Marketing is one of the most influential ways to improve a property’s financial success but unfortunately, too many hoteliers are using ineffective tactics and negating the ROI that they could be earning from their marketing outreach. By implementing the following five tips, hotels can drastically increase the ROI earned on marketing activities, while minimizing the time and effort that it takes to implement them.
Know Your Property’s Unique Value Proposition (UVP)
When establishing your property’s UVP, consider which elements of your property (i.e. location, amenities, price/value, etc.) would be most desirable for your target audience and use that as the basis of your messaging.
Consistency of messaging is an important part of developing a successful hotel marketing campaign. Only through repeating and reinforcing your property’s key messages (including your UVP) in all aspects of your marketing outreach (including marketing, sales, public relations, content marketing, etc.), can you ensure that your property stands for something in the mind of your target consumer.
Increase Traffic on Your Brand.com Website
Today, “more than 76% of all online bookings come through the OTAs,” showing a serious reliance on OTAs as the primary source of income for most properties. While the OTAs are helpful in bringing in business, the sky-high commission rates do not make the channel feasible as the primary revenue source. Instead of giving away up to 30% of each booking in commission, hoteliers should work to increase traffic to the direct channel, which is the most cost-effective and profitable way to secure online bookings and which should comprise the majority of a property’s online business (approximately 70%).
In order to increase traffic to the direct channel, hotels should use the same tools that the OTAs do to increase their online visibility: search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) technology, combined with a sophisticated and easy-to-use booking engine and a strong online marketing campaign (including email, social media promotions, review management, etc.). As each of these online marketing tools require intense focus and resources, hotels should look for a service provider (shameless plug: like Tambourine’s new all-inclusive marketing solution, Symphony!) that can manage all of these aspects of online marketing for the property.
By increasing traffic to the direct channel (and thereby increasing the percentage of online bookings made through this channel), a property is able to decrease the cost of acquisition and drastically increase online revenue.
Improve Your Direct Booking Conversion Rate
Econsultancy said “the travel industry… suffers from 81% abandoned cart rates, compared to just 68% across other online retail sectors”. One of the most common issues that causes potential customers to abandon their reservation through a hotel’s brand.com website is a lack of functionality with the booking engine itself. By using a sophisticated, responsive booking engine, consumers are less likely to abandon the booking partway through.
Other tips to increase your direct booking conversion rate:
- Use the KISS principle when designing your reservation process: Keep it simple, silly! It should never take more than three clicks to finalize or consumers may abandon the booking in frustration.
- “25% of visitors will abandon a website that takes more than four seconds to load. Almost 50% will abandon if the site takes more than 10 seconds to load.” Therefore, it is imperative that your website – and especially your booking engine – loads immediately.
It is also very important to attempt to recover any bookings that are abandoned during the booking process. In fact, 87% of consumers who abandoned a booking said that they would return if encouraged to do so, making this an important strategy for hotels to increase direct bookings conversion rates. Reservation recovery is most effective using retargeting ads and emails to deliver incentives (i.e. special discounts) to encourage customers to complete the booking.
Reduce Vendor Fatigue
One of the most time-consuming issues when using marketing/operational technology solutions is the lack of integration and accountability when marketing, booking and distribution systems are provided by multiple technology vendors.
When systems are not integrated, with two-way updates being made automatically, a property risks overbooking (for example, if a property’s inventory is not being updated automatically on all of the online channels as bookings are received by the PMS) or alternatively, missing out on potential bookings. Hoteliers can also greatly benefit by using a single technology provider that enables integration between all solutions, because it can save reservations and/or revenue management staff a great deal of time, as updates will no longer need to be entered manually.
When a property’s systems are not consolidated, there is often a lack of accountability for all of the solutions’ functionality. For example, if a property’s booking engine and PMS are offered through separate companies and the two-way updating of the bookings/inventory stops working, the property would have to work with both the PMS vendor and the booking engine vendor to solve the issue, but if either lack sufficient knowledge of the other system, they may not be able to offer proper troubleshooting advice.
Set Goals & Measure Performance Regularly
To ensure that your marketing efforts have the greatest ROI, it is important to establish quantifiable campaign goals before the project begins, and monitor your results in real-time against those goals at regular intervals during, and at the end of the project.
An additional benefit to using a single technology vendor is the ability to use one centralized dashboard with all of your property’s sales and marketing metrics in one place, updating in real-time. This makes it easy to see if your property is meeting your intended goals at a glance, and if the goals are not being met, having all of your metrics available on a single dashboard makes it easier to identify where the shortcomings were and what action should be taken to get back on track.
So what are you waiting for? Implement these five steps at your property today to increase the ROI on your marketing activities. Your bank account will thank you!
By Dave Spector, Partner at Tambourine