Being an independent hotel or smaller brand can be tough when it comes to online bookings. You’re competing against hotels and travel companies with much bigger budgets, fuller marketing teams, and many other advantages. It can feel a bit unfair at times. But just because your a small, independent hotel doesn’t mean you can’t beat the big guys.
Make the most of Metasearch
Metasearch is, in many ways, a tool that helps you “level the playing field”. You’re placed alongside bigger travel companies and OTAs to compete for direct bookings. If you have a good strategy in place, you should be able to beat the other guys by winning on rates when potential guests shop via metasearch and get those guests to book with you.
Check your rankings every day on metasearch sites, like TripAdvisor and Google. Check on rate parity to make sure no one is undercutting you. Make sure you’re keeping the advantage for your direct sources. Then, consider investing in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.
Use your size to your advantage
You can’t fight with the big brands, they have more marketing power and more capital, but what you can do is make sure each guest has a great experience and becomes an evangelist for your hotel. Building loyalty this way is a powerful way to see returns over the lifecycle of a guest.
As a smaller hotel, you have more control over the guest experience. Use it! Smaller hotels have it easier here because they have more control over every aspect of the experience. Use a CRM to make sure that every touch point in the guest journey is covered: pre-arrivals, on-property, and post-stay.
Capitalize on upsells
Upsells can really help enhance the guest experience because then the property and the guests know what to expect when they arrive.
For example, early check-in or late check-out offers can drive incremental revenue and they have the added benefit of giving the hotel an idea of when the guest will arrival or what their departure plans are.
You can also offer other perks based on the guest. A birthday set up in the room, with balloons and a slice of cake, is a nice touch. You could also offer a romantic set up like roses and champagne for a special occasion, or amenities for kids, like milk and cookies on arrival or a special set up with a tent and some kids toys. Upsell approaches like these make the guest feel special and provide value for the hotel.
Room upgrades are another great source of upsell revenue. Give your guests a chance to experience a higher category room that would otherwise have been perishable inventory at a better rate than they would have gotten had they booked it originally. It’s a win-win for the hotel and the guest, and maybe next time they will book that higher category room directly (and pay the full premium) because they loved it on their last stay.
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Ultimately, for small hotels, the job is tough. You need to be pragmatic. Focus on what you can control, like trying to drive more direct bookings from your database. Get people who booked on OTAs to book direct the next time they stay. Communicate special offers throughout the year and target your guests based on their loyalty to the property, demographics, etc. For example, use insights like Revinate Database Insights to help you target and achieve more direct bookings.
Make sure every guest has a good stay and that those guests review you on TripAdvisor and other metasearch sites, creating a virtuous circle of word of mouth and referrals that will drive business.