Hotels have an array of options when it comes to distribution. They can choose to promote their business on online travel agency (OTA) booking sites, accept direct bookings through their website or phone, and utilize various other channels to expand their reach. Nevertheless, it is essential to employ a mix of channels that cater to the specific needs of the hotel’s target market(s) to optimize revenue.

In this article, we delve into some of the most popular hotel distribution channels and provide useful tips and examples to enhance their effectiveness.

What is a hotel distribution channel?

If you’re not familiar with hotel distribution channels, don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds! Simply put, a hotel distribution channel is anywhere, whether online or offline, where hotels can sell rooms to potential customers. This can include booking directly on the hotel’s website, using online travel agencies (OTAs), global distribution systems (GDS), metasearch sites, or even making a reservation over the phone.

But how can hotels ensure they’re using the right channels to maximize their revenue? That’s where a hotel distribution channel strategy comes in. This is a plan that takes into account various factors such as pricing, target audience, location, and marketing resources to ensure that rooms are booked at a profitable rate. By developing a solid distribution strategy, hotels can ensure they’re using the right channels to reach their ideal audience and increase their revenue.

Popular types of hotel distribution channels:

Direct website bookings

When it comes to hotel distribution channels, a hotel’s own website is often considered the most important source for direct bookings. Direct bookings are typically more profitable and have a higher chance of leading to repeat business, making them a crucial part of a hotel’s distribution strategy.

Your hotel’s website provides ample opportunities to showcase unique amenities and entice potential guests with high-quality imagery, videos, interactive content, and testimonials. Take advantage of these opportunities to differentiate your property from competitors and create a memorable experience for your guests.

To maximize your hotel’s direct bookings, it’s crucial to ensure that your website is optimized for mobile devices. With many guests now booking on their smartphones and tablets, a mobile-friendly website with a streamlined booking process can make all the difference.

It’s also important to optimize your website for search engines by incorporating relevant, location-specific terms. A clear and easy-to-navigate website with responsive design and a seamless booking experience will all help to increase visibility and make it more likely that guests choose to book directly through your website.

Remember, a hotel’s website is not a one-time setup and forget solution. Continuously optimize and update it to make sure that it’s meeting the changing needs of your guests and the market. By focusing on your hotel’s direct booking channel, you can increase profitability, build brand loyalty, and take control of your distribution strategy.

Direct phone bookings

For some target audiences, particularly older adults, travel agents, and event planners, direct phone bookings are still the preferred way to make a reservation at a hotel. Phone bookings offer a personal touch that can be appealing to guests who want to ask specific questions about their stay or have complicated booking needs.

To maximize the potential of direct phone bookings as a hotel distribution channel, it’s important to ensure that staff members are trained to handle calls professionally and efficiently. Front desk and reservation line staff should have the necessary tools to quickly look up availability and book reservations in real-time, while call center staff should be knowledgeable and friendly when assisting customers.

Although online booking has become increasingly popular, phone bookings remain an important source of revenue for many hotels. As such, it’s crucial to make it easy for guests to reach you by phone, with clear and visible phone numbers on your website and other marketing materials. By providing a seamless and personalized experience for guests who prefer to book by phone, hotels can ensure that they are capturing every opportunity for revenue.

Online travel agencies (OTAs)

Online travel agencies (OTAs) such as, Expedia, and Airbnb are incredibly popular channels for hotel distribution. By partnering with hotels, these OTAs list their properties on their websites, allowing travelers to compare rates, read reviews, and book rooms directly through the platform.

When using OTAs, hotels typically pay a commission fee for each booking made through the platform. The commission fee can range from 10% to 30% of the booking value, depending on the OTA and the agreement between the hotel and the OTA.

Partnering with OTAs can have many advantages for hotels, including broad audience reach, exposure to new potential customers, and increased visibility. However, overreliance on OTAs for distribution can be risky, as hotels may become too dependent on them. In addition, the commission fee can cut into hotel profits, making it important for hotels to carefully weigh the pros and cons before deciding to partner with an OTA.

Despite the potential drawbacks, OTAs can be a valuable tool for hotels to increase bookings and reach new customers. When used in combination with other distribution channels, OTAs can help hotels achieve a more balanced and profitable distribution strategy.

Metasearch engines

Metasearch engines are becoming an increasingly popular channel for hotel distribution. These engines are unique in that they allow travelers to compare hotel prices across multiple channels, including OTAs, hotel websites, and other metasearch engines, all in one place. Some popular metasearch engines include Google Hotel Ads, TripAdvisor, and Kayak.

By partnering with metasearch engines, hotels can drive more direct bookings and increase their visibility. This is because metasearch engines typically charge hotels on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis, meaning hotels only pay when a traveler clicks on their listing. This pricing model can be an attractive option for hotels looking to increase their direct bookings and reduce their dependency on OTAs.

It’s important to note that working with metasearch engines does require some investment in terms of time and resources. Hotels need to ensure that their listings are accurate and up-to-date on all platforms, as well as ensure that they are bidding effectively on relevant keywords to drive traffic to their listings. Nonetheless, for hotels looking to diversify their distribution channels and increase their direct bookings, metasearch engines can be a valuable tool to consider.

Holidayzer tips for creating a successful distrubution strategy

Creating a successful distribution strategy for a hotel involves taking into account several key factors. Here are some considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Determine business objectives: The first step is to define the goals of your distribution strategy. Do you want to increase revenue, bookings, or visibility? Make sure that your strategy aligns with your sales objectives and target metrics.
  2. Find your target audience: Knowing your target audience is crucial for developing a distribution strategy that resonates with them. Consider demographics and customer types that your hotel brand is likely to appeal to, and ensure that your strategy maximizes visibility among your target market. For instance, certain channels like phone reservations may appeal more to older customers, while direct social media bookings may attract younger audiences.
  3. Compare key metrics across channels: Once you’ve identified the metrics that matter the most based on your objectives, compare these across different distribution channels. While some channels may offer greater visibility, they may also come with higher costs or slimmer margins. Balancing visibility, profitability, and optimized brand messaging is essential for developing a winning strategy.
  4. Test and optimize over time: Finally, remember that your distribution strategy should remain dynamic and subject to constant optimization. Continuously test new channels, optimize existing ones, and make sure that the core channels are delivering profitable results.

By following these steps, you can build a distribution strategy that maximizes your hotel’s revenue and reaches your ideal guests effectively.

In conclusion, having a solid distribution strategy is crucial for any hotel or vacation rental business to maximize their bookings and revenue. By utilizing popular distribution channels like online travel agencies, global distribution systems, and direct bookings through your own website and phone lines, you can reach a wider audience and increase your chances of success in a highly competitive market.

However, managing all these distribution channels can be time-consuming and challenging for property owners, especially for those with limited resources and expertise. That’s where Holidayzer comes in. We provide comprehensive support for small holiday apartments to large hotel chains, ensuring full occupancy and the highest possible daily rates year-round.

Don’t let the off-season affect your business. Let Holidayzer help you boost your bookings and revenue, so you can focus on providing the best guest experience possible. Contact us today to learn more about our services and start maximizing your rental business’s potential.