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.
There is no one-size-fits-all advice. Given that channel manager technology and solutions are relatively young, the market is quite fragmented with few global and recognizable players.
For example, some regional players provide a great solution for those hotels within their region. Being able to give your staff access to customer support in your local language may be a reason to consider a regional operator, as well as only needing access to certain regional metasearch players or OTAs.
The options can be dizzying. For a broad inspection of the issue, buy the Tnooz Report: How to Choose a Hotel Channel Manager in the Metasearch Era.
The report highlights a handful of key and easy-to-grasp criteria to keep in mind, such as connectivity capabilities (speed, booking engine integrations, PMS/RMS integrations, etc.), bid management, rate management and compliance, analytics, regional coverage, and -- of course -- costs.
We don't rate channel managers or recommend certain brands. We think it's better to help you grasp how different channel managers stack up against each other in key areas, so that you can rank prospective solution providers on your own.
This unbiased report will help you frame your thinking about what the key criteria are when shopping. It was written by Flo Luigi, of Navesink Advisory Group. Lugli has held executive-level roles with Wyndham Hotel Group, Travelport, WizCom, and Cendant Hospitality, and was recently recognized as one of the most influential women in hospitality technology by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP).
Stay smart and get a broad practical, actionable insights by downloading Tnooz Report: How to Choose a Hotel Channel Manager in the Metasearch Era.