Developing a successful and affordable distribution strategy is a huge factor in creating success for occupying the rooms in your hotel. The more opportunities you have to distribute your hotel, the more travelers will hear about it and end up potentially booking your hotel.
Among hoteliers, the distribution plan is constantly evolving and in order to keep up, hotels must continue to update how they distribute their hotel to potential guests.
Here are 4 tips on developing a successful distribution strategy for your hotel:
In order to capture a wide array of guests, it is crucial to utilize multiple platforms in order to engage with your audience. This includes approaching travelers online and offline.
Distributing your hotel online is extremely important due to an increasing amount of travelers who begin their search for accommodations on the internet.
Using a metasearch engine is an extremely helpful tool for distributing and managing your hotel’s ads. Metasearch engines use another search engine’s data to develop results for your hotel through the Internet. For example, using Google to advertise your hotel rooms via Google AdWords allows you to produce ads on Google then Google will track the data and how well your ads are performing. Tools such as our RevLogic Engine help develop these metasearch engines for your hotel.
The main goal of distributing your hotel should be to increase direct bookings via your hotel’s website and booking engine.
This will allow your hotel to drive as much RevPAR as possible. Some hotels even give their guests incentives to book directly through their booking engine such as rewarding them with Free Wifi or Discounted Room Service.
Get help developing a successful booking engine through this link.
While online distribution is important, is still crucial to distribute your hotel offline such as developing voice operators or working with wholesalers. This can attract those who aren’t on the internet such as the older population, and even locals who hear about your hotel just by living in the area.
Social media is also a major, growing distribution center when it comes to communicating with your audience and increasing bookings.
Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all have resources that allow you to target a certain audience and keep track of what demographics are attracted to your ads. This helps you gain better insights into who is booking your hotel.
After developing multiple channels, it is necessary to determine the different segments of your audience you are targeting through these channels.
All messages to your audience must be consistent. However, the syntax, images, and how these messages are distributed to different targets should be tailored specific to each segment.
For example, displaying your content differently to business travelers than to a traveling family will help you fill your hotel. The social media platform will develop a list of users who fit into each specific category.
Managing your various channels, bookings, and matching the pricing of your rooms can be difficult. Luckily, there are booking engines, channel managers, and property management technologies that will help you successfully distribute your hotel. These are a necessity when it comes to running your distribution channels and interpreting the results.
Learn more about the top features your booking engine needs here!
Without a distribution strategy, it is difficult for travelers to even hear about your hotel and the amenities it has to offer. Implementing a strong distribution approach will allow potential guests from all over the world to begin booking your hotel, causing your hotel to thrive.
The guest journey starts long before they check in at the hotel. In this technology-driven era, the first steps of the customer journey begin online.
Your hotel’s website is very important for this reason. Here are the top things that travelers expect from your hotel’s website:
There is no question that the majority of customers conduct some type of research on a hotel before booking online. A large part of this research is reading reviews. Hotel reviews are critical to customer acquisition and hotel management.
Here are 4 reasons reviews can make or break your hotel:
In this internet driven era, online reviews act as the electronic word-of-mouth. People view reviews as a trustworthy source of autonomous information. In fact,85% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
Did you know that 96% of travelers consider reading reviews important when booking hotels and that 83% will usually or always reference reviews before deciding to book? In fact, the same study shows that more than 50% of these travelers would not even be considering booking a property that didn’t have any reviews. These numbers show just how important it is to have good, consistent reviews.
Reviews are an integral part of the traveler’s decision process. Reviews influence guests at every stage of their research and booking decision. Make sure to stay on top of your reviews in order to attract new guests and retain past ones.
Guest reviews have a large impact on hotel conversion rates. Travelers are willing to pay a premium for hotels with positive reviews.
When a traveler is given equal prices they are 4 times more likely to choose the hotel with better reviews.
Even when the price is higher, if the hotel has better reviews, the traveler is still more likely to book there.
Reviews give very useful insights into your hotel’s operations; whether it is positive or negative. While negative reviews can be upsetting, be proactive and put in place systems to make sure the issue doesn’t happen again. If you do happen to get a bad review, take advantage of that opportunity to respond and make it right.
85% of people agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review improves their impression of the hotel, and 65% agree that seeing hotel management responses to reviews generally makes them more likely to book the hotel.
