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Managing the Complexities of Third-Party Content

Now more than ever before, consumers are driving the content they want — and don’t want — to see. In the hospitality industry, this often insatiable desire fuels demand for increasingly granular content in an ever-increasing variety of booking sites. This demand, in addition to collecting, creating, curating, and distributing content, can be daunting — and this is without factoring in global partners’ differing prescriptive content and image requirements. How do we as hoteliers control the content chaos? The HSMAI Global Distribution Advisory Board recently discussed how they are managing content.

Challenges

The advisory board members identified the following as challenges when it comes to managing content, particularly third-party content:

“During the pandemic, we all had to update our content so much faster, and it changed all the time. We were challenged to update that seamlessly, and it was a large effort. And that’s on top of getting feedback from the properties because it’s their responsibility to provide that information to us. This raises the focus around content management and the need for it to be an easier process across the channel.”

“Aside from the content management platform, the issue is what you put on it. You first have to determine what the content is for, and it has to be accurate, and it has to sell — and the content that sells may be different for the leisure customer, the business customer, and the group customer.”

“[In addition to different geography], there are different languages to consider. So, if you have a hotel in Uzbekistan, are you going to translate all that content in Vietnamese for the two customers there who speak the language? Maybe not. The issue with content is that getting it right is costly and it’s hard to justify the investment. Everybody intellectually agrees that it needs to be done, but when you have to present a business case for it, it gets put off year after year.”

“[The content function] needs to come under the commercial team. It can’t sit in any one discipline; it needs to go across all. Also, we need to be specific when we talk about content because everyone has a different interpretation of it. Is it what we read on the GDS? Is it rich video content or inspirational lifestyle social media posts? Getting more alliance on what we mean when we say content is something that needs to be addressed as well.”

“A big obstacle right now is the OTAs and the wholesalers. Many of the wholesalers are still in the dark ages with manual, where you have to email them content and images. I push our partners about automating content, but there’s just no investment on the technology side. I think it’s something we need to jointly continue to push.”

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Solutions

Here are five tips to help manage your organization’s content in an effective way:

Build a case for having a person or team manage third-party content in your organization. As one advisory board member pointed out, “I have a dedicated third-party content team, and they are attached at the hip to the web team and call center team. Each team is responsible for their own content, but if the properties make requests to update content, it goes into a joint inbox, so everybody knows they have to update it on their channels. With third parties doing content scores that affect your sort order, it’s important to have a team dedicated to staying on top of it.”

Invest in technology providers for image and content management where possible.

Create content with the goal of making it reusable, not specific to a particular channel, product, or location.
Audit your content as often as possible or, at the very least, check your content scores on the sites that provide it.
Involve your reservation teams. This is where guests will call if they cannot find what they need on your website. Use this information to address deficiencies.

HSMAI Global Distribution Advisory Board

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