Not in the reservation, but in the eye – Newspaper Kommersant No. 130 (7092) of 07/27/2021

The government began to discuss an action plan to implement the strategy for the development of tourism in Russia until 2035, which included a variety of areas, from children’s military history camps to the creation by the end of 2024 of a national system for booking hotels and tourist services. The relevance of the latter project could grow against the backdrop of the government’s desire to localize servers and databases of information systems for tourism and transport in Russia. Rostec is already working in this direction. However, market participants and IT experts doubt the success of the project.

Kommersant got acquainted with the draft action plan for the implementation of the first stage of the tourism development strategy in Russia until 2035. The document was sent out last week to members of the government commission on tourism development, explained to Kommersant in the market. In total, there are 116 points in it, including projects for the development of rural tourism, the creation of a network of children’s military-historical camps, the creation and operation of a national system for booking tourist services, and so on. Rosturizm did not answer Kommersant’s questions.

Tourism development strategy until 2035 approved in autumn 2019. The document is aimed at supporting domestic and inbound tourism through the development of special territories and the formation of a competitive product. Among the goals are an increase in the industry’s turnover from 3.2 trillion to 16.3 trillion rubles, a twofold increase in the number of domestic travel per capita, an increase in the export of services and an increase in the flow of investments. In parallel, a national tourism development project is being developed.

According to the document, the national hotel reservation system should be an IT platform that provides management of distribution and distribution processes of accommodation facilities in Russia. The deadline is the fourth quarter of 2024. The interlocutor of Kommersant in the tourism market believes that, most likely, it will be about developing its own system, and not connecting hotels to existing solutions.

Plans to create a “domestic analogue of” in the tourism market have been discussed since 2014: then the project was included in the plan for implementing the industry development strategy until 2020, and proposals for its implementation were planned to be presented in 2015, but it was never developed.

Now the topic looks more relevant against the background of the process of localization of flight booking systems. According to the relevant government decree, from October 2022, the servers and databases used by carriers for organizing domestic flights must be stored in Russia. Kommersant’s interlocutor in the IT market believes that a similar decision will eventually be made with regard to hoteliers.

However, managing partner of Data Insight Boris Ovchinnikov doubts that hotel reservation systems in this case should be compared with aviation systems. “The latter, within the framework of ensuring the safety of transportation, involve a completely different level of work with personal data, most of which are not needed in order to reserve a hotel room.”

The project “National Booking System” in Russia is already being developed by “Rostec”, it focuses on working with carriers, although the website also contains proposals for hoteliers. Rostec confirmed their interest in participating in the Rostourism project, noting that the state corporation is developing a number of digital services in related areas.

But, according to an interlocutor of Kommersant in one of the IT companies, a different system will be required for booking accommodation facilities. There are a limited number of airlines’ servers, information on them is structured in a standard way, and there are thousands of hotels in Russia, and the content delivery is arranged differently, he explains. Kommersant’s source believes that the development of a state hotel reservation system from scratch may be easier today than five years ago, but still we are talking about tens of millions of dollars and a significant time frame. In addition, it can be difficult to attract competent performers, he clarifies.

Aleksey Kozhevnikov, the vice-president of Opora Rossii, calls the project to create a national reservation system dubious under current conditions. He notes that at the legislative level in the country the issue of regulating the activities of reservation systems has not yet been resolved in terms of imposing the mechanism of “price parity” on hoteliers and other unfavorable conditions. “The creation of a national system will not solve this issue – occupies more than 80% of the online booking market in Russia, and it will not make sense for hotels to switch to the new service,” explains Mr. Kozhevnikov.

The head of the Association of Kazan and Tatarstan Hotels, Gulnara Safina, also doubts the success of the project, noting that there are no problems with the lack of booking systems in Russia, but none of them can get a large market share and does not have sufficient budgets for advertising promotion on third-party sites. “In any case, the project should be commercial and private, the state operator is unlikely to have enough motivation to compete in the market with large international players,” she adds. Boris Ovchinnikov is also skeptical, noting that all technological solutions and products, including domestic ones, are already available in Russia.

Alexandra Mertsalova, Anatoly Kostyrev



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