Efficient distribution is fundamental to the long term health of your hotel chain. Putting each property's inventory in front of the right customers at the right time and at the right price means you can convert more customers and enjoy profitable revenue management.
Managing distribution effectively requires a unique skill that combines a nuanced approach with a skillful touch and a data-driven mind. It really is a superpower; the ability to tailor your distribution with such precision that you are maximizing your revenue opportunities across all channels at all times. However, this is always easier said than done. The continuing complexity of distribution can make efficient and profitable management quite difficult.
Technology has simultaneously contributed to this complexity (by reducing start-up costs and making it easier to launch new channels) and greatly facilitating management (by seamlessly connecting supply to demand). Given the prominent role of technology in distribution, it's always worth reviewing your optimization approach periodically.
Some ways to optimize your distribution
To help you on your daily revenue optimization journey, here are seven helpful tactics. You can choose to implement just one, or you can be prepared to go all out and focus on improving the quality and health of your distribution connection. Either way, incremental improvements mean big gains over time. The key is to stay focused and make sure you're using the right technology to amplify and not hinder your efforts.
1. Metric, metric, metric!
A little rehearsal never hurts, right? You'd be hard pressed to find a revenue manager or hospitality professional who doesn't understand the power of metrics. Yet when it comes to evaluating different distribution channels based on performance, key channel-level metrics can be difficult to pinpoint. Without access to relevant metrics, such as bookings, cancellations, ADR and RevPar for every channel in your distribution mix, you are optimizing with a tied hand behind your back. And if your distribution connection is delivering this data with a delay, or if the data is unreliable or inaccurate, it's worse than having no data at all.
Channel-level metrics are important to your distribution strategy. Make sure you get all the data you need to assess each channel's contribution to your overall distribution strategy.
2. Know your look-to-book statistics.
The look-to-book ratio is another valuable indicator worth pulling out on its own. This shows you the proportion of people who make a reservation after looking at your hotel chain. Of course, you have access to this insightful metric in your live channel. You can use it to optimize your website, change your booking flow, and test new offers and promotions. With every test, fit, and interaction, you can monitor how it affects your look to book. The more visitors you convert, the more bookings you get and the more revenue you earn.
But what happens on third-party channels? This information is not easily obtained. You should trust each channel's approach to data analysis. If possible, you want to find this information and incorporate it into all discussions about the distribution strategy. As you identify high converting channels, you can allocate more inventory and gradually optimize your distribution over time.
3. Compare your compset at the channel level.
Benchmarking your hotel chain allows you to see what similar establishments are doing with their distribution strategy. You need to compare and contrast key metrics, such as total bookings, ADR, RevPar, cancellations, and channel mix. These references help you make more accurate pricing decisions, identify underutilized or overlooked distribution opportunities, or uncover new channels for experimentation. With a keen eye on the competition, you can stay one step ahead of the game!
4. Open your switch cache.
Too often, hotel chains overlook the power of cache optimization when connected to channel partners through an intermediary such as a switch. This can lead to dramatic underperformance, as your switch cache greatly influences how middlemen access and then distribute your inventory. Whether you are deploying a push, pull, or hybrid approach, your switch cache is the backbone of your distribution. An underperforming switch cache can be the source of an underperforming distribution strategy.
Proper switch cache monitoring revolves around a regular review of your switch cache settings report. You should look at the accuracy of your switch cache, as well as its speed and overall usage. Some distribution channels may prioritize higher performing switch caches, and you don't want to be left behind by better optimized switch caches from your competition. By measuring and improving the performance of your switch cache, you will see greater accuracy, faster performance, and fewer missed reservations due to outdated switch caches. Better switching cache accuracy would mean no price difference between the pre-booking and the final booking page, resulting in lower abandon rates. Optimizing the switch cache would reduce the load on the CRS, thus protecting it from failure and also freeing up bandwidth to connect to more partners on demand.
5. Check your error data report regularly.
Mistakes can hinder even the most thoughtful distribution strategy! So, in addition to your cache report, regularly review your error data report. They're like cheat sheets, showing you exactly where you need to step in and take action. Errors play a vital role in determining the quality of your connection. Each error that occurs could have been a confirmed reservation and correcting these errors would result in a direct increase in reservations received from existing channels.
DHISCO Insights provides a clear view of which channels are causing the most errors, what type of errors are generated, and which properties are experiencing high error percentages. This allows you to focus directly on the problems and resolve them immediately. Fewer mistakes mean fewer missed booking opportunities! It's a simple way to increase conversions and earn more money for your properties.
6. Monitor the performance of CRS and connectivity.
The performance of your CRS offers a direct view on the optimization of your connections. There are two parameters to watch out for when measuring CRS performance: the overall response time and the individual response time at each point in your system. Monitor the response time in both your channel CRS and your connection partner, so you can identify opportunities for improvement.
You'll also want to monitor the performance of other CRS systems so that you have a clear benchmark. With this baseline, you can see how your CRS is performing against others and identify issues before they start to impact bookings.
7. Take advantage of channel intelligence
For hotel chains, channel intelligence provides insight into the top performing channels, property by property. Armed with this data, you can carefully analyze how each channel contributes to your business. Since these patterns can change quickly, keep an eye on the day-to-day performance of the channels and optimize them accordingly.
