3 keys to an effective hotel distribution strategy

Your distribution strategy, in many respects, is the key to your reservations success at your hotel.

The more you distribute the rooms and services that you offer at your hotel, the more guests you will attract and the more your hotel will grow.

Developing an effective distribution strategy is critical, and implementing it carefully is an even more important step.

Here are three key steps to creating a successful hotel distribution strategy:

  1. Business mix optimisation

Understanding the different traveller segments who book at your property allows you to diversify your business mix and optimise your distribution strategy.

In most cases, travellers can be broken down into two different groups: lower-yield segments and higher-yield segments. Lower-yield segments often derive from wholesalers.

These guests will book your rooms early, but they also have a tendency to book your rooms throughout the entire year. Higher-yield segments are often generated from OTAs and even your own hotel booking engine.

These guests may book their rooms shortly before they arrive, and often pay higher prices for rooms because of their last-minute approach.

They may book just a few days before they arrive, and may have a tendency to book during the peak travel season in your region.

  1. Overview of online and offline channels

Your distribution strategy needs to include a diverse range of channels, both online and offline. This allows you to promote your hotel property to the greatest number of guests from around the world.

Online channels to work with include OTAs, your own direct booking engine through your website and social media platforms. Offline channels that you should consider partnering with include voice reservation services as well as wholesalers and tour operators.

With online channels, your hotel marketing campaigns are able to reach every corner of the earth. An increasing number of travellers are relying on online travel sites in order to research prices, opportunities and activities for their upcoming trips.

Without online channels, you will be left behind in the past as the rest of the industry moves forward into the future.

While online channels are pivotal, offline channels are not obsolete. Offline channels have the ability to attract local residents as well as older travellers who may not be as comfortable working with the Internet.

  1. Technology to tie it all together

Developing a pricing strategy and establishing distribution channels is an important part of your overall distribution strategy, but it’s not complete until you invest in the right technology to seamlessly tie all of these components together.

A business solution designed specifically for hotels will allow you to connect with your various distribution channels, update your pricing based on market demands and consumer trends, and maximise your bookings.

You will want to include a direct online booking engine, a channel manager, and a property management system in your hotel technology suite.

How to make direct bookings even sweeter with extras

Extras are an inextricable element of your hotel’s direct booking strategy. It’s a win-win situation: they enhance your guests’ experience while increasing your profit.

Tnooz recently released fascinating statistics around extras that will help you improve your up-sell and cross-sell strategies across the board.

  • Overall, 15% of guests will purchase extras at the time of booking.
  • Guests who book 1-7 days in advance of their trip are 3x more likely to purchase extras when they book.
  • Guests who book 7-21 days in advance are actually 5x more likely to purchase extras when they book.
  • Travel parties of 1-2 people are most likely to purchase extras that are available at your hotel, such as a bottle of wine or in-room breakfast.
  • Travel parties of more than 3 people are most likely to purchase outside extras, such as tours, activities and dining reservations. Partner with local businesses in order to earn commission for these bookings!

These facts and figures make it clear that extras are not just a passing trend — they’re a set of complementary products that you should always try to tweak and improve at your hotel.

Here’s a few ideas to consider when it comes to selling extras at the time of booking:

Shuttle services

Many travellers like to use public transportation or simply walk from place to place once they have arrived in their destination.

This means that they will not be renting a car, and may prefer the convenience of a shuttle from the airport directly to your hotel property.

By offering shuttle services as an extra at your hotel, you can allow them to conveniently book everything they need at once.

Products and gifts

Products and gifts are a popular extra amongst guests, specifically those who are celebrating a special occasion on their trip.

Champagne bottles, fresh, local fruit and local wine are marketable extras that you can up-sell to your guests at the time of booking.

Tours and activities

More and more, travellers are looking for one-stop shopping when it comes to planning their holidays. By offering room packages that include local tours or activities, you will appeal to these time-savvy travellers.

In addition to earning the extra revenue on the booking package, you’ll probably be able to earn a commission from the tour company that you partner with in your area. This is a wonderful way to boost the local travel industry while generating additional business for yourself.

And of course, your guest wins with the perfect hotel stay and tour or activity experience.

Use a booking engine like Roomier that allows your guests to purchase these products and services at the time of their reservation. Request a demo to see how it works.

Drive more hotel bookings: 5 ways to make sure your hotel packages rock

Does your property offer packages?

By ‘packages’ we mean special rates for accommodation paired with something extra. That extra could have some in-house value – such as free breakfast or parking – or it could be an off-premise experience, such as tickets to a local attraction.

We’ll go out on a limb and just say it – packages are passé.

