Category Archives: Hotelmine Announcements

Hotelmine "Direct Connect" Hotel – Hotel Etoile Trocadero Paris

Hotel Etoile Trocadero

We are very pleased to announce the addition of our second Hotelmine “direct connect” hotel partner located in Paris…Hotel Etoile Trocadero.

Hotel Etoile Trocadero is located in the 16th district of Paris, within walking distance of the Champs Elysées and the Eiffel Tower.

Each of the 23 guest rooms at Hotel Etoile Trocadero features a minibar, a hairdryer and dry-cleaning service is available. A continental breakfast is provided every morning and can be served in the guest rooms.

Guests arriving late can benefit from 24-hour reception and they can also leave their bags during the day. Daily newspapers are provided, along with Wi-Fi access. Hotel Etoile Trocadero is a short walk from Trocadero and Boissière Metro (subway) Stations, leading directly to Montparnasse and Saint-Lazare Stations, the Opéra Garnier and Republique Square.

ROOM AMENITIES

  1. Cable TV
  2. Mini-bar
  3. Wireless broadband Internet access
  4. Individual air-conditioning
  5. Dry-cleaning service
  6. Safe
  7. Hairdryer

PLACES OF INTEREST NEARBY

The Trocadero square, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées, Eiffel Tower, the Avenue Montaigne, and Palais des Congrés.

REVIEWS

Date of review: May 15, 2011 – New

I stayed three nights and enjoyed myself immensely. Great location while not too touristy. Could walk to major attractions while having several nearby choices for the Metro. I have no complaints about service or cleanliness. Breakfast was decidedly French in a very attractive room. Mr Abdel went out of his way to help me, especially with directions. When I was leaving there was a problem with the elevator but Mr Abdel carried my luggage down the stairs and all was well! Will use this hotel again when I return to Paris.

“Great Great Hotel” Mar 6, 2011

“Highly recommendable! Great service for a great price!” Jan 30, 2011

“Etoile Trocadero is a fabulous boutique hotel” Jan 12, 2011

OVERALL RATINGS

Excellent 34

Very Good 44

Average 15

HOTEL PHOTOS

Book direct with Hotel Etoile Trocadero and save!

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Hotelmine "Direct Connect" Hotel – Hotel Sophie Germain Paris

Hotel Sophie Germain

We are delighted to announce the addition of our first Hotelmine “direct connect” hotel partner located in Paris…Hotel Sophie Germain.

The Hotel Sophie Germain is a comfortable 3 star hotel and owes its charm to the sophisticated and classical decor, which vary from room to room, and to the attention paid to comfort facilities. With 33 comfortable rooms the staff will be pleased to make your stay in Paris memorable.

You will find this unique and lively atmosphere at Hotel Sophie Germain, with its nice and elegant decor! You will have the possibility to spend a really relaxing and pleasant stay at the hotel, which will boast a comfortable and elegant furnished accommodation in a magic position in Paris. The staff of Hotel Sophie Germain will welcome you, so that you will feel at home.

The Sophie Germain benefits from a central location in the lively 14th district of Paris, near Denfert-Rochereau and superb market street called Daguerre. Denfert-Rochereau Place is a central point in Paris and very close to Montparnasse train station.

ROOM AMENITIES

  1. Phone
  2. Free WiFi
  3. In-room safe
  4. Minibar
  5. Desk
  6. Window opens
  7. Cable television service

DINING

Each morning a hearty all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast is served in breakfast room or in your room without fees from 7 a.m. until 10.30 a.m. It consists of varied and quality products, including coffee, a selection of tea blends, freshly orange juice, ham, cheese, breads, pastries, cereals, and yogurt.

REVIEWS

“Friendly staff and fabulous location” October 8, 2010

“Do your research. . .” July 18, 2010

“Basic but excellent” Aug 31, 2010

“Nice Hotel” Jan 2, 2010

OVERALL RATINGS

Excellent 19

Very Good 19

Average 9

HOTEL PHOTOS

Book direct with Sophie Germain Paris and save!



Do’s and Don’ts When Visiting Paris, France

Tips to take the hassle out of your trip, and to help you avoid inadvertent “Ugly American Syndrome”.

