Better online distribution with quick thinking and fast actioning
The process of updating and reviewing websites can overwhelm any hotel company. Carried out manually, this daunting task can only be undertaken if the hotel has no more than two to five websites and a designated team of people for the job. Even so, updates can be infrequent, rate errors can appear, strategy may not be aligned and it can become expensive.
Hotel companies acknowledge that they should be actively monitoring and updating rates and charges several times a day in order to stay ahead of their competitors.
But there is an alternative: channel management solutions claim to gather the rate data, inventory availability and alerts, reservation data and guest reviews all through one application. That’s not all; each sales channel using the facility can receive updates in minutes with settings including auto-fill for rates and availability. The system also provides easy options for handling sell rates, channel commissions and margins, currency conversion and inventory calculation. Once a revenue manager has provided all the relevant data, the system can do the rest for the hotel.
One area that revenue managers are keen on improving, concerns quick rate and inventory updates, without having to interact with online travel agencies.
One entity that is focusing on continuous enhancements is the mid-market hotel group Premier Inn India. The team has been centrally managing room rates and availability in real-time across more than ten connected online travel agencies.
Here EyeforTravel’s Ritesh Gupta talks to Vikrant Sharma, revenue manager at Premier Inn India about channel management and why he expects it to lend a new dimension to customer relationship management in the future.
EFT: How challenging is to accomplish the task is the process of updating and reviewing online sites today?
The customer today is looking for customised solutions. This has led to an online explosion of various sites available offering the same product with small changes and in some cases just the same product period.
However, as a seller we are obliged to be present on as many of these sites/channels as possible. Being present is one thing, keeping them all productive is another. Most sites/channels rely on constant updates to keep them live and fresh. In addition, there is the added complexity of rate parity. This is where a tool like Rate Tiger comes in. It helps us in all of the above and more, through a single screen interface.
EFT: What new trends have you witnessed when it comes to online room distribution?
We have noticed the following key trends:
(a) The volume of business through the online channels has been increasing quite rapidly,
(b) Our booking lead time has reduced, as we are witnessing heavier pick up closer to the date.
EFT: Can you explain the various different aspects of distribution that a revenue manager has to look after today?
A RM has to look after overall revenue optimisation of a hotel, which will include channel, source and segments. Online reputation and brand building is the need of the hour.
EFT: Can you expand on the significance of rate decisions and implementing them immediately in today’s environment?
Rate decisions and the speed to market are key to a successful online strategy. As the booking window becomes shorter and choices are available to guests at the click of a mouse or a touch of a screen, it’s important that we are aware of the market trends and are first to the market with industry leading strategy.
We also need to be cognisant that what is successful will be replicated and therefore we must have a second and third strategy thought through, whilst the first one is still gaining momentum. In short we need to be ahead of the curve.
EFT: How do you anticipate channel management’s evolution in the future?
We expect channel management to become our customer relationship management in the long run. We need to understand our guests better and learn their buying behaviours better.
Channel management companies are using cloud based applications. Looking to the future, our channel manager will have better integration with PMS, OTAs, official websites and so on. Once that happens inventories, rate loading, email campaigns, guest history, guest engagement etc. will take place through once common platform. Cloud based channel management companies can do this with integration in place. Why pay or create something new if channel management can provide CRM platform?