Juli Jones, Vice President, HSMAI
When we think of distribution, we typically think about corporate distribution and leisure distribution, but we rarely really think about group distribution. Why is that? Why is there still no widespread group distribution?
Not too many years ago, the CEO of a large travel agency predicted that nobody would ever book a hotel room online. We all know what happened there. As technology evolves, will the same thing happen with groups?
Ubiquitous group distribution would have a transformative effect on our efficiency and competitiveness — as individual hotels and hotel companies, and as an industry. Read on for key takeaways from the HSMAI Global Distribution Advisory Board’s discussion of this topic.
Top three reasons there isn’t group distribution
- Complexity – Group reservations and the way they need to be handled are just more complicated than individual reservations. And, the level of complexity tends to increase as the size of the group increases.
- Priority – Despite the importance and opportunity group distribution presents, it has not been a priority nor focus of technology investment – especially since group travel all but disappeared during COVID and is still working its way back to pre-pandemic levels.
- Culture – Even with a system, cultural shifts are needed throughout the commercial organization, including:
- Thinking ahead to group pricing and what prices you’ll be distributing publicly.
- Deciding how much of your total inventory you’re going to devote to group.
How do we get to group distribution?
- Tools – We need tools that seamlessly interface with our core technologies – including the CRS and the sales system.
- New Models – For each of our companies and/or hotels, we need clear group pricing and inventory management strategies that work with limited human intervention. We also need organizational models, sales targets, and compensation policies that create synergy — as opposed to friction — across all the commercial disciplines. And, don’t forget the value proposition and user experience for the customer!
Despite the obstacles in our way, it is clear the question is when, not if, group distribution will be a reality for all hotels.