More than ever it will be vital for hotel owners and operators to stay on top of the distribution landscape that is expanding beyond OTAs including popular sales vehicles such as meta-search, flash sales and mobile channels. Beyond simple awareness of the different mediums available to sell hotel rooms, hoteliers must know the cost and expected return of each distribution channel. Hoteliers must preserve rate parity and their brand by utilizing the most cost-effective distribution channels instead of using desperate measures to sell inventory. One option to consider is to search for a cheaper OTA. For example, why not use Airbnb? At 3 percent they are a much cheaper choice than the others. Sure, they are not a traditional OTA because they have non-hotels as their core business. Look for Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple to join in on the fun in 2017 and beyond. Let’s hope these new competitors in the OTA world price their commissions at levels closer to Airbnb. When creating a strategic distribution channel plan, direct to hotel and voice tend to be the most overlooked channels representing almost 40 percent of our business. Direct to hotel and voice includes walk-ins, calls directly to the property, groups and any other booking handled on property. These channels also happen to be the most cost effective for hotels by avoiding commission charges while having a higher conversion rate. To optimize profits the property needs to utilize guest service agents (GSAs) as an extension of the sales team. Give the GSAs tools to “close the sale” by training them to answer questions and provide guests with the information they are seeking. Get the full story at Hospitality.Net