Ben Stephenson, chief executive and founder of Impala, explains why the power of 'digital gatekeepers' needs to be combatted with new open distribution technology marketplaces
Guest Post: Why the future of hotel distribution is open
All eyes are on airport, border and airline infrastructure struggling to cope with the influx of summer travellers now that tourism is on the move again.
Aviation will overcome this blip in a few months as it readjusts to a world reopened, but there’s a piece of travel’s infrastructure that deserves much more attention to make sure it’s fit for the long term: hotel distribution.
At the advent of digital hotel distribution, the companies who invented the technology that power it were protective of their intellectual property.
The network of behind-the-scenes systems is complex and major players with deep pockets installed costly commissions and mysterious algorithms that protected their position of power.
But as technology developed, the world has moved on, and this ‘digital gatekeeping’ now gets in the way.
As a result, the companies which were seen as disruptors at the end of the last century are now dominant megaliths.
A bunker mentality has set in. The digital walls that divide hotels and room sellers are only getting higher, tightly controlling their earnings, and perpetuating an infrastructure that demands that businesses go through intermediary systems – at enormous cost – rather than allowing hotels and room sellers to do business freely and affordably with each other.
We believe that new infrastructure can break down these walls, and through modern API technology, the world of hotel distribution can become truly ‘open’. The result is a marketplace that is easily, quickly and cost-effectively available to anyone.
Impala developed ‘Open Distribution’ to make it easy for any travel business to join. Hotels can quickly gain access to new markets, to attract more of the guests that work for their property.
Room sellers can access the technology and inventory to create new differentiated travel ideas in minutes.
Both sides can work with each other, without anybody getting in the way – with no upfront costs, and easy integration.
It’s a simple, transparent model, better for all partners’ and their revenues as well as allowing hotels and room sellers across the world to work together without exclusivity.
With Impala’s modern API, costs are sensible, meaning hotels and their sellers’ businesses are enabled, not choked.
Impala has built the new infrastructure for hotel distribution – and the industry finally has a real alternative to the now established status quo of where a small number of players collect an enormous share of the industry’s earnings.
Open Distribution allows new entrants into travel from start-ups to established global corporates.
It breaks down barriers to entry for retailers by giving them access to the inventory, rates and technology to differentiate themselves and build new products and brands as well as allowing them to adapt to major changes in traveller behaviour such as remote working and longer stays.
In this way it allows these companies to provide an offering from zero to hundreds of locations without having to spend time on integrating multiple property management systems.
We’ve found that hotels and room sellers are signing up for Open Distribution at a record pace. The beautiful thing about our approach is that it really is open.
It’s free to get started as a hotel or room seller, and onboarding is incredibly easy. Hotels and room sellers set commercial terms with each other, and you only pay a small fee when you get a booking. That means you can try it out risk-free and run it alongside your existing setup.
Focusing on growing your business without having to worry about being stalled by the booking giants’ next moves? Now that is an open world.