Distribution is one of the biggest headaches for Hoteliers, there is so much to consider when putting your strategies together. Here we interview Angelene Bungay, Revenue and Distribution Manager at Guestline on best practice and tips on how to do it right!
Distribution is getting more and more complicated by the day. Speaking generally, how aware is the industry of the latest trends in this field – for example, metasearch, mobile, etc?
A, Depending on the size of the property/group, awareness varies hugely. For example, smaller properties have less time and resources to invest into existing and emerging technologies. Responsive websites have become less of an option and more the norm these days, although few smaller hotels realise the true benefits of a responsive website with a mobile-friendly booking interface.Larger properties and groups tend to have more human resources to hand, for instance a dedicated marketing team or division. Investment in time and resources to strengthen the on-line presence and outreach via new devices and systems is paramount on the agenda.
How important is dynamic pricing for hoteliers? Why?
A, Extremely – consumers now identify with ‘shopping around’ to get the best price, and because of the airline model, understand if they book far in advance, last minute or are prepared to have non-flexible booking they will get a cheaper rate, to point where this practice is becoming expected.
How can hoteliers implement an effective dynamic pricing strategy?
A, A-B testing on positioning of on-site elements, social media campaigns and other low-key experimentation can all give insight into behavioural patterns. These patterns differ from property to property, and also in differing vertical markets. However, there are common factors which can be implemented which can have a huge impact right now for almost any size or marketplace in the hospitality industry.
How difficult is it for smaller hoteliers to implement this? What tools are out there to help?
When it comes to distribution, OTAs are a mainstay for most hotels now. What are the key benefits and drawbacks of working with OTAs? A, OTAs provide the hotel will an incredible advertising platform for hotels and exposure to thousands of prospective guests that their marketing budget probably wouldn't [depending on the size of the hotel] be able to achieve. Hotels can manage the percentage of inventory they send to these channels according to what their availability is like at any given time.The obvious drawback to OTAs is the commission they earn.
How can hoteliers ensure they get the most out of metasearch?
A, Taking advantage of as many on-line channels, from blogging and forums through to the more obvious social channels. The more varied and diverse the exposure, the more availability of data for search and metasearch.
Metasearch isn't something that can be forced. Much like the traditional search engines, non-paid organic exposure is a privilege. Exposure in as many organic online channels as possible—whilst retaining a consistency in business details such as email, website address, physical address, business name—will greatly increase the chances of accurate metasearch. Even exposure on channels where the property is seldom or non-active such as Foursquare or Google+ can help.
Direct booking is obviously the most profitable for hotels. What can hotels do to ensure they secure more and more direct bookings?
A, Content is still king for the website. Not only for search engines, who use the content to form their broader opinion and search criteria on this, but also for the general public.Making the website ‘sticky’, i.e. giving the end-user a reason to return or stay on the site will greatly increase the chances of direct bookings.Placement of on-line booking method is also important, as the potential customer needs to ascertain that they can book on-line quickly via the property’s own website.Post-stay communications to reinforce direct bookings play a huge role, especially when the user booked via an OTA. Letting the customer know that booking direct could save time and potentially offer a better deal next time is an often overlooked mechanism.
How important is it for hoteliers to have dedicated mobile sites now? Why?