SiteMinder’s ‘RECONNECT’ Panel Series Wrap Up
We kicked off our popular panel series across six regions to educate hoteliers on how to plug back in and connect with what matters in 2021.
Last year at this time, we had no understanding of what was ahead of us and what it would mean for our industry. Getting you back to business starts with reconnecting. This series focused on encouraging hoteliers to reconnect with the core areas we know deliver change and confidence while accommodating to travel trends that can switch as quickly as one can say ‘vaccine’.
Tech Innovations to Look Out For
The driver of these trends is guest demand, guest behavioural changes and shifts in how hoteliers need to do business. Hotel teams are leaner, meaning they need to operate as efficiently as possible while staying ahead of the competition through future forecasting. Tech innovation will have the most significant impact on hoteliers, and these are the trends they need to tap into:
- Automation: solutions that connect a variety of programs that streamline the operations for teams.
- Macro Trends and Forward-Looking Data: understanding what drives patterns via market data by pulse-check insights like the World Hotel Index.
- Visibility: increasing digital presence through metasearch, online ads and pay to be visible platforms.
- Self-serving Apps: Solutions that empower guests to DIY and put control back into their hands, reducing touch interactions.
- Revenue Management: Upselling to guests while on property via personalised digital communications.
“The biggest converter to your opportunity is visualisation.” – Scott Fronthingham, RevOptimum
Discussions and Advice on Connectivity
How we connect with guests has changed forever. Yet one thing remains the same; guests want a personalised experience tailored to them. This starts with “visual happiness”. Provide eye candy to potential customers to encourage further engagement. How does this look?
- Virtual Reality: Utilising new technology to provide tours of the hotel, understanding what is in the area and enhancing the guest experience before they even step onto the property.
- Communication Their Way: Empower guests to communicate with you how they want to. Allow for request via text message or bookings via text message. We are moving towards a desire for limited verbal communication but increased digital exchanges….meet your guest there with multi-communication channels that cater to all guests and their technology style.
- Personalised Technology: Personalising the guest experience at every step, tailoring services to each guest’s needs and delivering a warm welcome even if it is not face-to-face.
“People are now a lot more comfortable to travel on their own, solo-travellers…provide the stay your guests want.” – Katie Tether, Sirvoy
The Current Status of APIs in the Industry
An API allows for two applications to talk to each other. Using an open API solution enables you to pick the best provider and build a robust tech stack that uses the best of the best for each niche area. API is integral to connectivity and seamless integration. It ensures integrity and supports linking in and extending opportunities to empower customers. More vendors support open API; however, it is hard to know what fits with what you want to do with the sheer volume of available apps. The best place to start is to check out the SiteMinder App Store and search via your key problem area.
“The customers, being the hotels themselves, have applied a lot of pressure to their PMS providers and other systems to open up their APIs….it is in everyone’s interest to have open APIs, there are so many needs in the hotel industry, and 5-10 years ago a PMS thought they could do everything, but there is no way they can do it as well as building a tech stack based on niche applications really good at doing what they do and having open APIs integrations into other systems. That is what makes a powerful tech stack.” – Bill Daviau, Kriya RevGen
Metasearch and Digital Marketing
Proceed with caution and understand the fees and cost-per-click to create the best strategy for your property. Getting it right means you drive more direct bookings, but getting it wrong can mean you pay more than you would through a third-party. For independent hotels, focus on working on retaining guests over competing with OTA’s to attract new guests.
However, the critical takeaway is none of this matters unless you have a user-friendly, visually-appealing and accessible website. You can be across all the platforms, but when your potential guest lands on your website and finds it clunky, out-dated, and insufficient, they will not trust you and will not book. While your marketing strategy should have your property as visible as possible, your efforts will be wasted without the website to support it.
“Expand your online distribution as much as you can to increase foot traffic to your website so we can work to convert them to direct business in the future.” – Kaylee Parr, SiteMinder
The Latest Insights into Online Travel Agents
Our World Hotel Index gives an insight into the future of travel. Last-minute travel is still here to stay; however, booking momentum is on the uptick both on a domestic and local level. Confidence is starting to come back with international travel being booked for the future, creating a break away from the domestic travel that has been the crutch for guests and hoteliers.
Prepare for the future of travel, as once it happens, it will explode. You can do this by playing with your rates and incentives on your direct platform to compete and differentiate your property from the OTA’s. This may be through value-adds like food and beverage offerings not offered on OTA’s or similar. As a hotelier, you need OTA’s to bring in the customer; the trick is then converting that customer yourself; this has never been more important.
It is essential to have rate integrity and not to succumb to heavily discounted last-minute rates and deals that jeopardise the recovery in the long run. Replace that temptation with flexible options and cancellations. We need to switch the conditioning consumers have, which rewards them for booking last minute. Rethink this strategy to encourage early bookings, allowing you more opportunities for upgrades and upsells.
We shouldn’t be marketing just around price and discount, but what makes each hotel unique. Showcase value and experiences, personalise interactions and deliver on-demand for high-quality visuals.
“List on as many places as possible and consider it free marketing.” – Kaylee Parr, SiteMinder
What booking channels you need to know about
Across the US and Canada for example, Airbnb continues to jump up the list of our top booking channels. A year ago, they were right at the bottom, and they continue to become more and more relevant across the board. The leaders remain steady; Expedia and Booking.com and number three are direct bookings! To enhance your direct bookings, you need to list across more OTA’s, which may seem counterintuitive. However, the more places you are, the more traffic you attract to your website, increasing your chances of a direct booking.
We aren’t out of the woods completely but the state of play in 2021 is looking optimistic. Discover in more detail what our panel of industry experts outlined in this interactive discussion by watching the replays and jumping into the conversation on any one of our social media platforms.
SiteMinder’s World Hotel Index
Sourced from our guest acquisition platform, the SiteMinder World Hotel Index provides data and commentary for the hotel industry at both a macro and local scale never before seen. Sign up here for real-time data at a global and destination level: