Efficient hotel distribution across right sales channels is the key to sell more room for hotels.
For a hotel, a well-structured inventory distribution strategy is the key to sell more rooms. Not only that, it also helps the hotel increase its online visibility. However, what should a hotel do to ensure this? Should the hotel only work with OTAs, or it should look for other options?
Let’s take a look at some of the recent trends in hotel distribution and how a hotel should go about it.
Blockchain technology for hotel distribution
A recent Nasdaq article has referred to Blockchain as the “future of hotel distribution” as it has the potential to enable a secure “commission-less” distribution. And to make this happen, there has to be a decentralized platform to connect guests directly with hotels. The good news here is that, a couple of Blockchain solution providers are working to come up with the much-needed decentralized platform.
For example – Concierge.io leverages NEO blockchain as the mainstay of its commission-free hotel booking platform. Currently, only hotels in Vietnam are listed on this platform. But, Concierge.io aims to list around 10,000 hotels, globally. (Source)
However, we need to wait and see how soon and how efficiently this latest technology will revolutionize the whole process of hotel distribution, to help hotels acquire commission-free booking.
OTAs still play a major role
Yes, this is right. Given their huge market share, OTAs are very important for hotel inventory distribution. Merely listing out your property on OTA platforms does not involve any cost. So, it is a good idea to get connected with all the OTAs in your target geographies. Though, only top performing OTAs will give you maximum booking, this exercise will help you boost your online visibility. Enhanced online exposure increases the chances of your brand being found by more guests.
However, make sure that you have a cloud Hotel PMS that comes with a channel manager connect, to help you update rates and rooms across all the OTAs in real-time. Because, without this, you are bound to update all the OTAs manually which is a time-consuming task. Plus, this leads to overbooking and double booking.
Concentrate on your brand website
When integrated with a web booking engine, your hotel’s brand website becomes a potential source of direct booking. And who does not like getting more direct booking that helps save on OTA commission! That’s why, your brand website is the most obvious and most cost-effective inventory distribution channel.
Your hotel website should have all the necessary information about your property. The booking engine should be easy-to-use for guests. Help them make the reservation by keying in minimal personal information. If you are targeting foreign tourists, make sure that you have the ‘multi-language’ and ‘multi-currency’ features in your website. If possible, incorporate a virtual tour feature and allow your potential guests to take a tour of your property, even before they make their decision of booking with you.
Don’t forget to ensure that your hotel website is mobile responsive, as an increasing number of travellers are accessing hotel websites on their smartphones to make reservation. And most importantly, promote positive guest reviews on your website to influence the booking decision of potential bookers.
Drive booking via Facebook
When Facebook is considered as one of the most important social media platforms that connects millions of travellers, you can not afford to just sit idle. It is a place where today’s travellers are sharing their hotel experience and photos, etc. And that is why, your hotel’s brand must have a strong presence on Facebook.
Entice your potential guests with exclusivity - “We still have availability for the upcoming holiday session. Book now and avail 10% on F&B bills”. Moreover, to establish trust and to emerge as a hotel brand that cares for its guests, do respond to guest reviews on your Facebook page. In fact, be more proactive in responding to the bad ones. Additionally, you can leverage your FB page to do much more, like - providing travel advice related your area, listing out local events, etc. Most importantly, make it easier for your guests to book instantly with you by incorporating a clear ‘Book Now’ button.
Work with metasearch engines
This is another area of hotel distribution that has the full potential to help hotels generate direct booking. Metasearch engines help travellers search individual hotels through OTAs for rates and availabilities. They also throw up your hotel’s rates as mentioned in your website and that’s how a traveller finds your brand. If you work with metasearch engines with the right strategy, you can reduce your OTA dependency, for sure. Plus, with a metasearch engine’s ‘pay per click’ policy, you can save more on your distribution cost, too. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and list out your property on metasearch engines by promoting your real-time availability, rates, amenities and services.
Be available on last-minute hotel room booking apps
Do you know that up to 80% of last-minute hotel bookings are now made on mobile devices? (Source). That’s why it is highly advisable to feature your hotel’s inventory and rates (special rates in this case) on some of the popular last-minute booking apps. The increase in hotel booking via mobile is being driven by today’s travellers’ impulses, their decision to make last-minute reservations. Your unsold rooms are perishable items. You stand to lose the booking value/revenue if one room remains unsold today. Instead of losing the entire room revenue, why not sell the room via last-minute apps? You still get some revenue even after the discount you provide, and your guests get a good deal. And once they come to your property, serve them efficiently, make them happy and win over their loyalty.
The internet has impacted the hotel distribution landscape in many ways. With the rise in the number of OTAs, metasearch engines and other distribution channels, as a hotelier, you need to be proactive so as to keep yourself abreast and make the most of them.