Mastering Hotel Distribution:

With a myriad businesses out there trying to make a grab at the booming travel industry you may think that there is little room for flexibility and growth, if you slip up your guest prospects will walk right up to your competitor’s door and knock there instead. So you cut rates in favor of a higher room occupancy, and sometimes you turn a profit, other times you make just enough to balance your budget. If this is beginning to feel like an endless loop of mediocracy then here are the five tips you need to know to find your way out:

Master Your Hotel Distribution to Revolutionise Guest Experience
No doubt you’ve become aware that in order to keep your brand relevant and profitable you must list your hotel in the most prominent travel agencies, and you’ve done so, you’ve even set up your own website, but the value you get for your effort hardly seems worth the trouble. You list the same rates on different sites but your revenue falters quite frequently.
Due to fees you earn less from the rooms booked via online travel agencies (OTA) but at the same time you get more bookings from them as opposed to your website’s booking engine. To top it all off, demand and availability can fluctuate drastically, making rate management an entire enterprise in and of itself. To juggle all of these responsibilities you would need an effective distribution strategy which would allow you to manage the increasingly multifaceted nature of your business.
Having an understanding of what the different distribution channels bring to the table is obviously a must but managing them simultaneously while always getting the best possible deal is a task that would require both manpower and resources, which is why software companies have swooped in and provided platforms that require very little of both.
An integrated hotel channel manager can provide you with a single platform from which you can manage your listings. It can determine the best rates and automatically update OTA listings, while also holding an option for a manual rewrite if the hotelier has a change of heart. The same system can prevent overbooking and manage late cancellations by automatically updating available rooms on all channels.
Once you have your external distribution channels handled you have the time and resources to focus on your hotel’s website. A business-savvy hotelier must keep in mind that the guests’ experience begins long before they arrive at the hotel. One way of engaging with the guest is to have a booking engine which is well suited for a mobile device.
You might think that you’re late to the game since most OTAs already have mobile versions of their service, but keep in mind that the modern client seek a personal touch that comes with their service. There is always a sense of doubt of whether a hotel would live up to its hype and a well put together website with options for mobile booking and possibly a self-service app which would allow the client to check in from their phone at their own leisure speaks volumes for the quality of the business at hand.
No effective distribution strategy should have a single booking as its end goal, after all the value of a customer is not determined by how much they spend on one particular trip, but rather it extends over time. You can keep in touch with your guests via newsletters and you can also send out follow up surveys allowing the client to express their opinion and recommendations for improving their experience.
Add Key Distribution Agents to Your Strategy
Consider this, your work is never truly done. There will always be new travel agencies and new social media to explore and as a business owner you should not shy away from these opportunities.
Once you’ve developed your website, you might consider going the extra mile, and setting up your business’ facebook page. Already got one? Well, who doesn’t. How about Twitter, or Instagram? They’re just an example of how quickly the social media landscape changes, but they are also the fastest growing free online marketing tools available at your disposal. As such they are important to your distribution strategy as they connect to your guests on a personal level. You can engage with your potential guests in a much more informal way, by showing them a curated view of an hotel experience they can dream of.
Best-in-Class Solution
Understanding your business’s needs is key to approaching distribution and service effectively. You might choose not to splurge on a full property management system but that does not mean that you cannot profit from several of the solutions that you need most. Some companies such as Clock Software Solutions will offer both individual and packaged products which would allow you to choose what your business needs the most at a given time and upgrade to other solutions when needed.
Automate Your Hotel Inventory with Channel Manager
Keeping track of bookings is one the biggest challenges of running a successful hotel. You don’t want to lose out on revenue from cancellations but at the same time you fear disgruntled customers in case of overbooking. This has become increasingly more difficult with the inclusion of OTA listings. An Integrated channel manager can solve this issue by sending out automatic updates to all reservation systems and online travel agencies effectively eliminating overbooking and allowing for late cancellations to be listed immediately.
Encourage Feedback Online
Your social media presence is less about appearance and more about conversation. Keeping in touch with your clients is how you build a loyal customer base, but it is also how you gain credibility in front of future customers. Online reviews now matter more than traditional advertising, people don’t want to be told by a company as to what product or service they should use, they’d rather hear it straight from other users. Encouraging an online conversation through your social media portals, be it through reviews or as part of your social media campaigns can put your business on the map like never before.

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About Clock Software

Clock Software is a global provider of cloud-based property management systems (PMS), integrated online distribution, online & kiosk hotel self check-in solutions and mobile & in-room guest engagement systems with customers in more than 65 countries.