Friday, May 20, 2011

Road to Effective Channel Management - Part 2: Know Your Artillery

We looked at today’s economics and selling requirements in Road to Effective Channel Management Part 1. We also saw the importance of customer segregation and the need to offer right product to the right people through the right channel. Now we move forward to look at various other parameters and tools that would help you manage online distribution with ease and efficiency.

Own website and Booking engine

Your own website will give guests the chance to discover more about the hotel directly from you and not third parties. The website should be user-friendly with clear descriptions, photos, guest reviews and directions to the hotel.
Integrate a booking engine and you can begin capturing more direct bookings to avoid commission charges from Online Travel Agents (OTAs).

If you want your property to build its own brand and stand out from the rest, you may want to invest in search engines through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to allow travellers to find you easier.

If you implement web analytics you will be able to assess where your visits are coming from – but be aware that it may take up to a year before you begin seeing consistent trends.

Online partners and GDS

Effective channel management is about managing multiple channels and optimising the bookings and revenue you can achieve from these. The days of putting all your eggs in one basket are well and truly gone.
You need to remain competitive and the easiest way is by distributing inventory to multiple sales channels.

Begin by identifying a few essential online channels where you would like to get bookings. You may feel you need to be on the popular OTAs like Expedia, booking.com, lastminute.com, or on more local websites or specialist boutique channels.

When choosing the channels you must keep your proposition in mind; why sell an upmarket room on a budget website? Once you have identified your first channels you have made your first step to successful channel management.

Research social and digital marketing

There’s no escaping the digital revolution and with this comes a multitude of websites, social networks and interactive channels that should be considered in the hotel’s long-term strategy.
You need to identify prospects on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or more specific channels; be it wedding and honeymoon or relocation websites.

By assessing the sales potential here you can also assess your hotels reputation through online reviews and at this stage begin responding positively to guests’ feedback.

Price shopping

Proposition is the name of the game and price is the leading element of its value.
You need to know your competitors and their rates to help you position your rates accordingly.

Hoteliers who observe and benchmark competitor rates are more likely to set the right rates for the market and therefore secure those additional bookings. It is important you do not out price your hotel either too low or too high then the market value.

By constantly monitoring rates both for immediate bookings and in the future you can ensure that you have a highly visible proposition to secure more advanced bookings. 

Price shopping data allows you to respond more readily and adapt to market conditions. Today rates are dynamic and not linear, by keeping an eye on competitor rates will keep you in the game.

Check out Road to Effective Channel Management Part 3.
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