Hotel Distribution Strategy: 3 Tips for Analyzing Your Channels

Hotels that are part of large, well-branded corporations often have the luxury of fully staffed marketing departments to help develop an effective hotel distribution strategy. Managers of independent and small-chain hotels, however, are on their own when it comes to identifying potential revenue streams, determining what works best for their facility, and figuring out how to beat the competition. Below are three tips for analyzing your strategy to determine if you have the right channel mix.


Tip #1: Think Globally, Grow Locally

With good portal management, a hotel can expect to earn roughly half its income from a modern global distribution system (GDS). After that, it’s time to get creative—and maybe start thinking locally.


For instance, a hotel with attractive and well-equipped meeting spaces is probably bringing in another 25% of its total revenue with business meetings and conferences. Even if the hotel is not considered a popular destination locale, local groups and organizations always need meeting space, and a smart hotel manager will fill this need.


Here are some other local connections that could get your hotel’s name in front of a surprisingly large number of potential customers:

  • Local convention and visitors bureaus
  • Local and regional chambers of commerce
  • Colleges and universities
  • Parking facilities
  • Sports teams (professional all the way down to peewee)
  • Entertainment venues


Tip #2: Evaluate Your Online Presence

Look at your hotel’s online presence with an objective eye to determine if the image you’re presenting is appealing to your target customer.

  • Web site—How does your web site compare to the competition’s? This is one instance where it’s perfectly okay to “look off your neighbor’s paper.” Is the copy compelling, and is the site functional? Is it interactive? Are the images of high quality, and are there plenty of them? Is the content search engine optimized?
  • Social media—Does your target customer have a lot of time to spend on social media? For example, busy corporate employees probably don’t, so you wouldn’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time on your Facebook presence. However, if your hotel attracts a lot of college students, you might start posting regularly on Twitter or Instagram.


Tip #3: Conduct a Cost/Benefit Analysis

To develop the right mix of distribution channels for your hotel, don’t just throw things out there and wait to see if something “sticks.” Open a spreadsheet and do a cost/benefit analysis.

  • Estimate the demand for each channel. For example, would your typical customer pay extra for exclusive amenities like a flexible check-in, tiered-speed Internet, or a streamlined check-in? Would your customer be interested in gift cards?
  • Determine which channels are most likely to attract potential customers, convert them into paying customers, and keep them coming back.
  • Divide your limited resources accordingly.
  • Develop a strategy to track how much revenue each channel generates.
  • Monitor the competition to determine where you’re going head-to-head and where your facility is tapping a previously ignored niche.


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