How Do Hotels Fill Those Last Available Rooms?

By Leora Halpern Lanz President, LHL Communications | December 24, 2017

Co-authored by Jovanna Fazzini, Marketing Communications Coordinator, LHL Communications

Hoteliers, marketing directors, and revenue managers in particular are continuously learning how to put the pieces of the puzzle together when it comes to creative and effective options for selling out room nights. Numerous challenges arise with the plethora of new distribution technology, which complicate the process of directly reaching the guest, or even controlling a hotel's presence on the variety of brand and third party websites.

The Director of Sales and Marketing at The Langham Boston, Rachelle Boudreau, emphasized this challenge. "It is difficult to be aware of the various distribution channels, as so many are changing daily and being bought by other companies. These distribution partners are then taking the inventory and selling it online through other third parties. Additionally, some tour wholesalers try to re-sell the inventory through other online travel operators in other countries, who, in turn, will place inventory on a B2B (business to business) and B2C (to consumer) websites, which can ultimately diminish the hotel's rate parity." 

Knowing how confusing the digital marketing and distribution landscape can be, how do hotels manage their options to sell inventory, particularly at that eleventh hour?

Contrary to Popular Belief, It's Not All About OTA's

According to Steve Ehrhardt, 2016 Chairman of the IHG Owners Association, and owner/operator of Missouri-based Ehrhardt properties, it is not necessary to utilize OTAs as a long-term booking method in tertiary markets if the hotelier has the right data.

The Langham Boston
XV Beacon (15 Beacon) is a luxury boutique hotel in the heart of Boston
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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.