As the hospitality industry becomes increasingly intermediated by the web, hotel reviews are becoming more important than ever. A high volume of good reviews will encourage future guests to book at your hotel. Make sure you are encouraging guests to leave reviews upon check out, in follow up emails, and through social media channels. Your occupancy will thank you.
Travel is a means to escape, to explore, to relax, to be worry-free, and to enjoy luxury and amenities. Travelers yearn to be “Wow’d”. The trending way that hoteliers can provide this sense of positive experience is by offering up-and-coming communication to anticipate and fulfill traveler needs as well as by staying ahead of the technology trends.
Keep reading to learn what travelers expect from hospitality technology and how you can meet and exceed those expectations.
We are in the age of mobile mania. People, especially travelers, do not go anywhere without their mobile-device smartphone. In order to capture guest attention and conveniently provide guest services, hotels need to go mobile.
It’s important to reach guests through their mobile in all stages of the guest lifecycle. Begin by keeping your marketing and advertising consistent on both desktop and mobile. Continue the mobile experience by offering mobile services throughout guest check-in and their stay.
Mobile Check-In: Mobile check-in is becoming increasingly popular, especially among business travelers. Help your guest have a more convenient stay with mobile check-in services.
Mobile Keys: Get rid of the tangible key woes with companies such as OpenKey. OpenKey provides guests a convenient, secure, and stress-free way of accessing their room with a mobile key app.
Learn more about OpenKey and keyless entry.
Mobile Concierge: Offering a mobile concierge through text, chat and/or app, allows your guests to reach out 24/7 with ease and efficiency.
Continue to wow your guests from check-in and throughout their entire stay by implementing new and exciting guestroom technology features.
Virtual Assistants: Virtual assistants can be the key differentiator between your hotel and a competitor. With amazing travel planning capabilities, virtual assistants like Google Play and Amazon’s Alexa, are ideal for guests looking for added service and technology.
Bandwidth: “Wi-Fi has essentially become a third utility for hotels—after energy and water, the wireless internet network has become a crucial investment,”John D’Annunzio, GM Samsung Wireless Enterprise.
Increasing your hotel’s bandwidth is a smart investment to help you retain guests and attract new ones to increase occupancy.
Video streaming services are more popular than cable TV, especially among millennial travelers. Appeal to all types of travelers by offering smart TVs with video streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube Red and more.
More than one-third of consumers will not book a hotel room without reading reviews first *
Reviews can make or break your property. Leverage positive reviews to convert new guests and encourage previous guests to leave reviews through loyalty rewards.
Utilize guest feedback during each stage of the guest journey in order to increase online visibility on search engines such as Google, improve operations, and drive hotel revenue with TrustYou.
Learn more about TrustYou here.
Travelers like to know that their data is secure when booking online. Offer reassurance to your guests through online security measures.
Ensure your guest’s data safety when they book online and book directly. Let them know of your data protection measures.
Reach all types of guests worldwide by offering multi-currency booking options.
Guests add-ons help guests create easy travel plans and offer them peace of mind. Integrate your booking engine with add-ons such as car rentals and activity add-ons.
8 out of 10 travelers consider a hotel’s loyalty program before booking. Capture new guests and retain existing ones with a straightforward and user-friendly loyalty program.
Learn about IBC’s loyalty program solutions here.
It’s extremely important to IBC Hospitality Technologies that as a company we embrace everyone. Each individual, male or female, provides different points of view and experiences to build our team, helping to craft our best possible products and solutions. Having a diverse team helps us to brainstorm more effectively and implement compelling business practices.
Are there certain initiatives within the company that promote advancing women in corporate leadership?
IBC Hospitality Technologies is an equal opportunities employer. We provide equal opportunity to our employees, regardless of gender, to advance in responsibility and to work in corporate leadership roles. As a company, we strive to help cultivate a culture of learning that benefits all employees and helps employees, male or female, to further their career goals and education.
From your personal experience as a female executive, what do you think needs to change in order to increase female representation in leadership positions?
