Will the value of brands remain sustainable in today's distribution age?
— 8 C-Suite executives shared their view
World-class distribution was once one of the key value-adds of signing up with a hotel chain or brand. Today, however, this advantage has been severely eroded to the point where independent properties can access better and more cost-effective distribution channels.
From a distribution perspective, is the era of the hotel chain coming to an end?
CEO of Kerten Hospitality
Hotel chains will remain relevant since owners seek something with a proven track record and customers look towards brands they recognise because they want familiar experience. The new frontier ushers with new technology, travel apps and platforms that are changing the way our industry evolves. Apple did not allow Samsung to play catchup but altered the new retail endeavours and this is exactly what the Airbnb's of today are doing to the hospitality space.
With economies of scale comes great opportunity and, while the big hotel companies have become adept at interpreting data gleaned from guest databases to deliver highly targeted brand campaigns, many companies haven't been able to capitalise on the information in the same way. Without a real focus, tools such as e-newsletters become generic rather than the targeted communications that they can and should be.
At the same time, customers are changing and no longer want a cookie-cutter approach when they travel, with personalised service and the opportunity for experiences tailored to their individual preferences becoming increasingly important. This is why the big hotel companies are launching small niche brands which appeal to a very targeted audience.
As the likes of booking.com and Expedia continue to drive volume based on user reviews and experiences, brand-specific distribution is becoming less about driving direct sales and more about sharing a brand narrative which contributes to a wider experience. This is particularly true of the new generation who are less interested in things like loyalty cards and more interested in transparency and responsibility, elements which are helping to create a totally different following and completely change how we as an industry approach distribution.