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SiteMinder’s global panel series June 2021: What hoteliers can do now to target the right audience

  Posted in Hotel Insights

SiteMinder’s ‘IN FOCUS’ Panel Series Wrap Up

‘In Focus’ helped hoteliers discover what they could do right now to target the right audiences. Across eleven markets, we deep-dived into what countries could do to attract and retain their perfect customer.

After the reactive position hoteliers experienced across 2020, accommodation providers now have the opportunity to focus on new ways of working and optimistic outlooks.

Along with key partners, the panel discussion covered:

  • Recommendations for focusing on and targeting goals
  • How to best target new and desired audiences
  • Responding to OTA booking trends
  • Capitalising on direct bookings
  • What hoteliers can thrive from right now

Keeping everything in focus is vital for the next three to six months.

To help give context to the key focus points, we observed what The World Hotel Index was telling us. The World Hotel Index showcases real booking momentum and compares markets to help make fact-based forecasting decisions. Leaning on this data will support your strategies at any time to make sure your goals remain in line with what is happening in the market.

Let’s take a look at the take-aways from the panel series.

How to remain focused on goals

The key is to relinquish the need to control things we can’t. We learned in 2020 that we could not control lockdowns, restrictions, and reactions to the pandemic. So instead, focus on what you can manage and which areas you should include in your 2021 revitalisation. Speak with your team and network to discover your focus points and then create realistic time frames for your granular and big picture goals.

When outlining your focus strategy:

Create short, medium and long term goals
Map out your goals and allocate them into a focused time frame that can range from within one-to-two months, within the next six months or a more extended strategy over the next 12+ months. Establishing these goalposts will help you create realistic tasks to complete to get you there and allow you and the team to celebrate incremental wins along the way.

Be agile with goal setting, ensure they are flexible enough to be malleable to changing landscapes.
One thing we know for sure is that a lot can change in a day. So ensure your goals allow for any interrupts or include backup strategies for when last-minute lockdowns or closures are implemented. Discussing an overarching crisis-response strategy will give you back some control when these things (inevitably) happen.

Maximising profitability
To create tactics that will best work for you, look into your summary revenue reports to see where you were making money on additional items or packages pre-pandemic. Then, revamp those popular items and apply them to your 2021 tactics by increasing your booking value to the customer.

How to best target new and desired audiences

Read the data trail
Knowing what to do next is best decided by looking back. First, review your past guest data to understand where they came from, what type of characteristics they share, and how the needs of that group have changed.

Connect with industry pillars
Reach out to your industry community who can support you in understanding what is happening in the market. Connect with your local, state and national tourism bodies to open the lines for shared insights in what is happening, what others are doing and how you can best support the tourism industry.

Join the conversation
Do your research on where your audience is hanging out online. Join relevant Facebook groups, follow industry experts on social media and keep on top of what type of articles your potential guests are reading. Being part of what is being said will help you discover what needs of your guests have changed. While a late-check out was on the top of the priority list a few years ago, now it’s contactless check-in.

Answer before they have to ask
Direct bookings for many properties have increased over the last year as more guests seek to discover critical information on the hotel. Ensure your website is up-to-date with everything future guests will want to know, such as deep cleans, digital technologies, remote worker packages and more. Reassure your future guests that you have all protective measures in place and create options that cater to new audiences like work-from-home professionals.

Re-envision or re-invent
Do you need to change things up, or can you revamp tried and tested methods? Knowing the answer comes down to understanding what guests are asking as well as your capabilities. While it is tempting to make the big leap into 180-degree change, take stock of your abilities to do so. Do you have enough staff to service the shift? How much are you willing to spend to chase a new profit stream? The key to creating a focused strategy is keeping the realities in focus as well.

Responding to OTA booking trends

Rise in last-minute travel
No surprises here. With fluidity in regulations, more and more bookings are happening only days in advance. Ensure you capitalise on this audience through providing offers to attract them, including complimentary add-ons and 100% flexibility.

