Online travel channel sales a success!

Those that have been hard at work investing the resources and effort to implement online sales channels have reported sales success! In a relatively short time ResRequest properties have reported that online sales channels have added impressive revenue cream every business owner dreams of.

With internet penetration increasing and customers taking to the web, building a strong online sales strategy appears to be a lucrative strategic investment for ResRequest properties. There are several options available to our ResRequest customers which we have documented in our Online Options Book. One aspect of an online sales strategy is investing in online sales channels. These channels are websites who act as web-based travel agents. Their entire focus is on finding ways to attract keen buyers to their websites in order to make a sale.

In the past, availability, rates and bookings were manually co-ordinated between the channel and the property and only big hotel chains could invest in automating business with channels. This has changed with the introduction of interfaces between reservation systems. We are now able to communicate electronically and automatically send availability, rates and bookings from ResRequest to these channels through our connector module.

Our clients were cautious with their approach to this new sales area until the end of last year when a few pioneer ResRequest properties invested resources, time and patience into an online channel strategy. In a few months these properties established relationships with online vendor agents such as Expedia, Agoda and Booking.com. They setup the ResRequest channel connector module and started working with their vendor partners to ensure that they get the best return on their channel investment.

Soon after this effort, rumblings of unprecedented earnings reached our ears and we enthusiastically celebrated our client’s successful forage into this exciting new revenue stream.

By now you’re either dreaming of creamy financials or salivating over your keyboard and waiting for the sign pointing toward the holy grail. So here it is, the key ingredients you will need for this new sales model are: your resources to setup and manage this channel strategy (remember this takes time and effort), a connection between ResRequest and the channel, and a relationship with each channel.

channels1

Let’s review each of these ingredients closer.

ALLOCATE RESOURCES

To get value from this new revenue stream, you will need to invest the resources, time and patience to manage your channels.

I can almost hear you sigh saying: “I thought you said this was ‘online’?” And I did say online, but online channels are just an ‘e’ version of a travel agent. You are the product, the channel is the agent and ResRequest electronically connects your data together.

You are still ultimately doing business with a company that has specific rules and methods of working. The electronic connection is simply automating the detailed data lookups. You still need to nurture relationships, negotiate rates, manage specials and stay in touch with your channel partner so that you can be sure to deploy all the tricks to get your property listed at the top of their search engine!

The technical connection between the channel and ResRequest is just one part of others needed to make this work for you. Properties who have seen success from their online channels are the properties that have allocated resources internally to develop and deploy a channel strategy. They have recognised that like any sales strategy, dedication and effort are required to make it work.

SETUP RESREQUEST CONNECTOR

ResRequest has developed a connection bridge to three connector partners: Nightsbridge, eRes and SynXis. Each of these connector partners distribute your data to a host of channels and travel websites.

The diagram below illustrates how your ResRequest data electronically reaches your channel partner.

Online-Configuration

 

Even with a connector in place, there are still data setups that need to be managed in both the connector partner and the channel partner’s system. This is another reason an allocated resource is necessary!
MEET CHANNEL PARTNERS

There are a host of channels available through each ResRequest connection partner. Some of these channels are for listed searches only while others deal in online availability and sales.

Two of the most successful channels amongst our pioneer properties are Expedia and Agoda. We contacted these popular channels to find out who our lodges can talk to in order to become more familiar with the type of business they can bring you and how they work. To find out more about what these renown channels can offer you, click the links below:

See our detailed Channels List for a list of channels offered by our channel managers.

Remember that you will need to establish a relationship with each channel you choose to do business with. That allocated resource should also fill this role perfectly!


What does it cost me?

Along with investing resources in this project, be prepared for connection fees and, of course, the channel commission. The general price expectation is: (Your Resource & Time) + (ResRequest Connector Fee + Channel Manager Fee) + the Channel’s Commission.

Here is a breakdown of these costs:

ChannelPricing

These prices are subject to change and should be confirmed by the respective vendor.

What next?

If you are interested in taking the next step, contact our Call Centre so that we can talk you through the process.

 


See related Online Options topics:

Online Options for ResRequest Customers (Overview)Sell Bed Nights to Direct Guests on Your Website
Sell Bed Nights to Agents
Sell Bed Nights through Partner Sites
Sell Bed Nights through ResConnect Agents
Sell Bed Nights through Mass Market channels

 

Online connections | What’s available?

