Hotel distribution has changed completely in the last few years, becoming even more complex with the continuously growing number of channels. New OTA’s emerging all the time and meta-search websites such as Trivago and Kayak are more popular than ever. The challenge for hotels is not to lose control over their online distribution, with channels becoming more powerful and the endless rising costs of distribution. However, using the distribution network and technology available today to their advantage, hotels can improve their bottom line. Here is how:
1) Explore every channel. The average guest is visiting almost 30 different websites before making a booking, hotels should find the most effective mix of channels in order to get global exposure and generate more bookings. Most channel manager systems today offer over 200 channels, of course not all those channels will be relevant for each hotel, but probably more than you would think. GDS for example, many independent hotels are not connected because it would take too much time, be too expensive or not bring enough bookings, but the number of bookings made on the GDS are still growing every year and in many cases it can be interesting and contribute to your channel-mix. Local and niche OTA’s are another example, although in many cases ignored as if it would not be worth the time. The commission is usually low and a few together will be able to bring you a nice amount of bookings, making you less dependent on Booking.com and Expedia.
2) Focus on direct. Every hotelier wants guests to book directly, controlling the guest journey and lowering distribution cost. However most hoteliers are not investing much time or money into increasing the number of bookings made on their own website, or simply don’t know where to start. First of all you should have a great website with high-quality pictures which is user friendly on any device, including mobile. Then you need to get potential guests to visit your website, here meta-search websites (such as Trivago, Kayak, TripAdvisor, Google Hotel Finder and Wega) are a great tool, you should be on all of them. Especially if your own website offers a better deal/price this will bring a lot of direct bookings.
3) Stay ahead. New channels are emerging all the time (Hipmunk, Alibaba and Price.Farm to name a few). Hotels must be on top of new developments and always aware of the latest travel trends. Instead of waiting until all your competitors are using a new channel, you should take advantage of the opportunity and try it out right away. The same applies to new technology, from price-check widgets that increase direct bookings to distribution tools that updates content and promotions to various channels automatically, if it can save time or increase profits you should at least give it a try.
Following these steps will take up a lot of time and requires the right technology, however getting back control of your distribution will result in a better bottom line and growth for your hotel. If you need help adding new channels, negotiating with OTA’s or connecting your website to meta-search sites such as TripAdvisor and Google Hotel Finder, you can always give us a call. For more information have a look at our distribution management, cloud PMS or hotel website solutions.