Want to crack the code and develop effective global distribution strategies? Know that most of the time, simpler is better for everyone involved, from the manager to the customer.
Cracked Code #1: Rating Games
Let’s start with how to define your hotel’s rate codes. Many hotels with their own independent central reservation systems (CRS) develop their own “language” to assign special rates to certain customer segments (military, business, weekend, mid-week, special holiday rates, and more).
The problem arises when you input your hotel’s unique rate codes into whatever global distribution system (GDS) you use. If your hotel’s rate codes don’t match up with the codes the GDS uses for the same customer segment, your hotel won’t appear when an online travel agent (OTA) uses those criteria to look for rooms.
Happily, all you have to do is ask for a list of your GDS’s rate codes and—just as important—descriptions of what each code means. Once these codes align, you won’t miss out on any opportunities to sell a stay.
Cracked Code #2: Digital Footprints
If one of your global distribution strategies is to appeal to a customer who appreciates high-quality facilities, amenities, and service, don’t settle for less than high-quality digital images. This goes for the entire scope of the hotel’s online presence, from web site to GDS presence to social media interfaces.
Tip: For your hotel’s public face, it’s worth it to invest in the services of a professional photographer. Also consider that what you think is your hotel’s “best face” may not be what the customer finds the most appealing. Think about what types of customers book a stay at different times of the year, whether it’s vacationing families in the summer or business retreat customers in the colder months. Think about what’s important to those customers, and rotate your online images accordingly.
Tip: Monitor what pictures your customers post online in places like TripAdvisor and Facebook. If they’re great photos, interact with customers by thanking them and inviting them back. If it shows a flaw in your maintenance program, interact by thanking the customer for calling your attention to the problem, and deal with it promptly. Then post an “after” picture of your own!
Cracked Code #3: Global Distribution Strategies—PPC Spotlights
Similarly, your hotel’s pay-per-click (PPC) advertising strategy should evolve with the seasonal ups and downs of your target customer base. PPC is an excellent opportunity to gain equal visibility with competing hotels while spotlighting what’s unique about your particular facility and what you can offer that other hotels don’t.
Tip: If you’re serious about PPC advertising, don’t run just one campaign at a time, or even just two or three. Dip all your advertising toes in the water at once! Running up to ten PPC campaigns at a time allows you to more easily monitor which keywords are performing well (that is, translating into bookings), allowing you to tweak or eliminate those that aren’t. Experimentation is your friend, and particularly suited to this type of advertising.
Tip: Monitoring your hotel PPC campaigns doesn’t mean logging in once a month. It requires touching base much more often, such as on a daily basis during peak travel season.
Cracked Code #4: Think Global, Act Local
Getting customers through the door means more than casting your online advertising net far and wide. Look closer to home, and think about attracting local customers.
Tip: Think about what your hotel has to offer the community. The same chef that wows wedding reception guests and business meeting attendees can draw local customers to the hotel restaurant. Hotels situated near a major sports or concert venue can offer area residents a room package in conjunction with a special event.
The online world is constantly changing. Make sure your global distribution strategies are evolving with it. For expert advice, contact us today.