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

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.