By: Katie Moro, VP, Data Partnerships, Hospitality, Amadeus
It’s always challenging to manage the unknown, and without a doubt, the last few months have been one of the most anxious periods ever experienced by the travel and hospitality industry.
In this new COVID-19 era, hoteliers are facing a constantly changing environment with an increasing number of travelers making bookings during the week before their trip. This is heightened by the shifting government restrictions impacting traveler cancellations. As a hotelier, how do you adapt to these new trends? How can you plan for the coming weeks or months based on historical data trends that are no longer relevant? How can you best capture the available demand in a very competitive landscape?
Today, hoteliers are facing a travel environment that requires them to rethink the way they will do business now and in the future. Based on what they have experienced so far this year, two important lessons have emerged – forward-looking market data is now essential, and the creation of a cross channel approach must be part of a recovery plan.
For one, different regions are going through lockdown and re-opening at different paces. This variation requires that hoteliers are familiar with operational guidelines for their market, as well as those from where their guests are traveling. Having access to the right data – the kind that shows when travelers are booking their next holidays is crucial for hoteliers to build an effective recovery strategy. Tools such as Amadeus’ Business Intelligence (BI) suite of solutions, provide hoteliers with booking information broken down by segment and channel for up to 360 forward-looking dates in a particular market. By tracking shifting traveler booking patterns, hoteliers can confidently establish channel mix and pricing strategies to increase revenue.
Hoteliers also need clear visibility into what types of travelers are visiting their area and how the hotel’s average daily rate (ADR) compares to their competitive set. With the alternative accommodations market growing in popularity, hoteliers must consider these offerings as part of their overall competitive set and identify how it impacts their business. Being mindful to offer a rate competitive to the market while still driving demand to the property is essential to managing overall revenue.
Why a multi-channel approach?
In some markets, hoteliers are noticing that bookings through travel agencies are increasing as travelers are looking for experts to navigate the uncertainty around ever-changing travel regulations due to COVID-19. With this in mind, hoteliers must also consider the value delivered by travel agents in bringing more guests to the property.
As hoteliers monitor the performance of channels shown to influence demand to a property, it becomes clear that the need to establish a successful multi-channel distribution strategy will be essential.
Once hotels have an understanding of all areas that impact expected demand, they need to ensure they are communicating with their audience across channels:
- Website – Before the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, websites were known to influence 97% of a client’s purchasing decision. With the current uncertainty, ensuring that the website is up to date with the latest and most relevant information is crucial – having a FAQ page that addresses traveler concerns on cancellation policies, safety, and hygiene standards will go a long way in making travelers feel at ease.
- Distribution Content – Even through this period of uncertainty, indirect distribution has consistently remained one of the highest Average Daily Rate (ADR) channels. And that’s because travel agents find it more convenient to book a complete itinerary that involves flights, hotel stays, and car hires on a single platform. Additionally, it’s an efficient tool to maximize bookings when you consider that the average travel agent books 22 times the number of annual hotel reservations compared to the average traveler. By leveraging the Amadeus Travel Platform, hotels have a higher chance of capturing travel agent bookings in these challenging times.
- Metasearch – A strong metasearch strategy will be essential to help drive direct bookings to the property. As guests begin searching for experiences, hoteliers will want to ensure they capture this interest and provide compelling offers for the traveler to book their accommodations with your hotel instead of a competitive property. In a recent Amadeus survey, 82% of Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) survey respondents feel that leisure travel will return before business travel. While hotels may have historically put more of an emphasis on targeting business travelers, this shifting focus on leisure business makes a strong metasearch strategy even more valuable. As travel restrictions shift over time, hoteliers will need to adjust their metasearch strategy to broaden their reach from initial local targets to domestic, and eventually international travelers.
- Website pop-ups and banner advertising – Conventional market segmentation will no longer work in a COVID-19 world. While hotels have successfully targeted groups such as Baby Boomers, Millennials or Gen Xers in the past, a new singular segment that blurs the lines between travelers, called ‘Generation Clean’ will arise. Hotels that understand this and frequently advertise how they are meeting new guest expectations for meticulous standards of cleanliness will be best positioned to take advantage of upcoming emerging demand.
- Social Media – Pinning a link to a FAQs page on Facebook and Twitter, and sharing posts that show the different measures being undertaken at your hotel in terms of safety standards and hygiene protocols is a good way to keep up a regular flow of communication with your target audience and eventually encourage bookings.
These are just some of the ways hoteliers can engage with their audience by deploying an effective mix of channels. For more information, on a multi-channel approach, refer to our new report in the Insights for the New World of Travel research series called “Omnichannel, a source of differentiation in the new reality”.
For best practices and guidance on how hoteliers can build the most effective recovery strategy for their business, you can check out our e-book series, which are designed to address the needs of hospitality professionals focused on Sales, Marketing, Operations, and Revenue Management.