How Open Distribution is giving power back to hotels
Our VP of Global Supply, Robin Clifford, fondly remembers attending one of Ireland’s National Football League finals in the late ‘90s. He also recalls the hotel experience he had immediately after the match.
“We left, grabbed drinks, then walked down Grafton Street to find a hotel,” he says. “It was the same experience for everyone: You’d walk into a hotel, ask for a room, and they’d say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and charge you whatever price they wanted—maybe charge you more or less depending on how sober you were.”
Fast forward to the 2010s when Expedia, Booking.com, and Hotels.com came to dominate the travel space. Suddenly, hotels could engage with audiences around the world—no matter if they were a large chain or a family-run B&B.
But access to a global audience came at a price.
Today, many hotels find themselves held back by the booking systems that once felt revolutionary. By gatekeeping access to customer data, limiting a hotel’s control over rates and taking large chunks of every booking, the existing channels make it almost impossible for hotels to evolve creatively and competitively.
That’s where Open Distribution comes in. By empowering hotels to connect directly with the room sellers they want to work with, without any gatekeepers in the way, this new approach to room distribution puts the power back in the hands of hotels.
Shaking up the industry
The advent of online reservation systems completely disrupted the travel space. Unfortunately, it also disrupted independent growth.
“These hotels got a taste of the booking potential companies like Expedia offered, then became reliant on them for 60-70% of their bookings,” he says. “Now, they can’t afford to lose these bookings, even though their cost margins are rising, sometimes to as much as 25%.”
No hotel’s financial livelihood should be dependent on intermediaries, especially those that actively prevent hoteliers from maximising their bookings and revenue. Robin points to how the automotive industry has been disrupted by electric vehicles, and how traditional banks are being challenged by the innovative players of Open Banking. Now, it's travel's turn for a shake up.
Insight without integration
Powered by an API that room sellers use directly on their platforms, Open Distribution doesn’t rely on traditional integration processes. This means any hotel’s supply can be rapidly onboarded and made available to anyone who wants to sell hotel rooms.
This also grants hotels the ability to test and enter new markets, without risking time and resources experimenting with possible avenues. With Impala, they can instantly connect with our extensive, ever-growing network of sellers, from innovative startups to larger travel companies. Hotels access these sellers directly from our dashboard, where they can also negotiate rates, update content and get the insight they need into where and how their bookings are being made.
Take control of the future
As Robin explained, the current system has made hotels so reliant on a few key players that they’re in a risky position if something goes wrong. By diversifying the channels through which they get their bookings, Open Distribution reduces each hotel’s financial risk—and empowers them to pursue new ways of reaching the guests they want.
There’s no such thing as future-proofing for the hotel industry. But with Open Distribution and Impala, hotels finally have the ability to plan for the future—while growing their business right now.