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Running your hotel business online in 2024 and beyond

  Posted in Hotel Commerce  Last updated 22/02/2024

With ongoing global and economic challenges, and the acceleration of changing traveller behaviours, hoteliers need to reevaluate their strategies.

We already know that mobile sales hit an all time high in 2021, digital transactions grew 88% in the three years to 2021, and e-commerce sales increased again in 2022.

So what are the most important trends to focus on and what’s it going to take to succeed online moving forward for a hotel business?

Table of contents

Online trends for hotels

*A strong force within the industry in moving forward is going to be hotel commerce and the leading platforms enabling hoteliers to master it. If you haven’t looked into hotel commerce yet, check out the full guide here.

Success has always depended on attracting the right guests with the right offer at the right time. The ways that you can do this are diversifying quickly however, and you need to be savvy to take full advantage of growing opportunities this year and beyond.

Here’s what we’re seeing:

  • 74% of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions, with usage to become even more widespread. Instagram shopping is steadily gaining steam.
  • Interactive content is becoming more important to understand customers – surveys, polls, interactive web experiences and emails. These allow you to collect data quickly and easily without asking too much of your guests.
  • Improving customer experience was the first or second priority for 27% of businesses in 2022, as they recognise the need to respond to changing consumer behaviours
  • 77% of online browsers list accurate photos as the most important factor. The ability to easily find all ‘product’ information was also crucial for 76%.
  • While personalisation is key, it’s only as good as the data it’s based on so acquiring direct customer data will be crucial.
  • With guests wanting more and more choice, from the way they way to their on-site experiences, competition and the fight for customer retention will be fiercer than ever.
  • A continued rise in voice search via digital home and smartphone assistants, placing greater importance on ensuring you have key information such as addresses, contact details, and services easily accessible
  • The environmentally conscious traveller is becoming more prominent, with modern customers more interested in supporting brands who prioritise sustainable practices
  • The percentage of remote workers around the world was expected to double, making bleisure travel a huge consideration
  • Digitised experiences have become a part of everyday life, especially things like facial recognition. This means guests will soon expect this convenience at their hotels.

As you can tell, trends are closely tied with opportunity but also challenges. Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome is the fact that is supercharging its marketing spend. This is a sign hotels will have to fight harder than ever for direct bookings.

20 tips to get it right at your property

Let’s split your plan of attack into four key areas – how you’ll market, sell, manage, and grow your hotel business online this year.

Technology is of course at the heart of it all, with automation and the ability to centralise operations becoming more and more necessary for modern accommodation businesses.

Selling your inventory online

Selling successfully online will require you to operate simultaneously across a few functions. Here’s what we think is non-negotiable:

  • Automating and balancing your distribution across direct and indirect channels
  • Selling on all the top performing booking channels in your market
  • Looking to drive more direct reservations and stronger guest relationships via metasearch channels like Google Hotel Ads – via an online booking engine
  • Capturing high value markets with top Global Distribution Systems
  • Make reservations easy to complete with online booking technology

Mastering your online marketing

Increasing your visibility requires a coordinated approach to your marketing. Multiple channels and messages need to be addressed if you want more eyeballs on your hotel.

  • Shape and showcase a brand that aligns with your ideal guest segment and social considerations
  • Use social media to promote your unique selling points, value propositions, and to engage with your community
  • Ensure your website is full of beautiful imagery, accurate information, and clear call-to-actions
  • Create offers that appeal to the majority of travellers looking for convenience, flexibility, and digital interactions
  • Personalise communication wherever possible – for this you need lots of reliable data from your tech systems

Managing your online presence

Between optimising your sales strategy and process, marketing to maximise reach, and looking to grow revenue and profit there’s a lot to keep track of. Fragmented management of the business is a major hurdle for many hoteliers.

By looking for a tech provider that offers an all-in-one platform you can:

  • Easily manage core business processes such as distribution, sales marketing, and bookings
  • Be in complete control of the guest journey, data, experience, and relationship
  • Make fast, informed decisions that directly benefit the business short and long term
  • Process payments and invoices with secure payment options
  • Gain valuable time back to relieve stress on staff, get more done, and focus on guests

Finding ways to grow online

A growth mindset will be a priority for all hoteliers coming out of two years of economic hardship that still continues in parts of the world. Every bit of extra revenue you can squeeze gives you more freedom and opens up more possibilities for improving your business.

Some ways you can grow include:

  • Using innovative apps to help you upsell, personalise your service, improve communication, and enhance the guest experience
  • Connect with technology ecosystems to find additional integrations that can optimise your business operations
  • Lean on local experts, partners, and consultants in your market to guide your strategies and solve challenges
  • Finding more ways to use data to improve your offers, add value for customers, and make faster decisions to take advantage of market shifts
  • Invest in areas where travellers are driving demand, such as voice shopping and on-site digitisation

Technology is a reliable source of support and enablement, as it can allow you to automate what you can’t keep up with and also give your staff the power to do more with less time on their hands.

Not only that, today you have the ability to control virtually every aspect of your business from a single place – with the right platform.

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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