The Top 7 Distribution Channels for Independent Hotels

Erin Elkind

Hoteliers know it’s crucial to build and maintain a strong digital presence to capture a guest’s attention, especially during challenging economic times. With potential revenue hanging in the balance, hoteliers must establish the right mix of direct and online booking channels to maximize revenue and take full advantage of any projected market growth.

To start, hoteliers should explore all their distribution options, including how these channels can benefit their business, to create a multi-faceted mix that meets the unique needs of their market. We’ve listed the most profitable channels any independent hotelier should consider:

The Top Distribution Channels

  • Your Branded Website: Prospective guests form their first impression of your hotel long before they walk through the door. A world-class website touts the value your hotel provides to guests and gives the ability to offer attractive offers through the direct channel’s booking engine. According to Forbes, 91% of consumers prefer interactive and visual content over traditional, text-based, or static media, so beautiful, high-resolution images are a must.
  • Online travel agencies (OTAs): OTAs such as, Expedia, and Priceline typically spend millions of dollars on marketing, providing your hotel with advertising coverage that would be difficult to gain otherwise. OTAs are often conversion-oriented and user-friendly, allowing travelers to compare multiple options on the same screen. Many OTAs are available, so choose the one that best speaks to your target audience.
  • Metasearch: Metasearch engines such as TripAdvisor and Google Hotel Ads retrieve data from multiple OTAs and other sales channels (including and present booking options to online lookers simultaneously for easy comparisons. Rate parity is an essential consideration on Metasearch to ensure appears as an attractive option to potential guests.
  • Global Distribution Systems (GDS): Travel agents assess and select hotels based on property descriptions on the GDS. Advertising on GDS continues to be important for hoteliers – usage is increasing at a faster rate than other channels used by travel agents, such as alternative accommodation platforms or hotel websites.
  • Voice Reservations: Call Center is a crucial channel during challenging times when people are seeking authentic human connection. Your Call Center staff is a direct line to your customers, and they will be able to provide insight into guest sentiment and frequently asked questions. Since this a direct-to-property channel, much like your branded website, there is value in the low acquisition costs.
  • Wholesalers: The middlemen between travel agents and travel suppliers, wholesalers, are convenient for offloading a large amount of inventory in key need periods, though profit margins will be slim.
  • Tour Operators: In the age of personalization and unique experiences, curated tour packages are appealing to guests who are looking to customize their travels, presenting an opportunity for hoteliers to be creative. As hotels in the Asia Pacific region begin to enter the recovery phase, many properties are offering “quarantine packages,” such as this 14-day option at The Park Lane Hong Kong.

Support your plan with the proper tech stack

The right technology is essential for hoteliers to control and distribute inventory, maintain rates, manage offers and incentives, and more. If you’re implementing several technology solutions, consider engaging with a comprehensive partner. These providers can offer suggestions on complementary technology solutions, integration techniques, and recommendations for implementation.

For even more expert tips and tricks to follow when creating your optimal channel mix, download our new eBook, Independent’s Guide to New Hotel Openings for Distribution functions. This is one of three guides designed to provide independent hoteliers and their teams with a wealth of institutional knowledge and guidance to facilitate a new hotel launch or a hotel reopening.

Download the eBook 

The best distribution strategy enhances spend, reach, and results. Optimizing your channel mix should be an ongoing process – especially in uncertain times. As recovery from the COVID-19 global pandemic begins to evolve, you will have to be agile and flexible to pivot depending on the demand in your market quickly. For additional insight and guidance during these challenging times, visit our Crisis Management Resource Library.

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