Direct bookings & your hotel’s guests: Are you attracting, reaching, and converting the social media nudgers?

Hoteliers in today’s global climate must figure out a way to promote their products to audiences across the globe, while consistently striving to identify the target audience that they appeal to the most.

The trick lies in frequently evaluating your current marketing promotions, and adapting them in order to attract new groups of people to your property.

Euromonitor International recently released a report titled ‘Top 10 Global Consumer Trends’ and in it, powerful socio-demographic groups were identified. One such group that hoteliers should work on attracting is ‘The Social Media Nudgers’.

Who are ‘The Social Media Nudgers’?

‘The Social Media Nudgers’ are the tech-savvy travellers who love to reach out to various brands via social media.

Whether it’s a private message on Facebook or a very public Tweet, they aren’t afraid to ask questions and they often expect an immediate response.

The feedback of social media nudgers is critical to your success and your overall online presence, so it’s important to keep them happy.

They can be a little pesky at times, but they’re also easily satisfied if you respond with a solution as promptly as possible.

About 54% of independent hoteliers in the US told Phocuswright and SiteMinder that a positive presence on social media had the biggest impact on their direct bookings.

How are hotel brands responding to them?

Hotel brands are taking ‘The Social Media Nudgers’ seriously — so much so, that many of them are hiring full-time social media managers in order to respond to inquiries and schedule posts for their accounts.

Since this group of travellers expect instant results and immediate satisfaction, it’s important to have representatives available to respond to all posts, all the time.

Hotel brands are finding that this significantly improves their customer service, and improves their brand overall within the industry.

How do you get them to book direct at your hotel?

There are many ways to attract social media nudgers and encourage them to book directly through your website:

  • Booking via social media such as Facebook
    The social media nudgers are spending so much of their time on, you guessed it, social channels. They turn to platforms like Facebook for research and information – especially during the booking process. Having an online booking engine that can integrate with Facebook is a crucial factor for converting this group of travellers. You can read more about how TheBookingButton plugs into Facebook here.
  • Loyalty-incentives for booking direct
    Your social media nudgers can easily become your hotel’s most loyal guests because they love brands that deliver a great guest experience – and they remain loyal to hotels that acknowledge them and make them feel special. Be smart about attracting and converting this group of travellers by creating loyalty incentives for booking direct. Have a bottle of wine ready on arrival for your guests or follow up post-stay with a next booking discount.

Drive more hotel bookings: 5 ways to make sure your hotel packages pack a punch

Does your property offer packages?

By ‘packages’ we mean special rates for accommodation paired with something extra. That extra could have some in-house value – such as free breakfast or parking – or it could be an off-premise experience, such as tickets to a local attraction.

We’ll go out on a limb and just say it – packages are passé.

At least, the ones with common offers that don’t differentiate one hotel from another. Haven’t we all come to expect a bed and breakfast price everywhere we stay?

So with this in mind, how can your property stand out?

Increase hotel bookings with higher price points

Special offers and value-added packages will increase bookings at higher price points, but it helps when they have intriguing themes that get noticed. The best ones we’ve found have one or more of the following qualities:

  • They incorporate local culture and attractions
  • They serve niche demographic markets or lifestyles
  • They tie in to holidays or special commemorative days
  • They include an extreme or quirky experience
  • They incorporate ultra-luxury, high-end elements

Let’s take a look at 5 great examples of hotel packages for inspiration…

1. Show off local culture and attractions

At the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas, the ‘Cowboy it Up’ package plays on local history and heritage.

This deal includes amenities – such as two pairs of cowboy boots, two Stetson hats, and a cooler with local craft beers and housemade beef jerky – as well as a target shooting session and a grilling demonstration.

“Our packages are always highly anticipated because they are so creative and elaborate,” said general manager Arthur Coulombe.

“This one strikes a chord because it showcases our unique Texas Hill Country ambiance, with a tip of the hat to our proud western culture.”

2. Serve your guests looking for a niche

Look at those speciality markets that you serve. Families with children, pet owners, or people in specific occupations will all appreciate the extra attention.

It’s always wise to cater to kids, so think about activities the whole family can enjoy.

The Frenchman’s Reef & Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands recently introduced the ’Under The Sea’ package with a mix of active and educational adventure, including stand up paddle boarding, swimming with sea turtles, snorkeling excursions, night kayaking, and admission to the St. Thomas Coral World Ocean Park.

Even small properties can offer intriguing packages. At the Caldwell House Bed and Breakfast in New York’s Hudson Valley, active military are entitled to a special ‘At Ease’ offer that includes a visit to the nearby United States Military Academy at West Point.

