Global Distribution Strategies: Directing Traffic

Managing all your global distribution channels can make you feel like a traffic cop at a busy intersection. No matter how vigorously you wave your arms, some channels just aren’t going to follow directions. To keep from standing by helplessly as your global distribution strategies go the wrong way down a one-way street, stick to a few simple rules.

Rule #1: Go Where Your Customers Are

Is your target customer a Facebook fanatic or a Conde Nast connoisseur? A Fodor’s foodie or a TripAdvisor top reviewer? Wherever they gather, that’s where you should be to experience the conversation. Learn what they want, need, and expect from a hotel stay. Learn what they’re saying about your hotel—and your competition. You can “lurk” to just listen in, or interact by responding to positive and negative reviews and posting useful travel information on the forums. Be very careful not to appear like you’re there to sell; instead, give general and timely travel tips, which are much appreciated. For example, someone who’s never traveled to your region might like to know what to pack for the weather conditions or receive a heads-up about construction projects that could impact their travel plans.

Rule #2: Work with OTAs

Many hotels may turn their noses up at online travel agents as a channel with little profit potential. However, they’re often a great way to get your hotel’s name in front of potential customers who don’t tend to be brand loyal.

Rule #3: Change with the Times

The content requirements for online distribution channels are constantly changing, so periodically review each site to make sure you’re meeting those requirements. Otherwise, your hotel could quickly lose visibility.

Rule #4: ‘Click’ with the Customer

Remember to keep your hotel’s main web site as simple to navigate as possible, especially for the ever-growing smart phone customer. A customer should be able to book a room in as few clicks or taps as possible, and a smart phone customer would like the same array of tools available as a traditional PC customer.

Rule #5: Pick Your Booking Channels Carefully

Channels that direct customers back to your branded web site are always preferable, though some sites like Facebook are evolving to the point a customer can make a reservation directly from a business’s page. A rapidly growing “traffic cop” is Google Hotel Finder. It’s worth your time to check into how it works and how to get your hotel listed.

Rule #6: Consider Same-Day Bookings

Finally, don’t overlook the possibility of offering last-minute, same-day deals via mobile platforms. Many hotel managers shy away from these because they fear underselling to customers who aren’t in their target market. However, done correctly, this can be a way to attract new customers and cement the brand loyalty of existing customers.

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