Industry Perspectives

Embracing new technologies in the connectivity sector

Eddy Veldhuizen, Director of Connectivity Partners at Booking.com, shares how the landscape of channel managers and property management systems will be evolving in 2020

The technology landscape for accommodations is changing very quickly. More and more applications are coming to the market to make the lives of property partners easier. But landing on the right technology for your business can be a complex first step. Connectivity is a key area of importance, particularly if a property distributes its rooms through a variety of OTAs, each with their own systems and interfaces.

For most properties, working directly with the OTAs systems yields the most from that relationship. But if every OTA expects direct interaction then it makes it very hard for the partner to keep up with new developments across each individual platform. As a result, accommodation operators are increasingly working with a channel manager (CM) or property management system (PMS) to run their day-to-day business and simplify those interactions, even if this might be at the cost of some functionality.

Building solutions for new technology

In order to make sure that our property partners get the best out of their relationship with Booking.com, we wanted to build all the key features and functions into the CMs and PMSs. That way, partners could still get everything they would need from the extranet without leaving their connectivity provider’s interface. Essentially, we wanted to offer a choice. If you want to do something on Pulse or the extranet, it's still okay, it will replicate eventually with your channel manager or PMS - or you can make those actions directly through your connectivity provider and that will replicate back on the extranet. The property can interact with us on their terms.

Connectivity providers know the trends and developments within the sector or market they operate on an immersive level. With that in mind, we focus on providing solutions that are broadly applicable, and then the CM/PMS can tailor them towards the needs of their audience. For example, a channel manager working with only 4- or 5-star hotels will bring different solutions to market than a provider who perhaps focuses on bed and breakfast properties - and our products cater for that differentiation. I think that's the beauty of using a channel manager; they understand the needs of their market in a really in-depth and focused way and can provide a really dedicated service.

Veldhuizen spoke about connectivity and the outlook for partners in 2020 at Click. 2019.

There's so much technology available within the connectivity space, that we would like to invest further to make sure that partners can potentially do even more than what's possible on the extranet. For example, occupancy-based pricing is something that we offer through channel managers, but it's not a solution currently available on the extranet. Over time, this creates a more enriched and integrated environment for our property partners in which they can maximise their relationship with Booking.com. We want to make that experience as seamless as possible.

Increasingly, there are other companies knocking on our door who want to make integrations that will engage property partners - for example, review or messaging solutions. It's an interesting time within the connectivity technology space, with new players coming along with different needs, properties moving more to PMSs, and channel managers upping their game to move into property performance. Properties are really now seeing the value of using connectivity providers to help them maximise distribution and revenue.

Finding a connectivity provider

The Connectivity Partner Programme consists of three tiers: Standard, Advanced and Premier. Premier providers offer the highest quality and can help properties in the best possible way - and those companies can be the biggest operators or the smallest start-up. Around a third of the connectivity providers we work with are on Advanced or Premier level. There are a number of different factors that determine their level - from the business value they offer and how they support functionalities partners would normally access on the Booking.com extranet, to how they help improve property performance. When a property is looking for a connectivity partner for property or channel management, we will recommend Premier providers as the first suggestion.

We spend a lot of time figuring out the needs a property may have so that when partners start their search for the right CM or PMS our recommendations are an even better match for their initial criteria. We always make a number of suggestions as we believe there is an important human element in developing a business relationship: beyond the practical match, it's key that a property partner is comfortable with the provider they select. It's such a big, fragmented space that we want to help properties in their search, whether they are not yet familiar with connectivity or they are already working with multiple channels and want to have a more effective and productive working environment.

 

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Takeaway
  • Connectivity providers are becoming increasingly important for properties that distribute their rooms through a variety of OTAs, each with their own systems and interfaces
  • More and more applications are coming to the market to make the lives of property partners easier - choosing the right provider can, therefore, be a complex process
  • The Connectivity Partner Programme helps guide property partners to the right provider for their needs. The programme has three levels - Premier, Advanced and Standard
  • Booking.com has developed a number of technology solutions that help integrate elements of the extranet to help property partners run their business from their provider interface - providing choice in how a partner manages their property

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