The Alfond Inn in Winter Park, Florida offers a VIP (“Very Important Pup”) package that welcomes guests to stay in dog-friendly rooms with their pets. Four-legged guests receive complimentary keepsake water bowls, a private dog walker session, and turndown treats. For each package that’s booked, the inn makes a donation to The Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando.

3. Commemorate important dates

Another option is to tie in your package to an upcoming holiday or other significant date.

The advantage to this is while that phrase is trending in the news, there’s a greater chance that your package will be discovered in conjunction with it. The disadvantage is that it could have a finite shelf life, unless you extend it or re-introduce it the following year.

This year, the Bulgari Hotel in London offered a “Royal Package” to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday.

The three-night stay included chauffeur service; private wine tasting; a tour of the royal parks, Westminster Abbey and Kensington Palace; and a riverboat trip to Henley-on-Thames with lunch at the historic Cliveden House.

To commemorate ‘Be a Millionaire Day’ (May 20 for those interested), the Sonesta Coconut Grove in Miami, Florida offers a ‘Be a Millionaire’ package available through August.

Deep-pocketed guests who want to live like a millionaire stay in a two-bedroom suite with an on-call chauffeur, in-room champagne and caviar; a private yacht excursion with a professional photography session; and a pair of freshwater pearl earrings.

4. Think outside the box and go OTT

If your clientele isn’t looking for money-saving packages, you can make your hotel stand out with over-the-top amenities. Incorporate luxury goods and services, like cars.

At the Mandarin Oriental in Prague, the two-night ‘Electrifying Prague’ package provides guests complimentary use of the all-electric BMW i3.

In Italy, Il Salviatino in Florence and Palazzo Victoria in Verona offer the Gran Turismo experience including a self-driven Ferrari tour between Florence and Verona with a stop in Maranello to visit the Ferrari museum.

5. Quirky works, too

Sometimes, the most impactful packages are the ones that get you noticed, even if they don’t bring in that much business. For example, the ‘Ink & Stay’ package at the Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach, California includes a $100 voucher for a tattoo at the nearby Black Rose Tattoo parlour.

The hotel also throws in an ice pack and skin lotion, as well as a bottle of pain-numbing tequila. When the package was introduced, it was covered in major newspapers and online news outlets.

The bottom line here is to be creative. Think about what you can offer within a unique theme, give the package an eye-catching title, and promote it through every marketing channel at your disposal.

Direct bookings & your hotel’s guests: Are you attracting, reaching, and converting the weary sleep-deprived travellers?

The average consumer is bombarded by more than 3,000 marketing messages a day, meaning that most messages go ignored or blocked out.

This is one of the largest challenges facing hotel businesses today, as they find a way to stand out in a market that is immersed with information, flashy visuals and exciting promotions.

For hoteliers, the need to regularly adapt and change marketing messages in order to acquire new guests is real.

According to a recent report released by Euromonitor International and titled ‘Top 10 Global Consumer Trends’ one socio-demographic group that hoteliers need to focus on is ‘The Weary Sleep-Deprived Travellers’.

Who are ‘The Weary Sleep-Deprived Travellers’?

Recent studies show that people today are getting nearly two hours less sleep per night than previous generations, and that increasingly sleep is being considered more of a luxury rather than a necessary part of a healthy lifestyle.

There’s an entire group of travellers who do not value sleep as much, prioritising experiences, connecting via their mobile devices, and juggling their careers.

‘The Weary Sleep-Deprived Travellers’ are often looking to escape to a new location where they can rest and enjoy sleep in a way that they don’t when they are in their own homes.

How are hotel brands responding to them?

Recognising the need for people to enjoy restorative, peaceful sleep in new surroundings, hotel brands across the globe are focusing on this socio-demographic group.

Hotels are beginning to build sound-proof walls that allow guests to enjoy a tranquil space free of noise from other guests as they go to sleep for the night.

Others are offering turndown services, such as playing soft music in the rooms, or providing guests with a bedtime phone call reminding them to turn off their devices about an hour before they go to sleep.

Some hotels like the MGM Grand are even installing dawn simulators versus alarm clocks in order to help their guests rise in a more gentle, natural way.

 

How do you get them to book direct at your hotel?

A few features that you can implement in order to attract The Weary Sleep-Deprived Travellers’ include:

Give them a beautiful website experience

Aspirations are key with this group of travellers as they dream about their next holiday. The Billboard Effect suggests that prospective guests will visit your website after seeing your property on a third party’s site, and so you need to ensure that their first impression of your website inspires them to find out more and book direct.