At least, the ones with common offers that don’t differentiate one hotel from another. Haven’t we all come to expect a bed and breakfast price everywhere we stay?

So with this in mind, how can your property stand out?

Increase hotel bookings with higher price points

Special offers and value-added packages will increase bookings at higher price points, but it helps when they have intriguing themes that get noticed. The best ones we’ve found have one or more of the following qualities:

  • They incorporate local culture and attractions
  • They serve niche demographic markets or lifestyles
  • They tie in to holidays or special commemorative days
  • They include an extreme or quirky experience
  • They incorporate ultra-luxury, high-end elements

Let’s take a look at 5 great examples of hotel packages for inspiration…

1. Show off local culture and attractions

At the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas, the ‘Cowboy it Up’ package plays on local history and heritage.

This deal includes amenities – such as two pairs of cowboy boots, two Stetson hats, and a cooler with local craft beers and housemade beef jerky – as well as a target shooting session and a grilling demonstration.

“Our packages are always highly anticipated because they are so creative and elaborate,” said general manager Arthur Coulombe.

“This one strikes a chord because it showcases our unique Texas Hill Country ambiance, with a tip of the hat to our proud western culture.”

2. Serve your guests looking for a niche

Look at those speciality markets that you serve. Families with children, pet owners, or people in specific occupations will all appreciate the extra attention.

It’s always wise to cater to kids, so think about activities the whole family can enjoy.

The Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands recently introduced the ’Under The Sea’ package with a mix of active and educational adventure, including stand up paddle boarding, swimming with sea turtles, snorkeling excursions, night kayaking, and admission to the St. Thomas Coral World Ocean Park.

Even small properties can offer intriguing packages. At the Caldwell House Bed and Breakfast in New York’s Hudson Valley, active military are entitled to a special ‘At Ease’ offer that includes a visit to the nearby United States Military Academy at West Point.

The Alfond Inn in Winter Park, Florida offers a VIP (“Very Important Pup”) package that welcomes guests to stay in dog-friendly rooms with their pets. Four-legged guests receive complimentary keepsake water bowls, a private dog walker session, and turndown treats. For each package that’s booked, the inn makes a donation to The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

3. Commemorate important dates

Another option is to tie in your package to an upcoming holiday or other significant date.

The advantage to this is while that phrase is trending in the news, there’s a greater chance that your package will be discovered in conjunction with it. The disadvantage is that it could have a finite shelf life, unless you extend it or re-introduce it the following year.

This year, the Bulgari Hotel in London offered a “Royal Package” to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday.

The three-night stay included chauffeur service; private wine tasting; a tour of the royal parks, Westminster Abbey and Kensington Palace; and a riverboat trip to Henley-on-Thames with lunch at the historic Cliveden House.

To commemorate ‘Be a Millionaire Day’ (May 20 for those interested), the Sonesta Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida offers a ‘Be a Millionaire’ package available through August.

Deep-pocketed guests who want to live like a millionaire stay in a two-bedroom suite with an on-call chauffeur, in-room champagne and caviar; a private yacht excursion with a professional photography session; and a pair of freshwater pearl earrings.

4. Think outside the box and go OTT

If your clientele isn’t looking for money-saving packages, you can make your hotel stand out with over-the-top amenities. Incorporate luxury goods and services, like cars.

At the Mandarin Oriental in Prague, the two-night ‘Electrifying Prague’ package provides guests complimentary use of the all-electric BMW i3.

In Italy, Il Salviatino in Florence and Palazzo Victoria in Verona offer the Gran Turismo experience including a self-driven Ferrari tour between Florence and Verona with a stop in Maranello to visit the Ferrari museum.

5. Quirky works, too

Sometimes, the most impactful packages are the ones that get you noticed, even if they don’t bring in that much business. For example, the ‘Ink & Stay’ package at the Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach, California includes a $100 voucher for a tattoo at the nearby Black Rose Tattoo parlour.

The hotel also throws in an ice pack and skin lotion, as well as a bottle of pain-numbing tequila. When the package was introduced, it was covered in major newspapers and online news outlets.

The bottom line here is to be creative. Think about what you can offer within a unique theme, give the package an eye-catching title, and promote it through every marketing channel at your disposal.

Don’t forget….package your packages into your website

The smart hoteliers we mention in this blog are selling these packages on their websites – direct and commission-free. It’s really important to use an online booking engine that can host bespoke packages with flexibility built-in.

There’s no point in creating a local vineyard package if it’s going to be closed during winter but still for sale on your website.

Roomier allows hoteliers to take control of their selling options and packages.