The hospitality landscape has changed. Travellers are looking for a different kind of stay than they were a couple of years ago. As markets start to reopen, the focus is on being proactive and more creative with providing relevant information for guests. When trying to influence demand, many hotels and OTA’s traditionally focus on scarcity and urgency. However, savvy travellers are aware that hotels are experiencing lower demand. In the 2020 summer, we saw that hotels offering unique packages for different guest segments significantly outperformed hotels that didn’t have these personalised packages. Providing a more personalised messaging experience will lead to hotels gaining an advantageous position in the market.
Preparing for reopening
A recent survey in the UK by the Scottish Friendly and Centre for Economics and Business Research found that there is pent-up demand for travel spending. With more money saved up over the past year, 34% of people surveyed who want to spend more in 2021, said that they plan to spend their money on overseas travel and accommodation. 29% of people also said that they were planning to spend on domestic travel. This increased demand is returning in the coming period. It is key that your hotel is prepared for this and gives confidence to your guests that they should book through your website.
In preparation for reopening, our partner Guestline hosted a webinar with Hotelchamp clients Anthony Rawlings, Revenue & Reservations Manager at Dolan Hotels and Gordon Cartwright, General Manager of Lumley Castle. Anthony and Gordon shared their expertise on the current challenges facing hoteliers and the strategies to tackle these.
Offering flexibility and reassurance
The number one topic of interest guests are looking for these days is flexibility, Anthony shared. Dolan Hotels are finding that their guests are not booking anything that is not refundable unless they have the option to adjust their booking later. Although each rate is specified with particular policies, not all guests actually take the time to read these. In order to provide full clarity for their guests, Dolan Hotels uses personalised messaging with this information.
Personalised messaging across hotel websites provides touchpoints with your guests and allows you as a hotelier to give certainty. Gordon added to this by emphasising the need to build reassurance. He shared that hotels should be upfront and open with guests about the options of amending their stays.
Flexibility is important to travellers. Make sure to highlight your policies clearly, especially in the booking process, to reassure them.
Keeping guests informed
Dolan Hotels, located in Jersey, reopens to the UK market on April 26. However, they also have guests from Europe that have different travel restrictions. To ensure the relevant travel information is visible to their guests, Dolan Hotels have used geotargeted inline messages. Based on the location of their website visitors travel advice is displayed, helping to build confidence with their guests.
For guests searching from Europe, specific inline messaging is shown on the Dolan Hotels homepage with travel information.
Dynamic inline messaging in the Dolan Hotels booking engine provides travel information to travellers who are based in the UK.
Reassuring your guests
After the first lockdowns, there were many learnings on what information is useful to guests. Lumley Castle has shifted their approach to a mindset of fully embracing reassurance. Gordon mentioned that he believes that guests now also expect this behaviour from a hotel.
A great example of how Lumley Castle provides high-level transparency to their guests is displayed below. Based on the date selection, a guest will see a personalised message with the services available during their stay. A date close by shows that the spa is closed and there is no indoor dining due to restrictions. Looking at dates further ahead, different messages are shown.
Based on the guest’s date selection, an overview is shown of the current restrictions and what that means for their stay.
A big focus point in these personalised messages is welcoming guests to your venue. Adding extra context about what their experience will be like when arriving can already be started during their online journey. For example, due to social distancing restrictions, Dolan Hotels currently have limited capacity in their restaurants. During the booking process, guests see a message that informs them about the limited dining availability. In the same message, guests are encouraged to contact the hotel to make a dining reservation. Again, the transparency in messaging and providing the relevant information is not to be underestimated.
Adding more context in the booking engine when relevant is a great way to inform your guests about what to expect during their stay.
Personalising offers for guest segments
Knowing who your target audiences are and also understanding what these audiences are asking for now is crucial. It’s important to be able to adapt to the market’s thinking and expectations. Be proactive in creating exciting packages that will be communicated to the relevant target audience. For example, targeting local couples with a distinctive package grabs the attention of a guest searching for a shorter length stay with 2 adults. Meanwhile, a website visitor looking for a stay with 4 people will see a different offer being promoted, more applicable for their stay.
A Date Night package appears in an inline message when searching for a 2 person stay.
To create these packages, look at value add-ons for your guests to encourage them to book directly through your hotel website. This is preferable to offering substantial discounts. Firstly, review the value-added items you already have available, such as a complimentary late check-out, a kids toy or a welcome drink. These items are low cost and will help translate the hospitality standards you have at your front desk, to your hotel website that your guests will experience online.
A family package is shown in the booking engine for travellers that select 4 guests.
Set up personalised messaging on your website
Taking the time to implement personalised messaging will help your hotel as you prepare to reopen. Relevant messaging on your website and booking engine will help to build guest confidence as they start travelling again. To get started, focus on your key guest segments, such as families or couples, as well as any location-specific information that could help reassure your guests.
To learn more about using personalised messaging to grow guest confidence, view the Guestline webinar with Dolan Hotels and Lumley Castle here.
For more information on how to implement these strategies on your hotel website, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.