We are delighted to welcome Fornova as an Expert Partner of Revenue Hub
In this “Who Are We” video we are joined by Dori Stein – CEO of Fornova
Dori talks us through his background, who Fornova are, what core services they offer and what does he sees as some of the challenges facing the industry going forward.
Hope you enjoy the video.
Below you will find a transcript of the interview with Dori
Please Note: Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and human editing so may contain slight modifications compared to the video/audio
Hi Dori, Welcome to Revenue Hub, great to have you with us how are things with you.
Great to be here.
We’re delighted to have Fornova as an Expert Partner. Great to have the opportunity to talk with you, hear a bit more about you, hear a bit more about Fornova and hear what you guys are all about.
Dori Stein born and bred in Israel and moved to London just about eight years ago and I’ve been a CEO of Fornova for the last five years. My previous start-up was in the diamond industry. We created an e commerce application for the diamond industry. I exited that business and then joined Fornova started off as head of business development and marketing sales. And then moved over to the CEO role.
Very good and can you tell us a bit about Fornova then because it’s got an interesting, we’ll come on to the solutions that you guys offer, but a fascinating company, and I know it’s sort of evolved, so an introduction into that will be brilliant.
So we’ve gone through a few evolutions as most start-ups have, and, and every start-up in the post COVID world have also gone through some kind of evolution, just recently, but if you look back and we started off and in retail JCPenney, Macy’s, and Sony, Nike, Gucci, and Jimmy Choo, and all these brands, the service we provided was creating a catalogue of all their products taken from their website, marketing it to all programmatic channels, Google, Facebook and others.
Fast forwarding I’m jumping out, but one of our products is the evolution of this when we moved into hospitality. It’s given the tools and know-how of how to connect your inventory to programmatic channels, and to the hospitality world which obviously needs adaptations, but and we, back in 2015 we understood that the value of our technology, which is all about getting a high quality data at scale, and is dramatically more valuable in the hospitality industry.
So, not a lot of people know this, but we started our way in the hospitality industry working with the largest OTAs who we still work with to this day. What we provide the OTAs if you will, eyes on the market, competitive intelligence and monitoring the whole market.
Now we got selected by the OTAs to do this, because when we say, highest quality of data and scale, we don’t just mean amount of data, we mean a whole lot of things. It could be the number of platforms, we’re the only company in the industry monitoring mobile apps, emulating thousands and thousands of phones and running on those emulated phones applications of OTAs and monitoring the price strategies they apply there.
We’re the company who monitors the most points of sale. Most revenue managers know this, some don’t, but all OTAs conduct point of sale strategy pricing, country specific pricing strategies i.e. both of us in London will look at the rate of a hotel in New York and our friends in France will see a different rate on Expedia, and so we monitor that.
But when I say scale of data, I don’t just mean a lot of data. I mean, a lot of types of data, so it’s vacation rental, mobile apps, points of sale and the list goes on.
And that’s where we Excel over competition, that’s our core value to clients, and we started off with OTAs. Then we moved over to working with hotel chains and the largest hotel chains in the world if you will, taught us what we know and another core difference between us and the industry is we see a lot of companies working at Hotel property by property and working their way up and for us everything we’ve learned about the industry, if it’s competitive intelligence or distribution intelligence, how distribution works has been on a corporate level.
So, when we say we work with Hilton, or we work with Marriott, or we work with Hyatt, we mean with the whole chain, not 20 odd properties.
You touch there on competitive intelligence, distribution intelligence. I mean, you’ve got four core solutions. So competitive intelligence is one, distribution intelligence, ecommerce optimizer and business intelligence.
Can you just talk to those solutions for a little bit for us and give us a just a slightly deeper insight
For lack of time let us concentrate just on our top three.
The first one is distribution intelligence. Monitoring a hotel’s presence online, on all the OTAs on all the metasearch search engines, constantly monitoring to see how it’s presented visibility, how it’s ranked, and more importantly, when then there’s any issues with rate integrity, some companies call it parity now.
Obviously, it’s very complex, and OTAs undercutting you, it could be that and you’re in a chain and one of the distribution managers placed a promotion, or it could be that you’re working with wholesalers and they’re doing something called leaking inventory.
What makes us unique here apart from, in all our products, the scale and quality of our data is also that we’ve cracked the way that to work best in a chain where the corporate team get a very analytical view and the hotel level gets a very actionable view, just two separate platforms sold to the same organisation and they see different screens and a whole different look and feel and use of the platform. And so that’s the distribution intelligence. I could talk about it for an hour, but I’ll keep it short
The next solution is competitive intelligence.
Competitive intelligence, also called rate shoppers by some of our competitors is going to the market and asking the question, how competitive am I? How do I compare to my comp set and to the market?
Apart again from scale and quality of the data, what were the unique things we’re trying to bring here, again here the core quality and scale is just getting more and more channels, how am I seeing on all the different channels in comparison to my competition?
But it’s and a whole lot of features and data types, types of data, which and if you’re looking for label for them, I would call top of the funnel analytics.
