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ALE Succeeds in Hospitality with Vertical Marketing
Vertical marketing means tailoring sales, product development and marketing efforts to a specific industry. The conventional wisdom is that creating offers to meet the needs of a segment of businesses not only can better serve the customer but reduce total marketing expenditures and improve the providing company's results -- i.e. boost sales.
In the past 18 months or so, several firms in the enterprise communications space have talked about an increased focus on vertical marketing. Many times these discussions center on hiring account executives who have knowledge of a particular industry or working with partners that have vertical expertise. While these marketing steps are beneficial, companies too seldom take the next logical step of creating new or modifying existing solutions so that they better meet the specific needs of a vertical segment.
In a recent briefing, ALE described in detail its approach to providing solutions for what it terms the Travel, Hospitality and Leisure market. (ALE is the company acquired by private equity firm China Huaxin in 2014 and currently operates under the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise brand.) The breadth of the program is impressive. It not only includes all the elements described above but addresses the sometimes varying needs of different sub-segments within the hospitality vertical.
One of the most defining aspects of the hospitality industry is that it focuses on customer satisfaction. While this is true of nearly every business, this industry relies entirely on customers being happy. Even with that mission, not all hospitality businesses are in a position to implement sophisticated (and concomitantly expensive) solutions. ALE's portfolio of hospitality solutions reflects this reality.
During our discussion, Thierry Bonnin, ALE's worldwide sales SVP for vertical markets and head of the hospitality vertical, and Cristina Grigoras of hospitality marketing, began by discussing solutions geared toward very high-end, customer-focused hotel chains. One such ALE hospitality customer is Dorchester Collection, owners of famed The Dorchester Hotel in London as well as the Hotel Bel Air and Beverley Hills Hotel in California, among others. Several of the chain's properties have deployed ALE hospitality solutions including in-room devices to control features such as climate, lighting, media and phone and emergency call tracking. Dorchester Collections CIO Mark Campbell says his technology solution had to match "luxurious products customers had in their homes. One device for all services, with a continuous look and feel."
Another application designed for both high- and mid-range hotels is a mobile guest softphone. Available from the popular mobile app stores, it allows guests to use their mobile device as a room phone extension. The mobile softphone allows free calls on the hotel wireless network and local calls at local rates can be added to a guest's room bill. ALE has also developed a Mobile eConcierge application that can allow guests to call and chat with hotel concierge, book hotel services and access local city guides. Both of these applications offer an SDK that allows integration with the hotel's existing applications.
For budget hotels, one solution ALE has created is a variable pricing model. Voice services and local LAN infrastructure can be contracted on a per occupied room basis (with a minimum billing based on 50% occupancy). Not surprisingly, this offer is based on a cloud deployment, with local survivability. ALE partner UXC Connect in Australia has deployed this model for an Accor Asia Pacific hotel in Adelaide.
ALE is certainly not alone in targeting the hospitality vertical. In June, Beth Schultz wrote on No Jitter about Mitel's purchase of TigerTMS , a popular channel partner among UC vendors targeting the hospitality vertical. But ALE's approach including dedicated sales and marketing resources seems to be paying off with significant wins, including Dorchester Collection, Riu Hotels and Resorts in Mallorica and Accor.