1. Do Learn Some French Phrases, Don’t Stress About Using Them – Most Parisians in the tourists areas speak some English. However, when in France, learn some polite French phrases to “break the ice.” You only need to learn five key phrases, and you’ll be surprised by the effect that they’ll have.

– Bonjour – Hello. Always followed by the formal (by US standards) Monsieur (male), Madame (female), Mademoiselle (young female)

– Au Revoir – Goodbye

– S’il vous plait – please

– Merci – Thank you

– Je ne parle pas francais. En anglais, s’il vous plait – I don’t speak French. In English, please?

After asking politely if they speak English, most Parisians will say “une peu” (a little) and begin speaking English to you. A little effort on your part to learn a few phrases goes a long way to bridge the communication gap.

Also, don’t stress if they answer “non” (No). Smile and use the international language of hand motions. You’ll be amazed how much can be conveyed with body language and “drawing in the air”.

2. Do Shop in Paris, Don’t Forget to Say “Bonjour Madame” and “Au Revoir” – Unlike the US where “business is business”, the French view their shops as an extension of their homes. You would not enter a stranger’s house without saying “Hello” and “Goodbye”, so remember to do so when in Paris.

Along the same lines, you would not go into a stranger’s house and begin touching their stuff. In Parisian clothes boutiques, this is also often the case. When entering a store, a sales person asks to help you find a size or a color, let them pick it out of the pile for you. Don’t dig through a stack of sweaters to find your size.

3. Do Order in Cafés, Don’t Complain About How Long it Takes to Receive Your Order – In America, we grab our coffee and go. In Paris, part of the pleasure in drinking a warm, caffeinated beverage is the relaxing experience of savoring the drink, talking to friends, and “people watching”. Cultural critics were wondering if the French would “take to the streets with their drinks” when Starbucks opened in Paris. The French, like Americans, love Starbucks – their stores are packed, but you won’t see any “To Go” cups. For the French, the social aspect of lingering over a coffee is the point.

Since getting coffee in a rush isn’t a priority, you’ll notice that service is slower than in the US. There are less wait staff working more tables. And, unlike the ubiquitous”20-something” servers in the US, you’ll notice many servers in Paris aren’t actually “spring chickens”. They’ve worked in the same cafés for decades. If you’re in a rush, do what the locals do and order a café at the bar. You will save a few euros and you’ll be “in and out” in no time.

4. Do Express Your Opinion, Don’t be Surprised When the “Customer Isn’t Always Right” – In France, there isn’t the rapid pace of job churn in the retail/service industries that there is in the US. People are paid a living wage, and stay in the same profession throughout their lives. If you’re a frequent visitor to Paris, you’ll notice the same waiters in cafés, the same desk clerks at the hotel, the same salesgirl at your favorite boutique.

Parisians consider themselves to be experts at their jobs, and if they consider a customer’s viewpoint as “off-base”, they consider it their duty to correct them. The customer is not always right. So, if you want to call a cab, and the doorman states that it is probably better to take the métro at that time of day, take his advice. And, if you ask for your food to be prepared differently than the chef recommends, expect a dissertation on why the flavor of the lamb is so much better medium rare than well done. And, don’t take it personally. It’s not about you being an American. It’s about the Parisians being French.

5. Do Ride the Metro, Don’t Throw Out Your Ticket – Hold onto your purple ticket until you exit the station. The Metro Police occasionally stand at the exits, and using hand-held scanners, inspect every exiting ticket. If you don’t have your ticket, you will be asked to pay a 35€ fine on the spot.

6. Do Visit the Eiffel Tower via the Trocadéro Metro Stop, Don’t Use the Bir Hakeim Station – Most tour books advise getting to the Eiffel Tower via the Bir Hakeim métro stop. Technically, this is the closest stop, but exit at the Trocadéro station directly across the Seine instead. Walk across the grounds of the Palais de Challot, and marvel at the view of the Eiffel Tower framed by reflecting pools and dancing fountains (see picture on left). Cross the Seine on the Pont D’Iena and be amazed at how imposing the Eiffel Tower is when you are up close.

