The hospitality industry is a diverse and complex landscape. One of the most important aspects of this industry is distribution, which refers to the process of getting hotel inventory to consumers through various channels. With the rise of online travel agencies (OTAs), hoteliers must navigate a complex distribution landscape to maximize their revenue and reach as many potential guests as possible.

Why do hotels use third-party distribution channels?

  1. Increased Exposure

    By listing their properties on third-party channels, hotels can reach a wider audience than they might be able to on their own. This can be especially useful for independent or small hotels that don’t have the resources to invest in large-scale marketing campaigns or distribution networks.

  2. Access to Technology

    Third-party channels often invest heavily in technology to optimize their search and booking processes, which can be expensive for hotels to develop and maintain on their own. By partnering with these channels, hotels can benefit from this technology without having to invest significant resources.

  3. Cost-Effective Marketing

    Third-party channels offer hotels a cost-effective way to market their properties, as they typically charge a commission on bookings rather than upfront fees. This can be especially beneficial for hotels that are just starting or have limited marketing budgets.

  4. Competitive Edge

    Partnering with third-party channels can help hotels compete with larger brands by providing access to a wider audience and more advanced technology.

  5. Distribution Management

    Third-party channels can help hotels manage their distribution by providing a single platform to manage their listings, inventory, and pricing across multiple channels. This can save hotels time and resources compared to managing their distribution independently.

In the past, hotel distribution was relatively straightforward, with most bookings being made directly through the hotel or through traditional travel agents. However, the rise of the internet and the proliferation of OTAs has greatly expanded the distribution landscape, creating new challenges and opportunities for hotels.

What are the different distribution channels available for the hotels?

Today, hotels have a variety of distribution channels available to them. These include online travel agencies (OTAs), global distribution systems (GDS), metasearch engines, direct booking channels, and more.

  1. OTAs are perhaps the most well-known distribution channel in the hotel industry. These companies, such as and Expedia, allow hotels to list their inventory on their websites, making it available to millions of potential guests around the world. In exchange, the OTAs take a commission on each booking.
  2. GDSs are another important distribution channel for hotels. These systems provide a global distribution platform for travel agents and allow hotels to reach a wider audience of potential guests.
  3. Metasearch engines, such as Google Hotel Ads and TripAdvisor, allow users to compare hotel rates and availability across multiple channels, including OTAs and direct booking channels. This can help hotels increase their visibility and attract more bookings.
  4. Direct booking channels, such as a hotel’s own website or mobile app, can also be an important distribution channel. By encouraging guests to book directly, hotels can avoid paying commissions to OTAs and have more control over the booking process.

In addition to these traditional distribution channels, hotels can also take advantage of newer technologies, such as chatbots and voice assistants, to reach potential guests. For example, a hotel might use a chatbot on their website or Facebook page to answer guest questions and help them book a room.

Navigating the distribution landscape can be challenging for hotels, as each channel has its own benefits and drawbacks. However, by using a combination of channels and leveraging the latest technologies, hotels can reach more guests and maximize their revenue.

Ultimately, the key to success in the hotel industry is to understand the distribution landscape and use it to your advantage. By partnering with the right OTAs, utilizing meta-search engines, and promoting direct bookings, hotels can ensure they are reaching the widest possible audience and maximizing their revenue potential.

Further Read: Why Metasearch is critical for your Direct Bookings Strategy