Managed guest relationships, integrated technology systems, and improved data collection and security are the three most critical needs of hoteliers when it comes to distribution and online marketing. That is the finding of a whitepaper SiteMinder recently produced in partnership with Revinate and Dr Peter O’Connor – and it begs the question: what support is available for today’s hoteliers to meet these needs?
For those of us within the hotel technology space, it seems obvious. I recently wrote a piece as such, asking myself why some hoteliers continue to bemoan OTAs and yet do curious things like display lower room rates on third-party channels, and ignore the free opportunities provided by the world’s largest travel sites – Google and TripAdvisor – to maintain their direct relationships with guests.
But how many of our customers became hoteliers so they could be masters of distribution and online marketing? I am willing to bet there are few, if any. It is precisely our job as technologists to be the experts in these fields for them.
The Envisioning the Future of Hotel Distribution and Online Marketing whitepaper is based on research conducted in late 2015 with hotelier delegates of World Travel Market London, who said they saw overcoming the challenges of a fast-paced online environment, advancing technology and ever-increasing consolidation within the OTA space as priority.
Is this a huge surprise for us? Perhaps not, but let’s take a minute to understand why. With all the continually-shifting booking trends we are witnessing, the emergence of new and exciting technological solutions, and the plethora of headlines on acquisitions and mergers by the ‘OTA duopoly’ and others, it is becoming increasingly difficult for any player within the hospitality landscape to always lead the charge – let alone predict what’s coming next. What chance does the hotelier have, while they also make sure the beds have been made on time and their amenities are kept clean?
As Dr O’Connor – current academic director of information systems at Institute de Management Hotelier International, part of ESSEC Business School in France – rightly points out: “Most people involved in hotel distribution and online marketing would agree that the whole area is in turmoil right now, with both technology and consumer expectations evolving extremely rapidly. At the same time, competition in the online environment continues to become more intense, with the result that hotels need to pay much more attention to how and where they are being sold, as well as invest in the right systems and expertise to ensure they can compete effectively in this highly turbulent environment.”
Dr O’Connor’s words reflect the key challenges and concerns that hotelier participants nominated in relation to distribution and online marketing – now and over the next three years. Topping the list was the guest experience, with hoteliers admitting they invest too much of their already-limited time and resources into driving one-off transient bookings which lead to high costs of guest acquisition.