How to create an effective online hotel distribution strategy?
- Dawn Whittle
- August 18, 2021
Booking a hotel by visiting a high street travel agent or phoning a front desk receptionist is a thing of the past.
These days, hotel guests head straight to the internet to search and compare hundreds of websites, social media platforms and online reviews as a starting point to booking their stay
How do hoteliers ensure their online distribution strategy is effective?
With more online travel agency websites launching and the whole distribution process becoming more complex, hoteliers need to keep up to date and choose the right platforms to list their hotels on, to avoid being left behind.
Choosing the right mix of channels to sell your hotel rooms is crucial for increasing your hotel’s online profile and targeting your audience. The better your online visibility, the more bookings you’ll receive; essential for boosting revenue and gaining good reviews.
These online distribution channels include:
Online Travel Agents are usually the first port of call for potential guests to start their hotel search. Websites such as Booking.com, Expedia, Trivago, Hotels.com and Airbnb, are designed to make searching and comparing accommodation, reviews, rates and availability as easy as possible.
However, the downside to being listed on OTAs is the expensive 15-25% commission rate hotels pay for each booking made.
Travel agencies utilise the Global Distribution Network, such as Hop partners HotelRez and Synxis, to research and book flights, accommodation and hire cars for guests. In addition, hotels that use a GDS are connected to a range of travel agencies that refer guests.
The rise of metasearch engines has been critical over the past few years, making up a vital part of the hotel distribution strategy. Metasearch engines such as Google or Trip Advisor scan thousands of hotel websites and OTAs to present potential guests with availability and rates across different distribution channels.
Google now offers a free hotel listing service, arming hotels with a more competitive edge over OTAs with more opportunities to increase direct bookings.
Boosting commission-free direct bookings should be at the top of the priority list when planning a distribution strategy. Direct bookings can be achieved through an engaging and user-friendly website linked to a commission-free booking engine.
Ensuring that your hotel website is simple to navigate and responsive for mobile is the make or break for converting direct bookings.
Your Book Now button should be prominent and link to a booking engine that displays availability, rates and promotes your latest offers, making it as easy as possible for your guests to book a room.
In our recent research, which looked into what would make Britons more likely to book a trip online, the most significant response was an easy-to-use website. Download the full report for more info.
Invest in the right tech and tools to achieve a cost-effective distribution strategy.
A hotel needs the right tech and tools to be successful in the digital age. Streamlining all your requirements into one straightforward platform is the simplest way of ensuring you are equipped with the right tech stack, including a Property Management System, a Channel Manager, Booking Engine, Revenue and Reporting and an Events Management feature.
Property Management System (PMS)
A PMS enables you to manage all your listings, rates, reservations, and guest data in one place. Streamlining these processes empowers your teams to maximise revenue and prevent double bookings by reducing manual admin and managing daily operations with ease.
The PMS CRM also stores reservation history, room preferences, dietary requirements, and spending habits and track the booking source to create and deliver strategically targeted guest communications.
A booking engine enables you to receive reservations from your website 24/7 to increase ADR and RevPAR by upselling and promoting offers throughout the entire booking journey.
Your Booking Engine should be branded with your hotel’s logo and colours to provide guests with a seamless experience from leaving your website to completing their booking journey.
Integration with a payment gateway also makes online payments secure and straightforward for you and your guests.
A Channel Manager conveniently syncs availability and pricing from OTAs and rental sites into one user-friendly multi-calendar. This ensures you are provided with an up-to-date view of all your properties, wherever they are listed.
With this feature, you benefit from 2-way synchronisation, real-time inventory, which eliminates overbookings by efficiently managing your rates and availability across all channels.
Revenue and Reporting
A Revenue and Reporting module allows you to access real-time reporting anytime from anywhere with simple cloud-based technology, empowering Revenue Managers to sell the right room to the right guest at the right time & price, successfully maximising RevPAR and increasing occupancy rate.
Reports can also be customised, downloaded and printed to share performance and forecast growth with your teams and stakeholders, enabling you to make immediate, effective and meaningful decisions.
An Event Management feature enables you to manage events from initial enquiry to post-event feedback. It allows your team to create templates and packages, function sheets, maintain a task diary, manage communications, and control finance all in one place.
From tracking leads from the initial enquiry to a confirmed booking, the Event Manager built-in dashboard also provides an overview of daily and monthly statistics for practical reporting.
The Event Manager also syncs events to room bookings so you can create and deliver outstanding and strategically targeted guest communications.
Whether you love or hate OTAs, they are essential for converting online bookings and boosting revenue.
Pushing your direct booking channel, choosing the right OTAs and investing in the right tech are the most effective ways to creating a successful online distribution strategy and ensuring sustainability and profitability for your hotel.
Get in touch to find out how Hop can help.