What are booking channels?
Booking channels are platforms by which your hotel can accept reservations online or offline. They can also be known as distribution channels and are crucial for ensuring your hotel maintains a healthy occupancy rate and revenue stream.
Examples of booking channels include your own website, online travel agents like Booking.com, metasearch sites like Google, traditional travel agencies, global distribution systems (GDS), and more.
These booking channels are a ticket to accessing the millions of travellers around the world who could potentially be your guest.
This blog will explain which channels are the most lucrative for your hotel and how you can maximise revenue using them.
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Why are online booking channels important for hotels?
Online booking channels are important for hotels because they greatly increase your reach and visibility to potential guests.
Travellers are now predominantly booking their accommodation online, making it more crucial for hotels to focus on capturing bookings via their own website, OTAs, metasearch, and other online channels.
Using online booking channels makes it much easier to:
- Access international travellers
- Sell your rooms in more places
- Optimise pricing and revenue strategies
- Take and process online payments
- Gain insight into your performance
Online booking channels are best utilised when being managed by hotel software such as a channel manager. A channel manager will allow your hotel to connect to as many channels as you like and list your entire room inventory at the same time. The technology ensures that your availability is updated automatically across every channel, and your property management system, every time a reservation is made.
You can also use it to quickly and easily update your rates across every connected channel, and access key performance reports that allow you to make strategic adjustments.
Top hotel booking channels
So what are the most popular hotel booking channels?
According to recent SiteMinder data, the top revenue making channels for hotels in the United States are:
- Expedia Group
- Hotel websites (direct bookings)
- Global Distribution Systems
- Hostelworld Group
- British Airways Holidays
Of course, choosing which channels you connect to will also depend on the individual circumstances of your property. Often there are smaller, niche, channels that can provide valuable bookings and revenue.
For instance, Mr and Mrs Smith is a channel that caters exclusively to luxury guests. That’s why it’s always best to use a channel manager, so you have flexibility and agility around your hotel booking connections.
Other popular channels with travellers include:
- TripAdvisor – Aggregates reviews for hotels, restaurants and tourism activities.
- VRBO – Short for Vacation Rentals by Owners, similar to Airbnb.
- Kayak – One of the players in the metasearch market.
- Lastminute.com – Great for those looking for last minute stays, especially in Europe.
- Skyscanner – A common choice for travellers on a budget.
How to boost booking channel revenue at your hotel
You can get the most out of your booking channels by understanding your market, knowing your strengths, targeting the right guests, and using the best technology.
Here are five ways you can use booking channels to increase revenue:
1. Define your audience
Start by building profiles of your current guests to get a clear idea of who is most likely to stay at your hotel, how they research and book, and also what they do and don’t enjoy based on the feedback they leave.
Once you know who the best market is to target, you can make the right decisions about which online channels to focus on and how to maximise revenue from those channels.
2. Connect to a wide range of channels
The more channels you connect to, the wider your net is to reach all the travellers who would be interested in staying at your hotel.
OTAs and your direct website may be your main source of reservations, but metasearch is a growing channel and the GDS is still very much relevant today. So it’s important to be aware of all the channels that help you boost occupancy.
When you use a tool like a channel manager, connecting and managing extra channels requires no extra effort.
3. Tap into the billboard effect
The billboard effect is when travellers first discover you on an OTA, but end up booking directly through your website. This is why it’s important to make your OTA profile stand out and always provide a link to your website so travellers can learn more about you and access value-added offerings.
4. Utilise metasearch channels
Channels such as Google Hotel Ads and Trivago are a great way to ensure your hotel is able to compete alongside OTAs and score direct reservations. If it seems complicated, for a small fee platforms like SiteMinder can handle it all for you while you watch the bookings roll in. The advantage of metasearch is that you own the guest relationship, rather than the OTA, meaning you can better upsell and also communicate with guests to grow loyalty.
5. Monitor metrics and performance
Use your hotel software to access performance data. Look at which channels are bringing in the most bookings and revenue, which have the longest lengths of stay, which have the highest cancellation rates, which packages are succeeding, and more. You’ll soon pick up on trends that you can use to make informed decisions to improve your results in the future.