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How Helios Hotels Overhauled its Tech Stack

The summer of 2018 was a strong season for Helios Hotels – a small, independent group of four hotels in Spain – but senior leadership could already see scope for improvement.

Kris Vanaerschot, Chief Commercial Officer at Helios, believed that the time was right to invest in an integrated tech stack. His timing couldn't have been more perfect. For him, the investment was already made – he either expanded his team or expanded his technology.

“You can’t see technology as a cost, you have to see it as an investment,” he explained.

Yes, investing does cost money. But, on the other hand, you will be avoiding lots of manual data loading and data typing which means saving money from the other side. If we had to do this manually or with less robust integrations, then the automatic features achieved by our tech stack would have to be replicated by team members. We would need to contract people to do data entry or manually compile reports which would vastly exceed our tech costs. For us, that’s a no-brainer,” he said.

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Helios Hotels owns and operates four hotels across Spain – the Helios Benidorm, Helios Costa Tropical, Helios Mallorca, and Helios Lloret de Mar, totaling 1100 rooms. Operating for more than 25 years, the company runs on a lean team, making technology vital to success.

For Vanaerschot, the aim was to boost revenue, increase efficiencies, and help the group move away from the stronghold of tour operator agreements and expand its share of direct bookings.

The Power of 3

As the summer of 2018 ended, Vanaerschot started mapping out the perfect tech stack.

We had identified the need to improve our tech stack to make things automated, and we quickly realized that it was not one player that needed to change. We deployed Duetto, our RMS, changed our PMS and our channel manager,” he explained.

The first part of the tech overhaul was the RMS, for which Helios chose Duetto.

“It was not a case of ‘will we.’ We saw a definite need for an RMS because of the explosion of online sales. The need to maximize your revenue using dynamic rates was so obvious. The closer you are following demand and acting on demand, the more money you make. I can’t manually oversee revenue for four hotels 365 days in advance. I would just come late to the market. So, for us, an RMS was an absolute necessity,” Vanaerschot said.

“Four years on, we are still so happy to have made, in our eyes, the right decision and choose Duetto. The one thing that inclined us towards Duetto was its Open Pricing methodology. We did not find compatible features elsewhere. Duetto offers all the buttons, and all the features to create your strategy. You write the symphony, and Duetto puts the best musicians at your disposal.”

Next came the PMS, and Vanaerschot chose Sihot because of its integration with Duetto. The same went for the channel manager, SiteMinder.

“The three systems integrate to optimize our business. Sihot receives the pick up and the reservations made from SiteMinder. Sihot sends the pick up and occupancy data to Duetto every hour. The Duetto algorithm then optimizes our rates and sends rate changes to SiteMinder, which then sends the reservations to Sihot. It is a circle,” Vanaerschot explained.

Four years on, and the tech trio continues to serve up spectacular results for Helios.

“We are now maximizing every opportunity and we can react to market changes quickly.

We have had a very successful summer 2022 and the tech has certainly been key to maximizing the demand and transforming that into revenue,” Vanaerschot said.

Driving Direct Business

One of the biggest changes Vanaerschot made to the commercial strategy at Helios was to move away from dependency on tour operator agreements and drive direct business. The four hotels mostly attract European FITs, with a strong contingent of loyal guests.

“We are a very accessible Spanish chain. Often, for our customers, it is not the first time they come here,” Vanaerschot confirmed.

“We have excellent flight links to many European cities, so our customers are comfortable booking their flights and then booking their hotels directly. There is no need for a tour operator,” he explained.

One way in which Helios Hotels has improved guest loyalty is by building cohesion between the four hotels and uniting them under the Helios brand. The Sihot PMS has been integral here.

“Before Sihot, we had four databases, so it was very difficult to recognize a regular customer in one of our other hotels, visiting another one. Now we work on a unified database, which is, of course, a lot smarter, detecting clients that are visiting more than one of our hotels and creating a CRM. Technology has supported us in taking the united brand card,” Vanaerschot explained.

Beating 2019 Figures

Vanaerschot’s 2018 goal of driving revenue and direct business is now coming to fruition, with all four hotels set to meet or exceed 2019 figures for 2022 trading – the first time since the pandemic.

At the start of 2022, we built our forecast on 2021 and 2019 figures, plus a component for short-term forecasting. That was the right balance for the level of uncertainty that was still present. We were confident that 2022 would be better than 2021, but the big question was would it be better than 2019?” Vanaerschot said.

“Now, as we get closer to the end of the year, we are back to 2019 figures. We have four hotels. Two are already confirmed to surpass 2019 figures in terms of revenue, and the other two are well on the way to that also.”

Discover more about how Duetto works with independent hotels in our latest Special Report: Revenue Strategy For Independent Hotels: How Technology Helps You Compete. Download your free copy today:

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Sarah McCay Tams, Director of Marketing Communications

Sarah joined Duetto in 2015 as a contributing editor covering Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). In 2017, she was promoted to Director of Content, EMEA, and in 2022 promoted to Director of Marketing Communications. An experienced B2B travel industry journalist, Sarah spent 14 years working in the Middle East, most notably as senior editor – hospitality for ITP Publishing Group in Dubai, where she headed up the editorial teams on Hotelier Middle East, Caterer Middle East and Arabian Travel News. Sarah is now based back in the UK.

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