HENDERSONVILLE, Tennessee—It is more important now than ever for hotel revenue managers, sales teams and operators to be on top of the rapidly expanding distribution landscape. Beyond simply being aware of the different mediums available to sell hotel rooms, hoteliers need to be informed on the cost of different distribution channels and the returns expected from each.
“Channel management and the OTAs: Boom or gloom,” a panel during the Third Annual Hotel Data Conference, aims to address these challenges and more. The Hotel Data Conference, a two-day event held 3-4 August at the Gaylord Opyrland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, is hosted by STR and HotelNewsNow.com.
During the downturn of 2001, online travel agencies were relatively new to the scene and hoteliers relied upon them heavily to stimulate demand. Now, panelists will discuss how the proliferation of distribution channels is impacting pricing as the hotel industry creeps out of an economic recession.
Today’s distribution challenges and opportunities don’t stop with the OTAs; increasingly popular sales mediums such as meta-search, flash sales and mobile channels offer intriguing results as well.
Erich Jankowski, director of corporate revenue management for Host Hotels & Resorts, said he is most interested in how hoteliers can use the OTAs to drive average daily rate and revenue per available room.
“There are different types of suppliers and each has different options through Expedia,” said Jake Stein, director of strategic accounts at Expedia. “We have different lines of businesses, and I can help figure out what mix works best for them.”
Lew Harasymiw, director of interface solutions for Sabre Hospitality Solutions, said his customers are often concerned with the practice of selling hotel rooms for the same rate on all the different public channels. With functionality gaps between OTAs and limitations on the different types of connectivity, competitive offers can be a struggle.
“How do we translate the data back and forth? Is automation actually helping?” he said.
With the introduction of Hotel Price Ads last year, Google started to show hotel prices next to organic search results in Google Search, Maps and Places pages. Users can enter dates for their trips to see real-time prices on selected listings. Clicking on the price reveals a list of partners who have provided pricing information for the hotel—OTAs, brands or individual hotels. Users can click through a deep link to reserve a room on the partner’s site.
Cara Shortsleeve, sales lead for new travel ads products at Google, will be on hand to discuss the evolution of Google’s Hotel Price Ads. “Our users and partners have been pleased with Hotel Price Ads to date and I am happy to share more details about the product, as well as answer questions about our broader suite of advertising products,” she said.