overview

Channel Management in the hotel industry?

Channel management in the hotel industry is the process of managing online distribution channels to sell your hotel inventory to various agents anywhere in the world, including online travel agents (OTAs), retail travel agents, Meta Search Engines (or aggregators) and Global Distribution Systems (GDS).

Management

t3 Channel Management Technology

Trolltrim has developed a framework, the t3 Channel Management Technology Landscape,to help high-tech channel managers evaluate and select channel management tools and services. The landscape provides terminology to describe business requirements and common definitions, and organizes vendors in functional categories based on their solutions. The landscape does not provide recommendations for which vendors to choose or tools to utilize. As noted above, the right vendors and tools depend on a company’s unique business requirements.

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t3 Channel Management Technology will help you succeed. Let’s get started

Seven Steps

Channel Management Technology Landscape

  • Businesses across all industries are achieving unprecedented productivity gains enabled by investment in software. Gartner, IDC and others have forecasted that spending on enterprise application software, either on-premises or in the cloud, will grow from roughly $150 billion in 2016 to more than $200 billion in 2019. New software tools are enabling businesses to streamline back- and front-office operations, increase collaboration between employees and business partners, and mine insights from the mountains of data that they collect each day. These are truly exciting times.

    High-tech channel managers, along with their peers in other sales and marketing functions, have a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on this wave of innovation. For decades, companies have struggled to utilize technology effectively to manage their channels. Poor data quality, fragmented systems and budget constraints hindered efforts to apply science to the art of channel management.

    Channel managers grappled with manual processes, difficulties measuring channel performance and an inability to allocate investment based on facts versus intuition. The good news is that many channel leaders are overcoming these challenges.

    Most high-tech executives now realize that indirect or hybrid channels drive the vast majority of revenue and profits, and represent the best opportunities for growth. Consequently, they’re implementing new processes and programs to improve collaboration with their partners and the quality of their channel data.

    There’s an increased willingness to invest in new tools and skills to enable these programs, but now there’s a new challenge: With all of the channel management solutions that are available, where should you invest?

    Any channel sales, marketing or operations leader tasked with identifying and comparing available channel management tools soon realizes that there’s no single place to find all of his options.

    The high-tech industry hasn’t defined a common framework or taxonomy that can be used to organize all of the available channel management tools. The challenge is further complicated by the fact that new software vendors and tools are constantly popping up. How do you keep up with all of the vendors and what they offer?

    High-tech channel managers should take a structured approach to the identification, evaluation and selection of channel management tools. To get started, channel managers should follow a seven-step process to develop a comprehensive technology plan for the channel.

Seven Steps

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    Inventory current tools: The first step toward developing a channel management technology plan is to identify the tools that are already in place. Conducting a current state assessment is usually an eye-opening experience because typically most vendors are surprised by how many systems are in place to support the channel. After recently embarking on such an analysis, one leading global high-tech vendor identified more than 200 IT applications that “touched” their channel partners.
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    Identify gaps and redundancies: Many vendors have developed their channel management infrastructure organically over time without the benefit of a clear vision and blueprint. Consequently, the tools that are in place to support the channel often provide overlapping functionality. Individual business units or regions often implement different tools to accomplish the same objective. At the same time, critical pieces of functionality may be missing and key channel management activities are performed manually using standalone spreadsheets.
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    Clarify responsibilities and governance: One challenge that many high-tech vendors face is that responsibilities for the selection, implementation and maintenance of channel management technology are not clearly defined across functions. Before selecting new tools, channel managers should map roles and responsibilities across sales, marketing, finance and operations, and IT and define how technology investment decisions are made.
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    Define and prioritize business and technology requirements: After conducting a gap analysis (step No. 2), many high-tech channel managers find multiple issues that cannot be addressed simultaneously within budget constraints. It’s important to prioritize business and technology requirements based on the strategic priorities for the channel. For example, if a primary objective is to encourage partners to be more self-sufficient and independently generate demand for new solutions, a channel manager might prioritize investment in deal registration and partner ennoblement tools. On the other hand, if the channel manager’s goal is to reduce channel costs and eliminate unnecessary or inaccurate incentive payments, she might prioritize investment in channel data management and inventory management tools.
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    Ensure interoperability and data integration: Many vendors struggle to overcome challenges created by “stove piped” channel management tools. When channel management tools are not integrated, data quality and latency issues emerge. Channel managers should ensure that any tools that are put in place utilize application programming interfaces that make it easy to share data with other systems and enable creation of a central channel data management solution.
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    Identify investment requirements and the supporting business case: Inevitably, requests for additional investment in channel management infrastructure will be met by some with questions and, in some cases, skepticism. Unfortunately with many high-tech providers, channel issues and performance drivers are still not widely understood. Channel managers should comprehensively identify the costs, expected financial benefits, and the risks and dependencies of any channel management technology investment before requesting funds.
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    Develop a channel infrastructure blueprint and implementation road map: Channel managers need to clearly define their channel management technology strategy before investing in new tools. A channel management technology plan should include a blueprint that identifies key business requirements, a summary of IT needs and a road map that outlines how fulfillment of those needs will be sequenced.

