Top 10 not-to-be-missed stories to help shape your distribution strategy in 2013

Direct or indirect? Big bad OTAs or partners worth nurturing? It may not seem as shiny and fun as stories about savvy social media or cutting edge marketing campaigns, but getting your distribution strategy right is essential or you could soon be out of business.

Take a look below at a selection of some of the most interesting and most-read distributions stories to appear on EyeforTravel.com over the past few months.

1. 10 Tips to sharpen your hotel distribution strategy in 2013

Everybody loves a few good tips and in this article Ritesh Gupta talks to Audrey Murante, senior director, eBusiness Development, Carlson Hotels, Americas, Lincoln Merrihew, managing director of Automotive and Travel at Compete and Chris Murdock, manager – distribution, Fairmont Raffles Hotels International, Global Reservation Centre to come up with ten useful tips. From not being all things to all men to watching out for disruptive players like RoomKey and continuing to innovate, you’ll find plenty in here to think about.  

2. How meta-search became mainstream and why it’s becoming mega important

Getting industry executives to share their insights is something we are always looking out for. And in this recent guest column by Hugo Burge, chief executive and investor in the Momondo Group, we hear a bit of meta-search history, why the channel is growing in importance and how it is changing. We also are left pondering some of the opportunities and challenges of this rapidly growing industry.

3. If you can’t beat them join them: tips for hotels in the OTA-direct battle

Admittedly there is no escaping the need for third-party distribution channels, but hotels should be using them to their best advantage. In this exclusive interview, EyeforTravel.com finds out how the Onyx Hospitality Group is managing the challenges and opportunities, which from mobile are “tremendous”. That’s according to Chetan Patel, the company’s vice president, strategic marketing and e-commerce who points out what hotels need to be alert to in this fast-moving environment.

4. Direct versus indirect: It doesn’t have to be a one-size-fits all

The headline says it all. In this exclusive interview, Lawrence Fong, manager eBusiness, Cathay Pacific Airways, talks about the need for more differentiated IT systems to be developed to cater for the different content, features and fares required by different users. Cathay, for example, has separate portals for business travellers and retail agents, in addition to having a website for general consumers.  

5. The great direct versus indirect debate: a shifting battleground

Hotels, car rental companies, airlines – indeed all travel suppliers are trying to better understand the economics of their indirect distribution initiatives. Here EyeforTravel.com’s Ritesh Gupta talks for the need for sound understanding of how to work the channel cost and profitability because this impacts the planning and the intention of being in control over distribution. Other than control, one needs to simplify rate distribution management, and work out the best channel mix to optimise yields. Insights come from Pascal Moyen, director digital and brand marketing international, Hertz.

6. Maximising booking in a multichannel environment requires serious knowhow

It isn’t possible to invest time in every available channel, so how should distribution managers allocate their time? In this exclusive article we spoke to Heiko Siebert, vice president distribution, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts who is responsible for desktop and mobile websites as well as coordinating e-commerce projects and keeping up relationships with global online travel agencies.

7. A leaf out of Accor’s book: how to drive direct bookings to €2 billion

In May, the French hotel group Accor said it was aggressively aiming to increase its digital turnover by 45% within the next three years. It is also pushing for two-thirds of sales to come from the direct channel. EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta spoke to Rémy Merckx, VP e-commerce sales and distribution, Accor about how it is realizing the vision of making its online reservation website, Accorhotels.com, the most significant contributor to its digital turnover.

8. From booking to bidding: Barteo brings a new twist to travel distribution

Every now and then an interesting newcomer turns up. This is one of them. Here we talk to the two founders of Barteo.com, which allows users to negotiate on the price of the room directly with the hotel and in real time, before making an actual booking. Both formerly employed by fastbooking.com they recognised how sensitive the relationship is between the hotels and other travel intermediaries. Chief executive Thomas Hiley is clear that they don’t want to compete on the direct channel nor take market share from booking.com or others. Instead they are focusing on generating new reservations for hotels, “as this is the future of distribution.”

9. Rallying call for railways: gearing up for a new era in rail distribution

Although still a way to go, this article explores the changing face of rail distribution and how booking a train journey may soon be possible on anything from an online travel agency site to a travel meta-search engine, as a corporate online booking tool for business trips or even on an airline’s website. EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta speaks to SilverRail Technologies about getting the technology right and a need for standards.

10. Direct is still best: two hotels on what to avoid in online distribution

While the direct/indirect debate rages on, if you want to know how not to reduce their yield from online distribution channels in Asia, who better to ask than two senior hotel executives. Ritesh Gupta hears about two potentially disruptive elements for hotels from Ricky Ang, VP sales and marketing at the Hotel Equatorial Group in Kuala Lumpur. Then Chetan Patel, VP - strategic marketing and e-commerce at Onyx Hospitality Group, talks about the move of OTAs into the wholesale business. 

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