Fornova specializes in providing business, distribution and competitor intelligence primarily to hotel owners and operators, but also to online travel agencies and car rental companies.
We process data in order to provide accurate and reliable answers to questions being asked by our users around complex issues.
Our entry into the travel and hospitality industry was no humble beginning; we went big from day one and aimed straight at the top. Our first enterprise clients were the biggest online travel agencies in the world – Booking.com and Expedia. When we subsequently moved into hotels, it was Hilton and Marriott that we first partnered with.
A key question that clients across all verticals have been asking us is: “How competitive am I?” To answer this, we need to follow a very specific data-driven process, which has multiple steps.
For a hotel chain client, for example, we always start by gathering all the publicly available rates of every competitor; this consists of the price of every kind of room type for each property for the next 365 days. Why are we looking into the future? Because hotels sell perishable inventory – a guest can’t book today to stay in last night’s room.
All that data even for a single small hotel can be overwhelming, so another key thing we do is we sift through millions of public web data points to find the gold nuggets of intelligence that we can then clearly, concisely and in real-time translate into actionable insights to the hotel’s commercial team; so the hotel can immediately see where it has problems, where it is not implementing the correct pricing strategy, or where its processes can be improved.
Other questions we are asked to answer include: “How are my rates presented in the ecosystem?”, because online travel agents sometimes undercut hotel rates. “Who is selling my inventory?”, which requires collecting data from the aggregators. “Where do I have inventory issues? Where do I have technical issues in the ecosystem?”
Our ability to give our customers a clear competitive edge relies on our capacity to have answers to these questions at hand – and for that, we need lots of web data. Every time we get asked by a hotel chain: “How competitive are my properties?,” we need to gather all the public web data on the competitors’ rates as displayed on all the various channels and across multiple regions and countries.
Another inquiry put to our systems all the time is: “How are my rates shown on all of my distribution channels?”, which we refer to as distribution intelligence. In hospitality, distribution is pushing to get your inventory out there as widely as possible, on every possible channel.
On the internet, the main distribution channels are the global OTAs (Online Travel Agencies), such as Booking.com, Expedia, Agoda and Hotels.com. Other major channels are offline, for example via the hotel’s sales team or by guests phoning up and booking direct.
It’s also imperative we understand which are the main feeder markets that each hotel is sourcing guests from. On average, each hotel we partner with asks us for data on three to four foreign countries – so we have to conduct identical searches, using the exact same check-in and check-out dates, on the same website but accessed from three or four different countries at the same time, and then repeat a few times over.
A large portion of the data we provide our clients is collected from public web data sources in real-time, and the Bright Data platform and its network help us make these very valuable insights available to our clients, also in real-time.
Every industry in the world right now is undergoing a digital transformation, which has been accelerated by the COVID pandemic. There is more data of all kinds being created and recorded than ever before, and there is also unprecedented demand for it. But the reality is that competition is more fierce than ever too, and the only way any organization can gain market share at the expense of its competition is by making better data-driven decisions faster.
The above is very true in the hotel business COVID-affected “new normal.” The pandemic resulted in huge drops in demand from corporate travelers, groups, meetings and events. It’s only the leisure segment, and in particular domestic travelers or local residents taking a vacation or staycation, that has provided a much needed lifeline for hotels; in fact, this is a vertical which is ‘back and projected to cross into the numbers we used to see in 2019’ in 2022.
So our clients need to be more competitive to the client ledger, and that requires more data. It requires them to closely monitor their competition, maintain dynamic rates and update them multiple times a day, scan booking windows – i.e. the dates that change most often – typically three times a day, etc. We are looking 365 days forward, so that the hotels who work with us are enabled to plan ahead with their strategies and win over the market from those stuck in the past.
We emphasize this to our clients in no uncertain terms: It is paramount to notice and react immediately to challenges or discrepancies in need of attention. But we can only make such a statement because we can back up the strategy with data – and mostly with public web data.
It was our growth over the last couple of years that necessitated our partnership with Bright Data. The amount of public websites that we get asked to gather insights from has grown by such magnitude that we were forced to source not just additional data-gathering infrastructure but also vast quantities of web data too.
Specifically in 2020, we reached a point where it was impossible to increase our team of developers, as our revenues had taken a hit from COVID, while at the same time our clients were pleading with us saying “I need this data!”
But to cover the whole market comprehensively we had to access multiple public websites from 72 countries – so the Data Collector saved the day for us. The product takes care of the data collection for you as frequently as you need it.
We have by now grown to rely on Bright Data’s platform and network, and that is ok with me. A client of mine recently said “If I don’t have my competitors’ rates for a day, then I will get angry emails. If I don’t have my competitors’ rates for more than a day, then I will probably get fired.”
He may have been exaggerating, but as far as I’m concerned, if we do not deliver our data insights to clients, then we are negatively impacting their productivity, their earnings or bonuses, and even their job security and livelihood. Without Fornova’s vital competitive intelligence based on Bright Data, for example, our hotels are effectively flying blind – consequently, they are not making the right pricing decisions, they are not reacting to the market appropriately and they are losing revenue.