The hotel distribution technology is a complicated beast. Plus, it changes constantly. Let’s take a look at this complex ecosystem and its key elements.
Online Travel Agents and Metasearch
The big guys. The online billboard to reach millions of users out to book their accommodation. Online Travel Agents (OTAs) like Airbnb, Expedia, Booking.com, MakeMyTrip, Agoda and CTrip are among the many intermediaries that bring in bulk bookings, primarily because of their reach.
Of course, this reach and subsequent bookings don’t come without a cost (the dreaded ‘C’ word – commissions) – something every hotelier tries to keep under control.
A special mention here to Metasearch engines, another disruptive channel that lets users compare prices from OTAs and booking sites – all in one place. Some examples of Metasearch are Google Hotel Ads, Trivago, TripAdvisor and Kayak.
The traditional go-to guys for corporate and group bookings, who’re nowhere close to losing their grip on the distribution framework of hotels. The likes of Sabre, Amadeus, Pegasus, Galileo and Worldspan are key operators. Like OTAs, they charge a pass-through fee per booking as well as a participation cost, making it a ‘high-cost’ channel if you’re a small accommodation provider. Plus, there is a consortia cost. Not for everyone, but a must for the medium to large players.
The low-cost way to get guests into the door. These are bookings made directly through your website via your STAAH Booking Engine. With no commission on them, hoteliers are increasingly turning to optimise their website and leverage direct marketing spend to pump up this channel. Features such as WatchMyRate by STAAH and STAAH ReviewMinder (an online reputation management tool) are designed to improve your conversion rate via this channel.
Another key way to grow your direct bookings is by developing a loyalty programme and enabling gift vouchers via the STAAH Gift Voucher Engine to grow the bottom line.
Connecting the dots with the channel manager
Any robust distribution strategy for a property would include multiple channels within each of the above distribution streams. Now, if you’re a property with even 15 rooms, think about the time spent in updating the listing for each across you chosen channels! We haven’t even looked at multiple rate plans yet.
Enter the STAAH Channel Manager.
The channel manager becomes your single source to distribute your inventory across multiple channels, avoid booking errors and more importantly maximise the revenue from every room you have. With two-way, real-time updates and integrations with a number of popular payment gateways, you can manage and get paid for your booking via one single platform. Smartly, you can even ‘stalk’ your competitors with the STAAH RateSTalk feature – so your rates are always as good as the guy next door (even better!).
As a conduit of sorts, the channel manager also has a two-way seamless connection with your property management system (PMS), making management of the booking process even simpler.
If the hotel distribution network was an orchestra…
Think of your channel manager as the orchestra conductor. Every member of the orchestra has a role to play in the symphony. But, if you go without a conductor, you risk going out of tune very quickly.