Growing Your Business in Turbulent Times Through Effective Use of Distribution Channels
Let’s face it, this past year has presented challenges that none of us thought we’d face in our lifetime. In the past 9 months we’ve faced COVID-19, hurricanes, fires, recession, earthquakes. I’m sure I’ve missed a few local events for each of us.
The big question before all of us now is – how do I keep my business and how do I grow in today’s environment? Given we’re in the connectivity business, I’ll stick to the side of the business NextPax can help with – getting heads in beds.
I’ll tackle a few topics that may be of help to you and then have a short overview of NextPax and why we’re the company to work with.
Where are your sales coming from?
Every booking you get comes from a channel – many property managers look at direct vs. everything else. I’d suggest looking a bit deeper than that. What are the various channels?
- Direct business / returning guests – normally this is the most cost effective customer acquisition. Other than keeping the relationship with them, you didn’t spend much to acquire them
- Advertising / marketing – “Wait, is this a channel?” If you have a website you’ve built, pay listing fees to sites such as FindRentals.com or use Google PPC, local ads, mailings etc. If the answer is yes, then it is a channel.
- Meetings / incentives – group tourism and sports travel
- Booking distribution channels – these are the traditional OTA’s – Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com etc.
Things to consider
So how should I look at all of these channels? Each has unique characteristics, customers, costs, effort etc.
- How much am I spending on client acquisition in total for my company? Normally it will run from 4% to as high as 20% of gross sales. Now, break it down by each channel. You may be surprised by what you find
- Diversification – the good old adage of not having all your eggs in one basket
- Ease of use – am I able to work with them efficiently? Or, do I have to spend tons of time setting up and managing them?
- Characteristics – Average Booking Value, type of guest, ability to convert them into a returning guest etc.
Some interesting facts about traditional OTA distribution channels this past year:
All of the channels have slight to major variations. How do your other channel types fit in (yes, your direct, ad channels etc.)? What is the cost by channel? Knowing how they work can then help you determine your strategy with distribution.
General Characteristics by Channel
How to make the cash register ring
Are you showcasing your property in a fashion that shoppers will find, be attracted to and feel good about? If you focus on these ten areas, you will be hitting the key items that will help you with content scores, appear higher in search results etc.
Are you checking the box on the key items shoppers search and filter on? Are you priced correctly?
Currently, roughly 75% of people consider your cleaning practices when making a decision to book. Have you checked those boxes in your PMS, channel manager or channel dashboard? This is the basic list of items you should be considering:
What next? What closes the deal? Think about the uncertainty shoppers are facing right now. Can you predict what the world will look like in 3 months? 6 months? A year? Neither can they. More than ever before shoppers are looking for flexibility and security when they are booking.
- Cancellation policies – shoppers are more likely to book further out if they know they can cancel and get their money back. Otherwise, they will wait until the very last moment to book.
- Payment policies – lower amounts up front, balance due closer to arrival
Distribution costs – What do I do here?
- Look at all your costs in total – regardless of source
- Consider them part of your advertising costs
- We all know about rate parity. However, it’s not always possible in the vacation rental marketplace. Most property managers vary prices by channel to cover costs. Determine what you need to do by channel to be the most competitive as possible. Small factoid – about 95% of property managers are varying their pricing by channel
I don’t have enough time – how do I get it done?
- Your source of truth should be Track and you should do as much as possible there. If you have to go to other systems, it burns your time
- Standardize what you do and keep it simple. Many property managers try to make their pricing very complicated, fees etc. Remember KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!
- Only use companies that have top integrations with Track and don’t require you to do much in their system.
- Who can help you create multiplies out of a single action? We can!
How can partnering with NextPax help you?
- We can get your properties in front of more shoppers in a highly efficient manner
- Provide the tools you need to grow and flourish in today’s channel distribution marketplace
- Alway be on the leading edge of connectivity due to our size and quality development
- We co-develop with industry partners like Google, Vrbo, Booking.com and Airbnb ensuring we’re on the most up-to-date connections available
- Excellent support and help with your strategic approach and technical implementation
A few of our distribution partners