Simple reservation management

Mercator product strategy manager Robert Kane tells Tech Talk how the company's B2B Daex web service can make your reservations manager's life easier and streamline hotel operations.

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By  Administrator Published  April 17, 2008

Mercator product strategy manager Robert Kane tells Tech Talk how the company's B2B Daex web service can make your reservations manager's life easier and streamline hotel operations.

When was Mercator established?

Today customers ask a question and expect an answer straight away.

Mercator is the IT division of The Emirates Group and our primary job is to supply IT systems. In about 1995 the group saw that some of the systems it was building for Emirates could be sold to other airlines, so Mercator was created as the experimental sales arm of the Emirates IT Group.

So Mercator is not a separate company it's a brand name, and inside Mercator there are different sections, most of them are airline related - reservations systems, that kind of thing - but now we are creating one for the hospitality industry and Daex is the key product.

What is the function of Daex?

Daex is a business-to-business XML web service that allows hotels to receive bookings from their wholesalers, such as tour operators. At the moment if Arabian Adventures, for example, wants to book a hotel room at the Fairmont Dubai they send a fax or an email, or ring and check if they can do it.

We automate that process, so Arabian Adventures uses its own tour operator system to book a room at the Fairmont Dubai, it comes back with a confirmation and goes straight into the hotel's CRS or PMS. Daex is not a reservation system. We don't hold rates and we don't hold availability, so if you are a Daex user it won't show you what's available at the Fairmont or the Hilton.

Tour operators have a code with the hotel which they log in with and it will only give them the rates they have already agreed with the hotel. But even though it's not a reservation system in itself, it does make the reservation process easier for both the hotel and the tour operator.

How established is the hospitality section of Mercator?

The way that the sales force is set up is regional so we don't have a product specialist, we get the expertise from the IT staff, so it's set up in so far as we have Daex as a product and we have the IT staff looking at other potential products. We are in the process of creating sales materials that are hospitality focused. That will be ready some time this month.

Why was Daex created?

Today customers ask a question and expect an answer straight away, they don't want to wait one or two days for it, and with the current fax and email system the reservations manager at the hotel has hundreds of e-mails and faxes that they have to plough their way through and then send answers back and it could take up to 48 hours until the tour operator gets their confirmation back from the hotel.

This way it takes seconds, so it was really done to speed things up and make everything more efficient.

How does Daex benefit hoteliers?

From the hotel's point of view there are a number of benefits, one being that it's more efficient at processing the bookings, as well as cancellations. At the moment the people working in the reservations department have their work cut out.

Daex makes it easier. This system works 24/7 so the reservation manager doesn't come in the morning to find a stack of faxes or emails.

If a tour operator rings up and says they're out of allocations and asks for more, then whatever the hotel's decision the allocation will be updated on Daex. Also the hotel doesn't have to do anything - reservations will just go straight into the system.

The only time it will bother the reservations manager is if there's a query, if there's something wrong with the reservation. Then the reservation manager can go in and have a look at it.

How have hotels responded to Daex so far?

Since World Travel Market last year we've given Daex a big push and launched it properly - and the feedback we've had from hotels has very positive. They have been saying that they haven't seen anything like this before. And there is no direct competitor to this system.

What hotels are you currently working with?

We just signed with Hilton Worldwide to start looking at their system; they have actually got a bespoke system they design themselves, [and] we will develop against that. We're in the contracting stages with Shangri-La, Rezidor and a host of others. On top of that we're targeting all the major hotel chains.

What other solutions are hotels asking for?

They asked us to provide them with the ability to distribute their pricing to third party websites and we have created a module so that they can do that with Daex. Before, hotels used to log onto the third party site and upload room rates, then log on to the next one and do the same thing.

With Daex you can push them out to all these sites, weekly, hourly, whatever it is, so it makes distribution easier. We didn't think of that, it's something hotels wanted so we developed it for them.

How easy is it for hoteliers to use the Daex product?

What you need to train hoteliers in is how to load the contracted rates and other information and then how to make the best use of the information that's in there, and there's a whole host of information in there. The hotel's in control.

If you want to show a picture of your deluxe double room then you load it at the hotel and write the text, that's then available to anyone who comes in through Daex. If you want to change it, then it takes two minutes.

How do you plan to work with hotels in the future?

We certainly plan on working with hoteliers to develop other products. Eventually I can see a customer user group having an annual meeting. We don't have that right now, but a lot of the support we've had that has helped us get off the ground has come from hoteliers, people like The Fairmont Dubai.

We are looking at a lot more investment in the hospitality sector, because we see it as a real growth area. Daex was built on spec, to test the water, and it's been successful. Through Daex we've learnt a lot more about the hospitality industry and can now start to see the gaps in the market. It's been a real learning experience.

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