As a female executive I have experienced firsthand the work that it takes to build a successful career. My experience leads me to believe that women and men both go through phases in their careers. This can also be pictured in terms of career “waves” or fluctuations. It’s vital in any persons career path that during these career waves or fluctuations, individuals have support. Females especially are faced with the balancing act (typically) of raising a family while pursuing a successful career and advancing to leadership positions. One big change that needs to occur is providing more support to growing families. Both females and males should be able to feel reassured that they are valued the same as their coworkers regardless of their family status or family goals. Companies could also consider providing more flexibility to employees so long as the job expectations are being performed successfully.
How has your personal experience as a female executive helped shape your company’s diversity and inclusion practices?
My personal experiences as a student, employee, mother, wife and now executive have given me the ability to view a situation and workplace through many different vantage points. This allows me to view skillsets of individuals and determine how those skills will be best served and used at our company. This helps our company execute strategy and achieve its goals by customizing solutions to each individual employee.
Are there any daily practices employees engage in that advance gender diversity in leadership?
At IBC Hospitality Technologies we foster a culture of respect and open communication. It’s important to me that each of my employees feel valued and listened to. I encourage all employees of IBC to treat each other as equals, regardless of gender.
Is there any research your company has done on diversity & inclusion?
We haven’t done any previous research on diversity and inclusion but are aware of the importance of gender diversity in the workplace and encouraging leadership in our employees, both female and male.
What do you think your industry can do better to promote gender diversity in leadership roles?
One benefit of the hospitality industry at a property level, hotels, accomodation properties, B&Bs and more, is that there are many jobs and needs for employees both male and female. The hospitality industry at a property level does very well at practicing inclusion and exemplifying gender diversity. However, there is a large gap in senior and c-level positions and their pay levels at global hospitality companies. The hospitality industry can do much more to foster a culture of support for women looking to work at an executive level within the industry. This could include providing more training for females in hospitality and creating awareness regarding the gap in positions and pay level as well as active mentorship.
For companies that have yet to establish a set of D&I practices, what steps can they take to begin?
D&I practices are important to the success of every company. If a company is looking to begin to establish D&I practices its important they start with communication among their team. Ask their employees what their goals are, establish company-wide goals and expectations for employee performance. As companies learn of each employees goals, they should look for opportunities to promote from within.
Original article found here.
Speed and professional transparent information are an integral part of any traveler’s planning process. It’s important for hoteliers and hotels to adapt to this growing trend and create a strong online presence.
Learn more about The Traveler’s Decision Process.
Guests rely on digital technology such as search engines, online travel agencies, social media, voice and YouTube to find new travel destinations and book accommodations. In order to capture new guests, retain previous guests, and stand-out against competitors, hotels need to optimize their digital presence.
Here are five things that every hotel should be doing in order to create a strong digital presence and drive bookings and customer engagement at their hotel.
Create New and Engaging Content
Creating consistent content helps your hotel score better within search results and improves your SEO rankings. Search engines are constantly looking for new, fresh, and engaging content to pull at the top of their results.
By creating new and engaging content your hotel website will perform better in search results and improve your online presence, reaching new guests and potential customers. Try creating a hotel blog to provide a specific channel for new content. Also, constantly be evaluating your website to see if content, such as amenities or add-ons, need to be updated.
Learn about 4 ways to build a unique hotel brand online.
Improve Review Site Rankings
Did you know that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation? That means your hotel should be utilizing reviews and ensure they are collected and distributed to search engines such as Google.
Improving review site rankings is vital to optimizing your online presence. Travelers trust reviews. In order to improve your review site rankings you need consistent, positive reviews. Encourage guests to review your hotel by offering rewards or complimentary services during their stay. Always respond to reviews, positive or negative, and make sure to address any feedback given. These practices will help improve your hotels review site rankings and online presence as well as share confidence to those shopping about the care taken at the hotel level.
TrustYou is IBC’s integrated partner for review management and distribution to search engines including Google, learn more here.
Be Active on Social Media
Social media is one of the top organic ways to reach new customers and drive brand awareness. Social media helps you drive bookings by being a constant marketing channel for travelers, to remind them of why they should stay at your hotel as well as share incredible visual images.
Being active on social media takes work, but pays off long-term. Establish a social media strategy for your hotel and post consistently in order to help improve your online presence.
Use Retargeting Marketing Strategies
Did you know that travelers are 70% more likely to convert when they are retargeted?
Make sure your hotel is capitalizing on that 70% by using retargeting marketing strategies and practices. When a guest visits your website and leaves without booking, its important to retarget and re-capture those guests attention and encourage them to book.
