7 Booking Engine Hacks Every Revenue Manager Should Know
In the hotel industry we all understand the importance of achieving more direct bookings in order to increase net profitability and reduce reliance, and commission fees, to OTAs. One part of this strategy is of course your marketing but what about when the traffic actually reaches your booking engine. Are you maximising this experience in order to increase bookings? Use these 7 tips to make a positive impact on your e-commerce sales and improve your direct revenue.
1. Flex The Rate To Incentivise Shoulder Night Stays
Saturdays for most hotels are the strongest night of the week when it comes to occupancy and average rate, however in most cases Fridays & Sundays move in the opposite direction. How can you incentivise guests to extend their stay by 1 night on a shoulder date? One idea is to create a 2 night package that reduces the rate on the shoulder nights by 15% – 20% and increases the Saturday by the same percentage. The lowered rate on shoulder nights will give people the added benefit with better value in their mind.
2. Is Your Availability Balancing?
Have you upcoming events in your area , perhaps a concert or a wedding? Are you maximising availability in the hotel for these dates. It could be worth putting a minimum 2-night stay as this type of business may displace your regular business. Monitor your online packages available over such dates, removing room only & advance purchase rates to ensure you are maximising the strongest available average room rate.
3. Are You Maximising Your Packages Online?
When a customer performs a general search on your website what is the first package they see on that specific date? Is it Bed & Breakfast or Dinner Bed & Breakfast? How can you lead the guest into booking a package whether it includes dinner, afternoon tea or a spa treatment? Is the package name clear and precise for someone who only reads it once? Is the description and associated image really selling the experience? Also remember when viewing a rate plan on mobile, the rate plan description may be shortened or not visible at all so the rate plan name needs to be as descriptive as possible.
4. Create An Advance Purchase Rate
By selling discounted advance purchase rates for early-bird bookers, you can improve your short-term cash flow by collecting full prepayment. This will also help reduce your cancellations rate.
5. Implement Urgency Messages
Urgency is similar to scarcity in that it taps into our inner FOMO (fear of missing out). A limited time offer is a highly effective marketing strategy that can often turn a looker into a booker. People love limited sales, just look at the continued success of Black Friday. See this example where one of our hotels ran a 7 day sale and used a countdown clock to show the days and minutes left on the offer in real-time.
6. Does The Advertised Price Online Match The Final Booking Price?
Hotels are serial offenders for advertising a price through online and & offline campaigns and then when a potential customer comes to book, the price has increased dramatically on the payment page. If you are going to invest time and money into a campaign, please ensure the actual advertised rate is available across multiple dates with the availability to match.
Another recommendation would be to load separate availability for this specific campaign which allow you to monitor and top up any key demand dates as you require. If availability becomes very limited it will drive high no availability searches and guests will become increasingly frustrated.
7. Enhancements, Enhancements, Enhancements!!
Have you reviewed the enhancements you sell online currently? Are you cross selling the different offerings of your property? Have you matched your enhancements with packages – Champagne with Romantic Breaks, Spa Treatments with Relaxing Breaks. Enhancements are a final opportunity to upsell online – incentivise the price & enhancement the guests experience at your hotel.
Audit your enhancements regularly – are their certain enhancements which are selling and those which are not. To sell an enhancement at time of booking the guest needs to feel that it is better value to do it here and now rather than when they arrive at the hotel.
Spending money driving traffic to your website without thinking of the user experience on the booking engine is a recipe for disaster. Successful revenue managers implement booking engine strategies that work for their target audience. Tell us about your tips in the comments below.