Distribution of hotel rooms has evolved rapidly and continues to do so at some pace. There are disruptive business models and technologies at work. They influence the way travellers book and how a hotel room is sold across the world. All these have to be taken into consideration while planning your hotel’s distribution strategy.
Some of those changes include
- Disruptive business models both online and offline
- Global internet penetration, speeds and smarter smartphones
- Evolution of global hospitality & travel giants creating monopolistic challenges
So how can an independent hotel or a small group of hotels deal with these rapid disruptive changes?
The biggest but somewhat subtle change in the hotel industry (and influenced by new-age technology companies ) is convergence – an increasing realisation that marketing, distribution, sales, revenue management and finance are all part of a continuous loop rather than stand-alone silos.
And therefore, looking at all elements of the commercial strategy and the channels that they impact is critical. Considering contribution from just one channel or commercial stream is just not enough. Especially as in some cases revenue from one channel may just be displaced by another.
Do a detailed distribution audit
Start by considering all commercial and related functions as well as support systems within the hotel ie roles, functions and tools within and outside the hotel that have an impact on revenue generation or maximisation either directly or indirectly.
A comprehensive audit for a large hotel or chain may need to consider all of the below and possibly more. If you are a smaller hotel, then it may be some of these elements.
How many online channels are you present on? What type of channels are they and how do they match with your hotel positioning? What is the quality of the content? Take a look at how your Trip Advisor Review Management is impacting your hotel bookings.
Third-party distribution audit
Some of the insights of a third-party distribution audit cover the following areas and are supported by recommended actions:
- Online Travel Agency (OTA) Visibility
- OTA Content quality
- OTA Content consistency
- Range of OTAs
- User-Generated Content website impact
- Promotions & Package Path
- Rate & Product consistency
- Positioning consistency
- OTA profitability
Brand website audit
For example, the audit on brand.com should study
- Booking Path
- Social media interaction
- Content & Images
- Promotional opportunities
- Website structure for SEO
- Mobile ready
Why is all this important? As hotels strive to achieve more direct bookings, each of the above factors plays a key role.
What are the sales processes and tools in use? Is there a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool and is it being used effectively? Are the sales tools providing enough support to deliver sales? Are there market segments which require additional attention?
Some of the insights of the sales management audit include:
- Sales process efficiency
- Sales technology
- CRM usage and impact
- Business segments
- Sales collateral & tools
- Group management
- RFP management
- Pricing structures
Why is all this important? As hotels strive to boost sales, better processes and optimum use of technology is critical to sales success.