No doubt the number of vendors and applications to enable channel sales, marketing and operations will continue to increase in the coming months and years. It will be more important than ever for channel managers to clearly define their channel management technology strategy, develop comprehensive technology plans and stay on top of the industry trends.

5 Steps to a More Effective Channel Partner Relationship
Working with a channel sales partner is a unique relationship. Not only is it no longer all about you, your product or service, and your company, they may also work with many other vendors—some of which may be in direct competition with you—and as a result, field a variety of different requests and priorities.

Take the time.

A great sales rep will understand the importance of co-selling with partners, whether it’s a distributor or a partner sales rep. The channel represents feet on the street above and beyond your single self, so it’s time well invested when you work closely together.

Think about it: maybe the distributor has 50 sales reps. If you can motivate even a fraction of them, there’s a greater likelihood of selling much more. This means going out on sales calls, buddying up, and answering questions, as well as potential social activities such as dinner or a ballgame. Your success is dependent on them, and effective channel management can only happen if you take the time and invest in the relationship.

Promote together.

It’s very important to work tightly with partners on promotional activities. For example, a partner may come to you and say they doing a trade show or a special event, and they’d like you to be represented. Yes, you will show up as the vendor or the manufacturer, but you’ll play an active role in helping to generate leads. This will also help the partner sales reps see how you sell because you know your product or service intimately. And the best part is you can actively play a role to directly hand over new leads to the partner reps.

Get social.

Speaking from practical experience, when a sales rep is active in a social media community, there’s an amazing amount to learn by listening. It’s a very good place to learn what, where, and how you should be selling. Customers are asking questions, but so are distributors and partners. By participating in these forums, a sales rep—and all of the other partners—can provide their own unique expertise to questions depending on where they are coming from. A sales rep’s time spent on social media communities, particularly the private communities that companies have where they invite their customers, is a tremendous way to sell more effectively through partners.

Practices community for CM

Following on with social media, there is also the opportunity to create shared experiences and communities. This can take the form of invitation-only pages for all vendors, partners, and companies, and customers to all come together and share best practices.

Why would a distributor want to be a part of a best practices community? From the partner side, their success obviously depends on the ability to sell the products. But they also need “just in time” information that can help them be specific enough to address a customer problem that they’re facing and trying to address. In a B2B social media community, they can find applicable success stories from other distributors, partners, and customers. They can also ask questions to each other. These answers aren’t just from the vendor or the manufacturer, but also other partners doing the exact same thing they are. If your distributor management strategy enables a community of best practices.

channel partner.

You can also encourage co-investing between your organization and the channel partner. Remember, a channel partner would always like to have more salespeople, but they cost money. So your company could actually co-sponsor or co-invest with dedicated sales reps. This makes it very attractive to the partner—and you have reps who are very interested in your own product.

If your company co-invests, you can say, “We will pay for 50 or 75 percent of the sales rep, but here’s the criteria. They have to go to our rep training school or make X number of new calls per day to new customers. Or we will reward the rep three times the amount of commission to a new customer versus an old customer.” There are many different ways that your company can incentive the representatives with co-investing, and it can be an incredible leverage to create new sales and build a true working relationship.

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