By Glenn Withiam, Cornell Center for Hospitality Research
In seems like selling a hotel room seems should be a simple thing, but an already complex matter has become even more intricate in recent years. In fact, we don’t even call it selling a room. Instead, this is known as distribution, and hotels sell their rooms through multiple distribution channels. But even that statement makes things sound simpler than they actually are, because it’s often difficult for a hotel to know exactly which of many channels was the one that brought in the booking.
Several presentations at the recently concluded Cornell Hospitality Research Summit (CHRS) addressed the spaghetti-like nature of hotel sales and marketing. It goes without saying that a fair amount of business comes through Internet channels, each with its own cost structure. You can analyze a consumer’s clickstream (or engage one of many expert firms to do so), with the idea of determining which of one of many“clicks” was the one that actually got you the booking. In that regard, Internet analytics is making considerable progress.
In one discussion, Ted Teng, president and CEO of The Leading Hotels of the World, urged further work in this area of attribution modeling. For the benefit of all owners and operators, Teng wants to reward the channels that are bringing in business, but he doesn’t see a reason to pay for sites that happen to be in the middle of a clickstream and don’t contribute to sales.