Every hotel has a different distribution channel mix, as they all have unique business needs and defined goals and objectives. In order to generate more quality leads and increase revenue and ROI, each hotel needs to optimize its distribution channel mix, which they can effectively do with a hotel booking channel manager.
Hotel channel management should be at the top of your priority list if you’re looking to raise brand awareness and beat the competition. With that in mind, take a look at the most essential tips for optimizing your distribution channel mix and developing a strategy that will bring you a constant influx of guests.
Harness the Power of a Hotel PMS
A hotel PMS will automatically store all the information on your guests necessary for learning more about their behavior and needs in encrypted format and providing them with high-quality, personalized service. This is very important for inspiring trust and loyalty, as excellent customer service will create delightful first impressions and entice your guests to come back again.
Make sure the cloud hotel PMS you utilize has comprehensive analytics, so that you can have a clear insight into the performance of your hotel, including the performance of your entire staff. Generating real-time reports is vital for making accurate strategic decisions and improving your overall operational performance.
What’s also incredibly important is to ensure the PMS integrates with your hotel channel manager, as you will be able to easily manage room availability in real time and eliminate the risk of overbooking, as well as seamlessly manage inventory and room rates across various OTAs (Online Travel Agents) from a single dashboard.
An integrated PMS will offer seamless, real-time inventory updates across all channels as well as any and all booking updates. A PMS will help hoteliers understand how each channel is performing in terms of productivity as well as profitability. Finally, it can store guest information and allow hotels to reach back to guests directly.
Partner with the Best OTAs for Attracting Your Target Guests
In order to gain access to a larger number of target guests, you need to join forces with the best OTAs that match your guest segments. A lot of consumers book accommodation through OTAs these days, so you should definitely use that to your advantage. As a matter of fact, 52% of Millennials prefer to book a hotel via an OTA.
Conduct thorough research and find out everything you can about particular OTAs to better understand why exactly they are popular and how they manage to attract travelers. Look at the regions, age groups, and behavioral niches that they have access to, and partner with those that will bring you the best results.
You have to understand where your guests are coming from. Look for local channels that focus on those specific regions and sign up with those channels. Local channels will charge less for the commission and will give you a better position on their pages. Plus, you can even reach and upsell agreement.
Use top OTAs to reach a certain occupancy level. After that, you can try and get direct bookings and tier 2 channels as you will be able to save on commissions and also increase your reach. Plus, you will be less dependent.
Once you do, employ an OTA channel manager in order to synchronize your PMS and all your data with all the channels, and thus maximize your revenue opportunities. Focus on meta-search engines – currently they charge less.
You should have in mind that metasearch sites, such as TripAdvisor, are very affordable, so consider connecting with them as well. For instance, TripAdvisor’s instant booking commission model is a very cost-effective and risk-free option. Now only does the world’s largest travel site offer a cost-per-click model, but it also charges 12 and 15% commission, which is pretty low, considering that the average is about 20%.
Make Your Direct Channel Compelling
Relying on your PMS and your hotel booking channel manager can easily make you forget about optimizing your direct channel, that is, your website. Your OTA channel manager may be helping you generate a huge number of leads, but you should still never forget the fact that there are a lot of travelers who visit your website to learn more about your hotel and book directly through the site.
Since OTAs offer very enticing promotions, it can be challenging to compel them to book directly through your website, but you can make it attractive with some tried-and-true tactics. An easy to use booking engine with a real-time connection with a PMS will provide rate parity on your website too, but you will get extra services or a login (registration) option. Plus, you can get this at lower rates. This way you save you a lot on commissions.
Those involve throwing in some freebies that include amenities, drinks and various activities you offer, allowing flexible cancellations, having an online booking engine on your website, and asking your OTA guests to subscribe to your email newsletter in order to receive regular promotions. This is also something that your hotel channel manager can help you with once you integrate it with your PMS.
Don’t Underestimate Offline Distribution
People are rarely booking accommodation offline these days, since it is much easier to make an online reservation from the comfort of their home or while they are on the go. However, this doesn’t mean that you should completely forget about your offline distribution.
When people visit your property to make a reservation, you have an opportunity to make the best first impression and build strong relationships with them. High-quality service will lead to positive word-of-mouth and help you get referrals and more bookings.
Don’t forget tour operators and wholesalers, as they can also help you attract more guests, not to mention that many may still prefer to simply call you, so be sure your call operators provide the best customer service as well. Keep track of nearby companies and visit them on a regular basis. Offer special rates and promotions and focus on digital marketing via social media and email campaigns.
It’s crucial to remember that optimizing your distribution channel mix is not a one-time job. It should be an ongoing practice, especially since the market constantly fluctuates and business opportunities regularly change. Never stop improving and follow all these tips to take your hotel channel manager optimization to a whole new level, and your hotel will become a delight to your every guest.