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How to increase holiday bookings

  Posted in Resources  Last updated 4/12/2023

What are holiday bookings?

Holiday bookings refer to the reservations made by individuals or groups for accommodation, travel, and other related services during their vacation period. These bookings can encompass a range of options, from luxurious five-star hotels to quaint bed and breakfasts, from international flights to local train journeys, and from guided tours to self-driven adventures. 

For hotel managers, effectively managing holiday bookings is crucial. It ensures that guests have a seamless experience from the moment they make a reservation to the time they check out. With the rise of digital platforms and online travel agencies, the process of making holiday bookings has become more streamlined, allowing travellers to plan their perfect getaway with just a few clicks. 

For hotels, this underscores the importance of having robust hotel management software to efficiently handle the influx of reservations, especially during peak holiday seasons.

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Top three traveller expectations for holiday bookings

Personalisation, real human interaction, and a willingness to be flexible: those are the three most important factors contributing to the modern holiday experience for travellers, according to a report from American Express, titled ‘Future of Travel’. Here’s what hoteliers need to know:

1. They will look for a more personalised travel experience

More than 75% of those surveyed by American Express said a personalised and meaningful experience can make or break a trip, and 63% said they would support a hotel or other travel service provider, using personal data to deliver an experience that’s specifically tailored to them.

“Travellers today are highly diverse and resourceful, and they are looking for travel providers who can deliver this,” said Yana Gutierrez, vice president, strategic partnerships and representative travel network, for American Express Travel.

“Based on our research, we believe that our industry will thrive if we continue to focus our talent and digital resources on addressing the needs of the individual and offering them the connection – to people, experiences – that they seek.”

2. They will seek human interaction to compliment technology

Despite the continuous innovation of technology, travellers say the human touch will be the aspect that differentiates unforgettable travel experiences from those that are simply good.

Almost all survey participants in the US (92%) said using a travel professional, completely or somewhat, enhanced their holiday experience. Additionally, 88% of respondents from the UK prefer to book hotels and alike with the assistance of a person during travel.

Travellers said they believe technology helps make routine travel tasks and destination research easier – such as when they visit online travel agents to compare their hotel options.

They also said a trusted travel professional can help with the emotional highs and lows of a holiday experience, for example lost luggage or help enhancing an itinerary during a trip.

The report flagged the hotel industry as an example of a sector working to leverage technology to help provide a more premium service. Processes such as check-in and room service will become increasingly automated, allowing hotel staff to focus on enhancing the guest experience.

Many hotels are already using integrated technology, such as SiteMinder’s booking engine, to build a rapport pre-arrival and secure guest loyalty post-departure. And the personalisation that travellers increasingly look for also comes into play here, as the emails are fully customisable by the hotel, ensuring the message really speaks to guests.

3. They will be happy to combine luxury and budget travel options

Many respondents said the cost of a holiday can be a barrier – more than 70% of US millennials agreed, followed by 58% of Gen Xers, 49% of baby boomers, and 45% of mature travellers.

These holidaymakers told American Express that in the future they will find a way to travel on their own terms, even if that means combining luxury and budget extremes within the same holiday experience.

Capitalise on the holiday booking season

SiteMinder provides everything you need to make the most of the busiest holiday seasons; from listing management to guest communications.

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How to increase holiday bookings online

There are opportunities to influence other travellers both before, during and after
their holiday. Each consumer’s experience feeds into another consumer’s decision-making process – and more often than not, they’re complete strangers.
Booking a trip is evolving into a metrics-driven process as travellers assess a combination of star ratings, consumer review scores, and price. 

Here are some ways you can increase your holiday bookings online.

1. Use travel comparison sites

Travel comparison sites have been instrumental in empowering consumers, and usage in the UK is high. Websites such as Trivago and Skyscanner are experiencing rapid growth (68% and 42% year-on-year respectively), and a study by Momondo forecasts the comparison sites market to grow more than 40% by 2017.

2. Use a CPC model

Even huge industry players are evolving their online presence as they respond to the travel industry power shift. TripAdvisor, one of the world’s largest travel sites with more than 225 million reviews, has introduced a unique function called TripConnect Cost-Per-Click giving hotels the opportunity to cost effectively generate bookings.

Travellers can now quickly compare pricing and availability directly within TripAdvisor. Using a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) model, accommodation owners can compete for direct bookings and drive visitors directly to their own hotel’s booking page with no commission payable.

3. Improve hotel reputation

The reputation of your hotel can be make-or-break for your business. Whether it’s Google reviews, customer feedback on OTAs, critic reception, or even plain old word-of-mouth, a poor reputation (even a newly acquired one) can quickly result in a drop in bookings. In some cases, it can even be more important than price.

Here’s what we mean. Guests are not necessarily always looking for the lowest price, instead opting to use these available metrics as a tool to assess value for money. Deloitte’s survey reveals that a guest’s previous experience (47%), as well as the hotel’s reputation (38%), are listed as the next most important factors when choosing to book with a particular company.

4. Leverage social media

Social media is now a lynch pin in many hotel marketing campaigns, but recent years have demonstrated just how powerful these platforms have become for the travel industry. One study from Skyscanner (quoted in a 2023 Deloitte report) shows that around half of all survey respondents made travel plans that were inspired by the content they had seen on social media.

Then add in the new generation of travellers. Almost 40% of Gen Z travellers use social media platforms to plan their holidays (compared to just 29% of older generations). In fact, almost 20% of Gen Z follow a travel influencer, and social media platforms rank even higher than information from friends and family and a random online search as a source of decision-making.

What does this mean for your hotel? Social media is powerful, and only becoming more so. If you don’t have a presence on Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok, you may be missing out on valuable bookings.

5. Utilise promotions or special offers

Offering discounts and specials has been a long-standing part of driving direct bookings. In fact, research has shown that a third of travellers would never buy a hotel room that hasn’t been discounted, and discounting and special offers have quickly become a regular part of hotel pricing schemes. 

By balancing the lowered profits from discounts against the advantages of avoiding an OTA commission, hoteliers can generate more bookings while also building a broader customer base. 

Unsure of where to start with effective promotions? One study from 2022 compared the effectiveness of a percentage-off discount compared to a free resort fee. The percentage-off discount on a room fared better.

6. Create holiday-specific packages

Hotels aiming to enhance their online presence should consider crafting holiday-specific packages, especially focusing on group holiday bookings. 

For instance, Christmas bookings could be amplified by offering packages that cater to families and friends travelling together. This could include group discounts, festive-themed events, and communal dining experiences that allow guests to celebrate the holiday spirit collectively.

This is also an excellent time to update room details to better reflect the holiday seasons. High-resolution images, virtual tours, and detailed descriptions of Christmas bookings can provide potential guests with a clear picture of the festive experiences awaiting them, for example.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of SiteMinder, the leading technology provider delivering hoteliers unbeatable revenue results. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at SiteMinder. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance and value for accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations achieve their goals.

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