The BTN interview: Malte Siewert, MD, trivago GmbH
London hotel occupancy during the London Olympics 2012 is currently running at 70% while average hotel prices during this period look set to increase by 133 per cent, according to leading hotel comparison website trivago.
Since launching in 2005, trivago has grown to 15 million visitors per month across 27 international platforms—with over 1 million requests per day and an average savings of 29%. It is hardly surprising that the leading travel site, which compares over 500,000 hotels on 110 booking sites, currently has 360,000 fans on its facebook fan page.
BTN catches up with Malte Siewert, managing director of trivago GmbH (pictured with Peter Vinnemeier (left) and Rolf Schrömgens (right)) to find out more about the latest innovations in the online travel space, the changing role of social media and why we should keep our eyes on apartment rentals.
Breaking Travel News: What differentiates trivago from other hotel price comparison websites?
Malte Siewert: trivago is accurate, fast, comprehensive and unbiased. We are a metasearch site exclusively for hotels, which operates solely from a consumer perspective. trivago also offers what is arguably the largest hotel supplier and OTA database available online.
BTN: Are you primarily a price comparison website or an information provider?
MS: Our approach has always been to aggregate information from an abundance of sources—i.e. the partner, the user and the hotelier—and condense said information so it can be clearly presented to our customers. Using this method, we are able to offer a comprehensive database of booking sites, prices, reviews, destination and property photos, hotel descriptions, etc. Our best example of this is our hotel ratings— which factor in the information provided by all outside sources and presents it in one clear, easy to use, hotel rating.
BTN: What role does social media play for trivago? How important is this functionality?
MS: Social media is an important part of multiple departments including public relations, online marketing and customer relations. Our facebook fan page, google+ and twitter @trivagoDeals in particular have become important channels for getting in contact with our users. We are able to inform them about daily deals offered on trivago, help with customer care and provide clarification for any questions they may have.
BTN: How do you see social media evolving in coming months?
MS: Social media will play an even more significant role in the coming months, as it develops into an important part of our customer’s everyday life. However I have been advised to stay quiet about any surprises which are still to come.
BTN: What are the key trends that are emerging in the online travel space?
MS: Apartment rentals are on our radar as something that seems to be worth delving into further.
BTN: To what extent is the mobile space a priority for you?
MS: As mobile becomes more and more relevant, we are putting more resources and focus into further developing our mobile web applications.
BTN: Can you share some predictions for UK and London hotel bookings in coming months for the Olympic period?
MS: Currently we are seeing a 70 percent occupancy of hotel space in London during the Olympics— which means only 30 per cent availability remains. We have also perceived an average hotel price increase of 133 per cent already, with the most expensive day to book (on average) being the 4th of August and the cheapest being the 12th. To make finding the perfect hotel easier, we have optimised our filters so users are able to drill-down by distance to any and all Olympic venues.
BTN: What are your predictions for the online travel space in coming months?
MS: We perceive site usability to be the most important aspect for remaining relevant within the online travel space. Therefore we have chosen to stay focused on site optimisation and inventory growth.
BTN: Will trivago expand beyond hotel content?
MS: You never know…but for now we’ll stick to what we do best.
BTN: Which new destinations (if any) are you currently eyeing for expansion?
MS: Currently we have no plans for expansion, but instead to stay focused on our key markets within Europe.
BTN: In which markets do you feel you need to expand your reach in terms of hotel partners?
MS: Emerging markets, namely India and Russia, have presented a few new players to the online hotel space who are of interest but with whom we are not currently working.
BTN: What are the main barriers you currently face? How are you dealing with these?
MS: We find it hard to scale the size of our internal organisation in relation to the growth of the business. We have new positions being posted daily for our international headquarters in Düsseldorf, where most of our team is sitting—even our IT talent is recruited internationally.