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Booking Engine

With research suggesting that travellers are no longer loyal to a particular brand, but swayed by convenience , hotels must do all they can to ensure they are front and centre when it comes time for guests to make a booking.

If your hotel often loses out to aggregators or online travel agents, a new research piece from Adobe is packed full of insights and tactics used by top brands such as Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group to make your own hotel booking engine the favoured port of call.

Offer an experience

The CMO of Hilton Hotel Group, Geraldine Calpin says that offering guests an experience, and focusing on delighting customers has helped it to win back customers booking directly through its own hotel booking engine and owned hotel distribution channels.

A key point here is to remove friction that may be preventing customers from making the booking directly. Hilton looked towards others in the travel industry here, giving the example of airline apps which allow early check in and seat selection. Learning from this, Hilton was able to incorporate these superior experienced into its own app, giving guests the ability to choose their preferred type of room and location – such as close to the stairs or lift.

Calpin says they may even take this a step further with some properties able to offer guests the option to pick their actual room. It’s all part of offering an experience, which can nurture brand loyalty and up the convenience factor.

Other ways it has been able to improve convenience and win back bookings is allowing users to use their Hilton app as a digital key – meaning no waiting at the front desk –and as a tool to check in and check out.

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Consider restricting inventory outside of your own hotel distribution channels

The InterContinental Hotels Group says it made a simple switch to start winning back bookings from aggregators – it ring fenced some of its inventory, limiting the number of rooms third parties had access to. The limited inventory means fewer rooms sold wholesale, allowing InterContinenal and its hotel brands such as Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn peace of mind that its rooms won’t be found cheaper elsewhere. This gives the brand freedom to offer its best rates via its own hotel booking engine.

This was backed by a new focus on the customer experience, again delivered via app. The hotel chain’s loyalty app makes life more convenient for the guest, granting access to Wi-Fi with no need to request a code from front desk. In addition, it says it’s piloting a new feature in China which will act as a beacon, showing guests available services and offers as they make their way around the hotel itself.

Visit customisation

Giving visitors a fully personalized and customised service can also help win back bookings from aggregators – by again playing to the convenience factor that guests look for when booking a hotel. InterContinental allows users to have two app profiles, one for business travel and one for leisure trips.

In the USA, the app can be used for custom access to services such as room service. The hotel chain says these changes have seen it increase direct bookings in the USA with two out of three now made directly.

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Choosing the right digital partner for your hotel business can be a complex, time-consuming and confusing process. With so many agencies all claiming to know the hotel business best, how do you know how to choose?
Digital Hotelier is different. With a team of hotel marketing specialists and our own advanced booking engine, proven to help increase direct bookings, we know exactly what it takes to boost your revPar, generate more direct bookings and reduce dependence on OTAs. We also know how to create user-friendly hotel websites and have a crack team of digital marketing experts for SEO, social media and mobile app marketing.
All in all, it’s fair to say that Digital Hotelier is a premier partner offering tried and tested services to hotel marketers and hoteliers who seek to enhance the effectiveness of their online marketing channels in order to boost revenue and enhance their web presence.
Here are the top 3 reasons to partner with Digital Hotelier in order to grow your hotel’s channel revenue:
1. Our Varied Hotel Distribution Channels Solutions
Few companies can boast as many varied and customisable options for growing your channel revenue as Digital Hotelier. Whatever your needs, we have the hotel distribution channels to suit.
Hotel Website Design:
Digital Hotelier can provide you with an exemplary hotel website design which delivers your guests with a superior first point of contact. Fully branded and with SEO optimisation as standard, our digital designers and UX specialists create clean, easy to use websites which make a great first impression.
Hotel Booking Engine:
In need of a fantastic booking engine which helps power your hotel to increased bookings success? Then look no further than Digital Hotelier! We can create a custom-built, fully integrated hotel booking engine for your hotel, including a fully optimised guest journey from start to finish. This also ensures a personalised booking experience so you can use customer data more efficiently for marketing in future.
Rate Comparison Tool:
The ideal way to demonstrate your hotel’s superior value next to the competition, the rate comparison tool from Digital Hotelier helps to make the most of your hotel’s value proposition as well as boosting revenue through direct sales.
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2. Our Superb Hotel Digital Marketing Services
Digital marketing is an essential component of any successful hotel’s marketing strategy and essential to your hotel distribution channels performance. Here at Digital Hotelier we have the expertise and experience to help make the very best of your hotel’s digital efforts. Whether seeking to undertake a paid advertising campaign for instant exposure, improve your online presence with optimisation for organic search results and increased traffic, boost your online reputation through reputation marketing or aggregate rates and reviews with meta search so as to increase exposure, grow revenue and get more online bookings, Digital Hotelier can help.
3. Our Fantastic Value for Money
At Digital Hotelier, we know that value for money matters in the busy hotel trade, and that’s why we offer all of our services at superb competitive rates, meaning you’ll never have to worry about feeling short-changed! Get in touch with us today to find out more or request a demo of our booking engine.
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Booking Engine
With the rise of multi-channel marketing opportunities, hotels have increasingly varied channels for generating online bookings. Your website should be central amongst these methods, as the hub of all hotel-related activity and the home of your hotel website booking engine. How can you ensure that among your hotel distribution channels, your website is the strongest tool? Read on to find out a few key actions to take to make this a reality.

