Distribution remains key for independent hotels

March 3, 2010

By Patrick Mayock
Associate News Editor
Distribution remains key for independent hotels

NASHVILLE, Tennessee—The way Tom Magnuson sees it, owners of independent hotels have two options when it comes to the downturn: They can sit back and wait for the cycle to run its course, or they can take charge through proactive distribution of their property.

During the first in a series of regional meetings that will take the co-founder and co-principal of Magnuson Hotels throughout the country (he shares the titles with his wife, Melissa), he urged members in attendance to adopt the latter approach.

“There’s a lot of bad news, but what we want to do is replace uncertainty with certainty,” Magnuson said. “There are things that can be done by taking action no matter what the economic climate is.”

One of those things is making every guestroom available to travelers. Spokane, Washington-based Magnuson Hotels, which has about 1,000 member hotels, provides owners the revenue management services to do just that, offering a comprehensive approach that covers online travel agents, global distribution, direct-marketing programs and social marketing review sites such as TripAdvisor without nonrevenue producing franchise fees.

Magnuson likened the process to stocking a Frito-Lay stand at a local gas station. When well-stocked, the stand offers hungry patrons a variety of attractive options within arms’ reach.

Making sure a given property appears on the first page of Orbitz or Expedia search results is more important now than ever before, he added, as increased supply and sagging demand have led to all-out, market-share warfare.

“This is a market in which supply is huge and demand is down,” he said. “We’ve got to go for market share more often. We can’t influence people to come to your town, but we can get in there and fight every day for the business that’s in your town.”

Magnuson offered attendees the following tips for effective distribution of their products:

  • Be everywhere. Potential customers always should be able to find your product no matter the distribution channel they’re searching.
  • Lose the inferiority complex. When it comes to setting rates, independent hoteliers should price their products competitively against comparable brand offerings. Just because you’re not waving the flag of one of the big boys doesn’t mean your hotels should be any less attractive to guests.
  • Sell your entire inventory. Make sure all of your rooms are available for purchase through the appropriate distribution channels.
  • Show off your product. Before posting images online, take pictures that accurately reflect the best your hotel has to offer.
  • Be up front. “Internet users are spoiled rotten by speed; you’ve got to be right up there in front,” Magnuson said about online travel sites.
  • Pay your travel agent commissions. Don’t neglect these ambassadors of your product. “They’ll make you so much money, and they’re higher priced return.”
  • Cut nonrevenue producing costs. “That allows you to be you on your own terms,” he said.

About Magnuson Hotels, the fastest growing hotel chain in history.
In only seven years, Magnuson Hotels headquartered in Spokane, WA has become the world’s largest independent hotel group, representing nearly 1500 hotels and a combined affiliate base with assets in excess of $5.5 Billion. One of the top 10 global hotel chains, Magnuson Hotels was the #1 Hotel Company of Inc. Magazine’s 2009 annual ranking of the 5,000 fastest growing privately owned U.S. companies. With a four year reservation sales growth of 595%, Magnuson Hotels is listed in the top 100 U.S. business services companies.

For more information, contact:
Magnuson Hotels