- 31st October 2019
Your guide to more direct bookings.
More direct bookings- the mantra of every hotelier.
With connectivity being such a fundamental part of our lives today, travellers are online at every stage of their journey. Whether it’s social media, review sites or your own website – there’s a huge audience of potential customers active online, just waiting to be inspired and satisfied.
McKinsey produced a study that laid out the new consumer decision journey, which is summarised in five stages and cover consumer’s behaviour before, during, and after their experience. Guestline, the global leader in cloud technology for hotels, property management systems, distribution and digital marketing solutions, adapted the McKinsey’s concept to the hospitality industry and delved further into these five stages to best determine how your property can engage with and attract more guests. Whether a guest is ‘dreaming’, ‘planning’, ‘booking’, ‘experiencing’ or ‘sharing’, there is a way for your property to assist them every step of the way……
1. Provide the DREAM inspiration
A destination featured in a magazine; a picturesque scene in a movie or a friend’s holiday photos on Instagram may be the spark that inspires the dream, which in turn, is what kickstarts the potential customers to process direct bookings. Most people in the dreaming phase are looking for an experience so think about the overall experience, location and unique selling points and using photography to convey your product is a great way to catch attention.
2. PLAN to sell beyond the room
Helping to turn the traveller’s dreams to reality is not easy. After the initial dreaming, the customer has decided to action and moves to the planning stage where we know from industry research that they will visit at least 20+ websites in order to find the ‘perfect’ hotel and start direct booking. Aside from the obvious details such as dates and prices of your bedrooms, think about the guest’s other needs, such as the location, experiences and what they can do when they are with you.
3. Convert planners into BOOKED guests
After dreaming and planning, the traveller is ready to book their stay – hopefully with you! This is where a hotel’s value proposition (i.e. price, room, rate, restrictions) is the fundamental and most important piece of product marketing a hotel can do.
While OTAs are still a top resource, OTAs play a greater role in the dreaming and planning phases. Now travellers are simply revisiting OTAs and hotel’s own websites to price compare the options already. Whilst on your website, it is essential that it is attractive, easy to navigate, best portrays your hotel and allows easy direct bookings.
4. Let your Guests EXPERIENCE the dream
Whatever the reason for travel, your guest has expectations from the digital world to match up with the reality they face during their stay. Engaging with the guest with the right mix of staff and technology can make your guest feel welcome, connected and above all, happy with their choice of hotel. From the moment the guest books and checks in to the moment they check out, the hotel’s PMS system is fundamentally the core product that helps the hotel, the staff, and the guests all connect, leveraging the power of the data retrieved to ensure the guest is ‘not just a booking reference’. It is important to blur the line between the technology and the guest, guests want to be known by name, not by digital reference or a room number. This is much easier to manage with direct bookings, rather than OTA's.
5. Reflect and SHARE the experience
Most people choose their travel options based on recommendations from family and friends and those they follow or who influence them online. So, when your customer posts a photo of your spectacular lake views from their balcony, sharing a moment they had, this will encourage other contacts in their network who are at the dreaming stage to consider your hotel.
6. Encourage guests to return
From obtaining client’s contact details for future marketing, encouraging feedback and online reviews, communicating benefits (and rewards!) of booking direct to following up with email campaigns, it is up to you to wow customers and provide a memorable experience to them to share and/or return.