No hotel is an island, especially in distribution, and once you accept that fact then the wisest approach to take is to then find the right distribution channel which can give you the most value.
That was the general consensus of hoteliers speaking at WIT Hospitality. Puneet Mahindroo, corporate director of revenue management, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, used the analogy of Apple to illustrate that we live in a world of collaboration and partnerships.
“An Apple product has parts made by Samsung, bits made in Taiwan and China, that’s the kind of world we live in, so hotels have to find partnerships and collaborators that make the most sense for us.”
Of course, he said hotels have to work on their direct distribution strategy but he said a key question remains unanswered, what’s the true cost of distribution channel by channel. “No one has really done the math and we at Four Seasons are attempting to answer that.”
Only with such clarity can hotels then figure out what’s the most effective digital strategy.
He said direct distribution sounds easy but “can be a nightmare” when you come up against the power of certain distributors. “That doesn’t mean we don’t try, just that it’s a challenge.”
This is why Carmen Lam, vice president, sales & marketing, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, said hoteliers needed to reduce their dependence on OTAs and needed to pursue a “Tilt” strategy – from thinking of product to thinking about customers.
She said it wasn’t about cutting out OTAs but rather pursue a strategy based on owning the customer journey and experience.