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|By John Burns
As individual properties and hotel chains look today at the reservation representation marketplace, they see a much-changed scene from that of just a few months ago.
Both individual hotels and hotel companies seek the services of a reservations representation company and frequently I am called to assist in the evaluation of vendors of these services. Since both the capabilities and suppliers in this market are in the midst of considerable change, I believe it would be worthwhile to get an overview of the services currently offered and identify the major evaluation criteria applied in the selection of a representation services vendor.
In the case of individual hotels, representation services are secured
in order to gain broader toll-free telephone reservation processing than
the hotel can affordably provide, together with GDS and Internet distribution.
Brand-affiliated hotels often receive these services as part of their chain
membership, although they too sometimes wish to supplement their chain’s
efforts by membership in one or more representation services.
Obtaining and thereafter operating a central reservation system, together with maintaining sophisticated connections to the GDSs and numerous onward distribution Web sites, are expensive and complex undertakings. Many hotel companies feel this is outside their core competency, can be a significant, possibly serious distraction from their primary business, and is better delegated to a competent reservations representation organization.
Two Categories of Services
The services of representation companies can be divided into two categories – those that are termed generic and are destination-centered and those that are referred to as private label and are provided in the name of the client.
Callers to the reservations offices of generic services ask about hotels in a city or region and are informed (usually based on selection criteria such as rate) of the names of that representation company’s client hotels in that location (Good morning, All Star Reservations. To what city are you traveling?). GDS searches, which are always destination-based, function in the same way. Generic representation Web sites are organized by destination, with clients clustered together by city. Both individual properties and entire chains contract for generic representation services.
By contrast, in private label service callers telephone a toll-free number specifically assigned to one client and those calls are answered in the client’s name (Good morning, Acme Hotels…). GDS listings are organized by the hotel chain’s own two-letter identification code and a chain-specific policy/procedure/contact data file – a DRS – is maintained. Internet reservations processing is provided on the hotel chain’s own site with only that chain’s properties displayed. With very few exceptions, private label representation is used exclusively by multi-property hotel chains.
Timing of the Search and Implementation
The process for a single property to become a client of a generic-style
reservations representation service is relatively simple, although the
extended sequence of time-consuming steps makes it a longer process than
it might initially appear.
The process is considerably longer when a hotel chain is seeking a representation service supplier. This is largely attributable to the added complexity of each step in the process – defining the requirements, assessing the proposals, negotiating the contract, collecting the property data and entering it into the CRS, the GDS and onto appropriate Web sites — all take longer because of the greater volumes involved. Hotel chains typically begin to evaluate their private label service options and vendor capabilities 12 months prior to activation, with 15 months often an advisable starting point for the process and nine months minimum.
A Time of Industry Transition
As individual properties and hotel chains look today at the reservations
representation marketplace, they see a much-changed scene from that of
just a few months ago. Recent developments include:
The next issue of Hospitality Upgrade will contain an extensive list of the major criteria used by individual properties and hotel chains alike in their evaluation of reservations representation service vendors.
John Burns is a partner with Hospitality Technology Consulting, providing CRS and electronic distribution consulting services. He can be reached at [email protected] or at (480) 661-6797.
Hospitality Upgrade magazine
and the Hospitality Upgrade.com website
|Also See:||Your Bartender is Jessie James and He Needs to Pay for College / Beverly McCay / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2000|
|Understanding and Maximizing a Hotel’s Electronic Distribution Options / by John Burns / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Fall 2000|
|The Future of Electronic Payments - From Paper to Plastic and Beyond / J. David Oder / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Summer 2000|
|Timeshare Technology Steps Up / by Elizabeth Lauer / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / July 2000|
|Biometric Payment: The New Age of Currency / by Geneva Rinehart / Hospitality Upgrade Magazine / Mar 2000|