If your hotel’s website needs a redesign (but you don’t have an endless marketing budget), then consider using a website creator such as SiteMinder’s Canvas. It’s quick and easy to manage, and delivers everything a profitable hotel website needs. You can read more about creating an aspirational hotel website in our FREE guide available by clicking here.

Make sure they can purchase relaxing extras

Your online booking engine should allow for the upsell of extras. Think about the concept of selling sleep and how you can upsell relaxing extras such as an evening massage or a turndown service.

Create sleep-kits that include luxury pillows, earplugs, aromatherapy oils, etc. And sell the equivalent extras package for children that feature bedtime stories and special nightlights. Use an online booking engine, such as SiteMinder’s TheBookingButton, that allows for flexibility and creativity in the upsell of extras.

Revenue management rules: 3 key pieces of advice to help you drive profit at your hotel

Effective revenue management can set the foundation for a profitable, well-run hotel. Without implementing revenue management disciplines, the operations of your hotel business can lack direction.

However, managing revenue effectively is a challenge, with an industry landscape that involves so many distribution channels – wholesalers, travel agents, online travel agents, and meta search just to name a few.

This is why technology like channel managers and market intelligence tools are crucial. The power in SiteMinder’s Prophet solution, for example, is that it breaks market intelligence down into consumable and meaningful insights that matter, and takes away all the white noise that can come with big data.

With more than 20 years’ experience in distribution and revenue management, Eva Lopis, now revenue manager at Gatrooms, shares her best advice for using market insights to optimise pricing strategies in today’s increasingly competitive environment…

A good revenue manager needs to use market insight to be able to adapt to trends and drive revenue, using external factors to influence daily decisions. My top four tips for hotels would be:

1. Look at overall market demand

Look at overall room availability in your town or city, and whether there are any important events coming up that will increase demand. In addition, it is important to look at your Market Penetration Index with providers like STR Global or Fairmas.

2. Eye the competition

It is necessary to compare your availability with the availability of your direct competitors. Finding out their rates is very important; if only a few rooms are available, you will be able to increase your own rates and subsequently increase your average daily rate.

3. Be smart about who you’re selling to

You have to consider the rooms you sell, and to whom. Look for the provider with lower intermediation costs, a lower no-show index, and the most suitable cancellation policy.
Ideally you would like to sell the last rooms directly on your own channels, so you save in intermediation costs.

4. Use technology to action pricing strategies in real-time

Obviously, everything needs to be accompanied by agile pricing management, and reacting very quickly to the market’s changes.

To do so, you need a good channel manager that allows you to manage rates and availability, closing channels or rates plans in order to optimise your room sales.

7 reasons your staff need the help of a channel manager

Across the hospitality and travel industry, technology continues to transform the way people do business.

If your property is not adapting with the times, chances are you will be left in the dust as your competitors capture the most motivated and interested travellers from across the globe.

One system that is absolutely essential is a channel manager. Here are 7 reasons why your hotel needs the help of this technology.

1. It will increase your online bookings

Skift recently released a report, sponsored by SiteMinder, that noted an 8% decrease in telephone bookings for hotels, while online bookings increased by more than 7%.

It’s clear that online bookings are the future and a channel manager will put your hotel in the best place to accept online bookings from all the distribution channels your hotel connects to online.

2. It can improve your brand recognition online

Through a robust channel manager, hundreds of online travel agencies (OTAs) will want to partner with you because your inventory is that much more accurate.

In turn, you will have access to a multitude of guests looking to book rooms online.

The end result is that your visibility and recognition improves amongst both agents and travellers.

3. It will boost direct bookings

While many people think of a channel manager as a great way to connect with the all-powerful OTAs, it also can increase your direct bookings.

Your guests may research various hotel options on an OTA site, but once they discover your brand, they will head to your website in order to finalise their booking. This is what’s known as ‘The Billboard Effect’.

4. It virtually eliminates the risk of overbookings and double bookings

A diverse and eclectic distribution network is necessary in order to maximise your bookings and sell as many rooms as possible.

The only way to partner with as many agents as possible – without the risk of overbooking or double-bookings – is through a channel manager.

A channel manager automates availability, rates, and inventory updates in real-time, so guests can only book rooms that are actually available.

5. It means you no longer have to update your inventory manually

Your staff don’t have to deal with the time-consuming task of manually updating your inventory.

When a room is booked, your inventory is automatically updated across your entire distribution network as well as your own website.

