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Largest Hotel Chain in Northeast India hits 12x growth in direct bookings

Hotel Polo Towers Group’s Direct Revenue Skyrockets With Simplotel Hotel E-commerce (Website & Booking Engine) Boost

The future's in the air
Can feel it everywhere
Blowing with the wind of change

— Wind of Change by Scorpions

On September 11, 2021, the Hotel Polo Towers Group completed its 30th year of inception. Under the leadership of Chairman and Managing Director Kishan Tibrewalla, the pioneering hospitality group had set up Shillong’s first and only 4-star hotel in 1991. The hotel till today is the largest in Meghalaya’s capital city.

Over the years, the Hotel Polo Towers Group has cemented itself in the social fabric of Shillong and has also expanded to the other Indian states of Tripura, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, while openings are due in Assam and Goa. “I feel we played a part in Shillong’s cultural evolution — from hosting the Bacardi NH 7 weekender (an annual music festival) to hosting various Indian parliamentarians such as Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi, both of whom have gone on to become the Prime Minister of India,” says Deval Tibrewalla, CEO and Director of Hotel Polo Towers Group.

Pool View of Polo Orchid Resort, Cherrapunji

In 2017, the hospitality group decided to onboard Simplotel with two of their properties Polo Orchid Resort, Cherrapunji and subsequently Hotel Polo Towers, Shillong. “We were looking for a specialist in website design. And the more hotel websites I came across, the more of them had been developed by Simplotel,” says Deval.

He adds, “It’s surprising how most websites, which are supposed to be old hat since the ‘90s, do not even work today. It’s not just about an error, it’s about the load time, how the guest journey is and then how everything else synergises. Simplotel websites work — which was the biggest hygiene factor and why we chose it.”

With hotels spread across the country, the nature of business also varies from one state to another for the Hotel Polo Towers Group. However, after onboarding Simplotel, the group has seen its direct bookings scale the three-digit mark, recording a 12x (1100%) growth.

“After we moved on to the Simplotel Hotel E-commerce (website and booking engine) solution, our direct revenues soared. The technology has features that have enabled us to implement our strategies — which we could earlier do only with online travel agencies (OTAs). This also resulted in improved brand visibility, because our websites were clean, understandable and search-engine optimised,” says Prashant Gupta, Director-New Projects. The luxury chain has crossed 6,500 in successful monthly website searches and may soon hit 10,000 before March 2022.

Hotel Polo Towers is also contemplating on leveraging Simplotel’s technology and adopting the Simplotel Reservation Desk (a Central Reservation Office in hotel software terminology). “Thanks to Simplotel’s call button on the website, our call volumes saw a jump right off the bat. At the time, our calls were distributed. A combination of centralization and Simplotel’s call button skyrocketed our call volumes. This also contributed towards inbound leads because the business development representative (BDR) was now incentivized to make sales and was also driven to grow our business. Additionally, we learned a lot from qualitative, real-time feedback through customer queries.”

Polo Towers Cherapunji

Deval believes that using either one of the Simplotel Hotel Website Builder or Simplotel Booking Engine is not leveraging Simplotel’s technology entirely. “Using either one is like driving a Mercedes. But using both is like driving a Mercedes with an expert coach. The analytics provided are easy, lucid and accessible. Plus, the added benefit of great guest service.” Currently, on a monthly average Simplotel contributes to nearly 15% of overall bookings for the Hotel Polo Towers Group.

However, Hotel Polo Towers Group had used Simplotel’s websites in 2019 and then moved to a custom one, but returned within a year. “The reason we came back is because Simplotel’s websites work seamlessly and we have now used it as a base to build our digital marketing effort on” says Deval.

Prashant concludes that in terms of team and guest satisfaction, the experience has been great. Guests, both new and old, now book direct which gives them the best deals and a personalized customer service.

For people venturing into the hospitality industry, Deval believes that sometimes non-hoteliers may be much better entrepreneurs, as they are not burdened with any prejudices.

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