What I’m saying is that all of the industry, all of the revenue managers listening to us are really looking at themselves compared to competition in the channel, on OTAs and on brand.com compared to other brand.com. We’re trying to do that, but also compare how you’re actually seen by the clients.
Actually, seen in different points of sale, no one does different points of sale. So, I’m getting now guests from Germany, how competitive Am I in Germany?
I know I’m in APAC and I know practically all of my sales are coming from mobile and all the OTA sales are coming from mobile. So not answering the question, how competitive I am I on Agoda? I think the question, how competitive am I on Agoda mobile? And it goes on and on. How competitive am I on Google?
And when you’re answering those questions and taking them as seriously as we do, the biggest challenge for us is simplifying it for the revenue manager, so the amount of data is not overwhelming.
Last product I’m going to touch very quickly is ecommerce optimizer, which historically, for us, is we took all the know-how of connecting the largest retail brands in the world to Google to programmatic companies that do retargeting, that do prospecting, to Facebook to social it’s obviously includes Instagram but, getting data, knowing how to manage campaigns there, and converting all that technology to hospitality.
Obviously, a shirt or dress are different to a hotel room and that’s what we provide. It’s trying to get the room, or in marketing, you’re always trying to get the right product in front of the right consumer at the right time and Revenue managers try with the right price. What we’re doing there is facilitating that in the best way.
I could go again into details, but I think
I think that’s excellent, and we’ve spoken and we’re going to set up a separate discussion more broadly looking at the elements that you’re involved with, the solutions, but more looking at the practicalities and we’ll be we’ll be doing that as a separate discussion.
But thank you for summarising those kinds of solutions. And you’ve spoken a lot in terms of working with groups. Is that your core customer profile? Or is it just groups that you’re working with? Is that the sort of sweet spot for you?
We call them chains. With the word groups in the industry, you’re immediately think of groups business
Yeah, good point. Yeah.
They’re mostly waiting for a vaccine.
We’re currently predominantly working with all sizes of hotel chains and it is not to say we don’t work with some independents but we’re not actively approaching or chasing independents, our core competence client base 90 whatever % are hotel chains of all sizes from your largest chains in the world who I’ve mentioned a few all the way down to change with five or 10 properties.
Okay, perfect. And I guess sort of looking forward we’re in an interesting time at the moment so it’s maybe it’s maybe hard for anyone to look at what’s going ahead but if you if we put that looking glass on what are the things that you guys at Fornova are looking at, without obviously giving away competitor information, but where’s your What do you see as evolution? What do you see as the key challenges that you’re looking to be able to respond to as it applies to the hotel sector?
Oh, well, there’s a few things, first of all, and we believe that the dominance of Google is going to increase dramatically, and in the next few years, not 10, few years, they are going to obliterate all other meta search engines.
I can go into why I’ve written about it on LinkedIn, but their power is going to increase so they are the largest meta search and player today in travel. And but what I’m saying is they’re going to keep up with that also having the most growth and that means a lot to the solutions we provide and we believe even to the role of a revenue manager I’ve touched on that.
The second and it’s not a prediction, but it’s a fact that currently, there’s practically no groups practically no events are no events really, physical events, and practically no corporate business travel and I’m afraid to say specifically around corporate also when it comes back no one’s saying it’s going to boom back, going to be slow growth. One of the online webinars I think I heard a guy from Sabre I really liked it, call it a Nike recovery.
If you take that into account and agree with that assessment of the situation, then it leads us to believe that hotels will have to work much more closely with OTAs to generate demand because the share of demand the average hotel is getting in the next few years, that shift from OTAs have grown dramatically, simply because GDS is down simply because groups are down. So, we’re saying OTAs are where you have to be most competitive OTAs are where you have to spend time and efforts on getting more demand from.
The last prediction we’ve made, and I shared with you earlier, is that at hotels, we see them cutting down marketing spend cutting down the headcount in marketing departments, but also in revenue and distribution departments. What it means for us that prediction, that being the prediction that’s already happened, the budgets aren’t going to come back in the near future, or fast, and it’s going to be staggered and slow growth and the prediction is that the headcount is not going to come back in the near future, and it’s going to be staggered and a slow growth. Therefore, when we develop our tools, we understand a revenue manager has to manage a few properties as opposed to one before it also means that we have to give them tools to also generate demand and become indispensable for the organisation
Sounds like three core points. That’s brilliant.
I mean for the purpose of the “Who Are We” which this is, I think we’ve covered all the key things that we wanted to cover. As I say we will, we will certainly be talking to you a lot more going forward now that you’re on board and exploring topics that we can dive into. And there’s a number that we’ve already kind of got that we’re looking at here. So, thanks so much for your time today. Any kind of final thoughts or comments or have you got across everything that you wanted to?
I think I’ve got across everything. I’m sure that everyone agrees with me that I am very hopeful will see better days. Then revenue managers will be even more indispensable to organisations.
Absolute Absolutely. Well, we hope to help in that process. Pleasure to have you join us today. Thanks so much. Take care
Thank you very much
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