As people around the globe wait eagerly to see if they will be able to enjoy a summer holiday this year, for hotel distribution executives there’s little let-up from the turmoil of the last year. The pressure is on to ensure their hotel or chain attracts every potential guest through the doors - but there’s no guarantee that trend will continue.
With a limited budget, time and support there are some effective steps that distribution teams can take to make sure they continue to convincingly entice travelers to ‘book direct’.
1. Protect rate integrity at all costs
In these uncertain times, travelers want the best of both worlds: a great deal and the reassurance of a free cancelation policy. Making sure your brand.com website has the most competitive room rates should be your number one priority. The risk of being undercut by a non-contracted OTA flogging inventory from wholesalers is high.
It is often much easier for guests to book with an OTA or via Google, so it's essential that hotels themselves are offering the best rates - plus added health and cleanliness reassurances - as incentives to book directly. This means it’s vital to continually track your distribution health across all channels to protect rate parity and call-out any offenders.
Tracking what your comp set is doing - both hotels and vacation rentals - is essential to ensure you stand out from the crowd. It’s not enough to know how your rates are showing at the destination. Managers need to be able to track the rates that are being offered to potential guests in their home markets, where they originate from. Therefore a rate shopper with customizable guest country of origin (Point of Sale) setting is essential.
2. Corner the local, drive-to and domestic markets
With the local and drive-to leisure markets expected to return more quickly than long-haul and business travel, hotels have an opportunity to capture demand on their doorstep by using minimal resources. Focus on in-house brand marketing efforts to raise awareness, run promotions and attract your loyal customers through your doors. Make sure that your property is accurately listed on Google My Business and any other local directories, so that potential guests can find you online. Consumers in 2021 will be more cost conscious than ever, so it makes sense to remain competitive and be constantly monitoring and adjusting your rates in line with your comp set, while ensuring your own rates are distributed without any instances of rate disparity.
3.Work smarter with your OTA partners
Make the most of tight budgets by leveraging your partnership with OTAs to extend your reach in international feeder markets where your ability to do this might be limited. Despite seemingly having relinquished market share to direct bookings, OTAs continue to claim the lion’s share of the leisure market and should continue to be a central pillar of your distribution strategy. Work with them to put all their software tools and support services to good use.
Hotels have been presented with a fantastic opportunity to gain greater control over their distribution by increasing direct booking from local, domestic and regional markets through their own efforts, while capturing demand from international feeder markets by working with their better-funded global OTA partners. Central to creating this sustainable de-risked distribution strategy will be optimizing their distribution health - both in terms of rate integrity and visibility.
Fornova’s cloud-native hotel business intelligence solutions provide a fast, and effective way to do this.
FornovaDI allows hotels and chains to continuously monitor and benchmark distribution health across all direct and indirect channels. Its unique Distribution Health Score allows hoteliers to monitor their performance at a glance. FornovaDI is built on the industry’s most comprehensive global data set: we are tracking more than 100,000 brand.com and OTA websites. It means hotels can manage partner relationships more effectively and reduce wholesaler leakage.
FornovaCI is the next generation of enterprise-level hospitality rate shoppers. It also uses the most complete and reliable hotel pricing data in the world to support property level rate decisions and to provide a better understanding of how clusters and chains are performing against their respective comp sets.
FornovaRI is a business intelligence suite designed to help hotels improve their performance by making best use of their internal and external data and aligning the entire hotel organization (from revenue and distribution, to sales, ecommerce and operations) so they can make smarter decisions together. It exports all the data from the PMS in real time and creates reports at the touch of a button. It allows hoteliers to improve profitability and drive more direct bookings by connecting all their systems, aggregating their data and gaining deeper insight into their guests.