The internet is possibly the most significant channel for the sales of your hotel rooms. If not utilized immediately many hotels could find themselves with empty rooms.
The internet provides hoteliers with formidable access to almost every person in the world who owns an internet connection. This is reach beyond compare and achieving sales online is partly the result of maximized online exposure. The more a hotel room is exposed on the internet (together with content and recommendations) or more so made visible to the market persona (customers!), the more likely it is to be booked.
Listed below are ten gems that detail how a hotel should think about distributing their rooms online. These are some of the tools that would make your distribution approach powerful and formidable.
1) Direct sales - A hotel should have its own booking engine on its own website. Anyone loyal to a hotel brand name would search for your hotel website and would like to book directly with you. The joy of your own booking engine is that the reservations are immediate. On request bookings are as old as fossils and should be avoided.
2) GDS connectivity - If you used to sell your rooms to high street travel agents and tour operators as a part of their package deal I am pretty sure you already work with a GDS system such as Amadeus, Sabre, Worldspan, etc. The beauty of having these connections is that online travel agents connect to them too and now have access to your rooms which could be sold online to their consumer base.
3) CRS connectivity - Many online travel agents are now able to build an XML interface to most Central Reservation Systems. The trick is to ensure that your CRS provider has this capability. It is worthwhile asking them which online agents they are already linked into. Having your CRS connected to an online agent means your rooms are now visible to many consumers who frequent these online channels.
4) PMS connectivity - Most hotels use a Property Management System to manage their reservations. Some PMS systems enable online travel agencies to connect to them using an XML interface. The trick is to ensure that your PMS provider has this capability. It is worthwhile asking them which online agents they are already linked into. Having your PMS connected to an online agent means your rooms are now visible to many consumers who frequent these online channels.
5) Wholesalers / Tour Operators - Wholesalers and some tour operators request hotels to enter their rates and inventory onto an extranet. This database of hotel rates and inventory is made available to many distributors of room inventory. For example HotelBeds in Spain or Gullivers in the UK request hotels to enter their room rates and allotments onto extranets which are then distributed to many dot coms globally. This is a lucrative channel for sales as the room exposure is phenomenal. The more wholesalers you work with the more sales channels you open up to.
6) Extranets with OTA s - Many Online Travel Agencies have the facility to enable hotels to enter rates and allotments directly onto their systems (extranets). Sites such as Expedia provide these facilities. Some of these sites drive most of the room sales online due to their brand name and marketing, and having your property on their sites exposes your room to consumers. It also gives you the opportunity to liaise and negotiate with the OTA on rates and sales.
7) Channel Management Systems - With the use of so many extranets the manual work required from hotels in updating rates and inventory across so many channels makes it impossible for hotel staff to manage the work load and often requires the hiring of more staff. Channel Management systems provide some help in this. They request that hotels enter rates and inventory onto one extranet that updates hundreds of OTAs. Preferential rates for certain OTA s are also possible.
8) Aggregators - There are many companies that make it their point to connect to every possible online channel to gather as much hotel inventory as possible and then resell that inventory to any distributor. Working with them does improve your exposure.
9) Call centre - There are still many online users who are not comfortable with entering their room requirements online. They insist on calling a 'person' and making the same booking over the phone. Having your details available for calls enables this channel of exposure.
10) Inbound Marketing - The world of public relations and internet marketing is changing rapidly / dramatically and market indications predict shifts in marketing online. Shifts towards social media, SEO, community building, blogs, article submissions and engaging with online consumers is set to be the new wave in internet marketing. First movers are bound to benefit in this arena and finding yourself internet marketing consultants would prove useful. For example most internet sales today (averaging over 70%) are made via organic search results e.g. via Google search or Bing, by consumers as opposed to other channels.
For more details on how to more forward on any of these channels please don't hesitate to contact Johann@MasterBusinessChronicles.com