Archive for the ‘Hotel Marketing & Sales’ Category

The significance of a customer’s journey has, in a way, been diluted in today’s digital age. With the landscape diversifying and the consumers inquisitiveness at its peak, searching for the most beneficial option out of the now more numerous options, boils down to a matter of preference.

Take the hotel industry for example. On the one hand, we have the OTAs which burst into existence for the purpose of having a directory of hotels for customers to sift through and make a well thought out decision. On the other hand, we have hotels pulling in guests from sources like corporate bookings and tour agencies apart from the occasional walk-ins. With the scales tipping in favour of the OTAs more than direct bookings from the hotels, the analysis clearly points out a change in the customer journey.

Let me break it up for you and take a look at the stages a customer goes through before making a purchase decision. Following this journey will surely give you some insights into how you can work towards tipping the scales in your favour instead of losing out to the OTAs.

1. The Awareness stage – I need a Holiday:

Most often what triggers the average consumer is the social realm. Seeing a friend holidaying in Spain or an acquaintance from work visiting Paris. It could also be a weekend getaway. Think about it, the first thing that comes to mind when you’re browsing through your social feeds and you come across something like this. You picture yourself on a vacation, breaking away from routine life. Here are some stats that will cement this statement:

  1. 52% of people reported that the inspiration to travel comes from a friend/acquaintances FB photo
  2. Booking coming from offline travel agents
  3. 52% of people reported that the inspiration to travel comes from a friend/acquaintances FB photo

This is most often the stage where a consumer decides his/her travel destination.

2. The Research Stage – I’m definitely going on Holiday:

So once the bug has bitten, and a holiday is on the calendars, we see the research phase commencing. Most often than not, peer-recommendations play an important role in influencing the decision. Reviews, social media images and prices are all a part of this extensive checklist. A study found that exposure to user generated content has had increased conversion rates for hotels. This is the stage where OTAs tend to provide an edge to the customers and hotels lose out on chances of a direct booking. Having a directory of Hotels simultaneously with the reviews of several travellers and an option to book as you browse is definitely a win-win for a traveler.

  1. 77% of people read reviews before choosing a hotel
  2. 53% of them will not book a hotel without reviews
  3. 50% say that reviews have the greatest influence on their bookings
  4. 125% higher conversion rates have been recorded due to customer reviews

3. The book and stay stage – I’m on vacation:

This is the most anticipated stage for the both the traveller and the hotel. Having travelled through the whole screening process your guest is finally at the Hotel and this is where a lasting impression goes a long way. This stage is crucial as it could determine how active your guest will be at uploading photos and boasting about their vacation. It could also determine how vocal your guest will be about his holiday, be it is singing your praises or complaining about a disappointing experience. As a hotel owner, this is the stage where you’d probably want to engage them with a loyalty program or turn them into one of those peers, who will act as a brand ambassador as long as the experience is fresh in the head.

4. The Post-stay stage – I should probably tell people:

The Holiday is done and your guest is back home. The vacation is fresh in their head and the time is right to sneak in that review form. This usually counts as a follow up stage that has become crucial in today’s time. Who knows, those few words of appreciation and an experience to remember might be what tips the scale in your favour for the future.

These 4 stages are the most prominent stages in a travellers hunt for a hotel. Throw in the OTAs and hotels competing for the rights of attracting a guest and we have a field that’s plagued by mist. Rightly called as the Direct Booking Bermuda Triangle by Kristian Valk the co-founder of Hotelchamp.

If this piques your interest, and you would like to dive deeper into the intricacies of where your customers are getting lost in this journey, keep an eye out for ITB Asia 2018. Kristian Valk will be speaking about ‘Why your guests are lost in the customer Journey’. Stay tuned to our social media handles for a deeper understanding about this intriguing topic.

This article was originally published on Hotelogix Blog.

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The hospitality industry is heavily season-dependent and there is only so much one can do that will change this. This makes corporate travelers even more attractive to hotels as they can bring you business round the year. This being the case, how can hotels increase corporate bookings?What are some of the definite ways to appeal to the corporates and win them over?

