Shanaka Perera: Focusing on domestic market steered Minor Hotels to success
The Sri-Lankan born e-commerce director says using TableCheck increased overall traffic to Minor Hotels' multiple properties
Shanaka Perera is a Regional Director of e-Commerce & Distribution for Minor Hotels, an international hotel company with a diverse portfolio of 540 hotels around the world including hotels like Anantara, Avani, Elewana, Oaks, NH Hotels, and Tivoli Hotels.
Very early in his career in the hospitality sector, the executive already saw how e-commerce can shape the future of the hospitality industry. That's when he decided to make a career move to marketing.
“Being a software engineer, to move into marketing was much easier because I already had an understanding of the technicality,” Shanaka told TableCheck.
Today, he leads the digital marketing strategy in nearly 30 hotels in the Middle East, Seychelles, and Mauritius as well as upcoming pre-opening properties in the region.
Brand and audience segmentation
As an e-commerce and distribution director, Shanaka not only takes care of social and digital marketing/implementations, but also the OTA, B2B and B2C distribution, PPC, SEO, and all paid advertisements for the properties he oversees.
The challenge for Shanaka is to ensure that he and his team create the right campaign for specific brands and audiences.
“We have a mix of different brands [targeting] different [guest] segmentation. Currently, we have all these brands like Anantara, Avani, Tivoli, Oaks, and NH Hotels which are already in operation in the Middle East Region.
“If you look at the clientele, resorts and families look more into Anantara as a luxury resort leisure brand; Avani is more corporate plus leisure together; and Oaks–we consider it mostly like a hotel and apartments property."
Navigating the pandemic: Changing priorities
Just like many hotels and other areas of the hospitality sector, Minor Hotels was affected when the COVID-19 pandemic pulled the plug on international travel.
“It was challenging because all the marketing funds were cut off. There were no international inbound travellers to UAE and to all the other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries.”
However, Shanaka adapted to the situation and steered the company in a new direction.
“We managed to turn it around positively by targeting the domestic crowd in all the countries [where Minor hotels are]. That gave us success,” he said.
Shanaka implemented TableCheck in May 2021 to drive these direct consumers to his properties rather than go through third-party channels–a move where he received great support from the Minor Hotels corporate team.
“We used to have few other F&B systems in the past, but none of them catered or had a functionality to allow you to ‘Reserve with Google’. And when it comes to analytics, what TableCheck Insight is giving us right now is very detailed. It has very easy access to all our social platforms.”
Currently, Shanaka has three properties with Instagram and Facebook that are connected to TableCheck directly. This helps them run campaigns on social media and on Google to drive more direct consumers to their restaurants.
“We never had that option before when it comes to social media, and also on the brand level, and website.
“This allows consumers to see the ribbon packages such as the Friday brunch or Saturday brunch so that it converts them immediately.”
"When it comes to analytics, what TableCheck Insight is giving us right now is very detailed. It has very easy access to all our social platforms." – Shanaka Perera
Using guest data to understand their guests
Their POS has also been fully integrated with the TableCheck restaurant management platform. This allows Shanaka’s staff to build their own guest data and at the same reduce the time of his staff working on operational tasks.
“We want our restaurant team members to know whether this guest is enhanced and what the meal plan they have booked. So once they type the name [of the guest] they automatically get the information into TableCheck.
"We don't want guests to wait. Before it was time-consuming, now TableCheck enables us to get guest details fast, so it’s good for us.”
“I need all properties to come on TableCheck.”
Shanaka says he sees an uplift in overall traffic in their restaurants ever since he implemented TableCheck.
“What we could see is that the traffic generated by TableCheck to restaurants has massively increased. If you look at the Anantara the Palm Dubai, out of all the properties in the Minor Hotels, the Palm drives the top five out of the rest of the outlets as the highest number of TableCheck conversions.”
With 2022 now fully underway, Shanaka has a very significant target in mind this year.
"To have one landing page across all properties to drive F&B revenue. That’s my objective–to bring everyone into ONE platform and have one dashboard for all stats, everything into one place so we can cross-promote everything.
“I need all properties to come on TableCheck.”
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