If you manage an independent hotel, B&B, or inn, you have a lot of marketing and technology challenges today, and keeping up with the latest trends can be a full-time job. On top of that, the market is very competitive; guests have a lot of information at their fingertips when it comes to making travel choices.
To succeed in this market and earn the business of savvy travelers, it’s a must to put marketing and technology together. As you walk through each stage of the guest journey, there are many ways in which this can be done.
The Search. As you read this, imagine your next potential guest is on a phone or computer planning details of their next trip. After a few conversations with family and friends, they’ve jumped into Google where their search for “Places to stay in [your location]” begins. As they investigate their options, they see that your website booking engine page offers a lower rate than the other OTA listings they looked at. Your property is off to a good start.
So how did your property accomplish this? With Google Hotel Free Booking Links and Hotel Ads. When you leverage this exposure on the world’s largest search engine, you can acquire more direct bookings straight from Google Search and funnel travelers immediately into your brand’s booking engine. This means they can skip the detour through non-branded and non-bookable website pages (like they would on OTAs) and finalize their purchase without delay. You win!
To enable this scenario, you need to complete some preliminary steps. First, your onsite reservation software and booking engine must be connected to Google Hotels platform through their integration. Then you need to be approved by Google before being listed in Google’s general search and on Google Maps.
The First Impression. Of course, not every traveler will book through Google. Many will need to gain some trust beforehand, and a stop at your website is their next step. The most successful businesses have a website that’s fully optimized for the search terms their ideal travelers will be using. Modern websites for today’s travelers are simple, mobile-first, and offer dynamic opportunities for travelers to book direct.
Savvy hoteliers understand that their booking engine is the backbone of the online reservation process. They know their website should incorporate solutions like embedded calendar widgets, individual unit calendars, ADA accessible search filters, multiple rates, and a variety of custom fields to collect guest insights that will assist staff in personalizing the guest experience.
A key time saver here is to work with a vendor whose property management system updates the booking engine, OTAs, and your brand website with room rates, descriptions, and photos all at once. Also, consider adding exit intent technology and booking engine abandonment tools to stay close to those travelers who are shopping around.
Accommodating Their Stay. So, you’ve gained the trust of the traveler and earned their business. Now is where you set yourself apart from the property next door. Once you’ve captured the reservation from your online booking engine you should be showering your guest with love via email and SMS text messages. Send them early registration cards, offer room upgrades, and invite them to join your loyalty program to earn additional perks and rewards. And don’t worry, all of this can be automated through your property management software and various triggers you set to enhance the guest stay.
Also, allow your marketing team to be creative in their promotional offer leading up to the stay. And after your guests leave, express gratitude for their stay and get them on the hook again with an offer and social media post to encourage them to follow you!
The Missing Link. What is often overlooked in the discussion above is the staff and resources that go into making all this possible. Never overlook the value of partnering with the right vendor that can act as an extension of your staff, not just deliver a piece of software. A vendor that specializes in servicing hotels, B&Bs, and inns will understand the whole guest journey, from the beginning of online searches to maximizing on post-stay communication. They should also take advantage of associations like the California Association of Boutique & Breakfast Inns (CABBI) and the California Hotel & Lodging Association (CHLA) to connect with their peers and meet with lodging operators face-to-face.
In turn, hoteliers should test these vendors, talk to them about their solutions, and demo and measure their products and services. As an independent lodging operator, ensure yourself that you have the best combination of marketing and technology to grow your business and simplify operations.
Achieving success in the hospitality industry today requires hoteliers stay aware of the many key elements of marketing and technology. We have only uncovered a few of them in this article, but if we have piqued your interest, contact us at www.rezstream.com for a deeper conversation. We love to share our knowledge.
By understanding your target audience, utilizing data, and continuously innovating, you can build a strong foundation for success and ensure your property remains competitive in today’s challenging environment. Good luck!