Why Developing Your Distribution Strategy Matters for your Hotel

What's happening to your conversion rate?Hey, hotel folks. Do you hate your channel “partners?” Do you feel like they “force” you to sign agreements you don’t want to?

If so, you’re not alone.

And, that’s a shame.

Because most channel partners (OTA’s, traditional travel agents, group and meeting planners, etc.) are actually good folks trying to help place business in your hotel.

No, seriously.

Now, it’s not to say that every market manager from every OTA treats every hotel like they treat their best friends. But, usually, these folks’ success depends upon having enough inventory in their market to meet a wide array of guest needs.

And that need represents your opportunity to negotiate favorable terms. The challenge, of course, is that many hotels lack a cohesive distribution strategy. Instead of understanding their best customers and taking the steps to diversify the sources of those best customers — in particular, placing an emphasis on those guests delivered via direct channels — hotels often sign myriad agreements and pay the most attention to the channels delivering the most business. Some channel partners recognize this dependence and push for terms that both increase their profit (and, to be fair, what business wouldn’t?), while simultaneously increasing their hotel partners’ dependence on the channel.

So don’t do that.

Of course, it’s easier said than done. But there are ways to break the cycle. And that’s the point of my latest Travel Tuesday post over on Tim Peter Thinks: “How to Take Charge of Your Distribution Strategy.” Give it a read if get a minute.

If you need help developing your hotel’s distribution strategy (or some other part of your digital marketing), give me a call at 201-305-0055.

And if you’re interested in learning more about travel marketing and where it’s going—as well as lessons that apply to a host of other industries—register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” You can get your free copy of the report here.

Finally, you might also enjoy some of our past coverage of these changes in the marketplace, including:

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Booking.com just announced something amazing

The growth of mobile So, I don’t normally cover press releases, but this one’s worth mentioning:Priceline subsidiary Booking.com reported late last week that their mobile booking revenue tripled last year. Which would be impressive, until you consider that it tripled to $3 billion from $1 billion in 2011. That’s billion. With a “b.”

Um… wow.

I gave a talk this morning to a group of travel and hospitality companies about how big mobile’s going to be. And I referenced items like the growth of the millennial market, how to handle the iOS/Android debate, and all that jazz. But, by any standard, those are some impressive results. I’m thinking there might be something to this mobile web business after all.

Interested in more? Sign up for our free newsletter and get more information on how to build your social, local, mobile marketing strategy. And, if you’ve got a minute, you might enjoy some past coverage of mobile, including:

Airlines force OTA’s out of Google Flight Search? Anti-competitive, much?

Something remarkable happened at PhoCusWright a couple of weeks ago. According to Travel Weekly,

“When Google’s vice president of travel, Jeremy Wertheimer, stepped on stage at the PhoCusWright conference here two weeks ago, he surprised many in the audience with his explanation as to why Google’s Flight Search results do not include links to online travel agencies.

If they did, Wertheimer said, the airlines would not participate.

“The airlines said, ‘We will not give you content if you provide booking links to OTAs,’” Wertheimer told the audience.”

I’ve written before about FairSearch and what it means for most businesses. And, while I’m not a huge fan of government oversight of individual businesses, nor, frankly, a huge fan of some OTA business practices, this level of coordination among the airlines and Google reeks of anticompetitive behavior. Actually, it just plain reeks, period.

While Google faces increasing competition for search from apps and mobile tools like Siri (see the Roger McNamee video), for better or worse, Google still represents the guide to the Internet for many people. And a guide that deliberately excludes some content providers due to competitive pressure from other content providers is no guide at all. As more details emerge around deals such as these, Google risks not only the wrath of regulators, but also diminished trust from consumers and businesses.

In other words, whether it’s antitrust or declining trust, Google and the airlines are playing a losing game. I’d expect to see FairSearch and others challenge this move in the very near term and the repercussions to continue for some time to come.