed to be scalable and most importantly, be capable of handling the mass traffic that would be generated from Google, with speed and accuracy, in order to offer an outstanding customer experience and build a loyal customer base.
As Hotelplan’s tour operations already run on the Peakwork platform, Bedfinder quickly built its own hotel portfolio to package hotel products from external sources worldwide coming from bedbanks and other hotel suppliers in the Peakwork Network. Using the Player Hub technology via a high performance cache, Bedfinder instantly accesses rates, currencies, availability, business rules and languages, which are handled centrally from the numerous suppliers feeding their offers into the solution.
“Our portfolio includes more than 1 million hotels worldwide”
Peakwork’s extensive lodging platform provides Bedfinder with access to more than 1 million properties, which can be connected via a central API for search and booking. It also allows partners to make use of Peakwork’s automapping of amenities, photos and descriptive destination texts, in a variety of languages, to deliver an impressive, feature rich and comprehensive online booking solution.
In line with Hotelplan’s ambitious growth plans, Bedfinder is dedicated to expanding into new sales channels in order to reach new customer groups. An important new channel identified was Google.
However, to take bookings via Google, there are many stringent requirements to meet: Google demands millisecond speed connectivity with the highest data accuracy, the ultimate level of security, PCI DSS compliancy along with a Google Vendor Security compliant payment solution.
“Getting to grips with Google made easy with Peakwork”
As a Google technology partner, Peakwork helped Bedfinder get Google ready. Fast. Our Google partnership enabled Bedfinder to benefit from a fully integrated, secure and compliant solution for hotel search, booking and payment, whilst capable of handling the mass traffic generated by Google.
Payments are securely managed in a variety of different currencies, including US Dollar, British Pound and Swiss Franc. Google submits credit card details to the PCI DSS compliant payment provider via the Peakwork system, where Peakwork guarantees a secure data exchange for Bedfinder who - as merchant of record - does not have to be compliant, which simplifies the entire payment process.
Explains Thomas Stirnimann, CEO Hotelplan Group: ”The connection to Google by Peakwork helped us open up new sales markets, fast. Google's expertise in searching and finding is a perfect complement to our fulfillment and administrative processing of a trip.”
The portal’s frontend (www.bedfinder.com) was designed by Peakwork’s partner web agency, Freshcells, from Düsseldorf. Using the Peakwork platform, this B2C solution offers the same content as Google and accesses the full range of search options and accommodation offers for its direct online customers.
After 8 months in development, the Bedfinder brand was launched on Google in the United States – a brand new market for the Swiss tour operator. Just three months later, in December 2016, Bedfinder became available on Google UK. Using Google facilitated bookings offers instant bookings and therefore significant conversion increase from major traffic streams. And the results prove this:
In just 5 months of operation, the business has already achieved a significant turnover and a huge number of new customers. And in January 2017 alone, the site has taken an outstanding number of bookings per week.
Using Peakwork’s flexible and powerful technology, both Google and bedfinder.com offer flexible and easy access to numerous travel offers to its customers.
Gabriel Seijo Leiro, Project Manager at Peakwork, adds: ”The flexibility and power of Peakwork technology swiftly opens new channels in completely new markets for our customers whilst growing our own global network.”
Based on the success of Google in the US and UK, Bedfinder plans to enter more Google markets around the world as well as developing partnerships with other metasearch portals, including Kayak, Trivago and Tripadvisor.
Bedfinder is also looking to extend its product portfolio with flights and packages, along with offering white label solutions to increase distribution via affiliate brand and marketing partners.
Concludes Katja Altmann, CEO Bedfinder: ”Our new brand successfully started in the US, followed by the UK and we are now looking for more markets. With the help of Peakwork technology, international boundaries in this digital world simply disappear.”