In the hotel industry, it’s sometimes hard to step back from the daily grind and look forward several months. However, reports for most markets show that users are booking more and more in advance. As far as online marketing is concerned, that means it’s more important than ever to think to the future.
In addition, STR reports that hotel demand in 2011 appears to be on the rise. Taking into consideration this increase in demand plus the trend towards online travel bookers searching earlier, it’s already time to plan for summer!
Here are a few opportunities we suggest your hotel revenue team discuss ASAP to get the most out of Revenue for Q2 & Q3:
Advance Purchase Management
Is Advance Purchase your top performing hotel package code? While it’s great to get rooms on the books early, you should evaluate your advance purchase inventory and make sure you aren’t giving up rooms that you could easily sell for BAR. Remember, if your inventory is open on your official brand website, it’s also selling on your already discounted OTA sites as well. Start protecting your ADR for the summer early.
Package Rates on OTAs
Where are Advance Purchase shoppers found most often? Shopping for Room + Flight Deals! If you are interested in getting rooms on the books early, load package rates! Since consumers are typically familiar with the rise in airline prices the closer one gets to the departure date, this market segment will most likely book 1-2 months in advance. It’s best to have inventory loaded, even if you leave your rate at BAR.
If your hotel is in a market where summer may be a slow period, discounts on your package rates are a great opportunity. These package discounts are opaque and thus completely within most hotel brands’ rules for participation. In addition, they are often supported by free advertising and merchandising from the major OTAs. Contact your OTA market manager to discuss these sales soon; if you wait you may miss your opportunity.
Another market segment that could already be searching for rooms for summer are international travelers. According to travel.usatoday.com, international fares have increased from an average $1,675/flight in 2009 to $1,795/flight in 2010. With an increase in airfare such as this, travelers may be very responsive to discounted rates on international sites like Expedia.uk or Booking.com. Ask your market manager at the OTAs to check if your hotel is signed up for international rates and opportunities that may be available for sales or promotions.
Summer Attractions & Packages
Of course the majority of your demand in the summer is due to the plethora of things to do in your market when it’s sunny and warm and students are out of school. Sit down with your online marketing manager and provide a list of attractions users will be frequenting. Your marketing manager will help you plan strategies to promote these packages online.
Adding these events and attractions to your PPC keywords and SEO strategy will help bring more traffic to your site, but don’t stop there. We suggest building packages that will help this market segment convert. One suggestion that can work for multiple event guests would be a “Gas up and Go” package, which includes a gas gift card along with the hotel booking. These packages are becoming increasingly more attractive to consumers as gas prices continue to rise and effect the overall budget for a vacation.
Consumers are not only booking further out, they are spending more time gathering information before making their decision. The very final suggestion we can make is to review your overall online presence.
Audit your photos throughout the year–do they appeal to summer travelers? Check your reviews–have you responded to any reviews that may negatively impact someone’s choice to book your hotel? We cannot emphasize the importance of good reviews and visual media enough.
Summer is often one of the highest demand seasons for hotels; don’t forget this as you’re working on occupancy during your spring months. And don’t delay, there are plenty of consumers out there already looking for hotels. Make sure your hotel is the one they choose!