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.
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.
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.