You might be tempted to think about how a hotel can tailor-create an experience for corporates that will get the job done. And you aren’t wrong. Corporate travelers are almost always on a tight schedule, possibly hopping in and out of meetings. Making their stay a pleasant and convenient one, of course, make a difference. But in today’s world, offering free Wi-Fi, a workstation, etc in the room is basic! Even the smallest of hotels offer free Wi-Fi and a desk and a chair. If your goal is to create a lifetime customer out of corporates, then basic will not cut it. You need to address a problem that is deeper than that.

You need to fix pre-arrival and post-departure issues, as well. And this is only possible with the right cloud-based Property Management System in place.

Let’s consider a corporate’s typical journey with a hotel on a timeline. When there is the need for Mr. A to visit Singapore on a work-related trip, the facilities team gets cracking on planning the trip. Air tickets, hotel stays, logistics, etc need to be sorted. Typically, the facilities manager would email a hotel asking them about availability, requesting them to reserve a room for the specified dates, negotiate a price, etc. And this would take a few email exchanges before the final reservation is made. These exchanges could range anywhere between a day to a week. And this is certainly not the most efficient way of going about things.

Here’s how a right Hotel PMS will make everyone’s life easier.

1. Corporate login:

With a PMS like Hotelogix in place, you can assign separate and unique login credentials to your corporate clients. Like, a corporate booking console for hotels. This login gives them access to real-time inventory of your hotel, from where they can themselves select rooms, dates and make a reservation for their employees. A confirmation email gets sent automatically to the registered email id. Reservation is so much more simplified this way. This arrangement works perfectly for the hotel as well as the corporates, since there is no dependency on emails. No more waiting, no more fear of losing out on a booking due to negligence, etc.

2. Corporate Profile:

Hotelogix PMS allows corporates to create their own corporate profile or (contractor trait). This profile will contain all details of the arrangement that the corporate has with the hotel. This includes discounting details, billing details, billing address, payment details, etc. Every time you get a corporate traveler, the front desk staff just needs to key in the name of the corporate and voila! All the details relating to the billing get auto-filled.

3. Guest History

Apart from company profile, there is also the feature of guest history which immensely simplifies the check-in process. Once the company profile is selected, the front desk staff will then have to quiz the corporate traveler by name, the type of id they are carrying and other details which again can get very tiresome. With the guest profile feature, if the corporate traveler is a return guest, this data gets picked automatically upon typing out the guest’s name. As simple as that.

4. Billing

Often, corporate travelers are in a hurry. Minimizing formality and doing away with unnecessary processes can go a long way in improving their experience. Checkout is one such process which needn’t always be as hectic. With Hotelogix in place, a corporate traveler can just present his corporate id at the front desk to check out. The invoice can get emailed to the company directly, automatically. ‘Billed to Company’ if you will.

5. Allocated inventory:

Apart from all these features which are from the traveler or the corporate’s perspective, here is one other PMS feature that helps hotels. While the option of allocating a certain amount of your inventory to your corporates is handy, the hotel still has the convenience to entertain walk-ins with the rest of their available rooms. This way, not only does the hotel serve the corporates but also has scope for other bookings. This is important because one needs to diversify the sources of bookings for maximum occupancy.

Hotelogix is an extremely well-thought out cloud PMS which not only takes into account short-term requirements of the hotel, but also the long-term ones. Loyalty is not going to happen overnight. It comes after repeated positive experiences and the only way to do it is to put yourself in your guest’s shoes. With a PMS like Hotelogix in place, you set the tone right with corporates, communicating to them that you care about simplifying their experience- be it booking, check-in, stay or check-out.

This article originally published on Hotelogix Blog.

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Independent hotel owners have a huge set of responsibilities to manage their hotel on a daily basis. Additionally, the increasing levels of competition only add to the worries. There are enormous challenges pertaining to an independent hotel’s digital marketing plan. Reason – travelers are getting tech-savvy and sometimes, hoteliers lack the urgency to adopt technology. Marketing your hotel rooms online is more than merely updating on OTA sites. To promote a hotel online, you require a combination of skills, strategies and of course, the right use of smart technologies.

Here are 4 challenges in hotel marketing faced by most independent hotel owners.

