Every hotel chain and independent property needs to implement sales strategies that work best for their target market and local destination. Ultimately, it is up to the hotel operator or manager to create a customized sales strategy that will drive the most room sales at their individual property, but how do we navigate a world of intertwined sales and distribution?
The hotel distribution landscape is, anyway, a bit complex. And over the past decade, there has been a lot of transformation on this front. One of the most beneficial impacts of expanding distribution technology has been a wealth of channels for hotel inventory. Consequently, hotels can now be highly targeted when it comes to distribution, adjusting pricing and availability in individual channels to yield their room inventory more profitably. On the flip side, hotels can choose a channel-agnostic strategy and rely on a few global-scale partners to distribute inventory. As a result, the way hotels distribute rooms is no longer the same as it once was, particularly during this pandemic.
Hotel distribution channels are the cornerstone of a hotel’s sales and revenue strategy. Sales and distribution go hand in hand – distribution must enable sales to be effective. So, by basic principle, you shouldn’t sell anything that you can’t distribute.
It’s never a good move to put all your inventory in one distribution channel. It would be best if you had a lot of options so when something isn’t working, you can shift your focus.
It stands to reason that the main distribution channels that hotels increasingly rely on outside of its own .com channel, albeit at the brand or property level, are OTAs. Different selling methods will apply to different distribution channels – you certainly would not sell in the same way to a family as you would to a couple. The good news is that there are sales ideas to cover all distribution channels. For example, as one might anticipate, most of the leading OTAs are involved in B2B Leisure distribution. Past experiences have proven that partners that source OTAs tend to have a competitive edge in rates. So how are you engaging your relationship with the OTAs from a sales perspective?
In addition, major bedbanks are reinventing themselves with new partnership programs to stay relevant in the distribution market. Consequently, these new partnerships are transforming the B2B distribution landscape, and I am sure the next year will be a sea of change as new alliances or preferred partnerships are constructed.
There are plenty of ways you can subvert traditional sales offers, simply by taking what already exists and thinking one step beyond it or shifting the ingredients to create a balanced sales & distribution approach. Remember, there’s no right or wrong idea before you’ve seen the results. Getting creative means, you must experiment and take actions you haven’t taken before.
On the other hand, it is vital that as you engage in selling to new customers, you fully understand their sourcing capabilities, and you can differentiate new stream of revenue vs. channel shifting. Take a look at traditional methods and think about how you can step outside of the box. Building a successful sells and distribution strategy means finding the right balance between all the channels you use. How prominently will you a sell your hotel and on what B2B channels – and how much focus will you put on each?
In an increasingly digitized world, savvy distributors with superior APIs connecting suppliers and customers, traditional sales channels are being disintermediated. I believe that this market is no longer just a plug & play sale. More than ever, sales and distribution are intertwining. And with that, we need to start looking at our existing and new customers with a sales & distribution lens.