Digital technology is now the dominant force in driving more direct bookings and improving guest experience at your hotel. The prominence of consumers using digital technology and businesses implementing digital strategies has skyrocketed in the past few years.
As of 2017, UK travellers are booking online 76% of the time – and this behaviour is no longer restricted to the young either.
A retail study by Deloitte shows 78% of non-millennials are now using digital devices either two or three times throughout their shopping journey. Furthermore, it revealed 56 cents in every dollar spent in 2016 was influenced by digital, compared to just 14 cents in 2013.
The technology at play including social networks, mobile and cloud computing, and analytics tools, is a perfect fit for hotel businesses to utilise in their endeavour for more direct business and a smoother booking process.
However, there are a few things to remember:
Personal service is a key requirement of guests
Despite the uptake of digital technology people still want the personal touch. They want to feel like you know them and receive friendly customer service even on top of the speed and convenience technology gives them.
Building real relationships with guests is one path to a vital competitive advantage. As many as 86% of buyers would even pay more for a better customer experience.
The research indicated that, by 2020, customer experience will be more important to consumers than price and product as a key brand differentiator. The punchline to that is 87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into customer service.
The communication you have with your guests should be very much a two-way conversation, instead of you shouting offers and deals through a megaphone. While personal service can get lost in the digital age, digital technology can also help you build stronger relationships than ever with your customers.
Using digital technology is an opportunity to boost direct bookings
The good news is that with every new piece of digital technology comes a new opportunity to analyse your guests and their behaviour. There are countless ways to build a profile. Given that 2.5 billion gigabytes of data are created every day and only 0.5% of it is utilised, there’s no shortage of information you can use.
Tracking as much of an individual’s digital footprint as possible will put you in a good position to understand their preferences and even predict their intentions.
Google found that in 2016, guests took 55 minutes to book and 83% used less than 3 sources.
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This highlights the need to deliver relevant information in a timely manner. By analysing customer behaviour, you’ll be in a much better position to offer a personalised service and target direct bookings.
Once you’ve done the work to find the right guests and attract them to your website, your technology and service has to remain at a high standard. The most important aspects are:
All your touchpoints must be user-friendly
Ideally you’ll have a quality online booking engine that can process bookings in a quick and easy two-step process.
Guests need to access your website on a mobile
The mobile optimisation of your website should be at the top of your list if you want to convert anywhere near the amount of bookings you should be.
Your booking engine and website need to be integrated
Allowing your website and booking engine to engage with each will ensure a seamless and hassle-free experience for the booker and also make your life much easier by saving you time.
Despite fast-moving technology, the principle should always remain the same – know your customer and deliver what they want. There are simply different ways to achieve it now.