Making the move towards a cloud-based property management system will resolve all the challenges in hotel marketing. It’s easy to bring down costs, reduce dependency on manpower, sell rooms faster and do much more with a hotel PMS.

This article originally published on Hotelogix Blog.

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Millennials are the first generation that grew up with close proximity to internet, mobile phone/smartphones and televisions. Their exposure to technology sets them apart from the previous generations. Talking about millennials in the hospitality industry, their entire experience – right from making the reservation to checkout, they expect something new from the hotel. They use their phones to book hotels, on the go. They look at guest reviews before booking their stay. They are not satisfied with the word ‘average’, they need more. That’s why, hoteliers must find newer ways to market their properties to this young, tech-savvy and demanding generation.

The vast millennial population makes them a major target group for all businesses. As a generation, they are more well-travelled and adventurous than the previous generation. So, to attract millennials to your hotel, you must understand their unique persona. This would help you to cater to their demands, too.

Characteristics that set millennials apart, as the major consumer demographic:

1. Millennials prefer self-service

2. They prefer customization over generalization

3.This generation is super connected over different devices and platforms

4. They appreciate and value brand engagement on social media

5. Millennials are known to be less tolerant when it comes to compromises in experience

So, here are 5 tips on how to market your hotel to millennials –

1. Your customer facing technology should be flawless

Be it your hotel booking system or your query management system, it should be simple and flawless. Use your hotel website and social media channels to get increased direct booking from millennials. This might seem like an obvious point, but most hoteliers miss on that. Their immense knowledge on technology makes them expect flawless and organized systems. If you are asking them to fill a form before booking, they most probably won’t and will look for another option. Don’t forget to offer them flexible check-in and check-out facility.

2.  The customer experience is a social activity, make sure it is worth it

Millennials are a very outspoken bunch of people, be it on online platforms or offline. They are likely to talk about their experience with others. Their online presence is made visible in social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc. They talk good about your property when they are happy with your services. Similarly, they don’t hesitate to criticize you when they don’t get value for their money. Subsequently, it influences the decisions of their friends and family in the network. They are more likely to appreciate things that are pretty, non-fussy and abstract.

3. You should be open to collaborations

This generation includes a lot of social influencers who can make or breaking your stance. Influencers want to collaborate with properties they are impressed with. Their social presence brings you into the limelight of all their followers. It’s a great way to reach out to a target group in a very small time. Hoteliers who understand the behavior of millennials in the hospitality industry will have an edge over others.

4.  Customize your services according to them

Millennials’ exposure to technology has enabled them to have a vast outlook. They are experimental by nature and are curious to know about things. Different likes and preferences leads them to have very selective tastes. Enable them to use their smartphones to control their room HVAC and lighting. You can even go one step further and allow them to customize their rooms as per their needs from your website while making the reservation. Things like these help in creating better relationships between millennials and hotels.

5. Have loyalty programs that make them feel connected to you

Millennials expect loyalty programs to follow a transaction, or after their stay at your hotel. It makes them feel special. Acknowledging their engagement with your hotel and offering them loyalty programs would help you to attract them in future. However, never push them to redeem all their points at your property. They might not like it. Allow them to use some of their points to buy whatever they like – a spa treatment, gym membership, or even some electronic gadgets.

Millennials always keep looking for different types of experiences. Make sure that they get to know about local attractions like – a popular bar, pub, or even a restaurant near your hotel while you try to attract them via your marketing efforts. Offer them the authentic local food of your area. Attracting and serving millennials is quite a task. But, this can be done with a right mix of technology, and personal touch.

We would love to hear about your strategy on this issue in the comments section below.

The article is originally published on Hotel-Online.com

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Increasing direct bookings would be one of the most rewarding (but just as challenging) tasks for any hotelier. Given the vast market size and share of third party booking sites, it is becoming in increasingly important for hotels to work towards maintain the right balance between OTA bookings and direct bookings.

There’s no denying the role of OTAs in getting you more bookings. However, increasing direct bookings is better for your hotel business simply because it helps you minimize the cost of OTA intermediation. After all, 20% saved is 20% earned! Keeping this simple fact in mind, here are some tips to boost your hotel’s direct bookings.