Understand Your Target Market
Understand that different market segments have different requirements, different types of web browsing and both online and offline methods of booking accommodation. Decide which particular market or markets you are seeking to target, and take a proactive approach to selecting relevant hotel distribution channels. This will help you optimise your marketing to suit each audience type at different stages of the buyer journey. Early bookings are often generated directly from your website booking engine, whilst late bookings may be more difficult to plan for, but often result in higher revenue.

Use SEO to Your Advantage
It’s vital to ensure your website stands out from the competition. Establishing a solid SEO strategy will help you to generate not only traffic, but the right sort of traffic, to your website – and maximize booking potential for the future. Consider taking out paid social advertising or PPC (pay per click) at key times of the year to drive an increase in room reservations.

SEO

Optimise Your Social Networks
Ensuring you consistently engage with your customers via your social channels is one of the best ways to achieve the trust and repeat custom of those who have a vested interest in your accommodation. If they’ve followed you on social media, they already know a little about you and are interested in either making a first time booking or a repeat visit. Either way, this is a great way of building the sort of brand loyalty which leads to both outcomes.

Build Your Direct Booking Strategy
Focusing on direct bookings should be a central facet of your hotel distribution channel strategy. There are many reasons for this, including alleviating your reliance on online travel agents and third-party websites. There is also the potential for far greater profit margins as a result of removing the hefty commission these channels often require in return for publishing your hotel. Ensuring your website is fully optimised for handling bookings of all kinds – with a mobile friendly design– will go a long way towards preventing loss of business due to poor usability.

Keep Your Booking Engine Simple
Your booking engine should be fully integrated into your existing web design. Whilst ‘add-ons’ and customization of bookings is great, the overall effect should be easy to use and crucially, secure. Let user experience drive all of your efforts to create a solid online presence which places your website at the very forefront of your efforts.
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Digital Marketing
Fundamentally, the aim of a hotelier is simple – to fill as many rooms at their hotel as possible and drive up revenue from the property. However, when you break down how to achieve that it inevitably becomes more complicated – to boost direct bookings effectively, a hotel must strive to build solid relationships with present, past and future guests in order to encourage them to repeat their journeys through the customer lifecycle.

Digital Channel

How can you successfully do this? Well, it’s not easy; rarely anything worthwhile in business is. However, by taking advantage of all the marketing opportunities available today (especially digitally speaking), key customer segments can be caught and focused on at critical points in the journey via a multichannel marketing campaign.

Specifically, such a campaign can reach pre-existing and potential customers across different moments via a regular, cohesive brand message, while shifting distribution power away from online travel agents (OTAs), increasing guests’ stay duration, improving average daily rate (ADR) and, overall of course, achieving previously unattained returns.
 
The five questions
To kick-off planning a successful multichannel campaign then, you’re best advised to address the five ‘W’s:
  • 1. Who is your audience? To answer this and to work out what the emotional and practical association people make with your brand, study your guest data via website analytics, customer research and previous campaign insights
 
  • 2. What will the campaign contain? Crafting its cohesive message and narrative across the various channels requires studying your customer insights
 
  • 3. When will the campaign take place? Calculate timing based on when’s best to reach your target segment in the booking window you’re aiming to use
 
  • 4. Where are you going to hold your campaign? What’s your marketing mix going to be – website, social media, app alerts, email shots and print ads?
 
  • 5. Why are you actually holding the campaign? Don’t overlook, let alone forget, your ultimate goals – to be measured by performance metrics and KPIs – across all channels and at every touch-point along the way.
 
Best practices
So how can you best run a multichannel campaign to drive up those much desired bookings through direct hotel distribution channels? Here are some ideas:
  • 1. Make sure your budget for the campaign is flexible enough to stretch across the multiple channels you’re planning to use
 
  • 2. Analyse your CRM data to work out how your customer demographics break-down – based on their make-up and online behaviours, which channel will be best to reach each of them?
 
  • 3. Ensure your campaign isn’t just cross-channel-friendly but cross-device-ready – that means it must work on smartphones and tablets as well as PCs
 
  • 4. Don’t forget your overall message has to be cohesive, while also resonating with pre-existing and potential guests and their individual passion-points
 
  • And finally, the devil’s in the detail; the digital technology and analytics you’ll be relying on have to be up to the task – they’ll need to be able to effectively track and optimise conversions; it’s the aim of the whole exercise, after all!
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