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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Hotel Spa: Oasis Unplugged

The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.