The last 24 hours passed by at lightning speed. Just yesterday the team and I were on our way to the much-anticipated World Travel Market (WTM) in autumnal London. Bright and early this morning, we joined over 5,000 exhibitors and 50,000 travel and hospitality professionals from around the world to officially kick off the 37th annual WTM. In between meeting hoteliers, attending dynamic educational sessions, and listening to keynote speakers, we were busy ducking in and out of presentation booths to be able to report on the day’s highlights for you, the busy hotelier.
This is our day-one wrap-up, with a summary of the three main topics that kept popping up throughout the day’s events and in our personal discussions with hoteliers. Consider these while re-thinking your hotel business in the months ahead and set yourself up for even greater success next year.
Travellers are clicking around — give them a reason to book direct instead
This morning, Edward Lines from Google reminded us just how connected to technology we are. According to him, the average person unlocks their phone 150 times per day.
What are they doing online? Typically, people kill time and alleviate boredom on a variety of social media sites throughout the day. They’re looking at arresting photos and reading captivating headlines, and then visiting the linked sites, apps, and articles. Edward calls these fleeting minutes of social media browsing and bouncing “micro-moments.”
The good news for you is that one of the main subjects pursued in these micro-moments is travel.
And when they’ve got travel in mind, a person might visit roughly 20 websites to discover, research, and become inspired. But when they’re ready to book their accommodations, they get a bit frustrated. This is indicated by the 20+ additional hotel websites that the average traveller visits before booking their stay. Clearly, travellers are clicking around.
So it’s time you differentiate yourself from the competition and encourage travellers to book with you directly on your website—starting with the functionality of your website. Richard Hatter of Hotel Icon in Hong Kong suggested that you change your website from iOS to HTML 5 for greater ease of navigation and an intuitive, seamless booking process. And if that sounds a bit too technical for you, try these tips instead.
People are attracted to people, not just places
Now more than ever, travellers crave an experience. Trips to the typical tourist traps no longer satiate the masses, and businesses large and small are taking notice. Increasingly, apps and start-up companies are working with locals to create memorable moments for travellers. The goal? To humanise travel in a world that is increasingly digitalised.
Mario Hardy from the Pacific Asia Tourism Association (PATA) told us that people want local, authentic experiences, and to share them with others. Digital technology is what enables us to make this happen.
Apps and companies that let you book a local driver instead of a cab and eat a home-cooked meal with locals rather than alone in a restaurant are gaining popularity for one very specific reason: They combine our constant state of digital connectivity with our desire to connect with people. These travel experiences are spontaneous, perfect for travellers on whirlwind trips, and completely authentic and personal. They immerse us in a local context we may otherwise have missed.
Take advantage of your location’s natural beauty when taking and posting photos, and engage with your local scene to offer guests a unique experience. Be personable when sharing your hotel’s story on social media, and be inviting and familiar with guests to make them feel at home.
For successful independent hotels, marketing is a digital affair
Of all the talks, events, and demonstrations that took place today at WTM London, the hotel marketing strategy shared by Richard Hatter is the most valuable to hoteliers like you.
Richard runs the Hotel ICON in the exceptionally competitive Hong Kong hospitality market. An independent hotel and a relatively new player on the scene, Hotel ICON is nevertheless the number-one accommodation in Hong Kong when it comes to highest RevPar (revenue per available room) in the region. And that has everything to do with the hotel’s digital marketing efforts and the amount of focus and budget that Richard’s team puts towards PR activities.
Richard suggests combining search engine marketing (SEM) with search engine optimization (SEO) and metasearch marketing to achieve top placement online. But don’t stop there. Use technology to really understand the type of traveller your hotel is attracting online. Take advantage of your website’s analytics tool to gain key insights into the demographic visiting your site.
To grow your business further, target a hyper-connected audience through a mix of online marketing campaigns that will bring them to your website. Richard recommends a combination of banner ads that present themselves to potential travellers as they navigate the web, coupled with savvy video advertising (hello, YouTube) and targeted ads on Facebook, utilizing the social media site’s Lookalike Audience algorithm.
To further inspire travellers to book instead of bounce, content marketing plays a big role in Hotel ICON’s digital marketing strategy. Enticing images and alluring descriptions portray a lifestyle that can be experienced by staying there. And to capture that direct booking, they’ve created a powerful message that appears to guests who linger on the page.
Wouldn’t you like to gain more direct bookings and cut the commissions you’ve grown far too used to paying? Follow our key takeaways from WTM this week as we post them for independent hoteliers here, live from the ExCel in London. Can’t wait to get started on improving your hotel’s metasearch marketing? We’ve got a free metasearch platform for you. Register your hotel today at trivago.com/hotelmanager