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).
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.
Channel Management Technology Landscape
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.
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.
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.
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.