You can retarget your guests through their website usage, through email or through their social media. As you retarget them, offer unique, time-sensitive deals to help motivate them to book.
Learn more about IBC’s unique retargeting solutions here.
Be Mobile Friendly
Ensure that your website is optimal for mobile performance and that it loads quickly. Load time is important because if the load time lags, you could possibly have many people abandon the page. Mobile search is becoming increasing popular and requires a booking engine with high conversion rates.
Align your advertising strategies so that retargeting and other marketing campaigns are consistent across both desktop and mobile devices. This will help you reach a high volume of potential guests at all time.
Learn more about our mobile-friendly booking engine options here.
Channel managers help automate the process of inventory distribution. By using a channel manager you can simply and effectively manage multiple sale channels and distribution from a single dashboard. Bookings made from any platform will reflect in real-time and accurately in your Hotel PMS, so you won’t need to worry about overbooking.
Use your channel manager to evenly distribute your rooms and availability across multiple OTAs and marketing channels. This helps you use your time more effectively and helps you widen your reach, increasing your online presence and increasing occupancy.
Make sure your availability appeals to multiple types of travelers. For instance, a millennial might opt for a lower cost room but book an add-on activity package. Ensure availability for all types of travelers and display that availability through your channel manager.
Ideally, your channel manager will be part of a booking system that connects your channel manager, hotel property management system, and booking engine in one place. This helps automate room bookings and makes sure that all systems and channels are up to date and notified immediately of any changes.
OTAs are a popular way for travelers to find and compare hotels as they plan their upcoming trip. Use your channel manager to effectively connect with OTAs in order to update and promote your room availability and rates in real-time with ease.
Use your channel manager to analyze and promote your room rate parity. This means that you are actively comparing your hotel’s rates to your competitors and adjusting accordingly. Assure your guests that they are receiving the best deal by offering rate parity. Also, channel managers help you automatically update your OTAs and other distribution when you are running a discount or offering a special.
Hotel operations require detailed and accurate reporting to manage revenues. Use your channel manage to measure all of your sales and marketing channels to evaluate what works and what does not. This will help you gain applicable insight for your property to help streamline your operations decisions and increase net RevPAR.
Link to hundreds of PMS, CM, and RMS systems through our direct connections and partnerships with SiteMinder, Vertical Booking, Omnibees, and more. Learn more about IBC’s Channel Manager solutions here.
Understanding travelers; how and why they book, what they look for in a place to stay, how they find new hotels, what motivates them to book directly, all helps hoteliers and hospitality professionals operate their business more successfully.
Google used their search engine data to compile a book with key statistics and indicators shaping a traveler’s decision process. From the eBook, The Travelers Road to Decision, we’ve pulled key statistics that affect independent hotels and hotel occupancy. To access the entire book click here.
83% of travelers use social media, photo or video sites to begin their travel process by finding travel inspiration.
Social media is shaping the way that travelers find new hotels and destinations. Make sure your property is active on social media and use it to promote your unique brand and amenities.
Learn how to use social media to increase occupancy at your hotel here.
61% say that travel videos influence their decision on where they want to go.
Quick videos that feature amazing destinations or unique hotels gain viral popularity. Put a creative spin on a video featuring your property or create video guides of your location.
71% of both leisure and business travelers begin their planning on Google search.
Utilize Google Hotel Ads and Google AdWords to make sure your hotel is populating in travelers search results.
Learn how to get started with our Comprehensive Guide to Google Advertising.
41% of travelers are influenced to book by their current membership in loyalty programs and reward programs.
65% of travelers would switch programs if the program was easier-to-use and offered better perks.
Loyalty programs are a great way to help your hotel stand out from your competition. Make sure your loyalty program is user friendly that offers exciting and enticing rewards.
Learn more about IBC’s loyalty program solutions here.
78% of travelers use their smartphone during the planning process.
Make sure that your website is mobile friendly and that your advertising is consistent across both mobile and desktop platforms.
Need help with digital marketing? Learn more about our options here.
Grow your online presence and reach new customers with IBC, contact us here.
The reality is that travelers book online and mobile, making it imperative that your website/mobile site contain an intuitive and easy-to-use booking system that guides your guests through the booking process. Otherwise, you face the negative RevPAR impact of losing them to the quick and easy OTAs.Utilize the below six strategies to make your booking experience succeed and drive occupancy at your hotel.
