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Frictionless Booking Leads to Greater Guest Experience

by Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor |

Seven trending hotel news stories that will have an impact on your hotel Revenue Strategy.

1. COOKIE-CUTTER HOSPITALITY IS NO LONGER A WINNING STRATEGY

As important as it is, there’s more to operating a successful hotel than a winning revenue and distribution strategy. The author argues that industry leaders need to focus on providing experiences, conveniences and wow moments in order to prevent themselves from the ultimate path to irrelevance: commoditization.

Most importantly, he says, hoteliers need to look beyond cookie-cutter innovations and find ways to shake up the entire hotel experience. While analytics are key in the process, it really starts by “removing friction in the booking process and extends to the right amount of personalized service at check-in and throughout the entire guest journey.”

Full story Duetto Research.

2. TURNING THE TIDE IN COST OF CUSTOMER ACQUISITION

Despite major inroads made by hotel brand companies to encourage more direct bookings, the industry is still too dependent on online travel agencies and other expensive third-party platforms. According to data from Kalibri Labs, hotels (presumably the US industry) generated a collective $155.2 billion in guest-paid revenue in 2017, but they spent $25.2 billion to acquire guests, leaving what Kailbri says is $130 billion in “revenue capture.” That’s a lot of money left on the table by hotels.

While direct booking campaigns are helping, one speaker during a panel at the AAHOA convention believes cost-of-customer acquisition relief might be coming for hoteliers from Airbnb, as the sharing economy site drifts closer to becoming an OTA. The relief would come in the form of 3%-5% commissions versus the 15% or more currently charged by OTAs.

Full story at Hotel Management.

3. THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN REVENUE MANAGEMENT & MARKETING

Here’s a unique idea: Hotel revenue management and digital marketing teams working together to build and sell a hotel’s story. That’s what a Hilton executive suggests all property teams should do. While recognizing revenue and marketing people are often “different breeds of people,” he underscored “the importance of each explaining their respective disciplines and the benefits they bring to the partnership.”

He offered a variety of opinions on how to make this relationship work. In my mind, his most important: “Challenge both teams to understand each other’s business and how you can coordinate strategies to lower acquisition costs and increase profit.”

Full story at Duetto Research.

4. THE DANGERS OF A LACKLUSTER BOOKING EXPERIENCE

While hoteliers need to focus on the guest experience — that’s a must — they also need to think about those experiences long before arrival, i.e., the booking path. In many cases, hotels have fallen way behind intermediaries in creating dynamic and seamless booking experiences. As a result, these properties have extremely low percentages of digital booking conversions.

He says it’s not an easy project, but one that is mandatory for survival. He writes: “Hotels should focus on removing the friction from online bookings and reducing the amount of time and effort their potential guests must expend to find the right option. The fewer clicks it takes on a hotel’s direct channels to find the right room type at the right price for the dates a guest is seeking, the more likely she is to convert.”

Full story at Lodging Magazine.

5. OWNERS VS. OPERATORS: RESOLVING MISALIGNMENT OF INTERESTS

Owners and operators often have opposite interests, as far as distribution costs are concerned. Owners should wake up and incentivize management companies by rewarding them for having more direct bookings.

The management contracts should include special direct booking provisions to incentivize the operator to achieve more direct bookings, but also hold them accountable for failing to achieve these goals. Read what these provisions might be. 

Full story at HEBS Digital.

6. TRIPADVISOR LAUNCHES SPONSORED AD PROGRAM

Any pretense that TripAdvisor is a non-partial arbiter of consumer feedback has vanished as the review/metasearch site officially launches its Sponsored Placement program that allows a hotel to vault to the top of a search page, despite what its natural ranking would be based on guest comments. TripAdvisor said more than 10,000 property owners in 5,500 markets have run campaigns since TripAdvisor introduced the sponsored ads in a beta around three months ago.

The clicks roughly cost in the $1 to $3 range; advertisers set a monthly budget, such as $5,000, and then TripAdvisor backs into a cost-per click. TripAdvisor executives expect the program to evolve into more of an auction-based program with varying costs-per click.

Full story at Skift.

7. HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS, MARRIOTT TOPS IN EXPERIENCE

The buzzword in hotel marketing is ‘experience,” meaning hotels that provide guests with the best experience will attract more business for which they can charge highest rates. If that’s the case, according to new research Holiday Inn Express and Marriott deliver the best customer experience in the hotel industry. Hampton Inn came in third in the rankings.

Interestingly, Airbnb’s customer experience score improved the most over the previous year, gaining 11 points, ranking 13th of 20 hotel companies graded. Fairfield Inn’s score, on the other hand, declined the most, dropping by nine points.

Full story at Experience Matters.

 Stay up on hotel Revenue Strategy news and discuss industry tech trends in the Hotel Revenue Strategy Leaders Group on LinkedIn. 

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Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor

Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor

Contributing editor at Duetto
Ed has been covering the hotel industry for more than 40 years. He was editor-in-chief of Lodging Hospitality from 1980 to 2012. He then joined Hotel News Now as an Editor at Large, until his retirement at the end of 2014. Ed still contributes to several publications and is a member of the advisory boards for the hotels schools at Michigan State and Penn State.
Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor
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Ed Watkins, Contributing Editor

Ed has been covering the hotel industry for more than 40 years. He was editor-in-chief of Lodging Hospitality from 1980 to 2012. He then joined Hotel News Now as an Editor at Large, until his retirement at the end of 2014. Ed still contributes to several publications and is a member of the advisory boards for the hotels schools at Michigan State and Penn State.