By Krishan Kadodwala, Expedia group area manager for UK and Ireland
Debate in the industry suggests some OTAs are reluctant to share their data with hotel partners, a claim that surprised Krishan Kadodwala, the Expedia group area manager for UK and Ireland. Here he explains that far from withholding data, OTAs are using it to help hotels build revenues.
When Hayley Colley, group sales manager at Future Inns UK, wanted to target guests who book accommodation further out, she naturally sought booking window data on which to base her marketing strategy.
She said they had noticed a trend for more people booking well in advance of their stays, and wanted to capitalise on it by targeting the countries from which they were coming, while at the same time identifying similar trends in other countries and regions.
Future Inns UK had its own data to draw on, but couldn’t match the breadth and depth of that provided by an OTA, so they asked us to provide it. They then used the data to develop a targeted marketing campaign that has seen a rise in the number of our guests who book further out.
OTAs should view themselves as specialist advisers armed with powerful data that hotels can deploy to build and grow their businesses
That is just one of several examples of data sharing that had a direct and positive impact on partner hotels.
OTAs should view themselves as consultants – specialist advisers – armed with powerful data that hotels, whether chains or boutique, large or small, can deploy in lots of ways to build and grow their businesses.
The data flow is primarily from OTA to partner hotel, but increasingly hotels are proactively requesting data, usually when they have a marketing strategy planned and need more insight to help put it into action.
When the Lake District Hotels Association (LDHA), wanted help to boost demand for hoteliers after they were hit by flooding, it was important to be able to share data with them in a collaborative, consultative way.
Indeed Tim Rumney, managing director of Best Western Castle Green Hotel, which is a member of the LDHA, said he was impressed by how speed of response and provision of data helped properties rejuvenate sales activity following the floods at the end of last year.
By attending meetings and presenting to general and revenue managers, OTAs can help partners design and deliver compelling and creative destination-centric marketing campaigns. Being there and understanding the issues at hand, while at the same time helping hotels understand the market, meant the right data could be imparted.
The professional lives of all good hotel revenue managers are driven by data. How OTAs could possess so much of it, yet fail to share it, I simply don’t understand
Similar collaborative efforts have worked for the likes of The Edinburgh Collection Hotels; Apex Hotels; Leasowe Castle, Liverpool; and with hospitality sector sales and marketing specialist e-smarketing.
It’s really all about helping the likes of hoteliers solve everyday problems, whether staying on top of reservations with up-to-the-minute booking information and notifications, or viewing and responding to guest feedback in real-time, which is where apps can be a real boon, enabling OTAs to provide partners with the information they need exactly when they need it.
And for small, independent hotels, B&Bs, and self-catering accommodation, data sharing can be a real benefit, because they simply don’t have the capabilities or resources to collect and analyse significant data.
OTAs can provide these smaller business with real-time data on their market prices, so they can see how they compare to what else is currently out there. They can also select which properties to use in the comparison based on their understanding of their own competitor set. When you consider the time it would take to collate that data you begin to see the value.
There are also more subtle ways in which data is shared, the content score being a good example. Here, properties are given an explicit percentage and advice on how to improve it, effectively showing them exactly what their prospective guests really care about and how to influence them.
Each hotel’s content score is benchmarked against the market average and editable competitor set. For smaller hotels with limited marketing resources this detailed analysis of their content data is really helpful and can be employed across any of their marketing platforms.
The professional lives of all good hotel revenue managers are driven by data. How OTAs could possess so much of it, yet fail to share it, I simply don’t understand. As consultants, OTAs must constantly explore ways to add value beyond traditional distribution, and sharing data and insights is one of the best ways they can do this.
If you’ve got it, share it.