As we near the end of the year, we took some time to reflect on what has happened in the world of Avvio in 2018 and what we hope to achieve in the year ahead.
Looking back, it has been an exciting year: I would say, our biggest year of change and development, enabling us to build a strong platform for 2019.
Avvio’s Design team embraced a big challenge at the start of the year as we migrated our old CMS to the dynamic platform, WordPress. This move enabled us to combine our own innovative design and technologies with the agility, frameworks and performance offered by WordPress through our partners WP Engine, ensuring we continued delivering world-class digital experiences for our customers. January also set the tone for our continued growth with the appointment of our VP of Customer Success – Ian Sloan. Ian quickly added great value to Avvio, with his expertise in the hotel industry coupled with an in-depth knowledge of AI applications and developments.
In January we attended the annual Master Innholders General Managers’ Conference in London, followed by exhibitions at the Revenue Management Opportunity and Travel Technology Europe events in February where our Co-founder and CEO Frank Reeves discussed the effects of AI on the Hospitality Industry and the guest experience. The start of the year was a cause for celebration as a dozen members of our E-Commerce team became Certified Revenue Management Executive (CRME) qualified adding a tremendous skill-set to the business and making us unique from any other booking technology provider.
Our Awards cabinet received multiple additions in the Spring when we won the ‘Best Use of Technology’ award at the 2018 Serviced Apartment Awards in London in March and a top European Award: the ‘Best Technology Innovator of the Year’ award for Allora at the HSMAI Region Europe Awards in April. We also kept our teams busy with events all over Europe including the International Hotel Technology Forum in Mallorca, HITEC in Amsterdam and the Boutique & Lifestyle Hotel Summit in London.
Now, we couldn’t reflect properly on the year without mentioning the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The new legislation, which came into effect on 25 May, kept Avvio and our hotel customers very busy! We know that as an accommodation provider working in a busy digital world, data is at the heart of your operations. In order to build trust; and to respect your guest’s data from exposure to risk, we saw re-permission emails being sent out to guests, updated privacy and cookie policies and confirmation pop-ups. Following our May software release, amongst other changes, we began anonymising certain types of personal data at periodic intervals to comply with GDPR data processing requirements.
May also saw the release of our first of three whitepapers: ‘A guide to Artificial Intelligence for Hotels’ was created, clarifying the most important terms and concepts related to artificial intelligence and shedding some light on what AI really means for hotels, without technicalities and by providing easy-to-understand industry examples.
The summer brought some exciting additions to our team, including the appointment of Michael De Jongh, Avvio’s new Chief Commercial Officer. With an extensive background in transformational sales gained in a range of technology-led environments, Michael leads Avvio’s focus on growth as well as our ever-evolving position in the hospitality market developing innovative technology solutions
Our US team continues to thrive with the unveiling of a new Miami office and a number of hotels, resorts and accommodation providers moving to Avvio for their booking engine, web design and digital marketing services. We also opened a new Dublin office in the summer, growing by two new team members and supporting our continued growth in our home market.
September was another brilliant month for Avvio with our customers the Ice House Hotel winning the ‘Best Hotel Website’ category at the Gold Medal Awards. Avvio’s Digital Team became Bing ads Select Partners and were also named finalists in the Google Premier Partner Awards – a phenomenal achievement considering only two per cent of agencies within the EMEA region reach the finals! We were also delighted to have Allora named as a top booking engine solution by Boutique Hotelier magazine, and recognition by Hotel Owner as a Tech Star.
In October we launched not one, but two new whitepapers. Our President of Avvio North America Rich Tuckwell-Skuda released his whitepaper: ‘The Connected Hotelier’ which gives modern-day hoteliers a better insight into the behaviours and actions they should be implementing to succeed. Our second whitepaper ‘The 6 Principles of Personalisation’ discussed how personalisation using AI needs to be built into hoteliers’ and accommodation providers’ websites to ensure that site visitors and prospective customers are attended to at all stages of their user journey.
We brought on some fantastic customers this year including the renowned Hastings Hotel Group, Cheval Serviced Apartments, Coco Palm Resort and Fort Garry. While our teams worked hard to support impressive partnerships in Europe and North America, we continued building Avvio’s presence at a number of events to close off the year. World Travel Market was a notable event for Avvio this year; not only did we connect with hundreds of industry professionals, we also hosted our own masterclass aboard the Sunborn Yacht – with our friends at Guestline and Triptease. ‘The Connected Guest’ connected hoteliers and accommodation providers and presented the benefits of creating a personalised booking journey.
As the year began drawing to a close in November, we celebrated 3 shortlisted award nominations from the Travolution Awards, and further expanded our Marriott team – bringing on three Digital Client Service Managers, enabling Avvio to support a growing number of new accounts with the hotel group.
Avvio remains the most innovative provider on the market, with our commitment to improving our services to customers through regular software updates. We’ve worked hard this year to continuously improve our booking platform, ensuring our customers are continuously maximising their direct booking revenue.
We recently made significant changes to the front-end design and functionality of the booking engine. Mobile devices continue to be the highest-growth device for e-commerce transactions. Therefore, mobile optimisation was an important consideration when making the user experience changes to the booking engine. Our latest updates are responsive to mobile and create a seamless browsing experience for all visitors.
Recent research has shown that 151% of customers are more likely to make a purchase online if the payment page had a lock symbol on it. With this in mind, we included a visual indication on all pages, providing your guests with the reassurance that their details are secure when booking direct. We also provided additional functionality to our customers with our new Length of Stay (LOS) Discounting feature which enables hotels to offer guests discounts on their overall price based on the length of their stay. We are also proud of Allora’s recent performance score – over the past few months, we’ve had a 100% reliability score. Prior to this, it was 99.9%!
To finish off the year, we’re excited to announce that some Avvio customers are live on Book On Google!
We’re growing; We’re innovating; We’re hiring!
Avvio’s teams continue to grow, as we improve the effectiveness of our customer-facing departments. We have no doubt that 2019 will be a busy year for the team! We will continue to grow our global business, and develop our technology for a very exciting year ahead. We’re expanding our teams in the UK, Ireland and the US. If you’d like to be part of our future story, please take a look at our Careers page for current opportunities.
1 – Worldpay – June 2018 Report