It wasn’t too long ago that the hotelier’s marketing toolkit contained not much more than a few strategically placed billboards, travel agents armed with brochures, a good director of sales and an efficient call center.
Today, hoteliers have more tools than ever for getting their property into the consideration sets of the brand-agnostic, DIY leisure travel shopper. Distribution now goes hand-in-hand with marketing and includes terms like “social media” and “search engine optimization” that didn’t even exist 20 years ago. And 20 years from now, these cutting edge channels themselves might be as quaint as your neighborhood travel agent.
Distribution channels have become more complex and multi-dimensional as brands have developed powerful websites and online travel agencies have evolved from being strictly booking engines to also being media sites reaching tens of millions of consumers each month. But all channels are not created equal, and neither is every hotel or every hotel brand. Each channel has different costs and delivers a different customer in a different timeframe. Wedding business books a year in advance; vacationers like packages and plan 90 days ahead; and a couple on a mobile device might be literally right around the corner looking for a room tonight.