WHAT IS HOTEL DISTRIBUTION AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Let us take you to the basics if you are a beginner or new to hotel distribution, hotel software, and online hospitality technology.
Gone are the days where travel booking and reservations were only possible by visiting travel agencies or ordering by phone. Travel websites and mobile apps have been making digital travel arrangements increasingly easy.
Hotel distribution technology is a complicated beast. Plus, it changes constantly. Let’s take a look at this complex ecosystem and its key elements.
Before we explain the key elements have a look at the image and refer to the connecting points to how things integrate and make your Hotel management so much easy.
Whether you are a Hotel, Vacation Rental, or any sort of accommodation provider you can connect your property to a number of systems and manage inventory and increase revenue from one place.
Key elements to hotel distribution are:
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, etc are among the many intermediaries that bring in bulk bookings, primarily because of their reach and also metasearch engines can help in this. Did you know STAAH Channel Manager connects with 100+ OTA’s? Find out all the integrations here
A good hotel distribution strategy is about balance and working with multiple offline and online travel agencies, as well as multiple distribution partners. Hoteliers should aim to promote their most profitable distribution channels; however, it is unrealistic to think that consumers would only search and book direct, or that direct channels are always the most profitable.
We can help you on how to choose an OTA partner here
The low-cost way to get guests into the door is via a hotel booking software. 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. For more tips and tricks to drive direct booking click here
Group Distribution System (GDS)
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. Find out the advantages of GDS here
Another key way to grow your direct bookings is by developing a loyalty program and enabling gift vouchers via the STAAH Gift Voucher Engine to grow the bottom line. For hoteliers, gift vouchers present an instant injection of cash into (now) ailing businesses. For guests, the offers are almost too tempting to resist. Driven by direct (commission-free) revenue and the need for cash, hotels offer fantastic packages via gift vouchers. For travel buffs, these promotions are too good to miss out. The buy now, travel later combined with flexible terms for redemption is suddenly very appealing. Read more here
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 property with even 15 rooms, think about the time spent in updating the listing for each across your chosen channels! We haven’t even looked at multiple rate plans yet.
Enter the STAAH Channel Manager.
The Channel Manager also known as hotel management software becomes your single source to distribute your inventory across multiple channels, avoid booking errors, and more importantly maximize 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!). Since these days everything is mobile friendly why not use the hotel management app via the STAAH MAX app to manage from any time anywhere.
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.
You can also refer to our Beginners guide to Channel Management
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.