A new industry partnership could offer the answer to mounting hotel distribution struggles that traditional travel agencies and wholesalers face in a technology age.
Trip Affiliates Network (TAN) and SiteMinder, a cloud platform for hotels, have teamed up to extend channel manager connectivity to small- and medium-size travel agencies, effectively giving these traditional middlemen access to live hotel inventory, rather than have to rely on paper contracts and allotted blocks.
“There’s a technology wave coming and hotels are beginning to move towards dynamic availability. Marriott has gone full dynamic availability and stopped giving allotments to local wholesalers. InterContinental Hotels Group (will soon go that way too). This is the major trend driving what we are doing today,” said Tan Huck Khim, executive director of TAN’s Travel Prologue.
“Wholesalers are being left out in the cold because they cannot access technology or are not large enough to attract the likes of SiteMinder. TAN fills the gap between SiteMinder and local wholesalers. These local wholesalers are big in their own markets, contracting with up to 300 hotels, but lack the technology, know-how and an account with SiteMinder (and the like), and are hence being left out of Marriott and IHG (distribution).”
And with access to live availability and rates, travel agencies will be better able to price rooms competitively, as well as enjoy greater efficiency.
For hotels, this helps address problems with rate parity and overbooking, according to TAN.
The partnership also translates to wider distribution opportunities. “It’s about what will add value to individual hotels. We are doing what we can to give hotels more opportunities to sell their inventory,” James Bishop, SiteMinder’s senior director of demand partnerships commented.
Giving “local champions” a technological boost now is a timely move, with the rise of bespoke preferences among consumers making mass distribution through OTAs arguably less core as a B2B strategy than before.
“We think local champions have a big role to play in B2B distribution going forward. Quoting (what a hospitality partner said last year), OTAs have been around for 22 years and have commoditised the entire industry by making it (largely) a hotel price comparison site.
“But commoditisation has run its course.Travellers are looking for bespoke, experiential, off-the-beaten-track (holidays). That’s where travellers want to go to agencies because they have that human capital.”