How to maximise potential sales on all channels in real time

Without single image inventory, hotel operations are struggling but there are ways to circumvent this and boost efficiency.

Turnaround time for hotel distribution and revenue management teams is of paramount importance in today’s multi-channel environment. While hotel distribution technology continues to evolve, hotel executives believe it is still a work in progress.

Chetan Patel, VP, Strategic Marketing & E-Commerce, Onyx Hospitality Group, says market leading property management system (PMS) tools available today are quite patchy. He believes they get the job done but costs and connectivity lags are limiting factors. He believes the easiest way for a hotel to connect is via a customer relationship system (CRS) with the  other option being channel managers but both options need interface licences that only larger hotels, chains or hotels in expensive destinations can afford.’s Ritesh Gupta talks to Patel about how to rectify this and bring more efficiency in operations.

EFT: Considering the different systems available to managers of hotel operations, how well do these systems communicate with each other?

CP: Currently, there are a number of systems being used, none of which communicate with each other. A scalable cloud-based solution for the hotel industry cannot come soon enough as it is the only way to ensure that an inventory is available to the entire network in real-time (single image inventory). It will allow us to recognise and cater to our top guests and help to optimise the right channels, not just based on room revenue but also on ancillary spend.

EFT: What is the significance of working on full two-way connectivity? What is needed in terms and what are the benefits?

CP: There are many processes to go through. These include:

-          Standardisation of PMS rate codes and entry procedures are critical.

-          Deciding what CRS, channel manager or other systems you want to use to achieve the integration is next.

-          Once satisfied with data integrity, there is a need to link the systems and then do a lot of testing.

This is no small task; a lot of groundwork is needed, not to mention testing and monitoring the smooth flow of data. 

However, once completed, there are many benefits such as:

-          Less admin

-          Almost real-time availability of inventory - as soon as a room is cancelled in the PMS, it goes up for sale online.

-          Data integrity improves meaning there is better data for your CRM and other activities.

EFT: How has real-time connectivity in travel improved? 

CP: Right now, there are a few players with standard compliant interfaces so you can choose to partner with your PMS provider, CRS provider or channel manager for such connections. This wasn’t the case previously.

As the technology becomes simpler and cheaper, hotels can focus more on their operations while reducing admin. The advantages of single image inventory such as maximising potential sales on all available channels in real-time is something we all need to target.  

EFT: When it comes to the PMS and online travel agents, there have been a lot of connectivity issues. How do you manage these?

CP: PMSs are fairly complicated and some are very robust and scalable, but they were designed to serve property level activities not distribution. Apart from interfaces and generally improving the connectivity with more third-party systems, I am not aware of much being done with the existing systems. You do hear about cloud-based systems being worked on, and looking at how these have changed businesses online, it will be interesting to see how they play out for hospitality. 

EFT: What changes would you like to see in distribution technology in order to extend distribution reach and target incremental revenue?

CP: One could dream of a system that has every single hotel system rolled into one. That is a tall order considering how much time many companies have spent honing each of these separately. Any integrated system is unlikely to excel at all the functions but if anyone can put them under one system and get them to work half as well as what such systems do in silos, it will be a great improvement.

Again, having fewer interfaces and fewer systems accomplishing what we need to do will be very helpful. Relevant technology vendors need to do a much better job of talking to each other, as well as keeping up with the emerging technology.

The costs of interfaces, their maintenance, per transaction and training are also an issue. They are significant compared to most tech services, which become cheaper by the day. There is a huge opportunity for any company that can deliver a one-stop solution at a reasonable price.

EFT: How can data flow performance enhance room package promotion planning and distribution on third-party channels?

CP: At this point, interfaces are dealing mainly with rates and inventory. OTAs are not interested in selling add-ons and some airlines are adding by themselves. In terms of promotions, what is important is real-time intelligence on what works and what doesn’t. This helps hotel revenue managers to quickly adapt their strategies. If an upgrade promotion works well with a certain channel, for example, that can determine the entire strategy for a particular time period. Being able to test promotions and quickly change because you can see it works in real-time definitely improves yields and sales.

Related Reads

comments powered by Disqus