The Right Channel
With burgeoning distribution channels, hotels have to be judicious while picking one that will tick all the boxes for their brandâ€™s needs
By Vinita Bhatia
Choosing the right online channel manager (CM) helps hoteliers convert potential inquiries into actual bookings. But the bewildering number of options afforded to them makes it quite perplexing to make this choice.
There was a time the global distribution system (GDS) was the most popular CM. Later, as OTAs started gaining ground, many hoteliers started selecting these. Some even invested in brand.com to get more business. However, the question that arises is what the optimal CM mix?
Sibasish Mishra, CEO bookingjini presents an interesting perspective. According to him, of the 63% people searching hotels online, only 29% make online reservations. However, the remainder 34% who abstain are comfortable buying other products on digital platforms.
â€śThe perception that every booking comes from an OTA is not correct; it is just 13%. This is as per data from a Google-based survey. Also, GDS is expensive for boutique and independent hotels, most of which do not even have revenue managers,â€ť he pointed out.
In his opinion such hotels can create a direct booking engine of their own rather than opt for OTAs that mostly pull inventory from GDS. And then these OTAs charge a commission for the sale anyway. Usually, most guests search for OTAs due to connectivity. But if they try to book a room on brand.com, chances are they will probably find the tariff to be lower.
DEPEND ON THE EXPERTS
Given that their core competency is hospitality, many standalone hotels get bogged down by CM. In such situations, industry experts suggested that is best to take small steps by keeping things localised. They can also use some custom-fit solutions like bookingjini.comâ€™s Lexical Integrated Syntax Analyzer that does most of the work for them and their customers.
These hotels can also invest an independent central reservation system (CRS), especially if they are on a growth trajectory. This system will help them manage room and inventory from a centralised node. And depending on the algorithms designed they can provide dynamic discount or pricing as well.
â€śThese kinds of CRS will be the future. For instance, an agent can directly login to your website, get a special rate and can sell rooms on your behalf to somebody else. So your hotel is at Surat, and you have an agent in Coimbatore, he can login to your website and take room from you,â€ť Mishra explained its working.
CM has evolved dramatically over the years, and the advent of the digital media has taken it up several notches.
Now, with the mobile web, hotels have to ensure they are more responsive than reactive while connecting and engageingwith customers, to propel conversions. While this means that the underlying principle of service is unchanged, technology has added a lustrous sheen over it. In a bid to be cost-effective, hoteliers have to leverage CM to generate bookings efficiently, while protecting rate parity and price integrity.