When it comes to the travel industry, finding the right hotel suppliers is vital for any business. These suppliers play a crucial role in driving sales by offering the latest hotel products, rates, and inventory, as well as providing incentives and upgrades for travel agents and delivering hotel content. But how do you choose the perfect hotel supplier for your travel business? Here are 9 tips to help you evaluate your existing provider or select a new supplier partner.
9 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Hotel Supplier for Your Travel Business
The reason so many hotel suppliers exist is that some specialize in specific regions and have access to better rates than others. Does your customer book hotels in a certain region? Make sure your hotel supplier is aligned and focused on the same regions you are strong in. This strategy will attract more customers and facilitate faster property sales.
Rates are important, but so are technical capabilities when evaluating a hotel supplier for your travel business. Some of the technical aspects you want to evaluate are:
How fast is their API response time?
Do they provide advance notifications during scheduled downtime?
Can they scale with your growing travel business?
Do they employ cutting-edge technologies to deliver the best solutions for agents?
Their responses will give you valuable insights into their capabilities.
Look-to-Book Ratio (and Penalties)
Some hotel suppliers are stricter than others when it comes to their look-to-book ratio. Make sure to look at your current ratio, calculate your future scaling of the business, and verify if you will be violating your supplier's permitted ratio. Also, look into what is the penalty for surpassing that ratio.
Does your travel business cater to a luxury travel audience? Budget travel audience? Or is your audience more focused on beach resorts rather than city hotels? For member-based travel businesses, it's essential to find a supplier that offers closed user group rates. Make sure that your potential hotel supplier provides competitive rates for the type of hotel that resonates with your audience.
Is the majority of your potential supplier´s content sourced via direct contracting? Or are they sourcing from other suppliers?
Payment Terms & Line of Credit
When evaluating a hotel supplier, it's important to consider their payment terms and line of credit. These factors can significantly impact your cash flow and financial stability. Here are some key points to look for:
Payment Terms: Review the supplier's payment terms and conditions. Understand when payments are due and whether they offer any flexibility or negotiation options. Consider factors such as the frequency of payments (e.g., monthly, or quarterly), the payment method accepted, and any discounts for early or bulk payments.
Line of Credit: Determine if the supplier offers a line of credit. This refers to an agreement that allows you to purchase inventory or services on credit up to a certain limit. Assess the terms, conditions, and requirements associated with the line of credit, such as interest rates, repayment terms, and any collateral or guarantees needed.
Creditworthiness of the Supplier: Evaluate the financial stability and creditworthiness of the supplier. Assess their reputation, industry standing, and any available financial reports or ratings.
Negotiation Potential: In some cases, payment terms and credit arrangements can be negotiated with the supplier. If your business has specific needs or preferences, consider discussing these with the supplier to see if they are open to adjusting their standard terms.
Rates & Commissions
In the highly competitive travel market, it's crucial to partner with a supplier that offers the best commission rates and competitive net hotel prices. Aligning your hotel rates with customer expectations will give you an edge over competitors and help sell more properties at the best rates.
Strong Operations & Customer Support
Customer support is the lifeblood of online travel agencies (OTAs), so it's vital to collaborate with a supplier that provides excellent support. When choosing a supplier, focus on their operations and customer service capabilities. They should ensure smooth post-booking confirmations and efficiently handle any customer queries that may arise.
Detailed Hotel Attributes
Due to the lack of standardization in the hotel industry, the same hotel room can appear with different attributes from different suppliers. Make sure to choose a supplier that provides accurate inventory and up-to-date hotel content. This includes essential details such as room amenities, correct meal plans, updated tax information (city, resort etc), hotel addresses, geocodes, room images, star ratings, and more.
In conclusion, selecting the right inventory supplier is a critical decision for any travel business. By carefully considering factors such as robust technology, support for custom rates, regional coverage, pricing structure, operations and fulfillment support, and high-quality hotel content, you can make an informed choice that will positively impact your business. Remember, the right supplier can enhance the customer experience, improve sales, and propel your travel business to new heights. So take the time to evaluate your options and choose a supplier that aligns with your business goals and values. With the right partnership, your travel business can thrive and create memorable experiences for your customers.