It’s All About Delivering the Experience!

It’s All About Delivering the Experience!

Customers want what they want when they want it. The idea is to bundle it all together and get them to pay for access to experiences they’d never have otherwise without your help.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Marko Greisen
Marko Greisen

Marko Greisen knows what we here at Hotel Interactive have been preaching: It’s all about experiences. As co-founder and CEO of the recently created Galavantier, Marko is bringing more than 20 years of experience in the Las Vegas hospitality industry to take advantage of the trends out there in the market.
That is, figuring out ways to get customers to pay more money for experiences. And he’s doing it by giving people what they want; to feel like a VIP and give them access to things otherwise difficult to experience. It’s a winning formula for hoteliers like you to learn from. Here’s how Marko is leveraging the trends.

Explain the premise of Galavantier and where the idea to start this new travel site came from?

The premise of Galavantier is to act as a modern day travel agent utilizing technology to offer Travel Experiences without sacrificing quality over quantity. We felt that online travel sites started looking more like travel Walmarts, basically selling anything they could get their hands on, regardless of if it was a quality product or not.  Yes you can find some of the lowest rates out there on these Walmart style travel websites as long as you don’t care if it’s a murder room e.g, next to the elevator shaft. The idea really started when we realized travelers were overwhelmed with so many options, sifting through countless unreliable reviews, and ultimately end up being frustrated when travel planning is suppose to be fun. We believe most travelers know what they want, it just doesn’t have to be so confusing like it’s grown to be in this space.

Do consumers really only care about the cheapest hotel room they can get?

I would say no unless you’re on a quick business trip. Matter of fact, I think it’s the complete opposite. We believe the leisure consumer is looking for value not cheap.  If a traveler saw for a few extra dollars they could have a larger room, a better sightseeing tour, or get great seats to a show or concert for close to the same price of the smaller room, basic tour and show tickets, it would be foolish not to in our opinion. Now I know we can’t win them all but that’s not what we are trying to do. Plenty of travel sites have been in that race for many more years, however consumers are realizing that their tripping over dollars to get to products worth pennies.

What are customers looking for these days in a vacation getaway?

I would say customers are looking for products that match their personal interest or the occasion; getaways that are memorable and hassle free while being price conscious.

What trends are you seeing with travelers booking experiences through Galavantier and any specific requests?

With us being still relatively new, it’s still hard to measure any definite trends; however we are seeing that travelers like the fact they don’t have to open a new window and search for that particular hotel or vendor they found on our site. As you know, most travel websites make it relatively difficult to get to the hotels or vendors website. We offer direct links to each of our travel partners and encourage you visit their site as well. Just because the package may no longer be available or you see something you would like to book separately, doesn’t mean it should be so difficult to book direct. Transparency is key and that’s how you build trust with consumers. When that customer is really to book a package, guess who they’re coming back to see? I can tell you, the same site that helped them book their last travel hotel or tour.  We are definitely seeing a good amount of special requests, from “can I request a certain view or table location?”, “can I have a bottle of champagne placed in the limousine prior to being picked up?” and “can Galavantier help curate something special for my husband’s 40th surprise birthday?”  We are also seeing that Galavantiers love that fact they really don’t have to pull out cash or pay bills for items within their package after the fact. One example would be, we included all taxes, gratuity and resort fees into the total package cost.

Are people more likely to buy into a trip if everything is planned in advance for them?

I would say there is a portion of people who would prefer the hassle free travel package but there are also some people know what they want and just need help getting it done.

How critical is giving customers “access” to activities and events they couldn’t do otherwise?

Well that all depends on that person’s lifestyle. For some it’s very critical and others not so much. The good thing about Galavantier is we do everything in our power to make each experience within a package unique. Say for example, a well known restaurant that doesn’t typically offer a prix-fixe menu but has personally created one for our Galavantiers that includes a personal table side visit by the actual Chef. Now some would say that’s just something not everyone has access to. We say everyone should have access to that. One happy customer means 10 more potential customers. I have yet to meet anyone that feels they have too much business, especially in this economy.

How do you make sure customers get enough value in an experience so they are not so price sensitive?

Value comes in many degrees and not just in price. We take the approach of acting on behalf of the traveler, doing everything in our power to secure the best rates possible without devaluing the travel package. Our motto is quality for less and it’s to the advantage of the travel partner to help us get there. Generally someone who wants something cheap is traveling on a budget and is unlikely to spend more on additional hotel amenities. The heads in beds concept may work great for the swinging door travel product but we are a big believer in creating evangelists who are the best and loyal customers that keep coming back.

How do you get customers to use social media to share great experiences you provide?

That’s easy. Who doesn’t want to share something that was unique or was a once and a life time experience? Several years ago prior to Facebook and Twitter, if you did something that was amazing, you shared it with your friends and co-workers through word of mouth. Today all it takes is uploading a photo or a simple tweet and status update which gets shared to all your friends, near and close.

How can hoteliers profit from creating unique packages and experience?

Well I think some hoteliers are limited to what they can do when creating a unique package or experiences. However if they get creative, I believe they can offer something to travelers beyond filling rooms and drive more revenue while developing a loyal customer to their brand. You can look at it two ways, if a consumer is looking for a cheap room rate, either they are on a tight budget or are trying to save money to spend on other things or not at all. Either way, they’re likely looking to do more for less. If a hotel created packages beyond the usually in-room F&B credits or access to the fitness center, I believe they would see more consumers staying and spending on property.

Right now the focus is on Las Vegas but how are you handling expansion into other markets and what do you look for in partners in the future?

Las Vegas is always going to play a big part of Galavantier because there is always something exciting and fun to do for all walks of life. We are already looking into other destinations for travel partners that provide superior customer service and a truly great product. When looking for a potential travel partner, we send a Galavantier team member unannounced to dine, stay, or enjoy their products and services. This way the potential travel partner isn’t giving us the royal treatment to score points. We want to see and experience it from the consumer’s eyes. If the experience doesn’t live up to our expectations, we pass on approaching them. If they meet our expectations, we want to share everything about them.

What separates Galavantier from the heap of online travel sites?

Other than what I’ve already mentioned above. What separates Galavantier.com from many of today’s travel sites is simply that we curate every travel experience offer as if was a package we’d purchase ourselves. Each travel experience package is carefully curated and each package within the package is fully vetted before it’s featured on the site. That means, if a room is less than 500-square feet, we don’t sell it. If the tour operator has a less than perfect safety record, we don’t offer it. If we get several complaints from our customers about a particular travel partner, we ask them to address the issue. If the same problem continues and isn’t resolved, we no longer feature their products and services. Since all our travel products are hand-selected, we don’t allow banner and display ads on Galavantier. We feel if you’re on the site, that’s the best advertising available on Galavantier. By representing the traveler and not the hotel or vendor, we look to secure the best rates possible for quality products without breaking the bank.  Another thing to mention is we don’t expect our customers to pay resort fees upon arrival. All our package prices included tax, gratuity and resort fees. Basically the price you see is the price you pay. Many travel sites try to show the lowest price possible. Before you know it, you’re booking it and between taxes and fees, you’re spending another $30 per night. Let’s not forget the $10-$20 resort fee per night once you arrive and check in to the hotel. No one likes surprise charges nor does Galavantier.

For more information about Galavantier please visit www.galavantier.com

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