Remember, analyzing the performance of each channel in your channel's distribution mix ensures that you are getting the most out of your connections. To further optimize connections, delve into your channel intelligence to understand which channels produce the most, which channels contribute most of your traffic, and which channels generate the most errors.
Knowing when to try something new
As you focus on channel optimization and efficient distribution, consider whether the quality and health of your distribution connection is affecting your overall return on investment. If you find that your distribution connection is hampering your optimization efforts, you might find that it's time to try something new.
Distribution is complex, but your technology shouldn't be. There is no reason to suffer from bad connections that hamper your income management strategy. We are certainly biased, but the right technology will help you optimize your distribution for maximum profitability. Don't settle for anything less!
To learn more about how we can help you keep your distribution healthy and profitable using DHISCO Insights & Optimization, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
In his current role, Mark leads the sales team in Europe, North Africa and Brazil and leads overall strategy and growth in the three main lines of business of Distribution, Business Intelligence and Optimization. social media in these regions.
Prior to joining RateGain's international management team, Mark had 22 years of relevant and varied experience in the hospitality industry. He has capitalized on his experience playing different roles in the management, direction and commerce of e-commerce and SaaS technology companies in organizations such as TravelClick, Melia Hotels, The Ascott Group and First Option Hotel Reservations.
Originally from the UK, Mark has been based in Barcelona, Spain for the past few years. As such, he is fluent in English and Spanish, but is also proficient in other key European languages. Mark has been involved in several closed group events by invitation only as a speaker, moderator or thought leader. Exploring new places, learning and mentoring new skills, and experiencing new cultures has always fascinated Mark, and as the e-commerce industry evolved into the hospitality industry, he was able to merge his personal passions with l industry he loves.
This curious query raised many more. Namely, ' What have you done to your pants that necessitates the application of boiling water ? ', ' Are you too dense to realise that putting your knickers in the sink and then pouring on the boiling water is far more logical ? ' and ' Have I drunk tea from a kettle that was used to clean somebody’s Y-fronts ? '
Medical experts even weighed in. Dr Heather Hendrickson, a Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biosciences at Massey University in Auckland, said : ' It is super super super super gross. ' That’s actually the scientific term. She added : ' Your friend is unlikely to have a large number of highly heat resistant pathogens in his dirty undergarments but we do not know what he does have in there or how sick he might be. ' Oh, there’s definitely something not right.
While Telegraph Travel cannot conceive an occasion when stuffing your briefs inside a kettle will pay off, there are many other devious, less disgusting ways to take advantage of the items found in most hotel rooms.
Better than boiled underwear is a boiled egg. And a kettle could do the travail if you’d rather not fork out £15 for an overpriced breakfast ( we’ve even heard of people using them to cook pasta ).
The cheese toastie on the room service menu costs £10. But a loaf of bread and a wedge of cheddar from the local supermarket only costs a few quid. Turn it into melted goodness using your handy in-room iron
They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch ? Not if you nab an extra bread roll, a little pot of jam and a strawberry yoghurt from the breakfast buffer. Wrap it all up in a shower cap and you’ve saved yourself a tenner.
The British aren’t great when it comes to complaining ( Mrs Richards from Fawlty Towers being the notable exception ), but if you aren’t happy with your room, you’re entitled to say so - and to see the alternatives. Hotels, especially older ones, come in all shapes and sizes, so you might be given a better boudoir. If the hotel isn’t full you might even be get upgraded.
There’s nothing worse than curtains that don’t close properly - they guarantee an unwanted early wake-up call at the crack of dawn. So use a clothes hanger with clips to pin them together.
No in-room speakers ? Put your phone in a mug or glass to dramatically improve the sound quality of your tunes.
Isn’t it incredibly annoying when you want to shave/admire your pretty face after a hot shower but have to wait a good 10 minutes for the mirror to de-mist ? Yes. Yes, it is. Well, free yourself from the shackles of mirror fog. Before you shower ( maybe the night before ) liberally rub a portion of the mirror with a bar of soap. Then take a dry washcloth and buff the soap off. This will keep the mist from condensing on the mirror. And one soaping will last a few days.
Forgotten the plug adapter for your charger ? You could ask to borrow one from reception. Or be really self-sufficient and use a USB port in the back of the TV to charge your device.
Staying in an inner city hotel and wary about someone breaking into your room ? Hang your Do Not Disturb sign on the door and give the impression that you’re still inside having a snooze.
' Consider the unmanned housekeeper’s trolley a smash and grab situation. Pack your bags full of almond butter hand cream and guava face soap with espresso crisps. Take three of everything and get the hell out of the hallway. Even if you do get caught, just say you were out of shampoo, or, even better, out of toilet paper, and thought you’d save them the trouble by grabbing it for yourself. Think of it this way : these amenities are here for you, they are yours. We are in no position to dispute the claim that when you wash your hair you prefer to dump fifteen bottles of lavender and poppy seed shampoo all over your scalp like some gooey shower freak. '
And, if the room doesn’t come with conditioner, or you’ve forgotten your phone charger, just ask at the front desk. Hair products, deodorant and phone chargers are apparently the items most often left behind by guests, so the hotel might have a box of each - but ask nicely.