In the introduction post to Systems Reliability blog series, we discussed a high-level overview of the different types of systems and common challenges that we often hear from our potential customers. In this blog series, we will discuss one of the most frequently discussed issues which is a lack of integrations and interfaces.
According to a study conducted by Phocuswright for European and North American properties, Technology use among independent lodging properties is at a basic level. While many use Internet booking engines, only a small number have implemented more sophisticated technologies such as channel managers or (even fewer) a customer relationship management (CRM) system that might help control their marketing and distribution more effectively.
Obviously, the first step in achieving a well-integrated system is to invest in a reliable channel manager. This is a very valuable investment that will show strong ROI, save you a lot of time, and allow you to market your hotel on a huge variety of channels. It´s also a great way to more evenly spread your distribution. When shopping for a channel manager, here are some important questions to ask, in regard to reliability, integrations and interfaces.
Ask for a list of the provider’s current available distribution channels. A well-connected channel manager should have hundreds of channels available and new connection requests can be made. Available channels should also include the following:
- Major and local OTAs
- Wholesale partners
- Metasearch engines
Ideally, with the above-mentioned connections in place, you will only have to make rate and availability updates in 1 central system.
Another good question to ask is the type of connection available for each of your important channels. What type of updates you can make, concerning the following factors:
- Room availability
- Room rates
- Minimum length of stay
- Close to arrivals
- Pooled inventory
It is important to understand this, as the distribution partner might lack suitable technology in their extranets, thereby making some updates impossible.
To take a step further, is your channel manager connected to your PMS, CRS and RMS, and if so, how does this functionality work? What type of integration is possible including rates, availability, restrictions and reservation delivery?
The following chart below shows the ideal technology connectivity and integration flow for distribution.
The structure in the above chart is what your hotel should strive for in terms of distribution integration. It is obviously an investment for the hotel but well worth it, allowing you to save precious time by cutting down on manual and repetitive tasks. More time can be spent on decision making and fast reactive decisions that can be pushed out to the market within seconds. The key to driving more market share is quick reaction and speed to market which this integrated environment allows.