Pictured: Dai Williams of SiteMinder
The proliferation of volume direct booking channels for hotels is making it more important than ever that property owners manage prices and inventory.
SiteMinder, the channel management platform which this morning launched a new website service for hotels called Canvas at World Travel Market, says it’s vital that hospitality providers ensue their own direct channel is optimised as a route to market.
Dai Williams, SiteMinder managing director EMEA, said: “The amount of high volume channels is increasing and for companies like us in the middle it’s our role to give hotels the options. We want to give hotels the option to drive direct volume and margin for their businesses.
“And with direct channels becoming more and more productive hotels have got to have trust in their system that when a booking is made there is a room for the customer and it gets depleted from their stock.”
The power of the major hotel booking intermediaries like Expedia and Booking.com, aligned with instant book options being offers by price comparison and review sites like TripAdvisor means hoteliers are facing an increasingly complex distribution environment.
Williams said that Canvas has been designed to be simple and cheap to use for hoteliers with the monthly flat fee starting at £59 for existing SiteMinder customers.
He said this will enable even the smallest hotels to compete with fully responsive sites offering a better user experience, so the traffic they drive will be more likely to convert and not be lost to an online aggregator or OTA.
“This is part of a cloud platform to help hotels attract, reach and convert. It can be used independently or as part of a bundle of services. We know hotels need to first manage OTAs and also to drive direct bookings.”
As well as Canvas, SiteMinder provides its core channel management technology and a booking button that integrates with Canvas to ensure a friction-free customer experience.
“It’s about hotels having a diversified strategy,” said Williams, “they should not be in a situation where they are looking to not list on OTAs, it’s about driving enough on your own websites so that the stuff you are distributing through OTAs is diluted.
“Where hotels have a little bit of trouble is they are driving huge volumes of stock through a handful of channels but they don’t have the technology in place to drive direct bookings. A lot of these hotels are by no means digital experts, they get into this business to run hotels.”
With the likes of Expedia and Booking.com also buying or developing back office technology to help hoteliers run their businesses, Williams warned against putting all their eggs into one basket and said SiteMinder was an independent alternative.
He believed the scope for growth remains considerable. The firm has 19,500 customers globally and in the UK it estimated around 4,000 hotels are using channel management compared to the 25,000 to 30,000 properties there are in total.
In January 2014 SiteMinder secured a $30 million investment from Silicon Valley investor Technology Crossover Investors to help expand its global footprint. Last year it opened an office in Dallas and its UK headquarters in London continues to grow.