Own website and Booking engine
Your own website will give guests the chance to discover more about the hotel directly from you and not third parties. The website should be user-friendly with clear descriptions, photos, guest reviews and directions to the hotel.
If you want your property to build its own brand and stand out from the rest, you may want to invest in search engines through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to allow travellers to find you easier.
If you implement web analytics you will be able to assess where your visits are coming from – but be aware that it may take up to a year before you begin seeing consistent trends.
Online partners and GDS
Effective channel management is about managing multiple channels and optimising the bookings and revenue you can achieve from these. The days of putting all your eggs in one basket are well and truly gone.
Begin by identifying a few essential online channels where you would like to get bookings. You may feel you need to be on the popular OTAs like Expedia, booking.com, lastminute.com, or on more local websites or specialist boutique channels.
When choosing the channels you must keep your proposition in mind; why sell an upmarket room on a budget website? Once you have identified your first channels you have made your first step to successful channel management.
Research social and digital marketing
There’s no escaping the digital revolution and with this comes a multitude of websites, social networks and interactive channels that should be considered in the hotel’s long-term strategy.
By assessing the sales potential here you can also assess your hotels reputation through online reviews and at this stage begin responding positively to guests’ feedback.
Proposition is the name of the game and price is the leading element of its value.
Hoteliers who observe and benchmark competitor rates are more likely to set the right rates for the market and therefore secure those additional bookings. It is important you do not out price your hotel either too low or too high then the market value.
By constantly monitoring rates both for immediate bookings and in the future you can ensure that you have a highly visible proposition to secure more advanced bookings.
Price shopping data allows you to respond more readily and adapt to market conditions. Today rates are dynamic and not linear, by keeping an eye on competitor rates will keep you in the game.
Check out Road to Effective Channel Management Part 3.
With an excellent speaker line-up the event turned out to be very fruitful for all attendees. Professionals from companies like Vincci Hotels, NH Hotels, InterContinental Madrid Hotel (IHG Group), RateTiger, Marketing Surfers/Buzzturistic, ITH, Hosteltur and Sol Meliá shared their knowledge and experience and gave fantastic presentations on their chosen subjects. My presentation focused on the importance of rate shopping, benchmarking and the future of hotel business intelligence.
Today’s paradigm in the hotel business is focused on price optimization where:
• Price is a function of demand and demand is a function of price, and
• Decisions should be based on demand, availability and relative competitor price positioning.
Apart from the current challenges of managing data and various systems, hoteliers are further facing the obstacle of silos throughout our companies. We only get to see a small piece of the big picture. The need is for, and in a few cases the trend is towards, a strategic integration of revenue management, marketing and guest analytics.
In a world where consumer segmentation is becoming difficult and distribution is becoming increasingly complex, how will hotel executives keep up? Through business intelligence!
Business intelligence is moving towards providing:
• Better industry benchmarks centered on profitability, not just revenue
• Market relevant price optimization tied to distribution strategy
• Behavioural economics and neuromarketing embedded into pricing and marketing decisions
• Integrated technology with CRS, RMS, PMS, POS, social media, loyalty and sales data all blended into one system and/or data source
Hence what we try to derive here is that – to achieve better benchmarking, optimized pricing and integrated behavioral economics, hoteliers need to focus on integrated technology systems.
Further the conference saw hoteliers discussing the growing trend of new positions coming into being – the likes of Community Manager, Channel Manager and Guest Experience Manager are making inroads into the organizational structure of companies.
Heads in beds is the key driver for all hotels – we know that if you don’t have the occupancy to meet running costs then you will become another of those properties closing each week. The recession has bitten hard but it’s also the result of a much more competitive hospitality industry.
Today’s world requires a much more aggressive approach to sales and distribution. Your hotel needs to be visible, it needs to be value driven and it needs to be easy to book.
You may have developed clever ancillary revenue strategies, improved your customer service or completed a major refurbishment of your rooms – but without a clear distribution, pricing and revenue strategy you will continue to struggle against stronger and more knowledgeable hoteliers.
City markets are becoming more volatile with hoteliers selling on an average of 10 websites, some sell across as many as 24 or more, are you matching this sales technique?
Hoteliers can update their rates up to five times a day to secure their much needed occupancy levels, you too need to ensure that your rates are consistently reflective of market conditions and you do not price yourself out.
To help assess the effectiveness of your hotel’s channel management techniques, you need to measure and benchmark your current strategy.
We no longer sell rooms, we sell products. For the guest it’s the entire experience from researching accommodation, booking, checking-in right until check-out.
Start by finding out what people already think of your product by looking at guest reviews. This will also give you more information about your guests – who they are, what they like, age, and lifestyle – from a review you can build a whole personality profile.
Once you have identified your target audience and what you are selling, you then need to market it. You wouldn’t market a business suite to leisure travellers, so you need to make sure you are visible in the places corporate travellers’ book.
You need to know what other hotels are charging, make sure that you know the exact value of your product against others. It is important that your walk-in rate is different to your online rate; this will help you secure more bookings in advance while maintaining integrity.
Check out Road to Effective Channel Management Part 2.
Global Hotel Market Proves Resilient in March
This year had a buzz like no previous that I had attended – this was my third time in Berlin for this mammoth travel event and no longer did we have people wander past our stand asking us what is channel management? Instead hotels wanted and needed a channel manager. This was such an amazing positive change for us and the industry.
We had over 6 journalists come by for conversations with us to discuss some of the key trends in social media, new digital sales techniques and integrated channel management technologies. Many were very interested in the NH Hotels implementation of our tools.
Siew Hoon of Web in Travel stopped by and we had a vibrant conversation on how we can best educate hotels and make them into more informed buyers – so it looks like I have a lot of work on my hands to create more content and informative articles.
Among the various topics of discussion, I attended two sessions as part of the hospitality distribution programme; Holiday Hotels and Online Booking Behaviour that showed how the online buyer has changed and should not be stereotyped however it did find that expensive luxury trips are still more frequently being purchased offline – from findings by GfK Research Panels.
I also attended Social Media and Mobile Devices and the types of people using these for booking and research; it was interesting that only a few years ago we were saying that ‘nearly’ 50% of travel is booked online, now we are saying ‘over’ 50% of travellers are engaging with social media and consumer travel reviews that is having a major affect on purchase decisions both before and during the holiday.
We had so much to talk about and so many developments for the business that the discussions were much more diverse than just hotel channel management – this makes me look forward to next year’s event.
Ryan Haynes is the Marketing Head at eRevMax and is responsible for driving all PR and Marketing activities of RateTiger and eRevMax brands globally. Ryan is based out of London and can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
This year Online Revealed celebrated its 6th anniversary at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. To add to its existing allure, this year it was held in association with the Canadian Tourism Marketing Summit and the Annual Conference of Hotel Association of Canada.
I was invited to be a speaker at a breakout session on ‘Managing Your Online Distribution’, which had a fantastic turnout. During the workshop I covered various topics including online distribution landscape, useful tools for online distribution, finding and working together with online partners, considerations to maximise your online revenue and top tips for selling online. The audience was very interactive which always adds to a great workshop and controversial discussions such as rate parity, commission fees, and online reviews.
It was a great event and I look forward to the next year’s edition.
Casey Davy is Sales Manager – UK at eRevMax and is responsible for sales of RateTiger products in the region. He is based out of London and can be reached at