7. Do Order a Drink, Don’t Expect Ice – Expecting a tall, iced Diet Coke? Forget-About-It -Parisians don’t add ice to their drinks. Instead, of complaining and demanding ice, which the café won’t have, enjoy the fact that the chilled drink is poured at your table by the waiter in an elegant glass, complete with a lemon twist. Where does that happen in the US?

8. Do Shop Early at the Department Stores, Don’t Go in the Afternoon– In the afternoons, tours that spend the mornings sightseeing at museums, disgorge their customers in the Grand Magasins district. Literally, hundreds of tourists spill out of buses and into the Printemps or the Galeries Lafayette. It’s hard to walk through the crowds, let alone shop. Get to the stores at opening (10:00am), and be enjoying a café creme at 2:00pm when the crowds arrive.

9. Do Explore the City, Don’t Take a Cab – Walk or take the métro. Paris is a compact city, about 6 miles across, and no building in Paris is more than a few hundred yards from a Metro stop. In Paris, cabs are expensive – you pay by distance and the amount of time in the cab. So, if you’re stuck in a traffic jam with the meter running, the cost of a short trip can be astronomical!

If you wish to take a cab, remember these two tips. If you call a taxi, the meter begins running when the cab leaves the station. Thus, you’ll already have some money on the meter when the cab picks you up. Second, it is very difficult to hail a cab on the street. Cabs can only pick up at a taxi stand (stands are marked by a “T” on most Parisian street maps). Occasionally, you can grab a cab if someone is exiting, but don’t count on it. Instead, wait at a taxi stand. The stands with the most traffic are those adjacent to métro stops.

10. Do Ride the Métro at Night, Don’t Depend on It Running Until Dawn – Before planning a night on the town, check when the last MÈtrodeparts your station. The Métro stops running between 12:40am and 1:20am on weekdays and an hour later on weekends. Trains are staggered between these time frames. Which means if you jump on a train and need to transfer, you might be stuck between stations. Hint: if you see a throng of people, including little, old ladies, sprinting towards the Métro, it’s the last train before quitting time.

If you are going out late and depending on the Métro to get back to your hotel, check the chart in the Métro which shows the last train departure/connection times. If you miss your train, other late-night travel options include taking the Noctambus, taking a cab, or hiking it.

11. Do Sightsee, Don’t be Paranoid about Pickpockets – You can have your wallet or purse stolen in a small town just as quickly in a big city so use reasonable measures to protect your hard earned funds. We find that if you are aware of your surroundings wearing a money belt isn’t necessary. Instead, carry what you need, leave excess cash and valuables in a hotel safe, and use your common sense when wandering around tourist hot spots.  Women should wear a purse with the shoulder strap draped diagonally across your body. If in a highly trafficked area with a lot of jostling, pull the purse towards your abdomen and hold it across the front zipper. Men should carry their wallets in an inside front pocket.

Tom Costello is the CEO, Partner & Co-Founder of Groups International, a company that provides marketing, consultative services, and technology solutions to the group and leisure travel markets.  Connect with him on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook or contact him by email.

Check The Buzz About Hotelmine

There’s a lot happening since the recent launch of the Hotelmine.com website this past week.  Thanks to all of the hotels that are participating and we look forward to adding more hotels this week.

Tom Costello is the CEO, Partner & Co-Founder of Groups International, a company that provides marketing, consultative services, and technology solutions to the group and leisure travel markets.  Connect with him on TwitterLinkedIn, and Facebook or contact him by email.

Hotelmine Goes Live

Hotelmine has announced that it has officially moved into the soft launch stage at www.hotelmine.com.

Hotels can Click Here to register their hotel or to learn more about how Hotelmine works by clicking Here.

See where the worlds largest “Direct Connect” online leisure travel site can take you!

TLabs Showcase – Hotelmine

TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based hotel distribution system Hotelmine.

Hotelmine

Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?

Hotelmine, a Groups International brand, is based in Houston, Texas and is a startup “direct connect” distribution model for the online leisure travel market segment.

The company was founded by Tom Costello and Chris Wenz who have been involved in both the group and leisure travel market segments for more than 15 years and have designed and developed patent-pending technology solutions that serve both of the aforementioned markets.

