Carine Overtoom and Nayton Craig from Htel talked to us about online booking tools, the importance of SABA and what unique things they’re doing for their customers.
In December you offered guests the option to rent a goldfish. How did people respond to the scheme?
Nayton: The response was great. The apartments that we rent out are fully equipped. Yet people still need to make it their own, and so offering this service actually made it feel more like home.
Carine: One fish has been in an apartment for seven months and the family named him Leo – after our Resident Service Manager. Once the family left, Leo received an email (the goldfish not the Resident Service Manager), saying how much the children miss him.
Do you have any plans for expansion or new developments?
Nayton: We have a new opening under the working title of “The Boathouse”. It’ll be a breakfast-to-go service at Htel Amstelveen; serving coffee, tea, juices and sandwiches. This will open shortly before the summer.
You have an online booking tool, how do you think it benefits travellers?
Carine: They can make a reservation anytime, anywhere and even though it’s complimentary to what we’re already doing by phone and email, we realise that some businesses operate 24/7. There’s a need to be online and accessible each hour of the day. We provide businesses with their own unique login code so they can access their corporate rates. When there’s an emergency or a last minute requirement they can log-on and make a booking up to 10 minutes before arrival. In terms of flexibility, it benefits our corporate clients significantly.
What percentage do you think are booking online?
Nayton: Definitely not as much as by phone or email, somewhere between five and seven percent. It’s still the case that people would much rather discuss things in detail, especially with longer stays.
The next SABA event is in Amsterdam – how do you think events like these help operators within the industry?
Carine: My first encounter with SABA and Richard Majewski was last November, when SilverDoor hosted. I think it’s a good platform to meet people within the industry, to gauge what’s going on and to see what problems people are facing. It helps to see each other as partners, rather than competitors. I think that’s the goal of SABA, to work together and be one voice to lobby against the dominance of hotels.