NH Hotel Group - Revising the distribution culture (IHTF 2022 Special)
HOTELIERS' VOICE S2E8
During IHTF, Marketing and Distribution programme stream, Janneke Messiaen, VP Commercial Systems & B2B Digital for NH Hotel Group, spoke about the company’s new model of distribution and distribution processing.
She explains why they moved to a concentrated distribution model and how she addressed challenges to devise the strategies that support growth. “At one point we had 38 channels connected and it’s very easy to lose control when you have so many channels to manage. You have the commercial force that has to manage these accounts,” she says.
“And on the other hand, you have the technical force to maintain, configure, do the mappings, all the technical aspects, and eventually also deal with incidents. So in the end, we lost a little bit of control over the distribution, the integrity and the price integrity.”
Janneke says the company did not put all its eggs in one basket, however. It still has a big range of channels and key distribution partners. “But we did move away from a few OTAs to reduce the manual work, distribution costs, credit and risk finance reconciliation, and also to improve our rate integrity online.”
This brings more business to the company’s own websites, and there are fewer channels to manage and there is less manual work, and lower distribution costs. “We can focus more on strategy and quality instead of quantity,” she says. “So those channels we have will be perfectly optimized.”
Calculating distribution costs, she says, means also working out the cost of sales and staff. “You also need to look into how much time it takes to update content, rates, cancellation policies, do mappings, resolve issues.”
When the company formed a five-year plan, it realised staff had to be on board to make changes work. It is vital they feel the tasks are meaningful. All the teams work together towards common goals.
But also you learn from each other. You don't sit in your own department, only doing your techie stuff. You get to learn a little bit about revenue management and you get to learn a little bit about marketing
Group business is a large segment MICE and it is moving towards digital with a 52% increase in online portals, requiring a lot of manual updating. “That’s a lot of time and, in the end, we will need to automate this,” she says. Meanwhile, she believes there should be little human involvement in quoting for smaller groups.
Janneke tells us about the importance of the corporate side of the business. This has been boosted by focusing on the data quality of unmanaged accounts. It’s about gathering emails and getting people to opt in for GDPR purposes.
Then marketing creates loyalty schemes to encourage direct bookings. “It’s early days, but we’re already seeing that sense of loyalty. While before these unmanaged accounts, they were staying on average two nights with us, they're now staying six.”
Janneke ends by explaining why she prefers the hotel industry side to the hotel technology side. “I get to sit with commercial teams and operations teams, even with different brands. So you learn a lot and it’s great to form part of a company with plans to expand, to work on brands and learn about things where they don't have experience. So it never stops.”