IT’S TIME TO DIVERSIFY YOUR HOTEL DISTRIBUTION
Roman Solyanyk, an Account Executive at Impala, explains how you can develop your tech stack to diversify your distribution.
If you’re an independent hotelier in the UK you’re probably experiencing a boom right now. Never before has the staycation been so popular, and for obvious reasons. We can’t kayak the Ardeche, so we’re kayaking the River Wye. We can’t hike in the Pyrenees, so we’re hiking in the Lake District. I like a beach holiday myself, so I’ve been exploring the sandy beaches of Pembrokeshire.
But as lovely as staycationing is, we can more or less guarantee the trend will end once international travel hits its stride again. Yes, it’s been wonderful to embrace our own turf, but no one can deny the allure of 25°C water off the coast of Cyprus … especially after such a long stretch of staying close to home. So hotels need to think about the distribution to position themselves best for what’s next.
WHAT’S AROUND THE CORNER
Speaking with independent hotels across the UK, many have already started to receive cancellations from their domestic customers. And these cancellations are likely to increase as the travel restrictions lift, the vaccine rollout continues and European destinations that rely on the summer tourism trade make it as attractive as possible to get over there.
With UK holiday-makers looking to go abroad again, hotels need to start pin-pointing where their next customer base is coming from. International travel is opening up, so we should start to see international travellers returning to the UK. Therefore It’s about diversifying distribution channels to reach these international customer segments and keep filling hotel rooms once the domestic travel boom subsides.
THE BENEFITS OF DIVERSIFYING
Diversifying your distribution channels also reduces your reliance on one or two major revenue streams. Relying on one stream can be dangerous as it means you are at the mercy of their policies, whatever they may be. Independent hoteliers have been stung in the past by force majeures leading to huge cancellations and chargebacks. Some hotels that I have spoken to had to give back over £80k worth of bookings last year. Or if a major channel goes under, as Thomas Cook did, and a hotel is solely reliant on them, they are suddenly in a precarious position.
I’ve encountered many independent hotels opting to go direct when targeting domestic customers, at the same time I’ve seen plenty of hotels reconnecting to the big OTAs as the international market becomes viable again. Hotels need the flexibility to go direct, and to connect with OTAs both big and small, without investing extensive resources.
In preparation for what’s coming, developing your tech stack will help you to diversify your distribution with ease. With an inevitable shift in customer base approaching, you’ll find yourself able to reach profitable new markets, like the US or other European countries. On top of that, you’re able to attract different kinds of travel customers as things open up again, such as families and business travellers. Diversifying distribution is also important for security, because as we’ve seen, relying on one or two streams can be risky. What’s more, hotels increasingly want to go direct and still connect to a variety of OTAs to maximise their reach. All in all, it seems like a pretty good idea to be as open as possible in your hotel distribution.