Forward bookings increasing
While last-minute bookings are typical, especially in the domestic market, more guests are booking months in advance. Properties within travel bubbles or open borders for international travel are experiencing a rise in bookings months in advance. Increased traveller confidence and vaccine roll-outs are fueling these forward vacations. Cater to this guest with various package options, flexible policies and personalised communications.

Maximise distribution
We have found many smaller distribution channels have increased in domestic markets. Ensure you are across all of them to maximise your distribution. As your exposure is increased, match it with the best seasonal rates to capitalise on your new audience share.

Capitalise on direct bookings

Own the relationship
Direct bookings increase your revenue per booking and help you build a ‘direct’ personal relationship with the guest. By eliminating a third party, you own the relationship and fully control the customer messaging. Now, it is more important than ever to build your guest relations and to do that is through increasing your direct bookings. When you have ownership of the guest, you can continually engage with them on future promotions, tailored packages and more.

Perfect your messaging
The pre-holiday anticipation is stronger than ever. You can tap into this via your pre-stay communications. Make your future guest feel even more excited by providing updates that will interest them, personalised add-on options, and keeping them in the loop about all the measures you are taking to make their stay one to remember.

User-centric
To improve your direct booking rates, check first that it is easy to book online, especially mobile. Include all safety measures your property has implemented, updated technology to make their stay digitally optimised, recent images that showcase working areas and of course, complete flexibility around cancellations. Consider your future guest at every point; what will they want to know?

Make it competitive
Approximately 75% of guests will look across various booking channels before coming directly. You need to prove that through booking directly, you are providing them with an offer they can’t get anywhere else. Ensure you showcase different rate options for the one-room type and specialised packages they can only get direct.

How hoteliers by region can thrive now

Nordics: Keep an eye on markets being vaccinated quicker than others as that will open up potential guest pools, include flexible policies, highlight safety measures and avoid showcasing promotional images with people in it.

Greece & Malta: Make the most of technology to enhance your operations such as contactless check-in, automated communications, pre-and-post stay optimisation and enhanced personalisation.

Australia & New Zealand: Promote flexibility policies, engage in open communication with communities and include new offerings to test against your current ones to find what best converts for your customer.

Florida: Create packages to open you up to longer-stays and forward-bookings as they encounter fewer cancellations. Knowing your ideal customer will help shape these packages.

Middle East: Understand what is happening in the market every day through daily rate management. Create package options as these are becoming increasingly popular, especially when driving direct bookings.Include all up-to-date hygiene and safety information that relates to guests coming from all different areas.

Vietnam: Innovate your hotel’s equipment and facilities, along with updating imagery across all online channels. Ensure your staff are trained and ready for when the market returns, this time is an opportunity to refresh all team skills. Shift your focus to the domestic market, and attract guests with a flexible cancellation policy and custom packages that include meals, transportation and activities.

BeNeLux: Being highly flexible and adaptive, having a mobile-optimised website catered to bookings and gaining a deeper knowledge into your guest data to create better solutions. Further educate your staff so they know how to exactly talk about the hotel to guests, this could involve having staff spend a night and experience facilities.

South Africa: Provide high-quality visuals, a strong safe-travel message and create messaging targeting digital nomads and guests seeking work-cations.

Italy: Enhance the customer experience through updating website information to offer custom packages and bespoke services. Focus on improving your property’s visibility on search engines and tap into the information available to you on your current customers. Start preparing for international recovery with promotional campaigns for these travellers.

Costa Rica: Keep up with the daily updates changes in regards to the regional Covid situation. Use technology as the main tool in attracting and retaining customers. Seek expert advice to improve as soon as possible.

Portugal: Understand and adapt to the changes happening in the market during this pandemic. Now more than ever the technological resources you have at your disposal are one of the best allies to bring back returning customers, enhance guest experience, be able to shift focus from domestic to international travelers, and have fluid communications with your potential guests.

Keep the customer in focus at every step

To attract and retain the right guests starts with always putting your customers’ needs at the centre of everything. The right audience will come when you focus on what they want, what they need and how they want to stay.

Attract the right bookings for your property by never losing focus on the guest.

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