CEO and Co-Founder Tom Costello is an accomplished entrepreneur whose career includes more than 25-years of experience in the hospitality, corporate travel, meetings, and special events industries and is a highly regarded authority in the field of online meetings and events solutions.

COO and Co-Founder Chris Wenz, a ten-year veteran of the hospitality industry, is no stranger to new business ventures and has designed, developed, and implemented online housing and event solutions that facilitate the procurement and management of guest rooms for both groups and individual leisure travelers.

What financial support did you have to launch the business?

The company is privately owned and operated.

What problem are you trying to solve?

The costs associated with the distributing a hotel’s inventory through an indirect third-party channel is the most expensive distribution channel to-date.

This indirect distribution model resulted in hotels paying abnormally high merchant commissions estimated at $5.4 billion in 2010 that went into the pockets of online travel agencies (OTAs) like Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, and Hotels.com in 2010.

As a direct connect distribution channel, Hotelmine can lower a hotel’s distribution and conversion cost by up to 80% as compared to the same transactional cost as charged by an OTA.

Hoteliers need a robust direct online strategy accompanied by adequate marketing funds to be able to:

  • Take advantage of the steady growth in the Internet channel.
  • Shift bookings from indirect (OTA) to direct (hotel website) online channels.

Describe the business, core products and services?

Hotelmine has developed a proprietary, patent-pending technology that combines the power of B2C with a robust peer-to-peer social media architecture that allows members to book direct with a hotel and to share their research, travel plans, and transactions with family and friends.

Hotelmine offers more than just a rate on a guest room and members can choose from a variety of options that include Deals of the Week, Hot Dates & Rates, Packages, and Last Minute Deals. We even provide our members with the tools to help them find the best rate on ten guest rooms or more.

What makes Hotelmine different is that we’re not a travel agent and we don’t have anything to sell. Unlike mega-OTAs and travel agents who charge a commission, booking fee or markup wholesale rates, we don’t.

When a member sees something that suits his taste or budget, he books directly with the hotel by calling the hotel or through the hotel’s website booking engine.

Who are your key customers and users at launch?

Our key customers will include full and limited-service hotels that are privately owned, franchised owned and corporate managed as well as hotel management firms.

A user is anyone who is searching for more than just a rate on a hotel room.

Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?

We talked with literally hundreds of hotel owners, hotel sales and marketing representatives, hotel management companies, end-users, and software development companies who are involved in our space.

The feedback and response has been overwhelming and continues to spur us on, with great anticipation, to the successful launch of the site.

What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?

We will introduce two different marketing packages that are specifically designed to meet a budget and marketing strategy of either a full or limited-service hotel.

The price point for either package is affordable and we offer our hotel partners a plan that would require a small percentage of the annual subscription rate and the balance spread out over quarterly invoiced payments.

SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?

Strengths:

  • Combined 35-years experience in group and leisure travel markets
  • Experience in development and implementation of technology solutions
  • Excellent existing relationships with hotels at both the corporate and local level
  • B2C platform combined with robust P2P architecture

Weaknesses:

  • API under development
  • A new business model for an industry that historically lags  two years behind

Opportunities:

  • 40 percent of U.S. leisure/unmanaged business travel bookings booked online
  • Affordable low-cost entry for hotels
  • Search methods changing from search engine-based to social media-based
  • GDS channel is in steady decline
  • Cost of indirect booking eight times the cost of direct booking
  • Commission leakage in 2010 to third-party sites estimated at $5.4 billion

Threats:

  • Educating consumers on the “direct connect” value proposition
  • Lack of strict rate parity
  • Economic instability combined with double-dip recession

Who advised you your idea isn’t going to be successful and why didn’t you listen to them?

A former VP suggested that there was no room for a direct channel distribution model in a crowed market dominated by Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline, and Hotels.com and hotels would not be interested in the service.

We did not listen to him because we receive our direction and inspiration from a much higher source.

What is your success metric 12 months from now?

  • Expand our hotel content to include Canada, Europe, and the Caribbean.
  • Continue the development of our mobile solution.
  • Launch a web-based application that will enable hotels to engage with prospective customers the minute they start to think about travel.