What Is the Future of Electronic Distribution?

By Paolo Federico, Senior Vice President of Revenue Management and Distribution, Jumeirah Hotels, and a member of the HSMAI Global Distribution Advisory Board

As technology evolves and many people shift to making more purchases online, especially since the start of the pandemic, many questions arise around the future of electronic distribution. Do we have the right setup for future distribution channels? Will the “spaghetti” environment finally be simplified? These questions and more were discussed during a recent HSAMI Global Distribution Advisory Board meeting. The following highlights some of the key discussion points and takeaways from this conversation.

On Simplification

  • “There’s a lot of intertwining in the distribution landscape. It can be difficult to distribute and there needs to be simplicity and automation. We’ve seen that with RMS tools and we need to integrate into the system landscape, enabling us to get our rates out faster in the market so we can capitalize on conversion.”
  • “I don’t think we should be prisoners of the ‘spaghetti.’ We’re in charge of our own diets, and if we want to diversify, we can. But we have to teach, train, and make people comfortable, and simplify this complex landscape as much as we can.”
  • “The simplification would happen by collection, by brand. Everyone’s going to do it on their own, and all of us have such different landscapes for systems. Some of us have our own proprietary CRS’. So, it’s going to differ, but I think we can bucket things a lot more and most of us have started.”

On Process

  • “I think success is where organizations follow the customer more than processes. We all have been process-focused and process-driven in the past, and I think the winners will be the ones who are more ‘gut-centric’ and focus on the customer and the experience. It’s not so much a simplification of distribution, but it’s more to hide the complexity and provide a nicer front and a nicer experience.”

On Technology and Automation

  • “One of the most significant changes I’m seeing in our industry is the openness to have faster technology offered across hotels. Hospitality has been one of the laggards when it comes to technology, but I think the pandemic has changed the entire paradigm. The speed of change is tremendous.”
  • “When you have a chain with more than 6,000 hotels, there’s lots of stuff that relies on people. We’re in the people business. There’s massive scope for automation, but in the end, you still have the revenue manager who makes the decision on whether to take a group or not, which has an impact on how you price the rest of your products, which has an impact on all your distribution channels. Even with the scope for automation, I don’t think we should aim to automate everything.”
  • “We have to look at why companies automate processes. The auto industry did that to make better cars. The solution is to look at where automation makes sense in regard to a better experience for the customer — and the customer is not just the person taking an overnight stay in our hotel. The customer is also the franchisee, the corporate account you negotiate with, etc.”

On Talent

  • “We need to do more to attract people from outside our industry because we have been so inward facing for so long. We need to take experience from outside to look at how we revolutionize and evolve our leadership, both in the sales revenue and distribution space, to be more relevant to the market.”
  • “The interest in hospitality school has to come back. Since the pandemic, people are not looking at hospitality as a career as much as before. This can be a good opportunity for hospitality schools to reinvent themselves.”

Categories: Revenue Management, Channel Management, Distribution
Insight Type: Articles