Distribution challenge: how OTAs are making appropriate use of online technology
The ultimate aim of the OTA is to expand their global coverage to offer a range of properties from ordinary global chains to elite hotel groups and unique, independent hotels around the world.
EFT: How do you think online distribution technology has evolved in the last couple of years?
MH: There are a few developments I’d like to highlight. Firstly channel management tools and yield management solutions have become far more intuitive. This means that hotels can now execute their online strategy in a more nimble fashion than they were able to in the past. It is now much easier for a hotel to enter their distribution to the outside world at a single or minimal point of entry.
Take a hotel with, for example, connectivity with Trust (Yourvoyager) as their central reservation system (CRS). Through Trust’s seamless connections with multiple Internet Distribution System (IDS) & Global Distribution System (GDS) channels, that inventory can be all over the world in seconds. Five years ago that hotel probably had to update about half a dozen channels individually, which may have taken them all day. They also might have a yield management tool, such as IDeas, connected to the API, which will automatically ensure they are entering the right rates based on demand, historic data and seasonality.
Essentially all these tools (CRS/ GDS/ Channel Manager’s/ Yield Management systems and so on) can now be seamlessly connected giving the hotelier a lot more time to strategise and ensure they are getting the right blend of occupancy, rate and cost of sale.
Secondly I also think the GDS has become a lot more industry relevant and has evolved to be more OTA-centric at the nuts and bolts end. A couple of examples could be the Travelport ‘Rooms & More’ product which is essentially pushing all those OTA channels to travel agents (booking/ late rooms/ hotel reservation systems and so on) and working on a flexible and changeable commission model. The GDS’s have become a lot more user friendly and relevant (Travelport is now using VFM Leonardo for content for example), which has had hugely positive customer feedback from agents.