Home Tech GDS The 2012 Do’s & Don’ts of Hotel Distribution Part II

The 2012 Do’s & Don’ts of Hotel Distribution Part II

Mar 29, 2012  By 
  2012 Don’ts of Hotel Distribution

1. Don’t Participate in Flash Sales/Social Buying Sites

While flash sales may address the hotel’s immediate needs – occupancy – they do considerably more damage than good in the long run.

With heavily discounted rates out in the open, flash sales have inherently flawed business models, causing your hotel to rebuke the principles of rate parity (one of the do’s of hotel distribution!), to breach existing agreements with corporate accounts and OTAs, to diminish its brand integrity and to create the perception that rooms are always on sale!

The most powerful reason to forget flash sales and social buying sites is “The Law of Unintended Channel Share Loss”: Any booking via the most discounted channel (i.e. flash sale sites like Groupon or Living Social or BloomSpot or OTAs) is one fewer booking for the same hotel via its own website, call center or GDS. These sites also lead to the cannibalization of the hotel’s existing loyal consumer base as 65% of daily deal buyers are already frequent (38%) or infrequent (27%) customers of that business (ForeSee, 6/11).

- During urgent need periods, consider the following options:

- Launch a limited-time offer and promote it via:

The hotel website with a promotional slide on the Home page or a highly visible tile

- Dedicated SEM campaigns on Google and Yahoo/Bing

- An email newsletter to the hotel’s opt-in list

- The hotel’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+ pages

- Online or email sponsorships to main feeder markets

- Blog posts on the hotel’s blog

- Launch a 24-hour sale on an OTA while simultaneously promoting it on the hotel’s website as described above

- Do an opaque OTA promotion on Priceline or HotWire.

2. Don’t Do Last-Minute Discounts via OTAs or Mobile Discounters

Both hotels and airlines manage perishable inventory, so rather than launching a last-minute Groupon or sale with HotelTonight, why not take a cue from the airline industry? The closer to the date of departure or check-in at the hotel, the higher the rate – not the other way around.

Mobile is by nature a last-minute distribution channel. Most hotel mobile bookings are for the same or following night; therefore, these bookings will occur in any case without discounting. Use mobile SEM and SMS marketing for last-minute reservations, but market your true best available rates and avoid the temptation to discount.

For additional same-day bookings and last-minute sales, opaque sites such as Priceline and HotWire are preferable to flash sale sites as they maintain brand integrity until the booking is completed.

3. Don’t Use Social Media as a Distribution Channel

Social media is not a distribution channel, and it was not designed as a sales platform to sell rooms. Use social media instead for customer engagement, customer service, customer relationship management (CRM), branding, awareness, etc.

Social media is best managed at the property level and needs to be monitored 24/7/365. Establish onsite champions who will speak with a consistent brand voice, provide exemplary customer service and serve as models of the hotel’s product.

Use a full-service digital marketing agency for training, auditing, recommendations and technical design and build-out for custom tabs, backgrounds, widgets, sweepstakes, etc.

Post, tweet, respond and repeat!

4.  Don’t Manage Promotions via the OTAs in Isolation


When 24- or 48-hour sales on OTAs are “necessary” to increase occupancy immediately, do not neglect the hotel’s own website. Though Expedia will not allow you to promote the same offer on Priceline, its “rate police” will not stop you from opening the same rate or package on your own site.

- Sales on OTAs should be cross-promoted on your website and within the following direct marketing campaigns:

- Dedicated SEM campaigns on Google and Yahoo/Bing

- An email newsletter to the hotel’s opt-in list

- The hotel’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+ pages

- Online or email sponsorships to main feeder markets

Blog posts on the hotel’s blog

- When looking to immediately increase profits, forgetting the most profitable channel is the hotelier’s biggest downfall. To be informed is to be empowered!

5. Don’t Pin High Hopes on the New “Anti-OTA” Players

Don’t put all your hotel’s eggs into fancy new baskets. New hotel meta-search sites such as RoomKey.com, MyBestHotelRate.com and GlobalHotelExchange.com will have a very difficult time gaining traction with travel consumers in this highly competitive online travel marketplace; therefore, they won’t become the “big players” that deserve your revenue manager’s time. Though perceived as industry-friendly, these new sites provide no unique value proposition to the travel consumer. Additionally, it is prohibitively expensive to establish a new travel consumer brand. The last two major travel brands to be established were Orbitz (2003) and Kayak.com (2004).


While the do’s of hotel distribution are largely self-explanatory, the don’ts have more critical implications. Not all that glitters is gold, and “new” doesn’t always mean improved, particularly in the case of the latest anti-OTA players.

In this dynamic industry, it is important to stay on top of quickly moving trends, prioritize initiatives that generate direct online bookings and be flexible enough to continuously adjust digital marketing campaigns for optimal, time-sensitive results. As always, count on the basics and stick to proven methods to drive exponential ROIs.

Partner with digital marketing experts who will prioritize driving direct online revenues for your hotel, and who will keep you up-to-date on best practices and proactively bring forth ideas to generate the highest website revenues and ROIs.

Work with a team of savvy digital marketers who will show you new ways to recoup lost opportunities, teach you how to stay on top of changes in the industry, and provide your hotel and team with real value, not just a service.


This artical was wrote by By Max Starkov & Lauren DeGeorge

About Max Starkov

Max Starkov

Max Starkov is President & CEO of HeBS Digital, the hospitality industry’s leading digital technology, full-service marketing and direct online channel consulting firm. Max is a recognized “thought leader” in Internet

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