Ask the Hotel Heroes: "Full control of inventory and parity is key to maximizing performance."

Each month, the Hotel Heroes - our panel of trusted hospitality industry experts - answer questions from hoteliers around the world about anything, from hotel marketing to revenue management and distribution.

In July, hoteliers asked the Heroes about online distribution, data management, leaking rates and more. Read on to find out what they've said!

Want Hotel Heroes to answer your question? Submit it here and we'll feature it in the next month's edition of Ask The Hotel Heroes.

Is it more efficient to manage our OTAs manually and create direct booking offers through email marketing, and social media, or use a channel manager for all our online distribution?

Answered by Hotel Hero Ludovic Cacciapaglia, Assistant Vice President Distribution at Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts:

Getting full control of inventory and parity across your online channels is key to maximizing performance.

You will need to ensure parity across multiple channels and offer the best price to all your key platforms. I strongly suggest using a channel manager to distribute inventory to your online partners. Ideally, you'd want to use a system that is able to be directly connected to your hotel's property management system (PMS).

Offering instant online booking for your direct channel is equally as important for building a database of consumers who you can target with personalized offers and promotions for their future stays. Make sure that you select the right tool for customization - it has to have robust connectivity with OTAs and accommodate some basic requirements, such as managing different rate plans and inventory types.

Answered by Hotel Hero Inderpreet Banga, Vice President, Channel & Distribution Strategy at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts:

Rate and inventory parity is a must! I advise you do it through your channel manager or CRS. It will reduce the time that your team spends on manual monitoring, and will allow them to focus more on other tasks.

Find vendors who can assist your team with targeting customers with specific offers on your direct channels, such as email campaigns and social media. Make your offers specific to your hotel so that they can't be easily shopped by the OTAs.

Where should hotels without good data management tools start if they want to implement an effective revenue management strategy?

Answered by Hotel Hero Rob Paterson, CEO at Best Western GB:

The first step is to ascertain what data you do have and whether it is reliable. It may only be the data from reservations, but that will give you a strong start! For example, it can show you if you already have more business on the books in comparison to last year. That is the core basis for a basic additive forecast.

Establish a controlled booking process for all reservation channels so that you can build accurate data segmentations. It will help you understand the data that you have and better understand your customers. Get the data capturing basics right, and then build new data sources into it, such as search and CRM.

What are the key factors to be considered when building a healthy revenue management strategy?

Answered by Hotel Hero Rob Paterson, CEO at Best Western GB:

The first step is building a controlled booking process to ensure that the data you're capturing online is accurate. The next step is understanding the market you are operating in and your position in it. STR can be a great start for your research into markets, but public pricing can also be an easy way for you to learn. With a solid foundation of data capture processes and market knowledge, you can begin to forecast and price with confidence.

How can I identify partners who undercut my rates?

Answered by Hotel Hero Nicolas Durand, Senior Director of Global Distribution at Jumeirah Group / Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts:

In order to identify partners who undercut your rates, you need to do test bookings. Currently, you have different technology partners that can help you manage this in an automated manner (RateGain, Fornova or OTA Insight). They automatically shop metasearch platforms such as Google, Trivago and TripAdvisor and can do test bookings on your behalf. I would not recommend doing it manually - it can be labour-intensive and costly.

Once you receive test booking results, identify these bookings in your PMS to see which partners are not respecting their contracts. You need to ensure that your wholesale contracts have a specific clause that allows these rates to be only bookable as part of a package! Otherwise, you will not be able to take action against them.

What steps can I take to prevent rate leakage?

Answered by Hotel Hero Nicolas Durand, Senior Director of Global Distribution at Jumeirah Group / Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts:

Use the results you collected from your test bookings to have a discussion with the offending partners. You can leverage the information that you have in your hands to set rules with these partners. For example, most wholesalers can limit their distribution circles to avoid such rate leakages. But unless you specifically ask them to do so, they will continue distributing these rates to their entire network. You need to ensure that your wholesale rates are distributed only to those distributors who will sell your rates packaged!

If the partner continues to exhibit bad practices, you may have to stop sales or even terminate contracts.

Submit your question for the Hotel Heroes panel and see it featured in the next month's edition of Ask the Hotel Heroes.

About The Author

Alisa is Triptease's brand guardian. She speaks four languages and uses them to interview thought leaders and write articles for the industry.

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