1. Optimize your website 

When we talk about how to increase direct bookings, your hotel’s website plays a crucial role. It must have a strong digital identity to attract maximum visitors. Your hotel website should be visually attractive, easy to navigate and above all it should be user-friendly.

It should be properly optimized for search engines. This makes your hotel website more visible on search engines, thus attracting increased visitors. You must consider using relevant content in your website to garner organic traffic to your website. Most importantly, your hotel website should be mobile responsive. Because, bookings coming from mobile devices is expected to shoot to around 35% in 2018. That’s a substantial jump considering that it was at 8% till as recent as 2017!

Your website should not take long time to load.

According to Tnooz, 32% of bookings on mobile devices are abandoned due to slow loading time.
Around 30% will abandon a transaction due to poor mobile responsiveness.
This could lead to around 10% reduction in direct booking conversion

Make your reservation phone number or mail id clickable on all the pages .It would help a guest to click and call or write a mail to your reservation department directly from his phone. You should have a clear call to action button, too.

2. Incorporate a booking engine into your website

Integrating a web booking engine into your brand website enables your website visitors to view the availability of rooms in real time. This real-time information made available to them is one of the easiest ways to increase direct hotel bookings. Guests would even receive instant confirmation against their bookings directly from your hotel PMS. This enhances a guest’s confidence that the hotel would definitely honour the booking.

3. Promote positive guest reviews on your website 

Almost 98% of travellers read hotel reviews and 80% of them consider them extremely important before making the final reservation. Good reviews can influence a traveller’s booking decision in a big way.  This is why it is paramount to strategically position and promote positive guest reviews on your website. It should be visible throughout all the pages till a visitor is done with the whole booking process.

Go a step further than just collecting reviews. Proactively follow up on reviews and respond to them; especially the bad ones. This communicates to prospective guests that you are a brand that cares for your guests and will definitely fetch you a brownie point. 

4. Entice your website visitor with offers or freebies 

Once visitors are on your website, you can give them compelling reasons to book directly with you. Clearly mention the kind of perks they are entitled to if they make direct bookings. Here are some of the examples – ‘Book with us directly & get 10% off on your F&B bill’, ‘Book with us directly to avail an easy room upgrade facility’ etc. Everybody wants more and hotel guests are no exception to this. According to Skift, around 45% of travellers consider offers and perks important to make booking.

5. Handle booking abandonment tactfully 

Are your prospective guests leaving your website at the search stage? They come all the way to the booking page by keying-in their mail id and phone number, but don’t hit the ‘Book Now’ or ‘Pay’ button? This is not good if you are looking to boost your hotel’s direct bookings.

Gather insights from their journey on your website. Take a close look at what kind of rooms they looked at before leaving your website. Write to them or call them, try to help them if they express their concern over the price of the room. Offer them best possible rate and tell them how booking directly with you can also get them a free breakfast during the stay. This type of personalized approach will bring them back to your property.

6. Offer loyalty programs 

Incentivize your guests with loyalty programs to book direct with you. Tell them that they can earn points that can be easily redeemed not only at your hotel, but also at outlets of their choice. This will not only a great hotel direct booking strategy, but also something that will help build a long-term association with your guests.

7. Enable booking via Facebook 

Offer an easier booking process to travellers via social media platforms like Facebook. Implement a booking engine that can be integrated with your brand’s Facebook page. It would help travellers to book direct with you from your hotel’s Facebook page.

8. Grow your presence on metasearch engines 

According to Trivago, around 50% of all online bookers use metasearch to find their ideal hoteland this trend is set to go up in coming years Metasearch engine helps travellers doing an informed hotel reservation by allowing them to compare a hotel’s price listed on several OTAs. It also shows the price mentioned on hotel website. This prompts a traveller to visit the hotel’s brand website, thus giving a boost to direct booking. 

Knowing how to increase direct bookings for your hotel is one of the easiest and most effective ways of building the credibility of your brand. All it takes is little of initial effort. These were eight tips to increase direct bookings for your hotel. Have you tried any of these strategies and witnessed an increase in your hotel’s direct bookings? We’d love to know. Leave us a comment here.

Struggling to increase your hotel’s direct bookings? Try Hotelogix PMS! 

This article was originally published on https://www.hotelnewsresource.com/article98562.html

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