Tech Needs - Only the essentials for hotel sales and distribution
Where to start - Don't let your systems get in a tangle.
It's so easy to focus on where you want to be, rather than from where you actually are. Your head will always be several steps, or in some cases kilometres, ahead of where your feet actually are - it's human nature to think forward, however this could cause problems in the future if there isn't strong footings and foundations.
It's so easy to hear how suppliers can give you the full 365 degree approach to online bookings and sales - but it's of no use unless you have had the chance to fully measure and understand the impact of each aspect and channel to truly optimise it's performance. The hotel earns its position by constantly developing its service and offering to its guests, understanding each aspect of the hotel and its provisions to deliver the best possible service. This should also go for how you handle the sales process; truly understand where your guests are coming from and how to bring the most bookings at the best rate for your hotel revenue. It won't be earned overnight, so expect to work towards understanding each aspect of the online sales process and the opportunities available for your hotel.
It's important to give yourself time and see what works best for your hotel before trying to do everything. This will lead to clear guaranteed results from which you can build, build and build.
So where do you start?
1 - Your website: you need to begin developing your direct sales.
Show your partners that you really mean business; that you won't just rely on them for bookings, but that you have the resources and the technology to earn them for yourself
- Create a simple, sleek and effective website that is visible on search engines for any keyword
- Ensure the booking process for travellers is easy and smooth.
- Your website should have a minimum 30% transition rate (percentage of visitors clicking through from your website to your booking engine). Otherwise you just lose every other visitor to a competitor
- Your website should show your hotel rates that are available on OTAs which allows the customer to compare prices immediately without visiting other websites. Make sure to include a price widget in your website.
2 - Your booking engine: make sure your website visitors can book across any device; be it a laptop, tablet or mobile - you want to secure bookings whenever you can.
The process needs to be short, simple and secure.
- Easy-to-use-and-checkout: booking engines will allow you to create a range of packages with flights, transfers, car rentals that can compete with travel agents and OTAs, so find a booking engine that gives you that flexibility. Make your website a mini-OTA!
- The booking engine should be able to analyse the needs of the guests and recommend the best suitable options dynamically.
- The booking engine must be very fast and have a one-step booking process to boast conversion rate. The longer the steps and the process, the more you will lose visitors and bookings to either booking.com or a competitor.
- Your booking engine should show your prices on other OTAs. Make sure to include a price widget in your smart booking engine.
- Your booking engine should connect to your PMS and channel manager, two-way connectivity means that every time there is a reservation the data is automatically recorded, and whenever you change the rates and package it is instantly updated and reflected on your website.
3 - Your distribution of room rates and availability - Once your website and booking engine is in place now it's time to expand your sales network.
You have your traditional travel agents - and no doubt you have agreed targets and rates with them, by selecting 5 - 10 online travel agents you can now ensure that all availability is assigned to increase occupancy throughout the year making the most of the quieter months, while also identifying new markets where you do not yet have a travel agent supplier
- Simple to use CRS with pool inventory and automatic rate and allocation management features where you can update rates and availability for all room-types for all connected online travel agent websites.
- Your channel manager embedded CRS should connect to all your chosen OTAs and work in real-time with two-way connectivity, which means your rates will always be correct across all channels and when a room is booked you know about it immediately to avoid over-booking.
- Eliminate the reliance on b2b channels that sell your rooms online via B2C platforms, they are likely to publish your lesser b2b rates online and therefore give you competition against your own rates as these will compete with your BAR rate.
Selecting technology: don't complicate matters through multiple suppliers
Find a supplier that understands your business; what your goals are and how they can help you realise these aims. By using a single supplier from the beginning you will not have to worry if the technology can speak to each other, you can solely focus that the return of investment is beneficial to your hotel and ensure you are always building success.
You may outgrow the company, or the company may just continue to give more and more. But when starting out - keep it simple and focus on the revenue.
Beyond the basics
Once you know that your website, booking engine and OTA bookings and partnerships are in order, it will be time to start looking closer in the market. The next three steps are (that will be explored in a follow up blog):
- GDS and IDS connectivity: ensure your hotel is more highly visible to traditional travel agents to optimise booking performance
- Rate data and market comparison: Assess the performance of competitors and other hotels to understand the market and optimise price; this data will keep you competitive all year long.
- Digital Marketing - improve the visibility of your website and direct bookings through investing in SEO and PPC; this will further help you leverage the investment made in your new website.
- Meta Search Marketing – offer your hotel website rates through PPC campaigns in the meta search channels of Trivago, Tripadvisor, Google Hotel Ads, Skyscanner, and other metas
Speak to BookLogic today and ask about the Hotel Bookings Entry Package to get your online bookings working for your hotel.