Sanjay is a Technologist and founder of Vervotech, a SaaS-based accommodation data provider. He also founded techspian.
Every online travel business leader understands how critical it is to have a great partnership with hotel wholesellers. From offering the latest hotel products, rates and inventory, delivering hotel content and providing travel agents with incentives and upgrades for their customers, suppliers can play an essential role in driving travel sales.
But how do you select the right hotel supplier to support your travel business? Based on my industry experience, here are six criteria for choosing your next supplier partner or for making sure your existing hotel provider is hitting the mark.
1. Robust Technology
Technology is the backbone of any modern business, helping offer better business opportunities and customer experience. While vetting a potential supplier, ask yourself these technology-centered questions:
• How fast is their application programming interface (API) response time?
• Do they send advance notifications during scheduled downtime?
• Do they have the ability to scale with your travel business?
• Do they implement cutting-edge technologies to ensure their solutions are the best available for agents?
The supplier’s answers to these questions will help you evaluate them better.
2. Support For Custom Rates
The next factor to look for while vetting the right hotel supplier is whether they offer support for configuring and using custom rates. Suppliers should offer closed user group rates if you have a member-based travel business. But if your business caters to budget travelers, look for suppliers that provide good coverage of cheaper accommodations such as three-star hotel properties, apartments and hostels.
3. Regional Coverage
Partnering with regional suppliers can help your online travel business grow. Regional suppliers usually have a strong foothold in their area and can provide you with hotel products at competitive prices, generating better sales. So, identify where most of your customers are traveling and choose the right supplier in that region. This strategy can help increase customers and sell properties faster.
4. Competitive Pricing Structure
Another factor in vetting a new supplier is their pricing structure. Because the travel market is highly competitive, you will want to partner with a supplier that offers you affordable hotel rooms at the best commissions. If your hotel rates align with what your customers expect, it can help you gain an edge over your competitors and sell more hotel properties at the best rates.
5. Strong Operations And Fulfillment Support
Customers are the lifeline for online travel agencies, so it is essential to partner with a supplier that offers excellent online customer support. Also, focus on whether it has robust operations and fulfillment support. When a traveler books a hotel from an online agency, the supplier should ensure smooth post-booking confirmation and efficiently handle customer queries.
6. High-Quality Hotel Content
Hotel inventory is the heart and soul of every travel business. And the right supplier must provide accurate inventory and up-to-date hotel content such as the hotel address, geocodes, room images and star ratings. Why is this an important factor? Well, we have found that the hotel content instills confidence in customers’ booking decision, builds brand loyalty and can boost sales.
If you are selling hotel products, working with the right supplier can positively impact the customer experience and your business. These six factors can help you assess the right hotel supplier and take your business to the next level.