At a time when everyone has access social media, a single incident of bad customer experience due to a bad listing can tarnish the image of your travel business in a jiffy. Businesses can no longer rely on manual checks; hence automated hotel mapping is the need of the day.
New York Times reported a story of a non-existent hotel following an incident in Colombia; where a lady didn’t find the hotel, she booked online at the location. Her social account said, “On a recent family vacation to Cartagena, Colombia, we showed up for a one-night stay at a hotel that exists only on the internet. My son had a dislocated shoulder from a mountain-biking accident earlier in the day, his pain meds were wearing off, and it was New Year’s Eve. I booked it through Expedia; there is even a name for the same bogus property at a slightly different location on Google Maps. I have gotten lousy customer service trying to report this, and last I checked, the listing for the hotel is still live”.
You will find many stories like the above in the media – when people either don’t get correct hotel information or do not find the necessary information at all.
As someone who runs a travel business, you would think how these big online travel businesses with all the resources could not weed out such listings from their portals. The truth is – with hotel-level data coming from so many suppliers or consolidators or some may even call them bed banks, it’s not technically possible to get rid of all the bad listings manually—that is where hotel mapping comes into the picture.
What is Hotel Mapping?
Hotel mapping is an automated process of curating hotel content data coming from different supplier entities and merging it by grouping hotel IDs and creating a unique ID for every true hotel. The process ultimately removes all the duplicate listings and presents hotel data such as description, type, geolocation, zip codes, latitude-longitude, policies, etc. In a unified manner.
Moreover, hotel mapping enables hotel businesses to present accurate data to their end consumers and helps them eliminate the chances of bad consumer experiences like the one we mentioned above.
Why’s hotel mapping critical for travel businesses?
As manual management of property listings on travel portals is no longer effective or sustainable, hotel mapping becomes a critical tool for all players in the travel market, irrespective of the nature of their target customer.
To offer a better understanding of the same, we have listed major travel businesses and illustrated how hotel mapping positively impact them.
Online Travel Agencies (OTAs)
OTAs source hotel content from multiple channels like suppliers and bed banks, so the odds of them getting duplicate and inconsistent entries go significantly higher. The case we presented at the start of the article resulted from inconsistency in hotel data only. There emerges the need for a hotel mapping solution that is automated and maps hotel content with maximum accuracy.
Destination Management Companies (DMCs)
Destination Management Companies are in the business of offering aggregated travel services to customers at a comparatively affordable rate in the form of tour packages at a particular destination. Also, they have to ace both their branding and affordability to compete in the same market. To secure affordability, they also source hotels from various channels. But often, the pursuit of affordability gets DMCs a bad name because of inconsistent hotel data, and customers latch on to them. Hotel mapping solutions solve this problem for DMCs and allow them to control their inventory themselves.
Tour operators offer their clients localized holiday packages (accommodation, travel, and transfers). So, they need the most descriptive accommodation data. Apart from being correct, they have to show activities and attractions on their booking portal to get a competitive advantage over other players offering booking services in the travel market. And it’s a big ask to fetch nearby attractions and activities correctly and keep them updated manually.
Therefore, they have to map their accommodation data with multiple suppliers. Hence, they need a hotel mapping solution to keep their accommodation data accurate and updated.
Many small and even big suppliers have direct contracts with large hotel chains, where they agree to purchase a certain percentage of their available hotels on specific dates. Also, they have partnerships and integrate with other suppliers to increase their coverage of hotels. If they sell those hotels without mapping with the hotel chain and other suppliers, they are always in risky territory. As there’s no check on instances of inconsistent and duplicate listing, even if it happens on specific dates. So, here comes the role of hotel mapping, which allows suppliers to do safe business by mapping all the suppliers of their direct contracts.
As stated earlier, the need for hotel mapping is independent of the travel market you operate in; it’s the demand of the day to run travel businesses sustainably.