Reservation and Channel Management Technology - More Education Needed?
Recently, I have been following discussions in various hospitality related blogs and groups concerning the selection and implementation of booking engines and other distribution technologies by hotels. Judging from the number of questions asked, and the lack of consensus on the best solutions available, it seems that there is still a huge amount of knowledge and experience still to share in this area.
These discussions have encouraged me to look into this in more detail with the idea of organising an educational seminar looking at how hoteliers can identify their own needs, assess what solutions are on offer and take steps towards developing a workable strategy for their business. The seminar will be predominently for independent and small chain hotels (this appears to be where the need is most acute) and free to attend. It will take place at our Travel Distribution Summit in London in May.
I am currently looking for speakers, so if this is of interest please let me know. If you are a small chain or independent hotel with a good story to tell, I’d love to hear from you. And if you’re a vendor of reservation and distribution management technology and would like to know how you can get involved, please do get in touch. Email is best – email@example.com
Below are some of the key issues I've identified from my research so far. Comments very welcome!:
Web Booking Engine: Backend - Ease of use for the hotel
- Build or buy – how to assess the most cost-effective solution
- How to identify requirements and communicate these to potential suppliers
- Commission based or fixed fee? What are the merits and pitfalls of each?
- How to select a booking engine that allows easy updates of rates and inventory
- How to identify the data that you wish to capture and select a solution to enable this
- Optional extras - SEO/SEM, multi-language, mulit-payment, e-concierge and mapping. How do you get a customised solution for your specific needs and budget
Web Booking Engine: Frontend - Ease of use for your guests
- Decent bandwidth, multilingual, multicurrency, single vs multi-screen…what factors do you need to consider to ensure the best booking experience for your customers?
- How important is it that you WBE matches the look and feel of your own website?
- Real time rate and inventory updates. The importance of instaneous updating and the technology that enables this to happen.
- How can you aggregate content from multiple sources, and syndicate your own content to other sites (such as meta-search sites)?
- Is the use of AJAX / XML technology leading the way toward the ultimate booking experience for customers?
Channel Management Strategies and Technology
- Maintaining control – choosing a channel management system that ensures rate integrity in all channels
- How can an effective channel management solution help you to maximise revenues across all your distribution channels?
- How can you control rates and inventory availability in real time across all your distribution channels?
- How important is it that your technology solutions are fully integrated?
- Understand the role of XML in creating seamless integration between your property management, revenue management and distribution technologies
- Is XML a viable and cost effective solution for individual properties and small chains? What are the alternatives?
- How can you integrate data from your channel management system with you booking engine and PMS?
Written by: Simon Carkeek, Executive Director, EyeforTravel