Google is forecasting that until 2015 most people will do their online shopping (including hotel rooms) from smart-phone and tablet devices. So since travelers are going mobile, hotels have to follow this trend, providing a mobile-compatible website and booking engine. (If you have not tried it out yet – please search for your hotel on a mobile device and try to book – it will be a frustrating experience).
Frequently Asked Questions
It is surely much easier and convenient to avoid the online marketing and online sales. But it is unavoidable for hotels and small accommodation providers, who are searching for options to increasing their income and profitability. It is all about balance: Hotels should not work with one Tour Operator or OTA only to avoid dependence. Start creating direct bookings and instant income with a professional website and booking engine. Your listing on OTA’s and on tour operator sites will even support your direct bookings. This event is called “Billboard-Effect” and means, that offline bookings and searches for your hotel are increasing as soon as a property is featured on third party distribution platforms.
The landscape of distribution through tour operator, wholesaler and travel agents has become very complex. It is quite crowded within the travel supply chain with suppliers of hotel rooms, airline seats, tour packages and cars along with intermediaries, OTAs, GDSs, B2B Accommodation Wholesalers, price comparison sites, branded dotcoms – all are part of the huge online travel market and world-wide connection. Via several intermediaries, you might find your hotel being offered on B2C sites far below your official sales rates. To protect your official sales rates you might need to change your contract strategy and B2B pricing, set terms & re-sales conditions and try to contract B2C rates incl. Commission for the intermediaries connected with a B2C website (who are selling rooms only).
Most travelers book their rooms via mouse instead of phone, surfing a number of different websites before booking . Who provides the best offer and the best, simplest and clearest way of booking gets the booking. Keep in mind, that your customers want mobility, flexibility and easy real-time access to all information. Therefore, hotel websites with “On-Request” booking forms are outdated and also small accommodation providers are missing out on one of the most powerful marketing tools available.
Most discussed topic among hotels is certainly the question about how to increase direct online sales and so reduce the payable commission to OTA’s and third-party sites. First of all: Reducing the price on your own website and/or ‘stop sale’ OTA’s while your website still shows availability does not work in the long-term. OTA’s compare rates and check availability before closing their own channel so the ‘game’ about rate/availability-parity has to be played fair.
Hoteliers have other options though, such as packaging (incl. transfer or other extra’s), offering discounts to a limited audience (mail marketing, social media), discounts for the next stay directly at the reception. Great Add-ons are free WIFI, free parking and free breakfast for direct booking customers. Also ensure, that your own website and (instant) booking engine has excellent images, all necessary information, is easy to use, trustworthy and provides all commonly used and secured payment methods.
There is no ‘One-fit-for-all’ social media strategy. Social media can work for hotels as long as you will pick the most suitable platform/s for your business and you understand, what social networks are all about on the first place: Sharing, emotions, stories, giving-and-receiving – not instant booking. Your social media campaign should remind guests of the great time they had at your hotel and to turn potential guests into bookers. To do so, you will need to make your guests sharing their experience and talking about your business.
Travelers visit 38 sites before booking a vacation according to Expedia Media Solutions study. So it is no surprise, that your hotels’ website needs to transmit quality, professionalism and credibility together with a good design, comfortable look-and-feel and easy and quick online booking process. Converting visitors into bookings requires detailed analysis of your hotels’ website as well as your current marketing- and sales situation.
Get in touch with us and we will help you to plan out marketing strategies to increase your booking values and conversion rates.
You could start by contacting your repeating guests – either by mail marketing or social media marketing, offer promotional discounts during low-season. Be creative – think about your advantages (location, services) and make your hotel more attractive during low season by creating special packages. Start a reward/loyalty program to encourage repeat business.