Reaping the benefits of online booking channels sounds appealing until you hit the Google search button. The vast volume of results leave most people feeling intimidated or exhausted before they even click ‘Next’. 

As the online inventory and availability distribution hub, ResRequest plays a key role in working with our channel and technology partners and customers to identify online booking options that clients can embrace, turning this online challenge into an exciting opportunity.

To help you kickstart your blueprint to success, we have identified the online booking options available to you, their pitfalls, successes and general industry trends.

 

Channel Options

Your website. Your investment in a great web design is to excite customers about your product and lead them to buy. Once your customer has made a commitment to purchase, they ask for price and availability, which culminates in a sale. For this reason close to 90% of our clients proactively engage in showing rates and availability on their website.

Luxury / remote lodges are less confident of the value of creating bookings and processing credit cards directly from their website. Reasons for look-to-book reluctance includes fears that guests will not be able to arrange complicated transfers. In addition lodges are concerned that automating bookings sidesteps the value of building a relationship between the customer and their product. To top these concerns, many lodges are wary of how partner agents may react to them openly targeting the direct market.

As a result of all these concerns, we see a more cautious approach to creating bookings online, resulting in clients favouring availability displays with an easy-to-use enquiry form.

However, over the last year we have seen an increase in creating bookings with close to 5% of our clients implementing this functionality on their website. We believe that, even though lodge consumers may continue to need personal interaction with reservation offices or agents, over the next 2 years online bookings will become an expected norm from direct and travel trade.

 

Your business partners. Over time, marketing groups have formed with the objective of stimulating travel in niche markets. Some of these groups are commercial ventures, while others are informal associations born from like-minded neighbouring properties. This year saw an increase in interest for marketing groups and regional availability, where independent / neighbouring properties are interested in publishing availability on a collaborative web-page. Approximately 5% of our clients now participate in this type of online channel. This is a market sector that is growing in popularity and benefits both direct guests and travel trade.

 

Specialist agents. Ask any agent or tour operator and they will tell you that a large portion of their success is the skill with which they are able to quickly prepare a customised itinerary. Giving specialist agents access to your stock means that agents are able to prepare and respond to requests for quotations faster then their competitors. More then 70% of our clients allow agents to access stock through our agent module, with close to 3% allowing agents to create bookings.

To enable agents with their own systems to electronically extract rate and availability from multiple clients, we have developed an auxiliary product, ResConnect. Approximately 90% of our clients have established relationships with our agent partners who use ResConnect.

 

Mass market channels / Global Distribution Systems (GDS). Travel sites reported significant 2011 revenues: Expedia $3.45 billion, Amadeus at E2,7 billion. With revenues like these it is understandable that every hotel would love to tap into those markets. So why are lodges cautious of tapping into these very lucrative channels?

Lodges have many concerns with these channels. Concerns include the effect of boycotts by specialist travel agents and tour operators. Lodges also fear that channels will create a price war climate that will ultimately result in cheapening their products and forcing rack rates to drop. In addition lodges have logistical fears that these channels have no concern for the guest’s knowledge or ability to transfer to and from complicated, remote locations. There is also a fear that web-savvy consumers receiving an unexpected experience will complain on public forums such as Tripadvisor and Twitter, tarnishing a lodge’s reputation.

It is clear that the lodge industry have not yet understood if and how this market sector could be valuable to them. Among our clients we see 3 opinions: clients who are adamant this sector will not work for them, clients who are cautious but tempted to experiment and clients who embrace these channels as a new type of agent.

Despite these fears, this year we have seen our first 16 properties tap into these channels. Early evidence suggests that once the connection is established, marketing effort is then required to ensure that trends and product pricing align with each partner site’s requirements, to ensure that the lodge will be listed high in relevant searches.

 

Considerations

“Where does ResRequest fit in?”
Each channel option requires a specific strategy and project plan and ResRequest is an integral part of this strategy. To demonstrate where ResRequest fits in and how you can use the online Channels available to you, we have created a Connections starter document. Please download this file for more information.

“Do the bookings roll in once I’m connected?”
A common misconception about online channels is that because they are automated, they will generate business immediately. This is a myth, marketing effort is required to manage and understand how to sell bednights effectively on each channel.

Approach this as a completely new way of promoting your product by investing in managing and understanding each connection model, and they will become exciting new opportunities to sell bed nights.

For consulting advice on setting up online channels contact our support centre: support@resrequest.com