Integrating your booking engine with other demand channels that provide full guest information is essential to promote room visibility and drive direct bookings. With booking engine integration, guests can see your availability in real-time on other channels such as Google and other metasearch sites such as Trivago, Kayak, Skyscanner and Wego. This helps your property promote their best value and increase occupancy.
Learn more about IBC integrations here.
Cart recovery tools help you recover those guests that abandon their booking at the last minute. This helps your property with specific retargeting marketing strategy and provides value to your guest so that they can easily recover their abandoned booking.
Travelers appreciate convenience. Presenting guests with the option of booking potential activities, car services, or other travel accommodations helps provide more value to your guest and increase their likelihood of returning and ensuring customer loyalty.
Automated invoicing provides you with an efficient and accurate way to stay up to speed with finances, invoicing and other business data indicators.
This is one of the most important features of your booking experience. A booking engine should be easy to use for the potential guest and encourage the guest to complete the booking in 4 steps or less with time sensitive call-to-actions, special deals, and more. Make your booking engine easy to navigate by placing clear label buttons and using interactive calendar tools. Social media logins are an easy way to guests to book faster. Always promote your property’s contact information in case any issues arise.
With the growing digital age, mobile websites and booking capabilities are more important than ever before. According to a 2014 Google study, 78% of travelers use their smartphone in the travel planning process. Give guests the opportunity to book through their mobile devices so you don’t miss out on potential occupancy.
Booking engines can make or break your hotel occupancy. Make sure your booking engine is integrated with other search channels, offers cart recovery and guest add-ons, provides you with automated invoicing, implements a user-friendly design and is designed to perform on mobile devices. With these six strategies, your booking engine and occupancy will succeed.
Learn more about IBC’s Booking Engine solutions here.
Phoenix — Studies show that education and training leads to higher employee retention and guest satisfaction. As such, IBC Hospitality Technologies has partnered with the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (the long-time training and education arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Assn.) to provide IBC members with hospitality industry certification resources. As an IBC member, independent hoteliers can purchase online study materials and gain access to online exams through a new customized landing page. AH&LA members receive discount pricing.
Certifications available to IBC members through the AHLEI program include:
“Hospitality professionals worldwide have been turning to AHLEI for 65 years to validate their industry knowledge and skills at every stage of their careers,” said Pamela Barnhill, IBC president and COO. “We recognize that training and professional development are important for all properties, but independent hotels may not have access to the resources that are available to branded properties with corporate training departments. Partnering with a globally-recognized training organization like the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute gives IBC members access to the best in training for all staff — from front line to management.
“This comprehensive professional development program uses AHLEI’s training resources and professional certification for guest service employees, supervisors, trainers, and general managers,” she said. “It is designed to help properties improve their profitability, guest satisfaction, and employee retention, and it also will help make that property stand out as a preferred choice for travelers.”
AHLEI certificartion is available as one of the many benefits to IBC member hotels inside IBCMarketplace.com which provides a customizable business intelligence dashboard with CRS functionality and soft brand benefits.
Since 2012, more than 100,000 individuals have received at least one AHLEI certification, with the bulk of that number being the Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP), the foundational hospitality certification for every employee working in the hotel industry. Consider this:
“Certification is one of the best moves a hospitality professional can make in his or her career,” said Jennifer Bonilla, AHLEI sales manager. “By offering certifications for various levels of professional development, IBC is providing valuable, career-building resources for its members. AHLEI is proud to partner with IBC to ensure that its members have the skills and knowledge to succeed and grow both personally and professionally.”
Originally part of AH&LA, AHLEI was acquired in 2017 by the National Restaurant Assn. and became part of its Training & Certification division. AHLEI offers hospitality training, educational resources and curriculum for high school and college hospitality programs, and professional certification for every position and level of training.
About the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI)
Established in 1953 as the nonprofit education and training arm of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), AHLEI’s mission is to be the preferred provider of quality resources to educate, develop, and certify hospitality educators, students, and professionals worldwide. AHLEI became part of the National Restaurant Association in 2017, connecting and leveraging the resources of two organizations that are deeply committed to a vision of career success and upward mobility for current and future hospitality, restaurant and foodservice employees.