Positive momentum continues for the travel industry as global hotel occupancies rapidly return to 2019 levels, with many key destinations having already surpassed pre-pandemic performance this year, according to Amadeus’ Demand360® data.
Source: Amadeus Demand360 data as of August 18, 2023
Average daily rates remained higher than 2019 for the entirety of H1 2023, and guests paying higher costs now expect more from their stay. This is placing added pressure on hoteliers to meet, and where possible, exceed heightened guest expectations.
In this environment, personalization is a major driver for change and now tops traveler wish lists, according to recent Amadeus research. As guests are being presented with an increasingly wide range of accommodations, hoteliers are being tasked to come up with new, creative ways to provide quality service and tailored offers and experiences.
The rising need for personalization is a powerful indication that staying competitive in the hospitality industry will require new strategies to elevate the guest experience and grow revenue potential. Here are five tried and true ways to deliver:
1. Build experiential stays
Guests want hotel stays to reflect their preferences and interests more accurately, so hoteliers should begin by performing an audit of their core audiences. They can examine variables like segment, guest type, and geographical location, then layer in other considerations such as time of year to identify the type of personalized experiences that would resonate best with each audience.
80% of consumers are more likely to purchase when brands offer personalized experiences, so it’s important to ensure customized messaging is prevalent throughout the online journey, whether it’s for a family, business traveler, honeymooner, or groups of friends.
With traveler profiles in place, hoteliers can start to build in personalization with compelling upselling, unique on- and off-site experiences, and value-added offers. To be even more strategic, hotels can allow guests to build out their own unique experiences by creatively merchandising hotel offerings and thereby monetizing all aspects of the hotel’s unique attributes. By showcasing these attributes in an attractive and captivating way on their website with carry-over into the booking engine, a hotel can ensure a seamless and tailored booking flow for guests.
Building experiential stays helps drive overall profitability by enhancing guest stays and highlighting a hotel’s unique features and amenities. Incorporating them into the website and booking channel encourages guests to make additional purchases and boosts direct booking revenue, while further differentiating a hotel from its competition.
2. Launch customized packages and promotions
Another tactic to create more personalized experiences is to back them up with dynamic offers and promotions to win more business. Hoteliers can set a foundation with market and property specific promotions based on business-critical benchmarks such as seasonal peaks or lulls, while addressing the ability to factor in individual preferences for custom built stays. Those that have identified their top producing guest personas to develop relevant packages for will find themselves in a stronger position to round out their strategies and entice higher revenue-generating return stays.
With dynamic versus static offers on the rise, hoteliers can additionally have more flexibility in the way they present their best offerings without the need to pre-calculate every facet of the price in a constantly fluctuating market. This presents a higher range of options for customers to truly package and personalize their stays, ensuring their chosen experiences can meet their heightened expectations.
3. Have a diverse channel mix to stand out in a competitive online market
As traditional distribution channels evolve, hotels are presented with myriad options to reach potential guests. However, with so many booking channel options and competitors, getting noticed with the right offer at the right time can be challenging. Winning more business today requires striking a balance between marketing and revenue tactics that enables hotels to sell more, sell broader, and personalize the guest experience.
To stay ahead, hoteliers must embrace an integrated approach that leverages both direct and indirect distribution channels. Having exposure with top online travel agencies and global distribution systems ensures greater visibility, while metasearch allows guests to find and compare prices before ultimately making their booking decision. Exposing special rates with member programs on third-party platforms furthers online presence and competitive positioning, while driving more traffic back to the hotel’s direct website with compelling offers and direct calls-to-action.
As search engines are the go-to resources for guests shopping for accommodation, it’s critical to ensure the hotel website and content are optimized for different search engines to improve rankings and visibility. This includes using relevant keywords, creating high quality content, and ensuring the website is SEO optimized.
Hoteliers can consider tailored messaging and call outs on the hotel’s direct channel and booking engine for greater visibility to targeted audiences and create a sense of urgency with banner ads or countdown timers for even more attention-grabbing offers.
A well-calibrated distribution mix not only bolsters a hotel’s presence in a crowded online market but can enhance revenue and brand consistency.
4. Personalize recommendations on area attractions
A hotel room is just one component of the trip, with consumers seeking customizable offers complete with immersive experiences at their destinations. With travelers spending up to 10% of their travel budget on tours and activities, this presents a prime opportunity for hotels to add value to the guest experience.
By leveraging data analytics and guest profiling, hoteliers can curate bespoke itineraries that resonate with travelers, and intelligently merchandize these experiences on their website and booking engines. By presenting local recommendations and carefully aligning suggestions with in-house services, amenities, and partner offerings in a compelling way, hoteliers can entice guests to explore opportunities that enrich the experience, while also boosting ancillary sales.
As discerning travelers seek more unique offers, hotels can attract guests who prioritize personalized, authentic experiences and are willing to pay more for them.
5. Communicate with the guest pre- and post-stay
Direct bookings are particularly helpful to a hotel’s personalization strategy. Capturing data and customer information upfront enables guest communications and opportunities to further enhance their stay. Personalized pre-arrival emails can be sent to highlight a hotel’s award-winning customer service or spotlight the best of what the property has to offer.
Hoteliers can send entertainment or food and beverage-focused offers and then build out engagement factors for future personalized promotions. Post-stay, they can influence long-term relationships by sending thank you communications with “consider enrolling in our loyalty program” messaging.
By understanding what drives the customer and then presenting attractive, personalized offers, hoteliers have a greater opportunity to secure repeat customers, cultivate loyalty, and generate more revenue-enhancing opportunities along the guest journey.
Delivering hotel guest personalization in an authentic and dynamic way requires the need for data and an integrated tech stack to best serve travelers across their journeys. It’s up to hoteliers to harness the information they have and action it at every available opportunity – or risk getting left behind by the competition.
To learn more about how to best acquire, convert, and retain guests, download our eBook “Mastering the Art of Direct Booking.”