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Back to the Future: 5 signs your online distribution strategy is stuck in 1985

Are you preparing your hotel for the future, or is your approach to technology stuck in 1985? Ladies and gentlemen, we are past October 21, 2015 and have officially arrived in the future.

By now, Marty McFly and Doc Brown have landed their flying DeLorean and are getting a bite to eat at Cafe 80’s.

But while futuristic marvels like the hoverboard and flying cars have come into existence, Back to the Future failed to predict only one of the greatest technological advancements in history… the Internet.

Since its creation, the Internet has continued to transform almost every aspect of our lives.

The question is: Are you changing with it and preparing your hotel for the future, or is your approach to technology stuck in 1985?

Here are five signs that you desperately need to get your hotel’s online distribution back to the future:

1. You rely heavily on traditional booking channels

The telephone, walk-ins, that ad in the local paper, the occasional email enquiry that you often don’t open or respond to in time. If these are the only channels your hotel is relying on, you need to get online and contact any one of these channels.

Now, you might say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but research tells us it will be broke in the not-too-distant future. According to the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, traditional channels will continue to see an inevitable decline as consumers increasingly switch to online bookings and the many benefits they offer.

In fact, according to the recent Skift-SiteMinder report, we’ve already seen an 8% drop in telephone reservations, coinciding with a 7% increase in hotel website bookings, and the research suggests that shift is only going to continue. If you’re not selling your hotel rooms online, you’re going to miss out in the future.

Ah, that’s right – we’re already there.

Please contact any one of these channels.

2. You don’t have an Internet booking engine

An Internet booking engine, integrated with your hotel’s website, can be one of your most effective channels with a lower cost of acquisition than your average online travel agent (OTA). You might be asking, “Do I really need both a direct booking engine and an OTA?”, and the answer is yes.

Here’s why.

You may have heard of the billboard effect. If not, it simply means guests will often search for a hotel’s direct website after finding that same hotel on an OTA. Why do customers do this? The Skift-SiteMinder report suggests the primary reason is that guests are looking for a better deal.

If your property is already on a couple of OTAs, it’s well worth investing the time and effort into integrating a direct booking channel, like SiteMinder’s TheBookingButton, with your website. By utilising a direct booking engine, and being competitive with the OTAs, your direct channel could begin to generate your most profitable bookings.

3. You manually manage your online booking channels

Maybe you are connected to some OTAs, and you might even have your own direct booking engine, but you’re managing these channels manually. No doubt this is an arduous task and one you would really prefer not to have to do anymore, so you can spend more time on your guests.

The good news is there is a solution. The Channel Manager by SiteMinder offers seamless integrations to more than 250 of the world’s top booking websites. And, it comes with a 14-day free trial including setup, training and connection to your existing channels so you can try before you buy.

Automating your channel management can save you time, and make your hotel more profitable by allowing you to expand your global reach through online distribution.

4. Nobody ‘likes’ you

Guests may love your hotel, but if you’re not promoting your accommodation on social media, you’re not giving your hotel the chance to be ‘liked’. It’s worth considering that only last month, Facebook had one billion users logged in at once. And it’s not just the volume of people that makes social media valuable. People look to their ‘friends’ for advice and share experiences, especially when it comes to travel. It’s for this reason that SiteMinder’s TheBookingButton can easily be integrated with your social media pages, making you very likeable indeed (#winning). You can learn more about maximising your social media exposure here.

5. You’re a ‘no star’ hotel

It is no secret that the rise of review websites, like TripAdvisor (which had 65 million unique visitors last year), has had a huge effect on the travel industry. Today, more than 90% of consumers read online reviews and, according to research conducted by brightlocal.com, “the star rating is the number one factor used by consumers to judge a business”.

TripAdvisor is a great place to start, and it’s quite possible that some of your guests have already reviewed you there. By taking control of your TripAdvisor business listing, you’ll be able to better promote your property on this popular website. But that’s just the beginning.

Earlier this year, TripAdvisor launched TripConnect instant booking (see 10 things you need to know about TripConnect instant booking), allowing guests to book accommodation directly on the TripAdvisor website. And, TripConnect instant booking connects seamlessly to The Channel Manager by SiteMinder, so you don’t need to feel stressed about managing another channel. Refer to point 3.

The Internet does move fast, but catering for today’s (future) traveller doesn’t have to be a daunting or complex task. There’s a world of opportunity knocking on your hotel’s doorstep and it starts with using a cloud platform, to make sure you’re using the latest technology, all the time.

About Rosie Clarke

Rosie Clarke
Rosie Clarke is the editor of Resort News and Accom Management Guide as well at their digital home, accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions.

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