Whether it is manually updating your room availability on Meta tourism engines, answering countless emails to potential customers looking to book a room with you or the issue of overbooking. Channel management in hospitality brings a spate of challenges. However, tackling these very areas well and on a daily basis is necessary for hotels to stay ahead in the competition.
With the unstoppable advancement in technology, Revenue Managers have a great opportunity to not only manage many of these pertinent domains but also save costs and generate more revenue.
In the past also, we have discussed the common challenges in Channel Management. In this article, we will further outline some uncommon and mostly ignored aspects pertaining to channel management in the hotel industry. These areas may not affect your distribution directly, but certainly, have an impact on your channel management in an indirect way.
If these are taken care of, inventory distribution will be a smoother task and effective also.
Rate parity is a big difficult area in hospitality and requires maintaining consistency of rates across different distribution channels, like the brand website, OTAs, etc. Hotels often claim the ‘best rate guarantee’ on their website to make their customers feel confident that they do not need to look for a better rate elsewhere.
However, the problem here is that no website can claim to offer the lowest possible rate, irrespective of how many hotels advertise ‘best rate guarantee’ on their own websites. The customers are certain to find another website with a better rate. This breed frustration and lack of satisfaction and confidence about hotel among customers.
A solution to this problem would be to win the customers’ confidence by maintaining rate parity to meet the rate expectations of different customer segments and those reaching to you after doing their rate comparison on different platforms. Ensuring this would preserve rate integrity, ensure transparency and tame price discrimination. Guaranteeing rate stability and accuracy require an efficient and cost-effective management of different distribution channels to ensure high volume bookings every night. That is when a comprehensive Rate Parity tool and an advance Online Channel Distribution tool comes handy.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Online Reputation Management (ORM)
Customer relationship management (CRM) is another very important aspect of the hospitality industry, hence needs utmost attention. Hotels of today primarily handle CRM online and hence coincides with the term Online Reputation Management.
When it comes to online reputation, every wise mind would swear by the crucial role of social media. The sites used in electronic distribution with respect to social media work in tandem, as they allow the travel community to interact and build upon each other’s thoughts, especially in terms of reviews.
This process has majorly four main stages. The first stage is the stage of absolute non-acceptance from the customer. The second stage is the indifference/consideration stage, wherein a customer is doubtful of the level of service satisfaction from a hotel. The third stage is the ‘delight’ stage. Here, the customer is completely satisfied with your services. The fourth stage is when customers become your advocates and actively brings business to you by way of promotion and referrals. ORM aims at bringing the customers from the first stage to the fourth stage.
ORM can help hotels keep their guests in the loop with important information like inventory, rates, and discounts regularly. Bad channel management equals bad customer relationship management, which is why a solid information system that aids effective channel management is one of the potential solutions to the key challenges in electronic distribution challenge management. Some other factors that influence your CRM strategy are:
- The way a hotel communicates with its website visitors
- The method of procuring customer information and using it to develop strategies
- The post-stay behaviour of the customers who choose to write reviews on meta-tourism sites
As long as your hotel manager takes care of the above factors, you can win your visitor’ trust in your property.
Any deficit of service in any of the distribution channels is reflected in the reviews written by consumers. Your hotel’s serving capabilities are hence open to the world at just a click. Negative reviews often become an obstruction to the new visitor’s buying decision. To deal with this challenge, hotels need to have a strong mechanism to monitor feedback from different booking channels and analyze the concerned channel’s performance therefrom.
We can see that all of the above-listed problems happen to be quite complex and yet are faced by nearly every hotel, especially the growing ones. The good news is, however, a simple solution to these problems exists.
How a Channel Manager can aid your Channel Management
A channel manager is an online tool by which you can integrate information from all of your distribution management and use it for different purposes – monitoring channel performance over time, adding or deleting channels, changing prices across channels, you name it! Take a look at some of its tremendous benefits that you can garner.
Boost online bookings
A Skift report states an increase of 7% in online bookings, and the same is only going to increase now. A channel manager will enable you to focus on your choice of channel to funnel sales from.
A Channel Manager helps you update rates and room availability across various channels with just a few clicks, so you can accept more bookings faster. You can also have different rates on different channels in accordance with the dominant market segment in each of your channels to drive incremental revenue.
Without a channel manager, you are forced to divide your inventory among channels and invite the risk of double-bookings or lower booking volume. Combined inventory and automated updates of room in real time mean guests can only ever book a room that is actually available.
Improve brand recognition
Channel Managers help you integrate your data with many popular OTAs, which helps your property get listed in as many places as possible, and gain popularity.
Boost direct bookings
OTAs may make the bulk of your selling channel, but a channel manager will help you offer your audience alternatives such as your own website, which will eliminate commissions from your bookings going to the concerned OTA for each transaction.
Remove manual processes
Having a channel manager means no manual updating on Meta tourism websites or answering countless queries of guests. This way, you keep both your staff and your guests completely informed about the crucial information on your bookings and availability.
Today, we have the technology to be able to control the most dynamic area of a hotel’s operations, channel management, at our fingertips. It would be, hence, unwise not to leverage these tools to tap the unexplored revenue-maximising and cost-saving potential of your hotel.