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Why Hotel Distribution Is No Longer a Job, but a Button

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By Mateus Coelho, Regional Manager – Iberia and Brazil, SiteMinder

I read an article recently about the slow demise of publishing. It looked into how publishing is hardly still an industry in today’s day and age, thanks to platforms such as Wordpress which have empowered anybody, from any professional background, based anywhere in the world, to be a publisher of their own content – to a mass audience and in an instant, no less.

It made me wonder whether – or, rather, hope that – one day soon, I’d be reading a similar article about the demise of slow, onerous and manual data entry at hotels. As both someone who flies the hotel technology flag and stays at numerous hotels around the world, I really look forward to that day.

It seems a long way away, though, doesn’t it? But is it possible? I truly believe so.

Thanks to the power of cloud-based channel managers, and the integrations that are made possible through this technology, distribution no longer has to be a job. It's a button. Or, at least, it can be.

The search for hotelier freedom
Over the last few decades, the front desk has evolved from being a physical table to cloud-based software.

It’s an evolution all hoteliers today must be embracing. As Peter O’Connor, professor of information systems and dean of academic programs at Essec Business School, puts it: “Archaic systems aren’t collecting the right data, and when they do (the data is) siloed and can’t be used together."

Interestingly, it’s an issue many hoteliers clearly realize. In late 2015, SiteMinder and Revinate released groundbreaking research which found that, behind managed guest relationships, integrated technology systems were the second most critical need of hoteliers when it came to distribution and online marketing.

The finding was encouraging, as it affirmed that hoteliers are recognizing the freedom modern technology can provide to maintain a property without having to physically be there. And, as we know too well, today’s hoteliers must wear many hats – they need to understand room distribution, online marketing and revenue management just as well as they know hotel operations – so being able to run their property efficiently is both a tremendous benefit and a growing need.

A recent survey by Starfleet Research is further proof of this. Ninety-six percent of those who responded to the survey said the integration of their property management system with different technologies, to create a ‘command and control center’ with a 360-degree view of operations, was either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to them.

Because, with seamless integrations, comes power

In spite of the latest research, sadly too many hoteliers today continue to operate in silos, using on-premise technology rather than solutions which are cloud-based and have the ability to literally connect a hotel property to the world.

I know, for some of these hoteliers, it feels easier to just put up with the technology they are using because of the scars of installing it all those years ago. As our partners from StayNTouch have said, the easiest decision is not to make one. But at what cost?

With mobile phone users being forecast to reach 4.77 billion in numbers in 2017, there are obvious reasons why mobile is continually a hot topic in the trade press and at any major trade conference. However, I find what is often understated is the equal importance of mobility to hoteliers, and, with that, the cruciality of seamless integrations and strong connectivity which lie at the core of automated transactions – and hotelier freedom.

SiteMinder provides a platform that more than 200 property management systems seamlessly connect into today. That's more than any other hotel technology platform, because we believe the front desk should be the single source of data and truth for hoteliers; data that should be shared – distributed – to guests in real-time, with the click of a button.

In late 2016, José Morilla, commercial director of Hoteles Casas y Palacios de España, said the integration of SiteMinder’s Channel Manager with the group’s property management system marked a real “turning point” in the way online bookings were managed. The integration was responsible for lifting the group’s occupancy and average daily rate by fifteen percent that year. Additionally, for Mr Morilla, the integration meant the group could “optimize and sell our rooms right up to the last minute without any fear of being overbooked”.

Hotel distribution doesn’t have to be a full-time job. The integration of a property management system with a cloud-based channel manager not only provides hoteliers a centralized view of their guests’ journey, it provides efficiency that simply wasn’t possible thirty years ago.

Importantly, a tightly-integrated distribution setup significantly lowers costs and provides hotels the tipping point for exponential growth in reaching and converting more guests.

So, will I soon be reading about the demise of slow, onerous and manual data entry at hotels? Only time will tell.

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