Think of a time when you want to buy something that you have been wanting for a long time. Did you do enough research and due diligence? Now that you are nodding your head in agreement, think about the sources of your research; friends & family and internet would be the top two go to source for information, suggestion, and reconfirmation.
Similarly, planning a vacation or a business trip is super important to people. While vacation planning is a fun activity, most travelers take it very seriously and want to ensure that they get the best of all worlds during the time off their mundane routine. Hence, booking a great hotel for their stay is a crucial component of this phase. The good thing from a traveler’s perspective is there are a wide variety of choices available in each budget segment. The difficult thing is to shortlist and choose one hotel. Research and due diligence take the front seat here!
One of the major sources for travelers to either discover or carry out due diligence on your hotel is online via travel review sites like TripAdvisor. The fact that TripAdvisor recently announced that there are now over 500 million reviews on their platform is a testimonial to the growing importance of managing good online reputation for hoteliers. Even all OTAs today provide the ability for travelers to add reviews and rating on their platform to help guests make a quick and informed decision.
More than 50% of TripAdvisor users say they will not book a hotel if it has no reviews according to research carried out by the company. The PhoCusWright study reveals TripAdvisor 87% of users feel more confident in their decision when they read the reviews and 98% quoted they find them ‘accurate of the actual experience’
What does this mean for your hotel?
Well, essentially two things –
1) It is important to be online and discoverable on all online hotel channels including OTAs, Metasearch sites, travel review sites etc.
2) It is even more important to track, monitor and improve online reputation for your hotel.
In essence, both won’t work well in absence of either or if you don’t use powerful technology to make this process automated, faster & effective. Hotel distribution and online reputation strategy must work in tandem to ensure RevPAR management.
The well-known tool; Channel Management/OTA management in the Hotel Industry
With Emerging Role of Hotel Revenue Managers, amongst other emerging roles and tasks, hotel channel management is one of the most valuable functions today. We all will agree to this as the need for continuously updating the hotel’s inventory across all distribution channels has become of immense importance. A recent study by Phocuswright reveals that between 61-75% of travelers in the developed markets use an OTA to book their hotel, which makes it clear why employing a hotel channel manager software is utmost important and will also provide a big opportunity for booking number expansion. Hoteliers today clearly see how automated distribution systems improve their revpar management, enhancing their yield manifold.
The function has greatly matured over the years, where a few clicks can give you a panoramic vision of the whole inventory, enabling rooms to be displayed on different portals simultaneously.
Well, we have already bid adieu to the manual ways of management. With increasing demands and dynamic nature of this business, it was a big challenge to ensure an accurate display of inventory and the rates across all platforms, which at times lead to confusion and difficulty in optimizing each channel diligently. The role of a hotel channel manager, therefore, becomes crucial.
Automation has emerged as the new order of the day. A hotel channel manager, through centralized management, ensures that as soon as a room is booked through any of the OTAs, the availability is automatically reduced across all channels, which helps in avoiding overbooking and any other kind of issues that might arise.
Online Reputation Manager; Your compulsory Friend to Increase Hotel Bookings
Of late, the hospitality industry has made its way into the big world of online reputation management, where improving reviews and ratings in the online space play an extremely big role. A recent report reveals that 59% of travelers feel review sites and social media has the maximum influence on their booking decisions, and 50% of the guests will not book a room in a hotel that has no reviews.
Clearly, hoteliers are left with no choice, but sit up and keep a check on how their brand is being portrayed in the online world. Moreover, think about developing an appropriate guest survey strategy to keep same in your favor. Yes, it is important to convey to your guests that you care. Moreover, monitoring guest feedback system will also provide valuable insights for your business and determine areas where you could improve your services. All this helps build a bright image of the hotel in the long term and boosting revpar management of the hotel.
Now, since the reviews are posted on multiple sites, it might be a little trouble to manually view all of them and to make sure that none goes unattended. This is again, where technology comes to your rescue and saves the day for you.
There are ORM tools available to collect and aggregate review scores from multiple online sources. Hoteliers can easily track their average online review scores, along with the scores of the competition. Any necessary adjustments can then be made to the hotel operations, based on the findings.
How Channel Manager and Online Reputation Manager Go Hand in Hand
The digital age of today demands utmost attention from the industry, as we see the image of the hotels being mostly created or destroyed on social media and review site, which seems to have the power to make or break.
Nevertheless, hoteliers need not worry as technology helps you here too. In such a scenario, a combination of a channel manager and an online reputation manager is what you need. A miss in any of these tools could be a danger alarm for the future of the hotels. Without fail, such a strategy will work wonders with the hotel’s RevPAR management and maximise revenue.
Interestingly, while most hotels do have a channel manager for distributing their inventory online, they seem to conveniently ignore or stay oblivious to the fact that travelers who will come to book your hotel on an OTA site will also look for guest reviews of your hotel, underestimating the potential returns from the same. Little do they realize that poor online reputation management could greatly damage the identity of the hotel, causing some serious booking losses. While some Revenue Managers feel that managing guest reviews is a complicated affair, where there is already the availability of advanced software, which allows you to easily collate reviews to give you a score.
It becomes the natural priority of a hotel to maximise its revenue from all the sales channels, which is incomplete without positive guest feedback. With growing digitisation of hospitality sector, Hotel distribution & Online Reputation Strategy is key to RevPAR Management.
While a channel manager ensures management of inventory in the most dynamic way in the online world, an online reputation manager can control what the world has to say about the hotel in the most dignified way. Both, together, can fuel the hotel bookings and pave way for hotel’s success.
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