The delicate balancing act of room inventory distribution, essential for all hotels to successfully perform, must be even more precisely executed by independent hotels. Always in competition with the chain hotels and their more bountiful resources and greater brand recognition, independent hotels face considerable challenges at every step in their process of finding customers to fill their accommodations.
Independent hotels are charged higher commission rates by online travel agencies (OTA), over chains, and therefore incur greater cost in customer acquisition through in-direct channels. This, combined with the difficulties in gaining customers via direct channels such as a hotel website, showcase the high wire act independent hoteliers are walking. However, the answer for independents seeking to keep pace with the chains lies in striking a balance between all of their distribution channels.
It is vitally important in any business to know your customers; this is especially true for an independent hotel. Valuable resources must be allocated to the proper channels, be they direct or indirect, at the right time. Investigate where each of your guests were inspired to book their hotel stays and concentrate efforts on the best yielding channels.
Expand Your Horizons
Independent hotel distribution must be spread across a wider array of in-direct channels. This includes smaller, lesser known online travel agencies, which may be more willing to negotiate and deliver hotel bookings at a lower cost to the hotel. Never be too dependent on any single OTA.
Greater Focus At Home
It is a well established fact that the majority of hotel guests prefer to book their stays directly with the hotel, either over the phone or online via the hotel’s website. It is absolutely necessary for any independent hotel to have a simple and easy to use Internet booking engine. Hotel websites should be designed to do one thing only, steer the potential guest down the virtual pathway, that ends with them becoming directly booking customers. However, never forget that the hotel’s website is just one channel bringing in guests, among many in the hotel room distribution funnel.
Finally, creating a clearly planned and executed strategy is fundamental to the profitability of independent hotels. Don’t lose sight of the fact that OTA’s are as much reliant upon their revenue stream coming from independents as the hotels are for bookings from OTA’s. OTA’s leverage independent hotels into their greatest revenue source. Remember, if the rates are not up to the hotel’s expectations, independent hoteliers do not have to agree with them and sign away control of their market.
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