Hotel distribution continues to be one of the more complex ecosystems within travel.
Much of that complexity can be attributed to the industry’s fragmented ownership and management structure which, among other things, has resulted in a lack of meaningful investment in technology and innovation.
In a related trend, allocating inventory across channel — and setting prices across channel — is getting more complex.
In the past year, there’s been a growing volume of direct referrals through new instant booking tools on metasearch channels, such as Google, TripAdvisor, and Trivago. The decision about how to split inventory for “direct” channels versus online travel agencies (OTAs) isn’t easy.
To cope, one of the tools that hotels may need is a channel manager, which integrates into their PMS (property management system) to set real-time rates and availability.
If you’re currently participating in a number of OTAs and mobile apps like Hotel Tonight through various extranets, a channel manager may help you automate the myriad manual processes associated with that endeavor.
In our view, if you can answer yes to the following questions, then you should seriously consider engaging the services of a channel manager solution provider.
- You have decided not to affiliate with a brand hotel chain, soft brand, or representation firm (based upon some of the attributes mentioned above).
- You are already participating with one or more OTAs and managing your rates/inventory through an extranet.
- You have developed your own website with a booking capability. You also have the ability to develop deep links to specific landing pages for metasearch click-throughs.
- You have an online marketing budget to drive customers to your own website.