The Devil is in the Details

Are Your Distribution Agreements Working for You?

By Paul van Meerendonk Director of Advisory Services, IDeaS Revenue Solutions | April 30, 2017

There’s arguably no other four-lettered word that has made quicker—and more impactful—moves in the hospitality industry than “data” has. With the ascension of the Internet igniting a brisk evolution of big data, the hospitality industry now orbits within an increasingly interconnected and technologically-savvy world. Keeping ahead of the curve in the midst of the Internet of Things (IoT) means hotels are not only evolving in how they meaningfully connect with their guests, but they also have to develop short- and long-term revenue strategies to capitalize on the new industry data and insights available to them.

Growing tremendously over the past few decades, today’s hotel booking dynamics rely heavily on the Internet, social media and a burgeoning collection of smartphone apps to strengthen their digital guest relationships. With a reported 76% of Internet users across 40 countries using social sites such as Facebook and Twitter in 2015 alone, hotel brands have felt pressure to expand their social marketing presence. They have also had to look for opportunities to employ newer types of industry data—such as online reviews and travel intent data—to help them make more meaningful sales, marketing and revenue decisions (Pew Research Center, 2015).

According to a Pew Research Center survey, roughly 77% of Americans own a smartphone, and ownership rates in emerging and developing nations are rising at extraordinary rates – up from a median of 21% in 2013 to 37% in 2015. Almost every nation surveyed also revealed that overwhelming majorities of individuals own some form of mobile device, even if it wasn’t technically considered a smartphone. This rise in mobility and a resulting expectation for quick, on-the-go availability of goods and services drastically changes how today’s hotels market to, and connect with, their guests.

All of these changes in technology mean that today’s hotel booking process is starkly different to what it was just ten years ago. With the Internet came a meteoric rise of online travel agencies (OTAs), and the increased popularity and consolidation of industry channels—such as Expedia, C-Trip and Booking.com—has forced many hotels to reevaluate how to find a profitable online footing against their frequently-described “Goliath” in the distribution space.

The spectacular growth of both online and mobile industry dynamics, and the market intelligence data being driven by these sources, leads many hotels left wondering what details in the distribution space they should be evaluating, planning for and capitalizing on. One answer is the industry technology and unfolding data sources that give hotels fresh perspectives for profitable distribution opportunities within the revenue management and strategic marketing arenas of a hotel organization.

Futurecasting for Long-Term Distribution Strategy

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.