What a Ride: A Day in the Life of Hotel Rate Codes

Do you really know what your hotel’s rate code has to go through to reach its end destination? Unless you specialize in distribution, most of us only know what happens with a rate code in PMS and when it comes back to us on a reservation. But it has an entire secret life cycle when it is sent out to the online booking channels.

Sure the rate is created in PMS, and values are defined – maybe even by a revenue management system. But how does it land in the hands of Booking.com or the travel agent on high street? It’s a common saying that distribution is complex, so let’s break it down and liken it to driving on a superhighway. If we identify the potential potholes and wrong exits, then we can avoid them all together!

The Journey

The first thing that happens is the rate exits the PMS and enters the rate code, eight-lane superhighway. This highway, like the one we drive on, has countless destinations and unlimited ways to reach them. When we travel in our cars to another country, we sometimes have to make modifications to our vehicles or adjust our traveling speeds. Some countries require toll stickers, others have guidelines on exhaust levels, and some roads even have vehicle weight or type restrictions. Similarly, there are various rules of rate code distribution.

Global distribution systems require the codes be only three digits, so the rates must pass through the interface or ‘border control’ and be changed before proceeding. Most online travel agencies don’t work with child rate values, so at this border control, those values are dropped. For the hotels’ own website, the functionality is based on the design of the booking engine, so each booking engine has rules unique to itself.

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