There is no subsitute for real life experience when it comes to hotel distribution.
Research, surveys and statistics give an indication of what is happening but only those on the ground have a true picture at a granular level.
Enter Jon Siberry, revenue chief of Sarova Hotels for the past six years, with some 'from the coalface' insight into what has changed and where it's going.
First a few numbers - Sarova, four hotels in the UK and seven in Kenya, used to manage its 10 distribution channels manually.
Four years on and the company is selling across more than 35 channels including 19 online travel agents, company website, tour operators and GDSs, using channel management technology provided by RateTiger.
Year-to-date the distribution split is 14% direct to the company's website, about 24% via OTAs, 5% global distribution systems and the remainder of business direct to the hotels by telephone including conference business.
In those few years, OTAs have gotten over their fear of losing personal relationships with hotels thus opening up the potential for automated channel management.
Siberry has also witnessed the rise and rise of Facebook in the short space of time and though personally not a huge user, he recognises its power.
"It's very rapidly becoming a massive source of travel information. Even people who are not big users use it to post things. People are using it for retail research as well as business services. I saw something that said 60% of people research travel on Facebook"
He his also having to regularly contend with customers, who are not only shopping around a lot more (seven different price sources, he says) but also want to barter for a better rate.
They try and play one hotel off another by asking Sarova to beat a competitor's rate they have seen online.
Then there is the vastly reduced booking window and Siberry estimates between 10 and 15% of occupancy is now secured within two to three days of arrival.
A recent guest article on how channel management can help beat the shrinking hotel booking window addresses this very issue.
Finally, there's the massive area of user-generated reviews and Siberry is surprised at the number of hotels not treating it seriously.
"It's the number one priority for hotels to monitor them. We read them all and respond accordingly and take action because this is what travellers are using all the time."
He says increasingly people are also writing reviews referencing other guests' reviews and says it can all become a bit personal with soap opera-style spats between consumers.
At the end of the day, it boils down to managing customer expectations - they have a much stronger idea of what to expect before they reach the front door through the spectrum of rich information available online and that is keeping hoteliers on their toes like never before.