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Effectively managing distribution channels

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Whether you are a small vacation rental or a hotel with thousands of rooms, managing your inventory can be a complex task. Enter connectivity service providers. We hear from some of our partners who enjoyed success on the 2018 Connectivity Partner Programme

The digitalisation of the travel industry and subsequent proliferation of Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) has created a myriad of new channels for property owners. Combined with the likes of instant-bookable models, the need for seamless distribution is greater than ever.

Connectivity service providers - comprising channel managers, property management or central reservations systems - help properties manage their pricing and availability more efficiently across multiple distribution channels.

“Technology is improving every year and accommodations are increasingly aware of how it can help develop their business. Connectivity plays a vital role in this,” says Eddy Veldhuizen, Director Connectivity Partnerships at Booking.com. “Accommodations need easy solutions that cover all their needs and provide actionable insights to grow the return on investment for every guest that stays at their property. The partners that keep on innovating, helping accommodations to get the most out of their business and removing friction, will be the ones that can accelerate growth.”

Supporting the advancement of the segment, the Connectivity Partner Programme rewards businesses for the quality of their connections as well as the products and services they offer. “It’s a support vehicle that gives our partners guidance on elements they should focus on to get more out of their business and develop a stronger position in the market,” says Veldhuizen. “We want to grow and we know that we can only achieve this with strong partners that have the shared objective of supporting the hospitality industry with amazing software.”

Integration and APIs

One key aspect of the programme is the adoption of APIs, types of software that allow two applications to communicate - for example, OTAs. These enable syncing of information such as availability across the different platforms, which can help avoid the likes of overbooking.

For Lexicon, the integration of API softwares were key to its success last year: “We believe the market is still fairly inefficient, and opportunities abound for innovation, creativity, and most importantly, adding value for guests and homeowners,” says Joel Inman, CEO & Co-Founder. “The Content API was always a major goal of ours from the beginning, but what we didn’t expect was the discipline and focus of the Booking.com team in organising the partner program – to bring clarity and metrics to the vision of achieving feature parity between the extranet and their API connectivity.”

Italian start-up Kross Booking found the link between its distribution features and Booking.com API functionalities brought added value for its customers. “In the moment we realised that customer experience is the key to success in our company, we have been fostering all integration possible with Booking.com,” says Bartolomeo Bufi, CEO & Co-founder, Kross Booking. “This wouldn’t be possible without the partner management support, the human dimension, that worked hard to help us to pass over difficulties, supported us with data analysis … and strategic decisions in the development.”

Trailblazing technology

The pursuit of a quality connection is fuelled by embracing technological developments, something Octorate harnessed to offer an alternative to the systems used the big integrated hospitality chains. “We have improved our ecosystem, added important new features like keyless and payment systems, an interactive calendar,” says Fabrizio Scuppa, Managing Director.

Stays.net has focused on this area too: “We have invested a lot of time in automation and are applying as much artificial intelligence as possible to our system,” says Sven dos Santos, CEO & Founder. “We are always keeping an eye on new features within the portal, evaluating risks and benefits, and trying to find solutions to guarantee a seamless integration. Investing in the API automation allowed us to raise customer satisfaction which has very direct effect on business growth”

Looking ahead, HotelRunner has its sights set on increasing accommodation sales performance with autonomous features, onboarding and engagement with seamless integration experience, auto-payment processing, PMS and mobile applications. “The companies that improve their guest communication and experience with Guest Relationship Management (GRM) and Extras Management (EM) will be one step ahead of the others,” says Riza Kaynak, Director of Partner Success.

For Lexicon’s Inman the future is as much about the pursuit advancements as maintaining the core. “It’s not necessarily about the next big thing, it’s about having the architectural foundation for flexibility and speed of development that will enable us to deliver the next ten big things – because the rate of change in the market is so fast that any point solutions delivered on legacy technology will soon be outdated.”

 

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Topics
Takeaway
  • Connectivity service providers help properties manage their pricing and availability across multiple distribution channels
  • The Connectivity Partner Programme encourages service providers to take specific actions that benefit the properties they work with
  • Participants are rewarded when they offer quality connections as well as a range of innovative products and services. They also earn points when they help test new products
  • Resulting scores provide placement in one of three programme tiers - Standard, Advanced and Premier - which reflect overall performance and can help a property identify which providers might be the right fit for their business