Online Hotel Distribution Consulting

With the typical US traveler now searching 22+ websites over 10+ sessions, hotel distribution has become a layered collection of business models, intermediaries, and social networks that complicate a hotel’s ability to determine influence and attribution for a specific booking.

Hotels covet their direct booking capability, but the reality is that they are unable to attract and convert sufficient site traffic to fill their rooms without the help of intermediaries. Even major hotel brands face the reality of the cross-brand shopping convenience provided by the major online travel agencies.

RockCheetah - Hotel Distribution - Cable Car

Robert Cole’s background has afforded him the opportunity to work with a wide variety of intermediaries and channels to forge a 360-degree perspective. His experience includes working on the supplier side with both luxury and economy hotel brands. He has also managed the hotel product and lodging portfolio for the largest GDS, consulted with the first meta-search website and headed product contracting for North America’s largest tour operator. He has also overseen reservations for a large independent hotel representation group and

Optimizing hotel distribution is a function of segmented channel demand patterns, quantifying cost-volume-profit scenarios, understanding the hotel’s differentiated positioning within its extended competitive set and ultimately, demonstrating pricing discipline.

Many hotels encounter trouble trying to cleverly play distribution channel roulette at a tactical level without a solid distribution strategy. Greater consumer sophistication and improved price transparency require hotel pricing to logically reflect a rational value proposition – regardless if the hotel is sold on a standalone, packaged, opaque, flash sale or corporate or group basis.

With consumers bouncing between social networks, OTAs and meta-search sites, hotels require highly granular campaign tracking and analytics support to understand how the various properties and channels directly and indirectly influence the booking process. This becomes even more important when multiple devices and offline channels are taken into consideration. Tracking sessions and booking conversion is essential, but to better account for the degree of attribution deserved by each site/channel, tracking a variety of other criteria is now required.

The channel explosion has also complicated content management. As OTAs and meta-search sites capture significantly more traffic than hotel brands or properties, providing identical descriptive information in order to present a uniform image of the hotel becomes problematic. From a search perspective, ties are normally broken in favor of the higher traffic site, with the smaller sites penalized for posting duplicate content. Images and videos can suffer a similar fate.

Maintaining distributed, unique descriptive content When localized into various different languages and customized to avoid duplicate content requires a robust content management system and an efficient process to manage updates and sustain synchronization.

Hotel distribution and revenue management practices must also be highly aligned. Pricing discipline must be maintained across channels with rules governing gating at specific trigger points. Competitive set monitoring must also consider distribution channels in consideration of intentional or unintentional rate parity anomalies.

All channels are not created equal – it is not simply a margin issue. Value creation and competitive differentiation may be more challenging to communicate through some channels than others. This reality must be reconciled with rate parity strategy and conversion objectives.

Featured Services

Dynamic Packaging

  • Platform Development
  • Price Triggers
  • Rules Management

Global Distribution Systems (GDS)

  • Content Management
  • Competitive Set Analytics
  • Point of Sale Advertising

Internet Booking Engines (IBE)

  • Conversion
  • Design
  • Integration

Meta-search Sites

  • Managing Updates
  • PPC Bidding
  • ROI Evaluation

Online Travel Agencies (OTA)

  • Agency v. Merchant Model
  • Standalone, Package & Opaque Products
  • Yield Management

Private & Flash Sales

  • Controls & Gates
  • Participation Criteria
  • True ROI
About Robert Cole

Robert Cole is the founder of RockCheetah, a hotel marketing strategy and travel technology consulting practice. He also authors the Views from a Corner Suite Blog and publishes the Travel Quote of the Day. Robert speaks regularly at major travel industry conferences, authors articles for leading travel industry publications, advises travel-related startups and the equity investment community. He is an evangelist for the global travel industry.