The soccer season might be over but I believe that hoteliers can learn and apply a few tactics from my favorite sport to enhance their room sales.Today’s savvy hoteliers know that a clear room distribution strategy is important to reach out to their prospective guests. However, in my interactions with them, I have sensed uncertainty regarding the correct online and offline channels to use for selling their rooms. There is also a common misconception among many hoteliers that Room Selling = OTAs. However, data indicates some surprising findings. As per a Google survey, 52% of travelers will visit your hotel’s website after seeing you on an OTA. This gives hotels a strong opportunity to be more effective on the channel that they own i.e. their website and in turn, increase direct bookings.
This is just one example and while the power of OTAs cannot be dismissed – they are quite efficient to be ignored by any hotelier, my concern is that in their bid to be on the top performing OTAs, hotels might miss using their other available sources of booking effectively. Over-reliance on any one channel of booking, not just OTAs, seems like an unwise choice, especially when there is potential in the remaining booking sources to increase room sales in a much cost-effective way.
The fundamental rule is – For a hotel to sell more rooms, they need to make their rooms visible to more travelers. Which is why a hotel needs to be present on multiple booking channels and not over rely only on any one channel. Diversifying is the key to increasing the chances of improving room sales. Let’s see how this can be compared to soccer. Each team player has its own strength and you cannot pin your hopes on one player (read Neymar) to score the goals every time and be available always. In the same way, what if OTAs increase the commission fees tomorrow? Won’t it affect a hotel’s costs of acquiring the customers and the bottom-line?
Every hotelier has with them, a midfielder, a goalkeeper, forwards and defenders in its distribution mix. I suggest that hotels kickoff their distribution strategy with OTAs to set the pace. Then, quickly advance the game using your forwards i.e. the direct channels that you own, like your website, social media, walk-ins and direct enquiries. Now, strengthen your defense by increasing your customer satisfaction levels and guest experiences. Remember, each satisfied customer can bring in another 4 customers. Strategize your line-ups and you will reach your goal i.e. increasing your revenues.
Every player in the team has to play his own role which comes out only from the team strategy. It is the soccer playbook that helps in implementing the overall strategy. In a hotelier’s case, this can be compared to a centralized and automated system. Because it is technology that comes to the rescue when a hotel branches out to handle multiple channels. As managing multiple channels requires more manpower, and for small and mid-sized hotels, hiring resources is a challenge with restricted budgets, it becomes important to use an automated system. Such a unified distribution system can also help in analyzing the performance of each booking channel, just like an always-alert coach.
Without the use of technology, hoteliers are also prone to making errors like double bookings which are like self-goals that can get extremely embarrassing and the repercussions of these ‘self-goal like errors’ cannot be factored in any of your strategies.
Kicking off your hotel’s room distribution using the right strategy and players will go a long way in scoring more goals!
This blog was originally published on Linkedin Pulse."What Soccer Can Teach Hotels about Selling More Rooms",