Hoteliers and hosts live in a fast-paced world.
NB: This is an article from Cloudbeds, one of our Expert Partners
Spending habits, guest expectations, and industry trends are changing all the time, and you need to keep on top of it all to get ahead of your competitors. From direct bookings and OTAs to pricing strategies and guest experience, here are four major areas to consider to build an effective rooms distribution strategy in 2022.
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Direct bookings are likely to be your most profitable type of booking, so make it your goal this year to maximize them.
To get direct bookings, your website needs to be visible through search engines (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo). An effective way to make this happen is to implement SEO, or search engine optimization. The aim is to have your web pages rank as high as possible in search engine results when your target audience searches terms and keywords related to your hotel, rooms, and location(s).
There are some quick SEO fixes that you can do yourself to maximize your web page rankings, or you can hire a reputable marketing agency to do it for you.
Another way to optimize direct bookings is by being visible on metasearch sites, which list hotel rooms prices offered by online travel agencies whenever travelers search for stay dates. Clicking on these prices will take a traveler directly to the OTA to complete the reservation. In 2021, Google introduced Free Booking Links, which now allow hoteliers and hosts to showcase their property’s prices on Google hotel searches with a link directly to the property’s website instead of to an online travel agency.
In the past, hoteliers and hosts had to pay for a Google Hotel Ad in order to be displayed on Google’s metasearch listings. But with Free Booking Links, any eligible property that has rates and availability synced to Google via an integration partner can now showcase their prices with a link displaying “official website” on Google Hotel Search. Learn more about the eligibility and requirements for Free Booking Links.
You can also increase your number of direct bookings by making the booking experience on your website user-friendly. Consistently update your site and use high-quality images of all your rooms and property area. Simplify the booking flow by making information easy to find and by having a colorful call-to-action (CTA), like “Book Now” or “Reserve Now” that appears on every page of your site.
Lastly, how does your website look on a mobile phone? Here’s why you should use a booking engine that’s mobile-friendly — one-quarter of all travel bookings will be on a mobile device by 2024, according to Euromonitor. Having a booking process that is optimized for mobile and limited to two or three steps will make it easier for travelers to book your hotel rooms.
OTAs and Online Booking Channels
Direct bookings might be the holy grail, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on new OTAs and online booking channels.
Make sure that your hotel’s profile on the OTAs you use are fully optimized. For example, are you using high-resolution images that show your property and amenities in the best light? Are you using every available feature of the platform? Are you using unique photos for every room type and tagging your photos? These are all things you should be doing to make the most out of your OTA profiles.
We also recommend that you choose one of the best channel managers for hotels so that you can seamlessly distribute your room rates to OTAs and wholesalers and sync reservations instantly back to your reservations calendar. A good channel manager will be flexible, intuitive, easy to integrate with the rest of your property management software, and will be fast enough to update all your channels in simultaneously and in real-time.
You can also use a good hotel GDS to drive bookings. A GDS, or Global Distribution System, sends hotel rates and availability to travel agents and other corporate booking sites. This data includes rate plans, bookings, discounts, and more. With a GDS, you’ll reach audiences who are booking through an agent, rather than an OTA or directly through your site.
Connecting to a GDS comes will all kinds of benefits, including reaching high-earners, driving longer bookings, increasing your chances of repeat stays, and getting opportunities to participate in package deals.
Pricing Strategies and Diverse Rate Plans
Making the most of pricing types in hospitality is an important part of revenue management — it helps you drive bookings all year round. As you go into 2022, create multiple competitive rate plans that benefit your target audiences.
The rate plans that work for you and your guests will be unique to your property — no two hotels are the same — but you might want to consider:
Evergreen rate plans
These are rates that you keep all year round for all guests. Evergreen rate plans can be breakfast rates, BARs, and advance purchase rates.
Promotional rate plans
These are rates that offer a promotion/discount to everyone who completes a particular action (e.g. booking midweek or booking an excursion) or to specific people (e.g. students, veterans, and members).
Dynamic rate plans
These are rates you create based on the behaviors/habits of your target market. Dynamic rate plans could be stay pay rates (e.g. Stay 3, Pay 2), length of stay rates, and last-minute discounts.
Package rate plans
Package rate plans can include all-inclusive stays, wellness retreats/spa experiences, and hotel rooms bundled with tours and excursions.
If your guests have an excellent experience at your hotel, they’ll be more likely to come back time and time again – and tell their friends, family, and colleagues!
Guest expectations are constantly changing. They’re now looking for quick and contactless payment options, COVID-safe amenities, unique food and beverage options, and so much more. It can be tough to meet the ever-changing demands of your guests, but if you focus on guest experience in 2022, the more likely you are to get repeat bookings and recommendations, which lower guest acquisition costs.
Try communicating with your guests post-stay through marketing emails. Occasionally sending them emails about upcoming offers or events in your local areas can encourage repeat bookings.
Be mindful of any data you might have to personalize emails. For example, if you had a guest stay who had a dairy allergy, you could email them to update them on your hotel’s latest dairy-free dishes. Implementing these four strategies should help you get ahead and stay there in 2022.