As technology changes, distribution strategies and tools can sometimes be slow to react. Here’s what distribution strategies hoteliers think are outdated and how they would change them.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Hotel News Now asked hoteliers: “What strategies or ways of thinking about booking and distribution do you think are outdated and how would you change them?”
Leslee Torres, SVP of digital, loyalty and partnerships, RLH Corporation:
“The concept of pushing guests to do what is less efficient for them (in reference to booking direct) is an antiquated idea. It is something we as an industry need to recognize—the value proposition that is created for guests through (OTAs) and Google, and whatever the case may be.
“Hotels really need to evaluate the benefits that they get from their loyalty program by comparison to the cost of that loyalty program to them. … In most systems, they will find that mix is not positive. That’s another area where we believe we are on the cutting edge of something (others in the industry) will realize going forward.”
Robert McDowell, chief commercial officer, Choice Hotels International:
“In the industry as well as at Choice, we’ve seen the growth in digital platforms and decline in some other channels, such as traditional travel agencies, over time. We recognize there are still customers who book through all of these channels. The way we look at it, our job is to ensure that Choice and our brands are really where the consumer wants to be, so we don’t necessarily look at moving out of other channels. But we are always looking at optimizing our guest mix and staying ahead of the consumer behavior shifts, and that’s why we talk about things like Book on Google because (that’s a way) we ensure we are at the forefront of new emerging channels while continuing to maximize the distribution channels across the entire distribution landscape.”
David Kong, president & CEO, Best Western Hotels & Resorts:
“(Connections with OTAs) pose a problem called latency. Basically, if you think about our connection with Expedia for example, it’s through (a platform that can’t keep up with the volume of traffic from Expedia). There’s always a lag between the time they get the inventory and rates from us, how they serve it up to the guest (when they) book, and when that reservation comes back to us. It could be a few minutes delayed; it could be a few seconds delayed. But imagine it on a very big scale. That latency causes problems because you could have a double booking as a result of that, and you can have all kinds of problems because of that. Latency is probably one of the biggest challenges that we face going forward as well. So it’s not just connectivity; it’s the latency of that connectivity.”
Doug Kennedy, founder and president, Kennedy Training Network:
“(It’s) outdated to think that the voice customer is different than the online customer. (That way of thinking) is so wrong and yet so prevalent. Another is to spend so little attention to such an important channel as voice, compared to spending so much time on third-party.”
Peter Hopgood, VP of sales and marketing, International Hospitality Enterprises:
“Just having a generic experience, whether it’s online or over the phone, is definitely obsolete and the way to kill your business. We abuse the term ‘personalized experience’ so much, yet we forget about it. … Don’t do just the basics of human interaction. That consumer is not going to feel taken care of and will feel like another number.”