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eHOTEL and Umbrella Faces

Helmut Pilz
Mar 11, 2017 12:19:28 PM

The best hotel portal by a mile! Fritz Zerweck is CEO of ehotel. In 2016 ehotel was once again named the test winner of the "Deutsches Institut für Servicequalität" (German Institute for Service Quality). This Berlin-based hotel portal proves to be worlds ahead of many well-known providers especially in the area of price comparison. And there's a reason for that. We are very pleased to announce that ehotel profile data is also synchronisable with Umbrella Faces. This is a great added value for companies that rely on ehotel!

In the following interview with likeable Fritz Zerweck you will learn what makes ehotel so different to other hotel portals and why it is especially relevant for company travel agencies:

Fritz, thank you very much for your time! Let's get right down to it: what exactly makes ehotel so different to other hotel portals?
It's simple: we also offer content from all other relevant portals – for example, HRS, and Expedia. This means we offer the best rates from all available channels. This works similar to Amazon Marketplace. Therefore it is perfectly clear that we always win in independent tests.

So, is ehotel a meta search Provider?
Not at all. The customer always books with us, in our user interface. Our focus is in the business travel sector, also for historical reasons. We have completely adapted our offer and our processes to the requirements of corporate customers.

So you also offer consolidated billing for corporate customers?
Correct! You can imagine it like AirPlus in the flight sector. We collect all invoices for a corporate customer and prepare them so they get a single document with all the details once a month. This is an optional service which many of our customers opt to use.

Going back in time: how was ehotel created?
ehotel was a part of i:FAO until 2002, which also explains the focus on business travellers.

Are you also represented in self-booking tools?
Of course, that is a very essential part of our business. ehotel is available in cytric, Atlatos, Onesto and Victor (from PASS Consulting). Additional SBTs are in the pipeline.

Do business travellers mainly book with ehotel via SBTs or directly via your portal?
Combined bookings with flights and hotels are always booked via the SBT. However, hotel bookings are often booked directly via our portal. Many companies want to save the SBT fee. Here we are neutral because it makes no difference to us.

Do you also cooperate with travel agencies?
Yes, we do. We have a close partnership with Radius and their 450 travel agencies around the world. That is very important for us so we can have local contacts around the globe.

In which customer segments are you especially active?
Over 70% of our business is classic business travel. This includes many financial service providers or industrial companies such as Clariant. In the private segment, we supply resellers such as check24 or, among many others.

Hotel platforms are seeing quite dynamic development.
Absolutely. It is quite striking that the number of competitors has declined significantly in recent years. The concentration is increasing significantly – and with it the dependence of hotels on large, individual suppliers.

As a result, hotel associations across Europe are putting pressure on competition authorities to prohibit the so-called "best buy" clauses in contracts with hotel portals. This has already been banned in Germany and Austria.

Is this "best buy" ban also a disadvantage for ehotel?
No, it is actually good for us. Since we offer the content of many different channels in our "market place", we are actually always cheaper than or as cheap as an individual hotel portal.

We conducted a benchmark study with a large customer over the course of four months. We discovered that in more than 70% of cases ehotel was able to offer the same rooms cheaper than a different, large hotel portal. For the remaining 30%, we were on equal footing.

What was your career path before ehotel?
I grew up in Stuttgart. In keeping with our family tradition, I first completed a craftsman apprenticeship and then decided to study economics. After that, I got into the financial sector and worked in Cologne, Bremen and Madrid.

That is why I also supported an acquaintance when he got involved in ehotel. Back then I found the company so exciting that I also got involved. It started small, but now ehotel is owner-managed.

What do you like to do in your free time?
We have an interesting private situation. My wife works in Zurich and I work in Berlin, so we are classic weekend commuters. But I am starting to spend more and more weekends in Switzerland. We are both nature-lovers and spend a lot of time in the mountains – both in summer and in winter.

Thank you very much for the interview!

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