6. It unifies your other systems

A modern channel manager will be able to integrate with your existing property management system, central reservation system, or revenue management system – allowing you to have one central hub for all of your hotel’s operations.

Such real-time integrations keep everything in sync and lower your cost of acquisition. They connect your hotel synergistically to all the systems needed to drive revenue, processing everything from reservations and guest information to check-in and check-out times.

You can then use your channel manager data to adjust your strategy accordingly – reduce availability, close out rooms, or increase rates on the channels that generate the least revenue – in favour of those that are more profitable.

7. The proof is in the pudding

Many hotels that have adopted channel managers are reaping the benefits of increased productivity and revenue.

For example, The Observatory Hotel, a 4.5-star hotel in Australia, achieved a 300% growth in direct bookings over a period of 12 months by using SiteMinder’s Channel Manager and integrated booking engine.

The Science of Supply and Demand: Is your hotel maximizing room revenue?

The theory of supply and demand is one of the fundamental principles of economics.

However, it’s not something constrained to leading economists.

And when it comes to maximizing your hotel’s revenue, supply and demand is a principle that should be cleverly implemented.

For those less familiar with the theory – or if swotting in school is nothing but a distant memory – let’s use ice cream as a refresher (pun definitely intended)…

Demand is the measure of how much a certain item is wanted. The demand for ice cream is typically weather-dependent. So, in the winter demand for ice cream goes down.

Supply, on the other hand, is the measure of how available a certain item is. The supply of ice cream is fully-dependent on demand. So, in the winter demand for ice cream goes down, and therefore the supply goes up.

The next piece in the supply and demand puzzle is price.

There’s absolutely no point in monitoring supply and demand if you’re not going to use the fluctuations to your advantage.

Price has a big role to play and is the connector in the supply and demand theory.

Let’s look at ice cream again as an example – but this time in the summer months.

Demand for ice cream in the summer is high, causing the supply to become limited. So, an ice cream vendor can charge higher prices during peak times.

 

How can hoteliers use the principle of supply and demand for revenue management?

Measuring and monitoring the supply and demand of your hotel rooms is the number one tactic you should employ when it comes to boosting your revenue growth.

Here are 5 important things to consider in order to maximize bookings and revenue at your hotel at any time of the year:

1) Generate demand – don’t just manage it
Strategic control of your hotel’s inventory is the name of the game to engage revenue management disciplines.

Your aim with revenue management should go beyond increasing room rates or occupancy – you should be working towards maximizing your hotel’s average nightly room revenue using the principle of supply and demand.

By making smart pricing decisions with the available data, you’ll be able to generate demand instead of simply managing it.

2) Consult your sales and marketing staff
You can’t boost your hotel’s revenue on your own. You’ll need to enlist the help and support of your sales and marketing team if you’re to achieve great things and surpass your targets.

Figures from HotelExecutive.com show that hotels integrating marketing and revenue strategies and departments benefit from a 6% uplift in revenue.

Take a holistic approach to revenue management and include your sales and marketing experts in daily, weekly, and monthly revenue forecasts. It’ll go a long way towards giving you the competitive edge if you can collaborate to attract new and repeat guests.

3) Break down your analysis to forecast correctly
All the best revenue management strategies are primarily based on market intelligence and forecasts of supply and demand.

Analyzing your competitor set, and combining that information with powerful room distribution technology, can help you build a reliable forecast picture.

Combining the data from both a channel manager and a revenue management system can be an influential tool for your analysis.

Think about breaking down the data further looking at booking channels, room types, average length of stay, booking behavior, and traveler segment.

It will help you to create accurate forecasts and will give you the ammunition you need to adapt your pricing based on supply and demand.

4) Pay attention to your local competition and react
Do you know the pricing strategies of your nearest five hotels? It’s entirely possible for you get access to this information quickly and accurately.

Using a pricing intelligence solution that analyzes your local competition in real-time will save you hours.

Once you have access to this valuable data, you can then begin to react to the local market intelligence and make more meaningful room pricing decisions to put your hotel ahead.

5) Choose the right technology for your hotel
Just because you can afford a super-sophisticated piece of technology, it doesn’t mean you always need it.

When choosing hotel technology, such as a pricing intelligence solution, it’s important that it suits your property’s needs and size. Look for features and benefits that speak to your hotel’s requirements. For example, technology that can offer data which is pulled in real-time will be much more beneficial to your competitor and pricing analysis.

Don’t create more work for yourself by choosing complex technology – something smart and simple that helps you take the guesswork out of your pricing strategy will give you all the control you need.